Tantalizing Tidbits For March

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From birthdays to plastic surgery to hockey, there are a number of small tidbits and factoids to spark your curiosities from March’s issue of Zoomer Magazine.


This March, Canadian environmental icon David Suzuki turns 80. Also, others born this month include Dr. Seuss and Bruce Willis. No word on whether Willis, who turns 61 this month, will ever play Red Fish or Blue Fish, but he does have three new films in the can for this year and is rumoured to be reprising his role as John McClane in the next Die Hard instalment. –KI

Don’t Worry. Be Happy … or Not

We’re not sure whether this is good news or bad news, but a new study published in The Lancet has found that neither unhappiness nor happiness has a direct effect on mortality.

The findings are significant because the results come from a 10-year study of a million women in the U.K. The widespread belief that unhappiness and stress directly cause ill health came from studies that had confused cause and effect, reports The Lancet. Previous reports of reduced mortality being associated with happiness, with being in control, with being relaxed or with related measures of well-being had not allowed properly for the strong effect of ill health on unhappiness and on stress.

“Illness makes you unhappy, but unhappiness itself doesn’t make you ill,” said study author Dr. Bette Liu.

Five out of six of the women who participated in the study said they were generally happy, but one in six said they were generally unhappy. As in other studies, unhappiness was associated with deprivation, smoking, lack of exercise and not living with a partner. The strongest associations, however, were that the women who were already in poor health tended to say that they were unhappy, stressed, not in control and not relaxed.

The main analyses included 700,000 women, average age 59 years. After allowing for any differences already present in health and lifestyle, the overall death rate among those who were unhappy was the same as the death rate among those who were generally happy. The study is so large that it rules out unhappiness being a direct cause of any material increase in overall mortality, in women. This was true for overall mortality, for cancer mortality and for heart disease mortality, and it was true for stress as well as for unhappiness. Got that? —Judy Gerstel

 Marathon Man

John Wragg, a 65-year-old Mississauga, Ont., man has set a new world record for completing the most ironman triathlons – 200 to be exact. Considered one of the toughest competitions in the world with nearly four kilometres of swimming, 180 kilometres of cycling and a full marathon. All the more amazing is that Wragg had hip replacement surgery in 2008 after being hit by a truck. “The orthopedic surgeons, after the second surgery, said that I was never going to do another race,” he told reporters, after his achievement garnered him a slew of media attention. “They told me to go find a new sport, so I went out and found a new doctor.” Wragg continues to train every day, adding, “My first rest day will be the first year I’m dead.” –KI

 Plastic Fantastic

According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons 2014 Plastic Surgery Report, the largest cohort for cosmetic surgery isn’t the oldest. While boomers certainly indulged – nearly four million procedures, or 26 per cent, in total – it’s Generation X who stormed the doctor’s office with more than seven million procedures, totalling 50 per cent of all procedures. The most popular enhancement across both age groups? Botox, with more than five million treatments injected. –KI

Go to Your Room

Jennifer Adams’ journey to sound sleep included navigating through snoring, sleep apnea, discordant sleep schedules and resorting to sleeping pills before ending with a divide-and-conquer policy. She and her husband happily sleep apart and she believes separate bedrooms can lead to happier, healthier relationships. And she may be on to something. Sleep deprivation can have health consequences that include high blood pressure and weakened immunity and has also been shown to affect how couples relate. Something as benign as mismatched body clocks can result in more arguments.

Of course, separate bedrooms may not seem a particularly romantic notion to some, let alone fulfill social expectations – floor plans don’t normally feature two masters, after all. But her book, Sleeping Apart Not Falling Apart, serves as a practical guide packed with research about sleep, first-hand accounts and tips – from getting buy-in to doing nightly tuck-ins to maintain pre-sleep rituals like cuddling and pillow talk.

And if it’s a loss of intimacy that keeps you sleeplessly together, studies have shown that sleep-deprived individuals actually report lower libidos. So beyond a better night’s rest, sleeping separately may in fact lead to the kind of sleepless night you’re happy to have. —Tara Losinski

A Dollar Short

History tells us that whenever the Canadian dollar sags against its U.S. counterpart, it spells tough times ahead for our professional sports franchises. The problem is that all the revenue each team generates comes in loonies, but player salaries are paid out in U.S. greenbacks. So when our dollar languishes around the US$0.70 level (as it was at press time), teams north of the border are whacked by what amounts to a 30 per cent penalty on all revenues. The exasperating exchange rate affects the Toronto Blue Jays and Raptors but takes a huge bite out of teams in smaller markets: Winnipeg, Ottawa, Calgary and Edmonton. They must strive to remain competitive despite playing on an uneven ice surface. Flashback to the late 1980s: with our loonie cratering to US$0.69, money woes forced Peter Pocklington, the impecunious owner of the Edmonton Oilers, to sell superstar Wayne Gretzky to the L.A. Kings. Less than a decade later, the downward spiralling dollar, which bottomed out at US$0.63, put the Quebec Nordiques and Winnipeg Jets in such dire financial straits that they were compelled to relocate to the U.S., Denver and Phoenix respectively. To avoid the catastrophes we saw in the ’80s and ’90s, we must help teams cope with the lousy exchange rate. Here are a few suggestions that could help each Canadian team raise revenue, slash costs and weather the turbulent times.

Vancouver Canucks: Capitalize on local real estate boom by converting half of arena to condos.

Calgary Flames: Reduce the expense of replacing broken sticks by banning slapshots.

Edmonton Oilers: Sell lottery tickets to win a fun-filled night in owner Daryl Katz’s private box.

Winnipeg Jets: Save on operating costs by having players drive the Zamboni during intermissions.

Ottawa Senators: Apply to Liberal government for funding under the promised infrastructure program.

Montreal Canadiens: Bottle and sell whatever it is that fuels P.K. Subban.

Toronto Maple Leafs: Create extra revenue by winning the Stanley Cup more than once every 50 years.

On second thought, that last suggestion might be just a bit unrealistic.

Cashing Out?

Apple CEO Tim Cook made waves recently when he told a crowd of university-aged students in Ireland, “Your kids will not know what money is.” The 55-year-old head of the cutting-edge tech company suggested that a generation from now, using money – i.e., paper currency and coins – to pay for goods and services will be phased out in favour of increasingly popular methods such as debit, credit and, lately, apps that allow you to pay via smartphone. Will Cook’s prediction of a cashless economy come to pass? It should be noted that he has a vested interested in this prophecy as his own company is already a huge player in the digital payment field – Apple Pay was launched in Canada last November. –PM

Oscar Watch

Two of last year’s much lauded films were about and starred men and women over 60. The first, Youth, featured Michael Caine and Harvey Keitel as two friends – a composer and a filmmaker – on vacation in the Swiss Alps reflecting on their lives and fading careers. Jane Fonda, who plays an aging diva in the film, nabbed a Golden Globe nom for best supporting actress. The second, 45 Years, starred Tom Courtenay and Charlotte Rampling as a couple on the cusp of planning their wedding anniversary when a letter arrives that shakes their marriage to the core. Rampling has turned out to be an awards and festival darling, receiving best actress wins at the Berlin International Film Festival and Los Angeles Film Critics Association among many others. At press time, it’s too soon to tell if either will get any love from the Academy, but they are certainly going to find a receptive audience with mature moviegoers. —KI


The photo A Tale of Two Foxes (above) by Don Gutoski, 65, of London, Ont., nabbed the top prize at this year’s prestigious international Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition. Until March 20, lovers of wildlife photography can get an eyeful of Gutoski’s work as well as other prize-winning Canadian photos and more from this year’s competition, on display at the Royal Ontario Museum.


Glass Screening

Women’s History Month

It’s too early to call the election south of the border, but we can say that Hillary Clinton has a better chance of becoming the 45th president of the United States than she has of directing a $100 million Hollywood blockbuster. Last year, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) contacted the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to complain about gender discrimination in Hollywood’s hiring practices – since then, female directors as well as executives, agents and other industry players have been called for interviews. Many women hope this will alter the landscape, but to what degree remains to be seen. But 2016 may prove to be the year of the woman both behind and in front of the camera. –KI

Now See This

The 2002 original remains the largest grossing independent film of all time, so the only surprise is that it took so long for My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 to land in theatres. Canadian writer, actress and producer Nia Vardalos (and former Zoomer cover subject) and John Corbett return for the sequel.

Even if superheroes aren’t your thing, it will be tough to ignore Batman v Superman – Ben Affleck and Henry Cavill – respectively. If nothing else, seeing this flick will have you nostalgic for the pre-ironic good guys.

The quirky Coen Brothers with George Clooney are back with Hail, Caesar!, about a Hollywood “fixer” in the 1950s brought in to solve the mystery of a missing star.

Fans of track and field will run, not walk, to Race, a biopic about Jesse Owens and his Olympic appearance at the 1936 Games where he faced off against Hitler’s Aryan nation. Starring Canuck Stephan James (Selma). –KI

the Zoomer Q

Adrienne Clarkson on why Stompin’ Tom is still so beloved

“I think the reason why he’s loved so much is that people recognize themselves in him and in what he writes about because it’s their town, it’s their hockey, it’s their potato. It’s theirs. He gives us all a kind of ownership on our own lives and … he makes us feel that we own what we know we are part of.”

Clarkson appears and performs as part of Whiskey Jack Presents Stories and Songs of Stompin’ Tom, a posthumous 80th birthday tribute to Stompin’ Tom Connors at Hugh’s Room in Toronto on Feb. 9. For more information or to purchase tickets, call 416-531-6604.

Native Son

Hall of Fame musician and songwriter Robbie Robertson has turned his immense talents to authoring a children’s book. In Hiawatha and the Peacemaker (exquisitely illustrated by David Shannon), Robertson’s tale of Hiawatha, which he first heard as a child from a tribal elder, the Mohawk warrior seeks revenge against an evil chief who was responsible for killing his wife and three daughters. Things change with the arrival of the Peacemaker who needs Hiawatha’s help uniting the five nations of the Iroquois people. It is on this journey that Hiawatha undergoes a transformation of consciousness. The book also includes a CD with an original song performed by Robertson as well as historical notes and an author’s note. –KI