30 October 2003 Vol. XXVI No. 10
U of T’s Independent Weekly
on the inside • The Scariness of 1 Spadina • The Daybreak • Novel Writing
“I’m safe with Hamas” CONTROVERSIAL ACADEMIC DEBATES MIDDLE EAST POLITICS by Peter Josselyn NEWS BUREAU
PHOTO BY MARK COATSWORTH
Members of Team Slut compete in a renegade floor duel at the 2003 Rock Paper Scissors World Championships
Rock, Paper, Scissors
They’re nothing random about the way these champs play by Jeremy Rusinek
ROCK IS THE NEW PAPER BUREAU
The World RPS championships are an annual Toronto tradition that pits the world’s greatest Rock, Paper, Scissors champions against one another each year in not-so-mortal combat for a grand prize of $5000. the newspaper sent in a team of crack reporters and veteran editors to use our adept manipulations of the three elements of decision-making power to come out victorious over all competitors. The reporting team, composed of this humble reporter and Spence “Pencil-vannia” Bruce, arrived promptly at 5:30 p.m. fearful that we would have to fight a hoard of rock throwers and paper pushers to get tickets. The portly ticket seller informed us that competitors would be admitted in for registration at 7:30 so we decided to quickly gather some rations to hold us over in the coming battles. When we returned we were shocked at the number of combatants who had arrived in our absence. Competitors large and small were there to prove their mettle and compete for the money and title of World Champion. Players were organized into teams, from the unassuming
orange hat wearing O’Keefe Breweries to the boisterous and hairy members of team Smoot. While waiting in line we met up with the other half of our quartet; the former student scribe superstars Stephen Hay and Ivor Tossell.
The emcee said: “Let your Paper be horizontal, your Scissors be vertical and your Rock be rock hard. You may begin.” Many people were preparing their weapons and talking strategy. Thus gathered we went to register for the epic trial. Each participant was given a rulebook, a schedule, a waiver and the arena where they would compete in the opening “Round of 512.” Entering into the cavernous depths of the arena we were greeted by fair MOJO maidens and a throng of media spectators. There were almost as many interviewers as interviewees; particular attention was gathered around Master Peter Lovering who had returned to defend his titles clad in his trademark green sequin bathrobe and blue
filling the hours
cowboy hat. His sage advice to young challengers was “Appear as calm as possible, that’s the most important thing. Then just clear your mind and let your opponent tell you what they are going to throw.” The emcee said, “Let your Paper be horizontal, your Scissors be vertical and your Rock be rock hard. You may begin.” After considerable ruckus and disorderliness, the first round got underway. This humble reporter was up against some stick. After successfully using a rock, rock, scissors combination to win the first round, I lost in a flurry of scissors finishing with a powerful paper covering my final rock and my opponent shouting, “That’s Rock not Right!” When I met up with my companions they had all fared better except for Ivor. He said “I stared deep into his eyes and the pressure got to me. I just cracked!” Between rounds we met the team Fate Amenable to Change also from U of T. According to team member Christopher Harlow, “Our strategy is drafting like in Cycling. Our captain is the only one with a chance so the rest of us are just here to take out the opposition. I’m the Tie Domi of RPS.” Before the `Round of 256’ Continued on Page 3
Zealots of all stripes came out for the Norman Finkelstein and David Olesker debate about Israel and Palestine. At times, it seemed the 450 strong audience was just as impassioned as the speakers. The event was the launch for SAC’s “Xpression Against Oppression Week” that features speakers, debates, and various seminars aimed at freedom of expression. Norman Finkelstein was the headliner for the event and the author of several controversial books about Israel and Jewish issues. His most contentious work is The Holocaust Industry: Reflections on the exploitation of Jewish suffering. He spoke against David Olesker who argued in favour of the Israeli position. Olesker is a communications and advocacy expert who travels and teaches his skills to others around the world.
House. The Philosophy Cafe is the newspaper’s attempt to build a community at this wretched, isolationist school. Come here resident genius Professor Doug Hutchinson speak on Sex, Love and Friendship: Epicurean Style. If you’re scared to learn something that you’re not paying for, then come for the coffee, tea or (whisper it) chocolate fondue. Our mandate is clear: delicious knowledge, and all for free.
Hot Hallowe’en Times Friday, October 31st at Club 56. Yes, we have been shameless in
encouraging people to go to Hot Times, but there’s a reason for that: it’s the best dance night in the city. Add in costumes and contests for Hallowe’en, and brother, it’s gonna blow. Go early, hipsters, to avoid disappointment.
Before the event, members from various campus organizations were distributing leaflets and information. Hillel, a Jewish organization with a branch on campus, had signs that read “Norman Finkelstein doesn’t like Nazis but they like him.” Another Hillel handout read “Norman Finkelstein is not taken seriously by academics, Jewish and non-Jewish alike.” Despite his unpopularity with some groups, Finkelstein was well received by the audience throughout the debate. Loud applause followed a comment about staying with members of Hamas in the occupied territories: “I feel perfectly safe there except for fear of Israeli soldiers.” The debate was strictly moderated by union organizer Susan Spratt. Everything was scrupulously timed to ensure that there was no appearance of partiality. Finkelstein’s debating style was elegant, though borderContinued on Page 3
Brush up on classic horror films PAGES 6–7
The Master Storyteller & his Ghosts by Nick Koppel
Ghost stories give new buildings quick history. Those who remember Robertson Davies during his years as Master of Massey College remember him best for his gift of history—a natural storyteller, he gave Massey College its mystery. Davies was always fascinated with myth. But to understand how he changed a building into an institution requires a bit of history. Massey College was founded in 1963 and was the last great gift from the Massey Foundation to U of T. The Masseys wanted their contribution to be for graduates what Hart House, another family donation, is to university life. Massey College would be a one-of-a-kind gift. To begin, Davies was asked to be the College’s first Master. Architect Ron Thom’s plans provided the physical space; Vincent Massey’s philosophy aligned Massey College with English public school integrity;
the newspaper’s guide to spending your time
Philosophy Cafe Thursday, October 30th (tonight!) at The Debate Room, Hart
the newspaper sits down with The Thrills
Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me Friday, October 31st at Innis College. 7.00pm. Part of The Free Friday Film series. Okay, so maybe no one can say if this movie is a disaster or not, but it’s a guaranteed way to start your Hallowe’en properly. Come, and decide for yourself.
Sir Christopher Ondaatje Wednesday, November 5th in the Debates Room, Hart House.
8.00pm. Aah, High Culture. This may be the only time a jerk like you will be allowed in the same room as a Knight, so you might as well go. Sir Ondaatje will read from his latest book, Hemingway in Africa: The Last Safari. C’mon, deep down, don’t you see yourself as a Hemingway Hero? Shouldn’t you go, if only to learn the facts about this guy? C’mon, tell the truth.
and Robertson Davies’ own philosophy imported traditions he learned during schooling at Upper Canada College and Oxford. Davies introduced High Table dinners where noted historians, politicians and public figures spoke to the students— plus a Christmas Gaudy. The annual Gaudy concentrated the best talent that Mr. Davies could marshal—choral music by the Massey College Singers, music by a Canadian composer with lyrics by a senior Fellow, a poetry reading from a distinguished guest, and the performance of a specially written cantata or opera—but always, the highlight of the evening was its second half when the Master would read a ghost story.
It was said that almost as soon as one year’s handcrafted ghost story was finished Davies started writing next year’s Different each year and written by Mr. Davies about the college specifically for the occasion, it was said that when the evening closed and the bottles had emptied, Davies went straight to his desk to start writing the next year’s ghost story. The stories have been collected in book form as High Spirits. Topical, intimate, inventive and humorous: in one, the spirit of a failed Ph.D. candidate cannot rest until his thesis is accepted by the Master. But thirty years deceased, the ghost has written a thesis on every subject imaginable, and Davies
must sit until sunrise hearing out the ghost’s defence on each. In another story, Davies follows a clamour to the college library where he finds a lady of the College inside a white chalk circle with what appear to be acrobats bouncing and flipping around her. Davies joins the lady and the two summon the spirit of Queen Victoria who emerges from the netherworld and banishes the hoodlum ghosts. The audience has earlier discovered that these “acrobatic” ghosts are poorly recognized Canadian writers from a collection donated that year—all desperate for posthumous acclaim. While Mr. Davies’ ghost stories are tongue-in-cheek and designed to entertain, he did indeed take psychic phenomenon very seriously. In 1948, his mother died. She had been semi-invalid for ten years during which she haunted his dreams. At the news, Davies returned to Calderwood, his childhood home, to find her body lain out in the drawing room. He slept Continued on Page 8
Who wants heroin? The Government of Canada has approved an $8 million grant that will offer addicts free heroin injections three times per day. This will continue for one year, after which addicts will receive methadone. The study will examine whether this reduces crime and improves the health of addicts. The Government of Canada hasn’t given us any money, but we would wager that after a year of taking heroin, it’s unlikely an addict won’t be a little bit worse for wear. The real problem with drugs is crime. Addiction fuels theft and places people at the dead ends that can lead to homelessness, poverty, and prostitution. People need money to fund their habit. Some think this is a ridiculous study—it is after all the first of its kind in North America. We’re not ready to dismiss it yet. If it means that there could be less crime, this pilot project may just have merit. And the newspaper will have ample opportunity to watch how things go. In Toronto, it seems, the only heroin distribution point will be at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, just across the street from our office.
Let’s not make U of T into Concordia SAC kicked off “Xpression Against Oppression Week” with a riveting debate between Normal Finkelstein and David Olesker. One comparison made during the debate was between two university campuses: Concordia and Toronto. Whereas the U of T debate was politically charged, Concordia has been downright riotous—all over issues in the Middle East. All things considered, U of T is a well-mannered bunch. But how tenuous is our grasp on civility? Just last year, during the SAC election it was alleged that one candidate said “If I get elected, I want to turn this place into Concordia.” In the end, this comment—whether true or not—didn’t matter since the person was not elected. But it shows how easily U of T could become Concordia. During the Finkelstein-Olesker debate, there were a few glimpses of what a radically polarized campus like Concordia might be like. Take, for example, the security that was necessary for the event. Four uniformed campus police, four plain clothes police officers, and two Metro police. It’s amazing that U of T needed that heavyhanded an approach for a debate about a conflict thousands of miles away. David Olesker made one of the best points of the evening during his closing remarks. Speaking to political zealots and dogmatists in the audience he noted, “If you identify with one side of this conflict so overwhelmingly, you cannot offer yourself as an honest broker.” It’s a confounding point to make—that part of the problem is that people care too much. It’s also a point that makes sense. Monday’s debate showed just how deep feelings run on this issue. Some audience members had personal experiences from the conflict, while others had studied it from afar. At some points, the audience seemed closer to an episode of Jerry Springer than a collection of university students. What was most interesting was how the vast majority of attendees were there to hear what they already believed and little else. More disturbing was how close political beliefs skirt the borders of hatred and anti-Semitism. Olesker took the stance that an antiIsrael position was “axiomatically” anti-Semitic. Certainly, the newspaper would not go that far, but the Middle Eastern debate often produces something very close to anti-Semitism, if not the real thing. And there is the same problem for Islam. Students need to look beyond this shallow rhetoric, and acknowledge that we are thousands of miles from the conflict and the best helpful fixers we can offer are neutral. Let’s use “Xpression Againt Oppression Week” as a means to provoke intelligent debate, but focus our political efforts one week in the future when U of T celebrates Peace Week.
the newspaper Established 1978 formerly The Independent Weekly
30 October 2003
1 spadina crescent
1 Spadina: “Spooky all year”
Is that blood on your water bottle?
Say ‘No’ to Nalgene by Lee Nesseth
ETHICAL PLASTICS BUREAU
Almost everyone I see at school carries a Nalgene water bottle – they’re about as ubiquitous as a Mountain Equipment Co-op backpack. I bought one, too. And then I recycled it and won’t ever touch one again. Here’s why: in addition to making “outdoor-enthusiast” plastic products, such as the pink & blue water bottles we’ve all come to know and love, Nalgene also makes plastic products in other shapes, like restraints to hold animals while scientists do tests on them. Nalge-Nunc International, Nalgene’s parent company, does heavy business in the laboratory industry. Their website states that “animal research is essential to medical research…there is nothing short of controlled
Some of the many piles of animal cages that litter the basement of 1 Spadina Crescent—home to countless animal experiments animal research that can prove the millions of animals that are the safety and efficacy of a drug killed each year from testing, or surgical procedure.” I, and disagree.
No fries with that by Lesa Kuma I usually get the same response: a vacant stare followed by the insufferable question, “What kind of job are you going to get with that?” Asking someone about his or her major is like asking someone how they’re doing—most often, it’s an attempt to make small talk, and who cares about the answer. Yet, every time my education is critiqued by some smalltalker, I have to wonder if Arts students truly are the laughingstock of the campus. I’ve heard all the insults, from patronizing assertions of how the humanities must be “so easy” to jokes that end with “would you like fries with that?” Most people don’t think a Bachelor of Arts degree provides the same security that supposedly comes with a degree
in Life Sciences, or perhaps Commerce. I often hear generalized information about job prospects or salaries, but this seems awfully myopic. Statistics indicate that certain degrees are initially more bankable than others, but in the long run artsies fare just as well. Lots of students attend university hoping to gain some advantage in the race for employment. But that doesn’t mean students should come to university with a restrictive mindset—one that is rarely challenged with views from peers or advisors. As a student, you must thoroughly assess how your degree is going to work for you. This applies to all students, but Arts students may find it more daunting because there are fewer built-in job titles within the humanities. Engineering and Law students become engineers
An arts student debunks some myths about a humanities degree
and lawyers, but what does a Semiotics major with a minor in Criminology do? The answer, clearly, is to forge a career from your interests instead of just finding a job that interests you. An arts degree may not tell you exactly what you are going to be, but it does teach you to think. Crack your knuckles and do some research—find out what options are available. Some opportunities like internships are more readily available in business and scientific fields, but there are still plenty in the liberal arts—you just have to put in the effort. Gaining work experience can help a person decide whether a particular career is really the right choice. Working in a corporate office for two summers made me realize I have no desire to work in a business environment. Others might have
People think of animal testing and believe that it is done only when absolutely necessary— when it is essential for human health and safety. Sometimes, it can even backfire. In America, the Environmental Protection Agency uses animal tests for toxic chemicals, and this has been largely ineffective. This was certainly the case when animals were forced to inhale smoke in one test and happened not to develop cancer—this led to 20 years of tobacco companies claiming that research had proven their products safe. Yet Nalge-Nunc stands by its products, including an only recently discontinued (due to boycotts) full-body restraint for rabbits. I now use a bottle of equal quality from a company that does not make animal restraints for laboratory use. I’m through with Nalgene.
learned just the opposite. It goes without saying that there is no one road to success. Arts students do have one advantage: many employers often overlook transferrable skills in favour of pragmatism. It is ridiculous to force yourself into a job that you will hate or to chase after some mythical golden salary. Lastly, you can only succeed if you believe that you will. Some may say that this is blind faith, but sometimes the difference between succeeding and failing is self-assurance. Perhaps living well is the best way to eradicate the myth of the unemployable B.A. But for every success story, there is an anecdote about an Arts grad barely making ends meet. Don’t wait around for someone to tell you what’s next—you can figure that out yourself, even if you have an Arts degree.
We asked you...
How are you dressing up for Hallowe’en? Angela, (again!) Philosophy
A leper, to avoid any social interaction.
Science! Because it’s the solution to all the world’s problems.
Ben, Poli Sci & History
A Mexican—for convenience more than anything else.
An elf, ‘cause I like elves.
Natasha, UC Drama
An autopsy, I want to look like a mistake from “Six Feet Under”.
An astronaut dropping in from the great beyond.
Nick, Theatre Studies
The entire cast of Kill Bill, I’ve never seen a movie five times in the theatre before.
A tree, ‘cause they sway, and I love things that sway.
Editors Edward Gebbie, Matthew Gloyd, & Peter Josselyn Associate Editors Brenda Cromb, Katie A. Szymanski, & Dora Zhang Board of Directors Rachel Bokhout, Reuben Schwarz & Ivor Tossell Photo Editor Mark Coatsworth Contributors Spencer Bruce, Andrew Covert, Rosena Fung, Josh Gurfinkel, Stephen Hay, Jason Kieffer, Tim Kocur, Morgon Mills, Ryan North, Stephen Notley. the newspaper is the University of Toronto’s community paper and is published weekly by Planet Publications Inc., a non-profit corporation. Contributions are welcome from all U of T community. Writers old and new can drop by our office every Thursday at 4:30 for story assignments. Letters to the editor should be under 250 words, and writers must include their name and their telephone number.
1 Spadina Crescent, Suite 245 Toronto, Ontario M5S 1A1 www.thenewspaper.ca
editorial: 416.593.1552 advertising: 416.593.1559 fax: 416.593.0552 email@example.com
30 October 2003
Rock, Paper, Scissors from Page 1
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losophy Caf i h
National Novel Writing Month starts 1 November by Elizabeth Gao
WRITING FOR SPEED BUREAU
Novelists will be able to flex their writing muscles in November as National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) kicks off. The event, which runs for the duration of November, aims to provide hopeful writers with inspiration and support. The challenge? Write a 50,000-word novel by midnight, November 30. According to their Web site, a novel is simply “a lengthy piece of prose,” however awful or contrived it might be. The event was founded in 1999 by Chris Baty, a freelance writer in Oakland, California.
Last year, there were 14,000 participants, 15% of whom completed their novel by the deadline. National Novel Writing Month takes a tongue-in-cheek approach to writing. Their motto last year was “no plot, no problem.” In NaNoWriMo, quantity is valued over quality. The participants gather eagerly to share shameless padding tips (to be used in abundance at 10:30 pm on November 30) and to collectively whine about workload and Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Why should you participate? Director Chris Baty offers three reasons.
First, it is a good introduction to the world of novel writing. Most people would plot and plan the stories that they will one day write, but few people ever truly begin. Secondly, National Novel Writing Month sets a low, achievable standard that will not frighten possible participants. Thirdly, it is a chance to contribute to art, and it is fun. Of course, it has the added bonus of being impressive to mention your newly completed novel at social events. If you want to participate in National Novel Writing Month, let the newspaper know. We want to keep track of your progress. Email firstname.lastname@example.org
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Faster than a last minute essay
started I asked “Pencil-vannia” what his chances were of getting to the end, he said “1 in 256.” Facing off against Spence that round was Hilda Hilroy of the Bureaucrats. Their team strategy was “Paper is the new Rock.” He easily dispatched her with four quick snips of the scissors. Spence’s next opponent was Master Roshambollah clad in his rice hat and velvet tux. Spence used all his cunning but was finally beaten by a crushing rock on his flimsy scissors. PHOTO BY PETER JOSSELYN Meanwhile, Steven was facLeft to right: David Olesker and Normal Finkelstein square off over the situation in the Middle ing off against Deep Mauve, the East, during a debate that was part of SAC’s “Xpression Against Opression Week” only non-human competitor of conflicts. “Yes,” the man replied, Security costs ran to close to the competition. Deep Mauve is Continued from page 1 “they are identical.” $1,500, but U of T admin picked a laptop that randomly generates “Peace will not come to up two-thirds of the tab. There ing on snide. He started with rock, paper or scissors. UnforSouth Africa until the whites is still some question about how tunately for Steven his all-rock an introductory history of the students will pay for the rest of region and outlined his views on recognize that blacks are their gambit did not pay off and he equals and have equal rights. the security costs. At the end Palestine—which he believes lost in shame to the all-powerful And peace will only come to the of the debate, Alex Kerner, the deserves a proper place among computer. Middle East when Arabs recogevent’s organizer, made a plea the nations of the world. With our hopes of victory nize that Israelis are equal and for donations to offset these fees, dashed we stayed to watch some The most frequent—and have equal rights,” the principal but not enough was collected. hotly contested—comparison of the remainder of the competisaid. SAC had already shelled out of the evening was between the tion. One byproduct of the $2,000 for the event—$1,000 for Israel-Palestine situation and It was mostly uneventful event’s contentious nature was each of the speakers. apartheid Sound Africa. Finexcept for a streaking incident, increased security. There were Organizers are adamant that kelstein argued that Israel has which was dealt with by Kool eight U of T police officers who the event was a success. SAC an apartheid-like regime that Haus staff beating the shit out VP Howard Tam said, “This is systematically oppresses Palestin- attended the event to make sure of the streakers---who were all that things did not get out of the closest thing to an intellecians. members of team Slut. tual debate that we could have David Olesker had his answer hand: four were uniformed and four were plain clothes officers. had—it accomplished just what to Finkelstein’s claims. He told Metro police also sent two it was supposed to.” a story about a discussion he officers. In addition, SAC had Check page 6 of the newspahad with a principal at a school representatives on hand to make per for full details about “Xpresin South Africa where Olesker sure that the crowd did not get sion Against Oppression Week.” asked whether the principal saw too rowdy. any similarities between the two
Get in Here!
Sex, Love and Friendship: Epicurean Style by Prof. Doug Hutchinson refreshments will be served
Thursday, 30 October 4:00 p.m. Debates Room, Hart House
30 October 2003
The Thrills: Cheap not easy by Dora Zhang
WEST COAST BUREAU
Given that the band’s name is inspired in equal parts by Phil Spector’s girl groups of the 60’s and Michael Jackson’s masterpiece, The Thrills don’t sound like anything you might expect. Theirs is a blend of West Coast pop circa the late 60’s and early 70’s with a good smattering of Travis-like wailing and an interesting juxtaposition of chirpy melodies and sly, dark lyrics that
is slightly reminiscent of Belle and Sebastian. The band formed eight years ago when 15-year-old neighbours and friends Daniel Ryan and Conor Deasy got together with schoolmates Ben Carrigan, Kevin Horan, and later Padraic McMahon, all united by an obsessive love of music. The five lads from Dublin have been called the best thing to come from Ireland since Guinness and U2. High praise, but Ryan, who plays guitar and bass as well
as handling vocals, believes that the band can live up to it. “I don’t think we’ve gotten excessive hype,” he says in a pleasant Irish drawl over the din at a Toronto bar. “Sometimes hype can hurt a band if they don’t have the substance to live up to it, but then you’ve got bands like The Strokes, who have received a huge amount of attention, but who have the goods to back it up.” Ryan looks his age, only 23, and his disheveled hair and the dark circles under his eyes show the toll of touring. But he possesses a quiet confidence that makes you somehow believe he might be right about his band.
“Well, I wouldn’t mind playing with Springsteen and the E-Street Band. That’d be pretty cool as well.” The Thrills are embarking on their first North American tour, having already found success in their native Ireland and England. They’ve already played with an impressive roster of names, opening for The Rolling Stones and Beck, and playing alongside Coldplay and Bjork at Fuji Rock in Japan. Their album has been at number one in Ireland and number two in England. So why skip across the pond and try to break the notoriously hard American market? “Well, we see it as a challenge,” explains Ryan, “You look at bands like R.E.M. and Radiohead, and they’re playing to crowds of 20,000 all over the world. That’s the point we want to reach, we want to have a global audience.” Plus, they just love touring. “I think to an extent, we feel that our work in the UK is done, and now it’s time to try something else.” So why does he think The Thrills will succeed where so many others have failed? “One of the things that disillusions bands, I think, is that they’re playing crowds of 2,000 at home, and then they come to North America and suddenly they’re playing crowds of 200 again. That doesn’t bother us at all. Whether it’s 200 or 2,000, we’re just concerned about putting on a good show.” One of the band’s biggest thrills was having Morrissey come and see them rehearse, and then invite them to open for him at the Royal Albert Hall in London. “He was definitely the best act we’ve every played with,” enthuses Ryan, “We’re all just such big fans, and to have someone you really respect give you their approval is just amazing. It was better than playing with the Stones, I think. Nothing can really top it.” He pauses a minute, then “Well, I wouldn’t mind playing with Springsteen and the E-Street Band. That’d be pretty cool as well.” If anything, The Thrills may suffer from overly good marketing. Their label Virgin is promoting the quintet, all dark-haired and soulful-eyed, as the new “hip” band, á la The Strokes or The White Stripes. The biography section of their official website proclaims that we’ll be hearing a lot more of
them soon if we haven’t already “Because The Thrills are one band who get it right. Right songs. Right attitude. Right reference points…The Thrills aren’t trying. They just are.” Any band who tells you they’re not trying, they just are, has got to raise the hackles of any semiintelligent music lover. That being said, the surprising thing is that The Thrills are actually pretty decent. In fact, their CD, So Much for the City, has been a not infrequent visitor to my stereo over the past few days. It’s a collection of eminently listenable songs, with a few real gems and no real duds. Despite some mundane titles like “Say It Ain’t So,” (how many times do we have to say it ain’t so before bands finally start coming up with better names for their songs?) a couple of tracks, notably the second one, “Big Sur,” really kick the album into high gear. “It’s very much an escapist record,” says Ryan. “We had just spent a summer in San Diego, which was amazing, and then we had to come back to Dublin, where it was cold and miserable. The band was going through a rough time because we had just been dropped by an independent label that we initially signed with, so the record was definitely to give us some distance from all of that.” Despite the fact that it’s escapist, it is not idealistic. Many of the happier melodies are underpinned by darker vocals or tougher subject matter. “‘Hollywood Kids’ isn’t a happy track at all,” Ryan says in defense to allegations that The Thrills are all sunshine and daisies, “it’s about all the fucked-up people we met in San Diego.” Playing to a crowd of probably less than 200 at The Legendary Horseshoe Tavern on Saturday night, the band proved their mettle at their first Canadian gig. Despite the extreme brevity of the set, a mere half-hour, The Thrills managed to deliver a good show. They’re a lot harder live, more rock, less folk. The audience, a good portion of which claimed some part of the UK as their home (the drunken yelling in the bathrooms was multi-accented), certainly ate it up. So were they excited to be playing in Canada for the first time? “Oh yeah,” says Ryan, “I mean, this is the country that has produced three of our favourite acts - Neil Young, Joni Mitchell and The Band.” For all intents and purposes, The Thrills look to be a band that is poised for success. They’ve got the money and the machine behind them, but some solid music to back it up once you get beyond appearances. “I think what’s important, and what’s helped us get to this point, is that we’re all just really good friends,” Ryan states simply. As for himself, is there anything else he wants to do besides music? “Well, I’d like to get into acting,” he says hesitantly, with a sweet shyness that makes even the most hardened cynic refrain from any musician-turned-actor jokes or references to J.Lo. For the moment, though, he’s all about The Thrills.
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30 October 2003
Flashbacks, betrayal, resentment & scandal THE HUMAN STAIN, REVIEWED
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by Spencer Bruce
RECENT NOSTALGIA BUREAU
In the adaptation of Philip Roth’s The Human Stain Coleman Silk (Anthony Hopkins) is the human centre from which the story is woven. Silk is the ideal of respectability, a professor of classics and a college dean. Through resentment and scandal Silk is compelled to resign from Athena College, which he rescued from the throes of mediocrity. His tragic retirement is worsened by the suspicious death of his wife. These incidents are among a series of betrayals that affect and define Silk. Faced with the reality of losing everything meaningful, he responds with the resolve of a warrior. Without visibly mourning the loss of his wife Silk sets out to renew his life. He befriends a reclusive writer in a sophomore slump and has an affair with a woman half his age. The plotline is strong, it is arranged fairly creatively and Anthony Hopkins, Nicole Kidman and Ed Harris give incredible performances. While the focus of the story pans his later years, a large section of the film is devoted to flashbacks of Silk’s younger days. Director Robert Benton crystallizes and contrasts the year 1998 with the 1940’s. This commentary though not intentionally abrasive left me with a frightening image of how things have decayed over the course of fifty years. This film captures the distinctiveness of 1998. It offers a critique of political correctness, the self-contradicting, value—muddling concept which came into popular use in the 1990s. Political correctness has replaced the open racism of the 1940’s. On the other hand, life in ‘98 seemed secure and optimistic. Just five years ago problems seemed to have straightforward solutions. The media had nothing better to do than rave about President Clinton’s personal life and gossip about a stained dress,
PHOTO BY TRACY BENNET
and frankly neither did we. In retrospect 1998 looks like a golden age of economic prosperity, an age after the Cold War hostilities and before the war on terror, before the belief that after the Cold War the world was a safer place was proven terribly wrong. This illustration of 1998 collaborates with scenes capturing the Zeitgeist of the 1940’s, all the hope and newfound prosperity that victory that comes with winning a world war. A young handsome Coleman Silk as vigorous and lively as Hopkins adds a colorful dimension to the plot. Furthermore, I was able to benefit from his classic style and demeanor to pick up a girl in five easy steps: Step one, find attractive girl in the library. Step two, as a pickup line, recom-
mend a book. Step three, bring her to your apartment for a cup of coffee. Step four, tell her you’re a boxer, and get her to loosen up with a boxing lesson. Step five, make out. As for Nicole Kidman, although her performance is solid, her character is over-represented. She gets too much screen time, partly because of who she is, partly because the female-love-interest is by now a sure-fire Hollywood cliché and partly because it is a convenient way to make a novel turned motion picture more marketable. On the other hand, she likes to take her clothes off, which makes it hardly noticeable that her character is over— emphasized.
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30 October 2003
The Supernatural Issue
The Scariness of 1 Spadina Crescent Left to Right: The infamous ‘Polio Switch;’ vats of human eyes; are those walls leeching blood?
SCARY PHOTOS BY EDWARD GEBBIE
Night of the Hunter Reviewed Repulsion by Andrew Covert
TATTOOED PREACHER BUREAU
Alright, confession time… I hate horror movies. Seeing beautiful, nubile young women with downy breasts a-flop being hacked to pieces by chainsaw wielding maniacs has never been my cup of tea. I realize that there’s pathos somewhere in the new Texas Chainsaw Massacre and that it breaks new ground in the visual presentation of horror. But if the best studios can do nowadays by way of meta filmmaking is filtering everything to look like a Guess jeans commercial, well, they need to try harder. So while most of my chuckleheaded generation will be sitting, sploshed with gore this Friday at the latest needless Hollywood remake, I’ve taken it upon myself to educate the youth; to point you towards a film that not only will thoroughly creep you out but ensure
that your terror, like stale, encrusted vomit or the smell of human feces, will stay with you long after the end credits roll. Now isn’t that what Halloween’s all about? The film is Charles Laughton’s 1955 masterpiece Night of the Hunter. It’s the famed British actor’s only directorial work and it’s a hum-dinger. Having acted in such horror film classics as the Island of Lost Souls as Dr. Moreau. Laughton knew exactly what notes to hit in order to keep your hair standing on end. Night of the Hunter is the story of an ex-con by the name of Harry Powell (played brilliantly by Robert Mitchum,) in pursuit of a fellow thug’s buried treasure, who allows his inner psychopath to run wild. He finds the home of his dearly departed cell-mate and insinuates himself into the household—even going to the extent of marrying the man’s wife. The whole town swallows his pseudo-religious Bible-bab-
ble whole and no one suspects that he’s desperately trying to find the man’s treasure. After piling up a few bodies the children of the house finally figure out what’s what (don’t they always) and lead the demon on a chase through the countryside. They finally come to rest at the house of a tough love nanny played by Lillian Gish, who does battle with the evil murderer. The greatness of the film is in its presentation, linked more to German Expressionism than Christian Jingoism. It presents an almost surreal portrait of the battle of Good versus Evil. The film begins with a nighttime sky filled with the disembodied heads of children and their nanny. They speak to us about the Bible and Good and Evil while the shot pans down on a sleepy little village where the story takes place. Indeed, there’s something dream-like about the way the film progresses.
The plot turns in strange ways and each scene seems to contain some new creepiness you never get the chance to process before the film moves on. Robert Mitchum’s performance is all in the eyes; months later I can’t get that blank expression he has on his face out of my mind: sincerely creepy. Perhaps the greatest trick Laughton plays is that by the end of the picture you truly believe that anything could happen, because it already has. Night of the Hunter doesn’t leave you covered in blood, it leaves you covered in the saliva which drips from your own dropped jaw as the inevitable conclusion arrives. Leatherface can keep his buxom starlets. I’ll take Robert Mitchum searching through a darkened basement murmuring bible quotes trying to find two children and wring their filthy little necks, yeah…that’ll do me just fine.
by Dora Zhang
ROMAN POLANSKI IS TERRIFYING
Reg Hartt knows how to scare. And this time, with his Nights of Terror Film Festival, he’s actually trying. The whole experience of Cineforum is sort of bizarre. Located in Reg’s living room, you can’t help but feel like you’re intruding on someone’s private life. Usually, you’re allowed to bring your own food and drink, although you might also want to bring along a cushion for seats, which feel like they were designed specifically for your discomfort. The Paramount this ain’t. Then there’s Reg himself. With upturned eyebrows worthy of the cheesiest comic book villain and an attitude that will never be called friendly, this mysterious Messianic figure is definitely a less than comforting presence. The programming for Scary Movies, a Halloween tribute, was decided by Reg asking various people to list their top three or four scariest movies of all time. The invited personalities are mostly media types or people involved with film or TV, including Richard Ouzounian, The Star’s theatre critic, Bill Brioux, the TV writer for The Sun, and George Meyer, a producer/ writer for The Simpsons. Repulsion, made by Roman Polanski in 1965, is shown twice during the festival, having apparently made the top scariest list more than once. Strange as it was, it was nothing like I expected. The usual things you associate with horror movies, especially horror movies that would be shown at Halloween, are conspicuous only by their absence. This is a psychological thriller in the Hitchcock Psycho tradition designed to get at us not through blood and gore, but through the inner workings of our paranoid mind. Starring a 21-year-old Catherine Deneuve as Carol, a young Belgian woman living in London with her sister. The film portrays this shy, reclusive
girl’s descent into paranoia and eventual madness. The hauntingly beautiful Carol unsuccessfully avoids the leers of men in the street as she goes to work at a beauty parlour. She also unsuccessfully wards off the advances of an unwanted but persistent suitor, Colin. Her nights are set to the soundtrack of her sister’s lovemaking in the next room, and she silently detests her sister’s boyfriend. Things take a considerable turn for the worse, though, as her sister goes on holiday, leaving Carol alone in the apartment with her hallucinations and fantasies. Deneuve is often called an ice goddess, which is perhaps appropriate in this case, since her character is frigid. She reluctantly allows the unwanted suitor to kiss her once, then runs off to wash out her mouth and brush her teeth. The film fantasizes her ambiguous relationship to her own sexuality in quite masculine terms — the young virgin who cannot bear physical contact with men but who has secret rape fantasies at night. For me, the latter is one of the most disturbing aspects of the entire film, for me. In one scene, Carol even puts on lipstick and make-up in preparation for this phantom lover, who brutally rapes her. She is always shown in these scenes screaming and resisting, although eventually submitting. Even though she says she doesn’t want it, she secretly does. Small details like the domestic mess that gradually accumulates, potatoes that begin to sprout roots, and a plate of rabbit meat that is just left out to rot are what make the film disturbing. Reg Hartt thinks Repulsion is a good film because it does exactly what it’s supposed to do. And what’s that? “Scare the pants off ya,” he says with a grin that is itself a little scary. Reg is pretty good at scaring, so what scares him? “Nothing,” he replies, looking me straight in the eyes. And I’m almost tempted to believe him.
30 October 2003
The Crawling Brain
by Joe Kerr
BRAIN SALAD SURGERY BUREAU
When an average person hears the title The Crawling Brain, they don’t exactly go running for the nearest theatre. However, if said person happens to be a regular viewer at Cineforum, the brainchild of Reg Hartt, they would be grabbing their coat and heading for the door before the title had even finished. With this mindset, I headed off to the Cineforum screening room, located just south of College St. on Bathurst. Part of the “Nights of Terror” film festival, The Crawling Brain, directed by Ron Ford, was just one movie on James (Jamie) Ross’ list of films that were being shown that night (the others were The Ring and The Shining). Before the show began, Jamie, a student at University of Toronto Schools, came out to talk to the audience about the movie, and why he had picked it over the countless number of
B-rated horror films available today. Jamie explained that he believes horror is a natural human emotion, and that in our modern society, we have very few outlets for experiencing the sensation. This is the reason he believes horror movies are made. He chose this movie in particular because he felt it highlighted the “absurd” style of horror films that briefly enjoyed popularity at the drive-in movie theatres of the 50’s and 60’s. After introducing the movie, Jamie sat down with the audience to enjoy the show. The movie begins with a trailer, which is itself a parody of a film-making time long past. When the intro is finished, the movie commences with a scene that embodies the spirit of the film: naked women, bad acting and a giant brain that strangles its victims before sucking their brains out. Set in a small town, the story is that of Stephan (Randal Malone), an over-sized
Michael Jackson look-a-like, and his helpless half-wit of a brother Ken (Mark Shady), who move in with their grandmother (Anita Page) after she becomes gravely ill. Once there, they discover her secret past, diabolical schemes of Nazi Scientists… need I say more? The plot moves along well, and keeps you reasonably interested in what is going to happen to the duo. Along the way the viewer is treated to a fair amount of blood, guts and skin, which are created with eerie realism. However, this movie is not for the faint of heart, as I have never seen such gruesome “operation” scenes in any other mainstream Hollywood hit, let alone a B-rated movie filmed in California. Also, according to Jamie, the brain was moved by only sticks and fishing wire, which, considering the realism of the attack scenes, is an accomplishment in and of itself. While the movie accomplishes its objective of being a stylish remake of a 1950’s horror flick with a few modern updates, it can hardly be called an excellent movie. Between Randal Malone’s horrible acting and the needless lesbian sex scenes, the viewer quickly grows tired of the plot. The one shining scene was that of Anita Page laughing maniacally at the next victim of the crawling brain. Considering the nature of the movie, it was a wonder they could even cast Page, a silent movie star, at all. If there is a thing to take from this movie, it is that B-movies can look fairly professional, be slightly scary, but still be B-movies.
The Daybreak vs. the newspaper
By Mike Jacques
CAN ROCK BUREAU
We asked The Daybreak why they rock so hard. Here’s what they had to say in their defense: Is rock and roll dead? Why or why not? Rock and Roll is not dead. Rock and roll is the musical embodiment of rebellion. Until Rebellion is dead there will always be rock and roll. How are The Daybreak contributing to the current state of rock and roll? The Daybreak are here to change the current state of Rock and Roll. Bringing back melody and hooks to the songs, as well as heavy grooves that we want people to dance to. We want to make songs that are more than just three minute moments, and instead are living, breathing emotions and sensations for one to get lost in. The rock and roll record that changed your life is… Rob: The Catherine Wheel - “Happy Days”
Shoe:The Stone Roses - “Second Coming” Mike: The Smashing Pumpkins - “Siamese Dream” Pat: Radiohead - “The Bends” Greatest rock and roll moment of all time? Rob/Shoe: Richie Manic slicing “4 Real” with a razor into his arm during an NME interview. Best Canadian rock band of all time The Dears....for now. Best music store in Toronto? Mike: Rotate This Shoe: Penguin Pat/Rob: Sonic Boom Best venue in which to see a rock and roll show in Canada? The Horseshoe and Lee’s Palace. Jimi Hendrix was recently named the best guitarist of all time by Rolling Stone magazine. Did he deserve it? Mike: NO! Paco de Lucia, Django Reinhardt Shoe: Yes - best technical prowess. At age 21 he was better than anyone. Does Eminem rock?
Bob the Angry Flower
Rap music isn’t rock and roll— therefore no rocking done by Mr. Mathers. Does downloading rock? Yes. For poor students and hardto-get songs - but be sure to support local music. Has anyone in the band slept with Britney Spears? Speak now, or forever hold your peace. Not yet. Who would win in a fight —The Daybreak or Fred Durst, and why? The Daybreak. There are 4 of us and Fred is a fat $%&*. The Daybreak play their next show Thursday, November 20th. Details ofthis very special event will soon be made public by their label Pure VioletRecords. Visit www.thedaybreak.net for more information.” Lee’s Palace. Doors 10: 30 PM. Tickets $3. Go to www.thedaybreak.net for more information.
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30 October 2003
The Prosaic Pleasure of Book Sales
Basketballs and Pumpkins
by Luke Stark
Kobe Bryant’s foul play on and off the court leads writer to consider Hallowe’en by Tim Kocur
SMASHING PUMPKINS BUREAU
Has anybody else noticed the sudden decrease of oversized Kobe Bryant replica jerseys on the streets? I know its getting cold outside, but I think the kiddies have put away their #8 Laker wife-beaters for good. It seems nobody wants to be caught dead in a big yellow punch line since Kobe’s tryst with a hotel hostess a few months ago. Is it possible that we’ll see a resurgence of the Kobe jersey when his trial starts competing with NBA Games on prime time? I think we’ll see them all return on Halloween when little kids can go out as their favourite NBA All-Star/Adulterer/Accused Rapist. How did this all happen anyway? And I’m not referring to the presence of a sports-related article in the newspaper. That’s odd enough, but I’m talking about Kobe Bryant’s fall from grace. One of the best players in the NBA turns into a potential first round draft pick of the prison yard “skins” squad. I heard the U.S. prison system is filled with quality basketball players with nothing better to do than practice and work out. I also heard that most prisoners look down upon rape convicts. Innocent ‘til proven guilty, but if he is guilty, they’re going to foul him hard on his way to the hoop. At least he’ll finally get out of Shaq’s shadow, although he might have to worry about the looming shadow of a less friendly version of Big Diesel’s stature. To be honest, I’m sort of writing this because I can’t stand Kobe Bryant. I’m a huge basketball fan and I’ve always been bothered by the amount of attention he’s received. Sure, he’s one of the best players in the NBA now, but back when he was just a 19 year old, Kobe was so popular that he was voted onto the NBA all-star team while not even being a starter for his own team. I found this ridiculous, and proof that the NBA was more focused on image than athletics. He simply
wasn’t a good enough player at that point in his career to justify such a high profile image. For Bryant, his story has been dominated by image since he went straight from high school to the NBA. Before being drafted, Kobe Bryant was featured numerous times on television and even appeared on Rosie O’Donnell. While still in high school, Bryant had agents and publicists trying to exploit any opportunity they had to turn this good-looking kid into a NBA superstar. Now that he’s won three championships with the Lakers, it seems silly to question these efforts. But what goes around comes around. Unlike LeBron James, the hyped up prep star, Bryant’s hype was self-induced, and not the product of attention grabbing play at the high school level. James will be a better player in his first NBA season than Bryant was; he is certainly better than Bryant at that stage in his career. Another example of Bryant’s horrifically image-conscious persona is that when he was being drafted in 1996, his agents insisted he would only play in a large media-centre. Luckily for Kobe, the Charlotte Hornets gave in and traded him to the
Daily Dinosaur Comics
1. Identical. 2. Garbage; faecal matter. 3. Residence, casually. 4. Encountered. 5. Dodge.
efforts he made to reach this status were highly unorthodox, and not solely based on his athletic ability. While most athletes simply let stardom come to them, Bryant did everything possible to further the fame process and exploit his popularity. His efforts produced a cleancut image that accentuated his popularity by providing him with numerous endorsement deals. Allen Iverson was a far better player than Bryant for many years, but only got negative attention from the media. Iverson was popular with the streetball crowd, while Bryant was more popular with the image-conscious suburbanites. Bryant has quickly acquired a much worse image than Iverson. And this time, I’m pretty sure Kobe didn’t intend his actions to get him media attention. Streetcred has always helped popularize basketball players, but Bryant has known since his days in high school that the clean-cut businessman Michael Jordan image is more profitable than the thug life persona of an Iverson. Bryant’s desperate efforts to create an image that would make him rich and famous backfired, making his ever-sopopular jersey the Halloween costume of the year.
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Book sale time has come and gone again. Over the past month, the more academically pretentious colleges of this university have set out their rickety card tables, trotted out enthusiastic (and superannuated) alumni as volunteers, and plundered hordes of donated tomes in old liqueur boxes for hibernating literary treasures. Book sale shopping is a bit like having a $15,000 Faberge egg habit—an addiction to spending large sums on books isn’t going to kill you, but you may end up with plenty of pretty things you never get to use. With so little time for noncompulsory reading, it’s always surprising how many undergraduates actually turn up for book sales - maybe we all subconsciously hope that some of that accumulated knowledge, wisdom, and grammar will rub off on us. So what’s the great attraction of the college book sale? Cheapness. Such cheapness. It’s almost incomprehensible to the modern student that so much wit, wonder and wisdom is just lying there, practically free for the taking. Used books certainly seem free when compared to the prices we pay for new textbooks and other required reading, not to mention tuition fees. One of the truly odd aspects of the college book sale craze is that most college sales charge admission on opening night. This seems astounding: asking people to pay for the privilege of pawing over previously enjoyed literature? Of course this doesn’t actually target students. Instead, it’s to fleece the crowds of sourlooking booksellers who clutter up college lobbies on opening day, piles of boxes at the ready, waiting to make a mad dash and to begin shoveling books on
art and architecture into their carry-alls. I do not exaggerate. Shouting matches and fisticuffs have broken out at book sales. I can understand the booksellers’ passion—the book sale is like an attic, where if you dig deep enough past the six hundred copies of Brideshead Revisited, you might find, well, just about anything.
In some ways, a used book sale is a lot like the university as a whole: huge, bewildering, and musty smelling, but filled with enough variety of knowledge to satisfy the most rapacious bibliophile. Truth be told, it’s nice to see people who at least feign enthusiasm for accumulated wisdom, even if it’s for their own profit. We all read, but no one reads as much as they should, and most of us don’t read as much as we’d like (for pleasure at least). I tend to buy large numbers of used paperback classics, which go home to a bookshelf and rarely see the light of day again. Heaven forbid I might ever have the time, energy or intellect to read them. It’s just sometimes nice to know the books are there—PFDs, Personal Floatation Documents, to buoy my callow sophomore brain.
Massey College Legends
Robertson Davies’ Ghost Stories
Across 1. Reacted to a ghost? 7. Be compassionate. 8. Jack-o-lanterns ward off ____ spirits. 10. Astound. 12. Root used in some bubble tea. 13. Like an MP for a riding. 14. Partner of ‘and’, ‘but’. 16. Key below “Ins” and left of “End”. 17. Hand-to-hand combat. 19. Imbecile. 20. Unit of work. 22. University of Ottawa? 23. Maple syrup precursor. 25. Run ____ run (famous German film). 27. Reminiscent of 60’s fashion. 29. Anon. 30. Seduce (or suck blood!). 31. Child-gobbling beasts.
Los Angeles Lakers, who also acquired Shaquille O’Neal that same summer, instantly making the team a contender in the league, getting Kobe on television almost every weekend with the likes of NBA superstars like Michael Jordan and Patrick Ewing. All that Bryant contributed in that first year in the NBA was a string of airballs that knocked the Lakers out of the playoffs, although he did capture the media attention he craved. Kobe won the Slam Dunk contest that year, an event designed to fuel young players popularity. Luckily for Bryant as huge dork basketball fans like myself know - the dunk contest that year was one of the worst in history. Kobe was simply the best of a bad group of participants, although it didn’t stop the inflation of Bryant’s ego. I think Bryant’s image and ego, developed in an extraordinary array of self-promotion and media-attentiveness, are central to the trouble the basketball star faces today. Bryant’s efforts to become the next superstar athlete of Michael Jordan or Bo Jackson proportions has backfired and put him in the realm of superstardom with O.J. Simpson and Darryl Strawberry. Bryant is a good player and a star in his own right, but the
6. Like a portent of 8-across. 7. Sweets one can melt for candy-apples. 9. Popular candy, and Shirley Temple’s ‘good ship’. 11. Old MacDonald’s refrain. 15. Mill’s output. 17. Physician’s degree. 18. Alien who phones home? 19. Traditional Inuit home? 21. Chamber. 23. Polaris or Alpha Centauri, e.g. 24. Coat of ____. 26. Ms. Landers? 28. All Hallows’ ___ (Hallowe’en, originally).
Trick or Treat by Morgon Mills Continued from Page 1 that night in his old bedroom, or rather, he lay awake without will, fearful his mother would appear again with vengeful fury. After his retirement, Davies kept an office at the college, two floors above the library. John Fraser the current Master of Massey College, once asked Davies, “When you go, will you come back to us?” “Little is certain,” Davies replied, ”these matters are beyond our means, even at death.” A story circulates around the college, one which Mr. Davies never told. Around the time of his death, a leak sprung somewhere in the college. Water fell through the ceiling of the library, past a rack of books that
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included, among other things, copies of Davies’ trilogies and essays by Carl Gustav Jung. The water didn’t touch the books but found its way along the trodden groove of the library floor to a textbook owned by a student competing for the position of Head Junior Fellow. The student had written a ghost story in the vein of Davies, hopeful it would buoy his chances at winning. The textbook—on semiotics, a subject Davies detested—was soaked. The leak came from a crack in the bowl of Davies’ office toilet. All signs pointed to sabotage, but a call from John Fraser to Davies revealed that he was bedridden with the pneumonia that three weeks later would claim his life. Pure chance or supernatural meddling? No one will know, although the student didn’t get the position. Massey College keeps up the tradition of reading a ghost story during its Christmas Gaudy, in Mr. Davies’ honour. A well written biography on Mr. Davies is Judith Skelton Grant’s Robertson Davies: Man of Myth.