Wednesday, December 31, 2008

vintage marvel super-heroes ad of the day

Vintage Ad #618: Grit '73
Source: Marvel Super-Heroes #34, January 1973.

No geeky newsboys for Grit as the 1972 holiday season neared, just a parade of prizes in green and red. Perhaps the paper hoped the colour scheme would appeal down-on-their-luck or tight-allowanced readers desperate for money or economic gifts to give at Christmas?

But wait, isn't this comic book dated January? Wouldn't the holiday season have been winding down to a close or over by the time this issue hit the stands? Nope. Since comic books were dated two to three months after they hit the newsstands, the January 1973 Marvel lineup would have hit newsstands closer to Halloween than Christmas. Wikipedia provides a brief explanation.


Originally published in Tales to Astonish #79 (May 1966), The Titan and the Torment! (story: Stan Lee, art: Bill Everett over Jack Kirby layouts) picks up where our previous look at ol' Jadejaws left off. Konrad Zaxon (evil!) aims his "Organic Energy Attractor" at the Hulk with the hope that once our misunderstood hero is dispatched, nothing will stand in the way of world conquest!

Poor Zaxon never had a chance, his battle with the Hulk akin to the swordsman sequence in Raiders of the Lost Ark. Dying accidentally from your own invention on page two is not a pretty way for a potential world overlord to go. Checking Zaxon's online profile reveals that he hasn't been seen since 1966. It also raises questions about the Hulk's skill as a medical examiner.

As for the rest of the story: army chases Hulk, Hulk decides ripping rails from a desert train lines provides him with weapons, oncoming train happens to have Hercules as a passenger, mayhem and wonderful sound effects (RUMPPH! KRAK! BAR-OOOM!) ensue.

Originally presented on my defunct comic book ad site on December 31, 2008 - JB

Monday, December 22, 2008

wexford or bust

How Many Eggs and Oranges?
Awhile back, I floated roadtrip out to Scarborough among some friends, based on a walk along Lawrence Avenue that a few had done several years ago. One element from that trek occasionally surfaced during conversations about Scarborough: an image of a stern-looking man used on the sign for The Kirks, a side lounge for the venerable Wexford Restaurant.

This required investigation.

54 East
Rexall Living Room
Before eating, we checked out 54 East. Located in a former drug store, the space is part local history centre, part gallery. The main exhibit spotlighted the musical heritage of Scarborough. Thousands of records were pressed in the area, some on labels whose names derived from the neighbourhood (e.g. Birchmount, one of Quality's subsidiaries).

Oh, Canadiana!
Most of these albums passed through my family over the years (this copy of Lightfoot! looks much healthier than mine...).

Eggs and Oranges A Few Eggs Ago...
Breakfast All Day at the Wexford Restaurant
This year marked the 50th anniversary of the first cracked eggs and squeezed orange at the Wexford. The walls celebrate its connections to the community, through mock street signs and historic images. The 1960s-70s era family restaurant decor and a sticker at our table touting the rice pudding quickly comforted us. I was reminded of a recent breakfast experience I had with Amy at The Lumberjack in Windsor, though the Wexford's surroundings weren't quite as rustic. Not the type of place to go to for culinary wizardry, just good comfort food that has kept customers satisfied for eons.

As for what we ate...

French Toast and a Side of Home Fries
Alison - french toast and a side home fries. She determined it was the best french toast she had ever sampled.

Back Bacon and Eggs
Dylan - back bacon and eggs.

Sausage and One Egg
Nadia - sausage and one egg, with a dash of pepper.

Ham and Eggs
Me - ham and eggs.

The Wexford was pricey for greasy spoon fare (our dishes hovered around the $10 mark), but was worth the cost taste-wise—we left with happy stomachs. Fresh orange juice helped wash everything down. The coffee cups disagreed on how many eggs had been cracked or oranges squeezed.

From Greece to Wexford
Nearby, a pair of murals celebrated the journeys of immigrants to Wexford, utilizing subway map-style graphics.

Strip malls rule Lawrence around Wexford, most anchored by grocery stores offering tastes of cuisines ranging from Caribbean to Korean. Middle Eastern food stores dominate, with Nasr Foods and Arz Fine Foods the largest of the lot. We checked out a couple of stores, sampling sweets that may provide an excuse for a return trip.

Ring Road Plaza
On our way out to the Steeles/Middlefield branch of T&T, Dylan caught a glimpse of a semi-circular plaza at Lawrence and Markham Road. We investigated Ring Road Plaza and discovered goodies like Monkey Brand black tooth powder.

Ring Road Plaza Mosaic Hardware
Design elements included mosaics near the grocery store and hanging signs that appeared to have greeted customers for decades.

All photos taken November 22, 2008

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

don't go home without it!


Don't Go Home Without It
American Express used to remind customers "don't leave home without it." At Donlands and O'Connor, Paan-O-Rama puts its own spin on the old credit card slogan.

Bonus feature: Stephen King, American Express pitchman.

Photo taken December 4, 2008

Friday, December 12, 2008


Back in the early 1990s, I regularly taped the Friday "Viewer Mail" segment of Late Night With David Letterman and any skits that followed. One segment Amy and I continue to quote from is a showcase of odd-but-real video tapes. Archaeological expeditions through the valley of YouTube have unearthed several of the videos that Dave took potshots at, but evidence of others remains lost to time, unless the tape this segment was preserved on is found.

Among the highlights:

  • A tape for pipe smokers, where the host extols the virtues of the "brotherhood of the briar". A smoker passes by, prompting the host to greet him with "Hi Bob, nice pipe!"

  • T-Bone's World of Clowning, an introduction to the art. A man tells T-Bone that he'd like to know more about clowning. The clown's response, uttered in a stilted, wow-can't-you-tell-I'm-not-reading-cue-cards-manner: "Really? Acrobatics is a skill I really enjoy! Let's make a deal!" (to which Letterman notes "yeah, they're pipe smokers.") While the exact clip doesn't appear to be available on the web, the video above looks as if it may come from the same source.

  • An anti-smoking program where Larry Hagman reveals the mini-pocket fan he carries to blow offensive smoke away and provide smokers with a brief burst of cool air (Letterman: "I have an even bigger fan to keep Larry Hagman away").

  • An exercise program based on the art of juggling. Cue a hefty dude in grey sweatshirt, valkyrie wig and heavy rouge semi-operatically extolling the audience to "juggle your way to health and beauty/juggle your way to beauty and health." Letterman compares the juggler's beauty to Madonna.
  • Omar Sharif provides tips on how to play bridge. "Now through the electronic miracle of video cassettes, you will be my partner" (to which Letterman responded "now through the miracle of the eject button"). My grandmother was a bridge enthusiast, which earned her the most media exposure in the family in the late 1980s when the results of her weekly bridge club were printed in the local paper.

  • Willard Scott demonstrates the fine art of toenail clipping for The Farmers' Almanac.
  • The piece-de-resistance, the video that never fails to make either of us roll on the floor, is a segment from a parenting guide called It's Potty Time. Two over-enthusiastic parents sing about their "super-duper pooper" of a daughter, accompanied by a marching miniature man who may have failed an audition for Harold Hill in The Music Man.

    The producers had the best of intentions for making a useful toilet-training video...but a musical ode to learning how to poop is going to come off as bizarre under any circumstances. Besides, a mini angel/guide/clown/peeping tom that comments and makes rhymes about excrement? Creepy.

    I think I'd rather have my child trained by Mr. Hankey.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

bonus features: come be pampered


Like DVDs of motion pictures, sometimes posts I write for other web sites merit bonus features. Before browsing this entry, read "Vintage Toronto Ads: Come Be Pampered", posted on Torontoist on Nov 25/08.

Vintage Ad#669: House of Fuji-Matsu
Sources: The Toronto Star, February 29, 1956 (left), The Toronto Star, February 23, 1956 (right)

A pair of ads for Toronto's first Japanese restaurant, the House of Fuji-Matsu (operated 1955 to c. 1958-59). Based on the ads I've unearthed, the house specialty was sukiyaki, the Japanese dish most often found in mid-century cookbooks whenever the editors wanted to present something slightly exotic. My lone experience eating sukiyaki came at one of the cheap sushi joints in The Annex and I wasn't that enthralled—maybe it was the runny egg that didn't mix well with the other ingredients.

Vintage Ad #670: Tanaka '87
Source: The Toronto Star, February 6, 1987

The last trace I found of Tanaka of Tokyo while digging through the local newspaper archives was an ad included among other restaurants pitching themselves to lovebirds for Valentine's Day in 1987. At least they spelled "Tokyo" correctly in this one.

Tanaka appears to be have remained on Bay until 1990, then spent its final year of operation on King Street in the Entertainment District...where my sister dined on her grade 8 class trip to Toronto. She remembers little about the meal other than the name.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

beware the kiosk people

Labelscar has a nifty piece on one of the annoyances of the modern shopping mall experience: obnoxious kiosk salespeople. You know the type: usually selling skin cream or cell phone accessories from a cart in the middle of the corridor, using every attention-grabbing tactic possible to make innocent shoppers test their wares. The "grab" can be literal, as family members have learned - I have seen Amy take as wide a walk as possible to dodge skin cream sellers reaching out to her at Oakland Mall in suburban Detroit.

Of the five types of obnoxious kiosk listed in the article, the only "the blanket people" haven't attempted to lure me in. Being asked to feel a blanket out of the blue has potential for creepiness—I imagine a "Sprockets"-style sales pitch:

BLANKET PERSON: Hi there, wanna touch my blanket?
INNOCENT SHOPPER: (mumbles) Pervert...

As for being chased by a salesperson, that hasn't happened to me yet. The last time anyone followed me in hot pursuit on foot in the US was back in high school, when a panhandler in Ann Arbor was so determined to receive spare change from me that he kept at it for a block-and-a-half on Liberty Street. His belligerent tone made it seem like he wanted more than a handful of coins, so I walked faster, then ran out into traffic to cross the street, which finally shook him off.


Ever wondered who owns the Danforth?

Who Owns the Danforth?
Question answered.


This week's Vintage Toronto Ad: Two guys named Ted Rogers. - JB