From online news feeds and music collections to countless ways to organize our lives on modern phones, you can tailor information and communication to suit yourself.
But a few things still exist only in the realm of imagination.
Say, for instance, you wanted to know how some of the all-time biggest summer movies would be different if they had been set in the Inland Northwest. You would be out of luck.
Well, until now.
Welcome to our quick rundown of Spokane-d summer blockbusters.
“Jaws”: Something fishy is happening in Lake Pend Oreille.
Angered by personal watercraft and beer cans, a great white lake trout has gone rogue. Local elected leaders respond by calling for cuts to public school budgets.
Finally a boat-owning huckleberry picker named Quint is hired to hunt down the leviathan. Quint is quickly devoured by the voracious lunker. Now it’s up to the Navy and its experimental vessels at Bayview to find the killer fish.
“We’re going to need a bigger submarine” becomes the catch-phrase of the season.
“Jurassic Park”: Cloned megarodents from the distant past draw Expoesque crowds to Riverfront Park. All goes well until a South Hill preschooler wanders away from his parents and sticks a fudgesicle into the security fence wiring.
Rampaging marmodons attack crowds gathered nearby for Hoopfest. Hundreds of spectators whip out firearms and begin shooting. Many court monitors are hit.
Spokane’s exasperated mayor, played by Julia Roberts, calls for calm: “It’s just gigantic man-eating rodents, people.”
“Terminator 2”: The police union steadfastly defends a mayhem-minded cyborg cop made of liquid metal. This sets off a chain of events culminating in the apocalypse. In the midst of the devastation, troubled North Side teen John Connor notes that Spokane’s street pavement seems remarkably unchanged by the end of the world.
“Independence Day”: Easily annoyed aliens from another galaxy occupy the Inland Northwest. Real estate agents declare it a good time to buy. A plan to use fluoride to eradicate the invaders fails when it just makes their teeth harder.
Spokane TV sportscaster Biff Manito, played by Tom Hanks, calms the rattled public with assurances that the takeover and wholesale slaughter should not affect GU’s NCAA seeding.
“Spider-man”: After being munched by a radon-saturated spider in the basement, recent Whitworth graduate Peter Parker is given super-bargaining powers.
Fearing a disruption of local commerce, The Spokesman-Review paints him as a menace. Soon resentful shoppers at yard sales begin heckling him.
Finally his love interest, Mary Jane Clocktower, suggests that he stop wearing his costume.
But Parker is summoned from retirement when taxpayers beg him to negotiate a new deal on the county race track.
“Batman”: Moody, brooding Inland Northwest society figure Bruce Wayne lives deep below the Davenport Hotel.
“It’s my underground lair,” he tells anyone who will listen, though most locals just want to talk about how he rigged the tranny on the Batmobile. “Bet that was spendy,” they tell the Caped Crusader.
He works vigilantly to protect the good people of Gotham-Kan by reminding citizens to avoid 2 a.m. parties with a neck-tattoo rate higher than 10 percent.
“E.T.”: A short but spunky visitor from another world is befriended by a group of Coeur d’Alene kids who have seemingly no contact with adults throughout the day.
When the extraterrestrial’s special powers allow the children to fly while on their bikes, an angry neighbor writes a letter to the editor complaining about arrogant cyclists.
“Iron Man”: Industrialist playboy Tony Stark develops a futuristic suit of armor that gives him the strength to get involved in tribal casino politics and resist his comely assistant’s suggestions that he raze buildings in downtown Spokane and turn the property into parking lots.
Featuring cameos by several high-profile local personalities that no one, even here, recognizes.
“Shrek”: A cunning crow and savvy squirrel lead a bewitched STA driver on a magical journey to true love and an all-you-can-eat buffet.
“Do you need a transfer?” becomes a gag-line sensation.
“The Lion King”: Instead of Africa, it’s set in Spokane Valley. And instead of animated lions, there are animated house cats, a resourceful raccoon and a plucky hamster.
Includes the hit songs “Circle of Tuna” and “I’ll Be In Your Minivan.”
“Top Gun”: Everybody’s got doubts about the new grocery bagger at the big store up near Mead. But Maverick wins them over when he shows that, when the chips are down, he’s willing to put a can of peaches on top of the bananas or set the milk on the bread.
Then comes the day when he sees a shopper with 64 items heading for the Express Lane. His express lane.
Maverick: “Talk to me, Goose.”
“Transformers”: The story of power-company line repair crews called out during the ice storm to end all ice storms.
In addition to restoring electricity to a grateful region, they battle crime, save cute animals and learn to love again.
“Forrest Gump”: Forrest has a good-hearted friend who, instead of talking about shrimp, discusses the many ways you can use lentils when cooking.
“The Empire Strikes Back”: Fed up with the use of “Inland Northwest” by Spokane news media, a hardy band of underwear-clad traditionalists blitz newspaper and TV websites with an avalanche of comments about the need to preserve “Inland Empire.”
For a moment there is silence. Crickets chirp.
Then Spokane’s other online posters resume their back-and-forth ranting about the president.