Cirque du Soleil OVO review Sunday, Sep 6 2009 

Having seen 15 out of the 20 current shows I believe it is safe to call myself a Cirque veteran. What I enjoy the most out of each show is seeing how they can push themselves with each new show in terms of acts, costumes, characters, etc.

OVO, the newest touring show from Cirque du Soleil, succeeds in each area. The premise of the show is simple. A day in the life of a group of bugs with all their frenzied excitement until a new bug arrives carrying a mysterious egg. The bug takes a liking to a certain member of the group and the feeling is mutual.

The costumes were amazing works of art once again. Sitting up close I was able to notice less of the traditional tight fabric and more of what seemed to be a shell or skin reflecting the insect characters. Some parts of the costumes were removable so the performers could perform their required acts but they all looked like exotic bugs in a field somewhere.

The acts themselves were a wild mixture of old and new with something for everyone in attendance. For the adults there was a subtle eroticism in the pole balancing and flying ropes. The children were enthralled by the costumed characters, the antics of the ants during the foot juggling, and the blossoming love interwoven with the antics of the clowns.

Traditional acts such as the loose wire and the flying act had their envelopes pushed into new realms. Balancing and contortion had changes as well with the addition of an all female balancing group and a spider web addition to the stage which set the backdrop for contortion.

But the best was saved for last when the massive rock wall which served as the backdrop for the stage came into play. It is safe to say that you will not look at a rock climbing wall in the same way again.

One of the biggest changes was the addition of more dancing, taking the place of traditional clowning after a particularly intense act in order to lighten the mood and prepare the audience for the next act.

Aromas were also used to enhance the overall experience. Damp earth to start (a morning dew?) and flowers later on.

The music took on a new approach as well with the musicians themselves taking a more active role in the performance on a couple of occasions stepping out from their traditional area.

There were a number of acts which generated a complete ‘wow’ factor leaving you wondering how much practice, care, trust, and lack of fear went into the creation of the show.

OVO is an excellent addition to Cirque du Soleil’s touring group in which they reinvent themselves once again and push the envelope of their shows on all fronts.

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It is what it Is Wednesday, May 13 2009 

When one looks at the stress tests recently completed by the US government one has to properly filter the noise. The government has released the results and metrics used in the ‘stress tests’ which have been picked apart by many people. You can crunch the numbers and manipulate the statistics all you want but in the end it comes down to loss recognition on bad assets.

Right now there is a tug of war going on between the private sector and the government. On one hand, we have the government looking for greater oversight of the financial sector. On the other hand, we have a banking industry looking to get out from underneath the government’s umbrella believing that they can fix the problems on their own. In this case, both sides are wrong.

The financial sector can be self-policing with a greater emphasis on risk management as is the case in Canada. But the participants in the sector must accept a greater responsibility for their actions and that includes the potential for failure. Capitalism is not about bailouts it is about letting market forces dictate winners and losers.

The government cannot expect to go the route of pay regulation as it will contribute to a brain drain in the financial sector. Just ask anyone working for a Big 4 auditing firm if they are having problems recruiting talent after the Arthur Andersen debacle. This should be a warning to those who seek to regulate items like executive pay.

Sarbanes-Oxley did more harm to the US financial markets by forcing small to medium sized businesses to go private and chased away IPO dollars to markets such as Toronto, London, and Hong Kong.

For those who wish to pursue further regulation in the financial markets, it should be done in a way similar to the regulations which came into effect after the 1987 market crash. In other words, capital formation should not be inhibited in any manner.