Overture

Overture

Anthony Wilson-Smith,Shanda Deziel,Patricia Treble January 22 2001
Overture

Overture

Anthony Wilson-Smith,Shanda Deziel,Patricia Treble January 22 2001

Overture

@macleans.ca

Edited by Anthony Wilson-Smith with Shanda Deziel

Over and Under Achievers

‘Earthlings, stay home!’

All the news we choose to print: The PM’s best birthday gift! Baby, is that your Jeep? Aliens snub earthlings! And a new way to monkey around!

Lucien: Old theme song, Gens du Pays. New theme, California, Here I Come. Sovereignty’s out, but surf’s up!

♦ Jean Chrétien: Quebec preem quits on PM’s birthday. Now what will he wish for next year?

“Reality-based” TV: Latest series offers couples chance to cheat on each other with waiting posse of attractive, available singles. It’s aimed at guys who think those letters to Penthouse are true.

^ Space aliens: Australian scientist says extraterrestrials likely

exist—but won’t bother contacting us because we’re too dumb. And they haven’t even seen an episode of Survivor II yet.

+ Designer monkeys: Scientists create the world’s first genetically modified primate—an infant monkey. OK, so maybe the aliens will want to see him.

^ Jeep strollers: Manufacturer of world’s most famous SUV will make vehicles for babies. Because it’s never too early to teach your tot about road rage.

HOT DOC

Here comes the spawn

David Schmugge, a Pizza Hut worker in Falls Church, Va., says there are months when he has survived on minimal amounts of food so he can purchase every action figure created by Todd McFarlane. Schmugge, 25, whose room is filled with 1,475 figurines, is a die-hard fan of the 39-year-old Calgary-born comic-book artist and toy maker. The dedication of Schmugge and the accomplishments of McFarlane himself can be seen in The Devil You Know: Inside the Mind of Todd McFarlane—a profile that airs on CBC on Jan. 23 at 7 p.m.

Kenton Vaughan, a Toronto documentary filmmaker and business journalist, approached McFarlane about making the film after reading about him in Forbes. “Here was this successful Canadian comic-book artist who was a corporate rebel,” says Vaughan, “and I had never heard of him before.” That was in 1996, before McFarlane raised his profile with the $3-million (U.S.) purchase of Mark McGwire’s record-setting 70th home-run baseball in 1997.

McFarlane was a promising baseball player until he hurt his ankle in college and turned to drawing. After landing a job at Marvel Comics, he revitalized the Spider-Man character. He then started his own publication, Spawn—currendy the No. 1 comic book in North America. And since 1994, he has sold over 50 million action figures—including NHL players, movie monsters and heavy-metal rockers. McFarlane says such success is only “a byproduct of doing a good job with art.” But Vaughan insists he is a brilliant businessman who “doesn’t take no for an answer.” And, like many of his fans, McFarlane remains a boy at heart who loves his toys.

They got the beat

This past August, British Columbia poet Shane Koyczan made a slam dunk. Then an Okanagan University College student, he travelled to Providence, R.I., for the annual National Poetry Slam and won first prize. As a competitor, Koyczan performed six original poems—replete with finger-snapping and sometimes expansive gestures, but free of props, costumes and music. “It’s not like a regular poetry reading with people sipping wine and wearing black berets,” says Koyczan, 25. “It’s rowdy—people yell and scream for their favourite poem.”

Canadian slammers are part of a burgeoning alternative literary community. It also includes spoken-word artists, who perform their poetry—often accompanied by music and props—and electronic literature writers. The latter use Web sites to display their work—allowing the audience to view alternative versions of their poems or even help with the writing. The current scene, says Paul Seesequasis, spoken and electronic words program officer for the Canada Council, “is a direct relative of the ’50s beat generation and

poets like Jack Kerouac. In the ’60s, it took the form of protest. Then it waned in the ’70s and ’80s with disco stuff. In the ’90s, it came back with punk, grunge and zines.”

The program offers $450,000 in funding annually to French and English literary and electronic performance artists. Ian Ferrier of Montreal is using $10,000 of the program’s funding to release a compilation of spokenword performances by women. Ferrier believes with this program in place, the community, “is going to really blossom.” But don’t break out the berets just yet.

Related links: http://www.poetryslam.com/ (U.S. National Poetry slam site) http:/'/'www. edgewisecafe. org/

(Vancouver electronic literature site)

Overbites

“Fde told her that she had no right to go against nature. So I have to admit that in a way,

I owe my life to that priest.”

-Celine Dion tells how a local parish priest convinced her mother, who already had 13 children, not to abort her.

“In May and June of 1997, in Toronto, a baby whose situation had been called to the attention of the Catholic Childrens Aid Society and who was living with his mother in a group home, died of starvation. Fdow could that possibly happen ?”

-Ontario Crown attorney John Sutherland describes the death of 35-day-old Jordan Desmond

Heikamp. His mother, Renee, and an aid worker have been charged with criminal negligence causing death.

A judge later dropped the charges.

Victoria’s secret: she’s not so dour

Mention Queen Victoria and many people picture a dour woman in perpetual mourning for her husband, Prince Albert. But at the centenary of her death—on Jan. 22, 1901— some other facts about Canadas first post-Confederation Queen:

Fier father, Edward,

Duke of Kent, died when she was eight months old.

Victoria was raised in genteel poverty by her German mother.

é She was 18 when her uncle William IV died and she became the new monarch. Her reign would last 63V2 years.

4 She was a gifted painter, and Felix Mendelssohn said she had the finest amateur singing voice he ever heard.

4 There were seven assassination attempts on her life—the first in 1840 and the last in 1882.

Through the marriages of her nine children into the royal houses of Europe, her descendants are now on the thrones of Britain, Denmark, Norway, Spain and Sweden. é Her descendants are so numerous (39 grandchildren alone) that the first 50 people in line to the British throne are from just one grandchild, George V. é Canadian connections: while Victoria never visited Canada, her father did military service here, and one of her sons and a son-in-law were governors general.

Patricia Treble

Sound like anyone you know?

“The rumours of his impending retirement, which cropped up frequently, were never true, but they were seldom groundless. Some of them followed private conversations in which [prime minister Lester] Pearson made no secret of how weary he was, and how stale and flat his new job seemed to him. He hung on, his friends suggest, mainly because he couldn’t stand the idea of Paul Martin [Sr.] taking over the party.”

-from an April 6,1963, Maclean's article entitled “The puzzling—to almost everybody-personallty of Lester B. Pearson"