Thursday, December 5, 2013

Ana’s ace: UI graduate films documentary on memory champion

Lindsey Treffry,

When Ana Overgaard started a video project at the University of Idaho, she had no idea it would take her to Florida twice and even as far as London.

“It started as kind of a joke with Nelson Dellis: ‘Someone should make a documentary with you,’ “ Overgaard said.

And Overgaard did.

Nelson Dellis is a famous memory champion. He can memorize thousands of binary digits in an hour, as well as 20 packs of cards and multiple blobs of colors, abstract images, random words and fictional dates. Dellis creates what’s called a memory palace, in order to memorize a name, for example.

“You take the name into something visual, like Ana: Banana, visualize the face and put that there,” Overgaard said. “It looks like they’re taking SATs, and it’s really boring, but in their mind, they’re going on these incredible journeys.”

Nelson Dellis covers his eyes and ears during the 2012 World Memory Championship in this still image from "Ace of Diamonds," a film by University of Idaho graduate Ana Overgaard.

Techniques like this are what led Dellis to win the 2011 and 2012 USA Memory Championships, and then go on to the World Memory Championships in 2012, where he placed seventh.

Overgaard met him a few years back and decided to pursue what had begun as a class project after getting a $3,000 grant from the UI — the first ever awarded to a Journalism and Mass Media student.

“I thought, now that I’ve got his, I have to do it,” said Overgaard, who used UI equipment to film and edit.

Overgaard planned to follow Dellis to the World Championships, which were supposed to be in New York.

“But it changed to London last minute, right in the middle of basketball season,” said Overgaard, who was a senior guard for the UI women’s basketball team before graduating in May.

Nelson Dellis concentrates during the 2012 World Memory Championship in this still image from "Ace of Diamonds," a film by University of Idaho graduate Ana Overgaard.

She had missed Dellis’ performance in the National Championships due to the WAC Championships, which her team won.

Overgaard vented to a good friend in Spokane about how she was going to have to give up the project. Her friend then spoke to her aunt, who wrote a $7,000 grant, and Overgaard was back to work, able to follow Dellis to London. After that, the project came out of her parents’ and her own pockets.

She just finished work at Bloom restaurant in Moscow and is moving to Boise.

“It got more expensive in licensing,” Overgaard said. “(Dellis) gave ‘TedTalks,’ was on ‘Oprah,’ ‘The Today Show’ and ‘National Geographic.’ ”

She had to pay to use the material, as well as pay for film festival entries and to burn her film to Blu-ray discs. She hopes to enter it in 10 to 15 film festivals.

“It ended up being so much bigger than I thought it would be,” Overgaard said. “As I went to London, I was filming with these professionals and famous memory champions. The more I worked on it, the more I loved it. I had total freedom.”

Overgaard said her proudest moment with camera in hand, was when she strolled down the street with Dellis in downtown Miami. Intimidated by a man who had just been interview by CNN a week prior, Overgaard spontaneously asked him to memorize license plates of parked cars for two blocks.

“It ends up being so cool, and totally fascinating,” said Overgaard, who used the scene in her film.

Overgaard’s film “Ace of Diamonds” will play 7 p.m. Dec. 11 in the UI Administration Building Auditorium.

The film follows Dellis during the World Memory Championships and his climb up Mount Everest, as an attempt to raise awareness for his “Climb For Memory” foundation, which generates money for Alzheimer’s research. The film is free and open to the public, and both Dellis and Overgaard will speak at the showing.

“I never wanted to do documentary at all. It kind of fell into my lap,” Overgaard said. “It’s so expensive, such a struggle, things go wrong, but in the end, once I have a final product, it’s the best feeling in the world.”

Exercise your brain muscle
Dellis claims anyone is capable of having a memory similar to his – it just takes practice. Here’s some tips he shared during a lecture, and with Brain World Magazine.
  • Exercise – the physical kind. It’s good for circulation. Your hippocampus grows if you are active, and this system helps with memory.
  • Eat well. Dellis eats food with antioxidants, such as fruits and vegetables with bold colors. He eats salmon and sardines, a food with DHA, an omega-3 fatty acid found in the brain and retina. He takes DHA supplements, too.
  • Stay mentally engaged. Practice active brain challenges, such as puzzles.
  • Have a supportive core of family and friends. Social well being is important, too.
  • Memorize something. First, take what you’re going to memorize and turn that into a picture in your mind. Once you have that picture, use a memory palace: Take a location you know very well, one you walk through maybe everyday, and choose a familiar path through it. Walk through the place in your head and place the pictures you’ve memorized in those specific places. Later, you will recall them in your memory palace walk-through.
As seen in Dec. 5 issue of Inland 360

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Appetizing artwork

Lindsey Treffry,

Hungry customers open the door into the foyer of Roosters WaterFront Restaurant and are faced with a snack machine. It’s an odd sight for patrons about to satisfy their cravings.
Art sits inside the metal rings of Vincent Art à la Carte, a snack machine that sells art from 15 Lewiston-Clarkston artists. Vincent is located inside Clarkston's Roosters WaterFront Restaurant.

But this snack machine isn’t selling overpriced junk food. Instead of potato chips, licorice and diet soda, pieces of watercolor, fiber art, pottery and jewelry sit in the metal loops of the machine.

It is called Vincent Art à la Carte and was created by Clarkston’s Nancy Morrison. She was inspired by the concept of Art-O-Mats, or retired cigarette machines that sell art pieces for a set price.

An old Art-O-Mat lives inside Washington State University’s Compton Union Building with pack-sized art pieces that sell for $5.

“I noticed those, and they had a good start on the idea, but you can’t see the product,” Morrison said.
So, Vincent — short for Vincent van Gogh — has his art pieces on display, except for those hidden behind the first in line, which customers try to peek past anyway. Morrison has to clean the glass weekly due to smeared fingerprints.

“The point of this, more than making money, is to get local artists’ artwork out where it can see the light of day,” said Morrison, who filled Vincent’s slots with work from 15 Lewiston-Clarkston Valley artists. “The kind of people that are going to put artwork in a snack machine, they’re not the ones that are so full of themselves that they have to have a museum or gallery. They are people that love to make art, that love to create.”

Morrison is an artist, too, and because she doesn’t currently charge consignment, she instead sells her own mixed media art to make a bit of profit.

Nancy Morrison stands next to her snack machine dubbed Vincent Art à la Carte, which sells art from 15 Lewiston-Clarkston artists. An artist herself, Morrison was inspired by Art-O-Mats to sell the artwork inside Roosters WaterFront Restaurant in Clarkston.
Customers can read about whose art is in each slot. Art ranges from $2-$35, and children’s jewelry art projects located in the bottom of the machine, cost $2.

Since the mid-October installation, Morrison estimates that 20 pieces have sold.

Kelsey Grafton is one of the artists featured behind Vincent’s glass. She’s selling her original watercolor paintings of owl scenes.

“It’s a way to generate a buying atmosphere and art awareness throughout the valley in a unique form,” Grafton said. “The products should be changing out all the time, so if you don’t see the one you want, it’s always worth a look.”

For now, Vincent accepts cash up to $20, and gives back $1 coins for change.

Morrison had a sensor installed to ensure pieces won’t stick and money isn’t wasted on a caught piece of art. If the piece doesn’t drop, customers get a second chance to press the button, as an attempt to release the piece again. If all else fails, Morrison’s phone number is on the machine, but she’s never gotten a call.

Vincent has a sister, too. Georgia — short for Georgia O’Keefe — lives in Morrison’s backyard, and with enough artist interest, Morrison said she’ll start looking for Georgia’s Moscow home. Interested artists can contact her via email at

In the meantime, Morrison is still working to improve Vincent. Her goal is to have scannable QR codes near the artwork, so people can look pieces up online before purchasing, and to learn more about each artist.

“And with so much variety in the machine,” she said, “I haven’t had to ask for any more artwork yet.”

As seen in Nov. 28 issue of Inland 360.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Crying fowl: Inland 360 staff tastes vegan version of popular Thanksgiving staple

Lindsey Treffry,

Turkey is the most popular dish for Americans on Thanksgiving. About 46 million turkeys were killed for the occasion in 2011. For some, there is a no-kill option, though: Tofurky Roast. So, the Inland 360 staff was put to the test. Being the meat-lovers they are, it’s no surprise they were skeptics of a roast free of animal products. But what’s a little “meat” without the tryptophan? Well, results may vary:
Tofurkey. Gobble or gag?
Is that how it comes, in just a little box?” said news editor Jeanne DePaul, holding the empty cardboard from which the roast came — once frozen and wrapped in plastic.

Photographer Barry Kough, who refused to partake in testings, said it looked like a wheat bun.

A lift of the foil, revealing the roast, resulted in an upturned nose. Managing editor Doug Bauer lifted a trash can and motioned toward copy editor Craig Clohessy, the leeriest of the group. Cooked in soy sauce and oil, with sweet potatoes and onions in the oven, the Tofurky’s center exposed a wild rice stuffing once cut. Slices were handed to each staffer in the group.

It’s kind of an interesting texture,” said graphics editor Brian Beesley, who took the first bite. “I mean, it’s a little bit like turkey and it tastes like turkey … It’d be really good if it had brown gravy slathered over the top.”

Clohessy, who looked ill, said it reminded him of grade school lunches, when children were fed what was supposed to be turkey, but was really “mystery meat.”
Tofurkey. Gobble or gag?
It has the consistency of fat,” he said.

Despite enjoying the wild rice stuffing, production editor Julie Breslin said there was no turkey flavor in the roast, and worse — it squeaked in her mouth when she chewed.

But there were some fans of the dish, too.

A tofu lover, DePaul said the soy-based roast tasted like turkey and gravy.

The tofu itself, not great,” Doug Bauer said. “The overall dish, OK … If you get a bite of everything together, it’s pretty palatable.”

But some just didn’t see the point.

If you want to eat turkey, why not just eat turkey?” Clohessy said.

Breslin agreed.

The Roast was served up with onions and sweet potatoes.
If you’re a vegetarian, why are you trying to eat turkey?” she said.

DePaul argued the whole point of Tofurky is because vegetarians don’t want to eat the animal.

You’re trying to join in and have something to slice at the table,” she said.

Some still weren’t convinced: “Why don’t you just eat a *bleeping* salad?” said photographer Steve Hanks, who only tried a smear of the roast from his fingertip after accidentally touching it during the photoshoot.

You couldn’t fool your family,” said reporter Jennifer Bauer, who was once a vegetarian for 13 years.

Doug Bauer joked that serving the meat substitute would be a good way to test how good of friends you have. 

That wouldn’t substitute as a Thanksgiving turkey for anyone,” DePaul said.

All the plates were wiped clean, other than Clohessy’s, and the Tofurky exceeded most tester’s expectations. For Thanksgiving, though, the staff will stick to their roots.

This is going to make that real turkey taste all the better,” Doug Bauer said.

What’s Tofurky made of?

Tofurky Roast comes round, wrapped in plastic in a cardboard box. Roasts can be found at the Moscow Food Co-Op or in the Huckleberry's section of Rosauers.
Roast: Water, vital wheat gluten, organic tofu (water, organic soybeans, magnesium chloride, calcium chloride), shoyu soy sauce (water, non-GMO soybeans, wheat, salt, culture), expeller pressed non-GMO canola oil, natural vegan flavors, non-GMO corn starch, garbanzo bean flour, white bean flour, lemon juice from concentrate, onion, carrot, celery, vegan sugar, calcium lactate from beets, sea salt.

Stuffing: Organic brown rice, whole wheat bread cubes (enriched wheat flour, water, organic sugar, sea salt, yeast), onion celery, water, organic wild rice, expeller pressed non-GMO canola oil, natural vegan flavors, garlic, salt, vegan sugar, spices and tumeric (added for color).

How do I make vegan gravy?
Try a mushroom gravy, such as the one recommended on the Tofurky box.

Ingredients: 8 oz. sliced mushrooms, 1/4 cup sliced onions, 1-1/2 Tbsp. oil, 1/2 cup unbleached white flour, 2 Tbsp. oil, 4 cups vegetable stock or soymilk, 1 Tbsp. soy sauce, 1/4 tsp. black pepper.

Directions: Lightly saute the sliced mushrooms and onions in the 1-1/2 Tbsp. oil. In another pan, combine and bubble the flour and 2 Tbsp. oil together over low heat for 1 minute. Whisk in the stock or soymilk along with the soy sauce and black pepper. Cook until thickened, whisking out any lumps. Stir in the mushrooms and onions, and serve.

What vegan dishes can I serve on the side?
Cook a butternut squash, topped with a bit of oil and brown sugar. Or, try the same with acorn squash. Most cranberry sauces are safe, just be sure gelatin isn’t one of the ingredients: It’s collagen extracted from the skins, bones and tissues of farm animals. Roast some carrots, with maple syrup, oil and fennel seeds in the oven. Rolls and bread are an easy addition, just read the ingredients before buying — most are OK, but some include buttermilk, butter or eggs. 

As seen in the Nov. 29 issue of Inland 360.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

EDM dominates the music scene

EDM is all over the radio. It can be heard in dance clubs, at national music festivals, such as Paradiso or Freaknight, and on college campuses.
Nick "DJ CnDyCain" Cain plays dance music Nov. 9 at CJ's in Moscow.

Popularized by artists such as Calvin Harris, Deadmau5 and David Guetta, EDM, or electronic dance music, is beat-driven music produced for dance-based entertainment.

“There’s a huge demand for it,” said Moscow deejay Nick Cain, or CnDyCain, who produced a documentary on EDM for his Dance 100 class at the University of Idaho. “It’s a passion, because it’s very upbeat, and very positive lyrically.”

Cain mainly deejays at CJ’s Nightclub in Moscow, but with his EDM-heavy beats, his deejaying has grown in demand.

“I’m booking gigs every other week at CJ’s, as well as at private events on campus,” said Cain who has performed on both the UI and WSU campuses.

Jacob Farris, WSU Student Entertainment Board director, said he hears people listening to EDM on campus and playing hits at parties.

From a booth overlooking the dance floor, Nick "DJ CnDyCain" Cain plays dance music Nov. 9 at CJ's in Moscow.

“People are getting more into the music,” Farris said. “My freshman year of college, it was starting to become more popular, and now that I’m a senior, more people are listening to it.”

By the mid-1990s, producers were able to create EDM-based music after the introduction of MIDI interfaces and personal computers, but it wasn’t until the early 2000s that sound manipulation progressed and computer software technology was advanced enough to allow EDM studios just about anywhere.

With EDM growing in popularity, Farris said, it was a great opportunity for the entertainment board to expand the musical genres it offers for concerts. In early October, 3LAU, or Justin Blau, performed at WSU, and Adventure Club performed Oct. 29.

Farris previously saw Adventure Club live at Paradiso Festival in the Gorge Amphitheater and said there was a large turnout.

Cain attended Paradiso this year, too, as well as the festivals Lucky and Massive. He said EDM festivals are often stereotyped as having a lot of drug use (see accompanying story below).

“But I’ve had good experiences at every fest I’ve been to,” he said.

Everybody Cain met was polite, he said.

“You’re with 23,000 people. If someone (accidentally) punches you in the back of the head, the guy has a look of shock … He apologizes and you chat with him for two or three minutes,” said Cain, laughing.

But EDM has a home at more than just festivals. Cain deejayed at a WSU residence hall for a back-to-school mixer, and CJ’s Nightclub is host to hundreds of EDM fans each weekend.

“Mainly what got me into deejaying was that music,” Cain said. “At CJ’s, it’s a balance of playing the hip hop and top 30 songs, and the upbeat, hotter tracks that EDM has, too.”

The Zzu Bar and Grill manager Alfredo Bautista, though, said his DJs stick with top 40s, not EDM.
With a shortage of EDM at Pullman’s only dance club, fans flooded Adventure Club’s WSU performance. Tickets sold out within the first week of the student-only event. 

As far as small concerts supported by the UI’s Vandal Entertainment, no EDM groups are scheduled.
“I’m a little jealous I don’t have the opportunity to go see (Adventure Club),” Cain said. “I see Pullman making more and more of a pull, and I really wish UI would follow suit.”

While EDM has made waves locally, it seems that EDM addicts may have to settle for traveling to national festivals or Spokane — which is host to Morgan Page’s 3D Visual Experience on Saturday — to get their fix. 

“It’s a change in what kind of music people are listening to,” Farris said. “You have your typical hip hop, rock. Our generation is getting more influence into this music.”

WSU graduate Patrick Witkowski, 21, died after a brain hemorrhage from supposed MDMA consumption at the late June festival, Paradiso. MDMA is an empathogenic drug, known as ecstasy, or now popularly dubbed “Molly.” In the coroner’s report last week, though, autopsy results finally revealed that his death was related to methamphetamine, not Molly.

Chelan County Coroner Wayne Harris said he had been working on the assumption the death was due to an MDMA overdose, but the results showed Witkowski died of organ failure due to a combination of dehydration, heat and meth intoxication.

Witkowski was one of more than 70 Paradiso attendees who had been treated at Quincy Valley Medical Center during a three-day span, and between 40 and 50 of those cases involved alcohol or drug abuse, hospital spokeswoman Michele Wurl told the Moscow-Pullman Daily News in July.

At the Electric Zoo EDM festival in New York this September, three people died from Molly-induced dehydration, according to Seattle Weekly, resulting in cancellation of the event’s last day.

“The drug’s appeal is the euphoria it produces, which users often say makes the feeling of togetherness and the intensity of EDM much greater at raves,” Seattle Weekly reported on Oct. 16. “The problem is, the drug is often cut with other substances like methamphetamine, ketamine and PMMA, a cheap cousin of MDMA with less euphoric effect but more of the toxicity that can result in deadly hyperthermia.”

What does EDM sound like?
You’ve probably heard it if you’ve ever been in a dance club: The deejay segues from one song or record to the next with a synchronized beat, hopefully in a seamless transition. But what’s the difference between dubstep, techno, house music and EDM? While some say EDM is the same as all the genres listed above, some call them subgenres of EDM, and others separate it completely. It seems, no one really knows how to describe what music fits in the category, but here’s a few EDM genres broken down by the website, EDM Sauce:

360 EMD-WSUparty LaserShow-StockImageHOUSE: Known as the most ‘human’ sounding music of all genres, it’s often heard in Top 40 mixes, by artists such as Daft Punk or Tiesto.
TRANCE: Trance uses melodic tunes and repetitive synthesizer progressions. It’s usually played between 125 to 150 beats per minute.
TECHNO: Sometimes used interchangeably with EDM, techno is generally a repetitive beat in common time, using drum machines, snyths and digital workstations.
DUBSTEP: A production using strong bass lines, drum patterns and occasional vocals, dubstep was made famous by artists such as Skrillex, and is a bit more aggressive than techno.

As seen in the Nov. 14 issue of Inland 360.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Who is Heart?: WSU director of engineering remembers their live studio performance

Lindsey Treffry,

In 1976, Don Peters didn’t know who Heart was.
Associated Press Ann Wilson, left, and Nancy Wilson of the band Heart pose together at the "Who Shot Rock and Roll" photo exhibition opening at the Annenberg Space for Photography on Thursday June 21, 2012 in Los Angeles. I had never heard of the group before,” said Peters, a crew member for “Second Ending” a show that featured a few concerts each month at Washington State University’s KWSU-TV studio. “We got them to come over and record a concert in our studios. They got here and I thought, ‘Man, these guys are good.’”

Produced and directed by Michael Costones, “Second Ending” would air on stations across the Northwest. Heart signed on to perform the show, and a live studio audience was on site.

Heart’s “Dreamboat Annie,” which led to the band’s breakthrough later that year, was yet to be released, but the band performed hits such as “Magic Man” and “Crazy On You.”

I was running video, setting up the cameras, and shooting and adjusting to the different light conditions,” said Peters, who is now director of engineering for the Edward R. Murrow College of Communication at WSU.

A screen grab from the 1976 KWSU live studio performance.Camera operators had to press their earsets tight to their heads to hear director’s orders, and Peters said despite being in the control room, he could feel the bass through the floor.

The band featured lead singer Ann Wilson and her sister, Nancy Wilson, guitarist. Guitarist Roger Fisher, drummer Michael Derosier and guitarist, bassist and synth player Howard Leese joined them in the recording.

A woman rocker fronting a band was kind of new to me,” Peters said. “Ann’s voice was just tremendous.”

Peters said it still blows him away that Heart even considered playing at WSU during the band’s break-out year.

You never know who you’ll come in contact with,” Peters said. “The band — they’re good, but you didn’t know how good at the time.”

Video of the 1976 studio performance can be seen on Heart’s 2012 retrospective collection “Strange Euphoria,” a DVD and four-CD set.

The Wilson sisters return to Pullman, playing at 7:30 p.m. Friday at the Beasley Coliseum.

As seen in the Oct. 10 issue of Inland 360.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

The strength of the feminine: Lewiston artist paints images of women, creates mosaics

Lindsey Treffry,

Jaymee Laws has been painting women for 20 years, not only because she says they are the perfect vehicle to convey emotion, but because of circumstances in her own life.
Jaymee Laws' “Amphitrite” depicts the wife of Poseidon, octopus-like, and full of strength, beauty and mystery, Laws said.
A 41-year-old mother of five, Laws has had to find creative solutions in both her art and her day-to-day tasks, being that two of her children are autistic and she works from home. Painting strong, beautiful women is her “thing.”

“And also because we live in a misogynistic culture and women are really important,” Laws said. “I was always interested in feminism and women’s history. I have four daughters, and so just women, in general, are in my life.”

Laws will show nine paintings of women, two mixed media paintings and four mosaic pieces as part of Lewiston’s Downtown Art Walk at the Blue Lantern Coffee House and Wine Bar.

“The women themselves are painted in a realistic style with surrealistic surroundings,” Laws said. “I incorporate a lot of natural elements. For instance, I do a lot with water or birds or trees, and also dream-like qualities.”
Jaymee Laws

Her piece “Amphitrite” depicts the wife of Poseidon, octopus-like, and full of strength, beauty and mystery, she said.

“That used to be pretty much all I did — was paint women — and I do mosaic on the side, but now I’m trying to blend them together,” Laws said.

Laws recently has incorporated mosaic and stained glass, as well as wood pieces, into her work. Some pieces are solely mosaic.

Laws spends a chunk of her time on a 110-year-old, third-generation home where she, her children and husband reside. A stone mosaic floor in the dining room resembles a rug, while a floral mosaic covers the kitchen door.
“Little by little, I just am making the entire house into an art project,” Laws said. “I’m making something everyday. That’s a huge part of my life … Even if I’m not painting paintings, I’m doing something artistic.”

Laws’ artwork has spilled outside the house onto the garage.
Jaymee Laws, a painter and mixed media artist who will be featured during Downtown Art Walk, painted this garden mural during the summer in her alleyway for people to enjoy while driving by.
Jaymee Laws, a painter and mixed media artist who will be featured during Downtown Art Walk, painted this garden mural during the summer in her alleyway for people to enjoy while driving by.“I painted this garden mural this summer just in my alleyway for people to enjoy when they drive by,” she said.

While Laws spends a lot of time doing art near home, she does have to be realistic with how her time is spent.

“Art is something that I have to do to be whole. It’s part of my soul just to make things,” Laws said. “But it’s also had to take a backseat to mothering.”

Laws said her children are demanding, but in a good way. Luckily, Laws said, her husband Jim — a drummer in the band 7 Devils — helps her go with the flow and is there to support the family.

“I find it pretty amazing how (Laws) finds the time to still be creative and produce so much beautiful artwork,” said Blue Lantern owner Dawn Abbott, who has helped set up the exhibit.
Laws has little time to actively sell her pieces, but said the Art Walk pieces will be for sale, ranging from $75 to $500, depending on size.

“I love that we’re having an Art Walk. And I love the increase in art and interest in art that’s happening in this Valley,” Laws said. “I grew up here, and I did move away for a while, and I moved back. It’s something that I always wanted to see here. The draw of a bigger city is the cultural aspect of it and the appreciation for more enlightened interests. It’s really exciting to see that here.”

As seen in the Sept. 19 issue of Inland 360.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Ghosts in the goodbye sky

Lindsey Treffry, Inland360

Kristin Carlson Becker built her downtown Moscow in three weeks.

She poured her foundation after assisting in a lesson at Palouse Prairie School, and hammered the framing after viewing old photos of buildings. Walls and insulation grew higher after she drew more than 12 buildings. She built a still incomplete downtown through screen printing, which included her representations of the Moscow Hotel, the Moscow National Bank Building and more.
Becker's drawing of the Moscow Hotel shows a contrasted light white and blue above the building to show what once stood years ago.

Becker’s collection, “Good(bye) Buildings,” is a series of screen prints and postcards spurred by her love of architecture. After helping complete an art and history project last year with Lizzie Bromley-Vogel’s first grade class, Becker was inspired to create a collection of art that featured local buildings as they stand now, with a tinge of their past.

Becker puts her own twist on buildings, and emphasizes the part that she enjoys.

“I’m attracted to color and I’m attracted to typography,” said Becker, who took the liberty to enlarge the “Drugs” sign on the Hodgins Drug Store building.

For her adaptation of the Holt Block and Casa Lopez building, the right-handed artist decided to draw left-handed and use only two colors. The McConnell building doesn’t have “Mingles” written on it, but you’ll find an image of a shark holding a pool stick on a ground-level window.

Kristin Carlson Becker's "Good(bye) Buildings" Moscow artwork is on display in the Moscow Yoga Center, as seen Aug. 8.
Playing with history, Becker’s Kenworthy Performing Arts Centre print is half black and white and half green, to compare the old brick with the current tile siding. Her Storm Cellar corner has a historical light-blue gas station in the sky above the building as it stands now.
Becker received an undergraduate degree in photography from the Rhode Island School of Design, where the state’s old architecture and decay caught her eye.

Becker said the dilapidation of a building can be the most beautiful part.

“Overall, it’s better if they’re rehabilitated … but making the prints is a way for me to preserve that presentation,” Becker said.

Becker went on to receive her Master of Fine Arts in printmaking at Indiana University, which led her to draw, stencil and then screen print not only Moscow buildings, but ones in both Rhode Island and Indiana.
“I work from drawing on semi-transparent paper — a frosted acetate,” said Becker, who moved to Moscow about three years ago with her husband and now teaches as a Washington State University adjunct professor.

Becker moved to Moscow without ever having seen the town.

“I was looking for the most iconic, funny and unusual thing,” said Becker, who found the City of Moscow Water Department Building to be just that.

She drew the water building. Then, after the first grade class project, and in preparation for the Moscow ArtWalk, Becker branched out to draw and print the other Moscow buildings in three weeks.

“I have to live in a place for a while before I want to make a place,” Becker said. “I have to build a relationship with the buildings over time.”

Most of her prints are about 11-by-14 inches. Some of her prints are the size of a postcard — more for collecting than sending, Becker said.

Becker’s artwork is on the walls of a Moscow Yoga Center hallway, in correlation with the buildings’ locations on Main Street. Some of the artwork done by Palouse Prairie students is displayed, too. To view her artwork, visit or, or visit the Moscow Yoga Center during operating hours. To purchase her artwork, visit

As seen in the Aug. 15 issue of Inland 360.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Dunn with the duo, ready to solo

Lindsey Treffry,

Brooks & Dunn have long since parted, yet Ronnie Dunn has found himself stuck in the past.

Ronnie Dunn will perform Thursday, Aug. 15, at the Clearwater River Casino Event Center.
After pressure to come out with a solo record during a 2011 tour, Dunn said he entered the performing world without Kix Brooks and no one knew who he was.
Going from a duo to solo act wasn’t as easy as he had thought it would be.

Dunn had booked a show through a top U.S. radio consultant to play in Baltimore.

“I was shocked when I got there,” the country musician said. “People didn’t know who I was until I started singing a Brooks & Dunn song.”

“What I had to do if I was going to pull it off was to take the mindset,” he said, that he would have had if he was starting from scratch.

His first album, “Ronnie Dunn,” came out June 7, 2011, via Sony’s Arista Nashville label. After leaving his deal at the Sony record label in June 2012, Dunn stepped up as a record executive for his own label, Little Will-E Records. He is planning to release his second solo album “Country This” in November.

Praise for singles from that new album is strong, with the lead single “Kiss You There” as the highest testing song on Sirius XM Radio.

“I just got an email today that it made the Top 10 USA Today top tracks right behind Pitbull,” Dunn said on July 31.

Although Dunn said it’s been difficult to market himself as “Ronnie Dunn” and not “Dunn from Brooks & Dunn,” his first solo album while at Sony still had many successes.

“Bleed Red” reached into the Top 10 on the country charts, before Dunn said his team decided to pull it from the radio.

“We reached our goal and decided not to push our luck with radio … and then move forward with ‘Cost of Livin’,’” Dunn said.

Dunn said the reception to “Cost of Livin’” threw him a for curve.

“‘Cost of Livin’’ ended up with two Grammy nominations,” said Dunn, who co-wrote the song about an ex-military man looking for work.

Dunn has also recorded for Sammy Hagar, toured with ZZ Top and The Rolling Stones, and collaborated with artists such as Merle Haggard, Johnny Cash and Reba McEntire.

“We’re just going to stay under the radar, play smaller fun venues, do this campaign, put a second record together,” Dunn said. “It took a year and half to wind down the Sony thing and get free of that, regroup and come back out. It’s the first attempt to stage that comeback.”

And Dunn said he looks forward to performing at the Clearwater River Casino Event Center in Lewiston, where he has never traveled.

He said he will play music off his two solo albums and some Brooks & Dunn hits, as well as lesser known Brooks & Dunn music.

“It’s a full-blown show, it’s the whole deal, it’s the whole shebang,” Dunn said.

Dunn will perform at 7:30 p.m. Aug. 15. General admission tickets are $25, while reserved tickets are $40, $60 and $75. Tickets can be purchased at the Event Center box office, online at or by calling (800) 325-SEAT.

As seen in the Aug. 8 issue of Inland 360.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Turner travels West

Josh Turner will never forget the first time he drove through Idaho.

“I was in the car by myself and was actually intimidated by the vast, open space,” said the bass and baritone country singer.

Country singer Josh Turner performs Sunday
at the Clearwater River Casino Events Center.
Growing up in South Carolina, he was accustomed to lush, green land filled with palm trees, so the drive near Snake River canyon was new and beautiful to him.

“I went up toward McCall and Lewiston and all of that, and it was one of the most breathtaking drives I’ve been on,” he said.

Now, Turner is returning to Idaho, but not just for a summertime cruise. The Grammy, Country Music Association and Academy of Country Music Awards nominee will be playing at 7 p.m. Sunday in the sold-out Clearwater River Casino Event Center. And unlike his drive through Idaho, this past year has been a wild one.

“It’s been a great year. The ‘Punching Bag’ record came out a year ago, last summer,” Turner said. “Shortly after that, I had a live record come out … We capped the year off with ‘Time is Love’ being the biggest song in 2012. We’ve been kind of riding on the high of that.”

Billboard rated the hit No. 1 for U.S. country songs in 2012, but it wasn’t the first time Turner had reached high on the charts. “Why Don’t We Just Dance” ended at No. 3 in 2010, and in the same year, “All Over Me” ended at No. 4. While “Your Man” didn’t end the year as a top country hit, it did reach No. 1 early in 2006, and was Turner’s first No. 1 of his career, followed by the multi-week chart topper, “Would You Go With Me.”

Turner became the second youngest Grand Ole Opry member, following Carrie Underwood, in 2007.

All the while, Turner has been married to his wife, Jennifer, and the two have had three sons — Hampton, Colby and Marion — all born between 2006 and 2010. His love of family is evident in his music video, “I Wouldn’t Be A Man,” which Turner said was his favorite one to film.

“Because my wife was in that video with me,” Turner said. “We revealed the fact that she was pregnant in the end of the video and that was the way we revealed it to the world. Instead of in a press release, we did it in a video.”

Now, Turner said he’s been working hard on the road.

“And toward the next record, honestly,” he said. “I’ve just been writing a lot.”

Two weeks ago, Turner was at the five-day CMA Music Festival, and said he was glad to know it’s over, being the busiest week of 2013.

Turner said his crew is traveling west, more than they ever have.

“Usually we may only go one time, maybe two at the most,” Turner said. “We’re going west three times this year. That’ll give me a chance to play for my fans out west a little bit more.”

Turner said the Clearwater River Casino audience will get a great sounding show and because Turner brings his own crew and set, it will look good, too.

“We worked up a brand new show for the year,” Turner said.

He promised a performance that none of his fans have seen before.
-If you go:
WHAT: Josh Turner performs
WHEN: 7 p.m. Sunday
WHERE: Clearwater River Casino Event Center
COST: Sold out

Turner answered fan questions from the Inland360 Facebook page.
Turner answered fan questions
from the Inland360 Facebook page.
You Asked, Josh Answered
Josh Turner fans had an opportunity to ask questions by posting inquires on Inland 360’s Facebook page. Here’s what Turner had to say:
Q: If he could do a duet with anyone, who would he choose? Does Idaho remind him of home? -Kelsey Saintz
A: “I’ve done a lot of duets already whether it was on a record or just on stage. One thing that I’ve never really made happen yet is actually singing with Randy Travis on one of my records. I was part of a duet record he did last year, on one of his records celebrating his 20 years. That to me would be really cool for me, because he was the one that inspired me in the first place.” … “It’s as different from home as can be. That’s why I like it though.”

Q: Who are his top 3 favorite music artists? -Jake Wykes
A: I’d have to say five. Randy Travis, Vern Gosdin, John Anderson, Johnny Cash and Hank Williams.

As seen in the June 20 issue of Inland360.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Punk rock pair finds love in Lewiston

Lindsey Treffry |

Mandi Jordan used to have a huge crush on Nathan Golla.

Now she’s Mandi Golla and her admiration obviously turned to love, which may be due to their combined interest in music and tattoos.

Nathan and Mandi Golla, of the band
The Khind, perform together and co-own
Crimson Reign Tattoo in Lewiston.
“We knew each other back in high school, and we were friends, and she used to come to the concerts and watch us play,” said Nathan, a member of Lewiston’s hard rock band The Khind.

While it never worked out in high school, Mandi found Nathan years later on Myspace from California, struck up a conversation and surprised him one day on his Lewiston doorstep.

“Yeah, it was a total surprise,” Nathan said. “We were inseparable ever since she moved (back) here.”
After high school, Mandi had left for California, and spent eight years studying tattooing, body piercing, acting, modeling and music.

“I started out in the underground punk scene when I was about 19 down in L.A.,” Mandi said. “I was trained by old school punk rockers on how to play.”

She trained under a tattoo artist, who handed her a bass guitar and told her she needed to be a rock star.
“I practiced playing bass 12 to 14 hours a day for months to months on end and then I got hired to play for Yoshiki Hayashi and the band Violet UK,” Mandi said.

The Tokyo Dome hosted 50,000 people each night she played for three nights in a row, she said.

“There’s people that have played their whole life that have never played the Tokyo Dome,” Nathan said. “And here we have Mandi, at 30, that’s played the Tokyo Dome three nights in a row. As a musician, I’d be like, I could quit, I could die the next day and feel happy about that.”

So it was no surprise upon Mandi’s return in 2009 that Nathan’s band, The Khind, opened their arms to her. At the time, Nathan had been balancing guitar with lead vocals.

“I didn’t feel like I was doing either of them justice, so we were definitely looking for a singer. And at the point she came back, it was pretty much perfect timing,” Nathan said.

Mandi was thrilled when The Khind asked her to try out as lead vocalist, because she had followed the band since it’s formation in 1996. The band also includes bass player Brian Ochoa and drummer David “Chip” Clifford.

“The guys were hesitant about having my girlfriend at the time being the singer, just because we all know how those politics work out,” Nathan said.

But once they found out Nathan and Mandi were on the marriage fast-track — and they heard Mandi sing — Ochoa and Clifford welcomed a new member.

Nathan describes The Khind’s music as heavy, diverse and dynamic, while Mandi said she works to enunciate her singing, or melodic screaming, she calls it.

“There’s something about the way we do (music) that makes it a little more accessible than just someone screaming and flailing on the drums the whole time,” Nathan said. “We’ve been called too heavy for the light crowd and too light for the heavy crowd. And they said that as a bad thing, but that sounds like a niche area where we can thrive.”

In 2010, Mandi and Nathan bought an old tattoo shop, remodeled it and opened Lewiston’s Crimson Reign Tattoo, 326 1/2 Main St.

“Mandi runs the shop,” said Nathan, who also runs a recording studio out of their house and teaches guitar and bass lessons at Seidel Music and Repair. “We both invested in the (tattoo) shop and started it together, but she definitely is the one that’s pulling the ropes around there and making things happen. On the flip side of that, we both do the band, too, but that’s kind of my area.”

Nathan said Mandi’s private studio and her tattoo work has a lot of attitude — a punk rock attitude.
“It’s really bright and bold and colorful,” Nathan said of her tattoo designs. “The kind of stuff you can see from across the parking lot.”

Mandi said tattooing and music have worked well together.

“That’s one of the reasons I got into it,” Mandi said. “All of my musician buddies always need a tattoo. It’s a lifestyle.”

Some day, she said she’d love to have a tattoo station inside a tour bus, where she can tattoo fans with a hidden anarchy symbol, which is a way Mandi has signed her fan’s skin in the past.

Touring is a dream that Nathan shares, too.

“We want to get as big as we can and share our music with as many people as possible,” Nathan said.

The Khind plans to release a CD in late August called “Chaotic Symmetry,” but in the meantime Nathan said they will be releasing a five-song EP dubbed “EPicist,” which can be streamed online at or

On Saturday, The Khind will play at The Hop in Spokane, and by that time, Nathan said they hope to have released a hard-copy of “EPicist.”

While Nathan and Mandi work together every day, they do fight.

“We were jokingly arguing about finding our socks,” Nathan said.

But matching black socks are the extent of their conflicts.

“Surprisingly, with as much time as we spend together … we really don’t have issues,” Nathan said. “It doesn’t even feel like a professional and a personal relationship, it just feels kind of one and the same. We’re on the same page, communication-wise. We never really had to work on getting it there. That’s why it’s always felt right. It just feels the way it should be.”

-If you go:
WHAT: The Khind performs
WHEN: 7 p.m. Saturday
WHERE: The Hop, 706 N. Monroe St., Spokane
COST: $10
NOTE: All ages, full bar available for those over 21 with ID

As seen in June 13 issue of Inland360.

A fabulous flashback: Moscow band celebrates 30 years of music

Lindsey Treffry | Inland360

Matching bowling shirts, a retro Harley Davidson motorcycle keyboard, flashing lights, reverberating amps and the electric slide may evoke the ‘80s, and so do The Fabulous Kingpins, a Moscow band celebrating its 30th anniversary Saturday.

Founded by Cliff Miller, Bill Willoby, Mark Lamoureux, Dale Keeney and John Colby, the band has been through many  transitions, but Miller and Keeney said the band is still going strong.

From left to right, Cliff Miller, Bill Willoby, Mark Lamoureux,
Dale Keeney, and John Colby made up the original Kingpins
in 1983. The Fabulous Kingpins are celebrating their
30th anniversary Saturday at Mingles Bar and Grill.
“Thirty years ago when I started this, I was a young guy,” said Miller, the lead singer and saxophonist, who was 20 at the time.

Keeney, the drummer, was 30.

“The reason why this works is both him and I wanted to be in a band since we were boys,” Keeney said. “When we found a partner that wanted to be in a band, we were already living the dream.”

The dream began when Miller got his saxophone serviced at Keeney Bros. a few weeks after Keeney and Lamoureux had spawned the idea of forming a band. Miller tried out and made the cut.

“When it started, I think Mark (Lamoureux) had more of a vision of what he wanted to do, musically,” Miller said.

Keeney said Lamoureux liked blues-based music, but Miller said the ‘80s audience didn’t as much.
“So our initial set, I would not really call super audience friendly,” Miller said. “It was more of musician’s music to begin with.”

At that time, Miller said there were 28 bars in Moscow and 16 to 18 of those venues had live music.

“Live music was big big big business through the 1980s,” Keeney said. “Venues would have bands five, six, seven nights a week.”

Campuses constantly hired bands and Miller said the first Kingpins show was at a Washington State University fraternity.

“Music was everywhere,” Miller said. “For us, it was great.”

But what was once a constant string of cars down Main Street, emptied, as Idaho raised its drinking age to 21 and venues closed down.

“That business just crashed,” Keeney said.

MTV gained popularity and Keeney said people stayed at home to watch “live” music.

Because the audience was completely unfamiliar with the jazz and blues music they played, Keeney said the band had to find a way to make itself marketable.

Miller said he finally decided the band needed to do something “that’s more marketable, more appealing to the masses.”

Although there have been many members throughout the years, the current band has been stable since the late ‘90s. Bass player Randy Reis, singer and dancer Suzanne Piel Miller and guitar player James Dence signed on.

“Costuming became more important for us, a little bit of dance, a lot more actual crowd interaction than what we’d done,” said Miller, who introduced their bowling garb and 8-foot tall bowling pin decor. “And people love that.”

Dance music became their genre, and hits such as “Jessie’s Girl,” “Footloose” and band favorites, like AC/DC and The Rolling Stones, made their playlist.

“To be a musician on stage, for me, it’s more to be the drive of the party and actually be the reason why people come out and have a good time,” Miller said. “Going from the, ‘God, that was the best we ever played’ and people going, ‘Ehh,’ to playing something that everybody knows and people going berserk, I love that. You just feed on the energy that comes out of the crowd.”

The Kingpins often synchronize dance moves on stage and some of their sets can last four hours.

“Where we’re at now, is where I want to be. It’s more of a whole package for me and it really fulfills what I wanted to do and I think what everyone wants to do. We’re traveling a lot more than we ever have,” said Miller, who has traveled with the band from Seattle to Boise as well as Phoenix, Ariz.

Arbor Crest Winery in Spokane, is a favorite for Keeney, while both men love performing at Pullman’s Fourth of July show, which will happen again this year. The band plays two to three gigs each month.
The Fabulous Kingpins will play their anniversary show at 8 p.m. Saturday at Mingles Bar and Grill.

“People have said, ‘Are you ever going to retire from that?’ ‘Retire from what?’” Keeney would respond. “All I ever do is play music with my friends.”

The current band will also reunite with past members, who will play at the Saturday show.

“It’s been a good run, it’s been a lot of fun and I’ve still got a little bit longer left in me. We’ll see if the leather pants hold up when I’m 50,” Miller said. “At this point and time, we really enjoy what we do.”

-If you go:
WHAT: The Fabulous Kingpins 30th anniversary celebration, performance
WHEN: 8 p.m. Saturday
WHERE: Mingles Bar and Grill, 102 S. Main St., Moscow
COST: Free

As seen in June 13 issue of Inland360.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Big bark, no bite: Long-time chainsaw artists yap on love of dogs, sculpture

Lindsey  Treffry | Inland360

Toby is an abnormally sized beagle. 12 feet tall, to be exact. And for a while, he traveled. Three-thousand miles on a trailer, actually. People would travel miles to visit him, too — to see him sit outside Dog Bark Park.

Nearly 20 years later, Toby is surprisingly old for a dog of his stature. But not as big as the 30-foot-tall dog, Sweet Willy, who has overshadowed Toby for years, making him look like a mere puppy.

Frances Conklin consults Dennis Sullivan
about a carved dog in their Dog Bark Park shop.
Toby and Sweet Willy are just two of thousands of creations made by Dennis Sullivan and Frances Conklin, chainsaw artists and owners of Dog Bark Park and Inn in Cottonwood, Idaho.

Sullivan, 71, was a building contractor for 24 years and wanted to change careers. So, he started by hand carving wood with a knife and then moved onto using saws and chainsaws.

“I didn’t have any strong feelings to carve bears,” he said. “I wanted to separate myself.”

Sullivan likes dogs a lot, he said, and by 1985 he started carving dogs full-time. In 1995, he met Conklin at an art show, where she was showing some of her sewn work, the stars aligned and they fell in love.

“Running a sewing machine isn’t that different from chainsaw. Something is whirring around faster than you can see it,” Conklin said. “You learn to keep things away from it.”

Conklin said she did have to build a bit more muscle, but Sullivan said together, they’ve created approximately 35,000 pieces total — the sellable sizes at least.

Your basic dog begins with a log and a variety of different sized chainsaws. The most popular wood they use is Ponderosa pine.

“I tell people it starts with Ponderosa pine, but quickly turns to dogwood,” Sullivan joked.

They cut the pine log down to the appropriate size — a small or large dog. Small dogs are roughly 8 by 10 inches and 2 1/2 inches thick. Good for a desktop size, he said. Large dogs, not near the scale of Toby, are 6 inches thick and, depending on the breed, can range from 16 to 20 inches tall by 16 to 24 inches long.

Conklin specializes in the painting, because, Sullivan said, she has an artistic, light touch and paints to reflect the breed. Popular sellers include the beagle, Labrador retriever, Bernese Mountain dog and the golden retriever.

Each dog gets a brass license tag and a red cowboy bandana around their neck.

Other Dog Park Bark sculptures include, but are never limited to, concrete alphabet blocks, a totem pole, a carved wooden car, a 12-foot tall coffee pot, in which Sullivan hopes to house a coffee pot museum, and a toaster, which is 45 feet long, complete with a wooden plug and fake electrical port. The hard, wooden toast is removable.

“I leave it to others to determine if it’s art,” Sullivan said. “But it is sculpture.”
Sullivan said he never tires of it. And with all his fame, just maybe, neither does Toby.

-If you go
WHAT: Dog Bark Park and Inn Bed & Breakfast
WHERE: 2421 Business Highway 95, Cottonwood, Idaho
WHEN: 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. Monday through Sunday
COST: $98 per night double occupancy. Includes breakfast. $10 per additional person. Single occupancy is $92. Dog chainsaw sculpture prices range from $49 to $124 and can be purchased in person or at

As seen in May 23 issue of Inland360.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

From ruins to retirement: University of Idaho professor retires after 40 years

Lindsey Treffry | Inland360

David Giese has traveled in time. After 40 years of teaching — 36 at the University of Idaho — the man who creates ancient Roman ruins and discovers mythical monuments has finally decided to retire.

“It’s time to retire when you overhear your students having a conversation and you don’t know what the hell they’re talking about,” said Giese who plans to travel to Rome during its off-season.

Dean Hare |
David Giese stands with the grotto fountain
he built in his back yard for both personal enjoyment
and as an example of his work to prospective
clients on Monday, May 13, 2013, at his home in Moscow.
Giese claims to have discovered the remains of the fictitious Villa Bitricci, art pieces he created in the 1980s, while traveling in Northern Italy.

“I just thought of this kind of reconstructed version of history,” he said. “Because I tell these stories and incorporate real events, but I kind of twist them around so there’s a sense of humor about them.”

In Giese’s story, Villa Bitricci is the longest continuous private residence in Western civilization, where famous citizens and artists reside. Giese said the name, Villa Bitricci, came about when Dante’s mistress, Beatrice, was accused by an overzealous priest of being a witch and a harlot. She then fled Florence and sought sanctuary in the villa.

“And from that time forward it has always been called the Villa Bitricci,” Giese explained. “Bitricci is an endearment for Beatrice in the town.”

The pieces of Bitricci are composed of concrete, paint, flotage and mixed media. Giese said he usually starts by casting a flat, which takes two people. With the more recent help of his assistant, Noah Kroese, they create a wooden frame, staple on a propylene fiber, pour an expandable foam on the back of an open-mesh work and then stand on pieces of plywood wrapped in plastic.

“And so the foam expands and it creates the thickness, the depth of it, but it makes it quite lightweight. All of this decoration is kind of cast individually and then collaged onto the surface,” said Giese, who can create 10 pieces a year.

A one-person retrospective of Giese’s work is on display at the Prichard Art Gallery in downtown Moscow through Sunday.

“It covers quite an expansive range,” Kroese said. “People will be not only be blown away on the work itself, but the evolution of the work over the years.”

Kroese said the volume of Giese’s work is astounding as well, because of its quality.

“He’s been making art regularly the entire time he’s been at the University,” he said. “You’re looking at a history of history. I’ve never seen work like David’s anywhere else.”

A reception will conclude the Prichard Art Gallery retrospective 5-8 p.m. Friday, while a retirement soirée will take place 8-11 p.m. Saturday in the UI SUB Ballroom.

While Giese said he’s well known for throwing great parties — such as the dinner parties he’s hosted in his Italian-inspired home of 15 years — the UI celebration may be the biggest this year.

“This year I haven’t done as much because I’ve been so focused on this endowment and ready to retire and all that,” he said.

As a retirement gift to the university, Giese created an endowed fellowship to support the costs of bringing visiting artists to campus to work with classes.

“The only criteria is the individual’s work must be interdisciplinary by nature,” he said.

The soirée will host live and silent auctions on Giese’s bowling shoes, glasses, hand-made and salvaged office furniture and a T-shirt that reads, “Is there life after Giese?” Four pieces of his office artwork will be raffled for $20 per ticket. A video will feature past students and faculty members, who submitted video, pictures or anecdotes for the event. Wine and beer will be served and a separate room is available for dancing.

“As impressive as David’s work is, he’s such an individual and he was such a dynamic personality,” Kroese said. “He is just as impressive as his work.”

Despite his retirement, Giese will keep a studio on the UI campus.

“I consider myself extremely fortunate that I’ve loved my job and I think I feel really privileged to be part of a very important, critical phase in an individual’s life when you’re really dealing with the true formation of who you are,” Giese said. “And I take that responsibility very seriously.”

If you go:
WHAT: Gallery reception; Retirement soirée
WHEN: 5-8 p.m. Friday; 8-11 p.m. Saturday
WHERE: Prichard Art Gallery; University of Idaho SUB Ballroom
COST: All admissions are free.

As seen in May 16 issue of Inland360.

Drag 101: TabiKat drag queens, kings lay down stage statutes

Lindsey Treffry | Inland360

After more than 18 years of shows, the leaders of TabiKat Productions can tell you that performing in drag is more than just clothes, make-up and dance.

Kathy Sprague | Courtesy
Bill Pfister (Kathy Sprague) and Claudia Stubblemeyer pose
for a photo at a TabiKat Productions drag show.
Led by Kathy Sprague and Tabitha Simmons, the monthly performances in the area give drag queens, kings and faux performers a chance to get on stage and dress up (or down) to the nines.

But Sprague, also known as drag king Bill Pfister, said, “If you’re going to be an attitude problem, that usually doesn’t correct itself. That’s a lot harder to fix than walking better in heels.”

So, TabiKat is offering Drag 101 to give interested or “virgin” performers a chance to learn the ropes of basic drag etiquette and TabiKat house rules at 6:30 p.m. Sunday at the Moscow Moose Lodge.

Sprague will lay down some rules and regulations, along with tips and tricks to help new performers meet higher standards:

1. Be responsible and safe.
“Inappropriate behavior is the number one thing that will get you fired,” said Sprague, who notes that performers get paid. “It is a job.”

Only performers are allowed in the dressing room. Sprague said that increases their safety, protects belongings and keeps the temperature down in a small space.

Drag queen Aquasha DeLusty recommends the buddy system when going to and from shows.
“Don’t show up to the show alone,” DeLusty said.

Because alcohol is served to those over 21, Sprague said some attendees can get a bit rowdy. Bouncers and security staff are on hand.

“They will have your back,” Sprague said. “They will walk you to the car at the end of the night, so nobody jumps you, because sometimes that is an issue.”

Outside of shows, DeLusty suggested setting a good example for fans.

“Be smart about what you put out” on your Facebook page, DeLusty said.

2. Without music, there’s no show.
“Once you have been booked, once I give you the OK, you have to contact God,” Sprague said.
“God,” or Simmons, is in charge of all music.

“No matter how good you look in a dress, no matter how much you rehearsed, if we don’t have the music, you can’t perform,” Sprague said.

Sprague said music downloads must be purchased.

“If you love Cher so much that you want to do a number or perform Cher numbers, then she should get a chunk of that money,” Sprague said.

Simmons requires music files the Thursday before Saturday performances, to ensure sound quality and to prevent overlap.

“The audience is not paying cover for a show when they’re going to see the same song four times,” Sprague said. “That’s boring for them.”

DeLusty suggested different musical genres. A mix of hip hop, country and Broadway is better than being a Hip Hop Queen, DeLusty said.

“You are going to find that you actually like doing other things,“ DeLusty said. “Because I was like, ‘Oh god, I’ll never do country. I can’t stand country,’ and it’s actually one of the funnest show lists to do.”

3. Get the hair and makeup right.
Sprague is also co-owner of Safari Pearl and Eclectica, which houses costumes, wigs and stage makeup.

“At the Drag 101, I’ll break out the crepe hair and chop it up and let everybody play with it,” said Sprague, who generally sports a blond, reddish mustache with thick sideburns when dressing in drag.

Makeup kits will be available for those who want basic palettes, as long as they private message “Bill Pfister” on Facebook before the Sunday event.

4. Know your power.
Sprague said TabiKat is one of the few events in which those under 21 can take part.

“The first time I realized how much some of the kids in the community looked up to me, it’s terrifying,” Sprague said.

“The dance floor is the most interactive place that you want to be,” said DeLusty, adding that is where tips are made. “Focus on the kids.”

Sprague said their younger audience can be the most vulnerable members of the community and performers must set a good example.

“It’s like Spiderman. With great power, comes great responsibility,” Sprague said.”If you don’t respect that, and you’re not careful with it, you become the problem.”

5. Don’t be afraid.
Drag 101 may help the curious decide whether TabiKat drag is for them. If so, the rules must be followed, Sprague said, and if all goes well, TabiKat will have a few virgin performers.

“The one thing I can suggest is have fun on stage,” DeLusty said, “because if you’re having a blast doing your number, the audience will have a blast with you.”

Drag queen Claudia Stubblemeyer said virgins are put early in a set, because it’s nerve-racking to wait.

“Never look at the person before you,” DeLusty said. ”You’ll build your own following and your own way of performing.”

With more than 30 RSVPs so far, Sprague said most of the attendees are excited about becoming performers and the majority have never performed before.

“There are a couple of people who are attending, who actually have been performing for years, but have not gotten the rules,” she said. “This is the important part of it, because then we don’t have misunderstandings, and we don’t have absolute chaos backstage.”

Drag 101 is free for attendees who arrive on time and are well-prepared. Late arrivals will be charged $10 for the class.

If hired, some virgins will perform at TabiKat’s June 22 show at Moscow Moose Lodge. The next drag show will take place on May 25 at T’z in Lewiston.

If you go:
WHAT: TabiKat Drag 101
WHEN: 6:30-9:30 p.m.
WHERE: Moscow Moose Lodge
COST: Free, $10 if late
OF NOTE: RSVP on Drag 101 Facebook event

As seen in May 16 issue of Inland360.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Overbooked and overbusy

Lindsey Treffry | blot
Meredith Metsker is a journalism major. A pep band and marching band member. An acapella-playing KUOI DJ. An editor and member of the Sigma Alpha Iota women’s musical fraternity. A 20-hour minimum, part-time education reporter at The Moscow-Pullman Daily News. She does yoga twice a week and goes to the gym a bit more. Currently on a co-ed basketball team, she plays intramural sports when she can.

Hayden Crosby | Blot
Busy-bee Meredith Metsker DJs
in the KUOI radio station studio.
“Sometimes, I regret that I fill up so much of my time,” Metsker said.

Her part-time job takes up most of her schedule, since the amount of tasks for a reporter constantly fluctuates.

“I like the busy life, I guess,” she said.

Sadie Grossbaum knows the story.

The outdoor recreation leadership major and psychology minor also serves as an ASUI Senator, a member of the Alcohol Task Force, an Outdoor Program staffer, a Free Thought Moscow member, and she dances her Wednesday nights away with the UI Swing Dance Club.

When Grossbaum made the switch from biochemisty to recreational leadership, it wasn’t to lighten her schedule.

“When I told (biochemistry students) I was changing my major, they said ‘So you’re giving up?’” she said. “I had a 4.0.”

Recreation is what Grossbaum likes.

“Since I’ve been in Moscow this semester, I haven’t spent a single weekend in Moscow,” the skier and hiker said.

But there are downsides to such a busy schedule.

Grossbaum noticed a decline in her personal health.

“I don’t have time to go to the gym,” she said. “I don’t have time for basic human needs. Sleep doesn’t come often.”

This year, Metsker finally realized she had overbooked her schedule.

“I have no time to take care of myself,” Metsker said. “I had to bail out on people … I hate being a flaky person.”

UI Psychologist and Professor Sharon Fritz said there are consequences to an overbooked schedule, including lack of sleep or poor eating habits that can lead to irritability or tensions in relationships. 

“Not taking care of yourself, not eating right, sleeping right, not engaging in physical activity — accumulatively, that will catch up with you,” Fritz said.

Stress can cause gastrointestinal problems, upset stomachs, back aches or headaches, she said.
“You’re worrying a lot, have racing thoughts, not being able to quiet the mind or turn it off emotionally,” Fritz said.

This matters now, Fritz said, because busy students are potentially establishing life-long patterns, just as she has in her life.

In college, Fritz wanted to do well academically. She had a part-time job, she volunteered, held internships, had a boyfriend, was part of sport clubs and wanted to get all As — 99s to be specific. Flash forward to last month and Fritz admitted to taking on more projects than she should have. 

“If we are busy now, the chances are we will be busy in the future,” she said. 

Being overloaded is something busy-bee Grossbaum notices in others, too.

“People should give 100 percent to one thing instead of 10 percent to 10 things,” she said. “Some people are so good at so many things.”

But, she said, the quality of work often suffers.

So if now is the time to adjust schedules, how can busy students learn to cut back?

“It’s easier to say ‘no’ if you understand what your priorities and goals are,” Fritz said. “It’s not saying ‘no,’ it’s saying ‘Yes’ to your priorities.” 

She suggests role-playing. Say “no.” Think of reasons ahead of time to say “no.” 

“I’d love to do that, but now isn’t a good time for me,” she said, for example.

If students juggle too much, they can’t do a good job, and that impacts how students see themselves, Fritz said. 

There is another side of the spectrum, though — lazy students. Students who say “no” to everything. Students who are barely involved in school itself.

“People who are involved in a club activity do better academically,” Grossbaum said. 

Fritz compares it to a bell curve.

“Too much stress interferes with our performance. But the same is true if we’re not stressed enough or not busy enough,” she said. “It’s hard for students to manage that. It changes every semester.”

With changing credit loads, classes and outside activities, each semester brings a different level of stress. Fritz emphasizes balance. 

“Being stressed enhances happiness, motivation and overall success,” she said, as opposed to a lack thereof.

Grossbaum said her outside activities and involvement in ASUI give her a sense of community that less-busy students may be missing out on.

“If you don’t have that, it can be detrimental to your academics,” she said.

And although Metsker is booked clear through her May graduation, she enjoys everything she does.

“Music is my stress relief, and KUOI goes along with that,” she said. “Music may not be applicable to my career as a journalist, but being able to juggle all these activities is invaluable.”

As seen in April issue of Blot Magazine.

Friday, March 29, 2013

KRUMP kreations: Dance style makes its way from inner-city streets to UI Jazz Fest workshop

Lindsey Treffry | The Argonaut

For Christa Davis, KRUMP started three springs back at a national conference in San Diego, Calif. But for Thomas Johnson, aka Tommy the Clown, it began more than 20 years ago.

Davis, a University of Idaho doctoral student studying Physical Education Pedagogy with a dance emphasis, teaches UI classes, such as children’s dance, to pre-service teachers. When she attended the national conference three years ago, she spent half a day with Tommy and his crew in order to learn more about “krumping” or KRUMP, which stands for Kingdom Rejoicing Uplifting Mighty Praise.
Tommy the Clown created KRUMP.

“He was born in the inner-city,” Davis said.

One day in his early teens, he visited a cousin in inner-city Los Angeles. His cousin was doing a drug deal and Tommy decided to join in and conduct a drug deal, too.

“He made lots of money,” Davis said. “It became his vocational vision.”

In a few years, he moved to Los Angeles, set up his own space as a drug dealer and eventually got caught. He spent five years in prison.

“He had a lot of time to think,” Davis said. “He thought he needed to do something positive that was not destructive.”

Once released, he found a job as a typist clerk. One of his co-workers asked if he’d be a clown for her daughter’s birthday. He had no idea how to be a clown, Davis said, but he bought a rainbow-colored afro-wig and thought, “I can do hip-hop dance, so I’ll be a hip-hop clown.”

“The kids loved him,” Davis said.

From there, he decided his “clown dance” was the positive thing he was looking for.
“So he used what he knew as a drug dealer and translated it into dance,” Davis said.

Tommy rainbow-painted a van, played music through loud speakers and danced in the streets.

Children were attracted to the music and dancing, and eventually requested to perform at birthday parties with him. So, he developed an academy for KRUMP.

“The kids could dance as long as they were gang-free, drug-free and doing well in school,” Davis said.

KRUMP took on new forms and morphed into its own style. It was a way for dancers to release what they were feeling, whether it was happy, frustrated, mad or sad.

“KRUMP is unique,” she said. “It’s initiation-motivated movement.”

She said your first step leads to your second. For example, if your chest pops forward, your foot will step forward.

Tommy’s academy was full, as was his crew, and other crews began to break off.
“And from there, it exploded,” Davis said.

Some crews, sometimes gang-like, leaned toward more sexual or violent dances, but Tommy and others stayed true to his dance.

And so will Davis as she leads two KRUMP workshops as part of the 2013 Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival.

“Krumping allows people to be healthy emotionally, based on how they’re moving,” she said. “There are no mistakes and you don’t have to be perfect.”

Davis will give a brief history of KRUMP and lead two krumping combinations. She said there may be a chance for a KRUMP battle or an improvisational session.

As seen in Feb. 19 issue of The Argonaut.