Opening Notes

Tanya Davies,D’Arcy Jenish July 19 1999

Opening Notes

Tanya Davies,D’Arcy Jenish July 19 1999

Opening Notes

Tanya Davies

Toronto holiday

Since it was painted 400 years ago, St. John the Baptist, a masterpiece by Italian artist Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, has been in Rome. Considered a cultural treasure in Italy, the painting has hung in the worlds oldest public museum, the Capitoline, since 1750. But now St. John is going on a road trip. The work is one of 21 Renais-

sance, Mannerist and Baroque masterpieces from the Capitoline to be shown at Toronto’s Art Gallery of Ontario in an exhibit entitled The Old Masters. The exclusive exhibition will run from July 15 to Sept. 12. “We are thrilled and honoured,” says AGO curator Martha Kelleher, “that we are the only Canadian venue for this show.”

The centrepiece of the exhibit is definitely St. John the Baptist—and Caravaggio (1571 to 1610). “He was

one of the most original and influential painters of the 17th century,” says Kelleher. “Plus, he was a bit of a bad boy. For a lot of people, this is a oncein-a-lifetime opportunity to see the famous Caravaggio.” Come fall, the painting will be carefully packed in a crate and returned to Italy, where it may stay another four centuries before leaving home again.

Girl power run amok

Posh Spice may have to change her name —and not to Mrs. Beckham—now that she is married. Tacky or Decadent Spice might be more suitable. The day after Posh’s—her real name is Victoria Adams—July 4 nuptials with Manchester United soccer star David Beckham, details of the over-the-top event were leaked to British tabloids: his and her thrones and Posh’s $280,000 tiara (she reportedly wanted to out-jewel Sophie Rhys -Jones’s wedding crown). But most outra-

geous was the figure on top of the wedding cake: a sculpture of the happy couple frolicking naked, except for some discreetly placed vines. And readers didn’t have to wait long for the wedding photos either. Though the couple had signed an exclusive picture deal worth $2.3 million with the British magazine OKI, the London Sun newspaper ran grainy shots last week. Since tight security stopped paparazzi gate-crashers, suspicion quickly fell on the videographer Posh hired to capture her special day. Now, she is Outraged Spice.

Opening Notes

Springer in Montreal: what a joke

Jerry Springer has seen almost everything during his tenure as host of North Americas most tawdry television talk show. Sexual deviance, adultery and drug abuse are typical topics. And swearing and brawling is commonplace. But on July 21, Springer will sample a new strain of relationship when he hosts a parody entitled, “My Lover is a Separatist” at Montreal’s Just

For Laughs Festival. The skit, which will kick off the gala opening of the 11 -day event, promises surprise guests and, as per Springer standards, at least one lesbian. Festival producer Andy Nulman tried to court politicos such as Jean Charest and Stéphan Dion, but failed to bag them.

This year’s Just For Laughs, the world’s largest comedy event, boasts a number of firsts for the festival. Singer Jann Arden, who worked briefly as a comedian early in her career, is set to host “Eve’s Tavern,” an evening of women’s comedy. Springer, meanwhile, is poised to sing. Although he prefers country and western numbers, “We’re trying to edge him closer to Celine Dion,” cracks Nulman. Male talk-show host turned Québécois chanteuse? Sounds like the makings for a vintage Springer slugfest.

Opening Notes

Explorer

Must-see TV

For most Canadians, the printed page is still the primary source for their television listings. Each week, TV Guide sells over 740,000 copies across the country, and most major newspapers include a copy of their own television guide with the weekend paper. But electronic programming guides are beginning to challenge their supremacy. Cable television executives forecast that, by year’s end, 190,000 subscribers will be renting new set-top boxes

Programming guide: built in to the TV

containing data receivers and processors that permit the display of customized onscreen listings. And over the past year, Thomson Consumer Electronics Canada of Mississauga, Ont., has been marketing RCA and Prosean television sets with built-in equipment to display electronic guides. With a hand-held remote, viewers can scan up to seven days of listings, program their TVs to turn on at a set time and channel, and call up menus devoted specifically to sports, movies or children’s programs. One more reason to fight over the remote.

The spoken word

Forgot to write that important memo before hitting the beach in the Bahamas? Don’t worry. Thanks to management consultant Robert Cox, people can now pen memos no matter where they are— as long as they have access to a phone.

Cox has created what he calls the “world’s first Internet-based transcription company”—MobileWord Communications in New Rochelle, N.Y. For a fee of $5.15 per page, people can call MobileWord on an 800-number, dictate their message and retrieve a written copy the following morning from the Internet. The company uses computer software called TrueSpeech that records the human voice digit ally. Each day’s messages are electronically bundled and sent over telephone lines to processing sites in Nova Scotia, Ireland, South Africa and India where more than 500 employees, known as CyberScribes, listen to the recordings and type them. They are then deposited in mailboxes on the company Web site, where customers can download copies and pass them off as their own hard work.

Staying connected

Perfect for the busy business person— or popular teenager—Waterloo, Ont.based Research In Motion has developed an interactive pager that functions like a wearable personal computer. The Inter@ctive Pager 950, which retails for $549, is a two-way messaging device that sends and receives e-mail, faxes and pages. Measuring six by nine centimetres, and just under 2.5-cm thick, the battery-operated device contains an eight-line screen and a tiny keyboard designed to be struck with the thumbs. It transmits and receives messages over the Cantel digital wireless network and comes with its own e-mail address. With the addition of an upgraded software package, which sells for $549, the device can be integrated with a desktop PC so that one e-mail address serves both. And a personal information manager program, containing an address book, calendar and task list, can be downloaded from a desktop computer. Other applications for interactive pagers that are coming soon from North American companies: remote stock trading and sports scores from the Internet. There is also the promise of remote weather forecasts— but not necessarily any guarantees of greater accuracy.

Opening Notes

Digital memories on display

First there was the Memory Stick, a digital storage device about the size of a piece of chewing gum, introduced last fall by Sony Corp. Now, the consumer electronics giant has unveiled a family of pricey photographic products designed around the stick. The Cyber-shot Digital Still Camera— which retails at $1,499—can capture up to 200 images in either colour or black-and-white, which can be stored on the Memory Stick. The device can

Cyber-shot camera, printer; Digital Handycam, another Memory Stickcompatible product (below): images

then be inserted into a Digital Photo Printer, which sells for $999. The printer can be connected to a television and the images displayed on-screen. Or, the Memory Stick can be used in a product called the Photo Frame ($1,399), which displays the images on a 14-cm screen. Photo Frame can be programmed so the picture changes automatically like a slide show, as often as every three seconds. Warning: entertaining the audience is still the responsibility of the user.

D’Arcy Jenish