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31Days Of B-Movie Horrors: Spider Baby

Spider BabyJack Hill directed a lot B movie exploitation flicks in the late ’60s and 1970’s but one of his earliest was the demented 1967 movie Spider Baby or, the Maddest Story Ever Told.

Lon Chaney Jr., in one of his last roles, plays a caretaker of a super-messed up family. There’s three grown children in Merrye family. They all live in a decrepit mansion and the three Merrye kids all suffer what’s referred to as Merrye Syndrome. They are socially and mentally regressed and incredibly violent. There’s two sisters (Beverly Washburn, Jill Banner), the youngest likes to play “spider” and the oldest is a brother (Sid Haig) who lives in a dumb waiter and doesn’t saying anything. Chaney constantly tries to cover up their crimes. A couple of unscrupulous distant relatives, their lawyer and the lawyer’s assistant have come to take control of the estate and the siblings which leads to their secret being revealed.
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Riders Vs. Edmonton Eskimos

Edmonton vs Riders Sept 27As poorly as the Riders have played since Darian Durant went down (a 1W-4L record, while being outscored 92-12 in three road games) they still have a shot at second in the CFL West which would entitle them to host the West semi-final on Nov. 16.

To do that they have to win today, then beat Edmonton again when the two teams close out the season at Mosaic Stadium on Nov. 8. That would give them the season series against Edmonton, and enough points to finish second regardless of how the Riders and Esks do in their other remaining game (the Riders are in Calgary Oct. 24, while Edmonton hosts B.C. Nov. 1.)

Currently rehabbing his elbow injury, Durant is expected to come off the six-game injury list in time for the Calgary game. I wouldn’t expect him to play in that tilt (let’s face it, there’s only one game left to be played in Calgary this year that matters, and that’s the West final Nov. 23). But after that game, the Riders have a bye (much needed, as they haven’t had a break since mid-July) which would give the Rider QB an extra week to get ready for the season finale against Edmonton.

For that game to have any meaning in the race for second, though, the Riders have to win today. If Edmonton wins, they will pretty much sew up second and host the West-semi-final. That would be bad news for the Riders, as outside of the odd game (the 1989 West final, cough, the 1997 West final, cough) Commonwealth Stadium has been Death Valley for the Riders come playoff time.

Mind you, that’s assuming the Riders finish third. Right now, B.C.’s only two points behind the Green & White. Should the teams finished tied, the Lions hold the tie-breaker, and they do have a game in Winnipeg against the slumping Bombers on Oct. 25 that could pull them into a tie if the Riders don’t manage a win in their final three games.

If that were to happen, the Riders would finish fourth and crossover to play in the East semi-final against whoever finishes second between Hamilton, Toronto and Montreal. Then if they were to win that game, they’d play the first-place finisher in the East final with a Grey Cup berth at stake.

Since the crossover was instituted in 1997, no West team has swept the two games and represented the East in the Grey Cup so it’s obviously not easy to do. First off, you have to deal with the travel and early start times. As well, despite the generally weaker quality of play in the East, there’s usually at least one team each year that qualifies as a legit CFL power. This year, though, for a variety of reasons — injuries, stadium issues, young QB prospects still gaining experience — that’s not necessarily the case. So out of all the seasons the crossover’s been around, this might be the one year when a West victory is possible.

For the Riders, the preferred playoff route, I’m sure, would see them host (and win) the West semi-final, then travel to Calgary to play a beat-up Stampeder team in the West final. But crossing over to the East isn’t a bad second choice, and likely preferable to a semi-final date in Edmonton against the Esks.

Regardless of what scenario unfolds, the Riders obviously need a healthy Durant to have a shot. As to whether the team has a shot today, Kerry Joseph is apparently starting at QB. In past games, when Tino Sunseri has come off the bench he’s shown more than he has as a starter, so it might be a case where Joseph will do what he can to establish some rhythm on offence and then perhaps Sunseri will sub in against a tough Edmonton defence. In their previous meeting on Sept. 26 (a 24-0 Eskimo victory, game photo above), Edmonton rushed for over 300 yards. Hopefully, the Rider defence will perform better today, although without stronger play out of the offence it’s tough to win the field position and time of possession battle and the defence inevitably gets worn down as the game progresses.

Game time is 2 p.m. TSN has the broadcast, and you can find out more on the Riderville website.

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31 Days Of B-Movie Horrors: Carnival Of Souls

Carnival of soulsA young woman (Candace Hilligoss) is riding in a car with a couple of other women. Their vehicle is drag racing another car on a bridge when their car goes out of control and crashes off the bridge. The woman emerges dazed and confused.

She later starts driving to her new job as an organ player at a church in another town but a mysterious man (writer/director Herk Harvey) seems to be stalking her. Once she reaches the town, the man keeps appearing and things start getting more and more nightmarish. She’s drawn to an abandoned amusement park. At times it’s like nobody notices that she’s around, she always uneasy and a eerie melody plays on her car radio.
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Based on Biblical stories in the Books of Jeremiah and Daniel, this opera by Giuseppe Verdi was first performed at La Scala in Milan in 1842. The titular character is the Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzer II, and the opera opens in Jerusalem in 583 B.C.E. The Babylonian army is advancing, and the Jewish population living in the city faces the prospect of persecution and exile from their homeland. There’s some general sacking of Jerusalem, romance, imprisonment, prophecies, mass execution, divine retribution, and at the end one repentant and mentally unhinged Babylonian monarch.

Today and Sunday at the RPL Theatre a production of Nabucco by London’s Royal Opera will be broadcast. Curtain both days is 2 p.m., and tickets are $15 Adults, $12 Seniors, Students $10. To give you a sense of what to expect, here’s an excerpt from an uncredited (on YouTube anyway) production featuring a famous scene with a chorus of Hebrew slaves:

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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):

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31 Days Of B-Movie Horrors: Mr. Sardonicus

mr sardonicusWilliam Castle loved his gimmicks to sell his movies. The Tingler featured select movie theatre seats that sent a shock to audience members in order to provoke everyone into screaming. Macabre came with life insurance in case you died of fright and 13 Ghosts featured Illusion-O, a pair of coloured glasses that allowed viewers to see the ghosts which you could take off if you were too scared to see the ghosts.

Today’s picture is the 1961 horror Mr. Sardonicus. It’s the late 1800’s and Doctor Robert Cargrave (Ronald Lewis) is summoned by Baron Sardonicus (Guy Rolfe) via the Baron’s wife Maude(Audrey Dalton). Cargrave knew Maude a while back and goes to see the Baron. The Baron has a bad reputation, people are afraid of him and his servants have been mistreated and scarred by him. Cargrave has been summoned because Baron Sardonicus is horribly disfigured and he hopes that the good doctor can cure him.
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Barbara Sapergia

Blood_and_SaltstorelgIn mid-August 100 plaques were unveiled at various locations across Canada to commemorate the 100th anniversary of a large-scale internment that occurred shortly after the start of World War One. Recent Canadian immigrants with possible ties to the Austro-Hungarian empire in eastern Europe were removed from their homes and sent to one of 24 camps on the grounds that they were possibly enemy aliens who posed a threat to the safety and security of their new homeland.

That historical event, especially as it impacted on Ukrainian-Canadians, was the subject of Barbara Sapergia’s 2012 novel Blood and Salt.

On Monday, Oct. 20 Sapergia will read from her book at Central Library. The reading will be at 7 p.m., and is being held to celebrate Saskatchewan Library Week which runs Oct. 19-26. More information can be found at the RPL website.

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31 Days Of B-Movie Horrors: Donovan’s Brain

Donovans brainCurt Siodmak wrote a ton of horror movies for Universal Studios and RKO in the 1940’s. The Wolf Man, Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man, I Walked With a Zombie and Son of Dracula just to name a few. Siodmak also wrote a few novels, one of them was Donovan’s Brain.

Donovan’s Brain was first made into a movie in 1944 with the film The Lady and the Monster. It’s not bad but the 1953 movie Donovan’s Brain is better. The good Dr. Cory (Lew Ayres) has discovered a process where he can keep the brain alive after the body dies. Prophetically W.H. Donovan, a crooked multimillionaire is flying near by and crashes. Dr. Cory tries to save Donovan but is only able to save his brain.
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In the 1960s Italian filmmakers had some success doing knock-off versions of old-school Hollywood Westerns. Spaghetti westerns is what those films were called, and with the likes of Sergio Leone, Clint Eastwood and Eli Wallach involved, some of the flicks are considered classics of the western genre.

That’s not the direction Jayden Pfeifer is pursuing with the next installment of his popular Talkies series which goes Tuesday, Oct. 21 at the RPL Theatre at 9 p.m. Instead, he’s screening the 1979 Italian flick Starcrash which is in the vein of a spaghetti science-fiction movie since it derives a lot of its “creative inspiration” from Star Trek/Star Wars/2001: A Space Odyssey and other SF classics.

Similar to the spaghetti westerns, Starcrash features some mid-range English-speaking actors including Marjoe Gortner, Caroline Munro, Christopher Plummer and the immortal David Hasselhoff — and is of dubious merit, which should make it ripe for Pfeifer’s satiric venom.

Tuesday’s screening is free with a donation to the Regina Food Bank, and to get everyone ready for blast-off here’s the trailer (pathetic special effects and all):

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Friendly Update, City Hall: EPCOR Makes A Fine P3 And Now You Can Too!

Three Villages Bar, Balzan, Malta

I did start writing this blog post in the Three Villages Bar. Wrote 1,500 words there, in fact. Sat on it for a few days. Realized it wasn’t working so deleted it. Rewrote it. Deleted that. Rewrote again. Etc, etc. Only the first paragraph remains from that first draft written in the Three Villages. But I kept it in otherwise I wouldn’t have an excuse to include the photo.

I’m sitting in the Three Villages Bar in Malta. It’s on a corner of a little medieval street in the town of Balzan. It’s late morning and pretty hot outside. The place is empty. It smells like my grandmother’s apartment in Galt, Ontario circa 1976, and it’s a business that seems to make its living selling bottles of screw-top wine, instant coffee, loaves of bread and dry plum cakes to very occasional, elderly passers-by. Someone stubbed out a cigarette on the floor under my seat at some point since a broom last passed this way. It’s exactly the kind of place I like to kill mornings in. So I should be enjoying this beer I’m drinking and writing goofy short stories for my kids.

That was the plan for my wife’s sabbatical.

Instead, I’m obsessing over the announcement of big savings on Regina’s wastewater treatment plant public-private partnership. By all accounts, the deal is really good. And by “all accounts,” I mean “everything I’m reading online in your Canuck media.”

“It’s a win all round,” your media tells me. Good. I don’t have to hunt through my inbox for press releases from the Mayor’s office. “It’s a triumph for Regina,” they say.

Yeah, it’s a triumph, alright. But not for Regina.

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31 Days Of B-Movie Horrors: C.H.U.D.

CHUD“…and that’s when the C.H.U.D.s came at me.”

A woman is walking her dog down a dark New York City street, passing by a manhole cover when suddenly something comes out and grabs the woman, dragging her down into the sewers. And her little dog too. Thus begins this cult B-movie that’s more popular because of the film title then the actual film.

C.H.U.D. stands for Cannibalistic Humanoid Underground Dweller and 30 years ago it hit theatres with a thud. It was given a limited theatrical release before it found it’s following on video. John Heard is a former fashion photographer who’s latest assignment is photographing New York City’s homeless, several who live in the sewers. Meanwhile police Captain Bosch (Christopher Curry) is frustrated continuing a cover up and starts looking into the sudden flood of missing persons that have been occurring lately. He interviews Daniel Stern who runs a soup kitchen.
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Little Orange Man

Little Orange Man - Ingrid Hansen with Ape, photo credit Dave BukachPresented by Hectik Theatre, this fringe theatre play sees Victoria-based artist Ingrid Hansen adopt the persona of a 12-year-old Danish girl named Kitt the Kinder-Whisperer.

Kitt’s described in the press release as a high octane girl, and her greatest delight is to re-enact for neighbourhood children grisly folk tales told to her by her grandfather. She does so by using toys, shadow puppets, and even leftover bits of food from lunch.

In previous performances in other cities Little Orange Man received rave reviews. Despite its sometimes manic subject matter, the play is rated E for Everyone.    

Little Orange Man runs Wednesday Oct. 15 to Friday Oct. 17 and Wednesday Oct. 22 to Friday Oct. 24 at 8 p.m. at the Artesian. Saturday Oct. 18 and Oct. 25 there’s performances at 2 and 8 p.m. Tickets are $25 for adults and $15 for students with ID, although tonight’s show is pay what you can.

You can find more information on the Artesian website.

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31 Days Of B-Movie Horrors: The Shadow Of The Cat

Shadow of the CatHammer Studios is best known for their versions of classic monster movies like Dracula, Frankenstein and the Mummy but they branched out into different areas of horror too. Like today’s film the 1961 movie The Shadow of the Cat.

Poor Ella Venable (Catherine Lacey). She’s been forced to change her will to leave her vast wealth to her evil husband Walter (André Morell). Walter along with the servants, who are getting a cut of the inheritance, then murder Ella and bury her body. The only witness to the crime is Ella’s cat Tabitha.
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Brushes With Death

defiantspirits-195This lecture, which goes Wednesday Oct. 15 at the MacKenzie Art Gallery, is subtitled “The Great War and the Group of Seven.” It’s being delivered by Estevan-born, England-based novelist and non-fiction writer Ross King. It’s part of the University of Regina’s 1914: A Turning Point in History and Culture lecture series that examines the impact of World War I on various aspects of Western society.

In the case of visual art, the war began during a time of transition when artists were breaking with the tradition of realism and beginning to take the first tentative steps on the road to modernism. One hallmark of that shift was the Armory Show that occurred in New York in 1913, and introduced Americans to avant-garde European art movements such as fauvism, cubism and futurism.

In Canada at around the same time, the Group of Seven was forming in Toronto. In his 2010 book Defiant Spirits: The Modernist Revolution of the Group of Seven (cover image above) King explored that seminal moment in Canadian art history. As a group, they were still pretty wedded to realism, but they were keen to explore the Canadian landscape, and they often did so in an expressionist style where paint was used to convey more than just pictorial detail. It was also used to convey emotional and spiritual attachment to the land.

When WWI broke out, several of the group served as war artists and traveled overseas to record their observations of the conflict and the soldiers and civilians who were struggling to survive on the battlefields of Europe. And in his lecture, King plans to examine the impact that haunting experience had on their art practice once the war ended.

Again, the lecture is tomorrow at the MacKenzie Art Gallery at 7 p.m.

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31 Days Of B-Movie Horrors: The Haunted Strangler

Haunted StranglerBoris Karloff was a far better actor than he was ever credited. Stuck doing horror movies his entire career he did them extremely well. While he was prolific in the 1930’s and 40’s by the 1950’s he wasn’t very much in demand. With Hammer Studios bringing back the horror genre in the late 1950’s, rival movie producer Richard Gordon tried to jump into the horror game too.

In 1860 there’s murderous strangler on the loose. After killing five women a man is arrested, convicted and executed. 20 years later novelist and humanitarian Boris Karloff has decided to investigate the murders, believing that the wrong man was convicted.
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6 Worthwhile Lessons The Public School Board Is Teaching My Kids

Hey remember that 10-year plan the Regina Public School Board had that listed a whole bunch of  schools that needed to be torn down because they didn’t have the enrollment to sustain them? Remember how Davin and/or Connaught (preferably Connaught) was slated for closure because Cathedral just didn’t have enough kids? And remember how Real Renewal came together to oppose all those school closures saying they felt small, walkable community schools were worth keeping and that up-to-date demographics showed that neighbourhoods like Cathedral were getting more kids and needed all their schools intact? And then remember how more recent demographics have shown that Real Renewal was by and large right about that?

Well, even though Connaught had the enrollment numbers to save it from the wrecking ball, it came crashing down right on schedule according to that 10-year plan. It’s almost like the enrollment justification was a ruse and secretly the board just wanted to be rid of the thing all along. I guess it just goes to show that even if you’re wrong about something you can still get what you want if you have all the power and money.

That’s a good lesson you just learned from the Regina Public School Board. Here are five more…

1. EVERYTHING IS DISPOSABLE! Oh sure, they have a “unit” on “sustainability” somewhere in the school curriculum. I think I remember my kid bringing home a blue papier-mâché globe she made on Earth Day or something. I threw that shit out.

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Menopause: The Musical

Written by Jeanie Linders, this parody musical premiered in Florida in 2001. It concerns a group of four women (a businesswoman, housewife, earth mother and soap star) who trade war stories about different facets of menopause tied to cravings, hot flashes, memory lapses and other physical/psychological effects.

The women do this while shopping for lingerie at Bloomingdales, and many of the stories that they tell are done through familiar songs (some with titles and lyrics slightly modified) from the 1950s through ’80s.

On Wednesday, Oct. 15 a touring production of Menopause will be mounted at Conexus Arts Centre. Curtain is at 7:30 p.m., and tickets are $54.75 and $65.75. To give you a sense of what to expect, here’s a promo video:

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Prairie Dance Circuit

Forever in Blue Jeans 4Hosted by New Dance Horizons, this is an ongoing dance series that involves collaboration between companies in Winnipeg, Calgary, Edmonton and Regina to organize and present performances showcasing prairie dancers and choreographers.

On Oct. 15-16, the focus will be on the 50th anniversary of Winnipeg Contemporary Dancers. Included will be works by Brent Lott and  Ming Hon, along with a screening of a film by Danielle Sturk that examines the dance career of WCD founder Rachel Browne who passed away in 2012.

The Prairie Dance Circuit performance will be held at University of Regina Theatre on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. and Thursday at 1:30 and 7:30 p.m. Tickets are Adults $25, Students & Seniors $20, while the Thursday matinee is $15.

Pictured above, by the way, is an image from Forever In Blue Jeans. Choreographer is Ming Hon, performers are Natasha Torres-Garner, Ali Robson, and Kayla Henry, and the photograph is by Leif Norman.

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From Earlier Today

Autumn TreeNot sure what species of tree this is behind Darke Hall in Wascana Centre just east of the pool, but it definitely produces great fall colours (click to enlarge).

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Weekly Reckoning: When You Reckon With The Week You Get The Reckoning Edition

weekly-reckoning1. STATE-SANCTIONED DEATH ISN’T CHEAP AND IT ISN’T TRANSPARENT. Everyone who’s anyone agrees that if you’re going to be sentenced to death by the State, the state to do it in is Oklahoma. If you end up getting shuffled off to their lethal injection chamber, you can rest assured that they’ve spared no expense in providing you with a state-of-the-art, $100,000 end-of-life experience. It’s now very unlikely that you’ll spend 43 minutes dying horribly on the gurney. Even more reassuringly, you won’t have to put with nearly as many nosy journalists; the new chamber provides only five seats for the press, down from the previous chamber’s 12.

2. REMEMBER THOSE PROTESTS IN FERGUSON? THEY’RE STILL GOING ON Thousands of protesters marched through Ferguson on Saturday to decry police violence and the broken system of law enforcement that allows uniformed police to shoot black youth in the street, leave their bodies in the sun and suffer no meaningful consequences. Meanwhile, I went for breakfast this morning at a golf club where I overheard three white guys make jokes about Martin Luther King Day, because they were dirtbags.

3. A LITTLE MORE EBOLA FOR YOU ALL. A health care worker in Texas who treated Ebola victim Thomas Eric Duncan has Ebola.

4. WHATEVER THE FUTURE HOLDS, HE’S NOT GOING TO OKLAHOMA. Oscar Pistorius, the girlfriend-murdering athlete who murdered his girlfriend in about as murdery a way as possible, may face the harshest punishment of all. Wait, he may face a suspended sentence or a fine. But we don’t know yet. It’s all about the intricacies of the South African legal system, which none of knows us a thing about, really. Is this even news? I just like a bit of outrage in the afternoon.

5. VICE IS INHERENT AND LOOKS PRETTY HILARIOUS. Here is the trailer for P.T. Anderson’s adaptation of the Thomas Pynchon novel Inherent Vice. Come for Joaquin Phoenix’s muttonchops, stay for Josh Brolin’s flattop.


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