Yearly Archive: 2014

The rebound of Rob Ford

The news that Rob Ford has an abdominal problem changes everything about the Toronto mayoralty race. There he was, a confessed addict, vituperative night owl and bad-assed coach, yet one-quarter of the population was still behind him. Imagine the bump in the polls this recent diagnosis will bring him. It could be a sympathy vote, but any politician would happily accept such an outpouring. In his biography of Thomas D’Arcy McGee, the father of Confederation who was assassinated in 1868, author David Wilson says that McGee’s death was his best career move. Before that, McGee had been in poor health...

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Books for life

A reader has written to say how tough it is to find good business biographies. He’s enjoying Driven to Succeed, the book about Frank Hasenfratz I co-authored with Susan M. Papp, and wondered if I could recommend others. Here are six of my favourites: Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson; Harrison McCain by Donald Savoie; The Reichmanns by Anthony Bianco; A Gentleman of the Press by Floyd Chalmers; Titan, Ron Chernow on John D. Rockefeller; and Iacocca, the 1984 book by William Novak that set the standard for ghost-written business memoirs. Books have deep meaning in my life. I was lucky enough to...

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The merits of mediocrity

A year ago, there were six female premiers in Canada. Now, for various reasons, there are only two. Life remains tough at the top for women in the professions, too. Of the 193 Lexpert Ranked Lawyers pictured in the ROB Magazine distributed today, only 15 per cent are women. And this in a field where for two decades women have comprised 50 per cent of the law school graduates. Some of the banks and other corporations are making progress with female director appointments following a push by the Ontario Securities Commission, but full boardroom equality remains a distant, forlorn hope....

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Your money or your life

The current ruckus between retail giant Amazon.com and publisher Hachette will have a huge impact on the publishing industry. Amazon already dominates the retail book business. There used to be numerous bookstores along Bloor Street over the 10 km between my house in the west end and Yonge Street in downtown Toronto. Now there is one. To date, no one has given much consideration to authors, nor is that likely to change. A group of 900 authors took out a full-page ad last week in the New York Times to protest Amazon’s monopoly power, but the public won’t rally to the...

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Robin Williams 1951-2014

The suicide of Robin Williams is a chilling reminder of what’s important in life and what’s not. The only time I ever saw Williams in person was in Florence a decade ago. He was ambling alone along Via dei Calzaiuoli, one of the pedestrian streets in the city’s historic centre, carrying a large Dolce & Gabbana shopping bag. Despite dark glasses and a stubble beard, he was instantly recognizable. People were gawking at him and popping out of shops for a better look. His body language was fascinating. His eyes were fixed on the pavement two metres ahead. Every once in...

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A tale of two teams

On my way to the Blue Jays game last night, I caught up and passed another fan wearing an Arencibia shirt, the worst-hitting catcher we’ve ever had. We traded J.P. to Texas but he got his vengeance when he clubbed a three-run homer last time he was through town. Anyway, I asked this man, “How are we going to do tonight?” To which he replied, “Depends on which team shows up.” Indeed. The Bad Blue Jays showed up and we lost 9-3. I’ve been down to the ballpark nine times so far this season and the Bad Blue Jays have...

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Shavian success

Never take seriously what a theatre critic says. That’s never been more true than it is about The Philanderer, now playing at the Shaw Festival. Robert Cushman of the National Post tells chapter and verse about the plot but never quite gets around to saying whether he likes the play or not. At one point he even says he’s going to plagiarize himself from a 2007 review by joking he “would never have joined any club that would have me as a mentor.” Of course, Cushman is also sampling Groucho Marx, not just himself.  Globe and Mail critic J. Kelly Nestruck’s...

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Make mine sugar-free

My problem with Sugar Beach is not the three dozen pink umbrellas that cost $11,000 each or the $500,000 spent on decorative rocks. No, my problem is that you feel like an idiot sitting in one of those white Muskoka chairs with nothing much to do and even less to look at. Mind you, I’m fair-skinned so sun tanning is taboo, but what kind of a beach has no access to nearby Lake Ontario for wading or swimming? Moreover, since there’s no place to walk, there’s no way to admire bikinis going by, either. Depending how early you arrive, your...

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