Welcome To Canada Votes 2015!

Canada FlagIt’s not the longest election campaign in Canadian history. But it is the longest since 1872 — you know, waaay back before all the modern communications and transportation infrastructure that exists today was invented and installed throughout the country.

For the last half century or so, Canadian election campaigns have been in the 35 to 40 day range. That gives the parties/candidates enough time to communicate with the electorate, and for the electorate to arrive at a decision as to how they intend to vote. Instead, this time we get a whole 78 days to sift through party platforms and listen to/watch/read partisan party messages before we make up our minds. Oh joy!

With the election set for Oct. 19, the logical time to drop the writ would have been after the Labour Day weekend on Tuesday, Sept. 8. But by heading to the polls now the Harper Conservatives get to take advantage of changes they made to electoral laws that allow them to evade spending restrictions that apply during a normal-length campaign.

It’s not like the current spending limit of $25 million doesn’t give them enough leeway to bombard the Canadian public with attack ads about the other two parties that are running neck-and-neck with them in the polls. But with a far deeper “war chest”, the early election call will permit the Conservatives to spend in the neighbourhood of $670,000 for every extra day of campaigning, which means they’ll likely shell out around $50 million by the time it’s over.

Political donations benefit from a generous tax credit, so this is a hit to the country’s public revenue base. Parties and candidates also get reimbursed for around half their eligible election expenses so Canadians will foot that bill too, along with significantly greater administration costs for Elections Canada in the 338 federal ridings.

Finally, Conservative MPs have been flitting around the country in recent weeks like money fairies dropping big chunks of public coin for various infrastructure projects — the vast majority of the 108 (and counting) funding announcements in Conservative-held ridings.

With oil and other commodities in the crapper, the Canadian economy sliding into a recession that will likely only deepen in the months to come, and the Harper government committed to numerous costly tax relief and spending measures such as income-splitting and the Universal Child Care Benefit as part of its balanced budget initiative, whoever forms government after the Oct. 19 election will have a pretty hot set of cooked books to deal with.

For my part, I think I’ll sit out the first month of the campaign and then get into it after Labour Day.

Weekly Reckoning: Spectacular Fleeting Things Edition

weekly-reckoningEverybody! I was on my way home from Saskatoon this afternoon and I saw – I swear to God – a small bird landing on a hawk in flight, riding the hawk like a living conveyor belt for 15 or 20 feet, then flying off again. Why did it do that? The convenience of it all? The thrill? Was the sparrow or similar small bird feeling a little tired and looking for an extremely brief rest? Maybe the hawk had a stray seed or bug on its back? Or was it a Nietzschean demonstration of bird world power relations? Who cares? The clearest manifestation of Grace has been vouchsafed to me by chance, and it’s telling me that the lord of the cosmos is probably a bird of some sort. Probably a secretary bird or a piping plover or something.


2. OBAMA’S RESERVES OF GIVE-A-SHIT HAVE BEEN COMPLETELY EXHAUSTED During a speech at the University of Nairobi, Obama made a birther joke. I’m enjoying Obama’s take on lame duck presidency.

3. A LITTLE SOMETHING FOR THE SPIELBERG FANS Behold the ultimate commentary for Raiders of the Lost Ark, chock-a-block with insight and trivia. Remember when you were 30 years younger and sitting in the theatre, wondering about production design decisions? Give yourself an extra kaddam and listen in. Then take back one kaddam for the Bird God.

4. CARS ARE COMPUTERS WITH WHEELS Fiat Chrysler has issued a recall for 1.4 million cars after a security vulnerability was discovered.

5. YOU OWE IT TO YOURSELF AND THE BIRD GOD TO READ THIS PIECE ON TA-NEHISI COATES It’s a long read and it’s a few weeks old already, which is five years in Internet terms. But are you doing anything with your life right now that would be as meaningful as the act of reading a piece on Coates, who is doing better and deeper thinking than any of us on issues of race and structural privilege? No, unless you’re fighting a fire in an orphanage right now, in which case the Bird God grants you license to get in there and save those kids.


John Fogarty

This concert on Wednesday July 29 at Brandt Centre coincides with the start of Queen City Ex. If you have a ticket to it, you get free gate admission.

Fogarty, of course, is a founding member of Creedance Clearwater Revival. Since that group broke up, he’s also found a fair bit of success as a solo act.

This concert is part of what’s billed as the “1969 Tour” which commemorates the three albums that Fogarty wrote and produced with CCR in that year: Bayou Country, Green River and Willy and the Poor Boys. Those albums produced such hits as “Proud Mary”, “Bad Moon Rising” and “Fortunate Son”.

Fogerty will be playing songs from his entire catalogue during the show, but the focus will be on the three albums from 1969. Curtain is at 7:30 p.m., and tickets range from $20-$79.50.

Here’s video from 1970 of CCR playing “Fortunate Son” at a concert at London’s Royal Albert Hall



The Tale of A Town

TalkofTownI’ll have more in a future blog post, but above is a photo of a vehicle and trailer that the Toronto-based arts collective Fixt Point are using to gather stories from Reginans about their memories of downtown Regina. The visit is part of a cross-Canada trip Fixt Point is on to prepare for a larger project tied to Canada’s sesquicentennial celebration in 2017.

Fixt Point was at Canada Day celebrations in Wascana Centre, then were at Central Library from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. today. If you’d like to offer your memories of the downtown, they’ll be at the library Friday and Saturday during the same hours.

From information Fixt Point gathers, they’ll be putting on a performance/installation at Darke Hall on July 12. That will be blogged on down the road. And here’s a Leader-Post report where Curtain Razors’ artistic director Joey Tremblay discusses Fixt Point’s stop in Regina.

Ireland Votes To Legalize Same-Sex Marriage

Hey Ireland, nicely done! From the Guardian:

Some 62% of the Irish Republic’s electorate voted in favour of gay marriage. The result means that a republic once dominated by the Catholic church ignored the instructions of its cardinals and bishops. The huge Yes vote marks another milestone in Ireland’s journey towards a more liberal, secular society.

Out of an electorate of more than 3 million, 1,201,607 backed gay marriage, while 734,300 voters said No. The result prompted a massive street party around the gay district of central Dublin close to the national count centre.

Directly addressing Ireland’s gay community, taoiseach Enda Kenny said the result meant that “a majority of people in this republic have stood up for them [those in the gay community]”. He said: “In the privacy of the ballot box, the people made a public statement. With today’s vote we have disclosed who we are. We are a generous, compassionate, bold and joyful people who say yes to inclusion, yes to generosity, yes to love, yes to gay marriage.”

Irish deputy prime minister and Labour leader Joan Burton added: “The people of Ireland have struck a massive blow against discrimination.”

And quoting the late American politician and LGBT rights activist Harvey Milk, she said: “Hope will never be silent.”

Human rights should never be voted on but it’s nice that when they were here, empathy and facts beat fear and ignorance.

Catholic and other Christian leaders — as opposed to many actual Catholics and Christians — were on the wrong side of history and morality today. They’ll probably pay a very big price for it.

J.P. Cormier

If it’s a musical instrument, and it’s got strings either on it or in it, J.P. Cormier can probably play it. Folk, bluegrass and Celtic are the three genres he’s focused on since releasing his first album Return to the Cape in 1995. Last April, Cormier was in the news when he released a song about PTSD in the military called “Hometown Battlefield“.

On Wednesday, April 8 Cormier is in town to play a show presented by Grassroots Regina at the Exchange. No word yet on if there’s a back-up act, but the show should get going at 8 p.m. Tickets are  $20 advance, $25 door. To close, here’s the video Cormier made to accompany “Hometown Battlefield”

The Last Legal Rally?

Terrorists are the Babadook of Canadian politics that lies underneath our collective beds, hides in closets, (get it? The closet reference?), and watches us from the bushes through the windows. We need fear. We need to know that we matter.

We are wetting the bed to cock-block the terrorists that will otherwise penetrate us. The Harper Stain will be hard to get rid of. There is no turning of the mattress or letting it air this time.

I think this bill will pass. I think this is the last rally of freedom fighters before they are deemed terrorists. Free speech and public rallies are now no longer an option. And journalism is at stake too. Here are some pics of people who care from the Bill-C51 rally today.

Emmalyn rocking the fist.
Emmalyn rocking the fist.
Bill Clary
Bill Clary

Not terrorists.

Oh! Canada.

Weekly Reckoning: I Rode In A Tesla S Today Edition

weekly-reckoningIt’s true! I got to ride in a Tesla S today, courtesy of electric vehicle service company Sun Country Highway. The legroom was plentiful, the seats were comfy, and that thing goes from 0 to 100 km/h in about four seconds. It’s eerie to feel a sudden force pushing you back in your seat without an engine roar to comfort you.

1. TONIGHT IS OSCAR NIGHT NIGHT! The Academy Awards, that bastion of conservative, sort of racist assholes, are happening! Our resident film critic Jorge Ignacio Castillo has already given his predictions and I’m sure that there’ll be some live Oscar blogging on this site as well.

2. FOLLOW THE DENIAL MONEY TO CLIMATE LIES Bad news for the last few climate change deniers out there: leading climate change denier Wei-Hock Soon is a liar who has been less than forthcoming about the source of his funding (it’s energy companies).

3. WHAT CLIMATE CHANGE? BOSTON IS FULL OF SNOW In fact, there’s so much snow that a bicyclist built an awesome tunnel through a snow bank.

4. I’M ALMOST LOOKING FORWARD TO MY FIFTIES With less than a decade to go before I hit the mid-century mark, I sometimes mull over that moment when I step unequivocally into middle age. But British television personality Mariella Frostrup has some thoughts on the changing societal roles of the 50+ set that kind of cheered me up.

5. OUR DYSPEPTIC SUN IS HERE TO GIVE YOU PERSPECTIVE Sure, plenty of things are happening here on Earth, but take a look at these solar flares! Just one burp from the sun dwarfs any of our tiny, insignificant little movements on this forgotten mossy rock spinning through the vast cold dead machine of the Universe. Happy February!

Film & Performing Arts Opportunities

The last few years, with successes such as Tatiana Maslany’s run in Orphan Black, Paul Nolan on Broadway in Jesus Christ Superstar and at Stratford in The Grapes of Wrath and more, Wolf Cop winning the CineCoup competition, and Jeffery Straker winning the Vina del Mar song competition in Chile, there’s been plenty of opportunities for performing artists and filmmakers from this area to strut their stuff on the national and international stage.

In the next 10 days two organizations with national reach will be in town to troll for talent for their respective programs.

First up is the Vancouver Film School. On Thursday, Feb. 26 it will be holding an information session for people interested in studying filmmaking, along with animation, games and graphic design. The event will be held at the Double Tree by Hilton on the corner of Broad & Victoria Ave. with a 6 p.m. start time. You can access registration information for the free event, along with learning more about the VFS, here.

On Sunday, March 1, another B.C.-based organization, the Canadian College of Performing Arts, will be in Regina as part of its cross-Canada auditions for aspiring singers, dancers and actors. The auditions will be held at the Sask. Express building (2272 Pasqua St.) starting at 11 a.m. The CCPA is located in the beautiful city of Victoria, and you can find out more about its programs, and register for the audition, here. Alternately, you can call 250-595-9970.

Speaking Of Sun News

Yeah, with the blizzard and minus 40 windchills, today was the kind of day where you wonder if Earth even has a Sun to keep us half-assed comfortable and warm.

If we didn’t, of course, it would be a helluva lot colder here. So obviously we do. And NASA has just released some time lapse photography of our home star taken by its Solar Dynamics Observatory.

The SDO was launched in 2010, and from a geosynchronous orbit 36,000 kilometres above Earth it’s been studying the Sun and observing all the turbulent activity that occurs on the surface driven by its 15.7 million K core temperature and all the atomic reactions that are going on.

It’s pretty spectacular. So check it out if you want. And here’s a NPR report on the footage

Sad News To Report

Michele SeredaThere was a horrible three-vehicle accident north of Regina today on Hwy. #6 where five people lost their lives.

I don’t have information on all the victims, but one death that has been confirmed is that of Michele Sereda who for nearly 30 years was a powerhouse theatre performer and presenter in Regina with her company Curtain Razors.

Michele was travelling with Lacy Morin-Desjarlais, who also died in the accident. I don’t know the nature of their trip, but I know that Michele often participated in workshops and residencies throughout the province where she’d work with artists of different ages and backgrounds on various performing arts projects.

Speaking about Michele specifically, I had several opportunities to interview her over the years (above is a photo Steve took of a 2004 Prairie Dog cover story I interviewed her for) and her passion and enthusiasm for the arts and the joy she found in collaborating with others was truly remarkable.

So yeah, it’s a huge loss for Regina. And condolences also to those who knew Lacy Morin-Desjarlais who was also active in the arts in Saskatchewan and taught powwow dancing.

Weekly Reckoning: Yearly Reckoning Edition

weekly-reckoningWhat up, people of Internet? It’s 5:30 a.m. (as of this writing), my insomnia’s doing great and I’m feeling just a little punchy. I think it’s all the fatigue toxins goosing my synapses. So let’s proceed right into my Yearly Reckoning, in which I dump out some random opinions on your unsuspecting boots. In current news, another Malaysian plane has gone missing: AirAsia QZ8501 has vanished in heavy weather between Singapore and Indonesia with 192 passengers on board. Cue the satellite hunters and conspiracy mongers.

1. HEY, ARE YOU GUYS JUST GOING AROUND SHOOTING UNARMED BLACK PEOPLE? This appears to be the question that America finally asked its police forces in 2014, after decades of this sort of thing happening. From Michael Brown to Eric Garner and beyond, it seems that the American public is unwilling to accept the status quo in which young, unarmed black men can be shot on the street and left in the sun like modern versions of lynching victims. Meanwhile, the NYPD might want to think about what it stands to lose by pulling stunts like turning its collective back on Mayor de Blasio.

2. HEY, WHO’S KILLING INDIGENOUS WOMEN? This appears to be a question that the Harper government is still unwilling to answer, because as far as our Skinwalker-in-Chief is concerned, indigenous Canadians aren’t real people and may be dismissed if he shakes his head hard enough. Of course, he’s terrified of shaking his head lest his human face come flying off in public.

3. ACTUALLY IT’S ABOUT ETHICS IN GAMING JOURNALISM By far the most pathetic and embarrassing story of the year: Gamergate, a crusade of misogynistic basement dwellers dedicated to ensuring that women don’t make games and that games aren’t made with women in mind, because nothing’s more unethical than diversity or inclusion or catering to the actual gaming market.

4. POPE FRANCIS, YOU SO COOL Pope Francis continues to make good on his image as a reformer with a wingdangdoo of an address to the Holy See. In a blistering speech, he laid out the ailments plaguing the Catholic Church hierarchy, including “spiritual Alzheimer’s.” He also singles out “working too hard” as a problem, which, good thinking. Francis also promised to bring financial reform to the Vatican, which will probably win him few friends among the Church bureaucracy.


BEST TV OF 2014 Yes, yes, give me your True Detectives, your Hannibals and your Fargos – all of which were excellent, excellent television. But I’m going to propose a few alternates: the hilarious squalor of Broad City, a dirty weed-fogged riff on Girls; Rick and Morty, a deranged stack of inventive madness from Community creator Dan Harmon; and The Affair, which started off as a minutely observed character drama about infidelity and devolved into a fantastically trashy soap opera in only ten episodes. Oh, and from The CW, there’s The Flash, which is the most fun you can have watching a man run fast in red tights, and The 100, which began life as Post-Apocalyptic Hot Teen Soap Opera and is now a frantically paced game of escalating stakes between ridiculously good-looking people on a devastated future Earth. What’s not to like?

BEST MOVIES OF 2014 So many excellent films this year. Under The Skin. The Lego Movie. Boyhood (probably). The BabadookSnowpiercer, except for the overlong ending. Guardians of the Galaxy. Two Days One Night. And more. Definitely not The Equalizer, unless “Denzel Washington killing randos with home & garden supplies” is the new criterion for great cinema.

DUMBEST MOVIES OF 2014 THAT PEOPLE THINK ARE GOOD BUT THEY’RE NOT Freaking Gone Girl. It’s ridiculous. Okay? And with apologies to Jorge, Interstellar is a movie about a guy who sails beyond the stars to spy on his teenage daughter. It’s creepy. People eat corn, they cry in space and it’s creepy.

BEST SPORTS OF 2014 Over Christmas I watched a lot of football at the in-laws. Then I went to my parents’ and watched an imperial ton of soccer. That was my sports for the whole year, and it was fantastic. I can’t wait for Xmas 2015.

BEST MUSICS OF 2014 Lots of people have opinions, but mine is the one that counts here. LP1 from FKA Twigs, whom I can only describe as an erotic trip-hop anxiety performance artist, is the best thing to hit my ears this year. D’Angelo’s Black Messiah is indisputably great, but you can’t shake my heart. Don’t go shaking it. To give you a sense of what to expect, as Greg Beatty might say, here’s the single “Two Weeks.” Lyrics are a trifle NSFW, but phrases like “higher than a motherfucker” never sounded so sweet and lyrical.


The Nutcracker Ballet

I’d originally intended to profile an HD broadcast from London of a Royal Ballet production of Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland at Galaxy Theatre today. But it ended up being cancelled.

Not to despair, though, especially if you’re a ballet fan. That’s because Dec. 17 and 18 Class Act Performing Arts Studio along with guests Coastal City Ballet are presenting a “child-friendly” production of Tchaikovsky’s famous Christmas-themed ballet The Nutcracker at Conexus Arts Centre. 

Wednesday, there’s one performance at 7:30 p.m., while on Thursday there’s shows at 12:30 and 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $34.25-$48, and more information can be found on the Conexus website. To close, here’s a short excerpt from a 2010 Bolshoi Ballet production featuring the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy:

Weekly Reckoning: Iiiit’s Reckoned! Edition

Welcome to your Reckoning. Please ensure that your chairs are in the upright position. Or just sit up straight. Posture is important.

1. WELCOME BACK HOWARD As hinted in the post-credits sequence ofweekly-reckoning Guardians of the Galaxy, Howard the Duck is returning to the Marvel universe. Largely remembered for his appearance in the truly terrible 1986 movie Howard the Duck, the titular character is alien duck with a foul (or maybe fowl) mouth and an unduckly attitude. The good news is in all this is that the comic will be written by the completely insane and highly Canadian comics author Steve Murray, aka Chip Zdarsky.

2. GOVERNMENT HEARS ABOUT THIS “CONSCIENCE” THING The federal government announced $200 million in funding for mental health care for veterans. Which, after six years of not spending money, is nice.

3. BEST O’ BOOKS! The Globe and Mail has released its list the 100 best books of 2014. I’m still working on the best books of 2011, myself.

4. WORST O’ HOMES More stories are emerging about Regina’s Santa Maria care home, following the death of resident Margaret Warholm last year.

5. MORE THAN YOU WANTED TO KNOW ABOUT THE POOP EMOJI Really! It’s an entire oral history of the cutest electronic turd you’ve ever seen.

Black Umfolosi

On Thursday Nov. 20 this Zimbabwe-based acapella vocal and dance troupe will be in town to perform a show at the Exchange. The show is being presented by the Regina Folk Festival as part of its concert series.

Formed in 1982, the group takes its name from their ancestral home near the Umfolozi Omnyama River in South Africa. They typically put on a high energy show, with lots of cultural touchstones related to their linguistic, music, dance and folklore traditions. One highlight is the gumboot dance that has roots in the mining regions of South Africa.

Doors at the Exchange for Thursday’s concert are at 7:30 p.m., with the show at 8 p.m., and tickets are  $18 advance and $25 door. You can find out more information on the RFF website. To give you a sense of what to expect here’s video from a few years ago of the group performing the song “Ikhaya”:

Little Orange Man

How Do You Do – Ingrid Hansen from Michael Millard on Vimeo.

If you’re like me you might believe a puppet show consists of articulated wooden dolls manipulated by strings and sticks controlled by an evil puppet master. Actually my first introduction to the world of puppetry was when I turned five. McDonald’s had issued plastic hand puppets of their McDonaldland characters, (a blatant ripoff of H.R. Pufnstuf). My buddy garth gave Ronald a finger boner and sodomized Mayor McCheese until I snorted rootbeer through my nose.

Little Orange Man is nothing like that nor is it anything you would expect from a puppet show. Why yes she does magically endow inanimate objects with a believable life force for after all isn’t that what puppetry is all about? What separates Ingrid Hansen from other puppeteers and performances is what she uses and how she uses them. Vegetables, shoes, shadow, light, an old raincoat, dreams, performance art, social critique, and audience participation all makes it into the act.

This show was the funniest thing I’ve seen in a long time. Their wasn’t a dry seat in the house. Wear your astronaut diapers just in case. You can catch the last shows this weekend, Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. with a Saturday matinée at 2 p.m. /Charles Atlas Sheppard

Daily Aggregation – Epic 8-Bit Music Edition

daily-aggregation-21. PLANS FOR SASK DEMOCRACY MUSEUM The NDP is criticizing the Saskatchewan government for spending money on a museum of politics over other priorities like health care or education. NDP leader Cam Broten argues other museums could cover the same area, but don’t have the funding.

2. WOMEN SPEAK OUT ABOUT DANGERS OF LITERARY INDUSTRY Like many industries, the literary world isn’t free from problems of sexism and abuse either. Poet Emma Healy shares her story.

3. RUDDY SPEAKS ABOUT BARBERSHOP EXPERIENCE Speaking about sexism and abuse, Evie Ruddy spoke at the YWCA and Big Sisters’s Power of Being a Girl conference on Thursday. She talked about the attacks and threats she suffered from criticizing Ragged Ass Barbers for refusing service, due to her being a woman and despite wanting a man’s haircut style.

4. MARS MAY KILL POTENTIAL COLONISTS QUICKLY A feasibility study shows the first human will die of suffocation in 68 days without some way to produce nitrogen – of course, such a machine would be too heavy to land onto the planet’s surface. Couldn’t it be dropped in pieces? Or would the colonists suffocate before they could build it? The 26 month delay on supplies probably doesn’t help either.

5. THE COSTS OF POVERTY Though poverty levels are down in Saskatchewan, those in poverty are faring worse than before, according to a recent report.

6. ZOMBIES OF THE BUREAUCRATIC KIND Prime Minister Stephen Harper is decrying attempts to ressurect the long-gun registry by “bureaucratic” means.

7. WORLD WAR E The author of World War Z explains why people don’t have to worry about the ebola outbreak escalating in the same way.

8. THE CONNECTION BETWEEN NIXON AND MR. BURNS Voice actor for The Simpsons and Spinal Tap bassist Harry Shearer is impersonating Richard Nixon for a Youtube series, while using the former president’s actual secret audio recordings. Yes, that’s happening. Here’s why.

Mainly because a good portion of my brain is old video games – for my portion of the daily aggregation, I’m now going to show off a piece of sweet video game music every week. We’re starting off with a classic, heroic piece that’ll get you fired up for anything: saving the world, heading to work or maybe just changing a really rank diaper. Here’s from Dr. Wily Stage 1 from Mega Man 2 on the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES):