Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Spot News!

It felt like old times for me today. I got a series of frantic phone calls from co-workers requiring my immediate attention. An event was transpiring and it needed to be documented. There was no time to waste. So, I jumped in the car with a camera, called another co-worker with a video camera, and off we went. It was like running to a house fire during my days as a TV newshuman. This was big news, in fact, but just for us. Ducks were hatching!
We have been watching mother ducks on some of our company's property for weeks. They have been diligently setting, protecting their eggs. On Halloween, hatching happened.At first, just a beak. This process took much longer than I anticipated. Not being Mr. Nature Boy, I had never actually witnessed a hatching. I've seen a litter of puppies and a litter of kittens born. I saw my children spring forth from the womb, but this was my first up close bird experience.Truly, it was all very exciting. We have recently lost an entire batch of ducklings to the varmints, so people were running around trying to keep the little guys safe.Some of them took to water like....well, ducks!Nobody was really sure if rescuing them to keep them from being eaten by cats, turtles, raccoons or whatever is a good idea. All we know is every one of the little swimmers pictured below met its demise within a week of hatching:So, every reasonable effort is being made to keep our new little friends quacking, and that's good news. After all, just breaking into the world can exhaust a duck. He will take all the help he can get.

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Watching Scotty Blow

November arrives with little fanfare in north Louisiana. Assuming the temperatures moderate a bit, people are grateful for a break from the heat. It gives sports fans an opportunity to concentrate on what’s really important around here: the stretch run of the college football season, the playoff push for the NFL and the opportunity to throw a rubber crawfish onto a sheet of ice in south Bossier.
Fifteen years ago, who would have thought that minor league hockey would become such a part of our lifestyles that it would be mentioned in the same paragraph with football? But there it is, make no mistake about it. With the success of LSU and the Dallas Cowboys this year, it may take the Mudbugs a few weeks to capture the kind of attention to which they’ve grown accustomed. If they win, it will happen.
You can count on it just like you can expect to see their veteran coach have an attack of apoplexy over a perceived slight by an opponent or a guy in a striped shirt. That seems even more likely now that the team is winless in its first five games. Watching Scott Muscutt get angry is one of the great joys of attending a Mudbugs’ game. He’s a great guy and a successful coach. It’s fantastic that he has a job where so demonstrably venting frustration is considered quite appropriate. Maybe that’s one of the reasons this team has been successful in attracting fans: the flummoxed working man can get a vicarious thrill or a sense of relief just watching Musky work.
This has been a special season for LSU football fans, too. For people in north Louisiana, it has been especially nice because a Shreveport kid has had such a direct impact on the Tigers’ offensive accomplishments. Jacob Hester plays running back, fullback and special teams. He was a true football hero in the win over Florida, a game which many veteran observers believe might have been the most significant game played in Tiger Stadium in a generation. His determination to do whatever it takes to convert a fourth down or to score the game winning touchdown created an enduring LSU legend. As more than one person has said, only slightly kidding, Jacob Hester may go the rest of his life without having to buy a meal in Baton Rouge. He may not make it to the NFL, but his name is tattooed into Tiger lore. He will play out his final season of eligibility this month, and hopefully will put a punctuation mark on a remarkable college career in January.
While the Saints lost their first four games, Cowboys faithful are energized by the emergence of charismatic quarterback Tony Romo, a rising pro football star. November will tell us a lot about how good the Cowboys are. In the NFL, you’re only as good as your most recent playoff game. Still, there’s plenty to smile about for fans of the Silver and Blue.
Once those questions are answered, it will be time to turn attention to the guys on skates. It should be just about the right time for the current version of the Mudbugs to define themselves as a hockey club. There’s a new general manager in the office, but the same coach is on the bench. That means the on-ice attitude so many local fans have learned to love will be firmly in place. Certainly, they want their team to win consistently. Every once in a while, though, things are a little more entertaining when controversy creeps in. That’s when Scott might struggle with his composure, which brings a new level of suspense to things. It’s something to anticipate once we get November behind us.

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Saturday, October 27, 2007

The Happy Couple Gets Dressed Up

(Stonewall, LA)- The Happy Couple is doing High School Things for the last time. Tonight, it was dressing up for homecoming. She looked beautiful. He at least put on a pressed shirt and a tie.
This is a "worlds collide" couple, which is clearly illustrated by his presence in a Gallery of Dead Animal Heads. This imposing presentation belongs to her family. I can't recall ever firing a gun and I certainly have never intentionally killed an animal. I'm not offering any kind of philosophiccal opposition. I'm simply pointing out the stark contrast in lifestyles.
Nonetheless, these two have been together long enough to have attended several school-related events which require cleaning up for the evening. That, they did. We have reached a point where we just watch them leave and hope they come home safe.So far, they always have.
I don't know where they will be a year from now, except no longer in high school. For now, all they can really do is cling to one another for all it's worth and just see what life places before them. I hope they enjoyed the dance.

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Unearthing the Homer Gene

(Monroe, LA)- Being a freelance, part-time broadcaster can be a lot of fun. Calling games one or two days a week is a far cry from the daily grind of generating daily sporscasts. For the better part of three decades, I have taken pride in being essentially objective. In fact, as a home-team broadcaster for the last couple of years, I have upset a few players and a coach or two by "calling it as I see it." I have said more than once that I don't have "homer" cell in my body.
So, imagine my surprise when, during a tightly contested high school football game, I heard myself referring to referees, saying things like "These guys are just incompetent. I don't know who they are and I don't want to know. I hope when they see the post-game report, if they ever care to, they are embarrassed. Because they should be.
"Look at them out there: Dumb, Dumber and Dumbest staring at each other wide-eyed like deer in the headlights. They have no idea what's going on."
"During this time-out, can somebody please run down to the field and give these guys five dollars so they can buy a clue?"

It's safe to say I got caught up in the emotion of the game (which our guys won, 17-16) and maybe I should be a little ashamed. Maybe I will be, but for now I'm not. I am standing by what I said to the head coach moments after the game's nail-biting conclusion, "I've been a sportscaster for almost thirty years and I'm telling you right now, that's the worst piece of s--t officiating I have ever &*%$ing seen." One of the assistant coaches high-fived me and said, "tell us how you really feel."
I'm just getting this off my chest, because I'm not ready to apologize. So, I will simply leave you with another line my voice spoke (I'm taking the position that I was having some kind of out-of-body experience): "The white cap threw the flag, and he did it with flourish. So, he obviously feels strongly about whatever infraction his swelled head imagined out there." Like I said, I'm glad I don't know those guys. I hope they don't know me. I will try to stuff Ugly Homer back into his corner in time for next week's game.

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Friday, October 26, 2007

Found in the Fog

There's something exciting about a good fogbank. Southeast Shreveport was shrouded Friday morning and I found myself energized. A cool, damp morning brought out the kid in me and I wound up along the banks of a bayou.Everything seemed a little cleaner and somewhat more mysterious in the fog. I was enjoying the peace of the morning when a rumble rose behind me. I didn't realize how close I was to a bridge over the bayou. I had to stomp through the woods a little and climb a little rise, but I found the source of the commotion.Once the train passed, feeling adventurous, I walked to the middle of the bridge, stared north down the tracks.Another thing caught my eye: as Halloween approaches, this seems eerily appropriate.
Then, the sun rose and the fog cleared.

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Thursday, October 25, 2007

The Smiler and the Sleeper

My daughter went to a Halloween party. She remembered her costume, but forgot her camera. She was running with her crew, a collection of girls which might attract attention. So, it's really no surprise that I found a photo from the party on the internet:For me, the best part of stumbling across this picture was the caption posted by the photographer: "Their orthodontists would be proud"
While funny, it is also accurate. Thank you, Dr. Clay Cook.
It also strikes me as disturbingly funny that I find photos on the internet of my daughter smiling in vibrant color, while I stumble across black and white representations of her brother sleeping at school:
He snoozes. She smiles, even when she seems to be suffering from the heat:
My life's struggle in photos. To be fair, he can sleep all he wants if he keeps up his grades and test scores. He's doing quite well academically, to be honest. It's probably because he's well rested.
And, for the record, her report card was pretty impressive, too. Keep smiling.
Friday Update:
Daddy D blog pressure sufficiently applied, a photo emerges on the internet (still black and white) of Mr. Man all bright-eyed and pointy-headed:

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Sometimes, Less is More

There was a beautiful moment during tonight's broadcast on FOX of game two of the World Series. I was so moved by it that I took photos of my teevee screen:It's not what you see here that got my attention. It's what you don't see. For some reaason, all graphics disappeared from the screen. There was nothing there but baseball.
I know we can never go back. The networks have to brand the screen. The Attention Deficit Disorder crowd doesn't want to wait 30 seconds for the ball-strike count and the score to be put on the screen for ten seconds.
But, there it was, for a blissful minute and a half or so. Watching the game in HD with no graphics was like looking through a window.
My joy was short-lived in more than one way. earlier in the evening, I hosted a local radio show. I said this was a "strap-in Thursday." Not only is the World Series on, but there's a match-up of top 20 college football teams on ESPN. It's Thursday night, which means popular TV shows like "Grey's Anatomy" and "The Office" are airing. I made a comment that the man of the house would command the HD television for sports. This led to astonished text messaging from a couple of my buddies. I'll show them. 8:00 central time arrived, and look who's watching what on the big TV:
Virginia Tech and Boston College look really good on a little TV in the kitchen. It's true: Less is more.

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Monday, October 22, 2007

Ode to the Stream

The fair fountain flows not.
Forgotten, fallow and forlorn,
A thirst to quench it knows not where.
Parched lips pass by unaware
Of the purpose for which it was born.
Too common, with contagion in the air.

Seriously, does anybody use these things anymore?
Recently at work I had one removed because it was being used as a planter. It was easy to water the plant, but it was ugly. It had no avant-garde artfulness. It was just tacky.
At school, there would be a line for the water fountain between classes. They used to be a common sight in department stores and other public places. I pass by this one on a daily basis and I have never seen anyone use it.

I checked, just to make sure it works. The drain pan was literally dusty.
The drinking fountain: a monument to a simpler, more trusting time.
Keep 'em slupring.

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Sunday, October 21, 2007

Somebody Hire the Cheese

Am I the only person in the universe who thinks this sign is funny?
When I saw it at the SuperStore tonight, I thought, "entertaining cheeses?" What, do they play the piano, tell jokes, juggle or what?
I asked the lady behind the counter about it. I wondered aloud if the cheeses are suffering from some kind of performance anxiety. She said, "Why don't you just pray about it?"
I said that was good advice and walked away. I can't wait for the next show by the entertaining cheeses. I hear their opening act is the amusing apples.

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A Ministry of Medicine

This was an enormous day for the in-laws. My wife's father, a retired priest, has started a mobile medical ministry which he hopes will reach the underserved throughout the area. He and my mother-in-law bought a fancy recreational vehicle, had it customized for its medical mission, and donated it to the diocese.
The vehicle was dedicated today complete with pomp, circumstance and a bishop's pointy hat.
We knew something was up when my wife's sister, who lives Deep in the Heart of Texas, showed up. My mother-in-law insisted that everyone show up for church. My wife was summoned to read a new testament lesson, something she has not done before. Later, the four of them were called to the front of the church and the congregation was alerted that the Big RV would be dedicated in honor of my wife and her sister, both medical professionals. Someone even painted their names on the side of the RV. A big crowd assembled in the parking lot and the family greeted well wishers. All of this was a complete surprise to the ladies, and things got a little emotional for a moment or two. It's not every day an entire convocational ministry, not to mention a big RV, is dedicated to you.
The gesture is genuine and touching, but now the work starts. That involves finding people to go in the RV out into the region to perform the medical ministry. If that doesn't work out, my wife's name is on the thing. Maybe we can use it for tailgate parties at LSU games.

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The Recovery Process

After suffering through an all-loser football weekend, the recovery process got off to a rousing Saturday start. LSU's ridiculous last-second win over Auburn was a wild way to wind up the day. The Tigers scored on a 22-yard pass play with one second showing on the clock to win by six points. My wife and I watched the game with friends, something we don't do very often. I like to pay attention to the game in a way that is virtually impossible when you're surrounded by other people. The way the game unfolded brought out the inner child in some people. Imagine a successful business man in his fifties cursing and screaming at the top of his lungs. He is red-faced with alternating anguish and amazement at what he's witnessing on the plasma screen. That's what we had Saturday night. The thing is, I know there were many thousands of similar people across the state behaving similarly. That's what LSU football does to you.
If the Florida game two weeks ago was the greatest night in Tiger Stadium history, then you have to mention the Auburn win in the same breath. How can you not be a college football fan?
Earlier in the day, my daughter's high school team bounced back from last week's crushing loss with a thrilling three-point victory over a cross-town school. It was a sunny, windswept afternoon...a perfect way to pass some time on an October Saturday.
OH! and my wife's college team beat Steve Spurrier. There is hope that Vanderbilt may win its way into a bowl game. Yes, there are Vandy fans. They don't have a lot to cheer about, but they're around.
On top of that, the Cowboys bounced back from their loss to the Powerful Patriots with a come-from-behind victory over the Minnesota Vikings.
Plus, the Saints got a bruising performance from high profile running back Reggie Bush to beat Atlanta. The Saints have won two straight games after starting the season 0-4.
So, we're feeling a lot better about life these days. Two weeks until LSU collides with Nick Saban.

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Saturday, October 20, 2007

Watching the Boys Grow

One of my favorite internet pastimes is visiting the blog of my friend Matthew in Oregon. He and his wife have one-year-old twin boys, and I love watching Will and Nate grow.

It dawned on me last night that maybe one of the reasons I'm so fascinated by those boys is because they look remarkably like another guy I knew fifteen or sixteen years ago.

People change, of course, especially the kids. So, I feel a compulsion to warn Matt and Julie that these alert little parent worshippers will one day remove themselves from your constant influence and be out in the world on their own. Since you are raising them properly, you can expect them to represent you and your family with the highest of educational and behavioral standards. For instance, it pleased me so to discover on the internet a photo of my son, a senior in high school, giving his full attention to learning. It's good to know the bright-eyed boy from the swingset is realizing his full potential.
My son is on the right path. His haircut tells you everything you need to know. Watching his hair splay in countless different directions, I was thinking "rock star." He's not bad with his guitar. However, he has found a nobler profession in which his hair can be a valuable tool: Viking! He will explore the seas, pillage villages, have women in many ports and establish a benevolent dictatorship on the Faroe Islands.
That hat, in reality, is the start of what no doubt will be a carefully planned Halloween costume. He looked so sumblimely ridiculous in that thing that I broke out in snorty laughs while tears were shooting from my eyes like Chilly Willy.
He will need those cold weather coping skills when he conquers the Faroes. As the newly installed benevolent ruler of Nordicland, he will no doubt be pleased.
Which bring me back to Matthew and his boys: twice the fun, or double trouble? Come see me in fifteen years.
Now, a rare Daddy D editorial note: In honor of the commenters: Flava Flav context:

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