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Portland Center Stage presents ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’

Published: Friday, February 25, 2011, 5:00 AM     Updated: Friday, February 25, 2011, 11:46 AM

“Sometimes our choices end up being strangely like premonitions,” director Rose Riordan says about the timing of the production of “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” opening Friday at Portland Center Stage. “In the news lately there’ve been all these stories about the Oregon State Hospital and about the criminally insane, the hospital’s being torn down, and there’s a documentary coming out, and all these things going on.

“But that’s just a coincidence.”

The past few weeks have seen headlines about a wrongful-death suit filed against the state hospital, attempts to match old cremated remains with family members of former patients and a legislative attempt to refine the standards on mental-health commitments of criminals.

Mental illness is a hot topic onstage lately as well. Third Rail Rep just concluded its production of Anthony Neilson’s “The Wonderful World of Dissocia,” about the colorful delusions and numbing hospitalization of a woman with a dissociative disorder. Next week, Oregon Children’s Theatre opens “Chamber Music,” a one-act play set in a 1930s insane asylum.

But, no matter the scheduling of “Cuckoo’s Nest,” the show would have pertinence, immediacy. Ken Kesey’s tale of oppression and rebellion within a state mental hospital is an enduring best-seller and “a paradigm of the successful struggle of the individual against at once an oppressive society, his own human weaknesses, and cosmic indifference to his wishes and welfare,” writes M. Gilbert Porter in “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest: Rising to Heroism.”

It’s an American classic, but more than that, it’s a crucial piece of Northwest lore. Kesey took much of his inspiration for the story from a stint as a night-shift psychiatric aide at Menlo Park Veterans Hospital in California. But having grown up in Springfield, he set the book in the Northwest, and it is rife with references to familiar places and kinds of people.

Stepping out of film’s shadow

Published in 1962, Kesey’s novel has been an enduring success, included by Time magazine on its list of the “100 best English-language novels from 1923-2005.” The 1963 stage adaptation by Dale Wasserman ran on Broadway, but it is Milos Forman’s 1975 film — which starred Jack Nicholson as the charismatic hero Randle McMurphy and won five major Academy Awards — that lingers the most in popular memory.

“When I took the play home, all these memories of the movie came rushing through my head,” Riordan recalls. “I saw it once, years ago, and I hadn’t realized what a strong impression it had made on me. There were details of the movie that were still fresh in my head.”

To a much greater extent than when Portland Center Stage created a version of Kesey’s other masterpiece, “Sometimes a Great Notion,” in 2008, putting “Cuckoo’s Nest” on stage requires not just capturing some essential quality of the novel but stepping out of the shadow of the film.

“Now the book is our only reference,” Riordan says. “We haven’t watched the movie, we don’t talk about the movie; I think that’s a slippery slope. The challenge of course is: ‘What are people’s expectations going to be?’ I think if we do our job right, they may have expectations when we start, but I think they will allow us to tell the story.

“I actually feel more confident doing it here in Portland than if it was in a different city. I think more people are going to connect with it because they’ve read the book, as opposed to referencing the movie.”

Four ‘Chronics’ added to cast
The milky-sounding strings of easy-listening music waft through the large, third-floor rehearsal room at the Gerding Theater on a recent afternoon, a purposeful contrast to the orchestrated chaos being acted out. The cast is working on a scene in which McMurphy, a gambler and roustabout who had figured a stay in the mental hospital would be easier than completing his assault sentence on a work farm, is throwing a party. He bribes a guard, sneaks in women and liquor, and tries to show the other patients how to let loose and live.

Riordan stops the actors from time to time, suggesting adjustments to the timing of the lines, the traffic of people and props. She also has a word of general advice about how they approach their characters: “Follow your lesser impulses.”

Stacked benches and sheet-music stands are arranged in a rough facsimile of the nurse’s station, which gets appropriated as a makeshift bar. Several men in pale bluish-green scrubs whoop it up in a kind of awkward revelry. Toward the back of the room, away from the main action, Noel Plemmons tenses and twists his body, sometimes gibbering inaudibly as he makes his way slowly around a gurney.

Plemmons is known around Portland as a dancer, not an actor, but he’s one of four cast members Riordan has added to the 16 called for in the script. The new four are what are known within the story as “Chronics,” those not expected to recover from their debilitated state.

“They’re part of the smell of the hospital,” Riordan says. “But they don’t have a function that’s spelled out in the script. So adding more bodies to the stage has been really complicated.”

Getting the atmosphere of the hospital right might be of particular concern for this production, the aforementioned Oregon State Hospital being where the novel was set (presumably) and the film was shot.

In late January, on the second day of rehearsals, the cast took a rented bus on a field trip to the hospital. Riordan talks of “rolling up to the hospital and trying to imagine, if you were sick, what it would feel like (to arrive there). Would it be comforting? Would it be frightening? I think about it a lot. I guess it would depend on what your Achilles’ heel is. I think I could deal with whatever kind of physical disability. But losing your mind — I can’t imagine the fear that would go along with that.”

The actors weren’t able to observe patients, and the main area where filming had taken place had just been torn down. But PJ Sosko, who plays McMurphy, and Tim Sampson, who plays longtime patient Chief Bromden, were let into an atrium “where that first unshackling scene with Jack Nicholson was filmed — that sent shivers up my spine,” Sosko says.

Sampson had been there before. His father, Will Sampson, played Chief Bromden in the movie, and a few years later brought Tim to see the hospital. “The building’s changed, but the spirit of it is there,” Tim Sampson says.

No doubt he and the rest of the folks at Center Stage are hoping the spirit of Kesey’s novel is there onstage in this “Cuckoo’s Nest.” Sosko, a New Yorker who last performed here as Hank Stamper in “Sometimes a Great Notion,” believes that spirit is especially important — and reachable — here, on the story’s home turf.

“I know that the people coming to see this are excited to see this story come alive for them,” he says. “There’s nowhere else you can do this play where it will have the same kind of effect.”

Marty Hughley

Continue reading here: Portland Center Stage presents ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’

Friday Freebies: Free Starbucks, IHOP Pancakes, and Mini Photo-Album – WalletPop

maple syrup and pancakes - friday freebiesDoes it get any better than free food? Nope! I’m not a tease, so without further ado let me share the four amazing free food deals in this week’s Friday Freebies. Plus there is a free mini-photo book and free sample of shampoo and conditioner. Yee-haw!

Fill your belly with a short stack of free pancakes at IHOP on Tuesday, Mar. 1, 2011. The tasty freebie is part of the restaurant’s annual fundraiser for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. A short stack has three pancakes and is quite filling (I took it upon myself to test this freebie, ahem, for research.)

You can get the free pancakes between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m. on Tuesday. In exchange, IHOP asks that you leave a donation for the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. Last year, IHOP guests raised more than $2.1 million. This year the goal is to raise $2.3 million. Since the charity freebie began in 2006, IHOP has given away more than 10.1 million pancakes!

As a fun twist, you can set up a reminder call about free pancake day from a celebrity. Your celebrity wake up call options include NFL Hall of Famer Steve Young, 2011 Miss America Teresa Scanlan, Children’s Miracle Network co-founder Marie Osmond, Dukes of Hazzard and Smallville star John Schneider, or David Archuleta of American Idol.

Caveats: One free short stack of pancakes per guest. Dine in only at participating restaurants. Cannot be combined with any other offer or coupon.

Grab a free cup of Starbucks coffee this Saturday, Feb. 26, 2011, when you take a guided tour of the newish NOOK Color device at Barnes & Noble. Previously, the Nook was only available in black and white. The free coffee is available while supplies last and must be a non-customized, tall size drink. You can get it hot or iced. No coupon needed. With Nook Color you can read newspapers, magazines and books in color. The Color version has WiFi built in so you can also search the Web on the 7-inch screen and listen to music. The Associated Press calls the device the Best Dedicated eReader. It retails for $249.

Free coffee caveats: One per customer at participating Barnes & Noble Cafés. May not be combined with any other coupon or offer. Not valid at Starbucks Coffee locations, Cafés operated by Starbucks at Barnes & Noble retail stores, BN.COM or Barnes & Noble College Bookstores.

The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf is introducing a new line of peach-flavored beverages by giving a bunch away on Tuesday, Mar. 1, 2011, from 4-7 p.m. The freebie is for a 12-ounce sample, which is very generous. The peachy drinks are to celebrate spring, although at least in my neck of the woods, that’s still wishful thinking.

The drinks include a Peach Tea Latte, which has “notes of honey,” a Peach Iced Tea Latte, and a Peach FruTea, which is an ice blended beverage that has a hint of green tea. Caveats: The freebie giveaway is happening at participating locations only. Not valid at Ralphs locations. Cannot be combined with any other coupon or offer.

Make friends with SOYJOY on Facebook and get a free SOYJOY bar, a combination of baked whole soy and fruit. Available while supplies last or until Apr. 1, 2011. The bars come in three flavors, blueberry, strawberry, and banana. I hope I get strawberry!

Start by clicking the link above, then “like” the company’s fan page and click where it says “Click here, if you dare?” Allow SOYJOY basic access to your profile, then take one of six dares. I chose the foodie dare (I dare to eat kale!) then uploaded a picture of my dog to “document” the dare.

You can also upload a video. Almost immediately I received an email from SOYJOY with a link to claim my freebie. The link took me to a request form where I shared my name, address, email, date of birth and gender. That’s a lot of steps — and about seven minutes of my time — to get free food. As a shortcut, you might be able to go straight to the freebie request page here.

Caveats: Available to U.S. residents only. One SOYJOY bar per person, household address, code and/or email address. Once you submit the final request form, the free bar takes 6-8 weeks to arrive.

You don’t need to be a Costco member to get a free sample of the warehouse’s Kirkland Signature Professional Salon Quality Moisture Shampoo and Conditioner. (Kirkland is Costco’s in-house brand).

Available while supplies last. To get a free sample, share your name, address, email and date of birth. Filling in your gender is optional. You’ll also be asked four multiple choice questions about your shampoo habits. By requesting the freebie, you’re also joining Costco’s email list. You can unsubscribe later, however.

This line of hair cleaners purports to be ultra-luxurious, sulfate-free and safe enough for color-treated hair. The formula is paraben-free and gluten-free, so it is vegan. Caveats: The free sample will take 4-6 weeks to arrive. Available to U.S. residents only. One sample per household. You must be 18 or older to receive this sample.

Get a free mini photo album from Eco Photo Imaging, a processing and printing company based in Baltimore. The freebie is yours when you share your name, address, and email. On top of the free mini photo album, you’ll receive by mail a packet of info about the photo company (i.e. a sales pitch). It is unclear how long this freebie will last.

Eco Photo Imaging says it does not use your data for any purpose other than sending you the info and mini photo album. However, if you decide to place an order, your info will already be in its sales system. I would expect a few emails and mailers about the company, too. Just a hunch.

Continue reading here: Friday Freebies: Free Starbucks, IHOP Pancakes, and Mini Photo-Album – WalletPop

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Berkeley home moves across town, slice of history saved – Berkeleyside

The second story of the Cheney Cottage makes its way along Sacramento Street on Sunday February 20. Photo: Tracey Taylor.

Last Sunday, a house went on a journey across Berkeley. To be precise, it was half a house, the top half, and eagle-eyed Berkeleyans may have spotted it making its way, slowly, at walking pace, from Albany Village into Berkeley on 8th Street, then down Gilman, down 6th onto University and then along Sacramento until it reached its new home on 62nd Street.

The house belongs to Tom White and Dmitri Belser who bought it for $16.00 from UC Berkeley in 2009 after it was advertised on Craigslist and Ebay.

Known as the Cheney Cottage, it is the smaller of two properties originally located at 2241 and 2243 College Avenue on the Cal campus and built by journalist and real-estate agent Lemuel Warren Cheney. The larger of the two homes, the Cheney House, was demolished in March 2010 after the university failed to find a buyer for it. Built in 1885, the Cheney House was believed to be the second oldest surviving structure in the Berkeley Property Tract. (Read the full history on the Berkeley Architectural Heritage Association website.)

Dmitri Belser (middle) and Tom White (right) with 62nd Street neighbor. Photo: Diane Dew.

The landmarked Cheney Cottage was built in 1902 as a rental property for Cheney and his wife May. It appears to have been inspired by Bernard Maybeck’s Boke House on Panoramic Way

White and Belser, who have a history of renovating period homes, both in San Francisco and Berkeley, say they are making it their business to “restore old Berkeley”. “We’re just two individuals with a love of Berkeley history,” says White. “It’s a hobby,” he adds, “we both have full-time jobs.” White is the publisher of Home Energy Magazine and Belser is the president of the recently opened Ed Robert Campus.

On their 62nd St blog, the couple have documented their latest, ambitious restoration project. The blog’s sub-title — “How a gay blind jew and his lover of 30 years managed to move two 100 year old houses and restore them — and lived to tell the tale” — speaks volumes.

The couple has fought a long battle to move the house. White says the bureaucratic hoops they have been required to jump through by the City of Berkeley have been legion and time-consuming. The Cheney Cottage was sliced in half in April 2010, and they were all set to move the two halves last summer, but problems with permits put four months on the project.

“The property was almost destroyed by the weather during that time — it degraded its value and we will have to do more restoration work than we’d planned,” says White. “It’s sad that the city does not do more to encourage the restoration of its historic architecture,” he says.

And the pair are are not quite done yet. The first floor of the Cheney Cottage is due to be moved on Sunday March 6. Then both sections will be reunited – — which involves, says White, hoisting the top half high up into the air before placing it carefully on its counterpart.

Half of the Cheney Cottage in front of the Delaney Cottage.

The Cheney Cottage will be sited next to the existing property that the pair own on 62nd Street — a Frontier Italianate style cottage which the couple have moved to the back of the lot to make room for its new neighbor. They are also in the process of restoring it.

“It’s one of the oldest homes in South Berkeley,” says White, who refers to it as the Delaney Cottage and dates it to at least the 1880s, perhaps even the 1870s. The couple’s research, including conversations with neighbors, reveals that the home was likely to have been surrounded by corrals originally, and probably belonged to a farmhand. Cattle drives were common on the street back then.

Diane Dew documented the first part of the Cheney Cottage’s move in a series of photographs. Another friend and neighbor, Pete Alvarez, shot a six-minute video of the move, which, according to White, went relatively smoothly. He says he police had to go ahead to stop traffic at one point and a couple of trees had to be trimmed for clearance. But, as he points out, “One more move to go and we’ll be old hands at this.”

Continue reading here: Berkeley home moves across town, slice of history saved – Berkeleyside

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Celtics get Thunder’s Jeff Green – ESPN

Celts Get Jeff Green
Thunder trade Jeff Green, Nenad Krstic to Celtics for Kendrick Perkins, Nate RobinsonTags: NBA, Fantasy NBA, Boston Celtics, Oklahoma City Thunder, Jeff Green, SportsCenter, Chad Ford, Nenad Krstic, Kendrick Perkins, Nate Robinson, Celts

Celts Get Jeff Green


Just before Thursday’s 3 p.m. ET trade deadline, the Boston Celtics agreed to ship center Kendrick Perkins and guard Nate Robinson to the Oklahoma City Thunder for forward Jeff Green and big man Nenad Krstic in a deal the NBA approved about five hours later.

The Celtics also received cash and a 2012 first-round pick that was previously owned by the Los Angeles Clippers as part of the deal.

Neither team was done, though.

The Celtics also traded rookie center Semih Erden and forward Luke Harangody to the Cleveland Cavaliers for a 2013 second-round draft pick. The Cavaliers waived veteran forward Leon Powe to make roster room after also trading away Mo Williams and Jamario Moon for the Clippers’ Baron Davis in a separate move.

Celtics coach Doc Rivers admitted the jury is initially out on the trades, but felt like they will pay dividends for Boston down the road.

“The bottom line is: We’ll see,” Rivers said Thursday before Boston’s game at Denver. “We think we did pretty well today. … Whoever is the single best player in the trade, that’s who you try to get. Whether that’s Jeff Green or Perk, we don’t know that. Krstic is a good piece for us as well. He spreads the floor, which I think is great for [Rajon] Rondo. Jeff Green spreads the floor, too.”

“We needed to get that [small forward or power forward] swing guy,” Rivers added. “One of the things I was just saying is that this gives us the ability — like the year we won it — at times we can go small with Green at the 4 and Kevin [Garnett] at the 5, with Paul [Pierce] and Ray [Allen] spreading the floor. We’ve been trying to get that lineup ever since [James] Posey left. You forget how many times we did that in the playoffs, which was every fourth quarter. We haven’t been able to duplicate that and, in some ways, it’s hurt Rondo.”

While the Celtics were unloading big men, the Thunder acquired another one, sending Morris Peterson and D.J. White to Charlotte for center Nazr Mohammed, sources told ESPN The Magazine’s Ric Bucher.

Celtics director of basketball operations Danny Ainge said Wednesday that Perkins is out at least a week after spraining the medial collateral ligament in his left knee. He missed 43 games this season recovering from right knee surgery.

Robinson tweeted reaction to the deal: “All I can say is wowzers — Will miss all my Boston fans I love y’all, u guys showed me love.”

It’s a homecoming of sorts for Green. He was selected by the Celtics in the first round (fifth overall) in the 2007 draft. But he was traded with Wally Szczerbiak and Delonte West to the then Seattle SuperSonics for Ray Allen and Glen Davis.

The Celtics’ pursuit of a slashing-type player intensified when it became apparent that Marquis Daniels might miss the rest of the season with a spinal injury. Daniels himself will be rehabbing in Sacramento. The Celtics traded him and cash considerations to the Kings on Thursday for a protected second-round pick in the 2017 draft, Kings president of basketball operations Geoff Petrie announced.

Daniels appeared in 49 games for the Celtics this season. He is averaging 5.5 points and 2.3 rebounds. He has been out since bruising his spinal cord on Feb. 6 against Orlando.

Green is averaging 15.2 points and 5.6 rebounds this season as the third option for the Thunder behind Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. In his three-year career, he has averaged 14.2 points and 5.8 rebounds per game.

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On his Twitter account, Durant said: “Tough day for me and my teammates … good luck to jeff green, nenad krstic.”

The deal gives the Thunder the big man that they’ve been looking for all season. Perkins has played in just 12 games this season, but the Thunder have felt for a while that they need a veteran big man to truly compete with the Spurs, Mavs and Lakers in the West.

The deal also gives the Thunder something for Green, who becomes a restricted free agent this summer. Green had rejected a contract extension offer from the Thunder earlier this season.

For the Celtics, they take a big risk that their big men — who are now Shaquille O’Neal, Kevin Garnett and Krstic — can lead them. But with Jermaine O’Neal out until April after knee surgery and Shaquille O’Neal currently out with an Achilles injury, these are interesting trades for a Celtics team trying to win a championship. Krstic is an offensive talent down low, but isn’t known as a rebounder or a tough defender. He is averaging 7.6 points and 4.4 rebounds per game.

Rivers indicated that once Shaquille O’Neal is healthy enough to return to action, he will be the team’s starting center and his play with the starting unit this season was a big reason Boston was able to make this deal.

“Shaq’s a key component of this,” said Rivers. “We need to get Shaq healthy and Shaq will be healthy. If Shaq plays great, this deal was actually really good for us. That’s on Shaq. We have to get Shaq in great shape, get him ready, get him healthy. He’s really going to be important for us in the playoffs.”

To shore up their front line in the meantime, the Celtics signed center Chris Johnson to a 10-day contract Thursday. Johnson was averaging 16.9 points, 9.6 rebounds and 2.8 blocks in 32.7 minutes per game for the D-League’s Dakota Wizards and also played briefly with the Trail Blazers earlier this season.

Green is a young talent who can play both the 3 and the 4 and could be part of a longer rebuilding strategy.

Erden and Harangody are both rookies and were moved, in part, for the
Celtics to open roster spots. The Celtics may be making room to sign potential free agents who may be bought out of their contracts, league sources told’s Brian Windhorst.

Erden is averaging 4.1 points and 2.9 rebounds in 37 games and has been bothered by several injuries. He is planning to have shoulder surgery to repair a partially torn labrum in the offseason. Harangody has averaged 2.3 points and 2 rebounds in 28 games.

The draft pick going to Boston is the Timberwolves’ 2013 second-round pick that the Cavs acquired last summer as a part of a trade for Ramon Sessions and Ryan Hollins.

Robinson is averaging 7.1 points in 17.9 minutes per game this season.

Chris Sheridan covers the NBA for Chad Ford is the ESPN NBA Insider. Information from’s Brian Windhorst and’s Chris Forsberg was used in this report.

Continue reading here: Celtics get Thunder’s Jeff Green – ESPN

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