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Plywood Chic

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

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

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

Disclosure: Greg Beatty lives in the Willoughby & Duncan building on the Scarth St. mall. 

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The Bachs

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

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

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

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True Fact

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

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Toronto Raptors vs. Brooklyn Nets

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

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

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

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

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

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Florida Georgia Line

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

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

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End of An Era?

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

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

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

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

 

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The Creepshow

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

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

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Scary Goings On On Scarth Street Mall

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

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

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Gateway Announces 2014 Line-Up

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

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

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

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Art In Bloom

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

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

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

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Lunar Eclipse Clarification

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

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

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

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Book Trailer Screening

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

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

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

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Travellers Building Update

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

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

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Weekly Reckoning: Too Much Showgirls Edition

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Sunday Matinee: American Graffiti

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

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

In addition to its regular Thursday through Sunday evening programming, the Regina Public Library film theatre has started screening operas performed by the Royal Opera House of London. This afternoon’s offering is Giacomo Puccini’s Tosca. 

Based on a French language play by Victorien Sardou, Tosca debuted in 1900. The opera is set in Rome in the year 1800, and derives it’s dramatic tension from Napoleon’s invasion of Italy which threatens the Kingdom of Naples’ hold on the Eternal City.

The performance screens at 2 p.m. today, and tickets are $15 adults, $12 seniors and $10 students. Two other operas are on the RPL schedule. May 24-25 the Royal Opera is performing Verdi’s Les Vepres Sicilennes, then on June 14-15 Bizet’s Carmen will be performed.

To give you a sense of what Tosca is like here’s an eight minute excerpt from a 2010 performance  at the Munich Opera Festival:

 

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Keeping An Anti-Gay Bigot Out Of Canada Doesn’t Violate Anyone’s Freedom Of Speech

I just got off the phone with Whitworth.

Earlier today I wrote a comment on one of his posts about how Peter LaBarbera had been allowed into the country — LaBarbera being of course the head of Americans For Truth About Homosexuality who’d originally been denied entry into Canada because immigration officials figured his talk at a Saskatchewan Pro-Life Association conference would incite hatred against homosexuals. And anyway, Steve had called because he figured my hastily drafted rant about the guy should graduate to full-on blog-post status.

As requested, I’m posting a slightly edited version of it below.

But before I do, in his call, Steve mentioned a few things about LaBarbera I hadn’t known and that made me rather angry: The dude not only openly praises from his home turf the murderous anti-gay laws in Uganda and the scandalous anti-gay laws in Russia, he’s also travelled to Jamaica to support efforts there to halt the repeal of that country’s repressive anti-gay laws.

So when LaBarbera comes a-knocking, it may not be just to engage in some kind of democratic debate, it’s probably part of his larger campaign to spread his malevolence around the globe and have it enshrined in law.

Anyway, here’s that blog comment about LaBarbera…

Even if immigration hadn’t changed their mind and he’d been kept out of the country, no one’s freedom of speech would have been infringed upon.

The religio-facists in Weyburn would still get to say whatever caustic, anti-gay crud they want. And LaBarbera would have been able to continue to spread hate and bile in his country and on the internet. Heck, he could’ve Skyped into the conference and said his piece that way.

In this case, the original decision wasn’t to silence anybody in Weyburn but rather to deny LaBarbera entry to Canada. And entering Canada is not something that every American is entitled to do.

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Big Trouble In River City

In a prairie dog blog post 15 months ago, I opinioned that nobody has mentioned why a 35,000-seat football stadium in Regina will cost nearly $300 million while a 33,000-seat football stadium in Winnipeg had cost about $200 million to build.

Winnipeg Mayor Sam Katz has come up with the information that I requested, and, in truth, it appears as though that the saga of the University of Manitoba Institute For Mosquito-Breeding Studies is a case of haste makes waste.

And the president of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers is trying to make sure that reporters and the public don’t learn of the full extent of the damage, even though the public, through their tax dollars, are the ones who are paying for the stadium, and for the damage from the flood waters. We’re just supposed to take his word for it that the stadium is in fine shape. Because football.

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The F-Holes

The F-Holes are out of Winnipeg and have played Regina a number of times before, both under their original name and with old-tyme blues and country singer Little Miss Higgins as the Winnipeg Five. Their music defies easy categorization, as it encompasses a bled of blues, jazz, country and rock.

Tonight they’re in town to play a show at the Lancaster Taphouse in south-west Regina. To give you a sense of what they’re like here’s video from a few years ago of the band performing “Something Good” at the Festival du Voyager in Winnipeg:

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Daily Aggregation Double-Shot Featuring Friday Afternoon Kitty!

daily-aggregation-21. THE EVIL HAS LANDED Peter LaBarbera of the crackpot organization/designated hate group Americans For Truth About Homosexuality has, after initially being blocked from entering Canada, been permitted to bring his abominable, crazy and anachronistic ideas into our country. Yes, LaBarbera will speak at a crackpot, fundamentalist Christian convention in Weyburn this weekend. He wants a “civil debate” about stripping rights away from people because he has a religious objection to their sexual orientation. Uh huh. You know what? I’m okay with this. While the initial decision to bar LaBarbera’s entry is defensible on the grounds that his insane, unfactual ideas promote hatred against and discrimination toward an identifiable minority group that has been and still is targeted for violence, it’s kind of great for sane people to be able to see just how loony the conservative religious extremist, antigay and anti-abortion really movements are. By all means, give the anal-sex-obsessed conservative the microphone and let him hang himself. At this point in history, the LGBT movement and its allies (ahem!) are strong enough to counter such stupidity.

Might be more on the blog on this topic this weekend.

2. STANDARDIZED TESTING IS DEAD, DEAD, DEAD The Saskatchewan government listened to critics who brought their expertise to bear against this plan. Good for the government! [salutes]

3. “GIVE UKRAINE MONEY”: U.S.A. What it says.

4. A STATE FUNERAL FOR JIM FLAHERTY Story here. Read some compassionate thoughts on Flaherty and his legacy by people who think his politics stunk here and here. Though he was probably among the best of a bad lot in our horrible federal government, I’ll let the bankers and Bay Streeters mourn him. I’m busy sympathizing with the 600 CBCers who’ll lose their jobs thanks to his 2012 budget.

5. FRESH ‘N’ SWEET TELEVISION A well-reviewed downtown awesomesauce restaurant is on the Food Network tonight!

6. RYAN SMYTH RETIRES A beloved, awesome NHLer and a real old-time hockey lunk (in a good way) hangs up the skates.

7. ANOTHER BIG FIGHT OVER CLIMATE CHANGE STUDY Read all about it.

FRIDAY AFTERNOON KITTY: BANECAT WILL BREAK YOU! Have a great weekend! Don’t be an ignorant bigot!

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