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Six In The Morning

Your (week-)daily morning news update and linkapalooza.

1 CANADA SETS MEDAL RECORD I know eh?

2 CHILE HIT BY THREE AFTERSHOCKS The country is in shambles after an Armageddon-class 8.8 magnitude earthquake smote it on Saturday. Sounds like there’s been a wise decision to recognize the difference between looters and quake victims just trying to find urgently-needed provisions, so that’s good. Our thoughts go to the nation’s people. Read more by clicking on this link. (New York Times)

3 ROGUE OVER The Olympics are done and parliament is back Wednesday for the throne speech. There’s a lot to talk about. One really ominous quote in that Toronto Star article is from Ralph Goodale. who says the Conservatives “”want to cripple the fiscal framework. That is a deliberate strategy.” Well, he’s a politician playing politics but he’s also 100 per cent right. Taxes have been cut to a level that doesn’t support spending. It’s called a structural deficit–and the nice thing about structural deficits for government-hating politicians is they give you an excuse to trash spending. bad bad bad stuff. One thing that’s different from a few months ago: it’s not likely we’ll have an election anytime soon. (Toronto Star)

4 SASK GOVERNMENT REACHES TENTATIVE DEAL WITH GOVERNMENT WORKER’S UNION Well, good! (Leader-Post)

5 EBERT SPEAKS?!? Apparently some software wizards have built a program that will let Roger Ebert “talk”using a “voice” rebuilt from samples of his own, pre-cancer surgery voice. I love this! This is news from a world I actually want to live in. (Associated Press/CBC) 

6 MEANWHILE IN U.S. HEALTH CARE Wondering where that’s all at? Here’s a ginormous article you can read. I got three graphs in myself, I’ll have to come back to it later.  Dudes! I’m busy here! (TPM)

FOOTNOTE: This Six In The Morning was written while I was blowing out my ears with the New Pornographers. The superstar mostly-Canadian band (prominent players are Carl Newman, Dan Bejar and honourary Canadian Neko Case) has a new disc coming out this spring, too. Yeehaw!


The New Pornographers – All For Swinging You Around
Download Music Video Code at Roxwel

The Gang’s All Here

What’s that soft dreamy look in Stephen Harper’s face? Is it the satisfaction of having just fleeced me  (and you, and everyone else in Canada) for $4,000 for the Olympics? Is he tasting the delicious mountain air of a province which now has effectively no arts funding? Or is he dreaming that the Olympic bait and switch has worked, and he’ll be back to a new parliament where everyone has forgotten everything, and he can get back to dismantling government? (CBC)

But wait!

Look at that hand! Isn’t that… A gang signal of some sort? That would be illegal in some countries? (Gangscene)

One guess at what he’s saying (and really, what does Stephen Harper ever say?)

Image courtesy of drako666 on Flickr

Pick of the Day: The Wooden Sky

If you check out our Feb. 25 issue, you’ll find a preview of this gig by Emily Zimmerman. I saw the Wooden Sky at a house concert in the Cathedral Area in early August just after the Regina Folk Festival. It was pretty cool. I even wrote about it in a subsequent issue. If our on-line archive was up and running, I could link you to it. But since it isn’t yet, you’ll have to settle for this link to an old Dog Blog post Carey Shaw did showing photos she took at the concert.

The Wooden Sky were originally supposed to play O’Hanlon’s in early February. But the alt-country Toronto septet ended up rescheduling to play two sold-out gigs in Calgary, and since then they’ve been performing throughout Alberta and B.C., including some shows at the Olympics. On their way home to Toronto for Canadian Music Week, I imagine, the Wooden Sky play the Exchange tonight.

As far as Mondays go, not too shabby.

This Week In Dead B-List Celebrity Sons

Boy, what a week for the sons of 70s tv stars. First the beautiful Andrew Koenig (aka Boner from Growing Pains) was found dead in Vancouver (nothing says “I Don’t Believe,” like a Stanley Park suicide during the Olympics.) Now Marie Osmond’s son Michael Blosil has thrown himself off a building in LA. Michael, 18 a student in fashion design, was one of her eight chilluns, (and one of five adoptees, which sort of suggests an Angeline Jolie-style baby-adopting frenzy at some point).  (Examiner.com; NY Times)

Both men had depression, and both deaths are incredibly sad. Depression is a bitch.

This Week at City Hall

Regina City Hall Feb 22, 2010Tuesday, March 2
FINANCE AND ADMINISTRATION COMMITTEE (12:15 pm): Looking at 2010’s Property Tax Exemptions. The total amount the city is foregoing through these exemptions is $2,257,000. The committee will also be considering a recommendation to sell some city-owned land to the Regina Qu’appelle Health Region without going through a public process. Reason for this is the hospital had to give up some staff parking for the new Dewdney Avenue Fire Hall. This land sale will replace the parking they lost.

Wednesday, March 3
EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE (11:45 am): There is nothing on the public agenda for this committee.

Thursday, March 4
ENVIRONMENT ADVISORY COMMITTEE (5 pm): Considering the possibility of holding a “Natural Step” workshop, which seems to be some kind of educational opportunity for organizations hoping to build their sustainable practices. Also looking at request from the Canadian Cancer Society to address the committee about pesticides and a recommendation to move forward on “compare and contrast exercise” covering bylaws relating to water. The committee will also be discussing the Waste Plan and preparing their response to it for when it goes before Public Works Committee on March 16.

As always, you can download reports and agendas on the city website.

Support The Troops Propaganda Is Out Of Control

Just me or is anyone else sickened of the whole “our brave troops serving for us” propaganda coming out of CTV as we head into overtime? What, are we Americans now? And is CTV Fox News?

I understand there can be principled differences on NATO involvement in Afghanistan but this military-boosterism is just propaganda from a brain-dead network.

It’s just disgusting. I’m trying to watch a hockey game here.

UPDATE: I am however pleased we beat the U.S. Even though I feel bad for Ryan Miller.

Pick of the Day

As of today — the final day of the Vancouver Winter Olympics — I’ve watched a grand total of three hours of TV coverage. Feb. 18, I was over at a friend’s and saw the last two periods of the Canada vs Switzerland Mens Ice Hockey game, plus some of the stumblebums in the lower tiers of the Men’s Figure Skating (when did they bring in those extended sleeve-glove things anyway? They look gross).

While I haven’t been watching the Olympics, I have been following them a bit. I lament the amount of trash-talking that goes on in sports these days. Good sportsmanship is hard to find in players, fans, coaches and management. So I was never a fan of the “Own the Podium” smack that some Canadian officials and athletes were talking in the run up to the Olympics.

It’s fine to be enthusiastic. But to pull a Joe Namath and guarantee victory … well, that’s pretty brash. And as host country, a tad ill-mannered. Then when our athletes got off to such a brutal start, it made us look pretty foolish in the world’s eyes. Our climate gives us a natural advantage in the Winter Olympics, sure. But we’re still only a nation of 34 million. And there’s some pretty big countries out there that compete and do well in winter sports.

The low point for the Canadian contingent probably came on Feb. 21 when the Canadian Men’s Ice Hockey team lost to the U.S. 5-3. Since then, Canada has performed tremendously. As I write this, Canada sits third in the medal count at 13 gold, 7 silver and 5 bronze, ahead of countries like Russia, Norway, Korea, France and China, and behind only the United States (9 gold-14 silver-13 bronze) and Germany (10-12-7).

And after getting off to a shaky start due to the tragic death of a Georgian luger in a training run, technical glitches at the opening ceremony, some unseasonably warm weather and early street protests against all the political and economic bullshit that unfortunately accompanies the Olympics now, Vancouver and the rest of Canada have drawn rave reviews for the party we’ve hosted.

That leaves one more bit of unfinished business. It won’t be an easy task. But since getting beat by the U.S. on Feb. 21 the Canadian Men’s Ice Hockey team has looked pretty strong. But the Americans, after squeaking by a tenacious Swiss squad 2-0 in the quarter-final, have also looked impressive. In Friday’s semi-final, they spanked Finland 6-1. If U.S. goalie Ryan Miller stands on his head, as he’s perfectly capable of doing, the U.S. will be tough to beat. If Canada can get to him, though, the gold should be theirs.

Game time is 2 p.m.

Saturday Morning Cartoon

Lotte Reiniger was a brilliant German animator. Her style consisted of taking black silhouette cut-outs and animating them. Her first short film was made in 1919 and in 1926 she made one of the earliest full length animated movies – The Adventures of Prince Achmed (It’s actually the third full length animated movie ever made but the first two are currently considered lost).

BFI has just released an awesome collection of her short films. It’s a shame that it’s only available in England but for those folks out there who have all region capabilities, this DVD is quite the treat.

Here are some examples of her work.

Lotte Reiniger: Cinderella

Lotte Reiniger: Hansel and Gretel

Here’s a making of feature showing Reiniger at work.

Art of Lotte Reiniger

Comment Poo (Updated Again!)

A heads up: Dog Blog’s comments seem to be screwed. People post comments and they’re not appearing. I have no idea why or how to fix it. But we’re on it.

If you have any suggestions to fix this, please write a comment. (Ha! You can’t!)

UPDATE: So it looks like there’s a default setting somewhere that says we have to approve comments. I can approve them but I can’t change the setting to automatic approval. We’ll get this fixed as soon as possible.

UPDATE 2: They work! Open fire! Comment away!

Review of WhyRobotsMakeBetterLovers

Interactivity is a tough nut for a critic to crack. Generally, within the limits of our subjectivity, we strive to be neutral observers. When we check something out, we can’t help but to see it through our own eyes. Sit ten critics of diverse backgrounds (age, gender, ethnic origin, sexual orientation, etc) down in front of an art work, and guaranteed the analysis and interpretation that they offer will have unique aspects to it. Occasionally, you might even wonder if they’d seen the same painting, play, movie, or whatever.

Sometimes, the insight the critic provides is valuable. Other times, they totally miss the boat. Regardless, it’s a cardinal rule of criticism that while everyone is entitled to their opinion, a critic never interferes with the art. I could go all quatum physics here and talk about Schrodinger’s famous thought-experiment of putting a cat in a sealed box with a flask of poison. If an atom decays, the cat dies, if one doesn’t, the cat remains alive.

Under quatum mechanics, the statistical probability of both outcomes is the same. Therefore, the cat is regarded as being both dead and alive. The only way that the paradox can be solved is through direct observation. Copenhagen model, many-worlds interpretation, yada-yada. Bottom line is that by acting to look in the box the observer becomes “entangled” with the cat.

Say I’m a theatre critic. I go to a play, and half-way through I start chucking golf balls at the actors. That would kind of taint the review I subsequently wrote, wouldn’t it?

That’s an extreme example. But with a performance that’s designed to be interactive a critic — normally a neutral observer — is afforded an opportunity to impact on what happens. Impact too much, and at what point does a critic cross the line and become a co-creator? And if there’s a second cardinal rule of criticism, it’s that it’s impossible for a critic to critically engage with their own work.

I entered the space tonight the same as everyone else. Standing in line in the hallway outside the Globe’s main stage where Tuesdays With Morrie was playing. We were let in in small groups, where we got a brief welcome to acquaint us with the ground rules … dark a lot of the time, if one of the performers directs you a bit do as they say, and don’t fall off the riser in the corner. Otherwise, feel free to do what you want.

I immediately separated myself from everyone else and sought throughout to be as detached as possible. In the program, the performers Johanna Bundon, Lee Henderson and Barbara Pallomina speak collectively of a childhood memory, pre-PowerPoint, of being enlisted by the teacher in class to run the film-strip projector.

Operating the projector, they observed, the student became “a functionary of the machine. To advance the story for the rest of us. To respond when the machine requested advancement.”

Not exactly a positive take on technology. Yet without technology, what would WhyRobotsMakeBetterLovers have been like? It didn’t start until 8 p.m. At this time of the year, as we are painfully aware, the Sun has set by then. Without electric light, the darkness would have been unrelenting.

Some of the lights used in the space, along with most of the furniture, was vintage technology. There was even an old record player spinning an LP. Yet the sound board that was as futuristic as they come. So overall, there did seem to be a bit of a love-hate relationship with technology.

Most of us can probably relate. And the pace of change is only going to accelerate. That’s a concern because, biologically, there’s no way that we can evolve fast enough to cope. We live in a nuclear age. But we have Stone Age brains. Not a good combination. Are we masters of technology. Or is technology our master? We hope the former, but fear the latter.

 That’s kind of the vibe I got watching the performance, anyway. And while the performers did do a reasonable job of utilizing the space, and of shepherding the audience around, the 25 or so people who were there were still very much that — an audience.

 At one point, an old fashioned dial phone began ringing in the corner. After a few rings, it might have been nice if someone had shown the initiative to walk over and answer it. As it was, Pallamino finally directed a woman to do so.

 So many rules in our society. So many taboos.

Pick of the Day

 

Final night of the Mid-Winter Blues Festival. Tonight’s gig at Casino Regina features headliner Omar & the Howlers. If you’re looking for a bit of background, you can check out a preview in the Feb. 25 on-line version of Planet S.

Also on tonight are gigs by Royal Red Brigade at the Club (see James Brotheridge’s preview in the Feb. 25 print and on-line versions of prairie dog), plus a heavy metal blow-out with Shadows Fall (pictured), Bison bc, Goatwhore and Baptized By Blood at the Distrikt. Brotheridge also did a preview of in our Feb. 25 issue of Bison BC if you feel like checking it out.. Finally, at Gabbo’s tonight there’s another instalment in the new Comedy Grind series hosted by Shaun Hall.

Pick of the Day

 

So, I’m off to see WhyRobotsMakeBetterLovers at the Globe Theatre tonight. It’s previewed, in somewhat amorphous terms, in our Feb. 25 print and on-line editions. I use the word amorphous because when I spoke with two of the three participating artists (Johanna Bundon and Lee Henderson) they were still in the early stages of putting the finishing touches on the performance. Plus, as I note in the preview, WhyRobotsMakeBetterLovers has a component of structured improv to it, with the artists (Barbara Pallamino is the third performer) drawing inspiration from the audience. Each night, the audience is different. So each night, the performance is different. I’ll post a short review of the piece tomorrow.

Also on tonight is the second evening of the Mid-Winter Blues Festival. Tonight’s gig is at the Royal Sask Museum, and features headliner Sonny Landreth. For info on him check out pp. 18 of the Feb. 25 Planet S on our website. Also on tonight, the Winnipeg ska/punk band Subcity is at O’Hanlon’s Pub.

We’re Not Just Online

 

Some troublemaking dame poses with the latest 'dog.

It’s true! We have a print edition! It’s out now and available at around 400 locations city-wide (but not government-run liquor boards, which we were kicked out of a couple years ago, or the goverment-run Casino Regina, which we were kicked out of last year, or public areas in the government-run STC depot, which we were also kicked out of last year.)

Six In The Morning

 

Your daily Dog Blog a.m. news round up. Today’s episode is brought to you by the letters J, X and the number seven. 

1 WE WERE JUST SAYING, YOU GUYS After 55 EA contracts were not renewed, there were reports that Saskatchewan’s government was planning massive cuts to educational assistant jobs–from over 3,000 to around 800. Nope, says Minister Ken Krawetz. Just the regular government doing its job and exploring options thing. (CBC)

2 THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN OUR TEAM AND THEIR TEAM When UN climate experts make mistakes there’s an independent review. When climate liars get facts wrong and take money from oil-funded think tanks, uhhh, wait. Does anything happen to them? (Guardian)

3 MEANWHILE IN CANADA Maxime Bernier, who you may remember as the the guy who leaves secret documents at his biker-moll girlfriend’s house, says climate change worries are over-rated (Globe And Mail). A (translated) quote from the letter Bernier sent to La Presse newspaper: “It would certainly be irresponsible to spend billions of dollars and impose exaggeratedly severe regulations to solve a problem whose gravity we’re still far from discerning.” This is of course factually wrong (Guardian) and I can’t see how he’s not either 1.) an idiot and a dangerous fool or  2.) a sleazy, lying energy industry stooge. But anyway. He’s way off message here. But the Tory bloggers apparently love him for saying this. And that means trouble for Stephen Harper. (Globe And Mail)

4 MEANWHILE IN REALITY An iceberg the size of Luxemborg broke off a south pole glacier today. Could disrupt ocean currents apparently. But we don’t need currents. That’s all socialist elitist science-talk. (Reuters)

5 IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: Some recent news that didn’t get blogged: another beauty queen contestant is against gay marriage because God said the gays are abominations who will die (Salon), the state of Utah is about to criminalize miscarriages (Jezebel.com) and a Christian politician introduced a bill to ban abortions in Florida (Tallahassee.com).

6 NO BRIDGET, MY SISTER IS NOT CRAZY She really did see a big, weird, green light swooshing through the early morning Winnpeg sky yesterday. (Winnipeg Free Press)

Better Twitter and Longer!

The prairie dog isn’t the only one to get their Twitter password phished.

If you’re on Twitter, you’ve probably received a message along the lines of “i’ve been having better sex and longer with this here” in the past day or so. Hell, you may have even received it from the prairie dog‘s Twitter account.

Our bad. But, at least we’re in good company, according to the Guardian UK.

Deep Dark Despair

Saskatoon folk-band records song about the closing of Good Time Charlie’s

Saskatoon's Deep Dark Woods
The Deep Dark Woods are releasing a song about the closing of Good Time Charlie's

Some have heard enough talk about the Plains Hotel closing down, as evidenced by this past issue’s Queen City Confidential. But some are still bummed about it, including the Deep Dark Woods. The Saskatoon folkers even wrote a song about the end of Good Time Charlie’s for a CBC competition.

From the Sheaf: “Ryan played there a long time ago,” said drummer and vocalist Lucas Geotz, while waiting by their busted-up tour van in Lethbridge, AB. “I’ve never been there. Chris and Jeff and Ryan went down there right before it closed. And now someone is doing a documentary on the place. They are tearing it down and putting up condos — of course.”

They’re releasing the song on a seven-inch at a March 5 show at Amigo’s in Saskatoon, so you could probably pick up a copy at their Regina show at the Exchange the next night.

You can hear the song, “Charlie’s (Is Coming Down)”, here.

Pick of the Day

            There’s a ton of things happening today actually. First, it’s the opening night of WhyRobotsMakeBetterLovers, the latest offering in the Globe Theatre’s Sandbox Series. It’s previewed in our Feb. 25 issue, and I’ll have a short review on the Friday production on Saturday.

            Also tonight, the three-day Mid-Winter Blues Festival kicks off with a show at the Exchange. Check our music listings for line-up and venue info. And there’s an interesting talk at the George Bothwell Library at 7 p.m. by U of R English prof Jean Hillabold on Erotica & Censorship as part of Freedom to Read Week.

            At nearby Chapters, U of R Geography prof Julia Siemer discusses the challenges of modern demography as part of Coffeehouse Controversies. And U of R History prof Bill Brennan gives a potentially controversial talk on the Regina Riot and the On-to-Ottawa Trek at the RCMP Heritage Centre.

            Do-It-With-Class Young Peoples Theatre has the second night of its musical The Wiz at Conexus Arts Centre. Rik Emmett, Pavlo and Oscar Lopez are at the Casino. Mix Improv is doing a show at Aegean Coast Tea & Coffee. And dope Regina rapper Def 3, recently returned from a series of showcase performances at the Vancouver Olympics, is at O’Hanlon’s Pub.

The Death of Capitalism: Reality sets in

I’m not exactly sure when the realization first struck me.

Perhaps it was when I was stuck in voice-mail hell for the umpteenth time, waiting to talk to a real live human being to resolve a problem, all the while being bombarded with pre-canned propaganda about the company’s commitment to meeting the needs of ME the customer.

Or perhaps it was when I went looking for a pair of gloves in March a couple of years ago, only to be informed that the store was out of them and wouldn’t be getting another shipment from Asia until next fall.

It was certainly well before it became apparent that the Masters of the Universe ™ on Wall Street are nothing more than glorified grifters bellying up to the government trough whenever they mess up.

But it has become apparent to me that, barring substantial reformation, market capitalism as we have all known it for our lifetimes, is as surely broken as Soviet socialism ever was. It’s the early days yet, but I am quite certain that when you privatize gains and publicize losses, refuse to deal with the pernicious effect of corporate lobbying on democracy and generally stick our collective heads in the sand, we’ve got a big problem.

And before I get the predictable flood of comments from Libertarian types claiming “You can’t say capitalism failed, it’s never really been tried,” let me just point out that there were Marxists throughout North America saying “You can’t say socialism failed, it’s never really been tried” long and loud circa  1993.

The truth is that the largest “market” economy in the world is now apparently being run by a banking oligarchy, according to the former IMF chief economist, who says if IMF staff were given the raw numbers with the name of the country redacted, they’d currently be proscribing exactly the same kind of “shock therapy” that’s been long-inflicted on Latin America, Asia and a ton of other places.

Here in western Canada we have, so far, been mercifully spared the worst of this meltdown. We have a small population base, lots of resources and we’re pretty far from banking centres. But make no mistake, we will eventually feel it. And when we do, there’s a pretty good chance that what we’re going to be feeling are the effects of The Death of Capitalism.

Here on TDOC, we’ll be exploring this theme, occasionally engaging in a bit of schadenfreude, and, most importantly, looking for the truth amidst all of the happy talk about how recovery is just around the corner.


Welcome To Prairie Dog Online

Goooooooooood morning Regina! Welcome to prairiedogmag.com, the new Internet home of prairie dog magazine.

If you’re already a reader, you’ll know that prairie dog is a free distribution,  independent bi-weekly published and distributed in Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada.  For 17 years now we’ve published news, opinion, opinion about news and news about opinions, with commentary on everything. We also work hard to interview actual smart, informed people in our stories, which we hear people like.

We also run a lot of arts coverage, with a strong focus on upcoming cultural events–the idea is that people can read our magazine and get some notion about what to go out and see. We write about rock shows and CDs, visual art (including performance art), movies both popular and arty and sometimes books and dance and theatre.

And we print (and now, web-print) reviews of local restaurants, profiles of local people, occasional sports stories and odds ‘n’ ends widgets-and-whatnots to keep things fun.

Basically, we’re neato. And now we’re on the Internet. Hooray!

What else?

This website’s home page features Dog Blog, a regularly-updated blog prairie dog started in December 2008 with news, arts, rants, copious City Hall coverage and links to the notable events going on in a particular day. Expect regular updates.

(You can visit the old dog blog location by clicking here. You have 1,529 posts to get caught up on. Some of them have videos of cats being cute!)

The new prairiedogmag.com will now be the online location of our magazine, with most of the articles from the physical paper and eventually, archives. (We’ll have back issues of the paper posted to the beginning of 2010 as fast as we can get that up and we’ll add more archives over time. )

So I think that’s enough to get us started. Snoop around the website, leave comments on the blog and have fun. It’s what we do.