Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Poem: the Cynics' Right

Junky spirituality
supported by popsicle sticks

soggy in frozen treat
for long discarded
all when done

some thought it made life neat
until the next fix
came a long....


Simon St. Laurent

Movie Music of Memory

Last month I posted several of my favourite movie endings; the last few feet of the final reel that stick with you; moving, sometimes disturbing, at times funny.

Looking through some coffee-time notes I scratched of various film-themed lists, I came across titles of what I think are some of the best film scores. To simplify the list I stuck with "American" films.

In no particular order:

1. Bananas
2. Papillon
3. Star Wars
4. Patton
5. King Kong (1933)
6. Ben Hur (1959)
7. Planet of the Apes (1968)
8. Star Trek: The Motion Picture
9. Doctor Death: Seeker of Souls
10. The Omen (1976)
11. On The Waterfront
12. Bride of Frankenstein
13. Forbidden Planet
14. The Adventures of Robin Hood
15. Wild Rovers
16. The Searchers
17. Shaft (1971)
18. Gone With the Wind
19. Chinatown
20. Mutiny on the Bounty (1962)

I need more coffee....

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

The Other Career Option(s)

Don't I know this:

"You should always have backup careers."

John Waters dispensed that piece of advice last year when he was interviewed by IndieWire journalist Dana Harris. He outlined his other careers besides making films (which he has not done in over ten years): Art shows, articles, books, and speaking tours.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Post Awards Ceremony

Yesterday I wrote about an award I came up with in the summer of 1979 after seeing the aviation movie masterwork Concorde . . . Airport '79.

Not long after I posted the piece a friend asked me if I paid to see a 'certain' picture at its premiere. Yes I did, and it would take the ultimate prize, but my issue with such an awarding is due to the fact that the flick was produced on a very low budget.

Squirrelly Hollywood movies that miss the mark by a great margin are more deserving.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

... And the Award Goes to....

Summer 1979.


The Roxy movie theatre in Barrie, Ontario, Canada.

The movie: Concorde . . . Airport '79

My friends and I sat in silence, unsure at first, but building with assurance as the film unreeled.

George Kennedy said: "They don't call it the cockpit for nothing...."

Three teenage jaws dropped.

It (the film) ended and we departed.

I came up with an award name: "The Worst Movie I've Ever Paid to See" Award.

Bird on a Wire Document

For a few months a friend recommended to this Leonard Cohen fan that I check out the 1974 documentary Bird on a Wire. I did just that last night; the first hour at least. Distractions aplenty.

When I get a chance I'll check out the remaining forty-five minutes, but I know enough already to say that Bird is a terrific document.

Leonard Cohen was just so cool -- and a genuine man's man.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

My Revisiting of Hammer House of Horror

As I wrote earlier today, I watched the 1980 British one-hour television series Hammer House of Horror for the first time back in 1999. I thought the series "okay".

Last week I started my first rewatch; two episodes in thus far, the first two in the original broadcast order: "Witching Time" and "The Thirteenth Reunion."

All those terrific British character actors and filming locations.....

Hammer House of Horror Revisited 1999

I could hear air escaping from the tank. But it was not a pressure bottle of any kind; it was my Brit friend Paul.

He invited me over to watch some episodes of an old British show that he loved as a youth: Hammer House of Horror. Paul had picked up the VHS complete-series set from Sam the Record Man in downtown Toronto. I whipped over with some enthusiasm since not only was I aware of Hammer House but my mate had spoken a few times about how the one-hour 1980 series was his "appointment television" every week when he was fourteen years of age.

"Ssssssssss...." I knew what that sound signified....

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Louis St. Laurent - Canada's 12th Prime Minister

The man served as this great country's leader from 1948 to 1957.

When I was a little kid, school teachers would say, "oh, like our former Prime Minister".

Of course, Louis' Liberal reign was then just ten years in the past.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Horst, the Germany Fan

I was walking down the sidewalk on my street. A older man cut in front; he was wearing a Tirolerhut, just the kind of hat sported in a place like Bavaria. Two German flags shot up proudly from each side. He must be a Germany fan. After all, the 2014 World Cup of Soccer is playing out.

At an intersection I caught up to the man and asked him if he was heading to a bar to meet other Germans and Germany fans.

With a heavy accent, the kind I can do an imitation vocally but not so much in text form, said:

"Hi, I'm Horst." Yes, he was heading to where the action was.

I was off to another distination, so I could not join him, but he was the kind of guy I wanted to have a beer with. German beer! Talk Germany.

Germany won the cup. I was more than happy.

"I Do Not Suffer Writer's Block"

That's what I've claimed many times when the question arises. To me there is no such thing. The taps are always open. Put the cup under the one appropriate for the moment.

The hard part just might be which tap to pick. What is the moment? Know the question.

That may be the key to solving any writer's blockage.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Race Over Racism

Recently I've posted a few quotes by filmmaker and writer John Waters. With the subject of "hate" taking up some bandwidth these days I'm reminded of more Watersonian perspective:

"Once you've travelled you can't be a racist."

Athot for the Days

The worst kind of dispiriting is that of the heart.

Another Athot for the Day

When a cat smiles, is it planning?

("It"?! Indeed!)

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Athot for the Day

If cats could talk, would they lie?

Monday, September 4, 2017

Day of the Labour

It's "Labour Day" again. How much has changed after all these years? Some "things" here in Ontario, Canada, have picked up.

From September 5, 2016:
Happy Labour Day; Ontario Style

Today's special significance reminds me of how pay has not kept up with inflation.

Here's my story: After I finished high school I scored a nice job at Canadian General Electric. I say "nice" as the pay was eight dollars per hour; my dad laughed when I told him the rate of remuneration. Even though I long had plans to go on to post secondary education, the idea of getting a good paying job the summer after graduating from high school was appealing to me. (I should note that that pay rate was for a relief worker, which is what I was to CGE.)

Here's the rub. I checked the Bank of Canada's 'cost of living' website and used its onboard conversion calculator. That eight dollars in 1981 is the equivalent of twenty dollars in today's currency.

Now, where am I going with this?

Next time you chat with a recent high school graduate, ask them what kind of pay they've been offered in their quest for a summer job; if they can even get a summer job. I'm amazed at how many young people I meet who cannot get work for the summer. They have to take volunteer work just so they have something for the resume. (Volunteer work is valued, of course, but paid gigs are nice, especially in anticipation of moving on to university or community college.)

My first summer here in Toronto was in 1985, and jobs were aplenty back then. I had two offers; I just took the first one that came along.

Just as insidious are the "staffing agencies". Companies pay them about 17/18 dollars per hour, per person, and the agency turns around and pays the worker minimum wage. (The adult rate in Ontario is $11.25 per hour. Do the math.)

It's all about keeping people poor. It's also artificial and unnecessary. These companies have to be regulated and bound with restrictions as to how much they can "skim". (Governments won't make a move because they don't care about the working poor.)

Yes, Labour Day. We have a long way to go, baby; or, even better, we have a long way to go back. Baby.


The change I touched upon at the top. Positive change:

From July 20, 2017:
Employing a Question of Labour

Some parties here in Ontario, Canada, are whining about a proposal by the Kathleen Wynne government to raise the minimum wage from $11.40 to $15 per hour.

It's not just small businesses that are worried about the admittedly substantial in an all but one-shot increase, but big ones too.

What? Why?


In 1981, while I whistled while I worked at CGE (Canadian General Electric) my efforts were rewarded with a rate of $8 per hour ($20 today). In 1984, as I did some last minute saving-up for school, the Radio Shack warehouse paid me over $6 per 60 minutes. (In both cases I was not 'union'. It's a brain-busting case, I know.)

Dirty little secret: Today, 2017, many if not most companies of industry pay "staffing" agencies 17 - 19, sometimes more, dollars an hour per employee. These middlemen turn around and pay workers our now gorgeous minimum wage.

Go figure it out.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Some Folks List Their Favourite Treks This Week

On August 29th I wrote a shout-out for fellow blogger John Kenneth Muir and his call to his interested readers to list and submit their top 20 favourite Star Trek episodes. This week he will post the contributions: The blog of John Kenneth Muir

Due to my schedule I failed to submit anything. Built into my excuse is the fact that I have seen very few episodes in the last couple of decades. Three months ago I bought the complete series Blu-ray set. (I've owned a few DVDs and VHS tapes over the years but I donated/sold those a while ago.)

Besides: I've seen the episodes 87.61 times each. And as my dad said to my siblings and I one day after popping open the rec room door (he was curious as to why the house was so quite): "Jesus Christ! How many times have you seen these goddamn things?!" (He laughed. No doubt he recognized one of the many character actors that guest starred in the series. Simulation: "Didn't I see Anthony Caruso in this before?")

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Did I Just Hear a Jet?

The 2017 CNE (Canadian National Exhibition) Air Show must be starting.

Wow! That was close!....

No List to Trek To

My week was so busy I was unable to submit something as described here.

As I state in the linked piece I have not seen those episodes in years. In addition, by filing a best-of list I run the risk of some folk thinking that I maintain an obelisk-like shrine in my home. (I do have one for Roseanne, but that's a tale for another time.)

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Ontario Flyboys in the Cockpit

While visiting Hamilton's fabulous Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum yesterday my old friend Dom and I took the controls of the Canadair CT-114 "Tutor" aircraft. (The "Snowbirds" machine.)

In the above photo I'm on the right, doing my pre-flight checks, and Dom focuses on beaming for the camera.

Special thanks must go to tour guide Ken for his excellent notes regarding several aircraft.