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The Ministry Of Groove

If you’re looking to engage in a little pre-Christmas festivities you could consider dropping by Bushwakker tonight. Wednesday nights the brew pub runs a folk music series, while Mondays are devoted to jazz and blues.

Tonight, the Ministry of Groove will be taking the stage to entertain at 8 p.m. Formed in 2010 by keyboardist Dennis Hendricksen, the band includes Kevin Kasha on trumpet, Chris Jacklin and Art Neale on saxophones, Yvonne Redant on trombone, Danny Jones on bass, Tim Holt on guitar, and Tom Hearn on Drums.

The Ministry of Groove specializes in jazz/funk music from the 1970s and later. They also play some original tunes, along with some unique covers by The Doors, Chicago, Herbie Hancock and others.

Again, the show is tonight at 8 p.m. at Bushwakker and admission is free

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Sunday Matinee: The Babadook

The-Babadook-PosterThe Babadook is an Australian horror movie that was quietly released here in North American first at a few movie festivals (the first was Sundance) and then in three theatres. The critical acclaim for the film has been building as is word of month, it’s finally been released on VOD but there’s still no word on when it will get a DVD or Blu-ray release here in North America.

Written and directed by Jennifer Kent, her first feature film, the movie is loosely based on her earlier creepy short film Monster. A woman (Essie Davis) who lost her husband six years earlier finds that her son (Noah Wiseman) has been acting out lately. He believes that there’s a monster in their house and he finds a storybook about the creature on his bookcase. After they read the book strange things start happening.
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Christmas Crackers

Hosted by Golden Apple Theatre’s Uncle Robbie and Auntie Andi, this third-annual holiday-themed variety show promises lots of Christmas Cheer. Special guests are Jeffery Straker (who got your nod as Best Solo Act in Best of Regina 2014) along with Jeff and Evie Sawatzky.

Christmas Crackers goes tonight at the Artesian with doors at 7 p.m. and the show at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $35, and more information can be found on the Golden Apple website.

To give you a taste of what to expect (absent the huge stage, massive lights and other high-end production values) here’s video from last February of Straker’s winning performance at an international song competition in Chile:

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O Come All Ye Faithful!

Tonight at 8 p.m. at the Artesian, Regina-based improv artist/comic Jayden Pfeifer will be hosting the Christmas installment of his comedy-variety show Red Hot Riot.

On the comedy side, local performers Tom Hill, Adam Paisley, Warren Bates, Lucy Hill, Daniel Maslany, Tess Degenstein, Ryan Josephson, Jon Neher, Colby Richardson and Credence McFadzean will be aboard to do stand-up, sketch and improv. Music, meanwhile, will be provided by Scott Richardson who hails from Gravelbourg. Tickets are $15.

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Piper Burns Talks Curling and Bands at the Tartan Club

Piper Burns, member of the Florals and Piper and the Gates of Dawn, is organizing Live at the Tartan, a concert series over at the Tartan Curling Club. Ten bucks get someone curling time, a beer and a couple of sets from a local band, the Slim City Pickers last time and Herb and the Humans tonight. OR you can pay $5 and just see the band.

Despite putting all this together, and having worked at the Tartan since Grade 11, Burns only started curling last year. How did he hold out so long?

“Because we hated curlers, kind of,” he tells me before a shift at the Tartan with a bunch of good nature in his voice. “Curlers, you can’t go home until they’re done.

“We kinda had a lot of animosity towards curlers, but then Marshall [Burns, Piper’s brother] suggested, ‘Man we should just start curling.’”

The Burns brothers have been playing in a league since then, on a team that features a good chunk of the membership of the Pickers plus some other guys. With all these musicians around, curling and bands just makes sense. Plus, they already had the P.A. system around.

“We had this P.A. from –– we used to do something called glow curling. We used to play Katy Perry and what not.”

Was glow curling what I’d expect it to be?

“Glow curling was what you would expect it to be.”

The first night was easy going, and Burns plans for the series to continue that way.

“Everyone’s a person with a mind. There’s no super-dictator or anything. It’s all loosey-goosey. You’re all there to have fun and curl. You can figure it out on your own for the most part.”

The appeal is clear. The Tartan provides “a different place to party”, says Burns, while getting “a small bit of exercise”. More at least then if you’d hadn’t curled and had just gone out drinking. Plus, curling and sad alt-country and rock music are well matched.

“Mostly curling’s just about being shamed by your teammates. Half of the sport is scowls from your teammates, no words spoken.”

Live at the Tartan is happening tonight, Friday, December 19 at the Tartan Curling Club. Herb and the Humans are playing. Go to the Facebook event for more details.

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Kacy & Clayton

If you’re into folk/blue-grass/country there’s a great evening of music ahead tonight at Creative City Centre (1843 Hamilton St.). In addition to the headliners Kacy & Clayton, there’s sets by the Slim City Pickers and Andy Beisel.

As for the headliners, Clayton Linthicum is a member of the Saskatoon alt-country band Deep Dark Woods. Kacy Anderson is his second cousin, and they’ve apparently been playing music together since they were kids. And on Nov. 30, the duo picked up the Young Performer of the Year award at the 2014 Canadian Folk Music Awards in Ottawa.

Doors for tonight’s show are at 7:30 p.m., and tickets are $12. To give you a sense of what to expect, here’s video of Kacy & Clayton performing the song “Wood View” in a Seattle studio in August:

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REVIEW: It’s Hobbit Payoff Time

Benedict Cumberbatch is really a chameleon.

Benedict Cumberbatch is truly a chameleon.

Director Peter Jackson made a number of questionable decisions in his adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit. First, he split the author’s shortest book in three movies. Then, he decided to show it in a 48 frames-per-second format (the usual is 24), giving the film a weirdly hyper-realistic look. Lastly, he inserted two elves that weren’t in the original text: Fan favorite Legolas (Orlando Bloom) and made-up Tauriel (Evangeline Lilly). Furthermore, Tauriel falls in love with Kili, one of Thorin Oakenshield’s companions. An elf! With a dwarf! The scandal!

While some of these choices fell flat (the first and second movies should have been merged into one), Jackson deserves some credit for taking some risks instead of resting on his Lord of the Rings’ cred. The Tauriel-Kili romance enhances the emotional impact of the conclusion. The high frame count makes the 3-D work better (at the very least, it infuses the preternaturally dark gimmick with additional light), and makes the battle scenes look more fluid. The dwarves are still interchangeable, but other characters’ development makes it less noticeable.

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies kicks off minutes after the second one’s cliffhanger. Moody dragon Smaug turns Laketown into ashes, but is brought down by Bard the bowman (Luke Evans) in glorious mythological fashion. The dragon’s death triggers a major problem nobody had considered: A power vacuum and unimaginable riches up for grabs (Smaug was the Saddam Hussein of Middle Earth). Continue Reading →

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Adult Science Night

orion_spinelli_c1Every month or so the Saskatchewan Science Centre hosts a special adults-only event complete with a licensed bar and snacks. Typically, the evening is organized around a theme, and the one that’s happening at the centre tonight is no exception.

A Night With The Stars is the title, and as you can probably tell from the photo it in no way, shape or form involves Hollywood.

Rather, people who attend will have an opportunity to explore the winter night sky. You won’t even have to get bundled up and go outside to do it either, as you’ll be able to check out constellations such as Orion from the comfort of the centre’s digital planetarium.

The event gets going at 7 p.m., and admission is $10. For more information visit the Science Centre website.

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Pats Vs Lethbridge Hurricanes

IMG_2835Heading into the Christmas break the Pats are on a tear. Pending the outcome of last night’s game in Brandon against the Wheat Kings, they’ve racked up 11Ws in their last 13 games. That includes wins on the road against the Kelowna Rockets who currently boast the best record (26W-5L-3OT/L) in the WHL, and a sweep of a home-and-home with Brandon who own the second best record in the WHL.

The Pats’ inspired play of late has put them in the thick of the WHL East Conference playoff race with a 19W-11L-1OT/L record. With 39 points, they’ve got some ground to make up on the two division leaders Brandon (52 points) and Medicine Hat Tigers (48 points). But if the season ended today they would have home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs.

Of course, the season doesn’t end today. After tonight’s game against the last place Lethbridge Hurricanes, the Pats will have a 10-day holiday break before returning to action in Swift Current against the Broncos on Dec. 27.

Last week, the Leader-Post did an article speculating on whether the Pats would be active as a buyer or seller as the WHL trade deadline of Jan. 10 approached. The team has some veteran players (most notably, Morgan Klimchuk who was invited to the Team Canada World Junior training camp earlier this month) that could be used as assets in trades with teams like Kelowna and Medicine Hat who seem poised to take a run at the league title this year.

With the Pats’ strong play of late, though, they might not be too far away themselves. If that viewpoint carries the day with the team’s brain trust they might be looking to add some talent. But the team will likely be reluctant to mortgage too much of its future by giving away a top prospect like 16-year-old centre Sam Steel (pictured) for what still has to be considered a long-shot run at a WHL title in 2014-15.

Tonight’s game against Lethbridge goes at Brandt Centre at 7 p.m. For more information visit the Regina Pats website.

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Friendly Update, City Hall: Hey Guys, I Totally Shot My Mouth Off Yesterday And COMPLETELY SCREWED EVERYTHING UP!!

This Week at City HallWellllll… looks like I got a little carried away with the Cisk beer yesterday. Remember when I said that, based on the Regina Budget Highlights document, the road renewal budget for 2015 was $19.8 million and that that’s only a $100 thousand increase over 2014?

Yeah. That wasn’t right. That wasn’t right at all. Stupid me, relying on the Highlights document to fully reflect what’s in the budget.

Like I said, I didn’t read the actual budget. I was just riffing on what I’d read in that damned Highlights document. Well, today I thought, what the hell, I’ll take a closer look at some other stuff. And, lo and behold, I discovered that the Road Renewal budget isn’t $19.8 million.

It’s $21.7 million. And that’s a $2 million boost to their budget. That’s a SUBSTANTIAL increase. Close to the record boost the department received back in 2008.

See, you can read it for yourself in the actual budget…


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The Nutcracker Ballet

I’d originally intended to profile an HD broadcast from London of a Royal Ballet production of Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland at Galaxy Theatre today. But it ended up being cancelled.

Not to despair, though, especially if you’re a ballet fan. That’s because Dec. 17 and 18 Class Act Performing Arts Studio along with guests Coastal City Ballet are presenting a “child-friendly” production of Tchaikovsky’s famous Christmas-themed ballet The Nutcracker at Conexus Arts Centre. 

Wednesday, there’s one performance at 7:30 p.m., while on Thursday there’s shows at 12:30 and 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $34.25-$48, and more information can be found on the Conexus website. To close, here’s a short excerpt from a 2010 Bolshoi Ballet production featuring the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy:

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Friendly Update, City Hall: When A Record Road Repair Investment Is A Budget Cut

Click me for more city hall stories…CORRECTION: Everything I wrote below is WRONG WRONG WRONG. I explain and apologize here.

Phew! Good thing I’m in Malta and not in Regina otherwise I might have felt compelled to cover the city’s 2015 budget. It was passed last Monday and I wasn’t there to watch. I don’t even remember what I was doing instead but I can assure you, it was a lot more fun than sitting in Henry Baker Hall for five hours.

So, sorry, Regina. No live-tweeting a read-through of the budget this year. No getting cranky about property taxes.

Oh sure, I downloaded the city budget. Force of habit. But I’m not going to read it. Not going to think about it. Not going to write about it.

But if I was going to… I’d probably start by taking a look at a claim that’s being repeated in a lot of the budget coverage: This year’s record investment in road repairs. The inadequacy of the road renewal budget is something we’ve been writing about for years so it’s something I like to keep an eye on. And, from what I’m reading, it sounds like city hall is taking a historic step towards remedying this enduring problem.

See! Here it is, mentioned on page two of the city’s 2015 Budget Highlights document:


Sorry. Got a little excited there. Left my notes in place.

Of course, if I was covering the 2015 city budget and not sitting outside drinking a Cisk beer on a clear Maltese night, I might read that line in the Highlights document and think, “$18 million on road repair is a record? Gosh, that doesn’t sound quite right.” And then I might go through my collection of old budgets.

Good thing I deleted all my Prairie Dog files before I came here!

Oh shit! Look at that! Seems I forgot to kill the “Old Regina Budgets” folder. Wonder what the 2014 Budget Highlights document says?

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Huron Carole

Titled after the oldest known Canadian Christmas carol, which was penned by Father Jean de Brebeuf in the 17th century, this holiday fundraiser hosted by Tom Jackson has roots dating back to 1987. There was an eight-year hiatus from 2004-11, and it’s been held for three straight Decembers now with proceeds going to local food banks.

Joining Jackson on this year’s tour are Beverley Mahood, One More Girl, Shannon Gaye and Don Amero. Huron Carole will be held Tuesday, Dec. 17 at Casino Regina at 8 p.m. Tickets are $25 and $33. To give you a taste of what to expect, here’s the video for Beverley Mahood’s latest single “Sunday I’m An Angel”:

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Weekly Reckoning: I’m Going To Make A Paella Edition

weekly-reckoningGood afternoon. Has anyone else here made paella? It’s gobsmackingly easy. For years I believed that Iberian households spent every Sunday on the preparation and production on that most labour-intensive of dishes. Now I find out that you can knock one of those dishes together in 30 minutes. I made a vegetarian version last week and it went off without a hitch.

For tonight’s paella I’ve consulted my cookbooks and taken a prod at the world of online recipes, and so far I’m most amused by Jamie Oliver’s seafood paella recipe. His ingredients list includes “10 king prawns, from sustainable sources, ask your fishmonger.”* That’s right Jamie, I’m going to pop off to my local fishmonger with some ethical questions. Sure hope I don’t end up querying a costermonger by mistake. The very thought of it.

1. FORMER CIA MEMBER THINKS TORTURE REPORT MIGHT BE BAD FOR CIA Well duh. Meanwhile, Dick Cheney spent some time reflecting on the situation and said he would torture people again “in a minute.” Dick, what if that precious minute is just too long?

2. THE MUMPS IS JUST ABOUT READY TO FORM ITS OWN NHL TEAM Sidney Crosby is the 13th NHL player to be diagnosed with the mumps. There are no reports on how many mumps Crosby has, but we can be certain that it’s more than just one mump.


4. UBER IS COMING FOR YOUR ESTABLISHED MODES OF TRANSPORTATION, REGINA The City of Regina is reviewing taxi bylaws in preparation for the inevitable arrival of Uber. What will taxi companies do when Uber’s alien ships arrive and blot out the sun with their sheer mass? What will we do when the Uber smartphone app steals the water from our bodies and sends it off to Uber headquarters, which is located deep beneath the surface of the moon? I think the city should take these factors into account.

5. 44 GUNS OF MYSTERY Regina police have still not recovered 44 of 52 guns stolen from Regina’s Wholesale Sports in 2011. Maybe the thieves are trying to assemble 68 guns?

*Also this: “2 small squid, from sustainable sources, ask your fishmonger, halved and scored, optional.” I’m glad we’re not required to get ethical seafood answers from a halved and scored fishmonger.

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Dog Blog Sticky Post: The Holidays Are Here. What Would You Rather Be Doing?

Grumpy Steve

So busy! So grumpy!

It’s Sunday, Dec. 14. I’m in the office, working. The next issue of Prairie Dog goes to press on Friday, Dec. 19, at 5 p.m. We have five working days to put it together. So here I am in the office on a Sunday afternoon and evening, working on the upcoming edition.

Bleah. I’d rather be at the pub. Or at a movie, or playing board games, or hanging out with friends or pets.

The so-called “holidays” are a busy time for lots of people. Too busy. I bet some of you are busy and grumpy, too.

What would YOU rather be doing that whatever it is you have to do right now?

This was a “sticky post” that stayed at the top of Dog Blog until Thursday, Dec. 17 Friday, Dec. 18, so everyone had a chance to see it and comment, whine, etc. Comments were used for the Dec. 25 Barking Dogs column.

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Sunday Matinee: One Million Years B.C.

One Million Years B.C.As per last week’s request from Greg today’s Sunday Matinee is the Hammer Studios cult classic One Million Years B.C.

Hammer Studios had a string of hits with their horror movies since the 1950’s but those weren’t the only kind of films that they made. They produced a few comedies which never obtained the international success that their horror movies did. In 1965 Hammer had a hit adapting/remaking the classic adventure novel She. In 1966 they made a remake of the 1940 One Million B.C.
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An Index of Saskatchewan Fauna & Other Curiosities

Caitlin MullanThis exhibition arose out of a collaboration between Jennifer Matotek, Director/Curator at the Dunlop Art Gallery; and John Snell, Manager of Public Programs at the Royal Saskatchewan Museum.

What they did is offer Regina printmaker Caitlin Mullan, a founding member of the local collective Articulate Ink,  an opportunity to view art, artifacts and related “curiosities” from their respective permanent collections.

Using those objects as inspiration, Mullan then created two installations that explore their meaning and significance in relation to each other and the province where they were created/found.

The exhibition will be accompanied by a hand-printed field guide (cover image at left) that will assist people in viewing the work much like the field guide a naturalist might rely on while on a wilderness walk.

An Index of Saskatchewan Fauna & Other Curiosities will be on display at Central Library and the Royal Saskatchewan Museum until Jan. 15.

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Manon Lescaut

Based on a 1731 novel by the French writer Abbe Prevost, this opera by Giacomo Puccini debuted in Turin in 1893. It was the third opera by the famed Italian composer, and the first that attracted critical and box office attention.

Manon Lescaut opens in Paris in the latter part of the 18th century, and concerns, as many operas seem to do, a tragic love affair between a woman of ill-repute (Manon) and a man of good social standing (Des Grieux), whose affection for each other isn’t strong enough to weather the social prejudices of the day. Adding a bit of a unique twist is that the lovers end up journeying across the ocean to seek happiness in New Orleans in territory that was then under the control of Spain.

Today and Sunday a production of the opera by London’s Royal Opera will be broadcast at the RPL Theatre. Curtain both days is 2 p.m., and tickets are $15 Adults, $12 Seniors, Students $10. To give you a taste of the opera,  here’s an excerpt from a 2008 production at New York’s Metropolitan Opera:

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Hope (AminRehman)Guest-curated by Regina artist and educator Holly Fay, this group exhibition at the Art Gallery of Regina examines the concept of hope. As defined in one on-line dictionary I consulted, hope means “to desire with expectation of obtainment”.

As individuals, most of us likely harbour hope at various times for all sorts of things in our personal and professional lives. Sometimes, the hope we evince for a particular outcome is realistic. Other times, it’s probably not, at least not without a conscious effort on our part to take the steps necessary to achieve our goal. Yes, hope can be an inspiration. But if it’s not accompanied by any concrete measures to change your existing situation and work toward your goal it’s more or less an empty word.

Those same principles apply to the concept of hope in a broader societal context, where everyone from politicians and retailers to charities, religious leaders and sports teams can use the word to try to connect with the public and win their approval and support.

Artists in the exhibition include Gabriela Garcia Luna, Ernie Klinger, Monique Martin, Christine Ramsay, Amin Rehman, Joseph Siddiqi, Jean E. Sonmor, Sean Whalley, and Carol Wylie. Hope runs at the AGR until Jan. 23, and there’s a closing reception on Jan. 21 from 7-9 p.m.

The pictured work, by the way, is by Amin Rehman, and it’s titled “Can You Touch The Sky”.

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Friendly Update, City Hall: What’s Up With That Budget?

Click me for more city hall stories…Okay… now how does this “blog” software work again??

I’m sitting in a cafe in Valetta, Malta’s capital. It’s the coldest day we’ve had here so far, 14C and rainy. When we got here in September, it was so hot and dry (hadn’t rained since April) that everywhere was brown and yellow. Only the cacti were green. Right now, everything is lush and in bloom. The trees are heavy with oranges.

This is winter in Malta. I could only be happier if the cappuccino I’ve ordered was here right now. (And yes, I’m 100% aware of how lucky I am.)

Anyway, I was idly reading through the twitter feed for my @PDCityHall account and saw some chatter about the budget that was passed on Monday. And I’m curious, what does everybody think? Is it a home run as Mayor Fougere is saying? Or a total disaster?

Personally, I haven’t read it. (Hey, remember February when I live tweeted a read-through of the last budget? What was I thinking? I’m NEVER doing that again. Unless I do.) And I’ve only read Kevin Martel’s coverage over on Newstalk. (Don’t have an online sub for the L-P. I suppose I could cheat and read their stuff anyway… but that’s not cool. But speaking of not cool… Hey Leader Post! Autoplay video? That is very rude. Knock it off.)

I’m especially curious to hear what Barb has to say on the subject. In a comment on another post she mentioned something about a catch-22 regarding sidewalks. What’s that about? Sounds like it’d be right up my alley.

I’ll sign off with a pic of Valetta I took last week when I was in Sliema (which is just across the harbour).


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