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February 6, 2008 01:08 PM

Local social service providers have banded together again this year for a Project Homeless Connect event Thursday, February 7 at the county fairgrounds.

Last year the event provided services ranging from medical exams to haircuts to 1,007 homeless or near homeless people. This year 600 professional and volunteer staff will hold the event from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., at the Lane Events Center at the Fairgrounds, according to a press release.

Who are the local homeless? Here’s a video organizers put together:

February 4, 2008 03:18 PM

Every year, Slate's Movie Club is one of the very, very best discussions about the previous year in film. Fiery, feisty, packed with opinion and disagreement, it's worth deep reading even if you think any given year's critics aren't your favorites. You're as likely to find new favorites reading the Club as you as to lose some love for old faves. And this year is no exception. A selection of favorite quotes:

"Speaking of polemics, I know I'm not the only one among us who loathes The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, aka My Left Eyelid, aka Awakenings for the smart set. Yes, I'm talking to you, Scott. I'd dis the thing myself, but I'd probably have to watch it again to do so properly, and we all have our limits—mine came about two minutes into the interminable, pretentious, Brakhage-for-dummies POV shtick at the outset of Butterfly."
— Nathan Lee of The Village Voice (who then immediately turned against my sensibilities by dissing Ratatouille)

"[I'm Not There] has experimental balls, but I couldn't get the zipper down to really feel them the way other people seemed to be able to."
— The Boston Globe's Wesley Morris

"No Country succeeds in the way Javier Bardem's pneumatic cattle-gun succeeds in annihilating his victims: It blows a hole in our brains, over and over again, without explanation, and then asks us to walk out going, "Wow, that was quite a hole you blew in my brain. Thanks.""
— Dana Stevens of Slate

"Simultaneously horned-up and sexless, Beowulf taps deeper into castration anxiety than the lame-brained pseudo-transgressions of Hostel II, not to mention the quandary of the Silver Surfer, that intergalactic neuter who roams the galaxy on an externalized penis at the behest of a planet-gobbling vagina dentate."
— Lee (could it be anyone else?)

"You tell me there's something new at the picture show about the cruel hopelessness and inhumanity of existence and I am so there."
— LA Weekly's Scott Foundas

"Hmmm. The question of moviegoing. Having watched films on laptops, iThings, and TVs thinner than Keira Knightley (baby, I love you, but here, take my sandwich), I, too, prefer going to the movies—the actual movies. But I'm this close to becoming Dr. Will Smith and locking my black ass away from all the freaks."
— Morris, one of whose pieces is more than worth reading in total even if you don't read a single other page — which you should, of course.

... OK, got distracted by reading. But seriously. Do yourself a favor and read this.

Me, I've got another couple dozen films to go watch ...

February 2, 2008 10:05 PM

Jon Ruiz

Ruiz

A sharply divided Eugene City Council voted 5-3 Saturday night to select Jon Ruiz as the powerful city manager of Eugene. The vote marks the first time in Eugene history where the city's top official was chosen on such a divided vote.

Council conservatives voted as a block for Ruiz, a retired Army Colonel who was criticized in a California newspaper for being too cozy with developers in his work as assistant city manager of Fresno. Councilor Alan Zelenka provided the swing vote to back the conservative's candidate.

Progressive Councilors Betty Taylor, Bonny Bettman and Andrea Ortiz voted against hiring Ruiz. Zelenka and council conservatives Mike Clark, Jennifer Solomon, Chris Pryor and George Poling voted to hire Ruiz.

The council majority made the job offer contingent on Ruiz passing more formal background and reference checks and agreeing to a salary offer.

Councilors Bettman and Taylor said they favored Joe Lessard for the manager job. Lessard has worked as a consultant with an interest in progressive planning since leaving an assistant manager job with the city of Austin, Texas. (EW reported recently on the manager candidate backgrounds.)

"I thought we had an outstanding candidate in Lessard, and I'm very disappointed that we didn't choose him," councilor Taylor said. Taylor and Bettman praised Lessard's intelligence, honesty and experience.

Lessard has environmental planning and conflict resolution experience in a large city with similar issues and politics to Eugene, according to Bettman. Fresno "is nothing like Eugene," she said.

Bettman said that while Ruiz came across as personable, Lessard offered experience and intellect that Ruiz couldn't match. "Style versus substance is what we got. They went for the style," Bettman said.

Bettman said Ruiz was the favorite candidate of city executive staff and she expects the new city manager to make few of the reforms in city accountability, transparency and planning that she says are needed.

"Ruiz to me represents more of the same," Bettman said. "The majority of councilors defended the status quo into the future."

Council conservative Mike Clark declined to comment on his vote. Other councilors and the mayor quickly left the meeting before they could be interviewed. The elected officials did not state the reasons for their votes during the three minute public meeting after the council met for eight hours in closed session at the Eugene Hilton board room to interview and discuss the candidates.

Earlier, many elected officials had said the vote would likely be one of the most important they would make as elected officials. City managers are not democratically elected but wield most government power in Eugene, controlling all information and making all hiring firing, contracting and discipline decisions. Part-time elected councilors vote to hire and fire the city manager.

January 31, 2008 04:16 PM

After Republicans blocked money for food stamps and unemployment benefits, it's worthwhile to think of the billions of dollars that they have spent, and continue to spend on the Iraq War.

Here's a video illustrating what all the hemorrhaging war money instead could buy:

tick, tick, tick....

Imagine what just a small fraction of all those wads of taxpayer cash dropped on Iraq could have done to fix local city, county and school funding woes. Maybe we need an insurgency in this country?

January 30, 2008 05:54 PM

KrogerMacpherson

What's the actual policy differences between John Kroger and Greg
Macpherson, the two Democrats running for Oregon Attorney General?

Oregonian columnist Steve Duin cuts through some of the smoke in a recent article. He notes that Macpherson might be partial to big "Oregon utilities, for example, whose interests Macpherson championed when he opposed the bill that stopped PGE and PacifiCorp from including phony taxes in their rates."

As for the expensive Measure 11, Duin writes:

"Macpherson is pushing for changes in the mandatory sentencing law, arguing -- in light of Kevin Mannix's new push for mandatory jail time for drug and property crimes -- that we ensure 'each prison bed has
the person in it who's the greatest risk.'"

Kroger, meanwhile, told the district attorneys, 'I will do everything I can as attorney general to make sure we don't water down mandatory minimums for violent crimes.'"

Steve Novick, the little populist Democrat running for U.S. Senate, has said he'd be more excited with Kroger as AG. Novick argues that a career prosecutor would get the lawyers at the AG more jazzed than a corporate lawyer.

For more background on Kroger, here's our November cover story:

Kroger

Speaking of Novick, his not-the-typical-politician ads have won him a lot of attention, not to mention tens of thousands of YouTube hits. Here's a look:

Here's an EW interview with Novick:

Novick

But Novick's more mainstream opponent in the Democratic U.S. Senate primary, Jeff Merkley, is not to be outquirked. After a roll-over accident, Merkley put out this video on his "unstoppable" campaign:

One leading issue in this quirk-slinging campaign: Who will keep Oregon weirder?

January 29, 2008 10:01 AM

As someone who has purchased or rated books by C.S. Lewis, you might like to know that Outlaws of Poplar Creek / Bowdrie Follows a Cold Trail / His Brother's Debt will be released on February 12, 2008.

Actually, no, and not just because I totally fail to see what having rated or purchased books by C.S. Lewis has to do with books by LOUIS FRICKING L'AMOUR.

You fail, Amazon.

January 26, 2008 08:12 PM

Oh, Bryce Taylor, you are made of awesome.

Please teach the Ducks how to come from behind now!

January 25, 2008 01:01 PM

Maybe I'm just confused. Half-remembered conversations are bubbling in my head; did The Fast Computers tell me they were going to move away? Does that mean I'll never get to play Wii Tennis again? Or are they from Eugene and Portland now? Well, regardless, The Oregonian likes 'em. In this article about Portland as "America's indie-rock Mecca," they anoint TFC "the best indie synth band in town!" It's a tie with Glass Candy, but it still counts!

January 25, 2008 05:22 PM

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us I was so excited to get tickets to the men's basketball game vs. UCLA last night. So very, very excited. There's something funny — in a good way — about the Pit, about the way that tickets sometimes seem to materialize. Everyone knows someone who seems to have some kind of connection, and sometimes you luck out.

Last night was one of those nights. Sure, the Ducks lost, and disappointingly, too. Sure, I think the game might have gone differently had Malik Hairston not been out with cramping (c'mon, boy! Drink the Gatorade!) for seven-plus minutes in the second half. And sure, it drove me bugfuck crazy that Kevin Love can't get called for a foul.

But nothing drove me as crazy as the fans.

I get that people are disappointed. They think that since Love is an Oregonian, since his dad (who was in attendance last night) was a Duck, the UO has some kind of right to him. I don't agree, really, and I understand why someone would pick UCLA over Oregon at this point. But this is why I'm a huge basketball fan, but not a rabid fan, I guess. I booed Love once or twice, when I got frustrated with the calls, and I sort of chuckled at the dramatic turning of the fans' backs. That stuff is a little mean, but mostly low-key, mostly funny.

Then there's the stuff that isn't. The bullshit playground antics from second grade. I love the volume of the Pit Crew; I love the chanting for Aaron Brooks and Dennis Dixon and even Adrian Stelly. It warmed my little heart, and I hoped for two seconds that Brooks would be a magical charm against the Bruins. But I was horrified and embarrassed to be a Duck fan when I suddenly realized that the student section was chanting "Love's a faggot."

Words fail me. It wasn't much of an improvement when the chant changed to "Love's a pussy." (I can laugh at "Love's a bitch," though. The purposeful misuse of established phrases is kind of funny. And every so often it was impossible to tell whether the chant was "Go Ducks" or "Love sucks.") Eventually, the band started to play, and I hope it was on purpose, to drown the chanting out.

I wish there was some action available to the officials in that situation. I wish Kent would take the matter in hand somehow. (Not that the lost-so-much-respect-for-Kent fans would care much.) I wish someone in a position of power would or could do something to stop that nonsense, to stop the fans from posting Love's cell number online, to stop people from screaming in Stan Love's face. Carry signs, boo the players, whatever, but just retain a tiny, tiny bit of class and humanity.

I love basketball, but I abhor the aggressive, offensive attitude that comes along with certain parts of sports fandom.

And frankly? After last night I have even more respect for Oregon's players, who didn't seem to acknowledge any of the yelling, and, honestly, for Kevin Love, who was as calm with reporters after the game as he was on the court. I don't care for the Bruins in the least, and I really didn't care for some of the calls last night, but that was a lot for one kid to take.

(On a random and smaller note, I'd like to suggest that someone tell the Mac Court staff that the way to get the crowd to stop sitting on the back of the last row of seats — which, yes, is where my cruddy camphone pic was taken — is NOT by tapping people on the ass.)

(On a really random note, can anyone explain the Duck mascot's little routine with the wading pool and the scrub brush?)

January 24, 2008 11:18 AM

My fellow movie critic Jason Blair, who doesn't have a blog of his own yet, sent this over this morning and it just cried out, "Blog fodder! I am blog fodder!" So here you go:

I was looking up Terry Gilliam recently, who used to be one of my favorite directors, before his bad lack turned truly awful. The Man Who Killed Don Quixote, which starred (momentarily) Johnny Depp, was never released for a myriad of reasons, although Lost in La Mancha, a fine documentary, did result. Then, still not recovered from Quixote, Gilliam tried to make the dark fantasy The Brothers Grimm, which was plenty dark but far from fantastic. He somehow convinced Jeff Bridges to star in Tideland in 2005, which made so little money domestically ($66,000) that Rotten Tomatoes lists its total box office as $0.

His latest picture, meant to be a return to form, is/was called The Imaginarium of Dr Parnassus. Early word said it was a return to the wildly anarchic form of his earlier works. Heath Ledger was part of the reason for hope. But although Ledger wasn't playing a primary, role, his passing leaves Gilliam in place with which he's familiar: a promising but half-finished project which, if it sees the light of day, will be vastly different than what he intended. "Gilliam's luck" should be an idiom at this point. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer's blog offers a short chronology.

January 23, 2008 10:04 PM

UO Arena

Will the deepening nationwide credit crisis torpedo the UO basketball arena?

The UO has proposed borrowing $200 million for the new arena through the bond market. But the New York Times reported today that the weakened condition of two large bond insurers has become a "potential time bomb" for such borrowing.

The bond insurers have reportedly lost billions by mixing themselves up in backing risky subprime mortgages. Without sound insurers for bond issues like the UO's $200 million, investors may not be willing to buy the UO's debt at affordable rates.

The Times reports: "The insurers’ problems are also spilling over into the municipal bond market, making it harder for cities, counties and states to raise money for projects."

January 22, 2008 12:44 PM

I always mange to forget it's Oscar nominations day until I see one of my usual morning reads (i.e. blogs) mention something about it, then bolt immediately to the Oscars site to see what the hell is going on. This year, well, frankly I just need to see a lot of movies. But naturally I have opinions even about the things I haven't seen. So here are my thoughts at present. A bit off the top of my head, sure, but we'll come back to this. Probably. (Confession: I took the short film nominations out of this list, at least for the time being.)

For those keeping track, the bleak male-driven films got eight nominations apiece; the less bleak Atonement and Juno seven.

Read more...

Performance by an actor in a leading role
George Clooney in Michael Clayton
Daniel Day-Lewis in There Will Be Blood
Johnny Depp in Sweeney Todd The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
Tommy Lee Jones in In the Valley of Elah
Viggo Mortensen in Eastern Promises
• I've only seen two of these, but given a choice between Depp and Viggo, well, honestly I'm not so sure Depp should be in this lineup. I'd like to replace him with James McAvoy's understated, affecting turn in Atonement, really.

Performance by an actor in a supporting role
Casey Affleck in The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
Javier Bardem in No Country for Old Men
Philip Seymour Hoffman in Charlie Wilson's War
Hal Holbrook in Into the Wild
Tom Wilkinson in Michael Clayton
• I'm just not on the Hal Holbrook bandwagon. He was good, and effective, and one of the best things about that film, but ... I still don't think this is his award. But I've not yet seen enough of the nominees to have an opinion on it otherwise.

Performance by an actress in a leading role
Cate Blanchett in Elizabeth: The Golden Age
Julie Christie in Away from Her
Marion Cotillard in La Vie en Rose
Laura Linney in The Savages
Ellen Page in Juno
• What I find interesting and, honestly, rather depressing about this list is that while some of the roles are good, few of the movies are otherwise recognized. I'm not sure what that means, but it seems in keeping with this year's trends; the "big" movies are extremely male-driven and the non-girlfriend parts for women are ... in films that are perceived to be smaller and often less attention-worthy. (More on this is percolating in my head.) I adore Laura Linney, but her role in The Savages, though she's quite good, isn't anything new for her; it's a lovely performance, but there ought to be something braver in this category (not on Linney's part, but on the Academy's). What there really ought to be here is a nomination for Keri Russell for Waitress. No, I'm absolutely not kidding.

Performance by an actress in a supporting role
Cate Blanchett in I'm Not There
Ruby Dee in American Gangster
Saoirse Ronan in Atonement
Amy Ryan in Gone Baby Gone
Tilda Swinton in Michael Clayton
• Just give this one to Cate Blanchett already. I'm sure the other actresses are fantastic — and I know Saoirse Ronan ought to be cast in, well, everything in the future — but Blanchett absolutely electrified I'm Not There (and yes, there's sort of a play on words in that sentence somewhere).

Best animated feature film of the year
Persepolis: Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud
Ratatouille: Brad Bird
Surf's Up: Ash Brannon and Chris Buck
• Dear Academy: You will not be forgiven for nominating Surf's Up and not Paprika. Do you hear me? (That said, I'm excited to see Persepolis, but can it stand against the popularity of Ratatouille? I think the rat movie is so good it might have deserved a Best Picture nomination.)

Achievement in art direction
American Gangster: Art Direction: Arthur Max; Set Decoration: Beth A. Rubino
Atonement: Art Direction: Sarah Greenwood; Set Decoration: Katie Spencer
The Golden Compass: Art Direction: Dennis Gassner; Set Decoration: Anna Pinnock
Sweeney Todd The Demon Barber of Fleet Street: Art Direction: Dante Ferretti; Set Decoration: Francesca Lo Schiavo
There Will Be Blood: Art Direction: Jack Fisk; Set Decoration: Jim Erickson
• Buncha gorgeous movies, here. I think this will go how the bigger awards go, meaning it'll be Atonement or There Will Be Blood, but the opposite could be true. And regardless of its many other flaws, The Golden Compass did have some truly beautiful stuff going on.

Achievement in cinematography
The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford: Roger Deakins
Atonement: Seamus McGarvey
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly: Janusz Kaminski
No Country for Old Men: Roger Deakins
There Will Be Blood: Robert Elswit
• It'd be interesting to look up how often one cinematographer gets nominated for two films in the same year, as the talented Roger Deakins is here. Kaminski might take this one, though, for the striking effectiveness of The Diving Bell and the Butterfly.

Achievement in costume design
Across the Universe: Albert Wolsky
Atonement: Jacqueline Durran
Elizabeth: The Golden Age: Alexandra Byrne
La Vie en Rose: Marit Allen
Sweeney Todd The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, Colleen Atwood
• Without even having seen it, I'm certain there are some stellar costumes in Elizabeth. But oh, the dresses and gowns of Atonement! It would be interesting to see the award go to something more subtle and less ... costumey that it often does. But the bleak, tattered garb of Sweeney and Mrs. Lovett and the uptight clothing of Judge Turpin is also pretty grand in Sweeney Todd. Tough call.

Achievement in directing
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, Julian Schnabel
Juno, Jason Reitman
Michael Clayton, Tony Gilroy
No Country for Old Men, Joel Coen and Ethan Coen
There Will Be Blood, Paul Thomas Anderson
• Ouch. Totally unpickable. Notable, though, that there's no nomination for Atonement's Joe Wright, and I wonder if that bodes poorly for his film. I'd love Best Picture and Best Director to go in different directions, though, for fun. Jason Reitman and Tony Gilroy probably don't need to write speech notes, but the rest of these guys (and of course they're guys) might want to be prepared.

Best documentary feature
No End in Sight: A Representational Pictures Production: Charles Ferguson and Audrey Marrs
Operation Homecoming: Writing the Wartime Experience: A Documentary Group Production: Richard E. Robbins
Sicko: A Dog Eat Dog Films Production: Michael Moore and Meghan O'Hara
Taxi to the Dark Side: An X-Ray Production: Alex Gibney and Eva Orner
War/Dance: A Shine Global and Fine Films Production: Andrea Nix Fine and Sean Fine
• I've only seen one of these, and I really want it to win: No End in Sight! No End in Sight! Of course, I also want to see the rest of 'em.

Achievement in film editing
The Bourne Ultimatum: Christopher Rouse
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly: Juliette Welfling
Into the Wild: Jay Cassidy
No Country for Old Men: Roderick Jaynes
There Will Be Blood: Dylan Tichenor
• Based on what I've seen, I'd guess Diving Bell, for the tiny hitches and jumps that are so effective in putting the viewer into the perspective of its subject.

Best foreign language film of the year
Beaufort, Israel
The Counterfeiters, Austria
Katyn, Poland
Mongol, Kazakhstan
12, Russia
• Well, this is interesting. I haven't seen — or even really heard of — any of 'em. The Academy has some weird rules about what's eligible for this category, which is, I'd guess, why Persepolis and Diving Bell (and Lust, Caution) aren't included.

Achievement in makeup
La Vie en Rose, Didier Lavergne and Jan Archibald
Norbit, Rick Baker and Kazuhiro Tsuji
Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End, Ve Neill and Martin Samuel
• Rick Baker wins a lot of awards, but I really hope I never have to hear the phrase, "the Oscar-winning Norbit."

Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original score)
Atonement, Dario Marianelli
The Kite Runner, Alberto Iglesias
Michael Clayton, James Newton Howard
Ratatouille, Michael Giacchino
3:10 to Yuma, Marco Beltrami
• It's too bad Johnny Greenwood's There Will Be Blood score was deemed ineligible, simply because I like it when pop music and the Oscars meet. But though it wasn't to my taste, I think Atonement might take this one. Be interesting, though, for an animated film to win a score rather than song award.

Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original song)
"Falling Slowly" from Once, Music and Lyric by Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova
"Happy Working Song" from Enchanted, Music by Alan Menken; Lyric by Stephen Schwartz
"Raise It Up" from August Rush, Nominees to be determined
"So Close" from Enchanted, Music by Alan Menken; Lyric by Stephen Schwartz
"That's How You Know" from Enchanted, Music by Alan Menken; Lyric by Stephen Schwartz
• More than anything, I want "Falling Slowly" to win. But it's up against the Menken/Schwartz juggernaut, which bodes poorly. Still, a girl can dream that the Enchanted votes will cancel each other out and the beautiful song from Once will win that indescribably deserving film its lone Oscar.

Best motion picture of the year
Atonement
Juno
Michael Clayton
No Country for Old Men
There Will Be Blood
• I'm just going to throw out there that I don't think Juno has the proverbial snowball's chance of hell here. But beyond that ... well, until I see the rest of 'em, I'll be in my corner rooting for Atonement.

Achievement in sound editing
The Bourne Ultimatum: Karen Baker Landers and Per Hallberg
No Country for Old Men: Skip Lievsay
Ratatouille: Randy Thom and Michael Silvers
There Will Be Blood: Matthew Wood
Transformers: Ethan Van der Ryn and Mike Hopkins
Achievement in sound mixing
The Bourne Ultimatum: Scott Millan, David Parker and Kirk Francis
No Country for Old Men): Skip Lievsay, Craig Berkey, Greg Orloff and Peter Kurland
Ratatouille: Randy Thom, Michael Semanick and Doc Kane
3:10 to Yuma: Paul Massey, David Giammarco and Jim Stuebe
Transformers: Kevin O'Connell, Greg P. Russell and Peter J. Devlin
• Sound categories: often hard to get as excited about as some of the others. Given what I've heard about There Will Be Blood, I wouldn't be surprised to see it take the first of these two.

Achievement in visual effects
The Golden Compass: Michael Fink, Bill Westenhofer, Ben Morris and Trevor Wood
Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End: John Knoll, Hal Hickel, Charles Gibson and John Frazier
Transformers: Scott Farrar, Scott Benza, Russell Earl and John Frazier
• Tough call between the latter two. While some of the effects were stunning, I just don't think Compass' sometimes-fake-looking daemons are going to win the day here.

Adapted screenplay
Atonement, Screenplay by Christopher Hampton
Away from Her, Written by Sarah Polley
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, Screenplay by Ronald Harwood
No Country for Old Men, Written for the screen by Joel Coen & Ethan Coen
There Will Be Blood, written for the screen by Paul Thomas Anderson
• Yikes.

Original screenplay
Juno, Written by Diablo Cody
Lars and the Real Girl, Written by Nancy Oliver
Michael Clayton, Written by Tony Gilroy
Ratatouille, Screenplay by Brad Bird; Story by Jan Pinkava, Jim Capobianco, Brad Bird
The Savages, Written by Tamara Jenkins
• Confession: I want Juno to win because Diablo Cody is kind of awesome. Barring that, Ratatouille, because it deserves lots and lots and lots of awards despite falling into a few typical Disney traps.

Did I mention I've got a lot of moviewatching to do?

January 21, 2008 03:05 PM

I love Augurie. But very shortly, that sentence will become past tense: after less than a year in business, owner Dagua Webb Nelson is closing up shop — and soon. The space will be taken over by neighboring salon Rapunzel, which is cool enough, but it's not a store full of cute cards and dresses I dream of being able to wear. Still, I understand. We stopped in on the way back from a coffee run today 'cause there were sale signs all over the place and wound up getting the news of the impending close along with Sugar Lips goodies and beautiful letterpress cards at half-price. One less awesome store for Eugene, sure, but Webb Nelson seems relaxed and happy about her decision. Even if it takes her and her lovely aesthetic out of town, that's something to be happy about.

(I'm at work on a holiday and looking for the positives, OK?)