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Council Meeting Warp-Up: Blue Dot Be Praised (And Put On Pause)!! Country’s Greenest Council Creates New Asphalt Nation Of Timhortonistan!!

I live tweeted much of the Jan 25 council meeting while in the same room as my 5-year old (who was playing Minecraft). That was pretty nice. What wasn’t so nice was thinking about having to explain to him how our city council postponed signing onto a declaration saying that a healthy environment is a human right because they needed to get a report from administration about the possible implications from being party to such a declaration. You know how it is, signing on to a non-binding feel-good doc like that isn’t something you leap into recklessly.

“But, kiddo, let me tell how later in the same meeting, they didn’t even hesitate to approve a Tim Horton’s for the city’s northeast that will boast a 69-stall surface parking lot. Can you think of a better use of our green-space than that? Incidentally, the parking required by law for that site would be nine stalls. This new Tim Horton’s will have a parking lot nearly eight times larger than that. Talk about overachievers!”

“But yeah. Council cares about the environment. So no need to get discouraged. Enjoy the planet we’ve bequeathed you, my son. Probably shouldn’t think too hard on the climate. But at least you won’t have trouble finding a place to park while you drink a boiling cup of bitterness.”

You can follow along with my live-twittering next council meeting on my @PDCityHall account. A city hall report will likely appear in next week’s Prairie Dog magazine. And Aidan and I will no doubt discuss it during the the next meeting of the Queen City Improvement Bureau, which is a radio show we do every Thursday at 7 pm on 91.3 CJTR, Regina’s community radio station.

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Regina Restaurant Week

After all the fun and excitement of the holiday season, January is typically a slow month for the hospitality industry as people tone down their spending and calorie consumption and seek to escape the typically frigid weather by cocooning at home.

But January’s just about done, and in order to showcase some of the new and renovated restaurants that have sprung up in the downtown over the last few years Regina Downtown Business Improvement District has partnered with over a dozen local establishments to organize a special showcase that runs Jan. 27-Feb. 10.

You can get all the details on Regina Restaurant Week here. But what each participating restaurant is offering is a special price fixe dinner with the choice of one appetizer, entree and dessert for a set price.

Restaurants that have signed on so far include Beer Bros, the Capitol, Copper Kettle, Crave, Diplomat, Famosa, Fat Badger, Flip, Golf’s Steakhouse, Malt City, 20Ten and Victoria’s Tavern.

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Weekly Reckoning

weekly-reckoningWho wants to reckon?

HOW THE BIRDS FLY I watched this animated map of bird migration patterns for an embarrassingly long time. Check out the bird that only goes as far south as Cape Breton. What’s that bird thinking? But then, I suppose that if you’re spending your summers at Ellesmere Island, a rocky outcrop at the end of the Maritimes seems like a good deal.

NOW WITH 3 PER CENT MORE WAGYU If you’re thinking of sampling the menu at Toronto’s uber-fancy Azure Restaurant & Bar, you might as well trawl the aisles of your local Safeway. Organic? Not really. Homemade? Nope. Wagyu steak? Not at all.

MAWR SEKRIT BOWIE Even from the grave, David Bowie isn’t done with us. It turns out that the prolific artist had decades of unreleased material, some of which we may get to hear in 2017. Yay! Also, they’re rebooting Labyrinth! Non-yay.

GETTING DOWN WITH THE REPTILE AGENDA Is your spirit dead? If not, take a look at this dating site for Lizard People. This honestly feels like something from the weird old days of the Internet, when bored people had time to code strange sites (instead of going to California and forming a startup).

FILES ARE GETTING X-EY After many, many years, the show that dominated the ’90s is back for a six-episode miniseries. The first episode is apparently not the best? But who cares, it’s X-Files.

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Sunday Matinee: The Magician

sunday-matineeIngmar Bergman had just came off of a couple of big successes when he made The Magician (Ansikte) aka The Face in 1958. Bergman had made The Seventh Seal and Wild Strawberries in 1957 both masterpieces.

The Magician seems to get lost among all his other films but it’s still a great film.
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The Headstones

If you’re up for a blast from the past in a Can-rock context, the Toronto punk band the Headstones are playing a show at Casino Regina on Tuesday Jan. 26. The band was a fixture on the Canadian music scene from the early 1990s until their break-up in 2002. They reformed in 2013, and have been playing fairly regularly since then.

The band’s highest profile member was front man Hugh Dillon, who in addition to music has carved out a pretty decent career for himself as a TV/film actor highlighted by his starring turn in Bruce MacDonald’s 1996 punk mockumentary Hard Core Logo.

Again, the show goes at Casino Regina on Tuesday. The back-up act is Thunder Bay-based rock band Poor Young Things. To give you a sense of what the Headstones sound like now, here’s the video for “Farawayfromhere” off their 2013 album Love + Fury:

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Florian Hoefner Group

Touring in support of their third full-length album Luminosity that was released earlier this month, the Florian Hoefner Group is in Regina to play a show at LeBistro (3850 Hillsdale) on Sunday Jan. 24 at 8 p.m. The concert is presented by the Regina Jazz Society, and includes back-up act Seamus Blake.

According to his bio, band leader Florian Hoefner began his musical studies in Bavaria, and later received a Fulbright Scholarship to complete his Masters in Music at the Manhattan School of Music in New York. Hoefner is currently based in Newfoundland, and as a jazz pianist and composer, has sat in on many recordings, toured widely throughout Europe and North America, and played top-line jazz festivals around the world. So if you’re a jazz fan this is a must-see show.

You can get more information on the RJS website. Here’s a short excerpt from a performance by the Florian Hoefner Group at the Montreal Jazz Festival last summer:

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Magdance 3: Art + Dance (Updated)

Françoise Sullivan (with Marion Landry), Les Saisons Sullivan, 2007, photograph. Collection of the Université de Quebéc à Montréal (UQAM)

Françoise Sullivan (with Marion Landry),
Les Saisons Sullivan, 2007, photograph.
Collection of the Université de Quebéc à Montréal (UQAM)

Starting on Thursday, Jan. 28, local dance company New Dance Horizons begins a two-month residency at the MacKenzie Art Gallery. The previous two times NDH and MAG joined forces space was set aside in the hardwood-floored Kenderdine Gallery, and a variety of workshops and performances were held.

This year marks NDH’s 30th anniversary, and if you visit its website you’ll find a run-down on all the events that are planned during the residency.

One theme that will be explored is the relationship between visual art and dance. Concurrent with the residency the MacKenzie is hosting an exhibition of dance-themed photographs, drawings and text by Quebec artist/choreographer Francoise Sullivan (sample image above).

Les Saisons Sullivan opens on Thursday Jan. 28 at 7:30 p.m. with a performance of three of Sullivan’s dance works by Ginette Boutin: Dédale (1947), Black and Tan (1947-48) and Je parle (1993). The evening will also feature a conversation between Sullivan and Louise Déry who is the director/curator of the Galerie de l’UQAM in Montréal. Also in attendance will be Allana Lindgren, who authored a 2003 book called From Automatism to Modern Dance: Francoise Sullivan with Franziska Boas in New York. Admission is free.

Following that, there’s the dance work Misfit Blues. It’s co-presented with Le Conseil culturel fransaskois and Dance Saskatchewan, and involves a performance by choreographer Paul-André Fortier and Robin Poitras that explores the inherent comedy in human relationships. It will be held at the MacKenzie Gallery on Jan. 29-30 at 8 p.m., and Feb. 1 at 1:30 p.m. Tickets for that are $30 adult, $20 students & seniors, $10 13 and under.

As outlined on NDH’s website, many more events are planned after that. The residency will run until April 10.

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RSO Masterworks

20160120_140348_resizedI mused in the listings section of our Jan. 21 print issue that of all the great classical composers out there, Tchaikovsky is probably the one who resonates best with Canadians. I based my reasoning on the fact that, like us, Tchaikovsky lived in hugely sprawling, wintery country. The harsh reality of life in Russia would have presumably shaped the character of his compositions, and since we share a similar environment here, it ‘s presumably shaped our psyches in a similar way.

Whether that factored into the Regina Symphony Orchestra’s thinking when programming this Masterworks Concert for the middle of winter I don’t know. But on Saturday Jan. 23 the RSO is presenting The Splendour of Tchaikovsky.

Guest soloist is ex-pat Regina violinist Erika Raum, and three works by the Russian composer are on the program: the Waltz from Eugene Onegin, a violin concerto and Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5. Curtain for the concert at Conexus Arts Centre is Saturday at 8 p.m., and you can find more information on the RSO website.

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Missed It By That Much

After notching its first successful landing of a rocket booster in mid-December, SpaceX experienced a setback on the weekend when it attempted to land another booster. Instead of being on solid land as in December, the target this time was a barge in the Pacific Ocean.

Twice previously, SpaceX has attempted to land rocket boosters on barges and failed. While this attempt was unsuccessful too, it went far better than the previous two landings in January and April 2015, with the booster actually touching down before it slowly began to tilt and eventually topple over.

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said later that one of the booster’s support legs had failed to lock into place after it had touched down, and that had caused the accident. He further speculated that the failure might have been due to ice build-up from condensation from heavy fog at the time of lift-off.

As might be imagined, a barge landing presents greater challenges than a landing on terra firma. This weekend, waves in the vicinity of the platform were in the three to four metre range. Barge landings offer greater flexibility in the type of launches SpaceX can do, though, so they’re seen as an important step in the development of a reusable rocket booster that would dramatically reduce the cost of space missions.

Here’s a short video clip of the Falcon 9 rocket’s descent:

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The Hound Of The Baskervilles

Hounds of the BaskervillesFor the first main stage production of 2016 the Globe Theatre is presenting one of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s most famous mysteries with Sherlock Holmes and his trusty sidekick Dr. Watson venturing on to the dark and foggy moors on the trail of a legendary murderous hound that is believed to curse the Baskerville family on their Devonshire estate.

There’s several classic film versions of the mystery out there. This, though, is a slapstick adaptation of the Doyle tale written by Steven Canny and John Nicholson. The play opens at the Globe Theatre on Wednesday Jan. 20, and will run until Feb. 7. You can find more information on the Globe Theatre website.

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The Galapagos

Charles_Darwin_seatedLater tonight at the Royal Saskatchewan Museum, Nature Regina is hosting an illustrated talk by Ed Rodger and Laurie Koepke on the small group of islands off the coast of Peru that British naturalist Charles Darwin (pictured) visited during a survey expedition by the HMS Beagle. The voyage began shortly after Christmas in 1831, and concluded in October 1836.

Darwin was 22 at the time, and during his nearly five years at sea as a self-funded guest, he conducted wide-ranging surveys of geology and zoology in numerous locations in South America, Australia, Africa and many islands in between. In addition to observing living wildlife, Darwin also discovered fossils of prehistoric creatures.

The Beagle’s visit to the Galapagos Islands occurred in September 1835. While travelling from island to island, Darwin noted slight physiological differences between species of finches, giant tortoises, iguanas and other fauna and flora that he ultimately theorized were due to their having evolved on isolated island habitats over thousands of years.

That insight formed the crux of the theory of natural selection which he went on to develop and ultimately publish in 1859 in a 502 page book titled On the Origin of Species. The Nature Regina talk by Rodger and Koepke goes at the RSM tonight at 7:30 p.m.

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Sunday Matinee: The Man Who Fell To Earth

sunday-matineeLegendary musician David Bowie sadly passed away this week and while Bowie’s achievements in the music industry have influenced just about every aspect of modern music he also dabbled in acting. And while he didn’t act a lot (most folks who remember him from Jim Henson’s Labyrinth) but he was good in what he did star in and it’s his first acting role that was probably his best.
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Exploring Utopianism In Saskatchwan

UtopiaIn 2001, MacKenzie Art Gallery curator Timothy Long put together an exhibition called A Better Place that looked at the concept utopianism in the modern world. One source of inspiration for the show was a famous quote by Saskatchewan CCF premier Tommy Douglas which read: “Courage, my friends; ’tis not too late to build a better world.”

Humanity’s utopian spirit, over the centuries, has been expressed in many different ways, from political movements and revolutionary communal settlements to fictional scenarios in novels and movies and even, in the case of the MacKenzie exhibition, visual art.

On Wednesday Jan. 20, Alex MacDonald will be giving a talk called Exploring Utopianism In Saskatchewan at the Prince of Wales branch library. MacDonald is the author of a 2007 book published by the Plains Research Centre Cloud-Capped Towers: The Utopian Theme in Saskatchewan History and Culture (cover image above).

The talk goes at the Prince of Wales library at 7 p.m. You’re asked to register on the RPL website.

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Stanford Prison Experiment

As originally planned, the experiment was supposed to last for two weeks. But the results were so troubling that it was ended after six days.

It occurred in 1971, and involved Stanford University psychology professor Philip Zimbardo and a team of graduate students who recruited middle class college students and divided them into squads of guards and prisoners to examine how the power dynamics of authority and imprisonment impacted on people.

Stanford Prison Experiment is a psychological thriller inspired by the famous experiment with Billy Crudup in the role of Dr. Zimbardo. The film screens at the RPL Theatre on Thursday Jan. 21 and Saturday Jan. 23 at 9:30 p.m., Friday Jan. 22 at 7 p.m. and Sunday Jan. 24 at 2:30 p.m. Here’s the trailer:

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With the generally mild conditions we’ve enjoyed, winter hasn’t been that much of an ordeal this year. Nonetheless, I’m sure there are plenty of people anxious to crawl out of their cocoons and enjoy some quality live music. To help in that regard, the Regina Folk Festival has teamed with Saskatoon’s Broadway Theatre to present a two-city music festival.

The Regina portion of the festival kicks off on Thursday Jan. 21 with a show at the Exchange at 8 p.m. The headliners are the Vancouver blues/rock duo Harpoonist & the Axe Murderer. Sharing the stage will be opening act Megan Nash and Cecilé Doo-Kingué.

On Friday Jan. 22 at 8:30 p.m., Darke Hall is the venue for a show headlined by the Toronto band Whitehorse fronted by Melissa McClelland and Luke Doucet. The bill also features Andy Shauf and Emily Wells.

On Saturday Jan. 23 at 1:30 p.m., there’s a family-friendly show with popular children’s entertainer Fred Penner. Then that night Winterruption winds up with a show at the Artesian at 8 p.m. featuring Alex Cuba, Étienne Fletcher and the Good Lovelies.

You can find out more information on the RFF website, and here’s the video for Whitehorse’s song “Baby What’s Wrong?” off their 2015 album Leave No Bridge Unburned:

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REVIEW: Trumbo Won’t Be Denied


As biopics aiming for gold go, Trumbo packs a bigger punch than your average awards chaser. Sure, the film namedrops the scriptwriter’s greatest hits (Roman Holiday, The Brave One, Spartacus), but never loses sight of what it is about: A man fighting against fear and injustice with cunning, until the suppressive system becomes unsustainable.

The film chronicles the ten years Dalton Trumbo (a terrific Bryan Cranston) spent on the black list, alongside nine other scriptwriters whose livelihood was destroyed because of their affiliation with the communist party. At the time, Joseph McCarthy and his cronies considered Hollywood a weapon of indoctrination the Reds were using to brainwash Americans. Continue Reading →

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REVIEW: Goodnight Mommy, Sweet Nightmares


One of the rare Austrian films not involving Michael Haneke to cross the Atlantic, Goodnight Mommy fits the description of “art-house horror”. Don’t let that deter you: This little film is as nasty and mean spirited as your average slasher, only it also offers a terrifying look into the mind of kids, whose lack of grasp on adult issues can turn dangerous very quickly.

Twin nine year-old boys Lukas and Elias move into an isolated cottage with their mother (Susanne Wuest, a find). Mom has gone through extensive facial plastic surgery, and expects peace and quiet from the kids. Practically left to their own devices, the boys have begun to suspect the aloof and often hostile woman spending all day in her room may actually not be their mommy, and they are out to prove it. Continue Reading →

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Dressler & Chick Released

Rider LogoThe changes keep on coming for the Green & White, as the team announced today that it had parted ways with two fan favourites: receiver Weston Dressler and defensive lineman John Chick.

Both are veteran players in their 30s with relatively large salaries, and in the team’s announcement GM/Head Coach Chris Jones said efforts to renegotiate their contracts had not been successful and the team had reached the difficult decision to release them.

Jones has said that he wants to get bigger at the receiver position, and with both Dressler and impressive 25-year old rookie Ryan Smith on the small side, it seemed unlikely that both would remain on the roster. Smith is a free agent, so jettisoning Dressler could clear the way to signing him. Or the team may decide to not pursue him either.

As for Chick, he enjoyed some dominant years with the Riders, and celebrated Grey Cups in 2007 and 2013. But again, he’s in the twilight of his career, and carries a hefty contract, and in a salary cap environment finances inevitably play a role in player personnel decisions.

We’ll be running our first Rider Fan Forum of the 2016 CFL season in the Feb. 18 issue, by the way. In November, Ron Mexico forecast that both Dressler and Chick could be on their way out. So it’ll be interesting to see what he and Earl Camembert, Cal Corduroy and John’s Chick have to say about the team.

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Nature Matching System

tattfoo_1322853441_69We’ll perhaps have a review down the road, but on Jan. 22 the Dunlop Art Gallery will be opening a new exhibition called On The Table. The exhibition features work by 14 Canadian and international artists and will be held at the Central and Sherwood Village galleries. It’s curated by Blair Fornwald, Jennifer Matotek and Wendy Peart, and will explore the subject of food.

Before that happens, though, the Dunlop is hosting a drop-in workshop called Nature Matching System which will give people an opportunity to create a small panel for an art work by Brooklyn artist Tattfoo Tan (pictured above) that will be part of On The Table. Fan’s art work will apparently examine the importance of colour to our diet.

The workshop goes on Saturday Jan. 16 from 1-4 p.m. at the Dunlop. And On the Table itself opens on Friday Jan. 22 at Central Library with an artist talk by Amber Phelps Bondaroff at 6 p.m., and a reception at 7 p.m.

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Poor Nameless Boy

20160113_171854_resizedPoor Nameless Boy is the stage name of local singer-songwriter Joel Henderson. On Sunday, Jan. 17 he’ll be launching his second full-length album Bravery at the Artesian on 13th.

Joel’s brother Chris Henderson is a reasonably well-known country musician. Joel’s sound leans more toward introspective folk music. His debut release was The Activity Book in 2013. For Bravery he drew on his experience working in community outreach, where he faced the challenge of dealing with people living in troubled circumstances, and doing what he could to help them turn their lives around.

“When I write songs, I’m first and foremost trying to find important stories to tell or highlight the beautiful aspects of these stories,” he says. “As a songwriter you’re trying your best to tell a story — the better you tell it, the deeper people may connect or put themselves in those shoes.”

Recorded at B-Rad Studios in Regina, Bravery features contributions from Thomas St. Onge (electric guitar), Brad Prosko (bass), Carmelle Pretzlaw (violin), Kyle Halverson (drums), with guest vocals by Tenille Arts, Denise Valle and Chris Henderson. 

Again, the CD launch goes Sunday at the Artesian with doors at 7 p.m. and show at 7:30 p.m.  Kirby Criddle is the support act, and tickets are $10 advance and $15 door.

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