Saturday, July 31, 2010

random notes

While shopping at St. Lawrence Market early this afternoon, the front page of the Toronto Sun caught my eye. The Summerworks theatre festival was the target of their trademark sensationalism-in-the-name-of-showing-easily-outraged-taxpayers-where-their-money-is-being-wasted-today. Seems one of the plays takes a sympathetic view toward a convicted member of the Toronto 18. Cue outrage from politicians and lobby groups sympathetic to the paper's editorial tilt. Talk about lazy: of course if you ask the Canadian Taxpayers Federation what they think of funding anything vaguely artistic or fun, the answer is going to be no. Too predictable, too pat, too much of a reconfirmation of the views of the paper's readership.

And the play hasn't even opened yet.

Summerworks's blog has responded.


Speaking of the Sun, amid some research I've done through its back pages lately and a recent find at Value Village, there will be upcoming posts devoted to oddball discoveries in its pages. Hint: the weekend funny pages.


Haruki's Temporary Home

One week in and I think Sarah's "sweet beastie" Haruki is starting to settle into his new surroundings. After a couple of rough nights earlier this week, Sarah put out a box of towels, hoping that a reminder of his old home might help with the transition. So far, they aren't working too badly...

This is going to be an interesting experience, considering that this is the first time in my third-of-a-century on Earth that I have lived with a pet. Given my oft-strained relations with the rest of the animal kingdom, perhaps this will turn out to be a mellowing experience...once Haruki ceases to be afraid of me.

Friday, July 30, 2010

the ever-inventive nancy finds a cure for the neighbourhood mosquito infestation

All was going well until, distracted by further questioning from Sluggo, Nancy accidentally opened her eyes...

Strip originally published August 5, 1953. Nancy © United Media - JB

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

elizabeth street scene, 1934

Photograph by Alfred Pearson. City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 16, Series 71, Item 10091.

According to the City of Toronto Archives, these pictures show a "traffic tie up on Elizabeth Street south of Dundas with truck having lost a rear wheel parked on tracks on Elizabeth Street delaying a Peter Witt streetcar on the Dundas route" on January 10, 1934.

Photograph by Alfred Pearson. City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 16, Series 71, Item 10092.

This incident may not have made it into the day’s papers, but Elizabeth Street figured in two stories in the following day’s edition of the Star. A front page headline noted that “GAMBLING DENS THRIVE IN CITY HALL’S SHADOW OPEN TO ALL COMERS.” An undercover reporter, “who had never placed a bet or risked a nickel in any public gambling house,” visited three bookie joints within three blocks of (Old) City Hall. Among those stops was “a rendezvous on Elizabeth Street” that was “known to the sophisticated. The reported wasn’t asked any questions by the doorman as he passed through a set of swinging doors into a dimly-lit room where wagering over cards and horse races moved at pace “that only experts could keep track of.” The venue, referred to as “Joe’s Place,” was staffed by four men: “Joe,” who kept his ear on the telephone for race results and handed out money to lucky bettors; “Slim,” who took the money and looked after the book; a blackjack dealer; and “a prosperous-looking Chinese who hovered in the background and put in a word now and again to keep things running smoothly.” The reporter had mixed luck in the smoky room—a horse bet turned a profit, while a lucky streak at blackjack quickly turned sour.

The other reference to Elizabeth Street was found in the “Shopping with Estelle” column, where thrifty consumers were notified that Goodman’s at the corner of Elizabeth and Dundas was having a liquidation sale. Noted as one of the oldest stores in the Ward neighbourhood, Estelle wrote that “Goodman’s have so long been identified with this romantic district that they need no introduction from me,” which is the first time I have ever seen the Ward described as “romantic.” Estelle recommended picking up new dress arrivals from New York ($5.95 each), which were “the sort of dress you will wear, with a certain swagger to your bridge club or out to dinner.”

Additional material from the January 11, 1934 edition of the Toronto Star. - JB

Monday, July 26, 2010

vintage maclean's ad of the day

Vintage Ad #1,166: Would You Trust This Salesman?

Potential lines delivered by this slightly-creepy salesman:

"Hey baby, wanna check out my luminar?"
"I like my ladies pencil-thin, like my mustache."
"I've got 500 lines of picture clarity ready for your viewing pleasure."

If you know one or four hundred and ninety-seven additional bad pickup (or sales pitch) lines this lovely fellow would have delivered to unsuspecting customers and dates, let us know.

Warehouse management notes that we're knackered after a busy week and that we gave in to the lure of cheesy humour that this ad's headline begs for. Any complaints can be directed to the offical Warehouse decency monitor, Sam Eagle.

Source: Maclean's, February 7, 1987 - JB

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

count yourself in for the census

Vintage Ad #1,163: June 1 is Census Day
(click onto image for larger version)

Another case of accidentally stumbling upon an old ad or newspaper story that relates to a current headline story. Our wonderful, forward-thinking federal government has decided that the mandatory filling out of a full census form is a horrifying violation of personal privacy, despite the wealth of useful information derived from such surveys for eons. Defenders of the government's actions are emerging from the usual quarters: the Fraser Institute and the Toronto Sun.

Could it be that the evil-looking kid on the left grew up to be a Conservative advisor and remembered the separation anxiety when their father took too much time away from them to complete the census?

Pro-mandatory long form census editorials from Toronto newspapers:
Globe and Mail
National Post
Toronto Star

Source: The Telegram, May 21, 1971 - JB

Thursday, July 15, 2010

photo du jour


Wandering through Kensington Market earlier this month, I noticed a recent installation at the north end of Augusta Avenue to welcome visitors to the neighbourhood.

Photo taken July 2010 - JB

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

vintage detective comics ad of the day

Vintage Ad #1,155: A Tube of Cube Lube

Given the other uses listed for Cube Lube, we wonder if anyone who sent away for a tube of it instead of heading to the neighbourhood hardware store to buy regular lube was a rube.

(Sorry, we had to follow the rhyming pattern).

Who knows, Cube Lube might have helped me solve the puzzle more than once. A Rubik's Cube still lies in a junk drawer at my Mom's place—have thirty years improved my solution skills? I recall watching other kids having more success solving them on the bus and in the schoolyard than I ever did. There was always at least one square that refused to find its mates. The temptation to swap stickers was constant, and it was easy to tell which kids had cheated by the scruffy condition of their cubes. I may have (slightly) chipped a tooth on a Rubik's Cube, though I don't remember if it was due to clumsiness or if another kid decided that the cube and my mouth required intimate contact.

Source: Detective Comics #515, June 1982 - JB

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

bonus features: my dinner with chewbacca

sun 77-12-02 dinner with wookie winners

Here are winners of the Toronto Sun's contest to have dinner with a wookiee, as presented in the December 2, 1977 edition of TO's daily tabloid.

sun 77-12-02 wookie sylvia train

From the same edition, columnist Sylvia Train compares her size to Mayhew's. As she succinctly put it, he was "really big." Special note was note was made that "though he is large he's perfectly proportioned," so that readers wouldn't worry about the man suffering from any size-related physical deformities (who wanted to talk acromegaly or other disorders in a fluffy entertainment column?). - JB