Friday, August 27, 2010

The great educational-income divide

Posted By on Fri, Aug 27, 2010 at 3:23 PM

For anyone who doubts that Spokane contains some pretty sweeping income disparities, check this out. 

Moran Prairie, way up on the southeast South Hill, has 9.6percent of its students qualifying for free or reduced-price lunch.Only children that come from families with low-incomes qualify. Afamily of four that makes less than $28,665 a year, for example, qualifies for free lunch ($40,793 for reduced lunch.)

Holmes Elementary, in the West Central neighborhood, meanwhile, has 90.9 percent of its students eligible for free or reduced lunch. 

Sowhat are the actual differences between the richest school in theSpokane School District, and the poorest school in the Spokane SchoolDistrict? 

The unexcused absence rate at Holmes is five times higher the rate at Moran Prairie. 

In May, Moran Prairie had 123 more students than Holmes, but25 fewer special education students. Holmes is made up 61.5 percent white students.Moran Prairie? 88.5 percent.

Two-thirds of the teachers at Holmes have at least a master’s degree, whileabout three-fourths of the teachers at Moran Prairie do. (Yet, in bothschools, 100 percent of the teachers meet the “Highly Qualified” NoChild Left Behind definition.)

And then we come to the scores for the WASL, one of the tests most affected byincome level. In 2009, 95.5 percent of the fourth-graders at MoranPrairie passed the Reading WASL, 78.8 passed the Math  WASL, and 86.4percent passed the writing WASL. At Holmes, meanwhile only 71.2 percent of the fourth-graders passed their Reading WASL test, 35.6 passed their WASL Math test, and only 12.1 percent passed the Writing WASL. That's a pretty dramatic disparity.

(All data is from May of 2009, the most recent date available.The WASL, of course, has been replaced by a new series of tests.)

Want to check out the stats for the school in your neighborhood? Click here,then click on the tab that says "Holmes Elementary" and switch to theelementary, middle, or high school in your neighborhood.

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The Inlander's Wild Stab-in-the-Dark Emmy Predictions

Posted By on Fri, Aug 27, 2010 at 10:16 AM

The Official Inlander Academy Awards Party consisted of the entire editorial staff dressing in their finest niceties, driving over to the swanky abode of staff writer Nicholas Deshais and wryly commenting on the festivities while sipping movie-themed cocktails.

The Official Inlander Emmys party this Sunday night will consist of me, alone, watching a fuzzy internet stream of the festivities while occasionally taking a swig from a measuring cup (no clean glasses) of pineapple-orange-banana juice. A good time will be had by me, I'm sure.

So in preparation, here are our Emmy predictions, despite the fact that I haven't seen many of the nominated television shows. (Which makes me perfect to get into the Emmy voter mindset.)


Outstanding Drama Series

True Blood, Dexter, Mad Men, The Good Wife, Breaking Bad, Lost

Will win: Lost. In the same way Return of the King, the weakest Lord of the Rings movie, won Best Picture, one of the weakest seasons of Lost will be rewarded for the entire run of an incredible can-never-happen-again television show.

Should win: Breaking Bad. I've never seen better, crazier, tenser, gutsier television than Breaking Bad's third season. Also, there was an entire episode about the protagonist trying to swat a fly. And it was AMAZING.

Shouldn't have been nominated: True Blood. Disclaimer: I've only seen clips. I've only read reviews. I've only seen Entertainment Weekly covers. But is True Blood great great or just campy great? Vampire stories should not be judged on the "not-too-bad-compared-to-Twilight-curve."

Should have been nominated:  Sons of Anarchy. The only reason Emmy voters didn't nominate this, I'm guessing, is because they were afraid that simply watching such a kickass — and heart-wrenching — show would emasculate them for all time.


Outstanding Comedy Series: 

Modern Family, Curb Your Enthusiasm, The Office, 30 Rock, Glee, Nurse Jackie

Will win: Glee. OMG, Glee is, like, so hot right now.

Should win: Modern Family. Sure, it's not innovative. But it's essentially the Platonic ideal of the family-based sitcom. A great cast, even if they aren't the best ensemble on TV. ---

Should have been nominated: Community. That "best ensemble" title goes to Community. Modern Family's actors work well with only a few people. But Community's actors excel when they interact with each other. Plus, Community needs all the critical help it can get, going up against the Big Bang behemoth next year.

Shouldn't have been nominated: The Office. That this listless season of The Office was nominated is more evidence for the Greater Theory of Emmy Inertia. Instead, swap in Parks and Recreation, which was far, far funnier than the office this season.


Outstanding Lead Actor in a Dramatic Series

Jon Hamm, as Don Draper (Mad Men)
Kyle Chandler, as Eric Taylor (Friday Night Lights)
Hugh Laurie, as Dr. Gregory House (House)
Michael C. Hall, as Dexter Morgan (Dexter)
Bryan Cranston, as Walter White (Breaking Bad)
Matthew Fox, as Jack Shephard (Lost)

Will win: Jon Hamm on Mad Men. I've got this gut feeling that, with the cultural pervasiveness of Mad Men, voters will finally feel that Hamm's subtle performance deserves official applause.

Should win: Bryan Cranston on Breaking Bad. He's won twice before. But no actor I've ever seen plays the chords of silence like Cranston. I'd be happier if Kyle Chandler won, but Cranston is the best actor.

Should have been nominated: Matt Smith on Doctor Who. Okay, so British shows aren't eligible. But Smith deserves credit for taking the longest-running character on television — an eccentric timelord — and delivering a performance that somehow feels organic.

Shouldn't have been nominated: Matthew Fox on Lost. Most of these are great nominations, but Matthew Fox never once truly impressed me as an actor on any of the six seasons of Lost. Nominate Josh Holloway instead.

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series

Larry David, as Himself (Curb Your Enthusiasm)
Tony Shalhoub, as Adrian Monk (
Monk)
Steve Carell, as Michael Scott (
The Office)
Matthew Morrison, as Will Schuester (
Glee)
Jim Parsons, as Sheldon Cooper (
The Big Bang Theory)
Alec Baldwin, as Jack Donaghy (
30 Rock)

Will win: Jim Parsons on The Big Bang Theory. Honestly, I wouldn't be excited to vote for any of these actors. I'm guessing that Jim Parsons has a better chance now than last year, now that Big Bang Theory has broken so far into the mainstream. Jim Parsons IS Big Bang Theory.

Should win: Jim Parsons on The Big Bang Theory. Sheldon Cooper annoys the other characters but yet, so far, manages to amuse — rather than annoy — the audience. That's talent.

Should have been nominated: Zachary Levi on Chuck. This is no major snub, but Levi's mix of geeky insecurity and geeky overconfidence provides the crucial heart and soul of a very fun show.

Shouldn't have been nominated: Tony Shalhoub on Monk. Once a show gets into its 8th season, I propose that the actor better have shown some impressive improvement to continually be nominated for an Emmy each year. Shalhoub creates a fun character — but not one with much acting arc, from what I can tell.


Outstanding Lead Actress In A Comedy Series

Tina Fey, as Liz Lemon (30 Rock)
Amy Poehler, as Leslie Knope (
Parks and Recreation)
Edie Falco, as Jackie Peyton (
Nurse Jackie)
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, as Christine Campbell (The New Adventures Of Old Christine)
Lea Michele, as Rachel Berry (Glee)
Toni Collette, as Tara Gregson; (United States Of Tara)

Will win: Tina Fey on 30 Rock. She won an Emmy for her Sarah Palin impression last year. Expect that momentum to result in Emmy voters rewarding her for her work on 30 Rock this year.

Should win: Amy Poehler on Parks and Recreation. In season two, Poehler went from Steve Carrell-lite to create a unique, and very funny, starry-eyed (but not stupid) idealist.

Should have been nominated: Kaley Cuoco on The Big Bang Theory. Being the one normal girl in a TV show of nerds is a hard role to play, but over the past few seasons Cuoco turned her role from Generic Hot Girl For Nerds to Drool After, to a comedic force of her own.

Shouldn't have been nominated: Rachel Berry on Glee. In the pilot, Berry gave a genuine comedic performance. Now, she's a great singer, but she mostly performs in dramatic scenes that are neither dramatic nor comedic.  


Outstanding Lead Actress In A Dramatic Series

January Jones, as Betty Draper (Mad Men)
Kyra Sedgwick, as Deputy Chief Brenda Johnson (
The Closer)
Glenn Close, as Patty Hewes (
Damages)
Julianna Margulies, as Alicia Florrick (
The Good Wife)
Connie Britton, as Tami Taylor (
Friday Night Lights)

Will win: Julianna Margulies on The Good Wife. The Good Wife has been nominated for many an Emmy. It's likely that the actress that play the "good wife" has something to do with that.

Should win: Connie Britton on Friday Night Lights. Never before has a healthy marriage been portrayed more realistically on television. Britton has the more nuanced role between her and her TV husband, and the harder acting challenge.

Should have been nominated: Katey Sagal on Sons of Anarchy. Brutal. That's the best way to describe Sagal's weathered and grief-stricken performance on this season of Sons. If Sons were a movie, Sagal would have surely been nominated for an Oscar. And probably won. Too bad the Emmy voters, apparently, didn't watch this season.

Shouldn't have been nominated: January Jones on Mad Men. On a show populated with deeply-nuanced characters, Betty Draper is one of the more one-dimensional — and January Jones doesn't find any hidden depth.


Outstanding Supporting Actor In A Dramatic Series

John Slattery, as Roger Sterling (Mad Men)
Martin Short, as Leonard Winstone (Damages)
Aaron Paul, as Jesse Pinkman (Breaking Bad)
Terry O'Quinn, as John Locke (Lost)
Andre Braugher, as Owen (Men Of A Certain Age)
Michael Emerson, as Ben Linus (Lost)

Will win: Terry O' Quinn on Lost. Expect Terry O'Quinn, who played two very different John Lockes on this season of Lost, to be the flag-bearer to reward the final season of the landmark show.

Should win: Ben Linus on Lost. Linus has always been the most interesting character — sometimes petty, sometimes villainous, always manipulative — on Lost. The strength of his performance actually shifted the direction of the show. He deserves it.

Should have been nominated: John Noble on Fringe. Noble takes beats of wonder, passion, admiration, anger, guilt, and deep, deep grief and filters them through the prism of mad-scientist insanity.

Shouldn't have been nominated: John Slattery on Mad Men. Slattery does a stellar job of his character on Mad Men, but I'd trade in most other supporting actors on Mad Men — especially Vincent Kartheiser as Pete Campbell. Haven't seen Damages or Men of a Certain Age.


Outstanding Supporting Actor In A Comedic Series

 Jesse Tyler Ferguson, as Mitchell (Modern Family)
Chris Colfer, as Kurt Hummel (
Glee)
Jon Cryer, as Alan Harper (
Two And A Half Men)
Ty Burrell, as Phil Dunphy (
Modern Family)
Eric Stonestreet, as Cameron Tucker (
Modern Family)
Neil Patrick Harris, as Barney Stinson (
How I Met Your Mother)

Will win: Chris Colfer on Glee. Colfer's best scenes are dramatic, rather than comedic, but those scenes make for the most gripping submission tapes. Modern Family will split their votes, mostly.

Should win: Ty Burrell on Modern Family. Modern Family is full of  roles that wouldn't work with any other actor, but Burrell plays the dorky dad character in a way that's somehow endearing, instead of obnoxious (when he isn't advertising for Apple products.)

Should have been nominated: Jason Segel on How I Met Your Mother. Segel's lovable married character regularly turns out more grounded (and funny) comedy than Neil Patrick Harris's broader caricature. (Also, Nick Offerman on Parks and Recreation.)

Shouldn't have been nominated: Jon Cryer on Two and Half Men. My knowledge of his performance is limited to commercials for Two and a Half Men during the sporting events, but those few glimpses were not impressive ones. Anyone else nominated, however, deserves the award.


Outstanding Supporting Actress In A Dramatic Series

Christina Hendricks, as Joan Harris (Mad Men)
Rose Byrne, as Ellen Parsons (Damages)
Archie Panjabi, as Kalinda Sharma (The Good Wife)
Sharon Gless, as Madeline Westen (Burn Notice)
Elisabeth Moss, as Peggy Olson (Mad Men)
Christine Baranski, as Diane Lockhart (The Good Wife)

Will win: Ellen Parsons on Damages. Haven't seen Damages, but I expect the votes in Mad Men and The Good Wife to be split, and nobody in their right mind would vote for Gless, so that leaves Rose Byrne.

Should win: Christina Hendricks on Mad Men. Nobody really impresses me on this list, but Christina Hendricks does a very subtle job of mixing elegance, manipulation, and repression in her confident Mad Men character.

Should have been nominated: Anna Gunn on Breaking Bad. As the central marriage in Breaking Bad falls apart, Gunn portrayed the proceedings with a painful-to-watch (in a good way) progression from anger, to bitterness, to revenge, to helplessness, and finally to reclaim a twisted type of control. Fascinating.

Shouldn't have been nominated: Sharon Gless on Burn Notice. Hey guys, let's nominate the most annoying character on all  television this side of the Jersey shore for an Emmy.


Outstanding Supporting Actress In A Comedic Series

Jane Lynch, as Sue Sylvester (Glee)
Jane Krakowski, as Jenna Maroney (30 Rock)
Kristen Wiig, as Various Characters (Saturday Night Live)
Sofia Vergara, as Gloria Delgado-Pritchett (Modern Family)
Julie Bowen, as Claire Dunphy (Modern Family)
Holland Taylor, as Evelyn Harper (Two And A Half Men

Will win: Jane Lynch on Glee. The most popular character on a very popular show.

Should win: Jane Lynch on Glee. The one accurately rated character on a largely overrated show.

Should have been nominated: Alison Brie on Community. One of the best at in-the-background reaction shots on television, something any supporting actress should master.

Shouldn't have been nominated: Jane Krakowski on 30 Rock. It is a rare moment when Krakowski isn't a comedic drain on the entire show. Most her scenes are the most unfunny part of every episode.

For more TV commentary follow Daniel Walters on Twitter @danieltwalters.

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MORNING HEADLINES: It's a Mad Max world

Posted on Fri, Aug 27, 2010 at 9:12 AM

Rome is burning Did anyone else feel like we were living in some level of Dante's Inferno yesterday evening? The fires, firesfires, fires. The dust storm. The torn up streets. Oh the humanity — let this summer end. (KXLY, KREM, SR)

Family of slain man angry at police Two sons of Scott Creach were caught on camera shouting at police about how officers were dealing with the body of their dead father, and demanding answers for what happened. Creach, a plant nursery owner and Baptist pastor, was killed after a confrontation with a Spokane County Sheriff's deputy. (KREM)

Here we go again Former President Jimmy Carter won the release of an American imprisoned in North Korea. (Atlantic Wire)

Socialism saves capitalism, again — or is it the other way around? Fed boss Ben Bernanke said the government would save the economy, again, if things turn for the worse, again. (AP)

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Thursday, August 26, 2010

You call this traffic?

Posted on Thu, Aug 26, 2010 at 2:36 PM

I spoke with a guy this morning who cleans up crime scenes for a living (see next week's cover story for more on that). He said he came to Spokane in the early 2000s because he was sick of the rat race in his native Seattle — sitting in stop-and-go traffic, driving an hour and a half across town.

That's not an uncommon story among those who flee bigger cities for Spokane. But it may be worth thinking about now, as street construction around town presents us with the mild and temporary inconveniences of traffic congestion and dust. 

Even more worth thinking about? The still-ongoing traffic jam in Beijing, which began on Aug. 19 and shows few signs of abating. From Foreign Policy:

Life in the slow lane: The ongoing jam on National Expressway 110, which links Beijing and North China's Hebei province, caused by construction and a number of accidents, has shocked the world. But Beijingers are used to epic-scale gridlock. Despite the city's six surrounding ring roads, numerous expressways, and the government's restrictions on car use, urban planners simply can't keep up with the massive influx of new cars that many of Beijing's approximately 20 million increasingly wealthy people (many of whom have never driven a car before) have recently bought. Some 248,000 new cars were registered in the first four months of 2010, according to the Beijing municipal tax office, a rate of 2,100 new cars per day. 

The site runs down this and four other notoriously congested cities in their rundown of the World's Worst Traffic, here.

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This weekend in theater

Posted on Thu, Aug 26, 2010 at 1:02 PM

Theater — it's like reality TV, only it's really real. (Sometimes the actors fall into your lap.)

Soccer moms face off against emo kids from the next housing tract over in "Block Party," the Friday-night improv comedy show with a suburban theme at the Blue Door in the Garland District. And even though "Safari" shows continue on Saturdays at 9 pm, tomorrow night at 8 pm is your last chance to enjoy the "Block Party" ruckus. Just $7, and the shows are different every night!

She'll pirouette smack-dab into a larger-than-life clay figure in The Golem and the Ballerina, a new play by Christopher Lamb — he also directed, choreographed and will play the principal dancer — to be performed at the Company Ballet School, on Argonne Rd. at Empire Ave. (just three blocks north of Trent) on Saturday night at 7:30 pm and on Sunday afternoon at 2 pm. Just $6.50 to see hordes of dancers in a confined space.

Rancid Crabtree and 100-year-old Ed will fend off ghosts and aliens from outer space (that is, if Ed can stay awake) at the Rockin' B Ranch this Saturday out at Stateline (I-90 and Exit 299). Doors at 5:30 pm, dinner at 6:30, show at 7:30. For $35, you get three kinds of meat and taters and corn on the cob and a pre-show and lemonade that comes out of barrels in the rafters. 

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Trailer Thursday!

Posted By on Thu, Aug 26, 2010 at 11:43 AM

GET LOW

Despite a poster that could double as an advert for The Bucket List sans the racial diversity, Get Low is a surprisingly warmhearted drama proving that the sum of a cast can be greater than the whole. Infused with the same tall-tale antics of Big Fish, Robert Duvall plays a prominent Southerner who vanishes into the woods. Forty years later, he wants to know what people think about him — so he decides to hold his own funeral just a little bit early. (DH) Rated PG-13 Showtimes

THE LAST EXORCISM

You might have thought exorcisms had been excised from the film world, thanks to The Last Exorcism of Emily Rose, but that movie cleverly limited the ecumenical evacuations to a single person. This one’s a fauxmentary about a priest who allows his final documentary to be filmed. (Begrudgingly, dammit! He didn’t want to do it! They made him!) Let’s hope we can finally put this tired movie plot to rest. Until, y’know, it lumbers back to life — like a zombie. (DH) Rated PG-13 Showtimes

TAKERS

After The Dark Knight, any movie that opens on a bank robbery scene seems a bit played out. Smartly, the movie casts teenaged Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christian) and the white guy from the Fast and the Furious movies (Paul Walker) to keep our interest. Meticulously plotted heists perpetrated by good-looking people? I’d say that makes this The B-Team, but that joke’s probably too funny for this movie. (DH) Rated PG-13 Showtimes

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Whitewater park coming closer to reality

Posted on Thu, Aug 26, 2010 at 10:41 AM

The Spokane City Council voted unanimously Monday to support the creation of a whitewater park within city limits. Though the vote puts the park a step closer to completion, permits must still be applied for, and an arduous Environmental Impact Statement must be completed.

The proposed park would be near the Sandifur pedestrian bridge just west of downtown Spokane. The river’s bottom would be modified to make a higher quality run for boaters, and the area would be constructed with restrooms, a new parking lot and better trailheads.

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MORNING HEADLINES: Officer shoots, kills preacher. Plus, an unmarred Marr.

Posted on Thu, Aug 26, 2010 at 8:53 AM

Spokane Valley Police officer shoots, kills preacher A Spokane Valley man is dead after what appears to be a confused confrontation between a law enforcement officer and the man: a preacher and plant nursery owner. Details are scant. Stay tuned. (SR)

Marr clean The Legislative Ethics Board threw out a complaint against state Sen. Chris Marr (D), clearing him of ethics violations connected to links on his campaign websites to state-produced material. (SR) 

Inmate phone calls not so outrageous Behind recent news in the Spokesman, it turns out that allowing inmates free 20-minute phone calls doesn't cost the state a dime. (Seattle Weekly)

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Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Hump Day: Happy hours for tonight

Posted By on Wed, Aug 25, 2010 at 5:34 PM

Each Wednesday on Bloglander, we'll be giving you a taste of happy hours going on at bars around town that night. Here's our first installment:

Four B's and a G to calm your thirst this Wednesday.

At the Baby Bar $1 grilled cheese sandwiches will pair nicely with $1 PBRs.

At the Big Foot Tavern 12oz cans of Bud Light, Budweiser, Coors Light and Miller Light cost $1.75. The cocktail Malibu Breeze goes for $4.

At the Blue Spark, order yourself a bucket containing five domestic beers for $12. A happy hour from 4-8 pm offers well liquor for $3.50 per shot and food plates from $3-$4.

Up north at the Bluz at the Bend, Bullblasters and Washington Apples cost $4. Robert Mondavi Cabernet and Townsend Pink Table bottles are half price.

At the Grail Bar in Coeur d'Alene order one well drink and you will receive three. That's buy-one-and-get-three. That is two for free.

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PSU-EWU: Time to give a Dam?

Posted on Wed, Aug 25, 2010 at 4:41 PM

College football is well-known for its storied rivalries: Ohio State-Michigan, Army-Navy, even goody-two-shoes like BYU-Utah get in on the fun. According to the media apparatuses at Eastern and Portland State, it's time to add one more name to that list.

Yes, that's right, in a frenzied fit of marketing, the two schools have announced the 2010-2011 Dam Cup, to be competed for in five different sports; soccer, volleyball, football, men's basketball and women's basketball.

The stated purpose of the Dam Cup is to "create a rivalry between Portland State University and Eastern Washington University and provide a sense of pride between alumni in the Portland and Spokane areas," according to the news release. Because nothing spells "artificial rivalry" like "inventing a trophy that holds no significance."

The Dam thing is named as such in honor of the four different dams (so naturally they would use five different sports) one passes on the drive between the two campuses. But how does one award a cup that involves five different sports? Why, by devaluing certain sports, of course. The breakdown is as follows:

Women's soccer (1 pt x 1 game) = 1 point
Volleyball (2 pts x 2 matches) = 4 points
Men's basketball (2 pts x 2 games) = 4 points
Women's basketball (2 pts x 2 games) = 4 points
Football (4 pts x 1 game) = 4 points

The winner will be whoever receives a majority (nine of a possible 17) during the course of the Dam competition period. For those of you following at home, you'll notice they made a foolproof formula — except soccer can end in ties, like the EWU-PSU game did last year. Though last year's scoring wound up at 10.5-6.5, all it would have taken was one EWU win in men's basketball to finish the Dam competition in a deadlock.

Ridiculous arbitrary point systems aside, there's also the arbitrary rivalry quotient of this Dam plan. Though the teams have faced off against each other on the gridiron 32 times (the first in 1968, a 19-13 PSU victory), they did not do so steadily until 1990. And call me an old-timey curmudgeon if you must (you damn kid, you), but a 20-year-history is not enough to warrant the creation of a trophy-bestowing series. Especially since PSU's men's basketball team has only existed continually since 1986.

Hey, Eastern? Isn't it bad enough we have to hear you constantly harp about your Redrum Stadium? Maybe you should let some of the Dam ephemera slide.

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