Changes for the Canucks

 

Formerly published in The Other Press. Jan. 15 2013

Will the results be different?
By Elliot Chan, Contributor

For several years, the Vancouver Canucks have been a notoriously slow-starting team. But somehow by mid-season they pull a few winning streaks together and suddenly at the end they are on top of the league and Presidents’ Trophy winners. This year, with 48 games scheduled, every game becomes so much more important. Although the core of the team is still intact, several key areas of the Canucks’ lineup may require some tinkering. And if they are unable to find chemistry off the bat, then a short season will feel a lot shorter.

The most crucial problem is the absence of Ryan Kesler. After a shoulder and wrist surgery in the summer, the Canucks’ most valuable two-way forward is still recovering. With no schedule set for his return and Kesler refusing to risk any setbacks, the team will simply have to cope without him for the time being. Left winger Chris Higgins will be the most likely candidate to replace Kesler as the second-line centre. But concerning points, David Booth, Jannik Hansen, and Mason Raymond will be expected to pick up the slack.

Despite everything Roberto Luongo has done, Vancouver still remains a goalie graveyard. Amidst the skeletons of Dan Cloutier and Felix Potvin, Cory Schneider will now take the spotlight as the number one goalie in town. During his rise through the Canucks organization, fans have developed a bond with the 26-year-old Massachusetts native. But with Luongo’s departure imminent, how many chances will the fan base offer before the faith in Schneider, like that in his predecessor, runs dry?

While GM Mike Gillis was fairly idle with free agent signings this past summer, there was a notable newcomer: Jason Garrison from the Florida Panthers. With a six-year contract in place, Garrison is taking on big shoes replacing Sami Salo on the blue line. For some, the lockout was a blessing and that was just the case for the White Rock native. Garrison had been nursing a groin injury when he was signed, but now the 28-year-old player is ready to hit the ice with his new team.

The Canucks’ depth has been one of the team’s strengths for many years and this one will be no different. But since it is a tighter schedule don’t expect to see as many line changes and swaps with the farm team. Alain Vigneault needs to see the big picture and get the team to the playoffs; that means relying on the core. Daniel and Henrik Sedin must produce points, Alexander Edler and Dan Hamhuis will need to contribute on the power play, and Corey Schneider must elevate his game and become the new face of the franchise. No pressure, or anything.

 

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Why can’t we be friends?

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Formerly published in The Other Press. Jan. 15 2013

Can you be friends with your boss?

By Elliot Chan, Contributor

Your boss, your teacher, and your local policeman—they all have two things in common: they can all cause trouble for you, and they are all human beings. We are often so concerned about the former that we forget about the latter. No matter how stressful our lives become, we must remember that despite it all, our superiors are people too, and they deserve the same respect and kindness that we reserve for friends and family. After all, so much of our lives are dictated by these individuals. Shouldn’t we at least get on their good sides?

I am not saying that you should take your boss out to dinner or buy your teacher an apple, but do take the time and develop a relationship with them. Start a conversation with your employer or teacher during coffee breaks; inquire about their interests, hobbies, and aspirations. The more you know about your superiors and the more they know about you, the more relaxing the working/learning environment will be. And whenever there’s the opportunity for perks, a friendship will only help your chances. Of course, don’t force it if a common rapport cannot be developed. But allow the chance for a relationship to evolve organically.

Any job with an authoritative status is stressful. Though it might not look that way from below, the view from above can be just as intimidating. Coercive or positional, the power is only an illusion. Your boss, your teacher, and the bouncer at the nightclub are governed by higher powers and are simply doing their job. Although their role in your life might be unpleasant, there is no reason you should detest them.

Many people see being friends with an authority figure as taboo, but that is only because those people are overwhelmed by their own hierarchical prejudice. Since the boss and the teacher are above them financially and in expertise, then surely they must also be above them socially. But that isn’t true. Social class is a fabricated idea and not a boundary. Others might see those people with friends of higher status as someone shamelessly attempting to climb some corporate or academic ladder. They might be—so what? Like everyone else, bosses and teachers can usually tell those sucking up from those who are genuinely friendly and approachable. Being able to present yourself in a well to do manner is an important skill and something to be proud of.

Imagine yourself as your superiors. Sure, you want to remain professional, and you want to remain authoritative, but you still want to be appreciated. You don’t just want to be the person handing out the pay cheque, or the one marking the homework. You want to influence and inspire, and the only way to do that is through clear interpersonal communication. Friendship is merely something that grows from the relationships we sow.

Douglas Students’ Union hosts first pub afternoon event of 2013

 

Formerly published in The Other Press. Jan. 15 2013

By Elliot Chan, Contributor

On January 8, the first DSU organized pub event of 2013 supplied beer, bites, and brainy fun. Though the event had an early start time, making for a smaller crowd, it simply meant more free food, shorter wait time at the pool and air hockey tables, and a better opportunity to mingle with fellow students.

“The DSU decided to incorporate events where students can just come hang out after class,” said Chris Raeside, DSU member-at-large and event organizer. “We wanted to create a beer garden vibe so students don’t have to go home and then come back.” The event’s time allowed for those who chose to attend a chance to relax before heading home. “We aim to cater to different crowds,” said Raeside, “perhaps we would have it earlier next time.” The last pub afternoon at Douglas was held in the summer, while the sun was out at four o’clock and the patio was open.

But time was not a factor for silent trivia. After 20 questions concerning sports, movies, and geography to name a few, a sudden death showdown took place. A 17 to 17 tie between Alex Gibson, Humanities/Print Future student, and our very own staff writer, Eric Wilkins, increased the drama. The victor got to walk away with a round of free beer and bragging rights to last the whole year. The deciding question was “what year did Facebook open up to users the age of 13?” After three rounds of incorrect answers, Gibson managed to answer correctly: 2006.

However, Douglas’ new trivia champion was not crowned without controversy. Upon further review, DSU organizers realized that Wilkins had originally gotten a total of 18 out of 20 correct and was in fact the overall winner, therefore making the sudden death playoff redundant. But in a fine display of Douglas College class and sportsmanship, handshakes and drinks were shared and not the bitter reprise of competitions.

“It’s all for fun,” said Wilkins, lounging in his chair, enjoying the splendor of victory and a bowl of Cheetos. “I’ll just have to defend my title at the next event.”

January 24 is the date for the next DSU pub night with “Graffiti” as the theme. So take a moment out of the doldrums of homework and classroom for a “Flippy Cup” competition, free food, and a welcoming atmosphere.

 

A love letter to the capital cursive G

 

Formerly published in The Other Press and Cupwire. Jan. 8 2013

 

From Elliot Chan

Dear Letter G,

I didn’t think much of you the first time we met. I was young and ignorant and you were just amongst the other 26 letters hidden somewhere in the middle, quiet and passive. I apologize now for the way I neglected you. Remembering all of those hours wasted with vowels—those damn popular vowels. Hell, I still find myself asking sometimes, “Why?” Why couldn’t I see something so obviously in front of me? Can you blame a fool for learning? It was as I matured that my view changed about you. Learning cursive was like seeing the tomboy dolled up on prom night.

Stunning. Suddenly the “Plain Jane ‘G’” I remembered as a child was all grown up. Your curves, your points, and the way you swoop up at the end when I write you. You are like no other letter in the alphabet. Nay, there is no other character in all of language like you. You are the perfect symbol, the perfect image, and the perfect mark. There is something about that little loop on your top left, like an eye. I know you see me, winking at me. I see you too, but you know that already.

I envy the Ginos, the Gunthers, and the Guys, because I too wish I had the privilege of scripting you every time I sign as myself. I’ll think of you in every cheque I write, in ever contract I receive, and in every credit card purchase I make. Sadly, you are a rarity and a treat. I find you in intimidating moments when I open sentences with “God,” “Gun,” or “Girl,” but then you sooth me with inspirations such as “Glorious,” “Great,” and “Glad.” Regardless of the meaning, every word with you in it is significant.

I can’t help but pity other letters. The lower case “A” with its ambiguous form, the loop, the vertical line on the right, but what about the arch above? Like many others I neglect that extra modification, but some believe lower case “A” needs cosmetics. Some letters are just the means to an end. Such as the cursive lower case “R” and lower case “N,” they always look the same when I write too fast. I see nothing in them. There is no other letter with your distinct characteristics, but that is not to say they don’t try.  There is the capital cursive “Q,” uncommon unless it is used as the number 2. The capital “Z” built with impressive curves, but it’s aesthetically a “J” that workouts. Your closest comparison is perhaps cursive capital “S”, but the extra flourish it requires takes away from its beauty. “G,” you remain my one and only.

I know it is crazy, because we are so different. You, the seventh letter in the alphabet, and me, a human man going through a complicated phase, but I believe we can make this work. Consider it a game or consider it growth, but whatever it is we are doing, I know you are write for me. So take a step back and look at the big picture. If your love is a prison, then I hope my sentence begins with the letter “G.”

From the tip of my pen,

E-Unit

 

Canadian crease

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Formerly published in The Other Press. Jan. 8 2013

The future of goaltending for Team Canada

By Elliot Chan, Contributor

Imagine a golfer trying to sink a par three putt on a football field with a game in progress. In a sense, that is what goalies are—individuals playing their own sport in a larger game with all the pressure that nobody notices until they make or break. It is a unique position that requires mental and physical stability and that is what makes it difficult to pinpoint a consistent future for these athletes.

Malcolm Subban was the first goalie to be touted as the bona fide number one starter for Team Canada in the World Junior Championship since Carey Price in 2007. Needless to say, quality goaltenders don’t emerge often. Even when one does well in the World Juniors it doesn’t necessarily mean success in the NHL. For example, in 2006 Justin Pogge won the MVP and helped Team Canada capture their twelfth gold medal in the tournament, only to end up being shipped around from Toronto to Phoenix in his professional career without ever achieving the same level of accomplishment. Few goaltenders are able to savor a lengthy career, but those who do become legends.

As Martin Brodeur’s career wanes, all eyes are seeking the new fixture in Canada’s crease for the upcoming Olympics and World Championship tournaments. With the memories of Roberto Luongo’s 2010 gold medal performance tarnished by his inability to win the Stanley Cup, hockey fans can turn their attention to others remaining on the top notch. Cam Ward of the Carolina Hurricanes has a Stanley Cup ring, a Conn Smythe Trophy, and a gold medal from the 2007 World Championships. Marc-André Fleury also has a Stanley Cup ring and was the third string goalie in the 2010 Olympics. Many suspect that it will be his turn to take the helm and solidify his legacy as the starter in Sochi 2014. Finally, there is heavily ridiculed BC boy Carey Price, famous for mimicking Patrick Roy and telling hometown fans to relax. His stats aren’t as prestigious as the others, but I believe that team Canada would benefit from his fiery attitude.

Like any other profession, good consistent performance is what sets those who are great from those who are merely decent. Goaltending is no different. But when it comes down to a one game winner-takes-all, even the best rely on luck. On January 3, 2013, the USA defeated Canada in a 5-1 slaughter at the World Juniors. Subban was pulled after allowing four goals on 16 shots during the second period, far from top prospect caliber. For now, the Boston Bruins’ draft pick remains a prospect, but with mental and physical conditioning, I foresee Subban making a big impact with the Canadian squad for many years to come.

Other top goaltending prospects for Team Canada’s future include Braden Holtby of the Washington Capitals, Mike Smith of the Phoenix Coyotes, Devan Dubnyk of the Edmonton Oilers, Corey Crawford of the Chicago Blackhawks, Jonathan Bernier of the LA Kings, and Brian Elliott of the St. Louis Blues. The competition for Canada’s crease has never been so openly contested and it’ll be interesting to see who will step up and face the privilege of ultimate pressure.

Realistic resolutions

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Formerly published in The Other Press. Jan. 8 2013

Achievable goals for the New Year

By Elliot Chan, Contributor

Here we are again—another year—and yes, I know what your plans are. I know you want to get back in shape, get out of debt, become involved in a steady relationship, and move forward in the world. Hey, maybe 2013 is your lucky year, but let’s be honest: 365 days might not be enough time to accomplish all of that. So let’s take a moment and have a look at some fulfilling and achievable goals. It might not be the overall objective, but it will be better than nothing.

Use technology as a bridge for human connection, not as the means. You’re a busy person and it’s obvious you love the new phone you got on Boxing Day. But don’t waste your life staring at the screen. Set a limit to how much you text someone throughout the course of the day. If you exceed the limit, force yourself to call the person or hell, pay them a visit.

 Quit complaining, or at least complain less. Develop a positive attitude for less than positive situations. Don’t huff and puff because there is a long line for coffee, or whine about the late bus or the idiots taking their sweet time making a left turn in traffic. The world is not out to get you, though sometimes it might feel that way. Complaining does not help. In fact, it makes every bad situation worse because you only focus on the negative. It’s time to change your perspective.

Try new food and music. Forget eating healthier, I have no intention of preaching about diets. I only want you to be aware that Vancouver has one of the biggest culinary communities in the world. You can walk down the promenade and order dishes from anywhere. It’s a shame to waste an appetite on McDonald’s or a granola bar. And don’t just listen to the radio where they force-feed you the mainstream rubbish. With websites like grooveshark.com and songza.com, there is no reason not to venture out of your genre and experiment. The discovery of good music is overwhelmingly satisfying.

Keep a sketchbook or a journal and stay creatively active. We worry so much about our physical health that we forget about our mental health. Keep your thoughts in shape by allowing them to be active during periods where your body is waiting to transport your brain somewhere else.

Relax and occasionally spoil yourself. The world won’t fall apart without you, despite what people make you believe. Take a siesta and wake up to work even harder. Instead of procrastinating, actually relax.

No matter what you end up doing, a good outlook and an open mind will help you achieve those high expectations. I wish you the best of luck, and I’ll check up on you again this time next year.

 

‘The Hobbit’: an unexpected trilogy

Formerly published in The Other Press. Jan. 8 2013

Better than the book!
By Elliot Chan, Contributor

4/5

Like most, I was skeptical when I heard that The Hobbit was being stretched from a 300-page children’s novel into three movies. But as the credits interrupted the story I was so engulfed in, I realized that I could have sat for six more hours. The rumour of Peter Jackson making The Hobbit into a trilogy to milk money out of loyal fans had been vanquished, for Jackson told the story the way it should have been told.

J. R. R. Tolkien can be referred to as many things: academic scholar, linguistic genius, an imaginative author, yet nobody reading his novels can ever say that he was a compelling storyteller. The Hobbit, though immensely popular, always read like a second draft awaiting Tolkien to fill in some key information. Since discovering Middle Earth at the ripe age of 11, I revisited the novel twice, each with a declining appreciation. But don’t get me wrong, I love Tolkien, and I am forever thankful that he created his fantastical world, only so that Jackson could make it one that generations to come can enjoy.

However, the new technology caused the film to lose some authenticity. Some may argue that combining 3D with the new 48FPS made for better image, but during dialogue scenes and sequences with little to no action the film felt jarred and sped up. Unlike The Lord of the Rings, where Jackson relied mainly on stunt actors for battle scenes, the over usage of CGI in The Hobbit cannot be ignored. Many of the generated characters were unimpressive, and caused the film to actually look dated.

Still, the flaws were few and far between—and most of them were caused by Tolkien’s eclectic storyline. The 13 dwarves were the most problematic, but Jackson coped by centering the plot on Thorin Oakensheild (played by Richard Armitage). Like Viggo Mortensen and Orlando Bloom, Jackson has a knack for finding talented heroes. After two decades in the film and television industry, the dues have finally been paid. At moments pitiful and others despicable, Armitage shows off his range as a brooding dwarf king determined to reclaim his home from a dragon named Smaug.

Another gem of the film is Martin Freeman’s performance as Bilbo Baggins. The long time British television star famous for playing alongside Ricky Gervais in The Officeand Benedict Cumberbatch in Sherlock, has the charm and sense of comedic timing that gives classical gags an organic feel.

From dwarven tomfoolery to tension-building riddles, the first installment of The Hobbit has raised the bar for the second and third. But with its cliffhanger ending, one can only imagine that the worst part of the up-coming movies would be the waiting, and not the walking.

ode to the Grinch?

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Formerly published in The Other Press. Dec. 4 2012

Christmas traditions that should be eliminated

By Elliot Chan, Contributor

The word “tradition” brings a shiver down my spine. How can intelligent people be subjected to these mindless habits, and worse, why must they pass them on from generation to generation? It’s time for us to kill some traditions and move on, before they do the same to us.

As the holiday season approaches, I brace myself for all the shameful acts we’ll do just for the sake of tradition. Of course, I don’t have to look far. All I have to do is open my curtains and there they are: my neighbours’ Christmas lights hung from their rafters, rooflines, and porch railings to prove to the community that an upper middle class family resides within. Every block has an overzealous decorator, and while most houses are quietly conserving precious energy, these homeowners decide to add to the light pollution. Even with the new LED lights, the festive tradition is still a complete waste of energy. According to the Department of Energy, LED Christmas lights in an urban city still consume over 31,000 kilowatts (10 times less than incandescent) during the course of the holiday season. Considering that on a regular day a household only uses 16-20 kwh, we must prioritize our First World privileges. The only people worse than those who put up Christmas lights early are those who are too lazy to take them down. We’ll speak again in February.

I’m not a tree hugger, but seeing a young, healthy evergreen amputated from the earth and set to slowly rot in a living room doesn’t seem right. “But fake, plastic Christmas trees don’t have the fresh smell,” you say. I really wish that was a legitimate argument, but it isn’t. It can’t be, not in this day and age when we slap someone over the head for not recycling. Stop being so stubborn and at least make an effort. That’s not to say artificial trees are any better. Producing plastic creates by-products that are extremely harmful to the environment. These inauthentic trees leave a far more damaging carbon footprint than real ones. So dismiss the Christmas tree this year and take a sniff: “Ah… A fresh tradition.”

The generous act of giving is perhaps one of humanity’s most positive traits—surely that can’t be a bad tradition. It isn’t, but the fanatic desperation to find a gift is. There’s no such thing as a perfect gift. Eventually it’ll become garbage—broken down or shoved in the garage alongside the plastic tree. There are meaningful gifts, and then there are thoughtless gifts. Most of us can recognize one from the other, there’s no hiding it. The stress to find something meaningful turns generosity into unpleasant despair. There’s no reason for the shopping mall to become a war zone. Change this tradition. I’m tired of receiving knick-knacks and coupons for 10 per cent off after a $50 purchase. Share an experience with your loved ones. Take them out to dinner, go on a trip, and create a memory that doesn’t revolve around a stuffed animal or a box of chocolates.

It’s not my intention to ruin Christmas or the holiday season, but we must acknowledge that as the world changes, so must our traditions. If we’re going to preach about a better environment, a better community, and a better life, perhaps we should replace our white Christmas with a healthy green one.

The triumphant return of Georges St-Pierre

 

Formerly published in The Other Press. Nov. 27 2012

By Elliot Chan, Contributor

Canadian UFC fans all across the country were holding their breath as Georges St-Pierre returned to the octagon after a 19-month absence. After tearing his ACL while training for a welterweight title defense against Nick Diaz in UFC 143, GSP began his long road to recovery that involved surgery.

On November 17, St-Pierre and interim welterweight champion Carlos Condit headlined UFC 154. Condit replaced GSP in the fight against Diaz and took the unanimous decision. Condit had been waiting patiently for months for GSP to recover and at the Bell Centre in front of a packed house in Montreal, he finally had a chance to take home the undisputed title.

“Somebody asked me in the locker-room, ‘How’s Georges looking?’” said St-Pierre’s striking coach Phil Nurse prior to the event, “you know what? The last time I saw him like this is when he flattened Matt Serra at the same arena.”

Without missing a beat and appearing in full athletic form, St-Pierre took the valiant contender to five rounds, dictating the fight with a formidable ground game and regaining the title in unanimous fashion. Condit was only able to defend against St-Pierre’s take downs one in eight attempts.

“Obviously that’s not where I wanted to be, I didn’t want to be under Georges taking elbows,” said the challenger after the fight. An early strike to the temple caused Condit to bleed profusely late in the first round, when St-Pierre effortlessly got through his guard. However, despite looking like a horror movie victim, Condit did not back down. In the third round, he snuck in a high kick after a series of jabs. The left leg struck St-Pierre in the head and knocked the welterweight champion down to the mats. He would have lost the title then and there, had it not been for his flexibility and strength. “I thought I had him there,” said Condit.

But St-Pierre had spent many hours honing his ju-jitsu just for that situation. Eventually, the champion’s wrestling over matched Condit’s and he managed to get back to his feet with only visible damage to his face. But it was St-Pierre who landed the majority of significant strikes 71–36.

“I’m sure he feels like he got hit by a bus right now. I’m not even going to talk to him about it for a couple of weeks,” commented Dana White, President of UFC, when asked about the potential super fight with GSP against middle weight champion Anderson Silva. But he adds, “I think we can get it done.”

For years now, the debate has been raging on about who is in fact the best pound for pound fighter. Most loyal GSP fans will not change their mind, but Silva has yet to be challenged in his own weight class the way St-Pierre had with Condit. Although I am certain White could make the event happen, I don’t believe the match should. As skilled as St-Pierre is at the moment, a challenger like Silva may be too overwhelming, especially after an injury. I suggest that instead Silva should raise his weight to 186 lb and face light heavy weight champion Jon “Bones” Jones.

When healthy hurts

 

Formerly published in The Other Press. Nov. 27 2012

The dangers of too much healthy eating
By Elliot Chan, Contributor

Our nutrition is perhaps the wisest investment we can make in ourselves. Yet, in today’s culinary culture, the food chart we grew up understanding has become rather skewed. What we once considered healthy may not be anymore, and diets that are meant to make us feel better can do more harm than good. Stress, guilt, and depression may seem like adversity to a better lifestyle in the long run, but for now it’s best to recognize that the term “healthy choices” should be written with an asterisk.

“An apple a day,” they used to say, but the orchards have evolved. As high fruit diets are gaining popularity, we must consider the modern methods of growing fruit. Hybridization has allowed farmers and scientists to create larger fruits for less. But while not only bigger, they are also sweeter than their wild counterparts, leading to health issues caused by excessive fruit consumption. These can include dental decay, hormones imbalance resulting in cardiovascular diseases and diabetes, osteoporosis, wasting of muscle tissues, inability to maintain a healthy weight, chronic fatigue, skin problems, thinning hair, weakening nails, and excessive irritability. Be sure to moderate a fruit diet with milder choices such as tomatoes and zucchini, as well as lettuces and other greens.

Many weight lost diets are introducing high intakes of fibre. But despite the positive attributes like reduced chances of colon cancer, regulated blood sugar, and digestion aid, excessive consumption can be both harmful and embarrassing. Some symptoms of consuming improper amounts of fibre are cramping, diarrhea, malabsorption, constipation, intestinal gas, and intestinal blockage. To avoid uncomfortable circumstances, adults are recommended to consume no more than 25 grams of fibre a day and do so with ample water.

Another diet that has become trendy over the years is the raw food diet. Sure, the benefits of eating raw food can fill a long list, but it only takes one risk to make dieters stop and reconsider. Acidic fruits such as oranges, grapefruits, and pineapples are great sources of vitamins, but too much acidity can damage teeth enamel. Limit yourself to two oranges or one grapefruit a day. You can also try blending various fruits, both acidic and non-acidic, into a smoothie in order to limit negative side effects.

Those who want to maintain a healthy intake of protein while committing to raw foods may wind up hording nuts. Although nuts are a good source of protein, they are also very high in fat. This can lead to fatigue and imbalanced eating habits, since nuts are known to cause cravings. The recommended daily intake is about 60 grams. Alternative protein sources are vegetables, seeds, and seaweeds.

Healthy eating is personal and will take time to determine. It is more than meals; it is a life style, and therefore should be individually researched and experimented with. Proper nutrition is a healthy investment, but like your mutual funds and savings, it never hurts to speak with a professional. A consultation with a nutritionist can save you a lot of grief and money, as well as help you determine a healthy goal.