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Culture

November 16, 2017 01:00 AM

They don’t make them like Harold Pinter anymore, and right now at Lane Community College you can enjoy Pinter’s masterful The Birthday Party, tenderly cooked to a lustrous crackle. This production whizzes by, with direction and performances that fully embrace Pinter’s penchant for the absurd.  

They don’t make them like Harold Pinter anymore, and right now at Lane Community College you can enjoy Pinter’s masterful The Birthday Party, tenderly cooked to a lustrous crackle. This production whizzes by, with direction and performances that fully embrace Pinter’s penchant for the absurd.  

Director Cullen Vance finds the musical score within Pinter’s cadence, his rich, piping hot words, and this taut cast chomps through the proceedings like a tight jazz sextet. 

November 16, 2017 01:00 AM

An appealing mix of reality and imagination in each of Jon Jay Cruson’s paintings reminds me of a bit from the first days of the TV show Saturday Night Live. Father Guido Sarducci, a character on SNL, suggested that a planet just like ours existed on the other side of the sun. We couldn’t see it, of course — because the sun is in the way — but this other planet was just like ours in every way except that people who lived there ate their corn on the cob north-south (up-down) instead of east-west (across). Though this was the only difference, Father Sarducci didn’t want to go to this other planet because he said he was a creature of habit and eating corn north-south would just be too messy. 

An appealing mix of reality and imagination in each of Jon Jay Cruson’s paintings reminds me of a bit from the first days of the TV show Saturday Night Live. Father Guido Sarducci, a character on SNL, suggested that a planet just like ours existed on the other side of the sun. We couldn’t see it, of course — because the sun is in the way — but this other planet was just like ours in every way except that people who lived there ate their corn on the cob north-south (up-down) instead of east-west (across).

November 16, 2017 01:00 AM

Don’t call Hari Kondabolu a political comedian.

“I don’t talk about Democrats and Republicans,” the New Yorker says. “I don’t care so much about the ‘inside the Beltway’ stuff.”

Nevertheless, he has built a career observing and lampooning the American social order. Along with W. Kamau Bell he hosts the feisty podcast Politically Re-Active, and this month Kondabolu’s documentary The Problem with Apu premiers on truTV. 

Don’t call Hari Kondabolu a political comedian.

“I don’t talk about Democrats and Republicans,” the New Yorker says. “I don’t care so much about the ‘inside the Beltway’ stuff.”

Nevertheless, he has built a career observing and lampooning the American social order. Along with W. Kamau Bell he hosts the feisty podcast Politically Re-Active, and this month Kondabolu’s documentary The Problem with Apu premiers on truTV. 

November 9, 2017 01:00 AM

If you’re a Eugene photographer, be forewarned. A visit to Joseph Peila’s current show Annexed might push you out of your comfort zone.

If you’re a Eugene photographer, be forewarned. A visit to Joseph Peila’s current show Annexed might push you out of your comfort zone.

November 9, 2017 01:00 AM

The Oregon Jewish Museum and Center for Holocaust Education moved to its new location in Portland’s Pearl District this summer — taking over the space once held by the Museum of Contemporary Craft.

The OJMCHE is a conglomeration: It houses the Jewish history museum, with an emphasis on discrimination and resistance; a Holocaust resource center; and two art galleries. The second floor contains everything except the art galleries, which are located on the ground floor.

The Oregon Jewish Museum and Center for Holocaust Education moved to its new location in Portland’s Pearl District this summer — taking over the space once held by the Museum of Contemporary Craft.

The OJMCHE is a conglomeration: It houses the Jewish history museum, with an emphasis on discrimination and resistance; a Holocaust resource center; and two art galleries. The second floor contains everything except the art galleries, which are located on the ground floor.

November 9, 2017 01:00 AM

First published in 1969, Ursula K. Le Guin’s feminist sci-fi classic The Left Hand of Darkness tells the story of Genly Ai. Ai is an envoy from the Ekumen, a loose confederation of planets, and he has come to the snowy planet Gethen on a diplomatic mission to persuade the nations of Gethen to join the Ekumen.

First published in 1969, Ursula K. Le Guin’s feminist sci-fi classic The Left Hand of Darkness tells the story of Genly Ai. Ai is an envoy from the Ekumen, a loose confederation of planets, and he has come to the snowy planet Gethen on a diplomatic mission to persuade the nations of Gethen to join the Ekumen.

A semi-musical original adaptation of The Left Hand of Darkness is running through Nov. 12 at the University of Oregon’s Robinson Theatre. The work is directed and adapted by University of Oregon Theatre Arts faculty John Schmor. 

November 9, 2017 01:00 AM

Jordan Harrison’s excellent play, the Pulitzer-nominated Marjorie Prime — now at Oregon Contemporary Theatre under the direction of Willow Norton — tackles the prickly issue of artificial intelligence in much the same way Raymond Carver’s short stories take on the mute pangs of working-class despair — as a sparse domestic drama teetering on an abyss of absence, loss and strangled desire. And, like Carver’s work, Harrison’s play is by turns arid and profound, shot through with a prosaic tedium that barely girds the sadness humming beneath its surface.

Jordan Harrison’s excellent play, the Pulitzer-nominated Marjorie Prime — now at Oregon Contemporary Theatre under the direction of Willow Norton — tackles the prickly issue of artificial intelligence in much the same way Raymond Carver’s short stories take on the mute pangs of working-class despair — as a sparse domestic drama teetering on an abyss of absence, loss and strangled desire. And, like Carver’s work, Harrison’s play is by turns arid and profound, shot through with a prosaic tedium that barely girds the sadness humming beneath its surface.

November 2, 2017 01:00 AM

If you want to feel hope for the future, I recommend interviewing South Eugene High School theater students.

Emma Mowry and Jakobi Luke, both seniors, have been active in theater throughout high school, and are working to bring two shows to the stage this weekend, The Laramie Project, and its sequel, The Laramie Project: Ten Years Later. 

If you want to feel hope for the future, I recommend interviewing South Eugene High School theater students.

Emma Mowry and Jakobi Luke, both seniors, have been active in theater throughout high school, and are working to bring two shows to the stage this weekend, The Laramie Project, and its sequel, The Laramie Project: Ten Years Later. 

“The biggest challenge has been the story — what happened, and sitting with that,” Ten Years Later director Mowry says. “It’s not easy to get into that mindset.” 

October 26, 2017 01:00 AM

If you’re anything like me, you’re always looking for a good and relatively cheap place to eat out for lunch. I’m a millennial — I’ll never afford to buy a house, so I may as well cry about it over some tasty organic avocado toast.

If you’re anything like me, you’re always looking for a good and relatively cheap place to eat out for lunch. I’m a millennial — I’ll never afford to buy a house, so I may as well cry about it over some tasty organic avocado toast.

But because I’m usually broke, that toast better be under $10 — including tip.

One of my favorite lunch spots is Morelos Taqueria — that’s the little taco food cart nestled in the corner of Kesey Square downtown. It’s a convenient walk from my workplace, and the authentic cuisine is always fresh and delicious.

October 26, 2017 01:00 AM

After months of getting out early to harvest the garden bounty and water the vegetable beds, fall is here and I have a little extra time. I’ve used some of it to think about garden planning. 

After months of getting out early to harvest the garden bounty and water the vegetable beds, fall is here and I have a little extra time. I’ve used some of it to think about garden planning. 

I think everyone agrees that a successful vegetable garden requires some planning, especially if space is limited. But I’m an impulsive gardener who can’t abide empty ground. I tend to amend and immediately replant any row or patch that becomes vacant.

October 26, 2017 01:00 AM

Growing up in Soweto township, choreographer and dancer Vincent Mantsoe found strength in the daily rhythm set by the women in his life. 

“My grandmother, my mother, my auntie — I come from a family of sangoma, or traditional healers,” Mantsoe says. “They are the shamans. And their role in South Africa is to heal people — and part of that is dancing.” 

Growing up in Soweto township, choreographer and dancer Vincent Mantsoe found strength in the daily rhythm set by the women in his life. 

“My grandmother, my mother, my auntie — I come from a family of sangoma, or traditional healers,” Mantsoe says. “They are the shamans. And their role in South Africa is to heal people — and part of that is dancing.” 

Mantsoe brings his new work, KonKoriti, based on a song his grandmother used to sing him, to the University of Oregon this weekend.

October 26, 2017 01:00 AM

Back when I first met him, nearly 10 years ago, Isaac Marquez was a painter showing his work in coffee houses and restaurants. He made big, fairly traditional abstracts in those days: the kind you might see in a middle-of-the-road contemporary gallery in Portland, or in the lobby of an upwardly aspiring hotel.

These days Marquez has put down his brushes so he can paint on a much larger canvas. The 43-year-old took over in September as the director of Eugene’s Cultural Services Division. In his new job he oversees a staff of 37 full-time-equivalent positions and a budget of $8 million. He will be responsible for operation of the Hult Center, the Cuthbert Amphitheater and the city’s community events and public art programs.

Back when I first met him, nearly 10 years ago, Isaac Marquez was a painter showing his work in coffee houses and restaurants. He made big, fairly traditional abstracts in those days: the kind you might see in a middle-of-the-road contemporary gallery in Portland, or in the lobby of an upwardly aspiring hotel.

October 19, 2017 01:00 AM

How do you present an antiquated, strictly traditional art form like ballet to an audience whose musical oldies are only 30 years old? Answer: fusion. That’s the M.O. at Ballet Fantastique.

How do you present an antiquated, strictly traditional art form like ballet to an audience whose musical oldies are only 30 years old? Answer: fusion. That’s the M.O. at Ballet Fantastique.

Donna and Hannah Bontrager, a dynamic mother-daughter team, founded Ballet Fantastique and began to choreograph entirely original ballets in the early 2000s. Since then, they have produced more than 65 new performances.

October 19, 2017 01:00 AM

I’m a snob and a sniff and a two-bit dilettante of the lowest rank.

For instance, I once dismissed Stephen King as an immature populist hack whose middlebrow fiction is an affront to all things literary, and I felt that same way about playwright Neil Simon — a sentimental moron whose tweedy Borscht Belt shtick had transformed the grand tradition of romantic comedy into an efflorescence of twee and treacle.

I’m a snob and a sniff and a two-bit dilettante of the lowest rank.

For instance, I once dismissed Stephen King as an immature populist hack whose middlebrow fiction is an affront to all things literary, and I felt that same way about playwright Neil Simon — a sentimental moron whose tweedy Borscht Belt shtick had transformed the grand tradition of romantic comedy into an efflorescence of twee and treacle.

October 12, 2017 01:00 AM

The first time I met photographer Bill Owens was in 1980 in the women’s bathroom. I was 21. We were in the building where I worked, which was at a fashion publication in downtown Los Angeles. It wasn’t out of the ordinary to see a fashion shoot at work — but this wasn’t that.

The first time I met photographer Bill Owens was in 1980 in the women’s bathroom. I was 21. We were in the building where I worked, which was at a fashion publication in downtown Los Angeles. It wasn’t out of the ordinary to see a fashion shoot at work — but this wasn’t that.

Owens was one of a big handful of artists chosen to work on the Los Angeles Documentary Project, and he was at our office to take a photograph for his series on clichés about L.A.

October 12, 2017 01:00 AM

Like so much that descends to us from the rich and fertile period of the late 19th century — Freud, Nietzsche and Marx, to name but the obvious heavies — Robert Louis Stevenson’s gothic novella The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde has entered common parlance, describing an aspect of the human condition, and not a particularly pleasant one.

Like so much that descends to us from the rich and fertile period of the late 19th century — Freud, Nietzsche and Marx, to name but the obvious heavies — Robert Louis Stevenson’s gothic novella The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde has entered common parlance, describing an aspect of the human condition, and not a particularly pleasant one.

October 12, 2017 01:00 AM

If you’re like me, your experience with ballet is limited to The Nutcracker. As such, I associate ballet with incredible athletics, surreal costumes and incomprehensible plotlines.

Halfway through The Nutcracker, I usually get bored. That was not the case with Eugene Ballet’s production of Mowgli, which may have converted me from apathy toward ballet to wonder.

If you’re like me, your experience with ballet is limited to The Nutcracker. As such, I associate ballet with incredible athletics, surreal costumes and incomprehensible plotlines.

Halfway through The Nutcracker, I usually get bored. That was not the case with Eugene Ballet’s production of Mowgli, which may have converted me from apathy toward ballet to wonder.

October 5, 2017 01:00 AM

Photographer David Turner, the former executive director of the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art at the University of Oregon, along with local historian Douglas Card, will talk about Turner’s new book, Along The Long Tom River: Observations from the Past and Present, from 6 to 7:30 pm Tuesday, Oct. 6, at the Eugene Public Library. The book is an illustrated cultural history of Lane County’s Long Tom River, with contributions from several local writers, photographers and historians.

Photographer David Turner, the former executive director of the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art at the University of Oregon, along with local historian Douglas Card, will talk about Turner’s new book, Along The Long Tom River: Observations from the Past and Present, from 6 to 7:30 pm Tuesday, Oct. 6, at the Eugene Public Library. The book is an illustrated cultural history of Lane County’s Long Tom River, with contributions from several local writers, photographers and historians.


What was the process behind the creation of the book? 

September 28, 2017 01:00 AM

Half a century ago in Los Angeles, Jim Tronson was a young architect fresh out of the University of Arizona and seeking his fortune. He landed an apprenticeship with Gruen Associates, one of the biggest architectural firms in the world. Its founder, Victor Gruen, is credited with inventing the shopping mall.

Half a century ago in Los Angeles, Jim Tronson was a young architect fresh out of the University of Arizona and seeking his fortune. He landed an apprenticeship with Gruen Associates, one of the biggest architectural firms in the world. Its founder, Victor Gruen, is credited with inventing the shopping mall.

“I actually saw Victor, once,” says Tronson, a tall man with a shock of white hair who possesses a theatrical intensity that reminds me of Doc Brown in Back to the Future.

September 28, 2017 01:00 AM

Will Eno’s Middletown, playing now at Oregon Contemporary Theatre, is a masterfully written, beautifully produced effort that seeks the extraordinary in the everyday. 

Directed by Tara Wibrew, Middletown is like a metaphysical global positioning system that the playwright uses to orient us to a cosmological map of seemingly ordinary moments.

Will Eno’s Middletown, playing now at Oregon Contemporary Theatre, is a masterfully written, beautifully produced effort that seeks the extraordinary in the everyday. 

Directed by Tara Wibrew, Middletown is like a metaphysical global positioning system that the playwright uses to orient us to a cosmological map of seemingly ordinary moments.

September 28, 2017 01:00 AM

Most gardeners would like to do a little less routine yard maintenance and spend more time being creative, or even relaxing. But the low maintenance garden, while a seductive idea, is not always easy to achieve. 

It’s partly a matter of design decisions and the materials you use. If your starting point is an existing garden, you can make it a bit easier to care for by paying attention to where you spend most of your uncreative time, then eliminating or modifying the features that create the demand.

Most gardeners would like to do a little less routine yard maintenance and spend more time being creative, or even relaxing. But the low maintenance garden, while a seductive idea, is not always easy to achieve. 

It’s partly a matter of design decisions and the materials you use. If your starting point is an existing garden, you can make it a bit easier to care for by paying attention to where you spend most of your uncreative time, then eliminating or modifying the features that create the demand.

September 21, 2017 01:00 AM

Somewhere during the first act of Jesus Christ Superstar — playing now at Actors Cabaret of Eugene — I realize that basically Jesus is every parent who gets kids through the gauntlet of back-to-school. All the extracurricular activities! The Parent Nights! The potlucks! The carpool. It’s just exhausting. 

Act One Jesus is the cooped-up, hen-pecked provider, anointing, healing, hugging — and he’s kind of had it. “There’s too little of me!” he complains. 

Jesus, I feel you. 

Somewhere during the first act of Jesus Christ Superstar — playing now at Actors Cabaret of Eugene — I realize that basically Jesus is every parent who gets kids through the gauntlet of back-to-school. All the extracurricular activities! The Parent Nights! The potlucks! The carpool. It’s just exhausting. 

Act One Jesus is the cooped-up, hen-pecked provider, anointing, healing, hugging — and he’s kind of had it. “There’s too little of me!” he complains. 

Jesus, I feel you. 

September 14, 2017 01:00 AM

On the 15th floor of Eugene’s most decrepit high-rise, I dragged my feet down the hallway littered with pieces of broken tiles and remnants of worn carpet. I stopped outside the door with the pebbled glass bearing the legend “Wine Investigations.”

On the 15th floor of Eugene’s most decrepit high-rise, I dragged my feet down the hallway littered with pieces of broken tiles and remnants of worn carpet. I stopped outside the door with the pebbled glass bearing the legend “Wine Investigations.”

I hate funerals — hope to miss my own — and this felt like a funeral. A month shy of 20 years, Mole and I were shutting down, closing the door, packing the lab gear, turning out the lights.

September 14, 2017 01:00 AM

By day, he’s a teacher at Thurston High School in Springfield — a “giant nerd” in his own words. 

But after work, Will Ritter inhabits a world where solving mysteries requires intimate knowledge of dragons, trolls, ghosts and fairies.

By day, he’s a teacher at Thurston High School in Springfield — a “giant nerd” in his own words. 

But after work, Will Ritter inhabits a world where solving mysteries requires intimate knowledge of dragons, trolls, ghosts and fairies.

Ritter is the author of the New York Times-bestselling Jackaby series of teen mystery novels. The novels chronicle the adventures of the able Abigail Rook, the heroine who is the real focus of the books, as she assists the title character, Det. R.F. Jackaby, in his explorations into the supernatural realm.