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Bad Blood

Joey tremblayJoey Tremblay (pictured) has strong roots in Saskatchewan. He was raised in Ste. Marthe, and has been involved in numerous productions at the Globe Theatre as a writer, director and performer.

His best-known play is Elephant Wakeand in recent years he’s done a fair bit of work as part of the National Arts Centre’s English Theatre company in Ottawa.

On Friday and Saturday, the local theatre company Curtain Razors is presenting a workshopped reading of his latest play Bad Blood. It’s set in a hospital room and was inspired by a health challenge Tremblay faced a couple of years ago that required him to undergo fairly extensive medical treatment.

Bad Blood shouldn’t be mistaken for a medical drama like House or Chicago Hope, though, as the room is outfitted with archaic medical equipment and the Greek goddess of the hunt Artemis also makes an appearance. So in typical Tremblay style, the play really serves as a broader metaphysical exploration of life.

Bad Blood is being held at the Artesian on 13th April 25-26 at 8 p.m. Tickets are $10, and more information can be found here.

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Drowntown Revisited

Drowntown RevistedI’m starting to wonder if maybe there isn’t a water main break at the intersection of Rose St. and Victoria Ave. because the water’s even higher now than it was twelve days ago (as usual, you can click on the photo to enlarge).

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The Many Problems with Transcendence

The numbers make Johnny Depp look smart. Also, glasses.

The numbers make Johnny Depp look smart. Also, glasses.

At this point of the weekend, is pretty clear Transcendence has bombed: Barely over 12 million dollars (est.) at the box office against a $100 million budget. The directorial debut of Wally Pfister (Christopher Nolan’s favorite director of cinematography) was particularly expensive, but thoroughly hollow. Where did it all go wrong?

The plot: Dr. Will Caster (Johnny Depp) is the foremost researcher in Artificial Intelligence, working to create a sentient machine that combines our collective intelligence with a full range of human emotions. His controversial experiments have made him the prime target of anti-technology extremists. In their attempt to destroy Will, the extremists inadvertently allow him to succeed in his own transcendence. For his wife Evelyn (Rebecca Hall) and best friend Max (Paul Bettany), the question is not if they can, but if they should. Their worst fears are realized as Will’s thirst for knowledge evolves into a seemingly omnipresent quest for power. Sounds interesting. Alas, it’s amazing how dull it all looks on screen.

The science: Normally, sci-fi flicks go out of their way to make the discipline on display believable, at close range even. In Transcendence, it just happens. There is not even meaningless jargon. Analog and digital technology interact seamlessly, and it takes about a hundred brain scans to capture Johnny Depp’s mind in a hard drive.

The magic bullet: The terrorists not only shoot Will Caster, they lace the bullet with polonium just in case. This will kill Caster, but also gives him a full month to order his affairs. Deux ex machina indeed.

The IT Crowd approach at technology: Of course it all seems to fail in the beginning, until one of the leads decides to restart the machine containing Caster’s mind. It never fails.

The Bettany factor: Let’s recap Paul Bettany’s most recent movies: Priest, The Tourist, Legion, Creation, Inkheart (the Iron Man saga doesn’t count, he is just a voice in that). Never a more talented actor has participated in so much dreck.

The expensive bystanders: Cillian Murphy and Morgan Freeman do nothing of note in this movie, besides providing a play-by-play of stuff we are already watching on screen.

The DOP malaise: Transcendence looks great, but the dramatic unfolding is painfully tone-deaf. Cinematographers are by definition visual storytellers, but may not be as dexterous dealing with an all-encompassing plot (see Janusz Kaminski’s Lost Souls or Jan De Bont’s The Haunting).

High expectations: The film was supposed to be Christopher Nolan-esque, but the outcome is too pedestrian to be compared to the filmmaker’s best work. It’s not even close to Insomnia.

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Duct Tape Chic

Breezeway (Duct Tape)Famous Canadian handyman Red Green has long championed duct tape as a marvelous invention capable of repairing practically any calamity that a person might encounter. For about three years now it’s proven its worth in Scarth Street Mall breezeway, where its been used in three or four locations to patch areas of the floor that have become ripped and torn (see another example after the jump, and feel free to click to enlarge).

Considering that the floor’s almost two decades old, it’s held up remarkably well. Yes, when it’s wet from people tracking in snow in the winter or rain in the summer, the worn pebble does make the floor treacherous to walk on — especially in spots where the floor slopes a fair bit. But the duct tape at least limits the possibility of people tripping on an exposed seam or other tear.

As I noted in a previous post, people who live and work along the breezeway have been led to believe that Harvard Developments and the City of Regina are responsible for maintaining the breezeway. Indeed, in November 2012 they were assured by a city official that the city was aware of the breezeway’s deteriorating state and that money had been allocated to refurbish it in the second quarter of 2013.

By my calculation, it’s now the second quarter of 2014 — and so far nothing’s been done. During the course of a typical business day, I imagine several thousand people use the breezeway. So props to the makers of duct tape for all they’ve done to enhance the prospects of them navigating the breezeway safely. Continue Reading →

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Sixty/Forty

Corps BaraPresented by New Dance Horizons as part of its House of Dance Series, this performance features recent work choreographed by Connie Moker Wernikowski. In the 1980s and ’90s, Moker Wernikowski was the head of the Youth Ballet Company of Saskatchewan. Ballet is one obvious influence for her then, but she’s done plenty of work in the contemporary dance realm too. And the title refers specifically to Moker Wernikowski celebrating her 60th birthday this year and her 40th year as a dance professional.

With Sixty/Forty she’ll be assisted by guest artists Katrina Currie, Darren Lacey and the Corps Bara Dance Theatre (pictured) out of Calgary. Themes to keep in mind when you’re viewing the works are lullabies, the traditional practice of women making bread to feed their families and spiritual healing.

There’s performances Thursday (April 24) at 7:30 p.m., Friday (April 25) at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday (April 26) at 1:30 and 7:30 p.m. The performance is being held at 2207 Harvey St., and tickets are Adults $20, Students & Seniors $15, with the Saturday matinee being $15 for everyone. More information can be had by phoning 306-525-5393.

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Plywood Chic

Breezeway (window)I’m not exactly sure what happened to this display case window on the east side  of Scarth Street Mall, but it’s been boarded up like this since before the Grey Cup last November.

There seems to be some confusion about who is responsible for what in the breezeway that runs the length of the block. There are people who live and own businesses along that stretch of Scarth (which is part of the Victoria Park Heritage Conservation District), but their understanding is that Harvard Developments and the city have some sort of joint responsibility to maintain the breezeway under an easement arrangement that dates back to the mid-1990s. Although perhaps they’re mistaken in that regard.

Not to take anything away from the current arrangement, understand, as it certainly is a nice piece of plywood.

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The Bachs

Johann Sebastian Bach is probably the best known member of the Bach clan. But he was far from the only family member to achieve acclaim as a musician and composer from their base in the German state of Thuringia in the 17th and 18th centuries. Bach’s own father and several uncles were musicians, along with a sibling or two, and a number of his children.

Saturday, April 26 at 8 p.m. at Government House the Regina Symphony Orchestra will present five compositions by the Bach family along with Canadian composer Ronald Royer’s 2000 work In Memoriam J.S. Bach. Tonight’s concert will be repeated Sunday at 1:30 p.m. at Government House.  For ticket info call 1-866-973-9614.

To give you a taste of the style of classical music that was in vogue during J.S. Bach’s time here’s a performance by the Croatian Baroque Ensemble of Brandenburg Concerto No. 5:

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True Fact

Breezeway (hole)There’s been a hole punched/kicked in the drywall by this bench on the north end of the Scarth Street Mall breezeway for about three weeks now. Unsightly, yes, but it’s proving useful as a repository for people’s garbage.

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Toronto Raptors vs. Brooklyn Nets

There’s no joy in Hogtown on the hockey front after a post-Olympics swoon by the Maple Leafs caused them to fall out of the playoff picture in the NHL. But thanks to the inspired play of the NBA’s Raptors sports fans in Toronto are not without a team to cheer for in the post-season.

Early on it didn’t look like the Raptors were destined for any playoff glory. They stumbled out of the gate with 6W-12L record, but turned things around after a blockbuster seven-player trade with the Sacramento Kings in December. Led by 6′ 7″ guard DeMar DeRozen, 6’9″ forward Amir Johnson, 6’11″ centre Jonas Valanciunas, and a generally solid supporting cast, the Raptors set a franchise record for wins with 48 against 34 losses.

That was good enough for the third seed in the generally weak Eastern Conference behind the Indiana Pacers and defending champion Miami Heat. That earned the Raptors a date with the Brooklyn Nets who are coached by former all-star guard Jason Kidd and led by veterans Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce. The Nets were the sixth seed in the conference with a 44W-38L record — although one of those losses, a 29 point debacle against the lowly Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday, was facilitated by Kidd’s decision to rest all five of his starters and dress only seven players.

That was done to tilt the odds in favour of a first-round match-up against the Raptors over another possible date against the physical Chicago Bulls. Now that the Nets have the match-up they wanted, they have to deal with a Toronto team that NBA analyst Charles Barkley flagged recently as one to watch out for in the playoffs.

The seven game series opens in Toronto on Saturday afternoon (TSN 10:30 a.m. Regina time). It’s the Raptors first playoff appearance in six years, and to tap into surging fan interest the Raptors have been pumping a “We the North” campaign that emphasizes their outsider status in the NBA as the only Canadian team.

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Florida Georgia Line

The Mason-Dixon line is probably the most famous line in American geography. But if the popularity of this U.S. country pop duo continues to climb their name might soon supplant it. While they’re based in Nashville, one of the dudes (Brian Kelley) hails from Florida originally while the other dude (Tyler Hubbard) is from Georgia — which explains where they got their name from, I imagine.

Saturday Florida Georgia Line are in town to play a show at Brandt Centre. Sharing the bill are Dallas Smith and Chris Lane. Tickets are $39-$59 and the first note should sound around 7:30 p.m. To close, here’s the video for FGL’s single “Cruise” which comes with a bikini alert:

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End of An Era?

Rumours began circulating yesterday about the possible break-up of legendary Aussie blues rockers AC/DC because of an illness in the band. Guitarist Malcolm Young was the focus of the rumours, and it’s now being reported that the 61-year-old is suffering from dementia.

The band has subsequently squelched any talk of retirement and plans remain on track to record a new album in Vancouver in May and then embark on a 40th anniversary tour.

My introduction to the band came in 1980. I was at the music store in Southland Mall (A&A maybe?) and they were playing the band’s new release Back In Black on the in-store stereo. I heard a couple of tunes while I was wandering around, then I went over to the counter to see what they had playing and picked up a copy. Then I went over to a friend’s house where a group of us gave it a listen over a brew or three.

To close, here’s a tune from that LP as performed live by the band in Argentina in 2012:

 

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The Creepshow

Since this Burlington, ON psychobilly band last hit town they’ve undergone a bit of a remake — or, at least, they saw the departure of vocalist/guitarist Sarah “Sin” Blackwood. That came about when Blackwood guested on a track for the fellow Burlington band Walk Off The Earth and when that band took off she left the Creepshow and joined WOTE on a permanent basis. Blackwood was subsequently replaced by Kristian “the Reverend McGuinty” Rowles.

Friday, the band, which is still fronted by Sean “Sickboy” McNab, is in town to play a show at the Exchange. Sharing the bill are two local bands: Herb & the Humans and Tomorrow Starts Today. To give you a sense of what the revamped Creepshow look like here’s the video for their latest single “The Devil’s Son” off their 2013 album Life After Death:

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Scary Goings On On Scarth Street Mall

Scary ScarthI took this photo on the mall a few minutes ago. Early reports on Twitter indicate a stabbing incident with multiple victims.  (if you want a closer look, just click the photo to enlarge).

As someone who both lives and works downtown, I’ve got to say the area’s becoming sketchier by the day. It’s not unexpected, though, I guess, with most of the growth that Regina’s been experiencing the last while concentrated on the periphery and in booming bedroom communities. 

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Gateway Announces 2014 Line-Up

Yes, there’s still snow on the ground in isolated spots in Regina. And yes, the wind is gusting out of the east at 44 k.p.h. on an already chilly day. But at some point in the near future (say in the next month or so) winter will finally depart and spring/summer will arrive. At least, that’s the hope around the Prairie Dog office anyway.

This morning Gateway Festival rolled out a list of acts for their 2014 celebration of music and the great outdoors which goes July 25-27 at Bengough, SK. This is the 10th annual festival, and artists on the bill include The Sheepdogs, Tim Hicks, Justin Townes Earle, Deep Dark Woods, Library Voices, Daniel Romano, Bend Sinister and Belle Plaine.

You can find out more details about the festival, including additional acts that have been booked and ticket information, here. To give you a sense of the fun to come, here’s video from a few years ago of Justin Townes Earle (son of folk/rock legend Steve Earle) and his band performing “Harlem River Blues” on Late Night with David Letterman:

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Art In Bloom

Art In BloomArt In Bloom has been a regular feature of the MacKenzie Art Gallery’s spring programming for well over a decade now. What it typically involves is artists, designers and other creative types — including the odd celebrity or two — creating floral responses like the one pictured at left to art from the gallery’s permanent collection.

This year’s edition of Art In Bloom opens at the MacKenzie April 18 and runs until Aug. 24. In addition to the exhibition, a gala lunch and fashion show is being held at the gallery on May 8-9.

For more information about who the participants are this year and what other events are being held visit the MacKenzie website.

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Lunar Eclipse Clarification

In a post yesterday Aidan seemed to suggest that a lunar eclipse would be happening Tuesday night. The eclipse is actually happening tonight ie early Tuesday morning.

Here’s a CBC article that says the entire event will take one hour and 20 minutes and that the peak will be at 1:45 a.m. Regina time. Because the Moon is passing through the darkest part of Earth’s shadow, and the way Earth’s atmosphere refracts the Sun’s light and scatters most of the blue part of the spectrum, the Moon tonight is supposed to be a dramatic red colour. In folklore, this is known as a “blood moon”, and in apocalyptic circles it’s usually taken as a sign that something… well, apocalyptic is supposed to happen.

Assuming there’s no cloud cover, Mars will also be visible nearby. It and Earth are at the closest point in their respective orbits around the Sun so the Red Planet will be a little bit brighter than normal. So potentially it should be a pretty spectacular sight.

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Book Trailer Screening

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

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

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

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Travellers Building Update

A week or so ago I posted about the historic Travellers Building on 18 block Broad being up for sale. Here’s a link to a proposal by a collective of five young Saskatchewan architects called Open about a possible future use for the building as a permanent home for the Regina Farmers’ Market.

It makes for interesting reading, and you can find out more about Open too.

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Weekly Reckoning: Too Much Showgirls Edition

weekly-reckoningGood afternoon. I write to you from what remains of my crumbled psyche. Last week I read a book on Showgirls, Paul Verhoeven’s softcore exploitation film from 1995. The book maintains that Showgirls doesn’t suck (the book is even titled It Doesn’t Suck). So I sat down and watched it. Then I watched the 2012 sequel Showgirls 2: Penny’s from Heaven, which posits that the world of dance is secretly controlled by sleazy Theosophists.

The book is wrong, by the way: that film sucks.

1. A PATHOGEN IN EVERY POT  Feeling comfortable? Good. Here’s a terrifying article about diseases escaping from labs.

2. AND A VAGINA IN EVERY PATIENT  Are you bummed out over being biologically female but born without a vagina? Worry no more! Scientists have successfully grown and implanted four vaginas using the patients’ own cells, and everything seems hunky dory so far.

3. LET’S MAKE A VENN DIAGRAM OUT OF THIS ONE  If you’re wondering whether you like booze, first ask yourself if you’re a Saskatchewan resident. Chances are, one positive answer will entail the other. Now go buy more booze and keep this economic boom going.

4. TWO HOUSES, COMPLETELY UNALIKE IN DIGNITY  On Buzzfeed, Drew Philp explains at fascinating length why he bought a house in Detroit for $500; meanwhile, Thomas Frank blames America’s domestic and foreign policy woes on suburban McMansions. And he’s right. Those houses suck more than Showgirls.

5. FINALLY, A REASON TO STAY UP LATE ON TUESDAY  Don’t go to bed after The Tonight Show on Tuesday. Why? Celestial magic, that’s why. We naked apes of the sublunar plane will be witness to the massive clockwork of the cosmos when the moon, earth and sun align, transforming the moon into a baleful orange eye staring down at us in pitiless judgment. We call it a lunar eclipse and it gets going around 2:00 a.m. EDT.

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Sunday Matinee: American Graffiti

American graffitiSince I was a kid every year, without fail, my father always takes my brother and I to the Regina Majestics Car Show. So in honour of the Majestics this weekend today’s Sunday Matinee is George Lucas’ 1973 car cruising classic.

American Graffiti is about one last cruise night for a group of graduated high schoolers in the year 1962. The film follows multiple storylines as the night progresses. Drag races, searching for the perfect girl, trying to decide what to do with one’s life are just some of the many stories  that the movie tells. The cast featured Richard Dreyfuss, Ron Howard, Paul Le Mat, Harrison Ford, Charles Martin Smith, Cindy Williams, Candy Clark, Mackenzie Phillips and Wolfman Jack.
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