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INSIDE WATCH OUT, YOUTH WORKERS • 5 MANIC PIXIE DREAM GIRLS • 7
VICTORIA UNIVERSITY’S STUDENT NEWSPAPER vOL. 55 iSSUE 10 • Feb 11 2013 • WWW.THESTRAND.CA
MY BLOODY VALENTINE RETURNS • 14
FIXING THE BROKEN TELEPHONE: Emily Pollock speaks with Bell about speaking up each text or long-distance call made by Bell customers as well as for each tweet containing the hashtag #BellLetsTalk and each share on Facebook of the campaign’s logo. However, the fundraising isn’t the most significant part of the initiative for Bell—their ultimate goal is to raise is awareness. Mary Deacon, Chair of the initiative, talked to The Strand about her company’s involvement in the mental health field. The program started in 2010 when Bell was deciding on a new focus for its community investment initiative, a
charitable forum where Bell invests in community programming and support. Bell chose to focus on mental illness because of its serious and endemic nature, and the pervasive stigma surrounding it. Since their program has started, their fund has given out 2.3 million dollars to 109 grassroots organizations. “Let’s Talk Day” is the spearhead of their anti-stigma campaign, but they also focus their finances on ensuring workplace mental health, research, community care, and access. To Deacon, these goals are the “action pillars” for curing the public at-
titude towards mental illness—without all of them working together, the goal would be impossible. In their campaign to break down the pervasive stereotypes surrounding mental health issues, the campaign has recruited people living with mental health issues. Both famous faces (notably Canadian cycling and speed skating Olympian Clara Hughes) and ordinary young people are present in their advertisements to help people under-
SEE ‘MENTAL HEALTH’ ON PAGE 3
The advertisements for Bell’s latest campaign bear the images of smiling men and women with the invitation, “Let’s Talk.” From far away, they might look like just another set of slick phone commercials, but these are ads with a difference—they’re part of Bell Canada’s “Let’s Talk” campaign to erase the stigma surrounding mental health problems in Canada. As part of their campaign, Bell is promoting their “Let’s Talk Day” on Feb 12, where the telecom company will donate five cents to mental health initiatives for
WHAT THE TURF, SAYS UOFT CAMPUS AMANDA AZIZ & CLAIRE WILKINS EDITORIAL ASSISTANT & COPY STAFF UofT students will no longer look at the field of natural grass on Hoskin Ave. and St. George St. when walking on campus, but of one that is a synthetic green and made out of AstroTurf. The University of Toronto has decided to go ahead with the Faculty of Kinesiology and Physical Education’s plan to build a field hockey pitch, costing 9.5 million dollars, which will be used in the 2015 Pan Am games hosted
in Toronto. UofT will be one of only two universities in the nation to have a professional field hockey centre. This is great news for many student athletes, who will cancel fewer games due to poor weather conditions, as well as reducing the risk of injuries related to slipping and falling on mud while playing field hockey. However, the decision to move forward with the development of the Pan Am Field Hockey Centre has encountered mixed reviews, as some UofT students express their concerns over its environmental impact. Even though
the field comes with low maintenance costs, and will only require replacement every two decades, critics have pointed out numerous environmental consequences that arise from using AstroTurf. “Basically, it’s a removal of genuine plant life, which— small as it is—lends us environmental benefits including some carbon conversion [to oxygen],” said Jonah Letovsky, a second year student of Victoria College and member of the University of Toronto’s Environmental Action group. Letovsky further explained that “current AstroTurf is
essentially 100% chemicals—many of which have not been fully assessed by Environment Canada as to their health impacts, which further contributes to the erosion of our urban ecology.” Despite his protests, he also admits there are pros to the field pitch, as “it’s much easier to maintain—you don’t have to waste energy on cutting [Astroturf] or on replanting dead grass lawn.” Although in the end, “time [spent] in green spaces [like natural grass] produces positive benefits for mental health. AstroTurf, though coloured green, is no replacement for that.”
NEWS Ontario teacher’s college applications down by 50% NATASHA MARAR UNIVERSITY OF WINDSOR WINDSOR (CUP) — Ontario schools are battling a downward trend to fill vacant seats at its teacher’s colleges. The Ontario Universities’ Application Centre reports that nearly half, 49 per cent, of people applied to teacher’s college in January 2013 (8,199) compared to 2007 (16,042). There were 15 per cent fewer applications in the last year alone. This month, the University of Windsor received 1,359 applications to its education program, but 1,815 in January 2012. Compared to the year prior, the school experienced drops of approximately 13 per cent in 2012, six per cent in 2011, 21 per cent in 2010 and 35 per cent in 2009. “There is a downward spiral, said Geri Salinitri, acting dean of UWindsor’s Faculty of Education. “There was a growth from 2000 to about 2007 in the number of teachers that were hired. By 2008, it was almost a dead halt. It’s been pretty sketchy from 2008 until now.” UWindsor has extended its deadline for September 2013 admission until March 1 in hopes of attracting more students to its education program. “We are continuing to keep the door open,” Salinitri said. Declining applications to teaching
programs has led to fewer students in the classroom. Full- and part-time education enrolment at Windsor has declined over recent years. Fall semester rates dropped sharply from 846 in 2008 — a high number largely attributed to the Double Cohort students entering teacher’s college— to 668 the following year. Admissions have remained somewhat steady since then, sitting at 635 students last fall. “Windsor is right at the end of the province and the big catchment pool is in the Toronto area. Sometimes we’re not the first choice [for applicants] … right now most of our catchment area is going to be local students,” said Salinitri, who estimates that 60 to 70 per cent of students come from WindsorEssex. Salinitri also said there are too many people graduating from teacher’s college for the amount of positions available provincially. She said she too struggled to find a full-time teaching job after graduating from the Windsor program in 1978, working part-time for six years before landing something permanent. Julie Ferguson-Shand has also faced similar challenges. The 2006 graduate of Windsor’s education program never found a teaching job in Ontario. She spent years working teaching contracts in Tuktoyaktuk, N.W.T., in Nelson House, Man. on a reserve and three
years in Ross River, Y.T. She stopped teaching last June, moving to Nova Scotia with her husband to have better access to health care. They now operate a bakeshop in Shelburne, N.S. “I knew graduating that there were no jobs in Ontario. When you apply in Ontario, you actually have to pay to apply for jobs, which is ridiculous. And Ontario teachers don’t make very much money compared to the rest of Canada,” said Ferguson-Shand. “When I looked at it, I could make $105,000 as a first-year teacher in the Arctic and it’s $38,000 in Ontario. I said, ‘Sure. I’ll go to the Arctic for the experience.’” Teaching in the north, FergusonShand said she dealt with isolation, the social problems affecting her students and poor salaries while working at a reserve, rather than government-run, school. But she said the experience of teaching a small group allowed her to develop a close relationship with her students. Both Ferguson-Shand and Salinitri agree that those wanting to teach must be open to moving out of province to find work. Salinitri said there’s a huge market for teachers in northern Canadian provinces such as Nunavut and internationally in England, Sweden, Australia and Asia. “[Working in northern Canada] you
do get the isolation pay and you do get an experience that is unique. If you’re competing with a recent grad and you come back [to Ontario] with two or three years experience … you’re much more marketable.” Salinitri said people worried about finding work as a teacher should look to the benefits that a teaching degree provides for work in other industries. “A teaching degree gives you those interpersonal soft skills and instructional strategies that can help in many areas of management.” Many graduates don’t end up fulltime teachers, Ferguson-Shand said. “Most of the people I graduated with, I can only count two or three who have a teaching job. The rest have been on supply [teaching] for six or seven years,” she said. “Some of them work restaurants … or are on EI because they are working a couple [supply teaching] shifts a week.” “I think a lot of people are turning away because they’ve been warned of the problems in the profession right now. If somebody had told me how hard it was to get a job, I might have thought about something else.” Despite the current employment trend for teachers, Salinitri predicts that there will be a wave or retirements in 2014-2015, and a lot of young teachers are starting maternity leaves, leaving opening doors for new hires
THE PENNY: JULY 1858 – MAY 2012
Why retire the penny? Cost of making a penny: 1.6 cents Est. amount federal government will save by eliminating pennies: $11 million
What to do with your pennies? Exchange them at the bank for useable money Donate them to charity—penny drives! Toss them into a fountain and make a wish! Preserve them so you can tell your kids, “When I was your age...”
Well, now what? Final cash purchases will be rounded up or down (0.3 and 0.8 go up) Paying by debit/credit will not be affected Business can still accept pennies, but government will not supply more Survey by the Retail Council of Canada showed that only 52.9% of its members ready for the penny’s phase-out
The scoop on Bell’s “Let’s Talk” campaign stand, in Deacon’s words, that, “People with mental health issues are just like you and me. They are you and me— friends, family, and colleagues.” For Deacon, the importance of mental health care is personal as well as cultural. Her older brother committed suicide as a medicine student at UofT, in a time when mental health wasn’t widely discussed. She said, “For me and my family, we knew nothing about depression and mental illness. It was a complete shock and tragedy.” She identifies very passionately with the work that Bell is doing, especially on university campuses, and believes that universities need to focus more
on protecting the mental health of their members. Deacon is very excited about the trend towards talking about mental illness in the media, believing that it will further the Bell campaign and the cause of stigma-destruction in general. “More people will talk about mental health, and hopefully start spreading the word, looking at attitudes and behaviours, and perhaps not being so quick to judge people who are different, and recognize that mental health issues can affect us all.” Deacon offers a clear mission statement for what the campaign hopes to accomplish beyond Feb 12: “We need to keep the conversation going so that people can feel they can reach out and get help.”
Deacon is optimistic about the role university students will play in shaping the direction of the conversation. “You guys are the next generation, and
my hope is that your generation is the one that will eradicate the stigma of mental illness.”
“MENTAL HEALTH” FROM PAGE 1
Commercials for “Let’s Talk” show the effects of mental illness on individuals’ daily lives
NEWS FROM THE SCIENCES
NanoLight: challenging the traditional lightbulb
SABINA FREIMAN NEWS EDITOR So maybe it doesn’t look like the traditional lightbulb—but the NanoLight is less expensive, less overheated, and requires less energy. Created by three UofT grads who profess that it is the “world’s most energy efficient lightbulb”, it will reinvigorate our idea of the artificial illumination. The NanoLight uses LED light to produce over 1,600 lumens (a measure of the amount of visible light emitted), meaning that it needs only 12 watts of electricity to function. To
compare, this is equivalent to a 100watt incandescent lightbulb. As their website explains, this level of operation is 200% better than those of other lightbulbs currently on the market. It is a rare LED bulb that is equivalent to a 75–100W bulb. Not only is it more energy-efficient, but it saves money, too—one lightbulb can last 25–35 years (based on three hours of usage), which is about as much as 30 incandescent bulbs. Moreover, unlike other bulbs, the NanoLight reaches full brightness as soon as it’s turned on. Its performance is not affected by being frequently turned on and off. One of the biggest issues in lightbulb manufacture is inefficiency due to loss of power through heat. Not only does this shorten the lifespan of the bulb, but it hurts to touch! The NanoLight bulb emits less than half of the energy of other LED bulbs, which themselves emit less than the standard lightbulb. If its user does manage to make it overheat, the NanoLight will automatically dim to prevent both immediate damage or a shorter life span. The idea came to the team— Christian Yan, Gimmy Chu, and Tom Rodinger—while they worked on the Solar Car system at UofT, Yan and Chu as undergraduate Engineering students, Rodinger as a PhD. Such a lightbulb was something they needed to help develop the system. “When we stumbled across this great prod-
uct, we decided we should have it in any household.” He explained that it wasn’t until three years after they met on the solar car project that they got together again, and “started to develop green energy products that can be used in the real world. [A] Lightbulb was one of the things [they] decided to develop.” Of course, the shape of the NanoLight is not exactly traditional. Yan explained two reasons for this shape: “One, we had to put in all the circuits on the PCB [printed circuit board— the same one used in computers]. By putting the circuits into the PCB, we could hand-fold it into the shape of a lightbulb. Two, the shape allows the LEDs to give light in an omni-directional way.” But the reasons for the shape extend beyond the functional. “In the beginning, it was a little different for us, special for us. The more we looked at it, the more we realized how easy it was to differentiate our model from the ones on the market,” said Yan. Although critics have said that it is neither very generic, nor traditional in style, Yan explains that, “we see it as something new, innovative. Brings a change to what people perceive a lightbulb should look like.” Now, before you get too excited, know that the bulb is not yet on the market. It is currently featured on the KickStarter website, a crowd-funding website where anyone with a creative idea can share it with others, who can
then pledge money for the project as a backer. The team originally set a goal of $20,000, which Yan explains was to generate “some initial cash flow to get our name out there.” Just over halfway through their 60-day campaign, the amount sits at about $160,000, and is growing at about $10,000 per day. Yan admits that they “had no clue we would pass our goal of $20 000.” Although the group is currently set up in San Diego, CA, they have been getting a lot of attention from Toronto, as of late. “We’ve been getting a lot of love from our home town,” adding that everyone from the Toronto Star to the UofT Online Magazine has been contacting them. “We really appreciate all the support from Toronto and institutions that have contacted us.” Yan also said that the Engineering Department has been really supportive. Although they haven’t visited Toronto in a while, he explained that Chu may be visiting the Engineering Department as a speaker for one of their entrepreneurial talks—but this has yet to be set in stone. So far, the NanoLight has been quite a success. The team isn’t going to stop there, however. When asked if they plan to release any future products, Yan admitted, “We thought that we should release many more related to green energy and energy conservation. That’s the main goal of our company.”
News • 11 Feb. 2013 • email@example.com
Brainchild of three Uof T alumni promises to be most energy efficient lightbulb in the world
O F B E S E Y N O E F N E D C É N I e h s n eeds it) (not that
ISAAC THORNLEY STAFF WRITER In the latest lip-syncing scandal—Beyoncé’s performance of the Star Spangled Banner at Obama’s inauguration—has once again given the public a reason to dispute the legitimacy of lip-synced acts. We often think of lip-syncing as a sort of dishonest short-cut, a way for musicians to get out of doing their jobs, but we rarely consider the alternative: the not-so-great reality of an authentic, but mediocre, performance. Now, we can judge Beyoncé for lip-syncing, just as we judged Ashlee Simpson (if you remember who that is), or we can ask ourselves whether we would have preferred to see one of America’s beloved soul sisters get up on stage, ready to belt out a lung full of patriotism, only to fall disappointingly short. Lip-syncing does not necessarily entail a bad performance; one need only look back at Michael Jackson’s “Billy Jean” at Motown 25, the first time the moonwalk was ever captured on film—a very well received and famous performance—despite the fact that it was entirely lip synced. There is some legitimacy to the claim that lipsyncing is a form of dishonesty, but I think it is necessary to point out that lip-syncing is one of many forms of dishonesty that underlie the world of entertainment. Auto-tune, makeup, and Photoshop are all frequently employed to render our celebrities
as close to a level of cultural perfection as possible, and yet these practices are regularly tolerated (if not expected) rather than scandalized. Ultimately it is up to the discretion of the performer to choose whether they want to lip-sync or sing live, and the responsibility of the consumer to do a bit of research. Being surprised at a lip-synced Britney Spears show is on par with being surprised that eating McDonald’s every day is bad for you. It is very easy, especially in the age of the internet, to find out who the worthwhile live performers are and to seek out their performances. In the case of Beyoncé, it is significant that half of the controversy stemmed from a debate over whether she actually lip-synced at all—that’s how well she sold it. If people can’t even tell that you’re lip-syncing, then there should be little room for criticism. One would also hope that, particularly in the context of Obama’s inauguration, that people would concern themselves with more than the performance of the national anthem. In fact, as many political commentators have noted, it is unfortunate that Beyoncé’s performance largely overshadowed the “real” issues concerning the United States and its president. In light of her most recent performance at the Superbowl, where she completely owned the half-time
Being surprised at a lip-synced Britney Spears show is on par with being surprised that eating McDonald’s every day is bad for you. show, arguably overshadowing the long anticipated reunion of Destiny’s Child, any claim that Beyoncé “can’t actually perform live” is absurd and unfounded. The half-time show was also demonstrative of many of the ways in which a performance can be top-notch regardless of the singing (though her singing was on point as well). The ferocity, the dancing, the precision, the stage effects, and of course the 80,000 or so cheering fans, all contributed to a great show—and perhaps Beyoncé’s redemption.
Famous lip-syncers in history Beyoncé is hardly the first performer to lip-sync a live performance in front of a huge audience. Muna Mire looks back at some of the more gifted fakers pop culture history has known. Everyone remembers Ashlee Simpson’s painfully embarrassing incident on SNL. The singer launched into “Autobiography” just as a recorded version of her first performance “Pieces of Me” began to play. Her canned voice boomed across the speakers though her lips no longer moved. Horrified, she ran offstage in an epic finish to a disaster of a live performace. The incident stalled her fledgling career.
Milli Vanilli are the original fakers. I know this because when you Google “lip syncing scandals”, their Wikipedia article pops up. They did it best and they did it biggest. Their entire record Girl You Know It’s True was written and performed by someone else. Since it was a Grammy-winning album, the duo had to return their award after the forgery was discovered.
It may come as a surprise that Whitney Houston lip synced her iconic 1991 Superbowl performance. Her version of the American national anthem was so well received that fans insisted she put it on her next album. And yet, she faked the whole thing. For the record, however, Whitney was asked to fake it. One of the show producers had acoustic concerns and decided to eliminate the risk of anything going wrong on the big day.
“You should have known.” “That’s totally safe.” SARA DERIS OPINIONS EDITOR Every day, countless young employees are disrespected, treated as untrustworthy, put in the path of workplace injuries, and generally mistreated. I, for one, am sick of it. In Canada, where we love to stroke our egos by talking about our great labour and antidiscrimination laws, there is an overwhelming attitude of “who gives a fuck” when it comes to young workers. First of all, good luck even getting a job. The days of easily procuring a part-time job while in school are pretty much over, with a dire employment situation leaving the jobs once available to students filled by their parents, older siblings, and overqualified immigrants forced to take minimum-wage positions. When you do get a job, you will be paid minimum wage (which, as Chris Rock so eloquently put it, is an employer's way of saying that they would pay you even less, if only they were allowed), receive no benefits, and be expected to complete the shittiest tasks because, hey, you’re young and sprightly! You will very likely be injured on the job—young workers (ages 14–25) are four times more likely to be injured at work than their older counterparts. The majority of these injuries are preventable and are a result of being asked to do unsafe work, the fear of refusing and getting fired, and lack of training in safety protocols. According to WSIB stats, from 2006–2010, 46,000 young workers sustained at-work injuries resulting in lost time. This does not include injuries that did not lead to time off work (even if they should have) and injuries that went unreported. There is often a fear of reporting injuries to higher-ups, a fear kept in place by workplace culture. Reporting an injury is met with sighs and eye-rolls, and occasionally even, “What? I didn’t hear you.” Workers who are vigilant in reporting injuries are often penalized in other ways—they lose shifts when they return to work, or are treated poorly by employers and co-workers. This summer, a friend of mine was employed at the Lambton Golf Course in Toronto. WSIB information wasn’t clearly posted, no information on any of the chemicals used on the golf course was given, and no safety protocols posted anywhere. In addition, she never received any sort of formal training. Employees were expected to handle power
tools with no instruction, drive golf carts which were often far from operational, and were neither told to use nor were supplied with straps to ensure that heavy items on the backs of the carts stayed down. My friend was struck in the head with an industrial weed whacker that was not properly secured in the back of a golf cart and sustained a serious concussion. She commented, "One of the administrative staff insisted that my boss told us that we should know to at least hold down equipment with one hand when we were driving." She now has post-concussion syndrome, and sometimes gets so dizzy she can’t get out of bed. She is borderline dyslexic, has slight hearing loss and cannot focus. She had to withdraw early from the fall semester at her university, and is now looking at graduating at least a year behind her peers. In addition, WSIB stopped payment in September, because it was seasonal employment, but she is still unable to work. This simple, minimum-wage summer job has derailed her entire life. She never received an apology from the golf course, and many of her coworkers gossiped about her “faking it” to get out of working all summer, instead of realizing that the accident could have happened to any one of them. "My boss was far from sympathetic and seemed fairly annoyed that I was injured. After the incident he did not return any of my phone calls or e-mails and would not even acknowledge my presence at the back to work meeting that WSIB held at the golf course—he didn’t care that I was crying in front of him, and remained stone-faced, as if I was inconveniencing him." She had to fight with the WSIB constantly to receive pay for her lost time, dealing with late checks and skepticism even though she filed her claim on time and had more than one doctor confirm her injury. After all of this, the golf course suffered only a slap on the wrist and a fine from the WSIB, and even that occurred only after she called in anonymously to request an inspection of the workplace. Apparently, if a workplace has bought into WSIB, they cannot be sued for having an unsafe workplace—or at least this is what my friend was told. My friend highly regrets agreeing to work in this unsafe environment: “I would strongly encourage other students to be aware of what safe conditions really are and quit immediately if it’s clear they aren't met. I wish I had done so." There is, at least in my job experience, a culture of mistrust when it comes to young employees. We
are able to vote, drink, get married, and enlist in the army, but most employers will not trust us with keys, cash, or sometimes even clients. Young employees are banished to basement stockrooms, forced to ask for keys every five minutes, and treated as guilty in every customer service scenario. I work in recreation and recently had an irate patron lecture me for half an hour about how she had paid the wrong price for a course. Thinking that it was a system error, I apologized to her and referred her to the programmer. I then assumed that it was over and out of my hands. The next day, I got an accusatory email from the programmer; she asked me why I had lied to the client, and asked for a minute-by-minute account of my conversation with the client. I was stunned. Instead of taking my word as her employee, my programmer chose to listen to a faceless stranger—presumably because she was older and therefore more trustworthy. The programmer was not interested in what I had to say regarding the client’s very aggressive demeanor, instead choosing to focus on my “lie”. The client went ahead and put words in my mouth, likely assuming that I would be discredited. This situation, which I thought meaningless and the result of an interaction with an overexcited, aggressive patron, could have very well an resulted in disciplinary action being taken against me as a result of my age. I should add that at work I have the title of “in-charge” and, by virtue of that, am supposed to be trusted. Luckily for me, I am fortunate enough to belong to a union and can count on some backup when things like this happen. This is very rare for young employees, however. Most young workers are employed in positions which are not unionized, meaning that in unfair scenarios, there is no one for them to get help from or to ask about policies that may be misconstrued by employers. The lack of a union means an employer can twist rules, ask employees to do unsafe work, and discipline employees without having to worry about any retribution. This pervasive laissez-faire attitude regarding the welfare of young employees has existed for far too long. Far too many young workers are injured in preventable accidents, jerked around by employers, and simply treated like garbage. Young employees must cease to be seen as disposable and start being seen as trustworthy, capable, valued members of a workforce.
Opinions • 11 Feb. 2013 • firstname.lastname@example.org
and other lies told to young workers
EDITORIAL OUR MASTHEAD Editors-in-Chief Pauline Holdsworth Muna Mire Patrick Mujunen News Associate
Sabina Freiman Wendelle So
Sara Deris Jonah Letovsky
Malcolm Sherwood Vacant
Arts & Culture Associate
Paula Razuri Dominique Béchard
Film & Music Associate
Bahar Banaei Alex Griffith Vacant
Will Pettigrew Vacant
Jade Bryan Vacant
Blaire Townshend Matthew Casaca
Thomas Lu Victoria Chuen
Sarah Crawley Vacant
Editorial Assistants Amanda Aziz, Emily Pollock, Grace Quinsey Copy Staff Allie Chenoweth, Claire Wilkins Contributors Zareen Din, Davin Leivonen-Fok, Wenting Li, Isaac Thornley, Fan Wu, Jesse Yao Cover Art Emily Pollock Special Thanks Wenting Li
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Eternal sunshine of the unstable mind EDITOR-IN-CHIEF If you’re female, mentally ill, and on TV, what’s the answer to all of your problems? Fifty-to-one odds say it’s that sensitive-looking boy in the corner. When we talk about the representation of mental illness in pop culture, we often look at things like police procedurals, where mental illness is used as a short hand—a wink and a nod to the viewer to tip them off to the possibility that the crazy person is the criminal. The deeply entrenched association between violence and mental illness has serious ramifications for forced institutionalization, policing the behavior of the mentally ill, and using mental illness as a cover-all scapegoat for mass shootings. In another genre, though, what we’re seeing more and more is the infanitilization and “cute-ification” of mental illness—especially when it comes to women. In the world of the rom-com and the teen novel, mental illness is presented as an endearing, quirky trait; one that makes you all the more desirable because it means that you’re a problem to be solved. But it only makes you quirky and intriguing if you act the “right” way, and if you have the “right” attitude towards your mental health. That means that once you get the guy, you’ve got to get better—because we all know love is the most powerful antidepressant there is. There’s a lot of crossover between this trope and the Manic Pixie Dream Girl: that wild, quirky, unattainable creature we know is depressed
because she listens to The Smiths. These figures are typically blank slates without any significant internal life of their own, whose narrative function is to flit in and out of their male counterpart’s life, so he can learn to embrace spontaneity and take chances and not take anything for granted. Author (and nerdfighter) John Green has said he wrote the novel Paper Towns so he could unpack the idea of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl. “What a treacherous thing to believe that a person is more than a person,” his protagonist muses, after a novel’s worth of wondering where his mysterious crush has vanished to. Has she run away? Has she committed suicide? But the novel’s critical intentions don’t change the fact that Paper Towns is nearly identical to Green’s novel Looking for Alaska in that they both use the possible suicide of a teenage girl as a catalyst for their male protagonists to have lots of crazy adventures and gain a new lease on life. Too often in pop culture is mental illness treated as a single-episode plotline, a minor departure from schedule which is fixed with a kiss and a stable relationship. There are some notable exceptions: Grey’s Anatomy, though it is the soapiest of soaps, treats Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder as a multi-season plotline, one which steers clear of easy answers and takes a serious look at how PTSD plays out in the dynamics of characters’ marriages and professional lives. Season 6 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer offers a compelling and
realistic depiction of depression, and instead of being treated as a “monster of the week” dilemma, it’s woven seamlessly into the dynamics and stakes of every episode of the season. The “cute-ification” of mental illness is a trope that complicates the already difficult experience of being in a relationship where one or all parties are mentally ill, making you feel guilty if you’re “still” dealing with mental illness even though you have a supportive partner. This trope ignores the fact that for many of us, mental illness is an ongoing reality, one which we continue to navigate in all areas of our lives, as well as a part of our identity that doesn’t just vanish overnight. It ignores the fact that many of us seek comfort and joy from a community of people who also experience mental illness, and that we’re not interested in hiding our experiences for the sake of higher TV ratings. ADVERTISEMENT
Editorial • 11 Feb. 2013 • email@example.com
Position: Contributor Majors/Minors? Double major in dipsomania and wannabe journalism. Minors? Yes, please. What’s your type? Hobo STD, if ya nasty. Signature move? The bleed-on-The-Varsity’scarpet. Signature pick up line? “Wanna take some dicktation?” Aphrodisiac? Misandry. Deepest, darkest secret? I’m actually a huge MRA, trying to bring down The Strand from within. Joke’s on you, feminazis!
Position: Opinions Editor—there’s such thing as bad opinions, guys! Sexiest thing about The Strand? Free snacks. What’s your type? Unembarrassable; proclivity for occasion property destruction and YOLOing. Signature move? The I-have-boobs. Signature pick up line? “I have boobs.” Aphrodisiac? Extensive meme knowledge. Deepest, darkest secret? I have a pathological, crippling fear of the Bananas in Pajamas.
For your consideration this Valen there, so you can’t
Position: Hot Copy Majors/Minors? Major in English, minor in unreliable narratives, it would seem. Sexiest thing about The Strand? Strand staff ’s sexy karaoke skills. Signature move? Killing any repartee in record time with an analysis of the current COC programming. Signature pick up line? “I love a good scotch,” usually does the trick. Aphrodisiac? All the Oxford commas, all the time.
Position: Back pages/adults only section. Majors/Minors? Major in late withdrawals, minor in bringing McLuhan into anything. Sexiest thing about The Strand? The sex. What’s your type? Sentient. Signature move? Wussing out on asking your number and consequently never seeing you again. Signature pick up line? So, do you like robots? Worst pick up line? Now I’m just going to ask you to cough for me please. Aphrodisiac? Sriracha. On. Anything. Deepest, darkest secret? I have quite a collection of Boney M on vinyl.
Position: Copy bitty. Majors/Minors? Major in TV marathons, minor in embarrassing public dance moves. Sexiest thing about The Strand? Its brains. And its body (text). Signature move? Blue Steel. Signature pick up line? “Oh, hi Mark!” Worst pick up line used on you? “Always in the friend zone, never in the bone zone.” Aphrodisiac? A good suit. Deepest, darkest secret? I’m nocturnal and pale as hell, so I’m pretty sure I’m a vampire.
Compiled by Allie Chenoweth
Illustrations by Sarah Crawley
Position: Editorial Ass Kisser/Kick Majors/Minors? Double major in Une minor in getting What’s your type? Human, Signature move? Dirty Signature pick up line? 01001100 01 00100000 01100110 0111 Best pick up line used on you? “Am human being, be the 1 to my 0. B *Note: this is a com Aphrodisiac? Ira
Position: Editor-in-Chief Majors/Minors? Major in production nights, minor in working too many jobs. Sexiest thing about The Strand? Patrick’s vneck collection our first year hotties, and the sex couch—preferably all at the same time. What’s your type? Gill Sans. Anything related to the BBC gets me going. Aphrodisiac? Reheated coffee and the sweet smell of Stephenson House in the morning.
Position: The Photoshop—I can click and lasso like you wouldn’t believe. Sexiest thing about The Strand? Me. What’s your type? Dark, mysterious, short haired with tuna breath. No catnip addicts. Claws: optional. Signature move? The design-and-dash. Signature pick up line? “Hey, baby, want to see my spread?” Aphrodisiac? The smell of newsprint. And steak. Deepest, darkest secret? I have an irrational fear of Comic Sans.
ntines, The Strand puts itself out t say we didn’t try!
ker— depends on the day, y’know? employment Studies and CAPSLOCK, g into your pants. and alive. No compromises. y talking in binary code. 1100101 01110100 00100111 01110011 10101 01100011 01101011 manda, you wonderful, graceful, living Be my girlfriend.” –Chris Berube.* mplete fabrication. Glass look-a-likes.
Position: Art Editor—the graphic imagery department. Majors/Minors? Majorly interested, minorly picky. What’s your type? 140 lb. hot press. I like my paper smooth, hot, and ready to roll. Signature move? The etch-a-sketch. Signature pick up line? If I were a Strand article, I’d text wrap myself all over your image. Aphrodisiac? Strand snacks.
Emily Position: Editorial Bitch Sexiest thing about The Strand? The terrifying/awesome sex dungeon in the basement. What’s your type? I’m committed to Futura MD, but have brief and torrid affairs with Hobo STD. Signature move? I move my knight to B7 and my pawn to F5. It gets them every time. Worst pick up line used on you? “Do you want to take your clothes off?” Said to me, on a play date in grade three. Deepest, darkest secret? I drunkenly troll The Globe and Mail as Margaret Wente. Sometimes they publish me.
Position: News Editor—investigating your every move. Majors/Minors? Double major in guessing on multiple choice questions and pretending to follow politics. Sexiest thing about The Strand? Strand swag. What’s your type? A+. Being a blood match is attractive. Signature move? The let-me-tell-you-aboutmy-cat. Aphrodisiac? Justified text. (And JustifiedJustin Timberlake’s 2002 debut solo album.) Deepest, darkest secret? Whenever I have the house to myself and am really in the mood, I turn the lights down low and jam to The Bloodhound Gang’s “The Bad Touch”.
Position: Farts and Culture Editor Majors/Minors? Major Dinkwad Sexiest thing about The Strand? How the paper can be easily folded to make an impromptu g-string. Signature pick up line? “Get away from me.” Best/worst pick up line? “I don’t think you’re going to fit in there.” Both the best (most effective) and the worst (most insulting). Aphrodisiac? Obscure Simpsons references. Deepest, darkest secret? I’m not a human, I’m a very convincing goat.
ARTS & CULTURE
Participants who suffered head trauma before the study
Here At Home
Participants from an ethnic minority
A look at the At Home “housing first” project as seen through the NFB’s documentary Here at Home which follows participants who struggle with mental health issues
Participation and agency on Canadian homelessness
Participants with clinical depression when the study began
* Statistics from the Toronto leg of experiment
An interview with Manfred Becker, director of the Toronto series of the Here at Home interactive documentary
PAULA RAZURI ARTS & CULTURE EDITOR In 2008, the federal government granted the Mental Health Commission $110 million in funding for a national “housing first” experiment. The principle of housing first is simple: first give people a home, supply them with adequate support systems, and rehabilitate them from there. The process came out of a need for a better way to address the issue of chronic homelessness in Canada, which is fraught with complication and heavily intermingled with the issue of mental health. The At Home project has been a four-year study in the “housing first” approach, in which randomly selected eligible participants from across the country are given a home and provided with accessible services and treatment. To broadcast and follow the progress of the project, the National Film Board has launched an interactive-style documentary, Here At Home, which can be found on the NFB website. The documentary is divided in such a way that the audience navigates the videos by city, from which short three- to fiveminute portraits of an individual can be viewed. The subjects are mostly housed participants of the At Home project, but the documentary also offers information on landlords, case workers, and doctors who work in the field of homelessness and mental health. The “interactivity” of the documentary arises from the audience’s ability to navigate the footage and construct their own holistic picture of Canada’s landscape of homelessness and mental health, though Manfred Becker, award-winning filmmaker and director of the Toronto string of videos, believes that there is more to be done on the “interactive” front. “Interactivity, for me, would be to have an exchange between sender and receiver, whereby I can submit ideas or responses,” says Becker during a snowy sit-down with The Strand. The documentary’s website is certainly clever and requires more participation from the audience than conventional linear documentary, but the act of participation is limited. Nationally, the participation in the discussion on mental health and homelessness has also been limited. “When the site was launched, there was an overwhelming response in French speaking
Canada […] not just in Quebec but across the nation. It was a real engagement, while English Canada was not as interested.” The idea of interactivity, then, functions on two planes: our digital interaction with the documentary itself, and the active discussions in which we engage on the topics. On documentary as a mode and on Here at Home, Becker points out, “there’s still a real lack of consciousness on the parts of Canadians. We are so inundated with information constantly that you’re just thinking in fragments of headlines, nobody really listens.“ The interactive form of Here at Home raises the question which Becker articulates, “Is the web just dictating how we receive information, or is the web a response to our fragmented nature?” There is an accompanying blog for the Here at Home documentary which gives the audience the ability to reach beyond the screen of the film, but for Becker, there is still more to be said about “interactivity.” “It’s a process of social interaction between the participants. It should be a democratizing medium. So to hell with framing and music and all that stuff, you are serving a larger process which has to do with society and life, and that’s way more important than some interactive website.” The act of filming such a project sheds light on the ethical complexities embedded in a radical social experiment. Of the 572 participants from Toronto, 299 were housed and 273 were unhoused. The idea of “poverty pimps” emerges as one learns that the participants are not paid—but Becker says this is not to be considered as any indication of the documentary being anything more than an objective look at the program, and at mental health. All decisions are to be made by the viewers. For Becker, the documentary is a social service, “It’s not about me, it’s not about fulfilling my aesthetic standards or making a statement; in a limited way it is. I see myself more as a servant to the people about whom this is about, which is the people who are homeless and who have mental health issues, not only to have a home but to have their own voice.” The study concludes at the end of March of this year, leaving many participants anxious about the
“It’s all about agency and being empowered. You’re being empowered to have your own home and now you’re being empowered to tell your own story.” future of the funding and of their housing. The issue of anxiety as well as uncertainty about the future emerges clearly out of Here at Home. Since the At Home project is a “demonstration project”, the evidence collected from the study will influence amounts granted in years to come. As Canadians, we are all participants in the issue of homelessness—it is up to us to decide how we interact with it. For more information, visit http://athome.nfb.ca/#/ athome
FRAGMENTS OF LIGHT
A look at the history of Peruvian silverwork in UTAC’s Luminescence
JESSIE YAO Until Mar 9, the University of Toronto Art Centre (located at University College) will be home to a dazzling spectacle of light and silver in the forms of various Peruvian artifacts. The exhibit, Luminescence: The Silver of Peru, is curated by Dr. Anthony Shelton, the director of the Museum of Anthropology at University of British Columbia. The collection offers an impressive chronology of people’s fascination with silver, featuring pieces that are nearly 2000 years old, as well as works by contemporary artists. From an anthropological perspective, these artifacts offer a unique window to pre-Columbian experiences— particularly their mythological beliefs. As Dr. Shelton explains, “The Inca clearly associated the Sun with gold, and the Inca ruler was said to be descended from the Sun.” Gold—the masculine counterpart to the more effeminate Silver—expressed the transmission of authority between the Inca ruler and the Sun-deity, much like the divine right of kings. The Coya (the Inca ruler’s wife) was endowed with the mystifying properties of silver and the moon. The Luminescence exhibit contains artifacts that reach as far back as the pre-Inca period of the Chimu to unearth the inner workings of their ancient civilization. The Chimu possessed an ideology that was radically different from that of the Inca. By wearing silver, the Chimu—who perceived the moon as the controller of oceans
Silver pomander, Huanuco XIX Century (Coleccion Barbosa-Stern, Lima)
and weather, including the El Niño and La Niña—consciously expressed their desire for a fruitful harvest. Many of the relics also provide an extensive showcase of Peru’s colonial history. Despite the colonists’ efforts to extort silver for churches and ceremonies, Indigenous beliefs surrounding silver persisted during the colonial period. “When you see the desert-like climate, you could imagine the way gold and silver would reflect the harsh sunlight,” says Dr. Shelton. “It would
have been a very dramatic effect.” Dr. Shelton also stresses the importance of luminosity throughout Peruvian history; the show was imagined as an exhibition of light. “We wanted an exhibition that was different. We didn’t just want to enclose silver in cases.” Although the draw of archeological studies make Peru a hotspot for researchers across the globe, including for several Canadian analysts, there continues to be difficulties in the field. In many cases, as Dr. Shelton puts it,
“The only things we were left with were fragments.” Silver artifacts are some of the only scraps of information remaining to shed light on those rich and nuanced ancient cultures. On Wednesday, Feb 27, at 4:30 pm, Dr. Anthony Shelton will be giving a lecture titled, “Expressions of Power: Material Symbols in the Americas”, in University College, Room 140. The lecture will be presented in conjunction with the exhibition.
Call Me Kuchu:
SARA DERIS OPINIONS EDITOR The screening and discussion of the documentary Call Me Kuchu at Innis College on Feb 7 was a practice in competing rhetorics on the fight for LGBTQ rights and against antigay legislation in Uganda. Equal parts emotional, informational and rage-inducing, the documentary follows the lives of several gay rights activists in Uganda, culminating in the murder of community leader David Kato. It spoke poignantly to the isolation and loss felt by queer Ugandans facing impending anti-gay legislation, and a community’s devastation when their leader was brutally murdered for his beliefs. Much more interesting was the panel following the documentary. It included Dr. Rinaldo Walcott of the Department of Sociology and Equity Studies at OISE and Amy C. Willis from the HIV Prevention Lab at Ryerson University, and was moderated by Xtra’s Andrea Houston. Houston and Willis brought up several important but unsurprising topics, like the prevalence of HIV and
the harmful effect that the proposed anti-gay legislation will have on HIVpositive individuals. By forcing queer Ugandans “back into the closet” to avoid being penalized by law, this legislation will deal a blow to HIV treatment by criminalizing testing. Also discussed was the influence of evangelical preachers, many of whom are from Canada and the US. After “losing” the fight to criminalize homosexuality in their home countries, many of these preachers move to Africa or the Caribbean. This missionary work is colonial in nature, and reinforces belief that being homosexual is “un-African”—this coming from legions of white men. What saved the panel from being a bland, feel-good experience was Dr. Walcott. From his position as a cultural critic, he unpacked Western privileges and assumptions both inside and outside the film. His perspective was unpopular among those in attendance (most of whom seemed to favour “saving Africa” rhetoric), but in my opinion, it was the night’s most valuable and thought-provoking contribution. From the beginning of
the panel, Walcott indicated how uncomfortable he was with telling the audience how they could help those in Uganda, and expressed his lack of interest in the rhetoric of globally distant people “saving Africa”. Walcott
“Requiring homosexuality to be clearly visible to us is colonial in and of itself.” urged the audience to examine their own privilege in their communities and focus their efforts locally rather than globally. His rationale: that actions taken locally will reverberate globally, and that we cannot go about “saving” anyone until we examine the state of our own affairs in Canada. Walcott advocated becoming aware
of local politics and ensuring that any action taken in a global framework is not selfish or aimed at alleviating guilt instead of being actually effective. The most fascinating portion of the panel was the discussion on the creation of a Western, neoliberal homosexuality and our expectation to easily recognize what is gay and what is not globally. Walcott pointed to the use of Western symbols, such as the pride flag, as an example: Do symbols of LGBTQ activism in Uganda need to be easily recognizable to the Western eye? When we examine LGBTQ activism globally, do we have a preconceived idea that we will see what we “know” to be homosexuality? Essentially, requiring homosexuality to be clearly visible to us is colonial in and of itself. This discussion was met with a great deal of resistance from several members in the audience, but was extremely valuable. Dr. Walcott’s discussion prompted an examination of our “rights”, both the advantages and limitations that they bring, and a call to reflect on the injustices in our communities and act locally before thinking globally.
Arts & Culture • 11 Feb. 2013 • firstname.lastname@example.org
Neoliberalism & Uganadan gay rights
FILM & MUSIC EMILY POLLOCK
Plastic Soul The Strand sits down with director and FX specialist Steven Kostanski, whose new movie Manborg pays homage to 80s genre movies
ALEX GRIFFITH FILM EDITOR
To get a movie made, there’s a necessary level of obsession and fascism that would normally be considered unhealthy and deranged. “You need to be an asshole,” says Steven Kostanski, member of Winnipeg collective Astron-6 and director of Manborg, “which was a problem for me because I’m a little too nice. But at the same time, I’m a special effects guy and I’m not super-considerate of people when they’re covered in movie blood.” Astron-6, which is made up of five guys from Winnipeg who met during an annual short film contest, used to collectively make creative decisions when making a movie. For Manborg, however, Kostanski made it clear from the start that it was his baby. The story is simple: the forces of Hell, led by Draculon, wipe out the last forces of humanity. Dr. Scorpius, one-time stooge for Hell, rescues a corpse from the battlefield and resurrects him as a half-human, cyborg warrior with stoic virtues and unimpeachable optimism. Ideally, anyone watching Manborg would have Kostanski giving scene-by-scene commentary. Despite the low budget, every frame is layered with references to B-movies he grew up on.
Kostanski is absolutely the kind of film student who did not go to film school; he picked up his father’s Super 8 (I’m not kidding) when he was 12 and was submitting to festivals by 15. “I worked out all of the amateur kinks and suffered through the crappiest parts of learning how to make a movie.” He is even more old school than Super 8: he loves stop-motion animation (the CGI of the 1930s–70s) and has painstakingly created similar monsters and creatures for Manborg. For Kostanski, it comes back to obsession—the kind that drives a person to film limbs and strands of plastic hair by millimeters, shot by shot, taking hours to compose seconds. “I personally think there are uses for stop-motion in modern movies, but there seems to be this attitude that it’s CGI or nothing. Stop-motion is not necessarily more convincing, but it’s more effective in relation to [a] movie’s universe. Those techniques create their own reality, they never try to trick you into thinking something is real.” I ask him about Tim Burton. He scoffs. “An issue I have, especially with Corpse Bride, is that the animation is so
perfect and polished that it doesn’t need to be stop-motion anymore!” Kostanski is all about Ray Harryhausen, the legendary animator of Jason and the Argonauts (1963). He goes on a discursive tangent on the Medusa scene from the original Clash of the Titans. “It’s good, not just because the animation is good, but because of how it’s integrated into the environment. How Harryhausen manages to get firelight flickering off Medusa’s armour.” The jerkiness of Harryhausen’s work —a more familiar example for today’s generation might be Henry Selick’s The Nightmare Before Christmas—was part of the movie’s soul. “All the designs for monsters now have the same couple of features; they have skull brows and weird split noses and a split jaw that opens up—this all started with the vampires of Blade 2. Everything now has to have its face split open.” Kostanski would rather have a stop-motion puppet or someone’s appearance accentuated through makeup instead of trying to make the monster look visually interesting. “The monster has to be a threat. You don’t want the audience analyzing how it walks.” Kostanski has an encyclopedic knowledge of VHS and N64 lore—I would love to get him in the same room as Wu-Tang Clan’s RZA—and admits that 80s-to-90s pop culture forms the very fabric of his thinking. “All I was renting [as a teenager] was 80s horror and action, and I’d consume them on the weekends. That’s just how my brain works now. I wish everything could be like an 80s John Carpenter/James Cameron movie.” His goal with Manborg, apart from conjuring a sense of childhood wonder, was to create an interwoven universe of
all the movies of his past (in a nostalgic way, not in an ironic way). One of his problems with contemporary sci-fi is “the self-referential side of it.” This might sound odd coming from someone who combs, magpie-like, through pop-junk landfills like Mortal Kombat: Annihilation, but he argues that his work, while hyperbolic, still has soul. “The thing that makes Manborg unique is that even though it’s silly, it really takes itself seriously,” he says. The usually easy-going Kostanski turns derisive when it comes to mainstream sci-fi, saying, “It seems like everything has to be high-concept soft sci-fi, or it’s just an action movie with a bunch of sci-fi stuff thrown in.” He’s also not optimistic about the future of Star Wars. “Now all of the nerdy things from our childhood are going to be homogenized into a JJ AbramsDisney spectacle.” The Mortal Kombat-meets-Terminator aesthetic of Manborg is one vision among hundreds in the resurgence of independent genre filmmaking sweeping North America. This has been brought on in part by 2007’s Grindhouse and a growing awareness of the exploitation genre, but also by popular midnight screenings of best “worst” movies Troll 2 and The Room. “Personally I think Grindhouse-type movies need to go away before we can see more good movies down the road; there’s only so many variations of the rape-revenge movie you can make. One of the negative offshoots of this rebirth is that there’s this stigma attached to it because of exploitation movies. I would like to see more kinds of genres getting made for people to explore.”
Endearingly cheesy: Manborg ZAREEN DIN STAFF WRITER You’re never really sure what to expect when a film advertises itself as being a Canadian film made for less than $2000. The plot for Manborg doesn’t help either. Earth is taken over by Count Draculon, who turns the world into a living hell. In order to save Earth, man/machine hybrid Manborg fights alongside a kungfu master, an Australian Billy Holliday look-alike, and a blue-haired woman. The plot takes them through war games straight out of ancient Rome. All of these elements are played out
in the film’s brief 62-minute running time, which is filled with absolute delight and absolute disgust. The film is a highly self-aware parody, and the actors seem to be in on the joke, delivering their clichéd lines with over the top gusto. The bad guys turn out to be dull and melodramatic—one, for example, suffers from unrequited love. It’s both difficult to believe and totally understandable that the film was made on such a paltry budget. Though the villains are not so scary, their costumes are wonderfully detailed. Director Steven Kostanski created the costumes and special effects, and goes
above and beyond in both. The animation is jerkily integrated and the film occasionally changes lighting through a single scene, making the film so shoddy it becomes endearing. The film’s resolution feels incomplete. Manborg may win the battle for Earth, but in the end we know that there’s no heaven. The storyline completely falls apart by the end, but the film is just short enough that you will be satisfied by all the bad jokes instead. I tried my best to draw some sort of overarching message, but the film appears to be completely against that sort of thing. Manborg may save the world,
but he’s also pretty cheesy and makes a lot of the same bad jokes again and again. Despite the convoluted plotline, the actors give off an air of complete normality. Though Earth is taken over by hell, you can’t really run away from unrequited love—or from stupid mistakes made “for science”. That may be the joy of this film. We are laughing with the movie. We see the complete artifice of the creation and enjoy it because it’s exactly what it wants to be. So, if you like B-movies with a Robocop vibe, a cast of eclectic characters, and hokey plotlines, Manborg is playing at the Royal (608 College St.) on Mar 1.
It’s not just dead white dudes
How the Criterion canon can add some considerate curation to your DVD shelf DAVIN LEIVONEN-FOK STAFF WRITER For the average person who buys a lot of mainstream DVDs, the word “Criterion” can mean the difference between paying $10 for your average movie and paying $40 for a film many people probably haven’t heard of. For a cinephile or ardent film fanatic, Criterion means an unknown film or old classic, which comes in a superior bitrate, free of film blemishes and errors, supplementary bonus features, and a case that looks nice in your DVD/Blu-Ray collection. The Criterion Collection’s mission statement is that they are a “continuing series of important classic and contemporary films.” Since August, I have spent a hefty amount of scrilla on Criterion DVDs—totalling ten DVDs for roughly $35 each, oof—on many films that I’ve
never seen. While the prices of Criterion DVDs may be high, the unavailability of these films in mass production justifies the price. When the Criterion says that they publish classic films, they’re not implying that they’re offering some supreme cut of Citizen Kane. The “classic” films on the Criterion roster include The Seventh Seal (1957), The Rules of the Game (1939), and The 39 Steps (1935). The same goes for their more familiar contemporary films such as Traffic (2000), and philosophical war film The Thin Red Line (1998). The Criterion’s aim is rarely to showcase conventional Hollywood cinema; they have a propensity to release art house cinema from the likes of Akira Kurosawa, Ingmar Bergman, and Jean Renoir, and from more contemporary directors such as Roman Polanski, Wes Anderson, and Pier Paolo Pasolini.
One notable Criterion film that falls under neither the contemporary nor classic category is the fairly unknown (but unforgettable) horror film House. Directed by Nouhiko Obayashi, House is an existential crisis, a giant head-trip, and a commercial-turned-film wrapped into one. In its bewildering use of effects and its unpredictable plotting (because your guesses do not matter... at all), House turns a typical “girls go to haunted house” adventure into an imminent head scratcher. The reason for House’s unknown status in North America is that it was popular with young Japanese audiences, but the established older Japanese film producers didn’t want their cinema heading in the direction of North American horror films and consequently did not initially release it in North America. The Criterion is also a very experimental, risk-taking investment: each
film is relatively pricey, and buyers probably don’t intend on reselling it for much less than they paid for it. In my current collection of Criterion DVDs, I’ve yet to find a film that has underwhelmed me, though there are certainly some films that are better than others. To my surprise, The Rules of the Game now ranks in my top three films, despite my difficulty in stomaching its infamous hunting scene. For those looking for a Valentine’s Day present for their film fanatic special someone, I suggest picking up Hal Ashby’s Harold and Maude—a classic that demonstrates how love is blind and ageless. Criterion DVDs and BluRays can be found at Sonic Boom (782 Bathurst St., at Bloor), HMV at Bloor/ Yonge (50 Bloor St. W), HMV Superstore at Yonge/Dundas (333 Yonge St.), all of which have their own Criterion sections, or online at www.amazon.ca.
Albums to watch out for Bahar Banaei & Fan Wu bring you February’s most highly anticipated albums We The Common Thao & The Get Down Stay Down Feb 5: The first thing most people notice with Thao & The Get Down Stay Down’s new album, We The Common, is
Broke With Expensive Taste
The Archer Trilogy Pt. 3
The Deer Tracks
Feb 12: Harlem rapper/singer
Feb 12: The light electronic duo
I Am Not A Human Being II
Push the Sky Away
Azealia Banks wowed the world after the release of her first debut mixtape, Fantasea, and her EP 1991. Although rumours say we won’t hear her rapping as much, we have high hopes for this talented up-and-comer.
from Sweden releases the last part of their Archer Trilogy. You can expect to hear their signature soft and resonant sound once again on this installment.
Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
Feb 19: After much anticipation,
Feb 19: 30 years after the inception
Lil Wayne finalized the release date of his tenth studio album, which was initially expected to be released to the public in November.
Film & Music • 11 Feb. 2013 • email@example.com
the appearance of Joanna Newsom—her first appearance on an album since Have One On Me. But Newsom isn’t the most noteworthy thing abot We The Common: that title belongs to Thao’s songwriting, which has gotten both catchier and more expansive since her last album (check out the chorus on “The Feeling Kind”). The songs are buoyed by Thao’s distinctive voice, which is shaded in grey without ever being dull and emotively percussive without ever getting heavy. A worthwhile listen.
of the band, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds have announced the release of their 15th studio album, recorded in La Fabrique, a studio in Southern France.
My Bloody Valentine: Better late than never A look at twenty absent years and a review of new MBV album m b v WEB EDITOR
spent a million pounds of Island Records money and nearly destroyed himself trying to improve on perfection. Shields’ claim in December that the album would be released by the end of 2012 barely registered, and when the year ended, was mostly forgotten about. Even in the week before the new album was released, when Shields told an audience that the album would be out within a few days, something new seemed unlikely. But here it is: m b v. Contrary to my worst fears, it is truly great. It may
not equal Loveless, but it has that perfect guitar sound, those devastating harmonies, and even treads new ground—“in another way” almost has jungle breakbeats. What is most amazing, to me at least, is that My Bloody Valentine have returned, on their own terms, to give us new music. They didn’t have to do it – Loveless alone secured their immortality – but they did. Against all expectations, My Bloody Valentine now exist in the present tense. m b v is here, and My Bloody Valentine are a part of 2013.
members Kevin Shields and Colm Ó Cíosóig plus Debbie Googe on bass and Belinda Butcher on guitar and vocals. This nine-track album is complex, with most of the songs filled with the constant sound of a hazy guitar blending with Butcher’s ethereal vocals. They play with sound like the best DJs, distorting instruments with consummate skill. It feels as though you’re listening to the album still dreaming. As front man Kevin Shields said in an interview, “[I] wanted to see what would happen if I worked in a more impressionistic way, so that it only comes together at the end...” The very end, apparently. The band began recording material for this record in 1996 and has been working towards its completion ever since. One
fan spoke for many in his comment on the band’s website, writing “this album is making up for the last 21 years.” But he didn’t speak for the listener who posted “I want to destroy my eardrums with a rusty pipe cleaner while ripping my eyes out with a pine cone” in the comment thread for “who sees you.” Apparently there’s no pleasing everyone. My Bloody Valentine open their album with the song “she found now,’”, a trance-inducing song that would best be heard while driving along a highway at night. The vocals separate from the melody at times, only to meet again in single notes to remind listeners that the vocals and instruments do, in fact, complement each other. The track is characterized by the hazy, indistinct guitar mask-
ing the singing. Enunciation—just like capitalization—is apparently not part of My Bloody Valentine’s set list. The first few tracks are devoted almost entirely to the guitar before the album shifts, bringing in percussion: drums and tambourines make an appearance in songs such as “if i am” and “new you”. One of my favourite songs, “only tomorrow”, brings a Velvet Underground quality to the vocals, soothing and gentle with a surprising guitar melody that sounds like it should be at the end of The Breakfast Club; a little 80s teenage inspiration to shake up all the mellow. Also shaking up the mellow are songs like “nothing is”, with a classic rock-and-roll feel. However, it’s a song that never starts, featuring a promising intro that continues for 3:35—the entire length of the song. The album ends with “wonder 2”, a spacey song with garbled vocals that trick you into thinking you’re listening to the song inside a helicopter. This music keeps your ears busy and your mind empty. m b v is an album about sound, mixing what they’ve been doing for 20 years with a splash of the modern day. Listen with the lights out and the volume on full blast.
I, and presumably most people reading this, grew up in a world in which My Bloody Valentine were a part of the historical record, a band that was great, a band that had great albums. The oft-repeated promises by Kevin Shields that a follow-up to their 1991 masterpiece Loveless would be released started to ring hollow in about 2005, and their reunion tour in 200809 seemed little different from the reanimations of bands like The Pix-
ies and Pavement of the same period. Conceptually, My Bloody Valentine existed in the past, like Pepsi Blue and really existing socialism. Having accepted the fact that My Bloody Valentine was never going to do anything else, another worry emerged: that the band would have to succumb to financial pressure and release something that wasn’t good, or wasn’t ready. The only thing worse than not having a new album would be having a bad album, one that ruined the romantic myth of the obsessive genius behind Loveless who
Like a mother motivated by the threat of a C-section, after two months of labour, the band pushed this bloody baby out, tranquil and woozy and ready to greet the world. Date of birth: Feb 2, 2013, 11:58pm
If you’re only hearing about My Bloody Valentine now, apparently you’re 22 years too late. Loyal fans prowl the comment threads of YouTube, waiting to take down those unlucky enough to have stumbled across this Dublin-born band only recently. However, if you can push past their army of followers, you’ll find an album packed with sound; music that makes Mozart roll over in his grave and youngsters sway their hips with their eyes closed. It’s been 22 years since Loveless, their last album, was released. As months turned into years with no sign of an album, even the most loyal of fans began turning against the band, posting comments on Facebook and the official webpage of My Bloody Valentine that promised they would not buy the album, even if it did come out. And like a mother motivated by the threat of a C-section, after two months of labour, the band pushed this bloody baby out, tranquil and woozy and ready to greet the world. Date of birth: Feb 2, 2013, 11:58pm. The band is made up of founding
Fifty shades of scarlet and gold WILL PETTIGREW SINGLE It was a seductively cold February on campus and the students both rejoiced and bemoaned the recent “snowpocalypse”. It was a veritable winter wonderland, perfect for romantic montages of happy couples smiling, strolling, and throwing snowballs at each other in the giddy prelude to sexual congress. The Romanesque architecture of Victoria College was erect in the crisp night air against the silken black sky as delicate flakes of snow danced somberly towards the ground like the denouement of a Joyce short story. It is here that two strangers in the night are about the cross paths and be forever touched by the throbbing force of passion. Lachlan was returning to his dorm from the last class of the day. The snow was speckling his wool pea coat and he was cold—he did not wear a hat, so as to not mess up his hair, and slim-fit H&M chinos provided no warmth in the mild Toronto winter. He shuffled awkwardly down the stone path doing everything he could to distract his mind from the fact that he was alone on Valentine’s Day. He quickened his pace and brought his chin into his chest as he passed Gate House to escape the thoughts of sexual deprivation. In his ignorance of his surroundings, he collided into a passerby coming out from under the gates. The two tangled and tumbled into the snow, mumbling expletives all the way. Lachlan stood up, brushing the snow off his jacket and straightening his messenger bag, the thought of helping the other up not crossing his mind. The victim of his careless rushing was the young Elena Grace, a Vic student. She searched for her hornrimmed glasses in the snow and stood up to see who she collided with. The two made eye contact for a split second and Lachlan immediately averted his eyes to a miserable patch of snowcovered stone. “I’m so sorry, I didn’t see you, I had my head tucked in and I was rushing because of the cold,” said Elena, replacing her glasses and rearranging her bangs. “Oh, it’s okay, sorry, it was my fault,” sputtered Lachlan. “Are you okay?” “Yeah, yeah, I’m okay, thanks.” The two then fell silent and shuffled their feet, their eyes meeting one more time. Elena broke the silence with, “Well, I better get going now,” and get going she got. “Bye,” Lachlan squeaked as he watched her walk towards the stairs leading to Lower Burwash. He turned and walked towards the library so not to put himself in the uncomfortable position of having to walk in the vicinity of the beautiful woman he just bowled over. He knew who she was: she lived in BG; she was in Vic One; he saw her at plenary. She was in the Frye Stream and he was in Pearson. He first noticed her during Frosh Week and decided then that “she seemed cool”. He had never spoken to her, but longed to make her acquaintance. Elena walked back to her room and pondered over what had just happened. She knew who he was: Lachlan DeLoitte; Vic One Pearson stream; lived in Caven House. She first noticed him during Frosh Week and decided then that “he seemed cool.” She had never spoken to him but longed to make his acquaintance. After enough time had passed and Lachlan was sure Elena was inside the residence, he went back towards Caven House. He knew about a party happening in RJ tonight so he put on his best flannel shirt, picked up his bottle of Fuzion, and headed over. Just around the corner in BG, Elena was getting ready for the same party. She put on her best flannel, picked up her Rekorderligs, and started towards RJ. The party was mediocre at best, but pretty good by
UofT standards. Some of Lachlan’s friends were there and they were having a heated discussion on Cold War-era economic policies in central Europe. Lachlan was more interested in meeting girls, but it never seemed to happen while in the company of his friends. He wandered off, wine bottle in hand, to try his luck. Completely unaware of his purple teeth, having only begun drinking a few months ago, Lachlan smiled nervously and approached a group of people in the corner who seemed to be talking about something other the Cold War-era economic policies in central Europe. He got closer and realized the girl with her back to him in the flannel shirt and black tights was, in fact, Elena. Before he could retreat, Steven from French class called out his name. “Lachlan! What’s up, buddy?” Lachlan had no choice. He didn’t like Steven but always ended up sitting beside him. “Oh, hey Steven, how’s it going?” he responded in a sheepish mumble, avoiding eye contact with Elena as she turned to see who Steven was greeting. “This is Craig, Laura, David, Steph, and Elena. Everybody this is Lachlan, he’s in my French class.” “Hi everyone,” said Lachlan, with a large, goofy
smile and a sweeping wave around the circle. Elena smiled and looked at the ground while putting her hair behind her ear. “So what do you take?” asked the one called Steph. “I’m in Vic One, uhhh, Pearson Stream. I do like, political science and history and stuff like that...” “Oh. Cool,” replied Steph, completely uninterested. The conversation resumed, but it was all white noise in the ears of Lachlan and Elena. The two of them just stood silently drinking, nodding and laughing when appropriate, eyes always wandering around the room, crossing in brief flashes of sexual mystery. Lachlan had finished about two thirds of his bottle of wine and was quite drunk. He found Elena extremely attractive and decided he was going to go for it. He hadn’t had sex since he did the Explore program in Montreal last summer, his first time. He was so captivated with the sexual energy emanating from Elena’s every half smile and timid sip of cider that he was finding it hard to think of anything but making sweet, sweet love to her. Elena had finished two of her three Rekorderligs and was quite drunk. She found Lachlan extremely attractive and decided she was going for it. She hadn’t had sex since her high school graduation party last summer, her first time. She was so captivated with the sexual energy emanating from Lachlan’s every twoword contribution to the conversation and the tightness of his pants that she was finding it hard to think of anything but making sweet, sweet love to him. Slowly the group dispersed, one by one, leaving Lachlan and Elena alone at last. The wine had gotten to his head and he decided to break the ice. “Would you like to have a consensual sexual experience with me tonight?” “Yes,” was all she could say. The two of them put
STRANDED Sexual Healing
their coats and shoes on and left the party together. “My roommate is studying at Robarts all night,” Lachlan told her, as his average and unimpressive erection fought hard against the cotton cage of his chinos. “Okay,” Elena whispered, breasts heaving with every deep breath. They arrived at Caven House and Lachlan produced his key. “I am the key master, are you the gatekeeper?” he said with a coy smile. “Uhh, okay? Yeah? I guess?” she replied confusedly. The reference was lost on her and Lachlan nearly called the whole thing off, but Elena’s exceptional allure made him stay the course. They walked up to the third floor and entered Lachlan’s room. They carefully removed their coats and boots and made their way to the back alcove, Lachlan’s area. He deadbolted the front door and the bathroom door and turned out the lights except for the soft, sensual glow of the bedside lamp. Elena was taking in the books and films on his shelf while he quickly threw his dirty laundry into his hamper. “Okay, are you ready?” Lachlan asked tepidly. “Yes,” she replied tersely. They began to unbutton their respective flannels. Lachlan passed her a coat hanger for her shirt and he hung them both up in the sexiest way possible. He was piqued by her shirtless body standing there in nothing but a bra, tights, and wool work socks. His eyes followed her curves up and down and luckily he was drunk enough to not realize what was going on and chicken out. She was piqued by his gangly, shapeless arms, white undershirt, and grey chinos. Her eyes followed down from his perfect hair to his black dress socks and luckily she was drunk enough not to realize she could do better. She gingerly peeled off her tights and socks, revealing the heart print panties she purchased specifically for today. Lachlan unbuttoned his button-fly deliberately and removed his pants, revealing his long-johns. Elena could almost make out the impression of his manhood on his long underwear and this almost aroused her. They fumblingly removed their undergarments until both were nude in front of the other and thus spoke Lachlan: “Please, after you,” pointing to the bed. “Oh. No, you first, it’s okay,” Elena said back. “Um, okay, yeah.” Lachlan climbed into bed, erection flopping like a landed perch. Elena followed and climbed on top, her perfect breasts staring him in the face like the glasses of Dr. TJ Eckleberg. Lachlan reached into the drawer under his bed, removing a condom and single-use lubricant packet so graciously provided to his don across the hall by SEC. He applied these slowly and shakily. When it was done, she cautiously lowered herself onto his stiff member, both of them too rookie to even consider foreplay. They bungled back and forth, shifting around in the vaguest semblance of coitus this side of frottage. Seven whole minutes passed and a pathetic grunt signalled that Lachlan was running on empty. Elena was reminded of a particular poetic passage: “This is the way the world ends…” as she climbed off and sat on the side of the bed, feeling nothing. She began to dress herself in silence and he rose and put his underwear back on. “Well, I better go,” she said to him, and went to put her boots and coat on. “Okay,” Lachlan said, wrapping the used prophylactic in tissue and putting it in the drawer to hide it from his roommate. “Bye,” she said as she left his dorm. Lachlan sat still and stared at the wall, unsure how to feel. As Elena walked back to her room, she thought: “Asshole could have at least eaten me out. Fuck.”
Come on, we’re just teasing
Q: How many shoestrings can you buy with $350K?
ART BY EMILY POLLOCK
A supporter of The Varsity was recently quoted as saying, “Week after week, The Varsity’s dedicated staff publishes award-winning content on a shoestring budget.” He expressed a deep, university-wide concern that The Varsity just doesn’t have enough money to maintain the superlative content that we’ve come to expect from their illustrious pages. Here at The Strand, we’re very concerned about preserving “UofT’s unofficial journalism school.” To help our skint comrades at The Varsity, we decided to publish a helpful how-to manual, detailing how they can strech their tiny budget. After all, without them, who would be the Voice of the Students?
The Varsity budget* 1 pair 33” shoelaces Total shoelaces that The Varsity could purchase
That’s 1,960,629 feet of shoestring, or enough shoelaces to stretch around the Earth 14.9 times.
Alternately, you could buy enough shoestring to stretch around Jupiter 1.3 times.
Or, if you wanted to splurge, you could buy eighteen pairs of 24K gold shoelaces by mr. kennedy. At $19,000 each, these laces are truly befitting of Canada’s largest student newspaper.
So fear not, ladies and gentlemen of The Varsity! As long as you budget sensibly, you should be able buy enough shoestrings to last you through the year. But my solid fiscal advice, as an English student, is to invest in a money pool. You can put it in the basement of the Goldring Center (it’ll never get finished anyways), and it can stand as a testament to the values that your beloved newspaper holds dear. If all else fails, join us. You can find us skimming loose change out of the fountains at the Eaton Center. * The Varsity, Volume CXXXII, No. 23
Published on Feb 11, 2013