R.I.P. Jason Molina of Magnolia Electric Co., 1974 – 2013

A career spanning nearly twenty years and almost as many records came to a tragic close this weekend as Songs:Ohia and Magnolia Electric Co. frontman Jason Molina died. He was 39, he hailed from Lorena, Ohio, and in the words of Bottomless Pit frontman Tim Midgett, he “sang like a fucking bird“.

I’m in the middle of writing an article for this upcoming issue, but I’m having a hard time focusing on it. This is devastating. Molina’s songs were so uniquely brilliant and beautiful and brimming with humanity that the news of his loss makes it hard to care about anything else. A 2012 tour documentary, here on Vimeo, captured Magnolia Electric Co. playing in Saskatoon, and folks on my Facebook feed today mentioned how it managed to show a brief, electrifying glimpse of a captivating performer and his irreplaceable voice. Other friends of mine were acquaintances of his; to a person, they’re crushed. He died too young, and he and his work will both be missed.

Here’s “Farewell Transmission” off the masterful 2003 LP, Magnolia Electric Co.

Six In The Morning: Drill Baby Drill

6-in-the-morning1 ONE HAND WASHES THE OTHER Brad Wall wonders aloud why Thomas Mulclair has such a problem with Canada’s resource sector by decrying the hilariously unnecessary Keystone XL pipeline, then tells us that Canada will soon be trading even more of our natural energy sector resources to a brutal dictatorship with an awful environmental record supported by an equally awful labour system that, because it benefits wealthy contemporary imperialists, is reported on as progress. You know, classic Canadian values!

2 SPEAKING OF KEYSTONE XL Hey, you know the State Department document up there, the one that concludes that Keystone won’t really help the American economy (and, because Keystone-related job creation is based largely on the actual construction of the pipeline, one can conclude it won’t do much for our economy, either)? Well, it might actually be bald-faced oil industry shilling. Surprise!

3 RENT REVERSAL Remember that 77% rent increase facing one Cathedral-area apartment block? Well, here’s a rare story of a landlord capitulating on an unpopular and cruel rent increase! Granted, it’s only because apparently the Saskatchewan Rental Housing Industry Association talked to the landlord in question that it happened and presumably said, “DON’T DO THIS BECAUSE EVERYONE HATES US ENOUGH ALREADY,” causing the rental company, Calgary-based Castle Mountain Properties, to “realize that increases of more than 10% are not typical,” which how could you blame them for not realizing that almost doubling someone’s rent in the first rent increase in years is not a typical thing, on account of they aren’t based in our province and thus are unfamiliar with our quaint small-town ways??? I hate this city.

4 GARNEAU OUT Apparently a Trudeau LPC leadership win is a “fait accompli.”

5 RODMAN HOSPITALITY TOUR CONTINUES Today the Dunkistanian Ambassador visits The Vatican. Hooray!

6 LIFE ON MARS Feels like we’ve been over this but sure, cool. Any excuse to post Bowie.

University Of Regina Board Of Governors Chair Paul McLellan Is A Very Confused Man, Please Give Him Some Space

Right on fucking cue:

If, as was approved in a council motion, there’s a request for publishing the salaries of everybody at the university, Paul McLellan wondered to what purpose this would be put? Would its release conflict with privacy laws? And isn’t much of this information – specifically, that covered by the three collective agreements for employees at the university: academic, support/maintenance and adminstrative – already available?

Holy crow. Look, dude, pardon my brusqueness, but I downed about half a litre of wine last night and so I do NOT have patience for your bullshit this morning. I am going to tear you to shreds in this post. I don’t know if you think a Twitter is something you put on breakfast cereal to give yourself more vitamins but if you do know what it is definitely don’t check mine this morning because after I finish this post I am going to be even meaner to you, and I promise that only part of it is because I am still angry that you never wrote me back after I gave you all of those nice letters. Although one of your representatives did invite me to ask permission to attend a board meeting and argue my case. After I graduated. And after I organized a sit-in and had security physically bar me from your boardroom. You make me furious.

First off, holy shit, were you busy playing Words With Friends when they sorted this all out? Item one, people would read those salaries, compare them to other salaries, and then try and figure out whether those salaries were proportionally fair and in line with the limited budget the university is able to access in this, probably the worst time for public universities since back when the biggest threat to their livelihood was Visigoths sacking them and burning down their library. Second, the release of salary information would not conflict with privacy laws; the president of the university said as much in response to someone asking that exact question. Do you not pay attention when Vianne Timmons is talking? That is very rude. Board meetings must be hell. I don’t know because I’m not allowed in them but now I’m imagining everyone throwing paper airplanes around while the three adults in the room try to sort out the horrible budget crisis facing every post-secondary institution in North America. No wonder you don’t want anyone else to see these meetings.

After the jump there is much more, because the Leader-Post piece goes on in this fashion for an incredulity-stretching amount of copy:

Continue reading “University Of Regina Board Of Governors Chair Paul McLellan Is A Very Confused Man, Please Give Him Some Space”

The U Of R University Council Met For The First Time In Two Decades And We Were There

News (university council)Last night, the University of Regina’s University Council – a body made up (in theory) of all faculty members, senior administrators, and students – met for the first time in 20 years, in response to the threat of serious cuts to all departments. While no official recordings were allowed, a small prairie dog contingent was there nevertheless, frantically taking notes and trying to keep up with the meeting. Of the six motions passed, only one – a motion to suspend meetings of the Executive Council, a smaller body of University Council delegates empowered by but subsidiary to the larger body – failed to pass. The list of recommendations university president Vianne Timmons has to take to the Board of Governors, however, is still pretty extensive:

-Freezing of out-of-scope administrative hiring and non-contractual salary increases and bonuses pending an external financial review from 2000-2012;

-Development of a 3-year plan for “reducing the cost of university management, including the institution of a hiring committee (one half of which is comprised of in-scope faculty) to approve new positions”;

-Development of another 3-year plan to “[restore] the university’s academic mission to its proper place as first priority of its budgets”;

-Return to the practice of publishing an annual Budget Book, which expands upon and explains budgetary decisions – and, after an amendment, also includes all faculty, administration, and staff salaries;

-Creation of a Budget Committee of Council, focused on advising the administration on aspects of the budget as they pertain specifically to academic matters;
-a halt on structural changes to faculties and departments until the University Council approves them;

-And development of a “think-tank” to “devise strategies for effective fiscal management within this framework.”

Below the jump, some quick observations on the meeting itself.

Continue reading “The U Of R University Council Met For The First Time In Two Decades And We Were There”

Six In The Morning: Today In Dead People

Six! 1 OIL BE SEEING YOU Sort of interesting that before Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez is even in the ground oil companies are preparing to step over his corpse in order to plunder the South American nation’s oil riches, no? Especially given that he dedicated a significant portion of his political career, for better or worse, to the country’s oil sovereignty – and, thus, to improving its quality of life? (By the way, that last link to The Nation should be followed with a link to the magazine’s posthumously-curated selection of pieces on Chavez; it’s all robust, nuanced reportage that goes much deeper than the reductive right-wing “friend of Castro” meme that dominated most debate about Chavez during his lifetime.)

2 WE KNEW THIS IRONY-LADEN DAY WOULD COME I grew up watching a lot of WWF wrestling and so I remember manager/character Paul Bearer (né William Alvin Moody) pretty well. He was an ominous figure, but also sort of goofy and campy, and he helped bring a number of popular wrestlers to the forefront, especially widely-known characters like The Undertaker. Like many other legacy wrestling figures, he also worked hard and somewhat thanklessly behind the scenes in the league’s booking department, putting years of time in front of audiences towards trying to create fun shows. He passed away on Tuesday, and if you were 13 around the same time I was, you’ll probably miss him, too.

3 THE MORE THINGS CHANGE A Canadian contender for the papacy sat down for an interview with Peter Mansbridge and said, predictably, that many of the Catholic Church’s backwards and unpopular views on social issues (gay marriage, abortion, female priesthood, etc.) were “secondary,” which probably comes as a huge surprise to one or two poor, deluded progressive Catholics. Today we are thinking of them.

4 DOES THAT MEAN IT’S EASIER FOR ME TO MOVE TO CHICAGO Toronto is now the fourth-largest city in North America, bumping Chicago down to fifth place. The other three cities in the top five are Mexico City, New York, and Los Angeles, which is sort of a “holy shit” set of cities, if you think about it. Anyway, it’s still pretty funny that 2.79 million people somehow settled on Rob Ford as their mayor.

5 DISSENT DISSEMINATED The Leader-Post’s headline for its coverage of CUPE’s town hall event on the city’s wastewater treatment plan P3 is, like, super-ballsy? I mean it’s an accurate summary of the town hall but still, I didn’t expect to see a daily newspaper in this town even inadvertently tell citizens to rally against the city’s dumb, wasteful private-public partnership for a vital public works project. Everyone’s just full of surprises today!

6 IS SOMEONE’S UNLUCKY NUMBER This story of a Regina business owner who’s had six separate people crash their cars into his building in almost as many years is – in Buzzfeed terms – “:(” and “Awww”. (Also, as someone hilariously points out pretty much right away in the comments section, Regina’s car drivers are careless, crash-happy putzes and somehow it’s motorcycle riders whose insurance rates are going up? Very chill, Saskatchewan.)

BONUS Check it out, it’s an image gallery of Drake and his entourage listlessly throwing money around in a strip club as if it was some kind of contractual obligation. Dude, you’re making it rain in the club, stop looking at your fucking phone.

It Is Hugely Shocking That A Collaborative Venture Between The University Of Regina And Big Oil Would End In A Conflict-Of-Interest Charge

Big Oil is super stoked on the idea of carbon capture because it means that they can behave as if the tar sands aren’t abhorrent pollution zones spewing out garbage into our atmosphere like a factory in a cartoon belching smoke. The government proudly touts the International Performance Assessment Centre for the Geologic Storage of Carbon Dioxide as an integral part of the overal carbon-capture program attracting international talent and corporate funding to the University of Regina – which, to be fair, is true, but the talent and the funding winds up staying in that high-profile, well-funded venture, so it thrives while the rest of the university flounders irrespective of student demand.

So it is with no small amount of grim schadenfreude that I’m posting the link to today’s CBC story on IPAC, in which it is alleged that over 60 per cent of the centre’s budget has been going to pay for its computer system in a bit of backroom gladhanding between the men running IPAC and the technology services company they happened to sit on the board for:

The two men running IPAC in its startup phase — Malcolm Wilson and Ian Bailey — also worked at the university. Wilson was director of the office of energy and environment, while Bailey was the director of the university-industry liaison office.

They asked CVI to run IPAC’s computers — a sole-sourced agreement where there was no competitive bidding and no written contract.

“I guess you would probably characterize it as sort of a handshake agreement,” Dybwad said.

Then Dybwad made her most troubling discovery: not only were Wilson and Bailey managing IPAC, they were also founding directors of CVI and were on its board for months.


The University of Regina admits that it made some mistakes.

“We found in our review we did some things that were a little loose and we’ve tightened up policies and procedures,” said Barb Pollock, the U of R’s vice-president of external relations.

When I last spoke with Tom Chase, the U of R’s provost, he assured me that corporate donations and corporate-funded ventures at the university had no impact on curriculum. Which is fine, and I’m willing to believe him – just because the university teaches carbon capture and oil companies fund other carbon-capture ventures on campus doesn’t necessarily mean anything other than the university and oil companies have mutual goals of training and educating people in the specialized field of carbon capture.

But there’s a lot of problems with partnerships like this, and the above story – if it turns out to be true – should be seen as a cautionary tale. Capitalism is an old boys’ club, and the club members will always, always find ways to turn the public trust to their advantage. The U of R can tighten up their policies as much as they want, but as long as universities are forced to make partnerships with business as opposed to make partnerships with businesses from a position of fiscal comfort, shit like this is going to happen.

Six in the Morning: State of the Six

1 WELP Human Rights Watch has been tracking the RCMP’s treatment of the Aboriginal community in general and their women in particular. Now, they’re calling for an inquiry into the RCMP’s relationship with the Aboriginal community, alleging everything from a lack of care w/r/t disappearing Aboriginal women to mistreatment during arrests and everything in between. The Mounties want the complainants to come forward first. Because, you know, I’m sure these women are totally unafraid of reprisal or anything.

2 STATE OF THE FOUGE-ION Any excuse to say “the Fouge.” Mayor Fougere will be delivering a State of the City address tomorrow, and, in what I guess is an attempt to ape on a really rudimentary level the punditry furor that always surrounds an American State of the Union address, the Leader-Post got some serious punditing done to tell us that, yeah, housing will probably figure into the address.

Also, Leader-Post, we need to talk. Michael Fougere is a long-time counselor and now the mayor of this city, so he’s been in the news locally for a while and will be in the news for a long time hence. So, y’know, maybe this stock photo of him –

– all I’m saying is, maybe you could do better.

3 STATE OF THE OTHER THING I mean, State of the Union addresses are pageantry, but that’s a problem with them, not an excuse for not following through. And last night Obama proposed some significant stuff for the middle class and for minorities, so it’s worth remembering those and watching as political children like odious fucker Mitch McConnell and his weird turtle face fail to act like adults and instead obstruct any legislative attempts at fixing the economy, enshrining humanist values in legislation, and anything else that they would see as an “Obama win” as opposed to just sensible behaviour.

On the plus side, at least the official Republican response to the SotU gifted us with this wonderful animated GIF of Marco Rubio looking like a total herb –

– and, as Gawker writer “Mobute Sese Seko” (not his real name) puts it, probably does not bode well for Rubio’s 2016.

4 ATTACK OF THE DRONES Al Jazeera’s got a piece by UC Santa Barbara prof Lisa Hajjar on Obama’s failure to address drones in his SotU. Of course, you’re probably wondering why this isn’t in the above bit on the SotU itself, and that’s because I wanted to set aside some space to point out that, y’know, drones have particular relevance to Canadians crossing the border. And, though our own drone program has stalled a bit, Canada’s military is looking like an increasingly attractive customer for drone manufacturers. Drones!

5 PROBABLY IMPORTANT POLITICAL WONKERY The NDP is calling for an investigation into whether a section of the Department of Justice act calling for the Minister of Justice to review every piece of legislation and ensure that it doesn’t violate the Charter of Rights is, uh, actually being followed.

It’s mostly just Parliamentary housekeeping – the justice minister is supposed to submit to Parliament in the event that the legislation is kosher, as well – but nevertheless, if the Justice committee does decide to dig into this procedural stuff, it could lead to a change in the way the House does business. (Alternatively.)

6 AGE OF ADZ Maria Popova of Brain Pickings is sort of the worst – tepid middlebrow crap to make smug technocrats feel better about their meaningless lives, sort of like a one-woman TED Talks series in blog form – and personally I revel in anything that takes her down a peg. But this open letter published on Tumblr about her blog, affiliate advertising, and the relationship between ad dollars and content – and, more importantly, being honest about all of those things – is an interesting read, especially if you’re a smug techocrat dumbass who spends all his time on the Internet thinking about stuff like this (hi it’s me).

Guns Don’t Kill People, Video Games That Surreptitiously Fund Arms Manufacturers Kill People

Eurogamer has one of the best investigative journalism pieces you’ll read this month: a pages-long exposé on the profits the military-industrial complex manages to wring from video games. Even if you aren’t a gamer, it’s worth a read; gaming is, at this point, a multi-billion dollar industry, and so where its money goes matters.

Don’t take my word for it. Look at the piece:

But today we know that a portion of every dollar spent on triple-A military-themed video games flows into the pockets of small arms manufacturers, either directly through licence payments, or indirectly through advertising. These beneficiaries include Barrett in the US and FN in Belgium. They may include other controversial arms dealers, such as Israel Weapon Industries, creator of the TAR-21, which appears in Call of Duty. Such deals politicise video games in tangible yet hidden ways. Consumers have, for the past few years, unwittingly funded arms companies that often have their own military agendas.


“I know there’s a lot of concern about violence and I have the same concerns that anybody would have about the sustained use of guns and violence in video games,” [Oregon Senator Ginny Burdick] said. “But with regard to the use of licensed weapons in games? It looks to me like this is part of a much larger pattern to increase guns sales in any way possible.

And, well:

Not one of the publishers contacted for this article was willing to discuss the practice. (EA: “I’m afraid we can’t progress this.” Activision: “Not something we can assist with at present… My hands are tied.” Codemasters: “We’re focused on our racing titles these days.” Crytek: “We can’t help you with that request.” Sega: “[This] doesn’t sit comfortably.” Sony: “I can’t help with this I’m afraid.”)

Why are you still here and not reading the piece.

Six In The Morning: RIMShots

1 NEW BLACKBERRY I got a BlackBerry because my friends all wanted to use BBM to communicate. It worked for a while until everyone started getting iPhones. Now I only know two other people with BlackBerries and we communicate via regular text message, and so I’m basically stuck with this phone that I don’t even use for the single purpose that I got it and I can’t swap it out for a new phone yet because that would mean renewing my contract and I’m frankly not sure I want to do that. Anyway there’s a new BlackBerry being launched today, and also Research In Motion is just changing its name to Blackberry, for “brand consolidation” purposes but probably actually because the RIM brand has been the stock market equivalent of pokeweed berries since before some Millenials could even vote.

2 ENTOURAGE MOVIE Sometimes you go on Twitter and the trending topics everyone’s joking about basically merit a “Sure, whatever.”

3 GIFFORDS VS. GUN LOBBY Yep, watching former Democratic senator Gabrielle Giffords address the Senate Judiciary Committee on the topic of gun control legislation in the lingering wake of the Sandy Hook massacre is powerful. NRA president Wayne LaPierre – who you might remember from presiding over possibly the single most tone-deaf press conference of all time – will be testifying later today, if you’re the sort of person who finds gawking at train wrecks to be a fun use of your time.

4 TODAY IN “MURRAY MANDRYK IS NOT IMPRESSED” Mr. Mandryk is not impressed with Denise Batters’ appointment to Senate.

5 TODAY IN “JOHN FINDS TWO COLUMNISTS INTERESTING” Maclean’s columnist Colby Cosh weighs in on the Saskatchewan electoral boundaries dispute. Since the current electoral boundaries sooooooorta helped dictate the outcome of the last federal election, the controversy over the proposed changes is – as Cosh pegs it – some interesting politics. (Incidentally, if you haven’t read the dissenting commission member’s opinion on the boundary changes, you owe it to yourself.)

6 ARE YOU READING ‘THE CHINA DIARIES’? If not, you should be – the Globe & Mail’s series on the “new China” is a great glimpse at the ways modern Chinese navigate the tensions between their past traditions and their modern reality. Sometimes that translates into the concept of “rental boyfriends.” (And sometimes it takes nineties-remembering to a whole new level.)

BONUS: Okay, fine, here’s King’s Landing – the capital of Westeros – as meticulously built in Minecraft. Did you understand that whole sentence? Good, that means my nerd trap worked.

Hey, Saskatchewan Media: Stop Bungling The “Cuts To The Liberal Arts” Story

Does anyone else think it’s sort of irresponsible how e.g. the CBC are covering the potential outcome of the cuts being faced by both universities in this province? (Note: For largely sterling coverage, of course, you should probably go to the folks down on the immediate ground – the Carillon at the University of Regina, and the Sheaf at the University of Saskatchewan. Student newspapers serve a function, and in cases like this it’s all the more important.)

Like, to take Mothercorp specifically to task, they’ve gone ahead and posted, utterly without context, the salaries of administrators at both provincial universities. As if that’s the whole story. As if it wouldn’t take a full decade of not paying U of R president Vianne Timmons in order to match the university’s funding shortfall for 2012 alone. As if, as if, as if.

Look, okay, there’s something to be said for exercising administrative restraint. The university’s budget documents (forgive me for not linking them; I’m going to be posting something more substantial on this developing story here on the blog tomorrow, but I also head off to work in a little under eight hours and need at some point to sleep, something to which navigating the U of R’s arcane online backend is not conducive) reveal that non-academic salaries there have matched and ultimately surpassed academic salaries within the past decade. Okay, sure. My parents raised me to know what spending within one’s means look like, and that certainly isn’t it.

But anyone who can think critically – a liberal arts value, ironically enough – can see that there’s way more to this issue than simply a matter of that right-wing bugaboo, the Bloated Bureaucratic Salary. There’s issues of university transparency (Why is the public and university community dealing with the budget shortfall late and learning about cuts to departments secondhand?), issues of lax government funding (Why has the Saskatchewan government, which proudly touts the Saskatchewan advantage and the unimpeded, juggernaut-like growth of the Saskatchewan economy, been consistently shorting the universities by a paltry four million each for the last five years?), issues of societal attitude towards universities and university education (Why are the liberal arts and fine arts the first ones to get targeted? What purpose did changing the engineering faculty’s name to include the ominous-seeming qualified noun “Applied Sciences” serve? Who benefits from the university’s shift from philosophical educations to vocational ones? What benefits are there to that, exactly?).

If we care at all about the liberal arts and what they stand for – if we believe there is value in having people in our society trained in the vocation of parsing the world and trying to figure out ways to make the arcs of history and politics and language and thought make sense for the average person, the way we believe there is value in having people who know how to build wells and how to keep the books of a small business in line – then we won’t let the discussion stop at an infographic, and if I can be blunt then we shouldn’t allow the discussion to start there. Scrapping over a few thousand dollars a year isn’t going to change the way we perceive the humanities, nor is it going to save the humanities. What it will do is keep us from trying to figure out who benefits from the humanities being cut, being de-emphasized, being discarded and ultimately forgotten – and how they benefit.

Because someone does benefit. And if they cared enough about Saskatchewan to look at those infographics the CBC has posted, they’d probably laugh so hard they’d piss milk.

Beating A Dead Horse: Theatre Department Edition

The Carillon, the University of Regina student newspaper (full disclosure: I was its editor-in-chief for two years), is generally a pretty good outlet to defer to on post-secondary issues in Regina and, indeed, the province in general. Yesterday’s op-ed on the theatre department’s shift from the fine arts faculty to the arts faculty is no exception:

A serious “administration knows best” mentality is permeating the entire discussion about the future of this university and leaving students left out of the loop. It is unclear to what degree the university is consulting with “student groups”, but if URSU or the CFS has been in discussion with the university, they are not publicizing it very well. Considering the academic review is presented as such a huge change in university policy towards its programming, it would be nice as a student to be able to see everything that is being discussed behind closed board room doors.

The problem is not so much that the university has determined to change the theatre program into an arts degree or that there are changes to the political science honours degree, but the way in which it has determined to go about informing students of the changes that are being proposed. For all I know, these changes were absolutely necessary and will benefit the departments and the university as a whole. But there was absolutely no rationale provided for the decision beyond the pre-approved, positive buzzwords from the master plan like “sustainability”, “flexibility”, and “streamline”.

Breaking Even Further Out West

Screw a preamble. Here’s three more acts you might want to check out tonight.

CITYREAL is a Vancouver rapper with a background in political science, but his 2011 effort, The Beginning, didn’t secure a nod at last year’s Western Canadian Music Awards because it sounded like a term paper. Dude produces classic boom-bap hip-hop tracks and then, more often than not, goes in on them; even a mellower collection of tracks, like this year’s collaboration with South Carolina expat bluesman Wes Mackey, contains strutting, confident bangers like “Passing Me By.” Which, presumably, is why he’s playing PURE Ultra Lounge, of all places, at 10 p.m. tonight; who said having a sense of social responsibility can’t also make you nod yr head?

CASTLE RIVER is two dudes from Saskatoon who play guitar and drums indie rock and slap elegant harmonies over top. Planet S scribe Craig Silliphant wrote that, though “dogged with lazy comparisons to The White Stripes and other famous guitar-and-drum duos, they’ve actually crafted a sound all their own that could compete with any band in Canada or beyond.” Then he said they’re one of his favourite bands in Canada. High praise! They’re at the Gaslight tonight at 10.

FEDERAL LIGHTS. Guy from Winnipeg named Jean-Guy Roy got a band together, and basically they sound like Blue Rodeo if Blue Rodeo wasn’t exclusively for dads. Confident and patient music that occasionally breaks into raw, celebratory howling and ain’t bad live. Then again, what else am I going to say about a bearded dude who writes pop hooks? They play at 1 a.m. at O’Hanlon’s, for all you night owls looking for a melodic comedown.

Update: University Theatre Department Maybe Not So Dead

Good-ish news, I think: Kathleen Irwin, the head of the U of R’s theatre department, popped into the comments section of my last post and dropped some knowledge:

As of May 1 2012, the Theatre Department began to focus attention on the delivery of its core degree, the BA in Theatre and Performance. We see this as a way of consolidating our course offerings into a unified, flexible degree that optimizes our skills and resources and enables students to choose widely from a menu of courses that reaches across the Fine Arts disciplines or to pursue training in selected streams within the art form (Acting, Design/ Stage Management).

We believe that this will educate students to be broad thinking and resourceful in their approach to creativity while they are here at the university and when they graduate into the world beyond whether they chose to pursue further training in theatre, a professional career or higher education.

In reality, nothing changes in the delivery of our program other than the name change. In doing this we feel we are reflecting a current shift across North America in the delivery of performance-based undergraduate training by allowing our student more control over their course of study. We are excited to offer a more progressive degree – A BA in Theatre and Performance that will highlight traditional training in addition to innovative courses in creative technologies and community-oriented practice.

While we will, as of January 1 2013, suspend admissions to the BFA stream, we continue to admit students into the new BA stream in Theatre and Performance. Current BFA students have 6 years to complete their BFA degree.

A bunch of that is still in worrisome language (I have an instinctive distrust of phrases like “innovative courses in creative technologies and community oriented practice,” because I have an instinctive distrust of pretty much anything approaching jargon) but any assurances that the program will still be delivered are welcome ones.

University Of Regina Sounds First Death Knell For Theatre Department

UPDATE: Whitworth here. Apparently the Theatre department is not quite dead yet. Is it getting better? Well, John Cameron has written a second blog post with additional information. You can read that here. John’s original post is below.


As part of their years-in-the-making strategic plan – a to-be-expected mess of corporate jargon and “visioneering” or whatever – the University of Regina took a hatchet to the Fine Arts Faculty this Tuesday, announcing in a corner of the administrative chunk of the university’s website that, this June, several theatre-related BFAs have been suspended or “revised”:

Suspension of admissions to the BFA (Acting);
Suspension of Admissions to Bachelor of Fine Arts (Design/Stage Management);
Suspension of Admissions to the Bachelor of Arts in Fine Arts (Theatre Studies) and Bachelor of Arts Honours in Fine Arts (Theatre Studies);
Revision to Bachelor of Arts, Major: Theatre and Performance – refocusing the program around available resources to offer higher flexibility and relevance to students;
Revision of the Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Arts Honours in Political Science to meet student demand, streamline the program and enhance collaborative offerings with other departments.

More revisions are in the works, apparently. But the Fine Arts faculty is the first to see a part of itself excised from the university. Which departments face hammers depends on decisions made at the board level, which means that the decision-making process itself, the information that the board acts on, and the rationale behind decisions are occluded from public view.

It’s bullshit, of course. And it’s bullshit that they wouldn’t announce this decision for months, and even then just on a tiny chunk of online real estate. And it’s also bullshit that the current government has left the university with a funding shortfall of $4 million, which because of everything from contractually-set wage increases to the never-ending grind of annual inflation means that the government can technically increase allocated funds to post-secondary institutions in Saskatchewan and claim they have no fault when those funds aren’t enough. It’s a clever game, and the U of S knows it as well as the U of R.

But, hey, who cares about theatre, the arts, the humanities, and all of those things that are globally trending right into a black hole. Since when has that stuff been valuable? Stuff like critical thinking, or reading?

Yeesh. You’d think you were on an alt-paper’s blog or something.

Four in the Afternoon: Whoopsy-Daisy

4 in the Afternoon1 ROMNEY’S DEATH RATTLE So, the fantastic San Francisco-based magazine Mother Jones published some hellaciously damaging footage of Mitt Romney pooh-poohing 47% of the American electorate – disingenuous at best, a hilarious potential self-reference at worst, but either way not really a great way to reach out to potential voters. And then, at a press conference where he looked more haggard than I’ve seen a politician look for a very long time, he called for the release of the full video, for some reason, presumably because he figured Mother Jones were bluffing or something. Well, they weren’t. It’s not a good time to be Mitt Romney right now.

2 BURIED UNDER GARBAGE Yes, okay, stadium referendum. People want it, people aren’t happy with council. All good stuff. But the lede there – a $92 annual fee for recycling pickup – uhhhh, that’s sorta buried, isn’t it? (I know where my nearest Big Blue Bin is; it’s over at the Broadway Extra Foods. Better find out where yours is.)

3 A DIPLOMAT NAMED “VILERAT” I actually should have blogged about this the night it happened, but it’s still sort of fascinating: one of the U.S. diplomats killed in Libya last week was also a serious player in the economy-based massively-multiplayer online game EVE Online, as well as a forum moderator for weird Internet comedy hub Something Awful. Fascinating and tragic. It says something really weird about our intelligent people coming of age at a time when the Internet dominates most of our lives, but I haven’t figured out what exactly that is, yet. (It also says something that, well, the mob that killed him and three others, including ambassador Chris Stevens, maybe wasn’t the solid block of rage they’ve been portrayed as for the last week.)

4 PRO ATHLETES ARE CLASSY PEOPLE Blue Jays player Yunel Escobar wrote some dumb, ugly things in his eye black. The Jays are “investigating.” [UPDATE: And, as Barb points out below, their investigation has turned into a suspension.]

Rah Rah vs. MTV Live

James Brotheridge & I did a piece on Rah Rah for this week’s issue; we had to interview them last month, however, because their busy touring schedule meant that an interview closer to their shows in Regina at the tail end of this month would be difficult.

Part of their current tour was a three-song slot on MTV Live. It’s all stuff from the new album – “Art & A Wife,” “Prairie Girl,” and “The Poet’s Dead” – and you can see all three songs here. Our story on Rah Rah will be on stands and online Thursday.

National Infrastructure Summit, Day 3: Report’d!

Federation of Canadian Municipalities president Karen Leibovici just finished presenting the Canadian Infrastructure Report Card, and while it’s pretty bare-bones in terms of what it addresses for now – water systems and roads – she explained in an interview following the presentation that the FCM is looking to release a new instalment every two or three years, with expanded data and broader focus. Transit, for example, is something they’re looking to address in the next report card.

The big findings are here, and the upshot is that wastewater and roads are cities’ biggest necessity deficit, with an estimated $39 billion and $91 billion in repairs for the next two decades. Which, y’know, yikes: those two systems alone have a looming bill of $130 billion out of the $170 billion the report says needs to be spent to bring systems in “fair” condition across Canada up to a “good” standard. With the total estimated municipal infrastructure deficit across Canada right now sitting at $300 to $400 billion, it’s not hard to see why the FCM only focused on wastewater, drinking water, stormwater, and municipal roads in their first report card; taken together, those four systems represent roughly half of the deficit.

Going on right now is a presentation on “COMMUNITIES OF TOMORROW” and here’s an actually funny thing, if you’re into grim humour: according to the PowerPoint slide on display, a civic leader at a SUMA conference responded to the goings-on with, “Innovation you say? Innovation? We’re too busy trying to keep our ass above the alligators.” That’s, uh, that’s funny, right? Laughs? Nobody tugging their collar and going “guh-hoy?” Okay good, great.

(Image above from the FCM’s Canadian Infrastructure Report Card website.)

National Infrastructure Summit Day 3: The Reportening

My phone just died, so I can’t post a picture, but Mayor Pat Fiacco just finished killing time at the podium by talking about boxing, and Karen Leibovici, the president of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, has just walked in the room and is getting introduced. Leibovici will be presenting the Canadian Infrastructure Report Card, which the FCM has developed in partnership with “several private partners” and claims is the first of its kind in Canada.

I just got handed a brief, so while this session takes place. Volume 1 deals, apparently, with municipal roads and water systems. I’ll admit I was hoping for something more comprehensive, but we’ll see what comes out of this Q&A session.

Hydra Head Records, 1993-2012

Venerable independent heavy metal label Hydra Head Records – along with, presumably, its imprints Tortuga Records and Hydra Head Noise Industries – is no more. According to a blog post by label head Aaron Turner, the New Mexico-based label will no longer issue new releases after December of this year, and will only stay open in order to sell its remaining back catalog and repay its “sizeable debts.”

Turner adds that the label is “initiating a massive sell-off of everything we can dig up and produce for the next 6-12 months. This will include discounted bundles of CDs/LPs/posters/etc, represses of certain titles for which we still have parts, test pressings, and whatever worthwhile items we can pull together.”

The webstore for the label – which was home to bands like Pelican, Big Business, and The Austerity Program – is here. And for those keeping score, that’s one more independent label down while the majors keep on truckin’.