Monday, October 20, 2014

CONCERT REVIEW: Rolling the dice on the Gambler

Posted By on Mon, Oct 20, 2014 at 12:03 PM

When I was a kid, Kenny Rogers was in the midst of a monster run of hit songs that transcended labels like "country music" or "pop." He was basically an omnipresent musical force thanks to a parade of best-selling albums in the late '70s and early '80s like The Gambler and their affiliated feature films, TV specials, Kenny Rogers Halloween masks and the like. 

Nowadays, of course, he's more well-known for his Geico commercial, people trying to look like him and posting their pictures to the web, his somewhat frightening plastic-surgery results and his popular chicken joints, Kenny Rogers Roasters. Even though I've never lived anywhere where Kenny's restaurants reside, they did inspire a great Seinfeld episode: 

Rogers still tours quite a bit, and his visit to Spokane Sunday night offered me the chance to see how his oldies act measures up to some others I've seen — both good (Tony Bennett) and bad (Wayne Newton). Not only would it be my first time seeing the Gambler in person, but it was my first visit to the Northern Quest Resort & Casino since moving to Spokane last month. 

It being a Sunday, the dealers around the casino were all wearing football jerseys. It was a nice touch, although dropping a few bucks at a blackjack table was made all the worse by losing to someone dressed as Tom Brady.

Entering the Pavilion for the show, an usher told me to "head toward the Jack of Spades" to find my seat. I half-expected people dressed as playing cards a la Alice in Wonderland, but alas, it was just signage once I hit the ballroom-turned venue. 

Taking my seat next to a couple of excited Kenny fans downing hot dogs and talking excitedly about their high hopes for the new Dumb and Dumber sequel, I settled in and watched the old videos playing in lieu of an opening act. There was no sound, and most were taken from his early-'80s heyday. There was Kenny singing with Dolly Parton. With Sheena Easton, with Dottie West, with Kim Carnes. Other than Dolly, it was a cavalcade of "where are they now?"

Rogers hit the stage to a rather muted response from the full room of the mostly Social Security-eligible fans, and the video images we had just seen made the reality all the more striking. He moved gingerly toward center stage as his band lit into "Love or Something Like It" followed by "It's a Beautiful Life." He couldn't seem to move well at all, and even turning to face different parts of the audience seemed difficult. I started to sense the night might be a long one of me wondering if Rogers would tumble off the stage. 

Then a funny thing happened — Rogers turned his age and physical state totally to his advantage. He cracked jokes about the age of the audience — "You'll all be happy to know those are the two loudest songs I know," he announced after his first two tunes. He remarked that his limp was due to getting a knee replaced a few months back, "and they replaced the wrong knee!" He cracked wise about the men dragged to the show by their wives, and even gave one guy up front $10 for every song he could name, continually throwing bills at him throughout the show. 

He had two giant video screens on either side of the stage, so clearly he wasn't concerned with folks seeing the age on his face. This was my view of the proceedings: 


And Rogers' voice? It's actually in pretty good form. He was always a raspy guy, so the ravages of age haven't really changed it that much. Songs like "She Believes in Me," "Ruby," "Coward of the County," "Lucille" and "Daytime Friends" all sounded just fine, although he mashed some together in abbreviated form in an effort to fit as many hits into the show as possible. There were even some pleasant surprises. He covered John Hiatt's "Have a Little Faith in Me." The band added accordion for a song he recorded with Buckwheat Zydeco for his 2013 album, You Can't Make Old Friends. And he did "Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Is In)," his pre-solo hit with his old band First Edition. You might remember it from The Big Lebowski

All told, a good show, ending with his solo take on Dolly duet "Islands in the Stream." It wouldn't be shocking to see Rogers make his way to town again. As long as that knee holds up. 
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Thursday, October 16, 2014

Love for our ladies

Posted By on Thu, Oct 16, 2014 at 2:39 PM

Take Back Your Life Expo's logo for their upcoming event
  • Take Back Your Life Expo's logo for their upcoming event

Spokane charities in support of women host two great opportunities to help women in the Spokane area in the coming days.

In honor of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, the Take Back Your Life Expo this Sunday, Oct. 19, includes the second annual Stop Violence Against Women Day, providing a sense of solidarity for survivors of abuse. A free community resource fair throughout the day at the Lincoln Center, 1316 N. Lincoln, from 11 am to 5 pm provides women with information and resources in the area so they can continue their path to recovery. In the evening, a wine tasting event raises funds for local nonprofits through ticket sales, bringing entertainment and prizes to its guests. Advance tickets can be purchased here.

For homeless women and their children, St. Margaret's Shelter is a safe haven offering security and support. Many of the women, concerned with survival and the well-being of their kids, don't have the opportunity to buy quality undergarments, so the lingerie department at Nordstrom in downtown Spokane is hosting a donation dresser between Oct. 20-27 for anyone who would like to offer new or gently used bras for a project called "Breast Intentions." 
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Tuesday, October 14, 2014

WHAT'S UP TODAY? Red Fang, Matisyahu, and Acting!

Posted By on Tue, Oct 14, 2014 at 10:21 AM

You know all about the Inlander's vast array of event listings, no doubt. But sometimes you might not have time to check through the day's doings. We get it, you're busy! And we're here to help by pulling a few highlights out of the mix for your perusal. 

When I scanned the listings for today, these are the highlights I found for Tuesday, Oct. 14: 


MUSIC | Even if you don't consider yourself a metal fan, you just might find yourself a Red Fang fan if you give the Portland band a chance. Not only are their stoner-rock tunes full of serious hooks and monster guitar riffage; they also make some hilarious videos as well. Red Fang is headlining The Hop!, with Black Mastiff and The Static Tones opening. 

Here's a taste of Red Fang: 

MUSIC | Meanwhile, at the Knitting Factory Matisyahu will be performing his blend of reggae, hip-hop and EDM. He's been an electrifying live performer when he wore his traditional Orthodox Jewish clothes on stage. Now that he's gone secular with his look, it should make for an engaging night. Something Radical and Sisco Adler join him on the bill. 

Here's a taste of Matisyau: 

WORDS | William J. Dobson, the foreign affairs editor for Slate, drops by the University of Idaho Law School for a public chat at 7 p.m., but hit this link and make a reservation to hear his talk taken from his latest book, The Dictator's Learning Curve.

COMEDY | Ever wondered if you had the chops to be an actor, or perform sketch comedy ala Saturday Night Live? Maybe you should test your improv skills with the Adult Improv Classes at the Blue Door Theatre
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Monday, October 13, 2014

Today, America both recognizes and ignores Columbus Day

Posted By on Mon, Oct 13, 2014 at 12:50 PM

Today, Oct. 13, 2014, marks the 522nd anniversary (well, technically it was yesterday) of Christopher Columbus's landing on the shores of the Americas. Without getting too deep into the politics of the holiday, which has been federally recognized as such since 1937, we thought it appropriate to share some of today's headlines surrounding the controversial day. 

Several U.S. cities and states do not recognize Columbus Day at all: Hawaii, Alaska, Oregon and South Dakota, the last of which celebrates today as Native Americans Day.

This year, Seattle and Minneapolis joined Berkeley, Calif., in replacing Columbus Day with Indigenous People's Day. Berkeley ditched Columbus as an honorary in 1992, and was followed by several other cities.

Portland Public Schools also decided to recognize today as Indigenous People's Day. 

Local historian Larry Cebula also shares on his blog today how Columbus Day became a holiday in the first place.

Meanwhile, the Columbus Citizens Foundation hosts its 70th annual Columbus Day parade with an expected 35,000 participants marching down NYC's Fifth Avenue today.

Columbus Day may be a federally recognized holiday, but who actually gets the day off? 

As the controversy and divide over the holiday's recognition grows, school districts are looking critically at how Columbus's role in American history is being taught, along with the wide achievement gap between Native American students and their peers.

Now for some lighthearted criticism regarding today...

Famous Internet celebri-cat Lil BUB's take on Columbus Day... or rather, ColumBUBs Day.

Seattle-based (and North Idaho native) comic artist The Oatmeal's perspective

No Columbus Day would be complete without some insight from Stephen Colbert! Or some fabulous Columbus Day puns from one, to remain nameless, Inlander staffer:

"Every day is Columbus Day for Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets director Chris Columbus!"

"Every day is Columbus Day in hit American city Columbus, Ohio!"

"Every day is Columbus Day for choreographer, domestic violence suspect and former Scandal actor Columbus Short!"

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Sunday, October 12, 2014

Washington children sought as "keepers" of state's Centennial Time Capsule

Posted By on Sun, Oct 12, 2014 at 9:28 AM

In celebration of the 125th anniversary of Washington's founding as a state, applications for the next generation of "keepers" of the state's Centennial Time Capsule are rolling in and continue to be accepted through Tuesday, Oct. 21.

The Washington Office of the Secretary of State is looking for children born between Nov. 4-18, 2004, and who will turn 10 years old around the time of the Capsule Keepers swearing-in ceremony on Nov. 11 in Olympia.

Swearing-in ceremony for the first group of Centennial Time Capsule Keepers in 1989.
  • Swearing-in ceremony for the first group of Centennial Time Capsule Keepers in 1989.

Inside a 3,000-lb. vault at the State Capitol, the Centennial Time Capsule contains collections of messages to the future, along with Washingtonians' personal memories, important state-related books and other memorabilia. Washington residents are encouraged to send in their own notes and book nominations for the capsule to be added during a ceremony in February.

Twenty-five years from now, in 2039, the next group of keepers will add more contents to the capsule. A new group of keepers will also be elected to follow this upcoming generation and those who started the project in 1989 in honor of Washington's 100th anniversary.

It'll be another 375 years — on Washington state's 500th anniversary in 2389 — until all 16 of the individual, 25-year time capsules will be reopened, which means the responsibility of the capsule's upkeep lies in the hands of 15 future keeper generations.

If you have something important to say to Washington residents of 2389, send your messages to [email protected] Book nominations can be sent in here, and don't forget to have your almost-10-year-olds who love history (or the future) apply to be a keeper. 

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How falling in love turned local author Shann Ray into a reader

Posted By on Sun, Oct 12, 2014 at 8:43 AM


This week, I wrote a Last Word about the struggle of reading as an adult in this age defined by fast-paced, shiny distractions. I asked a few area writers, and they gave a whole list of challenges, tricks and personal experiences with reading.

That included local Shann Ray, who not only manages to be an award-winning short-story writer, a professor at Gonzaga and a counselor, but occasionally play basketball, and, you know, be married.

So how does he balance all that and still find time to read?

“I didn’t like reading in high school,” Ray says “I think I was resistant to reading because of my own problems. Authority problems.”

But that all changed in college, he says, with a young woman named Jennifer.

“I met my future wife and I read a book called A Severe Mercy. The story of people who have a really in-depth personal relationship."

Oddly, it's a book that ends with his wife dying of cancer when he’s having affairs. But they loved the whole relationship being described before the collapse happened, and decided to model their own after it.

“In their relationship, they went back and read every major, major book that had influenced the other person’s thought, to get to know each other,” Ray says. “So we decided, we’ll just pick 10.”

He could only come up with seven.

“They were like, boy’s dog books,” Ray says. “Literally, Jen had already read the seven.”

But he says his wife’s picks were fantastic: Voltaire’s Candide. Tale of Two Cities. Les Miserables. The whole Lord of the Rings series. C.S. Lewis’s The Four Loves.

“I read those under the context of love. I never looked back,” Ray says. “‘I immediately thought, I have been a poor citizen.”

When the two got married they decided not to initially have TV in their house, in order to encourage reading and conversation as a replacement. And unlike many of us these days, the computer and cell-phone doesn’t dominate either.

“My foundation and my wife’s foundation has been to read together, not to access technology together,” Ray say. “Technology is like a small, slender thread in this massive tapestry of books.”

So while the modern couple can easily spend a night staring at separate laptops and cell-phone screens, they curl up with books. They memorize vast passages of poetry and sacred texts together, just like when they were dating decades ago.

It’s like a sacrament in their relationship. A couple that reads together succeeds together. 

“When you’re reading real things, try your hardest to give it a sentimental read – that is, see the best in whatever that artist is trying to do,” Ray says, drawing on an idea from Jonathan Johnson, an Eastern Washington University poet. “A book, more than a movie, more than online set of moments – reading a book, I feel, is life-transformative. If a person has an openness to what’s coming down.”

The last three books that "blew his mind:"

 Deepstep Come Shining, by C.D. Wright
“She’s so unique. She’s a southern white woman who has accessed the atonement of the whole slavery element in America, by writing in the voices of the South. I think she means by ‘deepstep come shining’ is, ‘Death, bring it on.’ I’m ready for Death. The character she has in there is based on an historical black character who was a profound leader in the South, but subtle, not like an MLK, an average person, but an amazing person. But full of love, full of just readiness to change this culture, you know? I think it’s like, death bring it on. Deepstep come shining. I wrote her a note telling her how much she loved it. And she wrote back. That’s amazing.”

The Picture of Dorian Grey, by Oscar Wilde.
“Unbelievably revolutionary. Just breaking codes all over the place. He was a top-level critic and also a top-level artist, and I think that’s an amazing combination. He guesses at what kind of critique he’s going to receive and implodes all the critique in the art. It’s pretty awesome.”

The Power and the Glory, by Graham Greene.
“Another incredible work of inner turmoil in world-level atrocities.”

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Saturday, October 11, 2014

Announcing the Inlander 2014 Short Fiction Contest — now with cash prizes

Posted By on Sat, Oct 11, 2014 at 2:31 PM

Tis the season — for the Inlander 2014 Short Fiction Contest. - JACOB JONES
  • Jacob Jones
  • Tis the season — for the Inlander 2014 Short Fiction Contest.

Since this year's Fiction Issue will hit newsstands on Christmas Day, we wanted a festive prompt. We're preparing for a slew of stories about drunken celebrations and unsettling specters with this year's short fiction theme of "Spirits," but we're also excited to see where writers take the concept.

More importantly, we're excited to hand out some money.

For the first time ever, the Inlander 2014 Short Fiction Contest will award its winners $500 in cash prizes. We sort through a lot of talent each year and we want to recognize those efforts.

To be honest, we're hoping the chance at some cash will also make this year's contest a little more competitive. So if you want to blow us away, here are the ground rules:

• All stories must be original, unpublished stories under 2,000 words in length. Writers can submit multiple entries.

• Stories must play off the theme "Spirits" however the author wants to interpret it. Feel free to be abstract or clever, but the theme should be recognizable.

• All stories must reference at least one Inland Northwest landmark. We won't be picky, but we appreciate stories anchored to our region.

• Remember to put "Fiction Contest Entry" in the subject line of submissions.

• Send all submissions (or questions) to: [email protected]

• DEADLINE: All submissions must be received by 11:59 pm on Nov. 21. Not that anyone would wait until the last minute.

You can read all of last year’s winning stories online. This year’s stories will run in our Dec. 25 issue with runners-up online.

That's it. Now all you have to do is write a hilarious, heart-wrenching story that's better than all the dozens of others. Nothing to it. And remember, you could get paid for it.

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Friday, October 10, 2014

CAT FRIDAY: Announcing the second annual Halloween Cats Photo Contest

Posted By on Fri, Oct 10, 2014 at 2:36 PM

Peaches the cow-cat was an inaugural Halloween Cats Photo Contest submission.
  • Peaches the cow-cat was an inaugural Halloween Cats Photo Contest submission.

Three weeks from today, both humans and their pets will don silly get-ups and take on imaginary personas for the night of Oct. 31. What will your cat be for Halloween this year? 

It's a serious question. A National Retail Federation consumer survey shows that close to 20 percent of adults plan to dress up their pet in a costume this year, and Americans are expected to spend $350 million on pet costumes, with total spending on the October holiday reaching $7.4 billion.

Making the list of top pet costumes for Halloween 2014 are pumpkins, hot dogs, devils, bumblebees, cats (so... meta?), Batman characters, Superman, witches, ghosts, pirates and Star Wars characters.

That brings us to the topic of this week's Cat Friday — the official announcement of the second annual Cat Friday Halloween Cats Photo Contest! Last year, we guessed there'd only be a handful of submissions, but we were shocked at how many photos of adorably-costumed felines came to us from around the country.


Again, the only rule is that your cat is visibly photographed wearing a costume or festive ensemble of some sort, whether that's a little hat, adornment or fun collar, although full-blown costumes are always favorites. Of course, we do not advise or suggest anyone force their cat to wear an outfit if it doesn't suit their temperament or causes an anxious breakdown. Some cats are most comfortable in just their own fur, and that's okay.

Email your photos to [email protected] no later than 11:59 pm on Wednesday, Oct. 29. Please include your cat's name and where he/she is from! Then check back on Halloween for a special Cat Friday Meow-loween edition to see if your cat is featured in the 2014 Cat Friday Halloween Cats Photo Contest. We can't wait to see what's in store for year two. Need some inspiration? Check out last year's submissions, as well as Inlander staff pets dressed up in their costumes last year.

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Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Jundt Art Museum's latest exhibit features Southern folk artists

Posted By on Wed, Oct 8, 2014 at 11:02 AM

"Big Storm A-Comin' (Noah's Ark)", by Alpha Andrews, is featured in "Amen, Amen."
  • "Big Storm A-Comin' (Noah's Ark)", by Alpha Andrews, is featured in "Amen, Amen."

Dialogues on sin and redemption, the intersection of politics and religion, and the experiences of religion in the everyday life in the American South are depicted in Amen, Amen: Religion & Southern Self-Taught Artists, currently featured at Gonzaga University's Jundt Art Museum.

Upon entering the gallery, guests are confronted with contrasting displays on both sides: devils on the left and angels on the right, establishing the battle that takes place throughout the exhibit.

R.A. Miller, an illiterate folk artist, uses plywood, old window shutters and meat packing trays as materials for these representations of good and evil. In fact, much of the art in the exhibit is made up of simple, found objects, from tin and cardboard to framed posters that have been painted over. The exhibit's featured artists were mostly uneducated, and some created their pieces in prison, or for rustic art booths at gas stations. Those on the fringes of humanity often have a unique ability to comment on the human experience and thus spur controversy and debate amongst the broader public.

The 117 pieces on display in Amen, Amen are borrowed from a larger private Carl and Marian Mullis art collection in Atlanta. Since the pieces have been twice removed from their context, once from the settings in which they were created and the again from the American South to the Inland Northwest, extended biographies are provided for each piece, familiarizing us with their backgrounds. 

Gonzaga has chosen to focus on the exhibit's theme of religion and spirituality because of the university's Jesuit affiliations, but other specific subtopics within the collection include creationism, narratives from the Old and New Testaments, examples of faith in daily Southern life, politics and religion, the crucifixion, and of course, expectations of the apocalypse. River baptisms, country churches and haunted houses are among some of the everyday scenes of the American South depicted in the exhibit. Commentaries range from 9/11, the presidential election of 1992, the Contract with America, and capitalism. New Jerusalem is imagined as high rise apartments in a post-apocalyptic depiction.


Each artist in Amen, Amen is distinct in their art styles through repetition. Such trademark images are what make folk artists so identifiable. It's why Howard Finster, featured in the exhibit and who became somewhat of a folk art celebrity in the 1980s, caught the attention of bands like REM and Talking Heads and was asked to create their album art (right). It's why Minnie Adkins was requested to create a nativity scene specifically for this exhibit, making her piece the most contemporary one in the show. Even though the aesthetics may be simple, the symbols and meanings have the potential to be incredibly complex. 

Amen, Amen runs through Jan. 10, 2015 at the Jundt Art Museum, at 200 E. Desmet, on the Gonzaga campus. Gallery hours are Mon-Sat, from 10 am-4 pm.

Attend a public walk-through of the exhibit with Jundt director and curator Paul Manoguerra on Fri, Oct. 10, at 10:30 am.

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WHAT'S UP TODAY? Two local film premieres and contra dancin'!

Posted By on Wed, Oct 8, 2014 at 9:05 AM

Wednesdays are dull. We're all tired from the first two long days of the work week, and Friday's not quite here yet. If you have an itch to get out of the house and stimulate your senses, check out these events, all happening tonight: 

FILM | Check out the premiere of a locally made documentary, Wisdom Earned: A Mountain Climber's Perspective, following local climber Chris Kopczynski's pursuit to summit some of the world's tallest and most challenging peaks. Proceeds from ticket sales ($17) benefit the Dishman Hills Conservancy. The film starts at 7:30 pm at the Bing. 

FILM & MUSIC | Over the past year, the local arts/culture/music blog Collect has collaborated with The Spokane Film Project to create live performance videos of area musicians. The premier features four videos screened for the first time, along with some past material from Collect's and the Bartlett's Secret Show series. See all seven videos at a special premiere event at the Bartlett, starting at 8 pm. It's free and all-ages.

DANCING | This one's a wild card, but it's an event that happens every Wednesday and we think it's ideal for those out there who want to try something new, and meet new people. The Spokane Folklore Society hosts a weekly contra dance series at the historic Spokane Woman's Club, at 1428 W. Ninth. This week's live musician is Pete Sutherland, who, according to the group's website, is a big deal in the New England contra-music scene. The event runs from 7:30-9:30 pm, with a beginners' review of how to dance at 7:15 pm. Admission for non-members of the Folklore Society is $7. 

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