Time travel

I once spent an evening listening to The Ink Spots. Of course, they weren’t the real thing. It was the 1970s and the vocal group, formed in the 1930s, had broken up in 1954. Dozens of groups were touring using their name. The closest the group I saw came to the original quartet was maybe one of them had an uncle who might have seen them perform. Such film-flammery was not an issue with The Doobie Brothers and Chicago, two groups who did their best work in the 1970s, and appeared last night on the Budweiser Stage (formerly the Molson Amphitheatre). Both...

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A hit and a miss

The Georgia O’Keeffe exhibit at the Art Gallery of Ontario is spectacular. Organized by the Tate Modern in collaboration with the AGO and Bank Austria Kunstforum, the exhibit includes not only eighty works by O’Keeffe but also photographs by her husband, Alfred Stieglitz, and her good friend Ansel Adams. By far the best are her giant flowers, especially the Red Amaryllis, Oriental Poppies and Jimson Weed. The time she spent in New York in the 1920s produced some excellent urban abstractions; her later years in New Mexico yielded everything from horse skulls to mountain landscapes. As with any groundbreaker, O’Keeffe took risks. “It takes courage to...

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Say you want a revolution

I’m not even half-way through my Sunday New York Times and already I’ve read four stories about Canada. The first was President Trump’s tweet about his “new found friend” Justin Trudeau; the second described up and coming Canadian comedians; the third focussed on Trudeau’s penchant for wearing socks that commemorate the occasion; and the fourth featured a couple living in Brooklyn with three children still at home who each have three passports: U.S., U.K. and Canadian. Canada is not only the most popular, two of the three kids are on different canoe trips in Canada even as we speak, one of which...

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Charisma and catharsis

In 1871 when France lost the Franco-Prussian war, the country needed a patriotic boost to get citizens feeling good again. The state reached back into the fifteenth century for a heroine and erected statues to Joan of Arc who drove the English off the throne of France. I’ve seen some of those statues in small French towns as well as in New Orleans where her birthday is celebrated at the start of Mardi Gras. Back in the day, the church and the establishment were both against her. Just as the country came around, so did the church, by canonizing her in 1920. George...

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Touch me not

Why is it that directors and choreographers feel they need to take perfectly good material and add their own ham-handed touches? James Kudelka, then of the National Ballet, to my mind ruined several productions, including Swan Lake and The Nutcracker. Except for taking my grandchildren to The Nutcracker a few times, I have refused to attend anything by the National Ballet since. Lezlie Wade, who directs H.M.S. Pinafore at Stratford this summer, has been equally busy with equally predictable results. For reasons unknown, Gilbert and Sullivan’s Pinafore opens in an estate where the war wounded are being cared for, then switches to the more...

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Aucun progrès

The Official Languages Act, passed in 1969, gave equal status to French and English when dealing with the federal government. The legislation has, over the years, propelled many parents to send their children to be educated in French immersion. Such classes were seen as good for social standing and useful for the student’s future. Others, like me, worked hard on their own to learn French. There was a point in time when I could understand political speeches in French, and my vocabulary remains extensive, but I would never have called myself bilingual. One-on-one was OK, but conversation with a group was always difficult....

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Party on!

The process was as foolish as it was flawed from the get-go. I’m talking about the multiple choice ballots used by the Conservative Party of Canada for its leadership contest. Apparently the methodology was insisted upon by the Reform Party during one of the many amalgams that created today’s Conservatives. It was like a crazy uncle leaving you a fetid swamp along with a demand that you plant crops and make it productive. Even such a brain as Kevin O’Leary couldn’t understand how the ranked balloting worked when other analysts on the CBC panel scoffed at his advice to supporters – just vote...

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Physician, heal thyself

Just when you thought the news about OxyContin couldn’t get worse, it did. We just don’t know how bad. Last year, almost 1,000 people died in British Columbia from an overdose or improper opioid use. In the rest of the country, statistics seem less scary only because they’re scarcer. Yet doctors and hospitals are still prescribing OxyContin, even though staff must know that some people will become addicted. Of the two people I know who recently had surgery, both were offered OxyContin for post-operative pain. Both refused. Wisely. Physicians are a big part of the problem. Many are paid by pharmaceutical companies to give...

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