Memento mori

Along with millions of other Canadians, last night I watched the last concert of The Tragically Hip, broadcast on CBC-TV in its 30-song setlist entirety. I’ve never been a fan of the group, but there I was anyway, because lead singer Gord Downie has terminal brain cancer. That was our last chance to see and hear him. Final tours have a dubious history. Sir Harry Lauder, the Scottish music hall singer, said in 1926: “I have come to that time of life when home is good enough for me, and I will not tour again.” Of course, he did. His...

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Just asking

In the last few days I’ve read an article about how Justin Trudeau was the first to put his hand on his heart when he spoke, a move other politicians have copied. And I’ve read a piece about how a bust of Napoleon or Caesar or somebody famous looked just like our prime minister. Oh, and a friend told me that he saw Trudeau playing with his kids in an Ottawa park on a Sunday morning – just like any other father. Next thing you know, the summer sun dappling on my garage door will create an image of our leader and the...

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A season of lassitude

The Blue Jays are having a great season; more fans are attending than at any time since the early 1990s. Through 56 home games including Sunday, attendance at the Rogers Centre is 2.3 million, up more than 600,000 compared to the same time last year, the biggest year-over-year increase among all major league baseball teams. Everyone’s wearing Jays merchandise. Buying a beer or a hot dog takes forever on line. But what sort of fans are these? Like the Jays, this is my 40th season. I’ve been going since the first ball was tossed out at Exhibition Stadium in 1977 and I’ve never...

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Walk on by

What is fame? Is it honourable, something of heft, reputation, renown or is it just possessed by someone who drives fans to acts of dizzy demonstration? It’s hard to think well of the definition as applied by Canada’s Walk of Fame to its current inductees. You’ve probably stepped on those stars in the sidewalk along King and Simcoe Streets in Toronto’s entertainment district. There are a few truly deserving winners such as Alexander Graham Bell, Mordecai Richler and Team Canada 1972. Some, like Rush, were wise before their time; the rock group was inducted into the Walk well before the Rock and Roll Hall of...

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Citizen Kaine

I like Tim Kaine, Hilary Clinton’s pick for vice-president. I like him so much that I prefer him for president. He’s vibrant, vital, and has a great narrative. There are only 20 Americans who have ever done what he’s done: been a mayor, a governor and a senator. As a Harvard law student, he didn’t work summers at some white-shoe law firm, he volunteered with Jesuit missionaries in Honduras. While he was teaching carpentry to teenagers in that country, they taught him Spanish. Odd, wasn’t it, that when he addressed the crowd in Florida on Saturday, that CNN – who must...

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Scars and gripes

Now that the regular baseball season has begun again, let’s go back to Tuesday’s All-Star Game when Remigio Pereira, one of The Tenors singing Oh Canada, altered two lines. Everybody from Don Cherry on up denounced his lack of pride, passion and patriotism. Pereira’s fellow tenors said he was a “lone wolf” and promptly dumped him from the group. I say, hold on here. Exactly what’s the matter with his substitute wording, “We’re all brothers and sisters, all lives matter to the great.” Nobody can argue with that. Was it the wrong venue? In fact, no American viewer of the pre-game show even saw or...

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Big country, small dreams

Jason Kenney, who was the frontrunner for leader of the Conservative Party, has decided he’ll seek the leadership of the Progressive Conservative Party of Alberta instead. Meaning that he believes Justin Trudeau will be a two-term prime minister. Kenney did not want to languish as leader of the opposition for eight years. One of the might-runs is Brad Wall, premier of Saskatchewan. But premiers don’t do well when they become federal leaders. Of the twenty-two men and one woman who have been PMs, only two had previously been premiers. Both were from Nova Scotia in the nineteenth century: Sir John Thompson and Sir Charles Tupper....

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Summer’s ease

Engaged at the Shaw Festival is the perfect light and frothy play. The farcical comedy was written by W. F. Gilbert, one half of Gilbert and Sullivan, the team who wrote operettas such as H.M.S. Pinafore and The Mikado. I grew up listening to my parents play G&S, on what was then called a hi-fi, but this was my first experience with the Gilbert play that premiered in 1877. The plot, if you can call it that, is launched when Belvawney (played by Jeff Meadows) proposes to Belinda Treherne (Nicole Underhay). They may or may not be married because at the time...

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