Friday, February 26, 2010

Main Market opens in downtown area

Main Market opens in downtown area

Al Stover / Reporting
Nicole Denman / Images

To read the story in its entirely, follow the link to the Communicator website.

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Thursday, February 18, 2010

Indoor market connects community

Indoor market connects community

Al Stover / Reporting
Britney Locati / Images

Inside of the lobby of the Browne’s Addition Community Building, local vendors display their home-grown breads and meats while felt hats hang from wire racks and a musician sings her rendition of Jazon Mraz’s “I’m Yours.”

Every Thursday, the Community Building, located at 35 W. Main ave, hosts an indoor farmers market every starting at 11 a.m. and ending at 3 p.m.

According to Tom Tuffin of Arabesque Farms and Bakery, the community building began hosting the indoor farmers market four years ago. 

His wife, Louise, adds that the main reason for starting the farmers market was for selling their bread directly to their customers. 
“It has turned out better than we ever thought,” Louise said. 

“So” Angell, one of the owners the Rocky Ridge Ranch that is based out of Rearden, was one of the first vendors to partner with the Tuffins. Angell said the market has helped her with selling her free ranged meats and organically grown vegetables.

“It helps pay for the land and the tractors,” Angell said. 

Stacy Blowers, another vendor, sells hand-made chocolates and preservatives that are made with 10 percent sugar. Blowers said the farmers market gives her a hands on approach with her customers. 

“I get good feedback and requests,” Blowers said. “People tell me what they want and I make it for them.”

Brian Estes, a representative for Vinager Flats Community Garden, a program of the St. Margaret’s Shelter, has been a vendor in the market since the beginning of winter. Estes said partnering with the market has helped with their winter potato crop.

“It’s a good outlet to sell what we’ve got left,” Estes said. 

Customers can also buy hand made crafts at the farmers market. Joyce Thomas, who has been a part of the farmers market for two years, uses the wool from the Shetland sheep she raises to create her felted hats and scarves.

“It’s probably eight hours of steady work,” Tom said. 

The farmers market also features entertainment in the form of local musician Suhanna Hamilton, who has been playing the farmers market for two seasons. 

“The people here are wonderful,“ Hamilton said. “It’s one of my favorite gigs.”

Tom said there are 10 vendors every week, on average. He also explained that the structure is less formal.

“There are not a lot of operating rules, people are policing themselves,” Tom said. “There’s a lot more cooperation that way.” 

Kim Harrison owner of Kizuri, a clothing and gifts shop that operates in the same building as the farmers market. She said she loves working alongside the market every week.

“It brings more people into the building,” Harrison said.

Some of the customers who stop in also work in the Community Building. Shannon Blewitt, who works in the Blueprints for Learning organization, bought some bread from the Tuffins and browsed Angell’s meat selection. 

“I am a big advocate for local growers,“ Blewitt said. “I also like the community feeling of the market.”

To read the rest of the story, follow the link

Indoor market connects community

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Couple's passion turns into business

Couple's passion turns into business

Al Stover / Reporting & Production
Britney Locati / Images

Follow the link to LeftBank's website.

Leftbank Wine bar

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Monday, February 15, 2010

Augmented reality: storytelling of the future

Last week I was introduced to a new form of technology called augmented reality. Augmented reality is a technology that uses computer graphics and elements, similar to virtual reality, but in a way that will kind of enhance how we sense things in that kind of environment. This is the nerd in me talking, but it kind of reminds me of the moving pictures in Harry Potter.

Examples of how this technology can be used would be someone looking at the different restaurants on the street and seeing  ratings and customer comments streamed along the restaurant's window that are updated every few hours, or advertisements can display the use of their products. Sports cards can almost come to life with this technology.

In my 225 class our teacher Jason asked us how this could relate this technology to storytelling. If someone was doing a story on a fire and it was going in print, they could have the people who were affected and have the fire going on in the background, while the steam and smoke come out of the paper.

Using my friend's Sarah's Figpickle's story as an example, a reader could hear the sound of kids playing, a cash register in use, and the shop's doorbell ringing as a customer left with their new purchase.

This technology could help also help tell fictional stories in a more visual way. Mystery fans can seemingly follow in the footsteps of their favorite detectives and find clues that could help them solve a murder.  Fantasy fans could get an up close view of a hobbit fighting a dragon.

Two Marvel comics I would like to get a chance to write are Thor and the Incredible Hulk. With augmented reality, I could easily set up a fierce fight between the two powerhouses that someone could read at home, but it would either make it seem to the viewer that they were in the middle of the battle, or it could look like Thor and Hulk were fighting in their own home.

Although it may seem that books and newspapers are being replaced by more visual ways of telling a story, if a person can still enjoy the story then it's all that really matters.

Off the top of your head: What kind of potential do you think augmented reality can serve in the future? How far do you think it could go? Could it be just limited to only storytelling or advertisements, or are there possibilities where we could make entire worlds out of it?


Sarah's Figpickles multi-media piece

Jason's new blog

Check out the Communicator's latest multimedia content

Saturday, February 13, 2010

From the Archive: The MAC


The Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture, or MAC has been a popular landmark for Spokane for many years. It is a place where art and history enthusiasts can go and spend many hours visiting the different exhibits the MAC has to offer.

The museum was first staged in what is now known as the Campbell House, which was designed by the famous architect Kirkland Cutter, who also designed the Davenport Hotel and the Glover Mansion.

After gaining a vast quantity of artifacts, the museum was moved to the building known as the old Cheney Cowles Museum building. Five years ago, the museum went under a $30 million renovation and was rebuilt into the beautiful structure that stands at 2316 W. First Avenue.

The MAC is a jewel,” said Marketing Director Coordinator for Downtown Jami Cary,” It’s a great addition to Spokane.”

The three main focuses of the MAC's exhibits are history, art, and works of American Indians and other cultures. In 1990, the MAC acquired much of the American Indian artifacts from Gonzaga University after their exhibit closed, which makes the MAC's collection one of the largest on the west coast.

The MAC's largest exhibit is the Davenport Gallery. Currently, it is showing an exhibit called Mutual Seduction which displays a variety of automobiles and over 60 mannequins wearing different kinds of clothing that date back to the early 1900s.

Another of the exhibit in the MAC is the Walther Gallery. This features a living presentation of Spokane timeline, with many artifacts from the city's past.

One of the American Indian exhibits is showing several photo gravures of Dug Ellis. Photo Gravures are photos made onto a glass plate that are then acid etched onto copper plates. The copper plates are coated with septic-toned ink and placed into a high pressure press that prints the images onto specially printed paper. Many of the photo gravures are on loan from the Spokane Public Library.

The latest exhibit at the MAC is the American Skaters Exhibit. Many of the items featured in the exhibit belong to the United States Figure Skating Museum and Hall of Fame, but were loaned to the museum to the MAC in honor of Spokane's hosting of the 2007 United States Figure Skating Championships. Items such as Tara Lipinski's gold medal, Brian Boitano's outfit, and the four championship trophies are displayed throughout the exhibit.

Parents and children that visit the museum can spend time at the Activity Room and Education Center. There is also an outdoor amphitheater where the museum hosts movies and weddings.

When Spokane citizens begin their tour of the museum, they step into a past that needs to be remembered
and even honored by all.
Note: This story was published in 38.4 of the Communicator. At this point we had never covered the MAC before and I needed a couple of quick story ideas. After talking with Jason and scheduling an interview, I was led to the museum just as they were getting ready to unveil their skaters exhibit. Although I am looking through this story, I'm finding a lot of the mistakes I used to make and have improved over last couple of years.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Inspiration can come from the most interesting places

One of my favorite writers Richard Lee Byers (Forgotten Realms series) said that if you're going to be a writer in a specific genre, it's best to read outside of that genre. 

With the popularity of fantasy novels rising in young adult readers, most likely do to Harry Potter, Eragon, and the Lord of the Rings movies, authors who aspire to be great fantasy writers have a lot of material to draw on.  I do respect Tolkien, Rowling, and other fantasy writers, I do not hold their works above any other, nor do I see them as the absolute basis for fantasy writing.  Writing is a collective pool of ideas where everyone steals from everyone.

While reading fantasy novels have helped me in my fantasy stories, I have also drawn story ideas from reading classic authors like Alexandre Dumas and Homer, to more modern authors like Stephen King, James Patterson, and Agatha Christie.

By going to college, I have not only learned to fine tune my writing, but I've also used ideas I have studied for stories.  Learning about other cultures have helped me with ideas of how cities are structured and how hierarchies can be established within a society, while I have learned about current events that could easily be transcribed into a story.
Television and Movies have also provided me with inspiration. Like books, there are standards for epic fantasy, like the Lord of the Rings movies and Star Wars to a degree.  However I've drawn concepts from action and drama.  Watching cheesy marital arts movies, pro wrestling, and MMA that can helped me coreograph a fight scene by showing me that how the character's feet and body is moving is just as important as showing the reader how their weapon is moving. 

Buddy comedies and sitcoms have shown how companions can interact with one another as the best of friends, but still have conflict with one another, whether it is a grudge because one friend dated with his best friend's sister, or there was a dispute of beliefs within the group.

Many sports movies have that formula where a team that is last place goes through struggles and victories to make it to the top of their league and win the championship. 

The one scene where I want to include in a story is a scene from Major League II where Willie Mays Hayes (Omar Epps) gets a fight with Rick "Wild Thing" Vaughn (Charlie Sheen). This quick brawl escalates in the whole Indians dugout fighting, with a drunk Harry Doyle (Bob Uecker) commentating on the scene.

Ideas for characters concepts have come from not just stuff I read or watch, but my friends, coworkers, and peers.  I've also cultivated story ideas from them, whether it's reflected on an old game of DND, or just talking in the news alley about the weird stuff we did as little kids.

Off the top of your head:

What has been the most unlikely place where inspiration came to you?


Tuesday, February 2, 2010

How College has helped make me a better writer

Near the end of my senior year of high school, my step father suggested I put together the short stories I had written and send them in for publication.  I said no, because the only writing I had actually done at that time were fantasy stories for my creative writing class and articles in the school newspaper, all of which were not the quality of writing that should be even allowed on near a publisher's desk. 

Even as a aspiring high school graduate, I knew that if I wanted to be an accomplished fantasy writer, I needed to go to college and improve my writing.  For many reasons, this would be the smartest decision I ever made.

The benefit of going to college, especially Spokane Falls Community College, is that many of the professors I have had for my classes have real world experience as writers. They have given me advice and constructive criticism on the writing I submit to them for a grade.  They have also have given me interesting stories and tips they learned in their experiences in their careers.

Another thing college has done for my writing is that it's helped me be more open to other people reading my work.  In all of my classes that required writing assignments, I had to let one or more of my classmates read my drafts and review them.  This made me nervous at first because I thought that my writing would simply be trashed by my classmates either because my writing was not of good quality, or that what I had written had no interest to them. 

However, I quickly learned that my peers were not as merciless when it came to looking at my writing.  They gave their constructive criticism, like my professors, and suggestions to help improve my writing.  Much to my surprise my classmates seem to enjoy reading my writing.  I have also learned to critique my classmates papers in the same manner, offering them advice and complimenting them on their work.

Some of my college classes have had me go outside my comfort zone by introducing me to reading material and writing techniques that was new to me. 

Although fantasy and mystery are the genres I want to base my novels around, my journalism and English classes have pushed me towards the way of writers like Hunter S. Thompson, C.S. Lewis, Henry Fielding, and Jonathan Swift.  From these authors, as well as material covered in my sociology, psychology and history classes, I've drawn various ideas and have used them in my own short stories. 

By writing argumentative essays, after-pieces, and articles for the college newspaper, I have learned to do in-depth research on subjects I really like and even subjects that I don't have a particular interest in.  I have also learned to write in ways that were difficult for me at first, but have become easier with experience.

My professors have also suggested to me other ways I can branch out as a writer with the use of the Internet and multimedia for my stories.  They also suggested that I have a career to fall back on like teaching or public relations.

Although college has given me tools that I can use for writing, I still have improvement that I need to make before seriously devoting my time to a writing career.

Off the top of your head:

How has college or technical schools helped you towards your goals?  Is there anyone in school (teachers or peers) who has influenced you?

Monday, February 1, 2010

From the Archive: Sightings from the Davenport

This was published in Issue 38.2 of the Communicator

This photo was taken by me. This is where Ellen McNarama fell to her death

The famous Davenport Hotel has been one of Spokane's landmarks for over 90 years. Guests from all over the world come and stay at the Davenport. More often than not, they will leave with the desire to return someday. In the past, there have been some guests who had passed away while staying at the hotel. There is no actual proof of the existence of ghosts inside of the Davenport, over the years, there have been many unexplained occurences in the hotel.

It is well known that Louis Davenport, the founder of the Davenport Hotel died in his apartment; which is now room 1105, on the 11th floor of the hotel, in 1951. His wife Verus died in the same room in 1967. Many of the staff believe that the spirit of Louis Davenport still resides in the hotel.

About a year ago, a bellman was rolling a full baggage cart down the hallway. When it was struggling, the cart rolled itself down the hall and stopped at room 1105. The bellman figured that there was a dip in the floor. When he tried this experiment the next day, the cart did not move on its own.

Another occurrence happened on one New Year's eve, a couple from Alaska was staying at room 1105. After returning from the festivities downstairs, the couple went to their room, placed their noisemakers on the counter, and then went to bed. When they woke up the next morning, the noisemakers were on the floor. They placed the noisemakers back on the counter and left for breakfast, and when they returned from breakfast, they found the noisemakers on the floor again. After this happened a few more times, they went to the desk and told the clerk what happened. The staff replied that Mr. Davenport wanted to celebrate New Years.

It was said that Louis Davenport was a cigar smoker. Though the Davenport Hotel is a nonsmoking hotel, some guests have reported smelling the cigar smoke.

If the founder was still here,” said Tom McArthur; Communications Director of the Davenport Hotel. “I would be honored. If he was here, helping the guests and holding doors open, then I say bring it on.”

One well-known legend that actually has a root to it, is the story of Ellen McNamara. According to an article published in the Spokesman Review on August 18, 1920, Mrs. Ellen McNamara; a widow of a prominent New York business man, was staying at the Davenport with her sister and her cousins. Feeling ill, she had told her companions that she would not be attending dinner.  

Feeling the need for some fresh air, Ellen went out onto the promenade on the third floor and went through a door, believing that she could cross the court, by way of the skylight. With the glass not having the strength to bear her weight, she crashed through, her shoulder hit the floor and her head hit the stone upon impact.

When physicians carried her to the second floor Mezzanine, her last words were,” Where did I go?” Since then, guests have been reporting a woman dressed in 1920's attire walking around in the Mezzanine and the lobby , stopping them and asking,” Where did I go?” On the anniversary of her death, McArthur laid a rose on the spot where she died. If one stands on the area, a scent of flowers just might hit their nostrils.

The closest thing I have experienced to a ghost story was on Halloween of 2003,” said McArthur. “I went over to MAC (Museum of Art and Culture) to over the original blueprints. After looking over the drawings, I noticed the stamp on the blueprints was from Cutter and Malmgrem Architecture, dated October 31 1913, 3:20 p.m. When I looked at the clocks in the lobby, they read 3:20 p.m.”

There have been other occasions where people thought they had expeirenced an encounter with a ghost in different areas of the hotel.

A flower designer was setting flowers in the Marie Antoinette Ballroom (Verus Davenport's favorite room in the hotel) for a wedding, when they heard the sound of fabric rubbing against fabric. She called one of the housekeepers who said that the ghosts were dancing.

Down in the spa, on the B level, people have reported seeing a gentleman holding a towel, directing them to where the pool is. The gentleman may have been a butler, as it was common for guests to bring their butlers. They would bunk downstairs, waiting for their master's call.

A week ago, a woman who was staying in room 1103, said she felt her bed move, as if someone was sitting opposite of her. She also felt the sheets rustling. Despite the experience being more surprising than frightening, she asked if she could be moved to another room.

People are just curious about this sort of thing,” said Susan Skeen, a concierge at the Davenport. “They ask if I have ever experienced anything. Unfortunately I haven't, but I would love to.”

Guests, who have been lucky enough to make contact on what they might think to be a spirit, will usually find their experience to be benevolent, helpful, or puzzling. Whether these occurences with the unexplained are actually ghosts or some other unexplained phemonenon, the Davenport is a structure filled with all sorts of human history. If someone listened closely, they might just hear voices in the walls, speaking about the hotel’s rich past.

Though I can't officially say that we have ghosts at the Davenport Hotel, I can say that we might have ghosts at the Davenport Hotel,” said McArthur. “If there was an afterlife where we could choose where to stay for eternity, who would not choose the Davenport.”