Friday, August 29, 2014


Are those jets I hear flying about? Yes, the "Canadian International Airshow" takes place this coming long weekend.

It's been a long time since I've been there, mainly because for a few years running I worked not too far from the C.N.E. (Canadian National Exhibition) grounds and I could watch from the company's roof. It was great!

Thursday, August 28, 2014


Was the best part of Close Encounters of the Third Kind the ending?

A couple of nights ago I had an enjoyable and enlightening telephone conversation with an old friend of mine. We do these updates every couple of months or so. And they are always fun.

Something of interest came out of this most recent talk: I mentioned to my friend that my brother and I had a conversation of our own, recently. It went like this...

Guess what movie I just saw again for the first time in many years... Close Encounters (of the Third Kind).

What'd you think?

Man, it's not very good.

Really? It's been a long time since I've seen it.

I spoke about the issue of "looking back" before, as recently as a few days ago, concerning my seeing Star Trek: The Next Generation again after many years (here).

Controversial Doctor Who producer John Nathan-Turner had a favourite saying in regards to Who fans looking again at something that they have fond memories of: "The memory cheats."

While I don't necessarily agree with JN-T's all too easily dispensed wisdom in regards to some Doctor Who "stories", he is most correct in a general sense. The passage of time changes things; the heart grows fonder. Not much can possibly compete with the malleable and often inaccurate human memory, especially one governed or influenced by warm nostalgia. This isn't meant to suggest that movies or television programs from our earlier years are somehow intrinsically decrepit -- many are -- but times change, we change, including our expectations.

Movies of note, of late, which someday will more than likely generate howls of "the memory cheats", are: Titanic; Star Wars - The Phantom Menace; Forrest Gump; The Shawshank Redemption; and more than a few more.

Some television series' promoting exhortations of "I remember it being better than this", may include: E.R; Beverly Hills 90210; Game of Thrones; Lost; and many more.

It's almost inevitable.

(Gilligan's Island never cheats me.)

Yes, the memory does cheat. If not now, it will later.

(Even though I don't consider myself a fan of The X-Files or Seinfeld, they are examples of television shows that will travel well through the years, I think.)

I must watch Close Encounters of the Third Kind again to see how unfaithful my memories have been. Wait a minute; I never thought that that movie was very good in 1977!

Oh, my friend disagrees with my original assessment.


Maybe the headline says it all; but I will explain.

I went out for a stroll along Bloor Street, between Spadina and Bathurst, here in Toronto last night and noticed the large volume of other strollers. Then it hit me: "Of course, the students are back."

This long-time "Annex" resident uses this sudden population spike to mark the end of summer; perhaps even more than the start of "The Ex" (The Canadian National Exhibition).

While I will not deride the influx of students, after all I was one, there is a marked increase of people in my local coffee shop and diner making it more difficult to find a seat, especially when you are with one or more friends.

Hey, the University of Toronto -- and Ryerson University, and George Brown College -- are supplying those degree and diploma graduates all important to our future. You certainly need one these days; and "it" will only get worse.

Welcome back! Oh, you'll find "The Maddy" over there... and here.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014


News has hit this morning here in Toronto that this great city -- even with the sorry Maple Leafs -- might be getting a new NHL (National Hockey League) franchise. My reaction upon hearing the news was a mighty "yes!".

The bumbling league wants to expand with four more teams... like in Las Vegas; makes total sense to me!

A new Toronto team does not mean necessarily that it will be within the city boundaries; it could be Hamilton, or Markham (just outside the city proper). My pick would be for the former, although I would like to see it in Toronto's "Downsview" neighbourhood -- there is a subway line to that location, which means we could have a "Subway Series" should both teams meet up in the playoff... wait a minute, how could that happen?

The Toronto Maple Leafs meet the Toronto Authentics?....

Tuesday, August 26, 2014


"Since before your sun burned hot in space and before your race was born, I have awaited a question.”

Okay, Mr. Guardian of Forever....


Like the question, "Ginger or Mary Anne?", "Kirk or Picard?" is an important enough one to toss in bars or post in blogs.

So... James T. Kirk or Jean-Luc Picard?

Steve Tilley and Jim Slotek, of QMI (from Planet Q?), do a cute little debate here...

'Star Trek': Kirk vs. Picard: Who is the ultimate captain?

While both writers -- obvious Cambridge debaters -- are simplistic at times, it's all in good fun.

I'll drink to that.

Sunday, August 24, 2014


First year crew of Star Trek: The Next Generation. Were things rotten?

Program: William Shatner Presents: Chaos on the Bridge
Running Time: 1 hour
Airdate: Monday, August 25th
Network: HBO Canada

William Shatner conducts candid interviews with cast and crew, not to mention studio heads, in a look back at Star Trek: The Next Generation's first two seasons. (Hard to believe that "The Next Gen", or "TNG", finished its run twenty years ago.)

Before things settled down and the producers were able to figure out what it was that TNG was trying to be, they had to make it through years one and two. After that what the viewer got was more soap opera than anything else, but there were some shiny bits in among the sand particles: "Family" and "The Best of Both Worlds", for instance.

Earlier this morning I read this: “The first and second seasons of The Next Generation are almost unwatchable,” says Ronald D. Moore.

Uh... I would apply "almost unwatchable" to Mr. Moore's reboot of Battlestar Galactica. Actually, I think that the first year of ST:TNG is not that bad. While it is obvious that the ride is often bumpy, there are some solid science fiction ideas, as opposed to the later "Love Boat in Space" malady which had taken a firm hold on the series.

To be honest, I went through the DVDs of Star Trek: The Next Generation earlier this year and I was surprised at how "okay" it was. (I watched three episodes from each of the series' seven seasons.) Now that I think about it Toronto television station Citytv "stripped" the series on weekday mornings about twelve or thirteen years ago. Back then I noticed, looking at TNG just a few years after it finished-up, how badly the show had aged.

The cute line is: "Have you seen it lately?"

I might add: "... Ouch."

Maybe I should watch "Family" and "The Best of Both Worlds" again.


Last night, on BBC One, a new "Doctor" took over the controls of the Tardis. Peter Capaldi's name was mentioned a full year ago, but fans in the U.K. only now got to see his first episode as the famous Time Lord.

Naturally fans are directly comparing him to Matt Smith, the previous tenant of the Tardis, and they are cautiously optimistic. (This is the standard, ever since Patrick Troughton took over from the first doc, William Hartnell, back in 1966.)

I would compare Capaldi most directly against Christopher Eccleston, the first Doctor of the rebooted series, as I have rarely watched Doctor Who since his series. The CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) here in Canada premiered the new take in March of 2005. The overabundance of visual effects was to be expected, but Eccleston was interesting enough as an actor for me to keep watching every week. (I should not forget to mention Billie Piper; not only did she enjoy good chemistry with her Guv, but she was electric as "Rose Tyler".)

David Tennant? Who's he? Oh, I had forgotten about him....

Thursday, August 21, 2014


Yesterday I blogged about the new and improved TTC (Toronto Transit Commission) subway station, "Union", here.

Well, as promised I made a trip today to the work-in-progress: It's a fine new arrangement; it has "collectors", not just ticket collectors, but the kind we normally apply in highway usage. Here, instead of motor vehicles, we mean people.

There is also lots of standing space; ready to absorb the large crowds that utilize Union station.


A U.K. company, Reaction Engines, is in the process of developing a new aero engine (the "Sabre") that could be used to help propel a passenger aircraft at Mach 5...

UK project brings us a step closer to ultra high-speed air travel - along with simpler satellite deployment
Development is well underway for a new type of engine that could revolutionize high-speed air travel - making the supersonic Concorde of old look like a slowpoke. A derivative of that engine can also switch to a rocket mode, meaning it could be used to deliver satellites to orbit.

When I saw the picture accompanying the Toronto Star article above I immediately thought about the super-speed airliner from the old television series, Thunderbirds.

"Fireflash" was featured in two episodes:  "Trapped in the Sky" (the series premiere), and "Operation Crash-Dive".

Wednesday, August 20, 2014


For a few years I worked in downtown Toronto, and I would regularly travel on the TTC (Toronto Transit Commission) subway train through "Union" station; or "Onion" station, as I call it. It was a skin-thin subway station, to be sure. You would not want to have your back to the railway tracks if you were going to sneeze. The blast off the facing wall would push you off the platform; that narrow it was... until the big change. My work takes me away from the downtown these days, so this transportation enthusiast will have to make a special trip -- not a problem -- to check out the new "Union" platform.

Christopher Hume, of the Toronto Star, has shared his impressions about the fix...

TTC remake brings Union Station to life: Hume
Though incomplete, the newly renovated Union Station brings space and light to Canada's busiest transportation hub.

Sunday, August 17, 2014


Cat people are everywhere; especially in the arts. Some noted cat people of note, the living and the dead, include Stanley Kubrick, John Lennon, Marlon Brando, Bob Dylan, Anthony Hopkins, Morgan Freeman, Steve McQueen, Steve Martin, and many more.

Alan Parker, mild-mannered blogger, has this to say...


Ancient Egyptian Mummies are fascinating to many people, including me. I also like the ones from the movies, even if the actors are much too tall to be playing a person from thousands of years ago. Boris Karloff? Christopher Lee?

It turns out that the art and science of the human mummification process as practiced by the Ancient Egyptians goes back to an earlier date than previously thought -- to more than 6,000 years ago. Stephen Buckley, an archaeological chemist at the University of York, led a team of researchers recently who studied burial cloths retrieved from cemeteries in the 1920s and 1930s. These fabrics are held in Britain’s Bolton Museum. My first inclination was to make sure I visit there next time I'm in the U.K., but then I remembered I live very close to the Royal Ontario Museum here in Toronto, Canada. (This museum is famous for its mummy collection.) The current expression is, "hello!"

I really dig this sample of fabric...

Saturday, August 16, 2014


The Klingon Battlecruiser miniature sits in the Howard Anderson Company shooting stage: The effects crew has rigged a black curtain behind the model; a bit of the regular blue-screen can be seen at the left side of frame, and the dolly track for the camera is at the bottom.

My guess is that a black background is used in this case since there is no perspective change in the shot; a travelling-matte would not be needed for the final composite. Utilizing a film clip printed from the shot a rotoscope artist would trace the outline of the model on paper then fill it in with black ink. This paper would then be pegged onto the animation stand and photographed on hi-contrast film to produce the matte element.


Some great force demanded I look up the website for Toronto's The Grid magazine. When I did the standard online search the top hit was just what I was looking for, so I clicked. As the search-results page was ready to be yanked from my computer screen my eye caught another hit; it said something like, "The Grid ceases publication". "What? Go back!"

The Grid magazine is no more. It has folded publication after three years. I'm not surprised, actually, since the free-give-away paper struck me as not knowing what it was trying to do. There was a lot of articles about food -- which is fine in itself but Toronto Life magazine covers that territory very well even though it's not a free publication -- a smattering of bits on politics and music, not to forget "dating" stories, but there seemed to me to be a lack of focus.

I did not feel compelled to pick up a copy of The Grid every week as I did with its predecessor, Eye Magazine.

The good thing about The Grid was a total lack of sexual-services adverts; although, this no doubt hurt the advertising revenues, which was the reason it tanked, as noted by the Globe and Mail newspaper...

Free weekly news magazine The Grid folds operations

Thursday, August 14, 2014


One of the nicest and most positive responses I have received for this blog came in the form of an e-mail: 'Those are really well written. I'm looking forward to the next ones."

The writer of positivity was referring to something I posted on May 22nd of last year...


So... where is "Batch 2"?

Good question. (I guess I don't take compliments too well.)

My notes for the second volley are in long-hand and are from May of 2013. Can I muster the energy and resolve to keep moving on posting my favourite Star Trek episodes? Time will tell.

To be truthful, I should do similar hit pieces on my absolute favourite television series: All in the Family

Episodes from that series don't have individual titles, so in that case I would have to use an identifier such as, "the one where Archie...".


There is a line from a movie; I think it's from a really bad movie. It may be from Forrest Gump. The cheap bit of sagacity goes something like this: "Life is like a box of chocolates."

My tardiness in posting any bits since last Saturday is due to events pulling me this week. Someone has said, "life is... life".

It sure is.

I need a coffee. Make that, I demand a coffee.

Things are pretty good, actually. As I make up for lost postings, I will reveal morsels of tasty goodness....

Saturday, August 9, 2014


Do you ever have those flashes where you see something and it reminds you of a television series of some repute?

I had one recently after seeing a creature from a friend's garden walk across his back porch. Actually, the cat dragged it in... literally.

"It was something out of The Outer Limits; like some sort of creature that Projects Unlimited might have made for the show."

Great opening to one of the finest television series' of all time...


Students are preparing to start their new school year at the University of Toronto. This occurred to me yesterday as I strolled about the intersection of Bloor Street and Spadina Ave/Rd.

A question I've been asked more than a few times: "Excuse me, could you tell me where the 'Madison' is?"

I sure can: "It's on the west side of Madison Avenue, number fourteen, just north of Bloor. You can't miss it." (If I'm really close, like standing at the corner of Bloor and Spadina, I'll just point them in the right direction.)

This reminds me that I have not been at "The Maddy" since this time last year. It was hot on the upper deck. The beer was cold; the food, fine -- especially since an old friend of mine, who was visiting from out of town, paid for the whole shebang.

"The Madison Avenue Pub", the joint's correct and full name, is an interesting place, and one worth hitting if you are visiting Toronto and are into British-style pubs. You may end up asking me, or one of my 'Annex' mates, for accurate directions. We are experienced in the matter....


On Tuesday morning of this week the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum's Avro Lancaster bomber took off from Hamilton, Ontario, on the first leg of its journey to the U.K.

The trip was scheduled to take a total of three days, with various hops with stops in Greenland and Iceland. Once settled in its ultimate destination the machine will partake in a two-month aerial tour.

This particular Lancaster bomber is the only airworthy one in Canada; there is another, however, that can still take to the sky: The Battle of Britain Memorial Flight Lanc is awaiting the arrival of its mate so the two can create a display to call their own. It has been 50 years since two Lancasters have been seen flying together.

What a magnificent sight it will be.

From CTV News...

Famed Second World War Avro Lancaster bomber sets off for U.K. tour

Friday, August 8, 2014


Super starship captain, William Shatner, has said that he would "love" to have a part in the next Star Wars movie. He's kidding, I think. The man knows how to generate publicity so I'm taking it as a hot news-wire blurt.

Star Wars VII is, or will be, a J.J. Abrams/Disney summer tent-pole movie. Why would the coolest man in the galaxy volunteer to be sucked into a soulless black hole?

William Shatner is scheduled to appear at FanExpo Canada, at the end of this month.

Thursday, August 7, 2014


My regular readers will know that I've posted more than once on the old SF television series, Space: 1999. (If you are curious, do an internal search on this blog; and please don't tell me what the tally is thus far.) When I heard the news in February of 2012 that producer Jace Hall was in the process of rebootin' Space: 1999, as Space: 2099, my reaction was terse (here... I decided to write today's post after noticing this morning that the earlier blurb by me continues to get regular hits.)

Why reboot something that carries very little weight in the public memory? A recent story on that theme: I worked with a woman around my own age who is a big Doctor Who fan; I told her that I grew-up with the original show; when I mentioned that I was a fairly regular viewer of Space: 1999 she said, "I don't think I know that one". A couple of years ago I watched an online interview with 1999 creator Gerry Anderson. The show host, after seeing a model of the Eagle transporter vehicle, asked his subject, "what's that from?" (I should mention that the interviewer was not a "kid".)

Not good things to hear if you are a producer and you want to remake, or reboot, or reimagine, or rewhatever a series because you think the name will trigger a new demand. The original has to be a known property, if not, a redoing of any colour means nothing; except to the core fans. On that note, whenever a Space: 1999 convention is held, as there was in Los Angeles a year or two ago, barely 200 fans show up.

Nostalgia isn't good enough on its own.

In January of this year, after a long silence, Jace Hall announced that Space: 2099 is a "complete reimagining". He then added, "we are not remaking Space 1999".

In a quick round of research in prep for this piece, and to check out the latest news on 2099, I discovered that the website dedicated to the project ( has been shut down. (Could this be a digital nail in the coffin?)

Not to dump on 1999, I like it very much for what it is and the DVD boxed set sits proudly on my shelf, but television is a numbers business. It is not a charity business. Fans of the series, even lesser ones like me, can just enjoy the original -- that should be good enough.

As the computer ("Computer"; voiced by Canadian-born actress Barbara Kelly) on Space: 1999 might say at a time like this: "Probability that Space: 2099 will be produced............ zero percent."

A sign of a cheap set: "Where are the controls on this bloody thing?!"

Wednesday, August 6, 2014


The picture above of comet "67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko" is, to me, magnificent. So much so that I cannot believe this image was not top-of-the-news when I went online this morning.

The European Space Agency spacecraft "Rosetta" is now speeding through space with the comet. On November 11th, Rosetta will drop a probe named Philae; the "box of electronics on legs" will attach itself to 67P/CG using an explosive harpoon. Hopefully there will be more photographs of magnificence.

The Guardian...

Rosetta spacecraft makes historic rendezvous with rubber-duck comet 67P/CG
European Space Agency probe brought to within 100km of comet travelling at 55,000km per hour, where it will begin analysis

Tuesday, August 5, 2014


Artists are often insecure about their art, and whether or not if what they produce matters in their chosen discipline; be it painting, writing, or filmmaking. Part of that issue is this: What constitutes originality, anymore?

I like this quote from director Jim Jarmusch concerning his domain...

Nothing is original. Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination. Devour old films, new films, music, books, paintings, photographs, poems, dreams, random conversations, architecture, bridges, street signs, trees, clouds, bodies of water, light and shadows. Select only things to steal from that speak directly to your soul. If you do this, your work (and theft) will be authentic. Authenticity is invaluable; originality is nonexistent. And don’t bother concealing your thievery – celebrate it if you feel like it. In any case, always remember what Jean-Luc Godard said: “It’s not where you take things from – it’s where you take them to."

—Jim Jarmusch, The Golden Rules of Filming

I found it on Wikipedia; unfortunately the link to the original source -- MovieMaker Magazine from October of 2005 -- is broken.


On Monday, July 28th I posted a quick bit (here) on composer Jerry Goldsmith's thrilling score for the 1976 sleeper hit movie, The Omen.

In doing freelance work today on my computer I noticed an archived picture I found on the Net some time ago. It would have been snapped in 1975 during production of that classic horror film. Below, from left to right: actor Gregory Peck; director Richard Donner; and actor Patrick Troughton...


When I tuned into 680 News radio (CFTR) this morning, to hear what's going down, there was a headline about a portion of this city's subway shutting down due to a flash flood overnight. What? Another flooding?

"Line 1" (the "Spadina" line) is what was affected; specifically the section between "St. Lawrence West" and "Spadina" TTC stations.

The debate about Global Warming is an ongoing one but something is definitely going on. I've been in this great city for years and I have no memory of consecutive summers of intense flash flooding. And there was the ice storm of last December... which I've been meaning to write about for a while (since December).

Monday, August 4, 2014


Extreme summer temperatures are something I don't like. Does anyone? The summer here in Toronto has been perfect thus far. No complaints from me. (Just like the summer of 1992.)

What occurred to me while conversing with a friend on the weekend, is that we are now into August; the month where night-time temps tend to cool off, producing many of those "perfect for sleeping" conditions. Maybe that's more the case with the end part of August, although, in no time at all, it'll be in our faces. And it will taunt us: "Come on, big shot. You wanna pass? I dare ya! Make a move." There's no choice for me but to respond: "Pardon me, sir. Your own perviousness demands I pass, for I'm answering in summons to a great, irresistible force. It is written; you are but a footnote in my destiny." August: "Oh, yeah... crap!"

Speaking of temperatures, Toronto's ice storm was in December; that was over seven months ago! I've noticed in the evenings that the sky is getting darker, sooner.

Where is the year going?!

Sorry, folks, as I write this I'm being smacked with nuggets of sobriety. It may drive me to drink.

On a more positive note, I "entertained" a friend's cats on the weekend. That will be the subject of my next posting... later today.

Sunday, August 3, 2014


Such nice news it is that Montreal Canadiens defence star P.K. Subban is to resume play with the "Habs" of the NHL (National Hockey League). It was announced on Friday that he signed an eight-year deal with the Canadiens; for example, Subban will make 9 million dollars next season. (That's even more than I make for writing this blog.)

The Dynamic Subban has long been one of my favourite Habs staff members.

The National Post...