Archive for June 2014
The first sign of trouble came this morning at about 7:40.
A woman who works at the medical offices across Grand from Manito Park was standing by the back door way longer than it should take to get in.
In turned out the keypad which unlocks the door was not working.
Phone calls were made. More employees arrived. And a couple of people who thought they might have a key that would work on a different door tried and were disappointed.
A locksmith was summoned.
Meantime, about 10 clinic staffers and perhaps half a dozen patients cooled their heels on a beautiful Monday morning.
If you stand outside high up overlooking Grand down below, it's tempting to play pirate.
Someone offered to make a coffee run and took orders.
While everyone was waiting, a talkative, arguably overfed gray tabby cat appeared from the adjacent neighborhood and accepted petting. Maybe a dozen different people laid hands on this obliging animal.
There were shin rubs. They were flops and exposed underbelly.
“Are you the therapy cat?” I asked.
The feline gave me a look that seemed to say “Good guess, Chief.”
At about 8:40, the locksmith arrived and quickly had one of the doors to the waiting room open.
As we trooped inside, another patient asked me if I was going to write about our quite survivable ordeal.
Outside the glass doors, the big tabby looked in.
Apparently what's said in the operating room stays in the operating room.
How else would you account for the fact you never hear doctors and nurses telling stories about the drug-induced goofy stuff patients say both before and after a surgical procedure? I happen to know some of those loopy utterances are pretty hilarious.
Perhaps it's professionalism and ethics that keeps these folks from blabbing. Or maybe they just keep the stories to themselves.
Today's column alluded to worrying that the blood-pressure cuff would continue constricting until your arm popped.
That prompted an email from longtime reader Laura Parker. The subject line was “We don't need no stinkin' blood pressure cuffs!”
She wrote, “Try using your imagination while getting a mammogram!”
Starting Friday and continuing until July 6, The Slice Blog will offer one measly post per day.
Things will be back to normal, such as it is, on Monday, July 7.
Replace “Young” in Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young with your own last name.
How does it sound?
A friend's youngster reportedly got a bang out of seeing that last week.
And I got a bang out of hearing about it yesterday.
I told my friend that it was a sight I could not claim to have observed myself. But later, I wondered if that was really the case.
I've seen those animals at Yellowstone and at the National Bison Range in Montana. Surely one of them must have, well, you know.
But maybe sometimes you have to be a little kid to notice what's genuinely interesting.
Have you ever seen a buffalo put down some natural fertilizer?
When you are at home, it's not out of the question to change your shirt every time you get a dab of mustard on your front or switch to a different blouse after dribbling iced tea on it.
But at some point, when you pretty much consider yourself in for the evening, you might just decide that a three-inch peanut butter smear is something you can live with until bedtime.
So what are the chances that you will then step outside for a second to monkey with the sprinklers or whatever and find yourself chatting up a neighbor?
It's not really 100 percent. It just seems that way.
Who/what do kids blame?
A) Oppressive regulatory climate. B) Market forces stacked against the little guy. C) Obama. D) Unions. E) Weather. F) Spokane just wasn't ready for this bold new concept in curbside beverage service. G) Location. H) Other.
This is from the June 1962 issue of Boys' Life.
In your estimation, what was Custer's biggest mistake on this date in 1876?
While out of town the other day the editor of this newspaper sent out what I regard as one of the Top 10 tweets of all time. Here it is.
“Moroccan cabbie asks what I do. I'm a journalist. 'Lots of bullshit, my friend.' I could only laugh.”
Now the S-R isn't typically associated with a slogan such as The New York Times' “All the news that's fit to print” or “Covering Dixie Like the Dew” (one of the Atlanta papers, years ago).
But what would you think of “Lots of bullshit,” high up there on A1 every morning?
No, I don't think it's an accurate summary of our offerings. But man, it would be so mind-blowingly self-effacing that even our most strident detractors might have to take a step back.
Newspaper people talk a lot about the need to be bold, but we seldom are.
If nothing else, using “Lots of bullshit” as a slogan would be bold.
Unfortunately, it might not wear well. And it would be certain to rub many of our older readers the wrong way. (They still buy copies of the paper, so you bet they get a vote.)
So never mind.
But maybe I could jettison “The Slice” as a column name and use the cabbie's line instead.
“Lots of bullshit…since 1992.”
That would be fine until it came to quoting some reader's preschool grandson. Wouldn't be a perfect fit then.
No, not the one in Idaho.
I have to admit I don't typically read every word of the info sheets that accompany a prescription.
But a line on one page of several that came with a new drug yesterday caught my eye.
“Check with your doctor before drinking alcohol while taking this medicine.”
“Hello. This is the after-hours answering service for Dr. Smith.”
“Yes. Hi. This is Paul Turner. I'm about to have a beer.”
“The info sheet with my new prescription says I should check with Dr. Smith before drinking alcohol. So I'm calling to report that I am home and about to have a beer.”
“I'm not sure that means…”
“Look, if you would just tell Dr. Smith that I called to check before I began drinking. It must be that I'm supposed to avoid certain skunky brands or something.”
I'm sure this will be repeated all summer.
1. How many guys in the Inland Northwest could pull off wearing a seersucker suit?
(I encountered one such gentleman over the weekend. But I blew my chance to use a line that doesn't fit just any old occasion. Noting his attire and knowing he is a lawyer, I should have said, “Good afternoon, Atticus.”)
2. On a scale of 1-10 (with 10 being the highest score), how would you rate your ability to find shady parking spots?
As subcultures go, we are a pretty pathetic lot.
Maybe decades of conversations with people who claim breathing/ENT issues (as opposed to having been clinically diagnosed and annually rediagnosed with asthma for 50 years) makes us a wee bit defensive.
But some establishing of credentials can sound a bit ridiculous. It's almost like “Who's got the bigger asthma?”
“Well, I have a rescue inhaler.”
“And a daily steroid inhaler.”
“Well, I have to go in for exhalation tests because my pulmonary air flow shows I am at risk for emphysema.”
“Check. What else ya got?”
We ought to just say, “Look, I'll show my prescriptions if you show me yours.”
A) Laughable. B) Predictable. C) Understandable. D) Typical of American sports fans. E) Harmless. F) Other.
This was just one of many in the series.
In Spokane, the first thing you discover is that it cannot be done in every part of town.
And the second thing? Well, if you are willing to drive a little bit, there are a few pharmacies open. And, of course, you are willing to do that. If you have been prescribed a medication on a Saturday night, chances are it's no casual matter.
What would you do if you lived in a rural area?
1. Why is seeing cherries in stores a happy thing even if you don't end up buying any?
2. Want to feel old? Check your blood pressure in a grocery store.
3. Because my phone is on a family plan hosted by my sister-in-law who lives in a Detroit suburb, a Michigan area code shows up on Caller I.D. when I call someone with it, which I seldom do. But the other evening, I was away from home and needed to phone a colleague at work in the newsroom. When his city desk phone rang, he looked at Caller I.D. and thought his brother in Michigan was calling him.
4. Knowing that I was about to set off a store's security alarm as I exited (I had set it off on my way in), I informed an employee of this and asked her what I should do. “Just run,” she said.
5. I have been working for daily newspapers since the 1970s. But until just the other day, I don't think I had ever called a bar and asked that someone I needed to speak to be located and brought to the phone.
A reference to that movie in today's Slice column reminded me of this.
It comes from Slice reader James “Rocky” Curtiss.
“As an owner of no less than seven Hawaiian shirts and former owner of more than a dozen of those cheerful sartorial statements of youth, I can say with authority the reason for our grumpy dispositions is the realization that we never look as good in our flowered tunic as the mannequin sporting it in the store's men's department. What we bought in hopeful melancholy morphed into despondent reality.”
Some of these are fun.
I was listening to the Mumford & Sons song “I Will Wait” on a cable TV Music Choice channel when a factoid graphic popped up on the screen.
It said one member of the band regarded a line from the Beach Boys' “God Only Knows” as his all-time favorite lyric.
The line is, “I may not always love you.”
That got me thinking about a profile of Brian Wilson I read decades ago. It was in Rolling Stone, Esquire or some other publication. The writer alluded to Wilson being “born on the first day of summer.”
His birthday is June 20, 1942, according to several sources.
I wondered. Was that really the date of the summer solstice that year?
I did a couple of quick searches and it was beginning to look as if summer actually started on June 21 in 1942. I quit looking before I really had that nailed down.
Oh, well. I had always liked that “born on the …” thing.
But sometimes there is a reason things sound too perfect.
Then I looked to confirm that Wilson had written the lyrics to “God Only Knows.”
And it appeared that those actually were penned by a songwriter named Tony Asher.
Sigh. Well, Wilson did write the music. And it's a pretty great song.
Happy birthday, Brian. Summer's right around the corner.
When people 25 years from now look at 2014 photo images of guys with goatees, what will they say?
Here's something I wrote in another century.
If you publicly question the psychological well-being of Internet trolls, you will hear from Internet trolls.
If you write about bicycling in Spokane, you will hear from haters who can't stand that the law allows cyclists to ride in the streets.
Here's The Slice column from this date in 1997.
Sweet onions were way more special (and tasted better) back when availability was limited to the short Walla Walla and Vidalia seasons.
Whenever I find myself remembering music used in a TV commercial — the “Chicken Fat” song, Elvis doing “Bossa Nova Baby” — it's almost invariably true that I cannot recall the product.
If you were around for the 1970s, do you remember how talking about stereo systems could almost be like communicating in a second language?
“You should wear latex gloves and/or a plastic baggie when applying the cream to prevent your hands from becoming numb.”
Least favorite (which actually comes before the above)…
“Shave the leg from the ankle to the groin AND 3 finger widths into the pubic hair.”
…if you heard him or her answer the phone with “Yo!”?
And here's Frank in an old Slice column. See second item.
How do teen girls with minimal experience wearing high heels manage to stay upright while navigating graduation ceremonies?
Can you name the two problem flavors from about 50 years ago (made worse by the cartoon images on the packets)?
What would people say if you dressed like Captain K one day?
Tess Harding accompanies Sam Craig to an early afternoon baseball game. As they walk to their seats in the crowded stadium, Tess asks “Are all these people unemployed?”
Sam replies, “No, they're all attending their grandmother's funeral.”
…but it's not you, do you ever wonder if people assume you are getting a divorce or whatever?
A reader sent me this and I thought I would pass it along.
Were you more inclined to tolerate them back when you thought the way to get ahead was to be on good terms with everyone?
Back around the time this book came out in 2006, the author speculated that the events historians would one day point to as key moments in the war had not even happened yet.
Which of your skills would have come in handy?
Readers of The Slice column sometimes let me know that they were disappointed that I did not use their submission.
That's fair enough.
But every once in a while, someone tacks on “You used everyone else's!”
That baffles me. I mean, how would the reader in question know that? Does he or she have access to my email and phone messages? Or maybe the person possesses some magical power allowing him or her to know exactly how many answers I got in response to a certain question.
This is exactly what it's like.
Call me when the Spokane Indians begin to approach 35-5.
There's no doubt elite players are incredibly fit.
And I would assume a high percentage of those guys are pretty tough.
So what's with the writhing in agony one minute/up and running around the next?
Has that ever produced a yellow card for the alleged offender? Or is it a ploy to slow down the pace of play for a couple of minutes?
I guess every sport has its embarrassing traditions.
Take hockey, for example. The NHL's longstanding wink-wink attitude about fighting is ludicrous, of course. It makes it impossible for some people to take the sport seriously.
But at least fighting all but disappears during the Stanley Cup playoffs.
…for the words “screen door” to send you hurtling back in time, to summers long ago?
Or is it less a matter of age and more of a rural vs. urban thing?
Did you and your dad have a television show you watched together?
My father didn't spend much time looking at TV. And our tastes weren't really in sync. But in the summers of my high school years and when I was home from college, we would watch reruns of “The Honeymooners” at 11:30, right after the local news.
We both knew every episode by heart. The show seemed ancient even back in the 1970s. But the adventures of Ralph Kramden and Ed Norton were a reliable source of smiles.
Just a few minutes ago the smart, stylish Channel 4 producer/weather backup said two astonishing things on the air.
1. A cool day in June isn't the end of the world.
2. The possibility of a little rain should be taken in stride.
Or something to that effect. I was too stunned to be sure I was hearing correctly.
I thought Spokane TV news people had to sign an oath. You know, the one saying that they pledged to embrace the insanity that anything but 95 degrees and cloudless skies is cause for deep depression.
Do you remember an episode of “The Andy Griffith Show” titled “The Family Visit”?
First airing in 1964, it dealt with the downside of relatives spending their vacation at your place.
A) “Three Alarm Donna.”. B) “Conjugal Visit.”.C) “Glowering Man.” D) “Hunger Games.” E) Other.
Did parenting turn out to be a bit more complicated than Ozzie Nelson made it seem?
That's all fairly realistic, I suppose. Well, except for the volume of Brenda's hair.
Usually, in sports, it's a big deal.
But in the case of Spokane Indians baseball, it's not.
When overhearing people discuss the possibility of attending an Indians game, have you ever heard anyone ask “Who are they playing?”
Why would anyone ask when the answer doesn't matter?
Maybe that's a good thing. You know, that it's the game that is the attraction, not the individuals playing it.
But can you think of another sports context in which nobody cares about the identity of the opponent?
How do you pronounce “Chile”?
This ran on this date 19 years ago.
…who once lived in Spokane.
It was long ago.
OK, yes. I have mentioned this countless times. And this won't be the last.
The menu is on the back.
That's all fake, by the way. Well, except for the part about CTN being from Spokane.
There are not many staffers still at the SR who have Jim DeFede stories. Just as well, perhaps. A lot of those stories were hard to believe back in the day. And 25 years later, I suspect they would sound like even more like outlandish exaggerations now.
The guy had a big personality. He liked being the center of attention but you didn't resent him for it. And he was smart.
I didn't know him well, but I liked him.
If you ever find yourself spending time with Jess Walter and sense that he is tired of being asked about the life of a big-deal novelist, ask him to tell you a few Jim DeFede stories.
Do you use them?
A) Yes, though I assume the handbaskets and push-carts are 100 percent covered with a thin fecal smear (diaper issues, et cetera). So I'm not sure how much good it does.
B) No. I bring my own bags. I wouldn't touch those baskets in a Hazmat suit.
C) No. Life is risk.
D) Yes, but I don't imagine they are much defense against the microbial horrors lying in wait.
E) Sometimes. But my first line of defense is trying to not touch my face more often that six times a minute.
I have to admit, mine has.
Even fast-forwarding with extreme prejudice, I'm not sure how many more plugs for awful movies I can take.
I suppose it is the nature of the beast. And it's not as if I have suddenly started disliking Jimmy Fallon.
I'm just tired of waiting out the same old same old in the hopes of seeing some creative, new stuff.
Oh, well. I happily lived without “The Tonight Show” during the Jay Leno era. I suspect I can do it again.
OK, you knew that. It never hurts to review.
This woman became a minor legend right out of the chute. She was being introduced around in the newsroom and her presenter noted to someone that she was a Northwestern graduate. Sensing that the person hearing this might not be familiar with Northwestern, our new hire explained that it was a private liberal arts college located just outside Chicago.
Some regarded that as a tad condescending, especially since we already had a few Northwestern grads on the staff.
To be fair, though, there is always the possibility that the previous introduction (and mention of Northwestern) might have elicited a blank look. So perhaps instead of being a snob, she was trying for the opposite. Who knows?
Anyway, that link is probably old. But I love the idea of someone who once worked at the SR listing Paris as her primary residence.
Are you old enough to remember when Scoop Jackson seemed well on his way to securing the Democratic nomination to run for the presidency in 1976 until a series a missteps derailed the Washington senator's campaign?
She was the reason 15-year-old boys watched “Maude.”
See fourth paragraph.
…realized that the job descriptions of TV saloon girls was not all that realistic?
Not long after I started driving as a teenager, my older brother gave me some advice.
If you ever get pulled over by a cop, he said, take your driver's license and registration to the officer before he ever gets out of his car.
Apparently that had worked for him.
So I tried it. And the first time or two, it actually seemed to help turn the traffic stop in my favor.
But then came a day when I was getting out of my vehicle and the cop, already having emerged from his patrol car, practically freaked. He ordered me to get the hell back in my car. I understood, and I have never done it again.
(By the way, we're talking about a grand total of maybe eight or nine stops in more than 40 years of driving. So it's not a huge sample.)
But here's my question.
Did you ever get some advice that seemed wise at first but then proved to be unreliable? .
I was worried that no one would show up. But it turned out to be a fun morning, just about five years ago.
Let's say you occasionally wish to watch sports in real time on TV. But you want no part of commercials, even with the mute on. That Honda commercial with the preening beard stroker could come on again, dear God. So what's the answer?
Perhaps a two-screen experience is the way to go. When the game goes to a commercial, you can switch your attention to something on a handheld device.
Or maybe recording the game and giving it a running start is the only way. Then you can zip through the commercials and be only a few minutes behind the Rangers giving up yet another goal.
Stuff that got stuck in people's ears and other illuminations of the human condition.
Who would you rather go out with?
A) Someone whose interest in the soccer tournament is based entirely on how the US team does.
B) Someone who roots for the US but also has an interest in underdog teams from several other countries.
C) Someone who roots for the US and for the country that is his/her dominant ethnic heritage.
D) Someone whose attitude is “Hey, if the USA isn't No. 1 at something, to hell with it.”
E) Someone who wouldn't blame fans in Germany or Portugal for grabbing their crotches and saying “Hey, I gotcher American exceptionalism right here.”
F) Someone who insists on calling soccer “football” not because it is an annoying affectation but because it bugs people who deserve a verbal thumb in the eye. (See also the fan who roots for teams from countries with international policies not dictated by the US.)
G) Someone who likes soccer because it is a sport that doesn't seem to be specifically designed to cause injuries.
H) Someone who is rooting for a country he or she visited as a high school student.
I) Someone who thinks the World Cup puts to shame all other sporting competitions that have the nerve to call themselves the World this or World that.
June 9, 1973.
Do people who blame the police for the fact that bad things happen here tend to be the same folks who blame teachers for the fact that inadequately parented kids who arrive at school totally unprepared often have problems learning?
Did you notice his wife try to save him from himself (and his own big mouth) Saturday? And did you see his churlish reaction?
Boy, you sure learn more about people when they are facing adversity than when everything is going their way.
Some of these photos might look familiar.
Or, if you are a mere youth, they could look like pictures taken on another planet.
It's not because it's some great piece of journalism. It's not. Nor is it because I wrote it.
I just happen to love Mr. and Mrs. Peterson's characterizations of the distractions available to children on long road trips back in the day.
It seems like I read somewhere that one of his memories of living in Spokane was seeing B-52s every day.
…you're going to take someone to the airport bright and early and that person is ready by the target backing-out-of-the-driveway time.
It's tempting to see yourself as a character in “Game of Thrones” for whom things did not go well.
A few things to consider as the countdown moves ahead..
A friend recalls some long-ago confusion, in Friday's Slice column.
And if it offends you, all I can say is you must enjoy being offended.
Quite a few years ago, I invited readers leave me phone messages in which they sang part of this classic beer commercial. Link below.
About a hundred did. I might still have a tape with those song stylings. It was one of my favorite adventures in interactivity.
Readers singing the “Branded” theme was another treat.
Here's the actual Hamm's spot. It's way less fun than the reader's versions. But you can imagine how you might sound singing it.
Did you read in Shawn Vestal's piece this morning that Spokane is a stand-in for the post-apocalypse Philadelphia in “Z Nation”?
Well, I don't know why the producers haven't contacted me about being an extra. Perhaps they are unaware of my connections to the City of Brotherly Love.
So I'll list just a few.
My mother was born in Philadelphia.
My Aunt Helen took me to the Philadelphia Zoo when I was about 7.
Have been to Independence Hall, seen the Liberty Bell, the Rocky statue, had a cheese steak, et cetera.
At the height of my NFL fandom, when I was a kid in the 1960s, my favorite player was a running back/flanker for the Eagles named Tim Brown. No. 22.
When, John LeClair, a guy from near where I had lived in Vermont, was starring for Philadelphia, I was a big Flyers fan. No. 10.
Long ago, I used to randomly toss out quotes from the movie “Rocky.”
“Cut me, Mick. C'mon, cut me. Gotta open my eyes. I can't see.”
See tomorrow's Slice column, as I weigh in on my favorite part of the day.
I know this is tiny and impossible to read. But you get the idea.
Zombies might force me to change my route this afternoon when I ride my bike home.
I'm guessing this issue didn't enjoy brisk Cheryl Tiegs-esque newsstand sales.
Baker once had a proposal for how to handle gas rationing during a shortage.
Motorists whose license plates ended in even numbers could get gas on even numbered days.
Motorists whose license plates ended in odd numbers could get gas on odd numbered days.
Motorists with vanity plates: No gas.
I've meant to.
In case you missed this.
Ever have a summer job when you were young that made you think maybe you should be trying harder in school?
Yes, I have mentioned Clarence before. And with a nickname like his, I will mention him again.
Mr. Coleman was in Spokane in 1961.
The girl in this first item (link below) just had a baby, making my friend a grandfather.
And here she is in an even earlier appearance in the column, once again in the first item.
I told Kelly's dad today that I would expect some good column material from the new arrival any day now.
Here's an email that arrived this morning from Steve Hintyesz.
“I watched a pretty funny story yesterday about men growing beards and then shaving them into shapes of animals. I think this would be a great charity fundraiser for the downtown and Garland district music festivals to raise money for the Spokane Food Bank. This is a little late this year, but the Grand Spokane Marmot Beard Contest, along with great music (could be a hit). We probably have to wait a year, since the stubble we have now will not even qualify for a chipmunk.”
You can click on individual images for better views.
Be sure to see the comments.
If you were out choppin' cotton on this date, what, in all likelihood, would your brother be doing?
I used an image of one of Big Frank's cards a couple of years ago. After that, one of my faithful readers recalled seeing him play here. Said he seemed like a giant. So consider this a tip of the cap to Gary.
That would be tomorrow, the 3rd of June.
Remember when Slice readers sang “Ode to Billie Joe”?
You probably hope it won't be anything like this.
“I'm wondering how many folks went home with a sunburn from this weekend's Skyfest shows,” wrote Nadine Timm. “Despite knowing better, my arms are the euphemistic lobster color. My son is fuchsia. As is a co-worker at my place of employment.
“Feels rather like a badge of honor. Usual excuses — allergic to sunscreen, didn't wear long sleeves.”
When you load up your green yard-waste barrel to such an extent that you momentarily fear it is so heavy it will tip over the collection truck.
Caring about the Tour de France bike race?
Or caring about the World Cup soccer tournament?
I think that happened to me Sunday at Trader Joe's.
Can't be sure. But it seemed as if a woman once married to a friend of mine shot me a disapproving glance.
Did I deserve that? I did not. I encountered that woman only a few times while she was briefly hitched to my friend. And I don't believe I ever badmouthed her after the split. In any case, I had not bumped into her since.
So, what should I have done?
A) Nothing. That might be her default facial expression. B) Nothing. She might not like me for some reason having nothing to do with the divorce. C) Nothing. What's to be gained? D) Nothing. Why would I care what she thinks about anything? E) Approached and said, “Might I remind you that I had nothing to do with your divorce.” F) Nothing. Maybe it wasn't even her. G) Other.