Players happy with York deal

Argos running back Jeff Johnson is eager about running back to York University to play professionally at a new Argos stadium to be built on York’s Keele campus, reported the Toronto Sun Oct. 16. Johnson, who played university football at York and earned a BA in kinesiology in 2002, couldn’t contain his enthusiasm when asked what it would mean to play there as a pro. “I think it’s awesome, man,” Johnson said. “It’ not downtown, but it’s a focal point of the city. The city is expanding northward. I think it’s a great location in terms of transportation. You’ve got the highways, the 407, easy access and I think the school, facility-wise, is a great venue to have the stadium. You’ve got the world-class track centre, the pool, training/therapy centres. It’s a perfect location. I think the school is a huge campus. I think it’s a good spot.” Receiver Michael Palmer said, “It doesn’t matter where home is, we’re still going to be victorious there. We’re going to love it and it’s going to become our own.”

Newspapers from Vancouver to Halifax featured the news Saturday, Oct. 16, that York University was set to announce a new Argos stadium on Monday. Canadian Press said it didn’t take long for the Toronto Argonauts and Canadian Soccer Association to find a new home after the University of Toronto pulled the plug on its stadium project. CanWest News Service said the Argos have been regularly drawing crowds of about 25,000 people this season, but it remains to be seen how the suburban location will affect attendance. 

Canadian troops should be better equipped

Canadian troops sent to Haiti earlier this year on a peacekeeping mission were left “prodding and begging” for basic equipment, according to an internal Defence Department report obtained by the Canadian Press, reported newspapers across Canada Oct. 18. The report identifies a shortage of operational equipment including ballistic plates, fragmentary vests, tan safety boots and even protective latex gloves. Defence analyst Martin Shadwick of York University’s Centre for International & Security Studies said he finds the report distressing. “We’re talking equipment which in most cases seems to be pretty straightforward, relatively low-technology, that should be available in adequate quantity, and with dispatch, readily accessible,” he said. “If we’re having difficulty quickly equipping troops going overseas, and in relatively small numbers, that suggests that some corrective action is immediately required.”

A Shakespeare scholar of influence

Deanne Williams, English professor in York’s Faculty of Arts, reviewed Will in the World: How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare by Stephen Greenblatt in the National Post Oct. 16. She wrote: “One of the most important Shakespeare scholars alive, Greenblatt’s classic studies – such as Renaissance Self-Fashioning, Learning to Curse and Marvelous Possessions – have redefined not only Shakespeare studies, but literary studies as a whole. Dubbed ‘The New Historicism,’ Greenblatt’s method is to place literary texts in their historical and social contexts, paying particular attention to the workings of power and patronage. His work has influenced everyone from Dickens specialists to post-colonial theorists.” Williams is the author of The French Fetish from Chaucer to Shakespeare.

Halloween just like Christmas

Nick Rogers, a professor of history in York University’s Faculty of Arts and author of Halloween, From Pagan Ritual to Party Night, commented on the annual ritual in a Los Angeles Times story printed Oct. 16 in Pennsylvania’s Centre Daily Times. Halloween is the new Christmas, said the Times. It started out centuries ago as a festival for the dead and by the end of the 19th century, young people were taking the celebration into the streets, soaping windows and twisting street signs. In the 1900s, schools, rotary clubs and philanthropic organizations joined forces to try to instill some discipline. “It seemed as though it was tame by the late ’40s and ’50s, when trick-or-treating began,” said Rogers. Then adults began to see new opportunities for revelry, devising their own ways of celebrating, and decorating. “What you’ve got by the 1970s or ’80s, is a more diverse Halloween,” Rogers said, “and a more commercial one.”

Bilingualism means brain power

Recent studies by psychologist Ellen Bialystok of York University’s Faculty of Arts have linked bilingualism with enhanced brain power among the young and the old, reported the Montreal Gazette Oct. 17 in a series on the brain. Bialystok found bilingual preschoolers were quicker at seeing the letters of the alphabet as symbols without relying on picture book cues. She likens being bilingual to “going to a brain gym,” saying bilingual people of all ages are better able to eliminate distractions because their brains get constant practice blocking out words when they don’t need them.

Disturbing commentary on ways we represent war

As if the Middle East isn’t complicated enough, along comes an extensive new two-part exhibition at the Art Gallery of York University and Prefix Institute by Lebanese artist Walid Raad and his fictional collective, the Atlas Group – a show that intentionally blurs the already watery boundaries between history and fiction, propaganda and fact, by mixing archival photographs and other “real” materials from the Lebanese civil war with convincingly sincere (and often poetic) artist-made notebooks, films and documents. Historians beware, wrote the National Post’s R.M. Vaughan in a review Oct. 16.

Poetry basher

Toronto’s Suzanne Zelazo emerges from the York University/Coach House Press mafia to perform at the Poetry Bash at the Vancouver International Writers & Readers Festival, reported The Vancouver Sun Oct. 16. Zelazo, who is doing a PhD in English at York, works against conventional syntax with her jagged and lustrous fragments, cryptic sentences and collage esthetic. Her long poem, “Through the Lighthouse,” uncovers the poetry in Virginia Woolf’s novel of similar title. It radically abridges the book and rearranges its words. Zelazo is one of the more challenging poets ever to play the Bash, and it will be interesting to see how her writing will be received, said the Sun writer.

Planner named to hall of fame

Land development consultant Michael Bryan has been inducted into the Hamilton-Halton Home Builders’ Association Hall of Fame, reported The Hamilton Spectator Oct. 16. He graduated from York University with a BA in urban studies in 1979 and is a registered professional planner and a member of the Ontario Professional Planners’ Institute. He runs his own development consulting business.