The University of Toronto’s Student Newspaper Since 1880

SPORTS NOTEBOOK

Time for a tune-upU of T’s 2001 provincial champion mountain biking team is holding its annual “Bike Tune-up” fundraising event in the AC lobby April 1-4 from 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m. to raise money for the team. They are asking anyone who needs a tune-up to bring in their bike for a look at a cost of $20 each.How’d he do that?We apologize to the second-year swimmer defying gravity (photo) in March 21 issue of the Varsity. Peter Szaflarski’s (St. Catharines, ON) name was misspelled in the caption.

Smells like teen shit

Professors and lit. buffs beware: the following comparison may shock and disturb.

In the 1600s, one went to a Shakespeare play with certain expectations.

If it was a tragedy, everyone was gonna die—there was no other alternative. In a comedy, everyone was going to marry happily, except the villain, who would be punished.

Not much has changed in the last four hundred years. Like any good Shakespeare play, the plot of a teen comedy flick must work itself out to a logical, moral and aesthetic end.

The only difference is that in the 1600s everyone got married, and in 2002 everyone gets laid. A sign of the times.

This movie was funny, but so were both American Pie movies, 100 Girls, 40 Days and 40 Nights, Can’t Hardly Wait, Road Trip…need I go on?

They all have the exact same plot. It’s only a matter of finding new and more embarrassing ways to catch the nerdy guy jerkin’ off, or to see the cool guy being touched in a bad way by one of his friends. And like its predecessors, this movie has brought us to the next level in vulgarity.

Just when you thought there could be nothing cruder than Jason Biggs fucking a pie, Barry Watson (Matt of 7th Heaven) and Michael Rosenbaum give you a hilariously choreographed cock fight of sorts, while Harland Williams makes fun of fat girls, giants and French chicks.

And despite the offensive nature of all the comedy in this movie, the characters manage to absolve themselves (like so many pie-fucking teen males before them) by learning a moral lesson. Not only that nerds are people too (we’ve all got that one down by now), but also that women should be treated with respect.

The moral, of course, is terribly distorted by the preceding shower scenes and the general stupidity of the DOG sorority girls, who actually mistake the three men for women, but in this movie it’s just that kind of total lack of thought that counts.

It won’t be winning any Academy Awards, but they don’t mean shit anyway. You want nudity, crude comedy, beautiful people and a happy ending? Go see Sorority Boys.

Unless you want all those things, and feigned intelligence with an air of dignity. Then you should skip the movie and read A Midsummer’s Night Dream.

Love, Lust & Lies

Dear Jewel,

I went on a date with this guy and he was wonderful towards me. I had a lovely time, great conversation and he even kissed me good night. The only problem is that one and a half weeks have passed since then and he has not called me. I called him shortly after the date, but got his answering machine. He didn’t call me back after leaving a message. Jewel, I REALLY like him. What should I do?

Girl Waiting by the phone.

Dear Girl Waiting By the Phone,

Keep in mind that only a week and a half has passed, and maybe he is just the type to digest matters slowly. There is no sense in waiting by the phone. After all, he knows where to find you.

There’s a valuable lesson in all this. His hot-and-cold behaviour is an indication that he isn’t all that you’ve cut him out to be. Don’t get tangled in loose threads, and move on to weave in new experiences with a well-tailored man.

Love Jewel.

Dear Jewel,

My long-time boyfriend recently started chatting on the Internet all the time. He is totally into that whole sex thing. I hate it. What can I do to make him join me in the bedroom?

Losing to the computer.

Dear Losing to the Computer,

As we get comfortable in relationships, we often throw seducing and romance out the window. We forget our partners need to be stimulated and attracted to us in order to keep the flames of passion burning.

Your boyfriend’s newfound interest in cyber sex may mean he is experiencing some bedroom boredom.

Maybe sex is such a predetermined conclusion in your relationship that you cut to the chase and quickly scamper into the bedroom once he says, “Let’s do it.”

Though it is necessary for him to feel comfortable approaching you, he also needs to feel the warmth of anticipation and buildup.

So quit complaining and learn to seduce him all over again. And if you can’t beat him, join him. Transport your sex life to a whole new level by voyaging into a cyber sex relationship with your partner. You can send him wild e-mails, or take on a whole new persona when typing out your fantasies over the Internet.

Dr. Ruth K. Westheimer, author of Rekindling Romance For Dummies, explains, “Pretending that you are someone different, maybe someone more daring than the real you, is one appealing aspect of these chat sessions.” No woman should lose to a computer.

Love Jewel.

Queries sent to: [email protected]

A holy experience

Wrapping up its run this past weekend, the Stage Blue production of Jesus Christ Superstar at the Isabel Bader Theatre was successful in its attempts to recreate the Andrew Lloyd Webber/Tim Rice musical.

Although the choreography tended to be weak at times, there were some well-done scenes, including that where Jesus is hounded by his followers. While the lyrics of the musical are simple rhymes, often resembling a pop song, the strong voices in the play make it worth listening to.

Danielle Meierhenry’s performance as Judas was top-notch. Both her musical and acting skills shone through, maintaining a solid foundation for the rest of the cast.

Jesus, played by Jason DeNicolais, was equally impressive. With Jesus Christ Superstar, the interrelationship between Jesus and Judas is of utmost importance. How these two actors work together can make or break the performance. Thankfully, DeNicolais and Meierhenry had a chemistry that was as powerful as it was dynamic. Praise also must be given to Ori Dagan, who worked wonders with the role of Caiaphas.

Of course, no musical would be complete without a comic relief number. King Herod, played by Julian DeZotti, with his amusingly dressed dancing girls, did an excellent job of easing the tension-filled atmosphere of the play, giving the audience a chance to recuperate from otherwise serious moments.

Unfortunately, along with choreography issues, the play also suffered from inconsistent costuming. While Pontius Pilate’s costume was historically accurate, Judas’ would have been more appropriate for a 70s disco party. Still, given the limited budget, the costume designer did a fair job.

Technically, the production’s lighting was effective and added the right amount of ambience to the play.

Set production was an arena-style stairway with two columns at either side, and although it was minimalistic, it too was effective in adding to the atmosphere. Scene transitions could have been improved, at times seeming either too continuous or too abrupt, thereby making applauding awkward for the audience.

Finally, the second half of the play was just as strong as the first half, but the ending lacked force. Although the crucifixion of Jesus was moving and arguably the most important event of the play, it was a little too long, and the play’s abrupt ending immediately after was slightly jarring.

Overall, Stage Blue deserves credit for making this production of Jesus Christ Superstar an emotionally charged affair, obviously given 100% by cast and crew.

In the presence of greatness

Roch Carrier takes great care of his legends. In Our Life With the Rocket, Carrier shares the stories of two French-Canadian legends: a hockey icon and a world-renowned author. Using great care, rich detail and insight, Carrier tells his story while recounting the life of Maurice Richard, the legendary Montreal Canadiens scorer, whom he grew up admiring.

Carrier begins by tracing the origins of hockey back to games played in ancient times and follows its evolution up until the English began to play the game in early Canada. Over time, hockey became an ingrained part of life in Quebec—”it became our game,” says Carrier.

The book’s narrative soon moves to pre-Depression-era Quebec, birthplace of Maurice Richard. Carrier tells the reader about a young Richard who perfected his skill playing against bigger, older boys. Richard rose through the ranks of amateur hockey in Quebec and in 1941 broke into the NHL as World War Two raged in Europe.

“Hockey in those days was not only entertainment, it was as real as life and it was a metaphor for life. But for a player like Maurice Richard, it was his life,” relates Carrier, adding, “You cannot become great if you don’t have an obsession. An obsession is a feeling that what you did could be done better.”

Throughout his life, Richard had a substantial influence on Carrier. From Richard, he learned to overcome any obstacle to his goals.

“When I decided to become a writer, nothing (stood) in the way that was reasonable. It was my goal. I achieved my goal. I think I owe that to the Rocket.” Still, when he met Richard, he was impressed by his modesty. “Richard was not a show-off,” Carrier says, “he was a simple man.”

Carrier does not have a definition of greatness. “Greatness can be many things. Greatness could be a father and mother who has the responsibility of a family and takes care of the family. That is greatness. I’m much more impressed by that than any athletic performance.” He adds, “Greatness does not need a definition. When you see greatness, you know.”

He does, however, view Richard as a great hockey player. “He was a champion, was a scorer. But what made him special was the kind of connection he had with people who were watching the game and with those who were not watching the game.” Carrier says that because of his intense play and his ability to inspire thousands, one knew he was great.

Richard was Quebec’s first superstar. “He was probably the first one, after a long series of strong men who were adored and had respectability because they were the strongest men in the world,” Carrier says. “There were no great writers, there were no great actors.” Richard’s legend lives on today. “Canadian children read ‘The Hockey Sweater’ story [an old short story of Carrier’s about a young Richard fan who accidentally receives a Maple Leafs jersey], and even if they don’t know who he was, they have some connection.”

Carrier was originally opposed to writing a biography about Maurice Richard. “I started to say no. Three hundred pages later, the book was written,” he laughs. “That’s the magic of writing. I discovered that the subject was interesting.”

According to Carrier, sharing words with others is what writing is about. “Writing is about sharing your experiences…. The book is a dialogue, (and) the book is not really written unless it’s been read,” he says. “Writing is about talking about personal things… A writer always talks about themselves and their own experiences, because they talk about what they know.”

Carrier does not go into great detail about the future. He believes one day, the story of Lucille Richard, Maurice’s wife, should be written. He refrains from talking about any projects he is working on. “Even if I had a project, I would not tell…. I’m superstitious, so I never talk about future projects.”

When one great speaks of another, you can feel the presence of both in the room.

DVD REVIEWS

Fear of a Punk Planet
Kung Fu

An off-spin of the album by SoCal punk style originators the Vandals, Fear of a Punk Planet is the brainchild of Vandals leader/bassist Joe Escalante. Written and directed by and starring the Vandals and their friends and family, Fear of a Punk Planet takes their infamous antics to a new level—a TV show.

Here’s the premise: Brian Gonzales (Escalante) is an aging punk star with his own punk club, the Baby Seal. When it is closed down for fire violations, his biggest fans gather together to make the venue a non-profit organization, thereby bypassing fire codes. Yeah, the premise is kinda sketchy, but the Kung Fu crew manages to spin gold out of it. Each episode relentlessly pokes fun at every aspect of modern punk, from the characters (The Crusty, Epitaph Man, Ska Chick, The Hardcore Punk) to the bands themselves (the Evil Fire Marshal sarcastically refers to Bad Religion as “Bald Religion.”). Sure, the acting is embarrassingly cheesy and lines are occasionally silly, but you’re drawn into the fact that these people are having such a blast. And as an added bonus, the DVD includes footage of NOFX, the Souls, SOIA and the Ataris performing at the Seal. Amusing for all, but especially for punkers, Fear of a Punk Planet is brilliant in its own low-budget way.

Rating:VVVV
Keith CarmanJohnny Thunders: Live in Cold Blood
MVD

Shot live on March 13, 1982 in New York City, this DVD proves sometimes legends should stay just that. You’re apt to see things you’d rather not when you look at the person behind them. Johnny Thunders was one of early punk’s most important figures. A member of the New York Dolls, he broke many a taboo, wearing female clothes and make-up when the idea was unfathomable. Eventually kick-starting a solo career with the Heartbreakers, virtually every glam rocker, punker or just plain rock n’ roller from the past 20 years cites his work as an inspiration. But after viewing one of his worst performances ever, the glories his soul come crashing down with the reality of just how wasted he was. The cover photos are a sign of the cliché heroin overdose to come. On the front, Thunders’ face is covered and only a telltale syringe speaks to his evil doings. Oh yeah … the DVD. Throughout the half-hour set, Thunders wanders aimlessly about the stage, loses his guitar frequently and eventually collapses while babbling into the mic. His guitar playing is barely second-rate and at one point some dude strolls on stage and gives Thunders another dose of horse, which he happily tucks away for later. What a rebel! What a loser. Excuse me, I’m off to shred my memorabilia now.

Rating: V
Jimmy Finch

The true herbal therapy

I magine waking up in the morning too panicked to leave your bed. Everywhere you go, there are potentially infectious microbes—on door handles, railings, on public transportation, and even in the air. For Catherine*, a U of T student, this nightmarish scenario is a reality. Catherine has a psychiatric disorder called Obsessive Compulsive Disease (OCD), and the most effective treatment she has tried for her condition is smoking medicinal marijuana.

On July 30th, 2001, Health Canada brought new regulations into effect governing the use of medicinal marijuana. Before last summer, Canadian doctors could apply for a twelve-month exemption from legal consequences for their patients to possess marijuana for medicinal purposes. Under the new legislation, patients can apply on their own for the authorization to possess or grow marijuana through the newly created Office of Cannabis Medical Access. With all application forms available online, and a toll-free number for information, medicinal marijuana has become more easily accessible. Also unlike before, applicants require no proof of a clean criminal record.

Former Health Minister Alan Rock promised a domestic supplier of government-distributed cannabis, and more funding for research on the risks and benefits of long-term marijuana use. Said Rock, “This compassionate measure will improve the quality of life for sick Canadians, particularly those who are terminally ill.”

Catherine is one of 365 Canadians who have applied for the right to smoke marijuana medicinally under the new regulations. Supported by her psychologist and psychiatrist, she feels marijuana is the best treatment she has tried so far.

She is allergic to benzodiazapenes and tried other antidepressants for a year, to no avail. After gaining weight, feeling constantly nauseous and struggling with insomnia and fatigue, Catherine failed a year in school. That’s when she started looking for alternative therapies like marijuana.

Catherine describes her lifestyle today as notably more relaxed, even on days when she does not smoke. “If I have a really bad panic attack, smoking [marijuana] will totally kill it. It relaxes me. I can sit back and say ‘Okay, I shouldn’t be panicking.’ When you’re in a panic attack, it’s really hard to think rationally. If I can relax myself and get out of the whole anxiety stage, I can look at things and say, ‘It isn’t really rational to think touching a doorknob is going to kill me.’ Despite positive feedback from patients smoking medicinal marijuana, the medical community is wary of the drug. Dr. Liesly Lee is the consultant neurologist at Sunnybrook and Women’s College Hospital. Dr. Lee, along with second-year University of Toronto medical student Gregory Silverman, are examining how marijuana relieves the symptoms of multiple sclerosis patients. The two are assessing who has used marijuana as a therapy, and whether or not their use correlates with severity of disease.

Dr. Lee warns a patient may report he feels better not necessarily because his symptoms are relieved, but instead because he feels happy and high. He says clinical trials administering THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, to MS patients in Europe and the United States rely on data that is too anecdotal. “The problem when you look at that data is that it can be confounded by many other variables. For example, if someone is happy, they will say they are better. [Because of] the euphoric response, it’s really hard to know if they are better, because objectively, clinically, are they better? Or is it because they felt better, so they claimed the symptom was better?”

Dr. Lee says smaller clinical trials using biochemical measurements rather than the patients’ emotional responses have shown negative results. “Besides the fact that the patient got high, they haven’t been able to confirm much more than that.”

But Catherine says she has observed a noticeable improvement in her symptoms. Before medication, she was having 20 to 30 panic attacks a day. Once on antidepressants, she was down to five per day. Now, by trial and error, she has ironed out the wrinkles in her smoking routine and has only two or three panic attacks in a week.

To skeptics of marijuana’s efficacy, she says, “Look at the frequency of panic attacks. I’ve been able to do so much more this year, I can get on a bus again, I can use a public washroom again, I can come to school every day… and I don’t have days where I wake up panicking and I don’t leave the house all day.”

Dr. Lee says he is hesitant to use marijuana therapeutically, and does so only after all other conventional methods have been ruled out.

Although he has no objection to the use of marijuana to minimize the suffering of ill patients, Dr. Lee stresses it is more important to seek the cause rather than mask the symptoms. “If someone is depressed, there’s a reason why they’re depressed. I think it’s much more effective if I try to go to the root of the depression, solve the underlying stresses or the biochemical abnormality than try to cover up the symptoms.”

One reason for concern is evidence that prolonged marijuana use may cause permanent damage to the brain. “I have concerns about the long-term effects of marijuana. It’s not a well-studied area, but there is some concern about the cognitive effects of the drug. For that reason I am very cautious to give this drug to people [who already have] a brain disease, and to add another drug that can have potential insulting effects onto the brain.”

Catherine admits that motivation, especially to do schoolwork, is sometimes a problem for her. However, her marks are dramatically better than when she subscribed to more conventional treatments.

“It was an issue for a while, when I was trying to find what was right for me. I try to control [my motivation]. If I know I have an important day, I’m not going to smoke right when I get up. I don’t smoke before I go to school and I don’t smoke before I go to work.”

Complicating matters further, the medical community says the government’s move to legalize medicinal marijuana may have been premature. The Canadian Medical Physicians Agency (CMPA) has asked doctors not to prescribe marijuana until the drug is better understood and Health Canada has set guidelines for its use. As a future physician, Gregory Silverman is also concerned.

“I think [the move] sets a dangerous precedent for the government to bow to political pressure and legalize a drug for use without good evidence as to its safety, long-term and in conjunction with other medications, or its effectiveness. I think the government has tried to pass the buck to doctors on a very contentious and politically tricky issue. If marijuana is to be used to treat pain in patients, this is already an area that is notoriously hard to properly diagnose and treat.”

Like Silverman, Lee is also concerned. He says most drugs must go through rigorous testing before the Canadian government makes them available to the public, but for a reason unbeknownst to him, this was not the case with marijuana. “As a doctor, we are sort of stuck. I don’t really know when I am supposed to use this drug. There’s been no good evidence to tell me [prescribing marijuana] is the right thing to do.”

To improve this situation, Lee would like to see more funding given to researching the long-term effects of marijuana, and education available to physicians about when marijuana should be prescribed. Silverman thinks the absence of guidelines given to doctors for prescribing marijuana is a dangerous thing, and may result in doctors avoiding prescribing it to evade legal consequences.

As of March 1, 145 Canadians have been granted the right to possess cannabis for medicinal uses under the new regulations. 101 of those have licences to produce their own, and five people have been designated to grow the plant for someone else.

Health Canada media relations officer Andrew Swift says applicants who are terminally ill have priority over those with chronic, yet not immediately life-threatening diseases. However, despite their legal right to smoke, Health Canada has not yet made available the domestically-produced cannabis. Swift says the marijuana, which has been grown in Flin Flon, Manitoba by Prairie Plant systems, still requires lab testing and a finalized distribution system and will be available “in the coming months.”

Although the Office of Cannabis Medical Access cites a 30-day waiting period for applicants to be approved, Catherine applied last summer and is still waiting to hear back. Until then, she will continue to smoke discreetly under the watchful eye of her physicians.

“I like people who are willing to try new things, especially in a doctor. I don’t want somebody who’s behind the times and set in their ways. I want people to keep an open mind and not immediately think of marijuana as [a hard drug]. I have an illness, and it helps me, so why would you take it away from me?”

Nevertheless, Catherine feels she cannot tell her family because they would not accept her decision. As for her friends, they support her decision.

“They think it’s cool. I’m a hero. I know a lot of people that smoke just for recreational purposes, and people that smoke because they have diabetes [and] epilepsy. I think I’m the test case for all of my friends. If I get approved, there will be a flood of applications from people I know.”

*Catherine’s name has been changed to protect her identity.

Photograph by Simon Turnbull

Students hold vigil to remember dead Israelis

Members of U of T’s Jewish Students’ Union (JSU), along with the Canadian Zionist Federation and the Israeli Consulate, held a vigil on Thursday to commemorate Israelis who have been killed in the past 18 months as a result of the conflict in the Middle East.

“We cannot remain silent about the situation of terror in Israel! For the sake of our Jewish brothers and sisters we must speak up, so that they can live freely in their own country—freely go out for a slice of pizza, freely go shopping at the mall, and freely live a normal peaceful life,” said organizer Bram Bregma, a third year U of T student. Bregma mourned the death of his friend Yochai, a young man who was killed by a suicide bomber.

“Yochai loved to laugh, smile and enjoy life. To me, each individual who was a victim to a terrorist action is as meaningful as Yochai. How many ‘Yochais’ will have to die until people start showing their support for Israel’s painful crisis?” concluded Bregma.
Aron Kasman, president of the JSU, said violence in Israel will only end once there is an “immediate cease fire on all sides and a return to peace talks.”

He said peace will not prevail while “uncontrolled militants, members of Yasser Arafat’s Fatah movement, are blowing up innocent men, women, and children.”

Followed by a reading of a list of the names of victims who were killed since March 12, 2002, Adam Cutler, JSU member, proposed a five step strategy to counter terrorism: “There are things we can do!” he said, “we can show our support by actually visiting Israel, we can give financial assistance through charity—there are hundreds of Israeli families who need our help.

We can write to a member of parliament in order to express our concerns over Canada’s international position on the Israeli situation, and last but not least,” Adam said, “we can write and show sympathy to the families who have fallen prey to terrorism.”
After saying a prayer and lighting candles for the memory of those killed, the group of about 80 people began its solidarity march to the Israeli Consulate on Bloor St., waving Israeli flags, singing songs and shouting “End Terrorism!” and “Let the Jewish Nation Live!”

The rally was concluded with the singing of Israel’s national anthem.