Via Cute Overload, which owns my soul.
Via Cute Overload, which owns my soul.
No, not that season. What kind of crabby, no-holiday-spirit person do you take me for? I mean truffle season, which must clearly be nearly upon us, as the following two things came to my attention in the last two days:
1. The Oregon Truffle Festival has announced its dates and new location for 2008: January 25-27 at the Valley River Inn. The usual array of amazing-sounding, truffle-centric events awaits your nose and palate, including truffle growers' forums, dinners, wine pairings and more. This year, I totally lucked out and got to go to the Grand Truffle Dinner, which featured course after course of astonishing truffle-involving dishes; I've since forgotten which wonderful chef created which dish, but I think the incredible truffle pear tarte tatin with sour cream puff pastry, roasted hazelnuts and truffle honey ice cream was a MarchÃ© creation. Anyway, point is, if you've got a couple hundred dollars just sitting there and you want to spend it on food? You could do worse.
Looking for that triple bottom line?
The Grist website did some muckraking to get the real poop on green toilet paper:
"The bottom line: You can protect your bum without being a bummer for the earth. For maximum absorbency and (guilt-free) comfort, we suggest Seventh Generation double rolls."
Ah, but should we trust a bathroom tissue reviewer named "Grist?"
For the full review and even more scatological puns click here .
Just after EW went to press with this week's cover story on John Kroger, the outsider hoping to shake up the Oregon AG's office, Kroger announced that he'd been endorsed by former Gov. John Kitzhaber. Read the press release here .
The Kitzhaber endorsement balances the endorsement by current Gov. Ted Kulongoski of Kroger's Democratic primary opponent Rep. Greg Macpherson.
So I can't blog about last night's Heroes episode because the men's basketball game ran long and I haven't watched it yet. Alas.
The game went well enough, I suppose, but these early games are getting a little dull, and the team seems to be a bit all over the place; one night we're bitching about how Malik Hairston seems to have no fire, no spark, and the next he's taking control of the team. One night we think Kamyron Brown is the next best thing to happen to the Ducks, and the next the ball is slipping out of his fingers. It'll be an interesting season â€” eventually. But these itty bitty games aren't holding my attention as much as I wish they would.
But ANYWAY (tm Klosterman), I came here to type about something else. Something awesome. Something magical. It reminds me of the babe. What babe? The babe with the power. THIS BABE:
Next weekend, starting with a Thanksgiving matinee, the Bijou will be showing LabyrinthÂ â€” a shiny new print, no less. I almost went to Portland when one of the McMenamins was showing a shiny new Labyrinth print ... but now all I have to do is stay up until 2 am to watch it here. Sweet!
But, er, all self-centeredness aside, you really ought to go see the Most Awesome David Bowie Movie Ever Made (no, The Hunger totally doesn't count). Who cares that Jennifer Connelly never talks about having been in this film, like she's for some idiotic reason ashamed of it? Who cares that a few of the effects are laughably dated? The goblins are awesome. The little worm who invites Sarah in for a cup o' tea is awesome. Everything is awesome except the Fierys, who kind of freak me out. The Helping Hands? ("She chose down? She chose DOWN!") Ludo? ("Smell .... BAAAAD!") Hoggle? Nasty little fairies? My mom erupting into hysterical laughter over the Bowie crotch shot? (Oops, sorry; wasn't going to talk about my experience with this brilliant flick anymore.)
There's just so much to love. And to quote. Labyrinth will be showing LateNite at the Bijou Nov. 23-25 and Dec. 1 & 2 and hey, if you want to make it into some kind of Rocky Horror thing? I'm totally game.
This week Willamette Week featured excerpts from their former reporter's book. Taylor Clark wrote Starbucked: A Double Tall Tale of Caffeine, Commerce, and Culture (Little, Brown and Company, 304 pages, $25.99). Clark got an advance to write the book after he wrote a story for Willamette Week that "examined the charges commonly lobbed at Starbucks and found some of them had scant grounds."
Here's some interesting excerpts from WW's excerpts:
Starbucks makes "$7.8 billion in annual revenues," most of which doesn't make it to the third-world people who do most of the work to produce the coffee.
"The past few years have featured the lowest
inflation-adjusted coffee prices in historyâ€”as low as 41.5 cents per
pound, which is far below the growersâ€™ cost of production.
Take a four-dollar cappuccino, for example. According to statistics
from the Specialty Coffee Association of America, only 5 percent of
that price (20 cents) is the cost of the coffee itselfâ€”and thatâ€™s for
roasted coffee, which the coffeehouse has already paid to cook,
package, and ship. In reality, a nickel more than covers the farmerâ€™s
take for that cappuccino; thatâ€™s less than the cost of the cup, sleeve
and lid (7 cents). At a coffeehouse like Starbucks, youâ€™re paying for
dairy products (10 percent, or 40 cents), labor and overhead (71
percent, or $2.84), and, of course, profit (11 percent, or 44 cents).
Upping farmersâ€™ rates significantly would cost the consumer virtually
nothingâ€”but since thatâ€™s not how the free market works, farmers are
Starbucks has made big bucks off an addictive drug, caffeine.
"Which, depending on your opinions about the issue, would make Starbucks the worldâ€™s biggest pusher. The stakes are high for Starbucks in the caffeine debate. Several former and current Starbucks executives told me that they could imagine only one thing that might bring Starbucks down: conclusive scientific evidence that caffeine is unhealthy. If that were to happen, the company would bear a heavy burden; thanks to Starbucks, weâ€™re taking in more caffeine than ever. The company serves the most potent brew in the coffee-house world, which, on a strong day, packs nearly as much caffeine in a single grande cup as three maximum-strength NoDoz caplets."
EW published a review of Starbucked last week here.
Ironically, just as the book came out so did news that Starbucks may have Starbucked itself.
The Seattle Post-Intelligencer reports :
"Dairy prices have skyrocketed, fast-food chains have made it easier
to find a good cup of joe, and traffic in U.S. stores has flattened
amid high fuel prices and turmoil in the housing and credit markets.
Add it all up, and it's dragged the company's stock down nearly 40 percent in the past year....some are wondering if certain U.S. markets have gotten saturated."
Taylor wrote about the "domination" Starbucks has of its market. "Starbucks now owns its market like few other companies in recent
memory. Hereâ€™s a challenge: try to name the number two coffeehouse
chain in America. Any ideas?"
Well, actually, Starbucks isn't the #1 place for coffee any more. After Starbucks showed all the money that could be made, that would now be another big corporationâ€”McDonalds. As the PI reports:
"McDonald's has been testing sweet lattes and other espresso drinks in
800 restaurants across the country this year and on Tuesday announced
plans to roll them out nationally over the next two years. The world's
biggest fast-food chain scored big this spring, when Consumer Reports
ranked its premium coffee No. 1, beating Starbucks, Dunkin' Donuts and
Burger King on taste and value."
I lose at blogging.
But Heroes has been losing at TV, to be honest. Uninteresting new characters, unconvincing romances and a scattered storyline are combining to break down my interest, which breaks my nerdy little heart a little. But all is not lost; the show's creator, Tim Kring, recently told Entertainment Weekly that he knows the show's been sucking (my word, not his).
What I think is wrong is a little different, though: It's just not been making sense. Just this week, we had Suddenly Powerful Matt! and Suddenly Stupid Mohinder! â€” two terrible tastes which do not go well together. A tiny bit of inspiration and Matt understands his powers? A tiny bit of manipulation and Mohinder changes sides, or at least appears to? Please tell me you're kidding.
At least one of the show's sour points has finally come to an end: Hiro is back from Japan. And he's not the only one! (Cue ominous music.) That plotline did nothing but bother me, endlessly, and not least because of its reliance on a princess what needs saving. There is far too much saving of women on your show, Mr. Kring.
Am I repeating myself? Probably. But it's tired, tired, tired stuff to watch over and over again.
What the show does well is build. Last season built toward what could have been a great finale, but then lost its momentum. This season, nothing much has built. Finally, now, we're getting the rebuilding of Peter, the mystery of Elle, the revelation about Adam Monroe (not an iota of surprise there for anyone who read any theorizing, but still fun. And it might be worth noting that now we have an Adam to go with the sadly deceased Eden). We haven't had to suffer through the Wonder Twins and their weak storyline for a bit, which is a relief; I've yet to see them add anything to the show. On the other hand, there's Monica, my new favorite character, who's apparently off training somewhere.
One wonders what will happen when Peter gets that power too.
Anyway, I'm discombobulated from too much to do, but I haven't forgotten about Heroes; I've just forgotten how to blog properly about it. And it's not given me much to work with, lately. I'm almost relieved that this "volume" of the story will come to an end with the December 3 episode, even though I'm worried that this means we won't get satisfactory answers for the mysteries already floating out there. If the entire story of the early generation is "Adam brought us together and then went bad," I'm going to throw things at the TV.
Urban Renewal Defeated
Local vote upsets scheme to divert taxes to developer subsidies
By Alan Pittman
The city of Eugeneâ€™s controversial urban renewal plan to subsidize downtown developers with parking garages and other handouts totaling more than $40 million was rejected overwhelmingly by voters on Nov. 6.
In unofficial final results, 64 percent voted no on Measure 20-134.
The defeat came despite proponents outspending opponents by more than a two-to-one margin. Much of the $49,085 proponents raised came from property owners that hoped to cash in on the cityâ€™s offers to buy downtown buildings for two to four times their assessed real market value and from construction companies that stood to get contracts for the project. Opponents raised only $20,452, much of it from local businesses threatened with displacement or subsidized chain store competition.
â€œWe were completely outgunned,â€ said Councilor Bonny Bettman, a leader in the campaign against the measure.
The defeat also came despite strong backing of the measure by The Register-Guard in editorials and, critics say, slanted news stories.
â€œFor this campaign they abandoned all semblance of objectivity,â€ Bettman said. â€œIt was not just the editorial stance, it was the news stance,â€ she said. â€œThey basically took the proponents' talking points and reiterated them.â€
The R-G repeatedly stated without attribution in news stories that the measure would not raise taxes. But both city finance staff and the county tax assessor wrote that the measure could result in a small tax increase to make up for revenue needed to pay off some existing bonds and levies. Opponents also pointed out that the measure would likely result in larger tax increases as other government services sought to make up for revenue diverted to urban renewal.
The measureâ€™s defeat also came despite the claims of proponents, including all the members of the Eugene 4J School Board, that it would not hurt schools. In fact, about 34 percent of the developer subsidies would be money diverted from state school tax revenue. Statewide, a total of about $165 million a year is diverted for urban renewal.
â€œI was very disappointed in the school board,â€ said Councilor Betty Taylor, a former teacher. School board members shouldnâ€™t be arguing that itâ€™s OK for developers to take money from state school funding, she said. â€œItâ€™s terrible, itâ€™s disgraceful.â€
Bettman said it was â€œscandalousâ€ for the school board members to push to give away school money. â€œIf the school board members think the schools are so flush with moneyâ€ that they can afford to give it to developers, Bettman said, â€œthey sure shouldnâ€™t have students out there hustling money with candy and wrapping paperâ€ fundraisers.
Taylor said voters saw through the proponents' misleading claims. â€œIt was deceptive, but I think Eugene voters are intelligent.â€
The strong vote against tax diversion for developers here could change the future use of urban renewal in Eugene and statewide.
Bettman and Taylor said the city should sunset its existing urban renewal districts downtown and along the riverfront.
Gavin McComas, owner of Sundance Natural Foods and instigator of the 20-134 referral vote, said the city â€œabsolutelyâ€ needs to have a vote whenever it expands its urban renewal plans. â€œI question whether we need to continue with our urban renewal districts.â€
Ending the districts could throw a wrench into schemes by city, EWEB and UO staff to use urban renewal tax diversions to subsidize a new City Hall building and massive development of the riverfront and Franklin Boulevard.
Bettman said the city and school district should lobby for a state bill to allow schools and other impacted taxing districts to opt out of having their funding diverted by urban renewal.
â€œI wish urban renewal statewide could see the light of day,â€ Bettman said. Describing how the â€œsmoke and mirrorsâ€ funding diversion is â€œbleeding money from schools and essential services,â€ Bettman said, â€œurban renewal does not stand up to scrutiny.â€
State Rep. Paul Holvey wrote an email just before the election calling for legislative reform of urban renewal.
Lane County Commissioner Peter Sorenson said the county is working on a legislative proposal to allow counties, which lose money from diversion, to get a vote on urban renewal. â€œWeâ€™re optimistic we can get a bill,â€ Sorenson said.
As for what the city will do now after the defeat of 20-134, Bettman and Taylor said the council should immediately move to approve the Beam Development proposal for remodeling the Center Court with an addition in the adjacent pit and remodeling the Washburne building. The councilors said the city should also move on the T.K. development proposal for condos and retail across from the library and discuss adding a park adjacent to the project. The three projects â€œwould have a big impact,â€ Taylor said.
The fight for the urban renewal measure has left some lasting damage. The city was â€œabsolutely crazyâ€ to spend $345,000 on now mostly useless options to buy property at unrealistic prices, Taylor said.
Bettman said proponents' false campaign rhetoric that downtown is unsafe will hurt efforts to bring more people downtown. They were â€œcreating their own bad PR,â€ she said.
But McComas said proponents should â€œset aside their differences and come togetherâ€ with opponents to create a â€œmore locally oriented and fiscally responsible wayâ€ to improve downtown.
A version of this story was also posted on the Eugene Weekly website here and will appear in the printed paper on Thursday.
The No on 49 campaign warned before the election that if the measure passed:
"If the government wants your property for open space, a scenic view, wildlife habitat, or some other government use, M49 allows them to take your property for free."
After the overwhelming vote for the measure, does this now mean that citizines can add the Wildish Land to Mt. Pisgah park for free? Can citizens now get a park in the Amazon headwaters for free? Can we now seize the timber baron and land speculators' mansions for homeless shelters?
Of course, the timber and land barons that funded the misleading No on 49 campaign may now want to point out the truth: the federal and Oregon Constitutions protect them from property seizure without just compensation.
Disgusted that big tobacco bought the Measure 50 vote against kids' healthcare? Progressive author Frances Moore Lappe says money doesn't have to rule democracy. Check out her video on publicly financed "clean elections" in Maine, Arizona and Connecticut.
I'm thoroughly convinced that the reason I'm not as productive as I ought to be is that my office makes me tired. I got up at 7:30 this morning (I am not. a. morning. person.) to finish the book I'm reviewing for this week and after my cuppa I was awake! Happily perched in a chair reading, with the cat on my lap! I walked to work and peered at a nutria that I really wished was a beaver! For no reason other than a beaver in the middle of an empty lot would be way cooler than a nutria in the middle of an empty lot!
And then I got here and immediately crashed. OK, so, yeah, I refuse to use the fluorescent overhead light, because yuck, so I just have a little lamp, so dark. Yeah. And my window is roughly the size of two pieces of regular notebook paper taped together along the short edge. But I've got to fix this.
Not to mention do something about the piles of books before they tumble over on me. The first review copy of something that doesn't come out until next year just arrived, which is kind of freaking me out.
So, yeah. I dropped the ball on the Heroes recaps. In short: The show got really stupid. Then it got a lot better. Then it got stupid again. Now, lord knows what it'll do, as the Writers Guild of America strike will take its toll on this and every other show (note: I'm not complaining! I'm on the side of the writers, of course. But it's a fact that this is going to disrupt programming all the same). I've read â€” but can't currently find the link for the story â€” that an alternate ending to an upcoming episode was written in advance, and that if the strike can't be resolved, it'll be reshot and turned into a season finale. Which is pretty dire, really.
But shows are always a few weeks ahead, so we'll see a few new episodes, and I will â€” I swear â€”Â recap them. I'll make it a Tuesday morning, first-cup-of-coffee habit.
I tried to do this with Grey's, but I fell off the bandwagon. What is it with TV this season?
The city of Eugene withheld the purchase options list for property downtown until after Eugene Weekly went to press with its last issue before the election on Measure 20-134. The list now shows that the cityâ€™s land purchase costs have increased from earlier estimates of about $16 million to about $19 million now. The purchase prices average about double the real market value the Lane County Tax assessor has set for the properties. The city has offered some owners up to four times the real market value. For the Bradfords building and adjacent one-eighth-block parking lot owned by Diamond Parking Inc., the city purchase option would trade a city parking lot at 12th and Oak thatâ€™s twice as large and pay $290,360 in cash.
For the complete updated Broadway options list, see the end of the updated news story here.
Eugene has a higher percentage of bike commuters than Portland. But in Portland biking is dramatically increasing while its declining in Eugene. Maybe that's because we lack the strong bike advocate elected officials Portland has like Sam Adams.
I'm pretty sure at some point or another, at least a few people I know have, in the throes of a bad day-after, claimed to need a new liver. Perhaps you, too, have friends who've made this somewhat exaggerated claim the day after New Year's Eve, or their birthday party, or, hey, maybe your birthday party.
Well, now you can get them one. And other plush, stuffed internal organs, too. Know someone who needs a heart? Besides the Tin Man and/or the Grinch, obvi.