The Last Quarter of 2019!

It’s October 4th, and that means we’re officially in the last quarter of 2019. As always, it feels like April was 2 weeks ago, but here we are. Where did the time go? What should we do with the remaining 11 and a half weeks? Sure it’s rainy and getting darker by the day and midterm stress is piling up, but thankfully, this time of year still holds many important annual dates of the calendar to get excited for. Plus, there’s always something to do in Vancouver if you look hard enough!

First off, Canadian Thanksgiving is only 2 Mondays away, and with that comes a long weekend to spend with friends and family.  If you’re a university student or around the age of one, this is an especially exciting weekend because all of your friends that go to school away from home come back for the first time since leaving in September. It’s always nice to get the gang back together with a fresh crop of stories to tell and things to talk about, and that’s exactly what a month of university gives you. Even if your friends stayed local or you’re not in that part of your life, who doesn’t love the food that comes with Thanksgiving dinner? Arguably the best meal of the year, its also one of the few times that most extended families get together.

A couple of weeks after Thanksgiving, Halloween hits. Unless you hate dressing up and having fun with friends either downtown or together at someone’s house, Halloween night and “Halloweekend” is a top notch time for college students. Haunted houses and halloween parties are a great way to forget about that midterm the you have during the next week, if only for a few hours. Although Halloween is a great time, it’s very important to make the most of it now before the night consists of handing out candy to 6 years olds, and then not being able to sleep because the older kids are making too much noise outside your house. So go celebrate another year of not having adult responsibilities, grab the gang, and get spooky this year!

Now, I won’t lie, usually November is pretty bleak. However, during most of the month, the anticipation of being done with another semester of tests, quizzes, and midterms is also rising. In November, the light at the end of the tunnel starts getting a little brighter, day by day. Next thing you know, the Americans are finally catching up to Canada and celebrating Thanksgiving, lights are being put on houses, and December is upon us. The weather is bad but spirits are high, because now, there’s only one more round of exams before a glorious 3 week break that gives us Christmas and New Years. Just like that, 2019 is wrapped, and so is another decade. Lots of things have changed since 2010, so enjoy these last 3 months before we enter the 2020’s and never look back. 

If the annual lineup of late-year celebrations and holidays still doesn’t have you at least a little excited, its ok. Vancouver has many things to do at this time of year, like going to a Canucks game for example. Yea, they’re still not the best team in the league, but it’s a much more exciting squad on the ice this year compared to the product from the past few seasons. Plus, if you’re a student, there’s a good chance that you can get some student prices for certain games, which gives you yet another great reason to get out of the house and enjoy some hockey. The Canucks just started a new season, so fan excitement will be high in the first few home games as well. If hockey isn’t your thing, another option that is open until October 11th is the Vancouver Film Festival. It’s one of North America’s biggest film festivals every year, with over 140 000 movie fans coming to watch films over the 16 day festival. Going to a show is pretty convenient too – just show up to the box office and pay at the door and you’re in! 

Although it’s a Halloween themed attraction, Fright Nights at the PNE is another great adventure in October. The annual takeover of PlayLand runs from today until Halloween night, and is always a favourite for all types of people. Fright Nights gives a new atmosphere to the classic PNE rides that we’ve all been on, with haunted houses, volunteers dressed up in costumes, and other Halloween themed surprises. 

Fright Nights (photo via Family Fun Canada)

If you’re not ready to commit to anything in the near future, the month of December brings on a whole new list of fun things to do with friends and family, because you might need to get off the couch for at least a few hours per a day as you relax with no school. Events like the Festival of Lights at VanDusen Garden, Bright Nights at Stanley Park, and the indoor Christmas Glow in Abbotsford and downtown are just some of the great Christmas options that are opened in December. Enjoying the most magical time of year surrounded by lights and holiday celebration is easy in Vancouver, it’s just up to you to brave the weather and get out there. 

Festival of Lights at VanDusen Garden (photo via Daily Hive)

Overall, this time of year can be a tough one for students. It’s always important to look forward to the good times in life, and fortunately for us, there are plenty of opportunities for great times to be had in the last quarter of the year. Hopefully this helped you remember that, or inspired a trip into the City to enjoy one of the many great things that Vancouver has to offer! Remember, it’ll be April in no time, so try to enjoy every day, even when school gets hectic. 

The NHL is Back!

Finally, after months of waiting, the NHL season comes back tomorrow. It’s been a long and eventful summer, with big moves being made by many teams, and excitement growing for the new class of NHL rookies. The New Jersey Devils and New York Rangers picked the first two players in the draft, Jack Hughes and Kaapo Kakko, and also added big free agents to their squads with P.K. Subban heading to New Jersey and Artemi Panarin going to the Rangers. Other contending teams like the Winnipeg Jets, Boston Bruins, Washington Capitals, and Tampa Bay Lightning didn’t change too much around, and are hoping for continued success with similar lineups. Thats always the big question in the off season for general managers. Do they keep their lineup together or shake it all up? The Vancouver Canucks managed something in between the two options this offseason, by signing mid level free agents and still keeping the core of the team together. 

Canucks general manager Jim Benning’s first move was to trade for top six forward J.T. Miller during draft weekend. During free agency, he signed the tough and skilled Michael Ferland, as well as defensemen Tyler Myers, Jordie Benn, and Oscar Fantenberg. Getting more depth on the blue line was a very smart move for the Canucks, as they have struggled with the depth of their defence for the last few years. Also, the signings of Ferland and Miller will hopefully help the likes of Elias Pettersson, Brock Boeser, and Bo Horvat carry the load offensively.

Jim Benning (photo via Sportset)

On draft weekend, the Canucks selected Russian-born Vasily Podkolzin with the 10th overall pick. Although Podkolzin has stated that he will be staying in Russia for probably two more seasons, many draft experts believe that he had the talent to be a top 5 pick, and only dropped to tenth because of his commitment to staying in Russia for the last of his teenage years. With that being said, he’s still very young, and Benning said that whoever else they could have picked around that position probably wouldn’t be playing for the team this year anyways. In the second round, the Canucks picked up a talented Swedish forward named Nils Hoglander. Although Hoglander is also not expected to challenge for a roster spot in Vancouver for awhile, fans and management are very excited about the amount of talent and skill he possesses. It seems like the Canucks have been a home for talented Swedish forwards, as first it was the Sedin twins, and now last year’s rookie of the year, Elias Pettersson doing big things in Vancouver.

Speaking of Petterson, he’s going to have to shoulder some big expectations in a big market this season. Being a star player in Vancouver is different than being a star in other smaller markets because of the scrutiny from both media and fans that comes with it. Luckily, he doesn’t have to worry about any added pressure regarding the captaincy, as that will most likely fall into the hands of Bo Horvat, while the assistance duties will be put upon Chris Tanev, Alex Edler, and Brandon Sutter. This leaves the Canucks’ youngest and most exciting players like Pettersson, Brock Boeser, and Quinn Hughes to just go out there and worry about playing their game. 

So what should we expect from the team this year? Although they’re finally starting to gain some excitement from fans, the Canucks are still a very young team and most of their players are probably a few years away from their prime. However, it’s not unrealistic to think that they could challenge for a playoff spot this year, especially in the weaker of the two western conference divisions. Grabbing a top 3 position might be hard to do with Calgary, San Jose and Las Vegas in the mix, but a wild card spot is certainly not out of the picture if the team can stay healthy, and its probably safe to say that the franchise and the city would be disappointed if they weren’t at least in the race for the wild card. As we saw last year, once you make it into the NHL playoffs, anything can happen. One of the best regular season teams of all time got swept in four games by the Columbus Blue Jackets, a team who barely made it into the playoffs at all. The St. Louis Blues made history by winning the Stanley Cup after being dead last in the league in January, and clawing all the way back to eventually upset the Boston Bruins in the Cup Finals. So yes, truly anything can happen once you make it to the post season. 

(photo via CBC)

Around the league, we’re at the time of year where every team and every player is filled with optimism. Whether franchises are looking to make significant improvements, or put themselves in contention for the Cup once again, it’s a fresh start for all. The Tampa Bay Lightning are still most people’s favourites after their incredible season last year, and their incredibly disappointing exit from playoffs. The Toronto Maple Leafs will be hoping that this is finally the year that they can get past the first round of the playoffs, with their big new addition Tyson Barrie coming from Colorado. Other teams who weren’t even in the playoffs last year will be looking to make the jump, such as the revamped Devils, Rangers, and Florida Panthers. 

Overall, that’s the best part of this time of year for a hockey fan. Predictions can be made and bets can be laid, but we have no way of knowing how it will all pan out over the next 82 games and into playoffs. So get ready the ups and downs of supporting an NHL team, and get ready for yet another season of NHL hockey. 

Kanye West – The Artist and the Person

These days, music fans are no strangers to their favourite artists delaying album releases, but supporters of Chicago native Kanye West might be the most familiar with it. Over the last year, he’s had two separate albums with release dates that came and went, and his last actual release was a single featuring controversial rapper Lil Pump on September 6th of last year. So, it should come as no surprise that his latest project “Jesus is King” has been pushed back from releases more than once in the last week. Also, it’s worth noting that there has been nothing new heard about his other unreleased album “YANDHI”, which was originally supposed to drop on September 29, 2018. According to his team, the new album is close to being finished, but every time Kanye listens to it, he hears something that he wants to change. This type of perfectionism has allowed Kanye to create some of the most influential music to hip hop in the 21st century, but has also frustrated fans for more than a decade. Out of the 11 albums that he has released during his career, only 5 have been on time, and 6 have been delayed. His longest delay was releasing “The Life Of Pablo” 531 days after the initial release date. Kanye isn’t the only artist to delay releases of albums. Lil Wayne’s highly anticipated latest album “The Carter V” was released 4 years after its original date. However, it seems to be the most normal for Kanye, and fans basically take the rumours with a grain of salt these days. 

Kanye and Lil Pump in the “I Love It” music video (photo via ET Canada)

Yet, even with the release date frustration and his own antics raising questions about the state of his sanity, Kanye remains extremely popular. In 2019, Forbes reported that he was the third highest earning entertainer in the world, behind only Taylor Swift and Kylie Jenner. This was mostly thanks to his clothing brand Yeezy, because of course, no new music has been released this year. Without Kanye’s music career though, it’s hard to know if the Yeezy brand would have ever been this popular, or if it would even be a brand today at all.

Time and time again, Kanye has proven that no publicity is bad publicity, and has remained one of pop culture’s biggest names for 15 years, thriving in a business where many have fizzled out after short periods of stardom. After publicly supporting Donald Trump, who is not a popular figure in the eyes of most fellow artists and fans in hip hop culture, West continued to raise eyebrows with concerning comments regarding slavery in America. He was confronted by a TMZ worker named Van Lathan after the interview, and you can watch that video below. However, he released the album “Ye” just a few weeks later and it became his eighth consecutive album to reach number 1 on the Billboard charts. One week after that, his collaborative album with Kid Cudi, “Kids See Ghosts” was put out, and debuted at #2 on the charts. Both albums were received well by both fans and critics alike.

So, what kind of success can we expect for Kanye’s newest album, if it ever comes out? Most likely, more of the same. Many people get tired of his polarizing behaviour and his release dates that come and go, but those same people will be some of the first ones to put their headphones on and play his music when it comes out. However, this new album could be the start of a new era for West, as the subject matter is almost exclusively religious, and he’s stated that he’s only making gospel music at this point in his career. Last week, he did shows in Chicago and New York where a few lucky fans were able to hear the new music, and one non-religious attendee told Complex magazine that “the album sounds really good, but I don’t know if I can get down with what he’s saying.” Although Kanye is probably not overly concerned with how the project is received by secular listeners, this could definitely pose a threat to the new album’s numbers as well as give some fans a feeling of alienation. Then again, we should know better than to doubt the popularity of Kanye West. 

As polarizing as he is, Kanye proves that society can still separate the music from the person. Even during his most turbulent times, West had an album go number 1. Listeners may not like the artist personally, but still enjoy their music, and there are also many other artists who can prove this much more than West. With very disturbing allegations coming to light against Michael Jackson last year, fans of the late King Of Pop reportedly could not bring themselves to watch the documentary detailing his personal life and relationship with underage kids as it would ruin their love of his music. It’s good to know that there is a threshold for what listeners can and cannot tolerate, but also interesting to see how important certain music can be for some people. 

When you reach the level of stardom that Kanye has, you’re detached from reality. You’re so famous you can’t do normal everyday things, and you have a team of people to do everything for you. It’s a very stressful life and it can be mentally exhausting. You can cross lines without realizing it or have things taken out of context and suddenly society and cancel culture is coming for your neck. However, at his level of popularity, you also have fans that will ride with you no matter what. Day one fans. People whose lives you’ve changed. With the release of “Jesus is King”, we will all see how powerful Kanye’s impact still is, and whether or not he’s at the tail end of his illustrious career. We will see if people can continue to give him a pass for a number of incidents during the last few years. We will see if he can make an exclusively religious album and still achieve mainstream success. Most importantly, whenever the album is released, we will once again be able to see Kanye the artist, instead of Kanye the person.

Problems in the NFL

The National Football League is in trouble. Although still the most popular of the four major American sports, we’ve seen many signs in the last 10 years of a league that is slowly deteriorating and losing supporters. After averaging 17.8 million viewers for a regular season game in 2010, numbers have been lower than that in every year except 2015, and in 2017, the NFL saw their average viewership drop to 14.8 million. Over this time, there seems to be three reasons as to why this might be happening. Politics, information on CTE and head trauma, and league rules that create a lot of grey area. 

The NFL’s worst year for ratings was in 2017, which was largely due to the fact that many players around the league were kneeling during the national anthem. This was started by San Fransisco quarterback Colin Kaerpernick in the 2016 preseason, and although a few other players participated, the protests didn’t catch on league wide until 2017. Kaepernick was doing this as a protest to the mistreatment of minorities in America, and although he wasn’t harming anyone, many people took offence to the demonstration and believed it was disrespectful to the country. American president Donald Trump even suggested that owners should fire players who were engaging in the protests. Although the players had every right to do this, the whole scenario proved that politics and sports don’t mix very well together, and although athletes do have a platform to encourage positive change, fans who don’t agree with them have the same right to turn them off, which eventually hurts the league. NFL viewership did move slightly back up in 2018, but it still was the second lowest since 2010.

Another issue that the NFL has had to face is the problems associated with CTE and head trauma coming more into the light. Over 95% of all former NFL players that have had their brains scanned have shown signs of some level of CTE after retirement. Furthermore, the public is more informed about these problems through media reports and movies like Will Smith’s “Concussion.” Former players have even gone so far as to to sue the NFL for the damage the league has done to their brains and the lack of information they had about the issues going into their careers. As time goes on, it’s likely that more and more of these cases may come up. 

Finally, the league has been having issues with grey areas around their penalties. Refereeing can be an issue in every sport, but no other league has had the same degree of problems surrounding officiating as the NFL. For example, Dez Bryant’s catch in the 2014 NFC divisional round playoffs that got reviewed and reversed virtually ended his team’s season. 3 years later, the NFL admitted it was a catch. Then, just last year, the New Orleans Saints got robbed of a probable trip to the Super Bowl because of a missed pass interference call. Immediately after the game, the NFL phoned head coach Sean Payton to apologize and admit that they had screwed up. 

photo via USA Today

The bottom line is that these kind of things just cannot be happening to the biggest sports league in North America. The NFL is trying to make adjustments to rules and now allows reviews on pass interference penalties, but the system is far from perfect. CTE issues will always plague the NFL, but covering up this information is not helping anyone. Lastly, the league needs to be more open to the thoughts and opinions of its players. Although no punishment was handed down directly from the league, Colin Kaepernick has not played another game of professional football since the end of the 2016 season. 

 

cites- https://www.businessinsider.com/nfl-ratings-faced-steeper-declines-in-2017-2018-1

What You Should Know About Vaping

 

Vaping. It’s one of the biggest issues in secondary schools across the province and country right now, and yet, almost nothing is known about it. Originally designed to be a safer alternative to smoking cigarettes, it is now an introduction to nicotine for many high school aged kids. Vaping became more popular with older students in schools around three years ago, but the usage has continued to skyrocket over that time, and vapes have now made their way into grade eight and nine classrooms as well.

Although it is illegal for a minor in Canada to purchase a vape or nicotine device, the difficulty of getting one is clearly not high. There are many websites that sell these products, which makes it easy for minors to pretend that they are of legal age and buy these vapes.

(photo via Cnet)

The CEO of Juul, an American vape company, recently had to apologize to the public for the high number of teens getting addicted to the company’s products. There are also now stories from across the internet of kids being hospitalized and running into serious health issues because of vapes, but no change in usage has happened yet. A big reason for this is possibly that kids don’t think it could happen to them because, as of right now, the total number of vape-related hospitalizations is still very low in comparison to other health problems. Realistically, this is much more likely due to the fact that they haven’t been used for long enough for serious health issues to surface. As kids use vapes for longer and longer, the chances of health issues due to the vaping goes up as well.

However, there is a space for vaping in our communities. They do provide an alternative to smoking cigarettes, which is a good thing. Unfortunately, if you are not a previous smoker, it is clearly and unquestionably detrimental to your health to start using vapes, and you can still get addicted. It’s time for students to take their health into their own hands and make their own decisions on whether or not vaping is really worth the risk.

New Season, New Expectations for Canucks

 

The Vancouver Canucks’ pre-season begins tonight against the Calgary Flames with 2 games being played between the two franchises. Half the team has travelled into Alberta and will play at 6, while the other half are hosting the Flames in Victoria at 7. With hockey finally coming back and the season less than a month away, Canucks fans have a lot to be excited about in the new year, and it all revolves around their group of young star players. 

First and foremost, fans should be looking forward to watching reigning rookie of the year Elias Pettersson. The Swedish sensation tallied 66 points in 71 games last year and will be looking to improve on those numbers this season. All reports are that he has looked great in training camp so far, which is a great thing to hear for fans.

Outside of Pettersson, Vancouver will also be hoping for success from young players like Quinn Hughes and Brock Boeser. Hughes will be playing in his first full year with the club, and after being called up from Michigan University at the end of last season, his rookie year is coming with a lot of excitement and expectation. Although Boeser is yet to be signed by the team, there doesn’t seem to be too much concern from Canucks management about the situation yet. Boeser has totalled 111 points in 131 games over his first two full years with the Canucks, and has established himself as a fan favourite over that time as well. 

via Vancouver Canucks twitter page

Obviously, the Vancouver Canucks have gone through a bit of a rough patch in recent times, with no playoff appearances in the last four years and no playoff rounds won in the last 8. However, the culture is changing and fans are ready to see the beginnings of hopefully a whole new dynasty in Vancouver, led by young stars who are more than capable of turning that to reality.