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The Slice

Archive for June 2012

List the problems here

The great 1968 play at the plate

Passed by a Spokane ball field and one of the kids there reminded me of my junior high friend, Ron Catallo.

Ron was bright and funny. He was one of Michigan's most animated second-guessers of Detroit Tigers manager Mayo Smith. And as boys that age have been known to do, he was willing to privately express his admiration for certain slightly older girls in startlingly frank terms. That never failed to be entertaining.

Though Ron was not a great athlete, he was friends with quite a few of the jocks at our school. Occasionally he would get kidded about walking around with the thickest wallet on the Upper Peninsula. It created a genuine back-pocket bulge. I don't remember how he defended this practice. I just know he was not concerned about presenting a sleek butt silhouette.

My favorite memory of him is from a pick-up baseball game. I don't know if we had actually assembled 18 players. But if we didn't have two full teams, it was close. There were no adults involved.

Ron managed to get on base. And though I cannot recall exactly the subsequent sequence of events, I have a clear image of him, a couple of batters later, rounding third and heading for home.

He was not a fast runner, so it's not my imagination that makes it seem as if that happened in slow motion.

Anyway, the kid in the outfield who picked up the ball made one hell of a throw. It's odd that I cannot remember who that was, because he had a serious arm.

As Ron chugged toward home, teammates yelled “Slide!” (He didn't.)

Others were jumping and waving their arms.

Would he make it? Would the throw get there first?

It seemed as if my friend and the baseball were going to arrive at home plate at the same time. And in a sense, they did.

The ball hit Ron square in the wallet and fell harmlessly to the ground.

Safe. Run scored.

All of us lost it. And Ron, the last to realize what had happened, eventually smiled like I'd never seen him smile.

They say sports for kids are supposed to be fun. Well, I'm here to tell you that once upon a time, they could be.

The headline on Saturday’s Slice column

Was written by Geoff Pinnock.

Here (below) is what he used for inspiration. I wonder if you can guess what the column is about.

We need a pie chart

Some segment of the Spokane area's population loves mega-gatherings in downtown.

Another portion would not go anywhere near Bloomsday, Hoopfest or Pig Out even if you prodded them with a pitch-fork.

Then there are the people in between.

If you had to assign percentages, what numbers would you propose?

This date in Slice history (1997)

(Here are a few snippets from a bonus Slice that ran in the sports section. It was dedicated, top to bottom, to Hoopfest coverage.)

Out of the way or you'll get vaporized: In places, the sidewalks were so crowded it was hard to move. But 3-year-old DiMaggio Brown had a system for clearing a path.  He leaned forward in the stroller pushed by his grandmother, Sonia Brown, and fired at will with a lime green toy ray-gun that emitted an other-wordly woo-woo-woo sound.

Our favorite lost-child announcement included: “She has blue hair…”

Overheard on Sprague (a mom with family members playing on different courts at the same time): “I can't be in two places at once, but nobody in my house has ever understood that concept.”

Most ridiculous gesture: A guy in front of the STA Plaza was talking on a cell phone when he made a “quiet down” hand motion toward a crowd cheering the end of a girls' game.  

Just wondering

When it came to storing night crawlers until you went fishing the next morning, did you have a brand preference re: empty coffee cans?

When real life resembles a movie scene

Once I was outside the San Marco Apartments on Riverside when a young woman on the second floor was chucking clothes out a window while screaming rebukes at a young man standing out on the sidewalk.

I don't recall the exact articles of indictment. But it was clear the fellow had messed up.

This was quite a while ago, but I have a distinct memory of men's white briefs floating through the air like big elastic-band snowflakes.

OK, your turn.

Moses Lake collector’s item

Any thoughts about that classic Cold War slogan? 

Hey, kids!

Can you identify that thing on top of the roof, to the left of that man?

Most annoying TV kid ever?

Ladies and gentleman, Dodie of Douglas of “My Three Sons” when the series was near its end. 

Do you remember Milt Priggee?

He was the S-R's editorial cartoonist back in the Chris Peck era. 

Summing up the horse opera

This Time cover is from 1959. If you were going to add a second line to “The American Morality Play,” what would it say?

Autographs I obtained as a kid include…

One from this fellow, the third of the famed Alou brothers.

This isn't my card. Jesus signed a ball for me at long-gone Crosley Field in Cincinnati.

I have no recollection of saying his name or how I might have pronounced it. Chances are, he wasn't the player whose attention I was trying to attract.

Pizza for breakfast: Yes or no?

After asking what readers have for breakfast that many might find strange as start-the-day food, I got emails from a couple of local people who said they sometimes have leftover pizza.

I assumed everyone had done that. But maybe I am wrong.

So I wonder just how common that is.

On a happier note

Fifty years ago today, The Drifters recorded “Up on the Roof,” a terrific song written by the brilliant Carole King and her husband.

Just wondering

Do you know anyone who attended the Universal Life Church “picnic” at Farragut State Park over the Fourth of July weekend in 1971?  

Most of us survived sparklers

But you have to assume that had a lot to do with luck.

These things (below) were safer. Though certain dads were known to take exception to the unsightly burn marks that snakes left on the driveway.

Watch for this when they aren’t spitting

There is ample evidence that regarding pro athletes as role models is a risky proposition.

With the exception of basketball player Jack Twyman, who died this spring, and a handful of others, great ballplayers don't always possess great character.

But there's one way we can learn from athletes.

You know that moment in baseball after a batter has hit a single and he and the opposing team's first baseman exchange a few quips? Sure. Once in a while they even laugh and smile. I love that.

Of course, they are going to play hard and try to win. But it doesn't mean they hate the other guy. It doesn't mean they feel the need to demonize him or question his loyalty to the game.

The start of his lemonade stand boycott

Johnny Erp was a college student in California decades ago when he approached a lemonade stand with the intention of supporting the kids by purchasing a cup.

But as he got closer he saw one of the stand's operators vigorously petting a dog. Erp still remembers seeing the boy tousling the canine's neck ruff.

That might have been OK. But then the lad stuck his petting hand right into the pitcher of lemonade and proceeded to use his dogged-up mitt as a stirring spoon.

Erp suddenly lost his taste for the fruit of the poor lemon.

You have to wonder if that kid all those years ago was trying to market his beverage offering as an elixir for those with hangovers. If so, it would seem he misunderstood the whole “hair of the dog” concept.

In any event, Erp said he has not had a cup of lemonade from a kids' stand since, though he has been known to toss a few coins to the proprietors.

I guess I would not be the first to say

That the Internet can suck you in and make a decent chunk of time seemingly vanish.

I went looking for reports about the pre-air show B-52 crash at Fairchild in June of 1994 and started reading about other B-52 crashes, going back to the 1950s.

What topic hooked you lately?

Generation gap in the newsroom

There's a nice guy who works at the Review Tower named Alvin.

The other day he walked into the newsroom and one of my colleagues mock-yelled “Alviiiiinnnnnnnn!”

I thought that was great. But it did not seem as if anyone else appreciated my co-worker's comedy stylings.

I had no choice but to contemplate the sad fact that there are people who are not familiar with David Seville and Alvin the chipmunk.

What has the world come to? I'm still shaking my head.

Hard to believe

That the 4th of July is just a week away.

Some of us are lucky to still have all our fingers.

Just wondering

What percentage of the population would find some of the things you have for breakfast strange, unusual and possibly even disgusting (at least as something to eat first thing in the morning)?

The Wednesday Slice

You are not the only person with a fishing story that involves casting from a moving boat near the shore and getting the line snagged on an overhanging tree branch.

Who else has done that, you might ask. Well, that's not important. Just know that mistakes have been made. Others have been there.

Yes, it was embarrassing to find yourself letting out more and more line, as if flying a kite. But boats don't stop on a dime. Of course, you know that all too well. Don't you?

Sure, cutting the line right away was an option. But if the angler in question is a bit of an aborist at heart, the idea of forever saddling an innocent tree with a hook and strand of fishing line can be problematic.

To be sure, it would have been nice if no one had seen your misadventure. But chances are, you were fishing with a companion. And no doubt you clearly recall the convulsions of laughter. You remember hearing “I think you almost hooked a sparrow.”

Here's the thing, though. You got past it. You put it behind you. You moved on.  

And just think how much pleasure your story has provided others over the years.

Yes, casting into a tree was pretty boneheaded. But in a way, it was also a gift.

This date in Slice history (1997)

Today's Slice question: What would a man learn if he could be a fly on the wall at a few bridal showers?

Being willing to take a chance

Watching HBO's “The Newsroom” got me thinking about a chance encounter I had long ago with a guy who would soon be one of CNN's first anchors.

On the night the U.S. Olympic hockey team beat the Soviets in 1980, I was in a Tucson bar with some friends from work. We wound up sitting with this local TV anchorman named Lou Waters. He was there with some woman. I didn't know him before and never saw him again after that night.

He told us he was moving to Atlanta to join some sort of cable news network. I can't remember what any of us said in response to that. But being print people (known to be experts on the future of the media) we probably thought “That'll never work.”

CNN is struggling today. But for a long time, the network was flying high.

For Lou Waters, the timing was perfect.

A couple of years later, I became slightly acquainted with a woman who would become his CNN co-anchor for years — Natalie Allen.

But that's another thrilling story.

Mail call

Can you remember being in a setting away from home where checking your mailbox or waiting for someone to come around and hand out the mail was a big, big part of the day?

You know, some place like college or camp or a military posting.

It's sort of hard to imagine that personal communication was ever conducted at that pace.

Soda jerks as babe magnets

This was before my time, but I suppose it was possible.

What's with the dog?

Question for city-streets bike riders

What's the hardest paved-streets hill within the city limits of Spokane?

Hey kids, don’t take drugs!

I believe I saw that this public service announcement was from 1970.

No. 1 song on this date in 1967

If this gets stuck in your head, just consider it my Monday morning gift to you.

Not everyone sees us as being No. 1

The weather cooperated Sunday afternoon as Bob and Laurie Newell celebrated their 40th year of marriage and the approximate centennial of their North Side home being built.

Asked at an open house to recall the year they spent in Australia about 25 years ago, Bob told a story to a gathering of the couple's friends.

He was teaching school there. And some of the students got into a debate about whether zero was odd or even. Someone suggested asking Mr. Newell.

They did and he assured them zero was even.

The Aussie kids who had been wrangling about the matter weighed this input. But apparently one of proponents of zero being considered an odd had qualms about Bob's qualifications to answer the question.

“He's just an American.”

This date in Slice history (1996)

Today's Slice question: If you could travel back in time and join Lewis and Clark as they headed west, what one modern tool or device would you take back with you?

Great Endings of TV Episodes Dept.

After I posted something about “The Wonder Years” not long ago, a friend who worked at Spokane International Airport for ages mentioned having met Dan Lauria when he was passing through town once.

He played the dad on that show.

Reasonable people can disagree about his merits as an actor. But he had a few shining moments in that series.

One was an episode that first aired on Nov. 21, 1989. I rewatched it this weekend. Called “The Family Car,” it told about Jack Arnold's reluctance to admit that the worn-out station wagon needed to be replaced. His kids think he's slow to face the facts because he is cheap. But of course, there's more to it than that. Life in the Arnold household is changing, and Jack knows it. He wants to hold on to the way things were just a little longer.

“The Wonder Years” made a habit of swinging for the fences when it came to poignant moments. And I think the show had a decent batting average. But the conclusion of “The Family Car” is an upper deck home run.

Amid the end-of-the-episode excitement of a new car's arrival in the driveway, members of the Arnold family turn to see the old station wagon about to be towed away. Then, as it starts to sink in about why Jack had struggled with the decision, we hear the instantly recognizable opening of Neil Young's marvelous “Long May You Run.”

Talk about hitting the right notes.

“We've been through

“some things together” 

This date in Slice history (1997)

Today's Slice question: What's the one thing it actually makes sense for people around here to buy in bulk?

Two questions

1. Is your family torn apart by differences over salsa-brand preference?

2. Do you know anyone who refers to the Internet as “Skynet”?

One of the lost arts

How many of us still do the Ed Norton pre-writing hand flourishes that we learned from Art Carney while watching reruns of “The Honeymooners”?

It's not the same when you do it over a keyboard, of course. Still, it remains a nice little tribute to an inspired comedic bit. Even if fewer and fewer of those who see you doing it understand. 

Anniversary of Custer’s 1876 defeat

That's coming up on Monday. Mark your calendar.

How you note the occasion depends, I suppose, on whether you think the goldilocks general had it coming. 

They’re (almost) heeeeeere

This is a lobby card for a 1949 movie that someone was selling online.

But the real square dance jubilee is coming to a city near you. Next week.

Gird your loins.

How to get hit in the face with a baseball

Playing catch in the fading light near sunset might seem almost mytho-poetic. But it suddenly becomes less so when you lose sight of the ball and take one in the eye.

Just wondering

What would a cyclist-hating Spokane motorist yell at these lads?

The correct answer? How about “Move over once, move over twice”?

No need to raise your hand

For those who did not grow up in a big city, the first few times attending major league sports events as a kid tend to make a big impression.

And I have a theory. To the extent that children give any real thought to their future, I suspect a fair percentage of these kids found themselves thinking “When I grow up, I'm definitely going to live someplace where I can go to a big-league game any time I feel like it — without having to drive halfway across the state.”

Then many of these children become adults and find themselves residing in places such as good old Spokane. What happened?

A) Real life doesn't turn out to have much to do with proximity to stadiums. B) There are considerable downsides and trade-offs to living in a major league market. C) I sort of lost interest in sports about the time artificial turf appeared on the scene. D) The cheap seats stopped being cheap. E) Job offers did not tend to come from places such as Minneapolis or Denver. F) I wanted to be near nature. G) The things that knocked my socks off when I was 9 stopped seeming quite so special. H) Other.

“Our House” vs. “It’s Too Late”

Here's a question for those of a certain age.

When you think back to your first really serious romance, how long did it take you to go from CSN&Y's “Our House” — “With two cats in the yard” — to Carole King's “It's Too Late” — “Now you look so unhappy”?

I’m sorry, Mothra just wasn’t scary

But that's OK. Didn't we always learn near the end of Japanese monster movies — well, at least some of them — that the featured creature was really a misunderstood rogue looking for acceptance.

Today’s big leaguer who played here

You might remember Cora from his years in Seattle.

Having a feline as a backseat driver

On my way home this afternoon, before I even got out of downtown, I saw another cyclist.

She looked like she might be in the 18-21 age range. She wasn't wearing a helmet but she had on a backpack.

Inside the backpack was an adult cat. Only the head of this gray and white pet was visible out of the top of the pack. My first reaction was a silently disapproving “That's not a good idea.”

But as I studied the scene from a distance, I realized the cat seemed perfectly calm. Maybe he or she has been riding with that girl since kittenhood.

Wonder what sort of backseat driver that cat is. What does it say to the girl as they cruise along?

“If you see a tuna stand, be sure to pull over.” 

This asking-questions bit goes two ways

Readers sometimes ask me questions, instead of the other way around. Which is fine. Happy to help, when I can.

But one thing that comes up over and over leaves me shaking my head.

Readers want to know what happened to this or that Spokane TV news anchor, reporter or weather pointer after they seem to disappear without a trace.

I used to just forward these queries to Jim Kershner. But since he is no longer here, I have to come up with a new system.

Let's try this. I'll simply offer readers a multiple choice of possible answers.

A) Don't know. B) Don't care. C) Maybe he asked for more money. D) She got a job in a bigger market. E) I have never heard of the person to whom you are referring. F) He/she is just taking time off to allow the cosmetic surgery to heal. G) She got married and wants a different kind of life. H) It turned out that his commitment to our community was just a slogan. I) Wasn't cute enough and had trouble talking. J) Went into PR. K) Became a producer or got into sales. L) Decided to follow religious calling. M) Called longtime anchor “short stuff” in a meeting. N) Grew weary of the idea that people were just staring and not really listening to the breaking news about a garage fire. O) Married someone rich. P) He/she realized he/she wasn't really interested in the news and also hated doing featurey stuff. Q) Discovered that being recognized has a downside. R) Got tired of long-distance romance and moved to be with significant other. S) Other.  

Planning to watch “The Newsroom”?

It's on HBO, so the answer probably is “No.”

But if you are a subscriber who happens to believe in American exceptionalism, I have to warn you. If what I've read about the series is any indication, there's a scene early on that will make your head spin.  

When you are at work physically…

but have already started your vacation in your mind…

You tend to say “What?” a lot more than usual.

Agree or disagree

This actor from Spokane looks a lot like the sheriff of Spokane County.

A moment from “The White Shadow”

A new kid shows up at the show's inner-city high school wearing a letter jacket. Some are concerned that he might be a rival for a spot on the basketball team. But one of the team's starters expresses doubts.

“Relax, that jacket said 'Montana'. There can't be more than three high schools in the whole territory.”

That’s a relief

At first glance, I thought a subhead in the Voice section's Education Notebook roundup read “Rogers High cooks dogs, cats.”

But before I really had time to form the thought that this news was underplayed, I realized I had read it wrong.

The headline, referring to some good work done by the school's kitchen staff to benefit the Humane Society, actually said “Rogers High cooks help dogs, cats”.

Big finish

The folks at Emilie Court on Eighth Avenue celebrated the assisted living facility's 12th anniversary this afternoon with a party.

I'm told a good time was had by all.

But as the musician who had provided entertainment during the festivities was pulling out of the small parking garage, the top of his van clipped a sprinkler head on the low ceiling. This activated the fire suppression system in the garage. Soon there was water everywhere.

“It could have been worse,” said an Emilie Court staffer, referring to the fact that the mishap did not trigger sprinklers in the residential part of the complex.

Why hadn't the musician hit a sprinkler on the way in? Well, the entrance to the garage is on a bit of sideways slant. And a vehicle entering the garage has a slightly lower profile than it does on the way out.

The moral of this story?

Get down and stay down.

Re: My idea for Grizzly Beary ice cream

The folks at Ben & Jerry's showed no interest in my proposal when I brought it up almost 20 years ago. Maybe they only considered in-house suggestions at that time. Or perhaps someone back in Vermont realized that obtaining a steady supply of huckleberries would be all but impossible.

Have you ever had an idea for an exciting new ice cream flavor? 

Here comes summer

Hope yours is a candy bar (as in this scene from “Caddyshack”) and not the alternative.

A Spokane thing

Are any local pets named Randy and Deb still alive?

KPBX staff in 1980

Considering the year, these hair styles are pretty under control.

What did Betty and Veronica see in him?

A) Archie's dry wit. B) His hair grid. C) He drove a very small truck. D) The thing is, neither girl was all that bright. E) They were just using Archie to get to Jughead. F) Archie's muscular, nippleless torso. G) Other.

Please check out front page of Sports

There's a story about the Maryland racing commission finally acknowledging what everyone had known all along — that Secretariat's Preakness was the fastest ever.

Which, of course, means that Big Red holds the record in all three of the Triple Crown races.

Born on the first day of summer

There is a certain cosmic perfection to Brian Wilson's birthday. As you probably saw in the People column, the Beach Boys founder turns 70 today.

One of the immutable laws of nature

The quieter you try to be when getting something out of the refrigerator at 2:13 a.m., the more noise you will make.

Just wondering

Can you name an idea worse than Take Your Dog to Work Day?

The Wednesday Slice Question

Are those who know a mind-blowing number of people a vanishing species?

Just asking. I cannot cite any evidence to support an assertion that this is the case. But in 35 years of working for daily newspapers, I've known a few men and women like that. And I just don't see them being replaced.

Sure, all kinds of people today are linked to a bazillion others via social media. That's great. But how many of these folks would recognize one another if they passed on the street?

Look, the good old days were not all that great in many respects. But I'll tell you this. Spending time with someone who knows an astonishing number of people by name has always been a clinic in connectivity.

Not all human contact is of the in-person variety, of course. But face-to-face does have a bit of tradition behind it. And it seems like the most prolific practitioners deserve some sort of salute before they are gone.

Spokane collectibles

There are still a few “Don't Move Jefferson!” signs being displayed on the South Hill.

I assume the families in question intend to keep them up until the next Ice Age. That's their right, of course.

But what about these signs' potential as Spokane collectibles? Wouldn't you want to get them in out of the weather?

A friend of mine has a Tom Foley lawn sign that I'm sure would fetch a buck or two at a yard sale. Maybe in 20 years or so, the “Don't Move Jefferson!” sign would have similar appeal.

Maybe not, though. Foley was the Speaker from Spokane.

“Don't Move Jefferson!” was, well, there are two schools of thought on that.

Re: Transporting wrecked vehicles

It doesn't mean the driver might turn into a big, green angry man at any moment. You know, “Road rage? I'll show you road rage.”

In other news, don't you love blog post headlines that don't overpromise?

I mean, someone seeing “Re: Transporting wrecked vehicles” just doesn't have a beef if he clicks on that and then discovers that it fails to deliver nasty details from recent Spokane divorces or an X-rated “Tale of the Tape” from pro sports locker rooms.  

Summer Solstice Eve

Do people with lake places in our area typically give these properties a name?

Remembering jail bait rock

Yes, I'm referring to several pop songs by Gary Puckett and The Union Gap, a group with Northwest connections.

Perhaps only Lou Christie did more with the theme of acquiring biblical knowledge of undoubtedly underage girls. 

Which was your favorite Puckett tune? Or was there one of these songs you particularly despised?

A) “Young Girl.”

B) “Lady Willpower.”

C) “Don't Give In To Him.”

D) “This Girl Is A Woman Now.”

Let’s go for a hat trick

I've heard from a couple of readers who said they were offended by today's Slice column.

Feel free to make it three.

And those who don't want to read about arguably private bodily matters won't want to miss a brief discussion of priapism in Thursday's column.

It’s “Coal train” not “Coltrane”

Despite what you thought you heard, the Spokane city council has not resolved to study the alarming prospect of more jazz being played in the city.

How cheerleaders looked in the 1960s

Feel free to dismiss the whole enterprise as sexist, stupid and insufficiently earnest about serious issues. But it has to be said that once upon a time cheerleaders were not required to look like, uh, exotic dancers or blow-up dolls.

That does not mean that cheerleaders of that era were all exemplary young women. But it was a slightly more innocent brand of nonsense and one was less likely to encounter Scripture-quoting makeup monsters in stripper attire who honestly believe that what they are doing is important.

Slice blog reader challenge

Once called “the worst band of all time” by Rolling Stone magazine, the anniversary of this group's appearance at Expo '74 is tomorrow.

Can you name the band?

This date in Slice history (2004)

Warm-up question: What did scooping up toddlers countless times do to your back?

Recorded at Farragut in 1965

Anyone still have a copy of this?

If you are a certain age…

Today's SR photo-feature on Murgittroyd's had to remind you of this cool cat.

A car you could buy in 1967 for $2,500

Getting one with an engine that had a little oomph cost more.

In which of the “Star Trek” TV series does a Camaro show up?

Asking people about their movie choice

There was a line attributed to some football coach long ago on the disadvantages of throwing the ball.

“When you pass, two of the three things that can happen are bad,” this guy supposedly said.

Well, the same could be said about seeing someone with a Netflix envelope or some other movie packaging and asking that person what he or she watched.

1. The person can name the film and offer a brief thumbnail review.

2. The person can regard your query as a flagrant invasion of privacy.

3. The person can tell you a lot more than you really want to know.

The real reason for summer day camps

I'm not saying there are not a lot of great programs out there. I'm sure there is enrichment taking place right and left. Horizons being broadened and what have you.

But to what extent do most of these programs owe their existence to the simple fact that parents need a place to park kids in the summer?

Pagan rituals for the summer solstice

It's coming up. Can you suggest any good ones for the Spokane area?

There are a couple of ways to respond

When a nonfather is wished “Happy Father's Day” by stranger.

He can smile and say “Thanks” or something along those lines.

Or he can say, “What? Have you heard something?”


Next year, there will be a few Spokane area residents who still refer to the “surprise Father's Day sunburn of 2012.”

Granted, it wasn't beach temps — where the need for sunscreen would have been obvious. And it was cloudy much of the time. But those kinds of days can be deceptive. So the sunburns in question would be of the highly localized variety. You know, back of the neck, ears or knees or whatever.

Where on your body did you once get a surprise sunburn?

Father’s Day

Here's a picture of my late father with his B-24 crew in North Africa. (He's in the front row, on the far right.) You can tell that this photo is from early in the war because the Liberator behind them was not fitted with a nose turret. Memorable name, though. 

This date in Slice history (1999)

Today's Slice question: What word best describes typical Inland Northwest restaurant iced tea?

Battle of the TV dads

Which of these gentlemen did you find most appealingly human?

I won't insult you by assuming that I need to tell you their names.

Just wondering

In Spokane, what year was the peak when it came to giving neckties as Father's Day presents?

How about nationally?

When to worry and when not to worry

Our neighbor's teenage daughter came to the door this morning, needing to borrow something.

I asked her when school was out. She said yesterday was the last day.

I then asked if I was right in remembering that next year would be her last year of high school.

“It will,” she said. “And I'm a little scared actually, because I don't know what I'm going to do.”

I assured her that she would figure it out. And I meant it.

Here's The Slice 0-10 Scale of Need to Worry About Teens.

1. Kid believes he or she has the future all mapped out and is certain everything will go exactly according to plan: 5. Obvious reason for concern here, but there's no need to assume the young person won't be able to adapt to the inevitable hurdles and changes along the way.

2. Kid has not given one single thought to his or her future and apparently assumes he or she will spend the rest of his or her life hanging out with underachieving friends: 10. You can launch into another big talk, but there isn't any sign that there's much listening going on. Some advocate hope and prayer.

3. Kid says “I'm a little scared actually, because I don't know what I'm going to do.”: 1. This is a sign that the young person is on top of the need to come up with at least the vague outline of a plan pretty soon. Chances are, it will all work out.

Unlikely coalition waiting to form

I'm thinking of people smoking outside of stores and those who use bike racks 10 feet from where the smokers are puffing away.

They routinely come in contact and have the opportunity to talk.

They might not be natural allies on some issues. But perhaps there's common ground to be found, once the dialog begins.

Of course, this sort of assumes that all cyclists have the same attitudes about matters of public policy or that smokers all think alike. And that's not the case.

Still, I have an idea where the two groups could begin.

“Those things will kill you.”

“OK, well maybe I'll start wearing a helmet while I smoke.”


Battle of the mainstream 1978 albums

Which was better…


Or this?

Or this?

Or this?

Better living through chemistry

In case you had forgotten about Naugahyde, here's an ad from the 1960s.

Famous fathers of the past

If Mark were to turn suddenly, Lucas would be in a world of hurt.

This date in Slice history (1995)

Try to resist: The urge to determine self-worth on the basis of ability to open jars with stuck lids.

Can you name this USAF aircraft?

Had lunch today with a guy who flew these early in his Air Force career.

Today’s big leaguer who played here

Bud pitched for the Spokane Indians in 1981.

Battle of the mainstream 1977 albums

Which was better.


Or this?

Or this?

Or how about this?

Were you loyal to a brand of jeans?

Or did you select whatever happened to fit or was on sale?

Yes, I am aware that not everyone wore denim. I just don't think many such people live here.

This date in Slice history (1997)

Today's Slice question: Do you want a frank critique of your wedding invitation? (Send it in.)

The Wednesday Slice

With Father's Day on the horizon, here's a baker's dozen of questions.

1. Do dads still teach sons to box (or fight in some other manner)?

2. Do they teach their daughters?

3. What if the kids are being brought up by a single mom?

4. Does the “This is just so you can defend yourself if all alternatives have been exhausted” talk still sound about the same as it did years ago?

5. Do 2012 dads teach kids how to simply repel aggression or do they show them how to render the attacker incapable of continuing the fight?

6. What can dads say to emphasize that movie/TV/video-game fights are not realistic?

7. How do you address the possibility of weapons being part of the picture?

8. Is there an approach to saying “The way to win fights is to be able to take a hard first punch and not fold up” without sounding like you secretly hope the kid will be slugging it out right and left?

9. At what age does a child need to hear “There will always be those you simply cannot defeat”? or “Losing, assuming you don't get maimed or mangled, can be better than some of the alternatives.”

10. At what age does your son need to hear “Any girl who wants you to get in fights over her is bad news”?

11. At what age does your daughter need to hear “A boy who likes to start fights is bad news”?

12. How do you feel about teaching a child tactics that aren't exactly Marquess of Queensberry approved?

13. How many times should you say “Look, you're smart. Use your head. Walk away from that nonsense. Tough guys at your age are on the road to lousy lives.”


Today's Slice question: Assuming you don't work a 9-to-5 schedule, have you ever watched the cable TV Department of Transportation street/highway cameras during rush hour just for entertainment?

Recalling a close call at summer camp

When I was a kid in Burlington, Vermont, I spent a week one summer at a hockey camp in nearby Lake Placid, N.Y.

Boys from all over New England attended this sports-focused session. We stayed at a place called the Northwood School. On-ice training took place at a rink that belonged to that prep school. The Lake Placid facility that would become a celebrated venue because of the 1980 Winter Olympics did not exist at the time.

I have a number of memories from that week. But one still makes me wince.

One day when we were in our dorm rooms exchanging bon mots between hockey practices, an older boy named Dennis got an idea.

Wouldn't it be a riot to fill a plastic cup with urine, place it atop a room door and then summon an unpopular camper?

Hilarity would ensue, Dennis assured everyone.

So he left and came back with a clear cup full of golden fluid, which was placed atop the door.

Soon someone not in on the prank entered the room in question. But it was not a fellow camper. It was one Charles E. Holt, camp director, hockey coach at the University of New Hampshire and future member of the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame.

Thanks to a miracle, the cup did not fall. But Holt noticed it and commented on the level of humor that would inspire such a gag.

Dennis assured him that the cup was filled with Mountain Dew. And after all these years, I can't honestly remember whether that was true.

In any event, decades later, I am still grateful that I did not get sent home early (along with the other half-dozen lads present) because of that stupid stunt.

My dad would have asked me why I had failed to stand up and put a halt to the whole cup-on-the-door caper before it ever got started.

And I would not have had a good answer.

How to injure yourself this summer

Diving while smoking a pipe just isn't a good idea.

As far as women in green swimwear, that's an altogether different matter.

Was there ever a good newsstand here?

If you say Jacoy's in 1959, I'm in no position to argue. Wasn't here. But I have to tell you, I don't consider carrying the P-I and Oregonian enough to be considered a decent newsstand.

Did you ever see a real one?

An Edsel police cruiser, that is.

50 years ago at Fairchild AFB

“He said it was making a noise.”

This date in Slice history (2000)

Today's Slice question: What does your pet do when you practice the musical instrument you are trying to learn how to play? 

When the night sky is restless

On those rare occasions when we experience sustained thunder and lightning, like tonight, one guaranteed morning-after conversation theme is “Well, that was nothing compared to what we used to have back in …”

Fair enough.

But perhaps the simple fact that we don't witness it all the time makes us appreciate it a bit more. 

There must be an easier way…

…to amass a big collection of stuffed animals than being someone who spends time in hospitals.

Would you be willing to do this?

Before surgical procedures, hospital staffers sometimes hand you an info sheet: “FAQs about Surgical Site Infections.”

It offers some good information and advice.

But one highlighted passage raises a question or two.

It says, “If you do not see your providers clean their hands, please ask them to do so.”

No doubt, that is wise counsel.

But here's the thing. Don't most people operate on the assumption that the best way to get good treatment is to be liked?

And does questioning someone's professionalism encourage that person to like you?

I know. What I'm saying sounds like I think we're still in junior high or something. Asserting your rights as a patient should be encouraged. Getting decent care should not be about hitting it off with the nurses or whatever.

Moreover, the medical staffer requested to wash his or her hands will no doubt smile and offer the patient praise for asking.

But c'mon. Does anything you know about human nature suggest that such a request really is appreciated? 

Of course, if you wind up getting an infection because someone failed to wash his hands, the fact that everyone thought you were a great guy won't matter much.

So there's that to consider.

My new least-favorite TV news promo

Heard it during the hockey game last night, courtesy of KHQ.

“Breaking news right now.”

That's it. It's just this two-second thing.

By the time you look up from what you are reading to see the breaking news, they've already moved on to another commercial.

But, of course, we should all know better than to pay attention to the words “breaking news” in 2012.

Back when an alert of that nature was followed by the appearance of Walter Cronkite, well, that was different.

In an OB/GYN office waiting room

It's pretty easy to think of things not to say to strangers who appear to be in their 11th month of pregnancy. 

Welcome to Great Spirit Woods

Suppose, through a bizarre sequence of events, a developer acquired Manito Park and announced plans to build a gated community there.

Yes, of course, there would be a sustained uproar.

There would be howls of protest and letters to the editor saying the city had sold its soul.

But once it became clear that all the lawsuits and what have you were not going to stop construction, how long would it be before people would start buying properties in this development?

I'm guessing about five minutes.

Thirty years ago today

“E.T.” came out.

The mom being divorced seemed so authentic, it was easy to accept that some of the other things could be real, too.  

Hair style or cautionary tale?

You make the call. 

Elsewhere in America during Expo 74

On June 4, 1974, the Cleveland Indians tripled their normal home attendance by hosting Ten-Cent Beer Night. Pretty much turned into a melee.

Compare and contrast

When you were a kid and your family was about to embark on a summer road trip vacation, how long was the pre-launch checklist?

How about when you became a grown-up and were nominally in charge yourself?

Speaking of vacation trips, do you know what became of this actress appearing here in a 1989 episode of “The Wonder Years” called “Summer Song”?

On this date at Expo 74

“Summer Breeze” and “Diamond Girl” might not have been songs for the ages. But I can tell you exactly where I was and what I was thinking about on at least one or two occasions when I head them on the radio.

The heyday of backyard swing sets

Would have been…

A) 1947. B) 1951. C) 1955. D) 1959. E) 1963. F) 1966. G) 1968. H) 1974. I) 1990. J) 2012. K) Other.

Multiple choice

Getting annoyed when people park in your driveway while visiting your neighbor's yard sale is…

A) Fairly normal. B) Not very Zen-like. C) Pretty Spokaney. D) A sign that you need something to occupy your mind. E) All right if you don't object to being a bit like Gladys Kravitz. F) A sign that maybe you need to live out in the country. G) OK if you don't go out and create a scene. H) Depends on how you feel about the neighbors and whether they have a yard sale every weekend at this time of year. I) Understandable. In an ideal world, the person parking in your driveway would have known that's simply not done. Or the folks running the sale would have noticed this transgression and politely instructed that person to go back and move his or her car. J) Other.

Onetime Spokane Indian with good name

If you are thinking Jerry Don looks familiar, it could be that you are confusing him with actor William H. Macy, who also did a stint in Spokane — in the movie “Benny & Joon.”

Well, at least it didn’t come to this

We're living in dangerous times today? Hey, I got your dangerous times right here.

The kid just asked, “Is it OK to go out and die now?”

What if Jackie Robinson played here?

You know, what if — instead of Montreal — Spokane had been the baseball pioneer's minor-league home before making the jump to the Dodgers?

I realize the Spokane Indians' relationship with the Dodgers was forged a number of years after Robinson broke the color barrier. But what if Spokane had been a top Dodgers' farm team in 1946 and 1947?

I'd like to think most fans here would have wished him well.

But let's not kid ourselves. Assuming they knew what was in the works, not everyone here would have been on the side of progress. I wonder how the SR would have covered it.   

Where were you on May 27, 1975?

According to something I read online, that's when KISS and Rush played in Spokane.

First time for everything

Was making restaurant reservations last night.

The professionally pleasant young woman on the phone asked for my last name. I told her.

She then requested my first name. “Paul,” I said.

“Is that with a C?” she inquired.

Not sure where to go from there, I went ahead and spelled my name for her. Can't remember having to do that before. Ever.

I don't want to rush to judgment before all the facts are in. But I have a sneaking suspicion Beatlemania has begun to subside.

To say nothing of the New Testament.

But who knows. Maybe there are a lot of guys in Spokane named Caul. Or Call. It wouldn't shock me, though I might be surprised to learn that any of them are old enough to be phoning restaurants. 

Reader challenge

Can you tell which are the movie characters played by the late Patrick Swayze and which are North Idaho sixth graders?

Darrel “Darry” Curtis, Jed Eckert, Orry Main, Johnny Castle, Dalton Ross, Sam Wheat, Bodhi, Jack Crews, Race Darnell, Derek Sutton.

This date in Slice history (1995)

Today's Slice question: If you knew then what you know now, what would you have changed about your wedding day?

Today’s Slice song lyric symposium

What big-deal singer-songwriter once used “brang” as a verb in a song?

Hint: We are not talking about a country artist here.

2012 bicycling stamps

Other headlines that might have attracted a similar number of readers to this blog:

“Planning board sets meeting”

“New pastor has positive outlook”

“Spokane Indians ready for 23-game schedule”

“Local woman fills spare time”

Spokane high school yearbook mistake

There is no need to further embarrass the young lady.

So I won't mention her last name or even her school.

But I am told by a reliable source that a local high school yearbook includes the following sentence in a text block extolling the laudable accomplishments of a certain Spokane girl.

“Alison has helped make hundreds of African orphans.”

My source, Susan Blakely, had a question. “Where do you suppose the rest of that sentence went?”

Oh, well. I suppose they can fix the online version at least.

Brush with fame

I mentioned Neil Young in my column today and sort of expected to hear from someone objecting to my including him in a short list of “semi-famous” people.

I admit, he's pretty famous. Deservedly so. But my assumption is that he is far from being universally recognizable.

I still might hear a complaint or two. It's early.

In the meantime, here's a note from Slice reader Sandy Tarbox.

“I sold soap to Neil Young at a trade show in Reno years ago,” she wrote. “He was stranded at the airport due to snow. Almost no one recognized him and he cruised the show in relative anonymity.”

On an unrelated matter, Sandy added this.

“As you are the de facto leader of the Marmot Lodge I will shortly be sending you a photo of what's left of my delphinium. Evil furry bastards!”

I told her I would be issuing a sharply worded warning to the rodent community.   

True or false

Spokane is mentioned in 1976's “Network.”

This date in Slice history (1997)

Not so fast there.

One the day Michelle LeBret was scheduled to have a biopsy performed, her daughter called and wished her well with her “autopsy.”

1960s technology ahead of its time?

Should every office with more than a dozen employees have a cone of silence available?

You know, so you can request that a couple of  co-workers who want to discuss the NBA playoffs or whatever go there to enjoy a private conversation.

Just a thought.

Let’s not exaggerate

Despite what some people are saying, you don't really need to dress like this right now.

Happy birthday, Eddie Haskell

As you know, his real name is Ken Osmond.

His character illustrated a time-honored truth: The only person fooled by a total phony is the phony himself. 

On this date at Expo 74

Bill Cosby.

Just wondering

What age bracket within the population as a whole contains people familiar with the expression “pompatus of love”?

Exit strategies

It's OK to admit it. Sometimes you like to cut out of work a bit early.

That does not make you a bad person.

Still, you might feel a little sheepish about it. If that's the case, you will want to keep an eye out for announcements about my upcoming online course, “Making a Run For It.”

As someone with years of experience as the first day-shifter to leave his workplace each day, I'll be offering valuable insights on how to bust out of the office early without experiencing that nagging guilt and shame.

I'll discuss strategies for making your move and not coming off as furtive or sneaky. There's more to it than pretending to be on the phone as you tiptoe toward the elevators.

If your spouse had special powers…

…wouldn't you say “Go for it, sweetie. We're a little short on $50 bills.”

Why women seem so, well, different

Some men are under the impression that, in decent-sized workplaces, there is always at least one woman crying in the restroom. 

What kind of doctor was Dr. Quest?

A) Allergist. B) Endocrinologist. C) Doctor of thinkology. D) Obstetrician. E) Podiatrist. F) Witch doctor. G) Urologist. H) Doctor of humanities. I) Doctor John. J) Doctor Funkenstein. K) Doctor Who. L) Other.

What articles interested Ward Cleaver?

If you had to guess, I mean. Do you suppose Ward was strictly an A section guy? Or maybe he looked at sports, too. Perhaps he even checked out the women's section (remember what era we're talking about) for insights about why June behaved the way she did.   

The Wednesday Slice

Which of these records did you like best?

June 6, 1944

This magazine cover is from 1984.

This date in Slice history (1998)

Today's Slice question: Would you recognize marijuana if it was growing in your back yard?

Remembering a D-Day veteran

I'll have to live to be almost 90 to make it to the centennial anniversary of D-Day on June 6, 2044.

Maybe I'll get there, though. My dad lived to be 90. And my mom is 95.

Of course, who knows if anyone will even note the occasion in 2044.

But I will. And I'll tell anyone willing to listen about having met Calvin Warner in 1994.

Back then, the SR presented a series of stories to observe the 50th anniversary of the bloody beach landings on the coast of France that marked the beginning of the end for Nazi Germany.

As part of that, I interviewed Warner at his home near Finch Arboretum. We talked for a couple of hours.

He was in an early assault wave on the morning of June 6, 1944. He remembered that he was very, very scared.

And memories of things he saw that day stopped him mid-sentence more than once.

Warner died in 1999. But I think of him each June 6th.

It would have been inappropriate for me to salute him when we parted back in 1994. I'm not in the military. But I have since done so in my heart many times.

Body parts in headlines

A colleague looking at a news story online wondered aloud if “Brutal Scrotum Attack” was redundant.

This prompted a brief exchange on the various kinds of scrotum attacks.

I need to remind myself more often that it is a treat to work in a newsroom.

Teaching a kid to skip stones on water

What's the key?

A) Getting the child to understand that a sidearm (almost underarm) motion is essential. Overhand won't do. B) Getting the kid to relax. C) Understanding that selecting the right rocks is half the battle. D) Helping the child grasp the desirability of flattening out the entry angle. E) Persuading the youth that this is actually fun. F) Other.

Something you didn’t need to know

There is an Idaho Avenue in Ames, Iowa and Nashville, Tenn. and Los Angeles and Washington, D.C. and Minneapolis and Las Cruces, N.M. and Cape May, N.J. and Staten Island, N.Y. and St. Louis and Dallas and Plattsburgh, N.Y. and Aurora, Colo. and Kenner, Louisiana and Mesa, Ariz. and lots of other places.

There is an Idaho Street in Terre Haute, Indiana and, well, you get the idea. Enough already. 

They played at GU on 6/5/71

At least that's what I read. Would have been shortly after first album. The band's lineup would change approximately 750 times over the years.

This date in Slice history (1999)

Today's Slice question: If grandparents unionized and engaged in some hard-nosed bargaining, how long would it be before they could dictate the terms of American life?

It never fails

Full of breezy confidence, you make a simple declaration. And then, almost immediately, events conspire in an attempt to prove you wrong.

A guiding premise of tomorrow's Slice column, written last week, is that it never really gets muggy here. I stand by this assertion. Mostly.

But riding home on my bike this afternoon, I had to admit that the air was doing a good job of suggesting that I don't know what I'm talking about.

Still, it's all relative. If they remake the sweat-drenched movie, “Body Heat,” they won't set it in Spokane.

The most humid places I have visited might be Houston and New Orleans. But I have been told by those who would know that the humidity in Vietnam is surreal.

What's your reading? Where have you encountered the most staggering humidity? 

You’re definitely still young if you…

…cannot remember when it was the Pacific 8 Conference.

“He’s moving like a tremendous machine”

Nine years ago, as the running of the Belmont Stakes approached, I took up an entire Slice column with the transcript of the track announcer's call of Secretariat's mind-blowing victory in that race in 1973. Many regard that Triple Crown finish as one of the all-time most thrilling moments in the annals of sports.

But reaction to that particular column was sharply divided. Some of my readers enjoyed it and told me so. Others, however, regarded it as a throw-away and felt I had broken my compact with them. Or something.

Next year will be the 40th anniversary of Secretariat's Belmont. I think I know how I might fill up a column as that June 9th approaches.

“…Secretariat is all alone. He's out there almost a sixteenth of a mile away from the rest of the horses.”

Liquor is quicker

I haven't done extensive polling.

But it would seem that a few days of being able to buy bottles of booze everywhere except daycare facilities has not quelled the debate in all households where voting was split on that liquor sales measure. 

Know your Washington trivia

Cheney Stadium is not in Cheney. It is in Tacoma.

The community that is home to Eastern Washington University was named after Benjamin Pierce Cheney. The baseball stadium in Pierce County was named after Benjamin Bradbury Cheney.

I'll send a coveted reporter's notebook to the first reader who can document whether the two were directly related. Show your work.

This date in Slice history (1996)

Admit it: You think that if getting the gas pump to stop at an even dollar amount were an Olympic event, you could win a medal.

This date in Slice history (2000)

Multiple choice: If, almost 200 years ago, explorers Lewis and Clark had worn T-shirts during their journey, what would have been printed on those shirts?

A) “I'm With Stupid.”

B) “Grizzlies.”

C) “Do Me.”

D) “Willie Nelson Tour, 1803.”

E) “Missouri Breaks Fun Run.”

F) “Question Authority.”

G) “Big Sky Conference Champs.”

H) “Bull Shirt.”

I) “If Sacajawea Ain't Happy, Ain't Nobody Happy.”

J “I've Fallen And Can't Reach My Beer.”

K) “I Went All The Way To The Pacific Ocean And All I Got Was This Stupid Shirt.”

L) “Guns Don't Kill People — Mountain Lions Do.”

M) Other.

Consider cause and effect relationship

Seeing as how it seems to reliably produce rain, maybe it would be a good idea to start scheduling ArtFest nearer the middle of the forest fire season.

Now accepting definitions of “back East”

Yes, I have dealt with this a hundred times.

But I never tire of hearing people refer to Minnesota as “back East.”

Preview of the next four Slice columns

Saturday: Looking to the calendar for baby names.

Sunday: Nervous from the service.

Monday: An easy way to tell who had the best weekend.

Tuesday: Something I never thought I'd say.

Recalling early cell-phone performers

Can you remember back when you actually noticed people talking on cell phones?

I can. At least I can remember this one guy who used to come to the Review Tower armed with a portable phone about the size of an old military walkie-talkie. To me, he looked like someone in an episode of “Combat!” calling in artillery support.

Alas, none of his calls was quite that urgent.

Convertibles: Heaven or hassles?

You used to hear that they were more trouble than they were worth. But that was ages ago. Maybe new ones are problem-free. Of course, a new one is not the kind I would want.

Do you remember…

…when Spokane's mail-addressing practice was to place the directional before the number?

Sure. I think that was overturned a little more than 20 years ago, to conform with the rest of the known universe.

But it used to be that we would write, say, “West 999 Riverside Avenue.”

I had a colleague back then who defended the old practice. He argued that the traditional (old) way was logical because of the sequence in which it presented the information — general, then specific.

He moved to Texas or California about the time we switched. I don't think he left because of the addressing thing. But I did not know him well.

This date in Slice history (2000)

Children's road-trip car games that never really caught on:

1. “Smack Me — I See an SUV.”

2. “Something to Cry About.”

3. “Bobby Ate This.”

4. “Make Montana End.”

5. “Spank the County Seats.”

6. “Countin' Caitlyns.”

7. “Stepmom, Go Away.”

8. “One, Two, Three, Burp.”

9. “Make Dad Lose It.”

10. “Picking the Scablands.”

On “The Twilight Zone” 50 years ago

A teacher being forced into retirement finds himself wondering if his life meant anything in an episode called “The Changing of the Guard,” which first aired on June 1, 1962.

Several of his former students come back to answer that question. They're all long dead, of course. But their testimony is quite touching. 

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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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