Saturday, December 23, 2006

new concepts in parking department

Parking Is For Pants Only

During Thursday night's Festival of Lights in Kensington Market, the Toronto Parking Authority tested its latest innovation at the Bellevue lot: special spots to leave one's pants.

If the results are successful, other spaces will be created around the core, which will come in helpful for those times where you can't be bothered to cart your pants around when you're not using them, or when carrying them becomes a distraction.

Tires n' Toilets

Not to be outdone, the Toronto District School Board will be testing their new specialty parking spot over the holiday break at Central Tech: tires or toilets only.

Friday, December 22, 2006

casseroles '68

It's that time of year again...time to take a trip back into the often terrifying world of 1960s cookery.

Better Homes and Gardens Casserole Cookbook (1968) was well used at home growing up, mostly it contains one of my favourite comfort foods, steak and noodles (or, as the cookbook calls it, Round Steak Sauerbraten). Here's the recipe - I figure I should serve up the tasty before the the tacky.

1-1/2 pounds steak, 1/2" thick (we use sirloin instead of round)
1 envelope brown gravy mix
1 tbsp dried onion
1 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp wine vinegar
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1 bayleaf
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
hot buttered noodles (extra broad egg noodles preferred)

Cut meat in 1" squares, then brown. Remove meat from pot, add gravy mix and 2 cups water. Bring to boil, stirring constantly. Stir in next 8 ingredients. Add meat. Pour into casserole dish. Cover and bake at 350F for 90 minutes. Remove bayleaf. Serve on noodles


I found another copy of this cookbook at a spring booksale in Elora, for a quarter. While many of the recipes look perfectly edible, others suffer from the same pre-fab food horrors that plague other mass market cookbooks of the era.

Cases in point...

Hamburger Pie with Potato Fluff Topper
Serve Hamburger Pie with Potato Fluff Topper, Cabbage Slaw and brown-bread sandwiches filled with cream cheese.

Is there anything potato fluff topper can't do? The pie itself contains canned green beans and condensed tomato soup, while processed American cheese was an optional addition to the instant mashed potatoes on top.

Corned Beef Bake
When a quick meal is just the ticket, serve Corned Beef Bake with lettuce wedges topped with French dressing.

Notice how nicely the processed American cheese melted, and the swamp of canned veggies the corned beef is swimming in. French was the most exotic salad dressing this series ever came up with - now the suggested salad would be field greens with sesame soy, mango lime or sundried tomato vinaigrette.

Jumbo Cornburger
The family will enjoy a wedge from this Jumbo Cornburger. It's a well-flavoured corn mixture surrounded by ground beef.

Is that corn in the middle or an infestation of maggots? This dish was so colossal in scale, it earned a two-page spread. We're also 3 for 3 in the processed American cheese department.

Monday, December 11, 2006

more monkey business

Vintage Ad #103 - Darling Pet Monkeys Remove Unwanted Hair Forever
Yes, our friend the darling pet monkey is back. A year-and-a-half after hanging out with Dr. Strange and Nick Fury Agent of SHIELD, here he is in a "confessional" magazine. Maybe the monkey was edging towards more adult concerns - supporting cancer research, removing unwanted hair, etc. Note price and clothing remain the same, leading to one funky (smelling) pet.

Like the monkey, Blair was also a frequent comic book advertiser well into the 70s, with "Tim Newcomer" as their usual saleskid. Alas, no further information on them.

Permagon was only one of a wide variety of oddball products Honor House sold in magazines. If you didn't want a hair zapper, how about a personal nuclear sub? Also, note how the object the scantily-clad model is holding in the closeup looks like a grease/mark-up pencil. Could be they lost the zapper for the shot and had to borrow the closest substitute from the paste-up artist nearby. It is also possible that she is wearing one of the many wigs for sale in this magazine.

Among the "real stories" in this hard-hitting issue:
* Our Housewife "Tea Parties" Were Marijuana Binges
* Why Couldn't My Daughter-in-Law Died Instead of My Son
* My Ex-Lover Walked Back Into My Life
* For Two Weeks Each Year I Was Another Man's Mistress
* I Can't Be A Virgin For More Than One Hour

Remember: give generously this season to the Guelph Rent-a-Monkey Fund.

Source: Real Story, February 1969

rosedale rhapsody

Number 3 Spooky Rosedale House
This week's walk: holiday lights in Rosedale.

Along the way, we discovered an abandoned/secured property, fully lit up yet totally inaccessible. All walkways up to the house were blocked by fencing. We guessed a legal dispute was at play - our theory was an inheritance tied up in litigation. The picture on the right turned out blurry, but a few filters give it the proper spooky effect. I expect rays of light to burst through the windows at any second...

Man With Tail Watering Lawn
The further north we went, the number of lighting displays increased. This held to another group theory, that lower-wealth neighbourhoods contain better holiday displays (wealth being relative in Rosedale, though this point was proven to me a few nights later when I wandered on my own around the city, to be covered in an upcoming post).

The side shot above almost looks human shaped, except for the giant tail/very long watering house/whatever you imagine it is.

Rhapsody in Red
North of the train tracks, homes decked with lights stood out, including this rhapsody in red. Also noticed one home where four vehicles were packed into the driveway so tightly, we wondered what their "move the car" ritual must be like.

The wind really hit us as we walked towards Yonge along St. Clair. Like a rocket losing its shielding upon re-entry, protective elements like gloves began to fail as we struggled against blasts of cold air, especially when we hit the office towers. Cue a thawing session at a nearby pub.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

shop by mail via strange tales

Vintage Ad #102 - Darling Pet Monkeys on Space Probes with He-Man Voices Sell Comic Books
A fine array of products available to Marvel Comics readers in 1967. Things were going well for Merry Marvel that year: sales were rising and Spider-Man and the Fantastic Four debuted on Saturday morning TV.

Multiple-advertiser pages such as these remained a staple until the early 80s. Compared to National/DC, who carried ads from reputable companies like Tootsie Roll, Marvel's resembled a flea market, the junior version of similar layouts from their men's magazine line.

Isn't that pet monkey adorable? Who wouldn't want a shirt-wearing, lollipop-munching primate around the house? We're not going to ask if owners had any other uses for the cage and leather goods included with the monkey. Note emphasis on "young" monkey - we'll never know if older monkeys in the stable sued on the grounds of age discrimination. Note Orwellian name of the advertiser.

This little monkey got around, as we'll see in a future vintage ad...

Based on Perfect Voice's website, you can still buy the secrets of the Feuchtinger method of improving one's voice, even if the term "he-man" is nowhere to be found. Alas, a perfect voice does not mean perfect spelling of the company name.

The Ed Sale Music Company still exists - the "secret system" appears to have seen few changes in 40 years, other than dropping ten songs and two pages and cost adjustments (from $2.98 to $9.98).

Oh, the horrors of blackheads, the terrifying foe of pimply adolescents! I'm betting this particular zit-popper was medical surplus. Searching the web, Vacutex has been trademarked, as a "wound dressing".

Watch the small print when buying a California Gold Piece! Based on the address, my guess is that Metropolitan Coin Exchange was based in the Penobscot Building, for nearly 50 years the tallest building in Detroit (from the completion of its tower in 1928 until the opening of the Renaissance Center in 1977). Wikipedia entry.

As for "Poems Wanted"...everything you wanted to know about song poems but were afraid to ask.

The most expensive item on the page is the Fox Mini-Bike, "small enough to fit in a car trunk"...which I could believe for the boat-like vehicles of 1967, but not so sure for a modern compact. Out on the web: the 1968 Fox Catalog.

Aspire to be a magician? Got a quarter? House of 1,000 Mysteries to the rescue! A brief bio of the magician behind this catalogue, Vick Lawston.

Insert your own jokes about the Space Probe, though it's nice to know that if your placed the Incredible Shrinking Man into the rocket as a passenger, he would have an easy, parachute-assisted landing. I recall shooting off a rocket once at a friend's house as a kid, only to watch it land on the roof of their house, hence my total lack of interest in model rocketry. Centuri sold its rocket kits from the early 60s through the early 80s (history page).

Finally, Howard Rogofsky was one of the first back issue comic dealers. He was also one of the first to charge high prices for back issues, regardless of their condition. According to Steve Duin and Mike Richardson's book Comics Between The Panels,

When you ordered from the king of Queens, you never knew if the mail would bring a book that was pristine mint or buried in tape..."Carefully applied Magic Tape," Rogofsky said in 1967, "does not constitute a defect." (375)
Comic Book Guy on The Simpsons would shudder.

Source: Strange Tales #158, July 1967

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

meanwhile, back on croft street...

While out for a stroll Sunday afternoon, I wandered by the College St end of Croft St and noticed a few new elements - a fresh series of artwork along the walls of the east side of the street.
Croft St Plaque
John Croft, receiving the official plaque treatment.

Dancing on the Walls
The plaque is sandwiched between dancers on the left, an unnamed portrait on the right.

Take a Bite Out of Cloud
The red figure in the middle reminds me of characters from 60s/70s undergrounds (usually talking pills).

Gettin' a Haircut by the Windows
Haircuts and apartment dwellers.

Heart of the City
The new heart of the city?

Wonder Woman and Pie
You're a wonder, Wonder Woman.

Croft St, Croft St Next
Waiting for the Croft St Red Rocket.