You Annoy Me, Wascana Park

Me and publisher Terry Morash are finalizing this fall’s Best Of Regina categories today. We’re deciding which ones to keep, what we can add and most of all how to stop Wascana Park from winning everything it’s remotely eligible for.

Seriously, it’s ridiculous. Under last year’s City Loving category Wascana Park won almost everything. “Best Place To Meet A Sexy Someone”, “Best Place For A First Date”, “Best Place To Propose Marriage”, “Best Place To Break Up”, “Best Couple Activity (Besides That)” and “Best Public Spit-Swappin’ Spot”.

Wascana Park didn’t win “Best Place To Get Condoms”. “Good thing it doesn’t sell condoms,” said Morash.

Half our ideas die because we’re scared Wascana Park will hijack the category and make Best Of Regina boring. “How about “Best Place To See A Wild Animal?” I suggest. “Wascana Park,” says Morash. “Best Place To Take Your Kids?” I offer. “Wascana Park,” Morash says . “Best Place To Punch A Goose”? “Wascana Park, and anyway you like geese, Whitworth.” “Oh yeah.”

This might go on for hours. Stupid Wascana Park and it’s stupid world-class splendour.

I Am Not An Animal

Best of Regina voting ended last week and prairie dog publisher Terry Morash has been ridiculously busy figuring out who won what in each of the 125 categories. He sent me the results today. Very interesting. Terry also sent me the raw data. Even more interesting.  For example: I was surprised to get two votes for Best Wild Animal Found In The City, which ties me with bats, badgers, skunks and swans — and I totally kicked one-vote wonders snakes’ and “three-toed sloths'” asses.

Nevertheless I must remind our amateur comedian readers that this Best Of Regina category is for wild animal species. I am not a whole species unto myself. Also I’m mostly domesticated.

Best Of Regina 2010 Spotlight: Best Clothing Store

The voting period for prairie dog’s Best Of Regina event is drawing to a close — polls shut down Thursday at noon. That means there’s just over 66 hours left to vote for Regina’s best people, places, stuff and whatnot. I’m previewing one Best Of Regina category every day until polls close, whether I have time or not, whether I’m fighting deadlines, even if I’d rather be at the bar, etc. etc.

Up today: Best Clothing Store (Six Categories)

Clothing and prairie dog have a weird relationship. Most alt papers have a small fashion section with a column or two. Not us! We used to have one — Street Wear — which ran for about four years. It was a tough column to do for the writers and photographers: subjects were always bailing, deadlines were always looming and, uh, we pay crap. On top of that, we got the sense that a lot of our readers didn’t like the column. Harsh! So we killed it. Bang dead.

And I was left with the impression that prairie dog readers, a diverse bunch in most respects, were bizarrely unified in some kind of inexplicable disdain of cool-looking clothes.

Well, by gum, it’s time to test the fashion waters again. By asking our readers to vote for their favourite clothing stores in a poll. Motivated? No? Did I mention one voter will win $1000.00 in gift certificates? Ah, there we go. Thank goodness for bribery.

This year’s Best Of Regina has six clothing categories (eight if you count shoes) divided into “Guys” and “Gals” fashions. We’ve got Best Clothing Store : Hip & Trendy, Best Clothing Store: Casual/Everyday and Best Clothing Store : Professional Or Formal. That ought to cover the bases sufficiently for you style-suspicious folks.

I’m positive there are prairie dog readers who like cool clothes. I think you’re just shy about admitting it. Well, votes in the Best Of Regina are mostly secret — the only people who will know that you voted in the clothes categories are our poll administrators. And they would never, ever violate the sacred voter-scrutineer trust.

The fact that you really don‘t look down your nose at style won’t get out. Your fashion-loving secrets are safe with us.

So vote for Best Clothing Store already! I’ve got a bar to get to, here!

Best Of Regina Spotlight 2010: Best Visual Artists

As of right now you’ve got three full days and two half-days to vote in the 2010 Best Of Regina, prairie dog’s reader poll celebrating the niftiest people, places, shops, services and et cetera in the Queen City. Polls close on Thursday at noon, so you’ve got tonight, Thursday morning and three days in between.

Until the polls close I’m previewing some of the new Bests in our 125 category poll. Up today: Best Artist (traditional media) and Best Artist (new media).

Art practices can be so different from one another they seem to have nothing in common. How do you compare a potter to a video installation artists? How do you measure a painter against a performance artist? Are recently legitimized media like comics and textiles “new media” or “traditional media”? (Answer: traditional. Give me a hard one! That’s what she said. Shut up, brain.)

That’s why we have two categories. It’s a little artificial but let’s look at the upside: this gives us twice as much space to write about Regina visual artists. Hooray!

Best Artist, Traditional Media covers the classic areas of study artists have worked in for, in most cases, thousands of years. The field includes sculpture, painting, pottery, drawing, printmaking and textiles. We’ll also include photography, the baby of the bunch. And graffiti. We’ll toss that in here. Most if not all of the art you’d find at commercial galleries is traditional media.

Best Artist, New Media includes forms developed mostly in the last half-century or so: performance , sound art, film and video (not movies though), digital media, virtual realities and installation come to mind. Art that is ephemeral or transitory (i.e. can’t be sold, makes no money) often goes here.

Art is something humans have done forever. Art can floor us with its beauty, stagger us with its message and shock us with its innovation. Art is important and it’s important to talk about it.

Let’s talk some more about art. Please vote for Regina’s Best Artists.

Best Of Regina 2010 Spotlight: Best Hobby

Best of Regina is readers’ poll on our city’s swellest stores, businesses, folks and fun. Readers may vote in 125 categories including Best Roughrider, Best Clothing Store, Best Real Estate Agent and Best Place to Buy Condoms. The survey is open until noon Thursday, Sept. 23. One eligible voter will win $1000 in gift certificates to some of Regina’s best shops and restaurants. results and winners will be announced in our October 21 edition.

I’m previewing one category every day until the polls close. Up today: Best Hobby.

Some categories come back every year. Some just get thrown in once every few years to make things interesting. So it is with Best Hobby, one of our exclusive 2010 poll questions.

My 2001 edition Canadian Oxford Dictionary defines hobbies like this: “a member of an imaginary race similar to humans, of small size and with hairy feet…” wait that’s not it (flip).

Hobby: n. (pl. -ies) 1. a favourite leisure-time activity or occupation. 2. archaic a small horse.

Obviously, you’re voting on the activity here (although riding horses could be a hobby).

Hobbies are great. And there are tons of them. Off the top of my head: knitting, painting, board games, baking, movies, reading, building models, obsessing over model railroads, keeping fish, studying history, playing bridge, blogging, researching family trees, watching birds, bodybuilding, gardening,  jogging, collecting things like coins or stamps or art or toys, camping, playing World of Warcraft (nerrrd!), playing in fantasy sports pools (bigger nerrrd!), travelling (must be nice!) and, I’m sure, the list goes on and on.

What’s the Best Hobby? And is there a best hobby that’s specific to Regina? Let us know!

Up tomorrow: Reader’s choice! Let me know which category I should write about in comments. (Cue chirping crickets.)

Best Of Regina 2010 Spotlight: Best Plumber And All The Other Boring Categories

We’re in the last week of voting for Best Of Regina, prairie dog’s annual reader’s poll on Regina’s neatest people, stores, activities and miscellaneous whatnots. Voting ends at noon next Thursday. Until then I’ll be profiling some of our new categories every day.

What’s up this frosty Friday? Best Plumber And Similar Boring Categories, that’s what.

Best Plumber sounds duller than dust. Look at the “services” section of our poll, there’s a lot of yawners: Best Roofer, Best Carpet Cleaner, Best Insurance Agent, Best Flooring, Best Electricianzzzzzzz. Why would anyone care?

You know what else is boring? Plumbing that works. Level floors in your home or business. An insurance provider that helps you when you’re robbed or there’s a fire. Not being electrocuted when you plug in a vacuum.

Most of us never think about a tradesperson,  contractor or  or service agent until we need one — but when we do, we sure need them to be good.

So please vote for the boring categories in this poll. Not just to give credit to the Best Plumber, Best Accountant, Best Roofer, Best Glass Repairer or Best Mortgage Broker — not that good people who do their jobs well don’t deserve credit — but to help your fellow prairie dog readers decide to call when they need something built, fixed, insured, landscaped, photographed, rented or managed.

Think of it as helpful consumer information for your fellow readers, who will — I guarantee — be calling the winners of this contest when they need help from a professional at something boring but really important.

Vote for Best Plumber! And all the other unsung heroes who keep Regina flushing along.

Best Of Regina 2010 Spotlight: Best Reporter

Best Of Regina voting will be over this time next week so you don’t have a ton of time left to make up your minds about Regina’s finest people, places and pursuits. But I’m here to help — for the next seven days (and maybe eight, depending if I crawl into the office before polls close at noon on the 23rd) I’ll be profiling some this year’s new and returning categories.

Up today: Best Reporter.

What makes a great reporter? A short list of qualities I think are essential: honesty, a strong work ethic, intelligence, a world-class bullshit detector, enthusiasm, compassion, curiosity, a reverence for facts, diligence, cunning and courage.

And, of course skill: a knack for research, an ability to coax information from reluctant sources, proficiency building coherent and compelling stories from jumbled information, and of course a nose for news.

And, unlike with online dating profiles, being nice and having a great sense of humour isn’t a bad thing to have either.

Reporters are the foot soldiers of news. They aren’t news readers, opinion columnists or program hosts, although those certainly do reporting from time to time. They don’t spend all day sitting at their desks spouting opinions (like lazy editors). They’re making phone calls, chasing leads, talking to people and finding things out, snooping, scooping, and generally trooping along like nerdy, obsessed detectives.

The best ones tell us what’s happening and help us understand why, and they’re not afraid to show us proof that what we think about something is wrong. I like to think they can change the world for the better, a little bit.

Who is Regina’s Best Reporter? Dunno. Want your opinion. Vote! But not for political reporters — that subspecies has its own category in this poll. And not for prairie dog writers. They have their own category, too.

Up tomorrow: either visual artists or plumbers. Gonna flip a coin!

Best Of Regina 2010 Spotlight: Best Store Sign

Best Of Regina celebrates the greatest people, places, events, amenities, shopping and services in this city as picked by you. After tonight there will only be eight days left to cast your ballots in this fun annual poll. On each of those eight days I’ll profile one of our new categories. Wheeeee!

Up tonight: Best Store Sign.*

This baby was prairie dog writer Paul Dechene’s suggestion and it’s a really good one. Well-designed signage is one of the delights of city living. A good sign can be a beautiful, electrified sculpture, a lush, colourful mini-mural or an elegant typographical construction, adding beauty and artistry to the urban landscape.

A gorgeous sign also sends a clear message: it tells you you’re in the presence of a playful, creative and lively business owner who is damn proud of what she or he does.

Never underestimate the importance of good signs to a business district’s image. And don’t underestimate the harm caused by artless, cheap, crummy, half-assed and/or generally soulless signage, either. Signs are always a statement and if that statement is “we couldn’t be bothered”, “we have no taste” or “we don’t care”, well, that’s a strike against a shop before a potential customer even walks in the door.

If they walk in at all.

This category might seem fluffy to some people but to me, it’s one of the most important ones in our poll. Smart business owners who care enough about their stores, shops or companies to invest in good signs deserve some attention, because great signs make Regina a better place to live.

Whether or not we’re conscious of it. They really, really do.

So vote for Best Store Sign, and reward a business with owners who care about the aesthetics of their little corner of Regina. It does matter.

*All Regina stores, shops, and businesses are eligible in this category with the exception of restaurants, who will get their own Best Sign award in the 2011 Best Of Food poll.

And now, for inspiration, some great storefronts found from idle Googling. (Yes, I’m an idle Googler.)

Continue reading “Best Of Regina 2010 Spotlight: Best Store Sign”

Best Of Regina 2010 Spotlight: Best Wild Animal

Every year, prairie dog publishes the Best of Regina, a sprawling, epic event where we share our readers’ picks for the best people, places, events, shops and services this town has to offer. Right now we’re collecting votes online. Polls open until noon Thursday, Sept. 23.

While voting continues, I’m profiling some of the new categories in this year’s Best Of. Up today: Best Wild Animal Found In The City.

One thing that makes cities wonderful is the way nature adapts to them. You can have all the roads, lawns and buildings you want but there will always be uninvited creatures making their homes in urban settings.

I think that’s beautiful, and should be celebrated.

Since moving here a little more than a decade ago I’ve had my days brightened by surprise sightings of hares, owls, bats, deer, pelicans, a couple of moose (well, I didn’t see them personally), squirrels, mice, crows, magpies, more bats, more hares, butterflies, beetles and even garter snakes (of which I am an extra-huge fan because I’m a weirdo).

I have no doubt a lot of you share my love for city critters of all (or at least most) shapes and sizes. So head over to the poll and vote for your favourite — be reasonably specific, don’t just write “bird” — and we’ll give the winning critter a well-deserved salute in our October 21 Best of Regina issue.

Up tomorrow: Best Store Sign! No I am not joking.

Best Of Regina 2010 Spotlight: Best Reason To Get A Divorce

For the next week and a half I’m blogging about some of the new categories in our 2010 Best Of Regina reader’s poll. This is my clever (annoying) way to bug you to vote in our survey. We want you to vote because if everybody votes, the 2010 Best Of Regina  will be meaningful and fun. And that is what everybody wants.

Today’s new category: Best Reason To Get A Divorce.

Why? Why, you ask? Because! Because it’s funny, I say!

Not divorces. Divorces aren’t funny. But it’s fun to talk about relationship crimes because every partner in every couple commits a romantic or domestic misdemeanor or thousand at some point. When is the line crossed, and the aggravation becomes intolerable? When should you punt your partner? Something obvious, like they’re cheating on you? Something fickle, like they don’t put away clean dishes?

Something sad like, you’re just randomly not into your once-adored partner anymore? Something else?

And is there a Regina-specific reason to get divorced? I can’t think of one, but you! Maybe you know!

Best of all, if you and your spouse sit down together and talk about what the best reason to get a divorce is, it will strengthen your relationship. And also it will not lead to any fights about who did or did not put away the clean dishes yesterday. I prrromise.

Best Reason To Get A Divorce! What is it? Let us know!  Vote in the poll!

Best Of Regina 2010 Spotlight: Best Young, Veteran Activists

You can vote for your favourite Regina people, places, events, amenities, shops and services until noon Thursday, Sept. 23. This year’s Best Of Regina has lots of new categories and I’m going to profile some of them daily (more or less) until polls close.

Up today is a Best Of Regina double shot: Best Young Activist and Best Veteran Activist.

We always have a Best Of Regina category for the heroes who put down their TV remotes, get off their butts and get out in the community to fight for a better world. How could we not? If we didn’t have people organizing, teaching, protesting, researching and generally fighting against poverty, homelessness, racism, eco-crime and union-busting we’d be boned. Over the years though, our Best Activist winners have tended to be from the older generation of established rabble-rousers. So this year we’re encouraging you to vote for two of these heroes.

The Best Young Activist is someone 29 or younger who’s out there working for a better future. Maybe it’s a university student juggling studies and saving the world. Maybe it’s someone just getting started in a career who uses their spare time to fight stupidity or injustice. Maybe it’s a young artist subverting dominant paradigms of inequity and general villainy. Maybe it’s a single mom fighting for universal day care (thanks, Mr. Harper you ass) or something to benefit parents.

The Best Veteran Activist is a dedicated warrior of righteousness for who the good fight’s a life-long commitment. They balance work, family and saving the world and inspire those around them to keep battling. Booyah!

This is your chance to give a couple of activists and their worthy causes a little recognition. Head over the poll and cast your votes for Regina’s Best Young Activist and Best Veteran Activist!

Best Of Regina 2010 Spotlight: Best Esthetician

There’s a little over two weeks to vote in our Best Of Regina readers’ survey, which is lots of time for me to introduce some of our FUN NEW CATEGORIES.

Up today: Best Esthetician!

Estheticians are the skilled beauty professionals who are experts at manicures, pedicures, massages, waxing, make-up, eyebrow shaping, facials (and they’re gonna have to find a new term for that) and other beauty odds and ends. Have you seen The 40 Year Old Virgin? The lady who ripped Steve Carell’s chest hair out was an esthtician. And we all laughed. Ha ha ha!

Why you should vote for Best Esthetician: I started visiting an esthetician a couple of years ago. I wanted to stop eating my nails and cuticles, and figured manicures would help. Long story short: I don’t bite my nails any more. And manicures helped. Hooray!

more importantly, estheticians are swell, friendly people who give you a half-hour or hour break in a day. They put on relaxing music and rub your feet or give you hot stone massages or skin treatments or whatever, and just generally make you feel pretty (or in my case rugged and macho).

Our city would be hairier, pimplier and hangnail-ier without our hero esthetics professionals. They deserve a little recognition. And you can provide that by voting for your favourite  esthetician in this year’s Best Of Regina poll!

Do it! Vote for Regina’s Best Esthetician!

Best Of Regina 2010: Polls Are Now Open

It’s Sept. 1 and just like I promised last week in a rambling prairie dog essay, you can now vote in this year’s Best Of Regina contest! There’s 125 categories, more than 80 of them new or brought back this year. Plus we have write-in votes. And one lucky voter will win $1000 in gift certificates for the City’s best restaurants, shops and services! Zow!

And yes, I said 125 categories. One-hundred-twenty-five. PLUS write-in categories. The categories range from the obvious (Best Band, Best City Councillor, Best Local Store) to the just plain good-to-know (Best Plumber, Best Insurance Agents). And some of them are goofy but you can find those ones yourself. (But I will say I expect Best Pet to be an epic battle!)

Head over to the poll now — here’s the link — and take a look at the questions. You can take your time — the poll is open until Thursday, Sept. 23 at noon.

And if you’re reading this in Saskatoon, well hey! Best Of Saskatoon voting started today at our sister paper, Planet S. Check out their contest here. Last I heard they had about twice as many votes as us so far, but I’m sure by the end of both contests we’ll have more votes because Regina is, OBVIOUSLY, a better city than Saskatoon. And not just because Regina has prairie dog. Although that sure helps. Ha!