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by Michael Bowen & r & & r & Menace of the Ewoks

You don't want to visit Merlyn's Science-Fiction Fantasy Store on Saturday just because they're giving away free comic books for 12 hours starting at 9 am. No, the reason you want to drop by 19 W. Main Ave. from 11 am-2 pm is to get your picture taken with a real live Star Wars Stormtrooper.

Stormtroopers don't talk much -- though as everyone knows, in Episode IV, when they're searching for the droids on Tatooine, one Trooper says, "This one's locked, move on to the next one" -- whereas on British TV in the early '80s, they changed it to "This one's secure," which is totally bogus. (We're just saying.)

Anyway, when you're at Merlyn's, you can ask Mr. Trooper how, covered in that hard plastic armor as he is, he manages to go to the, you know, use the... oh, never mind.

Visit or call 624-0957.

News of the Nude

Photographer Spencer Tunick plans to photograph 4,000 or more naked persons in Mexico City's Zocalo Square on Sunday. ("Could you people on the left move in a little? You know, sort of squeeze in closer together?")

Which got us to thinking: If any readers like painting, nudes, nude paintings or painting in the nude (we're looking at you, Tom Quinn), then check out the juried online exhibition, Nudes of the Month, at It's a competition that lays bare artists' most revealing techniques. (Check out Tom's impressive range of work at

Onstage Again

One of our favorite photographers is back in Spokane after five years of living outside the Inland Northwest. If you've followed The Inlander for long, you'll remember Darren Balch's rock 'n' roll photos -- we even ran a cover story on his remarkable career back in 1999.

Now, after 25 years of shooting rock concerts, Balch has released a coffee table book of his work, Virtually Onstage, stretching from 1980s shows at the old Coliseum to a 2005 Alter Bridge show (featuring Spokane's Myles Kennedy). Balch says he's retired from rock 'n' roll now, but his work lives on at, where you can buy his book.

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