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Christopher Spata, Times Staff Writer

Christopher Spata

Christopher Spata is a web producer and features writer for the Tampa Bay Times, focusing on entertainment, pop culture, social media and things to do. He also contributes to The Feed blog. A lifelong Floridian, he previously worked as a web producer and entertainment reporter for the Tampa Tribune, and covered sports for the Ocala Star-Star Banner. He graduated from the University of South Florida in 2011, and joined the Times in 2016.

Phone: (727) 893-8719


Twitter: @spatatimes

  1. The Mill restaurants offering half off when customers donate items for hurricane relief


    The Mill restaurant in St. Petersburg and its newly-opened location in Brandon are collecting donations to help residents of the Florida Keys who've been affected by Hurricane Irma.

    The restaurant asks that locals bring toiletries, baby formula, baby food, baby wipes, pet food, socks, canned goods, bottled water, flip-flops and other non-perishable food and supplies to the restaurant today and Wednesday....

    The dining room at The Mill in St. Petersburg photographed in 2015.
  2. Words With Friends now allows 'bae,' 'yas,' 'hangry' and 50,000 other new words


    It's hard to believe that the Scrabble-esque, mobile, multi-player game phenomenon known as Words With Friends has been around since 2009, but even more surprising might be the volume of new words (or something like words) that have entered the lexicon in that time.

    The last eight years of social media, texting and pop culture have brought us acronyms like "FOMO" and "TFW," along with "bae," "hangry," "kween," "werk" "fitspo," "smize" and "turnt." "Bestie" and "BFF" have certainly been around longer, but failed to garner enough respect to be playable in Words With Friends — until now....

    Words With Friends is adding 50,000 new playable words today.
  3. What Florida's massive, post-Irma power outage looked like from space


    Stunning images from NOAA and NASA satellites show what Florida's lights looked like from space before and after Hurricane Irma left millions in the state without power. The darkness is perhaps most stark in the Florida Keys, normally a bright line off the state's tip, which appears completely dark on in the after-Irma image.

    Here's the full image from the Suomi NPP satellite's VIIRS instrument, courtesy of NOAA. On the left is Florida on May 11, 2017 at around 3 a.m. The right is Sept. 11, 2017 at the same time....

    On the left is Florida on May 11, 2017 at around 3 a.m. The right is Sept. 11, 2017 at the same time.
  4. 'Hot cops' from Florida go viral with Hurricane Irma selfie, now they're making a calendar


    The night before Hurricane Irma was expected to affect their city, three Gainesville police officers snapped a quick selfie at the start of their shift. The photo made it to the Gainesville Police Department's Facebook page, and from there, the world.

    "Officers Nordman, Hamill and Rengering...part of the night crew getting ready to do some work. #Irma," read the caption on the photo.

    Hundreds of thousands of people have since shared it, and the comments are filled with compliments on the officers "hunky" looks....

    The Gainesville Police Department posted the selfie on its Facebook page.
  5. On Little Gasparilla Island, Irma washed away Tampa family's 'pink house' leaving barely a trace


    It has been a conversation piece for years on Little Gasparilla Island: the "pink house," the one that sat so far out on the beach that people on the balcony could fish from it and get splashed by the surf when the waves came crashing in.

    The popular vacation rental, as of today still listed on VRBO for $249 a night as a three bedroom "beach shak" with balcony sunsets, dolphin watching and a rattan couch, was farther out on the beach than any of the surrounding homes, partly thanks to beach erosion since its construction in the late '50s....

    A photo from the vacation rental website VRBO shows how close the house was to the water.
  6. Video: A boat ride down Key West's flooded Duval Street party district


    Anyone who's ever taken a vacation down to Key West will recognize it.

    The massive Sloppy Joe's bar, party central in the middle of the island's party central Duval Street district in Old Town, is home to the annual Ernest Hemingway look-alike contest and has served up countless ground beef sandwiches and hangovers.

    On Sunday, an "extreme meteorologist" took video as he rode by, navigating flooded streets and toppled Key West Citizen newspaper boxes in the wake of Hurricane Irma. ...

    An "extreme meteorologist" took a ride down Duval Street after Irma.
  7. Horse in the living room: We asked Tampa Bay to send us their hurricane photos, here's what we got


    We put out the call on the Tampa Bay Times Facebook page for our readers to send us their best photos as they prepared for Hurricane Irma's arrival in Tampa Bay. 

    Here's what our readers sent us on Sunday.



    One reader sent us this photo, saying her boss had made a makeshift stable in her living room.
  8. Video: Bob Buckhorn press conference on Hurricane Irma curfew


    Here's the live video from Tampa mayor Bob Buckhorn's 11 a.m. press conference on Sunday.


    Bob Buckhorn's 11 a.m. press conference.
  9. Spectrum and Xfinity wifi hotspots are free for everyone in preparation for Hurricane Irma


    Charter Communications announced today that it is opening its Spectrum wifi hotspots for free to non-customers to increase internet access and aid communication across Florida during Hurricane Irma.

    Spectrum has more than 32,000 wifi access points across the state, Charter spokesman Joseph Durkin said.

    Those who are looking to connect to the internet through a Spectrum hotspot should pull up the available networks on their device. If there's a Spectrum hotspot available within range, it will be listed as "Spectrum WiFi," Durkin said. ...

    A look at Spectrum's wifi hotspot internet coverage in Tampa Bay.
  10. Airbnb offering, and seeking, free rooms in Florida and Georgia for Hurricane Irma


    Airbnb is using its online vacation rental marketplace to connect those with a safe space to offer to those in need of temporary shelter during Hurricane Irma. 

    In anticipation of Irma's path toward Florida, Airbnb has activated its Disaster Response Program, which allows users to list their homes on the service free of charge for evacuees fleeing the storm and responders traveling toward it to help. Airbnb will also waive its own service fees to make qualifying rentals truly free of charge....

    Airbnb activated its Disaster Response Program on Thursday.
  11. Tampa Bay breweries offering up free water for Hurricane Irma prep as an alternative to stores


    One thing Tampa Bay's numerous craft breweries have in abundance, aside some from delicious beer, is the essential beer-making ingredient of filtered water. 

    As the area preps for the possible effects of Hurricane Irma, a number of those local brewers are offering to fill up growlers, or any other containers you bring by, with some of that water, for free. That will be good news to some Tampa Bay residents who have struggled to find bottled water on store shelves during the rush to stock up on supplies....

    Coppertail posted on Facebook that it would fill jugs with filtered water for hurricane preparation.
  12. GasBuddy and Waze tracking gas stations with and without fuel in Florida, but they need your help


    Looking for stations with gas in the Tampa Bay area or anywhere else across Florida? As Hurricane Irma approaches, prompting long car lines and outages at some stations, there are apps for that. 

    GasBuddy, an app normally aimed at helping people find the cheapest gas prices in their area, has shifted gears and activated its emergency Gas Tracker feature to help with preparation and evacuation. The GPS navigation app Waze sent out an alert this morning that it wants users to "help your community find gas."...

    GasBuddy's tracker map showed stations without gas in the Tampa Bay area on Thursday morning, though the data isn't always accurate.
  13. Free internet in Florida: Comcast makes Xfinity wifi hotspots free to all during Hurricane Irma


    Cable and internet provider Comcast is offering free internet across Florida through Sept. 15 to help residents and emergency personnel stay connected during Hurricane Irma.

    The company is opening its more than 137,000 Xfinity wifi hotspots throughout the state to anyone who needs them, including non-Xfinity customers, it said in a news release on Wednesday.

    "For a map of Xfinity WiFi hotspots, which are located both indoors and outdoors in places such as shopping districts, parks and businesses, please visit," the release said....

    Comcast is making its Xfinity wifi hotspots available to non-customers at no charge.
  14. Will Zello work without phone or internet service during Irma? What to know about the walkie talkie app


    As Hurricane Irma continues its path toward Florida, the free, live voice app Zello has shot to No. 1 on the iTunes charts. 

    That's likely because of news stories about the role the walkie talkie-like app played in helping responders and locals communicate in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey in Texas. 

    Channels can be set up and designated for specific purposes, allowing people to connect without phone numbers. In Houston, there were channels for the "Cajun Navy" volunteers who used it to find people in need of rescue from flooding, and for midwives who offered advice after Harvey....

    Screen shots of Zello, a walkie talkie-like app that shot to No. 1 in the Apple App Store.
  15. Nazi problem at the Castle? Not true, say the nightclub's regulars


    For nearly 25 years, the Castle nightclub has been a gothic haven of free expression in Ybor City.

    In addition to attracting tourists from around the world, longtime patrons say it's a sanctuary for members of the LGBT community. There are geeky cosplay nights, fetish parties, steampunk balls and gatherings for fans of the "vampire lifestyle."

    The dark, multi-story club vibrating with industrial and '80s music is, as a former manager put it, a place where all are welcome: "You might see a guy wearing a polo shirt, next to a guy wearing a Misfits tee, next to a guy in a Chewbacca suit next to a guy in a tutu."...

    \After closing time, people mill about the brick-paved street in front of the Castle in Ybor City. TIMES FILES (2006)