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The Conjugal Visitors’ M.D. “Maz” Elsworth is from Kentucky — the Bluegrass State. He says he considers his Eugene band to be the “Cascadian” equivalent to the Appalachian sound he grew up around.

“The epitome of Cascadian, whiskey-land jazz,” Elsworth tells EW, describing his band’s old-timey music, “Cascadian party music.” 

When unimaginable horrors are in the headlines — as they are far too often these days — it’s easy to feel helpless and to wonder what one person can do about so much pain in the world.

“About a week after the UCC shooting [in Roseburg] I was driving my kids to school,” says Eugene writer Rachael Carnes. Carnes, a regular contributor to EW, says the benefit was the brainchild of her daughter, Jane Brinkley. Brinkley, 13, is in the 8th grade at Roosevelt Middle School. Carnes and Brinkley are coordinating “Music Heals: A Benefit for all Victims of Gun Violence.” 

The Eugene Symphony Orchestra continues with the most forward-looking season of any Oregon orchestra in memory this Thursday, Dec. 5, at the Hult Center, with a diverse all-American program that includes the world premiere of Puerto Rican-American composer Roberto Sierra’s Loiza, based on his native country’s famous bomba dance rhythm. 

There’s no one element that stands out in “Opaque.” Smoke Season’s most popular single from 2014’s Hot Coals Cold Souls starts unassumingly, with guitarist Jason Rosen’s reverb-drenched Gibson SG carefully plucking out a G chord.

What is it about the encroaching cold and dark that sends us shivering out into the night in search of a collective theater experience? Local theaters can smell our desire, and like an expert patisserie, they set out the most familiar, uplifting theatrical fare to tempt us.

FAIRGROUNDS SHELTER

Let’s consider the Lane County fairgrounds as a possible site for sheltering the unhoused. The fairgrounds, close to central Eugene and on a bus route to downtown, comprise 55 acres of land, many of which get little use outside the main events held there annually, such as the fair itself, the logging expo, home shows, etc.

Almost all the sheltering projects developed in the last few years are in the Whiteaker neighborhood. It would be fairer to spread the burden throughout Eugene.

Most of us have grown up with the tale of Ebeneezer Scrooge rediscovering his Christmas spirit and, while the story doesn’t change, our relationship to the story does. 

Sometimes life makes Scrooges of us all with its litany of heartbreak, missed opportunities and too much time wasted stressing about careers and money. That’s what makes Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol so immortal. 

I’m a straight female in my mid 20s. I’ve been dating a wonderful guy for two years—but I recently found something that has put me on edge. Before we met, he was in a relationship with a terrible, alcoholic, and mentally unstable woman. They got pregnant early in the relationship and stayed together for about five years. We met a year after they broke up. I felt like I’d come to terms with the ugliness of his past, with his trying to stay in a bad relationship for the sake of his child and the rest of it.

Traditionally, we use our December column to explore wine-related gifting for Christmas. This year, my wife — lovely Kat Chinn, a superb cook — asked, “Whatchagot for Kwanzaa and Hanukkah?” Ooops. She set off a firestorm of eye-opening research.

Recipe for an emotional pummeling: A mother and her 5-year-old son are locked up in a dank shed, held hostage by an evil piece of white shit who makes routine visits for creaky sex acts while the kid counts time, faking sleep in a tiny closet.

World leaders from more than 190 countries will convene in a suburb of Paris during the first two weeks of December for COP21, the 21st conference of the parties — the annual U.N. Conference on Climate Change. Will the governments of the world finally pass a binding global treaty aimed at reducing the most dangerous impacts of global warming … or will they fail in this task?

Letters to the Future, a national project involving more than 40 alternative weeklies across the U.S., set out to find authors, artists, scientists and others willing to get creative and draft letters to future generations of their own families, predicting the success or failure of the Paris talks — and what came after. 

Some participants were optimistic about what is to come — some not so much. We present some of their visions of the future.

Chef Brendan Mahaney sold his popular Eugene restaurant, Belly, to new owners in September, but he already has plans to open another place. 

“I’m dreaming of a casual, New Orleans-style restaurant,” he says.

Contrary to rumors, Mahaney says his choice to sell Belly was “bittersweet,” but not made for any dramatic reason. 

The Kesey Square saga continues: The city of Eugene announced it will issue a “request for expression of interest” (RFEI) for the Kesey Square parcel at Willamette and Broadway, but has not put out an actual decision to sell the square to a public process.

In an email to Mayor Kitty Piercy and the City Council sent Nov. 18, Assistant City Manager Sarah Medary says that city staff is currently “drafting a request for expression of interest, which will more formally ask if there is other viable private interest in redeveloping the parcel.”

Eugene Mayor Kitty Piercy signed on to a West Coast-wide petition Nov. 21 that calls for politicians to halt all new adoption of fossil fuel infrastructure. Using the political momentum behind the Portland City Council’s landmark Nov. 12 vote to ban any new fossil fuel infrastructure in that city, the Sustainable Energy and Economy Network (SEEN) is hitting up mayors in Seattle, San Francisco, Vancouver B.C. and other cities from California to Canada sign the petition. 

After all the anticipatory hubbub over the Young American’s for Liberty Nov. 20 Liberty Poker Night at UO’s Erb Memorial Union — during which the YAL’s local chapter was denied event funding by the UO student government — the tournament itself was a surprisingly tame event. Among the predominantly male crowd, not a single protester appeared.

A member of a homeless family that includes a three-month-old baby, says they were ordered out of their illegally parked family van by Eugene police officers on a cold night Nov. 19, and told their van would be towed. 

Every year the invitations roll in for white elephant parties, which leave some scratching their heads at what to bring. For novices or anyone who has experienced a past party failure, here are some DOs and DON’Ts for your holiday white elephant party. 

Unless explicitly discussed beforehand, EW doesn’t recommend giving pets as gifts. Too often, holiday puppies and kittens grow up to become shelter dogs and cats. 

We do, however, endorse checking out the cute critters made by needle-felt artist Leslie Seese or, better yet, you can learn to make them yourself at her class in December.

What’s this? Twinkly lights wrapped around trees? Christmas songs in stores? People with an inherent lack of holiday cheer raging about red coffee cups? We must be nearing December! 

It’s a time of rampant commercialism, but don’t fear — by buying local, you can find one-of-a-kind gifts for loved ones while also making a contribution to Lane County’s economy. We’ve rounded up some of our favorite gift ideas for all the eclectic characters in your life. Dive in and see what’s out there.

Downtown Springfield is buzzing with revitalization and, as December approaches, the Willamalane Adult Activity Center will soon kick off its annual Holiday Marketplace, bringing together a variety of local artists and crafts people, each with their own twist on the idea of “handmade gift.”

• The Seneca biomass incinerator is back in the news. EWEB President Steve Mital called the 2010 secret EWEB contract a “mistake” in his comments on the Register-Guard website last week. It seems Seneca locked in a long-term price for its electricity generation and now that energy costs have dropped, EWEB is losing money and you and I, the ratepayers, are subsidizing this wood-fired monstrosity. But the real cost in human health is more difficult to quantify.

With the holidays just around the corner, finding the right gifts for family and friends can be a daunting task. But what if I told you this could be accomplished from home, in your pajamas, all while benefitting the local economy? 

When the holidays roll around, families can feel the financial pinch as folks scramble to buy presents while still making ends meet. Local Kayla Powell saw a way to make holiday “shopping” fun again — and the annual “Swap Don’t Shop” began. 

I’ve produced more than 350 art shows, exhibits and events promoting more than 1,200 artists during the past 25 years. The shows include the very popular “Salon des Refusés” from 1991 to 2009, an exhibit of artists refused by the Mayor’s Art Show; the “Salon du Peuple” and “Zone 4 All Shows” from 2007 to the present, open non-juried community art exhibits; and New Zone Gallery members and theme shows from 1998 to the present. All of these were done on a shoestring budget and, recently, without grants.