CIUT is for the children!

Fourteen-year-old Michael DJs alongside Patrick Roots and Devon Wright during CIUT’s Reggae Riddims on Wednesday night. The radio station is currently halfway through their fundraising drive.

The good old hockey game

It has been a long time since Varsity Arena played host to an event that has attracted a large, excited audience. But on Nov. 10, the place will come alive as the University of Toronto Campus Police prepare to face off against a star-studded line-up of former NHLers and Hockey Hall of Famers in a battle that will rival any Toronto Maple Leafs game.

The difference is that tickets are only $10, and with the proceeds benefiting charity, everybody wins.

Organizers Special Constable John Sinclair and team captain Sean Tompa sat down with The Varsity leading up to this action-packed evening.

The Varsity: The University of Toronto Campus Police has done various charity events in previous years. But this is the first year you will be holding a charity hockey game.

John Sinclair: We chose hockey because we thought it would be something that would involve students, faculty, and staff and be an event that would be suited towards everybody. We also knew that the kids from Variety Village, the group that we are benefitting, would also be interested in coming to an event like this. It has a broad appeal. And when people hear the talent that we have—Glenn Anderson, Dale Hawerchuk, Michel Goulet, Borje Salming, Steve Shutt—people get excited.

Sean Tompa: John [Sinclair] and I were the ones who came up with the idea. We grew up playing hockey, but with our shift work we are not able to play or coach hockey as much as we would like to. So we sat down and decided that we want to make it as big as possible.

TV: Tell us a bit about Variety Village and how you hope to benefit them through this occasion.

JS: Variety Village is a special needs charity in Scarborough. They benefit children of special needs so that they can be included in sports. It’s extremely inclusive, and we saw a synergy between the University of Toronto Athletics Department and people interested in sport, and helping an athletic facility geared to people of all abilities.

TV: What can the audience expect to experience at the event?
JS: It’s a show. There will be pyrotechnics, there will be music. It’s being hosted and refereed by Rod Black, who is a host on TSN. And a world-class figure-skating team will be coming in and performing during the intermissions. There is also an afterparty with tonnes of NHL swag at the Duke of York that is included with the price of admission. To go to a hockey game with an afterparty for $10, you can’t beat it.

TV: How were you able to get hockey legends such as six-time Stanley Cup winner Glenn Anderson and 500-goal-scorer Dale Hawerchuk, to name a few, involved for this event?

JS: These guys are all in town due to Hockey Hall of Fame inductions that week. So when we contacted them through Old Timer’s Hockey, we were able to negotiate some extremely talented players and bring them to our campus for the purpose of a charity event.

ST: It’s definitely a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for me to play with some of these really talented players. Realizing that I will be on the ice with guys who were legends in my mind, it’s pretty exciting.

TV: How has Campus Police prepared for such challenging and gifted opponents?

JS: We wanted to put the best team possible on the ice, because the better we are, the better the NHLers are going to look against us. So we thought where better to find hockey talent than within the Varsity Blues and intramural sports at the university. So we have two representatives from the Varsity Blues, both from the female team. We also have two players from St. Michael’s College, a player from the engineering faculty as well as a student from the pharmacy department. We may also have another team of ringers come in and help us out. And they may be five years old. Hopefully with the support of Timbits hockey, they’ll put some pucks in the net too.

ST: It’s all for charity, so we just want to do our best. It’s all about the players, it’s all about the Hockey Hall of Famers, it’s all about the former NHLers coming out and doing this for charity. So hopefully we can make everyone happy and put up a good fight.

JS: The real winner in this is going to be Variety Village and also the University of Toronto to be able to host this kind of event.

*Tickets to the event are available at the Campus Police office located at 21 Sussex Ave., or online at Ticket Break (ticketbreak.com). Over a thousand tickets have been sold already and more are being distributed every day. *

Fantastic four

On a windy Saturday afternoon, the Blues blew their opponent away.

Three second-half goals brought the Varsity Blues to a 4-0 win over the Laurentian Voyageurs at Varsity Stadium, sending the Blues to the Ontario University Athletics final four in men’s soccer.

While the Blues led by the slimmest of margins at the half, Toronto head coach Anthony Capotosto thought his team wasn’t performing up to their capabilities.

“I thought at the beginning of the game there was a little bit of the jitters because we have a newer team this year,” said Capotosto.

“Everyone was a bit nervous,” said Blues midfielder Geoff Borgmann. “But towards the end of the first half everyone calmed down and we were able to play our game and that’s when we really took over.”

Laurentian had the opening chance in the 16th minute when Blues defender Federico Vaccaro headed the ball behind him into empty space. Laurentian striker Derek Lubertino ran to the ball and blasted the shot over the net from 20 yards out.

Toronto wasted an opportunity in the 18th minute when Alex Raphael found himself in space, after taking a through ball from Gabe Gala. From 10 yards out he fanned on the shot and the ball rolled harmlessly into the hands of Laurentian keeper Scott Cliff.

Tempers boiled over in the 26th minute when Gala and defender Roger Teves were both awarded yellow cards for pushing and shoving. Last year, Gala had a hand in two goals in a playoff win against Laurentian. Because of that, Teves played Gala very aggressively in the opening minutes. Gala appeared frustrated as he and Teves exchanged words and started shoving long after the ball had bounced out of touch.

In the 29th minute, Toronto missed again when Raphael beat the offside trap and raced in alone on Cliff. The keeper made the save but the ball bounced to Nordo Gooden who shot the ball over the net from five yards out.

“[The ball] was bouncing and I was on my weaker foot,” said Gooden. “There is no excuse, I should have had it.”

Gooden made up for his miscue seven minutes later when he got the Blues on the board with a 20-yard strike that just eluded the outstretched right arm of a diving Cliff.

“The defenders gave me enough time on the ball,” said Gooden. “I had time to control it, set it up, and put it on my left [foot] and shoot it. The goalie got a touch but it went in the bottom corner.”

Toronto keeper John Smits kept the game even with six minutes left in the half. Voyageurs defender James Bond hit a spot kick that was labelled for the top left corner but Smits dove to his left and pushed the ball over the bar.

“[Smits] has been steady all year,” Capotosto said. “In my opinion, he’s the top goalie in the league.”

“That was a big save,” said Gooden. “It would have been heartbreaking giving up our lead going into halftime and the momentum would have swung to them.”

In the second half, Gala seemed to get more room for himself. He made a lot more happen, including scoring to make it 2-0 in the second minute. Cliff raced off his line to get a loose ball but Gala raced in and got his toe on it and the ball bounced into the empty net.

Geoff Borgmann scored two consecutive goals to book a ticket into the final four against the visiting Western Mustangs next weekend.

He cashed in a rebound in the ninth minute and headed the ball home on a set piece in the 16th minute.

The Blues defence held the rest of the way, limiting the Voyageurs to one shot and a couple of set pieces for the remainder of the half.

“That is the type of team that can hurt us on set pieces,” said Capotosto. “We were prepared to deal with that and I thought our back line did a tremendous job dealing with the run of play.”

Home sweep home

The Guelph Gryphons were in town Friday night to take on the men’s and women’s Varsity Blues volleyball teams in a doubleheader at the Athletic Centre.

After dropping their first two matches on the road, the Varsity men (0-3) were looking for their first win of the year, while the ladies were looking to stay perfect with a third-straight victory.

That it was the night before Halloween may have explained the paranormal activity the home crowd witnessed, as the Gryphons pulled out their best witch brooms and easily swept the Blues away in their respective home openers.

In the first game, the men looked to continue their dominance over a Gryphons team they absolutely manhandled last season, winning 3-1 and 3-0. But that was last year.

Refusing to give up any easy points all night, the Gryphons defence seemed impenetrable at times—they never trailed once in the match, and took it in straight sets (25-19, 25-17, 25-16).

No matter what the Blues threw at them, the Gryphons always had an answer: consistently getting a hand on balls at the net, digging balls they had no business getting to, or straight-up blocking down Blues’ attacks for points. This was clearly reflected in the final team stats as Blues only managed 17 kills on 73 attempts (compared to Guelph’s 36 on 80 attempts).

After the game, Blues head coach Ed Drakich and his star player, Steve Kung, echoed each other’s sentiments. Both were frustrated with their team’s inability to play consistently over long stretches and mentioned that they were still trying to overcome the huge loss of one of their key players last season, Jessi Lelliott.

“I think some guys might have had a little stage fright [on Friday], but we just couldn’t keep it together over a long series of points,” said Drakich. “We would get right back into a set and then would kill the momentum with a bad pass or service error.”

“The inconsistency [is] frustrating,” said Kung, the 2008-09 OUA player of the year.

The Blues’ biggest nightmare Friday night had to be Winston Rosser. Having an absolute monster game for the Gryphons, Rosser led all players with 15 kills to go along with two service aces and a couple blocks.

Time and time again, the Gryphons looked to Rosser to kill any Blues chance of a comeback. He also emphatically put the exclamation mark on his performance by nailing Killiam Newman in the face with a spike that set up match point.

For the women (2-1), they were also missing two vital players from their starting lineup: Kristina Valjas to injury and last year’s OUA leading scorer, Heather Bansley, who is currently on the other side of the globe in Thailand representing one of Canada’s beach volleyball teams.

This forced head coach Kristine Drakich into starting two first-year players, Alexandra Hudson and Rebecca Crosier.

Again defence played a huge role in this match as the Gryphons were very active on the net, counting 15 points on blocks. Guelph was also very efficient on the offence as they were able to kill 47 of 101 attempts, while the Blues managed only 41 kills on a whopping 133 attempts.

While Drakich admits that her rookies struggled, she also believes her more experienced players may have been trying to do too much to make up for the absence of Valjas and Bansley.

“They perhaps were trying to cover a little too much ground instead of staying in their position and trusting their teammates to make their plays,” said Drakich.

The men’s and women’s teams tried and failed to salvage the weekend on Sunday, losing to the Waterloo Warriors 3-2 and 3-0, respectively.

Golden Hawks outshine Blues

he Varsity Blues women’s hockey team lost 6-0 to Wilfred Laurier’s Golden Hawks on Halloween, while their game against Waterloo the next day was postponed due to several members of the opposing team coming down with the H1N1 virus. Laurier gained a solid lead in the first period, scoring four points on goalie Shayna Moor, who was replaced by first-year Melissa Muir for the remaining two periods. The Blues third goalie, second-year Kendyl Valenta, was out due to a broken collarbone.

Hawks forward Vanessa Schabkar opened scoring at 3:44 with an intercepted Toronto pass, followed minutes later by first-year Paula Lagamba’s shot placing the Hawks in the lead 2-0. Second-year Hawk Caitlyn Muirhead would score again at 12:40, with fourth-year Laura Bartolini cementing Laurier’s 4-0 lead with a wrap-around goal.

Toronto came very close to scoring throughout the second and third periods, but just couldn’t get past the Canadian Interuniversity Sport number-two team and their goalie Liz Knox. Melissa Muir similarly accomplished many admirable saves, but could not stem two goals in the second and third periods. Third-year Katherine Shirriff scored the second period’s lone goal off a pass from teammate Kaley Powers. In the third period, Brittany Crago made the last goal of the game at 4:33, leaving the score at 6-0.

Overall it was an intense and spirited game, with many penalties and collisions on both sides. In the third period, forward Amanda Fawn had a painful encounter with a puck, which hit her arm and bruised her wrist. She was removed from the ice. Head coach Karen Hughes assured that Fawn was fine, commenting approvingly that she did at least block the shot.

The Blues would have played the Waterloo Warriors the next day, except two Warriors came down with H1N1. The game has been postponed, along with the Warriors’ match against the York Lions, which would have also been on Halloween. Coach Hughes said the team will take their usual health precautions, though she commented that she is pleased the match was postponed. “You have to be careful,” she said. “Use your own water bottle, don’t share towels. Same as everybody else.”

As for game performance, Hughes commented: “We outshot them today. […] We just didn’t take advantage of our opportunities.” The Blues will travel to St. Catharines to play Brock on Saturday. The next home game will be against Guelph on Nov. 8 at 4 p.m.

Province hands over $104 million for research

Researchers at U of T got a boost last Wednesday when they received $104 million through the Ontario Research Fund infrastructure grant. Going to 16 campus-based projects and 10 at partner hospitals, the grant is intended to further cutting-edge research and commercialize it.

The projects have interdisciplinary teams that explore topics ranging from environmental sustainability and digital media to healthy diets and miniature satellites. Stem cell research focusing on potential medical applications, headed by Janet Rossant, received over $9.9 million. A study of new ways to combat neuro-degenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s, hosted at UTSC’s Centre for the Neurobiology of Stress, received $2.1 million.

Much of the equipment involved is as intriguing as it is intimidating. Take the mass spectrometer, an instrument that can pick up extremely small traces of a compound and determine what it’s made of. “This same kind of mass spectrometer is used in the Olympics for identifying and confirming the use of illicit performance-enhancing drugs in athletes,” said Scott Mabury, chair of the chemistry department and vice-provost of academic operations, with a touch of pride. Mabury and his team are studying how fluorinated compounds used in industrial and consumer products affect the environment and people’s health. That’s where the latest mass spectrometers come in. “In your blood you have microgram per litre part per billion concentrations of flourinated acids,” Mabury said. “We are looking at, in particular, why you are contaminated with these compounds.” The team believes that some contribution comes from paper packaging in food, which uses these compounds as a preservative, and aims to design safer versions of the compounds.

Another researcher, David Jenkins, also has a project that could affect what’s on supermarket shelves. Many of the packaged foods we eat are designed to dissolve and be absorbed into the bloodstream quickly. “People want food to melt in the mouth, that’s what they like,” Jenkins said. “The trouble is, this food will do the same things in the intestines, liberating vast loads of glucose.” High amounts of glucose, a type of sugar, increases the risk of diabetes and various cancers, and Jenkins’ research aims to create new diets that will direct people to natural and synthetic foods with low sugar counts.

The grant is part of over $290 million of funding going to U of T and its partner hospitals, with over $135 million coming from the Canada Foundation for Innovation and another $52 million from institutional support and other U of T partners.

Rick in a Box

If you were given the chance to receive $1 million just by pressing a button, would you do it? But what if there was the catch that somebody, somewhere in the world, would die immediately afterwards?

This Friday marks the release of director Richard Kelly’s (Donnie Darko, Southland Tales) newest sci-fi thriller, The Box, starring Cameron Diaz and James Marsden. The plot seems simple enough: in a Boston suburb a family struggling financially encounters the button scenario described above. However, as they put their moral fibre to the test, the dilemma takes on immense complexity.

The Box is based on a Richard Matheson’s short story “Button Button,” and the tale was later adopted into an episode of the Twilight Zone. From here, Kelly extends the narrative, seeking answers to the moral questions inherent to the plotline. As he explains, “The story was set-up for the first scenes of the movie. I had so many questions about it, I wanted to know the point of it all.”

The film was a long time in the making, with production beginning in November of 2007. The idea for a film adaptation, though, had long lingered in Kelly’s mind. He recalls the impact the story had on him from as early as his youth. “I read the story when I was young, and then spent a long time trying to get [it] settled. It really leaves a strong footprint in [your] mind.”

Diaz stars as Norma Lewis, the mother of a single child who receives a box containing the button on their front doorstep. For Diaz, starring in the film was a nice break from her pattern of previous releases, which have consisted almost entirely of romantic comedies. Upon receiving the script for Kelly’s latest film, she immediately jumped on the opportunity.

“I was a big fan of Donnie Darko, and so I really wanted to work with Richard Kelly because he is so authentic. The movie is an existential quandary, and I knew Richard would tell the story well,” she explains.

Marsden stars as Arthur Lewis, a recently unemployed husband and father. He too was excited for Kelly’s sci-fi film because of the morally challenging questions posed.

“The character is very human, but surrounded by supernatural elements. […] I haven’t done many films like this before,” he admits.

Despite her interest in the role, Diaz never took time to sit down and read Matheson’s original story. Instead, both she and Marsden walked onto the set of the film with the intention of following Kelly’s unique vision for the story.

The film is ultimately an assessment of the human condition: it places the audience in an uncomfortable position where they must ask themselves, “Would I choose to act, given the circumstances, in the same way as these characters?” Diaz herself pondered these same questions while filming the movie.

“You try to understand what other people go through,” she concludes, “but you never really know. Nothing of me is in [the character Norma Lewis].”

The film is set in the 1970s, a time before the luxuries of the Internet and television provided all households with quick information offered at the click of a button (pun intended). Nevertheless, audiences will be able to successfully relate to the characters and the immense drama that ensues in their rather ordinary lives:

The Box “is about a nuclear family that lives a lifestyle they no longer can afford,” Kelly says. “Looking at the economic crisis of today, we can identify with it, and my hope is that it resonates with the audience. […] It was a huge decision to set [the film] in the 1970s. […] It has an old-fashioned concept, and is a bit more frightening without today’s technologies.”

Diaz also sees modern parallels: “We are pushing the button more than ever with our limitless credit cards, pollution, and all these problems where we do not see the immediate effects and consequences. Instead, we put forth the idea of monetary wealth in our society. […] My character didn’t want to suffer the consequences [of pushing the button]. She saw a million dollars and wanted to believe she could change for the better, not for the worse. It’s something we all desire.”

Fans of science-fiction, thrillers, and even horror films will be pleased at the suspenseful film’s genre-bending cinematographic techniques. As Kelly explains, “my hope is to make a film that is incredibly suspenseful and broadly commercial, while still retaining my artistic sensibility.” Let’s see how this mission fares.

The Box opens on Nov. 6.

McMaster TAs go on strike

McMaster University teaching and research assistants went on strike Monday morning, having failed to reach an agreement after almost 24 hours of negotiations. Classes will still run, although university spokesperson Andrea Faquhar told Maclean’s that she could not judge how the strike would affect tutorials and labs.

Pickets were stationed at both entrances to McMaster. Strikers delayed cars to give them information about the strike, leading to lines of traffic.

About 2,700 TAs and research assistants went on strike after CUPE 3906 rejected the university’s best offer on Sunday. McMaster offered wage increases that would have Class A TAs and RAs earning $39.40 per hour and Class B TAs earning $22.15 per hour. The offer also includes higher contributions to dental benefits, continued contribution to the union-administered benefit fund, increased job security, and other provisions. McMaster says the union refused to take the offer to the union membership for a vote, and told Maclean’s the move was unfair to both union members and students.

“It’s ridiculous to drum up support by blocking traffic and keeping people from their day-to-day life,” said Justin Sma, a McMaster student. Sma said he was sympathetic until his car was stopped by picketers. “In fact, I think this sort of protesting causes negative support. These people should get off the road and back to work,” he said.

Another McMaster student, Mike Wolfsgruber, said students were casualties in the middle of a battle between TAs and the university. “We should receive compensation for every hour of education we miss,” he said.

When York’s TAs, contract faculty, and researchers went on strike, the university closed for three months and delayed the school year into the summer. Second-year York student Laila Halimi said she was glad to see York isn’t the only one with strike woes. “It makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside,” she joked.

There is no word on when negotiations will go forward or when the strike is expected to end. McMaster has granted students extended deadlines for course withdrawal and set up a strike hotline. A university spokesperson said no further meetings have been scheduled with the union.