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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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Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Facebook debuts its new "reactions" today, including smiley emojis

Posted By on Wed, Feb 24, 2016 at 12:04 PM


After logging in this morning to check your Facebook news feed, you may have noticed something different about all the posts. Today, the social media giant rolled out some major changes to the "like" button system, allowing all users the option to choose from five other responses — branded as Facebook Reactions — that go beyond the site's ubiquitous "thumbs up" icon.

In a post about the rollout, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg explains that these options are the company's response to the long-requested "dislike" button that would allow users to appropriately react to the not-so-positive news inundating their feeds.


"Liking" a post is still the default option. To choose one of the new "Reaction" icons — a heart and smiley emojis shown laughing, surprised, sad and angry — simply hover over (on desktop; for mobile do a long press) the "like" button to select from a pop-up menu.

Now that users can do more than simply hit that "like" button to mindlessly react to a post, will people actually take the time to click and select the appropriate emoji? Moreover, will media outlets (especially considering it's election season...) be victims of angry-face spamming? We shall see.

In the meantime, The Verge published this snarky "how to" guide on using the new Facebook Reactions. Also, Mashable has a helpful overview of how to find the new feature if it's not yet showing up on your feed.

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Friday, February 19, 2016

Escape rooms are in — check out these local perplexing puzzles

Posted By and on Fri, Feb 19, 2016 at 5:18 PM

In the early days of video games, point-and-shoot games often placed players inside a confined space, challenging them to escape by exploiting their surroundings. But alas, when imagination isn't enough, you make it real. It comes as no surprise then, that these and other modern, online games have sparked a new chapter of puzzle-solving entertainment as real-life escape rooms have emerged in recent years in cities across the U.S.

These real life escape rooms require quick thinking and some physical adventure. Typically, clues are placed throughout the room, giving participants an hour to crack the code to gain their freedom. It's not easy — often a clue or two will bamboozle you for longer than you'd like. Some tricky puzzle makers might even try and throw you and your group off-track with red herrings that actually have nothing to do with "breaking out" of the room you're trapped. 

And more often than you may guess, groups who take on these escape room challenges might fail to solve their predicament before time runs out. As the escape room entertainment trend has grown in popularity, the trend has reached the Inland Northwest in full force over the past year. Below are some escape rooms that recently broke onto Spokane's entertainment scene (some local media outlets have even tried to escape these confinements). Take a look and partake in them if you dare. 

See if you can break free from detention at Claustropanic. - CLAUSTROPANIC FACEBOOK
  • Claustropanic Facebook
  • See if you can break free from detention at Claustropanic.

1325 E. Francis Ave. |  
Claustropanic is home to three different rooms: school detention, a fallout shelter and an interrogation-themed puzzle. With 60 minutes on the clock, up to eight people can work as a team to escape from one of these confined rooms. As a school delinquent, your attention to detail is tested in an hour-long detention session. If you choose to face a nuclear disaster, you must break free from a faulty fallout shelter due to limited air supply. Or, opt for a session in the interrogation room and dupe your kidnappers with clues left behind from your boss. You choose, but the clock is ticking.

7456 N. Division |
One of the first escape rooms to open in Spokane, there are three different themed options here: prison, purgatory, and Dr. Ella Mentall's Testing Facility. Most first-timers try the "prison escape" because it's the most standard of the three, though purgatory is perhaps the most thrilling because of its horror elements. Escaping from any of these rooms is not a picnic! On average, only 20 percent of participants succeed. So, if you're looking to get your brain working and want a variety of themes to choose from, this is an option.

202 W. Second Ave. | 
With some incentive and team work, groups of up to six individuals can try their hand at finding the plane tickets hidden in a ransacked travel office to make it to the airport in time to make their vacation flight, or escape certain death at the hands of a serial killer from the depths of a dark cellar. Groups who make it out of their room successfully in the 45 minute time block are awarded a Laser Quest 2-4-1 pass. As one of multiple Key Quest locations across North America and Canada, these rooms offer a team-building experience for individuals looking to bond, or just for some live-action fun.

Cartel Haunts in Spokane Valley adds a spooky twist to its escape room experience.
  • Cartel Haunts in Spokane Valley adds a spooky twist to its escape room experience.

225 N. Ella Rd., Spokane Valley
To match the changing of the seasons, Cartel Haunts regularly builds new rooms with different themes. During the month of love, there's a Valentine's-esque, horror-themed escape room called "The Curse of Evilina." Visitors must follow clues and retrace Evilina's tracks while looking for her dead body. The room is set up like a haunted house and there are creepy elements throughout: a masked man lurking in corners while you search for clues, moving in once in a while to groan in your ear, and a ghost woman popping out when you least expect it. Your brain might hurt at the end of the hour because the clues require acute cleverness.

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This awesome woman is 110 years old and isn't exactly jazzed to be on TV

Posted By on Fri, Feb 19, 2016 at 10:41 AM

As you may have seen, our local media was all over the story of Flossie Dickey, a Cheney resident who celebrated her 110th birthday yesterday. To celebrate the occasion, FOX 28's Good Morning Spokane sent a reporter out to visit with Flossie, but she wasn't terribly enthused to be on television. Flossie, we're told, enjoys her whiskey straight up and proved to be a straight-up boss in this segment.
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Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Is Jeb Bush's Twitter account the worst thing on the Internet today?

Posted By on Tue, Feb 16, 2016 at 3:33 PM


In case you missed it, Jeb Bush, the former Florida governor, brother of one ex-president and son of another, and current Republican candidate for president — at least for a few more days — tweeted a picture of a personalized gun with the simple one-word description "America." Here's the image in question: 

Naturally, Bush's tweet led to much mockery on the Internet, from USA Today to political outlet The Hill to staid old TIME magazine to national security pariah and current Russia resident Edward Snowden, who tweeted "Delete your account" to Bush.  

While clearly a ploy to suck up to gun advocates in advance of the South Carolina GOP primary, it seems a little out of character for a guy who was considered the kinder, gentler (and smarter) little brother of so-called "compassionate conservative" George W. Bush. But then, unnatural and clunky grasps for relevance in this campaign are kind of a specialty for Jeb: 

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Just days left to vote for the 2016 Best of the Inland Northwest!

Posted By on Tue, Feb 16, 2016 at 12:39 PM


The November presidential election is still months away (even though it sure doesn't seem like it), but your voice can still be heard, like, right now! At least when it comes to sharing your opinion on the best places in the Inland Northwest to grab a coffee, treat yo' self to an ice cream cone or savor a tasty burrito. We all have local favorites, which is why we want all Inlander readers to share theirs for the 23rd annual Best of the Inland Northwest Readers Poll

Your Facebook and Twitter feeds have no doubt been filled lately with pleas from local businesses to give them a nod in 2016's poll, but not for much longer. Voting wraps up later this week, so don't delay! (Remember, if you didn't vote, you can't complain when your favorite doesn't win, just like in real politics!)

It's really easy to vote online — you can even spend a few minutes right now on your lunch break to fill out a few categories. Then save and come back, but don't forget to finish and submit, filling in at least 40 questions on the ballot for it to count — by this Thursday, Feb. 18, at midnight. 

We'll be busy the next few weeks tallying the votes and prepping our big Best Of issue announcing all the winners, out on March 24. 

No, be off and vote!

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Monday, February 15, 2016

We tried the Beast Mode-affiliated Zipfizz energy drink so that you don't have to

Posted By on Mon, Feb 15, 2016 at 3:39 PM

A mysterious arrival in the Inlander break room.
  • A mysterious arrival in the Inlander break room.

Today the Inlander break room was the recipient of an unexplained and unexpected gift: A batch of the Marshawn Lynch-endorsed "Healty Energy Mix" from Zipfizz, a powdered concoction that promises "energy unleashed" from its Vitamin B12, "hydration" and some "multi-vitamin" properties. 

I don't know about all that, but the stuff does contain 833% of your daily recommended Vitamin C and 41,667% of your Vitamin B12, among other nutrients, in each tube of the powder designed to be dissolved in a bottle of 16-to-20 ounces of water. Beast Mode made the deal to endorse Zipfizz back in 2012, but this box of product showing up today raises some questions: 

• Who left the Beast Mode beverage here? (We don't know)
• Is it showing up now because Lynch is retiring from the NFL and leaving the Seahawks? (Probably)
• Is getting hopped up on Zipfizz what Marshawn was really doing to help comeback from his injury this season? (Probably not)
• Does it work?

Continue reading »

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