Regina’s Best Sushi Restaurant Has Closed

We’ve lost Michi. From Facebook:

To Our Valued Patrons,

Due to a decrease in sales over the past few years, we have decided to close our doors as of June 13th, 2015. We want to thank you for your years of loyalty and patronage, as we have enjoyed being a part of the community for the last 12 years. We apologize for any inconveniences this may cause.

Michi Japanese Restaurant and Sushi Bar.

Well this sucks. I’ve never had sushi in Regina that touched Michi’s. Nothing’s even close. And Mich just won Best Sushi again, too (deservedly). If I’d known Michi was in danger of closing I’d have mobilized support. Hordes of sushi-fanatics would’ve been rallied. Shit. Shit. Shit. Now what? Anyone?

Oh My God, Robin Williams Is Dead

It’s apparently suicide. I’ve been looking for video clips since I saw the news on Twitter 45 minutes ago. Sadly, a lot of William’s humour doesn’t hold up, but his acting does. I think I’ll go with this comic scene from a movie I’m fond of by a director I love.

Too young, too soon, absolutely heartbreaking. Were there a heaven, I’d like to think Williams would be enjoying a cocktail with his fan Johnny Carson right now. God dammit. Rest in peace, beloved comedian.

UPDATE: I see James posted this news before me. That’s okay. I think everyone loved Robin Williams.

Weekly Reckoning: Your Favourite Woody Allen Film Edition

weekly-reckoning1. MINE IS MANHATTAN, A FILM IN WHICH ALLEN IS TORN BETWEEN AN ADULT WOMAN AND A TEENAGE GIRL. HUH. After a whole lot of back-and-forth about whether Woody Allen molested his daughter at the age of seven, Dylan Farrow speaks up with an open letter that minces no words. In a piece that leads with the question “What’s your favourite Woody Allen film?” she states plainly and unequivocally that Allen sexually assaulted her when she was a child and got away with it. Trigger warning.

2. HERE’S A QUICK GUIDE TO LOSING YOUR ORDER OF CANADA 1) Be Conrad Moffat Black, aka Baron Black of Crossharbour. 2) That’s it, really. It helps to have fraud and obstruction of justice convictions pulling you along like two mighty horses of venality, but you know that Black and Canada would have come to this point by some route.

3. MISTER HOFFMAN, HE DEAD. Thoroughly excellent actor Philip Seymour Hoffman, usually the best thing in any movie he appeared in, was found dead of an apparent drug overdose. The guy who told me about it shook his head, snorted a bit and said “Hollywood.” So there you go. Hollywood.

4. LEX LUTHOR AS MARK ZUCKERBERG. Jesse Eisenberg has been cast as Lex Luthor in the upcoming Man of Steel 2: Batman Loves Superman, in which the two heroes leave their friends behind and open a bar in Chicago Superman movie. Hmm. I see what they’re doing there. Maybe Luthor will invent a ray that puts red underwear on Superman, which is intended to humiliate him, but actually increases his Kryptonian powers. Then Superman punches Luthor into the moon and flies around the Earth a few times in order to reverse time so he can punch him through the moon all over again.

5. YOU STUPID, STUPID, STUPID AND ALSO STUPID GROUNDHOG. Six more weeks of winter. Thanks, ritual animal harbinger. It’s not enough that you get to live the life of Groundhog Riley, with liveried men attending to your every groundhog need. Why are we getting our weather from some glorified marmot?

A Snake Escapes From A New Brunswick Pet Store And Kills Two Children

Well, shit. I guess as Prairie Dog’s official snake guy I’ve got to post about this tragedy. From CBC:

Two children died after a python got into an apartment in Campbellton, N.B., police say. “Police are investigating two sudden deaths of two young boys,” Const. Julie Rogers-Marsh said Monday. It’s believed the snake escaped from a pet store called Reptile Ocean. The victims were boys aged five and seven. They were visiting a friend in the apartment above the store, police said in a statement released Monday. Rogers-Marsh said the preliminary investigation led police to believe that a python snake escaped its enclosure at the store sometime overnight. Initial information indicates the snake got into the ventilation system and then into the apartment upstairs. “It’s believed the two boys were strangled by the snake,” she said, noting that autopsies are scheduled for tomorrow in Saint John.

This is terrible. It’s also incredibly weird–I’ve never heard of this happening. On the rare occasion a child is killed by a pet snake (usually a Burmese or reticulated python, which is what I bet this “boa” will turn out to be), gross owner negligence–like putting a huge python in a crib with a baby–is usually involved. Breaking out of a cage, sneaking into an adjacent apartment and killing children is a new one. It’s the stuff of nightmares, for sure. Tragic all around.

UPDATE: It was apparently an especially ill-tempered African rock python– which I’ve never heard being kept as pets. CTV says the children were five and seven, and were asleep when the snake attacked. Just brutal.

UPDATE 2: CTV has mostly excellent coverage here and here. My only quibble is the conflation of commonly kept, harmless or essentially harmless pythons — like three to five foot ball pythons and large but generally extremely tame Burmese pythons — with this uncommon and  possibly more aggressive animal. Again, rock pythons are exceedingly uncommon snakes in captivity. For perspective, I have met (two or three) people who have kept rattlesnakes (legally and not in cities) but I’ve never met anyone who owned a rock python. I Googled and did find one for sale in Ontario; for $250 — the sellers stated they would only sell the animal to someone with experience keeping large snakes. Rock pythons appear to be more commonly kept in the U.K. They’re rare here. This isn’t going to happen to your kids.

This incident is freakishly unique. And awful.


R.I.P., Alex Colville

Hound In Field, 1958One of Canada’s greatest painters, whose work I’m a fan of,  has passed away at 92. From CBC:

While Colville’s images seemed to be taken directly from reality, he drew them from multiple sketches and studies, planning a perfect composition before he began to paint. The painting process could take months — with layer upon layer of thinned paint painstakingly applied dot by dot to a primed wooden panel. “Behind his words, as behind his art, you can sense elaborate webs of thought. And, also like his paintings, he stands quite alone, beyond category. It’s impossible to speak with him for a few hours without feeling his powerful sense of self. He is, it seems, a free man.” Robert Fulford wrote in Toronto Life in 2000. The tranquil scenes are deceptive, because something about the relationship between figures or the nature of the landscape will convey loneliness, isolation, parting, work, leisure, estrangement, love.

“I see life as inherently dangerous. I have an essentially dark view of the world and human affairs .. Anxiety is the normality of our age,” Colville was quoted as saying.

I was born in 1967 on John A. MacDonald’s birthday and Colville designed a special run of coins to mark that auspicious occasion (some have incorrectly claimed the coins were issued to mark Canada’s 100th birthday). Also that year, Colville painted Pacific, an ominous work that Sask lit nerds will remember gracing the cover of Dave Margoshes 2007 short story collection Bix’s Trumpet And Other Stories.

AlexColville_Pacific.tiI went to a Colville talk in Winnipeg in the early 1990s with my pal Chris Hlady. Colville was intelligent, warm and gave good slideshow. Someone asked him why his animals have faces and his people don’t. I can’t recall his answer. He might have dodged the question to let us figure that one out.

Also, he showed a small painting he’d done of a bat which obviously made me like him more.

Rest in peace, Alex Colville. Thank you for making my life richer.

Roger Ebert Has Died

Oh, no.

Roger Ebert, the popular film critic and television co-host who along with his fellow reviewer and sometime sparring partner Gene Siskel could lift or sink the fortunes of a movie with their trademark thumbs up or thumbs down, died on Thursday. He was 70. His death was announced by The Chicago Sun-Times, where he had worked for many years.

Mr. Ebert’s struggle with cancer, starting in 2002, gave him an altogether different public image — as someone who refused to surrender to illness. Though he had operations for cancer of the thyroid, salivary glands and chin, lost his ability to eat, drink and speak (he was fed through a tube and a prosthesis partly obscured the loss of much of his chin) and became a gaunter version of his once-portly self, he continued to write reviews and commentary and published a cookbook he had started, on meals that could be made with a rice cooker.

“When I am writing, my problems become invisible, and I am the same person I always was,” he told Esquire magazine in 2010. “All is well. I am as I should be.”

He was the greatest. I’ll miss him terribly. Rest in peace.

School Board Decision On Connaught Is Actually Doubleplusungood For Heritage Architecture


For a moment last night I was thrilled about Connaught being rebuilt!  (CBC) (Global) (LP)

Then my hopes were dashed by CTV’s coverage that said Connaught will actually be replaced.

Well played, Regina, well played. You get me every time.

Fuck You, Texas You Evil Shithole

A Texas man convicted of killing a police informant has been executed after the US supreme court rejected arguments that he was too mentally impaired to receive the death penalty.

Marvin Wilson, 54, was pronounced dead 14 minutes after his lethal injection began at the state prison in Huntsville on Tuesday night. Wilson’s attorneys had argued that he should have been exempt from capital punishment because of his low IQ.

Before the lethal drugs were administered Wilson smiled and raised his head from the death-chamber gurney, nodding to his three sisters and son as they watched through a window a few metres away. He told them several times that he loved them and asked that they give his mother “a big hug”.

“Y’all do understand that I came here a sinner and leaving a saint,” he said. “Take me home Jesus, take me home Lord, take me home Lord!”

More here.

R.I.P., Handsome Furs

One of my favourite bands has announced they’ve called it quits. Sucks. Dan Boeckner and Alexei Perry were in Regina last summer and played one of the best shows I’ve seen. They also very friendly people, too. Earlier this year they cancelled a tour due to health reasons, so hopefully they’re okay.

Here’s the video for their best song, “What About Us” from their 2011 record Sound Capitol. This is the censored version but it’s still a little porny so this might be NSFW. But hopefully you’re not at work after five on a Friday, anyway.

Half Mast in Cracked Axle

Ron Petrie, longtime humour columnist and enthusiastic chronicler of life in Saskatchewan, died Sunday of cancer. The Leader-Post‘s Will Chabun has a fine obit here, but for a full appreciation for the guy and for the writer (I knew, admired, and liked both) go read his columns. “Sask. at the Crossroads” and “Canada Malama, A Wop Bam Boom” are two recent classics.

Christopher Hitchens, 1949 – 2011

Hitchens died last night of pneumonia, a complication of his esophageal cancer. He was 62.

The Guardian on his passing, also Slate and Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter.

Update: Over at Pharyngula, PZ Myers writes the best headline for his Hitchens tribute: “Hitch is not in heaven.”

From his article….

I do not say farewell to Hitch. I do not say “rest in peace”. I definitely do not say that he has gone to a better place. I actually find myself already bracing myself for the next sign of deep disrespect that is destined to appear soon: the hackneyed political cartoon that draws him standing at the pearly gates.

Hitch is dead. We are a diminished people for the loss. There can be and should be no consolation, no soft words that encourage an illusion of heavenly rescue, no balm of lies. We should feel as we do with every death, that a part of us has been ripped from our hearts, and suffer pain and grief — and we are reminded that this is the fate we all face, that someday we too will die, and that we are all “living dyingly”, as Hitch put it so well.

Well put.

A few more of my favourite Hitchens clips after the jump, including Hitchens singing Eric Idle’s “Drinking Philosophers Song”.

Continue reading “Christopher Hitchens, 1949 – 2011”

Jack’s Last Words

August 20, 2011

Toronto, Ontario

Dear Friends,

Tens of thousands of Canadians have written to me in recent weeks to wish me well. I want to thank each and every one of you for your thoughtful, inspiring and often beautiful notes, cards and gifts. Your spirit and love have lit up my home, my spirit, and my determination.

Unfortunately my treatment has not worked out as I hoped. So I am giving this letter to my partner Olivia to share with you in the circumstance in which I cannot continue.

I recommend that Hull-Aylmer MP Nycole Turmel continue her work as our interim leader until a permanent successor is elected.

I recommend the party hold a leadership vote as early as possible in the New Year, on approximately the same timelines as in 2003, so that our new leader has ample time to reconsolidate our team, renew our party and our program, and move forward towards the next election.

A few additional thoughts:

To other Canadians who are on journeys to defeat cancer and to live their lives, I say this: please don’t be discouraged that my own journey hasn’t gone as well as I had hoped. You must not lose your own hope. Treatments and therapies have never been better in the face of this disease. You have every reason to be optimistic, determined, and focused on the future. My only other advice is to cherish every moment with those you love at every stage of your journey, as I have done this summer.

To the members of my party: we’ve done remarkable things together in the past eight years. It has been a privilege to lead the New Democratic Party and I am most grateful for your confidence, your support, and the endless hours of volunteer commitment you have devoted to our cause. There will be those who will try to persuade you to give up our cause. But that cause is much bigger than any one leader. Answer them by recommitting with energy and determination to our work. Remember our proud history of social justice, universal health care, public pensions and making sure no one is left behind. Let’s continue to move forward. Let’s demonstrate in everything we do in the four years before us that we are ready to serve our beloved Canada as its next government.

To the members of our parliamentary caucus: I have been privileged to work with each and every one of you. Our caucus meetings were always the highlight of my week. It has been my role to ask a great deal from you. And now I am going to do so again. Canadians will be closely watching you in the months to come. Colleagues, I know you will make the tens of thousands of members of our party proud of you by demonstrating the same seamless teamwork and solidarity that has earned us the confidence of millions of Canadians in the recent election.

To my fellow Quebecers: On May 2nd, you made an historic decision. You decided that the way to replace Canada’s Conservative federal government with something better was by working together in partnership with progressive-minded Canadians across the country. You made the right decision then; it is still the right decision today; and it will be the right decision right through to the next election, when we will succeed, together. You have elected a superb team of New Democrats to Parliament. They are going to be doing remarkable things in the years to come to make this country better for us all.

To young Canadians: All my life I have worked to make things better. Hope and optimism have defined my political career, and I continue to be hopeful and optimistic about Canada. Young people have been a great source of inspiration for me. I have met and talked with so many of you about your dreams, your frustrations, and your ideas for change. More and more, you are engaging in politics because you want to change things for the better. Many of you have placed your trust in our party. As my time in political life draws to a close I want to share with you my belief in your power to change this country and this world. There are great challenges before you, from the overwhelming nature of climate change to the unfairness of an economy that excludes so many from our collective wealth, and the changes necessary to build a more inclusive and generous Canada. I believe in you. Your energy, your vision, your passion for justice are exactly what this country needs today. You need to be at the heart of our economy, our political life, and our plans for the present and the future.

And finally, to all Canadians: Canada is a great country, one of the hopes of the world. We can be a better one – a country of greater equality, justice, and opportunity. We can build a prosperous economy and a society that shares its benefits more fairly. We can look after our seniors. We can offer better futures for our children. We can do our part to save the world’s environment. We can restore our good name in the world. We can do all of these things because we finally have a party system at the national level where there are real choices; where your vote matters; where working for change can actually bring about change. In the months and years to come, New Democrats will put a compelling new alternative to you. My colleagues in our party are an impressive, committed team. Give them a careful hearing; consider the alternatives; and consider that we can be a better, fairer, more equal country by working together. Don’t let them tell you it can’t be done.

My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world.

All my very best,

Jack Layton

(via CBC)