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Friday, October 31, 2014

The Inlander's first-ever political TV ad awards!

Posted By on Fri, Oct 31, 2014 at 11:52 AM

In less than a week now, your airwaves will be clear of the onslaught of political advertisements about this candidate or that candidate or that initiative that's going to either make the state the best damn plot of land in the country or transform Washington into one giant, freedom-hating turd farm.

But before election season blows away in the fall wind on Tuesday night (that's when you need to have your ballot in, patriots) we'd like to recognize the creative genius of the political season with our first-ever Best Political Ads of the Inland Northwest. We need a better name than that, so feel free to suggest something.

OK, let's hand out some prizes!

The MOST DEPRESSING USE OF STOCK PHOTOS award goes to Cathy McMorris Rodgers (or McMoRodge as her fans call her) for this spot. While listing off all the things she's against, the Republican says she tried to stop Obamacare, and accompanies that message with a stock image of the saddest grandpa you've ever seen, abandoned in a hallway. It's at the 20-second mark. If that's your grandpa, shame on you.

If you head over to Idaho, where there's a real live Democrat being taken seriously for the first time in, like, forever, we have the FRIDAY THE 13th AWARD for A.J. Balukoff's donning of a hockey mask. After some killer saves, Balukoff whips off his mask to reveal that the dude knocking the puck aside is actually — wait for it — the guy running for governor! The puck represents, um, problems or something. Questions remain, though: can this gubernatorial candidate really do those sort of splits? Inquiring minds want to know!

In the race for the 6th Legislative District's seat in the Washington state Senate, we've seen plenty of ads. And since Democratic challenger Rich Cowan owns a television and film production company, it makes sense that he would take home the BEST SCI-FI SPECIAL EFFECTS award for this ad in which his opponent, current Sen. Michael Baumgartner is turned into a ghost. Why the guy who helped bring a successful zombie show to Spokane didn't turn his opponent into a zombie is beyond us.

Baumgartner isn't actually a ghost, because ghosts don't win the BACHMANN TURNER OVERDRIVE, TAKING CARE OF BUSINESS WITH THIS HARD HAT AWARD. Just check out the incumbent state senator gettin' shit done all over the place in his spot. Talkin' with his hands, pounding the pavement with his people and, most importantly, just carryin' around a hard hat in case he needs to get to work on some heavy equipment.

In the race for Spokane County Commissioner, Mary Lou Johnson won the coveted BEST VOCAL PERFORMANCE award for her smooth, relaxing, comforting way of talking. Not since Bill Clinton (the 1992 version) has a candidate's voice been so inviting. I would listen to Johnson read the phone book for an hour. Not even joking.

Back in Idaho, you have to hand it to Butch Otter's campaign for their late-in-the-game TV spot that brought home the ROSS PEROT "WHERE ARE THEY NOW?" PRIZE thanks to an appearance by Mitt freakin' Romney! And he's standing in a Five Guys burger joint with Gov. Otter because, um... Idaho loves potatoes and Five Guys has French fries? But it was great to see career presidential candidate Mitt Romney back on TV, warming up for his third ill-fated run at the top office in the land.

Still in Idaho, there's this ad from Sheri Ybarra, perhaps the most entertaining candidate of the season because she couldn't remember when she got married or what degree she was studying for or how she copied her opponent's website or if she's won an award. Everything this candidate for Idaho's school superintendent position touches turns to a big ol' mess of confused amazement, including this spot. For it, Ybarra wins the HERE ARE SOME NICE KIDS, DON'T ASK ANY MORE QUESTIONS award.

That just about wraps up the show, folks. But before we leave, there's one last award. It goes to Matt Shea, who produced this spot all by himself from the middle of the woods! Although it was tough to declare a winner from the many, many excellent entries, Shea eventually came out on top for the BOASTFUL SURVIVOR MAN AWARD for this web ad in which he brags about a bunch of seemingly underwhelming achievements while standing in front of a tree... which we can only assume he chopped down with his bare hands the moment the cameras stopped rolling.

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WHAT'S UP TODAY? Tricks, treats and tunes

Posted By on Fri, Oct 31, 2014 at 10:15 AM

We trust the Halloween spirit has moved you to show up in costume for work or school today. Well done, party people! And you've probably already perused our batch of events and Staff Picks for this weekend's festivities. But if you haven't, we can help.

This is what caught my eye for Friday, Oct. 31: 

MUSIC | Music Editor Laura Johnson put together a groovy-goolie list of live music and club shows for Halloween in this week's issue. We're talking multiple opportunities to wear that costume you worked so hard on, so get out there and hit up some of those gigs!

WORDS | Local historian Chet Caskey and writer Kelly Milner Halls team up for Auntie's Horror Stories 2014, where they'll explore the haunted history of Spokane. It's a perfect way to kick off your Halloween evening, recommended anyone 13 or older. 

COMMUNITY | The Mobius Broomstick Bash offers a night of spooky games, crafts and a costume contest at the children's museum, followed by some trick-or-treating through River Park Square. 

THEATER | If you're looking for something outside the typical Halloween festivities, consider a bit of theater. Locally written play The Clink continues its run at the Stage Left Theater, part of its preparation for a move to the Bay Area next spring. You can read all about it in the new issue of the Inlander.

Anika Bryceson plays the lead character Fifi in the full production of the locally written and produced play, "The Clink." - YOUNG KWAK
  • Young Kwak
  • Anika Bryceson plays the lead character Fifi in the full production of the locally written and produced play, "The Clink."

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Thursday, October 30, 2014

Spokane is a spooky place — here are some favorite creepy stories from the archives

Posted By on Thu, Oct 30, 2014 at 2:45 PM

Signs of Spokane's past lurk below street level, including Louis Davenport's safe in the hotel's basement. - STEPHEN SCHLANGE
  • Stephen Schlange
  • Signs of Spokane's past lurk below street level, including Louis Davenport's safe in the hotel's basement.

Facebook and Twitter seem to be overflowing with other local media outlets' postings about ghosts and supposedly haunted Inland Northwest locales over the past couple weeks. With the big October holiday less than a day away, we decided it timely to revisit the Inlander's archives of creepy coverage, both lighthearted and serious, to get in the mood for All Hallow's Eve. 

In the past year, freelance videographer Nathan Brand put together several heavily researched mini-documentaries for a short series he dubbed "Unsolved Secrets of Lost Spokane."

Episode 1 takes viewers into the basement of the old Dutch's pawn shop building to see its historic and creepy bear murals that once decorated a speakeasy and card room there.

Episode 2 is short primer on one of the region's earliest serial killers, known as "Bluebeard."

Brand also dug deep to uncover all the grisly details about early Spokane's infamous axe-murdering teen, Sidney Sloane.

Also earlier this fall, Brand took his fascination with unsolved murders and Spokane's darker past even deeper to investigate the unnatural death of prominent public figure, Spokane fire chief Al O'Connor, who unexpectedly dropped dead more than 30 years ago. The cause of his death still remains a mystery.

In time for the Halloween season last year, we also sought to enlighten readers about some of the Lilac City's best urban legends, like the haunted "Thousand Steps" at Greenwood Cemetery, some creepy, unexplained happenings at the Dania Furniture building, and downtown's resident theater spirits. 

Our fascination with the lesser-seen and super-creepy underground sites around the region doesn't end there. Photographer Stephen Schlange was on a mission last fall to document what lies behind some of the city's locked doors that only a few are privy to.

Back in the early aughts, then-Inlander staffer Mike Corrigan penned a fascinating first-person account of his discoveries beneath Spokane's downtown streets in a piece titled "Speakeasy Spelunking." 

Later, Corrigan went back underground to seeking for evidence of Spokane's Cold War-era nuclear bomb shelters.

Another past staffer uncovered the haunted histories of Spokane's most famed ghost-ridden sites — The Davenport Hotel and the Patsy Clark Mansion. 

The historic Masonic Temple, now being renovated and restored as an event center called Riverside Place, also has a colorful and eerie history we've delved into for fascinating features. 

The Inlander has also done a fair share of reporting on ghost towns, including Elberton, Wash., on the Palouse, and the death of another Spokane far from our own.

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WHAT'S UP TODAY? Debates! Galas! Bass! And doing the Timewarp!

Posted By on Thu, Oct 30, 2014 at 10:25 AM

You know all about our wide array of event listings, and the considerable care put into our Staff Picks. Perhaps you're just so busy you can't take the time to read through those listings on your own. We're here to help. 

Here's what jumped out at me as I perused the event listings for Thursday, Oct. 30: 

COMMUNITY | You might have heard, there's an election going on Tuesday. As long as you're registered, it's not too late to peruse the Inlander's extensive Election 2014 coverage. And you can drop in on a debate between Fifth Congressional District candidates Cathy McMorris Rodgers and Joe Pakootas. The debate starts at 4 pm at the Lincoln Center.

VISUAL ARTS | Get your Halloween costume some use a day early at the Spokane Arts Awards Costume Ball, going down tonight at The Davenport. It's the big finale of the Create Spokane month of activities, and a fine way to recognize some of the folks making the city a great place to live. 

MUSIC | Throw together a DJ and a producer who both love house music, and you might get Bassjackers, who have remixed hits for the likes of Rihanna and Moby. They're performing with like-minded beat maestro Dyro at the Knitting Factory. Here's a taste of what they do: 

FILM | The Panida Theater in Sandpoint is getting Halloween off to a proper start with a late-Thursday/early-Friday screening of Rocky Horror Picture Show. Doors open at 11 pm, there will be beer and wine, and the costume contest commences promptly at 11:30 pm tonight. Get your costumes ready all you Riff Raffs!

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Wednesday, October 29, 2014

A spooky, shocking, super-sized Halloween

Posted By on Wed, Oct 29, 2014 at 12:35 PM

Some folks go a little over the top when it comes to celebrating Halloween
  • Some folks go a little over the top when it comes to celebrating Halloween

More bells and whistles seem to be expected every year in the name of holiday traditions. Gathering a few pieces of candy wearing a sheet with eyeball holes doesn't cut it anymore. We need convincing haunted houses. We need to feel absolute panic and terror in corn mazes. We need to stuff a pillowcase full of candy during condensed and safer trick-or-treating escapades, instead of ringing a few neighborhood doorbells around the block. We need to dress up, and we need to go all out.

The expectations for Halloween are high. The shock value and big bucks are basically a given, but where will we draw the line? Scarywood, tagged with the line "never sleep again," costs almost $40 a pop at the gate on Saturday nights. Not only are events and attractions breaking the bank, but according to the National Retail Federation, Halloween 2014 will set the record for the highest number of costumes purchased by Americans. The average person is expected to spend more than $75 on Halloween, contributing to the holiday's total spending of $7.4 billion. Twenty-three million pet owners in the U.S. are also expected to dress up their furry friends. Having Oct. 31 land on a Friday night only amps up the intensity and expectations of A-game costumes and parties.

Looking at the Party City's online page featuring the most popular over-the-top costumes for adult women, you'll see a sexy flapper, a sexy circus ringmaster, sexy cop, sexy "spider girl," sexy Wonder Woman — you get the idea. On the site's featured "sexy" tab, costumes sexualize everything from peacocks and sailors to pirates, school girls, skeletons, prisoners and Native American "princesses." 


In light of the immense popularity of Disney's Frozen, Amazon's bestselling costume this year is the film's princess character Elsa. Out of the online retailer's overall 10 best-selling products, five are inspired by Frozen. Has Halloween perhaps become more than a spooky or goofy dress-up night, and instead a competition and expression of your kid's favorite movie franchise-turned-product?

Who will make the move away from this super-sized celebration trend? Of course, a collection of cavity-fighting local dentists. Sweet-crazed kiddos on Halloween often chow down until the all that remains are the toothbrushes they received from the neighborhood rebel parents and stale candy from brands they haven't heard of. With the exponential growth of consumerism and processed sweets, many dentist offices are now offering a bold alternative to the Halloween-candy hype.

Dentist offices around the Inland Northwest are catching on to growing candy giveaways, trading money for trick-or-treaters' goodies. These fairly confiscated sweets are then sent overseas to U.S. military troops through a program called Operation Gratitude. It's a win-win for kids, parents and their dentists — and kids can still enjoy this Halloween tradition, even keeping a modest amount of treats before they cash in, should they choose.

Participating dental practices in the Inland Northwest include KiDDs Dental, DaBell Orthodontics, North View Family Dental, Studio Smiles Northwest, Kool Smiles Spokane, Kidsmile Dental, Northview Family Dental and 8 Days a Week Dental.

Shannon Wells at Northview Family Dental hopes that clinics throughout the community continue the growing trend, and make candy giveaways an annual tradition. To her, this project lifts the morale of soldiers while making kids feel a sense of fulfillment through their donations. Kids can even write heartfelt letters and cards for the soldiers when they stop by to drop off the candy.

Perhaps our society will never fully return to the days of homemade costumes, watching Jamie Lee Curtis run from Michael Myers and dancing to "Monster Mash," but at least these dentists are offering ways to scale back the excess a little bit. 

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WHAT'S UP TODAY? Monsters, metal and farmers markets ending their seasons

Posted By on Wed, Oct 29, 2014 at 10:05 AM

You're busy, we know. Maybe even too busy to spend a few minutes perusing our awesome event listings or the Staff Picks carefully crafted for your benefit. No worries. 

We've done some of the work for you, finding some good stuff going on in and around Spokane on Wednesday, Oct. 29: 

THEATER | It's opening night for a two-night run at Lincoln Center of Empire Theater Company's Monsters Anonymous, a play about a gathering of famous Halloween characters like Dracula and Frankenstein. 

MUSIC | In a show originally scheduled for Tuesday, the Knitting Factory is hosting a gig by metal act In This Moment, Twelve Foot Ninja, Starset and Three Pill Morning. Here's a taste of the headliner: 

COMMUNITY | Advocates for victims of domestic violence and the YWCA are gathering for a candlelight vigil tonight at 6 pm at Spokane City Hall. 

FARMERS MARKET | It's the season finale of the Spokane Farmers Market today until 1 pm, and the same for the Colville Farmers Market, running today from noon to 5 pm.

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Tuesday, October 28, 2014

WHAT'S UP TODAY? Going retro, and Bill Murray slays all manner of poltergeists

Posted By on Tue, Oct 28, 2014 at 10:05 AM

If you don't have the time to peruse our extensive event listings, or even our carefully considered Staff Picks, we're here to help you plan your day's entertainment. 

These are the things that caught my eye going down in and around town on Tuesday, Oct. 28: 

MUSIC | Copper & Congress hail from Tucson, and they're bringing their sound blending soul and retro-tinged rock (and some sultry vocals from Katie Haverly) north for a show at the Checkerboard Bar, part of a tour supporting their new Fault Line album. Here's a little sample: 

FILM | If you're down on the Palouse or heading that way, you might want to consider a stop at the Palouse French Film Fest, where tonight they'll be screening On The Way, a road-trip flick starring the legendary Catherine Deneuve. Talk about a way to class up your Tuesday! 

FILM | Every Tuesday, the Garland Theater hosts the Totally Tubular Tuesday old-school movie night, offering a screaming deal on a classic flick. And it doesn't get any more classic than tonight's selection — Ghostbusters! It's only $2.50, and if you spend $10 on drinks before the movie at the attached Bon Bon (as you should), you get in free. 

If you've somehow forgotten this glorious bit of cinema featuring Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Sigourney Weaver, Rick Moranis and the dear, departed Harold Ramis, check the trailer: 

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Monday, October 27, 2014

WHAT'S UP TODAY? Mascot controversy, country crooning and the Columbia River

Posted By on Mon, Oct 27, 2014 at 10:37 AM

Looking for a way to jump-start your week after working this weekend? Or maybe hoping to keep a wild weekend going into overtime? We have what you need, thanks to the astounding amount of events available on our website everyday. Our staff even carefully selects some Staff Picks to help you focus. 

If all that seems like too much work, we're here to help. Here are some highlights we found among the events for Monday, Oct. 27: 

WORDS | Cornel Pewewardy is a Native American professor at Portland State University who challenges his students to think about culture identity and history. Tonight, he visits Gonzaga for a free lecture and discussion about "Why Society Can't Ignore Indian Mascots." It starts at 7 p.m. and should make for some fine counter-programming to watching the Washington Redskins on Monday Night Football

SPORTS & OUTDOORS | Climber and outdoor adventurer John Rosskelley is hosting a little party and discussion of his new book, Paddling the Columbia, which tracks a trip from the headwaters to the Pacific Ocean. Of course, you already knew that from reading our weekly Outlander blog

MUSIC | If country music is your thing, you've got it tonight at the Martin Woldson Theater at the Fox, courtesy of Chase Rice, playing with Old Dominion. Here's a taste: 

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Friday, October 24, 2014

CAT FRIDAY: Two cat-themed video games to get excited about

Posted By on Fri, Oct 24, 2014 at 3:17 PM

Play as Mae the cat in this beautifully-designed indie platformer coming out sometime in 2015. - NIGHT IN THE WOODS
  • Night in the Woods
  • Play as Mae the cat in this beautifully-designed indie platformer coming out sometime in 2015.

There are a handful of characteristics that get me really, really excited about a video game. First, having a less-traditional art concept or style, which becomes even more enjoyable when paired with a lively story. Options of female playable characters always gets a thumbs up, and co-op games are great, too. But anytime a developer throws cats into the game world, I go nuts. 

Which is why I am, quite literally, counting down the days until Night in the Woods is released. The narrative-driven, adventure/platforming game currently has a vague release date of sometime in 2015, and is set to be available on PC, Mac, Linux and the PS4.

Players explore Night in the Wood's game world through its main playable character, Mae the cat, a college drop-out who returns to her troubled mining hometown that's also filled with troubled youth. And there's something lurking in the woods...

The game's development was largely made possible to a massively successful Kickstarter campaign launched about a year ago that raised more than four times the team's original goal. That dev team is made up of Alec Holowka (another favorite game he's contributed to is Towerfall Ascension), Scott Benson and Bethany Hockenberry. Based on what we know about Night in the Woods, it shouldn't disappoint, even if you don't get amped up for a game with a playable cat character. 

As independently created video games continue to exponentially grow in number, it gets harder and harder to sort through the noise to find something you'll love and that's worth the time invested. I have no way of knowing if either of these games will meet all of my ideal expectations outlined above. Like any form of entertainment — just because a trailer looks cool doesn't mean the game or film is going to rock.

Yet, based on what we know and have seen so far, I am incredibly hopeful about Night in the Woods, as well as another in-development game recently discovered on Steam's Greenlight system. Greenlight is intended to spur support from potential players of a to-be-released game, and also serves as a source of audience feedback for developers.

Another platformer/adventure style game, The Purring Quest also offers what looks to be some beautiful 2-D art. Described as a "stealthy" platform game, users play as Kimchi the cat, who's on a journey to find his sick owner. Along the way, Kimchi meets and gets to interact with a handful of Internet-famous cats: Henri, le Chat Noir, Nala, Cooper the Photographer Cat, Nora the Piano Cat, Oskar the Blind Cat and Tika, lead game developer Jose Gines Picon Lopez's cat.

In a recent interview, Lopez revealed his hope is to donate a portion of the game's sales to support animal welfare groups aiding the abundant stray cats in his hometown in Spain. 

It's not known yet when The Purring Quest could be released, but trust that I'll be following the latest announcements about both of these projects.

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WHAT'S UP TODAY? Alternative Radio chat, ski swaps and scary stuff

Posted By on Fri, Oct 24, 2014 at 9:55 AM

Been working for the weekend? Congrats, you made it! You deserve the chance to pick something fun to do today from our extensive event listings, or perhaps you should put your trust in our Staff Picks

If you don't have time to peruse yourself, we're here to help. Here's what caught my eye for Friday, Oct. 24: 

WORDS | Founder of indie, weekly radio show Alternative Radio David Barsamian has written books and hosted shows with the likes of Noam Chomsky and Howard Zinn, among others, and is sure to be an entrancing storyteller when he stops by the Unitarian Universalist Church tonight. 

FOOD & DRINK | A little pumpkin-carving, some live tunes and tasty beverages are in store for Oktoberfest at Kendall Yards

CULTURE | Halloween is one week away, so you better get your haunted house roll on, like, right now! Here's a handy roundup of all kinds of scare spots waiting to creep you out. 

SPORTS | It's opening night of the Mt. Spokane Ski Patrol Swap, meaning you'll want to get there to get your hands on the good stuff before it's gone, and to see a screening of Days of My Youth

DANCE | When I think of Chinese cuisine, I think of belly dancing

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