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Dear Oregon: You, or rather your drinking habits, are moving up in the world. In last year’s edition of Swizzle, EW reported that, according to the Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC), Oregonians bought Fireball Cinnamon Whiskey more than any other distilled spirit in 2014. 

Clocking in at nearly four hours, University Theatre’s production of Scorched is something of an endurance test, and the stamina it requires is more than just physical. Bloody and unrelenting, the play transports the audience front and center to hell on earth, and its emotional impact is undeniable, like a seizure of post-traumatic stress that won’t let you go.

Late-night bar trivia is only fun if you occasionally know an answer or two. Otherwise you end up quietly resenting your teammates for knowing so much about 1980s sports and leisure. Not that I’m speaking from experience.

So when I heard about Star One, Eugene’s science fiction and fantasy happy hour at Starlight Lounge downtown, I squeaked with delight. The nature of the event varies month to month, but when I attended in February, trivia maven Dr. Seven Phoenix had taken the helm and was orchestrating a killer game of science fiction-themed trivia.

I’m your average straight 42-year-old white guy. Married for a little less than a year (second marriage for both). We have an active sex life and are both GGG. My wife wants to be forcibly fucked — held down and raped. Normally I’d be all over this because I do love me some rough sex. My issue: She told me she was traumatically raped by a man she was dating prior to me. All I know is that it involved a hotel room and him not stopping when she said “no.” So for now, I play along, but I know I’m not taking things as far as she’d like.

We’re all well acquainted with portraits. We’ve all seen da Vinci’s “Mona Lisa,” Johannes Vermeer’s “Girl with a Pearl Earring” and Van Gogh’s self-portrait with bandaged ear. We’ve been subjects in our own portraits, from selfies snapped at wild house parties to those bizarre, neck-cricking high-school IDs. Portraits are displayed in magazine ads, on business cards, in mugshots, passports and newspaper headlines.

What’s up with Springfield?

Rumor has it, Eugene’s scrawny, hardscrabble counterpart is fast becoming a nightlife hotspot. But the streets are dark and empty on Saturday night. There’s nobody around. I barge in on a “supper club” at Claim 52’s The Abbey, where a small flock of clean-cut types gather around a table to sip craft-made half-beers. The folk duo onstage at the Growler Underground almost outnumbers its audience.

It’s kinda depressing.

After college at Jacksonville University in Florida and a four-year enlistment in the Air Force, Kathy Ford headed west in 1976 to Los Angeles where she worked for AT&T, the phone company, and where she met her partner, Jill Winans. The pair escaped the Southern California heat in 1985 when Ford took a job with US West in Seattle, and left the big-city rat race in 1992, when she transferred to US West Wireless in Eugene. Two years later, Winans opened the CatSpa, a boarding kennel for cats. In 10 years of operation, the CatSpa became increasingly involved in animal rescue.

Locked together in a cage during a recent MMA match, heavyweight fighters Jimmy Jennett and Juan Figuerva rip into each other like wild bears. Figuerva punishes Jennett with short inside punches and brain-rattling uppercuts. Jennett slams his knees over and over again into his opponent’s stocky, muscled body.

The sold-out crowd that packed the Chinook Winds Casino in Lincoln City for the fight was on its feet, screaming for blood.

“It was beautiful,” Jennett says, wistfully, the gnarly gash over his right eye still angry and swollen weeks later.

“Wear argyle socks,” the website insisted. Apparently this is a real requirement for those actually competing in the American FootGolf league. Also, this league is a real thing.

Unfortunately, I do not have argyle socks, so I am not eligible to go pro as a FootGolfer.

When the group I was with checked in at RiverRidge Golf Course in Eugene to get a scorecard, we were told that all rules of normal golf apply. I realized then that my somewhat limited golfing experience, consisting mostly of playing miniature golf in late elementary school, may have inadequately prepared me for what I was about to undertake. 

It’s a calm Monday night in Eugene’s Whiteaker neighborhood, but Crux Rock Climbing Gym is packed. Or at least it looks packed. For Crux it’s actually a slow night, with about 30 or so climbers, ranged between middle-school-aged to late 50s, gripping handholds and falling onto thick blue mats. 

Tonight, it looks as though I might be the only newcomer.

As the vernal equinox passes this month, the spring waves of wildflower blooms increase in breadth and vigor. Like the waves crashing on the beach, they are in constant motion yet precisely defined at any instant. Unlike the waves of the ocean, waves of blooming are so slow the human eye cannot detect any motion. Every flower has a slow but steady dance that one must visualize mentally to appreciate its blossoming. This is what makes time-lapse movies of flowers opening so appealing; they give the impression of inexorable actions being speeded up, constantly moving.

Kaden Lipkin, 17, reaches across the foldout table and bro-handshakes his teammate Michael Russell, 18, in the middle of expressing nothing but appreciation for being a part of the water polo club. “I love you guys,” Lipkin says, perfectly summing up the energy at Echo Hollow Pool, which hosts Eugene City Water Polo — a grassroots club geared towards the 18-and-under crowd that wants to kick some ass and be a part of a team.

Fracking is coming to Morocco. Americans might associate the North African country on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea with the black-and-white romance of Casablanca, but Morocco faces some of the same modern environmental issues as we do in the U.S. 

Samira Idllalène is visiting Eugene for 10 days via the Environmental Law Alliance Worldwide to study how to make environmental laws in Morocco more effective and to give a presentation at this weekend’s Public Interest Environmental Law Conference.

EW asked birder Noah Strycker a question we’ve been mulling over: Is birding a sport? In 2015, Stryker set a new world record by seeing almost 60 percent of the known bird species on Earth in a continuous round-the-world trip, traveling through 41 countries on all seven continents.

Defining a sport is like deciding what is or isn’t art: These things are devilishly squishy around the edges. When in doubt, it’s best, I think, to just ask someone if they consider themselves an athlete (or an artist). Sport is a definition of self, like art and so many other things.

Late on a December night in 2014, Sen. John McCain attached a rider to the National Defense Authorization Act, swapping 2,400 acres of federally owned land for 5,300 acres of land owned by Resolution Copper Mining. San Carlos Apache Tribe Councilman Wendsler Nosie, Sr., and his granddaughter Naelyn Pike will be keynote speakers at the Public Interest Environmental Law Conference at the UO this week talking about their efforts to regain the land that is sacred to the San Carlos Apache Tribe and the Yavapai-Apache Nation.

Among the long list of speakers at the University of Oregon’s Public Interest Environmental Law Conference is president and founder of Eugene-based Grape Solar, Ocean Yuan, who’s proven there’s a market for consumer solar panels. 

The Public Interest Environmental Law Conference (PIELC), open to the public, runs March 3-6 at the UO School of Law and features a variety of green-oriented keynote speakers, panels and films.

• ODOT is currently spraying roadsides. Call Tony Kilmer at ODOT District 5 at 744-8080 or call (888) 996-8080 for herbicide application information. Hwy. 99 near Creswell was recently sprayed. Hwy. 101 will soon be sprayed with Aquamix and Milestone for Scotch broom and gorse.

• ODOT sprays chemicals including Rodeo, Accord and Honcho Plus containing glyphosate, Milestone VM Plus containing aminopyralid and triclopyr, Esplanade 200 SC containing indazifam, Payload containing flumioxazin, Escort/Escort XP containing metsulfuron methyl and Dyne-Amic adjuvant. 

Fixing large class sizes in Eugene School District 4J can be like “moving around deck chairs on the Titanic,” 4J School Board Chair Anne Marie Levis said at a Feb. 25 meeting.

Parents, teachers and staff from across the district filled the library at Edison Elementary School last Thursday to discuss class sizes in the 30s at the elementary school level. No clear answers came out of the meeting, although school officials suggested that parents write letters to 4J’s Budget Committee and to the Oregon Legislature. 

Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) issued a civil penalty of $6,451 to Rexius Forest By-Products, Inc. on Feb. 17 for Clean Water Act violations at its Bailey Hill Road facility. Specifically, DEQ penalized Rexius for negligently failing to monitor for arsenic in its stormwater discharges. Rexius can appeal the penalty, pay it or offset it by implementing a “supplemental environmental project.” Examples of such projects include stream restoration and replacement of pavement with rain gardens to improve water quality.

It may come as a surprise to some landlords, renters and even attorneys in Oregon that pet fees have not been permitted by Oregon statutes for the past five or six years. But confusion about the law remains, most likely because Oregon Revised Statutes 90.302 does not actually declare that pet fees are prohibited; rather, the list of “Fees allowed for certain landlord expenses” no longer includes non-refundable pet fees.

The third annual Wordcrafters Conference returns to Eugene this week.

Wordcrafters aims to provide “writers and readers opportunities to strengthen their craft, deepen their connection with literature and share their knowledge with each other and with future generations.” 

The insurance industry won what could be a temporary victory in the short session of the Oregon Legislature when a bill to increase the 29-year-old cap on damages on wrongful death lawsuits died quietly without a Senate vote. Two Lane county senators, Lee Beyer and Chris Edwards, said they would not support the change even though their caucus and governor did support it. The bill had passed the House easily. The present cap on non-economic damages in wrongful death cases is $500,000, passed in 1987 and never adjusted for cost-of-living increases.

• Lane County has a new Spanish language radio station, reportedly the first ever on the local FM dial. KEQB, La Que Buena, began broadcasting Feb. 17 on 97.7 FM. The station is owned by McKenzie River Broadcasting and will serve the “almost 30,000 Latinos in Lane County and more in the surrounding counties,” says Program Director Steve King. McKenzie River Broadcasting also operates KMGE-FM (Mix 94.5), KKNU-FM (New Country 93.3) and KEUG-FM (105.5 Bob FM).

Who’s Who and What’s What in Dance This Month