I (Blank) Regina

This is my first blog post ever.

I’m the sort of person who quickly tires of the sound of my own voice (or the look of my own typing, as the case may be), so I can make you exactly one promise right off the bat – I won’t over-blog.

Two quick thoughts about blogs:

1.) Are you familiar with the term “sophomore slump”? This is the phenomenon in which an artist pours a lifetime of ideas and experiences into their first major work, and then chokes on the second because they already used up all their good stuff and now have to start from scratch. I could so easily start rambling here, riffing on all my thoughts and feelings and ideas and opinions... and then burn myself out and wonder what to talk about next time. Not gonna do it.

2.) When your editor asks you to contribute to a blog, and you already make part of your living as a freelance writer, isn’t that kind of like asking your buddy the massage therapist for a free foot rub? Well, maybe. But I don’t mean for this forum to replace my regular writing. I’ll just think of it as... sort of an open letter to a friend. Or a bunch of friends, most of whom I haven’t yet met.

My topic, for the first several posts anyway, will be the city I live in: Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada. City Hall has been promoting an “I Love Regina” campaign for a while now (or maybe it’s called “I heart Regina”) which is a nice enough thought, but it’s really not specific enough for me. I want the gory details of what people love about Regina, and I want other people to know what I love about it too. It’s becoming too easy for a city to become homogenized and lose its identity – all the quirks and eccentricities and diamonds (in the rough or otherwise) that make it unique and, ultimately, liveable.

One of my pet peeves is people who wander around saying things like, “This town fuckin’ sucks,” and then don’t do anything about it. So even on a lousy day when I look around the city and don’t much like what I see, I force myself to look harder. I might look for gargoyles on the tops of old buildings downtown, or buy fresh marzipan squares at Oskar’s Deli and think about how no one else on the planet is eating anything quite like that at that particular moment.

And before I start rambling on that topic, I’m going to call it a day. See you next time.

Pick of the Day: Riders Vs. Stampeders

From 1967-71 the Riders and Stampeders met in five consecutive West Conference finals. This was back in the day when the final was a best two-out-of-three affair, and the teams certainly had some memorable battles. In 1967 and 1969, it was the Riders, who featured the legendary tandem of QB Ron Lancaster and RB George Reed, who emerged victorious, while in 1968 and 1970-71 it was the Stamps, who were led by the fearsome LB Wayne Harris and wily QB Jerry Keeling, who advanced to the Grey Cup. Now, after a 38-year hiatus the teams meet again in the 2009 West final.

Last week I caught the West semi-final between Calgary and Edmonton with a couple of long-time Riders fans. When I asked them which team they'd rather face in the final they were unsure. On paper, the Stamps were definitely the superior team. But the game isn't played on paper. And when Esk QB Ricky Ray is on his game, as he often seems to be against the Riders, he can pick defences apart at will.

When Stamp QB Henry Burris is on, he too is a formidable force. But if you get enough heat on him, he can be rattled. Certainly, in the first-place showdown on Nov. 7 the Riders did a fine job of containing him, and although West Conference MVP nominee Joffrey Reynolds racked up some impressive yardage, the Riders still won 30-14. If the defence can rise to the occasion again, and the offence under West all-star QB Darian Durant can move the ball effectively and avoid turnovers, the Riders have an excellent chance of winning. Last year in the West semi-final, the B.C. Lions forced two early turnovers by then Rider QB Michael Bishop that took the crowd out of the game. If that happens here, the Riders could be in trouble. One final factor in the Riders' favour is that lately they've been getting some big plays on special teams. If Jason Armstead manages to break a return or three, it will go a long way to helping the Riders win the field position battle. Kick-off at Mosaic Stadium is 3:30 p.m.

Assuming the Riders win, and you're in the mood for a post-game party (or if they lose and you want to drown your sorrows) The Arkells are playing with the Novaks at the Exchange tonight. Here's the video for "The Ballad of Hugo Chavez" off the former's second album Jackson Square. (YouTube)