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The Slice

Archive for August 2012

The last day of August, 2012

I couldn't tell you how many lemonade stands I have passed on my way home from work this summer.

More than a few.

Sure, I wish them well. It's a seasonal classic, after all. And I'm all for job creation.

Now I suspect the product offered at 99 out of 100 of these play-businesses is fine. But I'll admit I worry about that one stand that might be guilty of serious health code violations. So I pass them by.

Today, though, after riding past one at 37th and Sky View (across from Hart Field), it hit me that this is the last day of August. Who knows how much longer lemonade stands are going to be available this year.

So I turned my bike around.

It was a three-girl operation. Two held signs out by 37th. And one staffed the table on a grass strip dividing Sky View.

I don't know how old they were. But they were courteous and appreciative.

I paid a buck for a 50-cent glass of lemonade that was not awful.

I waved away my change and was rewarded with an “Awesome!”

Nothing about the kid, the lemonade jug or the cup seemed alarming. And as you can see, I lived to tell about it.

Boy, this summer sure has gone by fast.

“Pig Out in the Park” anagrams

Slice readers offered these in late August of 2003.

Up That Pig Oinker — Gordon Hensley

Take'r In, Hippo Gut — James Dodds

True, I Pat Pink Hog — Sandra Bancroft-Billings

Petition Park Hug — Terry Hontz

That U Porking Pie? — Connie Castle

Were you there?

For the NFL preseason game between the Patriots and Broncos played in Spokane on this date in 1974.

How often do you honk your horn?

Spokane used to have a reputation as a place where people were pretty polite when it came to using their car horns.

I'm not sure local drivers are quite so restrained these days. But how about you?

What does it take to get you to really blast your horn? (I am not referring here to the gentle tap on the horn when the driver ahead of you has gone 10 seconds without acknowledging that the light has turned green.)

A) I'll do it to prevent a collision. B) I'll do it to startle a cyclist. C) I'll do it to punish another driver for the slightest encroachment on what I consider to be my space. D) I'll do it to register my agreement or displeasure with a bumper sticker. E) I'll do it as a random brainless affirmation of virility or inebriation. F) Other. 

This date in Slice history (1995)

The answer was “No”: Judy Ellis has a grandson, Derek, who must have thought that there's only one reason women check into the hospital. Because when she called her son's house from there and found herself talking to Derek, he had one question. “Did you get a baby yet?”

Another reporter learns the facts of life

If Perry is killing the story, what's with the headline type?

When a sandwich starts coming apart

What do you do?

A) Try to restore structural integrity with additional pickle slices. B) Eat faster. C) Admit that it's only going to get worse. Get out a knife and fork. D) Apply pressure to turn the gloppy mess into a ball o' food and try to eat it that way. E) Remind yourself not to use a collective pint of condiments next time. F) Were 14 juicy tomato slices too many? G) There's really nothing you can do because if you loosen your grip even slightly with either hand, it's all over. H) Other.

How should you feel about yourself…

…when you are in a parking lot heading toward the store and volunteer to take someone's shopping cart back?

A) It's nice but it won't save the polar ice caps. B) Every little gesture of consideration helps stave off total, universal social alienation. C) You should feel OK, because maybe you are starting one of those kindness chain-reactions. D) Get real. Those chain-reactions happen only in TV commercials. E) The mere fact that you would like to have a positive self-image is a good sign. F) Other. 

Are you a gracious football-pool winner?

Here are three signs that you are not.

1) You yell “Boo-yah, that's what I'm talking about! Read it and weep losers!”

2) You do an in-the-office victory dance that resembles Elaine's dancing in that one episode of “Seinfeld.”

3) You cackle.

“Turn your head and cough”

Looking back on it now, those physicals we got before we could take part in high school sports were not really all that thorough.

Did a seating chart shape your future?

There are those who might not have met people destined to become important in their lives if not for a teacher's alphabetized desk assignments.

This date in Slice history (1997)

Today's Slice question: College football season brings out the worst in graduates of what Northwest university?

Heartwarming scene or total creepout?

You make the call.

I won't insult you by providing any actual information about this. You saw it. And there's no forgetting it.

Is there a TV show…

…that people keep recommending and still you haven't seen even five minutes of one episode?

Art vs. artist

If you regard Ted Nugent as an irrelevant has-been clown or addled cretin, are you still able to acknowledge that this was quite a record?

Readers weigh in on the S-R Lite

I had asked readers to share their nicknames for the Monday paper, which tends to be a tad thin.

A few of those answers appear in today's print column.

But here are some additional responses.

“I call it the daily wipe,” wrote Alan Howard.

Carol Bending wrote, “We send our black Lab, Libby, to 'get the paper' every morning, but on Monday it's 'not the paper.'”

So what is it?

“I refer to the Monday edition of the paper as kindling,” wrote Lois Farnsworth-Whysong.

Maureen Shogan wrote, “As I bent down to retrieve Monday's edition, I thought to myself, 'Won't cover a bird cage tray.'”

Speaking of birds, Rex Reed wrote, “We call our Monday edition of the SR the 'Thank God we have only one bird edition.'”

Both Trudy Rux and Shirl Foien said they would call the Monday paper “Why bother?”

Don Harding said that at his house they call it the “Gillette,” because it's as thin as a razor blade.

Irene Silverman suggested “Slim pickens.”

“News page,” said Bill Mahaney.

When Tina Wynecoop's husband, Judge, collects the Monday paper he cheerfully says, “Oh, a little note from The Spokesman-Review.”

C.R. Marquardt said it could be called The Spokane Press. “I delivered it in the '30s, it was always a few pages.”

Others spoke of the Monday paper as a rip-off of subscribers, a welcome break for the carrier after dealing with Sunday papers the previous day, being the “almost paper,” and signalling that the S-R was “Going, going…gone.”

Mary Brown called it “A complete waste of my time.”

Another reader called it “The Nothing New-s.”

Colville's Lan Hellie said his issue is with Wednesday's paper because that's the one day there isn't a Slice column in print.

But that's a different subject.

Better days

Not the smoking, of course. Well, you know what I mean. 

The Wednesday Slice

My back-to-school wish for Spokane area students is that none of them start the year the way I did in 10th grade.

You see, it's hard to make a good impression at a new school when you keep worrying that you might explode.

Here's the story.

My family had just moved to a new town. But our house was not going to be ready for us before the start of school. So my mother and I spent the end of August and early September in a rustic rental cabin on Lake Champlain in Vermont. (My dad was wrapping things up back where we used to live, and my older brother and sister had already flown the coop.)

My mother had doubts about the purity of the lake water coming from the cabin's faucets. So we boiled it.

Eventually that got to be unmanageable. So we started buying jugs of water from the grocery.

We didn't know, of course, that the store-bought water was contaminated. We wouldn't realize that until we saw a brief story in the newspaper about a product recall. I can't remember if the problem was one of the lesser strains of E. coli or what. But I can recall with vivid clarity how it made me feel during my first few days of high school.

As you may know, diarrhea occurs in varying degrees of intensity.

There's bad, really bad and surreal.

I experienced that last version. For several days, I staggered through the halls of Burlington High School with a NASA-like countdown ominously droning in my head.


I don't want to go into too much detail here. So let's just say that I damn near achieved liftoff a time or two.

But it could have been so much worse. I might have become a legend, and I don't mean in a good way.

As it happens, I always made it to a restroom in time. I had to get up and walk stiff-legged out of class on several occasions — waving away the objections of teachers who failed to grasp the gravity of the situation. But I always made it to the facilities before anything truly unfortunate took place.

Some 42 years later, I still gave thanks for that.

My mother did not experience the same symptoms because the water she consumed got cooked, whether in coffee or whatever.

On the other hand, I was tossing back tall glasses of made-from-concentrate orange juice as if I was under the citrusy spell of Anita Bryant.

“High in Vitamin C and loaded with unfriendly bacteria! Enjoy some today!”

“A day without contaminated water is like a day without panic sweat!”

Some time later, when my brother heard about my gastro-intestinal misadventures, I thought he was the one who was going to bust a gut.

I will say the whole experience made being a high school sophomore a bit easier. I mean, once you have contemplated going off like Krakatoa right in the middle of third-period biology, garden variety teenage anxieties can seem pretty tame.

Saying something dumb to a girl I liked or forgetting my locker combination wasn't all that horrible compared to the very real possibility that I could have become known as the jet-propelled underclassman, Volcano Boy, Erupto, or the Human Effluent Incident.

I could just imagine my parents reacting to my announcement that we had to move.

“What? We just got here. How bad could it have been?”

“They had to close that floor and send in a Hazmat team.”

Alas, I got lucky. I'm sure I startled and perhaps damaged the hearing of some other boys in the restrooms. But let's say no more about it.

Here's hoping every kid going back to school in a few days has the luxury of focusing on just the usual stuff and not whether his or her digestive rumblings will prompt classmates to sprint for the homeroom door, yelling “He's gonna blow!”

If you attend or work at a school and happen in the coming days to see some tormented Edvard Munchian soul stumbling toward a restroom, try not to judge that person harshly. Just step aside.

Sure, it's unlikely that you are witnessing a repeat of the cruel fate that befell me in 1970.

But why take a chance?

Which kind of person are you?

Are you someone who often hears “You'll be sorry”?

Or are you a person who says that to others?

No. 1 song on this date in 1982

You see, there used to be this TV channel called MTV. And videos for some songs got played every 15 minutes.

Stormy names run in this family

“My granddaughter Katrina and I were visiting in North Dakota when (hurricane) Katrina hit New Orleans seven years ago,” wrote Betty Hanson. “She got a lot of static from people when they heard her name.”

Katrina is now married. She gave birth to a baby boy in May.

“His name is Isaac.”

Just wondering

Is Missoula's Hellgate High School the best-named center of learning in the United States?

Hey, her face isn’t down there

Here's another possible movie pick for this coming weekend. It's “Norma Rae,” of course.

How do you feel about Sally Field? Do you really, really like her?

I guess I do, because I remember thinking ages ago that she could do better than Burt Reynolds.

Just read that she is going to play Abraham Lincoln's troubled wife in a movie spun from Doris Kearns Goodwin's great “Team of Rivals.”

Put this on your depth chart

“College football is a sport that bears the same relation to education that bullfighting does to agriculture.” — Elbert Hubbard

How many origins do you recognize?

I have appointed myself athletic director at Spokane's dear old Thompson High School. My first move was to draw up a 2012 football schedule featuring high schools from TV, the movies, comic books and a comic strip.

It's unrealistically long. But that's OK. See how many of these opponents ring a bell.

at Smallville

at Riverdale

vs. Walt Whitman

at James Buchanan

vs. William Mckinley

vs. Carver

vs. Twin Peaks

at West Beverly Hills

vs. Ampipe

at Milford

vs. Lee

at Hoover

Re: “Blame a Debbie Day”

Heard from a reader named George whose birthday is today.

His wife's name is Debbie. But George said he does not blame her for the fact he is getting older.

With that in mind, he suggested The Slice move “Blame a Debbie Day” to another date.

He said he would be happy to blame her for a wide variety of things on virutally any other day.  

Here in Nearly Perfectville

“Your story about the bolted flower pot prompted me to write,” wrote Si Bates.

“A friend of mine told me about having a minor abundance of vegies from their garden. They put the fruits of their labor on a lawn chair with a 'FREE' sign attached. Someone came by, dumped the vegies on the ground and took the chair.”

Impure thoughts

You might have noticed that Heart is going to be playing here soon.

And so I have a question for my heterosexual male readers of a certain age.

For you, did either of the Wilson sisters inspire certain time-honored stirrings?

This date in Slice history (1996)

Today's Slice question: What resident of either Spokane or Coeur d'Alene has gone the longest time without visiting the other city?

When you mishear the police scanner

“Possible illegal burn” can sound a lot like “possible illegal bird.”

But before you have time to nod in approval of a crackdown on smuggling exotic wildlife, you realize it's a case of someone setting fire to some trash.

Re: Passing along your old magazines

Here's an email I received Friday from reader Rob Harper, who lives in a rural county.

“I read with interest Gordon Hensley's comments in this morning's Slice and they compelled me to write to you.

“Several years ago I donated a box of old 'Outdoor Life' magazines to the library of the school where I teach. I thought the kids might enjoy the animal pictures and maybe even read the articles.

“A few months later I had a visit from a county sheriff's deputy. It seems that some of my old magazines ended up in an illegal dump site along a local highway. When the county cleaned it up they found my name and address on a couple of old magazines. The deputy even had a couple of pictures to show me and asked if I recognized any of the stuff in the photos. I answered truthfully that I didn't recognize any of the stuff and could not explain how my magazines ended up there. The deputy said that since there were at least three pieces of this debris with my name on them that I would be responsible for the clean-up cost.

“I shared this predicament in the faculty room the next day. One of my co-workers asked what sort of junk was in the photos so I told him what I remembered seeing. He jumped up and said, 'I think I know what happened.' He had recently hired several high school students to haul a bunch of junk to the dump for him; paying them in advance for their time, efforts, and dumping fees. But the students didn't go all the way to the dump. They dumped it in that illegal dump site and kept the money. A call to the sheriff's office by my co-worker cleared everything up and the students were cited for illegal dumping.

“Two months later I got a bill from the county for the clean-up costs anyways! It seems the deputy didn't follow through with the paperwork. After I called the county to complain I got a visit from the deputy where he personally apologized to me for the whole mess.

“So now when I donate old magaziness anywhere, I remove or block out my name and address.”  

“Was there a dinosaur out there?”

Having an astonishing variety of outdoors skills is one way.

Being the one person who never complains is another.

But when it comes to making yourself a legend during a camping trip, there's nothing quite like epic snoring. 

Spokane area felines named Katniss

How many do you suppose there are?

Re: Giving advice to newlyweds

Who most enjoys giving advice to newlyweds?

A) People who have had perfect marriages. B) People who think they have had perfect marriages. C) People who have been divorced more than once. D) People who want to share hard-earned insights. E) People who like to say “Plastics” even when the conversation is not about career paths. F) People who have never been married. G) People who sincerely believe that they have learned a few things since their wedding day. H) People who think tricks or tactics are the key to sharing your life with another. I) People who have been to counseling. J) People whose ideas about marital harmony mostly come from comedians appearing on “The Ed Sullivan Show.” K) Other.  

If it’s not bolted down

Chances are, you have heard cynics say that anything on your property that isn't bolted down will eventually be stolen.

Well, apparently even that particular security measure is not always adequate.

Just the other day, someone ripped a planter off a North Side friend's porch. And, yes, it had been bolted to a metal plate affixed to the porch. So yanking it free must have taken some doing.

Aren't people swell?

Do you remember…

…when girls used empty orange juice cans as hair curlers?

This is exactly like a baseball glove I had

It's a Rawlings Bob Cerv model. I think mine came from my significantly older brother's friend across the street, Bill. He was a good guy.

I knew my major-league baseball players when I was about 10. But Bob Cerv was a little before my time. And so I didn't even realize that his was an actual player's name. I thought it was some sporting goods marketer's play on words. You know, a stylized spelling of “curve.”

What a maroon I was.

Anyway, that glove saved my life a time or two.

In the “Star Trek” story line, warp speed will be invented in Montana a few decades from now.

But I am here to tell you that 1960s kids batting Super Balls and little green apples came close to making objects move faster than the speed of light. And that trusty old Bob Cerv proved to be a valuable shield more than once.

Do you remember your glove?

(If you are a female of a certain age who cannot fathom how I could possibly remember Bob Cerv's name, please consult a man about this. He will explain. But thanks for checking out my blog.)  

The problem with Fizzies

Sure there were the soon-to-be-banned artificial sweeteners. But the real problem was the stuff just didn't taste very good. It was like drinking weakly flavored Alka-Seltzer. Of course, the fizzing action was occasionally known to mesmerize children who lacked discerning palates.

Hair today, et cetera

So if it's really too late for a close-cropped summer haircut and too soon to be planning a winter beard, what is the appropriate hairy sign of the season right now?

Actresses Who Played Spokane Mothers

1. Elizabeth Montgomery. (Though it was a number of years after this “Bewitched” era photo.

Preseason Top 20 veterinary schools *

1. Washington State

2. Auburn

3. Pennsylvania

4. UC-Davis

5. Oregon State

6. Illinois

7. Minnesota

8. Michigan State

9. Georgia

10. LSU

11. Tufts

12. Cornell

13. Florida

14. Tennessee

15. Texas A&M

16. Oklahoma State

17. North Carolina State

18. Wisconsin

19. Missouri

20. Ohio State

* Based on The Slice Blog's desire to create/compile a list that has WSU at No. 1.  

Adapting a sports quote to real life

You might have heard that skeptical coach's assessment of passing in football.

“Three things can happen when you pass. Two of them are bad.”

Or something like that.

If I might digress for a moment, here's this:

Well, have you ever felt that way about answering a knock on your door when you didn't know who it is?

I have.

You certainly want to answer if it is a friend or a neighbor. Or someone who might need help. I don't even mind the occasional chat with a politician.

Of course, it's often some brand of disingenuous selling or outright lying. 

I suppose a case could be made for using the peephole as a screening device. But I wouldn't exactly feel like a man in full if the day came when I was reluctant to open my own front door in the middle of the day.

I'd revise that quote to make it read this way: “Ten things can happen when you answer the door. Nine of them are bad.” 

When did you last play kickball?

I keep reading that it is gaining popularity with adults.

“Back East” defined

I'm not altogether sold on including Michigan and Indiana. But for the sake of simplicity, how about if we agree that “Back East” refers to locales in the Eastern Time Zone? Not Minnesota. Not Kansas.

There are four-legged real estate agents

And soon they will be showing Inland Northwest lake places to various critters in the market for winter homes.

“This next cabin I'm going to show you has loads of charm.”

Ideas on possible back-to-school looks

“Honey, you could do your hair like a Fraggle.”

“Sure, Mom. Sounds great.”

When you know it’s not about Spokane

Or even Seattle. This magazine is about the other Washington.

Same deal with Washington Life.

Just suppose

Imagine you are on the board at a church that is a striking physical presence.

Because of its eye-catching looks, engaged couples occasionally inquire about getting married there even when they are not members of the congregation and have no intention of ever setting foot in the place after the wedding.

What would you want your church's policy to be?

A) Hell no. B) How much is the couple willing to cough up? C) How much are the parents willing to cough up? D) Other. 

Today’s online search suggestion

Try entering: “The Big Lebowski” “not a marmot”

Just like that. Both at the same time, quote marks included.

Leads to some valuable discussions and a fine reminder that some have a true gift for wasting time.  

Ever had your boss over for dinner?

I have been a full-time member of the work force since 1977, and I have been married since 1988. And I cannot remember a single time when the boss came over for dinner. Maybe it happened, though. Not all of my bosses have been as memorable as Larry Tate.

No. 1 song on this date in 1974

Hate is a strong word. It is used too freely. But I knew people who hated this song.

Wonder if any of the visiting male performers here for Expo '74 impregnated any Spokane girls while in town.

Unprintable words

I'll assume you are a fan of clean air. Who isn't?

And because Washington has a duct-tape tax structure, some things stop being a surprise.

But what word or words do you mutter when you remove a license plate-tab renewal form from its envelope and see “Emission Inspection Required”?

Movie lines new police chief can recycle

If the current Indiana resident presumed to be Spokane's new police chief gets tired of referring to planning security for a Super Bowl, he can always borrow a few lines from 1986's “Hoosiers.”

A few possibilities…

“I've seen you guys can shoot, but there's more to the game than shooting.”

“My practices aren't designed for your enjoyment.”

“I play, coach stays. He goes, I go.”

“Sun don't shine on the same dog's ass every day.”

“A man your age comes to a place like this, either he's running away from something or he has nowhere else to go.”

“I never met anybody who wanted to win as badly as I did.”

“I would hope you would support who we are. Not, who we are not.”

“Team, team, team — no one more important than the other.”

“We're way past big speech time.”

“Kick their butts.”

He was a manager of the Spokane Indians

Before that, Roy was a major league player. And after being here, he was the first manager of the expansion Blue Jays.

Spokane Hair in the 1960s Department

This gentleman is identified on the site as Tony Vance of Tony Vance and the RB Project, a Spokane band in 1966-67.

He's a nice-looking guy and all. But doesn't that big-hair look make you want to quote lines from “Planet of the Apes”?

Caption contest

I'll start.

“Bud, Pete and Charlie had never seen an Earth girl before.”

The Wednesday Slice question

If your neighborhood is infested with campaign signs for political candidates you sincerely believe to be repugnant, what goes through your mind as you survey this thicket of baffling (or not so baffling) front-yard endorsements on your way to and from home?

A) “I need to get my own signs.” B) “I am a stranger in a strange land.” C) “Democracy is swell.” D) “Why did we pick this area?” E) “Don't really care. Politics wouldn't even make my Top 20 when it comes to things I actually care about.” F) “I like being a nonconformist.” G) “Is there something in the water here?” H) “Thank God I live in an era when people don't actually know their neighbors.” I) “I need to remind my kids that moving away is a time-honored American tradition.” J) “To each his own.” K) “Maybe I need to go door-to-door around here and offer these benighted saps the benefit of my wisdom.”  L) Other.

This date in Slice history (1997)

Today's Slice question: Who holds the record for the most times leaving Spokane and then moving back?

When you hear a reference to Albania

Are you capable of NOT thinking of Coach in “Cheers”?

It borders on the Adriatic, you know.

Just what exactly is going on here?

And no, I'm not talking about the injury-suggesting drape of his golden trunks.

If you declared yourself a sovereign citizen

What laws or regulations would you decide to ignore?

Political leanings of Northwest colleges

So I was reading an obituary written about the actor William Windom. I always like to see if someone's appearance in “The Twilight Zone” will be mentioned. It was.

But the thing that caught my eye was the fact that the Citadel in South Carolina and Antioch in Ohio were among two of the colleges where Windom studied.

Talk about schools on opposite ends of the political/attitudinal spectrum.

Anyway, that made me wonder. If we restricted ourselves to colleges in the Northwest, what two institutions are most unlikely to show up on one student's academic record?

Maybe Reed or The Evergreen and a conservative church school? 


About a hundred years ago

Consider this your invitation to spend a few minutes at the website noted above.

Tuesday quiz

What person born in Idaho was friends with James Joyce?

Similarities between Great Falls, Spokane

My friend John Kafentzis passed along a list.

“Both have AFBs, small Catholic colleges and are the medical center for their region.

“Both used to have a major heavy manufacturer, Kaiser in Spokane, Anaconda in Great Falls.

“Both are farming hubs.

“Both have modest ski hills nearby that someone always has expansive dreams for.

“Both have disproportionate interest in figure skating and hockey.

“It is still major news in both places when a commercial air route is added.

“Feelings of civic inferiority periodically wash over both.

“Both are touted as great places to raise kids but not necessarily called that by kids.

“Spokane had Bing Crosby, Great Falls had Charlie Russell — both legends in their areas of artistic endeavor. (It is curious that nobody named a school around here after Bing.)

“Oh yeah, and both have breathtaking waterfalls.”

This date in Slice history (1999)

Potential catch phrases for a Spokane action/adventure hero:

1. “Does this hurt?”

2. “Well, OK then.”

3. “You're goin' to the lake, pal.”

4. “It's a little spendy.”

5. “Not from around here?”

6. “Great place to raise welts.”

7. “You'll love it here.”

8. “All you can eat, baby.”

9. “How about half off that?”

10. “Time to burn some grass.”

No. 1 song on this date in 1967

You want to talk about songs that absolutely drip summer? Here you go.

Back in June of 2010, I invited readers to leave me phone messages in which they sang the first part of this song. More than 70 brave souls took me up on it. I sent those snippets of singing to a former colleague, Andrew Zahler. He sliced and diced and turned them into a couple of highly entertaining audio files.

You can still listen to them. Here's how.

Go to this website's home page.

Enter “Ode to Billie Joe” in the search bar. (It's up high, over on the right.)

Then click on Audio Clips. There are two fun-filled collections you can play.

More than two years later, they still make me smile.

Just wondering

When you are watching an interview on television, how many times are you willing to allow the interview subject to cite his or her religious faith as an explanation for everything before you change the channel?  

Recalling Phyllis Diller in Spokane

The brash comedian, who has passed away at 95, performed in Spokane twice during the 1980s.

In September of 1981, she was the featured attraction when the Spokane Symphony opened its season.

She played some Beethoven and Bach on the piano, did a comedy routine and even sang a little.

In his review, the S-R's Travis Rivers had nothing but good things to say about her.

While here, she signed copies of her book — “The Joys of Aging & How To Avoid Them” — at The Crescent.

In August of 1987, Diller was back in Spokane to perform at the national convention of the Eagles lodge.

The headline on Tom Sowa's review read: “Diller gets Eagles off to flying start.”

If you were arrested and booked into jail

What look would go for in your mug shot?

A) I'm not really drunk. B) I'm not really high. C) This is all a big misunderstanding. D) Upbeat, confident. E) Well, this day has just turned out great. F) I might look wasted but I'm actually in complete command of my…what's that on my sleeve…GET IT OFF ME, MAN. G) Most likely to succeed. H) One day I'll laugh about this. I) Two shows nightly. J) Other.

One thing the print newspaper offers

You might have noticed that a lot of people enjoy expressing disdain.

These folks can't really blame anyone but themselves for their own web-surfing choices. But the daily newspaper offers a golden opportunity to register displeasure and engage in recreational complaining.

They can start their sputtering or mumbling with the front page: “Who cares about any of this?”

And from there it's page after page of potential targets for disdain. What could be more fun?

I'll have to see if our marketing folks can come up with a slogan reflecting this reader service.

There are two kinds of people

One would regard watching three entire seasons of “Mad Men” over the weekend as having been extremely productive.

The other kind would not.

A failure to communicate

Wondering what one of our neighbors was planning to build, I mentioned that “the kid” across the street had been using a power saw all day.

My wife was alarmed. She thought I was referring to that young man's preschool-age son.

Eventually, we got on the same page.

So far as I know, the little boy is not allowed to use the table saw.

When song lyrics do not reflect reality

Let's consider this passage from “Viva Las Vegas.”

“If I wind up broke

“Well, I'll always remember

“That I had a swingin' time”

Perhaps casino operators count on some segment of the population embracing that attitude. But really, how many people would have a carefree outlook on losing everything in a gambling binge? And how does one manage to have “a swingin' time” while flushing their liquid assets down the drain?

Elvisesque cavorting, maybe.

Still, it seems like the thing you would always remember is that once you threw away a bunch of money that could have made your life easier and less desperate.

But perhaps I am failing to get into the spirit of the song.

Next: “Freedom's just another word for 'nothing left to lose.'”

What’s the Spokane connection here?

This is from the original appearance of motivational speaker Matt Foley, as performed by the late Chris Farley in 1993.

And no, the local connection is not the fact that there occasionally are people living in a van down by the river.

First and 10

1. I'm sorry, the bike lanes downtown right next to streetside parking spaces make no sense to me.  

2. If some loud TV idiocy has been blaring at you in a medical waiting room, it could be that your subsequent blood-pressure reading will be artificially high.   

3. Understandable regard for nostalgia and lost innocence aside, does anyone watching 1998's “Pleasantville” actively root for the Big Brother forces of social conformity?

4. One entertaining aspect of sailing out of Bayview is wondering if the Navy is conducting experiments directly beneath you.

5. Honalee is not a Spokane Valley neigborhood.

6. Inconsiderate space hogs are the exception on the Fish Lake Trail.

7. Assuming you do not automatically loathe every last one of them, do you find that your favorite celebrities invariably turn out to be the ones capable of keeping at least a few things to themselves?

8. A couple of the biggest pumpkins I have ever seen are growing just a few blocks from my home. But that's all I feel at liberty to say. (I spoke to the guy growing them, and apparently these monsters are no accident.)

9. One thing about people at the office having fights with spouses/sig others via silent electronic communications (instead of over the phone) is that you no longer have the chance to quote .38 Special once they have stormed off to the restroom. You know, “You see it all around you…Good lovin' gone bad.”  

10. What must have been a large, well-fed bird dropped a rude comment on my Sunday paper early yesterday morning. The two-toned splotch was about the size of a peanutbutter jar lid. My wife took a picture and tweeted it. She immediately heard from a friend in Chicago who wondered if the bird was weighing in on the state of newspapers in 2012.

In any case, let's hear it for those plastic bags. Talk about a big save.

Another “Born in Spokane”

This is Jay Pickett. He is an actor.

According to the Internets, he was born in Spokane in 1961.

A theory

We aren't always in control of the circumstances, of course.

But I think some people put off retiring as long as possible because they do not look forward to being asked “How's retirement?” over and over. And over.

South from Alaska

Got a nice note from a new reader who recently moved here from Fairbanks, Alaska.

I welcomed him. Then I cordially invited him to get ready to chuckle at what many here regard as challenging winter weather.

I used to count on transplanted Montanans to snort and shake their heads when confronted with Spokane winter wimps. But, as I have theorized, I think a lot of them come here because they are actively escaping Montana winters. Either that or they move here and then get corrupted by our snowmageddon overreactions to inevitable seasonal circumstances.

So maybe this fellow from Alaska will be a good influence.

I don't know, though. He seems like a pretty nice guy. He'll probably just nod and say, “Yes, you're right. Technically, 29 degrees is below freezing, as you say.”

Just wondering

Before having corn on the cob, do you first make sure that you are not about to run out of dental floss?   

Not really a personalized pledge

But perhaps that is wise when dealing with a temptress.

Born in Spokane Department

Fenia Clizer, wife of journalist-turned-novelist Carl Hiaasen. And I'm sure she is a person in her own right. But that connection is how I stumbled onto her.

Ranking six Cameron Crowe movies

Why six? Because these are the ones I've seen.

6. “Elizabethtown.” An implausible mess.

5. “We Bought a Zoo.” Wasn't all terrible.

4. “Jerry Maguire.” Never really had me. There are lots of good moments. But a little Cuba Gooding Jr. goes a long way.

3. “Almost Famous.” Not sure it's really all that good, but I was interested in the subject matter.

2. “Singles.” Really liked this when I saw it 20 years ago.

1. “Say Anything.” John Cusack's performance is a wonder. Plus Spokane gets referenced.

One reason Westerns weren’t realistic

It would be hard to tell a story if half of the characters are incapable of talking about anything other than their dental pain.

Coming in Friday’s Slice column

Here's a hint. But it's not really about “The Mod Squad.” It's about marmots.

Born in Spokane Department

Artist Larry Collins, who lives in Provincetown, Mass., was born in Spokane in 1945.

This is not Ursula Hegi’s Trudi Montag

No, this is someone called Heidi Montag. Not sure what her claim to fame is. But I suspect it's not for being a literary character conceived in Spokane.

This used to be my favorite theater

Can't remember what it is now, if anything.

Not really sure why I liked the Lyons Avenue Cinema. It's not like it was a convenient location for me. Maybe I just had good luck with the movies I saw there.

A little farther north, my wife learned to drive a standard transmission almost 25 years ago in the parking lot of the then-thriving Newport multiplex. That, too, closed long ago.

One of the best magazine covers ever

Saying nothing said everything.

10 Spokane Chiefs whose names…

…would have made fine newspaper bylines:

Pat Falloon

Trevor Kidd

Jon Klemm

Drayson Bowman

Kerry Toporowski

Steve Junker

Link Gaetz

Jason LaBarbera

Paxton Schulte

Roman Tvrdon

This date in Slice history (1994)

Today's Slice question: How laughable are parents' ideas about choosing back-to-school clothes?

Listening choice of plumbers, painters

I have only a tiny sample to go on. So this is total generalization.

But my limited experience with having people listening to a radio while doing some work in or around the house suggests conservative talk is popular in the building/remodeling/household repair trades.

But maybe the next guy will listen to KYRS.

Who is Spokane’s Buddy Kane?

Buddy's sign says “Call me.” So I did.

Wanted to ask if he enjoyed his motel scene — in 1999's “American Beauty” — with Annette Bening.

But I reached a directory assistance service. It could be the 555 ensures that will happen, no matter what the other numbers.

Coming in Thursday’s Slice column

Woman in Spokane waiting room starts looking at a magazine and discovers it is 38 years old.

I love that sort of thing. If you don't, you will not be required to read the column.

Wednesday’s list

Every carpet stain tells a story.

But that's not the only song title we can tweak.

“Every Little Carpet Stain She Does is Magic.”

“Every Day is a Winding Carpet Stain.”

“Every Carpet Stain of My Heart.”

“Everybody Have Carpet Stain Tonight.”

“Every Carpet Stain Plays the Fool.”

“Every Carpet Stain Wants to Rule the World.”

“Every Day I Write the Carpet Stain.”

Overheard in the newsroom

“See? This is why we can't have nice things in Coeur d'Alene.”

The Wednesday Slice question

Today's Slice question: I don't know how it started. It was some sort of inside joke, but the origins elude me now. Must have been our shared mocking of some insanely angry behavior we had witnessed or heard about.

Anyway, years ago, I used to be able to make a former colleague laugh by giving her the finger from a block away when I caught sight of her downtown.

Of course, those who weren't in our little joke might have misunderstood. They could have wondered just what I had against that nice Kristina Johnson, the colleague in question.

This came to mind recently because of another humor styling.

When I'm slowly riding my bike up the South Hill after work, a friend who is an STA driver often pretends for a few seconds as if he is going to run into me head-on.

I get a kick out of this. And sometimes he manages to surprise me. (From a distance, I cannot tell that he is behind the wheel.)

But lately I have found myself wondering. What would this make-believe collision course look like to an onlooker?

“Did you see what that bus driver did? I'll bet he's drunk. That old guy on the bike is lucky to be alive.”

So here's the question.

Are you now or have you ever been part of an acted-out inside joke that almost certainly would be misinterpreted by the uninitiated? 

When tastes collide

There are people who believe that there must be something deeply wrong with you if you do not love, love, love the same awful TV shows, movies and books they do.

Some of these individuals might be at your family reunion.

There's no way to win with these folks. So don't try.

Just think about the how loved ones will silently thank you for showing restraint and kindness above and beyond the call. 

Today’s classic baseball card

This date in Slice history (1994)

Warm-up question: Who confronts misspellings more often, people whose last names start with “Mac” or “Mc,” or people whose names end in “sen” instead of “son”?

Sweating like porker and it’s 71 degrees

Just a few minutes after getting home this afternoon, a guy from our water-softening service rang the door bell.

His visit was expected.

I opened the door and welcomed him in.

We spoke for a minute and then he went downstairs and attended to the reason he stopped by.

But then I started to wonder. Does he think I am having a heart attack or something?

You see, I was drenched in sweat from my bike ride home. I had not had a chance to get in the shower.

So I looked like someone almost done in by the heat. Yet, inside the house the temperature was cool and pleasant.

Oh, well. He never did say anything.

If you make stops at people's homes during your work shift, you probably learn to not ask questions.

Can you remember in-flight smoking?

Does it seem incredible to you that it was ever OK?

You don't have to bash smokers to shake your head in wonder that the airlines seemed oblivious to the fact that a fair number of travelers had respiratory conditions.

And passengers today complain about crying babies.

Hey, kids! This is what FX used to be like

Can you identify this scene?

Maybe this is really more makeup than special effects. In any case, this was supposed to blow your mind 50 years ago. Would love to watch this with a kid and hear him crack up when this short-order cook takes off his hat.  

Would you get the reference…

If someone referred to the place where you grew up as “Anarene”?

What do you recall about pogo sticks?

A) I could never keep it going. B) We should have been wearing helmets. C) It was OK, if you enjoy hurtling out of control. D) My friends and I were too light to really make the spring work. E) It used to scare me when adults tried it. I just knew they were going to get hurt. F) Other.

Can you remember your first time?

Hearing your own voice played back on a tape recorder?

It tended to be a bit weird.

This date in Slice history (1999)

The in crowd: Ever noticed how people tend to describe those who share their recreational interests as neat or appealing?

“It's such a dynamic group!”

That always cracks us up. As if someone saying that about his fellow cyclists or stamp collectors isn't being nakedly self-congratulatory.

OK, we get it, That must mean YOU are unbelievably groovy, too.

Seven for the 7th

1. What's the biggest fair you have attended? (I have heard that those state fairs in the Midwest are unbelievably huge.) 

2. What percentage of your youth did you spend listening to Edgar Winter's “Frankenstein” (possibly against your will)? (Feel free to substitute “Bohemian Rhapsody,” “Paradise by the Dashboard Light,” “Free Bird” or some other seemingly 30-minute song.)

3. Would it disappoint you if college athletic scholarships were done away with?

4. Could you show a kid how to make a decent paper airplane?

5. Do you remember the name of someone with whom you danced in junior high?

6. What's the loudest airplane you have ever heard?

7. If you were a baseball team's manager, how frequently would you get thrown out of the game by umpires? 

Newspapers that no longer exist

This one came out for the last time on Aug. 7, 1981. 

Born in Spokane Department

Mikaela Hoover, born here in the summer of 1984. She is an actress.

I usually like to feature a photo with these. But most of the ones I found of this young lady are insufficiently modest.

Life on Mars invented by Spokane guy

That, of course, would be Marvin the Martian and born-here Chuck Jones.

Of course, Jones lived here for about half an hour. So calling him a “Spokane guy” is a stretch. But my blog, my rules.  

If they offered to end the Suicide Race

Would you pledge to go to Omak and spend money sometime in the next 12 months?

Perhaps you never heard of Paper-Man

Wily but boring.

Watch out, Wonder Woman! A spunky newspaper clipping is comin' at ya, babe! FRRRRAP!

If you root for Eastern Eagles football

Which game would you most like to see EWU win?

Aug. 30: at Idaho

Sept. 8: at WSU

Sept. 29: Montana

One great gospel music song title

“Everybody Talkin' About Heaven Ain't Going There”

What would you have done?

A cashier asked me if I wanted to hear an off-color story.

He might have said “joke.” But I think he said “story.”

“What?” I said.

He repeated the question.

Now, this cashier is a person I have dealt with many times. He seems sane. I like to think we enjoy a nice rapport.

I had no reason to suspect that the humor stylings in question would involve anything truly creepy. And I didn't want him to feel like I was judging him harshly for even suggesting it. 

So I said “Sure.”

The joke turned out to be pretty tame. Garden variety dirty-joke stuff. He was reminded of it by one of the food items I was purchasing. I was not offended.

What would you have said if asked if you wanted to hear an off-color joke?

The urge to edit curbside “Free” signs

Most of us don't walk around with magic markers in our pocket.

But sometimes that's too bad. Because every now and then you encounter a “Free” sign next to some curbside items that, in all honesty, can only be categorized as trash.

So there's a temptation to add “OBO” to the sign. The implication, of course, being that the people who put that stuff out really ought to pay someone to haul it away.

A note about today’s Slice question

The reader making the observation about commercials during broadcasts of the Olympics was not referring to political ads or Q6 promos.

I know you never shoplifted

Even though, to be sure, there were temptations when the allowance money ran out.

Chip Martin, college reporter

According to the fine website credited above, these were AT&T ads appearing in Boys Life magazine in the 1960s.

The whole thing is ludicrous on many levels. The idea of someone at Bell Labs talking about missile guidance technology to a reporter is almost breathtaking in its absurdity. That this was the height of the Cold War and the fact that young Mr. Martin represents the Franklin Tech News just adds layers to the delightful absurdity.

No. 1 song on this date in 1972

Annoying or oddly touching?

Do you recognize this object?

You do? Well, maybe you're still young at heart.

How carefully do you vet car washes?

You know, to determine if the cause or sponsoring organization is one you support.

You don't really need to interrogate the kids standing by the street and waving signs. A simple “What are you raising money for?” should suffice.

Most times, a car wash is just a car wash. The donations support band trips, someone in need or whatever. 

But it's better to ask first and not find yourself realizing after it's too late that the sudsy event is a fund-raiser for a group, church, project or club whose aims you either oppose or regard as damn foolishness.

This date in Slice history (1996)

Today's Slice question: What do you not miss about the Inland Northwest when you're away?

Recalling a Highland Games highlight

It happened about 20 years ago, when the event was at Riverfront Park.

There were a few sheep. And a fellow was demonstrating herding with the help of a border collie.

Suddenly a preschool boy started running toward the action. The dog turned and fixed the lad with a firm but nonthreatening gaze.

The little kid understood the border collie's instructions immediately. He froze in place. Then he retreated from the scene and the herding demonstration continued.

If you claimed to have been at Woodstock

How would people respond?

A) “What's Woodstock?” B) “That was in 1969. You hadn't been born yet.” C) “And life's long, winding road brought you to the counterculture mecca…Spokane, Washington?” D) “Well, a month before that, I walked on the moon.” E) “Still reeling from that bad acid, I see.” F) “Far out, you liar.” G) “You've never even been to the Festival at Sandpoint.” H) “Sure. That's theoretically possible.” I) “That would have been quite a drive from Ephrata.” J) “Let me just take a step back before your pants burst into flames.” K) Other.

Re: That Marmot Lodge meeting

Here's an email from reader Mark Augenstine.


“I thought that I was going to have to cancel my membership in the lodge because of the proposed tentatively scheduled meeting. Now that it has been postponed, I will in good conscience be able to retain my membership.

“However, if there is continued talk of having meetings, I will tender my resignation. So far it is the best club that I am a member of. No meetings, no obnoxious members, no dues. So please extend my membership until the talk of a meeting.”  

Before comment-section trolls…

There were Fire Trolls.

When I first saw this cover, I thought it was an illustration of a WSU frat party at 2 a.m. on a Sunday.

What did you think of Aquaman?

The Elvis deathiversary is approaching

It's Aug. 16. Still plenty of time to plan your observance.

When grandparents are a road menace

A grade school-aged boy I know is about to go visit his elderly grandparents in another state.

What could be nicer, right?

Well, there's a problem. His aunt has advised him not to ride in the car if both of the boy's grandparents are in the vehicle. It seems the old couple has a tendency snap at one another when they are out on the road.

“No, don't turn here!”

“Well, where in the hell am I supposed to turn?”

Et Cetera.

Anyway, the boy's aunt has suggested that — in this one particular context —her parents become so distracted by bickering that riding with them is not safe.

Fine. But what I would like to know is just what is this boy supposed to say?

“Sorry, Grandpa and Grandma. I'd like to go to church with you. But I have been advised by counsel that getting in the car with the two of you might be tantamount to signing my own death warrant.”

How's that supposed to work?

If you have any ideas, feel free to pass them along. I can relay them to the boy. 

Born in Spokane Department

Today's suggested search topic: Gale Page.

The late actress started out as Sally Rutter.

One-question movie quiz

What are some of the clues that make clear the city in this great movie from 1946 is not a stand-in for Spokane? I can think of two big ones.

This date in Slice history (1996)

Only around here: We recently overheard a woman complaining about having an eight-mile commute.

Favorite Olympics Q6 news promo?

Or are there simply too many from which to choose?

A sunburn story

As threatened, here is my sunburn story.

During the summer before my junior year of high school in Burlington, Vermont, I spent a few weeks with my older sister's family in Southern California.

Like many 16-year-old boys, I secretly wished that I was a bit cooler and more confident. So one of my goals while I was away from home was to acquire a stunning tan.

I wanted to possess a golden glow that, upon my return to the Green Mountain State, would make people stop and say, “That guy must be from California!”

Ridiculous, I know.

Anyway, I spent a lot of time outdoors during my visit and was probably well on my way to an OK tan. But remember, I was going for mind-blowing. So on a day when we went to a beach shortly before I was to head back East, I pulled out all the stops.

Eschewing any sort of sunscreen, I went for a full roasting there at the ocean's edge.

And, of course, I got a sunburn that made me ill.

I think I started to peel about the time I got on the plane. Soon it appeared that I had a case of the mange.

So my dream didn't quite come true. Upon my return, not one beautiful Vermont girl approached me and said, “Kind sir, I see from your tan that you are from a mystical, romantic place inspired by folk-rock and freeways. Could you tutor me in the ways of love and good vibrations?”

Not one.

If only I had used a few dabs of sunblock.

The next summer, I stayed home. 

If you wear eyeglasses…

Do you ever get tired of being asked why you haven't gotten the vision-correcting surgical procedure?

And what is your answer?

A) It wouldn't help me. B) The whole idea of that surgery creeps me out. C) Glasses are not that big a burden. I could see it if I wore contacts. D) What would I put in my hand when gesturing? E) My health insurance doesn't cover anything. F) Other.     

This date in Slice history (1997)

We'll save you some time: Certain men's magazines love to tout stories about the secrets of success in both personal life and business. Inevitably, these “secrets” are essentially rehashings of seven basic truths.

1. Women want you to listen AND talk.

2. Bosses want you to solve your own problems.

3. Looks matter.

4. If you are a jerk, you need to be able to conceal that fact.

5. All managers value people who make them look good.

6. It's an excellent idea to be young, stylish, smart and funny.

7. Life's not fair.

Best TV commercial of 2012

It opens with a teenage boy in a graduation cap and gown.

Don't change the channel or fast-forward. Just watch.

I won't ruin it by giving away the good lines. But I really think you would enjoy it.

It's for Sprint. But it's really about life in 2012.

Born in Spokane Department

This is Michele Morrow. I'd never heard of her either. But apparently she has been in some awful-sounding movies.

Telling the truth about Wiffle Ball

It wasn't really all that much fun.

At least not if you used an actual Wiffle Ball (registered trademark).

Sure the holes in the white plastic ball allowed it to simulate curveballs. Or so it said on the box.

But that design also kept it from traveling far or fast. Playing backyard baseball with an actual Wiffle Ball was like being in the dead ball era.

No, what you wanted was a plastic ball that was solid on the outside. Pitchers could get plenty of heat on their fastballs and still achieve remarkable movement. And hitters could smack line-drives and long home runs — not just wounded ducks fluttering back to the pitcher.

Reasonable people can disagree about this.

But it says here that playing wiffle ball with a Wiffle Ball was a slow-motion drag.

Things that happened in Augusts past

This album came out in August of 1975.

BTO was at Expo '74 on Aug. 5th.

Also in August of 1974.

And August of 1945.

Fan mail for Spokane

Residents in certain mildewy parts of the Northwest might not always be impressed with Spokane.

But they love us in Champaign, Illinois. 

The South Hill's Evelyn Creager passed along a recent travel story from The News-Gazette, published there in the home of the University of Illinois.

A five-column headline sets the tone: “A beautiful, friendly place to visit.”

Judi Kutzko, a resident of Urbana, Illinois, begins her glowing piece this way: “Spokane, Wash., is without a doubt one of the cleanest, friendliest and prettiest places I've ever visited.”

The story features three photos, including a big one of the downtown falls.

To say Ms. Kutzko digs the Lilac City would be understatement.

“Everyone we met — from hotel staff to store clerks to restaurant servers — was exceptionally friendly and outgoing. I've never experienced this anywhere, certainly not to this degree, and it was refreshing to know that truly nice people still exist. The residents are obviously proud of their city, and it shows.”

She ends by saying she hopes to visit Spokane again soon.

Anytime, Judi. You're always welcome.

More postcards from Slice readers

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Can you name a better movie title?

Remember, I didn't say “better movie.” I said “better movie title.”

The Wednesday Slice Question

The newspaper's in-house newsletter recently featured a fine story about the SR offering readers learn-a-language record albums 50 years ago.

It was a promotion designed to increase subscriptions. Readers were to clip out coupons appearing in consecutive papers and then send those in along with a small check. Or something like that. The records would arrive in the mail. Collect them all!

According to the story by Joe Butler, a few other papers tried this. But local readers availing themselves of this special offer received vinyl records with “The Spokesman-Review” emblazoned on the label.

Some of those who wish Spokane was a different sort of place think of the SR as one of the local institutions instrumental in keeping the city, as they see it, parochial and provincial.

But here the paper was offering to help readers learn at least a little about how to speak Spanish, French, Italian, Japanese, German, Russian and Hebrew — a dozen years before Expo. How horizons-broadening can you get?

OK, OK. The idea, of course, was to get more people to sign up for home delivery of the paper. Nobody had any real plan to turn Spokane into a community version of Jason Bourne.

But here in this nation of immigrants, learning languages is a good thing. I'm sort of proud of the paper for having tried that, even if it does sound a bit goofy 50 years later.

That was then, though. This is now. And that brings us to…

Today's Slice question: If you were in charge of circulation-building promotions at The Spokesman-Review, what would you offer people in 2012 as an inducement for signing up for home delivery?

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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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