The Choose Your Own Adventure Guy Died

From Boing Boing:

R.A. Montgomery, co-author and publisher of the long-running children’s book series “Choose Your Own Adventure,” which allowed generations of kids to choose from dozens of possible story endings, recently died at his home in Vermont. He was 78, and the cause of death was not disclosed.

“Choose Your Own Adventure” books were an important cultural predecessor to online games and internet narratives that allowed users to play a role in determining the outcome of their own experience.

As the computer age unfolded, Montgomery’s interests expanded to new technology, according to an obituary published on the “Choose Your Own Adventure” website.

More here. Rest in peace, Choose Your Own Adventure Guy. That was a pretty cool idea you had. It made the world a better place.

Choose Your Own Adventure (Hunter S Batson)

Barbara Sapergia

Blood_and_SaltstorelgIn mid-August 100 plaques were unveiled at various locations across Canada to commemorate the 100th anniversary of a large-scale internment that occurred shortly after the start of World War One. Recent Canadian immigrants with possible ties to the Austro-Hungarian empire in eastern Europe were removed from their homes and sent to one of 24 camps on the grounds that they were possibly enemy aliens who posed a threat to the safety and security of their new homeland.

That historical event, especially as it impacted on Ukrainian-Canadians, was the subject of Barbara Sapergia’s 2012 novel Blood and Salt.

On Monday, Oct. 20 Sapergia will read from her book at Central Library. The reading will be at 7 p.m., and is being held to celebrate Saskatchewan Library Week which runs Oct. 19-26. More information can be found at the RPL website.

Into The Woods

With music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and book by James Lapine, Into the Woods opened on Broadway to resounding acclaim on Nov. 5, 1987. But its roots date back much further than that. That because Sondheim and Lapine’s original inspiration was the 19th century fairy tales collected and edited/written by the Brothers Grimm out of Germany.

During its intial Broadway run the musical played for nearly two years (765 performances, to be exact). This presentation is by Regina Summer Stage. Performances start tomorrow and run until Sunday. July 10-12 curtain is at 7:30 p.m., while July 13 it’s at 2 p.m. Tickets are $30 adults and $27 students and children, and the box office is at 306-779-2277.

To give you a taste of what the musical’s like, here’s video from the 2002 Tony Awards where Vanessa Williams and fellow cast members perform a snippet of the musical:

http://youtu.be/eSTM2NCmP-g

Exciting Goings-On At Central Library

ArtShackWhen I was out last night I also spotted the above structure outside Central Library. I’m not sure if construction has quite been completed, but it’s an Art Shack that the Dunlop Art Gallery plans to use this summer for two week-long art camps with their artist-in-residence Heather Cline.  The camps are free, and all materials will be supplied.

The first camp is for children ages 9-12, and it will run July 7-11 from 9:30 am-12:30 pm. The second camp is for teens ages 13-17, and it will run August 11-15 from 1-4 pm. The goal of both camps is to use different art techniques and materials to explore themes related to the community and the natural environment.

Participants are asked to register in advance, and more information can be obtained by calling 306-777-6040 or by visiting the Regina Public Library website.

And speaking of Central Library, there’s a launch tonight for the latest round of public consultations about the future of the library at 7 p.m. The consultation is being administered by the Vancouver-based company DIALOG. It previously worked on projects involving the Vancouver Public Library and Calgary Public Library. In addition to tonight’s event at Central there will be an on-line survey and mobile polling. You can find out more in this Leader-Post report.

The Road Is How

The Road is HowAcclaimed naturalist Trevor Herriot has a new book out inspired by the simple act of walking and how it ties into a broader engagement with nature and the human spirit.

Thursday, there’s a launch in Regina at the Royal Saskatchewan Museum at 7:30 p.m. Also participating will be Regina artist/photographer Dennis Evans who has produced work on a similar theme in the past.

Earlier this month, Herriot had a book launch in Saskatoon. Prior to that event Stephen LaRose spoke to Herriot for an article that ran in the May 1 issue of Planet S. You can read it here.

2014 Saskatchewan Book Awards

Cariou Photo 2013 Fix (1)You can find further details on who the nominees are in 13 categories for the 21st Saskatchewan Book Awards via this post which was done when the short-list was announced in mid-February. The awards will be handed out at Conexus Arts Centre on April 26. The guest-speaker that evening will be Saskatchewan-born First Nations author and filmmaker Warren Cariou (pictured). Currently employed as an Associate Professor of English at the University of Manitoba, Cariou is also Director of the Centre for Creative Writing and Oral Culture.

Tickets for the gala, which will start with a light supper at 5:30 p.m., are $75. Further information can be found be visiting bookawards.sk.ca or calling 306-569-1585.

Book Trailer Screening

richardkerr_tiff450This is a joint project undertaken by the Regina and Saskatoon Public Libraries. In March in both cities, a series of workshops were held at different library branches where kids age 12-18 could learn some basic filmmaking skills. The kids were then set to work crafting trailers for their favourite books akin to what Hollywood studios do to promote movies they release.

An awards ceremony was held last Monday, and tonight there’s a public screening of all the book trailers. The screening is at the RPL Film Theatre and will start at 7 p.m.

I couldn’t find a promo image for this event, so I decided to use a shot of some work by filmmaker Richard Kerr. He used to teach at the University of Regina in the 1990s before moving to Concordia University in Montreal. While in Regina he started working with trailers from Hollywood movies. He didn’t screen them, but instead wove them into patterns set inside light boxes as a way of subverting the marketing imperative of trailers and the role they play in commercial cinema.

Sara Riel: A Journey

Sara RielInspired by the life of Louis Riel’s sister Sara (pictured), this dance performance is being co-presented by New Dance Horizons and Compaigni V’ni Dansi as part of NDH’s House of Dance series.

Born in St. Boniface, MB in 1848, Sara joined the Grey Nuns as a novice in 1865. Three years later, she became the first Grey Nun of Metis ancestry at Red River. From there she was dispatched to her father’s home community of Ile-a-la-Crosse in what is now north-west Saskatchewan where she took the name Sister Marguerite-Marie. She served in the school and mission there until she died from tuberculosis at age 34 in 1883.

Sara Riel: A Journey is a co-creation of dancer/choreographer Robin Poitras and visual artist Edward Poitras, with text by former Saskatchewan poet Tim Lilburn, and performance by Yvonne Chartrand. It will be presented March 28 at 1:30 and 7:30 p.m., March 29 at 7:30 p.m. and March 30 at 1:30 p.m. at 2207 Harvey St. Tickets are Adults $20 and Students & Seniors $15, and the matinees are $15. More information can be obtained by calling 306-525-5393 or you can check out this article I did in the March 20 issue that contains interviews with Robin and Yvonne.

Colleen Murphy

Quebec-born, northern Ontario-raised playwright, screenwriter and director Colleen Murphy is in town for two literary events in the next week. The first is Talking Fresh 12 which the Saskatchewan Writers Guild is hosting at the University of Regina on March 7-8 (RIC119)

The theme this year is “Exile: Writing Beyond the Borders”. In addition to Murphy, Ottawa poet and academic Armand Ruffo and Toronto dub poet and reggae musician Lillian Allen are feature presenters.

Allen is pulling double-duty too as she’s also appearing at Thursday Night Live! at the MacKenzie Art Gallery tonight at 7 p.m. It’s being co-hosted with Vertigo Series, so there’s a bit of a literary theme. Allen and musician Brian Templeton are two of the presenters. And while you’re at the MacKenzie be sure to check out the Amalie Atkins show if you haven’t already.

As for Murphy, she’ll also be presenting at the Playwrights Reading Series at the University of Regina (ED114) Monday, March 10 at 8 p.m. Before Murphy arrived in Regina I had this email exchange with her:

At Talking Fresh 12, in addition to a panel discussion and reading, you’re scheduled to give a talk on the subject “Emotional Theatre: A Country Without Flags, A Land Without Borders”. Could you elaborate on what you intend to discuss and the relationship with the conference themes of exile and writing beyond borders.

I am approaching the notion of exile from a writer’s perspective, asking whether writers can free themselves from having to represent where they come from, where they are now or where they wish to be in the future.  How do I, as a playwright, write beyond my own personal borders and create other worlds on a stage?

2013 saw the premiere of two plays for you. Armstrong’s War debuted in Vancouver in October. It features two characters (a 12-year-old girl who’s a Pathfinder and a 21-year-old man who is an Afghan War veteran). Both suffer from physical and psychological injuries when they meet in the hospital — she as a community volunteer, he as a patient. What was your motivation for writing the play?

War fascinates me — the impulse to kill for your country and the impulse to sacrifice yourself for your country.  I am not sure what all that means but I am interested in the meaning of honour in war; honour between soldiers under extreme duress… and because war smashes young people I created a young soldier who lost his courage and a young girl whose own trauma helped her find courage.

The second premiere occurred in Edmonton in November. Pig Girl deals with very dark subject matter tied to the Robert Pickton mass murder case in Vancouver and has some very graphic scenes. What was your motivation here, to perhaps provide audiences with a visceral representation of the horrible crimes that occurred in Vancouver and the general indifference in many quarters of society to people who exist on the margins?

Societal indifference to women being abused and murdered makes me angry. The play, which is deliberately fictional, puts a woman on the center of the stage as she defiantly fights for her life against a brutal killer. It’s a very, very serious play and demands a great deal from those who watch it.

On March 10 you’ll be participating in the Playwrights Reading Series. What works do you intend to read from?

I am excited to read the outline of a new opera in development about the Canadian Arctic called THE BREATHING HOLE, and I will read a bit from a new one-person play called LUMPS, about a clown.

1914: A Turning Point In History & Culture

Virginia WoolfThis is another installment in the lecture series that is being presented by the Humanities Research Institute, the Faculties of Arts and Fine Arts, the Department of History and the Dr. John Archer Library at the University of Regina to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the start of World War I.

Tonight, the focus is on literary legacies of the Great War. Speakers are English professors Kathleen Wall and Alex MacDonald, and the topics of their talks are: “Torn to Ribbons”: Virginia Woolf’s Experimental Novels and the Great War and Imagist Poetry: Fragmentation and the Wish for Wholeness. That’s Woolf pictured at left by the way.

The talks go tonight at the John Archer Library at 7 p.m. For more information call 306-585-4213.

Happy Family Day

Snow Gallery IWe’re stuck in the office today doing production on our next issue which hits the streets Feb. 20. But if you’re looking for something to do to celebrate Family Day you could do worse than to check out stuff that will be happening in the downtown area as part of the Ice and Fire Festival and the Distinguished Storytellers Festival.

If you make it down to Victoria Park, be sure to check out the Snow Gallery that’s been built in the north-west corner. The artists behind it are Lucien Durey and Katie Kozak, who currently have a show called Baba’s House on display at the Dunlop Art Gallery’s Sherwood Village branch (scroll down to last entry).  The Snow Gallery is presented by the Dunlop as well, and will be in the park until spring melt — whenever that happens.

You can see a sample of what’s located inside the gallery after the jump. Like the gallery itself, the exhibits will transform as the Sun rises inexorably in the sky and winter gives way to spring. Continue reading “Happy Family Day”

Nominees Announced

clearing the plains HIGH RES COLOURThe nominees for the 2014 Saskatchewan Book Awards were announced today. The awards will be held in Regina at Conexus Arts Centre on April 26. The guest speaker will be author Warren Cariou who will be speaking on the subject “Stories as Strong as the Stones: Aboriginal Voices & Writings.”

Thirteen awards will be handed out at the gala — ten tied to writing and three to publishing. The nominees were culled from 80 different titles that were submitted to SBA jurors for consideration.

Leading the way with six nominations is University of Regina academic James Daschuk’s Clearing the Plains: Disease, Politics of Starvation, and the Loss of Aboriginal Life (University of Regina Press). We spoke with Daschuk about his book, which recounts the tragic history of colonization and settlement in the Canadian prairies, as part of our National Aboriginal Day coverage in our June 13 issue. Here’s the article.

Another book that found favour with judges was Bernie Flaman’s thought-provoking look at Saskatchewan’s recent architectural history Architecture of Saskatchewan: A Visual Journey, 1930-2011 (University of Regina Press) which received three nominations including Book of the Year. Flaman’s book launched in Regina last April, and we ran this interview with him in our April 18 issue.

You can find a complete list of 2014 Saskatchewan Book Award nominees here.  But one other title that jumped out was Jeet Heer’s In Love With Art: Francoise Mouly’s Adventure in Comics with Art Spiegelman. It’s up for the Non-Fiction Award, and in our October 3 issue Vanda Schmockel did an interview with Heer.

Global Justice Poetry Slam

Happy International Development Week everyone. There’s some events happening later this week that I’ll cover on Wednesday, but tonight there’s a slam happening at Creative City Centre (1843 Hamilton St.).

It’s being presented in collaboration with the Saskatchewan Council for International Cooperation. And the theme for the night, as the event title indicates, is “global justice”. So slammers are requested to present work tied broadly to that theme.

The feature poet is Somali-born, Edmonton-based poet and performer Ahmed “Knowmadic” . Doors are at 7 p.m., and admission to the all-ages event is free.

Robbie Burns Birthday Bash

Robbie BurnsThis annual salute to the famed 18th century Scottish poet (pictured) who is revered in the land of tartan for his writing in the Scots language and who, before his death at age 37 in 1796, apparently ruffled feather by expressing sympathy for the goals of the French Revolution, goes at Bushwakker later today.

Featured will be performances by the Tilted Kilts, Fraser Pipe Band, the Regina Highland Dance Association and playwright Ken Mitchell, along with a trivia contest and one more thing… oh yeah, FREE HAGGIS!

If you arrive after 5 p.m. there’ll be a $5 cover.

Weekly Reckoning: Gone But Not Forgotten Until Time Obliterates Everything But We’re Star Stuff So Look On The Bright Side Edition

weekly-reckoning1. IT’S ALL GONE MONDRAGON After 18 years, Winnipeg’s Mondragon is closing. Mondragon was famous in Winnipeg as an alternative bookstore and café that served something called southern fried tofu. As Fearless Editor Whitworth says, “Mondragon is like Heliotrope and Buzzword combined AND it’s a worker co-op. Super shitty.” Remember the pad thai at the Heliotrope, people? Remember Gord at Buzzword, who could zero in your taste in books with unnerving accuracy and make the perfect recommendation every time? He also introduced me to the music of Vic Chestnutt. RIP stuff we loved. Just remember that new good things are always welling up from the common soil of our consciousness, from a random idea in some kid’s head to a storefront or a dance company or what have you. Hot damn.

2. REMEMBER THE GOOD OLD DAYS WHEN WE THOUGHT HAPPINESS WAS A RATIO? Did you know that the secret to human “flourishing” resides in an approximately 3-to-1 of positive to negative emotions? I had no idea that this was the new hotness in psychology until I read this article, which tells us that, thanks to a 53-year-old student who a thing or two about the mathematics behind the theory, the new hotness is actually the old lameness. Or more accurately, the old bullshit. I have a lot of love for stories about outsiders who show up and break received wisdom in half. Alan Sokal makes an appearance as well. Ain’t no party like an Alan Sokal party because an Alan Sokal party subjects your cherished beliefs to elaborate mockery.

3. THE SPICE OIL MUST FLOW The Enbridge Alberta Clipper pipeline is back up and running after an oil spill near Regina. Wait, what? Apparently everything is just fine, though. Juuuust fine.

4. JESUS STATUE SO FAR NOT ANIMATED BY LIGHTNING Here you will see photos of the statue of Jesus in Rio de Janeiro being struck by multiple lightning bolts. Residents may or may not be worried about the possibility of the statue coming to life and terrorizing the residents of the city with random blessings.

5. POLAR VORTEX 2: ATMOSPHERIC FREEZAROO Weather reporting is good for two things: doomsday predictions and fantastic names. “Polar vortex” sounds like a malevolent living force from the frozen North intent on sucking the warmth from every creature on Earth like a terrible reverse Santa Claus (or regular Santa Claus on Opposite Day). Now it seems that the Polar Vortex, instead of dissipating, has returned to its northern lair, where it’s hanging out and plotting its return – with blizzards this time. Seriously. Screw you, Polar Vortex.

Salinger

This documentary by screenwriter Shane Salerno (Armageddon and Savages) garnered mixed reviews when it premiered this fall. The subject, reclusive American author J.D. Salinger (1919-2010), is certainly interesting enough. But even though the film clocks in at a full two hours, the challenge remains: how do you sum up a person’s life in a single film, no matter how long it happens to be.

Reviews suggest that Salerno went for a scattershot approach, with the result that the film tends to lack focus. One thing it is chock-full of, though, is interviews with well-known figures who offer their thoughts on Salinger and the impact of his best known work — the 1951 novel The Catcher In the Rye.

Salinger is screening at the RPL Theatre tonight and Saturday at 7 p.m., and Friday and Sunday at 9 p.m. Here’s the trailer:

Buy the Book Is Closing?

Seems to be the case:

I was in there not too long ago, picking up tickets for Band Swap. I browsed a bit, coming across a bunch of cool books including an interesting-looking volume of Graham Greene non-fiction. I didn’t buy it because I felt it was bad form to buy something for myself so close to Christmas. I take full responsibility for this news.

In all seriousness, this is sad. Buy the Book is a great store run by great folks and will be missed.

The Vaults

MacKenzie (Vaults)We received this book in the mail yesterday from University of Regina Press. Its official title is The Vaults: Art From the MacKenzie Art Gallery and the University of Regina Collections. Co-edited by MacKenzie head curator Timothy Long and University of Regina researcher Stephen King, and including a foreword by University of Regina president Vianne Timmons, The Vaults showcases some of the art that the MacKenzie has accumulated in its permanent collection since the gallery was founded in 1953.

If you do the math, you’ll realize that the MacKenzie celebrated its 60th anniversary in 2013. To mark the occasion, the gallery had a retrospective exhibition of work from the permanent collection called How We Filled The Vault  that readers voted Best Art Exhibit in our 2013 Best of Regina poll. That exhibition featured a mix of art and antiquities from the original bequest of Regina lawyer Norman Mackenzie (1869-1936), along with dozens of more contemporary works that the gallery has added to its collection since 1953.

This 100-page book includes many of the works that were displayed in that show, along with other pieces that hold a prominent place in the gallery’s permanent collection. It also features numerous colour photographs by Don Hall, some of which show art that’s installed on the MacKenzie grounds and at the University of Regina.

You can find out more about The Vaults on the University of Regina Press website. 

Dakota McFadzean

DakotaAs regular Prairie Dog readers know, Dakota is an award-winning comic artist and illustrator whose work is regularly featured in our magazine. He was born and raised in Regina, and lived here most of his life before heading stateside a few years ago to obtain his MFA from the Center For Cartoon Studies in Vermont. He currently lives in Toronto with his wife Laura who is a co-founder of the Regina Urban Ecology blog and is big into progressive urban planning.

On Sunday, Dec. 8, Dakota will be in town to launch his new book Other Stories and the Horse You Rode In On at Central Library. The launch, which includes an artist talk, is at 1 p.m., and that will be followed by a cartoon workshop that’s geared toward kids that will run from 2:30-3:30 p.m. To find out more about Dakota and his work visit his blog. And here’s a link to the interview Emmet Matheson did with Dakota in our Nov. 28 issue.

Pick Of The Day (Tomorrow Edition): Vinyl Cafe Christmas Show

For many Reginans, I suspect, this annual visit by CBC Radio host Stuart McLean has become a Christmas tradition. Similar to the on-air version of Vinyl Cafe the evening includes a mix of story-telling, music and other delights. Touring with McLean this year is the Toronto folk trio The Good Lovelies which consists of Sue Passmore, Kerri Ough and Caroline Brooks.

The show goes Wednesday at Conexus Arts Centre at 7 p.m. Tickets range from $38.25-$61.25, and can be obtained by calling 306-525-9999. To give you a sense of what The Good Lovelies are like, here’s video of them performing their song “Best I Know”: