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VICTORIA UNIVERSITY’S STUDENT NEWSPAPER
VOL. 56 ISSUE 3 • SEPT. 30 2013 • WWW.THESTRAND.CA
WELCOME TO NIGHT VALE
THE DEATH OF HONEST ED’S
IN THE NAME OF DRAKE
HARPER’S ‘PIPELINE PUSH’ IGNORES CLIMATE CHANGE CONCERNS
TEGAN HANSEN-HOEDEMAN Over the past few weeks, Prime Minister Harper and members of his cabinet have been in British Columbia for a so-called “pipeline push.” This has involved meeting with First Nations about the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline which would transport Tar Sands bitumen between Alberta and Kitimat, BC. Northern Gateway, Kinder Morgan, and Keystone XL, are all projects sparking contention between governments, First Nations, businesses, and environmentalists over pipeline proposals. Keystone XL is a proposed expansion to existing pipeline infrastructure in Canada and the United States. The pipeline would transport syncrude and bitumen from the Alberta Tar Sands to refineries in the Gulf Coast of Texas. Amid conflicting reports from government agencies and third-party reviewers, President Obama has stated that he will not approve Keystone XL if it contributes significantly to greenhouse gas emissions. Prime Minister Harper, however, has responded by saying that he “[won’t] take no for an answer.” While in New York for a UN Summit, Harper made it clear that he “will keep pushing forward” for the pipeline plans. The PM is following in the footsteps of Alberta Premier Alison Redford, who earlier this year visited the United States to lobby for Keystone XL. Both leaders have asserted that constructing new pipelines is essential for Canada’s national economic strength and job creation.
The Tar Sands industry is landlocked, making the transportation of its bitumen to Texas or overseas refineries a difficult issue. It is much less expensive to ship unrefined syncrude and bitumen by rail or pipeline to distant refineries than to construct refineries in the province. The environmental implications of transporting tar sands product are potentially severe: bitumen is diluted with a chemical concoction, and while most crude oil floats when spilled on water, bitumen sinks and accumulates. Its distinct properties have increased the environmental and local opposition to proposed pipeline and tanker infrastructure. Many argue that constructing additional fossil fuel infrastructure to facilitate the development of the ecologically destructive Tar Sands presents a moral and practical problem. Pressure is therefore on President Obama to reject Keystone XL and address these climate change issues. For Northern Gateway, a review process is currently underway to gather opinions from Enbridge, First Nations, and other interested parties in order to make a recommendation to the federal government. Given government support for this and other pipeline projects, it is unlikely they will abandon their plans. Decisions on both Keystone XL and Northern Gateway are expected in late 2013.
News At A Glance VIC On Friday, a protest gathered around Northrop Frye to celebrate writers who are not “middle-aged white men” in response to Professor David Gilmour’s interview about which authors he teaches, and which he doesn’t. His comments regarding an indifference towards Chinese, female, or non-heterosexual writers has sparked outrage on and off campus.
TORONTO In downtown Toronto on Thursday September 27, members of the group White Ribbon, a male anti-discrimination and antiviolence against women movement, staged a charity event in which men walked in high heels for a mile.
WORLD A woman was instantaneously killed by a train in Zaporizhia, Ukraine while her male partner’s legs were torn off by the train. Police say the woman and her male partner were acting on what is believed to have been impulses of pre-dawn railroadside passion when the accident occurred.
ISLAMIC MILITANT ATTACKS
IN KENYA AND NIGERIA
EMILY POLLOCK On September 21st, gunmen stormed Westgate Mall, opening gunfire on civilians and taking hostages. At least 67 people are confirmed to have died; 61 are still missing. Many of these fatalities were foreign nationals, including a Canadian diplomat who worked at the high commission in Kenya. Al-Shabaab, a militant organization with ties to al-Qaeda, has taken responsibility for the attack. The group claims its actions were a response to Kenya’s military intervention in Somalia, where it has had troops since 2011. After a four-day shootout between the militants and Kenya’s security forces at Westgate Mall, two radically different pictures of the event emerged last Tuesday. The Kenyan authorities claimed that all the hostages had been released and that the crisis was effectively over. However, al-Shabaab tweeted: “there are [a] countless number of dead bodies still scattered inside the mall, and the Mujahideen are still holding their ground” from an account called HSM Press. Their Twitter account has been suspended several times, but the group has merely switched names to avoid being blocked from the site. Al-Shabaab’s use of Twitter marks the negative effects of wide-ranging access to online communication. It has allowed them to gather followers from all over the world; the attackers have been described as a “multilateral coalition” that includes three Americans and one British national. The group has been active since at least 2006, when they fought against Ethiopian troops in Kenya. Most of their operations have been suicide bombings inside Somalia itself, and their main goal is to overthrow Somalia’s government and institute Sharia law. They claim that this particular attack was caused by the presence of Kenya’s armed forces in Somalia and that “we’ll not [sic] negotiate with the Kenyan govt as long as its forces are invading our
country, so reap the bitter fruits of your harvest.” Kenyan armed forces have been in Somalia for two years in an attempt to halt cross-border raids that were ruining their tourism industry. The targeting of a mall that hosted a large percentage of foreign nationals appears to be deliberate. The attackers claim that they have targeted only non-Muslims, tweeting that “all Muslims inside Westgate were escorted out by the Mujahideen before the armed assault commenced,” which indicates that they are trying to send a message to Western countries. Almost 5000 kilometres away in Nigeria’s Borno state, gun attacks have been carried out by Boko Haram, a local Islamist militant group. A massacre of civilians on September 17th marked the latest in a series of brutal attacks that have killed at least 2000 people over the past few years. This one has resulted in the death of 143 people, while two days later, an attack on people travelling from Maiduguri to Bamboa killed 20 people. This is not the first time the group has attacked villages in the region — Boko Haram has been deploying suicide and mass-killing tactics since 2009. When describing the aims of their group, their leader Abubakar Shekau said, “We will continue waging war against [the Nigerian government] until we shall have succeeded in establishing an Islamic state in Nigeria.” They are particularly opposed to Western-style education, which they believe is against the Koran. Since May of this year, the state military have cracked down on the group, with limited success. Although these two attacks both underline the seriousness of political and religious unrest in Africa, the Nigerian massacre has received far less coverage in the international press.
BUS CRASH OUTSIDE OF OTTAWA PHYLLIS PEARSON Six people were killed and over 30 were injured in a horrific bus crash which occurred outside of Ottawa on September 18th. An OC Transpo doubledecker passenger bus travelling North collided with a VIA rail train just outside of the Fallowfield train station. The collision occurred at 8:48 am, when the driver of the bus drove through a level-crossing as the train was approaching. An investigation into what may have caused the accident is still ongoing. The driver, 47 year old Dave Woodard, was killed in the accident. He had almost ten years experience as a driver for OC Transpo, and a clean driving record. It has been reported that he suffered from type 2 diabetes, prevalent among bus drivers as a result of the sedentary demands of the job. Whether or not his medical condition is related to the crash has not been discovered. No definitive cause of the accident has been announced. In the past, the Transportation Safety Board has voiced concerns surrounding the safety of level-crossings; the type of crossing at which the accident occurred. Level-crossings are points where roads intersect a railway
at ground-level. Flashing lights indicate an oncoming train and a gate lowers preventing cars from crossing when a train is approaching. Vehicles that arrive at the intersection when the lights are flashing are to wait until the train has passed before crossing, even if the gate has not been fully lowered. Investigations revealed that before the crash, warning lights had been engaged and the safety gate had been lowered. The warning lights had been flashing for 45 seconds and the gate was in a fully lowered position a complete 25 seconds before the collision. Though it remains a mystery as to how the driver could have failed to see the oncoming train, psychologist Dan Simons of the University of Illinois has noted that there is an important distinction between looking and seeing. It is possible to view a stimulus without it being registered in the brain of the viewer. In these cases it is possible to look right at something and still fail to notice it. Among the victims were two university students, both 21 years old. Over 30 other passengers were taken to hospital, 10 of which are in critical condition.
VOLUNTEERING ABROAD The new White Man’s Burden
QASIM KAREEMI AND SARAH MITCHELL • ACADIA UNIVERSITY WOLFVILLE (CUP) — Every summer, students find their way around the world on unique volunteer opportunities in developing countries. From Ghana to Ecuador to India, Student Volunteer Abroad Programs (SVAPs) aim to bring development to impoverished countries through volunteering and student leadership. We commend our peers for their hard work in these faraway countries and assume that these programs present valuable and successful methods by which we bring aid to desperate communities that would be left in much worse conditions were it not for altruistic volunteer efforts. These programs, however noble in intent, are a new way of imposing Western values of development and progress through programs that offer better opportunities to the individuals volunteering abroad than they do for those they are supposed to be helping. SVAPs present a new manifestation of the White Man’s Burden. We send our students across the world like the missionaries of old, to dirty impoverished places that lack those holy institutions of democracy and development. These are institutions that we have been raised to idealize, much the same as the missionaries of old idealized Christian values. Like those missionaries, we build schools and aim to improve the communities by imparting our own values and knowledge, which we promise
to be of great global value. These SVAPs are not necessarily motivated by the supposed altruism we imagine – in fact, recent research suggests the opposite. In Rebecca Tiessen’s 2012 study on the motivations of Canadian student who volunteer abroad, “personal growth was the motivation most often indicated as very important” – as indicated by 55 out of the 68 participants in her sample. They also highlighted the “luck” they associated with being born in Canada and the developed world. As Tiessen herself notes, this suggests that these Canadian student volunteers see the developing world as “unlucky.” They assume that volunteering is a good way to reverse the fortunes of the unlucky, paying little regard to the global system they perpetuate and benefit from, which constitutes the real foundation of the “unluckiness” of the developing world. These neo-colonial endeavors, however, are not merely perpetuated by students, but are empowered by foreign aid institutions at a higher level. The Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) is a government organization that funds foreign development programs. A large portion of CIDA’s funds are directed towards various forms of SVAPs. This means that much of our foreign development money is being spent on sending Canadian students abroad for their own personal growth
while keeping them safe and secure amongst the dangerous unlucky. Again, these programs are reminiscent of the state-funded missionaries sent to bring Christianity to the heathen masses scattered around the globe. This is not to condemn those students who do volunteer abroad or to suggest that the work they do is without any benefit whatsoever to the communities they aim to help. What is important here is to note our own selfish attitudes underlying some of the noblest looking programs we fund. Moreover, we should not simply abandon these enterprises and leave the developing world alone altogether. As the famous post-colonialist author Aimé Césaire said, “for civilizations, exchanges is oxygen.” The important question is whether the way that we exchange knowledge and goods with other nations is as equitable and fair as possible. To this end, the answer is simply no. Whether we like it or not, we help to maintain a global system which perpetuates increasing disparities of power and wealth. Even when we aim to alleviate the symptoms of this systemic inequality, our efforts amount to little more than self-beneficial endeavors that perpetuate neo-colonial ideals of development.
IS NOT YOURS TO
SARA DERIS I get asked my ethnicity a lot. Definitely more than I get asked my name. This in itself is not that troublesome. There is an unsettling inclination for those posing the question to, upon hearing my answer, exclaim “Well I love shawarma! Baklava, right?” First of all - I am not Lebanese. Anything Middle Eastern seems to be lumpable into one categor y (not that it’s the only region to receive such treatment). Secondly - shawarma has nothing to do with my background, culture, personality, or ever yday life. It seems as though, in interactions with ethnic minorities, food is an acceptable way to smalltalk yourself into familiarity with a person. More than that, equating ethnicity with food effectively reduces ethnicity to a commodity – something to purchase, own, and consume at will. It trivializes and depoliticizes ethnicity to the point where it is no more than a takeout box of crappy lo mein or an adorable “tribal” patterned shir t at Forever 21. This trivialization of ethnicity ser ves to perpetuate colonial ways of thinking. You are not “celebrating” the ethnicity you are consuming by buying cheap copies of choice par ts of a culture while ignoring the rest. You may love moccasins, but don’t expect your SoftMocs to get you a standing ovation from all Native American people ever ywhere (who, by the way, are not one homogenous nation bent on ensuring your feet are comfor table). Shawarma may be your go-to drunk food, but please don’t expect me to be f lattered that you know what tahini is. Shopping in the “ethnic section” at the grocer y store (don’t even get me star ted on how problematic that label is) does not make you a worldly, benevolent explorer. Ethnicity seems to be measured on a scale – white as the star ting point, and anything in excess of that as really “ethnic” and belonging on cheap blankets or in the corner of the supermarket. Seemingly innocent displays of “ethnic”
consumer goods ser ve to fur ther undermine and oppress ethnic minorities by allowing us to be bought and sold, eaten and thrown away, on a whim. The Eat, Pray Love-rs of the world seem to think that ethnicity - and by extension Otherness - is cute, collectable, and exists to help them “find themselves.” Marketing ethnicity keeps imperialist discourses alive. It and allows consumers to happily rip apar t cultures, extract pieces they desire, and forget the rest. bell hooks, in Black Looks: Race and Representation, describes this as “eating the Other”: “mass culture is the contemporar y location that both publicly declares and perpetuates the idea that there is pleasure to be found in the acknowledgment and enjoyment of racial difference. The com-
modication of Otherness has been so successful because it is offered as a new delight, more intense, more satisfying than normal ways of doing and feeling”. Commodity culture sees so-called “exotic” difference in Otherness and desires it insofar as it desires to consume and own, not respect. This fascination with commodifying and owning Otherness points to a larger desire to define the Other in relation to what Whiteness is not; to firmly demarcate a difference and place Whiteness on a pedestal. Commodifying ethnicity and Otherness has nothing to do with admiration and ever ything to do with protecting White Privilege. In the words of Raisa Bhuiyan, “[we] are not freezie pops that you can just suck the sweet inside from and throw the plastic wrapper away.”
What does Gilmour ask us?
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PATRICK MUJUNEN EDITOR-IN-CHIEF By now, most of you will have been exposed to the outrage stirred up by Vic professor David Gilmour’s comments on women and minority writers—probably to the point of exhaustion. It’s understandable (how many different ways can the Toronto dailies run the same article? We’re still finding out) given the scope of public reaction, but we feel that a few important points have either been neglected or simply gone unnoticed in much of the coverage so far. What we at The Strand are concerned about is how the conversation has largely centered on the freedom of educators to determine their own syllabus, rather than on how easily positions of authority can be abused in incredibly damaging and marginalizing ways to young students – with victims then told that “they should have known what they were signing up for”, along with the implication that they were just too darn sensitive and/or didn’t “get” the professor. For example, much has been made of the fact that Prof. Gilmour’s third year seminar, Love, Sex, and Death in Modern Fiction, is an elective course, and a statement issued by the Victoria College administration essentially boiled down to “students know what they’re getting into when they sign up” and that they can opt out at any time. One wonders, however, how many students would rush to sign up for a course if they knew that they would be expected to write essays furnished with personal experiences on their romantic and sexual history–something that escapes mention in the official course description. Gilmour has a reputation for being a “provocative” and “challenging” educator, but with a penchant for crossing the line of propriety: as a former student of his wrote on the event page for a demonstration held Friday to protest Gilmour’s comments, “he used the shock factor as a teaching technique and was constantly offensive and upsetting in his assertions on women and sex in the texts he made us read (we had no choice to opt out of these or influence what he put on the syllabus).” Also, although the third-year seminar is voluntary, few have pointed out the fact that his first-year course is a requirement for any student in the Vic One Northrop Frye stream – for students who might feel offended or degraded, there is no option to simply “go down the hall” to a Advertisement
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different class. Even voicing a concern or complaint can be intimidating if you’re a first-year student, new to Vic and U of T, and your professor is a wellrespected Canadian author in a position of authority. Students shouldn’t have to put up with misogyny and victim-blaming in order to be challenged intellectually, and the idea that a professor being gratuitously offensive is somehow doing them a service is complete nonsense. If the purpose of an educator like David Gilmour is to make students uncomfortable and alienated because it’s for their own good, we need to ask: why? Why should students be made to endure damaging, sexist comments on a weekly basis if they want to learn about these works? Why, as former students have complained, should their grades depend on reproducing these sentiments in their own coursework? There are plenty of professors at U of T who manage to create an intellectually stimulating environment and teach students to stand up for their opinions without offending or disparaging them for kicks. It would be encouraging to see the Victoria College administration undertake some sort of corrective action, or even for prof. Gilmour to show a willingness to change, although neither seems very likely. Following the initial outcry over his comments, Gilmour apologized for people having taken offense (not, however, for actually making the offensive remarks in the first place) and bristled at the idea of his “impeccable” teaching credentials being questioned, but we feel that it’s important to keep making this point clear: students should not have to put up with being belittled and offended, and, incidentally, to have to pay a lot of money to do so. A former student of Gilmour’s put it perfectly: “What kind of message does it send to women in the Frye program – many of whom want to be novelists, professors, or academics themselves– when their professor believes women can’t write as well as men? What does it teach them when they’re being explicitly told that their professor doesn’t think women’s words or thoughts are worth teaching or taking seriously?” We hope that these are questions that Gilmour and his employers are asking of themselves.
A letter to the editors... Note to our readers: this year, The Strand has featured a column focused on sexual education relating to issues that pertain mainly to university students and other young people. Written from a sex-positive perspective, this column has sought to shed light on and provide alternatives to the ways in which sexuality is frequently repressed and distorted in mainstream discourse. However, we recognize that to focus on a generalized promotion of sexual activity necessarily tends towards an exclusionary approach to a complex set of issues. For example, although many people enjoy sex a great deal, there are also many who have little to no interest in it and frequently feel alienated by pervasive attitudes of “compulsory sexuality”. Similarly, under patriarchy, much of how we conceptualize and communicate sexualities and genders is often
invested with harmful essentialist and/or coercive narratives that can limit our ability to recognize and address the differential effects of structural power imbalances on groups of people whose gender and sexual identities differ from rigidly-policed norms. We are publishing the following letter to the editor, which correctly points out several issues that were overlooked in the last sex ed column, in the hopes that it will not only be informative to readers who might not otherwise be exposed to gender/sexuality issues, but also as a reminder to ourselves to be constantly self-critical in translating our politics to our jobs and lives. We apologize to anyone who felt hurt or excluded by our content and will strive to do better in the future.
Regarding cissexism and asexuality JADES SWADRON Hello, I’m messaging in to leave some thoughts on the article labelled “Cliteracy” on the back cover of the Tiff Issue of The Strand. Some of the ideas that I’ll bring up in response to the article may be easier to understand with some background knowledge in the LGBTQA areas of thought, and if there’s anything that you’d appreciate elaboration on, I’d be happy to oblige. With my relevant knowledge concerning the histories of sexual education and sexism, I very much agree that there is a strong connection between the two less-than-flattering truths regarding ignorance towards the clit, and historical and sociological depiction of women, especially in regards to their sexuality. But not all women have clits, and similarly, not all men have dicks. Some men have clits and some women have dicks- and much of the anatomy that accompanies either. Or sometimes, they have a combination of various gendered anatomies that defy the gender binary. So where the clitoris is concerned, many people, male and female, can use knowledge of it for their own personal pleasure, in a way that is not at all vicariously derived. The term “Female Orgasm” seems to obviously refer to the sexual anatomy of an individual, but it is important that when creating for a safe and positive space for trans* individuals, that we recognize that an orgasm for any female, regardless of what kind of genitals she has, to be female. This goes the same for males, even if they happen to possess a clitoris. I understand that it seems necessary to draw the connection between empowering the clitoris and empowering women, however, I believe that drawing that connection is not actually any more empowering for females at all. On the other hand, speaking frankly about the clitoris, regardless of the owner’s gender, helps women more unconditionally. The reproductive rights and the sexual literacy of those possessing clitorises is a matter of body autonomy, and in regards to those who would try to restrict it, their actions do tend to target women, but not just cis-gendered women. It’s easy to assume that, since the motives of people who are trying to restrict sexual knowledge and freedom are usually sexist and misogynistic against women, that the response should unconditionally be related to re-empowering females. However, this is a mistake, because even though a misogynist may restrict the sexual knowledge
of the clitoris because of their misogynist views, the people that this directly impacts are not all female. So when it comes to clitorises, fighting for everyone who has a clitoris, not just the females, makes much more sense. Aside from Trans issues, I would like to talk about the A in LGBTQA. There’s a misconception that this A refers to people who are allies of the community- however, this is incorrect. As allies, they do not experience the oppression, the restrictions of freedoms, or the consistent misrepresentation that people in the LGBTQA face. Asexual people, however, do experience very valid forms of sexual discrimination. While the full name of the acronym changes from time to time in order to be more inclusive, the most expansive one is currently QUILTBAG2 (Queer, Undecided, Intersex, Lesbian, Trans (gendered/sexual/vestite), Bisexual (or Pansexual), Asexual, Gay and Two Spirited). The reason I clarify all of this, is to point out that in queer politics, or at least in my very queer politics, I understand that asexual individuals receive unfair treatment from society based on their sexuality. A short explanation of the general consensus is that for asexual people, sex does not seem like an appealing thing. Some could be downright phobic of it, while some mays engage in sex if only to please their romantic partner. Some will still stimulate themselves biologically, or enjoy porn on their own; sometimes erotically, sometimes artistically. But the one thing that unifies them all is that to a degree, they identify themselves as being within the asexual spectrum. Sex lacks appeal to them enough for them to find asexuality a relevant part of their identity. Our society pushes a heavy emphasis on pairing up monogamously with others, and a large part of that emphasis is sexual. This push has traditionally been geared towards heterosexual relationships, but in recent times, a variety of homosexual and queer relationships have been introduced. Generally, the more similar that a queer relationship is to a monogamous, longterm, heterosexual relationship, the more acceptable society views it. For asexual people though, regardless of who they’re romantically attracted to, even if it’s primarily people of the opposite gender, there are many expectations of roles that they are supposed to fulfil, either to enter relationships or to perform certain tasks once in them. Often, some
or all of these expectations do not fit their sexual preferences- sometimes it’s not such a huge problem, but many other times, forcing an asexual person into being complacent with society’s expectations is comparable coercive consent, at best. Asexual people aren’t just in the closet, affected by a traumatic childhood or abuse, or any of the other things people have insinuated do to stereotype. Their orientation, of not being expected to participate in sexual activities is a valid one. And indeed, the relations that they do choose to value shouldn’t be considered any less quintessential ones that are sexual in nature. Many sex positive feminists have recognized that it is important to create a safe, non-judgemental place for women to be able to be confident, empowered and encouraged. So they have talked about how women should be encouraged to have sex, and how sex should be important to them. And while that has broadened the horizons of choice for many women, and changed how society views female sexuality, it leaves behind the people disinterested in sex. The goal of creating a safe and non-judgemental space for women expressing sexuality has tragically been twisted so far that now we have a need to make our spaces safe and non-judgemental for people who are not interested in having sex. This is especially important because the people reading the Miss Scarlet X column should not be made to feel uncomfortable about their own sexual choices and preferences by exclusionary writing. With all that being said, I think that it was a very well presented article in format, writing and content, and I am very glad that I am in a place that values accurate sexual education. I think it would be very possible to write a version of the Cliteracy article, just as effective as it currently is, without excluding any of the groups of people I mentioned. If you have any questions about the comments and critiques I have, I’d be happy to discuss any of them, and I hope that nothing I said sounded unfair. I also apologize if I did a poor job of representing what I had to say, because I find that it is sometimes difficult to introduce some of the concepts I brought up from scratch, while also talking about how they affect the situations at hand. Hopefully everything got onto the page in a way that makes sense.
Turn on your radio and hide
TARA MACTAVISH Welcome to Night Vale, the sleepy town that has captured the imaginations—and souls—of a generation. In a deser t community in the southwestern United States, a smooth voice f lows across town, delivering announcements, adver ts, and discussing current events. The ever yday monotony of small town life is broken by the existence of angels, murderous cults, and Lovecraftian nightmares. In the town known as Night Vale, community radio host Cecil Baldwin combines the mundane with the insane, capturing the imaginations of millions of listeners. To hear the show described by a fan is the best way to be initiated into the Welcome to Night Vale fan-base. Some consider it a Sims-inspired town created and subsequently abandoned by Alan Moore, Stephen King, and Neil Gaiman. Others say it’s the Twilight Zone meets NPR. The writing is a clever and humorous mix of the supernatural and the dramatic. The show’s official website simply encourages you “to turn on your radio and hide.” Years ago, in the days before Netf lix marathons and PVRs, before DVDs and VHS, before the television set became our world, there existed the magic of radio shows, programs that thrived on talented writers and the imaginations of their audiences. Shows like the action-packed Green Hornet, or the mysterious Thin Man. Many people remember the terror inspired by the broadcast War of the Worlds, which led some to believe life as we knew it had come to an end.
“A friendly desert community where the sun is hot, the moon is beautiful, and mysterious lights pass overhead while we all pretend to sleep” Welcome to Night Vale Episode 1 - Pilot Radio dramas have been around since the 1880s and gained popularity in the early 1920s. The BBC has continued to dominate this genre. With the dawn of the digital era, radio has faded to the background, par ticularly in Nor th America. Digital radio remains bound to the car, failing to enter the homes where televisions threaten to swallow entire walls and connect directly to our brains. Few people below the age of 40 remember that afternoon radio plays on the CBC still exist, and NPR jokes constantly about the age and temperament of its average audience. Yet thanks to the surprising force of the Internet, the podcast has emerged as a saving force for radio drama; drawing a younger, more passionate fan-base to shows like Welcome to Night Vale—a twicemonthly production which began airing in August 2012. The fascination with this imaginar y town has baff led many members of the online community who do not yet count themselves among its fans, as Welcome to Night Vale doesn’t air either on NPR or BBC radio 4. Its writers are relatively unknown, yet its melodious, faceless narrator has become an overnight celebrity.
Creators Joseph Fink and Jeffer y Cranor built this town to be what Fink describes as “a place where all conspiracy theories are real.” The two New York natives hired Cecil Baldwin— whom they had met through the theatre community—to be the voice of Night Vale, and music is provided by the band Disparition. Each episode features a guest band per forming what Cecil introduces as “the weather”. Fink admits that earlier episodes included bands he simply liked and wanted to suppor t. Due to growing popularity, the “waitlist” for a Night Vale weather program is enormous. The creators estimate they have enough material for over a year’s wor th of episodes.
“We report only the real, the semi-real, and the verifiably unreal” Welcome to Night Vale Episode 23 – Eternal Scouts Despite being almost a year old, the podcast’s fan following didn’t explode until July of this year. When its creators petitioned to have a Night Vale panel at New York City Comicon, it was rejected on the basis that it wasn’t popular enough. Now, only a few months later, the live recording of Welcome to Night Vale, which will happen independently from the convention, has sold out. In keeping with its nature, Night Vale crept quietly into the world, surprising ever yone when it emerged as the most downloaded podcast in July, beating out This American Life. The world rejected the mundane and believable for the bizzare and surreal, a juxtaposition that would no doubt please Nightvale’s residents.
“You are what you eat. Most of your arm is gone now. With hollow eyes, you start in on the oth er” Night Vale podcast @NightValeRadio
Tumblr has taken to Night Vale as it takes to ever y recent pop culture hit, but it is on Twitter where the writers of Nightvale shine: their tweets capture the atmosphere of the show per fectly in each 140 character post. (follow @nightvaleradio) While many listeners and fans of Night Vale constantly demand “official” descriptions of the main cast, Fink and Cranor remain adamant about their visual anonymity. Jeffer y Cranor has explained in an inter view: “My stepfather would listen to spor ts radio stations in the morning while taking me to school, and we’d listen to this host, and I remember thinking ‘oh, this is cool, I like listening about my spor ts teams and this is fun.’ And then one day I opened a newspaper and there was an ar ticle about him and it had a picture of him and I remember thinking ‘that’s really disappointing.’” Fink has also said the beauty of radio dramas is that they are “the theatre of the mind.” Despite its lack of official visuals, Night Vale’s fanbase is committed to dishing out beautiful character designs and paintings of ever y minute detail Cecil provides on air. As a result even Deser t Bluffs, a rival town mentioned brief ly in a handful of episodes, has been mapped out and built by passionate fans. “Fanscripts” have also been created by fans that have meticulously written out entire episodes, quoting and rereading them ad nauseum.
“Your existence is not impossible, but it’s also not very likely” Welcome to Night Vale Episode 16 – The Phone Call The genre lends itself to the content spectacularly: helicoptors belonging to shadow y government organizations can circle constantly overhead, wheat by-products can terrorize the town and a mysterious glow cloud can drop animal carcasses ever ywhere. The imager y of Night Vale is only as strong and chilling as you allow your mind to make it. Goodnight, Night Vale. Goodnight.
Living on the Ed’s:
A Toronto landmark soon laid to rest ANTHONY BURTON Honest Ed Mirvish’s discount utopia will be shutting its doors once Ed’s grandson and owner of the property, David Mirvish, sells the Bloor and Bathurst icon for a reported $100 million asking price. Rumours abound as to why the store is on the chopping block, from the proposed (and quickly put on hold) Wal-Mart blocks south, to David Mirvish’s desire to build a condominium on the land. If you’re anything of a purist (or cheapskate) like me, the decision to close Toronto’s ubiquitous source of holographic religious paraphernalia hits close to the heart, and seems to be a redux of the saga of Sam the Record Man closing its doors in 2007. In Sam’s case, HMV moved next door and Ryerson came swooping in with an empty promise to preserve the spinning records that adorned many a Toronto tourist brochure. In both flagship stores, the issue of preservation is a cultural one. Where these situations differ is in the person deciding the fate of these classic Toronto landmarks. Sam the Record Man simply needed a buyer, so they were at the mercy of whoever had the biggest pockets. Having David Mirvish in charge of the sale of the iconic Honest Ed’s property bodes well for the sustenance of unique Toronto landmarks that the discount store was a staple of. This man who pushed, and succeeded, in getting esteemed architect Frank Gehry to agree to build an ambitious condominium project on King West. His interests are not just in the acquisition of capital, but also in improv-
ing the culture of this city. The Royal Alexandria, Princess of Wales, Ed Mirvish, and Panasonic theatres are all under his management, and he earned his stripes running a gallery containing the works of American abstract painters from the 1960s and 1970s. When put in charge of the Royal Alexandria, he transformed it from a roadhouse theatre to a renowned home for original plays by his production company, Mirvish Productions. He has the ambition of a boy whose father turned a box of oranges into a warehouse store, without the inconvenience of actually having to sell oranges. It’s Mirvish’s business know-how and his work in developing and advocating for Toronto’s standing as a city of culture that will ensure his proper handling of the iconic Honest Ed’s plot. Having built his own business portfolio on the backs of artistically significant ventures, the man clearly shares his father’s enthusiasm for entertaining the people. To think that David Mirvish will not honour his father’s legacy by popping in a cookie cutter condo on the block is to do him a disservice. The store itself, an eclectic collection of anything and everything, has been and always will be an important part of Toronto’s history. It’s important to preserve our city’s culture and idiosyncrasies, and that is at the core of the issues raised by the razing of Honest Ed’s. However, David Mirvish’s contributions to Toronto arts and entertainment is evidence enough that the block of Bloor and Markham is in good hands, even if $2.99 for an espresso machine will soon be $2.99 for an espresso to go.
THE GHOSTS OF DOCTOR SLEEP There’s really only one thing you need to know about Stephen King’s newest novel, Doctor Sleep: you’ll never see it coming. Part of the reason for this is the misleading publisher’s blurb. The other is that Doctor Sleep is not a stand-alone novel (though it’s certainly strong enough to be read as one): it is a sequel to The Shining, one of the scariest novels King has ever written. Just as a refresher, The Shining chronicled the Torrance family’s misadventures as caretakers of the haunted Overlook Hotel, largely through the perspective of Jack Torrance. His son, Danny, has the titular “shining”—a type of psychic power that the spirits of the Hotel love to prey upon. That novel was written 36 years ago, and by a different man. The man who wrote Doctor Sleep has grown older just as Danny Torrance, the protagonist of Doctor Sleep, has. Still, even after all that time, King has not lost the ability to surprise: he gleefully subverts the convention of sequel escalation, leaving his audience with a spine-tingling character story instead of a violent thriller. This change is probably for the better: horror sequels tend to lapse into ridiculousness and self-parody. As King states in the Author’s Note, “[N]othing can live up to the memory of a good scare, and I mean nothing.” Consequently, Doctor Sleep relies on barely subdued terror and horror in the vein of Algernon Blackwood. The Shining still haunts the text of Doctor Sleep, but only in a way that makes it meaningful for
Danny’s development. Like his dearly deceased dad, Daniel Anthony Torrance struggles with alcoholism. Unlike his dad, however, Danny knows he can’t deal with this problem alone. By eventually conquering his addiction and the horrors he remembers from his childhood, Danny takes on the persona of “Doctor Sleep”—an unofficial doctor who helps terminal patients “cycle” (King’s term) out of this existence and into the next. Connotations of euthanasia aside, things get eerier when Abra Stone, a girl with a shining power that far surpasses
Danny’s own, is born. She unintentionally attracts the attention of the True Knot, a group of psychics that feast on the essence—what they refer to as “steam”—of little girls and boys, in order to stay young and healthy. The best “steam,” of course, comes from torturing their victims to death. The narrative structure and thematic elements of Doctor Sleep are more complex than those of its predecessor: it’s chief concerns are the circularity of history, the struggles of addiction, and the pain of letting go of the past. It’s also one King’s best stylistic novels, good enough to rival the beauty in Bag of Bones. However, Doctor Sleep is not a perfect book. The villains are intentionally past their prime; thus the “pure” horror junkies that get off on extravagant scares will probably not enjoy this book. Indeed, Doctor Sleep’s most memorable moments are character interactions and images—not the breed of horror that The Shining is famous for. But the overall atmosphere—eeriness, phantasms, unresolved tension, and a little suspense—help us to keep turning the page. Although we know that King can scare us in graphic and disturbing ways, he chooses not to. Why not? The Shining is the wild drunken party. Doctor Sleep is the morning after. The former is more expansive and frightening; the latter is more personal and profound. Doctor Sleep seems to be about the more terrifying monsters of real life: disappointment, death, and perhaps worse, decay. After all, it’s set in a world where even the deathless die, where time marches on and on, and where the real monsters aren’t necessarily just the child killers.
Toronto Palestine Film Festival raises cultural consciousness CATRIONA SPAVEN-DONN At university, and especially at a liberal arts institution like Vic, we often question the “purpose” of art. Why do we study literature, film, or visual art? Frustrated, we might argue that these fields have merit in themselves, without gearing us towards the workplace or teaching us equations. But if we look around, at our community here in Toronto and also at the wider world, how can we possibly wonder about the function of art? Art is everywhere. Be it graffiti down an alley or a musician on a street corner, art narrates the everyday world we live in. And more than that, art can propel this world forwards; art can spark social change. In a place like Toronto, we can’t justify hiding in the library and using our course load as an excuse for not getting out to see what the city’s diverse arts and culture scene has to offer. Students have an obligation to themselves to see beyond the academic bubble and to live some of the ideas they fervently scribble down in lectures. Over the next week, the Toronto Palestine Film Festival offers the local community an insight into global issues through film and media. As their website explains, “the Toronto Palestine Film Festival (TPFF) is a volunteer-run, non-profit organization dedicated to bringing Palestinian cinema, music,
cuisine, and art to GTA audiences.” And so art not only bridges geographical distance and brings other cultures to our doorsteps, it also educates us on places perhaps unknown. TPFF is showcasing a variety of feature-length and short films that present Palestine as a space of cultural diversity while alos documenting its political upheaval. On Monday, Picasso in Palestine, a documentary which explores the response to art in different social contexts, is showing at the AGO. In realizing this project, Khaled Hourani—the founder and Arts Director of the Ramallah-based International Academy of Art Palestine—brought the first ever original Picasso piece to Palestine. This screening will be accompanied by two short films called Waiting for P. O Box and Elvis of Nazareth: both are meditations on the experiences of performing and producing art in the Middle East. TPFF then not only allows us to see this part of the world through the camera lens, it also takes the idea of art in everyday life as its message. On Oct. 3rd, Emily Jacir will be discussing her conceptual art at OCAD in a special TPFF talk entitled “Art Creates Change.” Through a variety of media including photography and installation, she presents the experiences of Palestinians living under Israeli occupation in Gaza and the West Bank. As one
journalist put it, she perfectly combines “the poetic and the political within a single piece.” The Festival will also launch its Annual Art Show on Sept. 30th, on display in the Jackman Hall at the AGO until Oct. 3rd. The Art Show, entitled “With Love From Palestine,” presents Palestinian perspectives from artists working within Palestine but also from those living in Canada. As Volunteer Coordinator and Arts Show Coordinator Reem Farah says, “[the Art Show] is about allowing Palestinians to be heard, acknowledged, and appreciated in the wider world.” She explains that this is an opportunity for Palestinians and the Palestinian diaspora to present their stories, to capture everyday reality, to bridge the gap between politics and art. In highlighting why art is crucial in explaining conflict, Farah says, “We can talk all we want, but people . . . can refuse to listen.” At the Toronto Palestine Film Festival art plays a purpose, it lays bare the stories of real people in real places. So for our own sake, it’s up to us to keep our eyes and ears open—there’s much learning to be done outside the classroom. The Toronto Palestine Film Festival runs in various locations from September 28th – October 4th 2013.
The evolution of the Arctic Monkeys
ANDREA INGLES Over the last decade, the Arctic Monkeys have evolved significantly. The band recently released their fifth studio album AM; the record boasts 90’s hip-hop, 70’s rock and roll, and a bit of the 50’s all rolled into one. NME magazine has given the album a 10/10 and claims that this is perhaps the best album of the band’s career. Despite the greatness of AM I disagree with this verdict. I find that Humbug, their third album, has more sincerity in its melodies, and features lyricism that is among Alex Turner’s best. I love the fragmentation it evinces and all of the different stories told on the record, as opposed to the more cohesive AM. The Humbug era marked the beginning of the band’s collaboration with Josh Homme; their sound maintained its foundations but gained a bubbly charm. Two albums later, AM is more upfront, professional, and sinister in sound. With every album release the band has become more confident and comfortable with their shows and their music. AM is concise in its topics, focusing on themes such as the constant sexual frustration of the girl who plays it cool. The album evokes a nighttime feel right from the start of “Do I Wanna Know?”, with a dirty guitar melody and foot-stomping drums underlining Turner’s desire for his relationship to succeed.
The album continues with sexy tunes meant to woo the listener, as opposed to the more bashful and imaginative tales that distinguished Turner’s past lyrics. Working in the same vein as “Do I Wanna Know?” the band delivers “R U Mine”, Arabella”, “Knee Socks”, and the cheeky “Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High?”, with a naughty bassline and hip hop drums. To further differentiate this album from those previously produced, Matt Helders and bassist Nick O’Malley enhance Turner’s baritone with their own falsetto accompaniment. Although AM delivers saucy hits, the Arctic Monkeys still deliver tracks reminiscent of Humbug and Suck It and See with selfreflective ballads like “No.1 Party Anthem” and “Mad Sounds.” Another song to look out for is “Fireside.” The band completes their narrative with “I Wanna Be Yours,” a poem originally written by the punk poet John Cooper Clarke. Turner, however, adds a few lines of his own: “Secrets I have held in my heart/are harder to hide than I thought/Maybe I just wanna be yours.” This effectively answers the question posed in the first track “Do I Wanna Know?”, since the singer blatantly states that he desires the devotion of one lady. AM will have you shimmying about and wanting more. Go on a late night walk, listen to the album on high volume, and be seduced.
2005 Arctic Monkeys’ British Invasion begins with “I Bet You Look Good on the Dance Floor”
2013 2010 Lead singer Alex Turner takes the solo route to record the soundtrack to the film Submarine
Arctic Monkeys’ latest album AM is released to critical acclaim
In the name of Drake ANTHONY BURTON
On Thursday, Toronto’s very own Drake opened a ‘pop-up’ shop at Stussy’s Queen and Ossington flagship store. His new album, Nothing Was The Same, leaked to the world earlier this week and officially drops September 24th. In the interest of the free swag offered and my fandom for October’s Very Own, I trekked out to the Stussy store in overcast weather with a friend. We arrived about a half hour before the scheduled 1 PM opening time to a line stretching about two major blocks north and four times as long as you would expect considering the album had yet to be legally released and nobody had had the chance to hear it! Love him or hate him, Drake’s ever-strengthening grip on post-‘808’s emotive rap has put Toronto on the map musically, especially since he seems to have shed his “ATL-boy-at-heart” ruse and started to rep the 416 more often in his music. On first listen, Nothing Was The Same comes across as an extended chest puff, and he reiterates this toughness through a flow and veracity improved enough that he may have managed to graduate from being the rap game’s sensitive little brother. Whereas previous Drake outings seem like a recorded struggle between his desire to be the tough top dog and the Nicest Guy In The World, on NWTS the repeated bouncing back and forth seems like less of an identity crisis and more of an embracement of both sides. It takes a nuanced understanding of one’s own emotional range to sequence your album so that five minutes after listeners hear the toughest verses you’ve ever dropped (“Worst Behaviour”) they’re subjected to a sensual RnB masterpiece (“Hold On We’re Going Home”, featuring guest vocals from Victoria College’s own Majid Jordan — dream big, kids). Off the bat, Drake comes across as an intelligent guy, but playing these sorts of games with your own sequencing shows a pretty high level of self-awareness. An hour had passed in line and we had moved about ten feet forward. Idle chatter about whether there would be enough t-shirts to turn the streets of Toronto into a walking OVOfest, and falsely chipper twentysomethings limp-wristedly giving away Red Bulls occupied our time. All the time I’ve spent trying to convince myself “Marvin’s Room” is, like, totally something I identify with and all the times I’ve drunkenly chanted how much I’m “lovin’ the crew” was about to pay off in the form of a black t-shirt. In the meantime, though, a representative from Quaker would like me to try their new quinoa snack bar. Somewhere here there’s a good metaphor for Drake’s Top 40 success and his concurrent respect amongst the indie crowd. As one of the few stars today who can bridge what usually feels like an infinite gap, he’s afforded a certain special level of leeway to do what he pleases. However,
it’s not just a matter of happenstance that causes this — the man has earned this spot in the middle of music’s venn diagram. Drake’s rapping abilities are good, but not great. His singing abilities are good, but not great. His recipe for success is that he’s skilled in both, which creates an end product unique in that that both me and my mother can agree on putting Drake on in the car. The key strength of NWTS is his improved ability in both these fields, and producer/sidekick Noah “40” Shebib has not only mastered the right sort of beat to work with Drake’s sometimes-choppy flow, but has managed to nail a distinct style that works both with Drake’s persona and carves out a dreamy Xanax-fueled niche for OVO Crew. Nowhere is this more evident on the album’s standout track, “Pound Cake/Paris Morton Music 2”. The song itself may be the best yardstick to see how far Aubrey Graham has come since the days of “Best I Ever Had”, the first half being a beat that makes you feel like you’re floating on top of the very clouds that are behind Drake’s head on the album’s cover. He backs right into the beat and almost sits down on it like a couch, bragging so easily about being the best in the game that you expect him to have one hand on the mic and the other knuckle deep in a bag of Doritos. The difference between this boast and boasts of his past is that for the first time, you can’t hear him aiming it in any direction — even with Rap Game Bruce Springsteen, aka Jay Z, featured on the track. Hov’s output of late has been mediocre at best, but the contrast of Drake’s easy and breezy bar slinging versus Jay Z’s senile recycling of lines and rhymes on the track just serve to remind everyone that damn, Drake might have actually climbed to the top without us realising. In true Drizzy fashion, the second part of the song is named after a former flame that is presumably one of the many women to have changed his life forever. Moving into the second part, the beat switches up into something that sounds like he just beat the final boss in a video game. This more active snare-driven part gets Drake up off the couch, but he stays just as boastful while confidently prophesising on life and women as he is wont to do. Drake’s improved rapping ability means he manages to pack more lyricism into each track, as he’s not taking a meditative pause between every bar. After the coda-like “Come Thru”, the album closes with a posse track featuring celebrity chef 2 Chainz and that kid who lives a couple of doors down that just won’t go away, Big Sean. “All Me” is the sort of song that only comes around once a year or so; Drake’s “Mercy” if you will. It’s the sort of song you immediately want to know all the words to, chock full of enough killer couplets that you can’t pick just one favourite. While both guest verses are solid contributions, with 2 Chainz keeping his formula simple and Big Sean jumping in with a schizoid verse chock full of clever meta-
phors, our protagonist shines the brightest as he seems to have saved his best wordplay for the end. “I touched down in ’86/Knew I was the man by the age of 6/Even fucked the girl who used to babysit” impresses any teenage boy who once had a babysitter more than any amount of cocaine, strippers or money could inspire, and when he claims he’s “on a roll like Cottonelle/I was made for all this shit”, you implicitly have permission to lose your shit. The audacity required to compare yourself to soft toilet paper when you have the reputation that Drake does makes dropping that self-aware bombshell at the very end of the album the equivalent of the most impressive of mic drops. Drake’s entire career has been marred by his dual tough/sensitive persona, but the first time you finally take off your headphones after listening, you’re reconsidering his role as rap game Garnier Fructis. Drake’s telling us yes, it is possible to be tough and sensitive all at once, and we’re all kicking ourselves because for the first time it seems pretty obvious. We finally got to the block with the Stussy building on it. Yet another person was walking up the street in one of the free t-shirts, and he seemed to be yelling something. 400 people left in line. 50 t-shirts left inside. “But we’re so close!” Everyone then took a look ahead and realised that no, we weren’t that close, and there are still hundreds of people in line in front of us. My hopes of being a walking billboard for Drake were dashed. Torn up. Sad, depressed, distraught. As I left, I did the only thing I know to do when I’m feeling overly emotional; I needed to connect to someone else who could understand what I’m feeling. Now playing: Just Hold On, We’re Going Home – Drake.
The Junction Festival:
Exploring a new and booming Toronto CLARRIE FEINSTEIN At the intersection of Keele and Dundas West there lies a cool part of town—“The Junction”—that over the past few years has become a great cultural hub. Dozens of vintage and antique stores, bars, pubs, and late night take-out hideouts litter the streets. Every year, The Junction hosts a music festival that features local artists performing indoors in local bars and restaurants as well as out of doors. This year, over 20 artists performed throughout the entire day, in genres ranging from indie to jazz to Latin. No matter your taste, there was a performance to cater to it. Along the Dundas Street strip, a restaurant called “La Revolution” hosted a performing Mariachi band. You could sit down and order food while listening to the music, or you could pop in for a minute, enjoy a song or two, and move on. In a large parking lot filled with people, Torontobased band Zeus performed to an ardent fan-base. Zeus is an up-and-coming Canadian band; their debut album “Say Us” (2010) was nominated for the Polaris Prize. Further down the street, folk artist Annabelle Chvostek performed a set. Chvostek was part of the avantgarde art scene in Montreal and has since released critically acclaimed folk records. The festival also included a “real life” garage band, where people could participate and play various instruments, and could also choose a song on a projector and play music together. One popu-
lar choice was “Starman” by David Bowie, to which the gathered crowd was singing along. Local bar “3030” had a DJ, a dance floor, a restaurant area, and many vintage pinball machines. It provided a great way to get out of the cold and experience a lively venue. Throughout these dispersed performances, food stands were set out and vintage stores were open, with DJs playing records all along the street. The music was booming. The Junction festival was a wonderful way to experience the city in a fresh way. It was in a historic neighborhood that is being revitalized by the next generation. The event was more low-key than expected, as advertising for the event was sparse. However, it has the potential to become something of a Torontonian trademark. Finally, like Montreal, Toronto is expressing itself in a diverse way. Events like this music fest are no longer an anomaly. This is an exciting time for Toronto, which is constantly evolving and transforming. Festivals like this are a great way not only to enjoy the city, but also to support local musicians and spaces. To be involved in one’s city is a rewarding experience. The more artistic venues Toronto produces, the more enjoyable it is for its inhabitants. The Junction fest is a perfect time to enjoy the food, enjoy the city, and most of all, enjoy the music that Toronto has to offer.
Denis serves harsh reality on a platter ARTHI VENKAT Sticking to what she does best, Claire Denis delivers yet another eerily realistic drama. The name of the film represents each of the characters, who, in different ways, are “bastards” themselves. Though they constitute a mixture of disrespectful and miserably pathetic people, by the end, the viewer identifies with their emotions and wants to understand and to justify their actions. Bastards opens in a rainy Paris with a man who has killed himself, a naked woman walking along the road, and a man named Marco (Vincent Lyndon) working on a ship container in the midst of a family emergency. At the outset there is no way to figure out any particular connection between their circumstances. The fim proceeds in this manner, skipping between different shots. Denis leaves it to the viewer to figure out how one is related to the other. At times, the subtlety of these connections is suspenseful and charming. Complete ambiguity, however, can be exhausting, especially when the film progresses without the chance to pose questions and receive answers. Marco is eventually called back by his sister, Sandra (Julie Bataille), because of her husband’s suicide and her daughter Justine’s (Lola Creton) rape and sexual abuse. Marco moves into a new apartment and meets Raphaelle (Chiara Mastroianni), a single mother who also happens to be the mistress of Eduardo Laporte (Michel Subor). If we are sure of anything in the beginning, it’s that Laporte has loaned money to Sandra’s family business and that he
is the reason for her husband’s death and her daughter’s condition. As the story gradually unfolds we see every character tune in to their negative energy—each one showing us how ruthless they can be. Even Marco, who seemed to be the most innocent of them all, reveals his share of problems. To some extent the film ties up the leftover strings at the end, but the audience still leaves the theatre without fully understanding what has occured. The movie had an extremely dark undertone, utilizing suspicious dialogue, shady deserted areas, and unusual relationships. The visual choreography is often intense enough to inspire disgust and even fear. The film tastefully portrays the circumstances of the characters and the plot. Lyndon and Mastroianni’s fantastic acting proves makes it clear which emotions Denis has intended to convey. Their performances add to the general sadness and gloom. Claire Denis’s filmography specializes in mystery and intensity which is effectively portrayed through her bold cinematography, soundtracks, and dialogue. Her characters and films represent the brutality of our existence. She can transport the viewer to a hidden and dark place within their conscience, blatantly portraying the deepest of fears and desires. Whether it’s an investigative film or a musical comedy, Denis underpins all her films with a strange complicity between people, things, and even time. The film serves harsh reality to you on a platter, and you can either completely detest it or absolutely love it.
HPV VACCINE If you’ve ever been prescribed birth control or had a pap smear, you’ve been through the drill: “Are you sexually active? How many partners do you have? Do you have a history of blood clotting?” And usually at the end, they ask, “have you gotten the HPV vaccination?” Now, as you can probably guess, I take sexual health very seriously, and I know that the safety and health of me and my partner is number one. Despite all that, I tend to get busy with life and neglect things – important things – that I really shouldn’t. Which explains why I avoid eye contact and look down shamefully and say “Um, I’m planning to, really soon.” And I really am! In fact, I really was, until last week in a discussion on sexual health a girl was quick to jump on how the vaccination was a conspiracy by pharmaceutical companies to make a quick buck and that it actually has deadly side effects. Now, as much as I appreciate underground activism and pharmaceutical sales reps, I felt that there may be something behind this vaccine controversy. So I decided to do my own research—and I learned that
when matters of sex are concerned, there is no such thing as unbiased information. First off, HPV (human papallimao virus) is a sexually transmitted infection that can affect males or females and remain symptomless. It’s been linked to cervical cancer (among others), and studies have shown that at least 50% of sexually active people have it at any one time. Gardasil, the vaccine approved in Canada for females and males aged 9-26, involves three shots and has been shown to protect against 4 strains of HPV: two of which cause 75% of cervical cancer cases, and two that cause 90% of genital warts cases. So why the controversy? Since sex is such a sensitive topic, a lot of parents are hesitant in thinking about their children. Some even believe that giving their children the birth control vaccine will encourage them to be promiscuous—both of which have been proven completely false by scientific studies. Michelle Bachmann made the anti-vaccine position popular after she cited a falsified study and anecdotal evidence that claimed vaccines caused
autism; something that has caused serious impact among misinformed families. Diseases that have been essentially eradicated since the mandate of vaccines have risen dramatically—whooping cough has increased 1300%, measles is the highest it’s been in 17 years, and outbreaks of mumps are exponential. As far as the HPV vaccination goes, safety concerns have quadrupled in only a few years, and 40% of parents have decided to not vaccinate their child. Although the long-term effects have yet to be fully documented, out of the 30 million vaccinated, there has been 19,000 cases of adverse reaction: most of which were classified non-serious—the worst of which include headaches, fainting, a sore arm, and dizziness (also common after other vaccinations). Minimal allergies to the vaccines have occurred, and when they have, they’re easily treated and the patient endures no long term consequences. There has not been a single recorded case of death or, as Bachmann claims, cognitive impairment. The FDA, CDC, American Academy of Pediatrics, Advisory Com-
mittee on Immunization Practices, American College of Obstetrics and Genecology, Planned Parenthood, and Public Health Canada all approved the vaccine and urge people to get it. Why such widespread skepticism? The media, internet, and public figures hold prominent positions on how Canadian families get their information. Unfortunately, along with that information, misinformation is also spread. After reading more about the issue, I’ve decided that come Monday morning, I’m going straight to the UofT health centre to get my HPV vaccination. - Scarlet X
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ANTHONY GOERTZ • THE GATEWAY (UNIVERSITY OF ALBERTA)
DAVID GILMOUR ACCIDENTALLY READS BOOK BY WOMAN AUTHOR
Victoria College lecturer David Gilmour was recently reported to have read a novel written by a woman. Having mistaken George Eliot for a “real guy guy”, Gilmour was apparently stunned to find a portrait and biography of the author on the dust jacket of Silas Marner indicating that Eliot was, in fact, the pen name of female writer Mary Anne. “It totally blew his mind,” according to one first-year student. “He just kept touching the photo as if it would magically change into, like, a grizzled old man. Like Hemingway or something.” Asked for comment on this turn of events, Gilmour replied: “It turns out that Mary Anne’s writing actually resembles that of the serious heterosexual guys that I’m passionate about, like Proust – in fact, I could almost take her seriously as an author. I’m even given to understand that there
are other women out there writing with some degree of competence, and that some of them even use their real names”. He went on to comment that “although of course I could never teach their work because I can only be passionate about a handful of books, like Chekhov, the coolest guy in literature, I plan on letting some of my colleagues down the hall know about the existence of these female writers”. However, Gilmour did lament the disappointing lack of menstrual-pad-eating and other content with the potential to shock first-years out of their pants – “there’s just nothing for me to relate to on a personal level.” An Indigo employee later reported that Gilmour had wandered in and expressed indignation that the Chinese literature section did not, in fact, consist solely of copies of A Fine Night To Go To China.
Having later served Gilmour at the cash register, said employee also pointed out Gilmour’s enthusiasm as he purchased The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith. Remarking on the rave reviews he heard the book had been getting, Gilmour lamented that “there are just not many writers out there who can offer what the past greats like Dan Brown have done for the mystery genre,” admonishing that “[It] takes a certain kind of man with a proper understanding of wit, logic, nuance and dexterity to craft a properly-engaging and thrilling mystery novel”. It was unclear as to whether Gilmour had watched the Da Vinci Code movie or not. Gilmour’s final autobiographical memoir is to be titled, ‘A Perfect Night to Move to Cuba’, an homage to the ultimate guy’s-guy Ernest Hemingway who, incidentally, also really ‘loved’ women.
GOODNIGHT, MR. WHITE
PAULA RAZURI EDITOR-IN-CHIEF
In a small wood shack There lived a meth kingpin With a strange black hat And a barrel of cash. He once lived with his family, but got sick and he knew he had limited time, so he decided to Team up with young Jesse and make meth that was blue. There was a lab used to cook And an RV in a nook. There was an angrily thrown pizza on the roof.
Good night, Mike. Good night, Fring. Good night, Badger, Pete, and deep-fried chicken. Good night, Huell. Good night, Saul. Good night, Walt’s monitored telephone call. Good night, Hank. Good night, Marie. Good night, Lydia and chamomille tea. Good night, Skylar. Good night, Flynn. Good night, mysterious vial of ricin. Good night, Uncle Jack. Goodnight, creepy Todd. Good night, A1 and your limitless fraud. Good night, Jesse Pinkman, so morally right. Good night at long last, Heseinberg, Mr. White.