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August 13, 2007 01:02 PM

Good lord, it's almost Halloween!

OK, no, not really. But it is the day of the first press release from Portland's Pumpkin Patch, home of the five-acre MAiZE. Yes, spelled like that. It's a little silly, but the actual maze is nothing of the sort. At least if you go during the last three weekends in October, when it's haunted. Some friends and I headed out to the maze a couple of years ago and found ourselves giggling hysterically for a good couple of hours while covered in mud (flip-flops are a no-no; I wound up barefoot, my feet getting an accidental mud bath). We got lost, we chatted up monsters, we got the crap scared out of us a couple of times, and we accidentally almost got a monster in trouble (we thought he had a flask). Remember, kids, the maze is as interactive as you make it. Engage the monsters in conversation! Especially the lonely ones near the end. They just aren't appreciated enough.

Oh, yeah: There's also a 30-foot hay pyramid. What?

August 10, 2007 09:39 AM

Good books are not conducive to a proper amout of sleep. Do you hear me, Craig Thompson? I was going to go to bed at a reasonable hour, but then I picked up Blankets and seeing as I was about three-quarters of the way through ... I just kept reading.

And then I couldn't sleep. It's a truly beautiful, heartbreaking, sad, lovely, hopeful book, and it strikes me as an intensely brave work of art, too. Just gorgeous. I also adore Thompson's earlier book, Good-Bye, Chunky Rice, which is one of those things that calls up a very specific memory for me: Sprawling on a blanket in a patch of spring sun in New York's Tompkins Square Park with a pile of comics my friend Toby had lent me. I also read Queen and Country: Operation Broken Ground that day, if memory serves, but it was the story of Chunky Rice, a turtle, and his best friend Dandel that had me sniffling and smiling at the same time. Thompson has a remarkable (though that word is too mellow) knack for the melancholy, the kind of story where change is inevitable, even necessary, but no less painful for that.

But now it's morning, and my coffee cup is empty, and that must mean I've found some interesting reading online, right? Well, sorta. Just a couple of things, really.

• First, something droolworthy: root beer float cupcakes. The same site has recipes for things like pear and bleu cheese cupcakes, which also, not-so-oddly, appeal to me.

• And droolworthy in another way is this set of images from and commentary on the original Oz books at BiblioOdyssey. The site also links to The Wonderful Wizard of Oz online at the Library of Congress, but I'm not clicking on that because, well, I need to do some work today. If only books were still this stunning.

• The Village Voice explores Rudy Giuliani's Five Big Lies about 9/11. I'm sticking this link here despite having not yet read the story, because I think the topic is important (and thus you should read it) and because I want to sit down and read it carefully and in-depth (and thus I don't want to forget about it).

• You realize Stardust opens today, right? And that you should go see it? Walk away from Daddy Day Camp! Don't be tempted by Rush Hour 3!

• If you need more Harry Potter in your life (and honestly, I still do), here are Christopher Hitchens' and Stephen King's takes on the end of the tale. (I confess, I usually can't bear King's Entertainment Weekly column, but I'll give this one a read.)

And with that, dear readers, my need for caffeine has begun to outweigh my love for browsing for more links. These are still pretty ordindary links, from pretty ordinary sources, and I realize that; I've got to get in the swing of things and start finding some funky stuff. Feel free to send in suggestions!

(Also, when I've had more coffee? Links get more commentary.)

August 9, 2007 09:40 AM

Yawwwwwn ... OK, time for more coffee. But first! A few interesting things crossed my Safari tabs this morning as a result of the usual roundup of blogs (apologies to those via whom I found these sites but then didn't credit - I lost track of my tabs. Bad Molly, no cookie! Except for the cookies sitting at our reception area and calling my name, anyway):

• At The Frontal Cortex, Jonah Lehrer discusses "the hedonists inside our head" that urge people to do pleasure-now, pain-later things like sign up for sub-prime mortgages (don't worry; I didn't know what one of those was either, and the article was still interesting). (Via the usual: BoingBoing.)

• On Slashdot, herejackback pulls together a summary of the current fracas going on over at LiveJournal (one of my favorite sites for reading various RSS feeds, but boy, do they have issues). I hesitate to make an attempt at summarizing this one — it's massive and sprawling and getting bigger by the day — but there's a great icon floating about LJ as a direct result of this debate: "LiveJournal: Some terms of service are more equal than others."

• The Frugalist offers 147 Tiny Tips to Live Healthier, Happier, Greener and Better. Well, they offered this back in May, but I just found it and it's always relevant, right?

• Did we mention we have this ballot thing going on? You might have heard of it; it's called Best of Eugene? It's a readers' poll? And WE LIKE IT WHEN YOU VOTE. Once, I mean. Just once. We don't like it when you vote more than once. It's kind of a pain.

August 9, 2007 12:21 PM

From the San Francisco Chronicle comes this utterly brilliant and deeply funny Violet Blue column about Conservative Sexual Fetishes. A tiny, tasty sample:

"Promoting abstinence as a truism over accurate sex information actually acts as a magic golden force field carried by beautiful fairies (the straight kind) to prevent you and everyone who agrees with you from getting HIV/AIDS."

I think I love her. It's a long column, and it's almost this good the whole way through.

August 8, 2007 09:53 AM

Maybe it's a little American-centric of me, but I wish, oh, I wish that when they announce the Booker Prize longlist, they'd, say, tell me which books are published in the U.S., so I don't have to go hunting through the interwebs to try to find them.

How many of these have YOU heard of? And no, having heard of the McEwan doesn't count. You ought to have heard of that one.

Darkmans by Nicola Barker (likely the British ed.; no info)
Self Help by Edward Docx (a "notify me" button at Powell's)
The Gift Of Rain by Tan Twan Eng (likely the British ed.; no info)
The Gathering by Anne Enright
The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid
The Welsh Girl by Peter Ho Davies
Mister Pip by Lloyd Jones (Hey, I have this one!)
Gifted by Nikita Lalwani
On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan
What Was Lost by Catherine O’Flynn (No results at Powell's or Amazon)
Consolation by Michael Redhill
Animal’s People by Indra Sinha (No results at Powell's or Amazon)
Winnie & Wolf by A.N.Wilson

Of course, the books' inclusion on this list means they'll probably get picked up by U.S. publishers — or, if they've already been bought but not released yet, they'll get hurried up on their way to the shelves. Good times.

August 7, 2007 12:43 PM

Via the blog of the awesome Neil Gaiman comes the story of a squirrel after my own heart:

A Finnish squirrel with a sweet tooth heads to a Finnish grocery shop at least twice a day to steal "Kinder Surprise" chocolate-shelled eggs.

Oh, Kindereggs! If only I could get you here, Kindereggs! The toys in these things are wonderful; I've got a paprazzi penguin and I used to have a many-jointed wooden mouse. As Gaiman points out, the strangest thing about this story is that the squirrel doesn't just nab the chocolate; he takes the toys too. What are the Finnish squirrels up to?

August 7, 2007 02:40 PM

Given the number of times this video has been watched (more than 11,000), I'm guessing every Eugenean who cares has already seen it, but still: this is what YouTube is for. Random snippets of three-year-old video involving comedians — one of whom will go on to be famous as an animated rat (Remy Patton Oswalt) — sitting on the patio at High Street, shootin' the shit.

August 6, 2007 11:21 AM

Speaking of bad cops, as Alan recently was, via BoingBoing comes this Yahoo! news story: Bad Thai cops to endure Kitty shame.

"Thai police officers who break rules will be forced to wear hot pink armbands featuring 'Hello Kitty,' the Japanese icon of cute, as a mark of shame, a senior officer said Monday."

Maybe Eugene could try something like this ... maybe a Pokemon? A cute lil' Pikachu? Just to be different, of course. If all the bad cops worldwide are wearing the same cute kitty, they might start to feel solidarity with one another.

August 3, 2007 03:06 PM

Beam development, the Portland firm that has proposed a local-focused historic restoration of the Center Court and Washburne buildings in downtown Eugene has won kudos for a similar project in its home town.
As part of its "Best of Portland" issue, the alternative newspaper Willamette Week praised Beam principal Bradley Malsin’s Central Eastside project as "the epicenter of Portland's radiant future" with the "creative class."
Here’s WW:

Best Nerve Center of Portland's Future
Alberta is to tacos what Mississippi Avenue is to being overrated and the Central Eastside is to being the epicenter of Portland's radiant future. Brad Malsin may have lost his 2005 bid to spearhead the Portland Development Commission's Burnside Bridgehead project, but that hasn't stopped him from developing 300,000 square feet of creative office space right down the street in the old B&O building—all before Opus, the PDC's chosen developer, has managed to lift even a shovelful of dirt. With fashion designers, architects and environmental engineers set to move in, Malsin's tenant roster is a creative class demographer's wet dream. "I want a place where young people and businesses can grow their dreams," he says. Hell, if the city can't do it, send Malsin.

Malsin’s Beam is also in competition with some of the Opus people here. KWG includes people who’ve worked for and with Opus on the Bridgehead and other projects. In Eugene, the city council voted to involve both KWG and Beam in proposed downtown redevelopment involving about $50 million in public subsidies.
City Manager Dennis Taylor said Beam had agreed to work together with KWG, perhaps giving KWG control over choosing tenants for the ground floors.
But Malsin said he’ll keep an independent, community-oriented focus for his project. "We have a different way of seeing the world," he said of KWG. "We don't do the shopping mall kind of deals."
Here’s the EW archive story: http://www.eugeneweekly.com/2007/05/31/news.html
An earlier cover story on the downtown proposals is at: http://www.eugeneweekly.com/2007/04/12/coverstory.html
Here’s a look at what Beam proposed for Eugene’s Center Court:

For those wanting to get involved in the big and expensive decision of what’s best for Eugene’s downtown here’s two public events tonight and tomorrow:

West Broadway Public Information Event
August 3rd Friday 5:30-8:00 pm
Broadway Plaza
(Willamette St & Broadway,

West Broadway Public Workshop
August 4th Saturday 9:00 am - Noon Atrium Lobby, Atrium
Building, 10th Ave & Olive St

For a ton more information from the city’s website surf to:

August 3, 2007 12:04 PM

going to chamber of secrets brb

Y'know, I thought I wasn't getting enough LOLcats via my daily dose of I Can Has Cheezburger. But then I Googled "lolcats." Sure, there's LOLcats.com, but ... I've seen a lot of those, and it's a somewhat unwieldy page.

Enter Flickr. And tags. And (as of right now) 5,858 photos tagged with lolcat. Admittedly, a good number of the best ones are already on ICHC, and some of them just aren't funny (or aren't really LOLcats), but there are plenty to (heh, heh) paw through.

August 3, 2007 11:51 AM

Do you like books? How about movies? Magic? Neil Gaiman? Yes? If not, what's your problem? If so, well, go see Stardust. Obviously I'll elaborate about this in review form soon, but for now, I simply gush. I came up northwards last night for a screening in Tigard (Tigard! When was the last time you had a good reason to go to Tigard?), at which I met up with a Portland-based movie-critic friend, gleefully sat in the media personnel section of the theater, missed my friend Lolly winning a book and giggled ferociously at the best parts of the movie. If only I could do that every week.

Zooming along 217 to 26 is a funny way to arrive in Portland. Miles and miles of suburbs - 'burbs I used to be quite familiar with as an angsty teen when my dad lived in one of them. It all looks the same; it's like a couple of malls bred, and their offspring put down roots and sprawled like, um, sprawly stuff. Or something. It's rather difficult to find interesting words to use when writing about suburban sprawl. But then you hit 26, and after tearing down the hill on which the road's grooves yank at the tires of a smallish car, you're suddenly smack in the middle of Portland. I still mix up my bridges, so it took me awhile to make my way to the Speakeasy, which is one of those perfectly dingy, perfectly welcoming-in-a-slightly-gruff way kinds of bars that Eugene seems to lack. An old man bar, if you will. An old man bar that serves up an Andes mint with your gooey, cheesey quesadilla. Good times, I tell you.

And now: Ikea! I promise to take pictures. Swedish wonderland, ahoy!

August 3, 2007 06:34 PM

Roger Magaña, the Eugene Officer sentenced to 94 years for using his badge to coerce sex from a dozen women, is on YouTube.

The video appears to be about six years old and allegedly shows Magaña illegally entering a house to harass and arrest a bunch of skateboarders, according to the post's description.

An unidentified officer with Magaña "steps in, puts me in a full-nelson, throws me face down onto the cement outside, and puts his knee in my back and handcuffs me," the unidentified poster alleges.

The "fuck the po-lice" video post created some stir with 54,826 views and 326 comments, many criticizing the police and/or debating who was at fault.

In a recent cover story, EW reported on how lawyers for Magaña's victims have accused the city of whitewash for failing to investigate other officers for not stopping Magaña's abuse despite numerous complaints.

An article this month described how EPD was a "recipe for disaster" that lead to the sex scandal and questions whether EPD has reformed.

July 31, 2007 02:05 PM

First I got the new issue of Rolling Stone, which features Guns 'N' Roses on the cover.

Then I got a press release announcing the Black Crowes' upcoming show at the Cuthbert.

Sorry, but did I miss something? Did I wake up in 1990? Should my jeans be tighter and stretchier and my hair a couple feet longer? (The shirt, it will remain black and plain. Some things never change.)

There's a rant to be written here about summer concerts and their tendency to look ever backward, ignoring the current crop of artists — in large part, I suspect, because the somewhat-out-of-date acts aren't charging as much. (It should go without saying that this isn't always true — there are good summer shows; take a peek at the Edgefield's summer lineup. But you don't often see Def Leppard and Foreigner on tour in the winter. The Black Crowes aren't quite at that level of Former Arena Rock Glory, but can you name their last two albums? I don't think so. (Yes, yes, I know, some of you can. But you're in the minority. Sorry)

But anyway. Yeah. 1990. Around there. In case you're wondering, the GNR cover is celebrating the 20th anniversary of Appetite for Destruction's release. How old do you feel now?

July 27, 2007 10:17 AM

If you don't read BoingBoing on a daily basis, you're missing out on all the best internet smartness and randomness. Politics, net stuff, geek stuff, LOLcats (love!), sarcasm, phallic street poles ... and wicked awesome shirts:

All sold out. But I am so getting one, if/when they come back. Threat Level: Doctorow. Yes, plz.

* From time to time, I will take it upon myself to edumacate you normal, non-internet addicted folks on internet grammar. Today's lesson: FTW. This means, in short, For The Win. As in, "Yes! The item/person/thought/theory/slashfic pairing in question has now ruled all others in a One Ring not-in-the-hands-of-evil kind of way!"

OK, I made that part of the definition up myself. Peruse Urban Dictionary for more, if you must. It really does mean for the win, though.