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Thursday, April 7, 2016

North Spokane Trader Joe's set to open in mid-April

Posted By on Thu, Apr 7, 2016 at 2:59 PM


TJ's devotees, the wait is almost over. The second Spokane location of the popular grocery chain is set to open on Friday, April 22.

Located in the Franklin Park Commons shopping center, sandwiched between Bed, Bath and Beyond and Ross Dress for Less outlets, the North Side spot has been under construction since last fall. The 12,000-square-foot store's official address is 5520 N. Division.

The upcoming grand opening is welcome news for residents who do most of their shopping north of the Spokane River. To get their hands on any of Trader Joe's popular private label brands, shoppers across the region have had to trek up to the Lincoln Heights shopping center, where the Inland Northwest's only TJ's location has been open since 2011.

The North Side store hours are daily, from 8 am to 9 pm. Residents living nearby should see promotional flyers arrive in their mailboxes soon.

We predict it's going to be pretty busy (some might even say crazy) during the store's first few weeks, so be prepared if you do plan to check it out. 

If you know nothing (no passing judgement implied) about Trader Joe's brands and inventory of specialty grocery products, most of which are free of artificial ingredients, check out its website for a preview. The new Spokane store will sell basic items (milk, eggs, bread, etc.), as well as beer and wine.
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Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Celebrity scientist Neil deGrasse Tyson is coming to Spokane this summer

Posted By on Tue, Apr 5, 2016 at 1:10 PM


As someone who got totally hooked on the science of our universe while watching the 13-episode series Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey, the news that its renowned host, astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, is swinging through Spokane later this year has the nerd in me rejoicing.

Tyson is coming to downtown Spokane's INB Performing Arts Center on Tuesday, June 14, for a presentation titled "An Astrophysicist Goes to the Movies." Tickets for the 7:30 pm talk are priced at $65, $85, $150 and $250 (the latter two are VIP experiences) and go on sale to this Friday, April 8, at 10 am. 

As indicated by the talk's name, and based on other media previews/reviews of the touring live show, Tyson's free-form presentation examines how movies get interstellar theories right and wrong. This movies-meet-science talk sort of originated when he took to Twitter to critique 2013's blockbuster film Gravity. And with the spate of major, futuristic films released in recent years (including Interstellar and The Martian), we can bet he has a lot more to say on the topic.
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Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Seven Alternatives To "Spokane Doesn't Suck"

Posted By on Tue, Mar 29, 2016 at 12:50 PM

In this year's "Spokane Style" section of our reader-driven "Best Of" poll, the clear winner for "Best Bumper Sticker Seen Locally" was "Spokane Doesn't Suck."

No, this wasn't a bunch of voters being sarcastic. It's an actual bumper sticker. Spokane Doesn't Suck is a Tumblr-blog-turned-$10,000 Kickstarter from local designer Derrick Oliver. At he sells sweatshirts, T-shirts, mugs and stickers emblazoned with the message that "Spokane Doesn't Suck."

But this got me thinking: There's a whole untapped market out there for other expressions of civic pride, or at least civic tolerance. So this weekend, borrowing some from the vintage Spokane prints designed by the Inlander's Chris Bovey, I whipped up a few alternative posters with messages ranging from grudging acceptance of Spokane to hypnotic, hyperbolic love.

Visit Spokane is welcome to contact me about using these for future ad campaigns if they choose.

1.  Royal Spokanenbaums

This poster takes a simple self-conception — the conventional wisdom that "everyone knows" — and dares to inject an element of possibility into it. Maybe what everyone knows is incorrect. Maybe they're wrong and you're right. Maybe Custer never died at the Battle of Little Bighorn. Maybe love can transcend the impossible. Maybe Spokane doesn't suck. 

Remember, every great invention starts with a bold presupposition.

Continue reading »

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Friday, March 11, 2016

CAT FRIDAY: Mini-docu highlights SpokAnimal's Farm Livin' barn cat program

Posted By on Fri, Mar 11, 2016 at 2:59 PM


We live in a region with many rural communities; an area that also happens to have, overall, a significant number of timid, unsocialized and otherwise feral cats — the result of pet overpopulation and irresponsible animal ownership. 

Feral cats, or "community cats," are not a problem unique to the Inland Northwest. Thankfully, though, the Spokane-based nonprofit animal shelter SpokAnimal has been running, since 2009, an incredibly successful program to help these painfully shy or semi-wild kitties find safe places to live, keeping them alive and cared for. SpokAnimal's Farm Livin' program, which places less-adoptable cats on rural properties as "working cats" in exchange for food and shelter, is the feature of a new 10-minute mini-documentary by and the Jackson Galaxy Foundation. (Note that the video player has a click-bait-y ad screen that you can skip after 10 seconds before the video begins.)

Source: From feral to farm: A cat's life in Spokane by GreaterGood on Rumble

The video (an emotional and heartwarming watch for animal lovers of any stripe) highlights the success of the program, which has placed more than 1,700 less-adoptable and feral cats on properties across the Northwest. Cats in the Farm Livin' program are adopted out without any fees, and go to their new working homes having been spayed/neutered, vaccinated and with a clean bill of health. Their role as barn kitties is to keep nuisance rodents under control, in exchange for a warm place to sleep, food and water. 

The mini-doc features interviews with Farm Livin' cat recipients, program volunteers and SpokAnimal staff. The video was created in partnership by, an internationally active nonprofit that strives to "improve the health and well-being of people, pets and the planet," and the Jackson Galaxy Foundation. The latter was launched in 2014 by the star of Animal Planet's My Cat From Hell, renowned cat behaviorist Jackson Galaxy.

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The city is giving away free trees to Spokane residents this spring

Posted By on Fri, Mar 11, 2016 at 10:17 AM


Continuing efforts of the Forest Spokane Initiative — which aims to plant 10,000 new trees across the City of Spokane by the end of this year — the city's Residential Tree Program is again giving away free trees to residents within city limits.

At distribution events this spring and again later this fall, a combined 2,000 trees are to be given away through the program. When planted in residential areas, these trees help mitigate stormwater runoff from reaching the Spokane River. Property owners who live within the city can register for one tree, and any remaining trees that weren't set aside for pre-registration will be given away — first come, first served — on Saturday, April 24. 

To reserve a tree, city residents can fill out an online form, but note that you need to choose a specific tree species when you do. Sixteen species are being offered at two distribution sites, including redwood, oak, maple, magnolia and others.

It's also important to determine where you'll be planting the tree before you choose. The mature tree's height and circumference might limit where you can plant, based on other trees in your yard, overhead wires and other factors. To make finding that information easy, the above link to the species list includes that information and ideal growing conditions for all trees.

As anyone who's purchased started trees from a nursery knows, they're not cheap. This is a great program for city residents to take advantage of, while greening up your own backyard and helping keep the local watersheds healthy and clean.

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Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Ayn Rand, Dead Heads and other bumper stickers at the Ted Cruz rally in Idaho

Posted By on Wed, Mar 9, 2016 at 9:10 AM

Cruz wins Idaho: 45 percent of the vote state wide, and 44 percent in Kootenai County, where he spoke last Saturday. 

I showed up late (and a little buzzed) to the rally, so instead of standing out in the mud listening to the presidential hopeful talk through some speakers, I sought to capture the true flavor of a Ted Cruz rally in North Idaho. 

Because you can tell a lot about people by the sticker on the back of their car.

Honestly, after all this, even Atlas doesn't even care who you vote for.


Ted Cruz will stand up against the Easterlings, who invade the Hithlum border at the orders of Morgoth. Ted Cruz does not believe that deposing Sauron is a responsible use of the Gondorian Army. Ted Cruz believes the federal lands of Mirkwood Forest should be returned to the people of Idaho.

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Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Get your Irish up: Tunes to warm up for the St. Patrick's Day Parade

Posted By on Tue, Mar 8, 2016 at 1:41 PM

The Pogues
  • The Pogues

Officially, St. Patrick's Day isn't happening until Thursday, March 17, but the festivities start earlier than that, what with Spokane's annual St. Patrick's Day Parade happening this Saturday at noon (here's a map), and pre-partying starting pretty much first thing Saturday morning among some hearty revelers like the city's Irish Drinking Team, which has a 12-hour pub crawl planned beginning at 7 am Saturday. 

To get in the proper spirit of the holiday, it's good to delve into some classic Irish tunes, as well as some not-so-traditional rock delivered by Irish artists. Here's a handy batch that might inspire you to dig out your kilt, pop a Guinness, wear some green and join Saturday's festivities: 

The Pogues, "If I Should Fall From Grace With God." Simply one of the best of the modern Irish rock bands, blending some tradition with punk attitude courtesy of lead singer Shane MacGowan: 

The Chieftains with Carolina Chocolate Drops, "Pretty Little Girl." The Chieftains are Irish classics, and they love collaborating with artists from all genres. On this one, they illustrate the shared history of traditional Irish sounds with American bluegrass: 

Continue reading »

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Friday, March 4, 2016

Spokane is host to another quirky 5K fun run with the "Insane Inflatable 5K"

Posted By on Fri, Mar 4, 2016 at 5:17 PM


For awhile there, it seemed that the Inland Northwest had become a hotbed of color runs, mud races and other oddly themed fun runs that sought to encourage all ages and abilities to come out and hit the course. Back in 2014, when we ran this story for InHealth magazine on the trend, there were many alternative races like this on the calendar, only to die down the following year.

But this May, a new race that incorporates the same "running is fun and accessible to all" theme, called the Insane Inflatable 5K, is coming to town.

Rather than coat participants in powdered dye or mud, this race, as its name implies, incorporates inflatable obstacles along the 3.1 mile course — each a bouncy castle spin-off with cheeky names: "big balls," "the humps," "the mad house," "mattress run" and "slingshot."

Set up along the 5K course, participants can take as long as they'd like in the un-timed event to jog from bouncy obstacle to obstacle. The race's start is divided into waves to avoid what could be a major bounce house traffic jam.

Race entry isn't cheap — $49 in advance, and $75 the day of — but a portion of proceeds are going to the Spokane team for the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life. Runners also get a T-shirt and a medal for completing the event. Beyond the race itself, the event offers a beer garden and a festival area called the "Midway" with games, food, merch and more.

The Spokane event is set for May 14, at the Dwight Merkel Sports Complex.

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Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Happy Hour of the week: Throwing it back at the Volstead Act

Posted By on Wed, Mar 2, 2016 at 1:19 PM

The historic front page of the American Issue can be seen on a far wall in the Volstead. - MEG MACLEAN
  • Meg Maclean
  • The historic front page of the American Issue can be seen on a far wall in the Volstead.

It was a Monday night, so naturally a couple people in suits stopped by after work as I walked in with a camera and a notepad, not knowing what to expect. Bars can sometimes be too loud to enjoy the drink you just got from your overwhelmed bartender. As a college student, I am accustomed to two extremes of social outings: loud, rambunctious bars and quiet, chill coffee shops. It's hard to find a situation where these vibes cross paths. I found it at the Volstead Act.

Get your Happy Hour fix and a little burst of vitamin C with the AP Squared cocktail. - MEG MACLEAN
  • Meg Maclean
  • Get your Happy Hour fix and a little burst of vitamin C with the AP Squared cocktail.
The Volstead has been open since September of 2013, and is now one of Spokane's many craft cocktail bars. The venue is on the small side with a vast expanse of liquor on display. But with classic high bar stools and wooden tables with candles, it's versatile and strikes a balance between a quiet venue to have a drink after a long day, and a poppin' place for a couple friends to share a cocktail.

Named after and inspired by the 1919 Volstead Act, which lead to the 18th amendment prohibiting alcohol, the place is dedicated to recreating the lavish and hand-crafted cocktails that were popular during the Roaring 20s, but they give them a modern twist. 

Their signature drink, according to the bartender, is an AP Squared (Aperol, orchard apricot liqueur, grapefruit, Champagne and grapefruit peel), made with hand-squeezed juices. That, or a Thyme's They Are 'A-Changin' (gin, yellow chartreuse, simple syrup, lemon juice, thyme, soda water and lemon peel). Sounds like  a revamped Gin Rickey right out of the Great Gatsby era, doesn't it? 

In addition to a wide selection of libations and crafted concoctions, the Volstead offers what one might consider "upscale" truffle popcorn to compliment whatever spirit you choose.

Volstead's Happy Hour runs every Monday-Saturday, 3-7 pm, with $5 wells and house wines and $3 draft beers and bottles, in addition to $7 craft cocktails. It also extends late-night from midnight-2am, with $3 domestic drafts, $4 Fireball and $5 wells. And what else? All day on Sundays.

To find other great Happy Hour deals and menus around the Inland Northwest, visit on your phone and download our Drinkspotter app, or click here.
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Monday, February 29, 2016

Spokane Sidewalk Games is bringing supersized board games to public spaces

Posted By on Mon, Feb 29, 2016 at 5:16 PM

Soon, Spokanites can challenge each other in super-sized games of Connect 4. - SPOKANE SIDEWALK GAMES
  • Spokane Sidewalk Games
  • Soon, Spokanites can challenge each other in super-sized games of Connect 4.

A few weekends ago while in Seattle for business, Ryan Oelrich spent the afternoon playing giant board games downtown with complete strangers. Now, that inspiring experience has become the spark of a community project already well on its way to becoming a reality: Spokane Sidewalk Games

“It was a very inspiring moment for me," Oelrich says. "I watched business professionals sit down with the homeless and smile, talk and enjoy each other’s company. I’m frequently complaining to my friends that people don’t talk to one another and connect as much as we should.”

So far, in about a week's time (he first saw the games on Feb. 20) Oelrich has secured sponsors (Global Credit Union) and ordered Spokane some of its own super-sized games — chess and Connect Four, so far. He hopes to purchase giant-sized versions of checkers, Chutes and Ladders and Tic-Tac-Toe.

Oelrich's large network of local connections has helped the project quickly move from a moment of inspiration to something he hopes to publicly debut by May. He currently serves on the board of directors for the nonprofit arts venture Terrain, and is the executive director of Priority Spokane, which supports local students who are homeless. 

Because of those connections, local artists have offered to put their artwork onto game pieces. Oelrich has also found a way for the project to offer employment opportunities for local homeless youth. Teens supported by the Volunteers of America's Crosswalk Youth Shelter downtown will staff the games during weekends and other major events to encourage the public to come participate, and also to help prevent any random acts of vandalism to the game pieces (a concern that's been frequently mentioned to him). Several groups have already reached out with interest in hosting the games, including local farmers markets. The plan is to set up the games at big annual events — Bloomsday, Hoopfest, Pig Out in the Park and others — and during arts events like Terrain's October arts showcase and the Bazaar arts market in June.

"It's been such a fun project to watch come together so quickly," Oelrich says. "I love that this ties into my work of putting Crosswalk youth to work, and since I'm on the Terrain board, this brings my whole world together."

Those interested in donating to the project can contact Oelrich directly at [email protected] Several sponsorships, which includes funds to pay youth employees, are still available.

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