Down the digital slope

Increasingly, movies are made with computer generated imagery (CGI). Robert Downey Jr. spends his studio life in front of a green-screen doing snappy one-liners while all the special effects are added later to Avengers and the like. Dialogue no longer matters; impossible action is all. As Hollywood’s best-paid actor he makes $US80 million a year. Next we’ll be watching Jimmy Stewart in the sequel to It’s a Wonderful Life made from a pastiche of his previous films using soupçons of CGI. Music, once difficult to reproduce on stage because of studio tinkering, has gone fully robotic. No longer is it just Auto-Tune software correcting...

Read More ....

Ars longa, vita brevis

My all-time favourite small show is currently at the Art Gallery of Ontario. The exhibit called Into the Woods consists of two works – The Jack Pine and The West Wind – both by Tom Thomson. These are paintings that can accurately be described using that overworked word, iconic. There’s a large seat where two people can sit and admire for hours on end what to my mind are the best canvases ever produced by a Canadian artist. I successfully avoided looking closely at Michael Belmore’s Breadth, his version of a roadkill fawn, that lies nearby. Works of art can inspire and transport....

Read More ....

The pursuit of possibilities

Some people say success in life is about inheriting good genes, getting an education, finding the right partner or just plain hard work. While all of those contain kernels of truth, life is nothing without possibilities. I attended a 100th birthday celebration today for Helen Oldham. Her son, Peter, was my friend while we were both growing up in Guelph. Helen and Bob Oldham’s home was always a warm and welcoming place for me where interesting and mind-expanding things happened. Bob operated a ham radio; I listened to him talk to people around the world. Today that’s a daily event; then it was dazzling...

Read More ....

Flora MacDonald 1926-2015

There aren’t many people you can call pathfinders, but Flora MacDonald was certainly among them. Born in North Sydney, Nova Scotia, she worked her way up through the ranks of the Progressive Conservative Party in an era when women were not accepted as equals to men in political back rooms. Flora achieved great heights because she was smart, hard-working, principled and a consensus-builder. Of all the people in the party over the years, she’s one among a very small number who was known to everyone by her first name alone. Hired to work as secretary in the national office of the party, Flora...

Read More ....

Slugging it out

With the PanAm games more than half over, what will be the legacy beyond a few new buildings and some additional housing on the waterfront? Why not take this opportunity to change forever the traffic patterns that have been clogging Toronto by making permanent the temporary HOV lanes? Toronto must be one of the last major cities in North America without HOV lanes. Now that drivers have had to deal with them on the Don Valley Parkway, Gardiner and Queen Elizabeth Way, let’s continue HOV and press on with forced driver retraining. Otherwise, traffic woes will only get worse. For me it...

Read More ....

The road to immortality

One of the best definitions of immortality I’ve ever heard was told to me by Bill Mulholland, CEO of Bank of Montreal in the 1980s. “The question is, can you mass-produce? Do you want to achieve a self-perpetuating process, one that goes on after you walk out? The ultimate accolade is when they say, ‘Mulholland, we don’t need you anymore.’ Like man’s earliest effort, you have created a tool that can be used over and over again. In fact, there’s no way of knowing how you did until after you’ve left.” Mulholland rescued the bank from oblivion, launched ATMs in Canada...

Read More ....

The dining room revolution

Bad enough for the Conservative Party to run an ad showing Justin Trudeau wearing a singlet at a fund-raiser and pass him off as some sort of pervert. My grandchildren certainly took a scunner to him as a result and are forever asking me what I see in a man who would act so foolishly. These days, I must admit, I see more faults. Trudeau’s a good retail politician but he can’t tap-dance. By that I mean he comes poorly prepared for major speeches and media scrums. I put it down to bad staff work. But no one in public life deserves...

Read More ....

Good will hunting

Earlier this month I received a notice from the Globe and Mail telling me there would be “a change in the terms and conditions” of my print subscription. Beginning on June 29, if I suspended delivery while away for a weekend or a longer holiday, I would not receive a credit for that period, I would continue to pay just as if I had received the paper. I was apoplectic. Ever since I could read, I’ve been reading the Globe. It’s one thing to sign up for Netflix and understand that whether you watch 100 hours a month or zero,...

Read More ....