Saturday, December 31, 2005

happy new year

Blogger Rich Hailey called me today during my deejay shift. Here's an mp3 of his New Year's wishes. Happy 2006!
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my weird habits

Les Jones tagged me with a meme. I had to look up the word "meme." The meme challenges me to list five of my weird habits. It was impossible for me to choose only five, so here are ten:

1) I have a thing about periodicals. I don't like anyone else to open my newspaper or magazines before I do.
2) I like to collect DVDs for my archives but I hardly ever watch them. I'm only interested in discs with lots of extra features and I get upset when they release a more complete collector's edition of a DVD I already own.
3) I often interject myself into strangers' conversations with a tidbit of information on the topic they were discussing.
4) I cannot be disturbed during my nap. You can try but my family will just tell you to call back later.
5) I can't stand having food trash in the wastebasket in the studio or our cubicle at work.
6) I have to open computer programs in a specific order so they appear that way in the bar at the bottom of the screen.
7) I love to be photographed with Roadside Americana.
8) I read the obituaries but only the ones with photos.
9) I often go to funerals of people I never met (but I know at least one of their survivors.)
10) I have a special fondness for all things marshmallow.

Now it's my turn to tag five blogging friends with this meme. I choose Jessica, Ken, Frank, Perry and Sarah.

In my search for the word "meme," I found somebody else's meme that looked pretty good too. It's a list of ten favorite foods. How do I join a stranger's meme? Or can I just start my own meme on the same topic?
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Friday, December 30, 2005

she must know what I like

All my daughter wanted for her birthday was a digital camera. We sent one to her while she was away at college this past semester. After a month or so, I emailed her and asked why she hadn't sent any photos yet. Of all the things she could have sent, she responded by sending me a picture that she took during a recent trip to the Smithsonian Institution.

I think it's funny that my daughter's snapshot looks better than the photo of the Puffy Shirt on the Smithsonian website.

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Thursday, December 29, 2005

ho ho ho

Almost every radio station in town has a deejay who does endorsement spots for LA Weight Loss. My wife and I do the spots for Star 102.1. Each deejay has a different toll free number to announce in their commercials, making it possible to track the results by station. The phone numbers are supposed to be easy to remember. The one they assigned me is (800) 975-TRIM.

The other day one of the counselors asked me if I was giving out the right phone number. She thought I should be announcing a number that ends with SLIM, like some of the other deejays. Anyway, she told me that someone had tried calling my number and got some sort of adult phone line instead.

Naturally, I tried calling the number myself. It rang straight through to the West Knoxville location of LA Weight Loss. I guess the moral of the story is to dial carefully. With both hands.
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Wednesday, December 28, 2005

items too short for their own postings

Since Knoxville is home of the Body Farm, it made sense that there was a cute story on the local news the other night using forensics to investigate the evidence left behind by Santa Claus. Stacy McCloud's report is fun for kids to watch as long as they don't question why Santa is in the AFIS database.

Michael Vale, the actor from the Dunkin' Donuts commercials, used to joke that he got paid in doughnuts. He died of diabetes.

AARP The Magazine's website is advising retirees on how to download music. And listen to classic Bob Hope jokes. Isn't that somethin'?

TiVo got shafted in PC World's list of the top 50 gadgets of the past 50 years. It should have been number one not number three.

My daughter has a theory that if you pass the test to get on "Jeopardy!" then you go on "Jeopardy!" But if you fail miserably, they put you on "Wheel of Fortune."
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Tuesday, December 27, 2005

here comes Jabba Claus

While doing my gift shopping last week I spotted a Hallmark ornament that must be seen to be believed. Nothing says Christmas like Princess Leia's metal bikini. The photography is less than stellar but you can imagine Kermit looking on in horror as Bugs screams in pain.

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Monday, December 26, 2005

gram slam

My friend Doug is the science columnist for the News Sentinel. He also has the local franchise for a business called Mad Science, which puts on educational shows at schools and entertains at kids' birthday parties. Of all the people I know, Doug is the one most likely to have a scale that could accurately weigh 20 grams of M&Ms. He let me borrow his scale, which looks just like the ones I remember from high school science class.

Today I asked my son to put one dark chocolate M&M at a time on Doug's scale. 22 weren't enough and 23 were too many. As the photos show, it takes 22 an a half M&Ms to equal 20 grams of chocolatey goodness. Anybody know where I can buy some half M&Ms?

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Sunday, December 25, 2005

seasons eatings

Food has always been as much a part of our Christmas as it is a part of Thanksgiving. (By the way, I'm watching "Chef Walter's Christmas Traditions" as I type this.) Every year our stockings would be stuffed with fruits, nuts and candies. Well, more like one piece of fruit and mostly candy. For the past ten years or so, I could usually rely on one of the presents under the tree being a box of See's Candies with plenty of Scotchmallows.

This year things had to be different. Today I found several LA Weight Loss snacks in my stocking including a couple of their biscotti, some muffin tops and bags of their toffee popcorn. I am determined to follow the program strictly. Fortunately they gave us some little "tip cards" that are meant to be carried in a wallet or purse. According to the cards, I could have 4 ounces of egg nog and count it toward my starch, dairy and fat allowances. After I finished my salad for lunch, I had four Hershey's Kisses, which count as only one starch. I just did the math to figure out how many M&Ms are equal to four kisses.
Anybody have a scale that can accurately measure 20 grams? I still have a big bag of dark chocolate M&Ms waiting for me.

Our best friends from Burbank,
Charlie and Anja, sent a great gift box from Mrs. Beasley's. We'll have to freeze some of those treats until my wife and I meet our weight loss goals. My agent sent a nice gift basket from Stew Leonard's, some of which will also wait in the freezer.

Speaking of frozen treats, I did
decide to freeze some egg nog and save it for next summer. Earlier this month, my wife made several trips to Weigel's checking for the day that egg nog with a December 25 expiration date went on sale.

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Saturday, December 24, 2005

in good company

It's not as good as Frank Jr.'s version but you can watch for my fellow improvisers and me reciting two lines from "A Visit From St. Nicholas" on WVLT-TV. They have also posted the video online.

As I mentioned in a posting on Wednesday, there are some much bigger names than us involved. You'll see Governor Phil Bredesen, Congressman Jimmy Duncan, Mayor Bill Haslam, Mayor Mike Ragsdale, Police Chief Sterling Owen IV, Coach Pat Summitt, Coach Bruce Pearl most of the WVLT personalities and some other people I didn't recognize.

In the immortal words of Raymond Burr as Robert Ironside, "Merry Christmas, Eve."
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his nipples how merry

When Frank Jr. was three years old, he listened to the same audio tape every night at bedtime. All year round he wanted to hear Wilford Brimley reading "A Visit From St. Nicholas." The tape had an audio signal for pre-readers to follow along and know when to turn the page in the picture book that came with it. Frank Jr. would recite the poem along with the tape and before long he could do it by himself. My wife and I realized that we just had to put him in front of a microphone. I thought that it might be usable on the radio too. Mark Jonathan Davis produced it into a memorable piece for that year's Kevin & Bean Christmas cassette (yes, cassette) which was called "Santa Claus, Schmanta Claus."

Since tonight is the night before Christmas, click on the button and enjoy one of our family's favorite holiday memories.

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Friday, December 23, 2005

stocking stuffers

Here are a few random thoughts on Christmas Eve Eve...

Gretchen from 93.1 The Point sent a Christmas e-card that made me laugh. It's just plain silly. Be sure to click on the string of lights along the bottom.

Tim Padilla has a new Christmas CD. He's an accordion player at the Lawrence Welk resort in Branson and I guess you could say that I knew him way back when.

Yesterday I was wondering aloud on the radio if there were any Christmas mashups. An email from a listener named Bill said simply:
Yes Virginia, Christmas mashups do exist!
Another friend named Tim sent a great Christmas card this year. Somehow he got Rachael Ray to agree to be his "radio girlfriend."

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Thursday, December 22, 2005

is the pendulum swinging the other way?

On Tuesday I mentioned that Michael Silence had quoted from my blog entry about radio airplay of secular vs. religious Christmas music. I was thinking about those comments yesterday while in traffic near the mall. I also was flipping between three local stations that are playing only holiday songs. Love 89 is all-Christmas for just this week. B97.5 switched on the day after Thanksgiving. EZ88 has been in the Christmas spirit since a week after Halloween.

Every time I came out of a store and got back in the car, it seemed that B97.5 was playing a religious song. I heard "Mary, Did You Know" by Kenny Rogers, "O Holy Night" by Josh Groban and "Do You Hear What I Hear?" by Whitney Houston. Could it be that this station was reacting to all the "War on Christmas" hype by playing more religious songs?

With this on my mind, I went to Wal-Mart's "Holiday Shop." I had hoped to take a photo of their "Illuminated Donkey" to show you. For some reason the phrase "illuminated donkey" makes me smile. Anyway, they were sold out of illuminated donkeys but they still had some camels and sheep. All the giant nativity figures seemed to be selling well. The ones they had left were prominently displayed and you could tell that the shelves and pallets were being depleted.

Just inside the "Holiday Shop" entrance was a little boombox playing an all-Christmas radio station. Between songs there were announcements for local churches and other Christian messages. I realized that I was hearing Love 89, the Christian hits station, inside a Wal-Mart. Here's where it gets confusing. The Christian station was playing "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree," a secular song. But it wasn't the Brenda Lee version. The deejay said that it was by Mercy Me and that they would be performing the song on that night's Jay Leno show.

So now I'm thinking that I'm hearing religious songs on the commercial station and secular songs on the Christian station. When I got home, I clicked onto a great website called It lets you look up the songs played on many radio stations in the last 24 hours. B97.5 did play the religious songs I heard but they were spread out over a couple of hours and almost all the songs in between were secular. Love 89 is filling their time with some secular songs but often using versions performed by Christian artists. EZ88 plays a lot of songs that the software doesn't recognize, making it look like they play less music than they actually do.

I loaned some of my Christmas CDs to Star 102.1 to freshen up the Christmas rotations. This morning we played five Christmas songs, four of which had come from my collection: "Santa Baby" by the Pussycat Dolls, "My Grown Up Christmas List" by Kelly Clarkson, "Angels We Have Heard On High" by the Brian Setzer Orchestra and "Silent Night" by Lifehouse. Nearing the end of the morning show the score was Religious 2, Secular 2. The tie breaking song was... "Wonderful Christmastime" by Paul McCartney.
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Wednesday, December 21, 2005

the part about the peddler and his pack

Last night the members of Einstein Simplified recorded two lines of "A Visit From St. Nicholas" at WVLT-TV. One of our group, Greg Huff, works at the station as a video editor and somehow persuaded his bosses to let us be part of a montage that will include local personalities much more famous than us. After recording our part, we posed for a photo with anchorman Alan Williams and then goofed around on the news set while no one was looking.

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Tuesday, December 20, 2005

blog about blog

The other day my wife sent me an IM. She was getting caught up on my blog and said that she was thinking she should read it more often because she was actually enjoying it. As I write these posts, I have no idea who's reading or what will get a response. For example, I had a chance to chat with our friend Jennifer tonight. She made several references to things I've written recently in the blog, which made me feel good.

Yesterday I got an email from a reader named Kurt in Champaign, Illinois. He wrote, in part:
I recently came across your Web site and blog, and I've been enjoying reading your thoughts. I can especially relate to your posts about swimming, as that'’s also my favorite form of exercise (I also don't like to sweat, but I also like the relative quiet of swimming, as opposed to the noise from TVs, machines, and other people in gyms).
I had to write back and ask him how he found my blog and what made him come back for a second visit. His reply gave me a very good laugh:
I think I came across your site while doing a Google search using the term "pear-shaped" (sorry -- I know it's probably not your favorite descriptor!). And I returned because I enjoyed your writing, which is much better than what I tend to see in blogs (I'm a book editor, so I'm picky about such things.)
It's fun to get reactions from readers but I get surprised by what inspires people to post something. Of all the posts I've written, the one that has the most (eight) comments is a short paragraph I wrote on November 12 about the caffeinated cheerleader in a T-Mobile commercial. She must get Googled a lot.

I decided to look for myself on Google's blog search and found that I had been cited again on one of East Tennessee's top blogs, No Silence Here. I take that as a big compliment.
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Monday, December 19, 2005

seemed like a good idea at the time

About six weeks ago I cashed in some frequent flyer miles for magazine subscriptions. So far, my wife has received one issue of Rolling Stone and I've received two issues of Time, one issue of Maxim and five issues of Daily Variety.

At first it looked like each Daily Variety would arrive only five days late but five soon turned into ten. As I'm waiting for a mother lode of back issues to all arrive on the same day, I've been keeping track of the mail:

Saturday, December 10: received the Monday, Dec. 5 issue
Monday, December 12: did not receive an issue
Tuesday, December 13: received the Tuesday, Dec. 6 issue
Wednesday, December 14: received the Wednesday, Dec. 7 issue
Thursday, December 15: did not receive an issue
Friday, December 16: did not receive an issue
Saturday, December 17: received the Thursday, Dec. 8 issue
Monday, December 19: received the Friday, Dec. 9 issue

Maybe things will improve after Christmas and maybe I shouldn't be complaining about this on the busiest mailing day of the year.
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Sunday, December 18, 2005


There's something inherently comedic about the Christmas gifts sold at Walgreens. Don't get me wrong, I'm sure many people will be thrilled when they unwrap their new Ove Glove or whatever. It just seems like the punchline to a Jeff Foxworthy joke: "You might be a redneck if you bought your momma's Christmas present at Walgreens."

This year Walgreens is even selling gift cards for other businesses. They had gift cards for restaurants like Red Lobster and stores like Hollywood Video. They're also selling gift cards for national chains that don't have outlets anywhere near here. I saw gift cards for AMC Theatres and for the Rainforest Cafe among others.

There was one thing in the Sunday advertising flyer I had to see for myself. The ad said they had pre-wrapped Christmas gifts. How would you know what you were buying? Fortunately each gift has an easily removable cardboard sleeve that shows the contents. At $9.99, these items are perfect to give when your workplace has forced participation in a Secret Santa gift exchange with a $10 limit. Look at the fine quality items:

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Saturday, December 17, 2005

standing update

Our friend Mike had some follow-up information on yesterday's post about audiences standing during the "Hallelujah Chorus." He had looked it up on the Internet and found that many think it dates back to 1743 when King George was bothered by his piles. It's definitely not just a Southern thing, they stand in New Zealand too. A recent Baltimore Sun article says the story about the king may not be true:

Speaking of scholars, they've also pretty much debunked one of the persistent traditions associated with the work - the practice of standing for the "Hallelujah" Chorus.

The familiar story has it that King George II, attending the first London performance of the piece in 1743, suddenly jumped up, reasons unspecified, during the singing of what has become the most familiar of all Messiah excerpts. And when the king stood, everyone else automatically had to do the same.

The only problem is that no record of that monarch's attendance has ever surfaced. He may have gone unannounced, but, in that case, probably would not have attracted the attention needed to get everyone upright. At any rate, the first written mention of the standing tradition appears to be from the mid-1750s, and it refers to standing for choral numbers - plural. Go figure.

The former music director of the Knoxville Symphony, Kirk Trevor, can't get away from standing audiences He's quoted in a recent Indianapolis Star article:
As for the tradition of the audience standing for the "Hallelujah" chorus, ostensibly because a monarch once stood for it, Trevor isn't thrilled about it. "Standing during the 'Hallelujah' rather detracts from the performance," he said.
"Suddenly, the spirit and the magic of 'Messiah' is lost by this circus trick of standing up for no other reason than some English king 300 years ago wanted to go to the bathroom."
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Friday, December 16, 2005

all rise

It officially feels like Christmas to me. Tonight we went to the Clayton Holiday Pops concert by the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra. My wife sang with the chorale. As in past years, the program began with the Leroy Anderson arrangement of the "Christmas Festival Overture." That particular piece reminds me of all the Boston Pops records my father had. The Overture is a medley of several traditional songs like "Joy to the World" and "Hark the Herald Angels Sing." When the chorale joined in for "O Come, All Ye Faithful," I was hit full force with the Christmas spirit.

Later in the evening when the "Hallelujah Chorus" began, some people in the audience stood up. Eventually we all did so as not to feel stupid. I didn't know why we were standing, so I asked the woman next to me. She didn't know either. Is it a Baptist thing? Or maybe a Southern thing? My wife said the audience also stood for the "Hallelujah" last weekend at a concert she did at the Cumberland County Playhouse.

Before most of the songs,
Maestro Lucas Richman would turn to the audience and chat about the upcoming piece. As he introduced the "Carol of the Bells," he said that the song had some connection to puppeteer Shari Lewis. He was trying to say that Shari was on the "Kukla, Fran and Ollie" show. I thought everyone knew that it was actually Burr Tillstrom who was the hand inside Kukla and Ollie. In an attempt to be helpful, I yelled out the name of Shari Lewis' puppet "Lamb Chop" from my seat in the audience. Wouldn't you? Unfortunately the Maestro didn't finish the story so we'll never know what puppets had to do with the "Carol of the Bells."
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Thursday, December 15, 2005

fly swatter

Working early morning hours means that sleep and alarm clocks have a very important place in my life. Years ago David Haines taught me to sleep and nap in multiples of 90 minutes. I usually get four and a half hours of sleep at night plus a three hour nap during the day. That schedule allows me to stay up to perform in a weekly improv show on Tuesdays. The rest of the week I can stay up to watch TV.

The question I get the most often is "what time does your alarm go off?" There are three answers to that question. My clock radio comes on at 3:30 a.m. It's tuned to the FM simulcast of TV channel 6. The clock radio alarm sounds at 3:59. The battery powered backup alarm goes off at 4:00. I usually stay in bed listening to "World News Now" until 4:30. Somehow my wife is able to sleep through all this.

When a new alarm clock hits the market, I'm always interested. The latest invention in wake up technology is called the Blowfly. When it's time to wake up, the alarm clock will launch a toy helicopter that flies around the room and buzzes until you catch it! That might be easy for a Quidditch seeker but can you imagine me climbing over my wife at 4:00 a.m. trying to catch the Blowfly?

I'm also a little troubled that they named the clock after an insect that feeds on corpses and was the title of a Patricia Cornwell novel.
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Wednesday, December 14, 2005

she took second place

My friend Jessica sent an email with the following information she found:
You were waiting for this... and it's finally here! Casting for The Amazing Race, Season 10, is underway. Head to to download the application. This edition of The Amazing Race will consist of two-person teams.

Do you want to take a trip to Cancun with dear old dad? MTV is seeking attractive girls between the ages of 18 and 21 to travel with their dads to Cancun from March 5th-11th, 2006. Fathers should be "opinionated and fun, as well as a little conservative and protective."

If interested, contact Joe at (310) 927-0505 or email
Of course I looked at FSA Entertainment's website but actually found more useful info by doing a Google search for Joe's email address.

Jessica knows I'm a fan of The Amazing Race. But why did she tell me about a casting call for opinionated, fun, conservative and protective fathers of attractive girls between the ages of 18 and 21? Hmm... I wonder...

In completely unrelated news, here's a camera phone photo of my daughter competing in a pizza eating contest during Midnight Madness at her college:

The first person to eat one slice, drink a 20 ounce soda and belch into the microphone would be the winner. The three girls in the contest all finished before the three guys did.
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Tuesday, December 13, 2005

that was no speed bump

In September, I was delighted to be able to save a box turtle's life. The College of Veterinary Medicine at UT has done that eight times over. A story in yesterday's News Sentinel reports that eight hatchlings are doing fine after doctors removed eggs from dead or dying female box turtles:
The turtles were hatched from eggs removed from two dead female turtles hit by cars in separate incidents. University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine doctors surgically removed the eggs after the females were brought to the school.

Six eggs were taken from a severely injured female that had to be euthanized in late June. Two were removed from a turtle that died overnight after being hit by a car in Knoxville in mid-July.
The turtles are wintering at the Knoxville Zoo. They'll be released into the wild in the spring. In other zoo news, the animals like playing with unusual junk.

Meanwhile, I'm hoping that the turtle I saved will stay near my house and bring me good luck.
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Monday, December 12, 2005

guess what I'm giving for Christmas this year

While digging through my stacks of Christmas CDs, I found a few discs I bought after Christmas last year and hadn't opened yet. I also re-discovered some tracks on older discs that I would like to recommend:

"All I Want For Christmas Is You" by My Chemical Romance
"Back Door Santa" by Jet
"Baby It's Cold Outside" by Zooey Deschanel & Leon Redbone
"Blue Christmas" by The Mavericks
"Christmas Medley" by Liberace
"Christmas Of Love" by Little Isidore & The Inquisitors
"Jingle Bells" by Danny Kaye
"My Christmas List" by Simple Plan
"Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer" by Jack Johnson
"Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer" by Dolly Parton
"Santa Claus Is Back In Town" by Dwight Yoakam
"Winter Wonderland" by Jason Mraz

What songs would you include on your ultimate Christmas mix disc?
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Sunday, December 11, 2005


Swimming is the only exercise I can tolerate because I don't like to sweat. In the summer, I swim every day in the privacy of my backyard. A tall fence keeps my neighbors from seeing me in a swimsuit. My resemblance to Surlaw, the walrus at Sea World, makes me as thankful for that as they are.

Backyard pools are great if you're the one who uses them. I met a couple who thought their children (and then grandchildren) would enjoy a pool. After a few years they gave up and had the pool filled in with dirt. I've always heard that pools add nothing to the value of a house. My experience buying homes in California and Tennessee supports that theory.

This fall, just like he did the year before, my chiropractor, Dr. Chris Hosenfeld, strongly urged me to find an indoor pool where I could get some exercise during the colder months. I had resisted because I didn't want to be seen in a swimsuit outside my privacy fence. Things changed recently. You may recall that my program director suggested I go on a weight loss program and do endorsement commercials for it. The program director also said I could use the station's account at a local health club.

I've been on the weight loss program since September 20. By Thanksgiving I had lost 23 pounds and was thinking that maybe I could stand to burn a few calories in the pool. I forced myself to face my fear and went to the health club for a tour. The guy at the club asked several questions about my goals and what had kept me from joining sooner. I told him how I didn't like being seen in my swim trunks but that I was going to deal with it. He said that after a couple of visits, nobody at the club notices anybody else. Well, I've got news for him. Maybe nobody at the club notices me, but after several visits I can tell you that I notice everybody who is thinner than me, which is almost everybody. I doubt that I am the only one looking at the attractive women.

Generally speaking, the other swimmers are men who are several years older than me.
The pool is the least busy area of the club. Most of the clientele use the treadmills, ellipticals and weight machines instead. I see plenty of body builders there, some who look like they would fail a Major League Baseball drug test. On Friday I saw a weightlifter with a full-on mullet. I guess no one will ever tell him to get a haircut.

Each time I arrive at the club, one particular employee asks me if I'm there to work out or "just swim." I remind him that I'm only interested in swimming not sweating and he says that whenever I'm ready he'll show me how to use the various machinery. Why doesn't swimming get any respect at the health club? It's not like I show up with an inner tube.
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Saturday, December 10, 2005

reading is fundamental

This morning I had the pleasure of reading "The Polar Express" aboard the Three Rivers Rambler.

And then this afternoon I read the first chapter of "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" at Regal Cinemas' Pinnacle 18.

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Friday, December 09, 2005

let's all go to the lobby

Film Threat put "watching movies at the theater" at number 10 on their list of Hollywood's Frigid 50. I thought theaters were getting better, not worse, thanks to more comfortable, stadium style seating and digital projectors. What is it about the moviegoing experience that is so bad? Is it ringing cell phones? Audience members who talk during the movie? My biggest complaint is the price of tickets and concessions. For many, it's the commercials they show before the trailers. The commercials don't bother me. I think they're more interesting than watching a blank screen or rotating slides of ads. A recent USA Today article points out that the reason many theaters are getting digital projectors is not to show movies but to make it easier to insert commercials before the movies. Now that the average DVD release window has shrunk to 129 days, Hollywood will have to adapt once again.

When money is tight, my family and I have to be more selective about which films are worth our box office dollars. We paid full price to go see "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire." The next movies I might pay full price for are "The Producers" and "King Kong." Of course, a discounted matinee would always be better. For most movies, it makes sense financially for us to wait for the DVD.

I'll be at the movie theater tomorrow because I was asked to read aloud from "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe." After I read the book's first chapter in the multiplex lobby, my family and I will stay to watch "The Chronicles of Narnia." If we time it right, we can see it on the screen with the digital projector.

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Thursday, December 08, 2005

he resented performing for idiots

Today is the 25th anniversary of John Lennon's death. I guess that's why I received an email with a music video of a cross-genre cover of his most famous song. Please enjoy Sevier County's favorite citizen, Dolly Parton, singing "Imagine."

ABC has a very good overnight newscast called "World News Now." They often show clips from the past and call it "World News Then." This morning just before they showed a clip of Ted Koppel from 25 years ago, the anchors made a point of asking viewers to keep in mind that John Lennon was shot at 10:50 p.m., only 40 minutes before "Nightline" airs. I think they were trying to apologize for the fact that Koppel treated Lennon's death as late-breaking news but would still go ahead with his main story about the situation in Poland. If they had watched the video on, they would have known that Lennon was shot on a Monday night and that the person who broke the news of Lennon's death to the nation was actually Howard Cosell. "Nightline" would have been delayed by at least an hour that night.
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Wednesday, December 07, 2005


ASCAP has released a list of the 25 most-performed Christmas songs of the past five years. The list proves my theory that almost every Christmas song on the radio is secular, not religious. The only song on the list that references the nativity is "Little Drummer Boy." A second survey backs up ASCAP's findings. Mediaguide released a list of the 10 Christmas songs receiving the most airplay in the past week. "Little Drummer Boy" is the only religious song on that list too.

What is your least favorite Christmas song?
a) The Chipmunk Song
b) Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer
c) The Christmas Shoes
d) none of the above

By the way, I found a link on Wikipedia that lets you hear what the Chipmunks sound like at normal speed. It's worth a click.
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Tuesday, December 06, 2005

dot dot dotting along

John Gibson's commentary about the "war on Christmas" is sort of related to my ramblings about secular vs. religious Christmas songs on the radio... The list of the most unexpected TV moments should have included the time Rosalind Shays fell down the elevator shaft on "LA Law"... I wonder what my mailman was thinking when he saw that we received both the Fannie May and the See's Candies catalogs on the same day... How did Forbes magazine decide that Thurston Howell was richer than Willy Wonka but not as rich as Jed Clampett? They got the right photo of Bruce Wayne though... I hope you remembered to watch "Arrested Development" last night... Don't tell my wife that I set the TiVo to record the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show tonight... The first of my free magazine subscriptions arrived today. The winner? "Time"... The meaning of the headline in yesterday's paper changes depending on where you put the emphasis. Gay Street theater or gay Street Theater?... If you click on nothing else, at least click here and say a prayer for the soul of Johnia Berry today...
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Monday, December 05, 2005


Ever wonder why there's a list of "blogs I like" on the right hand side of this page? Sure, I encourage you to click on them and read what I've been reading. Mostly the links are there for me to use no matter which computer I'm on. They're a traveling list of favorites or bookmarks. Over the weekend I had time to click on all of them and find some interesting stuff. Here's the best of what I found:

Chocolate covered Oreos (5th item) from The Buzz List
Cynthia Watros' mugshot from Defamer
An eclectic Christmas song playlist from Left of the Dial
A reminder about Johnia Berry from Les Jones
The Quote of the Day from PopWatch
New TiVo features from PVRblog
A review of the Hollywood Christmas Parade from Perry Simon
A photo of Jessica Simpson's weird lips from The Superficial
Not one but two updates on January's TV schedule from Terry Morrow
A french fry holder (7th item) from The Wire

Honorable mention must go to a couple of other blogs I've been reading but haven't added to the "official blogroll" yet:

An excerpt from a TV pilot script from Ken Levine
A link to the off the menu items at In-n-Out from Jessica's Diary
Brat Mitzvah photos from The Marc & Kim and Frank Radio Network
An amazing electromagnetic theory from Get Lost with M&K and F

Okay, those last two are a little self serving but still worth a click.
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Sunday, December 04, 2005

flip for Wiig

Over the past couple of shows I've noticed a talented newcomer on Saturday Night Live. In an uncharacteristic move for me, I did not immediately rush to the Internet to look up her name. She was familiar enough that I thought I'd seen her on there before (her first appearance was actually on November 12). She opened last night's show with a dead-on Megan Mullally impression that was so good I watched the opening credits to get her name. Usually I fast forward through them. When Don Pardo announced her name, it all came rushing back to me. It was Kristen Wiig, who was really funny on the first season of "The Joe Schmo Show." Keep an eye out for her.
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begins at home

On its weekend newscasts, WBIR-TV has been reporting that the Mission of Hope Christmas drive is far short of its goal. The drive collects toys, food and clothes for underprivileged local Appalachians. During the same newscasts, WBIR was running promos congratulating itself and its viewers for all the donations sent to the community of Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. I've heard that donations for yet another local toy drive were also much slower than last year. Is it possible that people aren't donating to the usual Christmas charities because they're tapped out from donating to hurricane victims?
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yes, more on balloons

Yesterday we learned that the producer of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade has no plans to abandon the giant helium balloons that make the parade great. Today we learn that NBC has no plans to prevent their news anchors from hosting the parade coverage. David Bauder's story is the first I've seen that gives CBS any credit for reporting the M&Ms balloon accident.
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Saturday, December 03, 2005

up, up and away

The headline in this morning's paper held so much promise: "Suspected hot-air balloon thief grounded." I pictured a slow floating getaway perhaps with the police chasing him in their own balloon. Alas, the stolen balloon was not inflated at the time of its capture. The guy in the mugshot has a certain "My Name is Earl" quality about him. It doesn't say why he stole a balloon. Maybe he fancied himself to be the next Vijaypat Singhania.

In other balloon news, Robin B. Hall is determined to keep his giant helium inflatables in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. You go Robin.
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Friday, December 02, 2005

if money were no object

It's the time of year when everybody feels they don't have enough time to get done all the things they want to do. Maybe you could hire a local personal concierge. Or maybe you could use the Internet to get some new gift ideas. Are you looking for the coolest gadgets? Or some strange new products? You could try finding a good deal by searching for misspelled items on eBay. Or just splurge on the stuff you've seen in that catalog aboard airplanes.

If you don't know where to begin when shopping for a digital camera, iPod or other electronics, check out Consumer Tech Tips. Should some company trap you in customer "service" telephone hell, check this handy cheat sheet for the code to get a live person on the phone.

If all else fails, buy slightly outrageous t-shirts for everyone on your list.
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Thursday, December 01, 2005

at least the ACLU is happy

On Sunday morning I wrote a little about my Christmas music collection. That afternoon, my wife went to the good Target to buy their exclusive "Sounds of the Season" disc. As I feared, they were out of stock. Fortunately for me, my wife didn't give up. She went to the older, now less popular Target and found plenty of the CDs, which were on sale for $4.99. She bought both the pop and r&b editions for me but not the country disc, which surprised me. She used to like country music.

The pop disc has an assortment of secular holiday songs from the likes of Gavin DeGraw, Rob Thomas, Seal, Jason Mraz and Ray Charles (huh?). There are a two people on there I wasn't familiar with: Leigh Nash and Jimmy Sommers. The only link about the disc that I found was on the Goo Goo Dolls' website. The r&b disc actually has some religious Christmas songs on it. Babyface does "The First Noel," someone named Heather Headley does "O Holy Night" and Aretha Franklin does "Joy to the World." The disc also has "My Christmas Prayer" by BeBe Winans, which was on a CD sold exclusively at Starbucks last year that was one of Oprah's favorite things.

In Sunday's post, I wrote that the only new Christmas disc I had received so far was the new one by the Brian Setzer Orchestra. I'm watching their performance on this morning's Tony Danza Show as I type this. Man, I sure wish I could get to Nashville for their concert next week. I guess I'll just have to put their Christmas DVD on my wish list. I also TiVo-ed their performances on Conan O'Brien's show and the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree lighting special.

Anyway, I had forgotten that I made a special trip to Best Buy on November 6 to get their "Sweet Tracks" CD that was free to Reward Zone members. The disc promised songs by the Pussycat Dolls, Lifehouse, Mary J. Blige, Sting and others. To the surprise of no one, the Pussycat Dolls sing "Santa Baby." It was less predictable that Lifehouse would do "Silent Night." Someone named Kaci Brown does "O Holy Night."

As I listen to Christmas music on the radio, I notice that almost all the songs are secular. You know, Frosty, Rudolph, Silver Bells, Winter Wonderland, blah blah blah. I heard a few minutes of Delilah's nationally syndicated show tonight. She referred to the songs as "holiday music" not Christmas music. The only song I heard Delilah play tonight that mentioned Jesus was the maudlin "The Christmas Shoes," which isn't about the nativity. It's about a kid going shopping for his dying mother. It's increasingly rare that you'll hear a song on the radio that you will also hear in church. In 2003 and 2004, I worked at a radio station that played a lot of Christmas music on the weekends. One day after hearing "Holly Jolly Christmas" for the thousandth time, I decided to look through the music logs in search of "O Come All Ye Faithful" or "Hark the Herald Angels Sing" or any song that was even remotely about the true meaning of Christmas. As you can probably guess, I found none.

The "holiday songs" are nice and cheery but they don't satisfy. They leave an empty feeling. I need to hear something with a deeper meaning than "Wonderful Christmastime" to stir the memories and emotions of Christmases past. What do you say, radio programmers?
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