Tag Archives: Pacific Northwest authors

Harbingers of spring


Western_Meadowlark_singingOne thing to be said for Daylight Saving. It’s a sign of spring.

Daffodils and forsythia turn neighborhoods into gold.

You leave the parka behind in favor of a light jacket.

Leaf blowers.

And you lose an hour of sleep on Saturday night…or sleep-in Sunday morning. Until dawn breaks. As I write this, the sun has yet to break the horizon, but it looks like it’s going to be a sunny pre-spring day. Close to 70 degrees. A great day to prune the roses.

My personal favorite harbinger of spring is the song of the meadowlark. When I hear its call carry across the sagebrush and pastures, spring is here. (The Spring Equinox is Friday, March 20)

When do you say, “Yep. It’s spring.”

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We should have played the Superbowl last Sunday. The jokes and the avocados were fresher.


The Kingdome Implosion 2000 (Just had to show it)

The Kingdome Implosion 2000 (Just had to show it)

Remember when we determined the world champions just one week after the championship games? It was just enough time to plan the party, make a friendly wager, mash-up the guacamole, thoomp; kick-off.

But now we endure two weeks of pregame hoopla. That’s two weeks of sports people doing what sports people are very good at: over-dramatizing. It’s not necessarily their fault. They have two weeks to fill, after all.Superbowl_Trophy_Crop

The faulty inflated ball thing may or may not turn out to be significant, but after the SNL spoof, it had pretty much run its course. But with that second week of pregame, we’re getting a second dose of speculation and accusation, followed by expert analysis of the speculation and the accusers.

One player showed up to a pregame event whining that his employer “made him” participate, all the while wearing attire promoting his own brand.  Whether he has a point or his boss has a point, I won’t rehash here. You’ve heard it, the replay and the analysis afterward. We’ve got two weeks to fill, after all.

The league commissioner had a verbal confrontation with a reporter at a news conference. The remarks resulted in a ten-minute news segment with the reporter and colleagues defending the reporter, followed by, you know it, analyzing and speculating on the commissioner’s future.

News bulletin: A news source and a reporter locking horns at a news conference isn’t news. That’s the process of news gathering.

What we got was drama.

And really, do we need two weeks of critters on the evening news predicting the outcome?

Through all of the pregame hype and hullabaloo, I’ve heard doodly-squat about, you know, the actual game. Which team has the better defense?  Will it be high-scoring? Who’s going to win?  What happened to all that speculation and analysis?  I guess we’ll hear that during the eight-hour pre-game show.

Someone please, hike the ball!

And go Seahawks.

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What do we do? For the first weekend since September we have to go without football cold turkey. And no, the Pro Bowl doesn’t count.


1893_Auburn_Tigers_football_teamBut here’s an idea. Sit down in front of the TV like you normally would on game day, grab a snack if you want, but instead of reaching for the remote, reach for a book instead.

Don’t touch that computer mouse.  Hear me out.

Here are a few suggestions that will literally give you your football fix until next weekend when the Seahawks take the air out of the Patriots.

These titles are available at Mid-Columbia Libraries branches including the downloadable catalogue.

PLAYING FOR PIZZA, by John Grisham. A fictitious Cleveland Browns QB, after a disastrous and embarrassing loss, goes to Italy to play for the quasi-pro Parma Panthers.  An entertaining, short novel about a man who redefines his perspective on what the game is all about. playing for pizza

calico joeCALICO JOE, also by John Grisham. Although not about football, any fan of baseball folklore will soak up this story inspired by the real life story of Ray Chapman, the only professional baseball player killed by a pitch. Given some of the “cheating” stories going around, this bean ball scandal scores a home run.

Don’t have time to read a full-length novel? Pick up Stephen King’s novella BLOCKADE BILLY. Characteristically creepy, it puts a literal spin on the adage, “Kill the ump.”blockade billy

If you have any suggestions, pass them along, but whether it’s football, baseball, horror, romance, or science fiction, consider spending some time this weekend sitting in front of a blank TV screen. Those ads for weight loss, nicotine patches, and cold and flu medicines will be around for another few weeks.

And go Seahawks.

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Now that I’m no longer anchoring a newscast, I’d like to recommend those that are worth watching. That is, if you have the time.


Walter_Cronkite_on_television_1976A long time ago Walter Cronkite proposed CBS air an hour-long evening newscast. The most-trusted man in America believed thirty minutes just wasn’t enough time to get it all in.  Americans were getting shortchanged. Walter believed Americans would watch an hour newscast.

The network didn’t listen to Walter. The broadcast networks still air half-hour newscasts and there still isn’t enough time and too much to cover.

But Americans watch hour-long newscasts.

If Walter were alive and still working today, he’d probably be anchoring at CNN, PBS, or perhaps Al Jazeera America.

These newscasts fill sixty minutes, or they’ll go longer if the news merits, and for the most part they stick to the facts and leave the opinions to their interviews.  Occasionally, CNN goes overboard on its advocacy journalism and may slight some stories in favor of the sexy ones. If you like a lot of flashy graphics, orchestration, and in-your-face anchors, you might fall asleep watching the PBS NEWS HOUR. It’s straightforward with the facts, but it can be a bit dry at times with its low-key presentation. And don’t be surprised if PBS airs fewer stories in an hour than what a broadcast network would typically air in a half-hour. But the issues/stories PBS covers are done so thoroughly. (The analysis from experts alone can go for ten minutes or so. That’s an eternity at the networks.)

Al_Jazeera_America_LogoAnd then there’s Al Jazeera America. I know. When you tune in the first time you wait for the anchor to shake his or her fist and shout, “Death to America.” It’s nothing like that.  The anchors include John Seigenthaler, formerly of NBC News, and Ray Suarez from PBS, and from what I’ve seen so far, the newscasts and other programming have been fact-based, in-depth, and have shown no bias or favoritism. And unlike Fox or CNBC, Al Jazeera doesn’t blame one U.S. political party for all what’s wrong in America and the world.

If you haven’t checked out these newscasts, give them a sample, and tell me what you think.

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You may not know me from Adam, but he’s a friend of a friend of a friend of mine who who works with a friend of your mom.


me shots 2012 008When I set up my Facebook Page about six years ago, like you, I skimmed through the features and the rules.  “Yeah, okay, I agree,” and boom, Bob’s your uncle. I’m a multi-platform, social media-ist.

Then life resumed, I set the alarm for 2-are-you-kidding me-45 in the morning, and didn’t pay all that much attention to my Facebook pages, either the professional or the private one. I checked in on the weekends, sometimes, occasionally, okay, practically never..

Fast forward to recently, when I discover a feature you probably know quite well already. It’s the one in which people can request to be your friend.

Yes. Dork alert. For years, as a result of being a poor custodian of my Facebook pages, I’ve been unintentionally ignoring/snubbing hundreds, count ’em, hundreds of people.

In an effort to catch up, I’m ruffling through all the names like it’s the list of families to whom you send Christmas cards. Do I know this person?

Because the Seahawks game is about to start, I conclude, heck, with whom would I not want to be friends?

So I just confirmed everybody. Boom. Time for kickoff and I’m now friends with everybody, Including Bob’s uncle, who doesn’t know me from Adam.

Of course you know, and now I do, that the Facebook gang sends messages, suggesting you become friends with your friends’ friends.  And your friends’ friends’ friends. In other words, perfect strangers.

So as of this weekend, I am now FB pals with several local, as well as foreign retailers, holders of political office and the people they defeated in their elections, and at least one dead celebrity, who has yet to reply to my confirmation.

And if you initially saw this post on your FB page and you’re saying to yourself, how the heck did he get onto my page, now you know.

And while I won’t necessarily be offended if you unfriend me because you don’t know me, Adam,or Bob, Heck, we’re practically neighbors at this point. Sign-up for these semi-regular blog posts. I keep them short, no radical politics, and try to be entertaining. Just ask one of my 800 new friends!

Go Seahawks.

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My thoughts on Christine Brown


cbSomeone came up to me yesterday and said, “That’s something about your former anchor, Christine, getting laid off.”

No. You must have heard it wrong, I said.  She probably retired. Packing her bags for Mazatlan, maybe, but  not sent packing. Not Christine. She is the TV station.

“No. Read it in the paper.”

I got online. Sure enough. There it is. Brown laid off in station restructuring.

Twenty-eight years at one station. That’s rare in any profession. Virtually unheard of in broadcasting. Then laid off. I can almost hear the conversation in the conference room.

“…We’re undergoing restructuring that affects you…We will need you to sign these forms…your keys, company credit card… Happy New Year…” 

Christine’s last day was December 31.

I’m sure Christine is doing fine. I imagine her Facebook is jammed with good wishes from the gazillions of journalists whom she, well, I won’t say nurtured, she whipped into shape after she hired them. A no-nonsense news director.  Her newsroom was a boot camp. Ask some of my former co-workers: Faith Martin, Jordan Youngs (Both still in the Tri-Cities and doing marvelous), Claire Graham and Blake Jensen,now in Spokane, Melanie, who now anchors in Pennsylvania, Adam, who went on to Boston, now in Atlanta, Bryant in Philly, Lisa in LA; the list goes on and on and on.

But Christine taught her people not only discipline, but compassion. Christine is responsible for the success of the Coats For Kids campaign, which has provided winter clothing for tens of thousands of kids over the years, the annual Family Food Drive that just got nuts with the truckloads of corporate and individual donations that came in during the rain or shine, snow or ice, freezing or sub-freezing on the air telethon. A crazy, wonderful experience. Christine also championed my personal favorite project of the year, the annual Red Cross Real Heroes Breakfast, honoring ordinary people in the community for their extraordinary deeds.

I’m worried these projects won’t get the same priority post-restructuring.

Christine, if you aren’t there already, go to the beach. Have a big margarita for me. One of those the size of a bird bath.  Sit back and enjoy. And don’t forget to wear a hat and sunscreen.

 

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To shop or not to shop on Thanksgiving


Gray Thursday last year in Hillsboro, Oregon.

Gray Thursday last year in Hillsboro, Oregon.

I’m torn on whether the malls and big retailers should demand their employees work on Thanksgiving.  It’s Thanksgiving, after all.  Can’t we wait one day before we commence with five weeks of commercializing the crap out of the holidays?

However, over the river and through to woods to Grandma’s house on Thursday morning, it’s nice to stop along the way at McDonald’s or Starbucks, or to top-off the tank.

Forgot the rolls? Thank goodness the supermarket is open until six.

After the feast, a lot of families take in a movie. Someone has to butter the popcorn and sweep the aisles.

Someone has to suit up if we’re going to watch the big game.

Bartenders, cops and firefighters, the doctors and nurses on duty in the emergency rooms, the selfless volunteers who serve holiday meals for the hungry; they work holidays.

Anybody know anyone serving in the military?

And journalists, I can’t forget about them.  While their surfeited bosses sit at home or sun themselves on a beach somewhere, journalists unable to fly home for a brief weekend settle for a cup of Top Ramon at their desks.

With some professions, working the holidays just comes with the territory.

Like the Pope. He always works Christmas and Easter.

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