Your Weekend Reader for Oct. 30-31

by | Oct 30, 2021 | Arts and Entertainment, Journalism, Miscellaneous | 1 comment

Boo! It’s Halloween weekend, and the weather out here looks like it’ll be a nice night on Sunday for trick-or-treating. In that spirit, this edition of Your Weekend Reader features all treats, and no tricks. (Well, I guess it depends on how you define “tricks.”)

Let’s start with a visit to my old stomping grounds, Great Falls, Montana: New York Times reporter Reid Epstein explains how an effort to attract some badly needed federal money to promote tourism to central Montana was completely derailed by misinformation. The story quotes a fellow I knew slightly during my Montana days, Richard Ecke, a longtime employee of the Great Falls Tribune, a newspaper that won a Pulitzer Prize back in the day. Ecke, who was laid off in 2016 from his job as the paper’s opinion editor, reports that the Trib’s newsroom now numbers eight, down from 45 or so in 2000. The Tribune is a Gannett paper. (Thanks to Steve Gress of the Gazette-Times for calling this story to my attention.)

Here’s another story from The New York Times, about rural landowners (including one in Burns, Oregon) who are taking wildfire management into their own hands by buying rolling stock, including retrofitted firetrucks and water tenders.

I don’t know if I fully understand my fascination with the Nick Rolovich vaccination story that’s played out this fall on the Washington State University campus in Pullman. Rolovich, the school’s head football coach, was fired, along with four of his assistant coaches, for violating the state of Washington’s COVID vaccine mandates. The matter is certainly headed for the courts; Rolovich and the assistant coaches have retained legal counsel. In the meantime, here’s a good story from ESPN’s Kyle Bonagura that goes behind the scenes and adds some fresh detail to the saga.

The Oregonian/OregonLive “Data Points” team crunched some numbers to help determine the reasons behind the Oregon State Beavers’ surprising football success so far this year. Here’s the story, but it’s available only to subscribers. Here’s the summary, for nonsubscribers: The team thus far is running the football more effectively than at any other time in the last quarter-century. That could get tested in Saturday’s game against California, which has a stout defense against the run. And here’s a note to nonsubscribers: You should consider a digital subscription to The Oregonian, at $10 a month.

In case you missed it on Wednesday (although this was predicted in a Weekend Reader a couple of weeks ago): Former New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof, an Oregon native, officially announced a run for Oregon governor. He’ll run in 2022 as a Democrat. It’s his first run for political office. Normally, you would think that Kristof will have his clock cleaned by some of the Democratic officeholders who already have announced for the job, such as Speaker of the House Tina Kotek and state Treasurer Tobias Read, but you never know — Kristof might be an attractive option for voters looking for a big change, especially if the field gets even more crowded. (Another Democrat, Betsy Johnson, has announced plans to run, but without party affiliation, which adds another level of interest to what already is shaping up as a fascinating race.) Meanwhile, the Republican side of the ballot is filling up as well, with candidates including Bud Pierce, who ran a spirited but underfinanced race against Brown in 2016 but might be too moderate to emerge from a Republican primary. Here’s Kristof’s farewell column to readers in The New York Times: Does it sound a bit like the speech a candidate might give at the start of a campaign? Why, yes. And here’s a note of thanks to Kristof from Kathleen Kingsbury, the Times’ opinion editor.

Here’s an interesting story, from High Country News, about an effort underway in Idaho to rework that state’s roadside history signs to take Indigenous history into account. Seems like an overdue effort, to say the least, and it made me wonder if a similar effort was taking place in Oregon. I’ll do some research and get back to you if I find anything.

The arts-and-culture desk of Your Weekend Reader has a couple of offerings this week:

One of the odder things I’ve learned about my 87-year-old father this year is that he’s a big fan of Abba. Now, he probably won’t be buying the group’s new album, “The Voyage,” when it bows on Nov. 5, nor will he be buying tickets to the group’s “tour,” in which its four members will be portrayed by digital avatars (“Abbatars,” in this case). But many Abba fans likely will be doing both — and they might be interested in this story from The New York Times about the band’s return.

Just in time for Halloween comes this treat, from The New York Times: Writer Erik Piepenburg, using nothing but the titles of horror movies, has crafted a series of scary short stories. It’s a fun read, as long as you “Don’t Go In the Basement.”

Speaking of horror movies, Piepenburg also has a think piece about the surge of so-called “folk” horror flicks, which he defines as films that generally take place in a rural environment “and engage with folk customs and ancient belief systems. The stories are mostly about clashes: between insiders and outsiders, city and country, technology and the analog and modernity and an idyllic past (unless you were a witch). Folk horror wonders if the old ways were right.” New movies that fall into that setting include the Oregon-set “Antlers,” which opened this week, but Piepenburg makes a compelling case for including movies like “Get Out.”

If you’re a fan of James Taylor or Jackson Browne, check out my thoughts about their show Monday night in Portland.

And, as always, if you’re looking for a curated list of mid-valley arts-and-entertainment events in the mid-valley, be sure to check out my frequently updated calendar by clicking here.

That’s it for this week. If you’re out trick-and-treating with the kids on Sunday night, be sure to remember this advice from “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.” And I’ll see you next weekend.

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1 Comment

  1. Curt Wright

    Nice column, Mike. A real “treat.”


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