Playwright found telling his play’s story ‘exhausting’

Ned Dickens has been working on his first play for, oh, about 15 years now, wrote The Globe and Mail May 5 in a preview of a series of works, including one mounted by students in York’s Faculty of Fine Arts, that premiered May 5 at Toronto’s Theatre Passe Muraille. Of course, when Dickens turned from acting to play writing as his eyesight failed in 1994, he wasn’t planning on creating what may be the largest theatrical project in Canadian history.

The gargantuan project has taken its toll on the playwright. Recently, Dickens went to York to talk to the students there who are presenting Seven, the final chapter in the cycle. He was asked to, quickly, tell the story of City of Wine from beginning to end to fill them in.

It took him an hour and afterward, he was exhausted. “It took me about three days to recover,” Dickens says. “It’s a little overwhelming, the sum total of the tragedy and the suffering of the plays.”

“Maybe it’s wrong to put them together,” he muses. “Or maybe it’s just a larger catharsis. We’re going to find out.”

Canadian army faces ‘shortage of leadership’

Canada’s army is facing a “leadership deficit” because of high attrition rates and the growing demands of the Afghanistan mission for senior officers, sergeants and warrant officers, warns the service’s top commander, wrote the Ottawa Citizen May 5. Lt.-Gen. Andrew Leslie has also raised concerns that training is slipping and that only troops destined for Afghanistan have what they need to do the job.

Defence analyst Martin Shadwick, a research associate in the York Centre for International & Security Studies, said the problems Leslie is talking about in the assessment have been building up for some time.

“What he is warning about is not surprising,” said Shadwick. “The army is going to have to work hard on solving this issue or it is going to jeopardize its future.”

Sports injuries nothing to sneeze at, say experts

It hasn’t led to broken bones or sprained wrists, but it’s still nothing to sneeze at, wrote The London Free Press May 5. Athletes and amateurs have suffered sidelining injuries when a simple ah-choo causes problems ranging from back spasms to – in severe cases – torn muscles.

Though the injuries incite chuckles and laughs, experts say the quick force is enough to hurt many people. “When you sneeze, it’s that thrust of a movement that can throw a rib off and you usually feel it in your back as opposed to your abdomen,” says Cindy Hughes, manager of the Sport Injury Clinic at York.

She has never treated anyone stricken by a sneeze but says the injury is plausible. “You just have that explosive movement and all of a sudden, bam, it’s going to hit you.”

Hughes says a forceful sneeze or even a cough, can have enough power to twist a rib, depending on where the muscle is located. That would leave the rib out of its proper biomechanical place and can cause swelling and pain. “It’s a dynamic overload of the muscle and when that happens with the muscle, the muscle could potentially tear,” says Hughes, painting a worst-case scenario.

More parents share the workload when mom learns to let go

The idea that Mother Knows Best for all things home and family is deeply ingrained and complicated by gender roles, socialization and culture, experts say. And now new research is beginning to help make sense of that maternal angst, wrote USA Today May 5 in a story that featured a modern example of division of labour.

That’s not what happens in many homes, says Andrea O’Reilly, professor of women’s studies and director of the Association for Research on Mothering at York University, in response. “[The mother] might delegate to her partner but if you have to do the remembering and the organizing, the planning and the worrying, that’s not equality,” she says. “The intellectual labour of running a household – that work is still done predominantly by women.”

Environmental quality comes at a cost

Elizabeth Brubaker’s recent letter to Ontario Farmer, ‘ALUS is gravely flawed’, is a concise and welcomed critique of the ALUS (Alternative Land Use Services) approach, wrote Tristan Knight, graduate student in York’s Faculty of Environmental Studies, in a letter to Ontario Farmer May 5. ALUS is predicated on adequately compensating farmers with annual payments for provisioning ecological goods and services from agricultural land, of which society benefits. The approach has received quite a bit of fanfare over the past few years and it is time for a thoughtful discussion of its various merits and demerits.

Brubaker cautions that ALUS does not distinguish between providing an environmental benefit to society beyond what is legally required (say, wildlife habitat or green space), and reducing an environmental harm that is prohibited under common law and/or statutory law in the province. The distinction is subtle but should be formally addressed before ALUS can be scaled up to the provincial level and made permanent, the foremost goal of the Ontario ALUS Alliance.

On air

  • Pablo Idahosa, coordinator of the African Studies Program in York’s Faculty of Arts, spoke about concerns over the H1N1 virus on CFRB Radio’s “John Downs Show” May 1.
  • Rufus Dean, professor of political economy in York’s Faculty of Arts, spoke about the global economic crisis on Ottawa’s CKCU Radio May 4.
  • Parissa Safai, professor in York’s School of Kinesiology & Health Science, Faculty of Health, spoke about the risks of contact sports on CTV News May 4.