Overture

Overture

Shanda Deziel,Sue Ferguson May 7 2001
Overture

Overture

Shanda Deziel,Sue Ferguson May 7 2001

Overture

Shanda Deziel

Amy Cameron

Over and Under Achievers

The thing with feathers

Stock: falling! Prince: charming! Andfrom prehistory: paleontology and beauty pageants!

Stockwell Day: Opposition leader can face down caucus revolts, but a poll shows the people, even Albertans, have turned on him, too.

Prince Charles:

Wows throngs on solo Canadian tour, and with foot-and-mouth blighting Britain, his organic farming thing is looking smart.

^ Miss France: Turns out Elodie Gossuin

really is a woman. Phew. Honour of La France and gravitas of i Miss Universe swimsuit contest preserved.

^ New Economy: Canadian high-tech heavyweight JDS Uniphase says it will cut 5,000 jobs—about one-fifth of its workforce.

^ Old Economy: Inco forges ahead with $1.4-billion nickel mine in South Pacific, and is upbeat about Voisey s Bay project in Newfoundland.

^ Dinosaurs: Feathery Chinese fossil find confirms ferocious lizards evolved into birds. Squirrels at backyard feeders, however, still unintimidated.

GONE BIRDING

f hat do Churchill, Man., and New York City have in common? They are both, according to bird enthusiast and artist David Sibley, great places to tap into the Zen of birdwatching. In the northern prairie town one June afternoon in the late '80s, Sibley watched as | thousands of Baird’s sandpipers darkened the sky. The slender, \ straight-billed birds, travelling from their winter abode in the Andes to summer on the Arctic island tundra, arrived en masse seemingly out of nowhere. The experience, he says, provoked a sense of awe: “You can visualize this migration stretching across the curve of the earth and it connects you to the whole globe.” Springtime in Central Park evokes the same response. Gazing at the sty as a massive flock of birds passes overhead, he says, “you realize New York is just a little dot on the globe; it’s not so overwhelming.”

Sibley, 39, is the author of The Sibley Guide to Birds, published by the National Audubon Society. In it, he catalogues and illustrates thousands of birds. But, unlike his 19th-century predecessor, John James Audubon, Sibley has never killed a feathered

friend in order to draw it, preferI ring instead to observe his subƒ jects in their natural habitats.

His ornithological quest has taken him across the continent. In Canada, he says,the hotspots include the Queen Charlotte Islands off British Columbia’s coast-where a distinct climate has spawned a variety of unique subspecies, identifiable by their relatively dark colouring. And rare European varieties that have been blown off course in their annual migration to Greenland and Iceland regularly show up along Newfoundland’s Avalon Peninsula. In Ontario, he directs birders to Point Pelee National Park, the country’s most southerly tip, which is world famous for its broad sampling of unusual birds. Those with a penchant for more common breeds, he says, can head to Niagara Falls, where the lowly seagull-and the tourists-tend to flock.

Sue Ferguson

WHO’S MORE MANLY THAN MANLEY?

Jean Chrétien may be having trouble bonding with the new U.S. president—he golfs, George W Bush fishes—but the Canadian prime minister doesn’t need to look far to find a kindred spirit for Bush. There, within his government, is Foreign Affairs Minister John Manley, also an avid golfer, but more important, a marathon man. Bush congratulated the minister at the Summit of the Americas last weekend for successfully completing the Alcatel National Capital Marathon last year. But the President had a caveat. He kidded Manley over his running time, a snail-like four hours and 31 minutes. Bush bragged that when he ran a marathon after his father had lost the presidency to Bill Clinton, he did it in three hours, 44 minutes. “How old were you?” Manley asked and was told Bush was 47 at the time. “Well, you see that’s the difference,” Manley replied. “I was 50.” In any future marathon Whoa Johnnie!

negotiations over softwood lumber, Manley Bush has got might want to ask for a handicap. you by a mile

THE SNAKE PIT OF LOVE

Come one, come all for a snakeseduction spectacle!

During the first warm days of spring in Narcisse, Man., thousands of snakes surface from their winter slumber to set about seducing and reproducing. For two to three weeks only, 20,000 redsided garter snakes writhe in the pits and fissures of the limestone bedrock, engaging in “mating balls”—a mass of male serpents pursuing a single female. Once satisfied, the snakes disperse through the surrounding countryside.

Close to 25,000 “voyeurs” visit the site during this mating ritual, says Manitoba

Garter snakes Conservation wildlife seducing and technician Dave Roberts.

reproducing “We do get people who are a little apprehensive or downright afraid of them,” he says. “But with a little bit of coaxing and some cautious exposure, some go away with a new appreciation of them.” And a better understanding of what a snake pit the world of serpent sex can be.

Round up the usual suspects

Under his birth name of Douglas Fetherling—he has recently begun to use his middle name to honour the memory of his latefather— Vancouver writer George Fetherling has written or edited 50 books, including two acclaimed volumes of memoirs. His latest is A Biographical Dictionary of the World’s Assassins. Among the intriguing facts he unearthed:

Man of destiny

French president Charles de Gaulle had a wellestablished reputation, at least among exasperated foreigners, of believing he was God’s anointed. Perhaps surviving a record 31 assassination attempts unscathed except for a cut finger—suffered when he brushed some bullet-shat-

tered windshield glass off his shoulder—has that sort of effect.

God save the Queen

In 1842, John Bean, a hunchbacked dwarf standing about a metre tall, tried to shoot Queen Victoria. Deeply serious and quite insane, Bean had loaded the pistol with tobacco. But he did man-

age to create enough commotion to cover his escape, and London police proceeded methodically to arrest every hunchbacked dwarf in the city until they came to him. Bean’s was the third attempt on Victorias life in three years—there were four more over the next four decades.

Natural-born killer?

American Charles Harrelson is currendy serving a life sentence for the 1979 contract killing of a U.S federal judge, his third such conviction. Harrelson, whom many conspiracy theorists believe was in Dallas the day John F. Kennedy was shot, is the father of Hollywood actor Woody Harrelson, star of the 1994 hit Natural Born Killers.

OVERBITES

j “I mean, I could hide a mushroom, j I mean, you know, I don’t eat j mushrooms, but I would know i enough to, you know, not have them j in my bag.”

-Former prime minister Kim Campbell, while on the TV talk show Politically Incorrect with Bill Maher, discusses the arrest of The West Wing creator Aaron Sorkin for possession of hallucinogenic mushrooms

j “It didn’t affect me, but an old ! infantryman always remembers what i tear gas and pot smell like when you walk into the barracks.”

-U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell reacts i to the smell of tear gas at the summit in Quebec City

“On ecstasy, Joan Rivers looks like Pamela Anderson, so imagine what j Pamela Anderson looked like.”

-Rocker Tommy Lee writes in a new Motley Crüe biography, The Dirt, of the first time he met his future ex-wife, Canadian Baywatch \ babe Anderson

Penned from prison

Saskatchewan farmer Robert Latimer, serving a 10-year minimum sentence for second-degree murder in the death of his severely disabled 12-yearold daughter, Tracy, wrote to supporters from prison last month. In the letter, released last week, 48-year-old Latimer celebrates having just received writing materials and permission to telephone his wife, Laura. He worries about the fate of his farm, and though the odds are heavily against him, hopes for an early release through clemency provisions. “I will soon have to rent my farm land out to someone else if I am still here in a week or two,” Latimer writes, later adding, “I can’t help but think I will soon be out of jail.”

For the full text of Robert Latimer’s letter