Monthly Archive: May 2012

Treasure chest

The Pirates of Penzance at Stratford is nonsensical, glorious and funny, all the elements you want from a Gilbert and Sullivan romp. My daughter Alison and I saw the comic opera (still in previews) this afternoon at the Avon Theatre. It officially opens June 1. I grew up listening to my father’s D’Oyly Carte versions on vinyl and this production ably captures all the frivolity and word play of that famous troupe. David Johnson does a wonderful rendition of the tongue-twister song, “I am the very model of a modern major-general.” Amy Wallis as Mabel has a voice so beautiful it could...

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Curly, Larry and 99Mo

I’m a newspaper publisher’s dream. I not only read news stories, I also read advertisements. The most spectacularly silly ad in recent days was one for Canadian Light Source. I was drawn to the prominently displayed and decently sized (5″x11″) ad because I was intrigued by the name of the organization. Hoping to find out more, I read the first paragraph. Turns out it’s a national synchrotron light facility located on the University of Saskatchewan campus in Saskatoon. OK, I now knew where, but I still didn’t know what. The next sentence told me the organzation “is engaged in the design,...

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Hard time

I’m having a hard time trying to figure out how I feel about Conrad Black’s return to Canada. Should I forgive or forever denounce what he did? Not that it matters to him, but Conrad has been a part of my life since 1978 when he granted me an exclusive interview for a cover story in Maclean’s, The Argus Grab. The last time I spoke to Conrad was at a party ten years ago. He congratulated me on my book, The Eatons, calling it an “archeological dig.” Watching him acquire newspapers in the U.S. and the U.K, as well as launch...

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Spring cleaning

Regular visitors will have noticed a few alterations to my blog during recent days. The title, BlackBerry by Rod McQueen, has become the less specific Musings by Rod McQueen. My book about BlackBerry was published two years ago; it was time for a change. There’s also a new author photo and a new section called Next Book, another reason to change the blog heading. Driven to Succeed, co-authored with Susan M. Papp, almost didn’t happen. In August 2010, I received an email from Dan Bjarnason, a CBC-TV reporter I met in Ottawa in the 1970s. He said he had a friend who...

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The travesty of teardowns

There’s a house in Forest Hill that just sold for about $4 million. No one will live in it. The buyer plans to tear it down and build something even more grand. Imagine, $4 million for a teardown. That’s more than the average Joe will earn in a lifetime of schlepping to work every day. Even in my far less fashionable neighborhood, teardowns are going for $750,000. In their place are being erected McMansions, oversized and out-of-place-monstrosities that all but block out the sun on the street. I fought one such proposal for more than two years through three sittings...

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More Canada

My morning paper included a glossy 12-page ad supplement from Indigo. You know, the place that used to be a bookstore? Now, I like Indigo; they’ve sold a lot of my books. Plus they have more than half of the Canadian book market so attention must be paid. But Indigo is well on its way to becoming something else. In addition to the featured books, other advertised items include a vase, paperweight, tea pot and plates, sachets, honey, greeting cards, a scarf, and a tote bag. I understand the business case. The items on the latter list have high profit...

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Becoming a curmudgeon

Here are seven things that have been bothering me in recent days. 1. Remember Elwy Yost on TVOntario’s Saturday Night at the Movies? He was a bit geeky but three times out of four his movie choice was worth watching. He’s been replaced by a stream of hosts. I couldn’t even tell you the name of the current guy. The number of movies aired each week has doubled from two to four. That means about 130 movies since Labor Day of which I’ve watched maybe five. Who’s picking these duds? 2. The media in Canada is all too cosy. The...

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