Tuesday, March 29, 2011

MORNING HEADLINES: Tearing up ground

Posted By on Tue, Mar 29, 2011 at 8:09 AM

Bad pot luck — Pullman is  a small city. But that doesn't mean they don't have what it takes to compete with Spokane. Per capita, Pullman's marijuana arrest rate is triple Spokane's. Police blame demographics. (SR)

Have those half a million emails on my desk by Monday — The Spokane County assessor's office continues to be one of the most unexpectedly interesting in Spokane. A massive information request from a former employee has the assessor crying "retaliation." The former employee, however, says it's part of a whistleblower complaint. (KREM)

Easy street  — Last year, construction on Second Avenue tore both through the streets and the pocketbooks of area businesses. But this time, area businesses said, it's not so bad. (KXLY)

Erosion of Black Rock — Black Rock North, Marshall Chesrown's luxury development, was utterly decimated by the economy. It has been foreclosed. But owners of a nearby surface mine want to continue mining until development restarts. (CDAP)

War yes, regime change no — In his speech last night, President Barack Obama explained that, while intervening in order to stop genocide was a wise move, attempting to remove Gadhafi from power would be going too far. (NYT)

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Monday, March 28, 2011

Morning Headlines: The Inlander needs no paywall

Posted By on Mon, Mar 28, 2011 at 8:04 AM

A bigger, better I-90 -- Today, work starts to widen Interstate 90 to six lanes between  Sullivan and Barker roads. Enjoy the rain, construction dudes. (SR)

Suddenly, everyone cares about Gonzaga Women's Basketball for some reason -- On Saturday, the onslaught of Spokane fans ready to see the Gonzaga women compete in the Sweet Sixteen was so large as to stop some fans from getting to their seats until the second half was long underway. Fans are hoping this entrance will be a lot quicker. (KREM)

That sinking feeling -- It's been a while since a good scary quicksand story. While quicksand is actually rarely ever fatal, when you're a little kid, it's frightening as hell. (KXLY)

The long, slow, plateaued recovery – Unemployment in Idaho, for the third straight month, is still at a record 9.7 percent. And as always, that doesn't include people who have been unemployed so long they're no longer eligible. (CDAP)

A dark time, when people have to pay for news -- The New York Times paywall goes live today, capping the number of stories that a person can read per month without a digital subscription, decreasing the usefulness of links like these. (NYT)

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Saturday, March 26, 2011

*A Streetcar Named Desire* at Gonzaga: a review

Posted on Sat, Mar 26, 2011 at 4:39 PM

at Gonzaga's Magnuson Theater, Sat 7:30 pm, closes Sun 2 pm

Today marks exactly a century since Tennessee Williams was born. Streetcar, arguably his greatest play, is one of those works that you think you know fully — until reacquaintance reveals new facets. In the central and monumental role of Blanche DuBois, Katie Haster delivers a nuanced performance that repays close attention.  

At nearly three hours, director Brian Russo's production is a long but worthwhile and engaging sit. Haster fills it with Blanche's insecurity, desperation and determination. With fluttering fingers, head tilts of disdain, her hands pressed together at odd angles, Haster makes Blanche's self-dramatizing self-conscious -- that is, she's aware of how desperate her circumstances are and how she has to play-act to create certain effects and get her way. Flirtatious, dreamy, angry, haughty, disoriented, hysterical, sad — Haster rings nearly all the changes in Blanche's character. It's a performance that's muddled in its opening moments -- too exaggerated, poorly enunciated, accent wavering -- but it recovers so well that, hours later, you realize that Haster hasn't just been repeating herself. After all, it'd be easy to recycle those fluttery hands over and over. But Haster uses the downward-tilting chin with big beagle eyes, the hands flying to the throat and then tossing her hair, judiciously. She even finds a way to play the coquette with her perfume spritzer, putting it down when Stanley calls her on being too flirtatious. But she's not just a fading rose -- she duels with Stanley face-to-face over the legal papers, and later,with her suitor Mitch, she even finds romance in a cigarette case.

In the direct-address reminiscence speeches, Haster's sad, upturned eyes evoke the romance she once enjoyed before the harsh light of reality -- her own impracticality and flightiness --defeated her; Russo inserts snippets of faraway music, as in Williams' script, to evoke the kind of memories that make life worth living in retrospect but do nothing to get us through the problems we face today. Haster's Blanche gets a little annoying and tiresome at times, which is good -- it's in this belle's character. Denied another drink, she sucks on the the tip of her thumb, self-consoling like a baby with a pacifier. She's creepy and seductive in the coming-on-to-the-newsboy scene (well acted by Gregory Talbott), but then turns right around and plays the prude with the overawed Mitch: First you want to strangle her, then you realize just how pathetically insecure she really is. Haster's Blanche is a muddled nymphomaniac, looking for love with all the wrong men and getting so little of it that it finally side-swipes her mind.

Some of the scene-ending lines are rushed over -- in particular, Blanche's gratitude for Mitch's gallantry and love, "sometimes it's God so quickly," doesn't get enough weight -- but Haster turns in a performance that any 20-something playing a 30-something could be proud of.

As Stella, Mary Davies provides enough push-back against Stanley to make her own impression. For the early revelation that Belle Reve has been lost, Russo positions the two sisters on opposite sides of the kitchen table, enphasizing their cross-purposes.

Andrew Garcia is too tall and skinny to appear subhuman and brutish, as the role of Stanley demands, but he has surprising physical power (tossing poker players to the ground) and vocal force (as in the famous "Stella!" bellow, which here leads to a lovely moment with Mary Davies posed at the top of the stairs,bathed in light just before she falls into his arms and we see that, for all his brutishness, Stanley has won over at least one woman with animal magnetism). And Garcia, more than many Stanleys, displays the man's insecurity at being Polish, working-class, unrefined.

As Mitch, Connor Brenes stands with hands folded over his crotch, ever the proper suitor, self-conscious about his beefiness and perspiration; he creates the proper contrast to the other drunken, crotch-scratching poker players, including Stanley.

Deanna L. Zibello's set, with its faded wallpaper and exposed wooden slats, suggests post-war penury while adding a semi-abstract and colorful suggestion of all the jazzy nightlife that lies just outside the walls of the Kowalskis' French Quarter apartment. Inside those two rooms, it's cramped and stifling hot.

With Haster's performance, though, it's a place you're willing to stay.

[ photo: Andrew Garcia as Stanley Kowalski and Katie Haster as Blanche DuBois in Tennessee Williams' A Streetcar Named Desire, directed by Brian C. Russo at Gonzaga University, March 2011 ]


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Sneak peek of Metamorphoses, at the Civic

Posted on Sat, Mar 26, 2011 at 10:50 AM

Director Yvonne Johnson provides a voiceover description of a dozen production photos from "the play with the swimming pool," Metamorphoses, opening tonight at the Civic's downstairs Studio Theater and running through April 17.

Ten actors portraying mythological figures like Midas, Orpheus and Hades use the water in a variety of ways: ocean, baptismal font, playpen, venue for waterboarding-like torture, river of forgetfulness, spa.

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Friday, March 25, 2011

THIS WEEKEND IN MUSIC!

Posted By on Fri, Mar 25, 2011 at 4:31 PM

TONIGHT!

For a good ear-blasting, head on down to the Baby Bar for a show by the space-y, drum machine driven locals, the Soul and the Machine. They play with Massy Ferguson and DJ Kevin Griffin. 9 pm. Free. Gotta be 21. 

Lukas Nelson is hardly just the son of a really, really famous musician. He's a musician that stands on his own feet — and rocks pretty hard, too. Read our interview about Willie Nelson's son about him and his band, the Promise of Real, here. They'll play the Bing tonight at 8 pm. $18. All-ages. 

While you're out and about, might as well hit up the 400 block of Sprague for a one-two punch of good local shows. Whiskey Dick Mountain (who you can read about here) plays up at the Aclub with the Camaros and Mythship, and Belt of Vapor plays with Don and the Quixotes and new, promising locals Space Movies downstairs at Mootsy's. Both shows kick off at 9 pm. $5 each. Gotta be 21, sorry. 

SATURDAY!

We've got friends in Bend, Oregon who say that Eric Tollefson and his band, the World's Greatest Lovers, are "f---ing INCREDIBLE." Seriously. Most of the band is a part of the Empty Space Orchestra, an instrumental prog rock outfit. We expect good things. The show is on tomorrow at the Blue Spark. Gotta be 21. 9 pm. $5.

The unstoppable force of funk and jazz, Groove Patrol, takes the stage tomorrow night at nYne. The band swept the blues/jazz category at the Sommy Awards last weekend. And it's a good show for checking out nYne, which took our award this year for Best New Nightspot in our 18th Annual Best of the Inland Northwest Reader's Poll (on stands and online here). The show, also with Real Life Rockaz, starts at 9:30 pm. $5. Gotta be 21. 

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TRAILER THURSDAY FRIDAY: Wimpy Kid, Sucker Punch, other stuff out this weekend

Posted By on Fri, Mar 25, 2011 at 1:12 PM

DIARY OF A WIMPY KID: RODRICK RULES
Poop joke, belch joke, nerd joke, guy-can't-dance joke, mean-bully-girl joke. Bratty little brother, sadistic older brother, running around in tighty-whities, caught in the girls' bathroom. That pretty much covers it for Rodrick Rules, which is, of course, a sequel. Because when it comes to whoopee-cushion movies, 11-year-old boys can never get enough. (MB) Rated PG | SHOWTIMES

[image-1] SUCKER PUNCH
After writer-director Zack Snyder wowed fanboys with Watchmen, he decided to go for the girl-power crowd with this outrageously imaginative, action-packed tale of a young woman (Emily Browning) who’s sent to a mental institution, then plans an elaborate escape, using loud music, sharp swords, blazing guns, and her new friends: a quartet of scantily clad and quite vicious female warriors. It’s like a live-action video game run amok, accompanied by rock-fueled dance routines. (ES) Rated PG-13 | SHOWTIMES

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FILMMAKERS: 50 Hour Slam kickoff approaches

Posted By on Fri, Mar 25, 2011 at 12:41 PM

We are now less than a week away from the 50 Hour Slam, an open film fest where competitors have two days and two hours to write, film, edit and score a short film that adheres to certain rules.

Check it out here

Register with this

A major difference between this event and the 48-Hour Film Fests of yore — besides the extra two hours of work-time — is that the 50 Hour Slam team has assembled a lot of nice resources — including a talent pool from local agencies — if you want to go the trained-actor route. Check out the resource page.

The Inlander did one of these once, under the auspices of NxNW. The film sucked (I blame Michael Bowen), but it was a lot of fun. You guys should totally try it.

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Appearing at the Bing this weekend: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Posted on Fri, Mar 25, 2011 at 11:28 AM

An accomplished horn player is going to sit in with the Spokane String Quartet on Sunday afternoon and play a little five-way Mozart music for your listening pleasure.  

spokane_string_quartet.jpg

The Spokane String Quartet will perform Mozart's Horn Quintet and three other works with horn player Gail Williams on Sunday, March 27, at 3 pm at the Bing, 901 W. Sprague. Tickets: $18; $15, seniors; $10, students. Visit spokanestringquartet.org or call (800) 325-SEAT.

Williams played with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra for 20 years, and was associate principal horn with the CSO for most of the '80s and '90s.

This particular concert was born because Tracy Dunlop (the Spokane String Quartet's second violinist) is "lucky enough to get to listen to Gail play every summer in [Wyoming's] Grand Teton Festival Orchestra, where we both are members. She is a phenomenal player and person," Dunlop says, "not to mention a living legend in the brass/horn world, being from the killer brass era of the Chicago Symphony."

The deal was: If Williams agreed to play with the SSQ, she could select the entire program. So, in addition to Mozart's Quintet for Horn and Strings, she selected

• a Quartet for Horn and Strings by Johann Andreas Amon, a Bavarian near-contemporary of Mozart's;

• a Romanza by Arthur Butterworth, who's still kicking at 87, and

• "Arioso and Scherzo" (1950) by Arnold Cooke, an English composer who was most active in the 1940s.

SSQ cellist Helen Byrne responded by e-mail to a few questions about this weekend's concert: ---

Inlander: How frequently is the Mozart Horn Quintet performed?

Helen Byrne: Horn players certainly know it — the rest of us, not so much. The SSQ did perform this in 1990 with Charles Kavalovski, then principal horn of the Boston Symphony (and previously principal horn of the Spokane Symphony). What I think is really fun is to have Tracy play viola again in the quartet, as she did in the early '90s. It's nice that there are two pieces with two violas so that we see how different composers use this same, odd combination.

Inlander: How did you end up programming the less well known pieces?

Byrne: Brass players NEVER want to play everything — it's an endurance issue — so we never dreamed she would select music where she had to play every piece. But a deal's a deal, so we've ended up with the more obscure pieces in addition to the Mozart.

Why does Mozart specify two violas instead of two violins?

The balance issues of having the warm, rich sound of the horn against the thinner, more pointed sound of the strings can be bridged by using the richer sounding viola, and using two of them!

What's it like collaborating with a horn player?

We assume we have balance issues with a horn, both from the sheer volume possible and also from the color contrasts I mentioned above. Particularly in the Butterworth, we have to approach the string parts in a very big, orchestral way, with lots of tremolo passages.

Any particularly tricky passages?

I haven't heard anyone complaining about their parts except for me. The Amon is unusual in that the cello plays along in a fairly uncomplicated Mozart-style way, and then, all of a sudden, just leaps into a high, melodic role with no warning. Maybe Amon's cellist was bored and this was one way to handle the complaints.

Is there anything distinctively Austrian or German or English in these four works?

Actually, I think the Cooke (English) sounds a lot like Hindemith (German), with his angular melodies. But it also has that wistful feeling a lot of English music has. Then he moves into a romping horn-call movement that could have come out of a fox hunt anywhere.

[ photo from News Bonners Ferry, newsbf.com, from a North Idaho concert given this month by the SSQ ]

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Fertilizer bill headed to the governor

Posted on Fri, Mar 25, 2011 at 10:41 AM

Andy Billig can stick a feather in his cap. As a freshman legislator this session in Olympia, he got his first big bill through both chambers of the Legislature.

House Bill 1489, which will limit the amount of phosphorus in some fertilizers, passed the Senate today 32-16. Voting for the bill were Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown, D-Spokane, and Sen. Michael Baumgartner, R-Spokane. Sen. Jeff Baxter, R-Spokane Valley, voted against the bill. Minority Leader Mike Hewitt, R-Walla Walla, also voted for the bill.

The bill passed the House last month, 58-39. It will head back there to approve amendments added in the Senate. Then the bill will go to the governor for her signature. 

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MORNING HEADLINES: Bombs, busts, save the MAC and a 'timely' bonus. It's Friday!

Posted on Fri, Mar 25, 2011 at 6:58 AM

Dissecting the MLK bomb — The Spokane backpack bomb looks more like an artillery shell, figuring out its construction is why the probable cause warrant remains sealed, Assistant U.S. Attorney says. (KXLY)

Dispute over WSU pot arrest — Attorney for Cougar basketball player DeAngelo Casto gets into war of words with Pullman police chief. (SR)

Cities struggle with 'Green rush' — With medical marijuana dispensaries still in legal limbo, these are strange days for pot dealers and Johnny Law. (Seattle Times)

Back the MAC — House bill to save Spokane's Northwest Museum of Arts and Cultures gets bipartisan support. (SR)

(Updated) Wrong way fatal — Driver going west in eastbound lanes of I-90 crashes head on at Barker Road, killing a Post Falls man. (SR)

Time! ... time! ... time! — The Friday Special Bonus Link is a cool interactive affair on the weirdness of how we keep track of time. If you are on the Space Station you can pack 32 sunrise/sunsets into your weekend! (BBC)


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