Melissa Martin

  • Transcona-raised pro wrestler Kenny Omega is literally big in Japan

    TOKYO, Japan — All day long, the formicary train stations of Tokyo spew out many kinds of people: salarymen marching rhythms with freshly polished shoes, bedraggled western tourists, women in kimonos. Even in this improbably smooth sea of shuffling humanity, Kenny Omega stood out, easy.
  • Sweet sorrow in Sapporo

    SAPPORO, Japan -- After the whole shebang was over, a wild final culminating in a feisty new champion, only one phrase seemed to fit just right. In Japanese, that is oyasumi nasai: Farewell to the 2015 World Women's Curling Championship, and good night.
  • In the land of wonder

    SAPPORO, Japan -- Everything you've heard about the toilets in Japan, gleeful tales of magical mystery bum-washing machines, every word of them is true. The stories and photos don't tell the whole of it, of course, because gushing jet-lagged travelogues and artfully filtered Instagram photos never do. Not every toilet here is a "western-style" toilet; some are squat. Of the pedestal toilets, not every one has the ability to erupt jets of warm water directly at your butt.
  • Team Jones has put in the miles to be sufficiently battle-tested for big events

    SAPPORO, Japan -- All these years later, Jennifer Jones still remembers her first overseas adventure, a wide-eyed Swiss caper in search of a certain charm. It was 1994 and Jones, a freshly minted Canadian junior champion, was playing at a cashspiel in Bern, Switzerland. She was all of 19 years old, a fine age to brave the wider world alone, so different than the rugged trailer road trips her family had always taken.
  • Canadian fans at world women's in Japan stand out in a crowd

    SAPPORO, Japan -- Even on Hokkaido, the postcard-pretty island half a world away from Canada's western shore, Jennifer Jones arrived with a cheering section in tow. True, it's a very small contingent, truncated by time and distance, just an echo of the buzz that fills world championships in more traditional curling markets.
  • How curling came to be in Hokkaido

    SAPPORO, Japan -- When curling first came to Hokkaido, there were few pebbled sheets, no curling centres like the one now sprung in Sapporo's southeast corner. Back then, Kuniyasu Tada remembered, he and his friends sometimes tried to roar their rocks across parking lots, or spritz water onto ice at the park.
  • Slowing down the clock of time

    This is what it feels like, to have a liquid facsimile of time punctured through the skin and spurted under your eye: nothing. It feels like nothing. OK, maybe you can feel a little. An occasional cold pop, a fleeting sharp flicker. But the sensations aren't painful, and they don't linger.
  • Jones and Co. have plenty of competition for elusive global curling crown

    The drought has stretched longer than talent alone might have guessed, seven years passed since Canadian women captured world curling championship gold. Fifteen Canadian teams have done it, and Winnipeg's Jennifer Jones skipped the last. Now, it's up to Jones to go into Japan and bring the world championship back.
  • The need for constant vigilance

    Although it feels so very far away in mind and territory, this is a time when Winnipeg — and the world, really — should take a serious look at Ferguson, Mo. There are hard lessons in what exists there, in the rank abuses of power and privilege that fester there, that all of us need to see.
  • Full plate

    Through the snow haze on a weekday afternoon, winter light tumbles into the tiny restaurant and finds Amos Ramon gliding plates out from the kitchen. This is a whole new game Famous Amos is playing now, on the brink of his baseball retirement. Out of the dirt and into the dishes.
  • A sorry state of affairs

    OK, so maybe Morgan Rielly might rather have been anywhere other than where he was that night, hauled up before the TV cameras as time raced toward the game. Still, before the puck dropped between the Carolina Hurricanes and Toronto last Friday, the 20-year-old Maple Leafs defenceman reported for duty.
  • A small act of compassion

    MOOSE JAW, Sask. -- On the first day I tried to see the tunnels, a blizzard enclosed Moose Jaw, so thick that every inhale spattered snow inside the nose. Instead, on that Saturday I turned my car around. Wrangled it through the mechanical rodeo of winter roads. Squinted to spot my hotel through the storm.
  • Smash hit

    MOOSE JAW, Sask. — All week, the rocks have been roaring, the 50/50 pots have been soaring and the seats at Mosaic Place have been full of delighted fans. All in all, it was enough to prompt Canadian curling officials, in a press release, to call this week “one of the best Scotties ever.”
  • A love letter to home

    TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN: Enclosed, please find a love letter to Osborne Village, on the day of my return.
  • Hate, headlines and hope

    Of all the harsh words spoken about Winnipeg, and hard headlines written, none could ever be more offensive than this: There was a murdered girl in the river. There was a murdered girl in the river. Murdered women in Dumpsters. Women found lifeless and tossed in the bush. In many cases they simply vanished, their gaze fading from the rain-spattered page of some street-lamp poster. Date of birth. Height. Hair colour. Eye colour.
  • Teemu moved on, so should city

    The video is grainy by today's standards, but the scene it shows is so vivid and living, the visual fuzz doesn't flatten the power of the goal. Altogether now -- we all know this part: "Domi, flips it high. Selanne, goes after it. Teemu Selanne breaks it. He SCORES."
  • The complexity of freedom of expression

    My French isn't merely rusty but it is rust itself, flakes of corroded word oxides chipping off my tongue, but I still remember how to count to 12. Un, deux, trois, quatre. One for each cartoonist slaughtered in a Paris massacre: Stéphane Charbonnier, Cabu, Georges Wolinski and Bernard Verlhac.
  • Unstable ground

    There was a family I once knew who built themselves a house, raising it on the side of a thickly wooded mountain somewhere near the heaved-up western coast. It was during my first visit, a Prairie girl transplanted, that my anxiety rose. I stepped lightly onto a porch propped over a mossy slope, and peered down to where grade returned to wild and fell away below. "Why doesn't the house fall down?" I wondered, and promptly blurted out whole.
  • Spinning truth in true-crime drama

    Clairvoyance is not a common talent of writers, but as I sit awaiting the end of a cultural sensation, I'm ready to stake this column on a single prediction. By the time you read these words, Serial will be over. The case was not closed, and fans had no closure.
  • Hope, horror and human rights

    In reflection, the defining psychological state of 2014 could be the vertigo that comes from perpetually spinning between news hopeful, and obscene. It was like that this week. If you're informationally inclined, it's like that on most days of this social-media age. Cultural awakenings are revealed right next to the nightmares, and consumed much the same: you read, you nod, you scroll down the page. You're reading about a brutal crime; a catastrophe; a social movement that is set out to save lives.
  • The uncontroversial 'controversy'

    In Wednesday's paper, I wrote a piece about Evander Kane's most recent Instagram adventure. A little reluctantly, I might add, but in the end it couldn't be avoided; it was the buzz of the day. I thought the whole topic was silly, and loaded the story with sarcasm to poke gentle fun at the fact that it was being talked about at all. Judging from the response I received, clearly I wasn't sarcastic enough. So mea culpa, then. Let me try and rectify that by being far more blunt: the "controversy" over Evander Kane's Instagram photo was a mirage, a manufactured outrage conjured from nothing at all. It began because Twitter was buzzing about the photo, an image of himself doing a pushup with cash on his back. Most of the initial chatter was lighthearted; of the first few hundred comments on Kane's post, the majority ranged from playful to supportive.
  • Fanning flames of injustice

    Cameras love things that burn. They especially love the way things burn at night, when the gorging flames of some unhappy structure cast an ominous light. They flock to those burning things, not as moths, but more like worshippers to some amoral God: The existence of the fire is proof of purpose enough. We all saw Ferguson, Mo., burning on Monday night, because that is what the cameras loved. Of the people and their pain, we saw comparatively little to give context to the flames, and this is how Burning Things are made out to matter more than hurting people. It is also how we satisfy our urge to look, while absolving ourselves from the weight of what is being said.
  • Global warming's cold reception

    Here's a funny joke, don't stop me if you've heard this one already. Presented to you, in all its glory: "Cold out there, eh? So much for global warming." Oh yeah, it's a knee-slapper, especially after the thousandth time you've heard it uttered. Overused, sure, though often harmless -- save for when it is weaponized by a certain type of person, folks with Twitter names such as Patriots Flame who repeat the joke ad nauseam in the wake of every frigid Arctic blast.
  • The power in knowing her name

    There is a power in names, in how they are given and taken away. This power is written in history, calcified in superstition. It plays out in the media every day. It is the handmaids of Margaret Atwood's dystopia, their names erased and replaced by those of the men who control them. It is Jean Valjean, shouting his name before the police inspector who has been hunting him down, knowing that claiming his name means forfeiting his freedom.
  • Our silence has not been worth the cost

    We watched the whales in darkness, feet stretched towards the spray, our conversation sounding a muted minuet against the overture of Pacific waves. The night spread over Depoe Bay like a bruise. Scattered street-lamp yellows mingled with midnight purples and blues, throwing off just enough light to make out the shape of the place: a closing Mexican restaurant, a silent highway. A sleepy Oregon tourist joint crowded around a three-hectare waterway. "Smallest navigable harbour in the world," a road sign states, but this is only the little city's second-proudest claim.

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