This morning, I appeared on Make Guv Work, a political talk show on KYRS hosted by the venerable John Waite.
We talked about police accountability, the recent spate of shootings involving officers and the role of journalism.
Check out the program here.
At left, Waite in Egypt.
Five months after a Spokane sheriff's deputy shot and killed a 74-year-old Spokane Valley man, county prosecutor Steve Tucker ruled today that there was no evidence of a crime — a decision most people had expected from Day One.
Because the deputy involved, Brian Hirzel (pictured), had indicated he feared for his life before shooting Wayne Scott Creach, and because there were no other witnesses to the shooting, Tucker had said in recent interviews that he had few options when considering charges. In a press release issued earlier today, he cited the state's criminal code: “A public officer shall not be held criminally liable for using deadly force without malice and with a good faith belief that such act is justifiable.”
Before issuing the press release, Tucker met with the Creach family to discuss his decision. The family has hired an investigator of its own to look into the shooting and has often questioned the quality and timeliness of the shooting investigation.
The night of the shooting, Wayne Scott Creach had gone outside to check on a suspicious vehicle in the parking lot of his family nursery,the Plant Farm, in Spokane Valley.
Deputy Hirzel was inside an unmarked cruiser as Creachapproached. According to Hirzel, this is what happened next: Creachrefused commands to put the gun down but eventually tucked it in hisback waistband. Hirzel got out of his car with his gun drawn, orderedCreach to the ground and, when Creach refused, struck his legs with abaton. And then, the deputy says, Creach reached for his gun, and thedeputy fired.
Tucker, who faced a Democratic challenger in theNovember election, had said in September that he would make a decisionbefore voters went to the polls.
Now, Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich will convene a shooting-review board, an internal investigation, and a citizen review board to examine the case and determine whether policies were violated and whether training should be amended in light of the fatal shooting.
When you work hard for years to achieve artistic nirvana — and you have to do it in close cooperation with three other intense, creative, emotional people ... well, Opus is about a lot more than just guys in tuxedos sawing away on stringed instruments. It's about collaboration, generosity, friendship, and striving for perfection while keeping one's life in balance. For Interplayers' rendition of Michael Hollinger's Opus, opening night is tonight at 7:30, along with Sat 7:30 and Sun 2 pm. Watch our slideshow preview with voiceover by director Jadd Davis (right).
A Night in the Theater is a play within a play — or rather it's about two couples watching a play. In Lawrence Casler's 1993 comedy, we watch a quartet of friends chattering and gossiping about themselves as they (supposedly) are watching a performance of Hamlet. Ignite! Community Theater will present three performances: tonight at 7 pm at GU's Foley Center; Sat. 7 pm at St. Mark's Lutheran, 24th and Grand; and Sun 2 pm at the Blue Door Theatre, 815 W. Garland Ave. Call 330-1066.
Of Mice and Men at Lake City Playhouse: Sure, it's just a little community theater in a small town. But in the central roles of George and Lennie, George Green and David Gigler are delivering remarkable performances, and the story by John Steinbeck (pictured) about fighting against long odds still packs emotional wallop. And you've only got until Jan. 30 to see it. Read a review. Performances Fri-Sat 7:30 pm, Sun 2 pm.
In Don't Dress for Dinner at the Civic, infidelity plots and role-playing get piled so high that you can't figure them out. All you can do is laugh. Director Thomas Heppler's production continues (right across the street from the Arena) on Fri-Sat 7:30 pm and Sun 2 pm. Call 325-2507. Read a review.
And as always, the improv comedy is freshly brewed on the spot at the Blue Door Theater: Fridays at 8 pm, Saturdays at 9 pm. Call 747-7045.
Language gaps, budget gaps — It's always been dreadfully hard for people struggling with English to be able to find a job. And it's about to get harder. The State of Washington is cutting $1 million — more than 10 percent — from its English Pathways program, which provides employment and ESL training. (SR)
We're not that racist — The City of Spokane's quick response to the attempted bombing has been praised by the national media. But the fact that the bomb was left on a Martin Luther King parade route has some suspecting white supremacists. The Aryan Nations was once a major player in North Idaho, but since then we've come a long way, KREM reports. (KREM)
Rain of terror — What's more depressing than rain? Freezing rain. What's more depressing than freezing rain? Freezing rain that causes massive car crashes on I-90, including a seven-car pileup by the Hamilton exit. Happy January, everybody. (KXLY)
State of Disunion — Paul Ryan, super-wonky Republican chairman of the House Budget committee, will give the response to President Barack Obama's State of the Union speech next week. Take a shot every time he mentions "double-counting Medicare." (NYT)
Michael Hollinger's play about the emotional turmoil of a classical string quartet, Opus — one of America's most frequently produced plays last year — arrives in Spokane tonight, continuing at Interplayers through Feb. 5.
In this slideshow of production photos, director Jadd Davis discusses issues of teamwork and professionalism — in other words, why you might be interested in this play even if you're not a fan of classical music — and how actors work at resembling musicians even when they're not.
Episodes has a funny premise: Sean and Beverly, two married British writers, are hired to move to Hollywood to adapt their successful British television shows for American audiences. With increasing horror, they find their very British series changed by tone-deaf executives. Most glaringly, their central character (the very British headmaster of a boarding school, played by a posh elderly Brit) is suddenly swapped out for a hockey coach, played by a very un-posh Matt LeBlanc.
It’s not a bad show.
Compared to the meandering and gleefully pornographic misogyny of Californication, it’s downright charming. The banter between the two married leads is lightly humorous, and LeBlanc is perfectly cast as the perfectly miscast character.
Many scenes hum with a low-key sweetness. The married couple, upon discovering their new place has a hot tub, tears their clothes off, ready to sink into warm water. But as the hot tub fills up — ever so slowly — the moment passes, and they’re left with frustrated disappointment. Not a hilarious scene, perhaps, but a charming one, and one that underscores the general theme of the show. —-
But when we get to the scenes portraying the television executive — idiotic, ignorant, narcissistic, bumbling — and his sycophantic cronies, there’s the stench of something else. It’s not charm. It’s an overpowering whiff of smug.
The exasperating idiot, as a character archetype, usually has the feel of a cheap ploy and lazy writing. Gee, Michael Scott (or Dwight Schrute, or David Brent) sure is an exasperating idiot, The Office, says. That’s because you wrote him that way, I yell at the television.
But this character is worse. Where Michael Scott is generic-white-collar-boss idiot, the role of a television executive is much more integral to the writers world. This feels personal.
“We, the viewer, are so much more clever than those Los Angeles TV dolts,” the series seems to be saying with us.
“And I, the writer of this show, am so much more clever than those Los Angeles TV dolts, many of whom I have worked with," the series seems to be saying at us.
When Aaron Sorkin pits his White House heroes against bloggers, when M. Night Shyamalan casts a critic as a villain, when countless male TV writers introduce a one-off “crazy female girlfriend" character, you can hear the bitterness bubbling. Maybe the writers of Episodes don’t have a grudge against a specific executive or actor, but it feels that way — and that’s the problem. Episodes can be simultaneously petty and haughty — not a fun combination to watch.
Pure seething hatred can invigorate a stand-up comedy routine. We all know Louis C.K. hates people in the line at the post office. Patton Oswalt hates the people who dreamed up the KFC Famous Bowl. Lewis Black hates, well, everything.
But love for something — despite its many flaws — has long been a stronger position to satirize or parody from. Shaun of the Dead works because of the writer’s love for the zombie genre, and Hot Fuzz works because of the writers’ love for the dopey tropes of action movies. Any truly insightful points of satire regarding Hollywood are drowned out by the loud and broad caricature of this character the writers seem to truly hate.
The early seasons of The Office temporarily fixed the problem of the exasperating idiot by humanizing Michael. They gave him moments of genuine talent, of tragedies and triumphs. In other words, he became a three-dimensional character, instead of a two-dimensional shooting-range cutout.
The television executive needs to stop just being “television executive.” He needs to become “Merc Lapidus,” a well-rounded character with strengths and epiphanies to go along with his flaws and idiocy. Good satire, in other words,is not just about the thing you’re satirizing. It’s about fully-formed characters who exist apart from the points you want to make.
Know a guy or gal who can out-sexy Burt Reynolds? [email protected] Remember that.
Now, read on:
Since seemingly the dawn of time, the people of the Inland Northwest have looked to The Inlander for insight on how to live life to its fullest. It was true in the upper Pleistocene, when we published — on tanned vellum marked with crude charcoal writing implements — lists of the absolute best mammoth hunting grounds.
It's still true today. In everything from gift guides to food throwdowns to examinations of the state of justice, we always strive to offer the best, most in-depth coverage of all aspects of our little chunk of the world.
And yet, there is still something missing.
All throughout our almost incomprehensibly long company history, we have never published a sex issue.
In February, that will change.
That's all we're going to say for now. We know, we're total teases. And guess what? While you sit there at your computers — sweaty, breathless with anticipation — we're going to make you work for it.
We need your nominations for Spokane's Sexiest People.
This can be any one. Married, single, gay, straight. The mayor. Your mailman. Doesn't matter, they just gotta make you hot.
Send your nomination for sexiest Spokanite (or Inland Northwesterner) to [email protected]
BUT WAIT! Lest you think this is all about man parts and lady parts, we want to underscore the following: We recognize and celebrate the fact that there are as many flavors of sex appeal as there are sexual beings.
So if your dream girl is a BBW who doesn't fit society's absurd demands on body type, nominate her!
If your dream guy is a janitor who's all sexy in the brain — the kind of brain you just want to make sweet mentalcourse with? Nominate him.
Just do us a favor, help us understand the sexy by sending a photo and any other details you think adds to the person's allure.
Remember, [email protected]
And, if anyone's seen a woolly mammoth, let us know about that, too ...
Hate bomb The proximity of the planned bomb attack near the Martin Luther King, Jr. parade has investigators focusing on the area's white supremacist groups. After all, 15 years ago, racists were responsible for three different bomb attacks in the Spokane area.
Foster care nightmare A two-year old died in foster care on Jan. 16 2009, after she -- according to the foster family -- fell down a flight of stairs. Now that the death has been ruled a homicide, family of the child is suing the foster home, seeking at least $50,000.
The comic book villain of potholes No matter how times street crews think they've eliminated a pothole on the South Hill, it keeps reemerging, cackling all the way.
Mob justice The days of the horseheads and pinstripes may be gone, but the mob still festers. But now, the FBI has arrested nearly 130 mobsters in a massive sweep of the New York/New Jersey/Rhode Island area. Mob families don't die, of course. They just suddenly cut to black.
Justified: Season One
Timothy Olyphant is a modern American badass best known — before this wonderful little meditation on evil — as the lawman in Deadwood. He wasn't quite as good in Hitman or any of his other films as he's been in his two TV series, which leads us to wonder whence derives his power — the small screen or the cowboy hat? Rated TV-MA
Newsflash: Melbourne has crime families. You know, in addition to kangaroos and what not. Crocodile Dundee must not have cleaned them all out. Anyway, Guy Pearce is trying his damnedest to do what Paul Hogan couldn’t here — going after the Cody boys, a troop of bank-robbing
wallabies brothers. His entree into the crew is their new recruit, a kid whose mother was just brutally murdered under the direction of the Codys' mom. She’s a real peach.
One critic called this the Australian Goodfellas, which hints at the film's tone but leaves us wondering who plays Joe Pesci. Rated R
Have you ever said to yourself, “Man I wish Ryan Reynolds would just get buried alive and never be found?” The first part of that wish comes true here. Rated R
Does anyone ever make movies about bank robbers’ second-to-last heists before quitting the life forever? These guys sure didn’t. Starring Hayden Christensen, Paul Walker and Elba, who hopefully just needed the money. Rated PG-13
Ed Norton wants his wife (Milla Jovovich) to schtup his potential parole officer (Robert DeNiro) for some reason related to not wanting to be in jail anymore. She’s all like, “OK.” Rated R
Death Race 2
If you just couldn’t get enough of the recent crappy remake of a crappy quasi-sci-fi murder racing film, prepare for the (almost assuredly crappy) origin story. Rated R
Mindjack | Xbox 360, PS3
This little champ is a near-future sci-fi first-person shooter. But the twist is that internet peeps can “hack” into the single player mode and try to kill you, potentially circumventing the age-old paradox with shooter games: multiplayer has no story arc, single player has dumb (read: computer-controlled) enemies. Killer concept, but no critics have weighed in on it yet, which makes us think it wasn’t made available to them, leaving us to worry that Mindjack is all talk and no walk. Like a videogame equivalent of Legion. ---
Mass Effect 2 | PS3
Once upon a time there was a role-playing game set in space that focused on shooting crap rather than obsessing over the minutia of character-growth. The gaming press, a somewhat hyperbolic lot, sang its praises like a choir of angels. Then a sequel came out that was declared, by some, as the best game ever created by anyone, leaving nowhere for hyperbole to go in the future. The biggest problem for Playstation owners was that it was an Xbox and PC-only game. As of today, that problem has vanished.
LittleBigPlanet 2 | PS3
Sequel to quite possibly the cutest videogame of all time (the hyperbole is beginning to rub off, kids, help). The little sack people are back with more adorably adorable antics. And also a better story mode and level-editor. Er, that is, world-creator.
Plants vs. Zombies | DS
You can tell we’re in a weird place technologically when the week’s biggest release for the best portable gaming system is a port of an iPhone app.
The King is Dead | The Decemberists
I was just thinking today, upon hearing Colin Meloy’s whiny yarble for the first time in years: “God, I really used to love that guy’s voice.” My thought continued: “And now I want to poke my ears out.” The thought then concluded: “Well, at least they haven’t released anything in a while, so their inexplicable crossover success won’t have their music assailing my ears from department store speakers any time soon …” Seems I was a bit hasty on that last part.
Space City Kicks | Robert Pollard
Guided by Voices was one of the great indie bands of the '90s. Lead singer Pollard’s solo output hasn’t been quite as strong, but the man is a melodic genius, and has a truly strange mind. The kind you want to just crawl around in. There’s a good chance this album will miss more than it hits, but when it hits, it could knock you out.
Low Country Blues | Gregg Allman
What do you do when you’re 63, in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, and #70 on Rolling Stone’s list of 100 best singers in rock history? Release your first album in nine years.
Teenage and Torture
| Shilpa Ray and Her Happy Hookers
If this backing band isn’t actually made of jovial whores, I’m going to be upset.
Hard Times And Nursery Rhymes
| Social Distortion
They're still around? Huh.
Here are the questions that we hear most often about Interplayers: "Are they still open?" "Are they gonna make it?" "Is the board going to start doing some actual fundraising and marketing? And are they going to stop interfering with Reed [McColm, the artistic director]?"
Well, with David Mamet's Race replacing Cotton Patch Gospel this April, and with the slate of plays that McColm announced at last Thursday night's fundraiser, the folks at Interplayers are obviously planning on keeping the doors open. Better yet — despite pressures logistical, political and economic — McColm is going ahead with some adventurous programming.
First the new season, then some comments.
Sept. 15-Oct. 1, 2011
The Boys Next Door, by Tom Griffin
Directed by Troy Nickerson
Oct. 20-Nov. 5
The Receptionist, by Adam Bock
Nov. 23-Dec. 10, 2011
Sisters of Swing: The Story of the Andrews Sisters
By Beth Gilleland and Bob Beverage
Jan. 19-Feb. 4, 2012
Tuna Does Vegas, by Joe Sears, Jaston Williams and Ed Howard
Directed by Patrick Treadway
Starring Bill Marlowe and Michael Weaver
Feb. 23-March 10
Mauritius, by Theresa Rebeck
March 29-April 14
An Infinite Ache, by David Schulner
May 3-19, 2012
Taking Steps, by Alan Ayckbourn ---
Nickerson, the Civic's resident director, is branching out to other theaters: He's directing Rent at Lake City next season along with this show at Interplayers. (Wasn't Troy involved with the 1994 production at the Civic?)
Sisters of Swing: LaVerne, Maxene and Patty were most famous for "Don't Sit Under the Apple Tree," "Boogie-Woogie Bugle Boy" and entertaining GI's overseas.
Tuna Does Vegas: This production of the fourth Tuna show reunites the director (currently playing Dorian in Opus at Interplayers) and the cast (the director of drama at SFCC and the former Actors Rep artistic director and Interplayers favorite) who have performed a couple of Tuna shows in Spokane before. The premise here is that Arles Struvie and Bertha Bumiller are driving to Vegas to renew their wedding vows — and everybody from the third-smallest town in Texas joins 'em.
Mauritius: A play about stamp collecting? Actually, it's not a snore, and not even primarily about stamps. Mom dies, leaving behind a rare and valuable collection (including one from the obscure title nation). One daughter wants to cash in, one doesn't — and then the rapacious con men move in, hoping to make a kill.
An Infinite Ache: Dating and the road not taken: What if, at the end of a so-so first date, you suddenly had a foretaste of all the happy and sad things that might happen to the two of you, if only you stayed together? Two twentysomethings see their potential lives flash in front of their eyes.
Taking Steps: A door-slamming farce, set in a three-story Victorian mansion — but with the gimmick, typical for Ayckbourn, that all three floors of the imaginary house are collapsed onto a single level. I still remember Michael Weaver in the 1994 production here, scampering "up" and "down" completely flat stairs (like a running back high-stepping through tires, the way they do in football drills). The idea with this "Interplayers Classics" slot is that the theater will revive, once each season, a hit from its past.
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I've seen Dave twice at the Gorge. Twenty times...that's incredible!