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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CAT FRIDAY: Meet the Internet's latest feline sensation, Atchoum

Posted By on Fri, Feb 27, 2015 at 12:38 PM

Though there is no equal comparison and none could take the place of beloved Internet cat leader Colonel Meow, who departed this world a little more than a year ago, the latest Internet cat king bears a striking resemblance to the stern Colonel.

Meet Atchoum, a Quebec native whose piercing orange eyes and majestic fluff are a sight to behold.

  • Instagram user Atchoumfan

Earlier this month, the French-speaking cat broke through several viral sharing sites, and has since shot to the online stardom that only cats can achieve these days. Atchoum's likeness has appropriately been said to resemble to Ewoks, David Bowie in Labyrinth, Elvis, Batman, the Lorax, a Gremlin and a devil. With a little button-black nose and such full face fur, the handsome cat often also resembles a toy dog breed, perhaps a shih-tzu.

The Montreal-based Persian's looks are surely unique, but there's a medical explanation for the floof overload. Atchoum has a rare condition called hypertrichosis, which causes excessive fur growth and also makes his fur much longer and fuller than other members of the feline species and his Persian breed. Knowing this, the translation of his name makes even more sense: Atchoum is French for the onomatopoeia sneeze sound "achoo."

In the past several weeks, the nine-month-old kitten has racked up more than 22,500 followers on his Instagram account, and is set to soon surpass 30,000 Facebook followers. Get with the program and start following him right meow, because Atchoum's star is obviously rising, and you don't want to be late to this party.

With the motto "I'm hairy, not scary!!" who couldn't adore this fancy, fluffy-faced feline?

  • Instagram user Atchoumfan

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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Having flash-Bachs: Zuill Bailey thrills unsuspecting fans in River Park Square

Posted By on Wed, Feb 25, 2015 at 4:00 PM

"He's world class," beamed onlooker Seiko Miki after Zuill Bailey's Flash-Bach performance in River Park Square. "Though I prefer the more grand scale venues, it's so great that he's bringing this talent to the public like this. It's incredible what he is doing here in little old Spokane." 

The afterglow was undeniable. Though the urban setting of a mall atrium seemed a stark contrast to elegant concert halls, Bailey seemed quite at home simply to be in the presence of listeners. From the front door to the escalators, Bailey's music stopped people in their tracks. Closed eyes and soft smiles covered the faces of listeners young and old as the atrium filled with the soothing sounds of Bailey's museum-worthy cello that seemed to be an extension of himself. As the crowd began to disperse after today's free performance, it was as if they time had stood still for those serene 30 minutes.

Bailey is the suave artistic director for the Northwest Bach festival and is back with even more concerts than last year. Take a look at Laura Johnson's article on this year's Northwest Bach Festival here

Here are a few snapshots from today's concert.
  • Courtney Brewer
Cellist Zuill Baile - y - COURTNEY BREWER
  • Courtney Brewer
  • Cellist Zuill Bailey

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Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Rosauers employee on Letterman for becoming America's best grocery bagger

Posted By on Wed, Feb 18, 2015 at 12:20 PM

You've heard of pro golf, pro basketball and football...but how about Pro Grocery Bagging?

Every year, the National Grocers Association (NGA) hosts their yearly grocery bagging face off in Las Vegas where baggers from all over the country can compete for $10,000 and the coveted "Golden Grocery Bag" trophy. This year's reigning champion just so happens to be Rosauers employee and Spokane native David Tochinskiy. In between attending classes at SFCC, David amped up his skills at Rosauers in the time since competing in Vegas last year and it clearly paid off for the young man, who works at the chain's Five-Mile store.


In addition to new title as America's Best Bagger, David can also add an appearance on the Late Show to his resumé. Watch miss his segment from last night's episode: 

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Thursday, February 12, 2015

Acclaimed expert to speak on indigenous rights in Spokane tonight

Posted By on Thu, Feb 12, 2015 at 12:03 PM

Eastern Washington University has paired with the Washington State University Thomas S. Foley Institute for Public Policy and Public Service to bring James Anaya, professor at the University of Arizona, to Spokane tonight. Bringing with him a colorful and intriguing past, Anaya will enlighten EWU Spokane with his lecture on the rights of indigenous peoples

Anaya's career has spanned many different titles, but it has always been driven by a great focus on the adversity and injustice indigenous peoples continuously face all around the globe. The largest and arguably most incredible period of his career was spent as a lawyer. After graduating from the  University of New Mexico and Harvard Law School, Anaya set up camp to practice law in New Mexico. There, he fought for the rights of Native Americans and a variety of other minorities living with injustice. 

Throughout his law career, Anaya was a part of — and often a leader of — a number of landmark cases regarding the rights of indigenous people. He was the lead counsel in a case called Awas Tingni v. Nicaragua, in which it was determined that the Nicaraguan government had infringed on the rights of the indigenous Mayagna people by taking over traditional land and resources that should have been guaranteed to them. This was an enormous leap for indigenous rights, and was actually the first time that the Inter-American court for Human Rights had ever come to a decision on land rights that favored indigenous people. He led and won a similar case for the land rights of the indigenous Mayan people in Belize. On top of those and a variety of other cases, Anaya also helped to draft the UN Declaration on Rights of Indigenous People, which has been a milestone in government recognition of these specific types of injustices.

A magazine published by the American Bar Association called Barrister recognized his talents early on, featuring him as one of "20 young lawyers who make a difference." Anaya was even appointed the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples for five years starting in 2008. He has continued to spread his skill, dedication, and influence around the world, writing a handful of books on the topic and giving lectures in his classroom at the U of A, at his alma mater Harvard, and everywhere in between. 

His lecture, titled "The Rights of Indigenous Peoples in the Contemporary World: The Powers of Ideas and the Challenges of Implementation," will recount some of Anaya's experiences in the field of law, as well as look at how the rights of indigenous people have changed and improved since a time much too recently when there were hardly any rights at all. 

The event will take place at 7 pm in Room 122 of the Phase 1 Building at EWU Spokane's campus

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