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The Slice

Archive for May 2013

If you get to work and then realize…

…that your shirt is missing the top button, is this how it makes you feel?

I don’t think it can be done

I've tried rewriting the lyrics of Foreigner's “Juke Box Hero” to make it “Hoopfest Hero,” but the 1981 song stubbornly refuses to play along.

Feel free to try it yourself. Good luck coping with all the rain imagery. Not to mention finding a rhyme substitute for “guitar.”  

True or false

There is an Expo '74 scene in this movie.

Time management — the early years

Of course, I suspect going this route left you out of the loop when it came to discussions of the great novel's famous use of a certain word.

Which is the best salute?








“Do I need a policy on gay Boy Scouts?”

Feel free to do better.

Street life in downtown Spokane

I was riding my bike home Thursday afternoon when I stopped in the southbound lane at the interminable traffic light at Jefferson and 2nd.

I noticed a man walking on the sidewalk on the other side of Jefferson. He looked like “The most interesting man in the world” of beer commercial fame. I'm not kidding. The resemblance was remarkable.

So, as cheerfully as I could manage, I yelled over to him, noting his uncanny appearance. The “most interesting man” is always depicted in the most amusingly flattering way, so I reasoned that there was no chance this stranger could take offense.

But he either didn't hear or simply did not wish to acknowledge me. Maybe he just heard “RAAAR RAARRH RARRHH BEER RARRH.”

Another bike rider appeared. I told him what had just transpired. He chuckled and guessed the man had thought “Crazy cyclist.”

I agreed and allowed that maybe he would have been right.

Stay crazy, my friends.

Was Dr. Zaius a Ph.D or an M.D.?

If his doctorate was from the academic realm of arts and letters, was he a one-ape cautionary tale about tenure and arrogance?

If he was a medical doctor, was he, at best, an underachiever when it came to listening?

On second thought, maybe he was a veterinarian. 

Marilyn Monroe in potato sack dress

Yes, I know you have seen this before. But it never hurts to review. There might be a quiz.

Just imagine.

Question 34: Is there an old  photo in which “IDAHO” appears to be resting on an A-list movie star's breasts?

Yes, you can answer. Yes, there is. 

Comics page challenge

In today's comics, see if you can find guys in two different strips wearing virtually identical shirts.

Then, once you have identified them, come up with a theory explaining it.

Coincidence? I think not.

The person or computer program at the syndicate who inks the colors is bored? Balderdash.

This has conspiracy written all over it. 

Talking the talk

There are plenty of older workers who are talkative at the office.

Some of them never seem to shut up. And some young people hardly say a word.

But it has struck me over the years that the general trend is for younger employees to be more chatty than the folks who have been on the job for decades. And you certainly can't blame them.These young people are excited to be out in the grown-up world of work. They have energy.

Their volubility is completely understandable. Besides, who wants to work in a silent tomb? 

But once you reach a certain age, it is possible to think back on the start of your own career and realize your older colleagues back in the day probably had to listen to their share of twentysomething jabbering. It would be nice to be able to go back and apologize. “Thanks for putting up with me and my tendency to express every thought back when I was a rookie.”

Sadly, many of those who deserve to hear that are already gone.   

Doin’ it all for Jan Brady

The Slice has been inviting readers to play this game for many years.

How do you do it? It's simple.

Just think of songs that include the phrase “my baby” and replace those words with “Jan Brady.”

You know, “Jan Brady does the hanky panky.”

Et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.

What would you pay to not have to see…

…a Bon Jovi concert?

I'll open the bidding at $100. And, if pressed, I might be willing to pay more.

If Beatrix Potter had lived in Spokane

Would there have been whispers behind her back about her being childless?

Nether regions

An early-rising reader noted the Slice column item today in which a local woman said she always took pride in the reference to “northern girls” in this song.

My correspondent, who grew up in the South and is quite familiar with this Beach Boys classic, said it was somewhat amusing to be from a region described in “California Girls” as “down there.”

Perhaps you recall the lyric: “And the southern girls, with the way they talk, they knock me out when I'm down there.”

In other contexts, that expression can…well, I guess I don't need to paint you a picture.

Would anyone get the reference?

If you said, “She's a drag…a well known drag,” would those in your circle recognize the origin of that line?

Agree or disagree

An opinion piece in The New York Times the other day argued that no U.S. military bases should be named after Confederate generals. (Several are.) What do you think?

Admiring another Paul Turner’s truck

My friend Joel, who lives up near Colville, sent these photos taken at a recent Chewelah car show.

He said he wondered for a moment if I had a secret life as an auto restorer. (See second photo.)

I told him that if this was my truck, it would not be a secret. I would never stop talking about it.

Well done, Paul.

How would you do batting against her?

Or against any decent female softball pitcher?

You're thinking you would rocket a screamer down the third-base line, but I'm guessing you would pop up.

This date in Slice history (1995)

Sigrid Carlson's skunk story: “We lived in Minnesota during the Depression, renting a big farm house for $7 a month. We were so poor that any way we could earn a dollar or two sure helped. My husband, Harold, and his friend, Otto, went trapping for mink, skunks, etc. A skunk hide paid three or four dollars and that went a long way in the '30s and early '40s.

“It was winter and way below zero. When they brought home the skunks, they were frozen solid on the running board of the car. Harold brought them into the LIVING ROOM to thaw them out so he could skin them. I holed up in the kitchen, stuffing the key hole with rags. After airing out the house for hours, I said 'I don't care if we starve to death, no more skunks in the house!'”

“I ain’t no senator’s son”

Can you name the song in which that line can be heard?

Ever see a game here?

I saw one. It was a meaningless Houston vs. Pittsburgh yawner. The thing I remember is how I tended to lose track of fly balls. They just seemed to disappear because the ceiling was about the color of a baseball.

Perhaps you have read that the Astrodome's future is very much in doubt.    

Do you remember Dave Draper?

Perhaps you would if, when you were a kid, you had an older brother who had stacks of bodybuilding magazines.

The Wednesday Slice question

What evidence do you have that there are witches in Spokane?

When there are way too many interns

There is usually a simple explanation.

Either the business is looking for cheap summer labor.

Or the boss, having noticed that most of the full-time employees have grown weary of his act, invites a slew of fresh-faced kids to sit at his feet and adore him.

The No. 1 song on this date in 1965

The album version of this song was pretty lackluster. But the reproduced single was one of the best from their mid-'60s period.  

Favorite Family Stories Department

Back in the 1950s, Joan Williams' father took her two older brothers on what he called a “nature drive.”

The boys were about 6 and 7 at the time. And the backroads route was out in the country north of Davenport.

They soon encountered wildlife of a sort.

“They came around a bend in the road to find a parked car partly blocking the road and there, right out in the open, was a couple engaged in the birds and the bees on a blanket — in plain sight.”

The boys had plenty of questions.

“For years later, my folks would laugh whenever someone referred to a nature walk.”   

Dirk Stratton’s SR drinking game

“Whenever a Letter to the Editor contains an accusation that The Spokesman-Review is too liberal in its reporting or editorializing, take a drink.

“Whenever a Letter to the Editor contains an accusation that The Spokesman-Review is too conservative in its reporting or editorializing, take a drink.

“Whenever the Letters to the Editor has a letter accusing The Spokesman-Review of being too conservative AND a letter accusing The Spokesman-Review of being too liberal on the same day, drain the bottle, pot, pitcher of whatever you're drinking. If the two letters in question are right next to each other, this draining must be done in one long, uninterrupted chug.”  

Are you wedded to your routines?

Take this one question quiz and find out.

Does having garbage pickup on a different day totally throw you off for the whole week?

He got the right continent anyway

Sometimes, from a distance, out-of-state license plates can fool you.

Yesterday, I overheard a man ask a stranger if he was from Canada.

“No,” he answered. “Texas.” 

One personal weekend highlight

I was unloading some groceries from the back of the car when I noticed two preschool children sitting on the front porch across the street.

One said hello.

I returned the greeting and waved.

“Are you a stranger?” one of them called out.

“Not really,” I said. “I'm your neighbor.”

Did you watch any of the marathon?

Your reaction? 

This date in Slice history (2000)

Today's Slice question: What one piece of advice would you offer graduating high school seniors?

This date in Slice history (1995)

Today's Slice question: What is the local record for getting the most summers out of one swimsuit?

This artist must have known about dogs

As you can see, this issue of The Saturday Evening Post came out in December.

But every time I see this cover while doing online searches, I think of Memorial Day.  

“Hi, Bob”

Reader challenge: Invent a drinking game to be played while reading The Spokesman-Review or perusing

The beverages in question need not be alcoholic.

I'll get us started.

Every time The Slice uses “Let's move on,” take a sip.

Every time The Slice poses a question that you strongly suspect was used in 1992, down your glass.   

This date in Slice history (1997)

Let's try to think of this in terms of baseball.

Think of Memorial Day as first base. Now think of summer as second base.

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

Agree or disagree

Casual Friday was always redundant in Spokane.

Just wondering

Are there movies you dislike even though you have never seen them?

What exactly is it that they have there?

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

Why no one says “up South”

1. Because of the orientation of traditional maps, we're used to thinking of “up” as north.

2. How would this sound? (To the tune of “North to Alaska.”)

“South, to the South Hill

“Goin' South, the rush is on

“Waaaay up South…” 

50 years ago tonight on “Twilight Zone”

An episode called “The Bard” first aired on May 23, 1963.

A hack TV writer uses a magic spell to conjure up Shakespeare in the hope that the storied Englishman will help him punch up some lackluster scripts.

You might recall Burt Reynolds playing a poor man's Marlon Brando.

Remember all the fashion victims?

This was the No. 1 song on this date in 1983.

When did you realize this was fake?

A) When I was about 4. B) I just thought the referees were a bit on the ineffectual side. C) We were not allowed to have this on the TV in my house. D) I wanted to name our dog Bobo Brazil. E) I bought the wrestling until I was about 9. Before that, it was the ringside fans I couldn't believe. F) Other.

Too late to call time-out

Parents of 2013 high school graduates must be shaking their heads and thinking this was just yesterday.

You could get there from here

Do you remember when you could catch a train at a reasonable hour?

It’s not a compliment

If, after you get off the phone with someone with whom you are romantically involved, one of your co-workers addresses you as “Schmoopy.”

40 days and 40 nights

If you set a goal and start working toward it on Sunday, the day before Memorial Day, you will have 40 days to achieve it by the 4th of July.

Good luck.

This date in Slice history (1997)

Slice answers: Our question about “creative” spellings of standard-sounding first names prompted strong reactions. Most readers weighing in were vehemently opposed to unusual spellings.

We heard plenty of examples. But we have no desire to cause hard feelings within families or in workplaces. So we'll just pass along an idea from a reader named Sylvia.

She thinks first names ought to be recycled from the obituaries. That way, classic monikers such as Hazel or Herman would stay in circulation and not get totally supplanted by, say, Ashley and Justin.

Just wondering

No need to mention any names.

But can you think of a local business whose product or service simply does not impress you but about which you have mixed feelings because you like at least some of the people working there?

Are you a Jeffrey Tambor fan?

Which of his roles was your favorite?


Shawn Vestal censored

Well, OK. Not really.

But the SR columnist and author recently set up a web site to deal with the literary side of his multi-faceted life.

Apparently, though, it cannot be accessed from SR computers, which seem to regard it as suspicious.

Now I have not seen the site. For all I know, Shawn has pictures of naked ninth grade girls on it. Though I doubt it.

I suspect it is some sort of technical glitch. Maybe our computer system has something against people who have lived in both Idaho and Montana, as Shawn has. 

But I have a question. It's about a word often used incorrectly.

Does the situation with Shawn's author/publishing site being out of reach to those at his workplace constitute irony?

Which way is your thumb pointing?

I'm a Christopher Guest fan. And I'm not giving up on “Family Tree” just yet.

But boy, I don't know. Maybe his humor is not suited to half-hour segments.

Minor league baseball logo of the day

The Richmond Flying Squirrels.

They used to be the…

Does any reference to flying squirrels make you want to say, “Hey Rock, watch me pull a rabbit out of my hat”?

OK, please say Rocky's line.

A social theory

The people who carry plastic bags but don't really pick up after their dogs are the same ones who drive around in vehicles adorned with kayak carriers or bike racks but never actually engage in outdoor recreation. 

Morrison romance never had a chance

One of my colleagues confided that she had a thing about Jim Morrison when she was young.

This had come up in a conversation prompted by the passing of his Doors bandmate Ray Manzarek.

Alas, she never got together with the charismatic singer. She was left to ponder what might have been.

What kept them apart?

1. Geography. (My colleague grew up in the East, while California was Morrison's base of operations.)

2. Other people. (Morrison was involved with a variety of other women.)

3. Substance abuse. (Morrison had a drug problem.)

4. Age. (My colleague was significantly younger than the often shirtless singer.)

5. Timing. (Morrison died when my colleague was 3.)

6. Cruel fate. (Sometimes you can stare and stare at an album cover — a certain Carly SImon record comes to mind — and, no matter how hard you wish, your fantasies fail to come true. Darn it all.)

7. Justice. (My colleague would never say this, but she's too good for the Lizard King.)  

The Wednesday Slice question

A cookbook inspired by the way your family actually eats would be called what?

No. 1 song on this date in 1966

If you know only the Michael Bolton version, I'll just assume you are young and fell in with some bad company. 

This date in Slice history (1999)

Warm-up question: Why is it that people who have traveled the least tend to have the loudest know-it-all opinions about other parts of the country?

Downtown Spokane on a Tuesday afternoon in May

So I'm walking back to the paper from Auntie's.

Up ahead, maybe a block away, I see a woman fall to the sidewalk. She is right in front of what used to be the Washington Mutual building on the south side of Main. What is it now, the Chase building?

Before I can even begin to speculate, a man who had been walking nearby scurries to check on her.

By the time I get closer, a few facts become apparent. The woman looks to be in her 40s or 50s. She had been trying to maneuver several cases of water bottles stacked on a two-wheeler. And she seems to be OK.

After making sure she was all right and helping her up, the man who checked on her starts heading my way.

“Well done,” I say as we pass.

He thanks me and smiles.

As often happens to me, I know his face but can't place him.

“Forget about it,” I imagine someone saying, “Chinatown” style. “It's Spokane.” 

Where were you when these were hits?

Can't read them? OK, I'll mark you down for “Was stoned most of the time.”

Are there still families in which …

… children are repeatedly advised to gird their loins?

Finding fecal matter in swimming pools

Did you see that story in the Today section?

Did it surprise you in the least? Of course, not.

What would have been amazing is if they hadn't found it in public pools.

No one else will ask you this today

When you first heard of the Civil War era underground railroad, did you think it was some sort of big subway system?

Minnesota birth patterns explained

A woman I know casually was telling me about her plans to retire in a few months.

I asked her if she had picked an exact last day. She said she hoped her birthday, Sept. 4, would be her final day at work.

I told her that was my late father's birthday. She then volunteered that a couple of siblings and others in her extended family also had birthdays in September, the ninth month.

“It gets cold in Minnesota,” she said.

No. 1 song on this date in 1972

“I'd be in trouble if you left me now.”

Coming in Tuesday’s Slice

Yes, there is a reference to this. But there is no way on God's green Earth you could guess the context.

Co-workers fighting with spouses on phone

When was the heyday?

Certainly technology has made arguments of that nature less of a spectator sport.

I'll say that peaked in 1987.

What to wear in 1974

Perhaps you saw young women similarly attired at the world's fair.

Or, God help us all, you might have seen a guy dressed like this.

Recalling volcanic wedding anniversary

Slice reader Mike Storms sent a note on Saturday.

“Today is our 39th anniversary. We'll shortly be heading out to a fine dinner.

“We had a blast on our sixth anniversary. I remember it well. The sky got dark and I hurried to finish mowing the lawn before the storm. The clouds looked very strange, lumpy on the bottom and I could see the sun through them. I came in and found that St. Helens blew.

“Our babysitter cancelled out. I put on my cowboy hat and hoofed it to Rosauers to get a bottle of champagne. I had to undress in the garage because I was covered with ash.”

Don’t you love it when…

…the catcher yanks off his or her mask and drops it before chasing a foul pop-up (that goes into the stands) and the batter picks it up and hands it to him upon his return to home plate.

Happens all the time.

Still, I never get tired of seeing it.

Did you invent graphical user interface?

Or perhaps the microprocessor?

Probably not.

Still, you might occasionally be tempted to make fun of outmoded technology. Resist that impulse, if you can.

Unless you are a visionary engineer or gifted industrial designer, you probably couldn't have come up with the idea for devices now considered obsolete.

But perhaps I should just speak for myself. So I will.

I could not build a linotype machine to save my life. 

Meatloaf Monday

Is it possible to use too much onion?

Does this song have anything to do with meal planning?

Would people embrace this idea in Spokane?

Headline phrase of the week

“Matrimonial-industrial complex” — The Washington Post

JoJo left his home in what city?

This was No.1 on this date in 1969.

And speaking of JoJo's former hometown. I lived there in the early 1980s. And I don't recall people being obsessed about this admittedly cool bit of trivia. Maybe they were when the song first came out. Or maybe trivia didn't really become a big thing until later.

Too bad “Washington” doesn't have four syllables. Perhaps the lads could have had JoJo flee the Inland Northwest. Though just imagine the lingering horror if they had mispronounced the name of a certain city.

The Lilac Garden at Lake Winnipegosis

If you send a text including the word “Manito,” your phone might turn it into “Manitoba.”

I might have mentioned this before. But it always amuses me.

“We'll pick you up at noon and head over to Manitoba.”

This date in Slice history (1995)

Today's Slice question: Why will you still be here 10 years from now?

America’s least exciting college town?

See Saturday's Slice column.

Actually, in the time-honored spirit of promo-writing, that's a bit misleading. There won't be a rip-roaring discussion of whether or not the answer is “Yes.”

It's just a question. But you can answer it, and then we can have a rip-roaring discussion in a subsequent column. 

There’s a Spokane reference in this

But instead of telling you about it, I'll just suggest you check out this fun volume and find it for yourself.

A friend passed along his copy, to show me the Spokane mention. And I have to admit that after spending a few minutes with this book, I'm going to be reluctant to give it back.

Re: When Rhoda called Mary “Kid”

Did you get a kick out of that?

Did you imitate that?

Are you one of the people who still address certain friends and colleagues that way?

Don’t say no one gave you a heads-up

Got a note from Wayne Pomerleau, a man who knows his movie Westerns.

But this was about another subject.

“Paul, this is my annual lilac alert, which may be of interest to flower lovers among your Slice readers. The blooms in the Lilac Garden at Manito Park are just about at their peak right now and crying out for admirers.”

Two questions

Ever actually heard singing in a barbershop?

What would a hair salon quartet sound like?

1977 Time cover: “The Pacific Northwest”

I might have used this before. But it always cracks me up. I'm convinced the cover designer had to be high.

This is from 1977, so that seems entirely possible.

Hey, kids! Do you recognize this?

It's something that started on May 17, 1973 and went on for weeks. It was televised.

What was your experience with these?

In the TV commercials, the ball always came straight back to the kid doing the throwing. In reality, the ball often went springing back at all sorts of wild angles. Sometimes it seemed that pitching to an actual batter would have produced more predictable results. 

Some people will mock you if you say…

…that you like this stuff. It doesn't taste enough like roofing tar to suit beer snobs.

Chances are you will survive being judged.

This date in Slice history (1997)

Today's Slice question: How do you feel about parents giving their newborns standard-sounding first names but then getting “creative” when it comes to spelling those names?

“Another George Clooney movie?”

When your spouse or significant other's movie picks don't seem all that random.

In tomorrow's Slice column.

Baby boomer men’s shocking secret

If they were about 13, baby boomer boys who watched “I Dream of Jeannie” knew exactly what their first wish would be.

How did you select your spokes fodder?

A) Duplicates. B) Cards of guys on teams you hated. C) Checklists, managers and other oddball cards. D) Cards that already had been defaced in one way or another. E) Cards that had a chemically gum imprint on the photo of the player. F) Washington Senators. G) Other.

He managed the Spokane Indians in 1959

Bragan was a teammate of Jackie Robinson's. Not willingly, at first. But the Alabama native's views evolved.

Which just goes to show you that people can change.

What is the lesson here?

A) Girls are shallow. B) Mr. Sunglasses is a dork. C) Archie is a dork. D) Jughead isn't even listening. E) Get yourself a 'Vet. F) Front license plates are not required in Riverdale. G) What's with that pink house in the background? H) Other.

Hilarious caving on salary demands

I was thinking about the situation job candidates find themselves in, and so naturally Albert Brooks came to mind.

As a film director and actor, he has depicted the moment of a job offer on a couple of occasions.

First, in “Lost In America,” he plays a guy at an advertising agency who loses it when he is offered a position he feels is beneath him.

And then, in “Defending Your Life,” a flashback shows him talking tough the night before he is offered a job and then totally capitulating on all his demands in the actual moment the next day.

I'm sure many of us wish we had a do-over when it comes to accepting a salary package. But hey, you think “Look, I really want this job…so I'll accept this offer and then renegotiate after I have shown them how valuable I am.”

How did that go for you?

I do not want this to sound unkind

But who would have worn one of these?

The risk when you care about sports

Do you know the context of this classic “Peanuts” strip?

If you don't, you could ask my colleague over at Huckleberries Online. I'm betting he knows.

No. 1 song on this date in 1985

For some, this will always be permanently welded to “The Breakfast Club.”

This date in “Twilight Zone” history

A cautionary tale called “The Brain Center at Whipple's” first aired on this date in 1964. Richard “Mel Coulee” Deacon stars as a manager gleefully replacing his human workforce with machines.

You'll never guess what happens to him at the end. Well, maybe you will.

Do you observe area code holidays?

You know, February 8th or May 9th.

OK, having to insert the zero makes those less perfect for this than area codes such as 218 in Minnesota. But hey, I did not try to trick you into reading this by shouting “Breaking News!” and then having you discover that it's just a garage fire.

Good grades are fine, but…

There are those of us who believe that the most reliable predictor of future success is a kid being on the cross country team. 

Ever had to have “The talk” with intern

You know, about what is or isn't appropriate attire for the workplace.

Nicest person in the Inland Northwest

I once had an English teacher who loathed the word “nice.”

He thought it was a nothing adjective. Its blandness offended him.

But when The Slice column asked who was the nicest person around here, readers did not nominate people who lack spark. They touted individuals whose personalities are shaped in part by a desire to help others make it through the day.

You'll find one such person in Thursday's column.

Another great graduation speaker

The one and only Omar Little of “The Wire.”

Once again, he doesn't really exist. In fact, the character died. Still, Omar has some important things to say to today's young people.

“A man's gotta have a code.”

Here’s the perfect graduation speaker

Unfortunately,  Will McAvoy, the thinking man's news anchor, is just a character on an HBO show.

Too bad. In my opinion, an expanded replay of his Season 1/Episode 1 opening rant would be a good thing for graduates to hear.

This snippet isn't suitable for all ears.

A question about Boo Radley’s

A colleague wondered if anyone going in there to acquire a gift ever emerges without having mostly bought stuff for themselves.

Did you have these as a kid?

You know how it is. Some pint-sized cow poke comes into town and gets liquored up on red eye. A grizzled 6-year-old lawman has to take him into custody. Which is all well and good until the littlest cowboy gets cuffed and is led to believe that — “Oh, no!” — they won't come off.

There might not be crying in baseball. But detaining a freaked-out suspect with toy handcuffs was another matter.

I wonder if any kids ever played “The Defiant Ones.”

Join me in hating this wedding dress

I was looking for photos of the Columbia Gorge Hotel. We stayed there ages ago. Then a few years back I heard it had closed. But last month I met a couple from The Dalles and they said it was up and running again. Glad to hear it.

Anyway, in the course of my search, I came across the photo above.

Not sure what the actual name of this dress is, but I might suggest they call it the Mount Me.

Good grief.

Bicycle marketing in a different century

Can you name the movie he was in with Jim Brown?

This date in Slice history (1995)

Today's Slice question: What would archaeologists discover if they made your couch the site of a dig?

You be the child psychologist

What would you say about a kid who made models of airplanes flown by people who tried to do in that kid's father just 20 years before?

A) There really isn't a connection between the two. B) Sometimes a model is just a model. C) Boys in that era were not big on building peace models. D) It would be different if the kid did not also glue together plenty of American four-engine bombers. E)  As long as the kid was not goose-stepping around and singing “Springtime for Hitler.” F) If it did not bother his father, it shouldn't bother anyone else. G) Other.

Have felines perfected this technology?

How else would you explain your neighbor's cat being able to get in your house without you noticing?

Regard yourself as a minor leaguer?

There is not necessarily a 100 percent direct correlation between the size of a metropolitan area's population and the abilities and talents of its residents.

Still, one occasionally hears people in Spokane dismiss certain fellow residents as “minor league,” for one reason or another. Apparently this critique is based on a particular assessment of someone's limitations or shortcomings. Because if being “minor league” were simply a matter of living in a modestly sized city, wouldn't that mean everyone here qualifies for that disparaging label?

So let's sort it out. Let's go ahead and identify who around here is or isn't minor league.

You make the call.

A) Medical specialists. B) Politicians. C) TV anchors. D) Newspaper columnists. E) Police officers. F) Plumbers. G) Internet trolls. H) Chefs. I) Musicians. J) College professors. K) School administrators and conspiracy theorists. L) Retail clerks. M) Grocery store managers. N) Spokesmodels. O) Engineers. P) Architects. Q) Grant writers. R) Bankers, S) Union leaders. T) Arts critics. U) Social service volunteers. V) Hair stylists. W) Accountants. X) Website managers. Y) Advertising executives. Z) Other.    

A day for big beginnings

We're told that Lewis and Clark started their journey on this date in 1804.

So, as a sort of tribute, what can you begin today?

You want me to go first? OK. Here goes. Starting today, I am going to drink more water.

Try to top that, if you dare.

Failing to understand the headline

Saw some reference yesterday to Jewel meeting with state and federal officials in Boise.

Big deal, I thought. Everyone is entitled to an opinion, but she's just a singer.

Of course, the story actually referred to the new secretary of the Interior, Sally Jewell.

One of life’s early disappointments

In terms of quality, it turned out that you pretty much got what you paid for here.

You know you are a Spokane native if…

You take for granted the fact that you can hold open your front door for a moment after dark without worrying that your home is instantly going to be invaded by 63,000 flying insects attracted by your porch light.

No. 1 song on this date in 1967

“On a Sunday afternoon.”

What do you suppose she’s thinking?

Perhaps it would help to imagine him singing, “I gave my love a cherry that had no stone…”

Canada 101, Lesson 54

Toronto is Canada's New York City. The above photo notes the last time the Toronto Maple Leafs won the National Hockey League championship — in the final season of the league's six-team era. This fact messes with the minds of many Canadians.

Other teams based in Canada have won the Stanley Cup since then. Quite a few times, in fact. But Toronto being shut out makes some of our friends up north stare out across the tundra and mutter about cruel fate.

Imagine if the New York Yankees had not been good since LBJ was president.  

What were you doing in 1967?

Secretariat’s Preakness

It's easy now, 40 years later, to look back and think Secretariat was a lock for the Triple Crown.

But in the Preakness, the second and shortest of the three races, anything can happen. As they say.

Well, here's what actually did happen. And no, this is not some Hollywood depiction of a horse race where the equine star passes his rivals as if they are going in slow motion.

Something you don’t need to know

Ty Cobb owned Coca-Cola bottling plants in Idaho and Oregon.

Nice slide. Bad sportsmanship or admirable compete level?

You make the call.

Re: Food crumbs in your keyboard

Someone examining the crumbs in your computer keyboard would assume that…

A) You hold bulging fistfulls of crackers directly over your keyboard and then crunch them all up. B) You eat like a dinosaur. C) The specks o' sandwich particulate count where you have your computer is exceptionally high. D) Other.

Driving while being bitten

If you never saw 1964's “A Shot in the Dark,” this scene will not make much sense to you.

Most unlikely prep school speech ever

Can you identify the source of this address by a self-made industrialist to a gathering of students at an elite prep school?

“You guys have it real easy. I never had it like this where I grew up. But I send my kids here because the fact is you go to one of the best schools in the country: Rushmore. Now, for some of you it doesn't matter. You were born rich and you're going to stay rich. But here's my advice to the rest of you: Take dead aim on the rich boys. Get them in the crosshairs and take them down. Just remember, they can buy anything but they can't buy backbone. Don't let them forget it. Thank you.”

“It tastes like water”

Oh, wait. That's not it. The actual slogan was “It's the water.”

Annual invite to share streaking stories

You know what they say. Confession is good for the soul.

Oh, yeah. This was the No.1 song on this date in 1974.

Here’s an online search exercise for you

Can you find a postcard depicting a place where you had one of your first jobs?

This is a 1930s postcard showing a restaurant where I was a bus boy in the 1970s. Punched a clock. Got a glimpse of what actually goes on in the kitchen.  

What to give her

“The best Mother's Day present would be to give her your full sincere, undivided attention for the day. Some day it will no longer be possible.” — Gaylen and Mary Margaret Wood, Moscow

Do you understand bitcoins?

You know, digital currency.

I, for one, will not judge you if your answer is “Not really.”

“A Summer Place” degrees of separation

Was watching a few minutes of 1959's “A Summer Place” last night.

Maybe you would agree that it's one of those “so awful it's almost irresistible” offerings.

“Are you bad, Johnny? Have you been bad with girls?”

Plus, there's that theme music.

Anyway, the actor Richard Egan appeared on screen and I got to thinking. I have an older friend who lives next to Audubon Park. He appeared in a scene or two with Egan in a short-lived TV Western from 50 years ago called “Empire.”

I realized that meant I was only a step or two away from having a connection to “A Summer Place.”

Plus, I've been to Maine several times.

So how far removed from “A Summer Place” are you?

Or, if your name is Johnny and you would rather answer those questions that Sandra Dee put to Troy Donahue, be my guest.

A swell message for 12-year-old girls

“Don't die alone.”

Sheesh. As if kids didn't already have enough to worry about.

Yes, injections. Ach.

How would you look in jail mugshot?

A) Surprised. B) Faced. C) Innocent. D) Defiant. E) Defiant and stupid. F) Vexed. G) Scared. H) Impatient. I) Pre-Sodomized. J) Like you imagine that you look tough. K) Really, really sorry. L) Other.

Actors and their roles

If Matthew Modine hadn't played Louden Swain, maybe he could have played Bobby Orr.

How to start conversation with cyclist

1. Ever been doored?

2. Do you experience numbness in your most private areas?

3. How many bikes are there in your garage?

4. How many times have you had a bike stolen?

5. What most bugs you about certain other bicyclists?

Did you ever play this game?

Did you watch the show?

Where would you place Archie on the 2013 political spectrum?

Do you remember Oregon-born Sally Struthers in “Five Easy Pieces”?  

Drive Your Car to Work Week set for June

Not sure why it amuses me so to say that every year.

Maybe it's the far-fetched hope that some cycling-hating Crabby Appleton will see it and think, if only for a split second, “At last — reality!”

Of course, I can see being a non-cyclist and growing weary of references to Bike to Work Week. Especially when it is, as organizers refuse to admit, a Communist plot to mess up our precious bodily fluids and sap our purity of essence.

Speaking of “Dr. Strangelove,” some newsroom colleagues were talking last week about a report somewhere that at least some of the B-52 scenes had been filmed at Fairchild.

Anyone know anything about that?

Seems like I have looked into that a time or two but never found satisfying evidence of a local connection. Fact is, I sort of doubt that there really is an FAFB link to that movie. Wouldn't that be a famous bit of local trivia if it were true?

Annoying No. 1 song on this date (1977)

Perhaps the designer of this record sleeve was inspired by an upset tummy. 

How to call me a sexist idiot

While maintaining civility the whole time.

Coming in Friday's Slice.

Area pooch on today

Baffled about the dog's puppydom nickname, but am hoping there's some benign explanation. Don't want to believe it's just INW-style casual racism, because I really like this dog and don't want to think her owners are dim bulbs.

Local connection asserted

Got a phone message from a reader who claimed that this is the Spokane bridge abutment they're planning to tear down (see story in today's paper).

I'm pretty sure he offered this observation in a spirit of levity. If not, maybe I should call him back and use the Sydney Pollack line from “Tootise.”

Wasn't this a great album?

When you stayed home sick as a kid

Were you usually faking?

Were you allowed to watch TV?

What did you watch?

If you watched soap operas, how did it influence the way you viewed adults?

Asparagus pee

Which camp are you in?

1. Those who believe only a certain segment of the population produces urine with the distinctive odor.

2. Those who believe only a certain segment of the population is capable of detecting this smell.

3. Those who would prefer not to discuss this at all, thank you very much.

Just wondering

Ever listen to political talk radio coming from the opposite end of the spectrum from your own views?

You know, just to hear what they are saying and shake your head. 

If this was a Spokane tourism promo

What would the text say?

Anniversary of “Wasteland” speech

You know, the “vast” one that was television on May 9, 1961.

Oh, sure. There are some unimaginably awful viewing options in 2013. But I would argue that there's also more good stuff available than a person can watch and still have a semblance of an active life.

No. 1 song on this date in 1966

I had a junior high science teacher several years after this record's release who sang part of this song pretty much every week. On the appropriate day, of course.

When broadsheets really were broad

No, Strange Tales from the Crypt was not actually about newspapers. Back when comic books were 10 cents, the newspaper industry was having its way and the only morgue was the room with the clipping files. 

Remember “While you were out” notes?

If you worked in an office setting before phonemail and email, you probably encountered these.

The sight of one still sort of makes me cringe, even if it's just an online image.

About 30 years ago, I worked in a newsroom that used these forms. The city desk's administrative assistant was a woman named Shirley.

Shirley did not believe in the presumption of innocence. No, if an angry reader phoned the paper, Shirley assumed that the caller was in the right.

As a result, reporters assigned to the city desk would come back from lunch or whatever and be greeted by “While you were out” forms on which Shirley had written “You made a mistake” or “Deserves apology.”

I cannot remember if people said “WTF” back then. But Shirley's damning message summaries tended to prompt whatever was the 1980s equivalent.

Often, perhaps even most of the time, the reporter had not made a mistake or did not really owe anyone an apology. But Shirley kept right on handing up indictments even though she usually had precious little evidence.

This less than charming practice was brought to her attention. But I don't think she changed her ways.

Email and phonemail are not perfect. But they are just technology.

Shirley, on the other hand, was something else altogether.

Not everyone knows his/her Bugs Bunny

Just had a perfectly civil conversation with a woman who assumed my use of “What a maroon” in Tuesday's Slice was a mistake that editors should have caught.

But she accepted my explanation that I was simply borrowing a classic phrase from the wascally wabbit. 

Know any kids who had one of these?

Something tells me this would not have done well in orbit. 

The watery eyes have it

A few years ago, I attended a concert at The Bing and saw a kid wearing a T shirt that I still remember.

It said, “Mom and Dad… I'm on Drugs!”

Well, I am on drugs, too. Claritin-D, to be exact.

So are you feeling your allergies today?

The Wednesday Slice question

What are you rebelling against?

I scream, you scream, we all scream

Here are some theories about why my idea for Grizzly Beary ice cream has gone nowhere.

1. The commercial cultivation of huckleberries is an issue.

2. Other than sending a brief proposal to Ben & Jerry's more than 20 years ago and mentioning the flavor name every few years in my column, I haven't actually done anything to promote the idea.

(A woman at B&J's in Vermont — this was back before the pioneering premium ice cream maker got swallowed up by some huge corporation — wrote me a nice “Go away” reply. She noted that she had looked up Spokane on a map and thought the location seemed pretty appealing.)

3. My stubborn insistence on pure cane sugar.

4. Potential tension with the U.A. Horribilis Brotherhood about use of the name “Grizzly.”

5. Other than saying the ingredients would include chocolate and huckleberries, I've never really spelled out precisely what would go in Grizzly Beary.

6. Grim certainty that seriously exploring this would quickly lead to conversations with frowning people saying “That's your business plan?” and “This doesn't pencil out.”

7. My Ralph Kramdenesque entrepreneurial savvy.

8. Wishing doesn't make it so.

Which will disappear first?

1. Bank drive-thru lanes (replaced by total conversion to online banking).


2. People who pull up to a bank drive-thru and are reminded of the old days of newspapering when copy editors used pneumatic tubes to send marked-up articles and headline specs to the typesetters on another floor.

Can everyone pinpoint a “best date”?

Was talking with a colleague about an actress who plays a Montreal resident who visits her married daughter in Manhattan in a Sunday night TV series.

A transcript of our exchange would show that everything said was office-appropriate and that the actress in question is an age-appropriate topic for admiring commentary.

In any event, at some point, I volunteered that my best date ever took place in Montreal.

“Ah, everybody's got a best date,” my colleague said, sounding slightly wistful.

I hope that is true. But is it?

Ask SR photographer Dan Pelle…

…to tell you his Bloomsday dog bite story.

Parking in warm weather

At what temperature do you begin to implement your hot-weather parking protocols?

You know…seeking shade (even if it means parking far away), cracking the windows, putting up reflecto heat shields, et cetera.

On the eve of V-E Day (May 8)

When was the last time you saw a calendar that noted V-E Day or V-J Day?

If you have no idea what I'm talking about, it's a good bet that you have never seen such a calendar.

By the way, I am not decrying the fact that these anniversaries are not noted as they once were. Time moves on.

Still, it was the biggest of big deals in the previous century. 

Looking ahead on the Spokane calendar

Hoopfest is on the last two days of the first half of the year, June 29 and 30.

The next day, of course, is Canada Day.

It's also the day when you can put into action your Second Half of the Year's resolutions.

You know, like “Avoid Hoopfest in the future.”

What local PR person is called “a tool”?

You know, by individuals outside the organization.

That is not to suggest that all PR folks are regarded that way. They aren't.

But a few seem, shall we say, miscast. Of course, that's probably just what the people who put them in those jobs want.

Agree or disagree

Songs from the original version of “The Producers” get stuck in your head like no other music ever written.

Come on Germans, go into your dance.  

Storage issues: Then vs. Now

Everyone knows that organizing one's miscellaneous stuff has been a challenge ever since cigar boxes stopped being in ready supply in most homes.

But the sometimes questionable march of progress doesn't end there.

In homes where coffee is not purchased in cans, where do little kids put night crawlers?

Top 100 songs of 1977

What were we thinking?

OK, there are a few good songs here. But you might agree that quite a few of these are not endorsements of the popular tastes of the time.

Where were you in 1977?

Here’s something you could look up

Did you know John Wayne hated the movie “High Noon” and considered it un-American.

Feel free to take sides on this. I have.

If sunglasses are not enough today

Perhaps you could go with protective tinting along these lines?

Ever witness a cicada season back East?

I recall one from childhood but not as clearly as I remember fireflies, which were an annual thing.

The search for a secret ingredient

What could kids operating lemonade stands add to their beverage recipe to really get the drinks up on their feet?

Here's one serving suggestion.

Wouldn’t this make you go crazy?

One of my colleagues just learned that his Bloomsday finishing time was exactly one hour and one second.

It’s not the famous “Memphis Belle”

As I understand it, the celebrated B-17 called the “Memphis Belle” is at the Museum of the Air Force in Dayton, Ohio.

The plane available for rides in Spokane later this week played the “Memphis Belle” in a 1990 movie.

There's a difference.

The ad touting the opportunity to ride in a Flying Fortress acknowledges this, but in a whispering way.

Here's a picture of the real thing.

About the “Memphis Belle”…

Both the 1990 movie and the history-making bomber have connections to Spokane. Can you name them? 

No. 1 song on this date in 1970

I know this Vietnam era indictment of the U.S. by a Canadian band was considered to be a powerful message by some. Maybe.

But if I've got to listen to a Guess Who song, I'd take “No Time.”


There had been some excitement at a South Hill grocery/natural living store.

An apparently disturbed individual had to be ushered out of the place.

I found myself talking to the manager about it. And I told her something one of the cashiers — a guy known for telling awful jokes — had said a few minutes earlier.

“He said he hoped he got the help he needed.”

After a moment, the manager asked if it was the cashier hoping to get help. Which gave me the opening to suggest it was too late for that. 

Asked and answered

A mail carrier rang the doorbell Saturday morning.

He had a package for my wife requiring a signature. I held the door while she took care of that.

The carrier, a guy we both like, asked what our plans were for the day.

Thinking of one of the things I hoped to accomplish, I told him I would be getting a shingles shot.

We talked a bit more about this and that. And he asked me a question.

“So the shingles shot…is that so you won't get it?”

Yes, I said.

For a moment I found myself wondering if he thought anyone would get such a shot so they would come down with the potentially painful condition.

But he probably meant “Do you already have it or are you simply trying to prevent it?”

So I was glad I hadn't given him a wiseguy answer.

Just wondering

When you are trying everything you can think of to fix a problem with your computer, monitor or whatever, how often do you find that you aren't really sure which of the countless corrective steps you took was the one that actually provided the solution?   

One grocery cashier’s get-even plan

Tomorrow, she said, she's going to put on some shorts and go around to grocery stores and inform employees that it is a beautiful day outside.

One downside of leaving work early

After you have left, someone comes around with special celebratory T-shirts that everyone is expected to wear to work the next day.

Morning comes and, oblivious to the dress-code expectations, you get dressed in other attire.

Almost everyone else arrives at work in the special T-shirts.

An office administrator/friend volunteers to get you a shirt but your size is no longer available.

Someone within earshot refers to those few not wearing the T-shirts as “haters.”

We didn’t have proms at my high school

At least not while I was there in the 1970s.

It was thought by earnest student leaders that these events were “too corporate.”

And for some reason I thought it was important that I share that.

But please feel free to tell me all about the gala little dance parties you had at your own running dog, war-mongering, imperialist pig, corporate lackey high schools. 

Feedback on today’s Slice column

Slice reader Bonnie Rae called to say I forgot about this show.

OK, fair enough. But in my defense, there is a simple explanation for overlooking this show.

I never watched it.

The final episode aired before I turned 2.

Yes, there's such a thing as reruns. But it would seem this series isn't in heavy rotation on the retro channels.

Here’s something transplants can say

“Well, Bing Crosby wasn't born in Spokane either.”

Barney Fife School of Bird Interpretation

I guess it all depends on when you head out the door. But this morning seemed like an especially fine occasion for employing what we learned from Deputy Fife in a great episode of “The Andy Griffith Show” called “Opie the Birdman.”

Remember when Barney purported to understand bird language?

Here's hoping that all the ones we heard this morning were saying “I feel pretty good.”

Happy Friday.

A new use for little kids

Everyone knows children are natural consultants when it comes to electronics and computer issues. They've been doing it for years.

But here's what I want to know. Are they also adept at figuring out recycling mysteries? You know, what goes in which of the three refuse containers now in play (at our house anyway).

If they do have the chops in this regard, I might want to see about borrowing one now and then.

Referring to neighbors you don’t know

What house are you talking about? There are plenty of options.

A) The Bumpus place. B) The Radley home. C) The Kravitz house. D) The Clampetts'. E) The Griswold residence. F) Dexter's kill room. G) The best little whorehouse in Spokane. H) Other.

Ryan Crocker has gig at U of Virginia

Some sort of visiting distinguished professorship.

One monumental screw-up doesn't mean your life is over. But anyone could see how it might make you want to put a little distance between yourself and Spokane.

“One of the lamest columns…”

A thoughtful reader left an online comment the other day in which he or she referred to The Slice as “One of the lamest columns in any paper across the country.”

It's always nice to have one's hard work recognized.

But I have questions.

How much time would one have to spend surveying the nation's newspapers before making such a claim in an even remotely credible way?

Let's say you chose to follow just one columnist at every paper in the country. Wouldn't that take a great deal of effort? I mean, there are a lot of papers out there. But I don't know my critic personally — he or she goes by a delightful make-believe name. So perhaps he or she does, in fact, have the time to conduct such media monitoring.

More power to 'em.

But here's my real issue. Why is The Slice just “one of” the lamest and not “THE” lamest?

Who are my rivals for this honor? I'd like to check out the competition.  

How to jazz up any video about anything

Step 1: Skip narration and just use The Who's “Baba O'Riley.”

Step 2: Include KO body checks.

Here's how to do it.

If you organized a Cold War film festival

What movies would you include?

Did you know Rod Serling wrote the screenplay for “Seven Days in May”?

A lot of angry people cannot spell

At least they cannot spelling “appalling.”

Do you have a favorite misspelled word often employed by the dyspeptic?

If your nickname is “Open Bar”

It could be that you already are a Spokane wedding season legend.

Do you refrigerate after opening?

Most “natural” brands of peanut butter come with “Refrigerate after opening” printed on the label.

That's fine. Must mean there are not a lot of chemical preservatives, one might reason.

But there's a problem. After the PB has been in the fridge, it is no longer spreadable. So I wonder what other people do to soften it up.

Microwave it?

Or do others simply ignore the “Refrigerate” command in the first place?

“On Thursday We Leave for Home”

This episode of “The Twilight Zone” first aired 50 years ago tonight.

When people get used to being in charge, sometimes they find that hard to give up.

Good stuff. 

How to spot that you are not young

Let's say that because of the way the vehicle next to you is parked or because your car is right next to a concrete wall, you find yourself with hardly any room to get out of your automobile.

If, when squeezing out of your car, you imagine that you are an early 1960s astronaut slowly exiting a Mercury space capsule, you are not young.

Why haven’t you gotten shingles shot?

A) Not the right age. B) Reject science. C) Cannot afford it. D) Never heard of shingles. E) I tried yesterday at a Spokane pharmacy. After establishing that my health insurance did not cover it and that it would cost me $225, I still intended to go ahead and get it. So I filled out some forms and waited. And waited. To be fair, the pharmacy was busy. But after quite a while I was informed that, because I am under 60, they needed to treat it like a prescription. So they had to phone my primary care physician and get his OK. A message had been left with him, but God only knew when he would get back to the pharmacist. So maybe I will go back and get it today. F) Other.     

Coming in Thursday’s Slice column

I typed in a bunch of stuff readers sent me and slapped my byline on it.

It seems to be a popular assumption

Maybe you have noticed this.

Someone asks if you are doing Bloomsday. You answer that you are not. And the person to whom you are speaking leaps to the assumption that you actively dislike the annual event.

Since when does not participating imply hostility?

Feedback on Tuesday’s Slice column

Got an email from my friend Bruce in rural North Idaho.

“Hi, Paul

“Anyone that wears a loose fitting Tee that is not tucked in will never do that again after having a hornet/yellow jacket fly up or in thru the arm.”

Ever watched this?

At first glance, it seems like it could be saccharine. It's not.

The Wednesday Slice question

You might have heard this said.

When people with personal knowledge of a news event see coverage of it in the media, they invariably find inaccuracies, distortions and tone-deafness.

There undoubtedly is something to that. But it is also true that at least some of those making such claims didn't actually know what they were talking about or had a perspective-warping agenda and bias about the event in question. People tend to be pretty subjective about what constitutes objective coverage.

So, OK. That having been said, I'm going to go ahead and ask the question.

When you have had personal knowledge of a news event, what did you think of the Spokane news media's coverage of it?

A hit song in May 50 years ago

Recognize “C. King”?

I think a youtube commenter is right and this is not the final version.

Alienation Inland Northwest-style

Does our house-centric Spokane area culture occasionally make apartment dwellers feel like outsiders in their own city?

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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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