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Womens’ field hockey gives Queen’s the Blues

All visiting field hockey teams that play at Lamport Stadium are learning quickly that if they don’t play a perfect game, the Varsity Blues will roll over them with ease.

This weekend’s field hockey games at Lamport stadium lent credence to the idea that it’s no longer a question of whether the Varsity Blues women’s team will defend their OUA title this season, but in what manner they do it.

The team came into this weekend’s double-header undefeated, holding on to fifth place in CIS (nation-wide) standings. The Blues continued their impressive run with a 2-0 win over the Queen’s Golden Gaels and a 7-0 slaughter of McGill University on Sunday. It was the fifth consecutive game in which the Blues have not let in a goal, which is a testament to the team’s defensive effort.

 “Our goalies are very talented and I know that we can rely on them when the time comes, but our defense has been phenomenal this season,” said head coach Beth Ali. “(The goalies) practice a lot and are ready for anything, but they haven’t seen much action yet.”

U of T’s strong defense was present in spades this weekend, but Wednesday’s 0-0 draw against York showed just how tight the women are playing in their own zone. The Blues did not allow York a single shot on net during the contest, and blitzed the opposition with 24 shots.

Blues goalie Sarah Lipton was also quick to deflect praise onto her team’s defensive effort. “Our defense has been great. [The] goalies haven’t touched the ball in the last three games,” she said.

The strong defensive play has spurred on incredible offensive performances such as Sunday’s 7-0 win. But despite the huge margin of victory, players and coaches agree that the team needs to capitalize on their offensive chances.

“We are playing well and generating a lot of opportunities, but we have to work on capitalizing on those chances,” said defender Alex Chacinski. “If we want to be successful like last year and be prepared for big games, we have to start capitalizing on our chances,” she said.

In the first game of Sunday’s double header, the Blues came out slow against Queens, but kept battling on offense. The two goals scored were more than enough as the defense once again triumphed. During the game against McGill, U of T came out flying and was unstoppable in the opponent’s zone, getting key contributions from Erin Fraser and Christine DeSantis.

Coach Ali said that she is looking forward to the playoffs, where she believes her team will once again be a serious contender.

“I think that it will be a good, tough battle between us and Waterloo again this year,” said Ali cautiously, trying not to jinx her team’s chances. “If we can convert our chances and continue our strong defensive performance, we’ll be fine.”

Photograph by Simon Turnbull

Murder by numbers

Someone coined the phrase “who-cares-who-dunnit” to describe Robert Altman’s Gosford Park last year. The term applies equally to François Ozon’s 8 Women, a murder-mystery of the Agatha Christie school where we are less concerned with who is guilty and why than who is our favorite character. It doesn’t hurt that the suspects vying for our affection are portrayed by three generations of the most beautiful and talented actresses in France’s cinematic history, and that they seem to be having a great time performing for us.

Marcel has been murdered in his bedroom, and we learn everyone has a reason to kill him. Gaby (Catherine Deneuve) stands to inherit his fortune. Her sister, the shrewish Augustine (Isabelle Huppert) unsuccessfully tried to seduce Marcel. Their mother (Danielle Darrieux) claims that Marcel tried repeatedly to steal her bonds. Marcel’s estranged sister, Pierrette (Fanny Ardant) has breezed back into his life to exploit him for money. Suzon (Virginie Ledoyen) and her father share a secret, and the help (the sultry Emmanuelle Béart as Louise, the maid) and Chanel (Firmine Richard) know more than they let on.

While we seem to be on familiar ground with the genre, Ozon subverts our expectations by introducing a musical element to the film. As the youngest member of the ensemble, Catherine (Ludivine Sagnier), breaks into the song “Daddy, You Ain’t With It,” we see that the songs function to reveal elements of the characters that can’t be told through traditional narration. The characters are both explaining themselves to the audience and to each other. Although not all the songs are chart-toppers, in each case they allow the actresses to showcase their ample talents.

Strong and glamorous women have always been part of the French cinema tradition. Here they are given the opportunity to strut their stuff, with each other, around each other and against each other. It’s a recipe for fun and success that is infectious. The result is not only a good idea on paper but also works well on film. Here, the cinematic planets and their stars have aligned just so to create an eminently enjoyable film.

ROM breaks out the good China

If your last visit to the ROM was on a sixth-grade field trip, you might consider returning this year. In addition to the bat cave and the terrifying but must-see life-size plastic dinosaurs, the museum is hosting its first major Chinese exhibition in nearly thirty years. Treasures from a Lost Civilization: Ancient Chinese Art from Sichuan, from New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, is making its only Canadian stop at the ROM. For the most part these works of art have been stored in China’s Sanxingdui Museum since their discovery.

The collection includes 181 extraordinary artifacts found mostly in two large sacrificial pits at the 3,000-year-old ruin of Sanxingdui (pronounced “San-shing-dway”) from the Sichuan province in southwestern China. The treasures were excavated in 1986, unearthing evidence of a previously unknown Bronze Age and providing a new perspective on Chinese art and history. The objects discovered have shed light upon a mysterious lost culture, proving that a highly advanced group of people existed in Sanxingdui from as early as the 13th century B.C. Before this archaeological breakthrough, Sanxingdui was considered an isolated cultural backwater. No similar artifacts have been discovered anywhere else, and archaeologists still have little to no information about the people who created them. The largest of the artifacts is a life-size statue, the only one of its kind from the period before the unification of China in the third century B.C.

The exhibition displays many jade and bronze objects, including masks, birds, animal figures and pottery. There is a large assortment of almost identical heads (like a race of supernatural clones). It is not certain whether they represent gods themselves or if they were meant as offerings in sacrificial rituals. Archaeologists believe all of the figures together might have represented a hierarchy of religious leaders.

In sections two and three of the exhibit, art from the Zhou Dynasty (11th to 3rd centuries B.C.) and the Han Dynasty (2nd century B.C. to 2nd century A.D.) is contrasted with the art from the first section to emphasize the uniqueness of the Sanxingdui discoveries.

Even non-museum-going types will most likely be impressed. And for the whining, restless kid in all of us, there’s always the gift shop.

Barenaked Ladies’ night for Layton supporters

It’s not unheard of for rock stars to get political, but we don’t really have a grand tradition of that sort of thing here at home. Who knows if Nelly Furtado supports the Liberals, or if Sarah McLachlan votes for the Green Party?

With that in mind, you gotta hand it to the Barenaked Ladies for sticking their necks out by throwing a big coming-out party for NDP leadership hopeful Jack Layton last Wednesday at the Phoenix. Layton just happens to be BNL frontman Steven Page’s city councillor, and Page took it upon himself to organize a show of support for the socially progressive politician. Factor in the NDP’s new “one member, one vote” system, and the Rock for Layton concert proved the perfect way to sign up a raft of fresh new NDP members, with the party membership fee serving as the “ticket price” for the show.

With a solid lineup of left-leaning talent, including former Moxy Fruvous member Jian Ghomeshi, rising soprano Patricia O’Callaghan, the Rheostatics’ Tim Vesley, Chris Brown, and BNL themselves, Page had no trouble drawing a packed house of 1,200.

Whether all these NDP newbies just wanted a ticket to the hot draw in town is debatable, but if a good chunk of them actually get out to vote for Layton, it certainly could help him in his quest to be the next leader of the NDP.

Aside from some occasional speechifying about Jack, the concert was mostly about the music—Page put together a smart bill of acts that worked well together while being eclectic enough to sustain the audience’s attention. Various members of the Barenaked Ladies acted as a sort of house band for all the acts, jamming along with the enthusiasm of a teenage garage band.

CBC host Ghomeshi kicked things off with his wry politically-charged tunes, including his song “Quebec City,” about the protests at the Summit of the Americas last year. Brown proved he is one of the country’s best songwriters, managing to pull off an affecting, soulful set even without partner Kate Fenner. O’Callaghan’s star continues to rise, her pure, classical “popera” vocals cutting through the din. Tim Vesely contributed the Rheos’ anti-Tory anthem “Bad Time to be Poor” and introduced a new addition to the canon with “Save Our Schools.”

But it was hometown heroes Barenaked Ladies everyone had come to see, and they didn’t disappoint, serving up two sets of their greatest hits, from “Jane” straight through to “If I Had $1,000,000.” It was the band’s first visit back to the Phoenix since 1991, something that was clearly evident in the way singer Page belted through every song as if he were singing at the Molson Amphitheatre. But this is a band that has just as much fun onstage as their audience does watching them, a lesson far too many other local bands should learn.

It’s fitting that these Toronto music veterans should throw a concert for Layton—youthful, telegenic, and rather hip, he is the rock star candidate, after all.

As Page noted, “We live in a great city with a wonderful music community… and it’s our job to introduce (Layton) to the rest of the country.”

Listeners lap up No Logo-lite

If anyone had any doubt that Naomi Klein has, in a few short years, become the high priestess of that amorphous entity known as “the Left,” they need only have shown up to Klein’s big homecoming party-cum-book launch at the Bloor United Church last Thursday. The capacity crowd of 1100 that packed the pews and spilled out into the aisles would have been the envy of any of the city’s top indie rock acts. And indeed, the Klein event had all the trappings of a concert—a flashy multimedia presentation, a hushed, adoring throng, even an endless lineup for autographs afterwards. She’s the rockstar of the anti-globalization set—have you seen any other political commentators on the cover of NOW Magazine lately?

Much has been made of the fact that Klein has, perhaps unwittingly, become the very sort of “brand” she wrote about in the book that made her famous, No Logo. Everyone wants a piece of the poster girl for the New Left, which means Klein is rarely at home in Toronto, instead travelling the globe giving speeches, making appearances, and somehow finding the time to write columns for the Globe and Mail and The Nation.

Some of those speeches and columns have found their way into a new book, Fences and Windows: Dispatches from the Front Lines of the Globalization Debate. Klein has quipped that the red pocket-sized tome looks like “No Logo had a small Maoist child,” but insists that the book is not a follow-up to No Logo, but rather a first-hand chronicle of the movement as she’s seen it over the last few heady years.

At the book launch, Klein spoke about the book’s theme of “fences and windows,” images she says kept recurring in her own work and observances. “Those who are on the inside are often well-protected…while those who are on the outside are ignored,” she said.

Fences and Windows makes good use of this premise, tying together the rag-tag collection of speeches and columns by outlining barriers both virtual (privatization) and physical (the fence the federal government erected to keep out protesters at the Summit of the Americas in Quebec City last year), and exploring “windows of dissent” from Seattle to Genoa.

When the anti-corporate No Logo burst onto the scene just as the Battle in Seattle was taking place, Klein was abruptly thrust into the spotlight. Fences and Windows shows she has matured intellectually since then—the ideas presented in No Logo are now part of the public consciousness, and as such, Klein’s critiques here are more focused and nuanced. Klein has been criticized for being too simplistic, but it’s her very ability to present economic and political issues without jargon that has helped her reach millions.

Klein still tends to overstate things, but she certainly knows how to write a column—from the strong leads to excellent, full-circle endings. She has a way of encapsulating a thought in a pithy phrase: “The recasting of the WTO, and of global capitalism itself, as a tragically misunderstood poverty elimination program is the single most off-putting legacy of the Battle in Seattle. To hear the line coming out of Geneva, barrier-free trade is a giant philanthropic plan…” she writes in “Capitalism comes out of the closet.”

Fences and Windows is highly readable and full of such tiny gems, but as a collection could have benefited with some judicious editing. It’s wildly uneven, veering from brilliant long-form essays (“What’s next?”) to quick, what’s-the-point? dispatches (“Prague”) that were obviously “dashed off in hotel rooms,” as Klein puts it.

Fences and Windows may not be the sequel to No Logo—Klein and husband Avi Lewis are making a film about economically-scarred Argentina that they say will follow up many of the issues explored in the book—but without all of the latter’s footnotes and charts, it’s kind of like No Logo-lite. Perfect for shoving in your cargo pocket while picketing your neighbourhood Starbucks.

Photograph by Andrew Murillo

Ian Wright, Episode 42: Antarctica

If you don’t know Ian Wright, you could be living in Antarctica. But it seems even there the inhabitants know him.

As the irreverent host of Lonely Planet’s television show (now called Globe Trekkers), Wright has been almost everywhere in the name of backpacking adventure. From bareback horse riding in Mongolia to hanging off ships in Morocco to being tricked into eating caribou guts in Greenland, Wright has been to the earth’s ends for our armchair pleasure.

Well, almost. Antarctica has been out of reach so far. So what does a Varsity editor do in a last-minute interview with such a globetrotter sitting in his London pad awaiting an interview for his upcoming appearance at Convocation Hall this Sunday? Connect him south, of course. Way south.

Half-an-hour of schmoozing with the Canadian, New Zealand and Australian phone operators can get you many places in this world, but perhaps the furthest of them is Mawson Australian Antarctic research station, located 4,000 km south of Easter Island. And by sheer cosmic fate, who does this editor find at the station bar at midnight with U2’s “Where the Streets Have No Name” blaring in the background? Why, Phil Rouget of course, the only Canadian for thousands of kilometres around. Of course he turns out to be from the University of New Brunswick doing his Master’s on the local seal population. And, of course, he’s a fan of Ian Wright. And, yes, he would love to stay up another three hours to receive a call, he says. Stop pulling the legs of my thermal underwear, you say? Read the transcript of the teleconference….

Toronto time: 3:25 p.m./ London time: 8:25 p.m./ Mawson station time: 3:25 a.m.

Alex: Are you guys there? Ian, are you with us?

Ian: Yeah, I’m here.

Alex: Phil, are you there too?

Phil: Alex, I’m definitely here.

Alex: Great. So I’m going to chairperson this call. I know we’re all strangers, but my plan was to get all three of us on the phone and chat about what’s it’s like to live in Antarctica. Let me introduce you guys: Ian, this is Phil Rouget, who’s a biologist at Mawson research station in Antarctica.

Ian: How you goin’ down there?

[Shouting, whistling, laughing]

Phil: Hey Ian!

Alex: And Phil, this is Ian Wright, globetrotter extraordinaire.

Ian: What are you guys doing down there? It sounds like a party!

Phil: Yeah, we like to party!

[Everyone talking at once, satellite delay time interfering]

Alex: So Phil, what are you exactly doing there at Mawson?

Phil: I’m a seal biologist. I’m a student in Canada and I’m out here studying one of the four seals here—the Weddell seal. It’s one of the only seals that hangs around during the winter. But mostly I’m hanging out with the Australians—24 Australians. [YEEEHAW!] There’s about five of them around me right now!

Ian: You’re there on your own free will?

Phil: Unfortunately.

Alex: As I was talking about with Ian, he’s never been to Antarctica before. We’re both curious about what you do there on a daily basis, Phil. Can you talk about the station a bit?

Phil: Sure, so my study is I’m working with Weddell seals. I study the breeding herd formation of them. I’m looking for their underwater sounds—they’re amazing. I’m the only scientist on station, so I’m hanging out with 24 “traddies.” These are the people who keep the station alive during the winter, mainly mechanics who run the station on diesel.

Ian: So is this a popular holiday spot, then? When I come out there for three weeks’ vacation, what can I expect?

Phil: Freezing your ass off, really.

Ian: [Chuckles] Love it, love it. So you’re away from everything, from the whole of civilization—is that the appeal, as well?

Phil: Ian, I got a good comparison for you. You were in Greenland and you probably brought your film crew everywhere and you hung out with some Inuit. I know Greenland, I’ve been there. Imagine being in the middle of Greenland with no green—just the ice parts of it. No Inuit. Nothing. And someone decided to set up a station there and live there. Got it?

Ian: Yeah. Part of it appeals to me big-time and part of me says don’t touch it with a barge pole

[Laughter, everyone talking at once].

Ian: And there you are freezing your nuts off!

Alex: Ian, you told me that some of your favourite places in the world have been Greenland and Easter Island, where you’re completely isolated and away from much of civilization. So what do you find so appealing about this?

Ian: Just to be away from all the hustle and bustle because it’s so bloody alien to everything you know, anything you’ve seen before. And it is madness—even up in northern Canada. They’re all lunatics. Lunatics. [Everybody laughing]

Ian: Do you guys get vistors?

Traddie 1: We’re expecting a ship in about three weeks’ time.

Ian: With women?

Traddie 1: Unfortunately, no one will be getting off. It’s a Russian ship that we won’t be able to see. It will only make it within 200 kilometres of the coast and then they’ll fly in the new summer crew.

Ian: How cold does it actually get?

Traddie 1: We got a Met guy here, hold on one sec.

Meteorological guy: Well it goes down to minus 29-ish. And with the windchill factor it’s about minus 55. That’s Celsius, none of this Fahrenheit rubbish.

Ian: Do you have to take your shit back with you? [laughter] Like take it in a little bag back to Australia and spread it all over?

Traddie 2: Actually, on station it gets treated and then pumped out into the ocean here.

Phil: Hey Ian, I saw your UBC talk—I’m from Victoria, British Columbia.

Ian: You were there? Woooooooo! [laughter]

Phil: Hey, small world, small world. How did you like Victoria, by the way?

Ian: I only managed to get to the glove-blowing factory…so I only got a look-around but with a helicopter.

Ian: It sounds like a zoo over there.

Phil: Oh, yeah we got all sorts of wildlife here.


Alex: Phil, can you do some of the seal calls you study?

Phil: Okay, first of all I’ll give you the sound of the baby moose calling to the mama moose: Wooap! Wooap! Wooap! [laughter] Then this is the sound of the mama moose telling the baby moose that everything’s going to be okay: Wooap! Wooap! Wooap! [laughter] And this is the sound of the papa moose saying to the baby moose that mama moose has heard your call and everything is going to be OK: Wooap! Wooap! Wooap! [Laughter]

Alex: Phil, tell us, you record some of these sounds—

Phil: Ooooooooooooowap! Wooap! Wooap! And that’s underwater.

Alex: So what does that mean when the seal’s making that sound? Ian, is it still appealing to live in Antarctica with these guys?

Ian: Well, I feel like I’m there already! It’s great.

Alex: OK, how ‘bout for a last thing, each of us describe what we’re looking at as we’re talking on the phone. I’m sitting here in Toronto, in the news editor’s office on campus. It’s 3:43 p.m. and about 18 degrees Celsius with a clear blue sky—nice autumn day.

Ian: I’m looking at myself in the mirror right now…really, I’m sitting in the front room. It’s been a long day. There’s a fireplace, a plant, I’ve got me smokes. It’s a bit nippy outside but I love it.

Phil: I’m sitting in the Dog Room, which is the memorabilia room of the husky station—they used to run dogs out here at Mawson. There’s nine of us and we’re all wearing wigs and G-strings and we’re playing guitar.

Ian: I’m coming over there!


Alex: OK guys, I have to end it there before my telephone budget busts.

Thanks for doing this. Phil, I’ll give you a call back after I get off the phone with Ian.

Phil: Ooooooooooooooowap!

Ian: Cheers guys. It was fun.

End of transmission.

King’s College road gets a makeover

King’s College Road, Knox College walk and Sir Daniel Wilson walk are getting ready to shed their dreary attire for a new look.

The primary focus of the construction, which began on Sept. 23 and will continue until mid-January 2003, is to establish the rights of the pedestrian. To reduce car use, the width of the road will be decreased, leaving only a single vehicle lane sandwiched by pedestrian walkways. The asphalt will be tossed in favour of paving stones.

“The decision [for construction] was made according to how to balance pedestrian movement, parking, its use for convocating and gathering and for passive recreation,” said Gail Shillingford, a consultant at Urban Strategies, the company involved in the overall design of the project. “There had to be a priority of these things. One of the things we felt was highest on this list of elements was that it was a student space and not a car space.”

The area will also be decked out in new lamp standards, black granite paving stones, and greenery. The entrance will be marked by a stone gate with pillars.

“[Redoing King’s College Road] will make the area more academic, more of a campus environment,” said Ron Pansino, the project manager. “The bonus will be getting the cars off. There will be increased places to sit and you will have no parked cars around you.”

Shillingford, however, doesn’t forecast any such benefits, “There will be no immediate benefits other than that it is one of the major passageways…I personally don’t think it will make much of a difference. You have to look at it as part of a bigger picture.”

This bigger picture is called the Open Space Master Plan, a long-term endeavor to beautify the St. George campus. As part of this endeavour, the makeover of King’s College Road will draw from the plan’s $4.6 million budget, financed by the university and private donors.

The effort also will serve as an incentive for prospective students. As the ceremonial entrance to the university, many potential students get their first impression of U of T from King’s College Road. And as Shillingford said, first impressions usually make or break whether a student will attend a university.

The makeover will also serve to attract alumni. Said Michael Finlayson, Vice President of Administration and Human Resources from 1991-2001, “We’re doing this work [on King’s College Road] as an incentive springboard for future donations.” The project will serve as a model to entice potential donors to invest in future projects.

These future projects are included in the Open Space Master Plan, of which the current construction is phase one. The plan, which was inspired by the overhaul of St. George Street, targets open spaces on campus.

It aims to establish pedestrian links between east and west campus and to connect existing and future green spaces in an effort to link the various colleges. The plan also emphasizes reducing the prominence of cars in favour of student movement and congregation.

“We’re redoing the university for beauty and for wholeness,” said Finlayson. “Many people thought the Open Space Master Plan made the university a better place and will make it a safer place as well by banishing cars.”

Israeli physician brings hope to Mideast conflict

Begin to heal political conflicts by healing people’s bodies, said a prominent Israeli physician who spoke at U of T about the conflict in the Middle East.

On Sept. 19, Dr. Rivka Carmi visited the University of Toronto to give a lecture on the role academics have in promoting peace between Arabs and Israelis.

Dr. Rivka Carmi is the dean of medicine at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev Israel. She is also the first female dean of medicine in the Middle East. She is also part of the Visiting Professors for Peace Program, part of the Isabel Silverman Canada International Scientific Exchange Program (CISEPO).

CISEPO is a non-governmental organization, working with Mount Sinai Hospital and the University of Toronto to lead collaborative health programs between Israelis, Jordanians and Palestinians to promote cooperation, understanding, mutual respect, friendship—and ultimately peace—between these countries.

Carmi gave examples of how academics have contributed to the health and education of the Negev Bedouin population, issues that politics and weapons have failed to resolve.

She said the infant mortality rate among the Negev Bedouin population has been on the rise in recent years due to birth defects as a result of marriages within families.

The role of CISEPO is to train locals to run community-based programs to help educate and increase knowledge among the population, and to promote prenatal testing, she said.

CISEPO also has many other projects, such as the Israeli and Palestinian Diabetes Project and newborn hearing screening involving Israelis, Jordanians and Palestinians.

It is the goal of CISEPO to rise above the current political climate in the Middle East with the aid of academic institutions to address the many medical and health issues that exist in the region today, she said.

Unfortunately, as Carmi pointed out, the impact these collaborative programs have on peacemaking between the countries has been very small.

But Dr. Carmi remained optimistic, and concluded her lecture by quoting from John F. Kennedy: “We should not let our fears prevent us from pursuing our hopes and from trying to make them come true.”