Tuesday, June 26, 2007

magic shadows

Today's trip in the wayback machine revolves around a show that may that started my love of old movies.

Magic Shadows ran weeknights on TVOntario throughout the 1970s and 1980s. The show divided old movies into 20-25 minute segments, bookended with comments by host Elwy Yost. Often, one day a week was reserved for serials. The length was perfect for little me to get hooked on classic movies, especially if they were pictured in our quickly-tattered copies of Daniel Blum's photo histories of film. Dad often tuned in for British comedies - I'm All Right Jack and The Great St. Trinian's Train Robbery stick out in my mind.

It wasn't long before I started watching Saturday Night at the Movies. Around this time was a brief period where I was trotted around my elementary school as a seven-year old film expert lecturing grade eights, though I think Dad quashed that quickly (probably thinking I didn't need to be paraded around like a carnival freak). Some people thought I would be the next Elwy Yost, which hasn't happened yet.

Given how much of a 'fraidy cat I was when it came to certain things on TV, like transformation sequences on The Incredible Hulk, I don't recall the pilot-turning-into-a-tiger-turning-into-an-octopus freaking me out much. Maybe I was immune after occasionally sitting through one of the show's lead-ins, Tom Baker-era Doctor Who, which I don't remember causing runs behind the sofa. Not that there was enough space to run behind either of our sofas...

The film Elwy introduces is Swamp Water (1941), legendary French director Jean Renoir's first American film after fleeing Nazi-occupied Europe. The cast included Dana Andrews, Anne Baxter, Walter Huston, Walter Brennan, John Carradine and Ward Bond--the sort of cast you'd expect to see wander through a John Ford picture

The clip also contains ads for other TVO programs. I definitely remember the Magic Shadows slide and the style used for the other programs...though the station combo that sticks with me is "channel 18 in London, channel 59 in Chatham". - JB

Monday, June 25, 2007

our world and welcome to it

Vintage Ad #260: Our World
Forty years ago today, the world shrank a little more.

Our World was the first TV program to be broadcast live around the world via satellite. 19 countries were slated to contribute, but five countries (USSR, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary and East Germany) pulled, allegedly to protest the recent Six-Day War in Israel. The BBC spent nearly a year preparing the broadcast, which was seen by over 400 million people in 31 countries.

The most-repeated clip from the show is the UK's contribution, where the Beatles debuted a new song that captured one of the main themes of the summer of '67. See if you can spot some of the other notable rock stars in the audience.

(Apologies for the picture quality - this is the fullest, non-colourized clip I was able to find).

CBC carried a "pre-game" show, featuring remarks from Marshall McLuhan, which you can watch over at the CBC Archives. This clip also features Canada's contributions to the full broadcast: ranching in Alberta and leisure time at Kitsilano Beach.

Link: Wikipedia entry, which appears to rely on the CBC's info.

Ad source: Toronto Life, July 1967 

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

this roadtrip has seven days: day four

Day 4: Newark, NJ to Lancaster, PA

Getting out of Newark did not prove a problem, except for filling up the car. Since 1949, self-serve gas stations have been illegal in the Garden State, with proposals to relieve pump jockeys of their duties never having gone very far. I pulled into a Hess not far from downtown and failed to convey to the attendant that I wanted the car to be filled, not just a strict dollar amount. My guess is that with current prices, a few drivers have raced away without paying.

I drove west on I-78, which quickly turned into a tree-surrounded route. Once I hit Pennsylvania, construction reduced traffic to lanes so narrow, my knuckles barely stayed within my skin. Needless to say, I was happy to hop off at Reading and head into Pennsylvania Dutch Country. Goodbye tailgaters, hello winding roads and oddball town names.

Oregon Dairy Restaurant Pinetown Covered Bridge
I stopped for lunch outside of Lititz at Oregon Dairy, a combination grocery store/family attraction/sit-down restaurant. I had the lunch buffet, which featured a better-than-average spread of items like baked chicken and fish , stewed tomatoes and various forms of potato. Definitely the kind of place Mom would be very happy at had she been on the trip. The oddest item, apart from more flavours of pudding than I ever knew existed, was sweet and sour ham balls - ground ham covered in a light, sweet sauce. They also offered a free scoop of ice cream, but not the el cheapo type usually found on buffet spreads - from a long-list of handscooped flavours, I picked Tastykake Chocolate Cupcake. Heavenly stuff.

After lunch, I glanced at my map of Lancaster County and wandered onto the backroads. It wasn't long before I crossed my first covered bridge of the day, pictured above. Built in 1867, the Pinetown Bridge was repositioned on higher ground in 1973 after a flood washed it away from its base. The county's official tourist site has a detailed guide of the area's bridges.

I'll shut up for a few moments to let you enjoy the scenery on the drive southeast to Old Philadelphia Pike...

Pennsylvania Dutch Country Backroads (1)

Pennsylvania Dutch Country Backroads (3)
I could have spent a few days wandering the winding, hilly countryside. All roads appeared to be paved. I was surprised to see many professionally-outfitted cyclists out for a ride on a weekday - no organized ride or race was happening.

Welcome to Intercourse Cow Guards the Door
OK, giggle a little bit. Others have. Shockingly, most of my stops in Intercourse had to do with food, once I got past the cow guarding the Intercouse Canning Company. Security did not moo when I walked out with a bag full of pickles, preserves and odd peanut-based spreads (PB schmier or cream, anyone?).

A Half Century of Cannin' and Jammin' Banjo Jimmy
A cow at the door was sedate compared to the main cannery in town, Kitchen Kettle Village, where a tourist complex grew around preserves. There's lots of cannin' and some jammin', when Banjo Jimmy played in the "town square".

Wall O' Relishes The Mustard Jerry Likes
Inside the main store, with samples galore. Jerry likes the mustard.

Covered Bridge Ahead Cows By The Roadside
Driving south towards the Lincoln Highway, I stopped at the side of the ride to snap a covered bridge indicator sign. I pulled the car next to a herd of cows. One in particular took an interest in me...

Guard Cow
Had there not been a fence, I would have felt the tender caress of cow hooves. This was the guardian of the herd, determined that I not come any closer or potentially corrupt the morals of the locals. We played stare eyes for awhile, then I drove off.

I suspect I'm on the bovine equivalent of a no-fly list.

I drifted into Lancaster, eventually finding a hotel back near Lititz. Dinner was at a family restaurant near Bird-In-Hand, The Family Cupboard. Had another Amish-style buffet spread, this time with hamloaf instead of ham balls, thus fulfilling my yearly quota of ground ham products. The surprise item was a slice of pie I thought was coconut cream until I detected a thin layer of peanut butter cream on the bottom. Inspiration for how to use some of the spreads I picked up earlier?

Full photo set on Flickr.

Next: A taste of Scrapple 

Friday, June 15, 2007

so long sam the record man (yet again)

Sam the Record Man
From Toronto Guidebook, published by Toronto Life in 1974:
Toronto's two best record shops are practically next-door neighbors. Together they offer the widest selection of records in the city, and maybe the world; Sam the Record Man, 347 Yonge St. and A&A Records, 351 Yonge St. Both stores are open until around midnight every day, including Sunday. (156)

A&A, owned in its later years by an American conglomerate, is long gone. After a dance with death several years ago, Sam's is about to join it in the history books.

No More Chess
During childhood visits to my grandparents, it was rare that Dad and I didn't stop at either of the record stores on Yonge. I barely remember any details about A&A, but the handwritten artist dividers, the tossed-together atmosphere and the signatures on the walls of Sam's linger. Dad usually spent an hour or two browsing the classical record section in the back - it was one of the few places I recall him looking through the regular-priced bins, occasionally picking up a record that wasn't marked down. After checking out, we occasionally watched the hard-core chess players on the sidewalk.

Sam's was where my monster music collection starting rolling, thanks to a grade 8 field trip. The teachers went on about how when we reached Yonge St, we had to go to the head shops. In my group, I was firm: we had to go to Sam's. My cassette collection tripled in size after that trip - if memory serves, the albums included:

Appetite For Destruction - Guns n' Roses
Track Record - The Guess Who (everyone thought I'd bought a Who tape)
Open Up And Say Ahhh - Poison (only because everybody else in my class had it)
either Volume 1 - Traveling Wilburys or Full Moon Fever - Tom Petty

(Other highlights of that trip: one kid who was swarmed for his shoes at Fairview Mall, being designated button-pusher for the porn previews at the hotel and, in another room, MuchMusic running Like A Prayer all night to determine if it was too much for Much - few parts of Amherstburg had access to cable, so Much was a novelty).

The Sell-Off Begins
I wandered in after work on Wednesday to see if the inventory sell-off had started. The second floor has been closed off, while the level of inventory on the main floor is lower than I expected. I browsed half-heartedly, not seeing anything that grabbed my eye, though I contemplated buying some 99 cent Body Break CDs to give away as novelty items. Fellow browsers looked as unenthusiastic, a sense of sadness hanging in the air.

The site's contents will be auctioned off in less than two weeks. Hopefully the efforts forming to preserve the spinning discs on the site or elsewhere in the city will pay off, as a reminder of a chapter of the city's retail and cultural history.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

world war II automobile tips department

The Automobile User's Guide With Wartime Suggestions
Way, way back, I posted the self quiz on the inside front cover of this guidebook produced by GM during World War II. Try it and see how many you can answer before the answers are revealed over the coming months.

I found this guide amidst the new arrivals of used magazines at the K/W Book Exchange in Kitchener. As you read, keep in mind the rationing mindset of the war years and contrast the tips on how to prolong the life of your fine North American automobile to the disposable nature of most modern technology (case in point: I just tossed out a print that gave up the ghost after less than two years of service). Posts will be limited to two-to-four pages from the guide, warts and all - let's say some of the accompanying cartoons are on the non-PC side.

Onto page 1. If you'd like, rig up some chimes in the background, like those childhood book-and-record sets.

AUG - Page 1
"Information not generally available" - how tantalizing. But would the information for new drivers help them pass the driving exam?

The roots of General Motors in Oshawa go back to around 1876-77, when Robert McLaughlin moved his carriage shop south from Enniskillen (a plaque and model displayed in a shed on the family farm site in Tyrone mark McLaughlin's earliest ventures). The business was inherited by his sons Sam and George, who entered into an automobile manufacturing agreement with Buick in 1908. A decade later, the company was sold outright to GM, with Sam becoming president of Canadian operations. The McLaughlin-Buick name was phased out in 1942, not long before this guide.

AUG - Page 2
That I have a copy indicates previous owners followed these suggestions to the letter. The directions are indicative of the conservative measures undertaken during the war.

Monday, June 11, 2007

gourmet's gallery: tastykake chocolate kandy kakes

Chocolate Kandy Kakes Box
Before setting off on my recent roadtrip, I had a request to bring back Tastykakes, a Philadelphia-based snack food brand with a cult following. I brought back Snowballs, (which I reported on a few years ago and required several stops before I found a box that would remain fresh by the time I returned to TO) and today's featured product, Chocolate Kandy Kakes.

Package Notes: Clean-looking blue and yellow background, with child-like font.

What's It Like: Think miniature chocolate cupcake, not much larger than a thick cookie (Amy compared their appearance to Snackwells Devil's Food cookies). One of the main selling points of Tastykakes is their short shelf life, so my fingers were crossed this box had not gone stale early. It hadn't - the cakes were fresh and chocolaty. The layer of white goo tasted less artificial than cheaper cupcakes. Bonus points for looking almost exactly as depicted on the box.

Would You Buy It Again?: Definitely. Friends I shared them with gave their thumbs up. My waistline should be happy I only buy these whenever I head down to Jersey...though recently I have noticed the odd box closer to the Canadian border.

As for the Snowballs? Nadia and Alison tested them out, poking at the springy coconut-marshmallow covering as if the white mounds were an alien creature, a breast form or a meteor about to crack open with goo.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

au revoir hometown mall: going, going...

The New Waiting Room
I spent most of Victoria Day weekend back home in Amherstburg, which meant another opportunity to trace the ongoing demolition of White Woods Mall. It looked like someone decided to bring a chair for a front-row view.

The pace had quickened since my last visit - the east wing and A&P were history, though rubble in the lot may have belonged to either.

Twisted Metal Crimestoppers
Left: Bundles of twisted metal occupied the area around the old northeast entrance.

Right: Clearing away the rest of the lot for the Bentonville Behemoth was well underway. Have not checked on the number of calls Crimestoppers has received in relation to this site.

Years ago, Crimestoppers ran weekly ads before SCTV reruns on Windsor's CBC affiliate. The last one I remember, regarding an incident at a Burger King at Tecumseh and Lauzon Rd, ran for months. The narrator was more dramatic than usual, placing slow, heavy emphasis on "SUS-PECT NUM-BER ONE".

Steve's Air Unit Tender Tootsies
Left: Anyone need an air conditioning unit? Note the outlots in the back - the north set are finished, the west well on their way.

Right: No Tender Tootsies today. These are the remains of the north wing; the only area of the mall still functioning was the southwest corner, containing the fitness centre and a dollar store.

All pictures taken May 19, 2007. Full photo set on Flickr.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

wonder woman and jerry lewis...together!

Vintage Ad #245 - Hey Lady!
A meeting of titans, both facing crossroads in their lengthy careers.

Jerry Lewis's movie career petered out as the 1970s dawned. Apart from the infamously unreleased concentration camp drama The Day The Clown Cried (1972), Lewis did not star in any movies for a decade between Which Way to the Front? (1970) and Hardly Working (1980). This, along with declining sales of humour comics in general, may have played a part in the end of his 20-year run as a comic book headliner in 1971. The latter part of the run played Jerry off against his nephew Renfrew, with the occasional cameo from DC Comics' stable of superheroes.

As for Jerry's co-star, Wonder Woman was in the middle of her "Emma Peel" era. Changes to the character in 1968 eliminated her powers, costume and romantic interest. Out with invisible planes, star-spangled shorts and Steve Trevor, in with butt-kicking, pseudo-trendy outfits and a midget retainer named I Ching. Any boost from these changes faded and the status quo was back by 1973, not long after the traditional rendition of the character appeared on the cover of the debut issue of Ms. magazine.

Source: Phantom Stranger #6, March-April 1970

introducing the lee-chin crystal

Ladies and gentlemen, the new addition to the Royal Ontario Museum, the Michael Lee-Chin Crystal.
Michael Lee-Chin Crystal

Reflective Lineup Sold Out/Complet

Crystal, Second Floor

Catwalks (3) Looking Down

Forbidden Fourth Floor

Full photo set (and explanations). More stories, photos and links at Spacing and Torontoist.

All pictures taken June 3, 2007 

Monday, June 04, 2007

this roadtrip has seven days: day three, part two

Day 3, Part 2: New York, NY

Washington Square (2) Washington Square (1)
Time for an afternoon rest spot...in this case, Washington Square. The picture of the arch is the winner of the "most postcard like picture of the day" sweepstakes.

Roll Over Karl Marx (and Tell Engels the News) Still Unoppressive, Still Non-Imperialist
Left: Roll over Karl Marx, and tell Engels the news. Discovered on 6th Avenue, it's no shocker that this ad for Forbes was perched on a environment-depleting vehicle.

Right: Still my favourite bookstore name of all time, a remainders store located in the West Village on Carmine St. Finds on this trip: an overview of taboo-breaking films by Joe Bob Briggs (Profoundly Disturbing: Shocking Movies That Changed History) and a guide to sexual slang over the centuries.

Do the Strand (3) Do the Strand (2)
Speaking of bookstores, after a stroll around the West Village, it was back over to Broadway for a peek into Strand. I don't dispute their claim of 18 miles of books, given how tight some aisles are (though they are a far cry from the old basement location of Dawn Treader in Ann Arbor, where sideways movement was the only kind possible).

Idol Wannabe 17th and Broadway
Left: One could have mistaken the listening booth section of the Union Square Virgin Megastore for the auditioning area for American Idol...or at least this dude did. Heads turned all over the store as he wailed away, slightly off key, to whatever was pumping through the headphones. Staff were amused, content to let him sing and punch away to the rhythm (standard next to him might have resulted in accidental bruises).

Right: Broadway and 17th St, from the north end of Union Square.

A Well Stocked Bathroom
One thing I forgot to mention about that night's dinner - one didn't have to worry about running out of toilet paper in the middle of an emergency.

Coyote Ugly Sandwich Board (1) I Like Bikes, But...
Left: I walked off dinner with a stroll south of the East Village. Draw your own conclusions about this sign outside of Coyote Ugly. I may have qualified for the "drunk" half of the equation, as I felt the sake kick in.

Right: Found along 10th St. Was the owner was a fan of this film?

Stop One Deli (3) Stop One Deli (2) Stop One Deli (1) Canal St
One of these things is not like the other... The three drawings were part of the window of a convenience store, whose location I forgot to write down, other than it was near Chinatown.

The Latest in Transportation Security Good Night Manhattan
Left: The walls watch you at Chambers St subway station, though it's not the latest in security technology (or is it?). These peepers are part of Oculus, installed in 1998. Artists Kristin Jones, Andrew Ginzel and Rinaldo Piras based the mosaics on photos of 300 New Yorkers.

Right: The last sight of Manhattan for the day, the escalators to the PATH train at the WTC. The city may never sleep, but I was ready to.

Next: Country roads, canneries and a town whose name will cause giggles