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Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The Civil War: what's in a name,song and uniform

Posted By on Tue, Dec 1, 2009 at 8:00 PM

And so we come to the annual Civil War deciding which aptly named wet-side-of-the-State football team is better. Good luck to both schools, as I have no personal attachment to either institution.
I do, however, have an opinion on matters pigskin starting with the Civil War name. My question is, does the Civil War rank in the top tier of football rivalry names?
Here are the contenders for best-named rivalry game.
The Game (Harvard-Yale). Maybe this was the big game in 1849 but today it’s hardly on the radar although this year's game was exciting (It was on Versus in case you missed it).
The Big Game (Cal-Stanford). Maybe not the biggest game by far but this year a real burner especially with old-school thunder thighs throwback Toby Gerhart running the ball for Stanford.
The Holy War: (Utah-BYU) Wow, this battle behind the Zion Curtain for religious supremacy has a nice, almost medieval, ring to it.
The Civil War (Oregon-Oregon State)-Sounds way too polite for a big entanglement to me.
The Backyard Brawl: (Pitt-West Virginia): You gotta love this one as it puts the emphasis on smash-mouth gridiron.
All the above names duly noted, the winner is- The World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party (Georgia-Florida). Forget all the others this name says it all. After all, what matters most in all big rivalry games is what goes on outside the stadium and not on the field.
Now to fight songs. Here's a list of the best in my humble opinion:
"Fight On' (USC). "On Wisconsin", "Our Sturdy Golden Bear" (Cal), "Cheer, Cheer For Old Notre Dame", "Boomer Sooner" (Oklahoma), "Hail To The Victors Valiant" (Michigan), "Bulldog, Bulldog Bow Wow Wow" (Yale), "Glory. Glory, Colorado".
And the winner is "Hail To The Victors Valiant" for Victorian era language set to a stirring tune. Runner up: Yale's little ditty. I mean how arcane is that song?
And the song that few like to hear ever in these parts: "Fight On". (with apologies to all sons and daughters of Troy).

Finally to uniforms. This is easy because the Ducks have perhaps the worst uniforms in the history of college football. Were they designed by a losing contestant from "Project Runway" after a bad night of clubbing?
Then there's OSU whose uniforms that look very much like the ones the other OSU (Oklahoma State University) wears and somewhat like the Cincinnati Bengals and the Princeton Tigers and a few other feline named teams.
As to Pac-10 teams, save for UCLA, most have pretty lame uniforms. So I'll go out of conference and say West Virginia has the best home and away uniforms of any team in the U.S.  The Mountaineers uniforms look like football uniforms (Ducks take note).
And now to my Civil War prediction. The Beavers win the uniform part of the competition. The Ducks win the fight song competition. The cheerleaders are a draw. The Ducks take the pre-game tailgating. The Beavers take the post-game party.
As to the football game- who knows?

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Monday, November 23, 2009

The Stars Are Out-local talents shine in film

Posted By on Mon, Nov 23, 2009 at 5:46 PM

One of the brighter aspects as we approach the gloom of late fall and early winter was witnessing a Bend born-and-raised actor coming into his own and two local filmmakers continuing to deliver hysterical short ski films. All three talents were on display at recent events at the Tower Theater.
The actor in question is 27-year old Cole Carson, a graduate of Mountain View High and the University of Oregon.
In his sophomore year at the U of O, Carson took an acting course and it changed his life. “He called us one night, “recalls his father Ed, “and said ‘I know what I want to do for the rest of my life. I want to be an actor.”
Carson began working on the acting craft and for the past three years has resided in Hollywood where he’s acted in a variety of television shows, training films and independent film projects.
He returned to Bend on Veteran’s Day as the star of the independently produced film  “Everyman’s War”. The film follows the World War Two odyssey of Oregon born soldier Don Smith.
Carson delivered an understated yet powerful performance enhanced by his all-American, kid-next-door looks.
Based on his performance in “Everyman’s War” he was sought after to play the leading role in a new independent film entitled “The Fat Boy Chronicles”. The film deals with childhood obesity and bullying and was completed this summer in  Georgia this past summer.
“Cole, “ Ed Carson says, “thinks this film will get picked up by a major studio or distributor.”
Let’s hope so because doesn’t everybody like a local-boy-makes-good story?
Wild Ride
You can count me among those who’d rather be hung by their thumbs than sit through yet another big air, duditude, rap-soundtrack ski movie. Enough already.
So I was squirming in my seat when emcee Dan McGarigle offered up “Golden Fury” by local filmmakers Jonas Tarlen and Steve Remer at last week’s annual Powderhounds night at the Tower Theater.
The squirming stopped a minute into the film, which is inspired and downright hilarious.
Without giving too much away, “Golden Fury” combines elements of classic soundtrack-doesn’t-match-actor’s-mouth-movements Kung Fu films and loopy sixties and seventies ski films.
The theme is a skier looking for alpine bindings that will stay on and won’t release when he makes big moves. He gets his wish and the results are nothing but fun.
Hats off to Tarlen and Remer for making my sides ache for day after viewing “Golden Fury” and for having obvious fun while crafting their way low budget film.

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Thursday, November 19, 2009

Farewell Second Street: the curtain comes down on a Bend stage

Posted By on Thu, Nov 19, 2009 at 11:31 PM

The first time I saw a show at The Second Street Theater was in the Theater’s 2001 inaugural season. I was enthralled. Not so much by the acting, which was good, but by the venue, which was terrific. While I’m not sure that every amateur actor like me desires to play on a small intimate stage with the audience a few feet away, I had always wanted to have that opportunity. Now that opportunity was at hand.
A week after seeing that first show, I met with then Second Street partner Steve Daugherty and he added me to the Theater’s growing audition list. I auditioned a few months later and secured a apart in the spring 2002 production of Lisa Loomer’s “The Waiting Room.
The play was intriguing as it challenged the players and local audiences. Let’s face it the theme of women dealing with cancer was not one Bend audiences were used to being presented. No, at that time, this was pretty much a town of theater standards-safe stuff that wouldn’t offend or make patrons go away from the theater thinking.
Stepping outside the norm was the goal Second Street’s three original partners (Maralyn Thoma, Steve Daugherty and Janet Kingsley) had in mind when they formed the theater. That, and paying actors, directors and tech people. It was only $50 for the run of a show but it was a nice gesture and well received.
During the run of “The waiting Room” I got to know Maralyn Thoma. An actress and chorine turned soap-opera scriptwriter, Thoma proved to be an absolute treasure of a theater owner-supportive of directors and actors, enthusiastic about shows and always with a kind word for everyone. She made the theater hum with energy and good feelings.
Thoma became a driving force among actors like me to give our best in order to help the theater establish itself on Bend’s cultural landscape.
Second Street thrived despite a breakup of the original partnership (Kingsley departed) and a change from a non-profit to a profit making concern.
Thought the eight years between opening and the announcement this week that the theater will cease theatrical productions following the current run of “Harvey”, there were some memorable productions.
And there was good fortune for those of us who got to stretch out and advance our acting skills, and, in my case, get to direct several shows.
One of my favorite directorial stories concerns a script I read and immediately started lobbying Thoma to let me stage it at Second Street.
I didn’t hear from her for about a month. Then late one night she called and said, “I read it, I love it, we’re going to do it.”
We did. “Over The River and Through The Woods” played to full houses for its entire run. Second Street reprised the show during their 2008 season.
Times and relationships change and eventually Thoma was left will sole ownership of the theater. This was soon after her soap-opera script writing career had come to an end and the local economy was tanking.
A smattering of well-received shows followed over the past two years and then the slow winding down to not longer staging plays.
Second Streets short run will remain a wonderful period of time in the life of local actors, theater technicians, directors and patrons. Marlalyn Thoma’s cultural gift to our fair city was a magnanimous one from a very special person.

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Saturday, November 14, 2009

Bits and Pieces: news from the great outdoors

Posted By on Sat, Nov 14, 2009 at 6:33 PM

A couple of blogs ago I wrote about the problems of renegade/bootleg trail building on public lands. It’s a growing problem and one that both the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) are paying increasing attention to nationwide.
On the heels of that news comes the revelation that literally thousands of miles of singletrack trail on public lands in the west that have been open to mountain biking for years will soon be closed to riding.
A New York Times story of November 11 spells out how several National Forests are closing down trails to mountain biking for the simple reason that the trails in questions were never intended for it. They were created originally for hiking and horse travel and cannot withstand, so the land manager’s argument goes, the impact that modern mountain bikes cause.
The trail closures pose a critical problem for many small Rocky Mountain communities in particular that rely on having lots of singletrack riding to attract tourists and to bring people and money to local bike shop and bike tour operators.
Which brings us to the question could singletrack cutbacks happen here? The answer is no as most of the trails within out local networks were designed specifically for mountain biking with the Central Oregon Trail Alliance (COTA) working closely with the USFS and BLM of design, construction and maintenance.
However, look for cutbacks in the amount of available singletrack in other National Forests within the State.
And look for a spike in illegal trail making all over the west as those who see their singletrack disappear start making more of their own.
Fish Fisticuffs
It had to happen given the fact that too many flyfishermen are trying to fish the same places. Overcrowding has recently led to a few shouting matches, a few near fights and a situation that mars the whole flyfishing experience.
The recent state of near punchups on the lower Deschutes in particular stems from two factors: 1) the relentless hype about the record breaking steelhead run, and 2) the fact that so many flyfishermen want to catch an elusive steelhead.
Fueled by hype, there are time when sections of the Deschutes look like those images of elbow-to-elbow crowds along Alaskan rivers during the salmon runs.
Lines get tangled, people feel they’re getting ‘fished over” and tempers flare.
By way of a suggestion on how to avoid the crowds and the potential of getting into a dustup, avid Sisters flyfisher Ron Bonacker says, “if possible, head down to the lower Deschutes Tuesday through Thursday if you can. Few people on the river then.
New Hikes
Thanks to the hard work of a group of avid local hikers with GPS devices in hand, a trail has been mapped through the proposed Skyline Forest west of town. That’s the good news.
The bad news is that the trail is now under snow. Come spring and the melt off, contact the Deschutes Land Trust for a copy of the trail map.

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Thursday, November 12, 2009

Open Mouthed: there's gold in them thar teeth

Posted By on Thu, Nov 12, 2009 at 6:29 PM

Unlike many people, I don't dread going to the dentist. To me, a visit to the dentist is just another one of life's minor hardships like getting stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic.
My only complaint I have about almost every dentist I've ever had work on me is their lack of a positive attitude. Instead of a pat on the back, a few kind words and maybe an extra toothbrush in your see-ya-next-time goodie bag, when they examine me they always give a shake of the head and the invariably utter an "uh oh" as they uncover yet another problem area.
This despite the fact that I've flossed daily, gargled foul tasting stuff regularly, used all sorts of scary picks to help clean between my teeth, given up refined sugar and generally led the life of a fasting monk.
To the dentists I've been to that hard work doesn't matter. For them, the joy is not in praising you but in mining your mouth for gold.
Every visit I feel like a mining expedition enters my mouth and with every new vein of tartar discovered I hear a ka-ching as my wallet is about to be turned over to a dental professional and returning empty.
Then there are the x-rays. It seems every time I get inside the door of my dentist's office, x-rays are in order. It's as if my teeth have decided to move several millimeters on their own in the last six months. By my casual observation, they haven't moved since I was 15. Then they moved when and wherever they wanted to on a moment's notice.
Today my mouth is nothing more than a cavern holding a goldmine of teeth. Bad teeth to be sure that lay in gums that cannot be flossed, picked or gargled back into shape.
All this is making me very cranky and heaven knows my dentist and his assistants don't need yet another angry male in their office.
So what to do? A move to some land where teeth rot and have rotted naturally for centuries sounds plausible.
Barring that, I referring my dentist to my primary care physician who knows how to inspire. "Nice job on getting that bad cholesterol down", he'll say. ""Keep up the good work, you're doing great, "he'll offer as you leave his office. And never once do I feel that he's on an exploratory mission to find some new ailment even if it might not exist.

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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Going Rogue-Trail Makers Won't Quit

Posted By on Wed, Nov 11, 2009 at 6:23 PM

 Recently The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) informed the Central Oregon Trail Alliance (COTA) that an unauthorized trail has been build on Horse Ridge. Subsequently COTA put up signs at both the start and finish of the trail declaring it shut.

The situation brings up a growing national and local concern about bootleg trails. On the national scale, the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) is paying more attention to the elimination of all bootleg trails on public lands.

An Associated Press story from this past summer states: "The U.S Forest Service is cracking down after renegade bikers secretly cut up to 30 miles of trails in the Tahoe backcountry over the past decade.

"Agency officials said a hardcore group of bikers seeking access to steeper, more demanding terrain is to blame for bootleg trails in national forests across the country, including those in California, Colorado, Montana, North Carolina and Utah."

Here in Central Oregon, the building of renegade or bootleg trails hasn't been much of a problem because of the close work COTA has been doing with both the U.S.F.S. and the BLM over the past decade.

But lately, with the popularity of freeride mountain biking have come the demand for more steeper and more challenging trails. Rather than wait to get USFS or BLM approval, the bootleggers go to work.

The advent of local bootleg trails has given rise to fears that some of that cooperative work between users and the land managers will unravel.

This is especially true at Horse Ridge, where, over a period of years, a number of trails have been created and were accepted by the BLM. That agency has requested through COTA that no new trails be created there until the agency has a chance to make a detailed study of rider usage on the Ridge and how that riding impacts the terrain and wildlife.

 Unfortunately, that study has been delayed because of the BLM's focus on the Cline Buttes recreation project.

 Count me among those who have been impatient with the BLM as I've had my eye on creating at least two new trails at Horse Ridge. Yet I've held off and hope that sometime this year that the BLM will move ahead and consider the potential trail additions.

So I plead with other erstwhile trail builders to hold off and follow COTA's lead on new trail development in conjunction with the land managers. In the meantime, work on the trails we already have in place while lobbying for more new trails in the future.

 The days of building trails on the sly and then having them reluctantly approved by the USFA or BLM are over. It's time to work to keep rider-public agency relations strong. When we work together, the land agencies have shown that they much more responsive to trail building requests.

As Mark Eller of the International Mountain Biking Association (IMBA) noted recently: " the pirate trail builders believe they have to build them under cover because they won't get the riding experience they want if they go through channels. We're working hard to show that's not the case."

And so are conscientious Central Oregon riders.  

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Monday, November 9, 2009

Bend's Nature of Words In Reverse

Posted By on Mon, Nov 9, 2009 at 7:18 PM

Celebrating its fifth year, The Nature of Words' two nights of Tower Theater readings were a good indication that the event has come of age. Gone are the days of writers talking about sagebrush, distant mountain ranges, cattle and corrals that came with the High Desert Museum's sponsorship of the event. Here to stay is a variety of poetry, prose and some welcome surprises.

The surprises were the distinct breaks from the tried-and-true "author reads from his/her books" format.

The first presenter to stray from the tried and true presentation was Portland writer Karen Karbo. Yes Karbo read but also offered a PowerPoint presentation of images from her new book on the legendary fashion designer Coco Chanel.

For those who had seen either the 2008 American biopic film of Chanel's entire life or the 2009 French biopic film of her early years, Karbo covered familiar ground.

Even with that knowledge, Karbo helped fill in some blanks in the famed designers love life and did so with clever turns of phrase and drollery.

Humor was the underlying theme of the evening and poet ( Matthew Dickman rose to the occasion and immediately capturing the audience's attention with his off-hand self-effacing style. A style that gave way as he read to brilliant insights and a crackling wit.

It was as if Dickman had taken the best of Beat poetry a la Lawrence Ferlingetti, and enlarged upon and brought to new life to it. He did so with gusto and with imagery that stuck in the mind. Images like, when describing a lover: "her ass was like a shopping mall at Christmas."

Third on stage last Thursday night at The Tower was wildly popular Native American writer Sherman Alexie.

From the rousing rock star ovation Alexie received as he walked on stage it was obvious he had drawn a large number young fans to the event.

He didn't disappoint them as he set out to do something very different for The Nature of Words delivering a classic stand-up monologue. A monologue that could have been entitled "Unexpurgated Sherman Alexie or "Sherman Alexie Revealed"

Through wit and stinging commentary, Alexie described his tortuous road from infancy fraught with medical woes to his discovery of his path in life.

It was a boffo performance that on one hand with tinges of Richard Pryor's self-exploratory humor mixed with the sharp political insight of a Dick Gregory. It was very different for The Nature of Words and a transitory moment for an event that, for some, was flirting with getting bogged by its predictable format.

Friday night's readings were predictable in part but luckily there was some continuation of the event's new direction with two diverse opening readings.

The first reading was by author Seth Kanter

( who expressed privately before stepping on stage his anxieties of being in a city and far away from the vastness of his Alaska wilderness home.

Rather than put the audience off, Kanter's obvious unease won them over as he warmed to his task at hand embellishing his tales with superb photographic images of the land that is at the heart of his work,

Following Kanter, pixyish-looking Belarusian poetess Valzhyna Mort

began her reading with a poem her native tongue. It wasn't necessary to know what the words meant as Mort's intense delivery made them universal in feel and tone.

Her work has been described as searing. That it is with clean piercing images balanced with those that cut straight to the heart of emotion.

Cutting straight to the heart of the five unique readings, The Nature Of Words turned a corner, entered a new lifecycle. A cycle in which the event appears to be reaching out to a broader, albeit younger, audience and moving into more approachable, and at the same time, more daring, territory.

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Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Dam It-Full Speed Ahead On Colorado Street

Posted By on Wed, Nov 4, 2009 at 6:17 PM

Despite regular pronouncements that Bend is, or will be, in the running to attract big name employers who will pay a living wage or better, it's nothing more than a public relations smokescreen. Not even Juniper Ridge, that fabled business wonderland of the future, will alter the fact that Bend and Central Oregon are not that attractive a relocation place to many businesses.
Like it or not Bend and Central Oregon will always have, apart from the medical field and governmental concerns, a strong tourism-based economy. Tourists and tourism dollars are what keep a great many people here employed.
So I n the interest of fostering tourim, the creation of a safe passage for all type of boaters, tubers and floaters along with some whitewater play features for kayakers, at the Colorado Street dam seems a no-brainer decision.
Making the river safe at the location where several floaters have died and at least a half a dozen are rescued annually makes sense. Adding the whitewater play features is a value added. You want to see what other cities have done with whitewater parks and features? Take a look at Reno, Nevada's Truckee River Whitewater Park. That park has proven to be an unqualified financial success attracting national and regional competitions as well as thousands of visitors to the city.
Then there's Steamboat Springs, Colorado and Golden Colorado. Both towns have found that offering a whitewater run is their local river is a moneymaker.
For the really big picture, look at what Mecklenburg County, North Carolina has created in Charlotte with the U.S. National Whitewater Center.
The USNWC is amazing venue and has helped spawn interest in all sorts of other outdoor sports in the region all of which combine to help drive tourism.
Getting back to Bend, once the already popular Farewell Bend Park to Drake Park float is made continuous without a mandatory portage, it would be an even bigger attraction than it is now.
But what will make the plan that's been laid out to the public by the Bend Metro Park and Recreation District board of directors, is the man who designed the project: Gary Lacy.
Lacy is a principle in Recreation Engineering and Planning of Boulder, Colorado. REP is at the forefront of river whitewater park design and development and I think the reason is that Lacy, while often labeled a consultant, is the furthest thing from one. He's a hardheaded realist.
You won't hear Lacy talk about "paradigm shifts" or "thinking out of the box" or any of expensive consultant claptrap. No, Lacy simply knows what he's doing and is in fact so lacking is consultant-speak and consultant-flash, that he puts some people off.

He and his group deliver good projects. I know, I visited several on an extended trip to Colorado and saw the life his whitewater parks had pumped into communities. And while those projects may be labeled as being all about whitewater paddling, they are popular with swimmers, tubers, and surprise, fishermen.
Fisherman, in particular, love the whitewater parks and play areas because they create aerated water and fish cover. Rivers like the Yampa in Steamboat Springs have seen a revival of their local trout fishery with the advent of the stretch of whitewater features on the river.
Trusting in the proposed Colorado Street project's designer and his ability to deliver, knowing that anything that helps tourism in good for Bend, and making use of one of our greatest natural assets in a good way all makes sense.
The revamping of the Colorado Street dam and bridge and the addition of a safe passage fro floaters and whitewater features is a solid investment in Bend's future.

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