Me Likey Hockey

Finally had a chance to get to a WJC game tonight. Fun stuff. Russia beat the Czech Republic 5-2 but I thought the Czechs played a little better on balance. Russia's goaltender (Bobkov--great name!) was the better keeper however and those Ruskies, when they want to, they sure can turn up the offence. I think Canada would/will squash 'em, though. Almost too bad--I'm a Nikita Filatov fan.

Onion News Tops Prairie Dog

Decade in review, schmecade in review. The Onion News Network recently looked back on the entire history of Earth. Ranking high on its list of notable occurrences, as you might expect, is God's miraculous creation of the planet and the rest of the firmament approximately 6000 years ago. (Onion News Network)

New Dog!

The new prairie dog will be everywhere by the time you read it. It's a special camoflage issue. For no good reason, we used high-tech printing methods to render it invisible at night so you'll want to pick it up before sunset. That's a good idea anyway; we don't want you getting fanged by vampires or chewed by werewolves (full moon tomorrow!!!) on our account. Then again, this issue of prairie dog is so good it's probably worth risking death by supernatural forces to get your copy. Like a luxury car or a killer stereo system or a starship bridge, it's packed with great features. Like for instance:

THE DECADE IN REVIEW: A recap of the top news, arts and lifestyle stories and trends of the last decade with a special focus on politics, film, music and that wacky "high on life" vibe that overtook the province as resource revenues zoomed upwards. Oh, and a fond look back at Regina's dining scene. And music. Lots of music.

MORE DECADE IN REVIEW: And we've got a B-list of the decade's second-tier evildoers, a ranking of six of the crappiest movies, a couple of recaps on America's insane decade and a look at the trends that shaped the "noughties". Plus an interview with News Quirks author Roland Sweet--his column's 35 years old! Who knew?

STILL MORE DECADE IN REVIEW: Then there's LaRose's article on the decade in sports, Paul Dechene's analysis of the zombie revival, a Queen City Confidential that throws out some accusations we didn't bother to verify and an interview with the Grand Dame of Regina real estate.

IS THAT ALL? No, there's more, way more. But you'll have to pick up a copy of to find out what it is. One warning: when you do, don't put it anywhere near your white couch.

Pick of the Day: New Year's Eve

This being New Year's Eve, there's a whole pile of stuff happening in Regina tonight. Here's a quick rundown of the gigs I'm aware of. At O'Hanlon's Pub, OYE! (pictured) with local rapper Def 3 will be doing a free show that's guaranteed to get people up and grooving. At Casino Regina, Spirit of the West will be ringing in the new year backed up by Carl Dixon. Tix there are $55, $60. At the Drink Nightclub Mascara is playing. The Dan Silljer Band is at McNally's Tavern and Faster Gun is at the Pump Roadhouse. There's also Disco Bass From Outer Space at 1475 Toronto St. Tix are $15-$20 for that, and contact info is 526-3067.

If you're looking for something a little less raucous, you could always check out the RPL Film Theatre. Screening tonight and Friday night at 7 p.m. is the bachelor party comedy I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell that ... uh ... okay, this movie will probably be pretty raunchy too, but in a vicarious sort of way, in that you won't actually be guzzling booze and cavorting with scantily clad women, you'll just be watching other people do it and, quite likely, suffering the consequences for their vile and debauched behaviour. Here's the trailer. (YouTube)

Also on tap (pun intended) at the RPL is the Australian/UK family drama The Boys Are Back which stars Clive Owen as a formerly fun-loving sportswriter who struggles with single parenthood after his wife's tragic death. It screens at 9 p.m. tonight and 4 p.m. Friday. Here's the trailer for it (YouTube)

Remember also, tonight the City and various sponsors are running the Ding in the New Year promotion which provides free transit and paratransit service starting at 7 p.m. Here's a link to the City's website for schedule information.


Last Week At City Hall: Tag Day Bylaw and Leadership on Climate Change

So top among my goals for 2010 is more city hall blogging. Already, I've let some important stuff slide over the last week, what with all the holiday festivities and catching up with family and friends. The socializing is finally winding down some (although, in an hour, I'm off to see Avatar in IMax 3-D with an old high-school chum) so I thought I'd try some municipal news catch up.

Way back at their December 21 meeting, council voted to repeal the controversial Tag Day Bylaw. For the time being, it's my understanding that this should make life easier for Regina's panhandlers. Whether or not that will continue depends on a report staff has been directed to prepare. It will consider various options on how to regulate panhandling.

Also passed at this meeting, was a request from the mayor to have staff look into how to change the Official Community Plan so that optimizing solar orientation of new lots will be a requirement and not merely a guideline. (Also, near the top of my goals for 2010 is to write fewer run-on sentences like that one. Too rushed right now to go fix it, though.) This is an overdue suggestion but welcome nonetheless. As Harbour Landing has shown, voluntary environmental guidelines aren't working as well as hoped. And, as we reported in the prairie dog lo so many months ago, (I plan to use the word "lo" a whole lot more) properly orienting lots is important as it can save homeowners upwards of 15 per cent on their energy bills. And you don't get a second chance to take advantage of solar orientation as the way we lay out our streets today will likely be the way they look hundreds or even thousands of years from now.

Six in the Morning

1. I DIDN'T THINK WE'D GET TO USE THAT WORD AGAIN SO SOON: Seems Carle beat me to it. Apparently, Harper and his scandal plagued Conservatives are planning to prorogue parliament once again. (Carle Steele, Globe and Mail)

2. CANADIANS CARE ABOUT? Phew. Good thing parliament is about to be prorogued. Means we won't be distracted from the really important things like who's on Team Canada. That live update page I'm linking to would be for the men's team, of course. Doesn't seem to be so much handwringing about the women's. (CTV)

3. BOOKSELLER GOES DOWN: Another independent bookseller is in the process of biting the dust as McNally-Robinson of Winnipeg are declaring bankruptcy. The reason for their failure? Over expansion. (Globe and Mail)

4. WOMEN ARE COMPANIONS OF MEN, SAYS POPE: Pope Benedict dropped another of his trademark rat-zingers when he told a congregation that god created women to be companions for men. Not sure what to make of it (although, I do know what to think of the pic the Leader Post chose to accompany the article). I think he was just trying to offend homosexuals hoping to marry. But he managed to piss off feminists and well.. most everyone. Yay, Pope! (Leader Post)

5. LEMIEUX, YOUNG TO RECEIVE ORDER OF CANADA: Yay, Neil! Yay, Mario! Aaaaaaad, that's enough said on that. (Leader Post)

6. FAREWELL DOCTOR: David Tennant, the best of the 10 Doctors IMHO, will be making his last appearance as the fabled UK sci-fi hero in Doctor Who: The End of Time this Saturday on Space. (Which means I'll be traveling and not watching it. Bugger.) The show has apparently already run in the UK so you can read a review at the Guardian site. But don't spoil any of it for me, please.

Proroguies Again?

I've been back for 37 minutes and already in a state of impotent rage about the possibility of Harper proroguing another parliament. (CBC)

WTF? If Michaelle Jean says yes again, won't that set kind of a bad precedence (as if the last year's prorogation wasn't bad enough, AND on top of many many many other bad bad bad precedences?)

I think I'll look at this picture of Gilles Duceppe instead.


Pick of the Day: Regina Plains Museums

Earlier this month (Dec. 15 to be precise) the Regina Plains Museum celebrated its 50th anniversary. I'm not familiar with the museum's exact history, but do know it used to be much bigger than it is today. Not on par with a Western Development Museum, certainly, but with enough room to showcase a substantial portion of the artifacts it houses in replica one-room school houses, blacksmith shops, general stores and whatnot.

If something ever comes of the plan to convert the Legion and the building to the south of it into a performing arts complex the museum is supposed to be a prime candidate to become an anchor tenant. But that likely won't be happening any time soon. So for now the museum is stuck with its smaller space.

On display there now are two shows with strong ties to the city's past. Germantown (an image from which is pictured second from above), was curated by Yolanda Hansen, and examines the working-class neighbourhood that sprung up in east central Regina in the early 1900s as waves of immigrants from eastern Europe settled in Regina. During WWI in particular, many of the immigrants were subjected to xenophobic discrimination by the dominant Anglo-Saxon class, but they persevered and helped create one of Regina's more vibrant and thriving neighbourhoods.

Also on display is First Peoples Urban Experience. Produced through the collaborative effort of the North Central Community Association, Scott Collegiate, the City of Regina Archive and the RPM, it's a five-minute digital exhibit which chronicles the history of Aboriginal settlement in Regina. Until the early '60s, of course, First Nations people in Canada were severely restricted in their ability to move off reserve. Really, it wasn't until the early '70s that widespread migration of Aboriginal people to cities began. With commentary from an elder and another First Nations Reginan, the exhibit explores the Aboriginal facet of Regina's identity (pictured above, by the way, is Greg Girard's Smudge Walk).

Both shows are on until February. But if you're looking for something to do today, check them out.


Pick of the Day: Clearing a Path

This exhibit's been kicking around for a few years, so you may have already seen it somewhere. It opened at First Nations University of Canada in 2005, and features work by contemporary Aboriginal artists executed using traditional media like carving, quill and bead work. Since then, it's travelled to 20 Saskatchewan communities. Until March 6, it's on display at the RCMP Heritage Centre.

This latest venue offers an interesting juxtaposition of cultures and histories. The RCMP, of course, were founded by the federal Tories under Sir John A. McDonald in 1873 for the express purpose of facilitating the settlement of western Canada. In 1998, in fact, the very first article I wrote for prairie dog under then editor Mitch Diamantopolos was on the RCMP's "celebration" of its 125th anniversary. While the Force has made numerous mis-steps over the years, historians generally credit it with offering a degree of protection to First Nations in Canada and helping to avoid the type of Indian Wars that occured in the U.S. in the mid-19th century where tens of thousands of aboriginal people and settlers lost their lives.

Be that as it may, the RCMP were still a force of colonization in western Canada. So this exhibit, in the context of a museum dedicated to celebrating the proud history and exploits of one of the most famous police forces in the world, carries extra-special meaning. If you're looking for something to do this holiday season, check it out. And to offer a reminder of how the legend of the RCMP has been romanticized over the decades, here's a famous scene from the classic 1954 Nelson Eddy/Jeanette MacDonald cheesefest Rose-Marie (YouTube)


Pick of the Day: Jesus Christ Superstar

In February 2007, I interviewed a Jesuit priest who was a visiting scholar at Campion College about a lecture he was scheduled to deliver at the university on the subject of the representation of Jesus in film.

I attended Sunday school when I was a kid, and was an intermittent church-goer until my late teens, so I was familiar with most of the Bible stories associated with Jesus. Still, my denomination was United, and this guy was a freaking Jesuit priest, so it was somewhat intimidating to sit down with him to talk about the most important figure in Christian theology especially when, in recent decades and centuries, in my opinion anyway, so many powerful people have corrupted the ideal of Jesus to further their own putrid agendas.

During our talk, the priest made the point that since the dawn of cinema in the late 19th century Jesus had been depicted in many different ways by filmmakers. Invariably, he added, these depictions were misleading because, depending on the political zeitgeist of the time, they tended to focus on select aspects of who He was to the exclusion of His totality as an historical/divine figure. Even in the New Testament, the priest added, the portrait of Jesus drawn by the apostles Matthew, Mark, Luke and John in their respective gospels was inadequate. To truly appreciate the Jesus of Christian faith, he added, it was necessary to read the four gospels together.

"If you had to recommend four films then that you felt, together, best captured who Jesus was," I asked him, "what would they be?" The films he ended up picking were The Gospel According to Saint Matthew, Jesus of Montreal, The Chronicles of Narnia and an Italian film named I Giardini dell'Eden.

When I asked the priest about satiric portraits of Jesus, he replied: "We live in a culture that allows and promotes free expression. In addition to being a historical and religious figure, Jesus is also a figure of world culture. So I would allow someone who wants to make Jesus Christ Superstar to make it. If you want me to comment on your play, well ... great songs, great music. But theologically, disastrous."

I mention all this now because the travelling production of Andrew Lloyd Webber's classic rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar, with Ted Neely in the title role, is at Conexus Arts Centre tonight. Here's the trailer for the 1973 movie version. (YouTube)


Dipshits Of The Day: The Peons At An Unspecified Regina Multiplex

I just called an unnamed Regina first-run movie theatre to do a fact check. I wanted to know what cinema, specifically, Alvin And The Chipmunks was playing in, for a dumb joke in our movie listings.

So I get someone on the phone and do my professional "I'm calling from prairie dog magazine to do a fact check for something we're running in an upcoming issue. Can you tell me what cinema, specifically, Alvin and the Chipmunks is playing in?"

First peon goes off to check. Then I get a second peon. I ask again. "What do you need this information for?" she asks, sounding pleasant. I explain: it's a fact check for a film listing in prairie dog. We run movie blurbs with dumb jokes every issue, I explain. I need to know what theatre this movie is in to make one of the jokes funnier.

"I'm sorry," the helpful-sounding but not helpful-acting movie minion says, "we can't give out that information unless you buy a ticket."

"That's completely nuts, but thanks," I say, not meaning the "thanks" part.

What is this, homeland security? Are these peons afraid I'm some kind of terrorist and it's not safe to give me information that I could get just by going there? They don't have call display telling them I'm calling from a legitimate (if disreputable) local publication?

What are they afraid we're going to do to their stupid movie that scored a bile-raising 24% on Rotten Tomatoes, anyway? Make fun of it?

Peons. Geez.

Pick of the Day: Homecoming 2009

Throughout the year, the Regina Jazz Society hosts regular concerts by local and touring jazz bands. For several years now at this time, it's presented this gig which features a rotating roster of musicians with roots in Regina who have moved to other cities to play/teach, but who are home for the holidays. When they get together, they're probably a little ragged around the edges, but what better art form than jazz to accommodate a bit of individuality and improvisation? The fun kicks off tonight at the Regina Inn at 8:30 p.m.


R.I.P. Vic Chesnutt

On Christmas Day, Athens, Georgia-based singer-songwriter Vic Chesnutt passed away at age 45. Rendered a quadrapelgic by a car accident at 18, Chesnutt nonetheless was able to carve an impressive niche for himself in the genre of folk-rock alongside the likes of his hometown colleagues Michael Stipe and R.E.M. In 2004, Chesnutt played a Saturday night gig at the Regina Folk Festival. Headliners that night were The Sadies. Here's a link to a news story on his death (Music-Mix), plus video of him performing his song "Robots" (YouTube)

Boxing Day of Christmas: The Silent Partner

I know that techinically this makes 13 Days of Christmas but what the heck.

This excellent Canadian film from 1978 was directed by Daryl Duke (who directed the Thorn Birds mini-series) and was a remake of a Danish film Think of a Number (1969). This adaptation was written for the screen by a young Curtis Hanson who gone on to direct L.A. Confidential.

Elliott Gould stars as Miles - a bank teller in a shopping mall in Toronto. It's Christmas time and Gould discovers that the bank is going to be robbed. He then comes up with a plan to steal a bunch of money and blame it on the robber - a psychotic Christopher Plummer. When Plummer comes to rob the bank in a Santa Claus suit, Gould gives Plummer some of the dough and keeps the rest for himself. Plummer discovers that he's been taken and a deadly cat and mouse game begins between the two men.

This movie has many twists and turns and to reveal any more of the plot would destroy the fun of watching the movie. This was one of the earliest films from Canada to take advantage of the Canadian government's "Capital Cost Allowance" plans. And it won the Canadian Film Award for best film that year. The cast is stellar and even John Candy has a bit role in it. The film is one of hidden gems that nobody ever really knows about - in fact I can't even find a trailer or a clip of the film but it is finally available on DVD.

Saturday Morning Cartoon

It's Boxing Day so in the spirit of the season I present several cartoons with the literal theme of boxing.

First up it's the short lived I Am the Greatest: The Adventures of Muhammad Ali. The show ran from 1977 to 1978 on NBC.

A little Popeye the Sailor.

And finally we have Mickey Mouse managing a robot to fight a gorilla.

Pick of the Day: Boxing Day Bashes

I've written on the origins of Boxing Day before. It's a British tradition, and relates to the practice of wealthy people giving gift boxes to servants, labourers and other less well-off members of society on the day after Christmas (which is also known as St. Stephen's Day).

Long recognized as a civic holiday in Canada, Dec. 26, in recent years, has become notorious as day where people line-up in the frigid pre-dawn, the cash they received for Xmas evidently burning a hole in their pockets, to engage in an orgy of shopping in the hope of scoring mega-bargains on clothing, electronics and other merchandise. Crass, I know. But such is life in our consumer culture.

Over roughly the same period, another Boxing Day tradition has developed where young adults, having spent the preceding two days with family, escape to their favourite watering hole after supper to blow off a little steam and partake of yet more festive cheer. Boxing Day falling on a Saturday this year presents something of a double whammy, guaranteeing that the bars will be packed. If you're in the mood to party, here's some stuff you might consider checking out:

ORBITAL EXPRESS with Bloodwork, In Darkness and Prophets of the Dead at the Exchange. $10.
DANCE PARTY at O'Hanlon's Pub. Free.
NANCY RAY-GUNS at the Abbey Restaurant. $5.
LET THERE BE THEREMIN at the Fainting Goat Restaurant.
DAN SILLJER BAND at McNally's Tavern. $5.
And Dec. 27, THE EXTROVERTS play the Distrikt. $7 at the door.

Remember, no drinking and driving okay?


Friday Afternoon Christmas Kitties!

Merry Christmas!

And, of course...

12 Days of Christmas: Die Hard

"Now I have a machine gun. Ho ho ho."

It's Christmas Eve at the Nakatomi Plaza in L.A. and for New York cop John McClane (Bruce Willis) it's going to be a long night.

Terrorists lead by Alan Rickman have seized the building and one of the hostages is McClane's estranged wife Holly.

Based on a novel by Roderick Thorp titled Nothing Lasts Forever. The book itself was a sequel to Thorp's earlier novel The Detective which was made into a film starring Frank Sinatra.

John McTiernan directed Predator the year earlier and with this film secured his position as one the best action directors for a brief period. He followed this film up with The Hunt For Red October. It slowly went down hill for him there, Medicine Man, Last Action Hero, Die Hard: With a Vengeance, The 13th Warrior, The Thomas Crown Affair and then the terrible remake Rollerball.

The movie uses Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 throughout the film, terrorists hum it, and it plays through out several big scenes that I won't spoil.

Alan Rickman is brilliant as Hans Gruber, the leader of the terrorists and Bruce Willis is the perfect everyman action hero. He can get hurt (one particularly nasty scene has Willis pulling glass out of his foot) and he can crack wise with the best.

This film is one of my favorites and considered by many to be one of the best action films of all time.

Pick of the Day: Meander

Yeah, Central Library and the Dunlop Art Gallery are closed today. But if you happen to find yourself downtown*, and are in the mood to check out some art, you still can courtesy of this outdoor installation by Laura Hale. It's located in the sunken garden that's visible from the ramp that leads up the RPL's main entrance. With the assistance of students from Connaught Community School, Hale collected a pile of foiliage, leaves, berries and whatnot this fall which, during an early December cold snap, she integrated into a winding river -- or at the very least, creek -- of ice which she created in the garden.

Meander is part of the Dunlop exhibition Mind the Gap! (Dog Blog) which is on at the gallery's Central and Sherwood Village Library locations until Jan. 3. It won't close when the rest of the show does, though, but instead will remain in the garden throughout the winter and into spring. Like the prairie landscape itself, it will be subtly altered by shifts in the weather and the cycle of the seasons. Had Hale installed Meander last winter, it might well have lasted into May. This year, who knows what Mother Nature has in store for us. At the very least, expect Meander to survive into late March.

*I live downtown, so that's no problem for me. If, perchance, I wanted to go somewhere else though, big problem for me. I don't own a car. Cycling is my main mode of transport most of the year, but I don't bike in the winter. Besides, it's minus 37 windchill today. And there's no bus service today or tomorrow. Sunday, there's hourly service of a sort between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. So, short of dropping $30-$40 on a cab ride there and back, looks like I'll be sticking close to home this Xmas.


12 Days of Christmas: Life of Brian

Life of Brian or Monty Python's Life of Brian (1979) is a damn funny movie. It's also an excuse for me to have a Monty Python movie on my list. And it sort pertains to Christmas.

Born in a stable a few doors down from Jesus Christ, Brian is mistaken for the messiah most of his life. He gets involved in all sorts of wacky situations, including getting a group of followers.

Brian: "Please, please, please listen! I've got one or two things to say."
The Crowd: "Tell us! Tell us both of them!"
Brian: "Look, you've got it all wrong! You don't NEED to follow ME, You don't NEED to follow ANYBODY! You've got to think for your selves! You're ALL individuals!"
The Crowd: "Yes! We're all individuals!"
Brian: "You're all different!"
The Crowd: "Yes, we ARE all different!"
Man in crowd: "I'm not..."
The Crowd: "Sch! "

And how can you go wrong with movie that has tag lines like

"A motion picture destined to offend nearly two thirds of the civilized world. And severely annoy the other third."

"See the movie that's controversial, sacrilegious, and blasphemous. But if that's not playing, see The Life of Brian."

"The film that is so funny it was banned in Norway."

"He wasn't the messiah. He was a very naughty boy."

The Python crew aren't pulling any punches in this satire of religion. The jokes fast and plentiful and nothing is spared. The film was banned in Norway for a year, Ireland for eight years, Burma, Bhutan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Oman, South Africa, Vatican City and several towns in both England and the United States of America.

Despite all the controversy the film has endured over the years and it still has a huge following. Plus it's funny.

I Really Like Christmas

It's sentimental, I know, but I just really like it. (Christmas, I mean.)

I don't think this song is nearly as good as the Pomplamoose tune I posted yesterday (which is still my new favourite xmas song ever and holy crap did you check out their other stuff like Hail Mary or Little Things or their cover of September which made me reevaluate my feelings for Earth Wind and Fire? No? You should because Pomplamoose is the real deal.)

So, no, Minchin is no Pomplamoose. But I still like him even if his lyrics tend to be waaaa-a-a-a-ay too preachy for my taste. But there aren't a whole lot of xmas tunes for rabid atheists like myself -- and the chorus is catchy -- and I agree with the sentiment -- so I thought it'd make for a worthy xmas eve post....

Oh, and if the whole drinking white wine in the sun line seems a little weird, it's because Minchin is from Australia so I imagine you do that sort of thing at xmas instead of, say, chugging mulled wine while shivering by the fire. Speaking of which... have to get back to the family.

Merry Xmas Dog Bloggers and Dog Blog readers!

Pick of the Day: Germs! Germs! Germs!

I'm not sure when the Saskatchewan Science Centre booked this travelling exhibit, but considering all the fuss there's been lately over the H1N1 pandemic, it certainly is timely. Germs is a pretty broad category, of course. In addition to viruses like H1N1, it also encompasses microorganisms like bacteria, fungi and protoza. All, apparently, are discussed in this show, which even features a short trip through a human intestine.

According to the Science Centre's website, even the healthiest of humans is home to 100 trillion bacteria (that's 100,000,000,000,000, or roughly ten times the number of cells in our bodies). As well, while many bacteria are harmful to humans (pictured, by the way, is a beaded art work by Ruth Cuthand from a series recently purchased by the MacKenzie Gallery which recalls how First Nations were ravaged by foreign diseases during European colonization of the New World), many others are beneficial, both in the preservation of our health, and in the production of foodstuffs like beer, wine, bread and cheese.

This being Christmas Eve, the Science Centre is only open noon-4 p.m. today. But if you're looking for something to do over the holidays, especially if you've got kids to keep busy, check it out. It's on until Jan. 10. To pique your (and their) curiosity, here's the trailer from the 1966 SF flick Fantastic Voyage. (YouTube)



This is my new favourite xmas song. And as anyone who knows me knows, I love xmas songs. And this one is, as I mentioned, my favourite so that's saying something.

And the great thing about this song is, as you'll have discovered if you watched to the end of the clip, the band, Pomplamoose -- who might be my new favourite band -- are offering free mp3s to everyone who gives a goat for xmas through the World Vision charity.

Give a goat. Get music. Works for me.

Six in the Morning

1. HERE COME THE CUTS: Harper is warning the big spending party is over and we can expect five frugal years as the Conservatives pull us out of a deficit that Harper's scandal plagued Conservatives got us into. No tax cuts are planned for the next budget so I'm wondering how're the Cons going to get themselves elected because they sure can't run on their fiscal management. Or their environmental record. And they aren't looking great on how they're handling Afghanistan. Oh, but Stephen will play us all a song on the piano and all will be forgiven. He's so dreamy when he tickles the ivories. (Globe and Mail)

2. IRAN CRACKS DOWN ON PROTESTS AGAIN: The funeral for Iran's most important dissident cleric erupted in violence as pro-reform protesters were beaten and teargassed by police. (Globe and Mail)

3. PEOPLE ARE SHOPPING, ALL IS WELL: Car and housing sales are up, GDP is growing. Depression cancelled. Capitalism works. As you were. (Globe and Mail)

4. QC PREMIER SLAMS HARPER'S ENVIRONMENT STANCE, CANADA COULDN'T CARE LESS: The CBC reports Jean Charest is tearing a strip off Harper and his scandal plagued Conservatives over their miserable and suicidal stance on the environment (which is, in short: do as little as possible). Meanwhile, the Edmonton Journal reports that the scandal plagued Conservatives climate change position isn't hurting them in the polls one whit. Yeah, way to give a shit about the planet, Canada. You deserve that Fossil of the Year award.

5. CONSERVATIVES FIND WORK INCONVENIENT: Harper's scandal plagued Conservatives are avoiding one of the many scandals with which their party is plagued -- specifically, the Afghan detainee mess -- by just not attending the hearings. They're saying tis not the season for negativity. (Globe and Mail)

6. SO MUCH NOISE: Balloon boy balloon boy balloon boy fuck fuck fuck don't care shut up Tiger Woods go away fuck shhhhhhh-h-h-h enough it's enough already okay now stop.

12 Days of Christmas: The Thin Man

The Thin Man is a 1934 comedy murder mystery based on a novel Dashiell Hammett (The Maltese Falcon).

Nick and Nora Charles (William Powell and Myrna Loy) are a happily married and wealthy couple. Nick used to be a detective but he retired when he married Nora. They travel around drinking and enjoying the good life. And drinking. Made just before the Production Code kicked in, Nick and Nora enjoy themselves a lot.

Nora Charles: "How many drinks have you had?"
Nick Charles: "This will make six Martinis."
Nora Charles: [to the waiter] "All right. Will you bring me five more Martinis, Leo? Line them right up here."

Nora Charles: [suffering from a hang-over] "What hit me?"
Nick Charles: "The last martini."

The film was made for the B movie unit of MGM by thrifty director W.S. Van Dyke. The movie was so popular it that they made five sequels, although they toned down Nick's drinking a little and Nora's to complete sobriety. Spoilsports.

The plot is complex. It's Christmas and a man named Wynant (the thin man of the title) has gone missing. He is then accused of multiple murders. Wynant's daughter Maureen Sullivan wants Nick to prove her father's innocence. Before long there's more bodies and suspects than anyone can keep track of.

Nick Charles: "I'm a hero. I was shot twice in the Tribune."
Nora Charles: "I read where you were shot 5 times in the tabloids."
Nick Charles: "It's not true. He didn't come anywhere near my tabloids."

It's an extremely fun and enjoyable film, the kind they don't make anymore and I don't think they could if they tried. At the start of the trailer William Powell is playing his other famous detective Philo Vance (who Powell played in four films) who then engages in a conversation with Nick Charles. Both characters are essentially Powell being Powell but he does the stylish detective well.

What reporters covered, and what reporters missed

Salon and Project Censored come up with their year-end lists the stories -- over-rated and underated.

Here's Salon's take on the tmost bogus media frenzy stories of 2009 (Salon.com)

Project Censored's take on the top 25 most ignored stories by the U.S. media is here (projectcensored.com)

There's an American slant to this, since both are based south of the border, but if someone's looking to create a Canadian version, this would be a good place to start.

Six In The Morning

1 THERE WILL BE BLOOD Federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty wants to go after the deficit by cutting the crap out of government. (Toronto Star) The move should please non-thinking, small-government fetishists and right-wing loons but it's guaranteed bad news for regular Canadians. Here's a different idea: instead of always cutting taxes for the wealthy, raise 'em to a sustainable level.

2 MORE SNOW'S A-COMIN' The peacful scene out my window is apparently tying to trick me into lowering my guard--more snow is expected this morning. I'll be ready for you, snow. You just wait and see. (The Weather Network)

3 NOT OUR PROBLEM The prime minister says it's not Canada's fault the Afghanistan POWs we captured got allegedly tortured. (Globe And Mail). And I suppose it's not his government's fault that repeated warnings from diplomats and possibly the Red Cross (which met with Canadian offcials and hinted it expressed torture concerns) were ignored. And it's also not his government's fault that it's boycotting the Special Committee on the Canadian Mission in Afghanistan. Yeah, whatever.

4 DON'T BLAME OBAMA A journalist who was present at negotiations says China, not the U.S., sabotaged Copenhagen. (Guardian)

5 CRACKBERRY WHACKBERRY Service disruptions explained as "an unintended database issue within the Blackberry infrastructure." (PC magazine) Ooh-kay. But somewhere, my blackberry addict friend Heather is rocking in a corner muttering "it's all right, it's all right."

6 GOOD Forget to post this yesterday: On Monday, Regina's hockey and football-jersey-clad City Council repealed the bylaw that was being used to harrass city panhandlers. Well done, councillors. (CBC)

Pick of the Day: World Junior Hockey Championship

The tournament itself doesn't get going until Boxing Day, but tonight at Brandt Centre Team Canada plays its final exhibition game against the Czech Republic before heading up to Saskatoon to join the rest of the teams in its pool. I know a few Reginans are a little perturbed that our city isn't actually hosting any tournament games involving the team. It's also true that all the playoff games will be held in Saskatoon. But, in fairness, they do have a bigger arena, and thus are better able to accommodate the demand for tickets.

Besides, when you look at the two pools, Regina's stacks up pretty good. True, Saskatoon has a marquee match-up in Team Canada and Team U.S.A., but the remaining teams in the pool (Switzerland, Latvia and Slovakia) aren't in the same class as the top three teams in Regina's pool -- Russia, Sweden and Finland (with the Czech Republic and Austria rounding out the pool). So there will definitely be some quality hockey played in the city over the next week or so.

If you happen to be downtown over that period, be sure to check out a special exhibition that the Saskatchewan Sports Hall of Fame has put together on the history of the tournament. One moment that will surely be highlighted is Jordan Eberle’s last second goal to tie the semi-final against Russia last year and send it into overtime. Here's the video. (YouTube)


Thaw In Libel Chill?

Canadian journalists haven't had much to celebrate in the last 15 years or so, what with all the downsizing, cross-ownership and erosion of financial stability due to the proliferation of free information sources on the Internet (many of them cribbed from legit news outlets). Nutbars that we are, we think there's immense value in what we do. Plenty of other people would presumably agree. There is a segment of society, however, for whom an understaffed and overworked press is heaven-sent. This summer I interviewed former CBC radio and TV broadcaster Mary-Lou Finlay (pictured) prior to her appearance at the Festival of Words in Moose Jaw. In response to a question about whether it served the purpose of political and economic elites in Canada to have a weakened CBC, she replied "I've talked to people in every political party [that's held power in Ottawa] and without exception, they say their leaders hated the CBC because of the accountability it imposed on them. But if they're honest, they have to recognize that the whole system works better if you have a healthy broadcasting environment."

Greater resources for media outlets are definitely one part of that equation. Another, in Canada anyway, is the freedom to do solid investigative journalism. Under existing libel laws, journalists could be sued for anything they wrote/published/broadcast that damaged another person's reputation. If sued, the onus was on the journalist to prove the truth of their statement. In legal circles, that's what's known as a reverse onus provision. In a typical court case, it's up to the plaintiff to prove their claim. Not so with libel law, where journalists were generally required to prove their innocence.

Recognizing the importance of a vigorous and vigilant press, other countries like the U.S. and Australia provided journalists with a defence to libel if they genuinely believed, based on the research they'd done and interviews they'd conducted, that the story they did was true. In Canada, that defence was not possible -- until today, that is, when the Supreme Court of Canada, in separate libel cases against the Ottawa Citizen and Toronto Star, ruled that the defence of "responsible communication" should be available to journalists to defend themselves against libel actions.

That doesn't mean that journalists now have carte blanche to shred anyone they want. But under the old law, media outlets often shied away from controversial stories involving powerful individuals and organizations out of fear that if they ran them they would be sued for libel and possibly bankrupted by a lucrative judgment against them. "Libel chill" is the term used to describe that situation. And in its judgement today, the Supreme Court said that impacted negatively on the public interest by unduly infringing on freedom of expression.

Good for them. Here's the CBC report here.

Draw your own conclusions

Look, if Wall Street is comfortable having a galactic despot with an abysmal record on human (and non-human) rights, labour relations, and planet-crushing perform their creepy ritualistic bell-ringing, that's really between them and their Masonic overlords.

It's hard to tell which disgraced institution is trying to piggy back on the supposed good image of the other. Is it the one that recently destroyed millions of Americans' dreams and hopes for the future, or is it Wall Street?

Our PM Problem

Dear Santa, can I have a new prime minister for Christmas?

Calling Stephen Harper a dangerous extremist who's ruining our country is a popular thing to do on Dog Blog for a couple of reasons: first, we naively think pointing out the man's problems might encourage Tory-loving Sask voters to take a closer look at him and second because the guy's actions and ideas scare the crap out of us.

Anyway, lest you perceive us as radicals, here are the strong words of accomplished journalist and columnist Haroon Siddiqui , who gave the Minifie lecture at the University of Regina a few years back:

Stephen Harper is centralizing power in the PMO on an unprecedented scale; defying Parliament (by refusing to comply with a Commons vote demanding the files on Afghan prisoner abuse); derailing public inquiries (by a parliamentary committee and the Military Police Complaints Commission); muzzling/firing civil servants; demonizing critics; and dragging the military into the line of partisan political fire.

"When you add up all that this government has done, it's truly scary," says Gar Pardy, former head of the foreign ministry's consular services. He's the one who organized the petition that defended diplomat Richard Colvin from Tory mudslinging, and which has been signed by 133 retired ambassadors.

You can read the whole column here. Please do--it's worth your time. Stephen Harper is baaad--and it's not just prairie dog saying that. (Toronto Star)

12 Days of Christmas: Gremlins

It's Christmas and what better than the perfect gift.

"Cute. Clever. Mischievous. Intelligent. Dangerous."

Randall Peltzer (Hoyt Axton) buys a gift for his son Zach Galligan in an old dark shop in Chinatown while visiting Manhattan. It's a small cute furry creature that's called a mogwai (which in Cantonese translates literally as "monster"). There are rules for caring for a mogwai. Don't get him wet, keep him out of bright light, and never feed him after midnight. Naturally all the rules get broken and then the fun begins.

Director Joe Dante (Piranha, The Howling) brings this black comedy to the big screen with his usual in jokes and a combination of horrific and comedic elements. There's lots of biting, clawing, intentional accidents, death by microwave, decapitations, general mass destruction and a quick pit stop in all the chaos to watch a little Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

This movie along with Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom was responsible for the creation of PG-13 rating in the U.S. Both films are a little too violent for PG (which they were both rated) and no where near an R-rating.

Pick of the Day: Agonal

When we think of Christmas music we usually think of feel-good tunes with copious references to snow, holiday decorations, tasty treats, presents and all-round fellowship and good cheer. Yeah, there's the odd song out there like AC DC's yuletide classic "Mistress for Christmas" (YouTube). But they're few and far between. Considering that retailers, radio stations, churches and whatnot start flogging Xmas music shortly after Hallowe'en these days, there's a not inconsiderable number of people out there, I imagine, who have pretty much had their fill of Christmas music by now. If you fall into that category, have I got a show for you.

It's happening tonight at O'Hanlon's Pub. It features local headbangers Agonal backed up by Saskatoon metalmeisters Lavagoat, and is billed as a Metal Xmas Show. Formed from the remnants of two stalwarts of Regina's metal scene, Dirtbred and Scarifier, Agonal takes its name from the medical term for the slow cessation of breathing in a person as death overakes them. Having recently been at the bedside of an elderly relative when she passed away I could elaborate on that process. But I won't, other than to note that in her instance it was peaceful and pain-free. And if you're looking for another blast of metal Xmas music, here's Twisted Sister's "Oh Come All Ye Faithful" (YouTube)


They found the Auschwitz Sign

For those of you like me who missed the news last night, police found the stolen sign from the entrence to the infamous Nazi death camp-turned holocaust memorial. It's bust into three bits but at least it's been recovered. Five alleged assholes have been arrested. More here. (Guardian)

This Week at City Hall

Monday, December 21
City Council (5:30 pm): It's a long agenda but a few items stand out. Chief among those, executive committee has recommended that the city's Tag Day bylaw be repealed and a report be prepared on how better to regulate panhandling in the city.

Council will also be considering a $190,000 expenditure to accomodate the 2011 Ford World Men's Curling Championship in Regina. The City Housing Incentives policy will be looked at, and the way it grandfathers projects covered by older incentive plans will be examined. Administration is recommending approval for a plan to reduce the cost of disposal of Auto Shredder Residue at the landfill to nothing during summer months (that's just on the first 30 tonnes a day delivered, mind). Also to be looked at is the annual community investment allocation (just over $4 million this year); an eastward expansion of the Wascana Centre Authority jurisdiction; a cost sharing agreement with the RCMP for the 11th Avenue bridge reconstruction; the 2010 Local Improvement Program; and a request to go ahead with a development in Harbour Landing that would be higher density than originally planned.

As this is the last council meeting of 2009, various boards and bodies will be putting forward their board memberships for the new year. This includes all the committees that councillors will be sitting on. Here's a breakdown of who'll be on the committees that get a lot of attention on this blog:
  • Community and Protective Services Committee: Findura, Hutchinson, Murray, O'Donnell, Szarka.
  • Finance and Administration Committee: Browne, Bryce, Fougere, Hincks, Murray.
  • Public Works Committee: Browne, Bryce, Clipsham, Findura, Hutchinson.
  • Regina Planning Commission: Fougere, O'Donnell, Szarka.
The complete council agenda can be downloaded on the city's website.

Join The Marines, Go To Iraq, Get Raped, Pregnant And Court-Marshelled

Don't know if you've been following this story but here's a thoughtful look at how U.S. general Anthony Cucolo's no-pregnancy order is dumber than a lobotomized lemur. (Salon)

12 Days of Christmas: The Lion in the Winter

It's 1183 and King Henry II (Peter O'Toole) and his wife Queen Eleanor (Katharine Hepburn) are holding Christmas Court.

King Henry is suppose to name a successor and wants to name Prince John (Nigel Terry). Queen Eleanor wants Prince Richard (Anthony Hopkins in his big screen debut). Meanwhile King Philip II (Timothy Dalton - future James Bond in his motion picture debut) of France wants his half-sister Alais (Jane Merrow) to marry the future heir. Except that she's been the mistress of King Henry for quite sometime now. A lot of verbal sparing and death threats follow.

The film is based on a play by James Goldman and directed by Anthony Harvey who, despite working several times with Katherine Hepburn, never managed to top this film. It isn't historically accurate but the acting between O'Toole and Hepburn is magnificent.

Six In The Morning

1 HANG UPS Saskatchewan RCMP to crack down on cell phone use while driving, starting...now! (CBC)

2 MORE ON THAT FLAWED U.S. HEALTH CARE DEAL No public option. No abortion in conservative jurisdictions. Yet this is still a landmark deal? Welcome to America. (Globe And Mail)

3 CANADA MET WITH RED CROSS IN 2006 What did the Red Cross tell Canada about Afghan prisoners? We don't know. Did they warn Canada that transferred prisoners were being tortured? We don't know. (Toronto Star)

4 LISTEN TO LISA The Simpsons might shape viewers' nuclear power views, says a professor with an eye for the obvious. (CBC/Canadian Press)

5 GREEN VIBRATIONS Liberal MP and doctor Carolyn Bennett says Canadians deserve non-toxic sex toys. Dog Blog salutes you, Dr. Bennett. (Globe and Mail)

6 "DON'T BRING A GUN TO A SNOWBALL FIGHT" I bet a certain snowball fight-hating Washington, D.C. cop is going to get coal in his stocking this Christmas. (Washington City Paper) And hopefully, long-term administrative leave and counselling.


Snowballs vs. gun!

Fun again!

(Note to snowballers: in a situation like this chanting funny slogans is good. Saying "fuck you pig"? Prrrobably not the best idea. Besides unneccessarily escalating the conflict, it makes you sound like an asshole instead of a friendly, playful snow elf.)

Pick of the Day: Close Strangers: Distant Relations

This is the latest in a series of exhibitions the MacKenzie Art Gallery has presented where they invite a local artist to visit their vault and select works from the permanent collection to curate a show of their own. Sometimes prairie dog columnist Seema Goel was the first artist, I believe, to participate. A few years ago, she paired some traditional Western landscape paintings with Inuit prints to explore the link between art in those cultures and their broader relationship with nature and the land.

Close Strangers: Distant Relations is the brainchild of University of Regina Fine Arts professor David Garneau. Painter, art critic and academic, Garneau, for the last ten years or so, has been keenly engaged in critiquing pop culture and historical representations of First Nations and Metis people in Canada and the United States.

For this show, he pulled a broad range of paintings and sculptures from the gallery's collection. He then recorded short story-based commentaries on each work that viewers can listen to via iPods borrowed from the gallery gift shop while they wander through the show. Neat idea, eh?

Pictured above is Janet Werner's 1999 painting Gray Girl which is included in the show. Close Strangers: Distant Relations is on display at the MacKenzie until Jan. 3.


I Saw Avatar

Saw it. Liked it. Recommend it. Avatar has no plot, the characters have the depth of Disney cartoons and the dialogue ("You're not in Kansas!" "We will fight terror, with terror!") ranges from "sketchy" to "George Lucas-esque painful to listen to." But...

Yeah, you should probably see this in the theatre. Ideally in 3-D. Ideally as soon as possible.

I love Avatar's dopey, hippie message. Maybe it's just that I saw the film on the right day but I was all-up for a flashy, brainless "tree-huggers vs. American-style corporate fascists in space" fable where (spoiler alert!) the good [cats] win. After a couple of weeks watching humanity's leaders bungle through Copenhagen for a useless non-treaty on global warming in real life, I needed giant, blue, feline warriors killing the crap out of crummy, capitalist scum and their stormtroopers-for-hire.

When the helicopters came, Bruce Cockburn wanted a rocket launcher. All the Na'vi (as they're called) need are inch-thick, four-foot arrows (unnecessarily) dipped in neurotoxic poison. Suck on that, you forest-raping Earth-fuckers!

As for the special and 3-D effects, dial your expectations down, slightly. Avatar won't change the way movies are made like Star Wars or Jurassic Park did. Avatar's effects aren't revolutionary, they're evolutionary. But yes, they're the best effects ever. Just don't expect to see a new colour being invented before your eyes, is all I'm saying. (I should add that, to director James Cameron's credit, the effects aren't used in a pushy way that would distract from the movie. Restraint is an admirable quality in a film that's 95 per cent computer-made.)

So that's my take. Hope it's helpful. Four dogs out of five.

Okay, four and a half. Not too bad for a flick with no script.

No Olympic Gold for BC First Nations

You'd think that authentic aboriginal art would be highly prized by tourists in Vancouver to witness the Olympic spectacle. You'd think that the production of same would be a big industry for first nations communities in BC this year. And you'd think that'd mitigate the concern from some anti-Olympic activists that the event will be a money loser for the city. "Sure, the Olympics cost us a bundle of cash we'll never make back," they'll say, "but at least aboriginal Canadians made a mint selling Haida carvings and such."

You'd think all that, but you'd be wrong. From what the Edmonton Journal is reporting today, BC's first-nations communities won't be seeing much in the way of Olympic gold.

Turns out, while an aboriginal art company is going bankrupt in BC, the Olympic organizers have outsourced the making of authentic aboriginal art to China.

12 Days of Christmas: Lethal Weapon

"Jingle Bell, Jingle Bell, Jingle Bell Rock."

Splat! A young hooker, high on an illegal substance, jumps off a balcony and kick starts this 1987 action packed film.

It's Christmas time and Sergeant Roger Murtaugh (Danny Glover) is investigating the death of the girl with his new partner Sergeant Martin Riggs (Mel Gibson). Riggs is suicidal since the death of his wife and Murtaugh is just getting to old for this shit. After watering down the franchise with three sequels, some people might have forgotten how much fun, excitement and intensity this film has.

Made near the end of the '80s and following in the footsteps of several buddy cop movies (48 Hours, Beverly Hills Cop), this film was directed by Richard Donner (Superman, The Omen, The Goonies) and written by Shane Black (The Last Boy Scout, Last Action Hero, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang).

After the opening credits and the dead hooker, this film contains so many action scenes, it's almost hard to list them. But highlights include jumping off a building (with a suicidal citizen), a helicopter shoot out, an electric shock torture scene, numerous gun fights, several scenes containing the constant verbal sparing between Murtaugh and Riggs and of course the final kung fu fight on Murtaugh's lawn between Riggs and Mr. Joshua(Gary Busey). This movie is an intense ride.

Pick of the Day: A Serious Man

Following their triumph with No Country for Old Men the Coen Brothers return to their roots with this quirky comedy that mines their own mid-Western Jewish upbringing for inspiration. Set in 1967, the film stars Michael Stuhlbarg as a physics prof named Larry Gopnik who struggles to cope when his comfortable middle-class existence begins to crumble like an asteroid being torn apart by cetrifugal force as it spins ever faster in outer space to extend the physics metaphor -- which the Coens doubtlessly use to great effect in exploring questions of faith, morality and family responsibility.

A Serious Man plays tonight at the RPL at 7 p.m. Here's the trailer. (YouTube)

And if you're in the mood for a double-bll Amreeka screens at 9 p.m. Directed by Cherien Dabis, it chronicles the adventures of a single mother named Mona (Nisreen Faour) who journeys with her son from the West Bank to the promised land of America (small town Illinois, to be precise). Here's the trailer (YouTube)


Stolen? Or Escaped?

A Regina woman's gingerbread men are missing. (Leader-Post)


I don't "do" Saturday mornings and I'm even iffy on afternoons but there's too much report to take the day COMPLETELY off, so here's your evening news links. All bad news, all things you need to know. Sorry about this. Better put a helmet on before you read further.

1 COPENHAGEN RUINED! RUINED! Global political leadership and capitalism fail utterly to sign a meaningful, binding deal to save our future civilization. What came out of Copenhagen is practically useless. It's the failingest failure that ever failed and I hate it and it sucks and we're all fucked. Epic. Fail. (Guardian, NPR, BBC, Guardian again, Globe And Mail (cartoon), Grist, CBC, Desmogblog, Green Party Of Canada/Elizabeth May, and one more from the Guardian--poor George Monbiot, who just calls it like it is.)

Thanks to sitting on our asses and sticking our heads in the ground (we're flexible!), and listening to lunatics like Sarah Palin, Lord Viscount Christopher Monckton Of Bugeye-Pompington, and Ian Plimer, the denial dude Rex Murphy has the contrarian crush on, our children's world is almost certainly going to be much, much worse than yours was. (How Stuff Works).

We can bail out banks. We can invade countries that never attacked us. We can't agree to save the climate. IF anyone's left to write a history of our species in a hundred years this disaster will be one of the biggest jokes going.

(steam blowing out ears)

The public has been misinformed and nakedly lied to, which works because we're all mostly decent people who aren't experts who tend to expect the best in others and when there's two groups arguing about something complicated, we assume they both have reasonable points. That's how the liars trick us into being polite when we should be freaking the fuck out en mass (and on their lying asses). Like prairie dog printed last edition: the climate liars fucked our future. Liars? We probably should've called them terrorists. Because they are. Madmen and terrorists and climate war criminals, defending indefensible economic interests.

(Top of head blows off like a raccoon in a geyser)

BUT: I refuse--refuse!--to believe that our species is incapable of acting in its collective interest of self-preservation. Unlikely to do so, yes. Sadly. Incapable? Absolutely not. I'll probably be alive for another 30-40 years and I'm really interested to see how this turns out. Maybe people will wake up, hold their leaders to account, organize, demonstrate, etc? Stranger things have happened.

Oh and Rex Myurphy? You're an awful man. (Globe And Mail)


2 AUSCHWITZ SIGN THEFT Holy motherfuckers, Batman. Maddest I've been about vandalism in, well, maybe ever. (CBC/Canadian Press)

3 AN AMERICAN COUP In a new book, the FBI is accused of abusing their power in a bid to jail Bill Clinton after Monicagate--by the former president's secret service guards. (New York Times) How come no one "abuses their power" to go after war criminals like George W. Bush and Dick Cheney? Oh, right. Fascism. I forgot. American fascism says blowjobs are an unforgiveable sin but it's okay to bomb countries under false pretences, spy on your own population, blow the cover of your own country's secret agents for political payback against whistleblowers, torture your enemies, shepard huge contracts to your business buds, cut taxes to the super wealthy while ordinary people laguish in poverty, deregulate everything until your country goes bankrupt, blah blah etc. blah. Fascism is fun!

4 IRAN ADMITS ELECTION PROTESTORS BEATEN TO DEATH IN PRISON The election-stealing country's judiciary says that's the facts Jack. Oopsie doodles! (MSNBC)

5 LAME, WATERED DOWN HEALTH CARE BILL HAS THE VOTES TO PASS, WELL, AT THE MOMENT ANYWAY So yippee for America, or something, I guess. Too bad about women who want to have abortions, but, whatever. Lots of American women don't really seem to care about their rights much anyway. (Washington Post)

6 POLL DANCING IGGY WANTS ANOTHER YEAR OF STEPHEN HARPER? A federal election in 2010? Nope, nope, nope, says Ignatieff. (Ottawa Citizen)

12 Days of Christmas: Trading Places

There's a scene in this movie where Dan Aykroyd, brought low in a social experiment of nature versus nurture, sits on a bus in a Santa Claus suit. He's drunk and foul looking and he had just failed to frame Eddie Murphy at a company Christmas party of his former employers in an attempt try to reclaim his previous life. At the party he had "procured" some food and booze. Now sitting on a bus he pulls a smoked salmon out of his coat and tries to eat it through his Santa Claus beard getting hair stuck in his mouth. It is one of the funniest and nastiest bits I have ever seen. Sure there's sicker gags out there on film but that beard is just a nasty, filthy looking beard and I'm not sure I'd wear it much less let it get stuck on food that I was trying to eat.

The film is one John Landis' last of his really funny comedies that he made. After this he made several mediocre comedies like Spies Like Us and Coming to America and more than a few done right disasters - Innocent Blood, Beverly Hills Cop III and The Stupids.

This is one of those rare comedies that has some insightful social commentary. It also has an ending that apparently makes perfect sense if you're a commodities broker. I've tried to follow it several times and I think I understand what's going on. Fortunately there are folks out that look into this sort of thing and have actually explained what happens.

Saturday Morning Cartoon

With James Cameron's latest movie Avatar blowing away moviegoers at theatres with it's amazing 3D CGI and it's eco-friendly message - it occurred to me that there is another hero who communed with the jungles of Earth, bonded with the animals and had a respect all living things in the forest - unless something was trying to eat him, then it was a free for all.

Edgar Rice Burroughs' Tarzan.

And back in the 1970's Filmation studios had brought Tarzan to life for 36 episodes in Tarzan, Lord of the Jungle. This was also one of the more faithful adaptations of Tarzan, like the original novels he is intelligent and well spoken. The show often explored many of the lost cities that the novels featured unlike the movie that had him grunting and running around New York city for laughs.

Pick of the Day: Peppermint Glitz

Fresh off their performance of A Spoon We Are Not at the Globe Theatre in October (pictured), Misty Wensel, Fran Gilboy and Heather Cameron of FadaDance host their annual Christmas party at the Exchange tonight. Featured will be performances by several troupes who take classes at FadaDance's east-central Regina studio. Not sure if the FadaMen are still active, but if they are, they'll likely bust a move or two. The fun gets going around 9:30 p.m., and traditionally goes late, so bring your dancing shoes and have a good time.

If you feel like exercising your funny bone instead, a group of local comics will be performing at the Club tonight. That should kick-off around 8 p.m. And if you do happen to drop by, make sure you check out the exhibition P.A. Lowbrow a.k.a. Three Motherf****** from P.A. that's on display there until Jan. 8. It features work in a decidedly raunchy vein by Michel Boutin, Harley Kowalsky and John MacDonald.

And OYE! with Def 3 spinning pre and post-show tunes is at the Distrikt. $7 at the door.


(Not-So) New Dog!

Yesterday was busy and today your excellent prairie dog editor has been a little slow in the brain so this bi-weekly update on the AWESOME EXCITING NEW ISSUE OF PRAIRIE DOG EXCLAMATION POINT! is late (the new dog came out yesterday). But yeah, basically: new paper on the streets! To sum up: it's good. I don't' know if it's quite the must-read our last edition was--"how the Climate Liars F#@ked the Future" might be my favourite cover story of 2009--but I know that if I didn't work here I'd read it and like it.

So what do we have for you this issue? Well, we have (drumroll):

92 WAYS TO STUFF A STOCKING! Looking for ideas to fill your favourite person's Christmas sock (or non-denominational fabric-based foot garb or secular/atheist leg-end appendage receptacle)? We have ideas! A whole LIST of ideas! (Guess how many ideas ! Ninety-two you guess? Ding ding, that's right! (How did you know?) Basically, we talk about the stock-stuffy merit of items like coffee, cigars, hand lotion, harmonicas, condoms, rubber snakes and dead, frozen mice. As usual this is not a list anyone competent would print but hey it's what makes prairie dog so special and unique.

(Also, did you see how : I typed "a whole" up there? That's a very naughty homonym! Ha ha!)

We've also got news stories on CLAC, the controversial Christian union that wants workers to earn less, and a feature on the residents turfed from their Halifax St. apartment by the fire marshal, and a good Gywnne Dyer column and a great opinion piece by John "the "F' stands for "ferocious" Conway, and a lot more.

And a good review of the Fainting Goat, and a short column on parenting that we're already getting fan mail on. And probably the best, meanest letter we got this year, from a guy in Lumsden who finds our insult-hurling idiom a little stupid and childish (which it is!)

In short, good issue I think. I recommend you pick it up.