Captain, your storyline is highly illogical

Nail-biting. Emotional. And was that Kirk-slash-Spock fan service I saw? It was a great summer to be a nerd with releases like Man of Steel, Iron Man 3 and Wolverine, and of course Trekkies rejoiced when Star Trek received a sequel to its 2009 release.

Star Trek: Into Darkness follows the rule-bending Captain Kirk (Chris Pine), and the crew of the starship Enterprise, including the all-important Mr. Spock (Zachary Quinto), after they’re recalled back to Earth, only to encounter a new threat from inside their very own organization. Kirk almost loses the Enterprise, a mysterious man turns out to be Khan, tribbles are useful for once and Scotty goes drinking.

A still from Star Trek: Into The Darkness. From YouTube.

But, as is the territory of movies based on series with dedicated fan bases, the movie had its pros and Khans (cons). On the upside, Benedict Cumberbatch plays the role of Khan. Enough said. There’s also a lot of toying with the fans’ emotions, which sounds cruel, but is actually quite fun once viewers get over the initial shock of Scotty walking off and leaving the Enterprise, and the ship being brought to the brink of destruction. The fight scenes, although sprinkled in, are a good watch and there are obvious tidbits in the movie from the 1982 Star Trek II: Wrath of Khan, which can make fans feel like a little kid reliving those moments over again.

Unfortunately that does lead to one of the biggest cons in the movie. The Wrath of Khan inserts were enjoyable, but one line in particular is used out of context in a way that makes it feel almost wrong: Kirk’s iconic “KHAAAAAN” is flipped and ascribed to Spock. While it helps move Into Darkness’ story along, it’s a perverted twist on the Star Trek storyline on multiple levels. Spock continues to have inconsistent and illogical emotional outbursts. In one scene he is beating-in Kirk’s face, in the next, Spock is bemoaning his death.

Additionally, there’s an obvious use of foreshadowing which damaged, though not completely ruined, the climax at the end of the movie. Without giving too much away, tribbles (the lovely creatures from the episode “Trouble with Tribbles”) seemed to be thrown in just to prove the fact that Khan’s blood not only held special properties that helped make him demi-god-like, but could also bring the dead back to life. From that point on it wasn’t hard to see that regardless of whatever happened by the end, no one who sacrificed themselves to save the ship would stay dead for long.

Also, not enough Klingons.

All in all, if you’re looking for a good, entertaining movie to kill a few hours, you’ll definitely enjoy Into Darkness, especially if you’re a fan of the series and understand the character ties and references. However if you’re a hardcore fan looking for a storyline-accurate prologue to the series, you may find yourself shifting uncomfortably in your seat wondering if the tribbles, in addition to being featured in the film, had a significant role in writing the script as well.

Star Trek: Into Darkness comes out on DVD September 10, 2013.



Cursive writing: a romantic art or a useless hassle?

Cursive writing has been under scrutiny lately. Is it a useless skill to have in a technology-driven world or is it a form of writing that should be preserved for the sake of keeping some type of handwriting in the curriculum? The Concordian looks at the pros and cons of cursive writing, and whether or not it should be preserved in the future.

Pro: The value in reviving a dying art

Catlin Spencer
Staff writer

In grade school, there were workbooks and piles of stencil sheets that were supposed to be filled out in an attempt to learn cursive writing. The problem was, our school gave very little priority to learning cursive; our teacher wasn’t given enough time to thoroughly grade our work, there were never any follow-ups and it was never used in any of the higher grades. Because of that, the majority of the students were able to forget cursive writing with little to no reprimand. Our school focused primarily on the new upcoming technology, and writing classes were replaced with keyboard lessons. I never learned proper cursive writing, and I’ve regretted it ever since not just because I can’t write well in cursive, but because my handwriting in general has suffered. It’s a slippery slope from eliminating cursive to losing handwriting to an over-reliance on technology – a fate that may be in store for future students if more schools decide to end handwriting classes like the principal of innovative teaching for Parkland School Division in Edmonton.

There are the times when things have to be handwritten, and not just scrawled, legibly enough to be read by anyone. For example, technology is not infallible; computers crash and deadlines are unforgiving. It may happen that work has to be written by hand. Also, final exams at Concordia, with the exception of take-home exams, must be handwritten and there are teachers that prohibit the use of laptops and tablets while requiring that students take notes. While no one else has to read a student’s notes, it would be embarrassing not being able to read your own writing, and even more so to lose marks on an exam because no one could read your answer.

Call it old-fashioned, but handwritten letters have always had a personal touch that you just can’t get with pixels and ink-jet printers. Whether it’s a thank you note or a love letter, no matter the font, it won’t have the same impact of a paper where each letter of every word was a done by the careful stroke of a pen or pencil. People appreciate the thought, and the time taken.

There is, however, hope for the art of script.

In an opposite measure than schools in Edmonton, a House panel in Idaho unanimously approved a bill in that would require public schools to teach cursive handwriting. The decision pointed to research that showed that handwriting courses help with visual recognition, refining motor skills and increases interest and capabilities in creative arts. There was also much concern over the possible loss of being able to read cursive, leading to a time when people will not be able to read old diaries, journals and important documents written in cursive. Generations of information could be lost, and we would become disconnected from a part of our past.

For these reasons, it would be a shame and a bad idea to eliminate handwriting from the curriculum in schools. It would mean the loss of an artform and a major blow to the quality of handwriting in general.

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Con: Out with the old and in with the technology

Robin Della Corte
Assistant news editor

When I was 10-years-old, hours and hours were devoted to mastering my lowercase k’s, z’s and uppercase G’s. Now, in a day of technology, these hours seem to have been wasted stressing over my cursive writing.

Today, more and more teachers have taken out cursive writing practice from their curriculum and replaced it with teaching students keyboarding and other computer-based communication.

Having only used my cursive writing skills in elementary school, I couldn’t be happier that teachers are finally realizing just how useless cursive writing has become.

George Couros, the principal of innovative teaching for Parkland School Division in Edmonton, told CTV News that both technology and literacy are developing but that “we need to really focus on what we do in school to help kids connect with the world.”

Going into highschool, I thought all my assignments would be handed in using cursive writing only, as my elementary teachers had prepared me. To my surprise, this wasn’t the case.

While I do recall having to give in a few handwritten assignments in my first year of high school, I’ve used my computer through high school, college and now, university.

In his letter to The Gazette, Robert Marcogliese argued that reading newspapers, instruction manuals, information documents, novels, university textbooks, Facebook, maps or even greeting cards, he “finds it impossible to remember any recent occasion when [he] had to read cursive text, or to practice [his] cursive writing skills.” The only time he remembers cursive is when signing cheques, which he believes will eventually become obsolete.

I don’t see the point in forcing children to learn a completely old-fashioned style of writing, when most teachers prefer students to hand in submissions which are typed.

It is a far better use of a child’s time to learn something undeniably useful to them, such as computer science and typing techniques.

There are some classes in college and university where teachers prefer if you take handwritten notes, but this hardly requires the perfection of each standardized letter.

When students are taking down notes while the teacher is speaking,few even bother trying to make it look neat. All they care about is getting the information down, and rightly so.

Ask yourself, when is your child ever going to use cursive writing? To write a fancy letter? No, because now, if you want to send a letter or message to your friend, it’s called an email or a text message.

I’m not saying to abolish learning to write by hand all together, but I think cursive writing should be excluded from elementary curriculums which should be updated in order to coincide with the times and to benefit children in the future.

Graphic by Jennifer Kwan


Lincoln will make you laugh and cry

Press photo for Steven Spielberg’s biographical film, Lincoln

From the looks of it, there’s an Abraham Lincoln craze going on. Six months ago, Timur Bekmambetov and Tim Burton brought us Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter; a horror and action film based on the novel of the same name. In this take on the Abraham Lincoln story, the narrator supposedly possesses a secret diary detailing Honest Abe’s life as if he were a male, top-hat wearing version of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

While the probability of Lincoln fighting the undead can be put up for debate, Steven Spielberg’s biographical film, Lincoln, is based on historical accounts of the president’s fight for equality and the passing of the Emancipation Proclamation that would officially abolish slavery.

This historical drama follows Lincoln (played by Daniel Day-Lewis) in his final sprint to pull together the votes he needs to abolish slavery and end the war, while dealing with a less-than-perfect home life.

His wife, Mary (played by Sally Field), is still grief stricken over the premature death of their son, William and is plagued by incurable headaches. Lincoln’s beloved eldest son, Robert (played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt) defies both his parents’ wishes when he decides to join the war, causing further grief to both his parents. At one point, Mary lashes out at Lincoln, blaming him for her unconsoled grievance and accusing him of only remaining with her because of Robert.

Meanwhile, Lincoln is endlessly encouraging his men to scrounge up the last 20 votes needed to pass the 13th amendment to the constitution, while both the Democrats and his own Republican party try to convince him that it’s pointless. There is a very visible strain on Lincoln as he juggles war, politics and home-life while trying to keep himself, his party and his people optimistic.

Cinematography-wise, the use of natural lighting, having the actors lit by light coming in from windows and lamps, while harsh in some situations and dark in others, plays well to the mood of the era and film. The high contrast created also adds a certain artistic flair, sharpening expressions and adding grit.

There are also several beautiful scenes in which not a single word is said. One such scene is of Lincoln and his youngest son Tad, where the camera work says more than words ever could about Lincoln being and having the time to be a caring father-figure as well as a powerful political leader. Near the beginning of the film, Lincoln finds Tad asleep in front of the fireplace and lays down next to him to wake him and carry him to bed. A heartwarming scene that shows the man as not only a dedicated leader but also a caring parent.

The story follows not only Lincoln in his day-to-day work of meeting with fellow politicians, meeting with soldiers, giving speeches, working in war-rooms, but it also follows his men at work in the field, debating and watching debates in the House and sometimes just discussing the possibilities of the future amongst themselves. In reality, there were a lot of people involved in the passing of the Emancipation Proclamation, meaning there are a lot of characters to follow in the film, which may play into why the movie was so very long.

There is quite a bit of monologues and political dialogue, but it is well balanced with, believe it or not, humour, such as the old-school political mud-slinging and slander in the House between the Republicans and Democrats, which makes for good comedy.

Day-Lewis expertly goes from laid-back Lincoln to motivational-presidential-speech Lincoln to Stuart-McLean-this-reminds-me-of-a-story-Lincoln in nothing flat. The latter often giving Lincoln’s men, and the audience, a good laugh.

That being said, viewers may find the film a bit of an emotional roller-coaster, going from serious to humorous to sad several times throughout the film.

Despite the two and a half hour length and the inevitable, tragic ending, Lincoln is a blockbuster. The acting is captivating, the camera work is fantastic and the mix of Lincoln’s light-hearted quirky stories and the seriousness of the subject matter is just enough to keep the historical biography from being dry.

Watch the trailer for Lincoln:


New Briefs

City in brief
by Kalina Laframboise and Catlin Spencer

It’s not a girl, it’s a chief executive officer

After nine months of steering the Montreal University Health Centre, Normand Rinfret was named permanent chief executive officer of the operation after a unanimous decision by the board of directors. Rinfret stepped up following the former CEO Arthur Porter’s resignation. Porter left amid accusations of shady business dealings and criticisms from other board members. Rinfret’s worked for MUHC since 1979 and is now leading the superhospital project slated to finish in 2014.

The next Ryan Gosling?
“Hey girl,” croons Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois as he stares into the eyes of a blonde who sits across from him on a park bench. He may no longer be a leader of the student strike movement but he has been keeping busy by avoiding kidnappers known as Le Rabbit Crew. The aforementioned crew posted a video on YouTube on Sept. 5 which already has more than 48,000 views. Similar to Anonymous, Le Rabbit Crew don bunny masks while fighting the tuition hike and claim to be “you, him, her, in the hearts of strikers, an idea; we do not forgive, we do not forget, prepare yourselves!”

Introducing Bell-flix
As part of it’s plan for the acquisition of Astral media, Bell will be launching it’s own version of Netflix to compete with, asides from Netflix itself, other big online television and entertainment U.S. providers like Apple, Google and Amazon. Bell’s “made-in-Canada” version will play media in French and English and will contribute back to Canadian programming unlike Netflix which does not pay taxes in Canada. While it hasn’t been said when or how much the service will cost, Bell CEO George Cope did say that the service will be available to all Canadians through any cable, satellite or online television service provider.

Give us the data already!
The federal government has been ordered by the courts to hand over records gathered about Quebec’s gun registry to the provincial government. Judge Marc-Andre Blanchard ruled that the data could not be viewed as strictly ‘federal’, and that Quebec has the right to have it. Quebec courts accused the federal government of violating conventions of Canadian federalism and gave them 30 days to turn over the registry data. However, the issue is expected to be brought before the Supreme court of Canada and the legal battle to continue.

* * *

Nation in brief
by Elizabeth Tomaras

Canada and Iran break it off
Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird announced the Harper administration’s decision to sever ties with Iran on Sept. 7, explaining that there were significant concerns of terrorism and the safety of Canadian diplomats in the region. Canadian diplomats will return home, while Iranian diplomats have until Sept. 12 to leave Canada. Baird also cited the state’s refusal to adhere to United Nations guidelines concerning their nuclear development program, along with its anti-Israel stance. Iranian-Canadians are being redirected to Turkish consulates and embassies for any concerns they may have.

Victoria Police investigate free baby offer
Police are investigating an unusual online advertisement offering an infant for sale in Victoria, British Columbia. The posting provided a photo of the baby, offering it for free because of “times are hard” and was quickly reported to Victoria authorities by individuals pursuing the website Monday. The advertisement was removed from the Used Victoria website, that boosts used goods, and is now under investigation. Victoria Police are trying to track down the parents and confirm that the child is safe.

Man charged in Toronto dismemberment case
Chun Qi Jiang of Toronto sat in a Brampton, Ont. courtroom on Monday, Sept. 10. He has been charged with the murder and dismemberment of his estranged ex-girlfriend Guang Hua Liu whose body parts were discovered Aug. 15. Not all of Liu’s parts have been found. Jiang was not previously known to police however became a prime suspect once Liu’s remnants were uncovered. Jiang was arrested on Sunday, Sept. 9 in his hometown.

Making the best of a stormy situation
With Hurricane Leslie’s impending havoc on the maritimes, one group of enthusiasts are grabbing their gear and heading out – and it isn’t the storm chasers. “This is a pretty big event,” said David Hamp-Gonsalves, a surfer who hangs ten in Cow Bay on the eastern shore of Nova Scotia. The approaching severe weather is causing waves more than three metres high. Hurricane Michael is also set to make landfall however meteorologists suspect Leslie will push him out.

* * *

World in brief
by A.J. Cordeiro

Talk about a hole-in-one
Golf is supposed to be a relaxing activity which allows players to blow off steam. In this case however, someone ended up blowing a gasket. Jeff Fleming, 53, is accused of opening fire on two men on a golf course in Reno, Nevada. He was reportedly upset after a stray golf ball broke a window of his home overlooking a golf course. One man was shot during the incident, brought to hospital and then released Friday.

Good luck, Mittens
It’s that time of year again. With the Democratic National Convention closing last week, the campaigns are now in full swing, as voters and politicians alike are campaigning for votes. The much-anticipated American elections will take place on Nov. 6. Presidential candidate Mitt Romney suffered a recent drop in the polls following the DNC. Major issues will revolve around the economy (taxes, debt, and jobs), health care, same-sex marriage, the environment, abortion, and immigration.

So many bills, so little time
SOPA, PIPA, ACTA, and now TPP. The Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade agreement between a number of nations including Canada, Australia, Chile, and Singapore, has internet activists smashing their keyboards. Net-rights lobby groups are raising concerns over the TPP’s wording, which uses language heavily favouring intellectual property owners. Under the agreement, those charged with internet piracy could face punishments ranging from simple take-down notices all the way to requiring Internet service providers to cut off access. Activists and lobbyists alike have been working with a 2011 leaked edition of the agreement, as the actual agreement remains sealed.

What will they think of next?
The iPhone 5 was officially announced this week. This is the first smartphone release since Apple co-founder Steve Jobs’ passing. The phone boasts the ability to run on LTE carriers (faster than 3G), and will include several other upgrades including a taller screen, a RAM boost for better app functionality, and a thinner design. The recently released iOS 6 will take full advantage of the new capabilities. Other releases by the technology giant will include new iPod Touches, Nanos and Shuffles.

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