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The Slice

Archive for November 2013

The upside of my team losing

South Dakota State trounced NAU, so I won't be heading out to Cheney next Saturday.

But I'm looking on the bright side.

1. This frees up a huge block of time next weekend.

2. This means if it is really, really cold next Saturday, I can plan on being somewhere warm.

3. South Dakota State advancing in the FCS playoffs will give self-styled humorists in the Spokane media an opportunity to note over and over that the SDS nickname is Jackrabbits.

4. Can give my Big Sky fan proxy to an EWU alum friend and devote more time to studying the classics.

If today is your 40th birthday

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

Once during an interview with Richard Carpenter, Terry Gross of public radio's “Fresh Air” was a bit too open about how dreadfully uncool The Carpenters were in the eyes of many back in the day. Carpenter didn't really appreciate it. And though Gross was absolutely right, the moment struck me as a misstep on her part. But take my word for it. If you do something practically every day that's going to happen.

Just wondering

How would Bellevue fare against a GSL all-star team?

That’s a wrap for bike commute season

My ride home from work this afternoon was unquestionably the most tension-filled since I started bike commuting in 2008.

When I left the paper, it was snowing. But it was coming down in the form of fluffy flakes. That did not seem too threatening. So I didn't think twice about going ahead with my ride.

By the time I reached the Lower South Hill, though, it was coming down as ice pellets. Not ideal for bike riding. Or anything else, for that matter.

I go up Adams. But this afternoon I had to get off and walk my bike between 17th and 20th because my back tire was slipping on the climb.

Walking the next couple of miles to get home occurred to me. But I concentrated on staying in a straight line and making extra-wide turns. And it worked out fine.

Still, I was lucky.

Now I've got my fingers crossed for everyone else still out there.

Happy Foodborne Illness Day!

It's mostly a holiday for certain unfriendly bacteria. They love it if you leave turkey meat out for hours and hours.

The two Apple Cup games I’ve attended

1988: WSU 32, UW 31. (Pullman)

1997: WSU 41, UW 35. (Seattle)

How about you?

Hitchcock marathon today on AMC

Set to record now and then you can zip through the commercials or the parts that don't have Grace Kelly. 

How to begin a prayer

In the middle of this short clip from “Dr. Strangelove,” George C. Scott shows how to start a prayer.

Yes, he's nuts. But at least his opening is not mewling or meek.


This date in Slice history (1996)

Let's try to keep this straight: The play is called “Our Town,” not “Oldtown.”

Oldtown is in Idaho.

This date in Slice history (2000)

Slice answers (songs on the City Council Christmas album): “All I Want for Christmas is My Two Lawsuits.” — Mary K. Singer

“What Bile is This?” — Christopher Cook

How to explain The Slice to visitors

“Well, it's sort of bit of this and a bit of that. Sometimes it's, well, I don't know. Been in the paper for a long time. Once in a while it's, well, you know, and then, other times it's not. Readers contribute and he types it in or something like that. Pat's sister has been in there a couple of times.”

Bird is the word

At my first newspaper job, employees were given frozen turkeys as a Christmas bonus one year.

They were presented early in the day. So I had to store it under my desk until I went home much later.

This was a long time ago. But I seem to remember accidentally kicking the frozen turkey about 50 times. That was a bit disconcerting.

What was your most memorable Christmas bonus?

What’s your policy re: electric blankets?

A) Big fan. B) No way. What if something goes wrong? C) I'm sure they are nice and toasty, but I would never be able to fall asleep. D) I tried it once but dreamed I was in prison on death row. E) Other.

Agree or disagree

Here's something I said in my column on Nov. 21, 2000…

The day before Thanksgiving is one of the three or four best days on the calendar.

There's all the buzz of holiday anticipation and none of the disappointing reality.

Knockout game at your holiday gathering

You don't want that. So maybe it wouldn't hurt to remind everyone that, no matter how obnoxious certain attendees might be, there will be no sucker punches.

The Wednesday Slice question

How did it go when you celebrated Thanksgiving with the extended family of someone you were dating?

Life magazine cover 11/27/64

Key phrase: “Gets worse.”

Remember “Snoopy’s Christmas”?'s_Christmas

In the terms of the number of years, the time passed between 1967 and today is about the same as the number of years between World War I and 1967.


Woodstock as your Thanksgiving guide

If you think things could get a bit tense on Thursday, it might not be a bad idea to set up a freak-out tent.

But since Wavy Gravy won't be at your holiday gathering, you might have to assign yourself the task of helping people come down from whatever trip they're on. 

True or false

He played in Spokane back when junior teams were allowed to have a few over-age guys.

You be the real estate agent

What would you call this? Fixer-upper? Handyman's special? Little charmer? Rustic appeal?

This date in Slice history (1996)

Today's Slice question: What Spokane area boss is most like Larry Tate from “Bewitched”?

Just wondering

What's the best way to teach a child to be leery of thin ice?

My late father's favored approach was to tell a story that ended with some poor kid in his childhood hometown falling through the ice and not getting fished out until spring.

Kids in his little town on the Vermont/New York border were always meeting their maker in his cautionary tales. The body count was nothing short of astonishing.

Of course, I tended to be careful about fresh ice. So maybe my father knew what he was doing.

Today’s cat story

“My mother bought a bargain cat food from the now defunct Low Cost grocery store,” wrote Mike Storms. “When she opened up a can of it, wow, did it stink! Mom said it may smell bad to us but the cat would like it. When we put it in a dish and set it outside for the cat, the cat took one sniff of the food and buried it.”

Your ride is here

How many times have you watched at least part of this?

This date in Slice history (1996)

Names Department: The school dog at St. Aloysius School is a black lab called Amazing Gracey.

Cats and brand loyalty

An email from Valerie Adams caught my eye.

You see, my wife and I like to pretend that our neighbor's cat, who comes over for treats, prefers a certain brand of tuna.

But according to Adams, this isn't always a joke. Here's her story.

“We had a tuxedo cat we rescued from the Humane Society when she was six weeks old. She lived to be 18.

“Our cats and dogs get tuna as a twice a day treat. Bitsy would only eat Starkist tuna. The others didn't care, but you could not fool her.

“My sister thought we were being silly and tried to pass off another brand to her and Bitsy would sniff, look at you with disgust and walk away. Every time! We didn't dare run out of 'Bitsy Tuna.'”

When Adams was away and a pet sitter would come in, the cans of Starkist were marked with a big “B.”


Heard from a few readers who didn't like today's Slice question. They thought it was a downer, especially with Thanksgiving coming up.

And yet I am unmoved. The notion that everyone is happy and carefree during the holidays has long struck me as a bit unknowing.

What’ll ya have?

If you encountered this bartender, what would you order?

Me? I think I would ask for either the Tranya or a flaming rum punch.

One more “Small world” story

Carol Nelson, a friend over in North Idaho, shared this.

“My daughter, Valerie, was teaching in Korea. She ran into a guy who insisted that he knew her. Turns out he had met her twin sister, Larissa, in Eugene, Oregon.”

Another good thing about our climate

When your refrigerator is packed, you can put beverages outdoors to chill.

You might be surprised how often that comes up. At least for those who do a lot of home entertaining at this time of year.

Of course, if it's really cold, you have to monitor the situation pretty carefully. Or you might find yourself having to reassure your guests.

“Relax. Those aren't gun shots. I just forget about that case of beer bottles in the backyard and apparently they are frozen and blowing their tops.”

Re: Walter Bros. next sports road trip

So my alma mater's football team might be EWU's first opponent in the upcoming Slightly Saner Division playoffs.

Which brings up this question: Which team would I root for?

On the one hand, there's loyalty to your school and all. (Even if you are more inclined to make donations to the Forestry Dept. or School of Communications than to sports programs.)

But on the other hand, if EWU wins its way to the Less Hype Division championship game — which it certainly could — the SR might send my colleague Ralph Walter and his unemployed older brother on another road trip. I happen to know their dispatches have been extremely popular with readers in the past. And I am in favor of people enjoying the experience of reading the newspaper.

So it's a tough call. I'll have to mull it.

Meantime I can just sit and wonder how on God's green Earth Montana got a first-round bye.

Two kinds of holiday grocery shoppers

One type sighs about the overflowing parking lots and crowded stores but sort of gets into the spirit of the season when filling the cart and seeing others do the same.

The other type dreads the crowds and plans grocery shopping excursions at this time of year with the grimness of a military planner.

Which are you? Or are you in a third category?

Smart cats

Let's pick up where today's print column left off.

“My cat, Ed, was smart enough and fast enough to figure out how to catch a hummingbird last summer,” wrote Karen Mobley. “Unfortunately, it got stuck and I had to do the Heimlich to get the beak out before he choked to death.”

Let that be a lesson to you, Ed. Stop killing birds.

“Several years ago, I had a cat with an injured leg,” wrote Cathy McCoy. “We babied and fussed over that cat for several days until, one day, we noticed that she was limping on the wrong leg. Of course, if she had been truly smart she would have been limping on the leg that had been injured.”

Maybe she thought switching legs would earn her even better treatment.

“Every morning I get up and do some exercises which include bending over and touching the floor,” wrote Ken Otteman. “Mittens the cat comes from wherever she is in the house and stretches and rolls over each time I touch the floor. If I do not rub her back she gives me a look and a mew. When I get down on the floor to do roll-ups and push-ups she is right there waiting for her back, chin and ear rub. How many people have an exercise coach cat?”

Usually their role as personal trainers involves demonstrating how to take power naps.

“Lilly knocks on doors when she wants in,” wrote Becky Rainer.

And she knocks on her humans when she wants out.

“I think my cat should be considered the smartest cat ever just for the fact that she lived for 23 years,” wrote Marilyn Frei. “I finally had to put Kev down earlier this year after she had a spinal stroke. She spent the first 11 years of her life on a farm where she had to outsmart coyotes, cattle, tractors and trucks. After moving to Spokane she had to learn how to be a city (mostly indoor) cat. Kev had a unique instinct to be a comforter and companion for me following several surgeries and during any illness or injury. At these times she would stay by my side all day and all night, sleeping on my bed or snuggling with me on the couch or in a chair. Other times she was aloof and kept to herself. I miss her.”

That's not the first time I have heard that some felines seem to know when they are needed.

“Our cat Lisette is 13 years old,” wrote Michelle Batten. “Every evening while we are watching TV she wakes up and comes into the room and jumps up on the arm of the sofa beside my husband. She puts both paws on his shoulder and then strokes his face with her right paw until he gets up and gives her some wet food. She has been doing this for several years. She is good.”

Sounds like she has her routine down pat.

“Our cat Maow is smart because he is curious, knows when it's time to eat, and when to rest up for his next adventure,” said Steve Powers.

Sounds like a pretty good schedule.

“Hairy, one of two resident cats, is smart enough,” wrote Ellen Sherriffs. “He's smart enough to have a position with excellent benefits and a better retirement package than my own. All he has to do is smell like a cat to deter the garden mice from moving in. The balance of his day is spent sleeping on his face.”

Another good schedule.

“My 17-year-old kitty could retrieve the ball and meow with the ball in her mouth,” wrote Gale O'Connor. “She also could walk with us down to the lake and back up with us, which was about one mile. Many sweet memories of her.”

Back in the early 1980s, Mae Greenwood once walked door-to-door at night, soliciting donations for a charity. Her husband had to stay home with an infant. So Mae took her dog on a leash.

“At the second or third home I noticed that my cat, Smokey, was walking along with us. Many neighbors commented on my protectors and were amazed that Smokey sat and waited on their porch and then walked off with the dog and me to the next house. He was a very smart and devoted cat.”

Marilyn Courrier's cat, Shadow, once went inside the neighbor's house, which also has a pet door. The guy who lived there noticed Shadow in his kitchen. “Our neighbor says the cat looked at him, looked at the closed cat door, looked at him and bounded to the cat door, nudged the door up with his nose and leaped through the flap to freedom.”

So do cats form the thought, “I'm bustin' outta here”?

Perhaps with a bit of keyboarding help, a cat named Grady sent an email to The Slice noting that he was smart enough to adopt John and Ruth Williams after a previous owner dumped him beside a dirt road. “Today I live the Life Riley,” said Grady.

If only all pets were so lucky..

Hat hair is not fatal

I can't point to any studies.

But I'm pretty sure it's true.

If you were born on this date in 1970

“I Think I Love You” by the Partridge Family was the No. 1 song when you arrived on the scene.

Find this illustration a tad tame? Well, the meeting of the I Remember Susan Dey Club was last year.

Star Wars Burlesque

You never know what you will find when searching for the day's date.

Spokane reality check

We've all heard about nightmare neighbors.

And there's no question that they really do exist. Just ask me sometime about the cretin with neglected hellhounds that tried to set multiple midnight barking records. Thank God, they moved. Hope those poor dogs managed to find some cyanide capsules to chomp.

But sometimes I wonder if problem neighbors get so much attention that we in Spokane are in danger of assuming that their presence is the norm.

Maybe it is. How do you measure something like that? Still, I'll bet my current circumstance is far more common around here.

I like all my neighbors.

To the west is a considerate, affable family that owns a senior cat I have written about perhaps 1,000 times since she was a little shaver.

To the east are a two young families who couldn't be more congenial. Judging from campaign signs, I don't share at least one family's politics — to put it mildly. But that has never come up and there's reason it has to.

To the the north is a couple I hardly know at all. But my few interactions with them have been totally cordial. They have some extremely well-behaved dogs. And I suspect them of routinely lugging over misdelivered mail.

And to the South is a newcomer, a bright young woman I trusted completely after 30 seconds.

A few years ago, I told a friend, John Speare, that I had never gotten a flat tire on my bike commute to work. “You are so getting one now,” he said with a sigh.

I had forgotten. You aren't supposed to utter that kind of thing out loud. Jinxes things, some say.

So I hope declaring that I have good neighbors doesn't mean they're all about to move. I want my neighborhood lineup to stay just the way it is.

Just in: The Internet is amazing

My father had been assigned to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base for just a few months when a presidential candidate came to our suburban community.

Though I was still in kindergarten, my father took me to hear the speech delivered in a bowling alley parking lot. Of course, he realized the address would mean nothing to me. But maybe he thought I would want to be able to say I had seen this man, a fellow World War II veteran. I just don't know.

I remember my father held me up several times to make sure I got a glimpse of the person at the microphone. He wouldn't have put me on his shoulders because that would have blocked the view of the people behind us.

Get a handle on it

Any theories? And how about that face-guard?

Recognize this player? He had one of the all-time best names in sports.

Female Body Inspector

That playground variation on the well-established law enforcement acronym enjoyed brief popularity on at least one playground in the Northeast many years ago.

But I wonder if it induced moronic gigglefits in other parts of the country as well.

It's probably OK to confess. I suspect the statute of limitations on penalties for having been an easily amused fourth-grader protect you.

Well, it’s official

I'm done with jury duty.

Here are the final figures.

Guilty persons I helped convict: 0

Innocent persons I helped free: 0

Trials for which I was not picked: 1

Superior Court judges I wanted to speak to but never got the chance: 1

Former SR colleagues in my pool of prospective jurors: 1

Criminal defendants I saw in person: 1

Number of times I heard “Well, it's highly irregular, but I'll allow it”: 0

Courthouse employees with whom I was favorably impressed: Several

Spokane TV news people in my juror pool who now know I don't think they're ALL awful: 1

Days I actually had to serve: 1

Moments that closely resembled movie/TV courtroom dramas: 0 

Column items or blog posts spun from my call to serve: 1, 367

Just wondering

What would life be like if you tried to incorporate in your daily routines every single health and wellness tip offered on “Dr. Oz” or one of the other pop medicine shows?

This date in Slice history (1994)

Today's Slice question: Which movie title best reflects your experience in the Inland Northwest?

A) “The Best Years of Our Lives.” B) “Kitten With a Whip.” C) “Son of Flubber.” D) “Sometimes a Great Notion.” E) “The Great Escape.” F) The Good the Bad and the Ugly.” G) “Dazed and Confused.”

How to alienate Slice column contributors

I have discovered quite a few ways over the years. I'll tell you about it sometime.

But perhaps the best tactic is to simply not use answers readers send me.

So I will be alienating a whole bunch of those kind enough to respond to the “Where were you on Nov. 22, 1963?” question.

Sure, I could put the spillover answers here on The Slice Blog. But experience suggests many of my print readers are not impressed by that.

Today’s movie trivia question

In what film does the character played by Bill Murray refer to a guy as “Lee Harvey”?

No. 1 song 50 years ago

Different pop chart lists vary on the exact timing by a few days.

What percent of Spokane residents…

…have ever uttered the words “after party”?

Just wondering

Do you suspect that someone you regularly call has the first few bars of this programmed in his or her phone to announce that it's you calling? 

Happy Friday Eve

Dancing in heels has to be hard as all get out.

Please rank these Christmas songs

“Let It Snow.” “Baby, It's Cold Outside.” “Santa Baby.”

Did I leave out your favorite PG-13 Christmas song?

This date in Slice history (1995)

Jackson Shumaker isn't the sort of kid who is content to just stand back and watch the world pass by.

If he sees a problem, he's right there with a solution.

So after watching a lot of leaves fall from a big maple in his family's yard, the Spokane 3-year-old offered a suggestion: “I think we should give that tree some water.”

Jury duty update

To recap…

I served just one day last week, the first of my two week term. And I have not had to report to the courthouse even once this week.

Something tells me that when I call tonight, I will hear that my juror group is not needed Friday. And that will be that.

I have mixed feelings about how this has gone. My guess is that I am not the first to feel that way.

Received a check from Spokane County Thursday — actual check reads “County of Spokane” — in the amount of $12.26. That's my juror pay.

Thank you, fellow Spokane County taxpayers. I did my best.

Any suggestions about how I should spend, donate or invest it?

How would you define “extreme cold”?

Not trying to start an argument. Not calling anyone a winter wimp.

Just wondering.

I guess it depends on whether you will be outside and for how long.

How to experience blackout boredom

Just ask me to explain how I decide at this time of year whether to ride my bike to work or take the bus.

But perhaps I am not alone. Is there a topic about which you cannot help but provide too much information? You know, something that makes you talk and talk and talk, powerless to wrap it up.

Head ice

My colleague, Kaitlin Gillespie, noted that going outside with wet hair on a subfreezing morning is fraught with peril.

She's right, of course. But I suspect more than a few of us have done that and wound up with a flash-frozen coif.

Can you recall experiencing an epic case of frozen hair?

Remember “Turkey Day” with MST3K?


If you were far from home on Thanksgiving, Joel and the 'bots could be your surrogate family.

“He did a good job cleaning up the place. But his bosses didn't like him, so they shot him into space.”

Actors and their roles for 100, please

This Spokane Valley grade school boy I know is going to play King Henry VIII in some sort of play.

He's a confident lad. But one thing has him worried.

“How am I going to remember the names of all my wives?”

What advice would give him?

This date in Slice history (1999)

Like all school bus drivers, Cheney's Rene Penna hears things.

For instance, she recently got to listen in as a kindergarten student named Tamarah Bunt recited a familiar rhyme.

Well, most of it was familiar.


Little Miss Muffet

Sat on a tuffet

Eating her curds and whales

The Wednesday Slice

We keep hearing that Santa Claus is coming to River Park Square Friday.

Bull, I say.

I don't know who he is. But I can tell you this. The guy coming to the downtown mall is a fake, a phony, a flim-flam man.

I mean, think about it. Does the real Santa Claus have time to come hang out in Spokane at this time of year?

I don't think so. This is his busy season. The big push.

Christmas is exactly five weeks away. Can you imagine Santa telling his executive team that he's going to bail on the home office and go hang out for a few weeks in Whoville, Washington? 

So let's face it. Whoever is coming to RPS Friday is not Saint Nick. I have a good mind to go over there and challenge him.

“Tell me if I have been naughty or nice, old man. Tell me! Ha. You don't know, do you? And you came here in an SUV, not behind flying reindeer.This whole thing is chestnuts!”

Now maybe the mall managers simply have been duped. For all I know, they sincerely believe that the red-suited dude due in two days calls the North Pole home.

That would be a pretty sad commentary on the sort of background checks they do over there. But maybe Santagate is just an administrative blunder and not a calculated holiday scam.

Of course, the children will see through the imposter. Sure, they'll play along to avoid embarrassing their parents. But any kid with half a brain will know the guy with the fake beard isn't the bona fide Jolly Old Elf.

Kids know the real Santa has a full plate right now.


Today's Slice question: Have you ever worn a Santa suit?

This date in Slice history (1995)

Warm-up question: Did people ever greet one another by saying “Hee-haw,” or is that just something they do in “It's a Wonderful Life”?

What was your first take-the-car date?

Going to see “Little Big Man” was mine. (Speaking of Dustin Hoffman.)

I took a girl named Susan Morgan. No idea where she is today, but I hope she has had a happy life.

I really liked the movie. But at one point I became convinced that Susan had tears in her eyes.

Had no idea why. I had not done anything to cause that. Or was she upset because of something I hadn't done?

But she was fine. It was the reflection of the film that I was seeing.

Fame being relative, after all

I will not quibble with my colleagues' assessment (SR Facebook page) that a photo of Dustin Hoffman in “All The President's Men” is slightly more famous than the 1977 picture of me at my desk at The Arizona Daily Sun (today's Slice column).

But I would argue that down nearer Grand Canyon Country, you might still find someone who remembers my groundbreaking coverage of the Flagstaff Downtown Parking Improvement District or the Navajo Code Talkers Reunion.

Or not.

The whole point is to encourage readers to share photos of themselves with 1970s hair.

Hilarity ensued.

The most horrible Thanksgiving guest

Anecdotal evidence is no longer enough.

The Slice Blog demands a playoff system.

So apparently everyone goes to Hawaii

Not sure what else to infer from the fact I just received a PR press release about shopping for swimsuits.

Of course, there are such things as indoor pools. Or maybe that was aimed at the Snow Bird market. Or at people who want to get an early start on fretting about purchasing a new suit next spring.

How do you know who to despise?

Now that old-style “society” coverage is a thing of the past in newspapers?

Original “Stacy’s Mom”/Spokane link

You've see the Cadillac commercial incorporating the snippet of the 2003 Fountains of Wayne song, “Stacy's Mom.”

So here's the challenge. What is the Spokane connection to this old video (which might not be suitable for the workplace)?

An easy Spokane trivia question

Norman Rockwell painted a portrait of someone who grew up in Spokane. Name that person.

What’s your prediction?

Will backyard ice rinks be doable in the Spokane area this winter?

The temps would need to be consistently colder than they have been the last few years.

Want to see a slide show of some fine Canadian rinks? Open this and then click on the photo.

This date in “Twilight Zone” history

An episode called “Nick of Time” first aired on this date in 1960. Captain Kirk and his wife have some time to kill while their car is being repaired so they go into this diner and, well, you know what's in the cards for them.


Jury duty update

I called the Superior Court recording at noon to see if they needed my juror group to report this afternoon.

They don't.

So the next step is to call again after 5:30 this afternoon to see if I am needed tomorrow. My term of service runs through Friday.

I'll file further updates if circumstances warrant.

Coming in Tuesday’s Slice column

I don't really remember. I wrote it on Nov. 8.

I'm sure it fills my usual allotment of space.

Don't miss it!

How much does it bug you when…

… someone refers to Michigan State University as “Michigan” or Arizona State University as “Arizona”?

A) You mean, there's a difference? B) I am comforted by the certain knowledge that in other parts of the country people refer to Washington State University as “Washington.” C) Mistakes always annoy me. D) As it is almost always in a sports context that this comes up, it really doesn't matter so who cares? E) This is just one tiny subset of ignorance about U.S. geography. I once had a store clerk in downtown Spokane make clear to me that she thought Chicago is a state. F) Other.

When your family is spread out

If some of your loved ones live in places where hurricanes or tornadoes are not unheard of, there's a chance you pay slightly more attention to the national weather than the average Inland Northwesterner.

But do those far-flung relatives ever pay attention to Spokane's weather? I guess it depends.

Usually, our weather isn't headlines material.

Once though, more than 20 years ago, my wife and I were back East in December. While we were away, Spokane got all but buried in snow.

I can't tell you how strange it was to see Spokane on The Weather Channel while being so far away. Seemed almost disloyal.

Have you ever seen the old hometown on TV while far from here?

Revelations of the self-Google

I wanted to track down something I had written before the turn of the century.

I was at home and did not have direct access to the S-R's electronic archives. So I tried to find the piece via Google. I included my name in the assortment of search terms.

I did not find it. But I did happen onto a woman's unrelated blog post from several years ago in which she inferred that my asking her for her phone number had been a form of flirting. To her credit, she had not been offended.

(She had sent me an email with a Slice offering. I had written back and told her it was interesting. And I had asked her to send me her phone number.)

Of course, asking for phone numbers is actually about confirming someone's identity. But I'll admit that's not as much fun as interpreting it as flirting.

Still, without stopping to do the math, I'm guessing that might make me Spokane's biggest flirt.

Of course, a lot of the those I apparently have been hitting on are great-grandmothers and readers with names like Darrell and Stu.

Can you name him?

Within Canada, he is as famous as anyone in that country.

People tend to love him or regard him as a national embarrassment.

He spent the winter of 1962-63 in Spokane.

If today is your 30th birthday

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

Biggest upset win in Idaho history?

If Idaho beat Florida State in a football game next Saturday, would that constitute a bigger upset victory than Idaho State defeating UCLA in an NCAA basketball tournament game back in 1977?

Let’s go exploring

I'll admit I was worried about “Dear Mr. Watterson.”

Judging from the preview, it seemed as if the filmmaker's heart was in the right place. But you never know.

Well, I watched it tonight (via On Demand) and was not disappointed.

I wouldn't recommend it to someone who was not a “Calvin and Hobbes” fan. To such a person, I would suggest therapy.

But if the groundbreaking comic strip meant/means something special to you, I think you will find the film's tone agreeable.

I still plan to see it when it comes to The Magic Lantern (a week from tonight, I think). But if you go ahead and watch on cable, here's a hint. Stay with it to the very end of the credits.

Jury duty update

According to the Superior Court recorded message for prospective jurors, those in my particular group are to call back at noon on Monday to find out if we need to report that afternoon.

The recording does not allow you to leave a message. So you can't just say “Mark me down for 'guilty.'”

Pets on web cameras

We all know countless people exchange email photos of their pets with friends and relatives in other parts of the country. Then there are pet pictures on Facebook, et cetera.

But I wonder how many pet owners around here include their animal companions in web camera visits with, say, a daughter in North Carolina or a grandparent in Montana.

And how many of these pets look at the screen and see the image of far-away animal companions looking back at them?

My guess is that, at almost any given moment, someone in the Inland Northwest is gently holding a cat's front leg and simulating a friendly wave to a web-cam feline somewhere a thousand miles away.

Not to mention doing the squeaky voice.

“Hi, Pookie! It's me, Chloe! How're you doing?”

Yes, certain people in our midst are nuts. But it's the kind of sweet craziness that makes you love them even more.

Did you ever…

…work in an office where someone smoked cigars?

A newspaper editor on TV

It's Ed “Lou Grant” Asner's birthday.

Speaking of newspaper editors on TV … did you catch the city editor from “The Wire” — Gus, played by Clark Johnson — appearing in “Homeland” as a police detective?

Jury Duty, Day 4

Well, I just called the Superior Court recorded message for those on jury duty. And they won't be needing me on Friday.

I'm to call tomorrow night to find out about Monday.

So, to review, here's the tally.

Days served as prospective juror: 1

Days not needed: 3

On Tuesday, during the orientation, we were told it was up to us whether we wished to speak to the media after a trial. But so far, I would not have much to reveal.

Gave up on saving that Rockwell biography for jury-duty downtime. Have plunged in and have enjoyed it.

Interesting to get a glimpse of the circumstances surrounding some of his signature paintings.

I already knew his life had not been a nonstop laugh riot. But the extent to which happiness eluded him is remarkable.

But there are lots of good details. For instance, though his illustrations for the publication are what made him famous, Rockwell apparently thought little of the Saturday Evening Post as a magazine.

“Round John Virgin”

One good thing about the insanely early start of holiday music season is it expands the window of opportunity for hearing little kids get the lyrics wrong when singing Christmas carols.

You know. “And pretend that he is Possum Brown.” Et cetera.

Here are a bunch more.

Jury Duty, Day 3

Once again, my juror group was not required to report. So I'll call again tonight and find out if they want me at the courthouse on Friday.

Not having to show up certainly works in terms of being able to build my day around other out-of-the-office-activities. But it's not so great for my plan to blog about jury duty.

It's not that I am dying to be on a jury, mind you. Granted, It might be interesting. But then again, it might not.

Still, it would at least allow me to test my abilities as a predictor of personalities.

On Tuesday, my one day of actual service so far, there was a temptation when glancing at other prospective jurors to imagine what it would be like serving with them.

You know. Would that woman fall asleep during testimony? Would that guy be a calm voice of reason in the jury room?

I had a few hunches. So far, though, nothing I can prove beyond a reasonable doubt.   

The Wednesday Slice question

If you could magically alter the operation, location, flight offerings or whatever of Spokane International Airport to make it better suit your needs, what would you change?

Jury Duty, Day 2

Well, my jurors' group doesn't have to report today.

I'll call again tonight to find out if I have to show up Thursday.

So much for Day 2.

At the entrance to the big waiting room for prospective jurors, there's a sign saying “No newspapers beyond this point.”

I thought about telling someone that I had a concealed carry permit. But sometimes saying nothing is the way to go.

Jury Duty, Day 1

When I got up this morning, I had two immediate concerns about jury duty.

First, I was worried about parking. I addressed that by arriving early at the jurors' parking lot just south of the courthouse. Really early. There were all kinds of open spaces.

My second concern had to do with a troublesome twinge in a tooth. I am a total baby about dental stuff. So “It will go away” was not the only scenario I envisioned.

What if I found myself selected for a jury and then experienced a knee-buckling toothache midway through a trial? That would not be good.

In the end, that did not turn out to be a problem. But the fact I have watched too much TV might have been my undoing.

I was in a group of 35 prospective jurors ushered into the courtroom of the Honorable Annette S. Plese. Assuming the trial made it to the finish line, 12 of us would decide a case about receiving a stolen car.

The judge asked us some questions. Then the prosecutors, addressing us as a group and occasionally individually, asked more questions.

One of the two prosecutors asked if I intended to write about the trial. I said I planned to blog about jury duty. She seemed to take that as a “No.”

The defense attorney asked if any of us had, when we processed into the courtroom, wondered what the defendant was accused of. I raised my hand. Asked to elaborate, I said I remembered being curious.

If I had to guess, I'd say that sank my chances of being selected.

You see, the defendant is African-American. The defense attorney could have understandably decided “That prospective juror walked in, saw my client and decided he was a criminal. How did he even know my client was the accused?”

Well, I'll tell you. I noticed that only one of the four people at the lawyers table was not dressed as a lawyer. Plus, decades of watching “Perry Mason” had taught me where the defendant sits. And that's where the defendant was seated.

But I guess I wouldn't have picked me for the jury either.

Q6's Sean Owsley was in my group. He didn't get selected either. Though, in his behalf, I have to note that he did not say anything that made him sound like someone possibly dabbling in profiling.

Those of us who were dismissed were sent home for the day shortly before noon.

I have to call this afternoon after 5:30 to find out if my services will be needed tomorrow.

I'm still replaying in my mind my answer to the “Did you wonder what he was accused of?” question. I can see how, in context, it might have sounded sketchy.

But I had wondered, and it's my understanding that you are supposed to tell the truth in court.

On to Day 2.

I, the juror

The Slice Blog will operate a bit differently this week.

I report for jury duty this morning.

But each evening during my term of service, I will file a blog post on that day's justice system activities. Won't that be fun?

Maybe not. Still, I think those who work for newspapers are required to write about their jury duty experience. It's addressed in some little-known codicil, I believe.

Anyway, here's what I am bringing with me to pass some time. It just came out.

I've long been interested in the disconnect between Rockwell's image and the decidedly not-sunny reality of his life. And I have been reading Deborah Solomon in The New York Times for ages. So I'm looking forward to her book.

Something that strikes me as wrong

Cropping the ears of Dobermans and other dog breeds for cosmetic reasons.

“Lookin’ fine as she can be”

I have always liked this record. It's from 1965.

Some assumed they were British. Not quite. They were from Texas.

When I was a kid, I thought the singer was saying “She's a body mover.”

This date in Slice history (1999)

You're no longer rockin' if:

1. When you get home from work, you immediately change into the clothes you wear to bed.

2. You've turned into one of these people who comment on the appearance of everyone on TV.

Too early for Christmas music?

At least one Spokane radio station has already switched over to a seasonal holiday-music format.


A) Good God. B) Nobody is forced to listen. C) Do we really want to be weary of it before Thanksgiving? D) All I want for Christmas is to not hear Mariah Carey. E) Other.

“You’re gonna go blind in there”

If the same person cuts your hair every time and you have a decent rapport with that individual, ask him or her the following question.

What theories have you heard from parents to explain their teenage son already showing signs of losing his hair?

Roll out the barrel

So I'm at home looking out the window, watching a young dad and his preschool son in their yard.

The dad is raking and the little boy is running around.

At some point I see the dad put his hands under the boy's arms and pick him up. He moves the boy to a position over the open green yard-waste barrel. As you know, those are pretty big and deep.

Now, I know that young man. I trust him totally. The little boy was in no danger, and I knew that.

Still, as the dad dangled the lad over the barrel I wondered if this really was a great idea.

Then the dad set his son down in the barrel. And I could see that the boy was standing high and dry on packed leaves already in the barrel. The barrel must have been 90 percent full.

The little boy did a bit of Lucy Ricardo grape-stomping and his dad lifted him out.

Like I said. Nothing to worry about.

Try to find the 1.5 mistakes I made here

I'll give you a hint. One has to do with the spelling of a governor's name. The other (the .5) involves the name of a school not being the exact name it went by when the celebrated Washingtonian in question attended.

“Prepare to die”

What Inland Northwest resident has watched this the greatest number of times?

Two key questions

1. Are you concerned that hardly anyone says “I'd wrap 'em in cellophant” these days?

2. You know how, on cooking shows and in dramas featuring high-end restaurants, kitchen workers say “Yes, chef” and “Right away, chef”? Sure. Well, would an equivalent verbal construction make sense as a form of address in your field?

Personally, I cannot really see saying “Yes, editor.” But maybe that's just me.

This date in Slice history (1996)

B. Moser wishes the “Please do not shave in hot tub” sign at her health club were not necessary.

Slice Leaf Contest finalists

The winner is in today's Slice column. But here (below) are a couple of the entries that were finalists.

And among those receiving honorable mentions were Lois Bender, Arloine Brown, Sheila Barnes, Vaughn Blethen, Priscilla Reems, Clarice McKenney, Ellen Spear, Suzanne Lonn, Judi Durfee, Barbara Graham, Niles Schomburg, Kate Benedict and Janelle Rainer.

Thanks to all who entered.

This top photo shows leaves from a maple tree in Lorraine Hunt's front yard in Newport, Wash. The bottom picture shows a card made by Spokane Valley's K.B. Ocheltree using the image of a maple leaf that fell in her yard.



This date in Slice history (2000)

This kid knows his pennies: “On our family vacation to Washington, D.C., a few weeks ago, we were standing at the Washington Monument looking across the reflecting pool at the Lincoln Memorial,” wrote Cindy Ecklund. “My husband asked our kids (Jacob, 7, Nicole, 5, and Claire, 2) if they knew what building that was.”

Jacob answered: “It's tails.”

This date in Slice history (1995)

Slice answer: “When my husband met my grandmother on Thanksgiving, he helped with the dishes and she said he could stay.” — LaDawn Heywood, Deer Park

Happy birthday to Montana

Montana was admitted to the union as a state on this date in 1889.

Who is your favorite Montanan?

Medieval torture devices

Please think twice about reading this.

Some of these images are truly disturbing. But there are those of us who are fascinated by what people are capable of doing to others.


The sound of a B-36 taking off

OK, even if you turn your sound way up, this doesn't do it justice. Or so I am told. These bombers were phased out before I began my study of USAF aviation. But the B-36 did play a role in determining where I was born.

“Career Girl Romances”

Maybe your eye shadow has seeped into your brain. Or perhaps it is the allure of his WTF sideburns.

Now that I think about it, I might have used this a year or two ago. Guess I cannot resist those sideburns. What sort of editing decision led to that absurdity?

“Make him look hipper.”

“But the color plates are already set.”

“Make him look hipper!”

“Otis, my man!”

Or, how to demonstrate that you are tone-deaf when it comes to cultural contexts.

This date in Slice history (1997)

Today's Slice question: Could you sum up in one sentence what makes your best friend special?

Just wondering

Is there such a thing as overdoing it when it comes to insisting on shaking hands with repairmen who have come to your home even if they mildly discourage it because their hands are dirty? 

Faux cursing

If you say “Fukushima” in a certain way, it sounds like innovative swearing.

This date in Slice history (1998)

Today's Slice question: What's the secret to hiring people from out of state who will not decide after a few weeks that they hate it here?

Keeping track (or not)

I asked a young woman working at a little food place in downtown Spokane if she had any idea how many smoothies she had whipped up since starting work there.

A thousand? More?

She couldn't even begin to guess, she said. “I try to focus on each one. Stay in the moment.”

Probably a good approach. Keeping a running tally might drive her crazy.

All that’s left is to try it without clothes

Let's say you always set off the security alarm at the downtown Spokane Rite Aid. You have talked to store employees about why this happens. They have ruled out your workplace I.D. badge. They say it's not your keys, belt buckle or eyeglasses.

So what could it be?

A) You have forgotten that a metal plate was inserted in your body long ago as part of a surgical procedure. B) Space aliens abducted you and inserted a chip in your person and then erased your memory of the incident. C) The Rite Aid security device just isn't that into you. D) Your magnetic personality. E) You have a foil-wrapped vegetable in your trousers a la the airport scene in “This is Spinal Tap.” F) Your dental work gives off radio waves. G) Other.

Better make your reservations early

The 4th of July falls on a Friday next year.

Varying from “the usual”

Colbert's Judy Zweifel shared a story.

“My 97-year-old mother-in-law, who lives in Wisconsin, goes a step further when ordering the usual. She not only goes to the same place and orders the same food but also goes at the same time. Every Sunday after church she and her daughter go the Family Restaurant and she orders the usual.

“While visiting this summer we went to the restaurant on Saturday morning since we were leaving later that day. The waitress decided to have some fun with Grandma.”

The waitress said, “You're messing with my brain by coming in on Saturday! I've got enough stress in my life without you adding to it.”

But at least Grandma ordered her usual, a waffle with strawberries and whipped cream.

This week on “Andy Griffith” (1963)

In an episode called “Gomer the Houseguest,” the Taylors take in the recently fired filling station attendant and his antics keep everyone from getting much sleep.

Perhaps you remember his stirring rendition of “No Account Mule.”

Not always saying what you mean

When I came home Wednesday afternoon, I filed a landscaping update with my wife.

“There are half-eaten squirrels all over the place.”

She knew that I meant to say “half-eaten apples.”

The latter is somewhat less alarming.

True or false

This is how the West Side pictures Eastern Washington.

When babies look worried

I have no wish to impugn the parenting abilities of Spokane area residents with young children.

But I always look at babies and early-toddlers being pushed in strollers. And I have to say, a lot of those kids appear to be grimacing. It's as if they are bracing for impact. It's as if mom or dad called out, “Grab ahold of something!”

So it's fair to ask. Are parents pushing strollers running into curbs and fire hydrants on a regular basis these days?

Anything is possible in a world of smart phones and not-so-smart users.

But maybe I am misinterpreting the kids' expressions. Maybe they just dropped a crab cake or were reacting to a nip in the air.

In any event, I'm sharing this because parents pushing strollers probably cannot see the looks on their kids' faces. And it seems worth noting that these youths appear to be concerned.

Who would be worst for a job shadow?

I submit that it would be me. I simply don't think that the student would learn much from watching me in “action.”

Of course, I had a job-shadow kid clear my old phonemail once years ago and I think she found that entertaining.

So how about you? What would a student learn from watching you do your job?

In looking for images of sore losers…

I came across this. It has been around for a few years. But I have to guess it would make a perfect avatar for some of those commenting on election results this morning.

Mass transit

Took the bus this morning for the first time since last winter.

Turns out I could have ridden my bike. The wet streets did not refreeze, at least along my route. But I suppose it's better to be cautious.

Back on the bike tomorrow.

In any event, I was curious about how many familiar faces I would see on the old 43..

The answer: A few. But most of the STA riders were people I cannot recall having seen before.

Maybe some of them saw me and wondered “Hey, who's this new guy?”

Nah. Probably not. My guess is that, at 5:55 a.m., most of us are still busy questioning the wisdom of leaving our good homes.

The Wednesday Slice question

If you watched, what did you learn from the PBS “American Masters” look back at Jimi Hendrix?

OK. I'll start. If I ever knew it, I had forgotten that he had enlisted in the Army.

Are you old enough to remember?

When seemingly every other person did an Inspector Clouseau impression?

This date in Slice history (1999)

One of the more entertaining Inland Northwest brands of one-upmanship to overhear is two people competing to see whose home is more remote.

“Nobody puts Baby in the corner”

If you said that, randomly, to the next person you see, what are the chances that individual would recognize the reference?

Name the former Spokane news anchor…

…who has been on the cover of People magazine and had a cameo in “The Larry Sanders Show.”

Winter weather apparel and “Star Wars”

The Slice Blog is all for people covering their heads when it is raining or snowing.

But you might have noticed that some hoods are so roomy that they reach down over the forehead and cover the wearer's eyes.

Seems like a problem. But maybe these people are Jedi using the force to guide them.

I am a total hot-chocolate snob

I admit it.

I won't drink weak, insipid hot chocolate.

I will not pretend to enjoy swill that some benighted fool calls hot chocolate.

Just so you'll know.

A lot of people say they like hot chocolate and then they smile as they sip some putrid brown ooze.

The way to survive winter is to have standards. High standards.

So why isn't The Slice Blog better, you ask. Because it is not hot chocolate.

What’s wrong with this picture?

Questions about the wisdom of drinking while hunting aside, are we to believe he brought beer glasses along on his trek to the great outdoors?

I never thought it was a bad little tree

That's what I plan to say if I catch a glimpse of the Christmas tree bound for Washington, D.C.


Never thought this was a lyrical masterpiece but I liked the sound.

Of course, it was 1973.

A Spokane “Boom goes the dynamite”

Weekend sports guys on Spokane TV seem to come and go pretty quickly.

I hope those who leave go on to happy, fulfilling careers elsewhere.

But I was flipping channels not long ago and saw one who seemed to be hanging on by a thread. Maybe the prompter was messed up. Or perhaps he was just nervous.

One particular burst of incoherence had me worried a crash was coming. But he pulled out of the nosedive and kept the broadcast aloft.

I suspect he will improve. But I already know he has guts. That ought to count for something.

This date in Slice history (1997)

Today's Slice question: If you sold Spokane door-to-door, how would you describe your product?

Perils of going to heaviest coat too soon

Well, I suppose they are obvious.

Assuming one has multiple winter coats from which to choose, breaking out the warmest one too early deprives the wearer of the comforting knowledge that when it gets really cold, reinforcements will be ready.

Going full-parka before Thanksgiving is like Pickett's Charge at the Battle of Gettysburg.

“Chocolate Mouse Cake”

Some friends encountered that sign over the weekend at a fund-raising silent auction.

The cake looked great in a phone-photo. So “Mouse” was probably a misspelling.

Though I suppose if you whipped the mouse into a fine puree, the vermin could be incorporated into the recipe with no visible evidence.

“Have you tried the Mouse Cake?”

“Oh, yes. It's a rodenty delight. Bite after bite of mousey goodness.”

Old-song time travel

So I was walking down an aisle in a grocery store late Sunday morning when I realized this song was playing over the store's sound system.

Took me back to a specific place and time. A girl? A moonlit walk on a beach?

Nah. I was mopping the floor in a college dining hall long after dinner. And “Doctor My Eyes” was playing.

I have no idea why I still remember hearing that song at that moment. But I do. Like it was yesterday.

What's your oddball song-association?

Happy birthday to Dick Groat

He was a really good player who, back in my baseball cards days, had what I regarded as one of the best names in sports.

Grocery receipt or prescription?

You make the call.

“B&J CHOC THERAPY  1 @ 4.98”

Does every workplace have one?

You know, someone with a reputation for being cheap.

Deserved or not, it isn't how any sane person would want to be viewed by colleagues. And the thing is, it's pretty easy to avoid.

Just buy a round now and then.

And when it's time to chip in for lunch, don't be a George Costanza about auditing the bill.

I worked with a guy a hundred years ago who was known as the office tightwad. People used to openly mock his slowness about reaching for his wallet. But he did not amend his behavior. At least not while I knew him.

One time I was having lunch with this guy and a couple of other reporters at Tucson's worst restaurant. It came time to ante up for the tip.

Mr. Cheap twisted his torso around, facing away from us, as if he was trying to see his back pocket and unfasten a stubborn button.

I suspect he hoped the rest of us would get up from the table and head for the door.

But we waited. And waited. And when he finally turned around with zero cash in hand, we all were staring at him.

I cannot remember if he was embarrassed. But he should have been. 

Yule not be the first

To report seeing illuminated outdoor Christmas lights in a residential neighborhood.

I saw some this morning on my bike ride to work.

Old money

You know how larger monetary denominations — twenties, fifties, hundreds — keep getting revised with updated security features? Sure.

Well, let's say you went to the bank and got four $50 bills. One of them is an earlier edition than the other three. Would you spend the old bill first? Of course, you would.

Here's why.

1. If there is some sort of apocalypse and cash's value is diminished, the older bill might no longer be accepted as legal tender.

2. If a cashier is going to make the “Is this counterfeit?” face, you might as well get that over with asap.

3. Superstition.

Headline stacking back in 1967

You don't see pages like this anymore.

There are a couple of things going on here, aside from the Jurassic page design.

The Pittsburgh Press, which no longer exists, was a Scripps-Howard afternoon paper. And since World Series games were played during the day once upon a time, putting baseball out front for the final edition made sense even if the Pirates were not involved. The earlier home-delivery edition almost certainly had the labor strife up top.

Watching an Exacto-wielding paste-up man totally remake A1 for Final (on deadline) is a sight I wish everyone could have had the chance to see.

“How much time we got?”

“Three minutes.”

“No sweat.”

Of course, my memories of this are from the late 1970s. I have no idea how the Pittsburgh composing room operated 10 years earlier.

When I worked on the copy desk for a p.m. paper in El Paso (another Scripps-Howard publication that has folded), I was sometimes charged with overseeing the final edition. That required subbing in the closing stock prices and rewriting the top headline on the front page. It was not overly taxing.

If there was big news before the deadline for Final, we would have to redo the front page and at least one inside “jump” page. That happened rarely. 

In any event, hardly anybody bought our final edition. But I resisted the temptation to come up with goofy A1 headlines. I had learned that lesson long before I started working for newspapers.

Convinced that one of my seemingly lethargic high school teachers could not possibly scrutinize every word of all the assigned papers my classmates and I turned in, I took the liberty of inserting “As if you're actually reading this” in the middle of a paragraph in one of my scholarly efforts.

When I got the paper back, that jape was circled in red. And I think there was a “See me” note beside it.

So I played it straight with the final edition in El Paso. For one thing, it was not my job to amuse myself. As the Talking Heads put it so well, “This ain't no foolin' around.”

But mostly I had no desire to find a copy of the previous day's Final on my desk the next morning with a “See me” scribbled on it in red.

Rest of the story

The item in today's Slice column featuring Cheryl Mitchem's recollection of taking pre-fair Season Pass photos for Expo '74 left out a few details.

She had told me she moved to Spokane from Los Angeles in 1973, with a plan to get a job with Expo. I asked her to elaborate.

“After graduating from UCLA and meeting someone in an insurance company (what else do you do with a sociology major), my then boyfriend (later husband) convinced me to get out of LA and move to Spokane (where's that?), because his dad was the president of Whitworth College (Ed Lindaman), and we could live with them in the president's house until we got jobs at the fair.”

Her first Expo assignment had her in Spokane stores taking pictures for fair passes purchased by people ahead of the event.  

“I got the job and wrote home, 'Dear Dad, Thanks for sending me to UCLA — I'm taking pictures in a photo booth in grocery stores!'

“Forty years later I am living in a condo next door to the Lilac Butterfly. I have come full circle.”

Know your A.P. Stylebook

It's “daylight-saving time,” not “daylight savings.”

Hope your Saturday feels just like this

Do you remember what song kicked off at this moment in the movie? Sure you do.

Grade schoolers describe pulchritude

Coming in Saturday's Slice column.

One more Halloween story

The doorbell rang and a Spokane guy named Roger hurried downstairs to dispense candy.

He had a mouth full of cookie.

When Roger opened the door, he looked down and saw a tiny scarecrow.

The scarecrow looked up and saw that the man's mouth was full of something.

In a shocked tone, the little boy asked, “Are you eating my trick or treat?”

Roger assured the scarecrow that he was not. And to thank the kid for the laugh, he gave him a grande serving of candy.

On newsstands 50 years ago

This issue featured a Playmate of the Month, Donna Michelle, who — from what I have read — was 17 at the time her pictures were taken.

So the notion of some randy fathers and grandfathers sitting around the barbershop and checking out a naked teenager, well, it just makes you proud to be an American.

When I was introduced to her a few years later, thanks to my willingness to rifle through my older brother's chest of drawers, I viewed her as the older woman she was.

She was in an episode of “The Big Valley.” It's the one with Jill St. John.

She died in 2004.

A CdA Halloween princess with attitude

Coeur d'Alene's Maggie Bennett shared a story.

“For the last 25 years, we have decorated our porch on Halloween with a Scary Guy made from an ugly mask and various clothing stuffed with newspaper. He sits on a bench with pumpkins, a spider and webs.

“This year a 5-year-old princess with blond ringlets came up on the porch with parents and siblings to trick-or-treat. I asked her how she liked my Scary Guy.

“With her arms folded over her chest, she said, 'I don't like him at all and I think you are mean!'”

The child's parents lurched into damage-control mode. And perhaps the fact that her bag of treats was already pretty full empowered the princess to speak freely.

But Bennett was impressed.

“At least she came up on the porch to tell me what she thought. Some kids just walk away rather than take the chance that Scary Guy will get them.”

Hasn’t had a trick-or-treater in 15 years

That's Howard Bisbee's report.

He lives in a log home a few miles outside of Republic, at the end of a dead-end road.

“If I buy Halloween candy, I know we're going to eat it.”

One woman’s plan for using extra hour

Peggy Ackerman doesn't pretend that her idea is breathtakingly creative.

But it might sound familiar.

She plans to devote the fall-back hour we gain this weekend to trying to reset clocks and watches.

One trick-or-treater requested wine

But Karla Sherry knows the woman in question and was prepared when she arrived with an empty glass.

“I actually had seven bottles for her to choose from, in reds and whites,” wrote Sherry. “She chose a 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon from Columbia Winery.”

Halloween in Logan neighborhood

Maggie Fritz had 25 trick-or-treaters at her place.

Two girls came as Care Bears, in excellent homemade outfits. They were impressed that Fritz recognized their costumes.

Another kid, a boy, was made up to look like a member of KISS. He, too, was slightly amazed that Fritz could identify his costume theme.

“I pointed out my gray hair,” she said.

Halloween report from a friend

My friend John Kafentzis shared a Halloween 2013 headcount and a lasting memory.

“The results are in and we had 81 trick-or-treaters this year, not a record but not bad in a nation where parents are crazy with fear over the dangers their children face even though there is no statistical data that shows kids are in any more peril now than they were 50 years ago.

“This year was no record. When my kids were in their trick-or-treating prime we routinely toted more than 100.

“I always tally like my father did before me. Not that he, or me, ever remember the number the next year.

“Except once in the early '60s we had 221 trick-or-treaters visit our suburban Missoula home.

“I don't think it ever occurred to my dad to close the blinds and turn off the porch light. A child of the Depression and a World War II vet, he liked to finish what he started and he was a skillful adapter.

“That night adapting meant conscripting the goodies my sister and I had collected. My dad was always big on everyone pitching in.

“At least he let us choose what to give up. It was no big deal to sacrifice the fruit, popcorn balls and assortment of cheap suckers.

“”When we got down to the Milky Ways and Hersheys it was painful.

“They came in waves, cowboys and Indians, pirates and princesses and witches and hobos.

“There were times when he didn't close the door between groups.

“Then, it stopped. After 30 minutes of no trick-or-treaters my dad called it. It was way past 9. He had served every trick-or-treater who climbed our steps. My sister and I still had a few treats.

“He always remembered the year we had 221.

“We all did.”

Songs mentioning November include…

Do you know the lyrics in question?

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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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