Sunday, September 7, 2008


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If you are sitting in the “Catbird Seat” you are sitting pretty, or in a favored position. You have the upper hand, an advantage.

Now there seems to be a bit of debate on whether the legendary baseball broadcaster Red Barber coined this phrase or if he borrowed the folksy phrase from his Southern origins. Some feel he may have lifted the phrase from James Thurber’s 1942 short story of the same name “The Catbird Seat.” However, according to Wikipedia, Barber’s daughter claims her dad began using the phrase only after reading Thurber’s story. But then Red Barber says Thurber purloined the term from him… and so it goes, back and forth. Is it really important? Not so much.

In another part of the world, the Australian bowerbird is also known as the catbird. This little guy is known for his elaborate, artistic displays, in order to attract a mate. Some males will gather up hundreds of shells, colored glass or rock and arrange them into a remarkable “seat” upon which his potential mate will be enthroned. A favored position? Sitting pretty perhaps?

Hmmmmm. Me thinks I get it now.

Well, regardless of the etymology, it seems our ‘hero’ above, in the makeshift bird costume, as hard as he may be trying, is not fooling anyone, least of all his little bird friend. Cat-bird is in anything but a favored position. Nor is he sitting or otherwise pretty.

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