Announcement: The New Prairie Dog Website

It's true. The URL is www.prairiedogmag.com but you can get there the fastest just by clicking here. It's been a long time coming and it was a lot of stress and hard work to make it happen.

We hope you like it.

The website will have most of the articles from the print edition of the current prairie dog as well as (very) limited archives. Although there are still some nooks and crannies "under construction", there's is plenty to see, read and poke right now.

And tomorrow at some point we'll flip the "on" switch for the new Dog Blog and, well, it'll be back to business. Except that from now on, our blog be part of a bigger website.

And that's it for this version of Dog Blog. One thousand, five hundred and twenty-nine posts later, we're moving onward and upward.

Hope to see you soon at the new address!

The new website was designed and built by Jason Funk and Alex Whyte. Extra special thanks to designer Paul Klassen who came in late and helped bring it all home.

Canada Sure Demolished Russia, Eh?

7-3. (CBC)

I'm not surprised. Russia has the talent but something's missing, or not clicking. Also, it looks like Canada lost the right game in this tournement. They're awake now.

Have to say, I don't root for Canada the way I used to. I root for teams with players I like, and there's players I like from all over the place. Teemu Selanne --hey, I saw him score enough goals back in the day at the old Winnipeg Arena. There was a time when I'd have donated him a kidney if he'd needed one (thank god he did not). And how do you root against Ovechkin, or a guy like awesome U.S. goalie Ryan Miller--who (if I recall correctly) was insultingly left off the 2006 U.S. Olympic team for poor, terrible John Grahame.

Still, kind of nice to see that the beast, she has awoke. Look out, U.S.A. These guys are looking like Miller killers.

So When Are We Shutting This Thing Down, Anyway?

I figure sometime after the hockey game. So yeah, if any posters have a favourite dog blog memory or something they want to share, put it up fast! Because after tonight there will be NO DOG BLOG EVER AGAIN.

(Until tomorrow at a new, improved and soon-to-be-announced location Shhh!)

Conservative MP Sides with Climate Liars

Wondering why the Harper government seems to be dragging its heels on doing anything about climate change? I've argued that it's because the party is teeming with closet climate change deniers.

Well, one Conservative MP has stepped proudly out of the closet. In a letter to La Presse, Maxime Bernier applauded Harper's go-slow approach to climate change because the science, he says, is not decided.

So we've got Gary Goodyear questioning evolution and Bernier questioning climate change. Is anyone in the Conservative party even passingly familiar with science?

A Small Bit Of News

Today is Dog Blog's last day!

Well, last day in its current form.

Stay tuned, there will be announcements later. GOOD announcements.

Ha ha!

Pick of the Day: The Wiz

Pretty well everyone has seen the classic 1939 MGM movie The Wizard of Oz in which the adorable Judy Garland starred as Dorothy, the young Kansas girl who, along with her dog Toto, gets swept up in a tornado and is whisked away to the magical land of Oz. It is a true Hollywood classic.

Tonight and tomorrow night at Conexus Arts Centre, Do-It-With-Class Young Peoples Theatre are presenting a somewhat revised musical version of L. Frank Baum's beloved tale with some video sequences being shot in Wascana Park. The Wiz debuted on Broadway in 1975, and in 1978 was made into a movie that starred such luminaries as Diana Ross (Dorothy), Michael Jackson (Scarecrow), Lena Horne (Glinda the Good Witch of the West), Nipsey Russel (TinMan) and Richard Pryor (the Wizard).

God knows how many TV and film versions of Baum's story are out there. All have a touch of weirdness attached to them. But hands down, in my mind anyway, this cartoon that I remember from my childhood is the weirdest. Anyone else out there remember this? (YouTube)


Look ma! Politicial cynicism!

But of course they'd NEVER politicize the Olympics, heaven forbid.

"Our strong leader???!!!???!!"

Jeez, at least Hitler hired Leni Riefenstahl when he wanted to capitalize politically on the games, not whatever boob was running the camera for Stephan Dion's recorded message...

Pick of the Day: Yukon Blonde

In a post a couple of weeks ago, prairie dog editor Stephen Whitworth raved about this Vancouver-based quartet. The only challenge to him seeing them at the Exchange tonight as he proposed and booking off work the next day is that the gig coincides with production day for our Feb. 25 issue.

In a perfect world, we'd have the paper off to the printer by 5 p.m. But, as we are constantly reminded of virtually every day of our existence, we don't live in a perfect world. Each issue, all sorts of things typically happen from writers being late with copy to our network going down to advertisers being late with ads to late-breaking stories to the editor attending a production-weekend party and suffering a "ginjury", that frustrate our ability to hit deadline.

So the odds of us being done the paper in time to take in this gig are long indeed. I'm serious, Switzerland has a better chance of a gold medal sweep in Men's and Women's Ice Hockey at the Olympics then we do of hitting deadline. But we'll definitely be there in spirit. Because, as Steve noted in his post, Yukon Blonde is "effing great" (Dog Blog)


City Council Wrapup: Somebody Please Fix the Feedback Problem!

Don't know how much was spent on the year-old PA system in city hall, but that sure is some tax dollars hard at work.

Hard at work wrecking my hearing, that is.

Surprise shrieks of feedback have been happening since, well, since the system was installed as far as I can remember. But things have been getting steadily worse. Tonight, it seemed if anyone spoke even slightly louder than normal, they'd be greeted with howls from the speakers. It was clearly bothering some of the delegations and even warranted some very testy comments from Councillor Clipsham.

Apparently, the problem is "being looked into."

In other news, want to know how to really provoke council's ire? Suggest raising property taxes to avoid the necessity of a 25 cent transit fare increase.

That's what former mayoral candidate, Jim Elliott, did, and boy howdy, did they let him have it. Normally, when Elliott appears before council to promote his left-wing, radical socialist, hippy agenda, the response is a "seeing no questions, thank you, you may return to the gallery." Tonight there were questions. Questions aplenty.

Elliott's argument was essentially that while a 25 cent fare increase seems small, there was a 15 cent increase in August so the two should be considered together and a 40 cent increase over a calendar year is starting to look a little on the steep side. He suggested that any increase will have a negative impact on low income users of transit and that maybe further fare increases should wait until there are some demonstrable improvements to the transit system.

Under questioning, he suggested that a property tax increase would be preferable to a fare increase as it would spread the impact out farther.

Ignoring Elliott's point that the fare increase they should really be discussing is 40 cents over a year, Councillor Fougere argued that a 25 cent increase is very small and pointed out that the discounted transit passes for low income people are not increasing at all in price. He also wondered aloud if Elliott would rather transit users pay nothing to ride the bus. Elliot said, no, he'd just like to see their contribution to transit not increase at this time.

Councillor Hincks, who seemed very cranky at the suggestion of a tax increase, pointed out that Regina's transit rates, before this hike, is among the lowest in the country. Elliot argued that by keeping our transit fees lower than other cities we're giving ourselves a competitive advantage when it comes to attracting new residents. He didn't take the obvious dig that maybe our transit fees should be lower because our transit system isn't as good as other cities'.

Councillor Clipsham argued that the current ratio of user fees to city subsidization of transit is about right (one third paid for from fees, the rest from municipal coffers). He also asked the administration about the effect on ridership from last year's 15 cent price increase. According to the Director of Transit, David Onodera, ridership increased. This prompted Clipsham to suggest that Elliot's concerns that price hikes would drive people away were unfounded.

Once Elliott was allowed to return to his seat, I think he'd received more direct attention from city hall than during his entire run for mayor.

In the end, council voted unanimously that fares should go up.

Everything else on the agenda also passed unanimously. That includes the Transit Investment Plan and its attendant action plan.

The one exception was a motion made by Councillor Clipsham during discussion of the fare increase. He requested that administration, as part of their comprehensive review of parking, look into the feasibility and desirability of linking transit fares to downtown parking fees. Only councillors Fougere and Findura voted against this.

Oh yeah... A tip to anyone considering appearing as a delegate before council: If you're planning to say something critical of what council is doing -- especially if it has something to do with things like transit, programs for low income people or housing -- be prepared for this question: "Have you brought your concerns to the provincial government?"

Now, to be fair, the point council's making is that some of the stuff that people want to complain to them about is in part, or even wholly, a provincial concern. Still, the question is a great diversion tactic that can throw someone unused to council proceedings right off their game. (I should know. They hit me with a version of this the one time I appeared before council.)

Axe Cop

"One day, at the scene of a fire, the cop found the perfect fireman axe. That was the day he became Axe Cop"

So begins Axe Cop, an online comic strip that is drawn by Ethan Nicholle (age 29), and written by his younger brother Malachai (age 5). According to Ethan, his father has 'very healthy loins.'

The strip is wonderfully drawn, and the storyline should be familiar to anyone who thought or said anything at the age of five.

Read Axe Cop here.

Spoiler: Don't get too attached to Axe Cop's partner, Flute Cop. He becomes Dinosaur Soldier in the first episode!

This Week at City Hall: Transit Plan Part Two, Utilities Budget and Heritage Awards

Monday, February 22
City Council (5:30 pm): Council will be considering the Transit Investment Plan and the transit fare increase. Former mayoral candidate, Jim Elliott, will be speaking before council in favour of the former and in opposition to the latter.

Also, the water and sewer utility budget will be brought forward so that council can review it and then at their March 8 meeting decide whether or not it should be approved. If it does, it recommends a 8.9 per cent utility rate increase.

Council will also be deciding on whether or not it should pursue funding for a new, environmentally friendlier garbage truck and whether they should use debt incurred for the Global Transportation Hub for capital projects. They will also be reviewing the 2010 Regina Municipal Heritage Award recipients.

Tuesday, February 23
Community Services Advisory Committee (5:30 pm): Receiving a presentation on the Transit Investment Plan.

Wednesday, February 24
Regina Planning Commission (4:00 pm): Considering a recommendation to close an unused laneway and incorporate it into a piece of adjacent city property which would then be sold to the Regina Public School Board to facilitate the redevelopment of the Arcola School site. Also, considering an amendment to the Official Community Plan to reflect the addition to the city of land annexed for the Global Transportation Hub. The new territory will be called the West Industrial Lands.

You knew this was coming

In other news, Prime Minister Stephen Harper is demanding that the Vancouver Winter Olympics be prorogued ... (The Globe and Mail).

Pick of the Day: Playwrights Reading Series

From time to time the University of Regina Theate Department, in conjunction with a handful of partners like the Saskatchewan Writers Guild and Saskatchewan Playwrights Centre, presents a reading by a local or visiting playwright. Now, when playwrights write, of course, it's usually with the goal of seeing their work performed by accomplished actors on an evocative set. But before a script is "stage ready" it usually goes through all sorts of readings and workshops to give the playwright a sense of how the work is translating from the page.

Tonight's guest playwright is Stephen Massicotte (pictured). Possessing a BFA in Drama from the University of Calgary, Massicotte has written several award-winning plays that have been produced by theatre companies across Canada, among them Mary's Wedding (2002), The Oxford Roof Climber's Rebellion (2007) and The Clockmaker (2008); and the Jedi Handbooks triology. He's also penned screenplays for Ginger Snaps Back: The Beginning (2004) and The Dark (2005).
He reads tonight at 8 p.m. at the Shu-Box Theatre at Riddell Centre.


Tiki Detritus

You know the Tiki party was a success when you wake to find an unidentified blob on your couch.

The blob says gin is poison.

The blob is wrong.

It was the tequila.

Pick of the Day: Men's Ice Hockey

That's how the sport is listed on the official website of the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics. That's to distinguish it from Field Hockey, I guess, which is one of marquee events of the Summer Olympics.

Yes, again I jest. With the summer games, Field Hockey, outside of maybe a few hotbeds like India and Pakistan, does not enjoy a high profile. But when it comes to the winter games, Men's Ice Hockey definitely is one of the top draws. And today on CTV/NBC/Whatever Other Networks Are Involved in Broadcasting the Games at 6:30 p.m. there's a match-up between the United States and Canada that should be the highlight of the preliminary round (although Sweden vs Finland, and Russia vs Czech Republic, which are also on today, should be okay games too).

Lacking cable TV, I didn't see a millisecond of Canada's first game against Norway, an 8-0 spanking on Feb. 16. I did catch the last two periods of their game against the Swiss on Feb. 18 at a friend's place. Canada certainly had the better of the play in their 3-2 shoot-out win, but the Swiss were very definitely no push over. Led by goalie Ryan Miller, meanwhile, the U.S. recorded a hard-fought 3-1 victory over Switizerland on Feb. 16, and then dispatched Norway 6-1 on Feb. 18.

Against the Swiss, the Canadians had trouble finishing, and they also were prone to reckless giveaways on defence. I'm not sure exactly what playoff format the Olympics follow once the preliminary round is over, but regardless of the outcome of today's game both Canada and the U.S. will advance to the next round.

The men's semi-finals are set for Feb. 26, while the gold medal game will be played on Feb. 28. Will they meet again down the road? Perhaps. But both Sweden and Russia look to have strong teams too, so a gold medal appearance by either team is by no means assured (unlike in Women's Ice Hockey, where it would take an upset of seismic proportions for there to not be a Canada vs U.S. gold medal showdown).


Famous Last Words

Two bang-up articles for fans of film critic Roger Ebert, medicare, and the meaning of life. Ebert has had several surgeries to remove cancer which has left him jawless, speechless, and full of beans.

The first is an excellent review of the term 'death panel' in the health care 'debate', where he talks of the beauty of a term that so efficiently shuts down reason, even though it appears to have dropped out of the stupid mouth of Sarah Palin.

Luckily, Ebert was old enough to qualify for Medicare just as his own benefits ran out, exhausted by the severity of his illness, and the multiple surgeries to keep him alive and (mostly) in one piece. One of the many kickers in his article is that every member of the House of Representatives and Senate receives universal health care, no matter what their age. "You should try it some time," says Ebert. (Chicago Sun-Times)

The other is a long, beautiful article on Ebert in Esquire by writer Chris Jones. Totally worth the read.

"I believe that if, at the end of it all, according to our abilities, we have done something to make others a little happier, and something to make ourselves a little happier, that is about the best we can do. To make others less happy is a crime. To make ourselves unhappy is where all crime starts. We must try to contribute joy to the world. That is true no matter what our problems, our health, our circumstances. We must try. I didn't always know this, and am happy I lived long enough to find it out."

Saturday Morning Cartoon

This the third Oscar nominated animated short film. It's called La dama y la muerte or The Lady and the Reaper. It's written and directed by Spanish animator Javier Recio García.

It's about an old woman who is waiting for death so she can rejoin her departed husband. Things don't go as planned.

Maybe it's my dark sense of humour but I find this one to be pretty funny and surreal.

Pick of the Day: The Oscars

Not the real Oscars, of course. Those will be held March 7 in La-La-Land. Should prove interesting, what with this being the first year of the expansion of the Best Picture nominee list from five to ten to reflect all the fine films that Hollywood and its affiliated independent studios are producing these days.

I jest, of course. Back in 1939 there may have been ten films that deserved serious consideration for Best Picture (with films like The Wizard of Oz, Gone With the Wind and Mr. Smith Goes to Washington released, 1939 is hailed as the greatest in Hollywood history, and is being used now to justify doubling the number of Best Picture candidates). But there's more than a few nominees this year, I suspect, that aren't exactly destined to be remembered as cinematic classics. The Blind Side? Really? Up in the Air? Clooney being cloy. Up? Avatar?

No, the decision to rachet up the number of Best Picture nominees is nothing but a blatant marketing ploy by Hollywood. But enough grousing. Tonight at Conexus Arts Centre, the Regina Symphony Orchestra presents its annual tribute to Hollywood movie music. We're not talking about those soundtracks stuffed with pop hits that some directors rely on to trigger emotion in the audience either. This is music that's been composed specifically for movies.
For years, this type of work was derrided in classical circles for being decidedly low art. But over the decades, plenty of great scores have been written. Here's your chance to hear some of the them performed live by a 60 or so member orchestra.

As an added bonus, people who attend are encouaged to dress up as their favourite movie star. If I was going, here's who I'd be. What about you?


Regina Writer Nominated for Prize

It was announced today that veteran Regina writer Connie Gault had made the regional short-list for the Commonwealth Writers' Prize for her 2009 novel Euphoria. Published by Coteau Books, the story is set in Regina in the immediate aftermath of the 1912 cyclone. A young woman named Orillia Cooper wakes up in the hospital with no idea of who she is and how she got there. She's soon visited by a woman named Gladdie McConnell who expresses concern for her welfare. From there the story flashes back to Toronto in the 1880s where we learn about the origins of their relationship.

Administered by the Commonwealth Foundation, the Writers' Prize includes both Best Book and Best First Book categories. In the initial round, six or seven books in each category are nominated in four regions: Africa, Caribbean & Canada, South Asia & Europe and South East Asia & Pacific. Past Canadian nominees include Alice Munro, Austin Clarke and Anne Michaels.

According to the Commonwealth Foundation, once finalists in each region are determined, they will be brought together in Dehli, India where the winners for the Best Book and First Book awards will be announced on April 12.

So good luck to Connie.

Friday Afternoon Kitty!

I used to watch this strangely hypnotic video on a regular basis when I was in university. This would usually result in the song being stuck in my head for days. Years later, I still catch myself singing it to myself sometimes-- saying sexy things to myself when I'm dancing.

It's an internet oldie by now, but nonetheless IT WILL HAUNT YOUR DREAMS.

Pick of the Day: The Bombers

The Bombers are playing in LaRonge tonight. They're also playing in Regina. How can they play in two places at once? By being two different Bombers. The ones who are playing in LaRonge are the Flin Flon Bombers of the SJHL. They currently sit first in the Bauer Conference with 76 points. Only the Sherwood Conference-leading Weyburn Red Wings, with 78 points, have a better league record. The LaRonge Wolves are having an okay year too. Right now, they're fourth in the Bauer with 62 points. So should be a good match-up.

Meanwhile, in Regina, the Hot Blood Bombers will be storming the stage at O'Hanlon's Pub with Ian LaRue & the Condors backing them up. The hard-rocking Regina trio have been on the road a fair bit lately. When I last spoke to guitarist/vocalist Dave Schneider in September he said he and bandmates Herb Exner (drums) and Shane Grass (bass) had laid down 13 new tracks for an album that would be released in 2010. So keep an eye out.

Ian LaRue & the Condors played Lydia's in Saskatoon last night. In a preview last issue, our sister paper Planet S described LaRue as possessing a "darkly emotive" songwriting style. He and his band hail from ... oh, this is too rich. They hail from Winnipeg. Home to the CFL's Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

Here's video of the follow-up to the Best of Regina commercial we ran last year on CBC-TV where we used the Hot Blood Bombers' tune "Cold City" for the soundtrack. Enjoy. (Facebook)

Also on tap tonight at the Club is a Grassroots Regina gig headlining Jory Nash with local singer-songwriter John Fettes backing him up. Here's video of Nash doing Gordon Lightfoot's song "If You Could Read My Mind" from a Toronto tribute show in January 2009. (YouTube)


Pick of the Day: One + The Other

If you've checked out Michelle Provost's show Selling Out (DogBlog) at the Dunlop Art Gallery you might remember an Egon Schiele action figure on the one wall. Born in Austria in 1890, Schiele was a protege of Austrian Symbolist painter Gustav Klimt who, prior to his death in 1918 at age 28 from the Spanish Flu, attracted both accolades and condemnation (for drawings of teenage girls that townsfolk where he lived regarded as pornographic).

I mention Schiele now because this contemporary dance performance by Vancouver-based artists Justine A. Chambers and Deanna Peters is apparently inspired in good part by images taken from his drawings and paintings with the goal, says advance publicity, of offering "an otherworldly look behind faces we show."

That's not much to go on, I know. But there is certainly plenty of fertile ground to be explored in the disjunction that exists in most people's lives between their public persona and personal reality. I'm looking forward to seeing which pathways Chambers and Peters chose to explore.

One + The Other runs tonight and Friday at 8 p.m. and Saturday at 2 p.m. at New Dance Horizons (2207 Harvey St., $15.)


Transit Plan Heading to Council

Just came back from the Community and Protection Services Committee meeting at which the Transit Investment Plan was discussed. In short, it's recommendations were passed unanimously by the committee so it will be going on to council with their endorsement.

This was another of those big idea meetings that attracted a big turnout from the community. Five delegations spoke before the committee, four of which were there to laud the report and the transit department for putting it together. The last delegation was also generally favourable of it but had issues with the placement of the downtown transit hub and how it would affect parking. (Always, the bloody parking.)

Also discussed at this meeting was the proposed transit fare increase. It too passed unanimously and will go forward to council for final approval.

Here, there was one delegation who spoke against the hike. Her points were interesting: The last increase came last summer so this is two increases over a year and there hasn't been a similar boost to welfare or the minimum wage. The fare increase, then, hits low income families disproportionately hard. The administration pointed out, though, that Regina's service is still among the most affordable in the country and the fare increase is needed to subsidize the transit improvements people are clamouring for.

Sooooo.... I guess the elephant in the room is that nifty transit plan isn't going to get very far if the transit department and council can't come up with other ways to fund it. Fare hikes can't do it all. The report makes mention of seeking out other funding options -- presumably through the federal and provincial governments -- but it remains to be seen if they'll find them.

Pick of the Day: Tuesdays With Morrie

Through movies like I Love You, Man and Pineapple Express the term "bromance" has entered the popular lexicon. I wouldn't put this Jeffrey Hatcher and Mitch Albom-penned memoir in the same homosocial category. But it does concern male bonding. It's just that instead of being two horn-dogs out on one last toot before one of them gets married or whatever other salacious plot contrivance the screenwriter/director/producer opted for to pique audience interest, the male protagonists here are an elderly Chicago sociology professor named Morrie Schwartz and a former student of his named Mitch who reconnects with his mentor after happening to catch him being interviewed on Nightline one night.

Directed by Andrew North, and starring Richard Binsley as Morrie and Geoffrey Whynot as Mitch, Tuesdays With Morrie opens on the Globe Theatre's main stage tonight. It runs until March 6, and is one hour and twenty minutes long with no intermission.


Les Aventures Extraordinaires D'Adèle Blanc-Sec

Or The Extraordinary Adventures of Adele Blanc-Sec is the latest film from French director Luc Besson (The Fifth Element, Leon: The Professional, Nikita).

It's been awhile since Besson has directed a film. He's written at least 40 movies and produced over 80 but only directed just over 10.

This film is based on famed French comic creator Jacques Tardi. There have been at least 9 volumes so far although there hasn't been an English adapation since the early 90's. Dark Horse Comics had reprinted them in an anthology series called Cheval Noir which has been out of print for decades and NBM had collected a couple of them in the mid-1990's but those too are out of print.

Still the film looks very cool. No idea if and when it will reach North America though.

Six In The AM: The Transit Investment Plan Edition

The Transit Investment Plan was released on Friday to virtually no fanfare. It’s a comprehensive document that outlines a series of recommendations on how to make Regina’s transit system function better. And like the Downtown Neighbourhood Plan, it seems to say all the right things: Make transit a priority. Increase ridership. Improve pedestrian and cycling networks. Integrate with the Downtown Plan. Make transit more user friendly. Expand service. Speed service up.

Want a taste of what to expect from its 260 pages? Here are six standout recommendations to whet you’re appetite....

1. MORE DIRECT ROUTES: The route network has been redesigned according to something they’ve dubbed the Top Down Plan. Basically, the plan keeps the downtown as the hub for transit -- most major routes will be stopping at a spot just north of the main library -- but the routes will meander less and not penetrate quite so far into the suburbs. To service those areas, there will be a series of short buses that run shorter shuttle loops. In theory, while people may have to transfer a little more often, overall transit and wait times will shrink.

2. HOLIDAY SERVICE: These new schedules will finally provide long-overdue holiday and Sunday service. Yay! No more sitting around on Family Day doing nothing because the buses aren’t running.

3. MAKE TRANSIT COMPETITIVE: There are a few ideas on how to make transit more attractive to more people. Things like, an overall parking management strategy that could lead to higher parking prices downtown -- oh, I can almost hear the hue and cry already. (Here’s hoping someone will do the same at the UofR.) Also, dedicated bus lanes will be added to major streets to improve transit speed and reliability. And, the Transit Department will take another stab at getting a UPass for post secondary students and consider things like making transit passes available to businesses and communities.

4. MORE BUSES: Our current fleet is looking pretty old and many aren’t fully accessible. The plan recommends purchasing up to 12 buses every year.

5. GET THE WORD OUT: A transit marketing manager will be hired to expand awareness of RTS’s improved service. Customer information will be improved through things like a more interactive website and GPS on buses that’ll allow for live updates about how the buses are running. You’ll be able send a text to RTS and find out when exactly your bus will arrive. Nifty.

6. SERVICE TO THE AIRPORT: About bloody time.

There’s more of course. Lots more. Smart cards. Annual fare increases. Heated shelters. Oh, and a note about how supervisory positions will be made union-exempt to reduce conflicts of interest. I imagine there’ll be more than a few RTS employees who’re none too happy about that one.

Still, from my cursory read, it looks like a plan that’s headed in the right direction. It will go before the Community and Protective Services Committee tomorrow at 4pm. If you want to show up to show your support or to offer a critique, you can attend the meeting and have your say. If it gets through there, it’ll presumably go before council at their next meeting (which will be, I believe, February 22).

The plan can be download on the city's website. And if you want to discuss it in an open, friendly, online forum, there’s a comment button below.

Pick of the Day: Sour Milk & Paper Cows.

Pickings are pretty slim tonight, but I did unearth -- or should I say, I disinterred -- this event at the RPL Theatre at 7 p.m. where Regina Leader-Post journalists Jana Pruden and Barb Pacholik (pictured, with Pacholik on the left) discuss the two books of true-life Saskatchewan crime stories that they've written together.

On a busier night, I might not even have mentioned this. It's not that Pruden and Pacholik don't deserve kudos for their reporting. It's just that their employer, the Leader-Post, tends to play crime and violence up pretty big. It helps sales, I know. But it also creates a distorted perception of the level of crime in our society. Yes, horrific things still happen. But overall crime rates have been dropping steadily over the last 40 years.

But when the public sees crime stories regularly played up on the front page of the local daily with graphic colour photos and inflammatory headlines it's inevitable that many will conclude crime is out of control and support stronger law and order measures and related restrictions on civil liberties in the name of safety and security. The L-P even has a Moment in Crime blog on their website that Pruden and Pacholik (and Heather Polischuck) all contribute to.

Now, I'm not an apologist for criminals. But when it comes to preserving law and order in Regina, my impression of the budgeting process is that the police basically go to City Council every year with a blank cheque for them to sign. I'm no anti-cop radical either. I have members of my extended family who have served on police forces. But in 2009, the Regina Police Services budget was over $50 million. That's 20-per cent of city expenditures. Which is a helluva lot of coin.

But with this book, Pruden and Pacholik aren't exploiting the sad fact of crime in our lives or using it to further a political agenda. They're exploring it from a sociological perspective as it relates to the unique nature of life in Saskatchewan from pioneer times on with factors like isolation, racism, poverty and dislocation all figuring in.

Should be an interesting discussion.


New Marriage Initiative Encounters Controversy

I think this news item is meant more to satirize the heated debate in the United States over gay marriage then it is to poke fun at conservative middle class America, although it certainly does that. (The Onion)

Regina Urban Ecology: A Good Read

Regina Urban Ecology is a great, newish blog on city-planning-type issues from Laura Pfeifer and Martin Gourlie. From their About page:
"This is a forum to discuss the many aspects of the urban experience in Regina, Saskatchewan. We use the term 'urban ecology' to encompass issues of urban planning and design, aspects of community, art and culture, as well as the natural ecology of the city. It is a place to discuss how a unique urban experience is built and developed."
I'm a total nerd for stuff like this. They've only been around since September but already there's a sizeable collection of posts. Presently, on the front page, there are good articles on Regina's new "Infinite Horizons" brand and on the Walmart shuttle.

This Week at City Hall: Transit Review, Debt Shuffle and a Bus Fare Increase

Tuesday, February 16
Public Works Committee (4 pm): Looking at the installation of water meters in new buildings. Presently, water meters aren't installed until after a building is built and during construction a flat rate is applied for water use. Under the system being proposed, meters would be installed when construction begins and builders would be charged for the water they actually use.

Wednesday, February 17
Executive Committee (11:45 am): Apparently, in the past, when railway land has come up for sale, the city hasn't had a plan on how or when or if to purchase it for expansion of city services or to make available for housing or roads or what have you. Currently, there doesn't seem to be any railway land that'll imminently become available, but if Executive Committee accepts a recommendation coming forward this week, they will incorporate a railway land purchasing strategy into the Official Community Play.

They will also be looking at shuffling around some of their debt. The city currently has $42 million in debentures it took out to cover the cost of providing water and sewage services to the Global Transportation Hub. Turns out, they didn't need that cash as the cost of providing that service was cheaper than expected ($20-something million instead of $40-something million) and the provincial and federal governments paid for it. Instead of paying off the $42 million, Executive Committee is considering using the money for other capital projects. If they do this, they'll avoid paying a penalty for paying off their debt early. Plus, they're going to have to take out debentures to cover the capital projects anyway, so using these debentures saves them the trouble of getting new ones.

Also on the agenda, are some technical stuff about the Recreation Infrastructure Canada Fund Contribution Agreement (specifically, approvals are needed so the city clerk and mayor can negotiate and administer the federal government's $750,000 contribution), a request $135,413 to cover updates to the Regina Police Service radio system and a $122,500 contract for off-site storage of municipal documents.

Community and Protective Services Committee (4 pm): The transit review is finally here! Although they're officially calling it the Transit Investment Plan. So, Community and Protective Services Committee will be having a gander at this. It's kind of a big deal and at 260 pages, probably warrants a post of its own.

Also on their agenda are an increase in transit and paratransit fees. Expect to see the cost of riding the bus go up to $2.50 for an adult. The committee will also look at a report on the Campus Express service which shows transit usage by students is up since its introduction -- now if we could just get all the little anarchists and Ayn Rand fanboys to kick in for a universal UPass system the route might become sustainable. Did I just suggest our city's post-secondary student body is overrun with anarchists and Ayn Rand fanboys? Yes I did. But that's okay because I'll bet you dollars for donuts nary a one will read this far into this incredibly long, incredibly dull city hall update. It's Reading Week and they're all off getting drunk and syphillitic in Florida while I'm freezing my ass off here.

Yes, it's a particularly bitter Monday.

The committee will also be looking at increases in the greens fees at city owned golf courses. The city owns six golf courses.... that blows my mind a little. Why does the city own six golf courses? Is that a usual thing for a city to own?

As usual, blah blah blah, blah blah blah, the city website.

Pick of the Day: Fragmented

If you saw this image in the 14 Days section of our Feb. 11 issue you might well have wondered what the hell it was all about. Well, as you can likely infer from the info in the inset box, it's from an art exhibition by Regina painter Antoinette Herivel called Fragmented that's on at the Art Gallery of Regina until March 11.

If you happened to read the adjacent blurb in the Galleries & Museums section you would've learned that Herivel's inspiration for the show came from a reading of her grandmother's letters and diary-entries describing her WWII experience living under Nazi-occupation on the British island of Jersey.

Now I haven't actually seen this show yet (it just opened Feb. 10). But it looks like a solid one. In this work, which is called Die Festung [perhaps after a German novel by Lothar-Gunther Buchheim (who also wrote Das Boot) based on a journey he took across occupied France in 1944] words like "dissident", "inspection", "patrols" and "underground" leap out. I haven't seen too much, if any, of Herivel's work in recent years, but it does mark a big, and welcome, departure from what she used to to.

It's on until March 11. Check it out if you get a chance.


Pick of the Day: Football

Hey, a guy can dream, can't he? I mean, what better way to spend a Sunday than watching football on TV? Sadly, this marks the first Sunday since probably late June that there hasn't been a football game of some sort on the tube (CFL, College, NFL).

That blissful situation ended last Sunday when the New Orleans Saints defeated the Indianapolis Colts 31-17 to claim the Superbowl title. In years gone by, we could have got a bit of a football fix by watching the Pro Bowl from Honolulu. But this year, for some unexplained reason, the NFL elected to move it to the Sunday between the Conference Finals and the Feb. 7 Superbowl. Don't ask me why it did that, I don't have a clue.

Outside of a noon hour musical brunch being hosted by Regina Lyric Music Theatre at the Hotel Sask, and a gig tonight by Hughston at Lulu (639 Victoria Ave), and a Grade 8 theme party type dance at the Cathedral Village Freehouse and the regular Sunday trivia night at O'Hanlon's, there's not a heck of a lot going on in Regina. Although the RPL does have a couple of interesting flicks. At 9 p.m. it's comedian Chris Rock's investigation into the mystique of hair in female African-American culture Good Hair. Here's the trailer. (YouTube) And at 7 p.m., It's New York, I Love You which consists of a succession of short films directed by diverse talents in the film industry. Here's the trailer (YouTube)

Outside of that, I got nothing.


Chinese Artist Encounters Censorship

Considering all the edgy art work out there that's capable of offending people based on religious, sexual, political and other grounds (like Serrano's famous Piss Christ, pictured), this seems pretty innocuous to me. Of course, the politician that the work references is an ass. (CBC)

Pick of the Day: Valentines Day Massacre

Not technically on Valentines Day, I know. But V-Day is on Sunday this year, which means that a lot of people are likely going to be celebrating tonight. Among metal heads in Regina, this gig at the Exchange has developed into a bit of tradition. Featured performers this year include Orbital Express, In Darkness, Plagued Inferno and Bugs Moran.

No, my mistake. Moran was a major player in the St. Valentines Day Massacre. That happened in Chicago back in 1929. Prohibition was still in force, and two powerful gangs battled each other for control of the illegal booze biz in the city. Based on the south side was an Italian emigre gang headed by Al Capone (pictured). The north side, meanwhile, was the territory of an Irish-Polish gang headed by Bugs Moran.
The two gangs had been rivals for years. But on Feb. 14 tensions came to a head. With Capone conveniently vacationing in Florida, four men, two dressed as cops, entered a north side garage at mid-morning and machine gunned to death five members of Moran's gang and two other men who were loosely affiliated with the gang. Moran, himself, escaped the slaughter, but his gang was severely weakened. And Capone came under increased federal scrutiny for his gang activities, and in 1931 was jailed for 11-years for income tax evasion.
If metal isn't your scene, the Regina Symphony Orchestra is presenting a special Valentine's-themed concert at Conexus Arts Centre tonight featuring compositions by Tchaikovsky and Ravel called Romance of Dance. Also, a new comedy showcase kicks off at Gabbo's Nightclub. Hosted by Shawn Hall, the Comedy Grind runs every Saturday at 9 p.m., and will include a mix of stand-up and sketch comedy, improv and short films. As well, there's a show at the Club featuring Sincerely Autumn and several other bands. Finally, Loverboy is at the Casino.

Saturday Morning Cartoon

This week's cartoon is another of this year's Oscar nominated animated shorts. French Roast is from France and is directed by Fabrice Joubert. It tells the amusing story of a man in a restaurant who discovers that he has forgotten his wallet. You can find the official site here.


Visual Art Lecture

Yeah, I know what you're thinking. But this guy's work sounds pretty interesting.

His name's Don Ritter. He was born in Canada, and is currently based in Berlin. He creates large-scale interactive video and sound installations using all sorts of new media. He just got done doing a work for the Cultural Pavillion at the Vancouver Olympics. He's in Regina Saturday night to talk about his work at 8 p.m. at Neutual Ground (203-1856 Scarth)

Ritter's exhibited throughout North America, Europe and Asia. Check out the talk if you get the chance.

Pick of the Day: The Wolfman

There's a big gig tonight at the Exchange. Having had their label Young Soul Records recently sign a distribution deal with EMI (DogBlog), and with a new album due out in April, Library Voices play a farewell show before heading to Vancouver to play four showcase gigs at the Olympics. Read more about the band in the preview James Brotheridge did in the Feb. 11 issue of prairie dog. And good luck to them. Regina needs a band to break big to start putting the scene here more on the map.

There's also a fundraiser for a new theatre company that Rob Ursan and Andorlie Hillstrom, the driving force behind Do-It-With-Class Young People's Theatre, are forming called Golden Apple. It's being held in the spacious lobby area of the T.C. Douglas Building and will feature a performance by Kyle Golemba of his humorous salute to Canadian musical theatre Making Love in a Canoe.

At O'Hanlon's Pub, Kleins96 (Harvest King Records) are headlining a gig that also includes Divorce Gun and the Savants.

But I decided to go with the opening day for the much anticipated release of this remake of the 1941 Lon Chaney horror classic The Wolfman. Quite apart from the chills it delivers, the story's loaded with socio-cultural significance. Apparently, the guy who wrote the original screenplay for Universal Pictures (Curt Siodmak) was Jewish.

I'm no expert on the Wolfman legend. But I believe that a person who is inclined whenever there is a full-moon to feel the irresistable urge to transform into a hybrid human/lupine creature has a pentagram inscribed in their hand. A pentagram bears a pretty strong resemblance to a Star of David. And as a metaphor for demonization, persecution and otherness, a "werewolf" is certainly potent. Here's the trailer (YouTube)


Let the Games Begin

Not exactly a surprise, but still lamentable. (CBC)

FNUC saved?

Possibly. Prairie dog has learned that the FSIN is considering a deal where First Nations University of Canada will remain open, academically independent, but more of its non-academic responsibilities taken over by the University of Regina.

Given that (a) academics have never been the problem at FNU, (b) the fight within the FSIN has always been control over the money, (c) the FSIN people currently controlling the money at FNU brought the institution to its current crisis, this is a very positive development.

Sarah Mills has more here.

Regina Has A New Shuttle Bus To Wal-Mart

Weird. (City website)

Pick of the Day: Another Mixed Bag

There's a few things going on today. At Chapters, University of Regina poli-sci prof David Webster explores the dark side of Canadian foreign policy in a Coffeehouse Controversies talk titled The Peacekeeper Myth. When I spoke with Webster recently, he had this to say about our increasingly hawkish nature as a country: "If there is an American military-industrial complex, then as with so many other things there's a Canadian branch plant."

At the Exchange, Grassroots Regina are presenting Spring Breakup backed-up by John Wort Hannam (pictured). This is another gig, I think, that's partly tied to the Cultural Olympiad in Vancouver. Here's video of the former, a rising folk duo consisting of Kim Barlow and Mathias Korn, discussing their musical partnership and perhaps more although they're kind of coy about it (YouTube).

For anyone who feels like getting dressed up, there's a Champagne & Chiffon fashion fundraiser with proceeds to the Heart & Stroke Foundation at the MacKenzie Art Gallery. The gallery's got some new shows up too, including a Daphne Odjig retrospective and sculptural installation by Joan Scaglione. Check them out if you get a chance.

Finally, until Feb. 13, Regina Little Theatre is presenting the culinary comedy The Kitchen Witches at the Performing Arts Centre. It's about two long-time hosts of rival TV cooking shows who, with their careers circling the crapper, team up to co-host a show in a last ditch effort to scale the heights that this man did so many years ago. (YouTube)


Big Day Tomorrow

Tomorrow marks a very special moment in human history. Forty-six years ago on Feb. 11 in Sandpoint, Idaho a baby girl named Sarah Louise was born to Charles "Chuck" Heath, a science teacher, and his wife Sarah "Sally", a
school secretary. Ever precocious and perky, this girl has grown into a woman of considerable accomplishment [in high school, for example, she was a skilled flautist and ball-handler-- as point guard for the basketball team, I mean] who may not yet have realized her final destiny, her growing legion of supporters fervently hope anyway, as leader of the Free World. (blogacause)

Ladies and Gentleman, if you find yourself in possession of a glass of alcohol or some other suitable libation tomorrow, give a toast to the birthday girl, will you?. (CornerStoneGroup).

And to show that she's still at the top of her game, here's video of her in action at a recent conservative political convention in Nashville. (YouTube)

Yes, that's the mayor of Regina

... fourth from the left. Wonder if his mother's proud of him. (Leader-Post)

EDIT: photo removed due to potential copyright conflicts

Pick of the Day: Jenn Grant

I'm not absolutely sure that Jenn Grant (pictured) is headlining this gig at the Exchange tonight. Based out of Halifax, the PEI-born Grant is regarded as an artist on the rise in Canada. After this gig, in fact, she'll be heading out to Vancouver to perform as part of the Cultural Olympiad.

Tonight, though, she's playing on a bill with Jason Plumb & the Willing. More than just local favourites, Plumb and his bandmates are top-notch musicians in their own right with a musical pedigree dating back, in Plumb's case anyway, to the late '80s and his group The Waltons. Like Grant, they too will be performing in Vancouver as part of the Cultural Olympiad.

Regardless of which order they play, Regina music fans are in for a treat. Tix are only $10 too, which is insanely cheap.

When I went to YouTube to look for a song by Grant to feature here, I had my choice of several. For some reason (actually, for a particular reason which will become clear tomorrow when the Feb. 11 issue of prairie dog hits the streets) I chose "Heartbreaker" off her 2009 CD Echoes. (YouTube)

If you're from around here, you've almost certainly seen Jason Plumb & the Willing play before. To refresh your memory, here's the trailer for their 2009 DVD Alive and Willing. (YouTube)


Production Night Musing.

Will we hit a 100 blog posts this month, I wonder? We've been doing that pretty consistently for quite a few months now. But like most everyone else in Regina, we're beginning to suffer a bit from winter fatigue. Besides, February is such a damn short month. Three days shorter than most months, two days shorter than the remaining four -- September, April, June and November. Last February, all we could muster was 48 posts. We're already at 29 so we'll beat that easy. It will take a Herculean effort though for us to break 100.

Pick of the Day: Threat Signal

Hailing from Steeltown, or at least what used to be known as Steeltown before most of the mills moved off-shore, Threat Signal (pictured) have been shredding metal-heads across Canada and beyond since 2005. In that time, they've released two albums Under Reprisal (2006) and Vigilance (2008). Tonight, they headline a gig at the Exchange that also features Blackguard, Kelevra and Decency Dies. Here's the video for Threat Signal's 2008 song "Through My Eyes" (YouTube)

Speaking of threats, University of Regina Political Science professor Jeffery Webber just returned from a one week visit to Honduras as part of a human rights delegation that met with trade unionists, peasants and other activists who are engaged in a popular resistance against the current Honduran government which seized control in a de-facto coup in June 2009. Tonight at the University of Regina (Classroom Building 112) at 7 p.m., Webber will discuss his experience, plus outline the role the Canadian government has played in propping up the illegal regime to protect Canadian mining interests in the country.

Yukon Blonde Is Effin' Great Great Great

Sitting here, editing, listening and marvelling. Good stuff.

They're playing here on the 23rd. This old dude might need to book the next day off...


Feds Pull FNUniv Funding

Ouch. (Globe and Mail)

Regina's New Brand...

...went live today. Here's the website. I give it a "B+" and I'm picky as all crap with this kind of stuff. Our designer's take: "hm, it's good." One member of our fun little gang hates the ribbony "R" but he's just wrong, so too bad for him. The tagline "Infinite Horizons" is quite good, even if it kind of suggests urban sprawl. But as long as we don't start suddenly scheduling bus routes to Harbour landing Wal-Marts it'll all be fine. (Ha. Such a silly thing would never happen.)

Cities, provinces and countries need brands so the can promote themselves to attract new residents and investment. $400K well spent, I says.
(This post was updated Feb. 11)

And Lord, I want to be in that number ...

Attention Saskatchewan Roughrider fans:

THIS is how you're supposed to celebrate winning a football championship ...

Saints Superbowl Victory Celebration from Cottage Films on Vimeo.

Shot on Magazine Street in New Orleans moments after the Saints defeated the Indianapolis Colts 31-17 in the Super Bowl. (hat tip to Deadspin)

This Week at City Hall: Green Garbage Trucks and the Taxes We Owe

Tuesday, February 9
Finance and Adminstration Committee (12:15 pm): The city's looking into buying a green garbage truck. To do this, Finance Committee will be considering a staff recommendation to enter negotiations with the province towards a cost sharing agreement under the Go Green Fund. The truck they have their eye on uses a Hydraulic Launch Assist technology to capture kinetic energy in braking. No, I do not understand what that means nor how it works. Colour me an ignorant twerp. All I know is the administration claims it could lead to 25 per cent reduction in fuel consumption. A good thing. But if they buy the truck, it would only be a pilot project and they'd be monitoring it to see how it performs in -30° weather. The truck would cost $400,000 and if the province likes the idea, the Go Green Fund would contribute $300,000 and the city the rest.

Meanwhile, tsk tsk Regina, according to a report Finance Committee will be looking at, it seems your tax bill is $5,739,399 in arrears this year. That's $401,0151 more than in 2009. You know we're not getting the extra cash the province promised us? That $5 million would come in pretty handy right about now. I'm just saying....

Reports and agendas can be downloaded on the city website.

Pick of the Day: Ab Ovo

We'll have a review of this show, which is on display at the Dunlop Art Gallery's Sherwood Village Branch until March 21, in our Feb. 11 issue. It's by Aussie native Lyndal Osborne, who since the early '70s has been a resident of Edmonton, where she's currently a professor emeritus at the University of Alberta.

From a young age, Osborne recounted at a January 23 opening reception, she has made a habit of collecting all sorts of natural materials -- shells, bones, stones and twigs.

Inspired by the ongoing effort by governments around the world to staunch the loss of bio-diversity in the plant kingdom through the establishment of seed banks where genetic material from endangered wild flowers, grains, fruits, vegetables and whatnot are stored for possible future use, she's taken some of the material she's accumulated and used it to make hundreds of sculptures based on images of seeds derrived from electron microscopes.

On one hand, ab ovo could be seen as a celebration of human ingenuity. But as I discuss in my review, there's definitely a darker side to the show. Not as dark as John Wyndham's classic 1951 horror tale Day of the Triffids, admittedly. (YouTube) But dark nonetheless. Check it out if you get a chance.


Star Wars Travel Posters

Oh man, that poster tickles all the nerd centres in my brain. And my brain is mostly nerd centres.

It was made by Justin Van Genderen, a freelance illustrator from Chicago. He's mocked up a whole series of these Star Wars travel posters and put them on his Flickr stream. (Discovered via Drawn.ca.)

Superbowl Wrap-up

This more or less sums it up. Sorry Brad. And by Brad, I don't mean our esteemed premier. Wallsie's a Raider fan, isn't he? And the Raiders weren't in the Superbowl,were they? This is another Brad I'm thinking of. YouTube)

Pick of the Day: Superbowl XLIV

Did you see in the NFC title game where the NFL equivalent of what happened to the Riders in the Grey Cup happened to the Minnesota Vikings against the New Orleans Saints? They were driving late with the game tied at 28 when, after a timeout, they got caught with too many players on the field, and had to call consecutive time-outs (which is illegal, and carries a five yard penalty) to avoid being flagged for too many men. That pushed them further out of field goal range, and ultimately led to Brent Farve throwing that ill-advised interception that sent the game into OT.

Instead of the "Thirteenth Man", however, that calamity will go down in Viking lore as the "Twelfth Man" because in the NFL, of course, they play 11 men a side.

In Minnesota, much as in Saskatchewan, fans have been wondering who the extra player was. "Who are you? Who? Who? Who? Who?" they scream in anguish, vowing never to get fooled again into believing that their team knows how to substitute its players properly. Talk about a generation of loyal football fans who've been scarred for life.

The adults, they'll recover. They've climbed aboard the magic bus before and taken many a bumpy ride, their emotions smacked around like a pinball being played by a wizard. But the kids most assuredly won't be alright. They might put up an eminent front, but as the miles stretch away, I can see tough times ahead for them, squeezed into their little boxes of despair.

See me, feel me, they cry out. Seekers, all, in quest of NFL glory.

While Rider fans must wait until June for the healing process to begin, Viking fans can start their recovery by watching today's Superbowl in which the Saints, the team that defeated their beloved men in purple, take on the favoured Indianapolis Colts in Miami (kick-off at 5:15 or so).

It should be a humdinger. Playing at half-time of the game, by the way, is a venerable U.K. rock band. I'm sure you'll recognize them by their song "Baba O'Riley" (YouTube)


Saturday Morning Cartoon

Today's animated film is the Oscar nominated animated short Granny O'Grimm's Sleeping Beauty.

It's the story of Granny who torments her granddaughter with a bedtime story.

Pick of the Day: Mixed Bag

Got a couple of boozefests going on today. Out at Conexus Arts Centre there's Festiv-Ale. I've never been. But I would assume a not insignificant amount of beer gets quaffed. Then there's the Mid-Winter Celtic Festival. This afternoon, there's a Kitchen Party at O'Hanlon's Pub with music, dancing and merriment, then there's an evening ceilidh at the Exchange with yet more music, more dancing and more merriment.

On the sports side of the ledger, the surging Regina Pats (don't know who he is, but that's one of them pictured above, unless he's been traded since I borrowed this shot for publicity purposes or otherwise left the team, in which case I apologize) play host to the Kootenay Ice. At the Sherwood Sports Centre, the University of Regina Cougar men's hockey team host the University of Manitoba Bisons. And on campus, the Cougar women and men's basketball teams host the University of Winnipeg Wespersons. So plenty of stuff going on.


Two types of adult men in this world ...

Those who have prostate cancer, and those who are worried as hell about getting prostate cancer. Best wishes for a speedy recovery, Jack. (Kady O'Malley's CBC politics blog)

Jack Layton Has Prostate Cancer

Photo by Darrol Hofmeister, sharpshooter photography

The breaking story is on CBC here. And the Globe and Mail has the story here.

Pick of the Day: Daphne Odjig

Born in the village of Wikwemikong on Manitoulin Island in Ontario in 1919 of mixed Odawa-Potawatomi and English-Canadian heritage, Daphne Odjig (pictured) has been a practicing artist most of her life. In this touring exhibition which was curated by Bonnie Devine, and which opens at the MacKenzie Art Gallery with a reception tonight at 7:30 p.m., 58 drawings and paintings spanning more than 40 years of artistic production will be on display.

As Devine recounts in a catalogue essay, Odjig spent the first 45 years of her life minimizing and even denying her aboriginal heritage. But in 1964 she returned to her birthplace to dance in the annual powow, and from that point forward she became a leading member of the First Nations art community. Along with contemporaries like Norval Morrisseau and Alex Janvier, she founded the Professional Native Indian Artists Association in 1973. The next year, she opened the first Canadian commercial gallery representing First Nations artists in Winnipeg.

Prior to coming to Regina, this retrospective was shown at the Art Gallery of Sudbury, the Kamloops Art Gallery, the National Gallery in Ottawa, and at the Institute of American Indian Arts Museum in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Now 90 years old, Odjig will be in attendance at tonight's reception. In addition to that event, there's a panel discussion at the gallery Saturday from 2-4 p.m. entitled Trailblazers that looks at the important role joint artist-curators like Odjig have played in the growth of First Nations and Metis art practice in Canada in the last forty years.

We'll have more on this exhibition in an upcoming issue of prairie dog. It runs at the MacKenzie until May 2.
Later that night, The Get Down and Royal Red Brigade are rocking O'Hanlon's Pub. Also tonight, Rah Rah and This Machine is a Fountain ae at the Distrikt.


Coming in March

Today an email reached our office from SaskMusic announcing the artists who had been selected to have tracks included on a compilation CD of Saskatchewan music due out in March -- just in time, SaskMusic notes, for Canada Music Week and SXSW in Austin.

Out of over 100 submissions province-wide, the jury selected the following artists: Volcanoless in Canada, The Deep Dark Woods, Library Voices, Carbon Dating Service, Rah Rah, Violent Kin, Shuyler Jansen, Codie Prevost, Wyatt, The Sheepdogs, Jordan Cook, Ultimate Power Duo, Karrnnel, Def 3 (pictured), Alexis Normand, Jen Lane, Jeffery Straker, Jason Plumb & the Willing and Semko/Fontaine/Taylor.

I don't know if they submitted, but missing Regina bands that come instantly to mind for me include Hot Blood Bombers, WestPort Murders and The Polymaths. Anyone else have any thoughts?

Pick of the Day: Delhi 2 Dublin

I have a story to tell. At this year's Regina Folk Festival, I arrived a little late to Victoria Park on Friday night when this Vancouver-based world-beat ts group with bhangra and celtic influences performed on the main stage, so I only caught half their set. I was backstage then, and from what I could see, the crowd was really into it. Then later I had a very nice chat with the fiddle player Kytami where we talked a bit about the band's origins in Vancouver, and their potential to become popular in large chunks of the world due to their cross-cultural appeal.

How calculated that all is, I'm not really sure. But it certainly reflects a trend that is surely only going to accelerate as society becomes increasingly globalized. For a band like Delhi 2 Dublin, who play the Exchange tonight as part of the Regina Folk Festival Concert Series, the world truly is their oyster. Here's the video for their song "Apples" off their self-titled 2007 debut album. (YouTube)

Also, at the Lazy Owl tonight there's a benefit for earthquake relief in Haiti that serves as a wrap-up to two weeks of fundraising by university students to raise money to send to the beleaguered country. Doors open at 8:30 p.m., with entertainment starting at 9:15. First up is an acoustic set from what organizers describe as "very special guests", followed by a second acoustic set by Valerie McLeod (aka Val Halla). Rounding out the evening will be a set by OYE!. $5 at the door.


When sign design goes awry

I'm sure I can't be the first person to have noticed the Pimpark sign near the corner of Broad and 11th, though I'm not sure if Pimpark noticed it when they were designing this sign (or the logos on their website, for that matter).


Perhaps it's a reference to the ever-popular 'Pimp my Ark' chapter of Genesis wherein Noah totally puts a 52-inch plasma TV in the back of that shit ... for the unicorns, you understand.

Or maybe it simply proves that no matter how cute a company's pseudo-manga-inspired mascot is, no one is above a freudian slip.

Nonetheless, legend has it that if you stand near this building and listen closely on Monday mornings, you can hear a voice in the wind asking "Where my money at?"

More News Room Shenanigans

I'm not saying this wouldn't happen at prairie dog. A few years ago when I used to do the film listings I ignited a storm of Keeley Hazell (pictured) Googling with one blurb I wrote. But we never had cameras rolling as this Aussie TV station did when a news staffer decided to check out steamy nude photos from Aussie supermodel Miranda Kerr's recent cover shoot for GQ magazine. Hilarious. (Break)

Climate Cover-up Author at Selam Tonight

Richard Littlemore, one of the authors of Climate Cover-Up will be speaking tonight at Selam Restaurant (2115 Broad St). His talk runs from 7 to 9pm and the event is free.

This should be a nice palate cleanser after last year's assault of the climate crack-pots courtesy the Frontier Centre for Public Policy.

Littlemore is an environmental journalist who's worked at newspapers such as the Ottawa Citizen and the Winnipeg Tribune. He's also one of the minds behind DeSmog Blog, an invaluable resource for anyone interested in finding out about the climate change denial industry and its efforts to obstruct the work of legitimate scientists.

For our climate change feature, we interviewed Littlemore's Climate Cover-Up co-author, James Hoggan. You can read the complete transcript of that interview here.

Pick of the Day: A Brush With Genius

For my Monday pick-of-the-day, I featured Michelle Provost's show Selling Out at the Dunlop Art Gallery. With all the action figures, comic book covers, artist trading cards and sliding puzzles that she's assembled, there must be over 200 artists represented. Oddly, despite the vast catalogue of artists, which cover many of the most famous names in art history, there seems to be two curious ommissions.

Given that the show, at least on some level, critiques the way that the arts help sustain and even fuel consumer culture Salvador Dali is conspicuous by his absence. Truly, if you look up the word "whore" in an art dictionary, you will find his picture. Yet as far as I've been able to discern in two reasonably thorough visits to the show, he's not mentioned.

Neither did I detect any reference to Vincent van Gogh. That's surprising because among artists he is virtually universally revered as the antithesis of Dali-- an artist with impeccable integrity. The man, according to legend anyway, never sold a painting in his lifetime. Pretty hard to accuse him of selling out, isn't it? Which is perhaps why Provost seems to have elected not to include him.

If you're hungering for a van Gogh fix, though, you can always see this Imax flick which opens Feb. 5 at the Saskatchewan Science Centre. An admittedly unusual, but potentially intriguing, cinematic excercise, Brush With Genius retraces van Gogh's steps as he painted some of his most famous masterpieces -- first in his native Netherlands, where conditions are generally dark and gloomy; then later in sun-drenched Arles, Saint Remy and Auvers-sur-Oise.

Here's the trailer (YouTube). And for a bit of comic relief, here's the trailer for Vincent Minnelli's 1957 biopic Lust For Life which starred Kirk Douglas as van Gogh and Anthony Quinn as Paul Gaugin. (YouTube)