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Archive: Arts & Culture / Spokane and North Idaho

Check out cover for Harper Lee’s new novel

The cover art (above) for “Go Set a Watchman,” the recently uncovered sequel to Harper Lee’s iconic “To Kill a Mockingbird” was released today by HarperCollins.

Lee originally wrote the novel in the 1950s about a young woman, Scout Finch, who travels from New York back to her childhood home in Maycomb, Alabama, to visit her father, Atticus. Her editor was more interested in the novel’s flashbacks to Scout’s childhood, which Lee turned into “To Kill a Mockingbird.” The manuscript for “Go Set a Watchman” was long thought to be lost until recently discovered by Lee’s lawyer.

Original "To Kill a Mockingbird" cover art

The cover, designed by Jarrod Taylor in the Harper Art Department at HarperCollins, features an approaching train—Scout’s mode of transport from New York to Maycomb—and a sparsely leafed tree on a blue background. Although set in an entirely different color scheme, the cover is beautifully reminiscent of the cover art for the first printing of “To Kill a Mockingbird” in 1960.

The excitement over the sequel’s discovery and publishing has been tempered with accusations of elder abuse and manipulation of Lee, 88, a notoriously reclusive figure whose Pulitzer Prize-winning story remained her only published book for over 50 years. Investigations into the accusations are being explored by the state of Alabama, according to the New York Times.

The book will be available July 14 and is currently available for pre-order through Auntie’s Bookstore, as well as Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Buy some ‘War Bonds’ tonight in Coeur d’Alene

Above: Readers crowded into Auntie's Bookstore on Feb. 22 to hear Cindy Hval read from her nonfiction book "War Bonds: Love Stories From the Greatest Generation."

When she gave her first reading at Auntie's Bookstore on Feb. 22, author Cindy Hval entertained a standing-room only crowd. That's what the local reaction has been to Hval's nonfiction book "War Bonds: Love Stories From the Greatest Generation."

So, if you're planning on attending Hval's reading tonight, to be held at 7 at the Coeur d'Alene Library, you might want to get there a bit early. Seating could be a little tight.

What's been the reaction to the book outside the author's personal appearances? Well, the book website Goodreads gives "War Bonds" a 4.7 rating (out of 5). "I'm a sucker for a good love story," a reader named Terry wrote.

Another reader, Beth Bollinger, echoed those sentiments: "I spent the majority of the time with tears in my eyes, imagining this or that. It takes a true storyteller to create that kind of connection. Cindy Hval is that kind of storyteller."

All of which reinforces this comment from a critic writing in Publisher's Weekly: "Hval's journalistic style restrains the potential sentimentality, which won't prevent these glimpses of love in the face of war from winning over romantics everywhere."

Anyway, plan on attending the reading. Buy the book yourself. And as I always preach, read it and make up your own mind. It'd probably be a good idea, though, to keep some hankies handy.

Last chance to earn some limerick gold

Here's a last-minute reminder that our annual Limericks Contest is still going on, but entries close Friday afternoon.

We've received a fair number of adult entries, but we still have room for school-age participants. Just remember the theme: "Once Upon a Time in the Northwest," at topic that could include fun re-telling of classic fairy tales that are set in this area, folk tales, or just general fun and fantasy with a local vibe.

Submit your entry by clicking here, or email your entry to contest@spokane7.com.

Prizes in the general and youth categories include $35 gift certificate for first place, $25 for second place and $15 for third place.

A poet and an artist

The first youth entry in our 2015 Limerick Contest arrived in the mail today. That's right; old-fashioned snail mail delivered by the United States Postal Service. With a "Harry Potter" stamp and everything.

The young poet, Paige, also included a drawing with the limerick (see above image).

You can submit your limerick via mail, email or online form. Winners will receive gift cards to Auntie's Bookstore and be invited to read their limericks at a special St. Patrick's Day event at Auntie's in mid-March. Contest closes March 6, 2015.

Special section will benefit The Modern Theater

On February 22, The Spokesman-Review proudly presents The Envelope, a special 56-page full color tab section featuring smart, insightful commentary and predictions for the 2015 Academy Awards from the Los Angeles Times. Five percent of subscriber proceeds will be donated to The Modern Theater in Spokane and Coeur d'Alene.

Sunday subscribers will automatically receive this section with regular delivery. If you would like to upgrade your subscription to receive this special section, visit Spokesman.com/subscribe. Subscribers who do not wish to receive this section must visit The Envelope Opt-Out by 5 p.m. on Wednesday, February 18, 2015, or call (509) 459-3800.

And starting at running back, Frannnnz Kafffffka!

If you're still hung over following a distinctly disappointing Super Bowl — and by "hung over" I mean, of course, emotionally — you're not alone.

Sure, I know New England won. And just like Seahawks fans following that improbable win over Green Bay, Patriots fans everywhere — even here in the Northwest — are rejoicing. But, too, everyone has to be wondering: What was with that final play call? I've heard the rationalizations, but none really stick. And everyone, even the Pats, have to be experiencing at least somewhat of a bad taste in their mouths.

Anyway … life goes on. And while checking my email this morning, I discovered a message from my night-dweller wife that put at least a slight smile on my face this dreary, snowy February morning. It's a repeat of a PBS Newshour story from a year ago that lists 14 books that you could read in the time it takes to play a Super Bowl.

Interesting compilation. And while I have read 12 of the 14, I have to admit that — sitting here, still smarting over a mere football game — one of the books seems far more appropriate than any of the others.

Perhaps you'll agree. It's the one by the guy named Kafka.

I want this to be a Louis C.K. kind of day

I just read an email that the comedian Louis C.K. sent out announcing cancellation of his Tuesday night show at New York's Madison Square Garden. It seems a "historic" storm is threatening the Northeast, and he's afraid of the potential harm the tempest may pose to the fans who are coming to see him. "So," he says. "No show."

C.K. is one of my favorite comics. The guy might use profanity a bit too much for some people's tastes, but that's never bothered me (just ask anyone I've ever worked with). What I love is his ability to hit straight at the heart of the human condition, to reveal a common truth about humanity — whether that truth involves narcissism, hypocrisy or outright stupidity — and do so in a self-effacing, humorous manner.

Take this skit. Or this one.

I particularly like the closing line of his email: "Take care of yourself and don't be a jerk to people." I think that's as intimate and honest as you can get. And it's something I try to practice in my own life.

Of course, I fail. Often. The other night at a crowded book reading, the organizer came through counting open seats. When he discovered that two separate chairs in my row were free, one of which was to my immediate right, he politely asked me and my brother — who were sitting on the aisle — to move in. I, a little too abruptly, said, "No." My brother and I had arrived a half hour early, had chosen our seats carefully, wanting to be on the aisle so that we could make an early exit if we wanted (while disturbing as few others as possible). The young guy looked at me curiously, but just proceeded to another row. And I immediately felt bad.

Worse, a couple that was sitting to my right, moved one seat to their right, thereby turning the single separate seat into a double. I turned to them, thanked them, and said, "You've much more accommodating than I am." The woman, without looking at me, said, "I try to be."

So … I wish I could say that I enjoyed the next half-hour's reading. And I'd be lying if I didn't admit that some part of me did. The young author read well, explained herself well and was poised, open and enthusiastic in her efforts to answer the several questions audience members posed to her. Even the one I asked.

But that was only a small part of me. A much larger part kept reliving the whole experience — the request to switch seats, my refusal, the silent disapproval I felt from the other couple — over and over. I found myself stuck on a loop where I kept thinking that I should have talked about my brother's emotional fragility, about my own inherent sense of claustrophobia, about the irritation I felt at being asked to alter a situation that I had made special effort to set up. And then I chastised myself for being weak, for not having the strength to let the whole thing go, for feeling anger at having to explain myself in the first place.

And here it is, three days later, and I'm still meditating about the whole incident, still unable to let it go.

Until I read that quote from Louis C.K., a guy whose talent rests in the exercise of reminding us that we're all just human, that we make mistakes, and that we just need to be nicer to one another.

So I'm going to go out in public today. I'm going try to take care of myself. And I'm going to do my best to avoid being a jerk to anyone.

That seems likes a human thing to do.

Below: Just a warning, the Louis CK clip embedded below is NSFW.

Sarah Hulse creates a haunting elegy in ‘Black River’

As the father of a young woman who is working as a film editor/producer in New York, I understand the pride a parent feels when his or her offspring does something creative. Especially when that work receives critical acclaim.

That's why I'm so happy for my former Spokesman-Review colleague Gil Hulse. I have some clue as to what he is feeling over the kudos his daughter, Sarah Hulse, is receiving on the publication of her novel — her first — "Black River." The younger Hulse will read from her book at 7 p.m. Friday at Auntie's Bookstore.

Following are some comments about "Black River":

From the Washington Post: "(T)he possibility of solace, if not redemption, hangs tantalizingly close in this tough, honest novel by a surprisingly wise young writer."

From The Guardian: "Hulse believes that grace happens in a look between two people, or a moment of holding back. It’s a powerful elegy to the knowledges we bear and the silences we hold."

From Publisher's Weekly (whose reviewer clearly was thrown off by Hulse's byline "S.M."): "From the bluegrass theme to the Western rural setting, Hulse handles his (sic) story like a pro."

From Kirkus Reviews: "Profound issues addressed with a delicate touch and folded into a strong story populated by wrenchingly human characters: impressive work from a gifted young artist."

So, don't miss this sterling literary debut, a young author's presentation of what is universally being acclaimed as a finely crafted first novel. Oh, and be sure to congratulate her father.

Limerick writers, sharpen your 2015 pens

When I still taught as an adjunct instructor at both Whitworth and Gonzaga universities, I urged students to treat Wikipedia as a mere beginning spot for research. As my wife likes to say, Wikipedia is a tool, not a source.

But even as a tool, it's sometimes questionable. For example, I was looking up the term "limerick" this morning on the Wikipedia site. Why? Because, as we have in the past, Spokane7 is going to hold a Saint Patrick's Day limericks contest. Beginning today, we will be accepting entries in The 2015 Spokesman-Review Limerick Contest through March 6.

Our 2015 theme? “Once upon a Time in the Inland Northwest,” which invites limerick enthusiasts to create original works that recast classic fairy tales, Grimm's Brother stories or traditional folk tales (Bigfoot, anyone?) in traditional limerick form boasting — and this is all-important — a local reference.

Entries can be submitted online at  www.spokane7.com/limericks_2015/, by email to contests@spokane7.com, by mail or drop-off at The Spokesman-Review, 999 W. Riverside, Spokane, WA 99201.

At least three prizes will be given in both adult and youth categories, each including gift certificates provided by Auntie’s Bookstore and The Spokesman-Review. Top entries will be invited to read their submissions at a special Auntie’s St. Patrick’s Day event in mid-March (date to be determined).

So start writing those limericks. But if you go to Wikipedia to see what a limerick is, pay no attention to the line that describes "clean limericks" as a "periodic fad and object of magazine contests, rarely rising above mediocrity."

Oh, Wikipedia, how sadly ye have treated us. Hmmm, maybe there's a limerick there somewhere.

Take in the art of nature Friday at Kendall Yards

Above: Artist Melissa Cole.

Marshall Peterson is a photographer whose larger interest is in promoting arts in Spokane. As such, his latest project involves an art show that will be on exhibit from 5-8 p.m. Friday at Kendall Yards. "Under the Influence of Nature … New Work by Melissa Cole" will be on display at 1206 W. Summit Parkway (Adams Alley).

A native of Oregon, Cole has shown her artwork in galleries from Alaska to Florida. She written more than 30 children's natural history books with her husband, Brandon, a wildlife photographer.

Click here to obtain more information on Cole and her work.

From the air, Kauai is even prettier

Above: The bird's-eye view of Kauai's Napali Coast that I enjoyed, courtesy of Blue Hawaiian Helicopters. Photo by Mary Pat Treuthart.

The Hawaiian island of Kauai is unique. Fourth largest of the main eight islands, it is largely inaccessible except by foot or by helicopter. And since we are well beyond the days we would hike into areas that even Rich Landers might hesitate to tackle, that left only one choice if we wanted to see more of Kauai than we could view from the main roads.

What did we do? Well, everyone said that if there were one island you had to see by air, it was Kauai. So, yeah, we sprang for the helicopter. Blue Hawaiian Helicopters offered us an hour-long flight that toured the entirety of the 560-some-square-mile area, all for about $200 a head.

Helicopters have changed quite a bit since I last rode in one (Vietnam, 1969, don't ask). Along with our pilot Brad (former Army pilot, 25 years experience), seven of us were stuffed into a space that, surprising to me, did manage to offer more elbow room than your average theme-park ride. My wife Mary Pat and I sat in front between Brad and another passenger, while the other four sat in back (we had no say about the seating; it was all determined, they said, by weight).

Brad lifted off from the Lihue Airport in a fairly dramatic fashion, rushing toward a stand of palm trees at the end of the runway, before sweeping up and over the coast. The ride was smooth and far less bouncy than I expected, and the headphones we were all wearing both muffled the noise and made communication easy.

We headed west, toward the island of Niihau in the distance, and along the southern coast. As we flew, Brad explained how so many movies have used the remote Kauai landscapes. "I'm not a big movie guy," he said just before mentioning "The Descendants" as we flew over the coastal valley that director Alexander Payne used as the site of the movie's climactic family squabble. We then proceeded clockwise around the island's perimeter, heading inland to swoop through and over the majestic valleys (especially Waimea Valley).

The high point, literally, came when — because we'd been lucky enough to sore one of those incredibly clear days so rare in Kauai — we were able to rise above Kauai's tallest peak, Kawaikini, a peak that is normally shrouded in clouds. Equally visible was the second-highest peak, Mount Walaleale, which is often listed as one of the world's wettest spots (with an annual average rainfall of some 460 inches). Brad seemed to make the aircraft stand on end so that we could get as many different views as possible.

Then we headed up past the Napali (also spelled Na Pali) coast, a stretch of some 16 miles that feature stark cliffs that rise up from the ocean like folded strips of green-and-red-tinted paper. Then past Taylor Camp, home of the former hippie haven, around exclusive Princeville, and then back toward Lihue.

You see, on occasion, bumper stickers that say things such as, "We're spending our kids' inheritance." The helicopter ride around Hawaii's garden Island may fit that category.

Hey, I'll say, thanks for the early Christmas gift.

Kauai: From good beaches to great ice cream

Above: Photo by Mary Pat Treuthart

It’s only natural for people to dream about Hawaiian vacations, especially this time of year. For some, that kind of vacation might be the holiday of a lifetime. For others, it might mean an annual affair. Whatever, it’s one of the easiest kinds of trips for Inland Northwest residents to make.

All it involves is a short hop to Seattle and then five hours and change to the island of your choice: Oahu, Maui, the Big Island (my favorite) and the island we’re now visiting – Kauai. As for places to stay, just consult TripAdvisor. Something should fit.

However you manage it, once you’re here, the experience is likely to remain with you for life. And if you come in early December, you’re not apt to find the crowds that show up at other times of the year.

Beaches? Kauai has a number of them. From Kee Beach at Haena State Park on the north coast to Keaha Beach Park, which sits at the far western coast. We spent one afternoon walking the sands at Lydgate State Park just outside Wailua.

Restaurants? You can drop a load at one of the resorts in Princeville, such as the St. Regis or the Westin (where we ate twice at the Westin’s Nanea Restaurant and Bar). Or you can eat at any number of street joints, such as Island Taco (which sits on the main drag, Kaumualii Highway, in Waimea) and enjoy fish tacos to die for.

To die for.

For after dinner, you can eat ice cream at, say, at Pink’s Creamery in Hanalei. Even better, at Lappert’s (three locations, in Princeville, in Kapaa and Hanapepe).

One thing you can do for free, besides beach visits, is what we did this afternoon: explore Waimea Canyon. Some refer to it is the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific,” which is a bit of a stretch. But it is an impressive sight, even if all you do is drive to the end and walk to the overlook spots, those not obscured by fog, instead of hiking the many trails.

Free and amazing. That’s what I call a dream

They don’t call Kauai the Garden Island for nothing

Not sure what the weather is like in Spokane. (That's a lie. According to Weather.com, it's 33 degrees and snowing.) But I can tell you that today, in Kauai, the sun played tag with clouds, the rain held off, and tropical breezes made life just about perfect. Which is why I posted the above photo, which I took in Princeville, looking west-northwest as the sun dipped below the cliffs that turn into the Napali Coast.

Yeah. I'm on Kauai, also known as Hawaii's Garden Island. My wife and I arrived here following our visits to Shanghai and Hong Kong and we'll spend our last few days here, trying to soak up as much sun as we can before heading back to … the cold.

We arrived in Honolulu to a situation heavy with irony. After finding it easy to navigate airports in airports where the native language was either Mandarin or Cantonese, and not everyone we worked with spoke English, we found ourselves stumped in the Hawaiian Airlines terminal of the Honolulu International Airport. Machines, no desks with live human begins. And a curious lack of signage telling us exactly what to do. All that, complicated by jet lag, and we found ourselves wishing we were back in China.

I've lived in Hawaii. On Oahu, for four years, before, during and after it became a state. So, yes, I know it is part of the U.S. At times, though, Hawaii does feel like a foreign country. 

Despite the problems. we made our flight, which would take about the same time as flying from Spokane to Moses Lake. And barely a half hour later we were landing at Lihue Airport. Since then, things have gotten progressively better. It rained on and off our first day, and today gave new meaning to the phrase "partly sunny." But we took our rental car for a ride, hit the beach at Haena State Park and took in that gorgeous sunset.

The day's highlight: having lunch at Tahiti Nui, the bar/cafe that was featured in Alexander Payne's 2011 film "The Descendants." As we ate our sandwiches, served to us by a hardworking yet friendly waitress, I kept looking for signs of Clooney's presence. But, of course, he was nowhere to be seen. Nor were the stars of the some 76 other movies filmed, even if only partly, on Kauai. Such as Sam Neil from "Jurassic Park." Kathleen Turner in "Body Heat." Johnny Depp in "Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides." Harrison Ford in "Raiders of the Lost Ark." And so on.

Later, though, as we sat on the lanai of the St. Regis Princeville Resort (no, we aren't staying there) and watched the sun drop below the horizon, I thought again of Clooney and the many movie stars who have enjoyed this paradise called Kauai. And I raised my glass to the notion that I was enjoying it, too.

Hong Kong: The press of flesh behind the headlines

It's difficult, if not impossible, to write anything about visiting Hong Kong without mentioning the demonstrations that are making headlines around the world. When we were in Shanghai, both the Shanghai Daily and China Daily newspapers were featuring front-page stories on both the Occupy Central movement and the riots in Ferguson, Mo. Yet to the average Hong Kong resident, both stories seem to share an equal sense of importance. Or, to be honest, non-importance.

We arrived here Thursday night and spent most of Friday trekking through Hong Kong's center either by foot, by cab (bad idea because of the snarl they call traffic) and subway (crowded but a whole lot quicker). And we could see little effect that the Occupy Central movement was having. We even had a long discussion on the night we arrived with the husband of a restaurant owner who said that while the majority of city residents supported the Occupy movement, an equal majority disapproved of their methods.

I'm not a political reporter, and I don't have the overall knowledge or expertise to judge any of this. I can only report what I see. And what I don't.

What I saw on Friday was a city built on an island, so congested with high-rise buildings and streets that snake over and atop one another it's hard to imagine people actually living here. The city extends across an inlet to a portion of the mainland (where the demonstrations are taking place), all area that the British had claimed and held for a century and a half before ceding it back to the Chinese government in 1997. We ate lunch at a restaurant, Dim Dim Sum, that lists Anthony Bourdain as one of its biggest fans (the photo above is over a pork roll that was sweetly scrumptious).

After lunch, we stopped by a shopping mall (the biggest I've seen outside of Dubai or Minneapolis) to get tickets to an evening showing of "The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 1" (because what is a trip to Hong Kong, home of Bruce Lee, without seeing a movie?). Then we jumped in a cab (big mistake) to head for the station of the tram that climbs up to The Peak that overlooks all Hong Kong. After what seemed like hours, we arrived — only to wait in line for what seemed like forever. At the top, the view is magnificent, though the haze made the taking of photos pretty much a useless activity. Then we took even longer to get back down.

But after getting directions to the nearest subway stop, we piled on and two stops later we were at the very shopping center where the movie was playing. We ate dinner (pizza because, after 10 days, we wanted a change in diet) and then took in the movie — which adds a third item to the list of things I've seen and not seen.

Things I wished I hadn't seen.

Looking down on ‘Blade Runner’ Shanghai

Though we try to hit as many offbeat tourist sites as we can when we travel, we always encounter those places that are a must visit. If you go to Paris, you have to see The Louvre. In Rome, St. Peter's Basilica. New York, the Empire State Building. And so on.

So in Shanghai, that would include the Oriental Pearl TV Tower, which is where we visited on the late afternoon of our final day in Shanghai. It's the highest tower in Asia and the third highest in the world and is part of the city's famous skyline, which at night looks like something out of the film "Blade Runner." And it sits squarely in the center of a shopping complex that is jaw-droopingly vast, connected largely by a series of elevated walkways that attract visitors from all over the world — but especially the Chinese hinterlands (which explains why, for the first time in our week-long stay, we attracted a number of stares).

The tower, which is 468 meters in height, isn't particularly easy to enter. First, we decided to pay the full price (about $36 apiece) to get full access, including going up to the highest point, which is called the "Space Capsule." Then we stood in a series of lines that rivaled those at Disneyland for twists and turns, not to mention wait. When we finally were squeezed into an elevator, we headed up — only to transfer to a second lift, which finally deposited us at an enclosed viewing platform that offers a stunning 360-degree view not just of the city but of the entire surrounding area.

By the time we arrived, it was past sunset. And the sky, though clearer than it had been in days, was still hazy. Even so, the sight was impressive (as you can tell from the above photo). We made the circle, snapping photos (including the obligatory selfies), and then headed to another elevator up to the "Space Capsule," which turned out to be just another, higher but smaller area with another 360-degree view.

The most impressive spot to me sits on a lower level, where you can step out on clear sections that make it seem as if you are ready to fall hundred of meters to the street. I took one step — and that was enough.

Then we began the lengthy stand-in-line exercise of heading down. If you decide to add the Oriental Pearl TV Tower to your list of Shanghai tourist activities, make sure to leave plenty of time. And unless you have a private driver, walk or take the subway away from the area to avoid cabbies who will try to rip you off (two told us that they would take us only if we agreed to pay "at least 300 yuan," or about $48, which is not only unethical but illegal — but that's supply and demand for you).

I found myself wishing for one of those flying cars that Deckard drove in "Blade Runner." We'd have been back to our hotel in minutes.

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