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Frozen Burritos on BachelorCountdown to extinguishing and the little blue pill 

It's no trade secret that any story or report related to Mt. Bachelor, good or bad, has a built in readership in this town. So

It's no trade secret that any story or report related to Mt. Bachelor, good or bad, has a built in readership in this town. So it was with more than a passing interest that Upfront listened to a recent tipster who told us that Mt. B brass were getting ready to enforce a long-posted -- but never adhered to -- ban on sack lunches at Mt. B's slopeside lodges. Upfront didn't wait for the receiver to cool before putting in a call to Mt. B's marketing director, Alex Kaufman, who set the record straight on sack lunches. Contrary to what we had heard, Mt. B is not cracking down on brown baggers at Sunrise or Pine Marten lodge, Kaufman said. Quite the opposite, he said, the staff at Bachelor have actually added microwaves to allow more skiers and boarders to reheat food on the lower level of the main lodge. In addition, he said Bachelor has revamped the menu at the lower level café to focus on wallet-friendly foods like hot dogs and sandwiches.

Voila PR disaster averted.

In A Cloud Of Smoke

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As Upfront readies the champagne for our super sweet New Year's party, Oregon bars and restaurants are doing a little countdown of their own holding their breath on the economic impacts of a Jan. 1 statewide smoking ban. The always-objective tobacco lobby predicted tough sledding for bars as smoking patrons look for other alternatives, like smoking in their garages, but a recent report out of Illinois indicates that the fears may be all smoke and no fire. That state banned indoor smoking exactly one year prior to Oregon's new ban, and restaurants and bars don't appear to have taken much of a hit. According to the Chicago Sun-Times sales tax receipts actually increased in the six months following the ban, indicating no measurable drop off in customer traffic following the ban.

"We're getting people who love to go to bars, but because of asthma wouldn't. And even people who were smokers loved it. They said 'I smoke but I don't necessarily like to smell smoke,'" bar owner Brian Grano told the newspaper.

One Oregon blogger who said he is a non-smoker disparaged the ban as morality policing and opined that people behind the smoking ban will be coming for our beers next.

"Beer lovers should be especially alarmed, because the neo-Puritans are coming after us next. Some people smoke in bars because it brings them pleasure. They can have their vices and I can have mine. But there are other people out there who think the world can and should be rid of all vices," wrote the Portland blogger Bill on his site "It's Pub Night."

Now Upfront enjoys the occasional Camel Light when out with the fellas, and we're certainly not sweating the smoking ban - but you'll get my pint glass when you pry it from my cold, dead, smokeless hand. And if you do, try not to spill the beer - that would be the real sin.

When You Are The Story

Like most other large media outlets, National Public Radio, has taken a big hit as of late as its corporate sponsors cut back on underwriting and listeners tighten down their purse strings. The result is a large-scale layoff at NPR, to the tune of 64 employees, including Ketzel Levine, a long time reporter for the radio station. Ironically, Levine, who lives in Portland, was working on a series of stories related to unemployment and the souring economy when she got news of her lay-off. She made the best of the obviously bad situation by writing her own story into her series called "American Moxie: How We Get By"

"Every story that we all do, we're always looking for the perfect ending. And suddenly it was handed to me. It was not one of my choosing, but as a storyteller, what could make a better story," Levine told the New York Times.

The Little Blue Pill

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It famously won the battle against Bob Dole's impotence, but can Viagra win a war? According to a recent story in the Washington Post it's showing some promise in Afghanistan where American troops have used the little blue pill to coax cooperation out of Afghan leaders. One officer told a Post reporter that he started handing out the pills as an incentive for a tight-lipped Afghan chieftain whom the officer was hoping to plumb for intelligence on Taliban forces working in the area. The beleaguered chief was having a hard time keeping his village together while tending to the "needs" of his four younger wives. Recognizing his dilemma, a CIA officer offered the chief a couple of Viagra "on Uncle Sam." On a return visit an accompanying officer found that he was welcomed with open arms by the chief who readily gave up information about Taliban troop movements and supply routes before requesting a refill of his blue pills.

American officers told the Times that exchanging small gifts is one of the best ways to cultivate sources in Afghanistan where the ongoing conflict with the Taliban has hindered any real social progress.

Upfront always knew that GeeDubya had a hard on for the Taliban, now it appears the tribal chiefs will too.

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