Advertise Here

The Slice

Archive for December 2011

Sometimes New Year’s Eve gets better

Maybe you're at some forced-frivolity gathering with the heel you've been seeing when you realize you would rather be with the one who adores you.

So what do you do? That's easy.

Here's hoping your 2012 is full of happy endings. 

This date in Slice history (1996)

Today's Slice question (complete this sentence): You know someone will never ever move away from the Spokane area when… 

For all my old building and loan pals

Here's a reminder.

Don't forget to say, “And Happy New Year to you, in jail!” 

This date in Slice history (1999)

A cartoon in the year-end issue of The New Yorker says it all.

An expressionless woman seated in a living room with her husband asks, “What do you think sitting around being bored out of your mind will be like in the new millennium?”

Born in Spokane Department

The first female full professor at the Yale School of Medicine was Dr. Dorothy M. Horstmann. She was born in Spokane in 1911. She died in 2001.

Among her many achievements, she was a pioneer in understanding how the polio virus attacked the nervous system.  

Another TV marathon to consider

The AMC channel is going to show every episode of “The Walking Dead” on New Year's Eve. Check listings.

There's more to this show than dead people trying to eat the living.

You cannot trust TV Land channel

I've known for some time that the cable channel takes some pretty hideous liberties with cutting scenes from many of the old shows it presents. But yesterday I encountered the worst-ever whack job.

Though I have seen it a million times and know every line, I set the DVR Thursday morning to record an episode of “The Andy Griffith Show” called “Man in a Hurry.”

I'm not alone in regarding it as among the show's best.

Anyway, I got around to watching it before bedtime last night. I was ready to spend a few minutes with an old friend. And, to my utter amazement, I discovered that the preservers of our pop culture heritage at TV Land had chopped off the ending.


Someone watching “Man in a Hurry” for the first time would not know it concludes with the sweetest little grace note.

Sleep well, Mr. Tucker. Your many fans will always remember your story the way it was meant to be told.

Born on this date 100 years ago

The late actress Jeanette Nolan was born on Dec. 30, 1911. She spent some time in Spokane in part because her husband was from here.

I once had a retired nurse tell me that during a Spokane hospital stay, Nolan's husband was a total pain in the ass. But that same nurse said Nolan could not have been more congenial.

New Year’s midnight kisses

Of course, circumstances vary. But it seems as if these smooches should be three things.

1. Firm.

2. Close-mouthed.

3. Not a five-minute performance.

“How can you stand to work there?”

I'm asked that question every now and then, often in response to an S-R editorial or political endorsement.

Today's editorial on “Complete Streets” prompted the latest query of that ilk. My correspondent found the piece uninformed and utterly lacking vision. I did not try to talk him out of that reaction. I, too, am tired of the suggestion that cyclists don't pay taxes.

But here's the thing about editorial pages. They exist in an orbit all their own. 

Maybe it requires denial or rationalization, but people who start working for newspapers either figure that out or they don't.

So my answer to that guy's question is this: I don't define the S-R by the editorial page alone.

My guess is most readers don't either.

Just wondering

What percentage of people who received a nifty new chef's knife for Christmas have already cut themselves with it? 

Let’s go to the transcript

Here's an actual conversation I had with another cyclist this afternoon as we waited for a light in downtown. We were right next to the Toyota dealership. This other guy, who looked to be in his 40s, started by complimenting the white, cat-shaped horn I have on my handlebar.

Other guy: “My daughter has one just like it.”

Me: “Thanks. With the bike being black and all, I wanted something that showed I wasn't trying to be badass or anything.”

Other guy: “Are you saying my daughter is not a badass?”

Me: “I wouldn't want to say before meeting her.”

Today’s vintage beer advertisement

No, despite the name, this was not a Spokane product.

Long ago but not far away

It has been a geologic era or two since I could be counted on to join colleagues for an after-work trek to what used to be called a watering hole.

Nothing about such gatherings works for me these days. And though there are co-workers whose company I enjoy, I guess I don't really miss these outings. Not enough to change my sacred schedule anyway.

But I recently learned that there used to be a hotel in downtown Spokane called the Sillman. The lounge there was called the Monkey Room.

I love that. At the Monkey Room, the cocktails menu included offerings such as the Waikiki Volcano and the Missionary's Downfall. 

Since this discovery, I have been fantasizing about what it might have been like to dive into a little Tiki kitsch culture just a few blocks away from the newspaper building. I fully suspect the actual place left much to be desired. (Someone commenting on a previous blog post about the Sillman recalled there being a lot of police calls to the Monkey Room.) Still, it has been fun imagining referring to it with co-workers.

“Shall we repair to the Monkey Room in about 20 minutes?”

Or “Who's up for a debriefing at the Room of Monkeys?”

Or maybe we wouldn't need to say even that much. Perhaps you could declare a plan with two words.

“Monkey Room?”

Ladies and gentlemen, The Cavaliers

And now, please welcome Doug Robertson and The Good Guys.

And who could forget The Zephyrs?

Don't answer that.

Can you see me now?

“One more Skype story,” wrote Mary Alyce Konesky. “I have a child in each of the four United States time zones and we managed to pull off a Skype conference with all four families on Christmas Eve morning.”

Now she just needs someone to move to Hawaii so they can add another time zone to the mix.

Best New Year’s movie scene

“The first thing that popped into my head was Michael giving Fredo the kiss-off in 'The Godfather II',” wrote Tara Leininger. “I am blaming my husband for this as he is the owner of the boxed set — and still will watch it whenever the first two movies on are on TV. (I don't think he's watched No. 3 twice.) I just roll my eyes and do something else. But here I am, thinking of New Year's movies and all I can come up with is Cuba and the revolution.”  

Life is not fair

Each December, as the new year approaches, I'm reminded of the time I attended the Tournament of Roses Parade in California.

This was for work. It was in the late '90s.

That, in itself, is not remarkable. But here's the thing.

There are people — female people — in my extended family who are really, really into that particular extravaganza. And yet they have never gotten to witness it in person.

On the other hand, it would be fair to say I am less excited about it. And yet I got to see the parade and, because of my press credentials, wander around the staging areas and spend time within sniffing distance of the elaborate floats.

Like I said. Life's not fair.

Greetings from Spokane

Given the postcard choices available, I wonder who would have chosen to mail this. And why? Maybe these were free.

This date in Slice history (1999)

Today's Slice question: What percentage of Spokane area lifers enjoy seeing newcomers with big ideas fall flat on their faces?

Ice age

The ice was a little soft at the Riverfront Park rink this morning.

It was perfectly fine for skating. They do a good job at the Ice Palace. Someone who hasn't skated much wouldn't even notice. And with the weather we're having, it certainly was to be expected.

There are two schools of thought about whether soft ice makes skating easier, if not as efficient physics-wise. But I suspect it didn't seem soft to the kids who fell. And fall, several of them did.

It's a wonder anyone ever learns to ice skate, the joys of going down hard on an unyielding surface being limited as they are.

For young children, though, the falling distance isn't all that great. So most of them keep getting back up. (A few crawl off and never look back.)

I wanted to tell this one little boy (a repeat faller) that he really had guts. But it was apparent that he was concentrating and I didn't want to distract him.

This date in Slice history (2001)

Today's Slice question: In recent weeks, what Inland Northwest workplace has been the area's most dessert-infested office?

Asked and answered

The Slice had asked who would be spending part of Christmas visiting with distant family members via a Web camera system

“My husband and I arranged a Skype session with his sister, Becky, who lives in Indonesia,” wrote Judy York.

They are on different sides of the international date line.

“The biggest challenge was trying to figure out the best time to chat since they are 15 hours ahead.”

Dan, Maria and Lexi Obenchain got to connect with Rachel Obenchain, who is working as an au pair in Florence, Italy.

Marianne Guenther Bornhoft and her husband video-visited with his sister in Melbourne, Australia.

Marilyn Othmer hooked up with a grandson in Virginia.

And in the matter of why people talk to their pets, an email arrived from Shelley Davis.

“I don't have protracted conversations with our cat, Samantha. I say 'Hey, Boo Boo' upon rising and returning home, which she answers with a short 'Maa'.

“And I usually ask her if she turned off the water when she's done getting a drink out of the faucet in the bathtub, to which she has no reply. My husband, however, has more lengthy conversations with her. He often argues with her about whether he has pet her enough or fed her enough.”

Nancy Downing said she talks to her cats because they start the conversations.

And Karen Botker had a simple answer: “Why not?”

There's more on both of these subjects in tomorrow's print Slice.

A couple of personal records to report

I'm pretty sure Dec. 28 is the latest date in the calendar year that I have ridden my bike to work.

But after providing those right-on-cue puffs of snow Saturday morning (the day before Christmas), Mother Nature can do whatever she wants and I won't squawk.

The other record? I got panhandled before 6 a.m., as I was about to put my bike in the handsome cage out behind the newspaper building. That has to be the earliest.

Guy said he wanted to buy some coffee.

I gave him a buck and he asked God to bless me.


GM, Alfred E. Neuman had same motto

I wonder how you say “I think we can take these guys” in Japanese.

What should Spokane drop?

In Flagstaff, Ariz., they drop a giant pine cone to mark the start of the new year.

Spokane, Washington 2:41 p.m.

She didn't seem like someone who would turn heads.

She had on a silly amount of makeup. And it did not appear that her eyes were ablaze with the sparks of a special personality. But she was a young woman who seemed fit.

So when she asked a route related question, to no one in particular, these two guys sitting near her on the No. 43 bus lurched into action.

They were not together. I'm tempted to call them Dumpy Guy and the Knit Hat Man. But that sounds demeaning. So I won't.

Let's just say they both know their STA route schedules. And they were happy, delighted even, to share their knowledge of the timetable with her.

They were, in fact, showing off.

Hey, it's what a lot of guys do.

I don't think I had ever seen exhaustive knowledge of the bus schedule used in an attempt to impress a woman. But I have now.

And though a bit obvious because of the feverish presentations, it was not obnoxious.

One of those guys got off at her stop, but my window was too grime-caked for me to see anything.

Eggnog: Yes or No?

I know some find it about as appealing as a brimming cup o' phlegm. But I could drink eggnog every day. Of course, maybe I wouldn't say that if I actually did it for a few weeks.

“I hate men!”

1. Dad bears a striking resemblance to the volcanic editor in “Spider-Man.”

2. Did the young girls who read these check out the dumped daughter's figure and wonder if they were supposed to look like that? Or dress like Carmen Miranda, except without fruit?

This date in Slice history (2001)

Today's Slice question: What should be Spokane's No. 1 New Year's resolution?

When New Year’s Eve parties go wrong

About the time my wife was born in St. Louis, her parents lived next door to a young mother named Stella Stevens. She had yet to become a national sex symbol.

Just wondering

1. Why would someone put the Christmas tree out by the curb on Dec. 26?

2. You are aware, aren't you, that black-eyed peas aren't always shelved near the beans?

3. If you overheard someone referring to a Spokane wrestling showdown between Thompson High and Hoover High, would you know what's being discussed?

Next: Annual “Twilight Zone” marathon

It's Dec. 31 and Jan. 1. Find details at

This date in Slice history (1994)

Today's Slice question: Could your family go without TV this weekend?

This date in “Twilight Zone” history

The most head-on treatment of Christmas in the show's run, “Night of the Meek,” first aired on Dec. 23, 1960.

Starring Art Carney as a tattered store Santa with a drinking problem and a big wish, this episode's heart is in the right place. But primitive production values, iffy writing and wooden acting from the supporting cast make this one a stocking full of coal.

If this had been the pilot, the series never would have gotten the green light.

It's too bad, really. Christmas-loving TZ fans wish “Night of the Meek” rang the bell. It just doesn't. 

Ghost of Christmas Past

“Hello Paul,

“My wife, Sandy, and I were having a latte at Madeleine's Wednesday morning and it all of a sudden dawned on us that we were sitting right where the amazing and magical mechanized Christmas displays were in The Crescent window,” wrote Jeff Nadeau.

“What a difference a few decades make. From staring in through the windows in rapt fascination as children, to staring out through the windows with pangs of nostalgia as adults.”

For the rest of us

Happy Festivus.

I have to admit that I had forgotten. But my colleague Gina Boysun, who knows her “Seinfeld,” intends to observe the holiday.

I've already heard her make a reference this morning to a Festivus miracle.

Santa down

“I'm concerned about all these 'dead' Santas lying in folks' front yards,” wrote Donna Potter Phillips. “They were meant to be fat, bright, shiny and inviting but laying airless and flat, covered with frost, surely can give a sour meaning to Christmas. What must children think? How can a dead-flat Santa come visiting?”

Apparently, Donna, you have never heard of Zombie Santa.

Forget about leaving out some milk and cookies. He has another sort of snack in mind.  

An early Christmas present

Heard the annual excerpt on NPR's “Morning Edition” this morning.

“Oh, little elf! Little elf!”

 Wondered how many others listening know it note by note.  

This date in Slice history (1999)

Today's Slice question: What would be the ingredients in Spokane sauce?

Because he was a fixture here for years…

…there's a decent chance that you have met one of these guys. No, not John Denver.

Voice from the past

I like to set the radio on “Scan.”

But I sometimes tap the button to halt the station-hopping when I hear Adrian Rogers.

Rogers was a big deal Southern Baptist preacher for many years. He died in 2005, but a local radio station airs recordings of him in the afternoon.

I first encountered him about 30 years ago, when I lived in the South. He's probably one of the 10 most socially conservative people I have ever met — and there is robust competition for that status.

I was working on a feature story about people's early-morning routines. And Rogers cheerfully answered a few questions. He couldn't have been nicer.

But I never heard him do his thing until long after I had moved to Spokane.

Let me tell you. He was one terrific speaker.

Great voice. Superb delivery.

I don't think I share a single one of his big beliefs. And I find his vision for what America ought to be utterly appalling.

But man, could that guy deliver a sermon.

So sometimes I listen for a few minutes. His message is wasted on me, but I enjoy the sound of his speaking.

And I like remembering when talking to people with whom you do not agree didn't always have to be a fight.

This date in Slice history (2000)

Today's Slice question: What Christmas song makes you want to run screaming from the room?

And in an item about birthdays overshadowed by Christmas, Mike Schieche suggested the way to avoid this problem was for adults to curtail a certain activity in March.

I wish everyone could have a new bike

Perhaps the formula isn't quite that simple. Maybe you also need a pet sleeping on your bed and cowboy boots.

Talking the talk

I can't claim to have conducted an actual survey or anything.

But I have been listening to passing clusters of predawn joggers for years. And here's what they tend to be talking about.


1. Their kids. 2. Work stuff. 3. Their spouses. 4. Service encounters. 5. Something that was on TV the previous night. 6. Vacations/travel plans.


1. Work stuff. 2. Their training regimens or other outdoor activities such as skiing. 3. Their kids. 4. Something that was on TV the previous night (often sports). 5. Their spouses. 6. Current events. 

What’s next? A portable telephone?

Aren't you supposed to wipe off your lipstick before you turn in?

And below we see a woman with a child-whacking spoon used to defend the cookie stash. You know those kids would totally spoil their dinner.

The rest of the story

I tried to cram 10 pounds of stuff into a 5-pound bag in today's print Slice. That happens sometimes when I come back from a week off.

Anyway, one item in particular got a bit deflavorized in the condensing process.

So here is the original submission, pretty much just as reader Bruce Burton emailed it to me.

“Subject: The hardest I have been punched

“Paul, in regards to your question, that's an easy one. In 1976 I was a 15-year-old welterweight, boxing in the California state A.A.U. Junior Olympics and had advanced to the gold medal round. Two days before the big bout my coach thought it would be a good idea to go to a cross-town gym to spar with a middleweight a few years older and more experienced than I was. It didn't take long before I walked into a hard right hand that dropped me so hard I still don't remember leaving the gym or the drive home.

“Twenty years later my Spokane dentist was looking at an X-ray and asked 'So how did you break your jaw?' I knew right away it was that middleweight and that hard right cross.”

Burton had not known about the facial fracture before that.

“When I came home that night I dug out the silver medal I had been given for losing that humiliating unanimous decision in L.A. (just two days after getting decked by that middleweight). I threw away the guilt I've had for going to the canvas every time I took a head shot in that gold medal round. Now I feel better knowing that I did get up every time I went down and finished the fight, even with a broken jaw.”

Mr. Burton, you were — and I suspect still are — one tough hombre.       

Please welcome the Winter Solstice

If your calendar says winter doesn't begin until tomorrow, that's because it is already Thursday in the Eastern Time Zone.

One way to note the arrival of the solstice in Spokane is to do a close, careful clipping of your toenails before turning in tonight. That's so your dry, split nails won't painfully snag the bed covers and jolt you out of a dream in which you were talking to Matt Damon and Scarlett Johansson about Bloomsday. 

Nothing says Christmas quite like…

Classic stoner comedy.

Heard this just this afternoon. Wish I could remember which radio station.

I wonder what the age range is for those who are potential fans of this particular seasonal staple. Maybe 49-64.

Saying “hello” to everyone you meet

On December 1, I declared an intention to take Burl Ives' advice. I would walk around downtown Spokane and “Say hello to friends you know and everyone you meet.”

And, with the help of volunteer assistant Jeanie Buchanan, that's what I did during the noon hour today.

Our finding? People are a bit wary of strangers.

Stop the presses!

Only a small percentage of our targets flat-out ignored us or seemed truly pained to be dealing with unsolicited attention, though. And quite a few of the dozens of people we fleetingly engaged turned out to be sincerely upbeat, returning my “hello” with an enthusiastic greeting of their own.

Maybe it's the season. But it struck me that some of us probably crave a little good cheer, even something as small as a smile glimpsed in passing.

Now, of course, this was a stunt. It was not serious social inquiry.

And it should be noted that Jeanie, 62, has a welcoming face. I'm sure her presence helped soften the disposition of some of the strangers we encountered.

Moreover, it would be misleading to imply that we didn't get a few looks suggesting that people wondered if we were evangelists or salesmen of some other sort. What else would you expect?

A couple of people acted as if they thought it was insane that I took the liberty of making eye contact. A few women regarded me as I imagine they would a sign-wearing sexual predator. One or two young guys were too busy acting tough to acknowledge my greeting.  And a couple with an infant seemed on the brink of genuine alarm.

“They're after the baby! Aiiiiiieeeeee.”

They did not actually say that. But I know when I'm not wanted.

Like I said, though, a lot of people were pretty darned holly jolly.

I don't mind telling you that, in recent nights, I had a couple of those eyes-suddenly-wide-open-at-2 a.m. moments upon remembering that I had signed up to do this.

But early in our walk around downtown — both outside and on the skywalks — I started to enjoy the experiment.



A lot of people here really are friendly. Maybe you've noticed.     

This date in Slice history (1995)

Today's Slice question: Who gets asked for a date more than anyone else in the Inland Northwest? 

Zuzu grew up to be a self-serving idiot

The TCM channel recently trotted out a special on Christmas movies over the years. Though there were a few good bits, I wish I had that hour back.

There was, though, one astonishing moment. It came courtesy of the rather dim woman who, as a child, played Zuzu in “It's a Wonderful Life.” She suggested that the Jimmy Stewart film should have won the Academy Award for 1946's Best Picture instead of “The Best Years of Our Lives.”


I like “It's a Wonderful Life” as much as the next guy. I consider it high praise to be called someone's “Old building and loan pal.”

But it's simply not in the same league as “Best Years.”

Teacher says every time a bell rings, some child actress grows up to be a moron.

It must be an abrupt transition

There's a woman on the bus who reads romance novels during her ride downtown.

That's fine. I'm not judging her.

But I assume she is on her way to work. And it just seems like going from the world of her books to real life could be an uncomfortably jarring change.

Reading one of those at bedtime, that I could see. But to be immersed in the story of a beautiful, headstrong lass one moment and then walk right into “You're late — I need you to redo that inventory report”…well,  that seems like an invitation to experience emotional whiplash.

But maybe that woman puts her book aside but keeps thinking about the story. And when her boss is giving her a bad time about some minor matter, maybe she's nodding but actually thinking about a handsome outcast who simply needed the love of a special woman to be the man he yearned to be.

This date in Slice history (1996)

There are already way too many sad stories: So please don't give someone a pet for Christmas unless you are 100 percent certain the animal will be happily cared for and loved for the duration of its life.

Obscure brushes with minor celebrities

This hasn't exactly caught on like wildfire in the past. But I'm in a mood for another round.

As usual, I'll go first.

I once lived next door to Alex Chilton's sister.

Twenty years ago on “MST3K”

On Dec. 21, 1991, “Mystery Science Theater 3000” got in a seasonal mood with this brutally awful piece of work.

No. 1 song on this date in 1966

Brian Wilson has said the title has its origins in his mother's belief that dogs picked up on you know what from people.

What the puck

I realize this is impossible to read. But that one locater line connects to the Spokane Comets.

I'm thinking Don Draper didn't work on the Murray Goldman account.

Then there was this.

Then this.

I might be off about the sequence. But if challenged, I can always check with Paul Delaney.

Lack of snow creates a few openings

For would-be sled dogs anyway.

This afternoon a skateboarder who looked like a youngish teen boy was being pulled at a surprisingly decent clip by two small dogs on long leashes. This was happening on Arthur, south of 29th.

The pets really seemed to be into it. And though they were the size of RV dogs, they didn't appear to be straining.

But they weren't the most disciplined team. When a bigger canine in a fenced yard barked at them as they went by, the two skateboarder-pulling pooches veered off to tell the yard dog a thing or two.

I was too far away to hear if the boy tried to recover the situation by yelling “Mush!” or whatever. But I suspect it wouldn't have done any good.   

Smells like yule spirit

Or maybe it did. Don't think this has been around for a long time.

Wonder what it really did smell like? Gingerbread and sugar cookies maybe. Or reindeer sweat.

Getting stuff on the kitchen ceiling

“A few years ago, I was roasting some chestnuts in the oven but forgot to make cuts in the shells,” wrote North Idaho resident Debbie Kitselman. “Pretty soon there was the sound of chestnuts detonating.”

There was no time to lose.

“We managed to get the tray out of the oven safely by throwing a towel over the nuts which were by now exploding at an alarming rate. The plan was to carefully lift the edge of the cloth and stab each one to release the built up steam.”

Easier said than done.

The first attempt resulted in a scalding explosion of chestnut guts.

 Kitselman's rugged husband ran to the garage and returned with a pair of safety glasses.

“Here,” he said to his wife. “Put these on and be careful.”

Then, as Kitselman tells it, he backed away and left her to deal with “the ensuing carnage.”

They ended up having wash the kitchen ceiling and the cabinets. But everyone survived.   

Sausage: It’s what’s for lunch

This must have been quite a list. Because, personally, I can think of only about 40 or 50 options.

“As new as 1960”

As I recall, you were required to have one of these.

It’s a funny thing

There are those who genuinely enjoy receiving Christmas cards even though they send out zero themselves.

Back when magazines were a big deal

This sequence seems pretty accurate.

The new cars were coming but hadn't arrived just yet.

Be sure to pay attention to the closet.

Can you spot Rockwell himself?

This date in Slice history (1994)

Just wondering: Do the words “Some assembly required” send a shiver up your spine?

Give me five

1. It is possible to discuss the pronunciation of “poinsettia” in a calm manner.

2. Some people who don't eat meat but are not performance vegetarians will confide in certain company that the aroma of steaks and roasts cooking never loses its allure.

3. Compliance with burn bans appears to be spotty at best.

4. You wouldn't be the first to ask yourself, “What am I doing living in the midst of voters who elect someone like that?”

5. Driving around and looking at holiday lights just isn't the same without snow.   

This date in Slice history (1997)

Always look for that “Made at the North Pole” label: “Many Christmases ago, our daughter Lydia gave me one of the best indirect compliments I'll ever get,” wrote Keith Newell.

“I had worked many long evenings constructing a wooden dollhouse from a kit, barely getting it built and painted in time for Christmas morning. She was delighted with it.”

Later, he overheard her talking to a friend. “I KNOW there's a Santa Claus,” she said. “Because my daddy could never have built such a nice dollhouse.”

Just wondering

Do you remember those black rubber pull-over snow boots that had what seemed like 30 metal clasps?  

Accusations based on zero evidence

When I was a kid, Sports Illustrated magazine was important to me. I looked forward to each issue.

So when, in my first year of being a subscriber, my copy did not arrive at the end of December, I was livid.

I decided that the mailman must have stolen it. I'm sure my parents suggested that this was unlikely. But as I recall, I was adamant. The mail carrier was a thief. Case closed.

Then I happened to read in the fine print of my latest copy that there was not an issue in the last week of the year.


I recall that I did come clean. But I suspect I quickly moved the conversation on to other subjects. 

It’s not some big hardship or anything

But when your vacations are noted as part of the public record, so to speak, friendly strangers seem a bit disappointed to hear that, no, you didn't go anywhere.  

No. 1 song on this date 40 years ago

There was a bit of controversy surrounding this song because of sexually suggestive lyrics.

Not everyone stayed at the Davenport

On television 50 years ago tonight

In an episode of “The Rifleman” called “The High Country,” Lucas gets mixed up with some mountain folk who blame him for the death of one of their own.

It first aired on Dec. 18, 1961.

On television 40 years ago tonight

On Dec. 18, 1971, an episode of “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” called “Ted Over Heels” first aired.

Ted Baxter falls for the daughter of Chuckles the Clown.

Season of miracles

One problem with avoiding downtown Spokane because you don't like the parking options is that this policy rules out the possibility that you will experience the minor thrill of happening onto a miracle spot.

You know — a legit, roomy streetside opening right in front of your destination.

I was off work last week but still had occasion to drive downtown just about every day. And time after time, the perfect parking spot beckoned just as I arrived at my destination.

Maybe I should buy a lottery ticket. 

Dogs in Santa hats

Ghost parties

It's not just right now, of course.

But because people do a lot of entertaining in their homes in December, we're often reminded at this time of year of Christmas parties from years gone by.

You can review the highlights out loud, and laugh or groan. Or you can just sit and remember.

That's where Dan stood and held court, just weeks before the accident.

Over there by the refrigerator, that's where Bob and Susan met.

That's where the mistletoe was hung.

And that's where Anne was sitting when Whiskers came out from hiding and got right on her lap.

If you close your eyes and tune out everything else, you can almost hear the past.

If you look closely

You can see that this was a Spokane product.

Maybe machines conspire against you

And maybe you managed to snag your car's seat belt on the posture-position changer and that's why the seat-back keeps reclining, seemingly of its own accord. 

Saturday’s battle of Christmas records

Which would you rather hear?


Or this?


Or this?


Or this?


Or this?


Or this?


Or this? 

Five pictures of families watching TV

Revenge of the recent newspaper retiree

My favorite Christmas card this year came from a former colleague. It features a happy scene from “It's a Wonderful Life.”

 After the seasonal sentiment printed on the card, there's a hand-written note.

“And Happy New Year to you, in jail!”

The “in jail” part is crossed out and beneath that is written “at the S-R!”  

Happy birthday to the late Jane Austen

Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle. 

This date in “Twilight Zone” history

On Dec. 16, 1960, an episode called “A Most Unusual Camera” first aired.

A couple of petty crooks wind up with a camera that spits out snapshots showing scenes of the near future.

Do they use this technology wisely? They do not.

Yes, that actress played one of the “Fun girls” in a classic “Andy Griffith” episode.

Just wondering

What would you conclude about a longtime Spokane resident who has never set foot in Auntie's bookstore?

Pictures of cats in Christmas trees

Some holiday lights come with a story

My street goes east and west.  As you approach the western end of it you see some white Christmas lights in the yard of the house on the north-south street right at the conjunction of the T.

These sweet little lights are strung around an enormous rock at the edge of the lawn.

That rock hasn't always been there. But a few years ago a young man exercising questionable judgment decided he would drive really, really fast late at night. And by the time he realized that the street runs out, it was too late. His vehicle wound up zooming across the yard and plowing through the wall of the house at the T.

Not long after that, a few landscaping changes appeared around that house, including the huge rock. It looks like it would stop a tank. Or at least it would stop a car-driving teenager who has been drinkiing beer.

But maybe the next kid will see the Christmas lights and take it as a sign from above that maybe it would be a good idea to slow down.  

Did people decorate bomb shelters?

You know, for Christmas?

Long ago but not far away

This store was open when I moved here. But it closed not long after. I'm pretty sure I wasn't to blame.  

Meet me at the Monkey Room

How many remember the famous lounge at the Sillman Hotel, at the southwest corner of Third and Monroe?

The problem with street hockey

Eventually some of the kids acquire the ability to lift the puck. And as most of the players are not wearing shin pads, this leads to some wicked bruises and much colorful language.

The solstice is just a week away

Gird your loins.

Kisses of steel

Good grief, Super Girl. Don't stare or anything.

Overheard at Spokane Internal Medicine

An elderly woman in the waiting room late this afternoon reacted to her appointment being delayed.

“That's the story of my life,” she told the woman sitting next to her. “Nothing goes right.”

Let heaven and nature sing.

There are many odd things about this

What, in your opinion, was the strangest aspect of the storyline?

I'll open the bidding with the affection for the general. And where exactly were all those former soldiers supposed to stay once they got to Vermont? Then there's the matter of Vera-Ellen's impossibly small waist.

Overheard at the P.O. on South Grand

Mother to a free-range toddler who was grabbing greeting cards from a revolving display rack and depositing some of them on the floor. Though I heard the child's name many times, I couldn't really understand it. So I'm guessing about that. The rest is verbatim.

“Don't do that, Sharona.”

“Don't do that, Sharona.”

“Don't do that, Sharona.”

“Don't do that, Sharona.”

“Don't do that, Sharona.”

“Don't do that, Sharona.”

“Don't do that, Sharona.”

“Don't do that, Sharona.”

“Don't do that, Sharona.”

“Don't do that, Sharona.”

“Don't do that, Sharona.”

“Don't do that, Sharona.”

“Don't do that, Sharona.”

“Don't do that, Sharona.”

“Don't do that, Sharona.”

“Don't do that, Sharona.”

“Don't do that, Sharona.”

“Don't do that, Sharona.”

“Don't do that, Sharona.”

“Don't do that, Sharona.”

“Don't do that, Sharona.”

“Don't do that, Sharona.”

“Don't do that, Sharona.”

“Don't do that, Sharona.”

“Don't do that, Shaorna.”

“Don't do that, Sharona.”

“Don't do that, Sharona.” 

If you need CPR on your holiday spirit

The Slice Blog recommends ducking into the lobby here.

Same night, different cities

Wednesday’s Slice question

Have you ever heard anyone besides Heath Barkley say “Boy, howdy”?

On TV 40 years ago today

“Bing Crosby and the Sounds of Christmas,” with various Crosby family members and guest stars Robert Goulet, the Mitchell Boys Choir and Mary Costa.

Today’s vintage Christmas card

You might enjoy this website.

Endangered species

Actually, extinct would probably be more like it.

Preemptive volume control

One good thing about being the first person in your car dealer's service area waiting room in the morning is you can leave the TV off and hide the remote.

(Note to my friends at Appleway Acura: I meant to replace it before leaving, but must have been almost dozing when the service rep came to fetch me and I forgot. The remote is tucked back behind the TV in the recessed wall unit.)  

Key insights free for the asking

A Spokane TV news crew stopped at a post office I visited yesterday

Too bad they didn't interview me. I was ready with a helpful quote.

“Of course, it's busy at this time of the year. What did you expect?” 

“I’ve given you my lips!”

Hey, pal. Watch out for her raptor claw.

Cool Stuff Department

Ten years ago on “The West Wing”

In an episode called “Bartlet for America,” it's just before Christmas. Leo is preparing to appear before a House committee about not disclosing the president's MS. And viewers learn a lot about the relationship between Leo and Jed through a series of wrenching flashbacks.

It first aired on Dec. 12, 2001. More than a few “WW” fans might have this on their list of 10 favorite episodes. 

Before Santa went online

This 1977 ad reminds me of the first item in tomorrow's print Slice.

A longtime correspondent who is a Spokane postal worker shared it with me.

It seems a little girl who had written a letter to Santa thought of something to add after her envelope had already been sealed. So on the outside of it, she wrote: “P.S. Please write back. No pressure.”

Monday’s battle of Christmas albums

Which would you rather hear?


Or this?


Or this?


Or this?


Or this?


Or this?


Or this?

Well done, gentlemen. Well done.

It's certainly a good thing to feel sincerely proud of your workplace colleagues. And to be moved to a moment or two of got-something-in-my-eye appreciation of their grace and dignity.

But it's sad when the occasion prompting these feelings is their group retirement party.

Sometimes people you got used to taking for granted remind you of how to conduct oneself with class. 

Sunday’s battle of Christmas albums

Which would you rather hear?


Or this?


Or this?


Or this?


Or this?


Or this?


Or this?

If you went out today…

You probably saw scenes like this.

It's a happy sight. But sometimes it's tempting to imagine the Jeff Bridges character from “Starman” putting a hand on the tree and bringing it back to life.

Home ice

Saw some skaters on the Canon Hill pond this afternoon.

Looked like fun. But it reminded me of my late father's warnings about natural ice.

In a nutshell, here was his message:

Skate too early in the season and you will fall through the ice and die.

Skate too late in the season and you will fall through the ice and die.

He believed bad decisions had consequences.

Today’s battle of the Christmas albums

Which would you rather hear?


Or this?


Or this?


Or this?

This date in Slice history (1994)

Today's Slice question: How good are you at predicting which of your friends members of the opposite sex will find attractive?

Slice answer

“Since I have a teenager and she often invites her friends over to eat or just hang out, I really don't think I want to know what the story is behind the marks on the kitchen ceiling,” wrote Jan Jesberger. “I'll probably find out at a family gathering, Thanksgiving 2019, when I can laugh at it.”

You’re always the last to know

My 1987 compact hatchback passed its emissions test.

Thank you. Yes, I'm proud.

Anyway, I was folding up the form they give you at the testing station to put in an envelope with the other form you send in along with a check to get a new sticker for your license plate.

I just happened to notice that, on the emissions test report, my car is described as a “station wagon.”

Who knew?

Should I have been conducting myself in more “My Three Sons” manner all these years? You know, loading up the family truckster with kids, dogs and miscellaneous suburban lifestyle accoutrements.

Nah. I guess not. Besides, I mostly ride my bike.

Ladies and gentlemen, the roast beast

Who doesn't like to say that?

Ursus arctos horribilis

I can see being ambivalent about Lewis and Clark if you are native. But it seems like everyone else in our part of the country ought to be able to cite a favorite theme in stories spun by the expedition.

Me? No contest. It's the accounts of the explorers' introduction to grizzly bears.

I've always loved that. You can picture those guys shaking their heads and saying “What is the deal with these western bears? You shoot 'em three times and they just keep coming!”

Well, until roads, housing developments and our need to extinguish every trace of wildness shoved them into a corner.

I know this sounds like a sitcom bit

But when I was in junior high, I had a friend who owned a football that he said a relative had caught in the stands at the 1963 NFL championship game between the Chicago Bears and New York Giants. That would have been half a dozen years before I saw it.

It looked just like the one below. It was branded with “The Duke” and all the rest.

And we played tackle football with it.

I'm sure some of us questioned the wisdom of treating a potentially valuable souvenir so casually (though this was before awareness of collectibles was standard). But I think my friend's attitude was, “What's a football for?”

Not sure if his father shared that view.

Of course, my friend might have been lying about the whole thing. But I'm not sure how easy it would have been for a kid like that to get his hands on an official (at the time) NFL ball some other way.

Besides, his uncle or whomever had to be in a pretty lousy behind-the-end zone seat to have caught that ball. That always added a note of plausibility to the story.

This date in Slice history (2000)

What do you do when you're in a pay parking lot and the painted numbers are covered with snow and ice?

Spokane and the women of “Star Trek”

Which of the many actresses who appeared in the various shows has the most Inland Northwest look-alikes?

Just wondering

Could you believe in a God who cared about the outcome of football games?

This date in Slice history (2000)

Seven key questions:

1. In your experience, what variety of Christmas tree is most likely to draw blood if you get anywhere near it with exposed skin?

2. Do the people who write product descriptions for some of the Coldwater Creek catalogs smoke something to get in the mood?

3. If someone planning to write a magazine story started showing up at your workplace pretending to be an employee, would anyone notice?

4. How will you react when a family member tells you it's time for you to stop driving?

5. What's the difference between a Washington fruitcake and an Idaho fruitcake?

6. Has a kid rehearsing for a Christmas pageant ever asked, “What's my motivation?”

7. Should a couple engage in reindeer games before the third date? 

Before the Festivus pole there was…

Birds of a different feather

Walking through Riverfront Park alone on a chilly morning seems like the perfect occasion for some poetic reverie about life, the seasons and prospects for the future.

But what I found myself thinking, not for the first time, was this.

Those ducks at the park sound to me just like Burgess Meredith as The Penguin in that old TV version of “Batman.”

It's a good bet that they aren't really trying to quack like one of the Caped Crusader's arch-enemies. But they still make me smile.

And who really knows when ducks are trying to be funny?  

This date in “Beverly Hillbillies” history

On Dec. 7, 1966, an episode called “The Woodchucks” first aired.

Jethro joins a birdwatching society to meet women.

This date in Slice history (1995)

Warm-up question: If one accepts the notion that there are all these angels in our midst, would it be fair to say that they are, at best, underachievers?

Battle of Christmas Albums, Round 2

Which is better?


Or this?


Or this?


Or this?

After Pearl Harbor

“I had turned 6 on Dec. 5, 1941, a birthday celebration long lost to my memory,” wrote Slice reader Meg McCoy.

“What I do remember is my mother and father listening to the radio on that Sunday when the attack was announced. My mother was crying and my father, a WWI veteran, was so angry he could hardly speak. As a 6-year-old, I wasn't able to comprehend the full import of what was to follow. The image imprinted on my memory is my mother crying. It didn't take long however for the unprecedented changes in our lives to be felt.

“My three cousins enlisted in the Army that same week.”


Exciting penmanship multiple choice

When using a stylus to write your name on one of those electronic signature-capturing devices near cash registers, how's your penmanship?

A) Laughable. B) Doesn't even deserve to be called a scrawl. C) You would think I am a celebrity dashing off yet another autograph. D) Not quite as precise as the handwriting employed by doctors writing prescriptions. E) Clear, careful, F) About like a contestant's on that old show “What's My Line?” G) It resembles a seismograph reading. H) It looks like modern art. I) Other.  

Slice answer

What is the Spokane area definition of “cultural elite”?

Gary Polser wrote, “Lives south of Third.”

This date in Slice history (2005)

Let's start with a couple of questions.

If you believed in guardian angels, what letter grade would you award yours for his or her performance in 2005?

And what would you say in a formal sit-down performance evaluation with your GA?

Duel of the Christmas albums

Which is better?


…or this?


…or this?

Today’s seasonal vintage beer ad

Nothing says “Christmas” quite like a guy who cannot see loading up the car with coldies.

Slice answer: Living room light

“Since our dining room is really part of our living room, I am hoping this qualifies,” wrote Mary Ann Barney. “When it is time for dinner and we've got the food on the table, I pull the dimmer switch down to cast a lovely soft light over our plates as we eat. But I know that if I pull it down just a fraction of a centimeter beyond acceptability, my husband will protest loudly, 'I want to see my food!'” 

Dog droppings road trip

Slice reader Jim Malm shared an observation from the weekend.

“I was driving behind a young woman in a small station wagon with a dog in the back who was apparently returning from a dog walking excursion,” he wrote. “She had conscientiously picked up after her dog but apparently didn't want the offending material in the car with her, because a lumpy green pastic bag was tied to the rear windshield-wiper motor post.

“It took awhile for me to realize what the situation was, but then thoughts of interesting unintended consequences immediately came to mind, particularly if the baggy had been attached to the wiper blade.”

Life here in the Wild West

“Lately 'Near Nature' has taken on a new meaning at my house,” wrote Donna Milbourn, a West Plains resident. “Before I walk the 60 feet down my driveway to get my Spokesman-Review in the morning, I have to check to see if the cow moose and her calf are in my front yard eating apples and pears.

“Since it is still dark when I go out, it does make it a little more exciting and I wonder how many other Spokane residents have this much fun first thing in the morning.” 

Do you remember Christmas Seals?

If you don't recognize these gentlemen, this isn't the blog for you.

What to call residents of the Lilac City

“I've referred to myself as a Spokaholic for as long as I can remember,” wrote Jerry McGinn.

“I still think Spokadonians has pizazz,” said Marilyn Othmer.

What line does your family recycle?

Saw the front-page promo about this being on tonight. And it made me wonder. What line from this seasonal classic gets quoted in your home?

I'll open the bidding with “I never thought it was such a bad little tree.”

No. 1 song on this date in 1971

When I first heard this, I thought Mr. Stone was saying “A family of bear.”

This date in Slice history (1995)

Today's Slice question: Is there someone at your workplace who somehow gets away with spending an incredible amount of time doing personal Christmas-related stuff?

On TV 50 years ago today

In an episode of “Bonanza” called “Day of the Dragon,” Joe unwittingly wins a slave girl in a poker game and has a hard time convincing her that she is now a free woman.

It first aired on Dec. 3, 1961.

This date in Slice history (1994)

Today's Slice question: Why is yours the quintessential Inland Northwest family?

Radio days

Monday's Slice column about being under the covers on a school night and searching for distant stations on a transistor radio seemed to connect with readers.

But my assumption that this was pretty much a boy thing was politely challenged by several of my correspondents.

“This girl from a small town in Indiana found (dial scanning) very entertaining,” wrote Amy Houser. “It instilled in me a wanderlust to explore our country.”

Lisa Lasswell is another who remembers. “I was one of those 10-year-old kids who was amazed to discover I could hear, from Spokane, what was going on in some far-away place called Grand Junction (which I then had to look up in our family atlas…does anyone still have or use one of those?). There was something thrilling in the realization that my little radio had a reach of over 1,000 miles, at least late at night when all conditions were perfect. Now with the click of a mouse my 10-year-old son can see around the world. Sigh.”

Melissa Shireman remembers, in the late '70s and early '80s, pulling in stations from Las Vegas, San Francisco and Denver on her clock radio. “I thought it was the coolest thing.”

Barbara Cunningham, who grew in Southern Idaho, was one of the first in her circle of friends to get a transistor radio. She remembers listening to a station in Oklahoma City.

North Idaho's Robin Draut spent childhood years in coastal Fort Bragg, California. “I loved dialing in San Francisco, Los Angeles and MEXICO,” she wrote. “Sometimes I could get stations from somewhere in the East (but then everything was East for us). Since we lived isolated from most of the world, we really loved knowing that we were somehow connected.”

Mary Ann McKnight, who grew up in Blythe, Calif., remembers listening to stations in Oklahoma City and Yuma, Ariz. “You had to turn it on at just the right time of day and when my dad wasn't around.”

“We moved here from Sacramento 10 years ago,” wrote Erica Hallock. “Although we love Spokane, I still miss Sacratomato. When I am driving though our state during the evening/night hours, I love that I can find my favorite talk radio from Sacramento (KFBK).”

Kath'ren Bay shared this. “I am a girl who grew up in Boise and want you to know the late-night under-the-covers transistor radio thing was not just for boys. I'll give you that my radio was a pretty turquoise number, but I 'traveled' all over the country, just like you; chasing wild dee-jays and discovering new music. My favorite city was San Francisco.

“To this day there is something wonderful about night driving and listening to the crisp clear sound of music via the radio dial.”

Liz Cox grew up here and still remembers one station that “blasted the wattage into my cottage” from somewhere in Utah or Nevada.

Sara Lindgren didn't get into this as a little kid. But when she was a student at Whitworth, she regularly tuned in a radio signal from Salt Lake City.

Jo Hartley lived in Idaho and tried to pick up a certain station in Sacramento.

Another reader, a woman who grew up in the South, recalled marking her radio dial with a pen so she could find certain stations again.

My colleague Pia Hallenberg reminded me that this isn't just a North American pastime. As a girl growing up in Denmark, her favorite station was Radio Luxembourg.

Another SR friend, Jeff Jordan, recalled living here and listening to KFI from Los Angeles during a time when many L.A. Dodgers were fresh from stints with the AAA Spokane Indians.

“In the summer you usually had to wait until 8:30 or 9 before you could start picking up the signal. It got stronger through the night and it always came in better in my dad's 1959 Ford. Many nights I would fall asleep in the car listening to Vin Scully's Hall of Fame descriptions of Dodgers baseball. Dad or Mom would have to bring me in.

“In my junior high years, Dad would let me start the car for a couple of minutes every hour so the battery didn't die. One of my memorable broadcasts was listening to Vin Scully call a Sandy Koufax no-hitter. Scully just allowed the crowd's deafening roar to tell the story on the final out.”

Ken Oaks, who grew up in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, remembers listening to WLS in Chicago and, on good nights, WBZ in Boston. “Lots of good memories,” he wrote.

Chris DeForest, who grew up in Seattle, remembers doing extra chores as a kid to subsidize the purchase of replacment batteries. They tended not to last long if you routinely fell asleep with the radio still on beneath your pillow.

Kevin Albaugh, who lived in New York state, recalls picking up stations in Chicago, Pittsburgh, Buffalo and New York City. “It was great fun,” he wrote.

Emmett Arndt was another member of this unofficial club. “It was magical to me,” he wrote.

Some transistor radios had illuminated tuning dials. But Ken Stout took a flash light under the covers with him.

Lan Hellie, who grew up north of Spokane, made an effort to tune in a Vancouver, B. C., station with a progressive rock playlist.

Bob Brown shared this. “I can't remember where it came from, but the 'Lucky Lager Dance Time' was my favorite program, my first introduction to rock and roll.”

Tara Leininger wrote, “When I was a tween (like the term existed back then!) I loved late night radio. I grew up in Kalispell, Montana, and on a really good night I could get Calgary! I couldn't get Missoula but could get Spokane more often than not. I think the mountains really bounced signals in an interesting way.”

“My husband's family in Deer Park listened to the Grand Ole Opry from Nashville,” wrote Julie Roberts.

From his childhood basement bedroom on the South Hill, Joe Jovanovich picked up stations from places such as Denver and St. Louis.

Vince Roland grew up in Kentucky and listened to stations in, among other places, Chicago and Fort Wayne, Indiana.

Harry Hart shared this. “In 1974, I was driving from Denver to Boise. In the early hours of the morning (around 2 or so) for the last 100 miles south of Boise, I was listening to WWL out of New Orleans. It was as loud and clear as if it was a local station.”

Another Slice reader recalled having to sleep in the top bunk in her brother's room when the family had company staying over. On those occasions, she would listen to her brother down below expertly tuning his radio to one far-away station after another. And she would nod off with visions of a big, exciting country dancing in her head.

I could go on.

Thanks to those who shared radio-listening memories. 


Blog Special: Looking for a Volunteer

I have an idea.

Certainly you are familiar with the Burl Ives seasonal classic, “Have a Holly Jolly Christmas.”

Well, you know the line “Say hello to friends you know and everyone you meet”?

What if someone actually did that?

I propose that we find out.

Before Christmas, on a date to be selected later, I intend to spend one hour walking around downtown Spokane saying “Hello” to everyone I meet.

But I want someone to help me. Your assignment, should you choose to accept it, would be to occasionally spell me on the nonstop greeting of strangers and maybe help out with the notes-taking.

You would need a good attitude and a decent pair of walking shoes.

And don't worry. You will not be asked to say “Kiss her once for me.”

When the timing and weather are right

The Slice Blog would be happy to accept your snapshots of little kids in snow suits.

Sometimes leaving Spokane works out

Bing and Grace Kelly at the 1955 Academy Awards.

This date in Slice history (1994)

Today's Slice question: How did you get rid of that holiday party hors d'oeuvre when nobody was looking?

Lighting up the morning

Rode my bicycle to work this morning.

Yes, it was a bit brisk. But I wanted to be able to say I had bike commuted at least one day in every month of 2011.

Once I got downtown, I took a little detour before heading to the Review Tower. I rolled over to Main to see the illuminated Madonna and child while it was still dark out.

And there it was, where it always is at this time of year, on the corner of The Bon, er, Macy's.

I know I am not alone in thinking of it as one of the true signals that the Christmas season has arrived in Spokane.

As I made a slow turn and admired the lighted art above me, I heard some guy in a hardhat talking on a phone. He wasn't happy about something.

I tried to tune him out and took one more glance up at the colorful scene.      

Fifty years ago today

In an episode of “The Twilight Zone” called “The Jungle,” dam builder Alan Richards returns to America from Africa unaware of a little surprise a witchdoctor has in store for him.

It first aired on Dec. 1, 1961, and has been seen in reruns 875,432 times.

Chances are, this ending scene isn't what inspired the “Soft Kitty” song on “Big Bang Theory.” 

Get blog updates by email

About this blog

Features writer Paul Turner is a columnist for The Spokesman-Review in the Features department. He writes "The Slice" column, which appears six times a week and produces general features stories for the Today section.

Latest comments »

Read all the posts from recent conversations on The Slice.

Search this blog
Subscribe to this blog
Advertise Here