Ryan Beltram - Page 54

Where Did the Week Go…

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— Ryan Beltram, EDN

So in case you hadn’t heard, the Ducks are going to the Rose Bowl again, and with that comes more merchandise.

The new gear became available on Monday at the Duck Store, and one of the new shirts unveiled reads “Leader ‘O’ The Pac.” Oh Nike, so clever. But we’ve moved on from the conference champion shirts. Now we need the Rose Bowl attire. Judging from the website, the shirts look simple: your traditional “Oregon Ducks” with a big rose in the middle, or the classic image of two football helmets — in this case a Wisconsin and a Duck helmet, facing one another. They all look good and soon most of it will be gone.

I’ve never been a big swag guy, meaning I don’t often wear apparel from my teams. I have nothing against people who do, I just prefer to wear other clothing. Plus I think if I’m going to buy a new Duck shirt, I’ll wait until after the outcome of the Rose Bowl. Every time I would see those “12-0” shirts last year I would get a little irritated. There’s still one more game to go guys. Then, of course they lost the national title game and now people, including my sister, have these shirts that say “12-0” when really they should say “12-1.”

Every year there’s new stuff that comes out commemorating what the Ducks have just accomplished, and that’s great. But really it’s just a way for people to remind other people of what the Ducks did that specific time. Remember that one year when we played in the Civil War? Yeah, that happens every year. I don’t need a shirt confirming the specific day and time they played. If I’m going to a buy a new Duck shirt, I want it to say “Rose Bowl Champions” or “13-0.”

US Postal Service Troubles Could Help Netflix

Seeing Congressman Peter DeFazio hold a news conference to speak out about possible USPS cuts occurring at the Gateway processing facility made me think about Netflix and its CEO Reed Hastings speaking at an investor conference in New York on Tuesday.

It’s been a really bad year for the company. First, they split the DVD-by-mail and streaming services into two separate price points, and by doing that raised its prices by as much as 60 percent. Then they tried to make nice by naming the mail part of the subscription something other than Netflix, thinking consumers would change their minds about the raw deal because it didn’t say Netflix when they received their DVD in the mail.

The customer backlash has resulted in a staggering decline in Netflix’s stock price. In July, the company’s stock was trading at a peak of nearly $305. But in the five months since the subscription increase and subsequent fleeing of customers, Netflix Inc.’s stock was trading at about $71 on Wednesday.

The leading company in online streaming thought the DVD-by-mail service would eventually die and more and more customers would prefer watching movies through a computer. But the company pushed people just a little too quickly and paid the price for it.

But with the U.S. Postal Service facing bankruptcy and moving forward with cuts to first-class mail next spring, Netflix might just get their wish of becoming just a movie-streaming service. The Postal Service’s drastic attempt to save money would provide short-term relief, but ultimately could prove counterproductive for businesses who use the mail.

Movie buffs would have to wait just a little longer for those red envelopes to arrive in the mail, and they might get frustrated and finally cave in and switch to the streaming-only plan. Reed Hastings and Netflix envisioned a day when everything they did would be online. Now that might happen, thanks to the mail.

Un-Jolly Christmas Movie Pick

You would think a movie called A Christmas Tale would be a typical holiday film. It certainly has the elements: families coming together, snowy scenery and presents. But this French film from 2008 is not the happiest holiday tale ever told. It’s about a family dealing with mental illness, cancer and banishment.

Almost the entire film takes place at the home of the parents, Junon and Abel. Their daughter Elizabeth and her son Paul arrive, followed by the parent’s son Ivan, his wife Sylvia and their young sons. The last to show up is their son, Henri and his girlfriend, Faunia. The entire family is under one roof for the first time in six years following Henri’s banishment from the clan by sister Elizabeth after she had to pay off Henri’s debts and demanded he never see her again or visit their parent’s home.

But the banishment is lifted once Junon is in need of a bone marrow transplant. Two family members are a match, but the spats, fights, drunken toasts and overall bad behavior might threaten all of it.

A Christmas Tale is somewhat of a grind. It’s two-and-a-half hours long, has subtitles and portrays a family that isn’t always likable. But there’s heart and love under all the bickering. No family is perfect and the film accurately portrays the insecurities and jealousy that arise when loved ones come together. The story is heavy and sometimes bleak, but these characters are able to sustain a light mood throughout and prevent the film from becoming depressing. The cast has great chemistry and you believe they’re a family.

The holidays are a time when family comes together, and unfortunately it isn’t always happy or joyful. This is a film that breaks down damaged relationships and attempts to repair them through laughter and memories. It’s another unconventional Christmas film worth seeing.

Brandon Roy Forced to Retire

If you follow the Portland Trail Blazers at all, then Friday was not the greatest day. It was reported that Brandon Roy would retire due to injuries in both knees. It wasn’t a surprise that this would eventually happen, but the timing was. Just three days earlier it was announced that he would not only be ready for training camp but also compete for a starting job.

But at a meeting with his doctor, it was determined that if Roy continued to play basketball, his knees would get worse and he would risk the threat of not being able to walk as he got older.

Just like that, the franchise player who represented the team’s transition from the “Jail Blazers” era to the team of the future was done. Roy was the most talented player in the Blazers’ organization since Clyde Drexler, and it was only two years ago that many sports writers were saying he would eventually surpass Kobe Bryant as the best shooting guard in the Western conference. But at 27, a time when players enter their peak, Roy is forced to give up the game.  Who could blame him. His quality of life was at stake. Now the Blazers and fans need to move on.

Where Did the Week Go…

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— Ryan Beltram, EDN

With the calendar officially turning to December, we can all get into Christmas mode. One of the things that gets me in the spirit of Christmas is the lights. There’s nothing better than seeing a house decked out in holiday lighting both on the lawn and the house and it’s even better seeing a row of houses lit up so well, the street they’re on could be used as an emergency runway.

But as much as I love people who fully commit to decorating their houses, I equally dislike people who put up one string of lights along the garage and decide–that’s enough, I’ve done my part. We’ve all seen these houses: Bulbs burnt out, drooping lights, sections that blink while others don’t. I also love the person who puts the one strand of lights on a completely random part of the house.

So if you decide to be festive and put up lights this year, go all in or don’t try at all. You should want your neighbors to not only become jealous of your house-lighting abilities, but also wonder if they could see your house from space. I get that more lights means a higher electric bill, but come on it’s Christmas time.

Unconventional Holiday Movies  

Besides putting up lights, the beginning of December is also the time to watch Christmas movies. It’s weird how one month in the year is the only appropriate time period to watch a certain type of movie. No one is going to watch It’s A Wonderful Life in the middle of July and there’s a reason retail stores don’t put out holiday movies until the holidays because no one would buy them any other time of year.

But when it comes to Christmas movies, there’s always the usual suspects: Miracle on 34th Street, A Christmas Story, Christmas Vacation and of course that one starring Jimmy Stewart I mentioned earlier. All of those movies are perfectly fine.

But I also have a few holiday movies I like to view every year that might seem a little anti-Christmas but that’s okay. Not every one of them has to be jolly and happy. The adults occasionally like something a little more subversive. 

So beginning this week and all through December I’ll recommend one holiday movie you either don’t know or perhaps you hadn’t thought of as a Christmas movie. This week’s pick is a comedy involving extortion, kidnapping and cat piss.

It's a Christmas movie, really.

The Ref was a box office dud when it was released in March of 1994. (Probably because it was a Christmas movie released in March). But over the years this hilarious film has become somewhat of a cult classic.

Starring Denis Leary, The Ref follows an extremely unhappy couple (Kevin Spacey, Judy Davis) as they try to pull it together in anticipation for hosting a big family Christmas. Things couldn’t get any worse until cat burglar Gus (Leary) holds the couple hostage while awaiting transportation outside of town. He thought being on the run from the police was hell. Not only does he have to deal with the constantly bickering couple, but once the rest of the family arrives, he has to pretend to be the couple’s therapist to avoid suspicion.

What makes this film memorable is that it holds nothing back. This is a true R-rated film with crass humor and language. It’s a perfect juxtaposition to the holiday season. But despite the R- rating, The Ref never feels mean-spirited. It’s about an unhappy family refusing to put on a facade during Christmas and by the end you might actually feel a little warm inside like most holiday films.

Ducks hope third times the charm in BCS Bowl game

The inaugural Pac-12 title game was a little closer than some were expecting, but in the end Oregon rose (had to do it) to the occasion with a 49-31 victory over UCLA. With Wisconsin narrowly beating Michigan State, the Rose Bowl is set. Oregon will no doubt be the favorite, but based on their recent bowl performances, fans should feel a little worried.

The last three non-conference losses for the Ducks were to Ohio State in the ’09 Rose Bowl, Auburn in the ’10 National title game and LSU opening week this year. What did all of those teams have in common; bigger and more physical players who could also match Oregon’s speed. The apparent size and speed disparity was even more obvious when the vaunted Ducks offense was on the field. The quick-scoring, explosive offense we were accustomed to seeing was reduced to short-yardage plays and quick three-and-outs. This opponent should be easier than the previous three were right?

In Wisconsin, the Ducks have to look forward to yet another big, physical team. The Badgers only two losses this year came back-to-back and in both cases from a final desperation throw from Michigan State and Ohio State. Wisconsin may not be as flashy as Oregon, but they will most certainly be ready. The last three non-conference teams Oregon lost to also have another thing in common. Those teams had weeks to prepare for Oregon. Wisconsin will have the same benefit. Let’s just hope the end result is different this time for Oregon.

New Book explores the evolution of shoes

Shoes have become synonymous with Eugene and the University of Oregon. The innovations in running shoes by Bill Bowerman and Phil Knight in the 1960s along with the successful track program at the university eventually led to Eugene garnering the title of TrackTown USA. Knight also founded a little company called Nike, perhaps you’ve heard of it.

That's a lot of shoes.

But it was the collection of 10,000-year-old shoes at the Museum of Natural and Cultural History at the UO and the more recent developments in footwear that led Brian Lanker to publish “10,000 Years of Shoes: The Photographs of Brian Lanker.” The book features a wide variety of photographed shoes ranging from old sagebrush bark sandals to Steve Prefontaine’s running shoes from the early 1970s.

Besides photographs, the book also features essays by professors, museum directors and marathoners on the history of shoes. The topics they discuss include ancient archaeological findings of the first shoes worn, what these ancient sandals reveal about the people who wore them and Bowerman’s fascination with the sandals and how they inspired him in his own innovations.

Sadly, Lanker was unable to see the project to its completion. He died of pancreatic cancer in March of 2011. Those interested in seeing the final work of photojournalist Brian Lanker can purchase the book through the end of the year at Past and Presents, the museum’s store, for $34.99. The book will have a wider distribution in January.

Where Did the Week Go…

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— Ryan Beltram, EDN

For Thanksgiving this year I decided to make something.

I was unable to go home, so my sister and I decided to have dinner with some friends and their family. The downside to missing your own family for Thanksgiving, besides not seeing them of course, is enjoying the delicious meal they make.  I’m particularly fond of my mother’s green bean casserole, but a couple years ago she introduced something new: a corn casserole.

In order for this to work, our friend’s family, whom we’d never met, needed to enjoy it as well. They provided the turkey, ham, mashed potatoes, stuffing, cranberry sauce and four kinds of pie. Needing to participate, my sister and I decided we couldn’t be without our favorite dishes so we decided to make them ourselves. She took the green bean casserole and I decided to try my hand at the corn casserole. Luckily, it turned out to be a success. The green bean casserole was devoured like I knew it would be, but the corn casserole was the wild card. It was a risk, but I am happy to report it was a hit as well. At a certain point during our meal, a young man in the family leaned over to me and said, “I really like this corn dish. I don’t usually like corn in anything but this is delicious.”

It was a nice Thanksgiving, even if we didn’t get to spend it with our own family. After numerous compliments on the corn casserole, I’ll have to insist it becomes a permanent staple in the Thanksgiving meal. Now that I can make it I feel like I can contribute something more to turkey day than just updating family members on the football scores. 

Black Friday Madness

The holiday season officially kicked off this week, not only with Thanksgiving, but also Black Friday: two events that bring people together for very different reasons. One day involves the gathering of people to share love, thanks and sustenance while the other involves the gathering of people to share excitement, eagerness and consumerism. But for some reason, these two events are getting closer and closer together.

Remember the good old days when stores would open at 5 am? Then a couple of years ago it became 3 am. Then last year, Walmart decided to beat everyone to the finish line (or starting line) and open at midnight. But even that didn’t last long. This year it decided to open on Thanksgiving at 10 pm along with Toys “R” Us. Many other major retail stores like Best Buy and Target opened at midnight and next year they will probably both follow Walmart and open earlier.

The question is what’s the cutoff? When do we start saying, “This is getting ridiculous.” We need time to digest our turkey, mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie.” But more importantly, we need to separate the day we reflect on the things that make us thankful, with the day we decide is the day to save money and buy things to make others happy. I’m all for grabbing the best deal possible, but can’t we allow a wider gap between the very different types of consumption; what’s the rush?  At the very least, we should separate the two days for the people who have to work on Black Friday. They should be able to eat a nice Thanksgiving meal, sleep like a baby to recharge the batteries and get up the next morning rejuvenated for the craziest day of the year.

U of O Introduces New Version of UOregon App

It seems like everyone has a smartphone these days, and with that comes apps. We’ve endlessly played the fun apps like Angry Birds and Scrabble, but there are also more useful ones we can apply to school. The latest UOregon app, built by students and staff in the geography department’s InfoGraphics Lab and the Office of Web Communications, allows students to not only search the UO Libraries catalog, but also map the search result and be able to know precisely where a book is located in the Knight Library.

Besides the new mapping system, the UOregon app also has UO news headlines, public events, emergency information, the UO’s online find people directory and social media links. Any high school students interested in checking out the university can also take digital walking tours of the campus.

It’s amazing how far we’ve come with technology. When I first stepped foot on campus I was given a paper map of the campus to try and find buildings and classrooms. Finding a book in the library involved typing in a long number and then walking aimlessly down aisles in search of it. That was only a few years ago. Now anyone can summon a particular book, find it, and avoid making eye contact with the same person five times and get back to studying. Imagine where we’ll be in another five years. Will we need to go to the library at all?

‘Twilight’ Film Causes Seizures 

WARNING: you may need a doctor while watching this film.

Now I know the reason I’ve avoided seeing any of the Twilight movies. A woman in Seaside, Oregon went to see The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1, and had a seizure near the end of the film. Apparently during a birth scene, flashes of red, black and white occur on screen. These combinations of colors trigger a condition known as photosensitive epilepsy. Oregon isn’t the only state affected by this unusual event. Incidents have been reported in Salt Lake City and Sacramento.

After reading these reports, I now have an excuse for any future girlfriend trying to drag me to see it. Millions of people love these books and movies and for these strange incidents to be occurring is unfortunate. Luckily there’s only one more movie to go in this series. After that, boyfriends will be forced to go to chick flicks, but at least they won’t have to worry about leaving the theater on a stretcher.

U of O Basketball Player Quits Team

I thought athletes were flocking to the University of Oregon. Apparently that doesn’t extend beyond the football team. On Sunday, news broke that freshmen Jabari Brown had told Ducks coach Dana Altman he was leaving the program. Reasons for Brown’s departure are still unclear, but the Ducks were counting on the highly touted recruit as a major step towards turning around a basketball program that hasn’t competed in the NCAA tournament in three years.

The recent national success of the football team had cast a shadow over the basketball program. But with the new arena and unique floor design being built, focus had started to shift slightly towards basketball again. Despite playing heavy minutes in the two games he played, Jabari was reportedly “frustrated,” and decided that was it.

Losing a five-star recruit is big, but so far the Ducks have seemed unfazed, going 3-1. But it’s still early -not only for the team, but for Brown’s status on the team. Altman said he is leaving the door open for Brown to return. But even then it’s going to take a lot more than a talented freshman to turn the program around. Brown’s recruitment was the first step towards doing that. Without him, they may have taken another step back.

Local Theater Watch

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Ryan Beltram, EDN

It’s a slow week in local theater. Many productions ended last week and as you can imagine, everyone is focused on stuffing their faces with turkey, mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie. But not everyone is taking a break this week:

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The Actors Cabaret of Eugene is continuing its production of A Christmas Carol. Following a Thanksgiving break, the play will resume Nov. 25 and 26 at 7:30 p.m. and again on Dec. 2 for another two weeks of shows.

For anyone who isn’t familiar with Charles Dickens’ classic story, A Christmas Carol follows holiday grump Ebenezer Scrooge who is awakened on Christmas Eve by spirits who reveal to him his own miserable existence, missed opportunities during his youth and his current cruelties towards everyone around him. During the night before Christmas, the spirits warn him of the dire fate that awaits him if he does not change his ways. Scrooge must decide what his own future will hold: death or redemption.

A Christmas Carol

Dickens’ story has been interpreted many times both on stage and screen. George C. Scott, Patrick Stewart and Kelsey Grammer have all portrayed the notoriously grumpy holiday character Scrooge. The most recent incarnation of the story came out two years ago with Robert Zemeckis’ motion-capture version starring Jim Carrey as Ebenezer Scrooge. While claiming to be the closest interpretation to Dickens’ story, the animated film was far too dark and lifeless to become a holiday staple.  

Personally I prefer Richard Donner’s version Scrooged, starring Bill Murray. Murray’s character isn’t named Scrooge, but the character of Frank Cross embodies the same traits: selfishness, arrogance, cruelty. It’s not quite as dark as the other versions of the story, and with Murrary as the star, many scenes are more humorous than scary or dark.

So while you won’t get Bill Murray, Jim Carrey or George C. Scott performing on stage, at least there’s something for local theater fans this week.

Ticket prices for A Christmas Carol:

Dinner and the show, $41.95

Brunch and the show, $36.95

Prime reserved seats (section C), $27.00

Matinee prime reserved seats (section C), $24.00

Reserved seats, $24.00

Matinee reserved seats, $21.00

Restricted view seats, $16.00

Local Cinema Watch

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Ryan Beltram, EDN

It’s Thanksgiving week so not a whole lot of new stuff debuting at your local cinemas. The Bijou has a French drama opening, while David Minor debuts a summer blockbuster on Friday.

At the Bijou this week.

The Hedgehog: Drama – 2009 – 100 Min. – Not Rated. Starts Friday, Nov. 25 at 2:15, 2:45 and 7 pm through Sunday.

The Hedgehog

Paloma is a serious but deeply bored 11-year-old who has decided to kill herself on her 12th birthday. She views everyone and everything around her with a pessimistic and hypocritical view and decides her future won’t get any better. Using her father’s old camcorder to chronicle her view on the world, Paloma begins to learn about the rest of life from the grumpy building concierge, Renee Michel, and discovers that maybe her trivial complaints about life are not as bad as she thought.

Still Playing at the Bijou:

Take Shelter: Showing at 7:30 pm Wednesday and Thursday. Shows at 2:45 and 7:45 pm Friday-Sunday.

Midnight in Paris: Showing at 5 pm Wednesday and Thursday. Friday – Sunday showing at 5:30 pm.

The Skin I Live In: Showing at 5:25 and 8 pm Wednesday and Thursday. Showing at 9:15 pm Friday – Sunday.

At David Minor this week, one new film debuts.

Super 8: Sci-Fi/Thriller – 2011 – 112 Min. – Rated PG-13. Debuts on Friday, Nov. 25 at 5:25 and 9:40 pm.

In Super 8, during the summer of 1979, a group of friends set out to make a zombie movie using a Super 8 camera. While filming at a train station, they witness the cause and aftermath of a train derailment. Shortly after, unusual disappearances and strange events begin to happen due to something that escaped from the train. The local deputy tries to uncover the truth while dealing with the government’s attempt to hide what’s really going on.

Super 8

Super 8 is a nostalgic trip back to early Steven Spielberg films including Close Encounters of the Third Kind. The director of E.T., J.J. Abrams, attempts to make an old-fashioned summer blockbuster focusing on characters over spectacle. While the film was better than most blockbusters this summer, it still felt disappointing. Abrams seemed to focus more on making the film remind us of an old Spielberg classic than making his own original movie.

The film features good performances by the child actors and a couple of spectacular action sequences. But the father-son relationship at the heart of the story could have been developed more, and the alien creature didn’t seem interesting or original.

Still Playing at David Minor:

Beginners: Showing at 5:30 pm Wednesday, and at 7:35 pm Friday, Nov. 25-30.

Horrible Bosses: Showing at 5:30 pm Wednesday, and at 9:40 pm Friday, Nov. 25-30.

Crazy, Stupid, Love: Showing at 9:30 pm Wednesday, and at 7:35 pm Friday, Nov. 25-30.

Water For Elephants: Showing at 7:25 pm Wednesday, and at 5:25 pm Friday, Nov. 25-30.

Edward Scissorhands: Final showing is on Wednesday, Nov. 23 at 7:25 pm.

David Minor Theater will be closed on Thursday for Thanksgiving.

Where Did the Week Go…

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— Ryan Beltram, EDN

Earlier this week I was at work when a teenager came up to me and asked, “Do you have any Mac Miller?” I racked my brain trying to figure out if I knew who that was. I’m still young. I’d like to think I still have a handle on the hip, cool music scene. After a few seconds I said,

“I’m not aware of that artist. I haven’t seen anything from him here.” The teenager, looking like she returned from an ’80s Madonna concert, turned around with her curly, blonde-streaked hair and black eye liner and gave me a look of sheer evil. I could imagine her thinking, “What?! How do you not know Mac Miller? What’s wrong with you?”

It was at that moment that I thought of two thing: either I’m never having children or that was my first realization of the early stages of being old and out of touch. From my observation, as you get older you become less and less open to new forms of entertainment because you’ve spent years cultivating your own personal taste in things like movies and music. I’d like to think that before I reach 30, I’ll still have a grasp of what’s trending with the kids these days and hopefully this type of incident is rare.

So much for Eddie Murphy’s comeback

Speaking of tastes that I used to enjoy — Eddie Murphy. Remember the old Eddie Murphy? The one who used to be edgy, raw and funny. We haven’t seen that Eddie in quite some time. In fact, you might have to go all the way back to 1999’s Bowfinger as the last funny movie he’s been in. For more than a decade he got lost in family movies, animated movies and movies where he puts on fat suits.

I mention this because two weeks ago it appeared the old Eddie was back. He had a new movie coming out, and in a recent interview with Rolling Stone he said he was tired of family movies and wanted to return to “edgy stuff.” What better way to make your triumphant return than costarring with another funny man Ben Stiller in Tower HeistThe movie got good reviews and it looked like a sure box office hit.

On top of a promising movie coming out, it was announced that Murphy would be hosting the Oscars this year, thanks to the producer of this year’s telecast and Tower Heist director Brett Ratner. Murphy was going to make us forget about the James Franco/Anne Hathaway debacle last year. But it’s amazing what happens in just two weeks.

Ratner used a homophobic term in describing rehearsals during the shooting of the film and was removed as producer of the Oscars. Soon after, Murphy dropped out of hosting, and to top it all off, Tower Heist underperformed at the box office. So much for Murphy’s big comeback. The shame of it is Tower Heist is good and Murphy is good in it. Let’s hope he forgets about the last two weeks and continues to tackle “edgy stuff,” as he puts it. We all want the old Eddie back. The one where we leave the kids at home.

Oregon Photography Auction

Since the beginning of November, the Emerald Art Center in Springfield has been exhibiting a collection of photographs for the public to see. Many of the photographs were taken right here in Oregon, and today (Nov. 20), the center presented the 34th annual Photography at Oregon Auction. The pieces in this collection range from old black and white stills to more recent color shots of places like Siuslaw and Portland. The preview began at 1 pm, and was followed by the auction at 2 pm.

Established in the 1960s by former professor Bernie Freemesser, Photography at Oregon (PaO) has presented exhibits and lectures at the Museum of Art at the University of Oregon, and other locations in the Eugene/Springfield area. But since 2009, the exhibits and auction have been held at the Emerald Art Center.

Photography is a terrific medium and the PaO has held wonderful exhibits in the past. I got to see one as a freshman in college, and I encourage anyone interested in photography to check out the auction on Sunday. It’s always interesting to see what particular photographs draw the most interest and receive the most bids.

RIP NBA Season 

It’s going to be a long winter. As a diehard NBA and Blazer fan, I was disheartened by the news this week that the players and owners couldn’t agree on a new deal. If there’s any season at all, it will be shortened and won’t begin until next year — and that’s being optimistic. But something dawned on me during this last month of no NBA basketball. What about college hoops? Normally I don’t start following college ball until late February in anticipation of the NCAA tournament.

But I need basketball this time of year and if I can’t get pro ball, I’ll gladly settle for college kids competing. At least I know they won’t be worried about how much money they will or won’t be making while playing. This gives me an opportunity to follow the Oregon schools a little more closely. Oregon just got their first win of the season, and don’t look now, but Oregon State is 4-0.

There may or may not be an NBA season this year, but at least I’m getting some form of basketball. Go Ducks!!!

Where Did the Week Go…

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Greetings, readers of EDN. The head honcho at EDN asked me if I was interested in writing a weekly column on the entertainment scene in the Eugene/Springfield area. Every week I tell you what’s playing at your local cinemas, but now they’ve asked me to share my opinion on what’s good, bad or just interesting – sort of a recap of the week in entertainment. So this will be my first entry. Hope it goes well and I hope you come back next week.

My parents and grandmother spent the weekend with my sister and me. It’s my sister’s birthday today and usually she likes to stretch her birthday celebration beyond the big day. So this year it began on Friday and lasted the whole weekend. We went out to dinner on Friday, and on Saturday we had a Thanksgiving-style dinner and watched the Ducks pummel Stanford. It was a nice little weekend filled with parents, presents and pumpkin pie. So while I was busy entertaining the family, there was a lot going on this week.

Modern Warfare 3

If you’re a male between the ages of 17 and 30, then Christmas came early this year with the release of Modern Warfare 3 on Tuesday. Fans were lined up outside Best Buy in Springfield for the midnight release, and as predicted it’s getting rave reviews and will probably obliterate sales from the previous game in the series: Call of Duty: Black Ops.

Personally, I’ve grown a little tired of military first-person shooters. If I’m going to pay $60 for a new game, I want to be able to enjoy it on my own without some 10-year-old in Florida kicking my ass on X-Box Live. Judging by the last few Call of Duty games, the single-player campaign on MW3 probably looks, sounds and lasts about as long as a Michael Bay movie. But I am closer to 30 than 17 so maybe this is just the first stage of maturity.

(sub) Urban Projections

Last year there was a great little documentary called Exit Through the Gift Shop. It was about an eccentric man who set out to make a documentary about the mysterious street artist known only as Banksy. As the film progressed, the man became more and more interested in creating his own art than profiling Banksy. The film showcased amazingly creative art on buildings, street lamps and signs. What one person might perceive as merely graffiti, another would consider art. With that film in mind, I’d like to make you aware of some street art happening in Eugene right now.

Premiering this past Wednesday and continuing for the following two Wednesdays in November, (sub)Urban Projections is highlighting emerging artists while also celebrating the spirit of Eugene through a digital arts festival. This is a free event that aims to use the buildings we look at every day and create a more vibrant and colorful environment. But instead of secretly painting artwork over buildings Banksy-style, this project focuses on promoting new digital art and media and re-imagining the city of Eugene and the possibilities for public art and space.

This past Wednesday’s event was showcased atop the Hult Center parking garage and featured artist Jon Bellona. Each of the three shows last from 6-9:30 p.m. Next Wednesday it will be held at 5th Ave. and Willamette, near the train depot. The featured artist this week will be Kevin Patton.

If you’re in the mood for some creative, visually amazing digital art then check out these remaining two events. Like I said, they’re free and you will be amazed what artists these days can do with a computer. Every artist needs a canvas. Why not use the boring buildings we drive by everyday?

11/11/11

Friday marked 11/11/11 on the calendar and in anticipation of this rare event, some on the web celebrated this day by watching the cult classic film This is Spinal Tap. The official name for the day was “Nigel Tufnel Day” in reference to the character Christopher Guest played in the 1984 film. The film is a mockumentary following a fictional British rock band on tour called Spinal Tap. The film is endlessly quotable and one of the more memorable scenes is when Nigel is showing the fictional director in the film (the actual director of the film) the amps the band uses. Normally they go up to 10, but Nigel has them go to 11 on the dial. Whether this actually makes the amps louder is beside the point. Eleven is greater than 10 so that means they’re better.

So on Friday, I hope some of you acknowledged that special day that only comes once a century and watched This is Spinal Tap. Although I’m sure you had to turn your televisions up louder than 11.

Kindle adds rental service

With Borders closing here recently and the future of reading moving more and more towards e-readers and tablets, the first company to embrace how we consume books is finally offering its customers the opportunity to read e-books without buying them.

Early last week, Amazon announced a rental service for its online Kindle bookstore for Prime subscribers. If you pay the $79 for a year, you get Amazon Prime which allows you to have packages delivered quicker and free. Subscribers also have access to hundreds of movies and television shows to stream online. Before last week, KIndle customers could only buy books they wanted to read. Now they have the ability to rent one book at a time for free with the Prime membership and not have to worry about a late fee.

The Lending Library

As someone who has a Kindle, this is something I’ve been waiting for for a long time. Most other e-readers give you the option of renting your books at a lesser price. Amazon showcases its e-readers like Apple does its iPods: by selling them as a brand name with an exclusive store. Sure the e-books are sold at a lesser price than if you went into a bookstore, but if I can save a couple extra bucks and just rent it, I’d gladly take that option.

If you’re interested in some books by Oregon authors, a number of Ken Kesey’s work is available in the Kindle bookstore including One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest. If you’re interested in more modern Oregon authors, check out Philip Margolin, whose novels are also available in the Kindle store.

Northwest Women’s Comedy Festival

The Wildish theater in Springfield held its 6th Annual Northwest Women’s Comedy Festival on Saturday. The act featured a dozen female comedians including Sarah Lowe, Ashly Reiss and Virginia Jones. In case the comedians didn’t make you laugh, the theater provided wine and chocolate so you could get a slight buzz off of alcohol and sugar while watching the performers.

I wish I could have attended this. With popular female comedians like Tina Fey, Amy Poehler and Whitney Cummings starring in three of the more popular comedy shows on television, it’s nice to see an event celebrating local comedians as well. It was the 6th time they’ve done this, so it must be funny.

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