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June 25, 2009 04:08 PM

After a flurry of unconfirmed reports (well, reports only by TMZ, which was apparently good enough for pretty much nobody on a topic this big), the L.A. Times confirmed that Michael Jackson died today. He was 50. The New York Times ArtsBeat blog is getting updated very frequently with further information.

I heard the news on Twitter, where speedy updates about Jackson's condition have been replaced by memories and great links to YouTube videos, photos and more highlights of an incredible career. Comments about Jackson quickly overtook posts about Farrah Fawcett (RIP, Charlie's angel!) and news out of Iran with remarkable but unsurprising speed. There's a ton of coverage out there, which makes sense; is there any pop music fan, at least within a certain age range, to whom Jackson wasn't relevant at some moment or another?

I've stopped paying attention to Jackson in recent years, other than to marvel, momentarily, that he, Prince and Madonna had all reached or passed the 50-year milestone. Really? Really. But I distinctly remember buying Thriller on LP when I was a kid. I think I bought it in a department store; I seem to remember racks of clothing surrounding the little LP-shelf island. At some point each week, we could bring records to school to listen to, on headphones, with friends, and my kid-self was very excited to bring that one in and tap my little feet in time with "Beat It."

What's your earliest — or best — Michael Jackson memory?

And who else votes for a day of wearing single sequined gloves in his honor?

June 24, 2009 04:38 PM

Where can you earn more than $100,000 a year without a college degree, no experience and near total job security in this wretched economy?

The Eugene Police Department is holding a career night for police officers tonight at 6:30 p.m. at the Emergency Services Training Center, 1705 West 2nd Avenue.

The salary range for Eugene cops is $48,588 to $61,984. With double pay overtime and lavish healthcare, retirement and other benefits, total compensation could easily reach six figures. The slim job qualifications don’t appear to match the fat salary. If you are a high school drop out, a GED will suffice.

Oh, and it’s almost impossible to get fired or disciplined. Eugene officers who have punched handcuffed people in the face or shot unarmed people dead have been reinstated by state arbitrators with full back pay.

June 24, 2009 04:14 PM

A fire late last night at the Ridgeline Montessori Public Charter School has destroyed a 4J building with seven classrooms, according to Eugene Police.

Police called the cause of the fire "suspicious" and are investigating. The fire was first reported at 2:45 am Wed. by a neighbor who saw smoke and flames at the east end of the building.

School District 4J leases the building near 29th and Lincoln streets to the Montessori Charter school. In the past the district has talked of selling off the building and adjacent buildings leased by the Village charter school along with surrounding playing fields to a developer. The site behind the Market of Choice in South Eugene formerly housed 4J's Willard neighborhood school.

June 5, 2009 03:30 PM

It's looking more and more like the R-G is trying to Willie Horton progressive county commissioners.

The R-G ran an attack column today calling for taxpayer spending on pro-jail expansion propaganda (illegal by the way) with this clip-art illustration:

That looks a lot like the infamous Willie Horton ads Bush the senior used to get elected in 1988:

The "independent" ads were widely criticised as racist, untrue and illegal fear mongering, but they played a key role in electing Bush I, and subsequently Bush II.

After the R-G's conservative commissioner candidates lost in the last election, the paper is rattling the recall threat and trying to blame progressive commissioners for any crime that happens in Lane County. They won't let silly facts—like that the criminal released was released under the previous conservative county commission not this one, or that Lane County is one of the safest places to live in the nation—get in the way of their propaganda.

But voters today may be wiser. Desperate McCain supporters tried a Willie Horton style attack on Obama last year and failed.

June 1, 2009 01:39 PM

We try to be modest, but sometimes we just gotta toot our own horns. And that's OK. Or at least it's inevitable. Anyway, the point is, the Oregon and Washington Society of Professional Journalists held their annual awards banquet on Saturday, and we picked up a handful of awards, including two first-place nods for arts coverage. The honored stories are linked below.

In the category for non-daily print publications with a circulation greater than 8,000:

Third place, environmental reporting
"One Good Tern Deserves an Island" by Camilla Mortensen

Second place, consumer, food, lifestyle, home
"Much More Than a Mimosa" by Molly Templeton.
(This one's a PDF of the entire Uncorked issue — sorry! Some scrolling is required.)

First place, arts and criticism
"Forging Ahead" by Jason Blair

Second place, arts and criticism
"Operation Sharing Their Truth" by Suzi Steffen

In the category for alternative newsweeklies in region 10:

Second place, government
“Blind Oversight” by Alan Pittman

Second place, consumer/environmental affairs
"One Good Tern Deserves an Island" by Camilla Mortensen

First place, arts
“Buddhist Visions” by Suzi Steffen

Third place, special sections
“Water Day” by EW staff, edited by Suzi Steffen

May 15, 2009 04:44 PM

The Willamette Valley Music Festival! The Scottish Festival! Eugene Chosen! The Avett Brothers! It's one of those weeks when there's more nifty stuff going on in town than we can cram into the pages of the paper. Here are just two more events at which you could enjoy yourself this weekend:

This year's Out/Loud Queer Women's Music Festival features headliner Melissa Ferrick (above) along with North Carolina singer-songwriter Crys Matthews, who is releasing two new albums this year; the Athens Boys Choir, a former duo turned solo act featuring Katz, whose spoken word topics deal with "with issues of Gender, Politics, Love, Sex, and everything in-between including but not limited to spooning"; Bay Area hip hop performer and producer Katastrophe; and local singer-songwriter Virginia Cohen. The show starts at 8 pm tonight at the WOW Hall, and admission is by donation.

* * *

Tomorrow night, head down to Wheeler Pavilion at the Fairgrounds for "A Stitch in Time," a fashion show organized by Mitra Chester (of Deluxe and Kitsch) and Laura Lee Laroux (of Redoux Parlor) which gives local designers "an opportunity to directly present their creations to the community, while allowing Eugene to see the faces behind the unique fashions we support and enjoy," says designer Moria Wheeler (a preview of her Jaunty Design line is pictured above). Wheeler says, "My goal as a designer is to create fun, comfortable, unique and affordable clothing. Fashion should be exciting and accessible to all, even in Eugene." The show starts at 8 pm, but doors open at 5 pm; vending runs until and after the actual show. And there's a bar. Which is nifty. ($10 adv., $12 door)

* * *

So what are you doing with the summery, potentially spectacular weekend ahead?

May 13, 2009 02:10 PM

Let me gush a second: I pretty much loved Star Trek. It did a lot of things right, and it looked gorgeous, especially to eyes disappointed by the terrible effects in X-Men Origins: Wolverine. I loved Karl Urban as Dr. McCoy the best of all, but John Cho is a respectable Sulu, Sylar Zachary Quinto a perfect Spock (I really only thought of Sylar once, when he glares at the council) and Zoë Saldana a whip-smart Uhura. The bad guy was a little stock, but the time-split really thing works for me.

That said, I've got some nits to pick. So if you've seen the film, well hey, shall we discuss? Let's!

Hey, That Was One Timely Distress Signal!
Isn't it nice for Kirk how his hearing gets interrupted by an event that lets him go on to prove himself fit to be the bestest most awesomest captain ever?

Hey, I Forgot About What That Drill Does...
It is a MAJOR point of the planet-eating drill that, somehow, it doubles as a transmission jammer. Why, then, do our heroes forget this when they make their saving-Earth plan, which relies in large part on transmissions and the ability to beam people hither and yon? (The abridged Star Trek also considers why the good guys didn't just torpedo the damn thing, but I think maybe they were going for the sneak attack...)

Hey, There Are a Lot of Dudes Here
Space: The final frontier for the endless sausage fest. I'm not asking that Scotty suddenly change genders, or that Kirk not try to pick up every lovely lady he sees. I'd just like to see a few more women in roles that don't involve getting hit on (or bedded) by Kirk. As for Uhura, I love her: I love, love, love how her intelligence is emphasized, and how key her talents are. But I also sympathize with her for that damn tiny skirt she's stuck in (this is one point on which I completely agree with Roger Ebert, whose review I otherwise find a bit codgery). Worse than the skirt, though, is her relationship with Spock, which feels shoehorned into the film like someone's flawed idea of What Will Bring In Female Viewers. It's unnecessary and awkward and reduces the lone woman in the main cast to doing little (after, I must acknowledge, her totally vital transmission reception — which, I must also note, happens offscreen) but trying to comfort poor sad Spock (whose sadness I didn't get to touch on in tomorrow's review, unfortunately — but then again, the movie doesn't do much with the reality of the destroyed Vulcan homeworld either). I'm hoping that J.J. Abrams — who has a pretty good track record when it comes to female roles in his TV shows (Felicity, Alias, Lost, Fringe) — was just sticking safely with this part of Trek canon for movie one, and will improve on it for future films (which I really do hope he's making).
(See also: Dawn Taylor at Cinematical; Melissa Silverstein at Women in Hollywood; Jennifer Weiner at The Huffington Post; Sady Doyle at The Guardian.)

Hey, That Looks Like It Came From Galaxy Quest!
Oh, Scotty. I love Scotty, even though he's been saddled with what someone quite aptly referred to as a granite Wookie sidekick (my viewing companion described Scotty's wee friend as "just on the R2D2 side of Jar Jar Binks"). But when Scotty slightly flubs it when he beams himself and Kirk onto the Enterprise, the script totally flubs it by sending him down a water pipe ... on the way to what looks like a giant fishbowl full of spinning razorblades — with a convenient and clearly labeled emergency hatch just before it!

If this isn't an actual conscious shoutout to Galaxy Quest, then frankly I have no idea what the writers were smoking.

Hey, Let's Not Guard Future!Spock's Shiny Spaceship!
There's kind of an explanation for this one: In this timeline, Scotty only just learned the equation for transporting at warp speed, so you might think Nero assumes there's no reason to guard the totally functional ship carrying all his red matter: No one can get to it unless they're fairly close to his ship in the first place. But wait! Nero comes from the future. In the future/alternate timeline, it's safe to assume people know how to transport at warp speed, because the Spock from the future gives this information to Scotty (I kind of have a problem with this, too, but whatever). So wouldn't he think that maybe someone could just beam onto his ship and run off with Spock's pretty spinny ship — just like Spock does?

Hey, Let's Hang Out By This Pretty Black Hole!
All that said, the dumbest moment by far was when smarty-pants Captain Kirk apparently thinks it's a grand idea to hang out and watch Nero's ship get consumed by what we have to assume is a black hole the size of several galaxies. It took a tiny dot of the mysterious, hey-science-is-complicated "red matter" to suck up an entire planet; what's that giant ball of the stuff going to do? I know: Let's wait around and see!

I actually thought for a minute that the Enterprise was going to get sucked through the hole and wind up back in the canon timeline. Honestly.

But despite all those complaints, I still loved the movie. I may also love picking at it like this. A love fed by nitpicks? I guess anything is possible.

For another kind of nitpicking, might I suggest Discovery's Bad Astronomy blog, which cheerfully takes on the science of the film? I'm particularly fond of:

But who knows what happens if you make a [cue creeeeeepy music] RED MATTER black hole. Maybe in those all kinds of weird things can happen, like Firefly was never canceled and the finale of Battlestar made sense. Crazy!

May 13, 2009 11:48 AM

Does The Register-Guard editorial board read its own newspaper?

On Nov. 18, 2007 the R-G reported that the police officer who shot and killed a psychotic Ryan Salisbury “said the stun gun would not have helped that night.”

Today an R-G editorial uses the Salisbury death as its major justification for endorsing more taser use by the Eugene Police.

But while the editorial writers apparently don’t read the newspaper’s news stories, they do appear to read their own editorials. The editorial today cuts and pastes the phrase “lengthy, methodical and laudably consultative” in praise of police taser use from a Feb. 2, 2008 editorial.

May 13, 2009 05:09 PM

What’s more extreme, a young buff athlete performing extreme sports or the typical American couch potato being able to hop over a street curb without serious injury?

One is certainly more funny. Join the 32,000 people who’ve seen this local video and be the judge:

May 13, 2009 12:20 PM

Be patient just a little bit longer, Zenon fans. We learned — just a little too late to squeeze it into this week's paper — that the new Café Zenon will open next Friday, May 22 (not May 15, as was previously their hope).

Owner Ibrahim Hamide says he and his staff "would have been panting and sweating" if they opened May 15. "We didn't want to present the first impression that way," he says.

Hamide says this opening date is certain, "unless the sky falls." The other thing that's certain? The new restaurant will definitely keep the Zenon name.

May 6, 2009 02:18 PM

Local cyclists are wowing on this urban bike parkour video from Scotland:

April 30, 2009 01:37 PM

May 1, I hear, is Buy Indie Day. The idea, as described at Indiebound, is simple: "Buy one book — paperback, hardcover, audiobook, whatever you want! — at an independent bookstore near you." (Those of you on Facebook can check out the movement's Facebook page, too.)

If you're still reading this, you doubtless are familiar with Eugene's fine independent booksellers: Tsunami Books, Black Sun Books, Smith Family Books, the UO Bookstore (still not calling it the Duck Store), Windows Booksellers (which I've actually never been in) and J. Michaels. You can also get books at The Kiva, of course, or order online from an online shop (there's this one in Portland you may have heard of?).

Conveniently, tomorrow is also the first day of J. Michaels' 34th anniversary sale, which a colorful little postcard emphasizes is their ONLY sale of the year. The sale runs through Saturday, May 9, but if you swing by on Friday evening, you can add snacks and wine to your indie shopping experience.

Whichever store is your favorite, there's a lot to be said for something like Buy Indie Day — not least of which is that you'll come out of it with something new to read. Should you be unsure what to buy, let me recommend a few recent favorites, all (this time) in a fantasy-fiction sort of vein. Sort of:

• The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman. A timeless story about a boy raised by ghosts, told in Gaiman's personable, charming prose, sly and impossibly precise, like the story always existed this way and Gaiman just happened to snare it, to gently press it into his lovely book. I'm not ashamed to say I teared up at the end of Bod's story, and I do hope it continues.

• Midnight Robber by Nalo Hopkinson. A sci-fi novel, but only at the outset; Midnight Robber moves quickly from the Caribbean-colonized planet of Toussaint to its parallel world, New Half-Way Tree, where criminals are sent into exile, forced to make their way without technology. Tan-Tan winds up on New Half-Way Tree with her father, whose sour, drunken assaults on Tan-Tan eventually send her into the bush, where she lives with the planet's native population. Since reading this, I've been nabbing Hopkinson's other books from the library just as fast as I can; I can't get enough of her engrossing, vivid writing and her beautiful, dangerous worlds. (I've only finished one other so far, but I can also heartily recommend Brown Girl in the Ring, in which the dangerous world is our own.)

• Palimpsest by Catherynne M. Valente. The title of Valente's new book refers to a city you can only reach by sleeping with someone who's been there. It's fantastical and yet entirely physical; you can only visit the part of the city that appears like a tattoo on your lover's body; you will only find yourself there at night, like a dream. But it's not a dream. Four characters swirl around each other in this story, each shaped and marked by loss, each finding something they may or may not have known they were missing in this strange city, where a river flows with coats and a house grows for the woman who will inherit it. I recommend reading this one on a train, not just in solidarity with the train-loving character Amaya Sei, but because it might make you feel appropriately exposed when the stranger in the seat next to you peers over your shoulder as you read yet another sex scene — but it's not just about sex! It's about travel, exploration, a different kind of anticipation — and you find yourself wondering what exactly they're thinking about this small, seemingly innocuous book you're reading so intently.

April 30, 2009 12:56 PM

The UO just cancelled the championship hopes of its ultimate frisbee team over nudity at an OSU match.

But the UO hasn't taken any action to cancel Nike's huge presence on campus due to this act of naked corporate commercialism:

Maybe if frisbee boosters could donate a few hundred million dollars, the UO wouldn't be so prudish.

Or maybe the frisbee solution is official uniforms with swoosh-shaped gourds:

Clever Nike designers could probably come up with something less scratchy and more swooshy, call it the Schwing 6.0.

April 26, 2009 11:02 AM

Congratulations to Eugene's Nina Kiriki Hoffman for winning a Nebula Award — the awards given by the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America — for her short story "Trophy Wives."

Another Eugenean, Kate Wilhelm, was one of three winners of the Solstice Award, which was created last year and is given to a writer "who has had a significant impact on the science fiction or fantasy landscape, and is particularly intended for those who have consistently made a major, positive difference within the speculative fiction field."

The rest of the winners are listed here at Locus. Oregon did pretty darn well, what with Ursula K. Le Guin also winning for her young adult novel Powers. I don't think I missed any other Oregonians, but please correct me if I did!