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The Slice: Can’t place face? Join the club

Where have we seen you before?

It is not really a mental illness.

It’s, well, more like a distraction.

But there are those who can be home contentedly watching a TV show or movie one moment and then, with the appearance on the screen of a vaguely familiar actor or actress, find it impossible to think about anything except one maddening question.

What have I seen him in before?

Sometimes it comes to you – or to someone seated nearby – right away. “The guy in the insurance commercial? He played a power hitter in the original ‘Major League.’ Pedro Cerrano. His real name is Dennis something.”

Or “She was in a bunch of British stuff, ‘Foyle’s War’ for one.”

Or “He was a prosecutor in ‘Absence of Malice’ and a network executive in a few episodes of ‘Seinfeld.’ ”

Or “That’s Walter Brennan a few decades before he became Grandpa McCoy.”

And on and on.

Coming up with the answer has been known to prompt shouts of exultation.

“Yes! That’s it. That was going to drive me crazy.”

It’s more than mere obsession with trivia. In a small way, it is a desire to impose order on our often chaotic world.

It’s like the urge to finish a puzzle or locate a lost key.

You know you recognize that person, right? It’s natural to want to come up with the context.

And thanks to modern information technology, we don’t have to just sit and wonder.

You can pause what you’re watching and go fire up the computer. Thirty seconds of online searching can offer blessed relief.

“A-ha! I KNEW that was Ted Danson. ‘Body Heat’ must have come out just before ‘Cheers.’ ”

Of course, if you are viewing something with others, there is a limit to how often you would want to interrupt the show. Not everyone would enjoy having a movie stopped yet again so you can attempt to nail down that Ernest Borgnine’s brother in the Academy Award-winning “Marty” went on to play Jerry Helper in “Dick Van Dyke.”

Now if only dealing with “Where do I know her from?” in real life were that easy.

Today’s Slice question: How do you react when you know that a political candidate you support is lying?

Write The Slice at P.O. Box 2160, Spokane, WA 99210; call (509) 459-5470; email There are longtime residents who have never set foot in some of Spokane’s major entertainment venues.

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