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31 Days Of Hammer: The Abominable Snowman

31-days-of-hammer1957 was a big year for Hammer. They had Quatermass 2 and this horror film from Quatermass writer Nigel Kneale based on Kneale TV play The Creature. But both features were overshadowed by the release of The Curse of Frankenstein. Still Kneale’s The Abominable Snowman or The Abominable Snowman of the Himalayas as it was known in the U.S. (I guess Americans needed to be told where yetis come from) is an excellent low budget horror film.

Kneale wrote the screenplay and Peter Cushing, who was mostly a TV actor at the time was cast in the lead, a role that he had played in the TV version of The Creature. Cushing was also cast in em>The Curse of Frankenstein and would quickly become a steady part of Hammer’s horror success.

Abominable snowmanCushing is a scientist visiting a monastery in the Himalayas along with his wife and assistant. He crosses paths with Tom Friend (Forrest Tucker) who along with a trapper and a photographer are searching for the Yeti. Cushing intrigued by the scientific thought of the missing link decides to go with them despite protests from the Lama and his wife.

As the group continues to climb up higher in the mountains, they discover tracks proving that the Yeti exists. It becomes clear to Cushing that Friend is only in it for the money, he wants to either catch a live Yeti or kill one to bring back for fame and fortune. The photographer gets injured and tension starts to rise among the group. After the trapper shoots and kills a Yeti, it becomes clear that the beast is not alone in the snow.

Director Val Guest managed to make of the most of the small budget and he decided it would be better not to really show the Yeti in but rather imply it, a hand here, some eyes there. The tension comes more from the men in the party going mad from the cries of companions lost in the snow. The black and white photography creates a cold icy adventure in the snow and ice.

The movie wasn’t a big hit for Hammer but over the years it has been reevaluated and has gained a following. The new Hammer Film productions that just started up a few years ago making movies like Let Me In and The Woman in Black has expressed interest in remaking The Abominable Snowman. Not sure it’s going to happen but it would be interesting to see if it maintains the psychological aspects of the story – guilt, greed and paranoia or will they turn it into a CGI monster movie. I’d opt for the first choice.

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Hitchhikers Improv

HitchhikersImprovLast spring, the University of Regina student newspaper The Carillon did a profile on this local improv group. They’ve already kicked off their 2015-16 season with two shows in September, but there’s still plenty of improv fun to come.

The performances are held at the Artesian, with doors at 7:30 p.m. Admission is $7 for adults and $5 for high school students.  

Your next chance to see the troupe is Tuesday Oct. 6, After that, there’s shows on Oct. 27; Nov. 17; Dec. 1; Dec. 15; Jan. 12; Jan. 26; Feb. 16; March 1; March 15; April 5; April 19; May 3; and the season will culminate with the Hitchhikers Improv Festival May 17-19.

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31 Days of Hammer: X The Unknown

31-days-of-hammerWhen Hammer found international success with The Quatermass Xperiment they knew they quickly wanted to repeat their success and created a new sci-fi horror story but found that Quatermass creator Nigel Kneale refused to allow them the rights to Quatermass. Kneale didn’t want his characters used in a story not written by him, so after quick renaming of the main character, Hammer was ready to make X the Unknown.

Blacklisted director Joseph Losey was set to direct by star Dean Jagger refused to work with him so Losey removed and Leslie Norman was brought in at the last moment.
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Calendar Girls

Written by Tim Firth, this comedy is based on the true story of a group of Yorkshire women who in 1999 banded together to do a nudie calendar to raise money for cancer research.

The story was first told in the form of a 2003 British film starring Helen Mirren and Julie Walters, and the stage play was written later and debuted in London in 2008.

This production of Calendar Girls is presented by Regina Little Theatre. It will run at the Regina Performing Arts Centre Oct. 7-9 at 7:30 p.m., and on Oct. 10 at 1:30 and 7:30 p.m.

For more information visit the RLT website. And to give you a taste of what the story is like, here’s the trailer for the film

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31 Days Of Hammer: Quatermass And The Pit

31-days-of-hammerEven though the first two Quatermass movies were big hits for Hammer, they wouldn’t adapt Nigel Kneale’s third Quatermass TV serial until 1967 almost 10 years after the serial was televised.

It took a while for the production to get going but this time Nigel Kneale got his wish and Quatermass was recast. Andrew Keir stepped into the good professor’s shoes.

Quatermass and the pitConstruction of the London Underground has been going good until workers dig up some remains under an area known as Hobbs End. Scientists (James Donald and Barbara Shelley) are called in and discover that the bones are that of ape men millions of years older than the current oldest find. Further digging uncovers a strange metal object that is quickly suspected of being and unexploded German bomb. Meanwhile Quatermass is disappointed that the military is taking over his moon colonization project and when the military are called into investigate the find, Quatermass tags along.
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James Minifie Lecture

Derek StoffelGuest-speaker for the 35th annual Minifie lecture which is being held at the University of Regina on Tuesday Oct. 6 is CBC foreign correspondent Derek Stoffel (pictured above).

Currently based in Jerusalem, Stoffel has been in the thick of a lot of stories lately, from the ongoing Syrian refugee crisis to the Mohamed Fahmy “trial” in Egypt to the intense fighting that broke out in the Gaza Strip last summer between Hamas and Israeli forces that cost over 2000 Palestinian civilians their lives. Prior to that, Stoffel spent time in Afghanistan covering the Canadian military effort in that war-torn country.

Stoffel was born and raised in Regina, and holds degrees in journalism and political science from the University of Regina. The topic of his talk is “Staying in the Field: Why Face-To-Face Journalism Matters”. The Minifie lecture is sponsored by the U of R School of Journalism, and it will be held Tuesday at the Education Auditorium at 7:30 p.m. Admission is free.

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31 Days Of Hammer: Quatermass 2

31-days-of-hammerWith the success of the first Quatermass movie Hammer quickly went and secured the rights to Nigel Kneale’s next Quatermass story Quatermass II.

Kneale wanted more control over his creation so he wrote the first draft of the screenplay but was disappointed when Brian Donlevy returned as Quatermass. The movie was released in 1957 and while successful it was overshadowed by another breakout horror film from Hammer, The Curse of Frankenstein.
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RSO Shumiatcher Pops

A couple of months ago accordion whiz Geoff Berner was through town to play a show at the Artful Dodger.

Berner’s not the guest artist for the first RSO Pops concert of the 2015-16 season, but the group that is does feature an accordion player.

Based in Toronto, Quartetto Gelato has been around since 1989. The line-up currently consists of Peter De Sotto (violin), Alexander Sevastian (accordion), Colin Maier (oboe) and Elizabeth McLellan (cello). Their repertoire includes classical and operatic standards, but they also incorporate some tango, gypsy and folk influences.

The RSO Pops concert goes Saturday, Oct. 10 at Conexus Arts Centre at 8 p.m. You can get ticket info by visiting the RSO website.  And here’s video from 2012 of Quartetto Gelato performing Romanian Caravan

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Six Words For Stephen Harper

Don’t you think he looks… tired?

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31 Days Of Hammer: The Quatermass Xperiment

31-days-of-hammerAnother year and it’s time for another 31 Days of Horror. This year will focus on British Hammer Films massive contribution to the horror genre.

Changing things up a bit this year instead of every day being a complete random movie of my choosing like they have in the past each week will be themed starting with the Quatermass trilogy this week followed by a week of monster movies, psychological thrillers the following week, vampires/Dracula for week four and for the final week a look at my favourite of the Hammer films, the Frankenstein movies.
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Scarlett Jane

On Thursday, Oct. 1 the Toronto-based folk/country duo Scarlett Jane are in town to play a show at the SCES Club. The group consists of Andrea Romolo (vocals/guitar) and Cindy Doire (vocals/bass).

They released their debut album Stranger in 2012, and followed that up with a second self-titled album in June. Stranger garnered them two Canadian Folk Music Award nominations (Best Emerging Artist and Best Vocal Group), and a single from the album called “Wild Fire” reached the semi-finals of the International Songwriting Competition.

Tickets for Thursday’s show are $10, and here’s the video for “Little Secret” off their latest album

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Walking The Walk

This Wednesday, Robert Zemeckis’ latest film The Walk arrives to IMAX theatres (it will expands wide next Friday the 9th). The tale of Philippe Petit -who walked between the Twin Towers in a memorable high-wire act- is one that lends itself to the 3-D format. The CGI is seamless and the use of perspective is remarkable. This is a movie that benefits from being watched in the biggest screen possible.

I had the chance to experience something similar. The “Can You Walk the Walk” Morpheus VR simulation places you right at the top of the World Trade Centre. If you ever had any doubt about the effectiveness of virtual reality systems, rest at ease: It doesn’t get any better than this. I suffer a bit of vertigo so this was rather ill-advised, yet I couldn’t resist.

The resolution (1920×1080) is enough to make the experience fully believable. A 360-degree panoramic view helps to trick your brain into believing you are 1,362 feet above ground. Morpheus was developed for PlayStation 4 and will hit the market in the first semester of 2016. Based on “Can You Walk the Walk”, expect a seismic disruption in the gaming industry.

If you follow this link ( the-walk-swat-WalkExperience_POV_Shots_scc_h264 ), you can see the scenario I was immersed into. Below, enjoy watching me walking the virtual tightrope and being kind of a pansy about it.

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Blue Rodeo Anything But Blue

The acclaimed Canadian folk rock group Blue Rodeo, who headlined the Regina Folk Festival in Victoria Park in August, might share the party colour of the federal Conservatives in their name — but as this video which was released Monday shows, they’re no fans of Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his surly band of fellow travellers

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Law Foundation of Saskatchewan Lecture

scott-decker-012Later today Arizona State University professor Scott Decker (pictured) will deliver this annual lecture at the University of Regina. The talk is titled “Smart Policing and the Challenge of Translational Criminology”.

Smart policing sounds like an idea we can all get behind, I imagine. Although what translational criminology is I’m not exactly sure. If you read the synopsis on the university website, it talks about different strategies of policing that have been developed over the years like Team Policing and Problem Orientated Policing.

Smart policing is apparently the latest strategy. Because it’s evidence-based, it seems like a reasonably enlightened way of going about law enforcement. And while I wouldn’t presume to put words in Decker’s mouth, there is a situation playing out in cities across Canada these days where some municipal police forces have largely stepped back from enforcing antiquated laws related to the possession of small amounts of cannabis, be it for recreational use or health issues via compassion clubs and other types of dispensaries.

It’s the police’s position that from a cost vs harm perspective, there are simply much better ways to allocate scarce resources to preserve the peace in our communities than persecuting people who smoke (or otherwise consume) cannabis.

That ruffles the feathers of the hard-ass Harper Conservatives, though, who keep fulminating about the need for police to crackdown on these godforsaken pot criminals who are terrorizing our communities. Were the police to take their advice, though, it probably wouldn’t be regarded as an efficient use of resources, and hence not “smart” policing.

The same can be said for simple-minded “tough on crime” policies geared toward jailing people and ramping up police and prison infrastructure without giving any thought to underlying causes of crime such as mental illness, addiction, homelessness and poverty. That was a point Saskatoon police chief Clive Weighill, president of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, made the other day in the Leader-Post when he urged Canadians to vote for the party with the best social justice plan if they really wanted to put a dent in crime. 

But that’s just my take on the situation. If you want to hear what Scott Decker has to say, the lecture goes tonight at ED191 at the University of Regina at 5 p.m.

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Oh Ye Of Little Faith

Capital PointeWas it Stephen LaRose’s intention to use reverse psychology with his Sept. 24 Capital Pointeless post to prod the developers into proceeding with the long-delayed project?

If it was, it may have worked, as CBC is reporting that the developer of the combination hotel/condo project on the corner of Victoria Ave. and Albert St. announced today that construction will begin next week.

Of course, after repeated false-starts on the mammoth project, which includes 144 condo units, along with a high end hotel, and was originally supposed to be completed in 2013, most Reginans are in “believe it when I see it” mode when it comes to Capital Pointe.

So I guess we’ll see what next week brings.

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Magna Carta & The Making Of The Modern World

SCS_HARRIS_Carolyn_2583_WU_headshotJune 15 marked the 8ooth anniversary of the signing of the Magna Carta. It arose out a dispute between English barons and the reigning monarch King John. The first draft of the charter was done by the Archbishop of Canterbury, and the document contained provisions related to church rights, access to justice for the barons and protection from illegal imprisonment, and limitations on payments demanded by the Crown.

The Magna Carta didn’t do a ton for commoners, but the document is generally regarded as one of the first steps on the road to the expansion of civil rights in Western society and the whittling away of the absolutist powers traditionally exercised by monarchs.

Tonight, University of Toronto historian and author Carolyn Harris (pictured) is giving a talk at the University of Regina on the topic Magna Carta & the Making of the Modern World. The talk is being held at room 610 of the university’s main library at 7 p.m.

For more information visit the U of R website.

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Tom Savage

Grassroots Regina kicks off its 2015-16 concert season Tuesday Sept. 29 with a concert by Kingston-based country/blues-rocker Tom Savage. Savage has six albums to his credit, and in 2012 he apparently set himself up for a song-a-week challenge where he wrote a song each week for the entire year.

Grassroots Regina is presenting the concert at the SCES Club, and it should get going around 8 p.m. To give you a sense of what to expect, here’s video from 2014 of Savage performing his song “Rougher On Me”

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Sunday Matinee: The Muppet Show

sunday-matineeThis will be the last Sunday Matinee for a while as October approaches and 31 Days of Horror will soon start. This year’s theme will Hammer Horror movies. Sunday Matinee will return in November.

So today’s Sunday Matinee is a response of sorts to One Million Moms complaint over the newest incarnation of The Muppet Show, The Muppets. Now I haven’t seen the latest incarnation or really anything since Jim Henson passed away but it sounds like they’ve mad at ABC trying make the show aimed at adults, with less innuendo and more blatant “sexually charged jokes.”

From what I’ve read of reviews, this new show doesn’t sound very good in general – showrunner Bill Prady is trying for more “real” take on the characters and has turned them all into cynical versions of themselves. I won’t defend a show I haven’t seen but I’m going to take a look back at Jim Henson’s original masterpiece from 1976 The Muppet Show.
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Election 2015: The Problem With Polls Isn’t Poll Proliferation It’s Partypooping Pundits


cdnelxncircleI’ve read a bunch of think pieces lately that warn against the abundance of poll coverage in this election. There’s a lot of talk about how unreliable various polling methods are, how confusing it can be for voters to have so much conflicting data flying about and how political journalism suffers when it becomes obsessed with numbers. The consensus seems to be that we shouldn’t turn an election into a horse race.

Who are these joykillers?

You know why people go to horse races? Because they’re exciting. When you put a couple bucks down on Foggy Before Breakfast to show, all that matters for the next half hour is whether or not that mare can beat those eight-to-one odds. And when I rise in the morning, call up in my browser and track where all the various lines and graphs are sitting, it turns the election into a Kentucky Derby in my head.

No, fuck that. Better: goddamn Mario Kart. With power ups, Koopa shells and banana peels. The election becomes a brightly coloured, pixellated thrillfest. And it’s about the only thing in a day that can set my calcified heart to beating.

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Canada Votes 2015 (Updated)

Welcome back to Prairie Dog’s continuing coverage of the federal election. I believe we’re in week eight (or is it nine?) of the marathon campaign foisted on Canadians by Stephen Harper and the Conservative Party. There’s still another three weeks or so until the actual election on Oct. 19 — although advance polls will be open over the Thanksgiving weekend from Oct. 9-12.

With the waning days of summer early days of fall upon us, Reginans are starting to organize still organizing all-candidates meetings and other types of forums to explore issues of relevance to the election campaign. Here’s some that have come to our attention so far, with new events denoted by ***:

Tuesday Sept. 29

SENIORS’ FORUM All candidates meeting hosted by several seniors and retirees advocacy groups. Wesley United Church (3913 Hillsdale), 2-4 p.m.

REGINA ALL PARTIES PRE-ELECTION FORUM Hosted by Knox Met United Church, Council of Canadians (Regina), Clean Green Regina and KAIROS Regina, this forum gives candidates the opportunity to respond to questions from the public. Knox Met Church (Victoria Ave. & Lorne St.), 6-9 p.m.

Wednesday Sept. 30

REGINA LEWVAN CANDIDATES FORUM Hosted by the Public Service Alliance of Canada. Italian Club (2148 Connaught), 7 p.m.

Thursday Oct. 1

SSHHHH, WE’RE TALKING POLITICS Drop-in session to learn about the Canadian voting system in advance of the Oct. 19 federal election. Central Library, 6:30-9 p.m.

***Friday 2

ALL CANDIDATES FAIR Designed to boost the voter participation rate of university students, includes a pancake breakfast at 8 a.m., a meet the candidates session from 9-11 a.m., and a candidates forum beginning at noon. RIC119, University of Regina. See

***Monday 5

ALL PARTIES FEDERAL ELECTION FORUM Hosted by Queen City Tenants Association, with a focus on housing. Cathedral Neighbourhood Centre, 7-9 p.m.

Tuesday Oct. 6

REGINA LEWVAN CANDIDATES FORUM Hosted by the Cathedral Area Community Association for candidates running in Regina Lewvan. Cathedral Neighbourhood Centre, 7-9 p.m. 306-569-8755.

***Wednesday 7

YWCA ALL CANDIDATES FORUM The focus is on Regina women and their families. St. Paul’s Cathedral Hall (1861 McIntyre), 6 p.m. See

***Wednesday 14

WHY WOMEN COULDN’T VOTE: FEDERAL ELECTIONS & CANADIAN HISTORY Talk by historian Donica Belisle. CK185, University of Regina, 10:30-11:20 a.m. 306-585-4209.

***Thursday 15

ELECTION FORUM 2015 Moderated by Nilgun Onder, this forum features Leader-Post columnist Murray Mandryk and political scientists Tom McIntosh and Jim Farney. LI215, University of Regina, 2:30-4 p.m. See

***Wednesday 21

JSGS FORUM: ELECTION 2015: ECONOMIC, POLITICAL AND POLICY CONSEQUENCES Moderated by Jeremy Rayner, with panelists Michael Atkinson, Daniel Beland, John Courtney and Haizhen Mou. Rm210, 2 Research Dr., University of Regina, 10 a.m. to noon. See

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