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The Slice

Archive for January 2014

Sports Illustrated cover — 1/31/66

Admit it. You were expecting another swimsuit cover, weren't you?

Ah, well, That's life. Sometimes you want Cheryl Tiegs and get Stan Mikita instead.

You may quote me.

Apparently things were different in 1934

Oh, there are still adventures now and then. But way fewer hats.

Scary Women Dept.

If you heard someone refer to the Spokane TV news reporter who looks like a “crazy-eyed ex-wife,” would you know who the speaker was talking about?

Safety tips from second graders

Carol Nelson, who teaches at Atlas Elementary in North Idaho, shared a few pieces of advice from her pupils.

1. “Never kick a rock.”

2. “Don't cut your own hair.”

3. “Never eat a pufferfish.”

Casual Friday lives on

Of course, it never really went away. People just stopped talking about it.

Meanwhile the march of 24/7 casual continued.

How would you rearrange this living room?

What's with that chair back over by the door?

Just wondering

How many Inland Northwesterners look forward to shoveling snow because they enjoy the exercise?

Sometimes Seattle is hard to love

Here's the Slice column from this day in 2006. There's something about this first item that caught my eye. 

Translating can be fun

Especially if you do not know German.

OK, I'll take a shot at it.

“Perry Mason and the Case of the Slipped Slip.”

Life with LinkedIn

The online business-contacts network regularly sends me reminders to congratulate people on their start-date anniversaries here at the SR.

One problem. Some of the people named left the paper years ago, and not always in the happiest circumstances.

Just wondering

If downtown Spokane had monthly “Final Friday” celebrations, what would the event involve?

Can you identify this?

“Sorry girls, he's married.”

Worst time to go grocery shopping?

You know, between now and Sunday afternoon.

Anytime Saturday has the potential to be a melee. But perhaps Sunday morning could be even worse.

Which means today and Friday might be the time to head to the store. Of course, if everyone has that idea…

What's your plan?

One question trivia quiz

Where did the Aug. 7, 1976 preseason game between the Seahawks and the Chicago Bears take place?

The No. 1 song 30 years ago

I liked this song well enough the first trillion times I heard it. After that, I was ready to hear Van Halen's “Jump” (the song that eventually replaced it as No. 1) a time or two.

The makings of a moron

And other uplifting themes…here is the Slice column that appeared on Jan. 30, 1998.

This date in “Twilight Zone” history

An episode called “The Fever” first aired on Jan. 29, 1960.

Grumpy old guy's wife wins a trip to Las Vegas.

Begrudgingly, he accompanies her.

But then he starts playing the slots.

And well, you know what they say.

What happens in Las Vegas stays in Las Vegas.

“Spokane Nice”

How do you react when you encounter that expression?

A) I know it's a put-down. I know that it suggests phony, surface-level friendliness that covers up deep suspicion and mistrust, but I just don't think it is especially true here. B) I think the speaker or writer probably isn't aware that it is a blatant rip-off of “Minnesota Nice,” which has been around for 40 years. C) I know some define it as forced hyper-collaboration that winds up preventing anyone from having the power to make a decision, but I don't see it as a real problem here. D) I scoff. Spokane has its problems, but people worrying too much about hurting others' feelings isn't one of them. E) Those who say that are the same people call Spokane a Cow Town. What cows? Where? When? F) Yes, of course, We're the only place where there is some insincerity built into social interactions. G) Other.

Coors will not be welcome at his place

“I wonder if others are banning Colorado beers from their Super Bowl parties,” wrote my friend, Jeff Jordan.

The Wednesday Slice question

How did you manage to crack the screen on your portable Internet device?

I wonder if I hold some kind of record

Over the years, I have attended GU men's basketball games in Flagstaff, Salt Lake City, Oakland, Cheney and at the Spokane Arena.

But I have never seen a game at Gonzaga's on-campus home court — either the current facility or its predecessor.

(I'm OK with that, by the way. My sports attention span grows shorter every year. Sitting through an entire game does not hold the appeal for me it once did.)

So anyway, can anyone top five game sites in this admittedly arcane category?

You make the call

Basketball players who unnecessarily add degrees of difficulty to uncontested dunks — spin-o-rama moves or whatever — are engaging in…

A) Self expression. B) Good clean fun. C) Pure showboating that would have rightly gotten their asses benched back in the day. D) A demonstration that they do not understand the nature of the competition (there are no style points). E) Other.

Where were you in 1984?

And what were you doing?

Do you root for Spokane High Owls?

As the school is in Missouri, I'm guessing you probably don't.

What’s your standard for a standing O?

Or do you follow the herd when it comes to standing ovations?

Just wondering

How many people in Spokane are related to a past Lilac Queen and do they consider themselves to have royal blood?

What if the Lilac Queen was also a character in “Game of Thrones”?

Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue 1974

This is the Jan. 28, 1974 issue of the magazine. The model, Ann Simonton, went on to promote a variety of feminist causes.

Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue 1975

The date on this magazine is Jan. 27, 1975.

I was a teenage SI subscriber at the time. This cover did not offend me.

“Friday on My Mind”

Re: the song lyric referred to in today's Slice column.

Here's the story.

Here are the lyrics.

And here's the song. Sources providing lyrics disagree about whether it is “Monday I'll have Friday on my mind” or “Monday, I have Friday on my mind.” So you can listen and decide for yourself.



When you purchased toilet plungers…

…did you ever do so with a teenager in tow?

To what extent did that young person make sure to pretend that he or she was not with you?

No. 1 song on this date in 1965

She had been a big deal in England decades before this. 

Is this true in your neighborhood?

People on my block are really good about walking misdelivered mail to its proper destination.

That's probably fairly common. But you never know these days.

There might be neighborhoods around here where correcting the mail carrier's mistakes would be considered getting involved in an intrusive federal program.

This movie turns 30 this spring

Sort of hard to believe, even if you have seen “All Is Lost” and realize Mr. Redford is not frozen in time.

Which was your favorite Roy Hobbs home run?

The one that shatters the clock?

The one that turns the lights into a prolonged fireworks display?

Or was it the time he knocked the cover off the ball (even if that was not a home run)?

Expletive deleted

Have you experienced this yet?

You pull up to refuel your car and just as soon as the gas pump is activated a small but loud TV built right into the pump comes on and begins assaulting you with frenetic inanity.

The future is already here and there are not enough “mute” buttons.

You be the young journalist

OK, here is a purely hypothetical situation. After reading, please select the proper course of action.

It's 1977 and you are fresh out of college, working as a general assignment reporter for $140 a week at a small daily newspaper. Let's call it The Arizona Daily Sun, in Flagstaff.

Someone who knows the publisher calls him and suggests the paper cover an upcoming meeting of self-impressed gasbags. The publisher passes this along to the managing editor. The managing editor assigns you to cover the meeting.

You show up at the appointed time and place. You quickly realize no one is about to commit news.

It's just a bunch of self-important twits who think their meandering brainstorming is brilliant.

This goes on for what seems like hours.

Suddenly a fire truck rumbles by outside, siren blaring.


A) Continue listening to the verbal masturbation and pretend to take notes. B) Stay put and wish someone had invented the smart phone. C) Ignore fire truck and fight with all your might to stay awake. D) Start drafting the story in your head, making sure to get words like “groundbreaking,” “visionary” and “launched” into the first couple of paragraphs. E) Mutter something about having to find out where that fire truck is headed and make a mad dash for freedom, never to return.

(Hint: E is not — I repeat, NOT — the correct answer.)

Sports Illustrated swimsuit cover 1977

This is the issue dated Jan. 24, 1977. Pretty modest, isn't it?

I love the idea of someone coming up with “Zowie, it's Maui!”

“What do you think, Phil?”

“Sounds good. Let's go with it.”

Song she brang to me

Happy birthday to Neil Diamond. He's 73.

Have a favorite song?

I'd have to go with “Cracklin' Rosie.”

You are welcome to say “Sweet Caroline,” but perhaps that song could use some rest.

No, he didn’t play in Spokane

Yes, Moon was a longtime Dodger. But he started out in the Cardinals' organization.

If he had put in a AAA stint here, perhaps some kind soul in the Lilac City would have taken him aside and spoken to him about the unibrow.

“Uh, Wally. Got a second?”

A warning

If you decide to watch this charming old movie, be prepared to stumble about your home for several days mumbling lines from the catchiest of catchy songs.

“See the baby.”

“See the baby.”

“See the baby.”

“See the baby.”

“A-a-men, a-men, a-men.”   

Battle of the Lindsey Buckingham hits

Which song did you like better — “Trouble” or “Go Insane”?

Should I be on Facebook?

Almost four years ago, I might have tipped my hand about my opinion of Facebook when I wrote this:

But last year, after The Slice Blog got briefly embroiled in what came to be known as “Anal-gate” (you had to be there), I had a conversation with SR editor Gary Graham.

I said there had to be better ways to generate additional web traffic and that I was thinking I probably ought to do Facebook. He said that could be a good idea but stressed that it was up to me.

I subsequently asked SR web maven Gina Boysun if she would help me set it up. She said that she would.

So I decided Facebook would be something to tackle in 2014.

Well, almost a month of the new year has gone by. And I have yet to take the plunge.

I have my reasons, plate-spinning issues among them. It seems silly, though, to let those objections keep me from potentially connecting with new readers.

Still, before I do anything rash, I wonder if any of those who read this blog have thoughts or advice about what my Facebook policy ought to be.

An annoying panhandler

In the summer after my sophomore year in high school, my friend Jim Wolvington and I had a plan.

We were going to work hard and make a lot of money painting houses.

We placed a classified ad in the Burlington (Vermont) Free Press and got a few nibbles. But pretty soon, problems emerged with our business plan. And Jim got a job at a little marina on Lake Champlain.

After confiding to my parents that I was afraid of wasting the whole summer, it was decided that I would fly out to California from Vermont and spend a few weeks with my sister's family. Maybe I would get a summer job out there.

When I arrived at LAX, I actually stopped to talk when a Hare Krishna hailed me. He must have spotted me as someone who just fell off the maple syrup truck.

I listened and accepted one of his books. But when he mentioned that it was customary to offer a donation, I promptly handed the book back and strode off toward a slightly wiser future.

Anyway, I found myself thinking about that the other day. A teenage con man dressed a bit like a clown spoke to me outside the STA Plaza. I don't remember exactly what he said. I wasn't really listening.

This kid's act made 1970s-style mimes seem jaded in comparison.

As I approached my bus to climb aboard, he said to my back “You dropped it…you dropped it!”

I turned around. He greeted me with the sort of fake-beatific expression that used to make people want to punch hippies.

“Your smile!” he said.

I gave him a decidedly uptight look that apparently persuaded him not to ask me for spare change. (From my seat inside the bus, I watched him pester other people, though.)

I thought about that Krishna from so long ago, and about how much I preferred his schtick.

At least he was selling something. Sure it might have been a bogus, cultlike spirituality. But even that is more substantial than free-range gimmee-some-money goofiness.

Out my bus window, I saw some hulking guy look like he was about to belt Clown Boy. And lo and behold, I found my smile.

Please see Aug. 17

Though, it doesn't show up on some other lists I occasionally consult. Perhaps you know. Did it actually take place?

First record album I ever purchased

It is my understanding that I was not alone.

My excuse for posting a photo of that album cover for the umpteenth time? I never tire or seeing it, and assume at least a few Slice Blog readers feel the same way.

If you live in Washington, you reside in a state where they performed.

“More thrilling than tomorrow’s headlines”

I need to speak to the SR's headline writers. Remind them to be aiming for thrilling.

One thing about setting radio on scan

You hear some stations you might not ordinarily check out.

That must be how, years ago, I came across this Christian pop song. I liked it then. I like it now.

What have you discovered when you set the radio tuner to bounce from station to station?

You be the editor

SR reader Jack Thompson has seen more coverage of “Knights of Badassdom” than he requires.

Tomorrow in The Slice column

Remembering a Jan. 23, 1999 story about something that never happened.

Dangerous intersections

This is what readers thought in The Slice column appearing on this date in 1996. See the second item.

What if…

How would sports fandom be different in the Northwest if, like in Wisconsin, Washington's pro football team was based far away from the big city?

Just wondering

How exacting are you about positioning the trash/recycling barrels in precisely the right spot on pickup day (or the night before)?

A) I'm not anal about it, if that's what you are thinking. B) What have you heard? C) I fuss with the barrels for about 30 seconds. D) I can tolerate a weekly variance up to a quarter-inch. E) Well, there's a right way of doing something and a wrong way. F) It depends on whether any neighbors might be watching me. G) I roll them out without giving it a thought. I'm not the guy who sweats that stuff. I'm really not. H) Other.

Battle of the Mark Knopfler film scores

“Local Hero” vs. “The Princess Bride.”

You declare the winner.

This week on “Twilight Zone” in 1964

In an episode called “Number 12 Looks Just Like You,” we get a glimpse of the future that suggests conformity is prized above all.

Trivia bonus: What is the connection between this TZ episode and the film version of “To Kill a Mockingbird”?

A junior high classic lives on

The outbound STA No. 43 hadn't even gotten out of downtown yesterday afternoon when a car pulled in front of the bus so sharply that the bus driver braked and applied his horn lightly.

Another passenger, a guy standing up near the front, brayed that the situation demanded a stronger response. He recommended a certain hand gesture.

The driver didn't seem to pay much attention.

But about 10 minutes later, as I was about to get off at my stop, I said something like the following to the driver.

“I guess it wouldn't be very professional for you to flip off other drivers in traffic…and I suppose STA's administration wouldn't consider that good public relations.”

When I finally let him speak, he nodded and said “I can't even do a hidey.”

With that, he hunched over and flipped the bird toward the front window with this right hand while covering up the gesture with his cupped left hand.

I had not seen that since 7th grade algebra.

A hidey.

The great ones never die. 

“American Experience” and “War Letters”

I wonder how many of us who watched will have troubled dreams tonight.

When parents mess up your plans

It has been a long time.

He probably has his own family by now.

But there once was a little boy in Spokane named Joe.

He was the son of two SR colleagues of mine, Julie Sullivan and Jim Springer. (They moved to Portland many years ago.)

Anyway, Joe was a big Denver Broncos fan. And when a Super Bowl Sunday rolled around that involved the Broncos, Joe had one simple request.

He wanted to be allowed to wear his football helmet to church.

This request was denied. And though I cannot recall for sure, I suspect the Broncos lost because of it.

The Jim Kershner quandary

My former colleague is a Denver Broncos fan. Has been for a long time.

But he used to live in suburban Seattle and I presume his Mariners fandom spilled over to the city's NFL team.

Do you know anyone in a similar circumstance? 

If you turn 30 today

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

Each year around this time

I think about the space shuttle Columbia disaster and about some things astronaut Michael Anderson said near the end of this story, which ran before his first space shuttle flight five years earlier.

Wish everyone knew phonetic alphabet

Especially those spelling their names in phone messages.

B, C, D, E, G, P, T, V and Z sound alike, as you know.

But Bravo, Charlie, Delta, Echo, Golf, Papa, Tango, Victor and Zulu, well, those come through loud and clear.


“Bonanza” vs. “The Big Valley”

Which series is better to watch as reruns decades later?

Let's assess.

“Bonanza” had a winning theme song.

“The Big Valley” had Barbara Stanwyck.

Sometimes a little bit of Little Joe went a long way.

Nick Barkley's hot temper could get old.

“Bonanza” sometimes did comedy pretty well.

“The Big Valley” had Linda Evans. (Which could be considered a pro or a con.)

“Bonanza” had Dan Blocker, who played a character with the best name in TV Westerns.

The Virginia City in “Bonanza” was home to slightly more nut jobs than Stockton in “The Big Valley.”

Both shows invited you to root for a powerful, rich family.

The life expectancy of young women who got engaged to boys from either the Cartwright or Barkley families tended to be alarmingly short.

Silas was not as ridiculous as Hop Sing.

After watching “Deadwood,” they both seem a bit like “Teletubbies.”

How do you plan to spend MLK Day?

I suppose that, to an extent, it depends on whether you have the day off. 

Planning your Sunday

If you don't care about football or TV commercials for pickups, beer and erectile aids, late tomorrow afternoon might be a great time to make your grocery run for the week.

Chances are, you will have plenty of elbow room in the store.

And when the cashier asks why you are not home watching the game, you can say…

A) “I wasn't aware that it was mandatory.” B) “I am a Communist.” C) “What game?” D) “Are you aware that the National Football League is a BS-spewing for-profit business that has convinced dupes like you that it is actually an important social movement?” E) “I've never rooted for Seattle teams. That just doesn't make sense to me. Ever heard the way people in Seattle talk about Spokane? But eventually I lost interest in even rooting against them.” F) “I try to avoid most major opiates of the people.” G) “What?” H) “I prefer bread and circuses.” I) “Why would I care about that?” J) “Not really into being a spectator.” K) “There are couch dwelling people in my home chanting DEE-FENSE…DEE-FENSE… so I thought this would be a lovely time to do some errands.” L) Other. 

Hanging offenses

And other readable stuff from the Slice column that appeared on this date in 2007.

What do you call it when…

…dense fog flocks trees and bushes with a white coating of frost?

(I know there are different names for this. I'm wondering what YOU call it.)

Spokane TV news anchors and Seahawks mania

Are the former genuinely fired up about the big game or do they simply feel that they have to come off that way even though they might not actually give a flying rip?

Could at least some of them be, you know, acting?

You make the call.

Victory lap

Sometime back in the 1960s, a Republican senator from Vermont was said to have suggested a way to extricate the U.S. from the quagmire of Vietnam.

Declare that we have won and get out, said George Aiken.

And it is in that spirit that I am today announcing that my one-man campaign to get various miscreants and parolees to stop riding bicycles on downtown Spokane sidewalks has been a total triumph.

You will not see anyone violate the civic ordinance prohibiting same ever again.

No need to thank me. It was my pleasure.

Theoretical beers and betting on sports

Because of losing sports bets, I have owed one of my colleagues, a hard-drinking page designer, several beers for years now.

We kept sort of a loose, running tab. No actual beers were exchanged.

But the other day I proposed that we go double or nothing on a Thursday night college basketball game. Had I lost, I would have owed him, well, I'm not really sure how many beers. Quite a few.

Alas, my team won. So I am out from under that crushing debt.

Will I quit while I am ahead? We'll see.

Have you ever had an ongoing wager that never really resulted in anyone being paid — at least not in any traditional sense?

Sort of reminds me of Bitcoin.

Cat of the day is from Idaho

One of the best views of the feline tongue I have seen.

Following up on KPBX promos

It turns out my concern that Spokane Public Radio was not going to promote its annual Recordings and Videos Sale in the usual antic manner was premature.

The KPBX Players have produced several entertaining promos.

All is right with the world.

Did you watch this?

What did you think?

Wonder how many viewers were too young to really recall the surreal Tonya and Nancy saga.

Talking points

1. Besides marshmallows, what do you approve of when it comes to adding something to hot chocolate?

2. Is there someone in your circle who has a voice that would be great on radio?

3. People enjoy it when you say, “I'd wrap him in cellophant.”

4. Discuss: Is there anything unusual about the bumper-sticker combinations one sees when driving in the Spokane area?

This week on “Dick Van Dyke” in 1964

A good-looking bachelor moves into the neighborhood and the Petries try to fix him up with a woman.

Rob's candidate is his co-worker, Sally. Laura pushes her cousin on him.

In the end, he doesn't wind up with either, and we learn that it is just as well. Turns out he has a history of hitting women.

I'm not making that up. It has to be one of the weirdest twists in sitcom history.

The episode was called “The Lady and the Tiger and the Lawyer.”

SI swimsuit issue on this date in 1965

OK, now that I have you, prepare yourself for one of The Slice Blog's all-time most insane stretches for a local angle.

This young woman, Sue Peterson, married Sports Illustrated staff writer Jack Olsen.

Jack Olsen went on to write a book about the South Hill rapist, “Son.”

Coming in Friday’s Slice column

Do you have your own Wikipedia page?

Choosing the music for your workplace

I had to pick something up at the downtown post office and this terrific song was playing back behind the service counter.

Reminded me that at some workplaces music is still a shared experience. At some places, where you have to be able to hear what a co-worker is saying, employees can't spend the day with ear buds in and listening to their personal choices.

But when the music or radio station is something everyone is going to hear, who gets to pick?

Take turns? Seniority? Anything but contemporary country?

A lot of people hated this story

Perhaps it was self-serving, but I told myself that some people who cling to a happy-face image of Spokane just can't handle the truth.

Thought we had a new SR blog

Read “Too Many Cooks” and thought it said “Too Many Crooks.”

This date on “thirtysomething” in 1990

Just as her children's book is published, Nancy learns she has ovarian cancer.

The episode was called “Another Country.”

 As a rule, I wasn't wild about Nancy and Elliot episodes. Well, except for the time Elliot's son asks “What's 69?” and Elliot answers, “That's the year the Met's won the World Series.”

The ones I most enjoyed revolved around life at the ad agency run by psycho Miles Drentell.

“Riding with the lifers”

A woman on an elevator in the Review Tower made that remark this afternoon when she realized the others riding with her were just returned from a luncheon honoring employees who have been at the S-R for 25 years or more.

No one said anything. But it seemed like a pretty good opening. So here's my belated response to her “lifers” line.

“Yeah, baby. We've got nothing to lose. So watch out.” 

Coming in Thursday’s Slice column

A child's critique of mom's cooking that has been treasured for decades.

Anyone reading this?

Your reaction?

As you know, both men visited Spokane.

Why parents choose private schools

There are lots of reasons, of course. But here are some theories. You make the call.

A) Private schools can kick out troublemakers. B) Understandable fear of public school student populations. C) Irrational fear of public school student populations. D) Belief that the academic programs are better. E) Listening to public school teachers' horror stories. F) A firm belief that society has gone to hell since the parents in question were public school students. G) Other.

The Wednesday Slice question

Is there such a thing as overall workplace morale or is employee happiness and satisfaction always an individual case-by-case matter?

Survey says

On this date in 2006, the Slice column reported on a reader survey. (Third item.)

Selling 8-track stereo with tight blouse

I actually think I remember this ad. I would have been about 15 when it came out.

Perhaps I am not alone.

Answering a young lady’s question

A) The boys you have been seeing are not worthy. Don't sweat it. B) It's the whole sexual favors thing. C) Nothing is wrong with you, Red. But why are you standing outside Blondie's window? D) Your ability to see what's behind you spooks some lads. E) Going steady is overrated. You are young. Enjoy experiencing new things. F) You have forgotten that, when running from bad guys in a wooded area, you are supposed to twist your ankle and fall. G) Other.

Guess when “Mandy” was No. 1

It was this week in 1975.

If you were too cool to admit that you sort of liked this, I understand.

What Spokane Chief was “Missing Link”?

He played here about 25 years ago. He was not a finesse player.

True or false

Some baby boomers remember a cartoon bad guy named Scablands Meanie.

Local TV news and jobs for hair stylists

Over the years, certain Spokane TV news folks have changed their hair styles so many times it is impossible to escape the conclusion that at least a few local salons owe their continued existence to these ladies.

What if you had resembled this woman?

That would have been swell.

“Hey! Aren't you the VD girl?”

How to make an ass of yourself

If someone reveals that she isn't altogether clear if something is a “Star Trek” reference or a “Star Wars” reference, act like this pop culture knowledge gap is a huge fricking deal.

Here’s your Morse Code translator

This could come in handy if you unexpectedly get hurled back in time.

(Turn your sound up.)

Did you watch this?

Do you have a review?

“Stepping stones to success”

Here they are, according to this extended Listerine ad produced in 1956.

Is it just me or does Mr. Cleanliness look a bit like the young Abe Lincoln?

Some interesting stuff at this site.

What music is stuck in your head today?

Me? It's an instrumental passage from a current car commercial.

I cannot recall the make or model. Seems like it is some version of an SUV.

It features an attractive young couple (the woman looks like she is about 19) and two school-age kids who get in the car and then go out and do outdoorsy stuff.

I think the sound I remember is guitar-driven. I suppose it might be redundant to say it's catchy.

Stealing from co-worker’s snacks stash

Choose your rationalization, in Tuesday's Slice column.

Name game, 1962 vs. 2014

In the 1962 movie “Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation,” there's a scene at a yacht club party where the dad played by Jimmy Stewart wants to encourage a boy to dance with his shy teenage daughter. (She is self-conscious about wearing braces.)

So he spots a group of likely lads and calls out, “Hey, Joe!”

One of the boys, played by Fabian, happens to be named Joe. So he goes over to see Mr. Hobbs, who subsequently explains that there's always a Joe in any crowd.

So here's the question. What name would a Mr. Hobbs call out in 2014?

At least 12 times a year

I rode my bike to work this morning.

Nothing remarkable about that, considering the temperature and street conditions.

But it does allow me to place a check mark next to January in my quest to bike commute at least one day in every month.

For most of the year, I ride my bike every day. But winter months can be iffy. (Don't tell me to get studded tires. My hilly route, the total darkness and frequency of black ice at my departure time are such that my wife would have me committed if I tried that.)

Anyway, this got me wondering.

Is there something you hope to do at least once each month in 2014?

(Let's just assume I am not talking about monthly physical cycles.)

Ticket prices back then always amaze

Even when adjusted for inflation.

Get ready to complain

Last time, the Winter Olympics were in our time zone.

That meant some things, such as the two entertaining U.S./Canada hockey games, could be watched live at a prime viewing hour.

This year, the people in charge of TV coverage from Russia will have some tough choices to make. The likelihood that they will make everyone happy is approximately zero.

It's not the first time this has come up, of course. But decades ago, you could sometimes avoid finding out how certain events turned out and then watch prime time replays with the sense of drama intact. For most, those days are gone.

DVR alert

Tomorrow night, the consistently watchable PBS series takes a look at the pivotal year of 1964.

Old enough to remember this show?

Say what you will about Mitch, he did not have a plastic, prepackaged look.

No, he was not the same person as Skitch Henderson.

If you were born on this date in 1969

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

Seemed like a good idea at the time

Quite a few years ago, I offered to print the names of Slice readers with January birthdays. The idea was to salute those whose birthdays sometimes get lost in the shuffle after the holidays.

Before it was all over, I had something like 600 names and devoted several columns to listing just some of them.

I guess those whose names appeared in those columns got a minor kick out of it. But I heard from a number of other readers who resented seeing The Slice temporarily turned into something about as a readable as a phonebook page.

Looking back, I can't blame them. It was a mistake.

Maybe I had been influenced by a story the journalist Russell Baker told in one of his books. Back when he was a young reporter at The Sun in Baltimore, there was an editor on the city desk who never tired of exhorting reporters to get a lot of names in their copy. So one day, a reporter turned in a fake story that began “Baltimoreans include…” and then consisted of several paragraphs of names drawn from the phone directory.

Here's the first installment of my 1998 week of names. Would you have read this?

Reality is finally beginning to sink in

So, it turns out Spokane doesn't really get to host the U.S. figure skating championships every other year.

When snowmen attack

An email from a friend arrived a few minutes ago with “snow” in the subject line.

“When our children were young we taught them not to stand outside and holler for us,” wrote Judy McKeehan. “So when we were at my parents' house and Matty (then about 8) was outside playing in the snow and kept hollering, 'Mom!', 'Dad!', Mike was really beginning to seethe. So he finally stomped outside.

“But he came back laughing. Matty had been trying to build a snowman and the body ball had rolled back on him and pinned him to the side of the house.”

Hey KPBX, where’s the wacky?

I never thought I would say this.

But I sort of miss the zany promotions KPBX used to do for the February recordings and videos sale.

Yes, some of them worked better than others. That's how it goes with attempts to be creative.

And, yes, listeners did occasionally find themselves thinking, “Ah, so this is where all the frustrated theater majors wound up.”

Still, those little productions could be diverting on a cold, dark winter morning.

This year, it seems Spokane Public Radio has opted for a no-nonsense approach — at least judging by the straightforward spots I have heard this week.

Sounds more professional, I suppose. But not quite so entertaining.

A ? to ask grandfathers at “Hello Dolly”

“Grandfather, is it true you had impure thoughts about Sally Struthers more than 40 years ago?”


Today’s Northwest trivia question

What long-ago Coug occasionally shows up on lists of all-time worst NFL coaches?

OK, I'll give you a hint. He coached the Rams (they were in Los Angeles then) and the Chargers. 

Brutal truth as bold new promo concept

A colleague who does not work on Fridays gave me a tip this afternoon.

He said something he had written for one of the weekend papers was not his best work. In fact, he said it sucked.

I don't believe him. But he urged me to skip reading the piece in question.

“That will give you a little extra time for your weekend,” he said.

The thought occurred to me that this could be a new approach to writing a promo. Maybe, once in a while, the editors who write teasers for upcoming features and columns could be given license to tell it like it is.

I like the editors I work with, but I have no doubt they could warm to this task.

In fact, I can imagine a few examples already.

“Today's Slice: Same old, same old.”

“Turner's column: I'd turn back if I were you.”

“The Slice: Thirteen inches on a two-inch idea.”

And so on. I'm sure SR readers would appreciate these professional advisories.

Of course, this is all pretty subjective. But there's no reason that could not be reflected as well.

“Coming Friday: Maybe it's just me, but tomorrow's Slice is a yawner.”

Bowling Shirt Friday has been postponed

So feel free to dress however you would like.

Hadn't heard about Bowling Shirt Friday? Not your fault. I failed to send out announcements.

If you see the Northern Lights tonight…

…what are going to do?

A) Howl at the sky. B) Do a little dance. Make a little love. C) Toast the heavens with strong libation. D) Go back inside and get ready for bed. E) Say it's nothing compared to what you saw back in…. F) Other.

A proposed city slogan

I don't know about you. But I would consider it a reliable sign that a city did not take itself too seriously if its slogan was “Send in the Clowns.”

Trivia question with Northwest connection

Can you name the TV series in which one of the characters had a radio show called “Chris in the Morning”?

Do you have a nickname for your purse?

I approached a young woman behind a counter at a Spokane Valley office building.

She asked that I give her a second while she tried to find something in her large purse. She said her husband refers to it as “the black hole.”

I offered that it probably contains a lot of useful stuff.

And she started to list the contents.

Slice Blog predicts: Montana 69, EWU 61

For recreational use only. Not a wagering guide.

Led Zeppelin set list at GU in 1968

Might have used that before. But the fact that it actually took place always strikes me as amazing, even if it was, as a Brit might say, early days for the band.

This issue used to come out in January

And it wasn't a bloated catalog of soft porn back then. It was just a dozen or so pages of soft porn.

As I have noted previously, the outraged letters a couple of weeks later were always a treat.

No. 1 song on this date in 1981

As you know, this was just a few weeks after he was murdered.

Another favorite vintage ad

The guy who came up with that slogan earned his pay that day.

Yes, I realize it could have been a woman.

Elvis movie characters as baby names

Hey, it's an option.

Here are some of the choices. Which is your favorite?

A) Scott. B) Jess. C) Steve. D) Joe. E) Chad. F) Clint. G) Toby. H) Deke. I) Vince. J) John. K) Pacer. L) Tulsa. M) Rusty. N) Lucky.

Or you could choose an Elvis character-name for yourself at work today and ask that colleagues address you as such.

I dibs “Deke.”

The Wednesday Slice question

How would Spokane be different today if Bing Crosby had come back to live here after becoming a star?

I’ll bet you didn’t know that…

…there is an elementary school in East Wenatchee named after Robert E. Lee. 

TCM channel salutes Elvis tomorrow

Wednesday is the late singer's birthday. TCM will be showing many of his films.

Is that a tribute or an indictment? You make the call.

Start planning your HAL 9000 party

In the movie, the famous computer's birthday is Jan. 12.

Asked and answered

Here's a snippet from The Slice column of Jan. 7, 1999.

Q and A: A caller asked why there's not an annual open house at Slice Headquarters.

That's Simple. Many readers would never get past security. 

One of my favorite vintage ads

And it's not just because Spokane is in the list of cities.

If your yard is covered in dog droppings

Today might be a good day to gather them up.

They would be frozen. And they aren't covered with snow.

Of course, if you regard the droppings as fertilizer you could stand pat. But at some point, a dog yard can become, well, that's up to you.

It’s the birthday of Paul Revere Dick

That's him on the right.

You know all about the band's Idaho connections, of course.

Things newcomers almost always notice

1. The extent to which the political leanings of the Seattle area are not reflected in this part of the state.

2. Saying and writing “North Idaho” instead of “northern Idaho.”


One indication newspapers are special

Name me another business that would do the equivalent of printing today's letter to the editor from my former colleague Karen Dorn Steele.

On “Ozzie and Harriet” 50 years ago

The week's episode of “The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet” was called “Rick and the Boat Model.”

Rick spends time — too much time? — helping his girlfriend's little brother build a model. Laugh-track hilarity ensues.

The actor who played the kid would go on to appear as Ernie Douglas in “My Three Sons.”

Though it had nothing to do with that episode, onetime band leader Ozzie Nelson performed at Nat Park.

No. 1 song on this date in 1973

Yes, now that you mention it. I have run that photo before. Your point? 

You didn’t stick to your resolutions?

Tuesday's Slice column will offer a few theories about why.

Recalling the holiday season

So this woman I know was in a stall in a church restroom just recently.

After a bit, another woman bursts into the restroom and exclaims, “That stinks!”

The woman in the stall is taken aback. She offers an apology, saying she is not feeling well.

Then the other woman clarifies her remark, saying she was referring to the incense being used during the service.

One difference between Canada and U.S.

Though there are people who care, the vast majority of Americans are not obsessed about who did and did not get named to the U.S. hockey team for the upcoming winter Olympics.

In Canada, from what I gather, media discussion about the makeup of their team is virtually inescapable and it has been going on for a long, long time.

Two kinds of people this morning

Those talking about “Downton Abbey.”

And those who aren't.

Three things

1. The problem with turning off the ringer on your portable phone is that, if you misplace it, calling that number to locate it doesn't work quite so well.

2. You know those movies where men get together for some sort of blowout before the inevitability of adulthood or death? Sure. Well, some of us find those films pretty easy to resist.

3. Does it feel to you as if today is the real start of the new year? 

Happy New Mexico statehood day

It happened in 1912, making the Land of Enchantment the 47th state.

OK, here are a few of my associations with the state. I'll start the list and you can finish it.

1. My grade school girlfriend in Ohio, Beth Buck, moved to New Mexico. We wrote for a little while. And then, well, you know.

Her father was an Air Force general. Once, at our grade school's science fair, he questioned me about my exhibit focusing on combat aircraft of World War II. As I recall it, I did a decent job of answering his questions.

2. When I worked in El Paso in the late 70s, I went to a Linda Ronstadt concert at New Mexico State University in nearby Las Cruces and wrote a review for my paper. Gushing praise, as I recall.

3. Visited Carlsbad Caverns. It's dark down there when they cut the lights.

4. My wife and I had a lifetime Top 10 breakfast in Santa Fe once about 20 years ago.

5. Once in Albuquerque, on the same trip, we were listening to the radio and some sort of community calendar was being read. The announcer alluded to “Toast and Jelly Days” — some sort of program for preschoolers, I think. We still use that expression.

6. Speaking of radio, one of my all-time favorite NPR stories was about Americans' lack of knowledge re: geography and how an alarming number of people are not certain New Mexico is part of the United States. Sort of puts the whole mispronouncing “Spokane” thing in perspective.

7. Even though I have seen it countless times, there are parts of “Ben-Hur” that still get to me.




Agree or disagree

Last night was a Top 5% Night in terms of being able to see the stars in the sky.

If you see Steve and Karen Heaps today

You will want to congratulate them on their 50th anniversary, which is tomorrow.

“Smitten then and smitten I remain after a half century,” said Steve.

Happy Alaska statehood day

Do you know what (order of admission to the union) number it was?

I spent a few hours in Ketchikan about 10 years ago. That left me with two states still to visit. How about you?

The secret to writing 2014 on checks

I don't actually have any tips. But I thought someone might have a strategy for remembering what year it is.

Wasn’t “The Postman” set in 2013?

Looks like that's one post-apocalyptic outcome we dodged.

But while we're on the subject, what was the deal with Kevin Costner playing characters who get approached by strangers in the hopes he will impregnate them?

Is that what the future will be like? I can tell you, that almost never happens to me.

It wasn't just in “The Postman.” It also happens in “Waterworld.” Though, in the latter, it's the father of a girl who approaches Costner's character with the request.

SR employees I would fire include…

Those who repeatedly demonstrate that they have not even a glanced at the newspaper that day.

OK, maybe I would put them on probation.

Alas, I am not in charge. And for a number of reasons I can think of, that is a good thing.

Trevor Donelan remains undefeated

I think it was back in late 2009 that I first bet Trevor Donelan a dollar that he could not stay up past midnight on New Year's Eve.

It became an annual wager.

Trevor, who is now 9 or 10, has won every year.

This time around I paid off in advance, giving his mother a shiny dollar coin on Tuesday to pass along. I offered to call off the bet and said the dollar could be presented in recognition of Trevor doing well in school. But his mom said he had already been practicing staying up.

So when I came in to the office this morning and checked my phone messages, one left just a few minutes into the new year was from Trevor. As he always does, he had called to cheerfully report that he was still up.

I don't begrudge him the buck. I feel like I am investing in a promising future.

Hate is a strong word

But the feelings my wife, mother-in-law and sister-in-law have for the forced-zany broadcast teams covering the Tournament of Roses Parade come close.

Stomach acid/tooth enamel erosion

If you throw up a lot or experience acid reflux, you probably ought to familiarize yourself with the implications for your oral health.

Hey, nobody said 2014 was going to be all roses and teddy bears.

A child’s guide to Super Bowl parties

Was talking to an editor about Super Bowl-themed stories I had done over the years.

Almost forgot about this one.

The temptation to nuke your email in-box

Maybe you thought you would get around to tidying it up before the end of the year.

Perhaps you believed you would find time to quickly reread each saved email before deleting.

But now it's 2014. And you still have an unmanageable backlog.

What will you do?

Conversation starters

1. How powerful is your shredder?

2. Ever have a moment of panic as a babysitter?

3. Is it just my imagination or does NBC seem especially intent on promoting winter olympians who are good-looking?

This date in Slice history (1995)

Spokane's self-image, New Year's Eve in Vietnam and the South Hill and North Side as separate cities.

Reasons you will pass on lake plunge

1. Does not sound like fun.

2. You have imagined people snorting at your obit.

3. Concerns about water quality.

4. News has not been good for polar bears lately.

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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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