By Suzanne Sparrow Watson

        Ray Nitschke

I’ve been watching a lot of the NFL Network lately.  It beats watching the news and it provides me with some people for whom to root.  That alone distinguishes it from the news channels.  There is a segment on the NFL morning show titled, “The Fit List”, short for outfit.  Each week they profile players, not for their accomplishments on the field, but for the sartorial splendor exhibited on the way into the game.  Yes, before the first whistle is blown, players are lauded for their achievement in wearing designer pants and carrying Gucci briefcases. Last week there were some particularly wild ‘fits’, and I couldn’t help but wonder what the old-time players – Ray Nitschke, Mike Ditka, Dick Butkus, et al – would think about the emphasis on designer clothing.


Deion on draft day

Today, players are judged on their “drip”. Football drip is all about how players look and carry themselves, from their clothing and accessories to their overall personal style.  It is also known as having swag, sauce, or style.  The focus on football fashion can be traced back to the intersection of hip-hop and sports culture. In the 1990s, hip-hop music began to grow more popular with athletes around the country, and many started to embrace similar fashion styles associated with what they saw their favorite artists wearing. Baggy clothes, gold chains, and other flashy accessories became more mainstream, creating new, unique, and bold looks that would eventually become known as “sauce” or “swag”.  Eventually, football players like Deion Sanders started to incorporate their own personal touches into their game-day fits, both on and off the field. As a result, football swag became an essential part of the culture of the sport.

Tyrod Taylor

As off-putting as this focus on fashion can be to hard core football fans, there is some sense in it for the players.  Most of the well-dressed athletes now have stylists who negotiate contracts with clothing and accessory companies. Tyrod Tayor, for example, the back-up quarterback for the New York Giants, has teamed up with high-end boutique Jeffrey, where fans can shop his Sunday looks — ranging from a Gucci jacket and YSL jeans to a Balenciaga sweatshirt.  His stylist says, “We’ve created revenue without him ever throwing a ball.”  In a sport where the average career lasts less than five years, it makes sense for these guys to make as much money as they can, as fast as possible.


The Tablecloth

This season a lot of focus has been on the Kelce brothers, who could not be more dissimilar in their game day ‘fits.  Travis has long been known for his wardrobe.  In fact, when his mother was asked if she was disappointed that she never had a daughter, she responded, “No. I had Travis and he’s a fashionista.”  Now that he has a famous girlfriend, there is even more attention to what he wears on game day and if there is a secret message in it.  I’m not so sure there is.  At times his outfit resembles something one might select blindly from a Goodwill bag.  And sometimes he looks like a picnic tablecloth.  But I’m sure he’s making money hand over fist, and good for him.

Jason being Jason

On the other hand, his brother, Jason, is more old-school.  He was recently asked why he doesn’t up his pre-game look, to which he replied, “Some people go to play football, and some people play dress up. I don’t like to play dress up. I like to play football, alright?”  He added that he had no interest in shopping or color coordinating his outfits with matching belts and shoes.  Last week he also demonstrated that sometimes clothing is optional.


I like to imagine what the notoriously tough Green Bay Packers coach, Vince Lombardi, would think of all this.  Lombardi coached during a time when coaches wore suits and ties (and oftentimes, hats) on the sidelines and players were expected to dress similarly.  Lombardi hated agents, preferring to negotiate with his players one-on-one. There is a legend (somewhat disputed but not by Lombardi) that he once traded a player within five minutes of that player even mentioning that he had an agent. It makes my hair curl to think what Lombardi might do when confronted with a player’s stylist.  I’m not sure there are enough four-letter words to encompass his thoughts, but it sure would be fun to listen in.

The Blog I Never Thought I’d Write

by Bob Sparrow

Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, Tony – known in ‘the industry’ as EGOT!

I like a good story well told, but I’ve never been a big fan of Hollywood types, so I don’t look forward to this time of year when our entertainers/celebrities practically break their arms patting themselves on the back while red carpet hosts comment on ‘who’ they are wearing.  Yes, it’s ‘Awards Season’ and here are a few you’re probably familiar with, but believe me, there’s lots more:  Screen Actors Guild Awards, Critics Choice Award, GLAAD, NAACP Image Award, People’s Choice, Golden Globes, Emmy, Tony, Grammy and Oscar.

But, instead of taking the ‘easy pot shots’ at this group of thespians for being self-centered snobs, which many of them are, I thought I’d look for the smart, the charitable and the less self-centered of the group.  And surprise, I found some..

I first looked for actors/actresses who are on the high end of the intelligence scale; so first, just in case you’re like me and not on the genius side of IQs, here’s the general rankings:

120 -140 – Very Superior intelligence                                                                                                                                            110 -120 – Superior intelligence                                                                                                                                                        90 – 110 – Normal, or average intelligence                                                                                                                                      80 – 90 – Dullness, rarely classifiable as feeble-minded   (typically where our politicians fall)

So, here’s what I found . . .

Natalie Portman graduated from Harvard University with a degree in Psychology.  She speaks five languages fluently and has co-authored 2 technical research papers in neuroscience, which were published in reputable journals

Natalie Portman

Sharon Stone is reputed to have an IQ of around 150. Sharon was considered academically gifted as a child and entered the 2nd grade when she was five years old.  She was admitted to University of Pennsylvania on a creative writing scholarship at age 15.

Cindy Crawford has an IQ of about 150; studied chemical engineering on scholarship at Northwestern University.

OK, let’s let some guys into this club . . .

David Duchovny has an IQ around 150 and a degree in English literature from Princeton University and an M.A. in English literature from Yale University

Ashton Kutcher has an IQ of 160 and was offered a scholarship to attend MIT, but didn’t.  He once said, “The sexiest thing in the entire world is being really smart.”

James Wood has an IQ of somewhere between 160 – 180; he dropped out of MIT one semester short of graduating.  He was going to be a surgeon before acting got in the way.

Ken Jeong

Ken Jeong was pre-med at Duke University before getting into acting, and then completed his medical degree at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1995.

Conan O’Brian has an IQ of 160; he graduated from high school as valedictorian.  He went to Harvard where he graduated magna cum laude in History & Literature.

Not an actor, but a rock star, who typically have similar personalities, Brian May, lead guitarist for the rock band  Queen, has an IQ of around 170 and has a PhD in astrophysics.

OK, so there are some smart entertainers, actually a lot more than I thought, but who’s doing some good with their celebrity?

Top of the list has to go to Taylor Swift; it’s hard to pin down all that she donates, as it’s $100,000 here and $1,000,000 there, and amounts she doesn’t disclose for causes she believes in that need financial help.  Class act!!!

Taylor Swift

Oprah Winfrey, another noted ‘giver’ who has donated more than 40 million dollars through her Oprah Winfrey Foundation, to help women and children with education and health care around the world.

Mel Gibson has given 10 million dollars to reimburse hospitals for health care given to children, as well as his contributions to Holy Family Catholic Church in the sum of over 15 million dollars.

George Clooney is known for donating generously to charity. He has given away millions of dollars to various causes, most notably to the Not On Our Watch charity, which works to prevent and stop genocide. He has given a total of more than $14 million to the organization.

Of course, there’s more, actually lots more, but I came away from this ‘research project’ with a little different attitude; yes there are still lots of egotistical, selfish entertainers, but as noted here, there are some really good and smart ones too.




By Suzanne Sparrow Watson


As my brother wrote last week, a new year often brings new resolutions.  Mine usually involve giving up cake and exercising more.  These resolutions are normally shot to smithereens by January 4th, our oldest grandson’s birthday.  The occasion obviously requires eating cake, whether I’m with him in person or not.  But in 2024 my goal has nothing to do with sugary confections: I have resolved to learn Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata” on the piano.  You didn’t know I play the piano?  Neither does my piano.  I took piano lessons for two years at age 12.  I liked it, but by age 14 I liked boys and my friends more and stopped the lessons.  However, I still played occasionally and when I entered the Junior Miss contest in 1968, I performed two songs as my “talent”, which was good enough to place me second runner-up.  Otherwise known as third place.  My securing a trophy only speaks to how awful the rest of the talent was.

Alan teaching grandkids how to play

As the years went on I gave up playing entirely, mainly because I didn’t own a piano (a critical requirement).  In my early 30’s I bought a house and purchased my first piano.  I was working and had a long commute, so I didn’t have a lot of time to devote to playing, but I still would find solace in it when I had the time.  Then I met Alan.  I always said he fell in love with me at first sight…of my piano.  He loved playing the piano and was very talented.  He never took a lesson but could play by ear and figure out almost any tune.  I eventually stopped playing, as I didn’t want to subject him to my halting, wrong-key, playing.  Any of you who have suffered through kids taking piano lessons know exactly how excruciating it is.

Giulietta Guicciardi

But now I am drawn to the piano once again.  I still have every piece of sheet music I’ve ever owned, including my “Music from the Movies” book that contains songs from Chariots of Fire and Urban Cowboy. Okay, so my music is a bit dated. I thought about buying some more current scores, but instead, I picked up my “easy” version of “Moonlight Sonata”. I love that song and could easily re-learn it, but I decided to download the sheet music as written by Beethoven, in C-sharp minor, no less.   A friend commented that she thinks it is such a sad-sounding song, and questioned whether I might want to learn something more upbeat.  But I have always loved the melodious, haunting rhythm of the sonata.  Plus, it was actually written as a love song.  Beethoven dedicated the “Moonlight” sonata to his 16-year-old lover and student, Giulietta Cuicciardi, with whom he had fallen in love. He proposed marriage to her, but her father forbade her from marrying him as he deemed Beethoven to be without rank.  History does not record whether her father lived long enough to see the error of his ways.  “Moonlight” was also something of a miracle, as the deafness that would eventually engulf Beethoven started as he was writing it.  Even though the deafness was at its early stages, the progression was aggressive, and he was reported to have broken several pianos trying to make out the sound of the keys.

I’m guessing that if Beethoven could hear me playing, he’d be breaking my piano. But with some perseverance and watching a wonderful teacher on YouTube, my goal is that by year’s end I will have it memorized.  That is not such an easy feat these days.  I can’t remember to take out the garbage can out on the right day.  Perhaps I will be able to record it and embed a video into this blog at year’s end.  Or not.  In any event, I’ll give fair warning so you can get your earplugs ready.  In the meantime, if you want a real treat, look up Alicia Keyes playing “Moonlight Sonata” at Kobe Bryant’s memorial service.  Truly one of the most beautiful pieces of music ever performed.

Those Pesky Resolutions

by Bob Sparrow

Definition of New Year’s Resolutions:

A tradition where people set goals or intentions for self-improvement, aiming to bring about positive changes in various areas such as health, relationships, habits, career, personal development, or lifestyle choices.

But you and I both know what the real definition of ‘New Year’s resolutions’ is:

A list of improvements that your spouse has reminded you of, multiple times, that are both created and then forgotten during the first several weeks of the year. 

Yes, this is the time of year when we like to think we have some control over our future and so we set goals to be a better version of ourselves going forward.  For most of us, the die has been cast long ago and there’s little we can do about it now, but hey, I don’t want to start the year on a downer, so let’s talk about your resolutions.

What?! You’ve made no resolutions!  Then you’re probably wiser than most as Forbes Health/One says 91% of Americans fail at their New Year’s resolutions.  So, yes, it’s probably best that you didn’t commit to successfully juice cleansing again this year.

But, we here at From a Birds’ Eye View are here to help, so in the off-chance that you made some resolutions, here are some tips for either adjusting, adding to, or eliminating them altogether.

Lose weight – it’s always at the top of your list, and I want to get this one out of the way early, because you’re getting older and most likely more sedentary, absent a limb amputation, at this time next year, you’re going to weigh about the same, maybe a few pounds more – deal with it.

 Cut down on alcohol consumption – try ‘Dry January __’ – Notice I left a space at the end of ‘January’ so you can later put in a number like 8th, and thus achieve your goal by not drinking on January 8th.

Conserve water – instead of shortening your showers, eliminate them altogether – buy more deodorant

Increase antioxidants – You may not fully understand what antioxidants are or what they do, but you know you should be increasing them since they protect your body from the damaging effects of free radicals.  So . . . eat more dark chocolate.

Greet friends like your dog greets you – Commit to greeting your friends with the enthusiasm that your dog greets you when you first get home; but without humping their legs

Increase mental acuity – This year, think of another password other than ‘Password’

Drink more water – Don’t forget that beer is mostly water

OK, how about some real advice for achieving those pesky resolutions:

  1. You’ll make some tough goals, but also make some that you’ll enjoy
  2. Don’t just set the goal, define how you are going to achieve it. Most of us want to eat better – describe exactly what that means
  3. Rather than adding things you’ll do, look for things to subtract from your life that would improve it
  4. Forgive your failures and celebrate your small successes

Again, just as an aid, here’s an example of a nice short list of resolutions:

  1. Stop making lists

B. Be more consistent

4. Learn to count

Happiest of New Years to you and your family!


By Suzanne Sparrow Watson

Jeff the Elf

Elvis was in the building!

Here we are, a new year before us, with optimism and hope for a happy, healthy and prosperous 2024.  But before we leave 2023, I want to give a shout out to Bob and his wife, Linda, for hosting a fun and frolicking Christmas weekend.  As I mentioned in my last blog, there was a family talent show on Christmas Eve.  The emphasis was slightly more on fun than talent, but it was the highlight of the weekend.  Bob’s son, Jeff, served as MC.  I knew he would be up to the task but it was confirmed when he arrived dressed as Elf, replete with beanie and pointed shoes. He sang “I’ll Be Home for Christmas”, with some slight lyric variations, and was sensational. Next, we had a surprise visit from Elvis (he looked amazingly like Bob) who serenaded us with his classic, “Blue Christmas”, not only on guitar but with kazoo at the same time.  He’s a very talented guy!

Us, not singing, thank God

My family did a riff on the Brady Bunch theme song with lyrics changed to poke fun at the assembled group.  My nieces, Stephanie and Dana, sang their traditional “Sisters” song from White Christmas, this year waving turquoise feathered fans, looking just like Rosemary Clooney and Vera Ellen.  My great-nieces, Emma and Addison, sang “All I Want for Christmas is My Two Front Teeth“, which was especially appropriate given that Addison is missing her two front teeth!  The show ended with Jeff singing, “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch!”, and all of the little children were enthralled by his performance.  There is nothing like small children to bring back the magic of Christmas and restore a sense of gratitude.  All in all, it was a great – and memorable – holiday.

This year, he was Christmas angel

But here we are in a new year and ready to take it on.  I am an (overly) sentimental person, so New Year’s Eve is always a bittersweet holiday for me.  Particularly as I’ve grown older, I think about the retiring year and recall the fun times, but also the loss of a family member or friend that each year has brought.  Of course, 2023 was the hardest year to part with because it was the last year that Alan was alive.   I will never again have a year with a memory of him in it.  So probably like many of you, I greet the new year with mixed emotions, wishing I could hold on to the old year, but knowing a new year beckons.  Just before he died, Norman Lear summed up this dichotomy about saying goodbye to one thing and greeting the next when he was asked if he was afraid to die.  He said, “I’m not concerned about the going, I just don’t like the leaving.” But here we go, into 2024, optimistic and full of plans.  As I said at the beginning, I hope this is a happy, healthy and prosperous new year for all of you.

Now go watch some football and nurse that hangover!