Friday, September 29, 2006


Vintage Ad #68: Tootsie Triangle
Can you tell if the sides of the triangle are straight? No looking upside down!

I love Tootsie Pops. I usually got one at the barber's, after getting weed-whacked. I always hoped a few landed in my Halloween pumpkin. Every once in awhile, I get the urge to find out just how many licks it takes to get to the center of one.

DC Comics (or National Periodical Publications, as it was officially known through the 70s) tended to attract a higher calibre of comic book advertisers - fewer get-rich-quick and weight loss/muscle gain schemes, more recognized brands like Tootsie Roll, Cheerios, AMT models, etc...though one wonders how much use the Palisades Park coupons were for kids living outside of the Northeast.

This issue featured several ads for the Tootsie family of products, from the standard roll to Tootsie Fudge (only a penny!).

Our Fighting Forces had a healthy run as one of the mainstays of DC Comics' war lineup, from 1954-78. At the time of this ad, the lead series was Gunner and Sarge, with their canine companion Pooch (Toonpedia profile). Later series included Lt. Hunter's Hellcats and The Losers (a team of characters who were "losers" in the sense that all had lost their individual series in the 60s, including Gunner and Sarge). Entry on #78 from the Grand Comics Database.

Source: Our Fighting Forces #78, August 1963 - JB

Thursday, September 28, 2006

ice beanery

As mentioned a few days ago, the holiday catalogue inserts have started to make their way into my morning paper. Over the next two months, I expect to swamped with booklets for pricey gift baskets and gifts that say you were stuck for ideas. This year's parade began last week, with one of the giants of the catalogue world, L.L. Bean.

There's little that stands out as being wacky in their 2006 Christmas offering...well, OK, some of the pyjamas are on the loud side. One product manages to stand out: Bean's Ice Cream Ball, a rollable piece of plastic that brings out the dessert maker in you on a lazy summer day.

Make delicious homemade ice cream anywhere-camping, at the beach or on a picnic. Fil the bottom of this durable, lightweight Lexan plastic ball with ice and rock salt, add ice cream ingredients to the top and just shake, pass or roll the ball around your campsite. Recipes included. Imported. Parental supervision required. Pint: 20-minute prep time.

In other words, say the gang wanted ice cream on a steamy, humid, inferno-like central Ontario summer afternoon. Say they also brought a croquet set but one of the balls was missing. No problem! The ice cream ball makes your treat while its being whacked through one wicket after another.

I hear Molson Canadian and Strongbow will be the hot new make-it-yourself-at-the-beach-or-bush-party flavours for 2007!

Wednesday, September 27, 2006


Night of the Sunflower!

Saganaki, I Love You

Ah, the fun one can have with Photoshop...

As is becoming usual, I spent Thursday night roaming around the city, just a trio this time. This week's trek started in Cabbagetown, wandering back and forth along the side streets east of Parliament. Beautiful homes with a wide range of lanscaping styles, from waterfalls to elephants.

Cabbagetown Flag
Cabbagetown is one of the few, possibly only, neighbourhoods in Toronto with its own flag - a green variant of the Canadian flag, with a cabbage instead of a leaf (it also reminds me of the Foodland Ontario flags that flew by 401 in Woodstock).

The man-eating sunflower? We're not telling...but we hung around long enough to show off its scale compared to mere mortals.

After Cabbagetown (and a very yippy dog in Wellesley Park), we headed towards the Danforth. A sudden craving for saganaki came over us. Cheese and flames - how can you resist? The sound of "OPA!" has long been a piece of North American Greek restaurant schtick. I mostly associate it with Greektown in Detroit, one of the few areas of downtown that went through little-to-no decay. Oddly, the only time I had ever had flaming cheese was a Mexican version, a massive slab of goo drowning in booze. Yummy, but probably a good thing there weren't any RIDE checks in LaSalle that night.

We wound up at Astoria. The saganaki caught us by surprise, as none of us had our cameras primed. I came closest, but as you can see from the pic up top, just missed the flames (yeah, I know it's spelled wrong...but it's part-in-parcel with low-budget late 60s-early 70s explotation docs/cheap novels).

Slicing the Saganaki Saganaki, Up Close and Personal
It was cheese. It flamed. We got an "OPA!" It disappeared in a hurry. We were happy.

More on this walk at Squiddity. - JB

Tuesday, September 26, 2006


Hit Word on the Street briefly on Sunday. I managed to time my visit well: one complete circle around the booths before the sky opened up. For the first time in several years, I did not go bonkers buying magazine subscriptions, only picking one that I had forgotten to renew a couple of months ago. Still, I managed to start my Christmas shopping with a gift for Mom, proving the early-shopper genes in my family have been passed along.


The Detroit Tigers made it into the baseball playoffs this week, their first postseason trip since 1987. No Tigers squad has seen post-season action since I was in grade 7. Ouch.

I know I kept an in-class journal that year, which was destroyed long ago when several classmates suggested it was best to chuck such things. Proof you should never listen to advice from 12-year olds. I'd love to see what I wrote at that time - I suspect it wasn't half-bad, though it may have also contained a lot of bad artwork, as I was headlong into my rediscovery of comic books at the time.

About the comics: I had a collection of funny animal and Richie Rich comics as a child, got rid of them, then started up again after I received a copy of Secret Wars II #1 at the end of a summer reading program at the town library. By the end of '86, I started to buy new issues regularly - I think it's a toss up between Fantastic Four #297, Amazing Spider-Man #283 or Official Handbook to the Marvel Universe Deluxe Editon #13 as the comic that got the ball rolling.


Tip to local panhandlers: plying your trade at King and Spadina at night may not be a smart idea, unless you want to hear a steady stream of obscenities from half-a-dozen vehicles. While waiting for a light at that intersection this evening, I have never heard so many four-letter words hurled at a Tim Horton's cup carrier. - JB

Monday, September 25, 2006


Vintage Ad #67: Quirks & Quarks
OK, who in the peanut gallery has the answers to these six questions?

When this ad appeared, Q&Q was nearing the end of its first season. Suzuki remained host through 1979, when he moved over to TV and The Nature of Things. His successors on Q&Q were Jay Ingram (1979-92) and Bob McDonald (1992-present). Along with Definitely Not The Opera, it's usually on my radio if I'm out for a Saturday roadtrip.

Quirks & Quarks official site. The CBC Archives contains an excerpt from the first episode, which demonstrates that the opening music has changed little.

Source: Saturday Night, April 1976 - JB

Friday, September 22, 2006


Growing up, few Amherstburg businesses advertised on local TV (mostly on channel 9, CBET). Racicot Chrysler more than made for this. It helped that they held down the plum advertising spot: right before Hockey Night in Canada.

There were a potpourri of approaches for the many Windsor and Essex County dealers battling it out on the airwaves. There was homespun (Marathon Ford, which offered free jam from the dealer's mother). There were sketchy geographical details (Ken Knapp Ford, in "beautiful downtown Essex"...which was really a mile or two down the road). There were the straightforward (Moe Campbell, Gus Revenberg and anyone from Tilbury). There were the doddering (Woodrow Woody, whose ads appeared in Windsor, even though his dealership was across the border in Hamtramck).

Racicot went for goofy.

While surfing YouTube, I came across a pair of Racicot ads. The first, c. 1997, is typical of the humourous Racicot approach, with clips from their other spots. At least you're spared their take on Don't Worry, Be Happy...

The second, from 1987, provides a good view of the dealership. The exterior has barely changed in two decades - I think the building was new at the time.

As a bonus, the mid-80s CBC logo, a metallic modification to the "exploding pizza" logo. - JB

Thursday, September 21, 2006


A warm, beautiful September Saturday afternoon. No excuse to stay cooped up in the bunker. Cue an afternoon-long trek across downtown.

I used the Queen West Art Crawl as a starting point, after fueling up at Little India for the energy I needed.

Big Lips By The Sun
Snapped this shot in the driveway of the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art. Odd, odd faces.

Faces and Balloons
Faces staring back at passers-by in front of the Centre for Addiction & Mental Health.

Bubble Wrapped and Ready  to Go
Across from CAMH, a bubble-wrapped car. Sadly, no one appeared to be succumbing to the urge to pop a few. Note the balloons, which marked the Art Crawl.

Polish Festival
The Art Crawl was a good excuse to walk the entire distance of Queen West, then head up Roncesvalles. Without fail, every year I stumble upon the Roncesvalles Village Polish Festival. This time, I wandered into the middle of a mini-parade, which included new MPP Cheri DiNovo, just days after she won a nasty Parkdale-High Park by-election.

Bringers of Bread
Kids bearing bread.

I Don't Believe It! I Found The Place!
I don't believe it! I found the place! Who knew it was hiding at Howard Park and Dundas!

New Seating?
Toronto's most exclusive new place to relax - the Art Gallery of Ontario construction site! The chairs may not be Frank Gehry-designed, but they are classic institutional stock! - JB

Wednesday, September 20, 2006


If you recognize the characters on the left, you'll want to check out the latest post over at our Music Annex. From the song's origins as part of a documentary on the sex lives of Swedes to its use in comedy routines on 80s public access TV in New York, we'll ensure you'll have the featured song stuck in your head for the rest of the day. - JB

Tuesday, September 19, 2006


Vintage Ad #65 - The 1972 Summer Olympics
The Summer Olympic Games. It's good for Canada!...It's good for you! With a tag like that, all that seems to be missing is a tie-in to Participaction, which was getting off the ground at the time...but then the ad would have to be red and blue, instead of the classic 70s green spot colour used.

How good was it for the Canucks? We went home with five medals (two silver, three bronze), putting us on par with the Netherlands and North Korea. The Soviet Union led the gold count with 50, followed by the US (33), East Germany (20), host West Germany (13) and Japan (13).

Interesting to note which cities were among the finalists for these games: Montreal (who landed the next Summer Olympics), Madrid and Detroit. The Prelinger Collection contains a 1965 film promoting Motown as an Olympic site. Keep in mind that Detroit was only two years away from the '67 Riots when this was filmed.

Viewers and listeners would receive more than tales of the thrill of victory and agony of defeat from Munich, with the kidnapping of 11 Israeli athletes and a rescue attempt that failed.

Note that several of the channels listed for Ontario are currently not affiliated with CBC (CKVR, CFPL and CKNX now being part of the A-Channel system, etc).

CBC Archive Clips
* From 1966, a radio clip on Montreal's bid for the '72 Games.
* From 1972, an excerpt from coverage of the attempted rescue of the Israeli athletes.
* From 1984, Don Wittman recalls a close encounter with one of the hostage-takers.

Bonus feature: CBC's ID from the early 70s, before the "exploding pizza".

Source: Maclean's, August 1972 - JB

Monday, September 18, 2006


Bubbly Butts
One never knows which oddball products will grab their eye while strolling down Spadina in Chinatown. Take these bubble-spewing darlings, spotted over a week ago.

Sadly, the bunker will be denied one of these fine conversation pieces. - JB

Find Another Fork in the Credit!
Note to those who like driving outside the city as trees change colour: one of the most scenic trips will require a detour.

It seems Forks of the Credit Rd is sinking into the Credit River.

My recommendations if you'd still like to wander by this stretch of the Credit:

1) Park the car at Forks of the Credit Provincial Park (lot at McLaren Rd south of Hwy 24/Peel 124). The walk through the park is nice and will eventually lead you down to FOTC, via Dominion St. You could also start in Belfountain, but parking may be tight.

2) If you like tree-lined roads and driving up hills, the next east-west route to the south, The Grange Sideroad, is worth a look. - JB

Saturday, September 16, 2006


Vintage Ad #61 - Shoppers Drug Mart Loads The Bases
If there's a chain my family loves to complain about, it's Shoppers Drug Mart.

The root cause is Shoppers' buyout of the Big V chain in the mid-90s. Big V dominated Essex County and it was surprising to see kids bring lunches in Big V thermal bag giveaways or grab a 25c can of Coke on a bicycle ride. They may not have been the most up-to-date stores, and their radio ads with the little kids ("the Murphy twins", I believe) could be annoying, but you could depend on finding what you needed at good prices. The only memory I have of Shoppers growing up, besides the Bea Arthur ads, was a vendor who cleaned eyeglasses in front of their Eaton Centre branch.

Amy especially loves to carp about Shoppers, so I've let her list her beefs, with my notes in italics. Take it away...

* Being forced to enter through the high-end cosmetics section. Who can afford $25 Dior lipgloss or $100 wrinkle cream? Who's buying this stuff at Shoppers, anyway? Unless they're trying to beat out competition from Sephora.
(This is my beef, especially with the new store at Mt. Pleasant and Eglinton).

* Two little aisles of actual drugs.

* Everything is cheaper at Superstore, or any other grocery or discount store, for that matter.

* Carrying items that nobody buys at a drugstore (Thai fish sauce? Swanson Hungry Man dinners? DVD players?).

* It's impossible to return your shopping cart without going all the way back through the store, and the lack of corrals means you have a parking lot full of stray carts.

* The gift sections have been axed. All that seems to remain as far as gifts go are tacky seasonal items and stinky candles. (This refers to Big V, which could be relied on for gifts in a pinch or the style of home decorations Mom likes. Don't get Mom started on the removal of this section...).

* Life Brand products are not much cheaper than the brand names and are almost always inferior.(I admit to liking a few Life products, from cold tablets to soap, but agree on the price. I figure they're building Life as more of a President's Choice-style brand than No Name).

* Although Shoppers is often the cheapest place to buy 12-packs of pop, their supply of Caffeine-Free Diet Pepsi (my pop of choice) is wildly inconsistent.

I don't think she's going to be doing laps around the diamond on the old ad above anytime soon.

Some of their new store placements. The branch in my neighbourhood used to be close to a retirement residence. It moved across the street, mid-block. Near Amy, a new store opened in LaSalle that replaced a location down the road that had only opened a year or two earlier.

We'd love to hear your praise or beefs.

Source: Toronto Blue Jays Scorebook Magazine Vol 1 No 17, 1977 - JB, AT

Thursday, September 14, 2006


Last week, different locale, different cast of characters. From Jane station, we followed the Humber south to the lake, winding through several parks and cliff-hugging paths.

Down, Down, Down We Go Comets Attack The Humber!
We entered the parklands along the river via the stairs on the left, off of Bloor. We followed a dirt path along the edge of a cliff, the walker in front clearing away spider webs for the others. We noticed a weird green-lit building along the river that reminded me of the Donald Sutherland version of Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Turned out to be the Humber Yacht Club, home to a row of boats with patios next to them. As you can see from the picture on the right, comets were also attracted to these vessels.

Good Vibrations
If this picture was less murky, you could make out a donut-shaped object found on the Humber path by the water treatment plant on Queensway. Attached to a set of locked washrooms, the echoes and reverb produced near the hole had us hand-clapping for several minutes.

Drive Slowly
I suspect the injured/dead kid signs found at town limits in Quebec are far more effective.

Checking The Last Photo Lake Ontario By Moonlight (1)
Down by Queensway, we found the perfect picture: two birds, possibly herons, perched side-by-side on a branch in the middle of the river. The birds taunted us by sitting just far enough for none of our cameras to capture the moment.

The full moon had illuminated most of our walk. We looked in awe as it shone over the lake, the light reflected in the waves. At this moment, I finally figured out how to use my long-exposure setting. I was as happy as a little girl.

Overpowering smell at the junction of the Humber and Lake Ontario: fresh-baked cookies, possibly chocolate, from the Christie plant on Lakeshore.

Sitting Waiting For A Streetcar Shadows Waiting For A Streetcar
By now, a few hours had passed and our feet were wearing down. We wandered over to Queensway and Ellis to catch the Queen car, shooting our shadows.

More pics by Defenest8tor, plus a closeup of mushrooms we found under the Gardiner at Squiddity. - JB

Wednesday, September 13, 2006


Vintage Ad #54 - Heeeere's Johnny!

Heeere's a very 70s jacket. I can't put my finger on it, but something is not entirely right with this picture. Is the jacket painted on? Is it too bright? Does he look like he should be overseeing a high school prom or holding a position on an ocean liner?

When this ad appeared, The Tonight Show had entered its last year of being based in New York, moving to Burbank the following May. This is also around the time that episodes of the show still exist - nearly all Carson-hosted shows up to 1970 were, depending on the source, lost in a fire or accidentally wiped to reuse the videotape. Often portrayed as the poster boy for WASPy America, Carson rode high in the late night ratings. His competition for late night viewers in '71 was Dick Cavett on ABC (1969-74) and Merv Griffin on CBS (1969-72).

The clothing line, produced by Hart, Schaffner & Marx, had been around for a year when this ad appeared. Sears was one of its main outlet (2005 New York Times article). The line gained popularity quickly - in 1973, 80,000 electric-blue Carson sport coats were sold (another Times article).

It appears you can still buy Johnny Carson ties at the Elkhorn Valley Museum and Research Centre in Nebraska, which also holds items from his career.

One interesting discovery while researching this post: the tale of a lawsuit against a company that marketed "Here's Johnny Portable Toilets".

Source: The New Yorker, May 1, 1971 - JB


The reception was held at the Lions Hall in Brighton. I breathed a sigh of relief, as it was located east of the intersection I almost always hit a R.I.D.E. check on leisurely summer drives (not that I planned to be a boozehound).

Strongbow Time!
On the other hand, when I discovered that a supply of Strongbow had been secured, I wished that I had someone else to drive the Cavalier. In a way, this was another summer bookend, with the pint of the archer's preferred cider in London starting it off.

Cupcakes were the dessert of choice for the evening, divided between vanilla (dark blue), chocolate (white) and cherry chip (light blue). I sampled all of them, which made my tummy happy.

Digging Into Cupcakes (1) Digging Into Cupcakes (2)
Two Marks digging into cupcakey goodness.

The Newlyweds Address Their Public
After dinner, speeches followed. Some introductions are excerpted here. The occasional clanging of the wine glasses could be heard.

First Dance
The first dance.

Elaine and Stephanie Dancing Mortal Kombat Dancing
Scenes from the dance floor, including Truelove's famous Mortal Kombat moves on the right.

Contemplative Dee Having A Beer
The fourth princess, Dee, may be in Korea, but thanks to a little ingenuity, she made it to the ceremony. Even enjoyed a drink or two. That she had possessed other people's heads was barely noticed.

The Vase
Jordan brought a beloved old gift.

Reviewing The Situation The MC Dances Eric and Jess Dancing Two More For The Road Baby Got Back
Assorted pictures as the night wound down, including a review of the evening's photos, the MC dancing, a last check on the few remaining cupcakes, lots of smiles and a baby dancing to Baby Got Back.

Back at the hotel, the couple proceeded to the wedding suite, while several of us wound down the day by hanging out. Flipping channels, we laughed at 80s music retrospectives and bad porn titles (MILF and Cookies anyone?)

Of course, there must be a morning after.

To be concluded... - JB

A couple of outings with Toronto Psychogeography to catch up on...

The trek two weeks ago started at Dundas West station, wound down Roncesvalles, through Parkdale to the CNE.

Hats Galore Everyday Low Homburg Pricing Fidelity Bank Can I Get Smoked Herring and a Falafel to Go?

As Dundas wound towards the bend at Roncesvalles, we noticed a store that appeared to be in a time warp: baby carriages advertised on the sign, old man clothing at ridiculously low prices in the window. The next storefront was equally out of time. Then we saw the sandwich boards and the gig was up: location filming for Hairspray was starting the following week. Most of the storefronts on Dundas for the next few blocks were redesigned to match the early 60s, with some fronts requiring less work than others (Macks' Gym, a travel agency that added a period map, etc).

What is Hefty Hiding?
Some fronts weren't quite finished, or else the Parkdale-High Park provincial by-election was also run in 1962 Baltimore. There's a better picture of Hefty Hideaway (still standing as of last night) over at Torontoist.

Food! Nighthawks at the Carny Game Tiny Tom Donuts Tiny Toms Rollin' Down The Assembly Line
We crossed over to the CNE from the lake. I hadn't been to the Ex in a few years, memories of the incompatibility of chicken rotis, amusement rides and my body from my last visit (and yeah, I'll join the chorus that it ain't what it used to be). It was nearly closing time and nobody was around to collect admission. The buildings and many of the stalls had closed for the day. One tradition was open: Tiny Tom Donuts. Weird ingredient high on the list: defatted soy flour. All but one of us grabbed a bag. As for the other...

Bungee Trampoline Time
...he took the bungee trampoline for a test drive.

Another report on this walk is on the TPS site.

NEXT: Last week's trek down the Humber. - JB