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The Slice

Archive for October 2013

It’s natural to be cautious, of course

But I wonder how many people who think they recall a real-life incident of a kid biting into a trick-or-treat offering and cutting himself on a razor blade are actually remembering a scene early in “Halloween II” where a bloody-mouthed boy arrives at the hospital just before Michael Myers starts taking names.

Halloween headcount

Jan Goss said her husband has been keeping meticulous records on the trick-or-treat turnout at their house since the 1970s.

He notes the weather, size of the groups, et cetera.

And he tracks trends.

“In the last few years he has been graphing it.”

Leaf it to Brandon

A reader named Cathy noticed that The Slice has been addressing the subject of leaf-raking.

She had a story.

There is a little boy named Brandon who is an important person to Cathy and her husband.

They have tried to help him develop sound values. So if, say, they were getting Brandon a toy, they might suggest that they also buy something for an underprivileged child. You know, that sort of thing.

Well, a couple of years ago, when Brandon was 5, Cathy's husband spent the day with the boy gathering up and playing in leaves. At the end of the day, they filled a yard-waste barrel with leaves.

Brandon had a question.

“Will they be taking these to the poor kids who don't have leaves?”

Trick-or-treat headcounts

“I keep an official candy count so I know how much to buy next year,” wrote Janet Culbertson. “Around 50. And I always have an extra bag of my favorite just in case I get more than usual. Any leftovers are mine!

“I know the kids say 'Let's go to that crazy old woman's house. She always has the good stuff.' I love Halloween.”

Barry Bauchwitz filed this report. “My wife began an official and accurate tally when we moved into our home in the Valley. We average around 100 trick-or-treaters each year! It helps so that we are prepared with enough goodies to satisfy everyone.”

Halloween nostalgia

This illustration adorned the cover of the Saturday Evening Post dated Nov. 1, 1958.

Click on the link down below (the one on the very bottom) for more about it.

Mr. Darcy recalls blowing up pumpkins

“I cannot think of it without abhorrence.”

Some fun trivia re: “Monster Mash”

Would not have guessed that Bob Dylan enjoyed the song.

Here's a story on Bobby Pickett's death in 2007 that has some good background on the graveyard smash. 

Sitcom witch holding a cat

This was before she played a Spokane mother in a made-for-TV movie.

This date in Slice history (1997)

There was trouble in Bonners Ferry.

Kelley Standal, 12, tried to convince her little brother that dinosaurs did not exist at the same time as cavemen.

But 7-year-old James Standal wasn't buying it. And to make his case, he cited what he regarded as an irrefutable authority, “The Flintstones.”

“Don't you get it, Kelley?” he blurted. “Fred took Dino for a walk!”

There’s movie scary and real-life scary

Have you ever worked at a place where a major round of layoffs was announced on Halloween?

Coming in Thursday’s Slice column

Early leaf-rakers make their case.

(Hint: They say it isn't OCD.)

Do you remember CDA’s “The Vibrants”?

According to this remarkable site, The Vibrants were a CDA singing group from 1965-67.

Mark Twain marketed as pulp fiction

“Who knew that Mark Twain's books were so sleazy?” wrote Johnny Lee Achziger, who came across a paperback edition shown below.

The Wednesday Slice question

Ranked in order of probability, what are the three most likely outcomes of a Spokane man joining a couple of yoga classes in hopes of meeting women?

This date in Slice history (1995)

There's still time to get it fixed in your mind.

Remember, when driving over smashed pumpkins, turn into the skid.

3 costume ideas from “Vision Quest”

1. Young woman visiting Spokane. 2. Auto shop guy. 3. Wrestler from the future.

Long before Belushi’s “College” shirt

There was the “Campus” pennant.

Though perhaps “Personal Love” tops that on the inanity scale.

One question movie/sports trivia quiz

In what movie from 30 years ago does a group of friends gathered far from the Midwest sit down to watch a Michigan vs. Michigan State football game on TV?

You make the call

A couple of fresh-faced teens show up at your door on Halloween night.

They are not wearing costumes. They say they are part of some church-sponsored food drive.

They ask for canned goods.

What do you do?

A) Give them a couple of cans of food. B) Tell them to get lost. C) Politely say, “I can see that you have been taught that Halloween needs reforming. I do not share that belief. I like Halloween. And so, while I routinely contribute to food drives, I am not going to give you anything.” D) Hand them a couple of miniature Snickers. E) Other.

The politics of trick-or-treat

“Your question about parents having their trick-or-treaters skip houses based on campaign signs reminded me of one year when our boys were young,” wrote Lynne Zysk. “Our oldest son, Peter, wore a Bill Clinton mask and his brother, Eric, wore a Bob Dole mask.

“They went to all the same homes but people were very open in sharing their political leanings by the amounts of candy they gave the boys. Bob Dole got more candy than Bill Clinton at some homes and Bill Clinton got more than Bob Dole at other homes. So we had an unofficial poll based on the candy amounts.”

I asked Lynne if she recalled who came out on top back on Halloween of 1996.

“As I recall, Bob Dole ended up with more candy that night. The boys did get their money's worth out of those masks. On Election Day, they wore them and waved at cars from the front lawn to see who they could get to honk.”

If you encounter a Halloween hater

There are several options.

But The Slice Blog recommends quoting the poet, Thomas Petty, from his “Refugee.”

One line resonated when he wrote it more than 30 years ago. And it still cuts right to the heart of things.

“You believe what you want to believe.”


Today’s Halloween costume idea

Of course, that dress would look better on some of us than it would on others.


This date in Slice history (1996)

Gone but not forgotten: We heard about a second-grader named Tom who told his teacher that he wanted to turn into a dinosaur and stomp all over the school.

This alarmed the teacher. She informed Tom's mother that the boy needed counseling. But when his mom talked to him, Tom didn't understand the fuss. “I was just being like 'Calvin & Hobbes,'” he said.

If you had super-vision…

…you might be able to make out “SPOKANE” over on the right, in front of that red roof.

She is a little scary

Didn't Don Draper handle the Lucky Strike account?

This date in Slice history (1997)

Five ways you don't want to be described: socially ambitious, incapable of sincerity, startlingly unknowing, influenced by campaign signs, compost scented.

Mothership proximity can be irrelevant

Ever had relatives, friends or Twitter pals in other parts of the country tout something they found at a Costco where they are and then be told by staffers at a Spokane Costco that they've never heard of it?  

A Halloween costume idea

“Who are you supposed to be?”

“Father Chuck O'Malley.”


“You just failed Spokane 101.”


Announcing their presence

Unlike Deputy Barney Fife, I cannot claim to understand bird-speak.

But I have a hunch about what some of them are saying at this time of year.

“Don't rake your leaves.”

I'm guessing this because I noticed something the other night. Cats lose their stealth when moving through a yard covered with dry leaves.

And if I have noticed that, I would imagine the birds have, too.

Normally silent felines create crunching and rustling that all but blares “Here comes trouble!”

At least that's how I imagine a bird would view it.

No. 1 song on this date in 1969

His last No. 1.

This date in Slice history (1995)

Today's Slice question: Are there enough seats in the Spokane Arena to hold everyone in the area who will be driving drunk tonight?

The long and the short of it

Ever been so preoccupied by something on your mind that you got into the driver's seat of a family vehicle and started on your way somewhere without remembering to readjust the position of the seat even though the previous driver's setting left you with either way too much or way too little legroom? 

You know you’ve slept in when…

… finding the newspaper takes some doing because it has been covered by freshly fallen leaves since it was tossed in your front yard.

We all owe a big thank-you

To the Spokane area families who have had the hard talk with elderly relatives about giving up the car keys.

And to the senior drivers themselves who realized it was time, before something tragic happened.

The Slice Blog’s conspiracy theory

The people in our midst who hate bicyclists are somehow responsible for the aphid swarms.

If you had to guess at a number

How many deceased family pets have been buried in Spokane area backyards?

I'd bet it is about half a million. Maybe more.

Ever take pilot’s seat in B-52 simulator?

I have to assume there are a fair number of people around here who have.

As it happens, I am one of them.

My training session took place long ago at a base in Arkansas that has since closed.

Let's just say my landings were a bit rocky. Had it been a real B-52, no one would have walked away.

Just wondering

How often do you receive emails or texts intended for someone else?

Do you say “froggy” instead of “foggy”?

I have it on good authority that not everyone stops saying that just because childhood is over.

Today’s forgotten Washington beer

According to this site, which I recommend checking out, Hop Gold was brewed in Vancouver.

Meet the candidate (or not)

My route home from work, which is considerably different from my ride downtown in the morning, goes by a political candidate's house.

On a few occasions, I have seen this person out front coming or going.

I have tried to imagine what I might call out, if so moved. “It will be a pleasure to vote against you!”

I wouldn't actually do that, of course. For one thing, statements yelled to others while the yeller is on a bicycle tend to be incomprehensible. Besides, I have no wish to be rude.

But more to the point, it might invite said candidate to ask for my vote. And I haven't been drunk enough to consider that since I was in my 20s.

No. 1 song 30 years ago

“Islands in the Stream.”

I would not listen to it in a house.

I would not listen to it with a mouse.

One of the worst TZ episodes

“Last Night of a Jockey,” starring Mickey Rooney, first aired on “The Twilight Zone” 50 years ago tonight.

Even Rod Serling struck out now and then.

You’ve heard of a red-letter day?

What do you think of that headline?

I've gone back and forth about it three times already.

Did you know…

That the baseball player below, Armando Galarraga — the pitcher famously robbed of a perfect game by a blown call in 2010 — once played for the Spokane Indians?

This date in Slice history (1998)

Today's Slice question: If there were an official “Inland Northwest Weekend Breakfast-Fixing Uniform,” what articles of clothing would it include?”

This week at Expo 74: Van Cliburn

OK, I know perfectly well that the photo is of Jerry Lee Lewis, not Van Cliburn.

But admit it. Weren't you kind of excited for just a second when you thought you had caught me in a goof-up of that magnitude?

If memory serves, Van Cliburn never jumped up while playing and mule-kicked the piano bench.

All over the map

Here's a sampling of responses to the question about how many people still use paper highway maps.

“We just returned from a 4,100 mile trip to Iowa and Indiana and yes, we used paper maps all the way,” wrote Jerry Hargitt. “We do have a GPS that we keep handy in a bag in case we need it, but we didn't. When I plan a new trip, I get out my collection of paper maps. Nothing else will do.”

“I always keep AAA highway maps in my car (Washington, Oregon, Idaho, BC and Alberta), but my husband doesn't,” wrote Sharon Forsyth. “Neither of us have vehicles with satellite navigation systems, but we both have smart phones. Problem is, there's miles and miles of country in these parts that are out of cell range. Never fails that when we lose cell range and need a map, we're in my husband's car.”

“I've been with friends who have GPS devices and it has steered us off course several times,” wrote Janet Culbertson. “I'll take my old, torn, paper, fold-up over that thing-a-ma-jig any time.”

“We have a box full of maps down in the basement,” wrote Jeri Hershberger. “I refuse to get a GPS. I do not want to take away my ability to read a map. That is a long-lost art, just like thank-you notes.”

“I love maps,” wrote Mary Shelly. “I have 39 folding maps.”

“I would guess that most folks my age still use the folded up highway maps, as I do,” wrote retiree Bill Mahaney. “I remember when they were free at any gas station…Online maps, however, are quite useful for very specific directions within a city.”

“I still use fold-up maps,” wrote Terry Martin. “Neither my husband nor I have a 'smart' phone, and I don't trust online maps on the computer.”

“Each October when we prepare to leave for the winter in Mesa, Ariz., I pick up new maps at the AAA office for Idaho, Montana, Utah and Arizona,” wrote Sherry Bye. “With fine point pen, I mark every motel, restaurant and gas station that we frequent for the 1,400 mile trip.”

“I appreciate using a computer map and its directions,” wrote Laura Prewitt. “But it's just not as satisfying as seeing all the ways to get someplace.”

“My grandmother, who is well into her 80s, considers maps nearly an art form,” wrote Keri Whittekiend.

“I still love highway maps and always use them on trips,” wrote Patricia Gaver.

“I love a good paper map,” wrote Lois Farnsworth-Whysong. “I do use Google maps once in a while if I need specific directions like to the Hampton Inn in Walla Walla, but overall I rely on paper maps.”

“My friend, Bernice, and I just returned from a 3,400 mile trip to Arizona,” wrote Mary Johnson. “We started with a new, beautiful paper map. She had to retire it because of all the new openings in the various folds. But it did us well there and back.”

There were more, but you get the idea.

Let's wrap this up with a report from Slice reader Jan Goss.

“We were traveling back from Seattle after our first cruise. As soon as we approached eastern Washington, it was clear that much of it was on fire. Huge billows of smoke filled the skies near Ellensburg.

“As we have friends who lived in one of the canyons nearby, we decided to drive up the highway to see if they were in trouble and needed help. After a few miles of driving, a state trooper whizzed past us and proceeded to close the highway in front of us. I happened to be driving and drove off the shoulder to a level place to park and get a better view before turning around. Immediately, we were accosted by people in other cars who had no maps and no idea how to reach their destinations other than this particular highway.

“We had to chuckle as we drew diagrams and handed out paper maps to help them.”

All skate

So I was first on as the Ice Palace opened its skating season this morning.

I wasn't actually the first to lace up. But my fellow lunchtime skaters seem to realize that being first on the ice is sort of a thing with me. So I was waved ahead.

People can be pretty nice. Perhaps you have noticed.

There have been a few ice-making setbacks in the days leading to this morning's opening. Something to do with the refrigeration compressors. I don't know the whole story.

But the surface was a thing of beauty this morning. Shiny and new. “Come aboard….”

Skating was a pleasure.

I didn't stay long. TV news reportedly was on its way.

Before I left, one of my fellow regulars handed me a business card with an email address,

She said rumors are flying about the future of the Ice Palace.

I told I her I hoped people realized that an open-air ice rink in our downtown park is truly something special. Who would want to mess with that? Who would want to make Spokane more ordinary?

As I was heading back to the paper, I overheard an excited woman on a cell phone near the front of the library. She told someone, “She's contradicking herself.”

Let's hope the good people working on the Riverfront Park master plan don't do that to the Ice Palace.

When is the start of mudroom season?

Does it begin when we get the first snow?

Or does the sight of people tracking in leaves prompt you to impose shoes-off rules earlier than that?

Don’t do it

Don't say I didn't warn you.

If you do a Google image search on “biker movie posters” it might interfere with your plans to be productive.

“Lights and display contest!”

With exactly nine weeks until Christmas, it's probably too early to start saying that at random occasions throughout the day.

Unless, of course, you sound a lot like Charlie Brown and people enjoy hearing you say it.

The Wednesday Slice

The out-of-home portion of my day got off to an inauspicious start yesterday.

A fraction of a second after locking the back door, I managed to pitch my keys into a bush next to the porch.

I had my ice skates carrying-case draped over my neck and I suspect my hand brushed against it en route to my pants pocket and, well, who knows.

I spent a few moments looking. But it was still dark. And it was foggy. So I decided to go on without them.

My hope, of course, was that they would be easily findable after the sun came up but not so obvious that they posed a security issue.

After getting to the Review Tower and parking my bike, I sent my wife an email detailing my latest adventure in personal competence.

I was confident she could find them after daylight arrived. But something worried me.

What if one of the squirrels that spend time in our yard has pack-rat tendencies? What if such a rodent saw my keys under the bush and thought they might make a nice home-decorating touch?

The two keys themselves are nothing special. They aren't even all that shiny. There's one house key and one slightly longer key to a downtown post office box. They are attached to a red plastic key bob that used to be adorned with a snapping-fingers Stax Records graphic. That has worn off.

As I say, nothing unique. But who knows what a squirrel might fancy for his great room?

And who really can say what it might be like to negotiate with rodents about the return of my keys?

Me: “I am prepared to offer a variety of mixed legumes and a nice fruit platter.”

Squirrel: “We want an iPad and a large screen TV. HD.”

Chances are, they wouldn't even agree to bargain.

Maybe they would opt to keep the house key and let themselves in whenever they felt like it.

And what about the P.O. box key? Those animals are one STA bus ride away from access to potentially important mail.

Think about THAT, as they say in one truck commercial.

I can just see one of them taking a package-delivery slip up to the service counter and claiming to be me.

As it happens, my wife located the keys. I never had to come up with a ransom.

Perhaps it was wrong to suspect that the squirrels were potential key stealers. But I guess we'll never know.


Today's Slice question: What's the greatest number of people to have been in your kitchen at one time?

When the Ford Country Squire ruled

Shortly after the Earth's crust cooled, 1960.

I am a person of color

At least I am in the photo on my brand-new Ice Palace season pass.

Not sure how that happened.

But that's fine.

Still, if someone at Riverfront Park questions me about it, I am not sure what I'll say.

The British were coming

So songs like “Sugar Shack,” No. 1 on this date in 1963, were about to disappear from the No. 1 slot.

What would Navin Johnson do?

You know. When the tiny 2013 phonebooks arrived.

Let’s all sing

“A Foggy Day (In Spokane Town)”

Or not.

I was just thinking I don't recall ever hearing anyone say “Spokane Town.”

Probably because it sounds silly.

So, OK. London  can have it.

Takeaway from today’s print SR

This is just a guess, of course.

But I have to assume that readers in quite a few households looked at the caption beneath the front page fall-frolic photo and asked a musical question.

“WTF kind of name is Chassidy?”

Upside to your team coming up short

The baseball team you follow did not make the World Series? Cheer up. Consider this.

1.) Assuming you do not plan to watch the series, you are looking at potentially saving something like 24.5 hours. Think of all the enriching things you can do with that time.

2.) Fans of some teams have NEVER seen their team make it to the World Series.

3.) Maybe this time you will actually stick to your pledge, “That's it, I'm done with sports. Why put myself through this every year?”

A time-honored seasonal exchange

Skating season at the Ice Palace doesn't begin until Wednesday.

But I walked over to Riverfront Park yesterday and took a look at the gleaming ice.

When the guy driving the resurfacing machine rolled by where I was standing, I initiated the obligatory exchange.

“Looking good.”

“Gettin' there.”

An alarming situation

Coming in Tuesday's Slice column.

Another tip before I report for jury duty

“Beware of your fellow potential jurors,” wrote a Slice reader.

She told about being in the initial waiting room and getting up to get some coffee. When she got back to her seat a few moments later, the book she had been reading was gone.

Unusual tackling position

And does that football look a little skinny to you?

Middle school dress code

From a Spokane middle school's student handbook, under the heading “General Dress Expectations.”

“Shirts must completely cover stomach and all undergarments.”

“Top pair of shorts or pants must be worn at the waist. No pajamas.”

“No slippers. Students must keep shoes on.”

Costume idea: Good witch from Montana

Michelle Williams was born in Kalispell.

Saturday Evening Post — 10/21/67

I know what you're thinking. Did the experience help Cheever clarify his murky sexuality?

I have no idea.

You have to read all the way to the end

So this guy with a lot of hard miles on his face is riding an elevator at a Spokane hospital.

He is wearing a ballcap that says “Shut up.”

I ask him if people comment on his hat.

He turns his head and I see that the cap's whole message is “Shut up and fish.”

“All the time,” he says with a smile.

My Tom Foley scar

Back in 1989, when Rep. Tom Foley was about to become Speaker of the House, my colleague Dan Pelle and I went back to Washington, D.C., to profile the congressman.

One morning, when were about to leave our hotel and head over to the U.S. Capitol, I was looking at some papers as I headed to the elevators. I managed to walk into the corner of a couple of walls. I butted it hard enough to open up a small gash on my forehead right at the hairline.

There was enough blood that I had to summon Dan from the lobby and change my clothes.

A bit later, when Foley studied the band-aids Dan had applied to my forehead, he winced and said something about how it must really smart. I can't remember what I said. I assume I hurried to change the subject.

For many years, I would see a little scar in the mirror and remember spending a couple of days with the congressman. Triggered all sorts of memories.

Soon after hearing the news of his passing this morning, I found myself in the newsroom men's room. I leaned over the sinks and tried hard to find my Tom Foley scar in the mirror.

But it's gone, too.

Multiple choice

The insides of a pumpkin are called what?

A) Guts. B) Seeds and stuff. C) Guts. D) Glop. E) Guts. F) The ookie. G) Guts. H) Wet matter. I) Other.

50 Years ago tonight on “Twilight Zone”

A so-so episode called “A Kind of a Stopwatch” first aired on Oct. 18, 1963.

A chatterbox loser is given a watch that can stop and restart all human activity. Everybody just freezes in place until he re-clicks it.

He uses it to rob a bank. But it doesn't end well for him.

I'll spare your delicate sensibilities by not telling you what use certain adolescent boys immediately thought of for such a magical watch.

Music to get dumped by

This was the No. 1 song on this date in 1976.

Could you make a list?

Of the magazines you used to read at least occasionally that no longer exist.

You make the call

Does this pumpkin patch look sincere to you?

Is this mean?

Two co-workers are talking about another workplace colleague and one says, “I've never heard him say anything that made me hope he would keep talking.”

Their only crime was 1974 hair

According to the always amazing site credited below, this is a photo of a 1974 Spokane band called Sailor.

Democrats own the media

That's what I learned from today's letters to the editor.

And here I could have sworn that, well, never mind. Let's move on.

Badge of honor

The woman who gave me a flu shot yesterday pressed a yellow sticker onto my shirt as we were wrapping up.

You know, like one of those “I voted!” stickers you used to get back when we actually went to polling places on Election Day.

I never actually looked at my flu shot sticker. So I'm not sure what it said.

Maybe “I believe in science.”

Just wondering

1. Does having darkly tinted automobile windows mean the driver doesn't worry much about other motorists being able to see his friendly thank-you wave in response to someone in traffic doing him a good turn?

2. What would it be like if people in your profession spit as much as baseball players?

If you were born on this date in 1973

This was the No. 1 song on the radio when you emerged and asked what time your shows were on.

“Her and them sweaters”

Can you name the “Best Picture” winning movie in which that line is uttered?

Here's a hint: The actor who says that played the role of Hunk Houghton in a different movie.

Another Ice Palace

This one is in Alabama.

That site says it is the only rink in the state. I'm pretty sure that's not true.

In any event, Spokane's Ice Palace at Riverfront Park is to be open for business a week from today.

Your one-question World Series quiz

I could not have told you this, but I have read it in a couple different places.

Between 1949 and 1964, only one World Series did not involve at least one team from New York.

Can you name the year and the teams?

No? OK, never mind

Ever been really sleepy while using a computer and had your hand on a mouse and, just as you nodded off for a split second, clicked on something that came as a surprise when you opened your eyes and saw what was on your screen?

In case you were wondering

The “fall back” return to standard time isn't until Nov. 3.

Of course, another way to get an extra hour of sleep is to go to bed earlier.

50 years ago tonight on “Dick Van Dyke”

After discovering that Laura was only 17 when he married her, Rob decides they need to remarry to make sure everything is legal.

Comedic antics ensue.

The Wednesday Slice question

How do you react to editorial page political endorsements?

Just wondering

Can you believe that next month it will be 50 years since JFK was murdered?

Seen in the ER

This is what it has come to. They actually have to put this in writing.

On a sign detailing a Spokane hospital's policy about pain meds, there is a declaration that stolen prescriptions will not be filled.

Did you buy “Monster Mash” in 1962?

If so, do you have any idea what might have happened to that 45?

If you were born after 1962, I will assume that you did not buy the record when it first came out.

Frost on the inflatable pumpkin

Does anyone in your neighborhood have blow-up Halloween decorations in the front yard?

I see several on my nippy bike ride to work in the morning. They always remind me of the fun readers have had over the years in describing the carnage of deflated Christmas inflatables on frigid mornings.

Oh, the humanity.

“Reindeer down! Reindeer down!”

Is use of “daily fishwrap” fading away?

Got an email this morning from a reader named Joe who used that expression to describe the SR. I know the guy and he was not trying to be mean. Though I think it might be fair to say he isn't always impressed with the paper.

In any event, I realized I had not encountered that use of “fishwrap” in a while. And now I am wondering if it is all but extinct.

Maybe not. Like print newspapers, maybe it'll hang in there.

If you watch TV shows set in England

Sooner or later you have to ask yourself. Would I be able to drive over there? Or would I be too afraid that I might forget which lane I’m supposed to be in?

Excuses for leaving work early

Let’s say there’s a baseball game on TV at 1 o’clock that you want to watch at home. What can you say as you slip out during the noon hour?

1. “I need to check on something.”

2. “I think I might be coming down with something and I don’t want to infect everyone.”

3. “Something I need to take care of.”

4. “Have a meeting with a Justin Verlander.”

5. “You’ll probably be gone by the time I get back.”

6. “I’ve got to uh, you know, take care of that thing.”

Sioux City’s airport code SUX

Catherine Caskey saw the mention of GEG in today’s column. “How could anything be worse than SUX for Sioux, City, Iowa?” she wrote. “My sister and I went to nursing school there and we referred to it as Suck City.”

Sign of the season

i realize it’s a limited population sample.

but in the last couple of days, about one in three people leaving me phone messages sniff at some point while creating the recording.

(yes, i know the first letters of the above paragraphs should be capitalized. but the hal 9000 is not cooperating right now.) 

Technical difficulties, please stand by

Hope to have things back to normal shortly.

A bit with a dog

See Tuesday's Slice column.

Charles Goren on SI cover, 10/14/57

Do you play bridge? Did your parents? Can you imagine the editors at Sports Illustrated considering a cover like this today?

Spokane and resenting the physically fit

People around here sometimes assume that because of Bloomsday, Hoopfest, et cetera, everyone here admires those who are in great shape.

That's not quite true. I mean, have you ever listened to people who live here?

For one thing, some regard all physically fit individuals as preachy and self-righteous. That's not true, of course. They aren't. But for those couch potatoes who have endured time around shockingly lean exercise evangelists, it can be “guilty until proven innocent” sort of thing.

Sure, some who are not in tip-top shape might be jealous of those who are. But at the same time, those in the former group might argue that there's more to life than calibrating minuscule body-fat.

There's really a pretty simple way to look at this.

You go to your church, I'll go to mine.

Slice Blog reader challenge

Come up with a bad idea for a new business in the Spokane area.

I'll start.

A ferry system designed to get you and your vehicle across the Spokane River.

I dare you to top this Luddite hat trick

I've never played a video game.

I have never used an ATM.

I am not on Facebook.

Believe me, I could go on. I'm not bragging. I just shake my head when I hear characterizations of universal experiences or choices that simply are not universal.

But I'm told that times change. And, in fact, I am reviewing my policy about one of the three on the list above.

Maybe you have your own list.

“Daddy, what’s erectile dysfunction?”

I wonder how many times kids or grandkids have asked that question while an NFL game is on TV.

It used to be that pro football existed to sell beer and trucks. Now you can't even flip by a game without seeing a commercial for a certain kind of performance enhancing pills.

OK, I realize that is hardly an original observation. But I wondered how many people would click on this in the hope of seeing bath tubs.

“None of your damn business”

I'll bet someone, at some point, has written that on the form Spokane County sends potential jurors in response to the question about membership in organizations or associations.

The Internet proves useful

You can really help an elderly person you know by tracking down recent online obituaries written about one of his or her far-away friends. It explains why that friend hasn't called or written in a while.

It's sad, but at least it's an answer.

The future has been penciled in

After I got a haircut on Saturday morning, the woman who cuts my hair confirmed my monthly appointments through February.

So I guess there's no turning back now — 2014 is coming.

Do you have any 2014 appointmets already scheduled?

This date in Slice history (1995)

Not even close: A senior criminal justice major at WSU was in a class taking notes on a lecture about specific acts of juvenile delinquency. And when she glanced at a friend's notes, she saw that her friend thought the instructor had said “foreign occasion” instead of “fornication.”

This date in Slice history (1994)

Today's Slice question (fill in the blank): The Inland Northwest is America's (your answer here) mecca. 

This date in Slice history (1995)

Today's Slice question: If Spokane and Coeur d'Alene were a married couple, what would people say about them behind their backs?

This date in Slice history (1996)

Not just a game: Joyce Fromhold's 8-year-old nephew, Jack Lally, refers to baseball's fall classic as the “World Serious.”

One way to look at it

Chances are, by the time a Soviet warhead could have obliterated Fairchild AFB in 1962, the bombers based there would have already been on their way to pose the utlimate question, “You want some of this?”

One of these two statements must be true

1. Baseball fans seated way the hell away from home plate who feel free to boo the umpire over his call of balls and strikes are out of their fricking minds.

2. Baseball fans have vision that is better than that of birds of prey.

Just wondering

Has anyone around here ever given directions this way?

“So you'll want to get on I-90. Keep going east. Get off at the Pines exit. If you find yourself in Boston, you've missed the exit and gone too far.” 

“I might be movin’ to Montana soon”

Can you name the guy who sang that?

And what was he going to do when he got to Montana?

Distance from Spokane, Wash.

I know you can barely make this out. Sorry. But I've always liked business cards/restaurant promotions with the “Distance from” list on the back. Wish I had some.

Have they already become extinct?

This date in Slice history (1997)

Tough love: Bonnie Alberts' daughter was excited about learning that she had been preapproved for a Sterling Savings Visa card. But seeing as how she is only 9, her mom told her she couldn't send off for it.

Food truck dress code

So I am standing with a friend next to a food truck parked near 1st and Washington.

We're waiting for our orders.

A young guy in a maroon sweatshirt and jeans approaches. The woman inside the truck sees him coming and makes a face. A disapproving face.

See continues looking at him and says, “You couldn't take a shower or something?”

He shrugs.

Good grief, I think. Since when do you have to dress up to patronize a taco truck?

In Spokane, no less.

But the woman in the window of the truck explains. “He's my little brother. It's my job to give him a hard time.”

You know the story, of course

But you might not have seen one of these.

Playing here wasn’t his claim to fame

According to something I read, Roberts was the Pittsburgh Pirates' first black player. His stop in Spokane would come after his relatively brief major league playing days.

Retinal-burn rays from a Death Star?

No, that's just the seasonally adjusted angle of the sun.

Forget summer. Now is when you really need your sunglasses.

Shields up. 

This date in “Seinfeld” history

A remarkable episode called “The Little Kicks” first aired on Oct. 10, 1996.

George finagles an invite to Elaine's office party and, along with everybody else, is horrified to see her dance.

One of Elaine's co-workers is attracted to George when she gets the idea that he is a “bad boy.”

Jerry gets roped into taking part in a movie bootlegging operation, the film in question being “Death Blow.”

The episode concludes with Elaine and George's father about to come to blows.    

“A natural, zesty enterprise”

The Slice Blog has a friend who thinks that, when we're good and tired of “Near nature…”, the expression above should become Spokane's new civic slogan. 

The future of television

There was an interesting discussion on the PBS NewsHour last night about the future of television.

David Carr of The New York Times and Ken Auletta of The New Yorker were the guests.

They were talking about some of the ways viewers today can avoid watching advertisements. And Carr said, semi-seriously, “If you still watch commercials, you're a loser — right?”

Or something like that.

So, let me ask you. Do you still watch commercials? 

When you were in the 5th grade…

…which of the state capitals did you have the hardest time remembering?

This was Brian Wilson’s wake-up song

At least that's what I have read. And that he broke it down note by note — instrument by instrument, voice by voice — until he really understood what Phil was doing.


If that doesn't get you going on a Thursday morning, try this.

Imaginary soccer passes

I wonder who around here is the oldest person to make believe it's game on when kicking a horse chestnut on the sidewalk.

A sincere Slice Blog salute

To all those who patiently deal with those who cannot remember that they cannot remember.

Tim O’Doherty’s touch football rules

There are several. But you can find one of my favorites in tomorrow's Slice column.

The Wednesday Slice question

When speaking of directions, locations and areas within Spokane, has anyone ever said “Up South”?

No. 1 song on this date in 1967

For a short time, when I lived in Memphis, I lived next door to the lead singer's sister.

And when we were dating, my wife-to-be and I used to go a restaurant run by another member of The Box Tops (the guy in the yellow and olive top).

That's what I think of when I hear that song on an oldies station.

3 Things I Didn’t Think About in My 20s

Cooler temperatures tame garbage barrel odors.

Jumping on a pile of leaves involves an element of risk.

Couches don't last forever.

Time travel in the classified ads

Lins Dorman saw something odd in the SR Legal Notices this morning.

There is an ad noting an election for mayor and a couple of council positions in Stateline, Idaho.

The ad says the election will be Nov. 3, 2009.

Dorman wonders if this means Stateline is simply four years behind the times or if people there just prefer living in the past.

I have to admit, I was not aware that there were elected offices in Stateline.

I have a call in to Kootenai County elections manager Carrie Phillips and will update this when I know more.

But if the good people in Stateline have invented time travel, this could be a big story.

UPDATE: Carrie Phillips called me back. Yes, she said, there are elected positions in Stateline.

Her theory about the ad? Some old election-notice boilerplate didn't get updated before being submitted to run as a classified.

Lost future collectibles

“When I was in high school I started surreptitiously buying issues of a new men's magazine called Playboy,” wrote Ted Redman. “I built up quite a collection which I kept for over 20 years.”

Until the incident.

“My wife and I came home from work one day and found them chewed up and strewn all over the living room floor (along with a large rubber plant and all the dirt from the pot it had been in).

“Our German shepherd had had a most entertaining day.

“So all the debris got trashed. I think the issue featuring Marilyn Monroe and maybe a few others are highly sought after today.”

Which driver do you fear more?

The drunk or the texter?

Or the drunk texter?

How’s that again?

A friend and his wife tried a new restaurant.

“As the hostess seated us she asked if it was our first time there. We said it was and she proceeded to explain 'we are a tapas restaurant.'”

My friend thought she said “topless.”

“She must have noticed my quizzical look becasue she added 'we serve small plates.'”


“Perhaps my hearing is going or maybe it's just all the talk about Spokane's bikini baristas.”

You and your electronics

Is this the relationship?

Illegal tender

The grocery cashier saw a photo on the newspaper I was buying. It showed the new $100 bill about to go into circulation.

I asked her if anyone had tried to pass a bad bill at her store.

Yes, she said. “It was a sad story.”

It seems an old man who might not have all his wits about him was given an obviously fake fifty in payment of a debt. And, not realizing it was counterfeit, he tried to use it at the grocery store.

Apparently, he didn't wind up getting into any real trouble. But still, he was out 50 bucks. And the cashier hinted that he probably could not afford a hit like that.

Operator cluelessness

Ever borrow a car with whch you are unfamiliar and soon realize you don't know how to operate something seemingly simple such as the lights, wipers or emergency brake?

Let me be the first to raise my hand.

Coming in Tuesday’s Slice column

Spokane fall folklore from The Old Slice Almanac.

When skiers start telling injury stories

It can get pretty graphic in a hurry.

So just be prepared to take a step back and wince.

My favorite local yard-sale classified ad

Began this way: “Meet George Jetson.”

Waiting for the new normal

Going back to the previous century, certain Spokane households have been hearing “We are experiencing higher than normal call volume” when phoning a certain cable TV provider to discuss a service issue.

Re: 1960s Disney nature shows

Did the gentle approach of those programs poorly prepare you for the utterly merciless reality of wildlife feeding on other wildlife?

Not to mention other horrors.

I don't recall “The Wonderful World of Color” ever showing us one baby bird chucking a smaller sibling out of the nest to improve its own chances of surviving. This list goes on.

Just wondering

In your experience, roofers, painters and others working outdoors seem to prefer what sort of music?

Naming a new superhero

So I'm walking into an assisted living community near Sacred Heart.

I'm carrying a 12-pack of toilet paper.

A guy who works there sees me and notices what I have under my arm.

“TP Man,” he says.

I smile. I've been called worse.

In fact, I sort of like the sound of it. Makes me think of a lesser comic-book hero.

But let's not speculate about what TP Man's super powers might be.

This date in Slice history (1996)

Today's Slice question: How can you tell when you have enough wood to see you through winter?

Political enmity is nothing compared to…

The way some people in Spokane feel about those who use leaf-blowers.

Luggage personalizing strategy

“My husband puts a big duct tape cross on the side,” wrote Mina Mittelstaedt of Reardan.

She said it serves a double purpose.

“If we need to patch anything we can peel it off and use it, and it is great identification. We buy cheap suitcases so don't mind the mark the tape leaves. Also, it looks tacky and we've never had anything stolen.”

Coming in Saturday’s Slice column

There's an item prefaced with a “You might not want to read this if you are eating breakfast” warning.

That's on the level. There is a grossness factor in a story shared by a longtime reader.

But I have my doubts about whether that heads-up actually makes the squeamish avert their eyes.

I mean, wouldn't you be MORE apt to read the item if you saw that?

Of course, another option for me would have been to not print that item. But I like the story. And sometimes that trumps other considerations.

Saturday Evening Post from 10/4/52

As has been noted, early October used to be World Series time.

But would they really have brought the paper up there with them?

Do you eat meals in front of the TV?

A) Of course. B) Yes. Am I supposed to feel guilty about that? C) No. At our home, mealtime is a lively roundtable discussion of current affairs and cultural trends. D) No, I eat in front of the computer. And, yes, there have been a few keyboard disasters. E) Yes, but if you are insinuating that those in my household have run out of things to say to one another I would invite you to go take a flying leap. F) Is there any other way to have meals? G) I live alone. What do you think? H) Other.  

Feedback of the week

Came in to find an email from an early-rising reader of today's Slice column.

She objected to my use of the classic expression “I'll give you something to cry about.”

She said that sounds like I am advocating child abuse.

I quickly deleted the email so I would not have a chance to stew about it and then write back to tell her what I thought of her feedback.

On “TZ” 50 years ago tonight

That's Lee Marvin pretending to be a robot boxer. The automated fighter he manages has broken down. So, in order to get paid, he steps in and pretends to be an android pugilist.

The scene is from an episode of “TheTwilight Zone” called “Steel.” It's set in the future — 1974.

It first aired on Oct. 4, 1963.

Would you check this out?

A) No. I'm angry enough already. B) Yes. I enjoy being reminded that Wall Street's lobbyists and their purchased politicians have managed to convince a lot of people that it's those on the bottom rung who are sucking our nation dry. C) No. My cable news channel says Robert Reich is a Communist. D) I mostly watch sports. E) Is it legal to question the motives of the wealthy? F) Other.

Things that started on 10/3 include…

“The Dick Van Dyke Show,” which first aired on Oct. 3, 1961.

I have a younger co-worker named Lynn who knows more about this show than anyone else her age.

New employee at Dodson’s downtown

Maybe new “member of the family” would be more accurate.

In any event, those stopping by the venerable jewelry store can now meet Daisy, a Portuguese Water Dog puppy.

“She is cuter than the law allows,” a friend told me.

Looking ahead to office holiday parties

Last year, after I threatened to accept an invitation to attend an office Christmas party at a downtown Spokane advertising agency, something happened.

The bosses there realized that I might actually show up. So they decided to cancel plans for the on-site festivities and instead flew the entire staff to Las Vegas. They had the party there.

Hey, I know when I'm not wanted.

So what are they going to do this year? I have no idea.

But perhaps if I go ahead and declare my intention to show up at the 2013 Christmas party, the bosses will decide to fly everyone to Paris. Or something.

So I am making my intentions clear and official: I'm coming.

I figure it's the least I can do for the good people who work there.

This is not an Idaho politician

It is a restaurant on Spokane's South Hill.

But for some around here, it is what first comes to mind upon reading or hearing references to a guy named Luna in Idaho.

Gonna need a bigger sleeping bag

Was looking for photos of old-timey sleeping caps when I came across this.

Dry, itchy skin season is coming

So remember to avoid alienating your loved ones.

You just might need them to scratch your back. 

Has definition of “Christian” changed?

In everyday use, is the word now freighted with implications and connotations that simply were not assumed when you were a kid?

Sounds local, but it’s not

In what film noir classic is reference made to the Lilac Court Apartments?

If you were born on this date in 1979

This was the No. 1 song on the radio when you reported for duty.

This date in Slice history (1997)

Today's Slice question: Which personality type is more annoying to be around for extended periods — someone spilling over with knowledge of pop culture trivia or someone who recognizes zero pop culture references?

Fighting and Spokane Chiefs attendance

If fighting in the WHL was reduced by about 90 percent, what would be the impact on attendance at Spokane Chiefs games?

What movie character said this?

“I'm a Medford man. Medford, Oregon. And if I say it, I mean it. And if I mean it, of course I'll swear it.”

The Wednesday Slice

No sense denying it.

There are plenty of Washington residents who do not care for apples.

Sure, it seems wrong. You might think someone who lives in this state ought to crave the crunchy sweetness of a Honeycrsip or savor the tart snap of a Granny Smith.

But, shocking as it might seem, some Washingtonians are blase about apples. The reasons vary.

Maybe it was a simple matter of too many mushy disappointments 20 years ago. Perhaps it's a case of not enjoying shards of apple skin wedged between incisors like a paper cut in your mouth.

Not everyone enjoys doing an impression of a beaver chomping on a log.

And maybe the flavor, lacking high-fructose corn syrup, is unrecognizable as a snack to those raised on chemical sweetness.

OK, some of those concerns can be addressed by peeling and slicing. But that would mean time away from your smartphone.

It's probably nuts to assume that Washington residents ought to be enthusiastic about apples just because the fruit has long been an iconic state symbol. If an apple doesn't do it for you, there's no sense feeling guilty about it.

Still, it seems like a disconnect.

Perhaps the best we can hope for is that those who are indifferent to the charms of a Fuji or Pink Lady at least have the decency to affect the air of an apple snob when visiting relatives in other states.

“Bob, you're from Washington, you'd probably like an apple.”

“Why yes, I would. But what's that insipid piece of fruit in your hand? Please take it away.”


Today's Slice question: What's your favorite variety of apple?

People Who Once Lived in Spokane

The list includes…David Lynch. Did you think it was Khrushchev?

This is the Time cover from Oct. 1, 1990.

Tried losing weight with co-workers?

Rick Rhodes, an employee of the state of Idaho, is part of a 12-person collective weight loss effort.

He and his colleagues have not been at it all that long. But they have dropped about 110 pounds so far.

How would a similar campaign go over at your workplace?

The hell of living near the new school

I ride by the new Jefferson Elementary every afternoon.

Most days I hear the happy sound of children at recess. You know, laughing and singing. The kids all but bubble over with energy and joy. 

How unbearable that must be for the school's NIMBY neighbors.

Did you inherit your sports fandom?

Or did you latch on to a certain team all by yourself?

Of course, it might be that you simply do not care about sports. In which case, you must find yourself having to do a lot of tuning out these days. Baseball, football and hockey are going great guns and basketball practice has started.

Who represented Eastern Washington…

…in Congress when you were born or when you moved to this area?

That's a heck of a hairline for a guy his age.

Does Kris Crocker have new duties?

An emailer wonders if the longtime KXLY weather personality has become a special-features reporter at Channel 4.

I don't know. I suggested that my correspondent contact the station and ask.

But perhaps someone reading this has the answer.

If you moved here from a flat place

You might still remember how exotic it seemed to hear mountain-pass weather reports.

Traction tires advised.

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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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