Tuesday, November 27, 2007

out cold!

Vintage Ad #338: Out Cold!
Some people claim to have out-of-body experiences while lying in an accident-induced state of unconsciousness. In today's ad, our friend Jack Lewis had an out-of-diploma experience.

Perhaps it wasn't just thoughts of a career change and a desire to avoid further head traumas that led to Jack's moment of clarity. Perhaps those boxes that knocked him out cold were filled with textbooks. Days of working on the line at an educational publisher may have subconsciously swayed Jack's decision.

Or perhaps we're really stretching this possible scenario behind Jack's life-changing moment. At last report, Jack took early retirement after 36 years with the firm, the last 33 spent happily with the chirpy coworker in panel 8.

ICS regularly advertised in a variety of magazines and comic books. The company is now known as Penn Foster Career School, though the Scranton address remains the same.

Lingering question: while Jack lay delirious in the infirmary, did the goddess of workman's compensation pay a visit?

Source: Marvel Tales #32, November 1971

Friday, November 23, 2007

random notes

Fresh Fish
Back at the beginning of November, I tagged along with a "First Fridays" dining group to check out Cafe Polonez, one of several Polish restaurants along Roncesvalles. I had a $13.50 prix-fixe meal which included dill pickle soup (light and creamy, loaded with potato and finely-sliced cucumber) and the fresh fish special, pictured above. It was tasty, filling fare, food that I suspect Mom would like. Full picture set on Flickr.


As a way of unwinding after working, I'm settling back into an old habit that I've rarely done since vacating the bunker. For the past month, usually on Tuesday or Wednesday, I walk south along Yonge towards downtown. Among the things I noticed this week:

* Book City has returned to Yonge and St. Clair in the new condo that replaced its old location (formerly a Lichtman's). Picked up a guide to overused phrases, The Dimwit's Dictionary. We'll see if this will help me weed out cliches that I'm not using in an ironic manner.

* The southern part of the facade of the old Canadian Tire store at Church is being converted to a condo office.

* Pedestrian and vehicular traffic were held back by police at Bloor to allow a motorcade to go by. The buzz around the crowd was deceased soldiers, given the military-style salute given by two of the cops.

* I nearly gave a Mrs. Krabappel laugh when a Church of Scientology rep tried to draw me in for a stress test.

* The closing sale has begun at Music World (the end of the chain was announced shortly after a recent post). The discounts aren't deep yet, but 30% off one Christmas gift idea was enough to draw me in.


Shameless Self-Promotion Department: Over at Torontoist, a look at British Days at the Yonge-Eglinton Centre. Also of interest is a stroll down one of the main drags of the Warehouse's neighbourhood. - JB

Monday, November 19, 2007

fashion flareup by botany 500

Vintage Ad #389: Budding Game Show Hosts
"Fashions by Botany 500." For years, this acknowledgement was a staple of the end credits for game shows. While other clothiers provided wear for emcees, Botany 500 remains the butt of most jokes.

Today's ad was originally shot during auditions for a failed ABC game show, Masterpiece, with neither of these two gentlemen becoming the next Bob Barker or Bill Cullen. The set featured mod colours with a Jackson Pollock-inspired flair. Two teams competed, each consisting of a contestant and celebrity (the pilot featured Vincent Price and Alastair Cooke). Two rounds of questions revolved around the arts. The winning team moved on to the final round, which featured an obscure piece of art or classical music by a well-known artist, presented by a leggy model. Audience testing revealed the show was too highbrow for network television, though a version with Ivy League professors as the "celebrities" briefly aired on PBS in 1970. Not wanting their model shots to go to waste, Botany 500 received permission to use them in a print ad campaign.

Source: Playboy, September 1968

Sunday, November 18, 2007

the two mr. belvederes

Tyler 8-7100. WE DO GOOD WORK.

If you grew up within antenna or cable distance of Detroit from the 1960s onward, there's a good chance that phone number and slogan are burned in your brain, thanks to Belvedere Construction.

I don't recall seeing today's YouTube find when it originally aired, though there were so many ads featuring Mr. Belvedere (aka Maurice Lezell) they may have blurred in my brain. Note the painters cap and the bumper sticker on the belly of the robot. Perhaps its mouth doubled as a credit card reader or spit out estimates for good work.

According to a 2002 Metro Times article, Lezell named his company after both a street in Detroit and the character played by Clifton Webb in a popular late 1940s movie series...which later inspired the 1980s sitcom. While searching for more of the classic Detroit commercials, I stumbled upon this odd club for kids...

I suspect that admitting that you were a member of this fan club was a one-way ticket to a schoolyard pounding.

Friday, November 16, 2007

shufflin' off to buffalo, art deco style (1)

A month ago, I took a carload down to Buffalo to check out the city's first cross-border edition of Doors Open. Time only allowed us to explore two buildings, but both proved to be wise decisions on a day full of surprises.
The first surprise came when we reached the border. I had prepped the others, in my usual semi-paranoid state, what to expect when crossing the Niagara River. Turned out none of this was necessary, as we had a border guard who didn't seem partially cybernetic. We handed her the Doors Open program, which she thought looked interesting. No strange questions were asked and we passed through without any strange looks.

Niagara Square
Coming into downtown via Elmwood, we parked near Niagara Square, which was devoid of life. The combination of grey skies, solitary monuments and wide, empty streets left us feeling like we were in a zombie movie (28 Days Later was tossed around). We expected a creature to shuffle down the street at any second.

The monument in the square is dedicated to President William McKinley, assassinated a few miles north during the Pan-American Exhibition in 1901.

The Maple Leaf Forever!?!
We crossed the street to Buffalo City Hall, noticing a modest numbers of vistors. Had this been a Toronto Doors Open, the line would have wound around the block. Opened in 1931, the face of this art deco gem is awe-inspiring.

Vintage Fruitage
The region's agriculture heritage is among the themes celebrated in the building's artwork. It was also the first time I had ever seen the word "fruitage".

Oct 11-14_07 Ravines and Buffalo 061 Oct 11-14_07 Ravines and Buffalo 058
Classical personifications line the upper walls and entryways in the lobby.

The Mayor's Desk
We were impressed with the council chamber. Admirable qualities, such as "fortitude" are etched into the pillars of the semi-circular room. Shwon above is the mayor's seat.

Stained Glass Ceiling
The ceiling of the council chamber, showing a stylized sun.

Next stop was the observation tower, which provided great views of the city. Despite the clouds, we were able to see the spray from Niagara Falls and a fire to the east (though it didn't appear far enough to be in Cheektowaga).

WKBW Channel 7 Buffalo
Looking south at WKBW-TV.

Sabres Country
Two homes for the Buffalo Sabres. Up front is the Buffalo Memorial Auditorium (1970-96), backed by HSBC Arena (1996-present).

The Statler
The Statler building, outside of which we found a bird that met a sad end. Buffalo was the birthplace of the Statler hotel chain - this one was the company's second incarnation in the city, opened in the early 1920s.

Next: Awestruck at the Terminal.

All photos taken October 14, 2007. Full set on Flickr

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

fake hair for men and women department

Vintage Ad #400: Hip Huggin Hairdos and Face Fastenin Fuzz
Another day, another find from the fabulous world of late 1960s fake facial fuzz. The top half of this page features the largest Masculiner ad I've seen, in garis...glorious living colour. This one must have been aimed at young teens, unless the older audience for Archie comics in 1969 was unusually large.

This is also the only time I've ever seen these ads paired with women's wigs. Eager readers could now race to the nearest go-go bar to test out their new look. While reading this ad, we suggest listening to mod or soulful 60s instrumentals - how about Hip Hug Her by Booker T & The MGs? Anyone who still has a warehouse full of these wigs in black might be able to make a few bucks peddling them to Amy Winehouse lookalikes.

Pep began in 1940 as a superhero title, headlined by the patriotic Shield. Archie made his funnybook debut in issue 22 and soon took over the title, which ran through 1987.

Click on the "fake hair" tag below for more fake facial fuzz follies.

Source: Pep #230, June 1969 

Monday, November 12, 2007

tales from the ttc

Recipe for a Sunday afternoon delay at Davisville station:

* Two "streetwise" teenage girls
* One slightly rough-looking man looking for a place to sit
* One dog
* Generous measures of yelling
* One car of passengers looking in disbelief
* One emergency bar

Add man with dog to subway car. Allow one girl to sit with legs covering extra seat, while other yells about being allergic to dogs. Allow man to state right to a seat on public transit. Stir in yelling during argument between teens and man. Add pinch of bystanders attempt to preserve peace. Let one teen kick dog. Allow air of tension to build in car, in anticipation of a knock-down battle. Have one passenger press emergency bar before car pulls into station. Let teens escape when train stops, allowing one to call at least one other well-dressed passenger who to tried to intervene "trash". As situation cools, add transit police to subway car. Watch nothing result, other than brief interrogation of passenger who pressed emergency bar. Let train move on to next destination.

Serves the Yonge-University-Spadina line. Cooking time: approximately 15 minutes.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

mapping my travels (and why I hate paris)

As a lark, I mapped out my travels with a few tools over at My World66.

First up, Canada. Apart from the great Route 66/Trans-Canada roadtrip of 2003, this map should only show Ontario and Quebec. I often ponder a trip down east, but have yet to take the plunge.

Here's the USA. The Route 66 roadtrip rule applies for anywhere west of Lansing, Michigan. Note the that sections of the lower 48 I haven't been through (with the exception of Rhode Island) are neatly divided into three chunks: the upper midwest, the south and the Pacific coast. I'm planning on remedying at least one of these segements in '08. As for states most visited, Michigan wins hands down. I suspect Ohio is still in second place, based on childhood vacations and annual runs to the Libbey glass outlet, but New York must be coming close.

Finally, the only other continent I've ever been to, Europe. That white speck in the middle is Luxembourg.

Outside of the UK, I've only been to the Old World once, on a two-week tour in high school, back in '92. The trip consisted of several schools from Essex County and was a mixed experience. The other guys who went from my high school drove me bonkers and I ended up with solo accomodations for the second half of the trip. The breaking point came in Paris, when they decided to make up for their disappointment in the older women on display in the Pigalle by boozily jumping up and down on their beds all night, accidentally landing on me a few times.

Later in the trip, they asked why I hated them.

Paris was an all-around dreary experience, not just because of the weather. The highlight was seeing a middle-aged man get whacked in the head with a 2x4 while entering the Metro (our guide told us to move right along). We only had an hour in the Louvre, which meant everyone rushed to the Mona Lisa at the expense of everything else. The high school that shared our building back home had as many parents along on the trip as students, who proved to be a difficult lot, especially during one meal at a steakhouse. Despite their kids' best efforts to explain the menu, the parents drove the waiters up the wall with expectations that the food and presentation would be exactly the same as they were in North America. Throughout the trip, they displayed classic "ugly American" behaviour in regards to appreciating their surroundings. I wasn't the only one who noticed - Dad told me that the teacher who went from their school was equally charmed by the bunch. I felt sorry for their kids and vowed never to impose myself on any journeys taken by future offspring.

Mind you, I would have made an exception for my parents. Dad and I probably would have split off and found a tasty dive. Mom would have been fine as long as the food tasted good or gone and found something else, since our tolerance for fools is equally low.

The trip improved once we reached the south of France...but that's a story for another day.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

a hallowe'en stroll

Wanting to catch some of the Hallowe'en spirit, I went for a neighbourhood stroll along with Dylan and Nadia last Wednesday. Our route took us through Rosedale, St. Jamestown, Cabbagetown and Church Street.

Nauseated Pumpkin
This pumpkin snuck into the candy bowl early and paid dearly for it. One of the many well-crafted gourds across Rosedale.

The neighbourhood seemed to be divided between streets bustling with activity and streets with an invisible fence keeping trick-or-treaters. While we kept to streets full of decorations, we'd peer down others where one wouldn't even know it was Halloween.

The Dead Wear Dora Diapers Bad Flight Plan
Left: This skeleton excited a large group of trick-or-treaters - "look, he's wearing Dora the Explorer underpants!" One kid rambled on for at least five minutes in disbelief. In terms of views on Flickr, this is the most popular picture of the evening, though I'm not sure if I want to explore the reasons too deeply.

Right: A witch who made an error in her flight path. Accident-prone witches are not as prevalent as a few years, which makes my Mom happy. She saw so many around Essex County and Detroit that she vowed never to buy one.

Melted Witch
Abandoned costume element or a witch who was doused with water? You be the judge of this find on Sherbourne Street.

Off-Model Big Bird
Next stop was Cabbagetown, where we caught this horrifyingly off-model statue of Big Bird in a convenience store window. This was the most fright-inducing sight of the evening - just look at the eyes!

The Children's Television Workshop would not be amused.

Halloween Couple
As we wandered east of Parliament, the last of the trick-or-treaters gave way to adults dismantling displays. We caught this couple watching the cleanup of a tent with a coffin that was once full of candy. After a long night of greeting kids, it was time for them to kick back and enjoy leftover eyeball stew.

Living Tetris Halloween Crowd (2)
After a rest stop at the Tim Hortons in the old Winchester Hotel, we wandered over to Church Street to check out the costumes. We hit a wall of people at the barricades and crept north through the crowd. The packed conditions weren't helped by stage set up on the street, which didn't make sense to us as the point was to watch the crowd. Feeling slightly claustrophobic, we ducked into a back alley, wandering back over to find more breathing room near Wellesley.

As usual, the costumes were spectacular. We liked the guy dressed as a box of take-out noodles (not shown, as I couldn't find a good angle to shoot). We ran into a few people we knew, such as the group of Tetris blocks on the left.

Full picture set. More stories over at Squiddity.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

holiday inn is #1 in people pleasin'

Vintage Ad #394: Pleasin' Dreams
This pretty much sums up my day - kind of slumbery, except for a short roadtrip into the 'burbs in search of pickle curry spice mix (it was an excuse).

When I was kid, I was fascinated by hotel directories, mainly due to the maps. We usually had the latest Holiday Inn guide kicking around, as it was the chain we tended to stay at. We often picked them up at the downtown Windsor location, which burned down ages ago. Located on the Detroit River, one had to drive down a long ramp to get to the lobby. It also included an Odeon movie theatre, which we rarely went to (the last movie I saw there was Lawnmower Man, which wasn't my choice but since friends were going, why quibble?).

This campaign appeared in early 1980s directories, usually as bookends.

Source: Sports Illustrated, November 30, 1981