Thursday, September 30, 2010

vintage woman's day ad of the day

Vintage Ad #1,219: Try This on Your Tribe!

If nothing else with spark you about Rosy Chicken Soup with crackers, the sodium will. We imagine this recipe was conceived under the following conditions:

Fred was a Nabisco test kitchen employee who was famished by the time lunch rolled around on the fateful day. He looked in his locker for something to eat and saw two cans of soup. Without noticing that they were two completely different flavours, he mixed them together. Looking for added ingredients to weaken the salty result, Fred spied milk and cheese in the fridge. "Hmmm," he thought, "if I shredded some cheese and add some crackers on top, this could be a deconstructed grilled chicken and cheese sandwich with tomato soup!" Never mind there was no grilling involved, or that Fred used the term "deconstructed" years before revered chefs did. Fred mixed the ingredients, declared it passable, then wrote down the recipe for future reference in case his bosses were in a pinch for a recipe to print on boxes or in homemaking magazines.

One relief: the non-essential native trappings extend only to the headline and the feathers worn by our happy 1950s family. Perhaps this recipe filled the need for a meal in a hurry before heading out to a sporting event featuring combatants on teams named after native tribes.

Source: Woman's Day, January 1952 - JB

Thursday, September 23, 2010

generic album review


While cleaning out a box that had been buried in the depths of my bedroom closet, I found several clippings from the year I was arts editor at the Ontarion. The piece above, printed in the fall semester's edition of the Contrarion (joke issue), was a poke at one of my least favourite duties: editing album reviews.

While there were many reviewers who did a good job of assessing the pros and cons of a given album, others made me believe they had no opinion at all. These reviews either pulled out the cliches listed above or, worse, simply listing the tracks without any indication of whether they liked the disc. I knew there were people just wanted the CD and had to go through the formality of writing something...but still. Even "song two had a nice tambourine solo" would have shown some thought.

Monday, September 20, 2010

sights on a sunday walk around toronto

The last Sunday of summer. Sunny skies, comfortable temperatures. Good conditions to spend an afternoon reaquainting myself with certain parts of downtown. I went on an amended version of the old "Sunday constitutional" route I used to walk most Sundays—instead of starting at Osgoode station and succumbing to the lure of a cheap Indian buffet, I took the Spadina car down to the top of Kensington Market. From there, it was a meandering trek down to Queen West, followed by a (brief) stop amid the crowd at the art show in Trinity-Bellwoods (the tight cluster of those browsing proved claustrophobic). From there, I strolled up Montrose to College, passing neighbours shooting the breeze on their porches and men pruning front yard foliage for elderly residents.

And then there was a sight that provides a good opportunity to haul out a well-worn logo used on this website...

Warehouse Election Central

Rocco Rossi: Bocce Balls

Election signs will soon become chic decor items in apartment windows and on city lawns. The odd poster has popped up around town, such as this one for Rocco Rossi I came across. Seems the contender (hovering, according to the poll currently grabbing attention for how far ahead Rob Ford is, in fourth place) is basing his campaign posters upon his Italian background and some of the stereotypes that go with it. Our Mayor: the goodfella.

Where was this posted? College Street on the edge of Little Italy.

Given the nature of some of Mr. Rossi's recently revealed platforms (recalls that could lead to dubious attacks from interests with specific axes to grind, the Spadina"Toronto Tunnel"), one may suspect that his bocce balls aren't implanted in his gut but his brain. One also suspects the Rossi campaign's fancy hired help are desperately trying anything to capture a moment of a voter's time. They may be succeeding, but not with the desired outcome.

Musical Chairs in Baldwin Village

While heading toward Yonge Street, I accidentally stumbled upon Baldwin Village's Pedestrian Sunday. Taking up the middle of Baldwin Street was a game of musical chairs with live accompaniment. It was tempting to stick around and see if another game ensued to test out my chair-grabbing skills, but my energy was winding down.

Waiting Room Only

While waiting for a bus at Davisville station, I took a picture of the notice painted above the entrance to the sheltered waiting area. The letters seemed to be in a similar state of decay during childhood waits for the Bayview bus. It's likely the only signage in the station to retain the classic TTC font.

Photos taken September 19, 2010 - JB

Thursday, September 16, 2010

warehouse video counter: blobby business

From the vaults (of YouTube), the Warehouse brings you the directorial debut of television star Larry Hagman (I Dream of Jeannie, Dallas). The sequel to the 1958 drive-in classic, Beware! the Blob (or Son of Blob) was among the nominees in "The Most Humiliating Performance by a Future TV Star" category in the book Son of the Golden Turkey Awards:

Amazingly enough, it took fourteen years before someone in Hollywood stepped forward to take this obvious challenge and to unfreeze the man-eating strawberry Jell-O for a second attack on the human race. The resulting sequel - inevitably called Son of Blob - defined new lows in cinematic sloppiness and left audiences longing for the sincere stupidity of the Steve McQueen original. The new film tried to combine humorous and terrifying elements in the celebrated style of Attack of the Killer Tomatoes but in its confusion failed either to frighten or to entertain. As one wag put it at the time of the film's release: "What they wanted was tongue-in-cheek, but what they got was finger-down-throat."

Treating the opportunity as something of a gag, and as a welcome opportunity for learning how to use a camera, Hagman helped persuade many of his pals from the world of TV to join in his fun by portraying bits of blob chow...They must have had a splendid time on the set, since the finished film looks like the home movie of a private party, where all the guests are so drunk or stoned that they have begun to look on every belch or hiccup by one of their friends as a brilliant bit of improvisatory humour...There is also a good deal of incoherent social commentary: Hagman the director delivers some laughably topical touches about hippies, policde brutality, drug abuse, the generation gap, and the homeless.

Not to mention slightly lecherous "hair sculptors" (Shelley Berman's sequence screams improvised, and is one of the legitmately funniest parts of the flick).

[For the curious, the winner in the category was Joan Collins running around in K-Mart finery in Empire of the Ants (1977). Other nominees included Raymond Burr (Bride of the Gorilla, 1953), Danny Thomas (lead role in the 1953 version of The Jazz Singer), Merv Griffin (Phantom of the Rue Morgue, 1954), Linda Evans (Beach Blanket Bingo, 1965) and Tom Selleck (Daughters of Satan, 1972).}

Watch for a brief appearance by the director as a hobo, alongside improv guru Del Close (who later appeared in 1988 remake of the original movie) and an uncredited Burgess Meredith. To build on Hagman's evening soap opera noteriety, the producers reissued the film in 1982 with the tagline "The film that J.R. shot!"

The Blob has received the full Criterion treatment. Son/Beware!? Not so much.

Warning!!!: This film is not recommended for viewers easily traumatized by red Jell-O attacking cute kittens or by large men wearing nothing other than a fez. - JB

stage door

Stage Door, St. Lawrence Centre

Stage Door, St. Lawrence Centre

Photos taken at the St. Lawrence Centre for the Performing Arts, August 13, 2010 - JB

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

an important, almost forgotten, revelation about the joker

Vintage Ad #1,207: An Important Revelation About the Joker

The root cause of the Joker's insanity? Not a chemical bubble bath. Not an incredibly rotten day.


He doesn't like Hostess Fruit Pies!

After all, who in their right mind can resist the allure of tender crust and fruit filling full of chemical additives and globular bits that once resembled real fruit?

The Clown Prince of Crime's mistake was forgetting that since there were no donut shops in this particular precinct, the cops fulfilled their daily sugar and lard dietary requirement by purchasing fruit pies at the Kwik-E-Mart two blocks from the station.

Source: Justice League of America #142, May 1977 - JB

punny business department

Harrow Fair - It's All About Ewe

Photo taken on 3rd Concession, Kingsville, September 5, 2010 - JB

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

my conversation with yeeha!

For several years, I had an on-again, off-again relationship with internet dating. While the results were ultimately successful (as over a year-and-and-a-half with my partner-in-crime will testify), there were more than a few odd moments along the way. Sometimes the awkward moments were in public, others on a computer screen.

The latter was the case around Victoria Day weekend 2006. While cleaning out one of my email accounts, I found a transcript of a conversation on Messenger. Why email? I sent it to a couple of friends out of disbelief.

The tone of the conversation leads me to believe that I'd had an online chat with "Yeeha!" (the handle used in the transcript) at least once before. If so, I may not have noticed her odd way of "laughing" online, which was akin to the maniacal laughs found in any old J.M. DeMatteis/Keith Giffen issue of Justice League (though instead of "BWAHAHAHAHA!" she used "yyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyeeehahahah!").

I knew I was in for an odd session early on and should have stopped quickly. You know when you feel like you're watching a slow car wreck and know you should divert your gaze but can't? This was one of those moments. I'm human. Sue me.

We started by asking how our long weekends went—she had braved crowds at the Eaton Centre and complained about shopping-obsessed people.

Me: anything else besides fighting the crowds downtown?

Yeeha!: haaaaaaaaaa nothing much. im just sick of all those shopping obsessed people who have nothing else to do. really. its like they are so made up and they are not even good looking. they are sooo obsessed. its like get a life hahaa...i dont care. i just look at them and im like god. give it up hahaha.

Me: though i could stand to toss out a few things in a goodwill bag

Yeeha!: dont you think they are obsessed though, people here? with dressing up. i think its so primitive.

Me (trying to be balanced): some are, some aren't

Yeeha!: yeah but a lot of people i find more people are then arent

Monday, September 13, 2010

one evening at the old spaghetti factory

Vintage Ad #1,182: The Little Tramp Likes Spaghetti
Advertisement, Toronto Life, September 1972. More about this ad on Torontoist.

The Old Spaghetti Factory was a staple of my childhood. Most visits to my grandparents included at a trip down to the Esplanade to sit amid the bric-a-brac while my family ate many garlic butter-smeared pieces of bread and slurped down the headline dish. It was an ideal place for my parents to bring me and Amy: colourful, child palate-pleasing, and cheap. The recipe seems to have worked for families and tourists for the past forty years, even if patrons like the little tramp can no longer load up at a salad bar.

mutant eggplant discovered in toronto

Nosy Eggplant (1)

Place: St. Lawrence Market
Time: around 11:30 a.m., Saturday, September 11
Story: Three people browsing the produce stands lining the perimeter of the north market. One finds an unusual specimen among a large collection of eggplants. A specimen than appears to be a mutant among its kind. A specimen with a nose. Not just any nose, but one that would make Bob Hope, Jughead Jones, cartoon hillbillies, and possibly Cyrano de Bergerac proud. Shoppers passing by commented on the unique physical characteristics of this specimen. Naturally we took this eggplant home.

Nosy Eggplant (3)

Upon further inspection, it was revealed that this eggplant also had the beginnings of a tail. When placed at a certain angle, the specimen also bore a faint resemblance to a coffee pot. Whether its veins are filled with the proud pickings of Juan Valdez is subject to further investigation.

Researchers in the Warehouse's laboratory have yet to determine if this unique specimen should be immersed in a preservative fluid for long-term study or sliced up to make eggplant parmesan for the next department potluck.

Photos taken September 11, 2010 - JB

Friday, September 10, 2010

let's explore your mind, shall we?

tely 54-06-19 explore the mind

From the hobby page of the weekend edition of The Telegram comes this doozy of a syndicated column. At first glance it seems like silly fluff from the 1950s, but digging deeper reveals darker impulses at work.

A profile of Dr. Albert Edward Wiggam D.Sc.(1871-1957) in the May 1937 issue of The Rotarian noted that he was "in the vanguard of those who interpret science" and that "his contribution to popular education is beyond reckoning...why read fiction when you can read Wiggam?" On first glance, it's tempting to change one letter in Dr. Wiggam's name and imagine some distant relationship to the Wiggum family from The Simpsons (poor l'il Ralphie would fail question no. 1 miserably).

Have you ever made a list of those with whom you'd prefer to go hiking or exchange presents under a Christmas tree? Would a modern version ask who you prefer going to the gym with or exchanging songs on your iPods with? Or would Wiggam ask a cruel teenager for activities to vote on?

The references in question no. 2 to preserving species through marriage into "naturally long-lived stocks" hint at the good doctor's deep belief in the wonders of eugenics. He once wrote that "eugenics is simply evolution taken out of the hands of brute nature." Quickly scanning some of his views published in newspapers and old books that have found their way onto the internet, one finds a man whose views on "race progess" might have found a happy home in Nazi Germany...and who yet presented his thoughts to millions of readers in North America, sometimes light-heartedly.

Kinda scary when you think about it.

Question no. 3? One imagines some readers oblivious to their treatment of their children didn't like the answer.

Source: The Telegram, June 19, 1954 - JB

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

can you identify this ttc mug?


One lazy summer day, Sarah and I were taking a quick browse through the Value Village in Leslieville. At the front of the store, one item quickly caught Sarah's eye: a giant mug with the TTC logo on one side and a front end loader on the reverse.

Naturally we bought it.

I've tried to track down any information about the mug and come up with very little. The only hint on the mug itself is a 1982 copyright date under the logo. Our guesses:

  • Part of a set available only to TTC employees (supported by a similar mug with a 1981 date found on Craigslist), perhaps as part of a holiday gift box like the model cars I receive from my employer each year
  • A retirement gift
  • A commemorative item for those involved with the construction/opening of the Scarborough RT (opened 1985)

If you have any background information about this mug, please leave a comment. - JB

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

bonus features: farina takes the stage

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

ts 32-02-12 farina visit

From the February 12, 1932 edition of the Toronto Star, photos of the visiting Hoskins siblings. Janey (Mango) looks relaxed on the left...while Allen (Farina) is "turning the juice on" with an expression bordering on the stereotypical pop-eyed look black comedians were expected to employ onscreen at the time. It also appears that the publicity photo in the middle was taken some time earlier.

Here's four-year-old Farina demonstrating his self-preservation skills in the face of a poorly-controlled train in a clip from 1924's Sundown Ltd. - JB

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

wanted: vuarnet

Vintage Ad #1,165: Wanted: Vuarnet

Though they are not featured in this ad, hands up from any of you who owned a Vuarnet t-shirt as the 1980s drew to a close. It was an essential item around the time I left elementary/entered high school, even if it meant breaking the bank (knockoffs picked up at flea markets or sketchy mall stores were looked down upon with scorn). No matter which colour you wore (and I'll fess up to having owned them in navy blue and orange), you too could have the self-assured look that these cool cats display with their sunglasses.

I recall prodding my parents into emptying their accounts several times to match fashion trends in high school, often bought at the men's store in town. I may have had some lingering guilt, as several pricy pieces of clothing from that time survived until recent closet purges - au revoir 1991-vintage Polo oxford shirt with decade-and-a-half-old sweat stains (or years of dust) under the arm!

Source: Maclean's, April 11, 1988. - JB

past for sale

Looking Out the Front Door, early 1970s
I don't have any pictures on hand of the house on Second Concession/Fryer Street when we lived in it, but here's a shot taken from the front yard circa 1973-74. The quarry is till there, but part of the field is now occupied by an elementary school.

Amy sent me a link a couple of days ago showing that the house we grew up is up for sale. I figured it was a matter of time, as the property has been vacant for awhile (the 8-1/2 x 11 piece of paper taped in the middle of the front window indicating a number to call if you noticed something funny was going on was the tipoff). It sounded as if several additions were made after we left the house twenty years ago, including a backyard pool, fireplace and a hot tub. None of these added touches appear to have increased the property's value—when I asked Mom how much we received for it, the figure was a few thousand more than the current price. The sale price likely reflects the downturn in the economy down there as much as any potential flaws with the property.