Diabolical Intentions -- One of the best things about doing our Summer Guide issue year after year is that every now and then, we get to experience that warm, self-satisfied glow of knowing that we've "made a difference." Case in point? This e-mail from Spangle city councilman Frank Delaney: "Dear Inlander: I wanted to tell you how excited we are in the Town of Spangle to be number 15 on your list of things to do this summer -- '15 - Eat Pie in Spangle.' Your article has elevated us from obscurity into our proverbial 15 minutes of fame - and we are thinking of changing our town slogan from 'Gateway to the Palouse' to 'Gateway to the Pielouse'." Frank also reports that Spangle even has their own "Pie-Eating Devil," one Alan Snell, who is recognized in international pie-eating circles as "El Diablo de Comer de Pastel." Alan can reportedly lay waste to an entire table full of cream pies and still keep his shirt relatively clean. Alan earned his "Pie-Eating Devil" title at last year's Harvest Days celebration; if you think you can take him, this year's contest takes place on Sept. 15.
Top of the List -- If you've often found yourself looking at the books on the New York Times Bestsellers list and wondered "Who picks these?" you're not alone. Which is why the fine folks at the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association have launched their own list, a weekly summation of the best-selling books at independent bookstores in Washington, Idaho, Oregon, Montana and Alaska. Like the New York Times list, the PNBA list is based on sales reports, but unlike the NYT list, this one is a much better indicator of regional tastes and interests. And while it's likely you'll see the same Barbara Kingsolver-Jane Smiley-John Grisham titles you'd find on the Times' list, chances are you'll also see such regional writers as Judy Blunt, Diana Abu-Jaber, Erik Larson, Tom Robbins and more. The list is posted weekly on the PNBA Web site, www.pnba.org.
Brain-Sucking Fiends -- If you're planning to see 28 Days Later -- that creepy new zombie flick by the director of Trainspotting -- you should probably be aware of this next item. "Zombie Alert," offered by Onko Enterprises, looks just like a standard smoke alarm but can detect "zombie presence up to seventeen hundred yards away." The company's Web site warns that "ninety percent of zombie-related fatalities occur in the home" and that brains are "the natural food of zombies." (One can't be too careful.) This is one Web site that's worth a visit for the "technical information" alone: www. www.loris.net/zombie/index.html