Tuesday, December 21, 2010

MORNING HEADLINES: You're a mean one

Posted By on Tue, Dec 21, 2010 at 9:20 AM

Washington is representin’ in the House — Good news, Washington residents. Thanks to your prodigious non-stop baby-making, you’ve gained one seat in the House of Representatives. Now, perhaps, if we really put our minds to it, we can finally gain that third seat in the Senate we’ve been hoping for. (SR)

How the Idahoan Stole Christmas — Three Couer d’Alene neighborhoods have had Christmas gifts stolen off their front porches. We recommend looking out for a shady, long-fingered, 6-foot-3-inch male with a sickly-green complexion and a heart condition. He may be armed and dangerous, so avoid disturbing him, even with a 39.5-foot pole. (KXLY)

House of Leaf — That Ryan Leaf kid. He’s going places. Sure, his football career (after his star turn as Washington State University quarterback) may  have flamed out, but now that Texas has ordered he spend the next decade on probation (after being convicted of obtaining pain killers by fraud), he has a lot of more time to return to his love of writing. He’s writing three books, all of which are about his favorite subject: Ryan Leaf. (KREM)

In Spokane, violent crime is all the rage — Despite economic challenges, crime has been steadily decreasing across the nation. But the Pacific Northwest, never one to be beholden to peer pressure, has defied the trend. In Spokane, violent crime and property crime rose in the first half of 2010. (ST)

Democracy at (very, very gradual) work —The purple paint had long since been washed off the fingers of the Iraqi democracy. But nine months after Iraq’s election, Iraqi lawmakers have finally approved a new government. The cost has been tremendous, but we’ve finally spread the American value of partisan deadlock to the Middle East. (NYT)

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Monday, December 20, 2010

A very sultry Christmas album

Posted By on Mon, Dec 20, 2010 at 2:12 PM

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It's pretty likely you've had your fill of holiday music so far this year. But if you're looking for something local – to give as a gift or to get you in the holiday spirit — check out the sultry Sara Jackson-Holman's three-song A Very Merry EP.

The young performer (who we profiled here) offers her own covers of the famous holiday songs, "Angels We Have Heard on High," "Carol of the Bells" and "O Little Town of Bethlehem." The songs are pretty much the same as you usually hear them, just with Jackson-Holman's brassy voice guiding them this time. They're available for purchase on iTunes for just $2.97.

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Five Guys Burgers conquers world, annexes Spokane Valley

Posted By on Mon, Dec 20, 2010 at 1:52 PM

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Five Guys Burgers and Fries, a selected history:

When newly inaugurated President Barack Obama wanted to show the world on network television that he loves a good burger, he and his Secret Service detachment drove to Five Guys Burgers and Fries.

In August, when the seminal Zagat food guide released a reader poll, Five Guys beat out In-N-Out for best fast-food burger. (In-N-Out is probably the most hallowed burger chain in the relatively brief history of fast-food burgers.)

When Spokane got its own Five Guys at Lincoln Heights this September, grown men could be seen squealing and swooning like little girls during the British invasion.

In October, another huge consumer group, Consumer Reports, declared Five Guys pretty much just as good as In-N-Out. It wasn't quite the coup that Zagat had been, but a tie for best is still best.

AND NOW! Just months after opening its first location in Spokane, Five Guys Burgers and Fries is planning to open its first location in the Valley.

In March, the chain will open at 10 N. Sullivan Rd., at the Sullivan Square Shopping Center, in the concrete jungle of Veradale.

Corporate is also shopping for north-side spaces. Keeping with their strip mall mentality, early contenders look to be Northpointe Shopping Center and the newish Northtown Square, but that's just speculation.

On thing is clear, though: Five Guys Burgers and Fries is here to take over, and we're powerless in their meaty clutches.

Beefavores, rejoice. 

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Jason Kadah leaving Spokane

Posted By on Mon, Dec 20, 2010 at 1:09 PM

KREM weatherman Jason Kadah, who was yanked off the air mysteriously last summer, tells Bloglander he's leaving Spokane for the deserts of Phoenix, where he's taken a weather/news position at the CBS affiliate.

Kadah, whose fans started Facebook pages demanding his return to KREM, had developed a loyal fan base with his quirky humor after joining the Belo-owned station in 2008.

"I'll be on the same weather team with another Spokane alum, Paul Horton, who worked at KXLY some years back," he says of the new Phoenix job. "Also there is Nicole Crites, a former KREM news anchor ... I was very impressed with the station, the staff, and the management."

Kadah will be moving in a couple of weeks, but before he left, he wanted to share this message: "Please let your readers know that their support was without a doubt the highlight of 'working' here in Spokane."

GOT TIPS ON THE MEDIA? Send them to [email protected]

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MORNING HEADLINES: Clawhammer edition

Posted on Mon, Dec 20, 2010 at 9:39 AM

Four bludgeoned in hammer attack — A 31-year-old man is in custody after allegedly attacking four people in their home in Bayview. (CdA Press)

Washington leads the nation... ...in construction job losses. The state lost 4,200 jobs in October and November. (KXLY)

Move it on over — Fines for drivers who don't yield the road to emergency vehicles will double to $248 on Jan. 1. (KREM) 

Total lunar eclipse tonight — North America, Greenland and Iceland will get to see a lunar eclipse tonight, beginning around 10:30 (Pacific Standard Time), going totally black around 11:40 and clearing up by 2 am. (KHQ)

So gang rape is allowed? — King County says that the official-looking "Gang Rape is Strictly Prohibited" signs that have been popping up around local bus stations are the work of a prankster, not the county. (KXLY)

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Friday, December 17, 2010

Why your favorite TV show was unworthy of my love

Posted By on Fri, Dec 17, 2010 at 5:17 PM

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When I ranked the best TV shows of 2010 yesterday, I used a complicated, multifaceted, seven-pronged rubric called: "Did I like it?" I rewarded ingenuity and guts over simple polish and gave credit to shows that improved over the course of the season.

But the most interesting part of any Top 10 ranking is often not what's on the list — it's what left off. ("What? No Desperate Housewives?! Fool!)

Here, then, is my rationale for excluding your favorite show. —-

Mad Men
The end of Season Four left a badtaste in my mouth, with Don making a choice that was out of character and poorly foreshadowed, and an anticlimax tothe Sterling-Cooper plotline. Mad Men hasn't evolved enough over itsrun (especially with characters like Betty) to continue making itan automatic Top 10 nominee. (While you're pouring a martini to prepare your rebuttal, be thankful I'm not as brutal as this blog post.)

Boardwalk Empire
The pilot, with itschaos, overabundance of characters and almost smug "we're prestigetelevision" swagger, turned me off enough that I didn't continuewatching. Fellow Inlander critic Dan Herman, however, says I'm a bad person for not including it.

Lost
Oh, Season Six. How you besmirched Lost's legacy. Exactly when the show should have been blowing minds, sparking epiphanies and answering six-year questions, you traipsed around the jungle, introduced directionless new characters, concluded with soft-focus stakes-ruining religious platitudes and — worst of all — turned Desmond Hume, the most beloved Lost character, into something half-man, half-MacGuffin, all deus ex machina.

The Colbert Report
The premise is, like America's border's, wearing thin. As a result, Colbert has to focus on pun-heavy wordplay and half-ironic personality cults, while the Daily Show still pursues straight-up political comedy.

Conan
Conan's personality remains fun, vibrant and silly. But the talk show itself is generic. Root for O'Brien over Jay Leno, sure. But not over the rest of television.

Craig Ferguson
Inspired and gutsy but not nearly as tightly packed with clever jokes as the Daily Show

The Office
The major characters (Dwight, Jim, Pam, Michael, Andy) have all been at their worst this year. One guest cameo from Amy Ryan can't save you, The Office.

Sons of Anarchy
Last year, the paceof the plot was that of a roaring Harley, speeding down the highwaywith confidence. This year it was an ambling moped, strugglingvaliantly to make it up a rolling hill.

Justified
The quick lapse into procedural television gradually slid this show down my viewing-priority list.

30 Rock
Much improved since Season Three,but still not as good as Season Two and still with too many characters(Jack's mom, Kenneth, Jenna) who I usually find obnoxious. It's so dependent on pure gag-writing that calling it "great," rather than just "funny," can sometimes be difficult.

How I Met Your Mother
Haaaaavveeeee.... you met Barney's stagnant character development? Though it did give us this folk song. Would that all television shows were as generous...

Dexter
I stopped watching around thefirst season, because I found it morally disturbing. (I don'tlike being asked to root for a deranged serial killer. I prefer my sociopaths to be more grounded in humanity.) And, from whatI read, the season finale was pretty awful.

Modern Family
Sure, you've got a a well-crafted, perfectly cast, tightly written comedy going for you, Modern Family. But you're too perfect. You don't take risks.There's no ambition. Television shows should try to expand what the medium cando, not just work comfortably within the boundaries.

Chuck
Ever since Chuck downloaded kung fu, the series lost both its pathos and its plotting. And Chuck? There are many evil acronyms that secret agents must constantly battle. DTR isn't one of them.

In Treatment
Two reasons. I didn't have time to finish up this season, and so I didn't feel comfortable including it. And it's almost unfair to include a show that limits itself to one set and one long scene as much as In Treatment does. Its genre, while amazing, doesn't really feel like television. It's an ongoing one-act, one-scene play. Filmed.

Party Down
Maybe this should have made the list. But Party Down's run was too short, its general availability too limited and its pathetic-losers-bound-to-tragedy formula too cliched to include. Also, I forgot about it until now.

Sherlock
The second episode needed to be 40 minutes shorter, and Moriarty was criminally miscast.

American Dad
Honestly, if this was last year, and they had just aired the Jesus-Dates-Francine-in-the-Mad-Max-Apocalypse episode, "Rapture's Delight," this show probably would have made the wild card slot.

Huge
This weight-loss camp may be the best thing ABC Family has ever done (Middleman comes close), but occasional lapses into after-school-special moments keep it from greatness. On a scale of one to ten... well, scales are a very sensitive matter for discussing a show like this.

LoneStar
You must be taller than two episodes to ride the "Top-Ten-o-Whirl."

Louie
Louie is not a comedy.It's a "show created by a comedian." It's purposefully inconsistent, switching from hilarious "what-an-awful-date" setpieces to lengthy straight-faced descriptions. But that's also what keeps me from connecting with it. I admire and applaud Louie from afar. But the tone was too varied and the outlook too bleak to reallyenjoy it

Glee
My God, the chaoticinconsistency. If the show had a semblance of throughline — if it was asgood as it show's flashes made it seem — it could be a contender. As of now,it's [insert lengthy Sue Sylvester-style insult here.]

Futurama
The inspired later episodes (body-switching, one-way time travelers) were fantastic. But the thuds of the jokes in the early episodes are still echoing.

The Venture Bros.
An excess of characters and chaos sapped away the coherence for much of the season, despite a great finale.

Men of a Certain Age
I'm not of that certain age.

The Big Bang Theory
I've got big problems with every character but Sheldon, Penny and (wildcard choice!) Amy Farrah Fowler.

The League
A few great episodes, but it languishes in frat-guy crassness when it should be clever.

It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia
One of the problems with shows about awful, annoying and repulsive people is that, sometimes, they make the show itself turn out to be awful, annoying and repulsive.

The Pacific
I just can't get into war movies. So I gave up after a few episodes.

Rubicon
Made me feel like the attention-span-less, yawning, "entertain me" dolt that critics like me accuse the American public of being.

Better Off Ted
Maybe the most clever comedy on television. But not the funniest. The jokes were so clever that I gave polite little claps, instead of laughing out loud. Evidently, too cerebral to make my list.

Jersey Shore
The Situation's character arc was stagnant, and that Snooki character wasn't believable as a human being.

Honorable (Non-) Mentions*
I haven't watched Bored to Death, Treme, True Blood, Weeds and Eastbound and Down. So it wouldbe a bit tacky to vote it one of the best shows of 2010.

Defend your favorite TV shows on Twitter to @danieltwalters


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THIS WEEKEND IN MUSIC: Nightmare! Womp! Bad Pen!

Posted By on Fri, Dec 17, 2010 at 4:07 PM

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TONIGHT! 

With the recent shuttering of the Cretin Hop's North Howard location (Tom "TC" Chavez ensured us he'll open elsewhere, but we haven't heard where yet), the third installation of this year's Nightmare Before Christmas series (a holiday-themed heavy-music fest) got a last minute change-up. The show, featuring locals Straight to Our Enemies, Doc Holiday, Number Five is Alive and the Ongoing Concept, will be tonight at Aclub instead. The show is all-ages and 8 bucks a pop. Starts at 4 pm… so you'd better get on your bike, like, now. 

If dancing and lights and sweating and a lot of bass are your thing, you'll definitely want to hit up Stage54 tonight for Womp Session #2. Tonight's lineup is not just dust-up like last time, but a little bit of reggae and psychedelic, too. Antiserum, Psymbionic, Kaiku and Greek start kicking out the jams at 7 pm. $15 at the door. All-ages. 

SATURDAY!

There will be a whole lotta talent in one room tomorrow at Bad Penmanship 7, the annual showcase of the local hip-hop collective. The group descends on Empyrean tomorrow from 6 - 11 pm to absolutely melt your face off. Check out this lineup: Jaeda (a gal who took one of our Bands to Watch spots this past year), Wildcard (who we wrote about here), Cursive, Freetime Synthetic, We the People Eaters, Auddie, Quiz (who we profiled here), Wax808, Vibeself and DJ Stone Tobey. I guarantee it will be a great time. Costs just 5 bucks to get in. All-ages. 

The all-new beer-nerd pub, Jones Radiator, throws a nice little show this weekend: the Camaros, Whiskey Dick Mountain and Ampersand. Grab a craft beer at the bar and a spot in the front. 9 pm. Gotta be 21. 

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Funny talking animals

Posted on Fri, Dec 17, 2010 at 3:53 PM

Because it's almost Friday...

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WSU research among top 100 findings of the year

Posted on Fri, Dec 17, 2010 at 2:37 PM

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Sleepwalkers can move around in the middle of the night, eyes open, performing complicated functions — while they're asleep! — because only parts of our brains fall asleep at night. The others are still alive and kicking.

That finding, made by Washington State University professor James Krueger this year, ranks No. 32 among Discover magazine's Top 100 Stories of 2010.

The research found that the firing of our neurons causes the release of an important molecule called ATP, which, as it accumulates, sets off a chain of other reactions that make us sleepier and sleepier. But the important finding was that this isn't a "whole brain phenomenon" but a “local phenomenon — that bits and pieces of the brain sleep.”

Understanding this, the university says, could lead to progress in sleeping aids and to better treatment for stroke and other brain injuries.

“This is an extremely important finding,” University of Minnesota sleep expert Mark Mahowald told the magazine.

This is the second bit of big news to come out of WSU's sleep research recently. Last week, I wrote that WSU Spokane's Sleep Research Center is helping keep pilots awake. The Federal Aviation Administration's rules committee heard the testimony of two WSU scientists and changed its rules regarding how well-rested pilots need to be.

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MORNING HEADLINES: Now with 108 percent more Christmas lolcats

Posted on Fri, Dec 17, 2010 at 10:10 AM

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The Eastern Washington Eagles are set to square off against defending champion Villanova in the FCS semifinal at Roos Field. The top-ranked Eagles are playing without standout RB Taiwan Jones, so it'll be an uphill battle. Fans are encouraged to wear Santa hats to the game, because red is a color known for its soothing properties. (SR)
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Police executed a search warrant on the home of Darryl Wayne Monzingo, a man in possession of "hundreds upon hundreds" of images containing child pornography. Or, as KHQ puts it, "Spokane Child Porn Suspect Arrested One Block From Elementary School." (KHQ)
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Idaho ranks No. 8 in the nation for foreclosures, a statistic that includes one in every 205 homes in Ada County facing action. They only list the top 10, so it's unclear where Washington sits. C'mon, banks! Start foreclosing so we can catch up to those spud-slicers! (KHQ)
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Thieves in Spokane Valley made off with part of an elaborate Christmas display, the third such robbery this year. Authorities aren't sure why this is happening (other than the fact that this is what teenagers do), but it's probably due to somebody starting a rumor that you can get high if you surround yourself with enough Christmas lights. Because teenagers will believe anything. (KXLY)
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Avista Utilities is being fined $60,000 by the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission for improperly handling customer accounts and disconnecting service for non-payment. It's unclear what the first half of the story has to do with the second half, but there you go. (KXLY)
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