Arts Theatre

Théâtre du Nouveau Monde’s Abraham Lincoln va au théâtre makes a mockery of nuance

This 2010 play by Larry Tremblay is a combination of meta plot lines and comedy

The Théâtre du Nouveau Monde production debuted on March 14, and follows the story of two actors who went viral in a buddy cop series. They are hired by a cunning director who puts on a play about John Wilkes Booth, the infamous actor known for Abraham Lincoln’s assassination. 

The fictional director, renowned Marc Killman, expresses the idea that American entertainment has always revolved around violence and finding ways to control the people. 

As rehearsals roll on, the tortured genius gets lost in a plethora of nuances that he bears down upon his actors, eventually completely losing track of the play’s theme. 

Writer Larry Tremblay was inspired by what he calls “America’s schizophrenia,” or the political polarity in the United States: the extremely poor versus the extremely rich, Republican versus Democrat, North versus South. 

“If I had to redefine my play today, in the era of post-truth in which we dove in, I would only choose one pair of antonyms: truth versus lie,” states Tremblay in the playbill. “And, with great pleasure, I would call my play Donald Trump goes to the Capitol.”

The playwright heavily twisted the presentation of the original theme by bringing layers of meta-fiction and absurdity, sending the audience in different directions. Each line had the audience questioning the direction in which the story was going. At times, it was even tough for the characters themselves to understand Killman’s ideas. 

“It’s a show where the first time you read it you say to yourself, ‘Oh boy, what are we getting into?’ But that’s what’s the best part about theatre,” exclaimed Bruno Marcil, who played Marc Killman in TNM’s production of the play. 

“We broke our necks for two months trying to understand what we were going to play, how we were going to play, and how we are going to approach it, and sometimes there were ideas that at the beginning held up the whole time, suddenly we said, ‘No that’s not it.’” 

According to Marcil, the only script in his career that was tougher to understand was Les Hardings, a play inspired by the Lac-Mégantic disaster that follows three men, each named Thomas Harding, from around the world who are thrust into each other’s lives by the disaster.

Actor Didier Lucien, who makes a later appearance in the plot of Abraham Lincoln va au théâtre, explained that “[the] script is never portrayed the same from one day to the next. Yes we rehearse, but each character is completely different. Just when we thought we’ve understood it, we realize that we’re way out in left field, and we have to restart. We were like detectives for this script.”

According to Marcil, the team working on the play has fantastic chemistry, and it shows on stage. Luc Bourgeois and Mani Soleymanlou play protagonists Laurel and Hardy, and have been long-time friends.

“The four of us plus our director together were in stitches the whole time, but at the same time we can have fun and when it’s time to put our heads down we make things work.”

Director Catherine Vidal did a fabulous job turning this complex and dark subject into something understandable and intriguing for the audience. She was also able to bring humour and satire in at the perfect moments. 

“The atmosphere during rehearsals was absolutely joyous because of our designers, engineers, and actors. Together, we were able to get through this cathedral script,” said Vidal.

I was at the edge of my seat trying to guess how much further the play within the play would be twisted, and what the next turn would be. This play was captivating, and brought me to unexpected audible laughs. I highly recommend you see it before the closing day on April 8.

Satire: Creative Valentine’s Day gifts guaranteed to impress — even a day late

Who wants flowers anyways?

Your beloved Nivea lip balm is on its last legs. A daily walk to the pharmacy is in the cards for you this morning. You begrudgingly make the trek through the bitter cold to the nearest Pharmaprix (or maybe you’re a Jean Coutu person — this is a choose-your-own adventure, I guess).

As you walk through the aisles, you’re met with semi-bare shelves full of pink everything — from chocolates, to teddies, to flowers. A shiver runs down your spine. Could you have forgotten? You brace yourself as you fish around the old masks in your jacket pocket to find your cell phone. To your dismay, it proudly displays the date as February 15. You’re in deep shit.

At this point, you’re panicking. How can you explain forgetting about THE holiday of love to your significant other? Will this be the end of your relationship? How can you come back from this? (In a blind frenzy, it slips your mind that they too may have forgotten).

Luckily, you won’t have to, since I’ve compiled a list of the four best next-day Valentine’s Day gifts that put chocolate and flowers to shame, and are guaranteed to leave your lover enchanted enough to forget about you forgetting.

Swag socks

I know what you’re thinking, but trust me on this one. While socks might seem like a simple stocking stuffer or a leftover Christmas present, you can repurpose them with the help of a sweet pun. By gifting your boo a pair of socks with a card reading “you knock my socks off,” you’ll not only make them a free elf but also warm their heart (and their feet).

Bonus points if they have cartoons of an animal that your special someone has mentioned finding cute once. It’s almost effortless, but foolproof.

Relationship self-help book

Is your person an avid reader? This is the perfect gift for them. Instead of finding the latest silly fiction, expand their horizons with something more personal and refined. A relationship self-help book is a genius way to satisfy their paper craving while setting yourself up for an even healthier connection. Regardless of whether or not your relationship is going smoothly, it’s always good to have tools in case it goes sour. Extra credit if it’s called “It’s Not You, It’s Me,” highlighting that you also have stuff to work on. It’s incredibly thoughtful — there’s absolutely no way your partner could get the wrong idea.

Skydiving tickets

This one is pretty self-explanatory. What says “I love you” like being strapped to a stranger and falling from the sky out of a plane? This is also a pricey gift, which certainly helps with the lateness of the delivery. Everyone knows that expensiveness has a direct correlation to how much you care.

A will to live

This is probably the hardest to acquire — you won’t find one lying on the shelves of the pharmacy. To find a will to live, you’ll have to search far and wide, or maybe even embark on a quest. However, if you do manage to get one, this is the gift to end all gifts. If you succeed, please let me know. We might be able to get a two-for-one deal.

With any of these items, you should have no trouble saving your Valentine’s Day.

You’re welcome.

And if for some reason, these ideas don’t work for you, you can always go for an apology or a heartfelt card, but that’s kind of basic.

Graphic by Madeline Schmidt

The gay agenda exposed — I infiltrated the alphabet mafia

An Investigative Essay by Chadrick P. Übermensch, Esquire

Author’s note: Navigating a homophobic world as a queer person has never been easy. For years, homophobes have speculated that any advancements by the LGBTQ+ community have been parts of a scheme known as “the gay agenda”. While this is continuously refuted, there is also a panoply of issues within the queer community that affects people of intersecting identities who do not feel represented or accepted within mainstream gay spaces.


A few months ago, I made a decision that would alter my life forever. I would consider myself the ultimate alpha-dude-bro — I’m the manliest manly man you could ever imagine. To further bask in my masculine glory, I began posting pictures of my workouts onto To my utter shock and dismay, I rapidly gained a following of gay men. I gained thousands of followers within the first week, accompanied by unseemly, unsolicited, scandalous messages: “hey handsome,” “I love your body,” “show hole,” “you look incredible.” After thousands of these messages, I had enough. As I thought of the level of sophistication and coordination required to flood my inbox at such a high rate with such disturbing messages, a shiver went down my spine. Something deeply sinister was going on here, and a larger force was behind it all. In that moment, I knew I had to try to expose the Gay Agenda.

I wouldn’t say I have a problem with gay people. The problem comes when they try to shove it in my face. Why are men smooching on the kiss cam at baseball games? Let me watch a dozen muscular men in uber-tight polyester jog together in peace without bringing your ideology into it. If anything, straight people are being discriminated against! We can’t even buy Campbell’s soup without seeing these fruitcakes in their commercials! These egregious exhibits are clearly machiavellian manifestations of the Gay Agenda, which is why I had to put a stop to it.

In order to end the Gay Agenda, I first had to locate the LGBT Organization’s headquarters. They all live in the same facility, you know. I hopped on a bus downtown. In the dead of night, I walked across town to the corner of Fistenberg and Dyckman, where I found a telephone booth. As I entered the booth, I picked up the phone. From what I had learned online before my arrival, I knew the code I had to enter was 6453-73623-927-4373 (the password is mike-pence-was-here). Someone picked up the call. “You’ve reached the Hightower Record Store, how may I assist you?” Taking a deep breath, I responded. “Hello. I’m looking for your selection of Charli XCX vinyls.” Suddenly, a red light turned on and the booth began descending like an elevator.

Once I made it to the main floor, I was in complete shock. The entire place was decked out in enough blacklight and rainbow strobe lights to send an epilectic to the hospital. The music was a confusing blend of incomprehensible hyperpop glitch and early 2000s Eurotrash. Dance floors were packed with thin, pale bodies, in a blend of thrifted and vintage designer fashion. These people had icy looks in their eyes, trembling from gallons of iced coffee. I walked around the main halls, reading the signs above different rooms. There were ones dedicated to worshipping idols (pop idols, that is), blue hair-dying stations, rooms solely dedicated to yelling “we hate the straights!” in unison, rooms for witchcraft in which they’d put curses on Boosie Badazz and Dave Chapelle, and yassification stations as well.

After spending time snooping around the place, I finally found what I was looking for. As it turns out, the Gay Agenda is also a physical agenda! I began reading their program: “Monday — make Ellen emperor for life; bake Betty Crocker funfetti cake; and hunt down Tones and I for making “Dance Monkey.” Tuesday — persuade waiters to hand men dessert menus; enact Critical Gay Theory; and manufacture 750,000 rainbow poppies. Wednesday — bring-your-bottom-to-work day; and light a candle at the altar of RuPaul. Thursday — neuter straight men in public bathrooms; and Golden Girls watch party. Friday — give Cher.” I stashed a copy in my jacket — I could now expose these people for good.

As I was exiting the hall, I noticed a different elevator. This one had much less glitz, glamour, and gay. I got inside and the doors closed smoothly — I could barely hear the untz-untz of the Eurotrash music from in here. There were only two buttons: one for the floor I was on, and one below. I descended, and was shocked upon my arrival. The basement was a plain office building, with workers sitting at their desks, getting some work done. However, there was something fundamentally different about who was working in this office compared to the crowd upstairs.

I walked around and struck up a few conversations with folks, still incognito. What made this room different is that most people in it were people of colour, people with disabilities, fat people, and everyone deemed inferior from the upstairs crowd. “Notice how most of the crazies upstairs are white teenagers with no other oppression to claim,” said a Black trans woman. “We’re the ones who make the culture, they’re the ones who distort it beyond repair. We have some common issues, but they disregard us in every way — we’ve gotten so used to it that we expect them to erase us.” I spoke with many others who felt the same way. They made me realize how truly futile some of my issues with the community were.

As I exited the room, I opened a back door to a stairwell. I climbed up dozens of flights of stairs until I reached a door that opened to the street. My watch read 4:30 a.m. As I took a deep breath, I reached into my pocket and grabbed my phone. I opened, swiped through my settings, and deleted my original thirst trap account. As the sun began to rise, I took my copy of the agenda, shredded it, and shoved it through the holes of a sewer grate. It was time for me to go home and rethink some of my beliefs.


Feature graphic by James Fay

Horror in Paradise

Spooky new statistics show a major uptick in breakups due to couples costumes this Halloween season, as reported in a study by a local ghoul. The study was conducted with hundreds of couples aged 18 to 28 in Montreal, but is representative of a greater worldwide trend.

Students make up 66.6 per cent of the demographic surveyed, with 13 per cent of them being Concordians. Of the Concordia students, a dismal two per cent of couples are slated to survive this Halloweekend without breaking up over their costume, and one per cent is expected to make it through without a heated screaming match.

“My girlfriend wanted us to dress up as peanut butter and jelly,” said Ben Shee, a third-year computer science student. “Normally, I’d be all for a couple’s costume, but I’m literally allergic to peanuts,” he said tearfully during a phone interview. Shee explained that after he vetoed this idea, his girlfriend dumped him because he wasn’t accommodating her need to wear the thrifted pink crushed velvet dress she had gotten specifically for the occasion.

Perry Noid is a second-year sociology major who broke up with his boyfriend because of their indecision. “One day he wanted to be Toopy and Binoo, the next day he was set on Linguini and Ratatouille.” Noid lamented his six midterms in the coming hours, and his lack of time to deliberate and plan their outfits.

“Don’t you think my degree is more important than a costume?” he remembered saying to his partner, who replied, “‘Absolutely not.’” From there, Noid explained that there was nothing else to do other than end the relationship and dress as a Montreal Canadiens player for the seventh straight year.

Dating expert Diane Rott noted that this year’s breakup numbers greatly surpass those in the past, and attributes this phenomenon to what she dubs a “high-stakes-Halloween.” Those who have yet to soft-launch their relationships need a clear and concrete way to claim their beloved in a sea of Britney Spears and cats, and therefore turn to couples costumes. However, since people are so excited to properly celebrate Halloween after last year’s terrifying turn of events, they place an absurd amount of pressure on themselves to have the best costume and the best time, throwing all concern for the person they’re with out the window.

So, dear Concordia couples, please beware of these gruesome figures, and remember, the only thing scarier than being alone is having a lame costume.


Feature graphic by Madeline Schmidt

How to make friends (because you probably forgot)

No, I don’t mean Twitter mutuals

The pandemic has caused a notable shrinkage in most people’s social circles. And if you’re like me, with honestly not that many friends to start out with, post-lockdown Friday nights often consist of you and your one roommate sitting across from each other playing the “do we make the effort to go out or do we just drink wine and just talk to each other” game. I love my roommate, but something’s gotta give.

In theory, with school back in session, there’s no excuse to stay in this lonesome routine. Throughout the past year and a half, we’ve told ourselves that the reason our friend groups were diminishing was because of social distancing rules, discomfort attending large parties, people graduating and moving on while still online, etc. Surely it’s just COVID. I’m not the problem, right?

Well, that’s a question for your therapist to answer. In the meantime, how do you make up for those friends who have been lost to the sands of time these past COVID years?

To make friends this back-to-school season, you have to really want it. This means not waiting for people to come to you, because you’ll be waiting forever. So, actually go up to the interesting person in your class and strike up conversation. Is there someone with cool laptop stickers? How about the person with Spotify open on their computer, showing pretty good taste? Maybe it’s just the person with the least contrived response to your class’ Foucault reading? Talk to them!

You already have some shared interests with those you’re in class with, whether it’s pondering the intersections of queerness and spirituality in the religious studies department, or the shared interest of getting a job after graduation while in a JMSB lecture. Surely there’s something bringing you together, so go grab a coffee at The Hive and find out.

Thinking outside the classroom, you can try joining activities that can help you to foster friendships. I made the mistake of not joining any collaborative clubs until January of 2020, so pending another global crisis, don’t be like me. There are plenty of clubs, classes, and activities on campus and off that could help you build that sad little social net you so desperately desire.

Off campus, there are many art classes around town that you can drop in on for fairly cheap, and what’s better than staring at a naked model to really bring you together with your peers? Exercise classes are also great for building relationships through shared trauma.

On campus, there are plenty of clubs for different interests and identities. For example, there are groups for students of different nationalities and ethnicities, such as the Concordia Syrian Students’ Association, Hillel Concordia, Haitian Students at Concordia, and many more. If you’re into art, try Collective 4891 or Concordia’ART. For the adventurers, there’s the Concordia Outdoors Club. If you’re a massive egotist who wants to subject others to your silly little ideas, try student journalism!

Attending these clubs and events is a great start, and you’re sure to find at least a few people you click with. But, the crux of all of this is to make sure you’re fostering these acquaintances into real friendships. There’s nothing worse than a casual friendship that you know could be made into something deeper, but neither of you are willing to put in the time or effort. We all need to collectively swallow our pride and make the first step, because if social isolation taught us anything, it’s that an Instagram mutual does not necessarily a true friend make.


Feature graphic by James Fay


The power of Indigenous humour — sharing Indigenous experiences and voices through laughter

Guest speaker Stephanie Pangowish discussed how humour is an integral part of Indigenous communities

Stand-up comedian, Northern Style Women’s Traditional dancer, educator and backup singer, Stephanie Pangowish does it all.

Part of the Anishinaabekwe from Wiikwemkoong on Manitoulin Island, Pangowish is known for her community involvement.

In an online seminar organized by the Feminism and Comedy Working Group at Concordia on April 1, Pangowish spoke about the importance of Indigenous comedy and storytelling.

“Humour was always part of our family – growing up, I’d listen to elders joke about hard situations to minimize them, or I’d see my family tease each other out of love and appreciation,” said Pangowish.

Pangowish was even further drawn to comedy when she started watching comedy specials on television with her parents.

“When I saw someone on stage make this big auditorium full of people laugh, I knew there was good medicine attached to humour.”

As she grew older, Pangowish noticed that, despite humour being an integral part of her communal life, it was often overshadowed by stereotypes surrounding Indigenous communities.

The books written by authors who had not experienced Indigenous cultures, “failed to include our humour in their narrative,” she said.

Resilience through Indigenous humour

While visiting different Indigenous communities across North America, Pangowish realized she could connect with anyone through their humour despite speaking different languages or having different ceremonies.

“When I first started getting into comedy, I noticed that humour in our community was used to soften some of the experiences of everyday life,” said Pangowish.

“That is one of the things that helped our people become more resilient.”

Pangowish recalls that, even while attending the annual imagineNATIVE Film and Media Arts Festival in Toronto, she noticed humour being widely integrated into the films that were being presented.

“Though these films were about residential schools or being removed from your land, there was still laughter,” said Pangowish.

When she began her masters studies, Pangowish explains that she was promoting the fact that Indigenous humour was a topic worth exploring. After encouragement from a classmate, Pangowish put forth a topic to the TEDxTalk panel and was accepted.

As part of her research on Indigenous humour, Pangowish began reaching out to different community members until she came across the findings of Dr. Michael Yellow Bird of the University of Manitoba, who focuses on the effects of colonization, methods of decolonization, and genetic science in Indigenous people.

Dr. Yellow Bird talked about the 5HTTLPR gene — a serotonin transmitter that is shared among many Indigenous community members around the world and mediates happiness, among other emotions.

“Our dances, ceremonies, prayers, celebrations and singing, are all part of our communal life which bring us good energy, and laughter.”

Pangowish explains that Indigenous humour helps to cope with difficult situations by making fun of them.

“We’ve taken misfortune and turned them into funny stories with lessons attached to it,” said Pangowish, during her TEDxCentennialCollegeToronto talk.

Educating through Indigenous humour

When Indigenous stories are being told through books or movies, the storytellers are often non-Indigenous, mostly white authors who often have no connection to the culture itself, explained Pangowish.

“I’ve always wanted to share that we are not just what society and media portrays us — we are not just those stereotypical images …  I use humour to make fun of those images, and talk about how powerful our people are, and how amazing our culture is.”

Though the Indigenous communities across Turtle Island — the Indigenous name that some Indigenous peoples use for North America — are very diverse, Pangowish explained that there are many aspects of humour that are similar, including teasing, making fun of difficult situations, and punching up instead of punching down.

By this, Pangowish explains that Indigenous humour avoids jokes about people with disabilities or minorities, for instance. Instead, it aims at institutions of power, such as governments.

“Sometimes there are controversial topics, but if you approach them carefully and are thoughtful with your words and delivery, there are many that we can joke about. But what I won’t do is oppress another group of people,” said Pangowish.

Through her stand-up comedy, Pangowish also aims at sharing stories beyond Indigenous communities to bring awareness to non-Indigenous folks.

“I wanted to bring forth our experiences to Canadians by trying to bridge the gap and talk about policies and other important aspects that are part of our life, that they might not be aware of,” she said.

During her acts, Pangowish includes jokes about policies such as the Indian Act or the First Nation Trust Fund, all with the intention of bringing awareness to these topics in a comedic way.

“The Indian Act that’s over 150 years old, determines who is Indian and who isn’t,” said Pangowish.

“If I were to have a child with a non-status Indian or Canadian, and my child goes through the same thing, my grandchild will not be acknowledged as an Indian through the act.”

Joking about the effects of policies such as the Indian Act is a way to discuss them and educate people about the experiences of Indigenous people, explained Pangowish.

Beyond poking fun at stereotypes and building inter-communal resilience, Pangowish explained that, “Humour is truly a huge part of who we are.”


Graphic from event page on the Concordia University website

Grab the Monet and let’s Gogh

 Museum reopenings to normalize art hoe migration patterns, experts say

Montreal museums reopened on Feb. 8 causing art hoes to flock to various museum sites around the city.

In a recent study written on a cluttered Notes app, an art hoe turned Anthropology major states that 90 per cent of indie Tinder dates are taking place at one of these newly opened cultural institutions. However, this student’s advice for securing these Tinder dates means refraining from mentioning one’s art hoe-ism on dating apps — few understand that they’re hoes for the art, and not necessarily the Chad who looks like a wet golden retriever.

Though, let’s be clear that the pilgrimage is not limited to dates; many group chats are buzzing with ideas to make the trek. And thank goodness they’ve got their Doc Martens to keep the snow out!

As with any phenomenon, the question on everyone’s mind is “why?” Through extensive research and perhaps a tiny ounce of introspection, we’ve compiled the most plausible reasons for this pattern.

The first one that comes to mind is the innate desire to wear thrifted clothes in public. This is a sentiment shared by 100 per cent of art hoes, and a need that has been hard to fulfill during the pandemic. Although many a mom jean and turtleneck have been spotted on a walk around the block or a trip to the grocery store, in our pesky climate, jackets tend to overshadow the carefully curated outfit (it is important to note that hoes are sometimes cold despite what pre-famous Cardi B may have told you — she’s clearly never been to Montreal in February). Nonetheless, museums offer coat checks and toasty heating to ensure that the whole ensemble will be on display. Some might argue that that’s the real art anyways.

Another possible explanation for this migration is, as always, the stars. Some believe that the recent Co–Star notification saying to “Open up your body and soul to art” has provoked the art hoes to storm the museums.

Others explain that after cutting quarantine bangs, this population needs a more permanent change in appearance, and hopes to gain inspiration from a Van Gogh or Matisse painting for new ink. Those not interested in tattoos, however, might be searching for a new screensaver for their phone or a spark for their next poem.

Speaking of poems, museums also provide benches for art hoes to sit on and scribble in their notebooks. This is an optimal location to be noticed for the way their quirky earrings clink against their mask as they write. Maybe someone will even ask them what they have in their Fruiterie Mile End tote bag.

Either way, their plants can survive another few hours without being watered and played Phoebe Bridgers, so it definitely can’t hurt to soak in some culture, and perhaps even bring up the single art history elective they took, From Realism to Abstraction in Canadian Art, after noticing the Romantic undertones of a specific tableau.

Or it could be that the museum provides a well-needed escape from the madness we’re experiencing. But hey, what do I know?


Graphic by Chloë Lalonde @ihooqstudio

Ivanka: “The secret service should be better at keeping secrets”

Ivanka Trump addresses the false claims that her family denied Secret Service detail access to a restroom in their home.

As the daughter of a Nice™ man, which I am bound by law to call my father, I first became acquainted with Nice™ suffering at a young age. It was during my youth that I learned the schemes and scripts I can use to flip any situation to financially profit from my spiritual and moral vacancy.

Growing up in a household much like a Nice™ museum has cultivated in me a side that always thinks about the feelings of others. I remember spending many hours as a child attributing feelings to people from their facial expressions, and then practicing those expressions on my own face, so that I might convey a convincing laugh or shed a relatable tear in the future.

With my life experience and track record available for reference, I have consistently yielded my immense power for the good of others.

Therefore, it is with a heavy tin heart that I express my deep-as-a-puddle horror, confusion, and embarrassment to learn of the false claims that my husband and I would ever deny the United States Secret Service (USSS) access to a restroom while assigned to protect us.

These claims are just another drop in the ocean of lies made by the crooked left media trying to expose an already showcased broken economic system that profits and permisses people like me.

Firstly, the slanderous article published by The Washington Post falsely stated that our family’s security detail was initially using a porta-potty located on the sidewalk outside of our “6.5 bathroom” home. This is utterly false, and I take great personal insult to this remark. We, the Kushner/Trumps do not have a single lavatory in our home. We’ve never even used one. We’ve never needed to.

Understandably, our Kalorama neighbours felt frustrated by a clunky porta-potty on the sidewalk, keeping them from using the public space. I hold no grudge against anyone who expressed their insult at this obstruction to our peace.

Secondly, this ridiculous article falsely claims that the USSS then began using the facilities at former President Obama’s home, then at former Vice President Pence’s home, as well as local restaurants, in order to resolve the issue. This is simply another tactic to make my family look like a cold-hearted collection of people who refuse to corner off one isolated bathroom, maybe in a garage, where humans can care for themselves with dignity.

Then, and this is where the “story” becomes downright ludicrous, the USSS allegedly began renting an apartment unit in September of 2017 for $3,000 a month, costing taxpayers more than $100,000.

It is simply unconscionable to publish such a low property value estimate for our neighbourhood. This estimate may impact our reputation moving forward; damages we will see for years to come.

And with this, I will make one last remark. It is rare that I share so much with the public, as I am a very private person. I value to the highest degree my privacy and my secrecy. I am truly hurt and offended that the USSS was unsuccessful at keeping this open secret about me — that I treat everyone that is outside the pack as the help.



Graphic by Taylor Reddam

Sink your teeth into this: the shocking first thing taught in dental school

Why do dentists always ask questions when you can’t reply?

“Imin marobolog ah cahncourah” is about as good as it’s going to get when you’re asked a question from your dentist who’s elbow deep in your mouth.

Being asked a question while you’re unable to respond has likely happened to anyone who’s ever been to the dentist. It’s frustrating. Why would they ask if they know you can’t reply?

I’m sure this is something that keeps you up at night — and that’s why I’ve compiled some reasons for this common and irritating phenomenon.

“We had a whole class on it,” says Dr. Robert Abdulezer, when asked whether this was something he learned in dentistry school.

In fact, some very reliable sources have mentioned that this is one of the first things future dentists learn. But why?

“It’s more fun for us to ask questions and feel like we’re talk show hosts,” says Dr. Morrie Levy. Though he had dreams of becoming a comedian, dentistry was actually a better option — he gets to talk as much as he wants and his audience can’t leave, let alone boo him off the stage.

As with any profession, it can easily get tedious. Some dentists ask patients questions when they’re working on their mouths to spice up the monotony.

This is a little more far-fetched, but for some dentists, like Dr. Alyce Fischer, asking patients questions that they can’t answer is actually an unintentional reflex. She says that it can be used strategically, “To get their mind off of what is happening, as a distraction,” but that seems too simple to me. It has to be a bit juicier than that.

In fact, I’ve heard that there’s a sponsored points system by the Order of Dentists to reward those with extraordinary abilities to guess what patients are saying. It’s allegedly become a game among them and the assistants. But I can’t reveal more — crimes that involve divulging secret information are punishable by root canals.

“I remember when I was younger it would bother me so much. I was like, ‘Why are you asking me such open ended questions when I just can’t give you the answer?’” admits Dr. Abdulezer. However, upon becoming a dentist, he seems to have forgotten his younger frustration, and says that he partakes in these inefficient inquiries.

Some dentists argue that if patients are really just bothered by this, they should just let their teeth rot. They are not going to change their practices, but patients can change theirs if it really bothers them.

“The smart person would text me the answer and show me it on their phone. That’s big technology,” says Dr. Levy. He laments that teens are always Snapchatting in his chair and would rather them use their phone to solve important issues, like this one.

Only time will tell if this is an effective solution, but I won’t keep you here until your teeth fall out.

Oh, and don’t forget to brush and floss!


Feature graphic by Taylor Reddam

Dissociation for Class President 2020!

You may wonder: what is Dissociation and why should I vote for it as Class President?

Vote for Dissociation 2020! Big D is a potentially helpful, potentially harmful way to experience major trauma like a global pandemic. Dissociation has a wide network of friends of all ages who use it to cope with the stress in their lives, and it wants to introduce itself to you! Don’t be shy. Dissociation is just looking to say hi, talk a bit about itself, and help you learn to identify its characteristics so that you can stay in good health throughout this stressful time!

Hi, I’m Dissociation, and I’m a defense mechanism that human beings exhibit as a response to trauma. I have three main branches, but this election campaign will highlight and examine just one of my sides: the depersonalization-derealization disorder (DDD for short).

DDD is a trauma response that presents as a “sense of detachment or being outside yourself,” according to the Mayo Clinic. If you find yourself removed from experiencing your thoughts, feelings, and actions firsthand, and are instead watching them occur like in a movie, you may be experiencing DDD.

“I generally think dissociation is understood as on a spectrum from daydreaming, reveries, getting very lost in a task, which can be super healthy,” says social worker and psychotherapist, Jeremy Wexler, of the Montreal Therapy Centre. “It’s highly adaptive,” Wexler continues, “except when it becomes too much or is over functioning or is preventing people from using other ways of coping.”

Considering my positive traits, as above described, I implore that you consider voting for me. I do my best to help people in hard times.

In a time of great stress and agitation, like in a global pandemic, it is normal that people will work out new ways to cope, but it’s important that those coping strategies are good for your health, and reinforce your sense of wellbeing.

When the brain forms a habit, such as a repeated response to a stimulus, it forges and strengthens that connection in the brain. Then, the brain will continue reinforcing that neural pathway by repeating the connection.

For example, if you bite your nails in a moment of stress to calm or distract yourself, you’re creating a connection in the brain between calming agitation and biting your nails. Next time you’re feeling agitated, and you bite your nails, you will fortify the habit. Then, in the future, if you are in a stressful situation, you are more likely to bite your nails then too.

“Dissociation may be part of a fight, flight or freeze response that people have,” says Wexler. “[People who experience dissociation] may become more prone to it and experience it as adaptive. So it becomes a reflex that is reinforced over time. It might be useful to think of it as a reflex.”

Evidently, I am very adaptable, and am always ready to come help during times of stress. Consider me, Dissociation, to lead you through 2020, in brief moments of daydreaming here or there, as you navigate a global health crisis.

I, your humble candidate, am the body’s attempt to help people cope with stress and trauma. Good intentions aside, I can also exacerbate harm instead of muting it, which I want to be transparent about.

With that said, there are some instances when I can be a helpful resource too, so long as you experience me on the milder end of my spectrum. If you experience my more severe symptoms, please reach out to loved ones for help. You are not alone.

I’m a complicated mechanism that can potentially lead to dysfunctional behaviours. Some associated disorders include an increased risk of other mental health disorders such as anxiety and depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, sleep and eating disorders, personality disorders, substance use disorder, and self-harm.

Symptoms can last “only a few moments or come and go over many years,” according to the Mayo Clinic. While I promise consistency, I can be a persistent — even pervasive —  experience that proves hard to manage without treatment. Treatment can include talk therapy and/or medication.

If you vote for me, I will do my best to make you proud, so long as you take care of your health, reach out to loved ones consistently, and are proactive if my symptoms intensify.

Vote for Dissociation 2020 if you want to get through the COVID-19 pandemic with a little more daydreaming, and a little less nail biting!

If you think you’re experiencing severe symptoms of Dissociation, please consider reaching out to a health practitioner, like your doctor or a psychologist. To find a psychologist, visit the Ordre des Psychologues du Quebec website. Additionally, you can always access free listening services from designated organizations.


Feature graphic by Taylor Reddam

Student Life

Optimism through comedy despite hardships

Ellen DeGeneres on self-love and acceptance at Montreal tour stop

TV talk show mogul and stand-up comedian Ellen DeGeneres shared her story with a crowd of thousands at the Bell Centre on March 1 as one of the pit stops on her talking tour: “A Conversation with Ellen DeGeneres.”

DeGeneres was greeted with a round of applause as she waved a custom “Ellen” Montreal Canadiens jersey to the crowd. After receiving a brief French lesson, DeGeneres began cracking jokes with the audience. “I’ve been here before,” said DeGeneres. “It’s a beautiful, beautiful city. It is very cold. Do you know you don’t have to be here? It’s not this cold everywhere. Have your parents lied to you?”

In the early 1980s, DeGeneres’s career in stand-up comedy took off. Her claim to fame came in 1986 as the first and only woman to ever be asked to sit next to Johnny Carson following her bit on The Tonight Show starring Johnny Carson. A decade later, despite a successful stand-up career and being the star of the Ellen sitcom show, DeGeneres felt like something was missing.

In 1997, DeGeneres made the choice to come out as gay in an interview with Oprah Winfrey, and again on her sitcom. “I hate lying and I never lie about anything,” said DeGeneres. “That’s one big lie and if anyone found out I was gay, I would lose everything.”

DeGeneres attributed her reasoning to a dream she once had about herself as a bird trapped in a cage. “The bird being me said ‘I don’t belong in here,’” said DeGeneres. “I woke up and said ‘I’m coming out.’” The bird realized it was small enough to fly between the bars and escape through an open window.

While DeGeneres was praised as a hero the day her coming out episode aired, the tables quickly turned and she was met with hate, including bomb threats and death threats. Ellen was soon cancelled and the comedian claimed her phone did not ring for three years following. “Well, it was unplugged,” said DeGeneres, jokingly.

Fast forward to over two decades later, DeGeneres is one of the most famous talk show hosts and philanthropists. She has won dozens of awards, hosted numerous award shows, received the Presidential Medal of Freedom and has given over $97 million in prizes and donations to fans on The Ellen DeGeneres Show.

Yet, it is not only through her humour that DeGeneres manages to stay on top. Her longevity could be accredited to her uplifting view of the world around her. DeGeneres encourages everyone to be themselves and to love themselves despite their biggest insecurities. Her tale of struggle and recovery brought tears to the eyes of some in the room. It was not the sadness of the story that stood out, but instead the positivity that DeGeneres has always carried with her that had people of all ages gather to see her talk.

DeGeneres did not need to convey her message explicitly, the idea was clear: love will conquer all. Towards the end of the night, moderator Dave Kelly noted that many people hear their names only when they’ve done something wrong, so he asked the crowd to say DeGeneres’s name with love and respect.

“Ellen!” the crowd chanted. “I’ll do it too,” DeGeneres said in response. “Jean-Claude, Mélissa, Stuart… it’s taking too long. I’ll just say Montreal.” Addressed with love and respect, Montreal felt DeGeneres’s warmth as they left the venue to brace the cold that awaited them outside.

Feature photo by Jacob Carey


The millennial obsession with bleak humour

An unorthodox stress-reliever: Laughing at your fears

It’s that time of year again. As Concordia’s fall semester nears its end, students are no doubt preparing for the incoming deluge of finals and research papers.

A quick look at the Spotted: Concordia Facebook page reveals a hellscape of pre-exam anxiety: pictures of students in a tired stupor using textbooks as makeshift pillows lie sandwiched between close-ups of empty hard liquor bottles tucked discreetly behind toilets. In among these moments of cinéma verité, one can find dozens of memes (or “image macros” if you grew up in the 1940s) whose messages can basically be reduced to a single, common point: “I am stressed, therefore, I want to die.”

The millennial obsession with nihilistic comedy has always been a fascinating subject to me. Popular TV shows like Netflix’s BoJack Horseman and Adult Swim’s Rick and Morty revolve around perennially depressed main characters who live in uncaring, occasionally violent worlds. It goes without saying that this sort of comedy has developed for a good reason. A 2014 study by Statistics Canada indicates 54 per cent of post-secondary students felt hopeless at some point that year. They face stress from balancing part-time jobs, competitive academic fields and a job market that is in poor shape.

Effective stress management skills are essential for excelling, especially in university. Of course this seems obvious, but it always bears repeating that prolonged high stress levels can impair the physical and social health of students. According to the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety, this can manifest itself through a litany of unpleasant physical and mental ailments, including moodiness, insomnia and anxiety, among others.

One might assume many of these feelings and symptoms will gradually disappear once exams are over. Yet this is often not the case.

Much like pre-exam stress, post-exam stress can also have a detrimental effect on one’s physical health. Researchers from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City tracked people who had recently experienced high-stress in the workplace, and found they had a greater likelihood of asthma as well as problems with digestion and skin irritation after they were removed from that environment. Even worse, some of these symptoms can arrive at a time when students are gathering with their friends and family.

While cliché advice—eat well, sleep well, exercise and take time to breathe—still applies, what about taking the time to laugh? Too often, I find, blogs and websites will make top 10 lists that only include the aforementioned unoriginal tips. Lurid neon headlines like “This year’s best ways to BEAT UP stress” always have the same content. On occasion, authors will actually take the time to update their article with the newest dietary trend, a recent variation of yoga or CrossFit or some unholy combination thereof.

Yet, not one website I visited had the fortitude to write about laughing at your own fears. Bleak humour allows students to offload some of their stress and turn it into something less dangerous.
In a sense, one can say that nihilistic comedy represents a sort of crowdsourced therapy. By inviting others to poke fun of their own insecurities, one makes them less tangible and, therefore, weaker.

Graphic by Zeze Le Lin

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