Jefferson Monthly

Features and columns published in the Jefferson Monthly.

Rich Orris

Kristian Matsson is an indie folk singer/songwriter and guitarist who performs under the stage name of The Tallest Man on Earth. Born in 1983 in Dalarna Sweden, he first broke into music as a member of the group Montezumas. Matsson struck out on his own in 2006, using his stage name, with a five song self-titled EP. Four full-length recordings and one more EP followed. He has been compared stylistically to Bob Dylan in vocal and songwriting skills. His sound is also reminiscent of Nick Drake and Laura Marling.

Wikimedia Commons

Once upon a time, about a 1,000 years ago in Internet years, people who wanted to use a computer had to invest some time into learning the fundamentals. These were in the ancient times before the Graphical User Interface, or GUI (pronounced “gooey”), which enabled users to use a mouse-pointer or a stylus or their finger to click on colorful icons and drop-down menu items.

Jenny Graham

The OSF production of Eugene O’Neill’s autobiographical Long Day’s Journey into Night starts with a special moment. In the meticulously realistic living room of a summer house, an older couple form a picture of playful affection. A young man enters, studies them, then retreats. With this hint of a distancing frame around the action to follow, director Christopher Liam Moore moves to transform an inexorably dark drama into a cathartic memory play.

Stuart Mullenberg

This American Life creator Ira Glass recently caused a ruckus in public media circles when he told a reporter covering an April event designed to attract potential podcast funders: “My hope is that we can move away from a model of asking listeners for money and join the free market. I think we’re ready for capitalism, which made this country so great. Public radio is ready for capitalism.”

Public media idealists bristled at the notion, lighting up social media sites to criticize Glass for selling out.

In Praise Of Oaks

Jul 1, 2015
Wikimedia Commons | M.O. Stevens

It is winter, the fog along the river heavy as sodden wool, the ramparts of Table Rock looming high above. I have to place my feet carefully on the rock-strewn slope, and when I raise my eyes, a great shape blocks my way, stretching gnarled hands out of the mist. I gasp, and a jay jeers in derisive laughter at my alarm, breaking the spell. What stands before me is no malignant giant, but an ancient lichen-shrouded oak, most benevolent of Oregon trees.

All Things JPR

Jun 1, 2015
Sue Jaffe

It’s been a busy time here at JPR and I thought I’d take a moment in this month’s column to provide listeners a quick summary of recent developments.

                                                       Spring Fund Drive

We completed our Spring Fund Drive in April and, as usual, it was a wild ride.  It took us a few extra hours past our 8pm deadline on the last night to reach our $190,000 goal and over half of the funds we raised were pledged during the last two days of the drive.  As important an accomplishment as reaching our goal, was the fact that we significantly increased the number of sustaining members from 26% of our supporters to 32%.  This huge jump will have a positive impact on our operations in the months ahead, lowering our overall fundraising costs and evening out cash flow to fund our expenses.  With April now behind us, we’ll continue to work with listeners mostly off air during May and June to raise $140,000 in order to reach our annual listener support goal for our fiscal year which ends on June 30th. We appreciate the generous support and many comments about how much listeners value our service.

Jenny Graham

Fingersmith breathes subterfuge.  Peopled by pickpockets and con artists, its action descends a rabbit hole of nefarious plotting.  The central characters are all involved in tricking each other, and although they continually break the fourth wall to address us, we can’t rely on them to speak the truth.

The Quantum Race

Jun 1, 2015

All the big tech companies (and at least one U.S. government agency with the acronym NSA) are in a race to be the first to capture computing’s Holy Grail—the qubit. A qubit, or quantum bit, is the basic unit of information in a quantum computer. A qubit is different from a classical bit in computing, which can only exist in one state or another.

Pat Elmen

Jun 1, 2015
Wikimedia Commons

I barely recognized her, but nursing homes are helpful in this way. The placard by her door read “Mrs. Patricia Elmen,” so I knew this was my favorite high school English teacher, despite her bloated cheeks and chin, her rotting teeth, her vacant stare.

I called ahead this week during a visit to Chicago. The nursing home staff suggested I come after her nap, but before dinnertime. If they had used the term “feeding time,” I would have been better prepared. Mrs. Elmen taught us that concision comes from using the right words. 

One Hit Wonders?

Jun 1, 2015

If you grew up listening to ‘Pop’ music from the 1950’s on, you are probably aware of the concept of the ‘one-hit wonder.’ It got me thinking about whether there is such a thing in classical music and how would you define the terms. What constitutes a ‘hit’ from the classical standpoint? Should I consider composers who were known for mainly one work but had in fact written more? Fortunately I am able to play more than just the top 100 best classical pieces, so defining what a hit is for the JPR listener may be a bit broader, but there are a number of pieces that still qualify.

Jessica Love


On the last afternoon of my thirties, I sat across from my friend Maria at an outdoor cafe. I took a sip of chai  and fretted: “I think I’m out-aging my lifestyle.” We were in Pokhara, Nepal, one of the world’s well-known backpacker ghettos. Chinese, Europeans, and Americans wandered by, most in their early twenties and on a gap year. They shouldered oversized bags and pared their hiking boots with loose pants procured probably from the beaches of Koh Phangan.

Laura Daugherty balances a small tray on one gloved hand, like a waiter at black-tie restaurant.

Today’s main course is ring-necked pheasant – freshly skinned and raw.

Her patrons are a teeming pile of flesh-eating beetles.

“I’m sure they’re pretty hungry,” she says of the half-inch long insects. “And this is a nice fresh body for them to work on.”

Michael Joyce

Frost apparently lingered a while before choosing the less traveled way.

Johnson sold his soul there. The price was virtuosity.

Yogi Berra’s advice was this: “when you come to a fork in the road, take it."

As metaphors go, crossroads are right up there with rivers and doorways. They seem to conjure a symmetry or polarity we can wrap our heads around. Perhaps an intrigue in positioning ourselves at the intersection of convergence and divergence, or dilemma and opportunity. But intersections have always held fascination for me more for what happens around them. I don’t deliberate my direction so much as wonder what are the stories here?

If there is an intersection in Arcata, California that holds sway for me it is the intersection of Tenth & H. Just one block north of the town plaza. Why? The obvious answer is that here I can find funky books, independent films, a burrito with authentic mole sauce, and a character who runs a cluttered shop with a clear sense of humor. That’s the veneer of the TinCan Mailman Used Bookstore, The Minor Theater, La Chiquita Taco Truck, and The Koop. But veneer is what I wanted to scrape away when I went looking for stories at this crossroads.

Jenny Graham

The history of adapting Damon Runyon’s story collection, Guys and Dolls, for the stage is as full of twists and turns as the musical itself. Example: the producers went through two writers before landing on their third choice, Abe Burrows. His predecessors had each been deemed not funny enough, but Burrows was warned not to be too funny by librettist Frank Loesser, who had already written most of the show’s songs. Though confident of the comic punch of his lyrics, was Loesser feeling protective of the tenderness that infuses so many of them?

I’ve been writing about technology for just over a decade now. I’ve worked in the field of information technology for twice as long as that now and, most recently, had the distinguished title of “Director of Technology” bestowed upon me by my current employer. What I find most fascinating (and perhaps a bit disturbing) about this is that I still don’t know exactly what “technology” is. 

New Partners

May 1, 2015

During the coming months, JPR will be collaborating with the Seattle-based non-profit journalism organization InvestigateWest to produce a series of stories that explore different aspects of Oregon’s timber economy with a focus on how they play out in Southern Oregon. 

Geoffrey Riley

Let me introduce you to an old friend, the MD. And in this case, MD does NOT stand for Medical Doctor, but MiniDisc, a device for quick recording of audio tracks. Once upon a time, MDs were the new best friends of radio news departments. Now, the few of us who still use them can’t wait to see them go. And it won’t be long.

Another school year whizzed by. Children are thrilled with thoughts of endless summer and their counterparts in education, teachers, are cleaning up their rooms so they won’t return to a disaster in the short months until school resumes in the fall. For new teachers time still runs relatively slowly, but the older-timers know time speeds up as you age. It’s a fact.  

The Medford Police Department

Lieutenant Kevin Walruff, 49, is a big, clean-shaven man wearing a light blue button-down and a Santa Claus and reindeer tie. I follow him down a hallway and into a conference room in the nondescript building of florescent lighting and concrete blocks that currently houses the Medford Police Department. I notice that he has handcuffs clipped to his pants and .40-caliber Glock holstered at his waist.

NBC News

We live in an age that worships celebrity; a time where personalities such as Kim Kardashian or Paris Hilton can be “famous for being famous.” So-called “reality” TV shows blur the line between the scripted and the genuine, and as a society we seem increasingly comfortable with a very elastic definition of “real.”