By Kate Lunau - Tuesday, May 14, 2013 - 0 Comments
A controversial new test could determine your actual biological age and reveal just how many years you have left
Tomiko Kadonaga, who turned 100 on Jan. 8, will tell you she’s had an easy life. Others would say differently. Kadonaga, who was born in B.C. to Japanese-Canadian parents, was placed in an internment camp during the Second World War, housed with her husband, Saul, in buildings intended for livestock. “The stall where I was had a little blue card outside that said, ‘First Prize Cow,’ ” she says with a wry smile. “I thought, ‘At least I’m first prize.’ ” Her godmother offered Saul a job on a farm in Port Hope, Ont., and a way out; leaving all their possessions behind, they moved to the area in 1942, and had a daughter. Saul died of esophageal cancer in 1989.
Today, Kadonaga, who lives alone in a neatly kept townhouse in Toronto’s north end, is the picture of contentment. Her legs bother her a bit, she says (she gets around with a flowery purple cane), but otherwise she’s in good health. In Canada, average life expectancy is 81, yet more people than ever are living to be 100. In 2011, we had 5,825 centenarians, according to Statistics Canada, up from 3,795 10 years before. As life expectancy continues to rise, it could hit over 17,000 by 2031. Why some people outlive almost everyone else—and remain in good health, even into very old age—remains one of the grand questions of science. Researchers have credited everything from diet and exercise to genetics. A clue to the secret of Kadonaga’s longevity, one we’re only starting to understand, lies buried deep within her cells: the tiny bits of DNA that cap the ends of her chromosomes, called telomeres.
Telomeres shorten as we age, but the telomeres of centenarians are remarkably long, according to Gil Atzmon at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York—more like those of people three decades younger, or even younger than that. Often compared to the plastic ends that keep shoelaces from fraying, telomeres prevent chromosomes from unravelling and fusing to each other. Each time a cell divides, some of the telomere is lost; when it becomes too short, the cell dies. Telomeres are protected by a powerful anti-aging enzyme, one produced by our own cells: it’s called telomerase, which rebuilds telomeres and protects them from wearing down, a discovery that won scientists Elizabeth Blackburn, Carol Greider and Jack Szostak the Nobel prize in 2009. Healthy people with longer telomeres seem to be at lower risk of age-related illness, such as heart disease, diabetes and cancer—the main diseases that stop us in our tracks today.
By Charlie Gillis - Friday, May 17, 2013 at 11:00 AM - 0 Comments
Why Canada can make wine that’s as good as any import, but not as cheaply
Maclean’s tells the story of Canadian wine from coast to coast in words and pictures in Wine in Canada: A Tour of Wine Country. Look for it on newsstands now. Or download the app now. In the meantime, here’s a sneak peek:
The food was good, the company warm and the wine—both bottles—downright delicious. Carmen’s 2011 cabernet made a fine companion to the glazed pork tenderloin my wife and I served at a recent dinner party: tart, yet replete with that fruitiness Chilean wineries seem to summon without effort. By the halfway point of the meal, we were ready for something more structured, and a bordeaux-style red from Thirty Bench Wine Makers in Beamsville, Ont., served nicely. Austere but silky on the palate, this 2010 wine was discernibly better than the Carmen, which made its $24 price tag easier to swallow. But from an economic standpoint, there was the rub: the Chilean cost $12.55 less.
For every wine lover wishing to support the domestic industry, it’s a persistent fly in the ointment. Buy a good domestic, and you suspect you’ve paid more than you would for an import of comparable quality—or that you might have gotten a transcendent foreign wine for a similar price. It’s especially true of popular reds: Trius 2011 merlot, from the Niagara Region, seems a decent enough deal at $14.95 (in Ontario). But a mere $7.65 will buy a bottle of Cesari, a mass-produced merlot from Italy that tastes about as good. Fans of ripassos will be delighted to hear the Old World technique of fermenting partially dried grapes has made its way to Canada. But the $34.95 price on Cave Spring Winery’s version, “La Penna,” might scare off customers wondering whether it’s as good as the Italian original.
By Michael Friscolanti - Thursday, May 16, 2013 at 6:00 AM - 0 Comments
A Catholic missionary with a giant frame and even bigger heart, he dedicated his life to helping the poor and the hungry
Richard Émile Joyal was born on Feb. 5, 1951, in St. Boniface, Manitoba, Winnipeg’s historic francophone district. He was the only child of Étienne Joyal, a railroad engineer, and his wife, Marie-Antoinette Gauthier. The family home, staunchly Roman Catholic, was a short walk from Richard’s elementary school (École Provencher) and his high school (Collège Louis Riel).
At the time, both schools were operated by the Society of Mary, a 200-year-old Catholic order inspired by the faith and devotion of Jesus’s mother. Many of Richard’s teachers were Marianist brothers, missionaries who committed their lives to serving the poor and uneducated. “The brothers’ community house was right across the street from both schools,” says Lawrence Lussier, a long-time friend. “He grew up knowing these brothers and was attracted to their life. He was drawn to it.” At 19, Richard made his first vows; five years later, he was “perpetually professed” as a Marianist brother. (Like priests, brothers commit to a life of poverty, celibacy and obedience.)
Richard was a towering figure, six foot four with giant hands and a huge smile. Like the men who inspired him to follow God, he spent his 20s and 30s working as a teacher in Winnipeg, where he coached basketball and organized retreats. “ ‘Joy’ was in his name, and that’s exactly how he was,” says Isabella Moyer, another close friend. “He wasn’t one of these overly holy people that didn’t enjoy the blessings in life. He enjoyed the riches: good food, good wine, and good company. But he was equally happy with the simplicity of a bowl of rice.” Back in the 1970s, Moyer was one of dozens of university students who spent their Sundays at the Marianists’ home in St. Boniface, “praying and playing,” as she says. “Richard was the community disco guru, determined that we would all learn his routines,” she says. “Soon we were all dancing to Saturday Night Fever.” He was especially famous for his giant batches of stovetop popcorn—prepared, with lightning speed, during a single commercial break.
By Anne Kingston - Wednesday, May 15, 2013 at 11:22 AM - 0 Comments
A Vancouver graphic designer wants you to judge the bottle by its label
Maclean’s tells the story of Canadian wine from coast to coast in words and pictures in Wine in Canada: A Tour of Wine Country. Look for it on newsstands now. Or download the app now. In the meantime, here’s a sneak peek:
For more than a decade, Bernie Hadley-Beauregard has been rattling the fossilized cage of the Canadian wine establishment while cementing his name as the go-to guy for provocative and distinctive wine labels. His Vancouver-based consultancy, Brandever Strategy Inc., exploded on the scene, so to speak, in 2002, when Evelyn and Chris Campbell hired him to rebrand Prpich Hills, the difficult-to-pronounce Okanagan Valley winery they’d just purchased. Hadley-Beauregard had his “Eureka!” moment researching in a local museum when he came across a reference to the town’s “dynamite church,” so-called because explosives were used to loosen its nails before it was moved from another location in 1929.
Thus the Blasted Church brand was born, though not before labyrinthine regulatory hurdles gave the competition a peek at the whimsical, ecclesiastically themed labels—and a chance to tsk-tsk. “The powers-that-be forecast it was never going to happen,” Hadley-Beauregard says. “They didn’t like the name, or the aesthetics.”
By Emma Teitel - Tuesday, May 14, 2013 at 8:00 PM - 0 Comments
Always buy toilet paper in bulk
The news has two objectives: to report what’s just happened and to rehash, in the most sensational terms, what is apparently always happening. There’s the obesity beat, the what-gives-you-cancer beat, the housing-crash beat, and the most constant of these constants: the everyone-under-30-is-lazy-entitled-and-doomed-to-fail beat. Some recent highlights: “Generation Y struggling to start their adult lives”; “Study claims Generation Y more materialistic, less willing to work” and “Are Millennials the screwed generation?” We either can’t get jobs or can’t appreciate the jobs we have. We’re not even thinking about getting married yet, we walk through traffic with our eyes fixed to our phones and, to top it off, we can’t even cook a decent roast: according to Australia’s McCrindle Research, “only 51 per cent of women aged under 30 can cook a roast compared with 82 per cent of Baby Boomers.” We are also useless at gardening: “Only 23 per cent [of Millennial women] can grow a plant from a cutting when 78 per cent of older women say this is a breeze.”
To the rescue of this so-called lost generation comes 28-year-old American blogger and former newspaper columnist Kelly Williams Brown, who has written a book called Adulting, How to Become a Grown-up in 468 Easy(ish) Steps. It’s the first book of its kind—a guide for Millennials who are oblivious to all things seemingly adult: the young professional whose parents still pay her cellphone bill; the med student who spends his student-loan money on a trip to Tijuana; and the Maclean’s magazine columnist who, until very recently, thought that Warren Buffett sang Margaritaville, and had to ask her boss for instructions on how to write a cheque.
In the words of Williams Brown: “What’s that, you say? You’re a colossal sham who will never have your life in order? One who eats microwave taquitos in lieu of breakfast? One whose actions do not reflect the fact that, chronologically, you are absolutely, completely, and undeniably an adult? Yes. Of course you think that. Everyone does.”
By Julia McKinnell - Tuesday, May 14, 2013 at 8:00 PM - 0 Comments
Sisters squabbling is one thing, but real cruelty from a sibling can be scarring
For years, Nancy Kilgore shared a bedroom with an older sister who terrorized her when her parents weren’t watching. The older sister, often put in charge to babysit, insulted her, threw objects at Nancy and physically pinned her down. One time, her sister stuffed marbles up her nostrils. Then she pinched her nostrils, forced her head backward and poured water into her mouth. Another time, when Nancy was 10 and her sister was 12, the sister held a pillow over Nancy’s face to the point of near-suffocation.
Kilgore was so scarred by her years of mistreatment that she eventually sought help for post-traumatic stress disorder. Now in her 60s, Kilgore opens up about the experience in her memoir called Girl in the Water: A True Story of Sibling Abuse. “This is a taboo topic, absolutely taboo,” she said on the phone from her home in Sacramento, Calif. But Kilgore insists it’s a problem that affects millions of North Americans. Her Twitter account buzzes with comments from other victims, though convincing these people to talk publicly is difficult. Kilgore has also heard countless accounts at siblingbullies.com, the website she founded to connect victims, and where she offers advice to parents on how to prevent abuse.
Brenda Volling, a professor of psychology at the University of Michigan who studies jealousy between siblings, deﬁnes sibling abuse as one child repeatedly exerting power over the other with the intent to cause harm. The abuse can be physical, emotional, or even sexual. “Emotional and psychological abuse, this is the abuse most parents don’t recognize or see as occurring, and are most likely to confuse with normal sibling rivalry,” she says. “It includes such acts of cruelty as belittling and ridiculing, showing some kind of contempt or trying to degrade the other person.” Kilgore notes that sibling abuse typically involves an older sibling, often male, picking on a younger one, and is most common in homes where one parent is not present due to divorce or mentally absent for a variety of reasons, and extra responsibility is given to the oldest child. “The researchers say that the majority of children who abuse their siblings are not psychotic; they’re not maladapted mentally,” she says. “Basically, they’ve been overloaded with responsibility. It’s accepted in many cultures that the oldest child gets the biggest responsibility, but it’s important to look at what this does to a child.”
By Jessica Allen - Tuesday, May 14, 2013 at 1:08 PM - 0 Comments
A handy etiquette guide for a safe and happy summer
Is it just me, or are motorists finally catching on to the finer intricacies of sharing the road with bicycles? In fact, these days, it feels as though cyclists are causing their fellow two-wheeled commuters the majority of grief.
According to a recent story on the Atlantic’s website, that’s because ”bicycling is becoming mainstream.” Numbers are up in Chicago, New York and San Francisco, where “bikes made up 66 per cent of inbound traffic on Market Street in a recent count – and it wasn’t “bike to work day,” when the share rode to 76 percent,” they reported.
With the democratization of the road, author Sarah Goodyear argues, comes a sort of lackadaisical approach by cyclists to the rules. “If every single one of those people got a ticket every time they tried this nonsense,” writes Goodyear of the laws that many cyclists routinely break, “I would be thrilled.”
For the most part, I agree. I’ve been riding my bike to and from work in Toronto for 10 months out of every year since 1998. In those 15 years, I’ve made several observations not only as a cyclist, but also as a motorist and a pedestrian. Here are the top 10 most annoying actions that I witness most days on downtown Toronto roads, followed by handy tips–both decorous and potentially life-saving–to remedy them. The good news is that they’re all so easy to fix, regardless of whether you ride a dirt bike, single-gear, fixed-gear, 10-speed, low-rider or even a mountain bike from 1993 with four-inch-wide tires. Even if you’re a MAMIL (Middle-Aged-Man-in-Lycra), I suspect you’ll glean something here. And I’m sure you’ll be certain to tell me what I left out, right after you get back from your 20-minute bike ride, which took you 25 minutes to get dressed up for (those shorts are capital T Tight!), to the independent coffee shop for a scone and an espresso macchiato.
1. Cyclists: Please don’t wear head phones or talk on your cell phone when riding your bike.
To me, at least, this one seems like such a no-brainer: you know, not operating a vehicle while listening to music via earbuds or headphones, or using one hand to talk on a cell phone. But the number of cyclists I see doing this every day is astounding. Think about it for a second. See? It’s nuts! A fellow bike commuter and colleague told me recently that he’s avoided numerous run-ins with car doors simply by hearing the subtle sound of a door being unlatched. I know Solange is awesome, but would you really want Losing You to be your swan song?
By Jonathon Gatehouse - Monday, May 13, 2013 at 11:43 PM - 0 Comments
Jonathon Gatehouse on the fun and futility of Toronto’s playoff run
If will be of little comfort to disconsolate fans of the Toronto Maple Leafs, but in the wake of a heartbreaking Game 7 overtime loss to the Boston Bruins, the old saw is as true as ever: Close only counts in horseshoes and hand-grenades.
Yes, the Buds, making their first playoff appearance in nine long years were tantalizingly, agonizingly, impossibly near—battling back from a 3-1 series deficit and standing on the cusp of victory having built a 4-1 lead halfway through the third period, only to see it slip away. First the Bruins’ Nathan Horton scored with a little over 10 minutes left to make it 4-2. Then Milan Lucic made it 4-3 with just 1:18 remaining. Then Patrice Bergeron tied the game with only 51 seconds on the clock.
And finally, iresistibly, inevitably, in overtime, after Toronto’s Joffrey Lupul had twice been denied on the doorstep, first by Tuukka Rask’s arm and then a few seconds later, his mask, the payoff came at the other end of the ice. A scrambley goalmouth sequence where Toronto failed to clear the loose puck and it again ended up on the stick of Bergeron and in the back of net. And just like that, the season was over.
But while the manner in which the defeat came about stings, it won’t be what is remembered. In the NHL playoffs, your team wins, or it loses. And even moral victories quickly fade.
(Pop quiz: How many games went to OT in the Leafs 2002 Conference Final against Carolina?
Answer: It doesn’t matter, they lost.)
What is clear is that after waiting 46 years and counting for a Stanley Cup, and finishing out of the playoffs every single season between the NHL’s last two lockouts, Toronto has once again discovered that even futility can be fun. These past two weeks when the Maple Leafs finally gave their fans a reason to care about spring hockey, the city came alive. Blue and White sweaters were pulled out of the deepest recesses of closets, dusty flags reattached to car windows, and face-painted crowds gathered in bars and downtown streets to cheer and—for a little while at least—hope.
Up against the Bruins, Cup winners just two years ago and a team that has all but owned Toronto in regular season play over the past decade (28-17-7), it was never going to be easy. But a stirring 4-2 victory in Game 2 (on the heels of the 4-1 drubbing Boston handed them in the series opener) fanned the embers of playoff passion back to life.
In the hours before Game 3, Toronto’s first home playoff tilt in 3,289 days, the city took on a holiday feel with thousands of fans flooding the area around the Air Canada Centre. (Police eventually had to close off access to a packed plaza where the TV broadcast was being shown live on giant screens.) And inside the building the atmosphere was, for once, no less electric. The rinkside platinum seats—$796.75 each, including tax and surcharge—were actually filled before the puck dropped. The pumped up crowd made noise without the score board’s urgings, booed villains like Bruins captain Zdeno Chara, and Mayor Rob Ford, and even looked the part, abandoning suits and ties in favour of Leafs jerseys and freebie team scarves. And late in the second period when 22-year-old defenceman Jake Gardiner, playing in just his second career post-season game, scored to half a two-goal deficit, the roof almost lifted off.
By Rosemary Westwood - Monday, May 13, 2013 at 10:45 AM - 0 Comments
Vintners from British Columbia, Ontario and Nova Scotia are embracing effervescence
Maclean’s tells the story of Canadian wine from coast to coast in words and pictures in Wine in Canada: A Tour of Wine Country. Look for it on newsstands now. Or download the app now. In the meantime, here’s a sneak peek:
Break out the made-in-Canada bubbly. Champagne isn’t just for drenching champion athletes, New Year’s revelry and the French anymore. Producers at home are challenging the famed region’s monopoly on the finest sparkling wine.
Nestled among the rolling green hills of Nova Scotia’s Annapolis Valley near the Gaspereau River, Benjamin Bridge is part of the new wave of Canadian vineyards creating a buzz with high-calibre bubbles.
Last year a $75 bottle of its 2004 brut reserve stunned some of the country’s most discerning palates in a blind tasting—they preferred it to a $250 bottle of Louis Roederer 2004 Cristal (yes, that Cristal, from one the world’s top champagne houses).
In 2011, L’Acadie Vineyards—also from the Annapolis Valley—won a silver, the only medal awarded to a North American vineyard, at an international competition for sparkling wines held, where else, in France. And the Okanagan’s Summerhill Pyramid Winery won the “best bottle fermented sparkling wine” at the 2010 International Wine and Spirits competition in London. With a growing list of Canadian wineries chasing that bright and delicate zing, competition for the top national sparklers has become fierce. It may not be champagne, a name reserved for wines made in that region, but it sure tastes like it. And Canadians are lapping it up.
By macleans.ca - Saturday, May 11, 2013 at 11:31 AM - 0 Comments
Mother’s Day edition
Welcome back to the Maclean’s Quiz, a weekly diversion designed to test your trivia skills. Good luck, and remember: no Internet assistance allowed.
Click “Take Our Quiz!” below to begin:
Questions about the questions? You can reach Balazo here:
By Charlie Gillis - Friday, May 10, 2013 at 5:05 PM - 0 Comments
Remember that lawsuit Brian Burke dropped on foolhardy commenters who helped spread the nasty rumour that he had an affair with a TV anchor and fathered her child? Okay.
Now, do you remember the doubly foolhardy blogger who admitted that he didn’t take down the offending material when asked, and didn’t see what “the big deal” was? Yeah, that guy. A journalism student, if you can feature it.
Well, here’s what happens when you start publishing rumours about people’s personal lives without first running “Canadian libel law” through Google:
I am new to the world of journalism and mistakes occur when people are new to something. Everyone is fallible, and I now understand that I made a mistake by posting a rumour online.
Hopefully, Brian Burke and Hazel Mae will read this and understand how I feel, and what my intentions were. I want to sincerely apologize to them for any personal or professional damages my actions may have caused them.
By Nancy Macdonald - Wednesday, May 8, 2013 at 5:53 PM - 0 Comments
Nancy Macdonald on the game that marked the passing of an era
Never mind the summer-like weather. The mood in Vancouver this week is grim.
Two years ago, the city fielded the best team in franchise history, and came within a game of hoisting the Stanley Cup. Last night, the city’s beloved Canucks became the first team to exit the playoffs, unceremoniously swept in four straight by San Jose, a 4-3 overtime loss that marked the passing of an era.
Gone was the team whose Sedinery once dazzled, whose wingers skated as if shot from cannons, which boasted the league’s best goaltending duo. The club—the only one of the NHL’s 16 playoff entrants to fail to win a single post-season game—is a shell of their former selves, replaced by a group that is no longer good enough to challenge for a cup.
No wonder so many Vancouverites are frowning through the glorious, afternoon sun.
By Nicholas Köhler - Wednesday, May 8, 2013 at 12:00 PM - 0 Comments
She was an avant-garde artist who once practised striptease for a book, but she longed to write a novel for a bigger audience
Susan Angela Ann Harrison was born on March 7, 1948, in Toronto, to Douglas, a chemical engineer, and Angela, a homemaker and photographer. In suburban North York she grew into a tall, intensely bright, inquisitive young woman with a flare for rebellion. “My father was a logical man,” her brother Brian says. “We had a very conventional family.” Nevertheless, when Harrison showed an interest in drawing and painting, her parents agreed to finance her studies at the Ontario College of Art. Soon she’d joined Toronto’s vibrant avant garde, then dominated by the artists’ collective General Idea, which adopted theatrical dress, pseudonyms and an ironic stance to lend the group’s subversive politics a playful edge. “It was a magnificent pageant,” one Toronto artist recalls.
After two years of art school, Harrison quit, announcing her intention to become a writer. Her pen name, A.S.A. Harrison, was a riff on stuffiness, and masked her gender. With the artist AA Bronson she wrote a porn novel, Lena, under the name A.C. McWhortle; published in 1970, it was quickly banned. She married the video artist Rodney Werden and, armed with a reel-to-reel recorder, began interviewing women for her 1974 book Orgasms, a series of Q&As that dealt frankly with women and sexual climax. Its cover, designed by Bronson, depicts the inner workings of the female sex; the back flap features a snapshot of someone other than Harrison, an inside joke but also part of a serious artistic project to make the ordinary strange. Another photo from the period shows the real Harrison as full-bodied, wearing a tuxedo, great owl glasses and the stern expression of a Dadaist prankster. “She deconstructed prettiness,” says the author Susan Swan, a friend. “She wanted to be larger than life, and she was.” She yearned too for a large audience—to put “new wine in old wine skins” by revamping pop culture forms. Under the guidance of the performance artist and stripteaser Margaret Dragu she experimented with striptease herself, and toured Quebec. In a book written with Dragu, Revelations: essays on striptease and sexuality, she used clipped prose to explore the topic: “Canada has the best striptease in the world,” she began.
By Brian Bethune - Tuesday, May 7, 2013 at 8:39 AM - 0 Comments
Heaven is hot again, and hell is colder than ever
Death, it seems, is no longer Shakespeare’s undiscovered country, the one “from whose bourn no traveller returns.” Not according to contemporary bestseller lists. Dreams and visions of the afterlife have been constants across human history, and the near-death experiences (now known as NDEs) of those whose lives were saved by medical advances have established, for millions, a credible means by which someone could peek into the next world. Lately a fair-sized pack of witnesses claim to have actually entered into the afterlife before coming back again to write mega-selling accounts of what they saw and felt there. Afterlife speculation has become a vibrant part of the zeitgeist, the result of trends that include developments in neuroscience that have inspired new ideas about human consciousness, the ongoing evolution of theology, both popular and expert, and the hopes and fears of an aging population. Heaven is hot again. And hell is colder than ever.
Recent polls across the developed world are starting to tell an intriguing tale. In the U.S., religion central for the West, belief in heaven has held steady, even ticking upwards on occasion, over the past two decades. Belief in hell is also high, but even Americans show a gap between the two articles of faith—81 per cent believed in the former in 2011, as opposed to 71 per cent accepting the latter. Elsewhere in the Western world the gap between heaven and hell believers is more of a gulf—a 2010 Canadian poll found more than half of us think there is a heaven, while fewer than a third acknowledge hell. What’s more, monotheism’s two destinations are no longer all that are on offer. In December a survey of the 1970 British Cohort group—9,000 people, currently 42 years old—found half believed in an afterlife, while only 31 per cent believed in God. No one has yet delved deeply into beliefs about the new afterlife—the cohort surveyors didn’t ask for details—but reincarnation, in an newly multicultural West, is one suggested factor. So too is belief in what one academic called “an unreligious afterlife,” the natural continuation of human consciousness after physical death.
By Manisha Krishnan - Tuesday, May 7, 2013 at 7:32 AM - 0 Comments
Corrective procedures can’t guarantee an end to bullying
Kelly Jarvis still remembers being called buck-toothed as a kid. The North Vancouver mother of two had a severe overbite that didn’t get fixed until Grade 8. Even after she got rid of her braces, the insults continued. “It really bothered me,” says Jarvis. “People still teased me about how my teeth were before.”
It’s a fate she wanted to spare her son, Adam, which is partly why she had him start two-phase orthodontic treatment at the age of 7. Now, at 10, his overbite is already corrected despite the fact that he only has eight adult teeth.
In the two-phase method, kids as young as 5 wear dental appliances for a year, before switching to retainers for three or four years, until all their baby teeth fall out. Then they have regular braces for at least one more year.
By Anne Kingston - Saturday, May 4, 2013 at 6:00 AM - 0 Comments
Thousands of Finns and Angelina Jolie can’t be wrong about what Latin can do for you
Earlier last month the New York Times ran a feature on Finnish state radio’s weekly Nuntii Latini, or “Latin News,” an international news summary broadcast in the ancient, classical language. Tens of thousands were tuning in, many on iPads, the paper reported. As it turns out, Nuntii Latini has been on air for 24 years; its existence is not exactly breaking news. Still, the story couldn’t be more timely. Everywhere, Latin is rising from the grave: the Circulus Latinus Lutetiensis, or “Paris Latin Circle,” is one of a growing number of groups—real and online—gathering to chat in Latin at cafés and bars; Twitterati joust over usage on @latinlanguage; Ovid has his own Facebook page; and the recent season finale of HBO phenom Girls had a character announcing his plan to complete his Ph.D. in Latin studies to impress his girlfriend and show her he has a “bright future.”
It took Latin’s virtual disappearance for us to realize its relevance. Canadian high schools stopped making Latin study mandatory in the ’60s; classical education was deemed irrelevant and, worse, “Eurocentric.” Even the Catholic Church dropped Latin from official mass. Time only seemed to reinforce its irrelevance: who needs grammar, verb declension or vocabulary skills to text “r u ok?” Even august Harvard professor and psycholinguist Stephen Pinker trashed Latin in his 2007 book The Language Instinct: “Latin declensional paradigms are not the best way to convey the inherent beauty of grammar,” he wrote. He prefers computer programming and universal grammar on the grounds they are “about living minds and not dead tongues.”
But Latin’s unfamiliarity also made it exotically erudite, as displayed on celebrity tattoos: Angelina Jolie’s Quod me nutrit me distrust (“What nourishes me also destroys me”) on her stomach, Ut amem et foveam (“So that I love and cherish”) on David Beckham’s arm. Knowing Latin even conferred celebrity status: Italian reporter Giovanna Chirri became an instant star with her scoop that Pope Benedict XVI planned to retire.
By Martin Patriquin - Thursday, May 2, 2013 at 11:40 AM - 0 Comments
He was a magician and a musician, but theatre was his first love
Gregory James Dowlen was born March 12, 1961, in the village of Codicote, north of London, England, to Edward Mark Dowlen, a research engineer, and Rosemary Philippa Craven Midgley, an artist and teacher. Each of the seven Dowlen children was expected to learn two instruments; at five, James (he went by his middle name) took up the piano and clarinet. He also learned magic, and was able to cut a deck of cards with one hand, 50 times in a row. He became one of the youngest members accepted into the Magic Circle, a London order of magicians.
Stricken with lymphatic cancer, his mother lost the use of her right arm at 43. Undeterred, she taught herself to paint with her left hand, and had painted portraits of all her children by the time she died two years later. Family life became unsettled in the wake of her death. His father, who until then designed guided weapons for English Electric, remarried and became a priest.
At 13, Jim, as he now called himself, left his home for the streets of London, with stints at his godmother’s house in the city’s north. Surviving on the streets required resourcefulness. He joined a typing pool—he could type in excess of 125 words a minute—and learned how to breathe fire. He also found work with London theatre troupes and moved to Hunky Dory, a teeming, chaotic residence run by a barrister named Henry.
At 19 he met Patricia Kramer, who at 18 had fled Vancouver for London, and the pair bonded over similar family hardships. She saw a beautiful young man with thick, straight red hair who, at five foot ten, was the same height as her, and who smoked as though there was a looming tobacco shortage. They were married five weeks later at the Marylebone registry office in Westminster. He signed their marriage certificate as “Greg Kramer,” itself a marriage of his first name and Patricia’s last.
The pair moved to Vancouver in April 1981, lulled by the promise of theatre work and a proper place to live. The two produced and performed “Cute Tricks,” a travelling magic revue, in Vancouver bars and theatres. Artistically, Greg was nearly everything: musician, writer, director, actor. He was also gay. He and Patricia split in 1982, though they wouldn’t formally divorce for another eight years.
Greg contracted HIV sometime in the mid ’80s, though it hardly affected his work. He became a staple of Vancouver’s fringe theatre scene, through which the word of his acting and directing ability began to spread. His theatrical roles included the Sheriff of Nottingham in Robin Hood, Marquis de Sade in Sade, Antonio in The Tempest and Lucifer in Creation. “I think Greg was in touch with darkness,” says long-time friend Richard Cliff. “It was part of his nature not to shy away from it.” In 2006’s Hellenic-era action movie 300, Greg played a hooded Spartan overlord. He played the wandering vagrant Mississippi Gene in 2012’s On The Road, and contributed a song to the film’s soundtrack. He voiced characters in video games such as Assassin’s Creed. He had a recurring role as a vampire on the television series Forever Knight. He wrote several novels. “He was also a hell of a knitter,” Cliff says.
His first love, though, was theatre. He garnered several Montreal English Critics Circle Awards for his work, including a best actor nod for Player’s Advice to Shakespeare and best director for Cat On a Hot Tin Roof.
In the spring of 2004, tired of being out of breath, Greg quit his two-pack-a-day smoking habit. One month later, doctors found a large tumour in his chest, and removed one of his lungs. Again, it hardly affected his work. “People, I’m doing this with one lung!” he belted in 2004, as he and a cast struggled through a rehearsal for Oliver!
Last year, Greg returned to B.C. to write a stage adaptation of Sherlock Holmes, in which he was set to act at Montreal’s Segal Centre this summer. He was to play Inspector Lestrade, the scheming foil to Inspector Holmes, played by Hollywood actor Jay Baruchel. “He couldn’t have been more self-effacing and collaborative,” says Baruchel of the sometimes-fraught exercise of reading someone else’s work with them. “He wasn’t precious or protective about it. He knew I had to be invested in the character.”
Greg was uncharacteristically late for the first rehearsal of Sherlock Holmes. After 45 minutes, another cast member received a call. Greg had been found dead in his apartment in Montreal’s Plateau district. The cause of his death was not known as of early this week. He was 51.
By Jessica Allen - Tuesday, April 30, 2013 at 8:43 AM - 0 Comments
Spoiler alert: Canada is shut out….again
The World’s 50 Best Restaurants, an “annual snapshot of the opinions and experiences of over 900 international restaurant industry experts” sponsored by S. Pellegrino, was released on Apr. 29.
El Celler De Can Roca restaurant in Girona, Spain moved up from being ranked second last year to first place, while the Copenhagen temple of foraged food, Noma, fell to second place after placing first for the last three years in a row. Rounding out the third position is Osteria Francescana, which has secured a spot in the top five for three years in a row making it the highest ranked Italian restaurant for the past five years.
Rounding out the top 10 are restaurants from the U.S., Austria, Brazil, Germany, Spain and England.
Once again, Canada did not make the cut–not even placing in the top 100.
Have we ever? Yes: Michael Stadtländer’s Eigensinn Farm came in at number nine in 2002–the list’s inaugural year–and dropped to number 28 the next year, while Susur Lee’s Susur, which closed in 2008, came in 49th place in 2002. But for the last 10 years, this country’s finest eateries have been shut out of the top 50.
There’s a bright side, sort of: The list’s organizers “believe it is an honourable survey of current tastes and a credible indicator of the best places to eat around the globe,” but ”it can never be definitive.”
By Jessica Allen - Tuesday, April 30, 2013 at 7:16 AM - 0 Comments
I didn’t watch Monday night’s episode of Top Chef Canada, now in its third season, so I have no idea which of the remaining 10 chefs won the honour of creating “our new national dish”.
To be honest, I haven’t watched reality food TV in about a year now. But there was a time when it wouldn’t be uncommon for me to plan an evening around an episode of Top Chef or Hell’s Kitchen. In fact, the 2011 season finale of Top Chef Canada, which was the highest rated episode in Food Network Canada’s history, is the last time time I remember making an effort to tune in.
I may not be the only enthusiastic-turned-apathetic reality food TV viewer: The Emmy and James Beard-award winning American Top Chef on Bravo is the number one rated food show on cable. They just crowned their 10th winner (and only the second female to win) at the end of February. But their season premiere ratings peaked during 2008′s fifth season with 2.7 million viewers and has declined every year since. (Season 9′s premiere in 2011 had 1.6 million viewers.)
By Charlie Gillis - Monday, April 29, 2013 at 5:20 PM - 0 Comments
Brian Burke is thought to have struck a blow for accountability on the web with his defamation suit against 18 internet commenters, who last January spread rumours suggesting the erstwhile Toronto Maple Leafs general manager had an affair with sports TV anchor Hazel Mae.
“This will be a very public reminder to people that you can get sued for what you publish on the Internet,” libel lawyer Rider Gilliland told the Toronto Star in a typical response.
But is nabbing pseudonymous trolls the slam-dunk some analysts suggest?
Not by a long shot, says Michelle Awad, a Nova Scotia lawyer who fought a similar case, and has argued issues of Internet anonymity before the Supreme Court of Canada. While it’s true that case law empowers plaintiffs to unmask commenter who post libelous material, she says, the practical hurdles are considerable.
For starters, many web messages originate from IP addresses that host multiple users, such as cafés with unsecured wireless. “Once you have your court order,” Awad explains, “you go to the Internet service provider and ask for the customer information that goes with a particular IP address. But if it’s wireless Internet in a hotel lobby, you’re not going to get very far.”
Information held by the website where the comments are posted can be no more helpful, she adds. “Sometimes they log and say ‘I’m the Easter Bunny at Gmail.’ The site’s automatic registration system doesn’t recognize that’s probably not real.” At that point, says Awad, the plaintiff might take his court order to the webmail host—Google, say, or Yahoo—and seek user information from them. But there again, people can set up pseudonymous accounts from IP addresses that host many users.
So from a legal point of view, the web remains an untamed and unfriendly environment.
The better question arising from Burke’s suit: why does it name commenters but not websites or media companies? Sites, after all, are typically easy to trace to a specific IP address, and the offending statements in this case landed on some well-read ones. Moreover, those linked to major media agencies have deeper pockets, which means a successful plaintiff has the prospect of winning significant financial damages. The messages that so angered Burke appeared on, among other sites, Hockeyinsideout.com, a Montreal Canadiens-themed site run by the Gazette newspaper and owned by the Postmedia newspaper chain; and a popular blog called Canuckscorner.com.
At least one clue lies in a statement Burke’s lawyer, Peter Gall, issued Friday saying his client will seek damages from “everyone who has failed to take down these lies” when Burke first asked them to. According to Awad, the case law on a website operator’s responsibility is far from settled, but the courts look more kindly on sites that take responsibility for what they publish—who make a reasonable effort given the reach of their websites and their resources. Editors with Hockeyinsideout, for example, closely monitor comments, encouraging readers to alert them to potentially defamatory material and taking it down when they decide it crosses the line (a message from a commenter identified as ‘Ncognito’, who is named in Burke’s suit, is no longer on the site).
But others seem keen to play with fire. As the Star noted Saturday, one of the defendants named in the suit, THEzbrad, is linked to a blog where the comments appeared, and where an anonymously posted message this weekend dismissed the suit as “ridiculous.” “Burke obviously did not appreciate these few comments,” the post added, “but the fact that he is going to attempt to sue online commentators is pretty hilarious.”
That’s admirably nonchalant. But here’s some free advice to THEzbrad: take some time out from laughing and get yourself a lawyer.
By macleans.ca - Sunday, April 28, 2013 at 9:40 AM - 0 Comments
The Almost Famous award offers a glimpse of what the chefs of tomorrow can do
The cachet of the annual S. Pellegrino “world’s best restaurant” list has apparently rubbed off on its baby sibling competition for up-and-coming North American cooks: the S. Pellegrino Almost Famous Chef Awards. Seated at the judging table for the finals last month at the Napa, Calif., campus of the Culinary Institute of America, awaiting the first contestant’s plate, I noticed something odd in my scoring guidelines. None of a possible 50 points was set aside for evaluating the way food was presented on the plate, while 10 were earmarked for assessing how candidates performed at the microphone, explaining their dishes and answering questions.
“I didn’t realize all that chit-chat was key to being a good chef,” I remarked to fellow judge Tony Mantuano, executive chef of Chicago’s Spiaggia, the Michelin-starred Italian restaurant. “It is now,” he replied. Most chefs I know of Mantuano’s generation entered the profession without sparing a second’s thought as to their communications skills—unless it was to congratulate themselves for choosing a trade in which they did not matter a whit. By contrast, most young cooks I meet now seem to regard cooking school as an inconveniently long audition for the Food Network.
But you could not make such a generalization of the Almost Famous finalists. The 10 contestants—nine Americans and one Canadian—were each winners of regional competitions. They were all about to complete culinary school. And the paths that had taken them there were as diverse and unexpected as the places they hoped to go next. Ryan Trinkofsky, a Floridian of Russian Jewish extraction, had been studying music and giving private lessons on the side, when the South Asian mother of a pupil offered him cooking lessons in lieu of payment. So it came to pass that Ryan discovered a passion for samosas that he had never experienced for knishes.
Kristen Thibeault, meanwhile, was a decade into a career in marketing when she was diagnosed with cancer. She emerged from the gruelling treatment with her health restored—and as a vegan, committed to her original dream of being a chef. Another contestant just wanted a way out of bartending. Few expressed a desire to own a restaurant. The most conventional was our own Jean-Christophe Comtois, who attends École hôtelière de la Capital in Quebec City, cooks at a good local bistro (Clocher Pencher), and is male—one of just three in the competition.
“I’ve never been in a kitchen with so many women,” remarked Mark McEwan, one of two Canadian chef judges (along with Susur Lee), as earlier that day we watched the contestants scramble about the kitchen. Their challenge had been to put together a spontaneous dish from a black box of mystery ingredients: flawlessly fresh fillets of Atlantic cod, some pasta clams, a cluster of top-quality blue mussels. Everything else that could possibly be desired—from fish stock to galangal—was readily available from the pantry. Thibeault’s dish of poached cod with gnocchi and sauce verte was up first. She had clearly tasted it just before serving it. And that was impressive not just because she had to temporarily shelve her vegan principles to do so, but rather because tasting what you serve is apparently no longer taught at culinary school, or shown in enough dramatic slo-mo on the Food Network—because the plates that followed featured fish that was cold, or raw, or overcooked to mush, or underseasoned. None of that happens when you taste before you serve.
Unless of course you do not know what fish is supposed to taste like—and in the U.S., where the most widely consumed seafood is frozen shrimp, followed by tinned tuna, this is a possibility. That seafood was outside our contestants’ comfort zone was confirmed on day two: when challenged to prepare their “signature dish,” only one contestant cooked something that swam. The eating improved immeasurably. But it was Thibeault, the vegan, who won the day and the competition with an exceptional dish of porcini-crusted mock-sweetbreads with wild mushrooms and crisp-fried vegetables. Nicely explained, too. She may not be headed for the real S. Pellegrino list—but she is one to keep an eye on all the same.
By Jessica Allen - Thursday, April 25, 2013 at 1:00 PM - 0 Comments
Faith Wallis, a professor at McGill University, was looking through a manuscript in Cambridge when she came across a series of food recipes. Realizing that they predated the previously earliest known Medieval recipes by about 150 years, I’m guessing she–an expert in medieval history and science–was ecstatic.
The latin manuscript consists of both food recipes, like “hen in winter”–essentially chicken with garlic, pepper and sage–along with ointments. “Some of the medical potions in this book seem to have stood the test of time,” Giles Gasper, a professor at the Institute of Medieval and Early Modern Studies at Durham University told his institution. “Some emphatically haven’t! But we’re looking forward to finding out whether these newly-discovered recipes have done so and whether they also possess what you might call a certain Je Ne Sais Quoi – or Quidditas, to use the Latin.”
“The sauces typically feature parsley, sage, pepper, garlic, mustard and coriander which I suspect may give them a middle eastern, Lebanese feel when we recreate them,” said Gasper. “According to the text, one of the recipes comes from the Poitou region of what is now modern central western France. This proves international travellers to Durham brought recipes with them.”
On his website Eat Medieval, Gasper said that the recipes “would appear to date from the mid-later 12th century, which makes them amongst the earliest in the western tradition.” They were compiled and written at Durham Cathedral’s priory around 1160. (Footnote to film fans: interiors of the Romanesque cathedral were featured in the 1998 movie Elizabeth, starring Cate Blanchett.)
Gasper and his colleagues will attempt to recreate some of the recipes on Apr. 25 at Blackfriars, a restaurant housed in a 14th century Dominican friary. And if you live near Newcastle, you can taste some of the dishes yourself on the following Saturday when a lunchtime Medieval-style feast will take place, along with a lecture on “Food in Medieval England”.
The rest of us will have to wait for the cookbook, which is in the works.
By Manisha Krishnan - Tuesday, April 23, 2013 at 8:00 PM - 0 Comments
An accomplished DJ and martial artist, he was a gentle giant, once lauded as a hero for chasing down a robber
Frank Simchak Jr. was born on Sept. 3, 1982, in New Westminster, B.C., the third child and only son of Frank Sr., a drywaller, and Susan, a homemaker. In chasing construction booms for work, Frank Sr. moved the family around often. When Frank was 2, they left for Los Angeles.
With his sisters, Susan and Helen, eight and six years older, respectively, Frank was the baby and the blue-eyed object of his dad’s affection. As a preschooler, his father took him fishing for the first time. Frank couldn’t throw the line far, but he managed to reel in a five-inch catch. “He was running all over, showing it to people he didn’t even know,” recalls Frank Sr.
The family moved back to B.C. in 1989, settling in Port Coquitlam. From a young age, Frank was protective of those closest to him. At age 6, he met Brent Aldred, a four-year-old who lived in the same apartment complex. “This kid was actually beating me up and Frank came and stopped it,” recalls Brent. The two became best friends.
By Julia McKinnell - Tuesday, April 23, 2013 at 10:49 AM - 0 Comments
How to comfort the afflicted — the right way
It may not have been the book that readers of Ms. magazine expected Letty Cottin Pogrebin to write. A founding editor of Ms., Pogrebin is better known for exploring gender issues in books like How to Make It In a Man’s World. But her experience of having breast cancer at age 70 showed her how unsure people are of how to behave when confronted with illness or loss. In How to Be a Friend to a Friend Who Is Sick, Pogrebin gives practical advice drawn from that experience as well as from sick people she’s interviewed.
On the list of what not to say is what one friend said to Marian Fontana, who was diagnosed with breast cancer eight years after her firefighter husband was killed at the World Trade Center. The friend exclaimed, “Wow, you must have really bad karma!”
But according to Pogrebin, one of the most basic conversational openers, “How are you?” can just as easily upset sick people. Some feel as though they can’t be normal until their friends stop pelting them with portentous “how are yous.” One woman with cancer said that the three-word question struck her as an invitation to confide the worst. “Rather than see me as me, the asker viewed me as a cancer victim!” A better option is, “It’s good to see you today,” suggests Pogrebin. Or, if you do ask, “How are you?” follow it with, “I know that’s not a great question but I really do want to know.” Then be prepared to listen attentively and know that some sick people may describe their condition graphically. “Let them talk about whatever they want. It’s not going to kill you to hear about their bowel movements. Bear in mind that what strikes you as oversharing may constitute the entirety of your sick friend’s reality.”
By Edward Riche - Tuesday, April 23, 2013 at 5:00 AM - 0 Comments
Neither surf nor turf, seal challenges expectations of taste, but feeds a culture
My family has been involved in sealing for more than five generations. Few of us were actual “swilers,” hunters risking the ice floes to harvest animals. We are instead devoted eaters of seal, phocid gourmets. In the Riches’ love affair with seal cookery my great-grandmother, whom I never met, stands out for her passion. A formidable woman with a striking resemblance to Winston Churchill, she was the go-to midwife in the east end of “Sin Jahns” at the turn of the last century. Uncles told how, when the sealing vessels returned to St. John’s she would dispatch a grandchild to purchase the first, dearest flippers brought ashore. She would sample the flesh the moment it came in the door, blood running down her chin. Great Grandmother was, after a hard winter, likely suffering from a vitamin or mineral deficiency that compelled her to such behaviour.
My wife is from Nova Scotia; some of her ancestors are Palatinate Germans, and she is not a fan. My theory is that one cannot, later in life, make seals’ distinctly fishy taste jibe with its intense—the red of the flesh veers to black—meatiness. The common murre, the migratory sea bird known here as turr, is another delicacy that challenges this expectation of taste. With a diet consisting primarily of capelin, their flesh takes on a piscine attribute. To the tongue, turr is neither fish nor fowl, seal neither surf nor turf, but rather both at once.
When I was a boy, the meat was purchased from sealers off the large vessels at the harbour apron. That seal [was] “seasoned” during the return to port, the blubber coming to possess a funky rancidity. These days the boats involved in the much smaller hunt possess such sophisticated refrigeration that the raw meat has a delicate scent. While the smell of seal cooking is distinctive, it doesn’t linger in the house like it used to. The white-coats, the dew-eyed “baby seals” that attracted so much misplaced pity, and drew the outraged likes of Brigitte Bardot to our shores, are no longer taken. The meat now comes from the older, less camera-ready Raggedy Jacks. I buy mine at one of two local seafood shops or at Belbin’s, a grocery in the east end. It’s sold on Styrofoam trays wrapped in cellophane.
By Jessica Allen - Sunday, April 21, 2013 at 8:00 AM - 0 Comments
“I wanted to give others the opportunity to see the nature of a pristine planet”
Photographer Sebastião Salgado was high on a mountaintop somewhere between the town of Lalibela and Simien National Park in northern Ethiopia when he found out, via satellite phone, that Barack Obama had been elected President of the United States. When the 69-year-old Brazilian told the 19 Ethiopian men who accompanied him on the two-month-long, 850-km walk, they celebrated. “Obama would have never imagined how elated these people were in this corner of the planet,” he says, “because he won.”
The resulting 245 photographs of this trek, and the others Salgado took over eight years—travelling by boat, balloon, plane, car and foot in 32 different locations, still untouched by the sometimes-heavy hand of human progress—form Genesis, his latest exhibit, which opens May 4 at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto as part of this year’s Scotiabank Contact Photography Festival.