Where's the Public Mayoral Candidates Debate?

Word on the street is the only debate between mayoral candidates planned so far will be a Chamber of Commerce sponsored event at the Connexus Arts Centre, October 22 at 7:30 am. I also hear that this will be a breakfast event and to attend you have to pay for the breakfast.

Hope you can make it. I can't. A.) Not sure I can afford the meal ($45 at the door for non members). B.) I have a daytime gig that keeps me from going to stuff like this.

Which isn't to say I'm not glad the CoC has come through with a mayoral debate. I'm happy there'll be a chance for (some) voters to hear from Pat Fiacco, Jim Elliott and Linda White.

But a pay-to-get-in, early-morning-on-a-workday debate is hardly what I'd call public.

And this is an important year for a debate between mayoral candidates.

The way things stand right now, there was no property tax increase last year, some spiff new plans were recently approved for the city, Regina's future is looking pretty bright. Times are good. (Unless you're a renter looking for an apartment, that is.) And that means it could be a tough year to unseat incumbents, especially from the mayor's office.

And yet I've interviewed people and heard grumblings from some other people I've met who aren't so happy with the direction council has taken on some issues. We can congratulate ourselves on how well things are for Regina, sure. But at election time, I'm thinking the mayor should have to answer to some of those grumblings whether Regina's all hunky-dory or not.

And he should have to provide those answers out in the open, at a public forum -- preferably with mics set up for questions from the audience. Hate to get all hokey and earnest by throwing the big "D" word around, but isn't that all part of a healthy democracy?

Certainly, I don't think it should fall to the candidates to organize such a forum. But it sure would be nice if there was some kind of system in place so that a public mayoral candidates forum was automatic, even if there isn't a big hot-button issue that has the city all in a froth. (Wouldn't it be nice if we had a grand, centrally-located rotunda for such an event -- in, say, a revamped public library, maybe? I'm just saying.)

Don't know if that's the kind of thing we can hope to see in a bylaw or something at some point. But in the meantime, I guess we just have to hope that some local group will step up and put something together in the waning days of October.

For the record, I have heard there's a group at the UofR that's considering organizing just such a debate. Hope there is. And if so, let us know.

31 Days of Horror: The Evil Dead

Sam Raimi's Drag Me To Hell is out on DVD today and I was going to write about it but I have already covered it here. So while I was going to avoid the more popular mainstream horror movies that everybody knows - I feel the need to present something from Sam Raimi so his first low budget feature The Evil Dead wins the honour.

Made for $350,000 and released in 1981, The Evil Dead was a low budget masterpiece. Spawning two more sequels - the easy to remember Evil Dead 2: Dead By Dawn and the third film Army of Darkness. Over the top gore and innovative camera work highlight this film series.

For those who have been living under a rock - the story is simple. A group of friends ventures into the woods to stay in a cabin for the weekend. Once they arrive, they find a book - but not just any old book. This is the Book of the Dead. Bound in human flesh, written in blood - the Necronomicon Ex-Mortis. And beside the book is a tape player. And on the tape player is the voice of a professor who found the book and was translating it in his cabin. The Professor then reads aloud the incantations that lie within the book (good thing he recorded it!) - awaking the demonic spirits that lie out in the woods. The demons then start possessing members of the group - one after another.

But not before a good old fashioned tree raping. That's right - a tree rapes somebody. It is as uncomfortable and nasty as it sounds. And they let Sam Raimi direct Spider-Man movies for the kiddies. Bruce Campbell is in the film but his performance is barely noticeable compared to the constant horror that Raimi continually unleashes on the cast. It wasn't until Evil Dead 2 that Campbell became the wisecracking action hero that every nerd knows and quotes.

"Someone's in my fruit cellar! Someone with a fresh soooul! "

While the first is pure horror - Evil Dead 2 (1987) is more of a comedy horror. It mixes the comedy of The Three Stooges with the hyper-kinetic horror of the first movie. It almost plays as a remake rather than a sequel. The story continues with Bruce Campbell - alone in the cabin after the last film still tormented by the demonic forces that were summoned from the first film and then re-summoned by fools playing that damned tape recorder again. Then more cannon fodder shows up and the good times roll. And heads roll. And eyeballs fly. Good times all around.

Army of Darkness was more of action comedy. It departed from the horror roots of the original but because Universal Pictures released the film - more people know it. It's not bad but it's no Evil Dead.

I remember a time where it was nearly impossible to find these movies and ended up paying a pretty penny for the VHS copies. They are quite plentiful now thanks to Anchor Bay and their nearly yearly re-releasing of these films on DVD. Five copies of The Evil Dead and at least four copies of Evil Dead 2 and at least seven editions of the third Evil Dead - Army of Darkness.

Pick of the Day: Collective Soul

In late August 1997, I caught Collective Soul at Edgefest in Saskatoon. I took the bone-rattler up from Regina that morning, then took a shuttle bus to the venue -- which could best be described as a cow pasture situated beside Sask Place (now known as Credit Union Centre) on the outskirts of Toontown.

Headlining the bill was Our Lady Peace. The Tea Party and I Mother Earth also played the main stage, along with a Brit pop trio called Dodgy who totally lived up to their name by being lame. Collective Soul played third last between I Mother Earth and the Tea Party. They're one of those bands that, even when you're not a big fan, when you see them live you recognize practically every song they play. Radio-friendly, yes. But also reasonably competent purveyors of catchy pop rock.

Sitting in the Saskatoon bus terminal the next morning, waiting to catch the 8 a.m. bus back to Regina, I first heard via a radio broadcast that Princess Diana had died the night previous in a Paris car accident. So overall, a pretty memorable gig.

Collective Soul is at Casino Regina tonight. Here's video of them performing their biggest hit "Shine" with the Atlanta Youth Symphony Orchestra. (YouTube)