1.31.2010

I love this baby you guys

Just in case you're unfamiliar, I'd like to take a moment to introduce you to Kate Beaton and Hark! A Vagrant.



She has a degree in history. She's from Nova Scotia. She also draws historically-flavoured comics, frequently Canadian in content. And she's freaking hilarious beyond mortal comprehension.

Kate Beaton makes me want to stop drawing comics. She's funnier than I could ever hope to be, and her quick, seemingly-effortless drawings depict such specific emotions and gestures (especially the facial expressions!), that I can't help but laugh out loud at each strip.



I once emailed her to tell her what a crush I have on her comics, then regretted it instantly feeling like nothing more than a creepy, weird fan (of which I'm sure she has many). She soon responded with modest words of thanks.

Fact: Kate Beaton is a class act all the way.

In short, read her comics. Love them. Buy Kate's book. Support her.

This is one of those moments that will make you proud to be Canadian.



A Few Words About Antichrist


After seeing this film Friday night at the RPL, it has taken a couple of days for me to gather my thoughts on the film.

I went in forewarned, I already knew that there is some terrible things that happen in the course of the film and what they were. After all it's a Lars von Trier film. All his films are uncomfortable to watch.

But what is the film really about? This is von Trier's horror film so it is horrifying but the point of the film seems elusive.

On the surface it seems to be about He (Willem Dafoe) and She (Charlotte Gainsbourg) as they try to work through the grief of losing their child. The film is told in six parts. A prologue which is shot in black in white with Handel's Rinaldo playing. It's in slow motion as He and She make love while their kid gets up and falls out of an open window. The rest of the film is in colour and features some of the most amazing cinematography I've seen in a while.

Chapter One: Grief deals with She as she is hospitalized after the funeral. She can't seem to deal with the grief. She is kept on drugs on the advice of her doctor but He is a therapist and takes it upon himself to make her better. He does this in a cold and clinical manner. She: "You were always distant." He: "Give me an example." He draws a chart as She moves through her grief and into anxiety. The chart is suppose to be about her fears. The only fear that she can come up with is a fear of the forest. So he decides to take her to their cabin in the woods called Eden.


Chapter Two: Pain (Chaos Reigns) They make it out to Eden. Before they arrive, He makes She describe what it will be like once she arrives. As they walk to the cabin He sees a deer in the forest with a dead baby deer coming out it.

Chapter Three: Despair (Gynocide) Things start getting worse. He discovers that She's thesis was about the persecution of women during the witch trials and that She has come to some disturbing conclusions about nature and human nature. She: "Nature is Satan's church." Many horrible things begin to happen. Some are too horrible to describe.

The final two parts of the film are entitled Chapter Four: The Three Beggars and Epilogue which ends the film the same way as the Prologue.

On top of all the terrible stuff that I had heard about, it also occurred to me that the film seems to be misogynistic. Looking at von Trier's films, all his movies seem to be misogynistic. Breaking the Waves has Emily Watson getting brutally rapped because God likes rape apparently. Dancer in the Dark has Bjork's life just get worse and worse until the horrible ending. (Also von Trier drove Bjork into a breakdown while shooting that film to the point where she swore that she'd never act again.)

Dogville and Manderlay once again treated the women pretty shabby, although von Trier is tough an all his actors.



And yet here is a filmmaker that turned his major film studio into the first film company to produce porn for women.

But despite all the shock and horror of Antichrist, I'm not sure what this film is really saying. She seems to have suffered Münchausen syndrome by proxy and He doesn't seem to be really helping her or really noticing what is truly wrong with her. The film almost deserves a repeated viewing to appreciate all the subtle references but who really wants to subject one's self to such extreme gore? My friend that I went to the film with closed his eyes and looked away at a particular scene but has since complained that he can't get the imagine out of his head and he didn't even see it.

I revisited John Ford's The Searchers just recently and I was watching Martin Scorsese, John Milius and Curtis Hanson discuss the film on the special features. They had mentioned how dark and violent the film was. In one scene John Wayne and Jeffrey Hunter have returned to farm and have discovered it had been attacked by the natives and is burning to the ground. Wayne finds Aunt Martha's bloody dress and looks into a shack - discovering her body. Ford doesn't show anything but Wayne looking into the building and then knocking out Hunter before he can look in. Milius pointed out that whatever happened is left our imaginations and that it's so terrible that even the Duke doesn't want to look.

I've always known that it isn't always necessary to show graphic of violence. But in this case it's seems to over power the film. Whatever point von Trier wants to make is overshadowed by the graphic violence.

It seems that Hollywood is content with being bland. It's nothing but film after film of annoying CGI singing chipmunks and non-offensive action films. On the other side of the equation, there seems to be more and more independent filmmakers who feel that they must shock audiences awake. Michael Winterbottom’s (9 Songs) latest film The Killer Inside is another example of this extreme reaction.

There doesn't seem to be any happy medium anymore, dull action films like Avatar or films like this.

And I still don't know what to make of Antichrist.

Holy Blockbuster Trade, Bettman!

So the Leafs pick up Phaneuf and Giguere, the ducks get Toskala and the Flames get...a new team. Wow. Bizzy bizzy Burkey. Read more in the Calgary Herald and Toronto Star. Personal comment: never been a fan of teams that don't develop their own stars. Probably good trades for everyone, though--teams and players and fans. And Calgary sure needed a shake-up. Then again, what do I care? None of these teams have stolen my hockey heart, which belongs forever to the NHL's most lovable losers.

Fundraiser Set for New Theatre Company

When it comes to live theatre, Regina's scene is generally not regarded to be as strong as the one in Saskatoon. In prairie dog we've written on this issue before. There's no magic formula for creating a vibrant theatre scene in a city. Rather, you need a mix of things. Playwrights, performers, theatre companies, quality venues, savvy promotion, critically engaged media, supportive sponsors and, finally, audiences who hunger for more than just the TV/movie experience.

Feb. 12 at 7 p.m, a fundraiser's being held in the atrium of the T.C. Douglas Building (3475 Albert St.) to raise money to help launch Regina's newest theatre company. Golden Apple Theatre Company is the brainchild of veteran local impressarios Robert Ursan and Andorlie Hillstrom who are the driving force behind Do-It-With-Class Young People's Theatre.

According to the press release, Golden Apple is a professional theatre company dedicated to delivering cutting edge Canadian and international musical theatre and drama to Regina audiences. Plans currently call for the company to launch its inaugural season in the fall. In addition to hors d'oeuvres and desserts, the fundraiser will feature a performance by former Reginan Kyle Golemba (pictured) of his well-received cabaret of Canadian musical theatre Making Love in a Canoe. Accompanying Golemba on piano will be Robert Ursan.
Tix are $35, or $250 for a table of eight, and are available at Bach & Beyond in the Golden Mile Mall and at the door.

Pick of the Day: Get It Legal Tour

We've written on marijuana reform before, although usually somewhat tepidly. Cause, you know, DRUGS are a big concern in our society. And even though probably three-quarters (or more) of Canadians have smoked pot in their lives (and many likely continue to do so), it's not something you can easily discuss in public. It's against the law, after all. People can get arrested, fined, jailed, and even (horror of horrors) barred from entering the U.S., simply for possessing it.

Before Harpo prorogued Parliament I believe there was legislation in the works to decriminalize possession of small amounts of weed. At first glance, that sounds like a progressive measure. But the amount was extremely small -- maybe enough for three or four doobies. If you were caught with more than that, you'd still face criminal sanction. And if you were caught growing it, the new legislation, if I recall correctly, carried significantly more severe penalties than those currently in place.

Yeah, that's a real breakthrough.

Which brings us tonight. Cheech & Chong, the notorious comic duo who virtually invented stoner culture, are at Conexus Arts Centre as part of their cross country Get It Legal Tour. Not "Get It Decriminalized". Get it Legalized. It's marijuana for Christsakes.

I remember seeing the Tragically Hip's Another Roadside Attraction in Vancouver in '97. It was the one with Sheryl Crow, Wilco, Ashley McIsaac and Los Lobos. It was held at Thunderbird Stadium on the UBC campus on an absolutely gorgeous July day. Unlike other stops on the tour, like the cow pasture beside what was then known as SaskPlace on the outskirts of Saskatoon, there was no beer garden at this concert.

Which was just as well, as there were over 30,000 people in attendance. There did, however, appear to be a relatively liberal attitude toward smoking pot. Which was no biggie for me. Because I'll take 30,000 stoned people over 30,000 drunk people any day.

It doesn't do the movie's cultural impact justice, but here's the trailer for Cheech & Chong's 1978 comedy Up in Smoke. (YouTube) And if you're checking these guys out tonight, have a hit for me.

1.30.2010

And ... Action!

I'm not vouching for the authenticity of this video clip showing outtakes from a recent Public Service Announcement that former presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush did to appeal to Americans for aid for earthquake-ravaged Haiti, but it doesn't seem out of character. (Break)

The real brave ones

In an earlier post, I congratulated Rob Norris (Government of Saskatchewan) for being willing to bring down the million-pound $hithammer onto First Nations University of Canada's administration and board of governors, who are operating in the netherworld between malevolence and delusion (Leader-Post).

But however Norris looks in this -- and I say he looks pretty good -- it's nothing compared to the bravery the student council at FNUC's Regina campus have exhibited (their facebook page). When some students protested the university takeover in Saskatoon in the summer of 2005, they were told in NO UNCERTAIN TERMS by FSIN staff that if they continued to speak out against the FSIN takeover, there would be repercussions -- their parents or siblings could lose their jobs at the band, band-run schools or band-run businesses, they could lose their housing or welfare, that sort of thing.

By speaking out against the maze of stupidity and bull$shit erected by the FSIN chiefs in order to justify attaching FNUC to their patronage train, the students are putting their careers on the line. They are challenging the power the chiefs have. Pray to God that they win: the chiefs have made a hash of things so badly, and they cannot be relied on to make the changes that FNUC needs in order to survive.

Jack Layton Steers West: The Complete Interview

In the latest issue, we interviewed Jack Layton about the NDP's prospects in an upcoming election and what it's like to have to work across the aisle from one of Canada's least loved PMs.

Our discussion went quite long so we had to trim a lot to get it to fit into the paper. Here are some highlights from the stuff that was left on the cutting-room floor....

"I remember going to Paul Martin when he was in government and I first met with him and said, 'Hey, we can work together. You haven’t got a majority, we’re perfectly happy to work together on some collaborative issues.' We never heard back from them. We kept trying to get proposals through. We weren’t getting a darn thing. And it was coming back from the Tsunami, when we got over to see that disaster, I said, 'You know, how come you haven’t worked with us, it’s been nine months.' He said to me, 'You’re two votes short.'"

"[We're] laying out an alternative vision for how we start coming out of this recession having learned something, which is that the deregulation, the unleashing of unrestrained greed as the modus operandi of the entire economic system didn’t work and we don’t want to go back to that. Let’s start thinking about some of the things we need to do, and can do, and should do together, through the institutions that we have in common. Namely, the government institutions. And it’s fantastic to see this grass roots response to the shutting down of parliament because people are essentially saying when they’re responding in that way, 'We believe in our government, our government institutions, our democratic institutions. And we don’t like when you disrespect them.'"

"I’d invite you to talk to Dick Proctor at some point about his theories about the federal NDP in Saskatchewan because his theory is essentially that when we’re in government, particularly the longer we’re in government in Saskatchewan, the more of a challenge it is for us to elect federal MPs. It’s a bit of a voting behaviour that the poli-sci profs have been talking about for years that people will offset one party at one level with another at another level. You vote one way at the provincial level, then another at the federal."

"We’re on the have-province side. But what we’re seeing is a lot of people in Saskatchewan being left behind in the boom. Therefore, this is a time for the kind of social interventions to make sure that everybody gets to have some share of what’s going on with the economy. And that’s what the NDP speaks to and works for."

And, like a DVD bonus feature to accompany the latest issue, here's the complete and (mostly) unedited transcript of our discussion with Jack Layton.

Deadline Extended

I've been informed by organizers of the 2010 Regina Fringe Festival that the deadline for entries has been extended until February 20. If you're interested in presenting work at the festival, check out this link to a post I did on the festival earlier this month. (DogBlob)

Saturday Morning Cartoon

Editor Steve's been worrying about werewolves lately and the moon is full so today's cartoon is a werewolf cartoon called Fangface.

It aired in 1978 on ABC and was produced by Ruby-Spears Productions who also made such cartoons as The Plastic Man Comedy/Adventure Show, Dink, the Little Dinosaur, Thundarr the Barbarian, Goldie Gold and Action Jack, Mr. T, Rubik the Amazing Cube, Turbo Teen, the 1983 version of Alvin and the Chipmunks, The Centurions, the 1988 Superman series, and the American Mega Man series.

The plot was another Scooby Doo rip-off where a group of teens drive around and solve mysteries. Of course one of the group turns into a werewolf when ever he sees a full moon - be it the real moon or just a picture of the moon.

It was later combined with The Plastic Man Comedy/Adventure Show and a baby werewolf named Fangpuss was added to the cast for no real reason.

Pick of the Day: Anti-Christ

I didn't see The Exorcist in the theatre when it came out in 1973 (I was too young), but I remember reading media reports that talked about people throwing up in the aisles because of all the graphic violence and devilish horror. As Jorge notes in his Jan. 28 prairie dog review of this Lars von Trier-directed movie in which Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg star as a couple coping with the tragic accidental death of their young daughter, this movie (which plays at the RPL tonight at 7 p.m. and Sunday at 9 p.m.) is pretty damn graphic too.

"Torture-porn" is how some critics have described it. So be forewarned. This is not an easy movie to watch. But it is a movie. It's not real life. Like what's going on in Afghanistan. Or Haiti. Or Iran. Or countless other places around the world where heartbreak and misery are infinitely more common than happiness and contentment.

Here's the trailer. (YouTube)

If you don't think your stomach's up to it, earlier in the day there's the second annual Pet Expo at Conexus Arts Centre where all sorts of products and services geared toward our furry, and even not so furry, friends will be on display. Also, this evening at the Italian Club, there's Taste of Cathedral -- an annual fundraiser featuring food and music to help support the Cathedral Village Arts Festival, which will be held this year May 17-23.

1.29.2010

J.D. Salinger 1919-2010

Deux Ex Malcontent says it better than I could. (Deux Ex Malcontent)

Six Before Bartime

1 SUPREME COURT ON KHADR CASE: TRY IT AGAIN AND GET IT RIGHT THIS TIME, YOU IDIOTS Canada's Supreme Court says it won't force Stephen Harper's government to repatriate Canadian citizen and former child soldier Omar Khadr, who's been in a U.S. gulag for seven years now. At least, they won't order the government to bring him home YET. The ruling is essentially "have another look at this, douchebags, and get it right this time." Not as good as ordering our "thinks it's above the law" government to bring him home now but not a bad ruling. (Globe And Mail)

2 HARPER APPOINTS FIVE TO SENATE, WILL PUSH TOUGH ON CRIME AGENDA Read more here. (CBC). Funny thing about the tough on crime agenda--the Tories cancelled the national daycare program which undoubtedly would've given Canadian kids a stronger foundation to be successful adults. But that's the tory way, right? Hang the kids out to dry and if they get in trouble later lock 'em up. Just calling it like it is.

3 WAR CRIMINAL TESTIFIES Tony Blair led Britain into an illegal war on false pretences; today he testified before the country's fifth inquiry into the Iraq war. Sounds like he was a dick, as usual. You can't legally invade a country just because you don't like the dictaor running it. (Guardian)

4 GUILTY IN 37 MINUTES The piece of fascist crap who killed abortion doctor George Tiller is guilty, guilty, guilty.Where's the bible passage that says you can shoot doctors again? Or was that in the Dead Sea Scrolls?

5 NEW MORNING AFTER PILL WORKS FOR MORE MORNINGS AFTER Yup, true. But what would Jesus think about this one? The Bible is so vague on modern pharmacology. It's almost like it's completely useless scientifically. Plus, doesn't Jesus have a conflict of interest about unplanned pregnancies? (Yahoo)

6 BEWARE THE BEAST THAT WALKS LIKE A MAN and I thought we had a bright moon last night. Apparently, it gets worse. Anyone wanna loan me a gun and a handful of silver bullets?(Yahoo)

Theatre Review

I'm tempted to joke that this play's title is actually longer than the play itself. That's not necessarily a bad thing. "Brevity is the soul of wit" is how Shakespeare put it in Hamlet. But, in truth, The Unforeseen Journey of Nathaniel Dunbar and Other Tales of Whimsical Sadness (which plays at the Globe Theatre as part of its Sandbox Series until Feb. 6) is a little slight. The creation of local jazz musicians Melanie Hankewich and Jeremy Sauer (pictured, who have performed for years in the city as the Continos), the work blends film and music to tell a tale of courtship between the title character and a woman named Eleanor.

Helping set the stage for this ethereal musical is Jayden Pfeiffer who, in the guise of an early 20th century vaudeville impressario in a silent short, provides the wittiest introduction I've ever seen at the Globe to welcome the audience, thank sponsors and funders, and remind everyone to make sure they shut their bloody cell phones off.

Joined by Elizabeth Curry on bass and Jody Mario on drums, Hankewich and Sauer, who perform at various times on ukelele and piano/accordian respectively, present a string of romance-tinged jazz ballads, interspersed with silent film shorts, to advance the narrative. Through the shorts, we're introduced to Nathaniel Dunbar (played by Devon Floyd). Infatuated with a lass named Eleanor (played by Judy Wensel, and whom sharp-eyed Reginans will recognize lives at the Williamson on Lorne and 15th Ave), he sets off to court her.
On the way, he stops off to buy a balloon bouquet. When he reaches Eleanor's door, he rings the bell, but before she can answer he's swept away by a sudden gust of wind. Yeah, I thought instantly of Up too. Which was unfortunate, as the allusion to the popular Pixar animated feature was almost certainly unintended.
I don't want to reveal any more of what, as I've already noted, is a somewhat skimpy plot. But I will add that the musical was enhanced by a couple of neat segments involving interplay between the performers and film, and an extension of the film action out into the audience.

Overall, Nathan Dunbar is an interesting experiment in musical theatre. It didn't quite reach it's full potential, I don't think. But it was a worthwhile effort. So check it out if you get the chance, and find out if Nathan and Eleanor find true love, or if fate, and other vagaries of life, intervene to thwart their happiness.

Friday Afternoon Kitty: BABIES!!!

Brought to you by prairie dog, your lactation station.


AW!



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Sigh.

New Dog!

The January 28 prairie dog is out and looking fiiiiine. In this issue: interviews with Jack Layton (politician!), Wendel Clark (hockey god!), Attack In Black (musicians!) and the Continos (local theatre heroes!). Plus there's film and CD reviews, News Quirks, a recap of the anti-pro-rogue rally, the ever-popular Street Wear column, A Gywnne Dyer story that'll make you want to grab a polar bear and drown yourself, and assorted merry odds, ends and delights sprinkled throughout. It's a good little mag, this prairie dog--locally-owned, honest, kinda charming in a clumsy, nerdy way. You should pick up a copy. It's free at 400 locations city-wide, give or take a Saskatchewan Party government-run casino, bus depot or SLB outlet (or seven).

Endgame For FNUC

Yesterday Rob Norris announced that the Saskatchewan government would suspend FNUC'S funding if there wasn't changes made right now, if not sooner, to FNUC's board of governors and management structure (CBC Saskatchewan). FNUC's board of governors pretty much told them to get lost at the Jan. 27 board meeting. (Leader-Post)

Now, the federal government will go along with whatever Rob Norris proposes to do about FNUC, including withholding up to $12 million in total from the two governments (globeandmail.com). Here's something nobody on any side of the Saskatchewan political spectrum would every imagine hearing from a prairie dog reporter: Rob Norris is doing the right thing. It's going to take gonads of titanium to battle the FSIN, but he's willing to do it.

Pick of the Day: Billy the Kid

I don't know how much overlap there is between this blog and the print version of prairie dog with readers. But I did a preview of this gig for our Jan. 28 issue which hit the streets yesterday. It was kind of a last-minute rush job after some promised copy on another band didn't arrive in time so I didn't have a chance to line-up an interview with Billy the Kid (pictured).

I pulled some bio-stuff off the web that said the Vancouver-based artist was born Kristen Amber Pettinger (she celebrates her birthday Feb. 1, as a matter of fact) and that she'd had a troubled childhood with time spent as a runaway and in foster care.

If I'd spoken with her, I almost assuredly would've asked her at some point to talk about her stage name. Was it something someone hung on her, or did she adopt it on her own, and in either case what was the intent behind it.

Outlaw is the most obvious connotation. Or at the very least a scrappy survivor with a flare for the dramatic. Maybe even a bit of a folk hero. Anyway, that opportunity never arose.

In the last week, Billy the Kid has played Edmonton, Swift Current, Lethbridge, Saskatoon, Winnipeg and now Regina. That's a fair bit of driving, in pretty brutal weather. Touring in support of her 2008 solo CD The Lost Cause, she's plays O'Hanlon's Pub tonight on a bill with the local instrumental trio the Lazy MKs.

Other gigs tonight include Geoff Berner and Rae Spoon at the Club, Thornley at the Drink Nightclub, and in a real blast from the past, Kick-Axe and Queen City Kids are rocking Casino Regina.

Here's the video for Billy the Kid's 2009 song "These City Lights" (YouTube)

1.28.2010

Awooooooooooo

Uh-oh. And I have to walk home tonight...





More Yes Men Shenanigans

They did an effective bit of culture jamming during the Copenhagen Climate Summit in December (DogBlog), now they're undercutting a World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland by suggesting that poverty should be the focus instead of over-regulation of the financial sector. (YesMen)

Six In The Morning

1 OH PLEASE OH PLEASE LET IT BE TRUE Polsters at EKOS say Canadian voters want to toss out the Tories. (Globe and Mail)

2 IRANIAN GOVERNMENT MURDERS A COUPLE MORE PROTESTERS Assholes. (New York Times)

3 HEALTH NEGOTIATIONS HIT IMPASSE Saskatchewan's health unions say a 9.5 per cent raise over five years is not enough. They says it's below market value and won't solve problems like recruitment and retention of specialized workers like medical radiation technologists. And they say the government's take-it-or-leave-it negotiating from behind the new essential services legislation is ridiculous. (Leader-Post)

4 SOTU! I didn't watch U.S. President Barack Obama's state of the union address last night because what could he possibly say about his broken, doomed, ruined, depressing country that would cheer me up? Well, there were at least a couple of interesting moments, apparently. Obama slammed a recent, terrible U.S. Supreme Court decision to let anyone spend as much money on political campaigning as they want, and one of George W. Bush's right-wing dipshit "activist" (ha! take that!) judge appointees was filmed mouthing "not true". (Washington Post)Sorry dude, it is true, you're stupid and you helped hand your country's democracy to those with the most money even more than it already was.

Obama also promised to have Don't Ask, Don't Tell repealed this year. DADT is the U.S military's stupid policy that demands gays get kicked out if they don't keep their sexuality a secret. Now, Obama could and SHOULD just suspend enforcement of DADT immediately--in fact he should've the week he took office--but this promise isn't a bad one. But he's up against some uptight opposition--check out these photos of the unhappy joint chiefs of staff: they clap for war, they sit for gays. Assholes. (Joemygod)

5 HA HA, SASKATOON SUCKS Regina will plow suburban streets, Saskatoon won't. Eat that, Bridge City! (CBC)

6 A RAINBOW OF DINOSAURS Was on the Guardian's site reading up on Apple's new iPad last night looking for something to link to in this morning's post. Well, instead, I stumbled across this story on the Guardian's science pages and it's more interesting than Steve Job's portable web-thing: Science (which is great!) has apparently been able to figure out the colour scheme of a dinosaur by studying fossilized pigments under a microscope. Sinosauropteryx was brown and had a "a raccoon-like tail marked with alternating russet and white stripes."

Also on the Guardian: why aliens are having trouble hearing us.

Science is supercool. Way more interesting than musty old fairy tales about how Noah couldn't fit the brontosaurs* on his ark.

*Yes, yes. Apaptosaurus. I know.

Pick of the Day: Motley Crue

Inspired, in part, by Emily Zimmerman's tremendous cover story in our Jan. 14 issue on the relative merits of Guns 'n Roses, who played Brandt Centre Jan. 20, and Motley Crue (pictured), who take the stage there tonight, my pick-of-the-day post on G 'n R (Dog Blog) turned into a rant on how shitty the decade that spawned both bands (the '80s) had been.

If you check the link, you'll see the post drew a response from a reader named Dewdney who took issue with me dissing the decade and insisting that, unlike me, he wasn't "appaled [sic] and offended" by the '80s. Fair enough. Everyone's take on the decade is obviously different. In the early '80s, I got a law degree at the U of S. Then I more or less did a 180 and started working toward becoming whatever it is that I am today (as a writer, critic and man, I mean). I don't regret the direction my life took. But the transition happened in the '80s, and it wasn't easy.
As societal participants, artists, through their work, can both subvert and reinforce dominant socio-political values and beliefs.
In the early '80s, for instance, punk defiantly worked in opposition to the stridently conservative and reactionary Thatcher/Reagan revolution. You could argue, I suppose, that through their hedonistic L.A. lifestyles bands like Motley Crue, Guns 'n Roses, Slayer, Skid Row and Poison subverted conservative Republican values. But though their boorish off-stage antics and fanatical allegiance to poseur cock-rock they also embodied them.

In her article Emily, at one point, writes that Motely Crue were "so impossibly straight that they could run around in makeup and heels and look even more masculine for it." But as far as looks go, it's pretty high maintenance, isn't it? And while I guess I can understand why a not insignificant portion of women would find a man (or men) like that attractive, it's not anything I'd ever aspire to emulate.

For what it's worth, the Leader-Post's Christopher Tessmer gave the G 'n R show a pretty glowing review. In his missive to me, Dewdney said he'd rather see the Crue. As Emily noted (and Dewdney conceded), the Crue are touring primarly as a nostalgia act now. And while the current incarnation of G 'n R is mostly an Axyl Rose solo project, with him being the only original member, he apparently has access to the entire G 'n R catalogue, has a crack band behind him, and he recently put out some new music that, while 15 years in the making, was positively received. Hence, my preference for G 'n R over Motley Crue.

I won't be there to see them when they do it tonight, but here's grainy video from a 2008 concert of the Crue doing "Kickstart My Heart" (YouTube)

And for those looking for something a little more sedate, Do-It-With-Class Young People's Theatre opens a two-night run of Wind in the Willows at Conexus Arts Centre at 7:30 p.m. It's a Broadway musical based on Kenneth Grahame's 1908 rural English children's story about the exploits of Mole, Rat, Toad and other woodland animals. Here's a link to a scene from an '80s era British stop-animation Wind in the Willows TV series . (YouTube)

Also worth checking out is the Coffeehouse Controversy tonight at Chapters at 7:30 p.m. Speaking is Journalism professor Gennadiy Chernov on Commercial Speech on Television: Stealth Advertising in Local Television News. And Attack in Black is at the Exchange with Lonesome Weekends in support. Finally, Alexis Normand is performing at the Club.

1.27.2010

Hugs for Haiti

If there's a country in the world that needs a big hug right now it's Haiti. It's not really practical to hug a country, of course. But Friday the University of Regina Education Students' Society will do the next best thing. From 9 a.m.-noon they'll be at Riddell Centre on the university campus dispensing hugs and collecting donations. Then from 1-3 p.m., students will be doing the same thing downtown at the Cornwall Centre's main floor kiosk. Other student societies on campus are engaged in fundraising projects of their own, and at the beginning of February the money will be pooled and donated to earthquake relief in Haiti.

Last Call for Submissions

Saskatchewan musicians and filmmakers are reminded that Sunday, Jan. 31 is the final day for them to submit their music or film to organizers of the NXNE Festival which this year will run from June 16-20 in Toronto. This is a big-ass festival with concert showcases, conferences featuring music industry heavyweights, and a music-themed film festival with concert flics and indie docs from around the world. Over the years, NXNE has helped boost the careers of artists such as Feist (pictured), Billy Talent, k-os and Sufjan Stevens. For more details on how to apply, check out www.nxne.com

SCES gets new website



The Saskatchewan Cultural Exchange Society has a new, shiny website.

It's an immediate improvement over the old site. It links to all their social media pages, there's the space to include bios and information on bands, and it just looks really nice. (For the record, Saskatchewan company Squareflo designed it.)

The site also reflects some changes in the past year at the Exchange, most importantly the creation of the 8-Track Gallery.

It would be wonderful if they could consistently post links to the bands' websites and post events more advance. Keep the ball rolling, SCES.

Tech Talk

Will Apple's new Tablet which is scheduled to be unveiled later today in San Francisco by Steve Jobs meet with a better reception than this Sony product did last year, I wonder? (Onion News Network)

No D&D for Prisoners

An inmate of Wisconsin's Waupun prison has lost his legal battle to play Dungeons and Dragons behind bars.

Apparently, the ban against the world's nerdiest pastime was imposed because prison officials were concerned that the game promotes gang-related activity and could be a threat to security.

Okay. A few things....

Back in my day, the worry was that D&D promoted Satanism. Glad to see that we've moved on and that had nothing to do with this ruling.

But "gang-related activity"? First of all, the game doesn't promote gangs, they're called "adventuring parties." Way to make yourself look stupid, Waupun prison officials.

Frankly, I think the only gang-related activity they should be worried about are all the pantsings being doled out to D&D boy by prison gangs.

Second, shouldn't the prison officials be happy to see their inmates playing D&D? Isn't that better than them doing drugs? Or making shivs in the metal shop? Afterall, a ruling like this is just going to drive the trade in D&D paraphernalia underground. And, how many cigarettes does a d20 go for these days, anyway?

One argument advanced in defense of the ruling is that part of the justice system is punishment and taking away a prisoner's access to a preferred hobby is part of that punishment. But you know, if you don't let prisoners have any hobbies and expect them to do nothing but stare at the walls in penitence, you really haven't thought through this whole "imprisoning people for life" concept. Take away everything that helps these guys pass the time and, you know, keeps the human and you're just asking for riots.

UPDATE JAN 28: Damn. Damn. Damn. I just today realized what the title for this post should have been: "Prisoner Fails Save Versus The Man"

Canadian Cynic is on to something

The gang at that blog (Canadian Cynic) is demanding that Conservative politicians, who said that they were so busy with work that Parliament had to be prorogued, account for their time off work. Well, one of them -- Randy Hoback (Prince Albert) -- should provide a report to his constituents and the House of Commons about the price of suntan oil in California during his vacation (Prince Albert Daily Herald). Lazy idiot.

Canada's Health Care System Doesn't Suck

First off, I'm not dying. I'm not even sick. Just having a bit of back trouble. Nothing serious.

But, I did have to have an MRI. As a precaution. Now, considering how often I've heard in the media how crazy long the MRI waiting lists are and considering how on talk radio, the MRI backlog is one of their many canards used to justify further health care privatization, when I was told I was being signed up for one, I figured, well, it'll be months before I have to worry about that. Up to a year, I figured I'd be waiting around.

So, how long did I have to wait to get an MRI?

Three weeks.

That's it. Three weeks. And it's not like they were calling me in on short notice to fill a cancellation. They phoned me a week in advance to schedule my appointment.

And you know, when the doctor was filling out my paperwork, there's a triage rating from one to five that he had to circle. And I was put at the lowest priority for an MRI. So, when the MRI people were surveying their list to decide who gets to go next, I was one of the last people they picked.

And still I got in in three weeks. I'm sure if I had something really worrisome they could have had me in even sooner.

Hats off to the folk in the General Hospital MRI clinic.

You know, I hear a lot about how broken our public health care system is. And I can't deny that I've had a few frustrating encounters with it. But most of the time I've nothing to complain about. Just wanted to get that off my chest.

Pick of the Day: Shumiatcher Sandbox Series

I'm cheating again. But this urge I have to do a post tomorrow on Motley Crue is one I simply can't deny. So today's pick is for a show that opens Thursday at 7:30 p.m. at the Globe Theatre as part of the 2009-10 Sandbox Series.

If you pick up a copy of the Jan. 28 issue of prairie dog (due to hit the streets tomorrow around noon) you'll find a preview by Carle Steel. I don't want to steal her thunder by lifting stuff from the article to give to you now, so I'm just going to offer up some bare-bones info. Created by Melanie Hankewich and Jeremy Sauer (pictured above), the work is titled The Unforeseen Journey of Nathaniel Dunbar & Other Tales of Whimsical Sadness.

For ten years now, Sauer and Hankewich have been performing together in the local jazz group The Continos. With this project, they've created a musical narrative that, according to the press release, relates through songs and vintage photos the story of one man and his philosophical exploration of mortality and infinity.

I'll be checking out Thursday's opening night performance, so look for a Dog Blog review on Friday. Run dates for Nathaniel Dunbar are Jan. 28-30 and Feb. 3-6.

1.26.2010

Mortifying, Indeed

I'm all for discipline and self-sacrifice, but self-flagellation as a means of doing pennance for sins and mis-deeds seems a little extreme to me. Unless the God that this undoubtedly pious man believed in and worshipped has got a bit of sadist in Him. (CBC)

Hot off the presses

It's been a bad year for newspapers in general across the United States, but the power of the printed word still has a lot of power. In New Orleans, that city's daily newspaper sold every copy on Monday, (nola.com) thanks to a football game that, in NOLA, meant more (Sports Illustrated) than just a football game (nola.com).

My head says bet on the Colts one week from Sunday: my heart's with the Saints.

Students At The First Nations University Of Canada Are Maaad

And they should be. (Leader-Post)

There's a reason prairie dog's been railing against the problems at First Nations University for years. Yeah, sometimes we've written in a tone that's a little, erm, disrespectful (says the dude who coined "FNUC'D"). But that's our schtick and people like it.

The larger point is: this college is so important to First Nations people in Saskatchewan and Canada. It's something that ought to be a source of pride. But when it's run by dorks who appear to regard it as their own expense account and ticket to undeserved personal prestige it harms everybody. It hurts the quality of the education students can receive because a lot of great professors won't take a job at a school the Canadian Association of University Teachers has under censure--and with all the bad news coming out of FNUniv, what prof would touch it with a 10-foot pole? It hurts the good staff who work there now, who must wonder if their jobs at FNUniv are a blight on their resumes. It hurts the FSIN's reputation--this is a school that used to have strong international connections until it fired the people who built relationships with aboriginal communities in other countries.

It even hurts the dorks themselves, who risk building for themselves a legacy of shame. How will they be thought of in 10 years? Do they want to be despised and pitied? Do they want to be remembered as the failed leaders who destroyed a great school?

Worst of all, the crap at FNUniv emboldens racist asshats who think this proves First Nations people can't govern themselves.

I said it yesterday and I'll say it today: if the school doesn't have a structure in place by the end of the current term, it needs its funding frozen and the fall 2010 session cancelled. Implementing all the recommendations of the All Chief's Task Force is a good place to start. Suspending Charles Pratt and Al Ducharme is essential, too.

But I fear we've reached the point where a year with the lights off is probably the wake-up call that's needed.

Too many people have been fired, quit, banged their heads against the wall here. Like a badly-healed wound, FNUniv might need to be broken and reset.

At least the bones are strong.

Sorry FNUniv. Prairie dog is rooting for you.

Six in the Morning

1. GLACIERS MELT AT HISTORIC RATES: An IPCC scientist may have exaggerated the rate at which the the Himalayan glacier is melting, but that's only one glacier. Seems all the rest of them are shrinking much too quickly. (Guardian)

2. IRAQ WAR ILLEGAL: The UK's top government lawyer says the war against Iraq was illegal. Well, duh. Next thing, they'll be telling us it was started over oil. (Guardian)

3. NO VEILS IN FRANCE: A French parliamentary report is calling for a ban on veils in public spaces. (Globe and Mail)

4. MMMMMM! PETA PIE: You know, it's been a long while since I've heard about a good pie-ing. Not sure if the fisheries minister would be my first choice to get a pastry face blast. But hey, a Conservative with pie in the face! Works for me. (Globe and Mail)

5. BAD IDEAS OF THE DAY: Last week, I heard they were planning to remake Mannequin. Now, word on the street is Weekend At Bernie's is about to get the reboot treatment. WHY, GOD? WHY? (Moviehole)

6. GIN + EARL GREY? REALLY? Blending tea and gin? Madness? Or mad genius? (Guardian)

Pick of the Day: James Gordon

So, I'm going to cheat a bit. My pick-of-the-day isn't actually happening today. But I need to clear some room for an uber-awesome Motley Crue post I have planned for Thursday so I'm going to do it up now. Wednesday at 8 p.m. at the Club, Grassroots Regina is presenting Canadian singer/song-writer James Gordon ($10 at the door).

A 30-year veteran on the music scene, Gordon helped found the legendary folk trio Tamarack. During this solo tour, Gordon will be promoting his most recent album My Stars, Your Eyes. A multi-instrumentalist (guitar, piano, banjo, penny whistle), Gordon's repertoire of songs explore a range of issues related to Canadian history, identity, social justice and the environment.

Here's a 2009 video for his song called "How". (YouTube)

1.25.2010

Political Football

Focus on the Family's plan to air an "It's a Wonderful Life" style commercial starring Florida Gator QB Tim Tebow and his mother Pam, both evangelical Christians, during the Feb. 7 Superbowl (at a cost of over $2.5 million for a 30 second spot) has women's groups and other civil rights advocates concerned. (CBC)

Whaaat? Some People In The Green Party Want Elizabeth May Gone?

Really? Are you serious? Seriously serious? (Leader-Post)

May delivered what, 10 per cent of the Canadian vote last election? Ditch her and the party's dead. Stupid, stupid, eco-creatures!

UPDATE: Here are some actual, real numbers. The Green party received 6.8 per cent of the popular vote in the fall 2008 election. Almost seven out of every 100 Canadian voters cast a ballot for the Greens. And the party has seen its support increase since then--according to a Jan. 14 EKOS poll they had the support of 11.9 per cent of voters (CBC). This party would have members in the house of commons if it wasn't for Canada's rigged electoral system.

Fix First Nations University Now

So here's the deal: the auditor who "left" the university last fall (and is suing for wrongful dismissal, which is not what one normally does when they leave a position voluntarily), penned an alarm-filled report--that was leaked to media last week--saying the university improperly paid out thousands of dollars to administrators.

Now the provincial education minister has called an emergency meeting with the University of Regina--which grants FNUniv degrees--to discuss the situation.

My take? Ultimatum time. Norris, the University of Regina and the federal government, all need to demand 1.) the recommendations of the All Chiefs Report on the Future of First Nations university--a report co-chaired by Del Anaquod and Harry Lafond and presented to the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations in 2005--be fully implemented by, oh let's say May 1, or provincial funding should be frozen for the fall. And 2.) The current top administrators need to go.

And maybe it's time for the Association of Universities And Colleges of Canada put FNUniv on probation again. (The university was on probation but the AUCC went soft and lifted it. Ironically, FNUniv fired its academic vice-president, Shauneen Pete, shortly after the probation, which most mostly in response to political interference in University affairs--was lifted. Which in term was probably karma for a report Pete wrote in 2004 saying the AUCC should butt-out of First Nations University affairs. (Yes, this has been a long, winding and complicated story.))

Saskatchewan's First Nations students deserve a first-rate school. They do NOT deserve this mismanaged fiasco. Time to fix it.

And now, your moment of Zen ...

Courtesy prairie dog/Planet S magazine, 29 July 2005 ...

If one of the stated reasons for firing Wes Stevenson was that he had too much control over spending at the university, which led to corruption, then why would the board (FNUC board of governors) provide even more spending powers to the next guy who comes in?

Still waiting (CBC Sask) for the answer (L-P) ...

Snowy Six For The Afternoon














1 WE CAN HAZ SNOW? Yes we can. Too much snow actually. Oh noes! (infantile language courtesy the pernicious LOLcats meme, and yes, I haz been infected, and no, dere iz no cure.) (CBC)

2 ANTI-ROGUE Lots and lots of Canadians protested against Prime Minister Stephen Harper's pestilent prorogue this weekend. This story estimates Regina's rally had 200 people; I'd guess 250-300 but I'm no expert on crowd counts. (There's between 40-50 faces in that picture so, if that's a quarter of the crowd, which it could be, then yes it'd be about 200 people. I suppose.) (CBC

3 PROROGUE PRECEDENT HAS BEEN SET Political journalist Chantal Hébert reviews the Prime Minister's three prorogues and writes about what they mean for the future. (Toronto Star)

4 500,000 UNEMPLOYED CANADIANS RUNNING OUT OF TIME Employment Insurance benefits are set to expire for half a million Canadians but the job market hasn't recovered. This could be discussed in the House Of Commons and maybe urgent action could be taken but, oh yeah, Stephen Harper prorogued government. (Canadian Press/Winnipeg Free Press)

5 CONSERVATIVE GOVERNMENT ACCUSED OF PUNISHING WHISTLE-BLOWER Richard Colvin, the diplomat who says Ottawa ignored his warnings that Canadian-captured prisoners would be tortured by Afghanistan security, says he's been punished for speaking out. The Afghanistan detainee scandal is believed to be the main reason the Conservatives prorogued government earlier this this month. (Globe And Mail)

6 MORE TROUBLE AT FIRST NATIONS UNIVERSITY Saskatchewan's education minister wants to meet with University of Regina officials to talk about the First Nations University of Canada, which supposedly paid out thousands to administrators inappropriately. Check out the L-P story here. More on Dog Blog this afternoon, and of course in Thursday's prairie dog. (Leader-Post)

It's a Snow Day!

The city is buried under a blanket of thick, white snow. You'll be better off getting around on skis than trying to drive anywhere. According to the CBC, city buses are running but aren't on schedule at all -- no one can find out more details than that.

Classes at the University of Regina and SIAST are cancelled. Regina Public Schools and Regina Catholic Schools buses are not running but their schools are open.

This would all be rather exciting but now that I work from home, some of the snow day excitement is lost on me. Maybe I'll go outside and try to get stuck in a drift or something?

Note: the photo above is not a mistake, it is an actual shot of the view out my window. If you look closely you can just make out the back end of a polar bear.

Pick of the Day: Talkin' About School & Society

You get two shots at checking out this discussion series hosted by the University of Regina's Faculty of Education. Today from 3:30-4:45 p.m. in the Education Auditorium, University of Ottawa Professor Joel Westheimer will speak on the subject No Child Left Thinking: Democracy at Risk in Canadian Schools. Then from 7-9 p.m. at LaBodega Restaurant (2228 Albert) Westheimer will reprise his afternoon presentation with additional input from U of R professor Jennifer Tupper. As always, people who attend, be they professional educators or just members of the general public, are encouraged to offer their own thoughts on the topics being touched on.

As we move increasingly to a knowledge-based economy, access to quality public education is hugely important for children, especially those from marginalized communities who typically don't have a lot of family resources to draw on. In Saskatchewan's First Nations and Metis community, for instance, education is regarded as "the new buffalo" that will help sustain and nourish Aboriginal youth as the herds of bison that used to roam the prairies once did. But plenty of factors are in play in our society, from spending restrictions imposed by conservative governments to the growth of privately-operated Christian schools, that are hindering society's ability to provide schools and teachers with the resources they need to meet the challenge of ensuring that children and families get the support they require to succeed.
Issues like these, plus much more, I'm sure, will be touched on in these provocative presentations. Check them out if you get the chance.
Addendum: According to organizers, both events are a go for today despite all the snow we received.

1.24.2010

Superbowl Showdown

If you'll refer to this Dog Blog post from last Sunday you'll see that I called an Indianapolis Colts vs New Orleans Saints Superbowl. Kick-off is set for Miami on Feb. 7 at 6:30 p.m. EST. Works for me.

More Grey Cup Fallout

This is a joke post, and is not intended in any way, shape or form to suggest that there's even the remotest link between the Rider Nation and the Aryan Nation that Hitler once led. Neither is this post intended to diminish the incredible suffering, sacrifice, death and destruction that occured during the Nazi era by equating it with the simple loss of a football game. Got it? Good. (YouTube)

Pick of the Day: Me & Orson Welles

I've never seen Citizen Kane, admittedly, but I still consider myself an admirer of Orson Welles. I'm a SF fan, see, and that 1938 radio adaptation of British writer H.G. Well's The War of the Worlds that Welles did where he induced millions of Americans already spooked by the rising menace of Nazi Germany in Europe and Japan in the Far East to panic in the belief that Martians equipped with deadly "heat-rays" had invaded the U.S. is an absolute classic.

Then's there's Rita Hayworth. You have to give him that one too. He was married to her for a time, and they made The Lady From Shanghai together in 1947. The Magnificent Ambersons was another of his cinematic highlights.

Welles truly was a larger than life figure. And the actor who plays him in this period drama (Christian McKay) apparently does a fine job of capturing his verve and energy. Set in 1937, the film [which screens tonight at the RPL at 9 p.m.] opens with Welles in rehearsal at the Mercury Theatre for Broadway's first Shakespearean production -- Julius Caesar, conceived by Welles as anti-Nazi parable, and ultimately a stunning triumph.

There's some other fluff about Zac Efron being a young actor hired by Welles to play a minor role and him falling for a beautiful production assistant played by Clare Danes. My advice to you is to ignore it. Welles is the story here. Here's the trailer. (YouTube)

Also worth checking out today is the Regina Musical Club's presentation of The Schumann Letters at the University Theatre at 7:30 p.m. Held to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the composer's birth, this musical work chronicles the courtship of Schumann and his wife Clara.

1.23.2010

A Wall I Can Get Behind

Maybe this is something we should think about doing? (Onion News Network)

The Most Courageous People At The Regina Anti-Prorogue Rally

Two very friendly and polite young people who are far, far braver than the government they support.

The Regina Anti-Prorogue Rally


Protest the Prorogation Today

Today, Canada-wide protests against the prorogation are happening. If Harper's decision to shut down parliament has made you angry, you can vent some of that frustration starting at 1pm on Scarth Street Mall.

Saturday Morning Cartoon

Today's Saturday morning cartoon's theme is that of the great and mighty shark.

First up is a lame 1976 cartoon from Hanna-Barbera called Jabberjaw.

Jabberjaw is another of Hanna-Barbera's Scooby-Doo and Josie and the Pussycats knock offs that they liked to pump out. It's 2076 and Jabberjaw is a talking great white shark who is also a drummer in a band full of humans.



In the 1994, in an attempt to cash in on the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles craze, DIC Entertainment came up with Street Sharks. The story has four brothers getting turned into half shark / half human crime fighting creatures. They dislike pizza though and say lamer catchphrases like "jawsome". Ugh.


Pick of the Day: Spanish Flair/Behemoth

If there are any Reginans out there with a love of both Classical and Heavy Metal music, they'll be in a bit of a quandary tonight.

At Connexus Arts Centre, the Regina Symphony Orchestra is presenting its Masterworks concert Spanish Flair with guest artists violinist Raymond Ko, soprano Sophie Bouffard and the South Saskatchewan Youth Orchestra playing works by Bizet and other Latin composers. Then at the Exchange you've got Polish metalmeisters Behemoth (pictured), with Shining and Septic Flesh in support.

Bummer, eh? Two kick-ass shows, but they're on the same night, so if you're a fan of those two admittedly diverse genres you can only catch one.

Mind you, it could be worse. How? Well, if you happened to be a Classical/Heavy Metal fan who was also a country music buff you'd be forced to choose between three gigs -- the above two, plus Alan Jackson and George Canyon at Brandt Centre. Talk about a dilemma, eh?
Mind you, again, it could be worse. Just imagine for a sec that you were a Classical/HeavyMetal/Country music fan who was also into hip hop, then you'd have to chose between four gigs -- the above three, plus a special early show at the Cathedral Village Freehouse featuring Regina's Def 3 and Vancouver's Moka Only.
Visual art fans, meanwhile, can check out the opening of Lyndal Osborne's show ab ovo at the Sherwood Village Branch Gallery at 2 p.m. Curated for the Dunlop Art Gallery by Catherine Livingstone, it explores the idea of seeds and seed banks. Look for a review in an upcoming issue of prairie dog.

1.22.2010

Friday Afternoon Kitty!

Special Siamese cat edition. Siamese being the cats that never shut up.

Loud!



Louder!



Also loud!



Cute!



Also cute!



Road trip!



Um, okay... that's annoying...



But that's cute. Come on, just pick the poor guy up!



Please, please, pick him up!




There. All better. Just needed attention.