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The Slice

Archive for July 2014

No. 1 song on this date in 1966

I read somewhere and found myself agreeing that this had a real garage-band sound.

My Top 100 favorite movie scenes

73.) In “Shane,” Chris Calloway (Ben Johnson) appears out at the ranch and warns Shane about an upcoming gunfight.

Shane (Alan Ladd) is understandably wary at first, the two men having recently engaged in a knock-down/drag-out fight. But after a bit, Shane realizes Calloway is on the level.

They exchange a few civil words. Then, as Calloway is leaving, they share one of the best moments in movie Westerns.

Shane: “Chris…Thanks.”

Calloway (A sincere smile taking over his face): “Be seein' you.”

These didn’t always come back

Sometimes boomerangs kept going straight toward a window or neighbor kid's noggin.

Men named Oscar

Are they, at long last, now able to go weeks without hearing someone sing “My baloney has a first name…”?

A theoretical conversation

A grandfather and his teenage grandson are watching sports on TV.

A commercial for a phone plan or some damn thing comes on. For about half a second, the image of a young Debbie Harry appears on the screen. The teenage boy perks up.

Grandson: Do you know who that was, Grandpa?

Grandfather: I do indeed. She was the lead singer for a band called Blondie.

Grandson: You had girls like that back then?

Grandfather: We did indeed.

Do your outdoor pets smell like smoke?

My neighbor's cat intercepted me in the front yard this morning when I went out to get the paper before 5 o'clock.

She wanted a breakfast snack.

I didn't get my nose close enough to her to get a good whiff. But if she had been out all night, I'll bet she smells like smoke.

Spokane trivia

Can you name the former Spokane TV news anchor who had a scene (playing a TV newsman) in “The Rockford Files”?

If you had been The Flash…

…how would you have used your super speed re: Iris West?

It doesn’t rain all the time in Washington

I wonder if some of those in other parts of the country who stumble onto news about the wildfires will be forced to update their uninformed assumptions about the Evergreen State's weather.

Half a dozen Fridays

Not counting today, that's all we have left before Labor Day.

Living in the city vs. out in the country

We all know the list of pros and cons for each choice. To each, his own.

But let me add one more in favor of living in the city — lemonade stands.

I have a little experience with urging people to seek therapy, but I am not actually a counselor myself. However, if I were a therapist, I would urge my clients to patronize kids' lemonade stands at every opportunity. It never fails to lift my spirits, and I'll bet many others feel the same way.

OK, it's not a long-term solution to chronic problems. But what would you expect for 50 cents?

No. 1 song on this date in 1984

Some people didn't like Prince because he seemed strange.

“The Palm Springs of Washington”

Or maybe it should be Palm Springses.

Did you know that both Yakima and Moses Lake have claimed that title?

Well, at least people putting up signs near each city have at one time or another.

Can't blame Moses Lake as its more traditional nickname isn't a promoter's dream.

Several of my favorite readers live there. Next time I correspond with one of them, I will have to ask how things are in the Palm Springs of Washington. I can hear the answer now.


Is that Cowsills song in the past now?

Or do visitors to this area near Pendleton still hear that it's a scene you should make with your little one?

Remember this restaurant?

You probably can't take your eyes off those cars.

Just wondering

When you were school age, did you ever have a year where you changed a lot between the end of classes in the spring and the start of the next grade in September?

Bouncing boobs on Spokane TV news

How much of that do you want to see?

A) The amount Q6 had on at 5 today is about all I need. B) Is it essential to telling the story? C) The human body is nothing to be ashamed of. D) I'm still not over the KXLY woman mugging with Sarah Palin and posting a photo on her Facebook page. E) If jiggle news gets to be too much, the viewer is free to avert his or her eyes. F) Other. 

Douse your bicycle with grizzly urine

On my ride home this afternoon a little dog I have seen countless times decided to bluff-charge me.

He or she shot out the front door, saw me on my bike and took aim.

I wasn't really worried. That proved to be the right reaction. I think the heat distracted the dog before it got close to me.

Anyway, I mentioned that (and the cordial exchange I had with the dog's owner) to my wife when I got home. And she wondered what I could carry with me on the bike to help repel unleashed canines.

At some point, one of us came up with the idea of slathering the bike in the manner alluded to in this post's headline.

WSU's vet school could sell the stuff to the Spokane cycling community, my wife said.

But all I could think of was what a sensory delight riding a bike covered with bear urine might be on a day as hot as today.

One-question local trivia quiz

What gathering of young people from across the country took place at Farragut State Park at the same time the Apollo 11 mission was underway in July of 1969?

Conversation that did not really happen

But should have.

“There's this new movie where Scarlett Johansson is given a drug that allows her to use 100 percent of her sweater.”

“Not sweater, brain. It's 100 percent of her brain.”


When someone says “Stay cool”

How do you react?

A) I recognize that the speaker is simply making small talk. B) I ask for strategy suggestions. C) I say “That's what SHE said.” D) I say something equally original such as, “Yeah, you too.” E) I say “What's that got to do with defending liberty?” F) Other.

You sort of had to be there

“What are you having there?”

“Beatle bar.”

“What do the Beatles have to do with ice cream on a stick?”

“It's a Beatle bar. They come in a box of four.”

“Oh, OK.”

On this date at Expo 74

Were you a Chicago fan?

The Wednesday Slice question

Considering all the varieties of American families in 2014, it seems fair to ask. Who around here will be attending the greatest number of family reunions this summer?

Just wondering

How many pet owners use the verb “slop” when referring to taking care of their animals? 

Undressed is not always erotic

My brother had “The Visible Man.” I think he had a few organs left over when he was done putting it together. Can't recall if any were what you would call “vital.”

Three celebs who had been to Spokane

I could be wrong about Audrey Hepburn, but I'm pretty sure she came through here during the making of “Always.”

How do you react to S-R endorsements?

You know, the editorials that offer recommendations on how to vote.

A) I take them with a grain of salt, as I do all political endorsements.

B) Depends on the race.

C) My agenda and the newspaper's agenda are quite different.

D) I would vote for whoever the paper told me to vote for, except I don't vote.

E) Other.

Just wondering

When you are setting up a first face-to-face meeting with someone at a public place, how do describe the way you look?

Possibly a new record

The little girl I overheard in the Albertsons on 37th just a few minutes ago might well be the youngest child I have ever heard say “Oh, my God.”

I suspect she first learned to speak this spring.

The mother didn't react. Something tells me she has said that exact thing a few trillion times herself. 

General assignment memories No. 19

Long ago and far away, I got assigned a story about a controversy at a local Catholic church.

It seems so innocent now.

It all started or at least came to a head when, during a Sunday sermon, a priest got annoyed about a crying baby.

Finally, the cleric said, “Will someone stick a banana down that kid's throat.”

The infant's parents did not care for that. And soon accusations were flying that the priest had a drinking problem.

Parishioners wanted him out. The diocese said, essentially, “Yeah, right.”

I can't recall how many stories I wrote about this. Not many. But at some point, I started describing the priest in print as “embattled.”

And so some of my colleagues began asking, “So what's the latest on the embattled Father Curry?”

I can't recall how it played out. But I just did an online search and saw that he died last year. There was no mention of the banana incident in the obit.

No. 1 song on this date in 1979

 Of course, you were not listening to Top 40 in 1979.

Multiple choice

If Tennessee Williams had set “A Streetcar Named Desire” in Spokane instead of New Orleans, what would the title of the play have been?

A) “A Streetcar Named Reliability.”

B) “A Streetcar Named Ennui.”

C) “A Streetcar Named Conformity.”

D) Other.

Agree or disagree

The Home Run Derby at baseball's All-Star game is a ridiculous event.

A 7-Up ad from 1962

What did you notice first?

A) The woman. B) The mower. C) Her hat. D) Other.

Just wondering

Do your friends and relatives in other parts of the country assume Washington residents can now buy pot at the grocery store? 

True or false

When a movie character played by Edward G. Robinson said “Where's your messiah now?” he was addressing some people who spend most of the summer complaining that it's not hot enough.

Sunday breakfast at home

Here's the question.

Can you whip up your usual weekend fare without turning on the oven?

No. 1 song on this date in 1969

Nobody was on the fence about this one. At least that's how I remember it.

Difference between commenters, trolls

Most online commenters, even high-volume commenters, are not thrice-divorced.

One newsroom certainty

Ask a colleague if he or she would like to see an entertainingly splenetic piece of hate mail and the answer will always be “Yes.”

Postures you seldom see in real life

Are 1960s beach movies the reason beings on other planets have not made themselves known to us?

What’s the lesson here?

A) Don't fly. B) You might or might not be nuts. C) Captain Kirk needs a drink. D) Some gremlins ought to try a different shampoo. E) Other.

As a favor to you

I'm not going to post a youtube version of the “Dr. Zaius” song from “The Simpsons.”

I just listened to it and know it will be stuck in my head all day.

“Dr. Zaius, Dr. Zaius….”

No reason anyone else has to share that burden.

Ever had salt water taffy?

Did it make an impression on you?

I'm quite sure I have asked that before. But at least once a summer I remember the time one of my aunts took me to Cape May and made a big deal about it.

I hope I was polite enough to seem enthusiastic about it.

The first Playboy I purchased myself

This is the August, 1969 issue. I was 14 and had a keen interest in short fiction and jazz reviews. And I was an occasional liar.

My family was visiting my grandmother in Whitehall, New York.

I spent most of my time there fishing, watching TV and messing around with NFL football cards.

But one day, while I was in the store where I bought football cards, I got an idea.

“This is for my dad,” I said as I placed the Playboy on the counter.

The scene of the crime.

The store in question, which undoubtedly closed long ago, was in the first floor of one of these buildings.

Will there ever come a time when…

…people will stop saying that they are shocked something awful could happen in their quiet neighborhood?

If you read this, please file a review

I would be interested in anything she has to say about the making of “In the Heat of the Night” and “Shampoo.”

If you were an employer…

…which would you regard as a firing offense?

A) Idiocy/astonishingly poor judgment on social media.

B) Parking in a prime space that a customer might have used.

C) Conduct similar to that of the marijuana guy.

D) Never shutting up about vacation plans.

“Superpussycat” (formerly Superman)

See the kryptonite cage. A dead giveaway that it's not an Earth cat.


Is Lois about to throw a hook or will she turn that punch into a straight right?

How do you get high?

Please answer in the form of a question.

Good-looking people gardening

Well, pretending to garden anyway. Ever seen the movie “Greenfingers”?

The Wednesday Slice question

Ever see a TV commercial so forehead-slappingly offputting that you were actually disappointed that you don't use the product or eat that brand of fast-food, thus depriving you of the pleasure of launching a one-person boycott at that very moment?

What’s the lesson here?

A) Don't believe everything you read. B) You are what you eat. C) The Donner Party probably could have used a copy of “To Serve Man.” D) Other.

It’s fun to have beers with (No. 16)

Newspaper photographers.

Some of the best, most surprising behind-the-scenes stories in this business are told as answers to “How did you get that shot?”

Just wondering

So just how much discussion does hot weather in July actually merit?

Don't get me wrong. I'm not suggesting temperatures such as today's should be ignored. That would be strange.

But after you have noted the obvious and swapped a weather-related anecdote or two, what's left to say?

It’s fun to have beers with (No. 15)

Sportswriters who have spent time in pro-sports locker rooms.

Their matter-of-fact reports on the multifariousness of human anatomy can be fascinating.

What’s the lesson here?

A) Don't mess with Talky Tina. D) Don't leave toys on the stairs. C) Don't marry Archer Maggott. D) When a doll tells you it is going to kill you, take heed. E) Other.

It’s fun to have beers with (No. 14)

Local TV news reporters who delight in ripping the anchor promos run by their own stations.

It's actually been ages since I had that pleasure. But once, in a previous life, I enjoyed hearing a couple of reporters mock a promo campaign featuring an anchor who had zero role in actually covering the news. He just read what was placed in front of him, frowning or smiling as warranted.

But in a promo series airing at the time, he was depicted as this hard-charging newsman out there gathering facts and facing down trembling public officials.

“I think that's the only time in his life he held a notebook,” said one of his less-than-admiring colleagues.

“What’s an erection lasting four hours?”

If a grandchild listening to the television asked you that, how would you answer?

What’s your policy?

Are you inclined to not follow people on Twitter if their photo has a sunglasses and yelling woo-hoo look about it?

Lawn mowing beer

Yes, I posted this ad a few years ago. But I think it merits a rerun.

Love to see a guy making good use of a newspaper.

And the woman's expression always makes me wonder what she's thinking. I guess it depends. Is she his wife? The randy widow next door?

You know things are going your way…

…when you see a guy you know slightly and address him by name and get into a small-talk conversation before realizing you were thinking of someone else. But, as luck would have it, both acquaintances have the same first name.

If you thought only your folks were nuts

This wonderful memoir offers compelling evidence that you are wrong.

Disdaining others’ tastes in movies

Which is more fun?

Disdaining relatives' film-watching preferences or disdaining co-workers' tastes?

Or maybe simply snorting about box-office numbers?

If Tour de France had Spokane stage

What would spectators yells at the riders?

Dog days of summer

I was about to make an errands run and had just opened a garage door yesterday when I saw a friend walking by on the sidewalk.

We talked about baseball for a minute. Then I forced him to listen to me describe my recent leg vein surgery.

And we agreed that it was hot. “I'm sweating,” he said.

He is usually accompanied on his walks by a small, personality-plus dog. I asked about her.

Oh, she's home lounging in her wading pool, he said.

Of the three of us, her agenda seemed to make the most sense.

The appeal of yard sales

I just don't get it.

Never have.

Never will.

But that's fine. We aren't required to have the exact same interests.


When stores were closed on July 4th

Maybe it seemed more like a holiday.

But for some of us, it left less of an opportunity to correct a grocery shopping error.

Have you ever been about to fix some oatmeal and discovered that the two most recently purchased cartons of milk were both chocolate milk?

Sounds impossible, I know. It's not.

At least one line of dairy products sold in Spokane distinguishes its chocolate milk from regular 2% cartons with only a brown patch about the size of a postage stamp.

The Peach Orchard, Little Round Top, etc.

I've been to a few Civil War battlefields, but never Gettysburg.

My mother, on the other hand, visited the Pennsylvania historical site several times when she was young. Her favorite teacher got married and moved to Gettysburg. And my mother, who lived in southern New Jersey, went to see her a number of times.

On each occasion, they would tour the battlefield.

So yesterday I was asking her what she remembered about the scene of that pivotal battle which culminated on this date in 1863.

While my mother was mulling that, a woman who overheard our conversation volunteered an answer.

What really strikes you, the woman said, is how close to each other the opposing forces were.

I thought about that off and on for the rest of the day.

Have you ever been to the Gettysburg battlefield? What stuck in your memory?   

The Wednesday Slice question

Whenever I see someone in a store studying the list of ingredients on a package of hot dogs, I always want to say…

“I think they use code words now for snouts, hair and hooves.”

What did it take for you to feel OK about hot dogs again after we learned years ago what used to go into them?

Visiting a lemonade stand

The two little boys across the street set up a lemonade stand this morning.

We were their first customers.

(They were honest about that. They didn't go for marketing buzz by saying “Oh, we've been swamped.”)

“How many?” asked one of the lads.

I told him we would each like one cup.

“So that's two,” he said to himself.

Though the price was 25 cents per cup, we paid with a couple of Sacajawea dollars.

The boys' mother explained to her sons that they were special coins.

The older boy noted that he was saving money to acquire a special Lego set.

The lemonade was pretty good, and plenty cold.

Hope they make a million dollars.

Call of the not-so wild

A robin in a tree behind our house was singing its head off this morning.

A delightful sound, of course.

My wife wondered how the bird would respond to hearing the recorded call of another robin. (We have a bunch of plush-toy birds that play recordings of the species in question's distinctive call. One of them is a robin.)

So she quietly stepped out back and activated the recording.

The real robin paused for a moment. What was it thinking?

A) What the hell? B) Must be one of those indoor robins. I've heard of them, but hadn't ever seen one before. C) That guy's singing is a little flat. D) Can't understand a word. D) Hey, I'm singin' here. E) What? No way I owe you money. F) Other. 

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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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