An Important Message From Prairie Dog

For most of us, the Coronavirus pandemic is like nothing we’ve ever seen. COVID-19 has totally disrupted Reginan’s lives and livelihoods.

It’s hitting us, too.

Earlier this week, Prairie Dog made the difficult decision to cancel our March 26 print edition. Between the near-total collapse of advertising and the loss of, what, maybe half our distribution points in restaurants, coffee shops and pubs, putting out a paper next Thursday just doesn’t make sense. We  plan to roar back with, hmm, let’s call it a special collector’s edition on April 9. In the meantime, we’re bringing Dog Blog–remember that?–out of cold storage so you’ll have lots to read. Stay tuned!

Collectively, we’re at the start of something that, for better and/or for worse, will fundamentally change our understanding of the society and world we live in, but there are a lot of challenges ahead. If you’re able, please consider donating to help us continue publishing. Prairie Dog has a lot to offer Regina and Saskatchewan, but we flat-out can’t do it without your help.

As a lot of people are suddenly discovering, it turns out we all really ARE in this together. Let’s make it work.

The Only Holiday Fireplace You Will Ever Need: Regina’s Own Sh*t Fireplace

In this increasingly virtual age, where families can be avoided by means of Skype and drones will deliver vitamins and/or rain copper-jacketed death upon you from the sky, we seem to have forgotten that the technology has already peaked with the virtual Yuletime fireplace. Who could have thought that one day we’d be able to summon up flames on a screen? If we had to show one thing to cavepeople that they’d genuinely lose their animal skins over, I’d choose the virtual fireplace every time. Let’s face it, the only thing better than fire is the image of fire, a spectacle held in abeyance, an all-consuming force imprisoned within pixels – you know, something that looks cool but won’t burn you. Take that, logs and paper and kindling, you think as family members slowly slip off to sleep on the couch or finally, having exhausted all safe topics of conversation, start expounding on their frankly racist theories of how society should work.

The problem is that we’re jaded. Virtual fire has become background entertainment, the thing you switch to when the sports and the Jimmy Stewart have run out. How do you freshen things up?

I give you: Shit Fireplace, the only holiday fire you need.

Shit Fireplace’s mission appears to the burning of shit: not literal shit, but the junky old crap that piles up around you and makes you wonder why humanity is permitted to manufacture anything at all. Chip bags, bed posts, old vinyl, decorative knick-knacks: if it’s sitting in a box in your grandparents’ garage, Shit Fireplace will burn it. Visit their YouTube page for a full list of incinerated items. Also of note: Shit Fireplace is the brainchild of Eric Hill and Jeff Meldrum, local Regina residents and owners of great hair. If you see them on the street, tell them how much Shit Fireplace has added to your life. Or leave an encouraging comment on YouTube.

The ultimate question is, can Shit Fireplace withstand the unleashed power of all the shitty items it consumes? Can it stand in the fire and never get burned? The answer may surprise you! Or it may not.

You’ve still got a few days of festive Yule-ish celebration before the new year ticks over and 2017 sputters to life like your dad’s stupid old lawnmower, so spend time with Shit Fireplace. I promise you, things start getting real around 2:41 and they don’t let up until the fire is done. Oh, and stick around for the 21:35 mark for an Inception-level moment that will blow your tiny mind.

Happy Birthday, Parking Lot


Hey Regina. Long time, no blog. Just checking in to provide a little update on a story we covered the heck out of back in the day.

Remember 1755 Hamilton Street? It was once the site of an apartment building. But city hall let the owners tear it down at the height of the housing crisis, thus putting 46 low-income households out onto the street at a time when the vacancy rate in Regina was functionally zero percent. Then, after that little debacle, council granted the owners a permit to turn the site of that bulldozed apartment block into a surface parking lot even though that’s specifically not permitted under the Downtown Neighbourhood Plan.

Of course, that parking lot permit was supposed to be temporary. For three years only.

We chronicled the whole sorry saga of 1755 Hamilton in some detail, on both the blog and in the paper, in articles titled things like: “Some Parting Thoughts,” “And Housing Becomes Parking,” “Convenient Parking, Well Aren’t You Feeling Real Dirty,” “Westland Tries To Buy Time With Fancy Drawings,” “Parking As Predicted,” “More Ranting About How The City Has Failed Renters,” “People Used To Live Here,” “It’s Not Quite Dead Yet,” “Learned Helplessness” and “Renters Lose Again”.

Well, that temporary zoning was passed on March 18, 2013. And as it’s now April of 2016, that means the three years are up as of last month.

And guess what! Instead of coming forward three years later with a keen development plan for that site, the owners of the 1755 Hamilton surface parking lot are — big honking surprise to absolutely no one at Prairie Dog — requesting a three year extension for their parking lot. You can see the development application that’s appeared on the city’s website by embiggening the graphic at the top of this post.

That temporary surface parking lot is kinda starting to look like a downtown fixture now, eh?

Continue reading “Happy Birthday, Parking Lot”

Weekly Reckoning

weekly-reckoning1 TAKE THAT, FUTURE ROBOT OVERLORDS Google’s AlphaGo is a frighteningly good (and sometimes creative) program that has been beating humans in games of Go. Finally, a human has triumphed. Go champion Lee Sedol managed to force the machine to resign from a game after five hours.

2 OUTREACH After 9/11, Zarqa Narwaz knew she had to do something to fight against Islamophobia. So she started with visits to her daughter’s class and a bag of Kinder eggs.

3 WHEN NOT TO CONGRATULATE EACH OTHER Sheriff’s deputies from Coweta County, GA, handcuffed Chase Alan Sherman and tasered him until he died. Then they high-fived each other.

The county coroner has ruled the death to be a homicide.

4 MOVIE NOT SO WHITE 2015’s critical and box-office blip Exposed, a gritty NYC drug crime thriller starring Keanu Reeves, was originally called Daughter of God, a psychologically complex movie about a Latina woman in NYC starring Cuban actress Ana de Armas. The director took his name off the film in disgust after heavy studio editing effectively turned it into a standard thriller. But what was the original film like?

5 COULD THERE BE A SURER SIGN OF GLOBAL WARMING? The Milky Way opened early this year.


Awesome Aussie PSAs

A trio of hilariously surreal public service announcements have surfaced courtesy the Australian state of New South Wales that are supposed to be aimed at warning young people about the dangers of smoking marijuana.

Apparently, indulging in the demon weed will cause you to grow fur all over your body, develop long sharp claws and be rendered mute outside of emitting the odd morose bellow like a constipated conservative.

Truly frightening, they are. And I’m sure they’re going to be massively effective in scaring Aussie youth away from cannabis. If you haven’t seen them yet, here they are in all their glory:

Election 2015: Dubious Endorsement Scandal Deepens


cdnelxncircleMaybe you missed it? In the latest issue of Prairie Dog, the paper’s corporate overlords penned an endorsement of Stephen Harper’s Conservative Party. It’s odd because so much that’s appeared in those pages over the years has been highly critical of Harper’s regime and yet there it is. Lines like: “You must elect a majority government led by Stephen Harper,” “Canada needs steady leadership in the years ahead,” and “In Stephen Harper’s Canada, markets talk and hippy bullshit walks.”

Despicable. I couldn’t sleep at night if I didn’t speak out against such corporatist shilling.

But it turns out the scandalous behaviour runs much deeper than merely caving to pressure from the bosses. After some Googling, I’ve discovered that many of the lines penned by Prairie Dog‘s owners were plagiarized.

Continue reading “Election 2015: Dubious Endorsement Scandal Deepens”

Weekly Reckoning: Togarishi Edition

weekly-reckoningHave you ever tried shichimi togarishi? It’s a seven-spice blend of Japanese pepper, nori, black sesame seeds and whatever else. I sprinkled a bit on some corn-on-the-cob today, and I have to say, I’ve had worse things in my life. Why don’t you sit down for a while and think about all the things you haven’t tried and may never get around to trying before your heart reaches its allotted number of beats? It can be comforting. If you’re a crazy person.

1. EUROPE YOU SO CRAZY The Communist Party is polling well in Portugal and may end up forming the next government if trends hold. It would be weird to see the European Union’s southern limbs drop off, but there you go.

2. ALL THE ARBITRARY BUT FASCINATING REASONS YOU CAN’T WEAR WHITE AFTER LABOUR DAY But the real reason is that God will come to your house and lick everything in the fridge. Anyway, enjoy!

3. GO HOME SCIENCE YOU’RE DRUNK Some super-dumb scientists produced a cockamamie study that says my cats don’t love me. Well I’ve got enough love for all of us, science.

4. HEY EVERYONE, I JUST DISCOVERED SOME TRUE SUFFERING HERE Never mind refugees, here’s the harrowing tale of a guy who lined up outside a Toys “R” Us for Star Wars toys and came away empty-handed. Well, almost empty-handed – he got some toys, but not the toys he wanted. Not the cool ones. Also, a bunch of kids didn’t get Star Wars toys because grown men lined up outside toy stores to relive their childhoods. Also, refugees.

5. THE EGG COUNCIL CONSPIRACY IS REAL! The American Egg Board launched a campaign to crush food bloggers, a celebrity chef and a Silicon Valley egg-replacement startup. Every part of the last sentence is more ridiculous than every other part.


Redneck Assholes Flying The Confederate Flag At Craven

The Redneck Asshole Flag. Also known fondly as the Stars 'n' Farts.
The Redneck Asshole Flag. Also known fondly as the Stars ‘n’ Farts.

The CBC is reporting that some dimwits at the Craven Country Jamboree are flying Confederate flags. And I hope we can all agree that’s an extremely uncool thing to be doing right now.

The excuses offered by the dimwits are of the “I don’t see the big deal,” variety.

“Everything’s getting blown up way too much. It’s just a flag,” says one of the Confederate flag lovers.

And that got me thinking. We need a flag we can fly in protest of such idiocy. Up top is my first, hasty attempt.

It’s the Redneck Asshole Flag.

Continue reading “Redneck Assholes Flying The Confederate Flag At Craven”

Weekly Reckoning: Inexplicable Edition

weekly-reckoningGreetings. The year 2015 has begun. So far it’s been exactly like 2014, but possibly slightly worse. But a few bits of news have stood out. Here are some things made me smile, frown, cry-laugh, cry-eat and sleep-write.

1. GRATEFUL PALESTINIANS MAKE HIGH-VELOCITY DIY OMELETTE FOR JOHN BAIRD Dozens of Palestinians welcomed John Baird to Ramallah by serving him the world’s fastest, least prepared egg dish, pelting his convoy with eggs and shoes as he drove to a meeting with Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad Malki. “We know you’re very busy, so please accept these ingredients for our traditional shoe-egg fritatta!” they shouted as he passed by. Later, Baird napped on a towering midden of children’s skulls.

2. TWITTER NOW FEATURES A ‘CHOOSE YOUR OWN ADVENTURE’ ADVENTURE Try it out, Twitter people (“tweople”): go to @wnd_go and begin your adventure. It’s relatively short because nearly every pathway in the branching maze of choices leads to horrific death, which is pretty much how i remember those books. Ah, sweet childhood.

3. ONCE MORE, YOU CAN DIAL A SONG ’90s Indie music group They Might Be Giants have resurrected Dial-a-Song, their goofy and charming service that lets you listen to a new song every week over the phone. Remember phones? Give it a try. (844) 387-6962.

4. ALL QUIET ON THE WEEDY FRONT Marijuana legalization is turning a year old this month, and so far all seems well. The dire consequences (rampant pot use, accident fatalities, ‘Reefer Fever’) predicted by legalization opponents have largely failed to materialize. I’d be more worried about the retail supply chain for junk food than anything else.

5. WHY DID THIS HAPPEN? Why did someone (filmmaker Isaac Royffe) make a supercut of Angela Lansbury epiphanies from Murder She Wrote? Why is it an entire hour long? Why did I watch so much of it? Am I going to finish it, and if so, why? What terrible power does Angela Lansbury hold over us? Why is it fascinating to watch hundreds of versions of Lansbury making that ‘a-ha’ face? Why are you watching it right now? If not, why not? Please answer each one of these questions using a standard No. 2 HB pencil and submit to prairie dog magazine. Please print legibly in complete sentences.

Weekly Reckoning Of The Week of Reckoning Every Week Edition

weekly-reckoningHello! It’s time to reckon with things. Lucky for us, Pope Gregory XIII straightened out time for us with his handy calendar that lets us reckon on a weekly basis. Let’s get started. Which is really to say, let’s continue.

1. BREAKING: CBC DUMPS JIAN GHOMESHI What? CBC announced today that it is ‘ending its relationship’ with Jian Ghomeshi, host of Q. CBC won’t disclose the circumstances behind the decision, but Ghomeshi is planning to sue the Corpse for a nice $50 million, citing bad faith and breach of confidence. I have no idea what went on behind the scenes or who may be in the right, but I will say this much: CBC, you had one celebrity.

EDITED TO ADD: It’ll probably emerge that Ghomeshi has been doing some truly awful things, which will make my comments look insensitive and glib.

UPDATED: Ghomeshi posts an extremely detailed defence on Facebook.

2. WHO NAMES A RACCOON DENNIS ANYWAY Actually, I have the answer for that: Saskatoon resident Wendy Hook is the mysterious raccoon-namer and -keeper. Unfortunately, the labyrinth of Saskatoon bureaucracy has no provision for raccoons as pets. The Hooks have been pleading with the city, but it doesn’t appear likely that they’ll be able to keep Dennis around. Pity the Hooks and their pet Dennis, with his undoubtedly ridiculous little raccoon hands.

3. KULTUR MACHT SPASS Don Delillo, author of the po-mo classic White Noise, reviews eight seconds of white noise from Taylor Swift.

4. “THERE MAY BE TWO KINDS OF FEMALE ORGASM AFTER ALLThis is the sort of headline I will always click on.

5. WHO WILL PROP UP OUR BOOM-FUELLED JINGOISTIC MUNICIPAL FANTASIES NOW? The Roughriders keep losing games. Come on, Riders. We can’t go back to those pre-boom underdog days. Regina is a world-class something something. We can’t build a brand new stadium to house humiliation.



Weekly Reckoning: Authoritardian Edition

weekly-reckoningGood afternoon, everyone! Can you believe this weather we’re having? No. No, you cannot believe this weather we’re having, because weather is only the visible aspect of a system so complex that it embodies the paradox of chaos as the avatar of such an incomprehensible and terrifyingly sublime order that we can only understand it as transcendent perfection. It may be most useful to say “No, I can’t believe this weather, but I do believe in this weather.” Then, when your friend gives you the quizzical side-eye, hand him or her a little photocopied pamphlet with smeary illustrations and walk on.

Let’s have some news.

1. “CANADA HAS FAILED TO UPHOLD THE HONOUR OF THE CROWN” Strong words from Matthew Coon Come on Canada’s intransigence on aboriginal issues and our ongoing shabby performance on the global stage.

2. A PERFECT EXAMPLE OF THE AUTHORITARDIAN MENTALITY So it seems that a gay employee at a Taco John’s restaurant in South Dakota was given a name tag that said “GAYTARD” in big block lettering. Note to abusive employers: be subtle about your deranged bullying and don’t leave a paper trail. Which in this case is a name tag.

3. KIRBY ESTATE SETTLES WITH MARVEL Well, that only took forever, but it seems that the estate of the man who helped create of Marvel’s most enduring (and profitable) characters will be getting some piece of the action.

4. “BITTERSWEET,” MRS. FORD MUTTERED, AND DISAPPEARED INTO MEPHITIC CLOUDS OF BARBECUE SMOKE THAT HUNG OVER THE CROWD AND COHERED LIKE SOME GASEOUS ORGANISM OF PURE PROTEIN Rob Ford made his first public appearance since his cancer diagnosis at the annual Ford Fest barbecue. Reporters were on hand to collect comments.

5. PEOPLE STILL AWFUL A Saskatoon church cancelled a funeral after a volunteer told the deceased’s wife that they ‘did not want his kind there’. Apparently the obituary photo of the not-alive and not-likely-to-bother-anyone man depicted him wearing a Sons of Anarchy t-shirt. It’s not clear whether the volunteer mistook the deceased for a gang member or just really disapproved of the creative stagnation that set in on the TV show around season five.

All Rosie Wants is His Galaxy S3. Or His Money Back.

If you purchased an insurance policy along with your new cell phone from a year or so ago, and the policy was held by GWG Insurance of Toronto don’t be surprised if you can’t collect your insurance policy if your phone gets stolen, goes missing, or gets broken. Regrettably, I speak with the voice of experience.

In November 2012 I purchased a Galaxy S3 from the store at the Cornwall Centre, complete with a $7 per month insurance policy, in case the phone is ever stolen, broken, or what not. Around the 23 of July this year, it was stolen (The Regina Police Service and the North American cell phone system, through SaskTel, have the phone’s serial number so anyone trying to register the phone on any cell phone network will have some explaining to do, preferably to an RPS officer with the badge number 5293). So if you see anyone with a red 16 G S3, you might want to ask how he or she got it.

A day or so later, I contacted about launching an insurance claim. The guy at the store printed off the bill of sale, highlighted the toll-free number of GWG Insurance, and their fax number, and told me to call them. So I did. The person at the other end of the line told me they needed a $95 deductible before they send me my replacement phone. So I did, via registered mail (I have a phobia about using credit cards on the internet). For three or four days, I called GWG Insurance in Toronto, asking if they got the $95. Nope, said the people answering the phone. Either it’s in the mail room, or Canada Post hasn’t delivered it.

So I phoned Canada Post. It was delivered to the address specified on July 26.

So I called GWG Insurance in Toronto again, on July 31. Oh, they might not have cashed it, the person at the other end of the line told me. And then they have to get approval from the head office in New York. (New York? This was the first I had heard of it).

So on August 1, I called GWG Insurance’s toll-free number again. This time I got a recording: “THIS NUMBER IS NO LONGER IN SERVICE OR HAS BEEN DISCONNECTED.”

What the …

On the off chance that the loss of phone service had to do with the phone system going AWOL during a holiday weekend, I called on Tuesday. I got the same message. You can hear for yourself when you call 1.877.293.6843.

After the first time I got the recorded message, I got back in touch with, asking what the hell was up. The assistant manager of the Cornwall Centre store told me that he understood why I was frustrated but both parties had entered into the insurance agreement in good faith, and that for some reason or other, no longer provides cell phone insurance coverage with GWG Insurance.

So, who should I be angry at? The rapscallion who made off with my cell phone? Sure, but who is he or she? They just sold me the phone. I could have said no to the insurance policy (that way, by my calculations, I could have had an extra $237 towards my replacement phone ($7 for 21 months plus the $95 deductible). (UPDATE: the manager of the Cornwall Centre operation sold me a new smartphone, cutting a deal and acknowledging the inconvenience) GWG Insurance? I would be if I could find them in Toronto.

Then again, there appears to be a lot of people throughout North American who are also mad at GWG Insurance. And, like me, they don’t seem to be getting anywhere with their complaints to the company, either.


Dunno What Stupidity Affected U Of R Cheerleaders, But It’s Spread To North Dakota

Much like Saskatchewan, the state of North Dakota is living proof of the inverse relationship between new oil money and intelligence …

A group of students at the University of North Dakota are being criticized after they created and wore T-shirts that seemed to make light of alcoholism in the Native American community.

The website Last Real Indians pointed out the controversy after photos of students in the T-shirt began to spread on social media. The shirts depict a stereotypical “Indian chief head” drinking from a beer bong. Above the head are the words, “Siouxper Drunk.”

How do they let people that stupid into university in the first place? Mostly because the university`s administration doesn’t care, apparently.

Rock, flag and eagle, everybody.

Cathedral Finds Walking Difficult After Getting Kicked In The Connaughts

Odds are you’ve probably heard that the Regina Public School Board voted last night to shut down Connaught School permanently at the end of this school year. The decision follows from a surprise engineering report in February saying the building had serious foundation and structural problems and would not be safe much beyond June. Plus, the Board received word yesterday that they would not be able to get insurance for the building even if maintenance work was done to extend the building’s life.

So, no insurance, no school.

Pity to see the beloved pile of bricks being prepped for the wrecking ball. If only Regina Public School Board had thought to put out a tender ten or so years back to get foundation and structural work done on the building.

I imagine that tender notice would’ve looked something like this one that ran recently and calls for bidders on work that needs to be done on Lakeview School.

Lakeview TenderBut I mean, how could Regina Public School Board have known 10 years ago that a building like Connaught that was pushing a 100 years in age would need foundation work?

And how could they have known that the Cathedral neighbourhood would want to keep the school?

I mean, seriously. They’re school trustees. Not oracles.

One should read this as an indication of how difficult it can be to work when you only have imperfect information and certainly not as evidence that the Regina Public School Board and/or the provincial Ministry of Education has wanted to find a reason to bulldoze at least one school in the Cathedral Neighbourhood all along, regardless the wishes of the community.

And you certainly shouldn’t look upon the imminent demise of the Connaught School building and then scoff at the Public School administration when they were patting themselves on the back during their AGM about their commitment to preventative maintenance.

I mean, look! They’re going to spend a bundle on preventative maintenance on Lakeview School so that it never needs to be torn down!

As for Connaught… well… god aren’t those Cathedral residents smug? Don’t you just want to punch them right in their brick buildings?

And I’m sure that whichever architectural firm gets the contract to build the new Connaught School *coughp3acough* will build a very shiny industrial box that won’t be a petrie dish in which to culture fascists.

Weekly Reckoning: Stay Inside Or Freeze Your Eyeballs Edition

weekly-reckoningYes, it’s cold. This is not news. It’s an ongoing and eternal condition. This lousy weather trumps your verb tenses and freezes all time into an unchanging lattice of stilled space-time. But in the meantime, there’s the Internet.

1. SOME SORT OF SELF-SERVING MEDIA CELEBRATION IS GOING ON That’s right! It’s Oscar night! Celebrities are putting on their Oscar hats, having their teeth fitted with Oscar grills and wearing the skins of past Oscar winners. You can watch it on TV, but I prefer the snark-laden live blog on Deadline Hollywood, which usually collapses in a heap of disgust before the night is over. Unlike previous years, Nikki Finke won’t be providing the commentary, so it may be a little more measured. If schadenfreude’s your thing, check out The Razzie Awards and find out who took home a Golden Raspberry.

2. NO CANADIAN BOOTS ON THE GROUND FOR UKRAINE John Baird, who isn’t winning any awards for being our cuddliest politician, ruled out military intervention in Ukraine, even though he’s not afraid to make noise about possible diplomatic sanctions.

3. IT’S LIKE HERDING ONE-EYED CATS Before R&B music was absorbed by the musical establishment like delicious sauce being swiped up by a big bland white towel, it could get pretty filthy. Here is a guide to the salacious, smutty and downright obscene music of early R&B.

4. LASER-POWERED MIND CONTROL Scientists. Using lasers. To make a fly copulate with a ball of wax. SCIENCE.

5. FAITH-BASED SEX LAWS DOING AN END-RUN AROUND JUSTICE In Phoenix, prostitutes have been subject to mass detainment without a formal arrest or access to a lawyer. Instead of jail, they’re taken to… a church. Where they’re lectured on the evil of their ways in a “diversion program,” the alternative to which is jail time. Read this piece and weep (warning: really obnoxious and pervy American Apparel ad running on the page).