Category: General

Music of the spheres

A sentence on the front page of my morning paper caught my eye. The story was about the meeting between South Korean President Moon Jae-in with North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un who greeted his visitor while “a brass band played the North Korean leader’s personal arrival song.” Arrival song? Has diplomacy taken on the patina of Major League Baseball where a batter gets to choose the stadium music played as he walks to the plate? For example, Justin Smoak of the Blue Jays takes his practice swings to the sound of Brantley Gilbert’s “The Weekend.” Maybe Kim’s arrival song is simply the modern-day inheritor of campaign...

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The quiet of the crowd

I recently attended a lunch at a downtown Toronto location, one of those events with a quick chicken plate followed by a speaker. All the usual niceties were observed including the rhythmic clapping to welcome the arrival of the head table.There also was an acknowledgement – that has become essential at any public gathering – of the specific indigenous nations who once lived on the site. We even had grace and toasted the Queen. How often do those latter elements feature in a program? And then, a mezzo-soprano was introduced to sing O Canada. I joined in, as I always do. I knew the...

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Vignettes of summer

Everywhere around there are delightful, unusual and a few sad-making things to see, if only you look. A man is standing under a tree with a Longo’s bag of breadcrumbs. Pigeons feed from both of his outstretched hands and on the ground around. A pigeon rests on each of his shoulders, another perches on his hat. He seems becalmed. He could be in Piazza San Marco in Venice. In front of a stone building the flowers of August abound. The hosta and hollyhocks are pretty much over but remaining in full bloom are rudbeckia, begonia and anemone. A woman in...

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The Tao of Pooh

I was lucky as a lad. My father read to me every bedtime. By the time I was four I could read aloud myself although I can remember mispronouncing “gnaw” in the The Adventures of Danny Meadow Mouse by Thornton W. Burgess as “g-naw” with a hard “g” rather than silent. But of all the books that I read in my young life, I would put A. A. Milne’s work at the top of the list for lyrics and characters. Who else could write a poem about a boy called “James James Morrison Morrison Weatherby George Dupree who took great care of his...

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By my so potent art

Martha Henry is spectacular in The Tempest, my favourite Shakespearean play, at Stratford this summer. Prospero was written as a male role, but a few words changed here and there and it suits an actress of Henry’s breadth just fine. It’s also a role that many thespians take on later in life, but at 80 Henry looks as if she has many great years left. As a side note, the first time she was on the Stratford stage was in 1962 – playing Miranda, Prospero’s daughter. The Tempest is a busy play with multiple subplots, but among all of Shakespeare’s works, it...

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Second thoughts

Previously when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spoke, if only briefly, about his alleged groping eighteen years ago, it didn’t seem as if he remembered it. He talked about the day, and the music festival, but the incident? Nothing, nada, rien. Today, following his meeting with Ontario Premier Doug Ford, Trudeau was more responsive and answered several questions from the media on the touchy topic. Correct me if I got the wrong impression, but didn’t it seem that his selective amnesia had abated somewhat? Upon reflection, he now appeared to recall an interaction but concluded that it was not untoward. He even admitted that what a...

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Anything to declare?

It’s alright for Donald Trump to call Justin Trudeau “weak” and “dishonest.” It’s even OK for the president to threaten that there will be no NAFTA. But to claim that Canadians smuggle shoes into Canada that they’ve bought in the U.S., now that’s really hitting close to home. Because it’s true. It is our metier. You can always tell the Canadians in the shopping mall parking lot. They take everything out of the J.C. Penney bags and dump the empty bags in the garbage can. Next, they clip off the price tags, scuff the shoes, and stuff the other purchases into the...

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Sign, sign, everywhere a sign

The first sign what a Doug Ford administration would look like came when the premier-elect decided he would forgo protocol and speak first after polls closed on election night. Rather than be gracious and allow Kathleen Wynne and Andrea Horwath to thank supporters and concede defeat, he played Bigfoot, and launched into his televised remarks less than a minute after Wynne had begun hers. He knew exactly what he was doing; it was a graceless gesture. The second scary thought is that a key advisor to the Ford administration will be former premier Mike Harris. When Harris was in power, he treated Toronto...

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