Monday, June 30, 2014


Toronto 'mayor' Rob Ford returned to city council today, after two months of rehab, to give a heart-felt apology to this great city. The problem seems to be, if certain polls can be trusted, too many citizens are ready to give the vile bumpkin a "second chance". ("Should Rob Ford be given a second chance?")

As a friend of mine told me over coffee a few months back, his fear is "people will forget what happened (with Ford and all his indiscretions) and vote him back in this coming October".

Chilled food for thought.


Several "ridings" in Canada today are holding elections to fill in some holes. In my own riding of "Trinity-Spadina" here in Toronto is often hotly contested. For years it was a Liberal stronghold -- more than once I voted for Tony Ianno -- before the NDP's Olivia Chow took power back in January of 2006. Ms Chow decided recently to run for the Toronto mayoralty race but had to vacate her federal MPP seat in order to take a shot at the returning Rob Ford (his name sounds more and more like a verb).

This time around this old Liberal cast his vote for the NDP's Joe Cressy. I met him briefly and, in addition to his general platform, I like his attitude and personableness.

The voting is still happening as I write this. The polls close at 9:30 p.m.


Wikipedia entry on the Canadian electoral district of "Trinity-Spadina"...


Last evening I got together with friends for food and drink and lots of fun. When I got home late at night there was an email awaiting me from an old friend with the sad news that his dad passed away last week after a brief illness. The happy part of this is that his father lived into his nineties.

What struck me this morning is that getting together with people of warm character for warmth is very important. As I get older I appreciate moments like these simply because with each passing year the chances of leaving this already tenuous existence increase. My friend's dad lived a long life, but too often people die far short of that marker.

Enjoy all that is offered while you can. No: "I'm too busy right now; I'll see them next time I get a chance."

Saturday, June 28, 2014


After a busy week helping out a friend with some renovations on his house I figured it was time to get back to some video-watching of some kind. My attention span these days, certainly with moving picture material, is pretty short; so I figured tonight I would spin something from my 'TV on DVD' collection. My selection was the premiere episode from the British science fiction series, Space: 1999 (1975 -1977).

I've blogged more than a few times on the Gerry & Sylvia Anderson-produced program. My feelings have long been mixed: While Space enjoyed a visual identity all its own -- although no one seems to have bothered or cared enough to have been influenced by it -- Space got locked into orbit around Planet Mediocrity in most other departments. Make no mistake, I do like the series, but "more then, when I was fourteen, than now, a crusty adult".

"Breakaway", the episode of choice tonight, was looked at, or remembered, by me as one of the better stories simply because it was the first in the series -- the moon is still in Earth's orbit ("What?", you say?). I have not seen this one in years, maybe a couple of decades or more. And as producer John Nathan Turner said in regards to fans who think of early Doctor Who episodes as being good or great: "The memory cheats."

Oh, boy, does it ever. "Breakaway" is bad. In the time since my previous screening I'd learned that the kick-off show had terrible script problems; seeing it now, it's obvious they were not fixed up. The script is very disjointed, with awkward expository scene leading to awkward expository scene... repeat. (As a matter of fact, the whole episode is nothing but exposition; even more than the typical television series premiere installment.) One exception being Roy Dotrice ("Commissioner Simmonds") the acting is often embarrassing, with some cast members giving the impression they are reading 'cold' from a script -- check out an early scene with Helena Russell and Victor Berman -- and generally looking uncomfortable in their roles. Barry Gray, a composer I think very highly of, wrote a score as comatose as the on-screen proceedings; perhaps he was too literal in his musical accompaniment.

Who come off best here are Brian Johnson and his visual effects boys. They worked with "very little money" to produce, for the most part, effective shots -- with "Breakaway" being the first episode, Johnson would have had more time than usual. Space: 1999's budget was such that they had to produce most of their effects "in camera" (shooting various 'passes' on the same strip of camera negative to build a whole); optical effects such as keyhole mattes and animation overlays were kept to a bare minimum for the series proper, although here in "Breakaway" we get to see a few more than usual. Due to a lack of money, blue-screen photography and travelling matte composites were out of the question. (If you have ever wondered why there was a lack of stars in the space scenes, now you know. Travelling spaceships had to be careful not to share the same bit of space with a star; overlapping of 'elements' had to be avoided.) Johnson and Co took these under-cuts and, making the best of a not optimal situation, frequently overcame them with ingenuity, rendering some impressive visuals. (There are those Thunderbirds explosions, though, which get tiring very fast; the "tiring" happened to me tonight during the first episode. The Andersons sure liked doing explosions.)

Several times during "Breakaway" I thought to myself, "I remember it being a lot better than this". This episode is stilted, bland, ponderous, and lacking an overall polish. The worst part: The series as a whole jumped the shark when the moon blasted out of Earth's orbit. ("It what?!", you say?)

Back to a terrific Gerry and Sylvia Anderson series: UFO

The moon is in Earth's orbit, and the best episodes, generally, take place on good ol' Sol-3.


The photo at the top of this posting is a frame-grab form the very first shot of Space: 1999. The super-imposed text must have been a bad omen. There is no "dark side of the moon"... except to a certain rock band.

Thursday, June 26, 2014


Disco composer "Meco", who's full name is Domineco Monardo, made a name for himself after Disco-Teching John Williams' stellar Star Wars theme in 1977. The dance-floor version went on to become a big hit -- as did its parent version, of course.

Star Trek: The Motion Picture was a natural target for Meco when Paramount released that long-anticipated film in December of 1979. His take on Jerry Goldsmith's superb Trek theme hit the notes expected of a disco treatment. This Trekker bought the 45 record when it hit the record shops.

After a conversation with a friend a couple of weeks ago I decided to see if Youtube had an upload. Yes it does; and it's the extended version. It is very nice, beautiful at times, especially when "Ilia's Theme" blossoms. Meco's spin on the first Trek movie's theme sounds even better to me now...

Wednesday, June 25, 2014


According to Canadian film director David Cronenberg, he turned down an offer from the producers of the new volley of Star Wars to direct one of the pictures.

Good for Mr. Cronenberg. He can do much better than direct a Star Wars movie -- leave that for the menials. There is no need to expend so much energy on what in the end amounts to building a mud pile.

Jeffrey of Hack is just the man for the job. Disney got that right....

The Globe and Mail...
David Cronenberg said no to Star Wars

Tuesday, June 24, 2014


Throughout the Star Trek television series, Spock showed that he was immune to pretty faces, but a certain behind-the-scenes photograph taken during production reveals otherwise; perhaps. "Mudd's Women", a very early first season episode, was shot in the Spring of 1966 (June 2 - June 13, 1966). Leonard Nimoy, as Spock, and William Shatner, totally in character as James T. Kirk, pose with guest stars Maggie Thrett, Susan Denberg, and Karen Steele...

"The Conscience of the King" features the beautiful actress Barbara Anderson, who was all of twenty years of age when this episode was photographed (September 13 - 21, 1966). Jim Kirk could not resist the charms of "Lenore Karidian", even when she went off the deep end in the last reel. ("You really loved her, didn't you?") This production still features Shatner and Miss Anderson and it looks as though it was taken on the shuttlecraft observation deck set...

Monday, June 23, 2014


The word "geek" is something I readily apply to myself. For evidence just look at my last dozen blog postings. I'm a complicated geek, however, since I seem to always forget that some dynamite Gerry Anderson-created television series from my youth is being remade. (Maybe I forget because I have grown up, to some degree; maybe it's simply because I'm not a kiddie any longer.)

A few minutes ago I took a break with a pot of tea and the Internet and was reminded that a new Thunderbirds television series was announced months ago; it will reappear in the form of Thunderbirds Are Go! (not to be confused with the 1966 feature film based on the original television series). It is being produced, for release in the Spring of next year, by ITV Studios and Pukeko Pictures with visual effects by the Weta Workshop.

Hopefully the scripts will be as good as the original shows'. The remake of Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons, reformed and released in 2005 as Gerry Anderson's New Captain Scarlet, is horrible. (I watched an episode last year.)

Cross your Supermarionette fingers.

Last Thursday ITV Studios released this image of "Thunderbird 1", my own fave of the International Rescue vehicles. Looks great, even if the wings are almost non-existent (and appears to be flying upside down)...

I've blogged about Thunderbird 1 before; in "Thunderbird 1 (Is Go!)".


In World Cup 2014 action yesterday (Sunday) the squads for Portugal and the U.S.A. went head-to-head. I did not have a chance to catch any of the match-up, but I made a point last night to find out the outcome. The final score was 2 - 2. When I read in more detail I found out that Portugal tied things up at the 95 (!) minute mark of the game; "in the dying seconds". It must have been devastating for the U.S. team and its fans.

Naturally first thing this morning I journeyed to Youtube to find a video file on the missed match. The one I picked turned out to be a stellar find. The highlights are there, yes, but the play-by-play announcer's exuberance is infectious! (Is he speaking Portuguese? He's so charged that I find it hard to tell. Brazilian Portuguese? I checked the television feed's watermark but could not find the network on the Internet.)

This will make your day a happier one...


The Google Page animations are generally very good. As a friend of mine said, "imagine getting paid to do those... that's your job".

Since World Cup 2014 is running at the moment the daily Google Doodles are in that theme. The one today -- "Netherlands vs Chile" -- made me laugh out loud. (I startled the cat.)

Go there, now! ( It's great!


These four headlines were all on the Toronto Sun website top-page (index page) at the same time when I visited this morning. I was... overwhelmed...

Celebrities Are Skipping Bras - Underwear On The Red Carpet

These Gorgeous Bikini Bodies Make Us Appreciate Summer

Kate Walsh Looks Amazing In Her Yellow Bikini

Top Ten Brazilian Models

The "newspaper" has spoken. They must know their market.

Sunday, June 22, 2014


The subject of my posting from yesterday titled "The Surprise Telephone Call Welcomed" (here) emailed me a link to an article in CAFEBABEL magazine. The story is on a writers' group which calls the Parisian bookshop Shakespeare and Company "home" every Saturday at 5pm.

The writers on the fifth floor, better known as "The Other Writers' Group"...

During our Friday telephone call my friend said something that just came back to me now while writing this posting: "A lot of these people are really sharp!"

Saturday, June 21, 2014


Steve Tilley, entertainment columnist for the Toronto Sun, hates "3D" movies. So do I, which is why his piece today found at least one sympathetic reader.

He is right, movies shot, or rather projected, in 3D are dark and non-immersive. The reason, and I mean the reason, I could not "get into" James Cameron's blockbuster from 2010, Avatar, was because I could not get lost in the movie. I was very self-conscious: I felt like I was sitting in the Scotiabank Plaza with conversion glasses on my face watching an artificial-looking film. That feeling never left me, not once, during the film's 27 hour running-time.

I rarely see anything in a movie theatre anymore because of the emphasis on 3D projection and what I call "The Avatar Effect".

Oh, and the cost of entering a 3D movie theatre... Forget it! Most movies are crap, so why would I want to spend that kind of cash seeing something that, in all probability, is "gonna suck"?

Steve Tilley of the Toronto Sun...
After Godzilla, I'm done with 3D


On a more personal note: There was a movie I watched two nights ago that I wish I had seen in a movie theatre, instead of on DVD at home: City of Life and Death (China, 2009) is one of the finest 'new' films I've seen in years. Powerful stuff. ("Life is more difficult than death.")


Paris, France. A place for creativity.

Yesterday morning while I was prepping to get out of the house and take care of some important business -- which seems to intensify with every year that passes -- I quickly checked my email. It was a trap. A good friend of mine saw my Google Mail presence and asked me if I was free to talk. "Of course I am, old friend."

He called me from Paris, France -- a little more 'romantic' than calling me from Paris, Ontario -- and we chattted for close to an hour. We talked about the expected 'this and that'. I asked the usual questions, like: How is the weather?; what's French television like these days?; have you ventured from Paris?...

It would be important to tell the reader that my friend based himself in Paris for a couple of months as part of  a self-imposed 'incarceration' allowing him to work on a long-gestating creative writing project. He told me that a regular routine would be to stroll around the city's streets to do the heavy thinking then pick a place to sit down, usually a coffee shop -- a Paris coffee shop! -- and start writing with pen and paper. (That's my kind of process, although Toronto has to suit my needs for the moment: "I strolled down Brunswick Avenue. Was that Margaret Atwood?...")

That telephone conversation invigorated the creative me.


Post Script: My writer friend has worked from the Paris bookstore Shakespeare and Company, which was featured at the beginning of the Richard Linklater film Before Sunset. It is a wonderful space. Sure beats Starbucks....

Friday, June 20, 2014


When I was looking for news updates regarding the status of actor Harrison Ford and his accident on the set of the new Star Wars movie, in research for a posting I did (here) on a set made for the old television series Space: 1999, I saw a photo which proved to be a serendipitous find.

The photograph is an aerial view of Pinewood Studios in the U.K. and I recognized a couple of sound stages which were used for Space: 1999 -- stages L and M.

Along with stages J and K, these spaces were built in the mid-late 1960s to help facilitate Britain's then burgeoning television series production.

Pinewood Studios has a fascinating history.

Pinewood Studios stages L and M. (J and K are center frame.)

I decided to look-up and grab the following info on Pinewood Studios stages L and M...

LENGTH: 105 ft (32.00 m)
WIDTH: 90 ft (27.43 m)
HEIGHT: 30 ft (9.14 m)
AREA: 9,450 sq ft (878 sq m)

Thursday, June 19, 2014


This evening during my reading I happened across an interesting thought by the German art historian Erwin Panofsky (1892 - 1968)...

"While it is true that commercial art is always in danger of ending up as a prostitute, it is equally true that noncommercial art is always in danger of ending up as an old maid."

True, perhaps.


Early this morning I found out that one of my pieces from yesterday, SPACE 1999 EAGLE INTERIOR COCKPIT SET (here), was referenced on a news site dedicated to a magazine called "Space Monsters"...

The publication's main site is this one...

I spent a few minutes looking over the mag's website and found stuff of a definite interest to a guy like me; a geek. It is published by a bloke by the name of Richard Gladman who lives in Brighton, England -- a lovely place; I've been there.

Not long after I began to peruse the site I had a sneaking suspicion that Suspect Video here in Toronto carried the beast. Indeed they do; I'm off on some important business this morning and perhaps I will be able to swing by "Suspect". Besides, any mag that spills some ink on Godzilla and the original Doctor Who television series gets my attention.

As a matter of fact, the next issue of Space Monsters, issue number five, is dedicated to Doctor Who...

Wednesday, June 18, 2014


Last week I listened to a BBC Radio 2 documentary -- which I will post about soon -- from 2000 on Gerry Anderson's puppet shows, and an actor by the name of Francis Matthews was interviewed. He did the voice for the character of "Captain Scarlet" in the Supermarionation series Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons. Matthews was known back in the day for doing a spot-on vocal imitation of famed actor Cary Grant; he was hired by Anderson and, as Captain Scarlet, he continued his facility for sounding like the famed actor. As a matter of fact, the puppet-makers styled Scarlet himself after Cary Grant. This was lost on me when I watched the series as a child, but when I watch it now, the "nod" is pretty obvious. After I finished the doc, I made a point to screen a couple of episodes of Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons.

Early this evening I saw a tweet announcing the death of Francis Matthews.

The Guardian...
Francis Matthews obituary
Glamorous star of the BBC's Paul Temple and voice of Captain Scarlet


"There is no such thing as a 'flimsy set'", I tell my students. A set may look flimsy, a highly subjective view, but generally there is no such thing, certainly not on professional productions. The actors' unions, for instance, would not allow such a structure to exist. The term "flimsy set" tends to be hurled as a simple pejorative. Fine. (I understand that actor Harrison Ford was injured last week on the set of the new Star Wars movie when a door on the Millennium Falcon set whacked him; or came down on him, if it's that personnel door I'm thinking of. That accident was probably caused by a miss-cue rather than shoddy set construction or engineering. Star Wars fans?.... help?)

Now, having said that, check out this picture taken of the "Eagle" cockpit interior from the British science-fiction television series Space: 1999 (1975 - 1977)...

While the interior is fine, the external support framing is certainly not "code". There is no serious reinforcement bracing. "Rickety" is probably a good word in this case. (The normally hot-headed Eagle pilot Alan Carter, played by Nick Tate, would not want to get into a physical tussle with a stock Space: 1999 freaked-out-crewmember in there. "Cut! Cut!")

Not lost on me is the fact that it very well might be a work-in-progress photograph. This geek likes pics like the above.


Here in Ontatio, Canada, we went to the polls last Thursday (June 12th) to choose our next Premier. Kathleen Wynne, of the Ontario Liberal Party, ended up keeping her job courtesy of a 'majority' win. Her government was effectively bumped up from minority status to majority... courtesy of Ontario NDP leader Andrea Horwath when she rejected Wynne's 2014 budget back in late May. (Some people would now say: "Thanks... Andrea!")

My fear two weeks ago was that "voter turnout" would be anemic; which seems to be the standard in, as I mentioned in that post (here), "blowhard countries".

News of how many people got off their butts (and "buts") to vote was released the morning after the election. Word was that turnout was up, about four points, to "just over 52 percent".

On the radio minutes ago was an item stating that official voter numbers will be released today, including full breakdowns: Spoiled ballots, those left blank, etc.

It will be neat to see how many people thought they were making a difference by graffiti-ing their ballots....

Tuesday, June 17, 2014


There is an odd anomaly over at the Toronto Sun website: On the "opinion" page are indexed letters-to-the-editor for every day from the last week or so except Saturday (June 14th). That would have been the day they published reader response to the Ontario Provincial Election. This missing "day" says something, I think. I'm wondering if the Sun letters-editor had regrets about printing certain letters.

That 'paper' is a nervous wreck to begin with; they are careful about what appears in the Sun pages. Letters containing any thoughtfulness and balance are usually shot down with a snarky, and often childish, response from the editor...

(You must be one of those lefty-liberals who supports the gravy train and socialism.)

Yes... yes I am. You are right; as always.

Monday, June 16, 2014

THE UNCLE BOBBY SHOW (1962 - 1979)

Those of us who grew up in Southern Ontario, Canada, have fond memories of watching The Uncle Bobby Show on CFTO (Channel 9, Toronto) on Saturday mornings. In my case it was the very early 1970s (specifically: 1970); especially since I was getting a little long-in-the-tooth for a show essentially aimed at small fry. My younger sibling would watch; so I would watch along with them. (Besides, I had to get ready to watch Thunderbirds on the same station then switch over to CKVR at 10:30 to catch the adventures of the Space Family Robinson in Lost in Space -- this was before I realized how horrible the show actually was; that came later, in September of 1978 when CKVR re-ran the series... starting with the colour episodes of the second season.)

Brit expatriate Bobby Ash (1924 - 2007) played "Uncle Bobby". He had that nice grandfatherly manner -- even when he was not old enough to be a grandfather as such, especially in his early tenure with the show -- and when he spoke, whether it was directly to the camera or conversing with one of his guests, Ash used a soft spoken tone. And, more importantly, it has been said that a big reason for his success is due to the fact that he did not talk down to his audience. This made him a comfortable presence to kiddies.

The show, the way I remember it, was a bit of a fever dream: "The Clickity-Clack Express"; "Bimbo the Birthday Clown, son of Happy". Really now!

Trivia: I met a guy years ago who told me that his school bus driver was Uncle Bobby himself. This made more sense to me a few years later when I read somewhere that Ash did not make a lot of money playing his famous character every week; he had to pick-up extra work, such as driving a school bus. Sad, really, when you consider that CFTO was probably pulling in good ad dollars for The Uncle Bobby Show -- so typical of that business, unfortunately.

On Youtube is an archived clip of a CFTO news story on Bobby Ash. Enjoy the video...

There is a major Uncle Bobby fan in Buffalo -- which is part of the CFTO market -- by the name of Steve Cichon, and he has web pages dedicated to the show...

Sunday, June 15, 2014


While I was composing my previous blog posting (here) I took a few minutes to look for a picture of the Germany national football team: I stumbled upon a certain picture of German football fans which caught my eye.

I think that the photo could be best described as "really nice"... and I dig the shades, in particular.


The Germans are ready for World Cup 2014.

This afternoon I was walking in "The Annex" area of Toronto when I happened to see a discarded Toronto Sun newspaper. My first thought was, "someone actually parted with their money to buy this junk"; then I noticed the infamous "Complimentary Issue" stamp in the top left side of the cover. Awesome. I get my comedy today for no charge!

After I sat down with my much-needed coffee I opened up the unloved paper and: The center-most page is a double-spread picture of the Germany national football team. Awesome! Thank you, Toronto Sun -- you are actually good for something. (Fun fact: Some friends of mine who cannot stand the Sun -- "You read that crappy thing?" -- admit that its 'Sports' section is pretty good.)

The post-provincial-election bitterness continues inside today's edition; and right on cue is Ezra Levant (as I predicted here).

As I walked home with the Toronto Sun newspaper in my hand -- I did not have my carrying bag with me -- I realized suddenly I felt self-conscious. After I got over that odd feeling I made sure I switched over to the "special walk".


Last Tuesday (June 10th) I posted a couple of pics (here) illustrating what went on behind the scenes on the Star Trek television series. I thought out of respect to my readers who are perhaps as geeky as I am it was time to put up a few more photos.

Even though Star Trek premiered on September 8th, 1966 -- although Canada's CTV network opened the show on the 6th -- photography on the first pilot show, "The Cage", took place two years earlier; from November 27th to December 18th, 1964. Here we see Jeffery Hunter and Majel Barrett, with Leonard Nimoy facing away from the camera...

Here, Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry poses with three Talosians (actress Meg Wyllie, center, stands with Serena Sande and Georgia Schmidt)...

One of my favourite episodes, directed by James Goldstone, who also directed the second pilot show, "Where No Man Has Gone Before", is the pulpy "What Are Little Girls Made Of?". (Shoot dates: July 28th to August 9th, 1966.) This photograph, obviously snapped between takes, shows off William Shatner and guest star Sherry Jackson as they strut their stuff in the android duplication chamber...


The NHL (National Hockey League) Stanley Cup playoffs finally finished two nights ago when the Los Angeles Kings won in "sudden death" against the New York Rangers.

I saw nothing of the event but due to the convenience of Youtube I was able to watch the winning goal. The 'puck for the cup' was propelled by Alec Martinez with 5:17 remaining in the second overtime period -- thus ending the incredibly long NHL season. Don't worry, hockey fans, the next season starts in 27 days....*

*For all you non hockey fans I should tell you that this is a joke. The next National Hockey League season starts in October.

Saturday, June 14, 2014


While working away here at home I had 680 News on my radio; half listening, as we tend to do when immersed in business, I monitored the 'Weekend Business Report' with James Munroe.

The over-the-phone guest was a guy who manufactures a glow-in-the-dark toilet seat. Fine. My attention snapped back after the Luminance Man said, or I think he said, "there are 300 million toilet seats in North America".

I stopped what I was doing and pondered that shattering statistic. As far as I know most toilet seats handle more than one person at once -- well, not exactly at once, except in certain kinky, or desperate, circumstances. That means that there are over 300 bums using toilet seats. As a matter of fact, my mental math tells me that there are many more than 300 million bums using toilet seats. The total population of Canada and the U.S. cannot account for the overage. There... there are unaccounted-for bums out there!

It boggles the mind!

Post Script: "Night Glow" does sound like a good product to have meet you when you are bleary-eyed. The "guy" I mentioned above is Tim Fittler; and his company is Pottyglow...

Friday, June 13, 2014


First off; congratulations to Premier Kathleen Wynne and the Ontario Liberal Party for their stunning victory in yesterday's provincial election. I was pretty sure the "Grits" would be triumphant but I found the convincing majority win margin a little surprising, as did many people, I'm sure.

My regular readers know I love to pick on the Toronto Sun "newspaper", and its lowbrow devotees, especially, but even I admit that The Asylum outdid themselves with today's ridiculous cover page. Of course they are not a legitimate paper, but still, you'd think they would at least make an attempt to be the real deal.

The bitterness at that rag this morning was to be expected: Christina Blizzard and Sue-Ann Levy are in agony. Surprisingly enough, Lorrie Goldstein was more tempered in his thoughts regarding the Liberal victory -- more importantly, the Conservative crash.

Be sure not to miss the next columns from Michael Coren, Brian Lilley, and Ezra Levant.


Thursday, June 12, 2014


Okay!... it's Thursday, June 12th; voting day here in the province of Ontario, Canada. We go to the polls to pick our next Premier.

Will it be the Liberals and leader Kathleen Wynne, the Conservatives and Tim Hudak, or the NDP (New Democratic Party) and Andrea Horwath? (There are other parties, especially the "Greens", but it's obvious it will be one of the 'big three' who win -- probably not the NDP, although they, with Bob Rae, won by a landslide back in September of 1990.)

My real reason for this posting is this: If you are an eligible voter here in Ontario, get out and vote! I hate hearing later that 'voter turnout' was pathetically low... under 50%. These rates have also been low, historically, in the USA. Why do blowhard countries suffer voter apathy?

Wednesday, June 11, 2014


Poppy the Cat, of Bournemouth, England, has died at the age of 24 -- a good, long life for a kitty. She had earned the moniker of "the world's oldest living cat", as recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records. (I'm sure there's a cat somewhere in rural China that's 27 and, with great feline aplomb, still catching mice.)

Several friends of mine have had pet cats that lived to 20 or 21. It doesn't seem to be that uncommon. The oldest cat on record, well, Guinness' record, was (read article linked below).

The Toronto Star...

Poppy, world's oldest living cat, dies
'We knew she was old, but it's still upsetting,' owner says of the demise of her longtime pet.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014


In continuing to clean-up my photo files, I discovered some images taken on the set of Star Trek. The first one appears to be a 'medium format' still, and it was certainly taken during production of the episode "The Man Trap" (shoot dates: June 22 - June 30, 1966). We see Shatner, of course, and guest star Jeanne Bal. The guy on the left side of frame, I think, is director Marc Daniels...

The next picture is actually a frame blowup from Super-8 film shot by Star Trek bit-player Bill Blackburn. This footage was taken at Vasquez Rocks during production of the episode "Friday's Child' (shoot dates: May 19 - May 29, 1967). Director Joseph Pevney is in the lower center of frame, holding a cup of coffee (it must be, it's a film shoot); guest star Julie Newmar is at the left side of frame. Note: almost everyone is wearing a hat, including the Mitchell BNC camera -- its hat is called a "Barney"...

Monday, June 9, 2014


With the 2014 World Cup starting next week in Brazil I figured it was time I announced to the world which team I support; and here it is: Deutschland! (which translates roughly as "Germany")

Hopefully this bold declaration doesn't cost me my British readers. Remember, mates: You'll always have "1966".

I have until June 12th to buy a cap with a nice German flag on it; and maybe a t-shirt....

Sunday, June 8, 2014


Captain Kirk in "The Doomsday Machine".

After eating dinner I decided to clean-up my picture files; I saw one that I had considered using for my post BILL SHATNER AFFECTS OUR GEEKY HEARTS from yesterday (here). I decided the picture should go up after all: It shows that William Shatner was Captain James T. Kirk. Even when standing still he would project a look of authority and confidence. And if he did move, look out!

Amazing casting which helped cement a legend.


Set-building cheapness: Dr. Helena Russell at the Cartoon Wall.

It draws me in; above. It's the Space: 1999 episode "Ring Around the Moon". And it's really bad, even by the standards of the series itself (not one of Brit star producer Gerry Anderson's best, although it does have a few standout installments). However, for a couple of years now this episode has commanded yearly viewing by this fan.

Ouch: My records show that I last saw "Ring Around the Moon" in July of last year. It seems a more recent screening. (And it seems like yesterday that I was just 27 years old.)

I will watch the infamous episode again, but, with all that I am trying to accomplish these days, a re-watch demands a late night time slot. (A friend of mine who is a big fan of the series likes to watch Space: 1999 late at night; the later the better, I understand. He would shout, "watch 'Collision Course' at 1 a.m. on a cold winter's night".)

In my internal blog research I discovered that I have treated "Ring" twice before -- as if I don't remember...

WHICH SPACE: 1999 EPISODE TO WATCH? (July 17, 2013)

... I answered the above question with a review...


The evidence tells me I one thing: "Obsession"

... no; that's a Star Trek episode.


It was twenty years ago this summer that the World Cup was hosted by the United States; this marker is considered a sort of "ground zero" for soccer fandom in that country. The issue is explored in today's Washington Post: Viewership enjoyed a growth spurt after 1994 but statistics show that there has been a leveling off in fan numbers... which is not surprising, of course.

As I addressed earlier in regards to the NHL (National Hockey League) and its failure to take hold in the U.S., soccer too has no cultural grip in a land already loaded with big-league sports -- (gridiron) football, baseball, and basketball. The good news is soccer has a great advantage over ice hockey in trying to win a significant foothold in the States: No fighting! (All the clowns in charge over at the NHL actually don't get it.)

By the way, star American soccer star Landon Donovan was not invited to play with the U.S. squad in Brazil for World Cup 2014. That is fine by me; for some reason I can't stand that guy.

Addressed in the Washington Post article is something that cannot be forgotten: Most Americans find soccer "boring". I used to think that way, until I immersed myself in the most beautiful game.

Washington Post...

On eve of 2014 World Cup, growth of soccer fandom in the United States remains uneven

Saturday, June 7, 2014


My man, my main man, William Shatner is at the Scotiabank Convention Centre this weekend as a special guest of the Niagara Falls Comic Con. I'm sure he really wants to be there -- I say that without sarcasm.

You see, Bill has accepted the fact that he has lots of fans who don't have "a life". It goes with the territory. My friend Bob and I absolutely have crushes on Shatner. With a little help from pints of beer, we giggle like two school girls when we recount moments from commercials or shows that the man has been in. One of us said...

"I love the way that Kirk takes out Colonel Green in 'The Savage Curtain'."

The other recounted...

"Have you seen that commercial he's in? The expression on his face when he sees... "

(Giggles away.) I admit it's pretty pathetic.

Other actors are also at the "Con", but I don't care about them. Who the 'heck' is Chandler Riggs? Was he a starship captain, too?

Friday, June 6, 2014


Producer-director Ivan Reitman's mega box office hit from 1984, Ghostbusters, is being re-released to theatres this August 29th in celebration of its 30th anniversary. (I say: "ouch... that was thirty years ago?")

According to a bit I heard on the radio this evening the picture has gotten a digital upgrade (I say: "Oh my god! A 'digital upgrade'?! That's amazing!") and will be shown in around 800 theatres this summer.

This ghost of a movie-goer did not see Ghostbusters until about two years ago; courtesy of a friend's DVD. To be perfectly honest, the movie did not impress me. What does impress me, is the huge box office take; 300 million dollars in 1984 is like 800-900 million now... wow!

Good for Ivan Reitman. A good Canadian boy.


"Excuse me... Is this your cat?"

I'll keep this short and sweet: Curiosity got me and I thought I would zip over to CNN's website to see if any Canadian news was being reported. Well, on "More Top Stories" I saw this...

This giant rat will haunt your dreams

What the "rat" is exactly is a Gambian Pouched Rat. It's a good thing I have lots of dreams about cats... mean cats.

If you must, read-up here...

This giant rat will haunt your dreams -- and Florida


The Toronto Sun, a "newspaper", although one which has relegated itself to the minor leagues, must be a haven for the mentally ill. Today's cartoon by long-time Sun Talentless Andy Donato is offensive -- and not funny... although Donato is never funny, as I noted in an earlier posting (here).

Donato produced his cartoon in regards to Wynne's perceived, by some, defeat at this week's televised leader's debate. Unfortunately not everyone is going to know this connection; such a visually-non-contextualized cartoon becomes a standalone.

You may not like Ontario Liberal leader and Premier Kathleen Wynne, but you 'attack' her by not voting for her in the upcoming Ontario provincial election. There is no other way.

Violence against women, and that includes implied or suggested violence against women, is unacceptable. The Toronto Sun and its owners should be fined.


Last night I watched the very fine 2010 documentary film Inside Moves... sorry, Inside Job, and my "normal" blood pressure decided to test the upper limits of acceptability.

In a nutshell, the film's all-too-real 'plot' goes like this: A lack of government regulation ("deregulation") in the U.S. financial services industry led to and bred blatant and severe systemic corruption leading to a global recession. "The Financial Crisis."

As a friend of mine likes to say at opportune moments like this: "... And then depression set in."

Not only is the flick emotionally involving for the viewer, certainly if you care about people's livelihoods (around the world!) and the stability of economies and life in general, but it gives credence to those who feel that documentary films are, on average, superior to the narrative type. No dramatic-form scriptwriter can "write this sh*t". Life is more interesting than fiction. (Inside Job director Charles Ferguson knows this, I'm sure.)

I, especially recently, much prefer watching documentaries; at least 60 percent of my movie-watching involves the documentary form. When I watch most recent-ish mainstream Hollywood fare my blood pressure drops precipitously.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014


The big three: Tim Hudak, Kathleen Wynne, Andrea Horwath.

I cast my ballot yesterday. Here in Ontario, Canada, we are 'heading to the polls' on June 12th as this province holds its 41st General Election. Advance polls are happening this week and I decided to do my thing before I conjure up an excuse not to vote on the big day.

This reminds me of an episode of the great television sitcom All in the Family where blow-hard Archie is at the local polling station to cast his vote with devoted wife Edith at his side. As it turns out, voting records show that the opinionated-about-everything-man has not voted since 1960 (over ten years earlier). It is a very funny moment.

(Did you know that Archie Bunker was proud of the fact that he voted for "Richard E. Nixon"?)

If you are an eligible voter here in Ontario, please vote! Don't run the risk of embarrassing yourself at a polling station years from now; and if you're an opinionated-about-everything-person, back it up with a solid voting record....

Monday, June 2, 2014


Earlier today I read Toronto Star sports writer Damien Cox's review of last night's NHL Western Conference final game between the Los Angeles Kings and the Chicago Blackhawks. He noted something I did not want to read -- something I ranted about two days ago (here).

Game 1 of the Stanley Cup final round between the Los Angeles Kings and the New York Rangers will be played on Wednesday... fine. But, Game 2 will not take place until Saturday. This is bloody ridiculous!

Damien Cox is right about something...

"Manhattan will play co-host to the final for the first time since the Rangers won it in 1994, a time when Sports Illustrated proclaimed the NHL to be North America’s coolest sport — after which the league allowed the game to be dragged into the Dead Puck Era."

Bingo! So very Bingo!

Damien Cox in the Toronto Star...

NHL playoffs: Kings dethrone Blackhawks in OT, advance to Cup final: Cox
L.A. defenceman Alec Martinez scores overtime winner to end wild Game 7; Rangers await in big-market Stanley Cup final.


I love the drama of life. For example: Late last night I popped-on my transistor radio to find out what happened in Game 7 of the NHL's Western Conference final match-up between the Los Angeles Kings and the Chicago Blackhawks; the news reader on 680 News was listing 'in the news' items; the next voice I heard said, "in sports... the Los Angeles Kings are on their way to the Stanley Cup final".

This news, for me, was a pleasant surprise since last I heard last night the Blackhawks were up by a score of 4 - 3 at the beginning of the third period. (The Kings tied the game with 7:17 to play in regulation time, they then scored the overtime winner just a few minutes in.)

Something mentioned on the radio this morning: "NHL commissioner Gary Bettman must be in heaven; it's East versus West, Hollywood versus Broadway." As I blogged about before (here), this 'dynamic' is good for the National Hockey League, at least in terms of selling the game in the States. (Bettman has always been delusional in his obsessive quest to embed the league throughout that great land. As an "American", he should know better. Ice hockey is not "cultural", certainly not in the southern states.)

By September, at the very latest, we will know who won the cup....

Sunday, June 1, 2014


Hang on to your fedora while you press your transistor radio close to your ear: Listen to tonight's NHL Western Conference final, Game 7, between the Los Angeles Kings and the Chicago Blackhawks.

The excitement will be when the match actually finishes; regardless of who wins -- although I am cheering for the Kings. The semi final will be history and the final round, the battle for the Stanley Cup, can begin. It's been a long playoffs, which I ranted about last night (here), and the first of the last starts this coming Wednesday; and should end, according to my calculations, by September... just in time for next season.

There are now 27 days between each match-up instead of no days -- or one -- of years ago. The NHL used to schedule playoff rounds this sorta way: Game 1, Monday; Game 2, Tuesday; Game 3, Thursday; Game 4, Friday; and so on until done. The day off, in this case Wednesday, was used to travel to 'the other city'.

The NHL and its clueless leader, Gary Bettman, continue to drift into irrelevancy amongst the professional North American sports leagues. (Football; baseball; basketball; .................... ice hockey.)