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The guy with the tarantula

My first editor, Wes Izzard of the Amarillo Daily News, absolutely refused to allow us to publish photos of rattlesnakes or any kind of snake at all.

This became an issue because our sports editor was from Sweetwater, home of a long-running rattlesnake hunt in West Texas, and he would always go to participate and come back with photos (and one time, several actual, live snakes).

Izzard's concern was that the photo of a snake in your morning paper would frighten you for no good reason. His general mantra was that he wanted nothing published in the morning paper that would upset a pregnant woman.

I always thought that was a good rule, although over the years I did allow a lot of snake pictures to be published in the morning papers I edited.

I think Izzard's rule would have extended to big spiders, although we never had that discussion.

I put spiders and rattlesnakes in the same general category of icky things I want to avoid, even on the pages of a newspaper.

So, I find it particularly off-putting to have a TV commercial pop up during the evening news featuring an obviously nutty guy with a huge tarantula on his forehead, reaching down to touch his eyelid.

It makes me cringe every time. And my wife and I both vow we will never, ever use this character's services, whatever they may be.

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