Beyond the prism of heteronormativity

To My Children explores the challenges that same-sex parents face


Tales from Abroad: Osaka Love Letter

Exchange isn’t just about studying, but growing together

It’s been a while, but it’s great to be back home.

As I finish writing this piece, I’m safe and sound, but exhausted. This dose of the flu has increased my distaste for this sub-zero weather, and now I’m craving sugar-infused caffeine.

The habits I’ve become so accustomed to are coming back. Gone are the days where I can buy a pair of delicious rice balls (onigiri) and a canned coffee between class periods, or hear that eerily Westminster-themed eight-tone Japanese bell that heralds the start and end of a long school session.

But with all of this nostalgia slipping away from my memory, I digress.

It’s been weeks since I returned to Montreal and the chaotic rush of the winter term is underway. It’s surreal to be riding on these retro blue-hued subway cars and hearing unsolicited random conversations of mixed English and French on the side. While I’m happy to be here, I still yearn for the little details that I’ve gotten so used to in my daily commute living in Japan: those catchy melodic jingles played in-between stations, those futuristic touch-screen ticket machines, the variety of people I see—from the kinds of the suit-and-tie businessmen to the flawlessly fashionable youth—all scrambling to get to their destination (not to mention those friendly and super-accurate train announcements).

Talk about reverse culture shock.

Last fall, I lived as an exchange student in this small, cozy, town of Hirakata, a corridor town between Osaka and Kyoto in Western Japan. The school was Kansai Gaidai—a global university with a local Japanese flavor, housing a student population of 15,000 or so. It was a surprise for me to be chosen alongside fellow Concordia students to fly over and study there. Words cannot suffice how different everything was, from the architecture, to the lifestyle, and—perhaps what stood out for me the most—the hospitality and attitude of the student community.

Within the confines of the classroom, for someone who had minimal experience of learning Japanese, the language classes were intensive, challenging, and stimulating. The lecture courses helped us reflect on the social issues happening in Japan and in Asia within a global context. With extra-curricular activities, meetups, and other related social events on top of that, it is not surprising that student life can be hectic and sometimes stressful in Japan.

I’m thankful that everyone has been extremely supportive, in good times and bad times. The student community is what makes Japan unique—because despite how challenging things can be, it’s reassuring that everyone’s got each other’s back.

From the students—Japanese and foreign—to the teachers, and to the people I meet everyday:  there is a genuine desire from all to learn from each other in a strangely euphoric way that I’ve never seen before and is hard to put in words.

Everytime I walked onto campus and into the glass-walled student lounge of Building 7, I always witnessed the space evolve into a makeshift meeting spot for students from around the world to chat about virtually anything under the sun. For instance, a five-minute conversation about cats with a friend can turn into a two-hour discussion about how youth from other countries aspire to survive in difficult times. There’s tension, there’s seriousness, and there’s a willingness to listen and understand; but there’s also laughter, spontaneity and fun that I’ll admit I truly miss seeing, witnessing and participating in. They sort of resemble those 18th century coffeehouses in Europe—except that instead of newspapers, they have smartphones: exchanging contacts, swapping photos and arranging times to hang out outside school.

It’s these random conversations, no matter how mundane, no matter what language, that becomes the catalyst in forming and fostering deep friendships. We may be students by occupation, but we’re also the youth who are on the crossroads of carving our own paths, our own futures—and hopefully, something better than the status quo, together. It’s this forward looking point-of-view that really got me, and it’s something that I’m currently trying to integrate in what I do everyday back home. I can only do so much, but I can try.

Living in Japan is a wild, challenging, and fulfilling journey into the unknown and unpredictable. You never know what’s in store, but there’s never a dull moment. There’s an outburst of energy, life, and enthusiasm that’s injected into everything. It breaks away from the norm of what we’ve been so used to. It doesn’t matter if your Japanese is bad or your English is good or vice-versa: it’s that collective desire and strong interest for everyone to connect that’s important. It is this sense of community that makes this journey all worthwhile, and even now that most of us exchange students have already returned to our own home countries, I remain optimistic that this will not be the end of our journey and our friendship.

There’s a reassurance that wherever you are in the world, you’re not alone. There are people who have a great heart and desire to support each other for a better future. I guess it’s that sense of hope that we may so often forget, and it gives me much more faith in humanity than I ever had.

While I am still experiencing a distorted sense of homesickness, I still look forward to sitting down to take a bite of a sweet icy maple-flavored taffy in the spring. Except this time, I hope that I will not be alone, but together with the newfound friends I made in Japan and around the world. We all continue to grow and move forward beyond the four walls of the classroom, and into the ever unpredictable future in store for all of us.


The legendary tale of Space-Chap

Written by: Andy Fidel, Jocelyn Beaudet, Milos Kovacevic and Saturn De Los Angeles

“Tally-ho gents!” the Englishman’s voice boomed in the auditorium.

Graphic Jenny Kwan

Our hero of the hour, the one and only Space-Chap, puffed on his electronic pipe as the murmurs of the audience died out.

The delightful gentleman twirled his moustache, adjusted his brown tweed jacket and cleared his throat. Amazingly enough, Victorian fashion had not gone out of style in the year 3000 like many predicted in the great hipster revolution of 2020. But this event was not about style, nor the proclamation of enjoyment before popularity. Rather, this was good ole fashioned storytime with some chums.

Today’s tale is of the greatest adventure that Space-Chap had ever undergone: meeting the evil space-god, whose name none dare speak.

“Now if you would please insert the spinal whirlygig into your interface sockets, we can begin this great tale once-anew, yes?” Space-Chap told the crowd.

The neural transmitters and nano-machines of the memory-imaging machine (trademarked to none other than Space-Chap himself) would give the audience an extrasensory experience, in order that they might  relive every moment of the chap’s delightful adventure.

Of course, the audience began hooking up the device to the tiny hole drilled into the back of their necks.

“If there are no questions then?” Chap asked, walking towards the enormous contraption on the side of the stage.

“I have one!” a tiny, impish man from the back of the crowd exclaimed. Our hero met his gaze quizzically, but said nothing.

“What is the name of this beast whose name you refuse to reveal?”

“Well, I dare not say, sir. The very pronunciation would curl your hairs before they fall out of your head, your eyes would melt. Each syllable of its evil name would doom another generation of your kin, and I warn you good sir, it’s name is endless, like the darkest recesses of the universe folded upon themselves into a single being,” Chap said, his eyes staring off into space.

“So you don’t know its name then?” the impish man asked.

“I didn’t feel the need to ask. We weren’t exactly out at a dinner party, exchanging pleasantries over tea, crumpets.”

All the chums collectively leaned back in their chairs. The spinal whirlygigs began to heat up as images of a boy holding a rocket launcher appeared in their minds’ eye. This was rapidly intercut with moments of static.

“Don’t you move,” said a boy’s voice. “Or I’ll shoot.”

Meanwhile, space-chap continued to tap his way across the stage. Making frequent clicking noises with his tongue. A smile creased the old man’s face like a rotten apple when his cane hit the contraption. He opened the safety latch — Click — and held a finger over the red button.

“I mean it,” said the boy. “I will shoot.”

The helmet was far too big for the boy. He had to tilt his head back to see from underneath. And the leather straps were too tight. Pinched his chin whenever he took aim. The boy shut his left eye, listening to the war outside his home. The splatter of machine guns and the rumble of tanks that made pebbles dance and the ground tremble under his feet. Right eye fixed on his opponent: the large chalk drawing on the kitchen wall. A tall, lanky beast with a large appetite for trees.

Ka-Poosh! Ka-Poosh! Ka-Poosh!

He puffed his cheeks out and blew air through his fish-lips at every dull click. A light chuckle caught his attention. The boy’s mother shook her head as she passed him and headed straight for the faucet on the wall. She plunged her hands under the water, scrubbed and said “Who you shooting at, Chap?”

Red water and a pair of teeth slipped into the sewer grate.

“The evil space-god.”

The evil space-god was oozing out from its little cocoon it had nurtured from the tonnes of industrial waste it had been eating. They were accumulated from an extinct artificial garbage island in the middle of the ocean that used to exist centuries ago. Those machine guns and heavy artillery were leftover armour from a bygone Fourth Millenium war that was dumped on to that smelly isle.

Carrying a venomous, phosphorous-coloured and dangerously hot acidic substance from its dozen of voluptuous disgustingly morphed tentacles that complemented its scary physique, the vicious monster went on a marathon spewing a gallon’s worth of this substance on its desired target — the young, rebellious, handsome lad.

“Mom, don’t look, let’s run!” the boy hollered, drenched from all of the cleaning sludge that was left undone.

“What the hell are you trying to do? Don’t be a reckless jerk! We need to dig ourselves out of here,” argued the mother, who was exerting her last inkling of energy left.

In a desperate and unnecessary move, the boy latched away from his mom’s hand and pulled out a really strange looking ancient plastic toy instrument from his bag.

It was a magenta-coloured keyboard guitar, keytar for short. Adorned with enamel-coloured hearts decorated all over, it was one of those odd fusion instruments from the modern Renaissance of the 1980’s. He played a disgusting teeth-seething melody that he learned when he was in elementary, reminiscent of autotune-infested music sung by the fallen western pop divas of the early 2030’s.

Irritating as one would expect it to sound, the chords coming from the keytar was emitting this supersonic power. Something that was 80 and a half millihertz strong. Something that the space-god, who had a penchant for really distasteful music, had a fond weakness for.

All those generations listening to his mom’s ancient and uncool vinyl records were beginning to pay off.

“Take that, you stinking piece of crap!” he exclaimed in an odd moment of euphoria equivalent to a musical orgasm, except he was having a ball killing that beast.

The space-god began to melt away, something that no one was expecting to happen.

The impish man frowned inwardly, initiating cascades of ripples on the projection screens that were his eyelids. Something was odd. He attempted to banish the sights, to no avail. The images refused to vacate his neural pathways, refused to give way to the locals.

“No, this isn’t right at all,” he said, recoiling.

He had partaken of reminiscences enough to know this choppiness, this disjointed static, narration was a roll of forged, flat consciousness. Had he experienced a single odor, a single texture through the young protagonist’s hands? If this was story-time, its teller was a mute.

To add to his umbrage was the image of the keytar, that shameful vocation of his in the theatre days before he had reinvented himself as a gentleman. The spinal whirligig, not content with being a fraudulent contraption, was actively co-opting of his own memories, pushing him Persian rugs woven with tawdry threads. Could the others see what he saw, or did they all hear a distinct song tailored exclusively for them by the false minstrel whispering inside their head?

“Trumpery! Trumpery I say!” he yelled, reaching backwards to clear his neural port. But his arms did not obey, tied as they were. Violently he shook his head until the thing fell out and the show’s curtains rose to no applause.

And what a site to find oneself in! The rumbling, interpreted as tanks, was actually the humming of an enormous contraption on the stage, next to Space-Chap.

Too late, he felt something dislodge and slip by the pocket fabric, leaving a lightness about his heart. And then, like sperm racing to the egg, the chain-tailed ovals embedded themselves one after another in the gigantic magnet, from each and every one of the crowd, all but him still sedated and constrained by the armchair cuffs.

“Fraud!” he bellowed, regretting his naiveté. The brave, illustrious Space-Chap? No! Rather, a travelling charlatan with an eye for the pinnacle of Victorian masculinity: pocket watches.

“Why, Space-Chap? Why have you done this to us?”

“My good man,” said the caned shape, smoking his pipe. “They say time is money, and I expect a good return for putting on a show. But if you must truly know, I will tell you!”

And he began:

“It’s simple, gents. There always was an evil, nameless space-god. He feasts not on the souls of the young, the minds of the bright, or the complicated four dimensions of Euclidian geometry. Rather, it feeds on time, quite literally !” Space-Chap chuckled at his own cleverness.

The tiny impish man, who once defiantly demanded to know the space-god’s name, was still unsatisfied with this conclusion.

“That’s absurd!” he croaked with the vocal range of a nail scraping a chalkboard. “If all an elder god would require to thrive is the eating of clocks, why would he employ such an uncivilized ruse?! You are lying to us good sir!”

The fraudulent Space-Chap considered this statement, squinting with growing ire at the man that had seen through his ruse from the start. Silence permeated the room like a thick fog, as the stunned (and restrained) audience awaited a rebuttal from the chap in front. Gripped by the notion that they would finally understand the reason for the insanity of his story, the perplexed and odd behaviour, the utterly gauche notion of feeding clocks to a monster.

And then, Space-Chap uttered the words that explained it all, as his eyes bulged out of his skull, revealing slinky-like springs.

“I totally did it for the lulz!” he laughed maniacally, before exploding into a pile of gears, bolts and steam.


Cinema Politica- Murder: racism and homophobia revisited

In 2008, 15-year-old Lawrence “Larry” King was shot during class. The murderer was Brandon McInerney, a boy that Larry asked to be his Valentine. The incident rattled the community of Oxnard, California, a small town of nearly 200,000. This ignited a national conversation on why racial and gender-provoked bullying exists among youth. Consequently, teachers, parents, mentors and the people in the justice system collectively scrambled to address this unfortunate event.

Still from YouTube

Valentine Road gives us the story behind the headlines. This 90-minute documentary immerses us into the controversial shooting by weaving together a balanced combination of narrative interviews as told by the people related to the young men in question and the case itself. The documentary also features archived television news footage talking about the incident and presents the viewers with scenic views of the town, creating an in-your-face, yet relatable kind of film.

What makes this documentary interesting to watch is how both sides of the case are presented. To illustrate King’s perspective of the incident, the filmmakers have represented him in a hand-drawn animation based on narratives told by the interviewees. The drawings portray King’s character in a nostalgic, light-hearted and respectful manner.

McInerney’s perspective is also told through accounts by guardians, teachers and his defence lawyers explaining how and what might have provoked the boy to commit this hate-crime.

One of several interesting turning points in the film presents viewers with the kind of readings McInerney was interested in before he committed the murder, mainly neonazi and white supremacy articles, as well as drawings made by McInerney himself of a hand clenching the Star of David, dripping with blood.

Putting together these two perspectives helps to assemble the pieces of the puzzle. However, it can also become an emotional watching experience, potentially triggering folks who are sensitive to issues regarding gender and race-provoked bullying.

The culture in which these two individuals lived was hostile to begin with and created a polarizing environment when it came to being, or even mentioning anything queer. California, at that time, was also at odds with state legislations regarding gender issues and their expression. Ultimately, the question remains as to why freely expressing one’s own gender can become a taunting experience, especially for teens that are experiencing a crucial time of self-discovery.

Still from YouTube

Valentine Road has no voice-over narrator per se, and relies on a well-thought out blend of ambient sound, vivid visuals and authentic storytelling making it easy to follow without any sensationalizing, and without being obnoxious.

Through these stories, Valentine Road points to LGBTQ issues still being addressed today from a unique and contemporary perspective. Watching this film has the potential to help push these discussions forward and understand where everyone stands.

However, it is highly suggested to learn more about the incident first online in order to gain a better understanding, as this film goes into a lot of detail into the origins of the main characters. Watching the documentary more than once also helps as there is a lot information to grasp. After all, this is a murder mystery that still needs (and still is in the process) of being solved and put to rest.

Valentine Road will premiere in Quebec by Cinema Politica on Mon. Feb. 3 at 7 p.m. at the D.B. Clarke Theatre — 1455 de Maisonneuve W. A virtual Q&A with director Marta Cunningham will be featured. This screening is a part of Black History Month Montréal. For more information visit



Fandom: Killing the creative for fanservice or a force too hard to ignore?

Killing the creative for fanservice

The artistic process is restricted when the only voices heard are those of the dissatisfied

By Jocelyn Beaudet

Everybody’s a critic when it comes to our favorite TV shows, movies, comics and even novels. Databases like IMDB and animedb are flooded with user reviews, ranging from a few words to several paragraphs; all this to say that fans have a voice.

Photo by writer.  Photo by M-Wade

The disturbing trend however, is that this voice has now begun shaping our sequels, new episodes and latest issues — in many cases fans are now influencing the development of the media we consume. This is a problem, and a very big one at that.

There’s a very clear breach of artistic vision being perpetrated by having fans actively alter the course of someone else’s ideas for the sake of retaining revenue from the source.

While some artists have made some decidedly questionable choices in the direction of their work — the Star Wars prequels for example — having fans directly involved in the process diminishes the value that these artists have in the expression and production of their material.

The result is having a project marred by a vocal minority, rather than pleasing a silent majority — people who don’t feel the need to change the direction of any particular piece of art will continue to sit by and consume it without a peep.

What would the “Mona Lisa” look like if everyone had their say? Where would the incredible Spiderman be if fans decided where Peter Parker ended up? How different would Lord of the Rings be if fans had a say in the direction?

Questions like these speak for themselves and easily make up one of the reasons to leave fans outside of the creative process. Whether it’s classic paintings, cult followed comic books, epic novels, or amazing TV series, these forms of media require tremendous amounts of work, and carefully calculated budgets, something that fans seldom consider when pitching their ideas for these changes.

Advent Children, a Final Fantasy movie made for fans, reinforces the point itself. The movie grossed terribly at the box office, and viewers not familiar with the franchise found themselves confused and simply taking in the sights.

While the movie did its best to accommodate a new audience, and was by no means a horrible experience, it failed to capture the same whimsy that those who enjoyed the original game had felt. The experience felt shallow, and some fans even found themselves unmoved by something so deliberately crafted by and for one another.

The artistic process is sacred, and while fans are definitely capable of wonderful, creative ideas, these are diamonds in the rough, buried in a sea of horrible fanfiction that should remain in the darker corners of the Internet.


The fandom ­— A force too hard to ignore

The fans have spoken: we want in on the creative action

By Saturn De Los Angeles

The development of the creative process in contemporary art can stagnate and even stay dry without the participation of fans in some form. They establish a community who not only rally and support the artists, but also help in pushing the boundaries of creativity.

Art is seen as an outlet of expression, whether that be a movie, a series, a video game, a song or even a comic book. It can pose a statement, provoke an emotion, or even prompt a call to action.

When people encounter a creative work and like it, they reach out to others who share the same interests. Some fans may even pursue activities to express that appreciation, including fan art, cosplay, creative fiction, and a variety of social events. This leads to the creation of communities that go beyond geographical boundaries.

This may just be how fan-­run anime conventions began to take shape over the past several decades,­ and within these congregations, creative people like voice actors, illustrators and musicians ­are noticed by production studios.

Free! Iwatobi Swim Club is a slice-­of-­life anime about a group of high school students who collectively want to start a swimming club. In early 2013, a brief clip of what would become the show was leaked on social media. The clip went viral in a short time for its ubiquitous content – attractively built guys with amazing hair and oddly effeminate names.

The clip turned heads and provoked buzz by online fans. The buzz prompted Kyoto Animation, a production studio in Japan known for producing stellar animated work such as The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya and Lucky Star, to develop and broadcast a 12-­episode television series based on the clip.

Hitting a little closer to home, the podcast “Welcome to Night Vale,” produced by Commonplace Books in New York, is also a show that has developed a loyal online following in a short time. The comedy series about the small creepy desert town as told from a community radio host became a runaway hit, combining humour and a sly dash of social commentary.

The successful series is now reeling with a potential spin­off literary novel in the works. The podcast has also provoked complex and, at times, intense online discussion that intersects gender, sexual orientation, race and representation.

These two examples are a few of many instances of how dedicated and involved these fandoms can be in expressing their appreciation,­ distaste or criticism for a piece of creative work.

Indeed, fans are the driving force for contemporary art. Fandom may not yet be the most efficient machine, but it is something that we cannot just set aside. They are as important as the artists themselves in keeping the stream of creativity going.

 [polldaddy poll=7732289]


Rich in fan-worthy goodies, lacks so much in substance

Bieber: known to be a famed Canadian export alongside Celine Dion, poutine and Rob Ford. He’s the youthful Internet-sensation turned colossal overnight pop-star.

Press photo

Bieber: a powerful force within the social media spectrum, and the pop-star who can’t seem to take a break from all of the online hate, or jealousy, or mob of fans out there viciously wanting to have a piece of him, literally and metaphorically.

Bieber: the once naive young singer from Stratford, infamous for his notorious but dangerously catchy lyrics of  “Oh Baby, baby, baby, ohhhhh…”

Singing along? Gotcha. But this isn’t a karaoke piece.

After all of the countless flops, from riding the Great Wall on a scooter to allegedly harassing his fans, to announcing that he would retire from public life, our little home-grown sweetheart brings us a documentary film which seems to show his good side — and that’s about it. The 90-minute film is called Believe.

The film kicks off with a candid moment of him playing a piano while he talks to people around him. The scene suddenly transitions to random footage of him performing on stage in front his many fans.

Moments later, you see him explaining on camera why he feels judged by many people, and why they should give him a chance. Then you add in a multitude of testimonials from famous contemporary pop artists in the American music business, and an unlimited number of streeter interviews from mostly teenage fans lining up to see one of his concerts. Stitch them all together like a worn-out patchwork quilt, and voila, there’s your documentary.

I wouldn’t really mind this kind of presentation, but chronologically speaking, it was all over the place. What makes this film really uncomfortable to watch is how it feels more like a public relations piece instead of a factual piece of intimate storytelling. When I think of music-related documentaries such as Michael Jackson’s This Is It, or Jukka Kärkkäinen’s The Punk Syndrome, I find an actual narrative of human beings — not musicians — talking about why they do music, how they’re passionate about music, and why music is important to them.

As a music fan, I acknowledge and respect people’s passion and enthusiasm for any artist they like. If you’re a Belieber, this is absolutely a resourceful audiovisual material to indulge in. But if you were hoping to see a candid conversation about an artist and the music that he makes, you will be left very disappointed.

Student Life

Podcasts affecting the airwaves of radio

When MTV first played “Video Killed the Radio Star” in the early ‘80s, no one knew how watching music videos would change the way we listen to music.

Fast forward to 2004 when former MTV VJ Adam Curry figured out a way to download online audio broadcasts to his music player for his listening pleasure. No one knew his personal project would change the way we listen to the radio.

In a wired age, “radio” shows can now be downloaded from the Internet. These shows are called podcasts. These little portable nuggets of audio are a blend of two words – the Apple iPod music player and the term “broadcasting.” A podcast’s length may be longer than your average MP3 track but shorter than your downloadable audiobook.

You can find a podcast for almost any subject matter, any length, in any language. They can be repeats from a live television or radio broadcast, a documentary, a verbal show, even a music program. Unlike in broadcast, the episodes can be sporadic, and can vary on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis.

Graphic by Jenny Kwan

Podcasts have been an essential ingredient in enriching our online experience of consuming and creating original content—from watching videos, to reading blogs and interacting with other people through social media. According to Paul Aflalo, there is a lot of great local material just waiting to be discovered.

Aflalo is one of the co-founders of No More Radio (NMR), a Montreal-based podcast network. The network began its operations in 2011 after finding out that its former show on CJLO, called “Edge of the City,” was gaining more online followers than its radio audience.

As a substantial growth in audience listenership developed, more original shows were added, ranging on various subject matters: arts, city life, local music and storytelling.

In a phone interview with Aflalo, he explained that the transition from being in radio to being online was not too difficult.

“The difference is that we miss CJLO, it was nice to have a studio set-up for us…but we also wanted to grow beyond that,” he said.

Since podcasts are not broadcasted live—they are recorded, edited and distributed on various platforms—he explains that there is more opportunity to fix any rough patches in the production process.

 Another advantage to producing them is the creative freedom to air unique programs.

“We don’t have commercial breaks, nor advertisers where we have to appeal to them every single time. We work based on the content and creativity that drives us,” he said.

It’s a win-win situation for a listener who can be really picky about what they want to listen to.

He explains that, “It’s just not about how technology is changing, but it’s about how you can create better things.”

As the popularity of podcasts continues to grow, the question remains on whether it’s here to stay.

“So [where will we be] in ten years from now? I have no idea. In five years from now, I have no idea,” he said.

Five podcasts you should check out

Podcasts may be mistakenly known as shows that you can simply download and sync to your iPod or iPhone. However, getting them on your mobile device or computer has now become as easy as ever.

Since online streaming has become the norm, you can find them easily on the web on sites such as TuneIn Radio or Podomatic. If you’re more of a road warrior, you can download a free smartphone app such as Podkicker (Android), the stock Podcasts app (iPhone) or specialty apps such as Mixcloud and Soundcloud to check out a catalog of shows to listen to. The best part is that it is absolutely free!

And while you’re searching, here’s some interesting picks that you should check out.


1) Welcome to Night Vale. Commonplace Books (Comedy/Music)


With new episodes twice a month in 30-minute segments, WTNV talks about oddities and strange sightings of the fictional dark desert town of Night Vale, through the voice of community radio host Cecil Baldwin. It’s part-storytelling, part-commentary, part-music. The series has acquired a huge fan following over this past summer because of its creepily unique charm. Don’t dare listen to it while you’re out late at night. Just saying.


2) Snap Judgment. NPR (Spoken Word/Music)


With new hour-long shows released on a weekly basis plus hundreds of episodes under its belt, Snap Judgment reinvents storytelling in a very creative way by blending together music, creativity and authenticity, while having fun at it. Host Glynn Washington weaves together and navigates you around several real-life stories focusing on a central theme.


3) 99% Invisible. Public Radio Exchange (Storytelling/Design)


This podcast talks about design in all of its aspects and how it affects our lives in ways we don’t even realize. On an almost weekly basis, host Roman Mars presents each story with his soothing voice and welcoming approach to design that encourages you to engage, learn and interact with it. The best part is that each episode is not overwhelming to listen to—with shows that range from five to 20 minutes each.


4) Daybreak Montreal Podcast. CBC Radio (News/Information)


Released on a daily basis all-year round, this podcast is an extension of CBC Montreal’s morning radio program Daybreak, hosted by Mike Finnerty. Just imagine yourself lounging at the coffee shop with the hosts talking about what happened in the day’s news, or how each columnists’ segment went on air; while listening to stories and interviews that aired on the live show. It’s a great listen if you’re travelling far away and need your local fix.


5) Wait, wait…Don’t Tell Me! NPR (News/Game/Comedy)


This show is a successful cross-section of news, comedy and gaming done well. It’s also perhaps one of the few successful news quiz programs on radio today. “Wait Wait!” is hosted by Peter Sagal, and legendary Public radio newscaster Carl Kasell. Together they test three comedians on their familiarity with the week’s news. It’s a great panacea whether you need to catch up on news you’ve missed, or when you need a good laugh after hearing of all the bad news.



Once upon a time, a witch and a boxer walked into an art gallery

Press photo

If you had a fond memory of home that you could recall, what would it be? Whether it’s moving from an old town or migrating to a new country, Filipino-Canadian artist Marigold Santos attempts to answer this question with her latest art exhibit, Coven Ring.

The Concordia MFA graduate infuses elements of Filipino pop culture with witchcraft and boxing and hashes them into something completely new, with her own creative charm. You’ll see lovely, colourful, eye-catching artworks that reflect her own childhood memories living in the Philippines.

“My work deals with the folklore of my youth before I moved to Canada. So I go back to that and I incorporate it with my Canadian experience,” said Santos. “There are also memories that are fictionalized when we tap into them […] we start to reinvent them and change them, to fit our own needs.”

Some of these memories include a mythological creature called the “aswang” – a very scary schizophrenic monster of vampire-like origin that’s out to devour you if you’re out late at night.

“If you’re a Filipino child, you know how it’s a method (by parents and elders) for social conditioning,” she said. “An aswang is a character that has multiple identities, and you can see that in my work.”

There is an illustration that resembles a headshot of a witch in the dark with only a flashlight underneath.Look closely and you see someone that resembles boxing icon Manny ‘Pac-Man’ Pacquiao.

Santos explains that in a conversation with her uncle as to why Pacquiao keeps winning boxing matches, her uncle told her that boxing champions carry an amulet around.

“What was beautiful to me was that getting strength from a mere object that has power interested me [as opposed to training for hours in the gym]. That spearheaded the idea of boxing and witchcraft together.”

The exhibit is sure to illicit curiosity and fun conversations whether you’re born in Canada or have moved from elsewhere. The welcoming nature of the exhibit shows just that.

“When I create my work, I really am intentionally putting ambiguity into it because that provides many points of interests and multiple points of entry for a viewer to come in and experience it themselves and interpret it in their own particular way,” said Santos.

The vibe from the crowd on opening night was very welcoming. From an unscientific estimation, there was a mix of locals, out-of-towners, and people from the Filipino community, all wanting to know about the stories behind each artwork. Santos was really enjoying everyone’s company as she skittered from one group to another swapping stories. It’s these conversations that she enjoys—in them she learns and connects.

“I made lots of different [friends]. I think that [it’s] great. You open up and make a dialogue, and have an exchange, and people have different backgrounds and different experiences As an art maker you just want to have communication, and I think that’s what’s achieved,” she added.

Santos further explains that not just as a Filipino-Canadian, but a person who has moved from one place to another, she believes that our heritage is important to who we are.

“Picking and choosing and knowing what you want to hang on to is important too. You have to be open to that, stay true to yourself and then love your surroundings. It’s a delicate balance you have to play around with.”

Coven Ring is held until Nov. 24 at articule – 262 Avenue Fairmount West. A discussion with Marigold Santos and Zoë Chan will take place Saturday, Nov. 9, at 3:00 p.m.

Student Life

Dissecting the digital medium and its use for creative good

Press photo

As we constantly catch up with technology, we often forget how much our online interactions can make a big difference. Marshall McLuhan once said, “The medium is the message.” Social media is our contemporary “medium.”

However, there are pros and cons to excessive online activity. It is a gateway in bridging people and ideas together but at the same time sporadic privacy policies that change often and rapidly can be compromising to our online reputation.

With the lack of a structured curriculum on how to behave online, professor Ann-Louise Davidson from the education department at Concordia University suggests that staying active on social media is a better way to express our online presence instead of other people doing it for us through tags and mentions.

“If you’re not on Facebook and your friends are, then there’s most likely a chance you’re on it and you don’t know it,” she explained.

But there are benefits to using social media. Matt Soar, who teaches a class on intermedia in Concordia’s communication studies department, explained that it can be challenging to teach students about tricks to help them express fresh creative ideas. Therefore, combining creativity and connectivity seems to be a good solution.

“We’ve seen some changes [in technology] incredibly quickly, so what I have to do is to keep up with those changes,” he said.

One of those changes was learning Vine. Using his smartphone, he can record, edit, enhance and post a short video clip of six seconds. After learning about it from a friend, Soar decided to make an interactive movie by putting together more than 60 short Vine videos of various circular objects. His finished product was a film titled Fibonacci Korsakow, a visual representation of the Fibonacci number.

On the other hand, there is a downside to social media in that it often turns into a popularity contest.

Vine patron, Armel Mzaliwa Shindano, who usually posts dance-related videos, observed how some people are just using Vine to establish quick Internet fame.

“There’s going to be lots of people who do stupid things for Vine,” he said. “Like this one guy who tried to jump a car. You’re killing yourself to get a hundred views. You’re not getting paid for it…you’re just getting noticed by people and by your stupidity.”

Furthermore, “[Social media] can be a mode of expression, and it can be a mode of oppression as well,” said Davidson.

Even with recent movements in the United States to fight dignity-infringing activities such as “revenge porn,” and a law that youth under 18 can erase old online activity, Davidson reminds us that we need to always be careful. As well as being a place to post your own work, there is the freedom for others to post their work, even when it’s harmful. There have been several documented instances where what someone has posted about themselves, or what others have posted about them has had severe consequences.

Soar explained that negative effects of the Internet have always existed, except that it’s more amplified in social media. Though, he remains optimistic and believes that an open forum in good taste is essential to helping improve the way we use to our medium.

“I think it’s a very exciting time,” he said. “The web is profoundly important to human development and civil discourse. We need more conversation, not less,” he said.

He also imparts this knowledge to his intermedia students, “The way to stand out from the crowd is to have incisive and ethically sound creative ideas.”

Student Life

Emphasizing face-to-face over Facebook

Have you ever been emotionally distressed after scrolling, reading, liking or commenting on friends’ posts on Facebook? Do you obsessively check your Twitter timeline for updates, and find yourself unsatisfied and hungry for more?How about those reblogs on Tumblr? And those Instagram posts?

The OverNear application has been available for free in the Apple App Store, since July 30. Press photo

Don’t fret if your answer is yes to one, all, or any. According to entrepreneur and app developer, Bill Glaser, you’re not going crazy. There is an actual reason for this feeling – and it’s something we don’t even realize as we stare at our screens.
“The greater [our] use of it, the more likely that people are going to be lonely, and people are going to be depressed,” said Glaser, citing a combination of various news reports and the research of several German universities on the effects of social media.

Glaser explains that although the goal of social media is to connect people, it disconnects us because of the selective nature of our posts, which typically show off only our best side.Take Foursquare for example, you use your smartphone to “check-in” or register your location to show off to your friends. “It was a gamification of visiting a place, where the more you visit the area, there is an opportunity to earn points [for frequently checking in], and eventually becoming the Mayor of that place,” said Glaser.

“People only want to show their best moments online to their friends, and the result is a distorted view of the reality of their lives,” Glaser said. He believes this results in people questioning why their lives are not as amazing as their friends’ lives appear to be.

Since there is also an element of anonymity behind the screen, Glaser came to the conclusion that interacting on social media can sometimes be superficial. This status quo prompted him to rethink the idea of social interaction and that’s how his app OverNear was created.

He explains how it’s not just one more social network added to the heap, but rather a productivity tool to link people to a certain area. Think of it like a fusion of Facebook events without the RSVP, Foursquare without the gaming factor, and Twitter without the noisy newsfeed. You can register to the place you’re going, in real-time, to tell friends and family where you’ll be. As Glaser explains, “It’s kind of like a future check-in. You put a post on a place that you’re going. If your friends happen to come to that area…your friends will be notified.”

The application has been available for free in the Apple App Store, since July 30. It is still in beta development, so expect a few bugs. Glaser has not forgotten Android users and hopes to have a compatible version ready for download by early 2014.

A pun on the term “Over here, over there,” Glaser has high hopes for OverNear to become a successful tool for connecting people together. “I think we are at a forefront of a trend of spending less time behind the screen…Nothing replaces face-to-face interaction.”


Student Life

The pixels, the lenses and us


Courtesy of Lazy Nuke

It’s chic, it’s beautiful, it’s futuristic: it is the world’s most popular search engine’s groundbreaking invention, Google Glass. For those who may not yet be aware of what this is, let’s cross off the obvious and tell you it has nothing to do with drinking. The Google Glass is an eyewear computer that takes commands like Siri and functions like a hands-free smartphone.

While they haven’t yet designed a collection of shades suited for every type of face shape, Google is currently offering a choice of colours from charcoal to tangerine to sky blue, each with a colour matching rectangular-shaped computer at the top right corner of the frame.

No matter your age and how aware you are of technology, the Google Glass is very easy to use. Through simple phrases like “Okay Glass take a picture” or “Okay Glass, record a video,” the Glass acts out any command beyond just searching. It allows the user to text, call, share what you’re seeing with others in the moment, record, take photos, translate your voice, answer any question you may have, offer directions and display any relative information that you may need in the moment such as weather, the time or a flight schedule.

If this isn’t mind blowing enough, Google is talking about one day offering Google Glass users the ability to control household appliances and recently applied for the rights to an application called “Wearable Computer with Superimposed Controls and Instructions Device.”

There is no denying that this is an exciting moment in history to be a part of and that this type of technology is quite incredible, but as consumers we do need to ask ourselves the important question: Will it be disruptive or will it initiate a positive revolution in human social interaction?

Google co-founder Sergey Brin spoke at the TED talk conference at Long Beach in late February and told the audience that one the motivations behind Project Glass was to remove the social isolation that comes with the obsession with smartphones; to offer people the ability to communicate and connect without your hands and eyes bound to a device.

“I whip this out and sit there and look as if I have something important to do or to attend to,” said Brin. “[Google Glass] kind of takes away that excuse . . . it really opened by eyes to how much of my life I spent secluded away in email or social posts.”

While Brin does bring up an excellent point, there are other concerns that come with technology such as our mental health and the negative consequences that may come from constantly being connected to the internet.

Dr. Andrew Ryder, an associate professor in Concordia’s psychology department, explained that throughout history, startup inventions begin as a fad used by a small network of people, then slowly filter into our daily lives as what feels like a necessity. He uses Facebook as a contemporary example.

“[Facebook] was a neat, practical tool. It had a goal to help meet up with like-minded people using our real name,” said Ryder. Today, however, “it’s used in a different way, and not in a way that Facebook could’ve predicted. It’s the same way I feel with Google Glass.”

Ryder explains that when we use inventions such as Google Glass, it becomes a representation of ourselves. We become so dependent on social technology, that if lost, it’s like losing a part of ourselves in the process.

“At some point psychologically, [a new gadget] becomes part of your extended mind,” said Ryder.

Nicholas Carr, author of The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains, explores in his book how digital distractions could have a negative impact on our concentration, memory and comprehension.

“Be aware of your core values rather than let the technology drive you and your priorities,” said Ryder. “It’s easier said than done, but thinking along those lines can help.”

Another issue that people are concerned with is privacy. Google Glass users will be able to record everyone and everything around them without anyone being aware of it; a privacy dilemma that is continuously being discussed since the introduction of social media sites.

Chad Vachon, a Concordia University sociology and anthropology student, has a critical view of how Google Glass might bring more repercussions instead of benefits.

“As individuals, we have to have some privacy. It’s intrinsic to different cultures and spheres. Technology can infringe on that,” said Vachon. “The world is becoming more of a complicated place. We need to develop an in-depth understanding of privacy.”


The device is set to be released to public in early 2014. There is yet to be an official price, but the developer version goes for $1,500.




Top 10 themes from iconic video games

10. Pacman

You’re a miniature yellow blob trying to get by in a dark maze of black and blue. All you wanna do is eat, eat, eat but you got creepy monsters chasing after you! The goofy interlude stands as an out-cue for an adventure that will make you run for your life!


9. Street Fighter

Choose your character and go mash those buttons hard with fury. Kick, punch, hit. Pull off a 1-2 combo. Multiple rounds, sudden death, free for all. FIGHT! Each “fighter” has its own theme track and the music used in every battle brings that irresistible adrenaline rush.


8. Wipeout

A neo-futuristic environment of lights, concrete buildings and steel tracks donned with gorgeously designed race pods. The succulent trance music will hit you, too. The WipEout series has a hidden musical treasure you can’t afford to miss, mixing aesthetics with trippy music.



7. Tetris

There goes one block, another block, and one more falling down on you. Align and turn them into never ending straight lines. The entertaining yet mind-boggling (and at times annoying) 8-bit tune that accompanies is the Soviet’s best export: the widely respected puzzle-game, Tetris.



6. Sonic the Hedgehog

When you‘re the world’s fastest hedgehog, what do you do when your worst enemy is on a mission to take over the world? The Sonic Adventure series on the Sega Dreamcast platform was known to carry rock music during gameplay and it was something that fans mourned when the platform folded in the early ‘00s.



5. Assassin’s Creed

When you suddenly get kidnapped unknowingly, technology brings you to a world a thousand years back. You’re on a mission to hunt people in order to regain your ancestor’s tainted honour. The mysterious and eerie music amplifies the intensity of the gameplay found in Assassin’s Creed, Montreal’s pride and glory.


4. Super Mario

You have a simple mission — walk outside, collect some stars and get some mushrooms. Oh, and don’t forget to save Princess Peach while keeping your day job as a plumber. The folks who made the game in the early ‘80s made your adventure easy for you. Don’t forget to thank them.



3. Final Fantasy

One-on-one duel. You’ve got no time to waste. May the best fighter win and may you revel in the iconic melody that celebrates the sweet taste of victory. Remixed for decades, the encounter between you and your enemy invokes the iconic battle theme for the long-running role-playing game series, Final Fantasy.



2. The Legend of Zelda

You’re a blonde-haired kid on a quest. Walking in dungeons, fighting monsters and solving puzzles to save the world and, Princess Zelda, of course. The music is what hardcore players call the anthem of video games, composed by legendary game musician Koji Kondo. Remember the N64 Ocarina of Time? There you go.


1. Pokemon

You walk in tall grass. You encounter a wild creature. You have six pocket-sized monsters on you. Which one will you choose to save you? The battle theme in Pokemon, since its inception in 1995, might as well represent the core essence and joie-de-vivre of the entire Pokemon game series — the battle that every trainer encounters, and the accomplishment in savouring victory.


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