Yearly Archive: 2012

Pshaw Festival

Over the weekend we attended the misnamed Shaw Festival in Niagara-on-the-Lake. Of this year’s eleven productions, only two are by George Bernard Shaw: The Millionairess and Misalliance. As I recall, some years back, the Festival decided to expand beyond Shavian wit to include any play written during his lifetime, a vast period encompassing almost a century, from 1856 to 1950. I guess that was an understandable move. You can only sit through all four acts of Man and Superman once in your life. Still, Shaw did write more than 60 plays. You’d think that would be sufficient to fill a few...

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Plus ca change

During my life so far, media coverage of business has grown faster than everything else in the world. When I was named business editor of Maclean’s in 1978, stories about stock markets, real estate and the economy ran only in the financial press. Some CEOs were so naive they were startled to be quoted in my first book, The Moneyspinners, published in 1983, even though I had told them exactly what I was doing, came to their office, turned on my tape recorder, and asked questions. Today, money is the new porn. Entire television networks are devoted to market news with...

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The last impresario

The new documentary by Barry Avrich about Garth Drabinsky purports to explain what drove the impresario to the point of committing fraud and going to jail. Show Stopper opens today at the Toronto International Film Festival, so I haven’t yet seen it, but I already know his motivation to succeed. Garth contracted polio as a child and was left with a severe limp. The best line I ever heard about Garth was, “He caught polio as a boy and it was your fault.” I spent a lot of time with Garth over the years, particularly when I did a 5,000-word profile...

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Vive la difference

I was in a neighbourhood children’s clothing shop this week looking for a dress for my granddaughter. The only one I liked was so over the top that I thought it would make her look far older than she is. I said as much to the owner and within earshot of a female shopper. “Little girls grow up so quickly,” said the owner. “Not boys,” I said, “we stay stupid forever.” Both women laughed so hard I thought they were going to fall down. Finally, one of them managed to say, “You said it, not us.” This incident occurred the day...

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Damn the torpedos

The Newsroom, which just finished its first season on HBO, has been given a terrible drubbing by the critics. A typical tirade came from Emily Nussbaum in The New Yorker. She dismissed the show as nothing more than “clever people … admiring one another.” She goes on to say, “They sing arias of facts. They aim to remake television news … their outrage is so inflamed it amounts to a form of moral eczema – only it makes the viewer itch.” I’ve heard about getting diseases from door knobs or toilet seats, but this is the first time I learned...

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The long good-bye

For the life of me I can’t figure out why all the fuss about the death of Jack Layton. A year ago, the entire country seemed to be riveted to the event. Citizens flocked to the Parliament Buildings where he lay in state and descended upon Toronto City Hall to make chalk drawings that glorified his memory. I couldn’t understand the outpourings at the time. After all, he appeared to be a happy political warrior who’d been elected city councillor and then leader of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition but he didn’t really achieve much of anything that was very lasting...

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Slowpoke service

Well, I spoke too soon about the great service from Bell. Not only do I not yet have my promised new modem and higher-speed service, my Internet download speed has dropped to 3 megabits per second even though I am paying for 12 Mbps. I guess my current situation is better than dial-up, but not much. Turns out my neighbourhood is not wired for the higher speed of 15 Mbps I was promised. When I last talked to Bell on Monday, they said work was going on in the area and would be completed that day. They expected my speed...

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Saved by the Bell

Cogeco Cable, Eastlink and Quebecor Inc. are complaining about Bell Canada’s planned purchase of Astral Media. In full-page ads appearing in yesterday’s paper they claimed that, if approved, Bell’s TV viewing audience (they already own HBO Canada, The Movie Network, and Family among others) will be twice as large as the nearest competitor. Is the ginger group saying this is unfair? A monoply? If so, that’s a strange allegation given that the complainers have community cable licences that could also be called monopolies since any consumer on any given street who wants cable TV can only buy from the one...

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