Obit Walter Becker (copy)

Steely Dan co-founders Walter Becker, left, and Donald Fagen pose for a photo Oct. 29, 1977, in Los Angeles. Becker, the guitarist and bassist of Steely Dan, has died at 67. 

NICK UT, ASSOCIATED PRESS

• ROSE (roz) n. One of the most beautiful of all flowers, a symbol of fragrance and loveliness. Often given as a sign of appreciation.

• RASPBERRY (raz’ber’e) n. A sharp, scornful comment, criticism or rebuke; a derisive, splatting noise, often called the Bronx cheer.

We hereby deliver:

• ROSES to Thursday's rain. In a few months, of course, we'll all be complaining again about the rain — it's one of the ways we pass the time during mid-valley winters. However, we bet that you were excited to see even the relatively small amount of rain that fell in the mid-valley on Thursday afternoon. We'll need a lot more rain, of course, to put much of a dent in the state's wildfires — and we're hoping that the lightning strikes that came, in some cases, with the rain won't blossom into new fires. But Thursday's rain was a welcome sight indeed.

• ROSES to the 25th anniversary of Random Review, the long-running program of book reviews at the Corvallis-Benton County Public Library. 

For a quarter-century now, reviewers have been holding forth on a variety of selected books, typically to big crowds. For a celebration scheduled for Wednesday noon at the library, 645 NW Monroe Ave., a group of readers will offer selections from some of the most notable books from previous years. Among the titles to be featured: "Being Mortal," "Seabiscuit," "All the Light We Cannot See," "Beloved," "The Grapes of Wrath," and "Riverwalking," by Corvallis author Kathleen Dean Moore.

The new season of Random Review begins on Oct. 11. The season includes the usual eclectic assortment of books, including Matthew Desmond's remarkable "Evicted," Colson Whitehead's "The Underground Railroad" and Hope Jahren's "Lab Girl." 

The library is one of Corvallis' treasures; Random Review is one of the reasons why.  

• ROSES to another happy anniversary: Sunday brings the 10th edition of the Benton County Sheriff's Office Cook-Off, which has raised thousands of dollars for worthy causes and served up a lot of good chili over the last decade. This year's beneficiaries will be local law enforcement K-9 programs and the Benton County Sheriff's Mounted Posse. 

The event fires up at noon and runs until 4 at the Benton County Fairgrounds. 

• RASPBERRIES to the untimely death of Walter Becker, half of the idiosyncratic music duo Steely Dan, which blended rock 'n' roll with jazz and an ironic view of the world to create memorable music for more than 40 years.

Steely Dan started life as a more-or-less conventional rock band with 1972's "Can't Buy a Thrill," but it was clear from the start that Becker, who played guitar and bass, and Donald Fagen, who played keyboards and sang, were the heart of the band. It didn't take long for the other musicians to drop off, leaving the two to create Steely Dan albums with a rotating crew of crackerjack rock and jazz players.

After a long hiatus, Becker and Fagen assembled an ace touring band, made new fans and even released two albums of new material.

Becker died last weekend of undisclosed causes; he was 67. Fagen said he planned to carry on the Dan's legacy as long as he could; that seems a fitting tribute, but we can't shake the sense that Becker died too young.

• ROSES to the long career of U.S. poet John Ashbery, who died early Sunday at the age of 90. It's a shame that poets aren't household names in the United States, but Ashbery came close during his career. His 1975 collection "Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror" won a Pulitzer Prize as well as the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Prize, a rare triple crown in the book world. Ashbery also was given a National Humanities Medal in 2011 for changing "how we read poetry."

The way to read Ashbery is not necessarily to try to understand what exactly the poet means but rather to just enjoy and delight in language being used in unexpected, often playful ways. Ashbery himself had a dry, self-effacing sense of humor that sometimes shines through in his poems. In a 2008 interview, he joked that if he could turn his name into a verb, "to Ashbery," it would mean "to confuse the hell out of people." 

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