Your Weekend Reader for Dec. 4-5

by | Dec 4, 2021 | Arts and Entertainment, Journalism, Miscellaneous | 1 comment

I know: Christmas is just three weeks away. I know some of you are just about ready to wrap up your holiday preparations. I am not among you — everything on my holiday checklist remains, um, unchecked. If you’re in my camp, welcome — and here’s this weekend’s list of readings to help you procrastinate a little longer.

The 2022 election season in Oregon already was shaping up to be a corker, with a fascinating race looming for governor. But it got more interesting this past week when U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio announced his resignation — and, almost immediately, Democrats started eyeing his seat. Of note in the mid-valley: State Sen. Sara Gelser Blouin told the Oregon Capital Chronicle that she’s considering a run — and Rep. Dan Rayfield also is frequently mentioned as a possible candidate. Oregon Labor Commissioner Val Hoyle already has announced her candidacy. The Republican front-runner is Alek Skarlatos, the former Army National Guardsman who gained international recognition for stopping an armed terrorist on a Paris-bound train in 2015. He lost to DeFazio in 2020 but is in the hunt again. Redistricting of DeFazio’s Fourth Congressional District has increased the odds that Democrats will hang onto the seat — and was among the reasons why DeFazio decided to step down now.

There’s some action to report about the Alden Global Capital bid to acquire Lee Enterprises, the owner of the Gazette-Times and the Democrat-Herald. Somewhat to my surprise, but to Lee’s credit, Lee is fighting back against Alden, the hedge fund that has become notorious for buying newspapers and then making rapacious cuts in newsrooms. In the latest round, Lee on Friday rejected an Alden attempt to nominate three directors to the Lee board. Rick Edmonds of The Poynter Institute has the details. Earlier, Lee instituted a “shareholder’s rights plan,” a so-called poison pill defense that seeks to stop Alden from increasing its ownership of shares beyond 10% over the next 12 months. Alden and related companies now own about 6% of Lee stock. In general, though, it’s safe to say that this battle appears to be playing out in a similar fashion as did Alden’s two-year fight to acquire Tribune Publishing — and Alden eventually won that fight. And that appears to be how the market thinks this will play out: Lee stock closed Friday at $25.30, above the $24 a share Alden initially offered in its hostile takeover bid.

If you followed the arguments last week in the U.S. Supreme Court over the Mississippi abortion case and came away with the idea that Roe v. Wade’s days are numbered, you’re not the only one: Here’s Linda Greenhouse in The New York Times, fuming over the many reasons for dismay, including some head-spinning comments from the justices themselves.

Pepper the cat: Sleepy brown tabby or portal to misinformation? You be the judge.

I couldn’t resist last week clicking on a Times story about how pictures of cute animals are being used as clickbait to lure the unwary to sites that are full of misinformation. I couldn’t resist the story because it was illustrated by a photo of a cute cat. In that spirit, here’s a photo of a snoozy Pepper stretched out in a favorite spot. Would I use Pepper as clickbait? Of course. But would I use the image to lure you to a site full of misinformation? I guess it depends on how you define “misinformation.”

Steven Spielberg’s remake of “West Side Story” has been winning raves from critics and suddenly is a front-runner in the Oscar race. (The movie opens wide on Friday.) But is the remake (with a script by Tony Kushner) good enough to overcome the show’s flaws — or the fact that it remains a musical created by four white men that purports to say something about the experiences of Puerto Ricans in the United States? The New York Times pulled together five experts to hash it out in an unexpectedly absorbing discussion.

And … is it too early to start handicapping the year’s Oscar race, especially considering that the Academy Award ceremony isn’t scheduled until the end of March. No, of course not. Here’s an early look at the how the races are stacking up, courtesy of the Times’ reliable Kyle Buchanan.

Let’s say you’re the type of person who likes giving books for holiday gifts. Good for you! Here, just in time for your consideration, is this year’s list of worthy books about the West, compiled by High Country News. The list, which is not limited to new books, includes a book from the Oregon State University Press that might be more timely today than it was released in 2017: Kenneth R. Coleman’s “Dangerous Subjects: James D. Soules and the Rise of Black Exclusion in Oregon.” And here, for you New York Times types, is The Times Book Review list of this year’s top 10 books. I’m a few pages into one of those books, Clint Smith’s “How the Word is Passed,” and it’s good — but if you want to read it, you may have to wait for me to finish it before I return it to the library.

We’re reaching the end of the year, when all sorts of critics weigh in with their choices for the year’s best movies, books, albums, whatever. In a podcast for The Atlantic, four of that magazine’s culture writers identified one of the noticeable trends in some of the year’s best music: This was a terrific year for breakup music, from Olivia Rodrigo’s “Drivers License” at the start of the year, all the way to Adele’s “30” at year’s end — with stops along the way for Kacey Musgraves and Taylor Swift. In Adele’s words, “Mommy’s been having a lot of big feelings lately” — and nobody makes those big feelings feel bigger than Adele. As an added bonus this week, here’s a Spotify list of all the songs mentioned in the podcast — plus a bonus Sade song to respond to the comment made about how Sade, whom I admire, often doesn’t have a lot of emotion in her emotion. That’s often true, but here’s a song that’s a striking exception.

That’s it for this week. See you next weekend, when all of the holiday chores on our lists will still be waiting. And if you’re looking for even more ways to procrastinate, check out my curated calendar of arts-and-entertainment events.

1 Comment

  1. Joni Quarnstrom

    Thank you for this condensed bit of local news. Very refreshing.


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