Sunday, 8 June 2014

Sci-Fi Movie The Moon Would Have Been Put Into Orbit

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... If the Litton Logo Police Were Still Patrolling Outer Space
but say what you want it still looks like a man on a toilet

Logo for Sci-Fi Movie The Moon

I was never a card carrying member of the Logo Police when I worked at Litton Systems Canada Ltd and later at Litton Industries.  Oh, I did a bit of sleuthing for the Force now and again, sniffing out internal fliers, memos and shower invitations that took liberties with the Li.  But, when it came to taking on companies that monkeyed with our trademarked symbols, it was a crack team of lawyers and PR directors from both sides of the border who manned the walls firing off lawsuits and writs at anything that moved.
Hollywood's man on toilet logo

Pre-Internet, a logo, its pantone colours and its careful designed typeface were as much a part of the company treasures as the patents for everything from dithering mechanism in ring laser gyros to the secret recipe of the chicken pot pie sold by Stouffers back in the sixties (when Litton owned Stouffers hotels, their frozen foods and their chunk of the Cleveland Indians). 

In the 70s and early 80s Litton Industries and all its divisions used a stylized i atop a capital L. In Canada, our division was allowed to put the Li inside a maple leaf (see picture of the logo on a shoe bag we used to handout at trade shows).  

As I heard it after I (unsuccessfully) moved down to corporate, Maple Leaf outline or not, the Li logo was doomed when a member of the Board in Beverly Hills opined that he thought the logo looked like a man sitting on a toilet.

The infamous Li Logo

Within the PR world it was a giant stop-the-presses moment. All around the Free World our martinis were put down. Our Export A's were left to smoulder in executive dining room ashtrays. Slide projectors were fired up and everyone careful examined the Li logo.  

Who would question a board member? Every man, woman and AI module suddenly agreedthat the Li did look a man sitting on a toilet.  
The logo that replace the Li

It didn't take long before all the divisions worldwide were flushing the toilet logo for a simple Litton with conjoined tees and an overly tall i.  Logo police were given scorched earth orders.  Soon no Li was to be found on building signs, PN and SN plates, letterheads and in our case in Toronto even service award clocks. 

So thorough was the removal, the only Li I could find in my collection of Litton ephemera is that same shoe bag mentioned previously.

I was watching the sci-fi movie "Moon" on Netflix last Wednesday evening. It was a good British yarn about a bad American company. Lunar Industries had a mining operation on the moon. They were using short shelf life clones to do their work.

I couldn't enjoy the film because every time I saw Lunar Industries' logo on moon vehicle bumper, I had an uncontrollable urge to unfreeze the Litton Logo Police and get them back to work.  You see the Lunar Industries logo was everywhere on the moon and it was a logo we have all see before. The Lunar Industries Li and the Litton Industries LI are only an orbit or two apart.

And you know, sitting here in my attic office looking up at the waning moon through my tiny little window, I can't help but think that be it down here or up there, the Li still looks like a man sitting on a toilet.


Pix of the logo on a give-away shoe bag. Popular at air shoew and bowling lanes around the Free World



Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Scuba Diver Gets ID Tattoo On Tooth Implants (Just In Case)



Shark Encounter Has Diver Using The Word Of Mouth
(Sent to Toronto Sun for consideration)

Backside of Stephen Weir's Dental Implant. Some numbers obscured for privacy

If you can see my social insurance number, it means you are my dentist, or I am dead. Eaten by a shark. Lost at sea. Or, maybe I was onboard an exploding airplane that somehow missed the crushed coral runway on a distant atoll.

Late last year I got my Toronto dentist to tattoo my social insurance number onto the backside of my new upper left implant. You can’t see it without a mirror and me opening my mouth wide.

It wasn’t cheap. But, as a diver who has had a few close calls underwater (all of them my fault), the tattoos give me peace of mind knowing that if my body washes up on a faraway beach, or if fishermen find my jaw in the gut of a shark, there is a good chance I will be identified and my remains returned home for cremation.

I have had two encounters with sharks over the past decade – a large Tiger Shark in the Gulf of Mexico and a pair of small Great Whites that I accidentally got between while they were feeding on baby sea lions just off shore in the Galapagos Islands.  Both encounters left me shaken; concerned about my own mortality and the real fear my body (or what is left of it) will never be identified.

Dental outfits in the United States specializing in making ceramic and gold implants, crowns and bridges, know about this fear and are now able to put custom artwork in your mouth.  Here in Canada there aren’t many companies offering the service. My dentist, Toronto's  Dr Evelyne Bourrouilh was originally going to place an identification chip (similar to what pet owners use to tag their dogs and cats) on my implant but opted for the tattoo when she found a local lab willing to permanently mark the tongue side of soon-to-be-installed ceramic tooth. The picture you see above was taken just before the two-tooth tooth implant was screwed into my upper jaw.

“Our first request for a dental tattoo was by an airline stewardess in about 1990. She requested that her initials be engraved on her crown, so that her body could be easily identified if the plane crashed. We put her initials on her molar and she was thrilled,” says Tom Kowalkowski, the president of Westbrook Dental Studio in Chicago.  I contacted his company when I  first went looking for a tooth tat – however I decided to work with my dentist and a lab in my home city.

“Anyone can get a tooth tattoo on their crown, bridge, or dental implant,” he continues. “The tattoo stays on your tooth permanently if you want it to be there, but if you want to get rid of the tooth tattoo, your dentist can grind it off in a matter of minutes.”

There are a growing number of labs in the US that work with dentists to put the small tattoos on manufactured teeth.  Dentists and their patients choose suitable artwork  -- fraternity letters are popular and so are cartoon characters – or they can design their own.  The implants and crowns are delivered to the labs and the tats are put into the surface of the ceramic teeth and then returned to your dentist for insertion.

The cost in the US can run from $85 to $200 more per tooth.   The lab that my dentist found in Toronto charged about $300 to print my SIN number, like a stain, onto my porcelain implant. It was then covered in a clear porcelain and baked until it became part of the tooth.

When viewed in a mirror the SIN numbers are backward.  I probably should have had them done the other way! No worries I still have four more implants on the way. My next tat? My email address frontward and backwards and my website URL!


Brucie, the Shark (Jaws Ride at Universal Studio)


MY LAST CLOSE ENCOUNTER

Tigers, Great Whites and the Galapagos Sharks have been known to attack divers.  They don’t necessarily intend to eat the neoprene wrapped human, but the simple act of tasting is usually fatal.  I survived my meetings intact but they left me with a deep concern that I might die diving and that my remains might not be found and identified for a long time.

In the case of the Tiger Shark, it was late summer in 2013 and I was diving with three experienced Fort Myers divers– a cop, a bondsman and female underwater archaeologist. We were three hours out into the Gulf of Mexico from Sanibel Island. It was hot, the seas were up and storm clouds were blowing through the area. We jumped into the sea, grabbed onto the anchor line and pulled ourselves downwards. The boat was empty, bouncing in the incoming waves. My companions were going to spearfish; I was going to photograph them catching their dinners.

There was an artificial reef made from long concrete pilings 60 feet down. Before we reached the bottom  we were surrounded by frenzied schooling fish madly swimming between our legs, over our arms and buzzing past our heads. 

Fish faces don’t usually show expression, but, these metre long fish looked frantic, and with good reason.  As we punched through the thrashing ring we could see through the gloom a large 8 ft tiger shark herding the fish. Behind the tiger were four smaller sharks, including a 6 ft bull shark. They were the next step down in the food chain – following the hunting tiger for bloody seconds.

We touched bottom and instinctively formed a circle, our backs touching and fronts facing the lazily circling sharks. I had a cop on one side and a huge bails bondman on the other. The young archeologist was gone, she had somehow gone missing.

The sharks continued to circle us in the gloomy warm turbid water, just within eyesight. Spear guns were put away and through pointing and sign language we decided to surface, hoping to find our companion on the boat.

Swimming upward we encountered a strong current. Breaking the surface we looked for the craft.  Rough seas had pushed us a mile away from the anchored dive boat.  It was so far away we could only see the boat when we bobbed on the crest of a wave and looked down at her in the trough of another wave.

With waves splashing hard into our faces, we had to continue to breath through our regulators as we started a long difficult swim against the current. It was a tough slog, made more difficult by the sharks that swam 2 or 3 feet directly below us. My companions disappeared under the waves several times to push at the pesky sharks with the butt ends of their guns.

It took 40-minutes to almost reach the stern of the boat. A few feet from safety I ran out of air.  I was dragged to the ladder by my buddy. Climbing into the boat I called down into the cabin for our fourth diver. No answer. She wasn’t there.

We all stood and searched the horizon for a dive safety sausage (a 10ft tall signaling device). North. South. East and West. Nothing. We were going to issue a May Day when suddenly we could hear her yelling far off the stern.

Our missing diver was coming home. She swam through the same sharks that had escorted us to the boat. She climbed exhausted aboard.  Smaller and lighter than we oversized men, the current blew her farther away from the boat as she surface.

It was a long, bumpy butt-busting ride back to Sanibel Island.  Three hours in 6 ft swells.  Time enough to plan my next dental visit.

POST TOOTH TATTOO

Shortly after completing this blog I decided that it was time that I slowed down a bit, and avoided life-threatening adventures.  So, in April, when I got permission from the Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge to take part in one of only two yearly public visiting days, my wife and I flew off to tour the rain forest preserve on the slopes of Mona Kea (where the Canadian observatory is located) on the Big Island, Hawaii.  It was 4-wheel drive only invitation limited to about 80 people. We meet up with bird experts and photographers from across the State. We were assigned to a Hawaiian University bird expert and set out down the mountain to find and photograph endangered birds.

Our companions saw four of the seven endangered forest birds--the `akia pola`au, the Hawaii `akepa, the Hawaii creeper, and the `io-.  I didn’t see any. Too small. Too high in the canopy. 

Of course I didn’t spend much time looking, because we left the park early. I had climbed a small incline to look for an ‘akepa, I slipped and fell hard on my ankle. It was broken.

I suppose the other bird watchers got to see my tooth tat; my mouth was open wide when I yelled out in pain.  But they were probably too annoyed to look - I had scared off the birds with my yelp. I didn’t get any bird pictures. I didn’t get any sympathy.  I did get an air cast though and once it is off I am going back to shark diving. It is safer.


Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Social Media Postings About My Recent Trip to the Wilds of Hawaii

Yes I broke my @#&£§≤#! ankle birdwatching in the rainforest

A NOTE ABOUT TOMORROW'S LUNCH


Dear John and Alex:

Last Saturday got permission to get into the Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge on The Big Island of Hawaii. The huge, usually off-limits Hakalau Rain Forest is located on the  windward side of the  Mauna Kea volcanic mountain between 2,500 and 6,500 feet above sea level.
This year the Forest is only open to the general pubic twice (up from once-a-year). Four-wheel drive required. It is down the mountain from  a dozen observatories including the Canada France Hawaii Telescope.
Anyway, got to the rainforest early and my wife and I joined a Hawaii University Ecology professor and went into the forest looking for tiny colourful songbirds. The 32,000 acre preserve was established in 1985 to protect endangered birds and native Hawaiian plants.
Our mission was to find and photograph 'akepa, the 'akiapola'au, the 'i'wi and the 'apapane - all unique and rare Hawaiian rain forest birds. 
We were with serious bird watchers, none of whom found it funny when I yelled out "Lophophanes" and pointed my binoculars at the chest of our male guide's rather large man boobs.  We all know that Lophophanes are a rare species of tit birds, so you'd think these birders would have cracked up at my joke. They didn't. (Sorry to Victoria's husband ***, but Hawaiian birders are boring, and without a sense of humour and yes they judge you by the size of your binoculars.)
Anyway, traveling down the mountain we came to a hill where our leader had spotted an endangered bird that was too small to see (or photograph) with a name I couldn't pronounce.  We climbed up the slope to peer up into the rain forrest canopy. I stepped on a loose lava rock, twisted around on my ankle first to the left and then to the right and fell down on the ground. I was yelling bad words. Loudly.
US forest ranger (l) and birder look for endangered birds
The other birders shushed me as I lay on the ground. My pain swears were scaring away the birds.
Our tour leader, still smarting from the tit comment, yelled out "look a Megascops Kennicottii", and pointed his binocs at me.  Big laughs this time. However I wasn't being a screech owl I was more a Limpkin (the household crying bird).
Forest rangers got me out aboard a Federal four wheel drive and took me to the park base where two buff EMS guys bandaged, iced and examined my hurt ankle. Said it was a strain. Sent me on my way.

Believed them. Walked around Hawaii for the next week making people retch at the sight of my purple toes. 
Got back to YYZ Thursday morning - saw my doctor who said it was broken.  Got a cast on Friday and this morning I got more treatment and clean bandages at Sunnybrook Hospital. Getting an air cast next Monday. Back at work immediately after the plaster dried.  Hard going but people are lining up to buy me sympathy beers - hint hint.
Look forward to seeing you both at lunch, it has been a long time. We need a booth that can accommodate crutches.  


BTW: Never birding again, going back to shark diving. 


Stephen

*** Last name of birder removed to protect the identity of an  innocent



Five Weeks Later .....


First One Down The Hill Gets a Broken Ankle
Not to dwell on my broken foot .... but, five weeks later I got around to downloading the pictures from my pocket sized waterproof back-up camera. The picture above was taken as or just after I fell down a hill while taking pictures of endangered birds in a usually off-limits US government rain forest on the Big Island (Hawaii). 

Great picture but so no worth it! ( wish my ankle was as tough as my Olympus Tough camera which took this shot without any help from me).



WHAT DO YOU FIND AT THE TOP OF THE TALLEST HAWAII MOUNTAIN? POPULAR FACEBOOK POSTING BY SWEIR


Snowman and Selfies On Top of Hawaii's Tallest Mountain - composite photo by Stephen Weir

There are a dozen scientific observatories built on the summit of Mauna Kea on The Big Island, Hawaii. The telescopes, including the Canada France Hawaii Telescope, have been built there because of the altitude, the clear skies and the isolation of being in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. 
We drove (four wheels only allowed on this road too) to see the observatory complex last week. We walked from the parking lot up an additional 200ft in elevation along a narrow dirt trail to reach the actual top of Mauna Kea mountain at about 14,000 ft above sea level.
Maria Nenadovich took this picture of me at the top
It wasn't a tough climb and my wife and I found it interesting albeit very chilly. On our way to the top we saw Hawaii's only snowman. Without a cloud in the sky (all below us) and no pollution, the view of the telescopes was beyond a Kodak moment.

BTW: As we summited we walked past two women busily taking selfies above the clouds!

WHEN THE WORD STOP ISN'T POWERFUL ENOUGH - FLICK'R

Took this last week in the State of Hawaii. Note that there is a large bush right beside the intersection of a plaza parking lot. Given how many people leave their driving skills behind them when they enter a parking lot, the owners probably figured Whoa is a better word than stop. Worked for me!

Photo: When Stop isn't a powerful not word!

Took this last week in the US. Note that there is a large bush right beside the intersection of a plaza parking lot.   Given how many people leave their driving skills behind them when they enter a parking lot, the owners probably figured Whoa is a better word than stop. Worked for me!

TIGER SHARKS AND HAWAIIAN BOARDERS - FLICK'R


At the Kona town pier there is a sign posted for blue water boaters asking them to report any sightings of floating dead whales. The island doesn't want the bodies to float into port because dead whale is a favourite food for tiger sharks and they follow the food into shore. 
The goal is reduce the number of tiger sharks near the swimming and surfing beaches of Kona!
One surf board rental place takes a gallows humour approach to the frequent Tiger Shark sightings and has a board with teeth marks, proudly on display on their shop's front steps.
On the Big Island you just can't escape the Tigers, even if you don't go in the water. Hilo Shark's Coffee Shop is popular even though it is up in the highlands of Kona !!!!

WAS ADAM TAKEN BY A SHARK?- FACEBOOK POSTING
Roadside Memorials Are Hard To Figure Out Sometimes! 
Someone has carved a memorial to Adam into the bark of a Kona, Hawaii beachside tree (pictured). 
The Shark Tree and RIP Adam - Kona, Hawaii
On the next tree in the cluster there are also bleached shark fins nailed into the wood. Were the fins and the carvings done by the same person? Was Adam killed by a shark? Why would people nail shark tails onto a tree anyway?

IMHO: The mystery will probably never be solved.




Wednesday, 2 April 2014

April 2, 2014 one of those loci days for Canadian non-fiction book prizes.

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APRIL 2nd – Big Big Day For Three Canadian Book Prizes

Today is an important day for three book prizes – one prize announces its grand winner tonight, while two other prizes announce their shortlists this morning
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In Ottawa this evening, the Writer’s Trust will be awarding the Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing. The winner will receive $25,000, the runner-ups received $2,,5000. The shortlist has five authors including one who is a past RBC Taylor Prize winner and one a RBC Taylor Prize finalist:

• Margaret MacMillan - The War That Ended Peace: The Road to 1914
• RBC CTP winner: Charles Montgomery - Happy City: Transforming Our Lives Through Urban Design
• Donald J. Savoie -Whatever Happened to the Music Teacher? How Government Decides and Why
• RBC CTP Finalist Graeme Smith -The Dogs Are Eating Them Now: Our War in Afghanistan
• Paul Wells - The Longer I’m Prime Minister: Stephen Harper and Canada, 2006 –

This morning the John W. Dafoe Book Prize announced its five author shortlist. The winner will be named later in the spring and collect the $10,00 award at the J.W. Dafoe Foundation’s Annual Book Prize Dinner in May.
The short list author and titles are:

• Toronto Star senior political writer Susan Delacourt -- “Shopping for Votes: How Politicians Choose Us and We Choose Them,”
• Maclean’s political editor Paul Wells for “The Longer I’m Prime Minister: Stephen Harper and Canada, 2006 -”
• “The Canadian Rangers: A Living History” by P. Whitney Lackenbauer
• “One Day in August: The Untold Story Behind Canada’s Tragedy at Dieppe” by historian David O’Keefe.
• “The Once and Future Great Lakes Country: An Ecological History” by John L. Riley/

The Donner Prize shortlist was also announced today. The award honours public policy writing by Canadians.
The shortlist authors are:

• International law expert Michael Byers made the shortlist for "International Law and the Arctic."
• "Out of the Basement: Youth Cultural Production in Practice and in Policy" by Miranda Campbell, an English professor at Dawson College;
• "Unjust by Design: Canada's Administrative Justice System" by Ron Ellis, an administrative law lawyer, teacher, academic and arbitrator.
• "Shut Off: The Canadian Digital Television Transition" by Gregory Taylor, a post-doctoral fellow at Ryerson University;
• "The Third Rail: Confronting Our Pension Failures" by Queen's University chancellor-designate Jim Leech and Globe and Mail senior writer Jacquie McNish.

Each nominated title will receive $7,500, and the winner of the $50,000 Prize will be announced at an awards ceremony in Toronto on April 30. Journalist and former Charles Taylor Prize juror Jeffrey Simpson won last year's Donner Prize for "Chronic Condition," his book about the Canadian health-care system.

Monday, 3 March 2014

Molly Bobak, Canada's last surviving World War 2 artists, passes at the age of 95



Weir Facebook Posting: Sad News From Eastern Canada 
- Artist Molly Bobak Has Died
Canadian Press is reporting the death of East Coast artist, 95-year old, Molly Bobak. 

Mrs. Bobak was the first female Canadian war artist and had a long successful career as an artist in New Brunswick. There were 32 official war artists in World War II and she was the last surviving member of that group

Born in British Columbia, she made a name for herself in Atlantic Canada. I took the above picture of Molly and her late husband, artist Bruno Bobak, in the Founders'Lounge a few years ago at the McMichael Canadian Gallery in Kleinburg, Ontario.  The couple had travelled to Toronto to see Bruno's exhibition at the McMike.

Monday, 27 January 2014

ATOM EGOYAN’S SHIP SAILS IN



FIRST COMEDY FOR TORONTO’S FILM AND OPERA DIRECTOR
By Stephen Weir (from Huffington Post ) Photographs by Stephen Weir and George Socka
http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/stephen-weir/atom-egoyan-opera_b_4674959.html#es_share_ended


It is night-time in downtown Toronto. The opera, Cosi Fan Tutte, has just ended and the subway platform is crowded. Amongst the post show murmur two names are overheard -- Atom Egoyan and Superman. The Canadian director of movies and tonight's opera is juxtaposed with the Man of Steel.


“ Egoyan takes a Superman view on facial recognition,” one 20-something woman lectures her group of friends.  “ When Superman puts on glasses everyone thinks he is Clark Kent – they just aren’t able to see the Man of Steel behind those horn rims.”

In Egoyan’s COC production of Cosi Fan Tutte, the movie producer turned opera director admits that the big challenge for this Mozart opera buffa is to make the audience forget some of the silliness of the libretto and enjoy his light, lively and mildly kinky take on an opera that was considered too immoral to be performed in North America until 1922.

It is early in the 19th century and we are with the well to dos of Naples. The opera’s plot revolves around two teenage sisters – Dorabella and Fiordiligi – who are engaged to two Naples dandies  -- Ferrando and Guglielmo. Are Dorabella and Fiordiligi truly in love, or given the opportunity, will they stray into the arms and beds of other men? Ferrando and Guglielmo accept a wager from the professor of their school to find out.  The two tell their fiancées they have been drafted into the navy and pretend to leave for the wars.  They come back moments later, thinly disguised as Albanians, and prove the fecklessness of their betrothed love by seducing each other’s girl.

“The opera asks us to believe that Dorabella and Fiordiligi won’t recognize these men  - their fiancés – if the men wear simple disguises (curly moustaches),” said Egoyan, just before the Four Seasons Centre curtain is raised on this 3-hour opera.
Albanian suitors

“Mozart also called Cosi Fan Tutte, The School For Lovers. So I had this idea why don’t we set this opera inside a school and why don’t we make this a class experiment, that way we don’t have to worry about the creditability issue so much, we just go with the story and loose ourselves in this most delightful opera”

Lorenzo Da Ponte, who also penned Figaro and Don Giovanni with Mozart, wrote the libretto.   It is thought that Mozart’s rival, Antonio Salieri, tried to compose the music to Da Ponte’s story but gave up after only a few months.  Mozart took up the score and went on to direct the orchestra twice in the 1790s before the opera was basically shelved for almost a century.  It was rarely performed during the 19th and early 20th century because it was considered too risqué.

In the early versions of the opera, this story of love, adultery and relationships, was set in a Naples garden. When Cosi was rediscovered and put into modern day opera companies repertoires, directors have had fun placing the opera in a variety of locations including restaurants, sitting rooms, and even in a hippy colony.

“ I think we are the first company to take this view of a school interpretation, “ explained the director.  The male lovers accept a bet from the school’s headmaster to test their sweetheart’s loyalty to them – the bet is played out as a classroom experiment.

The students watch as Ferrando and Guglielmo tell the distraught sisters that they have been drafted and must sail off immediately to war.  They return moments latter disguised as two rich Albanian visitors who have been poisoned. The girls save the men with a variety of tools including a magnetic rod seemingly inserted rectally into their disguised boyfriends.  The girls, probably aware of the wager, trade-off on their boyfriends and do soon succumb to their wooing – just was predicted by Alfonso, the school headmaster.

“The issue of misogyny comes up (with the traditional setting of the opera) because there is a very famous aria in the piece where one of the young lovers Gugliemo, sings about the unfaithfulness of women,” said Egoyan. “He would traditionally sing it to the audience, which would be absolutely offensive to many women in the theatre. What we have done here, because we are set in a school, is we have Gugliemo sing to his fellow classmate and they actually get to react to what he is saying – it takes the edge off  (the belittling of women).”

Egoyan’s schoolroom is filled with stuffed animals, science experiment equipment and gigantic butterflies and equally large insect pins.  The symbolism of the butterflies is not lost on the audience. Back to the subway platform critics, a young woman explains it all to her boyfriend. “The sisters are specimens, they are being hunted and collected by the headmaster. That’s why all the giant butterflies and 2 metre tall pins are on stage”

“The two women in this production are aware of the wager and in fact may be involved in a counter wager which gives them leeway in terms of their own behaviour” said Egoyan.  “ They are smart.  Remember when this was written they were supposed to be 15-years old. We address that youth, it really does feel as if they are all teenagers.”
Singers wear the departing Navy fleet in their blue wigs

“Part of the idea of the opera being set in a school is that there is a ton of props that they can use in their (love) experiments.  So in the scene when are going away to battle (five actresses walk in single file across the stave wearing large model ships in their blue wigs), this is shown as a kind of experiment using the school props.”

Throughout the performance students wear skimpy white British public school uniforms, overtop of sporty black panties, which are often flashed to patrons in the front row. Ferrando and Guglielmo are not averse to looking up dresses and snatching quick feels of each other’s girlfriend whenever possible.

Cosi Fan Tutte is sung in two acts – the first act set in the school, the second beneath a huge framed painting.  A large Freda Kahlo self-portrait Las dos Fridas dominates the second half of Cosi Fan Tutte.
Kahlo self-portrait dominates the stage 
“The painting is very important because it is Freda Khalo’s reflection on the amazing shift that happened in her own life,” said Atom Egoyan. “It was painted at a time when she was going through a divorce with Diego Rivera. She really felt that Rivera was in love with another woman, another version of her… This is what this opera is ultimately about, how people can change and what that means in terms of how people are in love with one version of oneself and maybe how that shifts  (over time)”

The cast, aside from an aging Sir Thomas Allen as Don Alfonso, are the young bright lights in Canada’s opera scene. Layla Claire and Wallis Giunta brought the full dress rehearsal audience to its feet when they first sang together. Robert Gleadow’s Guglielmo defines the word cad while his partner Paul Appleby is the perfect-cuckolded tenor.

Directing young singers in a comedy is an extreme change for the Canadian director.  On a week when both his Canadian Opera Company production opened  and his latest film, Devil’s Knot (the true story of the Memphis Three killings) opened in Canada, Egoyan admits that the Opera is a real departure.

“ This is all different for me because it is the first time I have done comedy. My work is pretty dark; this has been a real delight”


Videographer George Socka any myself interviewed Atom Egoyan in the wig room of the Four Seasons Theatre in downtown Toronto.  Watch Atom Egoyan talk about his newest COC production at http://youtu.be/QWRoXiLeR0Q

More photographs from the dress rehearsal can be seen at:
http://www.stephenweir.com/gallery1/index.php/Atom-Egoyan-Mozart-Opera 

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

JANUARY - FREEZING OUTSIDE, THEATRES HOT INSIDE

Three Major Cultural Events Staged On Just One (Very Cold) Day In Toronto
(Culled From Popular Weir Social Media Posts)

MORNING, JANUARY 21st. Carlton Theatres, downtown Toronto


Fabienne Colas
Colas' advice to Toronto? Buy tickets early (like today)

Award winning-actress, director, producer and film festival founder Fabienne Colas advises film lovers to buy tickets to her Toronto Black Film Festival as soon as possible.  " Like today! Don't be disappointed, these are great films and will sell out fast"
Colas hosted a morning press briefing at the Carlton Cinema to introduce the line up to this year's festival.  33 films from around the world will be shown at the Festival between February 11th and 16th at the downtown Toronto Carlton Cinemas, the TIFF Bell Lightbox theatre and the Al Green Theatre.

Keynote films include From Above (starring Danny Glover), Grigris (Chad's choice for the Oscar's Best Foreign Film category) and director Chris Eska's Civil War drama, The Retrieval.

AFTERNOON, JANUARY 21st, York University. My Data Bag Radio Show



Talking Books. Talking the RBC Taylor Prize with William Doyle-Marshall!

William Doyle-Marshall (pictured at right), long-time radio host of My Data Bag on CHYR-fm talked about this year's short-list prize this afternoon. He aired an interview with ViJay Parmar, president of RBC PH&N Investment Council who talked about RBC's support of Canada's most prestigious literary non-fiction award.

Doyle-Marshall is holding the book, The Inconvenient Indian by Thomas King. The non-fiction book is on the short-list for this year's RBC Taylor Prize.  The My Data Bag host will be talking about the book next Tuesday!

EVENING, Four Season's Theatre. Canadian Opera Company. Live on Stage!

Director Atom Egoyan's ship came in on stage at the  COC dress rehearsal for his take on Mozart's Cosi Fan Tutte opera. 

The singers wore model ships in their wigs to demonstrate how two of the characters in the comedic opera were supposedly drafted and had to go to sea with the Italian Navy.  Photograph by George Socka.

Two Albanians have swelled heads when appearing in Atom Egoyan's new take on Mozart's Cosi Fan Tutte opera. Guglielmo and Ferrando are two Venetian gentleman who want to check on the faithfulness of their fiancees ... so they show up at their girlfriends home disguised as weirdly looking Albanians. COC dress rehearsal last night at the Four Seasons Opera House. Canadian Opera Company, Toronto.
Two Albanians - Photo by Stephen Weir