Saturday, December 31, 2011

156 Lines About 26 Letters: Your Local 2011 in Review

Now, don't go thinking that I'm making a habit of this or anything, just because I happened to do this sort of thing last year and I happen to be doing it again this year. Entirely coincidental, I assure you!

The following had been intended for a live radio reading, one ultimately scuttled when the University of Manitoba Security Services wouldn't let me into the building. (It would seem that I am vastly more dangerous than I let on, or rather, more dangerous than I had hitherto been aware I was. The Most Dangerous Man in Winnipeg!) So I am afraid that the text version will, once again, have to suffice.

Yes, it's been a big year! It's also been a pretty terrible year. I do have a wee bit of positive personal news to report -- a rarity for me, this year -- but I can save it for the year oncoming; if I'm hoping for it to turn out well, the last thing I should want to do is get 2011 all over it.

But enough preamble! Let us mercifully put the past year behind us, and I do hope you will enjoy:

156 Lines About 26 Letters: Your Local 2011 in Review.


A is for Air Canada personnel,
who consider our downtown a circle of Hell
uninhabitable owing to its defacement
by (cough) "rural Manitobans" in "displacement".
Despite our best efforts, the airline, still nervous,
left almost as rudely as its usual service.

B is for Bedbugs, now widely freeloading,
and B is for Byfuglien drunkenly Boating.
B for the By-election all forgot here,
B for the Beethoven movie that shot here,
and B for the Beer you might get stabbed for buying;
nothing but Bad news in the B's, I'm implying.

C is for Christ the King School, which purported
to Crusade against fetuses being aborted
by offering school Credits for students to protest,
because Catholic guilt is what solves women's woes best.
In the ensuing outcry these plans were soon ceased,
Principal David Hood shortly after released.

D is for the former Discreet Boutique,
its exit uncharacteristically meek.
Panhandlers were blamed for its closure so speedy
(even by smut standards our downtown is seedy);
as Air Canada left, it joined the procession,
the better part of valour being discretion.

E is for Eadie's curse-laden intensity
and peculiar definition of density,
sounding F-sharps at his coworkers' gall
in approving a fourplex he liked not at all.
His message to progress, unflinching and hard:
"Not In My (foul language redacted) Backyard".

The aforementioned F had an awful year too;
a Fifty-man melee broke out at the Zoo.
Firebombs and Flooding ate up the whole summer,
Pat Martin's F-bombs rendered everything dumber,
Fort Richmond was declared the new Gaza Strip --
suffice it to say, F has been a bad trip.

G is for Garbage, subject to more fees
despite claims of maintaining a properties freeze;
our Mayor, who'd vowed to lock tax rates in place,
renamed this a "levy" to try and save face
but the upshot is still paying fifty bucks more,
for really the same services as before.

H is for Hours, less than a half dozen
between the implementation and discuzzin'
of Justin Swandel's morning fever-dream fares,
proving of "due diligence" that no one cares,
as it passed in Council by that afternoon --
twenty-five more cents for each transit ride soon.

I for Infrastructure, not up to code
with its hundred-year-old water pipes that explode
nor its one-fifth of roads marked as Poor and so grave
that the City declared they're too damaged to save.
Yes, our leaders gave up; you will, too, when I fill y'in
that our Infrastructure deficit's now four billion.

J is for Jets, our civic vindication;
fifteen years of obscurity and frustration
absolved in an instant, ignore though we might
that they're still just the Thrashers and still sort of bite.
Our feel-good story of the year, even still;
a .500 hockey team, soaked in goodwill.

K is for Keys to the City, and KISS;
them being together proves something's amiss
when the list for our civilian honour most high
is to, one, be famous, and, two, be nearby.
Shallow, yes, and small-time, but this too shall pass;
we're convinced leeching this fame will make us world-class.

L is for Leadership, or what's left of it;
two parties were forced to take that job and shove it.
Tory Hugh McFadyen resigned in disgrace,
having gained no ground after five years in the race,
and the Liberal Gerrard leaves his party in care
of, well, we don't know; nobody else is there.

M for "Manitoba Time", which was sent
around without explanation of what it meant --
then when the public universally panned it,
its ad wizards said we just don't understand it.
"The campaign will make it make sense", we were told,
an outcome that still remains yet to unfold.

N for the New annual record we've set,
38 homicides with time left over yet;
it's hard to pin down any one single cause
for this rampant disregard of homicide laws.
The comforting advice you're bound to hear stated
is, don't worry, mostly they're premeditated.

O is for Osborne, a neighbourhood changin';
like Santa's reindeer the big chains are arrangin'.
On, Subway! On, Safeway! On, Burger King, too!
On, Shoppers Drug Mart and A & W!
Of American Apparel as well it's composed --
but not Movie Village. That's about to be closed.

P is for Pipestone, out where they sell smokes
without collecting taxes -- a fine deal these folks
put together to provoke a Native rights scandal,
one thus far the province prefers not to handle.
Smokers seem unconcerned that the law has no part in
selling cigarettes at fourty bucks a carton.

Q is for Question, the one they'd been hopin'
to answer with "yes, 2013 we'll open" --
but government sources of funding have dried,
and the Holodomor still remains a divide.
So what is our Museum's opening range?
For now, 2014. (Subject to change.)

R is for Russ Wyatt's valiant crusade
when a store in his ward didn't have enough shade.
Yon evil Wal-Mart he rebuked when he said
that he'd counted their six trees, two of them dead.
So the next time you doubt Council's usefulness, please
think of how hard they work as they count all those trees.

S is for Signage, most often quite passive,
but one sign downtown was so bright and so massive
it hassled the neighbours and frightened the birds,
blotting out the sun with its brightly lit words
until City Hall ordered it be taken down --
though of course you will note that the sign's still aroun'.

T is for Terminals, both old and new,
though one left the other with nothing to do.
Such abandonment we were all shocked to discover
(somehow, since the Airports are next to each other)
and an alternate use we must now seek to find--
oh, wait, we can knock it down? Good! Never mind.

U is for Urine at sporting events,
brought up as a topic by some malcontents
forced to wait in lineups as washrooms were brimmin',
complaining of having "to line up like women".
So trough demands spent two days in our headlines,
as a helpful reminder that we're out of our min's.

V is for Violent crime, in which we lead --
it's nice to have something in which we succeed --
and while it may seem a most tempting mistake
to fret about a title we can't seem to shake,
no one else seems worried; it's well understood
that we now have a hockey team, so, hey, we're good.

W is for the Waste treatment plants,
and around a billion litres of pollu-tants
only partially treated when they were released
into rivers where flooding had only just ceased.
So, figuring what our reactions would be,
they spent a month keeping this in secrecy.

X is the mark that you make on a vote,
or you would if you did, but it's clear that you don't;
voter turnout decline has become so accurs-ed,
even Gail Asper rapping has failed to reverse it.
'Ere the tally of school trustee ballots be noted:
fourty-three thousand eligible, three thousand voted.

Y is for "Yurt"; no one knew what it meant
(it turned out it's some sort of exotic tent)
but then brave Occupiers brought social reform
by laying tents, then leaving for somewhere warm.
That camp now lays broken, its movement inert,
but we'll always hold fond memories of their Yurt.

And Z is for Zilch, which is to say none,
the number of Grey Cups we seem to have won
in two decades, despite our occasional prank
of reaching the big game and proceeding to tank.
The parade plans yet again we're forced to shelve,
not holding our breaths for this year twenty-twelve.


See you in the New Year!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Manitoba Links Weekly: We'd Like to Wish You All the Best, From All of Us (ManLinkWeek 11)

Well, hello there! I trust that you all enjoyed a pleasant and comforting holiday season, one filled with tidings of good cheer and with goodwill to all men. Oh, me? Yeah, I was driving down Osborne on Christmas Eve and a guy sideswiped my car. So, y'know. Fun.

But, let us not dwell on that little bit of unpleasantness; let us instead reflect calmly upon the week and the season, with a suitably festive and relaxed ManLinkWeek.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Slurpees and Murder Record Club: Leise Rieselt Der Schnee

The WIPs Year-End Special I'd previously mentioned didn't quite pan out, owing to some scheduling difficulties, but since it would have overlapped with the public hearing for the controversial Osborne Village Shoppers proposal I sort of doubt anybody noticed anyway. (Pundit-wrangler Tessa Vanderhart was embedded at the event and live-tweeted it on @internetpundits, if you'd wondered what the ambiance there was like.)

I had dragged out, dusted off and digitized a seasonally appropriate local album from the ol' record collection to use for musical interludes, and since the whole Christmas season will be over in three days I figure I should share it with you folks while it still makes sense:

The Winnipeg Mennonite Children's Choir (1973)
[website | history | founder bio | I couldn't find anywhere that sells this album, so you'll just have to make do with this ]

I hope you don't mind a few clicks and pops here and there; I did what I could to clean the audio quality up, but the age of the item and the condition I found it in only allow for so many miracles to be worked. (There's one particularly unsettling warble in "Il Est Ne Le Divin Enfant" that I couldn't shake -- but, hey, maybe you like your Christmas music a little creepy.)

The tri-lingual fourty-voice choir was founded in 1957, this particular album recorded inside the Westminster United Church in 1973. I dig the song selection variety on this record; there are a some songs on here that you really don't hear very often any more, and many of the songs that tend to be overplayed this time of year are freshened up here by a switch into German.

(I'll be honest; I straight-up despise most of the standard Christmas repertoire, and it's not like it ever changes.)

I know I tend to overexplain when I post these, so I'll keep the highlights brief. "Alleluia, Sing FOR Joy" -- that's exactly how it's written on the album label, I don't know why -- is badass in its own curious way for a Christmas piece. "The Virgin Mary Had A Baby Boy" gets a surprisingly funky rendition, although a lot of that stems from the organ's effort. "The Sleigh" is less than a minute long, but dang if I don't enjoy every bit of it; I'd probably like all Christmas music a lot more if it involved this kind of urgency. I never quite know what to make of "Huron Indian Carol", but it's done as well here as it's done anywhere. And I really wish the audio quality were better on "Kling Gloekchen", because the two-part harmony in the first half of the song is really quite nice.

I rather doubt I'll be posting again before Christmas, so, Merry Christmas! And Happy Holidays, and everything else that applies this time of year. Only three more sleeps until Boxing Day, Winnipeg!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Manitoba Links Weekly: Popcorn, Publishing, Portage la Prairie Punk, and Pilfered Parrots (ManLinkWeek 10)

Tomorrow's edition of Winnipeg Internet Pundits will be a two-hour Christmas special, airing from 4:30 to 6:30 PM on UMFM 101.5. There will be retrospectives, musical interludes, the year's best segments, reflection on the past and future of our city, and even -- I'm not sure why I'm presenting this like it'll be a selling point -- brand new poetry. So tune in!

Ah, but first things first. ManLinkWeek hits double digits! Let's see what seasonal items are floating around out there in the big wide worl--

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Manitoba Links Weekly: Parcels, Pest Control, Parking, and Plates (ManLinkWeek 9)

ManLinkWeek, engage!

[Urban Compass (Metro Winnipeg): City services are no bargain]
In today's top story, we hate everything. Surprise! All of the people you re-elected last year have continued to disappoint you.

[The Crime Scene: An (inconclusive) answer to a question that’s always plagued me]
The Winnipeg Police Service and the Manitoba Royal Canadian Mounted Police formally instituted a special warrant squad -- officially the "Manitoba Integrated Warrant Apprehension Unit", which must make answering the phones a real joy -- back in September. And just yesterday the WPS and Manitoba RCMP were pleased to announce that, in those three months since its inception, the MIWAU has successfully arrested over one hundred and fifty loose fugitives and cleared two hundred and twenty-three warrants from the system! This unprecedented progress knocks the number of outstanding warrants down to a paltry... to a mere, uh... twenty thousand warrants remaining. Give or take a couple, here and there, I mean.

James Turner notes here that the 20,000 estimate is basically unchanged in the last five years, which is actually sort of encouraging when you think about it; we left it alone for half a decade and it didn't get any worse? Around here, man, that's basically a victory. And at the current rate of progress with the new Manitoba Integrated Warrant Apprehension Unit -- consisting of six officers and run at an annual cost of $700,000 -- we'll have our backlog of justice cleared out within the next... let me check the ol' calc.exe here... oh, twenty-two and a half years.

Now, this whole endeavour may seem like a massive exercise in futility when you read cases like this one, wherein an elaborate four-year investigation results in a single-year jail sentence, but hey! It's... it's better than nothing, and that counts for something. Am I right, guys?

[Cindy Titus: Thinking of giving a cat as a Christmas gift? Here are some things to consider.]
An acceptable Cliff's Notes answer to this setup question is the word "DON'T", written as largely as possible and then circled ten or fifteen times for emphasis. Because, augh, just please don't do that. It won't end nearly as well as you hope it will.

[Love me, love my Winnipeg: Postmaster]
No real secret -- online shipping charges from the United States to Canada are more often than not, and not to put too fine a point on this, overwhelmingly stupid. "Oh no, wait, you're slightly north of an imaginary line. You will need another FIFTY DOLLARS. And your dollar will be worth five cents less than today's actual exchange rate, for mysterious and entirely unexplained reasons." So here are a few helpful tips on cross-border parcel pickup, if you don't mind a bit of driving or if you tend to drop into the States anyway.

And speaking of driving:

[Manitoba Public Insurance: Registration > Winnipeg Jets Licence Plates]
You will note from the collection of media links here that this, like everything else even tangentially related to our new hockey team, is being covered far more comprehensively than any of our fair city's actual legitimate news stories. Of course.

One thing that particularly caught my eye was the endnote of this Metro Winnipeg article, stating that the reports of stolen Blue Bomber plates were most likely apocryphal because nobody seemed to order any replacements after the fact. I'm curious about that, though; you'll recall, during that summer media flurry of stolen plate reports, that MPI spokesman Brian Smiley told reporters said plates were almost all gone. So if you read that MPI had no more fancy plates, and then somebody stole your fancy plates, would you ask MPI for more fancy plates? I wouldn't rule out that the whole furor was overblown, but I also wouldn't rule out that people were stealing the plates, so... hard to come down conclusively either way, really.

I can tell you this, for sure: my original reaction to the "Fuelled by Passion" slogan remains unchanged, that reaction being "ugh" and a hasty transition to anything else I can find.


[RetroWinnipeg YouTube: Winnipeg - Poulin's Pest Control jingle]
I've mentioned this backburner idea of mine to a couple of people before, but if I ever manage to get my hands on a MIDI-capable keyboard and some free time, I want to crank out just the loungiest, Richard-Cheese-iest Winnipeg tribute album ever. Wouldn't that be a hoot? Just ambush the internet one day with a free EP specially designed for dimming the lights, getting bombed on whatever's closest to champagne in the liquor cabinet, and reminiscing with jazz reimaginings of our most peculiar local 'hits'.

"Porrrrr-taaage Plaaaaace! The face of the ciii-ty is chaaan'-gin'! Hey!"

Anyone? No? Okay, well, it's probably a better idea in theory than in practice, but--anyway, if I ever did go ahead with it, this old-timey favourite would be quite likely to sneak onto it somewhere. And the oncoming ten-digit dialing switchover is likely to kill this standard where it stands, so we may as well enjoy it while we can.

[Anybody Want a Peanut?: Derelict Properties Bylaw?]
The biggest problem with surface parking in this city is that it doesn't decay and fall down on itself, meaning it's the one thing we can't solve by neglect. Just our luck.

So please enjoy this fine blog post about our city's continued toothlessness against bylaw infractions, including a profile of one frequent offender, a comments discussion on wacky Google hits, and then finally a big slam on Zellers out of nowhere. Ha! Zellers.

And that's ManLinkWeek for this Tuesday!

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Manitoba Links Weekly: All Babies Can Change Lanes During the Race (ManLinkWeek 8)

Is it? It is! It's ManLinkWeek!

[The Uniter: The Uniter 30]
Behold the Uniter's second annual showcase of 30 Manitoban noteworthies age 30 or younger, following the success of last year's inaugural installment.

Remember when I busted out a Tom Lehrer quotation about feelings of inadequacy a few weeks ago? Just pretend that I didn't quote it then and that I'm quoting it now instead, because reading this year's list (or last year's, for that matter) is a one-way train ticket to feeling like you've wasted every day of your life to this point. Folks my age or younger are winning multiple gold medals for kayaking, raising tens of thousands of dollars to fight AIDS in Swaziland, building the world's largest spiro-spiro-spirograph, and running for leadership of the federal Official Opposition. I can't even find a hoodie I've misplaced, and that's even when I know for a fact it's in this frigging house somewhere. auggghhhhh

Saturday, December 03, 2011

One Billion Dollars of Debt, Managed by Role Models Like These (or: This is Just How Ross Eadie Makes Friends)

If you listened to the penultimate segment of this past Wednesday's Winnipeg Internet Pundits, you are doubtlessly aware of my unceasing optimism about the City of Winnipeg 2012 Preliminary Capital Budget.

I also wrote this column for Uptown Magazine about the matter, one that speaks for itself rather well, but I'd like to take this time to offer you a couple of quick summaries regardless.

The City of Winnipeg's bargaining position towards the Province of Manitoba, in eleven words:

"This is all your fault. Look what you made me do."

And the Province of Manitoba's bargaining position towards the City of Winnipeg, in just under three minutes:

("You want six dollars for what?")

So this is all very promising, obviously. Why, just take a look at these glowing testimonies from our civic leaders about how well our finances are being handled!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Manitoba Links Weekly: It Scares Us Too (ManLinkWeek 7)

If you'd happened to wonder, here is what Highway 8 looked like on our warmest November 24th in history:

Knowing full well that it's nine degrees out, but still having to try and outrace the sun before it drops at 4:30 PM? Weird feeling, man.

The sandbag walls along southwestern Lake Winnipeg appear to be undisturbed thus far, though, so you know what? I'll take it.

On to ManLinkWeek!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Manitoba Links Weekly: Everything is Terrible, There's Your Local News (ManLinkWeek 6)

We're proud of the ManLinkWeek name!
So proud of its glory and fame

[Markosun's Blog: Winnipeg Blue Bombers fight song circa 1970's]
The continued problem of working around the lyric "We're best in the West" is probably why you don't hear this tune played too often any more, it being a difficult task to squeeze "except for those years when Ottawa fails to support a team, during which time we quote-unquote 'move' to the East for the sake of league parity" into the song structure.

I noted also in listening to it that it sounds to be a newer version of the first song you hear on this album -- meaning I have no idea how old the song actually is, since the excerpts on that album were undated.

I've gleamed from a bit of online inquiry that this particular recording of the track -- very much in the style of the times -- is an arrangement by Canadian big-band director Dal Richards for the 1968 album "Canadian Football Songs", which you can listen to in its entirety here. (96kbps MP3, granted, but c'mon -- what were you expecting, FLAC?)

If you gain nothing else from today's post, at least now you know more about the Blue Bombers' fight song (officially titled "Bombers' Victory March") than you did when you woke up this morning. Also, the Riders' fight song was stolen from Wisconsin. JUST THROWING THAT OUT THERE

[West End Dumplings: Great Winnipeg Stadium Moments: Construction (1953)]
Sunday's CFL Eastern Final also marked the last significant use of Winnipeg Stadium (officially "Canad Inns Stadium" in its final years, but that's all behind us now), triggering the inevitable mental switchover between referring to it as "the current stadium" and referring to it as "the previous stadium". So here's everything you ever wanted to know about the previous stadium but were afraid to ask, more specifically a link to the opening post of (fellow Winnipeg Internet Pundit) Christian Cassidy's eight(!)-part series on the history of the venue.

[David A. Wyatt's All-Time List of Canadian Transit Systems: Winnipeg Transit and Osborne Junction (Confusion Corner)]
Speaking of sweeping historical research initiatives, this page is part of a broader project to profile the evolution of transit systems across the country, which is a crazy impressive scope to behold. I honestly never had any idea that Gladstone School ever actually existed, for how rarely it's mentioned and how long before my time it was demolished. And, wow, few things are as discouraging as realizing that north Pembina looks almost exactly the same as it did fifty years ago. Jump in any time, developers!

[Uptown Magazine: Friends of the... Public Safety Building?]
Last week was hectic enough that I'd even neglected to plug my own column, an oversight I will sheepishly rectify this week. But guys, seriously, we need to figure out what we're doing with this thing; you will get absolutely no sympathy from me if the first I hear about this problem is slightly ahead of the police moving to their new building. How delayed does this really have to be? If we want to save it, let's decide we're saving it; if we want to knock it down, let's make arrangements to knock it down; if we want to sell it, we should be going balls to the wall to find a buyer as we speak. Keep in mind this is a city that has previously listed property with its favourite realtor nine months before council agreed it should be sold, so this whole thing would be long since solved by now if anyone were genuinely interested in getting it done.

[Anybody Want A Peanut?: Winnipeg Police Service Strategic Plan]
The police department's Strategic Plan through 2014 dropped this past Friday, to generally tepid public reaction. This cherenkov post on the matter gets in the best zinger of the week with the printer crack, but also notes as an aside that -- with our continued expansion of land use relative to our teensy population growth rate -- the city is actively losing population density every year.

[Christopher Leo: The price Winnipeg pays for subsidizing new roads]
And we've bankrupted ourselves by building outwards. So there's that. It's going real well, around here.

"Although it is claimed the city can’t afford to fix the old roads, there is always money available for new roads. And that is the nub of the problem."

It doesn't help that our old-ass water pipes are exploding again, either. The best that any of us can hope to do at this point is bombard Justin Swandel with subliminal messaging about consolidating development into the core, so that one morning he'll wake up believing it was his idea and then it'll be official city policy by noon that day.

god, this city

[CookBook Adventures: Bannock Step By Step]
To end on something that doesn't make me want to throttle somebody, here's a helpful tutorial for traditional local fare if you feel like getting your Voyageur on early. The more traditional written recipe is here, but the step-by-step photo tutorial is way more helpful for schlubs like me whose most successful baking attempts were with 40-watt bulbs.

Tune in next time for more ManLinkWeek!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Manitoba Links Weekly: You Must Believe that You're the Champion (ManLinkWeek 5)

I keep meaning to do posts other than these, but in the meantime, let's have ourselves another ManLinkWeek:

[ Winnipeg breaks homicide record with 35th death]
Welp, there it is, then. That's the kind of year it's been, around here, that we'd break the city's previous annual record for homicides by the midpoint of November.

Winnipeg may or may not be officially recrowned as the Murder Capital of Canada next year, owing to the measurement methodology employed on the subject by Statistics Canada, but the balance and the difference between homicide rate and homicide count kind of muddle the whole point. Thunder Bay was considered the Murder Capital for 2010 with a omicide rate of 4.2 homicides per 100,000 people, comparative to Winnipeg's rate of 2.8 homicides per 100,000 people, but the total homicide count in Thunder Bay last year was five. The current Murder Capital of Canada had as many homicides last year as Winnipeg had in one fire this year. It's not been a good year, around here.

My point is this: we like to make a big deal of the comparative numbers each year and each time they're released, but we should probably worry less about how Winnipeg measures nationally and worry more that our city has now recorded more homicides this year than in any other year, in history, ever.

[The View from Seven: Fixing “Under-Educated Manitoba” could help ensure that Jets, Ikea are here to stay]
And we're stupid. So, I mean, things could be going better.

An insightful piece of research and analysis from Kevin McDougald on the benefits of working smarter rather than working harder, which is a continued challenge for a province that has "traditionally been better at producing high school dropouts than scientists".

The article places a particular emphasis on the value of the sciences, but really, I don't think it will come as any particular revelation to the reader that a Science degree makes you vastly more employable and wealthy than an Arts degree will. You can't just get any old degree! I myself have a Double Honours Bachelor's in History and Political Studies and a Master's of Library and Information Science, and this unique combination of education and experience -- credentials earned by over half a decade of hard work, with knowledge and skills forged by years of toil and sacrifice under tens of thousands of dollars of debt -- has brought me what I have today: part-time night work at the Pembina Hotel beer vendor. Just... just go into the sciences, kids, just trust me on this one.

As bad as things may be, of course, there's always a bright side:

"In the 2006 census, we ranked 10th among the 13 provinces and territories in terms of the percentage of 25 to 64 year olds with post-secondary credentials in any form, whether it be a college diploma, university degree or a trades designation.

"Only Saskatchewan, New Brunswick and Nunavut ranked worse."



[The Masks We All Wear: Hackers Anonymous (SkullSpace)]
My doom-and-glooming aside, not all is lost on the regional brainpower front; newly-established local hackerspace SkullSpace Winnipeg celebrated its grand opening earlier this month, and this on-site report from CreComm student Justin Luschinski adds the helpful reminder that picking a lock in real life is far more complicated than Skyrim would have you believe.

There are people around town building fully-functional hovercrafts in their basements, and if you don't think that's awesome, I don't know what to tell you. (To borrow one of my favourite Tom Lehrer quotes: "it's people like that that remind you how little you've accomplished.")

[Sean Carney's Website: How about them Jets, Mr. Speaker?]
This Hansard excerpt isn't the first time that the provincial NDP have invoked our National Hockey League representation in the Legislature, but it is thus far the funniest. I also enjoy that the reaction of Speaker of the House Daryl Reid is basically just "yeah yeah, awright, you made your point, g'wan get out of here."

[Winnipeg Free Press: Santa gets stuck in Winnipeg parade]
What Staff Writer declined to note in this story about the Santa Claus Parade failing to get Santa to The Forks properly is that... I don't think they've ever managed to get Santa to The Forks properly.

I know they couldn't pull it off in 2006, I'm told they couldn't pull it off in 2009, and I remember at least one other year having a mini-flurry of news stories after the fact about the lack of Santa in the Santa Claus parade by the time it got off Main. (Both of our major papers have since completely revamped their web architecture, so the hell if anyone knows where anything is any more.) But what can they do? The Santa at the end is the only Santa allowed in the parade, so he has to have a huge float to instill the necessary presence, but then they can never get it to fit under the bridge. Curse our antiquated civic infrastructure!

[Kijiji Winnipeg: Wanted: Winnipeg Sun - May 18, 1995]
Well, fortunately I carry two copies of that specific issue on my person at all times, so I'm sure I could--no, okay, seriously, what is this.

My favourite detail is the placement stressing that it has to be an "original", like all he can ever find on eBay are the reproductions and it just pisses him off every time. It's also fun to imagine the reasoning behind why it has to be that exact edition, including:

-- copy editor from 1995 still paranoid he left an 'r' off of 'embarrassment' on page six
-- cognitively unable to handle happiness for Jets' return; need depressing old headlines around to feel normal again
-- inherited complete collections of April and June 1995 Winnipeg Suns, and at that point you may as well just fill in the gaps
-- Black-o-rama Reggae Festival coverage especially well done that year
-- through elaborate series of wacky sitcom contrivances, accidentally spilled coffee on attractive neighbour's prized copy of May 18th, 1995 Winnipeg Sun while housesitting
-- contains fascinating article about this new information superhighway thing
-- wife was the Sun Girl for May 18th, 1995; intended divorce court strategy to "expose that bitch" about to backfire spectacularly
-- somebody wants that newspaper because that was the day they were born, and oh god i just realized how old i am jesus christ

[WITCHPOLICE: Time Travel: Various - Ska is Back in Town]
(cached version, if that link isn't working)
We'll close this out on a high note with this vintage little A1 Records compilation; it has a couple of fun tracks on it, but I am linking this almost solely for the free downloadable MP3 of Gregory Kraj's "Champion Reggae" because that song makes pretty well anything better.

"If you want to be a champion! You must believe that you're the champion!"

Next Tuesday, more ManLinkWeek!

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Manitoba Links Weekly: We Got Roads Ahead (ManLinkWeek 4)

I'm still experimenting with post themes and post times for this segment, so let's jump right in with week four:

Very few things in the big wide world warm the cynical cockles of my heart quite like the knowledge -- the very idea -- that Big Sugar and Wide Mouth Mason both have new albums and are touring the country together in the year 2011. The tour rolls through the Walker dammit the Burton Cummings Theatre for the Performing Arts this Thursday (and through The 40 in Brandon tomorrow night, if that's closer for you); I've already bought my ticket, and inner fourteen-year-old me is totally stoked about getting to go to this.

If I had my way -- reference, uh, unintentional -- if I had my way, these guys would staple this list to the wall and then hurl darts at it until they had enough bands together for a great big Can-rock summer tour. Not infeasible! Big Sugar, Wide Mouth Mason, the Watchmen, Econoline Crush and the Tea Party are all currently reunited; the Tragically Hip never actually stopped; Matthew Good was literally just through town yesterday. Somebody throw money at David Usher until Moist emerges, everybody agree to dedicate the tour to Dan Achen, and let's put on the best cross-Canadian tour ever! And, while I'm dreaming, I'd like a rocketship.


[The British North American Blog: Winnipeg street plan driver’s nightmare and developer’s dream]
"Do people complain that we need an underpass at Waverley? Or do they complain that we need to extend the Charleswood Bridge all the way to Bishop Grandin? I bet if you asked a thousand people to choose you would get a thousand 'what a stupid question' looks before being pummelled in the head. Underpass Underpass Underpass."

Following the recent unveiling of the City of Winnipeg's Master Transportation Plan, suffice it to say that nobody's much impressed. (Ditto for the city's short-term transit plans, too.)

[One Man Committee: You can't get there from YWG (at least not directly)]
Remember how everybody had a good laugh when Barry Rempel tried to convince money-savvy Winnipeggers that flying out of Winnipeg was every bit as inexpensive as flying out of Grand Forks? Oh, man, those were good times. (They've since deleted the comments thread on that story, which is really too bad, because dang if the public reactions to that claim weren't amazing.)

But even if Winnipeg could hypothetically close the price gap, through some combined miracles of fare competitions and wildly beneficial exchange rates, this fine Walter Krawec post reminds us that there'd still be the problem of actually getting anywhere efficiently from our airport. Ahh, it's always something, I guess.

Interesting sidenote: the front page of the Grand Forks International Airport website boasts that "GFK is proud be the closest U.S. international airport to Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada." How odd must that proclamation look to anybody from anywhere else?

[Google Maps: Brandon Beer]
You know how it is, sometimes: you find yourself in an unfamiliar locale, and you don't really know where you're going or where anything is, but you have a dire and urgent need of beer. Hey, it happens! So if such a scenario should strike while you're in or around Brandon, this recent geolocational initiative of The Cranky Beer Blogger will have your back.

[Winnipeg Free Press: Gang war hits ticket revenue]
This is a real thing: according to Winnipeg Police Service Chief Keith McCaskill, the police department is $1.4 million short on its financial statement for the year because gang activity and violent crime in the summer meant they couldn't have enough police issuing traffic tickets. The city was very, very much counting on these tickets being issued, having predicated its overall budget on the expectation of continuous traffic revenue, so this unforeseen circumstance -- "reduced resources for traffic-ticket enforcement", the continued inconvenience of having to deploy police officers for crimes rather than infractions -- directly caused a quarter of our civic deficit for the year.

To recap, keeping people safe from violent crime isn't as lucrative as sitting in a van on Bishop Grandin, so the police chief had to go to city council and explain why he doesn't have the money they wanted. Well, we have to have our priorities, after all; what good is public safety if it isn't profitable? What kind of world do we even live in when the new cops we hired aren't paying for themselves? Knowing our city, the solution is obvious: we must hire more cops.

[Love me, love my Winnipeg: One stop shopping?]
The reactionary NIMBYism of Winnipeggers is so overwhelmingly powerful that people don't even want 7-Elevens in their neighbourhood, and that's in a city that prides itself on its Slurpee consumption.

(I'm not entirely sure which section of that last sentence is the worst part.)

But it bears mention that these assorted Slurpee stations, new and old, may also soon become the cheapest and most convenient way to rent (physical copies of) recent DVD releases -- especially since everywhere in town that used to be a Blockbuster location is now either a fitness centre or a "leasing opportunity".

[RetroWinnipeg YouTube: Valu Rent a Car commercial (1984)]
I tell you what: every time I watch this, every single time, the third guy playing the butler cracks me up with his maniacal cartoon villain laughter at the very end. Nothing against David Keam and "You'll find us!", but holy hell, local commercials used to be amazing.

"When you're stars, image is everything!"
"hyeh ha ha ha"

And that's your ManLinkWeek!

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Manitoba Links Weekly: Always So Good for So Litt--[Signal Out of Range] (ManLinkWeek 3)

It's been another big week, so let's open with the most time-sensitive information:

[Information Tsunami: Ambassador Gary Doer, streaming Nov. 1]
If you don't have anything down in your day planner for 10:00 this morning, you are invited to watch a live stream of Premi dammit Ambassador Gary Doer speaking to Creative Communications students at Red River College. What about, I have no idea; it could be "Brain Drain is Awesome: How to Get Out of This Province", for all I know. You know you'd watch that, too, don't pretend like you wouldn't.

I don't know what Doer's itinerary is for the rest of the day, but maybe after the speech he'll drop by the Legislature and it'll be really awkward. That'd be amazing, wouldn't it? Like Selinger stands beside him to shake his hand, starts to lean in for a half-hug, Doer glares at him and shakes his head 'no', and then they just keep shaking hands painstakingly slowly.

if i lapse into longform fanfiction i need you to promise you'll shoot me

[ Player: Winnipeg's air terminal opens (1964) (via West End Dumplings)]
"Modern facilities required by the Air Age are housed in this new, 13-million-dollar terminal project."

Everything old was new, once, so get a load of this: twelve minutes of black and white (!) documentary-slash-promotional footage for our then-new, now-abandoned Airport terminal, with persuasive narration and bursts of swank 1960s production music and everything.

Jump to about 8:45 in for some hilariously baffled patron reactions to the modern art ("It's god-awful." "I don't know what it's... supposed to represent.") and the narrator's chuckling transition of "Whatever your taste in art, it... calls for a drink." Really, just watch the whole thing straight through, it is pretty fantastic.

"Thirteen million dollars is a lot of money... but it's given us something to be proud of. A thing of beauty as well as utility. In a way, I suppose it's also given us a better stake in the future. We'll get used to the modern art in time, I guess."

lol nope

[Urban Compass by Colin Fast (Metro Winnipeg): Welcome to the ’peg: watch your back]
As I'm sure you've noticed several times before, we as a city and as a province distract very, very easily; we are Dug the Talking Dog, and the police helicopter is our squirrel.

Our once and future Policy Frog combines the unveiling of the new Airport and a nearly-simultaneous shooting death on McPhillips to call out our leaders, of all stripes and styles, who prefer "random acts of publicity" to the actual hard and dirty work of pursuing and implementing lasting solutions.

And he's right! Local politicians and authorities will continue in perpetuity to roll out any cynical lipservice they can afford, unless we hold them to account, and the time is now for we the common people to rise up and--SWISS CHALET

[Observations, Reservations, Conversations: Swiss Chalet Now Open in Winnipeg]
I used to date a girl in Ontario whose absolute favourite thing to eat was Swiss Chalet, whose favourite luxury was ordering it online and having thirteen-dollar chicken delivered right to her door, so I am qualified to tell you that affection for Swiss Chalet is not necessarily a regional quirk; it is not necessarily a Winnipeg thing, nor is it necessarily an Ontario thing. Definitely a white people thing, though! White people love Swiss Chalet, oh man, that shit is white people catnip. Hold the little container of that weird sauce near the carpet and they roll over for it, it's great.

John Dobbin -- incidentally a guest on this week's Winnipeg Internet Pundits! -- notes in a later update that "no other post I have written has ever come close to matching Swiss Chalet for traffic", and reports indicate that the store has been consistently slammed since its opening. Between this and our collective civic post-Jets afterglow, there are probably a lot of people figuring we can bring back anything and everything we used to have back in the day; the Occupy Winnipeg encampment will be infiltrated and then eventually overtaken by signs like "WE WANT CONSUMERS DISTRIBUTING" and "BRING BACK GRAPES", assuming this hasn't happened already.

[ Let's get serious for a moment]
For a city that so desperately declares itself 'world-class', holy smokes, are we ever bad at things like wireless hotspots. You can walk around other cities with a Nintendo DS and get better internet access than our computers get here, our town still about a decade behind on the whole idea of it actually being the 21st century.

Remember when our Mayor made a campaign promise to establish a downtown-wide Wi-Fi network? In 2006? It's going real well, so far!

Ahhhh, I shouldn't pick on the guy too much, though; he may be the third least popular Mayor in Canada, but he does have his supporters, like--

[Winnipeg Sun: Who is the real Sam Katz?]
--wait, what

Okay, did Sam Katz stonewall a Sun TV interview request, or what is this? Did Metro Winnipeg land a plum Goldeyes sponsorship deal? Did he run over Laurie Mustard's dog?

Katz is the same Katz he's ever been, the same kind of guy making the same kind of decisions with the same kind of mental processes -- but last year the Sun assured us he was "the mayor Winnipeg needs" who "can be depended upon to keep the city gradually moving forward" and "can also be trusted to keep his word when it comes to freezing property taxes for at least one more year", and now this year they think he's a promise-breaking disappointment scumbag poop.

The headlines within the span of a year have literally -- literally -- gone from "Winnipeg's Caped Crusader" to "Katz, you're no hero". He's the same guy he was before, Sun dudes, I don't know what to tell you.

Okay, seriously, though, what did he do? Did he shoot a cop? He shot a cop, didn't he.

[Upper Deck Blog: Upper Deck Celebrates the Return of the NHL in Winnipeg with a Special Jets Set]
Hockey card collectors, traders and prospectors converging on Winkler Video and Thompson Book Nook? It's more likely than you think!

After all the chaos of uprooting and replanting a hockey franchise, particularly the delays in jersey design and related merchandise, it appears that sports fans will be able to get hockey cards of the Jets in uniform after all. Not of all the Jets, mind you, and not inexpensively; the article mentions buying "select amount of 2011-12 Upper Deck NHL packs" to get three Jets cards, and their declining to specify the amount of packs indicates it'll probably be a fair number of packs.

The front designs of all fifteen cards are included in the link above, and one of the cards in this "special 15-card set of current Jets players" is Mark Scheifele, who was reassigned to the Barrie Colts last week. So, uh... whoops. Is there such a thing as a pre-rookie card?

Mind you, though -- the Phoenix Coyotes have banned pressbox photography after the media kept taking embarrassing shots of the mostly empty arena during games, so I suppose there are worse problems to have than a limited availability of player cards. Right? Right.

So on that cheery note -- see you next time for more ManLinkWeek!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Manitoba Links Weekly: Exploring the Past (ManLinkWeek 2)

By the time you read this I will be in Oak Lake, between Virden and Brandon and far enough away that the grocery store maintains a full selection of Roughriders merchandise. Starting a weekly feature the week before I wouldn't be here was kind of a dumb idea, in retrospect, but I think you'll find plenty to enjoy in these links regardless.

[Community of Oak Lake: Did You Know Oak Lake Centennial Feature]
"Our first Mayor was Robin Hood! Then he drowned, childless, at the age of 45." These and other cheerfully poignant, quietly unsettling small town facts await you!

[Kert Gartner: 1960s Winnipeg Life on 8mm Film]
Oh, wow, this. Local photographer and animator Kert Gartner spent an entire weekend digitally transferring piles and piles of his grandparents' old 8mm reels, and basically it's all amazing, so be prepared to drop some serious viewing time into this and his accompanying YouTube account. The 1969 Winnipeg Santa Claus Parade? Twenty-four minutes of The Pas in 1970? Forty-year-old Red River Ex footage? Bring it on.

[Markosun's Blog: Russian language map of Canada]
This is tremendous by itself -- a little bigger and it would have made terrific desktop wallpaper -- but it's infinitely more fascinating if you're the type to daydream about science fiction or alternate histories. And I would totally buy from a line of "Виннипег" shirts, I won't lie to you and pretend that I wouldn't. (What's the Russian for "One Great City"?)

[winnipegzombies YouTube: Undead Fire Performers (2011 Winnipeg Zombie Walk)]
undead are weak against fire, this is bullshit
The "BRAINS! BRAINS!" chant about three minutes in, taken together with the drum music and the wide circle of people and the sporadic bursts of fire, must have been a real hoot if any passersby were unaware that the Zombie Walk was that night.

[Uptown Magazine: Intra-Winnipeggian Tourism]
Yo, it's my feature, I get self-promotional perks. You ever notice how little we know or hear about the less-discussed neighbourhoods of our fair city? New development is only covered when it happens downtown or in the southern reaches of town, and older neighbourhoods are only mentioned when someone gets shot in them, so entire giant segments of the city are complete mysteries to a lot of people. Everything east of Main or St. Anne's is just the Mint and some French people, and anything north of Portage is just hey guess what you're dead. Alas.

[Twitter: Fake MLCC (likkermart)]
"Get 15 Air Miles when you buy a bottle of Some Wine You Never Heard Of. Limited time only."
"Even though we put up signs about being undrunk, we still want you to get shittttttaaaay!"
"We are pleased to announce we have some new beers. We're just not sure what, or where it is."
If you Twitter-follow one parody account of a Crown Corporation this month, make it the plastic-bottled ersatz publicity machine of our provincial hooch monopoly.

I know I brought this up on Winnipeg Cat last year, but holy shit, get a load of that. Somehow, out of all the links this week, this one just feels like it's the oldest, and at the same time feels like somebody laced the Nutty Club raspberry drops with peyote and then fed them to an Angelfire site.

That's it for this week's installment; I'll be back in town tomorrow afternoon for Winnipeg Internet Pundits, and I'll have more ManLinkWeek for you same time next week!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Crazy Terry's Used Car Capital

So, this news story came up a day or two ago. Wacky, right? Read that again, let that turn of affairs sink into your brain for a minute.

Terry Nelson's reign in Roseau River had its fair share of controversy, Nelson being something of a regionally-renowned shit disturber, but his long and tumultuous Chiefdom came to its conclusion when he was forced out by the First Nation's custom council last month and his permanent replacement elected a week and a half ago.

Terry Nelson isn't the type of guy to let a little thing like impeachment get him down, though; now he's free to pursue his other interests, like... securing a ten-million-dollar line of credit, setting up shop at the outskirts of town, and working with car dealers to shore up a fleet of used vehicles with satellite-tracked immobilizers in them. Hey, career advancement is in the eye of the beholder, right?

So I for one wish him all the best in his future endeavors, and I for one am looking forward to seeing how this all plays out. I can only imagine -- I can only imagine what the television commercials will be like...

Crazy Terry's Used Car Capital on Highway 6 is clearing house all this month, and we're passing the savings on to you!

Bad credit? No credit? No problem! This 1985 Pontiac Parisienne can be yours, for only thirty-nine-ninety-five! Zero per cent financing available, no money down.

I used to argue for treaty rights, but now I'm agreeing to treat you right! This 1994 Chevrolet Cavalier, brown and grey with all its original doors, only fifty-nine-ninety-five!

And, brothers and sisters, it is still the same: the white man wants to control us. Well, control is just what you'll get from this '89 Oldsmobile, a Cutlass Ciera, ninety-nine-ninety-five. And every finance package comes with a gas voucher! This $20 value, absolutely free, all this month at Crazy Terry's Used Car Capital.

Let me tell you, folks, there's only one way to deal with a white man: you either pick up a gun, or you stand between him and his money. But why stand when you can relax in style? This 1992 Buick Roadmaster, original wood paneling, yours for only sixty-nine-ninety-five! And we'll match any competitors' financing offer; I have no intention of letting anyone, Jew or otherwise, give you a better deal.

I used to command roving batallions of armed men, deployed to intimidate my enemies and enforce my rule; now I finance the same trucks they used to drive around in! Like this 1999 Dodge Ram, seventy-nine-ninety-five! Just thinking about it is enough to drive a man kah-razy!

People ask me, they say "Crazy Terry, how is it you can offer these great loan packages that the white man's banks can't?" Well, I'll tell you how! If you miss a payment, we SHUT YOUR CAR DOWN FROM SPACE.

So come on down to Crazy Terry's Used Car Capital! Highway 6 near the Perimeter, one block west of Red Sun Gas Bar. Crazy Terry's Used Car Capital: the best in the business, and you can take that to the bank!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Manitoba Links Weekly: Inaugural Edition (ManLinkWeek 1)

Part of Winnipeg's appeal to me -- and it's likely that I'm at least partially mythologizing this, but humour me -- part of the charm of Winnipeg is its stubborn, scrappy DIY ethic.

It makes perfect sense, given our isolation, that the city and its people developed a mentality of screw-you self-sufficiency; most other similar-sized cities can look to larger nearby urban centres for additional amenities, but when our closest outposts of civilization were six to eight hours away by car or a few days away by horse, folks here kind of figured that they'd be better off setting up what they needed themselves. Universities and trade schools, music labels, transport networks, museums, construction companies, ballet academies, whatever; when something isn't around, and there's no equivalent nearby, we're the sorts of folk who just start doing it ourselves and intend to figure it out as we go along.

These natural urges have been dulled and domesticated somewhat in recent decades by improvements in transportation, by the rise of information technology, and by our gleeful provincial suckling of transfer payments, but even mostly dormant the instinct remains. Want something? Put it together! Bam, problem solved.

Such is the case with this post, today. I'd been thinking recently that it'd be fun to have a regular collection of interesting Winnipeg- and Manitoba-related links -- like these with additional commentary and explanation, like these but locally themed. I thought "Man, someone should do that", and then shortly afterward thought "Oh wait, yeah, I could do that". And here we are!

I figure this'll be a fun experiment as a weekly feature, although I'll then have to figure out what day of the week it works best on. Tuesdays, maybe? Monday would probably be ideal if it weren't already Winnipeg Cat Reader Submissions day, because I'm self-aware enough to know I can't compete with my own cat for reader attention. (Have I already done 87 weeks of that? Wow, where does the time go.) Wednesday could work if it weren't overlapping with Winnipeg Internet Pundits, which provides all its links up-front to begin with and is better for having clever and reasonable people on the show to counterbalance my tomfoolery. Thursday and Friday are less desirable because nobody wants to commit too thoroughly to reading when the weekend is so tantalizingly close, and general blog readership across the board just plummets straight off a cliff on Saturday and Sunday. So, y'know what, let's say Tuesdays for now.

This segment isn't necessarily restricted to blog entries, to intra-Perimeter content, or to the previous week exclusively; there are a lot of awesome local things on the internet from days of yore, so really my modus operandi here is "this is interesting and I hope more people see it". I'm... I'm really not very complicated.

But enough talk! Have at you!

[ Silent Radar Redux, September 2011 (via scruffy the yak)]
The CBC Hockey Night in Canada video editors are incredible wizards, so their use of The Watchmen's "Any Day Now" to herald the Jets' return made my heart grow three sizes that day. (This is still amazing to watch, incidentally.) The Watchmen coincidentally played the Horseshoe Tavern last month, recorded the performance, and subsequently released that recording for free on their website -- and as far as I'm concerned, if you can't enjoy a free hour-and-a-half live album from The Watchmen, we can't be friends any more.

Although I have to confess from a personal standpoint that "Run and Hide" without "Cracked" immediately preceding it just feels... improper, somehow.

[State of the City: Round Three on Crime in Winnipeg, With Pins]
Watching Kelcey versus Grande unfold has been borderline cringeworthy, Stefano Grande serving as the Andy Roddick to Brian Kelcey's Roger Federer, but the fun sidestory here is Kelcey being the Enzo Matrix to Marty Gold's helpful Binomes. "We are helping! We are helping!"

[AutoMattic Transmission: Awkward Phone Call - Content Warning]
"You might want to do something about that" is about as fine a bit of understatement as anyone could offer, given the circumstances. Red River's CreComm program, if nothing else, opens students up to new situations.

[Progressive Winnipeg: Take me to your...uh...leader?]
This article was covered in tremendous detail on today's WIPs (see, this is why I shouldn't be doing these on Wednesdays), but I'll admit to being as guilty as anybody else of offering little enthusiasm for prospective up-and-coming political leaders. Potential solutions, however, elude my grasp; what can leadership hopefuls do to convince the media and the public that theirs is a brand worth following, and how does anybody break through the glass ceiling of boreless political viability? Well, I mean, if we knew that, nobody would be stuck with dudes like Bob Rae.

[West End Dumplings: Brandon's water tower, transit fares and other council bits]
The East End water tower lives! I'm a sucker for free-standing historical artifacts, grain elevators and water towers and whatnot, so I'm glad to hear that Brandon's City Council has reneged on its demolition decision. I don't know what it is about water towers, but I love 'em; I can't picture Winnipeg Beach or Virden without one, and if either of those ever fall down I intend to be distraught for a good couple of weeks.

[ Harvey Smith ~ Winnipeg MB City Councillor for Daniel Mcintyre]
"Mr. Smith looks dreamily across the fluorescent-lit drabness of the city hall cafeteria. 'I guess I like beauty more than anything else. I love hoarfrost on the trees. I like nice things. I love the feel of brick and the smell of flowers. I just don't like ugliness'. And off he trundles, his vivid green tie a splash under the white beard, rumpled cardigan flapping."
what is this, i don't even

[Winnipeg Sun: Rapper busted after bizarre plane brawl]
I say this very rarely -- very, very rarely -- but the absolute undisputed highlight of this story is its comments section. And how do you turn the usually-terrible user comments section of a news story into a cornucopia of accidental comedy? You write a crime story about a local rapper and then the rapper shows up in it to defend himself at length. If you read one news site comments thread this year -- and that's probably a good upper limit, if you value your faith in humanity -- please, please, read this one.

Thank you for reading Manitoba Links Weekly! Watch this space!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Your Vote Doesn't Matter, Party for Sale, and All the Lonely People: A Belated Manitoba General Election 2011 Postscript

When the status quo wins as thoroughly and as decisively as it did in last week's provincial election, the urge to ruminate on it in a timely fashion seems rather less pressing.

Believe me, if there had been any important or immediate ramifications of the 2011 Manitoba General Election, everybody would have been chattering excitedly about them for the past week; there'd have been gripping and engaging dialogue from mainstream and alternative media sources alike, social media sites abuzz with activity with the debate on the future of our fair province doubtlessly capturing the imagination of all. As it stands instead, with an outcome like this, the most that anybody has really been able to muster up about our most recent exercise of democracy is a sarcastic "well, that was worthwhile" and then some dismissive wanking motions.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

A Very Special 40th Manitoba General Election Post (Is... Thataway)

Long time no see! It has been a crazy past month for me, and I refuse to acknowledge that it is October, but we can talk about that later.

Remember last year when we had a civic election and I busted out a Winnipeg Cat extravaganza for it? Well, as you're surely aware, today is the Provincial Election, so my end result was pretty well inevitable:

Feast your eyes upon the Winnipeg Cat 2011 Manitoba Election Special!

It's an even larger post than last year's municipal madhouse, and I do hope you enjoy it; I had to leave a couple gags on the cutting room floor in the interest of equal time, but even so I'm pretty happy with the way it turned out.

Also, get out there and vote! It's as close an election as we ever seem to get around these parts, and even if you aren't sold on any particular party (I know I'm not) you can choose to think of it instead as the rare opportunity to vote against three parties at once. After this (and the St. Vital byelection next month) there won't be another election for a solid few years, so enjoy it while it lasts!

I'd written a column about electoral shenanigans in the most recent Uptown; it isn't required reading for your day's participatory democracy, but I would be pleased if you read it anyway. What should be pre-vote required reading is the excellent, your one-stop destination for all the information you could possibly need on the issues and candidates of your (yes, your!) riding. It also just so happens that one of the site's founders and administrators was interviewed last week on Winnipeg Internet Pundits, so, hey! Not a bad little burst of synergy, there.

(Election days boost my skill stats in self-promotion, maybe. I don't know.)

Happy voting! With any luck, I'll be back around again before you know it.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

I Get to Be Part of the Red River College Creative Communications Blogging Roundtable 2011

That's right! Today allows me the opportunity for a very special one-day-guest-appearance return to the Princess Street Campus Roblin Centre of Red River College; I've been invited to participate in the Kenton Larsen-moderated CreComm Blogging Roundtable, held annually to provide first-year Creative Communications students with valuable advice and wisdom as they set forth to create and maintain their own blogs throughout the year.

The roundtable discussion from 11:00 to noon in the Great-West Lecture Theatre will feature accomplished local notables Erica Glasier, Liz Hover and Alyson Shane, so all of the lucky students in attendance today will be treated to indispensable insights from three talented, professional, dedicated, successful local bloggers. And then I'll be there, too, presumably for balance, Schmucky McCatpicture over here explaining why you should think carefully before including a word like "Murder" in the title of anything you could conceivably otherwise list on a resume one day.

So it should be fun! I expect this'll be the highlight of my week, even above yesterday's star-powered episode of Winnipeg Internet Pundits and above my Uptown Magazine column that somebody will probably be mad at me for once it hits newsstands later today. I have nothing but fond memories of the Princess Str i gotta stop typing that Roblin Centre from my time there, so it'll be a fun trip down memory lane to poke around; heck, if I'm really well-behaved, maybe the fine staff in the Library will even let me do the Word of the Day board again for old time's sake. (But, then, maybe they won't.)

As for you, gentle reader, stay tuned; I should hope I'll have some points to add or follow up on after the fact.

Sunday, September 04, 2011

Slurpees and Murder Record Club: 50 Years and 800 Pounds

Well, hey, long time no see! August was kind of a bust for this site -- perhaps you had noticed -- but hey, if I was going to accidentally take a month off, it made sense that it would be that one. And it was a very nice month, indeed, but all good things must come to an end; the end of the summer has since ambushed our fair province, its sudden comparative cold chasing us all inside whenever we aren't waving sandbags around and hoping the water won't make off with all our stuff.

Yes, the transition into autumn has begun in earnest, and nothing heralds the arrival of dead leaves and early sunsets quite like the observance of Labour Day. The holiday is of course highlighted by its annual Labour Day Classic, the first of two consecutive football games between the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and their hated Saskatchewan Roughrider rivals, and we here at the Slurpees and Murder Record Club are nothing if not dedicated to the journalistic concept of equal time. So! Today's super-special super-sized Labour Day installment will feature two timeworn vinyl selections -- one representing our beloved-until-hockey-arrives Blue Bombers, and one representing the fearsome (if backwards) scourge of the Roughriders.

We begin with a piece of Blue Bomber history, or rather a half-century chunk of it:

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Slurpees and Murder Record Club: Just Go to a Pavilion for a Dream That You Can Share

I wrote this Uptown column, about how awesome hidden talents are (spoiler alert: they're pretty awesome), and I mention it to start this post because I'm dedicated to shameless plugs but also because this is the time of year when you are most likely to find out that people you know around town are secretly really good at things.

That's right: it's Folklorama time! Kicking off with a free Saturday show and then running until the middle of the month, Winnipeg's annual multiculturalism festival -- or, as one of my former professors proclaimed it (and indelibly branded it in my mind), "ethnic zoo" -- will be filling community clubs, curling rinks and high school gymnasiums all across town.

Two weeks of good times! Squabbling amongst your travel group over which pavilion to drive to, buying a wacky imported soda pop because the MLCC never allows any beer more exotic than Corona into the festival, eating whatever the spiciest and/or scariest food is on the menu, and clapping along as strangers do exotic and potentially injurious dances for your entertainment. That, my friends, is an evening well spent, and I look forward to this year's extravaganzas (now with less E. Coli!) with glee.

Are you all ready to get into the Folklorama spirit? You'd better be! Because tonight's installment of the Slurpees and Murder Record Club is a sampling of years past -- way, way past -- with something for everyone and a finale that you won't want to listen to. Er--did I say "listen to"? I meant "miss". A finale you won't want to miss.

I bring you:

Saturday, July 23, 2011

The Newest in Runway Fashion: Winnipeg Jets Logo and Merchandise Unveiled

As has been the theme thus far with the hasty relocation of the former Atlanta Thrashers, the logo of the newly transplanted team has been considerably behind schedule. Not that True North Sports and Entertainment has had much of a choice when they acquired the franchise; the original snags and snafus in the relocation negotiations put the new owners behind the clock on everything, from hiring staff to negotiating with players and from establishing the team name (which only finally happened at the Draft, seemingly reluctantly, time essentially having ran out) to designing the logo and jerseys, iconic elements of any team that are sort of important to have before the start of a season.

The jersey design isn't expected any time soon, nor does it have the urgency of the other puzzle pieces, but the logo was considered an ASAP project; the other 29 teams need a logo so they can print tickets for the season, companies like Electronic Arts and Upper Deck need a logo to produce the League's merchandise, the League needs a logo for its own promotional material, and the team needs a logo because augh did the constant use of the generic NHL shield placeholder just get old really fast.

So there were no signals from the organization that the logo would be forthcoming any time soon -- but the early afternoon saw frantic scrambling amidst the Twitterverse and other pockets of the web today when the news broke that the Winnipeg Jets logo might potentially have been leaked.

Could it be true? Had the internet once again worked its information-gathering magic and flushed out the symbol that would guide our beloved hockey team into its new era? Would this be the first public peek at the iconography sure to launch a million jerseys?

It's coming! It's here! It's--

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Slurpees and Murder Record Club: My Favourite Song That I Can't Identify

I happen to be on Google+ now, if you're into that sort of thing; part of the whole Information Science rigamarole means paying attention to emerging trends in social media, in case a prospective employer considers it the kind of stuff that may be lumped into one's hypothetical job description. So I am now, if nothing else, aware of it -- but the platform is popularly seen as a response to Facebook and Facebook never really ended up being my bag, so I'll have to wait and see how well Google+ grabs me.

Twitter, as you're aware, I dig; it's built around the rapid-fire short-form delivery of information, a helpful skill not otherwise often taught, so I check it fairly frequently to see how people work within its disciplines. But Facebook? Man, my Facebook use is entirely sporadic, as anyone who's tried to contact me through Facebook has long since figured out by now. Facebook only exists in my mind as a way to remind me of folks' birthdays and to keep me updated on adorable baby photos of tiny relatives, which, I mean, I guess that's still pretty good for a website. But its continually rotating air-quotes "Privacy" settings and its gradual, Myspaceian advertising creep are bad enough before you realize that there isn't much to it or on it at this point; most of its clientele only seem to use it now for personality tests, web quizzes, Flash games and copy-paste exercises.


Monday, July 11, 2011

On Slurpees and Stolen Plates

July is clearly not Daily Post Month! But, heck, clearly I deserved a break from all the... all the nothing I do normally right now. (God, I hope somebody hires me.)

So! On to business. We are actually quite unlikely to be the Murder Capital this year, astonishing as that may seem; Edmonton's been having another hell of a year, and you never can count out the two-year reigning champions over in Abbotsford-Mission. But Slurpees? God damn, son, we got Slurpees covered.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Loonies and Toonies Ain't What They Used to Be

I'd mentioned this in passing yesterday, but let's flesh it out a little more today: a dollar store selling its dollar-store things for two dollars is just stupid as all get-out.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Curious Case of the Third-Tier

So that big Longboat Development project downtown was unveiled today. You might have already heard something about that.

200,000 square feet, a 154-room hotel, ground-level retail and restaurant space, five floors of office space, a twenty-story tower and a 450-stall parkade in a project to be built with seventy-five million dollars of private funding. So at the risk of understating the matter somewhat, I'd say, yeah, that sounds pretty good.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Alberta Watches Greyhound Backfire

Same premise, different responses: Greyhound Canada approached the government of a province to tell them that the bus service being provided is bleeding money, threatening that the only way to ensure continuing service across the entire province is for the government to provide Greyhound with annual payouts of several million dollars.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Bullet Points on a Carnival Stabbing

So, this happened. Two people stabbed one person at the Red River Ex, and that is everything we know about it so far because nobody involved wants to talk about it.

A few brief thoughts, if I may:

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Slurpees and Murder Record Club: Summer Recline Mixtape

my feelings for you are complex and confusing so i put a mixtape in your locker

I ended up being kind of busy yesterday, thus missing my post for the day; I'll make a point of sneaking an extra one in somewhere before the month is out, for the sake of retroactively pretending that I said "Daily Post Month" but actually meant "Average Pace of One Post Per Day Month".

But, on to business! So far we've had mixtapes for day and night highway driving, which are all well and good if you've still got about a hundred and twenty kilometers left between where you are and where you need to be. But what if you've got nowhere in particular to be, have no inclination to get out of the city, or just really like lounging around? Well, I do believe I'm about to have you covered.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

All Right, Wye a Lake

Manitoba has a Dominion City, a Crystal City and a Rapid City, and none of them are cities. I always think that's really funny. Aim for the stars, little guys!

Being the outright dork that I am for curious historical tidbits, I've always been a sucker for the stories behind place names. Thinking about it, too, the really interesting thing about names for cities and towns and lakes and rivers and regions and what have you is that -- aside from the occasional secession or revolution or coup that leads to a country renaming itself -- there really aren't many opportunities left to name any of them. Back in the day you got to name something by being the first one to get there; now with satellite technology and post-colonial globalization and everything else, there isn't really anywhere left on the planet that civilization hasn't already found and identified and titled. So if you want to name a place nowadays (most likely to name it after yourself -- yeah, I'm on to you) you either have to aim small, for street signs, or huge, for unexplored sections on other planets. And both are way more difficult than they need to be.

(Though I suppose it's just as well; you don't get to name anything nowadays without lawyers and marketers and focus groups gumming the whole process up. Look how long it's taken to name a hockey team.)

Our famous provincial exception, of course, is lakes; the path to having a Manitoba lake named after you is as straightforward as dying in battle while serving with our country's forces, or being good at hockey. I mean, take your pick. But there is a perfectly valid reason for this willingness to name lakes, and that reason is: we have way too many lakes.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

What We Need Now is a Pabst Blue Hotel

An article in today's Winnipeg Free Press opened with a phrase I strongly disbelieved I would ever see in print:

"A Quebec-based boutique hotel chain, called Groupe Germain, is about to add lustre to Winnipeg's hipster credibility by building a boutique hotel across from the MTS Centre."

To our... to our what?