ZagNation is going national tonight. The now 20th-ranked Bulldogs take the court in Morgantown to take on the Mountaineers of West Virginia University. And they're doing it on national television during primetime — 6 pm PST on ESPN2.
To Gonzaga fans, West Virginia is best known as the squad that the Zags have beaten into the ground the past two seasons. First came a 24-point shellacking in the first round of the 2012 NCAA Tournament and then Bob "Mafia Tracksuit" Huggins brought his Mountaineers to Spokane just eight months later only to get even more shellacked, that time by 34 points.
This year's Mountaineers have been playing some tough ball. They've lost three games, but all three were to quality opponents, including a seven-point defeat to #10 Wisconsin. Where it's going to get interesting tonight is the long distance shooting. The Zags, as I mentioned on Saturday, are the nation's top overall shooting team, overall from the field and from three-point land. WVU isn't too shabby, either. They stroke it at a 44 percent clip, good for sixth in the nation.
Expect things to get fast. Both these teams can get up an down the floor and, as I've said, aren't afraid to let it rip.
Keep an eye on WVU's Eron Harris. The sophomore guard is averaging almost 19 points a game.
Gonzaga guard Gary Bell got dinged up in Saturday night's game against New Mexico State and sat the entire second half. Apparently, it was a hip injury, but expect him to be back in the starting lineup tonight. Hopefully we'll also get another look at freshman Ryan Edwards. The 7-plus-footer from Montana got a couple minutes in the blowout over Coppin State, but didn't make an appearance Saturday night. But all reports have him recovered from a tonsillectomy.
It's December 10, but somehow this is Gonzaga's first actual road game of the season. They traveled to Maui in November, but those were technically "neutral site" games. This has to be a refreshing change for a Gonzaga team known to criss-cross the nation in the early months of the season, hoping to boost its tournament resume before dominating WCC play.
Is it just me, or is there anyone else out there who still thinks of Kevin Pittsnogle when someone mentions West Virginia basketball? Anybody remember this ugly, yet deadly son of a gun? The guy could totally stroke it, as he did in the 2006 NCAA tournament, taking the Mountaineers all the way to the Sweet Sixteen. His prowess in that tournament prompted my friends and I to develop a drinking name called Pittsnogle. As I recall, it was a combination of beer pong and bowling and featured more than a page of rules.
What ever happened to ol' Pittsnogle, you ask? He never made an NBA squad but dabbled in the D-League for a few seasons. These days, he'll happily sell you a Jeep in Martinsville, W.V.
People have been talking about a pedestrian bridge in the University District for a decade, and it’s now closer than ever to actually happening. Not terribly close — construction wouldn’t begin until 2016 or 2017, most likely. But the design phase, approved by the Spokane City Council last summer, should be finishing up in 2014.
You can find out more and offer feedback today at an open house from 4:30 to 6:30 pm at the WSU Spokane South Campus Facility, room 100N (the building where the Bookie is located at 412 E. Spokane Falls Blvd.). Right now, the growing Riverpoint campus is cut off from the East Sprague area by some wide roads and the major barrier of the railroad tracks. The pedestrian bridge would connect those areas and, in theory, create a reason to revitalize the East Sprague neighborhood with housing and businesses that would attract students. The bridge itself is meant to be something of a landmark, with a soaring arch that was favored during public surveys in 2011.
The money for the design phase comes from a $3.1 grant from the state. Funding for construction isn't secured yet, and the total project is projected to cost about $14-16 million.
Here are some images posted on the bridge site:
Local filmmaker and musician Ryan Tucker was driving along Boone in August 2011 when he spotted a woman playing a dilapidated piano on a run-down porch. In his description: “I asked if it was okay to record her and she didn’t even acknowledge me.”
The video made it to the front page of Reddit this week, spurring speculation about who she is and what kind of musical training she may or may not have. Plenty of commenters have cynically assumed drug use, but so far no one seems to have any real information.
Does anyone know more about the actual story? People on Reddit identified the house, 1517 W. Boone, and property photos from the Spokane County Assessor do show a piano on the porch.
It may not be the one ring to rule them all but still a former NFL champion, who lost a beloved football ring in a Spokane house burglary last summer, was happy to see it returned. (S-R)
Along with the far too low temps, light snow may be coming our way this evening. However, this wouldn’t be the first time a weather forecast was incorrect. (KHQ) At least it’s not as cold as this though. (SP-I)
Leave it to the Bozeman police to find a man passed out in his food who allegedly thought he was in Spokane. (BDC)
Thousands attended Nelson Mandela’s national memorial service Monday in South Africa, where President Obama spoke. (BBC)
Because it’s still big news when a woman does something, it was announced this morning that Mary T. Barra would become the first woman to lead a major auto company, General Motors. (NYT)
PUMP UP THE ...
What, what? It’s already time to start thinking about the Inlander’s music festival, Volume. Pre-order your tickets now for the May 30-31 event now and get them for a reduced rate. Rock on. (Inlander)
Each week we print For Your Consideration, a feature where we take turns telling you about worthwhile stuff we’ve been reading, watching, listening to, etc. Now we’re starting a new web-only feature that’s kind of the inverse: Each week we have a single topic with recommendations from several Inlander staffers. Feel free to add your own in the comments.
The first week: what we've been reading.
In what’s old news to those who follow the local writing scene, Spokane’s own Shawn Vestal and Jess Walter each released short story collections this year. I spent my recent vacation with the pair: Vestal’s Godforsaken Idaho (set mostly under the hot sun of the southern half of the gem state) and Walter’s We Live in Water (with stories in West Central and at the corner of Third and Division). Both shine with uniquely Northwestern scenes and tales of imperfection. Full of damned and broken characters, the stories are mostly those of disappointment and struggle, but many also manage some spark of light or humor. Perfect for the holiday season.
— HEIDI GROOVER
First, an admission. I’m not a comic book/graphic novel person. I can appreciate the skill that goes into the medium; I just didn’t grow up on comics. But that’s the thing about the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund’s 2013 Liberty Annual: just about anyone can get into it. With stories of issues ranging from censorship to copyright, the book and its stunning artwork create a snapshot of the state of free expression in our world today. (Hint: it’s not as free as you might think.) And, in a particular call on Spokane to be more outraged, the death of Otto Zehm is included in a story by contributor Leah Sottile (who also freelances for the Inlander), “Punk Rock is Out to Lunch.” Final sell: it’s only $5.
— HEIDI GROOVER
I’ve made a point to read anything in the New Yorker by Ariel Levy since this entertaining-and-damning piece about Silvio Berlusconi and Italy’s macho culture, which includes some brilliant first-person moments. So I went out of my way, downloading it on crappy hotel wifi, when I saw she had a new story last week — “Thanksgiving in Mongolia,” a personal essay about her terrifying miscarriage while on assignment. It’s as brutal and heart-wrenching as it sounds. A lot has been written about the story since, drawing connections and welcoming it into the sometimes contradictory canon of personal writing on motherhood, miscarriage, abortion and feminism. But the piece stands alone. It’s meant to stand alone.
— LISA WAANANEN
So it turns out, all these years, our pop songs, our indie classics, our commercial jingles have been broadcast far, far out into the reaches space, where countless powerful alien civilizations have been listening.
And they absolutely love it. Planet Earth, apparently, has a good beat and you can dance to it. That’s the good news, copyright attorney Nick Carter (no relation to the boy band singer) learns in the novel Year Zero.
The bad news is that, having listened to the sum total of the earth’s musical output many, many times, and not paying a cent, these alien civilizations have realized they owe a vast array of studios an impossible amount of money. Not wanting to risk the wrath of the RIAA’s legal team, various alien forces have decided the only logical choice to cancel that debt is to destroy planet earth. The resulting novel is a little bit like Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, if Hitchhiker’s Guide had anything resembling a plot. Year Zero gets weighed down a bit toward with the end with the compounding pile of fictional concepts and invented words, but the novel, so far, remains very funny throughout (1).
(1) Particularly the footnotes.
— DANIEL WALTERS
My reaction to the 50th anniversary of JFK's assassination was to revisit Kennedy, Ted Sorensen's biography published a little more than a year after that horrific day in Dallas. Best known as JFK's speechwriter — the man who composed the memorable phrases we associate with our 35th President — Sorensen, a shy, cerebral, buttoned-down Unitarian from Nebraska, was in many ways the anti-Kennedy. It's the perspective of a young man: He wrote the book in his mid-30s (he died three years ago at 82), and the wounds are fresh, the blood not yet dry, the innocence lost forever. It's far from a tell-all in a 21st-century sense; Sorensen, close friend and advisor, confidant and defender, was just 24 when he first worked for the newly elected Massachusetts senator, and what he reveals of JFK's 46½ years and his administration's thousand-plus days is as much about protecting his boss and mentor's reputation and place in history as about revealing anything new. Sorensen's view is unique, his access unparalleled; for 11 years, he was there for everything, a witness to critical moments in history. JFK hoped he and his friend eventually would write this book together; nothing pained Sorensen more than having to write it alone.
— MICHAEL MAHONEY
Lots of publications have started putting out their best books of the year lists. So I first took note of George Saunders' Tenth of December when it made the New York Times Book Review's "100 Notable Books of 2013." But I finally had to check out a copy once I saw it also made the New York Times "10 Best Books of 2013." It has not disappointed. I'm about halfway through this book of 10 short stories and each tale has its own strange energy with bizarre concepts pitting morals against expectations. Prisoners undergo forced chemical experiments. Children fight off a kidnapper. Many of the stories bloom from fairly dark seeds, but shift to reveal surprising shades of humanity. I'm looking forward to the rest of the book, which also made the cut on this handy "Best Books" app from NPR.
— JACOB JONES
Idaho killer Joseph Duncan has been declared mentally competent by a state judge, clearing the way for him to be put to death. Further appeals may still apply, however. (S-R)
Saturday, a plane coming from Seattle and headed towards Atlanta made an emergency stop in Spokane after a 16-year-old passenger died. (LAT)
Billy Joel, Martina Arroyo, Herbie Hancock, Shirley MacLaine and Carlos Santana received the coveted Kennedy Center Award medallion Sunday night in Washington, D.C. (WP)
67 years later, Ukraine protesters smashed a statue of Lenin in a downtown Kiev square Sunday night. Rioting has continued through the night and extra police have been called in. (DB)
Disney beat Katniss Everdeen in this weekend’s movie box office with Frozen taking over the top spot from The Hunger Games: Catching Fire in just their second weekends. (HR)
Continuing to prove that talented football teams can exist in the PNW …
Washington State University has been invited to the Gildan New Mexico Bowl for the first time. They’ll be taking on Colorado State University. This is the team’s first bowl game since 2003.(KXLY)
The Seattle Seahwaks may have lost to the San Francisco 49ers Sunday evening, bringing their record to a still impressive 11-2, but they still have the 12th man on their side. (ST)
It is cold out here in Spokane. Yeah, we've seen some chilly temperatures in these parts, but the wind the last couple of days have probably been enough for Gonzaga fans to wish they were still back in Maui.
In the McCarthey Athletic Center, though, things should be nice and toasty as the now 19th ranked (or 15th if you go by the other poll) Bulldogs and their faithful student section get things rocking tonight against New Mexico State. You're thinking, oh New Mexico, they've been a powerhouse in the last five years. Stop right there. State. This is New Mexico State. The Aggies, they call them, and they are no slouches, either. They've made the NCAA tournament the past two seasons.
NMSU comes into the game with 7-3 record, all three of those losses being relatively close ones, the last of which was in the form of a 79-70 defeat to the aforementioned New Mexico. Keep an eye out for a potential Canadian-on-Canadian as NMSU's lead scorer Daniel Mullings might come up against his rival Ontarian (is that what you call someone from Ontario?) Kevin Pangos.
We're hoping the Kennel Club isn't camping out for this one. That would be brutal out there. You can watch on ESPNU at 8 pm in the warmth of your favorite bar or armchair.
The Zags don't get much of a break after NMSU, making their only East Coast trip of the regular season on Tuesday night to play West Virginia. The Mountaineers are 6-3 with quality losses against 10th ranked Wisconsin, Missouri and an early season close one to Virginia Tech. Expect the three-pointers to be flying in that one. Gonzaga and West Virginia are second and 10th, respectively, in three-point percentage. And in terms of pure volume, WVU has made a staggering 84 total threes in their first nine games. More on that...
Going into tonight's game, the Zags are shooting 48 percent from three-point range, the second-best average in the country. That is a better percentage than 60 other Division I teams are shooting period. What's even more remarkable is that they've shot like that with more than a few guys firing away. Bell, Pangos, Barham, Coleman and even Dower can all light it up from long distance.
BEST SHOOTING TEAM?
There's no question that Gonzaga has fielded stronger, faster, more athletic, more dunktastic, and as I've mentioned, better hairstyled in previous seasons, but the way this group of Zags can shoot the ball has been impressive. The team leads all of Division I in shooting percentage at a smoking hot 55.8 percent. Gonzaga finished third in the nation last season at just over 50 percent.
RUN IT UP
Keeping with the theme here, it's no surprise that the Zags are scoring the ball a hell of a lot this year. They are averaging 91.8 points per game in the early going, good for fourth in the nation. That fourth place total would be more than ten more than the leading team last year. You can blame some of that on this hot shooting, but scoring is up in college hoops across the board — mostly thanks to the new rules in the game making defensive fouls a hell of a lot easier to call.
Enough with the number nerdery — enjoy the game. And stay warm, fer God's sake.
Last week, Spokane County’s big Urban Growth Area expansion was rejected by the state of Washington’s Growth Management Hearings Board. While Spokane County has a chance to appeal the decision, many properties have already been established in the expanded area.
In the months between when the County Commissioners approved the Urban Growth Area expansion and when the Growth Management Hearings Board rejected it, 640 lots, across six different properties countywide, put their roots down, according to a map from the Department of Commerce. Four of those lots are for the Central Valley School District, while the other 636 are for residential development. Of that total, 181 lots are in the South Glenrose area, where local neighbors have been challenging the development.
Land within Urban Growth Areas allows developers to build much more densely. So if a developer has land outside the UGA and it suddenly comes into the UGA, that land becomes much more valuable. Those quick-acting developers will be allowed to put dense development on that property even though the expansion was ruled invalid.
Under Washington state’s law, properties are “vested” as soon as a developer turns in a valid predevelopment application. To land use advocates, it’s a loophole that allows large amounts of sprawl to duck Washington state’s growth management legislation: All developer-friendly commissioners have to do is to expand the urban growth area, and even if they’re legally required to reverse their decision, the vested development stays.
In Olympia, some legislators are talking about introducing legislation to change the vesting law.
"The prospect we are seeing in Spokane County of developments being permitted under an illegal land use map is concerning, and we are exploring ways to prevent a repeat of this situation in the future," state Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon (D-Burien) wrote in a statement to the Center for Justice in November.
Meanwhile, County Commissioner Todd Mielke isn’t surprised that the Growth Management Hearings Board rejected the county’s expansion.
“In the nine years I’ve been a county commissioner, the Growth Management Hearings Board has ruled against us nearly every time… We do absolutely nothing right in their eyes,” Mielke says. “We have appealed every decision to the courts.” Most of the time, he says, those appeals have been successful. It's possible that, if the County appeals, all or part of the expansion will be ruled valid.
Department of Commerce's Map of Vested Projects In Spokane County (zoom in to make it larger)
Last night, millions of people turned on NBC to watch The Sound of Music Live! on NBC. In Spokane, people were watching in particular to see local star Sophia Caruso as one of the von Trapp children.
If you missed it on TV, you can now watch the whole thing online at whatever time fits your schedule. Here’s a clip:
The show starred pop singer Carrie Underwood as Maria, and was considered a gamble for NBC since live Broadway-style musicals on TV are expensive and kind of old-fashioned. But viewers were eager to watch, with NBC’s highest rating since the 2009 series finale of ER.
Critics, though, were not all that impressed. The general consensus was that Underwood, while plucky and perfectly capable of carrying the tunes, didn’t really do so well with the acting. And didn’t have any chemistry with Stephen Moyer, who played Captain von Trapp. And looked not much older than the children, except for the frumpy dresses she constantly had to wear. (The actual Von Trapp family revealed they would have preferred Anne Hathaway.) In contrast, reviewers pointed to the amazing Audra McDonald singing “Climb Every Mountain,” and the skillful acting and stylish outfits of Laura Benanti as Baroness Elsa Schraeder. (The kids didn't get much mention from critics.)
This smart analysis about the science of anticipation helps explain why the show had such an uphill battle — people really just wanted to watch Julie Andrews in beloved Sound of Music movie they’ve watched over and over:
“On the plus side, you could tell Carrie Underwood and her costars were giving it their all; on the negative, the furniture on the grand veranda of Captain Von Trapp’s villa looked like a cheap patio set from Walmart, which was a major advertiser during the broadcast.
Perhaps intentionally, perhaps by clever accident, the producers dodged the biggest calamity, which would have been to somehow ruin the original by coming too close and yet not close enough. After all, it would have taken more effort than the Von Trapps climbing over the Alps to outdo the Julie Andrews classic.”
The Inlander's annual Gift Guide issue hits stands next Thursday, Dec. 12, giving readers just enough time (two weeks) to get out there and shop for all of our writers' creative and thoughtful suggestions.
However, to avoid being repetitive with my suggestions last year for "Gifts for Cats and their People," this year's issue includes a different mix — both serious and hilarious — of giftee "types." But hey, lucky me and lucky you — Cat Friday comes to the rescue to present some incredibly purr-fect gifts for the cool cat people, and actual felines, on your list. This week features a mix of gifts for humans; check back next week for my kitty gift suggestions.
KEYBOARD CAT TOY
If you didn't already know the original Keyboard Cat is an Inland Northwest original, stop reading this blog right meow. Just kidding — don't stop reading, let us enlighten you. The Internet sensation that many cat video authorities credit with starting it all really was from the Lilac City. Give your craziest cat friend a piece of local history with the animatronic Keyboard Cat plushie, an officially licensed KC collectible. With the press of a button they'll have their very own miniature of this Internet Cat icon. $34.99 at thinkgeek.com (as of today it's on sale for $13.99)
GRUMPY CAT PLUSHIE
Getting a stuffed animal designed in one's likeness seems to be the critical sign you've made it big on the Interwebs. Another famous feline who's had several variations of her frown-y mug recreated in polyester is indeed, Grumpy Cat. There are a couple different designs out there, but my personal favorite is the Gund brand version, which looks just as soft and cuddly as Grumpy — despite what her sour expression may indicate — would be in real life. $22 at nordstrom.com
KITTY MEASURING CUPS
For the cat lady or dude in your life who loves to cook and bake, and is ever-so-careful to make sure not a strand of fur ever gets into his or her delicious dishes, giving this adorable measuring cup set is sure to earn you some friend brownie points and maybe even some real homemade brownies. I've admired these cute cups since I first saw them, and for a cat lady who likes to cook, it's a gift that can't go wrong. $34.99 at modcloth.com
*Cat Lady Pro Tip: A basic search of the word "cat" on ModCloth's site, a chic indie designer store, brings up five whole pages of fantastic and gift worthy cat-themed goods.
LIL BUB'S LIL BOOK
My fellow cat friends and friends of cat lovers, I urge you to spend the weeks following Christmas and into the new year studying up on all things BUB, in preparation for the momentous occasion when our very own city is graced by her squonking, wide-eyed, tongue-lolling presence at the Spokane stop of the touring Internet Cat Video Film Festival. There's no better way to start than with the tiny, outer space-hailing feline's first published book, pictured here. If you can't wait until Christmas and want to gift yourself right meow, go to Auntie's Bookstore (402 W. Main Ave), where I was beyond excited to see it in store a few days ago. Otherwise, it's available online anywhere books are sold, including BUB's store, which, I must add, has lots of other gift ideas for the ultimate BUB fan.
CHOCOLATE & STEEL CAT JEWELRY
Since receiving it as a birthday gift almost a year ago, I rarely take off my sterling silver ring stamped with a tiny cat face, and neither will any other cat lady who receives a piece of handmade kitty jewelry by LA-based Chocolate and Steel. The earth-friendly pieces, made from reclaimed and recycled metals, come in many forms including stud earrings, rings, bracelets and necklaces, and also feature more than just kitty faces (most of the designs are by whimsical artist Gemma Correll). These particular earrings match the ring I mentioned, but come in several other feline and non-feline designs, too. (Faithful readers out there may realize why this ring is so special to me, based the name of its design!) $26 and up, Chocolate and Steel Etsy shop.
ORIGINAL CATHOUSE APPAREL
Much to the dismay of lifelong cat fanatics, cat images in fashion are all the rage now, from cheap duds at stores like Forever21, to even the most high-end designers. Scroll through trendy apparel retailer websites, like H&M or Urban Outfitters, and cat fashion is everywhere. As cute as these brands' designs may be, don't fall for them, or at least have caution. Now that cat-themed fashion is a "trend," when you wear that cutesy F21 kitty tee you'll be lumped in with less-arduous cat people, aka the masses who probably don't love cats as much as you. Go for something more original and less mass-produced, like this cozy, kitschy "Members Only" kitten sweatshirt from the Portland-based apparel shop The Original Cat House, which rocks the tagline: "Fine purr-veyors of feline centric goods." $28, unisex sizes S-XL, Original Cat House Etsy shop
Don't forget Santacon Dec 14th(this Saturday).
Wow, Lost Talent
Just take a look at the CEO s salary and that will speak volumes..." In…
The schools in Cheyenne WY have decided not to close this winter, even at -17…
Most likely, Logan and the ST. Louis Post Dispatch received the RFP from Mayor Francis…