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November 3, 2008 12:31 PM

I've said it before and I'll no doubt say it again, but this is exactly what YouTube is for: an a cappella tribute to the composer of some of the catchiest themes in film.

I am not ashamed to admit that I shed tears of laughter.

October 29, 2008 06:03 PM

Could Kitty Piercy get an endorsement from Barack Obama in the tight Eugene mayor's race?

Sure, Obama is a little busy right now. But he did do an ad endorsing Jeff Merkley for Senate after Republican Gordon Smith ran misleading ads trying to cozy up to Obama for votes.

Piercy's opponent, erstwhile Republican Jim Torrey, has also tried to cozy up to Obama, using the same "yes we can" slogan.

While he was running as a conservative Republican against State Senator Vicki Walker two years ago, Torrey ran a TV ad cozying to Bill Clinton in an effort to win votes. But the ad backfired and prompted Clinton to endorse Walker.

How did Walker get Clinton to endorse in the local race? The Register-Guard reported, "Walker forwarded the ad to Clinton's New York office. They quickly sent back an endorsement." Simple.

October 29, 2008 11:44 PM

Remember how George Bush, Henry Paulson and other supporters of the $700-billion bailout for banks swore up and down how the taxpayer money was desperately needed so that banks could lend money to main street Americans?

Well, it now appears that's not what the money was really for at all.

The Bush Administration just handed Umpqua Bank, one of the Northwest’s largest financial institutions, $214 million in taxpayer bailout cash.

But as the Oregonian reports :

Umpqua is already well-capitalized, raising questions about whether the institution needed the federal money. "The bottom line is, we probably don't," said Ray Davis, president and CEO of Umpqua Holdings.. Umpqua's Davis said it made sense to accept the money, which will come in handy if the bank decides to buy out a competitor.

The Register-Guard similarly reports :

“We can use it for pretty much anything,” Chief Financial Officer Ron Farnsworth said. “If we need it for lending, we can use it for lending. We don’t need it for that — we have plenty of money for lending (from) deposits. We look at it as an opportunity for increasing our footprint.” What the Treasury is trying to do, Farnsworth said, “is drive consolidation. They want to see the stronger banks acquire the weaker ones.”

So Umpqua doesn’t need the bailout money for lending and won’t use it for that. What it will do is use the taxpayer money to consume smaller competitors, causing big layoffs and making itself too big to fail so Umpqua can then get, you guessed it, more bailouts.

A few years ago environmentalists called for a boycott of Umpqua because some of its biggest owners were old-growth timber barons. After the $214 million taxpayer bailout was announced, those timber barons’ Umpqua stock rose more than 20 percent.

October 28, 2008 01:27 PM

Down in the polls with a week to go, the McCain/Palin campaign appears racked by infighting:

October 27, 2008 01:53 PM

Kitty Piercy now has a TV ad out in the tight mayor's race that describes Jim Torrey as a "right wing Republican."

The folksy ad also notes Torrey's big contribution to George Bush's re-election campaign.

October 24, 2008 10:33 AM

Forget about Joe the plumber, what about Amy the makeup artist and Angela the hairstylist?

The New York Times reports that the McCain campaign pays makeuper Amy Strozzi
$11,400 a week to work on "Carribou Barbie" Palin. That makes Strozzi the highest paid campaign worker on the McCain/Palin payroll.

Joe the plumber makes nowhere near enough to pay more taxes under Obama's tax increase for the rich. But Strozzi might.

Running not far behind the makeup artist is Palin's California hairstylist Angela Lew at $5,000 a week, the Times reports. This on top of reports that the McCain campaign earlier spent $150,000 on designer clothes for Palin.

So much for fiscal conservatism. So much for the average Joe facing mass layoffs. Hundreds of thousands on makeup, hair, designer boots? Think of all the six packs that money could buy.

October 24, 2008 11:06 PM

Kitty Piercy put a big chunk of her limited campaign money into this TV ad in the tight Eugene mayor's race:

With all the excitement about Obama in a town that voted two-thirds Democrat, it's odd Piercy doesn't mention that she is a Democrat that supports Obama and Jim Torrey ran as a Republican and supported George Bush and the Iraq War.

Here's a couple of YouTube ads from North Eugene High School students that don't miss the Torrey-Bush link:

October 23, 2008 11:40 AM

Is it possible there's anyone still unaware of the Twilight Phenomenon? Y'know, that in which legions of screaming fans (mostly female and of all ages) go batshit crazy for Stephenie Meyer's overwritten supernatural romance about a girl who's totally hot but doesn't know it who falls for the hottest guy EVAR — and finds out he's a vampire? Maybe there is. I'm skeptical. I'm also, clearly, not a big fan, though I will freely admit that I tore through the first book and only afterward felt a little dirty about it. Watching the internet fandom explode when the series' fourth book, Breaking Dawn, came out this summer did make for hours of fun, though. As would reading the mountains of fanfiction, if I could bring myself to do so. (I don't really begrudge anyone their fandom ... I just hope they move on to better books when they're done with it. Also, this stuff is just too easy to mock.)

But now, in a mere month, we'll be given Twilight, the movie. And, somewhat perversely, I'm looking forward to it — and not just because it stars the very pretty Cedric Diggory Robert Pattinson, though that doesn't hurt (nor do his bemused comments about the screaming fandom. Oh, RPattz! How charmingly naive you are!). It just looks so ... indulgent? Goofy? Modestly epic? I'm not quite sure. It comes to us from Catherine Hardwicke, who made the praised-by-many, hated-by-me Thirteen, Lords of Dogtown and The Nativity Story, which, hey, it's OK if that's not ringing any bells, because almost no one saw it.

So ANYWAY (tm Klosterman), what put all this in my head was the email that arrived today bearing the tracklisting for (and a link to a stream of) the Twilight soundtrack. Which, well, huh. This is a little wacky. My first impressions are as follows. And when I say first, I mean I'm typing while I listen. Here goes...

1. Muse - "Supermassive Black Hole"
Muse used to sound like fake Radiohead. This, though, has that sort of quasi-industrial feel that's required when your vampires aren't historical. Also, it sounds like it was left over from the soundtrack to The Crow. Hello, falsetto vocals, slightly ominous tone, dance-friendly rhythms? Yeah, I see where we're going with this.

2. Paramore- "Decode"
OK, my pop punk side likes this; at first, it's like the singer from Pretty Girls Make Graves fronting a band on Vagrant. But it's got that reverb-laden Evanescence thing that tries to cover for fairly standard songwriting, and I can't get behind that. Swooning, my-life-is-ending teen angst. Which can be a good thing, but this is too generic in its swoopy faux-gothiness.

3. The Black Ghosts- "Full Moon"
Despite its title, this song is clearly going to play during a scene in the daylight, as it's almost ... cheerful. Acoustic guitars, annoyingly funky bass line, odd strings. OK. It's fine. It's the song no one will remember when they leave, but it's fine.

4. Linkin Park- "Leave Out All the Rest"
Totally nondescript third? fourth?-generation emo (don't get me started on the history of this damn word) that has all the weight of the pop bands that were popular when I was in high school. I'm being mean, but I'm not kidding; this sounds totally manufactured, like Linkin Park is just the singer and a bunch of studio wizards created the music.

5. Mute Math- "Spotlight (Twilight Mix)"
Slightly frenzied, guitar-based pop that reminds me of one or another of those mid-’90s British guitar bands, though I can't pin down which. But with a really sensitive singer. This isn't terrible, but I'm not going to run out and search out the record.

6. Perry Farrell- "Go All the Way (Into The Twilight)"
The first of two truly odd selections. Perry Farrell? And Twilight? It'd be totally awesome if this inspired some 14-year-olds to fall in love with Jane's Addiction, but I'm not holding my breath. But — what — the ...? I take that all back. There's no way anyone is going to draw a line from this dance-beat trifle to "Been Caught Stealing." I'm honestly too boggled to think of anything else to say. Whiny vocals, Farrell alternating with a female singer who sort of talk-sings ... you can almost see the strobe lights on the dance floor.

7. Collective Soul- "Tremble for My Beloved"
And the second odd selection. I can't see the words "Collective Soul" without remembering that video for "Shine" — wasn't that the one with the trees? Regardless, Collective Soul falls into the same place in my head where Candlebox lives: rock bands that never needed to get that famous. Alas. Anyway, this sounds like a certain kind of ’90s college rock updated for the naughty aughties with different guitar effects. Everything on this soundtrack is so slick it's getting hard to pick one song out from the others. But if you asked my 20-year-old self about this — and didn't tell her who it was — she'd probably like it. And that's admitting a lot.

8. Paramore- "I Caught Myself"
Starts well enough, with a pretty guitar bit and the sort of rolling rhythm that tells you this might swell into a crowd-pleasing arena rock song. I like this singer well enough; they need to just let her sing and stop glossing the vocals up, but she has a tiny, believable bit of fury in her voice. It's a little too much, too produced, too easy to imagine it stripped of all sincerity and canned into a pop diva tune. This soundtrack is full of aching hearts and impassioned vocals, but most of them have been polished to a painfully bright gloss. Everything's so damn radio-friendly.

9. Blue Foundation- "Eyes On Fire"
This spare, slightly spacy song from a group of Danes is the most interesting thing to turn up here yet. It requires a little bit of patience; the fragile-voiced singer waits just long enough between some of her phrases that you start anticipating the next line. Eventually, the band starts to fill in the empty space that makes the song intriguing, and it goes a bit more familiar, but it does break the soundtrack's mold; there are no generically distorted guitars to muddy up the feeling of solitude the song conjures up. It's a little Cure-y, especially during a certain part when the drummer goes a little crazy (tell me you don't think Disintegration when that happens!), and a little ... well, a little ’80s, but not in the ways usually thought of.

10. Rob Pattinson- "Never Think"
I read somewhere that while Twilight was filming around Portland, RPattz would occasionally play at bars and such. And I'm still a little mad that no one ever told me where to find him. But whatever. This is a pretty, earnest, acoustic guitar ditty that you'd hear some unassuming fellow on the stage at Sam Bond's break into. Everyone would go quiet, waiting for the vocals to start. And then ... then you'd wonder why the English boy was singing with a sort of mumble-twang. He sounds so shy! It's a sweet, simple, quiet Americana-folk-bedroom-singer-songwriter sort of song, but this kid (he's 22) sings with an unpolished sort of honesty; he sounds nothing like a movie star. And I like that.

11. Iron and Wine- "Flightless Bird, American Mouth"
On this soundtrack, one of these things is not like the other. Sure, the ’90s college rock was odd enough, but Sam Beam turning up — and showing up RPattz by being listed right after him — is possibly even odder. As expected, this song (from The Shepherd's Dog) is heart-tuggingly gorgeous, a musicbox beauty of acoustic guitar and accordion and falsetto that shifts into something a bit more sturdy partway through ... and then the stream craps out on me, which figures. But its very inclusion gives me a little bit more liking for the film's music supervisor, Alexandra Patsavas, who clearly knows how to use an often overwrought, sometimes believably emotional song (so sue me; I love Snow Patrol) to great effect; she works on Grey's Anatomy, among other shows.

12. Carter Burwell- "Bella’s Lullaby"
You can't hate on Burwell, who's done scores for, well, everybody. And "Bella's Lullaby," which reportedly is a theme that runs throughout the film, is just as it should be: a pretty piano melody (which Edward plays for her at some point) that, at varying points, is stripped down and simple or wrapped up strings that provide drama and depth.

The Twilight soundtrack comes out Nov. 4; the movie will be in theaters Nov. 21. I know you can't wait.

EDIT: It seems that other EW, Entertainment Weekly, already had this idea. Their version has more pictures, though. For what that's worth.

October 11, 2008 01:52 PM

With laughably incoherent interviews and a finding Sarah Palin abused her power against a state trooper, many Republicans are regretting John McCain's choice of Sarah Palin as Vice President. But not Oregon Senator Gordon Smith. Here he is in an Oct. 9 debate:

October 7, 2008 01:27 PM

Looks like high price executives are putting the trillion dollar taxpayer bailout of Wall Street to good use. The New York Times reported today:

"A week after the insurance giant, the American International Group, received an $85 billion federal bailout, executives at its life insurance subsidiary, AIG General, held a weeklong retreat at the exclusive St. Regis Resort in Monarch Beach, Calif. Expenses for the week, lawmakers were told, totaled $442,000, including $200,000 for hotel rooms, $150,000 for food and $23,000 in spa charges.

In addition, the former A.I.G. executive who led the London-based
division whose implosion is largely blamed for the insurance giant’s
downfall, Joseph J. Cassano, continues to receive $1 million a month
from the company, on top of the $280 million he received in the last
eight years."

Taxpayers are outraged. Some Congressmen appear outraged. But after hearings showed evidence of similar abuse by Enron, nothing changed.

October 2, 2008 02:56 PM

sprawl

When Jon Ruiz was hired away from an assistant city manager job in Fresno to serve as Eugene's new city manager this year, he defended Fresno's reputation for urban sprawl.

The San Francisco Chronicle profiled the sprawling, "corrupt," "depressing" city at the millennium as "a cautionary tale of planning gone wrong and development gone wild."

But Ruiz said the sprawl reputation had changed. "I think that's been reversed in the last couple years." He said Fresno is now focusing on denser development and alternative transportation to fight bad air pollution. He said he doesn't think developers still run the town.

Not so reported a Fresno Bee investigation this week:

"A 2002 master development plan for Fresno has failed to make good on promises to curb urban sprawl, public records and interviews show."

Here's some more snippets from the Bee:

"'They're turning agricultural districts into low-density housing, which by most people's definition is sprawl,' said Rob Wassmer, a public-policy professor at California State University, Sacramento. Wassmer has written extensively about sprawl in the West, including a report that found Fresno was one of nine California metro areas with the biggest increases in sprawl in the 1990s.

His assessment of Fresno's record in the last six years: "It doesn't look like there's been a concentrated effort to stop sprawl."

"Despite the promises of 2002, 'It looks like business as usual,' said Hal Tokmakian, a former Fresno County planning director and professor emeritus of planning at California State University, Fresno."

"Others contend that sprawl is a sign that Fresno's traditionally cozy relationship with developers has not changed."

"Fresno completed the development plan the same year federal authorities were wrapping up cases from Operation Rezone, which ensnared former City Council members for accepting bribes for land-use decisions. Since then, critics contend, legal money from developers -- service fees and campaign contributions -- has continued to tilt the system in their favor."

"The area covers 50 square miles, potentially expanding the city by 45% to accommodate an anticipated 60% increase in population by 2025,Yovino said.

"By contrast, Sacramento expects to vote on a development plan this year that would keep all but 1% of future growth in its existing city, said Jim McDonald, a senior planner in Sacramento. As part of a nationally recognized effort to curb sprawl, cities in the Sacramento region have agreed to limit suburban growth."

In the coming year, the city of Eugene plans to take up developers' calls to expand the local urban growth boundary to more sprawl

October 2, 2008 05:06 PM

In the pivotal, tight race in Oregon for U.S. Senate, Democrat Jeff Merkley has gone after Republican Gordon Smith for voting for George Bush's Wall Street bailout.

Here's a new Merkeley ad:

October 2, 2008 03:36 PM

Vermont progressive Senator Bernie Sanders echoed local Congressman Peter Defazio's opposition to the Wall Street bailout.

Here's his video: