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 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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 lateMost 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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