It’s the first weekend of spring break here in Corvallis — and, in fact, spring technically begins on Sunday (although signs of spring have been apparent in the mid-valley for a month or so). Whatever you have planned — a quick trip out of town, some spring cleaning, a binge of Oscar-nominated movies or just an aggressive regime of naps — here’s hoping you take a bit of time to take in the sights and sounds of the season.
If you still feel as if you’re dealing with a hangover from last week’s switch to daylight saving time (spring forward!), you’re not alone: Maybe that’s why you’ve charted out a schedule of naps for spring break. I’ve argued for years that we should just scrap the time change entirely and go with daylight saving time year-round — in fact, a bill to that effect passed the Senate this week. But here’s a piece from The Atlantic that makes a compelling case that we should forget about that and move permanently to standard time — for one reason, the authors say, standard time is more aligned with the sun.
Meanwhile, it’s been interesting to be out and about this last week as Oregon relaxed its indoor-mask mandate and we all celebrated our national victory over the coronavirus. Sorry; what’s that? It’s not over? Nope — in fact, experts expect to see another COVID wave, maybe as early as next week. It’s being fueled by a more transmissible omicron subvariant, BA.2. (The good news is that there’s no reason to think that the subvariant causes more severe disease.) The Atlantic’s Rachel Gutman continues the magazine’s outstanding COVID coverage with this piece, which explains what’s driving what could be the next COVID wave. (The Atlantic’s Pulitzer Prize-winning COVID coverage continues to be outside its paywall, a practice other publications should adopt.)
Speaking of mask mandates, the Alsea School District stands to be out $43,000, thanks to the school board’s decision to make masks optional beginning on Jan. 31. The state Occupational Safety and Health Administration levied the fine after an investigation. Marc Thielman, the former superintendent of the school, told Alex Baumhardt of the Oregon Capital Chronicle that he expected the fine to be larger. Thielman, as you’ll recall, resigned as superintendent in February, saying that he wanted to focus on his campaign for governor. Thielman, oddly enough, is not considered to be among the front-runners for the Republican nomination. But you never know, right?
The Oregon Capital Chronicle’s Julia Shumway this week compiled a useful guide to Oregon’s legislative races. Nearly 200 candidates are in the hunt for a seat, but only a handful of districts have competitive primaries. One of those districts (and the only one in the mid-valley) is House District 11 around Lebanon, where Republican incumbent Jami Cate faces two challengers, Tyler Collins and Heather Dillon. The race also features three Democrats, Nina Brenner, Mary Cooke and Renee Windsor-Wright, but as I look at the district, it’ll be an uphill climb for a Democrat in November. The maps that accompany this story also include indications of whether a district favors Republican or Democratic candidates or whether it’s rated a toss-up; by my count, only three House districts and just two Senate districts were considered toss-ups. So that’s five toss-up districts out of 90. Discuss this among yourselves.
Here’s a piece I missed last week about the hedge fund Alden Global Capital’s hostile takeover bid for Lee Enterprises, the publisher of the Gazette-Times and the Democrat-Herald: Rick Edmonds, the media business analyst for the Poynter Institute, examines four steps that Alden could take in the wake of its failed attempt to block the reelection of Lee’s nominees to the company’s board. The upshot is that this fight could stretch out for years, even though Alden — known for making rapacious cuts in the newsrooms it acquires — has been known in the past to throw in the towel.
You probably noted the death last week of actor William Hurt, so good in movies like “Body Heat” and “Broadcast News” and “Kiss of the Spider Woman,” for which he won an Oscar. But you might not have noticed his Oregon connections — for starters, he died at age 71 at his home in Portland, one of his favorite cities. And, if you were lucky, you might have caught some of his performances at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and at Portland’s Artists Repertory Theatre. Kristi Turnquist of The Oregonian/OregonLive outlines some of Hurt’s connections to Oregon in this story.
In my interviews with classical musicians (which, I am happy to say, occasionally continue), we sometimes talk about a subject that has fascinated me: What makes the difference between composers who get into the canon and those who are forgotten? (This is one of the themes of “Amadeus,” of course.) A new story in The New York Times has a fascinating twist on this question: Why is it that some pieces suddenly fall from favor? The Times takes a long look at the curious case of Cesar Franck’s Symphony in D minor, once one of the most popular pieces in the repertoire and now rarely performed.
Speaking of music and cats, which of course we were, you’re likely at least somewhat familiar with the music of jazz great Charles Mingus. You may not know that Mingus, in addition to being a legendary bassist and composer, also wrote a one-page pamphlet about how to train your cat to use the toilet. In a piece that’s due to run Sunday in The New York Times Sunday Magazine, writer Brent Katz examines the Mingus method, and discovers that it wasn’t always foolproof for Mingus’ cat, a tuxedo named Nightlife.
If you decide to spend spring break catching up on the movies most likely to win Oscars, start with “The Power of the Dog,” now showing at the Darkside and also streaming on Netflix. Where to turn after that? In roughly this order, hunt down “CODA,” “King Richard,” “The Eyes of Tammy Faye,” “West Side Story,” “Licorice Pizza,” “Drive My Car,” “Summer of Soul,” “Dune,” “Licorice Pizza” and “Encanto.” Click here for a piece in which I outline my reasoning — it’s my annual seeding of Oscar contenders. And take some time this week to enter my Oscar challenge, in which you mere mortals try to best my predictions for next Sunday’s ceremony. Deadline is noon on March 27.
In the meantime, I think I might spend spring break training the cats to use the toilet. I’ll see you next weekend.