Sunday, February 22, 2004

time, time, time...

While several other entries remain in the development hell known as "the drafts folder", we'll move to examine some old items kicking around...this time 70s Time magazines found dirt cheap in Kitchener

Was in K-W on Valentine's Day, beginning the task of picking up goodies for a dinner party - had to do something to keep myself occupied on the day of the year you feel the world looks down on you for being single. Figured it was a good day to get away from the city. Last stop was at the K-W Book Exchange, the store where magazines go to die. Found a stack of late 70s vintage Time magazines, decided a couple might provide some vintage ads to use for design inspiration or to hack up for greeting cards. Bought 4, one each from '76-'79. Like the 1969 Macleans featured in an earlier log, these magazine had stories which still impact us today. Let's start with the oldest of the lot...

February 16, 1976
COVER STORY: large drawing of lawyer F. Lee Bailey's head - "PATTY IN COURT"
STORY MOST RELEVANT TO TODAY: A story on US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger's falling popularity with both Republicans and Democrats, especially concerning negotiations over the SALT treaty. The story mostly deals with Kissinger's battles with the Defense Secretary...one Donald Rumsfeld, shown in a picture chewing on a pen, not looking much different than he does now.
ODDBALL ADS: A picture of a normal-looking kid happily clutching a football larger than his head. "They thought we couldn't do it..." It's an ad for the Canadian Association for the Mentally Retarded.
WHAT WAS GOING ON IN THE GREAT WHITE NORTH: Reader's Digest finally fits the rules for being considered a "Canadian" magazine...Margaret Trudeau breaks all the protocol rules on a trip through Latin America...Canada wins its first medal at the '76 Winter Olympics in Innsbruck, a silver in speed skating...CODCO appears at Theatre Passe Muraille

April 25, 1977
COVER STORY: Jimmy Carter and energy policy
STORY MOST RELEVANT TO TODAY: An interview with current Oscar nominee Diane Keaton, accompnaying a review of Annie Hall.
ODDBALL ADS: For National Secretaries Week, a gift suggestion courtesy of Ralph Kramden himself, Jackie Gleason. "Behind every great man...are the women who helped you make it. Let's give them a round of applause and my Jackie Gleason Daisy Cup Bouquet!" Guess a pay raise didn't cut it. The accompanying drawing shows a secretary in thoughtful mode (her glasses touching her lips) on the right side, what looks like a cutout of Gleason on the left and an unspectacular setting of daisies in a hideous cup in the middle. All for $10.95! ($9.95 for 2 or more).
WHAT WAS GOING ON IN THE GREAT WHITE NORTH: No Canada section this issue. Only mention is in the "People" section, with a picture of Pierre Trudeau about to dive into a swimming pool.

June 19, 1978
COVER STORY: The California property tax revolt led by retired industrialist Howard Jarvis, whose brief infamy led to a cameo appearance in the movie Airplane - he's the guy Ted Stryker leaves in the cab at the airport, who has the one-liner after the credits.
STORIES MOST RELEVANT TO TODAY: The Jarvis tax revolt, as the laws that resulted from his grass-roots campaign (Proposition 13) led to other laws that led to the California budget meltdown (due to curbs in the methods of raising taxes) that ultimately led to the recall sideshow last year. There's also a story titled "West Bank: The Cruelest Conflict". It still is.
ODDBALL ADS: "Announcing the return of traditional values." It's an ad for Canadian Tradition Rye Whiskey. There's a spot for Japan Air Lines featuring a teapot with a reflection of a stewardess in a kimono pouring traditional tea for passengers.
WHAT WAS GOING ON IN THE GREAT WHITE NORTH: Zilch. No pictures of any of the Trudeau family in their skivvies.

June 4, 1979
COVER STORY: A feature on writer Russell Baker. In the top corner, Joe Clark's defeat of Pierre Trudeau in the '79 federal election.
STORY MOST RELEVANT TO TODAY: Seems we're heading for a federal election soon, one could also result in a minority government. Funniest line from the article, from a Trudeau aide: "The Conservatives' bottom line is that it's time for a change. Our bottom line is that Joe Clark is a nerd." I can see the same line dredged up if Harper or Clement become the new Conservative leader.
ODDBALL ADS: The Loews LeConcorde hotel in Quebec City proudly boasts that it has Quebec's hottest discotheque. A picture shows two sweaty rejects from Saturday Night Fever. Lots of beer ads with stubbies
WHAT WAS GOING ON IN THE GREAT WHITE NORTH: Besides the election, the Canadiens won their fourth-straight Stanley Cup, defeating the Rangers.

Thursday, February 12, 2004

great moments in telepone customer service

Bell Canada has made my week miserable.

Flashback - about a year ago, when the last set of neighbours moved in, Bell decided that my phone line was their's and vice versa, leading to a day of confusion.

Last weekend, I returned from a night out (think it was Bondyra's birthday, but my short-term memory isn't working well these days) to find three messages on my phone. The first two were from Bell, wanting to confirm my order to cancel my phone line in a week's time. Here we go again...immediately tried to call Bell, but their annoying phone voice informed me that customer service was closed for the weekend. Didn't leave me in a good mood. Decided to find out what the third message was - it was the doofuses at Best Price Movers. Looks like Boris is back. I yelled obscenities into the phone, even though it was a canned voice. Gotta remember to look at the CRTC number, so tired of receiving these poorly recorded messages.

When I got up Monday morning, gave Bell a shout. The operator indicated the mix-up would be fixed. Then they proceeded to go into a schpiel about Bell's other services, which I tried (unsuccessfully) to cut off. Whoever came up with that method of captive advertising has hopefully found a fiery cauldron to spend their remaining days in. It's an annoying practice, especially when the service rep won't take the hint that you are in no mood to hear about further ways their company can separate you from your savings account.

Come back from Spirits last night (more about that later), check the phone and find another message asking me to confirm cancellation of my phone line.

I blew a gasket.

First thing this morning, call Bell again, equipped with my crankiest mood. Different service rep, who I spoke to sternly. Approach worked, as they tapped away and made a few calls, trying to figure out the source of the mixup. Was going to try and find the history of line installations in this house. This rep also took the hint when I coldly said I did not want to hear about any services. Had that happened, I would have blowed up real good.

The test will be Saturday, to see if I have functioning phone/internet service. If a screw-up occurs, I may phone up a friend who works for Rogers and see if they can cut me a deal...

Wednesday, February 04, 2004

blast from the past

One of the things I love about used items is finding traces of a previous owner. It gives a sense of history to the item. If you're lucky, you'll find out what that person was thinking while they used the item.

Take my copy of Stevie Wonder's classic 1973 album, Innervisions, the one with Higher Ground and Living For The City. Picked it up in a $1 record bin in Detroit a few years ago. There are two spots on the jacket where an earlier owner wrote information on when they purchased it, each spot with the same information (symbols noted in square brackets):

Jag 5. LP #440. [circle with a dot in the middle] in [Omega symbol] (30th of Omega; 21st of August, 1975). [crescent moon] in [one wavy line on top of another] (just minutes past full). [an "I" with an arrow pointing right through the middle] rising (when purchased, appox. 17:15 E.D.T.)

What do the symbols mean? Was the owner heavily into astronomy, astrology or a faith? What were the 439 other albums they owned? Why and where did they buy this album that summer day in '75? What does Jag 5 refer to?

There's one other tidbit - "got it for $3.98, at least $1.00 below list". So, our owner knew a bargain when they saw one (though I got a better one 25 years on).

For a lark, I picked up the October 1969 issue of Macleans while stocking up on British music mags over the weekend. The cover stories are:
"How Trudeau's Inner Circle Runs Canada"
"Would You Believe...Saskatoon"
"What Men (And Women) Do When They're Bored (I suspect this ties into the cover photo, a young couple kissing)
"Redraw The Map of Canada and Win $500"

The latter was a contest to redraw the boundaries of Canada, based on your feelings on how these divisions should reflect "today's realities". The magazine included 3 examples - one with 8 regions (North Columbia, Alsaskman, Ontario, York, Montreal, Quebec, Newfoundland and Atlantica), one without Quebec, where the country is split in two but connected by a "Polish Corridor" customs-free highway through the Eastern Townships and Maine, and and a map where all but Quebec are incorporate as 4 new states of the US.

The previous owner of the magazine, an 18-year old, wrote his choice but forgot to send it in. It's revealing for how his views are not far off from those being put forward by Canada's mayors today. He liked the first map option, for these reasons:

The main feature I like is the separation of our great metropolitan centres. This will allow them to govern their affairs without entangling the rest of the provinces in putting their taxes for these cities. And I believe Quebec has a future in Canada, but I wonder about the large prairies.

Sound familiar? I wondered if someone wrote this in at a later date, but the family name matches that on the subscription label on the front. - JB