Monday, August 22, 2016

Rockies Today, August 22

Posted By on Mon, Aug 22, 2016 at 12:54 PM

Mountain West News is a service of the O’Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West — a regional studies and public education program at the University of Montana. The Center’s purpose is to serve as an important and credible resource for people in the state and region in understanding the region’s past, present, and future. For more, visit mountainwestnews.org

Toilet- themed restaurants (and more News of the Weird)

Posted By on Mon, Aug 22, 2016 at 9:37 AM

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New World Order
Australians are about to learn how particular some people are about their genders. Queensland University of Technology and three other sponsors have created an online preference survey (currently underway) that asks participants to decide among 33 "genders" (since "gender" is, according to the World Health Organization, "socially constructed"). "Male" and "female" are clear enough — but only where "identity" matches plumbing. Otherwise, it's "trans" or "transsexual," or else the more complicated bigender, omnigender, polygender, pangender, intergender, genderfluid, "cisgender," trigender, demigender, "gender non-conforming," "non-binary," "none gender" and a few others. 

Latest Religious Messages

India has supposedly outlawed the "baby-tossing" religious test popular among Hindus and Muslims in rural villages in Maharashtra and Karnataka states, but a July New York Times report suggested that parents were still allowing surrogates to drop their newborn infants from 30 feet up and awaiting the gods' blessing for a prosperous, healthy life. In all cases, according to the report, the gods come through, and a bedsheet appears below to catch the unharmed baby.

Government in Action
More federal civilian employees have "arrest and firearms authority" than the total number of active-duty U.S. Marines, according to a June report by the organization Open The Books, which claims to have tallied line-by-line expenditures across the government. Several agencies (including the IRS and EPA) purchase assault weapons and other military-grade equipment (camouflage, night-vision goggles, 30-round magazines) for their agents, and even the Small Business Administration, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and Department of Education buy their agents guns and ammo.

San Diego Padres outfielder Melvin Upton Jr. was traded on July 23 to the Toronto Blue Jays — in the middle of a series between the Padres and the Blue Jays in Toronto. Normally, such a player would merely gather his belongings and walk down the hall to the other team's locker room. However, while Canada treats Blue Jays' opponents as "visitors," Blue Jays players, themselves, are Canadian employees, and if not residents must have work permits. Upton had to leave the stadium and drive to Lewiston, New York, which is the closest place he could find to apply to re-enter Canada properly. (He made it back by game time.)

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Friday, August 19, 2016

Rockies Today, August 19

Posted By on Fri, Aug 19, 2016 at 2:42 PM

Mountain West News is a service of the O’Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West — a regional studies and public education program at the University of Montana. The Center’s purpose is to serve as an important and credible resource for people in the state and region in understanding the region’s past, present, and future. For more, visit mountainwestnews.org

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Rockies Today, August 18

Posted By on Thu, Aug 18, 2016 at 3:57 PM

Mountain West News is a service of the O’Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West — a regional studies and public education program at the University of Montana. The Center’s purpose is to serve as an important and credible resource for people in the state and region in understanding the region’s past, present, and future. For more, visit mountainwestnews.org

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Rockies Today, August 17

Posted By on Wed, Aug 17, 2016 at 12:37 PM

Mountain West News is a service of the O’Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West — a regional studies and public education program at the University of Montana. The Center’s purpose is to serve as an important and credible resource for people in the state and region in understanding the region’s past, present, and future. For more, visit mountainwestnews.org

Your future, a little early

Posted By on Wed, Aug 17, 2016 at 9:00 AM

Find Rob Brezsny's "Free Will Astrology" online, every Wednesday, one day before it hits the Indy's printed pages. 

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ARIES (March 21-April 19): Can you imagine feeling at home in the world no matter where you are? If you eventually master this art, outer circumstances won't distort your relationship with yourself. No matter how crazy or chaotic the people around you might be, you will remain rooted in your unshakable sense of purpose; you will respond to any given situation in ways that make you both calm and alert, amused and curious, compassionate for the suffering of others and determined to do what's best for you. If you think these are goals worth seeking, you can make dramatic progress toward them in the coming weeks.

TAURUS (April 20-May 20): As I tried to meditate on your horoscope, my next-door neighbor was wielding a weed-whacker to trim her lawn, and the voices in my head were shouting extra loud. So I decided to drive down to the marsh to get some high-quality silence. When I arrived at the trail head, I found an older man in ragged clothes leaning against the fence. Nearby was a grocery cart full of what I assumed were all his earthly belongings. "Doing nothing is a very difficult art," he croaked as I slipped by him, "because you're never really sure when you are done." I immediately recognized that his wisdom might be useful to you. You are, after all, in the last few days of your recharging process. It's still a good idea for you to lie low and be extra calm and vegetate luxuriously. But when should you rise up and leap into action again? Here's my guess: Get one more dose of intense stillness and silence.

GEMINI (May 21-June 20): My readers have a range of approaches for working with the counsel I offer. Some study the horoscopes for both their sun signs and rising signs, then create do-it-yourself blends of the two. Others prefer to wait until the week is over before consulting what I've written. They don't want my oracles to influence their future behavior, but enjoy evaluating their recent past in light of my analysis. Then there are the folks who read all 12 of my horoscopes. They refuse to be hemmed in by just one forecast, and want to be free to explore multiple options. I encourage you to try experiments like these in the coming days. The moment is ripe to cultivate more of your own unique strategies for using and interpreting the information you absorb — both from me and from everyone else you listen to.

CANCER (June 21-July 22): Have you been drinking a lot of liquids? Are you spending extra time soaking in hot baths and swimming in bodies of water that rejuvenate you? Have you been opening your soul to raw truths that dissolve your fixations and to beauty that makes you cry and to love that moves you to sing? I hope you're reverently attending to these fluidic needs. I hope you're giving your deepest yearnings free play and your freshest emotions lots of room to unfold. Smart, well-lubricated intimacy is a luxurious necessity, my dear. Stay very, very wet.

LEO (July 23-Aug. 22): In my opinion, you need to bask in the glorious fury of at least one brainstorm — preferably multiple brainstorms over the course of the next two weeks. What can you do to ensure that happens? How might you generate a flood of new ideas about how to live your life and understand the nature of reality? Here are some suggestions: Read books about creativity. Hang around with original thinkers and sly provocateurs. Insert yourself into situations that will strip you of your boring certainties. And take this vow: "I hereby unleash the primal power of my liberated imagination."

VIRGO (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): When you were a child, did you play with imaginary friends? During your adolescence, did you nurture a fantasy relationship with a pretend boyfriend or girlfriend? Since you reached adulthood, have you ever enjoyed consorting with muses or guardian angels or ancestral spirits? If you answered yes to any of those questions, you are in a good position to take full advantage of the subtle opportunities and cryptic invitations that are coming your way. Unexpected sources are poised to provide unlikely inspirations in unprecedented ways.

LIBRA (Sept. 23-Oct. 22): When you were born, you already carried the seeds of gifts you would someday be able to provide — specific influences or teachings or blessings that only you, of all the people who have ever lived, could offer the world. How are you doing in your quest to fulfill this potential? Here’s what I suspect: Your seeds have been ripening slowly and surely. But in the coming months, they could ripen at a more rapid pace. Whether they actually do or not may depend on your willingness to take on more responsibilities — interesting responsibilities, to be sure — but bigger than you're used to.

SCORPIO (Oct. 23-Nov. 21): I suspect that you will soon be culminating a labor of love you've been nurturing and refining for many moons. How should you celebrate? Maybe with some champagne and caviar? If you'd like to include bubbly in your revels, a good choice might be 2004 Belle Epoque Rose. Its floral aroma and crispy mouth-feel rouse a sense of jubilation as they synergize the flavors of blood orange, pomegranate, and strawberry. As for caviar: Consider the smooth, aromatic, and elegant roe of the albino beluga sturgeon from the unpolluted areas of the Caspian Sea near Iran. But before I finish this oracle, let me also add that a better way to honor your accomplishment might be to take the money you'd spend on champagne and caviar, and instead use it as seed money for your next big project.

SAGITTARIUS (Nov. 22-Dec. 21): Some species of weeds become even more robust and entrenched as they develop resistances to the pesticides that are designed to eradicate them. This is one example of how fighting a problem can make the problem worse — especially if you attack too furiously or use the wrong weapons. I invite you to consider the possibility that this might be a useful metaphor for you to contemplate in the coming weeks. Your desire to solve a knotty dilemma or shed a bad influence is admirable. Just make sure you choose a strategy that actually works.

CAPRICORN (Dec. 22-Jan. 19): Your assignment, if you choose to accept it, is to compose an essay on at least one of the following themes: 1. "How I Fed and Fed My Demons Until They Gorged Themselves to Death." 2. "How I Exploited My Nightmares in Ways That Made Me Smarter and Cuter." 3. "How I Quietly and Heroically Transformed a Sticky Problem into a Sleek Opportunity." 4. "How I Helped Myself by Helping Other People." For extra credit, Capricorn — and to earn the right to trade an unholy duty for a holy one — write about all four subjects.

AQUARIUS (Jan. 20-Feb. 18): I suspect that in the coming months you will be drawn to wandering through the frontiers and exploring the unknown. Experimentation will come naturally. Places and situations you have previously considered to be off-limits may be downright comfortable. In fact, it's possible that you will have to escape your safety zones in order to fully be yourself. Got all that? Now here's the kicker. In the coming weeks, everything I just described will be especially apropos for your closest relationships. Are you interested in redefining and reconfiguring the ways that togetherness works for you?

PISCES (Feb. 19-March 20): If you're playing the card game known as bridge, you're lucky if you are dealt a hand that has no cards of a particular suit. This enables you, right from the beginning, to capture tricks using the trump suit. In other words, the lack of a certain resource gives you a distinct advantage. Let's apply this metaphor to your immediate future, Pisces. I'm guessing that you will benefit from what may seem to be an inadequacy or deficit. An absence will be a useful asset.


Last one standing

Crazy Mike’s is Missoula’s last video rental store

Posted By on Wed, Aug 17, 2016 at 8:39 AM

In 1979, Fred Rezvani’s home country erupted in revolution. The newly created Islamic Republic of Iran intensified persecution of religious minorities, including the Baha’i sect. Thousands of Baha’i refugees fled in the following years—including Rezvani, then in his early 20s.

Rezvani moved to the United States in 1982, became a U.S. citizen and attended the University of Washington. After graduation, he was offered a job as regional manager of Crazy Mike’s, a Canadian-based video rental chain. He opened the first U.S. Crazy Mike’s location in Seattle in 1989, before moving to Missoula in the early 1990s to oversee the Montana branches. Crazy Mike’s has provided a good life for him and his family, he says. Missoula became his home, and he’s unlikely to ever be able to visit his birthplace, since the Iranian regime continues to persecute Baha’i.

The owner of Crazy Mike's, the last video rental store in Missoula, says they make it partly by offering a bigger selection than can be found on Netflix Instant or Redbox. - KATE WHITTLE
  • Kate Whittle
  • The owner of Crazy Mike's, the last video rental store in Missoula, says they make it partly by offering a bigger selection than can be found on Netflix Instant or Redbox.

“If I go there, they [will] probably get me,” he says. “I’m very happy here. I don’t see any reason to go back and go to jail.”

If nothing else, Rezvani knows how to persevere. As a businessman, he’s watched over the years as Crazy Mike’s transitioned from VHS to DVD and weathered the rise of services like Netflix and Redbox. In 2010, Blockbuster filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The same year, the locally owned Crystal Video shuttered its doors. Crazy Mike’s closed its other Missoula stores a few years ago, and now solely operates out of its East Broadway location next to Albertson’s.

Earlier this summer, Crazy Mike’s became the only non-automated movie rental service in Missoula after Hastings filed for bankruptcy in June and stopped renting movies in mid-July. Hastings’ departure gave Crazy Mike’s a bit of a boost, but not enough to make up for years of declining sales, Rezvani says. Mike’s still rents about 4,000 to 5,000 movies each month, which isn’t much compared to the business it did 20 years ago. The $1.25 rental special on Tuesday drives most of the sales.

“Customers are not coming as often as they used to come,” Rezvani says. “It definitely has affected our business.”

That said, he has no plans to close the store any time soon, as long as it continues to turn a small profit. He feels fortunate that he can take an early retirement if he has to.

“As long as it pays the bills, the company feels that it is a service to people that want to use it,” he says. “I hope it lasts for a long time so we can serve the Missoula community.”

Now 57, Rezvani says he prefers to let younger employees staff the front desk. “I feel a younger crowd behind the counter is better for customers to see than an old white-haired man like me,” he explains.

His daughter Ashley, 21, has worked at the store since she was 16. She’s as surprised as anyone that Crazy Mike’s continues to make it. “I mean, I have Netflix. My family has Netflix,” she says.

In her experience, Crazy Mike’s relies on customers who live in rural areas where internet access is too slow for video streaming. The store also lures movie buffs seeking a wider selection than offered by Redbox or Netflix Instant. She meets plenty of customers who are just delighted with the nostalgia of renting a movie.

“You wouldn’t expect a novelty thing to survive except in a big city, but I think Missoulians are hipster enough that they like the old-fashioned video store,” Ashley Rezvani says.

Even as she talks, a young man with tattoos and pierced ears walks in to check out his reserved copy of the animated kids’ movie Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Happiest Hour: Great Burn's Flathead Cherry Belgian Strong

Posted By on Tue, Aug 16, 2016 at 4:21 PM

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What you’re drinking:
The latest seasonal from Great Burn Brewing. This traditional Belgian ale is brewed with 20 pounds of pitted and crushed Flathead cherries and local honey, but, rest assured, it’s not at all a fruity-tasting or too-sweet beer.

What it does taste like: A traditional Belgian ale with a subtle cherry finish. Brewer Mike Howard explains the Abbey Belgian yeast—the same yeast used on the Belgian Golden Ale, another seasonal on tap right now—helps provide a strong foundation that keeps the cherries in check.

Beer slinger Dawn Taylor puts it another way: “You’re always going to taste Mike’s beer,” she says, meaning that none of the brewery’s fruit-flavored creations ever stray too far from their sudsy roots.

How it’s served: The Flathead Cherry Belgian Strong packs a punch at 8 percent alcohol by volume, so you’re sipping out of a snifter. That hasn’t slowed down patrons at the bar, however. Taylor says she only works a couple shifts a week, but since the Flathead Cherry was tapped about 10 days ago, it’s been among the most popular.

Great Burn’s other specials: The Greatfruit IPA—a play on words, as it combined Great Burn’s flagship IPA with grapefruit peels—emptied its last keg while we were in the taproom. That means the only other specials are a Candyland IPA (not nearly as sweet as the name would suggest, although it does provide some tropical flavors thanks to Azacca hops) and the aforementioned Belgian Golden Ale. The Amber Sun is set to debut soon.

Where to find ’em: Great Burn is located at 2230 McDonald Ave., behind Jakers, off Brooks Street.

Happiest Hour celebrates western Montana watering holes. To recommend a bar, bartender or beverage for Happiest Hour, email editor@missoulanews.com.

Rockies Today, August 16

Posted By on Tue, Aug 16, 2016 at 1:42 PM

Mountain West News is a service of the O’Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West — a regional studies and public education program at the University of Montana. The Center’s purpose is to serve as an important and credible resource for people in the state and region in understanding the region’s past, present, and future. For more, visit mountainwestnews.org

Former council candidate tries to scold Wells over absenteesim, gets shot down

Posted By on Tue, Aug 16, 2016 at 11:44 AM

During Monday night's Missoula City Council meeting, a former council candidate's attempt to scold Ward 2 representative Harlan Wells for his low attendance record ended with her own admonishment by the mayor.

Anita Green, a Ward 2 resident who ran last year for the seat won by Wells, called his high rate of absenteeism "egregious" and "hypocritical" during public comment, telling him to show up for work or resign. Green, however, was cut off partway through her prepared remarks by Mayor John Engen, who asked her to "wrap it up" because her comments were "bordering on what I consider personal attack here."

It was a deflating conclusion to what Green initially billed as a recall effort in an online Facebook event sent to more than 300 people. The campaign soon transformed into a more modest call for Wells' resignation, and on Monday, Green hadn't gotten to her point when she was asked to stand down.
Anita Green - PHOTO BY BONNIE CHAN
  • photo by Bonnie Chan
  • Anita Green
Wells was in attendance Monday. He leaned back silently in his chair as Green spoke, and did not respond to his former campaign foe's criticism.

Wells has been a lightning rod since elected to council last November, a lone conservative voice who has positioned himself as a fly on the city's back. His absenteeism was documented by the Missoulian in March, just as the freshman councilman announced he was mulling a mayoral run in 2017.

Green told council that many Ward 2 residents don't feel adequately represented by Wells, but only two other residents showed up to speak Monday. Seeing that Wells was in attendance, one of the other speakers withheld his critique and instead thanked city leaders for helping make the Mountain Line bus system fare free.
 
Asked about Green's remarks after the meeting, Wells threw his hands in the air and said Green's actions were "partisan motivated."


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