10.31.2009

Trick Or Treat

It's 5:29 p.m., the internationally-recognized official start of western civilization's annual candy grab. Do you know where your pumpkin is?

31 Days of Horror: Halloween

Well its Halloween and what better movie to wrap up 31 Days of Horror than John Carpenter's 1978 horror classic Halloween.

Spawning seven sequels, a remake and a sequel to the remake, Halloween is often credited for starting the slasher horror genre that bombarded the '80s. Bob Clark's Black Christmas actually predated this film as a slasher flick but it didn't have the same impact as Carpenter's movie had.

The story starts off in 1963 where a young six year old boy named Michael Myers brutally murders his sister on Halloween. Fifteen years later and Michael's psychiatrist Dr. Sam Loomis (Donald Pleasence) is transporting Myers when Myers escapes. Myers turns up back at his old hometown and starts stalking Jamie Lee Curtis and her friends while wearing a painted William Shatner mask.

The story is simple but effective. Carpenter creates excellent suspension here and his soundtrack is creepy and memorable. Unlike the slasher films that would later follow, the body count in this film is quite low. Carpenter wisely never directed another Halloween movie and instead moved on to make other brilliant horror movies - usually titled John Carpenter's whatever (The Fog, The Thing, Christine - even though Christine is a Stephen King story).

Saturday Morning Cartoon: Halloween Edition

Today's special Saturday Morning Cartoon is the 1953 Oscar nominated short cartoon The Tell-Tale Heart. The cartoon is narrated by James Mason and directed by Ted Parmelee who directed several Rocky & Bullwinkle cartoons.

This is a faithful and creepy adaptation of Edgar Allen Poe's classic short story. There is limited animation but surreal backgrounds and the point of view look to the film work excellently to create a unique style for the cartoon.

Pick of the Day: Thirst


Shane's been regaling you this month with a pre-Hallowe'en run-down of his 31 favourite horror flicks. I'm not saying that this film by South Korean director Park Chan-wook (Old Boy Trilogy) should have been included in his list. But Thirst is screening tonight at the RPL Theatre at 7 p.m. so it was a natural for my pick-of-the day. Although as I noted in yesterday's post, there is some decent music happening tonight too.

Awarded the Prix du Jury at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival, Thirst is loosely based on Emile Zola's 19th century novel Therese Raquin, and concerns a priest who selflessly ministers to the sick and dying while silently wrestling with doubts about the sanctity of his faith. After volunteering for an experiment to find a cure for the fatal Emmanuel Virus, he succumbs to the disease, only to be reborn as a vampire with an insatiable lust both for blood and his childhood friend's beautiful wife Tae-ju.
Thirst is rated 18A, and is apparently the first mainstream Korean film to feature full-frontal male nudity. Here's the English language trailer. (YouTube) And if you're too busy trick or treating tonight, Thirst also plays at the RPL Sunday at 9:15 p.m.

10.30.2009

31 Days of Horror: Let the Right One In

Låt den rätte komma in (Let the Right One In) is a 2008 Swedish horror film. Based on a novel by John Ajvide Lindqvist the film is about a young bullied boy named Oskar (Kåre Hedebrant). His parents are divorced and he spends a lot of time alone while his mother works.

In Oskar's apartment complex a couple of new neighbours moves in. An older man and young girl about his age called Eli (Lina Leandersson). Some of the local people have been found dead while Oskar forms a friendship with Eli.

Vampire movies have been plentiful lately but it's been a long time since I've seen one that brought something new to the genre. The majority of them have been either romanticized crap or another take on the Dracula story.

This is a quietly beautiful and unsettling creepy movie. Director Tomas Alfredson, whose going to be directing a new version of John Le Carre's Tinker, Tinker, Soldier, Spy, has crafted a brilliant horror movie that doesn't follow the standard cliches that plague the genre.

Unfortunately Hollywood is going to remake this film with Cloverfield director Matt Reeves at the helm. They've even changed the title to the more blunt Let Me In. One can only hope that it fails miserably.

Friday Afternoon Kitty: Halloween Edition!

I think the movie Cat People affected my sexuality forever: two hours of a mostly naked Nastassia Kinski and her incestuous, hooker-eating brother PLUS all those great big black pussycats, all set to David Bowie's soundtrack... Well, it made me into one confused, horny little kitten, let me tell you.

For this Halloween edition of Friday Afternoon Kitty, we present the sexy kissing scene (deep down we know that for adults, Halloween is really about kissing) and the scene where poor Irena turns into a panther for the first time and nearly eats her new boyfriend. Mmmm... miscegenation....


Today On the Scarth Street Mall


Someone celebrating Hallowe'en early, or an insidious marketing ploy by a coalition of local TV stations to generate public sympathy for their campaign to pressure Ottawa to extract money from so-called "cable cash cows" to help fund local TV news, drama and other programming although some might call bullshit on that given the stations' demonstrated lack of commitment over the last several decades to producing said programming? You be the judge.

Pick of the Day: God Made Me Funky

I did a post on this Toronto-based nu-funk hip hop group when they passed through town last winter. I didn't catch their March 6 gig at the District. I'm not sure why. But it probably had something to do with the weather being shitty, and me being busy finishing up whatever writing assignments I had for the March 12 issue of prairie dog.

Anyway, tonight the band makes a return visit to the Distrikt. What with the gigs last night (Marianas Trench, the Downchild Blues Band); all the shows tonight (Akon, Asleep at the Wheel, and a These Estates and Architects & Builders double bill at O'Hanlon's); and the shows happening tomorrow night (Puddle of Mud, the Feast of Screams Hallowe'en metal blowout at the Exchange) it's a busy few days for live music fans in Regina.
Do your best to get out to something, okay? And for a taste of what God Made Me Funky have to offer, here's a link to my earlier post.

10.29.2009

31 Days of Horror: Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde


Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1931) is the finest version of the oft told Robert Louis Stevenson's The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.

Everyone should know the story by now. The good Dr. Jekyll invents a serum that separates man's good and evil selves. He experiments on himself creating the evil Mr. Hyde.

Directed with style by Rouben Mamoulian, who would later direct the excellent The Mark of Zorro (1940), and starring Fredric March as Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. March would win an Oscar for best actor for this film. March's make-up for Hyde is extremely effective and the transformation scenes are amazing. In 1941 the movie was remade with Spencer Tracy who just messed his hair up to play Hyde. The movie is extremely weak, especially when compared to this film.

Made during the Pre-Code days, the film deals with sex a little more frankly than films made from the later Production Code days. In fact Miriam Hopkins plays a prostitute that the good doctor helps out in a scene that was later cut down in re-releases due to its sexiness. In fact eight minutes where cut out of the 1936 re-release and when MGM remade the movie in 1941 - they bought and shelved every version of the film they could get their hands on. They didn't want it competing with their version. The film has finally been restored and released on DVD by Warner Brothers in a set that contains the 1941 version as well.



Bono: the ego has landed

In honor of Z99/JackFM's petition to bring U2 to Regina (petitions.com) , may I present you with Bono's lament that the audience didn't get U2's latest, er, um, 'masterwork.' (The Guardian)

Bono, meet Captain Obvious. Your last album sold like shite because it WAS shite. It's the first U2 album I have evr donated to CJTR's CD sale fundraiser -- and I listened to October.

the np: --30-- ?

Maybe. If the court say so. (cbc.ca) You hate to speak ill of the dead, and there are going to be a lot of journalists looking for work when this thing flames out, but I want to see what happens when the neo-con hacks in the editorial department realize that they're casualties in a free-market system. They never thought that this day would happen to them.

Pick of the Day: Marianas Trench

According to Wikipedia, the Mariana Trench, which is located in the western Pacific Ocean near Mariana Island, is the deepest point on the surface of Earth's crust. Approximately 2500 km long, with an average width of 69 klicks, the trench is located on the boundary between two massive tectonic plates, and at its deepest point plunges to a depth of 11,000 m. Water pressure at that depth is pretty intense -- over 1000 times the atmospheric pressure of 14.7 pounds per inch at sea level.

But enough about geology. Marianas Trench, which headline a concert tonight at Canada Centre (Evraz Place), are a Vancouver based punk band fronted Josh Ramsay. Signed to 604 Records, they released their first full-length CD Fix Me in 2006. Earlier this year they followed that up with their sophomore release Masterpiece Theatre. Off that album, here's the video for their song "Cross My Heart". (YouTube)

Backing up Marianas Trench are the Quebec pop rock band the New Cities. Here's the video for their song "Dead End Countdown" (YouTube)

Paul's Picks Part 2

I'm back from O'Hanlons and a few post-election drinks. Thus fortified, I can now crack open the envelope containing my election picks and you can all see just how clueless my guesses were.

Below, I've copied them out. The actual election results are in brackets and italicized....

Mayor - Fiacco (winner: Fiacco)

COUNCIL
Ward 1 - Browne (winner: Browne)
Ward 2 - McIntyre (winner: Hutchinson)
Ward 3 - Clipsham (winner: Clipsham)
Ward 5 - Findura (winner: Findura)
Ward 6 - Murray (winner: Murray)
Ward 7 - Bryce (winner: Bryce)
Ward 8 - O'Donnell (winner: O'Donnell)
Ward 10 - Flegel (winner: Szarka)

PUBLIC SCHOOL BOARD
Subdivision 2 - Bourgeois (winner: Young)
Subdivision 3 - Davis (winner: West)
Subdivision 4 - Anderson (winner: Anderson)
Subdivision 6 - Conlin (winner: Gagne)

Okay, some breakdown on what I was thinking....

On the council side, when in doubt I went with the incumbent unless I had a compelling reason not to. I figured that as this has been such a good-news year for Regina, it'd be tough for challengers to get much traction.

Picking Fiacco for mayor, for instance, was pretty much a no brainer. As much as I think Jim Elliott is an eloquent defender of marginalized people and sidelined issues for Regina, I really didn't think he had a hope of denting Fiacco's support. It didn't help matters that this was such a low-key election and thus he had few opportunities to challenge the status-quo.

As for where I guessed completely wrong... there's Ward 2, for starters, where I picked Heather McIntyre to unseat Jocelyn Hutchinson. McIntyre's a communications professional and I'd heard some very good things about her on-the-street organization. I reckoned she'd be very good at mobilizing support in the ward and the issues she was running on -- recycling, transit, sustainable growth -- were specific and seemed to be the kind of things that would resonate with a lot of voters. In the end, it was an extremely close race, with McIntyre losing by only 191 votes. Clearly, she did connect with voters, just not quite enough to overcome the incumbent advantage.

After that, there's Ward 10 where my pick, Jerry Flegel, was unseated by the football player, Chris Szarka. You know, people keep telling me about the irresistible force that is Rider Nation but I just keep ignoring them. At my peril, it would seem. Yeah, I considered this outcome a possibility but when I checked the Rider Fans forum earlier today and didn't see a single mention of Szarka's council race anywhere in the first few pages of the messageboard, I just assumed Rider Nation wasn't really paying attention to the election. I think I may still be correct in that assumption but that doesn't change the fact that Szarka won Ward 10.

The one upset I did guess right was Findura taking Ward 5. The thing that tipped me on this one was the fact that long-term councillor Bill Gray announced his intention to run for re-election so late in the game -- it was the second last day of nominations, in fact. By that point, Findura had a votefindura website up and running, a votefindura email address and a phone number that spelled out his first name. Findura just seemed hungrier for this win than Gray did so I had to give him the edge.

Meanwhile, on the public school board side, I was so terribly wrong.

I figured -- incorrectly, as it turns out -- that the two incumbents, West and Young, would have a tougher time than their council counterparts as they were having to defend a policy many were highly critical of -- the 10-year renewal plan. Plus, as I wrote in the prairie dog, I had been impressed by the level of organization I'd witnessed coming from the Real Renewal crowd. It was a potent mix of factors favoring the challengers, I thought.

Even still, I was kind of inclined to think that the incumbents would be tough to unseat. It just seemed like a stick with the familiar kind of year. So in that draft list of picks I'd written up in my head I had Young down to win Subdivision 2 and had left Subdivision 3 a blank.

And then all hell broke loose on the blog.

That's it, I thought. School board elections are always second banana to council elections. And this council election is a complete bore, we'll be lucky to get 30 per cent voter turnout. But for the school board race, you have a really passionate group who feel they have a lot to lose if the candidates they're pulling for don't get in. Those guys are totally coming out to vote in droves and will completely drown out all those other voters who have no idea what's going on on the school board side. And maybe they did come out in droves. But clearly, in Subdivisions 2 and 3 at least, support for the incumbents -- and, likely, support for the 10-year plan -- is strong.

Subdivision 6 I also got wrong. It was one I was really stuck on for a while because I knew so little it seemed about the people runing. There was no incumbent here so all three candidates had little name recognition, I figured. Why'd I pick Conlin then? To be honest... her video profile on the city's YouTube site had the most hits. I figured that might be a sign she had a lot of supporters backing her. I really didn't have a better reason than that. (Katherine Gagne had a better website, though.)

Okay, that's it. My picks and excuses for the 2009 Regina Municipal Election.

Many thanks to all the candidates for contributing to the prairie dog's election profiles and for enduring my inane questions leading up to and in the immediate aftermath of the election (and, a preemptive thanks for enduring all the inane questions yet to come). Also, many thanks to Kaeli Madill and all the fine folk in the city's communications department for setting us up in Henry Baker Hall with a desk, comfy chairs and an internet connection so we could blog our way through this. (And apologies to the city managers whose chairs we were borrowing and who will no doubt be catching prairie dog cooties as a result.) And props to Phillipe from the city hall (whose last name I don't know) who seems to have been the mastermind behind all the twittering and youtubing the city's been doing. Very handy, that.

10.28.2009

Village People Update

Lifted this photo from Facebook. It shows Regina-based pop-cabaret performer Jeff Straker meeting up with the Village People following their performance at the Casino on Tuesday night (he's the one in the feathered headress).

Election Over

While the results won't be official until Friday, the results are pretty much settled now. Mayor Fiacco is back in with 85% of the vote. Eight out of ten councillors will be returning. You can look at the totals on the city's election results for council, mayor and school boards are website here.

I'll crack open my envelope of election guesses. But I can already tell you I'm certainly not batting 1000. But I'm going to wait until I've had a beer. Or ten.

EDIT: Steve says I shouldn't be closed minded and maybe have some shots. We'll be at O'Hanlons. You can find us there.

The Football Player, Part Two


Paul and I just interviewed Chris Szarka, the football player councillor I was disdainful of in an earlier post. Nice guy. His concern isn't "one note" as I reported earlier, it's actually two-note: property taxes (high) and services (bad). I asked him to reconcile what seems to me to be contradictory priorities: lowering taxes and improving services. He didn't, I should note, say he wanted to push for lower taxes. What he actually said, and I don't have the direct quote so hopefully I'm paraphrasing correctly, is that people in his ward pay high taxes and have bad services. He specifically mentioned poor, low snow removal and no doorstep mail delivery. Reasonable things to gripe about. But if those can't be improved, he said, the level of taxes need to be revisited.

EDIT: I suspect he might be a Ward 10 secessionist. You heard it from prairie dog's editor first.

So there you go. Back to Dechene, who'll cap the evening with a quick post on the results you certainly shouldn't be reading this blog for.

Mayor Pat Is Back

I'll tell you, people do love Pat Fiacco. Not everyone but more than his critics might think. Semi-interesting story: when I was in Saskatoon last weekend buying the World's Greatest Awesome Rockaroll Coat (but I digress), I was talking to the shop owner about our two cities, comparing what we like and what we don't, that kind of thing. This guy raved about Regina's political bench boss. "He's terrific," said this businessman. "Great promoter of Regina. Not like our mayor at all."

So there you go. Saskatoon wants our mayor. The one guy I talked to proves it.

Public School Looking Very Divided

Incumbents Dale West and Barbara Young are looking pretty locked in to return to school board. Joining them is newcomer, Angela Fraser who won Subdivision 7 by acclamtion. Young and West are part of the council that brought in the controversial 10-year renewal plan, while, according to her campaign literature and profile, Fraser is also a booster of the plan.

Meanwhile, Carla Beck -- Real Renewal member and a critic of the plan -- who won Subdivision 5 by acclamation will find support from Cindy Anderson who is looking very strong in Subdivision 4.

The final winner by acclamation, Timothy Stobbs, and leader in the Subdivision 6 race Katherine Gagne are less strident in their critiques of the plan.

So... in short, three plan supporters, two opponents, and two I can't say one way or the other for certain.

A very fractured result. Curious to see how this board will work out.

Results Stalled

Wondering why the election isn't over yet? There's been a glitch with a few of the voting machines and they're being brought in to election central and their results re-run.... or something to that effect.

Personally, I'm having a pretty good time here and this just adds to the drama.

For the record, I still think it's too early to call Ward 10, Stephen...

31 Days of Horror: The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms

Today is International Animation Day and ideally I would like to highlight an animated horror movie. But for some strange reason there isn't really any.

There has been some Japanese anime that play with the horror genre like Vampire Hunter D (1985) and Blood: The Last Vampire (2000) but I found Vampire Hunter D to be a mediocre film at best. It's ok but it's more of a fantasy film than a horror movie and Blood: The Last Vampire is more of action film and is only 48 minutes long - it barely gets started and then it's over.

But in 1953 Warner Brothers made the first of the atomic powered giant monster movies and the brilliant Ray Harryhausen provided the stop motion effects.

The movie claims to be based on Ray Bradbury's short story of the same name. In fact the movie was shot and then the producers bought the rights to Bradbury's story to use the name. Bradbury then changed the name of his story to The Fog Horn.

In the arctic during a nuclear bomb test - a frozen dinosaur is awakened and then goes on a rampage in New York City. The beast ends up at the Coney Island amusement park because Disneyland wasn't open yet.

This film started the whole giant monster movie craze and it inspired Japan to create one of the most famous giant monsters of all - Godzilla. Harryhausen's animation is amazing and it's pretty cool that when the monster bleeds, it releases a ancient "horrible, virulent" prehistoric germ that also starts killing the people off who weren't trampled by the beast. The ending at Coney Island is fantastic and the film itself is one of the many highlights of Ray Harryhausen's long career.

The Football Player And Other Stories

Well, it looks like Roughrider and political novice Chris Szarka is destroying incumbant councillor Jerry Flegel. Paul, who unlike me has glasses and can therefore read the numbers on the jumbo screen, says Szarka has 1,746 votes to about 1200 for Councillor Flegel.

Carle Steel, working from her home office, called a community and arts activist for an opinion. Was expecting a good quote but apparently this longtime arts booster and defender of the public interest was speechless.

Our view: Flegel is a right-leaning councillor in a sprawled exurb, so on one hand it's tough to mourn his apparent looming defeat. But in my experience he's also a friendly, polite and intelligent professional politician who listens to his critics.

Chris Szarka was one of only three candidates who did not answer or pre-election candidates survey. As far as I know he's a newbie politician running on a simple-minded, one-note "cut taxes" campaign. Maybe I just don't know enough about him. Well, fine, whatever.

All I can say is, if he wins he has some catching up to do to his yes, perhaps wrong about some important things but still class act predecessor.

As for the titular "other stories", one of our roaming election operatives called in a little while ago. Apparently John Hopkins from the Chamber Of Commerce is on Access television questioning the need to even have a mayoral race when there's so much support for Fiacco. Harrrunk? I know Mayor Pat wouldn't agree with that. I guarantee our city politicians and more democracy and more competitive races. Even if it doesn't always work out for candidates like Jerry Flegel.

Fiacco takes it

31 of 55 polls reporting and its pretty clear that Pat Fiacco will continue as mayor. He has 83.5% of the vote right now. Jim Elliott (picture at right) has taken 12% with 2556 votes so far.

Chris Szarka ... okay, newstalk is calling it the upset of the night and I'm finding it hard to not just transcribe everything I'm hearing.

Here come the results.

The numbers are starting to scroll up the big screens.
Pat Fiacco is way out ahead in the mayoral race. For the council race, it's looking like a good night for incumbents in all wards except Ward 5 where Findura is leading long-term councillor Bill Gray. Also, in Ward 10 the football player is leading incumbent Jerry Flegel by 500 votes.

Media Setting Up

This is the view from the hall. We're sitting next to News Talk, educational listening on their pre-show patter.

Awesome big screens, eh.

Election Night Begins!

We made it! The media are setting up and I'm feeling like a total twit. Haven't got a clue what I'm doing here. Over to Steve.....

Whitworth here. Dechene's got us set up and we're ready to roll. We've never covered an election live and we have no idea what we're doing. I predict awesomeness.

UPDATE: Dechene says there's only one "G" in "blogapalooza". I guess we don't want to steal the "OO"'s thunder. Edit made.

Paul's Picks: The Envelope


Here they are. Sealed up in an envelope and not to be opened until after all the votes are in. My pics for mayor, city council and public school board. (Sorry, catholic school board. I just didn't have a clue how that race is going to go....)

For the record, these are not necessarily the people I would've voted for, they're the people I think will win tonight. Tune in after the results come in (sometime between 8:30pm and 10pm, I'm guessing) and I'll open the envelope and you can see how close I came.

Stephen and I will be at city hall tonight pretending to be press as candidates wait nervously to discover their fate. Apparently, election central is open to the public so if you want to be where the municipal election action is -- and action aplenty there will be -- or if you're just looking for a way to kill the evening, come on out to Henry Baker Hall. If you can't make it, we'll try to "live blog" or some such "online" nonsense.

Ricky Talks!


And writes! And makes a whole bunch of sense in the Canadian cable vs Canadian television companies steel cage match. (Montreal Gazette). Told you getting your Grade 10 is important.

Rider Pride's Dubious anniversary

Rob Vanstone’s article in today’s Leader-Post (LP) details the 30th anniversary of the famous ‘Rider Pride game, where the Riders were mired in a sea of debt, unable to muster fans, and during the $200-a-plate bun-toss, Winnipeg sportswriter John Robertson railed at Saskatchewan the way Bluto rallied Delta House to glory in the last reel of Animal House. Robertson didn’t utter the famous quote ‘WAS IT OVER WHEN THE GERMANS BOMBED PEARL HARBOUR?’ But he may as well have.

Like about 28,000 people, my father and I attended the following home game against the British Columbia Lions, and the Riders won and everyone went home happy. But in the end, there was a shift in Roughrider fans’ mentality, and in the mentality of the Roughrider board of directors (The Powers That be). Saskatchewan people stopped being football fans, and became ‘enablers’ in the 12-step sense of the word. (Alcohol Self Help News). Roughrider fans became known for accepting any crap inserted into green-and-white jerseys, no matter how badly the game was played or how little, um, ‘entertainment’ was in the match.

Season ticket campaigns took the “Ol’ Yeller” routine: unless people bought tickets, they would kill the club … and if that threat were raised, there were a lot of businessmen and sportswriters, their eyes drooling like Glenn Beck, crying about The Need To Save An Important Part of Our Heritage. In many ways, it was a con job – the Riders were in better financial shape than some of the teams that folded (Montreal Alouettes/Concordes, Ottawa Rough Riders) and had better connections to its local business community than other teams in Toronto, Hamilton, and Vancouver. The Roughriders’ real problem was that they didn’t use those connections and financial stability (in relative terms, this was the CFL after all) as a springboard to bigger and better things – they used it as a crutch to have the club limp along a road to nowhere, both in the stands and as an organization.

Except for a couple of years during the Bill Baker era, the Roughriders didn’t seem to operate like a football club whose main ambition in life was to win football games. Instead, the Riders seemed to be run like, say, the Weyburn Exhibition Board. A bunch of businessmen would get together, hire a couple of people to run the show, and give them the order Don’t Lose Money. If you could bring in the same number of people to the grandstand with ‘family entertainment’ rather than a legitimate act that will draw in people, get the ‘family entertainment’ even though in a couple of years the kids are going, “Well, this sucks,’ and are going somewhere else.

I would argue that one of the two most important games in the history of the Saskatchewan Roughriders was not that game, but a game on Thanksgiving Sunday in 1999, when the Riders played Montreal (I think it was the only game that year that the CBC picked up involving the Riders). It was a beautiful fall afternoon in Montreal, and Percival Molson Stadium probably never looked better, as just over 20,000 jammed into the stands at McGill University to see one of the finest, best run best-cached, and best supported football teams in Canada. And the Roughriders.

The Riders were still in some form of a playoff ‘hunt,’ even though they had a 3-11 record at the time. Reggie Slack was the starting quarterback, who had come down with substance abuse issues and the whole squad looked dead on its feet. I remember the Riders down 35-0 at the half, then the first play from scrimmage to begin the third quarter – Tracy Ham of the Als had all day, all freaking day, to decide where he was going to throw, and lobbed the ball to a wide receiver who ran for paydirt … even as the camera pulled the shot back, there wasn’t a Roughrider player in range. I was editing the Fort Qu’Appelle Times at the time and thought, ‘the closest person from Saskatchewan on that play was my member of parliament, in a hot tub in the Gatineaus.’

I watched that game in the kitchen of my parent’s home, while my father, who was about to finish off his combining, finished his lunch. A few years previous, I bought for him a gag gift at a sporting goods store that was going out of business – a ball cap with the Montreal Alouettes logo – the one they used in the mid-70s before they went bankrupt in 1986. When the Als scored that touchdown, he shook his head, looked at his lynch-lid, now covered in durum dust and sweat, and quipped, ‘Gonna have to buy another hat.’

Later on, I did an op-ed piece for the CBC (actually a rewrite of my Fort Times column) that pronounced not just Rider Pride but the Roughriders dead. There was no way that the Riders’ Powers That Be had the vision or the guts to make the sort of changes that would be needed to make the team a contender. There was a generation of Saskatchewan residents who had grown up knowing the Riders as nothing but a pitiful, helpless excuse of an organization. Nothing like it is today.

Vanstone can wax as eloquently as he wishes about the Riders’ Good Old Days, as he has in two recent books, (LP) but for the Roughriders, these days are the good old days. The Roughriders, by all accounts, are the strongest and wealthiest franchise in the CFL, with the Leafs and Canadiens as one of the most recognizable sporting teams in Canada, the top draw for road teams and worth at least a quarter of a million extra viewers per TSN telecast. (SLAM Sports/Sun Media) Rider Pride was a celebration of wimpdom, in that the Riders needed pity and fear to sell tickets: for all the grousing about the greater corporate entity that’s now the Saskatchewan Roughriders, it’s hard to argue with success, on and off the field. Even if they’re a little less loveable in a teddy-bear sort of way.

Six in the Morning: the How to Vote Edition

Election day is here. Not sure how to go about voting? This six-question FAQ should cover everything you need to know....

1. WHERE DO I VOTE?
There are 52 polling locations in the city. The city has set up a handy tool on their website where you type in your address and it tells you where to go vote. Find it here. Alternately, you can phone the city's information line, 777-7000, and someone from city staff can help you find your polling station.

2. WHEN CAN I VOTE? Today. October 28. The polls open at 9 am and will remain open until 8 pm.

3. AM I EVEN ALLOWED TO VOTE? If you're 18 or older, the answer is probably yes. The only catch is on the day of the election you have to be a Canadian citizen, have been a resident of Saskatchewan for six months and a resident of Regina for three months.

And don't think that just because you didn't get a voter card in the mail you're off the hook. You can fill out a voter registration card when you get to the polling station.

4. WHAT WARD AM I IN? The city has a ward map you can consult here.

5. WHAT ABOUT SCHOOL BOARD? If you're voting for a public school trustee, you can find out what subdivision you're in by checking the map on the Public School Board website here. If you're voting for the catholic school board, they use an at-large system so you can vote for any of the candidates running. The seven receiving the most votes will become board members.

6. WHO SHOULD I VOTE FOR? Can't tell you that. But we can tell you how to get more information on everyone who's running.

prairie dog Candidate Profiles
You can pick up one of our latest issues in which you'll find candidate profiles for everyone running for mayor or council (plus great suggestions for Halloween movies). But if you're the type who needs more info, over the last few days we've posted longer profiles for everyone running including those in the school board races. Follow these links to get to them....
City of Regina profiles
The city has lists of candidates with photos and short bios on their website. You can check the mayoral candidates here, the candidates for council here, the candidates for public school board here and the candidates for separate school board here.

Candidate video profiles
The city has also set up a YouTube channel with video clips of each candidate talking about why they're running and what they hope to accomplish. Find it here.

Pick of the Day: Hair

Regina's municipal election is today. Make sure you do your part for democracy and vote for who you think should represent you as mayor, city councillor and school board trustee. If you need incentive, think about checking out this Do-It-With-Class production of the notorious Broadway musical afterwards. It closes out a two-night run with a performance at Conexus Arts Centre at 8 p.m.

Set in the mid-1960s in New York, Hair concerns a group of long-haired "hippies" who, having rejected the conservative values of their parents, embark on a counter-culture lifestyle of sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll while waging a political battle against conscription and the immorality of their country's growing involvement in the Vietnam War.

A lot of water has passed under the bridge since the musical debuted. Most of it polluted with ideals that are the polar opposite of those espoused in the musical related to individual freedom, peace, ethnic tolerance and sexual liberation. Earlier this year, though, a revival of Hair opened on Broadway, earning strong reviews along with a Tony Award for best revival of a musical, so maybe the tide truly is starting to turn again.

Do-It-With-Class will doubtlessly have their own take on Hair. But here's video of the Broadway cast performing the title song at the Tony Awards. (YouTube)

And don't forget to vote, okay.

10.27.2009

31 Days of Horror: El espinazo del diablo

El espinazo del diablo aka The Devil's Backbone (2001) was director Guillermo del Toro's stab at a creepy little ghost story that he made after his disastrous attempt at making a Hollywood horror film - Mimic (1997). Where he failed in Hollywood he succeeds here in this low budget Mexican/Spanish gothic horror film.

The story takes place in 1939 Spain during the civil war. A new boy named Carlos (Fernando Tielve) arrives at an orphanage thinking that it's temporary stay while his father is off fighting in the war. The orphanage is a creepy old place - there's a defused bomb sitting in the middle of the courtyard and in one of the buildings is a basement with a man made pool of water filled with the most disgusting looking muddy yellow brown water that you ever saw.

Some terrible things have happened at the orphanage and it becomes quickly clear that the place is haunted. The ghost is one of the orphan boys and Carlos is drawn into finding out what happened to him.

Del Toro is a really gifted director - he knows how to build tension and to tell a tale to make your hair stand on end. But he seems to lose his gift when he's making Hollywood movies. Films like Blade 2 and Hellboy are all right but they are nothing compared to his independent film ventures like Pan's Labyrinth and this film.

And now for something completely different – Rosie LaRose’s Top Six

How did you know I spent the weekend watching Bravo TV’s Monty Python special?

1. BOOM GOES THE DYNAMITE Last December Saskatoon police arrested an 18-year-old university student for possessing ‘explosives’ – actually, a high-school chemistry set. (cbc.ca) Earlier this month, all the charges were dropped. (cbc.ca) Since ammonia fertilizer and diesel fuel were the substances used in the Murrah Building bombing in Oklahoma City in 1994, (Wikipedia) Saskatoon police should be arresting every Saskatchewan farmer for possession of explosive devices.

2. COLLATERAL DAMAGE FROM THE COLLAPSE OF CORPORATE MEDIA I always thought Adbusters (their home page) was an organization dedicated, in part to combating the media oligarchy and consumerism. So why does Canwest Global’s television station and National Post divisions – the ones in bankruptcy protection – owe Adbusters more than $9,000? (Media Union of British Columbia). UPDATE: Paul tells me that the money Canwest Owes Adbusters stems from lawsuits stemming from Canwest refusing to air Adbusters anti-commercials. More here (Adbusters). Gee, you'd think Canwest would be happy to have a paying customer ...

3. NICE WORK IF YOU CAN GET IT Remember when the Tories and right wing groups such as the National Citizens’ Coalition would get on about Liberal and NDP MPs being eligible for gold plated pensions? Now that the Cons are in power, there’s not much talk about it … except for Rick Mercer (Rick Mercer Report via YouTube)

4. NOT JUST STEPHEN HARPER GETS BUY WITH A LITTLE HELP FROM HIS FRIENDS … Ohhh, look. A Cons bagman in Quebec seems to have interesting friends … who are caught up in a Montreal municipal government scandal (Canadian Press via The Globe and Mail)

5. IN OTHER NEWS, THE NUMBER OF CARDIAC PATIENTS AT REYKJAVIK GENERAL HOSPITAL HAS DECREASED BY 50 PER CENT Iceland’s collapsed economy means people having a Big Mac Attack will have to leave the island. McDonald's is pulling out. (Globe and Mail)

6. THINK ABOUT THIS WHEN YOU BUY STUFF China Hush (home page) is a website dedicated to stories that the Chinese government and the international business community would rather you didn’t see. Such as these pictures of China’s industrial pollution. Weep for the planet, and for humanity. (China Hush via The Galloping Beaver)

Oh Happy Day

This is what's going on on my little bit of Albert street:




Not only a new Japanese/Korean restaurant but a Karaoke place! If it gets even a portion the lost crowd from the Plains Hotel it should be good and weird. Juba Grocery seems to be hanging in (and have very good hours, so shop there and keep it going!). The Chamber of Commerce seems to be putting more windows in. Maybe it will help them see more clearly.

Will keep you posted. Karaoke!



Pick of the Day: The Village People

Sorry, couldn't resist.

The 1970s and '80s, for me, were a bit of a drag. I didn't really hit my stride until the '90s. The catch-phrase of that decade, if I recall correctly, was "lean and mean". I wasn't crazy about the mean part, obviously, in which governments froze/slashed spending on all sorts of worthwhile social and cultural programs to combat deficits, and corporations engaged in repeated rounds of downsizing.

But the idea of a leaner, less superficial approach to life was definitely in keeping with my personality and mindset. As icons of the disco era, the Village People contributed significantly to my misery. But they were far from the worst offenders. And I definitely respect the role they played in helping to popularize a queer sub-culture and win broader acceptance for queers in mainstream society.

I'm not sure how many of the original members of the Village People will be onstage tonight at Casino Regina, but for a blast from the past, here's the video for one of their biggest hits "YMCA" (YouTube)

10.26.2009

School Mergers and the Maybe Not-So Missing Memorabilia

For the record, in compiling the candidate profiles for the current prairie dog issue and for this blog, I did absolutely no fact checking of the assertions made by the various candidates -- no fact checking, whatsoever.

And while I'd cringe a little when I'd stumble on claims by candidates that property crime is going up in Regina (based on the 2008 to 2009 stats, it's going down.... the number of crimes against people on the other had, is creeping upward), I simply didn't have time to dig into every claim by all 40-plus candidates. I was kind of hoping any errors would get ferreted out by their opponents over the course of the campagn.

Well, this afternoon in my inbox I received my first critique of a candidate profile. The e-mail comes from Barb Saylor who is one of the outgoing members of the Public School Board. She takes exception to some comments made by Cindy Anderson, a candidate for that board in Subdivision 4. I'm reprinting the pertinent portion of Barb's email below....
"I must correct an impression left by Cindy Anderson as to the disposition of memorabilia from Robert Usher and other closed schools. She was on the transition committee, as her profile states, so she knows that there was indeed a plan, which included the transfer of sport-related plaques and trophies to a special cabinet beside the gym door at Thom; the tracking down of families whose students had memorial and other plaques in the schools; and a website with photos and descriptions of memorabilia, so that members of the public could ID them and claim them, if they wished. No doubt some unclaimed material was taken by members of the community, and that would be the items "in boxes, dispersed...." Items from Stewart Russell School went to Judge Bryant, including, with the blessing of Mr. Russell's family, his portrait and bio. I don't know specifically about items from Herchmer School, but consistency of practice already demonstrated would lead me to think that many are at Wascana School and others await the brand-new school to be built on the Herchmer site. This school will replace both Herchmer and Wascana, and will combine the heritage of both. My son's Grade 8 graduation picture will take its place somewhere in that building, whose construction and grand opening I plan to be around to see."
You can read Cindy's original comments on the Public School Board profiles page. If anyone wants to provide more insight into the disposition of memorabilia from closed schools, our blog is comment-enabled....

UPDATE [27/10/09, 09:47am]: A comment from Cindy Anderson has been posted which, in the case of Usher, disputes Barb Saylor's impression of how school memorabilia was handled. You can read it in the comments section below....

Election Issue: The Downtown Neighbourhood Plan

In the most recent prairie dog, we ran the top six municipal election issues as we saw them: poverty, the rental crisis, urban sprawl, transportation, recycling and waste, and recreation. I turned in a blurb on the Downtown Neighbourhood Plan that was bumped and seeing as it's otherwise just sit useless in my hard drive, I thought I'd post it here...

THE DOWNTOWN PLAN AND ITS CHEERLEADERS

After many consultations, draft reports and delays, on September 21, city council passed it’s new Downtown Neighbourhood Plan entitled “Walk to Work”. It lays out a comprehensive and progressive vision for the centre of the city that will see it transformed over the next 25 years into the heart of Regina’s cultural, civic and business life.

If all goes according to plan, the moonscape of surface parking south of Victoria will become sites for new development, biking and walking will be better accommodated, transit will be improved in and out of the core, more residential development will begin to spring up downtown, and street-level business will be courted and encouraged.

All in all, we should slowly see downtown Regina become a greener, more vibrant and user-friendly place to be.

Already, plans have been unveiled to revitalize Victoria park and the streets around it, and a new condo-complex and hotel has been unveiled for downtown’s western gateway on the site of the Plains Hotel.

City hall seems pretty happy with the Downtown Neighbourhood Plan. There were figurative high-fives all round the day it passed council, and it seems to be moving full steam ahead.

So why is it an election issue?

Because as the plan unfolds, there will be room for a new council to interpret it, ignore it, circumvent it or -- dare I suggest? -- sabotage it.

Sure, it will be made into a bylaw and incorporated into the Official Community Plan, but council has shown this is no guarantee that it will be followed in the long run. Over the last year, apartments were converted to condominiums despite objections from city staff and city policy. Apartment blocks were approved in commercial zones in contravention of guidelines in the Official Community Plan.

No plan or policy, it seems, is sacrosanct forever.

And yet to be fair, when I have pressed sources within the city's administration about this, they have responded that the various elements within the plan are too interconnected for any of its parts to be ignored, rewritten or interpreted in ways contrary to their intent. Here's hoping they're right.

Despite the boons it promises for the city, the Downtown Neighbourhood Plan is not without costs. And they may be costs that future councils will be unwilling to carry.

Without cheerleaders on council -- and based on their profiles and public statements alone, it’s not always obvious who among the challengers for council are such -- the Downtown Neighbourhood Plan could conceivably wither and die.

More Candidate Profiles: Who Else is Running for Public School Board?

The last few profiles are trickling in. Here are two more candidates for Public School Board....

Subdivision 2
APRIL BOURGEOIS says she's running because she became alarmed to find out her kids were in a school slated for closure and believes the current school board doesn't represent the majority of Reginan's views. Read April's complete profile.
April is running against incumbent Barbara Young and you can read her profile in this post.

Subdivision 4
CHAD BLENKIN says he's running because he believes the school board needs strong leadership to secure our children's future and he has the experience to be a strong candidate for that role. Read Chad's complete profile.
Chad is running against Cindy Anderson and Frederick Rackow. You can read their profiles here.

I anticipate one or two more profiles will come in tonight and tomorrow so be sure to check back for those.

And, if you haven't already, be sure to check out the profiles for the mayoral, city council and Catholic School Board races and the complete list of Public School Board profiles.

31 Days of Horror: Les Diaboliques

Les Diaboliques (1955) has one of the most frightening endings ever shot on film. And the less said about the film, the better for people who haven't seen the movie.

Director Henri-Georges Clouzot was a master of suspense. His 1953 film Le salaire de la peur (The Wages of Fears) is one of the most intense films ever made. It featured a group of men who end up driving some highly unstable explosives to a burning oil rig.

Les Diaboliques is based on the novel Celle qui n'était plus (She Who Was No More) and there was a rumour that Clouzot and Alfred Hitchcock raced to buy the film rights to Les Diaboliques from novelists Pierre Boileau and Thomas Narcejac. Clouzot won and Boileau and Narcejac wrote another novel, D'Entre les Morts (From Among the Dead), especially for Hitchcock who made it into Vertigo (1958).

I really don't want to give too much of the plot away. The film stars Simone Signoret, Véra Clouzot and Paul Meurisse. And I think that's all I want to reveal. There was a very crappy remake made in 1996 that starred Sharon Stone and Isabelle Adjani and was directed by Jeremiah S. Chechik - the man responsible for the really crappy The Avengers movie. This film, unlike the remake, is masterpiece of terror and a must see.

Former Regina Musician Wins Songwriting Award

Best-known to Regina audiences as a founding member of the local alt-rock band Rah Rah, Kyrie Kristmanson has enjoyed continued success as a musician since leaving the city a few years ago to study music and humanities at Carleton University in Ottawa. In 2007, she received the Canadian Folk Music Award for Young Performer of the Year. Today, it was announced that she had won the Colleen Peterson Songwriting Award from the Ontario Arts Council for her song "Song X". (CBC Radio)

The award (which comes with a sweet 1,000 cash prize) goes to an emerging Ontario folk, roots or country singer-songwriter. It's named after the late Juno-winning country roots artist Colleen Peterson who also made her mark along with Sylvia Tyson, Caitlin Hanford and Cindy Church in the group Quartette.

Recently returned to Ottawa after a year spent studying Medieval women troubadours in Lyon France, where she also opened concerts by Feist in Paris and Hawksley Workman in Paris and London, Kristmanson will perform at the National Arts Centre's Fourth Stage in Ottawa on Nov. 3.

So congrats to Kyrie, and best wishes for continued success.

Candidate Profiles: Who's Running for Catholic School Board

To date, we've looked at the Public School Board race, the city council race and the mayoral race. Now, finally, we take a look at the candidates running for Regina's Catholic School Board.

The Catholic board, incidentally, runs on an at-large system as opposed to a ward system, so the seven people who get the most votes out of the nine running will become board members.

After going over the profiles, it turns out that for some strange reason, it's only in the Catholic School Board race that we have candidates who identify themselves as Spocks -- up until now, we've been awfully Kirk and Scotty heavy. Also, the Catholic Board boasts what I consider the best selection of arch enemies, including Father Time, the Borg and Satan. To find out who picked what, read on....

E.J. (JERRY) ADAMS
says he is running for re-election because children represent the future and deserve the best preparation possible. Read Jerry' complete profile.

VICKY BONNELL
says she is running for re-election because she wants to advocate for Catholic education and maintain its distinctiveness. Read Vicky's complete profile.

GERALD KLEISINGER
says he is running because education has been a life-long passion. Read Gerald's complete profile.

JOHN STEVENSON says he is running because he believes in the importance of quality, Catholic education, and that the Catholic school system should not be taken for granted. Read John's complete profile.

RICK TURCHENEK says he is running for re-election because he has the skills and abilities to address the challenges the board will face in the future. Read Rick's complete profile.

BERT YAKICHUK says he is running because he is concerned about the long-term viability of quality Catholic education. Read Bert's complete profile.

We are still hoping to get profiles from Robert Bresciani, Donna Ziegler and Frank Fiacco. When we do, we'll post them.

Six In The Morning

In case anyone's wondering, Saskatoon's just fine. People are happy, they're filling the pubs, they're smashing glasses and making their poor servers cry. All in all it's a regular carnival of parrr-taaay. Also, beware of downtown clothing stores, they may hurt your credit card. Owie.

News:

NO-SMOKING RIDES Province is considering banning smoking in cars with children and smoking on outdoor patios. Hard to argue with the first, but the second? Hmmm. Any of you smokers have opinions on this? (CBC)

PROMOTING THE CITY OR STEALTH CAMPAIGNING? Mayoral contender Jim Elliott criticizes Mayor Pat Fiacco for participating in the Bon Jovi concert announcement. (Leader-Post)

CANADA SHIPS PREGNANT WOMAN TO HER DEATH Here's a horrible story that's a good reminder of why refugee claims need to be taken seriously. Notable quote: "On Tuesday, Parliament's citizenship and immigration committee voted 6-5 to establish an appeal division to hear the cases of failed refugee claimants. All five Conservative MPs voted against it." (Toronto Star)

AMERICA, ALBERTA AND THE TARSANDS The United States is sending mixed messages about Alberta's money-making, civilization-threatening oil sands project. Here's a report from late last week. (Globe and Mail)

ACCUSED MASS-MURDERING SON OF A BITCH BOYCOTTS HIS TRIAL Eat shit and die, Radovan Karadzic. (Guardian)

AFTER REFORM The New York Times' Paul Krugman writes about his country after health care reform becomes law. Good piece! (New York Times)

Candidate Profiles: Who's Running for Public School Board?

So far we've looked at the candidates for the mayor's office as well as the candidates running for council. Today, we're looking at the candidates running to become school trustees. First up, the race for spots on the Regina Public School Board.

If you're wondering who chose what superpower and where your potential trustee likes to eat, the answers are below. Plus, we didn't forget to ask the candidates where they stand on the school board's controversial 10-year renewal plan...

Subdivision 1
TIMOTHY STOBBS is the winner by acclamation in Subdivision 1. He says he ran for school board because his son is in the system and he wants to be involved in it. Read Timothy's complete profile.

Subdivision 2
APRIL BOURGEOIS says she's running because she became alarmed to find out her kids were in a school slated for closure and believes the current school board doesn't represent the majority of Reginan's views. Read April's complete profile.
BARBARA YOUNG says she's running for re-election to school board because she wants to empower teachers and help all students become successful learners. Read Barbara's complete profile.

Subdivision 3
LARRY DAVIS says he's running because he believes the current board has not been entirely forthcoming about the school closure process. Read Larry's complete profile.
SHAUNEEN PETE says she's running because, through her 20 years of involvement in the education system, she has gained an understanding of what the community values in education. Read Shauneen's complete profile.
DALE WEST says he's running for re-election because he wants to continue the good work that has taken place over the last term. Read Dale's complete profile.

Subdivision 4
CINDY ANDERSON says she is running because she believes the current board has lost touch with what parents are telling them about their schools. Read Cindy's complete profile.
CHAD BLENKIN says he's running because he believes the school board needs strong leadership to secure our children's future and he has the experience to be a strong candidate for that role. Read Chad's complete profile.
FREDERICK RACKOW says he is running because he wants to increase resources for all students and teachers in the system Read Fred's complete profile.

Subdivision 5
CARLA BECK is the winner by acclamation in Subdivision 5. She says she ran for school board because she wants to promote the value of small, walkable, neighbourhood schools. Read Carla's complete profile.

Subdivision 6
DEBRA CONLIN says she is running because she wants to be part of making positive choices regarding the future of the public school system. Read Debra's complete profile.
KATHERINE GAGNE says she is running because she wants to give students and teachers the benefit of a strong school system. Read Katherine's complete profile.
DON WREN says he is running because education is the foundation of a person's life and he wants to help provide children with the education they need to fulfill their potential. Read Don Wren's complete profile.

Subdivision 7
ANGELA FRASER is the winner by acclamation in Subdivision 7. She says she ran because she is passionate about education and wants to be part of the decision making that affects the school boards present and future. Read Angela's complete profile.

UPDATE [17/10/09, 10:10am]: I've just added April Bourgeois and Chad Blenkin's profiles to this list.

Pick of the Day: My Evil Twin

If you pick up the Oct. 22 edition of prairie dog you'll find my review of this exhibition in the AfterHours section. It's the final instalment in a three-part series on the theme of the double or doppleganger curated by the MacKenzie Gallery's Timothy Long.

In pop culture, as I note in the review, the evil twin is a narrative staple. Here's video excerpts from two famous examples to show what I mean -- the classic Star Trek episode Mirror, Mirror where Kirk, Scotty, Bones and Uhuru get switched with their counterparts in a parallel universe when an ion storm causes a transporter glitch; and a Hallowe'en-themed episode of South Park called Spooky Fish where the boys face danger when a portal opens into an alternative universe due to a pet store owner's desecration of an old Indian burial ground. (YouTube)

That tradition is alluded to in this show, particularly in the work of Toronto artist Kristan Horton who's created a photo-montage replicating select scenes from Stanley Kubrick's 1964 Cold War satire Dr. Strangelove. But at its core the show, which also includes work by Janieta Eyre (Toronto, and whose work is pictured above), Maria Hupfield (Vancouver) and Julian Rosefeldt (Berlin), affords viewers a fascinating opportunity to explore complex issues like individual identity, the vagaries of human behaviour, cloning and even ethnic stereotyping.

My Evil Twin runs until Jan. 4. Oct. 30, the gallery is hosting a screening of David Cronenberg's twin-themed thriller Dead Ringers. Then on Nov. 5 Robin Poitras and Benoit Lachambre will present a dance performance tied to the exhibition.

10.25.2009

31 Days of Horror: Black Sunday

La maschera del demonio (1960) aka Black Sunday aka Le masque du démon aka La máscara del demonio aka A Maldição do Demônio aka House of Fright aka Revenge of the Vampire aka Mask of the Demon aka The Demon's Mask aka The Mask of Satan was Italian director Mario Bava's first film to gain international acclaim.

It's based very loosely on Russian writer Nikolai Gogol's short story Viy about a witch. That's pretty much where the similarities end. Bava's film starts in 1630 Moldavia, where a beautiful witch Asa Vajda (Barbara Steele) and her cohort (her brother in the Italian version and her lover in the American dubbed version) are burned at the stake for being witches by Vajda's other brother Prince Vajda. She places a curse on Vajda's family before having a mask with spikes hammered into her face.

A couple of centuries pass by and a couple of doctors are on they way through Moldavia and their carriage breaks down near an old cemetery. While waiting for the repairs they explore the cemetery and discover the tomb of Asa Vajda. They open her coffin and remove the metal mask and accidentally bleed into the corpse's face thus resurrecting the evil blood sucking witch.

The descendants of Prince Vajda include the latest in the line of princes - the aptly named Prince Vajda and his daughter Katia Vajda (also played by Steele). The evil vampire witch Barbara Steele wants the good Barbara Steele's blood thus ensuring her immortality. She also resurrects her lover/brother cohort Javuto (Arturo Dominici) to wreck havoc on the country side and assist Steele in her evil work.

Bava was an excellent cinematographer and it shows in this film. While the movie is pretty tame by today's standards, it suffered from several cuts at the time which removed some of the gore. It was also banned in Britain until 1968. Fortunately you can watch it mostly uncut - there is still one scene missing from almost every DVD available except the actual Italian disc. It's not a crucial scene, it shows Steele and her father talking outside briefly, but it does exist.

Pick of the Day: Pats vs Broncos

As I've bitched before in prairie dog, hockey season, which in the junior ranks starts in mid-September, and which in the pro ranks doesn't end until early June, is waaaay too long. Now that we're into late October though, and baseball is winding down, and football (of the CFL variety, anyway) is gearing up for the playoffs, it's not inappropriate to start thinking about hockey.

After enduring an off-season of turmoil, in which they fired coach Dale Derkatch and re-hired former bench boss Curtis Hunt after his dismissal as an assistant coach with the Ottawa Senators, the Pats stumbled badly out of the gate going 1-4 in their first five games and being outscored 20-10. They received short-lived boost when forward Jordan Eberle (pictured) and defencenman Colten Teubert returned from NHL training camps, scoring a bucketful of goals in a handful of wins, but have since regressed and sit dead last in the East Division.

As with innumerable past seasons, the team has failed to play up to expectations, and has sorely lacked the necessary grit and discipline to succeed in the always tough WHL. Destined to lose Eberle and Teubert to the Canadian Junior team in mid-December, and facing lengthy stints on the road in mid-November to accommodate Agribition and late-December when Regina co-hosts the world junior championship with Saskatoon, it's imperative that the team pile up the points now to give it a cushion for the tough stretch to come.

Tonight, the Pats host the Swift Current Broncos at Brandt Centre. I won't be able to attend. But if you do go, and you happen to see a certain high-profile individual in the crowd who hails from Speedy Creek be sure to say Hi from all of us at prairie dog okay?

10.24.2009

31 Days of Horror: The Devil-Doll

The Devil Doll (1936) is one of Tod Browning's (Dracula, Freaks) lesser known movies. It's a twisted little film that at times has to be seen to be believed.

Set in France - Lionel Barrymore is a banker who was wrongly convicted of robbing his own bank and killing a security guard. After seventeen years on Devil's Island - he escapes with a scientist (Henry B. Walthall). Walthall had invented a shrinking ray which he had planned to use to help the world's growing shortage of resources. Barrymore has other plans. Walthall dies and his widow Rafaela Ottiano agrees to help Barrymore with his revenge.

Disguised as an old woman Barrymore opens up a shop that sells dolls. Some of these dolls happen to be people that Barrymore and Ottiano have shrunk that respond to Barrymore's will. And these dolls are sold to Barrymore's enemies - the ones who framed him.

I have always found Browning's movies to be a bit static. They lack the beautiful cinematography of Karl Freund's work or even the unique style of director Rouben Mamoulian (Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde). Other directors of the same era like Lewis Milestone,Michael Curtiz,John Ford and Cecil B. DeMille all seemed to be able to create "motion" pictures while Browning's films all seem to be very set bound. But Browning's off-beat plots make up for it and this film is as off-beat as you can get. There's nothing like some good old fashioned cross-dressing, the miniaturization of people and of course some good old fashioned murder.