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The Slice

Archive for July 2012

Possibly the funniest thing in the world

There's nothing quite like seeing a guy walk into a street sign or sidewalk signboard because, instead of watching where he is going, all of his attention is fixed on an attractive female in his field of vision.

This isn't a seasonal issue for easily distracted men. It can happen at any time of year. But it might be safe to say that summer certainly sees its share of walking while ogling.

Where this ceases to be amusing (I'm assuming the women in question are unaware of the staring and thus not creeped out) is when the guy is driving a car.

I once saw some genius almost drive off the road while clearly checking out a female pedestrian. Someone could have gotten hurt.

Perhaps women walk into things, too, when their minds are not on putting one foot in front of the other. But I haven't seen one lose control of a vehicle because of how some Cary Grant looked in his tank top.  

Angry feedback on Tuesday’s Slice

Got a note from Denice Lucas.

“Just read your column this a.m., and gotta tell ya — I'm really steamed and ticked off by your LIBRA prognostication!”

Twas the Night Before August

When all through the house…

(OK, feel free to pick it up from there.)

Scientology emergency

I am not knocking anyone's religion.

I'm just wondering if I am the only one who has experienced this confusion.

Here's the scenario.

You are in a room where a police/fire/EMT scanner can be heard. You hear someone say “diabetic.”

But for a fraction of a second, you think you heard “Dianetics.”  

Fecal incidents

This seems like the right season for this.

According to the SR's electronic archives, the word “fecal” has appeared in the newspaper 338 times since the summer of 1994.

The gift of booze

The only way this seems plausible is if she actually wants him to pass out, so she can grab the car keys and, uh, do an errand or two. Either that or it suggests that his sober personality leaves something to be desired.

For those who have been divorced

If the tabloid press had covered the breakup of your marriage, they would have…

A) Had a hard time finding anything all that salacious. B) Had a field day. C) Simply made an awful situation even worse. D) Had occasion to use phrases like “Love Triangle,” “Love Nest,” “Boy Toy,” “Serial Adulterer” and “The Other Woman.” E) Probably prompted me to do something that would have landed me in jail for a long time. F) Taken my side. G) Rightly portrayed one of us as unhinged. H) Described one of us as a latter day Julianne Phillips. I) Paid someone at my office for access to emails. J) Discovered that some human sadness just doesn't sell. K) Other. 

Three results of watching the Olympics

1. Desire to get in better shape.

2. Urge to play table tennis.

3. Improved skill at finding world maps on your phone.

Dog days of summer

When do you consider them to be upon us?

I always think of August. Can you believe that starts tomorrow?

Re: Your information media diet

To what extent is it determined by habit?

There's excellent stuff out there. But if checking it out doesn't become a routine it can just slip off your radar screen. What's the best way to keep that from happening?

Hair styles you don’t see in Spokane

Of course, I could be wrong. Maybe these looks are everywhere. 

Body language

Do you place an invisible asterisk next to your respect for athletes who are able to excel at the highest level in part because of a genetic gift such as unusual height, being a pixie or whatever?

(I'm not suggesting that these attributes alone make top athletes special. Not for a second. But where training and talent could make someone a great soccer player or baseball shortstop, practice alone won't equip someone to be an NBA forward or NFL tackle if he doesn't have the right body type.)    

Internet and cheating in school

Sometimes when I hear discussions of how the web makes it easy for students to cheat, I recall a high school classmate whose academic fakery might actually have been uncovered if the Internet had been around back then.

To complete an assignment for an English class, he once turned in (as a poem) the lyrics to a pop song that was already a golden oldie by that time. I can't swear to it, but I think it was “Mr. Dieingly Sad” by The Critters.

The teacher in question was someone unlikely to have total recall of minor Top 40 hits.

Don't know how many times he did this. But he probably got caught eventually. Criminals who like to blab about their exploits usually get nabbed sooner or later.

Did you notice Ronny Turiaf?

Came in this morning to find several emails from readers who spotted the former GU basketball player in the French contingent Friday night during the opening ceremonies at the Olympics.

Yes, I noticed him, too.

Agree or disagree

It is amazing when the phone rings and Caller I.D. suggests it is not a political robo-call.

Statute of limitations on travel advice

Should there be some sort of unspoken requirement that you have been somewhere in recent history before you presume to offer hints and tips to someone heading there for a visit?

Last week, a colleague headed to a small city in the Southwest where I had lived long ago asked if I had any advice.

I went out on a limb and guessed that the Grand Canyon might still be nearby. But he had already figured that out.

Just wondering

How long does it take for American TV's obsession with U.S. Olympic athletes — some of whom, if the truth were told, are not especially appealing people — to convert you into someone who occasionally roots for competitors from other countries?

Unofficial survey: Compliance with laws

It would appear that legal prohibitions have not persuaded even one driver to discontinue the practice of yakking on cell phones while behind the wheel.

Riding bikes on sidewalks in downtown Spokane remains rampant.

But it sounds like most motorists have their studded tires off.

Spokane and Seattle

If, as a Slice contributor once said, living in Seattle is like being married to a beautiful woman who is sick all the time, what is living in Spokane like?

Advice re: vacations and the afterlife

“Travelers to unknown regions would be well-advised to take along the family dog. He could just save you from entering the wrong gate. At least, it happened that way once — in a mountainous area of the Twilight Zone.”

That backwoods angel greeting the hound now lives next to Audubon Park.

Recalling the dawn of skateboarding

How long did this take to make its way up here?

(If you don't have Superman vision, the text block basically says skateboarding started in Southern California in the late '50s when kids took wheels off roller skates and nailed them onto boards.)

No. 1 song on this date in 1966

This might get stuck in my head. But I wanna know for sure.

And now, movie trivia.

How did this go over in Spokane?

Would be interesting to read transcripts of actual family conversations in Inland Northwest living rooms from when this moment at the 1968 Olympics aired on television. If such transcripts existed, I suspect they would reveal a bit of a generation gap. Among other things.

Any Idaho State grads up here?

Which of these 10 Three Dog Night songs has aged best?

1. “One.” 2. “Try A Little Tenderness.” 3. “Easy To Be Hard.” 4. “Eli's Coming.” 5.”Shambala.” 6. “Celebrate.” 7. “Mama Told Me (Not To Come).” 8. “Out In The Country.” 9. “Joy To The World.” 10. “Pieces of April.”

This date in Slice history (1996)

Warm-up question: You know how there always seems to be someone around who is cocked and ready to say “Hot? You call this hot? Why, when I lived in…we used to call this a cold snap.” Well, anyway. We know this area is populated by people who have lived pretty much everywhere. And we were wondering. Where ARE the most brutal summers?

Think of yourself as living in Northwest?

A friend who moved to the Twin Cities a few years ago to take a fabulous job has always spoken well of Minnesota.

But the other day he mentioned that he and his wife might well come back to Spokane when it's time to retire. For a variety of reasons.

“We like the Northwest,” he said.

I have been thinking about that. I know, of course, that Spokane is in the Northwest. I have seen maps.

But I wonder how many of us sometimes think of our inland stomping grounds as somehow distinct and apart from “the Northwest” and the Seattle/Portland images that label can conjure.

OK, I'm not saying that just because of wet weather, voting-pattern differences and a bigger population the West Side gets to dibs the regional name while we're left to define ourselves as some overlooked nowhere.

Nor do I believe that ignorance about our geography among those who live in other parts of the country should bully us into quietly disappearing. 

That's not my point. But you might agree that, for better or worse, things are different over here.

I doubt that anybody on the West Side refers to their region as “the Coastal Northwest.”

I guess, to stake our claim, we could stop using the clarifying “Inland.” But something tells me that would just emphasize what we already know.

When many people think of “the Northwest,” images of our area are not the first to come to mind.    

Just wondering

How many Netflix users have suspended their subscriptions for the duration of the Olympics?

Where are they now file

Is it possible to visit another city and turn on the television without seeing someone who used to work in TV news in Spokane?

Ever made a float with cherry ice cream?

Well, apparently that's not a new thing. I love that Grampa is wearing a tie to sit out in the yard.

If you grew up back East…

Which did you say: Firefly or lightning bug?

Complete this list

1. Big dogs in small wading pools.

2. Little kids with sticky faces after eating watermelon. 

3. Heat-shedding porch cats stretched out to amazing lengths.


While you’re away don’t forget to write

Have changes in communications technology altered the way college romances endure summers of separation?

Once upon a time, a boy and girl who grew close while at school had just letters and occasional phone calls to stay connected while back home (in two different places) for the summer. Oh, maybe a visit or two could be arranged. But mostly, he was here and she was there.

Now, of course, kids could text each other 100 times a day. That wouldn't necessarily ensure full disclosure about, say, summer flings. But it certainly would be different than the old model, which featured days and days of zero contact.

Rewriting the past

If you could go back and have a do-over on the 100 dumbest things you have ever said, would you do it?

If these uninformed or thoughtless statements fell under the headings of insensitivity or hurtfulness, you might be able to undo some serious wrongs.

Or if the remarks you would erase were simply moronic, you might be able to reshape and improve your standing with friends, colleagues and loved ones.

But haven't we learned from science fiction that tampering with the space/time continuum can have unintended consequences?

Maybe something you said that was blazingly stupid led to a chain of events producing an important, happy outcome? You never know.

Of course, mulling this time-travel exercise requires that a person be capable of considering that perhaps not everything he or she has uttered was brilliant. Not everyone could admit that.

This date in Slice history (1996)

Today's Slice question: How are stay-at-home dads regarded here?

7 Habits of Highly Effective Slice Haters

Tip No. 3.

When sending an email to Paul Turner urging him to commit ritual hara kiri at his earliest convenience, do not claim that you never read the column.

Plenty of people do not, in fact, read The Slice. Some of them manage to be productive citizens. But these individuals do not regularly inform Mr. Turner in great detail about why the column annoys them.

Saying that you never read it or happened by some cruel trick of fate to read it “just this once” hurts your credibility as a critic of the media.

One might ask, how did you acquire these trenchant insights about The Slice's manifold shortcomings? Did a vision come softly creeping in the night? Were you the victim of an unwelcome mind meld with a Vulcan who reads The Slice?

No, you're better off just going straight to “Drop dead!” and skipping the petulant farce.

Next: How to deal with family members who drive you crazy because they think The Slice is “OK once in a while.”

The Wednesday Slice question

Can you name the villain a Marvel superhero goes up against in an issue mentioning Spokane?

Would this really have been a headline?

This fake paper appears in a late 1959 episode of “The Twilight Zone” called “Time Enough at Last.”

Yes, I know this subject was on people's minds. But that headline seems a tad loud for a “What if…” story.

Feel free to disagree.

What to call Spokane Valley residents

There's an item in the Slice column pipeline in which a reader uses the phrase “Valley-ites” to describe residents of Spokane Valley.

That doesn't sound quite right. But what would be the preferred label?

Valleyers? Valleyians? Valleyans? Valleytonians? Valleyenos? Valleyiscans?

Bing with Glenn Miller

According to the details provided by the site credited below, this picture is from August of 1944, a few months before the band leader disappeared in bad weather over the English Channel.

Of course, he couldn't have known. But Bing almost looks as if he's already worried about the gentleman who gave us “Moonlight Serenade” and “In the Mood.”

“These things happen”

Every time someone in Spokane says that, a resume faker gets his wings.

Which is more common in Spokane?

People who could fairly be described as “a force of nature” or people who could be described as “a piece of work”?

This date in Slice history (1995)

Today's Slice question: What is something that's a social taboo elsewhere but not in Spokane?

Three reasons to miss the Seahawks

1. Back when the team held its preseason training camp in Cheney each summer, a fair number of local NFL fans enjoyed going out to watch very large men sweat.

2. Economic impact.

3. Eventually HBO's “Hard Knocks” series would have come to Cheney to profile the Seahawks and there almost certainly would have been some entertaining Spokane bashing and film footage of contract holdouts arriving at Spokane International Airport.

This date in Slice history (1995)

Last word on flipping off: “The thing is, a lot of the people it happens to, they deserve it,” said Craig Casey.

Reasons these shows were not set here

“Lucy”: Shortage of nightclubs featuring Cuban music.

“Andy Griffith Show”: Citizens here would not have tolerated Andy not carrying a gun.

“Beverly Hillbillies”: Shortage of swimming pools, movie stars.

“Bewitched”: Viewers would have wondered why Spokane is being portrayed as the center of the advertising industry.

“Dick Van Dyke Show”: Backside-cupping Capri pants were illegal here at that time. 

“Green Acres”: Spokane is too urban.

“Hogan's Heroes”: Too far from the Russian front.

“That Girl”: There has never been anyone named Donald living here.

“Ozzie & Harriet”: The Nelson family owned zero winter apparel.

“Donna Reed Show”: It wouldn't have been as effective to have members of the Los Angeles Dodgers appearing on the show if Donna had to keep asking them why they had been sent down to the minors.

What if Tiberius was your middle name?

How might your life have been different?

James T. Kirk

No. 1 song on this date in 1974

He would be at Expo '74 about a month after this hit No. 1.

How low can you go

Keith Bromley sent this email Monday.

“Mr. Turner,

“I see that the forecast low for here in Moscow tonight is 43 degrees — a mere 11 degree cushion from freezing. Not comforting to us who live in low-lying areas and frost pockets.

“So I have a question. If it were to freeze on the 24th of July, would that count as the last frost of spring or the first frost of fall?”  

Kill the wabbit, kill the wabbit

This coming Sept. 21 will be the centennial of the birth of Chuck Jones.

As you know, he was born in Spokane.

What would you change in this scene?

To improve the moment.

Nixon before Watergate and Expo

How that's for ludicrous localizing?

This was July 24, 1969.

Everything was A-OK. For the moment.

When misdelivered mail is no big deal

My wife and I have had a P.O. box downtown for about 15 years.

It was our answer to a war of nerves with a mail carrier who didn't seem especially interested in delivering the mail. Ancient history.

Anyway, today I was coming back into the office after my annual summertime lunch with a friend who moved to Minnesota about three years ago but still has a place here.

Newsroom administrator Mary Beth Donelan held up an envelope that had been delivered to the SR's P.O. box. She wondered if it might actually be intended for my wife, who does not work for the newspaper.

As usual, MB was right.

Correctly addressed to my wife at our personal P.O. box number, it was a check from a guy in Chicago for whom she had done some work. Perhaps because the sender included “Editorial services” in the address, the good folks across the street assumed it was mail for the newspaper.

Nope. But all's well that ends well. 

Backyard carnage

Referring to something in today's Slice column, Don Hartvigsen wrote “Be careful what you wish for” in the subject line of his email.

“We were wishing the other day that we did not have so many squirrels in our yard,” he wrote. “Well, recently we had 'new neighbors' move in, several Cooper's hawks.

“We soon began finding squirrel skeletons in the yard, pcked clean. We also noticed we no longer have our dear quail families, only daily piles of blue-gray feathers.

“And this morning while reading The Slice, I heard a small song bird in distress on our patio. I looked out the kitchen window and saw the Cooper's hawk perched on a patio chair 10 feet from the door. The song bird was cowering in a forsythia bush next to the door.

“I wish I hadn't wished for less squirrels.”

Classic Coug

The Jim Thorpe cartoon suggests that, despite evidence to the contrary, we really have made some progress.

Raccoon slang

A person could spend quite a long time studying this poster and still be puzzled about some of what's on here. Ethnic slur and all.

I happened onto this while searching for a picture of a building I might use to illustrate a question.

If a building on a college campus somewhere were named after you, what sort of building would it be?   

Sometimes it turns out that I was right

Back in the early or mid 1990s, the subject of the Seattle Pilots came up in The Slice. In response, a reader mailed me a ticket from that short-lived team's first home game.

I cannot remember if it was a ticket stub or the whole ducat. In any case, it was an interesting souvenir — especially for those who read Jim Bouton's “Ball Four.”

I mailed it back to the reader, advising him that it might be worth something one day.

And just this morning I noticed that one was being sold on eBay. The asking price was $245.   

Battle of the 1982 albums

Which of these would be your top two?

Other people’s vacation plans

You know how it is.

Sometimes when people share their plans for summer travel, it sounds like a fun trip. Other times, not so much.

But this morning, while listening to the woman who has been giving me haircuts since Tom Foley was Speaker of the House, I heard about a vacation trip for which I'm ready to sign up.

She and her family are going down to scope out the big trees in northern California. They will do lots of other stuff, too. But the trees are what interested me. I've always wanted to see them.

Have you?

What did you think? 

One small reason to welcome weekend

Not everyone works Monday through Friday.

And not everyone has a desk job.

But for some of those who do, the arrival of the weekend marks a welcome respite from a mildly frustrating seasonal scenario.

That is, trying to reach people via email and getting the out-of-office bounce-back. Over and over. 

Of course, you could argue that's better than being clueless about why you aren't hearing back from anyone.

If I got hit by lightning on my ride home

How would the SR play the story?

I suppose it would depend on whether I survived. And, of course, what kind of news day it had been.

Was just discussing this question with colleagues, after one advised me not to get struck by a bolt from the sky this afternoon.

Anyway, I'll send a coveted reporter's notebook to the reader who comes up with the best imitation of a nasty comment that one of my non-fans might attach to the online version of the story reporting my mishap.

You know: “Never liked him. Served him right for riding a bike.” — Muchbrain69

“He deserved it for having a job he loved and for getting attention that should have been lavished on me because I am an angry but unrecognized genius.” — Braveheart22

“Boring.” — sagesuck03

OK, your turn. 

The problem with white tank tops

That's just one of the issues addressed in Saturday's Slice column.

Friday Slice quiz

In “No Time for Sergeants,” country boy Will Stockdale is brought to town to be sent off with a group of recently drafted young men. What is the name of that town?

A) Hot Coffee, Mississippi. B) Colville, Washington. C) Truth or Consequences, New Mexico. D) Cabot Cove, Maine. E) Callville, Georgia. F) Hooterville, Iowa. G) Nutbush, Tennessee. H) Kingman, Arizona.

Not a fan of the University of Oregon

Was picking up a couple of prescriptions this morning.

The pharmacist, a nice young guy, was someone I had not seen before. I think his name tag said his name is Darin.

I asked him if he had gone to WSU. Many of the pharmacists I enounter did.

“No,” he said. “U-Dub.”

Thinking of all those WSU-trained pharmacists here, I nodded and said he must find himself surrounded by Cougs.

“That's OK,” he said, smiling. “As long as they're not Ducks.”

What do you think of emailing condolences?

I have mixed feelings. But I think a case could be made for it, in certain circumstances.

C’mon, get happy

Which was the biggest plausibility problem for “The Partridge Family”?

A) Gas mileage re: That bus. B) The younger kids' musical contributions. C) Susan Dey was too cute to be believed. D) The whole “mom is in the band” thing. E) The fact that Keith was not constantly getting beat up. F) Danny Bonaduce looking more like a troll doll than a real kid. G) The manager mostly seeming oblivious to the appeal of Shirley Jones. H) Toxic saturation of bell bottoms. I) Other.

Staying power

Glanced up at the marquee at The Bing this morning on my way to the bike pen behind the Review Tower.

John Mayall is playing there Sunday.

How long has he been at it? I'll tell you.

When I was in high school in the early 1970s, a classmate I regarded as being pretty cool was a John Mayall fan. 

If you were trying to amuse grandkids

Which of these expressions would you randomly employ?

A) “If you dare.” B) “That's not how they do it on the South Hill.” C) “Tell it to Katie Utehs.” D) “Practically perfect.” E) “Tell it to the Police Guild.” F) “You're going to wind up with a neck tattoo and in that Meghann Cuniff's blog.” G) “I'll give you something to cry about.” H) “It's not my fault. I smoked a lot of dope and it made me an underachiever.” I) “Just don't tell your mother.” J) Other.

Discuss among yourselves

Spokane's influences on the 1986 film “Blue Velvet.”

(Remembering, of course, that director David Lynch lived here for a time as a child.) 

Just wondering

Perhaps you have come across this quote.

“An immaculate house is a sign of a wasted life.”

Here's my question.

What percentage of the people in your extended family/social circle would suddenly decide to hate your guts if you said that in their presence?

Looking up at the night sky would never have been the same

If they hadn't been able to fire that up and start the journey home.

Thumbs up or thumbs down?

Don't think I have had one of these since before high-fructose corn syrup. But I seem to recall it was good.

Woman born in N. Idaho on mag cover

Of course, Lana Turner was on many, many covers of publications of this ilk.

That's pretty darned close to illegal use of hands there, Mr. Garfield. 

A lesser anniversary on the near horizon

Yes, there's the 1969 moon landing anniversary tomorrow.

And then there's this. As I have noted a time or two, this was in 1988. Extra credit if you can name the two SR reporters who covered it.

Agree or disagree

Just about everyone's “My worst sunburn” story is pretty entertaining.

I happen to think that is true.

Tell me yours and I'll tell you mine.

How did you react to “Up With People”?

As I recall, there was no middle ground. Reactions were 100 percent polarized.

Cookies are for closers

Has anyone written a parenting book based on the lessons and sayings of “Glengarry Glen Ross”?

“Ends in stabbing” in SR headlines

Seeing one of those headlines on the newspaper's website this morning made me wonder.

How many SR headlines have included the wording “ends in stabbling”?

Not so many as you might suspect.

In fact, in searching our electronic archives, I could find just four in the past 15 years.

Of course, that was just looking at print editions and considering only local news stories.

More significantly, that counts only headlines with the exact wording “ends in stabbing.” Certainly many other stories about local stabbings had headlines with different wording.

After all, sometimes the stabbing is not the end but is just the start of another Lilac City adventure. 

Localize “The Graduate” in 6 easy steps

1. Have Ben and Elaine live in Spokane.

2. Have Elaine go to school at U-Dub.

3. Instead of at the Taft Hotel, have Ben and Mrs. Robinson get together at The Davenport.

4. Keep the Simon and Garfunkel soundtrack.

5. Set Elaine's aborted wedding at the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist and then have Ben and Elaine jump on an STA bus.

6. At that party early in the movie, instead of having that guy say “Plastics” to Ben, have him say “Assisted living.”

OK, what did I forget?

Wednesday Slice question

When you hear people talk about their childhood summer vacation trips, what goes through your mind?

A) I try to picture my parents camping at a national park and start laughing. B) I recall that 100 percent of our summer trips involved going to stay with my grandparents. C) It sounds like everybody else was living an episode of “The Wonder Years” while we were busy worrying about money and an iffy fan belt. D) I recall, with chilling clarity, hearing the words “You'll just have to hold it.” E) I find myself wishing they could have had as much fun as we did. F) I remember how, when my parents were fighting, I used to fantasize about running off and asking a family of grizzlies if they would adopt me. G) I try to recall our summer trip to Wally World. H) “See Rock City.” I) Other.    

This isn’t really a put-down

I have come across more than a few people over the years who regard Spokane as the second-best place they have ever called home.

And these are not people who have just lived in two places.

When I have brought that up in the past, some listeners have gotten defensive and wondered why those individuals don't move back to their respective No. 1 cities.

Answers vary. Sometimes it is a matter of family circumstances. Sometimes it has to do with a job. Others could not afford to live there anymore. And once in a while people are willing to admit that maybe living in, say, the beloved college town of memory would not be idyllic today.

This city-ranking business is pretty subjective, of course. Different places have different sets of attributes and challenges. And the stage of your life experienced there can seriously influence your recollections.

Maybe it is disloyal to Spokane to say that the Lilac City isn't your lifetime No. 1. I don't know.

But perhaps it's just realistic.

Some people here act like Spokane is the worst place in the West. Others pretend it is practically perfect.

You know neither is true.


You don’t want this stuck in your head

Sorry. I guess that was a pretty ineffective warning.

Ladies and gentlemen, the No. 1 song on this date in 1976.

One way to purge this is to start humming “Third Rate Romance.”

Agree or disagree

July is mostly about condiments.

If you wore one of these to work

What would people say?

A) “I see that, once again, you are straining to be seen as a quirky character.” B) “Are we to genuflect before this symbol of the sacred baby boomer childhood?” C) “What's that smell?” D) “Oh, that's right. You were born on a mountaintop in Tennessee.” E) “Did you join the Khaki Scouts?” F) “Did Ralph Kramden and Ed Norton invite you to join their lodge?” G) NA/I'm retired or work from home. H) Other.

1 in 4* believe this is Spokane’s location

* Imaginary survey of those American adults who have heard of Spokane and know that it is in Washington.

Did you say “crawfish” or “crayfish”?

As no one where I lived ever considered eating them, I cannot remember what the point of catching them was. But catch them, we did.

Did this chain exist where you grew up?

If I were to tell you how many Burger Chef cheeseburgers my brother could eat, you would have little choice but to assume that I am exaggerating.

The classic combo: Cowgirls and beer

To find out about the artist, do a search on Ren Wicks. 

Speaking truth to stupid

The “WALK” sign flashed and I stepped off a curb downtown yesterday and almost walked into a bike rider who had zoomed through the light.

It happened so fast I didn't have time to offer the cyclist a candid suggestion about how he might improve himself. And that's too bad, because I really feel bike riders such as myself have a special obligation to counsel the idiots in our ranks.

No, I don't think it does much good. But you have to make the effort.

Though when two-wheel morons are zipping past they probably would not hear you say, “Boneheaded stunts like that make it easy for some people to hate us all.”

Inland Northwest “Taxi Driver” quiz

How many guys like Travis Bickle live in the Inland Northwest?

A) Lots. B) Who is Travis Bickle? C) Travis Bickle was a hero. D) More than you want to know about. E) How am I supposed to remember a movie from 1976? F) In terms of being unhinged and owning a bunch of guns, plenty. G) You talkin' to me? H) Other.

Top 3 signs you have an early bedtime

1. As you put your head against the pillow, you can hear lawn-mowing.

2. You can hear an ice cream truck.

3. A neighbor kids is ringing the bell on his trike on the sidewalk outside your bedroom window.

Reasons to not see movies in theaters

Which would you cite?

A) Price. B) Don't like having commercials blasted in my face while I wait. C) I'll be able to see it at home soon enough. D) Other moviegoers. E) Nothing I want to see actually shows up in theaters here. F) Previews of coming attractions are depressing. G) Still baffled by River Park Square elevators floor-codes. H) Can't pause or rewind. I) The music they play before the show makes me want to harm myself and others. J) Other.

A former manager of Spokane Indians

Ozark managed the Indians in 1963 and 1964.

Thanks to Newport's Dorothy Bernard for bringing this to my attention. 

Annual endorsement of “The Dish”

I double-dog dare anyone to not be charmed by the quirky 2000 set-in-Australia Apollo 11 movie, “The Dish.”

This date in Slice history (1996)

All office workers have at least one thing in their desks that would be a source of embarrassment if discovered by others.

Mixed feelings

I would recommend tracking down a long Washington Post feature story by the great Gene Weingarten on small children accidentally getting left in hot cars. It was written a few years ago. It is stunningly good.

But there is an image in that piece that is so disturbing, so haunting, that I am not sure I would feel right about having a role in placing it in your head.

It's not presented in a sensational way. It is quite matter of fact, almost noted in passing. Still, I know I will never forget it.

Sun dodgers

We all know there are people who make a point of declaring that they never go downtown.

Suit yourself, I say.

But they are missing out on something.

No, I'm not talking about the various public events or cultural offerings. I'm thinking of the shade.

Downtown Spokane has to have this area's most complex lattice of sun-blocking objects. Some big, some small. And, of course, the angles are ever changing.

Makes going for a walk slightly more interesting..

This date in Slice history (2000)

New name: A friend's reference to the south of France gave Darla DeCristoforo an idea.

Forget the “North Idaho” vs. “northern Idaho” debate, she thought. Instead, let's start calling the region “the north of Idaho.”

Proposed local good-luck superstition

It's good luck to pat a white dog on the head three times.

Why do mosquitoes single you out?

A) They don't really. It just seems that way. B) Subtle variations in body chemistry. C) You are extra sweet and juicy. D) You have been drinking tranya. E) Your blood is high octane. F) To pay you back for all your insipid pronouncements about energy policy. “Hey, I gotcher 'Drill Baby, Drill' right here, pal.” G) Someone close to you revealed your whereabouts as part of a plea bargain. H) Rumors about your blood alcohol level. I) Other.  

Just wondering

Do you have a hard time recognizing even people you know well if they are wearing sunglasses?

How to make other reporters hate you

Yeah, forget about everyone else's work. None of that was real news.

Readers’ postcards, Round 1

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These folks are all home now. But here are some cards they sent while away..

What would you say to Ringo?

A) Did you root for Liverpool or for Everton? B) Remember when you were in the Beatles? C) Did you ever buy that hair styling salon? D) Are you a mod or a rocker? E) What did you think of Bing Crosby? F) Thank you. G) Other.

A Google search for “Spokane zipper”

Brings up this as one of the images. (Did not include quote marks in actual image search.)

“Most Helpful Reporter” meets her fate

I wonder how often this happens to women at the SR or at Spokane's TV news operations.

1. That's quite the yellow outfit Lois is wearing.

2. Would a door really say “Daily Planet Office”?

Two schools of thought

There used to be a fairly high-up editor at the SR named Scott Sines who somehow got it in his head that I had gone to Penn State as a college student.

I have no idea how he arrived at that erroneous conclusion. My mother was born in Philadelphia, but that's pretty much the extent of my Pennsylvania connections.

Anyway, that editor has long since moved on. And I am quite sure I never cross his mind.

But if by some chance he did happen to think of me, I wonder if he would be curious about whether I make alum donations to PSU and how I reacted to the scandal at that school.

Well, here's my policy on that.

I wish I had been a big contributor in the past so that I could now slash my annual giving to zero and keep it at that level until heads roll.    

A Slice classic

Here's one from Feb. 13, 2001.


A woman came into an Alton's Tire Center with an unusual request.

It seems a pregnant co-worker was craving the smell of new tires. Could they help her?

Alton's employee Harold Garwood went into action. He selected a couple of high performance radials and took them to the pregnant woman's office, not far away on East Sprague.

While she was away from her desk, the tires were placed near her work station. And when she got back, she got to take a nice long whiff of the scent she had been yearning to smell.

The tires remained there by her desk and computer for several weeks. Last week, Garwood replaced them with a fresh pair.

Now Garwood doesn't pretend to be a connoisseur of new-tire smell. He doesn't tout the piquant aroma of a certain 20,000-mile all-seasons number or extoll the heady nose experience offered by an unassuming little sidewall.

“I'm around it so much, I don't notice it,” he said.

But he does know something about public relations.

As for the pregnant woman, well, she's got a few weeks to go. And as long as she wants to be able to sniff new tires, Garwood intends to keep her supplied.

Maybe she should name the baby Traction or Steel Belt.

Wanting to have it both ways

I would love to read a transcript of the editor's meeting that led to this July 10, 1970 Life cover.

But it doesn't take much imagination to guess.

“Look, Bob, if we use Cambodia art, newsstand sales will go right in the toilet.”

“Angels, you’re going undercover”

Seeing that Cheryl Ladd turns 61 today reminded me that a former colleague of mine, Heather Lalley, had a cat named Kate Jackson.

Naturally, that led to wondering…

If the “Charlie's Angels” team had been assigned to fight crime in the Spokane area, what would they have tackled first?

A) Happy endings massage parlors. B) Other.   

Haunted by nightmarish auto AC

Maybe it is no longer true.

Perhaps vehicles such as the ones that shaped my perspective on this are no longer on the road. May they rest in peace.

But once it was a sign that you had arrived at a certain station in life if your car had air-conditioning that worked easily and efficiently. By that I mean AC that, when switched on, did not cause the vehicle to sputter and lurch as if the engine had suddenly been deprived of fuel. I mean AC that, when switched on, did not create sounds that reminded you of movie scenes featuring B-17s with two engines on fire and a third loudly grinding to a halt.

Once you have owned a car like that, it takes a while to become accustomed to smoothly functioning auto air-conditioning. About 30 years, by my latest reckoning. 

When going to an A&W was a big deal

For me, that would have been in the mid-1960s, when I was kid.


That was back when the chain apparently put some sort of narcotics in the root beer and chili dogs. Not sure how else to explain how buzzed I would get about visiting a fast food place.

Would you rather be here?

A) No, that's from 1961 and I was 6 years old. B) Not if I had to drink Schlitz. C) Not really. I'm a straight woman. D) Yes. E) Other.

True or false

Spokane is home to a fairly amazing number of people who once saw themselves as part of the counterculture but now play golf.

Just wondering

Did you ever think you would grow up to be someone who cared about how the yard looks?

The Wednesday Slice question

Today's Slice question: Which of these lines uttered by movie characters played by Charlton Heston would you most expect to overhear someone in Spokane say?

A) “All border towns bring out the worst in a country.” B) “Oh, there were women. Lots of women. Lots of love-making, but no love.” C) “It's people. Soylent Green is made out of people.” D) “We keep you alive to serve this ship. Row well, and live.” E) “Does your god live on this mountain?” F) “They've taken the bait, Sir. It's Midway.” G) “I don't know that I would wear that hat too long around here, Mr. McKay.” H) “It's a madhouse. A madhouse!”

Clark Kent’s performance evaluation

“Kent consistently fails to inform the desk of what he's working on, where he has been, where he is going and why in hell we are supposed to trust his stories when no one has ever seen him taking notes.”

When visiting the Tacoma-Spokane area

I might have used this last year. I can't remember. But every time I see this old road map I get a kick out of that wandering hyphen.

Space Filler Theater

You say you have time to waste?

Well, here's a reader challenge for you.

Try to come up with a brief, coherent set of rules for a drinking game based on The Spokesman-Review's 2012 editorial page endorsements of national and local political candidates.

I know those endorsements have not come out yet. The idea here is to have the game ready to play beforehand.

Another all-star who played in Spokane

Kinsler played for the Spokane Indians in 2003.

Another vintage beer can from Spokane

This is a different picture/different can than originally posted here. But it is also a conetop. 

Frank Jr. at Fairchild NCO club in 1971

Bookings must have been a tad lean for the legend's son.

You say this reminds you of a scene in “This is Spinal Tap”? You are not alone.

Remembering an all-star game highlight

The great thing about baseball's all-star game is that the competition resembles actual baseball. Unlike the farcical exhibitions in football, hockey and (to a slightly lesser degree) basketball, baseball's all-star game isn't some warped version of the sport.

One memorable moment from these annual National League vs. American League matchups took place during the television broadcast of the 1968 game at Houston's Astrodome.

Houston, as you might recall, was a leading center for innovative cardiac surgery at that time.

Anyway, American League first baseman Harmon Killebrew (born in Idaho) hurt himself while doing the splits to make a defensive play. He went down and stayed down.

The announcers referred to him probably having suffered a groin injury.

Now we all know that while it actually refers to the web of muscle and connective tissue where the legs join the torso, some people — sports announcers included — say “groin” and mean “genitals.”

So as trainers and medical staff attended to the injured Killebrew out on the field, a broadcast microphone picked up the sound of a fan shouting a suggestion.

“Give him a transplant!”

I thought my brother would never stop laughing.

The smell test

I have only circumstantial evidence to go on.

But I would bet that at least a few Spokane pets got sprayed by skunks last night.

Why is she so happy?

A) That's how you feel when you think young. B) She is being paid for being pretty. C) It's only 1961. The Cold War wouldn't get really scary for another year. D) She finally got a fingernail on the popcorn shard that was driving her crazy. E) Other.

I feel asleep at the drive-in during this

I was a little kid. My friend Bruce Larson and I had gone with our big sisters, who happened to be about 10 years older than us. I think that night's first feature was an Elvis movie. Did you ever conk out at the drive-in?

Multiple-choice quiz

In biker movies from decades ago, what was usually the cause of tension when rival gangs clashed?

A) Some guy named Chino felt disrespected. B) Narcotics turf. C) Some chick named Poodle felt disrespected. D) Societal alienation. E) Hard to say really. F) Whattaya got? G) Religious differences. H) Trade tariffs. I) Other. 

The seasonal indicator purchase

Check out my theory in Tuesday's Slice column.

Looking ahead to Friday the 13th

Can you name the born-in-Spokane actor appearing in the above film?

Thinking about backyard ice skating

Several years ago during winter, a half dozen or so readers were kind enough to invite me to come skate on their backyard ice rinks.

One of my hosts noted that my hopscotching visits reminded him of “The Swimmer.”

In that John Cheever story and a movie based on it, a troubled suburbanite declares his intention to swim home by going pool by pool.

That came to mind because I was thinking about swimming pools. But it was a happy reverie to flash back to cooling memories of those Spokane ice rinks.

If you added “care” to your last name

What sort of program would that describe? What kinds of care would be offered?

(I'm stealing this from a former colleague, who might well have stolen it from someone else.)

Just wondering

What did people do back before the news media reminded everyone to stay hydrated on hot days by drinking a lot of water?

I guess everyone must have died.

Great minds

If you have a copy of today's print edition handy, check out the way three of the four stories on the front page begin.

I can't claim that I noticed this. But my early-shift colleague Alison Boggs is wide awake already.

Cutting neighbors some slack

I don't know how many people actually mow lawns on Mondays.

People on vacation? Retirees? People who were away all weekend?

But you can't blame someone for wanting to get at it early today.

Ordinarily you might have a beef about the sound of a mower interrupting the morning quiet. If it's super early, I mean.

But today, maybe it's understandable.

Of course, another option is to let the grass go a few days and see if life as we know it is able to continue.  

Former Spokane Indian now MLB all-star

He played for Spokane way back in 1996.

No. 1 song on the date in 1965

I have a memory of being in the car with my mother and significantly older sister when this was on the radio. We discussed the meaning of the lyrics. My sister assured us that they were quite risque. Can't remember what my mother said. She probably wished the Big Band era had never ended.

Just wondering

Do you know people who are so competitive about being busy that they probably spend most of their vacation talking about how they don't really have time to be taking a vacation?  

Disliking “Benny & Joon” for 19 years

The kick of seeing all the Spokane settings notwithstanding, I've never been able to watch 1993's “Benny & Joon” all the way through. Not in one sitting anyway.

I find it annoying. You are welcome to disagree.

I've probably seen it all by now. But that took multiple 10-minute viewing sessions over the years.

Still, I never fail to marvel at the amazing number of recognizable performers in this movie. I watched it for a few minutes this morning on some cable channel. And had the usual reaction.

What a waste of talent. 

When women change their hair color

One thing you might want to avoid saying is “Wow, you've really gone from Samantha to Serena.”

The woman in question might not be totally familiar with “Bewitched.” Or, if the woman is someone you do not know well, she may simply misinterpret what you are saying.

I used to think showing interest in women's hair was a winning strategy because, often, it's something they really care about themselves. But it's a minefield, my friends.

Here’s an unusual off-season occupation

See the cartoon.


You have probably stopped rockin’

If you are old enough to remember the TV commercials featuring the immortal line “Mother, please! I'd rather do it myself!”

No. 1 song on this date in 1969

I might have mentioned this last summer. But I couldn't resist risking a repeat because I sort of enjoy witnessing the intensity of some people's disdain for this song.

Just wondering

Did you cross paths with “The Far Side” creator Gary Larson when he was a student at WSU? How about Tom Tuttle?

Seemingly suicidal Spokane squirrels

I have to say, throwing yourself in front of a slow-moving bicycle is a pretty poor strategy for ending it all.

Fortunately, it did not work in either of two instances today on my ride home. I missed them.

Maybe things will look brighter to those two rodents in the morning.

But perhaps I have it all wrong. Maybe those squirrels were simply playing, in the words of a great “Far Side” cartoon, “Rusty's in the club!”

Lakes that look like they are near here

But aren't.

That's Lake George in New York above, and New Hampshire's Newfound Lake below.

If A therefore B

We all know that many people in the Spokane area crave hot weather.

And those temperatures are said to be on their way.

So does it therefore follow that Spokane, not Disneyland, is about to be the happiest place on Earth?

People here are about to get what they say they want, after all. Shouldn't we expect them to be blissed out?

Or does this yearning for sizzling temps only apply if the person in question is engaged in water recreation?

Maybe it's not all that swell if you are taking part in those pursuits that do not involve swimming or boating.

“Woo-hoo! It's going to be 98 and I'm going to be stuck in traffic in a car that doesn't have AC on my way to a job at an office with stagnant air! Par-tay!”

Of course, many here have been brainwashed into believing that everyone spends virtually every summertime moment in the throes of lake-based frolic.

Pay no attention to those actual population/leisure activities statistics behind the curtain.

If you had to guess

What's going to lead to them breaking up?

A) It was a case of Dr. Jerkyl and Mr. Hands. B) Her taste in music. C) Her unwillingness to take a chance on getting pregnant. D) His hair. E) Her falling for someone who drank Pepsi. F) Politics. G) Other.

Porn-watchers masturbating in libraries

When they are in graduate school, are future librarians told that — if they wind up working in public libraries — policing self-gratification will be one of their duties?

Helicopter an unwelcome presence

A friend says a helicopter hovering over the park during the fireworks in downtown Spokane Wednesday night got to be really annoying.

He said he likes a moment of quiet between the colorful explosions. You know, for dramatic tension. But with the chopper overhead, silence was never part of the spectacle.

If you got to make the rules

Who would have a riding mower and who would not?

Looking ahead to the hot weather

Three questions come to mind.

1. What is your favorite hot-weather scene in a movie?

2. If you have a cat, how much can it stretch out to spill heat?

3. Ever assumed the lake water would have warmed up and then, only after jumping in, discovered that it was still pretty darned cold?

Were you ever into these?

I was. Can't remember how old I was. But I used to really enjoy these spot-the-differences cartoons. 

Press Releases I Stopped Reading Dept.

The email came from Ascot Media Group in The Woodlands, Texas.

It's pretty long. But here's how it began.

“Dear Paul Turner:

“Who doesn't love celebrity weddings?”

Have you noticed this?

Avoiding information has gotten way, way harder.

At least that's true if you spend any time online. And if you are reading this, I guess that would include you.

Each evening during the Tour de France, my wife and I typically fast-forward through that day's TV race coverage recorded earlier.

It's more interesting if you do not know who won that day's stage. But because we spend a lot of time on computers and visit countless web sites, we're both vulnerable to seeing all sorts of news updates. flash alerts and pop-up bulletins.

By the time you realize what you are reading, it's too late to look away. 

This date in Slice history (1995)

Today's Slice question: How many Spokane residents will violate fireworks restrictions today?

On this date at Expo 74

Liberace. Not Blatz.

Building the perfect male body

If you had a guy with the arms and shoulders of an Olympic gymnast and welded on the legs of a Tour de France cyclist, all you'd need after that is a cape.

Do you have a Barb Chamberlain story?

She is leaving Spokane to take an exciting new job. She will be executive director of the Bicycle Alliance of Washington.

Back to school

I'm all for being honest with children.

But maybe there are still a few things that should be kept from them. Take, for instance, the fact that it's not even the 4th of July yet and marketing and PR people are sending out press releases that begin like this:

“Hi Paul,

“I know most newspapers are already drawing up back-to-school buying guides, and I wanted to reach out and let you know about this new product for children.”

It goes on to talk about a line of backpacks. One of them comes with a built-in blanket, which I am sure some kids would need if they knew the words “back to school” were already being uttered.

This date in Slice history (1999)

The way some locals act, you'd think it cost $100 a day to park at the airport.

Recalling a lesser road-trip horror

If you are a male of a certain age, you might remember those cloth hand-drying towels in public men's rooms.

Hung from a wall mount in a loose spool, they could get so hideously grimy that one question had to be asked: If you are going to bother to wash your hands, why would you even consider touching that foul rag?

Even those laughably ineffective air-dryers were 100 times better. They didn't actually do much to dry your hands but at least you weren't apt to wind up on a CDC report. 

Don't know if women's restrooms also had the cloth o' doom. Maybe they had paper towels. But if they did have the share-cloth, I suspect their communal towel looked less like it had been used during an oil change. Or worse.

Shop at the Al’s at 37th and Grand?

If so, you might want to know that the 4th of July is Darlene the checker's last day.

She will be missed.

A car full of felines

Ellen Sherriffs read Mike Prager's story in the Sunday paper about local animal control officials not having to snuff out quite so many unwanted cats and dogs. And SCRAPS director Nancy Hill's anecdote about transporting felines to the West Side had her wondering.

“The news from our local animal shelters is fantastic, but I've been chortling all afternoon about 48 cats heading to Seattle in a Subaru Forester.  Which cat gets to drive? The one with a license? Are there enough seat belts for everyone? Do they stop at Ivar's or The Crab Shack first? What would make the driver threaten 'Don't make me stop this car!' Do they have fights in the back seat too? 'He's breathing on me and it smells like tuna!' 'His tail's on my side!' 'Fluffy's gonna have a hair ball!'” 

Tour de France vs. bicycle commuting

Judging from what I have seen on TV, there appear to be two basic differences.

1. Bike commuters are not followed by a support team.

2. Tour riders are allowed to take a “natural break” when the need arises.

Recalling the Think system

The movie version of “The Music Man” came out 50 summers ago.

Multiple choice

When you are purchasing a newspaper or magazine and the cashier holds it up and makes some comment about one of the stories that reflects an opinion/attitude you do not share, what do you do?

A) Say nothing. Don't care what cashier thinks. Just want to get out of there. B) I say “I disagree” but pursue it no further. C) Ask the cashier how he or she arrived at the apparent conclusion that everyone thinks the same way. D) Usually ignore it, but if it pertains to, say, some household-level environmental policy, I might say: “I don't think it's silly at all. If everyone cleaned up his act just a little bit, it would have a big impact. Does it bother you to confront the fact that other people are capable of challenging themselves to be better and you are not?” E) “First time seeing a newspaper?” F) Other. 

This date in Slice history (1999)

Sayings that should be on buttons or bumper stickers:

“Don't flatter yourself — I was staring at your dog.”

“Ex-Californians aren't the problem — you are.”

“I live in North Idaho and acknowledge the federal government.”

“My other car is a heap so I legally registered it in Washington.”

“Nobody on my Hoopfest team was a jerk.”

“Refusing to let Spokane news media shape my reality.”

“Decode fictions that shape Spokane's image.”

“Get that zucchini away from me.”

To the list of Spokane mentions add…

A couple in tonight's episode of HBO's new show “The Newsroom.”

The reference was to a story by the alternative weekly, the Pacific Northwest Insider.

The name of the city was pronounced correctly, I might add.

Your chance to win is in today’s Slice

The ones I send out don't look exactly like this, but they do say “Reporter's notebook.”

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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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