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The Slice

Archive for January 2012

One-question state bird quiz

The Northern Cardinal is the official state bird of seven states. How many of them can you name?

(I have provided the answer as a comment on this post.)

But what about the children?

You have to feel sorry for certain Spokane area teens this winter.

With no bitterly cold temperatures, they haven't had a chance to assert their burgeoning personhood by wearing shorts on subzero days.

Poor kids.

But maybe they have come up with other ways of expressing themselves. Perhaps they have redoubled their efforts to engage in herd-like in-your-face jaywalking near their schools.

In any event, we can only hope they find a way to demonstrate their independence and laid-back exuberance. God's speed, young scholars.

Though, you have to admit, nothing makes a statement quite like pants stylings that annoy adults.  

Maybe it should be held here every year

Or not.

But coverage of the recently completed U.S. Figure Skating Championships in San Jose suggests that expecting consistently big crowds and huge TV numbers for this annual event might be a thing of the past.

Except, I suppose, if it is held in Spokane shortly before a Winter Olympics.

It’s sort of fun to say “Cow Cow”

Was looking for photos of old milk bottles and came across this. I'll bet that was good.

Anyway, the point I had intended to make had something to do with the connection between dairy farms and transporting milk in glass bottles and the tradition some places of having decent rural roads. But I'll come back to that another day.


After being involved in an arduous residential move, it takes a while before that ripping sound of packing tape being unspooled doesn't make you shudder.

This date in Slice history (1997)

What tips you off right away that someone who just moved to Spokane is not going to be happy here?

If “Downton Abbey” were a Western

Or a mob movie…

Who would have gotten shot by now?

Could you be a little more specific?

Maybe you have seen bumper stickers that say “Not Fooled By The Media.”

Is there any better evidence that the vehicle owner in question is, in fact, totally fooled by at least one segment of the media?

This date in Slice history (1996)

Today's Slice question: What's the best snow graffiti you've seen?

Re: Assumption that all use computers

Here's the signal that sends to certain elderly people:

1. We don't care about you or your business.

2. We don't care how long you have been a loyal customer.

3. Hurry up and die soon. 

Rise of the machines

Are you one of those parents who reject real names when it comes to deciding what to call a newborn?

Well, here's a possibility.

I was looking at a grocery store receipt and noticed something up at the top. Right beneath the date and time, it said: “HELLO, MY NAME IS LANE #1.”

 Perfect. Then you could call the second kid Lane #2. 

Just in case this was your Plan B

I rented a storage unit this morning

Here's one of the rules: “No sleeping and/or living in units.”

Maybe this is one small reason why…

…people elsewhere think we're right next to those other two. 

The glasses prove that she is smart

Here at the SR, we lost our young romance reporter in a round of layoffs.

Vintage funeral home bowling shirts

This is a collectibles category I had not encountered before. Anyone got any local versions?

Inland Northwest Signs Department

The Corner Club in Moscow.

This date in Slice history (1997)

Today's Slice question: What Spokane area high school is home to the most current or future criminals?

This date in Slice history (1996)

A Dr. Seuss book inspired by life in Spokane would have been called: “Greenacres and Spam,” “There's a Pothole in My Street,” and “Oh, The Places You'll Never Go” were among readers' suggestions.

Where were they all to go, Spokane?

There's a good chance we would have had our own problems.

Do we have one or do we not?

The question comes up now and then.

Does the Inland Northwest have a distinct accent?

You can mark me down as a skeptic.

Proponents of the idea that there is a unique accent here often point to certain expressions, phrases or grammatical irregularities. But I've never viewed that as synonymous with a true accent. None of that is anywhere near universal here and much of it has more to do with socio-economic background than geographically-determined linguistic heritage.

Besides, every non-Indian in the West is from someplace else, if you go back a few generations. The people who settled here came from the Midwest, the South, the Northeast, the Plains, Canada, Asia — you name it. That wouldn't seem apt to lend itself to homogenous vocal patterns and quirks.

Due to national mobility, media and other reasons, regional accents are said to be in decline where they actually do exist. But here in West Dakota, I doubt that we ever had one to begin with.

Taft Day at National Apple Show here

Sorry this cannot be read. Let's just assume it lists many exciting activities and that a good time in Spokane was had by all.

The XL president, William Howard Taft, visited Spokane in September of 1909.

Picture of a B-24 my father flew in

He didn't name the plane. His crew also flew missions in a Liberator called Li'l Abner.

Disappearing act

When I moved here in the late '80s, it seemed like these candies were available everywhere you looked in Spokane.

I liked them, partly because they were a regional product. I even drove over to Libby one time and met the nice couple who operated the business.

But I don't seem to see these sweet treats these days. Not that I have really been looking. I don't need the calories.

If you did not grow up here, have you had a similar experience? You know, something that was ubiquitous back when you first arrived seemingly disappearing?

Vandals in the NFL Department

Let's just hope someone like Ann-Margret was also part of the entertainment.

No. 1 song on this date 30 years ago

I wonder how many people who were Hall & Oates fans are willing to admit it today.

It's a bitch, girl.

This date in Slice history (1999)

Hey, if it helps fight off colds: Eli Majnarich, 5, refers to taking his “vitamin seed” in the morning.

8 stages of predawn skunk spotting

1. Uh oh.

2. Man, he's big.

3. I wonder if he's lost.

4. No, no, no — don't head this way.

5. And don't go that way either. Too much traffic.

6. What does he find to eat at this time of year?

7. Well, if he got to be that big, I guess he knows how to make a living.

8. Good luck, pal.

Fifty years ago on “The Twilight Zone”

“The Hunt.”

See today's Slice column.

Yesterday and today

Sometimes the way we remember something isn't exactly how it really was.

But people who grew up here are entitled to their recollections about the city's snow-plowing zeal and efficiency years ago. If they say it was great, I'm in no position to challenge that. I wasn't here.

I think there's another dynamic at play, though, when it comes to the often-voiced dissatisfaction with Spokane's response to snow storms.

My theory: There are quite a few people here who grew up in other northern locales. They remember how the city of Syracuse, N.Y., got after street-plowing in 1979 or how Mankato, Minn., handled it in 1984.

And these folks can't resist comparing the efforts of 2012 Spokane's crews to the way it was done back in the old hometown. That's just natural.

But here's the thing. I'll bet a lot of those other northern cities have experienced budget cuts and possibly reduced performance when it comes to clearing the streets. Maybe those bastions of plowing excellence aren't all that perfect anymore.

So perhaps, in some cases anyway, Spokane is being held up to a standard that exists mostly in the haze of memory. 


Add a little variety to your exclamations

There is every possibility that a big drop of melted snow or ice is going to plop down on your head at some point today.

If that happens, you might be moved to utter some sort of colorful oath.

Exactly what you say is, of course, up to you. But if you would like to try something different, consider:


“Sweet sister!”


“Jumping Jehosaphat!”

“Land o'Goshen!”

“Maid of Manito!”

“Heavens to Murgatroyd!”

Multiple choice

How do you react to the promos for Spokane Public Radio's annual used-records sale in February?

A) I enjoy them. B) They make me want to go around punching theater majors. C) I never listen to KPBX. D) Depends. Some of them are entertaining. Others make me wish I was married to the performer in question so I could have the pleasure of telling him or her that I want a divorce. E) They tend to turn me into a Republican. F) I look at my radio and say “Really?” G) They make me want to increase my pledge. H) Would it be wrong to call in a tactical air strike on the SPR studio? I) They make me want to harm myself and others. J) So really, why did Dick K leave? K) Other.    

Today’s old Spokane beer can

I know I've used Bohemian Club cans before. But I really like this one.

Have room for another?

Check out the second story promo

This was 1954. So was that Bing weighing in early on rock and roll?

A reader observed that the young woman in the photo looks like Charlize Theron. And I have to agree.

Maybe it is her and she is a witch who does not age.

Just wondering

What did you lose that you suspect might be hidden by snow?

If people don’t understand your humor

They might assume you are less than super-smart.

Say, for instance, you enjoy quoting lines from the 2000 Christopher Guest movie “Best in Show.”

And let's further suppose that a co-worker or casual acquaintance overhears you telling someone on the phone, “If you get hungry, eat something.”

A person overhearing that might well wonder if you or the individual to whom you were speaking inhabit a land of absurd obviousness.

When, in fact, it's just your grand sense of humor. Or at least Christopher Guest's.

He looked familiar

A line in today's Slice column reminded South Hill resident Steve Wells of a story.

“About 40 years ago, I was walking back to the office (a Los Angeles insurance company) after lunch with a co-worker, who wanted to stop in at her bank on the way.

“An older gentleman was next to us in line, and Marilyn said to him in her Brooklyn way, 'Hiya, how ya doin'?'

“The gentleman nodded and answered, 'Fine, fine, thank you,' and that was that.

“After leaving the bank a few minutes later, Marilyn said, 'I've been racking my brain trying to place that guy. Is he one of our agents?'

Wells looked at his colleague

“Marilyn, that was Fred Astaire.”

This date in Slice history (1998)

Today's Slice question: Who is the least powerful person in the Inland Northwest? 

One way to get in trouble

Playing with a Super Ball inside the house often led to something getting broken.

Fuel for regional nostalgia

From what I gather, the refinery was in Hillyard.

Weighing online product reviews

When reading customer feedback on products and services, It seems like there are three essentials.

1. Being able to spot cranky idiots who enjoy complaining and probably don't have sense enough to use the product as intended.

2. Spotting patterns.

3. Do you have a sense that the commenters have a perspective not altogether unlike your own when it comes to matters of price/value and expectations?  

This date in the features section (1999)

We had a story I wrote recalling the year a bizarre set of circumstances led to Spokane hosting the Super Bowl.

That never happened, of course.

Still, though I winked at reality several times in the story, not everyone realized I wasn't being serious. Maybe the fact that it was Jan. 23 and not April 1 threw a few readers.

But c'mon. 

Seasonal Spokane slang

Years ago, the expression “get plowed” meant something unrelated to snow.

Re: Today’s print column

I am aware that the reader who quoted a lyric from the folk song “Little Boxes” took liberties with the wording.

As he put this inside quotation marks, I assumed it was what he intended. So I correctly quoted him misquoting the line.

If I had it to do over, I would query the reader in more detail about his intentions.

In any case, Slice readers mentioned this and they were right to do so.

Re: The coughing you hear at work

To what is it attributable?

A) Seasonal colds.

B) Pot-smoking asthmatics.

C) Spokanthrax.

D) Skiers setting the stage for calling in sick tomorrow.

E) Other.

This date in Slice history (1998)

Today's Slice question: Ever have someone making change cough or sneeze directly into the hand holding the money you are about to be given?

When you cannot think of the right word

So there's this woman whose husband was at home working on his laptop.

He also had the TV on.

At some point, while the woman was on a phone call or something, a super loud commercial came on the television. The woman wanted to ask her husband to silence it. But she simply could not come up with the word “mute.”

So, after a frustrated moment or two, she finally blurted out “Activate the device!”

Her husband now finds all sorts of occasions to use that phrase.     

Reading the Sunday paper

Back when coffee was just coffee

Did you recognize the Wicked Witch of the West?

Walking the walk

The pedestrian stylings of those walking in downtown Spokane often leave a bit to be desired in the best weather conditions.

Sidewalk hogs, distracted phone yakkers, jaywalkers…I'm sure you could draw up your own list.

But when there's snow, ice and slush to contend with, things get even more iffy.

People understandably wanting to see where they are stepping have a tendency to look down while walking. And that can lead to scenes that resemble rival rams about to butt heads. Then there's the situation where someone walks up behind an individual who has stopped. That can look like a full-bodied goosing, a clumsy attempt to simulate intimate social congress or, at least, start a conga line.

Better to look up and see where you are going. Even if your shoes get wet.

Once upon a time

The NFL season did not stretch past Groundhog Day.

Two Super Bowl games in the 1980s were played on this date. Before that, the game was played even earlier.

Today’s newspaper movie poster

Of course, with the rise of the Web, the whole concept of “deadline” has evolved. 

Please mark your calendar accordingly

“Am I correct in assuming that meetings of the Marmot Lodge are also cancelled due to snow?” wrote longtime correspondent Doug Burr.

No, actually they're running two hours late.  

Local man to TV: Enough already

“We get it,” wrote Collin Galloway of Hayden. “We know it snowed, and it's going to keep snowing until it stops. We don't need close-up shots of the road to know there is ice and snow on it.”

This date in Slice history (1996)

Today's Slice question: What would be the perfect theme for a set of collectible Inland Northwest trading cards?

This date in Slice history (1998)

Today's Slice question: What couple could rightly be referred to as “Spokane's Romeo and Juliet”?

This date in Slice history (2000)

Today's Slice question: What thought flashed through your mind during that split-second after you had put your right foot in the car and your left foot was just starting to slip on a patch of ice?

Often Mark Trail had to duke it out

Fortunately, the guys he fought tended not to be Marvin Haglers. 

A ride home complete with commentary

The personality-plus guy driving the STA bus I took to go home this afternoon provided a running play-by-play on the snowy trip.

It was pretty entertaining.

Maybe that's because it wasn't just one long harangue. Sure, he questioned the thinking abilities of some pedestrians who stepped in front of the bus as he was about to pull out and go through a green light to start our journey. And, yes, he did suggest that some drivers were not up to dealing with today's conditions.

But at other times he praised motorists. “Well done, white Subaru” — when the driver of said vehicle pulled up behind a car dead in the water (or snow anyway) on an incline and then went around it, allowing the flow of traffic to continue.

Among his other observations:

“Two-wheel drive trucks are useless. Why would anybody buy one? I learned that the hard way.”

“That's right, pull out in front me so I have to practically come to a stop going up this hill.”

“I'm guessing those are not excellent tires.” (Re: a vehicle being pushed but getting nowhere.)

“Worst intersection in town. Somebody's going to get killed. But nobody does anything about it.” (As he waited on 37th to cross Grand.)

“Sorry, lady. Sometimes that's the way life is.” (When a woman in an SUV had to slow down a little on Grand when he finally had a semi-opening to go through that intersection.)

When I disembarked, I thanked him for the narration.

This Spokane postcard hints at a story

It reminds me of a conversation I had last week. The guy on the phone was someone I have known for a long time. He usually knows what he is talking about.

He had called to discuss the whole “If there had never been an air base here” thing and mentioned a few of the military facilities that predated Fairchild AFB. At some point he got going about how some World War II bombers that had seen action got patched up here. I've heard that before. In fact, years ago, I spoke with a woman who did some of that work.

But something I couldn't say that I recalled was that the famous B-17, the Memphis Belle, got spruced up in Spokane after its extensive combat. The celebrated airplane was going to be shown around the country as a recruiting prop. And apparently some tour-planning enlistment drum-beaters thought bullet holes might give people pause.

I've seen the Memphis Belle. It was at a park in the Tennessee city that shares its name.

Thinking about that now, I wish they had left the bullet holes alone. Some scars are all about character.

This made me smile

A longtime reader named Kathy wrote to say she has discovered that her body is not quite so “shovel ready” as she imagined.

Another depiction of newspaper people

I think yesterday's was actually less ridiculous.

“Girls in love”

So is that person over on the far left someone from the future?

Potential Spokane political coalition

Sure, it seems unlikely.

But what if the guns people and bike riders got together on some issue? What might that cause be?

Seems like there was an “SNL” skit along these lines.

Just wondering

Have cellphone cameras made photo booths obsolete?

Snow-throwing logic questioned

So if, in clearing your sidewalk or driveway, you shoot the snow out into the street, don't the plows just shove it right back in your face when they come along?

This is not safe skiing

You're supposed to strap the 264-ounce bottle of beer to your back.

Do you know the size of a hockey puck?

If you are interested in Northwest sports memorabilia, you really ought to check out that site. 

Today’s powder a pleasure to shovel

If it was always like this, people would consider it recreation.

Slice answer

Jackie Disotell said she hasn't really speculated about what people might say behind her back.

“But one morning at work, after a meeting, we were all walking to our stations when I turned around and saw two guys imitating how I walk,” she wrote. “I am tall but they were walking with little steps just like my daughter walks. I had tried to get my daughter to walk with a bigger stride not knowing until then that I walk the same way.”  


One woman talking to another:

“There's always an old guy named Jerry at wine tastings.” 

Just sayin’

If we're going to feel smug about how snow can paralyze the Seattle area (always fun), it might be good if we could more convincingly demonstrate an ability to take a blizzard in stride ourselves.

No atheists on prospective snow days

Even children who don't really mind going to school have been known to pray for snow days.

Some try to bargain with the almighty. You know, “If you will see to it that school is closed, I will endeavor to clean up my act on multiple fronts.”

Some play the entitlement card. “You owe me! I've been good lately.”

And still others seem to believe that saying “Pleeeeeeeease” with all the sincerity they can muster is the ticket to a snow day.

Of course, some of us grew up in aggressively-plowed school districts where the policy was to never declare snow days. In such places, a child's faith tended to focus on miracles such as early-morning citywide power outages or beseeching God for a sudden policy shift.

When that didn't work, one was left to grapple with some dark existential questions. And with trying to remember where you had left your snow boots.  

This date in Slice history (2001)

Feedback: Most responding readers said it would be fine if the S-R included ceremonies involving gay couples in its wedding announcements. But others said they would cancel their subscriptions.

A question for bashers of studded tires

“Where's your Messiah now?”

Studded tires probably deserve the scorn aimed at them and those who use them. But the argument that they are almost never helpful? Uh, really?

There's an icy glaze on the streets near my home right now. Should be an interesting rush hour. Hope everyone stays safe.

Face time

The 2:20 No. 43 bus was crowded this afternoon.

I was aware that someone had sat down next to me. But I wasn't in the mood to visit, so I kept reading a news story on my phone.

Eventually, I looked up and realized my seatmate was someone I know slightly — Richard Rush, the former Spokane city councilman.

We didn't talk much about his close loss in the recent election. And to the extent that we did, he didn't seem bitter. Though it's always hard to tell about these things. I know I would find it difficult to be gracious.

Mostly we talked about Spokane's late-arriving winter, walking vs. riding a bike and about the South, where both of us have extended family.

I know there are people who can't stand Rush. Once on a story about a bicyclist being killed in a traffic accident, a classy anonymous commenter said it was too bad Rush hadn't been the victim.

But I admire someone who gets involved in public life and doesn't just sit around pissing and moaning with his friends.

There are all kinds of losers in our society. But not winning an election doesn't necessarily make you one of them. 

The odds were in his favor

A little boy waiting outside the STA Plaza said “There's our bus” every time one approached or went by.

“No, not yet,” said a woman I assumed to be his mother. Over and over.

Eventually, though, he was going to be right.  

Front page appears after Today section

“When I used to deliver the Chronicle, all the sections were folded inside the first section and the front page was, well, out front,” wrote my friend Mike Carlson, an ace auto restorer. “When I get the paper now I don't see the front page first. What I see is a friend (you) smiling at me. It helps start off my day. I don't know how much work goes into the front page but it comes in second every day.”

Hi, Mike. I can tell you that a fair amount of work goes into designing the front page. But we are not quite as insane about it here as we have been at various times in the past. Certain SR regimes have been, to my mind, hilariously obsessive about A1. You would think we sold all our papers to people getting on subways in the morning. Then there's the tendency of some editors to act in meetings as if they are in a movie about themselves.

And nobody in “All The President's Men” ever said “Put the features section out front! Run that baby!”

Anyway, the appearance of Empire Life, IN Life and now Today wrapped on the outside in the morning has always cracked me up. Thanks for bringing this up.

Tuesday morning name game

Some of the folks involved in the SR newsroom remodeling have been buzzing around this morning.

One, a guy whose name is Pavel, told me that's “Paul” in Russian. I like that.

Another, though, keeps calling me Kelly. Not sure if he thinks that is my first name or my last name.

In any event, I've never really thought of myself as a Kelly type. (Though, for the record, I think the name has positive connotations.)

Robert Culp as a dashing Kelly in “I Spy.” 

Spokane TV news and a “snow event”

If the predicted snowfall materializes, we can assume it will be covered as if it is a nuclear plant meltdown.

But why?

I have a few theories.

1. People talk about the weather.

2. Snow is visual.

3. Snow gives news directors a chance to deploy people wearing spiffy station-logo jackets to various parts of town.

4. Video of cars fishtailing, sliding, et cetera is good TV.

5. News directors know the other stations are going to be all over it, so there's an arms-race mindset.

6. Chance to use/show off latest technology.

7. There is ample evidence suggesting that many people hereabouts do, in fact, regard a little snow as a natural disaster.

8. Spokane TV news directors know that people here love to sit at home and mutter “Man, I'm glad I'm not out in that.”

9. It's fun to give transplanted Montanans and North Dakotans a reason to shake their heads and think, “Has no one here ever experienced winter before?”

10. Snow storms are an easy story to tell.         

The No. 1 song 50 years ago today

Till we tear the house down.

Today’s vintage Spokane beer bottle

Be sure to read the label.

Without drugs?

You might enjoy the site below. The guy behind it is in Indiana, but apparently he has a particular interest in the old Schade Brewery here. The fact that his name is Schade might have something to do with that.

Near and far

My wife has a Twitter friend in Connecticut who found a gift for her on the Etsy crafts site. So this woman back East went ahead and ordered the item and had it sent to my wife.

It came from Post Falls.

Outside the Huck’s Natural Living sale

After employing the most rigorous survey methodology (glancing around the parking lot), I am ready to report my findings.

1. Those shopping at the big Huckleberry's sale drive a pretty typical cross-section of vehicles. Maybe a few less pickups than you might find elsewhere in Spokane.

2. If, as some would suggest, only counterculture types shop at that store, then it appears that a fair number of counterculture types drive SUVs or minivans.  

What’s your Saturday morning uniform?

We don't all have the same schedules, of course.

And I guess it almost goes without saying that we do not all engage in the exact same weekend activities.

Then there's the fact that not everyone likes blue jeans and sweatshirts. Moreover, there are plenty who dress casually 365 days a year.

But some of us definitely do have a Saturday morning uniform. And once attired in same, the weekend can officially begin.

Spokane would be even whiter if…

…there had never been an Air Force base here.

That's the contention of longtime Slice reader Tim Wink. (He was responding to a question in the print column about how this area would be different if there had never been a base here.)

It would be difficult to dispute Tim's assertion.

The military has long played a big role in shuffling the nation's demographic deck. Not everybody likes that, of course. But those folks who don't can go to hell.

If you spend part of your life defending America, I think you can pretty much live wherever you want when you get out of the service. 

Feel free to prove me wrong

In Monday's print Slice, my ender line will allude to the fact that there are not a lot of good movies with skiing as a theme.

After writing that, I got to thinking that I should have stated it more strongly. That is, if there is even one skiing scene in a film there's an excellent chance it stinks.

I don't know why this is the case. It just is.

Of course, there are exceptions. The scene below showing David Niven and Claudia Cardinale in 1963's “The Pink Panther” had its moments.

But I've tried to think of other examples and I am drawing a blank.

This date in Slice history (1996)

Today's Slice question: Which is more valued in the Spokane area — quantity or quality?

Just for starters

Because of the way modern engines work, I guess it's less of an issue for those with newer cars.

But once upon a time, starting a vehicle on cold mornings took a combination of skill, patience and prayer.

Whether one chose to wheedle, plead, coax or cajole, though, the verbal part of the process was crucial.

Some preferred to go with a basic “C'mon, c'mon, c'monnnnnn.”

Some opted to assume the role of desperate supplicant and whisper “Please baby, please.”

And others adopted a belligerent posture, sort of like Ralphie's dad dealing with the furnace.

But whether you viewed it as a test of wills or a spin off the roulette wheel, one thing was certain.

It was impossible to keep quiet. 

Remodeling the SR newsroom

It's already under way.

I think this is the look they're going for. It's my understanding that white shirts and neckties will be optional.

And here's the guy in charge of the big cleanup that preceded the actual remodeling. We were approached about being in an episode of “Hoarders” but declined.

Though we're all charged with reporting for both online and print, this is where the actual Web team will be.   

Unlearning the lessons of “It’s My Party”

People ask me, “Paul, why were so many baby boomers clueless for so long when it came to affairs of the heart?”

That's easy. It all goes back to 1963 and Lesley Gore's hit story-songs, “It's My Party (And I'll Cry If I Want To)” and “Judy's Turn to Cry.”

These were peppy Top 40 tunes that offered seriously misguided life lessons.

In the first song, we hear Lesley sing:

“Nobody knows where my Johnny has gone.

“Judy left the same time.

“Why was he holding her hand,

“When he's supposed to be mine?”

This sends the clear message that it's OK for girls to be utter dopes. Why else would the song's narrator be so slow to pick up on the fact she has been bagged and dropped off at Dump City?

When the newly minted couple return to the party, this chick Judy is wearing Johnny's ring. And yet the singer inexplicably voices surprise.

Hello? Who didn't see that coming? And why couldn't the ditsy storyteller recognize that our man Johnny simply was not the most emotionally reliable cat in town?

It gets worse, of course.

Let's review a few lines from the follow-up, “Judy's Turn to Cry.”

“Oh, one night I saw them kissin' at a party,

“So I kissed some other guy.

“Johnny jumped up and he hit him,

“'Cause he still loved me, that's why.”

Lesley, Lesley, Lesley. That's your idea of love? Girl, you had better wise up.

Can you imagine the signal that sent to impressionable baby boomer youth?

To recap:

1. Brainless babe fails to realize her boyfriend is a two-timing loser until evidence is presented to her on a platter.

2. Brainless babe decides to make her knuckledragger ex jealous.

3. Knuckledragger ex resorts to violence against some innocent dupe.

4. Brainless babe is thrilled and feeling flush with feminine conquest pride, even though her loser boyfriend clearly is motivated by a macho notion of property rights and not some romantic impulse.

5. Brainless babe, no big booster of sisterhood, takes devilish pleasure in the emotional injury to the aforementioned Judy.

6. Millions of kids spend decades unlearning these lessons.

7. Marriage counselors take a lot of trips to Hawaii.


This later record helped start the healing.

Reasons most no longer worry about…

…phoning someone at dinnertime.

1. “Dinnertime” has become a fluid concept.

2. Assumption that recipient will be pleased to get the call since you aren't a telemarketer spouting some line of bull about improving credit card interest rates.

3. Many people no longer think of electronic communications interruptions as interruptions. They think of them as part of being awake.

4. Even if your call arrives while the person is eating, it is unlikely that he or she is ensconced in some Norman Rockwell scene. Chances are, he or she is on the computer or watching TV.

5. We have become accustomed to thinking that every thought needs to be expressed immediately.

I knew people who owned these

But I have not seen one on the road in a while. Not that I noticed, anyway. Doesn't anyone in Spokane restore Gremlins?

Here's another gremlin.

Anyone else remember “The Newsroom”?

It was a dark Canadian comedy set in a television news operation.

It made me laugh. But not everyone would enjoy it. One episode included a confused politician saying “I believe life begins at masturbation.”   

Boomer boys as sound-effects artists

Some boys excelled at making “the crowd goes wild” sounds while tossing a football to themselves in the backyard.

Others specialized in simulating the noise made by screeching tires while playing with toy cars and executing impossibly sharp turns on the carpet.

But a few lads took pride in their ability to vocalize airplane sounds. Some could do just about anything from a World War I biplane — “ehnnnnnnnn” — to a modern military jet — “shhhhhhhhhh.” At least they imagined that they could.

This playtime fantasy could be complicated by reality, though. Say, if you ever actually heard the sound produced by the engines of a certain aircraft.

That was never more true than in the case of the huge B-36. It was astonishingly loud, as Spokane residents of a certain age could attest. And any kid who had heard one overhead knew it posed a serious sound-effects challenge.

Still, it wasn't impossible to do a decent droning hum/roar. You just had to remember to breathe now and then.


Thursday quiz

Explain this list.

Birdy, J.T. “Joker” Davis, Mike Downey, Captain Dennis Dearborn, Dave Goldman, Louden Swain.

This date in Slice history (1999)

Which attribute is most important in your line of work:

A) Willingness to apologize for things that weren't your fault.

B) Ability to stay awake in meetings.

C) Skill at stealing credit.

D) Talent for deflecting blame.

E) Showing up every day. 

“Hearts along the ski trail”

Looks like that one breast is ready for launch.

“Let's light this candle.” 

Invasion of the conetops

So the boys in marketing thought it would be a good idea to go with a zany accent, right on the product. Well, it was a different era.

But how about that inspiring slogan: “America's finest canned beer.”

Canned beer. How lyrical. Sort of puts you in the mood for a draft.

If you can remember when…

…you had to have this brand of white sneakers to be taken seriously, well, you qualify as a wily veteran.

Even some who hate us are quite loyal

I wonder who has gone the most years without missing a day of the S-R.

Gentlemen of England

There are any number of good reasons why I am not a drama teacher.

But if I did have influence with theater students, I would make sure their homework included watching this astonishly rich and layered 1999 movie.

It takes its time and shines a bright, penetrating light on the creative process.

Just wondering

Do those who live on streets named after American Indian populations make a point of learning a bit about the history and culture of those tribes?

As we approach Friday the 13th

Tony Goatz wrote to say it would have been his dad's 82nd birthday.

He died of cancer many years ago.

“When I was young, he would ask me to do him a favor such as go out and get the paper. Then he would add, 'I'll buy you a beer when you turn 21.'”

His father died before Goatz turned 21, so he never got to purchase his son that cold one.

But Tony will think of him on Friday. “I am going to buy a can of his favorite beer and sit on the deck and drink it with him, tell him that I miss him and it's OK that he didn't buy me that beer.”

Perfect record

I have attended a grand total of one National Basketball Association game.

I was still in college and working part-time for a small daily newspaper in Arizona. My boss wanted me to have the experience of covering a pro sports event. So he arranged for me to get a floor pass as a photographer and locker room-access reporter credentials.

It was interesting. But here's the thing.

The game was between the home team, the Phoenix Suns, and the Portland Trailblazers. And that season, 1976-77, the Blazers would go on to win the NBA playoffs.

So how many people can say they have seen just one pro game (whatever sport) but that it involved the eventual league champions?      

Silver money

When was the last time you got a pre-1964 silver quarter in change?

For me, it was about 10 years ago. It was at the Albertson's at 37th and Grand. Both the cashier and I noticed the distinctive thunk it made as it landed on other coins she had already dropped into my hand.

I still have it, along with a few other old-style quarters. Should have hoarded those when I was a little kid.

Wonder if I'll ever encounter another. Maybe not.

This night on “All in the Family”

Do you remember the theme song for the spin-off show, “The Jeffersons”?

You know, with the line “To a de-luxe apartment in the sky.”

Well, on Jan 11, 1975, that happened in an episode of  “All in the Family” called, fittingly, “The Jeffersons Move Up.”

I heard an NPR report this week on the fact that it has become increasingly more difficult to climb economic rungs in real life. (There were lots of statistics backing up that assertion.) But on TV 37 years ago, dreams could still come true.

Does it bug University of Montana folks…

…that warp drive propulsion was developed in Bozeman?

(Or pehaps I should say WILL be developed. In the “Star Trek” canon, it happens about 50 years from now.)

The art of spotting loser boyfriends

One needn't be the parent of daughters to possess the ability to confidently spot loser boyfriends.

Some of us do it all the time, in stores, restaurants and all sorts of public spaces.

Often, the dull lad's hair is a dead giveaway.

It's not simply a matter of length or style. It's really more that the youth projects a certain oblivious pride in his ludicrous coiffure.

Now, as someone who went to high school in the 1970s and was one of the era's millions of trend victims, I am aware that judging the content of one's character on the basis of locks can be narrow-minded. And I am certainly not suggesting that conformity is the only path to acceptability.

But sometimes you just know: “That kid is bad news.”

The particular fashion or style is less telling than the way the low-wattage youth wears it. If it is intended as a substitute for a personality or if it is the sum of the young man's identity, well, there you have it.    

I'm not really talking about over-the-top “statement” hair. Some of those boys years ago who had green hair, mohawks or dreads were super bright and honest as bewigged George Washington.

Sometimes we outgrow things. But not everyone has the inner spark necessary to evolve.

How can you spot loser boyfriend hair?

Maybe it's like the Supreme Court justice who, in discussing definitions of pornography, said he knew it when he saw it.

Makes you feel for the parents of girls spending time with these deluded post-mullet squires.

“Dad, you won't even give Damien a chance! How do you know he's no good for me?”

“His hair, honey. His hair.”

Today’s reason why…

…most of us wouldn't last as STA drivers.

The joys of arguing with riders about which kind of coffee containers are allowed on the bus and which aren't. 

Better to be lucky than good

About 30 years ago, when I was working in Tucson, I was in the newsroom on a Saturday.

And I called the Washington, D.C. office of U.S. Rep. Morris Udall of Arizona. I was trying to contact a staffer to get a comment for some news story. I'm sure I thought the world would come to an end if I couldn't reach him.

Anyway, the guy who answered the phone back East said the fellow I was trying to reach was not there. I don't remember every detail of the conversation, but I think I made a big deal about how I needed to track him down. We went back and forth for a bit. Things were not moving forward. And, finally, the man to whom I was speaking said: “Well, this is Mo Udall. Can I help you?”

Uh, yes.      

Meowing cats

Readers said that was one I left out when asking what sound people in their circle hear in the background when phoning one another.

Re: Today’s print Slice

“I have a different perspective on the mountains here than those who complain,” wrote Eve Montgomery. “We moved here from Wichita Falls, Texas, in October. Wichita Falls is one of those places where you can see the storms three counties away and you have a few hills which really are molehills or prairie dog hills.

“I love your mountains here and don't wish for those big mountains where you can only see a small part of the sky. You see, I love the sunrises and sunsets you can still see from Spokane. Yet I look out my window and see mountains, which I love. Also, I don't spend a large amount of time driving down from 8,500 feet just to go to the grocery store like my brother does in Colorado.

“You can drive to the bigger mountains from here if you must.

“We really like Spokane, which is a friendly and welcoming community. You have a variety of great things and people here instead of just mountains. I will always take sunrises and sunsets over high mountains.” 

One more 1962 Seattle fair recollection

“I remember the Bubbleator, the first and only clear, round elevator I have ever been on,” wrote Christy Himmelright.

50 years ago tonight on “Dick Van Dyke”

Casually sexist stereotyping is the order of the day in “The Curious Thing About Women.”

Apparently Laura takes the liberty of looking at Rob's mail. He gets miffed. She gets defensive. Antics ensue.

Do you remember what happens right after scene below?

This date in Slice history (1995)

Stronger than dirt: Sandy Anderson of Post Falls knew she needed a timeout when she caught herself taking clothes out of the dryer and putting them into the washing machine. “I thought, gee, these clothes are so warm,” she wrote. 

Re: “Let’s move on”

The Slice's often-used expression came in for some criticism in today's print column.

But Sandy Tarbox is among those who do not object to it.

“Screw all those people who don't want you to use your signature phrase,” she wrote. “It's the perfect polite remark for a column of often unrelated items.”  

More memories of the 1962 World’s Fair

Keith LaMotte: “I was there, September 11 — 16, as a member of the Stan Kenton Orchestra. Perfect early fall weather. We shared the billing with Vic Damone.”

Valerie Adams: “I remember the Wild Mouse rollercoaster ride with our uncle, the Belgian waffles and the fountain.”

Janet Ray: “I remember the pickle pins from the Heinz exhibit, standing in long lines for the Space Needle and a ride on the monorail where you got your hand stamped and it only showed up under a special light, a demonstration of phones where you could see who you were talking to (never thought it would happen!), and having a ride stopped to let me off because I was so scared.”

Sue Hille: “Constant search for missing family members.”

Ted Redman: “Whenever I visit Seattle and catch sight of the Space Needle,  I'm transported back to the fall of '61 when, as a UW freshman, I watched from the window of my dorm as the iconic structure was rising day by day against the city skyline.”

Chuck Young: “I was 14 years old, living in Pocatello, Idaho, and I delivered papers. The paper had a contest and those paperboys who sold the most new subscriptions won a trip to the World's Fair. The bus trip was long and the Seattle YMCA wasn't all that fancy lodging, but hey — we were all young kids and had a GREAT time.”

Janice Holcomb: “The highlight for us was seeing Ricky Nelson in concert.”

Johnny Lee Achziger: “I remember looking for my brother in the Science Center. We must have found him eventually because he's in the photo I took of the family.”

Marilyn Kile: “I don't remember much about the fair except for the Space Needle. My best recollection is the meal our hostess served the children. It included popcorn as our vegetable!”

Jane McIver: “Feeling like Judy Jetson riding the monorail.”

Midge Thorin: “I remember the fair very well. Two kids who had never been across the Mississippi River got married in Chicago in August 1962 and set off for Seattle and the fair on their honeymoon. Drove about 5,000 miles and saw lots of the West. Never dreamed that 13 years later we would move to Spokane.”

Art Anderson: “The thing that sticks most in my mind about the fair was a machine atop the Space Needle that would accept paper money and dispense change. Imagine something like that being the epitome of high tech.”

Bonnie Nelson: “I remember a stripper who could get tassles going different ways on her rear.”

Have you ever wondered…

…if you might be the only person in this neck of the woods to have visited a certain place far from here?

Me, I would nominate tiny Bagdad, Arizona. (Yes, that's how they spell it.) It's a remote copper mining camp that was the site of a high school football game I had to cover in the late 1970s.

I don't know if the situation has changed. But at the time, there was one road going to Bagdad. Once you turned off the state route, It was a desolate stretch of about 40 miles to the dreary company town.

The game was between Williams High and Bagdad High. Williams had a kid, Billy Hatcher, who would go on to be a major league baseball player. He was a running back.

Williams had another back named Jimmy Luna. I could be wrong about that first name, but Luna was definitely his last name. I remember because I told him at some point that if he had occasion to dive into the end zone in an arguably spectacular way, I could refer to it in print as him having come in for “a Luna landing.”

I can't recall his reaction. But I remember that Williams won.

Stamping on “stomping”

One of my friends on the copy desk sent me a good-natured note Friday night long after I had gone home for the day.

She mentioned that my use of “stomping grounds” in my column for Tuesday — don't get me started on my deadlines — had prompted debate among a few nightside editors.

She wrote: “A senior member of the copy desk claims the phrase is 'stamping grounds' which the dictionary agrees with but the majority of copy editors did not.”

I cherish those kinds of discussions. And I'm being totally serious when I say that I love associating with people who care about words.

The No. 1 song 40 years ago

Say what you will about this song. It wasn't just more of the same old thing.

Long ago and far away

A hundred years ago, I attended a week-long summer hockey camp at which this gentleman was one of the featured instructors. I recall that he did not overly exert himself. But he didn't actually drink beer while on the ice with his young charges.

But my expectations of the whole experience were somewhat unrealistic. For instance, I thought the gentleman below was going to don his goalie pads and let us kids take shots against him. Then we could say — assuming we got a few past him — that we had scored on an NHL netminder.

You can believe me when I tell you that did not happen. I think he wore sweats while out on the ice with us. 

Leading up to the Seattle World’s Fair

“I sat in my senior English classroom on the third floor of my high school — Go, Queen Anne Grizzlies! — and watched the Space Needle get taller and taller,” wrote Sue Kassa.

Merna Roberts shared this. “My apartment on Eastlake Avenue in Seattle gave me a complete view of the construction of the fair grounds and Space Needle. I couldn't wait to get home from work each day to check the progress.”

Ever heard of Souvenir Records?

This date in Slice history (1995)

Just wondering: What county could rightfully claim to be the Roadkill Capital of the Inland Northwest?

“America’s Sweetheart” has issues

Three concerns here.

1. It would be kind of hard to skate on just the tip of one blade.

2. The joints of the leg she has in the air seem to be producing some pretty strange angles.

3. She has it bad for some dip who appears to be amused by her impending doom?

Outfielders as grooming role models

Unlike many other Dodgers, it appears that Wally Moon did not play in Spokane. Still, there's no reason we can't enjoy this classic baseball card.

You have to assume that in our era…

…The Crescent's flag would have freaked out conspiracy theorists and others who enjoy being offended.

Reconsidering 1970s song lyrics

1. “Some people say this town don't look good in snow.” — “Ventura Highway” by America

What town don't, er, doesn't look good in snow? Fresh snow anyway.

2. “Just let your inhibitions run wild.” — “Tonight's the Night” by Rod Stewart

Seems like that actually means the opposite of what is intended.

3. “Galileo, Galileo.” — “Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen.


Did you ever see this?

How did Spokane look?

“Firebug” spelled backwards

Do you remember this campaign?

This date in Slice history (1997)

Today's Slice question: Would it be possible for you to become outrageously successful in your chosen career while still living here? 

Ground Marmot Day is coming

In fact, it is less than four weeks away.

And just to be clear, we're talking about winter-duration forecasting rodentia, not a wildlife-based hamburger substitute.

There's a new “Hog” on the weather prediction front.  

Coming in Monday’s print column

Though it involves a little kid, the first item in Monday's Slice is certain to remind some readers of this classic scene in “Five Easy Pieces.”

Are your jeans ready for action?

The whole “Casual Friday” thing has sort of faded away, but you never know when you might need to kick someone in the head over near the water fountain.

This date in Slice history (2000)

Most people in Spokane don't listen to your favorite radio station.

Limited visibility

Saw a car this morning being driven by someone who had bothered to scrape frost from only about 10 percent of the windshield.

The driver was, in effect, peering out of a little peep hole.

Submarine captains in old World War II movies could see more when looking out of their periscopes than that South Hill motorist could see out of the frosted windshield.

So here's my question: Why not take an extra minute or two and scrape the rest of the windshield?

We all know what it's like when you are running late. But c'mon. Isn't it sort of important to be able to see the road?

I suppose some drivers count on their defrosters to finish the job. But these folks are probably half way to their destinations before that happens.

If there really were such a thing as guardian angels, I'm guessing some of them would put in for a lot of overtime.   

The unspoken horror of asparagus

In your household, how is the after-effect (experienced by a segment of the population) characterized?

A) “The problem.” B) “I have no idea what you are talking about.” C) “This certainly isn't a matter any of us would wish to discuss in polite company.” D) “Urinetown.” E) “All natural.” F) “Smells like green spirit.” G) “Did you remember to leave the bathroom fan on?” H) Other.

Slice blog survey: Ever eaten lutefisk?

I did, once, about 20 years ago at a North Side lutefisk dinner.

I'm not putting down anyone's heritage when I say I found it to be awful. Just brutal. I'm talking scary bad.

Took the liberty of saying so in print. That prompted an angry call or two.

Wish I could remember what I told those readers. Should have recycled that great line from “Tootsie.”

“I begged you to get some therapy.”


Thinking of Sharks, Jets and others

When I was about 7 or 8, my teenage sister played the “West Side Story” soundtrack album something like a trillion times, give or take a few million.

Everything about that obsession was off my radar. But I guess I must have absorbed the music against my will. Because, though I've watched the movie only a time or two over the years, I pretty much know the songs by heart.

In tomorrow's print Slice, I note that, from all reports, the recent “Sound of Music” singalong was a hit. And I speculate about what other musicals might lend themselves to audience-participation here in Spokane.

In referring to “West Side Story,” I suggest it features some of the most beautiful songs ever. That's not exactly going out on a limb. But since when am I such a fan?

Maybe I have adopted that attitude to honor my sister, who died more than 10 years ago.

I wish she were still around and could go to a “West Side Story” singalong. She wouldn't have needed the subtitles.

“…Tonight, tonight

“The world is full of light…”


“…Could it be? Yes, it could.

“Something's coming, something good

“If I can wait…”


“…I've just kissed a girl named Maria,

“And suddenly I've found

“How wonderful a sound can be.”

Rate yourself (multiple choice)

How would you assess your tendency to tell the same stories over and over?

A) I can't be accused of that. B) Well, they're good stories. My problem is that I cannot remember who has heard them already. C) I don't worry about it because I don't think anyone actually listens anyway. D) Everyone I know does this. E) I believe that people learn through repetition. F) Nothing interesting has happened to me in about 25 years, so I pretty much have to rehash stuff that took place a long time ago. F) Well, I do say “Stop me if you've heard this” but I don't suppose I'm actually open to being silenced. G) No one ever gets tired of the “I've never done this before” story. H) Other.

One thing about a windy day downtown

It makes it harder to pinpoint the source of the marijuana aroma blowing in your face.

If you were to pull a “Citizen’s Ar-rest”

You know, like Gomer Pyle that time he flagged Barney for a traffic violation.

For what would you cite someone?

Me, I'd ticket people riding bikes on sidewalks in downtown Spokane.

It's a hazard to pedestrians and is a jerkwater-town behavior.

Some humor doesn’t age all that well

The same could be said of certain entertainers' fashion stylings.

The boldest name for a newspaper ever

I was looking for online images of front pages from the defunct Local Planet. And I came across this.

For a moment, I thought that main headline was the name of the publication. And I have to tell you, I was impressed.

How would angry readers address their grievances to a paper called The Local Lie?

They really couldn't, could they? They'd just have to sputter and stew.

Of course, that weekly is not really called The Local Lie.

Too bad. Think of the great slogans it could have.

“All the lies that are fit to print.”

“Tell lies and the people will find their way.”

“The only newspaper produced by people whose pants are on fire.”  

What if…

…your boss spent as much time in your home as Larry Tate did in Darrin and Samantha's house?

Suggestion from a Slice reader

A guy who informally keeps track of the comings and goings of Spokane TV news reporters said he thinks 2011 might have been a record year when it comes to turnover. So he suggested that The Slice organize a betting pool on the longevity of those on-air folks still here.

No thanks. I'm not sure that would be legal.

Besides, it is not as if the newspaper has been a bastion of stability in recent years.

Did you know that…

…TCM channel host Robert Osborne was born in Colfax?

This date in Slice history (1995)

Bob Wood was helping an extremely large elderly woman cross a street in Coeur d'Alene earlier this winter when he stepped on a frozen patch and went down hard.

The woman then fell directly on top of him, losing her artificial leg in the process.

“You almost had to see it to believe it,” said Wood, who is 70. 

You want to talk about being confused?

Try to top this.

I overheard a couple of colleagues talking and thought one had referred to long-dead rock legend Duane Allman. But the context of their coversation made that utterly baffling.

Of course, that's because they were actually talking about civic activist Duane Alton.

One more batch from

Here are some bands the site describes as 1970s Spokane groups. Any familiar faces here?

Southern Comfort



Big Fat

Northwest Sound



Orphan Annie


Season Street

Pros and cons of living in our time zone?

I'll start with a plus: You can watch most televised sports events without staying up insanely late.

All right, your turn.

Expo referred to on USSR postage stamp

My translation might be off. But I believe that says “Spokane is a center of peace and capitalist B-52s.” 

Odd but true

1. There is a Spokane High School in Missouri. They are the Owls.

2. In the 1960s, the Baltimore Colts were in the National Football League's Western Conference.

First Night vs. “Twilight Zone” marathon

Deborah Chan had some additional observations in the matter of the whole First Night vs. “Twilight Zone” marathon thing. (Saturday's print Slice.)

“When it's cold on First Night, at least you know the Earth isn't moving away from the sun.

“If you wear a mask on First Night, you don't need to worry about your face conforming to it.

“When you take the tram around on First Night, you know you haven't been taken by aliens to circle around a toy town forever (hmmm…or have you?)

“Gabriel isn't going to escort Frist Night trumpet players to Eternity.” 

What shows did you watch…

…when you weren't in school because you supposedly were sick. 

Teaching kids a valuable lesson

Often, you get what you pay for. 

50 years ago tonight on “Dick Van Dyke”

The first airing of an episode called “Where Did I Come From?”

Rob and Laura think their kid wants to know about the birds and the bees. They fret. But it turns out that wasn't really his question at all.

One more 1960s Spokane band

Ladies and gentlemen, The Gas Company.

Just wondering

If there's nothing to do in Spokane, how come one of this city's mantras is “I kind of wish I'd gone to that”?

This issue used to be a January tradition

Couldn't tell you when it comes out now. But it is displayed in stores for months.

Letters to the magazine generated by this annual feature showed us that angry mail was way more entertaining than letters of praise.

How many people here attended this?

I was just a little kid and never got within 2,500 miles of it. But a nice couple who were friends of my parents brought me some of these stamps.

The No. 1 song 50 years ago

One of the all-time great instigators of off-key sing-along attempts.

First old Spokane beer can of 2012

It's the one on the right.

Having company over for New Year’s

Slightly Hitchcockian scene at 22nd and Manito Boulevard late this morning.

Looking ahead

January 12 is the birthday of the HAL 9000 computer. What would be the best way to note the occasion?Maybe we could all call everyone “Dave” on that day. Or calmly ask our computers to open the pod bay doors. They will refuse, of course.

Annual New Year’s wager

Right about now, the grade-school son of one of my co-workers is calling my phone at the paper. He's leaving me a message that I will hear when I get to my desk Tuesday morning.

The message is usually along the lines of “I'm still up.”

No gloating. Just matter-of-fact.

Well, maybe a little gloating.

Every year, I bet him that he cannot stay up to see in the new year. And he always wins.

I'm sure he did so again this year. I'm so certain that I have already selected a coin for him. It's a gold-colored Andrew Johnson dollar.

Yes, Johnson was possibly our worst president. But if I was really a sore loser, I'd pay off in pennies.

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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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