Archive for June 2011
Called my friend who lives next to Audubon Park to tell him his “Twilight Zone” is part of the Syfy channel's Sunday/Monday marathon. According a schedule I consulted, “The Hunt” is on at 10.am. on Monday.
Dex doesn't have a huge role in it, but he's really good as a backwoods angel.
Here he is in a picture that accompanied a nice story Kris Johnson Morehouse wrote about him a few years ago.
And here's a picture of the late Arthur Hunnicutt from “The Hunt.”
Got an email from a woman who was absolutely irate about a newcomer's thumbs-down verdict on Spokane's uncontrolled intersections in residential areas.
For one thing, she was angered by the idea of spending money on additional stop signs (which isn't going to happen) when the city is strapped for cash.
Referring to the newcomer quoted in the column, she asked “Hasn't she ever heard of right-of-way?”
Well, I suspect she has heard of it. But we're talking about Spokane. So she probably just hasn't seen it properly observed all that often.
Besides, right-of-way isn't much protection when some numbnuts is blowing through an intersection at 40 mph.
So what do you do after reading in the morning paper about a father throwing his young son into some cacti and driving off, abandoning the little boy?
Me, I tried hard to think about something I saw last night.
The preschool boy across the street was running around with a towel draped from his shoulders. Clearly it was intended to serve as a cape. He also had on some sort of headgear that I can only assume is much like what the superheroes are wearing these days.
He and his dad tossed a ball back and forth. Well, at least they were trying to do that. The little boy is just learning about throwing. And catching will come a bit later.
But the dad could not have been more patient. And when the lad did manage a reasonable toss, his father showed his approval in a demonstrative way.
Other than the cape, this was a pretty standard scene over there. Those two spend a lot of time together.
I wish cactus boy had a dad like that. I wish every child did.
Here's a David Byrne bike rack in NYC. What's not to like.
Do the birds who live in other parts of the city regard the sparrows downtown as streetwise and perhaps even somewhat jaded?
I was a kid in the back seat of one of these. My family was taking a cross-country trip.
Ours wasn't pink, though. I believe Pontiac called the color “aquamarine.”
Can't remember if our Bonneville had two doors or four. But, the problem of space-hogging older siblings notwithstanding, I recall that it had enough room for a cache of comic books and baseball cards.
They walk among us.
Oh, you can't tell just from looking at them. It's their secret.
But there are people in our midst who saw The Monkees at the Coliseum on Aug. 27, 1967.
If you occasionally deal with far-away people who repeatedly confuse Spokane with Tacoma, try this.
Tell them Spokane is the one that is south of Deer Park.
They won't understand. But it's true and it is fun to say.
Perhaps this is true everywhere.
And admittedly, it does not come up every day.
But I have yet to meet an adult in Spokane who does not claim to have been a terrific croquet player as a kid.
There was a retirement lunch today for the SR's Doug Floyd, longtime editor of the editorial page.
He is a gentleman, and he conducted himself as one even when dealing with those incapable of being civil.
You can tell when someone is lost.
So I asked this well-dressed man and woman downtown if I could help. They said they were to meet a lawyer whose office is in the US Bank Building.
I told them how to get there, without any mention of Old National Bank.
It has taken me better than 20 years to accept reality. But I guess I have.
This is how I felt when I got home and realized the garbage collectors had not left me a nasty note about my trash/yard waste barrels being too heavy.
That's the anniversary of the piece's installation in 1963.
If you don't do a lot of walking on West Riverside in downtown, you could be forgiven for not knowing what I'm talking about.
Your memory of this show will be probed.
“Does using a recycle bin and a 'clean green' bin along with a typical garbage can really help the environment when we now have three different types of garbage trucks on the road to pick this stuff up?” wrote Eric Rieckers.
Be sure to note the fascinating detail (in the cartoon) on his dining preference.
So I was on my way home, stopped at a light downtown.
A car pulled up next to me. The windows were rolled down.
The vehicle was covered with messages, apparently sprayed on with some sort of gunk that looked like cake frosting. One on the side of the car read, “Honk if cute!”
The car was full of people who looked to be in the 17-to-20 age range. A boy in the back seat spoke to me.
“Is that a Dinosaur?”
Assuming that he was referring to my bike and thinking he meant to say “Elephant,” I told him it wasn't. (Though later I realized he might have been talking about my horn, which is, in fact, in the shape of a dinosaur head.)
Then it was my turn. “So…Honk if cute…does anyone actually do that?”
“Sometimes,” said a girl in the front seat.
When the light turned green and we went on our way, it occurred to me that maybe I had missed the point.
Perhaps those kids, so accustomed to communicating in texting code, had actually intended that message to say “Honk if you think WE are cute.”
They seemed nice enough. But I don't know that I would have been inclined to reach for my dinosaur.
Besides, it didn't say “Beep if cute!”
Deer Park's Coleen Wood said the classic advice usually works for her extended family.
Steer clear of religion and politics.
“There are a couple of my relatives that have definite opinions,” she wrote.
Hey, having opinions just shows you're alive. Being a jerk is the problem.
You don't have to answer that.
But me, I went with my first Hawaiian shirt of the season today. I believe I have about a dozen, almost all purchased on sale.
Years ago, I was suspicious of those wearing such garments. I regarded these shirts as the uniform of what Calvin Trillin once described as “the party as a verb crowd.”
Serious people didn't wear them to work.
Then, as if to emphasize their absurdity, we had a stretch here at the paper where certain Fridays would be a designated “Hawaiian Shirt Day” in the newsroom. Yes, forced frivolity at its finest.
Eventually, I lightened up. It helps that they are comfortable bike-riding attire.
Maybe clothes make the man. Or, as I prefer to think, perhaps it's the other way around.
… what was the generic name for all soft drinks where you grew up?
How often does answering a knock on the door turn out to have been a good idea?
Ten percent of the time? Less?
Sorry about the picture quality. But the show's premise was iffy, too.
In a 2002 episode of “Frasier,” the Spokane media turn out to meet Dr. Crane after the announcement that his Seattle radio show will air in Spokane, too.
This was in an episode called “Frasier Has Spokane.”
One more sign that sitcoms and real life are different.
Local viewers of HBO's “Treme” had to laugh when it was revealed that the Texasy character Harley (below), played by Steve Earle, grew up in Bellingham.
“Hope you had a great vacation. Didn't see you at Hoopfest so wanted to relay what I thought was the best public-address comment of the weekend.
“Preceding the playing of the national anthem on Sunday a.m. the announcer implored the Hoopfest masses to 'please remove your hats and hold your balls.'
“I just removed my hat. Attention riveted on Old Glory, I didn't observe what others did.”
Did you do Hoopfest?
1, “Define 'Do.' ”
2. “Yes, but I fouled out.”
3. “Yes. My team won in the over-40 Passive Aggressives.”
4. “No, but I came in second at Ironwoman.”
5. “I can't remember.”
6. “Was that this past weekend?”
7. “Not really.”
8. “Like Debbie did Dallas.”
9. “A little.”
10. “We came in 19th in the Woo-Hoo division.”
That would be coming in after getting some exercise and rediscovering daytime TV.
“The Sopranos” on A&E, to be precise.
Sure, it seemed like cleaning up the mob drama's language for basic cable would ruin the classic HBO show. Remember the sanitized version of “Glengarry Glen Ross”? That was a joke.
Who could forget Alec Baldwin's absurdly softened motivational talk. “What's my name? Forget you! That's my name.”
But it turns out “The Sopranos” is so good that you can still get caught up in it, even with the characters saying “freakin' ” every 30 seconds. Especially if you happen on to an early season you can't remember clearly.
Then the key is to get up and get back in motion before “Perry Mason” comes on.
Are most young women named Elaine familiar with “The Graduate”?
A Spokane woman was heading home on a Delta flight from the Twin Cities.
Seated next to her was a pleasant woman coming here for a job interview.
Naturally, the job candidate was curious about Spokane. So the two of them got to talking.
Apparently the woman coming for a visit misheard one particular place name. But her conversation partner didn't correct her. In fact, she kind of liked the way it sounded.
Call a penalty on anyone guilty of stereotyping our neighbors to the north.
It's a reminder about the Syfy channel's holiday weekend “Twilight Zone” marathon coming up Sunday and Monday.
Readers of the print Slice column might remember an item a couple of weeks ago about a slug-hunting feline named Genevieve.
The gooey story was told by a high school girl named Allyson, who is the little sister of the cat's owner.
Well, the other day at a grocery store, I found myself talking with Allyson's big sister. She reported that she will be starting at Western Washington University in the fall. But in case any South Hill slugs think they will soon have it made in the shade, let me pass along a word of caution.
Genevieve will be staying in Spokane.
The only game I've seen at Boston's Fenway Park was preceded by a bit of local color right outside the stadium.
A gentleman with one of those hard, plaster casts on his arm struck another fellow across the forehead with the aforementioned therapeutic encasement. The recipient of this violent blow seemed stunned. Blood cascaded down his face. This was followed by scuffling and shouting.
Then the Red Sox beat the California Angels and Nolan Ryan.
1. If you now go an entire summer without getting even one grass stain, maybe you need to rethink your approach to the season.
2. One reason there is sometimes tension between Spokane area natives and transplants is that natives occasionally want to declare that it is a bit humid. On the other hand, a high percentage of transplants loudly insist that it never gets humid here.
3. Some of those who grew up in families warped by alcohol abuse still wince at the sight of a neon sign that says “Lounge.”
When reading print editions of newspapers published in other states, I always look to see if Spokane is in the list of cities on the weather page.
Sometimes it is. Sometimes it isn't.
I'm always pleased by the former, mildly disappointed by the latter.
But one thing that annoys me is when the Lilac City is listed as “Spokane, WA” while many other cities of similar modest size and iffy prominence are not saddled with the state identifier.
I once exchanged emails about that exact scenario with an editor at The Washington Post. (They didn't change their wrongheaded policy.)
Anyway, I invite you to note which papers do or don't include us when you're out on the road this summer. And please let me know what you find.
Sure, I could look online. But website high/low temperature lists can be way longer than those in the print paper.
It's in the print newspaper that you see how some editor answered his or her own question: “Spokane. Hmmmm. Do any of our readers care about Spokane?”
Or “Spokane, WA,” as the case may be.
We all know you can buy tents now that virtually spring into shape the moment you pull them out of the bag.
But is that really camping?
Shouldn't there be a little suspense about finding all the parts? And wouldn't you miss hearing Uncle Roy mutter a few choice words while putting it up?
The second half of the year starts Friday.
It's time to come up with your Plan B resolutions.
Spokane's Larry Woodard still has the first trophy he ever won, back in 1961.
It's a little wooden block with a pencil for a flag pole and a small flag sporting the initials of the elementary school he attended in California.
He's not sure if he won it for attendance or for sweet-talking his teacher. “I used to be good at that,” he said.
That discussion in the print Slice prompted Maria Washington to note that sometimes a farmer's tan is actually a cyclist's tan.
John Petrofski made the case that sometimes it's a fisherman's tan.
And as far as being a reliable predictor of how someone will vote, well, all bets are off.
Just noticed that the Lawrence Kasdan film “Grand Canyon” is 20 years old.
I remember being excited about it when it came out.
In the end, not many people were all that impressed. And certainly it had its shortcomings. But at least it tried to be a fairly honest look at some of the gulfs that divide us in contemporary American society.
At the time it was released, two of the stars, Danny Glover and Kevin Kline, went on “Oprah” to promote it. There was a lot of earnest talk about Hollywood getting more serious and thoughtful. And then, at the end, Oprah mentioned that Glover would also be appearing in another of those zany buddy-cops flicks with Mel Gibson. THAT got the biggest applause of the whole segment.
The audience wants what it wants.
I overheard a couple of younger men talking about softball. It was clear they took it pretty seriously. And I had half an impulse to warn them.
Careful guys, I might have said. Let this become too important to you and you'll remember certain softball games for the rest of your life.
You doubt me? OK, I'll prove it.
At my first newspaper job, I was on the company slow-pitch team. We weren't loaded with great players, so I was the shortstop. Until, that is, a woman in the ad department started dating this guy named Chuck Heater.
Chuck, who I recall being a nice guy, had been a running back at the University of Michigan about five years before. There was no doubt he was the superior athlete. So I moved to third base.
In our big grudge-match game with the local police department's team, we were down a run in our last at-bat.
Another home run by Chuck could do it for us.
But I hit a line drive right at someone for our last out. Chuck, who batted right after me, never got to come up.
That was more than 30 years ago. And I still remember.
Long ago and far away, I found myself in a hotel room talking to Dinah Shore about her new cookbook.
My editor wanted me to get her to talk about her recent break-up with Burt Reynolds. She wanted to talk about cooking.
For some reason, I mentioned that I had just seen her in an old movie on TV. I don't recall exactly how I put it. But I all but said, “You know, you were quite a babe back then.”
She was gracious. I think she had encountered idiots before.
The other day, I caught sight of my autographed copy of that cookbook. I took it off the shelf.
Funny thing. I actually think she looked better when I met her in 1983 than she did back in the '40s.
But you can decide for yourself.
You would have witnessed most of this evolution of the B-52 bomber's tail.
There was also the inexplicable Rat Fink craze.
Was the Mantle/Maris home run chase on your radar 50 years ago?
For the longest time, I was somewhat baffled by the decision of so many of my friends and colleagues to live way out in the country.
After all, isn't the relative ease of going from Point A to Point B one of Spokane's true assets? Why plant your flag way out in the boonies and create a situation where going virtually anywhere necessitates a significant drive?
OK, I'm familiar with some of the broad-brush rationales: Concerns about crime in the city, a desire to have animals, the appeal of rural ambience, a yearning to be a paranoid nutjob in a remote compound, et cetera.
But I think I've figured out what really sends people to the backwoods: Noisy motorcycles.
I have friends who ride motorcycles. But there's something about that sound, whether it's a neighbor performing a perpetual tune-up or simply a rider going by at full blat. It makes you contemplate a life with reduced exposure to the others.
It's almost a certainty that someone reading today's print Slice, in which I refer to the start of long car-drive season, will politely note that I seem to have forgotten about gas prices.
Not really. I just haven't noticed motorists abandoning their cars.
Sure, some people change their habits. A little. But most just complain.
There are several good things about driving a company car or truck while on the job.
But if those vehicles are adorned with a prominent business logo or a big sign naming your company, even those of us reasonably proud of our place of employment can feel just a bit conspicuous.
I was walking over to Auntie's a little while ago when I saw a couple of guys in a clearly marked Avista rig. Now I'm guessing they aren't personally responsible for recent rate increases. So it never entered my mind to shoot them a dirty look. But perhaps some others are less circumspect about assigning blame.
I know I have been in SR cars when I felt someone was looking at me with other than unalloyed approval. Fine. Everybody has an opinion.
But every once in a while, my modest skills as a mindreader make me want to roll down the window and say, “You know, I had nothing to do with endorsing that one political candidate.”
“Hi, Paul,” wrote Robyn Stevens. “I hope I'm not too late to submit a line from the immortal Groucho Marx in 'Duck Soup.'”
Actually, she is too late. I deal with all that in tomorrow's print Slice. And if you didn't read Sunday's Slice and have no idea what's going on here, well, whose fault is that?
Anyway, let's enjoy the line Robyn sent in.
“I could dance with you till the cows come home…On second thought, I'd rather dance with the cows when you came home.”
A nice fellow named Paul Nolan called to say he endorsed the idea of putting an image of the late broadcaster Curt Gowdy on the Wyoming state flag (if the other 49 states were going to go with faces on their banners).
Nolan grew up in Cheyenne in the 1940s, where Gowdy was getting his career started.
Nolan eventually went off to war. When he came back to Wyoming, his high school sweetheart had moved to Spokane. So that's where he headed.
She passed away not all that long ago. But they were married for 62 years.
“I love your list, although I must admit there are a few names I don't know,” wrote Doris Woodward. “But mostly I want to say thank you, thank you, thank you for suggesting that Maine use Joshua Chamberlain. He is my Number One favorite Civil War hero, and I'm glad someone else feels the same way.”
But wouldn't you say the late Ezra Pound was among the least likely?
So, OK, we have Spokane. We have Spokane Valley. And there used to be Spokane Falls.
But what if someone wanted to establish a utopian village near here and use “Spokane” as the root for this new place's name. Well, other towns and cities in Washington offer plenty of suggestions.
Consider: Spokane Heights, Spokane Island, Spokane Rock, Spokane Hill, Spokane Elum, Spokane Dam, Spokaneburg, Spokane Way, Spokane Harbor, Spokane Point, Spokane Park, Spokane Beach, Spokane Creek, Spokane Bend, Spokanedale, Spokaneland, Spokaneville, Spokaneamish, Spokane Prairie, Spokane Gap, Spokane Place and Spokane Walla or Spokane Spokane.
How many times does something have to happen or how prevalent does a behavior have to be before it's appropriate to refer to it as “a Spokane thing”?
“Twice on the National News,” said Curt Olsen.
Spokane's Ken Martin was on the phone with a customer service rep at a cable TV shopping network. He thinks she might have been in Florida.
At the point where she was keyboarding his address, she stopped to mention that she knew someone who had just moved out to “Spoo-kan.”
“There may be some virtue in avoiding the obvious, and I appreciate your point about how a complicating factor is that some people were born in other states than those with which they're legitimately identified,” wrote Wayne Pomerleau. “Here are two cases in point: It seems to me to be obligatory that Abraham Lincoln (born in Kentucky) should be selected for Illinois; likewise that Benjamin Franklin (born in Boston) should be the one for Pennsylvania.”
Here's a note from Bill Ellis.
“I enjoyed reading your list of nominees for state flags, but as a lifelong Oregonian, relocated to Spokane in 2006, I must comment on your choice for the Oregon flag. If you wanted a writer you needed either David James Duncan, raised in East County Portland and now removed to Montana, or Ken Kesey. Indeed, Kesey on the Oregon flag just north of Jerry Garcia on the California flag (a great choice, by the way) would have really looked good for the left coast.
“You might also have been a bit whimsical in another direction and chosen Phil Knight. But if you wanted a serious choice, which is not necessarily what this is all about, I know, Dr. John McLoughlin, otherwise known as 'The Father of Oregon' is the only way to go. Raymond Carver was born in Oregon but he was raised in Yakima, and then moved later to Palo Alto or some place like that. Fine writer, but Yeech as a choice for the state flag.”
One of my favorite transplanted Montanans weighed in on the state flags matter.
“As much as I like Coop, why not shake it up a bit and put Jeannette Rankin on the flag,” he wrote. “She was the first woman in Congress, elected from Montana a couple of years before women could vote nationwide.
“Oh, yeah. She was also the only person to vote against entry into both World War I and World War II despite pleas from feminists that she go along with the majority. A Republican with real conviction.”
“I like so many of your proposals,” wrote Milt Nelson. “But as far as Oklahoma is concerned, while Woody Guthrie was surely a significant person, can there by ANYONE else than Will Rogers on the flag of the Sooner State?”
“We bought our current house, which needed no remodeling, after living in a house that did,” wrote Mike McKeehan. “I managed to improve the master bedroom and family room in the old house. But there was still much that Judy wanted done and which I am not good at nor fond of doing. She finally decided she wanted a new house or a new husband so we got our current one.”
If you are willing to order iced tea on a first visit to a Spokane restaurant.
This site has stories like this all the time.
Does it seem wise that this character is quite willing to leave one of the best bosses ever?
Given what we know about her hopes and dreams, the answer is probably “Yes.” Still.
“Having lived in Southwest Washington for 23 years, these slugs are nothing,” wrote Mary S. Nelson, who works for the American Red Cross Inland Northwest Chapter.
She remembers one slug-eradication tactic that was particularly effective. “Ducks,” she said. “They love slugs.”
Of course, then you had to clean up the ducks. And it's worth remembering that ducks create their own messes.
“Sometimes you just can't win,” said Nelson.
Not everyone understood what I was saying about Spokane TV news and anchor-team performances regarding the weather.
But Slice reader Alison Duke, who doesn't mind cool temps, did.
“I've even written to the stations to ask that they just report the weather, not how they FEEL about it. No response, of course.”
I realize Flag Day is actually about the U.S. flag. But tomorrow's print column invites readers to imagine what the other 49 state flags might look like if people elsewhere followed Washington's lead and put someone's face on their banners.
So now you have a head start.
“Matchboxes,” suggested Jeff Ellingson.
“We relocate nearly all the spiders in our house to the outdoors.”
Heard some people talking about the weather Sunday. It was clear they were in the grips of a feverish desire to be outside 100 percent of the time the sun is shining between now and autumn.
I understand. We all know it has been a cloudy, wet spring. Pent-up sun lust is a fairly common condition.
But with the official start of summer about a week away, I am willing to offer a personal guarantee.
There are lots of sunny days coming. Try to relax. This isn't Seattle.
A school kid wanting to reinvent his or her persona before the end of the current academic year doesn't have much time left.
Maybe going for a fresh start in September is a better plan. Of course, the truth is, none of us has total control of our image. Sometimes all you can do is go ahead and order the pizza and then live with the consequences.
Remember when Spokane hosted hockey's four-team Memorial Cup tournament in 1998?
Well, all three of the teams joining the Spokane Chiefs for that competition had players currently involved in the NHL's Stanley Cup finals.
Manny Malhotra, who played for the Ontario league champions, and Roberto Luongo, goalie for tje Quebec league champions, now play for the Vancouver Canucks.
And Andrew Ference, who played for the Portland Winterhawks, is now a member of the Boston Bruins.
An even 500 at-bats. What are the chances of that?
All you have to do is click your heels together three times and repeat after me.
There's no place like my home on the Channeled Scablands.
There's no place like my home on the Channeled Scablands.
There's no place like …
“Thankfully my husband is the ultimate slug slayer as my passion is gardening,” wrote Diane Gilliland of Chattaroy. “With slugs threatening to reach 'horror-movie proportions,' he routinely scouts our property, flashlight and shovel in hand, at about 9:30 p.m. One night this past week he hunted down 39.
“He would prefer I not mention he's a member of the Inland Northwest Wildlife Council.”
So I'm walking on Riverside past the STA Plaza. I see a large man in one of those motorized wheelchairs.
I recognize what he has on his head. So, thinking he might enjoy that someone noticed, I say: “Is that a vintage Milwaukee Brewers cap?”
He doesn't meet my gaze, but he seems annoyed. “I don't know,” he snaps. “I got it at a yard sale.”
OK. Excuse me for living.
It turns out I'm not the only one with beefs about Spokane TV news. Good thing everyone likes everything about the newspaper.
Mine was a 1967 Chevrolet Impala, purchased when it was about 10 or 11 years old. Huge car.
It was not quite as spiffy as the one in the ad below. For one thing, the automobile in the advertisement is not obviously leaking oil.
I see a '67 Impala in Spokane now and then, and it takes me back.
My next car was a Ford Pinto. But that's another story.
Seduction by promise of matrimony.
Unlawful knowledge of livestock.
Carnal conversation with an Idahoan.
Failure to wear a bonnet after noon.
Discharge of firearm within 10 feet of the basket.
Attire deemed to be gross affront to public morals.
Language alluding to or characterizing the feminine form.
Brandishing an unauthorized bull marmot.
So what bands were the “Monsters of Rock” who appeared at Joe Albi Stadium on July 20, 1988?
1. Van Halen. 2. Scorpions. 3. Metallica. 4. Dokken. 5. Kingdom Come.
Novelist Jess Walter was one of the reporters who covered the event for the SR.
Give up? OK, it's simple: Get a haircut.
It seems like this 1963 issue of Esquire lived forever in the barber shops of my youth.
That some adults who expect to be taken seriously made their share of unwise decisions when they were young.
Karen Mobley's mother had this advice.
“If you think you want to marry him, go on a long car trip requiring extensive use of maps and return home to do a complex home repair. If you still like each other, then try it.”
GPS systems might have reduced the volatility of part of that scenario. But I'm not aware of any technology that has defused the incendiary possibilities of couples taking on home remodeling.
Check out the comments at http://summerparkways.com/about/
Isn't it almost baby crow/defend the nest season?
1. Once upon a time, people saying grace before a meal did not imply with a 91 percent degree of certainty that they were social conservatives.
2. If you put enough onions in the potato salad, kids won't touch it. So that leaves more for you.
3. Will combining Spokane and Coeur d'Alene into one Metropolitan Statistical Area prompt some people to go out and buy more guns?
Tonight at 9:30 on the Hallmark channel (77 on my lineup), the “Frasier” rerun is the 2002 episode, “Frasier Has Spokane.”
Would have to include broadcaster Kristi Gorenson's two daughters. (I suspect her husband had a hand in this, too.)
I say this on the basis of an extended grocery aisle stop-and-chat.
I don't have pictures of the girls. But here's their mom.
Well, maybe not quite yet. But keep in mind that I do start pretty early.
And there are few things I like better than kicking back with a convenient half gallon fun-size bottle of locally brewed beer after a hard morning of item forging. Even if it requires a bit of imagination.
A couple of my colleagues, Tom Sowa and Bert Caldwell, were just speculating about which self-important local personalities they would least like to play poker with.
Who would you seat at your own table from Hades?
Or is the outgoing editor of The New York Times one of the best-looking guys in the country?
You probably won't win any points with him if you call him Navin R. Johnson.
So the Belmont Stakes is Saturday. It will be nice for the Kentucky Derby and Preakness winners to have a rubber match. Assuming that is, that they'll both be in the race.
I guess I could show a little more interest and actually find out. But for some of us of a certain age, the one and only Belmont Stakes that really matters took place almost 40 years ago. It will never be topped.
“He is moving like a tremendous machine.”
“I was driving around Cheney and heard someone honk,” wrote Jerry Hilton. “I never figured out who or why. It got me thinking. As I grew up in Cheney, almost always, whenever someone honked it was to get a friend's attention and say Hi. Does anyone else remember those days when life was more carefree and friendly?
“Was that true of Spokane at one time? Now it seems that if you see someone you know walking on the sidewalk and honk your horn to say Hi, the guy in the pickup in front of you will flip you the finger.”
But I assume a few music lovers in Spokane bought this 1972 album.
And maybe some still remember it. A few of the songs, too.
One of the old Magic Lantern theater's bigger hits in the early '90s was the quirky Australian production, “Strictly Ballroom.”
One of the actors who made that fun to watch, Bill Hunter, died recently.
R.I.P., Barry Fife.
She started off talking about defunct Spokane movie theaters. But then one of my correspondents mentioned having seen a Ricky Nelson concert at the old Coliseum sometime around One Million B.C.
Quite a few year's before that, the late singer's father performed with his big band at Nat Park.
Thinking of that reminded me of what was once America's favorite TV show.
When I was in my 20s, I nearly perfected an underappreciated Ozzie Nelson impression. “Uh, uh… Rick, where are you going?”
A) A fixer-upper. B) A little charmer. C) Handyman special. D) Motivated seller. E) Priced to move. F) The kid with the beard doesn't stay. G) Other.
Graceland, Elvis Presley's Tennessee home, opened for public tours on this date in 1982.
I lived in Memphis at the time and was in the Big Brothers/Big Sisters program. So that summer or maybe it was the next, I took the boy with whom I was spending Saturdays to check out the famous house.
I think he was bored. But as I recall, he was polite about it.
Have you been to Graceland?
So it's not new, and it's definitely not just a Spokane thing.
But the pervasiveness, in certain circles, of ending every third utterance with a catch-all “…and (common scatological swear word)” sort of cracks me up.
If you have been out of the home, you have heard it. “So we were going over to that one place to mess around and (that word).”
It might strike some as intellectually lazy. But this popular sentence-ending construction does save the speaker the task of specifically delineating all of the likely variables to be encountered. And it holds open all sorts of possibilities, even if the anticipated behavioral context is a familiar framework of not especially ennobling activities.
But where it's really funny is when it is unexpectedly tacked on to sentences that start out sounding a tad more formal.
“What are you doing?”
“I'm completing the paperwork that I'll need to submit to run for mayor and ( ).”
Let's move on and, you know.
“I would never want this printed,” wrote a reader I consider to be a friend. “But I can say that in all the 25 years of my sweet hubby and I being together, the only time we have sworn at each other was during home improvement and/or home repair.”
If his pal Patty Duke ever told him anything about the making of “Valley of the Dolls.”
Just saw part of that a couple of days ago. What a hoot.
“Almost two weeks ago, you asked in a column something to the effect of, what if you could take back the 10 stupidest things you've ever said?” wrote North Idaho's Stephanie Eloe. “Well, I've been thinking about it, and I would have fewer regrets, perhaps a few more friends, and maybe some would have a better opinion of me.
“But what really struck me was arguably the other side of that coin — what 10 things SHOULD you have said that would have made a world of difference at the time to the listener? Missed opportunities, as it were. The listing of both those items, for me, is just about even. What do you think?”
Back in June of 2005, I spoke with a Spokane couple about their family's drive to Disneyland in the summer of 1955, the year of its grand opening.
I alluded to some of the high-tech distractions modern kids have. And I asked how the couple's children entertained themselves during that long drive decades ago.
One of them mentioned coloring books. “And didn't they have those coonskin caps?” said the other.
This isn't really a 2011 Spokane Valley scene.
Before my junior year of high school in Vermont, I spent part of the summer out in California with my older sister and her horse's ass husband. They lived in the other Inland Empire.
One day, when my brother-in-law had something to do at UCLA, I rode into Los Angeles with him. We brought his bike along so I could explore while he was busy doing whatever it was he was there to do.
Well, the bike promptly got stolen while I was in a gas station restroom. But as luck would have it, I quickly found a couple of LAPD officers sitting in a patrol car nearby.
They could not possibly have been less interested in my predicament.
I guess I couldn't blame them. What's a stolen bike in the greater scheme of things?
Anyway, I thought of that incident the other day and found myself wondering if one or both of those cops wound up moving to the Inland Northwest when they retired.
When I was a little kid, I spent a lot of time listening to Top 40 songs on my transistor radio.
One thing I learned, thanks in part to a singer named Lou Christie, was that when I grew up to be a teenager I would be entering a world of mysterious naughtiness.
I suspect I was not alone.
Here are my favorite Lou Christie songs from the '60s:
1. “Lightning Strikes.”
2. “Rhapsody in the Rain.”
3. “Two Faces Have I.”
4. “I'm Gonna Make You Mine.”
Jerry Cartwright saw Saturday's column and had something to add.
“Must be pretty obvious what those of us living up on Stone Street fancy.”
It's a matter of opinion, of course.
And it could be that some comedy simply doesn't age well.
But having noticed that KWSU is showing the “Best of Laugh-In,” questions arise.
Is it funny? Was it ever?
So those who know say war is actually more “Saving Private Ryan” horrific than combat depicted in “The Longest Day.” The truth can be upsetting. And “The Longest Day” has a lot of company when it comes to sanitizing brutality.
I'm not suggesting they will be this ridiculous.
But it's a good bet that we'll see some sunburns today.
Too bad Spokane didn't win the Stanley Cup back when it had the chance in 1917.
I think this show made the prospect of having a real job seem intolerable to some.
A former SR colleague, a guy named Ken Sands, used to have a mint collection of Seattle Pilots cards. He showed them to me once. I wonder if he still has them.
I think he had a complete set of their second season, too. Of course, that wasn't spent in Seattle.
Anyway, feel free to ask me for my Tommy Harper story one day.
In case you were wondering about the last name of Hal “Green Lantern” Jordan's girlfriend.
A couple of my readers gave me some grief about the column item praising train travel.
They found it a bit too rah-rah for their taste.
Fair enough. But let me just state, for the record:
I realize Amtrak's service record isn't perfect.
I am aware that the railroads have caused some environmental problems. (Name a transportation industry that hasn't.)
And, yes, I'm glad Riverfront Park is no longer a tangle of tracks.
I don't see how you can live in Spokane and not feel a connection to rail travel. Perhaps it would be overreaching to make the claim now. But this was a Train Town.
And in some hearts, it always will be.
“I ask you again, for the record. Are you now or have you ever been a member of any subversive anti-Spokane organizations espousing the view that there is more to life than water-recreation?”
A friend of mine in high school, Joel Greenfield, declared this already retired gentleman to be “the ugliest man in baseball.”
I wouldn't presume to speculate about why people get tattoos on their neck and face.
I'm sure they have their reasons.
But you have to wonder. Who would hire these folks? Perhaps employers with lots of behind-the-scenes positions to fill.
Anyway, I suspect a small percentage of those with these high-profile decorations eventually regret adorning themselves thusly. And for those individuals, I have a recommendation.
Ordinarily, that's not the best policy, as you might have heard. But if you have tattoos all over your face and neck and find yourself at a job interview, here's what I suggest.
Declare that you are a Maori tribesman from New Zealand.
And then stick with that story.
“So, um, that was before you dropped out of Shadle?”
You might want to pause and consider for a moment the day in 1944 when Springtime for Hitler took a turn.
Here is the question at the end of The Slice column in this coming Sunday's newspaper:
Is there a local business with a permanent place on your radar because it opened right after you moved here?
For me, it's Luigi's restaurant downtown. Though, to be honest, I can't say for sure whether it opened right after or just before I got here in March of 1988.
Just swapped cordial email/phone messages with that eatery's owner the other day.
Of course, one certain response to that question will be from readers reminding me that not everyone here is a transplant.
I've seen this particular picture many times over the years. On each occasion, I wonder if my father wound up flying in one of the bombers in those assembly lines.
What was the last name of Hal Jordan's girlfriend?
Hint: It's the same as the name of a Spokane high school.
No, she's not Carol North Central.
Justin Harke is a cook. He works at a restaurant on East Sprague.
“It is very hard to keep our servers' names straight because they are all fairly similar,” he wrote.
Part of his job is to call out a server's name when a particular order is up. But the acoustics are challenging and sometimes the sound of the name gets a bit muddled. “Fiasco” is the word Harke chose to describe the situation.
The names of the wait staff include Mia, Mega (pronounced Meega), Maria, Cerina and Marci.
“We also have Hannah and Anna.” And two Nathans.
“Also, whenever a to-go order is up, Joe comes to the window because it sounds like his name.”
If you still have a copy of this, my advice is to start drinking heavily.
Unless, of course, this has become a collectible.
Blog technology allows for audio offerings. So I could record readers singing those songs.
But let's not.
Don't forget to send The Slice a postcard from your summer travels.
Thanks, in advance.
Cindy Matthews has a hard time avoiding confusion with Laura/Lauren/Laurel.
She said her husband gets tripped up by Joan and the various forms of Joann.
Larry Totten called a neighbor named Dustin “Justin” for the better part of a year. Or was it the other way around?
Nancy Kiehn gets mixed up with Diane and Diana. Fortunately for her, friends with those names usually answer to either.
You might not get the THIS channel — 117 on my own cable lineup. Or you might have it in your cable array without realizing it.
But THIS has been showing “Outer Limits” reruns. And at 1 a.m. on Friday, there's a decent one from 1963 — “Sixth Finger,” starring David McCallum and Jill Haworth (below). I suspect Darwin never envisioned anything quite like it.
I was going to say something snide about some people's learning curve re: the holiday-week garbage pickup schedule. But what's the point?
Instead, let's take a look at this Life magazine cover from 1971.
We could have our old pal Gamera and this other guy wrecking big parts of the city.
Rant 1: When the unmatched Bobby Orr scored his famous goal — well, it's famous to hockey fans — to win the Stanley Cup for the Boston Bruins in 1970, the date was May 10.
That seems like a reasonable date for the season to end. This greed-inspired playing into mid-June is nuts.
Rant 2: I sometimes hear people describe NBA players as the greatest athletes in the world. But I don't buy it.
No question, pro basketball players are tremendous athletes. But can you really be “the greatest” if, to excel at the highest level, you had to have the luck of genetics on your side so you could wind up being super-tall?
Surely the greatest athletes are average-sized people who succeed strictly as a result of their enormous talent and grit.
And what about an ability to suffer for your sport? I suspect cross-country bicycle racers routinely endure pain that would make many ball-sports competitors whimper.
The late actor Albert Salmi (left), who lived in Spokane at the time of his death, appeared in several episodes of “The Twilight Zone.” Which do you recall?
“My husband and I were at the food court at Northern Quest Casino,” wrote Judy Tierney. “A man left his coat on a chair. An hour later he came looking for it. It was right where he had left it.
“When he retrieved it, he said to his buddy, 'I knew it would still be here. The people of Spokane are too honest or too dumb to take it.'”
But Tierney has another theory.
Maybe not everyone around here yearns to have a Mariners jacket.
“I miss the North Cedar Drive-In theater,” wrote Shelley Davis. “I remember going there with my parents when I was a child, in my pajamas, to see 'That Darn Cat.' Then when I was in high school, with my best friend to see 'The Exorcist.' About 20 minutes in, we were already scared to death, so we left, laughing hysterically.
“Then later with my husband on many summer nights. One night we came home around midnight and jumped in our pool to cool off. Our elderly neighbor called us over to see his orchid that bloomed once a year, and it was in full bloom. Such great memories.”