Using laughter to revive a struggling community

The National Comedy Center will open its doors on Aug. 1 in Jamestown, N.Y., the birthplace of Lucille Ball

Using laughter to revive a struggling communityIn a Western New York city of about 30,000 residents, a first-of-its-kind attraction dedicated to the art, history and social significance of comedy is set to open. The National Comedy Center will open its doors in Jamestown, N.Y., on Aug 1. More than US$50 million have already been spent in building the brand-spanking-new facility. It’s…

Clothes make the man … until the very end

Women get attached to silly things like grandparents, siblings and their children. Men get misty over Ford Mustangs and underwear

Clothes make the man … until the very endI was recently asked if I kept a diary or a personal journal. I answered that I did not. My lunch companion then wondered aloud how I kept track of the important milestones in my life. Men don’t generally keep diaries. But we do wear clothes and the clothes a man wears throughout life are…

Canadian ‘sleeper agent’ ready to make a run for the border

A country with a very gung ho military that loves to –ahem – drop in on other countries is not to be trifled with

Canadian ‘sleeper agent’ ready to make a run for the borderIs that a puck in your pocket or are you just happy to see me? It’s no secret that President Donald Trump is afraid of Canada. He’s invoked security concerns as a justification for tariffs on steel imports. Never one to express an opinion without the rigorous research that is the hallmark of his presidency,…

Dissent can cross a dangerous line, even when Trump is the target

Raised voices in opposition are an expected and acceptable part of any political fight – raised fists are not

Dissent can cross a dangerous line, even when Trump is the targetNot even a year and a half since Donald Trump was sworn in as the 45th president of the United States, observers in the U.S. and abroad have begun to worry that the man could change America forever. But to believe that one man could inflict permanent and lasting damage on a country that fought…

Bail reform is critical to achieve wider U.S. social justice

Simply not being able to afford to pay the gatekeeper is a positively medieval way to determine who walks free in our modern society

Bail reform is critical to achieve wider U.S. social justiceThink everyone in jail deserves to be there? Think again. Millions of people believe that everyone in jail is probably guilty of something. These ‘law and order’ types embrace incarceration as a deterrent to crime, even if it leads to dangerous and inhumane overcrowding. Challenge them with the facts that deterrence is hardly a given…

Go outside? Only to get from one inside space to another

Human history can be viewed as one long trek toward the inside. Why go outside and ignore all the comforts of progress?

Go outside? Only to get from one inside space to anotherAs spring finally shows signs of settling in, I’ve been told on a few occasions that I should “go outside.” The other day, a co-worker asked me if I had “gone outside” on a recent beautiful Sunday. When I told him I had not, his face fell and he comforted me as though I had…

Golden Knights are the ramen noodles of the NHL

The Golden Knights have defied all conventional wisdom. But they’re not lovable losers and our affection is better spent on another

Golden Knights are the ramen noodles of the NHLWhat can be said about the Vegas Golden Knights that hasn’t been said already? How about this: Their instant success is becoming just a bit annoying. They are the ramen noodles of the National Hockey League. One short year ago, the team didn’t even exist except as a concept. They had a management team in…

Instead of certainty, we should all be longing for a little self-doubt

Instead of living in a time of sober second thought, we exist in a time where the normal and predictable reaction is instant outrage

Instead of certainty, we should all be longing for a little self-doubtIt is a cliché to equate widespread social conflict with times of uncertainty. If only that were so. What ails us now is not living in uncertain times but rather the opposite: certainty abounds, and it is precisely that orientation which will continue to make social and political divisions more acute and less likely to…

Looking through an unusual lens at Ronald Reagan

Movie Nights with the Reagans provides an intimate look at a presidency that continues to influence the political landscape

Looking through an unusual lens at Ronald ReaganLovers of both movies and politics will want to check out a new book Movie Nights with the Reagans by Mark Weinberg. Published by Simon and Schuster, it’s an intimate, heartfelt remembrance of what it was like to share regular weekend movie nights at Camp David in the 1980s with President Ronald Reagan and first lady…

Great White North? How about great Trump snub?

Trump doesn’t want to come to Canada, doesn’t need to come and will gain nothing by coming. Not that we should care

Great White North? How about great Trump snub?Canada often has a different perspective than the rest of the world when it comes to relations with the United States. We see and feel things that might pass unnoticed in other countries. Whether this is because of our one-sided perception that we enjoy a ‘special relationship’ with the U.S. (Americans largely reserve that phrase…

Roseanne brings the blue-collar perspective back to TV

A grossly underrepresented sector of popular culture gets a loud, sarcastic but sympathetic voice

Roseanne brings the blue-collar perspective back to TVLater this month, Roseanne returns to ABC after a 20-year absence. In a nine-episode run starting on March 27, the trials and tribulations of the working-class Conner family of the fictional town of Lanford, Ill., will take centre stage once again. The Hollywood Reporter asks pointedly in a recent headline: “Is TV Ready for a…

Hollywood feeds a fascination with guns that borders on pornographic

As movie stars rush to denounce gun violence, their industry has perpetuated the mythology that such carnage is as American as apple pie

Hollywood feeds a fascination with guns that borders on pornographicEver since actor John Wilkes Booth assassinated President Abraham Lincoln at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, D.C., in 1865, there has been an uneasy relationship between the worlds of entertainment and politics. Of course, no one would equate a political murder with the kind of everyday protesting that usually marks the spot where actors and politicians…

Waiting for the next inevitable mass murder

Too many Americans love their guns too much to ever surrender them simply because a law says they must

Waiting for the next inevitable mass murderLast week saw yet another school shooting in the United States. It has led to the now predictable and oft-repeated reactions on all sides. The public and politicians alike offer prayers, condolences and, frankly, precious little else in the way of concrete plans of action. Highlighted are the always-poignant stories of isolated acts of sacrifice…

Trump: no retreat, no surrender

State of the union address makes it clear the president won't abandon his core principles … or his rhetorical flourishes

Trump: no retreat, no surrenderDonald Trump’s first state of the union address sent a clear message that the president is not prepared to compromise on his fundamental and core beliefs. His long-stated mantra has been to “put America first” and to “make America great” again. If anyone thought he was going to abandon either of those guiding principles to…

Coarsening of public life a reflection of the times we live in

Should we really be surprised – let alone shocked – when our political leaders bring the language of the streets into the corridors of power?

Coarsening of public life a reflection of the times we live inAh, the words we use – do they define us or merely reflect the times we live in? If it seems that the way we speak is becoming less elegant – not to mention less educated – then it might simply reflect the consistent coarsening of society instead of a sign of demons possessing the…
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