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West Side Story

Corvallis High School students sing and dance during a dress rehearsal for "West Side Story" on Tuesday, February 20.

• 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 Erlinda Gonzales-Berry, the founder of the nonprofit organization Casa Latinos Unidos de Benton County and the former chair of the Oregon State University Department of Ethnic Studies.

Gonzales-Berry recently was named one of four honorees in this year's Women of Achievement Awards, sponsored by the Oregon Commission for Women. Her name came up again in the Oregon Senate on Thursday, when senators unanimously approved a resolution honoring her and the other winners.

Gonzales-Berry was honored for a lifetime of work to increase equity and inclusion opportunities for Latina women in Oregon.

This year's other winners include Guadalupe Guajardo, a social justice activist; Lillian Luna, an educator and emerging leader; and Anita Yap, an urban planner. It's an impressive list.

The four women now are part of a distinguished list of 92 women who have been honored by the Commission for Women since it started the awards in 1985. In a sad note about these awards, the inaugural winner, Vera Katz, the first woman to serve as the speaker of the House and a former Portland mayor, died this past December.

• ROSES to those of you who slowed down a little during your morning commute on Thursday, navigating our snowy and slushy streets with a bit of extra care. Law enforcement agencies reported very few accidents due to the snowfall on Thursday. Some additional care may be necessary over the next day or two, with the forecast calling for patches of freezing fog.

In the meantime, of course, Corvallis and Benton County had just enough snow on the ground to create snow sculptures and to delight children and dogs. For whatever reason, the snow does not seem to delight our cats.

• ROSES to everyone involved with the Corvallis School District production of "West Side Story," which opened Thursday night and already is generating good buzz. These annual musical productions staged by high school students and community members have become winter highlights in Corvallis, as anyone who's seen some of the previous productions ("Cats" and "Mary Poppins," most recently) can testify. 

As for "West Side Story" itself, it seems to have aged awfully well for a play that debuted more than 60 years ago — and director Laura Beck-Ard has included some sly updates to the classic. (We remain unconvinced, however, of the need to remake the movie version, even though director Steven Spielberg and writer Tony Kushner have announced plans to do just that.) 

• ROSES to the U.S. women's hockey team, which this week won its first Olympic gold medal in 20 years by defeating longtime nemesis Canada in an overtime classic that went into the second round of a shootout before it finally was over. 

When we say "longtime nemesis," we mean it: Every four years at the Olympics, or so it seems, the U.S. team plays Canada for the gold medal. (The exception came in 2006, when the U.S. team fell in the semifinals, to Sweden.) Canada had won four straight gold medals before this year's epic game. 

By the way, this is the same group of American woman that last year battled U.S.A. Hockey for better pay and working conditions and eventually prevailed, in part by threatening to boycott a world championship tournament. We'll want to see all of that story as well on the Wheaties box that honors this team.

• RASPBERRIES to the movie industry: Even in the midst of a year which finally laid to rest the myth that audiences wouldn't flock to films with female leads (think "Wonder Woman" or "Beauty and the Beast" or "Star Wars: The Last Jedi"), the number of films featuring a female protagonist actually dropped.

A new study from San Diego State University examined the protagonists in the 100 top-grossing movies of 2017. The study found that 24 percent of the protagonists in those films were women, a 5 percent drop from 2016.

The study found that women had slightly more speaking roles in those 2017 movies, from 32 percent to 34. The percentage of major female characters in those films stayed the same, at 37 percent.

Last time we looked, however, there were more women than men in the United States. It's a shame that's not reflected yet on the big screen. (And don't get us started yet on the state of affairs behind the camera; time's up indeed.) (mm)


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