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Happy Birthday, Parking Lot


Hey Regina. Long time, no blog. Just checking in to provide a little update on a story we covered the heck out of back in the day.

Remember 1755 Hamilton Street? It was once the site of an apartment building. But city hall let the owners tear it down at the height of the housing crisis, thus putting 46 low-income households out onto the street at a time when the vacancy rate in Regina was functionally zero percent. Then, after that little debacle, council granted the owners a permit to turn the site of that bulldozed apartment block into a surface parking lot even though that’s specifically not permitted under the Downtown Neighbourhood Plan.

Of course, that parking lot permit was supposed to be temporary. For three years only.

We chronicled the whole sorry saga of 1755 Hamilton in some detail, on both the blog and in the paper, in articles titled things like: “Some Parting Thoughts,” “And Housing Becomes Parking,” “Convenient Parking, Well Aren’t You Feeling Real Dirty,” “Westland Tries To Buy Time With Fancy Drawings,” “Parking As Predicted,” “More Ranting About How The City Has Failed Renters,” “People Used To Live Here,” “It’s Not Quite Dead Yet,” “Learned Helplessness” and “Renters Lose Again”.

Well, that temporary zoning was passed on March 18, 2013. And as it’s now April of 2016, that means the three years are up as of last month.

And guess what! Instead of coming forward three years later with a keen development plan for that site, the owners of the 1755 Hamilton surface parking lot are — big honking surprise to absolutely no one at Prairie Dog — requesting a three year extension for their parking lot. You can see the development application that’s appeared on the city’s website by embiggening the graphic at the top of this post.

That temporary surface parking lot is kinda starting to look like a downtown fixture now, eh?

Continue Reading →

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“Daily” Aggregation: The Blue Jackets Suck

daily-aggregation-21 SUNRISE VS. SUNSET 5:57 and 7:59 — which means for the first time in 2016 we’ve got more than 14 hours of daylight. That’s all right, huh?

2 LOOKS LIKE A HOT WEEK CBC has decreed it to be so. In less cheerful climate news, the planet is burning alive.

3 ROUGH ROADS FOR WORKSITE SASKATCHEWAN Apparently the trades — viewed by some conservatives as the only legitimate career choice for people who aren’t lawyers, doctors or otherwise properly white-collared — are in trouble. Well, now that we’ve cleverly re-elected a hypercharged Saskatchewan Party majority government, I’m sure we’ll be back in boom times soon.

4 WHO’S TO BLAME? “Steve, the NDP ran a tone-deaf campaign. They got what they earned. If you’re bitter about the result, don’t blame Brad Wall.” Yes, the NDP ran a unsatisfying election campaign and the party’s now-former leader immolated himself in a ridiculous, shouty debate. So what? Hey! Maybe the Sask. Party can blame the NDP’s campaign for the looming downturn! Or there’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau; Brad Wall could blame him for anything that goes wrong here! Or hey! The Sask Party could blame the old film industry for being a greedy, grant-sucking, unsustainable mess.  I’m not sure what responsibility our virtually non-existent film industry bears for our economy’s imminent face-plant but bashing the creative sector probably plays well in Swift Current and that’s what matters.

5 ON THE RECORD One of the women who got put on trial for accusing Jian Ghomeshi of assault wants her name known. A heroic decision.

6 ALSO, PEOPLE SURE ARE MEAN TO MONICA LEWINSKI Story here. Annoying. Lewinski’s got nothing to be ashamed of. It’s not like she’s some racist red state xenophobe. That would be something to be afraid of.

7 COULD THE CANADIAN WHEAT BOARD COME BACK? Who knows, but the L-P’s Bruce Johnstone wrote a decent column about the possibility. If nothing else, Johnstone’s column is a good reminder that the Harper Conservatives arguably broke a promise they’d made to farmers to consult them before WCB privatization. I write “arguably” because I personally think that government was a bunch of liars who bamboozled Saskatchewan’s unfortunate farmers.

8 QUEEN CITY IMPROVEMENT BUREAU Paul Dechene and Aidan Morgan have a weekly show on CJTR! They interview everyday Regina VIPs and talk about zoning bylaws and superhero movies. This week: roller derby, parking lots, Zog the time travelling caveman and loneliness in the sub-basement.

9 NHL DRAFT LOTTERY RESULTS In the lead-up to the April 30 NHL draft lottery — a.k.a. the only thing a Columbus Blue Jacket fan can look forward to at this point in the season — I’m running the NHL Draft Lottery Simulator every day. Will my lame, godforesaken team get the first overall pick so they can draft U.S. phenom Austin Matthews and maybe make the playoffs next year? Not today. Today they got leapfrogged by three teams with better records, and will drop to the 7th overall spot. That’s my team!

NHL Lottery Simulator-April 18

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Matthew & Jill Barber

Matthew’s a few years older than his sister Jill, and got his start in the music biz a few years earlier, but they’ve both become well-known on the Canadian music scene.

Matthew’s a singer-songwriter who fits in the indie folk/pop category, while Jill has similar roots, but has done the bulk of her performing lately as a jazz vocalist.

On Thursday April 21 the Barbers are in town to play a show at Casino Regina that’s being presented by the Regina Jazz Society. They’ve apparently just released an album of cover songs called The Family Album so I expect they’ll be performing some of those songs, plus also some of their own material.

The concert is a fundraiser for the Regina Jazz Society, and also includes a silent auction. Tickets are $25/$30, and you can get more info on the Casino Regina website.

Here’s video from a few years ago of the siblings doing a song called “All I Do Is Dream” by another set of siblings the Everly Brothers

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Sunday Matinee: Bicycle Thieves

sunday-matineeThe Criterion Collection has just released one of the greatest movies of all time on Blu-ray Ladri di biciclette, aka The Bicycle Thief or as it’s more commonly known as know Bicycle Thieves.

This brilliant movie from director Vittorio De Sica is set after WWII in Italy and follows a father (Lamberto Maggiorani) and his young son (Enzo Staiola) as they desperately search the city for the father’s bicycle which has been stolen and that he needs for his job or else he loses that job.
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Joe Satriani

Both as a performer and a teacher Joe Satriani is a certified musical legend. Born in New York State in 1956, he’s either tutored and/or collaborated with some of the biggest names in the guitar biz from Steve Vai and Brian May to Kirk Hammett and Kenny Wayne Shepherd.

Since 2008, Satriani has also played guitar with the blues rock super-group Chickenfoot fronted by Sammy Hagar and including Michael Anthony (Van Halen) and Chad Smith (Red Hot Chili Peppers). He’s also recorded over a dozen solo albums of instrumental blues and rock.

On Tuesday April 19 Satriani is in town to play a show at Conexus Arts Centre at 8 p.m. The show is subtitled From Surfing to Shockwave which covers albums recorded from 1987 to 2015. You can find out more info on the show, which will include contributions from Marco Minneman, Bryan Beller and Mike Keneally, on the the CAC website.

Here’s Satriani’s 2013 video for his song “Always With Me, Always With You”:

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Fan Expo Regina

The third annual celebration of comic, SF, anime, horror and other niche cultures goes at Canada Centre Building, Evraz Place on April 23-24.

In addition to all the different displays from local and travelling exhibitors tied to products in this area, not to mention all the fans who show up dressed like a favourite superhero or other character in these genres, the highlight of these expos is typically the celebrity guests. In this case, the guests include Sean Astin (Lord of the Rings), James & Oliver Phelps (the Weasley twins in Harry Potter), Verne Troyer (Mini-Me in the Austin Powers movies), Dirk Benedict (Battlestar Galactica) and Matt Frewer (Max Headroom).

On April 23, Fan Expo Regina runs from 10 a.m.-7 p.m., and on April 24 the hours are from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. For more information you can visit the Fan Expo Regina website.

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Jason Collett

In late March we had an alumnus of the Toronto music collective Broken Social Scene pass through town. That would be Emily Haines, who currently fronts the Canadian rock group Metric. On Tuesday April 19 another former member of BSS plays Regina.

As a solo artist, Jason Collett has eight studio albums to his credit — the most recent being Song and Dance Man which was released in February. For some time now, he’s had a regular back-up band that has also released material of its own under the name Zeus.

Zeus will be performing with Collett on Tuesday, and the opening act will be Ontario singer-songwriter Kalle Mattson. The show goes at the Exchange, and tickets are $15 advance and $20 door.

To give you a sense of what Collett’s been up to lately here’s the video for the title track off his latest album:

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The True Jive Pluckers

True Jive PluckersThis Pops concert is the second last of the Regina Symphony Orchestra’s 2015-16 season. It goes Saturday April 16 at Conexus Arts Centre and features the local trio The True Jive Pluckers composed of (from right to left in photo) Ed Minevich (violin), Stephen McLellan (bass) and Jack Semple (guitar) who will sit in with the regular symphony players to perform a mix of classical, blues, tango, gypsy, klezmer and jazz tunes.

The concert starts at 8 p.m., and ticket information is available on the RSO website.

Further to the Pops series, with new conductor Gordon Gerrard coming on board in 2016-17 to replace Victor Sawa, the RSO has decided to discontinue its annual Oscar tribute to movie music. Instead, it’s put together the following line-up of concerts:

Reimagining Broadway with Sarah Slean
October 22, 2016
Gordon Gerrard, conductor; Sarah Slean, vocals: Mike Janzen, vocals/piano/arranger; George Koller, bass and Davide Direnzo, drums.

A Celtic Tenor Christmas
December 3, 2016
Mélanie Léonard, conductor

Fifty Years of Bond…James Bond
February 18, 2017
Gordon Gerrard, conductor

Prairie Pops with Jeffery Straker
March 25, 2017
Gordon Gerrard, conductor; Jeffery Straker, singer-pianist; Connie Kaldor, special guest

Time for Three
May 6, 2017
Gordon Gerrard, conductor; Nikki Chooi, violin; Nicholas Kendall, violin and Ranaan Meyer, double bass

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Romeo & Juliet

RomeoJulietThe Globe Theatre describes this production of English playwright William Shakespeare’s famous romantic tragedy as an “interpretation”.

I don’t have any details yet on what form that interpretation will take, although there’s certainly been no shortage of adaptations that have been done over the years that have been set in different time periods and involved different set-ups for the rival Montague and Capulet clans

This Globe version of Romeo and Juliet is being directed by Anita Rochon, and as it happens, the play’s run coincides with the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death which occurred on April 23, 1616.

Romeo & Juliet opens tonight at the Globe Theatre, and continues until May 1. For ticket information you can visit the Globe Theatre website.

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When Raven Became Spider

Julianne HerneyGuest curated by Vancouver-based Gitxaala/British curator/artist Leena Minifie, this exhibition opens at the Dunlop Art Gallery on Friday April 15 and includes work by six indigenous artists: Joi T. Arcand, Sonny Assu , Julianne Beaudin-Herney, Shaun Beyale, Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers and Jeffrey Veregge.

You can find out more on the show on the Dunlop website, but the basic premise is that Minifie is exploring parallels between superheroes in modern pop culture and supernatural characters of one kind or another that are featured in indigenous myths and legends.

Often, those stories were transmitted orally. Superheroes in pop culture, conversely, have their roots in comic books — so through their work the artists are also examining the intersection between the oral and the visual and how those different strategies can be used to transmit meaning.

When Raven Became Spider opens with a talk by Minifie on Friday at 6 p.m., followed by a reception. Then the following weekend Julianne Beaudin-Herney (pictured above) will be doing a performance involving her heroine Super Neckbone Woman at Fan Expo Regina. The performance is called A Historic Confrontation, and it will be held Saturday, April 23 from 10-10:15 am outside Fan Expo at Evraz Place, and again from 1-1:15 pm at the Regina Public Library booth inside Fan Expo.

When Raven Became Spider runs at the Dunlop Gallery until June 22.

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Star Trek: The Ultimate Voyage

I’m totally flying blind with this blog post on some multi-media performance that’s being held at Conexus Arts Centre on Friday April 15 — I even asked around the office a bit, but no one could shed any light on what the hell it might involve.

Going by the description on the CAC website, apparently there’s some famous TV and movie franchise that’s been kicking around for a few decades now and to commemorate some anniversary it’s having a production company called CineConcerts has assembled a live orchestra that will perform scores composed for the TV shows and movies coupled with iconic images and video from the franchise projected on a giant screen.

The performance on Friday gets going at 8 p.m., and here’s a promotional trailer for the show that maybe those who are more in the know than me and my Prairie Dog colleagues can glean some useful information from:

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Sunday Matinee: Only Angels Have Wings

sunday-matineeHoward Hawks made a lot of action adventure movies but one of his best is 1939’s Only Angels Have Wings which Criterion will be releasing on Blu-ray on Tuesday April 12.

Only Angels Have Wings stars Cary Grant as pilot named Geoff. Geoff is also the manager of a flying mail service in the fictional South American port town of Barranca. The mail service is owned by “Dutchy” (Sig Ruman) and employs several pilots. The route through the mountain pass is extremely dangerous but if Geoff and Dutchy can make a trial period of several consecutive deliveries without fail, they will be awarded a lucrative government contract.
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John Wort Hannan

John Wort Hannam was born on the Channel Island of Jersey in 1968, but he’s called Fort MacLeod, AB home for some time now. Over the course of his nearly 20 year career as a musician, he’s released six albums (the most recent being Love Lives On in October), picked up Juno and Canadian Folk Music Association awards in the traditional/folk category, and carved out a reputation for himself as a troubadour who tells stories of the west with the same flare as iconic prairie writers W.O. Mitchell and Sharon Butala.

On Wednesday April 13 John Wort Hannam and his band are in town to play a show at the Artful Dodger. To give you a sense of what to expect, here’s video of him performing the title track off his latest album

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Space X Success

I’ve posted before about attempts by the company Space X to land a booster rocket in an upright position on a barge in the ocean. Pretty much since the dawn of space travel, booster rockets that launch astronauts and other payloads into space have simply been jettisoned during the early stages of the mission and have either burned up in the atmosphere or dropped into the ocean. Pundits have compared that to putting a new engine in your car after every time you go for a drive.

What Space X aims to do is recover the rocket intact, which would permit it to be reused — drastically reducing the potential cost of a space mission. After several near misses, Space X succeeded yesterday in landing one of its Falcon 9 rockets in an upright position on the barge.

While such landings are still a long way from being routine, it very definitely was a major step forward for Space X and its visionary founder/Internet billionaire Elon Musk. And if you don’t know already, here’s a bit of local trivia. While Musk himself was born in South Africa, his mother Maye was born in Regina.

So congrats to Musk and his Space X colleagues on their accomplishment.

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The things you learn while researching blog posts.

This one’s about a metal concert that’s going down at the SCES Club on Tuesday April 12. The headline act is the French death metal band Gorod. They’ve been around since 1997, and apparently when they first started they went by the name Gorgasm. Shortly after releasing their debut album Neurotripsicks in 2004, though, they switched their name to Gorod to avoid confusion with an American band that also went by the name Gorgasm.

And that’s not all. When I delved a little deeper, I found there was a 1990 horror movie called Gorgasm about a psychotic call girl, and I’m quoting from the IMDb database here, who has “a strange obsession with giving men the ultimate climax.”

Don’t know if that flick was the initial inspiration for either of the band’s names, but since adopting Gorod as their name this French metal band has released five additional albums — the most recent being A Maze of Recycled Creeds in 2015.

Joining Gorod on the bill at the SCES Club on Tuesday are Bookakee, Oracles of Oppression and Dystopian Wasteland. Doors are at 7 p.m., and tickets are a very reasonable $10.

Here’s Gorod’s video for their song “Inner Alchemy” off A Maze of Recycled Creeds:

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Extroverts Release Party

Formed in 1979, the Extroverts are local legends in Regina. During a three-year run, they were standard-bearers for the punk/new wave movement in the city — touring relentlessly, and writing in excess of 75 songs.

The Extroverts disbanded in 1982, but singer Brent Caron, guitarist Eddie Lester, bassist Grant McDonald and drummer Hap Hazard kept in touch, and in 2009 they reformed and began playing shows again.

The band has been busy in the studio too. On Friday April 8, they’re playing a release show for a seven inch single containing two songs (Government Girls and Hysteria Night) off their forthcoming album Supple.

Sharing the bill will be the Delta Throats, Doubt It and Carl Johnson. Tickets are $10, and the first 100 people through the door on Friday, plus all advance ticket purchasers, get a free copy of the seven inch.

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Jonathan Byrd & Corin Raymond

Born in North Carolina in 1970, Jonathan Byrd released his first album in 2001. Stylistically, his music falls into the category of Americana/roots with a strong focus on narrative ballads that address issues of life and loss in the American heartland.

He typically performs solo on acoustic guitar, but for his upcoming show at the Exchange he’s touring with Toronto folk artist Corin Raymond who will likely sit in with him for at least part of the set.

The show is being presented by Grassroots Regina and goes at the Exchange on Saturday April 9 at 8 p.m. You can get more info on the Grassroots Regina website, but tickets are $20 advance and $25 door.

Here’s the video for Jonathan Byrd’s 2015 song “Love Is The Law”:

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Live Theatre from the London West End: Hangmen


As part of the Live Stage to the Screen series, this Thursday Cineplex will be showing the recent winner of Best New Play at the Olivier Awards, Hangmen.

The piece was written and directed by one of the best playwrights at work in the UK, Martin McDonagh (In Bruges, Seven Psychopats), who went ten years without treating his fans with new material, at least on stage.

Hangmen takes place mostly at a pub the day the British government announced the abolition of capital punishment (1965, not that long ago). While the decision has a considerable impact in the general population, no one is more affected than Harry Allen (David Morrissey), England’s second best executioner. Continue Reading →

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Best Of The Winnipeg Comedy Festival

If you’d like some comedy to decompress after the recently concluded (and hotly contested) provincial election, Casino Regina has just what you need.

Hosted by Big Daddy Taz, the show, which goes Saturday April 9 at 8 p.m., features comics Peter White, Matt Nightingale and Tim Nutt. Tickets are $20/$25, and more information on the performers can be found on the Casino Regina website.

Here’s a short routine by Tim Nutt from the 2014 Ha!ifax ComedyFest:

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Hailing from sunny Los Angeles, Intronaut is progressive/experimental metal band. The quartet has been around since 2004, and have released five studio albums — the most recent being The Direction of Last Things in November 2015.

On Wednesday April 6 Intronaut (the band’s name is apparently supposed to inspire people to embark on inner journeys when listening to their prog, jazz-inflected songs) will be in town to play a show at the Exchange.

Tucson metal band North is also on the bill. You can get ticket info on the Exchange website, and to give you a sense of what to expect here’s the video for the first single off Intronaut’s latest album called Fast Worms:

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