Six In The (Early) Evening

I’m figuring all your regular Six writers are busy with budget stuff, and you’ll no doubt get blow-by-blow details about that later. Here are some other recent developments.

1. GATORADE LOGO OR WHITE POWER SYMBOL?: A witness hate-crime trial in New York State said the defendant got the idea for one of his homemade tattoos from prison TV drama Oz and didn’t know it was a white-power symbol, says the New York Times. Another witness says the defendant knew. Either way, the kid’s dad is pissed.

2. SASK. TEEPEE RINGS DESTROYED: According to the Leader-Post, a SaskPower contractor destroyed about seven teepee rings near Willow Bunch because he took a shortcut. A damn shame.

3. ITALIAN-CANADIAN PAPER’S TURMOIL: Corriere Canadese, Canada’s daily Italian paper, was going to get $2.8 million dollars from the Italian government. No more – now, that’s getting cut in half, according to the Globe and Mail. I checked out the paper’s website but, as a guy with no Italian experience, I was lost. Everyone on the front page seemed to be smiling, at least.

4. “MISHANDLING” SEEMS LIKE SUCH AN UNDERSTATEMENT: Pope Benedict XVI has accepted the resignation of a bishop of a diocese in Southern Ireland, reports the New York Times. Bishop John Magee had allegedly failed to deal with priests abusing children.

5. A NEW MEANING FOR THE PHRASE “GOOGLE BOMB”: It’s old news by now that Google is pulling its mainland China service. It’s also nothing new that the Chinese government sensors the hell out of the Internet, with or without Google’s help. A recent Guardian UK article about the topic is notable for being a good round-up and for just having an awesome title: “Google row: China’s army of censors battles to defeat the internet.”

6. ROBO-BABY: A group of Japanese students have created a robot baby. Yahoo! News UK reports that “it would be great if some people started feeling that they wanted to have their own baby, if they started feeling that working is not everything.” Watching at the video, that terrifying face beamed into the inside of a silicone balloon just terrifies me. I’m considering running out to get a vasectomy as we speak if this is the result of procreation.

Protesters Stop Coulter’s Talk

I might be biting some Six in the Morning material, but I just thought I would draw everyone’s attention to the Fulcrum‘s great article on conservative pundit Ann Coulter‘s talk at the University of Ottawa getting cancelled.

As the Dog Blog noted previously, Coulter was already stirring up controversy before arriving, both by reputation and by her claiming to be the victim of a hate crime. Her talk was supposed to talk place last night at the U of O’s Marion Hall. After a fire alarm was pulled and protesters made a point of disrupting the event further, it was cancelled due to security concerns.

The Fulcrum got a lot of the right interviews, including one with a great neighborhood crazy:

Frances Ladouceur, another Ottawa resident, was not able to get into the event after the protesters pulled the fire alarm.

“I’m upset that a bunch of punks … that obviously aren’t from this country, they’re Arabic or whatever —they ruined it for everyone else,” she said. “It is a communist university and I will never send my children to this university.”

The National Post has some Coulter reaction, featuring a terrible, terrible pun on her part. (“A-Houle”? Really?)

UPDATE: The Fulcrum has just put up an editorial on the matter. Being the U of O’s student paper, they’ve got a unique perspective on the situation.

Hawksley Workman at Darke Hall

Hawksley Workman at Darke HallWhen a show starts with a career-spanning piano medley, you know you’re in for a different kind of concert. You also get the idea that whatever the pianist’s covering there won’t make another appearance.

Both were true of Hawksley Workman’s March 19 show at Darke Hall.

The show started for the sold-out crowd at a little after 9 p.m., and wouldn’t let up until just about two and half hours later.

After the piano intro, Hawksley took the stage, bouncing around and already showcasing his incredibly-versatile singing voice while not being one for sustained guitar playing. That would change, as he got deeper into his new material.

This was probably best illustrated when he left the stage for a costume change, coming back in a sequined jumpsuit and big, industrial ear protectors. That’s when shit got loud and when his wild solos came out.

Hawksley and his band did an impressive job at reinterpreting some of his older tunes, which weren’t numerous in the set but were prominent. Most notable was the version of “Lethal and Young,” the closer for his 2001 disc, (Last Night We Were) The Delicious Wolves. They used it to close out the main set before the two encores, and turned into an anthem of Queen proportions. And Hawksley has one of the few voices that truly pull that off.

Some audience came at least in part for Hawksley’s idiosyncratic stage manner. His stories were long and would weave in and out of each other, covering topics like the pop hit that never was, the show he missed in Europe due to a fear of planes, and how the crowd felt “respectful.” An abbreviated cover of Prince’s “Raspberry Beret” didn’t hurt his quirky tone, either.

This was part of the Regina Folk Festival Concert Series. Before the show began, RFF artistic director Sandra Butel mentioned that they had a tough time booking Darke Hall, and then people should let the University of Regina know how happy they were to see a show there. It’s a real shame that that’s the case – Darke Hall, from atmosphere to acoustics, is one of Regina’s most distinctive venues. Hopefully, the RFF can put more shows on there.

Jason Collett: No Bum Bags

Jason Collett on fanny packs.

Jason Collett I talked with Arts and Crafts recording artist Jason Collett yesterday over the phone while he was down at South by Southwest. Even though he had a show in an hour and a half, he was more than willing to answer ridiculous questions.

I had read this blog post from someone on the tour, saying Collett had received a fanny pack as a gift from a fan. Logically, I was curious: is Collett a fanny pack kinda guy?

He couldn’t remember having received a fanny pack at all when I asked him, though it doesn’t seem like it would make much of a difference.

“I’m not a fanny pack kinda guy,” says Collett. “You wouldn’t catch me dead with one.”

Keep it mind, folks, if you were planning on bringing him a gift when he’s at the Exchange on April 2. Check out his MySpace where you can listen to all of his new album, Rat a Tat Tat, and watch out for a story on him in an upcoming prairie dog.

Gaming for smarty pants

Local video game site Vigigames is declared rad.

"Games in context"
Video game criticism website Vigigames

“Bioshock”, “education”, and “textual analysis”.

Those are three tags you’re not likely to see on a Dog Blog post. You aren’t even likely to see them on most video game sites. Local site Vigigames is the place that rectifies that.

Their tagline “Games in context” sums up their project pretty well. The three contributors – Matthew Blackwell, John Cameron, and Christian Hardy – are trying to talk about video games from a critical perspective that takes into account scholarly theory and thoughts other than “the graphics are sweet”.

One of their more recent posts, “Game study; or, will we play Bioshock in classrooms?” (which has all the tags listed above) is a good place to start:

I bring up Bioshock not because I think that it’ll be studied in schools (well, maybe in universities one day. Too much gore for high schools), but because it sort of represents that hope that games will, one day, be self-aware enough to recognize their potential for a deeper insight into the human condition. A teacher shouldn’t use a particular book because it’s canonized – the book is a means to an end. By studying books and literature, the student is exercising their literacy skills and applying them in ways to examine the themes. This is why in my classroom, I often use unconventional texts, including movie trailers, advertisements and radio broadcasts. Yet, to some degree, this is still playing it safe.

There’s obviously a certain stigma with using videogames in the classroom. They’re so entertainment-oriented and, more specifically, product oriented that few would even be worth studying as a class. Bioshock is an exception, obviously, but more often than not, developers aren’t interested in making games that would require deep textual analysis. Not to mention that few people would understand why one would use videogames as a teaching tool – parents and administrators, specifically.

Review: Alice in Wonderland

Hella underwhelmingJust read through the prairie dog‘s review of Alice in Wonderland, and I can agree on this much: this movie falls flat.

Burton seems to have just given up on making a film that’s even entertaining. When Alice is amusing, he fouls it up and destroys any semblance of tone he’s build. (SPOILER EXAMPLE: There’s a breakdance routine.)

The movie is frustratingly inconsistent in how it imagines Wonderland visually and as a place. The contradiction of a too-concrete world divorced from reality would be impressive if it didn’t drive me fucking nuts.

Burton normally succeeds visually – just think of the wonderfully-shot black and white Ed Wood or the contrasting broken-down mansion and suburban ideal in Edward Scissorhands. The visuals in Alice show the same indecision that damn the rest of the of this movie. He can’t decide whether to make the film a more realistic Alice in Wonderland or a complete flight of fancy.

Plus, they run a song sung by Avril Lavigne about Alice over the credits. C’mon – that’s just adding insult to injury.

Regina A Winner, According To The Sumner Brothers

The Sumner Brothers enjoyed playing in Regina and seem like rad dudes.

The Sumner Brothers play the ExchangePlenty of bands send out an e-mail before they play in a city. Few e-mail after.

The Sumner Brothers, a Vancouver folk group, opened for the Deep Dark Woods on Saturday, March 6 at the Exchange. A few days after, they sent out an e-mail with the subject line “Regina Wins!”

The e-mail said:

We really had a great time @ The Exchange. The crowd, never having heard us before was so welcoming, made us feel right at home. So thank-you for that. And the late night Denny’s was a good time too…If you ever wanna see some shit get weird…yeah.

We hope to see you all again real soon Regina Folks. Until then take good care, and come say hello on facebook & myspace and all that.

I couldn’t make it out to this show, unfortunately, but it’s always great to see a band enthused about having played in Regina. Rock on, Sumner Brothers!

Review: Under the Dome

Stephen King's Under the Dome
Stephen King's latest novel, Under the Dome

Like a lot of people, I first heard about Under the Dome, Stephen King’s latest novel, because of its door-stop size, a staggering 1,074 pages. However, what sold me on the novel early on was the cover.

With Just After Sunset, King had moved away from terrible illustrated covers like he had for Cell and Duma Key. Originally, King had wanted the Under the Dome cover to have no text on it at all, but even with his name and the title on the front and the spine, the image is suitably epic for a book of this scope (though Whitworth, being the contrarian Hater that he is, wasn’t impressed when I showed it to him).

Under the Dome‘s Chester’s Mill is a Maine town put under a bubble. A barrier drops down over the town, cutting it off from the rest of the U.S.A. The immediate effects are calamatous – a plane explodes against the barrier, cars crash into it, and body parts severed.

In the wake, “Big” Jim Rennie, the town’s second selectman, starts making moves to consolidate his power. At the same time, Dale Barbara, sometimes-drifter, Iraq-war vet, and the hero of the novel, is tapped by the military to try and keep things under control while the Dome is still up.

Of course, things are never under control. This is a Stephen King novel, after all.

The human reaction to this mysterious confinement is the focus of King’s novel. There’s nothing supernatural to the real horrors of this book. Ignorance rules and drives people to turn against those who were once their friends through self-centeredness or mob mentality.

A lot of seemingly-awful characters are fleshed out and made more sympathetic as the novel goes on. Rennie, however, is mostly a constant. He’s the only one who approaches big-E Evil over the course of the book. A lot of the terrible events following the graphic set-up of the Dome is due to the monster of Rennie’s ambition. If you wanted to find a critique in this book, it would be in the ignorant, exclusionary, and power-hungry desires of Big Jim.

Road Report: Rah Rah

Rah Rah are playing in Regina again after touring nationally.

Rah Rah are playing at the Exchange on Friday, March 5

Since local act Rah Rah are returning to Regina right away, I messaged guitarist/vocalist Marshall Burns, asking what their best show on the road has been this tour:

“Ottawa was pretty memorable cause we had a wicked party after with the Gramercy Riffs. Our awesome friends from Newfoundland. Though I did spill beer all over my amp right before we played so it shorted out and I had to borrow someone else’s last minute…”

Rah Rah is doing a Haiti benefit concert at the Exchange tonight (Friday, March 5) starting at 7 p.m. Other acts include Tinsel Trees, Geronimo, Black Drink Crier, and DJs ThrillHouse and Panda Magic. Maybe take the opportunity to ask Marshall how his amp’s doing.

‘Stache Judging: Herbert Putnam

Calling Whitworth out on his ‘stache judging skills.

Badass librarian, badass moustache
Herbert Putnam, Librarian of Congress from 1899 to 1939, definitely knew where all the best moustache books were at

Whitworth’s been bragging about how he’s the ultimate judge of what makes an great moustache.

Well, just like he was wrong when he said the new Stephen King cover was nothing special, I’m going to say he’s wrong here.

I’m defying Whitworth to show me a man who rocks a moustache better than Herbert Putnam, the eighth Librarian of Congress and the man behind the Library of Congress system of classification.

Not only did this fellow rock his ‘stache well, but he embodied everything that makes this facial hair choice so wonderful: he was decisive, and he got shit done.

Better Twitter and Longer!

The prairie dog isn’t the only one to get their Twitter password phished.

If you’re on Twitter, you’ve probably received a message along the lines of “i’ve been having better sex and longer with this here” in the past day or so. Hell, you may have even received it from the prairie dog‘s Twitter account.

Our bad. But, at least we’re in good company, according to the Guardian UK.

Deep Dark Despair

Saskatoon folk-band records song about the closing of Good Time Charlie’s

Saskatoon's Deep Dark Woods
The Deep Dark Woods are releasing a song about the closing of Good Time Charlie's

Some have heard enough talk about the Plains Hotel closing down, as evidenced by this past issue’s Queen City Confidential. But some are still bummed about it, including the Deep Dark Woods. The Saskatoon folkers even wrote a song about the end of Good Time Charlie’s for a CBC competition.

From the Sheaf: “Ryan played there a long time ago,” said drummer and vocalist Lucas Geotz, while waiting by their busted-up tour van in Lethbridge, AB. “I’ve never been there. Chris and Jeff and Ryan went down there right before it closed. And now someone is doing a documentary on the place. They are tearing it down and putting up condos — of course.”

They’re releasing the song on a seven-inch at a March 5 show at Amigo’s in Saskatoon, so you could probably pick up a copy at their Regina show at the Exchange the next night.

You can hear the song, “Charlie’s (Is Coming Down)”, here.