Wednesday, October 29, 2008

art linkletter, tea snob

Vintage Ad #630: Art Linkletter, Tea Snob
Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Art Linkletter, tea snob.

Then again, do you want to drink tea that causes your cup to go flaccid? The cup on the left was actually a model where the built-in sparklers went off once too often, causing the cup's structure to weaken.

The ad writer resisted the urge to emulate the name of one of the most popular segments on Linkletter's daytime television variety show: Cups Do the Darndest Things!

Source: Family Circle, April 1958 

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

southern sojourn 2: louisville, lincoln and leisure

Hilton Garden Inn Louisville East (1)
Day two began with buffet breakfast at the hotel. While additional entrees were available for free, the spread was fine by us. The tub of grits on the steam table was a sign that we were departing the Midwest. We also had our first serving of biscuits on the trip, though none of us tested the sausage gravy. The latter is treated as a family joke - Mom always conjures images of people shovelling away giant bowls of white sauce speckled with black pepper and bits of breakfast sausage, twisting her face upon mere mention of the dish. I didn't feel like causing her any pain, so I resisted trying the gravy (I'm indifferent towards sausage gravy, but will sneak a spoonful if it looks fresh).

World's Largest Baseball Bat
After checking out, we drove into downtown Louisville. All I expected to see was the world's largest baseball bat, leaning on the Louisville Slugger Museum. Main Street proved to have a few surprises...

21C Hotel and Museum - Penguin and Chandelier Downtown Louisville Garbage Container
The West Main District boasts the second-largest concentration of cast-iron facades in the United States. Like many American downtowns, the strip fell on hard times by the 1970s, when the first renewal efforts began. Efforts to bring the street back to life incorporated museums, boutique hotels, sculptures and stylish street furniture.

Downtown Louisville Newspaper Box Corral

West Main Sidewalk Plaques
We noted Louisville as a place worth future investigation.


Part Time Signal
And the rest of the time the intersection is a free-for-all!

We stumbled upon this just off I-65 during a brief sojourn along the Kentucky Bourbon Trail. We were too early to taste test any of the state's finer drinks, though we briefly wandered the grounds at the Jim Beam distillery.

We also ran into our second incident involving gasoline gift cards. Mom had earned $100 worth of Shell cards at Casino Windsor and saw the trip as the perfect opportunity to use them. Our first attempt was in Huntingdon, Indiana, where a confused clerk wound up only taking $16 off a $25 card for a $30-something fill. You're welcome to figure out the logic behind this, as we couldn't. Attempt number two was at a station near Jim Beam where the clerk hummed and hawed for 10 minutes, totally perplexed by the processing procedure for gift cards.

We paid in cash. Back in the car, we wondered if somebody was playing a joke on us.


Lincoln As An Adult
Next year marks the 200th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln's birth, a celebration the towns near his birthplace are gearing up for. Banners are already up in Hodgenville, a town with a bottomless reservoir of Lincoln tributes.

Hodgenville Town Square

Lincoln As A Boy
The town square was rebuilt in the past year, with a new statue of Lincoln as a boy installed opposite a seated adult Honest Abe. The surroundings felt like mid-20th century small town America - I imagined classic cars roaring around the square while well-dressed citizens checked out the storefronts. A side-effect of watching too many old movies or scanning advertisements?

Abraham Lincoln Birthplace (2) - The Stairs
South of Hodgenville is Lincoln's birth site. It wasn't enough to preserve the small log cabin he grew up in; the structure was encased in a classical monument requiring a trek up a lengthy set of steps.

Sarcasm aside, it is an impressive sight.

Abraham Lincoln Birthplace (4) - The Cabin
OK, the outside is impressive. The inside holds the cabin, which is as full of objects as an apartment in between tenants. While trying to be all professional photographer-like, I tested the bouncing ability of my camera. It survived, though the zoom developed a mind of its own.


See 7 States From Rock City
We wandered south along US 31E for awhile, passing vintage barn ads for attractions several states away. Stopping to take photos proved tricky, due to the lack of a shoulder on the road. This didn't detract from the scenery along the winding routes of both branches of US 31.

Our path never led us to the wonders of Rock City, but it did take us past vintage tourist attractions in Cave City.

Sleep in a Wigwam (1)
It was too early to test out the air-conditioned comfort of a wigwam. Of the seven Wigwam Motels built between 1933 and 1950, Cave City's is one of three survivors. The site was well preserved and fully booked for the evening.

Someday. Someday...

Full photo set

Next: All the way to Memphis

Sunday, October 26, 2008

halloween costume ideas department

Vintage Ad #637: Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?
Costume idea #432: The Jolly Green Giant as a fancy dinner guest
  • Green makeup

  • Fabric, construction paper or fresh produce to make hair and toga

  • One dickey (a thin pool flutterboard or white drywall combined with a black bowtie will also work)

  • Cloth napkin

Optional add-ons: dollhouse table, miniature guests, can of Green Giant vegetables

Source: Better Living, June 1953

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

state of grace (hospital)

Grace Hospital
From the "Fun with Photoshop" department: an aura around the place I entered the world, Grace Hospital in Windsor.

The facility was launched by the Salvation Army in 1918 as a maternity hospital but quickly expanded into general services. Operations were merged with Hotel-Dieu Hospital in 1994. Shuttered since 2004, Grace has seen a steady physical decline, with few windows not boasting a crack or three. A local urban explorer documented the early stages of its decay. Part of the site is slated to be demolished while the rest will be converted into a long-term care facility.

Dad always referred to Grace as "the baby farm." For many years he purchased his Sunday New York Times at a convenience store a few doors east of Grace and often noted my connection to the hospital. Our visits to the neighbourhood these days are limited to dining at Shin Shin across the street. We tend to go there once a year for our fix of green beans in hot sauce. The combination of chili, ground pork, soy, garlic and green beans (a vegetable I used to despise but have slowly warmed up to thanks to this dish) has never worked as well anywhere else.

Photo taken October 10, 2008, shortly before tearing into a plate of green beans in hot sauce

Monday, October 20, 2008

"yeah here's my torso..."

Dance music for a Monday morning...from one of the worst movies of all time, 1964's The Creeping Terror, a dance hall sequence with a twist-a-rific tune that never ends. This is the ultimate movie for those who moan about the lack of man-eating alien carpet flicks coming out of Tinseltown these days.

Basic plot: a spaceship crashes in California. One of two creatures inside escapes and dines on the locals, though it doesn't seem to like swallowing high heels.

For expert commentary, we're using the Mystery Science Theatre 3000 version of the movie. The music begins around the 51:30 mark.

Friday, October 10, 2008

the morning after the nuit before

The Morning After the Nuit Before (1)
A quiet information tent next to OCAD, waiting for a long rest.

The Morning After the Nuit Before (1)
Across town on Roncesvalles, Sunday reading for those barely making it out of bed...if they went to sleep at all.

Photos taken October 5, 2008

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

nuit notes (2008 edition)

For the second year in a row, I tested my endurance during Nuit Blanche. Unlike last year, the other events over the weekend came before, not after, the all-night event. The morning was spent putting the finishing touches on an article, followed by a fantastic round of dim sum out by the airport with the monthly dining group. I tried to nap in the afternoon but only managed to spent 90 minutes in Dreamland. The challenge was to see how deep into the night I would last.

Judging from the reactions I've seen so far around the web, it looks like my big mistake was not drifting far into Zone C. I almost made it at the end of the night, but fatigue derailed those plans. I also remembered my trek through that zone last year, a miserable experience I didn't feel like repeating. C'est la vie. Despite a few duds along the way and less energy, I enjoyed this year's edition more than last year's, helped by elements not directly related to the works on display.


Nuit Blanche Cabbagetown: Project Beacon Nuit Blanche Cabbagetown: An Appropriate Work to Read

Though I contemplated starting in C and working my way east, Cabbagetown wound up being my first stop. Though only listed under one generic entry in the guide, the exhibits in Cabbagetown felt like a Nuit Blanche of its own. There was a strong sense of neighbourhood at work: many in the sparse crowd knew each other (I ran into a high school classmate), Parliament Street was closed off, vendors were out selling goodies other than street meat and local authors read Hugh Garner's novel about the neighbourhood. Think downsized, artier version of summer street fests. The relaxed atmosphere made it a good spot to ease into the night. Perhaps small neighbourhood clusters and a few large scale installations downtown could be a method of programming in the future.

Spiked Cabbage (2)
The cabbage lanterns were a cute touch.

Nuit Blanche Cabbagetown: Carousel
I pulled up a gym mat and caught a mix of dance and improvised music at the 509 Dance studio. Spectators were spared the spectacle of seeing my two left feet dragged onto the floor.

Nuit Blanche Cabbagetown: The Poet Tree
Who says poems don't grow on trees?


Next stop was Maple Leaf Gardens. The long line moved quickly, with most people happy to see a glimpse of the inside of the old hockey template. The official exhibition felt like an afterthought; the real attraction was the venue. The Gardens has rarely been opened to the public since the Leafs moved out, including an underwhelming Doors Open there a few years ago. Many seats are still in place, as is the centre ice scoreboard. Conversion back to a hockey arena is easier to visualize than Loblaws' on-again, off-again plans for a superstore.

Gold Seats
The true art was overhearing the fond memories of the crowd. Parents showed their teens where they sat. Fans bemoaned the Harold Ballard era. Photographers tried to sneak past guards to snap girlfriends sitting in one of the few remaining gold seats. I thought of Dad's tales of watching junior hockey with his grandfather in the 1950s and the tale of my grandmother seeing the first game at the Gardens.

1999 Cougrrr Still Promoted in Maple Leaf Gardens
Advertising from the late 90s was still visible. Access to the the washrooms opened more of the ground floor than Doors Open did, revealing well-preserved team store and reception areas.


The crowds appeared in earnest on Yonge Street. Negotiating room around the crowd? Fuhgeddaboutit. Many were flowing in and out of the park next to College Park to see if any zombies were about. There was a horde but it looked healthy, if a little confused about what was going on.

Lighting the Sam The Record Man Sign for the Last Time (2)
Nuit Blanche also marked the curtain call for the Sam the Record Man sign. The neon landmark was lit for the last time before Ryerson University expands onto the site. Shutterbugs lined Yonge Street to take their final shots. As with Maple Leaf Gardens, nostalgia ruled most of the conversations I overheard.


After a quick glimpse of the blue jello mould in the Eaton Centre, I wandered over to City Hall to check out Stereoscope. The building was transformed into a large pixelboard, which was easier to immortalize with a short video than fuzzy pictures.

The towers were engaged in a Pong match. The upper ramp of City Hall was open, so I wandered up to get a closer look. The views of Nathan Phillips Square and the surrounding buildings were wonderful.

Old City Hall from New City Hall Upper Deck
A lovely view of Old City Hall.

Business Class
The longest stop in the Financial District was Business Class, which allowed participants to enjoy the wonders of modern airline check-in procedures. Picking Memphis as my destination was not a wise one, as it led to a hands-against-the-wall security frisking with a plastic lightsaber.

Around Union Station the effects of the long night were becoming apparent in others. A group of twentysomethings mulling outside the station uttered the strangest soundbite of the evening:

My friend is from Mexico! He needs $3 to get his family out of El Mexicoville!

I won't receive any rebates from the El Mexicoville Rescue Fund on my 2008 tax return.

In the bowels of the station was a long line for Horroridor, two screens of famous movie screams, mostly under gory circumstances. Cut away too early from the melting Nazis in Raiders of the Lost Ark, especially the one that looked like Dad (he was razzed about the resemblance when the movie came out and was one of the reasons he enjoyed it).


On the subway ride up to St. Patrick, two goofs decided to perform a combination of slam dancing and acrobatics using the handrails in the car. One landed squarely on his head around Osgoode. The other passengers glanced for a moment, then resumed whatever they had been doing.


Cinematheque Ontario ran silent comedies all night with live piano accompaniment. Perfect excuse to rest my feet. I arrived in time for the curtain to rise on Max Linder's Seven Years Bad Luck (1921). Unlike half the audience I managed to stay awake, but my energy level wouldn't last long.

Lineup Inside OCAD, 4:25 A.M.
4:25 A.M. and there were still lineups like this one at OCAD.

I finally ran out of steam around 5. The temptation of an Ossington bus was too much to resist. The jetlag will take a few days to work itself out.

Full photo set.