Canada’s luge team settles a beef and Edward Snowden adjusts to Russia

Newsmakers this week

Jeff McIntosh / CP

Meat the team

The members of Canada’s luge team could use some sponsorship money—but in lieu of money, they will accept meat. After declaring themselves “for sale” when a deal with a title sponsor fell through, the team was presented with the offer of a single cow from Alberta rancher Mark Barnert—father to the team’s strength and conditioning coach, Jeremiah. The half-dozen lugers happily accepted their cow, or, more specifically, 100 lb. of beef. “They straight up gave us beef,” said team member Alex Gough. “We got a cow we split six ways.” Several members of the team are considered medal contenders for next year’s Olympics in Russia. Conceivably few other teams will be as well fed.

Message to Madge

The Alamo Drafthouse theatre chain takes cinema etiquette seriously, with a strict no-talking and no-texting policy that applies to all audience members—even the Material Girl. After Madonna was caught using her BlackBerry throughout the New York Film Festival premiere of the slavery drama 12 Years a Slave last week, Alamo CEO Tim League issued an online missive, banning the pop star from any of the Alamo’s locations across the United States until she apologized. “I’m going to enforce it,” League told Entertainment Weekly. “I’m serious—but I don’t think it really affects her life that much.”

Another Detroit disaster

Detroit has been in such a bad way lately that the news of its former mayor, Kwame Kilpatrick, getting sentenced to 28 years in prison hardly seemed like the worst thing that could happen to the city. Kilpatrick, who was in office from 2002-08, was on trial for using city contracts to increase his own fortune, along with other corruption scandals. The judge who sentenced the former mayor said he was “not holding Kilpatrick responsible for the city’s bankruptcy.” Still, the stiff sentence should give Detroiters the misguided feeling that there’s some justice in the world.

Drinking Mother Russia’s milk

Edward Snowden, who leaked classified information about U.S. spying programs and subsequently sought refuge in Russia, is getting well-adjusted to his new homeland. According to Snowden’s first American visitors, who arrived last week to present him with an award for his whistle-blowing, Snowden is “getting to understand Russia and its culture and the people.” But Snowden is not doing so well that he is free from worry about his fate: Neither his visitors nor Snowden’s father Lon, who arrived in Moscow last week to see him, are telling anyone where exactly in the country he’s living.

Hero overboard?

Richard Phillips, the American captain who became a hostage to save his ship from Somali pirates, is now being played by Tom Hanks on the big screen. And you know what happens when someone gets famous: lawsuits! Phillips is being sued by members of his crew, who claim they only got attacked because he ignored naval warnings of a piracy problem close to shore, disregarding the notices because it saved the ship’s company money. Phillips has said the suit is meritless, but one thing is for sure: If he had played it safe, no one would know who he is today. Certainly not Tom Hanks.

Poor judgment

The mock trial of David Suzuki—to be staged at the Royal Ontario Museum as part of an exhibit on climate—has lost its real judge. Ontario Superior Court Justice Harriet Sachs has recused herself after questions were asked about her involvement in light of the fact that her common-law husband, Clayton Ruby, is involved in a dispute with the federal government concerning environmental regulations. Suzuki is to face charges of “seditious libel” after he accused Canada of crimes against the environment. At the conclusion of the trial, the public will be able to vote online on whether to find him guilty.

Mistakes were made

After 51 days in an Egyptian prison, John Greyson and Tarek Loubani arrived back in Canada last weekend to cheers and relief from loved ones and supporters. The filmmaker and doctor were detained by authorities in Egypt after a violent clash between the government and demonstrators. The two complained of brutal conditions in prison and were freed after lobbying from the federal government. “In hindsight it’s obvious we made mistakes,” Loubani said upon arriving in Toronto. “In medicine we try to embrace our mistakes, to own them, to articulate them, to learn from them. We try to make them sound fancy. We don’t call them mistakes. We call them critical errors. We made quite a few.”

A luminary of our own

Alice Munro wasn’t the only Canadian author caught in the literary spotlight this week. Eleanor Catton, the Ontario-born and New Zealand-based author, won the Man Booker Prize on Tuesday for The Luminaries, an epic mystery set during the gold rush. The 28-year-old is the youngest writer to ever win the $83,000 award, and bested such marquee names as Cólm Toibín and Jhumpa Lahiri. “This is all the more incredible to me, because The Luminaries is and was, from the very beginning, a publisher’s nightmare,” Catton said. “The shape and form of the book made certain kinds of editorial suggestions not only mathematically impossible but even more egregious, astrologically impossible.”

One great canvas

Some art collectors prize their Picassos and Pollocks. But Frans Wynans is on the hunt for an Andy Warhol painting of Wayne Gretzky. Warhol, the world-famous pop artist, was commissioned by Wynans to immortalize the hockey great on six canvases in 1983; the Vancouver-based collector kept one for himself, but had to sell it during the recent recession. Now one of the paintings is up for auction by Sotheby’s. Wynans told the CBC he was determined to get it back—even though the piece is expected to fetch $200,000. Every great art collection needs at least one hockey player in it, apparently.

Band on the run

“This beats going to class,” Paul McCartney suggested to an auditorium full of arts students in Queens, N.Y., last week. The surprise concert and Q&A session at the Frank Sinatra School of the Arts (founded by Tony Bennett in 2001) was part of McCartney’s promotion of a new album (titled, simply, New). The next day, the 71-year-old former Beatle turned up in Times Square to play a 15-minute lunchtime show on a stage constructed atop a tractor trailer, the only notice being a tweet sent out by McCartney an hour before the show. “We’re basically busking,” he quipped. “I’ll be putting a little hat out there later.”

A different sort of penalty box

Amid a locker-room discussion last week about San Jose Sharks phenom Tomas Hertl and whether he had been inappropriately showboating when he went between his legs to score a fourth goal near the end of a blowout win over the New York Rangers, San Jose forward Joe Thornton interjected with a rather crude remark about what he would do if he ever scored four goals. The Vancouver Province published the remarks and so ensued a debate about what is and what isn’t on the record. The Province says the comments were clearly on the record and Thornton said it was “OK” when asked about the publication, but the Sharks’ director of media relations condemned the newspaper. “I don’t think it would be a surprise to anyone in the industry that ‘locker room talk’ exists,” Scott Emmert said. “Professional reporters understand that concept and respect it.”

The accidental survivalist

Hollywood is probably already bidding for the story of 72-year-old Gene Penaflor, a San Francisco retiree who survived for three weeks in the wilderness without food or shelter. Penaflor was on a deer-hunting trip when he got hit on the head and became lost in the fog. Unable to find his way home, he survived by eating whatever he could trap (but no deer).

Head over heels in Boston

Baseball has a new folk hero to add to its storied history of playoff drama. The sight of veteran police office Steve Horgan cheering as Detroit Tigers outfielder Torii Hunter fell over the outfield wall in an attempt to prevent a grand slam by Boston Red Sox slugger David Ortiz, has made a minor celebrity of the officer. The slam helped Boston win the game 6-5.