Monday, November 19, 2012

Work placement

First semester of CreComm year two is coming to an end this Friday. As apart of the program, the second year students get to go on three weeks of work placement.

My work placement is at the Winnipeg Sun and I will be doing some sports writing. I am very excited as I've always wanted to get into sports journalism and this is a great way to get my foot in the door.

Looking back to last September, I didn't know what I was getting into when I entered CreComm.

I had just spend two years at the University of Winnipeg and to be honest, I didn't feel as if I was going anywhere. So, I decided to throw my name in for CreComm and I got accepted.

Since then, I've learned so much about journalism and if you told me 12 months ago that I'd be working with the Winnipeg Sun for three weeks, I would have laughed.

Now it feels like I have a career path and that I will be making a mark in this industry soon enough.

Coming to Red River College was the best decision I've made in my life and with a lot of hard work, it looks like it'll pay off.

I'm looking forward to the stretch run of CreComm.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Bruce Springsteen

This long weekend, I had the pleasure of driving down to St. Paul to see Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band perform for the second time.

The best part about Springsteen shows are the people you meet and the stories you hear. And the saying, "everyone has a story" is so very true.

One that sticks out is when my step-father and I met an older lady, who was celebrating her 88th birthday the following day - which happened to be the night of the show.

She was from Jersey and has been following Bruce since 1974. She's seen over 400 shows and danced with him on stage in past shows.

To my shock, she was on the floor for this concert - and happened to get into the pit (as did I). Once Springsteen started playing Dancing in the Dark late in the show, he walked over towards her, picked her up from the crowd, brought her on stage and started dancing with her. It was one of the highlights of the show - and it shows how Springsteen can connect with the audience like no other musician can.

Going to a Springsteen show isn't a concert - it's an experience. During the weekend, I met people from Austin, Texas; Detroit, Michigan; and the craziest yet - Australia. Springsteen fans are amongst the most passionate that you'll ever meet.

They all had crazy stories and they all shared one thing in common - a love of music - and that love connected them - even if they live thousands of miles away from each other.

If you ever have the chance of seeing him live, I would recommend it. Besides creating five decades of great music, Springsteen's live shows are superb. He plays three hour shows and unlike many bands who have static set lists - he changes his every night.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Writing comedy

As apart of my comedy class, we had to perform three minutes of stand up at Rumor's Comedy Club.

I was pretty nervous - not about perfroming - but writing 180 seconds worth of "funny" material.

Being a journalism student definitely helped me with my writing process. I was able to write a "story" about elevators, while still making it punchy and funny - well, funny to some people anyways.

And on Sunday night, I was able to test out my material at a sold out Rumor's Comedy Club.

Surprisingly, it went well. Being on stage was a great experience. The lights were bright and the crowd was into the stand ups.

While I was up there, it seemed like the three minutes flew by. And when I got off the stage, I felt disappointed.

However, when I was able to re-watch my stand up, I was pleased with my performance - considering it was my first time on stage.

So for future CreComms, I would highly suggest taking the comedy class. Number one: It's fun. But more than anything, you'll learn a lot about yourself when you have to write and perform stand up in front of complete strangers.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Small town papers vs large dailies

While working with the Portage Daily Graphic in the summer, I had to unfortunately cover two deaths - both car accidents on the Trans-Canada Highway.

The first was east of Portage in early July. A truck had rear ended a car that was turning off the highway and the crash killed the female passenger. Being late on a Friday, I was the only one in the office, so I had to cover the crash.

So many emotions were running through my body when I arrived at the scene to take photos of the wrecked metal strewed across the highway and into the ditch. The passengers and drivers were taken from the scene already.

When talking to people who witnessed the crash, they would all say, "I can't imagine how the family feels."

Even worse are the cases where families find out about deaths by media - instead of police.

This leads to the question: Should media sources rush to get the names of deceased out to the public? Now, I'm not talking about murders or crimes such as that.

In the cases of car accidents, hit and runs and other incidents of that nature, I don't feel it is important to have the names released to the public.

But in the current day of media, where every news source wants to be first to the punch, I feel they disregard the feelings of families just to break a story first.

In Portage, we wouldn't release the names until we felt enough time would have passed and family members of the deceased would have been notified.

Because Portage was a such a small tight-knit community, everyone knew everyone, and that made the subject a little more touchier than a death in Winnipeg for example.

I'm not sure how other newsrooms work, but I think for Portage, it was the right choice.

Winnipeg is a much different market. As sad as it is to say, people are used to murders here in the city and unlike Portage, communities are not as close.

This is why Winnipeg papers have a much different feel than smaller towns. While Portage certainly doesn't shy away from harder stories, there is a focus on feel good stories.

And that is something that isn't seen much in the Free Press or Sun.

As a writer, I always hated covering the fluff stories. I wanted to break a drug bust or some harder breaking news. But when that hard news rolled around, it didn't do anything for me.

It's not that I didn't want to beat Portage Online (the Portage rivals) to the crash scene, or the large fire; it was that I realized that I would rather be covering a feel good story than a death or anything of that nature.

Either way, it's interesting to compare rural papers to the big cities. The difference in stories is just mind-blowing. With the horrible stories you see day-after-day, it's nice to open a paper and see a strong community doing great things.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Lance Armstrong

Last month in The Projector, I wrote a column defending Lance Armstrong and the doping allegations that he was facing from the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA).

While I did say it was likely he doped, I couldn't say he did until the USADA provided the necessary evidence.

Well, the USADA released hundreds of pages of Armstrong's former teammates saying he doped on multiple occasions. Now the International Cycling Union (UCI) has stripped Armstrong from his seven Tour de France titles and banned him from the sport.

I can't say much other than it's a shame that Armstrong doped. It will be interesting to see who is awarded with those seven vacant titles - especially considering most cyclists during that period doped anyways.

The most concerning question is how can a single man cheat the system so easily. While the media can and will continue to focus on Armstrong, I find it disturbing that he could cheat hundreds of drug tests - and not get caught - until now.

Cycling needs a complete shake up, much like Major League Baseball did in the mid-2000s. I don't want to say the sport is tarnished, but when the greatest cyclist is outed in this way, it doesn't look good.

That would be the equivalent of Wayne Gretzky, Michael Jordan, or Jerry Rice being removed from their respective positions as greatest in their sport.

It will be interesting to see if the public turns on Armstrong. On one hand, he is a cheat. But this is also a man that has raised over $500-million towards cancer research.

There will be a split among people. Those who can overlook his cheating because of his charity and those who have the pitchforks out and are ready to bring him down.

I'm split. I admire his charity work, but the kid inside me is just so disappointed with the news that he cheated. I remember watching every Tour de France that Armstrong participated in and he was someone I looked up to. He had character, he had guts and he was a good person. It's just disappointing that someone you looked up to turned out to be a cheat.

As for my original column in The Projector, I wouldn't say I was wrong, but I did write too much with my heart.

Monday, October 15, 2012

A Thousand Farewells

Two week ago, I had the pleasure of reading Nahlah Ayed's book, A Thousand Farewells.

While I did enjoy the book as a whole, there are sections that are much stronger than others.

I feel the first half of the book was much stronger than the second half. Ayed does a superb job of grabbing the readers attention at the beginning of the book.

Her story of leaving Winnipeg with her family, only to return to a refugee camp in Jordan is brilliant. It brings many questions to the readers mind like, "Why would her family do this?" and "What was it like to move from a nice apartment in Winnipeg to the slums across the world?"

She answers all of these questions and more.

Her journalistic experiences in Afghanistan and Iraq are almost unbelievable. I can not imagine what the guts you had to have to be apart of the Iraq and Afghanistan invasions.

It would be so hard to think about doing your job, all while living in a nation where anything can and did happen. When thinking about all the journalists who were kidnapped, attacked and killed throughout the past 10 years, it was remarkable that Ayed could spend so many years in countries of chaos.

I do think that when she gets to Lebanon, the book somewhat loses its touch. It's not that it isn't as good, I just don't find it as exciting as the first half. Maybe it's because I'm more familiar with the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts.

Journalists can learn a lot from this book, but nothing more than the fact that people make stories. It's as simple as that.

Without people, there are no emotions that the reader can latch on to. The reader needs to have an emotional connection with a story, otherwise it won't mean anything to them.

Ayed does a fantastic job of showing us that through her wonderful storytelling.

Although the book does focus on her life, the integration of the everyday people she meets and works with helps bring a nice focus to her story without making it look like it's all about her.

A Thousand Farewell reminds me of Band of Brothers in that regard. From the outside, they don't seem similar. But each book does a superb job of tackling a larger conflicts (Afghan/Iraq War and the Second World War) and bringing in the human side, which brings out such strong emotions.

Reading the book effected me in a real way. I think television has desensitized a lot of people regarding Middle Eastern issues and none is more evident then when a headline reads "Forty or fifty dead after suicide attack in Baghdad."

After seeing those headlines day-after-day, year-after-year, you become used to it. But the fact remains that those were mothers, fathers, sons and daughters whose lives were taken much too soon.

I think the perception has to do with those people not being Canadian, so no one takes it to heart. After reading Ayed's book, my perception has changed drastically.

So head to your nearest bookstore and pick up Nahlah Ayed's A Thousand Farewells. You won't regret it.

Monday, October 8, 2012

The Portage Friendship Centre: Bringing positive change to the community

There’s an organization in Portage la Prairie that’s making a difference for everyone in the community.

During my three and half months in Portage, I was introduced to a great community organization that is making an impact throughout the town.

The Portage Friendship Centre (PFC) not only focuses on Aboriginal issues in the Portage and Central Plains area, but they regularly team up with other local foundations to help make the area a better place for everyone.

They have a large staff dedicated to improving the lives of people who are less fortunate. And every program that the PFC offers is completely free to those who want to register.

Portage la Prairie's Aboriginal Day. Credit to

Shirley Bernard, executive director for the PFC, said the organization offers many services to Aboriginals and non-Aboriginals in Portage.

“We’re a status blind organization,” she said. “We offer a variety of programs ranging from mentorship to employment advancement.”

One of their great programs is the Parent/Child Program. It offers children age’s six to twelve a chance to take part in educational activities that enhances their awareness about their own culture.

Parents are encouraged to take part in this program with their children, as it is a great tool to create a bond.

“The parent/child program is one of the programs I admire the most,” said Bernard. “It’s great to see children bringing their parents out for activities.”

Jeanna Campbell runs the program with a lot of the activities taking place at the Eagles Fire Youth Centre in Portage. The PFC staff incorporates community Elders’ to introduce a positive lifestyle to the children who go there.

Bernard said that her love of the community and people in it makes her job special.

“It makes me feel good when we can help anyone in the community,” she said. “We have an excellent staff that cares about Portage and we feel good about what we do here everyday.”

Another successful program has been the Partners for Careers program.

“We want to help people in the community acquire skills that will help them get employed,” said Bernard. “One of the aspects we target is teaching them good interview skills.”

The program also helps with resume building, as many of the people who take part will be able to work with the PFC is some fashion.

There is rarely a time during the year when the PFC won’t be holding some event or program.

This past week, the PFC held their annual Prayer Walk. The walk is to remember the missing and murdered Aboriginal women not only in Manitoba, but also across Canada.

“We had a very good turnout this year,” said Bernard. “Even though the weather wasn’t nice, we had a lot of people come out and walk with us.”

PFC holding their annual Prayer Walk on Oct 4. Photo by Robin Dudgeon/Portage Daily Graphic

With various community partnerships planned for the upcoming months, the PFC will continue to be a staple in the Portage community.

"We want to leave a positive mark on the community," said Bernard. "And we definitely encourage others to do the same."

To learn more about the PFC, what they offer and how you can get involved with them, you can visit their official website.

Monday, October 1, 2012

NHL Lockout

The NHL has been locked out for just over two weeks and broadcast journalism has taken a significant hit - especially on TSN and CBC.

As a big hockey and TSN/CBC fan, I can relate to the difficulties of having a lockout and not having much news to report - but, I cannot stand the same repetitive segments week after week.

I realize this will continue as the lockout is still young and sadly, there is no end in sight.

This has led to TSN having movie nights on Tuesdays and CBC will likely do the same Saturday movie nights as they did in 2004.

Yes, TSN has the CFL, but with no disrespect intended, the station lives off hockey. That is even more apparent with CBC.

Looking past the players and owners, television stations will have to reinvent themselves during these next few (well, hopefully few) months.

Will they be able to attain the same ratings? It's highly unlikely, but with that being said, some stations may take a hit that's too hard to come back from.

In this case, I think The Score is at a big disadvantage. With Sportsnet airing NFL, MLB and much more, their audience should stay. TSN will take a larger hit, but their reruns of major hockey games will keep some of "us" around - for now anyways.

Sadly, The Score should be on its way out. Will it? Well, that's up to the big men at Rogers.

After losing Cabbie, The Score Tonight and Hardcore Hockey Talk, the station has been going downhill. They have the best online presence, but sadly for them, it doesn't make up for everything they lack - which is good programming.

I am looking forward to seeing the changes and adaptions made by sports stations over the next three to four months - especially if the lockout lasts a full season.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Portage la Praire summer experience

Over the summer, I had the pleasure of interning at the Portage Daily Graphic. It was my first real taste of writing life and I learned a lot during my three months there.

I've always been told that you have to start in small towns - and it's true - but I didn't realize how much I'd love working in Portage la Prairie.

Hard work. The writing and covering stories was great, but it was the driving that pushed me around on some days. I feel as if I proved that I could work those long days. With the driving back and forth from Winnipeg, I was working thirteen hour days, plus writing my IPP.

I pushed myself hard over the summer and I'm glad I stood up to the test.

Jordan Maxwell, the PDG's editor, was someone who I learned a lot from. He was a great teacher and I'm glad I was able to work with him.

The stories about CreComm grads being everywhere is true too. Robin Dudgeon and Dan Falloon, who are both great writers, are recent graduates of the program. It was great to see other grads having successful careers after school.

Portage was great as well. Until May, I had never really visited the town. As I began to become more familiar with the town, I realized that it was one of Manitoba's gems.

Crescent Lake and Island Park are two treasures. On Island Park alone, you have a beautiful park, golf course, new hockey rink - and my favourite summer spot - the strawberry fields.

The people were fantastic too. Portage is a very tight community and that is something I really admire. Everyone knows everyone and they are very charitable. People in Winnipeg could learn a lot from Portage.

Writing wise, the best part about working at the PDG was that they gave you full reigns to cover a wide variety of stories. During my three months there, I covered city hall, local politics, agriculture, sports, charities and much more. They also allowed me to take my own photos and shoot my own video.

It was a learning experience that you cannot get at larger newspapers and I am grateful for the opportunity to intern there.

I would highly recommend to any first year who plans to major in journalism to see if the PDG will be open to an intern again next year. Is it hard work? Your damn rights it is. However, it'll give you great experience, you'll meet great people and you'll see if you're really cut out for print journalism.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Does Canada love hockey too much?

Roy MacGregor put out an interesting column this week in the Globe and Mail about how the NHL's lockout would be a good thing for Canada. You can read it here.

As many people know, I'm a die hard hockey fan. This article did put some issues in perspective when thinking about hockey in Canada. While I do agree with some of MacGregor's points, for the most part, I think he is off base with a lot of his arguments.

Let's start with his point about CBC's "Greatest Canadian" series held during last lockout. MacGregor pointed out that Don Cherry made the list ahead of Canada's first Prime Minister John A. Macdonald.

I remember watching this series and questioning how Don Cherry made the list - Yes Wayne Gretzky made the list, but that is completely different. He was an icon in North American sports. While I don't mind Cherry as an on-air personality, I thought it was insulting that he made the list - especially ahead of our first Prime Minister.

MacGregor's point that we overvalue hockey-related individuals is probably right. Yes, there are a few exceptions, but having Cherry has one of our greatest people is just odd. And that's not even including Cherry's anti-French and European comments you can hear every Saturday night on CBC.

Where I do disagree with him is the fourth paragraph were he mentions defining moments in Canada's history for Baby Boomers. MacGregor says that in the US, their moment was the assassination of JFK. In Canada, he says it would be "a puck going into a hockey net in another continent," which in non-sarcastic terms means Paul Henderson's Summit Series clinching goal in Russia.

I find it insulting that he decides what is deemed important and not important for a countries history. If MacGregor wanted to dig a little deeper, I'm sure a lot of Baby Boomers in the US would say the Miracle on Ice would be another "Where was I?" moment.

In fact, I'm sure you could go to most countries in the world and see that a sporting event has made a cultural impact. Sports does hold a lot of value in society. Being that the eleventh anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks just passed, I thought it would be a good way to show sports value on society.

While I'm not a George W Bush fan, this moment has always stuck out to me following the attacks - and I think it stuck out for a lot of Americans as well. It may have been a simple ceremonial pitch, but it had a much deeper meaning as seen from this video.

Anyways, even with the disagreements I have with MacGregor, I thought it was a good, thought provoking column.

Hopefully Canadians don't have to experience another year without the NHL, because whether MacGregor likes it or not, hockey will always hold an important place in our country.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Sports front offices vs the media

I've never been a fan of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers or the CFL. However, with the ongoing battle of words between the Bomber's front office and media, this seemed like an obvious issue to tackle (bad pun, I know).

It seems to me more than ever that journalists are becoming armchair coaches behind their keyboard. As an aspiring journalist, I agree that sports organizations are fair game and should have the right to be criticized - but there is a limit to everything.

Currently in Washington DC, the Nationals (Major League Baseball team) are get ripped apart by local and national media.

You see, the Nationals are having one of their best years in team history. And they are being led by one of the best youngsters in the MLB - think the Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin equivalent in baseball.

He is Stephen Strasburg - and widely considered a generational talent. Last year, Strasburg injured his arm and underwent Tommy John surgery. Coming into this season, doctors advised that the team would have keep him limited to a number of innings pitched.

All was fine until the Nationals decided to move from mediocrity to an elite team in baseball. The problem? Well, Strasburg has reached his maximum innings pitched and had to be shutdown.

This is where everything went horribly wrong.

According to many journalists, this was simply a dumb move by the Nationals. It started a large wave of opinion based articles that began roasting the Nationals front office. One of the leaders in this witch hunt has been Jon Morosi.

Led me first say I love Morosi's writing and work with the MLB; however, I cannot stand his stance on the Strasburg situation. Yes, he has a right to write what he pleases, but after the fourth or fifth story which contains the same argument and name calling, he's crossed the line.

Here is one of his articles on the situation.

With numerous doctors in the sports industry stating that it was best for Strasburg to be shutdown for obvious health reasons, this did not stop the media from continuing to voice their opinions - after all, they must know more than these industry respected doctors.

This brings me back to the Bomber's mess here in Winnipeg. Today, Gary Lawless put out an opinion piece absolutely destroying the Bombers. While I do agree with some of his column, I think he crossed the line as a journalist.

That is the line between doing a job and reporting on a team - and deciding to act like a pissed off fan who needs to take a calmer look at the situation.

As a pretty big sports fan, this looks like a piece of writing I'd do after watching one of my teams lose a heartbreaking game. It's too emotional and radical for my liking and I think he crosses a boundary as a writer. However, I know a lot of Bomber fans enjoy the piece, so maybe I'm off base?

It seems that more and more sports writers are going in this direction, though. Another example is Steven Simmons, who regularly puts out long ranting articles about the Toronto Maple Leafs. He also engages in Twitter battles with front office officials (Brian Burke and Ron Wilson for example).

I'm not asking for fluffy writing where writers are portraying teams as a perfect and incapable of producing mistakes. What I hate seeing is the same old column where the writers are acting as armchair coaches. It's annoying and after awhile, a point is crossed where the column looks no different from one of my blog posts.

If there is a journalist that has the most balance, I would have to say it's The Globe and Mail's sportswriter, James Mirtle. He has found that perfect balance between angry fan and newspaper writer. So now, I leave you with one of my favourite pieces from Mirtle. I hope you got something out of this long rant.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Fort Whyte byelection

On Sept. 4, I had the pleasure of covering the Fort Whyte byelection. Unlike last year's provincial election, this experience was a little less stressful - most likely due to the fact that we didn't have to write a story the night of the byelection.

I was assigned to cover Liberal candidate Bob Axworthy's campaign headquarters and to be honest, I didn't know what to expect.

As I arrived at Axworthy's location at Cafe 13, there were numerous signs of support for NDP candidate Brandy Schmidt outside the building. This was very odd. I phoned Axworthy's headquarters and sure enough, I was at the right place.

Unlike Jim Maloway's election headquarters last year (which consisted of a small room next to a Subway), Cafe 13 was cozy.

The atmosphere was quiet until about 8:30 and that's when many of Axworthy's supporters started arriving. Of note, Jon Gerrard, leader of the Manitoba Liberal Party, was on hand to show his support for Axworthy.

Gerrard has also seemed to take more interest in social media as he was quick to give out his Twitter handle and name of his blog.

From talking to some of Axworthy's supporters, a large portion of them knew it was unlikely that he would overtake Brian Pallister, but they all believed in Axworthy and his ties to the community.

Axworthy also acknowledged his slim chances after polls closed by saying, "Well, they (the results) speak for themselves."

Even though the outlook was grim, he tried to remain positive.

"The advance poll hasn't come in and as I've said many times, I'm a coach who plays to win," said Axworthy. "The final buzzer hasn't gone, but I clearly see what's going on (speaking about Pallister's lead).

When it was official that Pallister had indeed won the byelection, Axworthy said, "I intend and want to stay in politics."

As for doing the live "rants" on Red River Radio, it was a good learning experience. While we did practice them in class the week before, it was much different doing it live from campaign headquarters during the middle of a byelection.

Overall, it was another great CreComm learning experience.

Monday, May 14, 2012

10 Things I learned today

10. Apparently my editor says I take damn good photos.

9. While I hated working with InDesign and Photoshop, they came in handy today.

8. In a small newsroom, you better be prepared to write a ton of stories.

7. You always learn something new.

6. When an interview falls through, you better find an alternative way to finishing your story. No excuses.

5. Streeters...did two of them today.

4. Multi-tasking...cover two baseball games that are taking place at the same time...very hard.

3. Make a good impression. Be respectful and work your tail off.

2. CreComm helped me get through this day.

1. Work hard. My editor is in the newsroom 14+ hours a day. Makes you work that much harder and strive to be better.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

5th Pick in the NHL Draft

Yes, I know the 2012 NHL Playoffs are currently going on, but once again, I'll be talking about the draft.

Last week the draft lottery took place - unfortunately for Blue Jackets fans, they lost the #1 overall pick to the Oilers. The Maple Leafs stayed where they ended the season, and that is with the 5th pick.

Before the Leafs pick, I fully expect Yakupov, Grigorenko and Murray to be taken...although there is a slight chance Murray falls. The most realistic scenario at #5 would be Sarnia Sting centre, Alex Galchenyuk, to be taken. He is a solid two-way centre and has good offensive ability. Most of all, he fills our need of a centreman.

While I don't expect him to make an immediate impact, as he will probably be sent back to junior, he is not far off from being NHL ready. Then again, outside of the three names I mentioned earlier, you could argue no one is really NHL ready.

IF the Maple Leafs draft him, I could see him potentially up the year after, when Tim Connolly's contract expires.

Our second option is Fillip Forsberg, who played in Sweden this past year. He is a physical, skilled winger, who is very offensively gifted. The downside is that Toronto has an excess of wingers, so if the decision was between him and Galchenyuk, you'd have to think Burkie would take Galchenyuk.

I mentioned him earlier, but there is a long shot chance that Ryan Murray could fall to 5. If that potentially happened, even with the Maple Leafs vast defensive depth, they must take him. He is head and shoulders the best defenseman in the draft and he would solidify out D core. It could also allow us to trade a defenseman or two for forwards.

Overall, it will be a very interesting few months in the prospect world.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Dionysus in Stony Mountain

This past Tuesday, I had the treat of attending Dionysus in Stony Mountain, presented by Theatre Projects Manitoba. This was the first live play I have seen and I enjoyed the experience.

The play is split into two one-hour acts. The first act takes place in dimly lit room, within the confines of Stony Mountain. Sarah Constible plays Heidi Prober, a prison psychiatrist who is trying very hard to get Ross McMillan's character, James Hiebert, back on his medication.

Hiebert is just weeks away from parole and if he doesn't resume taking his lithium, he will not be leaving Stony Mountain. He often rants throughout the first act, citing long quotes from Nietzsche. While I admire McMillan's ability to remember such long, diluted quotes, the first act was quite dull. There was no real attention grabber during the hour and for many, it was to intellectually "out there." If you have not read any Nietzsche, then like me and countless others, you were lost for the most part.

The second act took place in Heidi Prober's home. By this time in the play, she had quit her psychiatrist job. McMillan was now playing his second character, uncle Eric.

While renovating her home, Heidi is visited by uncle Eric, who was sent by her parents. After abruptly quitting her job and ignoring family phone calls, Eric was sent from Toronto to see what was going on with Heidi.

This act was much more engaging and easier to watch. The actors were very believable and I enjoyed uncle Eric's character. McMillan felt much more comfortable in this role - or it seemed that way to me, anyways.

One small problem I had with the second act was when both actors continued measuring the insulation when it was clear that they were pre-cut. Other than that, I had no complaints with the act.

Overall, I thought my first experience watching a play was quite positive. Although the story could have been better, it was an experience that I would have not otherwise participated in if I wasn't in CreComm.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Phil Kessel

The Toronto Maple Leafs pitiful season is about to come to a merciful end, when they take on the Montreal Canadiens Saturday night. The Maple Leafs one consistent player throughout the year has been, right winger, Phil Kessel.

Coming into this season, Kessel was criticized for being streaky, and rightfully so. He had struggled his whole career to put up a full season of consistent hockey. Don't get me wrong, 30-30 seasons are very good, but he has the potential to be so much better - and this season - he proved it.

With new line mate, Joffrey Lupul, playing his first full season as a Maple Leaf, Kessel found great chemistry with him. From the first game of the year, they seemed to be click. Before Lupul's injury about three weeks ago, they were the most productive duo in the NHL.

Kessel not only proved to be a great goalscorer by potting a career high of 37 goals, but he has showed his playmaking skills by recording 45 assists to date.

Although Lead Nation will once again be playoff-less this season, Kessel has been the bright spot and will continue to be one of the leagues best wingers.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Journey for Justice

About two weeks ago, I delved into Journey for Justice, a book that chronicles the murder of Candace Derksen and the trial of her killer, Mark Grant.

The book has works very well for the first half, but when Mark Grant is introduced, it takes a turn that I am not a fan of.

Not knowing a lot about Candace Derksen's disappearance, part one was easily the most enjoyable section of the book. Mike McIntyre does a superb job re-telling the events of the day when Candace went missing. This, along with exerts from Wilma Derksen, round the story out very nicely.

The one major aspect about the first part that was intriguing was MBCI and the Redi Mart. It struck a small nerve with me, because I used to live in that area and I have been to that Redi Mart hundreds of times as a kid.

I think that it made the book much more relatable and even though this happened almost thirty years ago, it happened in a "safe" neighbourhood and a place where I would feel comfortable raising kids.

The part of Journey for Justice that I did not like was part two, when we were given about twenty-pages of psychologists describing Mark Grants problems. There first few reports were alright, but they seemed to drag on after the fourth report.

The inclusion of Winnipeg Free Press articles didn't work well for some of my classmates, but I fully enjoyed them. It gave the last section a fresh outlook. However, like the Mark Grant section, McIntyre went overboard with the use of articles.

When comparing Journey for Justice to other pieces of non-fiction, it has a style that I haven't read before - which may be because I read a lot of war books. The use of the 3 parts in Journey for Justice works very effectively, and is much easily to accomplish then trying to create a weird transition in time.

We had the pleasure of meeting Wilma Derksen and Mike McIntyre during our seminar class last Thursday. While McIntyre was very interesting, speaking about the journalism aspect of the book and his career, I would have liked to hear a full hour of Wilma. She spoke with such great poise and it was a pleasure to hear her side of the story in person.

Overall, I'd recommend this story to anyone from Winnipeg/ greater Winnipeg area or someone who is interested in crime novels. It definitely has a unique quality about it and while it does have some flaws, it is a very educational and enjoyable read.

Friday, March 23, 2012

It's early March...that means playo...uh...draft talk

Well, it is abundantly clear the Leafs will be missing the playoffs for a 6th or 7th straight year. Who is counting anymore?

Although we are far out of 8th, Leaf Nation is still watching the standings. Sitting in 5th last, and having a chance (a real small chance that is) at possibly moving up to 1st, it is hard not to look forward to the draft in June. So who will be on the Leafs radar?

#1 - Nail Yakupov...okay okay. The Leafs aren't getting Yakupov, but I can dream.

#2 - Mikhail Grigorenko...A big centre with a ton of skill. I'm holding out some hope that we can land Grigs. He'd look real good between Lupul and Kessel.

#3 - Filip Forsberg - Big, strong, talented winger. Has already been playing against men. Doesn't fill our need of centre, but he is the next best forward.

#4 -Alex Galchenyuk - Another centre with a ton of skill. The only problem is that he has been hurt a lot this yr. Still a good pick for Toronto, though.

After that, there is a large group of dman who would be alright picks, and then the 2nd tier of forwards. Not sure what happens between now and the last 8 games, but Leaf Nation should be hoping for losses.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Leaf Nation Divided

Even after losing 13 of their last 14 games, the Maple Leafs could be a point out of a playoff spot by tomorrow evening if all goes well. This losing streaking has divided Leaf Nation into two parts.

Part one makes up the group who are stilling holding out for a last ditch playoff effort. They believe that sooner or later, the losing streak will end and open up to a winning streak. The two games this weekend will determine a lot for this group of fans. Two loses and they may change their opinion. Two wins and it's business as usual.

Part two is known as "Tank Nation." A group that largely believes this team is not playoff bound and would benefit greatly if they finished in the bottom 5 and drafted a highly touted player.

As of this moment I fit in Tank Nation. I can't see this team going on a big run to end the year and the high end talent in this draft is too much to pass up. If Toronto did go on a long run and made the playoffs, I would be ecstatic.

For now though, I will keep my expectations low. 15 games left. Lets see what happens.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Rick Nash

The trade deadline is just over a week away and the big fish on the market is Columbus Blue Jackets winger, Rick Nash. With an apparent short list of teams he is willing to go to and Toronto being one of the teams, should Brian Burke make a deal for the late twenties winger?

It really comes down to the price that Columbus's GM is asking for. If it brinks on ridiculousness, then I have no problem with Burke passing. I, however hope he tries to put in a decent offer.

Now, no one really knows Nash's true value, because well, we are not NHL GM's. I think a fair offer from Toronto would include Luke Schenn, Clarke MacArthur, one of Kadri/Colborne, Ben Scrivens and a 1st. Steep? Oh, it is very very steep. I'm not sure if I'd even do that trade. Realistically though, I believe that is what will be the asking price.

It will come down to a few factors. Ben Scrivens and a 1st is not a huge loss to be honest. The crucial decision will be deciding if we should let Kadri + Schenn go. Those are two big blows to our prospect pool and depth. If Burke believes Nash can push us over the top, then he will do it.

It is a very sticky situation. There is a possibility that it won't be settled by the Feb 27th deadline and it could drag on into the offseason. In any case, I don't see Nash being a Blue Jacket in the 2012-2013 season. This is the tipping point and he will be in a different jersey next year.

It comes down to which NHL GM is willing to risk it all on this underachieving winger.

Friday, February 10, 2012

The Sentimental Side of Hockey

The Maple Leafs and Canadiens will square off for the 4th time this season and it always brings back memories of my dad. To the disbelief of most, he was an avid Montreal Canadiens fan. Thankfully for me, my grandfather made sure I became a Leafs fan. This led to many fun moments as a kid growing up.

The Saturday night battles between these two rivals would be a time where me and my dad would get together. We'd order in chinese food and watch the game at his place. It was always something Id looked forward to and is always etched in my mind when these two teams play even today.

My dad passed away 4 years ago in a car accident, but these games still hold an emotional value to me. At his funeral during my eulogy to him, I wore a Canadiens jersey. It was a special bond we shared and the same bond he shared with his father. Some people will say it is just a game, but it holds a different connection to me. It is a much deeper connection than anyone will realize.

When I turn on CBC tomorrow night, those great memories of my dad will come flooding back. It is something I cherish and hope to do the same when I become a father.

Love you and miss you, dad.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

The Battle of Ontario

The Toronto Maple Leafs defeated the Ottawa Senators in the most important game of the season as of this point. Trailing the Sens by three points with as many games in hand this morning, the Leafs had a great chance to make a positive move towards a playoff spot.

By winning in regulation, the Leafs are now only a point behind the Sens and can overtake them if they can defeat the Edmonton Oilers on Monday night.

This is a very important week for the Leafs, as they play four games in six nights. Edmonton, Winnipeg and Montreal are all very winnable games, while the other is against Philadelphia. Six of eight points should be required from this week.

It is going to be one tight playoff race.

Friday, January 27, 2012

All-Star Break

Count me in as another hockey fan who doesn't enjoy the All-Star Game or the break that comes along with it.

This is the point in the hockey season where the playoff races become very tight. In the Eastern Conference there are around ten teams in the race. In the west it is the same.

Instead of cramming in five or six games over the next two weeks, teams could have been spared the back-to-backs by ditching the All-Star break.

The Maple Leafs will lead the league in most back-to-back games, and have most of them coming over the next few months. Scheduling of course can become difficult, because most arenas host concerts and in some cases, other sports teams. However, when there is a big gap between most back-to-back games and the least it makes you think.

Historically teams playing on the second night of a back-to-back win less than 50% of the time.

The National Hockey League needs to make schedule changes.

As for the All-Star Game, I find it extremely boring and it does nothing for me. The skills competition is watchable, but outside of that, the break is a waste of time.

That is the case with most leagues though, as the Pro Bowl is most likely the worst All-Star game in pro sports.

Come Sunday, I will not be watching the NHL All-Star Game. I'd rather re-watch the NCAA National Championship Game.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Playoff Push

The next three games for the Maple Leafs are crucial for their playoff run. With 10 teams having a real chance to take one of 8 spots in the Eastern Conference.

The Maple Leafs play the Canadiens and a home and home with the Islanders. All 3 games should be wins, but with Toronto's inconsistency, that is never a sure thing.

If Lupul and Kessel keep producing along with secondary scoring stepping up, that will go a long way towards a playoff run.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Winter Classic 2013

With Bob McKenzie all but confirming that the Toronto Maple Leafs will play the Detroit Red Wings in next years Winter Classic, I cannot hold in my excitement.

First of all, it is being played at the Big House in Ann Arbor. For those who don't know, the stadium will hold around 110 000 for the Winter Classic. Factor in that about half will be Leafs fans and now I'm even more excited.

I will be attending the game with my Leaf buddies, as tickets shouldn't be too hard to get or too expensive, because of the mass amounts of seating.

The one aspect I am really looking forward to is HBO's 24/7 series. The awkwardness that Phil Kessel gives out every time he is one camera will make 24/7 worth it. I'm also interested to see how Ron Wilson acts behind the cameras and if he still says his HANTA YO speeches.

It's only the beginning of 2012, but I cannot wait until next New Years Day!

Friday, January 6, 2012

2 In A Row

After a four game road trip where the Leafs only won a single game, they have started 2012 off with a bang. With 9 of 10 games at the ACC in January, it is crucial the Leafs come out of this month with a winning record.

The Leafs opened the month with a convincing 7-3 win over a Tampa Bay Lightening team that has been playing better then their record shows. It was a huge character win.

Yesterday night, the Leafs continued their solid play by shutting out the Winnipeg Jets in a convening fashion. Jonas Gustavsson recorded both wins.

With Mike Komisarek and Mike Brown returning from injury tomorrow night against the Detroit Red Wings, the Leafs roster will finally be close to healthy. The only remaining Leafs injured are Colby Armstrong and JM Liles who are both suffering from concussions.

With a big home stand upcoming, the Leafs need to take advantage of this opportunity if they want to make a push for the playoffs.