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The Slice: Only so much attention to go around

Tue., Jan. 14, 2014, midnight

Recommending old movies isn’t the kick it used to be.

Once, you could tip a friend or relative to some semi-obscure film and then sit back and wait for the effusive praise: “That was such a brilliant suggestion! You are so well informed about the arts and have such impeccable yet delightfully quirky taste! Thank you!”

But things have changed.

Now, there is an excellent chance your cousin or co-worker will check out the movie as part of a two-screen experience. You know, the movie will be on TV but the watcher will spend much of the time looking at a phone or some other hand-held digital device.

This came to mind because I recently hinted that my sister-in-law might enjoy a certain fantasy comedy from 2006. I thought there was a good chance it had escaped her notice. And I saw that it was in sporadic rotation on a cable channel I assumed she gets.

So she found it on a programming schedule showing upcoming offerings and did the red-dot “record” thing.

Naturally, I hope she enjoys it.

But the truth is, I’m pretty much resigned to the likelihood that she’ll miss several special scenes because she will be looking at the screen on one of her hand-held gadgets.

That doesn’t mean she is inattentive or incapable of concentrating. It just means she’s living in 2014.

Today’s Slice question: How do you rationalize stealing treats from a co-worker’s snacks stash? A) If she had been here, she would have let me have some. B) I regard it as a victimless crime. C) I had a disadvantaged childhood. D) Someday I will replace what I took. E) They’re just going to go bad if someone doesn’t eat them. F) Well, it’s not like my own stash hasn’t been raided, too. G) From each according to his ability, to each according to his need. I was in need of a miniature Snickers. H) The stuff she keeps in her unlocked desk is so tempting, it’s really entrapment. I) Mistakes were made. J) I was hearing a voice and the voice said “Eat a shortbread cookie.” K) I have no memory of the incident. L) I see it as a free speech issue. M) Other.

Write The Slice at P. O. Box 2160, Spokane, WA 99210; call (509) 459-5470; email What advice would you give to someone contemplating trying to organize a neighborhood gathering on a block where people don’t really know one another?

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