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December 18, 2007 03:11 PM

Should you feel inclined to peruse a more tangible version of our annual Winter Reading issue, you might stop in at the UO Bookstore (yes, I'm still refusing to call it the Duck Store), where this nice little display awaits your browsing fingers and purchasing dollars.

December 14, 2007 11:12 AM

So just yesterday I posted a little thing that mentioned The Tales of Beedle the Bard, the handmade book by Harry Potter creator J.K. Rowling that was sold at auction for nearly $4 million. (For those not keeping up, Tales is referenced in — is in fact quite important to — Harry Potter and the Dealthy Hallows.) All yesterday's news said was that an agent purchased it.

Turns out the real buyer was Amazon.

What does this mean?

It means we get to see it. And look at it. And talk about it.

Three cheers for Amazon, I say.

December 13, 2007 05:14 PM

It amuses me that on the same day we all learned that J. K. Rowling's handmade Tales of Beedle the Bard — one of seven copies — sold for nearly $4 million, I (assuming "we" for the major JKR news and "I" for the little nerdtastic stuff) also learned (via Pitchfolk, of course) about this awesome free compilation of Harry Potter-inspired bands rocking against media consolidation. Rocking Out Against Voldemedia is available as one massive zipped file — which, of course, I'm currently downloading. It's all about the free press, man. Voldemort wouldn't like that. (The website is considerably more eloquent about this than I.)

If you've not yet experienced a wizard rock band or twelve, go find yourself some Harry and the Potters, Draco and the Malfoys, Parselmouths, Remus Lupins ... well, if it's a catchy name in the Potterverse, it's probably a band. For serious. And also it's probably kind of awesome.


December 12, 2007 12:29 PM

Look, I love bad, LOLcat-inspired grammar and spelling as much as the next dork — but in the right time and place. This? Is not the time nor place:

"w00t," an expression of joy coined by online gamers, was crowned word of the year on Tuesday by the publisher of a leading U.S. dictionary.

C'mon, now. Words have letters in them. I extraordinarily dislike the replacement of numbers with letters, and grumble silently at my friends when they blog with such things so as to reduce their chance of being found by search engines. Because obviously if you write out the real name of the restaurant you went to on Saturday, your former BFF whose taste you criticized in the entry is the most likely person to Google the name of the joint and accidentally find you, right?

December 11, 2007 06:47 PM

kicking ass

The mainstream media is jumping up and down with headlines about the kicker Christmas present from the state.

But Oregonians might be kicking themselves rather than kicking their heels in joy if they knew the true cost of the checks.

A recent report from the Oregon Center for Public Policy found:

o Because of cash flow issues, the state will have to borrow money to pay for the kicker checks at an interest cost of about $45 million.

o Mailing the kicker checks will cost about $1 million.

o About 20 percent of the kicker, $214 million of $1.1 billion, will go to D.C. in the form of higher federal income taxes.

o The kicker will go mostly to the wealthy. The top fifth of taxpayers will get nearly two-thirds of the kicker, averaging $2,002, or six times what the typical taxpayer will receive.

o The state may have to slash school, healthcare and other vital services in the future because it didn’t save its surplus kicker money for a rainy day.

December 10, 2007 05:35 PM

So I'm bearing bad news, but I'm happy about doing it: For the Very First Time, someone called to request a blog post (about a timely topic we want our readers to know about, no less). Hey! We have readers! Readers who tell me I have to update more, and I have to post about things other than Heroes! These are legitimate complaints. (I did write that overly long ramble about Chuck Klosterman last week ... but since then my brain's been controlled by Winter Reading. I'm free — well, free-er — soon, I swear!). Man, I love feedback. Especially when it's at least half positive.

Anyway, my happy-making caller was Keith Martin from John Henry's, who was hoping we'd mention that tonight's Chaka Demus show is unfortunately cancelled. Chaka Demus is apparently in a Seattle hospital undergoing blood tests after feeling very unwell. Martin says there's a faint possibility that the should could get rescheduled for later in the week, maybe early on Thursday before ’80s Night, but he won't know that until they find out how Chaka Demus is doing. We wish Mr. Demus the best, and will continue to bring you news as we hear it.

(That was my newscastery sign-off. I won't make a habit of it.)

EDIT: Check the comments for more on Chaka Demus' health. Keith Martin also reports, "Chaka Demus is doing fine, from what I gathered from the road manager it was mainly a case of fatigue so nothing serious. We had hoped to get a make-up show in as an early show on Thursday but they had limited time to do so before flying to their final 2 tour dates in Hawaii and getting him rested up to finish the dates."

December 6, 2007 01:49 PM

The truth is, I first hated Chuck Klosterman. The reason for this is simple: The first piece of his that I read was the Lloyd Dobbler essay that starts Sex, Drugs, and Coca Puffs. The premise is that every woman of a certain age wants Lloyd Dobbler, the sensitive, kickboxing, eminently quotable character played by John Cusack in Say Anything. Lloyd has awesome female friends (including Lili Taylor, whose "Joe Lies" is another of those eminently quotable pre-Vanilla Sky Cameron Crowe creations); guides his love interest, Diane Court (Ione Skye), around broken glass in a mini-market parking lot (spurring an MxPx lyric that goes, "Do you care when I tell you / step around that broken glass?" sung with all the earnestness a Christian pop-punk band from Bremerton can muster, which is considerable); doesn't want to be part of the machine; and, most famously, stands outside Diane's window holding a boom box above his head as Peter Gabriel's "In Your Eyes" plays (and thereby rendering many of us women of a certain age embarrassingly susceptible to this song).

The problem with this essay? My entire response was a big DUH. Duh, Chuck. Everyone knows this. This is so obvious it doesn't merit saying. It embarrasses me to have to read it put into words — by a dude, no less!

I put down the book and didn't pick it back up again. But I read a few Klosterman columns in Spin, and I observed from the sidelines as what seemed like an entire generation of geeks and would-be geeks went cuckoo for Klosterman puffs. I watched, I read a little, I forgot about it. I noticed he had new books. A very trusted friend had told me, ages before, that my secret-metal-past self really ought to read Fargo Rock City, and I still wanted to. Kind of.

But I didn't.

And then, one evening, I mixed up the start time of my writing group with the start time of my nerdy book group and found myself at a friend's house half an hour early. I sat on her leopard print lounge-sofa thing and picked up Killing Yourself to Live from the side table to entertain myself with, thereby staying out of her way.

And that was that. I saw it, all of a sudden: the combination of self-centered semi-charm, wit, cleverness and a willingness to insert himself into things that everyone already knows, thereby making them a little different, that makes Klosterman work. Maybe that doesn't make any sense. But imagine a story that you know that's kind of interesting. Maybe it's about a dead rock star. Isn't it fun to imagine that the story would be even more interesting if you wrote yourself into it, somehow? If you and your relationship problems, alone in a car on a road trip, could perhaps add to the famous story? No, that's not a good explanation either. But Klosterman is Klosterman (TM) because he writes himself into things everyone already knows, and he somehow, mysteriously, makes them more interesting that way. I think.

This is also, of course, why some people don't like Klosterman: They're not interested in him, and you pretty much have to be interested in him to be interested in the way he writes about things.

Eventually I had to put down Killing Yourself to Live and pay attention to my writing group, who had some very helpful things to say about a "story" (in quotes to indicate the fact that it was a very thinly disguised slice of the summer of 2000) that I've not touched since. But I have, since then, read all the Klosterman I could get my hands on. Even Cocoa Puffs. In some places, it was great that I hadn't read him before; for instance, I wouldn't have been able to properly appreciate the story about Phoenix Suns point guard Steve Nash if I hadn't, the year before, very quickly learned to appreciate Steve Nash.

But there's one real reason I fell for the image of Chuck Klosterman he presents in his books, and began to get that weird, sort of ooky feeling like, "I totally get this guy! We should be friends!" True story: I fell for the Klosterman thing because of one sentence. One I should have written down, but in essence, it said that the last few minutes of Guns N' Roses "Rocket Queen" are some of the best rock music minutes ever. Not in those words, but that, if I'm not mistaken, was the sentiment.

This is true. This, to a fan of anything that falls under the rock music umbrella, should be undeniable. You have to wade through the (fake, one hopes) orgasm sounds to get to this part of the song, but then, all of a sudden, like a downpour ending when you step outside, the good part arrives. The pretty part. The sensitive part. The part so sweet it puts "Sweet Child O' Mine" to shame.

And why am I writing about this now? Because over at Esquire.com, Klosterman has a very entertaining column up that examines the kind of music he likes, and whether it says anything about him. It's perceptive and funny, and my favorite line is this: "it appears my dream musical creation would be a white, semigay metal band that features soaring background vocals while battling anorexia." You'l have to read the piece for this to make sense. But you'll also have to listen: Klosterman has thoughtfully provided little clips of the bits of music that he likes best.

I listened to a lot of them, but not all. I'm definitely with him on "Nightswimming" and "Since U Been Gone" and obviously "Rocket Queen," but I strongly dislike both "Dance the Night Away" (especially the backing vocals) and "Layla." But what else would I add to this list? Off the top of my head, without clips:

• The end of Nine Inch Nails' "Hurt," where it builds and builds and builds until destroying itself.

• The beginning of Superchunk's cover of Magnetic Fields' "100,000 Fireflies," as Mac yelps "I have a mandolin / I play it all night long / It makes me want to kill myself!"

• Pretty much everything on the Rushmore soundtrack

• The palm-muted (I think) guitar bits in Jawbreaker's "Chesterfield King," as Blake Schwarzenbach sings "Gave her a dime / and a Chesterfield / She bent down to kiss my cheek / I was scared but it felt sweet." Or really pretty much anytime in a Jawbreaker song where there's a choppy, muted guitar part and Blake's sort of chanting. There should be more Jawbreaker knockoff bands.

• Jon Auer and Ken Stringfellow harmonizing. Period.

• Teenage Fanclub's "Is This Music?" In high school, I thought it was bizarro bagpipes. I'm still not exactly sure what it is.

• OK, I'm going to come back to this, because I'm at work without my CD collection and I want to make this list longer and better and more thorough. Also, to be honest, it needs to have some hair metal in it for sure. But no power ballads!

* You must read this post-colon part of the title as if it's being yelped by cowboy-hat-wearing Jon on the second season of The Real World. It goes something like this: "Tar-ooo stah-oray!"

December 6, 2007 01:55 PM

In a move I both disapprove of (the movie deserves more time!) and understand (there were maybe a dozen people there on Sunday evening!), Regal pulled Todd Haynes' impressive I'm Not There after just a week of showings, rendering my review in this week's paper somewhat, er, after the fact. But only temporarily! The Bijou will be picking up the film, starting showings next Friday, Dec. 14. And you should go see it. Really. You should. It's not perfect, but it's fascinating and deeply discussable; go with friends on a night when you can head to Max's afterwards and sit over pints (or pitchers), talking about the movie at length. That's what it's for. And for that, I love it.

December 3, 2007 12:20 PM

Now that the big development scheme for downtown Eugene has failed, park advocates are talking options. New parks in Chico, California and Vancouver, Washington have reinvigorated those cities' downtowns. Both large parks cost less than a third of the price of just one new downtown parking garage in Eugene.

Here's Chico:

Chico plaza

Here's Vancouver, Washington:

Esther Short

December 3, 2007 11:07 PM

So I dropped the ball more times than I can count but here we are at the stand-in finale-of-the-season-so-far and I've got the laptop on my lap, ready to go. So what you get is a (spoiler-heavy) liveblog of episode 11 which is full of rambling, swearing, ire, small moments of happiness and a handful of questions. Needless to say, it will probably not make any sense unless you watched.

Things, shall we say, are really a mess. Click here for the rambling commentary!

Writing Maya this dumb is almost offensive, it's so idiotic. She can't be that stupid, that susceptible to Sylar's ooh-I'm-bad! delivery. She just can't. She can't be so dumb as to not grab the gun while Sylar was weakened from her X-Files goo of doom. This is aggravating.

Wait, all of a sudden everyone hates Mama Petrelli? What took Matt so long to get to poor, dead Victoria Pratt? Why would they immediately assume that Peter helped kill her?

I hope Elle switches sides on account of her pops being a dick. Three cheers for Me. Bennet and his little bouncy ball!

I am rather sick of Peter believing Adam. I wish he would catch on to the obvious: Hello! Hiro can help you get Caitlin back! Adam? He just bosses you around, and for still rather mysterious reasons. The entire universe knows he wants to release the virus. Is "He saved my brother?" really enough to keep you in his pocket? Can it occur to Peter that Adam saved Nathan just to get on Peter's good side? Why is everyone made of stupid?

Oh, Mr. Bennet. Oh, Elle. I fear Kristen Bell isn't long for this show. Going down fighting daddy. That's my prediction as of 9:20 pm.

By the way, before the Vault of Doom I so expected the Haitian to show up and wipe Adam's brain. How long would it take him to heal from that? Can Claire heal from that?

Please kill Sylar. Please kill Sylar.

Elle's so dead. I would so love it if she killed Sylar, but I'm a bit concerned.


Micah has a rad power AND he's smart about using it. It's rather refeshing.

Buddy cop flying! Totally awesome. Also, FLYING MAN!

West, please stop stalking. What, now he's smarter and more logical than Claire? GIVE ME A FUCKING BREAK, SHOW. Please let Claire be smart again! Please let her not Learn Her Lesson from Stalker Boy! Defiant Claire isn't really making me happy either, but seriously, I would like a female character to do her own thing and be RIGHT. (ETA: And not get shot, though, plz.)

Is that really Mr. Bennet?

What happens when Molly tries to find a dead person? Oh, dear. Oh, dear. Oh, but this might galvanize Maya. In a sad, bad way.

So how did the company get Sylar away from Kirby Plaza?

Oh, so that was no surprise. So Maya showed up as a character, was poorly written (as was Alejandro), and now she's dead. The twins' plotline brought nothing to the show, except some paper-thin premise about picking up Sylar. What was the point? Why create two characters with such an elaborate back story that have no agency and add nothing to the bigger picture? Was their entire point really to drive Sylar to Mohinder? Really? REALLY? HOW MANY THINGS ARE WRONG WITH THIS? Retracted as obviously, um, the show wasn't QUITE that stupid. I hope she goes on a Sylar-hunting spree in the next "volume."

Oh, Claire! It really is Mr. Bennet. PLEASE DON'T KILL HIM AGAIN! Boy, I have a lot of capital letters to use. What is this bunk deal? He's going to go be a bad guy to save them? And he believes this shit? Seriously? Oh, wait. This is some fucked up blackmail. (ETA: But Claire is not shot. So that's something.)

Peter, I think Hiro's power would be a lot more effective than trying to Magneto the door off.

Come on, Peter, be less stupid. Does he remember everything? Or just most things? Does he know Parkman? Peter, ARE YOU A WALKING BRICK? Smart Nathan, yay!


Oh, Peter. Two seconds of smartness, hurrah for that! And the first real use of the nuclear power; that's interesting.

Who's spying on our boys there? Innnteresting. And interesting that it's like (biological) father, like daughter, though a bit too tidy as well.


I begin to think it's Niki who's going to die.

This is so the end of 90210 that one season. Except not really. Also, hello, overused save-someone-from-the-fire-then-die plotline! Goodbye, Niki! You were always so underwritten. You had potential. I'm sorry you had to die, even though as soon as Mohinder said, "The blood ... Niki!" or whatever he said, it was so obvious.

Um, so ... if they kill Elle also I am going to scream in horror and have to be restrained from throwing things. SHOW, STOP KILLING THE WOMEN.

Hiro's back, yay! Oooh, what did he do with Adam. Oh, that is unpleasant. Buried alive is so freaking creepy. And in his family's graveyard. So, so creepy.

Good job, Elle!

This is not a good idea, this going public thing. It's going to look totally batshit. And in a way, it is. So, er, is this part of Matt's moral gray area thing?

What is this uplifting speechifying? Is this his presidential campaign speech? Why would there be so many major news outlets ready to go in in Odessa? WHOA, OK. Who's the shooter? Who was watching them?
Did that look like Peter walking off or was I imagining it? (Will I miss Nathan? Not ... really. I'm just glad it wasn't Elle.)

Could they not give Nathan Peter's blood? Who is Mama Petrelli talking to? So she had Nathan killed? Was she watching? Was that future Peter going back in time to correct a mistake? Is Mama Petrelli still somehow on the Company's good side to some degree, hence the watcher and the shooting and ...


Ha, ha, spinach Like Popeye. Ha, ha.

December 3, 2007 12:29 PM

Eugene's new taser policy allows police to shock pregnant women if officers decide to.
Here's video of police shocking a pregnant woman in Ohio:

November 30, 2007 05:48 PM

If you don't like the neighborhood speed humps in Eugene, maybe this would be better.

Effective, but I'm not sure how it translates.

November 28, 2007 02:06 PM

Y'know, I really like to blog. I really do, though my numerous excuses as to why I don't blog often enough take up almost as much space as my blog posts. I like to have opinions about things. I have them, oftentimes, whether I want to or not. But there's this thing going around — I think it's called the "holiday season." You know what it does? It eats time. I swear there are currently only 22 hours and shrinking in each day. So all I have are links. They are good links! No, seriously! Come back!

• The U.K. Telegraph has a list of the top 100 living geniuses. Criteria? "Each genius was then awarded scores out of ten against criteria which included: paradigm shifting; popular acclaim; intellectual power; achievement and cultural importance." It's fascinating, screwy and, to no one's surprise, rather man-heavy. Matt Groening above Nelson Mandela? Discuss.

• For Buffy fans, an interview with former writer Jane Espenson, who also has an awesome blog that is full of writing tips that I really ought to make more use of, even though I do not write for TV. They still work. At least some of them. Jane talks a lot about the writers' strike; for more brilliant thoughts on that, there's always Joss Whedon, whose comments I may have linked to before BUT THAT'S BECAUSE HE'S BRILLIANT.

Ahem. Moving on...

• You know who else is brilliant? Carrie Brownstein, who reviews Rock Band for Slate. I have not read this entire review yet, because I wanted to post to the blog. But I plan to. I also plan to make Brownstein's NPR blog, Monitor Mix, regular daily reading. An excerpt of her brilliance:

Since I've gotten older, and probably for the last five years, my relationship trajectory with live shows goes something like this:

1. See listing in local paper or hear about a show from a friend.
2. Think about going to the show, maybe even put it on my calendar.
3. Start listening to the band's music in anticipation of the show.
4. When people ask me what I am doing that night, say that I am going to the show. I am not lying--in my mind, I am really going to the show.
5. Feel tired the day of show and check out what movies are playing.
6. The night of the show, look at the clock and think about what is happening at the show at that very moment.
7. Rent a movie.
8. Sometime in the next week, hear about the show from someone who went.
9. Tell myself I will see the band next time.
10. Find a new show to plan on seeing.

(Dear Carrie, please don't beat me up for quoting all that. It's just that, well, you just wrote MY show-going-or-lack-thereof story, except you left out 6b. Find a strange burst of energy and go out after all. Find that either 6c. The band was totally overrated and I never want to leave the house again, or 6d. The band was fantastic and I can't believe I've ever been so lazy as to stay home on the couch when I could have gone. These are all still followed by 8-10, but the movie will have to find another night to get itself seen. So sayeth the girl who cannot seem to make the most of Netflix.)

Ahem. Er, moving on...

• How to make Terminator movies suck less (seriously, did you see Rise of the Machines)?: Put Christian Bale in them!

• Then, hey, why not give him some of the 50 greatest fictional weapons of all time? Though I've got to point out some serious flaws in this list. The Master Sword (Zelda) is cooler than many, many of the weapons ranked more highly. Buffy's scythe, at #30, is just about right. The teleporting sniper rifle from Deep Space 9 is just stupid and should never have been invented, even fictionally. Sheesh!

The inclusion of the Sword of Omens ("Give me sight beyond sight!") from Thundercats, on the other hand, is effing hysterical. For more Thundercats awesomeness, check out the swear-tastic outtakes, which were honestly among the things that, in the mid-'90s, made me truly understand the magical wonders the internet had to offer.

• More things I haven't read yet, Wonders of the ’90s version: An interview with Wilson Cruz about his groundbreaking role on My So-Called Life and an interview with indie film queen Lili Taylor, who simply rules.

• Is The National's The Boxer better than The Arcade Fire's Neon Bible? Did anyone really, truly like that White Stripes album? Why haven't I heard the new PJ Harvey? It's almost December, kids: Time to start forming your opinions about what didn't suck this year!

(I kid, I kid.)


Until next time, your procastinating blogger signs off. Stay tuned for half-formed musings about Why This Year's Oscar-Bait Movies All Are Full of Dicks!

P.S. Credit where it's due: I stumbled upon many, though not all, of these links while reading Whitney Matheson's super-cool Pop Candy Blog. Someday, maybe I'll be cool enough that people will send ME links, and I won't get all my blog content from Whitney and Boing Boing ... oh, and Whedonesque. But I DID already know about Monitor Mix and Jane Espenson's blog. I swear! And the weapons link is a saved one from last week. Srsly.

November 16, 2007 03:11 PM

This 1972 film (in two parts) shows the beginnings of Eugene's bike system—one of the most popular things ever built in Eugene. Some of the film is quaint, but a lot still applies today. In many ways Eugene has come a long way. But in many others we've gone backward, as shown by the footage of the lively downtown and crowds of kids biking to school. Compare the ambitious vision 35 years ago for greener transportation with today's vision:

I-5 Beltline