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The Slice

Archive for September 2011

Familiar but still quite different

Certainly Spokane isn't the only place where it happens.

But I suspect seeing someone driving a car just like yours do something insanely rude or aggressive stings a bit more here.

Why? Because many in Spokane love to assume a universality of perspective.

You know. Everyone goes to The Lake. Everyone is in love with GU basketball. Everyone does Bloomsday. Everybody is a fan of Hoopfest. And on and on.

Exaggerations all.

Perhaps we're prone to cling to these broad-brush assumptions because Spokane is not a hotbed of certain kinds of diversity. So maybe it's tempting, or perhaps self-serving, for some to imagine that we're all alike.

Anyway, you have to guess that some of us are inclined to believe that people behind the wheel of cars that are the exact make, model and year as our own must be a lot like us. Right? Stands to reason.

Then you see someone in your car's twin cut another driver off or blow through a stop sign. It can be a little depressing.

“How could someone with my exact tastes in one regard be so different in other ways?”

Of course, maybe they aren't really different. Maybe you are in denial and you are the exact same kind of road menace.

Nah. Just kidding. You're OK, no doubt.

The other guy? Well, maybe he borrowed that car from his prince of a brother-in-law. 

I couldn’t ever really get into this band

And, because they started in my old hometown, I gave it a halfhearted try. But unlike my easy enthusiasm for another begun-in-Burlington, Vermont offering, Ben & Jerry's ice cream, I just couldn't get excited about Phish.

Maybe my tastes were simply too calcified.

These posters, by the way, are from the mid-'90s.  

Overwhelmed by a huge project?

This is not a new title. And I'm quite sure the author would rub a lot of people the wrong way.

But this small book contains perhaps the best advice I've ever heard about getting your arms around a challenge that seems out of control.

I could try to summarize it, but it's better if you hear it from her. 

This date in “Dick Van Dyke” history

On Sept. 30, 1964, an episode called “The Ghost of A. Chantz” aired for the first time.

An online episode guide summarized it this way: “After a mix-up by Mel for reservations at a lodge, Rob, Laura, Sally and Buddy are forced to spend a frightening night in a cabin that has not been used in years and is rumored to be haunted.”

Antics ensue.

This date in “Bewitched” history


Sept. 30, 1965 saw the first airing of an episode called “We're In for a Bad Spell.”

Sam and Aunt Clara try to help lift a bad-luck spell from Darrin's old Army buddy. Antics ensue.  

Asked and answered

Slice reader Eric Rieckers had a question.

“Is it unethical to transfer certain cans/bottles/publications from your recycle bin to your neighbor's on garbage day simply because you're embarrassed about it being in yours?”

It is if you get caught.

Thirty days has September

But the speed at which this month has flown by reminds me of an episode of “Star Trek: Voyager.”

Called “Blink of An Eye,” it has Voyager getting trapped in the orbit of a planet where time moves much faster than in the rest of the galaxy.

Here's how an online episode guide put it: “Although Voyager is stuck in orbit only for a matter of days, from the perspective of the planet, the 'Skyship' has been watching them for centuries, and becomes a guiding force for the development of their civilization.”

Maybe it's just me. But it seems like, this September, we've been down on that speeded-up planet.

The worst interior decorating ever

But maybe if you drink enough beer, it will get better.

Driving one of these on a date meant…

…hearing your friends say…

A) “So, are you two planning on starting a family? A LARGE family?” B) “You're a regular James Dean there, aren't you, Griffith?” C) “Ahem. Got enough leg room there, kids?” D) “Hey, it's 10 o'clock. Do you know where your parents are?”  E) “OK, Ward and June. Just remember what Ann Landers says about station wagons.” F) “Don't let that car fool you, Cindy. Johnson there is a wild man.” G) “The thing I like about you, Peterson, is that you know you aren't cool and you don't try to fight it.” H) Other. 

On this date in “Bonanza” history

Sept. 29, 1963 saw the first airing of “A Passion for Justice.” According to an online episode guide, Charles Dickens visits Virginia City and is dismayed to discover that the local paper is reprinting his work without permission.

Dickens was played by Jonathan Harris, perhaps best known for his role in “Lost in Space.” 

What happens when you forget to…

…swap your computer glasses for your regular glasses before getting up and leaving your work station?

A) I become a danger to myself and to others. B) Non-issue. I wear bifocals and don't mind tilting my head like an odd sea bird 65,000 times a day. C) I get to my car and have to make a choice between safety and expedience. D) I bump into people and objects. E) My podmate says, “Hey, Clark Kent, forget something there?” F) Other.

Step right up for our nostalgia blowout

Fifty years ago today, a classic episode of “The Twilight Zone” — “The Shelter” — first aired.

Rod Serling loved the “We are our own worst enemy” theme. (See also, “The Monsters are Due on Maple Street.”) And “The Shelter” is a doozy.

A suburban birthday party is interrupted by fears that World War III is about to start. The one family with a bomb shelter retreats to that refuge. And before long, panicked neighbors literally beat the door down. Not, however, before revealing some previously hidden biases and antagonisms.

The danger from above turns out to be harmless satellites. But down in the basement, the damage has already been done.  

One of my all-time favorite answers

I don't remember the exact set-up. It was probably about 15 years ago, after all. But somehow or other Slice readers were asked to localize “The Planet of the Apes.”

And one respondent imagined a scene in which, instead of encountering the Statue of Liberty, Taylor (Charlton Heston) rounds a bend and sees only that “BUFFET” sign.

“You maniacs!” 

“Opie the Birdman”

Tomorrow, Sept. 30, marks the anniversary of the original 1963 airing of one of the best half-hours in television history.

“Opie the Birdman” isn't just one of the most touching looks at the parent-child relationship ever. It's also a classic lesson in taking responsibility for a wrong and striving to earn redemption.

And about when caring means letting go.

Great, great performances from Griffith and Ron Howard, along with some delightful comic bits from Don Knotts.

The understated music, the perfect pacing…everything comes together in this terrific 30 minutes.

But it all starts, and ends, with some really fine writing.

“But don't the trees seem nice and full.”  

Ah, the life of an artist

Call me a cynic, but I can't help suspecting that this ad was designed to appeal to guys who dreamed of having fetching women come up to check out some etchings.

Art Instruction, Inc. is where Charles Schulz worked before “Peanuts” took off.

Happy birthday to Pugsley

“The “Addams Family” child star (that's him on the right) is 56 today. His real name is Ken Weatherwax.

Years ago, my wife and I used to call two Browne's Addition cats we saw all the time “Pugsley” and “Indoor Pugsley.”

Multiple choice

When you are eating out in Spokane and see a family nearby in the restaurant saying grace, how does their conduct usually strike you?

A) Quiet, dignified. B) It doesn't bother me and it shouldn't bother anyone else. C) Reminds me of Brother Love's Traveling Salvation Show. D) Fine, except for the political messages at the end of the blessing. E) I could have lived without hearing my own kid ask “What are those people doing, daddy?” But it's a free country.  F) We say grace in restaurants, too. G) The “healing ceremony” seemed a bit over the top. H) Other 

The bottle tree

“We're quite sure that we have the only blooming bottle tree in Spokane County,” wrote Donna Potter Phillips.

Did you hear those fighters yesterday?

They were over the city at about 3 o'clock yesterday afternoon. Man, they are loud.

If they had been from the era of the photo above, I could have told you exactly what kind they were. But these modern jets all look alike to me. 

Women can recover from big hair

I met this woman in the early 1980s. She had been a Miss Tennessee about 10 years before I encountered her.

She was totally pleasant. She was smart and funny. And her hair was completely under control.

So don't give up on people.  

Wednesday food section annex

I have a question for those who did not grow up in the West.

Before you came out here, had you encountered the “Spaghetti Feed”?

Sometimes “feeds” are part of fund-raising events. Other times, they're simply the food focus of a community celebration.

But it's the fun language that interests me. This usage can also be found in “Hamburger Feed,” et cetera. 

Staying power

“My friend, Angela Morbeck, who grew up on a farm in Uniontown, is the youngest of eight,” wrote Linda Peterson of Spokane. “She is 76. All of her siblings are still living. That has to be noteworthy in some way.”


It was all in the wrists

By my rough estimate, this was 2.25 years after he had peaked as a national phenomenon.

This poster now sells for…

…about 10 times the price of the best ticket some 30 years ago.

Kid bound for a special school in Idaho

If you watched “The Sopranos” years ago, you might recognize Vito Spatafore, Jr. (Season 6, Episode 16. “Chasing It.”)

Having recently lost his father to highly unnatural causes, the troubled New Jersey teen was getting to be a bit of handful. (Defecating in the communal shower after PE at school might have been the last straw.) So, partly for self-serving money-saving reasons, Tony Soprano comes up with the idea of grabbing Vito Junior in the middle of the night and having him hauled off to the Gem State for a little tough love.

I can't remember if he was ever heard from again. 

Pros/cons of GU playing Div 1 hockey

Pro: What if the fairy dust falls off the shoulders of the basketball program someday?

Con: Facilities issues.

Pro: Top tier college hockey would appeal to fans who can't get into versions of the sport where fighting is an accepted part of the game. (Fight in college hockey and you're gone, and not just for five minutes.)

Con: Ruinous travel costs. Nearest Division 1 programs are in Alaska, North Dakota, Colorado and Nebraska.

Pro: Academic fit. For a variety of reasons both social and cultural, Division 1 college hockey players typically excel in the classroom. Harvard and Yale, et cetera,  compete at the highest level of college hockey.

Con: Would be starting at zero re: establishing rivalries.

Pro: Potentially rich recruiting grounds in nearby BC. (Kids wanting to go the college route might welcome a chance to play closer to home than, say, Michigan or Wisconsin.) 

Con: Wouldn't have the advantage that programs in Northeast and Midwest enjoy where many college teams grab gaduating talent from elite prep schools where the sport has decades of tradition.

Pro: A bulldog graphic would look cool at center ice.

Con: Spokane's hockey culture has deep roots in the Canadian brand of the game. The possibility that GU hockey might be embraced mostly by students from Seattle and California could create a weird town/gown discord.

Pro: Could have women's hockey, too.

Con: GU athletics boosters known to enjoy the occasional trip to San Diego or Hawaii might be slow to see the charms of a January flight to Grand Forks, N.D.,  or Duluth, Minnesota.

Pro: Anyone who has seen a game at a college hockey hotbed knows the sport sells itself.

Con: Very few people here have experienced that. 

The “Lower South Hill” ends where?

You know.  At what point does it become just the South Hill?

A) 10th. B) 14th. C) Where you stop being able to read at night by the light of flashers on police cars and “Stay back” yellow tape is mostly used to protect reseeded areas. D) This is a stupid question because it suggests that bad things happen only in certain neighborhoods, which is ludicrous. E) Shoshone. F) Other.

It’s almost time to pick a team

There are still a few issues to be sorted out before the end of baseball's regular season. But one thing is quite clear: The Mariners will not be in the playoffs.

So, assuming you don't hate baseball or regard sports as a time-wasting cultural hypnotism, you might want to think about selecting a team to root for. That could make the weeks to come a little more fun.

Certainly you are free to come up with your own choice. But instead of going with some utterly unimaginative pick (Yankees or Phillies), why not opt for a team from a hollowed out, zero-glamour city that helped make America great?

(I'm not thinking of building cars so much as the city creating a template for a blue-collar middle class. It was nice while it lasted. And let's not forget the 1940s and converting the auto plants to defense industry and helping to win Wolrd War II.) 

Anyway, why not pick a team that hasn't won it all since 1984? You won't be alone.     

S-R newsroom’s Navin Johnson moment

The new phone book's here! The new phone book's here!

“I'm somebody now!”

So what do you think of the magnet-ad dentist's new photo?

Here’s another photo of Porter and Dolly

To note the anniversry of their appearance at Expo '74.

A great caboose

So just what sort of picture WERE you expecting under that headline?

This would interest hardly anyone

But I'm having trouble finding the answer.

Was the Jack Arbour who played hockey for the Spokane Clippers in the late 1930s any relation to NHL Hall of Famer Al Arbour?

Pine Needle Fest: Yes or No?

Recent winds having ushered in the unofficial start of pine needle season, it's time once again to ask.

Should Spokane have a Pine Needle Fest?

Sure, we already have Art, Hoop, Spoke and one or two other fests I'm probably forgetting. But could anything be more Northwest-flavored than Pine Needle Fest? Why, you can practically smell the idea.

There could be the crowning of the Pine Needle Queen and the Cone Princesses.

There could be a Pine Needle Fest pie bakeoff.

Basketspalooza. (See above.)

Pine Needle sculpture.

Plenty of crushingly boring activities for children!

A Grownup's Garden of Beer (served on pine needle coasters).

Pine Needle bonfire (huge figure made of needles — “Pining Man”).

There could be an annual contest to see who can hold the most pine needles in his beard.

We could even bring back the old PineSong music and arts fair and incorporate it into Pine Needle Fest.

Or we could just forget the whole thing and sleep in that Saturday. 

Have a son or daughter starting college?

Rest assured you remain that young person's role model.

Instead of, say, an invidual such as this.

If this is the realtor you’re meeting…

…don't ask too many questions about the previous residents.

Slice answer (deceptive phone voices)

“My voice sounds really young and really sexy,” wrote Nancy Hartley. “I am almost 68 and, well, just a little old and a little sexy.” 

Maybe it’s just my imagination

But I could swear there are three or four women in Spokane who look just like the late actress, Susan Hayward. Or maybe it's the same person and I keep seeing her, over and over.

In any case, the hair and makeup are toned down. The appearance isn't air-brushed. The attire is much more everyday. And they aren't always smiling. But these women sure look like Susan Hayward.

I wonder, if someone commented on the resemblance, if they would recognize the name.

One Halloween in Spokane

Collosseum? Sounds like an outpatient procedure.

Pick your favorite Donovan song.

A) “Mellow Yellow.” B) “Sunshine Superman.” C) “Hurdy Gurdy Man.” D) “Season of the Witch.” E) “Atlantis.” F) Other.

Me? Well, once I would have selected B or E. But the haunting use of “Season of the Witch” at the end of the 1995 Nicole Kidman movie “To Die For” makes me give the nod to D.

People are swell

North Idaho's Marge McNall was a workplace supervisor in Seattle a few years ago when abuse of the office fridge became a nagging problem.

One of the people working there had filled the freezer compartment with the overflow from his freezer at home. He was not accessing this stuff for workplace lunches or anything. He was just using the office fridge as his personal freezer annex.

McNall finally had to post a warning that the refrigerator was going to be cleaned out. She did this several days in advance. But the Freezer Hog ignored the notice.

So McNall went ahead and cleaned out the fridge, including the freezer.

The Freezer Hog went ape and fireworks ensued — which everyone working there heard. But McNall stood her ground.

After the Freezer Hog stormed out of the place, the rest of the employees gave McNall a standing ovation. 


Favorite feedback on Friday’s column

Reader reaction is briefly summarized in today's print column. It was mixed. That's fine. Good for everyone to have their say.

But one email I enjoyed suggested that I wouldn't have been bothered by something so insignificant as the dog doo incident if I were more aware of the survival challenges facing people in the Third World.

I am not making that up.

I wonder if that person sent a note to the producers of “Seinfeld” every week.

Up in the air

I saw a former colleague Friday afternoon on my way home from work.

I suggested that she ask her dad, a long-retired Pan Am pilot, to watch the new show “Pan Am” and file a report on his impressions.

Obviously inspired by the success of “Mad Men,” it focuses on stewardesses in the '60s.

My friend said she would pass along the message. But I'm not really expecting to hear from her dad, whom I've met and like. Something tells me his gag reflex will force him to bail.

It's on ABC tonight at 10. 

Home of “Spokane Correctional Facility”

The sign saying that appears near the end.

Long-distance relationships

Every once in a while, I hear from people who have moved away from the Spokane area but still check out now and then. I suppose some of them also call up other Spokane sites, too.

Their reasons for wanting to keep tabs on our area vary. Some still have family here. Some could move back one day. And others might have a hard time characterizing their lingering attachment.

All seems perfectly normal to me.

But it makes me wonder.

How many people here regularly check websites produced by newspapers back where they used to live?

Do frustrations with those news organizations' coverage philosophies and approaches diminish with distance?

Is it still possible to experience that sense of recreational disappointment/disdain re: that distant newspaper when you don't live back there anymore?

Do you find yourself recognizing things you admire and miss about your old hometown?

What is the 2011 equivalent of…

…Spokane kid goes on to spend time within sniffing distance of Grace Kelly?

Happy birthday to Cheryl Tiegs, 64

Sure, you could find all the photos you want on your own. You're already on the Internet, after all.

But what if you have delicate sensibilities and want to be protected from anything, shall we say, startling or coarse. Well, you've come to the right place. This is a tastefully curated birthday salute, designed to adhere to a strict standard of modesty.

Wait, wait…come back! It won't be THAT modest.

So what, if anything, did that have to do with the price of wheat? Not much, I suppose.

But maybe a case could be made that the Inland Northwest is a bit like a certain kind of beautiful woman. You know, reasonably modest but definitely wanting — expecting, really — you to notice her charms.

Sure. That's it.

So let's look at one more picture.

Tight fit

Autumn started yesterday, of course. But it seems pretty clear that summer intends to hang around and take a final bow this weekend.

If you had ridden your bike across town this morning to pick up some bagels, you would have seen all sorts of activity.

Yard sales starting up. Kids soccer. Lawn mowing. Joggers. Dog walkers. People heading out to do errands. You know, Spokane on a balmy Saturday morning.

But if your route took you through neighborhoods with older homes, there's something else you might have noticed. With all the comings and goings, this morning was an ideal time to observe that we have in our midst a fair number of drivers capable of precise maneuvers.

You know those folks who own big ass family trucksters? Sure. Well, a few of them live in older homes. And that often means the garages were built with much smaller vehicles in mind.

So steering the big rig in or out requires a cool head and steady hand.

I saw one guy back out this morning from a garage that seemed about one coat-of-paint wider than the SUV he was driving. If the actual inside of the garage wasn't bigger than the door frame, he'd never be able to get out of his car.

Docking orbiting space vehicles couldn't have been much harder than what he does every day. (And the astronauts had computer assist.)

Oh, well. So long, summer. Nice seeing you again.

That first Playboy

Let me say, right off the bat, that if you are eager to be offended here, please be my guest.

But the plain fact of the matter is, a lot of men my age can clearly remember the contents of the first Playboy or two they got to peruse at leisure. Which was an altogether different experience from sneaking a peak at a copy on the top shelf of a drug store's magazine rack.

My father would have never considered subscribing to Playboy. No way. And he wouldn't have brought a copy home.

But my significantly older brother had a more welcoming attitude about this publication. And the covers below are from two issues he somehow acquired and hid (quite poorly) in our shared room.

The magazines, dated 1965 and 1967, were already a little old by the time I began studying them like a Dead Sea Scrolls scholar. But that didn't deter me from repeated and diligent inspections.

If I had dedicated myself to my schoolwork in similar fashion, well, that's water under the bridge.

Boys today interested in looking at pictures of young women in danger of catching a chill have countless options, I suppose. But I wouldn't trade my experience.

After all, it's true. There really were articles. I'm sure I could recite the interview with the Beatles that's in the 1965 issue.

I know I certainly memorized a number of other pages.

Still more on beverages and bowling

How is she supposed to bowl with this guy all over her?

Is it just me or do you detect in her smile a hint of a desire to be with someone else?  

You know you are going too fast when…

…you're responding to email and reply to one without even noticing (at first) that it begins “Dear Mr. Wilson” and is signed “Dennis M.”  

One problem we don’t have around here

Dry as it is here, we just don't see that many infestations of Swamp Women.

I'll explore this theme in Monday's Slice.


Here are a few more. These come from Mike Storms, one of the many readers whose photo is on display here at Slice Headquarters.

Spokcan — local jail.

Spokalcohol — Dry Fly.

Spokcough — results of pollen.

Spokcows — city taxpayers.

Spokhole — look at the roads. 

Welcome to fall

For those who don't have a twitchy attention span, here's Neil Young and “Harvest Moon.”

The first vintage beer ads of autumn

Yes, and remember to drink responsibly.

But if you dispense beer to trick-or-treaters it just provides ammo for Halloween-haters.

Does his right arm seem abnormally long?

Kids, you used to have to punch holes in the cans before becoming light-hearted.

Or you could sit down with some coldies and hope for a mighty wind.

Beer and bowling? That could work.

See? Beer and bowling. And why is this autumnal? Check out the stylish sweaters.

OK, off to the big game. Don't fumble.

And, of course, the ice in the Hamm's ad hints at the next season on the calendar.

If your first time was a few years ago

Not everyone has had the experience of buying a new car. But those who have do not forget the first one, even if it was not the best or most exciting vehicle ever made.

Still, if it was a happy time in your life, you might get a kick out of doing a search for ads showing that first new one. Takes you back. 

The enemy next door

We all know that neighbors don't always know each other these days. And sometimes those that are acquainted do not get along.

But the folks I wonder about are the next-door neighbors who have campaign signs for rival candidates in their front yards. I pass several of  these situations every day.

There are a couple of Verner/Condon sign duels and one or two Brower/Fullmer side-by-sides on my route.

What gets said about the neighbors inside those homes?

Sure, I guess I could get off my bike and undertake a little journalistic inquiry. But if I were to do that, two of the three possible outcomes are not good.

1. The people could lie.

2. They could tell the truth and the resulting coverage could turn a little low-key tension into serious hard feelings.

So I'll just hope that these neighbors are adults about this whole thing and are able to keep politics in perspective. Given the way things are these days, I realize that's wishful thinking.

But maybe I don't really need to worry. Like I said at the beginning, it could well be that these next-door neighbors are complete strangers and never talk.

I know. Odd to take comfort in that.

Important information for baby boomers

You might know that the talented June Foray was the voice of Rocky the Flying Squirrel.

But did you know she was also the voice of antennae-headed Cindy Lou Who?

AND…she was the voice of Talky Tina, the toy who took on Telly Savalas in “Living Doll,” a 1963 episode of “The Twilight Zone.”

Here's June quite a few years ago.

I wonder if the men in her life ever asked that she do voices during, uh, moments of intimacy.

Oh, what? Like you never wondered that.

Jumping ahead to an Expo anniversary

According to my list, Porter Wagoner and Dolly Parton didn't actually perform at Expo '74 until September 27. But I love this photo (not taken in Spokane) and want to share it now.

A few mostly obscure 1980s band names

Dead Milkmen, Suicidal Tendencies, Mudboy & the Neutrons, Angerhead, Pezz, The Randy Band, Adam's House Cat, Widespread Panic, The Gun Club, Linda Heck & the Trainwreck, The Gories, The Verbs, The Marilyns, Jason and the Scorchers, Mojo Nixon, Vibration Society, Gene Loves Jezebel, The Scam, Think as Incas, Los Pimpin, Love Tractor, Flaming Lips, Metro Waste, Big Ass Truck, Burn Witch Burn, The Modifiers, Man With Gun Lives Here, Panther Burns, The Cadillac Cowgirl, Neighborhood Texture Jam, Beanland, Crowded House, Circle Jerks, Alice Donut, The Bum Notes, The Klitz, DDT, The Generics, Sobering Consequences, The Grifters, Econochrist, Meat Puppets, The Simpletones, Bad Brains, Taintskins, Mission of Burma, White Animals, Royal Crescent Mob, Barking Dog, Bob's Lead Hyena, The Crime, The Minutemen, Webb Wilder, The Plimsouls, Uncle Tupelo, Dash Riprock, El Vez, The Syndromes, Corrosion of Conformity, Romeo Void, Faith No More, The Chills, Government Issue, Screaming Trees, The Skunks, Calculated X and The Cramps.

The Dead Milkmen with Sparky Anderson.  

Jim Murray’s classic riff on Spokane

I don't know for sure how the Lilac City happened to show up on the late Los Angeles Times sportswriter's radar. I've always assumed it had something to do with the Spokane Indians' AAA days of being the launch pad for future Dodgers. But maybe the stage was set for this memorable burst of typing by a USC or UCLA game against WSU.

In any event, here it is.

“The only trouble with Spokane, Wash., as a city is that there's nothing to do after 10 o'clock. In the morning.

“But it's a nice place to go for breakfast.” 

When you are not worried about…

…seeming tough in a simpleminded, black uniforms kind of way, your team can have a graphic like this.

This team is in England's top pro soccer league. I love that bird.

Don't respect soccer? Fine. But at least be willing to admit that on your best day you couldn't have kept up with those guys for five minutes. 

Countdown to perfection

As of tomorrow, there will be 100 days left in the year.

Seems like a pretty good time to launch a self-improvement regimen. Usually that means losing 10 pounds.

I'd join you. But I've already promised my mother I would go over to her place Friday and have pizza. So I guess that lets me out.

Of course, I guess I could come up with a different sort of goal. How about discontinuing my practice of posting blog items featuring baseball cards of major-league players who had minor league stints in Spokane?

Oh, wait. I've already done that. Guess I'm good to go.  

Asked and answered

Q: Is there a unifying concept behind the Slice blog?

A: Yes. Sometimes things that interest me are also of interest to others.

Sex appeal and the single church-goer

Please mark the following 10 statements True or False.

1. People tend to be their most attractive at worship services because they are dressed up and generally looking their best.

2. Dressed up? Not in 2011. Not in Spokane. Not at this time of year.

3. OK, maybe not totally spiffed up. But at least some people do try to look presentable and reasonably modest at church.

4. If the sermon just isn't grabbing you, it's natural to look around and, well, let the mind wander.

5. Young single adults have been known to let their minds wander in a particular direction.

6. Even if you are the epitome of broad-minded, you have to admit that there's something about seeing someone in a serious context that makes that individual seem appealing in a way that, say, wearing a tank top and tossing back a draft beer might not.

7. People go to church for a lot of reasons, some having more to do with habit than inspiration. But the idea that someone might be trying to be a better person tends to make that individual attractive.

8. Going to church with the primary goal of meeting people you might date probably isn't a perfect plan.

9. Being even slightly dressed up can send a signal that wearing a baseball cap backward does not.

10. Fragrance overkill is a big, big turnoff. 

Please select a photo caption

A) “I said no more dry food.” B) “Are you a man or a mouse?” C) Bob suddenly found himself rethinking the wisdom of volunteering to feed his neighbor's cat. D) “Hey, Steve. C'mon out of there. It's time for you to be taken for your defingering.” E) “When I said 'tuna' did you think I was talking about tomorrow, puny man?” F) “We've had a report of sleeveless little twerps being hoarded here. May I come in?”G) “I'm afraid it's a little late to take me back to Spokanimal, Chief.” H) Other.

There are two kinds of people

There are those whose driver's education experience included watching “shock” movies highlighting actual photos of mangled bodies taken at accident scenes. These films, featuring deadpan narrators, were legendary in teen circles 50 years ago. They had titles such as “Signal 30,” “Wheels of Tragedy” and “Highways of Agony.”

And then there are those who learned to drive without watching these gory warnings.

It's probably reasonable to conclude that somewhere along the line it was determined that the “Signal 30” approach was not making new drivers safer.

Either that or some parents complained.

The politics of facial hair in Spokane

Let's say you want to have some sort of beard or mustache. But you don't really care to use your facial hair stylings to signal your political leanings, cultural sensibility or music preference. Is there such a thing as a beard or mustache that is not a symbol?

I'm just asking. When I grew a beard a few years ago, I definitely was not thinking of it as a billboard for my values and attitudes. I'm sure that is true for many others.

But I have to admit something. Often, when encountering a guy with facial hair, I'm tempted to assume that I could list how he votes, what sort of entertainment he enjoys and how he feels about bike riders.

Surely I would be wrong some of the time. But you know what I mean.

So, anyway, back to the question. In Spokane at least, is there a facial hair option that does not make a statement beyond “I like the way this makes me look”?  

How would you explain this…

…to a grandchild? 

A) Uh, the costumes got a little odd for a while there. B) Ballet was big in the '60s. Huge! C) Well, all I can tell you is that they had some really good songs. D) It had something to do with the Revolutionary War. Or was that the New Colony Six? E) Other

Say Hey! Revisiting a childhood error

Coming across this picture of a 1960s model of Willie Mays making a famous catch reminded me of my own attempt to put together this very same Aurora kit when I was a kid.

Mine turned out nothing like the one in the photo. For one thing, I had no painting skills. But my biggest problem was that I used way, way too much glue.

I had a devil of a time getting Willie to balance on that one foot. So I kept adding more and more glue. Eventually I accidentally managed to dissolve the plastic outfield surface. And about the time I realized my model would look like Willie had stepped in a gopher hole (which, admittedly, would have made the catch even more impressive) I decided it was time to call a halt to this insult to a great baseball player.

I did see him hit a home room once in person. Fortunately, his cleats were not covered with glue. So he had no trouble trotting around the bases.

I had slightly better success with my model airplanes. As I ended up setting fire to many of them in a glorious crash-and-burn effect, my generosity with the glue only added fuel to the driveway fantasy. 

Lucky 7

1. This might be a bit like observing that it seems to get darker after the sun goes down. But have you ever noticed that the one category of pedestrians that doesn't seem to have a hard time with getting drivers to acknowledge the right-of-way is attractive women? I know that's a sweeping generalization. But I honestly think these women are given consideration that us invisible types can seldom count on. And I'm not sure why. In my entire life, I have never seen a woman respond to being allowed to use a crosswalk by declaring an intention to bestow sexual favors on the guy in the truck who stopped to let her pass.

2.  A lot of us occasionally pick up a prescription for a parent. But here's what I am wondering. You know how you use a stylus and touch screen to go through the automated prescription pick-up process. Well, who is the oldest person in Spokane to tap on the “Child” box when faced with the “Relationship to the patient” question?

3. Do your pets know what the presence of suitcases and other luggage means?

4. Do you have young friends who are flabbergasted by the idea that people used to be able to smoke on airliners?

5. Has anyone ever punctured a car tire by driving over a pinecone?

6. When aiming their grocery carts at the opening to those parking lot corrals, some shoppers remind me of curlers easing the rock down the ice.

7. Does everyone who lives here have some distant relative, acquaintance or business contact who is incapable of remembering that Spokane isn't Tacoma?

You know summer is on its last legs…

…when you come home from work and there's a phone message asking if you want to go ahead and schedule your sprinklers blow-out.

The bird is the word

Different people have different approaches when it comes to bragging about their Spokane neighborhoods.

Some talk about schools and parks. Some think strictly in terms of resale values. Others bring up access to cultural institutions or shopping. There are even people who like to tell you where their neighborhood ranks as a snow-plowing priority.

But some of these folks are missing a good bet. If they really wanted to impress some of us, they would utter those three little words: “We have magpies.”

Some Spokane neighborhoods do. Some don't (at least not on a regular basis).

And for fans of the big birds, seeing them never gets old.

Sure, lots of people probably don't care. But some of us enjoy spotting these corvids and recalling scenes in nature shows showing them hanging out with grizzly bears.

Maybe it would seem odd. But if you are having a hard time selling a house and can make the claim, it could be worth a try.

“Two bathrooms. Updated kitchen. Partially finished basement. Magpies.”  

If you take gender equality for granted…

You are either young or ignorant. Well, I take that back. You could be both.

When did you lose interest in Bond films?

A) When I was 10. B) When I was 30. C) When the stars started being actors I've never heard of. D) When I started acquiring STDs. E) I haven't yet. F) When someone I admire cringed about my announced plan to go see one. G) Other.

Fire when ready

Toy guns that used rolls of caps were a childhood staple for some of us. But eventually the modest little snapping sound those caps made wasn't enough of a thrill.

What was? Well, if you took a whole roll of caps and placed it upright on a sidewalk and then struck it a sharp blow with a hammer…well, sir, THAT produced a satisfying report.

It might also have caused hearing loss. But what can I tell you. We were riding without helmets back then.  

Laurie Petrie, Samantha Stephens and…

…Donna Stone. Yes, Donna Reed's sitcom character often gets overlooked in discussions of 1960s sitcom wives. Here she is waiting for Dr. Stone to get home so she can tell him about some problem with the kids.

OK, that's actually a publicity still for either “From Here to Eternity” or the never-made sequel to “It's a Wonderful Life” variously titled “The Potterville Diaries” and “You Call This a Happy Family?” 

Late summer in another century

There's a lot to like here: 1. The way she's dressed. 2. The way he's dressed. 3. The alarm clock on top of the car. 4. Her cooking glove. 5. The animals just beyond the trees waiting for her to finish making breakfast before they make their move. 6. And, how come you can see right through the tent?

And here on the Island of Bicycle Women, we have Convertible Man adjusting his shades to better see what we can't.

A grocery store by any other name

There are people of a certain age who move to the Inland Northwest from other parts of the country and refer to Rosauers or Albertson's or whatever by the name of the store where they shopped back where they used to live.

So I guess it stands to reason that some who move from here to someplace far away refer to going to Yoke's or Safeway when that's not the name of the new store at all.

Second thoughts about Tuesday’s Slice

My deadline for Tuesday's column is Friday. That gives me plenty of time between writing it and the column's actual appearance in print to mull some of the choices I made.

Take tomorrow's Slice, for instance. I sort of wish I had one do-over.

Making fun of someone's name is not what most would call classy. And all but suggesting that said name could be confused with, say, a urinary tract ailment, is arguably over the line.

On the other hand, I've never met anyone in TV news who minded a little attention. Even if it's in poor taste. 

Does this look familiar?

Sure. And I had my hopes up for a local angle here. But this 1957 cover photo was taken at Castle Air Force Base in California.

Coug consideration wows Dawg

There's a WSU grad working at the newspaper who has something like four siblings who all went to U-Dub.

Before WSU's game with UNLV a couple of weeks ago, this S-R Coug told one of his brothers that if he wanted to experience a college football atmosphere that wasn't totally corporate, he needed to go down to Pullman with him.

So the Husky brother agreed. And it wasn't long before he admitted that he was enjoying the atmosphere and having a good time.

But it was an extremely sunny Saturday, so Mr. Husky ducked out of the stadium at one point and went into the nearby Compton Union Building in search of sunscreen. He got in line at a store in the CUB. And when he reached the service counter, he asked for sunscreen. The employee told him they were out.

Mr. Husky sagged. What was he going to do now? Go back and turn into a boiled lobster?

The woman behind him in line at the CUB must have sensed his disappointment. Because she reached into her purse and handed him a tube of sunscreen for him to use and keep, saying “Go, Cougs.”

When he got back to his seat at Martin Stadium, he told his WSU grad brother that what had just transpired would not have happened at a game in Seattle.

Of course, there wouldn't be any need for sunscreen at a UW game, but you get the point. 

Things people say to you when…

…you are mounting a bicycle on an automobile bike rack shortly after lunchtime on a weekday while parked on a street in downtown Spokane.

1. “Beautiful day for a bike ride.” (Yes, but if I were actually going for a ride I wouldn't be putting the bike on a car. Though I recognize how someone might assume otherwise.)

2. “Going for a bike ride?” (OK, maybe that sounds like the “You guys playing cards?” scene in “Animal House.” But rather than trying to explain the logistical sequence of events that led to both my bike and my car being downtown at the same time, I would have been wiser to answer, “Yep.”

3. “Putting it on the rack, huh?” OK, that really is in “You guys playing cards?” territory. But given the parade of personality types we all encounter, I have no problem with a friendly person making inane small talk.  And when the questioner accepts a simple smile as an answer, it's all good.

Our airport: Pros and cons

Pro: It's not a dehumanizing labyrinth.

Con: The number of cities served by nonstop flights from here is quite limited. (Though that's more a reflection of our modest population and remote geography than it is a valid criticism of the airport.)

Pro: Most of the employees.

Con: A few of the employees.

Pro: The parking meters. (Sure, they devour quarters. But it is a stunning convenience.)

Con: The way people here crowd up next to the baggage carrousels. (Though, again, is that really the fault of the airport? Maybe they could post signs that more sharply rebuke those afflicted with this moronic tendency.)

Pro: You don't really have to fight hellacious traffic on the way there, so you're not all stressed out before you even arrive at the airport.

Con: Some of us miss the polar bear. 

The legend of Forbes Kennedy

Forbes Kennedy played for about half a dozen National Hockey League teams and at least that many minor league teams in his storied if not especially productive career.

He spent the 1960-61 season with the Spokane Comets. He registered a team-high 165 penalty minutes that season. 

He wasn't big, but he was fearless. And slightly unhinged.

Once when I was first watching “Hockey Night in Canada” as a kid, I saw him head-butt a guy during a fight and then do that “Who, me?” look when everyone went ape. Cracked me up.

Hockey apologists called him “gritty” or a “feisty sparkplug.”

According to something I read before posting this, his last NHL game was highlighted by him punching a linesman.  

An upbeat observation for Monday a.m.

The problem with spotting urban wildlife is that about two seconds after delighting in the moment, any reasonable person has to wonder how long it will be before the animal gets hit by a car.

But maybe there's an exception. It's not unusual to spot wild turkeys inside the city limits of Spokane. Yet I don't recall ever seeing one dead in the road.

Whatever they're doing to avoid that fate, here's hoping they keep it up.

Knock on wood.   

Readers’ favorite movies with ice-skating

Dana Freeborn mentioned 1961's “Snow White and the Three Stooges,” 1970's “Love Story,” 1983's “Curtains,” 1996's “Happy Gilmore,” and 2005's “King Kong.”

And Kristi Kurle wrote, “I think girls will say 'Ice Castles' and guys will say 'Miracle on Ice,' but my favorite is 'The Cutting Edge.'” 

Our last old pop ads of the summer

Actually, June got that way by drinking water.

Sadly, Steve never won an award for modesty.

Nothing gets Sprite up on its feet like booze.

Understandably, men feared Peggy.

Noreen eventually grew tired of the Jerry Lewis way Dwight positioned his feet .

Moments later, this randy horseplay led to a chipped tooth.

The short-order guys dug Nancy's snazzy one-piece.

Our last old beer ads of the summer

This is also how she got her preschoolers to take a nap.

That's his, uh, niece. Yeah, his niece. All perfectly innocent.

Sally is happy because “Mr. Grabby” is now at the bottom of the lake.

Susan secretly hated George's pipe.

Let's drink a lot of beer and then go on the rides!

Advice re: Seasonal startle syndrome

Actually, it might be too late.

You might already have gone to grab a light jacket. And, upon opening a closet that hasn't been accessed much since spring, you saw not only windbreakers and such but also the Big Berthas. You know, the coats you haul out in January or whenever there is a need to wear something with the approximate thickness of a mattress.

This sight jolts some people. It reminds them that not only does summer not last forever but you-know-what is coming.

Silly? Sure. Most of us survive winter, year after year. Deal with it. Right?

But it's also true that many of us know and love at least a few winter wimps.

So if you happen to live with someone who is a bit timid, shall we say, about the seaon that follows fall, here's what you need to do: Make sure the light jackets are not in the same place as the survival-wear. That way, even the biggest frost-o-phobic can reach for something to put on when there's a slight nip without having to confront the cold hard facts of the calendar.

Of course, this jackets/coats segregation is not always easy to accomplish. Some of us, after all, don't have adequate closet space. But that's a problem for another day.

Nothing against community journalism

But there's a good chance that people working on their own have never gotten a look like this when their work was shoddy or inadequate. And a look like that does tend to make one resolve to do better.

The top-rated TV show 40 years ago

If audiences were encountering Archie Bunker for the first time today, he would be considered…

A) A centrist. B) The voice of reason. C) As ignorant and bigoted as he was seen to be in 1971. D) An obvious fan of certain radio shows and one particular TV news network. E) A retro-look fashion trendsetter. F) A role model. G) Dangerously willing to compromise. H) An old softy who was far from enlightened but really didn't have it in his heart to hate anybody. I) Other.

Just wondering

I have never been in the Southern Hemisphere. But I've always wondered. How readily apparent is it, even to a purely novice star-gazer, that the night sky is different down there?

Slice answer

“I think one of the worst things about a place where you can eat lunch at your desk is the smell of the other guy's lunch,” wrote an accountant named Jeannie.

A brief thank-you note to PBS

About 20 years ago, I watched two multi-episode documentaries on public television that I continue to appreciate to this day.

One was about the building of a skyscraper in New York City, One Worldwide Plaza. It introduced viewers to an architect named David Childs. In the years that followed, I would come across his name and think “Hey, I know that guy.”

Childs is the designer behind the tower going up at the 9/11 site. When I read his quotes or see him interviewed, I feel like I have some context in assessing the man.

The other series was about the development of the Boeing 777. Alan Mulally, then an executive with the airplane manufacturer, was prominent.

For several years now, he has been the CEO of Ford. And as the American auto industry has gone through its recent turmoil, he has been in the news right and left.

Again, because of the 777 series, he is not a stranger to me.

Thanks, PBS. 

If cycling-haters actually got on a bike

They might start out like this.

And wind up llike this.

Books in motion

“We had a set of encyclopedia (purchased from a door-to-door salesman when our oldest child was a baby),” wrote my friend Judy McKeehan.

Eventually the kids stopped using the set. But Judy's teacher husband, Mike, wanted them for his classroom.

“We live next door to the school he was teaching in so he decided that the easiest way to transport them to his classroom was to have the children in his class each pick up one and carry it to the classroom.

“So, with permission, he brought his kids here to collect them. He set up a route — down stairs, pick up a book, go through his study, loop through my art studio, go back upstairs, and return to school with a volume.

“Shortly after this efficient process began, he began to hear giggling from the students as they passed though my studio.”

How come? “I had a nude on the easel.”


“Mike had to prepare the principal for the possible phone calls. None came. Our theory is that the kids figured that if they didn't tell on us, they'd get invited back.”   

Never trust anyone over 50…

…who says this didn't make him or her cry.

Difference between Spokane and Europe

Why isn't cycling as common in Spokane as it is in many large European cities?

1. Spokane has hills.

2. We have sprawl.

3. Hard to talk on cell phone while riding a bike.

4. We're used to driving everywhere.

5. A fair number of people in Spokane embrace Orwellian attitudes about energy policy.

6. Europeans tend to be in a little better shape.

7. Corporate America has this thing called the National Football League that exists to sell beer and make sure everyone is aware of the need to have a new car.

8. Many Europeans don't stop riding bikes after childhood so they don't have to struggle as adults with the whole “My bike seat is not comfortable” thing.

9. Many in Spokane are unacquainted with the concept of useful exercise.

10. Spokane's weather.

11. Daycare.

12. Some in Spokane interpret the whole helmets thing as a sign that cycling must be incredibly dangerous.    

Asked and answered

Here's an actual question from a Slice reader.

“Who do you suppose is the most pissed-off person at KXLY right now?”

I don't know. 

20 years later people still hate this show

But I would argue that it featured some of the best-ever depictions of workplace stresses, strains and intrigues.

Best movie about high school football?

You make the call.

Extra points if you can identify the Spokane angle.

For those who live in apartments

Here's a question.

When it comes to the noise exchange with your wall-sharing neighbors, are you a net importer or exporter? 

Dreaming of Idaho

When you live here, it's easy to forget just how captivating our corner of the world can be to certain visitors.

I'll tell you what I mean.

Before I got there, the small daily newspaper in Arizona where I started work while still in college was part of the Hagadone media company for a short time. And it was during that period that the guy who would be my first boss, Art Coughanour, attended some sort of conference for Hagadone editors.

Those meetings were held in Coeur d'Alene. I don't think Art was ever the same.

To say that he fell for CdA would be a gross understatement. He talked about the town, the lake and the Northwesty surroundings the way some guys talk about women. The way some guys talk about shiny cars.

Remember how Cliff Clavin in “Cheers” found occasions to mention Florida? Well, Art was a really good guy and definitely not a bore. But given an opening, he would recall aloud his magical trip to Idaho.

Maybe he was blown away because he had grown up next to the border with Mexico.

Perhaps he had gone back to Arizona with visions of sailboats tacking in his head.

Or maybe Coeur d'Alene just does that to people.

Just wondering

Is there a secret to minimizing your exposure to individuals who clearly enjoy being angry and who feel alive only when they are hopped up on disdain?

The secret to any DIY project: Beer

Notice the pre-pulltab can in the ad above?

Hey, I gotcher hammer right here.

Slice answer

“There are two unpleasantries about eating lunch at my desk,” wrote Nancy Kiehn. “One is making my keyboard sticky. The other is not knowing who else has been using the keyboard, so you have to be really careful to not lick your fingers.”

Spokanites as imagined in Portland

What did I forget to include?

OK, it’s a week early

But let's go ahead and get this song stuck in our heads.

Just takes one line to do it. 

“Do you remember, the 21st night of September”

Things conservatives tell themselves

OK, let's say you live in Eastern Washington and you are a sports fan who happens be a conservative. How do you rationalize rooting for Seattle sports teams when that city is the home base of your in-state political opposition?

1. “I realize politics is pretty scorched Earth right now. But the sports world is exempt.”

2. “I don't think the people who root for the Mariners and the Seahawks over there are actually Democrats or so-called Progressives. I think left-leaning types are too busy trying on lycra cycling wear and being performance locavores to care about real sports. No, the people in Seattle who care about pro teams are good conservatives.”

3. “I'm rooting for sports teams, not for that city's misguided electoral leanings.”

4. “Hey, I'm perfectly capable of being fair-minded about this. It's West Side liberals' fault that the M's and Hawks suck.”

5. “Maybe it IS giving aid and comfort to the enemy. But I have been waiting for one of those teams to win a championship since I was 14.” 

What? There’s more to life than sports?

This 1970 cover simply confirmed what certain boys suspected at the time.

Slice answers

Thursday's print Slice will feature several readers' recollections of buying encyclopedia sets from door-to-door salesmen.

There's not a lot of sex or violence in these stories. But it is a small snapshot of American life before the Internet.

Here are a few to prime the pump.

In 1972, Toni Ratzlaff and her husband bought a set of Grolier encyclopedias from a guy who showed up at their door. They were thinking ahead to when they would have children.

“During the sales pitch, the salesman said that we could submit a letter to Grolier stating why we liked/bought the books and one such buyer would get their set free.”

Ratzlaff got creative with her entry, using the letters G-R-O-L-I-E-R as the starting points of her praises-singing. And she won.

Ray Blowers and his wife bought a Britannica set. “To sweeten the deal, they tossed in a set of childrens story books and an A-Z set of childrens science books. It seemed like a good deal at the time because we were expecting our third child. In the pre-Internet days of 1959, books were actually used as home reference sources.”

“My folks bought the Encyclopedia Britannica back in 1962 or '63,” wrote Jerry Birr. “Still have it around here somewhere.”

Caryn Alley was among the other readers from whom I heard about this. “You asked if anyone ever bought encyclopedias from a door-to-door salesman. Well, not only did we buy a set of World Book encyclopedias in 1979 — I STILL HAVE THEM!

“My children and grandchildren continually ask me why, when I can get all the info I need on the Internet. But you just never know when they might come in handy.”

Another Slice reader said he bought a set in part because the saleswoman was knee-bucklingly attractive. He did not elaborate. So I can't add any…

Dear Penthouse: I was bummed because my girlfriend had dumped me. So I had decided to ditch work one morning and was home watching TV in my bathrobe when the doorbell rang. I opened the door and the first thing I noticed was…         

Share your list

In what ballparks that no longer exist did you once watch games?

Here’s what I don’t understand

You know those people who have car-window decals featuring Calvin urinating on a truck brand or whatever? Sure. Well, here's what I don't get.

Clearly, if you would place that unauthorized image on your vehicle, you must hold the cartoon character in some regard. Right? But how do you reconcile that with the certainty that if “Calvin and Hobbes” creator Bill Watterson saw your bootleg bastardization of his character he would, unquestionably, assume that you are an irredeemable moron?

Brushes with obscure fame

OK, I'll start.

1) When I was about 12, I sent a letter to a guy who wrote columns for a physical fitness magazine published in York, Pennsylvania. I had a couple of questions about weight training. And even though I was just some dumb kid, John Grimek wrote back. I might still have his letter.

It wasn't until some time later that I realized Grimek had been a member of the U.S. Olympic weightlifting team at the historic 1936 Olympics in Berlin.

2) When I was in high school, I was in an informal springtime ball-hockey league with Dave Reece, who played goalie for the University of Vermont. We held our games on the grass at Ethan Allen Park in Burlington.

On Feb. 7, 1976, Reece would acquire a bit of unwanted fame when he was in the net for the Boston Bruins when Darryl Sittler of the Toronto Maple Leafs broke the NHL single-game scoring record by registering  six goals and four assists against him.

3) When I was in my late 20s, I once dined at a restaurant in Memphis where the waiter knew my date because they had mutual friends or something. I think he might have had a thing for her. Anyway, this guy, Chris Ellis, clearly hated being a waiter. And his presence there holding the menus sort of answered any questions one might have had about how his acting career was going.

I left a big tip. Not in a nice way.

But he stuck with it. And if you Google him, you would be mildly impressed by all the movies and TV shows he has been in. You don't know his name, but you might recognize him as Deke Slayton in “Apollo 13,” et cetera. He's really pretty good, I have to say.

OK, your turn. Remember, this isn't the place to tell about the time you parked Frank Sinatra's car. But if you were in an alegbra class in Butte with a guy who would one day be a member of the pop group Spanky and Our Gang, let's hear about it.

Still time to salvage the season

So you didn't accomplish all you wanted to this summer. Welcome to the club. But don't despair.

Between tonight's full moon and the official start of autumn on the 23rd, there are 10 whole days. A person in the right frame of mind can do a lot with that much time.

Here are some possibilities. 1. Lose one pound. 2. Write a blistering workplace memo and then delete it before sending. 3. Think up a self-improvement regimen you will start with the arrival of fall.

Once males were required to have…

…a favorite model year of the Chevrolet Corvette.

Who names that tune where you work?

I was across the street checking my box at the downtown post office when music coming from an area where postal employees work took me back to 1973. It was a song from an Allman Brothers album that several friends and I just about wore out that fall.

Anyway, it made me wonder. If music is part of the atmosphere where you work, who gets to decide what gets played?

A) The boss. B) We take turns. C) Employees wear headphones. D) One damn baby boomer or another. E) It's anarchy. F) Electoral college. G) Other.  

Difference between movies and reality

I asked Kim Papich, public information officer at the Spokane Regional Health District, what she thought was the most unrealistic aspect of the movie “Contagion.”

And after stressing that deadly contagious disease outbreaks can and do happen, she said the people in the movie were too good-looking to reflect the real world.

Borrowing a line from an old Bible movie

If you have been listening to someone complain for weeks and weeks about how it wasn't hot enough…

…and now that person is actually grousing that it is TOO hot…

Well, The Slice recommends trotting out a certain line from an old movie. It doesn't really make sense. But it's fun to say: “Where's your Messiah now?”

One sign you live in a jerkwater town

Everyone you know believes mass transportation is a Commie conspiracy.

That's seldom the case here in Spokane, of course. Right?

Wednesday is STA Rider Appreciation Day. Sure it's an obvious PR move coming days before some service reductions. But a few early riders will receive trinkets.

Can Elizabeth Bennet save the world?

For some of us, actress Jennifer Ehle will always be remembered for her performance as Elizabeth Bennet in that great 1995 British production of Jane Austen's “Pride and Prejudice.”

This is true even when she is playing a CDC scientist searching for a way to combat a virus that is…well, I won't give it away. But, no, Colin Firth is not in “Contagion.”  

Ten for the 10th

1. Did it seem like you couldn't drive half a mile in and around Spokane today without seeing a homemade “Turn here” sign for a wedding reception?

2. Does picking peaches at Green Bluff after most of the fruit already has been harvested remind you a little of an Easter egg hunt?

3. Do people who just saw “Contagion” seem to take an extra-long time washing their hands in the multiplex restroom?

4. Do those born on March 10 get a special kick out of that movie?

5. Ever noticed the currency displayed behind the cash register at Rancho Chico on North Division?

6. How often do people who operate a business or have a professional services office in their home find themselves having to make apologies for a previous client or customer's nightmarish bathroom visit.

7. If you have tried one of the supposedly old-formula Cokes from Mexico, could you tell the difference?

8. Will some typically popular bike-riding routes be all but abandoned Sunday morning because of Spokefest?

9. Are local Detroit Tigers fans (hey, there are more than you might guess) starting to mention this year's team in the same breath as the 1968 and 1984 Tigers?

10. Can you believe how listless the Spokane River is right now?  

Want to have a song stuck in your head?

The Slice recommends going to youtube or some music site and finding a good version of the infectious instrumental “Time is Tight,” by Booker T. & The M.G.'s. You won't be sorry.

They didn't think the race thing was a big deal. They just liked playing together.

If you haven’t been there in 23 years…

…can you still recommend a place?

I'm going to say “Yes.”

Suddenly I felt like an STA driver


On my way home from work this afternoon a ladybug landed on my bike and went for a ride.

I was not going fast. This was on an uphill stretch. Still, I wondered if this little guy was soon going to be far from home. Could he find his way back? Would it matter to him?

I decided against gently flicking him off the brake cable near my handlebar. And trying to lean over and blow on him while we were in motion didn't seem like a good prospect for either of us.

So along we went. I thought about a scene in a Warner Brothers Looney Tunes cartoon. You know the ones directed by Spokane-born Chuck Jones. A voice over a loudspeaker can be heard saying “Train leaving on track 5 for Anaheim, Azusa and Cuc..amonga.”

(I had to look up the exact wording after I got home.)

Anyway, it wasn't hard to determine that “bike leaving for Twenty-second, Twenty-third and Twen…ty-fourth” didn't have quite the same ring.

And then he flew away. Just like that.

Maybe he surprised his buddies by arriving early for some buggy gathering. “Oh, I caught the 3:30 Express.”

I didn't even get a chance to ask him if he needed a transfer. 

All-time least creative newspaper editor

At my first reporting job in Flagstaff, Ariz., I worked with a guy whose previous newspaper gig had been in sun-baked Yuma, Ariz.

He used to tell stories about a sports editor there who meant well but lacked a certain spark. One tale stayed with me.

Like in many businesses, newspaper people employ a fair amount of jargon. For intance, we refer to the text beneath a photo as a cutline. To the rest of the world, that would be a caption.

A small-format paper is called a tabloid or tab. Even traditionally configured newspapers such as the S-R often use a tab format for special sections devoted to topics such as golf or fishing. And, in-house, newsroom folks working on those annual or quarterly sections might refer to the “golf tab” or “fishing tab.”

Of course, on the front page of these sections, the finished-product label or main headline presented to readers would be something like “Loving the Links” or “Where They're Biting '08.”

Well, apparently there came a day where that editor in Yuma couldn't be bothered to try for something fancy. So here's the name he came up with for a special section on one of America's longtime participant sports: “Bowling Tab.”

Did you know?

This '70s fad was invented by Gary Dahl, a 1954 graduate of Spokane's Rogers High. Of course, he had long since moved to California before coming up with the pet rock.

Speaking of the praying mantis IV

“I noted a striking lack of plural construction in your piece devoted to the praying mantis (Thursday's Slice),” wrote Jill Carlson. “By design?”

I suppose so. To me, “praying mantises” looks like “praying mantiseseses.”

Moreover, some say “mantes” is the correct plural form. So I decided to punt. 

The origins of nicknames

Sometimes nicknames are acquired by accident.

At my first newspaper job right out of college, one of my fellow reporters was a nice guy named Rick Velotta. Well, once a typesetter made a mistake and his byline came out “Rock Velotta.”

Eventually, people stopped calling him “Rock.” But as I recall, it took awhile.

A few years later, after I had moved a couple of times, I was playing the board game “Risk” with some colleagues. One of the people playing was a fine fellow named Steve Sherretta. He was the business editor at the paper where we worked.

At some point, in the heat of game-playing, I called him “Stu.”

I have no idea why. He had never been called that in his life. And I didn't even know a Stu at that time.

But that one stuck. Steve became Stu. He didn't seem to mind, which was fortunate.

I have every confidence that those still in touch with him call him that to this day.  

In Friday’s print Slice

The column leads off with a fun, fair-related proposal put forward by my friend Liz Cox.

I think you might get a kick out of it.

Once, years ago, the S-R managed to misspell her name in a news story. That's always bad. But this occasion was truly awful.

In one of the more memorable typos I've seen, we spelled her first name “Lix.”


And this gracious woman is still willing to have dealings with the newspaper.

As you might know, I like to say “Let's move on.”

But in this case, her willingness to do exactly that sort of takes my breath away.

Anyway, be sure to check out Friday's Slice. 

Speaking of the praying mantis III

My colleague Pia Hallenberg, who didn't encounter these green giants in her native Denmark, told me she saw a praying mantis at the corner of Post and Sprague downtown. It was on a window of the Post Street Ale House but then flew to a nearby tree. “An urban praying mantis?” Pia wondered.

Sure. Here's how you can tell.

City praying mantis: Knows how to deal with panhandlers.

Country praying mantis: Can fix things.

City praying mantis: Doesn't pat his wallet pocket every 30 seconds.

Country praying mantis: Understands that there is no sense in complaining about the weather.

City praying mantis: Thinks that the while-driving cell phone ban is for other insects.

Country praying mantis: Is a proud snob when it comes to pie crust.

City praying mantis: Doesn't always vote for the Republican.

Country praying mantis: Doesn't think “Oh, some of that wood could make for splendid interior design accents” when seeing an old barn.

City praying mantis: Has kids in a soccer league.

Country praying mantis: Knows where food comes from.

City praying mantis: Wishes all the employees well, but won't really miss Cyrus O'Leary's.

Country praying mantis: Actually has good reasons for driving a pickup.

Baseball card blowout plus four

A reader politely asked, “What's with all the baseball cards?”

She didn't add, but I think it was implicit, “Are you TRYING to drive away female readers or men who don't care about sports trivia?”

No, not really. And after this batch, I intend to give it a rest. (I'm serious this time.) But here's the thing.

For certain baby boomer men (I'm raising my hand), old baseball cards are a stunningly powerful nostalgia trigger. They can evoke emotional recollections of a time when that stale bubble gum smell could block out any contemplation of, say, nuclear war. And who doesn't like the memory of feeling safe and happy?

Plus, I just love seeing that dozens of guys who played in Spokane made it to the major leagues, at least for a while. I love seeing “Spokane” right there on the cards.

Beyond that, I wonder if Steve Garvey ate at this or that restaurant or made it with a stewardess in the hotel across the street. Et cetera.

For me, seeing that Frank Howard or Maury Wills spent time here sort of connects my adult life to my childhood in a funny sort of way.

They might have been illiterate lunkheads for all I know. But once those guys were big blips on my radar.

But enough is enough, I suppose.

Speaking of the praying mantis II

Here's something written in the summer of 2008 by local poet R. Steven Heaps. It is called “Entomological Ingratitude.”

Say there, you artists,

playwrights and peers

who complain how your

works are reviewed.

Think again, if you will,

please pause, now be still;

I ask that you consider this:

provide here your pity, your

well-meaning prayers for

the ill-fated daddy mantis.

For whether his performance

is frail or robust

you might say he gets

doubly screwed

when his lady invariably

gives him her thanks

and he finds that his head

has been chewed.

The best-ever line about facing layoffs

In the 1987 movie “Broadcast News,” there's a scene where the head of a TV network's Washington, D.C., bureau emerges from his office with an employee he has just let go.

Hoping to strike a conciliatory tone, the bureau chief says “Now if there's anything I can do…”

And the older guy who has just lost his job says, “Well, I certainly hope you'll die soon.”   

Speaking of the praying mantis

Jim Magnuson, who counts on the big insects to eat mites and aphids in his greenhouse, told me something I didn't know. Watermill Winery, south of Walla Walla, has produced a varietal called “Praying Mantis Syrah.”  

Here’s my theory

If a girl had more than a hundred wedding dresses for her Barbie, the realities of married life were going to be a disappointment to her when she grew up and wed and eventually divorced her real-life Ken.

One way in which Spokane is perfect

Shade makes a difference here.

It's our shared summertime gift.

Sure, people sing its praises everywhere. But in some parts of the country hot weather is so sticky that simply getting out of the sun isn't synonymous with real relief.

And, yes, there are places even drier than Spokane. But they tend to be pizza ovens, and escaping the direct sun is just half the battle.

Spokane, however, is practically perfect. Even when it's truly toasty, shade is a refuge.

Sometimes it almost seems to beckon, as if saying “Come over here, it will be better.”

And each and every time, it is.

Let us give thanks.

Who knows how sweet summer can be here? The shadow knows. 

True or false

I know you can glean the answer by clicking on the image or going to the website. But try to answer this just from looking.

True or false: This once was the football helmet design used by the University of Montana.

Final baseball card blowout

All these onetime major leaguers played in Spokane.

(Even added to the many cards I've posted before, this is in no way comprehensive. You didn't really think I was done with this forever, did you?)

Slice answer

Ever have a job for which you were supremely ill-suited?

“In '59, I was drafted, and the Army sent me to a 16-piece post band 30 miles northeast of Barstow, Calif.,” wrote Bob Briggs. “The band wanted to play baseball in the base league, and there were just enough players because two of us had never played and knew almost nothing about it.

“However, the league also required each team to supply two non-members to umpire other games. So the two of us had to officiate a tank battalion game.

“That evening while I was calling balls and strikes by guessing, the men started looking at me with bewilderment. I finally had to explain that I knew nothing about baseball and that my C.O. had ordered us to do it.

“Fortunately, the men's attitude changed, and they agreed to play the rest of the game just for the fun of it.

“Later in the game, I had to call a home plate slide-in and tag. The dust cloud was so thick that when I finally called it, several members of both teams were rolling on the ground laughing.

“I was so thankful that those tank guys were so understanding. The next day, the league said that the band could play without sending umpires.”

Just wondering

I was thinking about the long-gone Calgary Steakhouse and its onetime connection to national restaurant figure Del Frisco, who had local ties.

And I got to wondering. Who around here comes closest to having an encyclopedic recollection of Spokane restaurants that no longer exist?    

Looking ahead to Thursday

I'll send a coveted reporter's notebook to the first reader who can identify the line from “Mystery Science Theater 3000” that comes to mind when reading the lead-off item in tomorrow's print Slice column.

Yes, he played in Spokane

Did you notice the town listed as his home? Interesting spelling. 

Check out his fun-factoid box

And here's yet another of the many, many guys who played in Spokane and made it to the majors.

Homecoming, Tuesday afternoon

A white haired couple sitting on a South Hill front porch with a black and brown dog watched as a car pulled into the driveway.

They kept looking as a woman got out of the driver's side. Then a little girl emerged from the passenger side and went around the car toward the front of the house.

The dog, a medium-sized mixed breed (I'm guessing) saw the little girl and bolted off the porch. (Maybe the older couple released it.) The pet was going so fast, I thought it was going to knock the kid over. But just as the dog reached her it pulled up and refocused its energy on circling, shimmying, tail-wagging and jumping up to greet the returning student.

The little girl absent-mindedly put her hand down to pat the pooch, like I suspect she has done countless times before.

But this afternoon wasn't just any old day. This was the first day of school.

Dogs can't talk, of course. But maybe that's because sometimes they don't need to.

The little girl was home and now everything was all right again.

Way back before he was a fixture on TV

I was thinking about some colleagues who will be leaving the newspaper in the next few months and recalled the “Retirement Party” routine on this album. I wonder if anyone else remembers it.

Just wondering

How long would it take you to provide a guided tour of your scars?

When does fall really start around here?

A) When the raccoons wave goodbye to the last family closing up a lake place for the season. B) Tuesday and the first grade-schooler “stomachache.” C) When at least a few of the people wearing sweaters aren't complaining about being too warm. D) When the Halloween stuff goes on sale for 2012. E) When the Spokane County Interstellar Fair is over. F) Autumnal equinox. F) When end-of-the-world snow tire commercials start appearing. G) When the first person ignores the city's annual request that homeowners not rake leaves into the street. H) When the first co-worker of several guys obsessed with their NFL fantasy league teams rolls her eyes, sighs and mutters “Oh, for the love of…”  I) When a Spokane TV news anchor first trots out that tired old suggestion that the only reasonable way to view the approach of winter is to be an annoying crybaby.  J) Skiers start to get on your nerves. K) When you have your first flu-shot conversation with someone who spends a lot of time on web sites catering to paranoid morons. L) The first time you think about maybe wearing gloves. M) When we reset the clocks. N) When there's a Slice item about the American arrogance of calling the World Series “the World Series.” O) When you start dreading Thanksgiving. P) When a few movies for adults start showing up. Q) The first debate about celebrating Columbus Day. R) When the first transplanted foliage snob pipes up. S) When seasonal beers that look and taste like something drained from a crankcase start showing up. T) With the arrival of the big Jewish holidays. U) Someone proclaims the WSU or UW  football season “a rebuilding year.” V) Your dog stops shedding. W) Stacks of firewood start appearing. X) When the first Spokane teenager wears shorts on a cold day. Y) When someone critiques the way you eat a caramel apple. Z) Other. 

Maybe just a little late for this summer

Like about 40 or 50 years too late.

Re: The perceived length of summer

I've been conducting an exhaustive survey (talking to a couple of grocery cashiers) about this. And we have arrived at a consensus about the following points.

1. Yes, of course, it seemed as if the season lasted forever when we were kids.

2. Yes, once you get older, summer goes by in a blink.

3. Because their lives are so different in countless ways (communications technology, structured and scheduled activities, near-constant supervision, etc.), children today may never experience that sense of endless summer that once was the norm. 

4. The more aware you are of the time of day (as adults and high-tech kids tend to be) — and the more moments during a day that you know the exact time — the faster entire seasons seem to zip by.

One thing cyclist-haters seldom realize

Is the fact that, when it comes to despising problem-causing bike riders, they can't hold a candle to cyclists themselves.

Trust me. Nobody gets more ticked off by boneheaded bike riders than cyclists who try to do the right thing but know full well that it's the chowderheads on two wheels that motorists remember. 

Stuff my mother says

“Have you ever been to that Pig in the Park?”

He played in Great Falls and Spokane

Another guy I can't remember, even though this was back when I was really, really paying attention.

Turns out the key to camping is beer

Help me list the troubling aspects here

1. Those Cruella DeVille hands are flat out scary. 2. Is she about to, uh, impale the older gentleman in the groinal region? 3. Why does her cleavage line go straight for a bit and then veer off? 4. Is she planning on making a long-term career of newspapering? 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10.

Here’s a Labor Day serving suggestion

Treet was sort of like Spam. Spam, in case you don't know, was sort of like food.

Surely you remember big Frank Howard

Yes, but don't call me Shirley.

Not a gratuitous pic of attractive actress

Oh, no. This is The Slice Blog's way of saying Happy Centennial to Metaline Falls.

Odd but true

There are people living here who don't realize that the Riverfront Park clock tower wasn't always just standing there by itself.

Local angle

It sometimes seems as if you can't pick up a TV remote without happening onto a “Frasier” rerun. Which is fine. It was a good show. Most of the time.

And, of course, it's always fun to note the occasional references to Spokane.

I could swear one of my colleagues wrote a fun story detailing the various Lilac City mentions back when the sitcom came to an end in 2004. But for some reason, I can't find it this morning.

So if you have a list, I'd love to see it.

I was watching an episode the other night where Frasier's dad, Martin, is talking to his girlfriend. She had been away, visiting her mother in Spokane. Martin asks her how the weather was. And she replies that it rained the whole time she was there.

Oh, well. “Frasier” never claimed to be a reality show. 

Songs rewritten for Pig Out in the Park

“The Rain, Pig Out in the Park, and Other Things”

“Itchycoo Pig Out in the Park”

“Palisades Pig Out in the Park”

“Cherry Hill Pig Out in the Park”

“MacArthur Pig Out in the Park”

“Saturday in the Pig Out in the Park”

“There Used to be a Pig Out in the Park”

“A Walk in the Pig Out in the Park”

“4th of July, Asbury Pig Out in the Park (Sandy)” 

Today’s reason to hate Seattle

A national survey conducted by an insurance company indicates Seattle's drivers are lousy.

Who cares? I know. But wait. You'll love this paragraph in a report on the survey written by a comedy stylist at

“It's not that Washington doesn't have safe drivers. Motorists in Spokane do well as they steer around livestock and tumbleweeds in the road.”

You know, like the tumbleweeds rolling past the building where the Seattle P-I used to be an actual newspaper.


Please feel free to butt heads with me

But here's something I wrote for The Slice column appearing Oct. 19, 1999.

“Iowa, West Virginia and Texas have the best-looking helmets in college football.”

On this date at Expo ‘74

According to the list I consult, Mr. Merle Haggard performed.

I didn't see that concert. But I once saw him do a midday show at an outdoor venue on a summer afternoon so hot one member of the audience had to be hauled away on a stretcher.

But the weather didn't faze Merle. A true pro.

If you had a do-over

You might have heard about how the people in charge of the DC Comics universe have decided to reinvent the storylines of its stable of superheroes.

Yeah, whatever. But what if you could do that with your own life? Now THAT would be interesting. What if you could rescript your own story?

A lot of that would involve intensely personal stuff. So I'm not really expecting you to share it. Still, it's something to consider.

Of course, I suppose we would have to be mindful of that old sci-fi admonition re: time travel. You know, be careful about changing one thing in the past because the ripple effects could have unforeseen consequences. Do away with something bad and maybe you will create a chain-reaction that negates many wonderful, happy things in your life.

Still, just from a personal perspective, I don't see how it would hurt if I went back and opted for a less ridiculous hair style in the '70s. 

Even before flipping the calendar page

There was another clue about seasonal transition.

Have you been turning your porch light on earlier and switching it off later?

“Bark, the Herald Angels Sing”

That's from reader Cathy McCoy.

To see the rest of The Slice's titles-tweaking salute to the dog days of summer, check out today's column. My contributors got good wood on this one.


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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.

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