Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Canadian, eh?

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A collection by Neal McKenna 

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Mr. Dressup was a children's television series produced by CBC Television which ran from 1967 to 1996. 
The series starred Ernie Coombs (an American who later became a Canadian citizen) as Mr. Dressup, a character who had started on the earlier series Butternut Square
The show aired every weekday morning, and each day Mr. Dressup would lead children through a series of songs, stories, arts, crafts and imagination games, with the help of his friends Casey and Finnegan, a child and a dog who lived in a treehouse in the back yard.  
Judith Lawrence was the puppeteer who brought 
Casey and Finnegan, along with other occasional 
puppet visitors like Alligator Al and Aunt Bird, to 
life. The set for the show included the inside of Mr. 
Dressup's house, with scenes shot in the living room, 
kitchen, and a kind of play room that included the 
Tickle Trunk (where costumes used in make-believe 
skits were stored) and a long counter where Casey 
and Finnegan often appeared. Sometimes, the action
 moved outside to Casey and Finnegan's tree house.

Mr. Dressup's most famous segment featured his Tickle Trunk, from which he would get a costume. It might be an animal costume, or a policeman's or fireman's uniform, or some other outfit in which he could dress up and play whatever role was suggested by the costume. Occasionally, the Tickle Trunk would not open, in which case Mr. Dressup sang a song which ended in him tickling the lock, hence its name. 
The trunk appeared to be magic as it always had the right costumes, in the right sizes, neatly folded at the top of the piles of costumes. Occasionally Mr. Dressup would need to make an accessory for his costume, such as a hat, which would lead to a craft. 
Mr. Dressup would usually create some kind of drawing or craft and sing a song with the puppets, such as "Down by the Bay." On occasion, Mr. Dressup would also read a book or show a short documentary to the audience. The films were usually silent and Mr. Dressup would narrate in order to explain events. He would frequently draw pictures on his drawing board to either tell a short story or to play a game with one of his visitors. He would frequently encourage children to try the craft at home or to sing along with the songs. 
In later years, Judith Lawrence chose to retire from the show. Rather than cast a new puppeteer in the roles of Casey and Finnegan a team of new puppeteers were brought in, including Karen Valleau (Chester the Crow), Nina Keogh (Truffles), Jani Lauzon (Granny), Cheryl Wagner, and later, Ruth Danziger (Annie), Jim Parker (Alex), and Bob Dermer (Lorenzo the Raccoon). 

The new characters visited Mr. Dressup, and over time, became the lead characters, as Casey and Finnegan appeared less and less in the show until they quit appearing altogether. This was done gradually so children wouldn't notice the absence of Lawrence's beloved Casey and Finnegan characters upon her retirement. When Casey and Finnegan stopped appearing on the show it was explained on screen that Casey and Finnegan were now attending kindergarten. With the addition of new characters, new sets were also added including the community centre. 
The final episode of Mr. Dressup was taped on February 14, 1996. Coombs spent most of the next few years touring college campuses giving talks about his time on the show (his target audience being students who grew up with his series), before he died of a stroke on September 18, 2001, in TorontoOntario at the age of 73.
Rebroadcasts of the series continued for a decade after it ended, until the CBC announced that it was taking Mr. Dressup out of its weekday morning lineup and moving it to Sunday mornings effective July 3, 2006. The final repeat telecast aired on September 3, 2006. 
Due to the long run of the series, several generations of Canadian children, as well as kids growing up in northern regions of the United States which received the CBC signal, grew up watching Mr. Dressup and his adventures. Ernie Coombs and the character of Mr. Dressup have become strong Canadian icons and a part of Canadian pop culture. 
As of 2010, two iconic elements of the series have been preserved for public viewing: Casey's treehouse is on display in the Canadian Broadcasting Centre in downtown Toronto, while the Tickle Trunk (with assorted props) is on display in the CBC Museum. 
The Friendly Giant
The Friendly Giant was a very popular Canadian children's television program broadcast on CBC Television from September 1958 through to March 1985. It featured three main characters: a giant named Friendly (played by Bob Homme), who lived in a huge castle, along with his puppet animal friends Rusty (a rooster who played a harp and lived in a book bag hung by the castle window) and Jerome (a talking giraffe). The two principal puppets were manipulated and voiced by Rod Coneybeare
This 15-minute show was perhaps most famous for its opening sequence. Each episode would begin with the camera panning over a detailed model of part of a village as Friendly could be heard observing the goings on in the town below. Suddenly, his giant boot would come into view and Friendly would ask the viewers to "Look up, look waaaaay up!" and the Giant would invite everyone to come visit his castle. 
The traditional tune Early One Morning would then be heard being played on harp and recorder, while the camera slowly zoomed into the Giant's castle, whose drawbridge and doors opened wide in welcome. Once inside, The Friendly Giant would put out miniature furniture for his viewers beside his feet (with only his feet and hands visible), saying, "One little chair for one of you, and a bigger chair for two more to curl up in, and for someone who likes to rock, a rocking chair in the middle." 
Typically, Jerome the Giraffe would visit, poking his head in through a high window. Rusty the Rooster, who lived in a book bag hanging on the wall by the window, would emerge and produce from the bag books to be read and other props, some seemingly larger than could fit in the bag. 
The rest of the show focused on gentle, humorous chat between Friendly, Rusty and Jerome, followed by a story or a musical performance. When extra instrumentation was needed, a pair of otherwise silent puppet cats — Angie and Fiddle, the Jazz Cats — joined in. Music for the show was composed by the show's harpist, John Duncan. 
At the show's conclusion, Friendly would put his miniature furniture away and his large, kindly hand would wave goodbye as the camera would zoom out and the castle's drawbridge would be raised; as a silvery moon rose into the sky a cow would jump over it. Once, when the cow failed to make an appearance, the CBC was inundated with phone calls from disappointed viewers. On occasion, often for episodes devoted to musical performances, episodes would take place completely at night.
The shows were largely ad libbed, typically based around a one-page plot summary for each episode. This gave the show an added spontaneity uncommon to most children's shows, though the series was marked by a go-slow, gentle nature. The simple repetition of its main elements from show to show put it fundamentally at odds with the bolder, ever-changing nature of such shows as Sesame Street.
Throughout the 1970s and into the 1980s, The Friendly Giant launched a block of children's programming aired by the CBC each weekday morning; it was followed in the block by Mr. Dressup and the Canadian version of Sesame Street.
Chez Hélène 
Chez Hélène was a children's television series produced by and broadcast on CBC Television. It was a 15-minute weekday program broadcast on the English television network to provide young viewers with exposure to the French language. Produced at CBC's Montreal studios, the show's 14-season run began on October 26, 1959, with the final program airing May 25 1973.
Hélène Baillargeon portrayed the title role and always spoke French. Other cast members were Madeleine Kronby who portrayed the bilingual and terminally perky Louise, and finally, a mouse puppet named Suzie who generally spoke English. The program remained popular through its final season, with a reported 437 000 viewers recorded by BBM in November 1972. But CBC executives cancelled the show claiming the series had run its course, and that the network's broadcasts of Sesame Street would incorporate five minutes of French-language segments per episode. Thus, Chez Hélène faded into Canadian TV history.

Sometimes there are things in food  meant to be there from the start  but still maintain the gross factor, regardless. Apparently, a chemical called castoreum (or for the layman, Beaver Anal Glands — seriously) is commonly used in perfumes/colognes and even as a flavor enhancement in raspberry candy. It makes you wonder how they discovered that connection!

Razzle Dazzle
Al Hamel, Howard the Turtle & Michele Finney
A high-powered, fast-moving half-hour, Razzle Dazzle is still fondly remembered as required after school viewing for children of the baby boom. Its title sequence was a rapid montage of images cut to a raucous version of "Tiger Rag," and the action took place in Razzle Dazzle Alley, which was populated each day by a gallery of children bused in daily from Toronto area elementary schools.
The most esteemed inhabitant of the alley was Howard the Turtle, who sat (if that's what turtles do) on a pedestal. Sometimes wide-eyed and childlike, sometimes clownish, sometimes irreverent, often Buddha-like in his serenity, Howard the Turtle was an icon of Canadian television in the first half of the l960s. It wasn't that he moved slowly; his shell and his feet, in fact, did not move at all. However, his neck, his head, his mouth, and his mind were all very animated. He had a penchant for the worst jokes and puns, called "groaners" on the show. A performer of remarkable versatility, he changed characters as easily as changing what he wore on his head or around his neck (which is basically how he did change character). 
He was Howard Mellotone, with the Pick of the Pops from radio station COW, he was Jimmy Fiddle Faddle with the latest gossip from Hollywood, he reported news of real importance for the Razzle Dazzle Daily, he was poet Howard I. Threadneedle, he hosted Howard Handsome's Dance Party with the Razzle Dazzle Dancers, and he was the impresario of Turtleshell Theatre.
Howard's human companions, the hosts for the first few years of the show's run, were Al Hamel (later Mr. Suzanne Sommers) and Michele Finney. Al, the kiddies' pal, had a healthy wardrobe of sweaters and slacks, closely cropped hair, and a lot of teeth. A CBC staff announcer, Hamel was a charter cast member of the leering, late night comedy show Nightcap, where he was billed as "our smiling Razzle Dazzle reject." He appeared on both shows in 1963 and 1964, when he finally vacated Razzle Dazzle Alley. 
Michele, eleven years old when the show started, just about dared you to call her perky. Dark haired, always earnest, bright, cheerful, and (yes) sexy, her resourcefulness seemed to suggest her ambition and independence. After all, she already had a career on television, and appeared to live among friends, not in constant reference to her parents. (She even interviewed the Beatles for the Toronto Daily Star [8 September 1964], p. l8.) She seemed not to defer to the authority of adults. 
Although Al was her elder and, perhaps just because he was male appeared to control the show's agenda, Michele remained very much his equal. Although still very young and a model with whom to identify, she was herself a figure of authority in relation to the children on the set, as well as the kids in the viewing audience. Al was the older brother whose personality had set, and whose wide Razzle Dazzle smile seemed to conceal his Nightcap libido. Michele, however, was growing to become a modern woman. Where Al resembled Eddie Haskell, the adolescent toady of Leave It to Beaver, then Michele would have grown up to be Mary Richards, the career woman played by Mary Tyler Moore in the 1970s.
The same relationship held for their successors. In 1964, Ray Bellew, a younger, oilier man with wavy, dark hair replaced Al, and Trudy Young, a blonde suburban high school student, as bright and charming as Michele, took over as co-host. (Trudy later shared the small and big screens with other anthropomorphized animals, including Arbuckle the Alligator in Alphabet Soup, Art Hindle in Face Off, and Burton Cummings in Melanie.) Sandy Pollock also worked periodically as a host.
There was also a supporting cast of characters - friendly and not so friendly - who showed up frequently in the Alley. The most notorious was Percy Q. Kidpester, played by Ed McNamara. A black-cloaked misanthrope who stepped out of a Victorian melodrama, his appearances guaranteed boos and hisses from the kids in the gallery. Only slightly less welcome was Mr. Sharpy, a con man played by Paul Kligman. In an eternal quest for the riches of "a knuckleful of nickles," his foolproof scams backfired every time. Joe Murphy played Mr. Igotit, the local shopkeeper, Don "Ace" Baker appeared regularly to demonstrate exercises and physical activities for kids (who presumably were watching Razzle Dazzle instead of playing outside), and dancer Joey Hollingsworth appeared frequently. 
The most prolific supporting player, though, was Michael Roth, who appeared as eight characters in the show, among them the oriental mystic Mandarin Tee Hee, Bimbo the clown, the English gentleman Lord Faversham, and the magician Sheik Ali Ben Roth. Other supporting characters included Mendel Meek, Boomer Foghorn, Hiram Corntassel, the "uncountrified farmer" from Cucumber Corners, the German inventor Herr Doktor Professor Vee Gates, and Sherlock House, "the defective detective," and the mailman Johann Sebastian Bagstrap.
Another important contributor to the show was the cartoonist George Feyer. His drawings comprised the comic strip adventures of Percy Kidpester, Terwilleger Topsoil, Daniel the Spaniel, and J. Tipton Teabag.
Viewers participated by mail and telephone in a number of the features on Razzle Dazzle. They contributed a daily news item or capsule commentary to be reported on the air. In 1963, the show instituted the Razzle Dazzle Genius Department, for which kids were encouraged to contribute original plays to be performed on the show. Fridays meant the Telequiz, a long distance telephone contest. Most important, however, was the Razzle Dazzle Club, which paid off with a button and a decoder with which initiates were able to read secret messages.
A regular feature of the show was the serial, a filmed story told in segments about five minutes long. One was The Terrific Adventures of the Terrible Ten, an Australian production about a group of children who started and ran their own self-sufficient community in a log fort. The Magic Boomerang, another Australian serial, traced the adventures of Tom, a boy who lived on a sheep ranch in the outback and who discovered an old boomerang with mystical properties. Razzle Dazzle also ran the stories of The Forest Rangers (q.v.), about boys and girls in northern Ontario, in serialized form, prior to the show's run in half-hour episodes as a series. 
One year, when the 1962 World Series threatened to pre-empt the opening shows of the season, Howard, Al, and Michele introduced a number of silent comedies by Mack Sennett, with such stars as Ben Turpin and Harry Langdon in a series called Razzle Dazzle Presents Movie Matinee. Similarly, at the start of the 1964 season, in a series called Howard Presents The Olympics, Howard and Ray introduced videotaped highlights from the l964 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, with reports from CBC commentators Bob McDevitt, Steve Douglas, Ted Reynolds, Dave Cruikshank, and Lloyd Robertson, and sports coverage produced by Don MacPherson.
Sometimes the CBC is guilty of patronizing and condescending to its child viewers. Among popular CBC programs for children, such shows as The Friendly Giant and Mr. Dressup, which are amiable and reassuring, have a nurturing quality. Razzle Dazzle, made for an older, school-age audience, stressed imagination, inventiveness, and above all fun. It had a level of irony and self-awareness that made the show watchable by adults. Howard the Turtle - like his contemporary, Jim Henson's Muppet Kermit the Frog - knew what was what. 

Michele Finney is seen here going over her lines with John Keogh, puppeteer for Howard the Turtle. Finney and co-host Al Hamel were the turtle's human companions from 1961 to 1964. No current information or photos exist of Finney on the Internet. She seems to have completely dropped off the map since her last film, a dud called "Hot Money," shot in 1979 but not released until 1986.
Alan Hamel Actress Suzanne Somers and Alan Hamel arrive at the 2007 Vanity Fair Oscar Party at Mortons on February 25, 2007 in West Hollywood, California.
Alan Hamel & wife Suzanne Somers, 2007
Photo via Zimbo
Strange Paradise
Image Via Panoramio
"Strange Paradise" was a daily gothic television serial broadcast throughout the U.S. and Canada. The show was the very first Canadian/American co-production of a daily serialized drama. Originally broadcast from the Fall of 1969 through the Summer of 1970, the series was aired across the United States on the many affiliates of Kaiser Broadcasting (with many stations airing the show in prime time) and in Canada via the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. 
The show focused on the supernatural, witchcraft, and voodoo, and was often compared to ABC's "Dark Shadows," upon which at least some elements of the show were based. In fact, "Strange Paradise" is sometimes referred to as “the 'Dark Shadows' of the North” when speaking of its Canadian connection. The exteriors for the show's Gothic mansion were shot at Toronto's landmark, Casa Loma which is Spanish for Hill House.
Click here for more about Strange Paradise

Photo Via Cinema Store
Katherine Greenwood
as Princess Diana
Kathy Greenwood (as she prefers to be called) is a Canadian actress and comedienneIn 1996, she found regular work on Canadian television on the drama series Wind at My Back. She spent the next five years, playing Grace Bailey, a junior journalist in a small town in Ontario during The Great DepressionHer portrayal of Grace Bailey was nominated for a Gemini Award for Best Performance By an Actress in a Continuing Leading Role. 

In 1999, she was cast as Denise Stanton in the TV movie Switching Goals, starring Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen. Later that same year, Greenwood crossed the border and commuted to Los Angeles, California to appear on such programs as The Drew Carey Show, the updated version of The Hollywood Squares, and the American version of the improv game show, Whose Line Is It Anyway? 
Greenwood is married to television writer John Dolan, with whom she has two daughters, Josephine and Phoebe. Greenwood is also a part of the sketch comedy troupe Women Fully Clothed, featuring what Eugene Levy calls "the five funniest women in Canada." The group saw great success in Canada and even found international acclaim with their appearance in Edinburgh, Scotland.

This Hour Has 22 Minutes
This Hour Has 22 Minutes (renamed 22 Minutes in 2009) is a weekly Canadian television comedy broadcast on CBC Television. Launched in 1993 during Canada's 35th general election, the show focuses on Canadian politics, combining news parody,sketch comedy and satirical editorials. Originally featuring Cathy Jones, Rick Mercer, Greg Thomey and Mary Walsh, the series featured satirical sketches of the weekly news and Canadian political events. 
The show's format is a mock news program, intercut with comic sketches, parody commercials and humorous interviews of public figures. The on-location segments are frequently filmed with slanted camera angles. television program is typically 22 minutes long with eight minutes of commercials.Its name is a parody of This Hour Has Seven Days, a CBC newsmagazine from the 1960s; the "22 Minutes" refers to the fact that a half-hour.      Via Wikipedia
Poutine: Messy but delicious
escape poutine
Smoke's Poutinerie in Toronto, Canada. Picture: Supplied
It tastes much better than it looks. Picture: Supplied
Angela Saurine From: National Features August 26, 2011

A dish which consists of French fries, cheese curds and gravy may not sound like the most appetising meal on the planet. 
But, as the saying goes, when in Rome do as the Romans do. 
That means when you are in Canada, you simply must try poutine. And when you go to Toronto, you simply have to go to Smoke's Poutinerie -  or so we had been told by a passionate local.
Like all good locals haunts the iconic eatery, located in Adelaide St West, is hard to find if you don’t know where you are going.
We walk right past it at first, but after a couple of trips back and forth down the street we eventually work it out. Smokes has a strong retro feel, with laminated grey and red floors, two long benches with stools and a handful of tables with metal and wooden chairs.

Rock songs such as Born in the USA and Blitzkreig Bop blare from the speakers, and a blackboard with chalk for merry patrons to write on while they wait in the queue at 2:00 a.m. lines one wall. 
"Excited for good poutine,'' one customer has scribbled.
There is a large, open window to a kitchen servery and a couple of young employees wearing hair nets.
And there is nothing but poutine on the menu.
Unlike McDonalds, there are no healthy options, just the famous dish often described by Canadians as a "heart attack in a box''.
In all there are 21 poutine dishes to choose from, all served in a brown cardboard carton and eaten with a plastic fork.
A Hogtown, which consists of sausage, bacon, onion and mushrooms, will set you back $6.99 for a small serving and $8.99 for a large.

Other options include the Italian Deluxe, which has meat sauce, sausage, mushrooms and onion, and Mamas chicken and green peas.
If you are not a meat eater, the Veggie deluxe or veggie nacho are both viable options.
I'm a bit of a fan of poutine
After much deliberation, I finally settled on the Montreal with smoked meat, pickle and mustard.
Smokes is known for its large servings, and I only managed to get halfway through.
Disgusting as it may sound, I have to confess to being a bit of a fan of poutine. Its not the kind of thing you would eat every day, but I can certainly see the appeal as an occasional treat. I had been introduced to poutine by some French Canadians I had met during a previous trip to Canada a few years earlier. Poutine originated in rural Quebec in the 1950s.
Smoke’s Poutinerie proprietor Ryan Smolkin is a former advertising executive and first-time restaurateur. He opened the eatery two years ago above another late-night hub, Burrito Boyz and has also created the World Poutine Eating Championships, in which one guy ate 5.8kg of poutine in 10 minutes. 
It’s unlikely I will eat that much poutine in an entire lifetime, but it’s definitely something I will seek out on my next trip to Canada.
The writer was a guest of the Canadian Tourism Commission.
Getting There: 
Air Canada has daily flights from Sydney to Vancouver with connections to Toronto. 
Staying there
The Fairmont Royal York Hotel is a short walk from Smoke's Poutinerie. It has one night packages which include accommodation in a Fairmont room and breakfast for two from C$195, excluding taxes.
http://media.news.com.au/news/2011/01-jan/link-icons/i_enlarge.gif Tips: Canada destination guide   Via News.ComAU

While we are on the topic of Canadian food, 
let's not forget the scrumptious Butter Tart!
Image Via Evernew Recipes  
A butter tart is a type of small pastry highly regarded in Canadian cuisine and considered one of Canada's quintessential desserts. The tart consists of buttersugar, syrup, and egg-filled into a flaky pastry and baked until the filling is semi-solid with a crunchy top.
Butter tarts were common in pioneer Canadian cooking, and they remain a characteristic pastry of Canada, considered one of only a few recipes of genuinely Canadian origin. It is primarily eaten and associated with the English-speaking provinces of Canada. However, the origins of the tart, its name, and its recipe is unclear. 
Similar tarts are made in Scotland, where they are often referred to as Ecclefechan butter tarts from the town of Ecclefechan. In France, they are related to the much more common tarte à la frangipane, that differs from the basic Canadian recipe only by the addition of ground almonds.
The earliest published Canadian recipe is from Barrie, Ontario dating back to 1900 and can be found in The Women’s Auxiliary of the Royal Victoria Hospital Cookbook. Another early publication of a butter tart recipe was found in a 1915 pie cookbook. This dessert was an integral part of early Canadian cuisine and often viewed as a source of pride.   
Via Wikipedia
For a butter tart recipe almost as good as my Mom's, click here. Like poutine, a butter tart is a heart attack on a plate but well worth the risk.
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Spoooky Reading
What lies beneath...
Here's proof you can't underestimate the creativeness of Canadian boys for mischief. 
At a high school in Saskatchewan, a group of students played a prank... They let three goats loose inside the school. But before turning them loose, they painted numbers on the sides of the goats: 1, 2, and 4. 
School administrators spent most of the day looking for number 3.             Image Via City-Data.com

condom.jpg In Canader...
The government today announced that it is changing its emblem from a Beaver to a CONDOM because it more accurately reflects the government's political stance....A condom allows for inflation, halts production, destroys the next generation, protects a bunch of dicks, and gives you a sense of security while you're actually being screwed!
Damn! It just doesn't get any more accurate than that!

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