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The Slice

Archive for May 2012

This day in Slice column history (1996)

Today's Slice question: What's the most memorable unsolicited advice strangers have offered while you tried to comfort a fussy baby?

A Wikipedia entry that caught my eye

This was in a rundown of the year in music, 1979.

“April 13 — During a concert by Van Halen in Spokane, Washington, David Lee Roth collapses from exhaustion. A local doctor treats him for a stomach virus and advises him to 'calm down.' ”

I'll have to ask former features department colleague Rick Bonino if he remembers that.

2:20 P.S. I spoke with Rick and he does not remember that. So maybe it never happened or did not happen here.

Did The Cars come here on this tour?

I've looked in a lazy way, but can't pin it down.

Don't pretend you didn't like some of their songs.

Scheduling that “New you” regimen

If you start tomorrow, you have an entire month to fix all your flaws and make needed changes. Then you will have a running start when, on July 1, you announce your Second Half of the Year's Resolutions. Or celebrate Canada Day, as the case may be. 

Two kinds of people in Spokane

1. People who remember downtown Spokane in its heyday and think it's sort of sad now.

2. People who moved here from metropolitan areas where the downtown is virtually a lost cause and so they continue to regard downtown Spokane as relatively vibrant.


Things could be worse

At least you don't have a daughter with a boyfriend called Moondoggie.

Crowning king or queen of spillage

Measured in total fluid ounces, what Inland Northwest kid has spilled the greatest volume of liquids (both at home and in the car)?

What’s your policy on LinkedIn invites?

A) Ignore them. B) Always accept invitations to become part of someone's online network. C) No idea what LinkedIn is. D) Always agree to be connected if I know the person. E) I always accept until I start getting messages from LinkedIn about confirming my email address, et cetera. F) They are the only invitations I receive anymore. G) I usually accept and then hope the stranger to whom I am now connected will not turn out to be a scam artist or pedophile. H) I accept because I find those occasional “Wonderful news about me” updates amusing. I) Other.    

Talking the talk

Whether they ride bikes, go for a run or whatever, those interested in having early-morning exercise partners have to make sure of the compatibility factor.

The other person or persons need to be reliable about meeting on time. And it's probably a good idea if everyone is in the same ballpark in terms of fitness.

But it seems like there is another question that needs to be asked: How much talking do we want to do?

Some groups chatter up a storm. It's virtually nonstop conversation. (Though sometimes it appears to be one person doing most of the talking.)

Others roll or run along without a word.

One approach is not inherently better than the other. But they sure are different.

I wonder how many workout-partner relationships have hit the rocks because of disagreement about how much 5 a.m. talk is desired?

Maybe that's why some people prefer to use that time to walk the dog.

This date in Slice history (1996)

Rejected ArtFest slogans: “Something To Do,” “Everybody Who Thinks They're Somebody Will Be There,” “Parking Fest '96,” “Woodstock III,” “Artsapalooza,” “Monsters of Art,” “Come See Our New Paving Job,” “Booths 'n' Stuff,” “Good Festival” and “See, Browne's Addition Isn't THAT Scary.”  

Baseball caps and neighbors’ loud sex

Neither of those topics will be addressed in Thursday's Slice column.

But there will be some stuff more along these lines.

“Hey, Paul, my candle scent would be 'horseback ride,' a combination of warm pony, leather and the mountains,” wrote Alison Duke.

Do-it-yourself Slice Blog post

If you want to connect with summers of the past, do a Google image search on “abandoned drive-in theaters” and be prepared to be reminded that nothing lasts forever.    

Taunting defectors

Am I above reminding friends who moved away from Spokane that their new homes are far more buggy than the Inland Northwest?

I am not.

Just today, I ended a note to a guy now in Minnesota with “Watch out for mosquitoes.”

His reply: “Skeeters aren't out in force yet, but they seem to be taking up homesteads around my hammock area. Bastards.”

Oh, well. Birds like them as light snacks.

Why was Vin Scully doing this game?

Thought of this 1999 baseball movie when watching a few minutes of the History Channel's Hatfields vs. McCoys miniseries. Kevin Costner is in both.

Was there ever any explanation why Dodgers institution Vin Scully would be doing play-by-play at a Tigers vs. Yankees game?

Perhaps the producers wanted to “sound” authentic and did not lose any sleep about how discordant it would seem to anyone who knows anything. Don't suppose they approached Ernie Harwell,

This film has a roundabout Spokane connection. Can you name it?

2012 ice cream truck jingles

Slice reader Sharon Griffiths and others have heard Spokane ice cream trucks playing Christmas music recently.

Apparently “Turkey in the Straw” and “The Entertainer” have become too easy to tune out.

Back in the summer of 2003, The Slice asked what Beach Boys song would make good ice cream truck music.

Ken Martin and Deborah Chan suggested “All Summer Long.”

Almost nine years later, I still think that's a good idea.

“All Summer Long” is a combination of iconic summer imagery and the group's swooping harmonies. It's perfect.

And if it wasn't already a decent song, it's use at the ends of both “American Graffiti” and a great episode of “The Simpsons” cemented its status as a pop seasonal anthem.

“Every now and then we hear our song

“(every now and then we hear our song)

“We've been having fun all summer long”

Remember Memorial Day on May 30?

You would have to be almost 50 to remember back before it became one of the Monday holidays.

The Wednesday Slice

Naked girls being the whole point of college, streaking seemed a laudable social trend back in 1973-74.

You would hear a whoop go up in the dining hall and crank your head to see which of your fellow scholars were sprinting through the building sans garments. Or you might be ambling through a grove toward the library and spy a freshman child of nature bounding across campus in the born-free fashion of the time. 

It caught your attention.

Silly? Sure. But the military draft was over and the apres '60s had sort of lost their way.

I got to thinking about this after posting something about “The Streak” being a No. 1 song in May of 1974.

What kind of idiot, you might ask, would disrobe and boldly saunter out into the public square?

Well, the kind of idiot writing this, for one. (Or at least the 18-year-old version of same.)

I don't remember all of the details. There is a chance consumption of fermented grain beverages might have been involved. Perhaps something as spirit-enobling as a dare also played a role.

But one night four or five of my dormmates and I elected to grace our little New England college with the gift of nudity.

So after dropping trou and shedding shirts, down the stairs and out the door we went. We really had no destination in mind. We were just, as Kramer of “Seinfeld” once said, out there and loving it.

Until, of course, we weren't. At some point, we were struck with a dark moment of awareness: We are outside with no clothes on. How does this end well?

Galloping back toward Adams Hall, our exhilaration transitioned neatly into full-blown panic. And as we approached the front door, some of the big-hearted students inside had a brainstorm.

Hey, they thought, let's close the door and lock it. Wouldn't that be fun?

I played sports as a kid. I was on a couple of state championship hockey teams in high school. I have seen a few big plays.

But no last-second goal or crucial save will ever compare in my memory to what fellow streaker Gary Blodgett did. Just as the jokesters inside the dorm had the front door almost closed, Gary grabbed the handle and yanked it back open.

Yes. Yes. Yes. Thank God, yes.

In we went, to don pants and convene a post-streak analysis and verbally replay our brief adventure in the great outdoors.

Here again, fermented grain beverages might have been involved.

Everyone is young once. But you have to make an effort to truly be young and stupid.

The show people loved to bash

Even if they didn't watch it.

“thirtysomething” aired its final episode 21 years and one day ago.

Initially unwatchable, it could be argued that it grew up fast and became fairly substantial. I especially liked the workplace stuff. The Miles Drentell character was one of TV's all-time best, if you asked me.

Yes, I guess there was an overabundance of silly yuppie angst and too much boomer whining. But I think the reason people resented that is because it reminded them of real life.

Privileged, college-educated white people complain about their problems? Say it ain't so.

It turns out we can tolerate our own whining, but not other people's. 

Basking in the hate

There's an over-beers game at least a few journalists have been known to play.

It involves competing to see who can recall the most disdainful rebuff ever encountered when approaching someone for an interview.

These stories can be pretty entertaining. Sometimes the person being approached for a comment was known to loathe the particular news organization or even the specific reporter asking the question. So the refusal to cooperate could be issued in a seething way that was all but dripping with scorn and contempt.

Think of someone trembling with rage.

Now I should make clear, the point of this game is not to revel in memories of dealing with people who were in trouble or on some sort of hot seat. No, the point is to share recollections of the various ways news people have been told to go to blazes.

I can usually hold my own when swapping these blasts from the past. But I think I might have missed a chance to score an epic rebuff about 25 years ago.

I was in a restaurant in The Peabody hotel in Memphis. And I saw novelist Richard Ford at a table with a woman I assumed was his wife.

At that time, I was in the middle of reporting a feature story that involved asking various people to weigh in on some absurd theme I had cooked up. I can't remember exactly what it was. I just know it was a decidedly lightweight premise.

I could have interrupted the notoriously prickly writer and asked him my question. But I elected not to do so.

Have you ever seen a picture of Richard Ford — maybe appearing with a review of his new book? The guy looks like a raptor. He's not big, as I recall. But he definitely seems like he could get a serious mad on.

OK, for all I know, he might have been a good sport and cheerfully gone along with my pestering. Somehow I doubt it. Especially if it had come out that I hadn't ever been able to finish anything he had written.

But I'll never really know. 

What certain big banks count on

They must believe they can ding you and ding and ding you with service charges and you still won't take your business elsewhere because you imagine that switching all of your automatic-payment arrangements would be a monumental pain. 

Recalibrating a counterculture icon

According to reviews of a biography of the late writer, Richard Brautigan, the author of “Trout Fishing in America” used to enjoy getting drunk and then discharging firearms indoors.

Things you learn in college

Once upon a time at least, if you hung around the English department enough and were friends with a number of your female classmates, you heard about which visiting male writers were the most unrelenting horndogs.

Why didn’t Lou Grant fire Ted Baxter?

There was probably some skeletons-on-the closet reason. I just can't remember.

No. 1 song on this date in 1974

You sort of had to be there.

Programming alert

The 1963 episode of “The Andy Griffith Show” in which Spokane is mentioned is on the TV Land channel Monday morning at 11.

It's just a passing reference. But if you enjoy local trivia, it's fun to hear. You could record it and then fast-forward to near the end, which is where a returning soldier steps off a bus back home in North Carolina and mentions the Lilac City.

That show, “The Darlings Are Coming,” kicks off a block of six episodes featuring the musical mountain family.

But remember. TV Land has a record of chopping the hell out of these classic shows. Got to make room for yet another “Hot in Cleveland” promo, I suppose.

OK, “Andy Griffith” might not qualify as sacred texts, even to baby boomers. But as pop culture goes, some of those gentle stories come pretty close.

This date in Slice history (1999)

Ice cream cones never hurt on a first date.

Appearing on this date at Expo 74

Bob “It's great to be here in Crosby's hometown” Hope.

Smoke signals

Jerry Ito saw the Slice column reference to backyard cookouts that create so much smoke neighbors wonder if your house is on fire.

“I've got one better,” wrote Ito, a Davis, Calif., resident in Spokane visiting family. “Our charcoal grill put out so much smoke one time that a firefighter from the nearby fire station came by to check on us.”

I assume they offered him or her something to eat.

Preview of upcoming Slice columns

The next four print offerings are in the can, ready to go.

Here's a glimpse of what's in store.

Saturday: Something about life with teenage girls.

Sunday: I honestly can't remember.

Monday: Candles, asparagus and Steve Garvey T-shirts.

Tuesday: Name that grandfather.

One possible excuse to binge tonight

If you launch your new regimen tomorrow, you'll have 100 days to get in shape by Labor Day.

Something in the air

Judging by the multiple aroma belts I rode through between home and the Review Tower this morning, I'm guessing a fair number of free-ranging pets arrived home late last night smelling pretty skunky.

Spokane Quality of Life Index No. 43

It would appear that the estimated value/quality of front-porch furniture that people feel a need to chain up has dropped in the last few years.

Is it hard to be vegetarian in Spokane?

Of course, not every weekend is unofficially dedicated to burgers and steaks.

And your mileage may vary, depending on the makeup of your particular social circle. Admittedly, some people are freaked by the idea that not everyone makes the same choices they do.

But my impression is that the majority of those around here are OK if vegetarians do their own thing and keep the preaching to a minimum.

Not sure you would encounter the same live-and-let-live vibe in parts of Texas, the Midwest, the South and elsewhere.

The Spokane way

A friend with a somewhat cynical view of forward-thinking urban planning's role in decisions shaping downtown Spokane said he wonders when the Ridpath will become a parking lot.

Occupations/Insanely firm handshakes

I used to live in a city that was the home base of a leading overnight shipping service.

And I met a lot of pilots. One thing I noticed about them was the fact that a seemingly high percentage had what I would call unnecessarily firm handshakes.

You know what I'm talking about. The kind of handshakes that feel more like an assault than a greeting. (Even if you yourself are quite capable of squeezing someone's hand robustly, you are at a competitive disadvantage when the other person catches you off guard with the vise-grip of doom.)

I don't recall associating other occupations with this habit, though surely pilots aren't the only ones who do this. (And I realize not all aviators do.)

I knew a sweet old guy who used to really pour it on when we met. But I always chalked up his firm grip to enthusiasm. He was a retired wheat farmer.

What has your experience been? Have you found any correlation between occupation and handshake vigor?

You be the editor

When determining when to tack a state identifier (“Idaho” or “Wash.”) onto the name of a town in our area, what should guide SR writers and editors?

A)  Common sense. B) Desire for clarity. C) Assumption that readers don't know anything about the Inland Northwest. D) Commitment to edit the paper for the three people who moved here half an hour ago. E) Desire to make those living in communities requiring state identifiers feel that the people producing the newspaper regard them as dwelling in distant hinterlands. F) Desire to avoid that first step on the slippery slope of giving readers an ounce of credit. G) Want to avoid confusion with Metaline Falls, Idaho. H) Obedience to the sacred style book, which dictates that while sports stories do not have to explain the meaning of “home run” every time, utter ignorance should be assumed in all other instances. I) A desire to make sure a columnist does not achieve a conversational tone. J) Recognition that most SR readers are lifelong shut-ins who have never ventured out to explore our beautiful area. K) Never pass up an opportunity to sound stilted. L) Add the state identifier in the spirit of offering a friendly reminder. M) Treat it as a geographic stigmata. N) Just be sure to do it the way we've always done it. O) Other.   

On this date at Expo 74

I'm pretty sure I used a picture of this album cover last May. But perhaps you would agree that it deserves annual review.

This date in Slice history (1997)

Think of Memorial Day as first base.

Now think of summer as second base.

The question becomes this: How much of a lead-off can you take without getting picked off by back-to-work/school reality? 

Hey kids, here’s what they don’t tell you

You know those summer jobs you are trying to line up? Well, of course, the money is the big attraction.

And you probably have heard all you care to about acquiring a work ethic, building character and what not.

But there's something else you need to consider.

Summer jobs can be a source of treasured anecdotes you will tell for years and years.

Horrible boss? Don't fret. Makes a good story.

Insane co-workers? Same.

Angry customers? Ditto. 

Why, you yourself might even wind up being the creative genius behind some memorable workplace antics.

So don't view your seasonal employment as mind-numbing, soul-stealing drudgery. Think of it as a source of material.

Multiple choice

How do you react to professional sports leagues in the United States crowning a “world champion”?

A) U.S.A.! U.S.A! B) It's embarrassing. The only competition that deserves to use that expression is soccer's World Cup. C) But we are the center of the universe. D) You mean they don't care about the World Series in most of the world? E) Who cares about other countries anyway? F) Other.

Email typo of the day

It's pretty bad when someone misspells his or her own name.

But it happens.

This morning, though, I encountered a new one.

Needing her mailing address so I could send her a coveted reporter's notebook, I sent an email to a woman whose first name is Shireen.

She promptly replied. But she accidentally inserted a “t” between the “i” and the “r” in her name.

At least I assume it was an accident. I have no knowledge of her having self-esteem issues.

Besides, the T key and R key are right next to each other. It could happen to anyone.

And when I wrote back to say I would address the notebook envelope to “Shireen” instead of, you know, she wrote back and apologized for the typo, adding “LOL.”   

Born In Spokane Department

If you are curious about Keith Colley, I suggest you look him up. I'm not going to pretend that I had heard of him before five minutes ago.

How panhandlers are different

I'm just guessing.

I have not done any polling.

But, assuming we were in freelance pursuit of the ever-elusive “spare change,” I'd bet that it would not occur to most of us to hail a cyclist riding through downtown shortly after sunrise and solicit a cash donation.

And yet, that has happened to me twice this week.

Maybe these guys think it's all part of Bike to Work Week.

The Wednesday Slice

Before The Slice Blog debuted a year ago, I had a concern.

Well, two actually. One was pretty basic: What if nobody reads it?

I addressed that by deciding to have fun and not fret about it too much. Still had my day job, after all.

But there was another worry: What if I use contributions from my regular readers and then anonymous commenters pounce on those individuals in an insanely hostile manner?

In the print world, I can more or less shield my correspondents from abuse. That would not be the case on the blog — at least not to the same extent.

I had this vision of trotting out some proud grandmother's tale about something her grandchild said and then looking on as unhinged commenters flamed her.

Now the print Slice column has appeared on this site for years. My sense is that it doesn't get much attention online. But SR web readers have always been free to bash it at will. As it happens, those few online readers who have bothered to take shots mostly aimed at me. Which, of course, is fine. Affirming, even.

Still, I feared individual blog posts based on a Slice reader's contribution would alter the equation. I was afraid such posts would be a tempting target, even if they were decidedly not about politics, race or law enforcement..

In the end, this didn't materialize as an issue. For one thing, a seemingly high percentage of those submitting  observations, stories and Slice answers to me have no real interest in showing up on the blog. Sad but true. For most, my using their offering on the blog is the same as not having used it at all.

People have been nice about this, but the message has been clear. So I wound up using not nearly as much newspaper reader-submitted material as I had anticipated. 

Another factor is the simple reality that, though it has some readers, this blog doesn't attract many comments. I have mixed feelings about that. More comments would be nice, certainly. But I'm pleased to note that virtually all of my regular providers of visible feedback are good-natured.

Thanks to them and all others who have spent time with The Slice Blog.

One of my posts on the blog's opening day last year was a circular Q and A. I'll conclude this edition of The Wednesday Slice with a follow-up.

Q: Doesn't sound like there's much synergy between the print column and the blog. Why even bother with the blog?

A: Well, I enjoy producing it. And I always hope to connect with readers I might not reach otherwise. Have no idea if its existence has ever once helped sell an online ad. 

Q: Isn't your approach a lot like the way you write your print column, and isn't that considered a classic recipe for failure online?

A: You have a point.

Q: Given the trends for newspapers, I can see why you might want to do something that's not print. But why be so half-assed? Why not jump into social media with both feet?

A: Another good point.

Q: What have you learned?

A: The SR's Dave Oliveria told me that, given the 24/7 potential of blogging and the fact that you can instantly publish from home, it would be a challenge to maintain boundaries between work and non-work. He was right.

Q: Have you considered that The Slice Blog might be inane, irrelevant and boring?

A: Sure. But it seems like there isn't one monolithic audience for any online content except maybe porn and pictures of cats. People pick and choose. Some in Spokane and elsewhere might be interested in the same things that interest me. Well, some of the time.

Q: Of all the journalists and quasi-journalists working in the United States today, might you be the most ridiculously self-impressed when it comes to your own work milestones? 

A: It's quite possible.

Q: Are you going to do some things differently during the blog's second year?

A: Yes.

Q: Like what?

A: You'll have to come back to find out.

Just wondering

If you are talking to someone on your land-line phone, do you think that person can tell you are monitoring the progress of a baseball game on your cell phone by the fact you keep muttering things like “Son of a…” and “Oh, for the love of God, Cabrera”?  

(For guys only) Ever wear a metal one?

If you tilt your head just so, the ventilation holes sort of make this look like the face of the tormented individual in that Norwegian painting that just sold for a gazillion dollars.

Pep talk

I have a bus driver friend whose current afternoon STA route overlaps part of my bike ride home.

Sometimes, when he overtakes me slowly going up a hill, he opens the bus doors and asks, “Need a ride?”

Yesterday afternoon, I was on my way home and heard a bus coming up from behind.

When my friend opened the doors and smiled, I asked him how he always managed to encounter me when I was going my slowest. I suggested it was if he is my personal trainer or something.

He said he liked that idea. Then his face grew serious and he said “Let's pick up the pace a little.”

Can you imagine all the fatal accidents?

This idea only made sense to those who had never seen people drive.

She must not have all her internal organs

Or maybe she is related to Barbie.

Though Mr. Suspenders doesn't seem to mind that the length of her legs clearly signals that she is not an Earth woman.

Using old TV Westerns lingo in real life

When your dog or cat is acting a little strange (but not in a way that suggests the animal is unwell).

You can make knowing eye contact with a family member and offer a time-honored diagnosis.


This date in Slice history (1997)

It's perhaps not the scariest category of crime.

But we're told preschoolers stealing toys from one another's homes/yards is fairly common. And one Spokane mother with whom we spoke wonders why more parents don't notice or care when little Brendan or Brittany mysteriously appear to have acquired some great new stuff.  

Happy Victoria Day

Yes, I realize it is a Canadian holiday. But I think it's good for those of us in border states to pay attention.

One of my SR colleagues once worked for the Canadian consulate (or mini-embassy or whatever they call it) in Seattle. While working there, she got both U.S. and Canadian holidays off. Pretty sweet.

I wonder if anyone around here has a fit-for-a-queen deal like that. Doubt it.

Anyone here seen every “Perry Mason”?

Surely, given how long these ancient reruns have been a noontime TV fixture in Spokane, there must be a few people who can claim to have seen them all.

20 years ago on “Northern Exposure”

In an episode titled “Cicely,” Joel learns that the town was founded long ago by two free-thinking women and that the place used to be known as the Paris of the North.

(“Cicely” actually first aired on May 18, 1992, but I didn't have room for “this week” in the headline.)

Entertaining lies I have been told

In the late '80s, I found myself at the state prison in Walla Walla, visiting with some convicts.

I don't recall how we got on to the subject of musical groups from the state of Washington. But at some point, this one prisoner from the West Side told me that he used to party with the Wilson sisters of Heart back when they still lived in Bellevue.

I did not believe it then. I do not believe it now.

But I'm pretty sure my response at the time was something along the lines of “No kidding…wow. That's something.”  

How to drive others out of their minds

1. Subscribe to cable TV.

2. Make sure to get a package that comes with the full Music Choice lineup.

3. Get comfortable, grab the remote and settle in for a marathon channel-surfing session in which you listen to parts of 781 songs in an hour.

While regular channel-surfing is pretty easy for other members of your household to tune out, music is different. Songs can command attention in a special way. But when you aren't the one with the remote, it's almost certain to be a maddening experience.

“Oh, that's a great song…don't change it, don't change it…ahh, fudge.” 

Channeling on a Monday morning

From the first mention of Jaguar on “Mad Men” this season, I have been certain that we would eventually see the XKE.

For once, I was right.

And with “House” wrapping  up tonight, I can at long last stop asking myself why I stay with that show. The answer, of course, was always quite obvious: Hugh Laurie.

In any case, focusing on the Sherlock Holmes/Dr. Watson friendship between House and Wilson seems like a good choice for the swan song. 

Before the graphical user interface

There was this key invention.

In busy store parking lots

How much more careful are people who just pulled into the next space about how they open their car doors if they see that you are there sitting in your car?

A) For a lot of people, it's 99 percent more careful. B) For people who care about their own doors anyway, it probably doesn't make much difference. C) Maybe 50 percent more careful. D) Do you look at a glance like someone who might be able to kick their ass? (Not applicable to women who just pulled in.)  E) Other.

48 years of mishearing “I Get Around”

I don't set the car radio on oldies stations. I usually put it on scan. At least when I'm by myself.

But I was on my way over to my mother's to watch the Preakness when the tuner landed on a snippet of “I Get Around” by the Beach Boys. It's a song I admired more when I was in grade school than I do now. But I listened.

And there it was. A lyric that has baffled me since I was 9.

“We always take my car cause it's never been beat

“And we never miss get with the girls we meet”

When I was a kid, I suspect I thought that was some sort of crude teen code for achieving a measure of closeness with bothersome females. Though why anyone would want to do that remained a mystery.

In later years, I might have factored in the possibility that I wasn't hearing it right. Maybe I have even known the actual line in the song at one time or another.

I once had occasion to visit briefly with the late Carl Wilson. I could have asked him.

“Hey, Carl. When your brother and cousin wrote 'I Get Around,' what were they saying about meeting girls?”

Fortunately, I said nothing of the sort. So when that song came on this afternoon, what I heard was “And we never miss get.”

Old habits die hard.

So, my mom and I watched I'll Have Another win the second leg of the Triple Crown. And I came home.

Then I looked up the lyrics to “I Get Around.”

Turns out the actual line is this: “And we've never missed yet with the girls we meet.”

Not quite so vulgar as “get,” I suppose. But it's still bragging.

Yes, hip hop didn't invent that.

“I Get Around” became a No. 1 hit in 1964. But the song on the other side of that 45 is the one that made me think the Beach Boys were special.

Ever drive by a yard sale and think…

…it looks like the aftermath of some sort of disaster?

On this date at Expo 74

In the spring of 1974, Gordon Lightfoot was neither about-to-make-it nor sliding on a downward slope. He was BIG at that precise moment in his career.

Just realized I'm a day late with this. Oh, well. If you could read my mind you would know I can live with that.

Spokane rain check

Here are some of the non-Northwest U.S. cities that get three times the annual rainfall Spokane receives: Atlanta, Birmingham, Houston, Jacksonville, Memphis, Miami, New Orleans, New York and Orlando.

Here are some of the cities that get at least double the amount of Spokane's rainfall: Austin, Baltimore, Boston, Buffalo, Burlington, Charlotte, Chicago, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Dallas, Detroit, Hartford, Indianapolis, Kansas City, Louisville, Milwaukee, Nashville, Oklahoma City, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Providence, Raleigh, Richmond, Rochester, San Antonio, St. Louis, Tampa and Washington, D.C.

And the list of cities that simply get significantly more precipitation than we do here in our corner of “rainy Washington” is insanely long.

Knowing where to put the accent

Many years ago, I went over to the downtown library and planted myself next to the phone books from other U.S. cities.

I went through quite a few, looking for people whose last name was “Spokane.”

When I had a decent harvest, I went back to the paper and called these people. I wanted to know how they pronounced their last name. (As I recall, it ended up being a split decision.)

But here's my question today: What is it like having a last name that can be pronounced in more than one way?

I wouldn't know.

Just wondering

Will cult worshippers of “The Big Lebowski” arrive in costume if they attend John Fogerty's local appearance next month?

If this makes no sense to you, don't worry. There is every chance that you can still go on to lead a happy, productive life.

Ladies and gentlemen, The Rockers

According to this Spokane group existed in one form or another from 1957 until 1965. Personnel and hair styles changed over the years.

For more information, go to that site and enter The Rockers in the search box.

Taking the pledge

Feel free to join me.

“If I happen to encounter Lindsey Buckingham in downtown Spokane on Monday, I vow not to ask him any questions about Stevie Nicks.”

Sometimes there’s no follow-up question

Coming to work this morning, I found myself thinking of things I should have mentioned in an upcoming column about backyard grilling.

And my mind flashed back to a time when I was part of a small group of reporters interviewing Ralph Nader before a speaking appearance on a college campus.

This was quite some time before the consumer advocate began siphoning progressive votes from Democratic presidential candidates.

Anyway, someone asked him if he ever ate hot dogs.

Nader didn't have to pause before answering.

“Hot dogs are garbage. Why would I eat garbage?”

Next question. 

Are you one of Steve Garvey’s children?

Yes, that's impolite.

But considering what we learned long ago about the onetime Los Angeles Dodgers slugger's off-field antics, it seems fair to ask.

Did he father some children here while a member of the Spokane Indians?

If Garvey was your dad, you would be about 42 now. You might have a prominent chin.

If you think it is a possibility, ask your mother if she used to be a baseball fan.

Remember, Father's Day — the special occasion invented in Spokane — is just 31 days away. But there's still time to pick out a nice card.

Family secrets

A friend's grade-school son was trying to recall all of the beds he had slept in at home over the years.

He specified that he was not counting the “cage bed.”

My friend was puzzled. Cage bed? It seemed like she would remember if she had confined the boy to a sleeping arrangement one wouldn't want the authorities to hear about. 

Then she realized. Her son was talking about his crib.

Generalizing about population density

When you think of extremely low population density, what comes to mind?

A) Freedom. B) Safety. C) Nutjobs. D) Nothing. E) Wild-eyed extremists whose ideas are off the grid. F) Self-sufficiency. G) Four-wheel drive. H) Salt of the Earth. I) Several unflattering isms. J) A cross-section of personalities similar to what you would encounter in the city. K) Septic tanks. L) Other. 

I’m not quite sure about that map

“Where did you grow up?”

“Me? In the blank area.”

Strange Spokane Connections Dept.

Reading that Kenny Loggins would be performing in our area this summer reminded me of a 2008 Slice item.

There's a small picture of the singer on the cover of the vinyl “Caddyshack” soundtrack LP. That photo was taken by Spokane's Don Hamilton.

Memorial Day Sales: Yes or no?

The coupling of commerce and big days on the calendar has a long tradition.

So we're pretty used to Labor Day Blowout Sales and Doorbuster Bargains on Columbus Day. Or whatever.

But Memorial Day Sales are the ones that give me pause.

Now I don't assume that the people running ads for such events have any less regard for the meaning of the holiday than I do. Nor do I think the essential real-world spirit of that weekend is solemn or contemplative.

Moreover, there is nothing saying a person couldn't get a good deal on lawn furniture AND spend time thinking about those who died during military service.

Still, it seems like there's a slightly jarring disconnect here.

I almost didn't bring this up because I feared it would sound like linking arms with the sort of wear-it-on-their-sleeves performance patriots I can't stand. You know, the kind of folks who regard national loyalty as some sort of simpleminded competition.

I'm just saying I have never gotten used to the whole Memorial Day Sale idea. That's all. 

If people here did not water their lawns

What would this area look like if people here did not water their lawns and adjacent landscaping? Would that be a bad thing? Would it help those in our midst who complain about rain to recognize that we don't get much? To what extent do trees on watered property rely on sprinkler water to survive? What's the key thing to understand about the politics of turf lawns? If you would agree that yards covered in grass aren't really a natural thing here, how did it become a cultural norm?   

This date in Slice history (2002)

Annual Slice question: Which is it? Spokane is big enough to offer cultural amenities without big-city hassles… or …Spokane doesn't offer much in the way of cultural amenities but it's big enough to pose all the usual urban problems? 

This date in Furry Talk history (2000)

Q: What do you get if you cross an insomniac with an atheist and a dyslexic?

A: Someone who lies awake at night wondering if there is a dog.

The Wednesday Slice

If it comes from the right person, there are few compliments better than “Leave her alone, she knows what she's doing.”

Let's move on.


The ones that got away: A brief item in tomorrow's print Slice features a local woman saying that the vision of a cold beer keeps her going in one particular situation. (No, it's not sex.) Anyway, that reminded me of something I witnessed about 30 years ago.

A group of about half a dozen men ranging in age from the mid-20s to late 30s had been hiking all day in the Grand Canyon. Some of it had involved portaging a couple of kayaks (which were not as light as they tend to be now). By the time we stopped for the day and started to set up our camp right next to the Colorado River, everyone was seriously spent.

What happened next would be talked about for years.

One of our party, a newspaper photographer named Jeff, placed an assortment of our beverages in the water to chill. This included a six-pack of beer. Though insanely heavy to be lugging in a backpack, a lawyer in our group named Don had insisted on bringing the beer. It would be, he said, his celebration of surviving the rapids. Or something.

I don't remember exactly how we spent the next half hour or so. Maybe washing up in the cold water, changing clothes and unfurling sleeping bags.

Eventually Don the lawyer decided he was ready to experience bliss. Visions of a cold beer had been foaming up in his head for hours. And now he was ready to satisfy a sincere and monumental longing.

So he strode to river and looked. And looked. And looked.

Where's the beer, he asked.

Jeff the photographer pointed to the water. Don the lawyer shook his head.

A big, fat “Oh, no” dawned on us.

The beers were gone.

The. Beers. Were. Gone.

Though there was a brief period of disbelief and denial, it quickly became apparent that they had floated away in the direction of Mexico on our fast-moving stretch of the river.

Running downstream along the bank was fruitless and, after about 100 yards, not possible because of a rock projection into the water.

For a moment, it seemed that the discussion and blame apportioning might come to blows. It didn't. Still, the hard feelings were quite real and did not fade quickly.

I didn't think Don the lawyer handled it well. Still don't.

But I sort of understand. When you find yourself sustained during challenging exertion by a vision of what's at the end of the rainbow and then discover that the prize has been snatched away, well, that's hard to swallow.

I haven't talked to either of those guys in decades. But if they still go on hikes and have occasion to put drinks in cold, wild water, I'm sure they remember.

I know I do. And thinking of the beers that got away always makes me want to get up and head for the fridge.


Today's Slice question: Next Wednesday is The Slice Blog's first anniversary. Should be closing in on 2,500 posts about then. What should I change for Year 2?

A) Less of everything. B) Less personal-recollections stuff. C) Less baby boomer nostalgia. D) Less sports. E) Less old ads. F) Make it less like the print Slice. G) Less oddball local-connection stuff. H) Less about things that interest only those who went to high school in the 1970s. I) Less Expo '74. J) Less opinion. K) Less “Twilight Zone” and No. 1 songs. L) Fewer questions. M) More (please specify). N) Other.  


Write The Slice at P.O. Box 2160, Spokane, WA 99210; call (509) 459-5470; email The real pros don't just park in shade — they park where the shade will be just before they come back to the car.

Write your own local bumper sticker

In Spokane, what would be the quintessential “Honk if you…” bumper sticker?

Here’s the airport with the SPO code

It's San Pablo Airport in Spain. Wonder if they'd swap their code for a few tubs of huckleberries.

Fan mail from a Slice hater

(I have written to the sender of the following email, asking permission to use his note and name on my blog. But while I wait to hear back from him, I will share this with you sans name.)

This is in response to today's print column.

“Rarely read you, but today's headline/teaser re: weather caught me. For YOU, of all people, to call someone's, anyone's presentation, 'witless banter' is surprising to say the least. Good heavens, you fill space probably 300 days a year, with what is best described as 'witless trivia'. You have NO room to criticize anyone else. Yes, their on air banter is very predictable; so is your daily print 'banter'.”  

All-time best Washington product?

I asked this in print a few years ago. But I found myself wondering this morning how I could find a way to use a photo of a Flying Fortress. And so I am recycling that question.

Re: Comic strips you read as a child

If you had occasion to review some of the newspaper comic strips you read as a kid, what do you suppose you would make of them?

A) I would admire the artwork and subtle humor. B) I would ask myself, “What did I see in this?” C) I would think, “Well, I was just a child then.” D) I would remember that some of them bugged me even back then. E) Despite the evidence before me, I would hold fast to my personal policy position that everything was better back then. F) I would be impressed with some of them and shake my head about others. G) Other.

Agree or disagree

For kids being punished, getting “grounded” was a stiffer sentence decades ago than it is today. 

Are you easily offended?

I'm wondering. If you asked people that, would anyone say “Yes”?

Oh, sure. We all know there are people who enjoy being offended by this or that alleged assault on their delicate sensibilties. They revel in being put out. You know the type. Think of that old SNL “Church Lady” routine.

But would anyone actually admit to being easily offended? Maybe. But I sort of doubt it.

If you work at a newspaper, you hear from offended people with some regularity. And sometimes that can make your head swim.

The range of potentially offensive material floating around pop culture is so incredibly broad. But newspapers tend to be pretty tame. That's not a knock. It's just the way it is.

So sometimes when a reader is complaining about something that, in all honesty, isn't really all that outrageous, it's tempting to wonder…What would happen if this person had to sit through a Louis C.K. routine? Would she spontaneously combust?

Of course, readers have certain expectations of newspapers. I understand that. But once in a while it's baffling when people seem incapable of placing a paper's content in the context of the broader culture.

I'm not advocating a loosening or coarsening of standards. I just wish people who decide to be shocked by things that are simply not all that shocking would get a grip.

Comedian Louis C.K. 


This date in Slice history (1999)

Multiple choice: Which subjects do newspaper features sections care about way more than you do?

A) Chamber music. B) The plight of independent bookstores. C) Audience support for art films. D) Inner lives of unhappy women. E) Celebrities. F) Pets' favorite Web sites. G) Quirky cuisines. H) People who aren't like you.

Battle of the movie battle scenes

Where would you rank the opening battle scene in 2000's “Gladiator” on your list of all-time best movie depictions of large-scale combat?

Do you cut your hair short for summer?

I used to think this was just something parents arranged for children. But it seems like more and more adults are going the close-cropped route as the weather warms up. How about you? If so, why do you embrace this?

A) It's cooler. B) Makes it easier to spot ticks. C) Hair dries quicker when I get ouf of the water. D) Enjoy being asked if I re-upped. E) Makes it harder to guess my political/cultural leanings. F) Other.  

Ever been to Trail, B.C.?

What do you recall?

I remember that the Cominco complex seemed to go on and on and on.

Songs I’m happy to have stuck in head

I'm sure more than a few others who read about the death of Duck Dunn listened to some Booker T and the MGs this morning.

I recommend it.

Everybody likes “Green Onions.” But don't neglect “Time is Tight.”

Just drink from the bottle, for Pete’s sake

That guy doesn't look strong enough to hold the tray like that.

How many former Spokane Indians…

…have been on the cover of Sports Illustrated?

This is Ron Fairly. Steve Garvey would make two, but surely there are more.

They walk among us

There's a a chance that the youngish grandmother in line next to you at the grocery store used to have a pair of white Go Go boots.

Starter quiz

Neither of these roles had much to do with her fame.

But can you name the actress who once played a Spokane socialite and also guest starred in an episode of “Rawhide.”

Mother’s Day weekend sunburns

Here's hoping they aren't too bad. But I guess we won't really know until we count the boiled lobster faces on Monday.

No. 1 song on this date 30 years ago

What do you suppose John Lennon would have thought of this song? 

Saluting moms with vintage advertising

Please don't smoke, mom.

The Mother's Day nightmare — grapefruit in bed..

But then what will give her life meaning?

Mom's just teasing him before bringing down the “You'll spoil your dinner” hammer.

After a satisfying day of picking up surfers.

OK, this is not a real ad. Too bad.

As you may recall, she played a mother on another planet on TV.

Honest, I wasn’t staring at your boobs

I do not make it a practice to read aloud or otherwise comment on things printed on the front of women's T-shirts or tank tops.

This is especially true when the garment in question is straining to contain the wearer's front porch, as it were.

But today I could not resist.

Dismounting from the salon chair after gettting a haircut, I noticed one person sitting in the waiting area. It was a curvy woman who might be in her middle or late 30s. She had on a tight top that said “Champlain College.”

When I say tight, I mean really tight.

I told her that I knew of a Champlain College in Burlington, Vermont.

Same one, she said.

I told her that I had gone to high school in Burlington and that I had moved my parents to Spokane from there in 2000.

I volunteered that it was a pretty terrific little city. She agreed.

It turned out she had done some sort of online program through the school. But she had been  to Vermont once or twice during the duration of her studies.

The stylist noted that this woman had recently graduated.

Maintaining a laser-lock gaze on her face, I congratulated her.

I'll bet I'm only person she'll meet today who has lived in the Green Mountain State. But I won't be the last to read her chest. 

How to lose customers the easy way

Dear Mr. and Mrs. Spokane Business Owner,

Want to get rid of customers fast and forever? It's simple, really.

Just have a van or truck prominently adorned with the name of your establishment and hire a driver who is an utter ass out on the road.

Works every time.

I’m optimistic about baby names trend

Two preschool boys who live across the street from us have Franklin and Finnegan for first names.

What’s your favorite Van Halen song?

I've always liked “Just Like Paradise,” but I think, technically, that's a Davd Lee Roth song.

In any event, I don't like it $175 worth.

Before turning in last night, I read a lovely and generous New York Times piece on a Beach Boys concert (which included Brian Wilson). I revere their legacy as much as the next guy. Probably more. But after reading that and seeing Carolyn Lamberson's tweet this morning about Van Halen coming here, I found myself wondering if that whimsical Society for Advancement of Time stll exists.

Maybe the founders gave up when they realized it isn't just baby boomers who like to remember.

Getting hammered by Grammar Police

Well, maybe two phone messages and two emails doesn't quite qualify as “hammered.”

Seventy five percent of this particular readership subset this morning have been perfectly friendly. (Should that be “has”?)

In any event, I have noticed a shift in my attitude about the Grammar Police in recent years. These days, I find that I am somehow reassured by this indication that someone cares.

Their beef? All four suggested there is a glaring problem in the opening sentence of today's print Slice.  . 

Fifty years ago on “The Twilight Zone”

An episode called “Young Man's Fancy” first aired on May 11, 1962.

Intending to stay for just a minute, a just-married couple stop by the groom's vacant childhood home after the wedding. He discovers that he cannot leave.

Some regarded this as one of the five most annoying TZ episodes.  Here a longtime “perennial bachelor” has a chance to head out on a honeymoon with his attractive bride and he can't cut his ties to the past.

Somebody slap the guy. Or call a lawyer for her.

Played here both before and after NHL

Which is a pretty unusual career arc.

How do you like the hair style?

Thanks to brianrbreen for the tip. 

Twenty-five years ago this summer

Does this make you cringe?

Just think. There are twentysomethings who have never seen this.

“Nobody puts Baby in the corner.”

It turns out not all women are mothers

Saying “Happy Mother's Day” to a woman you don't know indicates that you…

A) Assume all women are mothers. B) Assume all women should be mothers. C) Are just trying to be friendly. D) Are incapable of comprehending that the values, circumstances and choices guiding your life might not be universal. E) Are just trying to note the occasion. F) Assume all women are married. G) Have never considered that there might be women who desperately want to be mothers but have been unable to make that dream come true. H) Often fail to think before speaking. I) Tend to define women's roles in society in what might be referred to as a traditional way. J) Live in Spokane. K) Other.   

More Spokane Indians who got the call

Sakata spent all or parts of three seasons in Spokane in the 1970s.

I seem to recall that my former colleague, Susan English, has some stories about this guy. 

What’s wrong with this picture?

Complaining about potholes and then complaining about being delayed in traffic by road repair projects.

Unintentionally X-rated

Sometimes it's good to be open about your emotions.

And there's certainly nothing inherently wrong with crying.

But I'm told there's a woman employed at a Spokane TV station who likes to get on Twitter and report that she has been reduced to tears by this or that television show.

Apparently this happens to her a lot. I've heard that casual observers might well conclude that this is her state every time she turns around.

Fine. But reportedly she is unaware that the present participle she seeks is “bawling,” not a verb that sounds like that but is spelled differently and is burdened with a vulgar slang meaning.

But who knows. Maybe she is saying exactly what she means and these ribald romps are how she processes feelings.

Whatever gets you through the night.

Who knew?

A friend suggested what strikes me as a pretty great Slice question.

What personal flaws or shortcomings (as observed by your spouse) have you learned were on his or her list of your demerits only as a result of a conversation about one of your children?

His wife  — a very nice person, by the way — was talking to my friend about their young son recently and allowed that “Unfortunately, he has your knees.”

My friend freely admits that his knees, great ungainly things, are not a sight one would wish to experience while near open food. But he had not realized their appearance was officially on his wife's list of his personal defects.

What actor should play you in a movie?

You know, when Hollywood finally gets around to filming your life story.

But maybe that will happen only after Robert Caro turns his back on LBJ and produces a multi-volume biography of you.

Maybe we couldn’t have handled truth

I don't think time spent with nonsense of this nature doomed a kid to a lifelong inability to grasp the horrors of combat. But I wonder if early exposure to depictions of war more along the lines of the opening 30 minutes of “Saving Private Ryan” might have helped some of us wise up a little bit sooner.

Just wondering

My mother-in-law saw a few St. Louis Browns games.

I wonder how many people can say they saw teams that no longer exist (or moved to other cities and acquired new names).

Today’s local-connection baseball card

I know this one is hard to read. He was here in 1975.

Was trying to find a Hoyt Wilhelm card reflecting his brief stint in Spokane. But his major league career was so long, the only cards I find list just his time in the bigs.

Ergonomic keyboards: Fan or scoffer?

I guess you don't necessarily have to be in one camp or the other. But I know I used to be a scoffer. And now that I have been using an ergonomic keyboard for a while, I'm a bit of fan.

Of course, what I really need to do if I want to save my forearms from total numbness is to spend way less time typing.

Anyway, the keyboard I use at work is one of those garden-variety numbers that incorporates a slight wave. Nothing radical. I wonder what people have to say about the more exotic designs.

This date in Slice history (1997)

Today's Slice question: Who has the most moronic laugh in the Spokane area?

What if these supplanted ballcaps?

“Hey, you look good in that. Is that a Father Chuck hat?”

“Yes. Yes, it is.”   

This date in Slice history (2000)

Smells of summer: One reader said he knows warm weather is on the way when he finds himself mowing mint.

Another big leaguer who played here


And still another.

Randle was here during the 1973 season. He might be most famous for a photo of him trying to blow a slow roller into foul territory.

The Wednesday Slice

I rode my bike to work for the first time on this date in 2008. It was a Friday shakedown cruise before Bike to Work Week.

Here are a few things I have learned in four years of two-wheeled commuting.

Never forget your gloves on chilly mornings.

I can't read minds, but the vast majority of Spokane motorists seem to have no problem sharing the road.

If a cyclist is visible and predictable, there shouldn't be a lot of drama out there.

You encounter way more hostility toward cycling and cyclists online than you do in the real world.

If you have decent, properly inflated tires and an OK bike, flats and mechanical breakdowns shouldn't be a frequent problem.

Just as experienced riders warned me before I started, drivers unnecessarily and inappropriately wanting to yield the right of way is a bit of a pain. (Treat us as vehicles, please.) 

Becoming a bike rider gives your family a fun new birthday/Christmas gift theme to work with. (You can never have too many lights and reflecting vests.)

If you stay with it, hills that are not doable at first become doable. And after that, they can eventually become routine.

That “cyclists don't pay taxes” BS gets really, really old.

The speed with which you can instantly shift from happily rolling along to WHAM — “Hey, I'm down on the street in the dark sliding on black ice” cannot be exaggerated.

Being known by your first name at a bike shop is kind of a kick.

If you approached a red light downtown at 5:20 a.m. with zero traffic in sight, what would you do?

Because it is so much quicker, bike riding pretty much ruined my enthusiasm for walking to and from work, which I had been doing for years.

Bike riding turned out not to be a problem for one of my knees that had me worried.

Guys driving pickups seem to really appreciate cyclists indicating with hand signals an intention to turn.

I've always liked useful exercise. Since getting on a bike, I like it even more.

Seeing the smiles of little kids on bikes when you acknowledge them with your own horn or bell can make your day.

Turns out you really can carry quite a bit in those saddlebags.

Riding in the rain isn't all that bad if you are headed home to a shower anyway.

Modern helmets are so light, wearing one quickly becomes second nature.

I silently thank my employer every day for providing a safe place to lock up my bike.

If you are a newspaper columnist who occasionally refers to being a bike rider, there are readers who will actually count the number of times you do so.

I miss listening to NPR's “Morning Edition” on the radio on the way to work. (Earphones and bike riding don't strike me as a safe mix.)

Waving or nodding to other cyclists feels like being part of a loose-knit community.

As I have said on previous occasions, self-styled “elite” riders who fancy themselves too good to acknowledge decidedly non-elite riders such as myself can go to blazes at their earliest convenience.

If you become a cyclist and really get into it, there will be a serious temptation to bore friends and co-workers with bike talk. This impulse eases off a bit after a time, but never completely goes away.

No matter what sort of day at work I've had, getting on my bike to head home feels good. 


This date in Slice history (1995): Warm-up question: Which of your co-workers is most consistently obnoxious about suggesting that he or she is too cool for Spokane?


Today's Slice question: Who performed at the first rock/pop/country concert you ever attended? 

Write The Slice at P.O. Box 2160, Spokane, WA 99210; call (509) 459-5470; email There are people here who never, and I mean never, go to Seattle.

A 20th anniversary Slice column slogan

Let's start the search.

A) “Oh, the inanity!” B) “Inane in the membrane.” C) “Here's some stuff.” D) “Not jumping to an inside page since 1992.” E) “One of America's this-and-that columns.” F) “Now appearing in your fun-size paper.” G) “Some days it's OK.” H) “The last real survey we did indicated it was the newspaper's best read column, though the fact it comes out so often might have something to do with that.” I) Other.

Wicked Witch’s demise Spokane style

What can make someone around here cry out, “I'm melting! Melting! Oh, what a world! What a world!”

A) A few clouds and slightly coolish springtime temperatures. B) A first-round Zags NCAA loss. C) Being asked to pay full price. D) The numbers on the gas pump. E) Having to don a necktie. F) Snowplows failing to get to a person's street for 40 days and 40 nights. G) Fluoride. H) Exposure to public school teachers who don't mask very well the fact that they regard certain parents as idiots. I) Other.   

Slice answer

“I think the sound of the river is 'money money' for Avista,” wrote Rich Clift. “Like they really need it.”

Remember meeting your in-laws?

Those with total recall of “The Dyke Van Dyke Show” will realize why this is a suitable illustration for that question.

Whatever you do…

…don't get this jingle stuck in your head.

Just wondering

How many airlines have you flown on that no longer exist?

Possible reactions to earlier sunrises

A) An extra spring in your step. B) Glad to no longer be walking your dog in the dark. C) Renewed commitment to being the person at work who helpfully says “It's too nice out to be cooped up in here.” D) Growing suspicion that you are not getting enough sleep. E) Muttering about the birds chirping right outside your bedroom window. F) Other.

Agree or disagree

If you have any kind of accent assumed to be North American in origin, 90 percent of the people you encounter in the Spokane area will guess that you are either a Texan or a Canadian.

It's as if there are no other possibilities.

Slice answer (keeping soreness private)

I enjoyed the following note from Paul Baxter.

“Mr. Turner,

“In Monday's column you asked if there were any kind of soreness that people in your office regarded as too personal to discuss.

“I don't work in an office. I have spent most of my adult life outside working construction or demolition. Call me old school in that I will be eligible for Social Security in a few years.

“Myself and other old schoolers adhere to an unwritten law of not admitting to pain of any type and working through it.

 “However, the younger people starting out in the business are more than willing to talk about the subject. In fact they are quite willing to show you the site of the pain. As a result I have seen body parts I didn't know it was possible to pierce or tattoo.”  

Just wondering

When you are looking at an out-of-town newspaper, do you always check to see if Spokane is in the list of cities' temperatures on the weather page?  

Thinking about Sophia Loren

Surely others saw the reference to “Don Quixote” in today's symphony review and found themselves thinking of the 1972 movie “Man of LaMancha” featuring Ms. Loren testing the load-bearing capacity of a peasant blouse.

Funny how great art stays with you. 

St. Mother’s Day

That's what a 3-year-old Spokane girl was calling the special Sunday in May back in 1995. Her mother thought about correcting her but then decided she sort of liked the sound of that.

It remains one of my 100 all-time favorite Slice items.

“Judy, Judy, Judy”

I wonder how many others, upon learning of George Lindsey's death, thought of Goober Pyle's delusional yet hilarious impression of Cary Grant.

A few questions about room monitors

What ever became of those drunk-with-power grade-school kids who were eager to be assigned the role of taking names of misbehaving classmates when the teacher had to leave the room for a few minutes (probably to have a cigarette)?

Is this where some people first learned that accusations of wrongdoing could be a highly subjective matter?

Why didn't these overzealous room monitors seem to notice that there were hardly ever any real consequences for those on the list of alleged perpetrators?

In your circle, were enthusiastic tattletales ever targeted for frontier justice after school?

Remembering living on the race course

During the first year of our married life, my wife and I lived in a second-floor apartment on Riverside that looked down on the Bloomsday course.

On that race day morning, we opened multiple windows and listened to the thousands of sneakers springing and scuffing on the boulevard below. It went on and on, like an invasion of land octopi. And it made for a uniquely Spokaney breakfast accompaniment.

Neither of us have ever had that religious feeling about Bloomsday that some people seem to experience.

But we will never forget that sound.

No. 1 song on this date in 1977

“Last thing I remember, I was running for the door.”

Did others toss back shots of vinegar?

Once upon a time, little kids playing Old West occasionally incorporated make-believe saloons in their TV-inspired adventures.

There wasn't a lot of card playing. And definitely not any horsing around with 10-year-old saloon girls. (Cooties, the imaginary kind, being an ever-present concern.)

No, it was pretty much a quick 1-2-3 of hard drinking, insults and shoot-outs.

But what could you drink to simulate a shot of authentic Old West red-eye?

Someone came up with the bright idea of downing apple cider vinegar. It certainly looked the part. And it came in a bottle from which a young barkeep could pour.

But there was one problem. It had a kick. Actually drinking that stuff was tantamount to self-inflicted child abuse. It would have been easier and more palatable to toss back shots of real whiskey.

“Are those tears in your eyes, Jimmy?”

“No. Give me another shot.”

Nobody ever said winning the West in 1965 was going to be easy.

Scary hair style from another century

Is it just me or does that look like Shirley Jones?

50 years ago tonight on “Twilight Zone”

“The Dummy.”

Not scary, but high creep-out factor.

When did you know you needed glasses?

There's a tendency to think that people get their first eyeglasses when they are little kids or when they are old.

But sometimes the need first arises when a person is a young adult.

I was in my 20s and in a movie theater watching the credits after “Kramer vs. Kramer” when I realized I needed corrective lenses.

I had noted that the images on the screen were out of focus. And my companion suggested that the problem wasn't with the projector.

When did you realize your vision wasn't all that it should be?

Taking the No-Expo pledge

In recognition of today being the anniversary of the opening of Spokane's world's fair (see previous post), I vow to not mention Expo '74 again on The Slice Blog for one whole year. Starting now.

Let's move on.

Spring cleaning finds

An email arrived this morning from a North Idaho reader named Lauren.

The subject line said “A spring cleaning find…” and there was an attachment.

Because I know and trust Lauren, I opened it up. It was a photo of an Expo '74 lapel pin.

I wrote back, asking for details. Here is her follow-up report.

“After ten years, we need new carpeting. If anyone was going to be in every room of my house measuring, I needed to clean out closets. I found a box in the linen closet that appeared to be 'don't know what to do with it' stuff of my husband's. In a film canister (remember those?) was a wedding band from my husband's first marriage — engraved 5-4-74. How weird is that? Also cuff links (who wears those?) and the little Expo pin.”

The fair, as you may recall, opened on May 4. I wonder how many others got married on that day.

Here is a link to President Richard Nixon's remarks in Spokane.

One of a kind

Readers responding to today's Slice question seem confident that Secretariat's Kentucky Derby record time will still be the fastest ever after tomorrow's race.

“Not likely that somebody will outrun Secretariat this weekend,” wrote Bill Brock. “It may happen someday, but the world being the media-saturated cesspool it is, a faster run now would never galvanize the spirit quite like Secretariat did nearly 40 years ago.”

May 10, 1970

Still time to plan your anniversary observance.

What Google Alert do you have set up?

Had a pleasant email exchange with a PR guy at the University of Arizona.

I had mentioned that school in a blog post this week. And I assume this fellow in Tucson has a Google Alert set up to automatically notify him of any online references to the university. Makes sense. He would want to know what's being written about his employer.

Anyway, that got me wondering.

What search terms do people around here monitor in that way?

This date in Slice history (2000)

Today's Slice question: What smell tells you summer really is on the way?

Someone’s going to miss appointment

I found a wet business card on the ground this afternoon at Riverfront Park.

It was right next to the fence by a scenic Spokane River overlook.

The card had the state of Washington seal and the name “PJ Dennis.”

It also said “Community Corrections Officer,” “Gang Unit” and had contact info for an office on North Maple.

That was all printed in green on the white card. On the other side something had been written with a black-ink pen.

“5/8/12  Before 11 AM”

I suspect this would not be the first no-show Officer Dennis has dealt with.

But, of course, I don't really know how that card got to be where I found it.

Feel free to construct a story out of your own theory.

Phoning co-workers early in the a.m.

What is the earliest you have called a workplace colleague?

I thought about this when I noticed that The Slice Blog's first anniversary is coming up.

On the actual launch date last May, a technical glitch or some planning miscommunication made it impossible to open the blog on the morning that its arrival was announced with a page-one promo.

So I phoned the SR's online honcho at home. It was about 5:30 a.m. I'm quite sure I woke him up. But he could not have been more gracious.

Before that, my only early morning crisis call had come quite a few years ago. I didn't actually look at the paper until getting to my desk that day. But it was still really early. And when I saw a headline on a news story that described the president of GU as a Nazi priest, I decided to phone the newspaper's editor at home. I had a hunch his dayplanner would be undergoing revision.     

His wife answered. She woke her husband. And I told him how he would be spending his day.

Show of hands, please

Who remembers when the special viewing platform on the back of the Bloomsday media truck came apart near the starting line in 1988, spilling photographers and reporters onto Riverside just as the race began?

Which are actual newsroom put-downs?

A) “Say what you will about the utter lack of clarity, it's a prose style.” B) “Didn't read it.” C) “Her byline is like a warning label.” D) “I didn't have to read it. I heard the sausage being made every step of the way.” E) “Well, I know he goes to a lot of meetings.” F) “Apparently she believes that actual productivity would diminish her star status.” G) “He regards himself as the funniest guy he ever met.” H) “You've been on vacation? Hadn't noticed.” I) “He thinks he is in a journalism movie about him.” J) “According to his exhaustive lack of research, all our readers agree with him.” K) “It would not occur to him that the people in this room make for an exceptionally useless focus group.” L)  “Performance ethics.” M) “I think he's tied up cranking out some corrections.” N) “It seems to annoy her that print still pays the bills.” O) “I love it when he assumes everyone in the world has read his story and then he gets on the phone and encounters reality.” P) “That's, uh, how she rolls.” Q) “His level of denial is healthy for him because it keeps him from self-identifying with criticism.” R) “Unlike the two of us, he can read the minds of all our subscribers.” S) “Well, you have to remember that she's blessed with having the exact same personal interests as 100 percent of our readers.” T) “I know we've done that story before. But in his mind it doesn't count until he has written it himself.” U) “She'd be good on TV.” V) “She thinks she'd be good on TV.” W) “Apparently, when she receives praise for her work, she's not shy about passing it along to the editors.” X) “He's the king of the theoretical job offer.” Y) “Well, don't forget, he won an award.” Z) “Bless her heart. She honestly believes there are other people who care about that.”

Your attitude re: James Bond movies

A) Sort of lost interest when I was about 12. B) Aren't they really more of a guy thing? C) Will watch any one that happens to be on. D) Didn't like them then. Don't like them now. E) I pick and choose, based on the leading ladies. F) Will watch Sean Connery, not the others. G) Always wondered why his foes didn't just shoot him. H) Would rather eat wasps. I) Other.

Thursday Slice annex 2

“This is in answer to your question about the age when we passed our parents in height,” wrote Peggy Jeremiah. “I never did. I'm short (5'3”) and my parents are both taller than that. I am the shortest adult in our immediate family.”

She said she has had grandkids pass her in height already. And the ones who haven't yet are all 5 years old or younger.

Gail Cory-Betz shared this. “My dad, a six-footer, was the middle child in a family of five boys. While I never caught up with him, I was taller than my 5'3” mother by age 14 or 15.

“Dad's next eldest brother, my beloved Uncle Jimmy, was only about 5'4”. When we were growing up, our grandpa (who was quite the kidder) would ask us what we wanted to be when we grew up. Our response, of course, was a resounding, 'Taller than Uncle Jimmy!'”

Tom Rogers told about how, in his wife Trudy's extended family, growing to be “taller than Aunt Trudy” has become an accepted rite of passage. “That tends to happen relatively early due to her height of 4'11”.     

Thursday Slice annex

Today's print Slice briefly refers to how children of military officers got along with children of enlisted personnel. Here are a few actual excerpts from readers' submissions.

“I was a military kid my entire life but only lived on a base once as an older child,” wrote Hank Greer. “It was Dyess AFB, Texas, just outside Abilene and we were there from '68-'72. My experience there was that it was the parents who were more concerned with separation of officer and enlisted.

“The biggest difference I saw was between the military kids and our civilian counterparts. Being bused to school in town, it was the base kids effecting social change at the junior high and high schools much to the consternation of the local parents and authorities. Sometimes we did it just by being who we were and sometimes it was more direct. Girls violated the dress code by wearing pants. Boys grew their hair long. Although imperfectly, we military kids were accustomed to being integrated. There were behaviors and attitudes from the non-military kids and/or school authorities we worked to change either by our actions or our voice. We looked at the officer/enlisted thing as something that applied to our parents' work and not to us personally.” 

Jacque Sanchez remembers it the same way. “When I was 10 and riding my bike all over the historic post (Fort Monroe) I never ever heard any kid say, 'What rank is your dad?' We all just blended together — same school, same bowling alley, same movie theater. It was the best.”

Bob Douthitt, a former Army brat, put it simply. “It just wasn't cool to ask people what rank their fathers were. It was like asking how much money your parents make in the civilian world.”

Bill Stickler, who grew up in an Air Force family, added his voice to the chorus. “I never once witnessed, heard or heard of any animosity — not even a hint of such — regarding what rank someone's father was. …I'm not so naive as to believe there might not have been feelings of resentment regarding parental rank differences, but I wasn't aware of any.”

Of course, not everyone was rank-blind.

“I remember on Halloween when we went to an enlisted house we said 'Trick or treat,'” said Jim Gyarfas, who lived on a Navy base when he was little. “When we went to an officer's house, Mom told us they were officers and we had to say 'Happy Halloween.'”

Tim Yeager remembers being 11 and arranging to walk to a movie with a girl he liked. But when he got to her house, her officer father opened the door and informed Tim that he didn't want the girl being escorted by a sergeant's son.

Linda Angel offered a blunt assessment somewhat at odds with most responding readers' take on this. “Officers' brats treated all the enlisted brats like we were dirt. The enlisted kids stuck together and the officers' kids stuck together.”

But Karen Swanson, whose officer father was known to say “If the Air Force wanted me to have a family, they would have issued me one,” saw a different defintion of Us and Them.

“Civilian kids were much more difficult.”

This date in Slice history (1996)

The one way life really has changed: Relatively few high school kids take showers after gym class these days.

What car was mocked in your circle?

When I was a teenager, one friend regularly drove his parents' old Ford Falcon Futura.

It was a pretty nondescript car. Inoffensive, really. But we enjoyed acting as if it was an affront to all that was decent and well-designed.

“The Futura,” we would say with theatrical disdain.

If that heap was a harbinger of the future, we would prefer to cling to the past. Or so we said.

Still, no one ever refused to ride somewhere in it when the other option was staying home.

This is not the Leo Bloom…

…connected in a roundabout way to Bloomsday.

Leo (Gene Wilder) is on the right. But you knew that.

Don’t think “The Rifleman” played here

Which makes him something of a rarity among those who wore that uniform even briefly.

The company you keep

I never met Jesse Owens, but we were in the same hospital once.

Shortly before he died in 1980, he was undergoing cancer treatment at the University of Arizona medical center. I covered a news conference at that hospital as a reporter for the morning paper in Tucson.

It's not much of a link, I admit. But ever since, seeing or hearing the track legend's name always catches my attention. And so it was last night when I noticed that the “American Experience” on PBS was about Owens.

Maybe you have wondered the same thing upon seeing footage of the 1936 Olympics in Berlin and hearing once again the story of how Hitler refused to shake the gold medal-winning black man's hand.

How do modern American racists feel when they see that? Is that who they want to philosophically link arms with — the Nazis? Doesn't that link shame them?

Fortunately, no matter how many times you watch, Jesse Owens always wins.

And the clock was already ticking on the Nazis.   

The Wednesday Slice

Maybe you know the individual who is the answer to this question.

Who around here is the oldest person to have ever called “shotgun” as several people approached a vehicle they were about to enter? 


Time management:There's something to be said for waiting until the second day of a new month before flipping the page on a wall calendar. It doesn't really slow down the clock. And as a metaphor for calming the pace of your life, it's pretty weak. But it does allow you to enjoy the previous month's photo a little longer. 


Following up on an item in Monday's Slice about defying Spokane stereotypes: “I also do not wear tennis shoes every day with everything,” wrote George Bick. “I wear hiking boots every day with everything. I wear the newest and cleanest pair for dress occasions, and the other pair for everyday.”


The sale was news to mom: When Kate Nelson was young, her older brothers found a “For sale” sign. They thought it would be funny to place it in front of their family's home one night.

The next morning, Nelson's mother started getting calls from curious neighbors. Of course, she had no idea what they were talking about at first.


Just wondering: If asked to do so, could you produce an authoritative list of the Inland Northwest's Top 10 most popular campgrounds among area residents with extensive criminal records?


Colville's Wallace Foster takes a dim view of…: “Those who wear their baseball caps (greasy or otherwise unsightly) firmly planted on their noggins in restaurants and theaters.”

I know. That's only about the zillionth time The Slice has trotted out a reader's disdain for that practice. But I can't help it. When it comes to observing ballcap transgressions, we live in a target-rich environment.


This date in Slice history (1995): Today's Slice question: Is it all-you-can-eat night every night at your house?


Coming Thursday: The Slice will address — in print and on the blog — the issue of whether there was class tension in the ranks of military brats. You know, children of officers vs. children of enlisted personnel.

One caller who left a message but not his name insinuated that there was something about my own attitude to be inferred from the fact that in Monday's posing of the question I used the word “children” to describe officers' offspring and “kids” to describe sons and daughters of non-officer members of the military.

Hmmm. That sounds nuts, of course. But sometimes we are not aware of our own biases. So I checked with the SR's electronic archives. It doesn't go all the way back to The Slice's early days. But since it has been up and running, it appears that I have used the word “kids” in 1,963 columns, and “children” in 1,293 columns.

So if I mean for the former to be disparaging, I'm doing a poor job of making my intentions clear.


Warm-up question: What would you say to someone who suggested that not having an unrelated best friend brands a person a loser?


Today's Slice question: This is spun from something Slice reader Eric Rieckers mentioned in discussing tactics he threatened to employ if some neighbors he likes went ahead with plans to try to sell their house and move.

Would you consider buying a house next door to someone who flies a Confederate flag?  


Write The Slice at P.O. Box 2160, Spokane, WA 99210; call (509) 459-5470; email Your feelings about a neighbor don't always match your feelings about your neighbor's wind chimes.

If you had gotten to talk to Albert Salmi

You could have asked the onetime Spokane resident, “So what was Clint Eastwood like on the set of 'Rawhide'?”

Caption contest

There could be a coveted reporter's notebook in it for someone.

If he were the only man on Earth

Jack Thompson, 79, said he would summon Beyonce to be his starter companion.

Bill Miner said that, as far as female companionship, he would be OK with “The first one in line.”

And Curt OIsen wondered, “Would I tell her that I have had a vasectomy?”

One Slice reader wonders

Are those who work in veterinary clinics ever embarrassed about having to use the names of pets?

The example she offered: “Is Precious Jewel here to be spayed today?”

Feedback on today’s print column

“Hey, Paul, what's wrong with creaking floors?” wrote Lawrence Killingsworth. “I live in a 100-year-old house and I don't trust any floor I can't hear.”

Was this verb used everywhere?

In the places where I grew up, one would “pop” a wheelie. I wonder if that was a universal expression.

Does your son aspire to be a drifter?

Here are the two warning signs.

If, when he comes in from playing, you ask him where has been and he answers “Here and there.”

Or if you ask him where he's going and he says “Wherever the road takes me.”

This date in Slice history (1995)

Today's Slice question: Which of your co-workers has the best smile?

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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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