March 2011 Archives
Thursday March 31, 2011
Terry McDonald is a graduate student studying in Tallinn, Estonia
It is a strange marriage of cultures. One tells of a pot of gold at the end of every rainbow while the other warns that just pointing at a rainbow will make your finger fall off. Still, there are those that make this strange, Irish-Estonian mixture work in their personal lives. And what better day for me to observe than St. Patrick's Day?
The day begins with a stroll down an 800-year-old Estonian cobblestone road to the hub of Tallinnian Irish expats (and wannabes), the pub Molly Malone's. I set about building the foundation for the day's culture-crossing by tackling a "full Irish Breakfast" - two sausages, four strips of bacon, two fried eggs, fried tomato, fried potato and toast - all washed down with the finest of Estonian beer, A. Le Coq. My peaceful cultural dabbling is almost ruined by a strikingly unfunny conversation with an alleged stand-up comedian from Montreal who is drunkenly questioning the healthiness of my breakfast choice. I consider countering with something about possibly taking the old drinking adage, "to your health" a bit too literally, but mercifully I am saved when I am beckoned to take the stage.
It is there that perhaps new ground is broken for the already well-travelled Irish cultural diaspora. Dave, Irish as can be, and your pal and gentle author, Terry, break out a 45-minute set of Irish Trad, Irish Rock and even some genuine Newfoundland favourites. Is it a testament to the cultural value of these works - some that have travelled from Ireland with people like my great-grandfathers to points all over the globe - or is just that the Irish write the best party songs in the world? Here, on this day, it doesn't seem to matter.
"It's so lonely 'round the fields of Athenry"
Our encore over, we go head to the bar and grab a round on the house from Patrick Doherty, the Dublin-born patron of our home away from home. Patrick came to Tallinn for a visit - seven years ago next month. Now, he's playing Sam Malone to our group of vagabonds and barflies. I, for one, aspire to the role of Frasier Crane, and fear being cast as Cliff Clavin instead. Regardless, pints drained, we're off to the Embassy.
Granted, the words "off to the Embassy" don't normally factor into a description of my previous St. Patrick's Days (Daze?). Still, there are benefits to being a tagalong on a holiday, so along I tag. We arrive, passing a former Estonian Prime Minister and the current Minister of Communications in the driveway. Then, we enter the world of the least politicized political event in which one ever had a bacon-wrapped scallop.
Right away, we're escorted to an introduction with the Ambassador, a seasoned Irish diplomat with a coy charm and a polished handshake/conversation. From there, we're sent to the downstairs bar. In Canadian political circles, the choice of wine is agonized over as to ensure a proper representation of Canadian interests, both domestic and international. Here, we have two French wines (as chosen by the caterer) and cans of Guinness on ice, or warm, as you prefer. It's not everyday that you get poured a pint by a man in a bowtie, but such is Irish diplomacy, it appears.
From there, we hobnob with everyone, from the Ambassador and his charming wife and CEOs of Irish/Estonian businesses, to the dregs and drifters - like Dave and me. All is in good fun and in a spirit of true community.
Still, we can't stay sensible for too long on Paddy's Day, so our troupe makes its escape back to Molly's. There's an Estonian band playing "Star of the County Down," the place is jammed and the Guinness and A. Le Coq are both flowing. The night goes on, snowflake becomes blizzard, and I, of course, end up sprawled out on those ancient cobblestones - the victim (again) of ice and the spirit of St. Patrick's Day. Still, what else are we to do? As it is so succinctly by our new friend the Ambassador, "Well, there's not enough of us for a parade, so we might as well have a party."
Terry McDonald with Irish Ambassador Peter McIvor and his wife and the senior Mr. Doherty, founder of Molly Malone's.
Terry McDonald is a graduate student studying in Tallinn, Estonia
Categories: terry mcdonald
Friday March 18, 2011
Ronalda Walsh is a former journalist and currently a communications professional in N.L.
It's in the news almost everyday: hockey player has concussion; hockey player out for weeks due to serious head injury. The latest incident galvanizing fans is that serious hit levelled against a young Montreal Canadien, Max Pacioretty, by Boston's Zdeno Chara, leaving Pacioretty with a broken vertebrae.
I'm not a nervous Nelly, but as a hockey mom the things that frighten me the most are the head shots and fighting. I know some of you are asking "what's left?" if those elements are lost. Well, there's a lot left of the great game to enjoy.
Hockey is a physical sport and when checking is done properly, it adds to the intensity of the game. My son is 13 and has been checking for the past few years. This year, he's 5 feet 10 inches tall and fills out a striking frame when he's dressed in his hockey gear and skates. I can't say I'd want to meet him head on in the middle of a game.
As his skating and stick handling improved over the year, so too did his understanding that he can put his body to other uses on the ice. He can skate well and body check. These hockey skills have helped him earn a place on a local Bantam all star team. I'm proud that his checks are clean, he doesn't try to hurt anyone and he keeps his cool on the ice.
We've had a scare or two - he's been injured, he's also delivered some checks that have hurt others. It's nerve-wracking. He's had to learn how to manage his physical presence and keep his wits about him while on the ice.
I know where this is heading. As he grows in size and skill, the hits will get bigger, faster and more punishing. Already this year, two of his teammates have suffered minor concussions.
I can accept risk of an injury to my son resulting from an accident on the ice. What I can't accept is hockey's love of fighting which increases the risk of injury. Some hockey injuries can't be prevented. All hockey fights and most head shots can be prevented.
When it comes to setting an example, I think minor hockey leagues have done well in recent years with efforts to raise awareness and educate young hockey players and coaches. There are programs and visual reminders of what not to do on the ice in each corner of the arena.
But let's take a look at the big league - the NHL. Hockey fans - you know how concussions have literally knocked players like Eric Lindros and Keith Primeau out of the game. Far worse are the unknown and serious long-term health risks associated with concussions. And of course, Sidney Crosby, currently Canada's most famous hockey star, is still not playing due to a concussion suffered during a game earlier this year.
Following the incident in Montreal, corporate leaders came forward to oppose the NHL's handling these issues. I commend two major Canadian corporations taking a stand on the matter. NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman's response, essentially challenging one of those corporations to take its sponsorship elsewhere or the league may take its team business elsewhere, was just wrong. For me, it is yet another example of Bettman caring more about profits than players. What he doesn't realize is that the view of the game is changing among fans and players. Fewer people want to see brawls on ice. People don't want to see dirty hits or cheap shots.
Last week, the NHL decided to tighten enforcement of existing penalties and stiffen suspensions, but the league chose not to ban hits to the head. The current set of rules doesn't go far enough. The NHL has underestimated the concerns of hockey fans and parents, like me.
This is about more than ticket sales. This is and should be about the physical and mental well being of NHL and minor hockey league players.
It's time for hockey fans, hockey moms and hockey dads, and NHL players to speak up. How many more injuries do we need to see before a real change is made?
Ronalda Walsh is a former journalist and currently a communications professional in N.L.Read more »
Categories: ronalda walsh
Tuesday March 8, 2011
About Ashwin and Chris
Ashwin Gupta came to Newfoundland in 2005 from Delhi, India to pursue higher studies. After completing a double major in Physics and Applied mathematics, he decided to follow his interest in film making and theatre. Since then, he has directed multiple short films including videos for Memorial University, documentaries and short films. Currently he is working as a freelancer for CBC, creating mini-documentaries for radio and web.
Chris McCrowe is a graduate of Memorial University of Newfoundland. He holds a B.A. with a double major in both Russian language and literature and German language and literature. He is also working on a diploma in Performance and Communications Media from Memorial University. Check out his portfolio by clicking here
- May 2011
- Fri., 13 – Ashwin Gupta: Apple & Information
- March 2011
- February 2011
- January 2011
- Tue., 25 – Ronalda Walsh: Warning, strong language
- December 2010
- Mon., 13 – Ronalda Walsh: Jingle Bells, jangled nerves
- November 2010
- Fri., 26 – Tech Guru Ashwin Gupta: 'iPad or paper'