Monthly Archives: March 2012

The Ballpark with Thomas, my son

I don’t often get back to Michigan, at most maybe once a year

We’ve lived in Britain since ’98 and Motown’s a long way from here.

But in August last year, 2006, we came over for a 3 week stay

To visit my in laws and while we were there, we saw the Tigers play.

With friends on Sunday afternoon for the Tribe game.

On a brilliant Sunday with several friends, my daughter, my son and my wife,

Detroit beat the Tribe in the very first ball game my son had seen in his life.

They were giving out ‘Pudge’ bats to kids that day, and Tom still has his at home

And later that week I went out and bought him the very first mitt of his own.

He didn’t know which hand to wear it on, but was eager to give it a try,

So I taught him to get down behind a ground ball and use both hands to catch a pop fly.

We watched all the Tigers games live on Fox, and SportsCenter for all the best plays

And I told him stories of great former players like Ty Cobb, and Gehrig, and Mays.

Then as we were watching TWIB one day he said to me out of the blue:

“Dad, can we go see the Tigers again, but this time just me and you?”

There were only a few days before we went home but I said that I’d try just the same

And managed to get us a couple of tix for the Thursday night Rangers game.

As we drove downtown on I-75, he just couldn’t sit still in his seat,

And he talked about Pudge (his favorite player) and of Zumaya bringing the heat.

We arrived just in time for Rangers BP, and found a spot near at the wall

Where we both put out mitts on and patiently waited for a chance to catch a fly ball.

Tom waits patiently at the wall

I told him that once, a few years before, I’d caught a home run at a game,

And also that catching a ball was quite rare, but he wanted to try just the same

After 25 minutes we’d had no luck at all so I said “Shall we go to the store?

We can buy you a cap”, but he looked up and said “Can we wait just a few minutes more?”

So we stayed by the wall near the foul pole in right, with all the hits going to left

But Tom wouldn’t budge and he stared towards home with his mitt clutched tight to his chest.

Then a lefty came up and I prayed for a ball that was inside, and that he might pull it –

And right at that second he turned on a pitch and it shot towards right like a bullet.

It started out looking like going to our right, but then started curving a lot.

And I know from its flight it was going to be close and that this would be our only shot.

Loud shouts of “INCOMING” came from behind but no way would I let this one drop.

I reached out my arm above my son’s head, and the ball hit my mitt with a pop.

Tom spun around quickly and stared at the seats to see where the missile had gone

And was ready to charge off and look for his prize, but then he heard me say “Hey, Tom!”

He looked up at me and I’ll never forget that look of pride and love

As I stretched out my hand with the baseball in it, and dropped it into his glove.

Tom's patience is rewarded

Shouts of “Nice catch Dad!” came from all round, and Tom’s grin was about a mile wide

And as long as I live I’ll always remember, and get kind of choked up inside.

That wonderful night when Tom got his ball, and to cap it all off the Tigs won!

I couldn’t have dreamed of a more perfect night at the ballpark with Thomas, my son.

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Posted by on March 31, 2012 in Personal


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When does ‘Taking Inspiration’ become ‘Taking Liberties’?

Andrew Lloyd Webber

Andrew Lloyd Webber

There’s a very amusing and thought-provoking video on YouTube that questions how closely related the original compositions of Andrew Lloyd-Webber are to other pre-existing original compositions.

The author very wisely steers a wide course around making a direct accusation, merely presenting what he considers to be the similarities and leaving viewers to make up their own minds.

I’ve seen it several times before and it always makes me laugh, but I watched it again over the weekend and it was while I was mulling over the questions raised that I saw an Allstate ad on TV, and noticed a striking similarity between the payoff gag at the end and a similar one in a Hanes commercial from 2010, though in the Allstate ad it’s less well executed. It’s the kind of similarity that, while perhaps less evident at script stage, becomes glaringly obvious in the final execution.

And there are, of course, many other examples. An ad for the ‘Mail on Sunday’ national newspaper in the UK comes to mind, bearing as it does a striking resemblance to one for Argentine brewer ‘Quilmes’ that debuted in late 2011. On the other hand, the term ‘Battle of the Sexes’ is one in common parlance and, being for different products, in different market sectors and indeed different hemispheres, perhaps it is unsurprising that the similarities only came to light as a result of a YouTube search for “Battle of the Sexes ad”.

Of all the other ‘coincidences’ available however, perhaps none is as striking as the commercials for Renault and Nissan that broke during the middle of 2011. Nobody (seriously, NOBODY) can fail to notice the similarities between Nissan’s ‘Leaf’ spot through TBWA and Renault’s ZE through Publicis Conseil.

When the story first broke, there were reports of accusation and counter-accusation between the two agencies. Even more interesting was the fact that in 1999 the two automakers became strategic partners and took ownership stakes in each other. Clearly there would be some economies of scale from this, but marketing and sales were two areas that were apparently considered sacrosanct. So, who did the dirty deed?

Then the news broke that perhaps neither had a right to the creative high ground for their respective executions. If the Leaf and EZ spots seemed closely related, then the DNA trail was further extended to a speculative spot produced by some German film students the year before for Mutsubishi’s i-Miev which, while it seems to have had very little if any airtime, did garner several ad industry awards.

“How despicable that the ad was stolen from some German students” I thought. “I know they were pushing green technology but this was probably not the kind of recycling they had in mind.”

All went quiet in the industry press (hardly surprising – the marketing news publications always prefer to lick the hand that feeds them rather than bite it), and I had pretty much forgotten about it until recently, when I stumbled across this spot on YouTube; a Public Service Announcement from ‘Plug In America’, an advocacy group for electric powered vehicles. It was uploaded in the fall of 2010, which kinda predates the Mitsubishi execution. As if the whole scenario were not bizarre enough already, the PSA is executed in the well-trodden Mac vs PC style, which led one of the viewers on YouTube to comment “Get your own idea!”, with no concept of how ironic this would prove to be.

The album art for Talking Heads’ 1981 release ‘Stop Making Sense’ offered the opinion that there are a finite number of jokes in the universe. Maybe the same is true of advertising and musical creation too.


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