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• 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 writer Ursula K. Le Guin, for a lifetime of fueling dreams and crafting literature that entranced and inspired readers (and other writers). Le Guin, a longtime Portland resident, died Monday at home. She was 88 and reportedly had been in poor health for several months.

But what worlds she leaves behind! Although she was best known for her science fiction and fantasy books, she also worked in other genres, including her books tracing the history of a fictional eastern European country (Orsinia) and 1991's "Searoad," a collection of linked short stories about the inhabitants of a fictional Oregon coast town. And, to top it off, she wrote nonfiction as well: Her last published book, "No Time to Spare," is a collection of posts from the blog she maintained from 2010 to last year.

For our money, though, her best book remains "The Left Hand of Darkness," the 1969 masterpiece set on a world where gender is fluid. If anything, the novel is more relevant today than it was when it was first published.

Haven't read Le Guin yet? You're in for a treat. And if you have, all these books hold up well to repeat readings. 

• RASPBERRIES, as always, to scammers. We know you're tired of reading these warnings, but it does seem as if every week brings a fresh report of someone falling prey to these criminals, who are skilled at instilling panic in their victims. 

In the most recent case, a Corvallis woman got a phone call from a person who said her Social Security number had been compromised and that her bank accounts were funneling money to terrorists. The woman was told to purchase Target gift cards to remedy the situation. She did. She's out $3,000. 

If you're in a situation where someone you don't know is on the phone, telling you about a problem you didn't know you had and suggesting that the best way to solve it is to purchase gift cards, here's our advice: Hang up. And then call your local law enforcement agency.

• ROSES to this year's batch of Oscar nominees. Sure, there always will be shocking snubs in the process (no love at all for "Wonder Woman?" Really?), but this year's batch of nominees is an unusually strong list — a reflection of what was an unusually strong year for movies. 

And, yes, we were delighted to see "Get Out," Jordan Peele's crackling horror-comedy, make the list of Best Picture nominees. It won't win, but still. And we were pleased to see Christopher Nolan's remarkable "Dunkirk" slip back into the awards race.

You can see eight of the nine Best Picture nominees in a mid-valley movie theater this week. (The ninth nominee, "Get Out," is on video.) You have until March 4, the date of this year's ceremony, to run the table. Go forth and enjoy.

Speaking of movies:

• Tentative RASPBERRIES to Steven Spielberg's plan to remake "West Side Story." Now, it could very well be that Spielberg will deliver a terrific remake, especially with Tony Kushner writing the screenplay, but we still have to wonder: Does "West Side Story" really need to be remade? Spielberg has said he's always wanted to make a musical, but why not go the "La La Land" route and find an original idea? Or why not take a shot at turning current Tony champ "Dear Evan Hansen" into a film? 

• ROSES to the friends and family of Joseph Novak, the Albany engineer, restaurateur and community leader who died this week at the age of 82. Novak's Hungarian Restaurant has been a mid-valley destination since it opened in 1984, but Novak's service to the community went well beyond that: For starters, he served on the Linn-Benton Community College Board of Education for 25 years.

Novak's story is remarkable: He and his wife, Matilda, fled from their native Hungary during the communist revolution of the mid-1950s. They were caught during their first attempt and spent a year in a holding camp before being allowed to move to the United States. That's undoubtedly part of the reason why Novak never took his adopted country for granted.

As Novak's family noted this week on social media: "Pop used to say, 'What a wonderful, beautiful, glorious day.'" That sounds like quintessential Novak, living a life that was full of joy. He'll be missed. (mm)


Managing Editor

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