Friday, July 31, 2009

vintage the face ad of the day

Vintage Ad #862: Choices from the Boots Tape Centre

Ferric, chrome or metal: which style of tape will you pick up from the chemist shop?

Except for the Boots tape, I used all of these brands during my mix-tape/Nightlines-recording days. I learned the quirks of which brands my recorders liked and which were problematic—certain styles of Memorex tapes were to be avoided, unless I enjoyed excessive squealing or shifting speeds. Some brands carry associations—Scotch was tapped for school presentations, Acme or Mastercraft for childhood experimental improvisations, BASF for the mass quantities Dad bought to record half of CBC Stereo/Radio 2's lineup. While I left nearly all of my pre-recorded cassettes by the curb before my last move, most of the mix tapes I made in high school and early university still exist, though it's been eons since I've listened to any of them. Though now that I'm about to undertake heavy-duty housecleaning...

Flipping through an unfinished attempt to index the mix tapes, here's a good example of a radio-derived masterwork from around 1993. Based on the set list, the primary sources included 89X in Windsor and Nightlines...a guilty pleasure weekend on Nightlines is evident at the end of side one and start of side two.

Real Cool World - David Bowie
Canadian Railway Trilogy - Gordon Lightfoot
The Weight - The Band
Rise - Public Image Ltd.
London Calling - Clash
Making It Work - Doug & The Slugs
Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep - Mac & Katie Kissoon
I Was Kaiser Bill's Batman - Whistling Jack Smith*
Little Arrows - Leapy Lee
Both Sides Now - Leonard Nimoy
That's Amore - Dean Martin

Boobs A Lot - The Fugs
Desiderata - Les Crane**
Nova Scotia Farewell - Ian & Sylvia
Yakety Sax - Boots Randolph
Wichita Lineman - Glen Campbell
I Was Made To Love Her - Stevie Wonder
She's A Beauty - The Tubes
Burning Down The House - Talking Heads
Would - Alice in Chains
Psychedelic Shack - The Temptations
She Loved Me - Rising Storm
So Long Sucker - Mr. T. Experience

* I mainly recorded this song for its use by a Toledo car dealer for years ("be a Kistler Whistler").

** The notes indicate this was a clip...I imagine I couldn't make it through the whole song.

Source: The Face #15, January 1981 - JB

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

if you knew sayvette a little better, you'd like it a lot more: bonus features

Before reading this post, check out the related installment of Historicist.

Vintage Ad #871: Sayvette Opening September 7th

The first full-page ad to announce the arrival of Sayvette at Thorncliffe Market Place (now East York Town Centre), from the August 30, 1961 edition of the Toronto Star. When the store was built, it was determined that all of the space in the basement would not be required by Sayvette. The unnecessary space was converted to a bowling alley, which still operates underneath the present-day Zellers store (and has been seen a few times on this site...).

Vintage Ad #873: Easter Savings Sale at Sayvette, 1974

A typical example of the chain's advertising from the mid-70s (Toronto Star, April 9, 1974), after a new logo and slogan were introduced. Loblaws introduced its current logo and font in 1973, with its divisions following suit over the next year. The Windsor location had a short run, operating from the opening of Tecumseh Mall in 1973 until it was included in the chain's second round of closures in 1975. The location was a Zellers during my childhood, though even then it stood out for not resembling any other Zellers in the area—darker, brown-dominated areas in the clothing sections, 1970s-styled orange stripes and chunky fonts by the escalators (which I rushed up to get to the toy section), etc. The only trace we had at home of its days as Sayvette were boxes of Christmas ornaments with the price stickers still attached. The space is now occupied by Dollarama and Good Life Fitness.

Vintage Ad #874: Sayvette Pink Elephant Sale, 1973

You'll have to click on this ad (Toronto Star, February 21, 1973) to see Sayvette's copy writers testing out their funny bones. A far cry from the elegant image the chain tried to establish when it began. The chain also had a habit of apologizing for its foul-ups, be it poor buying decisions or lousy customer service.

Maybe Sayvette should have done what parent Loblaws did to help revive its sales in the mid-1970s: add a little touch of Shatner.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

tape from california 9: wine and peanuts

Valley of the Moon Scenic Route

Once across the Golden Gate Bridge, I had a decision to make: head west to return to the Pacific Coast, or head inland and take a leisurely drive through Sonoma County? Figuring I had enough time to dawdle before spending the night in Ukiah, I took the wine country option, via the Valley of the Moon scenic route.

Sonoma Town Hall

The town hall in Sonoma. One of the most postcard-worthy shots from the entire trip.

Directions to Sonoma Wineries

I decided to limit myself to one round of wine tasting, so that I could continue to operate a boat-sized motor vehicle the rest of the day. Having done little background reading, and faced with no shortage of choices, I decided I would stop at the first winery with a significant number of cars in its parking lot.

The winner: B.R. Cohn.

B.R. Cohn Winery (6) - Tasting Room

Sampling was straightforward—$10 for any four wines, with the price waived if you bought a bottle. After trying both ends of the price scale, I settled upon a chardonnay.

Since there were as many olive oils, vinegars, and other food products for sampling and sale as grape-based beverages, I decided I could stop at other wineries to pick up tasty treats for the family without sampling any more vino.

Chateau St. Jean Winery (1)

Next stop was Chateau St. Jean. Walked out with a bottle of blood orange wine vinegar.

Ledson Winery (2) Ledson Winery Sandwich Menu
Ledson Winery - Build-Your-Own Sandwich (1)

By this point, all the sampling had built up my appetite. I had noticed several wineries included delis and picnic areas for visitors, so eating at one seemed a reasonable option. I ate at Ledson Winery, who offered a variety of giant sandwiches. I went with the build-your-own option, piling on ingredient after ingredient. Dagwood Bumstead would have been proud of my creation—turkey, salami, pastrami, provolone, pesto, lettuce, tomato, pepperoncini, roasted red peppers and pickles. One oddity: San Pellegrino sodas were significantly cheaper than a can of Diet Pepsi. I felt slightly alone in the picnic area, as every other table held families, friends out on a daytrip or loving couples.

Tile Mural (2)

From one interest (food) to another (comics)...I stopped by the Charles M. Schulz Museum and Research Center in Santa Rosa. One of the few exhibits that could be photographed was a mural composed of nearly 3,600 daily Peanuts panels.

Under Construction Brown

Outside the museum was a sculpture garden that included birds working on a Charlie Brown statue and a Linus with a crossword puzzle on his belly.

Redwood Empire Ice Arena (1)

Across the road was one of Schulz's proudest accomplishments, an ice arena he built in 1969. The front area includes statues of Peanuts characters in hockey gear.

Lake Sonoma

Roaming on back roads between Santa Rosa and Ukiah, I accidentally wound up at Lake Sonoma, where I came upon this spectacular view...

Smokey the Bear's Fire Danger Report

...and advice from Smokey the Bear on the odds of running into a wildfire.

The Start of an Earthy Oco
Earthy Oco

Dinner was at Oco Time, a "California Japanese" spot in Ukiah. The hosue specialty were ocos, a variation on Japanese okonomiyaki. I downed an Earthy Oco, which contained sliced cabbage, bean sprouts, green onion, organic egg, Japanese ramen noodles, mushroom, sesame seed and the mysterious-yet-tasty "vegetable-based Oco Sauce." I watched as it was assembled layer by layer on the grill in front of me (and drooled over some of the sushi prepared for others). Unlike okonomiyaki I've had in Toronto, in this version the pancake batter was a thin layer on the bottom, with the other ingredients layered on top. I was given a chisel-like instrument to cut the oco, which made the meal that much more fun.

After waddling out, I wandered around downtown Ukiah. I resisted the temptation to wander into the fully-open community radio station and hijack the airwaves. Another time...

Full set of pictures. All photos taken May 23, 2009. - JB

Sunday, July 19, 2009

number thirty-four

Nanaimo Bars for #34

After the Candle Blowing

Pictures of birthday nanaimo bars (before and after candle-blowing) taken July 15, 2009 - JB

Friday, July 17, 2009

vintage chatelaine ad of the day

Vintage Ad #847: A Crop of Healthy Alternatives to Go With Kraft Dressings

I usually post vendor-derived recipes and food advertisements where one wonders if the people in the test kitchen had their taste buds surgically removed. Today's dish is far more appealing, with its only drawback being your prejudices towards Kraft dressings (though note that no dressing has touched the salad yet, unless there's an imperceptible coating of oil and vinegar).

These are the Kraft bottle designs I remember from childhood, especially the gondolier used for Italian—mamma mia! Of the others pictured, Catalina, Golden Caesar and Thousand Island appeared most frequently on the table. I dimly recall cameo appearances by French and Roka (blue cheese), unless I'm simply remembering seeing the bottles in store. My favourite childhood salad dressing wasn't Kraft—mix a Catalina-style dressing and bacon bits and you had Henri's Bacon and Tomato, which we stocked up on during runs across the border. Toss this with my preferred salad of iceberg and celery and you had one happy kid.

Source: Chatelaine, August 1975

Thursday, July 16, 2009

the adventures of sydney newman: bonus features

Before reading this post, check out the related installment of Historicist.


Sydney Newman, 1963. BBC Archive

Some weeks I scramble to come up with enough material to fill out a topic I've chosen for Historicist, others I compile enough to write a book. The Sydney Newman post falls into the latter category, as I left a lot on the cutting room floor.


One person who wasn't a fan of Newman's powers as CBC's supervising producer of drama during the mid-1950s was Toronto Star television columnist Gordon Sinclair, who, in a January 13, 1955 column, attacked Newman for not producing enough Canadian-written dramas. "Could it be that supervising producer Sydney Newman has too much authority and too little Canadianism? Is this man, nice guy as he is, a Caesar who can accept or reject without argument?” Sinclair noted that Newman had originally been hired by CBC to produce remote broadcasts and wasn't sure how he qualified for his current position. “He is a sincere, conscientious person," wrote Sinclair, "but his only drama background consists of painting the sets for a few productions.” The columnist would have preferred either a CBC veteran like Andrew Allan as overseer, or a decentralized system where each series would have its own producer. By June 1956, Sinclair was happy to pass on news from Newman that 44% of the scripts featured on General Motors Theatre were Canadian (original or adapted).


While working for the BBC, Newman was constantly on the prowl for new writing talent. An article in the March 1, 1966 edition of the Globe and Mail spotlighted one call for fresh talent. His views on the state of drama programming and the quality of writers out there testify to the colourful language he was known for:
Too many drama programs don’t stimulate, provide and excite the imagination. We are too content with evolving a formula for a series, with two or three attractive characters dangling like carrots, leading the donkey public from week to week...the writer is the doesn’t matter if he is a slob, a wife-beater and an uneducated oaf, if he has an ear for dialogue and a feeling for characterization...the fault (with modern British dram) to a large extent lies with the shortage of good, audience-hungry writers.


In a July 28, 1979 column for the Star, Robert Fulford provided a taste of what it was like to be around Newman, by then an advisor to the Canadian Film Development Corporation. “The young filmmakers he advises are grateful to have someone so knowledgeable to help them, but at the same time they learn quite early in any meeting that if he thinks their project is nonsense he’ll tell them so, bluntly.” This bluntness extended to personal situations—Newman could be abrupt if a conversation bored him. Fulford related a conversation with Newman and one other, where Fulford discussed the need for a Canadian film museum. Newman turned to the other guest and asked "can we make notes while he talks?"

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

tales of an nhl rookie

Make Some Noise

Growing up, the only professional sporting events I went to were major league baseball games. The closest I ever came to seeing an NHL match was the occasional oldtimers game that passed through Amherstburg, where Dad was happy to see the odd player he remembered watching as a kid and roll off the story of how he wound up using a pair of Alex Delvecchio's skates while playing rec games in Leaside in the late 1960s (another player snatched them from a practice, the skates made the rounds of whoever had the same size feet as the Red Wings hall-of-famer). These stories amused me, since the only evidence I ever had of Dad on skates was a faded photograph or two—I don't remember him strapping on a pair during my lifetime.

More Warmups

Factors that prevented us from ever going to a Red Wings game? My guesses would be cost, quality of the team (the franchise underwent the transition from the "Dead Things" to contender during my childhood) and possibly my never making a fuss about going to a game. The cost factor definitely explains why I never saw a Leafs game during my first decade in Toronto, along with a declining interest in the game.

Zamboni Time

One afternoon in mid-February, I was working away at the office when an email popped up from the staff association. Thanks to a random draw, I was the lucky recipient of two tickets to see the Leafs take on one of the worst teams in the league, the New York Islanders. One email to my then-new partner-in-crime and everything was set for my NHL debut on March 10.

Cuban Sandwich

Due to time, we ate at the Air Canada Centre. Food prices and selection weren't as bad as we expected. Sarah tried the Cuban sandwich shown above, which proved to be a decent mix of pork products (pulled pork, ham, etc).

Pro Line Puck

Nothing says intermission fun than a girl dressed as a lottery-sponsored puck.

Game Over

The game itself wasn't a thrilling match, given the quality of the teams on the ice. We were more interested in observing the crowd around us, though time has faded my memories. The game went into a short overtime period—The Leafs won when Mikhail Grabovski scored a goal fifty seconds in.

Would I go again? Sure, if someone else is paying for the well-positioned seats we had (I couldn't see myself paying the triple-digit figure printed on the ticket).

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

fringe time (and food)

Two more reviews from me as part of Torontoist's Fringe coverage: Tim Buck 2 and A Singularity of Being. The latter review also appears to be the first post I've written that I've noticed a link for on the Globe and Mail's Toronto page (pictured left). The review link shares space with three CUPE strike related pieces: a Marcus Gee column arguing city councillors deserve more pay, a list of reasons why most Torontonians haven't blown a gasket yet over the strike, and random strike survival tips.


Spending several days in a row attending Fringe shows has provided an opportunity to slip in chances to try out dining spots within walking distance of the venues that I've been meaning to get around to. Case in point: while walking from the Tarragon to Factory on Saturday, I detoured through Little Italy to grab a bite at Caplansky's Delicatessen. I ordered the special ($12), consisting of slaw, fries, pickle and a small smoked meat sandwich. I loved the smokiness of the meat, which had the pink hue of typical smoked meat but tasted much like a southern-style brisket sans barbecue sauce. The deli currently operates as a concession on the upper floor of the Monarch Tavern—I found the atmosphere relaxing, the sort of worn but comfortable spot I liked in university.

Friday, July 03, 2009

tape from california 8: two sides of the bay

Community Thrift Store, Valencia Street

I left the Mission via Valencia Street, stopping into book stores with comfy couches to rest my feet. The blinding facade of the thrift store shown above drew me in...and I walked out with 1960s issues of The Atlantic, Harper's and Ramparts.

Powell-Mason Cable Car

It was inevitable I'd wind up taking a trip on a cable car. Since my feet were aching, I sat on the inside, which reduced the number of photo ops. C'est la vie.


Graduates Posing

Day three took me to Berkeley, where I arrived in the midst of graduation ceremonies. The campus and downtown were filled with students wandering around in gowns and mortarboards. One set of scholars made repeated attempts to capture their joy mid-air—I couldn't tell if the photographer wanted a pile of shots to work with or if the perfect ledge jump was proving elusive.

Globe and Mail on Display in Berkeley

Outside the Free Speech Movement Cafe, I was able to check out what was happening back home. The Globe and Mail was among that day's front pages on display. Until that moment, I had failed to notice the symptoms of Christie Blatchford withdrawal.

Moe's Elevator

CD binge in Los Angeles. DVD binge in San Francisco. Book binge in Berkeley. I developed a muscle or two thanks to the volume of books I purchased at Moe's and Half Price Books. Moe's promise of "four floors of books" was like a spider drawing in a fly.

Amoeba Berkeley Window (3)

Ah, the interesting people you encounter in university towns...

One element that stood out in Berkeley: panhandlers. While I had noticed next-to-none in San Francisco, I could have bankrupted myself across the bay. Are university students more generous, is a cultural thing, or does San Francisco have harsher laws?

Cha-Ya Japanese Cuisine (4) - Dengaku

After roaming up and down Shattuck Avenue a couple of times, I settled upon Cha-Ya for dinner (before anything asks, I considered splurging at Chez Panisse, but (a) couldn't motivate myself to make a reservation before leaving TO, and (b) the place was crawling with grads and their families). Specializing in vegan Japanese cuisine, they offered a wide variety of combination meals. Part one of my choice was the Dengaku Plate, consisting of broiled eggplant, tofu, and Portobello mushroom with a miso-paste glaze. My only complaint was that I could have downed more portobellos.

Cha-Ya Japanese Cuisine (5) - Cha-Ya Sushi Plate

Part two was the Cha-Ya Sushi Plate, consisting of a kappa (cucumber) roll and one nigiri each of shiitake, eggplant, and sea vegetable salad.

I'm an Awesome Part of Berkeley

Why do I cringe when educational institutions erect banners like these?

View from North End of Golden Gate Bridge (2)

I left the Bay Area via the Golden Gate Bridge. Driving into San Francisco wasn't as chaotic as I feared, except for finding myself in the wrong lane when the freeway portion of US 101 ended (cue several loops around the north end of Mission). I stopped at the observation area on the north side of the bridge to snap photos and noticed many others angling themselves to capture themselves in front of the misty landmark.

The Inevitable Self-Portrait With the Golden Gate Bridge in the Background

Oh hell, if everybody else was doing it...

Full set of pictures. All photos taken May 21-23, 2009 - JB