Thursday, January 1, 2015

Polar Bear Plunge in Coeur d'Alene Photos

Posted By on Thu, Jan 1, 2015 at 4:12 PM

Hundreds of people braved temperatures in the high teens to jump into 40 degree water on New Years Day at Sanders Beach in Coeur d’Alene for the annual Polar Bear Plunge.

Chad Bennett, left, announces that 12 minutes are left before the beginning of the Polar Bear Plunge. - YOUNG KWAK
  • Young Kwak
  • Chad Bennett, left, announces that 12 minutes are left before the beginning of the Polar Bear Plunge.

Dave Knight shows a "2015" drawing on his belly. - YOUNG KWAK
  • Young Kwak
  • Dave Knight shows a "2015" drawing on his belly.

Connor Szott, left, and his mother Shellie wait for the beginning of the Polar Bear Plunge. - YOUNG KWAK
  • Young Kwak
  • Connor Szott, left, and his mother Shellie wait for the beginning of the Polar Bear Plunge.

Aaron Dahlgren, right, waits for the beginning of the Polar Bear Plunge. - YOUNG KWAK
  • Young Kwak
  • Aaron Dahlgren, right, waits for the beginning of the Polar Bear Plunge.

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Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Eat your heart out with Pizza Rita's newest food challenge

Posted By on Tue, Dec 30, 2014 at 2:43 PM

Pizza Rita's 5-lb. challenge pizza. - KIANNA GARDNER
  • Kianna Gardner
  • Pizza Rita's 5-lb. challenge pizza.

Many have tried but only few have triumphed. To be exact, only 28 contestants amongst 130 brave souls have conquered the infamous Pizza Rita 5-pound pizza challenge. These true testimonies to talent gorged their way through 24 oz. of crust, 12 oz. of sauce, 9 oz. of cheese and 35 oz. of various meats and veggies to earn their rightful plaque on the wall of champions.

The rules of the challenge are simple: the pizza must be consumed within 30 minutes, only one person can tackle the monstrous pizza, substitutions can be made as long as the weight remains at five pounds and previous winners can only partake once a year following their victory.

Spokane's Torrey Lybbert holds the current winning record at 11 minutes and 48 seconds. In addition to a plaque on the wall, winners receive Rita Bucks (Pizza Rita gift certificates so they can eat even MORE pizza), a $40 donation to a charity of the winner’s choice, a stomachache and a pride boost. 

In recent years however, Pizza Rita has seen a decline in people daring to try their hand at the 5-lb. challenge. In light of so little participation, owner Brian Dickmann will be adding a new gut-busting pizza challenge to the list: Rita’s Rapid Challenge.

“It will be a test of speed,” Dickmann says. “If someone can consume a large thin-crust single-topping pizza in under five minutes we will give them 50 Rita Bucks.”

The thin-crust pizza is meant to entice participation from those who are intimidated by the original 5-pound challenge.

According to Dickmann, Pizza Rita offers these contests for three main reasons: for charity, for fun and to demonstrate the true meaning of a “large pizza.” 

“Everyone says ‘we have a large pizza’ but really, how large is large?” Dickmann says.

Pizza Rita hopes to begin offering the Rita’s Rapid Challenge this January. These challenges are not for the faint of heart, and those willing to eat his or her heart out can mentally prepare themselves for the physical turmoil by reading former Inlander staff writer and current contributor Jordy Byrd's testimony of the 5-pound challenge here.

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Monday, December 29, 2014

INK Artspace offers free music, digital arts workshops for kids at local libraries

Posted By on Mon, Dec 29, 2014 at 1:24 PM

A scene from the first Girls Rock Lab, at INK in August 2014. - KRISTEN BLACK
  • Kristen Black
  • A scene from the first Girls Rock Lab, at INK in August 2014.

At the turn of each new year, we jot down our resolutions. Some are sure to be those unaccomplished goals from the 2014 list, while other entries are more innovative and intended to challenge us to develop a new talent. 

The fledgling arts education nonprofit INK Artspace is collaborating with the Spokane Public Library to offer a few early options for ambitious local kids to get started on their 2015 resolution lists.

These two workshops are directed toward ages 8-18: Girls Rock Lab, a series to expand musical and instrumental knowledge, and Pixel Playground, offering participants the chance to experiment with digital arts. Each program runs for two hours every Tuesday through the month of January, and welcomes students with or without experience. Both programs are free, and registration is required.

Girls Rock Lab, held at the Hillyard library branch, had wild success with its first appearance in August at INK's downtown space.

"The first time we did the lab it was super fun, so we wanted to go ahead and offer more," says Mischa Jakupcak, INK Artspace board president. She adds that girls will experiment with something new each week, from singing and songwriting to percussion and drumming. 

Pixel Playground, offered for the first time at the Downtown library branch, immerses students in lessons in video game production, Photoshop and basic computer programming.

"We want all the kids to walk away with something they personally created," Jakupcak says.

While the first Girls Rock Lab had a great turnout the first go-around, INK Artspace leaders sought to expand to local libraries in order to reach a different group of kids. In the heart of downtown, INK is located away from major residential neighborhoods. 

"We were able to reach only a very select group of kids, so we figured this time we would like to reach out to the neighborhoods where the other kids are," Jakupcak says.

Spaces are filling up fast and only a few spots remain for both programs. Registration forms can be found online on INK's website.

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Tuesday, December 23, 2014

St. John's Cathedral commemorates 100th anniversary of 1914 Christmas Truce

Posted By on Tue, Dec 23, 2014 at 12:05 PM

On Christmas Eve in 1914, during World War I, a true holiday miracle took place in the trenches of Messines, Belgium, when a temporary, unofficial truce was decided in honor of Christmas Day. Gun fire and explosions ceased as British, Belgian, French and German soldiers shook hands and exchanged holiday wishes. These men caught in the midst of war came together over coffee, tea and chocolate, joining in a chorus of "Silent Night" — a harmony that would echo long into history. 

Now, a century later, carillonneurs (aka bell ringers) in 11 different countries around the world commemorate that remarkable truce on its 100th anniversary. Spokane's St. John's Cathedral is one of 78 carillons participating in the worldwide recognition of the Christmas Eve Truce, with Carillonneur Jonathan Lehrer — winner of the 2010 International Carillon competition — leading the cathedral's 49-bell carillon.

The historic, 90-year-old St. John's Cathedral begins the carillon concert on Christmas Eve, following its family Christmas Eve Eucharist at 4 pm, and again at 9:15 pm, prior to the Christmas Eve Choral Eucharist. 

The ringing of the bells are open to all, and St. John's invites the Spokane community to join together in holiday spirit similar to one the expressed by the soldiers a century ago. 


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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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