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The Slice

Archive for December 2013

Things I learned this year include…

A lot of people have either never heard of saying “anal” as shorthand for “anal retentive” or they are willing to pretend they haven't after falling for an obvious made-you-look wordplay trick.

Is it just me…

…or do others who have noticed the bullet holes in rural road signs assume that at least some drone aircraft are going to get shot at?

Sure, the drones might be harder to hit than a stationary sign. But they aren't the only things up in the air.

If Amazon follows through on its idea to have deliveries made by little robo-copters, those gadgets are almost certain to take fire from the vandal/paranoid nut segment of society.

Re: Readiness for change

This is something I wrote a few years ago. Might be worth a fast scan.

Must be the season of the binge

You might see some blowout behavior today as people beat the resolution-imposed deadline.

Coming in Tuesday’s Slice column

How I intend to spend New Year's Eve at the office.

A kid story

My friend Mildred Scheel shared this.

“Years ago, after a move to Louisville, Ky., my sister Lane continued loyalties to some businesses in Nashville, Tenn. One morning before initiating a call to a department store in Nashville, she cautioned her young children to be quiet as she was making a long-distance call.

“She gave the number (calls were operator assisted at that time) and when the store operator answered, she requested, 'May I speak to someone in 'china'?

“As she waited for that department to answer, she overheard her oldest son (who was better versed in geography than his younger sibling) whisper, 'You guys, we better be quiet. This is REALLY long distance.'”

Understanding the other choice

Have you ever watched a TV series and more or less enjoyed it but understood all the while why many prospective viewers would regard it as utterly unwatchable?

I had that feeling more than once while watching “Treme,” which wrapped up Sunday night.

Liked some of the characters. Others did nothing for me.

But when the story would stop dead — as it did over and over and over — for an extended musical interlude, I was tempted more than once to bail. Yes, the show's producers clearly suggested that we were supposed to worship the music — all of it. And I get that the music was a character in the show.

Often, though, I found myself zoning out and thinking about all sorts of things that had nothing to do with “Treme.”

Two food questions

You know how packages of whole cherries or food products containing whole cherries often have “There may be pits” warning labels? Sure.

Well, did you pay much attention to that before biting into something that felt like a ball bearing?

And you know how whole onions kept too long sometimes sprout green shoots? Right.

Well, once upon a time, little kids used to regard that as odd and exotic. Do they still?

Do you have a favorite brand?

Or perhaps these are not one of your New Year's traditions. That would make you strange to me.

Annual poll: Do you like this song?

Though I definitely had a Fogelberg phase in in the 1970s, I can't say that I have always loved this 1980 song.

Still, since he died, I am not inclined to bash it. 

What is the Spokane connection here?

Hint: It's not either of these players.

Ever met a “Sportsman of the Year”?

I chatted with Leonard for 30 seconds at the University of Vermont bookstore just before the 1976 Montreal Olympics.

Nothing against Leonard, but I'd trade that exchange for a handshake with Bobby Orr.

If you watched 50% less TV in 2014

A) I would have time to take continuing education courses. B) What's 50 percent of zero? C) I would spend hours making salads while listening to NPR. D) I would suddenly spend more time online. E) I resent the implication that my TV time is mindless. I do not watch reality shows and sports. There is such a thing as quality programming, you know. Since when is reading some trashy novel a more exalted way to spend time than watching “American Experience” or “Homeland”? F) I would have even less likelihood of knowing what my co-workers are talking about first thing in the morning. G) Other.

High volume commenters’ withdrawal

How do you suppose people who typically spend all day commenting on news stories on are dealing with the inability to do so during the holidays commenting timeout?

Sharing their views about the president with captive grandchildren?

Trying to keep telemarketers on the line so they can demonstrate their 2nd amendment scholarship?

I overheard someone wonder if the commenting ban was especially hard on the families of trolls. But someone else suggested the trolls had, no doubt, driven their families away long ago.

Admiring the SR’s photographers

I hope you have checked out the year-in-review slide shows from several of The Spokesman-Review's photographers.

The photos are so good.

And, as it happens, these colleagues are all terrific people.

2013: The year of …

You make the call.

This was Newsweek's choice 29 years ago.

This is not how today got its name

You knew that, of course.

A couple of guys from my father's hometown went down to New York City to see this fight (the Louis-Schmeling rematch). They were a little late getting to Yankee Stadium. Just as they got to their seats, the fight was over.

At least that's how everyone told the story.

Say what you will about Ralphie’s dad

The man enjoyed reading his newspaper.

On a scale of 1 to 10…

…how much did seeing the trees beautifully flocked by freezing fog make up for the lack of snow?

The Wednesday Slice question

If you were chosen to select a Christmas miracle for the Inland Northwest, what amazing occurrence would you request?

Got my fingers crossed

Here's hoping no one refers to 2014 as a “hump year” because it starts on a Wednesday.

A lapsed SR tradition

I'm pretty sure I have mentioned this before.

But I think about it at this time of year.

For a few years, there was an SR newsroom tradition that featured an editor handing out commemorative mugs. These mugs were adorned with boldface allusions to some of the year's big news stories.

The problem with that is a lot of A1 news stories do not have festive themes. References to murders and disasters made for a rather odd holiday season cup o' cheer.

OK, I realize the intent was to acknowledge the work that went into our coverage of these stories. Nobody was celebrating tragedy and mayhem.

Still. The mugs were weird.

We no longer do that.

But what 2013 local news story would you rather not see mentioned on a year-end mug?

Answers to Slice column question

“The surest sign that someone at a Christmas Eve service hasn't been in a church before?” wrote Bob Auvil. “The men don't remove their hats, and young folks play games or continue to text on their I-phones.”

Donna Lee wrote, “One sure giveaway of someone who hasn't been in church before is that the person doesn't whisper but speaks in a normal tone of voice for everyone to hear.”

Then there was this from Bob Hazelbaker. “Your question of today reminds us of the Midnight Mass in Sandpoint a few years ago when a group of people entered the side door shortly before the service began. Their unfamiliarity with mass and church attendance in general was made clear as the last member of the group carried in a tray of lattes.”

Inland Northwest entertainment trivia

Jack Bannon played an aspiring actor who went by the name of Bolt Upright in an episode of “The Beverly Hillbillies.”

This date in Slice history (1998)

Today's Slice question (fill in the blanks): “Spokane: Come for the (     ), stay for the (     ).”

Today’s holiday rerun about a cat

We pre-paid all the fees and the kitten got adopted by a nice woman who sent us pictures. She told us she had named the cat Noelle.

She became an indoor cat, but she and the two other felines at that home had access to a big screened-in back porch area.

Have a favorite Christmas Eve memory?

At the time of our first Christmas as a married couple, my wife and I lived in downtown Spokane.

We walked to midnight Mass at Our Lady of Lourdes. It was packed. When we left the church, it was snowing lightly.

I guess that's actually a Christmas Day memory. But I always associate it with Christmas Eve.

Would dunking ruin the sport?

I wonder how many players could dunk on a 12-foot basket.

The last No. 1 song of the 1980s

Where were you in December of 1989?

The War on Festivus

You know, of course, that one of the holiday's traditions is the airing of grievances.

But as I am sure you also know, airing grievances is all some people do anymore. It has become their hobby.

That has to pose a threat to the specialness of Festivus grievance airing.

I, for one, am alarmed. 

Why reporters/editors want this week off

Sure, the holiday has something to do with it. Spending time with loved ones at Christmas can be swell. 

But there's something else.

If you have a story or column in the Dec. 24th paper, there is a chance it contains a mistake.

And that means the resulting correction would run on Christmas Day. Which is not an especially festive feeling.

Let heaven and nature sing.

Just wondering

How many people refer to their in-laws as “the outlaws”?

December weddings and long marriages

A few more.

“Paul, my two sisters and my husband and I were all married in December,” wrote Kay Edmonds. “The oldest celebrating their 51st, the next their 49th and ours our 40th this year. Several of our dear friends also were married in December, including Doug and Carlie, Kathy and Pat, Carol and Don, and Nancy Sue and Marc — all over 39 years.”

Then there was this from Karen Joy.

“Paul, I hope it is not too late to weigh in on the longevity of December weddings,” wrote Karen Joy. “My parents (Dec. 1) were married for 54 and a half years when my dad died in 2004. Our friends Don and Judy (Dec. 31) were married for well over 50 years when they both died a few months apart a few years ago. My cousin, Pat, and her husband Ken (Dec. 26) are nearing the 50 years mark. Our friends Kim and Russ share Dec. 20 with us as a wedding date. They have been married for around 35 years. My husband Michael and I celebrate 41 years. We hope our younger son, Jon, and his wife, Nita, join all of us in long and happy marriages. They just celebrated three years of marriage on Dec. 5.”

Pets giving gifts to other pets

Several readers said it is not uncommon.

“Oh, yes,” wrote Alice Spray of Spokane. “Curly Bill mailed a new catnip toy to Miss Kitty, in Arizona.”

I assume the humans in question get involved at some stage of the process.

Animal tracks in the snow

Ever see some near your home that you simply could not identify?

How much do you worry when…

…you don't receive a Christmas card from someone you hear from every year at this time (and it typically is your only contact with that person)?

Speaking of 1979

Anything like these duds in the back of your closet?

The last No. 1 song of the 1970s

Yes, I have mentioned this song before. But it is my assumption that certain Slice Blog readers might enjoy thinking about 1979 for a moment.

Julie Andrews vs. What’shername

If comparing the two “Sound of Music” leads could be thought of in terms of prize-fighting, which line from “Rocky” would be most applicable?

A) “I can't see. Ya gotta open my eyes. Cut me, Mick. Cut me.” B) “You're spitting up blood.” C) “Down! Down! Stay down!” D) “Ain't gonna be no rematch.” E) Other.

Five questions unrelated to Christmas

1. You know how some people recommend brushing your teeth right after dinner as a tactic aimed at helping one resist snacking. Sure. Well, does that work only if your oral hygiene regimen involves at least four steps, including two battery operated devices?

2. What do these cities have in common: Atlanta, Oakland, Hartford, Cleveland, Kansas City and Quebec City. (The answer has to do with sports.)

3. Is it appropriate for one to consider himself or herself a good speller of names if that person has no experience with Hopi last names?

4. What long-closed Spokane restaurant do you still miss?

5. Do you remember reading about this? (The 1944 event, not the 2009 column.)

Who tracked in the most slush today?

Sure, with snow on the ground, most people know to take off their shoes or boots before marching into the home. Especially when wearing footwear with deep treads, the kind that store about a pint of frozen liquid each.

But sometimes people forget.

So it seems like a good bet that at least a few Inland Northwest residents had their sanity questioned today after leaving a trail of slush upon getting home.

What do you notice in old movies?

OK, I'll start.

I always notice when someone in the film is reading a traditional, broadsheet newspaper and it appears to be about six feet wide.

And it never fails to get my attention when a character parks a bicycle without chaining it up.

Your turn.

Re: Joni Mitchell’s “River”

I would have guessed that this song had been used in twice as many movies and TV shows as listed below. But maybe it was just a couple of them appearing in close proximity — “thirtysomething” and “The Wonder Years” maybe — that made me think almost every half-decent show had leaned on Ms. Mitchell for a seasonal grabber.

Coming in Saturday’s Slice column

Kids' tips on how to have a happy marriage.

Would you get the reference?

If someone trying to class up his language encountered a moment of frustration or disappointment and said, “Fudge…only I didn't say fudge.”

Run the picket fence at ‘em

My alma mater's basketball team plays undefeated, top-ranked Arizona on Monday. They play every year. NAU never wins. But every few years, they manage to keep it close.

No one expects this to be one of those years. No one.

Anyway, there's no reason you would give a damn about any of that. But I had “Hoosiers” on for a few minutes yesterday. And though I think it's a swell movie, I found myself wondering what scenes others have to mute now that they have seen it countless times.

I'll start the bidding with…the slow-building, pregame locker-room clapping.

And can you tell me what member of the “Hoosiers” cast had been on “Rawhide” for years and also had a hit novelty song?

I brought this up a couple of years ago, but there is a chance you do not recall all 6,801 Slice Blog items.    

Bruce Wayne: “Most likely to succeed”

Bruce certainly was one square-jawed son of a gun.

His track and field form seems a bit iffy, though.

If you were born on this date in 1965

This was the No. 1 song on the radio when you arrived.

I was in grade school and liked the Dave Clark Five at this time, but I can't say I thought much of this song — the group's only U.S.No. 1 hit.

Tis the season for talking geography

There are several ways you can tell when someone is secure in the knowledge that our area is, warts and all, a pretty good place to live.

Here's one.

Let's say you are mailing a package to some faraway place. Or maybe picking one up sent from another part of the country.

If the counter clerk feels the need to say something like “I wouldn't want to live THERE,” that person probably thinks Spokane is in some sort of livability competition and secretly realizes it is a contest the Lilac City will not always win.

But if the person says something nice about, say, Ohio or New Mexico, there's a good chance he or she recognizes that there are all kinds of people anywhere you go. By expressing interest in or gently praising your package's destination, he or she implies that your uncle or sister undoubtedly are fine people living good lives.

And it makes the case in a congenial manner that there are better ways to lift Spokane up than putting other places down.  

A tidbit of seasonal Spokane trivia

Did you know that the now-classic 1966 TV production “Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas” was directed by born-in-Spokane Chuck Jones?

Carving the roast beast.

Do you recognize this right away?

OK, the photo credit gives it away.

How to be branded unpatriotic

It's simple.

All you have to do is suggest the Thunderbirds are an expensive public relations stunt and note that you would rather the Department of Defense found a better use for that money.

Encounters with strangers

So I was in a long line at a post office.

To be expected this week.

A couple of women who had completed their transactions individually offered cheery assurances to those of us waiting that the line moves quickly. Easy to say when you are on your way out. But whatever.

In any event, the second of these women eyed those of us waiting and said we won't be in line long. Then she added, “You just have to jolly up.”

With that she put a hand on my arm, clearly accusing me of insufficient jollity.

She's not the first to mistake my natural expression for discontent. But really.

I did not say anything to her.

A bit later, a checker at Trader Joe's asked if I was “doing anything crazy this this afternoon.”

I thought about saying I apparently was daring to not look adequately jolly. But I suspect he didn't really care about my answer.

If you had to pick Coen brothers or cats

Which would you choose?

If you do not want to have to make that choice, do not listen to this half-hour interview. I would not call it riveting radio, but the moviemakers do reveal that they are utterly oblivious to the charms of felines. Amazingly so. The host mentions that she has a recurring nightmare about her own cat running away and one of the brothers suggests she, the host, would be better off.

Of course, it could be that you are able to separate the art from the artist and do not require than you like everything about the artist's personality. 

The Wednesday Slice question

In which camp do you reside — poinsettias are deadly to cats or “That has been pretty well debunked”?

“The Bed Jacket”

If you have heard of a “bed jacket,” I am willing to bet there is a good chance it is because you are familiar with an episode of “The Andy Griffith Show” that first aired on Dec. 17, 1962.

“The Bed Jacket” was a wonderfully written, well-acted illustration that, though the Taylor household was not a nuclear family in the traditional sense, the home was built on a foundation of love.

Andy gives up his prized fishing rod so he can get Aunt Bea a birthday present that will make her happy. And though the episode is not set at Christmas, it says a lot about the joy of giving.

Do you deny ever liking Hall & Oates?

Whatever you say.

In any case, this was the No. 1 song on this date in 1982.

The real reason some avoid downtown

They cannot parallel park and do not want anyone to know.

TVs in waiting rooms: Yes or no?

I'll start the voting with a big “No.”

Too many things can, and do, go wrong.

Just wondering

Did you watch this knowing that a few scenes from the 2002 Ohio State/WSU game were certain to appear?

Movie trivia

What did Leo Farnsworth purchase for $67 million in 1978's Heaven Can Wait”?

What if…

…everyone adopted a policy of sending Christmas cards only to those who had already sent them one?

A theory

I think people who wear glasses are more apt to clean the grime covered headlight covers on their cars more often than those who do not wear glasses.

Why you read year-end Top 10 arts lists

A) To confirm your own excellent tastes in TV shows and movies. B) To scoff. C) To find recommendations. D) To be able to say, with puzzling pride, “I've never heard of any of these.” E) Depends on your relationship with the critic in question. F) To take a momentary break from being mad about politics by spending a few moments being mad about entertainment. G) Other.  

This date in “Twilight Zone” history

“A Most Unusual Camera” first aired on Dec. 16, 1960.

Some small-time crooks acquire a camera that takes pictures of the near future.

There's probably no need for a 53-year-old spoiler alert. But let's just say the magic camera proves to be too much of a good thing.

If you turn 40 today

This was the No. 1 song on the day you arrived.

Do you remember George Costanza singing this in “Seinfeld”?

“Oh, hey………….”

Happy birthday, Jane Austen

Without your book, these two would not have met.

Combat in bitter cold weather

I seriously doubt that many of us can even begin to imagine.

This pivotal battle started on this day in 1944.

Welcome to the final week of autumn

The winter solstice occurs on Saturday.

What might be a good way to see in the new season?

It’s Patty Duke’s birthday

By my unofficial estimate, one in four Inland Northwest residents has enjoyed some kind of pleasant encounter with her.

The slow avalanche of holiday treats

Is there such a thing as having too much food up for grabs at your workplace?

Public wedding proposals: Yes or no?

You know, the orchestrated Jumbotron performances or other spectacle-like presentations of engagement rings?

Personally, I do not admire the impulse that leads guys to set up these circus proposals. But I am aware that some people who must have been dropped as infants regard these attention-seeking stunts as romantic and sweet.

In my view, that's a moment for two people and just two people. Not a stadium full of strangers, half of whom are hammered.


Pondering success of Nick the bar owner

“Loved your 'Nickisms' in today's Slice,” wrote Robert Fairfax. “One thing you forgot to mention but I always thought was unfair in George Bailey's alternate reality…

“Everyone else was worse off in life — Violet a ho, Ernie divorced and alone, Ma Bailey a bitter old woman, etc.

“Except Nick. He had his own bar, his name above the door. Obviously a successful businessman instead of being a toady for Martini. Maybe we should talk to Clarence about working with Nick for a while. He deserves some success, too!”

Your assignment, should you choose…

I wanted to post one of my favorite scenes from “The West Wing.”

But I can't find it.

It's not an especially brainy moment for a show that had a lot of those. But if you were ever a 9-year-old boy, it had to get to you.

President Bartlet is on Air Force One, which is still on the ground. He says something like, “You want to see the best part of my job?”

Then he picks up the intercom phone and says, “Colonel, this is the president. I'm ready to go.”

Almost before he has hung up the phone, we hear the big plane's engines roar to life.

Knocked me out when I first saw that.

Anyway, as I said, I can't find it online. So feel free to track it down and send it to me.

If today is your 50th birthday

This was the No. 1 song on the day you arrived.

Even without actually hearing it, this might get stuck in your head. Of course, you don't speak French. So you'll mostly be going over the first part. Over and over.

This date in Slice history (1994)

Today's Slice question: Do you ever scan the box office results, bestseller lists, music charts or TV ratings and feel very, very alone?

The cost of a small kindness

So I was sitting in the still parked outbound STA No. 43.

The bus was on Sprague, pointed west. It was almost 2:20, the time it was due to pull out.

A sixtysomething ponytailed guy in the seat in front of me smelled like all the cigarette butts in the universe.

I was sitting on the sidewalk side of the bus. I heard a voice and looked out my window.

Two vaguely well-off looking women were walking west and one had lost her grip on a two-wheel cart she was pulling. I watched her pick it up. They started walking again.

A couple of black winter gloves fell onto the sidewalk from the cart. The woman didn't notice.

But just as I realized she couldn't hear my knocking on the bus window, the women stopped and the other one went into this convenience store there. Shop Around the Corner, I think it's called. The cart woman stayed outside.

“Driver, could you open the doors and tell that woman next to the bus that she dropped her gloves,” I yelled, right in the ear of the ponytail guy.

The driver did as I asked and was saying something when I saw some hood-wearing guy on the sidewalk pick up the gloves. Before I could fret about it, he headed toward the open bus door. The gloves were in his outstretched hand. He was going to give them to the driver. 

“It's the woman in the red coat,” I yelled to the driver.

The driver relayed this to the hooded guy and he pivoted and walked a few steps to hand the gloves to her.

“Sorry about yelling in your ear,” I told the ponytailed guy.

He turned and said something nice. I stopped being bothered by his ash tray aroma.

Just as the bus started to pull into traffic, I looked back to the sidewalk.

The guy in the hood was still standing next to the woman in the red coat. She had her purse out. She did not look perturbed. But neither was her expression one you would see in ads for downtown shopping/dining euphoria.

I can't say for sure. But I'm guessing the guy in the hood had told her he sure could use some spare change.

In the spirit of the season

I just told a colleague I would bet her mother $20 that one of her recollections of a certain Spokane winter are wrong.

Coming in Friday’s Slice column

The problems with regarding Nick as a role model.

A glimpse of Christmas in the future

Of course, if that robot turns out to be a Cyberdyne product and Skynet becomes self-aware, well, let's not worry about that right now.


If you ask people to tell you the dimensions of a hockey puck, some of the answers you get are way off.

Do you know the correct answer?

If you had to take sides…

…would you back the teacher or the parent?

www.saturdayevening post

Just wondering

When multiple people tell you about something you need to do but do not seem to listen to your answers, do you ever think of this?

If this does not ring a bell, it's because you have not seen the movie “Office Space.”

This date in Slice history (1994)

Today's Slice question: How many of Spokane's old telephone exchange word prefixes can you recall?

Coming in Thursday’s Slice

I try to avoid using the same items in both this blog and my print column.

But once in a while, it happens.

On Monday morning, a reader named Janet Yoder emailed me a link to the police log in the Bozeman paper. It included an entertaining entry mentioning Spokane. I posted it on this blog at 8:07 that morning. You can check. It's still there.

But then I came in on Tuesday morning and decided that the thing in the Bozeman paper was deserving of more attention than I had given it. So I made it the first item in Thursday's print column, which I write Tuesday morning.

So far, so good. Right?

Well, late Tuesday morning I notice a tweet from a woman in the news department at a Spokane TV station. She has a link to the Bozeman paper's police log in question. And, to add insult to injury, the editor of the S-R has retweeted it.

(By the way, I am sure she came upon it on her own. She has a reputation for being a hard worker. She did nothing wrong.) 

Great, I think. Now people are apt to assume I lifted my Thursday column item from a TV station tweet.

I suppose that would not be the crime of the century. But it wouldn't be my proudest moment.

So do me a favor. If you happen to hear someone tomorrow accuse me of lifting the Bozeman thing from the TV tweet, please say, “Actually he had that more than 24 hours earlier.”

Or perhaps you could just keep quiet. Because there is a truly excellent chance that I am the only person in Spokane who cares about the exact timing of how I arrived at the item atop Thursday's column.

Plan your Monday observances

This coming Monday is Jane Austen's birthday.

It is also Beethoven's birthday.

And it marks the anniversary of the start of the Battle of the Bulge.

Got any ideas about noting these milestones on the calendar?

Yeah, put the tree in sideways

Maybe that guy has been hitting the Old Taylor.

Just wondering

Has watching sports on TV (and flipping channels every few minutes) made actually sitting through a game in person feel like a jail sentence now?

The Wednesday Slice question

Is every parent able to recall a record-breaking public tantrum thrown by each child?

This date in Slice history (1995)

Today's Slice question: How would the Inland Northwest be different if you had never been born?

A 1967 ad from Seventeen magazine

Would have been interesting to see them set this up.

Or perhaps they are not real legs.

Jesus would not have looked Aryan

And that freaks out some people who prefer a 1950s movie image featuring someone with decidedly northern European ethnicity.

Survey says

The first time I did it, maybe 20 years ago, I used phone books from big cities that were available at the downtown public library.

The project? Ask people from around the country whose last name is “Spokane” how they pronounce it.

So you would think that would be a lot easier to do now that such people can be found online. You would be wrong.

It turns out that people named Spokane in, say, Pennsylvania or Illinois, are seemingly never home during the day and do not return phone calls.

Of course, it could be that my phone messages sound like the ravings of a troubled individual. But I hope I at least come off as a friendly troubled individual.

Birds, bees and boxcars

A friend was in her car the other day with her young son. I can't remember if he is 8 or if he is 9.

They saw a train on a rail line my friend had come to regard as all but dormant. “I wonder where that came from,” she said, referring to the locomotive.

Her son, who apparently can be quite the wise guy, had an answer.

“Well,” he said. “There's a daddy train and a mommy train and…”

At that point, my friend indicated she wanted to hear no more.

Multiple choice

Which are you most likely to say before the end of the day?

A) “Let's do this.” B) “You guys playin' cards?” C) “Good grief.” D) “Ring a ding ding.” E) “Is it safe?” F) “Serenity now.” G) “Forget about it, Jake.” H) Other.

This date in Slice history (1996)

Kids, take a tip from a sadder-but-wiser baby boomer who knows.

Do not even think about playing with the toys you receive for Christmas. Don't even open the product packages.

Store them in the “Future Collectibles” corner of your closet. Then wait a few decades. Trust us, that stuff will be worth big money.

Annual reminder

It's mean to scare little kids by telling them the longer and longer nights are a result of the Earth wobbling out of orbit and heading farther and farther away from the sun.

Some good stuff here

Check out the first entry in the second batch, down under sheriff's office reports. And don't miss the one fourth from the bottom in the first batch, about the passed out guy who thought he was in Spokane. Thanks to reader Janet Yoder for sharing this.

Speaking of minor bowl games

Which have you attended?

Here are three I can recall seeing in person. I had to look up the scores.

1978 Sun Bowl: Texas 42, Maryland 0

1983 Liberty Bowl: Notre Dame 19, Boston College 18

1986 Liberty Bowl: Tennessee 21, Minnesota 14

I worked at the WSU/Michigan Rose Bowl but nobody considered that one minor.

My parents attended the 1954 Cotton Bowl, made famous by the guy coming off the sideline to make a tackle.

If he falls and breaks his neck…

…I'm guessing she won't have any trouble finding a new man.

If today is your 21st birthday

This was the No. 1 song on the day you were born.

But really, that's not your fault.

I have a theory that if this was played at a wedding reception, the chance of divorce automatically doubled.

Recalling a childhood discovery

Do you remember what happened to first time you played an album at 45 speed?

Things Kids Need to Hear Department

“Being sorry is not the magic word that makes everything right again.” — Sheriff Andy Taylor speaking to his son, Opie, in a quietly great episode of “The Andy Griffith Show” called “Opie the Birdman.”

The original air date was Sept. 30, 1963.

This date in Slice history (1996)

Fiction exercise: If you were to write a short story about a supposedly unsinkable boat hitting an iceberg and going down in one of North Idaho's big lakes, what would you name the vessel?

A recommendation

It has been observed more than once that apples still clinging to tree branches in December can look like holiday ornaments. Especially with a little snow.

But there's more. At least when it is this cold.

If you take off a glove and touch one, you will discover that they feel like glass ornaments, too. 

Office holiday parties — an early report

This did not take place in Spokane.

It happened to my sister-in-law the accountant, who is one of my favorite people. She lives in Michigan.

But I don't think geography played a big role. I suspect this could happen anywhere. So let this be a warning.

Last week, she was at a dress-up company Christmas party. Lots of people. From what I heard, it was an elegant affair.

My sister-in-law had a soft drink in one hand and a plate of snacks in the other.

She went to take a drink from her glass and forgot that there was a straw.

The straw went right up one of her nostrils. Not a pleasant sensation and certainly a bit embarrassing.

But it gets worse.

When my sister-in-law moved the glass away from her face, the straw remained stuck in her nose. And since both her hands were full, it took a moment of juggling to extract the offending drinking tube.

She asked the people next to her if they had witnessed her performance. They indicated that they did not know what she was talking about.

You might assume that they were just being nice. But my sister-in-law believed them.

Her theory? If they actually had seen it, they would have still been laughing.

What makes people happy?

There are countless answers, of course.

But based on my experience of doing a few errands this morning, one thing on the list is seeing me in my parka and saying, “Not riding your bike today?”

This date in Slice history (1995)

Couples/conflict continued: Dannie Loriano suggested that one source of arguments might be husbands taking just a little too much interest in the weather report when KXLY-TV's Laura Ashley is on the tube.

It’s never too early to say “roast beast”

At least not here in Whoville on the Spokane.

When your memory starts to go

The years start to become a blur.

I was thinking about cold temperatures in Spokane. And I recalled that it was pretty nippy on a Feb. 1 once. Not sure how I remember that, but I do.

But I was certain it would have been back around 1990 or 1991.

So I checked weather records for that date. And best as I can figure, I must have been recalling Feb. 1, 1996, when it was -11 degrees.

Which is pretty far off my original guess.

So let's see a show of hands.

Has this blurring of years happened to you?

Reporting this item amused deskmates

It has been a few years now, but I can still recall how my phone conversation with one of the folks mentioned below entertained a couple of my colleagues.

This item appeared in The Slice column on Dec. 6, 1996.

Pet names: Nick Hofland nixed calling the family cat Honey. He couldn't see himself standing at the door, saying that in a loud voice. So his wife, Deb, agreed to a change. The new moniker? Cupcake.

And Deer Park's Sherry Lindsey has a laid-back black-and-white cat named Mr. Pussy Face.

Agree or disagree

The song “The Christmas Shoes” makes me want to harm myself and others.

The Santa question

“When my oldest daughter was about 6 she came home from school one day and announced that a friend told her that there was no such thing as Santa Claus,” wrote Sue Chapin. “I told her that was too bad because if you don't believe in Santa he doesn't believe in you and he quits bringing presents. She didn't ask any more questions.”

One-question pop quiz

Why might Jerry Kramer's name come up in a conversation about Eastern's football game Saturday?

Christmas cat

I am aware that there are one or two photos of felines on the Web. But this one cracked me up.

Something tells me that if you said “Get out of there” to that animal, it would not obey. 

If you were born on this date in 1969

This was the No. 1 song when you arrived. It would be played in your honor in sports arenas all across America for years.

I always liked this song. But when I was 14, I assumed the performers were black. Must have thought it sounded like a Motown record or something. See if it sounds that way to you.

Coming in Friday’s Slice column

An updated twist on comparing winters.

Today’s installment of “Ask The Slice”

Just heard from a friend. He had a question.


“I have a winter coat question not everyone would understand. But I think you will.

“It is 12 degrees right now. Do I break out my giant Eddie Bauer down coat? It's very warm, certainly, but if I go all the way to that coat, I won't have any reserve left. This coat is my nuclear option (my nuclear winter option?).

“Will I be screwed if I wear it at 12 degrees, and it subsequently drops to zero or 12 below? Is that like a gymnastics judge awarding a perfect 10, only to discover the next Romanian kid bounces even higher?

“This kind of over-thinking is why, nine winters out of 10, I never wear my Eddie Bauer coat even once. That, and the fact it makes me look like an upright sleeping bag, toddling down Riverside.”

It's a good question. I used to be a big believer in always having a heavier coat in reserve…just in case.

Lately, though, I have been willing to haul out the Big Bertha parka early in the season, purely in the name of comfort. That's what I did today.

But what would you tell my friend?

There’s cold and then there’s cold

“We moved down here from Fairbanks two years ago and I thought we would never need our car heater plug-ins again,” wrote Thom Foote of Colbert. “People always ask us what the electrical cord hanging out of the grille of our vehicles is for. Now I'm glad we didn't get rid of them.”

Had not thought about those in a while.

My dad used a plug-in when we lived on Michigan's Upper Peninsula for a couple of years. Can't remember if it connected to the dip stick or attached to a heating element elsewhere on the engine block. But everyone had them.

“Councilman pro tem Jon Snyder”

Should the SR make that its style until the recount is completed?

Of course, not.

But in other insanity, someone over on the newspaper's Facebook page dredged up the always delightful “Socialist Review.”

A Spokane classic. Ludicrous and forehead-slappingly unknowing. But a classic nonetheless.

If you mail chocolate at this time of year

There is an excellent chance that it will not melt.

Though I suppose the heated transfer facility/warehouse could be an issue if those working there overcompensate for frigid outdoor temperatures.

How would you explain this?

The song alludes to Santa hitting the gas (“Man, just watch her peel”) and also features the chorus “Run run reindeer.”

Did you ever try to reconcile those seemingly contradictory images? Or did you simply allow Mr. Wilson a little creative license?

Name game

There is a physical therapist in Spokane who, I am quite certain, hears his name mangled in all sorts of ways.

I'm sure of this because some of the people Madhu works with are elderly and hard of hearing.

But I have to wonder if he had encountered the mispronunciation he heard yesterday afternoon or if he knew the origin. 

This date in Slice history (1995)

Slice answers: What do Spokane area couples fight about? The quickest alternatives to Division, said Anne Cline.

A reader named Lynn said she and her husband argue about whether to ski on Saturday or on Sunday.

Another caller said that, in winter, disagreements erupt over who gets to take the four-wheel drive vehicle.

In movie theaters 25 years ago

How many stars would you give this?

Say what you will, his brief Richard Burton impression is pretty good.

This date in Slice history (1999)

A press release sent to the Wake-Up Review from National Pet Supply in Atlanta touts a sports drink for dogs now available in Spokeanne.

Did Tiny Tim have super-strong abs?

Wouldn't he have to possess tremendous, gymnast-like core strength to maintain that position?

Coming in Thursday’s Slice column

A reader shares a family story about images brought to mind by Rossini's “Barber of Seville” overture.

Meantime, Tawnia Penick sent this link as her answer.


The Wednesday Slice question

If you have never been on an STA bus, who do you imagine makes up the majority of the rider population?

A) Felons. B) The poor. C) The mentally ill. D) People with multiple DUI convictions. E) Vegans. F) Unemployed socialists and Lewis & Clark buffs.

G) Exceptionally cute 19-year-old poets. H) Exceptionally tired 55-year-old teachers. I) People with ideas. J) People who think you can simply declare your pet to be a service dog and that makes it official. K) Mutterers. L) Aspiring spokesmodels and others who don't watch the same shows you do.

M) People who don't like to pay for parking. N) People who go to an office, stay there all day and then go straight home. O) Social service volunteers. P) People who resent the wealthy but consistently support politicians whose agendas start with comforting the rich. Q) Atheist unpublished novelists.

R) Those wearing the same pants they wore yesterday. S) People who did not watch the game and would have no idea what you are all worked up about. T) The young and lawnless. U) Hummus eaters. V) Dropouts.

W) Children of the corn. X) Addicts. Y) People like yourself who don't need a car every day. Z) Other.

If this was an Idaho tourism promo

What would the text say?

This night in “Twilight Zone” history

The show described here first aired on Dec. 4, 1959.

It was never among my favorites. But just consider how close 1959 was to the end of World War II. It was inevitable that Serling would engage such themes before turning his gaze to the Cold War.

In other TZ news…it's coming…

Can this headline be saved?

Feel free to rewrite it.

Suddenly I am worried that I used this exact photo for a similar post a couple of years ago.

Oh, well. We can still re-enjoy the hat Lois is wearing.

This date in Slice history (1996)

Today's Slice question: Do you secretly hope one or two co-workers will make total fools of themselves at your office party?

Where were you on Feb. 5, 2006?

That's when the Seahawks were in the Super Bowl.

I watched the game at Stephanie Vigil's house.

I no longer get invited to her Super Bowl parties. And you know what? I wouldn't invite me either.

If you were a TV news anchor, would you invite to your Super Bowl party someone who constantly complains about TV news anchors? No way.

Besides, she was totally cordial in every one of our face-to-face encounters over the years. She even did me a favor once. And how do I repay her? By acting as if anchors being babies about winter weather is a war crime.

(Well, one local fixture probably does deserve to be tried for being a total tool, but that's another matter.)

Anyway, her parties (I went to two, I believe) were relaxed yet pleasantly festive. Stephanie is a gracious host and she has a lot of nice friends. The only person I sort of wanted to avoid was someone who also worked at the SR at the time.

This all came to mind because it would seem a lot of people think the Seahawks have a good chance to be in another Super Bowl soon.

If that happens, I know where I won't be.

But maybe there is still time to patch things up with Kris Crocker. I'll bet she and Jerry throw good parties.

Not hearing it right

Being back on the bus in the morning means I can once again listen to NPR's “Morning Edition.”

At least a few minutes of it.

This morning there was a report from Corga Coleman. I always note her name. It makes me picture a radio reporter who looks like this:

But it turns out I have been hearing her name wrong all this time.

Here's how she really spells it:


Pick the worst mother-in-law

Endora from “Bewitched”: Always turning you into a chimp or casting various annoying spells on you.

Mary Hatch's mother from “It's a Wonderful Life”: It was pretty clear she wanted Mary to snuggle up to that rich Sam Wainwright. What are the chances she would have ever let that go?

Norman Bates' mother from “Psycho”: She was quiet. But maybe too quiet.

Just wondering

At the store, how many milk cartons are you willing to move to get to the ones at the back that might have a better date?

How many people can say…

…that a heavily used Chevrolet Impala was the first car they owned?


What’s wrong with this picture?

I'm pretty sure straight/level flight is what's called for at the moment of bomb release. This plane appears to be in the midst of evasive maneuvers. No wonder I preferred Aurora.

Christmas song trivia

About eight years after this (see link), this guy would be married, briefly, to Yvonne “Batgirl” Craig.

When someone says “You gotta see this”

Do you usually wind up thinking that, no, you really did not need to see it?

This date in Slice history (1996)

This is a concentration problem only if you allow it to be one: Members of the opposite sex seldom look better than they do at church services.

Neil Young Spokane set list — 2007

I was feeling pretty smug about the excellent seats we had for this show…until I looked down by the stage and saw my then-colleague Rick Bonino sitting so close he could have reached out and grabbed Neil by the ankle. He did not do that.


Popular cat names

I was wondering how many pet owners have named a feline “Katniss” when I stumbled onto this.

True or false

Twenty-five percent of the women working in Spokane TV news are named Breanna (various spellings).

Is it possible to get a massage without…

…thinking of Moe Greene's sudden demise in “The Godfather”?

On newsstands 50 years ago

This has to be one of the 20 most famous magazine covers ever.

Not everyone liked it.

Are you old enough to remember when boxing was still big?

Are you old enough to remember Sonny Liston?

What is this guy saying to her?

I guess we would have to know their relationship before we speculate about whether he has a slap coming.

Calling all auto-engine experts

Ages ago, I got it in my head that it is easier to start a car on a cold day if the gas tank is full.

Can't remember who told me that or where I might have read it. But apparently I believed it, because I have been filling gas tanks in advance of cold fronts for years.

Maybe it has helped. Or maybe not. In any event, car starting has not been much of an issue at my place except for a couple of times about 20 years ago.

So here's my question. Is there anything to that theory?

I recognize that starting a car has changed in the decades since I first encountered that “full gas tank” advice. Today's computerized engines do not require the same gas-pedal finesse that once was a prized skill in frigid climes.

So I guess my question needs a follow-up. Even if it doesn't make a difference now, did it once upon a time?

Sometimes life in 2013 seems silly

When did football players stop being able to handle a water bottle themselves?

Apparently they now need to have some sideline flunky squirt water in their mouths.

Don’t watch this but I hear it is good

Do you have an opinion?

Just wondering

What would the person who taught you to drive think of texting-while-behind-the-wheel?

Sampling virtually undrinkable ales

For those who imbibe, is Sunday evening at home the perfect time and place to try out almost undrinkable British ales?

Maybe it depends on whether you tend to watch set-in-England TV shows on PBS.

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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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