Monday, February 26, 2007


I have seen wildlife since living in the Pacific Northwest that I never had the opportunity when I lived in the Southeast. Growing up next to a wooded area, I saw plenty of snakes, many poisonous, rattlesnake skins, many raccoons and black widow spiders.

Since moving to the Northwest, I have seen Orcas in the wild, harbor seals and bald eagles. But today was a first. My daughter and I saw a coyote.

We were walking across a large suburban parking lot, from the Blockbuster to the supermarket, when I spotted a coyote running full bore toward us. We were far from both the Blockbuster and the strip mall, with no cars around us. I froze and said, “Honey, look! A coyote!”

The coyote ran past us at a distance of about four feet. He was lean and beautiful. He passed us and ran through a busy intersection. I feared he would be struck by a car but he made it to a wooded area on the other side of the street.

Thinking my daughter may have been startled or frightened, I looked at her and said, “If he would have tried to attack us, I would have pushed you behind me and fought it to the death.”

She replied nonchalantly, “I would have kicked its butt.”

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Oscar Predictions

See my Oscar predictions here: Fourth Row Center

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

A Conversation About Penguins Overheard

Overheard on a plane, an exchange between a rather dashing twenty-something young man and an older, pudgy traveling salesman-type, as the passengers were shown a program about penguins on the Discovery channel:

ON THE TV MONITORS: a line of penguins crosses a road in front of a stopped school bus.

20-SOMETHING: Those are penguins?

SALESMAN: Uh-huh. Yeah.

20-SOMETHING: Huh. How big are they?

SALESMAN: Oh, I'd say a coupla feet tall.

2o-SOMETHING: Hm. I thought they were our size.


20-SOMETHING: Human-size. I thought penguins were as tall as us.

SALESMAN: Huh? No. Foot tall. Coupla feet. That's all.

20-SOMETHING: Huh. Strange.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

The Power of Advertising

It’s sobering to realize the power Madison Avenue holds over our children. My young daughter spends most of her television viewing time at PBS and The Disney Channel. It’s no surprise that she is in tune with every Disney Princess toy or product that saturates the airwaves and the marketplace.

But what I have found most alarming is how well she has been programmed by advertisers who are targeting consumers well beyond her six years.

A couple of weeks ago I had mentioned that I needed to get up on the roof and check some shingles and she said, “You’ll need the Little Giant.” It took me a couple of days to realize she was referring to the multi-purpose ladder system featured on endless Infomercials.

Then as I was cleaning the bathroom she came in and watched me scrubbing the toilet for a few moments, then said with an incredulous air, “That would be easier if you used Kaboom! Never-Scrub.”

Cleaning products are regularly advertised on television, and she seems to know them all. On a recent trip to the supermarket I as I was retrieving a container of Dow Scrubbing Bubbles she looked at the can, shook her head and suggested, “You should try Purple Power.”

The final blow was when she patted me on the stomach recently and suggested, “Dad, don’t you think you should get the Ab-Lounge XL for Ultimate Results?”

Out of the mouths of babes. Or ad executives.

Or both.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Final Words About Football

While watching the AFC and NFC playoff games recently I found myself thinking about television coverage of NFL games, and I have come to the conclusion that CBS has the weakest game coverage of all the NFL broadcast affiliates. And the most annoying on-screen stats graphics. This is strictly my opinion, of course, arrived at by wholly non-scientific means, but it appears to me that CBS needs to try harder, and think about improving its pressbox talent.

Watching last week's Super Bowl only served to strengthen my opinion. Phil Simms? In the booth at the biggest game of the year? Come on!

ESPN's coverage has been strong this year, but I have to give my personal 'thumbs up' to FOX, who provided the best and most energetic NFL coverage this season. Also, they have the best graphics.

Oh yeah. And Madden.

As for true favorites in NFL game coverage, I will admit to being a little nostalgic for the glory days of Monday Night Football on ABC. Like him or not, Howard Cosell was a knowledgeable commentator with a broadcast style uniquely his own. Cosell was ABC, and defined the Monday night broadcast for many years. And the network continued the tradition of broadcast excellence even after Cosell's departure. (We'll try to forget ABC's brief lapse in judgement during what I have come to call 'the Dennis Miller Year.')

Ultimately I was disappointed with CBS's coverage Super Bowl XLI this year, and not even the ads will made up for what the network lacked.

There is always next year.