Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Washington filmmakers plan to ask Olympia to boost tax incentive program

Posted By on Tue, Dec 16, 2014 at 3:45 PM

Z Nation was the first episodic series in Washington to receive funding from the state's film incentive program. - JENNA MULLIGAN
  • Jenna Mulligan
  • Z Nation was the first episodic series in Washington to receive funding from the state's film incentive program.

As the 2015 Washington state legislative session approaches, convening in Olympia on Jan. 12, interest groups all around are getting ready to make their cases for increased or maintained state funding. One of those is Washington Filmworks, the nonprofit tasked with managing the state's film production incentive program.

At an annual industry update last week at Nectar Tasting Room in downtown Spokane, Washington Filmworks' Director Amy Lillard, and Board of Directors Chair Don Jensen, shared successes of the year, and the organization's goals for the upcoming session.

Throughout this year, Washington Filmworks provided funding assistance for 13 TV episode (Z Nation), seven commercials, three projects at its Innovation Lab and one feature film (Captain Fantastic). That funding assistance was split roughly in half between projects in Eastern (51 percent) and Western Washington (49 percent).

Combined, projects in 2014 resulted in an estimated $33 million in economic impact for the state. 

However, Lillard pointed out that even with those notable successes, Washington Filmworks was forced to turn away five big projects that would have generated an additional $55 million into the state economy. That's because Washington Filmworks' annual $3.5 million film industry incentive cap was spent by May.

Washington's film incentive program works like a cash rebate for qualifying productions made in-state. 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. 

Washington's program to encourage filmmakers to work here is the fifth smallest in the nation, but interest in making films here is growing, Lillard told the group of about three dozen at the presentation last Thursday.

"We spent the summer looking to what we can do during the [legislative] session because it's hard to come up with the money," Lillard says. 

While Washington Filmworks plans to ask state lawmakers to increase its incentive budget, Lillard says no official request has been determined at this point. However, if the state were able to take advantage of all the projects interested in shooting here, an estimated $24.3 million in funding assistance would be needed. 

Anticipating the challenges ahead of legislators as they work to balance the 2015-17 biennium budget during the 2015 session, it's going to be a tough battle for everyone. The biggest priorities on the table are education, mental health services and the voter-approved class size reduction initiative.    

Still, Lillard and Jensen urged attendees last week to reach out to their legislators, and to ask them to fight for increased funding for the film incentives.  

"We know it's made a difference in employment," she adds. "We're committed to being transparent, and $24.3 million — is that feasible? I don't know."

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Friday, December 12, 2014

CAT FRIDAY: The best gifts of 2014 for the cats in your life

Posted By on Fri, Dec 12, 2014 at 1:59 PM

Whether you are the master servant of one cat or many, the holidays are all about them, too. (Duh.) But like many cat lovers, the buying of special goodies and treats is something that you frequently cave to year-round. There's nothing cuter or more rewarding than watching your little fur babies go nuts over a fresh, new catnip kicker, right? But when they eventually lose interest, and you tuck the old, forgotten toys away in some dusty basket in a corner, the realization hits of just how stupidly spoiled your cats actually are. The problem arises for me every year: What to get the cat who has everything, and doesn't need a damn thing? Here's my recommendations for cats at all levels of spoiled.

KitNip Box Subscription

Subscription-based "loot" boxes are huge for all interests right now, from pets to video gamers to beauty-product hoarders. Though I've never personally tried this specific service, my all-cats Instagram feed seems to always showcase cats' positive reactions to the product selection that comes each month in their kitties' KitNipBox. Two subscription packages are offered at $19 and $29/month, with the higher cost catering more to multiple-cat households. Boxes include goodies like treats, toys, grooming products and more. It's a great way to stock up on tasty kitty treats, and introduce newness and excitement to your cats' life each month. • $19-$29 •

SlimCat Interactive Feeder

Though some think fat cats are just the cutest, cuddliest little creatures ever, pet obesity is a big deal, with nearly half the cat population estimated to be over a healthy weight. If you have a chubby furry friend, an interactive feeder can help them trim down by making meal time more like a mind puzzle and a game that gets them active rather than a scarfing speed race at the food bowl. Put part of your cats' recommended, daily food allowance in here, or a couple of treats, and make them do a little more work for it. • $6.29 •

Feliway products can be a miracle solution to many stress-related behaviors cats exhibit — fear of new places, going to the vet, riding in the car or leaving the house in general, and meeting a new fur-sibling (or a human sibling, for that matter). It might not seem like a "fun" gift, but your cat will appreciate it next time there's a trip to the groomers or boarder. The odorless product uses a replicated pheromone that cats naturally produce and mark their environment with when they're happy. Every time your kitty is rubbing his/her face on you, or something in your home, he/she is depositing these pheromones, undetectable by humans. Find the Feliway line at most pet stores and vet clinics. It comes in a plug-in diffuser, spray and wipe form. • $49.99/diffuser kit •

Energy Pyramid Cat House

Give your kitty a funky, stylish place to recharge and find solitude in the form of this quirky kitty pyramid. May he/she have sweet dreams of being worshiped as a cats once were during the ancient Egyptians' rule, when cats were considered holy beings for protecting grain storage from rodent pests. This pyramid is lined with a scratch-friendly surface, and would be even cozier if stuffed with a soft bed or blanket. • $32 •

Cat Canoe Bed

Finding the perfect cat bed for your kitty can be seriously challenging. Really. Some cats love covered beds, other cats won't touch them, preferring to lay on every other human-designated surface in the house. This particular model seems to offer the same cozy feel that many hooded or covered kitty beds offer, but in a more claustrophobia-friendly design. The tapered sides create a warm, nest-like embrace around a snoozing cat's body, while also giving an open view to see and hear all that's going on as they snuggle. • $29.95 •

The Furminator
While also more of a necessity than a "fun" Christmas gift for your cat, it's a purchase you'll thank yourself for making come spring when that thick winter coat starts loosening and covering your house in cat fur. I personally swear by this tool. The brush teeth are designed to hit where all that loose fur is coming from, underneath your cats' shiny, silky top coat. After a good five minutes of brushing, you'll wonder how it was even possible your cat had that much fur to begin with. • $42.99 •

Meow-y Christmas!
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Thursday, December 11, 2014

Inside the Kennel Club: Beating WSU edition

Posted By on Thu, Dec 11, 2014 at 3:45 PM


Inlander contributors and Gonzaga seniors Franny Wright and Jenna Mulligan will be taking you inside the Kennel Club, the Zags' renowned student section, in this occasional series to give you some insight as to what makes these kids amongst the rowdiest in all of college hoops.

At 6:15 pm, almost two hours before Gonzaga and Washington State tipped off, a line of GU students had already formed in a snaking curve around the backside of the Spokane Arena. On this Wednesday before finals week, the Zags put down their books and flocked — on foot and in shuttles — to fill the student section for this rivalry game that had been moved to the much bigger Spokane Arena. Different court; same urgency.

The student section filled hurriedly in an arena that was otherwise empty. To the students, it’s never just about being present — it’s about being as close to the court as possible. They peeled off jackets, revealing a sea of red and a hodgepodge of costumes, and then settled in to wait for the buzzer to sound. The moment the Zombie Nation began to play over the loud speaker, those individual faces would become one cohesive voice in the energy of the Kennel Club, leading Gonzaga on to a 81-66 win over WSU on a night when the team captain, Kevin Pangos, didn't even score, but three other players all went for 20 or more points.

Here's what some students had to say.

Kacie Waagbo, freshman

I got here 72 minutes before the game, and we sprinted in because we knew we’d have to rush to get a good seat. I wanted to go to a school where basketball was big, and, well, ninth in the nation is good enough for me.
Hayden Nelson, sophomore
It’s been pretty live here in the arena tonight. WSU is always a really huge game, so it’s just cool to be here, feel the energy, and make it crazy. I dressed up because it’s Christmas, everyone likes power rangers, and … well it’s America so you kind of do what you want.
Sean Dorsey, freshman
I’m the Pope. I’m just trying to bring out my personal Jesuit as a Gonzaga student. Why not embrace it? I may wear it again, but the Pope likes to pick and choose where he’s seen. Being in the Kennel and having this experience is a huge part of Gonzaga. It really just makes you feel like a part of the school and community.
Marie Marshall, senior
I’m a ghost, because BOO WAZZU! I make a different costume every year. I was a cow once with a sign that said “Waz-Moo-Who?”
Brandon Pitzer, senior
This place is huge ... I’ve got 900 of my best friends here, cheering for the same thing. That’s why I love this.

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Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Big Spokane show announcements: Doug Benson and Lucinda Williams

Posted By on Tue, Dec 9, 2014 at 4:39 PM

Doug Benson loves movies and visiting Spokane

So we don’t know for sure that Doug Benson loves visiting Spokane but he is hitting up the Knitting Factory January 9 to do standup comedy — unfortunately not a Doug Loves Movies podcast taping.

Benson is the sort of dude whose Twitter account explains: “If you can't stand the tweet, unfollow the kitchen.” That should give you an insight into his type of humor. The comedian was seen on Last Comic Standing and starred in the all-important documentary Super High Me. But he’s most well known in hipster circles for his podcast Doug Loves Movies, which tapes often at Upright Citizens Brigade Theater in Los Angeles. The podcast invites artists and comedians of all walks to the stage and features the best game ever, the Leonard Maltin Game, where players are asked to guess a film by the number of stars and brief explanation given by movie critic Leonard Maltin. (Pro tip: Buy a Leonard Maltin Movie Guide book and play this game with friends … so fun).

His other weekly, yet more ridiculous, podcast is Getting Doug with High. Which, like his standup, talks a lot about smoking marijuana. 

Tickets are $20 and can be purchased at

Lucinda Williams rocks hard country

Lucinda Williams, 61, sounds kind of drunk when she sings, but in a super cool way. She brings her brand of rockin’ country to the Bing Crosby Theater Valentine’s Day (which is also the day Portland Cello Project comes to town. Good luck deciding which show to attend).

Williams’ first album Ramblin’ was released in 1979, but it took until the late-1990s for her to find mainstream success. Since then she’s been named America’s Best Songwriter by Time magazine and has won multiple Grammys. 

Tickets start at $39 and go on sale Friday at TicketsWest outlets. 

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FASHION: Former Spokane artist starts casual, athletic clothing line

Posted By on Tue, Dec 9, 2014 at 1:03 PM

Georgie Wear creators Danielle Hatch (left) and Meikel Reece (right)
  • Georgie Wear creators Danielle Hatch (left) and Meikel Reece (right)

When she grew tired of throwing on boring sweats on her way to work after exercising, former Spokane resident Danielle Hatch — now in Houston — began taking the comfy materials found in workout clothes and creatively piecing them together.

"The Downtown Dress" by Georgie Wear - VAUSMA
  • Vausma
  • "The Downtown Dress" by Georgie Wear

Georgie Wear products cater to a demographic of active women who don't feel the need to get all dolled up to transition from sweating it out at the gym to the rest of their daily activities. With backgrounds in fitness and art — she's a former member of Saranac Art Projects — Hatch gathered inspiration from her varying interests. Partnering with her husband, the idea for Georgie won the Rice University Jones School Owl Tank Business Plan Competition this year. 

Like many modern entrepreneurs, Hatch and business partner Meikel Reece — friends since they were co-captains of their high school volleyball team — are using Kickstarter to raise $20,000. If they meet their goal, that money will go to a first run of Georgie clothing and an e-commerce site.

Based on the size of their pledge, backers of Georgie Wear on Kickstarter will have the option to pre-order products, such as various skirts and dresses. 

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Tuesday, December 2, 2014

"Black Spokane" looks at civil rights in the Inland Northwest

Posted By on Tue, Dec 2, 2014 at 12:58 PM


For a region largely composed of white people, we often need reminders to take note of the Inland Northwest's minority populations, the civil rights movements throughout the area's history, and those still in progress.

On Wednesday, Gonzaga University Unity Multicultural Education Center presents a free lecture by Dr. Dwayne Mack, chair in African American History at Berea University, called "Black Spokane: The Civil Rights Struggles in the Inland Northwest." It starts at 7 pm in the Barbieri Courtroom of the Gonzaga law school. 

Though Spokane may be overlooked when it comes to black history, its involvement in civil rights activism stretches from black migration in the 1880s to the election of the first black mayor of Spokane, James Chase. Mack discussion outlines Spokane's important place in the context of 20th century equality efforts. 

Mack's new book on the subject, published this year, will be available for purchase for those interested in further study of our region's unique contributions to the civil rights movement. 

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Monday, November 24, 2014

Spokane Civic Theatre's 2015-16 season lineup announced

Posted By on Mon, Nov 24, 2014 at 2:29 PM


Not halfway into its current, 68th season, the Spokane Civic Theatre has already announced the lineup of shows it plans to produce for its 69th year, starting in the fall of 2015. 

Right now, the theater is staging a musical version of the classic Dickens' tale A Christmas Carol, running through Dec. 20. Read Inlander theater writer E.J. Iannelli's take on it in this week's issue, out a day early, on Wednesday, Nov. 26, in light of the Thanksgiving holiday.

For the 2014-15 season, the community theater kicked things off with a bang, opening with an impeccable production of Fiddler on the Roof. And those who saw it won't soon forget the previous season's sold-out run of Les Miserables

Keeping with its theme of musicals and other familiar favorites, the Civic's 2015-16 season opens on the Main Stage with Catch Me If You Can, The Musical, Sept. 18-Oct. 18, 2015.

It will be followed by these shows, on the main stage:

  • White Christmas, Nov. 20-Dec. 19, 2015
  • Les Liaisons Dangereuses (Dangerous Liaisons), Jan. 15-31, 2016
  • Little Women, The Musical, Feb. 26-March 20, 2016
  • The Fox on the Fairway, April 8-May 1, 2016
  • Ghost, The Musical, May 20-June 19, 2016

Downstairs in the cozier Studio Theatre, the 69th season features:

  • Evil Dead, The Musical, Oct. 16-Nov. 15, 2015
  • Sordid Lives, Jan 29-Feb. 16, 2016
  • Hapgood, March 18-April 10, 2016
  • Fiction, April 29-May 21, 2016

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Friday, November 21, 2014

CAT FRIDAY: It's Adopt a Senior Pet Month, and Star needs a home

Posted By on Fri, Nov 21, 2014 at 4:55 PM

I see it all too often. The playful, undeniably adorable little kittens (and puppies) are always picked over the calm, quiet, snuggly older cats (and dogs).

It's natural to gravitate toward the kittens. Baby animals are damn cute, and if someone brought me a kitten right now I wouldn't turn it away. But the senior cats and dogs, once adorable babies, too, who've been abandoned and surrendered to a shelter — these are the animals who really need more human attention and affection.

November is recognized nationally by shelters and rescue groups as "Adopt a Senior Pet Month," but this doesn't mean we should forget about those sweet oldies the rest of the year.

While the cons — health problems/risks, cost of care, emotional attachment fears — of adopting an animal nearing the end of its life are often the reasons people choose kittens first, older pets have many positive qualities often overlooked. They're calm. They're (usually) trained, or if not, they're actually better at catching on than younger animals. And, in more cases than with a younger animal, you're probably really saving a life when you adopt an older pet.

I'll admit I used to more often gravitate to the cuter and more active younger cats hanging out in the shelter's kitty room where I volunteer. But in the past couple years, a very special senior cat entered my life, and I've become totally won over by the quirks and qualities of senior cats. 

But there are too many cats out there like her who aren't as lucky to have such a loving home. Countless senior pets are patiently waiting, right now, for the day they're not overlooked, and someone comes to pick them instead of their younger, rowdy kennel neighbors. Pets like Star.

Star has been waiting to be adopted since March 2014.
  • Star has been waiting to be adopted since March 2014.

This beautiful, regal calico came to the Spokane Humane Society in March of this year, and because of her age and a (manageable) health issue, she's been waiting for a home for the eight months since. Shelter staff can't pinpoint why, because Star is the definition of a "star" cat. She's already declawed in the front, although she's so quiet and well-mannered, she'd probably never think of being destructive. 

Just because a cat has passed their kitten stage doesn't mean they're done with play time, and Star loves to bat around a toy or two when she's feeling frisky.

Since coming to the shelter, Star has been diagnosed with a very manageable condition, common in older cats, called hyperthyroidism. This requires her to take an inexpensive ($16/month) tablet twice a day, mixed into her food.

Star would do best in a calmer, quiet home. She doesn't particularly enjoy being around kids, who don't always understand she can't play all the time. All she really needs is someone who'll let her snuggle in their lap every once and a while. She doesn't really mind other cats, and lived with a feline companion before she was surrendered to the shelter. 

Star was recently featured at last weekend's Spokane Humane Society Furr Ball gala, at the Davenport Hotel, where many guests doted over her beautiful, silky fur and her incredible calmness in such a busy, loud setting. Unfortunately, even though she seemed to win the hearts of many that night, she didn't find the home she longs for. 

How wonderful if Star found a home for the holidays. She's not the only senior cat at SHS looking for a human to snuggle, though, and her other longtime friends at the shelter include Tigger, Stash, George, Fancy, Sam and Luna. SHS's partner shelters (SpokAnimal, SCRAPS) also have senior pets looking for homes, so if Star's not the cat for you, that's okay. We believe her special day will come!

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Spokane Arts announces Laura Becker as its new executive director

Posted By on Fri, Nov 21, 2014 at 10:37 AM

  • Anne Blackburn photo
  • Laura Becker

Three months after the resignation of Spokane Arts' executive director, Shannon Halberstadt, who ushered the reorganized arts nonprofit into new territory, the organization has announced a new leader in Spokane native Laura Becker.

Becker has been working in arts administration in Seattle since 2001, most recently as the lead of the Seattle Department of Transportation's 1% for Arts initiative, which allocates funds and installs art in SDOT facilities. Before that, Becker was a project manager for the Washington State Arts Commission's Art in Public Places program, which brought her to Spokane frequently. During that time, she saw a city and an arts landscape that was quickly changing for the good.

"There's a young, vibrant energy [in Spokane] that I’ve been witnessing over the last five years," says Becker when we reached her by phone in Seattle, where she was in the middle of an arts installation.

"With all the creative talent in Spokane, people feel like they can live here and explore an arts career without having to leave town," says Becker, adding that this wasn't the case when she left for the University of Washington in the 1990s.

Becker will be in Spokane a few days a week next month getting acclimated at Spokane Arts before taking over full time at the beginning of the year. She plans to hit the ground running, especially when it comes to fundraising and planning for the longterm aims of the organization, which is coming off its first Spokane Arts month in October.
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Saturday, November 15, 2014

A search for community at Man Show Spokane 2014

Posted By on Sat, Nov 15, 2014 at 8:46 AM

The mission was clear – find out what a “man” is, as defined by the commercially driven Man Show Spokane 2014.

The stakes? Well, pretty non-existent really, other than a personal interest as a new transplant to Spokane, and self-described “man.” Although, my definition of the word might be a wee bit different than the marketing demographics’ version at play at Man Show Spokane. I may not hunt, nor sail, nor ride motorcycles nor buy calendars of tool company pin-ups. Even so – I am a man, dammit! 

The definition fluctuates, of course. “Man” has all manner of permutations. In my home state of Utah, a big part of it for some is going to church and siring many, many children. I’m not qualified for either of those roles. And yet, I’m crazy hairy and deep-voiced. But I digress.

Community celebrations and festivals are good barometers of a culture and a place. That’s according to a pop-culture class taken 23 years ago, anyway. So I headed to Man Show Spokane to learn a bit about my new community, and “manned up” for the trip. Unshaven. Wearing a heavy metal T-shirt and hoodie. Listening to the newly remaster of Zeppelin’s Houses of the Holy on the drive (yes, you should buy it – again). 

My Suburu looked a little meek parked next to some of the trucks in the lot, but whatever – I’m still a man, dammit! The most surprising thing I saw there was a SCRAPS animal rescue booth right next to a spot showcasing furs, skulls and collectible gator heads, or maybe seeing a copy of The Anarchist Cookbook for sale alongside booths for Tupperware and DirecTV. Oh, and there was a booth featuring a conspiracy theorist/gardening entrepreneur’s wonder-tool dubbed the BGT (Basic Garden Tool — over there to the right).

And still, I found some answers to the question:

WHAT’S A “MAN” IN SPOKANE? (according to a two-hour visit to the Man Show Spokane 2014)

A Spokane Man likes to bash the hell out of some cars when given the opportunity:

A Spokane Man is ready for zombies:

A Spokane Man can appreciate hand-crafted decorations on his growler (Northwest Brew Gear):

A Spokane Man can go for a beer-flavored jam or jelly (from Mick’s Peppourri, or Mick's Brewourri in this case):

A Spokane Man likes a good deal:

The Man Show Spokane 2014 runs through Sunday. It's $10 for an all-weekend pass. 

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