Wednesday, August 30, 2006

once upon a june wedding

Dancing In The Mist
Backstory: Michael is my longest-lasting friend - we met around grade 4 and stayed close through the end of high school. In elementary school, we'd play games for hours on his Commodore 64 hours. In high school, we were involved in Amherst's annual musical - me on stage, Mike on the tech side. If you ever need to know what my life was like pre-university, he's the expert.

We lost touch for a few years after graduation. Around my second year in TO, Mom ran into his mother and discovered he was working at a Canadian Tire store down here. About a week or two later, I hopped into the elevator at work. Another guy was in the elevator and we noticed something familiar about each other.



We still laugh about our reunion.


The wedding was the day before I flew to London. It was my first wedding outside of a non-denominational or Christian setting, so I was looking forward to seeing the differences. The program was very helpful in explaining the ceremony. Here is an excerpt, paraphrased in some spots to make it less specific to this particular wedding:
A traditional Jewish wedding is comprised of several parts, each one rich in history and customs. We hope that the following explanations will help you understand the meaning of our beautiful rituals.

Traditionally, the Jewish wedding starts with the signing of the marriage contract/Ketubbah. The Ketubbah is then given to the bride for safekeeping.

After the signing of the contract/Ketubbah, the groom goes up to his bride and looks her in the face. Having confirmed that she is the woman he has chosen to marry, he then lowers her veil. This is symbolic of the lesson learned from the story of Jacob who was tricked into marrying Leah instead of Rachel, his true love. Leah pretended to be Rachel by covering her face with a veil so Jacob wouldn't know the truth of who he was about to marry.

The wedding ceremony takes place under the chuppah (wedding canopy) which the couple and those closest to them will gather. The chuppah represents the home to be built and shared by the couple and is opened on four sides to let family and visitors know they are always welcome.

Under the chuppah, the groom will stand to the left of the bride. After the introduction by the rabbi, the groom recites his wedding vows and places the ring on the bride's right index finger. The bride recites her wedding vows and places the ring on the groom's right index finger. The rings are placed on the right index fingers because of an ancient belief that the index finger is directly connected to the heart, meaning from that point onwards, the hearts of the couple are forever joined.

The Ketubbah is read aloud by the rabbi. This is followed by a reading of seven wedding blessings (sheva berachot) by the cantor. During this reading, the couple will sip wine. When the reading is completed, the groom breaks a glass with his right foot. The breaking of the glass represents the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem. The shattered glass also reminds us how fragile life is, that even the most joyous occasion must be tempered with solemnity.

Michael had converted to his bride's faith and the rabbi noted he was a dedicated student. This wasn't surprising, as he has always been the type to carefully study anything he worked on, making sure it turned out perfectly. Who knows how much I owe him for fixes to various problems over the years.

Mother and Son The Flower Girls
Left: the groom and his mother. Right: the flower girls.

It was a sunny afternoon, which flooded the synagogue with light. Good sign, I figured. The ceremony went well - my only problem was my camera showing the first signs of its "demise", jamming twice (the camera survived London, "died" Canada Day weekend, has recently shown signs of being functional again - better two working cameras than none).

Place Settingd Hava Nagila On The Disco Round, Oh Yeah Fiesta of Fruit
Left: table waiting for guests, Left centre: a round of Hava Nagila. Right centre: the disco ball gets a workout. Right: a fiesta of fruit.

The reception was held at a restaurant in Concord. The meal started with a large selection of dips and salads and went from there. There was a live band, who got the room onto to the floor with a round of Hava Nagila. During the evening, I heard the odd Saturday Night Fever joke, owing to the disco ball, mirrored walls and upbeat music.

Betty Dances Shimmy Time
Left: the bride in the traditional family dress. Right: time to dance!

One of the most interesting parts of the evening came later on, when Betty switched from her wedding dress to a garment passed down through her family for many generations. Beautiful hues of gold and blue. Apparently there have been offers made to the family, but it is nice to see family traditions continue to be handed down through time.

Full photo set. - JB

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

he's a furious booster for wayne and shuster

Vintage Ad #52 - He's A Furious Booster
The oldest CBC ad I've found in my mound of mags, touting the network's comedy/variety lineup for 65-66. The jovial man pictured is Larry Mann, a mainstay of CBC television programming of the era (including the show he's a booster for, Wayne and Shuster). Among Mann's credits: the voice of Yukon Cornelius in Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer.

Speaking of Rudolph, was anyone else spooked as a kid by the Rankin Bass logo that appeared at the end? If you're confused, this clip will jostle your memory.

It's a simple ad, but it's not hard to see why he's laughing at the lineup. Read the fine print and you'll encounter many fondly remember series, including the debut seasons of Get Smart! and I Dream of Jeannie and the end of the line for The Dick Van Dyke Show.

As for those shows that might not be familiar:

Flashback (1962-68): CBC copies itself with a variant on Front Page Challenge. The panel had to guess the person or event, followed by an interview. Host Bill Walker departed after the 65-66 season, due to a sponsor change; Walker was also a Ford spokesman, while the show switched to Chrysler (Walker went on to host Party Game in the 70s). Among the regular panelists was future Saturday Night at the Movies host Elwy Yost. According to the book TV North, writers were so desperate to come up with publicity material for panelist Larry Solway that "it was padded with descriptions of his home (central air, panelled rec room)." (54) The show was apparently cursed, as actors Adolphe Menjou and ZaSu Pitts and bandleader Glen Gray all died shortly after their turns as the mystery guest.

Hank (1965-66, import from NBC): a sitcom starring Dick Kallman as a college concession stand operator who disguises himself and sneaks into classes. Hijinks ensue from his deceptions. Cancellation notice was given far enough in advance to wrap up the loose ends when the final episode rolled around.

O.K. Crackerby (1965-66, import from ABC): TV Guide critic and note cat lover Cleveland Amory developed this satirical sitcom about a millionaire (Burl Ives) with the common touch who is looked down upon by the upper crust. Several websites feel the title was a play on the term "cracker".

Source: Maclean's, September 18, 1965 

Thursday, August 24, 2006

pyramid power at the art shoppe


Vintage Ad #41 - The Company Store
(Yeah, it's been a crazy week here, hence the large number of "vintage ad" posts recently. While prepping for future posts and such, may as well put the finishing touches on a couple of entries that have sat in draft limbo for awhile).

Every morning on my walk to work, I cross Yonge in front of The Art Shoppe. I've never gone in, despite the well-arranged displays in the front windows (some good, some bizarre - metallic greyhounds?), probably due to my furniture price range being limited to IKEA.

Note the pyramid pictured, which I'm guessing plays into the "abstract mystery usually associated with office planning". Pyramid power reached its height in Toronto during the Maple Leafs' 1976 playoff run, when coach Red Kelly placed pyramids around the dressing room and under the bench, evidently as a confidence booster and a means to distract the team from the latest outbursts from irascible owner Harold Ballard (1972 CBC clip of Pal Hal's brief prison term - we'll spare you his infamous '79 outburst about certain reporters).

Meanwhile, the plants in the back make me think of "the cheap plant" Guy Caballero always kicked/shot at on SCTV...except that if the foliage came from the Art Shoppe, it wouldn't be so cheap.

Pity Mr. Businessman, so lacking in colour. He may have secured a decent office set for his coworkers, but his utter lack of personality and grey demeanor led to his being let go during a round of belt-tightening at A.T. & Love in 1980.

Note the other location of the store: Bermuda. Were any luxury dining tables been lost in the triangle?

Source: Saturday Night, March 1978

Friday, August 18, 2006

serpents aboard an airliner

It was going to be a rare quiet Thursday night. Sitting at home, wasting time on the computer, debating when to pop a Harold Lloyd disc I rented into the DVD-o-matic.
The phone rings.

It's my friend Brad, who I haven't seen in awhile. He knows I'm game for most things, so asks if I'm interested in catching a movie.

It takes a special movie to motivate one to drive from Guelph to Toronto to catch a flick on a weeknight.

Hello, opening night for Snakes on a Plane.

We drove down to the Paramount. For the first time ever, I ordered tickets online and was surprised how quick the pick-up process was. Brad joked that my reaction would have made a good commercial ("wow, I can't believe how simple that was!").

The theatre wasn't 100% packed, but the crowd was lively. When we walked in, teens were already yelling "SNAKES ON A PLANE!" and jeering the first of a 10-minute stream of commericals. Objects flew around the seats. Audience members were decked out in plastic snakes and cheap Halloween afro wigs. Odd, considering nobody sports one in the flick. An homage to earlier Samuel L. Jackson roles?

We couldn't figure out the dude in full Star Trek: The Next Generation dress uniform.

A roar of cheering hit when the movie started. Brad enjoyed the opening sequence, full of helicopter shots, surf, a guy riding a bike and easygoing music.

The crowd was thoroughly absorbed in the movie, calling out comments as if they had developed their own Rocky Horror-style script beforehand. Lots of hissing. Among the other lines we heard:

"He needs its natural enemy! It's a mongoose!"
"Snakes on a (insert whatever object was onscreen at the time)!"
"Snake on a lei!"

The movie itself?

(potential spoilers)

Enjoyable fluff, enhanced by audience participation. With a title like Snakes on a Plane, it has to have its tongue firmly planted in cheek. Movie references abound - many characters would have been comfortable in the Airport series or other 70s disaster flicks, a reference to Airplane might have snuck in, the inevitable Gremlins joke, etc.

Rick Groen wrote a good analysis in yesterday's Globe and Mail on the phenomenon spawned by the movie and why standard criticism may be irrelevant.

Goofy, ludicrous fun...but you have to see it with a crowd. It might not work so well alone at home. SSSSSSSSS... - JB

Recommended Movies to Watch Afterwards
SSSSSSS (1973) Mad zoologist Strother Martin (the man who uttered the immortal line "what we have here is a failure to communicate" in Cool Hand Luke), complete with alcoholic pet snake, slowly transforms assistant Dirk Benedict (Face from The A-Team) into a King Cobra.

Airplane! (1980) The template for modern joke-a-minute genre parodies, especially involving flight. Cornball fun. "Oh, it's a big pretty white plane with a red stripes, curtains at the windows, wheels, and it just looks like a big Tylenol."

Raiders of the Lost Ark (1982) - "I hate snakes."

Thursday, August 17, 2006

fake facial hair brings out the sexy

Vintage Ad #45 - Modocrylic Hair Will Make You A Sex God Too
Yes, modocrylic hair will make you a sex god.

I'd love to have seen how the sample matching turned out.

This ad appeared regularly in early 70s comics. One wonders who exactly their target market was: high schoolers wanting to appear older and more sophisticated, especially if they couldn't generate any peach fuzz? Drama club members on a tight budget? Swingin' college students? Imaginative kids? A man-about-town who wanted instant facial hair to match the mood, the pot of fondue he whipped up for a lucky lady and his Hef-style smoking jacket? Unlucky 43-year old batchelors? Early drag kings?


Tomb of Dracula (1972-79) was one of a slew of horror-themed series Marvel unleashed after Comics Code restrictions about the use of ghouls and monsters were loosened in the wake of drug-related stories issued by Merry Marvel (Amazing Spider-Man #96-98) and the Distinguished Competition (Green Lantern/Green Arrow #85-86) in 1971. Other series spawned included Werewolf by Night, Man-Thing (including its double-entendred partner title, Giant-Size Man-Thing), Ghost Rider, Monster of Frankenstein, Son of Satan, The Living Mummy (in Supernatural Thrillers) and Brother Voodoo (in Strange Tales).

TOD was among the most highly regarded and consistent of these series. Gene Colan penciled all 70 issues, writer Marv Wolfman arrived with #7 and inker Tom Palmer rounded out the team with #12. Moody art and long-running storylines kept fans glued with each issue, even if it became hard for a newbie to jump in. The series centred around Drac's revival in the modern day, as he battled his descendants and those of characters from Bram Stoker's novel. The most recognizable supporting character is Blade, who debuted two issues after this ad appeared.

Source: Tomb of Dracula #8, May 1973

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

the bumper-to-bumper tango

Sometimes it doesn't pay to get out of bed on the weekend.
Sunday morning of the long weekend. Felt the urge of get out of town. Buffalo/Niagara? Sure. Since it was Sunday, best to get up at a decent hour to make the most of the day, no matter how good bed felt.

Everything goes smoothly until I hit the usual logjam at QEW and 403. No problem: Upper Middle Rd to the rescue.

Tried to rejoin QEW at Bronte Rd. Still backed up. No problem: st drive through Burlington and rejoin by the Skyway.

Flip on the radio. Traffic's backed up onto the Skyway. No problem: stay in Canada, meander through the west end of the Golden Horseshoe, then hit food stands and the odd winery in Niagara.

I turned onto Lakeshore in downtown Burlington. Slow traffic. Everyone else was trying to escape QEW or out for a Sunday drive. No big deal, I figured, I'd just amble along through the beaches of Hamilton Harbour.

I crawled a block. Stopped. Suddenly, I heard a bang behind me.


Cue one of the longest seconds of my life.

A car had struck the vehicle behind me, which sent them into me, which sent me into the vehicle ahead of me...well, you get the picture. Luckily, the police station was around the corner, so the incident was cleared up quickly.

Doin' The Long Weekend Bumper to Bumper Tango The Front View The Rear View

Luckily, I was able to drive the car, despite the damage to the front (the vehicle behind me wasn't so lucky, as its body was warped so badly that the tower had to take a crowbar to metal around the rear wheel). The main problem was a headlight that loosened - if I was on side streets, it stayed in place, otherwise it hung down like a droopy alien tentacle. Tempers stayed in check and I remained cool as a cucumber, rather than the shocked state I was in after a driver shaved off my front end at Christmas.

Since I had some time to kill before the accident report was report, I kicked around Hamilton and drove as far as the outskirts of St. Catharines before heading back, returning with cheap-if-heavily-battered 1950s war comics, a bag of fresh corn (anyone else notice this year's crop was a good one?) and a bottle of Stoney Ridge Pinot Grigio.

Unlike my last experience with a ruined bumper, events happened quickly. I had the car in the shop by Wednesday and picked it up Monday night. I puttered around in a 2007 Cobalt over the weekend, which took some adjusting. While speedy (I'd hate to think how fast I'd whiz down 401 west of London under the spell of highway hypnosis), I missed having an armrest in the middle and had to readjust to all-manual locks for the first time since our family's long-departed '81 Delta 88.

I'm beginning to think the Cavalier is an unlucky beast. A tree relaxing on the hood. Damage from an unknown lousy parker in Boston. Tell-tale marks from trying to wiggle it from its frozen state. Gliding off of an icy 401. Other drivers running red lights. Whenever it reaches automotive heaven, it won't run out of stories.

Monday, August 14, 2006

scary clown photo of the day

So scary I had to use my new camera's sepiatone setting! You have been warned...

Scary Clown Plots Against Ice Cream Eaters, Page 12
Ah, the things one discovers while wandering with a group around Toronto. Last week's walk started off behind St. Clair West station, then northwestward along the path through the ravine. After checking out patches of poison ivy, local kids gave us a tour of the tagging underneath Bathurst. They had to leave before 9 or their moms would chew them out.

Exhibit 1: The Sign Sloan Your Momentum Carries Us Jungle Gym Time!

We were accompanied by a film crew from 52mondays - the footage should be up in the near future. Resurfacing near Vaughan Rd, we checked out a playground at Laughlin Park. Two of us ripped up our hands going down the slide on the jungle gym. I should have learned my lesson about slides after skinning my elbows while riding down the tube at the Delta Chelsea a few years ago. The healing is proceeding smoothly. Wonder if the wooden posts holding up the slide have developed a reddish hue over the years...

We headed back along Vaughan, passing equal numbers of milk stores and religious institutions (ranging from wiccans in the middle of a percussion-heavy ritual to a Buddhist temple).

The evening wound down at Dutch Dreams, the second time this summer I've been on a group outing that ended there. Not that I'm complaining...thumbs up for the watermelon sherbet, complete with cookie "seeds". I had never sat at the back before, so I had missed the collection of knick-knacks on the walls, including the scary clown. All with a steady stream of the Beatles in the background (except for one Simon & Garfunkel tune).

More pictures on ye olde Flickr site and over at Squiddity. - JB

Friday, August 11, 2006

the backstreets of toronto: frank kovac lane

Frank Kovac Lane
Be a good neighbour and you could have a street named after you.

Frank Kovac owned a garage on Harbord St for three decades before passing away in 2002. According to this report, the local residents association proposed to name the laneway by the garage "Frank's Alley". Apparently apostrophes and "alley" are frowned upon by those in charge of street names, so the more formal "Frank Kovac Lane" was the name given in April 2003. Note in the report the objections raised by police and emergency services, due to too many streets named after guys named Frank. This should not discourage all other Franks out there from being neighbourly.

Globe and Mail piece by Rick Salutin on Kovac. Another story about Kovac's passing.

The lay of the land - Frank Kovac Lane is in green.

Church of St. Mary of Magdalene Anglican Church - Front View Church of St. Mary of Magdalene - East Side
Our journey begins with Church of St. Mary of Magdalene Anglican Church, bounded by Manning, Ulster and Frank Kovac. Opened in 1888, the exterior was completed 20 years later.

Cutout View IMG_0919a
The view north, artsy-fartsied up to hide the fact the shot was a tad blurry (I'm still adjusting to the new camera). The church is on the left, Healey Willan Park on the right.

Note the sign, using the old brown-and-yellow style favoured everywhere for park signs in the 70s. Alas, like the classic provincial signs, these are going the way of the dodo, replaced with the post-amalgamation blue signs.

Healey Willan (1880-1968) was a composer, instructor at U of T and choirmaster at St. Mary of Magdalene from the 20s through 60s (Encyclopedia of Music in Canada entry). Along with opera singer Emma Albani, Willan was one of the first musicians to appear on a Canadian postage stamp, in 1980.

Healey Willan Park - Landscape Shot Tic Tac Toe
A landscape look at the park. Couldn't resist a closer look at the tic tac toe game, which somehow had set for a fresh game.

I Win
When playing by yourself, it's hard to lose.

Looking North Freshly Painted...
Finally, time to actually walk down Frank Kovac Lane. Like any laneway, the condition of the car barns and garages vary, from the freshly painted...

...Or Rusting Away the not-so-fresh.

Swag Toyko Was Here
The lane boasts some graffiti, with Swag and Toyko dominating garage doors.

The Southward View Frank's Garage
Looking south from the north end of Frank Kovac Lane, at Harbord St. The garage on the right was Frank's, which still appears to be for rent.

War Memorial, Harbord Collegiate Institute
Lying in front of the northern end is Harbord Collegiate Institute. Educating students since 1892, the school has been around long enough to boast a memorial for alumni killed in World War I. - JB

Thursday, August 10, 2006

the really, really lost episode of chappelle's show

The Really, Really Lost Episode of Chappelle's Show
We'll take your best guess as to what transpired between the Superfreak and the fish, and if Charlie Murphy was involved in any way.

Taken outside Chippy's, Bloor St, Aug 7/06. - JB

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

eating in london (3)

Part 1 Part 2

Diwana Part of Diwana's Buffet
Day 4 began with lunch near Euston station. Drummond St is lined with Indian eateries, which I'm surprised I didn't uncover while I lived in Camden Town. There was a now-closed restaurant I used to go to near the Camden Palace, but its food was mediocre at best. I tended to make my own, which led to Indian remaining a steady part of my diet.

After flipping through the Cheap Eats guide, I settled on Diwana Bhel Poori House, a vegetarian restaurant with a buffet. The atmosphere was not what I expected - the stained-wood tables and seats made me think of cottage country. I filled my steel plate with various tasty salads - chick peas rich with bits of tomato and coriander was the highlight. Time Out review.

Food over the next day tended to be quick snacks on the go, as I scurried to pack in as many planned destinations as possible. Sandwich shops and market stalls provided most of my fuel, as well as groceries I'd stuffed in the fridge at the residence. This mostly consisted of Mullerice, which I used to buy by the cartload. It's a product I wish could easily be found around here: creamy rice pudding mixed with fruit or other sweet ingredients. It's sold like yogurt, alongside other cool treats like quark and fool.

Mr. Isaacs Smiles The Edgar Wallace
While living in London, I was an odd duck among my classmates, as I spent little time at the local pubs. While most folks went nightly, I went weekly/biweekly, not being much of a drinker. This was soon reflected in the impression I left with the others that I was a gourmet chef. I wasn't, it's just that's where my money went instead of wheat juice. I recall at least one or two people living on bread/potato/Marks & Spencer potato and cheese pasty diets. I treated a night at the pub as that, a treat, where I could wind down with a pint of cider with the others.

Since it was World Cup season, the pubs flowed more than usual onto the sidewalks, especially during the England/Trinidad & Tobago match. Everyone appeared to be in good, if calm, spirits and I noticed little rowdiness or horn honking in central London. I usually stopped for five minutes, observed the crowd, then moved on.

I wound down Day 4 by meeting up with my friend Paul for a pint at the Edgar Wallace. Located near Covent Garden on Devereux Court, the pub is named after the writer, who was working on the script for King Kong when he died in 1932. While I was mildly disappointed to find that the cider on tap was the same as home, a pint of Strongbow and a bag of crisps is a refreshing way to wind down the afternoon.

The cider also relaxed me after a battle with British Telecom payphones. Unlike Ma Bell, BT charges by the minute and is not averse to cutting you off in mid-sentence with no warning or failing to connect you period while eating your change. Since technology is one of the few things to bring my childhood temper back to the surface, several phones along Charing Cross Rd felt my wrath. I wouldn't have been surprised if bypassers thought I was looney.

Speaking of technology, twice I lost portions of this post while preparing it - therefore, there will be an additional thrilling chapter! - JB

vintage cbc television ad of the day

Vintage Ad #44 - Canada For The Fun Of It
Taking a break from the Ponderosa, Lorne Greene came home to spread holiday cheer in '72, with a middle-of-the-road musical lineup. The show's title sounds straight out of an SCTV-style parody.

Lorne looks cozy on that ski lift - who wants to take the seat next to him?

Source: Maclean's, December 1972 - JB

Thursday, August 03, 2006

au revoir, 3 star

While passing through Guelph on the weekend, this caught my eye.

3 Stars, 6 Screens
Had the dumpiest theatre from my university days finally met its end?

While I only saw one movie at the 3 Star, it was the constant butt of jokes for years for its less-than-optimal state (for the record, a group drove out to catch Goldeneye during second year). Remote-for-students-without-vehicles location, small auditoriums and decaying conditions were among the complaints. When a Galaxy opened up down the road, one had to figure that 3 Star, despite low prices, would bite the dust.

3 Star Entrance Sprite: Enjoy When The Theatre Closes Permanently
The place had various identity crises. I didn't know the name had changed to Woodlawn; nobody took the effort to replace all of the signs. Called the 3 Star, had 6 screens, with plans for 9. Call it a thing for multiples of 3...

3 Star Lobby Employees Only No More Cold Drinks
A few shots of the interior. Don't remember, but I'd guess the concession stand signs were there back in '95. The general appearance gave me 80s teen movie vibes.

3 Star Cinema Frontage
The 3 Star/Woodlawn joins the long list of 70s/80s cinemas falling by the wayside. Lacking the architectural charm and larger auditoriums of older theatres and creatures comforts of modern megaplexes, these cinemas are rapidly going the way of the dodo. In the long run, smaller screens (bordering on living room size in early Cineplexes) lacking atmosphere, unless provided by the audience, were one of those ideas that didn't stand the test of time or investor pocketbooks. - JB

MEMORIES FROM OTHER FOLKS (in case the comments disappear)
I have to say, I'm not mourning it... The last few times I saw movies there it a) was FREEZING and b) smelled like something had died under my seat. The kitsch is nice, but the skeeze it what makes me think of the sticky-star... - Natalie

Oh no! So long, duct tape theatre ... Dee and I will never forget the summer of bad movies ... Shaft, The Kid, Bless the Child ... we wasted many precious hours in your terribly uncomfortable seats. - JC

I will miss you, duct tape theatre. Along with our occasional male escorts (not that kind!), we did watch a series of worsening movies there - Jess, you forgot The Perfect Storm! A part of Princess history, lost forever... - DM