Friday, March 27, 2015

Audition to be a Z Nation zombie Saturday

Posted By on Fri, Mar 27, 2015 at 3:29 PM


Ever want to be on TV? Start practicing your best zombie moans and hobbling walks tonight, because locals are being cast as undead extras for the second season of Syfy's Z Nation series being filmed in and around Spokane

The last local audition session for the show is being held tomorrow, Saturday, March 28, from 9 am-4 pm in Spokane Valley, at Redeemer Lutheran Church. Interested actors must be at least 18 years old and live in Washington state. There's a $5 fee if you're not with a talent agent or don't have a Casting Networks Account.

Pre-registration for tomorrow's auditions is open online until 6 pm tonight, but those who miss this deadline can still show up — just be prepared to wait. 

While the next season of the Walking Dead lookalike is set to resume filming in Spokane later this year, the future of the Z Nation's impact on regional film industry professionals and actors in the coming years is a less clear. Right now, a bill in the state legislature (SB 6027) is seeking to boost Washington's film incentive program, which industry advocates argue is necessary for projects like Z Nation and others to continue being made in the Evergreen State.

Washington's film incentive program essentially offers cash rebates for qualifying productions made within state borders. Funded by a portion of the state's business and occupation tax liabilities (corporations/individuals can choose to contribute to this fund, getting a dollar-for-dollar tax credit, up to $1 million), qualifying productions can apply to get 30 percent of what they spent here back from the state.

That fund, however, is currently capped at $3.5 million, making Washington's the fifth smallest incentive program in the nation — well behind many other states with enormous incentive pools for filmmakers. It's why so many movies are made in Vancouver, British Columbia (which has no cap on its incentives), and other states like Alabama, Louisiana and New Mexico. As of now, Washington Filmworks, which oversees the program, has already received more requests than it can award to qualifying projects seeking to get some money back in return for the economic impact of locating work in-state.

The bill being considered (no vote on it has been set yet; the current session ends on April 26) would gradually boost Washington's program to an annual cap of $10 million by the year 2019. This increase would result in a $3.5 million loss in state revenue during the current budget biennium and a $17 million loss during the 2017-19 biennium. These numbers are the biggest factors working against the request for an increased program cap, as state lawmakers work to balance the state budget while maintaining basic programs.

Film industry supporters from around the state testified on Wednesday during a Senate Ways & Means hearing (captured in the video below), including several Spokane residents whose livelihoods rely on their home state remaining competitive with its neighbors, like Oregon. Our southern neighbor caps its program at $10 million a year, allowing it to sustain several ongoing projects for films and television series. 

Earlier this month, a group of Spokane film workers also traveled to Olympia for a film lobbying day, taking the capitol by storm with a horde of Z Nation zombies. 

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Monday, March 23, 2015

Explore Gonzaga hoops history while you wait for the Sweet 16

Posted By on Mon, Mar 23, 2015 at 3:28 PM

If you're a Zags fan and can't believe you have to wait until Friday to see the men's hoops Sweet 16 matchup, and Saturday for the women's game at Spokane Arena, you might want to make your way to the Gonzaga University campus, where the Foley Center is hosting a display of Gonzaga hoops history sure to satisfy your sports cravings until the weekend. 

"Slam-Dunk: GU Basketball Highlights" celebrates the long, winning histories of both the men's and women's teams through more than 30 items culled from the library's University Archives and Special Collections. 

Among the objects are a 1912 game ticket, a page from men's coach Claude McGrath's notebook from the 1930s, and a slew of photos covering the last century-plus of basketball on Gonzaga's campus, from players to team photos to shots of the first gym on campus. 

The Slam Dunk exhibit will remain on display through the NCAA basketball tournaments, free and open to the public Mondays-Thursdays from 8 am to 2 am, Fridays from 8 am to 9 pm, Saturdays 10 am to 6 pm, and Sundays 10 am to 2 am. 
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Sunday, March 22, 2015

PHOTOS: 22nd Anniversary Powwow

Posted By on Sun, Mar 22, 2015 at 3:04 PM

Hundreds of people attended the 22nd Anniversary Powwow at the Coeur d’Alene Casino Resort Hotel on Saturday. Regional drummers and dancers from throughout Idaho, Montana and Washington were represented, as well as at least one dancer from Alaska. Powwows have been used by Native Americans as a way to preserve culture and reinforce existing relationships, as well as create new ones.

Dave BrownEagle, of the Spokane Tribe and Ho-Chunk Nation, leads the opening procession while carrying an eagle staff. - YOUNG KWAK
  • Young Kwak
  • Dave BrownEagle, of the Spokane Tribe and Ho-Chunk Nation, leads the opening procession while carrying an eagle staff.

Marisa Shottanana-Ponce, of the Kootenai Tribe of Idaho, walks in the opening procession. - YOUNG KWAK
  • Young Kwak
  • Marisa Shottanana-Ponce, of the Kootenai Tribe of Idaho, walks in the opening procession.

Joe Matt Sr., of the Coeur d'Alene Tribe, dances in the opening procession. - YOUNG KWAK
  • Young Kwak
  • Joe Matt Sr., of the Coeur d'Alene Tribe, dances in the opening procession.

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Saturday, March 21, 2015

A former DSP president's assessment of Spokane's economy, "good-old-boy culture"

Posted By on Sat, Mar 21, 2015 at 8:31 AM

Former DSP President Mike Tedesco
  • Former DSP President Mike Tedesco

Back in 2012, Mike Tedesco, for reasons that are still unclear, was fired as president of the Downtown Spokane Partnership, something he ended up suing for shortly after.

And for several years, Tedesco largely disappeared from the public eye. But now he's back, with a blog called "Spokane Planner." 

"You know, it’s basically just a hobby," Tedesco says. "I’ve been fascinated with cities since I was a kid. Spokane being the chief most fascinating city among them."

A lot of the content in his longer pieces are drawn from his old college research papers at the University of Idaho and the University of Kansas. Yet the writing is lively, even exploring such dry-sounding topics as Spokane's economy and its slow population growth:
If not for generally favorable regional market forces, Spokane would easily be on par with such prosperous communities as Rochester, New York; Flint, Michigan; Youngstown, Ohio; and Scranton, Pennsylvania. The gods of economics have been charitable, however, and granted us the indispensable virtue of being a regional cosmopolitan and financial market center for a broad international geography. Thus, instead of suffering a fate akin to rustbelt communities of similar size, we’ve managed to glide on the contrails of metropolitan areas that have experienced rapid growth since 1990—Boise, Idaho; Colorado Springs, Colorado; Albuquerque, New Mexico.
He sees something symbolic in how long it took the city to find its "Near Nature, Near Perfect" slogan.
And now we come full circle back to “Near Nature, Near Perfect.” Dwelling on a simple city slogan may seem trivial but it’s emblematic of a larger challenge that faces the community. The scale of cause and effect accomplishments within Spokane’s political arena has diminished to a point of such insignificance that even fruit as low hanging as changing a slogan takes months of consensus building and, in the end, they still only get it half right and about a decade too late
Most interesting, however, is Tedesco's assessments of the political culture
Of course, as any local will tell you, the financial and political trauma created by the River Park Square fiasco has yet to wane. The transaction wrought such a large degree of paranoia that Average Joe citizens will no doubt compare the next proposed public/private partnership to that of River Park Square and, worst yet, community leaders will no doubt continue to hesitate from entering into the next public/private partnership for fear of being chastised as creating another River Park Square. Thus, the political environment has diminished to such a state that any prospect of attracting significant investments is paralyzed by speculation and fear on both sides.

This comes as no surprise, however, because the puzzle that is Spokane politics is often an irrational one. The allogamy between people, organizations, business and political interests is fluid and often veiled beneath the surface. Veterans of the local political arena, in particular executive level public and quasi-public officials, choose their words wisely because expressing direct opinions that challenge the status quo, however irrational the status quo might be, is dangerous territory that may well end with a termination notice.

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Friday, March 20, 2015

CAT FRIDAY: Notable runners up for "Best Local Cat" in the Best Of readers poll

Posted By on Fri, Mar 20, 2015 at 1:43 PM

We had no idea what to expect after placing one of the most unusual questions on the ballots for this year's Best Of the Inland Northwest readers poll: Best Local Cat. 

The unlikely odds this question ended up on the ballot was actually in part thanks to this writer, who, in testing last year's online voting system, half-seriously responded to last year's "Best question we didn't ask?" with a cat-themed inquiry.

Early predictions around the Inlander office were a runaway victory by Spokane's most influential famous cat — Keyboard Cat. Yet, surprisingly, it was not Keyboard Cat who took the ultimate title, but a petite little tabby named Laney, who resides at a long-time local business, Dan's Barber Shop. I had the lovely opportunity to write about Laney in this year's Best Of issue (scroll to the bottom of the linked page for her story).

Omar Little is a feisty little guy. - ROBIN HAYNES
  • Robin Haynes
  • Omar Little is a feisty little guy.
Once the ballots were tallied, Charlie Schmidt's Keyboard Cat (who we profiled about a year ago) landed the second-place spot, followed by an unforeseen unknown in third place, a spunky rescue cat by the name of OMAR LITTLE. Pets outside of the public eye were an obvious trend in responses to this question. To find out more about Omar I tracked down his owner, Robin Haynes, a principal at the Spokane office of the law firm Witherspoon Kelley.
The name Omar Little may sound familiar to some — Haynes' named the cat after a stick-up man who robs drug dealers on the HBO crime drama The Wire

"He's a little gangster with a lot of personality... it's like living with a little panther," Haynes notes. "He likes to punch you in the face with his paw to get you to feed him because his bowl being empty is a problem."

Omar was adopted in 2012 at 11 months old from the Spokane Humane Society, after he'd already been in three different homes and returned to the shelter each time. At the shelter, he was known as Henri. Haynes says that while there, shelter staff taught him to play fetch, walk on a leash and do other tricks for treats. Omar is currently featured on this year's SHS desk calendar, for which he had a professional photo shoot.

Haynes is a huge fan of The Wire, and Omar's little brother is also named after a gangster character in the show. Wee-Bey, however, is Omar's total opposite. Haynes calls him the "shyest cat ever."

Scrolling through the hundreds of nominees for "Best Local Cat," I was intrigued to learn more about a few other cats with pop-culture namesakes. And in an age where cats seem to have just as good odds as humans to nab 15 minutes of fame, it's time to let the world know about some of the Northwest's most interesting feline personalities.


Owned by
: Jerry Schutz

Age: 2 years

Adopted from: Humane Society of the Palouse, in March 2013. (This was after Schutz found the cat wandering around his home, sneaking inside repeatedly for several hours. Once it was determined the cat was a stray, Schutz made it official.)

Name inspiration: President of the Galaxy from Douglas Adams' Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Jerry writes, "As you may recall Zaphod Beeblebrox has two heads — the one without brains who signed the order to blow up the Earth, and the intelligent one that got him elected president, running the 'Don't Vote for Stupid' campaign."

If Zaphod could communicate his surprise at being nominated, what would he say? “Don't try to understand me, just be grateful that you felt the warmth of Zaphod Beeblebrox's aura on your wonderstruck face.”


Owned by
: Sarah Knutson

Age: 9 years

Adopted from: In September 2006, he was a kitten living at a barn in Montana where Knutson boarded her horse. He loved people, and didn't like to hang out with the other cats on the farm, so the barn owners asked if anyone would take him, and she couldn't resist.

Strangest quirk? "I swear he is a dog in cat's clothing. He begs for food, patrols the house, and waits at the door for me to come home. He is always happy to see me and follows me everywhere."

If Squeeze Box could communicate his surprise at being nominated, what would he say? He would wonder if there was food involved, particularly ice cream, which is his favorite.


Owned by
: Jonathan Manfredonia

Age: 1 year; his birthday was on St. Patrick's Day

Adopted from: SpokAnimal, in September 2014 

What is his strangest quirk? "He's the most seductive cat I've ever met. He immediately jumps into the lap of anyone who comes over, and swoons them into heavy petting with his big, innocent eyes and baritone purr."
If Catrick could communicate his surprise at being nominated, what would he say? He would quote the other Swayze from Point Break, "Little hand says it's time to rock and roll!" 


Owned by
: Elliot Stoll

Age: Around 6 or 7 years

Adopted from: Partners for Pets, in September 2010

Nicknames: The Chupacabra, Chup (choop), Chalupa

Strangest quirk? "Her need to announce herself with a series of meows when entering a room. However, her frequent vocalizations are what makes her unique. She's an extremely well-behaved cat, and we're glad to have her."


Owned by
: Nathan and Lisa Smith

Age: 9 years

Adopted from: SpokAnimal, in March 2006

Name inspiration: "The first Anchorman came out while we were in college. We were looking for something unique with some personality, and this fit the bill. Ron Burgundy has a classy way about him."

Favorite thing about him? "He likes to be where the action is, but he is not too clingy. He has also developed a special bond with our Weimaraner, Yoda. For instance, he likes to hide behind walls and surprise him when he walks by."

If Ron could communicate his surprise at being nominated, what would he say?  Undoubtedly, he would be asking where the afterparty is.

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Saturday, March 14, 2015

PHOTOS: St. Patrick's Day Parade

Posted By on Sat, Mar 14, 2015 at 5:37 PM

Community organizations, dancers, pipe bands and many others marched in front of thousands of spectators during Spokane's annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade, on Saturday.

The banner of the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick is carried at the beginning of th St. Patrick's Day Parade. - YOUNG KWAK
  • Young Kwak
  • The banner of the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick is carried at the beginning of th St. Patrick's Day Parade.

An Air Force color guard marches near the start. - YOUNG KWAK
  • Young Kwak
  • An Air Force color guard marches near the start.

Mayor David Condon, right, shakes hands with 7 year old Isabel Webb, center, as her 10 year old sister Brynn watches. - YOUNG KWAK
  • Young Kwak
  • Mayor David Condon, right, shakes hands with 7 year old Isabel Webb, center, as her 10 year old sister Brynn watches.

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Friday, March 13, 2015

Wall Street Journal highlights some of Spokane's finest cuisine

Posted By on Fri, Mar 13, 2015 at 3:44 PM

Spokane knows food.

From farm-to-table fresh menus like Mizuna to Casper Fry's southern flavor with a modern twist, Spokanites are spoiled with a smorgasbord of dining options. These venues along with many others have earned Spokane food-lovers' fame. In recent week's we've seen Santé's Jeremy Hansen nominated for a James Beard award and go cook at the prestigious New York spot, and had professional foodie Alton Brown make the rounds through Spokane's dining scene before his show at the INB Performing Arts Center. And, of course, Inlander Restaurant Week at the end of February took locals all over the region for amazing food. 

Now the Wall Street Journal is on board, recognizing Spokane as one of "six small towns for food lovers" in an article today that offers some love to Durkin's Liquor Bar (the "over-the-top meat menu ... sets this place apart") and Italia Trattoria ("Spokanites love the changing menu of house-made pastas"), among other spots. For some reason, the Journal thinks Casper Fry is in Sacramento, but we'll cut them a little slack. 

Check out the full article here
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Thursday, March 12, 2015

One man's fine line between stupid and sexy at Spokane Community College

Posted By on Thu, Mar 12, 2015 at 3:31 PM


Do you find the above photo offensive? 

Not the pic of the three good-looking folks in the Bisexual Awareness Week poster, but the photo of the middle-aged dude who spent midday in the Spokane Community College Lair student center "protesting" what he considers the "lewd" imagery on said poster by sitting on top of the ladder without a shirt? 

As far as protests go, it wasn't exactly marching across the bridge in Selma. And for Scott Maclay, an SCC medical student, president of the Rattlesnakes Motorcycle Club and the lone man baring his desire to cover up those frisky poster children, Thursday's demonstration wasn't quite in the same league as the protests he organized against police militarization in December that attracted the likes of Rep. Matt Shea and attention from conspiracy-minded websites like

Most students who ran across the smiling Maclay around 11 am either laughed and moved on or ignored him entirely. When he caught someone's eye, he'd quickly point at the Bisexual Awareness Week poster and asked, "Do you believe this image violates the student conduct code?" 

Of course, most college students haven't even read the student conduct code. I can't even remember if any of the three schools I attended even had one. But Maclay claims that the Spokane Community College Student Code of Conduct, which has a long list of clauses that really make for some entrancing reading, essentially says that since he's offended and finds the poster's image "pornographic," then the school should take it down. When the administration disagreed with him, well, that's how we end up with a shirtless guy on top of a ladder, asking people, "Hey, would you want me coming to class this way?"

We can probably all answer that in the negative, no matter what our sexuality, right?

For his part, Maclay claims that he has no problem with bisexuality; he's just protesting the "lewd" image on the poster. He's just a church-going, caring guy, worried about the kids touring campus with their parents being confronted with sexual imagery.

Betsy Lawrence, though, isn't buying it. An SCC English professor and faculty advisor to the SCC Global club — a group representing LGBTQ students on campus and organizers of Bisexual Awareness Week — Lawrence said, "I do think it's a gay and lesbian issue for him," and noted that SCC students "picked and created" the image and poster with the intention of being provocative. 

"If you were to make a safe-sex ad, you'd make something that looks like people about to have sex," Lawrence said. "You see all sorts of things on a public campus."

Darik French, a software development student, was tending the Bisexual Awareness Week desk for the SCC Global club a few feet from Maclay's ladder, handing out brochures and free condoms to any interested parties, and collecting donations for breast cancer research. He welcomed the "friendly debate" Maclay was having with a few people who stopped to take his photo, lured into a conversation by Maclay's bareback antics. 

Cassie Wright, a medical student like Maclay, stopped to read his sign and laughed at the idea the poster was lewd. 

"My sister who's 10 years old has seen worse things than that. It's PG-13," Wright said. "I've seen worse on an American Idol billboard."
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Friday, March 6, 2015

Marmot Art Space opens in Kendall Yards

Posted By on Fri, Mar 6, 2015 at 1:43 PM

Melissa Cole in front of Marmot Art Space
  • Melissa Cole in front of Marmot Art Space

Happy First Friday, Spokane! The spring-like weather has arrived just in time for a new art space to sprout up in Kendall Yards. West Central's new neighborhood continues to blossom into one of Spokane's up-and-coming developments with various dining options, small businesses and now a growing art community. 

Marshall Peterson, the man behind the Marmot Art Space, beamed when talking about his new project.

"There are frogs and there are lizards, and all of them are important. I believe that Marmot Art Space will be a part of the ecosystem of Spokane's art community," Peterson said, adding that he hopes to create a space to showcase local artists and provide a gathering space for the community. 

The artist of the hour has been concealed behind butcher paper on Adams Alley up until tonight, however it's now been announced that Marmot's first show features celebrated Spokane artist Melissa Cole. Cole cuts the ribbon to the Marmot at tonight's First Friday grand opening, with events starting at 5 pm. 

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Friday, February 27, 2015

Local filmmaker's "50 Shades of Gandalf the Grey" video goes viral

Posted By on Fri, Feb 27, 2015 at 5:34 PM

It only took 48 hours to blow up.

Spokane filmmaker Adam Harum, a co-creator of the locally-produced sci-fi web series Transolar Galactica, wasn't expecting his parody remake of the 50 Shades of Grey trailer — in which he splices Lord of the Rings wizard hero Gandalf the Grey (Ian McKellen) in place of the overhyped BDSM film's male lead character Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan) — to gain much traction. But since he posted the video on a few blogs and Reddit two days ago, it's gathered up an impressive (as of this posting) 80,500 144,800 views on YouTube.

Several thousand of those more recent clicks are in part thanks to a pick-up by the Onion's (not fake) entertainment news site, the A.V. Club.

The parody took three hours for Harum, an audio engineer for local studio ILF Media, to produce and while he didn't think it would "go viral," he decided to try an online social experiment, posting it on various sites, then sitting back to see if it would take off.

"I try the same channels to get my work out there, and I used the same pattern I've always done with my content of where, what time and what sites," he explains. "This is one of those things that is easily digestible and quick and fast, and people could easily click and share," unlike some of the professional video work Harum says he's shared through similar channels.

"It's been interesting to see the process," he says. "Most people don't get to see how this type of online content works, and the way Google and YouTube allow you to track data."

And for those wondering, Harum says he indeed saw 50 Shades of Grey in theaters. 

"It was hilarious. One of the greater comedies that's recently come out."

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