Tag Archive | "Toronto"

The Sport of Culture



From David Anthony Hohol…

It was 22 years ago when the Toronto Blue Jays last made the playoffs. My grandfather was still alive back then. We shared such a very special relationship and sports played a significant role. From boxing to hockey to baseball, the time we shared during a sporting event, in terms of the tremendous connection we cultivated together and shared with one another, would be second only to the time we spent working the farm together, side by side with our hands and our backs, under a warm prairie sun. I miss him. I’m a middle aged man now, a father; I’ve lost things, gained others, as time and it’s relentless push keeps taking me forward towards our ultimate destination. Back to Back World Series championships for the Jays in 1992 and 1993 were indeed magical years.  My grandfather and I would sit on the edge of our seats and watch every pitch together. Stress together, celebrate together; and simply be together. I can still feel his excitement, hear his laughter and cheers, see his smile: they are memories that will live with me forever and I am blessed to have them.

At the time, I was completely unaware of just how cultural an event it was. I really had no idea what an enormous part sports plays in Canadian culture until I left Canada behind and began my 12 year trek of discovery. More than forty counties later and I could not find a single nation, let alone a region, in which sports played such a central figure in cultural, national, municipal and even individual identity. When newcomers arrive in Canada they are often caught off guard at how much time we spend talking about sports, how many people and their kids participate in at least one sport if not several, and how pro teams like the Flames and the Stampeders are on the front page of the newspapers and mean so much to so many people

From to learning how to play a new sport, to building new relationships at their own or their children’s sporting events, to cheering for Canada’s Olympic athletes, newcomers to Canada often talk of how their involvement in sports makes them feel very much connected to Canadian life. Sports more than just sport in Canada. They have the ability to connect people from different heritages and ethnicities, while providing a safe environment to explore different cultures.

For newcomers to Canada, playing and even watching sports with native or more established Canadians provides the chance to share and engage others about Canada, its culture and its history, helping them learn more about Canadian society and feel more at home. And when Canadians show interest in the sports newcomers most enjoy, the unifying power of sports is revealed.

And with that let us return to October 2015 and the Blue Jays, who occupy a very special position. They are the only Major League baseball team in Canada. Often when a team is successful it pulls together a community or city, as the Flames did last spring here in Calgary. The Jays are in the unique position to put millions of people on their edge of their seats from Newfoundland to Vancouver Island, the Atlantic to the Pacific, from the sleepy prairie town of Two Hills to the metropolis of Toronto, and in doing so pull together an entire nation. People from all walks of life and all ages, cheering on what is no less than Canada’s team. When the playoffs start I will look to my right and see my grandfather, think of how lucky I was to make and share such memories with him. And this time… I will also think about how lucky I am to be Canadian.


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Thai Girls Are Awesome


From James O’Hearn…

It’ll never happen, mostly because the Toronto Maple Leafs are addicted to sucking, and they like to fill their roster like the Oakland A’s from Moneyball (except that the Leafs ride high on a pile of fithly lucre, which makes their actions seem doubly insane), but if they did decide to take a leap into the unknown, and maybe whip up some excitement, I dont think they could do any better than signing 17 year old Wasunun Angkulpattanasuk.

Wha? Who? You say.

Just recently, at the Under 18 Challenge Cup of Asia, the Thailand team found themselves sans a goalie. Apparently male Thai’s think being a goalie is a sissy thing, which only goes to show that they haven’t seen enough footage of Patrick Roy or Ron Hextall. In any event, since none of the boys would put on the mask, the Thai team had no choice but to take on little Wasunun as their lone hope in net.

Once in the UAE, the Thai team nearly faced disqualification for this coed situation, but since the goalies don’t interact with the other players, the tournament officials argued, there would be no chance of gender contamination, and therefore she could play (*Again, Roy, Hextall, et al).

Maybe they thought a girl in net would be a great opportunity to light up the scoreboard. Who knows. But what they got was a size two skate up the rear, because this little firebrand wasn’t just standing around.

By the end of the tournament, the Thais has scored 47 goals, with Wasunun letting in only 4 total. A GAA of 1!


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Dining in Dubai vs. Dining in Toronto


ohearnFrom James O’Hearn…


I came home today an interesting comment left on my post in blandness.

The commenter, Ah pois, seemed taken aback by my apparent preference for food in Canada over food in the Middle East. The issue is a little more complicated than that, but overall, I do prefer a great deal of food in Canada to what’s available in the Middle East.
Why that is, is simple – variety.
You could be reductive, and hold that Canadian food consists of pemmican, maple syrup, beavertails, and maybe moose meat. But in truth, Canada has a much more varied cuisine than most people know.

In Dubai, I can get Arabic food, great Arabic food, incredible Arabic food. I love it to death, and I will miss it terribly when I am gone. But Arabic food really is not very varied, consisting of a combination of meat (kebabs, chicken legs), hummus, bread (pita bread), yogurt, and salad (fattoush, or tabouleh).

Like I said, the food is good, but you can tire of it quickly. So then what do you eat? Good Italian is hard to find in Dubai for a decent price. Greek food? Sorry, no gyros, since few restaurants use pork. Chinese? Nope, all you can find is either Indian-Chinese or Asian-Fusion. If hakka noodles and chicken lollipops suit your fancy, then power to you, but good luck finding any hot pot, or congee. Caribbean? Forget it. Mexican? Second rate Tex-Mex is all there is. Thai? To date I have found only one or two restaurants that can make a passable pad Thai, and forget about masaman beef. Korean? Sorry, but you are not going to find good bibimbap or kimchee around these parts. Japanese? Perhaps. There are a few good sushi joints, but forget about finding decent ramen or gyoza. Vietnamese? Nowhere to be found around here.

Better yet, how about a place that serves roast beef with gravy, roast potatoes, with freshly picked steamed carrots, broccoli, and green beans, with a pile of cobs of peaches and cream corn on the side? Sorry, but you are totally out of luck. How about mashed turnip, butternut squash, or mashed potatoes? What passes for those here is not usually edible.

Dubai is great if you love Arabic food, South Asian food, or fast food, but for anything else, you are generally out of luck. And of those three, Arabic food usually sits in your stomach like a brick, most Indian (and pretty much ALL South Indian) food leaves you looking for the Pepto-Bismol, and fast food? No explanation needed.

Wait, I forgot. You can also get good Filipino food in Dubai, but other than pancit, I don’t know many non-Filipinos who got out of their way for that cuisine.

But in Toronto…

Want Bún bò Huế or Banh Mi? Head on down Spadina, and while you are there, pick up some awesome Baozi, or the best freshly made pan fried dumplings you will find anywhere. Feel like a legendary gyro? Pop on over to the Danforth and head to Alexandros. Want Thai? There are countless places with excellent pad thai, and fresh spring rolls. Go over to Bloor and Christie, and take in some honest to god real Korean food. Head on up to Jane and Finch where you find some of the best curry goat and roti or jerk chicken you have ever tasted. In North York and Woodbridge there are numerous excellent Italian restaurants, and if you feel like hot pot or congee, then hurry on over to Markham or Vaughan.

But it doesn’t end there. You also have every European cuisine available, in addition to French-Canadian cuisine (Poutine, anyone?, and even a few decent Mexican joints.

And as always, the ubiquitous selection of Canadian blandness – corn, carrots, peas, beans, cauliflower, potatoes, squash, turnip, beets, roast beef, baked ham, roast turkey, cod fillets, salmon steaks, gravy, yorkshire pudding, butter biscuits, buns, and numrous breads. On the side, you will fine any number of clear broth soups with different fresh ingredients, a plethora of different types of salads. And then there is dessert.

What I wouldn’t give to have a freshly baked apple pie made with fresh apples, or peach cobbler, strawberry shortcake, or…you get the idea.

All of it wholesome, savory, sweet, and satisfying.

Sure there are fewer excellent Indian restaurants in Toronto than Dubai, but that doesn’t mean they’re not there.

Oh, and before I forget, there is the subject of sanitation. Do you know how many people have gotten seriously ill or died here from food poisoning this year? More than a few. In fact, government inspections have found that a surprising number of joints here, especially in Sharjah, have not only been found to be unsanitary, but engage in unsanitary practices, turn the freezers and fridges off at night to save on electricity, change expiration dates, and knowingly sell expired food.

So in all, yes, I do definitely prefer the food situation back in Canada over what I can find here.










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James O’Hearn


james_fedora_3Born in Thompson, Canada, Staff Writer James O’Hearn has long followed a passion for the written word. He has a BA from York University in Toronto and is currently working towards an MFA from the University of British Columbia, both in the discipline of Creative Writing. While in Toronto, O’Hearn also hosted CHRY 105.5FM’s literary interview show “Covered & Bound” where he interviewed authors from Canada and around the world. An international and world travelled educator, he is the father of of two and splits his time between caring for his children, and looking out for the welfare of his students. RELATIVITY OnLine’s resident satirist, O’Hearn runs his own blog at http://jamesohearn.blogspot.com.


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