by Inlander Staff & r & & r & 82 Days of Summer. That's how long you have between now (June 14) and Labor Day (Sept. 3). That's a lot of days, but trust us -- it'll go by fast. So you'd best get to planning, and this section is especially for you. We've come up with something to do for every day of this summer (running from pages 32-74). If you want more, no problem -- we've got the Inland Northwest's most comprehensive summer calendar, with week-by-week listings (running from pages 76-88). And to buy tickets or otherwise firm up your plans, go to pages 89-90 for contact info regarding any of the events you see in these pages. Have fun!
DAY 1 * Thursday, June 14
A PERFECT SUMMER EVENING
When Roger Kahn wrote about The Boys of Summer, he was referring to the Brooklyn Dodgers of the 1950s. But the term also applies to the thousands of collegiate players who pitch, catch and hit in dozens of summer leagues, from Cape Cod to the Land of the Midnight Sun.
On June 14, Spokane's entry in the West Coast Collegiate Baseball League THE RIVERHAWKS, will open their season in a new park, Gonzaga University's Patterson Baseball Complex. "It's a spectacular facility," says RiverHawk General Manager (and longtime Gonzaga baseball coach) Steve Hertz. "With 7 pm games and great summer weather, we think a lot of people will want to come out and see this team play."
This year's RiverHawk team features players from three of the Northwest's best collegiate squads: Gonzaga, Washington State and defending national champion Oregon State. But fans will also see players from UC Riverside and Arkansas (two teams that made this year's NCAA tournament) along with Dayton and Cornell.
The RiverHawks open at home against the Kelowna Falcons. The WCCBL also includes the Bellingham Bells, Moses Lake Pirates, Wenatchee AppleSox, Bend Elks, Corvallis Knights, and (based in Bremerton) the Kitsap BlueJackets. (DN)
DAY 2 * Friday, June 15
On this date in 1924, Native Americans were officially allowed to become U.S. citizens.
HELPING HELPFUL PLANTS
In addition to purifying harmful substances and releasing moisture, indoor plants seem to make you feel better. A little TLC helps houseplants thrive, especially water-bound snippets that have been patiently awaiting graduation to terra firma since late winter.
I can't leave plants in my classroom over the summer, so POTTING AND REPOTTING takes place as soon as school's over. It's an all-day affair: finding new pots, a fresh bag of soil (seems funny to buy dirt, doesn't it?), and mixing vitamin drinks. Without the benefit of a green thumb, I stick to plants I know -- ones that are idiot-proof, like pothos.
There are also outdoor plants even I can cultivate, like tomatoes, cilantro and mint. The list is short, but the growing season's shorter, so buying starter plants is advisable. (The farmers markets in Coeur d'Alene and Sandpoint are two favorite locales for good deals and free advice.) Living in an apartment, it's an ideal way to have farm-fresh without a lot of real estate. And it feels good to plant things and watch them grow. (CS)
DAY 3 * Saturday, June 16
Lazy summers are cool and all, but if you want to FINALLY FINISH THAT MARATHON you've always told yourself you were going to run, you better get off your ass, like, yesterday. That's especially true if you're shooting to run any sort of long runs in the cool, season-ending swirl of late fall -- say, the Seattle Marathon on Nov. 25.
Starting today probably still works -- but you're behind already, so hit it. Buy new shoes; make a training schedule that fits your goals (runnersworld.com/smartcoach or running.nike.com); get involved with a road running crew to surround yourself with like minds (Team in Training, Bloomsday Road Runners Club, Spokane Slugs); sign up for intermediate length races to stay motivated (get the BRCC Race Rag at any running store); then just start running. Prepare mentally for 16 weeks of this hell.
Remember: Unless you're puking, you aren't trying hard enough. (LB)
DAY 4 * Sunday, June 17
Thirty-five years ago today, five men from CREEP burglarized the offices of the Democratic National Committee, kicking off the Watergate scandal.
The smell of new tires, the roar of engines rarin' to go, shiny chrome wheels and detailing, and paint waxed so bright you can use it for a mirror to slick back your hair. No one appreciates cars like dads do. So grab Dad and hop in your favorite jalopy, hot rod or cool car for a drive to Dayton. After a two-hour cruise down the highway southwest of Spokane, you'll see the little burg all decked out for its 13th annual ALL WHEELS WEEKEND. If you get there between 8 am and 11 am, you can treat Dad to a Fathers' Day breakfast at the Columbia County Fairgrounds' Youth Building: pancakes, fresh Klicker strawberries and whipped cream, sausage, scrambled eggs, coffee and juice. At 9 am, the golf tournament begins. For $10, Dad can play in the tournament at the nine-hole Touchet Valley Golf Course. If he links up with a buddy, he may even win a trophy or prize in the non-handicap scramble or putting contest. Later, he can ogle all the cars and chrome he wants along Dayton's historic Main Street. (SH)
DAY 5 * Monday, June 18
THE GRAPES OF RAFT
The Spokane River is a glorious spectacle in the middle of downtown, but beyond the thrill of witnessing spring runoff, the river is largely a mystery to me -- and to a lot of other people living in Spokane. I've always wanted to see what the city looks like from the perspective of the river, rather than the other way around, but I'm a middle-aged tenderfoot who doesn't know the first thing about river rafting.
So I call David Lawrence of Pangaea Expeditions, who leads float trips on the Spokane through Riverside State Park. They've got river trips for the faint of heart -- like me -- as well as those seeking adventure.
"The whitewater cuts off around June or July, and we wanted to extend the [rafting] season, so we created wine floats and bird-watching floats and scenic trips," says Lawrence, who lives in Spokane.
We'll meet at the Bowl and Pitcher, leave our cars and dry clothes there, and take their van up to the T.J. Meenach Bridge. From there, it's a lazy float along the river back to the Bowl and Pitcher. Bird-watching trips usually happen early in the morning -- those birds don't get the idea of sleeping in -- but my favorite is the SPOKANE RIVER WINE TRIP: a gentle afternoon float on the river followed by snacks and wine in a Ponderosa pine-shaded glen, with the crash of the Bowl and Pitcher rapids in our ears.
Pangaea offers organized trips for groups, but it's also possible to just call and see what trips are happening on any given date. Like today. As for Lawrence, any day is a good day to float down the Spokane River -- he loves showing it off for visitors and residents alike, seven days a week, all summer long.
"It's accessible," he says, "and it's just another way to appreciate the gem that is the Spokane River." (AC)
DAY 6 * Tuesday, June 19
Juneteenth, the anniversary of the freeing of the slaves in Galveston, Texas, in 1865.
READING AND RETREATING
There are days when the summer heat lays me low, when all I want to do is loaf and when sitting under a ceiling fan at home just doesn't do it for me. That's when I head for MY NEIGHBORHOOD LIBRARY. I'm usually good for two or three hours of browsing and lounging in a comfy armchair with a new treasure, or maybe a pile of new treasures.
I usually start with the "new books" shelves, looking for the latest hot biography or something about the media. Then I go back to the sports area and search for books about the history of this legend or that team. My last stop is usually the biographies, where I look for trashy stuff about political figures or washed-up entertainers.
When I was a kid, I used to join the library's summer reading clubs and check out the books I didn't have time for during the school year. I don't do that any more, but once in a while, it's nice to beat the heat in a cool library. (DN)
DAY 7 * Wednesday, June 20
RAINY DAY MUSIC
Though my native ears would never detect it, my California- and New York-born roommates would aptly identify POINT JUNCTURE, WA as "Northwestern" music. Maybe the name is a dead giveaway ("Point Juncture," though fictional, calls to mind some drizzly port near Sequim). So is the band's home: Portland. But my roomies have a knack for hearing gray clouds and rain in the music of Death Cab, the Decemberists and Damien Jurado. And it comes down in buckets in the music of Point Juncture, WA (playing today at Caterina Winery): minor-key drones, gloomy textures and moody vibraphone. Which is not to say that their music isn't upbeat. It is, often. Just rainy. With sunbreaks, a chance of thunderstorms and a high-wind warning. A typical day in the Northwest, really. (JS)
DAY 8 * Thursday, June 21
VASSALS OF THE KING
A teenage girl tries to explain Elvis hysteria to her dumbfounded parents. A mother and daughter visit Graceland together for the last time. An elderly guy in a white jumpsuit laments getting stuck doing Elvis impersonations for all these years.
In 13 vignettes, ELVIS PEOPLE (AT IDAHO REPERTORY THEATRE) traces the effect on his fans by the King of Pelvic Thrusts himself (who died 30 years ago this August); Doug Grissom's play opens tonight at the University of Idaho's Hartung Theater in Moscow and runs through July 24.
Director Chip Egan of Clemson University directed the premiere in Virginia last year, along with a subsequent production in Florida -- and he would have directed the current off-Broadway show if he hadn't already committed to IRT. He'll deploy 10 actors in 41 parts, and since Grissom compiled 400 pages of scenes on ridiculous/pathetic/obsessive Elvis fans, each production so far has used a different set of episodes.
Also at Idaho Rep this summer: a musical, Summer of '42 (June 28-July 28); a Shakespeare comedy, Much Ado About Nothing (outdoors, July 12-27); a commedia dell'arte romp for young audiences, No Fish in the House (July 4-24); and Interment (July 19-27), a play about burying one's mother. (MB)
DAY 9 * Friday, June 22
DON'T WORRY, BE HAPPY
It's the first full day of summer, at least according to the calendar, and it's Friday besides, so that means HAPPY HOUR ON THE PATIO. On Thursday night, go shopping and pick out some flamboyant acrylic cups -- "drinkware," in retail parlance. Stop by the liquor store on the way home and pick out a decent bourbon. Not top of the line, mind you, but decent. Next, find yourself some fresh mint sprigs, whether at the supermarket, the farmers market or in your garden. If you don't have an icemaker at home, grab a bag of ice.
Now, mix up some mint juleps in your new "drinkware." Sip. Let the summer whimsy begin.
The Kentucky Derby Mint Julep (from www.kentuckyderby.com)
Make a simple syrup by boiling sugar and water together for five minutes. Cool and place in a covered container with six or eight sprigs of fresh mint, then refrigerate overnight. Make one julep at a time by filling a cup with crushed ice, adding one tablespoon of mint syrup and two ounces of whiskey. Stir rapidly with a spoon. Garnish with a sprig of fresh mint. (AC)
DAY 10 * Saturday, June 23
HOP A CHAIRLIFT
If you think our local ski resorts board up the windows all summer, you'd be wrong. At Silver Mountain, you can haul your mountain bike up the gondola for a hairy ride down. You can even drive all the way to the top of Mount Spokane during the summer. And up above Sandpoint, they're running the lifts during the heat. But today, for their all-day (10 am-5 pm) SCHWEITZER SUMMER CELEBRATION, you can ride up for free. And there's more to do than just take in the spectacular views; there'll be free live music at the village, along with fun and games like disc golf and a climbing wall. A barbecue meal finishes the day. (TM)
DAY 11 * Sunday, June 24
Saint John the Baptist's birthday. Though described by the Koran as "pure," eventually he would be beheaded at the request of King Herod's daughter, Salome.
LITTLE IRON MERMEN
Some people have gadgets and gizmos a-plenty. But they want more. They dream of becoming a member of the hallowed fraternities and sororities of the IRONMAN TRIATHLON.
About 2,500 masochists from across the country descend upon Coeur d'Alene annually to strut their single-digit body fats, carbon-fiber lungs and organic groceries. By now the CdA Ironman -- in its fifth year -- features amateur and pro competitors, age and weight divisions and a portable MRE vendor powered by biodiesel and sweat. (Kidding.) The Ironman isn't even gender-specific either. Ironwomen compete, too (as they have since, well, forever).
The punishing race tortures its challengers through a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bike race and a 26.2-mile run. At the end, the top finisher hobbles home $50,000 richer and undoubtedly wields an enhanced appreciation for Black Sabbath's 1970 tribute to the triathlon itself, "Ironman." Most participants earn zero dollars and cramped muscles, but they also acquire the water-cooler bragging rights that go with plodding through more than 140 miles of pain.
After all, spending time up where they swim, up where they run, up where they bike all day in the sun (if there is any) -- you ought to have something to show for it.
DAY 12 * Monday, June 25
131 years ago today, hundreds of Indians from various Plains tribes decimated the 7th U.S. Cavalry and its commander Gen. George Armstrong Custer.
KEVIN TAYLOR'S BEST DAY EVER
THE MYSTERIES OF DAYS
& lt;span class= "dropcap " & T & lt;/span & his whole business of a best.day.ever is a 500-word exercise in cotton-candy logic, thinking you can know a best day in advance. Or even recognize it as it's unspooling. Or that if you preposition certain elements a best day surely must align with the heavens.
CONSIDER CUSTER. During a four-hour meal stop on June 24, 131 years ago, he and his command discussed the mounting evidence that they were close to finding the main encampment of "hostile" Indians. Some officers injected a note of caution, noting the larger U.S. force under Gen. Terry might not arrive until June 26 or later. Custer is reported to have smiled and said: "I guess we'll get through with them in one day."
And on this day, when it became clear he'd found a ton of Indians to fight, Custer was described as excited when he split up his command, waving as he rode off. Today was going to be the vain dog's best.day.ever.
After the spectacular victory in defense of their freedom, this may have been the best.day.ever for Plains Indians encamped on the Little Bighorn. Except not in the larger unfolding of things.
Oh you damn curmudgeon, perhaps you are muttering, just push a big old hatpin through your temples and smile like everybody else: "After we ended the round birdie-birdie-eagle-par on (your golf course here), my supermodel girlfriend disrobed, the sun burnishing her thighs just as the pizza driver (your franchise here) pulled up and said the pie was free because he was 14 seconds beyond the allotted time..."
Sorry but this is too important to be cheesy and false. Twenty years ago deep into a starry night in the Bitterroots, a younger, drunker me woke up his wife in Spokane with a telephone call and convinced her to get up, load our infant daughter into a beater car and come get me at the 10,000 Silver $ Bar in Montana, where I would take over and drive us all the rest of the way east to arrive with the rising of the sun at the Little Bighorn on the very anniversary of battle.
The day clouded over by late afternoon, perhaps around the time the battle had ended, and a noisy wind kicked up, flattening the grass like fingers running along the Earth. One of the Indians slow to leave stopped and cocked his head. A moment later he was walking again, hunched against the wind and smiling.
For all you know, I just made that up. But listen, our best.day.ever is like that. You won't find it in the official records or on the news or even Wikipedia. The best days exist in memory and in the heart. My best day, your best day is but a moment snatched from the wind, a prayer released on the breeze. This is, after all, high summer, a sacred and fleeting time in our hemisphere.
Even now at the sun's pinnacle we begin to keen the passing of the light. So best day, schmest day; we couldn't call it in the air if it hit us like 1,000 arrows.
DAY 13 * Tuesday, June 26
On this date in 1818, Baron Karl von Drais patented his Laufmaschine (running machine), later developed into the bicycle.
With the first 70-degree-day of the season, talk around here always turns sharply to "the lake" -- this unspecified place where the sun's always hot, the water's always warm and everyone smiles with big white teeth. But I've been here for three summers now, and I've yet to find this lake. Not only that, I haven't found any good place to swim around here. Thus, THE SEARCH FOR THE PERFECT SWIMMING HOLE begins today. (Who cares that it's Tuesday?)
In a city so near nature and near perfect, it shouldn't be hard, right? My only requirements are that the water is not visibly polluted and that, on an unbearably sweaty afternoon, I can get there in 10 or 15 minutes from Spokane. Decent public access would help, too. I've already tried Williams Lake (lame public beach) and Boulder Beach (the water's questionable and, besides, Upriver Drive and the Centennial Trail are closed until early July). There's ever-popular Lake Coeur d'Alene, but it's a touch far.
I'm headed out today with a map and a towel. Let me know where you think I should start looking. Send suggestions to HYPERLINK "mailto:email@example.com " firstname.lastname@example.org. (JS)
DAY 14 * Wednesday, June 27
HARD LIKE NES
There's a breed of gamers who never owned a console before PlayStation and think they're bad-asses because they can beat their friends at Halo and pull off a five-minute long combo in Tony Hawk 18 or whatever. There's a message coming to these punks straight from Japan and it's being sent via TECMO'S NEWEST NINJA GAIDEN REMAKE. The message is: "You ain't had problems like this, son." It's no idle boast.
Here's some ancient history: Back when the original Ninja Gaiden came out on the Nintendo Entertainment System, videogames were actually difficult, and Ninja Gaiden was the most difficult of them all. Over time, games became softer, easier. At some point, you didn't even need to enter a 30-man code at the beginning because you could save the game every two minutes.
Back to the present: Ninja Gaiden Sigma, which drops today, looks like a pretty, top-quality 3-D hack-and-slasher that's still distinguished, like all previous Ninja Gaidens, by how damn hard it is. The most minor enemy confrontation can end a game with a single-player slip-up. The big fights at first don't seem humanly possible. Of course, they are possible -- you just have to spend a stupid amount of time figuring out how.
The upside is that when you win an especially difficult battle, it's an occasion for the most glorious chest-thumping imaginable. (BK)
DAY 15 * Thursday, June 28
SUDS IN SONG
Summer heat wilting your blouse? Mosey on down to the Wishy Washy Washateria so Katie and Lana Mae can serenade you during a dinner-theater presentation of HONKY-TONK LAUNDRY AT CENTERSTAGE (Thursdays-Fridays only, June 21-Aug. 24). They'll croon heartbreak tunes by the likes of Patsy, Loretta and Tammy -- and of Dolly, Reba and LeAnn. (If you can't fill in the last names here, you'd best scoot your boots right past this particular jukebox.)
"The songs are paramount in this show," says director Reed McColm. "The plot is just a clothesline, if you will -- since we're dealing with laundry here -- to hang the songs on. Both women are in bad relationships at the start, but by the end, both are declaring their determination to move on. So there's a slight story arc there."
Along the way, says McColm, "We get the entire pantheon of cowgirl singing -- from tear-jerkers to, well, honky-tonk songs to the determination to stand by your man. This show pays tribute to old-style country-Western songs, as opposed to the blend of country and pop that's predominant today."
Ribs, chicken, mashed potatoes and cornbread just may be on the menu, so y'all show up now, hear? (MB)
DAY 16 * Friday, June 29
SHOPPING SPREE IN PLUMMER
With a quick trip out to Plummer, you can load up on all the FIREWORKS you'll need for a Fourth of July that's just a tad over the safe-and-sane line. Plummer, you see, is in Idaho; better yet, it's on the Coeur d'Alene Reservation, and that's a sovereign nation, baby. And that means they can sell all the stuff that blows up real good.
(About here is where any writer with a conscience will offer a word about safety, responsibility and all that other stuff that bums everybody out. All I can say is that if you're reading this newspaper, you're a reasonably with-it person, which means you have enough brain power to do what it takes to see the holiday through with all fingers intact. In Idaho, they trust you will use your brain. But consider yourself warned: In Spokane County, blowing off fireworks is against the law.)
Where was I? Oh, yeah: "... blows up real good." So if you want the stuff that screams into the sky, explodes into pretty colors and demands that the gathered oohers and aahers forget their cares to consider what it means to be an American, then, really, a trip to the Indian reservation is your best bet. There are several fireworks shacks, but the granddaddy is in front of the Warpath store. (TM)
DAY 17 * Saturday, June 30
On this date in 1997, J.K. Rowling published the first Harry Potter novel. She's now the best-paid writer in history.
Street basketball means one thing to me: blisters the size of quarters on the balls of my feet. On June 30 and July 1, thousands of players of all ages will battle the blisters (or buy better shoes) and play for the coveted SPOKANE HOOPFEST winners' T-shirt.
For those who prefer to avoid the physical pounding, there are volunteer opportunities galore, whether it be typing game scores into computers, selling Hoopfest souvenirs or cleaning up after the players. Or you could get right in the middle of the action. "Court monitors are perhaps the most crucial event volunteers," according to the Hoopfest Website. "They supervise around 35 games on their court during the tournament, enforcing tournament rules and the time schedule while maintaining the Spirit of Hoopfest." They also get to separate the bodies of sweaty players whose emotions get the best of them. The rewards are good, though. "Court monitors receive Nike gear for volunteering their time, including shoes, shorts, T-shirts and hat," say the Hoopfest folks.
The deadline to register to play has passed, but organizers are still looking for volunteers. (DN)
DAY 18 * Sunday, July 1
THE CREST OF SUMMER
One of the greatest things about Spokane has to be how you can travel a short distance in any direction and end up out in the country. With wildlife and an abundance of trees, that's what makes Spokane pretty awesome.
Another great thing is how if you take I-90 to the Argonne exit, travel north a little bit then take a couple of turns, you can end up in wine country. Arbor Crest's Cliff House is a beautiful chateau surrounded by vineyards and a wonderful view of the sunset. And one thing that makes the Cliff House that much better is ARBOR CREST'S SUMMER CONCERT SERIES. Enjoy the sunset with some local music, some fine cuisine and a glass of wine (21 and older only, please; pets and outside alcohol aren't allowed). Today the music accompanying the ambience comes from the Motown group Nu Jack City. With their smooth sound, the homegrown wine should go down as easy as the sun in the gorgeous outdoor atmosphere. (TAM)
DAY 19 * Monday, July 2
GET OUT AND ABOUT
"I've been meaning to do that, these past few summers. "
"I really should take my bike out there one of these days. "
But it won't happen unless you schedule the time. Friends and relatives say, "Boy, it sure is pretty up where you live " -- and you nod your head and then don't do anything about it. You might as well be caged up inside an urban loft all day. (And we like lofts. But Canadian geese don't fly inside condos.)
People who live in, say, Nebraska, would love to have a nearby rails-to-trail route bordered by mountains and pine trees. Let your penance, then, be to BIKE THE TRAIL OF THE COEUR D'ALENES. An extended Fourth of July weekend might be a good time to pack some food and water and start crankin'.
The most frequently used portions of the Trail of the CdAs are the few miles on either side of the Cataldo Trailhead (where the trail crosses I-90 at Exit 39, its most convenient access point). But the trail stretches 72 miles from the prairie of Plummer (on the reservation south of Lake CdA) climbing through mountain passes on the way to Mullan (near the Idaho-Montana border). (MB)
DAY 20 * Tuesday, July 3
The star Sirius in the Canis Major constellation begins rising and setting with the sun, officially commencing the "dog days" of summer.
The era when the word "Transformers" could be associated with Saturday morning cartoons and awesome toys will soon be over. Take today to SAVOR YOUR TRANSFORMERS MEMORIES, because tomorrow, movie director Michael Bay is going to spend $150 million ruining them. Bay is almost singularly hated by intelligent people who like movies for the simple reason that he deserves it. Me, I don't like him for making really lousy, soulless action films. His entire body of work is inferior to any single Terminator -- the movies or the cyborgs.
Still, I haven't seen Transformers yet, and I could be pleasantly surprised. (I won't be, of course, but I'm supposed to act open-minded.) A full-force summer ad campaign has made ignoring the movie a near impossible act -- the result being that, after today, the word "Transformers" will be forever associated with '80's-flavored awesomeness and a stupid live-action movie. The one slim hope is that is that it'll go down like Roland Emmerich's Godzilla, which made America look bad but left the lizards' rep mostly untarnished. (BK)
DAY 21 * Wednesday, July 4
The nuclear chain reaction was patented by Leo Szilard on this date in 1934. Years later, when he actually saw one, he said that "the world was headed for sorrow."
Maybe Willie is feeling nostalgic for his roots -- did you know he started out as a radio DJ in Vancouver, Wash.? Or perhaps last year's Fourth of July weather in Texas was the last straw -- Hades hot in the morning, Biblical downpour in the afternoon. Whatever the reason, for the first time since 1973, WILLIE NELSON'S FAMOUS FOURTH OF JULY PICNIC is not in the Lone Star State. (It spread its blankets in that tiny but well-remembered town of Luckenbach during the 1990s and has been held in Willie's hometown of Austin since 2000).
That's right, Willie's at the Gorge, and he may never have sung "Whiskey River" with so mighty a waterway meandering backstage. For side dishes, he's bringing whippersnappers like Son Volt and the Old 97s, along with Amos Lee and the Drive-By Truckers. Willie's keeping it real, too, with four-packs of lawn seat tickets for just $99. (To read the signatures on his guitar Trigger, it'll cost you $79 a seat.) And with Willie a-warblin' up on stage and tumbleweeds prowling the parking lot, you'll feel like you're deep in the heart of Texas. (TM)
DAY 22 * Thursday, July 5
MUST STASH BLACK GOLD
A month before opening night, the villain lacked a mustache. "But I'm working on growing one out," says Don Sauer, who plays Will E. Stolealot, the ne'er-do-well who conspires with Molly b'Holden to pilfer hard-earned gold from a preacher. (Don't that beat all?) All this takes place in "Nightmare at Dream Gulch, or, Wake Me When It's Over" (through July 29), the first of two extravaganzas to be offered this summer at SIXTH STREET MELODRAMA in Wallace, Idaho (46 miles east of Coeur d'Alene). Eventually, of course, the bad folks are apprehended with the help of Kacey Donnelly, a sweet young lass who sings Irish tunes at the drop of a Stetson; local reporter Adam Aulbach; and the Italian woman who serves pasta at the local boarding house, Ma Chiavellian. "Nightmare" will be followed by Kelly's Alley Revue, a mishmash of sing-alongs and vaudeville jokes.
Sixth Street's second offering, Tied to the Tracks (Aug. 1-26), is a full-length musical melodrama that -- we're guessing here -- just might involve a young woman who's pure of heart being affixed to the choo-choo rails by a dastardly scoundrel with a handlebar 'stache. That is, if Sauer can grow one by then. (MB)
DAY 23 * Friday, July 6
OUR NEIGHBOR TO THE NORTH APPRECIATION NIGHT combines elements of thrift shopping, animal husbandry, public drunkenness, improv comedy, financial acumen and cultural awareness -- all the ingredients, in other words, for a fab DIY Friday night.
The spark for this comes from two brothers I met back when I first moved to Spokane -- one of them may have been a judge of some sort, or at least might have said that he was -- but both of them were loons who knew how to have a good time. They'd pretend to be turkey farmers from "up in Alberta" and go out on the town with vaguely rube-ish clothes, a big bankroll of Canadian money and lots of loud questions about Spokane, its social mores and its women. You could get 22 percent drunker in those days; sadly, the dollars are almost straight across now.
Sure, you could play this for immediate laughs and just get a hat with earflaps, but drier wit is better wit. You and your friends will drum your heels into the carpet all the harder if you have a good backstory and nobody in the bar knows there's a caper afoot.
Whatever you want to know about Spokane is yours for the asking. People will say anything to nice Canadians. (KT)
DAY 24 * Saturday, July 7
DIRT AND DROP
Twenty miles an hour doesn't seem very fast. Not until you consider that the only thing keeping your skin on your bones and your bones from popping through your skin is 1) your riding ability and 2) your gear (including, hopefully, a helmet).
Add a 3,300-foot vertical single-track drop -- the second-longest in North America, according to SILVEROXX MOUNTAIN BIKE FESTIVAL organizers -- and you're talking crazy.
Saturday's events at Silver Mountain include a Big Air Comp dirt-jumping contest and a short downhill "jam," a three-hour window during which riders can get in up to five runs along Jackass, one of the newer trails. Sunday offers the vertical Enduro.
A big draw is a cash purse of $3,000 (triple that of last year) and prizes totaling $4,000 or more (not including the swag bags). There's also a party planned in the village for an as-yet-unnamed band which you can bet will get out-of-hand fast (in a good way). (CS)
DAY 25 * Sunday, July 8
Sixty years ago today, a UFO crashed in Roswell, N.M.
DOBRO STEALS THE SHOW
It used to be that Jerry Douglas was just a member of Union Station like everybody else (excluding frequent front-woman and star Alison Krauss). But lately, as is the case with tonight's concert at the Star Theatre, the show is billed as ALISON KRAUSS + UNION STATION, FEAT. JERRY DOUGLAS. It should come as no surprise. Dubbed by Krauss on her Live CD as "the greatest dobro player the world has ever known," Douglas has been a hot commodity of late, both as a session man and as a producer. The winner of 12 Grammy awards, he's jaw-droppingly fast on the resophonic guitar. Even so, Krauss shouldn't worry that Douglas' "featuring" status will eclipse her spotlight. The bluegrass starlet has won 20 Grammys in as many years and is possessed of the most crystalline voice country music has ever heard. Go for her, enjoy Jerry, and shout a request for Dan Tyminski to play "I Am a Man of Constant Sorrow." You'll hear how the group almost single-handedly made Americana music popular again. (JS)
DAY 26 * Monday, July 9
Two-time Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld turns 75 today.
LUKE BAUMGARTEN'S BEST DAY EVER
& lt;span class= "dropcap " & I & lt;/span & came way, way late to the Harry Potter phenomenon. I decided at one point around 2002 -- after recoiling from the initial hysteria, seeing Chris Columbus had directed the first two films and just really not being that turned on by the idea of teen wizards -- not to read Rowling's books at all. As kind of a statement. Not a protest, just a statement of general lethargy. I'm not against Harry, per se, but homeboy's not about to read 2,809 pages of the King's English on a passing curiosity.
Then Alfonso Cuaron directs the third film, The Prisoner of Azkaban. I see it because I'm obsessed with 'Fonso. Despite having no idea who these priggish Brits are, I like the film -- just not enough to bother with any of the books or other movies.
Years later, due to the persistence of an enthusiastic, super-fan girlfriend, I cave, picking up The Sorcerer's Stone in November and, just last month, putting down The Half-Blood Prince. So I'm fully initiated into the mysteries of Hogwarts.
There remain, though, gaps in my knowledge. I'm caught up on the books, but I've still only seen film three. I've been told I must remedy this filmic lapse. "They're good movies based on great books," everyone says and, being able to vouch for the books and at least one movie, I'm thinking yeah, OK, they're probably right.
So here's what I'm going to do: On July 9, I'm going to have an all-out Potter geek fest. But I'm going to make it work for me. I'm going to force all the Potter freaks I know to rent the movies; buy me Bott's beans, Chocolate Frogs and Cockroach Clusters; make me butterbeer -- give me the full Potter experience. And we're going to watch the films one by one in time for both the fifth film and the seventh book -- geeking out all the way.
To make the timetable work, we'll have to start at like 9 am, watch the first two flicks and then adjourn for lunch. The Washington Post (just Google "Harry Potter Feast") has recipes for pumpkin pasties and disappearing pretzel wands. We'll have those pre-made, warming in the oven. We'll serve them up and get cracking on the last two -- far longer -- films. At some point, we'll have to start getting really drunk.
Then, the kicker, and the reason this can only be done on Monday, July 9 (hope the homies have sick days coming, God knows I do): A Boston area synth-rock crew called HARRY AND THE POTTERS (of Voldemort Can't Stop the Rock fame) is gigging Caterina Winery. Going far further than cloying fan buffoonery, Harry and the Potters use the themes and set pieces from the books to create honestly great pop. Their lyrics play to the specifics of Rowling's prose while drawing power from the emotions her words brew in fans. It's honestly inspired, and I love it. Best Potter-themed day ever.
DAY 27 * Tuesday, July 10
DESTROY ALL FAMILY VALUES
I remember from my youth that every few years, a reactionary politician would try to score points by claiming that this or that videogame was nothing but a sadistic murderfest that encouraged players (or "children") to butcher people in increasingly horrible ways for higher scores. This was laughable. If such a game existed, I would have had my sweaty hands all over it.
Years later, I played Manhunt on PS2 and thought, "Well, those politicians finally have the game they fantasized about." It did indeed encourage players to stalk and murder people with the tools at hand, of which a simple shotgun to the head was relatively mild. Set in a dystopian present, in an appropriately twisted game-show format, Manhunt remains the only game to come close to breaching the threshold of what even I myself find unacceptable.
Developer Rockstar (Grand Theft Auto) can be counted on to amp up content in their follow-ups, and they're promising a psychedelic descent into madness with MANHUNT 2. I'm hoping they'll utilize the most immersive of artistic mediums (videogames, duh) to create the psychological horrors that have been almost completely absent from similar films. If not, there are always the incredibly graphic murders to fall back on. (BK)
DAY 28 * Wednesday, July 11
In honor of 7/11, most 7-Eleven stores will give you a free Slurpee today.
GET SOME WHEELS
Depressed about global warming? It's hard not to be -- almost makes growing up in the shadow of imminent nuclear obliteration seem kind of innocent. So quit cursing Al Gore and do something about it -- BUY A BIKE. Not only can you stop pumping fumes into the sky as you guide your SUV to the store for that daily 40-ouncer and bag of Cheetos, but you can work off some of that lard accumulating in your ass.
In case you're unfamiliar with the contraptions: Bikes, you see, don't run on that stuff that makes Bush's buddies rich -- they're 100 percent you-powered. Now I'm not going to tell you what kind of bike to buy, but you should buy a cruiser -- Electra makes some sweet ones, and even Schwinn sells old classic models with modern components. To really live the ethic, buy a used one. There's no better way to forget about the melting ice caps than to pump those legs and feel the wind in your face -- just like you did back when nuclear holocaust was all you were pedaling away from. (TM)
DAY 29 * Thursday, July 12
Doin' Coeur d'Alene
Why not grab your walking shoes and some drinking water and head to the Lake City today? You can hike TUBBS HILL and savor this urban wilderness without having to pass dozens of other weekend hikers on the narrow two-mile trail. Yes, sir, you can revel in Nature in all her glory in peace and quiet. Though the trail usually takes two hours, you can meander along at your own pace. At Cougar Bay, if you're game, you can swing from a rope and plunge into Lake Coeur d'Alene a la Huck Finn. When your hike is over and you've worked up an appetite, head for HUDSON'S HAMBURGERS on Sherman Avenue. The 100-year-old eatery has that small-town feel of the Lake City of yesteryear. Have a hand-formed Huddy Burger with the works -- pickles, onion and their signature hot mustard and ketchup. For less than $5, you can fill up your tank just like the locals do. Then saunter over to the CITY BEACH and watch the people show on the boardwalk and at the park. Go for a swim, then watch the kids go wild at the replica of Fort Sherman while lazing in the shade of the trees. (SH)
DAY 30 * Friday, July 13
NAKED BOYS DANCING
Middle-aged men in an unemployment line doing spontaneous disco moves. A yard gnome pops up during a job interview. All the whoopin' and hollerin' when guys from the neighborhood -- faux Chippendales dancers with ample proportions -- stretch out the "Will they or won't they? " moment of truth in THE FULL MONTY. Terrence McNally's book of the musical (at Coeur d'Alene Summer Theatre, June 30-July 14) transfers the action from Sheffield, England, to Buffalo, New York; either way, laid-off steel workers are desperate enough for income that they just, might, go, all, the, way. (If only they had Donna Summer's dance moves.) All that, and Ellen Travolta as the piano player, too.
This season, the summer-stock company on the campus of North Idaho College will also offer Thoroughly Modern Millie (June 9-23), Putting It Together (July 19-29) and Kiss Me, Kate (Aug. 4-18). (MB)
DAY 31 * Saturday, July 14
On this date in 1995, the MP3 music format was named.
WE WILL SHOCK YOU
Currently alone in first place in the American West Division, the Shock have fought and bit and kicked and thrashed and finally -- just now -- shrugged off the young team woes that plagued them in the early season and the injuries that have hampered them ever since. They're back to winning all the ways they won last year, with nail-biting comebacks, gritty final drives and big, dominating games from Antwone Savage (named AF2 Offensive Player of the Week on June 6).
They've held off a massive conference (the league's biggest) full of scrappy, hungry teams and still aren't getting much love from the coaches' poll. That's cool. Spokane likes an underdog. Just be sure to hit up THE SHOCK'S FINAL HOME GAME OF THE YEAR and help cheer them into the playoffs. Just try not to go crazy the hundredth time they butcher poor Freddie Mercury. (LB)
DAY 32 * Sunday, July 15
PIRATES OF THE PANHANDLE
Ahoy, maties! It's Pirate Weekend in Sandpoint, beginning with a free showing of Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest at the Panida on July 12 and ending with several concerts around town, including Sol'Jibe at City Beach on July 15. Come view the fleet of vintage watercraft at the Old Power House for the fifth annual WOODEN BOAT SHOW, put on by the local chapter of the Antique and Classic Boat Society on July 14-15. Organizers expect around 50 boats, which may include wood and non-wood (constructed of metal or fiberglass prior to 1965).
Some of the most unusual boats will include a 1933 Century Thunderbolt, several rare GarWoods and a Beavertail by Stan-Craft, a Post Falls-based company that's been making high-ticket custom wood boats since 1933. (Clients include treasure-lovers Marshall Chesrown and Duane Hagadone.)
With boat values starting at $15,000 and spiraling quickly upward, that's a lot of loot afloat. (CS)
DAY 33 * Monday, July 16
Summer whizzes by so fast, you might want to consider double-dipping on a day like today. Cyclists can make this an occasion to flex their citizenship as well as their leg muscles by scoping out a proposal for A NEW RAILS-TO-TRAILS LINK BETWEEN REPUBLIC AND CURLEW and advocating to the Ferry County Commissioners that it be non-motorized.
The commissioners deserve kudos for "rail banking" an old freight line that meanders past a state park, along the Kettle River and through several quaint towns in a 28-mile run from Republic up to Danville on the Canadian border.
The steel rails and wooden crossties have been coming out since June, but the motorized-or-not status of an eventual trail is still up in the air, says Bob Whitaker, one of the locals advocating a non-motorized route.
Check it out at www.ferrycountyrailtrail.com. The site has great photos of the rail line, which crosses the north end of Curlew Lake on a wooden trestle, along with a link for sending a letter to the county.
The more we pull together, the sooner we can ride through a winding mountain valley, stop for a beer at the Curlew Saloon and take a splash in the swimming hole. (KT)
DAY 34 * Tuesday, July 17
Although I can tell the Beastie Boys from Bach, I don't know my allegro from my aria. That hasn't stopped me, however, from enjoying classical music, especially in a lovely setting like Manito Park's Duncan Gardens. I'd forgotten what it was called and can't recall a single note from my first trip there nine years ago -- just the feeling of sitting on a blanket amid fragrant perennials surrounded by magnificent music: romantic.
Presented by Connoisseur Concerts under the expert direction of longtime KPBX Program Director Verne Windham, the theme for this year's MOZART ON A SUMMER'S EVE is "Enchanted Garden," including Ravel's Mother Goose Suite.
Some academician can probably explain the lasting impact of classical music -- the way the notes permeate our collective psyche, our bones, our Bugs Bunny cartoons. Whatever. Consider that pregnant mothers play classical music to their babies -- allegedly, to make them smarter. Just by being there, won't you feel enlightened and uplifted? (CS)
DAY 35 * Wednesday, July 18
Eighty years ago, Ty Cobb collected his 4,000th major league baseball hit. He still has the highest batting average of all time.
WHERE THE DINOSAURS ROAM
No, this isn't about Sue the T-rex (although you can still see her at the MAC all summer long); it's even bigger. Based on the 1999 BBC TV series, WALKING WITH DINOSAURS: THE LIVE EXPERIENCE is coming to North America for the first time this summer, and the Spokane Arena is just the second stop on a two-year tour. (It runs at the Arena through July 22.)
TV viewers loved what the BBC did with animatronics and puppetry to bring the long-gone reptiles back to life, and now those methods have been adapted for live audiences. Designed for all ages (although dinosaur death is depicted), the show leads you through a tour of the Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous periods, bringing to life a very different world. Along the way, you'll meet full-size replicas of 15 of your favorite dinosaurs, including the massive Brachiosaurus, the flying Ornithocheirus and, of course, the mighty Tyrannosaurus rex. (And, yes, there will be plenty of dinosaur fights.)
With a budget of around $10 million, the show's producers have created a winner -- at least that's what Australia thought, as the show sold out 10 straight weeks in Sydney earlier this year. (TM)
DAY 36 * Thursday, July 19
Today is the feast day of Vincent de Paul, patron saint of lost things, charities and one of Spokane's best sources for second-hand clothes.
DOUG NADVORNICK'S BEST DAY EVER
HEAVEN FROM HERMISTON
& lt;span class= "dropcap " & I & lt;/span & t's a Thursday morning and I'm on the phone with Jack Bellinger about one of our favorite topics: watermelon.
"So I'm in the supermarket," I say, "and I'm searching for the perfect melon. What should I be looking for?"
Bellinger's a good guy to ask about this subject. He and his family have been growing melons since 1939 in a place that calls itself the "Watermelon Capital of the World," Hermiston, Oregon.
"I like a melon with a faded look," he says from the other end of a scratchy phone line. "And it's gotta have white stripes. That's the signature look of a Hermiston watermelon."
And how do I make sure I pick a good one?
"Tap it with an open palm," he counsels. "Listen for a deep, resonating ring. If it sounds dead, it's probably overripe."
Hmmm. I'm tone deaf when it comes to interpreting the sounds given off by watermelons. I can't tell the difference between "deep and resonating" and "dead." And that's too bad because the stakes are high when you're picking a watermelon. The right one can be heaven, the wrong one... yuck.
"I like a melon with firm flesh," Bellinger continues. "Some like them riper and softer. And I like a melon that has deep red flesh, not pink."
Bellinger and his colleagues grow more than just watermelons. They're also known for their potatoes, onions, grass seed, wheat, hay and sweet corn. But watermelons are why people remember Hermiston.
"We have a unique climate for them," says Bellinger. "Warm days, cool nights. It's the perfect combination for a high sugar content."
Ah, that sugar content. Watermelon gives me the "sweet fix" that I get from chocolate. THE PERFECT SUMMER NIGHT HAS ME SITTING ON THE FRONT PORCH WITH A BIG ROUND PIECE OF WATERMELON. I don't even mind if I have to spit seeds. Neither does Stan Scriven, the youth division winner of last year's all-state Hermiston Watermelon Seed Spitting Contest at the Oregon State Fair. He hocked a seed 37 feet, two inches, farther than any adult in the competition. Makes you want to stretch out your tape measure on the driveway and practice, doesn't it?
Barring unusual weather, the first Hermiston watermelons should be in grocery stores by the middle of July. The big "picnic seeded" melons, as Bellinger calls them, are the most common variety, but he says "petite sweets," smaller, seedless melons, are becoming more popular. Bellinger's also growing a few yellow and orange "boutique" seedless watermelons.
"Sixty to 80 percent of our melons will go to places that are within four hours of Hermiston," he says. But he also ships his fruit as far east as Nebraska and Indiana.
Watermelons have put the little eastern Oregon town on the map. Even folks in Portland point with pride to the prize agricultural product. You can't buy them for three or four cents a pound any more, but even at a quarter a pound, Hermiston watermelons are one of the best parts of my summer.
DAY 37 * Friday, July 20
The inland days turn blazing hot right around now, so this a great weekend to head west, out to the Olympic Peninsula and the small city of Sequim, where average daily high temperatures in July are in the 70s. Today is the kickoff of the SEQUIM LAVENDER FEST, a three-day event spread over eight area lavender farms, with craft demonstrations, farm tours -- and of course, dozens of varieties of the fragrant herb.
About 10 years ago, as residential and commercial growth enveloped the traditionally agricultural land of the Sequim-Dungeness Valley, local farmers turned to lavender as a viable crop that would enhance the tourism opportunities of the area. Sequim sits in the rain shadow of the Olympic Mountains and receives less than 20 inches of rain a year -- about the same as Spokane -- with relatively cool summers and mild winters, making it an ideal climate for lavender.
And just imagine how good the car will smell on the ride home. (AC)
DAY 38 * Saturday, July 21
HARRY POTTER AND THE WORTHY TOWERS
So the last Potter drops at midnight and you no doubt have plans -- if you're any sort of social creature -- to post up outside a store, cop the book, retreat back to some common room and curl up with dozens of your closest friends to collectively ooh and ahh and cheer and wail into the wee hours of the morning.
We're all for it. So's the Davenport. Provided you READ THE THING AT LOUIS' PLACE (by paying for a room), they want to make the book procurement process as painless and luxurious as possible.
You buy the package, they set you up with a room, a goody bag full of Bertie Bott's jelly beans and other treats, unlimited hot chocolate and coffee to keep you up reading, round-trip transport and tickets to Auntie's Harry Potter party and "complimentary broom parking." Adorable!
Best of all, if the prospect of braving the rabid children at Auntie's Potter party is too much (or too young) for you, the Davenport has arranged to have your copy of the book waiting by the massive fireplace in the castle-like lobby at midnight sharp. Dope. (LB)
DAY 39 * Sunday, July 22
James West, former mayor of Spokane, died one year ago today.
Archaeologists are still trying to piece together a fuller picture of the culture that thrived on a dizzying tower of volcanic rock in the Spokane Valley only to vanish abruptly.
"We know they were here on July 22 and all the evidence tells us they had quite the soiree," says Prof. Wade T. Thoeme of the University of Nunavut. "And they were gone the very next day! What a riddle."
Tantalizing clues emerge. Thoeme's teams have found these ancient markings "KPBX: AN EVENING UNDER THE STARS" and cryptologists are hard at work to decipher them. Thoeme speculates it marks a ritual gathering where members of a tribe or clan danced, made offerings of valuables and shared alcoholic beverages made from fermented grapes. "Was this to help them communicate with their gods? We have cryptic references to these people believing they could hear voices 'in the airwaves,'" Thoeme says, stroking his chin in a contemplative manner.
"The cliff dwelling itself is "quite Florentine," Thoeme says. "KPBX... I am certain this is the key. If we can only decipher it." (KT)
DAY 40 * Monday, July 23
Once I took a two-day parachuting class and didn't make it to the second day. (Allow me to make my excuses: After selecting me as his first guinea pig, the drill-sergeant instructor suspended me in some kind of harness -- I'm dangling several feet in the air in front of the entire class, very embarrassing -- and suddenly he yells, "Streamer!" While I'm flailing around trying to find the pull-tab thingie for my secondary chute, he's counting down the seconds until impact. I was pretty sure I'd taken too long with the zippers and straps when he eyed me and said, "Son, you were dead five seconds ago.")
But I have resolved to conquer my fear. Really. (That parachuting class may have been 30 years ago, but a man needs time to steel himself. Besides, I'm the artistic type; I have delicate sensibilities.) That's why I'm going PARASAILING ON LAKE COEUR D'ALENE today. I'm told that I'll be strapped in and seated, with a nice billowy chute just above me and a nice, strong cable connecting me to the powerboat below. I'm working up my nerve to climb Parachute Mountain, see -- and trying to forget that there will be nothing between the lake surface and my exposed butt other than 500 feet of air. Um, can I get a refund? (MB)
DAY 41 * Tuesday, July 24
PARK AND POOL IT
When it just gets too hot to do anything else (much less work), take the day off and head for a neighborhood park and pool. HOLMBERG PARK on North Wall Street boasts a sizeable pool and great park. Pack a picnic lunch and bring the gang. Spread out on a big blanket under the shade of the trees, let the kids go crazy on the playground equipment and forget about everything else. When the heat gets to you, it's just a dollar to take a dip in the pool. Public swim sessions (must be 6 or older) run from 1-2:30 pm, 2:45-4:15 pm and 4:30-6 pm. There are even clean changing rooms and showers. Best of all, you can bring your flotation devices to the last swim session and laze away the remainder of the afternoon. If you need some sustenance after all that exertion, get perked up by heading to LEONARDO'S at Division and Hawthorne Road for some real cappuccino or a thirst-quenching smoothie. (SH)
DAY 42 * Wednesday, July 25
The musical A Chorus Line opened on Broadway on this date in 1975.
DAVID THOMPSON-ING IT
All I wanted for my birthday last July was to go KAYAKING ON THE LITTLE SPOKANE RIVER. A born river nut, I could think of no better way to celebrate life than to mash myself into one of those sleek little units, low to the water, and knife my way down the current and around the bends all blessed day. Unfortunately, the nice people at Mountain Gear only had a bunch of canoes and a two-person kayak. And I wasn't about to sacrifice the grace and agility of a one-man kayak for a tandem. Some doofus friend splashing around behind me, rowing off-time. The thing was long enough that it might've touched both banks were we to get turned across the current. So, a canoe it was. Which was fine. We put in near St. George's School, ignoring the rules about alcohol and inner tubes (two friends illegally navigated a big yellow donut), paddling awhile, pulling up to a sandbar for snacks and drinks and mud fights, paddling awhile, stopping for more refreshments. We took out near Indian Painted Rocks (though we could've kept going to a second take-out near Highway 291). The sun was hot. The day was long. The only thing that would've made it better was a kayak. Next time. (JS)
DAY 43 * Thursday, July 26
Today is the 42nd birthday of actor Jeremy Piven, best known for playing Ari on Entourage. Hug it out, bitch.
She's the woman behind the J.P. Beaumont mystery series and the Joanna Brady mystery series, along with other novels. She splits her time between Seattle (setting of the Beaumont series) and Arizona (setting of the Brady series). She's bestselling author J.A. JANCE, READING AT AUNTIE'S tonight from her newest Beaumont novel, Justice Denied. Beaumont investigates a Seattle drug dealer's homicide that seems routine at first glance, but not all the pieces of the puzzle add up. An unrelated investigation suddenly connects to the murder, and the evidence leads right back to police headquarters. (AC)
DAY 44 * Friday, July 27
Bugs Bunny made his first appearance 67 years ago today in the short film "A Wild Hare."
SPRINGFIELD ON THE BIG SCREEN
Why they waited 18 years (21 if you count the awkward Tracy Ullman period) to make A FEATURE-LENGTH SIMPSONS FLICK is beyond me, but here we are. The show hasn't been funny in a while, but I still watch semi-religiously because, like many (most? all?) members of my generation, The Simpsons has influenced me as deeply as anything else (videogames, the Internet, hip-hop, cell phones). I'm not joking at all when I say that.
Making the film so late, then, has given it a stupefying significance. It's a make-or-break moment -- either a late-life vindication of a long-floundering conceit or the moment I personally write off Matt Groening and company forever.
To their credit, I believe the team senses this. They've already delayed it an entire year to tinker, rewrite and "make it perfect." Fox thankfully hasn't hassled them. Along with Groening, Al Jean, Mike Scully and James L. Brooks -- long th