Tuesday, December 31, 2013

156 Lines About 26 Letters: Your Local 2013 in Review

This is a thing that I do, sometimes. Once a year, say, give or take. This is a thing that happens.

You and yours have a safe and happy New Year's tonight, and I hope that you will enjoy:

156 Lines About 26 Letters: Your Local 2013 in Review.


A is for Audit, the fire hall brief
that ended both a CAO and a Chief;
though its Arrival took a lengthy vacation,
it blew quite a hole in our Administration.
For how long they'd delayed in hopes we'd forgot it,
one really could not have asked more of the Audit.

B is for Blueprints, doctored when Bought;
in a vast web the home Buyers were caught
when the inspector claiming their plans certified
also went through his own company on the side.
When a conflict of interest inquiry was led,
the inspector in question retired instead.

C is for Centreport, swiftly improving--
just two more years 'til it maybe starts moving!
It straddles two RMs; the Province has banned
the City from simply annexing the land.
In striking a waste plan success was implied,
but they still can't run water on the Rosser side.

D for Delete, as a web owner might;
y'know that "Responsible Winnipeg" site?
A 'grassroots' lobby, council'd later decry it
when its ownership traced back to Katz and Russ Wyatt.
The site's now Deleted -- which is too bad, because
we'll never know what "Another Initiative" was.

E for Employees; the City has many,
but when asked for numbers we can't produce any.
Pressed for an official staffing amount,
Mike Ruta said it'd take two months to count.
Could be in the millions! Could be in the tens!
Awkward for the budgets on which this depen's.

F for Fringe Fest, where this year the plays
most Famously Featured some ass mayonnaise;
each year seems to bring more bizarre escalation
in the struggle for key word-of-mouth motivation.
When scoping out shows, 'tis usually best
to just smile and nod politely at the Fringe Fest.

G is for Gaming Centre; not a casino!
Oh, it may offer blackjack and roulette and Keno
but when First Nations wanted casinos, we'd stated
no more because Winnipeg's too saturated.
True North's 'Gaming Centre', though -- just the right fix!
It's not favouritism, it's just... linguistics.

H is for Harvey, the Smith everpresent,
delighting in making his peers' lives unpleasant
by impishly doling ward allowance treats,
by cheering Joe Chan and by renaming streets.
On t-shirts they print him, in pumpkins they carve he--
most lucky for folks trying to rhyme things with "Harvey".

I for Ignorance of do-gooder whites,
and Infidel Atheist awkward soundbytes;
an IG Field launch that clogged every road,
Inner-city centres left to implode
and that one burst of Swandel wisdom to live by:
"blah blah I me-me I, me-me I I."

J is for Jurors, twelve people in all
who were grabbed around lunchtime at Cityplace mall;
rare statutes allow for sheriffs to so trouble you,
should you be in line at that one A&W.
Only one was needed, so don't be unnerved;
this wasn't how Justice is usually served.

K is for Keyser, who chided the mayor
for bad politics and ethical beha'iour;
despite this, to depose him she found no basis,
largely 'cause Chan filed in all the wrong ways-es.
And with that decision she put down her foot,
rend'ring Joe Chan's case and budget Kaput.

L for the Liberal Leadership race,
marked by internal outrage and disgrace
that a fake Bob Axworthy Twitter should exist;
no one seemed to care, but it hurt, they insist.
When a parody Twitter is the most that folks know,
there's nowhere but up for your party to go.

M for Mayoral, a living Museum
of candidates crowding to make sure you see 'em.
Bowman, Fielding, Havixbeck, Orlikow,
Steeves, Wasylycia-Leis -- and still you know
even more names may yet emerge, in the event
the Mayor's polling stays around twenty percent.

N is for Ninety, our main airport Route,
a most fascinatingly ugly commute
but Nothing, the Commerce Chamber did resolve,
that seven million bucks of fence wouldn't solve!
Their Chamber Way, alas, was proposed in vain,
so we'll still have to see those two blocks of back lane.

O is for Overrun; it's bad advice
to promise a "Guaranteed Maximum Price"
when the claim's accuracy is sorely diminished
by learning the blueprints weren't yet one-third finished.
Our new police HQ still nowhere near done,
thus far it's an $80-million Overrun.

P for the Provincial tax, PST,
a wound self-inflicted by the NDP --
support for the hike perhaps partly impeded
when they couldn't commit to a reason it's needed.
The Public thus far has declared this as folly,
the worst Polling seen by the Party since Pawley.

Q for how Quietly city heads left;
a vanishing Taz left the townsfolk bereft.
We've still no straight answers why Douglas was fired,
or Sheegl paid $240K once "retired";
Winnipeg's elevated to an art
its conspicuous Quiet when top brass depart.

R for Ray Rybachuk, quite the newsmaker;
a Royal-Albert-restaurant-tantrum-taker,
Teasers-chainsawer and associate of hoods,
one day found mysteriously dead in the woods.
His legacy surely will gain second look
should we ever write an Elmore-Leonard-esque book.

S is for Specialty Plates; that's our jam!
With five this year alone, we've been going ham;
one for Goldeyes, one for Fish Futures too,
one that only added "Bienvenue",
one for Curlers, and one for old car buffs.
And look for more next year! These still ain't enuffs.

T is for Target; it's finally here!
That drive to the States always seemed so severe—-
but what's this? Our interest immediately depleted;
CANADIAN prices! Ugh, we feel cheated!
No, sir, this new Target just ain't our scene.
(But it's nice that you folks made this Zellers so clean.)

U is for UFC, Ultimate Fighting;
a pay-per-view coming seemed very exciting
in a place with such loose violence and fashion credos
that sweatpants with TapouT shirts count as tuxedos.
Fans packed the rafters, a full sellout draw,
for what might be the worst card the sport ever saw.

V is the Roman numeral for five
years since Brian Sinclair was last seen alive;
found dead waiting at HSC in '08,
a '13 inquest is an oddly long wait.
And only now they note -- well, isn't that weird! --
their security footage of his death's disappeared.

W, Water, the talk of the town
when the taps began pouring a rainbow of brown --
all hues, tints and shades, a full range of corrosion
from 'lightest of beiges' to 'fecal explosion'.
But if we want people to move here, perhaps
we should be able to offer clear water from taps.

X is the crossing-off of things departed,
a full list won't fit but here's one that I'd started:
Kelekis, Gio's, the Tallest Poppy too,
the Parkade, Arkadash, Boo at the Zoo,
Dalnavert, Paddlewheel, Paddlewheel Queen--
this goes on for twelve lines, but you get what I mean.

Y is for Years, as 140 we turned;
for commemoration the cityfolk Yearned
but our brave leadership instead welcomed the day
by stonewalling quietly 'til it went away.
By 150, perhaps, we might honour our name
with a swelling of pride and not a vague sense of shame.

And Z is for Zombie Walk, this year now laid
to rest if our governments weren't getting paid
for the trouble of people downtown, such a mess --
there's no greater curse in this town than success --
so the route held nary a Zombie in sight,
downtown quite ironically dead on that night.


Happy New Year, everyone!

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Manitoba Links Weekly: A Couple of Interesting Polls and Then Just a Whole Bunch of Drinking and Driving in This Post (ManLinkWeek S02E10)

Hello and welcome to Manitoba Links Weekly!

There was no WIPs this Wednesday, because Wednesday was Christmas. So Merry Christmas! Here's a neat local Christmas album I'd put up earlier in the week, if you'd missed it; you're probably all done with Christmas music for the year, but there's always next year, hey? Always next year.

Deck the halls with ManLinkWeek! Let's open with a pair of fascinating year-end polling results:

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Slurpees and Murder Record Club: Unsurprisingly, Lots of Christ in the St. Mary's Academy Christmas Album (JUBILEE!)

Merry almost-Christmas, listeners, and welcome to the Slurpees and Murder Record Club!

Today's lost local Christmas album is vastly more traditional than our most recent installment; it's more in line with last year's Christmastime entry, though twenty years later and with the jump in recording equipment to match.

So get your stockings and your eggnog and your Christ-love if you're into that, because it's time for:

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Manitoba Links Weekly: We Should Send Thunder Bay a Nice Card, Diabetes as Plot Resolution, More Fights Than Points, and Here is Burton Cummings Performing His "The 8 Days of Christmas" (ManLinkWeek S02E09)

The soulfulness in each and every delivery of "Five pounds of hash~!" makes my heart grow three sizes. And that camerawork! I'm so glad that we live in a world where this exists.

Hello and welcome to Manitoba Links Weekly! We've almost made it all the way through 2013; I'd say "let's enjoy it while it lasts", but this year turned vicious on me in every imaginable way, so honestly let's just kill it as quickly as we can.

This week on Winnipeg Internet Pundits we had some fun with that new Tourism Manitoba slogan -- and some fun flag-related follow-up discussion! -- as well as some looking back on top stories of 2013 and looking forward to top stories of 2014. Oh, and some music! That's a thing I've learned how to do on the soundboard now, swap on the fly from music to talk, it was pretty rad. Fine seasonal discussion, fine seasonal music -- a fine show all around, well worth your ear.

Anyway! No time to waste. ManLinkWeek!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Manitoba Links Weekly: Underwhelming Hockey at Discount Prices, I Think I Missed Dim Sum Day, Boot Scootin' Boogie for Keyboards and Drum Set, and I Don't Smoke But I Own a Cheeky Protest Contraband-Cigarettes Shirt Nonetheless (ManLinkWeek S02E08)

Hello and welcome to Manitoba Links Weekly! My word, time flies these days.

This week on Winnipeg Internet Pundits -- ha, that episode title, though -- this week we went into surprising depth on local store and product gift-shopping recommendations, discussed the merits and drawbacks of the hypothetical Unicity II, and expanded on some particular points of the preliminary civic budget. Including this very fine local blog post, which I heartily recommend you check out. Good times!

Oh! Also earlier this week, I added the 92 CITI-FM compilation "Winnipeg's Rock 'N Roll Christmas, Volume II" to the Slurpees and Murder Record Club; it's a two-decade-old rarity well worth your investigation, so give it a spin or two.

And if this post seems a little shorter than usual, it's because I've driven 2,200 kilometers across nine degrees of latitude in the past three days. Y'know, as one does. Release the ManLinkWeek!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Slurpees and Murder Record Club: Ladies and Gentlemen, Prepare Yourselves for 92 CITI-FM's "Winnipeg's Rock 'N Roll Christmas, Volume II"

Happy holidays, you infidel atheists! Welcome to the Slurpees and Murder Record Club; as we draw closer to Christmas Day, I think it's important that we all collectively take the time to appreciate the seasonally appropriate output of local musicians past and present.

In my last post I'd linked to some suitably seasonal material curated as a Manitoba Music playlist, but what I am about to present to you -- what you are about to hear -- has largely escaped detection until now, and really for the past twenty years or so. An oddity, a rarity, a treasure lost to time; it just so happened that I rescued a copy from a thrift store earlier this year, and it further just so happened that it played in exquisitely fine quality. (Believe me, with cassettes, you can't assume anything.)

Behold as I beheld, friends:


Saturday, December 07, 2013

Manitoba Links Weekly: When Everyone is Essential No One Will Be, December is Inevitably List Month, The Most Winnipeggian Present Imaginable, and Here are the Manitoba PCs Arguing for MORE SPECIALTY LICENCE PLATES (ManLinkWeek S02E07)

Earlier this week I compiled a field guide to Manitoba specialty licence plates, nine of which (NINE of which) have been released and promoted by the governing NDP within the last three years. That dropped on Tuesday; on Thursday, the official opposition Progressive Conservatives circulated a press release to argue that -- wait for it -- MANITOBA NEEDS ANOTHER SPECIALTY PLATE. The orange guys brag about nine specialty plates in three years, the blue guys complain it should be ten specialty plates in three years, and I want to light my ballot on fire. There's your provincial politics update. [ via ]

Hello and welcome to Manitoba Links Weekly! This week on Winnipeg Internet Pundits -- yes it was a full show this week, quiet you -- we discussed the City's preliminary budget, its controversial mandatory-unpaid-leave proposal for non-essential employees (more on that in a second), the continued wave of hypothetical Scott Fielding initiatives, and the death of the Montcalm Hotel so that condos may rise in its place. I have a long and fascinating story about working the front desk of a two-and-a-half-star hotel on Christmas Eve, but I'll save that one as its own special beast for some other time.

Right now, it's time for ManLinkWeek! First things first:

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

A Field Guide to the Specialty Licence Plates of the Province of Manitoba

Well, friends, it has come to this.

Following yesterday's surprise, and yet somehow not altogether surprising, announcement of curling specialty plates -- because of course Manitoba is putting out more specialty licence plates -- I was inspired to put together a helpful and timely little collection of specialty-plate info. Because, really, at the rate they've appeared as late, it's only going to get harder to keep track of them all and keep them all straight in one's head. ("We have how many plates about fish?")

I'm reserving the scope of this guide to specialty plates with visual design changes, which leaves out amateur radio operator plates; in researching this post I learned that they're coordinated across the country, indistinguishable from standard plates except by their character sets, and serve a functional rather than purely aesthetic purpose by relaying the operator's call sign. The More You Know!

Limiting my focus to aesthetic changes that received a full promotional blitz from the Province -- news releases, special press conferences, media coverage, the whole kit 'n' kaboodle -- there have been ten specialty licence plates unveiled in the past decade, and you'll see why that's funny in a second.

Please enjoy this field guide to Manitoba specialty licence plates, in chronological order of first appearance: