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Lovely In The Fog

My goodness it’s a beautiful night. A lonely night, too — not a lot of people outside for the most gorgeous evening of the year.

The picture’s a little blurry but I think that just makes the scene nicer. I have some other shots but this is the one that captures the mood.

Maybe I’ll put those after a jump.

Now don’t you wish you lived here?

Continue reading “Lovely In The Fog”

Pick of the Day: Ribs of Sky, Ribs of Stone

We’ll have more on this exhibition by Joan Scaglione in a later issue. But it’s definitely worth a visit to the MacKenzie Art Gallery to see. It consists of 18 cedar canoes — some simple ribbed structures without hulls, others resembling fully functioning vessels, although I wouldn’t trust any of them on the open water.

Consistent with the historical role they played in the life of First Nations and Metis people, along with early European fur-traders and explorers, Scaglione elected to portage her canoes into the gallery. The day she did (January 7), the mercury plunged to minus 37.5 degrees C, and the windchill was around minus 50.

If you missed media coverage of the portage, there’s video included in the show. It probably wasn’t her intention to do it on such a bitch of a day, but the fact the portage was undertaken in the dead of winter does lend an intriguing interpretive slant to Ribs of Sky, Ribs of Stone that I elaborate on in my review.

The stone, by the way, is a reference to the half-ton of black slate that’s also part of the installation. As far a metaphors go, it’s a pretty potent one for the harsh and unforgiving nature of Canada’s wilderness landscape.

Ribs of Sky, Ribs of Stone is on at the MacKenzie until April 11.

Saturday Morning Cartoon

Tim Burton has made another adaptation or at least a follow up to the popular Alice in Wonderland novels by Lewis Carroll. For a kid’s story, I’ve always found the novels to be kind of disturbing in an entertaining sort of way.

There have been adaptations of the story for over a hundred years now. The very first was a silent film from 1903.

The story has also been the inspiration for several cartoons – some of them borrowing the plot and working their own characters into it.

One of the more surreal adaptations was from Czech filmmaker Jan Švankmajer. In 1988 he made a full length stop motion version called Něco z Alenky (Alice).

Pick Of The Day: Mixed Bag

There’s a pile of stuff happening tonight. At the Lazy Owl out at the University of Regina there’s a drag show fundraiser for the student queer organization GBLUR. Just down the hall at Riddell Centre in the Shu-Box Theatre there’s a concert of experimental music and immersive soundscapes called Sounding Landscapes. Both events start at 8 p.m. At the Exchange, rising Saskatoon alt-country band Deep Dark Woods is playing a gig. Here’s a link to a post James Brotheridge did on the band last week. And “Foghat” is at the Casino. Those aren’t meant as sneer quotes, by the way, just an effort on my part to dramatize that the band that hits the stage tonight is pretty much Foghat in name only. I checked on Wikipedia, and two of the original members are dead — one expired from kidney cancer in 2000, the other of a heart attack in 2005. And since this blues-rock group got going in the U.K. in 1970, it looks like a whole shitload of musicians have played for them. But I think the drummer is still an original member. There’s also a big International Women’s Day celebration at Queensbury Centre with guest-speaker Buffy Sainte-Marie (pictured), and Telemiracle XXXIV kicks off tonight at Conexus Arts Centre.

Friday Night Power Pop: Visqueen

So I have a rare, rare cold and I’m taking it easy tonight, sitting at home and listening to tunes. Just stumbled across Seattle band Visqueen and am pleased to report they rocked the snot out of me (good thing too — I have work waiting for me tomorrow). Their leader is singer/songwriter/siren Rachel Flotard and her songs are GREAT — super energetic, melodic power-pop. Their latest disc came out in the fall: it’s called Message To Garcia and it’s dedicated to Flotard’s father, who died of cancer in a country with shit for health care but no shortage of loving daughters.

Give ‘er a listen and if you like what you hear support the band–buy the album. It’s on  iToons and teh Amaze-On. I think you’ll like this. If a band’s good enough to have Neko Case sing back-up for ’em, they’re good enough for you. Thenkew.

University News

You got any plans for next Tuesday? If not, and even if you do, consider dropping by the Multi-Purpose Room at Riddell Centre between 7-9 p.m. as the University of Regina kicks off a process to develop a new Campus Master Plan that will guide development at the university for the next five years and beyond.

In a press release, U of R president Vianne Timmons (pictured) said “As part of the community, the University of Regina always welcomes comments from the public. The reason for doing a Campus Master Plan is so the university can meet the changing needs of students, staff, faculty and the larger community in the years to come.”

Accessibility and sustainability are only two of many issues that will be looked at. The target for completing the plan is December 2010, with implementation to begin in 2011. For more info see: www.uregina.ca/physplnt/masterplan

Friday Afternoon Puppy

Cats? Really? You know that if you die, they’ll eat you, right?

Dogs. Now there are noble, brave and loyal creatures. As witnessed by this video from a highway security camera in Chile several months ago.

Warning: I’m a grouchy, crusty old man. I cried a little bit the first time I saw this.

Cats. They’re OK. But give me a dog any day.

Six In The Morning

Dog Blog’s morning news round-up, which has probably never, ever actually been posted at 6:00 a.m.

1 BUDGET! “Steady Budget Offers few Surprises”, says CBC. “Hope Keeps Flaherty’s Balanced Budget Afloat“, says the Globe And Mail. “This Budget Will Set Conservative Hearts Aglow“, says the Toronto Star’s Chantal Hébert. “Feds Aim For 17.6 Billion In Savings Over five Years“, says the Leader-Post.

2 MORE BUDGET! Saskatchewan’s Finance minister ironically says the federal budget is marred by wishful thinking on revenues. (I like the fact Gantefoer acknowledges the irony. Yes, he had to, I know. I still like it. I like it when politicians admit their screw-ups — makes them seem human.)

3 STILL MORE BUDGET “Canada’s Wind Energy Sector Laments Loss of Incentives” says the Leader-Post. “PM Gambles that Voters care About The Deficit, Little Else” says the Globe’s John Ibbitsion.

4 JAPAN WON’T JOIN TUNA BAN “There is no choice for the Japanese government. We Japanese eat tuna,” says one Japanese wholesaler. (Washington Post) Well here’s a thought, moron: let’s just fucking eat all the bluefin tuna and then it will be gone forever. How’s that sound Japan, you fucking idiots?

5 VATICAN GAY SEX SCANDAL A “Gentleman Of His Holiness”–yes, that’s apparently a job title–was busted for negotiating with a male prostitute. Huh there’s a shock, closeted gays in the Catholic Church. (Guardian)

6 DID YOU HEAR? A GUNMAN WAS KILLED TRYING TO ENTER THE PENTAGON LAST NIGHT. So, an angry white nutter who believed the U.S. government was behind the 9-11 attacks turns to armed, anti-government violence. (He was a marijuana user too–so much for the cliche of the mellow pothead.) (Washington Post) What did I just say?

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.

Pick of the Day: Charity Concerts

There’s two charitable type concerts happening tonight. At the Exchange, several local bands, including Rah Rah, Geronimo and Tinsel Trees are putting on a benefit to raise money for earthquake ravaged Haiti. Meanwhile, at O’Hanlon’s Pub, the Edmonton rock groups The Falklands (pictured) are playing a benefit in support of Solidarity Rock with local groups ASSX3 and The Czar, The Kaiser and The King. I spoke briefly over the phone with Lee Klippenstein of the Falklands and he said that Solidarity Rock was geared to raising money to help indie musicians in Cuba get new gear to replace the decades old stuff they’ve been forced to use. To learn more, check out www.solidarityrock.com

 Those are two great causes. So if you get a chance, check one (or both) of the concerts out.

America In Meltdown

I’ve watched the States closer than most for most of my adult life and while I don’t want to freak readers out, things are getting really, really ugly down there and I’m worried. Still, I’m just an armchair observer. I don’t know all the facts. I haven’t done studies.

But fortunately (I guess), some people do. And here’s what one found. And it’s creepy.

The Guardian, the first newspaper I go to in the morning, reports on a U.S. civil rights organization that’s just released a study on dangerous and escalating right-wing radicalism. According to the Guardian:

The [Southern Poverty Law Centre] report, called Rage on the Right, said the rise in extremist groups was “a cause for grave concern” given their propensity to use violence during their heyday in the 90s, most notably with the Oklahoma City bombing that killed 168 people. It added that the issues driving support for such groups were increasingly populist and that “signs of growing radicalisation are everywhere”.

The Guardian story claims a 250 per cent rise in right-wing militias in the states. They’re being fuelled by fear of changing demographics (more blacks, Hispanics and other minorities), falling economic power, religion and right-wing conspiracy pundits like a certain prominent Fox News egomaniac/sociopath.

The report says that, unlike during the 1990s, the patriot movement’s core ideas are more widely propagated and accepted by prominent politicians and some in the mass media, such as the Fox News presenter Glenn Beck.

“As the movement has exploded, so has the reach of its ideas, aided and abetted by commentators and politicians in the ostensible mainstream,” said the report. “Beck, for instance, reinvigorated a key patriot conspiracy theory – the charge that the federal emergency management agency is secretly running concentration camps – before finally ‘debunking’ it.”

The most powerful country in the world is gripped by paranoia, hatred, ignorance, religious fervour, racism and general psychosis. Madmen are flying planes into IRS buildings and Republican politicians are sympathetic (Think Progress). Lunatics are showing up at political events with legally-purchased assault weaponry. Religious militias are using proto-Taliban harrasment techniques on “sinners” (Daily Kos). They’re shooting abortion doctors.

The country is a sneeze away from a very violent, fascist uprising–and if the military joined in, we’d all be fucked.

I guess the take-away point is this: We need to educate ourselves about what’s going on in the States and be vigilant for signs of it in our own country.

And President Obama needs to wear a bullet-proof vest and stay the hell out of Texas.

The Death Of Capitalism: Back To The Future?

Economist, blogger and former IMF head economist Simon Johnson makes a compelling case here (originally from the NY Times) that what we have  is a failure to regulate, moderate or in any way impose meaningful rules. Let me ask… do  any of the following key points, borrowed more-or-less directly from Johnson’s post, sound even vaguely familiar when talking about truly mammoth companies?

     ● In many cases big firms did well because they used unfair tactics to crush their competition

     ● Even well-run businesses became immensely powerful politically as they grew.

     ● There was a blatant attempt to use the political power of big banks to shape the financial playing field in ways that would help them

And by now I’m sure that the most common reaction might be something along the lines of “No kiddin’ Pollyanna. Welcome to 2010. There’s no getting anything past you, is there?”

Well, the neat little trick here is that Johnson’s talking about the last Gilded Age, about a century ago, rather than the current Gilded Age that’s just wrapping up… oh… right about now…

So I’m curious – what do you suppose the likelihood is that we might be able to find a reformer willing to take on this sort of concentrated power? A modern-day Teddy Roosevelt, as it were? Because make no mistake – if our experiment with a free market economy is going to continue, perhaps the biggest single requirement is a more-or-less open and fair market – and a champion to lead the charge for one.

The great shame, of course, is that we might have already had just such an individual warming up in the wings.

Except, of course, he appears to have fallen victim to his inability to keep it in his pants – possibly combined with a truly excellent frame job.

Six In The Morning

1 STADIUM STADIUM STADIUM STADIUM The Leader-Post has nine (!!!) stories on their website right now on the proposed downtown stadium. Judging from their headlines, most seem generally positive and excited. Us? We range from conditionally pro-stadium (me and POSSIBLY Rosie, I think) to undeclared and mysterious (Greg) to hostile (pretty much everyone else.) Links here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here. (Leader-Post)

2 IT’S BUDGET DAY Here’s the link to the Globe’scoverage . Nice to see the paper’s pulled in Tom Flanagan, who’s kind of like Canada’s Karl Rove, to answer budget questions from readers. Barrrrf. (Globe And Mail)

3 OUT ON HIS ASPER Izzy’s son David officially cedes control of CanWest. (Winnipeg Free Press). Confidential note to Mr. D.: So prairie dog’s now outlasted Conrad Black andthe Asper brood. High five!

4 SASK PHARMACISTS CAN DO MORE When your doctor’s on vacation they can give you a prescription refill, plus there’s a few other things. Sounds reasonable. (CBC)

5 ALLEGED NUDE DUDE IN COURT And he’s not happy. (CBC)

6 ONLY WHINY SISSIES HAVE TEA PARTIES A new American political movement takes their caffeine without crumpets, thanks. (Guardian)

Walmart, Stephen Fry And Uglification

Walmart Bakery

The image above is a stitched-together series of photos taken just inside the entrance to that new Walmart. I took them during my epic journey out to Harbour Landing for the last issue.

Doesn’t it just go to show how a quantity of festive blue and white balloons can make you forget you’re inside a dingy, gray warehouse?

It puts me in mind of a quote from that Stephen Fry interview from the Sunday Edition where he talks about how so much North American architecture feels slapdash, temporary and unfinished — as if we’re still living on the frontier, throwing up shacks wherever there’s a buck to be earned, leaving ghost towns in our wake. Carle mentioned it in her architecture of the dome post. Here’s Fry:

“If you look out of the window in the continental United States and in North America generally, everything is stunningly beautiful that nature has done, and that’s true in the world, whatever it is, in nature, it seems to us incontestably and unconditionally lovely. We find it simply beautiful. And the only things we ever see that are ugly when we look out are things we have made. And if generations of children grow up believing that they belong to a species that can only uglify, that has no role in making things beautiful, that cannot with its own hands and its own ingenuity make things that are lovely, only things that are at best serviceable and at worst hideous and an imposition and a blot and an insult to the nature into which we were born, then there’s a guilt, there’s a self oppressing guilt that the entire species feels, that we all feel because we feel that we are a worthless race. We don’t beautify. We uglify. And there is no excuse for that.”

Well said.

And that puts me in mind of when, back around the time our famous library issue came out, someone asked me why I thought buildings needed to be beautiful. I think the point of the question was to say, “Shouldn’t the inside be all we care about? The outside, that’s just extravagance.”

If only I’d heard the Stephen Fry interview before I’d been asked that question, I might have had a coherent response at the ready.

Anyway, seeing as contemporary architecture — and how it rots — is on my mind, I should mention that over on the Regina Urban Ecology blog, they have a couple posts on the Grenfell Apartments and what replaced them. It’s a little depressing but worth a look.

Pick of the Day: Chic Gamine

Polished, yet waifish. Stylish, yet urchinish. Okay, I don’t think “urchinish” is actually a word. But “urchin” is. And it, along with “waif”, are two definitions of the French word “gamine”. As for “polish” and “style”, well, that’s “chic” for you. Put them together, and you get the name of this vocal quintet with roots (pun very definitely intended) in Montreal and Winnipeg.

In town to perform as part of the Regina Folk Festival Concert Series, Chic Gamine were last here in August when they performed on the main stage on the final day of the 2009 Regina Folk Festival. That gig was in Victoria Park. Tonight’s is at the Exchange.

Composed of four female singers (Ariane Jean, Andrina Turenne, Alexa Dirks and Annick Bremault), along with percussionist Sacha Daoud, Chic Gamine has been together since 1997. Mixing a pile of different influences from gospel and soul to r ‘n’ b and doo-wop, the group captured the Best Roots/Traditional Album Award at the 2009 Junos. Here’s video of them performing their song “100 Years”. (YouTube)

Opening for Chic Gamine will be Saskatchewan singer Alexis Normand.

Infinite Horizons: Some Thoughts From Away

It’s been a few weeks since the city launched its new brand, Infinite Horizons, and I’m sure it’s drifted from everyone’s mind by now. But, back when we were working up our coverage of it, I had some correspondence with the only Regina graphic designers I know (actual prairie dog employees excluded), Lee Henderson and Seema Goel. Neither of them live in Regina at present but they’re both from here and are now reduced to just looking in, enviously, at all our city’s awesome potential.

Now, personally, I mostly fall on the “in favour” side of the new brand debate. Lee and Seema? Not so much. So I thought it might be fun to post some thoughts on the new brand from some Regina expats.

And as this will be a rather long post, I also thought this would be a perfect opportunity to try out the Read More tag this fancy new blog sports. So, read some Lee and Seema after the jump….

Continue reading “Infinite Horizons: Some Thoughts From Away”

Extras Wanted

If you’ve got some free time on Friday afternoon, and you count yourself a fan of indie Canadian rock/punk music, you might want to drop by the Distrikt (1326 Hamilton). Between 2-5 p.m. legendary Hard Core Logo director Bruce McDonald will be shooting a concert scene for his sequel Hard Core Logo II. Reginans who want to be part of the shoot are encouraged to show up with their best rock fan attitudes and apparel (but no clothes with brands, bands or logos on them).

Performing will be the punk rock band Die Mannequin. Plotwise, apparently the group’s lead singer Care Failure claims to be channeling the spirit of Joe Dick and McDonald arrives on the scene to document the goings-on.

To further set the scene, here’s video of Die Mannequin performing their song  “Bad Medicine”  (YouTube)

Hate Sports, Love Architecture?

Here is Douglas Cardinal’s proposal for Regina’s domed stadium.

Think about it: it’s Douglas Cardinal’s building that seems to have killed SIFC/FNUC… Maybe if there were another major Cardinal project, it would act like a Flinstones-style bonk on the head and FNUC would go back to being what it was supposed to be. On the other hand, maybe a Cardinal dome would cause untold havoc in Regina’s governance and all our political structures would need to be razed and started over. Heh heh. Either way, I don’t see a downside.

I have no doubt that they’ll cheap out, end up overspending anyway, and we’ll have another architectural blight, the only kind of architecture we seem to get these days. I say if you’re going to throw money away, might as well throw it away on something beautiful.

On a side note, there was a great interview on The Sunday Edition with British comedian, writer and actor Stephen Fry on his recent fact-finding tour of America. One of the things he talked about was architectural ugliness, and how it’s a needless offense to nature, where beauty comes standard in every creation. He said that some tender souls grow up focusing on all the man-made ugliness around them and believing that our whole species is harmful and pointless. Absolutely worth a listen.