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November 21, 2013 01:00 AM

A few years ago some friends and I were driving around on a cold wintry day and stopped by a popular place for hot cocoa, just for fun. The waiter, with great aplomb, opened a pack of Swiss Miss into a paper cup! We were astonished, and not just because of the flair with which he tore the paper packet, but because my friend spoke at length on the drive about how great the cocoa at this particular place was. How could she have been so wrong?

November 21, 2013 01:00 AM

An ugly holiday sweater is like eggnog and Macaulay Culkin — once a year they reappear and are enjoyed. “Tis the season, Marge! We only get 30 sweet noggy days. Then the government takes it away again,” Homer Simpson once pined, and few can match Homer’s lust for the holiday spirit(s). Except perhaps for one Derek Zinser, the man behind the inaugural Oregon’s Ugliest Sweater Run 5K on Dec. 15.

November 21, 2013 01:00 AM

Like fragrant pines, candy canes and twinkle lights, The Nutcracker is a perennial symbol of the holiday season. Toni Pimble, artistic director for the Eugene Ballet Company, agrees. Most people tell her that without the ballet company’s annual performance, Christmas just wouldn’t be complete. This December, audiences in Eugene, Corvallis, Salem and across the Northwest are invited to join the dancers of EBC as they journey to the Land of Sweets with Clara (the young, nightgown-clad heroine), the Sugar Plum Fairy and, of course, the Nutcracker Prince for the 32nd consecutive year.

November 21, 2013 01:00 AM

Warren Weathers served as Lowell’s mayor for nearly 20 years, and though he’s hung up his municipal duties, he hasn’t abandoned one very important job: “I have to go out and cut the Christmas tree for inside the bridge,” he says. Weathers grew up in Lowell, and though his early adult years flung him as far as Eastern Oregon and Alaska, when he came back to the area for graduate school, he stayed in Lowell to raise a family of his own. “We try to have fun in Lowell,” Weathers says, “and to celebrate every holiday.” And in this season, that means decorating a beloved old bridge with holiday lights and good cheer. 

October 17, 2013 01:00 AM

We awake to the colossal, bone-shaking roar of 35 lions bellowing in concert. Tucked into our bed, zipped up in a tent, we find each other’s gaze in the dim moonlight — raised eyebrows melt into wide-eyed glee. The nearest beast, a 22-year old lioness named Simba, lies 15 feet from our heads. She, however, saves her snarls for the sun and currently enjoys a deep, guttural snore. We laugh. We have been engaged for eight hours.

October 17, 2013 01:00 AM

You won’t find any lights decorating the exterior of David and Shirley Bridgham’s Coos Bay home this December. That’s because the couple is far too burnt out from months of spreading holiday cheer throughout the decadent formal gardens of Shore Acres State Park for its annual Holiday Lights event.  

October 17, 2013 01:00 AM

“For their anniversary I got my parents a room for a couple nights at the hotel in Prairie City,” my friend James told me last summer. I thought he was kidding. “Oh, so they are going to stay at the ‘Little Hotel on the Prairie’?” I joked. Prairie City is a town of 1,100, and it really is on a prairie, about 17 miles outside of John Day, Ore., a short drive from the scenic Strawberry Mountains and about a six-hour drive from Eugene.

October 17, 2013 01:00 AM

Endless overcast days and damp cold just aren’t sexy. And we’ve got how many months of the same to look forward to? There is, however, something romantic about soaking in a geothermal spring on the edge of a verdant forest while deer browse in a snow-covered field next to a mountain creek in high spate. It’s almost cliché. And even better after dark in a rock-lined pool with only your partner for company and a private cabin in the woods close by.

October 17, 2013 01:00 AM

The words “Kauai” and “cheap” are like two magnets. If you don’t line them up right, they repel each other, but if you pay attention to their polarities, they are very attractive. Adding to the attraction is the Garden Island itself, a lush and magical Hawaiian paradise with spectacular geography that has inspired hundreds of film crews (think Jurassic Park) and thousands of books and magazine articles praising its beauty. 

September 26, 2013 01:00 AM
September 26, 2013 01:00 AM

For those among us who prefer our artists to be a bit prickly — the artist as porcupine — let me first point out that playwright Aaron Posner is the recipient of the 2012 RuleBreaker Award from No Rules Theatre in Washington, D.C. During the award ceremony in June, actor Holly Twyford summed up her appreciation of Posner thusly: “Your honesty is usually right on, sometimes brutally so.”

September 26, 2013 01:00 AM

Rock and pop worked their way into theatrical productions long ago: Jesus Christ Superstar and Hedwig and the Angry Inch to name two. Lately, Broadway has struck gold weaving tunes from pop artists like Abba with 1999’s smash hit Mamma Mia! (coming to the Hult Center January 2014) and Franki Valli in 2005’s Jersey Boys. In 2009, punk rocker Billie Joe Armstrong from Green Day began working with acclaimed stage and film director Michael Mayer, adapting American Idiot, Green Day’s multi-platinum concept album, for the stage — because nothing says punk rock like … choreography?

September 26, 2013 01:00 AM

Zorro had some pretty good genes. On one side his father: Alejandro de la Vega, a soldier with ties to Spanish aristocracy. On the other his mother: Toypurnia, a powerful Tongva warrior who led her tribe into battle against the Spaniards. With parents from conflicting cultures, it’s no wonder Zorro (real name Diego de la Vega) had an identity crisis, growing up to be the swashbuckling, masked crusader who leaves Z’s in his wake.

September 26, 2013 01:00 AM

Local comedian Chris Warren told a joke that almost put him in jail. While doing standup in Spokane, Wash., in 2003, Warren made a rough joke about Hillary Clinton, and it caught the attention of the Secret Service, who sent two members to speak with Warren. “I was public enemy number one for telling a joke,” he says. “It was the good cop/bad cop scenario. They told me to never tell the joke again, but then they asked me to tell the joke. I told them and they started cracking up!”

July 11, 2013 01:00 AM
July 11, 2013 01:00 AM

Our fair county is savoring a yeasty beer boom. Aficionados have celebrated a new Whiteaker tasting room for Oakshire, Ninkasi’s plans for an expansion, Plank Town’s installation in downtown Springfield and Friday afternoon growler fills at Claim 52. The rest of the year looks like it won’t have any trouble keeping pace; on tap is a neat little package of delights for your (responsible) boozing pleasure.

July 11, 2013 01:00 AM

The Facebook invite headline read “Party Bus!” It was a celebration for two friends, one moving away and the other turning 30. The theme was “Glitter.” Having never been on a party bus before, I was intrigued. And yes, there was a glitter theme, even though the party was scheduled for a sunny, Sunday afternoon.

July 11, 2013 01:00 AM

Dawson Officer stood at the eighth hole of the Shadow Hills Country Club golf course, watching as golfers and prospective taste testers piled out of their cart and onto the green. “Do you want to try some whiskey?” Officer asked from behind his table, where bottles of vodka and bourbon whiskey were displayed. 

June 20, 2013 01:00 AM

So many classical music festivals are mired in the past, as though composers somehow stopped writing music after the 19th century ended. If the people of Bach’s time had that regressive attitude, we wouldn’t have his music around today.

June 20, 2013 01:00 AM

Here’s a quick overview of major Oregon Bach Festival concerts this summer at UO’s Beall Concert Hall, the Central Lutheran Church and the Hult Center’s Silva Concert Hall and Soreng Theater. The festival boasts many other performances, films, talks, master classes and other events; check oregonbachfestival.com for complete event listings.

June 20, 2013 01:00 AM

On Valentine’s Day in 2009, the young opera singer Nicholas Phan was standing in his New York kitchen when the phone rang. His manager was calling to tell him that a colleague had just canceled his performance, which Helmuth Rilling was leading that night at Carnegie Hall. Could Phan fill in?

June 20, 2013 01:00 AM

Along with the usual joy afforded by hearing some of history’s greatest music, this summer’s Oregon Bach Festival will be tinged with some sadness. It marks the end of co-founder Helmuth Rilling’s 43-year run as artistic director of the festival he created, with fellow legend Royce Saltzman, in 1970.

May 9, 2013 02:28 AM

May in Oregon — a month comfortably nestled between spring and summer. The rains have ceased, the days are sunny and mild, and the nights are breezy and fresh. It’s the perfect time to pop open a pinot warmed in the modest sun or a chilled rosé, grab a blanket and relax in the grass and watch the sun sink into the cool blue valley.

May 9, 2013 01:00 AM

In the golden years of my youth (ages 8-11), our family was transferred by the U.S. Navy to Rabat, Morocco. My mother blithely enrolled me in a French-run school. I made some friends. My closest bud was Pierrot; his dad was a sergeant in the French Air Force, his mother Bedouin. Pierrot periodically invited me to lunch at his house.