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.
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.
HOW MUCH IS TOO MUCH?
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.
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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