OPENING NOTES

BARBARA WICKENS December 18 1995

OPENING NOTES

BARBARA WICKENS December 18 1995

OPENING NOTES

Saving face on the air

Colleen Jones, the Halifax-based weather and sports reporter for CBC Newsworld’s Morning' News, has money problems—of a sort. Last week, the all-news network carried an item about the Royal Canadian Mint in Winnipeg striking the new $2 coin, which will start replacing the $2 note next February.

Jones, 34, joking that the paper currency will soon be garbage, ripped one of them apart on air. To her surprise, she says, she learned later from a crew member that it is illegal to destroy money. Fearing the wrath of the Bank of Canada, Jones displayed the same $2 bill the next day— taped back together. “I’m lucky I didn’t have to pay the $20 fine,” she says.

It is not the first time that Jones, who doubles as a sports reporter with the local CBC-TV evening news, has encountered the vagaries of money laws. In 1993, she wanted to refinish the floor in her now nine-year-old son’s room with photocopies of money—only to discover that it is illegal to reproduce Canada’s legal tender. So instead, Jones used the real thing—gluing a $5 bill and six $2 bills to the floor and then varnishing them over. Says Jones: “The photocopying probably would have cost as much anyway.”

Having it and flaunting it

In a government town like Ottawa, where being understated is the social norm, the Cowplands certainly stand out. Michael, chairman and president of computer graphics software manufacturer Corel Corp., and his wife, Marilyn, live in a 20,000-square-foot mansion in sedate Rockcliffe Park, complete with two squash courts, five bedrooms, and a 10-car underground garage and car wash. Neighbors and the local media have tut-tutted about its size and ostentation ever since they had it built in 1994. Toute Ottawa has been scandalized by the couple’s matching hot pink Porsches. But it is Marilyn—an attractive blond with a penchant for provocative outfits—who attracts most of the opprobrium. But now, Cowpland has ftj found a way to thumb her nose at her critics. The cover of the December issue of the monthly Ottawa Magazine revealingly features her in an ever-soskin-tight red spandex Santa suit.

Photographer Paul Couvrette, a longtime friend who took the couple’s 1992 wedding photos, said he had a terrific time on the new assignment. “She really vamped it up,” he adds. “She just told me, ‘If they think I'm a bimbo, let’s have some fun with it.’ ”

Car crashes by Cronenberg

Toronto motorists have long joked that there are only two seasons in the city— winter and construction—and they both tie up traffic. Perhaps it is time to add a third season to the list: movie-making. Local commuters may have assumed that some of Toronto’s major expressways have been closed at night for the past 10 weeks for repair work. The reason, in fact, is that hometown director David Cronenberg has been staging elaborate accident scenes for his new movie, Crash. The film, based on a 1973 novel of the same name by British writer J. G. Ballard and starring Holly Hunter and James Spader, is about sex and cars—although not in the usual sense. Its characters are sexually obsessed with car wrecks. “Crash is about technology and eroticism,” says Cronenberg.

The production used 63 stunt drivers and 225 vehicles, 25 of which were demolished. But Cronenberg stresses that Crash is not an action movie. Although he did film two head-on collisions, most of the smashed vehicles were pre-wrecked then arranged in post-crash tableaux. The most spectacular, staged at the intersection of the Don Valley Parkway and the Gardiner Expressway, involved a Greyhound bus that appeared to have had its roof sheared open by a Lincoln Continental. But from now on, if motorists witness such havoc, it may be the real thing. The Crash crew called it a wrap last week.

Reduce, recycle, buy and sell

Over the past decade, recycling has grown from a labor of environmental love to big business. So much so, in fact, that the Chicago Board of Trade has launched an electronic Recyclables Exchange to handle various grades of glass, paper and plastic in the same way that pork bellies and corn bushels are traded. For a $1,400 annual fee, buyers and sellers can trade on the exchange through their own

computers. Postings on an on-line bulletin board include details on materials, type, quantity, quality and price. Kiki Melonides, spokesman for the new venture, said about 300 users have participated during the first six weeks of operation, including 100 subscribers conducting trades and others using the “view only” access to check out how the market is developing. Most of the buying and selling by manufacturers, municipalities, haulers and others has centred on plastic milk jugs, newsprint, and other recovered paper. One man’s garbage is another man’s commodity.

Vancouver spawns a whale of a link

Finally, a use for cellular phone technology that does not involve annoying everyone within earshot on the street, in restaurants, even in movie theatres. Scientists at the Vancouver Aquarium have launched WhaleLink, a project using the technology to track the seasonal routes of killer whales off the coast of British Columbia. Various family groups, or pods, of the giant mammals are known to frequent particular waters in the warmer months, but scientists want more precise information about where each pod spends

the winter. If scientists can discover that, says marine biologist John Ford, they will be better able to protect the whales’ habitats. To that end, Ford and his associates at the Aquarium are placing special microphones, called hydrophones, in the waters the whales are already known to frequent near Haro and Johnstone Straits, between Vancouver Island and the mainland. The hydrophones will pick up the undersea language of the whales as they

pass by in their pods. The sounds will activate cellular phones above the waterline, which turn will automatically call the aquarium. “Each pod has its own distinct dialect,” says Ford, “and to be able to listen to them communicate in their natural home is quite amazing.” these circumstances, at least, eavesdropping seems quite the proper thing to do.

BARBARA WICKENS