Wednesday, August 30, 2006


Dancing In The Mist
While flipping through the back pages of this site and preparing a post on the wedding I went to over the weekend, I noticed I had left a loose end from the last nuptials I attended. I thought I had written a full account of Michael and Betty's ceremony...but it never went beyond the draft stage. Further proof how fast this summer has gone.

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


Leave it to the spammers to make incomplete connections in their crappy e-mails to hurricanes on the anniversary of Katrina.

Recently, the spam filters on my e-mail account have shown cracks, as three or four of these lovely messages slip into my inbox daily. Where my bulk mail used to get 10-20 pieces of gold a week, it now gets 150. I blame my last post, as many of the notes that slip into my inbox feature tales of woe from victims of esophageal cancer . Must have ticked off a spammer or two...

C'est la vie.

Onto this month's pick. We asked God for a comment on how much their name was bandied about in this message in the name of separating some schmuck from their money, but the line was busy. I'd love to know how offended the devout are by this spam. Spellings are unchanged, but we may have added a detail or two. - JB

Dear Beloved,

I am the above named person from BURKINA FASO . I am married to Dr. Morgan Jones who worked with BURKINA FASO Embassy in FRANCE for nine years before he died in the year 2005.We were married for eleven years without a child (sniff). He died after a brief illness (choke) that lasted for only four days. Before his death we were both born again christians (muslims/jews/buddhists/skeptics/bonglovers) looking to start a television ministry.

Since his death I decided not to re-marry or get a child outside my matrimonial home which the Bible is gainst.When my late husband was alive hedeposited the sum of $40.5Million (FOURTY MILLION, FIVE HUNDRED THOUSAND U.S.Doll ars) with a Security Company.

Presently, this money is still with the SECURITY FIRM and the management just wrote me as the beneficiary to come forward to receive the money, rather issue a letter of authorisation to somebody to receive it on my behalf if I can not come over or the money enters into the company's tressury fund.Presently, I'm in a hospital in Upper Volta where I have been undergoing treatment for oesophageal cancer. I have since lost my ability to talk and my doctors have told me that I have only a few months to live considering the natured of my ointment.

It is my last wish to see this money distributed to victims of this HURRICANE (fill in hurricane/typhoon/cyclone name) and other chastity organizations, because my relatives and friends have plundered so much of my wealth since my illness, I cannot live with the agony of entrusting this huge responsibility to any of them.Please,I beg you in the name of (God/Allah/Yahweh/Jehovah/Norm!) to help me collect the deposit and distribute it accordiongly. Cousin Jasper does not deserve it.

I want a person that is God fearing that will use this money to finance Churches,orphanages, Republican campaigns and widows propagating the word of God and to ensure that the house of Zod is maintained. The Bible made us to understand that Blessed is the hand that giveth and taketh from you. I took this decision after i sought for a divine direction from God, because as a human its not really easy with making this decision, besides, i dont have any child of my own (sniff) that will inherit this money and my husband's relatives are not Christians (muslims/jews/buddhists/skeptics/confucians) and I don't want my husband's hard earned money to be misused by unbelievers in Pod.

I don't want a situation where this money will be used in an ungodly manner.Hence the reason for taking this bold and spicy decision. I am not afraid of death since I know where I am going (sniff). I know that I am going to lay my bosoms in the bosom of the Lord. Exodus 14 VS 14 (giving Exodus a 12-9-2-1 record this season, while VS is 8-13-3-1) saysthat "the lord will fight my case and I shall hold my peace". I don't need any telephone communication in this regard because of my soundless voice and presence of my husband's relatives around me always and the unpaid phone bill last monnth. I don't want them to know about this development. With Cod all things are possible i beleive.As soon as I receive your reply I shall give you the contact of the Security Company.

I will also issue you a letter of authority that will prove you as the new beneficiary of this fund. I want you and the church and Gus to always pray for me because the lord is my fortress. My happiness is that I lived a life worthy of a Christian, if only for 272 days. Whoever that wants to serve the Lord must serve him in spirit and truth. Please always be prayerful throughout your life.

Any delay in your reply will give me room in sourcing for another person for this same purpose. Please assure me that you will act accordingly as I stated herein. I will lift my arm to salute you.

Hoping to hearing fromyou soon.
Yours in Christ (Mohammed/Vishnu/Siddhartha/Dr. Sunshine),

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 - JB

Friday, August 25, 2006


During a recent bout of insomnia, Amy sent me a carload of links to old Sesame Street clips on YouTube.

To say we were immersed in Sesame Street while growing up would be an understatement. There were at least four sources for catching episodes: TVO, CBC and two PBS stations (WTVS 56 Detroit and WGTE 30 Toledo). We bought the magazine every month. We owned tie-in books and records, including one knock-off album notable for having Thurl Ravenscroft (the voice of Tony the Tiger and singer of You're A Mean One, Mr. Grinch) warble It's Not Easy Being Green. We had the complete Sesame Street Library, which I recently found two volumes of at a book sale in Elora - look for excerpts in the future.

First, clips from the first episode in 1969. Note bizarre early appearance of Big Bird and surprise cameo by Frank Oz's arm in the Bert & Ernie skit. The original closing credits, including the first set of sponsoring letters and numbers, appear below.

A tribute to the number 6. Main lesson: it's easy to handle 6 cameras at once. Half-a-dozen strawberry shortcakes are another matter. Note trippy graphics leading to the introduction of the number.

We'll stop for today with classically-inclined singing fruit. As Amy said, "Operatic citrus. This also freaked me out. Actually, it still does." - JB, AT

Thursday, August 24, 2006


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 - JB

Wednesday, August 23, 2006


Trying to Maintain Punk Credibility Department
Ah, maintaining one's punk credibility in the midst of Pedestrian Sunday in Kensington Market.

I missed the great blackout of '03, being in the part of the province that never lost its juice that day.

Photo taken on Baldwin St, Aug 13/06. - JB

Tuesday, August 22, 2006


The 52 Mondays spotlight on the Psychogeography walking group is now up. I'm the yellow blob. Post on this particular walk. - JB

Vintage Ad #38 - Great Moments in Punny Radio Show Titles
Oh, the punny title of this particular CBC Radio show...

The headline for this ad is a takeoff of a 1969 bestseller, Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex (* But Were Afraid to Ask), a guide to modern love by Dr. David Reuben. Woody Allen loosely based his 1972 film on the book, one of his goofier outings (vignettes include Gene Wilder falling in love with a sheep and Burt Reynolds and Tony Randall as technicians in a sperm control centre).

Twenty-something orchestra conductor/radio host, foxy chick next to him, cute episode titles - targeting a fresh audience for classical music? Everything about the ad suggests a light-hearted approach, never a bad thing when introducing one to musical genres.

One of those titles caught my eye - "Whatever Happened to the Sackbutt?" This reminds of an intro to music class I took during my first year of university. You know how there's always a person in university classes who asks the oddest questions or rambles on with the slightest provocation? There was one of those in this class, a guy another residence-mate and I nicknamed Mr. Sackbutt. The name came from an early class, where the professor mentioned in passing the sackbutt, a Renaissance-era ancestor of the trombone. This excited Mr. Sackbutt to no end, as he proceeded to ask questions about the instrument for the next 5-10 minutes. If nothing else, he was engaged in the class.

As for whatever happened to Boris Brott, you can check his website. At the time of this ad, he had been the musical director of the Hamilton Philharmonic for two years.

Source: Saturday Night, July 1971 - JB

PS - Thanks to Ouimet at The Tea Makers for the links to several of these ads. A great site for observations on our public broadcaster.

Monday, August 21, 2006


Since I'll be getting my mane weed-wacked this week, old hair ads seemed appropriate.

Vintage Ad #46 - Deprivation
Take a wild guess as to which decade this ad derives from. Anyone want to see if they can still "deprive" an unblinking checkout clerk with these coupons?

Source: Rolling Stone, May 4, 1989


Actually, if we're going to do a hair-products-for-women ad, we can't leave the men out. Here's a gem from a few years earlier...

Vintage Ad #47 - Do Real Guys Use Hairspray?
If you click on the photo, read the fine print. Note the excessive use of the term "real guys". Hmm, do you think they were trying to avoid certain connotations with stereotypes associated with the hair care industry?

I doubt I have ever seen Consort products outside of barber shop shelves (where they look like they have sat for years - at least my barber has few grooming products on display) or magazine ads.

Source: The Sporting News 1984 College Football Yearbook - JB

Zingerman's Delicatessen
Continuing on with the culinary adventures of Amy and I on my 31st birthday...

After having eaten Mexican for lunch, we weren't in a mood for a monster meal. Our drive along Grand River Ave petered out at an outlet mall in Howell, but we still had a few hours of sunlight to go. I figured Ann Arbor would be a good spot to grab a bite. Besides, the drive there from Howell was a nice one, especially if we took a detour through Hell.

Yes, you read that correctly. Hell. Here's its history.

The Road To Hell Is Paved With Good Intentions And Now For The Official Weather Forecast From Hell Where's The Handbasket? Smitty's Dam Site Inn
I can say that the road to Hell is paved with good intentions. It also has a weather station and biker bar. Tourist kitsch has finally hit, due to a small park where you can stick your head through hellish cutouts. We usually drive through Hell in the fall - the colours on the heavily-wooded backroads northwest of Ann Arbor are spectacular.

When we hit A-squared, we drove around downtown for a few minutes, poking our brains for a place to stop. Too many choices!

We decided to splurge at Zingerman's Delicatessen (pictured at top). It's a nationally-known deli that offers high-quality food at high-quality prices. Most sandwiches average $10-12, but they are sizeable and the quality of the ingredients tends to make you forget how much you just shelled out. Around for nearly a quarter-of-a-century, it has branched out into a bakery, gourmet grocery, a second full-service restaurant, cooking classes, etc.

#34 - Diana's Different Drummer
I went with the #34, Diana's Different Drummer. Menu description: "Niman Ranch beef brisket served warm, Russian dressing, coleslaw & fresh horseradish on Jewish rye bread."

Heavenly. At least the pickle was less obscene than our last visit.

#30 - The Special
Amy went with #30, The Special. Menu description: "Stonington smoked salmon, Zingerman's Creamery cream cheese, tomato & red onion served with a toasted sesame bagel from Zingerman's Bakehouse. "

Note how Amy delicately prepared the first half of the bagel.

For dessert, Amy had the richest "blondie" I've ever tasted. Imagine a brownie that tastes exactly like a butter tart. I washed everything down with endless trips to the ice tea machines (hey, the refills were free), which came in several fresh, unsweetened varieties (lychee, rubioos and mint).

Zingerman's Delicatessen, 422 Detroit St, Ann Arbor, MI - JB

Friday, August 18, 2006


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


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.

My first issue was the last issue, given to me by my friend Michael around grade 5 or 6. Though I now have the entire series in book form, this beaten-up issue remains a treasured part of my collection.

Source: Tomb of Dracula #8, May 1973 - JB

Fopp, Camden
Yes, after another month's layoff (is your summer racing down 401 at 200 km/h too?), the Music Annex is back in action, with part 2 of the music I picked up in London. Nine tracks worth of goodness, from Sergio Mendes (minus Brasil '66) to Beth Orton.

Pictured above, the Fopp location near Camden Market - JB

Wednesday, August 16, 2006


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. - JB

Tuesday, August 15, 2006


Vintage Ad #43 - CBC TV Fall '78 Spotlight
This week, we jump ahead to 1978 and a bag of delights from CBC's fall lineup.

Ah, WKRP in Cincinnati (1978-82). A show that due to its heavy use of period music will either never see the light of day on DVD, appear with massive alterations to remove certain songs or appear in astronomically expensive box sets due to the cost of rights clearances. Constant reruns as a kid may have been one of the reasons I got into radio in university, using equipment of the same vintage as Johnny, Venus and the gang. Enjoy the following clip from the infamous "turkey drop" episode...perhaps the station needs to drop a few turkeys on music rights holders...

Entering its fourth season, The Fifth Estate (1975-present) is represented by future governor-general Adrienne Clarkson. Co-hosts were Eric Maling and Ian Parker. Clarkson is the reporter in this early-season clip on the road to sainthood for Quebec cleric Brother Andre (via CBC Archives). From its official website, the history of The Fifth Estate.

Mary (1978) was one of the season's big flops on both sides of the border. A musical/sketch show headlined by Mary Tyler Moore after her classic sitcom ended, it is mostly remembered for providing an early showcase for ensemble members Michael Keaton and David Letterman. Of 16 episodes produced, only three aired. Ouch.

Since I can't find any material from Mary, we'll jump back to 1970 and the original title sequence for The Mary Tyler Moore Show.

A Gift to Last (1978-79) was based on a 1976 Christmas special featuring Melvyn Douglas (Best Supporting Actor Oscar for Hud in 1963) as man remembering his childhood in turn-of-the-century Ontario. In the series, Gordon Pinsent starred as the child's father, a Boer War vet who ran the local hotel. Pinsent also sang the song in the closing credits.

Canada After Dark (1978-79) was the replacement for 90 Minutes Live after Peter Gzowski departed. If the critics comments excerpted in TV North are a good indication, everyone had their knives sharpened for this show - The Toronto Sun compared it to the Titanic, while the Star called it "full frontal tedium."

Source: Saturday Night, September 1978 - JB

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