Saturday, November 18, 2017

Christmas Music to Rock

The store/shop public address and music systems are already spilling and spewing the Christmas tunes/toons. As I've been saying for years, Christmas, here in Toronto, Canada, at least, runs a full one-tenth of the calendar year.

Go ahead; call me "Eb".

At the Gas Pumps, Apparently

In the mornings I have the radio on to give background to my daily ablutions.

Early this a.m. I realized that this may be one of the most common types of news flash:

"At the gas pumps....the cost of gas will go up by one cent at midnight."

That sounds like a song lyric to me ("Country"?).

Friday, November 17, 2017

I'd Prefer to See a Doc

I remember my realization.

I was returning to Canada from England on an Air Canada 747. Sitting beside me was a young woman -- I too was pretty young at the time -- who happened to be a great conversationalist. One story she recounted was about a video party she had with friends in London. The group rented four movies, one of which was a documentary.

In summary she added: "The best film was the documentary."

For some reason I often find documentaries to be my favourites. With an emphasis on that film form today -- helped by easy access to high resolution imaging equipment -- I too prefer on average to sit down with a "good doc". Reality trumps.

Ready to go: The Russian Woodpecker.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Pop Up Demo Miniature Scenery

Back in November of 2009 I wrote a piece about my experiences designing a set for the 1987 Canadian horror film Graveyard Shift. I mentioned building a 'table top' miniature on spec to show the film's producers that I could design and construct one in just a few hours, and, just as importantly, for next to no money. (In the first, and later abandoned production, there was a need for scenery in miniature form.) The above diorama took four to five hours to design and construct. Afterward I took a series of snaps, which I presented to Graveyard Shift's production manager and producer.

The punchline is I got the job. I like to think that my model job helped me secure the gig.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Conductor's 8 x 10: Julius Rudel

When I was nineteen or twenty years of age I decided to collect some eight-by-tens of orchestra conductors. Back in the days before the Internet the process of getting mailing addresses for the various orchestras was not too much of a problem. My local library, like most of the kind, had reference books for such a task. I collected several contacts. In the name of good public relations I always got a response, a large-size envelope containing an eight-by-ten glossy.

Viennese born Julius Rudel was principal conductor of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra in 1981, when I sent away for the glossy. Like many good conductors he built a reputation in opera, including the New York City and Metropolitan opera companies.

Julius Rudel died in 2014 at the age of 93.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Remembrance Day Last Post

On November 6th of last year I wrote a pre-Remembrance Day piece; a story from personal experience:

Human Nature and Remembrance Day

With Remembrance Day almost upon us, I thought about a story of my own regarding that special day; and its special symbol: The poppy.

In early November in the late 1980s (I'm thinking 1989), I hopped onto a TTC (Toronto Transit Commission) subway train car. With the seats being all but fully occupied I took the famous door position as the doors closed behind me. Sitting on the other side of the car, with his poppy box resting on his lap, and looking sharp in his uniform, was a veteran.

Immediately I remembered that a few minutes earlier I had shoved a two dollar bill (remember those?) into my shirt pocket. I approached the vet as I drew out the money. He got up from his seat and carefully pinned the poppy to my lapel. I thanked him and went back to my first position. Then, all of a sudden, and in the style of an over-directed film, several other riders popped open their purses and pulled out their wallets.

The New Math - Problem Solving

No Smartphone, No Facebook - In Remembrance

Two minutes, that's all.

We can do it!

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Aliens Await "Hyper-Reality"

A Westie (West Highland White Terrier)

How To Make a Monster (Mask)

Back on Halloween (Tuesday, October 31st) I posted a behind-the-scenes photograph from my unfinished 35mm epic, Hyper-Reality. The film's resident monster was something I designed and built using the old, and very bad, television series Lost in Space as my template. (It makes sense, if the film ever gets finished. As I've mentioned on this blog a few times, "HR" may get submitted by me to a crowd-funding platform very soon.)

The photo above: This monster-build started on my office's work table. I bought a theatrical mask from Malibar, here in Toronto, and used that as my starting point. From a hardware store I grabbed a tube of urethane foam and a star was born.

Yes, that is the National Post underneath my work of art.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Prop Design: Portable Cylinder Recorder

I designed the above prop for a low budget feature film titled Johnny Shortwave. The world depicted in the black and white epic has an almost steampunk aesthetic, with audio recording happening not on linear magnetic tape, but on cylinders; Edison style.

In addition to the above I designed two table-top models. The idea I had there was that those were older machines. The rationale for the portable recorder was that miniaturization was producing more compact devices -- like a cylinder recorder. A character in Shortwave carries the machine around by slinging the carrying strap over his shoulder.

John Gajdecki built the prop from my plans. I told him that he could run with the design. He did a beautiful job, I think.

Soon I will post the original plans.

Nose to Nose with a (Noseless) CF-104