Advertise Here

The Slice

Archive for May 2011

All aboard 2

After being at the train station early this morning, I've been thinking I'm in the mood to watch a train movie.

Time magazine came up with a list of the 10 best last year.

“Strangers on a Train.”

“The Great Train Robbery.”

“Silver Streak.”

“The Taking of Pelham One Two Three.”

“Murder on the Orient Express.”

“The Darjeeling Limited.”

“The Lady Vanishes.”

“Runaway Train.”

“Train of Life.”

“Throw Momma From the Train.” 

Bloom alert

Often when I correspond with Wayne Pomerleau, it's about our favorite movie Westerns. But this time, he had something else on his mind.

“The bushes are coming into bloom in the Lilac Garden at Manito Park,” he wrote. “If your readers wait half a month to go see them, they will be too late.”

All aboard

“Spokane Intermodal Facility” might be one of the more blah names you'll ever encounter.

But inside, there's a sign that has to be among the most evocative: “To Trains.”

Just wondering

How many times are you willing to ask “What are you selling?” before telling the person who won't give you a straight answer to get off your porch?

Play along at home

Today's Slice column involves replacing 40 animal references in song titles with “Marmot” or “Marmots.”

You know. “I've Got a Marmot By the Tail.” And so on.

But by no means did I exhaust the possibilities. So I invite you to try your hand at it.

Ever consider booing the audience?

Went to see “Bridesmaids” over the weekend at RPS.

There's a scene where the woman at the center of the story is at her mother's home watching the 2000 Tom Hanks movie, “Cast Away.”

She reacts emotionally to a wrenching scene involving the born-of-isolation friendship between Hanks' wreck-survivor character and a volleyball named Wilson. Many in the audience laughed.

Can only assume those folks have not seen “Cast Away.”

Gettin’ nostalgic with it

Slice reader Eric Rieckers weighed in on bygone Spokane movie theaters.

 “I miss the State (now Bing Crosby) Theater. My grandma lived across the street above the old Travo's (now Agave) and she took me to see 'High Anxiety' there in 1977. I was 8 at the time and she thought the PG rating meant 'Pretty Good.'

“I'm not making this up.

“She left a little disgruntled because the movie wasn't appropriate for children.”   

Slice Group Retail Consulting

Is it too much to ask that I be allowed to enter or exit Rite Aid without the sensors at the door setting off accusatory-sounding beeping?

Maybe it's just me.

I can see the store employees wanting to know when someone is coming in or going out. But it escapes me how a cry-wolf system that points the finger over and over (and is eventually ignored) is actually going to reduce shoplifting.

By any other name

The other day, I mentioned the practice of referring to neighbors by nicknames.

That prompted a note from a South Hill waitress. “We have plenty of code names for some of our customers,” she wrote.

Among the examples she shared were “The good son,” “Bionic couple,” “Churchies,” “Werewolf,” and “The pissers.”

She concluded by saying she's sure this is standard practice for servers who routinely find themselves waiting on regulars.

I wonder if Werewolf is a good tipper.

Thursday bonus nonsense

On “The Big Valley,” Audra Barkley was known for saying:

A) “Badges? We don't need no stinkin' badges.”

B) “I've heard that you're a low-down Yankee liar.”

C) “Who ARE those guys?”

D) “Good morning, mother.” 

40th anniversary looming

It was over a long Fourth of July weekend in 1971 that the Universal Life Church “picnic” took place at North Idaho's Farragut State Park.

It was actually a multi-band rock concert and celebration of what someone once described as “a morally casual attitude.”

Some who were there say they'll never forget it. Others admit that they spent a fair amount of time in a cloud of smoke and things got a bit hazy.

Rock on.

Slow in what sense?

Jeff Clausen enjoys this sign at NorthTown so much he decided to take a picture of it.

Slice answer

Today's Slice column in print included a multiple-choice exercise in which readers of a certain age were asked to characterize their role during dodgeball back in school.

Ashley Steinhart selected the last option, “Other.”

“Non-violent Peace Protestor,” she wrote. “Hell NO, I won't GO! Threw myself on the front lines, under the proverbial tanks, as the first voluntary casualty.”

Then she sat down.

Doing the wave

Now in my fourth year of three-season bicycle commuting, I've gotten to where I can usually tell when another Spokane cyclist is not going to return a friendly wave.

So I have pretty much abandoned the practice of acknowledging bike riders decked out in such a way as to make one suspect that they take themselves pretty seriously.  Which is sort of too bad. Because, in a way, this makes me guilty of the same sort of stereotyping that bike-hating drivers embrace.

You know, “They're all alike.”

And the fact is, I happen to know that some of those riders wearing the snug bike-racing clothes are actually OK guys. So maybe I need to rethink my policy.

I will continue, however, to not wave at the helmetless smokers riding bikes so ridiculously small that they look like they are part of a chimp act on “Ed Sullivan.”  

Just wondering

Are you more interested in criminal proceedings if the alleged perpetrator or victim is good-looking? 

Thank-You Notes From Kids Department

I'll leave my source and the name of the child out of this. But here's the note.

“Dear Ms. Zimmer

“Thank you for coming to our school to teach us about the aquifer. Making the aquifer. Thank you again for wasting your time for us.

“P.S. You are awesome!”

Win a reporter’s notebook

Just be the first to correctly identify this distant relative of mine.

Here's a hint. His accomplishment should have paved the way to untold riches for many generations of his descendants.

That's not what happened.

In retreat

“After gallantly fighting, using all the weapons and tools at my disposal, the not so Dandy-Lions have captured the battlefield,” wrote Larry Woodard. “However, I live to fight the battle another day.”

You make the call

True classic or hilariously overrated?

Wednesday’s Slice question

I haven't gotten to pipe up on a Wednesday since the early or mid-'90s, back when the food section came out on a different day.

Feels good.

So, anyway, here's one for my fellow early-risers.

How often, on your way to work or when out walking the dog, do you see signs of various brands of overnight mayhem and moronity and think to yourself, “Alcohol had to be involved”? 

Texting idiocy

So I duck into the downtown post office and head for the service counters.

There's one employee on duty, and he is busy with a customer. One other person, a young man in a hoodie, is positioned about 10 or 15 feet away from the service counter.

I can't tell if he is waiting to be helped or if he is with the lone customer at the counter.

They make it pretty clear where you are supposed to stand to wait in there, and he is nowhere near that spot. But as he has his head down and is concentrating on his phone, it occurs to me that he might have failed to observe the sign. So I ask him if he is in line.

“Yes, I'm in line,” he says in a vaguely hostile manner. Never looking up. Never looking at me.

Perhaps I interrupted him in the middle of a particulary crucial “Waaasssuppp?” text.

The headline: “Rookie Blogger Arrested for Decking Useless Punk on Federal Property” appears in my mind.

I start to explain about proper line-forming protocol and quickly decide not to waste my time.

I go stand where you are supposed to stand and wait my turn.

North By East West

Here's one for the Changes in Latitude file.

“Regarding the North Idaho/Northern Idaho debate,” wrote Shannon Bahr-Allert. “When I was visiting Pocatello last summer we were watching the local TV station and they refer to 'Eastern Idaho's biggest Ford dealership' or 'Eastern Idaho's best weather coverage' yada yada yada. I turned to my friend and said that up north we refer to Eastern Idaho as 'Montana.' ”

Jumping ahead

Let's preview the Slice question that will appear in Thursday's column. (Why wait for the actual newspaper? As they said on “The Six Million Dollar Man,” we have the technology.)

Which of the many Spokane movie theaters that no longer exist was your favorite?

I liked the Lyons. But I saw plenty of movies at the one up off the Newport highway. Then there was the one on North Division, the one behind the shopping center at 29th and Regal, the one downtown near where RPS is today, the pre-mall one out on East Sprague, the old Magic Lantern, the hideously subdivided Fox and, well, I'm sure I am forgetting a few. 

Marmot Lodge Meeting

Just a reminder.

We'll plan to get together on Aug. 3, 2012. Place and time TBD.

Some of you might want to start lining up a baby sitter.

Yes, 2012 is correct. We Marmots like to plan ahead. 


Just clearing weekend email and phone messages. That's always fun.

You won't believe this, but not everyone enjoyed Saturday's column about some women encouraging men to urinate into plastic cups when using the facilities.

Go figure. 

Days of Future Passed

No doubt you would observe it more often in cities where a higher percentage of commuters rely on mass transit and can read on their way to work.

But every once in a while, you see it in Spokane: A guy who knows how to walk with a newspaper tucked under one arm. It's a classic look.

Let's call it effortless style.

It's certainly not a strut. And it is not really any sort of statement about the trend arrows of information technology. It's just a subtle little sign that the pedestrian in question has something on his mind.

The are other ways to suggest that, of course. But I can't think of many that are so utterly unforced, so unpretentious.

Some things change. Some don't.

Nominations sought

Pine cones are to (fill in the blank with the name of a Spokane area lawn obsessive) as Tribbles were to Capt. James Tiberius Kirk.

Slice out. 

As I was saying

I should warn you. Space restrictions in print have left me with a pent-up urge to use illustrations.

So perhaps I should start trying to get that out of my system right now.

Asking readers to sing the old Hamm's beer jingle — and listening to the results when more than 100 did just that — was one of my favorite experiences in 19 years of writing The Slice. Do you know the tune? (Photo from Farm5.static)




This is what life was like before blogs. (


This is the “Iron Man” from 2000 in which Spokane was threatened. (



 When, as a kid, I got Art to sign a baseball for me, he took his time and checked out all the autographs that had come before his. (

Who doesn't love vintage postcards? (


I referred to this 1965 Buick ad earlier this month and one reader thought I was kidding about the “howitzer” line. (

If the Columbia Record Club calls, tell them I'm out. (

They're doing The Marmot. (

OK, let's move on. 

Bringing the heat

You can be puzzled by the reasoning behind our area's politics.

And a case could be made that any place shaped by both Northwest smugness AND Seattle envy (sure, sure, you never feel that) is bound to be a little nuts.

But the No. 1 craziest thing about life in the Spokane area is the near-universal assumption that absolutely everyone here craves hot weather.


Paths not taken

Maybe some of us were destined to wind up in this neck of the woods.

The other day I was going through a box of ancient personal papers. I came across a reminder that I almost went to the University of Idaho.

Back in the mid-70s, while in my second year as a student at a tiny state college in Vermont not far from home, I decided that my life really needed to be more like an Eagles song. So I applied to several medium-sized schools in the Intermountain West.

The U of I was kind enough to accept me. And I recall thinking that “the University of Idaho” would sound exotic to my friends in New England. It might even appear that I had a real plan, which I most assuredly did not.

“A Vandal? It's, um, a righteous pillager. Or something.”

In the end, I chose another college. But sitting in my basement the other day, I found myself wondering how my life might have been different had I opted to matriculate in Moscow. Perhaps I would have formed an opinion about Spokane, one way or the other, while still in my 20s.

How about you? Ever been pawing through some old box of stuff and found a fork in the road? 

The operation went well

Here's something from Slice reader Amanda Lorenzi.

“Hi, Paul. I have a story to share about an incident that happened to me when I was a child.

“I had a stuffed dog, Rex, that I got about 25 years ago (I'm 28 now). When I was about 10 or 11, I had been out to the lake with my aunt and cousins. We returned to their home to find that their dog, Belle, had gone all Flying Monkeys vs. the Scarecrow on my poor Rex! His head was on the porch, one arm was on one side of the yard, the other arm across the way, his legs in the driveway and stuffing all strewn about. I was inconsolable. My whole family knew how dearly I loved Rex and my cousins cried with me over the loss.

“But. My aunt gathered Rex and his pieces and took him to her friend Julie McDowell, who is quite a seamstress. And the next day I got Rex back in one piece with a snazzy new shirt.

“Eighteen years later, I still have Rex and every time I look at him I think of Julie and the heartache she saved me from.”   

Things haven’t been the same around here since…

Here's an answer to a finish-the-sentence exercise for which I didn't have room in Sunday's Slice.

Things haven't been the same around here since …

“Those outsiders came in with their fancy ideas,” wrote Georgie Ann Weatherby. “I speak from the standpoint of BEING an outsider. I moved here from the Portland/Vancouver area in 1996 — due to my career. I recall being at Huckleberry's not long after my arrival, inquiring about a specific type of sushi I was seeking. The store employees were very kind and helpful, but the locals in line where I stood started reminiscing about what it was like before all these 'big city folks' moved to Spokane (complete with diatribes on 'wide open spaces'). I politely mentioned that we bring revenues with us, which enriches the city. My retort was met with cold stares. There were many more incidents to follow.”

My first thought? Huck's seems like an odd place to encounter that attitude. I would have guessed a fair number of shoppers there (I'm one) would do back-flips to at least affect the opposite outlook. But that was the first year the store was open, so maybe some in Spokane hadn't figured out the vibe yet.

Anyway, Weatherby went on to say she thinks Spokane is changing. “Things have brightened up a bit as this city has slowly become more diverse, but it still has a long way to go.”

Welcome to The Slice blog

I'm guessing you have questions.

Q: Why is there a Slice blog?

A: Why not.

Q: Isn't six columns a week in print enough?

A: This will be different.

Q: How so?

A: Give it a little time. You'll see.

Q: What if I don't like The Slice?

A: As is the case with the print column, reading The Slice blog will be voluntary.

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