Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Baden-Baden, West Germany, Guidebook (circa 1970)

Baden-Baden, Germany, is beautiful. It was near that historic town where I spent four years of my childhood and the memories are strong, especially when I look at pictures in this guidebook from the time I was there.

Welcome to Baden-Baden in Der Schwarzwald, and these sample pages:

The photo immediately above is of the Rastatt pool. It is where my swimming skills were fine tuned by my swim coach mother. The pool complex was, and still is, I'm sure, a great place. (If the kid who stole my Fina swim ring reads this he should feel bad. At least he had the courtesy to replace my new one with his old one.)

The racetrack above is in Iffezheim and it's just a few minutes' walk from where I lived. Not only did I see a few horse races at the track, but there was a smashup derby held one night by we Canadians which was a lot of fun. (Cars smashed up, not horses.)

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

National Aeronautical Collection Guide (circa 1970)

I love aircraft. Growing up on and around military airbases tends to make one interested in the subject of aviation in a small or big way. Check out these samples below from the archival guidebook for the National Aeronautical Collection (based in Ottawa, Canada).

Post script: The museum is now called the Canada Aviation and Space Museum.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Star Trek Premiered on NBC 50 Years Ago Today

I'm old enough to have remembered Star Trek first airing but I must have missed it. Maybe my parents saw the trailer on CTV for the opening episode, "The Man Trap", and its great and scary monster, and made the decision to make sure I missed it.

The charade had to last but a few weeks: In October we left for West Germany, and I don't remember ZDF, ARD, or the French channels, running the program. (However, I did watch the telefantasy series' Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, The Invaders, and The Prisoner on French television. I've since learned that the French like 'spacey' stuff.)

Trivia: CTV (Canadian Television) actually opened the series two days before NBC, on September 6, 1966, effectively the "world premiere".

I first saw Star Trek in June of 1970. My British cousins were watching it on BBC2 -- in colour -- and I joined them in silence while visiting. (I remember the episode being "A Taste of Armageddon"; it has a strong visual identity, like so many of its fellow eps, which makes for easy identification later on.)

Back here in Canada, CTV's flagship station, CFTO, began its long run of "stripping" Star Trek. In September of 1970 a regular Monday to Friday at 5 p.m. screening schedule started the magic for many of us. What is this exciting, striking, beautiful, and colourful show?, I must have pondered at the beginning as I got lost in Trek's vortex. This was a communal experience for many viewers, for in the syndication market it was a true "water cooler", certainly "water fountain", show.

Maybe I'll actually get Star Trek on home-vid someday. A good friend of mine was surprised recently to learn that I don't have the series stored in any form: "You don't even have it as downloads?"; to which I responded with, "I don't like it that much!" (so I claimed).

How many dramatic television programs are, or will be, remembered fifty years after they hit the airwaves?

A book from my youth:

Monday, 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.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

A Sketch of Early 'Graveyard Shift' Design Text

Lately I've concentrated on posting samples from my recently rediscovered sketchbook. Upon leafing through the somewhat yellowed document I came across a neatly folded piece of lined writing paper:

It is a page I scribbled early in the production of the old Canadian horror film Graveyard Shift, in which I had the role of set designer. The main set, the only one, really, was of a graveyard featured as part of a music video within a film. I also illustrated some "wild" flats which appeared in a party scene.

I blogged about my role previously, here. The experience was a good one. Everything counts.

Here, in the picture below, are some bits I noodled in late September or early October of 1985:

"Jerry" refers to the film's director, Jerry Ciccoritti. "Gilda" is, I'm sure I'm not remembering this correctly, the main vampire lady.

The list of cemeteries is something I listed since I wanted to check out the real thing in preparation of my mausoleum design; a structure which would be central to the music video's graveyard set. Examples of the resulting sketches are posted here and here.

I've long been fascinated by the creative process; even my own. The above examples demonstrate how a first meeting leads to the completed job.

Check out a post I did on a contact sheet of photos I took of the completed graveyard set.