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Opinion >  Column

The Slice: Lessons learned from the big screen

For those who moved to the West from other parts of the country, it seems fair to ask.

What lessons about this region did you learn from old movies before coming out here?

I think I can guess. Let’s take them one by one.

“The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance”: If you want a career in politics, it helps to have a friend willing to kill for you.

“Red River”: When the boss is a maniacal bully, it’s hard to be happy in your work.

“Shane”: Sometimes the good guy wins.

“High Noon”: If you want a job done right, you’ll probably have to do it yourself.

“The Searchers”: Obsession isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

“Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid”: Bicycling is big in the West.

“McCabe and Mrs. Miller”: It snows in Washington.

“Cat Ballou”: It helps to have a catchy theme song.

“Dances with Wolves”: Your real friends won’t forget you.

Little tree of horrors: Rocky and Joyce Curtiss shared this story from years ago.

“Our usual Christmas tree hunt resulted in another fragrant, full tannenbaum from a local farm in Southern California. We immediately brought the tree inside, hung the lights and ornaments while Nat King Cole serenaded us from our stereo.

“The next morning new features graced our tree – exquisite spider webs from thousands of tiny black arachnids moving from branch to branch.

“Thus, a new tradition began. Each succeeding real tree was left outside overnight to give whatever creatures who came home with us the opportunity to escape.”

Warm-up questions: Have you ever been walking or slowly riding a bicycle among a group of urban turkeys and felt pointedly ignored, as if the big birds were Borg turkeys? Has a Spokane area child ever inquired about any food allergies Santa might have when writing to the big man and planning his Christmas Eve snack? Is “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” actually a rather disturbing song?

Today’s Slice question: You know how “Dickensian” refers to the world described in the novels of English author Charles Dickens? Sure. Well, what novelist who has written about Spokane might merit having his or her name precede “-ian” to characterize an aspect of life in this city?

Write The Slice at P. O. Box 2160, Spokane, WA 99210: call (509) 459-5470; email So many children have added toy dinosaurs to Nativity scenes over the years that some might wonder if the baby in question arrived during the Jurassic period.

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