State Rep. Terry Beyer of Springfield announced today (Jan. 31) her decision not to seek re-election to House District 12. She says she supports former Springfield Mayor John Lively to fill the seat.
State Rep. Terry Beyer of Springfield announced today (Jan. 31) her decision not to seek re-election to House District 12. She says she supports former Springfield Mayor John Lively to fill the seat.
Did you miss the Ninja March against banks last week? Never fear, Ustream is here.
The kazoos start around minute 34, there's also a game of Red Rover and some chanting of ommmm. Eugene Daily News tried to cover the march, but apparently got distracted by pizza and missed most of it.
The Vagilutionaries have been marching against Citizen's United. And FYI it is legal in Eugene to be topless.
We the People-Eugene announced today (Thursday) that weather has caused the relocation of Friday's Occupy the Courts rally from the U.S. Courthouse to the First Christian Church, 1166 Oak St.
The event marks the second anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court's Citizens United decision which has generated a flood of corporate political spending. Speakers include Paul Cienguegos (at about 3 pm), and many other speakers working on local grassroots citizen initiatives, musicians, performers and wrapping up with an open mic.
A mock trial of “Mr. Big & the Supremes” will begin with the arraignment of the defendants at noon. Gordon Lafer will speak on “Unions & Citizens United at 2:10 pm, followed by Karly Loveling’s music at 12:30, Roy Keene on “Who Owns Lane County” at 12:40 and a speaker from Occupy Eugene at 12:40.
Day Own of the Pitchfork Rebellion will speak at 1:10, Pam Driscoll of Friends of Parvin Butte will speak at 1:20. John Davidson will speak on “Corporations and the Constitution” at 1:30 and Occupy Eugene will do street theater at 1:45.
Defendants will be indicted at 2 pm and Julian Harrison will speak on Occupy Wall Street at 2:05, followed by Sabrina Siegel, Paul Cienfuegos, Stan Taylor, David Rogers (music), Frost (Park Street Theater), the sentencing of the defendants, and an open mic.
The schedule is subject to change. Call 937-3034 for updates.
Lane County Commissioner Rob Handy’s re-election campaign kick-off is from 5 to 7 pm tonight, Jan. 17 at the historic Willakenzie Grange Hall, 3055 Willakenzie Road, two blocks east off Coburg Road. He will be running against Pat Farr and Mike Clark, so far, in the May 8 primary. Under county rules in nonpartisan races, if one candidate gets more than 50 percent of the votes in the primary, he or she will go on the November ballot unopposed. If no candidate gets 50-plus percent of the votes, the top two will run against each other in November.
Handy’s campaign website is www.robhandy.com and he can be reached at email@example.com
Sports reporters have long been blasted for pursuing homerism that roots for the home team rather than journalism. So it's interesting to look at the alternative realities of a Register-Guard v. Milwaukee, Wisconsin Journal Sentinel Rose Bowl match up.
Here's the game-ending spike that the "reporters" largely covered by watching on TV like everyone else:
Here's the R-G coverage by Rob Moseley:
"the Badgers were unable to spike the ball in time to stop the clock, after using their timeouts much earlier in the half than they would have liked....The Badgers tried in vain to stop the clock but couldn't, as the replay review confirmed."
"UW hurried to the line of scrimmage and Wilson spiked the ball with a second left but the referee ruled time expired. A video review upheld the call and the game was over....
'I knew there was two seconds left on the clock,' Wilson said. 'As soon as the referee blew the whistle, I snapped it and spiked it. I didn't think there was any way that two full seconds ran off the clock there.'
"Bielema vexed by a few of officials' calls," Potrykus reports in a second story quoting the Wisconsin coach.
The Wisconsin paper reports that in the first half:
"UW lost 13 seconds on its final possession of the first half and thus lost an opportunity to try for a go-ahead score."
In the second half, the paper quotes the Wisconsin coach:
"Basically what happened was, I know his foot touched the line," Bielema said. "It gets down to an issue of where the ball is. I was trying to get a read from my sideline official if we could review forward momentum. He didn't understand the question where I was at, and that's why they charged me a timeout."
But the Wisconsin paper's columnist Michael Hunt blames the coach for the loss:
"But for Wisconsin to blow a second consecutive Rose Bowl in basically the same freakish way it dropped two games in a 2011 season that now seems completely wasted in the aftermath of the 45-38 loss to Oregon, that is hard to forgive or forget.
Bad things don't happen to talented teams like UW on sheer randomness. They happen because of a lack of preparation and poor coaching decisions."
Meanwhile, RG columnist George Schroeder ignores all this and revels in victory with the man who paid for it all:
"It's very, very special," said the biggest fan and benefactor, Nike founder Phil Knight.
We have a new issue out tomorrow, but for now here’s what we’re checking out on the web:
The U.S. finally got Osama bin Laden. Whoop de doo, George Bush taught us years ago to just forget about him:
Good thing we finally got a Democrat in office to get the job done:
If you read our Spring 2011 Chow and want to share recipes or tips for finding ingredients for local baking, add them in the comments.
Here are a few recipes we tried out, adapted for local ingredients:
makes 10 big muffins
¼ cup butter
1 tbsp honey
1 cup sourdough starter
8 ounces milk
3 cups flour
1 ½ tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder dissolved in 1 tbsp water (if you want an English muffin-type texture)
cornmeal for dusting griddle (optional, not pictured)
Mix butter, honey, milk, starter and egg. Set aside. Mix flour & salt, add milk/sourdough mixture, mix until combined. Let rise for 1.5 hours, covered with a wet dishrag.
Stir in dissolved baking powder. Heat griddle to medium. Put about ¼ cup onto griddle at a time. Flip halfway through. They’re done about a minute after the sides look like English muffins.
makes a little loaf
1 cup sourdough starter
2 tbsp honey
1 tsp baking powder
½ tbsp salt
1 ¼ cup whole wheat flour (have extra on hand)
¾ cup bread flour
6 tbsp butter, plus extra to grease pan and brush top
¼ cup milk (or buttermilk)
Mix starter, milk, egg, butter, honey, baking powder, salt and bread flour. Slowly add one cup whole wheat flour, blending in more until just tough enough to start kneading. The total amount of flour depends on the consistency of your starter. Grease bread pan, put dough in pan and allow to rise in warm place at least an hour, covered with a wet dishrag. Bake at 375 for 35 minutes or until golden brown. Brush crust with butter.
Rosemary Sea Salt Shortbread
makes one 8x8 pan
½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
¼ cup honey
1 cup flour (we used whole wheat)
1 tsp coarse sea salt, plus a pinch to sprinkle on top
1 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary, plus a pinch to sprinkle on top
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Blend butter, honey and salt, then stir in rosemary. Slowly add flour, blending until smooth. Press into a 8x8 pan and sprinkle top with extra sea salt and rosemary. Bake for about 30 minutes or until the edges begin to turn golden. Remove, cut immediately, wait five minutes (less and it crumbles severely, more and it sticks to the pan) and remove from the pan.
Nerds (said with love, people; I am one, OK?) sometimes come back from nerd conventions talking about having caught "con crud," an unavoidable illness caught while in the company of so frakking many other people. I woke up on Friday with what I'll call "festival funk." I blame everyone, no one and my own late hours. Take your vitamins, SXSW campers. Or at least drink your vodka with orange juice. Festival funk will screw with your days.
I couldn't string a coherent sentence together for much of Friday, so here are a few disconnected thoughts from Day 16,239 — I mean, Day Eight — in Austin:
1. Apps someone should create and hope to make a killing on for next SXSW:
• An updater that tells you how packed each movie screening is.
• A map the entire function of which is to get you from place to place quickly while spending the least time ducking and bobbing around drunks on Sixth Street.
• A schedule that combines the official festival events with the countless day parties and nearby free shows. There was a website that got close to the latter, but it was still a little on the more-research-needed side. And I'm not just saying that because I forgot about it until Saturday.
2. Were there few people at the Writing About Music in the Twenty Tens panel because everyone was still hung over at 12:30 in the afternoon? Because everyone who wants to write about music is just doing it rather than wondering about it? Because people have figured out that panels aren’t going to give you a magical one-sentence key to how to become Chuck Klosterman? Regardless, once the panel got through its way-too-long personal introductions, it was a good reminder to embrace new technologies, be open to new ways of “thinking hard about music” (a phrase Ann Powers attributed to her husband, Eric Weisbard) and maintain your voice.
3. There’s a fashion/clothing show/sale during the music part of SXSW. There is nothing like this during the interactive part. Draw your own conclusions.
4. Was I underwhelmed by White Denim, the overcrowded venue in which they were playing, or both? If you're into that sort of '70s rock influenced, jammy-noodly, neither-here-nor-there rockish sound that feels like it's been making the rounds for a while now, you probably want to check them out.
5. It’s more than a little disheartening how few men attend any panel about women in the music business. Liz Phair tells stories about being treated like she’s selling sex, not music; Jenny Eliscu talks about the lack of female reviewers at Rolling Stone; Sarah Baer has tales from the Warped Tour and great advice about how to make yourself useful in the business; Maggie Vail talks about Kill Rock Stars' Slim Moon telling her that in her job, she can always tell anyone to fuck off; and Wanda Jackson is goddamn Wanda Jackson. These successful, smart women are sitting on stage saying that things are still changing slowly. Too slowly. And very few men are listening.
6. Shorts have really made a comeback in the hearts of twentysomethings who likely wouldn’t have been caught dead in them a year or two ago.
7. When you’re a little wary of seeing a band for reasons you can’t put a finger on, just skip it. There are a million other things to do and see. The thing about SXSW is, you have to be mercenary, whether you want to or not. Panel sucks? Go to another one. Band is running late/soundchecking for half their allotted set/not floating your boat? Ditch. It’s easy to get frustrated seeing a lot of things you don’t love, but the thing you do love might be less than a block away. It is also very easy to spend a lot of time wondering what you're missing. Stop wondering. Go find out. SXSW is exhausting. It is also amazing. It's a big, loud, drunken Choose Your Own Adventure book.
8. You must make it a rule not to eat anything in the convention center while you are at SXSW. Eat pancake-batter-dipped, deep-fried jalapeno sausages from the cart outside. Follow #SXSWFreeNoms on Twitter and find your way to free grilled cheeses and empanadas. Go to Progress Coffee (near the Fader Fort, for those inclined that way) and eat jalapeno-cheddar breakfast biscuits. One friend is addicted to Kebabalicious. Everyone will tell you to go to Jo's Coffee. Caffé Medici on Congress was reliably mellow. And did I mention East Side King? They make brussels sprouts delectable. I wouldn't joke about this. Honest.
9. Good earplugs are your friends. Ear-shaped earplugs. Not those useless yellow foam things. You can pick up decent ones in Gear Alley in the convention center.
10. People will wear boots with anything. Anything.
11. Seeing a bunch of actual kids at a Rock 'n' Roll Camp for Girls show is delightful in any city.
12. The mere sight of a person nibbling on a treat from the Hey Cupcake truck is enough to inspire intense cravings for cream cheese icing and rich, decadent cake.
13. You can keep your pounders of Lone Star (not that there's anything wrong with them). Why not give the local microbrews a shot? Live Oak’s hefeweizen tastes pretty damn good when you’re sweating.
14. Strangest sight downtown: One dude is in full I’m-gonna-vomit posture, kneeling on the street with his hands on the pavement. A second dude is enthusiastically punching the sky with both fists right behind the unwell dude. Next to them, a third dude has a giant wooden cross slung over one shoulder. Barely anyone bats an eyelash at any of this.
15. Bored security guys getting their groove on to the bass-heavy tunes coming from across the street can really brighten up your night.
16. A good heckle goes a long way.
17. The Ghost Room is still my favorite SXSW venue, and not just because it has the nicest bathrooms. But it does. It's also wood-paneled and comfortable and has nice corners for hiding in with your laptop.
18. I didn’t hear any journalists or other panelists taking digs at bloggers this year; instead, I heard a dude in a band bitching about them. What these cranky pissants fail to realize is that bloggers writing about the records they love (and hate) is the 21st century equivalent of music fans anywhere, anytime telling someone else about the things they've recently discovered. Blogging is a kid telling his friend at school about this new band he heard, or a record store clerk taking notice of a customer’s buying habits and recommending something new, or a big sister passing on cool records to her little brother. Bloggers are writing and thinking about music because they care. Anyone who writes about music — or visual art, or theater, or film, or dance — is doing it because he or she cares.
19. Said cranky pissant was Ben Foster (or Ben Weasel, if you prefer), of Screeching Weasel, who went on one hell of a tirade about SXSW, the venue his band was playing, what he was getting paid and how critics are "fucking parasites" and bloggers don't matter. Among other things. I missed the part where he got in an actual physical fight because I grew bored with his ranting during the fake encore break: the rest of the band left the stage, but Foster stayed front and center, mocking tattoos and generally being a cranky sonofabitch.
By then, it was pretty clear it wasn't worth taking anything he said seriously. Which was vaguely a shame, because there were probably some interesting questions in the middle of all the unfiltered bile. It is worth $250 (what Foster said they were paid) for a band like Screeching Weasel to play SXSW? How much do they spend on travel and lodging? Are they going to draw potential new fans or a crowd of distantly curious bystanders and the people who've liked them for ages and are willing to pay $20 for a ticket or fork out for a SXSW badge or wristband? (A small crowd stood on the sidewalk outside the Scoot Inn, watching over the fence.) What is the actual value of a SXSW showcase for a band that's been around too long to realistically expect a sudden turn in the spotlight?
It's all moot now, though. Foster may have apologized for the altercation with a female fan, but the rest of the band quit Wednesday. I guess it was a career-ending performance, as Spin's Charles Aaron described, after all.
20. Post-midnight show-hopping: The Bellrays, We Are Hex (I don't know what the hell was going on as I was watching from the street, but I need to know more), The Head and the Heart. I needed to end the night on a joyous, upbeat note, and TH&TH delivered, for as long as I could stay on my feet. They were smiling, dancing, brightening up the outdoor stage at Red 7, and working the necessary magic for both the late hour and the kind of band they are: You've got to find a way to stand out when you're a harmonizing, foot-stomping, hand-clapping, sorta old-timey kind of band, and they do, through bright songwriting and cheery stage presence (among other things). My companion said it would be good music for a Sunday morning. It would also be good music for late night at Sam Bond's. If they play in town? Go.
What all the excited, giddy, half-drunken tweets from SXSW don’t tell you is how much time you’re likely to spend walking from venue to venue and/or waiting in line for shows you may or may not get into. I’m not complaining. I’m just telling you why I feel like a total slacker for how few bands I’ve seen the last two days. Goddammit! My scheduling powers are no match for the distance between the Cedar Street Courtyard and the Scoot Inn!
Tomorrow, young Jedi. Tomorrow I will see more than five bands. I might even see TV on the Radio, who reportedly played an incredible set last night. Tomorrow I'll get to one of Wild Flag's eleventy-million SXSW shows. No, for serious. There's no missing Wild Flag.
3 pm Bad Veins at Austin Convention Center
I love you, Bad Veins. I love that you two skinny dudes — drummer Sebastien Shultz and singer/guitarist Benjamin Davis, both in creamy pale green button-downs — threw yourselves entirely into your afternoon set in a hallway in the convention center. It didn’t matter that the show felt like one of those awkward college-cafeteria setups, where stressed-out people happen to pass through on their way somewhere else. Bad Veins were loud and passionate and just completely there. (Stop me if I refer to anyone as “present,” OK?) They make the noise of more than two people because they have a third member: a reel-to-reel named Irene. This sounds like a schtick, but it doesn’t play that way. “Sometimes / to get by / I believe in the lie,” Davis moaned into a retro telephone receiver at the end of the set. Relevant? It sure felt like it.
We now interrupt your regularly scheduled show-going to attend screenings of two music-related documentaries: Upside Down: The Creation Records Story and The Other F Word. Upside Down was enjoyable and full of thick accents and half-told stories; it’s great if you’re nostalgic for the era of bands like Ride and Primal Scream, but lacks a certain amount of context. Why was the sound that came to define/be defined by Creation so pervasive? What did the scene mean for British pop in the longer run? I wanted more from Upside Down, and yet more from The Other F Word, which starts out examining what it means for punk rock guys to become fathers but begins to slip into generic “Kids will change your life” commentary (when it’s not too focused on Jim Lindberg’s gradual realization that he wants to quit the band he’s fronted for years). There are great moments in The Other F Word, but it stays too close to the surface.
11:15 pm She Keeps Bees at Emo’s Jr.
“They’re making me wait!” She Keeps Bees singer/guitarist Jessica Larrabee yelled to no one in particular as she walked through the sparse crowd at Emo’s Jr. Larrabee seems prone to this sort of outburst; at some point in the set, she jokingly asked drummer Andy LaPlant when he was going to get a mic. There’s no hurry: Larrabee’s wry, confident, sassy personality (I lost count of how many jokes she made at the expense of The Kills) is a welcome change from bland stage patter. And she’s got a hell of a voice. She Keeps Bees play bluesy, unpolished guitar-and-drums rock, and they’re hardly the only band to do so — but that voice! Classic, clear, yearning, sultry, flawless, hypnotic — it’s practically unfair. I want Jessica Larrabee to guest-front all my favorite bands.
Midnight Cloud Nothings at 512 Upstairs
Cloud Nothings were described to me as “nerdy jangly pop punk with Harry Potter lookalike lead singer.” This is somewhat untrue. The band’s singer looks more like McLovin than Harry Potter. The rest of the description stands, though.
Midnight For a Minor Reflection at 512 Downstairs
A nasty cloud of cigarette smoke drove me off the 512 patio; something interesting happening on the bar’s other stage kept me in the place. Icelandic instrumental band Sigur Ros apparently said that Icelandic instrumental band For a Minor Reflection have the potential to “out Mogwai,” which I think means FaMR might just beat those Scottish instrumental rockers at their own game. What made For a Minor Reflection so fantastic on this particular night, though, was partly that while their songs are sprawling, heartstring-tugging, dynamic and, yes, loud (even the sound guy said as much) and long, the vibe was joyful and energetic, not Serious Rock Business. If these guys had just stood there, looking intense and humorless, something vital would have been missing.
1 am Yob at Barbarella
Tacos. There is a taco truck at Barbarella. Get a chorizo taco. Trust me. Then drink a cheap beer as big as your head and watch a band like Yob. I used the word “epic” far too many times yesterday, but Yob own epicness. And not just because they noted, near the show’s end, that they had 10 minutes left, so they would play one more. All the words I might use to describe Yob (it was my first time seeing them) have been tossed at the band a thousand times already: Heavy, intense, ferocious, doomy. And did I mention fucking heavy? Eugene should be proud to claim these guys as a hometown band. A sizable crowd of black-clad folks (mostly men) stood rapt and attentive to their every song — and it was the last show of a long night. Vanessa Salvia has more to say about Yob and their new album here.
You know what I would like? I’d like for St. Patrick’s Day not to fall during SXSW. I overheard my first “Where’s your green?” conversation before noon. Sixth Street doesn’t need this. Drunken music fans + drunken, green-garbed college kids = double the mayhem. I expect to see piles of green, and I don't mean shiny green leprechaun money.
It might be a night for going to a lot of movie screenings. Except that TV on the Radio is playing and Janelle Monae is playing and The Bangles are playing (all at the same time, which is just cruel) and The Sounds are playing and ... you get the picture.
3:30 pm Obits at Beauty Bar
I’m pretty sure the trick to getting the most out of SXSW is that you’ve got to alternate bands you know you love (and love seeing) with bands you’re unfamiliar with. I’d heard one Obits song before going to see them in a packed tent in the middle of the afternoon. “It sounds like an angrier, dirtier cousin to Rocket From the Crypt,” I said afterward, not knowing that one of the Obits dudes was in Drive Like Jehu with one of the RFTC dudes. It’s a small, small rock world.
4:15 pm Typhoon at Emo’s Annex
There were 12 members of Typhoon for this show, including a second drummer and a nearly invisible fellow half-hidden by speakers (other members of the audience were miscounting the number of performers. It’s a compulsion of some kind to try to figure out exactly what the hell is going on onstage at a Typhoon show). The afternoon crowd seemed to be there mostly because someone somewhere had told them to go — by which I mean it wasn’t exactly a massive singalong. But Typhoon threw their little Portland hearts into their short set, which looped around on itself, starting with “Mouth of the Cave” and closing with “The Honest Truth,” which picks up the line “You’re gonna piss and moan / you let the devil in your home” line from “Cave” and throws it up into the air with a strange joy.
4:45 pm Starfucker at Peckerhead’s
I think someone fed Starfucker downers before this set.
Somewhere around 10 pm God knows what at the Liberty
I don’t know who was playing at the Liberty. (I do know it was pretty awful.) I followed friends there. I don’t care what was playing at the Liberty. What I care about is the Liberty’s food truck, East Side King. Within minutes of hearing the words “steamed pork belly buns” I was in line ordering curry buns: “peanut butter home made curry in deep fried bun, fresh basil, cilantro, mint, onion and jalapeno.” I cannot overstate how good these things were: sweet, tangy, decadent, bright. I’m trying to find more reasons to go to the Liberty just to eat these goddamn buns. And everything else on the menu.
11 pm Smoking Popes at Maggie Mae’s
When the Smoking Popes opened with “Not That Kind of Girlfriend,” I got a little worried. What do you have to look forward to when a band you’re just now getting into opens with your favorite song? A song that's almost two decades old? A song that is clearly the favorite of lots of other people, many of whom are in the front row singing gleefully along when Josh Caterer puts the mic in their faces?
There was nothing to worry about. Smoking Popes songs are so catchy, you’re likely to know the words after one listen, maybe two. I knew more songs than I thought I did. The new songs, from their just-out This is Only a Test, play by the same rules: straightforward, catchy, gushingly romantic or bitterly put-out pop punk. The structure is assertive, bossy, driving — but Caterer’s voice belongs to a heartsick kid without an angry bone in his body.
Midnight Sharon Van Etten at Swan Dive
Swan Dive feels like it should be hosting a wedding reception. The stage makes the band look like they’re playing on an overgrown wedding cake. I watched much of this show through strangers’ camera screens; Van Etten is petite, the stage is low and the place was packed, so I got a better view that way. “Thank you for not going to see Duran Duran,” she said midway through the set, which included most of the songs from Epic, “Tornado” and two new songs, one of which she said she wrote for Sinead O’Connor. It wasn’t the most magical Van Etten show I’ve seen, but it built, piece by piece, as she seemed to get more comfortable with the patchwork crowd (the place was full, but not everyone was exactly attentive) and she stuck the landing: “Love More.” Of course.
1 am This Will Destroy You at Malverde
The danger of instrumental rock with an epic bent: It frequently runs the risk of sounding like a washed-out Explosions in the Sky with lesser dynamics. (Your basis for comparison may vary.) This, sadly, was the case with the two This Will Destroy You songs I heard, which built and built and soared and swooped and were still missing something. It’s not bad — it’s not This Will Destroy Your Soul or This Will Destroy Your Will to Continue — but it’s not This Will Destroy You By Reducing You to a Weeping Pile of Rubble (in a Good Way), either.
How to Die in Oregon isn’t an easy film to watch. Peter D. Richardson’s documentary focuses not on the legal or philosophical issues and ramifications of Oregon’s Death with Dignity act, but on the personal stories of people who have chosen to use the option the act gives them. Or, to be more specific, they’ve chosen the possibility, the measure of control afforded by having in hand a prescription for life-ending medication. The result isn’t a balanced, political film, but it isn’t trying to be. It’s an incredibly affecting look at the realities of fatal illness, failing bodies and the question of how much power we have over our own fates.
Much of Richardson’s film follows Cody Curtis, a Portland woman with liver cancer. Curtis is an attractive, energetic 54-year-old; she hardly seems sick as she cracks jokes and works to put everyone around her at ease. Curtis wants to live, but she wants to live on her own terms, and her struggle with her illness weaves around the film’s other stories, including that of Nancy Niedzielski, who fought to get a similar law passed in Washington after watching her husband suffer from brain cancer.
How to Die in Oregon doesn’t flinch. It opens with home video footage of Roger Sagner as he ends his life — a video Richardson later explained was shot by Sagner’s granddaughter. It was a conscious choice, the director said, to put this scene at the beginning of the film, so that Oregon wouldn’t build to a will-she-or-won’t-she dramatic peak or force you to wonder whether you’ll see anyone take the lethal prescription dose. It’s right there at the front, but gently. Richardson’s approach to the film’s close is as gentle. He doesn’t back away from the realities of Curtis’ illness, whether it’s filming as fluid is drained from her abdomen or keeping the camera running when she finally breaks down in tears. But Oregon never feels manipulative or pushy; instead, it’s respectful and cautious, painstakingly careful to avoid an exploitative or sensationalized tone. Even the sentimental score, which at first feels slightly intrusive and insistent, begins to feel comforting by the end. You need an iota of comfort in a film like this.
Richardson has little time for those who are opposed to the Death with Dignity act, though he does interview Randy Stroup, a man angered by the Oregon Health Plan’s decision to cover a prescription for a drug that would end his life, but deny him coverage for cancer treatment. (The decision was later reversed.) This isn’t a measured consideration of what the law allows and why people are opposed to or in favor of that, but an exploration of what "Death with Dignity" really means to those who choose it. It’s clear that many people are still working out exactly what it means to allow people to take their own lives. The lines aren’t clear, the emotions unpracticed: What is sad, tragic, relieving, freeing, kind, honest, horrible, difficult, understandable in these situations? How does anyone come to terms with the reality of an illness that would make a person rather exit their life?
Richardson's film, which airs on HBO later this spring, won the Grand Jury Prize in the U.S. Documentary Competition at Sundance. At SXSW, it provoked more audience questions than any other film I’ve seen at the festival, and inspired SXSW Film producer Janet Pierson to speak about how strongly she felt about showing the film. It leaves an audience a little shell-shocked and is likely to anger those who are opposed to the act, but Oregon doesn’t present its subjects’ stories in a manner meant to convince. The stories are true, and the honesty is an argument in itself. It's also an inspiration. For a film about death, How to Die in Oregon is awfully life-affirming.