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Posts tagged: Bill Hall

Hall: Jokes That Aren’t Funny Ha-Ha

I'm probably just behaving like a silly Danish senior citizen, but a reader offended me the other day. A fellow elder emailed me what he considered a joke about black people and brown people going to heaven where they stole the Pearly Gates.I was doubly irked, both because my children and grandchildren are part Mexican and because the careless jokester thought I was the sort of oddball who would enjoy a joke that paints my little peeps as thieves just because of what color they are. When I emailed the guy back and called him out on it, he asked me an allegedly naive question, one I frequently hear from people my age. Bear in mind, racist jokes were rampant during our childhood in the 1940s and 1950s/Bill Hall, Lewiston Tribune. More here.

Question: Do you ever call people out on tasteless jokes?

Bill Hall: Baby Faces Better On Babies

I am grateful for the arrival of a tiny Winston Churchill look-alike who has overwhelmed cable television's usual dreary obsession with homicide trials. The baby I refer to, of course, is that little bundle of royal joy born to William, Britain's future king, and to his affable bride Kate Middleton. When word went out that the new baby was about to be displayed before the world, I wondered what the smallest future king looked like. I was disappointed at first when the couple walked out of the hospital door with a large blanket full of baby with nothing showing but the top of a little bald head. The photographers on the scene were yelling, “Show the baby's face.” And I sat here in Idaho in front of our television, yelling from inside my little bald head, “Show the baby's face.” Finally, the proud parents briefly complied. I was instantly embarrassed because, of course, you don't need to see a British baby's face to see who the kid resembles. As Winston Churchill, the wise and savvy World War II prime minister of Great Britain, once said of himself, “Madam, all babies look like me”/Bill Hall, Lewiston Tribune. More here.

Question: Do you think all babies look like Winston Churchill?

Hall: Cat Treats For Our Taste Buds

I realized the other day what a scam cat treats are, not to mention what a fool I have been. You're probably familiar with what those cat (and dog) treats are that humans give to animals - little nuggets of between-meal snacks. Pet snacks are among the ways we have found to ingratiate ourselves with the non-human creatures who share our lives. It is the way we befriend them and bribe them to like us. It's also one of the ways lion trainers persuade their animals not to kill and eat them. The trainers are trying to avoid becoming cat treats themselves/Bill Hall, Lewiston Tribune. More here.

Question: What kind of treats do you give your pet(s)?

Hall: Surprise A Wife, Reap Her Anger

I want it on the record that I would not paint the house orange behind my wife's back. No matter how much I want to paint the house orange, I would never act unilaterally painting the house any new color at all when she is out of town. Mind you, even if my wife might ordinarily adore the idea of an orange house, she would be seriously irked with me if I went ahead and did something like that without giving her the courtesy and the respect of letting her have a say in the matter. Similarly, neither of us would replace our present car with a new one without telling our marriage partner about it. She would never secretly trade in our current car on a new and different one without my input. It takes two to tango in this and in all but the most insane marriages/Bill Hall, Lewiston Tribune. More here.

Question: How are major decisions made in your household?

Hall: Beware Of The Roundabouts

I spent an intimidating period during my younger life dodging danger in the large city of Washington, D.C. But it wasn't the muggers who scared me or the insane drivers or the presence of admitted politicians. It was the roundabouts. Those circular intersections were unnerving to a newcomer. So I was not sorry to leave them behind when I returned to the less frantic streets here in Lewiston. But now this small city is building a roundabout. And I trust we will survive the great honor of experiencing an enhancement we don't especially need. Mind you, I have nothing against the theoretical idea of a roundabout. After all, I lived to tell about navigating such a thing. But there is a definite learning curve to find your way safely into and out of that traffic gimmick/Bill Hall, Lewiston Tribune. More here.

DFO: When the city of Coeur d'Alene proposed the first roundabout, by the Nazarene Church on 4th Street, I thought the Street Department had lost its collective mind. Now, I'm a ha-huge fan of roundabouts b/c they get traffic through tough intersections quickly.

Question: Do you (heart) the roundabouts in the Coeur d'Alene/Post Falls/Hayden areas?

Hall: Drinking Coffee The Waxy Way

Until recently, coffee was part of the glue that holds couples together. Previously, when two people moved in together, they were, without realizing it, creating several subtle tests of whether they could exist as a permanent pair. Coffee, for instance. If he likes his coffee dark and strong and she likes hers light and bland, they are confronted with a choice: They can each make their own separate pot of coffee. Or they can compromise on something halfway between the two.Or maybe it's not coffee. My wife doesn't care for coffee. I do. So coffee was not our test when we decided to pair up for life. Granted, her distaste for coffee seemed a bit strange to me. What kind of grown woman doesn't like coffee?/Bill Hall, Lewiston Tribune. More here.

Question: Do you and your mate share the same taste for coffee?

Hall War Teaches Geography Lessons

Geography teachers tend to put their students to sleep. And no wonder. Until you've been there, who cares where the Rhine River runs? Or what kind of winters they have in North Korea? Or which ocean is home to Iwo Jima? And what's an Iwo Jima anyway? All three places were once boring to most third-grade geography students. However, all three of those places eventually became lethally interesting. In fact, the day would come when former third graders would suffer and die in all three locations.War is a terrible geography teacher. It knows how to make the topic not just interesting but also so terrifying that the grieving families of the dead will never forget where an unlucky loved one met his end/Bill Hall, Lewiston Tribune. More here.

Question: Did you know where Vietnam was before our long war there? Afghanistan?

Hall: Everyone Gets An Extra Brain

My wife tells me that when she was 5 her kindergarten teacher sent a note home to her mother complaining that Sharon was absent-minded. And she is, to this day. So am I. But just because you are absent-minded in your senior years doesn't mean that you're losing it. Most of us have always been that way. Don't we all forget where we left our car keys? Don't we all go into a room from time to time and, upon arriving, have to stop and think what we went after? Absent-mindedness is more glaring at an advanced age than it was when we were 6 or 60 or - the most distracted age of all - sweet 16. Whatever our mental status at 80, we are brilliantly focused by comparison with a 16-year-old boy ogling a 16-year-old girl while walking insanely across a busy street without looking. Sharon has told younger members of our family that story about her teacher's kindergarten note. She urges them to keep that in mind before they decide to park us in some human storage unit because we seem to be getting absent-minded/Bill Hall, Lewiston Tribune. More here.

Question: Are you absent-minded?

Bill Hall: Beware Of The Bicycle

At the Lewiston Tribune, columnist Bill Hall suggests a compromise that would allow bicyclists and pedestrians to coexist on sidewalks: “If you’re jogging or walking and you decide to move over to one side of the path without looking, and a bike comes along, it can wipe out all parties. It’s almost impossible for a cyclist to go over the top of a pedestrian without mashing the sorry sucker and then being thrown into the pavement himself.When I switched for a time to the bicycle, I became aware of that. I soon copied a few alert cyclists who had known about the danger. They used to come up behind me on their bikes when I was running and call out, 'Coming by' or 'On your left.' I did the same at first on my bike, but then I remembered those little musical bells we used to have on our tricycles and bicycles as children. They attach to the handlebars and are operated by your thumb and make a weird but cheery little sound of “Ring! Ring! Ring!” So I bought one. Better to be silly than mash a jogger while wiping out yourself.” More here.

Question: Have you ever had a close encounter with a bicyclist on a sidewalk — or the Centennial Trail?

Bill Hall: Zucchini & Tofu For Brains

I heard a scientist on television say that the human brain is about the same consistency as tofu. That explains a lot about the limits of human thinking. Too many of us have tofu for brains. We prove the limits of the human brain when we choose tofu - and zucchini - for dinner. I mention zucchini in the same context as tofu because both are nearly flavorless foods that are eaten for reasons other than flavor or excitement. I was reminded of that by a newspaper recipe urging us to cook tofu in hot Mexican sauce. That is a desperate and revealing attempt to impart flavor to a tofu dish. Tofu is not eaten because it tastes so great, or because it tastes at all. It is eaten for two reasons - because it is a large, healthy dose of the protein vegetarians need in place of meat and because it makes the people who eat it feel morally superior to meat eaters.Zucchini, by contrast, is not exactly brimming over with nutrition. You could eat tons of it every day and starve to death if you didn't also consume something like meat, tofu or maybe a five-gallon latte/Bill Hall, Lewiston Tribune. More here.

Question: Anyone out there regularly eat tofu? Really?

Bill Hall: In Search Of The 1st Tomato

This is the time of year when I keep a close eye on our tomato plants. But I didn't know until now that the tomato plants may be keeping an eye on me. Daniel Chamovitz, author of the book “What a Plant Knows,” makes a convincing case for the premise that plants can see. Maybe that sounds like a joke, or perhaps still another writer with insane ideas stretched into a theory. But, depending on how you define “seeing,” Chamovitz makes persuasive point. “A plant sees what we see,” he says. “A plant sees light. So if you take someone who's completely blind and by surgery in some way giving them a camera, allow them to see just shadows, would we say that person now has rudimentary sight?” Bear in mind, this is a time of year when home tomato growers are going after bragging rights for the first ripe tomato in the neighborhood. My wife and I are among the contenders here on the bank of the Snake River less than a mile from the lowest and therefore warmest spot in Idaho/Bill Hall, Lewiston Tribune. More here.

Question: How are your tomatoes doing?

Hall: Join The Pity Party For My Hair

Your pity is misplaced if you have been hoping that someone will invent a “cure” for baldness. If you want to cure something, cure the abnormal crop of hair on a mature man's skull. Scientists who condescendingly try to find a “cure” for the non-disease of baldness might as well be developing a potion to make women stop growing breasts. Talk about confusing a normal condition with an ailment. Speaking of “curing” baldness is like curing handsome. It's like the daffy terminology for depriving an animal of its reproductive possibilities by saying you have had the dog or cat “fixed.” Wrong. What you do in that situation is to have the animal broken. You sever its natural ability to produce offspring and thereby convert it to an unnatural state of reproductive dysfunction. Consequently, I was not among those shiny-headed men who ran cheering into the street at the recent news that science may actually have found a “cure” for male-pattern baldness — some new goo to rub on a bare head to grow a childish clump of head hair/Bill Hall, Lewiston Tribune. More here.

Question: Have you fought to stop your receding hairline or let nature take its course without whining?

Hall: Heal The Young Indestructibles

They have been called the young indestructibles, young adults in the prime of life who are pretty darned sure they are immortal and don't need medical insurance. Life can have wicked surprises for people who don't have insurance. When you suddenly decide you need insurance, it's usually too late. Insurance doesn't get your attention until you have run up a large and unexpected medical bill. Insurance is a strange purchase. You buy it hoping you never get your money's worth. If you didn't get your money's worth this year, it's because you didn't get seriously sick or hurt. However, if people who shun insurance protection are called the young indestructibles, then most of the rest of us should be called the old suckers because we end up not only buying our own protection but paying for the medical care of those who walk the tightrope of life without an insurance net beneath them/Bill Hall, Lewiston Tribune. More to come.

Question: What life's lesson taught you that you aren't indestructible?

BH: The Kindness Of Pious Conceit

I received a call from a reader one time who was hot under the collar that Mormons had posthumously baptized her dead son. After her son died, his young widow joined the LDS Church and the mother was offended that members of that church were trying to win the dearly departed an eternal ticket to the right kind of heaven. The mom wanted me to chastise them for their impertinence. She was livid, and I understand why, but the offense, though insensitive, was meant as a favor. More often than not, hurtful differences among religions are based on badmouthing each other. But this was well intended. Mind you, those LDS baptizers might at least have notified the mother what they were planning to do. But I tried to get the mother to look on the kind side of what happened. Strangers had tried to do something that they sincerely considered a favor to the son/Bill Hall, Lewiston Tribune. More here.

Question: Bill Hall has a point: If you don't believe in the Mormon practice of baptizing for the dead, why should you be upset that they do so?

Hi-Noon: A Failure To Communicate

English is a moving target. Like all languages, it never stops changing. Words drop in. Words drop out. The longer you live, the more words you need to retire from your speaking or writing because they are unknown to newer portions of the population. For instance, we went to a fast food shop the other day and the clerk asked me if I wanted chopped onions in my chicken salad. “Hold the onions,” I said.The clerk looked at me with a hint of alarm in her young eyes. She thought I actually meant she should hold the onions in her hand or in her armpits or something. I quickly realized that what we had there was a failure to communicate. She was working in a restaurant but she had never heard the old hash house (a restaurant) slang “hold the onions.” She didn't know that meant leave out the onions/Bill Hall, Lewiston Tribune. More to come.

Question: Hall goes on to say that a grocery clerk referred to his wife recently as “your old lady”? Do you ever use that expression for your wife or “my old man” for your husband?

Hall: Where Is Your Cat Right Now?

The Internet website LiveScience.com recklessly reveals a dirty little secret about cats with no apparent realization that the information might put cats out of business if we all come to realize what we have been sponsoring all these years. What we have been sponsoring is wholesale mayhem. We have been harboring fuzzy little murder machines that cut a merciless swath of daily death through millions of well-intentioned though filthy rodents.LiveScience.com makes the brave and honest point, whether we want to hear it or not, that rodent populations would explode without cats — our cats — carrying out their constant savagery/Bill Hall, Lewiston Tribune. More here.

Question: Is your cat a good mouser?

Hall: Apologizing To John Steinbeck

Oh, great. I just finished reading a book by John Steinbeck and now I owe him another apology. Pity that he's dead. He was also dead the first time I owed him an apology. In fact, it was his dying that made me so regretful I hadn't written to him.We humans love our lists - the best movies we ever saw, the biggest fish we ever caught, the most beautiful actress we never caught (Sophia Loren) and the best novel we ever read (“East of Eden” by John Steinbeck.)Actually, it's virtually impossible to choose No. 1 in such matters. The best movie and the best novel are like your favorite child; there's usually no such thing. You love one kid for this and the other for that and they both shine in your mind and in your heart. It's like trying to decide whether your favorite food is fried chicken, pizza, caramel ice cream or chocolate chip cookies/Bill Hall, Lewiston Tribune. More here.

Question: Which John Steinbeck novel is your favorite?

Bill Hall: Eternal Tires & Batteries

A few years ago, I had a flat tire on my car after decades without one. But long, long ago, I had several flat tires every year. Similarly, it had been many years since a car of mine refused to start. And then the other day, it happened. I immediately knew why, though I am far short of being widely recognized as a mechanical genius. It had dawned on me one day that the battery in the car we bought new almost seven years ago had yet to need a replacement. So even I realized that was a stretch. I vowed I would, in a timely matter, replace the battery before it stranded us somewhere. To dysfunctional mechanics like me, a timely manner means one of these days. Thus it was that the battery was rude enough to die on me/Bill Hall, Lewiston Tribune. More here.

Question: When did you last have a flat tire on your vehicle? And/or: When did you last experience a dead battery on your vehicle?

Bill Hall: Pleasure Of A Hot Tomato

Was it really only three weeks ago that I was standing coatless in the vegetable garden ingesting a substance so intoxicating that it probably should be declared a dangerous drug? I speak of tomatoes - hot tomatoes straight off the bush, so hot from the sun, so succulent and slobbery that devouring them verges on an erotic, almost biblical experience. The weather made a sharp turn this autumn from late warmth to sudden winter. Hot tomatoes one day, black tomatoes the next. We are still eating blushing green tomatoes from the kitchen counter, but the outside heat has gone into hibernation. Heat does wild things to tomatoes and to some other fruits that are normally eaten chilled/Bill Hall, Lewiston Tribune. More here.

Question: Which vegetables or fruit do you enjoy eating off the vine in the garden?

Hall: Why Congressmen Fear For Jobs

Tell me something: Why is it that members of the military repeatedly risk their lives for their country but most members of Congress won’t even risk losing an election?  Why is it that policemen routinely go out there in the night along lonely highways and down dark alleys daring death, but members of the House and Senate tremble in their boots at the thought of defying moneyed lobbyists and ignorant voters on matters of principle? Why is it that members of the fire department dare run into a fire to save a child, but most members of Congress don’t dare tell a menacing lobbyist with a pot full of cash to put it where the sun don’t shine? Most members of Congress would rather become puppets of pressure groups than die a mere political death at the polls. What is it that they fear?/Bill Hall, Lewiston Tribune. More here.

Question: Do you think columnist Bill Hall is right — that most congressmen would rather be toadies for lobbyists and special interests than put their jobs at risk?

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D.F. Oliveria is a columnist and blogger for The Spokesman-Review. Print Huckleberries is a past winner of the Herb Caen Memorial Column contest by the National Association of Newspaper Columnists. The Readership Institute of Northwestern University cited this blog as a good example of online community journalism.

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