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

Thursday, September 21, 2006

the best place to sit while the art gallery of ontario undergoes renovations

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!

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

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

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

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

cbc television wants you to know a secret

Vintage Ad #63 - Trade Secrets
Jumping ahead to the mid-80s this week, plugging a four-part look by CBC Toronto into the local arts and media scene.

Couple of things I noticed:
* The "Film" episode is the only one that doesn't drop any names in this ad.
* Under "Journalism", note that, due to her place in the alphabet, Barbara Amiel is mentioned. Nowadays, she makes the news, in the ongoing saga of Conrad Black's financial mess.
* Any idea who the "mystery guest who sings a slightly different tune" on the "Pop Music" show would have been? Or who would be chosen to fit that bill if a new version were produced?

Source: Toronto Life, November 1985

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

cblt 25, blue jays 1

Vintage Ad #53 - CBC 25, Blue Jays 1
As we draw near the close of the Blue Jays' 30th campaign, let's look back at the team's first season, which coincided with CBLT's 25th anniversary.

I picked up a scorebook from Toronto's first season when I was a kid, at a flea market/antique sale/whatever at Heritage Village near Kingsville. More ads from this book will be featured in the coming weeks. It provides a nice introductory package, with a history of recent major league expansions, stories on the first American League game, the Baseball Hall of Fame, etc. Oddball feature: a guide on how to dine out in Toronto by longtime Globe and Mail restaurant reviewer Joanne Kates.

Top ticket price in '77? $6.50.

As for the Jays, they finished in the spot usually reserved for expansion teams - last place, with a 54-107 record. Unlike their expansion counterparts, the Seattle Mariners (who failed to hit the .500 mark until 1991), the Jays were competitive within a decade, reaching the playoffs in their ninth season.

Games were televised on CBC from 1977-81, then again from 1993 into the first half of this decade (I can't find the date when games was dropped - one site indicated Brian Williams was the announcer as late as 2002).

CKFH 1430 held the initial radio rights, with Tom Cheek and Early Wynn calling the games. CKFH eventually changed its call letters to CJCL, then swapped frequencies, becoming today's The Fan 590.

Archival clips:
Opening Day, 1977
The Toronto Giants? (the Giants would have abandoned San Francisco for TO in 1976, except for a court ruling).

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

Friday, September 01, 2006

who wants to go on a mini 12-hour stag junket to the bahamas?

Vintage Ad #49 - Mini 12 Hour Stag Junket to the Bahamas
Found this one on the back of a clipping Dad tucked away in 70s football yearbooks. Given that the purpose of this trip is to drink, drink and drink some more, it's ironic I scanned the ad around the time carry-on drinks and gels were not being allowed on flights.

Not that it sounds like the respectable 70s gentlemen who booked this "stag junket" needed to bring any beverages. Open bar on the way down, unlimited cocktails in the Bahamas, open bar on the flight back. "Stag junket" was a safe cover for whatever drunken debauchery occurred on the way. As a jet was involving, I'm guessing the target audience was businessmen, from middle management up, along the lines of the "businessman's lunch" offered up at local strip joints.

Alas, with modern security concerns and attitudes towards in-flight intoxication, I doubt such a trip would be featured prominently in the sports section. Timewise, it'd be 16-18 hours now. And the length of the responsibility waiver...

(Sidenote about planes and booze: on my flight to London, I learned that intoxicated neighbours and the remote for your in-flight entertainment don't mix. The guy never passed up an opportunity for a mini-bottle of wine from the attendant. His wife also ordered bottles, but passed all of them to him. The booze didn't make him obnoxious, just a case of the shakes that left him swinging around his seat, hitting my controls every 15 minutes. I wound up watching as much of a cheesy action movie as Good Night and Good Luck.)

Crazy thought - this ad could inspire a theme party. Deck out your dwelling/venue as a 70s jet, with guests dressed as refugees from an Airport movie or Anchorman. At least one Dean Martin-style pilot and Karen Black-style stewardess would be required. One room could stand in for "the Bahamas", likely the bathroom if the recommended levels of alcohol are followed. Musician/comedian friends provide the "entertainment at the Kasbah Celebrity Room", with a couch standing in for VIP seating.

Source: Detroit Free Press, September 2, 1976 - JB