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The Slice

Archive for April 2013

Here at The Socialist Review

Pay no attention to the fact we always endorse the Republican presidential candidate. That name is too wonderful to disavow. Sherman Alexie once said, ages ago, that the absurdity of some locals calling this newspaper The Socialist Review was one of the things that most amused him about Spokane.

Anyway, here's the question.

Seeing as we are all obviously Commies down here at Riverside and Monroe, how should we celebrate May Day tomorrow?

Call each other comrade?

Share the wealth?

Everybody wear red?

We're open to ideas.

One advantage of not being on Facebook

When you overhear friends or co-workers talking about different tactics for filtering the bombardment of not-so-fascinating stuff Facebook friends drop on them, you can remind yourself that you have chosen the one 100 percent effective strategy.

California dreamin’

What would the short-tempered Malibu police chief in “The Big Lebowski” have thought of Malibu resident Jim Rockford of “The Rockford Files”?

Advice sought re: hummingbird feeder

We put one out years and years ago.

And soon the birds arrived. But before long, it turned into a yellow-jacket feeder. So we abandoned the project.

But maybe someone knows how to avoid that outcome. I'm all ears.

Agree or disagree

A caller said that, except for a few retirees, it appears to him that no one in Spokane mows his own lawn anymore.

Dealing with the City of Spokane

Like many families before us (since the arrival of the recycleosaurus bins), we wanted to swap our regular trash barrel for a smaller (and cheaper) size.

So we called the city. And what did we encounter?

A friendly woman who was helpful, efficient and 100 percent human. She took care of the whole thing and said if we wound up wanting to switch back, we could.

The No. 1 song on this date in 1985

Yes, it's another song from Phil Collins.

Just one side of the story

During some vigorous channel-flipping late yesterday afternoon, I heard a local TV news person wind up his report on an alleged Spokane crime by saying, “The house has been a problem in the past.”

Well, it might have been nice to get the house's side of it. I can just imagine.

“Look, I have done nothing wrong. I'm a house. But the guy who owns me insists on renting to one deadbeat dumbass after another. And you should see the parade of winners they have over. There's your problem. My hands are clean.”

Just wondering

Inasmuch as household income is a predictor of children's success in school, do people who like to blame teachers for everything have any brilliant ideas about how educators are supposed to make that reality go away?

This date in Slice history (1999)

A local college student we know was talking to a woman who told him that she used to be a dancer.

“Oh, really,” he said. “What was your stage name?”

The woman did a slow burn before saying, “Not that kind of dancer.”

The T-shirt solution

Coming in Tuesday's Slice.

Ever been herded by a dog?

I have. By one of these.

My wife and I had gone up to Deer Park to watch a demonstration of herding dogs in action. And as we pulled up behind the grandstand, an Australian cattle dog showed me where to park our car. I kid you not.

Being honest about bra sizes

Did you know tomorrow is National Honesty Day?

I didn't either. But according to a press release sent to me this morning, it is about bra sizes — not general ethics or a personal code of conduct.

It's a long press release. But here are the key phrases.


“”Back fat.”

“Ride up.”


Bitter gray woman on reporter’s motives

So why DID she go into journalism?

A) To work in a profession where you don't have to pass state-sanctioned tests to demonstrate competence. B) To meet sexy male editors. C) So pseudonymous online readers could dump self-impressed bile on her work. D) To right wrongs. E) To crank out local briefs. F) To perfect the art of always being away from her desk when the assignment editor comes trolling for warm bodies. G) So that she could fall asleep in the break room and have a colleague take out a pen and draw arrows on her face pointing to her eyes. H) Other. 

Husband of the year (a long-ago year)

The key here, of course, is that she'll “Still tend to cooking and kids.”

True or false

At one point in this 2011 movie, one of the lead characters corrects someone and distinguishes between online “posts” and online “comments.”

Doing the math at the Donut Parade

Has anyone dropping in at that North Side fixture during a busy time ever stuck to his plan to just get a few doughnuts to go after being reminded that it is cheaper to buy a dozen?

Have strong feelings about Phil Collins?

Seems like a lot of people either loved him or hated him.

In any case, this was the No. 1 song on this date in 1984.

When stores were closed on Sundays

If you are old enough to remember that, you are not young.

Even though I believe in freedom from religion, it could be argued that the closed-Sundays laws had a civilizing influence on society. Of course, it's not like I avoid stores on Sunday.

Still, there is no denying the power of nostalgia.

It probably would not surprise you to hear that “Man in a Hurry” is considered by many to be one of the best episodes of “The Andy Griffith Show.”

That's the one where the rushed businessman with an expensive automobile can't get anyone to take a look at his car when he has engine trouble while going through Mayberry on a Sunday. No doubt you remember the lesson he learns.

This date in Slice history (1998)

Good milkshakes are an endangered species.

The first year of marriage

The warm weather reminded me of something.

Long ago and far away, I wrote a feature story about the first year of marriage.

I don't remember every detail, of course. But more than one source in the story cautioned that a common bump in the road involved people getting over the glow of courtship and realizing that something they cheerfully tolerated while dating actually annoyed the hell out of them.

In other words, those in the thrall of new love sometimes do almost anything to please the other person in the relationship. Happily.

“Sure, Sweetie. I'd love to.”

But then during that first year of marriage, we come to our senses. We remember our likes and dislikes.

Can you guess what a couple of counselors cited as an example of something newlyweds eventually resisted?


How I arrived at tomorrow’s question

Back in another century I lived in a city that is the headquarters for an express delivery service. And though I own no stock in the company or maintain any personal connection, I still pay attention to news about that business. If a headline mentions it by name, I'm all over the story.

I'm not sure why.

So I got to wondering. Do other people have similar relationships with businesses based in cities where they once lived?

Is this your lawyer’s on-hold music?

A colleague told me it is at one Spokane law office where “Hammer Time” is a fitting phrase.

Teen spitting as predictor of success

I don't actually have any data on this.

And I believe that people can recover from being young and moronic.

But The Slice Blog is willing to entertain wild speculation on this.

Early sports apparel and lasting loyalty

The Slice column asked if, for instance, wearing a WSU shirt as a toddler puts a person on course to be a Coug for life.

My friend Johnny Erp said it doesn't always turn out that way.

Growing up in Brooklyn in the 1950s, he cherished his little Dodgers cap as a boy.

But then the team moved to California.

“And they were dead to me.”  

“The Fusilli Jerry”

That memorable “Seinfeld” episode first aired on April 27, 1995. So you can celebrate the anniversary tomorrow.

A definite Top 10 nominee, it included the ill-fated pasta statue, “The move”, stopping short and…

Did you hear a pollen explosion?

I think it happened yesterday afternoon, about 3:40.

In any case, my watery eyes this morning suggest spring has sprung.

I'm guessing I am not alone.

Reasons people don’t want to do lunch

A) It's nothing personal. They would simply rather read while eating alone. B) They assume you will want to go someplace that would not be their choice. C) Eating with others means you can forget about a quick turnaround. D) They want to go when they want to go, not when you want to go. E) They remember the last time. F) Other. 

If you had to guess

What percentage of people around here, after all these years, still totally don't get that the origins of “Bloomsday” are literary, not vernal?

“A nurse’s life”

But maybe it's different in medium-sized cities.

Happy Friday

Just remember.

At least no one can say about you, “But his bosses didn't like him so they shot him into space.”

This is the state we’re in

At least one website manager apparently believes most Americans are like Sam Cooke when he sang, “Don't know much about geography.”

A colleague was dealing with a journalism site's user registration page. He had come to the alphabetical drop-down in which you click on your state.

So he scrolled down and found not “WA” or “Wash.” or even “Washington.”

No, it was “Washington ST.”

I guess that was so people wouldn't assume the District of Columbia was stuck in there with West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

Either that or you're supposed to say “Go Cougs!” at that point.

Oh, I know a contrarian might argue, “Well, OK, but someone could think it might be Washington, D.C.”

I would have to remind any such benighted individual that the “Washington” in “Washington, D.C.” is not now nor has it ever been a state.

Have you encountered this nonsense in drop-downs you have used?

No. 1 song on this date in 1983

You might have heard this song once or twice.

Riding a bike in Spokane

I know some people would assume otherwise. We love stereotypes, after all.

But in my experience, heavy equipment operators and others working on roads tend to behave in a friendly manner when encountering bicyclists rolling past the construction area.

I think the key is for the cyclist to obviously be paying attention.

What if you avoided local media?

Obviously, that wouldn't be my recommendation.

But you have to wonder. What would it be like to live in Spokane if you steered clear of local news? Would you be happier? Is ignorance really bliss?

Well, you almost certainly would be uninformed. But there would be almost no way to avoid hearing people talk about news stories. So there's a chance you would wind up being misinformed as well.

But maybe the news itself isn't the problem. Perhaps the trick would be to avoid contact (in person or online) with people who are perpetually angry about the news — whatever it is. Easier said than done. Everyone has an agenda.

Besides, facing reality means confronting the fact that bad things happen and idiots shout.

Whenever I think abour this, I remember a scene in the movie “Roxanne.”

Steve Martin's character puts a coin in a newspaper vending box and takes out a paper. But he is so horrified by what he sees on the front page that he immediately inserts another coin in the box, opens it and then puts the paper back.

That's no way to live. But sometimes you can understand the impulse.   

Let’s see a show of hands

Not knowing anything about the English agricultural pioneer after whom the group was named, how many idiot teens thought this guy was Jethro Tull?

I did. An upperclassman on my high school hockey team clued me in, to spare me from further “goating” — a term used to describe embarrassing displays of cultural ignorance.

My teammate's name was Jeff Comstock. I later introduced him to another friend of mine, a bank president's daughter named Ann Wick.

Commie was from a blue collar background. Ann's dad had once run for governor of Vermont.

They wound up getting married. At the wedding, I thought it was odd — and not necessarily a good sign — that I hardly knew anyone else in attendance.

“Daddy sang bass…

…Manny Sanguillen.”

About 40 years ago, a friend of mine named Tim Leary used to sing that, employing the improvised lyric I assumed he had invented.

But now I wonder. I can't recall Tim claiming to have made that up. So maybe he heard it somewhere.

Ring any bells?

Ever dream about skunks?

And then wonder if having the window open allowed the power of suggestion to drift into the bedroom in the middle of the night.

That tears it

I suspect others might have another word for it.

But to me, it's a curse.

You see, I am afflicted with the inescapable belief that certain members of my family are not competent to tear a check out of a checkbook. To watch me observing these wonderful people rip out a check is to see a man in anguish.

I try not to grimace. I try not to wince. I try not to offer comparisons to experiments involving chimps. 

Still, all I can say is that I know when a check is about to be turned into confetti. So can you blame me for pleading, “Here, let me help you with that”?

I'm not a micromanager by nature. Far from it. But there's something about seeing a check in the pre-mutilation moment that cries out for intervention.

People say e-banking is growing in popularity because many prefer to do things online these days. I buy that.

But I suspect that's not the only reason. 

This date in Slice history (1997)

Today's Slice question: Who is the Inland Northwest's best dancer?

Coming in Thursday’s Slice column

.Beware of what might lurk behind that door.

Well, not this exact door.This fridge is practically empty. I'm talking about yours.

What’s the Idaho guns reference in this?

I have heard allusions to it, but honestly don't know. I haven't seen the movie.

Are there local fans of “The Meh List”?

A short feature in The New York Times Sunday magazine, it's a random list of things that leave the tiny piece's author somewhat bored.

A friend told me she hears at least some people in NYC don't care for it. But her theory is it would be a hit here (if more people knew about it) because things people are blase about in New York might seem cutting edge in Spokane.

Actually, the expression “cutting edge” is the kind of thing that winds up on The Meh List. 


Paying for your past

There are plenty of reasons you can be angry at your former self.

The ones that typically get attention tend to be mistakes along the lines of substance abuse, staying too long in toxic relationships, a failure to take school seriously, incurring debt, et cetera.

But there are less dramatic reasons to wish you could go back in time and give yourself a good talking-to.

Take dental fillings, for instance. If you don't already know it, you will one day: They don't last forever.

So even if you do a decent job of taking care of your teeth in 2013, a lackluster performance on that front in the previous century can come back to haunt you.

Still, I doubt anyone will be including that in a movie.

“I am the ghost of your oral hygiene future and I come bearing floss.”   

When trying to pick a movie to see

It doesn't really help if you always say that you want to see “Rochelle, Rochelle.”

This date in Slice history (1995)

Slice reader Ken Martin wonders: What would happen if Howard Stern moved his show to Spokane?

She mentioned Spokane on network TV

Do you have any idea who she is? Plenty of clues here.

Had you heard of him yet 40 years ago?

If you hadn't, that was about to change.

Of course, it could be that you weren't around yet or were too young to remember. So let me help you put Secretariat in perspective. Yes, he could fly.

The Wednesday Slice question

How surprised would your friends and co-workers be if an NFL team took a gamble and drafted you in the last round?

No. 1 song on this date in 1966

As you know, many No.1 records weren't really great songs.

But once in a while the Top 40 crowned something worthy.

This 1960s classic puts out almost as much energy as Grand Coulee Dam.

“I asked my family doctor just what I had.”

Just wondering — are brothers a plus?

Are women who grew up with brothers better prepared to deal with the horrors of stereotypically male dining and housekeeping traits, not to mention humor stylings?

They were thinking of a different home

Recalling the arrival in Spokane years ago of Just Like Home Buffet, a colleague noted that the name wasn't all that enticing to people who grew up eating flavorless food. 

See if you can spot the fakes

Some of these have been actual names of the S-R features section in fairly recent history. Some have not. Can you spot the impostors?

A) Empire Life. B) Living Life. C) Spokane Style. D) IN Life. E) Empire of the Sun. F) Today. G) Women 'n' More. H) Hootenanny. I) Shindig. J) Akimbo. K) It's Come to This. L) Groove Thing.

Ugly sweaters long before Christmas

Though perhaps these were considered stylish in their day.

Name this hair style

It probably has an actual name. But I am inviting you to make one up.

Your younger colleagues wouldn’t guess

That once upon a time you were celebrated for your uncanny ability to execute a high-performance Bat turn.

Politics and moving to Idaho to retire

Do you suppose people in other parts of the country who are not conservatives cross Idaho off their retirement-destinations short list because of the state's prevailing politics?

Proposed uniforms for Marmot Lodge

Do you recognize these gentlemen, members of Loyal Order of Friendly Raccoons?

When Civil Defense points a finger

“Don't be frightened, children. That scary man on that poster is on our side. I think.”

Think there's any chance a few of those block wardens were drunk with power?

Latest reason I miss the baby names

Remember a few years ago when the Spokane hospitals got paranoid about releasing the names of newborns?

The hospitals said they wanted to prevent kidnappings or something like that. (There was never any evidence to suggest that they were, in fact, reacting to hearing from irate parents livid about newspaper columnists making fun of the latest variation on Duhkotah.)

It seemed like a solution in search of a problem.

But it's tough to be the one supposedly saying “No, we don't care about keeping kids safe.” 

So even though the SR could have fought the withholding of the names using a potent public-records argument, the newspaper chose not to do so.

At least that's my understanding of how it all went down.

Anyway, I think we all miss seeing the insane names parents saddle their kids with. But I'm especially sorry we don't print the lists right now. I'm curious to know how many children are being named “Daenerys” after the compelling “Game of Thrones” character.

If you thought Mary Richards had spunk, you ought to see this young lady in action.

Playing “Do you know who I am?” card

A colleague with a lively mind wondered if that has ever worked in the long history of misbehaving celebrities trying to get out of trouble with the police.

And I have another question.

Who in the Spokane area could you see trying that?

I can think of several possibilities. OK, we might have few bona fide celebrities. But we have our share of self-important asses.

In any event, we can only hope the cops would not bother to protect the suspects' large heads when stuffing them into the back of the police cruiser.


Scrutinizing British Invasion terminology

A column item from a reader in today's Slice made reference to the Mersey Beat and then shortly thereafter alluded to Herman's Hermits.

A couple of readers leaving phone messages took exception.

They rightly contended that Mersey Beat refers to early Beatles era bands from Liverpool. So, for instance, that could include Gerry & The Pacemakers but not groups from elsewhere in England.

It's a fair point. Though I suspect the reader submitting that item was using “Mersey Beat” more casually than literally. She never actually said Herman's Hermits was an embodiment of that particular sound.

In any case, Herman's Hermits formed in Manchester and that's near where the Mersey River starts. So feel free to debate this further among yourselves. 

People born on Earth Day

Does anyone born on Earth Day ever bring that up or hear others mention it?

I wonder how many Earth Day babies will arrive today in the Spokane area.

Joan’s friend from Spokane

As I noted in a post last night, there was a reference to Spokane in Sunday's episode of “Mad Men.”

“Working out of Spokane, there's only so far I can go.”

I wonder if anyone has plans to sell T-shirts adorned with that sentiment.

But what are some other ways that sentence could be ended?

Give it a try.

“Working out of Spokane….”

Helmets don’t look goofy if…

You smile.

The gift that keeps on giving

When a nightmare neighbor moves away, the joy that brings you can last for years.

Is loudest person at work biggest idiot?

I'm sure it's not always the case. But sometimes the evidence suggests that there is a definite relationship.

And, yes. I realize not everyone works in an office.

No. 1 song on this date in 1979

What did you think of Deborah Harry?

“Working out of Spokane…

…there's only so far I can go.”

That's a line from tonight's episode of “Mad Men”

When localizing a story goes too far

Check out the small subhead beneath the “Women Feared Missing” headline.

This is from the National Lampoon's Sunday newspaper parody from the 1970s.

Please write the cutline

As you know, a cutline is a photo caption.

I hope this woman is alive and well and being visited regularly by her adult children who complain about how hot she keeps her house and how insanely loud the TV is.

This date in Slice history (1995)

This seriously limits the kid: A first-grader we know was talking about a school assignment. She had to write something about rabbits. “It has to be nonfiction,” she said.

Second-hand cookout smoke

Coming in Saturday's Slice column.

Don’t put foil-wrapped vegetable in pants

Check back next week for more helpful travel tips.

Do you know what sort of produce this gentleman is transporting? 

Re: That one meteorological incantation

We all know…

Rain, rain, go away

Come again some other day


But you might have noticed that saying it seldom works.


Well, here's my theory. It's because we fail to specify an exact date.

So I'm going to give it a try and propose a return date that might do our typically summer-parched area some good.

Rain, rain, go away

Come again July 19th.

How do you like these swimsuits?

The pros and cons of reel mowers

OK. I'll start.

Pro: The sound.

Con: If you are enfeebled, it might be too hard to push. 

Pro: You do not need fuel.

Con: If the grass is really long and your blades aren't sharp, pushing one of these around the yard can be a bit of a slog.

Sure, there’s porn and pictures of cats

But the Internet is also home to a lot of customer reviews of Spokane area restaurants that closed years ago.

Coming in Friday’s Slice column

A question inspired by a minor hand injury last weekend.

When you asked for a raise…

What did your boss say?

A) “If it were up to me…” B) “Ahahahahahahaha.” C) “Sure, we could do that. But wouldn't you really rather have a title?” D) “What? You just got a raise 15 years ago!” E) “What color is the sky in your world?” F) Other.

“Mr. Darcy’s Guide to Courtship”

If you are interested in this, send me an email and I will forward the online press release. If I don't hear from you by 2, don't expect it until tomorrow.

Slice answers online annex

Christy Mills weighed in on cloth handkerchiefs.

“My dad, whom we lovingly call Ron-old, has carried one around since I can remember. However, it has never been referred to by such a refined name. It has and always will be dubbed 'the snot rag.'”

Re: Spokane’s airport code

This was the Slice question on April 18, 2000.

If you got to throw out tradition and replace the Spokane airport's GEG code, what three-letter group would you select? 

Can you identify this aircraft?

Everyone remembers that it was B-52s in “Dr. Strangelove.” But it was these in “Fail Safe.”

Is there anywhere…

…where a significant percentage of young people don't grow up thinking “I've got to get the hell out of here”?

I sometimes hear people talking about that dynamic as if it is unique to Spokane. It's not.

“Diversity lovers”

That's today's phrase to remember from the letters to the editor.

If you are a pineapple juice snob

What's the best plan for getting your hands on some close approximation of the good stuff in Spokane? 

Never No. 1, but I really liked it

Part of the appeal of “Please Let Me Wonder” was that, as a kid, I wasn't really sure what it was about. Something to do with girls. Harmonies and girls. Could there be a connection? Time would tell.

Do you know this song? 

Not legal tender, but pretty cool

Might be a few of these in coffee cans in attics.

Another reason to send postcards

You can use apple stamps.

The “Paris-China border”

Can you name the famous American short-story in which that appears?

 If you were going to select one Inland Northwest place name to pair with some high-profile location (to form a similar unlikely bit a geography), what would you pick?  

Just wondering

Have you ever been a fan of public radio's “A Prairie Home Companion”?

Coming in Thursday’s Slice column

A woman who used to work here at the SR once complained about The Slice to a friend of mine.

“One day it's about one thing and then, the next, it's about something else.”

Recognizing that I probably would not be wounded by that critique, my friend felt free to share that with me.

Anyway, getting back to Thursday's Slice. Here's my pitch: It's about something or other. 

Wednesday Slice question

Many years ago, I started a new job at about the same time as a woman I'll call Pam.

Perhaps because we were both newcomers and perhaps because we both worked in a socially cliquish department, we became friends. It helped that I enjoyed being around her partner, a woman with an original sense of humor.

My wife-to-be had not yet moved across the country to this new city, so I had lots of time to spend with Pam and her partner.

Now Pam wasn't afraid to call it like she saw it. Some would say she was tactless. And so it was not long before she had alienated several people at our workplace.

Maybe they did not enjoy being challenged. Or maybe it was the way Pam went about it.

Over time Pam seemed to go from being a bold truth-teller to being a malcontent. At least that's how it struck me.

She eventually got fired. The boss cited a bizarre incident I won't try to recount here. But I believed then and believe now that it was just an excuse to get rid of someone who had made herself a pain in the ass.  

On the day she was fired, Pam approached me and basically insinuated that if I didn't quit in solidarity with her I was a coward. I chalked that up to high emotions of the moment.

I didn't quit, of course. But though I didn't realize it right away, that was the end of our friendship    

So here's the question.

Have you ever had a friendship come to an end because the other person wanted you to express your loyalty to him or her by doing something that struck you as insanely self-destructive?

Battle of the oatmeal/porridge brands

I'll start with what I eat now.

Though, before that, I ate this stuff for years.

OK, your turn. I'll be disappointed if someone doesn't tell me my failure to go the steel-cut route must mean I'm still in short pants.

The next Lois Lane

The versatile Amy Adams will play the intrepid reporter in the upcoming “Man of Steel.”

Do you approve?

Ever take someone’s picture here?

Or maybe you were the one in the photo.

Ladies and gentlemen, the 1970s

This song was No. 1 on this date in 1973, though not this version.

The hit was by Tony Orlando and Dawn. This one was by an obscure former SR delivery boy.

Remind you of anyone you once dated?

You know. Cute but not famously feet-on-the-ground.

As I recall, there was a lot of that going around in 1981.

“I think we need to have a talk. Could you put the bird down?”

Which is the bigger number…

The number of times you have seen this 1987 movie.

Or the number of times you have been to Nelson, B.C., in person.

Here’s me riding my bike to work today

OK, not really. But it was a pretty brisk ride to downtown Spokane.

Car ads from the year you were born

They are fun to peruse. And they are pretty easy to find with an online search or two.

But I'm warning you. They have the potential to make you feel high-mileage.

Know your famous Spokane quotes

After a storm left much of the city without power for several days in the 1990s, this civic leader referred to Spokane residents finding it necessary to take a “Viking shower” in the morning.

Can you name him?    

How many versions have you held?

The label has changed multiple times.

Oh, sorry. I forgot that you are strictly a microbrew person and would never consider drinking a corporate beer. 

Seen an aerial view of your high school?

It might surprise you.

Here's a photo of my high school. I'm pretty sure that, while a student there many years ago, I never once thought “My, but this a delightful setting for learning.”

Ever experience writer’s block?

How did you overcome it?

Different people have different tactics. But lowering the bar on your hopes and expectations sometimes works.

Explaining the smokestacks

I'm told that little kids will believe almost anything when they see the Steam Plant and ask “What are they?”

Do you remember…

…being in a car in which one or more people were smoking and the windows were rolled up? 

One of the classic Little League errors

Children playing baseball make mistakes.

It happens. Ground balls scoot between the legs of infielders. Outfielders drop fly balls. And on and on. Anything that can go wrong does.

Which is fine. Go get 'em next time.

But after a while, adult observers sometimes decide on a favorite category of error.

Me? I always find it entertaining when a fielder scoops up a soft roller and promptly sails his throw 10 feet over the first baseman's head. There's something about the flight of the ball that symbolizes everything about the gap between good intentions and doing the right thing.

All God's children have done it. Well, those with decent arms anyway.

You see, that's the thing. It's not like the kid can't make the play. He just miscalculated his release point.

So he'll learn from that. And next time, he'll throw the batter out. Unless, of course, he overcorrects and throws it in the dirt and watches it skip by the first baseman. 

One perspective on golf

Coming in Tuesday's Slice column.

This ad has nothing to do with it, but it is a colorful glimpse of 1952.

Alphabet soup

If you replace the “L” in “Get Lit” with other letters, you wind up with several potentially interesting themes for Spokane cultural festivals.

Feel free to review Louis C.K. special

A) Not as good as the last one. B) Had its moments. C) Pretty good. D) I think success has ruined him. E) I don't care, I just hope some easily-offended people happened on to it. F) Who is Louis C.K.? G) Other. 

Yes, it is the “Freaks and Geeks” girl

Grown up and gone back in time to be in “Mad Men.”

A bold guarantee

I once worked with a guy who promised the publisher of his newspaper that he would win a Pulitzer.

He didn't. But I'll never forget his breathtaking confidence.

Love the use of a newspaper section by the guy in the foreground.

Win a coveted reporter’s notebook

Borrow the name of an actual sci-fi movie and apply it to this film premise:

The dandelions we already see in the Inland Northwest this spring are not weeds. They are the first wave of an invasion of hostile space aliens.

I'll choose a winner Tuesday morning. If there is one entry, that person wins.

It's OK to enter more than once.

And if you haven't a clue why anyone would want a reporter's notebook, you are free to move along. Go in peace.


Remember when this was always on?

I think I know every episode by heart, especially from the era with the first Helen.

Tend to think of it on Sundays now and then, because that's when many of the rerun cycles ran.

The lesson for hockey haters

One thing that unites many hockey haters is the assumption that fighting is a part of the sport at every level.

It's not, of course. It's not part of the game in the Olympics. And it's not a part of college hockey.

There are other aspects of the sport not well understood by many in these parts. But perhaps the NCAA championship being won by that famous jock factory, Yale, offers a hint about one of them.  

What’s your sign?

I'm an Aquarius. So even though I was a music snob in the way only a young teen can be and would never have considered openly liking sugary pop, I thought the reference to my astrological sign was pretty groovy. Can you name the 2005 movie that makes fun use of this tune at the end?

This was the No. 1 song on this date in 1969.

Maudlin or moving — you make the call

This was the No. 1 song on this date in 1968.

How long has it been since you thought of Bobby Goldsboro?

Learning to drive

Coming in Saturday's Slice column.

Peril of commenting on women’s apparel

So I'm buying some cottage cheese at a little eatery near the paper.

The pretty young woman ringing me up is someone I've dealt with before. She's friendly.

 She's wearing a shirt emblazoned with the image of a wolf. It's kind of cool.

“I like your wolf,” I say as I accept my change.

“What?” she says.

It's just a second or two before I reply. But that's long enough to rebuke myself for calling attention to the fact that I was looking at her shirt. It's not super-tight or anything. Nothing like that. But in revealing that I noticed her attire, I am potentially inviting unpleasantness. What if “wolf” is young-person slang for something suggestive, unsavory or X-rated? Good God, when am I ever going to learn to never say anything? 

“That's a wolf, isn't it?” I say, pointedly not pointing.

She says it is, and smiles as she realizes I had said I liked it.

No harm done.

This time.  

A reputation for never wanting to go out

Let's say you have friends who occasionally invite you to lunch or suggest having a few beers after work.

But it never fails that these people also invite someone you can't stand. So you always decline the offers.

Inevitably, people will stop inviting you. So would it have been better to have said, “You know, I'd really like to go. But I know you also have invited Nutly. And while I have no interest in bashing him, because I know he is your friend, I have to tell you the guy rubs me the wrong way.” 

Just a reminder

When a colleague brings his or her young child to the office for a few minutes, it's not absolutely necessary to say, “So, you're going to put her to work, huh.”

Who could drop the biggest names?

What Spokane area resident could win a name-dropping contest, if he or she was so inclined?

One of the former professional athletes in our midst maybe.

I have my own nominee, a local guy whose brushes with fame are seemingly endless. But mentioning him would sort of be name-dropping.

Besides, I mostly hear about his encounters with Hollywood types and others (in a decidedly not starstruck context) via his brother.

Something you don’t need to know

If the Detroit Tigers go 30 and 1 from here to the 40-games point of the baseball season, the team will equal the 1984 Tigers' 35-5 start.

This used to be easy to find

But this afternoon, it took until the fourth grocery store to find it.

Hadn't been near one of these in quite some time and was beginning to suspect they were extinct. The bridge party market isn't what it used to be.

Coming in Friday’s Slice column

Another installment of Furry Talk.

Career Girl: “No Talent for Loving!”

I can just imagine an 11-year-old girl in 1966 seeing this and thinking, “Get it together, Blondie — more typing, less hallucinating.” 

Is that a ghost file cabinet or what?

Contacting the newspaper

Here's a depiction of someone providing frank feedback to a newspaper reporter.

But that's a made-up scene from an episode of “The Twilight Zone.”

In 2013 reality, the phones readers use are much smaller.

Which sounds better — 509 or 208?

What's the most stylish area code you've ever had?

Based entirely on how they trip off the tongue, my personal pre-509 favorites have been 901 and 802. Though I also lived in area code 915 and I sort of like that even if it lacks the lyrical “oh” middle digit.

If you went by your initials

You know, the first letters of your first and middle names.

How would it sound?

Tallying up your sexual partners

It has been entertaining to see readers' answers to today's Slice question.

It's not online today (not so far, anyway). So if you don't read the print edition, you won't know what I'm talking about. Probably wouldn't be the first time. 

Spokane’s best dressed?

A) People who work at credit unions. B) Public relations spokespersons. C) Dropouts. D) People with long job titles. E) Accountants. F) Teachers and professors. G) Those who sell advertising. H) The people who greet you when you walk into a law firm. I) Department store employees. J) Basement dwellers. K) Other. 

Re: The height of local TV news anchors

There is an excellent chance that your assumptions are wrong.

Just wondering

Do people phoning you at home mostly hear dogs barking after you answer?

Nice horns: 50 years ago tonight on “TZ”

An hour-long episode of “The Twilight Zone” called “Of Late I Think of Cliffordville” first aired on April 11, 1963.

It has a Spokane connection, which I'm sure I have mentioned more than once. But it also features a pre-Catwoman Julie Newmar as the hellacious Miss Devlin. Would you have been tempted?

The classic Swillmart insert

This is from the National Lampoon's Sunday newspaper parody published back in 1978.

I used this on The Slice Blog's first day not quite two years ago. But I never tire of it.

Who can forget The Dacron Republican-Democrat, which proudly billed itself “One of America's Newspapers.”  

Today’s minor league baseball logo

How long do you suppose it has been since there have been grizzly bears near Fresno?

The case for studded tires…

…is not helped by the motorists who have yet to remove them.

That grinding sound drowns out all in-favor arguments. 

Two kinds of people in the Spokane area

One kind thinks that, when the weather gets warm, insects are a serious problem here.

The other kind has lived in parts of the country with real bug challenges and knows we have it good here.

Remembering a submarine disaster

Can you recall news stories that captured your imagination when you were a kid?

For me, the underwater implosion of the USS Thresher 50 years ago was such a story. Just seeing the name of that ill-fated sub transports me back to a time when I was a grade-school boy transfixed by the terrifying details of its deep-water demise.

The Aberfan disaster in Britain was another such story.

How about you?

The Wednesday Slice question

Do you have rehearsed material ready just in case you happen to meet a certain person around here? 

Four-alarm earworm risk warning

This was the No. 1 song on this date in 1977. Remember the first million times you heard it?

One reason to not become a teacher

Sooner or later, kids discover the scientific term “Homo erectus.” 

Navigating the workplace: Tip No. 17

Being in a good mood can be a catalyst for trouble.

When you are feeling happy, you let your guard down. And the workplace isn't the place for that.

A good mood can lead to attempts at humor that offend certain co-workers.

A good mood can lead to attempts at fun flirtatiousness that veer off into harassment territory.

A good mood can lead to attempts at rapprochement with awful co-workers who will proceed to remind you just why you avoid them.

And on and on.

So be careful about good moods. They can lead to all sorts of unhappy outcomes. 

If Hugh Hefner had lived in Spokane

A) Instead of Playboy, he might have tried launching an outdoors magazine. B) He would have realized that wearing pajamas all the time wouldn't exactly set him apart. C) He still would have suspected that people think about sex. D) He would have made a statement about his manhood with a big truck. E) He might have aged in a slightly less ghoulish way. F) He would have gone to work for Cowles Publishing and lived happily ever after. G) He would have moved to California. H) Instead of “Hef,” associates would have called him “Skeeter.” I) He would have worn camo and a trucker cap. J) Other. 

One great moment in “thirtysomething”

Son: “Dad, what's 69?”

Dad: “That's the year the Mets won the World Series.”

If someone else prepares your tax return

You will still find yourself guessing how it will turn out, of course.

Are your predictions usually pretty accurate?

Two unworthy goals

1. Being universally liked.

2. Zero weeds.

Today’s most ignorable PR email

“Hi, Paul. Father's Day is right around the corner and…”

No, it's not.

One definition of “surreal”

One of my correspondents, a nice guy named Mike Storms, told me he watched the Frankie and Annette beach movies while he was in Vietnam.

Do you talk to your plants?

I imagine more than a few people brought some plants inside last night.

And I wonder how many explained to the plants that they had to come in because there was a chance the temperature would dip down to freezing overnight.

Remembering admirable loyalty

After The Spokesman-Review and Spokane Chronicle combined staffs long ago, employees were supposed to identify themselves as representatives of both papers.

That's fine, in theory. But if you are making a bunch of phone calls, it gets to be a bit of a mouthful. So sometimes I just said I was with The Spokesman-Review.

Well, once in the late 1980s, I happened to call a woman named Hazel Barnes. Before retiring, she had written for the Chron for something like 30 years. I don't remember why I phoned her. But I do recall that I just said my name and that I was from the S-R.

I remember that because she stopped me right there and inquired about my failure to mention the Chronicle when identifying myself. She was nice about it. But she was insistent that the Chronicle needed to be acknowledged.

I doubt that I changed my ways. Still, after all this time, I remember her loyalty to the evening paper.

Name that newspaper

The publication Hugh Laurie's character is reading here in 1995's “Sense and Sensibility” is called…

A) The Public Informer. B) The Pickwickian. C) The Post Skeptic. D) The Porcupine. E) The Purpose Times. F) Other.

When downtown smells like bacon frying

Not long before dawn, outside the Davenport Hotel.

It's not every morning. But some days, thanks to vigorous kitchen venting, those headed west on Sprague pass through a distinct Bacon Belt.

Coming in Tuesday’s Slice

The truth about home-entertaining.

Spokane brides vs. brides elsewhere

Are local couples about to get married as likely as couples anywhere to insist on the full three-ring circus wedding extravaganza or are they apt to opt for a more affordable approach? 

How to live your life

When in doubt, ask yourself “What would Pee Wee Reese do?”

OK, he probably was a flawed human being. As we all are.

But he had one shining moment that all Americans should know about. If you don't, you owe it to yourself to do a search on the late Mr. Reese and Jackie Robinson.

How to be a total bore in Spokane

Act like any weather other than hot and sunny makes you suicidal.

It’s Talk Like Briscoe Darling Day

Well, at least it is here at The Slice Blog.

And it's easy. You don't really need to know a lot of the character's lines. That's because one of his staples can be used in almost any situation.

“More power to ya.”

What's the “Andy Griffith Show” connection between the Darling family and Spokane?

Difference between Spokane and movies

In the unlikely event that you would feel the need, it's difficult in Spokane to jump in a taxi cab and urgently instruct the driver to “Follow that car!”

April 7 in Jim Bouton’s “Ball Four”

“Today, the day before opening day, Joe Schultz said, 'Well, it's back to the old salt mine, boys.'”

Could you hum this?

It was the No. 1 song on this date in 1959.

The Fleetwoods were from Olympia.

He left the copy desk for Hollywood

At least his character did in “Sunset Boulevard.”

He was going to be a screenwriter, but things took a turn.

What gives him away as someone who recently left a newspaper job in the Midwest? 

If you loved Silver Age comic books

You doubtless came across the name Carmine Infantino. He has died.

You might want to Google him and read a few of the obits written about the man behind The Flash, among others.  

What if

It's tempting to imagine what it would be like around here now if the GU men had done what many expected them to do this time around.

But, as you might have heard, it wasn't to be.

Sure, there's always next year. Still, you are not alone if you think everything was in place for this tournament to be the one to remember.

Well, almost everything.

Are there still high school dances?

Besides proms, I mean.

I went to one at Shadle about 20 years ago. And I went to one at Ferris maybe 8-10 years ago.

But a lot has changed since then.

We know what she’s really saying

But what if, instead of the whole aliens want to eat us thing, she were addressing the Spokane City Council? What might she be saying?

Deckless in Spokane

Coming in Saturday's Slice.

What is going on in the background?

Nuclear war? The plane is off course and flying next to the sun? An XL volcano has erupted?

One key question for women

How would you describe the shortest skirt or dress you ever wore in public?

You might not be young anymore if…

Like me, you can remember seeing Jason Hanson kicking for the Cougs.

What are the horses saying?

Renegade kisses?

Wonder if there are any Western Love Trails in the new hiking guide by Rich Landers.

Trivia challenge (one question)

Though it might be the least Mormon place in the U.S., one state back East was the birthplace of both Joseph Smith and Brigham Young. Can you name it without Google?

Your Friday pep talk

Because, of course, coffee is for closers.

No. 1 song on this date in 1971

I hope this gets stuck in your head, and I mean that in a totally friendly way. Happy Friday.

This date in Slice history (1996)

Today's Slice question: Does it bug you when people refer to Seattle as “the coast”?

How to lure friends to Spokane

Coming in Friday's Slice column.

Thankless job

In all my years of personally informing bicyclists that they are violating a Spokane ordinance by riding on sidewalks in downtown, not one of them has ever thanked me for passing along this helpful information.

Can you imagine?

Found: Sister city for Athol

A colleague said he feels sorry for headline writers back there who have to deal with all the potential problems created by the sound of that.

A nonsensical list

Movies never made include…

“Grand Coulee Dam Hotel.”

“Grand Coulee Dam Illusion.”

“Grand Coulee Dam Canyon.”

“Pooh's Grand Coulee Dam Adventure.”

“Grand Coulee Dam Prix.”

“Grand Coulee Dam Theft Auto.” 

If history teaches us anything

It's that many of those who loudly and persistently claim to know how to fix Spokane will have moved away within a few years. 

I don’t get it

Twice this week, on my way home from work, I have ridden my bike past people in their side-yard gardens listening to angry talk radio.

Just don't see how that would be relaxing.

To each his own, I suppose. Maybe what sounds to me like ranting strikes their ears as music.

Still, I can't imagine the plants care for it.

Mulling Spokane’s metroness

A grocery store manager I've known for years told me he's moving to a different store.

Instead of being at a supermarket on 29th Avenue on Spokane's South Hill, he will be working up north at a store near the Y.

He seemed OK about the move. It sounds like he will have a similar position.

But he was really pumped about one aspect of the change. Because he lives in Deer Park, his daily commute is about to shrink significantly.

Fifteen minutes, I guessed.

More, he said.

OK, Spokane is no sprawling megalopolis. But if you have been having to drive across practically the whole city day after day, it's big enough.

This date in Slice history (2006)

Today's Slice question: What novelist's characters would make for the best pet names?

When Spokane had a crow-shooter

A daughter of the fellow featured in the linked story told me about this.

It would be bad form to speak ill of her late father. Besides, I suppose you could argue that he was a reflection of his times. And of 30 years ago Spokane.,7628488

Coming in Thursday’s Slice column

Annual invitation to identify the mistake in this song.

Would people in your circle get it…

…if you told someone that if he or she didn't shape up, he or she would wind up living in a van down by the river?

Something certain newcomers notice

We don't have cardinals, but we do have magpies.

Ever felt like this rookie?

“Where you from, kid?”

“Sandpoint, Idaho.”

“Never heard of it.”  

There are a lot of good sports here

I keep hearing from readers who admit that they fell for The Slice's April Fools column on Monday.

And here's the thing. Every one of them has been good-natured about it.

Perhaps that's partly attributable to the fact that I did reveal the joke at the end. But I think it's also a reflection of the simple truth that a lot of people are grownups and feedback doesn't have to be a sewer of hostility.


Ever have impure thoughts about her?

I'm sure I did. Her wholesome image did not deter me. But I think she first showed up on my radar when I was about 12. So let's just say she had a lot of company.

Always liked that she remained a friend to Rock Hudson when some in Hollywood turned their backs on him. And she has always been a big friend of animals.

Hope she will have a happy birthday today.

One reason people might be mad at you

Their emails to you got snagged by your spam filter and you never saw them. Hence, you never replied and the senders assume you simply ignored the messages.

Sure, some people actually check their filter repositories in a careful, methodical way. But I suspect a lot of us simply nuke that stuff.

The Wednesday Slice question

What actor or actress would you want to portray you in the sprawling saga/blockbuster movie about your family? (Feel free to pick one for your younger self and another for your current age.)

No. 1 song on this date in 1967

How is the weather?

At one point, “Happy Together” refers to making a call on a pay phone. How much did that call cost?

This date in Slice history (1999)

Today's Slice question: What two local people have been doing business over the phone for the longest time without ever meeting?

If this was a Spokane tourism promo

What would the text say?

A) “Squeal like a pig for me.” B) “Near nature, near losing your pants.” C) “Canoe you.” D) “Land o' Hats.” E) “Before there were zombies, there were hillbillies.” F) “Come for the paddles, stay for the archery.” G) “I Got Your Outdoors Adventure Right Here.” H) Other.

She once played a Spokane editor’s wife

But you knew that.

As you know, it was in a 1991 made-for-TV movie called “Sins of the Mother.”

Bird humor

“Had this happen more than once during my golfing days,” wrote John Yancey. “After I hit another terrible drive, a crow would comment with the usual 'Caw, caw, caw.' Only it would sound to me like: 'Haw, haw, haw.' Then I would look up and say: 'Well, I bet you couldn't do any better.'

“Speaking of laughing birds, I was recently listening to a nearby robin voicing a rapid series of staccato notes. This happens frequently in the evening, and I guess it's some sort of territorial warning. But if you listen for it, it can sound like rapid laughter after hearing a particularly funny joke. So it made me wonder what sort of joke would strike a robin as funny.”

So Yancey wrote a bird joke. Here it is.

First robin: “How many sparrows does it take to change a light bulb?”

Second robin: “I don't know, how many?”

First robin: “Sparrows don't have light bulbs, They're too cheap, cheap, cheap. Yuk, yuk, yuk, yuk, yuk, yuk.”

Confession: I’ve never been to Disneyland

Surely I am not alone.

I have extended family in Southern California and have been down for visits. But I've never expressed an interest in going to Disneyland.

Does that make me unAmerican?

Well, how about the fact that I have never been to Las Vegas?  

What would you think if…

…you looked over at the notebook in front of the person next to you in a meeting and saw this?

True or false

This guy once held an elected office in the Inland Northwest.  

Ever been a good Spring Break movie?

I can't think of one.

When was the last time you characterized a vacation as rip-roaring?

Life here isn’t all shootings, stabbings

Did you notice all the bike riders out this afternoon?

No. 1 song on this date in 1972

As has been noted many times, there were issues with the lyrics. But I will not pretend that I didn't like this song.

Bird is the word

Coming in Tuesday's Slice column.

May contain images too graphic for some

Here's a Slice item from this date in 1995. As I recall, some readers found these stories to be less than delightful.

More adventures in vomiting: Mary Ryerse was on her back and holding her little niece up in the air with her feet when the child suddenly threw up on Ryerse's face.

Bob Harvego recalled a time someone regurgitated into the bell of his tuba. And another reader called to report her daughter getting sick into her flute case before school.

James Dodds was in the tub with his son, who was celebrating his first birthday, when the boy deposited an alarming load of cake and ice cream into the bath water. And Virginia Terpening told about an outing, at a fancy restaurant, when her 6-year-old spat up on her 3-year-old and it was so startlingly unappetizing that her husband proceeded to throw up.

Coeur d'Alene's Mary Lou Wilson recalls being beneath someone who got violently ill while riding a Ferris wheel in Missoula. “I was in the direct line of fire,” she said.

Teacher Mary Anne Sullivan described a time when one little boy's power-heaving started a chain reaction in a classroom of first-graders. “It was a puke-a-rama,” she said.

Moses Lake's Phyllis Franz shared several airsickness anecdotes involving her family's plane. Dave Craig described a memorable spewing after his senior prom. Vickie Pratt recalled a time in fifth grade when a lad who had eaten hot dogs erupted on a demure little girl.

And young Emilio Sulpizio had just sat down to dinner at another family's house when he expelled a fair amount of Halloween candy, which the quick-acting host caught with a bowl of scalloped potatoes.   

Ever hide an album cover from parents?

Or maybe, thinking of that one Herb Alpert album, they hid them from you.  

Beer advertising and baseball

Don’t care about basketball or TV shows?

Well, you can always talk about Easter sunburns this morning.

Greatest sports hero of all time?

Sure, there were better players. But, as had been said, some accomplishments don't show up in the box score.

Are you capable of tossing blue jeans?

Some of us, it must be said, cannot.

Yes, I realize there are options such as recycling the material or selling them in the former Soviet bloc. But c'mon.

A lot of people claim to have had one

Some are telling the truth.

Recalling another April Fools Day

The Slice column has taken a few liberties with April Fools Day over the years.

One of my favorites was when April 1 fell on a Sunday and I told the story of SR recipes maven Dorothy James Dean, complete with her picture.

As she never really existed, we had to settle for a photo of Rita Hayworth.

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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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