Culture

Friday, May 15, 2015

CAT FRIDAY: The world's latest cat stars — Pompous Albert and Brimley

Posted By on Fri, May 15, 2015 at 1:25 PM

Forgive us for the lack of new cat-filled posts — sometimes the cat culture news is slow. This week, however, we're here to introduce a particularly pissed off cat who's emerged as the next big Internet star (back off, Grumpy Cat) and a Washington-state native who's also reached celebri-cat status.

While the Grumpy Cat's retail empire has become ubiquitous from the mall to the grocery store, there's a new cat on the scene whose icy glare is even more menacing and filled with disdain. Last month, a Salt Lake City feline by the name of Albert — better known as "Pompous" Albert — surfaced on the 'Net and has since racked up more than 58,000 followers on Instagram. Here's the reason why: 

Albert is displeased you're reading about cats at the office again. - @POMPOUS.ALBERT INSTAGRAM
  • @pompous.albert Instagram
  • Albert is displeased you're reading about cats at the office again.

Albert is of the curly-haired Selkirk Rex breed, and his owners say he was a "rejected" show cat. Obviously, though, not being active in the cat show circuit looks to be Albert's gain. He's named after the famously white- and wild-haired physicist Albert Einstein, and spends his days judging the inferiority of humans at the art gallery where he resides as office overlord.

Meanwhile, a former ward of the Seattle Persian and Himalayan Rescue — the same group responsible for rehabilitating and rehoming the late, great Colonel Meow — has taken the title of "America's Next Cat Star."

Brimley, a snowy white Persian, received the honors earlier this month when he took top votes for the silly yet serious Animal Planet "reality" contest that reflects the world's growing fascination and acceptance of cats as pop-culture celebrities. 

We just want to pet that soft, soft kitty. - @BRIMLEYCAT INSTAGRAM
  • @Brimleycat Instagram
  • We just want to pet that soft, soft kitty.

The Tukwila, Washington-based cat had quite the rough start in life, which no doubt won over audiences and judges of the contest. Rescued from a breeder who'd more than given up on him, Brimley nearly lost his eyes before Seattle Persian took him under its care and nursed him back to health. He was adopted by a doting cat dad, RJ LaCount, and is living a much-deserved life of luxury, with all the belly rubs, vacuum grooming sessions (yes, really) and tasty treats he could ever dream of. You bet right if you guessed his namesake is the one and only Wilford Brimley

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Friday, May 1, 2015

Second Avenue traffic signal boxes now feature local artists' work

Posted By on Fri, May 1, 2015 at 3:55 PM

"Pretzels" by Jacob Greif is found at Second and Washington, kitty-corner from the Big Dipper.
  • "Pretzels" by Jacob Greif is found at Second and Washington, kitty-corner from the Big Dipper.

Spokane's downtown core is bursting with newer public art projects — the Mobile Murals project at Division and Third (Note: May is the final month for the project's current location), the downtown underpass murals, sidewalk storefront installations and new pieces at the convention center as part of the recently completed expansion.

Add one more awesome new endeavor to the mix.

Earlier this year, Spokane Arts, in partnership with the City of Spokane, put out a call to the arts community looking for submissions to brighten up the nondescript, grey traffic signal boxes around downtown Spokane. Thirteen designs by twelve artists were selected to be printed on vinyl and recently were installed on the boxes by Standard Digital Print. Find all of the signal box art along Second Avenue, from Division to Maple Street.

"Impossible Structures" by Ryann Engel is on a signal box at Second and Stevens.
  • "Impossible Structures" by Ryann Engel is on a signal box at Second and Stevens.

Here's a rundown of whose art is featured at which intersections:

Division: "qWisp" by Chelsea Hendrickson
Browne: "Ohm's Law, Abbreviated" by Stine Hansen
Washington: "Pretzels" by Jacob Greif
Stevens: "Impossible Structures" by Ryann Engel
Howard: "Know Yourself" by Marina Gulova
Wall: "Love" by Ellen Picken
Post: "untitled" by Atom Smith
Lincoln: "Old Manhattan" by Dakota Berg
Monroe: "Khokhloma Matryoshka" by Marina Gulova
Jefferson: "Runners" by David Waters
Cedar: "Dot Box" by Devin Papp
Walnut: "Dannie through the Kaleidoscope" by Monica Hoblin
Maple: "Shine On" by Aaron Abolofia


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Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Spokane a "fantasy made real" for young couples according to a dating website. Do you agree?

Posted By on Wed, Apr 29, 2015 at 2:37 PM

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Congrats, Spokane! A random website has determined — using pretty random criteria — that the Lilac City is one of the "15 Best Cities for Newlyweds." 

How did we end up so highly thought of by the good people at DatingAdvice.com? Well, they apparently took into consideration "affordability, entertainment, housing, employment opportunities and more" when coming up with their list, as well as the rankings of another website's list, Ranker.com's rundown of the "best cities for young people." 

Yes, the name of that site is Ranker.com. It's a site dedicated to, you guessed it, meaningless lists of rankings. But I digress. 

Spokane lands at No. 11 among the "15 Best Cities for Newlyweds," ahead of such hotbeds of young-couple action as Brooklyn, Indiana (not the Brooklyn you've heard of, but the one with a population of less than 2,000 in America's heartland), and the strip-mall Mecca of Irvine, Calif., but behind such desirable spots as Newark, Oakland, and Tulsa. Because when you're a newlywed, you want to spend a lot of time dodging tornados or, well, being in New Jersey. 

DatingAdvice.com describes Spokane as "a fantasy made real for couples who love the outdoors and the arts." And, it continues, "Let’s not forget that Spokane also has some of the best libraries, parks, schools and realty around."

Check out the entire list right here
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Friday, April 17, 2015

Gonzaga prof & poet Tod Marshall receives Humanities Washington Award

Posted By on Fri, Apr 17, 2015 at 3:36 PM

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Gonzaga literature and writing professor and acclaimed poet Tod Marshall will been honored with the Humanities Washington Award, which he'll receive at the Spokane Bedtime Stories fundraiser in October.

Originated in 1995, the Humanities Washington Award is granted to two individuals a year who exemplify "outstanding achievement in the public humanities." Marshall will be honored with the Humanities Scholarship and Service award.

Marshall, a first-generation college graduate, has been spreading the humanities to people of all ages and backgrounds around Washington. Originally from Kansas, Marshall earned his MFA from Eastern Washington University and then a PhD from the University of Kansas before settling in Spokane to teach English courses to Gonzaga students. Beyond his career as a university professor, Marshall was also a participant in a Humanities Washington program called Clemente Course in the Humanities. The course provides humanities education to low-income, college-aged students who might not otherwise be able to engage in such a course. 

Outside his work with college students, Marshall has also been devoted to a program called Prime Time Family Reading. As a scholar for the program, he helped to integrate reading and storytelling into the lives of at-risk families, teaching how important exposure to books is for all children. He worked to finalize the most successful curriculum for the program, and continuously attempts  to up the level participation.

Marshall is the author of three collections of poetry: Dare Say (2002), The Tangled Line (2009) and most recently Bugle, which was released this past December. Self-described as "more Dante's Inferno than anything else," Bugle is Marshall's darkest collection of the three. In his interview with the Inlander at the end of last year, he said that a central theme for the collection was the ability to still be able to find some good in disturbing situations, and went on to say that "memories in which we hold little bits of trauma" were yet another source of inspiration. 

The Bedtime Stories fundraiser will be held October 23 at the Spokane Club for the official presentation of the award.  
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Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Best of Broadway 2015-2016 schedule announced

Posted By and on Tue, Apr 14, 2015 at 1:29 PM

Disney's Newsies - is one of the highlights of the 2015-2016 Best of Broadway season coming to Spokane.
  • Disney's Newsies is one of the highlights of the 2015-2016 Best of Broadway season coming to Spokane.

Singing newsies, mythbusters and magic highlight the lineup of Best of Broadway shows heading to Spokane for the 2015-2016 season, announced today by WestCoast Entertainment. Season tickets for the series are already on sale, with three prices depending on where you want to sit at the INB Performing Arts Center: $167.50, $284.50 or $336.50. 

This year's slate for the Best of Broadway includes: 
Riverdance, Oct. 22-25
A Christmas Story, Dec. 3-6
The Book of Mormon, Jan. 26-31, 2016
42nd Street, March 24-27, 2016
Beauty and the Beast, April 5-6, 2016
Disney's Newsies, May 2-9, 2016

In addition to these productions of first-time visitors and return engagements, the Best of Broadway series includes several one-off shows throughout the season. Ticket sales for these shows will be announced at a later date. For 2015-2016, the Best of Broadway specials include: 

All Hands on Deck, Sept. 13
I Love Lucy Live on Stage, Oct. 2
Shaping Sound, Oct. 30
Hal Holbrook in Mark Twain Tonight!, Nov. 14
Snarky Puppy, in collaboration with the EWU Jazz Dialogue, Nov. 20
Mannheim Steamroller Christmas by Chip Davis, Nov. 22
Mythbusters, Dec. 11
Shanghai Circus, Feb. 7, 2016
The Illusionists: Live from Broadway, Feb. 13-14, 2016

Also announced was the next season of National Geographic Live!, a touring series of speakers, concerts and films that hits up major cities every year with a new round of stories from adventurers of the world. In Spokane, there are generally four speakers a year, all on Tuesday evenings, and who present their stories on stage at the INB Performing Arts Center. Season tickets are on sale now right here, for $106, $122 or $146. 

The Nat Geo Live! schedule for 2015-2016 includes: 

The Search for Life Beyond Earth, Nov. 3. Kevin Hand is an astrobiologist, and speaks on his career seeking out extraterrestrial life forms. One of his main jobs at the moment is to create instruments that have the ability to travel to Jupiter's moon Europa and possibly indicate that life forms exist there.
On the Trail of Big Cats: Tigers, Cougars and Snow Leopards, Feb. 9, 2016. Photographer Steve Minter discusses and shows off his work photographing big cats all around the world.
Where the Wild Things Live, March 8, 2016. Photographer Vincent J. Music tells of his many obscure assignments and his most recent work with animal photography.
Sufferfest: 700 Miles of Pain and Glory, April 19, 2016. Cedar Wright recounts his adventures when he climbed, biked, repelled and journeyed through Arizona, Utah, New Mexico and Colorado.

If you're interested in what the National Geographic Live! series is all about, it's not too late to catch the final speaker from the 2014-2015 season. Next Tuesday, at 7 pm, explorers Cory Richards and Mike Libecki present "Untamed Antarctica." The two discuss their adventures attempting to climb seemingly inaccessible territory in Antarctica, and share photos from their journey. 
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Friday, April 3, 2015

CAT FRIDAY: Cats troll the world this April Fools', and we wish it was real

Posted By on Fri, Apr 3, 2015 at 12:14 PM

April Fools' Day is an unrelenting online troll fest these days. Since cats rule all corners of the web, it's appropriate that some of the best viral pranks this year featured cats front and center. Some of the feline-centric jokes this year were so damn good, it's depressing to cat lovers that they're not real, especially in a world where cat cafes are a thing, and anyone's cat can give Grumpy a run for her money. 

Just pushing the envelope of "it could be real" was a totally genius prank pulled by the Colorado Springs Independent alt-weekly, which actually went as far to put its joke on the cover of its April 1 issue. You can see why some readers took it seriously. The Independent used the opportunity to make light of an issue facing city developers improving a park site, which has been found to be contaminated with asbestos.

CO_CSI.jpg

Perhaps the most viral joke this week was the clever ploy pulled off by Groupon: Grouber, an Uber-like ride service that replaced humans with feline drivers and was pitched as a service for Groupon users heading out to redeem an offer. With catchy copy like this, who could resist? 

Our drivers are spayed, neutered and have no reason to curl up in your lap and make it awkward. Trust us, these cats are cool. And every Grouber experience should be a paws-itive one.

Grouber cars are purportedly directed by a red laser beam projected from the front of the car that plots the trip's route, since you know — cats + laser pointers. 

Grouber from Groupon on Vimeo.

As much as both cat lovers and the indifferent laughed and admired the legitimate attempt of these two well-pulled pranks, this next one has no reason to not be real someday. 

Screen_Shot_2015-04-03_at_10.41.16_AM.png

The supposed launch of a cat-proof sofa from Ikea is also something that should and could be real, but sadly isn't, yet. 

Microsoft got into the game, too, with Office for Cats, a suite of products called PowerPounce, OneNap and Meow. 

Cats are (for good reason) not being trained to become seeing-eye-pets to guide blind people

Music streaming service Rdio is also not partnering with famous cats to release a new cat-centric music service, Rdio-Meowz.

Screen_Shot_2015-04-03_at_10.54.18_AM.png


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Friday, March 27, 2015

Audition to be a Z Nation zombie Saturday

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

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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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