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EW! A Blog.

May 13, 2009 01:10 PM

Let me gush a second: I pretty much loved Star Trek. It did a lot of things right, and it looked gorgeous, especially to eyes disappointed by the terrible effects in X-Men Origins: Wolverine. I loved Karl Urban as Dr. McCoy the best of all, but John Cho is a respectable Sulu, Sylar Zachary Quinto a perfect Spock (I really only thought of Sylar once, when he glares at the council) and Zoë Saldana a whip-smart Uhura. The bad guy was a little stock, but the time-split really thing works for me.

That said, I've got some nits to pick. So if you've seen the film, well hey, shall we discuss? Let's!

Hey, That Was One Timely Distress Signal!
Isn't it nice for Kirk how his hearing gets interrupted by an event that lets him go on to prove himself fit to be the bestest most awesomest captain ever?

Hey, I Forgot About What That Drill Does...
It is a MAJOR point of the planet-eating drill that, somehow, it doubles as a transmission jammer. Why, then, do our heroes forget this when they make their saving-Earth plan, which relies in large part on transmissions and the ability to beam people hither and yon? (The abridged Star Trek also considers why the good guys didn't just torpedo the damn thing, but I think maybe they were going for the sneak attack...)

Hey, There Are a Lot of Dudes Here
Space: The final frontier for the endless sausage fest. I'm not asking that Scotty suddenly change genders, or that Kirk not try to pick up every lovely lady he sees. I'd just like to see a few more women in roles that don't involve getting hit on (or bedded) by Kirk. As for Uhura, I love her: I love, love, love how her intelligence is emphasized, and how key her talents are. But I also sympathize with her for that damn tiny skirt she's stuck in (this is one point on which I completely agree with Roger Ebert, whose review I otherwise find a bit codgery). Worse than the skirt, though, is her relationship with Spock, which feels shoehorned into the film like someone's flawed idea of What Will Bring In Female Viewers. It's unnecessary and awkward and reduces the lone woman in the main cast to doing little (after, I must acknowledge, her totally vital transmission reception — which, I must also note, happens offscreen) but trying to comfort poor sad Spock (whose sadness I didn't get to touch on in tomorrow's review, unfortunately — but then again, the movie doesn't do much with the reality of the destroyed Vulcan homeworld either). I'm hoping that J.J. Abrams — who has a pretty good track record when it comes to female roles in his TV shows (Felicity, Alias, Lost, Fringe) — was just sticking safely with this part of Trek canon for movie one, and will improve on it for future films (which I really do hope he's making).
(See also: Dawn Taylor at Cinematical; Melissa Silverstein at Women in Hollywood; Jennifer Weiner at The Huffington Post; Sady Doyle at The Guardian.)

Hey, That Looks Like It Came From Galaxy Quest!
Oh, Scotty. I love Scotty, even though he's been saddled with what someone quite aptly referred to as a granite Wookie sidekick (my viewing companion described Scotty's wee friend as "just on the R2D2 side of Jar Jar Binks"). But when Scotty slightly flubs it when he beams himself and Kirk onto the Enterprise, the script totally flubs it by sending him down a water pipe ... on the way to what looks like a giant fishbowl full of spinning razorblades — with a convenient and clearly labeled emergency hatch just before it!

If this isn't an actual conscious shoutout to Galaxy Quest, then frankly I have no idea what the writers were smoking.

Hey, Let's Not Guard Future!Spock's Shiny Spaceship!
There's kind of an explanation for this one: In this timeline, Scotty only just learned the equation for transporting at warp speed, so you might think Nero assumes there's no reason to guard the totally functional ship carrying all his red matter: No one can get to it unless they're fairly close to his ship in the first place. But wait! Nero comes from the future. In the future/alternate timeline, it's safe to assume people know how to transport at warp speed, because the Spock from the future gives this information to Scotty (I kind of have a problem with this, too, but whatever). So wouldn't he think that maybe someone could just beam onto his ship and run off with Spock's pretty spinny ship — just like Spock does?

Hey, Let's Hang Out By This Pretty Black Hole!
All that said, the dumbest moment by far was when smarty-pants Captain Kirk apparently thinks it's a grand idea to hang out and watch Nero's ship get consumed by what we have to assume is a black hole the size of several galaxies. It took a tiny dot of the mysterious, hey-science-is-complicated "red matter" to suck up an entire planet; what's that giant ball of the stuff going to do? I know: Let's wait around and see!

I actually thought for a minute that the Enterprise was going to get sucked through the hole and wind up back in the canon timeline. Honestly.

But despite all those complaints, I still loved the movie. I may also love picking at it like this. A love fed by nitpicks? I guess anything is possible.

For another kind of nitpicking, might I suggest Discovery's Bad Astronomy blog, which cheerfully takes on the science of the film? I'm particularly fond of:

But who knows what happens if you make a [cue creeeeeepy music] RED MATTER black hole. Maybe in those all kinds of weird things can happen, like Firefly was never canceled and the finale of Battlestar made sense. Crazy!

May 13, 2009 10:48 AM

Does The Register-Guard editorial board read its own newspaper?

On Nov. 18, 2007 the R-G reported that the police officer who shot and killed a psychotic Ryan Salisbury “said the stun gun would not have helped that night.”

Today an R-G editorial uses the Salisbury death as its major justification for endorsing more taser use by the Eugene Police.

But while the editorial writers apparently don’t read the newspaper’s news stories, they do appear to read their own editorials. The editorial today cuts and pastes the phrase “lengthy, methodical and laudably consultative” in praise of police taser use from a Feb. 2, 2008 editorial.

May 13, 2009 04:09 PM

What’s more extreme, a young buff athlete performing extreme sports or the typical American couch potato being able to hop over a street curb without serious injury?

One is certainly more funny. Join the 32,000 people who’ve seen this local video and be the judge:

May 13, 2009 11:20 AM

Be patient just a little bit longer, Zenon fans. We learned — just a little too late to squeeze it into this week's paper — that the new Café Zenon will open next Friday, May 22 (not May 15, as was previously their hope).

Owner Ibrahim Hamide says he and his staff "would have been panting and sweating" if they opened May 15. "We didn't want to present the first impression that way," he says.

Hamide says this opening date is certain, "unless the sky falls." The other thing that's certain? The new restaurant will definitely keep the Zenon name.

May 6, 2009 01:18 PM

Local cyclists are wowing on this urban bike parkour video from Scotland:

April 30, 2009 12:37 PM

May 1, I hear, is Buy Indie Day. The idea, as described at Indiebound, is simple: "Buy one book — paperback, hardcover, audiobook, whatever you want! — at an independent bookstore near you." (Those of you on Facebook can check out the movement's Facebook page, too.)

If you're still reading this, you doubtless are familiar with Eugene's fine independent booksellers: Tsunami Books, Black Sun Books, Smith Family Books, the UO Bookstore (still not calling it the Duck Store), Windows Booksellers (which I've actually never been in) and J. Michaels. You can also get books at The Kiva, of course, or order online from an online shop (there's this one in Portland you may have heard of?).

Conveniently, tomorrow is also the first day of J. Michaels' 34th anniversary sale, which a colorful little postcard emphasizes is their ONLY sale of the year. The sale runs through Saturday, May 9, but if you swing by on Friday evening, you can add snacks and wine to your indie shopping experience.

Whichever store is your favorite, there's a lot to be said for something like Buy Indie Day — not least of which is that you'll come out of it with something new to read. Should you be unsure what to buy, let me recommend a few recent favorites, all (this time) in a fantasy-fiction sort of vein. Sort of:

• The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman. A timeless story about a boy raised by ghosts, told in Gaiman's personable, charming prose, sly and impossibly precise, like the story always existed this way and Gaiman just happened to snare it, to gently press it into his lovely book. I'm not ashamed to say I teared up at the end of Bod's story, and I do hope it continues.

• Midnight Robber by Nalo Hopkinson. A sci-fi novel, but only at the outset; Midnight Robber moves quickly from the Caribbean-colonized planet of Toussaint to its parallel world, New Half-Way Tree, where criminals are sent into exile, forced to make their way without technology. Tan-Tan winds up on New Half-Way Tree with her father, whose sour, drunken assaults on Tan-Tan eventually send her into the bush, where she lives with the planet's native population. Since reading this, I've been nabbing Hopkinson's other books from the library just as fast as I can; I can't get enough of her engrossing, vivid writing and her beautiful, dangerous worlds. (I've only finished one other so far, but I can also heartily recommend Brown Girl in the Ring, in which the dangerous world is our own.)

• Palimpsest by Catherynne M. Valente. The title of Valente's new book refers to a city you can only reach by sleeping with someone who's been there. It's fantastical and yet entirely physical; you can only visit the part of the city that appears like a tattoo on your lover's body; you will only find yourself there at night, like a dream. But it's not a dream. Four characters swirl around each other in this story, each shaped and marked by loss, each finding something they may or may not have known they were missing in this strange city, where a river flows with coats and a house grows for the woman who will inherit it. I recommend reading this one on a train, not just in solidarity with the train-loving character Amaya Sei, but because it might make you feel appropriately exposed when the stranger in the seat next to you peers over your shoulder as you read yet another sex scene — but it's not just about sex! It's about travel, exploration, a different kind of anticipation — and you find yourself wondering what exactly they're thinking about this small, seemingly innocuous book you're reading so intently.

April 30, 2009 11:56 AM

The UO just cancelled the championship hopes of its ultimate frisbee team over nudity at an OSU match.

But the UO hasn't taken any action to cancel Nike's huge presence on campus due to this act of naked corporate commercialism:

Maybe if frisbee boosters could donate a few hundred million dollars, the UO wouldn't be so prudish.

Or maybe the frisbee solution is official uniforms with swoosh-shaped gourds:

Clever Nike designers could probably come up with something less scratchy and more swooshy, call it the Schwing 6.0.

April 26, 2009 10:02 AM

Congratulations to Eugene's Nina Kiriki Hoffman for winning a Nebula Award — the awards given by the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America — for her short story "Trophy Wives."

Another Eugenean, Kate Wilhelm, was one of three winners of the Solstice Award, which was created last year and is given to a writer "who has had a significant impact on the science fiction or fantasy landscape, and is particularly intended for those who have consistently made a major, positive difference within the speculative fiction field."

The rest of the winners are listed here at Locus. Oregon did pretty darn well, what with Ursula K. Le Guin also winning for her young adult novel Powers. I don't think I missed any other Oregonians, but please correct me if I did!

April 24, 2009 10:30 AM

Taser victim Ian Van Ornum was sentenced today to 80 hours of community service, 18 months of probation and $500 in attorney fees plus court costs.

A jury last week found Van Ornum guilty of the misdemeanor crimes of slowing traffic (disorderly conduct) and resisting arrest at an anti-pesticide protest last May. Many witnesses have accused the police of brutality in the arrest.

Police video in the case shows that Van Ornum was tasered twice in the back while he lay face down on the ground with his arms pinned under his side or held behind his back. Van Ornum's doctor testified that he suffered a concussion.

Van Ornum's attorney Laura Fine said an appeal of the verdict will be filed, but declined further comment.

Reviews by the Eugene Police Department internal affairs unit, the independent Eugene police auditor and civillian review board and a likely civil lawsuit remain pending in the incident.

Judge Jack Billings cited incriminating testimony for the prosecution by passers by as significant. He did not mention testimony for the defense from passers by that Van Ornum had done nothing illegal. “The jurors found you were lying,” Billings told Van Ornum.

Van Ornum’s sentence appears stiffer than those in other similar cases. Last year two protesters convicted of the more serious crime of attempted assault of the police officer who tasered Van Ornum were sentenced to 40 hours of community service. This month three UO basketball players convicted of shooting an air gun at ducks in Alton Baker Park were sentenced to 30 hours of community service.

April 22, 2009 12:55 PM

The Eugene City Council voted 6-2 today to move forward with spending $16 million in reserves to move the police department to a commercial office building across the river next to the Eugene Country Club.

The motion was to bring back a purchase option for the privately owned building. “It’s the next logical step,” said Councilor Alan Zelenka.

The council vote defies the will of the voters who have defeated ballot measures for a new police station three times. Councilors Betty Taylor and George Brown opposed the motion. Councilors Alan Zelenka, George Poling, Jennifer Solomon, Chris Pryor, Andrea Ortiz and Mike Clark voted for it. Mayor Kitty Piercy votes only in case of a tie and did not take an intelligible position on the controversy.

April 20, 2009 04:39 PM

Eugene police arrested Dennis R. Thaut this morning, alleging that the 65-year-old securities investor had run a Ponzi scheme out of First Security Financial, according to a press release.

Police alleged Thaut's Ponzi scheme, run out of a prominent historic Victorian house on East 11th Ave., defrauded at least 20 mostly elderly victims of tens of thousands of dollars. Police arrested Thaut on 17 counts of Aggravated Theft in the First Degree.

April 17, 2009 04:39 PM

In a dramatic departure of longstanding city policy against urban sprawl and for supporting downtown and keeping it safe, Eugene City Manager Jon Ruiz told the city council Thursday that he wants to move the entire Eugene police department out of downtown to a commercial office building across the river in North Eugene.

Ruiz said in a memo to the council that he would buy the isolated office building at 300 Country Club Road surrounded by surface parking lots from a private developer for $16 million. He said he would then spend $6 million more to move all city hall functions out of the current city hall building and into downtown space rented from other developers.

The $22 million expenditure plus unidentified millions more in annual rent payments and moving costs comes as the city has announced it will cut back on services to citizens and increase fees to close a widening budget gap of at least $12 million due to the deep recession. New offices, particularly free of downtown employee parking fees, is a top priority of city staff, but polls have shown taxpayers oppose the expenditure.

The Eugene City Council plans to vote on the big change in years of city hall planning without a public hearing on Wednesday. Based on past positions, the vote could be close.

April 16, 2009 01:46 PM

The jury went out for deliberation at about 2:30 pm today in the case of taser victim Ian Van Ornum.

The Eugene police have accused Van Ornum of slowing traffic and resisting arrest at an anti-pesticide protest last May. Many witnesses have accused the police of brutality in the arrest.

Police video in the case shows that Van Ornum was tasered twice while he lay on the ground with his arms pinned under his side or held behind his back. Van Ornum's doctor testified that he suffered a concussion.

April 16, 2009 04:09 PM

Police cell phone, dispatch and taser time stamps contradicted a Eugene police sergeant’s testimony that Ian Van Ornum caused a long traffic back-up during an anti-pesticide protest last May.

Van Ornum is on trial for allegedly slowing traffic (disorderly conduct) and resisting arrest at an anti-pesticide protest last May. Many witnesses have accused the police of brutality in the arrest. Police video in the case shows that Van Ornum was tasered twice in the back while he lay on the ground face first with his arms pinned under his side or held behind him by police.

Eugene Police Sergeant Bill Solesbee testified at the trial that before the arrest Van Ornum backed up traffic two blocks. The police officer swore under oath that it took him seven to 15 minutes to drive through the backed up traffic to the Broadway and Willamette plaza.

But police cell phone records and taser gun time stamps obtained by the defense indicate such a delay is impossible.

Solesbee’s cell phone records and police dispatch records indicate that Solesbee called police dispatch at 1:12 pm before leaving for the protest. Police taser gun time stamps indicate that Van Ornum was tasered by another officer while Solesbee was arresting him at 1:16 pm. That’s four minutes later, not the seven to 15 minutes Solesbee testified.

Defense lawyer Laura Fine pointed out that in the documented four minutes, Solesbee testified that he drove to the scene, talked to Van Ornum for about 30 seconds, drove around the block, parked and moved Van Ornum across the street.

Under cross examination Solesbee admitted, “I’m really not very good on time as you can see by my testimony.” But Solesbee maintained the traffic delay was “outrageous.”

Fine told the jury in her closing argument that the documented discrepancies should cast doubt on Solesbee’s entire testimony that Van Ornum was slowing traffic and resisting arrest. “He can’t be relied on.”

Prosecutor Bob Lane shrugged off the time discrepancy in his closing. Lane said that actor John Belushi’s watch was not accurate in the movie Animal House.

The jury has been deliberating on a verdict since 2:30 pm today.