TV, tall trees really don’t coexist well | Mann Overboard

Bill Mann
Posted 3/15/23

My license plate says “The Evergreen State,” and that sounds nice and green. But there’s a down side to all these trees, too. They’re impediments to reception. 

Guy …

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TV, tall trees really don’t coexist well | Mann Overboard


My license plate says “The Evergreen State,” and that sounds nice and green. But there’s a down side to all these trees, too. They’re impediments to reception. 

Guy from DirecTV came by the other day after I’d made a call, suspecting that our satellite TV box had died after 12 years of faithful service. It had spotty reception. For someone who made his living watching the tube as a TV critic, this was a big deal.

The guy comes in, and checks out our satellite box. No luck. He then pulls out a small device that looks a bit like a protractor. (Remember those?) 

He then walks around our yard, pointing the device skyward at several spots, then announces, “There’s nothing I can do.” He points to tall trees in our neighbor’s yard, and dishes this out to me: “Those trees have grown a lot taller since we installed your dish. They’re blocking all the sight-lines to the satellite.” 

There was nothing I could do, because my neighbor isn’t about to cut down his big Douglas firs just so I can watch Wrestlemania. 

OK, just kidding. I’m an MMA guy.

OK, kidding about that, too. The answer? You might be astounded to know. No more tree barriers to interrupt my viewing. It’s TV via the internet now. 

Some good came of this arboreal blockage: I can now watch Canadian TV, which Direct doesn’t offer: the Vancouver CBC affiliate, CBUT-TV. Hockey time! 

— Speaking of our British Columbia neighbors, there’s an oddball statue across the street from the stately provincial parliament in Victoria: An old lady … with a monkey on her back.

But she’s no junkie. It’s Emily Carr, esteemed Canadian painter, who was celebrated here in PT a few years black.

Emily, you see, had a pet monkey. She was quite the eccentric. 

My wife has read several books about naturalist Carr, who’s widely known in Canada. 

Before she died, Carr and asked to be dropped into the ground at Ross Bay Cemetery in Victoria in a burlap bag. A green burial, and way ahead of her time. (We’ve visited her grave.) 

Carr had quite an ingenious way to get rid of tiresome dinner guests. She actually had ropes attached to her dining-room chairs. So whenever her visitors had outlasted their welcome, she simply began raising the furniture toward the ceiling with a winch. 

Talk about dropping — or raising — a hint. 

— This reminds me of the classic Groucho Marx farewell line, one that I’ve used sparingly — and only on dinner guests with a sense of humor: “I’ve had a lovely evening,” Groucho would say, “But unfortunately, this wasn’t it.”

— Whale watching: We’re about to be mired in March Madness, which has sounds more like a mattress sale than a college basketball tournament.

I don’t partake of any of these all-too-ubiquitous televised games. But there was a time in which I was quite into college basketball, back when I was sports editor of the school newspaper at Colorado State. 

I left a mini-legacy there. I named the university’s gym. 

The CSU alumni magazine has given me credit for this dubious distinction.

When they were finishing the big new basketball fieldhouse in Fort Collins, Colorado, I wrote in my column that its oddball, low-slung design looked like a beached whale.

So I started calling it Moby Gym in my column. The name stuck, and the university subsequently made it as the official name of the basketball arena. 

Anybody got a building around here needs a name? If I come up with something, you can buy me dinner.

— I’m writing this column just after getting two teeth pulled. My dentists all grudgingly like this list, Three Things That Will Freak Out Your Dentist. 

Swallow everything he or she puts into your mouth.

When they remove the suction from your mouth, keep making the sucking noise. 

And finally, the one dentists really love:

Every so often, act like you’ve gone unconscious. 

(PT humorist Bill Mann has been a featured columnist at daily newspapers in San Francisco, Oakland, Montreal and Honolulu, as well as USA Today. Reach him at