Monthly Archive: July 2012

A word about words

Christopher Plummer’s one-man show at Stratford is almost a tour de force. A Word or Two is Plummer’s paean to poetry, prose and a lifetime of reading that began when he was just a tad in a home where everyone gathered after dinner to read aloud. The launch pad for him was Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, specifically an illustration in the book of “an aged man a-sitting on a gate” whose visage and lyrical poem beckoned Plummer to enter into other worlds through words. Plummer, winner of an Oscar earlier this year at 82, was suitably self-deprecating. “I was...

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Just asking

1. What is it with this summer’s newest and most awful skirt style where the front is above the knees and the back trails like a train with a round bottom (the skirt, not the wearer, madam). Call it the skirt that couldn’t make up its mind. 2. Am I a schnook or is the La Senza ad that promotes brassieres with the slogan “Push it up real good” not just poor grammar but also poor taste? 3. Speaking of silly ads, what about the one for the new Visa Debit card – there’s an oxymoron right up there with...

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The power of money

Just how venal can banks get? In the last two months HSBC got caught laundering money, Barclays fiddled with LIBOR, Goldman Sachs settled a $600-million class action suit on mortgage-backed securities, the London Whale lost billions for JP Morgan, and Wells Fargo did predatory lending. Whatever happened to 3-6-3? That was when bankers paid depositors 3 percent, charged borrowers 6 per cent, and were on the golf course by 3 p.m. The first thing that happened was Bill Clinton ended Glass-Steagall, the 1930s legislation that kept commercial banks and securities firms separate. The second thing that happened was compensation got way...

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Lament for a nation

I’ve loved lists ever since CHUM (1050 on your dial) produced its first top 50 chart in 1957 with All Shook Up by Elvis Presley at number one. Two corporate lists have recently come to hand: the ROB top 1000 and the Fortune Global 500. Atop the charts in the ROB, measured by profit, is Toronto-Dominion Bank at $5.9 billion. Everybody agrees that TD CEO Ed Clark has done a stellar job. His unusual background includes time as a civil servant followed by a series of roles at Merrill Lynch and Canada Trust where the watchword was FIFO (Fit in or...

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Jammin’ with Pearl Jam

At the Pearl Jam concert at O2 World in Berlin last Wednesday, the audience came from far and wide. There were flags from Italy and Denmark. There were overheard accents from America and Scotland. Two couples with a total of five children under five had outfitted everyone in tshirts calling themselves the Traveling Poles. For vocalist Eddie Vedder and the other four members of the rock band formed in Seattle in 1990, this was their 998th concert. “It seems like more,” said Eddie, who twice urged those on the floor to take three steps back to stop crowding at the...

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Ich bin ein Berliner

Just back from a whirlwind trip to Berlin. The reason was son Mark’s desire to see a Pearl Jam concert (about which more later). I got to tag along for the event but we also fitted in a six-hour guided walking tour, visits to five museums and galleries, several excellent meals and a few Pilsners over four days. I had naively thought that the Berlin Wall was some short barricade with Checkpoint Charlie in the middle. In fact, it ran 143 kilometres with a parallel wall the better to see escapees. And flee they did, by tunnel and zipline. In...

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St. James redux

Last November I wrote a blog about Occupy Toronto. In it I said I agreed with much of what they preached – until I visited their site in St. James Park. What I saw was deplorable: ruts in the grass, broken tree branches, a defaced bandstand and a general carelessness for public property that bordered on contempt. My support evaporated immediately. I declared they should decamp. The park couldn’t withstand any more such protests. The next day police moved in and evicted the squatters. I recently returned to the scene. I needn’t have been so distressed; there was no sign...

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