Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Guess who's coming out of the Penguin Hall Closet?

Sherman, set the Way Back Machine for 1996- a kinder, gentler time. A time before PDAs and the internet made bringing up local radar so easy. Remember way back, when we all were so dependent on that guardian of the green screen, that defender of the Doppler, the weatherman? Yes, return with us now, to those thrilling days of "The Adventures of Timmy Toggle- Ace Meteorologist!"
(Editor: "Timmy Toggle" was created in April of 1996 as a response to a Chicago magazine's survey of local TV talent. Alert readers will no doubt recognize a certain resemblance to a popular weatherman and his network cohorts. A copy of the original comic was presented to the original character then, but no response ensued. The Penguin Hall Monitor is re-issuing it now, with a spirit of humor and homage, and hopes the Gentle Reader will enjoy this stroll through simpler times.)

To see the panels, click on each thumbnail to enlarge.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Summer Fun!

As the summer evening sun starts to slide to bed ever so slightly earlier and the little children count with dread the number of days of freedom they have left, the residents and visitors of Penguin Hall enjoy the lazy hours. Killer spends most afternoons spread out on the Persian rug in the sun, sleeping off her morning conquest. Cars come and go as the kids arrive and depart for their respective jobs (and parties). While Mr. H. puts the lawn tractor on auto-pilot and taxis back and forth slowly across the lawn, Mrs. H. paints the kitchen a fresh shade of robin’s egg blue-grey. It is a time of ethnic festivals and parish picnics, and it was just such an event the Halls attended Sunday afternoon. The air was filled with sprightly polkas and their tummies were full of pierogies and kielbasa. On a whim, Mrs. H. purchased some raffle tickets for some prize baskets, since in the past her contributions to the good of Sacred Heart Basilica have usually taken the form of losing to Monsignor Gleba at his “Beat the Padre” craps table. Her whimsy took her well, as Monday morning brought her a call from Sister Melanie that she had won the little “basket” with the three penguins and a year’s family membership to Rosamond Gifford Zoo.
Serious studies and a stern focus on the future should be the vocation of every young man, but last week, for Master Christopher’s birthday, it was all fun and games. From his favorite breakfast of lox and bagels to his favorite dinner dessert of peanut butter ice cream pie, it was a day, as it should be, of pleasant self indulgence. Highlight of the evening: a spur of the moment, all-out, every man for himself Nerf™ war! The wounded were treated to seconds on the ice cream pie, so it could truthfully be said that there were winners all around.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Hall's well that ends well...

Pointing the big black car southward, the Halls headed back again to the friendly confines of Penguin Hall. Mr. and Mrs. H. settled into their old routines again, but not before pausing to sigh contentedly and remember all the pleasant memories their little trip provided; there were so many wonderful scenes. Ever present on the road, both in America and Canada, is the playful nature of local artisans. Whether hawking nearby tourist attractions or decorating (?) over the road transport, the illustrative spirit was alive and flourishing.
Included for your approval: Michigan drollery on a now defunct drive-in; a demented axe-wielding squirrel on a 18 wheeler crossing the border; an example of yankee ingenuity with racoon skins (it took four of them to make this stylish chapeau...) ; yet another "haunted" tourist trap in Sault St. Marie; and a sculpture celebrating the lost art of turtle stacking.

Ottawa: the Artful Lodger

Arriving fresh the next day, the Halls were too early for their rooms, so a hasty revision to their flight plan was arranged and they ended up at the Canadian Aviation Museum on the grounds of the Canadian National Air Base. A truly beautiful and well laid out museum, it provided entertainment as well as shelter, during the only inclement weather the Halls experienced the whole trip. By the time they got out, the sun was shining and the streets of Ottawa beckoned enticingly.
They booked in at the historic Lord Elgin hotel, and decided to check out the city life.
After dining on fish and chips at an authentic British pub, the Halls took their usual constitutional around that delightful capital to our north. While strolling around, they witnessed: a wedding party having their photographs taken in front of the main entrance of Parliament, street musicians and chalk artists, traveling chess games and one of the most unusual sculptures they have ever seen guarding the doorway to the National Art Gallery. Like a little bit of Europe just three hours away, Ottawa enchanted the Halls, and they made note that moment that this would scarcely be their last time here.

Oh! Canada!

Though it would have been heavenly to stay, the Halls bid a fond adieu to the Grand Hotel and pointed the big black car northward. They took a quick stop at Whitefish Point to view the shipwreck museum, but it was only for a moment. Sault St. Marie was next; that bustling gateway to the great lakes, and the Halls spent an entire afternoon just watching the freighters perform their snail’s pace pas de deux through the locks and move on. Mrs. Hall said they looked just like ships passing in the night, except that it was day. Mr. Hall just shook his head and said she was not safe to be out alone.
After spending the night in Sault St. Marie, the Halls slid into Canada and found an attraction Mr. H. had been particularly interested in visiting: the Bushplane museum. Bush planes, of every type of primarily Canadian origin, were crammed into a hanger, along with some interesting object theatres and historical maps.
While the remaining residents of Penguin Hall and upstate New York were enduring a wet and nasty summer, Mr. and Mrs. Hall seemed to have a hold on a bubble of cool dry air that was circulating to the north. It followed them across the country to North Bay, where they put down for the evening. Local inquiry produced a glowing review of a nearby watering hole known as Churchill’s; and of course, Mr. and Mrs. H. had to check it out. Eschewing dinner in the wine cellar, they opted for a short repast in the bar; and a glorious walk on the beach in the moonlight at night. Next stop: Ottawa!

Tell your friends!