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.