Sunday, January 31, 2010

but did the chopper jump the shark?

Because the only way to teach American children of the late 1970s/early 1980s about good dental exercise is to employ a Fonzie wannabe.


Speaking of Fonzie, while researching a recent Torontoist piece on the early days of CityPulse, I stumbled upon this picture in the Toronto Sun from the episode of Happy Days that inspired the expression "jump the shark" (Wikipedia has a cleaner version of this picture).

Photo originally published in the September 1, 1977 edition of the Toronto Sun. - JB

Friday, January 29, 2010

shopping cart corral wisdom

Other Stores Say They Have Lower Prices...

Your Cart May Be Empty...

During several recent visits to Meijer locations around metro Detroit, I've noticed that the grocery/discount chain is livening up their cart corrals with cheeky posters.

Who would be the most likely grocery chain to take this approach in Toronto?

Photos taken at Meijer on Rochester Road north of M-59, Rochester Hill, MI, January 16, 2010 - JB

an introduction to rahsaan roland kirk

...or at least this clip was my introduction, thanks to Dad's recording of several episodes of Night Music/Sunday Night twenty years ago. I was impressed by someone who played multiple instruments at once while emitting minimal novelty act vibes(even if the concept of a nose flute sounded mildly disgusting).

Though it only aired for two years and Dad only recorded half-a-dozen or so episodes, the series served as a ear-opener for my developing musical tastes (Sun Ra looks weird, sounds great!). The Kirk primer was one of the vintage clips or artist appreciations that were mixed in among live performances—other archival delights ranged from early sound footage of Louis Armstrong to the Yardbirds in concert.

Bonus video: Each episode ended with several guests jamming, which resulted in odd pairings like Conway Twitty and the Residents.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

bonus features: perogies galore!

Before reading this post, check out the original article on Torontoist.

Vintage Ad #1,014: Pierogi Buffet!

"Far be it for anyone to contradict the Pope's chef—but John Lickiewicz did just that." So began an article on the chef of the Sir Nicholas that appeared in the January 27, 1979 edition of the Globe and Mail. The article was prompted by a claim by Tadeusz Podbereski, the proprietor of the only Polish restaurant in Mexico, that it took three days and eight kinds of meat to prepare a batch of bigos (hunter’s stew) for Pope John Paul II the night before. Lickiewicz felt that Podbereski had put too much effort into the Pope’s meal (“I don’t know why it took him three days to cook. What for?”), as bigos could easily be made in a few hours.

Here is Lickiewicz’s recipe for bigos, intended to feed six:
Chop up 3 pounds of fresh cabbage and place in a four-inch baking dish. Cover and put in the over for 40 minutes at 300 degrees.

Remove from the oven and mix with 1½ pounds of sauerkraut, 1½ pounds of sliced Polish sausage and ¼ pound of ham cut into quarter-inch squares. Add two soupspoons of chicken base and return to oven for 40 minutes at same temperature.

While the mixture is cooking, cut ½ pound of bacon into slices and mix with one pound of sliced onions, one soup-spoonful of lard and 2 soupspoons of paprika. Fry until the onions are brown, slowly adding 3 tablespoons of flour while frying.

Stir the cabbage and the bacon mixture together and place in the over at 300 degrees for 10 minutes—“or until it looks done.”

A serving of bigos at Sir Nicholas was accompanied by a side of rice, potatoes, or toasted buckwheat. Though the short prep time produced a dish Lickiewicz was proud of, he admitted bigos tasted better if you left it alone for three days before serving.

Monday, January 25, 2010

vintage mccall's cooking school ad of the day

Vintage Ad #1,009: Now you can feel better about cooking your own goose

The owner of this new gas range is happy, but did anyone stop to ask the goose how it felt?

Source: McCall's Cooking School #8, 1981 - JB

Thursday, January 14, 2010

a victorious tiger

Thinking about my aunt prompted me to search on YouTube for the animated tiger graphic WDIV used for their Tigers broadcasts during the 1980s (she watched the game with Dad and I if one was on).

If the Tigers won, the clip above was used as the broadcast drew to a close. If they lost, a whimpering tiger with an icepack on its head let out a sad meow, followed by a grumble worthy of Muttley/Mumbly. So far, no sign of the losing cartoon online.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

auntie gladys

Funny Business
My grandmother, Auntie Gladys and Aunt Shirley in our dining room on Second Concession (Fryer Street), mid-1970s.

Who knows what mischief lurked behind Auntie Gladys's eyes in this picture, but it looks like a typical example of her amusing everyone else. She loved baseball, enlivening any situation and, as Gavin beautifully summed up in a post he wrote after she passed away on Monday night, "she loved her hugs."


She was always "auntie"—"aunt" was too stuffy for her joyous nature. Mom says I always ran to the door if I knew she was coming in, likely knowing there was fun ahead. Though she didn't have any children of her own, she acted as if her army of nieces and nephews were. Even when I reached university age, I called her from far-flung places to update her on my latest adventure in London or New York.


The last time I saw Auntie Gladys was on Christmas Day. I knew it was a matter of time before she passed on and her shrunken appearance was a shocker, yet I felt less despair than when I visited Dad for the last time. I think the presence of many others who passed through that day helped, as did as her laugh when I clumsily attempted to feed her water. Weak as she was, it showed a hint of the old spunk.

Monday, January 11, 2010

vintage mccall's cooking school ad of the day

Vintage Ad #989: Turn plain hamburger from OK to Ole!

While the seasonings and chemicals in the mix may give this meal a south-of-the-border flair, the photographer has not done this tamale pie any favours in the visual appeal department. The slick, shimmery hamburger mixed with bits of corn resembles the after-effects of a night of hard drinking and/or indigestion.

As one commentator pointed out when I posted this ad on Flickr, it's possible that high-end cookware was used to lend an air of dignity to the slop on the spoon. Could this ad provoke well-off hipsters to prepare a batch of private label Hamburger Helper knockoff in a Le Creuset pan?

There was a time when I was happy to eat ersatz Mexican/Tex-Mex prepackaged food, or any kind of Hamburger Helper apart from stroganoff. The most exotic flavour I liked was Pizza Bake, where the seasoned hamburger was layered onto a crust and topped with cheese. Powdered tomato sauces don't turn me on anymore, but occasionally I crave a cheesy bowl of Tuna Helper. Even then, a box of No Name spirals mixed with chunks of tuna and a dash of hot pepper sauce satisfies the need.

Source: McCall's Cooking School #8, 1981 - JB

if you knew bixi like I knew bixi...

Row of Bicycles

According to Spacing's twitter feed, a Bixi bicycle with a City of Toronto logo was spotted in the mayor's office last week.

Bixi Bicycles

While visiting Montreal in November, Sarah and I almost tested out the city's Bixi system—fears about any mishap with the required $250 credit card deposit per bike gave us pause. Racks were plentiful downtown, with many running low on vehicles. If a system is ever implemented in Toronto, it would be useful for occasional riders, those with no space at home for a bike, or commuters who take TTC one way due to bad weather and bike the other. I could see myself using it for impulsive rides (scenario: we are on a leisurely stroll downtown and are overtaken by the urge to hop on a bike). It would also be ideal for visiting family and friends who might want to go for a ride along city trails and around the islands.

While researching this post, I noticed a familiar figure standing next to the Bixi pay machine in the Wikipedia entry about the system. Never quite know where your photos will wind up after slapping on a Creative Commons license—the Wiki author also thought she was a shining star.

Photos taken in Montreal, November 7, 2009 - JB

Friday, January 08, 2010

election graphics we won't get to use department


Timing is everything.

For weeks, local media has mused on whether John Tory would enter the race to replace David Miller as Toronto's mayor in this year's municipal elections. As late as Tuesday, the Globe and Mail's Marcus Gee was confident Tory would join the fray.

Yesterday I posted on Twitter that it was surprising no media outlet had devised a graphic to measure Tory's level of certainty about running. I imagined what a "Tory-o-meter" might look like and wrote it down on my lengthy list of things to do. Murmurs surfaced the night before about his decision not to run, but I figured it was more speculation.

Within ten minutes of posting, reports surfaced that Tory wasn't going to run, opting to chair the Toronto City Summit Alliance. Given Tory's crash-and-burn electoral track record, this was likely the right decision—we'll see how he does in the realm of civic advocacy.

Still, I couldn't let the idea die, so here's a quick rendering of a Tory-o-meter. Who among the remaining undeclared candidates is most worthy of a similar device? - JB

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

random notes (boxing day edition)

Steamed Bok Choy

Better delayed than never...

Boxing Day 2009 started with a tradition Amy and I have followed for several years, dim sum at Wah Court in Windsor. We had barely sat down before making our first choice off the trays. I wasn’t sure if Sarah would enjoy her favourite dim sum accompaniment, steamed bok choy (the closest item on the online menu was “fresh vegetable with oyster sauce”), but not only was she able to order a plate without any fuss, she received her favourite sweet soy dipping sauce without having to give a thorough explanation of what it was. Amy and I thought the rest of our dishes tasted better than usual, especially the sticky rice.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

it's 1970...let's take a look

Vintage Ad #995: It's 1970 Let's Take a Look

(larger version and even larger version)

This year-end ad from Eaton's offers an interesting mix of naive optimism and glimmers of dread for the world that lay ahead for its customers as the 1970s beckoned (though purists will note this ad should have been published the following year). The image of Earth derived from the lunar landing provides an appropriate backdrop for the Eaton management to discuss issues of global importance. Imagine the cynical reaction if Wal-Mart had published a similar ad last week.

One prediction that was on target: the downbeat description of dirty beaches resembles the Lake Erie swimming spots I enjoyed at the end of the 1970s. As for the others, if only some of our current political leaders read the section on responsibility—the Harper government seems to like operating like an invisible, fog-shrouded machine.

Source: The Toronto Star, December 31, 1969 - JB

Monday, January 04, 2010

vintage christian life ad of the day

Vintage Ad #952: Happy Again and other Merrill Womach records

Warning: pictures after the jump may disturb readers who don't want to see humans who resemble campfire treats.