Tuesday, February 28, 2006

santa ana winds blowin' hot from the north

Regis Philbin and Kelly Ripa are doing their show from Los Angeles (actually Glendale) on tape-delay this week. During today's "host chat" segment, Regis mentioned that he turned on the radio in his rental car and listened to "Kevin & The Bean" [sic]. I emailed Bean and let him know so he could grab the sound bite on the West Coast feed.

Hearing Regis mention Kevin & Bean reminded me to go to kroq.com and listen to the audio stream for a while. I heard an interview with Bob Guccione, Jr. and one of Ralph's Showbiz Reports. Ralph had a ticket giveaway for one of the things I miss most about L.A.

The tickets were for the William S. Paley Television Festival, an amazing annual event put on by the Museum of Television & Radio. If I were still in L.A., I would try to get tickets to the nights with the casts and creators of "Entourage," "My Name is Earl" and "How I Met Your Mother."

It's funny that I would get homesick for Los Angeles on a day that Knoxville had absolutely perfect weather.
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Monday, February 27, 2006

numa numa numismatics yay!

Tomorrow will be a big day for coin collectors. The United States Mint will reveal the proposed designs for the first four $1 Presidential Coins. Four presidents will be honored each year starting in 2007 and continuing for 10 or 11 years. I don't consider myself a hardcore coin collector, but I do treasure our collection of state quarters from the Postal Commemorative Society. We received a gift subscription a few years ago from my grandmother.

One of the things I like best about the state quarters is the knowledge that in a couple of years we will have a complete collection, unless the country starts adding states again. By design, the presidential coin set will never be complete, which will drive me crazy. Any ex-presidents who are still alive (or who have been dead less than two years) in 2016 will not get a coin. The series will end when all the eligible dead presidents have been honored. This means it is unlikely that Bill Clinton or George W. Bush will get coins in their honor. Both men will be only 70 years old or so when it's their turn for a coin. By comparison, Gerald Ford will turn 103 while Jimmy Carter and George H.W. Bush will both be 92 in the year 2016.

Perhaps Congressman Mike Castle or Senator John Sununu can amend their legislation to make provisions for a new coin following the death of each ex-president. I would hate to be deprived of all the truck stop vending machine comedy that Clinton and Bush coins would eventually provide.

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Sunday, February 26, 2006

after these messages, we'll be right back

Today's post is intended for my family and my wife's family. They don't live in Tennessee and haven't heard any of the commercials we've written and produced for LA Weight Loss. The more spots we do, the more I enjoy the experience. At first it was a little awkward when I had to ask her to re-record a line. I have a lot of idiosyncrasies about my job but as my wife spends time with me at work, I feel that she "gets" me more than ever.

Here are our two most recent commercials. Jere got a ton of reaction to her story about choir practice in last week's spot. I am fond of the "after the break" moment in this week's spot. Both spots are in the mp3 format for your listening pleasure.

Week of February 20:

Week of February 27:

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Saturday, February 25, 2006

weekend wrap-up

Bloggers love comments. They're almost as gratifying as applause. I was pleased to get some comments on my post about The 2wenty. One of those came from an L.A. blogger named Anna who has some interesting posts herself.

My friend Bean has been writing about his upcoming trip to Tennessee. As promised, I asked for a tour of the Body Farm for Bean and me. Carol Bass told me that her husband will be signing books in Tucson that day. She suggested I contact Dr. Lee Jantz to ask for a tour. I sent an email so we'll see how that goes. I should probably mail Bean a copy of this week's Metro Pulse. It's their music issue and has yet another article about WDVX.

Speaking of the Metro Pulse, a blurb in the Ear To The Ground column tipped me off about a Patricia Cornwell novella being serialized on the New York Times website. The column says that much of the novella is set in Knoxville. I'll have to read it as soon as I finish reading "Predator."

Don't you agree that the lovely Stacy Keibler has a slight resemblance to the lovely Elisabeth Hasselbeck? Or am I crazy? Maybe I'm crazy for thinking that Drew Lachey deserves to win "Dancing With The Stars." On the East Coast we saw Drew cover his behind with a cowboy hat after Bruno Tonioli made a "Brokeback Mountain" reference. On Friday's show, "Access Hollywood" reported that the hat trick was edited out of the West Coast broadcast.

Thanks to BoingBoing.net I saw an amazing collection of anachronistic hi-tech products on the Internet this week.

The death of Don Knotts is big news around here. Two episodes of "The Andy Griffith Show" air every weekday on the local CBS affiliate.

Consider this your one week reminder that Einstein Simplified will perform at The Comedy Zone on Saturday, March 4 at 6:00 p.m. Click here for a handy, printable calendar (PDF file). You've made enough excuses in the past. This month you should be there!

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Friday, February 24, 2006

this old world is rough, just getting rougher

Last Friday my TiVo started offering some new features from the Internet. The one I like best (so far) is the Podcaster, which offers a menu of popular podcasts and lets me enter the URL of shows I find on my own. Thanks to TiVo, I've finally discovered one of the Internet's most popular podcasts, a show called Coverville. I've written before about my fondness for cross-genre cover songs. It's as if the show's host, Brian Ibbot, created a podcast just for me yet the very existence of the show proves I'm not alone.

I'm listening to show #175 as I type this. The Britney Spears covers remind me of Bowling For Soup (not included on this podcast) and of the episode of "Love Monkey" where Wayne played a stripped down version of a song by Zoe. Maybe the remaining "Love Monkey" episodes will show up on UPN before they merge into The CW.

One of the first Coverville podcasts I chose from the archive included a song by my friend Richard Cheese. By the way, he has a new CD called "The Sunny Side of the Moon."
During a trip to L.A. in 2004, I stopped by Tower Records to see Richard and his band perform. Here's a photo from that night of Richard and me (before I lost some weight):

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Thursday, February 23, 2006

calling all blogs

Did you ever want to quit working for The Man and open your own business? It may be easier than you think. My friend Mary O. from L.A. sent along the following message:
My sister's friend is doing the promotion for a writing contest in Greenville. The winner gets a restaurant!
Who better to win a writing contest than the members of the blogosphere? The entry fee is $100. A portion of the proceeds will go to the American Red Cross. If Chef Robert Bechard receives 1,000 entries by April 28, he will give Claude's Cafe to the author of the best essay. He built a website with the rules and the entry form at www.thegreatcafegiveaway.com. Claude's is in Greenville, South Carolina, about 4 hours from Knoxville.
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Wednesday, February 22, 2006

tale of two (food) cities

Food City opened a new store near me today. Naturally I had to stop by and check it out. The location is a former Bi-Lo that had been vacant for months. Last week, Food City made a deal to buy the rest of Bi-Lo's Knoxville stores from the company that is buying them from Bi-Lo. The complex transaction got major coverage in the newspaper and on TV.

The Food City shopping go-cart buggy thing was out front.
However, the most impressive sight was the giant cow face-off in the parking lot. The Mayfield cow was staring down the Flav-O-Rich cow. For some reason, the Flav-O-Rich sign was covered by a different banner.

If you look closely, you can see a sign in the distance behind the Mayfield cow. It lists some of the merchants on Peters Road and used to read "JoAnn Staples Dick's" until somebody wised up and removed the sign for Dick's Sporting Goods.

It's impossible to avoid staring at the fiberglass bovines and their massive udders:

Free samples of various products were available inside. The one thing I had never seen before was the portable Krispy Kreme dipping station.

Just on the other side of I-40 from the new supermarket is an old Food City store, which is where I saw the cake decorator who looks like Scarlett Johansson.
A sign posted on the sliding glass door at the old store says it will remain open for business. (Note to anyone who works there: as soon as a customer gets close enough to read the sign, the door and the sign automatically slide away.) The older Food City stores seem ancient compared to the fancy new ones. If you didn't read the signs, you might not know the stores were owned by the same company.
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Tuesday, February 21, 2006

that Olympian looks like Ronald McDonald

Regal Cinemas has dropped "The 2wenty." Before you get all worked up, let me tell you that they've replaced it with the "Regal First Look" which, except for the name, is identical. The 2wenty's website, the2wenty.com, has the same content as firstlookonline.com.

Like you, I thought, "so what?" That is, until I did a search for the websites I just mentioned. My family and I went to a movie yesterday. I think it might be the first movie we've seen in 2006. I was going to make a quick mention of The 2wenty's name change in yesterday's posting but my search results revealed that a lot of people really hate watching stuff before their movie is supposed to start. I realized the topic deserved it's own posting.

Some guy named Kevin Murphy (no relation) complained about The 2wenty on NPR. Somebody at a website called Yankee Pot Roast wrote a strongly worded letter to Regal Cinemas and got a very polite reply. Perhaps most impressive is the entire website somebody built to address this matter of national concern.

I applaud their energy and excitement but
I completely disagree with their opinion. What is so horrible about a few minutes of corporate shilling before your movie's scheduled start time? Don't they remember how incredibly boring it was to sit in a dim movie theater with nothing on the screen? Those lame slide shows with ads for mall merchants and Coca Cola trivia questions were a slight improvement but each slide was shown way too many times. At least we could listen to Movie Tunes with Kris Erik Stevens. The 2wenty took it one step further. They have some behind the scenes infotainment stuff and some ads. And it only runs before the published start time of your movie.

When we lived in Burbank, we had to get to the theater at least 30 minutes early to get a seat. Here in Knoxville, most moviegoers arrive within 5 minutes of the advertised showtime. I can easily beat the crowd and get that dead center seat I like. It's probably safe to say that most of the other people in the theater with me yesterday have never seen The 2wenty or the Regal First Look for that matter. I wonder if they changed the name because it sounds too much like a local TV channel. My only gripe with The 2wenty happened back when it first started. A voiceover told you to get to the theater 30 minutes early so you could watch The 2wenty. How did they decide that the best name for a 30 minute program was The 2wenty? I suppose "The 3hirty" is no better.
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Monday, February 20, 2006

the award for canine in a supporting role...

To cut back on expenses, my wife and I haven't paid to go to a movie in months. Back in December, we used some free passes to see the big ape movie and the kids in the cabinet movie. Because today was a holiday and there was no carpool to pick up at school, my wife wanted to go see something at the multiplex. I thought we could use some free passes to see the Woody Allen movie but they're not valid on weekends or holidays.

Once it was decided that we were going to pay for tickets, we looked up the showtimes for Oscar nominated films. I was interested in the TV news movie, the country music movie or even the famous writer with the funny voice movie, especially after seeing that lead actor on the newsmagazine with the stopwatch last night. But our son wanted to come with us and our window of opportunity was closing so we ended up seeing the stranded sled dog movie.

Although it's not an Oscar-caliber motion picture, I was willing to go see it because our family had a pet Siberian Husky named Pandora during my high school and college years and because our friend Sandy breeds and shows huskies in Georgia. What awesome dogs! Overall the movie was good but it bugged me that they showed green leaves on the trees in DC when it was supposed to be February and that the brutal Antarctic winter was a lot brighter and sunnier than it was in the walking penguin movie.

One of the malamutes was a Knoxville stray before being discovered at Sleddog Rescue. The locally headquartered theatre giant is displaying lobby posters about the K-town dog:

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Sunday, February 19, 2006

psychic friends network

Last night my wife and I watched a college basketball game on TV. We tuned in because the team from our daughter's school was making a rare television appearance as part of BracketBusters weekend. After a while, I turned on the cell phone and called our daughter to tell her that the game was televised and that her school's team was winning. I could hear the cheers in the background when she answered the phone. She was at a gathering on campus to watch the road game with friends, so we cut the call short. When she hung up, my phone showed that I had a voice mail message. It turns out that the message was from our daughter, who had called half an hour earlier to tell me the same thing I had just called to tell her. When I called back to tell her I got the message, she pointed out that the game was being shown on ESP... N.
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Saturday, February 18, 2006

have nose, will hunt

It's not often that you get to know someone before they decide to run for office. When Larry Hunter declared his candidacy for sheriff, I knew immediately that I would vote for him. He's a good guy and I have respect for him. He was challenging his former boss, a popular incumbent. Larry's brother, David, wrote on a blog that has since been deleted (but lives on in Google's cache) that Larry "intended to run a clean campaign, not against Tim Hutchison but for the job of Sheriff of Knox County."

Hunter was a regular caller to the "Ashley & Murphy" morning show and helped us when we needed a radar gun for a radio bit. Yesterday he withdrew from the race due to his wife's health. I'm disappointed that I won't be able to vote for him but I wish Larry and his wife all the best.
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Friday, February 17, 2006

odds & ends

My TiVo downloaded some new stuff today. I can now use it to get movie times and buy tickets through Fandango; to listen to podcasts and Internet radio; and to play games like Wordsmith and Skull & Bones.

The freaky looking "human Ken doll" who was on "The View" this week looks more like a "human Knucklehead Smiff doll." I suspect that his speech impediment was caused by his plastic surgeries. How could he possibly think he's better now than he was before?

If they really do plan to cancel the so-bad-it's-good "Tony Danza Show" it might explain why the Extravadanza trivia questions seem to have gotten more difficult. Why give away all that cash on a doomed show? If the show had a future, I think they would make the questions a little easier during February sweeps. The folks at Best Week Ever started an online petition to save Tony's show. By coincidence the first person who signed it is also named Frank, so I'll just let you think it was me even if it wasn't.

A seventh grade student in Tampa tested the ice at fast food restaurants for bacteria and found that the water in the restaurant's toilet was cleaner. A Knoxville TV station did a similar experiment and found that our local fast food ice is pretty clean. Imagine how pristine our local toilet water must be!

Somehow Justin Kalef found his name in my blog and was kind enough to send along the lyrics to the seven Darwin Carols they sang at the University of Victoria this past week. The songs include "The HMS Beagle" (to the tune of "O Come All Ye Faithful"), "DNA" (to the tune of "The First Noel") and "Charles Robert Darwin" (to the tune of "Frosty the Snowman").

My self-congratulatory post about six months of daily blogging drew a comment from a grammar school classmate who I haven't seen or spoken with since sixth grade. Turns out that she has written several books and hosts a few websites. I need to ask her if she wishes to remain anonymous or if I can identify her.

Another cool blog comment came from the U.K. Someone there was watching "C.S.I." last week and found my site while searching the Internet to find out about a song in the episode. I had written about it when that episode aired in the U.S. in October.

My wife and I are headed out the door to see the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra with guest conductor Doc Severinsen. We like going to the symphony because we always feel like the youngest people there.
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Thursday, February 16, 2006

land of the (stain) free

The current TV commercial for Big Bob's Flooring Outlet is bugging me. Apparently they're proud of their wacky ads. The spot for their President's Day sale begins with an instrumental version of the Star Spangled Banner and an image of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. It goes on to show other moments in American History. I guess there's no rule against it but I don't think it's appropriate to use the National Anthem in a commercial. You can listen to the audio from the spot here and judge for yourself.

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Wednesday, February 15, 2006


The public affairs programs on most radio stations are broadcast on Sunday mornings. There aren't that many listeners and there is rarely any reaction to the shows. That's why I am all the more impressed that at least three listeners took time to call the radio station on Monday and Tuesday to mention that they enjoyed hearing Dr. Bill Bass being interviewed this past Sunday. It's a testament to the popularity of Dr. Bass and to people's fascination with the Body Farm. He was promoting his new book, "Carved In Bone."

I'm proud of the interview and decided to post it here. It's similar to a podcast, except that it's not a weekly occurrence. The program is 30 minutes long and the mp3 file is 13.7 MB at 64 kbps. Click on the play button to hear it now or right click and save it to your mp3 player for later.

According to the Harper Collins website, Jefferson Bass (Jon Jefferson & Dr. Bill Bass) have more book signings this week. They'll be at Carpe Librum on Friday evening and at Books-A-Million on Saturday afternoon. If their first signing is any indication, buy or reserve the book in advance and get there early.

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Tuesday, February 14, 2006

no massacre here

Happy St. Valentine's Day. I knew he was the patron saint of lovers but I had no idea he was also the patron saint of beekeepers and greeting card manufacturers.

This year my wife and I promised to get each other 50 cent Valentine cards. I don't mean Curtis Jackson cards, I'm talking about greeting cards that are two for a dollar at Dollar General. While I was looking for a card, a nice old lady suggested I look in the rack holding the $1 cards that she was buying. I hope I didn't offend her when I told her Valentine's Day wasn't worth a whole dollar. She walked away quickly. Our budget has been rather tight lately, so it makes sense for my wife and me not to waste money on gifts like flowers, chocolates or creepy devil balloon things:

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Monday, February 13, 2006

all about the Benjamin

The publicity about Darwin Day yesterday seemed to overshadow another, bigger birth anniversary that occurred last month. Sure, it's interesting that Charles Darwin would have been 197 years old and that things are gearing up for a bicentennial celebration in 2009. But I feel like I missed the hoopla over the 300th birthday of the great Benjamin Franklin on January 17th. Bean made a brief reference to the birthday in his blog that day but I think there hasn't been enough attention given to the very cool BenFranklin300.com website. Maybe I can go see the Benjamin Franklin Tercentenary Exhibition when it opens in Atlanta on July 4, 2007. Won't he be 301 and a half by then?

Most people agree that of all the founding fathers, Ben Franklin would be the one who felt at home if he were magically transported to the present in a "Bewitched" or "Bill & Ted" script come true. Wouldn't you love to be his tour guide? I know I would. After explaining the whole concept of television and DVDs, I would show him "1776," the greatest musical ever made about the Declaration of Independence.
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Sunday, February 12, 2006

church chat

Today is Darwin Day. Apparently the University of Tennessee was one of the first schools to hop on the Darwin Day bandwagon back in 1997. All their events for this year took place last week but you missed them because I just found out about them today. Sorry.

A news article about Darwin Day caught my eye because it mentioned that some wacky Canadians are parodying Christmas with Darwin Carols and an Evolution Tree. Here's what they posted to the Darwin Day events board:
The Philosophy Students' Union (PSU) of the University of Victoria is sponsoring this somewhat whimsical celebration of Darwin Day on the UVic Campus. On the lighter side, we will be singing Darwin carols of our own composition, exchanging Darwin cards, displaying an evolution tree (a wooden frame on which we will hang, as ornaments, representative sections of plants according to their evolutionary branches), and feature as well a sombre (but somehow convivial) Charles Darwin to spread wisdom, scientific information, and (perhaps) good cheer for the season.

On the more serious side, we will also have a table in the Student Union Building at which we will discuss some details of Darwin's life and work and explain to critics why evolutionary theory is by far the most rational stance to take regarding the origins of life.

A Darwin-themed party will follow. On Darwin Day itself (Sunday, February 12th), we are planning a similar celebration in downtown Victoria, for the general public.

If you would like the lyrics to our Darwin Carols, please contact us at the email address below: justin_kalef@yahoo.com
I wonder if one of their songs goes something like this: "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, was the first of an
incipient species..."

Another recent news article by a religion beat writer concerns "The DaVinci Code." The book and upcoming movie draw attention to a little-known Catholic group called Opus Dei. Rather than try to boycott the movie, Opus Dei has started a blog to inform the public about their true mission.

People will always argue about creation vs. evolution. Personally, I believe God created evolution. Thanks to "The DaVinci Code" people can argue about the relationship between Jesus and Mary Magdalene. I'm not saying the novel's claims are true but I do wonder what would be so bad about the Messiah being a family man like me.
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Saturday, February 11, 2006

places to go, things to see

My friend Bean is coming to visit next month. The last time he was here, we went to Dollywood and the Knoxville Zoo. This time I'm thinking of taking him to places with more local flavor like maybe some of the following: Ciderville Music Store, WDVX during their Blue Plate Special show, the American Museum of Science & Energy, the Museum of Appalachia, the airplane gas station and Hammer's Discount Store. It might be worth trying to pull some strings to get inside the Sunsphere. After all my blog entries about it, Bean says he would rather I try to get us a tour of the Body Farm.
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Friday, February 10, 2006

linkin' logs

Tonight is the night we say goodbye to "Arrested Development." Too bad you missed out on one of the funniest shows ever.

Speaking of the funniest shows ever, with the end of "Arrested Development," the new funniest show on TV is "The Office." I plan on sending my wife an Office e-card for Valentine's Day, which they plugged at the end of last night's episode.

Speaking of last night's TV, aside from Stacy Keibler, my favorite thing about "Dancing with the Stars" was the song they played for George Hamilton and Edyta Sliwinska. It was "Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps" which I recognized as the theme from the British sitcom "Coupling." They might have used a version of that song on the lame NBC version too. The failure of "Coupling" on NBC may have been the reason they tried a different approach when adapting "The Office" from the BBC version.

Still speaking of last night's TV, "Survivor" let us down by merging the tribes too soon. What's the point of having four tribes if you are going to merge them into two at the beginning of the second episode? Another disappointment was the dismissal of Sevierville's Melinda Hyder. Now that the tribe has spoken, listen for Melinda to be interviewed on Star 102.1 this Wednesday morning at 8:10 a.m. The Febreeze Family Moment was just as awkward as all of last season's, which is why I like them. Melinda's family mentioned East Tennessee on national television.

Speaking of national recognition for East Tennessee, the new book about the Body Farm is a hit. Regular reader Jennifer B. reports that there was a long line at the book signing for "Carved In Bone" on Monday night. According to Jennifer, the book was sold out not only at the Borders, where the signing occurred, but at both the nearby Barnes & Noble and Books-A-Million too. Some people may have bought the book elsewhere and brought it to Borders for a signature. I got my copy signed when Dr. Bass visited the radio station last week. My 30 minute interview with Dr. Bass will air Sunday morning at 6:00 a.m. on 93 Point 1 and at 6:30 a.m. on Star 102.1 and Hot 104.5.

Speaking of books, has anybody else read the political thrillers by Joel C. Rosenberg? My daughter gave me three of his books for Christmas. I just finished "The Last Days" and I'm trying to decide if I should start the third one right away or if I should read "Predator" next, which I also got for Christmas. In the past two years I've been reading a lot more. I've finished four Dan Brown books, six Harry Potter books, thirteen Patricia Cornwell books, the first two Rosenberg books, the Dr. Bass novel and his nonfiction book, "Death's Acre."

Speaking of dead bodies, I watched a little bit of "Showbiz Tonight" on CNN Headline news before the Grammys the other night. In between green carpet interviews, they ran a piece about a guy who wants to play a dead body on film. He has a website called DeadBodyGuy.com. Isn't that something?
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Thursday, February 09, 2006

chuckle hut

My friend Mary O. called today. Mary and I worked together at KLOS and at the Comedy World Radio Network. She wanted to know if I had seen the promos for the new Fox show "Free Ride" co-starring comedian Allan Havey. At Comedy World, Mary and I worked on the Allan Havey Plus Assorted Co-Hosts Show during the week and on my show on weekends. Havey's co-hosts were Susan Olsen, Lisa Kushell and Sue Murphy (no relation).

Speaking of comedians, Terry Morrow reported yesterday that the very funny Ralphie May is coming back to Knoxville on April 22. Ralphie will do two shows (7:00 and 9:30 p.m.) at the Tennessee Theatre and film them for a DVD. How cool is that? Tickets go on sale tomorrow at 10:00 a.m.

(April 2005 photo)

Knoxville is a good place for TV production. Another comedy DVD was recorded at the Tennessee Theatre two months ago by Henry Cho. Two local production companies provide a ton of shows for various cable networks. Watch the credits for shows produced by RIVR Media and Jupiter Entertainment.
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Wednesday, February 08, 2006

uno dos tres catorce!

Much the same way that some people prefer Coke over Pepsi, I watch "Access Hollywood" instead of "Entertainment Tonight." To me, Access is consistently superior to ET. Both shows had their hosts on the green carpet for their Grammy pre-shows. They obviously taped the segments sometime this afternoon. Access was truthful about the fact that the awards and celebrity arrivals would take place later tonight. ET tried to make it look like they were there live, which is probably why "Showbiz Tonight" on CNN Headline News displayed a graphic throughout their program reading "We are the only entertainment news show live at the Grammys."

Earlier tonight, I saw a promo for ET that horrified me yet made me rewind and watch it over and over again. To hype their coverage of the Grammys, the ET staff got some microphones and guitars and decided it would be a good idea to lip synch to the song "Vertigo" by U2. The worst/best part was the close up of Mary Hart mouthing the words "Hello, hello." They had a link to the video on their website, if you can stomach that sort of thing.
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Tuesday, February 07, 2006

studio b + mtv = studio bmtv

A local fitness club has several TVs hanging from the ceiling for the people on the treadmills to watch while they walk. One TV is tuned to ESPN News, another to Fox News and one plays up-tempo music videos. The sound from the music videos is played on speakers throughout the club. A lot of the treadmill walkers bring headphones so they can plug in and hear the audio from Fox or ESPN. The TV in the men's locker room is always tuned to Fox News, with the volume up just loud enough to hear over the music coming through the ceiling speakers. I don't spend much time watching Fox News but I've noticed two things while I'm changing out of my swimsuit. 1) For some reason actor Wayne Rogers often appears to talk about financial stuff. And 2) Shepard Smith's delivery is more interesting if you can hear an up-tempo rock song at the same time. It seems to especially work with the latest song by The Offspring and that Queens of the Stone Age song from a couple of years ago that I really like but don't know the name of. Anybody know what song I'm talking about? Anybody know why Trapper John is talking about investments?
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Monday, February 06, 2006

clap your hands if you believe

In the days before the Internet, I would usually learn about a celebrity death from the AP or UPI wire machine at the radio station. I had a co-worker who had a similar interest in the deathstyles of the rich and famous. When a celebrity died, I would call my colleague and leave him a voicemail. To use a recent passing as an example, my phone message would have been: "The actor best known for his roles as Bronx police officer Leo Schnauzer on "Car 54, Where Are You?" and as the cigar-chomping Grandpa Munster has died. Al Lewis was 82."

It's now easier than ever to get the obits of the stars. I was an early subscriber (#124) to CelebrityDeathBeeper.com. In fact, if you scroll down their old news page to November 11, 2000, you'll see a link to the first radio interview Tony Orciuoli ever did about the site. The interviewer? Me, during my fifth show on the old Comedy World Radio Network.

Two recent deaths gave me reason to reflect. I met the legendary Fayard Nicholas the year I was grand marshal of Burbank on Parade. He was in the parade but certainly would have been a better grand marshal than me. You need to see footage of the Nicholas Brothers tap dancing to believe it. You may see it and still not believe it. They were that amazing. Fayard died January 24th.

The second death was that of the aforementioned Al Lewis. In the late '80s or early '90s, Blockbuster Video had a grand opening somewhere in Virginia or Maryland. The deejays I worked for were hired to do an autograph-signing appearance in the store. I went along to help. "Granpa" was hired to be there too. He sat a table with a stack of 8 x 10 glossy photos. Before the doors opened, Al began signing photos with just his name. As fans lined up they would ask him to personalize the autograph. Al would shout to those lined up, "No salutations!"

I wonder how Fayard and Al will fare on the "In Memoriam" applause-o-meter during the Oscars.
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Sunday, February 05, 2006

see rock city

"Jimmy Kimmel Live" debuted after ABC's broadcast of Super Bowl XXXVII. The game is on ABC again this year, which will be their final Super Bowl for the foreseeable future. After the game, Jimmy will have a three year anniversary show around 11:35pm Eastern (8:35pm Pacific) tonight. I've had a TiVo Season Pass for Jimmy's show since its first night. A Dallas reporter recently described it as the most vital of the late-night shows.

This weekend I've been catching up on (and very much enjoying) last week's episodes of Jimmy's show. He's taken the show on the road to Detroit's Gem Theatre. So many people showed up for the tapings that they had a pizza party for those who couldn't get in. On Thursday night's show, Jeff Daniels alluded to the history of the Gem Theatre. He mentioned that the theatre got into the Guinness Book of World Records when it was picked up and moved on wheels to make room for a new stadium.

The Detroit media has been covering every aspect of Jimmy's visit. The information is so detailed that I know to look for a funny bit during the pregame show at 4:13pm today. Most of the stories are about the incident that got Jimmy in hot water with the Motor City.

I'm glad to see Jimmy making up with the people of Detroit. About a year and a half ago he made a joke about Piston fans that didn't go well. By coincidence, I was visiting L.A. and was in the audience the night that Jimmy's show got pulled by the network. The show that night was very funny. The guests were George Lopez and a talented singer named Katie Melua.

It was June 9, 2004. Jimmy opened the show by talking about the controversy that erupted the night before while he was interviewed on ABC during the NBA halftime show. He had joked that Detroit shouldn't win the championship because their fans would burn the down the city. Jimmy played some of the Detroit news coverage about his remark and followed that with an extremely funny pre-taped piece that spoofed the history of Detroit. The bit included lines like "in the 20th century Detroit became the capital of automobile production... Automobiles perfect for flipping, smashing and burning."

After the show, we went to the green room so we could take a photo of my son with Jimmy. Cousin Sal and Cleto recognized us and said hi. Sal told us there was a problem with the show and that Jimmy would be delayed. At that point, George Lopez's manager, Ron DeBlasio, spotted us and invited us into George's dressing room. We had a great visit with George. We talked mostly about radio.

After about half an hour, we went back to the green room looking for Jimmy. Carrie, his assistant, told us Jimmy was still on a conference call with the network that could last a while. She apologized for making us wait so long, not realizing we had been visiting with George Lopez the whole time. When Jimmy was able to see us, he joked that we picked a great night to come since it could be his last night on the air. He told us that the network had decided to air a rerun. We told him that we hoped they could air George Lopez's and Katie Melua's segments at a future date.

Jimmy apologized to Detroit and most of that "Jimmy Kimmel Live" show finally aired two nights later on a Friday night. There was a new opening monologue. After the first commercial break the show picked up with the remainder of Wednesday's show. Thanks to the slow motion and freeze frame features of TiVo, we even saw ourselves on TV when we returned to Knoxville.

Now that Jimmy is welcome in Detroit, I don't have to worry that his visit will end up with an unwanted trip to the Frank Murphy Hall of Justice.

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Saturday, February 04, 2006

bigmouth Billy Bass

Dr. Bill Bass is one of my heroes. I've only met him a few times but he impresses me with his cheery demeanor and his unusual work. I have probably made more blog references (here, here, here and here) to his Body Farm than anything else.

Dr. Bass was kind enough to spend a few hours at the radio station on Thursday to promote his new book "Carved In Bone" and his upcoming appearance at Borders on Monday night. After an hour long live interview on Star 102.1, he stayed to record another half hour with me for the cluster's public affairs program, which will be broadcast on all four stations on the morning of Sunday, February 12. If there's enough interest from all y'all, maybe I could post the show as a podcast after it airs.

I learned some interesting things during the interviews. Dr. Bass says you can see the Body Farm through the bare trees as you travel along Neyland Drive
this time of year. He also said that a dead body can lose 40 pounds in one day.

Speaking of 40 pounds, that's how much weight I've lost since September. You can tell the difference when you look at this photo from the day I visited the location shoot of Food Network's "Tricked Out Tailgating" special, which they happened to rerun today.

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Friday, February 03, 2006

no, the candles aren't lit

Ever since I was a kid I wanted to be a professional talker. I thought maybe I could grow up to be a game show host or a network booth announcer or a radio talk show host or whatever. I loved reading aloud in first grade. I volunteered to write the 4th grade Thanksgiving play so I could make myself the narrator. Not John Alden or Miles Standish. I wanted to be the narrator. For that reason, February 3rd was always one of my favorite days of the year. At our Catholic school, the teachers would march us across the street to the church for Mass on the feast day of Saint Blaise. At the end of the service we would line up like we were going to communion again but this time the priest would hold two candles in the shape of a V up to bless our throats by saying "through the intercession of Saint Blaise, bishop and martyr, may God deliver you from ailments of the throat and from every other evil."

Some of our Baptist friends have told me that they don't really understand why Catholics seem to have a different Saint for everything. My wife says to think of the Saints as people in our prayer circle. We ask them to pray for us and those on our prayer list. I suspect that my wife finds it creepy that I always tell her when I hear a song that I want sung at my big and lavish funeral. According to a link on Bean's Blog, I should have another 30+ years before I croak but when the time comes, I want our friend Mary K. to sing the "new" version of the "Litany of the Saints" that has the refrain "all you holy men and women pray for us."

What songs do you want at your funeral? Where would be a good place for me to leave a funeral song list for my wife? On the refrigerator door?
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Thursday, February 02, 2006

flash point

The big news 'round these parts yesterday was a gas station fire caused by static electricity. That's their story and they're sticking to it. A mechanic was emptying the gasoline from a car when a spark from static electricity ignited the fumes. The Petroleum Equipment Institute has warned consumers about making sparks while filling their tanks.

Of course we all know that the mechanic in yesterday's fire was telling the truth but what if another mechanic at another station at some point in the future were smoking on the job and ignited some fumes? What are the chances that he or she will have heard about yesterday's fire and will try to blame static electricity?
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Wednesday, February 01, 2006

semi-, demi- or hemi-?

Happy semi-anniversary to my blog! I started posting to it 6 months ago today. I don't know how many of you are reading it regularly but I hope you find it somewhat interesting. Writing it continues to amuse me. I think most readers are in Knoxville (because of links from Rich Hailey and Les Jones) but there are also some in Los Angeles thanks to links from Bean and Ken Levine. A few others arrived via random Google searches for phrases like "pear shaped" or "man eating alligator."

You can help me celebrate today's semi-anniversary by answering three easy questions.
  1. What city are you in?
  2. How did you find your way to this blog?
  3. Which of my 263 posts did you enjoy and/or remember?
I'll start. I'm in Knoxville. I found the blog by founding it (huh?). Some of my favorite posts are:
August - Coldest Beer in USA
September - saving a box turtle
October - Dear Radio letter
November - Thanksgiving parade coverage
December - Christmas music comments
January - Old Yeller dog food

Okay, it's your turn.
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