Strange holidays


Is there something inherently chauvinistic about pointing out how bizarre, strange or singular the holiday celebrations of others seem? Probably.

A tale of two writers

Sarah Mirk and Carl Adamshick chart different literary courses

Beside the fact that both earn their meals selling words, Sarah Mirk and Carl Adamshick could hardly be more different. He’s from a small town in the Midwest; she’s from small town in Southern California. He writes poems; she writes news and nonfiction. Most striking, while Mirk has wanted to be a journalist since she was a little child, Adamshick didn’t read a book until he was 21.

Quebec’s musical revolution

French, Canadian Studies departments bring Quebec culture to campus

Quebecois identity is about more than being the only predominantly French-speaking population in North America. Quebecers have their own political party in the Parti Quebecois, which calls for sovereignty of the province. They have their own (often troubled) history as French settlers in an English-settled land. They have their own food tradition, which includes the now-very-trendy poutine. And they have their own music.

SOAP opera

PSU’s lauded voice program throws free masquerade ball

The Student Opera Association of PSU started about 15 years ago, when funding for the university’s music program was cut, according to singer Emily Skeen. Formed by students and faculty from the ashes of the university opera, it was called Portland State Opera Theater.

The future of print

Master’s in Book Publishing and Ooligan Press get a new director

Per Henningsgaard’s resume is impressive. Originally from Minnesota, Henningsgaard graduated from Vassar College in upstate New York. He worked at Pearson imprint Longman in New York before going to Western Australia on a Fulbright grant to study print history and culture

Stories from an ‘outsider’

Eliot Treichel talks geography, early Soul Asylum and being an outsider

Eliot Treichel is from small-town Wisconsin, and he’s not trying to hide it. His short stories and essays inhabit, nay, breathe a world of rushing rivers, fishing holes, desert highway expanses, and guns and pickup trucks. His characters are laconic, solitary and tough, even while the author tenderly and quietly exposes their vulnerability.

Diane Keaton for dessert

Simon Benson Awards Dinner provides meat and potatoes, enlivened by bizarrerie

I don’t make it to too many “A list” awards dinners, and I now have a modicum of sympathy for those wealthy and powerful people whose schedules are crammed with them. Were I Gov. Ted Kulongoski or Jordan Schnitzer, I’d hope my tastes would be a little more refined than Jim Beam white label.

Follow your bliss

PSU professors and professionals offer practical advice for pursuing a career in the arts

Newsweek recently ran a gallery titled “The 13 most useless majors from philosophy to journalism.” Predictably, the arts fared badly. That’s OK, though, because Narrative Science is a company that has devised an artificial intelligence algorithm for computers to write news articles. (The lack of a byline suggests that the Newsweek piece was itself written by a computer.)

Mads Mikkelsen plays One Eye, who gets swept up in the Christian crusade to reconquer the holy land.

What would Odin do?

Nicolas Winding Refn’s Valhalla Rising will smother your soul in Scandinavian fog

What would Odin do? Seriously. What would the Norse god of war do if he ran into a tribe of early Christian evangelists, crucifix banners aflutter and a mound of nude women cringing nearby? It depends on how they treated him, really.

Middle Easterners united by music

Jewish and Arab PSU student groups to throw peace-making dance party

Even the most apathetic media consumer has probably heard something about a conflict in the Middle East between Israelis and Palestinians. The phrase “Peace in the Middle East!” was on the lips of just about every rapper in the U.S 10 years ago.

The Thermals

Portland super-group plans to revert to their noisy past

The Thermals made their mark with noisy, adolescent, urgent post-pop-punk (their term) on 2003’s More Parts Per Million LP released on Sub Pop.