I have this theory that in order to encourage summer you have to (almost) act like it’s already arrived. A couple months ago I stopped eating soup. On Tuesday, when it hit 62 degrees in Seattle, I wore shorts instead of pants. Think about it… soup, pants, these just aren’t the things of summer people, and I, I want my summer to know I’m ready for it. While we wait, there are certainly other indications that the season is “upon” us (let’s keep it in quotes until I see one solid week of sun) and we should hopeful-y approach some elements of summer with full force…

What’s interesting about THIS summer as opposed to last is that at this time last year, talking heads were celebrating the fact that entertainment had not taken a hit as a result of the economy. The Hangover, Star Trek and The Proposal drew big numbers at the box office and tours from acts like Nickelback and No Doubt were selling out amphitheatres. It appeared that people were making allowances where they saw fit.

This summer… things’ve changed. While it’s being widely acknowledged that the concert season across the boards is suffering, would-be giants in theatres are also under-performing. Iron Man 2 bested its predecessor (and The Karate Kid has serious legs), but Sex & the City 2 opened at nearly half its original ($31 mil) and big names couldn’t save Killers or revamped The A-Team from opening below projections as well ($16 mil and $25 mil, respectively).

Bottom line is that money is likely being re-prioritized (again), and the allowances of last year are no longer. It seems fitting therefore to spend some time highlighting the great FREE events happening this month—not in an effort to further sabotage the weakened industry, whether local or national, but rather to help guide you through the process of continuing to support it, however you might be able…

While MY July 4 weekend includes Rihanna at White River and a screening of “Eclipse” with my Nana and Mom (because I’m 14 years old, yep), one of my favorite things about Spokane in the summer are those 4th of July festivities in Riverfront Park. There’s music—Six Foot Swing, Matt Russell, Soul Proprietor, and a Spokane Idol competition(??)—and there’s a Saturday night screening of locally filmed The Basket at the Lilac Bowl. Food vendors aplenty and a fireworks display that caps off the weekend are not to be missed (I know I’ll be there)! Events start in the park each day at 11 a.m. More info at riverfrontpark.com.

The Browne’s Addition Concert Series is likely a little more low-key and lasts throughout the summer. Beginning July 1 with Big Red Barn, events happen every Thursday night in July and August from 6-8 p.m. at the park. Highlights include July 8 with Jenks along with crafts and games (attn: families), July 22 with Mon Cheri (attendees are encouraged to ride their bike), and Seattle artist Camille Bloom on August 12.

Newly renamed The Seaside features free karaoke nights on July 5 and 12, and a seriously amazingly-marketed “Broke Hipster Night” on July 1 which, while not free, might be worth your time. Featuring DJ Benjamin Jorgens, the night also boasts $1 beers, $3 chicken strips and fries, all for the $3 price of entry.

And since on my current workout routine, that “stuff” would lose me… for the rest of you, might I suggest a Twitter follow of celeb trainer Bob Harper (@MyTrainerBob) whose (semi-regular) daily challenges have been kicking my butt as of late. Example: Today drink 10 glasses of filtered water, do 50 pushups, 100 squats and shave 200 calories off your diet. Catch up with meee on Twitter at twitter.com/crushingrocks. Catch up with meee on http://twitter.com/crushingrocks.