Wednesday, 23 December 2009

A Christmas Art Story from Downtown Toronto and Downtown Guelph

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PAINTINGS AND PHOTOS FROM AN URBAN PRISON
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Stephen Weir here. I want to briefly tell you about a special "Christmas" art show that should be of interest to you. There is a special exhibition that opened today in Guelph featuring the work of Toronto's Bryce Christmas
Bryce Christmas is a young artist who has been confined by court order to a 2-bedroom apartment in downtown Toronto. For the past 9-months his world has been confined to what he can see and paint from his balcony and to the junk he can find and photograph in the apartment building's musty old basement.
Bryce is waiting for his trial on a variety of drug related charges. The courts have put him under the care of Bernard Gauthier, the driving force behind Bravo TV. He has turned his life around because of art and the influence of Bernard.
To keep sane Bryce has been creating art every day in his comfortable but claustrophobic prison. Well known Toronto curator Shelley Falconer has just seen Bryce's art. She is blown away by the work and is looking for a national gallery to hang a show.
So are the owners of Alma Gallery in Guelph (The Gallery is owned by Tom Dowd, Renann Isaacs is the curator). Yesterday they scooped up almost everything he has produced. They are rushing to get it up in their, believe it or not, Christmas Room. Also in the gallery is a show entitled Five Canadian Artists -- showing works by Stu Oxley, Cheryl Ruddock, Paul Kuhn as well as Order of Canada and Governor General Award recipients Tony Urquhart and Wanda Koop.
The Alma Gallery has hung over 30 photographs and paintings by 28-year old Christmas. The gallery is open Tuesday to Saturday, noon to 6pm. It is located at 133 Wyndham St North in Guelph. The gallery's number is 519.763.6392 and their website is at www.almagallery.ca/.


FOLLOW UP NUMBER ONE: Premiering tonight (Wednesday December 23rd) on CP24 in Toronto and Monday across-Canada on Bravo!, this week's (actually for the next two weeks) Bravo!News includes a segment on 'The Art of Bryce Christmas'.


FOLLOW UP NUMBER TWO: Read Peter Goddard's compelling full page feature on Bryce Christmas in the Toronto Star: http://www.thestar.com/entertainment/article/747785--portrait-of-an-artist-as-a-young-exile

Monday, 21 December 2009

Diver Magazine Christmas Article Part SIX - New Underwater Toys for Christmas

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New Scuba Products For The Holiday This Year - The Fifth Day of Christmas
(Unedited story in 5-parts - Feature for December issue of Canada's Diver Magazine www.divermag.com)

By Stephen Weir

With only a few weeks left until Christmas, the expert buyers at Diver Magazine have once again come to the rescue of weary holiday shoppers with our well-informed gift suggestions. This time, the buyers have zeroed in over 20 last-minute gift suggestions that are all new (or improved) this year.

HELP FLAG: When closed a new expandable dive flag is so small that it can easily fit into a loved ones Christmas stocking. When open fully the 150 grams H.E.L.P flag extends to over 1500 mm in height and can be seen up to 3kms away. The yellow colour flag The flag sells for $50 US (plus shipping charges) and can be ordered on line at: www.thediveflag.com/.

Grand Bahama goes all inclusive – shark dive thrown in - The island of Grand Bahamas has long been synonymous with dive tourism in the Caribbean. The Unexso Dive Shop, one of the world’s first day-trip dive operations is located on the island. There are a number of outstanding hotels and resort complexes on the island as well. Individually owned, the hotel and dive shops have banded together to offer a new unique program they call Club Grand Bahama -- a flexible, affordable “all-inclusive” vacation. You pay one price and choose where you stay, dine and dive. Divers should look to the new Platinum Package. According to Gauri Kibler with the Grand Bahama Island Tourism Board “ The Club Grand Bahama program offers guests one (dive) activity for every two nights they stay on Grand Bahama. For a 7-night stay, a guest would be entitled to 3 activities, which they can use at anytime during the duration of their stay. You can dive with a number of shops including the iconic Unexso, which offers as part of the program one tank dives, shark dives and two tank dives.

Also worthy under the tree this year. Keep your cell-phone dry on the dive boat! •The Waterproof I-Mate is impervious to saltwater. This smart phone meets Military Specs. Comes with compass and GPS. •Need to bring your portable hard-drive along on a dive? The new A-Data’s external drive, the SH93, has a rubber body and wraparound USB cord. It can be left underwater for a half-hour with no ill effects. •Buy that special someone an opportunity to jump out of a moving helicopter in scuba gear! Dive Charter Curacao, on the Caribbean Island of Curacao, now offers “helidives”. Divers gear up on land and then climb into a waiting helicopter. It flies to their dive site, hovers over the water and the divers jump in! • The Asian electronics firm Thanko has come out with an underwater video camera that is the size of a penlight. Video Water is 68 mm long, 19 mm wide, is rated to a depth of 20 meters and sells for $133 US.

CUTLINES: Top Left - The new Flag. Right - 3 pictures from the Unexso Shark Dive, Left: the new waterproof I-Mate.

Sunday, 20 December 2009

Diver Magazine Christmas Article Part FIVE- New Underwater Toys for Christmas

New Scuba Products For The Holiday This Year - The Fourth Day of Christmas
(Unedited story in 6-parts - Feature for December issue of Canada's Diver Magazine www.divermag.com)

By Stephen Weir

With only a few weeks left until Christmas, the expert buyers at Diver Magazine have once again come to the rescue of weary holiday shoppers with our well-informed gift suggestions. This time, the buyers have zeroed in over 20 last-minute gift suggestions that are all new (or improved) this year.


Snakes on a Sleigh … Aqua Lung is distributing newly updated and improved Viper and Cobra dive computers this Christmas. Built by Suunato, the Cobra3 and Vyper2 dive computer feature Air, Nitrox and Gauge modes, as well as gas switching capabilities. Both use the Suunato deep stop reduced gradient bubble model algorithm that features continuous decompression for optimal ascent time. www.aqualung.com


Fold ‘em to fit under the tree! The new Flipfins began showing up in dive shops earlier this year. Made by Omega Aquatics, Flipfins look like standard flippers underwater but when a lever is pressed the front of the flipper flips up, allowing the dive to climb ladders and walk on land with ease. $170 US. www.flipfins.com
Tanks won’t fall out of the sleigh thanks to design. The new this year Scuba Tank Transport is both simple and well designed. It fits in the back of a truck and will hold up to five scuba tanks. It is 48-inches wide, 30-inches deep and has a 4-inch lip formed up on three sides to contain up to five high-pressure steel tanks and six aluminum 80's. It also has a unique 2 inch lip folded down to capture the back end of the truck body so that the tanks won’t shift while braking. Built by Competitive Development & Manufacturing in Washington State, the tank holder costs $141.00. Pictured below www.thediversplatform.com

Just when you thought it was safe to look under the Christmas tree … Santa has a treat for divers who like to gamble. This Christmas Aristocrat Technologies is bringing a new video slot game - JAWS - into North America casinos and racetracks that will make divers glad they didn’t go diving this holiday break. JAWS is based on the film of the same name. The fun begins the minute players sit down in their chair -- a nervous flick of a finger on the “shark tooth” spin button, and the game begins. From deep inside the slot, the familiar spine-tingling JAWS theme music plays. Completing the experience, an electro-mechanical buoy topper lights up and sounds off a bell during game play, and shark “gills” cover the speakers.


TO BE CONTINUED ... excerpts right up until Christmas Eve, at www.stephenweir.com

Thursday, 17 December 2009

New Scuba Products For The Holiday This Year - The Fourth Day of Christmas

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New Scuba Products For The Holiday This Year - The Third Day of Christmas
(Unedited story in 6-parts - Feature for December issue of Canada's Diver Magazine www.divermag.com)


By Stephen Weir

With only a few weeks left until Christmas, the expert buyers at Diver Magazine have once again come to the rescue of weary holiday shoppers with our well-informed gift suggestions. This time, the buyers have zeroed in over 20 last-minute gift suggestions that are all new (or improved) this year.

Two, Two cameras in one. If you have a friend in Mexico or the United States you might ask them to buy and Fed-ex the new Sanyo underwater camera up to Canada in time for Christmas. Sanyo has come up with a line of underwater cameras that take both still and video images. The all-HD Dual Camera offers a variety of unique features including High Definition Video with 8 megapixel photos, a still camera option withup to 2 megapixel photos and 30x optical and the ability to work underwater - down to a depth of 10 feet for an hour without a housing!
The Dual Camera is designed to interact on-line and purchasers receives along with the camera a number of videos featuring Web Stars including: Lisa Nova,iJustine, Rhett & Link, Mr. Safety, Audrey Kitching, Brandon Hardesty and Apprentice A. http://us.sanyo.com/Dual-Cameras/

Cleopatra, the wet look. Although the show doesn't open until June 2010, tickets are on sale now (just in time for Christmas) for the "Cleopatra: The Search for the Last Queen of Egypt," exhibition making its world premiere in June 2010 at The Franklin Institute in Philadelphia. Blog Organized by the National Geographic with cooperation from the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities and the European Institute for Underwater Archaeology (IEASM), the exhibition will feature more than 250 artifacts, and take visitors inside the present-day search for Cleopatra, which extends from the sands of Egypt to the depths of the Bay of Aboukir near Alexandria. As a highlight, the exhibition will showcase artifacts from Franck Goddio's continuing underwater search off the Mediterranean coast of Egypt, begun in 1992 and sponsored by the Hilti Foundation. Goddio's remarkable finds will bring visitors inside his search for the lost world of Cleopatra, including remnants from the grand palace where she ruled. Visitors will also see underwater footage and photos of Goddio's team retrieving artifacts from the ocean and bringing them to the surface for the first time in centuries. Tickets can be ordered at www.fi.edu.

cutline: top left - The Sanyo underwater camera. Shoots video and stills underwater to a depth of 10ft without a housing.
above right - Statue of a priest of Isis (statue recovered in the late 1990s)found underwater in Alexandria's harbour (Egypt).

Monday, 7 December 2009

Diver Magazine Christmas Article Part Three - New Underwater Toys for Christmas

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New Scuba Products For The Holiday This Year - The Third Day of Christmas
(Unedited story in 6-parts - Feature for December issue of Canada's Diver Magazine www.divermag.com)

By Stephen Weir


With only a few weeks left until Christmas, the expert buyers at Diver Magazine have once again come to the rescue of weary holiday shoppers with our well-informed gift suggestions. This time, the buyers have zeroed in over 20 last-minute gift suggestions that are all new (or improved) this year.

Holiday trip for divers with deep pockets. Sir Richard Branson the owner of Virgin Air, is leasing his newly refurbished Necker Belle to discerning and rich travelers. The Necker Belle is a magnificent 32-meter long 14-meter wide catamaran that has a top cruising speed of 20 knots! She has a crew of seven, including a dive master and a marine biologist and has four double cabins to accommodate eight divers. Necker Belle will be available for tailor-made weekly Caribbean charters in February 2010. The seven-night weekly charter rate will be $88,000 (plus 25% for food, fuel, etc). www.virginlimitededition.com

Santa says gift will give diver a sense of Zen. There are a number of wristwatch style dive computers and then there is the Zen! The IQ-900 Zen is TUSA's latest full-featured wrist-top, watch style computer. Above water it is a stylish timepiece, underwater it is a powerful air computer, nitrox computer and digital depth gauge/timer (or use it as a free dive depth gauge/timer). The dive computer features an optional deep stop function for additional safety. The deep stop mode is activated when a dive exceeds 24 meter for more than a second. Upon ascent, it will display a deep safety stop screen and the recommended stop depth for a period of 2 minutes. $640 US http://www.tusa.com

He sees you when your diving … Santa doesn’t need one but maybe you do. The new Buddy-Link is an underwater signaling device that lets dive buddies send and receive sound and flashing light alerts. The Buddy-Link “B-Link” transmits ultrasonic signals back and forth between divers through a thumb-size device that easily attaches to the periphery of a mask. The device alerts a diving Buddy by generating a tone and flashing lights when the other Buddy taps the unit. $350 US for 2 Buddy-Link Units. http://buddy-link.com

Booking that Christmas Dive Trip. Published in 2009 Scuba Caribbean by Mary L. Peachin is an up-to-date, island-by-island review of diving in the Caribbean. Aside from the American author’s chapter on diving in Cuba (inaccurate and highly biased) the book is a worthwhile reference tool. Aimed at the sport diver, there is little tech dive information in the book. Foreword by Undercurrent Magazine founder Ben Davison.


BCD Mr. SC SVP! As the name implies, the new Equator BC delivers comfort and performance as you circle the world in search of the ultimate diving experience. Made by Scubapro – UWATE, this buoyancy compensator has a lean, lightweight design. Can be worn over a dive skin in the Caribbean or on top of a dry suit for the Great Lakes. www.scubapro.com
CUTLINE: Far Left. Buddy Link. Near Left. Equator BC
TO BE CONTINUED ... excerpts and dive shorts right up until Christmas Eve, at www.stephenweir.com

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Diver Magazine Christmas Article Part TWO- New Underwater Toys for Christmas

Diver Magazine Christmas Article Part Two - New Underwater Toys for Christmas
… And some will fit in your stocking!


New Scuba Products For The Holiday This Year - The Second Day of Christmas

(Unedited story in 6-parts - Feature for December issue of Canada's Diver Magazine www.divermag.com)

By Stephen Weir

With only a few weeks left until Christmas, the expert buyers at Diver Magazine have once again come to the rescue of weary holiday shoppers with our well-informed gift suggestions. This time, the buyers have zeroed in over 20 last-minute gift suggestions that are all new (or improved) this year.

Last year Nikon Cameras unleashed the Coolpix paper-thin easy-to-use digital camera to the world. This Christmas Ikelite Underwater has launched an underwater housing so that you can now use the Coolpix when diving. The Ikelite ULTRA compact digital housing for Coolpix L19 & L20 cameras is high quality, and built to last. All camera controls are fully functional through the housing and depth rated to 200ft (60m). Easy open latch and drop in camera loading make set-up a snap. $260 US. http://www.ikelite.com

Don’t eat Turtles this Christmas (donate instead).Young Casey Sokolovic (pictured below) was only a third-grader when she first visited a Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center. The trip made a lasting impression on Casey. She created her own sea turtle awareness and education program. As part of her efforts, she baked thousands of sea turtle cookies and held bake sales. In her honour OCEANA, a Washington based group dedicated to protecting the World’s Oceans have created a special sea turtle adoption package valued at $200. For more information on Casey: www.Oceana.org/heroes. Diver Magazine is a proud supporter of Oceana.
This Christmas give divers colourful thingies for their wetsuits! Steve Wilson makes colourful strong straps that you attach to your wet suit zippers. No need to ask for help zipping up anymore and you can personalize with your name, or Santa’s for that matter.Steve told Diver that his product – Your Zip Tag is available for shipment to Canada with a 3-day turn around for just $10 US. www.yourbagtag.com

Watch turn heads this Christmas. The OMEGA watch company introduced its Seamaster Ploprof 1200 watch earlier this year. It is a radical update of the 1970 Seamaster 600. It is water resistant to 1200 meters and is used by shallow divers too! The screwed-in crown is located at the 9 o’clock position to prevent inadvertent manipulation underwater. The bezel has a special lock so that it too can’t be accidentally moved during a dive. The Ploprof has an automatic helium escape valve, which allows helium atoms to escape during decompression, (which we are told is useful for professional divers operating from diving bells.). It has a brushed mesh "shark proof" bracelet or you can get a rubber strap. Spokeswoman Amanda Kremer told Diver Magazine the watch is now available in North American jewelry and watch stores. (She also told us about the name – it is the first letters of plongeurs professionnels – French for “professional divers”). $1,500 US. http://www.omega.ch
TO BE CONTINUED... excerpts right up until Christmas Eve, at www.stephenweir.com