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Slow down with Donna and Molasses

n97666262433_267.jpgBefore we plunge into the holiday madness, let's slow down, with the tender and funny writing of Donna Caruso, and the charming alt folk of Saskatoon's Slow down Molasses. Or possibly even stop time, by participating in Pretend to be a Time Traveler Day 2010.

Slow Down Molasses is a band that has lovingly been called "the Broken Social Scene of the prairies" by Toronto's Exclaim! Magazine, and CBC Radio 3 host Grant Lawrence says "they have a sound as spacious as Saskatchewan". 

With trombone, lap steel guitar, typewriter and banjo joining the regular rock band instruments on stage, this group fuses an indie-folk aesthetic with alt-country twang and a rock band wall-of-sound.  The result is something very unique.

This eight-member Saskatoon collective has been making music since 2006, and the group feature members of the bands Foam Lake, Jeanette Stewart and the Brodeo, and Slim Pickins, among others.  Tyson McShane leads the band and writes most of the material, but Patrick Schmidt flew in from Halifax especially for this show and he's a featured vocalist on his original tunes, too.

Catch them here in a very homespun video:

1207161173.gifDonna Caruso has been a unique part of the Saskatchewan art scene for more than a quarter-century.

Donna Caruso is the daughter of immigrant Italian parents, who came from southern Italy to settle in the New York/ New Jersey area. Donna was born there in order to be close to her mother.  But as soon as she could, she moved directly from New Jersey to Fort Qu'Appelle, Saskatchewan, and has lived there everafter, raising her two sons, Jason and Elliot. Jason and Elliot are full-grown men now with families of their own.  Donna is truly amazed that her children are so old, while she remains so young.

In 1980, Donna, newly separated from her husband and, raising two children on minimum wage, needed some extra money to pay for fire insurance. She worried and worried. Happily, fate intervened when an ad in the Regina Leader Post caught Donna's eye....a talent competition offered a cash prize....Donna entered and won, paid her fire insurance, and launched a new career.

Donna has worked as a stand up comedian, and a children's performer ever since; she started writing for radio in 1983, her comic skits, songs, and radio plays heard on CBC both locally and nationally. Donna also began writing children's musical comedies in 1987, and has written and toured a new original show each year in the Regina district since then.

She also began writing short stories, which have been read on CBC radio, and which have been published in several literary anthologies.  Donna has won several awards for her work, including an award for Erotic Literature from Prairie Fire Magazine in Manitoba. Her award winning story was entitled, A Woman's Guide To Personal Hygiene. Donna thought it was a funny story, and no one was more surprised than she that it was thought to be so sexy. That , however, should not surprise Donna, as people always seem to be laughing at her.

But, never one to be pigeonholed, Donna also produces  very serious video  documentaries. Working in film and video since 1988, Donna formed her company, Incandescent Films in 1992. Since then she has produced numerous documentaries for broadcast on CBC, BBS, and STV, Vision TV, WTN, the Discovery Channel, and several educational channels across Canada.

Her subject matter is usually people, although she has spent an inordinant amount of time most recently in doing a show about the Swainson's Hawk. But usually it's people......her work including Chasing The Cure (the story of Fort San as a Tuberculosis sanitorium), and profiles of  Saskatchewan seniors such as Alice Jenner and Sr. Yvonne Toucanne. Her 1998 documentary, TOP BRASS, about the Regina Lions Junior Band, won a national award recently at the Can-Pro festival in Toronto.

All that's fine and dandy, but, what everyone really wants to know  first and foremost about Donna Caruso, is that yes, Enrico Caruso IS her uncle.

Donna was supposed read her own work for today's broadcast--But became ill at the time of recording--KJB wants to personally send all herBest wishes and good thoughts to Donna and her family.

About December 8:  Pretend to be a Time Traveler Day 2010 : You must spend the entire day in costume and character. The only rule is that you cannot actually tell anyone that you are a time traveler. Other than that, anything's game.

There are three possible options:   (  As described by Dresden Codak)

1) Utopian/cliché Future - "If the Future did a documentary of the last fifty years, this is how badly the reenactors would dress." Think Star Trek: TNG or the Time Travelers from Hob. Ever see how the society in Futurama sees the 20th century? Run with it. Your job is to dress with moderately anachronistic clothing and speak in slang from varying decades. Here are some good starters:

- Greet people by referring to things that don't yet exist or haven't existed for a long time. Example: "Have you penetrated the atmosphere lately?" "What spectrum will today's broadcast be in?" and "Your king must be a kindly soul!"

- Show extreme ignorance in operating regular technology. Pay phones should be a complete mystery (try placing the receiver in odd places). Chuckle knowingly at cell phones.

2) Dystopian Future - This one offers a little more flexibility. It can be any kind of future from Terminator to Freejack. The important thing to remember is dress like a crazy person with armor. Black spray painted football pads, high tech visors, torn up trenchcoats and maybe even some dirt here or there. Remember, dystopian future travelers are very startled that they've gone back in time. Some starters:

- If you go the "prisoner who's escaped the future" try shaving your head and putting a barcode on the back of your neck. Then stagger around and stare at the sky, as if you've never seen it before.

- Walk up to random people and say "WHAT YEAR IS THIS?" and when they tell you, get quiet and then say "Then there's still time!" and run off.

- Stand in front of a statue (any statue, really), fall to your knees, and yell "NOOOOOOOOO"

- Stare at newspaper headlines and look astonished.

- Take some trinket with you (it can be anything really), hand it to some stranger, along with a phone number and say "In thirty years dial this number. You'll know what to do after that." Then slip away.

3) The Past - This one is more for beginners. Basically dress in period clothing (preferably Victorian era) and stagger around amazed at everything. Since the culture's set in place already, you have more of a template to work off of. Some pointers:

- Airplanes are terrifying. Also, carry on conversations with televisions for a while.

- Discover and become obsessed with one trivial aspect of technology, like automatic grocery doors. Stay there for hours playing with it.

- Be generally terrified of people who are dressed immodestly compared to your era. Tattoos and shorts on women are especially scary.

And that's it. Remember, the only real rule is staying in character and try to fit in. Never directly admit you're a time traveler, and make really, really bad attempts at keeping a low profile. Naturally, the dystopian future has a little more leeway.