Sunday, April 23, 2017

Maurice Devereaux Films and Jokes

Today I took a bit of a break and watched two making-of docs: "Playing with Your Nerves - The Making of Slashers" and "End of the Line - A Splatter of Faith". (Both titles were directed and edited by my longtime friend, Jean-Denis Rouette.)

Canadian filmmaker Maurice Devereaux is a talented guy. Although he hasn't made a feature-length film since 2006, his most recent one, End of the Line, proved, illustrated, that he knows how to work in the traditional narrative form and do so with flowering aplomb.

Devereaux has been vocal about how film distributors treat independent filmmakers very poorly; which is a nice way of saying that they are, as the director likes to term them, "sharks". They want everything for nothing.

Watching the above docs brought back memories of seeing End of the Line at its TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival) premiere in September of 2006. After the thrilling screening, we, the cast and crew who journeyed to the city, and I, settled down on the Pilot Bar's rooftop patio. Not long after we took our seats and drinks Maurice was called over to another table. He was chatting with the party for a while, about forty-five minutes or so. With little fanfare Maurice returned to our table and told us the news. They were distributors from Japan and their offer for the Asian market was something that our filmmaking friend could not refuse: $60,000.

On a more pleasant note, the conversation was fine. At one point I was asked something; with some understated reserve I said, "I just wanna be the Irwin Allen of Canada". What I considered to be nothing more than a statement or answer born of humbleness got quite the laugh from everyone at the table. It may have been due to the fact that I was only kidding -- I hope.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

From a Dependent Brat: The Church of Me

RCAF Station Baden-Soellingen (retitled "CFB Baden-Soellingen" in 1968), in then West Germany, had two cute little churches parked side by side near the end of a street: houses of two denominations, Catholic and Protestant; directly opposite was the base's hospital; and at the end of the street, watching, stood the fire hall with its fire engines and crash-tenders.

When I was five and six years old my dad would take me to the RC place on Sunday mornings. I remember sitting enraptured by the sermons, specifically by their extraordinary length, especially to this then child, and by what I perceived to be utter emptiness. (It's possible I knew that some things in those sermons made little sense but had yet to hurl the word "emptiness" to describe them.)

One day, a moment I remember well, I said to my dad something in a way as to avoid any misinterpretation: "Dad, I don't wanna go to church anymore."

My dad's reaction: Laughter. The kind aimed towards the heavens when one realizes that his six-year-old is figuring things out fast. And setting firm his own well-considered belief system.

The base is now an airport. Baden-Airpark.

Friday, April 21, 2017

The State of Canadian Film

The Agenda with Steve Paikin, TVOntario's outstanding public affairs program, did an hour-long program two days ago on the state of motion picture making in Canada as part of its celebration of Canadian film.

The first part of the program is titled "What's Wrong with Canadian Film?"
Watch here.

The second segment is more 'positive': "Why Canadian Film Matters."
Watch here.

It's an argument I've long heard: "Canadian films are bad." I would disagree. Without getting into an essay here, bad films are not a Canadian domain. There are loads of bad films generated in the U.S., and elsewhere. The only theory or argument I would agree with is that too many Canadian filmmakers try to copy their favourite films, in style and content; and most of those are head-of-the-line and top-of-the-line Hollywood productions. Instead of self-consciously, or, as some cynics might say, unconsciously, imitating expensive Hollywood films, why not try doing something that is "you" (and more the scale of your own wallet)?

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Past Pic: The Starlost DVD Liner Notes Story

A year ago today I wrote about my experience penning the insert liner notes for the DVD release of the old U.S./Canada science fiction television series The Starlost (1973 - 1974).

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

My Favourite Canadian FIlms

Here in Canada today is "National Canadian Film Day 150" (Canada, as a country, is 150 years old this year.)

The official website for the event is here: Canadian Film Day

This special day got me thinking about my favourite Canadian films. After some minutes of consideration my list will look like this (in no particular order):

Goin' Down the Road
Tales from the Gimli Hospital
Face Off
My Winnipeg
Jesus of Montreal
Starship Invasions
Montreal Main
Nobody Waved Goodbye
The Pyx
Mon oncle Antoine
The Death of a Lumberjack
Universe (short)
21-87 (short)
The Sweater (short animation)

I am missing so many, titles which escape me for the moment. In the days to come I'll be sure to post a "My Favourite Canadian Films II".

Poem: Friends Tell Coffee Time

Of Saturday it is!

Do you meet still
with availability?

Soap, water, squirrels
about my now laundry

In sanity punches....


Simon St. Laurent

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Re Collecting My Toronto Maple Leafs Thoughts

As I've noted a few times the last couple of weeks I possess a lack of faith in the Toronto Maple Leafs and their chances of getting anywhere this season.

I predicted the Leafs would not even make the playoffs (I was wrong) and after accepting defeat I entertained the idea that they would get hammered by the Washington Capitals in the first round of the post regular season (I was in error).

I can't imagine for a moment that the third-rate Toronto Maple Leafs will go far in these playoffs, never mind reaching the finals (I hope I'm right)....

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Supervising George Lucas

I bought recently a Blu-ray disc of George Lucas's wonderful 1973 film and American cultural document American Graffiti. The vid was marked down quite a bit which helped my decision. Also marked down to the same low price of $7.99 was Close Encounters of the Third Kind, but since it's not my kind of movie (I was disappointed in that flick when I first saw it upon its original release) I did not even consider grabbing that one too.)

Back to my brand new American Graffiti Blu-ray: Later in the day I had a look at the box and saw a bit of text that had the unfortunate effect of reminding me that Mr. Lucas 'played' with the film -- for instance he put in a lovely sunset in the opening titles background. A little dismay set in. Much in the same vein as when Ward and June Cleaver's hearts would sag any time Eddie Haskell showed up unannounced at their door. My 'Eddie Haskell' was this text on the Graffiti box: "Digitally Remastered Picture Supervised by George Lucas."

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Those Cute Toronto Sports Team Jerseys

On my way home from work I have the pleasure of being surrounded on the subway train by Toronto Maple Leafs jerseys on the daze that broken teabag plays at the Air Canada Centre and by Blue Jays jerseys on their days at the Skydome.

Blue Jays, fine; Maple Leafs, whatever.

It occurred to me, actually it occurred to me many times before, that when I travel around this great city I more often see Montreal Canadiens jerseys, caps, shirts, and hats than I do the livery of their tragic adversary -- the Leafs.

Go, Leafs, go play at the Mutual Street Arena....

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

The Battle of Vimy Ridge

Here in Canada we've been remembering the Battle of Vimy Ridge, what it means to us as a country. One hundred years ago this week (April 9 - 12) Canadian and British soldiers purged the ridge of German forces. It was a bloody battle for both sides, with thousands of young men dying and thousands more injured.

Minutes ago I watched an hour-long program that analyzed the battle from a historical perspective: There is no denying that the battle won was a great tactical military victory, but, as is typical with celebrated military campaigns, what the score was in a strategic sense is open to debate.

One thing that is not open to debate is the loss of so many young men at Vimy Ridge; all those mothers' sons....

Monday, April 10, 2017

A Good Monday Morning

The temperature in Toronto today is scheduled to reach a comfortably warm, and above average for this time of year, 22 Celsius. That is atmospheric temperature.

For "Leafs Nation" (they are the tragically devoted fans of the Toronto Maple Leafs ice hockey team) temperatures are rising. Their beloved NHL fill lost by a score of 3 - 2 to the Columbus Blue Jackets last night thereby sealing the Leafs' fate as fodder for the Washington Capitals in the first round of this year's NHL playoffs. The Blasting Caps will make paving stones of the Leafs -- in just four games.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Pierre Elliott Trudeau by Nino Ricci

Former Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau fascinates many of us who remember when he was this great country's leader (1968 - 1979, 1980 - 1984). Whether or not Trudeau was a great Prime Minister is almost irrelevant all these years later, and one does not have to be a Liberal to find his history as a man and leader to find him endlessly fascinating.

Canadian writer Nino Ricci wrote a book on Trudeau that warrants being read if one has any interest at all in Canadian politics, or wonders what all the fuss from the Right is about and why they cannot dig Canada's 15th Prime Minister out from under their sensitive skins.

Part reportage, part history lesson, Pierre Elliott Trudeau (2009) is to me an important work about an important Canadian figure.

Ricci starts off the book by telling the Trudeau Tale from his own perspective. One of his elementary school teachers was watching a program on the politician on the school's portable television set. He said to the future award-winning Canadian writer that Pierre Elliott Trudeau was going to be an important man in Canadian politics. End of first chapter.

I could not put this book down. At one point there were just eighty pages to read and I picked up the book intending to knock off about half. I finished it in one sitting. Nino Ricci knows how to tell a story. The read was highly instructive from a background and historical perspective: This reader had not realized that Trudeau could be a physical bully (in a back coffee room he all but pushed Rene Levesque around right before an important cabinet vote), and fellow Liberal party member Judy LaMarsh (1924 - 1980) absolutely hated the man.

The joke for me is that I've never read any of Nino Ricci fictional works. It's time for me to turn a page, perhaps.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Toronto Maple Leafs Cause for Humour

My blog is sometimes about humour; intentional or not. Listening to the local Toronto sportscasters, writers, and fans go on about the Maple Leafs ice hockey team's rebuilding is cause for humour -- certainly to anyone over forty, or fifty.

How long have we been hearing this? "It's a rebuilding year" . . . "The team is rebuilding" . . . "It's a young team that will mature and...."


We have heard quotes like the above:

A) 1,701 times

B) 2,863 times

C) 2,249 times

D) Any of the above (I've lost count)

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Going Through Angry Candy

One of my favourite writers is Harlan Ellison. For a guy who can at times come across as misanthropic in his various not-unfounded rants, he has a distinct humanist tract which comes through most clearly in his writing.

Right now I'm going through his 1988 short story collection, Angry Candy. I first read this book many years ago, not long after it hit the market. A story I remembered clearly is "Laugh Track". The premise is a man who now works in television had an aunt who's voice lives forever in television laugh track tracks. Her distinctive "lelluva laugh", one that "could pucker your lips", had been recorded originally in the 1950s when she was a member of a live studio audience. It developed a life all its own as it was repeatedly dubbed down over the years and decades over dumbed down television fare; as in very unfunny, classically not funny at all!, sitcoms. The kind used to pry your brain away from any intellectual ambition and to make it live like a Jelly Roll projectile that will peak as decoration on a cinder block wall.

Out of a kernel that may on the surface seem like something best left as chicken scratch on an old chalkboard, Ellison spins poignancy. There is an urgency to live, to feel, and not to resist fate. He knows life in the same way that Woody Allen does: It's a load of crap but a survivable load made survivable by laughing. Like an unfunny sitcom.

Harlan Ellison could write about a late bill payment and make it funny, surreal, and something to think about. Now for the next story:

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Past Pic: Beautiful Toronto Swan Cruise

On March 17th of last year I posted about a swan swim team.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Movies About Yesterday

I have no desire to turn this blog into a movie review column, but watching two disparate flicks yesterday has made me give in just for one day. I hope.

Todd Solondz's 2009 Life Under Wartime I enjoyed even though I have not yet seen its ancestor, Happiness. (I have seen Welcome to the Dollhouse.) Watching Life made me think "Woody Allen collides with John Waters". It's a birdcage of humanity.

Now for the second feature in my yesterday. Xanadu is a film I ignored when it hit movie screens back in the summer of 1980, and now I'm glad I did. The reviews were not good. I had no idea that Jeff Lynne and ELO (Electric Light Orchestra) had anything to do with this roller skate wreck. However, I was aware at the time that Gene Kelly was involved and elevated this rubbish somewhat. The climactic last reel featuring the opening of "Xanadu", the club, was hardly worth the wait. It was like getting an okay neck rub after going down with the Titanic....

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Leafs Talk in a Toronto Coffee Shop

We writers must keep our ears to the ground in search of a story. Sitting in a coffee shop is one way to do our work; to mind one's business, but not feel like an eavesdropper should fellow patrons talk of cultural issues at an audible level.

Recently two older gents sat at the table beside me and debated the chances of the Toronto Maple Leafs making this year's NHL (National Hockey League) playoffs.

Gent 1: "They have a real chance of getting somewhere this year."

Gent 2: "Really? We've been hearing this for years."

Gent 1: "Yeah, but they have Auston Matthews."

Gent 2: "Yes, I know, but we've heard this kind of story many times before; for a long time."

"Gent 2" is right. Over the years there has been a Darryl Sittler, Rick Vaive, Curtis Joseph, Wendel Clark, and more. Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner are just the latest stooges who will take the Toronto Maple Leafs to a place nowhere....

(I use the word "stooges" in the Toronto Maple Leafs Masterplan context. I'm sure they are nice people; and they are/were fine hockey players, of course. Most forgotten is the fact one must have a good team, not just two or three good players. Sports history is littered with Leafs-type teams -- they are nothing special in that regard.)

Saturday, April 1, 2017

From the Refrigerator

One thing curiously lacking in this guy's blog is "video product"; processed single thins of moving pictures. I've posted much text and many still photographs here, but no embedded files of my film and video work. I'm in the process of changing this oversight.

No, it's not an "April Fools!" joke. For someone who considers himself a Grade-A jokester, it's amazing that I forget to celebrate this special day every year. However, I have been sketching out a story from 1979. That year I pulled perhaps my greatest prank. It did not happen on April 1st but it could have.

The "victim"? old friend of mine, a friend who shall remain nameless since he fell for a prank that should have been transparently obvious. There is another good reason for me to protect his identity. He is a high school teacher and a former municipal politician.

Soon, from the refrigerator: Me, Simon; Bert I. Gordon; and....

Friday, March 31, 2017

Past Pic: Slating "Hyper-Reality"

On February 2nd of last year I posted three slates from my uncompleted 35mm short film, Hyper-Reality. Above is the first....

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Tracking Cosmonauts on "Hyper-Reality"

A crew films a scene for my uncompleted 35mm short film, Hyper-Reality.

Left to right: Erminia Diamantopoulos (costumer); Peter St. Laurent (grip); Glenn Orr (cameraman); William La Rochelle (production assistant); Albert Gavrilin (actor); Julia Gordyukova (actor); Simon St. Laurent (director); David Shuken (stills photographer and production assistant). Missing, taking the pic: Brian Berger (best boy).

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

The Books Drop

Two summers ago I witnessed one of those little events that puts one's perspective in perspective.

As I stood at an intersection here in downtown Toronto, waiting for the signal lights to change so I could cross the street, a young man stepped to my right. The amber light fired up and just to my right a small pile of paperback books crashed to the ground, were thrown to the ground with some force. The guy, now I could see that he was a robust and good-looking young buck, dashed off into the intersection and said emphatically with a touch of discernible self pity: "I hate life!"

His sling-shot of a dash concerned me but I then noticed that the automobile traffic had rolled to a stop. Then I started thinking. I found it interesting how we judge people, and their mental states, by how they look. It makes more sense to us for some reason that a man or woman who is suffering from "mental illness" must somehow look the part. Someone who's obviously "down and out" ticks the first check box. Really?

Young people who hit the street do so for a multitude of possible reasons. While mental illness could be a reason, often it's the check box denoting "Unfortunate Event". The young man in my story looked as though he would be right at home in a loving home, and on weekends, armed with his trendy up-combed hair, could be hitting the music acts in downtown Toronto.

I hope he's okay....

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Past Pic: Me Directing on Hyper-Reality

The above pic is from a posting I did on February 20th of last year: Directing in the Alien Lair of Hyper-Reality

Monday, March 27, 2017

Past Pic: Alien Action on Hyper-Reality

On February 5th of last year I posted a picture taken behind the scenes on Hyper-Reality, my uncompleted 35mm short film.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

This Full Frame Goes Wide

"You bought that on Blu-ray?", I threw back to my Star Wars fan buddy. "The original Star Trek series?" He nodded gently as though he understood clearly that his sneaky move was easy to understand. I stunned: "I don't even have that show on Blu-ray." (I don't have Star Trek on any format, including paper prints.)

My friend of fine and broad tastes had a quip on the Blu-ray's quality, over and above the stunning image: "It has black bars on both sides of the picture."

I explained to him something very familiar to me as I worked for years in film/television 'imaging': "It's like that because those shows were shot full-frame; full-Academy. To tell you the truth, most widescreen feature films, the ones not photographed in 'scope', were shot full-frame; they just put a mask on the top and bottom of the image to create a 1.66:1 or 1.85:1 widescreen format . . . when they were aired on television, the prints were commonly shown full-frame which is why you'd sometimes see a microphone drop in from the top of the picture." (Flicks photographed via that method would involve the camera operator composing for the intended widescreen. His/her camera eyepiece would have finder markings for the 1.66:1 and/or 1.85:1 aspect ratios.) Movies shot in "CinemaScope", or other "scope", would have special prints struck for television's then 1.33:1 aspect ratio. An exponent of this method was what is referred to as "pan-and-scan", which often involved a simple shot-by-shot repositioning.

The point of this article is that I always want full frame, certainly on (not necessarily that) old television programs. The camera operator composed the shot for the then television broadcast ratio. And I want that.

This morning I learned that the superb 1973-74 British television documentary series The World at War has been released in its original screen ratio. (Its first Blu-ray release from a couple of years ago has the ever luscious 16:9 aspect ratio.) This new release is for Region-2 only but maybe it'll see Region-1 so I can consider buying the set.

There's something else I could grab on Blu-ray....

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Great Stanley Kubrick Quotes

As I wrote on this blog a few weeks ago, I read the book The Making of Kubrick's 2001 when I was in elementary school. In that book was a quote from the great filmmaker that I 'got' even as a kid:

"Perhaps it sounds ridiculous, but the best thing that young filmmakers should do is to get hold of a camera and some film and make a movie of any kind at all."

If memory serves, the following quote too was in that book and it resonated for a kid who felt that....just read the quote:

"I think the big mistake in schools is trying to teach children anything, and by using fear as the basic motivation. Fear of getting failing grades, fear of not staying with your class, etc. Interest can produce learning on a scale compared to fear as a nuclear explosion to a firecracker."

It's amazing to me that educators do not "get it".

Friday, March 24, 2017

From a Dependent Brat: Of Bunkers and the Rounds

I arrived in West Germany in October of 1966 when the war, WW2, was just two decades in the past. Because of this handy fact there were lots of 'residual matter' left lying around from that great conflict. Bunkers were common in the area I lived -- about a mile from the French border and the dividing, and all-important bulkhead, Rhine River -- for they were part of the defence of Nazi Germany. Courtesy of many years of warm and cold weather back-and-forth action, expended shell casings and unfired rounds of ammunition would constantly pop to the surface ready for us little ones to collect. These weapons of war were great and much desired collectibles. ("Hockey cards? Ha!") However, as part of our education at home and at school our superiors made it clear that we were never to touch, never mind collect, those potent pieces of history.

One could still find reminding-bits of warfare in the local bunkers, of which an example sat in a field very close to where I lived in Iffezheim. I admit that I did at least once go right up to the bunker but did not try to climb around inside as it was by then a collapsed structure. (One of my most vivid memories is of something I saw while travelling on an RCAF bus in the late 1960s; out my window, as the trees parted, was a sight to behold: a field of anti-tank traps. The scene of light-grey-toned pyramids spread orderly over the green grass was almost beautiful.)

One day on the CFB Baden-Soellingen Elementary School grounds a fellow schoolmate pulled out a large clear plastic bag to show off to our small gathered circle. In this conveniently transparent bag, one which could have been used to contain a few ounces of water and a small calibre goldfish, was a large assortment of small and medium calibre ammunition. There was a mix of fully intact rounds and empty shell casings. A veritable grab-bag of violence.

That's all....

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Past Pic: The Aliens of Hyper-Reality

On February 2nd of last year I wrote about my unfinished 35mm short film Hyper-Reality. At the end of the piece I joked (on the spot) that I should look into 'crowdfunding' in order to finish the endeavour.

I did some research into the crowdfunding model but elected not to pursue a campaign at that time due to other commitments. Perhaps it's time I reactivate the idea of finishing Hyper-Reality....

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Past Pic: Stephen Harper's Blueprint For Success

Back on October 18th of 2015, the day before our most recent Federal election here in Canada, I drew an editorial bit regarding then Prime Minister Stephen Harper's Conservatives and their simple approach to political campaigning: Stephen Harper's Blueprint for Success

By the way, that blueprint did not plan for success.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

The Blog of John Kenneth Muir

Today I have something a little different: A shout-out for a blogger who excels at reviewing and analyzing films and television programs, old and new. His name is John Kenneth Muir and his daily writings can be found here.

In addition to maintaining his blog, John is the author of several books on past television programs, including Doctor Who, Blake's 7, and Space: 1999. These books are not of the typical episode-guide and superficial overview type, but are in-depth treatises.

What I like about Mr Muir's blog postings is that, like the best film critics, which would include Toronto's own Geoff Pevere, he relates and compares the discussed work to the culture of the time -- when the 'art' was produced. This should be a very important component in critical reviews of an art form, especially a commercial one. What was happening culturally, politically, technologically, when something like The X-Files or King Kong hits the marketplace?

JKM's reviews are of 360 degrees.

John Kenneth Muir's Reflections on Cult Movies and Classic TV

Monday, March 20, 2017

Past Pic: A Planet Painting for Visual Effects

On May 11th of last year I posted a picture of a painting I did way back in 1988. Of course, now I could do it faster and cheaper on my computer.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

The Soundtrack of My (Youth)

When I work on projects at home I will listen to music, or, if my task requires little concentration, spoken-word discussions or narrated pieces. Yesterday while looking for stuff to download from the wonderful BBC radio podcast site I noticed that British film reviewer/writer Mark Kermode had recorded a four-part series called "The Soundtrack of My Life". I listened to the first part last night.

Titled, simply enough, "Soundtrack Albums", the piece involved Kermode's memories of discovering film scores and soundtracks. He talks of his first, then goes on to interview several filmmakers and composers.

I remember my first soundtrack album. It was from a film I had seen just months before, in 1975, at the Terra Theatre in CFB Borden: Rollerball.

Later, as I perused the LP record bin at the PX (Public Exchange) in Borden, I happened across the Rollerball soundtrack and learned then that there was a tie-in record. I bought it on the spot. This LP was not an original soundtrack in the traditional sense, but a compilation of music: A mix of Shostakovich, Tchaikovsky, Bach, and two more-contemporary pieces by Andre Previn composed specifically for the film. One of the catches for me was Tomaso Albinoni's "Adagio"; I remembered that it was used quite effectively in the Space: 1999 television series episode "Dragon's Domain", which I had also seen just a few months earlier. Now that I think about it, I played the Rollerball record a lot. It was not my introduction to recorded classical music -- my parents had a good selection from that domain -- but the choices, no doubt by the film's director, Norman Jewison, seemed to be a perfect blend for this then young listener.

My next album was the music to Space: 1999, which I was a little disappointed in, and a couple of years after that was Battlestar Galactica. (What's with all the sci-fi TV crap? Oh yeah, I was young.) A side note to the latter score: When I listened to it again, many years later, I couldn't help but notice the William Walton influence. This really comes through on one piece in particular.

No, I did not get the soundtrack to Star Wars in 1977. What turned me off of buying it, I think, was after a friend of mine lent me the two-LP set a few weeks before we saw the movie. (The album was actually available before the movie release itself in some markets.) As I had discovered Miklos Rosza's Ben Hur music the summer before -- courtesy of my dad's original 1959 "Stereophonic" pressing of that album -- the Star Wars music on its own sounded rather lame. When I returned the album to my friend I mentioned that I found the music to be "watery" and didn't even bother turning the first LP over to play "side 2". (He too was not impressed. After all, this was the guy who got me into the German band Kraftwerk.) Of course the music plays wonderfully well with the film and is a classic film score. Film scores, as composer Gerald Fried noted in an interview years ago, generally don't stand on their own as music. This is not a failing, of course, since they are designed, quite designed in fact, to play with picture and other audio elements. Those audio tracks can get quite crowded. Some scores do work on their own; it doesn't mean they are better scores, just that they can be listened to away from the movie. I've since acquired the Star Wars CD and I like the background music much better now as a standalone....the few times I've given it a spin. Oh, I bought the LP version in 1982.

The first 'original music' film score soundtrack LP that I remember getting was for Alien. I was very impressed, even though I had not yet seen the film. Speaking of film composer Jerry Goldsmith, for that's who I was speaking of in that case, later in 1979 he would produce his brilliant music accompaniment for Star Trek - The Motion Picture. (It's the best part of that slightly underrated film, I think. The theme tune, in particular, is one of the greatest of movie anthems.)

What's with all the sci-fi movie scores? Well, for starters, there's the LP to Patton.

I'm a fan of the late composer Jerry Goldsmith. His effect was best summed up recently by producer/writer Seth MacFarlane on a BBC radio show: "(Goldsmith) was an insanely talented guy."

There are others who's work I admire: (the great) Bernard Herrmann, Franz Waxman, Max Steiner, Elmer Bernstein, John Williams, David Shire, John Barry, Ennio Morricone, Ron Goodwin....

Decades ago I stopped collecting film scores. The odd one would trickle down onto my shelf. I enjoy film scores best when they are with the actual film. Also, scoring today, 'the state of', is pretty pathetic. I'm speaking more of the Hollywood product. While smaller films are getting some fine work in that area, most "tent pole" pictures are tracked with overwrought orchestral parts of nothing (but noise). It's been this way for years. It's hardly a requirement that a film theme should consist of a memorable 'song', it really depends on the show, but, as film director Edgar Wright states in the Mark Kermode program I listened to last night: "What's the most recent film score that you can really hum?"


Okay, I'll cheat and play The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. That just might be the soundtrack of most of our lives.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Past Pic: Toronto Chicken Save Vigil

On July 23rd of 2015 I attended my first Toronto Chicken Save vigil, and on the 19th of the next month I wrote up some thoughts. I love animals and put them on a 'rights' par with we humans, so I don't understand why I'm not more active in the animal rights movement. Having said that, this armchair critic was not impressed with the clumsy and inefficient tactics of the Chicken (Cow, PigSave people. But, at least they are doing something about the issue.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Past Pic: Graveyard Shift Contact Sheet

A blog posting from December 30th, 2012: A contact sheet sample from October of 1985 showing photographs I took in the studio during preparation of Graveyard Shift's graveyard set. (That studio is long gone, although the building is still there. It's on George Street, south of Queen.)

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Notes from a Dependent Brat: Hockey of All Sorts

Canadian Forces Base Borden's roads are made for road hockey. They are relatively quiet. Elm Street was my hockey arena every bit as much as the base's two ice rinks, Dyte Hall and Andy Anderson. On that short stretch of roadway there were "wicked" slap shots, scintillating saves, spectacular goals, balls screaming down its length, injuries, impassioned conflict, and loads of fun.

Our road hockey season stretched as long as was rational, or sane. Like kids from all over, inside and outside the borders of CFB Borden, when spring came, certainly the warm weather, we traded-in the hockey sticks and pucks/balls for tennis balls and rackets, baseball bats and mitts. This transition never sat well with me, so one year I decided to resist even more than usual. The prime component of this grand resistance was to create something new: "Grass Hockey." My new found skills made my hockey-stick-armed friends take to the grass in the same way that baseball-mitted kids take to the grass.

We dragged the game of hockey out to an extreme length; one so long that we must have touched the start of the next road hockey season: September.

The houses on Elm Street are gone, having been razed a few years ago, as were their surrounding brothers and sisters on School Street and Hemlock Crescent, but the roads and grassy fields are still there:

Ghosts of all-season hockey-loving kids play to the calls of Echoplexed trumpets....

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Past Pic: Set Design on Web-Series

In March and April of 2011 I worked on a web-series as a set designer/builder. On April 13th of that year I wrote a little piece about the job.

I snapped the above pic between takes.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

My First Day of High School - Imagine!

Here in Canada the other day, several 'pot shops' were raided by police forces and people were arrested. While illegal at the moment, these dispensaries may soon be able to exist as legitimate businesses.

This reminded me of my first day of high school, mid 1970s.

As I moved somewhat self-consciously down an end hallway a well-dressed young man in flared jeans and matching jacket, and sporting long hair with matching facial hair, approached me with a signature drooping walk. He had what I assumed to be some kind of survey question, the kind dispensed to "minor niners" like me:

"Hey, man. Wanna buy some grass?"

At first I remembered what my parents said to me before I boarded the school bus earlier that morning: "If someone asks you if you want to buy some pot, say 'yes'." Or was it?....was it "no"? Darn. Nobody told me that high school was this hard! I then remembered that my mother gave me twenty dollars, but my memory told me that the money was not for "grass". Wait a, it was for "pot", not grass.

I told the gentleman: "I want to thank you for your concern and consideration, kind sir, but my answer is 'no'."

Monday, March 13, 2017

Past Pics: Sea Things

"Sea Thing (On the Beach)" is a sketch I did back in 1984 then posted about it on this blog in February of 2010.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Poem: whenever

My mind waits
on the day

While in the
daze of sleep

my mind
wanders in
a nightie
and slippers


Simon St. Laurent

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Past Pics: Graveyard Shift

In October of 1985 I worked on the Canadian horror feature film Graveyard Shift as a set designer. On November 27th of 2009 I wrote a piece on my experiences.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Poem: The Cat's But

My cat asked for
my homage


If I failed to
He would pay
homage to
me and my


Simon St. Laurent

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Past Pics: Making "Hamlet"

On November 17th of 2009 I posted a piece on my visit to Dover, England, in April of 1990. While visiting the amazing Dover Castle I happened upon a shoot for director Franco Zeffirelli's Hamlet.

Past Pics: "Four by Three" Compilation 1