Wednesday, April 27, 2011

THIS JUST OUT: Music Eulogy and Gaming Resurrection edition

Posted By on Wed, Apr 27, 2011 at 3:03 PM


Tons of releases this week in music, including new Times New Viking, Explosions in the Sky, Of Montreal, Prefuse 73 and the immortal Bootsy frickin Collins.

The one getting the most press, though, is Poly Styrene's Generation Indigo. The album got a good deal of early release buzz because it was to be her comeback. The punk icon died before the album came out though, though, and so today has morphed from release date to a time of public memorial.

Pop critic/legend Robert Christgau made Poly his cause célèbre today in a column on, discussing how, even in the midst of a counter-culture, she broke from the norm:

Female in a male world, heavy in a skinny world, African in a white world, flaunting braces that looked like they could dent a lorry, she stood out as well for her fashion sense, which favored Day-Glo colors rather than basic black.

She died of complications from breast cancer, at the age of 53.---


Mostly motion games and unremarkable downloadable content this week, kiddos. Wait, no. Make that 100-per-frickin-cent DLC and motion games. Gah. Suckfest.

Use this time of sorrow to go out and buy Portal 2 — which released last week on all platforms (including PC, excluding WII) to the kind of rave reviews usually withheld for the games of Hideo Kojima and the miracles of Jesus Christ (see video).

Also released last week, and not to be missed if you're 1) a nostalgic, 2) a big Japanese RPG fan and 3) you own a PSP (a much more limiting factor than either of the first two), you can go buy the reworked and expanded Final Fantasy IV: Complete Collection, a game that, in 1991, defined almost every now-classic JRPG trope, from epic story arcs to real time battle schemes.


The following is not hyperbole: this may well be the bleakest week for new DVD releases in the history of DVD releases. Listen to this: ZERO major studio releases, ZERO important indie releases, basically no important television releases. Super rad concert DVDs? Try back next week, pal.

The highlights, in reverse order of coolness*:

Steve Austin, former WWE badass, really stretches his range, becoming a boxer. Straight to DVD

Blood Out
Val Kilmer 50 Cent Val Kilmer. Straight to DVD

South Park, Season 14
The one where Kenny dies every episode ... oh wait ...

Growing Pains, Season Two
The one before Kirk Cameron became a banana-wielding Jesus freak.

*"coolness" here being highly, highly relative

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Sheriff: Review panels find fatal shooting of pastor to be justified

Posted on Wed, Apr 27, 2011 at 1:37 PM

The fatal shooting of an elderly pastor by a Spokane County Sheriff's deputy last summer has been determined to be reasonable and justified, according to two internal Sheriff's Office review panels.

In a news release Wednesday, the Sheriff's office says that a Deadly Force Review Board and a Citizen's Advisory Board each has concluded in recent months that Deputy Brian Hirzel was justified in his use of force in a late-night encounter Aug. 25 that resulted in the shooting death of Wayne Scott Creach.

The 74-year-old Creach, a Baptist pastor and owner of the plant nursery where Hirzel had parked his unmarked patrol car, had gone outside in his slippers to check on what he considered to be a suspicious vehicle in the lot outside his bedroom. Creach carried a flashlight and a handgun.

Prosecutor Steve Tucker announced on Jan. 21, that a review by his office found there was no malice and no criminal intent in the shooting.

The internal review is ongoing, Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich indicates in the press release, with a final determination due by the end of May. But two of the elements of his internal review were made public today. The Deadly Force Review Board, made up of sheriff's office use-of-force experts, unanimously found Hirzel's actions were reasonable, based on the policies of the sheriff's office.

The 12-member Citizen's Advisory Board reviewed the incident and the investigation, the news release says. The advisory board met with investigators from the Spokane Police Department (which handled the matter) and with use-of-force experts on March 14. In an April 11 letter to Knezovich, board members "unanimously found the investigation was handled in an appropriate, professional and thorough manner."

The letter also says, "We felt that though this was a tragic incident, Sheriff's Deputy Brian Hirzel acted in a reasonable manner based on our review of the case files."

The news release states that a final internal review of the matter is underway, based on concerns raised by the Creach family. Hirzel remains on desk duty. The Creaches are pursuing legislative action to fix issues they say contributed to their father's death — can police use unmarked cars on patrol, can police park on private property?

Knezovich has said unmarked patrol cruisers are legal, they are not the same as undercover cars. And business parking lots open to the street are also legal spaces for police to park.

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Happy Hour Holiday

Posted on Wed, Apr 27, 2011 at 1:36 PM

Each Wednesday on Bloglander, we give you a taste of happy hours going on at bars around town that night. (Read previous posts.)


The Baby Bar, in downtown Spokane, serves up happy hour all day. Specials include: $1 Pabst Blue Ribbon and $1 grilled-cheese sandwiches.

MickDuff's Brewing Company, in Sandpoint, serves up happy hour all day. Specials include: $1 off select beers and $4 appetizers. 

Wild Bill's Longbar, in Cheney, serves up happy hour from 3-6 pm. Specials include: $1.50 cans of beer and $2.50 drafts, $7.75 pitchers and $3 wells drinks until 8 pm.

The Globe, in downtown Spokane, serves up happy hour from 4-7 pm. Specials include: $3 wells drinks, $3 Bud Light, Coors Light and Kokanee.

The Basement Bar, in Cheney, serves up happy hour all day.  Specials include: $3 25-ounce domestic Man Mugs and $4 25-ounce micro Man Mugs. 

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"The Killing" ain't that different, after all

Posted By on Wed, Apr 27, 2011 at 12:24 PM

“Not drawing conclusions, but it's a little unpleasant to realize one of our most popular TV genres is "hot chick getting murdered,” writes Zack Handlen, critic for the AV Club.

It’s true: For years, TV procedurals have revolved around murder. Murder – as horrifying of an act as it is in real life – makes for pulpy fun in fiction. It’s the stuff of farce, of dark comedy and quirky investigation.

But then came Law and Order: Special Victims Unit. Murder wasn’t good enough – it had to be really twisted stuff, it had to be rape and torture and perversion. Many of CSI plots involved extremely strange and gross mutilations. Horror movies abandoned the jump-out-and-scream chase scenes for lengthy scenes of the camera languishing on slow, stomach-churning torture.

Take a look at this synopsis for a Criminal Minds episode, which begins with an elderly man being beaten, tortured, and wheeled to an incinerator to be cremated. Then it starts to gets really torture-y with broken glass and dismemberment and circular saws. Even shows that should be popcorn fun – like Breakout Kings – insist on this sort of grisliness.

The Killing, an AMC series that follows the 13 days after a young girl’s murder in Seattle, would be different, I hoped.

For now, most of the critical discussion about The Killing has been centered on precisely that: how The Killing contrasted with most of the murder-fare on television. No cheesy morbid one-liners from the detectives. One case stretched over 13 episodes. When the pilot first aired I raved that The Killing’s “mad genius is treating an absolutely horrifying act with its actual real-life gravity.” Last week, Inlander critic Luke Baumgarten saw another difference when he wrote that the lead detective was “the most boring lead TV character” he could think of.

But the more I watched, the more surprised I was by how similar it was to the torture-kill-squirm-investigate formula of CSI, Criminal Minds and Law and Order: SVU.

It’s a gruesome killing: They find Rosie’s bloody shirt in the field. They find her body drowned inside a Senator’s campaign car, her fingernails damaged from trying to claw her way out of the trunk.

But quickly, the show cranks up the horror to make it even more absurd. Turns, out – of course – the school has a secret sex dungeon (essentially) in the basement of the school, where a pervert janitor watches. A video turns up that appears to show Rosie getting raped by two masked teenage boys in that basement.

It’s more of the same type of nightmare-for-parents that procedural TV traffics in, exaggerated with little bearing on reality.

Similarly, the major suspects are nearly all archetypes, all unsurprising and unexplored. The charismatic teacher who may have had affairs with students. The spoiled rich kid suspect sneers, and acts spoiled, creepy and privileged. The brooding skater kid – whom The Killing's website identifies as “Skater Kid” – looks exactly like a 1995 scare-ad of a skater would look like. He mostly just glowers.

A typical procedural episode will introduce some obvious suspects, discover evidence that clears them one by one, and then finally stumbles upon proof of the real killer: The most recognizable guest star.

So far, The Killing has done exactly that, but across 13 hours instead of one. Simply slowing down the formula doesn’t make it any less of a formula.

The Killing still does do a heart-breaking job – often to the point of being over the top  – of showing what it looks like for a family to grieve when they’ve lost their child. No moment has been as profound as Breaking Bad’s Jesse Pinkman’s calling his dead girlfriend’s voicemail answering message on repeat, but they have been close. But The Killing’s notes of the family’s grief – with the father collapsing in emotional pain in a gas-station bathroom or the mother simulating drowning herself in the bathtub – mostly feel real. This sort of grief could have followed an accident or a sudden illness.

Which makes the contrast with the pulpy nature of the investigation all the more jarring. The Killing had a chance to be new, to be refreshing, to be a unique take on an old subject. Instead, it’s falling into the same ruts as the rest of television.

If anything a procedural like NCIS and Criminal Minds has more variations in tone. Here, like the Seattle rain, the grim tone never lets up. The cinematography is always lit in shadows, as if Seattle politicians can’t afford lamps.

We’ll see how the rest of the season plays out. And the next season. As long as The Killing veers away from the mystery – and concentrates on the real-life impact of such a killing, the story could become unique. Right now, they're playing the same horrifying notes we've heard before. 

A story about a heinous crime can make for good television – but it isn’t the heinousness of the crime that makes it great, it’s the subsequent consequences that follow.

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MORNING HEADLINES: Obama releases birth certificate; Steele trial to begin

Posted on Wed, Apr 27, 2011 at 7:34 AM

Obama releases birth certificate — Critics have already started qualifying the release. Donald Trump, who has helped fuel the "birther" movement, said he was honored to have played "such a big role in hopefully, hopefully, getting rid of this issue." (NYT)

NIC considers free speech zone — A visit from Westboro Baptist Church members last fall got North Idaho College thinking about creating an area on campus where controversial events would be allowed but contained. (CdA Press)

County considers bike helmet law — The ordinance, which will receive  public hearing, would also require skateboarders and rollerskaters out in the boonies to wear helmets. (SR)

Washington AG goes after Blast — Attorney General Rob McKenna continues his campaign against alcoholic energy drinks, this time going after Colt 45's Blast. (KXLY)

Jury to hear testimony in Steele trial today — A Boise jury will begin hearing the case of 65-year-old Sandpoint-area attorney Edgar Steele, who is accused of hiring a hitman to kill his (Steele's) wife. (CdA Press)

Voters reject East Valley school bond — We totally called this one. (KREM)

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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

WANDERLUST: Parks and the Power of Observation

Posted By on Tue, Apr 26, 2011 at 10:41 AM

Generally my wanderings actively involve people; talking, listening, asking questions, and hearing stories.

There's another kind of wandering, however, that requires very few words or direct interaction, but is equally engaging and, at times, provides a much-needed change of pace. It's the kind that allows us to step back from the world and to view it from a distance. It highlights the importance of making time to observe.   

Parks are an amazing place to practice this skill, and lucky for us, Spokane is chock-full of them. They are for people and pets, playing, pondering, family and fun. They are a place where community gathers, and when watched carefully, they tell us a little something -- about who we are as a city and what it is that we seem to value.


 Who says family fitness isn't fun?  A father and son run their dog through Manito Park.


The sun casts shadows through the pines, providing a quiet retreat from the bustle of the city.


Although spring temperatures remain chilly, one family still bundles up for a picnic in the park.  



Signs of winter's passing emerge. 


Dogs, like Dewey, relish their daily walk at parks throughout the city. 


On one of many grassy lawns at Manito Park, kids play soccer - and parents practice too. 


Those seeking solitude are sure to find a peaceful place to rest within one of the city's many parks.


ABOUT WANDERLUST: The photo series is a 60-day visual story-telling project that explores the seemingly ordinary places, people and things we experience everyday. It's about being curious and asking questions. It's about wanting to know more about the world around you and seeing it from fresh perspectives. If you have ideas on where I should wander, drop me a line: [email protected]

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MORNING HEADLINES: Harpham pleads not guilty, plus more bad news for the assessor's office

Posted on Tue, Apr 26, 2011 at 8:16 AM

Harpham continues 'not guilty' plea — Kevin Harpham, the alleged mastermind of the failed MLK Day bombing in Spokane, had already pleaded not guilty to charges of possessing an unregistered explosive and attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction. He pleaded the same to new hate crime charges. (AP)

Four more red-light cameras — The Spokane City Council's approval of four new red light cameras last night brings the total number of monitored intersections to 11. The city says it has already caught 20,000 drivers running red lights. (NWCN)

More bad news for Spokane County Assessor's office — A state report says the office undervalued properties for years. (SR)

Friends remember North Idaho miner — Larry Marek was killed in a mine collapse on April 15. (KXLY)

Hold your fire — The scent industry is starting to get the hint that not all shoppers like getting spritzed with perfume as they walk through a department store. (Seattle Times)

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Monday, April 25, 2011

MORNING HEADLINES: Lucky Friday miner, South Hill shooting justified

Posted on Mon, Apr 25, 2011 at 7:50 AM

South Hill shooting ruled justified — Spokane Police Officer Trevor Nollmyeer's fatal shooting of Todd Ely White last year on 36th Avenue was ruled justified because White had aimed his gun at the officer first. (NWCN)

Luna takes a victory lap — After pushing through three controversial schools bills in Boise, Idaho public schools czar Tom Luna is touring the state this week, stopping in Boise, Idaho Falls, Pocatello, Twin Falls and Coeur d'Alene. (Boise Weekly)

Lucky Friday miner is dead — The body of Larry Marek was recovered from the Lucky Friday mine near Mullan, Idaho, on Sunday afternoon. Marek died in a mine collapse on April 15. (SR)

Studs off — Yes, it snowed last week and, yes, this is going down as one of the coolest Aprils on record, but studded tires must be removed today, by state law. (KREM)

Extra Session 101 — Legislators in Olympia are heading into an extra session on Tuesday, and the Spokesman offers a primer. (SR)

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Friday, April 22, 2011

THIS WEEKEND IN MUSIC: Leon Redbone, G. Love, the Globes and more

Posted By on Fri, Apr 22, 2011 at 2:42 PM


Local technical metal band Odyssey, who have wowed us with their over-the-top skills, play tonight at Aclub with Mecha Shiva, Dracula and Boldly Stride the Damned. 9 pm. $5. Gotta be 21.

Leon Redbone is a master of elusion — or so we found when The Inlander interviewed him this week. The guitarist, who specializes in ragtime and blues numbers, was once believed to be Andy Kaufman. And later to be Frank Zappa. But no one seems to have the straight story on him. Try and catch him tonight at the Bing after his performance. 8 pm. $25. All-ages. 


Well, I sure as hell hope you're happy that G. Love is coming here, because it seems that Seattle has a big fat problem with it. Join your fellow non-meth-eating fans tonight as the masher of hip-hop, R&B and funk plays tonight at the Knitting Factory. Belle Brigade opens. Spokanistan shirts welcome. 8 pm. $20. All-ages.


We've got a copy of the Globes' Barsuk Records debut in our hot little hands, and you might be able to get one in yours, too, if you hit up the band's sure-to-be-jam-packed show tomorrow night at Jones Radiator. No guarantees, but they've gotta have some, right? Seriously, though, get there early. They play with locals Ampersand and Space Movies at 9 pm. Free. Gotta be 21.

And for something complete completely different and equally entertaining, hit the Knitting Factory for No Quarter's show. They're the ultimate Led Zeppelin cover band (including wigs, tight pants, etc.). They play at 8:30 pm. $10-$12. All-ages. 

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MORNING HEADLINES: Drones over Libya, torture in Spokane and BONUS LINK! torture your eyes at naked gym. It's Friday!

Posted on Fri, Apr 22, 2011 at 7:11 AM

Libya chaos touches Palouse — Libyan students at WSU in tight spot as funding in doubt, worries about family back home. (SR)

Drones are NOT mission creep — U.S. Secretary of Defense Gates says armed drones are already patrolling Libya. Sen. McCain visits rebels in Benghazi. (NPR)

Man tortured before execution — Documents indicate a Cheney man found dead in the trunk of a burning car was likely tortured with a machete. (KXLY)

Drug charges dropped — WSU's DeAngelo Casto cleared of marijuana possession when judge supresses evidence; police coerced the former Cougar basketball player, had no warrant. (SR)

Getting buff, really buff — The Friday Special Bonus Link lets you —  yes, you! — watch that flab melt away via naked workouts. Um ... yeez, I think we're outta here. (BBC)

Military breakthrough: Women are not men — Military is redesigning uniforms and body armor to better fit female soldiers. (AP)

Hackers, hell! Defend Web against grannies — An old woman with a spade took entire countries offline, how can the Internet protect its wires? (BBC)

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