After a challenging process of interviewing several promising applicants, when I asked Mandi Smith Donohue to become the Mazama correspondent for our Valley Life page she had a typical comeback.
“I thought you liked me,” she said in mock horror at the offer, as if I were asking her to do something personally degrading.
You have to know Mandi a bit to appreciate her quick and quirky sense of humor, honed during years of improvisational comedy performances in the tough Los Angeles market. It was her way of saying, “of course.”
Mandi is a master of cryptic deadpan delivery (you pause for a beat, wondering if she’s serious, which is hardly ever) and offbeat observation.
Many of you will know Mandi from her acting (and singing) roles in several productions at The Merc Playhouse, including Twelfth Night and The Importance of Being Earnest. Others are happily familiar with the scrumptious cakes, pies, pastries and other goodies that she produces in her full-time job as a baker at the Mazama Store.
I’ll let her explain herself more in her introductory column, which will appear when she gets back from her honeymoon with husband Lliam Donohue.
I was gratified to have such a strong field of candidates to choose from — so much so that I’m contemplating launching a new column for Valley Life with the working titles of “All Things Methow” (credit to National Public Radio) or “Methow At Large,” using contributions from the all over the valley from anyone who thinks they have something interesting to say about living here. It could be a way to get more voices and variety in the newspaper — not opinion pieces or My Turn columns, but rather personal insights about what goes on around the Methow. Let me know if you are someone who’d be interesting in contributing.
For the record
In other newspaper news, we are pleased to be named, in partnership with the Okanogan Valley Gazette-Tribune of Oroville, Okanogan County’s legal newspaper of record for the next year. The contract was awarded last week by the county commissioners after they heard a challenge to our joint bid from the Omak/Okanogan Chronicle, which has had the legals contract for the past several years.
Certain matters, including land-use decisions, special meetings and some court proceedings, are required by law to be advertised in the newspaper of record.
If we had been in the Chronicle’s position, we might have also appealed the commissioners’ original decision to award the contract to the Methow Valley News/Gazette-Tribune combination. The Chronicle’s countywide circulation is higher than the combined circulations of the News and Gazette-Tribune, but we offered the county a lower cost for publication. By state law, the newspaper of record must be a general-circulation newspaper. There is no requirement for elected officials to select the paper with the widest circulation.
I suspect we’ll see spirited competition again next year for the contract. In the meantime, you’ll be seeing more legal advertising from the county in the News.
Another entry in the shameless promotion department: I was happy to see several copies of the movie “The Confirmation” available at Valley Video in Twisp last weekend. The movie was written, directed and co-produced by my brother Bob Nelson, who was an Academy Award nominee for his original screenplay for the movie “Nebraska.”
Other than a pre-release screening that Bob shared at our mom’s house, I hadn’t seen the movie in a theater or found it for sale yet. So of course I rented it.
Like “Nebraska” — but with a different setting and cast of characters —“The Confirmation” is drawn from the Nelson family experience in our hometown of Kent, Washington. Bob calls it something of a thematic “prequel” to Nebraska. Clive Owen stars as a divorced, recovering alcoholic dad who spends the weekend with his young son (Jaeden Lieberher, who was impressive in “St. Vincent”). Adventures and comedy ensue as the two try to find dad’s stolen toolbox. Other cast members are familiar actors who many of you will recognize.
If you rent the movie, be sure to watch the “extra” features for more insight from Bob and the actors about “The Confirmation,” an independent film that has a favorable rating on the Rotten Tomatoes website.