Saturday, September 28, 2013


One of my frivolous entertainments during my morning coffee has to be reading a certain newspaper's online comment boards. When I read a few days ago that Popular Science magazine has eliminated the comments section on its website, my reaction was "good for you... I hope more online magazines and papers follow your example".

I like seeing and reading readers' educated and thoughtful analyses after some articles, but unfortunately, too many are comments posted through adrenaline: Anger, hostility, and hate. Mixed with outright ignorance, that combination makes for a potent mix... and laughs.


As I've suggested in previous postings, like this (here), I hope the Toronto Sun continues to allow comments on their online version of their 'paper'.


Look at this; something I 'clipped' from a certain article's comments section. This may sum things up perfectly. An incredibly hostile reaction by a Sunny to a straightforward observation by another reader...

"Margaret Laurence has a body of work, that does challenge literature students. she is woman, she is Canadian and his colleagues do teach her writings"

--- he does not teach CaN LIT nor does he have to!!! YOU do not impose your views on everyone!! Not everyone wants to read CanLIT! Get it??

A disproportionate response? I'd say so. I take great pleasure, as childish as it may be, from reading idiotic comments like that.

The Washington Post...
YouTube makes over its comments; Popular Science just shuts them off

Friday, September 27, 2013


Earlier in the week I watched Morgan Spurlock's 2011 documentary Comic Con Episode IV: A Fan's Hope, a fine and fun look at the San Diego-based Comic Con (2010 edition) and several fans who make a point to attend with their enthusiasm and, in some cases, their wares.

The day after watching the doc I did my usual quick research on the film of the moment. Harry Knowles was one of the its interview subjects; no surprise, after all he is one of the key figures in pop geekdom. I read up on King Geek himself and learned the unfortunate news that his popular and trend-setting website "Ain't It Cool News" ain't so popular anymore, was heavily in debt, and was very close to closing a few months ago.

An in-depth and absorbing story by The Hollywood Reporter...

Ain't It Cool's Harry Knowles: The Cash-Strapped King of the Nerds Plots a Comeback

Thursday, September 26, 2013


I was in Indigo Books yesterday and stumbled upon a book I have blogged about before (here). It's a poster book comprising artwork for all 79 episodes of Star Trek. The artist is Juan Ortiz, and he understood how to do the job right... after being commissioned by CBS.

The book "The Art of Juan Ortiz: Star Trek" is a beauty. And I found it quite overpowering in its art-ness. Not only are the final full-page episode posters inside but so too are concept pencil sketches.

Here's a review of the book...
The Art of Juan Ortiz: Star Trek -- A Geek Book Review
By Andrew Liptak


The Globe and Mail newspaper online had some sad news.

When I saw the headline "Veteran Loblaws pitchman dies at 73" on the top page I thought, "no, they don't mean Dave Nichol..."

Like many Canadians of a minimum age -- old enough to remember the early-mid 1970s -- I remember when Dave Nichol took over from starship captain William Shatner, who had been doing the Loblaws television commercials for a couple of years and excelling in the centre seat.

"Who's this guy?" was my utterance upon first seeing a Loblaws commercial sans the captain. Well, we got used to him very quickly and Mr. Nichol became synonymous with the grocery chain -- he had taken over as president back in 1972; his main edict: turn things (business) around.

For non-Canadians, and Canucks too young to know, David Nichol sent Loblaws to the stars.

Veteran Loblaw pitchman Dave Nichol dies at age 73

Wednesday, September 25, 2013


"A 27-year-old in Austin who earns $25,000 could pay $85 per month for health insurance next year, and a family of four in St. Louis with income of $50,000 might face a $32 monthly premium, according to new federal data on health insurance rates under the Affordable Care Act."

The above is the opening volley of a piece in today's Washington Post on the makeup of premium costs for "Obamacare". What it will cost previously uninsured Americans depends on whether or not you are single, from what sized flock you come, or from what patch you hail. Why, oh why, does that country have to base the importance of health-care according to what political mentality one is a member? Should not health support be ingrained as an essential and basic tenet in any society considered free and prosperous?

I'm blowing hot air.

A few years ago I worked with an older guy visiting from the States; we almost too naturally got onto the subject of health-care: He told me that he could not afford medical insurance; my heart sank.

Recently I watched a PBS documentary called Men Get Depression. Later in the program one of the film's subjects talked about not being able to afford the financial cost of seeing a mental health professional -- my heart sank.

How much will Obamacare premiums cost? Depends on where you live.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013


In a recent interview with BBC Radio 1's Zane Lowe, rock star Kanye West called himself the biggest rock star on the planet. (I'm assuming he means the biggest rock star on Sol-3.)

I've barely even heard of Kanye West, so how can he be the biggest rock star on the planet? (I admit that I hardly follow rock or pop music these days. Bring me back real rock and pop and stars.)

My guess, however uneducated, tells me that Mr. West has quite the astronomical ego. ("Measures, my God, over two A.U.'s in diameter. Must be something incredible inside there....")

The Toronto Star article, where I heard of this bit of news, has a warning in regards to the embedded video...

"WARNING: Video contains superstrength foul language."

You've been warned...
Kanye West calls himself the biggest rock star on the planet in BBC interview

Monday, September 23, 2013


In today's Washington Post writer Joel Achenbach pens a piece on the continuing search for extraterrestrials. On Thursday, the search dampened a bit when scientists announced that methane has not been detected in the Martian atmosphere; the NASA "Curiosity" rover has come up empty even though Earth-based telescopes and a European mars orbiter "saw" some of that essential gas in earlier observations. (Methane is often an off-gas of living organisms.)

Anyone who is interested in Mars will know of astronomer Percival Lowell and his grand proclamation back in the late 19th century that there were canals on Mars; a sure sign of intelligent life. Unfortunately, he imagined the surface markings, as did many others at the time. It's a good thing, however, that this optical illusion happened: It gave us H.G. Wells' classic novel "War of the Worlds"... ahhh... which, unfortunately, led to Steven Spielberg's horrible movie version (and unfortunately that was not an optical illusion, but painfully real).

This reminds me that on Saturday this space probe (me) watched the Space: 1999 episode "War Games". My, oh my, was it bad. That episode was fun when I was a kid. But now? Ouch. It contains the only example, that I remember, of Space having 'prosthetic makeup aliens'. Not only were they poor but they almost immediately reminded me of that great old Second City Television (SCTV) skit "Galaxy 66: The Adventures of Micron and Antar". Yes, that funny. And I was laughing on two levels: At "War Games", and remembering "Galaxy 66". (The unfortunate actors who had to don the alien get-ups were Anthony Valentine and Isla Blair. During the episode's shooting, the two characters were originally oriented so they faced one another as they spoke their dialogue in a very deliberate manner. Problems started when the two very credible British actors kept breaking up. Finally, very credible British director Charles Chrichton, of "Ealing" fame, and later of the movie A Fish Called Wanda, had had just about enough of these childish games and uttered something like: "Sod this!" He moved them so they were no longer facing each other.)

Whoa... a little off topic, I am. Back on track....

On Mars, no proof yet, but scientists’ search for extraterrestrial life continues

Sunday, September 22, 2013


This weekend I watched a thrilling 2011 Steven Soderbergh film: Haywire

Just kidding; I was hardly thrilled... more bored: Tediated (is that a word?)

The lead fists-and-feet-of-fury lass, Gina Carano, I had not heard of til I saw her name in the opening credits to Haywire. (No, I don't bother reading the DVD case insert sleeve. It's more fun that way.)

Special guest stars Michael Douglas, Antonio Banderas, Channing Tatum, and Ewan McGregor all looked a little stunned. Maybe they saw the completed film before they shot their scenes.

Now... all I have to do is find out exactly what that film was about....

Saturday, September 21, 2013


For years I would off and on think that I should try and find out the name of a highly entertaining film this aviation nut saw as a kid. On a Saturday morning back in 1973 or '74, CKVR played a movie about WW2 U.S. Naval aviators and their blimps and their interpersonal relationships (loves). I had remembered there was a strong father/son dynamic, and therefore tense relationship, as a main thrust of the story.

Early this morning I thought about the movie and decided to use the power of the Internet and a 'search'. To make a short story even shorter, the results gave me a film which immediately struck me as "the one"... "the great elusive one": The picture is This Man's Navy (1945), which featured actors Wallace Beery, Tom Drake, and James Gleason.

No surprise to me: The actioner, and 'lover', was directed by William A. Wellman. Movie fans will know he directed 1927's Wings, an entertaining Oscar-winning (the first) blockbuster which showcased superb aviation scenes featuring real aircraft. (One of my memories of This Man's Navy, was the superior 'model work'. I had thought that perhaps the Lydecker brothers, Howard and Theodore, executed them; but it was in fact A. Arnold Gllespie. The main attraction for an aviation fan, of course, was the 'flying' footage -- real or model.)

Director Wellman served in WW1 with the Lafayette Flying Corps, flying Nieuport 17s and 24s. It was only natural that a section of his eventual filmography would consist of several aviation-themed films, including This Man's Navy. (Some others: Young Eagles [1930], Central Airport [1933], The High and the Mighty [1954], and Lafayette Escadrille [1958].)

Now... I have to find a print of This Man's Navy....

This Man's Navy's_Navy

Friday, September 20, 2013


George Stroumboulopoulos and Joseph Gordon-Levitt (who?).

This morning I read some hot news in the Toronto Star: George Stroumboulopoulos and his show George Stroumboulopoulos Tonight are back on the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation). This past Monday was this season's premiere. I'm sorry I missed it.

My best Alvy Singer voice: "Ten years?! It's been on for ten years?!"

CNN gave Strombo a try on their network this past summer. Ratings were anemic, at best. No word from the network as to the status of Stroumboulopoulos.

As weak as I think George is as a host, there is some hope for George Stroumboulopoulos Tonight. As stated in the Toronto Star piece by reporter Tony Wong...

"One positive addition is the hiring of Steven Kerzner (also known as Ed the Sock) as producer of comedy content for the show. Strombo was no standup comedian and it showed during his monologues."

George Stroumboulopoulos is back with his CBC talk show

Thursday, September 19, 2013


There was a cute little ice-cream and coffee place on Bathurst Street, just south of Dupont Street, here in Toronto. I had been in there several times to grab coffee.

Just this morning I learned that Madeleine's Cherry Pie and Ice Cream closed its doors back in July. This was sad news to me in that I always find it sad when a small business goes under.

However, I'm not really surprised that this store closed: The food was way overpriced and came in tiny portions (although the coffee was reasonably priced and came in good portions); the owner was unpleasant much of the time (not a good way to be when you are trying to welcome the public and build a customer base); and, plain and simple, the location was a bad one. That part of Bathurst is a sort of 'dead zone' for small businesses... many have come and gone over the years, unable to keep the traffic coming through the doors. I know people who've lived near that intersection (Bathurst and Dupont) and they've told me that they "never go that way", that they always gravitate towards Bloor Street (an eight-to-ten minute walk).

Speaking of Bloor Street, specifically the section between Bathurst and Spadina, that's exactly where Madeleine's should have been located. Rent's are a lot higher, to put it mildly, but there is a constant flow of foot-traffic -- feet looking to grab a nice ice cream or pie, even if they are way too expensive for what you get.

Whenever I was in the store, often there was hardly another soul; sitting, or as a walk-in.


I'm not a parent, and I've never wanted to be one; but to read National Post columnist Christie Blatchford's piece on little Jeffrey Baldwin's death (sorry, "murder") almost eleven years ago is heartbreaking for me. Here's the part that most upset me, or got me on my upset way...

"The five-year-old died Nov. 30, 2002, of a lethal combination of pneumonia and septic shock, the underlying cause profound and protracted starvation."

Six adults lived in the house where the boy withered away and died, and they either were directly involved in the assault, or they did nothing. Jeffrey's maternal grandparents Elva Bottineau and Norman Kidman were eventually convicted of second degree murder.

There is a troubling lack of remorse but ample egregious behaviour from the perpetrators, all 'round.

As Grandma Smight used to say on occasion, "they should bring back the stocks!" Or, as this non-violent person says, given a story such as the above, "throw 'em to the lions!... It pleases me"....

Christie Blatchford: On the night of his death, Jeffrey Baldwin was heard ‘weeping to himself’ as he ‘waited to die’

Wednesday, September 18, 2013


Just when you thought it was safe to go to Northampton, U.K., some creepy clown there is making himself visible then scarce on a regular basis. Now, as many of you may already know, clowns are inherently creepy to a segment of the population; so the idea of a clown 'rendered' as a little more creepy (whatever that means) is something repugnant, and perhaps a little terrifying, to that 'segment'.

This clown, given the unofficial name "Northampton Clown", made its first appearance Friday the 13th. (Ooh, that rascally clown is smarter that he looks.)

I hope they catch this guy, or girl, and make him/her do community service: Free clown shows for the public, in full costume.


In the last week two friends of mine sent me emails with an attachment and the subject line "you might be interested in this".

What they were referring me to, unbeknownst to one another, is artist Juan Ortiz's commissioned artwork for each of Star Trek's seventy-nine episodes. The works are beauty.

I responded to my friends by saying "thanks!" and then adding that I have blogged a few times about the artwork in question. Shortly afterwards I decided to search within my own blog (and my Trekker self) to grab the links to my previous postings on the Star Trek posters and re-post them...

Tuesday, September 17, 2013


Richard Cohen, a columnist with the Washington Post, may have a point that, in some ways, U.S. president Barack Obama is 'acting' just like his predecessor, George W. Bush. (Just keying in that name gives me the creeps.)

The situation in Syria is what's called a "hot-spot", and for good reason, and any president of the United States of America these days seems, in my opinion, to be in an almost lose/lose situation. Did Obama act too late, not that the "act" has actually happened, at least militarily? Or, is it a good thing that U.S. military intervention has been stymied, for whatever reason?

As I get older, and hopefully smarter and wiser, I think it's best to keep one's military might away from situations like what's happening in Syria. More problems are caused than alleviated by such overt aggressive action. There is the humanitarian crisis, absolutely, but the fixation from any U.S. commander-in-chief today is to make the world a safer place for "Americans"... and others, no question. Blowing people up is hardly the answer.

Richard Cohen states in his piece today: "Obama was so fixated on not being Bush, so worried about stepping into a quagmire, that he wound up losing control of the situation."

There is no "control", dear sir....

The Washington Post...
Obama is Bush 2.0, but it’s no upgrade

Monday, September 16, 2013


Canadian airman Ted Bates.

Fresh water preserves bodies much better than does salt water, much to the surprise of many.

Back in December of 1940 two airmen died when their Northrop Nomad aircraft collided with another during a search-and-rescue mission. In 2010 the bodies of Peter Campbell, 24, of Great Britain and Canadian Ted Bates, 27, were discovered along with the broken-up plane in Lake Muskoka by OPP (Ontario Provincial Police) divers. Finally, in October of last year the bodies were recovered; and on Tuesday (tomorrow), they will be buried in Guelph, Ontario.

Campbell and Bates were part of a search looking for Leading Aircraftsman Clayton Peder Hoptonan, who had gone missing the day before during a training flight from CFB Borden.

Many men, and women, were lost during non-combat operations during WW2. Their deaths are no less tragic.

Sunday, September 15, 2013


Regular readers to this blog might have noticed that I have not posted anything in three days (since Thursday). This may be a record for me; the longest no-go since May, when I made a decision to keep the entries coming. I do have a bit of a backlog, but even those need a few minutes here and an hour there.

My excuse, I think, is a good one: I have a few freelance gigs happening right now, and two of them are nearing their delivery dates. I'm in good shape, but that's only because I've been staying away from the frivolous stuff: like updating my Facebook page and watching Tea Party videos on Youtube. I'm kidding. I have no Facebook account, the biggest time waster out there for the average person who has better things to do with their time; and I had my fill of watching 24-hour Tea Party People. Hmm, I wonder what they do with their free time? (Besides trying to read Sarah Palin's autobiography)....

Two things I enjoyed this week...

* Russian President Vladimir Putin's Op-ed piece in the New York Times...

A Plea for Caution From Russia

* Singer/songwriter legend Neil Young's "take" on the Alberta oil sands (tar sands), and especially the fall-out...

Helpless: What the Neil Young uproar says about our oil sands sensitivity

Thursday, September 12, 2013


"V'Ger requests information!"

And so do certifiable Trekkers like myself. Fans of the nuts and bolts of Star Trek will read just about anything of any integrity on the production of that classic series. I started with Stephen Whitfield's standout book "The Making of Star Trek". It still is just about the finest "making of" book out there; a full forty-five years after it was first published. The next important book of the type was Herb Solow and Robert Justman's 1996 set-the-record straight "Inside Star Trek". (The show's production executive and producer, respectively, wrote a highly readable and fascinating book on what really happened during that series' creation and production -- they would know since they were on-board from the beginning.) A friend of mine is currently reading the book and is thoroughly enjoying it; he had a sudden powerful urge to re-explore some episodes.

A few days ago I was looking for some pictures to attach to blog postings when I learned of a new book; when I read the description I wasn't sure if what I read was the real deal: A new book, one over 600 pages long, dedicated to the behind-the-scenes on Star Trek's first season? Wow. Two books are to come; one for each of the two other seasons.

I spent a few minutes to read up on "These Are The Voyages - TOS Season One". The reviews are very good: a story well told; one that could have been a dry, and still interesting, retelling of a pile of incredibly in-depth research is spun into a page turner of a book... that sort of thing.

The book's author, Marc Cushman (with Susan Osborn), had access to the Star Trek files stored at the U.C.L.A. archives. Since he was busy as a screenwriter and director, and his ongoing research kept piling up over the years and decades, the ultimate intent of writing a book had to wait. Mr. Cushman interviewed many people involved with the show's production; from producers to crew, and the main actors, in addition to many of the episode guest stars.

The author claims that he did not start writing the book until 2007, and when he finished he had enough material for a 1,700 page book -- with his publisher, Cushman made the obvious decision to break "These Are the Voyages" into separate season volumes.

My reading list has suddenly gotten a lot longer... in one shot!

I'll dissolve to the write-up from the publisher, Jacobs Brown Media Group...

"Author Marc Cushman had the great honor of befriending both Gene Roddenberry and Robert H. Justman, who cooperated in the development of this three-book series and backed their endorsement with hundreds of never-before-released documents concerning the writing and production of the first Star Trek ® series. After decades of research, hundreds of exclusive interviews, and the inclusion of thousands of documents, from story outlines to scripts to interoffice memos between Roddenberry and his creative staff, correspondences with NBC and Desilu Studios, production schedules, budgets, and even the Nielsen ratings for every episode of the first Star Trek ® series, These are the Voyages serves as a time machine, taking the reader back to witness the creation, writing and making of Star Trek ®. Decades of folklore is dispelled as the authentic documents are presented, revealing the true production order of the episodes (never before properly identified), the truth behind the ratings (Star Trek often won its time slot and was usually NBC's top-rated Thursday night series, and again, Friday night series), the actual cost of each episode, when and where and how each scene from every episode was filmed, who wrote what part of which scripts (often not the writer given the screen credit), fan letters and trade reviews from the time of the first broadcasts, and much more. Foreword by TOS first season producer and writer John D.F. Black, and Mary Black."

Publisher's website...
Jacobs Brown Media Group

Book Review: 'These Are the Voyages: The Original Series, Season One' by Marc Cushman and Susan Osborn

Wednesday, September 11, 2013


Something that's in the air right now, in Toronto especially, is the subject of "unpaid interns", or "unpaid internship". Quite frankly, it's an out-of-control disease... a malady. Companies, many of which are hardly one bad quarter away from bankruptcy, are literally taking advantage of people (recent university and college grads) who are looking for experience and that "first job in my field of study". It's sickening.

Toronto film and television and media firms are way up on the abuse list. One such company, Juice Productions, has converted many of their previously paid positions into internships. As a matter of fact, anyone who tracks the 'media' job boards on a fairly regular basis -- myself, and a close friend of past film and television glories -- can tell you which companies are now looking for bulk free labour; a high percentage of their payroll no longer pays.

To be brutally honest, a lot of companies in the Toronto film and television business have had to change over to the internship method just keep their doors open -- they are so ineptly run, that already slight margins are quickly and continually vapourized.

The Toronto Star...
Problem of unpaid internships in Ontario is ‘massive,’ says student group


The National Security Agency (NSA) went against court-approved privacy rules and, for three years, searched a 'really big!' database of citizen's phone call records.

This tells me one thing, and one thing only: Stasi (W) -- "Ministry of State Security (West)"

Stasi West? Sounds like a good name for a rock/metal band.

The Washington Post...
Declassified court documents highlight NSA violations in data collection for surveillance

Assorted comments made, I'm sure, in NSA offices by people who should know better...

"I didn't think you really meant it, though."

"Yeah, but I thought that in this case, the court demand would not really exactly apply."

"What court-approved privacy rules?..."

Tuesday, September 10, 2013


Don Harron and William Shatner in The Taming of the Shrew (1954).

On October 21st at the Four Seasons Hotel in Toronto, William Shatner will be honoured with the Legacy Award of the Stratford Festival. He will be the third to receive the award; Christopher Plummer and Maggie Smith got theirs in 2011 and 2012, respectively.

After Stratford Festival director Tyrone Guthrie recommended that the future starship captain join the festival, Shatner spent two years with the company; from 1954 to 1956.

This Bill fan lives just a few minutes walk from Toronto's Four Seasons Hotel...

"Mr. Shatner... Mr. Shatner, sir... I'm one of your biggest fa... Mr. Sha........ Doh!!!"

Monday, September 9, 2013


One again, September 8th almost snuck by me: It was on this day in 1966 that Star Trek premiered on NBC -- but two days earlier on Canada's CTV network. What is odd is that I wrote and uploaded my tribute (here) to the first pilot show, "The Cage", this morning and it did not even occur to me the significance of my unconscious effort. (Please pardon the past present tense; I wrote this piece last night but my Internet went down and I shut 'er off.)

The episode shown to kick off Star Trek, was "The Man Trap". While not considered to be a great episode, it was, after much debate and discussion by the show's producers, and Desilu executive Herb Solow, picked as it contained some essential ingredients: A monster (and a terrific one, by the way); it was a "planet show"; and it contained a solid science fiction premise (shape-shifting... and a monster). As a matter of fact, "The Man Trap" was not even the first episode shot in regular series production; but several episodes had been completed by the time a decision had to be made as to what story would launch the program -- much was riding on how she performed; two pilots had been produced at, in television terms, great financial cost. And a half-season's complement of episodes was running through the production machine.

No need for me to go on about it, since most of us know the various punch-lines by now.

Before I go, I should mention that Variety sent a reporter and photographer to the Star Trek set while "The Man Trap" was in production. Apparently the visitors showed up on the set just as the crew was preparing the scene where Spock is being treated in sickbay after he was attacked by the "creature".

'Oh, it's going to be a more intelligent science fiction series? Is it, now?'

Do not let your little ones watch this. Seriously.

Sunday, September 8, 2013


Back in 1999 I heard about the U.S. cable television network Sci-Fi Channel scheduling 'special editions' of the original Star Trek series: Each episode would be shown uncut with additional behind-the-scenes material shown before and after and during commercial breaks. In the mid to late 1960s, the years of Trek's production, running times for completed "one hour" shows was about 51 minutes (allowing for commercials). As the years moved along hour long series episodes became shorter and shorter in order to make room for even more commercials. What happened to older programs which were being re-run in the new broadcast model is they had to be trimmed by a few minutes -- "time compression" is another lovely device that's a system of speeding up the picture and sound by a small percentage (while correcting for audio pitch) to help in the ultimate aim of fitting an episode into tighter and tighter slots.

The best way to allow for the whole bag of episode to run complete and at normal frame-rate is to schedule the beast in an over-length time slot. Because the network or station is now stuck with an odd length, the best thing to do is to pad out the slot with something else. In the case of the Star Trek special editions this was done by producing a eight-minute, or so, behind-the-scenes video. Interviews included actors, writers, and production crew.

Star Trek's first pilot episode "The Cage" has long been one of my favourite Trek's, considering the fact that with the exception of Mr. Spock there is no one from the regular series in the ship's crew; there is Jeffrey Hunter, but he is very much a different leading man than William Shatner. It would be hard to imagine Hunter carrying an episode such as "The Omega Glory" ("They must apply to everyone, or they mean nothing! Do you under-stand?!").

Pilot episodes are used primarily to test the proposed show. Actors can be replaced, characters changed, fine-tunings of various kinds undertaken before regular series production; but the idea is front-and-center. Although they turned-down Star Trek, based on "The Cage", NBC liked the concept and was impressed with the technical elements and 'physicality' of what had been accomplished, so they commissioned an almost unheard of second pilot. (Sitcoms have a history of second pilots being produced, but they are relatively cheap to restage.)

A special note in the special edition for "The Cage": Majel Barrett, wife of Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry, and "Number One" from the pilot episode, states in the video that this episode was his favourite of all Star Trek. I can imagine.

Principle photography on "The Cage" took place over three weeks in November and December of 1964 on Desilu's "Culver City" stages 14, 15, and 16.

The pilot was designed by Pato Guzman, Franz Bachelin, and Walter "Matt" Jefferies (who's main baby was the Enterprise bridge set, and an absolutely fabulous set it was, in all its electrics). The efforts of these talented gentlemen established the look of Star Trek which resonates to this day.

Composer Alexander Courage wrote the stand-out melodious and percussive score. He was chosen to score the pilot after much discussion; not only was he a highly regarded arranger (as in the MGM musicals), but he had an encyclopedic knowledge of music: all things which would benefit a space-travel series.

The most important thing in any television production, the script (!), was written for this installment by Gene Roddenberry. The subsequent series' sense of drama its general philosophical underpinnings were set in "The Cage"; production crews and casts could change, but the bar of platinum was available for easy reference.

One word of warning about the video: Majel Barrett says that NBC, or the test audiences for "The Cage", did not like Number One, which is why the character never survived past the pilot. That is false; that was Roddenberry's excuse for years. The network felt that it had been railroaded by Roddenberry (Barrett was his girlfriend at the time) in casting her in the role instead of casting the proper way. NBC demanded more control and influence in production of the second pilot, "Where No Man Has Gone Before". The joke is, like a lot of fans, I like Majel Barrett as Number One.

The Cage Star Trek The Sci-Fi Channel Special Edition Extras

Friday, September 6, 2013


Like many concerned Trekkers, I thought the 'Phaser Rifle' prop from "Where No Man Has Gone Before", the second Star Trek pilot show, no longer existed. (Props often "go missing" after some time.)

As it turns out, and I found this out while looking for a picture of Fred Freiberger for this morning's post (here), the phaser rifle prop does indeed exist: The device was designed and built by Reuben Klamer for the pilot episode, then after production on that one was finished, the rifle was returned to him and stored safely away. It was not used for the series itself. Using, primarily, materials such as wood, acrylic, and aluminum, three men worked day and night in order to get the prop ready in time for production of "Where No Man Has Gone Before".

Serious fans of the television series The Man From U.N.C.L.E. (1964 - 1968) may know that Mr. Klamer designed and built a special gun for Napoleon Solo (Robert Vaughn). This prop was seen not only in the series itself, but in many publicity photos taken of star Vaughn.

Earlier this year the phaser rifle prop was auctioned off by Julien's Auctions -- the winning bid was $231,000.

Here is a short interview with Reuben Klamer...


Back on July 15th, I said this (here)...

Last Thursday morning, 6 a.m. to be exact, my usual wake-up time, I sat down at my computer and proceeded to compose a lengthy blog posting on the debate about producer Fred Freiberger and his "ruining" of Space: 1999.

No, he did not ruin 1999 during his tenure as Series Two producer -- sorry, Space: 1999 fans...

"Film at eleven." (In a couple of days.)

Obviously, folks, well to those of you who are regular readers to this blog, I did not follow up "In a couple of days". I wanted to finish re-reading the book The Making of Space: 1999 (by Tim Heald) before committing the piece to blog.

As part of my unofficial look-back at the old television series Space: 1999 (1975 - 1977) I wrote a succession of postings: Some were asking 'which episode should I watch tonight', and others reminisced on tie-in merchandise that had been released shortly after the show went to air.

While I milled about yesterday I though about this hopefully outstanding outstanding upcoming blog posting and decided to get going and finish 'er up. It's been a few weeks since I finished the fine behind-the-scenes book.

When I fired up my computer last evening and re-entered the Internet Zone and my blog's dashboard, I discovered that there was a small pile of hits on the Freiberger posting.

The Twilight Zone?

Maybe... but the twist ending here will be that I actually get the finished Freiberger story up by the conclusion of this upcoming weekend.



Thursday, September 5, 2013


People line up for TIFF tickets - but check their bank balances, first.

As the Toronto Star says...

"It now costs $23.50 for a regular, single ticket for an adult to see a movie at TIFF. That’s up from $19.69 last year."

And I say...

"That is exactly why I have not attended the Toronto International Film Festival in years. It's a bloody racket."

The Toronto Star...
TIFF single tickets see big price hike

Wednesday, September 4, 2013


Appreciating the arts gets corrupted by subjectivity. Can anything be pure?

Last night I watched Canadian filmmaker Guy Maddin's 1992 movie Careful for the first time in years (since it hit home vid, way back). While I liked the years-ago screening, last night my reaction was markedly different: I loved Careful.

I have to think about the film and my enjoyment of it before writing anymore. Then I can make some sense.

This much is sure: For all the times that Maddin has stated in interviews that he has always had an affinity for melodrama, nowhere is it solidified in his feature films, more than in Careful. And the melodrama is delicious, here.


Kathleen Parker, in today's Washington Post, chimes in on the question of whether or not the U.S. should launch military strikes on Syria: "To bomb or not to bomb, that is always the question."

She is correct, and notes that the answer has been given all over the country, from top to bottom: Limited ordinance tosses on Syria could ultimately explode. And the all-but-fact is an assault will be a strategic failure. But, golly darn, those explosions look so cool. But, they're a waste of time and threaten stability in that part of the world... what stability there is.

The use of chemical weapons is horrible, yes, but violence is horrible. As Parker asks, why all of a sudden is there a desire to attack Syria after the use of those weapons? Inhumanity was going on well before all that happened.

My own opinion is: Stay out. You're asking for trouble. And you've been good at asking for trouble for a while.

U.S. credibility runs deeper than Syria

Tuesday, September 3, 2013


Yes, a monster... I mean: Yes, two important things I learned today...

* I had not realized until reading a few pages of Andy Rooney's book "Years of Minutes" that former U.S. President Bill Clinton's birth name was "William Jefferson Blythe (the fourth)". His father died before William was born, and when his mother married a man by the name of Roger Clinton, Bill Clinton, future President of the United States of America, was born.

* I had long wondered why Bryan Johnson was not in Kevin Smith's movie Clerks, even though they'd been buddies for a few years before that movie's shoot in March of 1993. Answer: After Smith returned from the Vancouver Film School he and Johnson had a falling out (but made up later).

Now, all I have to learn is why hot water sometimes comes out of the cold water taps -- this curious phenomena occurs at my current apartment, and it used to happen at my previous "place". Maybe Toronto, at least this part of Toronto ("The Annex"), is in some continuum where normal physical laws don't always apply. "E-Space"? No, "A-Space".


Lucy Kellaway, writer for the Financial Times says, well at least the Globe and Mail headline does: "Working in a coffee shop is a real buzzkill."

Really? I guess it depends on who you are. I remember sitting in a coffee shop right near the University of Toronto a few years ago and asking the young woman sitting beside me, "you can work in this?" (It was really noisy in there; even more so than the usual coffee shop din.) She replied very pleasantly, "I can", and went on to explain that she thrives off the sonic racket. Good for her. I'm a bit the same, although too loud a conversation level combined with constant coffee grinder grinding can definitely pop me out of the writing experience.

As a rule I do light reading and writing in a coffee house (the hip term) and not heavy duty stuff. I don't try to read books on philosophy in my local cuppa, that's for sure; or edit and rewrite more formal pieces.

Yes, it is well documented that Harry Potter scribe J.K. Rowling wrote her first H.P. novel in her "local".

Whatever works for you. I'd try and write in a metal foundry if it increased my chances of having J.K.R. quantities of money.

I'm off to my local coffee shop; or, I could travel for a few minutes to Jet Fuel Coffee Shop on Parliament Street. It's a hipster place and one which generates some buzz....

Working in a coffee shop is a real buzzkill

Monday, September 2, 2013


... Speaking of YTV (yesterday, here), while I was reading up on the CNE (Canadian National Exhibition) Airshow this morning I noticed a sidebar link to "Awesome Things About Growing Up With YTV".

Written by Lauren Strapagiel, a news editor for, the article overviews in list form 25 reasons why YTV resonated for her as she was growing up. Here are some shows mentioned...

* ReBoot
* Breaker High
* Are You Afraid of the Dark?
* Animorphs
* PJ Katie's Farm
* Are You Being Served?

I watched bits and pieces of Reboot since it was a revolutionary program, of sorts (computer animation for television), and, of course, the British classic Are You Being Served? (although I watched it on PBS, not on YTV).

To someone in middle age (me) memories like Ms. Strapagiel's seem odd; with the exception of Are You Being Served?, the shows are all too recent....

Canadian TV
25 reasons why growing up with YTV was awesome

Sunday, September 1, 2013


Twenty-five years ago today, YTV premiered here in Canada. The one show I remember watching in the first few days and weeks on that channel was Wojeck (1966 - 1968). That bit of scheduling surprised me since that series, as outstanding as it is, was scheduled on a network aimed at young people. (No, I was no longer a "young people", even in September of 1988.) I should mention that Wojeck was very adult in its timbre; as would be expected with a show about a city coroner. (Steve Wojeck was based loosely on the career of Dr. Morton Shulman. I used to watch the fiery Shulman's public affairs program on CITY-TV back in the 1970s.)

In September of 1989 YTV started running the earliest Doctor Who episodes (1963); and Space: 1999, although the network jumped right into Year Two, totally bypassing Year One -- hey, they didn't want to bore their audience, who in kind could give YTV low ratings. I caught some of the Space episodes, but almost addictively watched Doctor Who.

I had not realized that John Candy appeared in the opening ceremonies...
YTV celebrates 25 years on Sept. 1


Collision damage to the HMCS Algonquin.

This is one of those "thankfully no one was hurt" stories: Two Royal Canadian Navy ships, the HMCS Algonquin (an Iroquois-class destroyer) and the HMCS Protecteur (a resupply ship), collided on Friday while they were carrying out a towing exercise. The two vessels, both of which are around 40 years of age, were en route to Hawaii when something went wrong; the destroyer took the brunt of the impact with damage in the ship's hangar along the port side of the vessel.

A friend of mine's brother served as an officer on the HMCS Athabaskan, sister ship to the Algonquin. They're fine ships, even if the ladies are getting on in age. (It should be mentioned that even though a ship is listed as being decades old, the vessel has been modified one or more times. 'Hull age' is something else, of course, and that subject is taken into consideration by a Navy when looking to replace a ship with a new model.)

The RCN will be launching two investigations regarding the incident at sea.

The Toronto Star...
Canadian warships collide during manoeuvres in Pacific

HMCS Algonquin (DDG 283)

HMCS Protecteur (AOR 509)