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The Slice

Archive for June 2013

The issue of Life that some mothers hid

Was going to say that it almost seems tame today. But no, it's not really all that tame.

Who is more delusional?

The person who assumes that the individuals to blame for anything bad that happens in Spokane must be out-of-towners or recently moved here…or…the person who believes 87% of Spokane adults are named in outstanding warrants.  

Newspaper readers can be a total pain

I should know. I have been one for a long time.

When I was about 10, I was a big Willie Mays fan. That made me a San Francisco Giants fan.

My family lived nowhere near California at the time. But we did subscribe to two daily newspapers. And I was a devoted reader of the sports sections.

One day one of the papers ran a promotional box on an inside sports page. It said something like “Need to know the score?” and provided a phone number. You could call and get the latest results right off the teletype. 

I took note of this. In fact, I regarded it as the potential answer to one of life's major problems — how to get Giants scores in a timely manner.

I suppose I needn't remind you that the media landscape was different in that era.

Anyway, about that phone number. You would think that if a newspaper was going to offer to be your one-call info source, the people there would have considered that readers might take them up on it. But apparently the number published in the paper was just a phone on the sports copy desk. And so, when a certain kid in the suburbs started blitzing the paper with requests for Giants updates, they weren't ready for it.

Oh, it started off OK. I dialed the number and asked my question. And some guy at the paper provided me with an in-progress score.

But by the time I had called maybe four times in half an hour, my relationship with the ink-stained wretch answering the phone had become somewhat strained.

I cannot recall exactly what that 1960s journalist said to me. Nor can I claim to remember if I actually responded with “Sheesh, what a grouch!”

But in that moment I realized something: Not everyone at newspapers really enjoys interacting with readers.

I'm not sure when that promo with the phone number stopped appearing. I think it was pretty soon after one young baseball fan learned the score.   

No. 1 song on this date in 1974

He had performed at Expo '74 the previous month.

While dog owners are at Hoopfest

Their pets just might get together and decide to run amok. “Hey, check it out — we're all service dogs.”

Coming in Saturday’s Slice column

You know, I can't really remember what's in it. I wrote that Wednesday. I'm working on next Tuesday's at the moment.

I can, however, tell you that I have no memory of experiencing a Ralphie moment while cobbling it together. You know, that's when the boy at the center of “A Christmas Story” is writing a composition for school and confidently mutters to himself, “This is great.”

Still, there might be something in it that you will enjoy. You just never know.  

Condoms and blood pressure monitors

They are displayed right next to each other in front of the pharmacy counter at the downtown drug store where I get prescriptions filled.

I mentioned this interesting proximity to the pharmacist on duty this morning. He just chuckled. 

When the first-line editor is a feline

You have been right all these years. That scene early in “The Godfather” definitely wasn't Marlon Brando's first encounter with a cat.

Peering into the make-believe future

If warp drive is going to be developed in Montana, what futuristic technology should we expect to be invented in Idaho?

What’s he saying?

Have any Hoopfest Eve traditions?

Just wondering

If Gonzaga Prep had played Gonzaga High School (back in Washington, D.C.) in football every year since 2000, what would the series record be now?

Today’s suggested search topic

If you want something to read, you might do a search on Dean Martin mocking The Rolling Stones when they were on “The Hollywood Palace” in June of 1964.

Perhaps he was playing to his own audience, but it was jaw-droppingly rude.

When was the last time you did this?

A) About 50 years ago. B) Sometime in another century. C) I do it every once in awhile in the kitchen because it embarrasses my children. D) I have never done the Twist. E) If that link is what I think it is, I am about to get up and do it right now. E) Other.


If you sent an email or text that might be construed as a demand and the recipient replied that way, would you assume that person is a World War II buff?

When an actor you can’t stand is good

It happens. And that is the basis of the question in Friday's Slice column.

What would it be like?

If Hoopfest and Pig Out took place simultaneously?

You might love hot weather if…

A) You are under the impression that the Spokane area has hard winters. B) You actually do jump in a lake. C) You have air-conditioning. D) You enjoy opportunities to walk around with not much on. E) You are solar powered. F) Lizards on rocks are your role models. G) You hear people say “Ya gotta love it” and assume that liking hot weather is obligatory here. H) You have never lived somewhere with truly punishing summers (that forever sapped your tolerance for hot weather). I) Other.

The myth of the family bigot

We've all heard the one about every extended family including someone who occasionally spouts bigoted or socially insensitive remarks, embarrassing everyone within earshot.

Sure. That may or may not be the case.

But the notion that every family includes people who find such remarks embarrassing is seriously at odds with reality.

Among my souvenirs

Somewhere in a box of miscellaneous memorabilia I have a baseball pitched by this guy in a game at Crosley Field when I was a kid. He was with the Reds then. The pitch was fouled right over the third-base dugout by Art Shamsky of the Mets. It was a screamer and might have taken someone's head off if my athletic but otherwise useless brother-in-law hadn't snagged it.

I have mentioned this before. But I think of it every summer when watching games on TV.

Wish I could have traded the ball for my late sister's husband having been a better man.  

Hoopfest spectator fashions preview

Expecting the weather forecast to give people making the scene an excuse to arrive downtown virtually undressed? Pshaw! This year, stretched-to-the-limit tank tops are out and tuxes are in. It seems that some of us are shy about our tattoos after all.

The dressed-to-impress Basketball Jones will be trading in those snug yeast-infection shorts for a touch of elegance.

As Ron Burgundy would say…

Trying to imagine its route

I realize there is absolutely nothing unusual about seeing deer in residential areas.

But when I saw one this morning shortly after 5 o'clock, I was surprised.

It was standing in the intersection of 31st and Garfield on Spokane's South Hill. That's just behind the Super One.

It seemed perfectly healthy. I slowed my bike down as I got closer. My brakes squeaked. And it trotted off, heading south.

Reminded me a bit of the moose in the opening of “Northern Exposure.”

I have been trying to imagine the route it took to get to where I saw it. Must have come from the south or west.

Hope it managed to get out of the city before rush hour.

One search sequence 6/26/13

Your wife receives an email from her high school reunion committee.

She shows you some of the photos of her classmates.

Realizing your own class has a milestone anniversary this year, you go online and see if there is a reunion committee hard at work. You click on this. You click on that.

And before you know it, you are reading the obituary of a girl you knew slightly. She was one year ahead of you in school. Her name was Melody. You remember that she seemed like a good person. The obit is illustrated with her smiling yearbook photo.

You log off and step outside to get a little air.

One more misheard lyric

The first time I heard this, I thought Mr. Jagger was saying “Get off of my plow.”

I realize that makes no sense. And, no, I was not imagining that it was racy slang.

“Touched By An Uncle”

That's just one of the remarkable team names in this year's Hoopfest field.

Local fireflies?

The Slice column has been running readers' recollections of fireflies since Memorial Day.

There are even a few more in tomorrow's column.

Throughout the discussion, I have been operating on the assumption that our neck of the woods is not home to lightning bugs. No one challenged that assumption.

Until now.

Longtime Slice reader Phil Purcell of Rockford sent me a nice note which included this passage.

“I was born and raised on a farm five miles northeast of Rockford in 1926. I recall that back in the '30s I had the very same experience that you and others (who grew up elsewhere) did. We had a big ol' poplar tree in the front yard. Every year my dad would call us kids out to show us the fireflies under that tree. My first thought was that dad had something to do with making those bugs light up. Of course, I was only 5 or 6 years old then.”

If anyone can shed some light on this, please feel free to weigh in.

Warning: Earworm danger

Sure, film is so last century. But I just read that one-piece suits are making a comeback.

Of course, if you are not familiar with Paul Simon the warning was unnecessary.

Well, until now.

Blame a certain generation of parents

It doesn't happen every day. But it's not all that unusual for people who are about 20 to ask me to spell my first name after I have given it to them.

Poor kids. Growing up surrounded by peers saddled with “creatively” spelled names, they have known since daycare that you cannot assume someone's name is spelled in a sane way.

By the way, no one my age ever asks. 

A scene that looks local but isn’t

Apparently they also have lakes in New England.

The seasonal balancing act

If you are going to be away from work for a week or so, it's customary to leave your colleagues a note.

You know, to alert them to things that need to be done or situations that might come up during your absence.

But how much detail is really necessary? Certainly, you want to provide co-workers with all the information they might need. Still, composing a massive document could come off as, well, a tad self-important. And it could suggest that you don't have confidence that your colleagues are capable of remembering to tie their shoes. 

So how have you approached this “While I'm away” balancing act?   

Hoopfest small talk borrowed from movie

You could try out a line from 1981's “Body Heat.”

“You can stand here next to me if you want, but you'll have to promise not to talk about the heat.”

Or you could go with a line from “Biloxi Blues.”

“It's like Africa hot.”

Remembering a slow-dance song

Every now and then you hear adults complain about teens dancing in what these grown-ups regard as an inappropriate manner. That's the adults' right, of course. Got to keep the young ones moral after school.

But some of us, I won't mention any names, can recall junior high dances where certain slow songs produced a brand of tight-squeeze fraternization about which Ann Landers might have warned parents.

It wasn't really vulgar. It was just boys and girls being that age. Intense might be a better word.

Some of these songs weren't really any good. But for those about to move in for the clinch, they served a time-honored purpose.

The Wednesday Slice question

Can you remember a store-bought food first encountered as a kid that blew your mind?

Warning: This might creep you out

When you first look at Garvey's upper lip, doesn't it appear that the artist adorned the onetime Spokane Indian's image with a ludicrous pencil mustache? 

The Flash’s news reporter girlfriend

Was a bit of a bitch, if I may speak frankly.

Everyone claims to have loathed this

And yet, it was a megahit. Could it be that some people do not tell the truth?

You won’t be in Tour de France because

A) You have too much upper body muscle mass. B) This year's mountain stages are not challenging enough to interest you. C) Your ability to endure hours of suffering and then do it again the next day is not quite up to tour standards. D) You are afraid the decorative young women on the podium at the end of each stage would try to kiss you in earnest and make a scene. E) You don't look good in yellow. F) “What gear am I in now?” G) The Col de South Hill is about all you can handle. H) You would be shy about taking natural breaks. I) Some flag-waving bozo spectator at a summit steps in front of you and you'd be off the bike, throwin' hands. J) You are extremely female. K) They make you wear a helmet. L) Other.

Sally Draper goes to Woodstock

That's my guess about the next season of “Mad Men.”

When you hear the words “summer school”

What goes through your mind?

A) I remember that when I was a kid it was synonymous with a jail sentence for underachieving young scholars who were trying to avoid being held back a year. B) I remember a summer when I tried to pick up a few college credits after spending most of my freshman year in a keg-induced haze. C) A relaxed dress code. D) I had a friend who did a stretch and he said he spent all morning looking out the window, smelling freshly cut grass and hearing the sound of bats hitting baseballs. E) Other.   

Could you do this?

Shake hands with people you had been ferociously battling just minutes before.

Re: The local TV news F-bombs

They were so casual and even-tempered that I just can't see being outraged or aghast.

Those people can seem so plastic that this on-air gaffe almost seemed humanizing. Anyone wanting to be shocked must spend a lot of time being offended.

Sure, it was not all that professional. But what do you expect when most of the reporters have something like three weeks of experience.

Feel free to disagree.

And if you have no idea what I am talking about, send me an email. 

Are moms allowed to be good-looking?

Seeing that it is June Lockhart's birthday prompts a question.

Would it have been frustrating to be in a TV series watched by an audience that only had eyes for a dog?

Why whites dominated college hoops

A) The reality of race relations in America 50 years ago. B) Texas Western had yet to whip Kentucky. C) Some white players put Flubber on their sneakers. 

“There’s a bathroom on the right”

Can you recall mishearing any song lyrics?

When I first heard the Beatles' “I Saw Her Standing There,” I thought the line was “And I held her hand in Eye-eeeeee” (thought it was an odd British pronunciation of “Hawaii”) instead of the actual “…in mine.”

Something left out of today’s column

Tim Wink noted that I overlooked one big difference between summer vacation road trips of yesteryear and the modern versions.


“Serenity now”

Ever tried saying that as a stress-reduction technique?

Did it work?

Maybe you aren't doing it right. I find that if I think of Jerry Stiller playing the role of George Costanza's father in “Seinfeld,” it almost always calms me.

What to do

Coming in Tuesday's Slice column.

Does it mean you are disloyal to INW?

If you have always had a lukewarm reaction to born-in-Wallace Lana Turner.

Sure, she was supposed to be pretty sizzling. But not everyone sees it.

An apparently little-known fact

It's pretty easy to switch off automatic sprinklers when it is raining fairly hard.

OK, this has come up before. And some people assert that, because of big trees or whatever, rain does not effectively water parts of the yard. But I'm not sure I buy that in all cases.

Besides, does it make sense to have a landscaping scheme that requires circumventing the presence of trees?   

Do you remember luggage stickers?

Once upon a time, almost all suitcases had exteriors upon which one could affix stickers like this one.

If this were a new S-R promo…

…what one-word reaction would you have? (Grunts, snorts, et cetera count.) 

Most unlikely aspect of this scene?

A) The arguing players wearing sweaters. B) The “UMP” sign on the hat. C) The slightly odd caps worn by the arguing pair. (Had the artist never seen an actual baseball cap?) D) The idea that anyone would have brought a drinking glass to this gathering. E) Other.

“Maybe he’s from the corporate office”

Long ago, I lived in the city where the Holiday Inn chain had its corporate offices.

And sometimes on out-of-state road trips, I would stay at a Holiday Inn. I always hoped that after I signed in at the front desk, employees would excitedly speculate among themselves that maybe I was the equivalent of a secret shopper, there to check up on them.

I never really saw any evidence that I was receiving special treatment. And I suppose a real inspector from the corporate office would have used a fake home address. But it was fun to imagine that my arrival launched a “Waiting for Guffman” tizzy.

Who would have bought these?

Seriously. What do you imagine was the marketing vision for this particular series?

But getting back to the original question… A) Boys who felt a time-honored stirring they couldn't quite explain. B) Girls who aspired to a life of crime and wanted role models. C) Slightly older males with limited access to actual porn. D) Readers hoping for material far more sensational than these comics probably delivered. E) Other.

Death rattle of the station wagon

This automotive design could not have been long for this world by 1983. Though, to be fair, I suspect the folks at Ford probably viewed this as a somewhat retro look even back then.

That sound in the distance? Oh, that's something called a minivan.

No. 1 song on this date in 1982

He said/She said.

No. 1 song on this date in 1958

If you don't remember this — some of us had only recently stopped burping up in 1958 — you might recall Sheb as an actor. He was a member of the Miller gang in “High Noon,” Mr. Favor's trusted scout in several seasons of “Rawhide” and the old friend of Norman Dale who gives the basketball coach with a checkered past one last chance by hiring him in “Hoosiers.” 

Life in 2013

Just a bit ago, I was discussing the proper pronunciation of a certain fruit/vegetable smoothie with a young woman working at a place downtown that sells same.

Is it “In-teg-ral” or “Inte-gral”?

In any event, it was really good. Though I have to say, I like the one they call “Source” even better. 

A bit of mostly useless semi-local trivia

Bing Crosby Productions was one of the producers of “Hogan's Heroes.”

A note on the editing process

I want to share this because it's kind of funny.

But first I want to go on record.

I like and respect every one of the various editors who handle The Slice column after I have written it. That has not always been the case over the years, but it certainly is now.

Anyway, here's the story.

I'm actually on vacation. But I had written a few columns in advance. And I was trying to remember which one was set to run today. So shortly after midnight this morning, I called up That's when I saw that someone had tweaked the ender line down below my contact info.

What I had written was: T-shirts, cut-offs and a pair of thongs.

If you are as old as I am, you might recognize that as a line from The Beach Boys' song “All Summer Long.”

That was never a huge hit. But it is a good song and has been used as end-credits music in “American Graffiti,” a great episode of “The Simpsons” and probably elsewhere.

Using that line was The Slice's salute of sorts to the first full day of summer.

I did not put it inside quotation marks because I didn't want those who did not recognize it to feel somehow left out. Those who got it would get it, I reasoned. Those who didn't would just see it as a short list of summery stuff.

But leaving off the quote marks was a mistake.

Because someone at the S-R with the best intentions apparently balked at “pair of thongs” and replaced that with “pair of flip-flops.”

I can imagine what went through the editor's head, and I know the swap was done with my best interest in mind. 

So what can we learn from this?

1.) Don't read your own stuff while you are on vacation.

2.) Be grateful to have considerate colleagues who don't bug you with every little thing that comes up while you are away from the office.

3.) Always employ quotes or italics when reprinting song lyrics written before many of your colleagues were born.

Was he Idaho’s all-time top athlete?

According to various sources, this coming Monday is the anniversary of his first major league home run in 1955. It came in a game Washington lost to Detroit.

Happy birthday, Brian Wilson

It seems fitting that he was born on what is often the first day of summer.

Is it weather “weanie” or “weenie”?

In any case, thanks for not being one.

Which of these guys was from Spokane?

“Mr. Tambourine Man” was No. 1 on this date in 1965.

And regarding the question, here's a hint. It was said that the late Michael Clarke was invited to join the band in part because he looked like Brian Jones of the Rolling Stones.

Local lakes and the ho-hum of peace

(The Slice Blog will be back in full swing on Monday. In the meantime, here's something I was thinking about.)

It doesn't happen every time, but often enough.

I'll say something in my column about Inland Northwest lakes and a Crabby Appleton reader will call or write to say that even our area's biggest lakes are nothing size-wise compared to, say, the Great Lakes or some of the big lakes in Canada.

This I already knew.

But square miles aren't everything. I think the reason our lakes don't get respect in certain circles is that they were not a part of any famous battles. At least not any I know about.

After all, the War of 1812 was not partly fought on local bodies of water.

It's worth remembering, though, that there were people here long, long before white settlers. So maybe there were titanic clashes on our lakes that no one today knows anything about.

Or maybe Inland Northwest tribes 500 years ago were wise enough to settle disputes through negotiation.

Here’s an unusual typo

The song is actually called “Bella Linda.” Not Della.

This date in Slice history (1998)

Today's Slice question: If you could perform a little plastic surgery on the city of Spokane, what would you nip, tuck, lift or enlarge?

John, James, George and Ringo

As you might know, birthday geezer Paul McCartney's actual first name is James.

But boys of a certain age named Jim never really got to revel in sharing a Beatle name. Same goes for those named Richard. So maybe they have wondered.

How would things have been different if the Fab Four had been John, James, George and Dick?  

Do you agree with F. Scott Fitzgerald?

I'm not in the office this week. The Slice Blog will be back in gear on Monday. In the meantime, here's something I''ve been thinking about.

Was watching a PBS rerun the other night focusing on Garrison Keillor. I think I had seen it a few years ago.

But there was at least one moment I hadn't remembered. Keillor recited a quotation he attributed to fellow Minnesotan F. Scott Fitzgerald.

“What people are ashamed of usually makes a good story.”

Of course, that assumes people are capable of feeling shame, and that's not always clear.

Interesting observation, nonetheless.

Now here's an unrelated yet entertaining quote from Keillor himself.

“A good newspaper is never good enough, but a lousy newspaper is a joy forever.”

That’s telling her

The No. 1 song on this date in 1960.

In unrelated clown trivia, here's a question.

In the 1999 movie “Office Space,” what singer is characterized as a “no-talent ass clown”?

Just for the record

The rest of the English-speaking world observed Bloomsday yesterday.

Going over my head

I'm off this week. The Slice Blog will be back to normal next Monday. In the meantime, here's something I was thinking about. 

Shortly after Christmas, a man who lives at my mother's assisted living community told me about a dream he had. In fact, he gave me a written summary.

It was somewhat involved and had a religious theme. The biblical Mary played a featured role.

I don't know if he hoped I would say something about it in print. I thought at the time that he just wanted to share it.

The next time I saw him, I briefly discussed the dream and thanked him again for telling me about it.

I have seen this gentleman in passing many times since then. The dream never came up.

But when I encountered him this weekend he told me he had sent an account of his dream to the president of the United States.

He added that he had received a nice personal note acknowledging it, complete with the president's signature.

A couple of thoughts crossed my mind. But what I actually said was, “Wow, that's great!”

I did not speculate out loud about the likelihood that the president had ever seen his mailing. I did not allude to the existence of high-speed signature machines or letter-generating computer programs.

For that gentleman, the reply from the White House was an affirmation and the source of a big smile.

It wasn't my place to cast doubt. Besides, for all I know, a White House staffer passed along the summary of that dream and the president understood it better than I had.

“Think of that,” I said to this man. “That's really something.”

This date in Slice history (1999)

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

Life in 2013

At my sister-in-law's house in Michigan, they have a motion detector/camera by the front door.

I think they mostly got it to keep track of a formerly feral cat they had gradually introduced to a life of relative comfort and ease.

Anyway, the camera unit automatically emails a series of photos of the person or animal on the front porch to both her and her husband's phones.

Well, a Fedex delivery man arrived at the front door with golf clubs that had been sent home to the Midwest from California by her husband.

My sister-in-law didn't hear the doorbell nor did she see the front door emails. But her husband, who was still in California, did. So he called and reported that the Fedex guy had tried to deliver his clubs.

My sister-in-law hopped in her car and tracked down the Fedex truck there in their development. She took possession of the golf clubs.

The formerly feral cat presumably requested that there be a little less commotion while napping was in progress.

If you had a dollar for every time…

…you heard this on the radio.

It was the No. 1 song on this date in 1975.

This date in Slice history (1996)

Hey, graduates: Try to avoid working for anyone who regards telling the truth as “Being negative.”

Another Flag Day Slice answer

“We moved to Sandpoint in the summer of '84 from Colorado,” wrote Diane Jones. “One of my new friends gave us a beautiful, one of a kind, handmade wind sock from Hawaii for a house warming gift. We put it on the front stoop of our small home downtown. Not a week went by and someone had stolen it.

“Witnesses say it was some young girls that drove up and nabbed it quickly and drove away. A few weeks later the same exact wind sock was sighted by my friend that had given it to me. Interestingly enough, it was flying on a dock of a very wealthy family on Lake Pend Oreille!

“We did some investigating and came to find out that the young daughter had given the wind sock to her father for Father's Day. We decided that the young girl needed it more than we did, so we left it alone.

“I'm sure her father never learned the truth that day. We realized karma does catch up to you eventually!” 

Editorial comment

Noticed this morning that some free-speech vandal had written a two-word vulgarism on an S-R vending box downtown.

You've heard this expression before. It's the one that starts with “No” and ends with a familiar four-letter synonym for excrement.

The author, who used a black magic marker and wrote with pretty big letters, added an exclamation point. I would have thought that punctuation might be implicit, but I quibble.

So, anyway, what was his or her point?

Was he saying that the news content of the S-R tilts toward recitations of the obvious?

Or was he suggesting that the newspaper is a metaphorically fecal-free reading delight?

Perhaps the message was actually a slightly more inscrutable existential cry, an expression of alienation and angst. As politicians know, you can't go wrong blaming the media for almost anything.

But please feel free to offer your own theory.   

Flag Day Slice answer

Today's column asked readers if they have had a flag stolen.

Ray Dickelman, who lives in the South Perry neighborhood, had an answer.

“We have had five flags stolen in over 20 years.”

True or false

These guys are waiting for the Empire Builder in Spokane back before Expo '74.

Multiple choice

What's he saying to the boy?

A) “Plastics.” B) “No, Joey. Those mountains are not real.” C) “Expensive coffee drinks — that's the future.” D) “Think, Joey! Where did you put the remote?” E) “Californy is the place you oughta be.” F) “Look, just face it. Idaho is a made-up word.”.G) “My advice is to start drinking heavily.” H) “We're going to need a bigger boat.” I) “ABC — always be closing.” J) “I have to be leaving, Joey. We're getting the band back together.”

Can a placemat be cool?


A few more concerts remembered

“The best was Bob Dylan with Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, 1987 tour,” wrote Bob Witte of Sandpoint. “Worst was Joe Cocker. It was in a small club and he threw up on stage. I've been trying to forget it ever since.”

Darlene Brice said the concert she enjoyed most was in the early summer of 1964, in San Bernardino, Calif. The Rolling Stones opened for The Righteous Brothers.”Both groups delivered a great concert but the Rolling Stones rocked the house. I became a Rolling Stones fan at that long-ago event.”

Laura Parker puts Jimi Hendrix and Led Zeppelin shows, both in San Francisco, at the top of her list.

“The worst concert? That has to be the recent Cowboy Junkies concert that I had won tickets for through NPR. I had heard of the band but had never heard their music. So while my friend and I were trying in vain to get into their style of music we had behind us the concert-goers from hell. You know these people. They sit right behind you and talk loudly through all the songs while striking their feet against your chair backs enumberable times. Oh, and at one point this gal takes off her shoes and drapes her stocking feet over the arm of the chair next to me. Really! We left shortly after intermission when it seemed like the female lead singer had just shot heroin or chugged a bottle of whiskey or took some sleeping pills or all three as she proceeded to lay her head over her arm and microphone stand and sing really sl-o-o-o-o-w.”

Happy birthday to Dr. Eric Heiden

I can still remember hearing women talk about his legs, which was illuminating.

I had heard women speak admiringly of attractive men before, of course. But there was something unreservedly lustful about the appreciation of the Olympic speed skater's male form.

I had no inclination to begrudge them their fantasies. After all, Heiden had worked long and hard to be in the shape that allowed him to excel as an athlete. And by all accounts, he was an excellent person. So if some of my female acquaintances wanted to imagine enjoying close proximity to his well developed quads, well, who could blame them?

Not ladylike? Perhaps. But since when have all men behaved as gentlemen when speaking of females they found stirring?

This date in Slice history (1997)

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

Unlike every other man in Spokane

I never really got into restoring old cars.

In Friday's Slice column, I'll explain why.

My complicity in Cowles conspiracy

Just a little bit ago, I was in the Review Tower lobby talking to my friend Don Hanlon about the Stanley Cup finals.

While we were discussing last night's Blackhawks/Bruins game, Betsy Cowles came through the front doors and headed toward the elevators.

I did not interrupt my conversation with Don to hector her about the River Park Square parking garage.

So there's that.

Then, mere minutes later, I was over outside the post office on Riverside. I saw a young couple. The guy was pushing a baby stroller. He said something to the woman about finding a place to get something to eat.

They seemed like visitors, so I took the liberty of approaching them. I mentioned that River Park Square was nearby and that they could find several options there — maybe even something the kid would tolerate.

They thanked me. And, as any good corporate lackey would, I kept silent about the controversy over financing the parking garage.    

Things that make you sit bolt upright

You know, in the middle of the night.

Today's Slice column has a reader alluding to Johnny Cash's practice of coming on stage and saying “Hi, I'm Johnny Cash.”

Well, last night — way too late to do anything about it — I was struck by the thought that what the singer actually said was “Hello, I'm Johnny Cash.”

For a moment, it felt like the end of world. We all make mistakes. But I should have known that.

(Insert very bad word here.)

(Insert an even worse word here.)

Well, it turns out he actually said both. There's even an album called “Hi, I'm Johnny Cash.”

(Insert sigh here.)


Six popular myths about librarians

1. They all look and dress like this.

2. They spend their work days reading.

3. They have a trove of facts memorized. (Some do know a lot. But their real mission is to help you connect with information that could change your life for the better.)

4. The way people become librarians is to simply start referring to themselves as such. (What? You mean those who bothered to obtain master's degrees in the field needn't have gone to the trouble?)

5. Male librarians are required to have beards. (Actually it's optional.)

6. They were attracted to the work by the prospect of policing people watching porn and dealing with kids dropped off by parents who regard libraries as free day-care facilities.  

Ever been to Little Bighorn Battlefield?

Ever been in late June?

I've been twice — once in March of 1988 and once in late summer six or eight years ago. But I have not seen the site at the exact same time of year as the battle. If you have, I'd love to hear about it.

No. 1 song on this date in 1961

It would be easy to make fun of this song. But I thought it was pretty profound upon first hearing it when I was a kid. (I was a sucker for story songs.) And I'm not inclined to turn my back on it now.

This date in Slice history (2000)

Many local toddlers speak fluent Klingon.

What would you name your pub?

I've asked this before. But I was reading Rick Bonino's fine story about cooking with beer and started thinking about adult beverages.

How would you pitch to Superman?

I'm thinking put one in his ear and hope that he starts a fight. Sure, he might hurl your starting pitcher into outer space. But then the Man of Steel would get tossed out of the game and you would be done with him.

Either that or a split-finger Kryptonite fastball.

Intentional walks wouldn't work because he could hit anything.

Is the catcher's glove in proper position to have caught the ball?

Just to clarify

Thursday's Slice column consists of readers noting the best or worst concerts they ever attended.

I wanted to include a decent sampling of responses, so it is a pretty no-frills stack of short answers.

But I'm feeling guilty about the way I shortened one reader's answer.

His “worst” was a Black Oak Arkansas show in Boise long ago.

And I am afraid some readers are apt to find themselves thinking,  “Well, what did he expect?”

But here's the thing. The only reason this guy attended the concert was to accompany a woman he was seeing. She was assigned to review it and had two tickets.

Sorry, John.

Past Spokane Indians managers include

The late Preston Gomez. In addition to the Astros, he also managed the Padres and Cubs.

Former major league player Pete Reiser had to step down as manager of the Indians in 1965 after suffering a heart attack. He was replaced by Duke Snider.

Roy Hartsfield went on to be the first manager of the Toronto Blue Jays.

And you already know about Tommy Lasorda, Danny Ozark and others.

Can you spot a problem here?

That's right. This concert happened all right. I have friends who were there. But the listed facility didn't exist at the time. The show was, of course, at the Coliseum.

Can you imagine seeing the Beach Boys on a late summer Friday night in 1966, a few months after the “Pet Sounds” album had come out? Not bad. 

The Wednesday Slice question

What role has food played in your romantic life?

If you Google “Dorothy Dean”

Here is one of the images that shows up. Honest to God. Isn't this exactly how you pictured her?

If you are unfamiliar with the legend of Dorothy Dean, call the food section editor. She loves talking to S-R readers who eat.  

No. 1 song on this date in 1975

We have discussed the group America here before. But it's never too late to weigh in.

You be the copy editor

I'll bet you could improve that headline. If you can take your eyes off Miss Lane's hat, that is.

Which accent do you find to be sexy?

A) Australian. B) French. C) Scandinavian. D) Canadian. E) Thai. F) Nigerian. G) Scottish. H) Mexican. I) Russian. J) Japanese. K) Indian. L) German. M) Other.

True or false

This gentleman was an early Dutch investor in downtown Spokane real estate.

His real name was Clarence

And, as you can see, he spent part of the 1961 season in Spokane.

Agree or disagree

The iris is the most heartbreaking flower.

No. 1 song on this date 50 years ago

Remember this?

Would it help if I hum a few bars?

This date in Slice history (1996)

Today's Slice question: Where have you unexpectedly encountered someone smoking pot?

Coming in Tuesday’s Slice column

Some of my helpful readers have suggested alternative careers for me over the years.

Thanks for caring!

But I have an idea of my own.

This date in Slice history (1996)

Today's Slice question: What was Spokane's worst-ever garage band?

It must be Laura Petrie Pants Day

On a short round-trip from the Review Tower to the post office across the street and back, I saw two women wearing capri pants.

Is this how your family entertains at home?

For the record

Not long ago I said this book contained a Spokane reference.

(Had to do with 1940s discussions about making aluminum bats in Spokane.)

But I found another Spokane reference in a section dealing with the minor leagues.

(An allusion to the Dodgers switching their AAA base of operations from Montreal to Spokane.)

So there you go.  

North Side kid makes good

I'm just going to assume that you know what's going on here. Besides, that is, Barry Fitzgerald looking at Ingrid Bergman in the same way a lot of male moviegoers did.

I've seen that Oscar Bing is holding. Perhaps you have, too. 

Just wondering

If you had to guess, how many vinyl copies of this album would you say there are in the Inland Northwest?

Why didn’t Perry see it before it ran?

A) Under orders from on high to run whatever damn thing Lois Lane did on A1, Perry White had taken to spending most of his time quietly getting soused in his office. Go ahead and call him “Chief.” He didn't care. Just close the door on your way out. B) Starting around 1963, Perry pretty much just paid attention to the Planet's website. C) Clark is holding a page proof. Miss Lane's sensational story hadn't actually run yet. D) Other.  

How to rear children

Step 43: Get the child a bear cub costume.

What’s on this lad’s mind?

Let's assume that she is not his mother.

A) Cycling safety. B) Bike seat comfort. C) Something his friend Max said about girls during recess. D) Other. 

“Comforting Mrs. Rosen”

Ask a “Mad Men” viewer why you might be hearing that as a new euphemism for an activity that has been around a long time. 

When the personal touch falls short

Noticed yesterday that, printed just below the date and time, a grocery store receipt said “HELLO, MY NAME IS LANE #1”.

I don't recall who the checker was, but I suspect he or she was too old to have been given that name by his or her parents.

One way to start your week

You could listen to Casey “American Top 40” Kasem go ape during a radio show production session a number of years ago.

There are some F bombs and it's not really appropriate for an open-plan workplace, so I'm not going to post a link.

But all you have to do is search “Casey Kasem loses it.”

Then hope that your week gets off to a start that doesn't invite a similar tantrum.

Or you could just focus on the fact that no one will be asking you about your pieces of flair.

Earworm warning

This song can really get stuck in your head.

Ms. Lauper's fashion-victim look might seem a bit silly to us now. But there was nothing wrong with “Time After Time,” the No. 1 song on this date in 1984.

Was it possible to dance to this?

The No. 1 song on this date in 1959.

How many WSU families…

…have dogs traditionally associated with the University of Washington?

Wedding presents

Florence Young has two sets of drinking glasses that have remained intact for 45 years.

So would it be fair to assume that her mentioning this all but guarantees that she'll break one of the glasses in the next few days?

“We are still using a potato peeler given to me at a wedding shower nearly 64 years ago,” wrote Jennie Groenig.

Holly Schoenberger still has an assortment of the gifts received 29 years ago. But not everything.

“We received a total of four cheese boards for wedding gifts, which we promptly re-gifted.”

Edie Clark celebrated her 51st anniversary this week. Among the presents she still has is a cast iron skillet that she continues to use.

Jay Dudley and his bride were given a crock pot when they got married in 1971.

The couple divorced in 1976. And Jay remarried in 1978.

His second wife died and then he remarried his first wife, which also reunited him with the crock pot.

For Helen Ray, it has been 59 years. But she still has most of her wedding gifts and remembers from whom they came.

Fifty years after getting married, Arline McKay still has many of her presents. They remind her of those who gave them to her. Many of those people are gone. “They bring back fond memories.”

Harvey Lochhead and his wife still use the bathroom scale they received as a wedding gift 60 years ago.

Dianne Cook lost virtually all her wedding presents when the moving van carrying family possessions from California to the East Coast was hijacked. “Nothing was ever recovered.”

And Isabelle Green shared this.

“Married in July of 1956, we are still using the all-steel adjustable height ironing board, a wooden pepper mill/salt shaker set, a Sunbeam hand electric mixer and cast iron fryng pan received as wedding gifts. The mixer came from my brother, the others unknown but certainly appreciated all these years.” 

On this weekend 40 years ago

The incomparable Secretariat lifts stunned spectators out of their seats.

“He's moving like a tremendous machine.” 

Watching Spokane TV news

A channel-hopping Slice correspondent said he gets a kick out of it when at least two Spokane TV news shows have the same story and each claims it is an exclusive. 

On this date at Expo 74

Yes, I said I was going to cease and desist all Expo references. But it seems I cannot help myself.

Winners and those learning about life

It's end of the school year awards season.

Can you remember how you felt when you did not win an award you thought you deserved?

Did the experience help you mature and grow as a person or are you still bitter?

How about when it was your child who got slighted?

Just wondering

When you call up a website for a Spokane area business and notice a picture of a smiling, hyperdiverse group of people, how often do you find yourself thinking “These are not actual employees or customers — this is a stock photo of some models who probably live in Los Angeles”? 

How to remind people of your age

At least once a day, refer to a couple of friends or co-workers as “moose and squirrel.”

It’s wrong to tell little kids…

That the reason we are experiencing more and more daylight is that the Earth has wobbled out of its orbit and we are hurtling out of control toward the sun.

A neighbor, the father of a friend of mine, shared this theory with a group of my peers back when I was a kid. Later I realized that he had simply borrowed the storyline of a “Twilight Zone” episode called “The Midnight Sun.”

Of course, in that show, it turned out that the vision of crashing into the sun was just a feverish woman's dream. In reality, our planet was rapidly moving farther and farther away from the sun. Which also spelled doom.

Which way would you rather go?

Name that sitcom

In what 1966 TV show did baseball hall of famer Willie Mays have a cameo — playing in a scene with an actress who would a number of years later portray a troubled Spokane mother?

Your ice cream truck favorite?

You know, back in the 20th century.

I used to get push-ups, at least some of the time.

This probably isn’t your R.O. favorite

But it was the No. 1 song on this date in 1961.

Bruce Springsteen used to tell a story about being a kid and listening to Roy Orbison songs late at night on the transistor radio. The experience made him leery of ever falling in love, he said. 

A second grader explains it all

Tomorrow in Friday's Slice column.

When someone is overdoing fragrance

Is there a tactful way to note that the person might want to use less perfume or cologne?

Or is being blunt yet cheerful really the only way to go?

Naming pets after the Stooges

This would be my order of preference. Your mileage may vary.

1. Curly.

2. Shemp.

3. Larry.

4. Moe.

5. Curly Joe.

6. Bon Jovi.

One said “Lord have mercy”

Have heard from a couple of readers who admire Kathy Plonka's photo dominating the front page of today's S-R.

They don't seem to give a rip about the competition in question. But both expressed enthusiasm for the young lady featured in the picture.

Did I mention that both readers are men? 

Guys, let’s all try to say this today

Maybe just once. In response to a “Why did you…?” question, perhaps.

Or maybe out of the blue as a confident declaration of your own specialness. 

Ladies and gentlemen, the No. 1 song on this date in 1977.


“Who are you?”

“I'm your boogie man.”

June 6, 1944

Which led to…

Which eventually led to…

Everybody in Spokane area has one

So who is your favorite Montanan?

You be the copy editor

Please rewrite this headline so it fits on two lines.

I recommend checking out that website.

Rate your cannonball

A) I practically empty the pool. B) Don't make much of a spash. C) It's sort of like when a shell from the Bismarck found HMS Hood's magazine. D) Everyone within a quarter-mile radius gets wet. E) It's a two-stage KA-POW. F) I don't do cannonballs. G) Other.

If you hope to get anything done today

Don't start doing online searches about B 52 crashes. There have been quite a few over the years. You can spend a nice little chunk of time reading about things that went seriously wrong.

I had intended to look up details about just one that happened near where my family lived when I was about 4. But I sort of got caught up in the chronicling of aircraft disasters, including several that happened near Spokane.

Re: Ads appearing beside Slice Blog

Just for the record, I am as astonished by some of them as anyone.

Apparently our new advertising-acceptance standard could be summarized thusly: “If you give us money, we're good to go.”  

True or false

This is how onlookers react at meetings of the Spokane City Council.

One reader’s suggestion

Dirk Stratton had an idea about what I could have said to the little boy across the street who asked me if I was a stranger.

“Yes, I am a stranger, because are we not all strangers to one another? Can anyone honestly say, and even more so, honestly believe that any of us can hope to fathom the mysteries that dwell beneath the facile masks all humans wear to fend off the terror of existence? And are we not, in the end, strangers to our very selves? Do not our own thoughts, feelings, and actions remain so incomprehensible as to render Socrates' famous dictum 'Know thyself' a sad charade, a pitiful flag we wave in a futile attempt to pretend that insight is possible, that understanding is achievable, that life makes sense, despite the fact that the only evidence we have that something we call 'the self' even exists is flimsy, contradictory, ineffable, lost? So, yes, I am a stranger, and might I ask in return, one stranger to another, Who might you be?”

Check out a few other suggestions in Thursday's Slice. 

The Wednesday Slice question

Are you old enough to remember when people irrationally experienced trepidation about swimming in lakes — decidedly not shark-infested bodies of water — because of the movie “Jaws”?  

Here’s one way to try to sell sneakers

The security at this airport seems a bit lax. But things were different in 1965.

No. 1 song on this date in 1973

The way I see it, you had three choices here. You could dismiss this as not being up to Beatles standards. You could embrace it because a former Beatle recorded it. Or you could evaluate lyrics such as “My love does it good to me” on their own merits.

Celebrate “Risky Business” turning 30

Well, it does this summer anyway.

In recognition of that, let's localize one of the film's signature lines. See which of these sounds best.

“Eastern could use a guy like Joel.”

“WSU could use a guy like Joel.”

“Gonzaga could use a guy like Joel.”

“U of I could use a guy like Joel.”

“SFCC could use a guy like Joel.”

“Whitworth could use a guy like Joel.”

“U Dub could use a guy like Joel.”

“Dick's could use a guy like Joel.”

Ground control to Major Liam

Some Spokane kindergarten kids were asked what they want to be when they grow up.

One boy said “astronaut.”

Which makes you wonder about his plan. What's your guess?

A) He is counting on the U.S. getting back into space exploration. B) He soon will be transferring to a school in China. C) He intends to build his own rocket in his backyard. D) He thought that was synonymous with “proctologist.” E) By the time he is 16, he will be thinking more along the lines of a position in the service industry. F) Other.     

Something many here don’t understand

“Ivy League” refers to a specific set of colleges: Harvard, Yale, Penn, Princeton, Columbia, Cornell, Brown and Dartmouth.

More than a few people here use that expression to describe virtually any elite Eastern college.

It's not a big deal, of course. But wrong is wrong.

What’s your policy on tattoos?

A) I think they are insane. B) I have one. C) I have several. D) My entire neck is covered with them. E) I did many dumb things when I was young. But thank heaven this hadn't become mainstream before I turned into a sour old grump. F) When I learned that my daughter had one just above her backside I realized that I was a failure as a parent. G) Other.

Is it harder to be a school teacher today?

If I can stipulate that I have no intention of bashing teachers of the past, I would say the answer is “Yes.”

The spectrum of students' backgrounds and experiences is so broad now.

Kids have always been individuals, of course. But I have to guess that, in many places, there used to be more similarity in children's home lives. 

Which do you say?

“Kindergarten” or “kindergarden”?

Why don’t all Spokane area businesses have bike racks?

What would be the downside?

I guess if you imagine bike riders tend to be shoplifters, you wouldn't want to have one. But I have not seen any reliable stats suggesting that to be the case.

A desire to discourage young people from hanging out near your establishment might be another rationale. But again, that seems iffy. What about adult cyclists with cash in their wallets?

Is it the expense? The space it takes?

Yes, that is former Talking Heads front man David Byrne with a rack he designed.

Just wondering

What bumper sticker do you really not want to see on a vehicle owned by your new neighbor? 

This struck me as funny

Someone on Twitter sends out tweets about one theme and one theme only.

An ad from a different century

I posted this a couple of years ago. It's one of my favorites. Can you find “Spokane” in the small type?

Apparently depicting a different kind of diversity in ads wasn't an imperative at this time.

No. 1 song on this date in 1968

According to something I just read, the hit-single version is a bit different from what is heard on the soundtrack of “The Graduate.”

We could compete to see who has seen that movie the greatest number of times but, because of an amazing stretch in my teens, I would win.

I also like the Lemonheads' version.

Would they let you on an STA bus…

…wearing this helmet?

This date in Slice history (1997)

Today's Slice question: What's the one thing that should never be brought along on a camping trip?

One blogger and his troll — from OTM

Thought this was interesting. Though, it strikes me that the blogger's grasp of psychology is a bit suspect.

A No. 1 song that deserved the honor

This topped the charts on this date in 1967.

This date in Slice history (1996)

This happened years ago. But it remains a family favorite.

Hope, Idaho's Darlene Ponack was lifting her son into a barber chair when the boy was asked “Which side does your mother part your hair?”

The lad thought about it, then answered: “The side toward the bathtub.”

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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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