Archive for Monday, February 20, 2012


River City Jules: Is that a TV in your pocket?

February 20, 2012


“I never thought chuck wagon dinners sounded good before,” my husband confessed at the dinner table.

We had been talking about last summer’s voyage to Wyoming, a trip that included a horse-drawn wagon ride to a barbecue dinner and cowboy sing-a-long. What’s not to love?

“It was that old dog food commercial,” he explained as 10 eyeballs shot his way. “You know, the one with the covered wagon that came out of the television and ran around the dog’s living room?”

Our kids were intrigued. How, with the dark-age technology of the 1970’s, could non-cable television have produced a commercial that landed a chuck wagon in a living room, they wondered?

My husband pulled out his iPhone and within moments had located the commercial on YouTube.

Unfortunately the clip was slow to load, taking nearly 20 seconds, just long enough for the following conversation to take place.

“Why is this taking so long?” he asked, I am assuming, Steve Jobs.

The fact that we were using 4G (I have no clue what that is) technology at our dinner table to watch a commercial from 35 years ago that brings pre-Civil War era covered wagons to life was too much for me to keep quiet.

“Do you understand you just pulled a television,” I started, “a t-e-l-e-v-i-s-i-o-n,” I clarified, “out of your pocket?”

He looked up as YouTube continued to buffer.

“Our parents didn’t have televisions in their homes until well after starting grade school, but our kids are about to watch one you just pulled out of your pocket.” The kids looked at me, horrified at the thought that Mimi, Papa, Grammy and Grandpa lived so long without access to SpongeBob.

At this point the commercial was ready for someone to tap “play,” but I was on a roll with an attentive audience, something that rarely happens in our home. I should have used this chance to ask for more help in the laundry room, but technology was on my mind.

“For most of the last three decades, if we wanted to watch a woman reconstitute golden nuggets and tender red chunks of meat for her dog we would have had to sit in front of the television and wait for it to come on.” (All it took was warm water and the dog was eating a meal fit for a cowboy. The 70s were awesome.) “But now you can reach into your pocket and summon a commercial I haven’t seen since Lou Ferrigno last painted his pecs green.”

Eight young eyebrows contorted in confusion.

“He played the Incredible Hulk,” I explained to their satisfaction before pointing out to my husband that the high-def television he held in the palm of his hand was ready for viewing.

Without a word he tapped the screen, and within nanoseconds the old chuck wagon was once again rolling through the dog’s house and into the kitchen cabinet.

— Julie Dunlap can be reached at


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