That, and they look kind of silly
Russian champion ice dancers Oksana Domnina and Maxim Shabalin wowed European judges with their program based on Australian Aboriginal music and dress, but they face an uncertain welcome at Olympic competition in Vancouver. Their costumes, dark-toned bodysuits decorated with paint, eucalyptus leaves and red loincloths, have enraged Australian Aboriginal leaders. Spokesmen for the four Olympic host First Nations in B.C. have already said they want to meet with the skaters to discuss issues of cultural sensitivity.
The photo of sleeping Toronto Transit Commission fare collector George Robitaille has become, it must be said, the sleeper hit of the Internet. Since the picture taken by Jason Wieler was posted online and then displayed on the front of Friday’s Toronto Sun, Photoshoppers have had a field day with the “TTC Sleeper”: having him nap with Homer Simpson at the Springfield nuclear plant, inserting him into the iconic painting of the Last Supper, replacing his head with Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s. Robitaille blamed medication for a heart procedure and said he was sorry if he embarrassed his fellow workers and the TTC.
Every Rose has his thorn
Has Axl Rose taken his feud with ex-bandmate Slash to a new level? The gossip site TMZ reports fans attending a Guns N’ Roses concert in Regina last Wednesday were told by security to turn Slash T-shirts inside out, and to leave his signature top hats outside. Later, Rose’s camp issued a denial that any sort of apparel was banned. Still, there’s bad blood aplenty. When Slash recently floated the idea of an earthquake relief fundraiser, an angry Rose twittered: “Pretty low n’ selfish usin’ the devastation in Haiti 2 start (false) reunion rumors.”
Lost, and found
David Idlout has a missing snowmobile and a big satellite phone bill, but odds are he won’t complain. The Inuit hunter from Resolute, Nunavut, spent almost four days on a crumbling ice floe drifting toward the Northwest Passage. He’d set out to retrieve a snowmobile that broke down while he was scouting for seals when the floe broke away from the ice pack. He used a satellite phone to reach his wife, who called search and rescue. A military plane dropped supplies, but equipment problems and bad weather delayed the rescue by a helicopter crew from CFB Greenwood, N.S., until Monday.
Tinker, Taylor, diplomat, spy
Those Austin Powers-style glasses should have been a clue. Ken Taylor, Canada’s former ambassador to Iran, was hailed as a hero for sheltering six Americans in his official residence after they avoided capture when militant students seized the U.S. Embassy in 1979. Now it turns out Taylor’s role went far beyond smuggling the Americans out of Iran in 1980 on false Canadian passports. He also spied for the Americans, gathering intelligence for a planned U.S. rescue of hostages trapped in the U.S. Embassy, according to Our Man in Tehran, a new book by Robert Wright. Taylor served “as the de facto CIA station chief in Tehran,” says Wright. “It was extremely dangerous work,” he writes.
TV to the rescue
American network medical correspondents, at least those who are also certified doctors, have pulled double duty while covering the earthquake in Haiti. Dr. Nancy Snyderman of NBC treated a man with an infection, trying to keep him alive until a necessary amputation could be performed. And CNN correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta, a neurosurgeon, treated several patients, even operating to remove debris fragments from a 12-year-old girl’s brain. “Yes, I am a reporter,” he said, “but a doctor first.” In a different vein, actor and Scientologist John Travolta, another camera-friendly face, underwrote the cost of a plane to Haiti, staffed with food, medics and 80 volunteer Scientology ministers to assist with “spiritual first aid”—and maybe administer some of those personality tests.
Maybe Don Cherry can make peace
Ron MacLean is supposed to be the reasonable half of the Hockey Night in Canada tag team. But his Jan. 16 attack on Vancouver Canuck forward Alex Burrows inspired the entire team to boycott CBC on-air interviews last Saturday night. MacLean accused Burrows of being a chronic diver to draw penalties, and discredited Burrows’s claim that referee Stéphane Auger threatened to take revenge on Burrows for making him look stupid with a previous call. MacLean declined to apologize, so when Vancouver hammered the Chicago Blackhawks 5-1 last Saturday, none of the three stars, Canucks Roberto Luongo, Henrik Sedin and Ryan Kesler, would be interviewed. It’s not clear if they’ll carry their boycott to Toronto on Saturday, when they play the Leafs as part of CBC’s Hockey Day in Canada.
A Cardinal? A Padre? Nope, a priest.
Outfielder Grant Desme was a top prospect for the Oakland Athletics, with a solid reputation as a home-run hitter despite a plague of injuries. But Desme is aiming higher than the outfield fence. Last week the 23-year-old announced he was quitting baseball to enter a Catholic seminary. He now sees his injuries as “blessings” that helped sort out his priorities. His theological studies will take about 10 years, he says. “I desire and hope I become a priest.” The sudden career change is a bit, he added, like “re-entering the minor leagues.”
Senator-elect Scott Brown arrived in Washington carrying the weight of Republican expectations, but perhaps not so many clothes. Brown, who toppled the Massachusetts Democrat dynasty of the late senator Ted Kennedy, famously posed nude for Cosmopolitan magazine as a law student in 1982. His equally photogenic wife, Gail Huff, strutted in and out of a microscopic black bikini in a 1984 music video. The leaked images only helped his cause with voters. Also generating bipartisan interest among Americans is a skin-intensive Internet photo of Brown’s bikini-clad daughters Ayla and Arianna—though calling them “available” during his acceptance speech was a bit over the top. “I want a chastity belt on this man,” said right-wing broadcaster Glenn Beck. “I want his every move watched in Washington. This one could end with a dead intern,” he said, cryptically.
And for his 21st, a small country
Rapper Sean “Diddy” Combs has set a scary new standard for 16-year-old birthday bashes. He rented a hot New York bar for his son Justin Dior’s party and invited 1,000 friends. Guests included cast members from Jersey Shore and performances from the likes of Lil’ Kim and Trey Songz. MTV cameras filmed the event for an episode of My Super Sweet 16. As for prezzies, they included US$10,000, and a chauffeur-driven Maybach car worth $360,000. In a classy move, Justin donated the cash to Haitian earthquake relief.
Li Shiming was a much unloved Communist party official in Xiashuixi, China, who used corruption and hired thugs to grow rich and hold power. When he was stabbed to death in 2008, the village set off fireworks in celebration. But last Wednesday his admitted killer, Zhang Xuping, 19, was sentenced to death. Zhang was paid about $150 to do the killing by a farmer whose land was stolen by Li. A petition of 20,000 signatures asking for leniency was ignored during sentencing. Zhang’s lawyer has filed an appeal. “I wanted to kill Li myself,” said one villager, “but I was too weak.”
All the news that fits, in a D cup
The New York Times has admitted it did Mad Men star Christina Hendricks wrong. Its fashion writer had said of the low-cut, ruffled gown Hendricks wore to the Golden Globe awards: “You don’t put a big girl in a big dress.” It compounded the sin with a photo that made her even more voluptuous than the reality. It later conceded the photo was distorted “due to an error during routine processing.” No word, though, about its swipe at the “big,” all-natural Hendricks, though several siliconed starlets escaped a similar slagging.
Vlad the paler
Russian PM Vladimir Putin may be the very image of a macho man of action, but it wasn’t always so, says Tatyana Yumasheva, the daughter of former Russian president Boris Yeltsin. Yumasheva, a former presidential aide, says in her increasingly popular blog that Putin was nervous and “troubled” when Yeltsin said unexpectedly he would hand over power to him on New Year’s Eve in 1999. “It was not easy for Putin to become accustomed to the thought that in two days the responsibility for the whole country would be on his shoulders,” she says. Yumasheva may be building her profile for a return to politics. She is almost certainly enraging Russia’s most powerful man.
Trouble down under
Tennis phenom and clothing designer Venus Williams came close to stepping over the line at the Australian Open this week, but it wasn’t her feet at fault. It seemed that Williams had broken the event’s prohibition against revealing clothing by playing in a low-cut outfit without underwear. Closer examination by, oh, about every male tennis fan on earth proved she was more modestly dressed than first impressions indicated. “My dress for the Australian Open has been one of my best designs ever,” she said. “It’s all about the slits and V-neck. I am wearing undershorts the same colour as my skin, so it gives the slits in my dress the full effect!” Play on.