Monday, April 30, 2007

1,157: PHOTO DU JOUR

Losing the Price War
Offhand, I'd say they lost the battle.

Danforth Ave, west of Pape, April 29, 2007 - JB

Friday, April 27, 2007

1,156: WAREHOUSE MOVIE DEPARTMENT

If you are of a certain age, there is a good chance your grasp of French, however limited it may be, was helped by a talking pineapple and singing skeletons.

Yes folks, we have stumbled upon a 1980s TVOntario show whose theme song, once you've heard it, will never, ever, fully escape your brain.

Ladies and gentlemen, we present the opening minutes of episode one of Téléfrancais. Bonjour, allo, salut!



I recall that by the time this was shown to my class, we may have been too long in the tooth to appreciate Ananas with anything other than mockery or looks of disbelief. Sol from Parlez-Moi was more our speed. Then again, characters developed to teach French to Ontario students tended to be bizarre or off-kilter (70s-granny-clothes-wearing mice travelling from Chicoutimi to Rimouski, constant references to "Roc LeRoc" in the Vive Le Français series, etc). The strangest textbook I remember came in high school, a reader where nearly all stories ended with the protagonist's death or other unhappy circumstances (examples: man goes to a deluxe Mexican resort where people go to end it all, a lousy detective shown falling out of a window after the last panel, etc).

Even our teacher made fun of those tragic tales.

One other odd thing: in the 1970s and 1980s, TVO had a habit of inserting singing skeleton puppets into their educational shows. Mr. Bones from Readalong was a much hepper cat than Les Squellettes, if only because he was less beholden to musical trends of the time. - JB

Thursday, April 26, 2007

1,155: PICTURES FROM AN EXHIBITION PLACE

The latest batch of Thursday night walking pics, from last week's trek through Exhibition Place...

Too Late, Clients Saw It!
On the way over, we saw this sign through a basement window in the Scholastic building. It appeared to be a storeroom...or was it? What secrets truly lay in this black sheep of a room?

Princes' Gates (1)
The Princes' Gates...or Piazza Prince's Gates, as the area surrounding it is now known.

Princes' Gates (4) Princes' Gates (3)
Left: a fountain detail. Right: the floor of the piazza is laid with provincial mottos and stones showing the official provincial flora. Sadly, the territories are not deemed worthy enough to have a motto.

We passed through the south end of the grounds, passing barracks and tugs, resting for a moment at seats left over from Exhibition Stadium. We then arrived at our main destination...

BMO Field Sign (1) BMO Field Sign (2)
Toronto's newest stadium, BMO Field is the home of Toronto FC. We joked that based on the sponsor's initials, it could easily gain the nickname "Bowel Movement". Somebody noticed a gate was open, so most of the group wandered in to take a look around. They roamed for a few minutes and later noticed others doing the same. Most noted the field felt weird.

Scadding's Door Press Building

After saying hi to security, we continued on through the grounds, ending up by the wind turbine and Toronto's oldest home, Scadding Cabin. Note the scale of the door on the left.

The full set of photos is over on Flickr. - JB

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

1,154: VINTAGE NATIONAL HOME MONTHLY AD OF THE DAY

Vintage Ad #224 - Corn Syrup "Pinch Hits" for Sugar
Since there have been a few food-related posts lately, here's a WWII-era ad with a recipe for peach layer cake. If anyone decides to try this out, leave the results in the comments section. If it's really good, save me a slice.

Given the recent controversies surrounding the now-excessive use of corn syrup in processed foods and drinks, would a modern version of this ad shout "Splenda 'Pinch Hits' for Sugar"?

Source: National Home Monthly, September 1944 - JB

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

1,153: IMPATIENCE IS A VIRTUE

Checked out Pontiac Quarterly for the first time last week. It's a quarterly event described as a live-action magazine, with stories, columns, films and music based on a theme, which this time around was impatience.

I can be a patient guy, usually when something requires time to be perfected or I'm no hurry at all. But life is short and waiting tends to shorten my lifespan. A few examples where waiting wears down my patience:

* Slow lines. Slow, bureaucratic lines.

* Traffic jams. If I know a shortcut, I will take it, regardless of how much time it adds to the trip. This helps explain my familiarity with the westbound 409 even though I've only had to drive to Pearson once in my life (to pick up Amy when she returned from a summer spent in Lake Louise). Exception: traffic jams amidst beautiful scenery, where crawling allows me to whip out my camera without hopping out of the car.

* Lottery ticket purchasers. This one's genetic, as Dad constantly cursed about those gingerly taking their time picking their numbers or sniffing scratch cards to find the lucky one. Especially if there only one, harried cashier whose is forced to cater to the whims of the fortune seeker, these people take the convenience out of convenience stores.

* Receiving the bill in most Toronto restaurants. Often an exercise in futility, even if you ask several times. I'm now in the habit of asking for it late in the meal, while I'm still enjoying the food. Service can be terrific throughout, then comes teeth-pulling time. Not so much a problem when dining with friends, definitely a problem when dining alone or on a date heading south in a hurry. The worst case was a restaurant where I sat by the front window and the waiter admitted they kept my bill back so that the sight of diners would draw customers in!

Rejected Letters to Penthouse I am here to try your patience

Dear Liza Liz, What the F**k?
Here are a quartet of pictures from Pontiac Quarterly. I'm feeling impatient to end this post, so you can see the rest of the set, and figure out what is going on in each (other than to say I enjoyed the evening - full of laughs), over on Flickr. - JB

Monday, April 23, 2007

1,152: KARAOKE VIDEO SCREENSHOT OF THE DAY

I Saw the Sign!
This is how most of a group of diners unwound after eating a large quantity of grilled meat. One needs their daily recommended serving of dairy products after all, like this piece o' cheese.

Twister, Yonge and Finch, April 14, 2007 - JB
1,151: THAT WAS THE WEEKEND THAT WAS

This weekend was supposed to be the one where I caught up on a number of tasks that have piled up. That was the plan until the weather gods decided to bestow a beautiful weekend on TO.

Cue Friday night after-work walk, Saturday drive and Sunday bike trek.

I stepped out of the office Friday and headed straight down you, stopping along the way to discover free samples of $110/bottle (on sale) tequila at the Summerhill LCBO, which had a nice burn down the throat. It was amusing to watch an elderly man and the server butt heads over reusing the plastic sample cups - the man wanted to, the server indicated said sanitary reasons prevented them from doing so. I thought about heading into the Reference Library for some quick research, but missed closing time by half-an-hour.

From there, I meandered, ending up in the Annex. Cue wallet-emptying: two books at The Beguiling, three books and a DVD at BMV. The latter was a slightly sentimental pick, for reasons best explained in this post (hint: I bought the feature presentation).

I hit the road on Saturday, winding my way from Markham to Alliston, then criss-crossing Dufferin County to Grand Valley, then down to Guelph. Beautiful day to kick up some dust on hilly back roads through the Oak Ridges Moraine and Niagara Escarpment.

Sunday was the first time I dragged the bike out all year. I managed to misplace my tire pump, but that's not much of a worry when there's a gas station around the corner. Since it was trip #1, I figured I'd go on a short trip along the Don, to Pottery Rd and back. I kept going...and going...and going. The Don Trail is still closed at Queen St, so I drag the bike up the staircase, the pedal hitting one post after another on the bike rail. Once on top of the bridge, I headed east along Queen, where drivers retained their sanity until Woodbine. Not feeling like getting into any scrapes, I wound my way to Kew Beach, then rode back along the lake, where a cool breeze made it feel like the temperature had dropped 5-10 degrees. In short, a perfect day for a lazy ride.

***

You may have noticed a few tweeks to the site. Blogger decided it was time to switch me over to the new version, so expect some tinkering over the next month. The biggest change so far is the addition of labels - I'm slowly going back through the posts and filing them as time permits.

***

There's also a fresh vintage Toronto ad over at Torontoist. - JB

Saturday, April 21, 2007


1,150: (TRYING TO AVOID A TITLE THAT USES PUNS BASED ON "SEOUL")

Seoul House Firing Up The Grill
Last weekend's second group dinner moved north, to Seoul House on Dufferin, just south of Yorkdale. The grill was eager for our arrival, even if it was feeling a little blue.

Pan Chan
Our selection of ban chans (Korean side dishes). Clockwise from top left: kimchee (mildercompared to other versions I've had, but still good), shredded radish, bean sprouts, sliced fish cake, peanuts and anchovies (most grazed on the peanuts and left the fishies alone - I like these crunchy little creatures) and marinated eggplant.

Steamed Dumplings Jap Chae
Left: steamed dumplings. We also ordered the fried version, both palate-pleasing.

Right: A large plate of jap chae (sweet potato noodles). Hard to pull apart sometimes, but one of my favourite Korean dishes. Not as gummy as other places I've been to.

Yang Nyum Gal Bi Grilling Kalbi
We ordered four batches of kalbi for the grill. All slices had been removed from the bones and nicely marinated. This was the action at my end of the table...

Mae Un Dea Ji Bul Go Gi Hae Mul Pa Jeon
...while the other end stirred away at a tabletop cooker with pepper-sauced Mae Un Dea Ji Bul Go Gi (pork bulgogi). We also shared an order of Hae Mul Pa Jeon (seafood pancake).

Smokey!
As the mound of kalbi shrank, the grill collected ash, drippings, etc. Things got a little smokey by the last few pieces, with small fires erupting across the grill. Our waitress threw one of our leftover lettuce leaves onto the biggest blaze, which did the trick. Later on, one diner chewed on the charred lettuce, declaring that it wasn't half-bad.

Lesson: never belittle the power of romaine!

When another table reached the same smokey state, the side doors were opened to let the haze dissipate.

Hitting the Panic Button Sliced Watermelon
Earlier, we noticed that the table was equipped with a "panic button" to call the waitress. Nobody tested it until late in the meal, when we needed more tea. You can see the trepidation in our designated button-pusher's hand. Tea came in an instant.

The meal wound down with a plate of artfully cut juicy watermelon.

A review of the meal over on Phoenikia. Full photo sets on Flickr from here, here and here. - JB

Friday, April 20, 2007

1,149: WAREHOUSE MOVIE DEPARTMENT

Every so often, I like to check up on the IMDB's Bottom 100 list, to see which cinematic turkeys are roasted more than most. The results tend to be skewed by recent arrivals at the box office, but a few hardy perennials manage to stay on the list.

Here's the list of movies I've seen that are found on the current IMDB Bottom 100 list. An asterisk means the film has a hallowed spot in the Warehouse Media Library.

Manos, The Hands of Fate (#12*)
Better to show you than try to explain this one...this excerpt (given the Mystery Science Theatre 3000 treatment) occurs after our heroic family, lost while trying to find their vacation lodge in Texas, has encounters Torgo, an odd manservant with his own haunting musical theme and unique walk.


I Accuse My Parents (#61*)
1940s melodrama about a nice kid with bad parents who falls into a bad, bad crowd.

Hobgoblins (#67*)
Fifth-rate Gremlins wannabes let their victims live out their fantasies...that eventually kill.

Hercules in New York (#72)
Arnold Schwarzenneger (dubbed and billed as "Arnold Strong") is the title character in his film debut. At least his next part was a step up: a bit role in Robert Altman's version of The Long Goodbye. Arnold's sidekick in this movie? Another Arnold - Arnold Stang, best known as the voice of Top Cat.

The Incredible Melting Man (#73)
The title says it all - beware those trips into space! Cameos by directorJonathan Demme and baseball pitcher Mickey Lolich.

Can't Stop The Music (#80)
The Village People musical. One of Dad's favourite movies.

Jaws: The Revenge (#84)
The only one on the list I saw in a theatre, back in Amherstburg. Classic case of Michael Caine strictly picking up a paycheque. Also known as Jaws 4, this made me pass up future invites from friends who wanted to see fourth installments of any series.

Santa Claus Conquers The Martians (#92*)
"Hooray for Santy Claus!" Self-explanatory title.

The Creeping Terror (#100*)
Beware the killer carpet from outer space that has a hard time digesting high heels while attacking early 1960s dance halls.

It should be noted that (a) all of the copies I own are Mystery Science Theatre 3000 versions and (b) the last time I checked, I had seen 15 movies on the list. So much for keeping up with my uber-crud quotient.

How many of these 100 cinematic gems have our humble readers seen? - JB

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

1,148: VINTAGE TIME AD OF THE DAY

Vintage Ad #211 - What's Your Pet Peeve About Shirts?

1) It appears as if the collar wasn't the only part of the shirt that shrunk.

2) This picture was accidentally sent to the ad agency. The model intended to send it to Warner Brothers in hopes of landing roles in the latest gangster movies.

3) Yes, I stomp on my shirts daily while wearing loose suspenders to make sure my collars look straight. Doesn't every pure-blooded male make this part of their morning ritual?

4) Unfortunately, the Arrow HITT doesn't solve the accompanying problem of droopy eyelids, though our model may have lowered his lids to prevent any damage by the edges of his lady friend's hat. If that had happened, then he could have gone on to a career with Arrow rival Hathaway.

Source: Time, January 30, 1939 - JB

Tuesday, April 17, 2007


1,147: CHOWING AT A CHURRASQUEIRA

This weekend gave my stomach a workout, thanks to a couple of group dinners. Both are a good excuse to launch a new regular feature on here, highlighting adventures in dining.

***

College St Bairrada Churrasqueira

Dinner #1 was at Bairrada Churrasquiera on College St. The space is divided in two and I accidentally went into the wrong, classier-looking one on the left. Turned out I wasn't the only one who did this, which might have been an omen.

Cabbage Soup Queijo Português
I started off with the soup of the day, a cabbage soup that resembled a bland minestrone, thanks to stray pasta and beans. We shared a couple of plates of Queijo Português ("Portugeuse Cheese"), a bland white cheese that resembled fresh Mexican versions. I didn't notice the slight goat-cheese aftertaste that others did.

Chouriço Assado (1)
The highlight of the evening arrived next: Chouriço Assado, which lived up to its English name, "Flaming Sausage". A giant sausage was lit and swirled around in a ceramic pig, with no verbal equivalent to "Opa!" The sausage itself was nicely seasoned and would have made a decent main pared with sides.

Sardinhas Grelhadas Codornizes
We were disappointed by most of the mains. The grilled sardines (pictured on the left) were the best item I tasted, followed by my order of quail (right), even if I didn't detect the wine marinade until I tore into the last one. Still, the meat was moist, which is more than can be said for the dry house specialty BBQ chicken. Other dishes, such as suckling pig and calamari, were on the cold side. Pictures of all of the mains can be found here.

Dessert Menu May Contain Milk Derivatives
Though none of us tested the dessert menu, we were amused by the use of "milk derivatives" as an ingredient. Points for honesty.

Overall, we weren't enthused by the food, but this was mitigated by the low prices - most entrees hovered around $10. Another review over at Phoenikia.

Next: Dinner #2, where you'll learn about the fire-extinguishing properties of lettuce. - JB

Monday, April 16, 2007

1,146: SIGNS OF THE TIMES

A pair from last weekend's trip to Windsor...

Cheap Lies
Star Pizza has been out of business for years, but its signage lives on. Their special has gradually dropped letters - for a long time, they offered "Lice" for 99 cents, a deal that earned them a picture in the back of eye years ago. The lice and lies weren't cheap enough to draw crowds.

Glassy, Very Glassy
Glassy, very glassy. - JB

Friday, April 13, 2007

1,145: GLOWING ROOSTERS, DYING MALLS

I'm slowly posting on the ol' Flickr site pictures I shot over my Easter break. A few highlights from the most recent additions:

Things Not To Do At Glendon
Last week's Psychogeography walk stretched from Lawrence subway station to the Bridle Path neighbourhood, via Glendon. While roaming around the latter, we encountered the sign above. Rules are meant to be broken.

Glendon was full of other surprises, mostly involving the art of love, both in sculpture and between human beings.

A Light Shining on Lawrence What Is The Secret of the Light Beneath the Rooster?
Left: Walking along the quiet stretch of Lawrence west of Park Lane, full of tangled trees and mysterious lumps of grass. Right: A rooster stands guard, but what's going on behind the strange glow below it?

For more, check out the set, which includes guard dog warnings, 1970s grad composites and business cards shoved into security gates. Alas, it was a shaky night with the camera, so most of the shots I took weren't up to snuff - no pictures of homes where having lots of money does not result in good architectural taste.

***

Adios A&P Siding Last Look Into A&P?
Among the updated photo sets are the latest pics of the demolition of Amherstburg's shopping mall, White Woods Mall. Since my last trip home, excavation has begun in the front parking lot and the old A&P store is in its death throes, as shown above. The Royal Bank's new location looks close to completion, so I suspect this section will be rubble by my next visit. Check out the full set.

More pictures of Amherstburg, Windsor and the trip back to TO will be up by the end of the weekend. - JB
1,144: TALES FROM THE TTC

Of the many bus routes that trek west along my stretch of Eglinton every morning, half enter Eglinton station via Duplex, half via Yonge and Berwick. I cross my fingers for the latter, if only because there is a stop in front of the main entrance to my office building.

The existence of this stop is news to some people, judging by my protracted attempt to hop off the bus this morning. I made my way to the rear doors, where a person held onto both poles at the exit, totally blocking the way. I kindly said "excuse me", but they refused to budge, their expression a mixture of confusion and grumpiness. When the bus stopped, I had to duck under their arms, as there was a long delay before they finally realized they had to move (slightly). Would have loved to have seem them block the way during an emergency... - JB

Thursday, April 12, 2007

1,143: VINTAGE WINDSOR STAR AD OF THE DAY

Vintage Ad #203 - What Windsor Was Watching (and Eating) in March of '77
While doing some research in the Toronto Reference Library last month, I went down to the newspaper collection in the basement and photocopied the front page of the Windsor Star from my sister's birthday, which I used to wrap one of her presents. While scrolling through the microfilm, I also took a look at what was playing on local screens the day she arrived.

(Her birth notice proved interesting, as a few babies down was one of my friends, who I didn't meet until nearly a quarter century later!)

Note the lengthy run of Silver Streak, a rarity at the multiplex these days. Also note the odd pairing at the Windsor Drive-In: a Led Zep doc and a road-race comedy. The movies at the bottom of the page also couldn't be more different: Voyage of the Damned was an oscar-nominated drama about Jews attempting to leave Germany in 1939, while Mako: The Jaws of Death was one of the first Jaws ripoffs.

As for the theatres in this ad:

* The Devonshire ran through the 90s, its space currently occupied by H&M. Cineplex Odeon built a modern multiplex during Devonshire Mall's most recent expansion in 2000.

* The Windsor Drive-In site sat vacant for years.

* Based on its location, I'm guessing that the Twin East was replaced by the Famous 4, which wound up being Windsor's last chain-operated drive-in. Its site is now the Legacy Park big box development.

* The Capitol has had several lives since closing as a first-run theatre, mostly as a live performance venue. It has recently run into financial troubles. International Metropolis has pictures of a March rally to save the venue.

As for the restaurants ads, I've always wondered if entrees like chicken in a basket (or my childhood fave, shrimp in a basket) were an Essex County thing, since I rarely saw them elsewhere. We usually had these "baskets" at the now-defunct Anderdon Tavern, where the fried chicken or shrimp sat on a bed of fries in a plastic basket. The kind of dish my stomach would revolt at now.

Source: The Windsor Star, March 18, 1977 - JB

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

1,142: MEANWHILE, BACK AT MY OLD HIGH SCHOOL

Easter weekend 2007 was a relaxing, if busy one, one that will provide a lot of material for this site for some time to come. It's hard to pick a starting point, so after a few coin flips, let's begin with a discovery at my alma mater, General Amherst.

While subbing at Amherst about a month ago, Amy discovered that the old weight room by the gyms had been converted to a team room. Not just any team room...

The Bradburn-Harrick Team Room
My timing with these photos was interesting, as both honorees passed away six years ago last week. Not sure when the room was named, but it's a nice tribute to both.

Dad coached football and basketball for nearly two decades. Growing up, I usually tagged along, keeping score for his basketball squads from the middle of elementary school onwards. After my lacklustre football playing career (spent mostly on the can to relieve nerves before practice), I helped him as team manager. Both sports meant a lot of bustrips for us, which lead to a few memorable events:

* Watching basketball players learn it's not a good idea to taunt drunken fans with cries of "go back to the tomato field!" in Leamington - they'll try to topple your bus.

* "J'aime le poisson!", heard after taking in the stench in the dressing room of one county school whose identity will be protected (but guesses are welcome).

* Trips to Ann Arbor to play American high school football, though I missed the year half the team brought back freebie gifts they received when they signed up for JCPenney credit cards at Briarwood Mall.

* Nearly sinking into the mud while trying to hold the yard markers at Micmac Park in Windsor.

Team Room Interior Jeffrey the Bulldog
The inside of the room, complete with the school mascot, Jeffrey the Bulldog, on the floor. Jeffrey is named after the school's namesake, General Jeffery Amherst (yes, the spelling varies depending on the source).

Counting Awards On The Wall, That Don't Bother Me At All Interior Entrance
A selection of awards won over the years, plus the interior exit.

Names on the Floor (1) Names on the Floor (2)
The floor of the gym lobby is covered with tiles listing past coaches and athletes - quite a few of my teachers can be found among the names on the left. Naturally, Dad stands off on his own.

1993 Ontario Scholars 1993 Valedictorian
But Dad's not the only one in the family whose name is found in the building. Amy and I show up on several plaques, including this list of notable grads from 1993. That was the same year they decided to immortalize valedictorians with a wall featuring each one's grad shots. Dad thought I should have switched this lovely picture with my U of G grad shot. When you're an accidental valedictorian, like I was that year (a long story involving a trip to Quebec), I guess any picture will do.

Locker #1492 Keeping Our School Safe Depends On You!
Take a close look at the locker number on the left, which was where I crammed my junk around grade 9 or 10. Consider that Dad was a history teacher, me a history whiz. Consider that another year my locker number was either 1776 or 1812 (memory is a bit hazy on that one). Did the person who assigned locker numbers have a good sense of humour?

The picture on the right is taken in the tech wing - the open door on the right leads to the drama room. I had a homeroom in this end of the school during my last year at Amherst, though there weren't any messages about safety then.

Classes were in session, so I wasn't able to duck into classrooms to see what traces remained from 15 years ago. This may have been a good thing, as the onslaught of memories of events and people I haven't thought about for ages might have knocked me on the floor. - JB