Saturday, March 31, 2007

funny girl

Her name is Lisa and she looks a lot like Kathryn Morris, the actress who stars in "Cold Case." That's all I know about my new improv crush. I also know that she stood out as the best among an excellent cast that I saw in two shows last night at The Comedy Warehouse, one of the nightclubs at Disney's Pleasure Island. After the 11:30 show, we got immediately got back in line for the 12:30 show. Here's me between the two performances:

The Comedy Warehouse improvisers specialize in singing games. My family and I especially liked how they sang some made-up tabloid headlines in the style of 16th century madrigals. They also did some non-musical games that we could try in Knoxville at a future Einstein Simplified show. I would like to try "Forward/Reverse" and a variation of "Game Show" called "Schmeopardy" in which the audience provides the answers and the improvisers (as the contestants) provide the answers.

Lisa is briefly mentioned in an online review of the Comedy Warehouse from 2004. The review also mentions Matt, our other favorite player from last night and gives some love to their super talented keyboardist, Carol Stein. I have tried Googling all the word combinations I can think of to learn about this Lisa with no success. Maybe someday she will Google herself, find this blog entry and tell us more about herself. Hey, it worked with Abby Ham.

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Friday, March 30, 2007

free Masons

Last year at this time, America was crazy about George Mason University, my alma mater. I had a pretty severe case of Final Four Fever myself. Blogger Frank Strovel was kind enough to send me the link to an interesting four-part article titled "George Mason: One Year Later." It tells what happened to GMU's three best players after they graduated. Meanwhile, Jim Larranaga is coaching an all-star game in Atlanta tonight as part of Final Four weekend.

This year's Final Four includes one of the other DC area Georges, Georgetown University. I guess I could root for them, seeing as they're a Catholic school and all. I'm not sure but I think the only Georgetown alum I ever knew is Joe Kelliher, who is now some medium-to-big-shot in the government.

After living in Burbank for ten years, it would make sense that I know a couple of people who graduated from UCLA. One of them, former Burbank mayor Michael Hastings, is on my list of LinkedIn connections.

If anyone happens to see me tomorrow, I'll be wearing my Final Four t-shirt from last year.

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Thursday, March 29, 2007

the 700 club

According to the Blogger "dashboard," this is my 700th post. It's taken me just under 20 months to get to this point. In my first month of blogging, I tried writing a few short posts a day. Now I've settled into a routine of posting once daily. I met blog reader Pam Mc at a remote broadcast today. When she first discovered this blog, she went back and read every post in the archives, leaving comments on several of them.

The milestone has got me thinking about blog posts I never wrote. Several weeks ago I noticed a concert listing on Pollstar. It said that one of my favorite rockers, George Thorogood was coming to Knoxville. I correctly assumed that he would be playing at "Sundown in the City." Now I wish I had posted my little scoop before today's official announcement.

I chose not to write about two big local stories because they have been so well covered in other blogs that I read. My readers outside Tennessee may want to catch up on the love triangle murder case and the reaction to Peyton Manning's appearance on "Saturday Night Live."

Lastly, may Phyllis West rest in peace. She was on the air at the local classic rock station, which was in the same building as the oldies station where I worked. She did nights and I did mornings so we would only see each other at full staff meetings when they pushed the Fish Philosophy on us. I didn't know Phyllis that well but I do know she was much too young to die.

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Wednesday, March 28, 2007

chain link fence

Business 2.0 magazine recently called it "MySpace-for-grown-ups." I first heard of LinkedIn a month ago when I got an invitation to join from a friend who works for the local architecture firm of Michael Brady Inc. (no, not that Mike Brady). I got a second notice today, telling me that the invitation was about to expire. I had a few minutes to spare before going to pick up the carpool at school, so I signed up. In the past, I've ignored several invitations to join other networking websites and now I'm feeling a little guilty about not responding. I think the reason I joined this time was the way my architect friend worded her invitation. She wrote:
I'd like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn. This is a networking site and my husband and I are in a battle to see who can have more contacts. I am going for breadth of contacts instead of bombarding all of my coworkers. I think you are a great addition to my little network. Help me kick my husband's butt. It is free and a little bit addictive. :)
While clicking around on LinkedIn, I found a former GMU classmate and a former co-worker from The River. However I didn't really need a networking site to find either of them. I still exchange emails with both. In addition, the former classmate always sends a Christmas card with a new photo of her twins. And the former co-worker does an excellent podcast that I should listen to more often. I do try to check her blog more regularly. I'll admit that it's because I don't have to pause the TiVo to read a blog like I would with a podcast.


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Tuesday, March 27, 2007

one more schmear

On Andy Rooney's last birthday, I was complaining about the way my Gillette antiperspirant gel dispenser makes it impossible to get the last bit out. I took a picture so I could write about it after I threw away the container. A thoughtful blog reader posted a comment suggesting that I should have busted the thing open to get the last dollop. That's exactly what I did with the next one.

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Monday, March 26, 2007

the price of fame

$209 plus $23 for shipping and handling. Is a nice souvenir worth that much? Or should I keep saving for that HD DVR I still want? Let me explain.

I got an email today with the subject line "News Sentinel article 03/15/07." It obviously refers to the article about my makeover that was published that day. The email was from a guy in Tampa who said he wanted to talk with me for two minutes about the article. Instead of calling, I looked up his company on the Internet. He works for In The News, Inc., a firm that laminates newspaper and magazine articles and mounts them on plaques. Their website says they have a highly sophisticated sales organization. I would say so. Apparently the News Sentinel is one of the 6,000 publications they receive. They saw the article, and found my work email address. This sentence from their site says it best:
If you are In The News, we know it and we make it our business to offer you our custom lamination service. Our sales staff contacts over 8,000 prospective clients each day and last year we produced over 65,000 custom laminated wall hangings, with approximate gross sales of over 10 million dollars.
I wrote back to the guy asking for a price quote. He replied saying that they wanted to go ahead and make the plaque. As a first time customer, I could return it within ten days if I didn't like it or if I can't come up with the $232. Plus tax probably.

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Sunday, March 25, 2007

five unrelated paragraphs

Like me, the writers at Entertainment Weekly noticed the extra seven minutes worth of "American Idol" that we'll get on Tuesday. At least I got it posted the day before they did.

Scott Weiland trashed a room at Burbank's nicest hotel, The Graciela. I stayed there once. The service was top notch. The staff gave me some free deodorant to replace the antiperspirant gel that the TSA wouldn't let me carry on the plane at the time. Staying at The Graciela was a rare treat. Usually I stay at the Safari Inn, which has been used as a filming location in several "C.S.I." episodes including one that aired only a few weeks ago.

A long time ago I mentioned something about radio stations named Froggy or K-Frog, etc. Froggy 101 in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton is now capitalizing on the use of their bumper sticker on "The Office."

My post about the Seattle Times Peeps Contest prompted my sister's husband to send me an article about the Washington Post's Peeps Diorama Contest. It may be the beginning of a trend. The St. Paul Pioneer Press is having a Peeps Diorama Contest too.

Michael Crawley emailed me to ask for a plug for the Detroit Dave benefit concert this Thursday night at the World Grotto. Michael says:
The lineup includes Todd Steed and the Suns of Phere, The Labron Lazenby Trio, Scott Miller, Dave Landeo, Karen Reynolds, The Macdaddies, RB Morris and Hector Qirko, Matt Woods, Tall Paul and The Bearded. Also slated is a special reunion of Crawdaddy, with the four original members: Rick Wolfe on bass; Steve Brown on drums; Michael Crawley and “Detroit” Dave himself, hopefully. All proceeds go to help Detroit Dave with medical bills and daily living expenses.

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Saturday, March 24, 2007


The bartender at Patrick Sullivan's said the cups were new. After all, who would want to drink from a 25 year old plastic cup? Despite what the bartender said, I want to believe that they were the real deal, not a reproduction. In my imagination, a box full of the 1982 World's Fair cups must have been recently uncovered in a dingy back room of the 119-year-old former brothel.

I brought some of the cups home from the bar. The words "Comet" and "Chelmsford, Mass. USA" are on the bottom in tiny molded letters. The cups are probably not old enough to interest the "History Detectives" on PBS, so I tried searching the Internet myself for anything I could find about them.

Cometware is made by a company called Waddington North America. I got the impression from their website that the Cometware brand is separate from their line of souvenir cups. I wonder if Comet was an older brand that was acquired by WNA and if so, when? If the World's Fair cups are new, would they say "Comet" or "WNA" on the bottom? Does anybody remember seeing a cup like this at the World's Fair in 1982?

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Friday, March 23, 2007

say cheese

It must be the hot stone. At the urging of a blog reader (more about him later), my family and I stopped for dinner at Brooklyn's Original Pizza in Lenoir City on our way home from Atlanta. It says on the front of the menu that they are East Tennessee's only hot stone pizzeria. The crust was the perfect thickness, or maybe I should say it was the perfect thinness. It was the perfect softness too. My first slice drooped exactly the right way before I pressed down on the center and folded it the way New Yorkers do.

In the past few weeks, I've written about trying the pizza at Mangia Pizza & More in the Turkey Creek shopping center and at I ♥ NY Pizza in South Knoxville. A comment on one of those earlier pizza posts directed me to an online review of Brooklyn's Original Pizza, which in turn, prompted me to visit the place this week. The reviewer is right, the pizza at Brooklyn's Original is just like you'd get in New York. I loved it and will go there again when I can. Because Mangia is closer to my house, I'll go there more often. Mangia's crust has a delicious breadstick flavor to it that strays from true New York style but I liked it a lot. A whole heckuva lot.

The guys behind the counter at Brooklyn's Original Pizza were happy have me take their picture. They told me how they are now world famous because of the online review I had read at They asked if my photos were for the Internet. I said yes without realizing that they might have thought I was going to post them on the Knoxville Yankee site rather than my own.

The author of Knoxville Yankee has written a very entertaining recap of what happened next. Here's my favorite part of his post (which you must read in its entirety):
Apparently some guy showed up that evening, claimed he knew me, knew my name, and spent about an hour there taking photos and talking to them all the while saying it was 'for'. Now there is the possibility that my friends at Brooklyn's Original heard wrong - they were short-staffed this week - but if they heard right, that's some creepy stuff because I have *NO* idea who that guy was. He certainly wasn't affiliated with me.

And so I'm putting a call out to identify this mystery Yankee who claimed he was down with this set. Here's what we know (pardon the 'Clue' like description):
  • He was estimated to be in his early 40's
  • He has a beard and glasses
  • He was with a woman and younger teenager who were assumed to be his family
  • The 'son' was described as around 14 - I didn't hear about the 'wife'
  • He has a 'northern accent' which could either mean a real accent or the absence of a southern one.
  • He has a nice camera, and spent a great deal of time setting up food shots, getting pictures of the guys tossing dough, etc.
  • He ordered a large pie with oregano and three salads (good taste - nice).
  • He was nice.
They may have gotten a few details wrong (I never claimed to be from Knoxville Yankee, I only said that I had heard of it) but at least they said I was nice. I've been recognized a lot lately, so I need to be on my best behavior.

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Thursday, March 22, 2007

worth what you paid for it

Here's some free advice for ABC. Call TV Guide and change the listings for next Tuesday so that the "Dancing With the Stars" results show begins at 9:07 p.m. instead of 9:00.

It's obvious that ABC has tried to schedule "DWTS" around "American Idol." First, they moved the performance show to Monday nights to avoid "Idol." Then they decided to not even have a results show this past Tuesday. Coincidentally "Idol" was having a two-hour performance show that night.

Since I'm busy every Tuesday night, I tried to set my TiVo to record the 9:00 p.m. "DWTS" elimination show on ABC. It asked me to choose between "DWTS" and the episode of "Idol" that was already on the To Do List. The programmers at Fox have scheduled Tuesday's "Idol" performance show to run from 8:00 to 9:07 p.m. Because the overlap is longer than 5 minutes, my TiVo won't clip the beginning or end of either program. I had to manually program it to record "DWTS" by setting the record time for 9:10 and then telling it to start 3 minutes early.

If fans of both series have Season Passes set up on their TiVos, only one of the two shows will be recorded that night unless each person sets up a manual recording like I did. ABC could fix it for everybody by just changing the official start time of next Tuesday's "DWTS" to 9:07. With Gwen Stefani as the guest coach, I don't want to miss the last few minutes of "Idol." That might be when Tranjaya comes on to sing "Just A Girl."

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Wednesday, March 21, 2007

omega-3 fatty acid trip

The Georgia Aquarium is the world's largest and most engaging. It says so right on their website. Normally they start by engaging $10 from your wallet to pay for parking in their structure. Because we had heard that the $24 admission tickets are often sold out, we bought ours through the website the night before we went. When we arrived at 10:00 a.m. yesterday, we were able to find a parking space right across the street for only $5. The price had risen to $7 by the time we returned to our car around 1:30 p.m.

The answers to the frequently asked questions warned us not to bring the obvious things like guns, knives, lighters or fishing poles. I was immediately reminded of an episode of "The Beverly Hillbillies" in which the Clampetts went on a fishing trip to Marineland.

The Georgia Aquarium was a gift to Atlanta from Bernie Marcus, the co-founder of Home Depot. They repaid his generosity by naming the aquarium's Nemo-like mascot "Deepo." The aquarium is so popular that another major tourist attraction is moving in next door. The current World of Coca-Cola is closing its doors on April 7 to re-open in the new location on May 24.

As a fan of all turtles, the aquarium's loggerhead sea turtle was an immediate favorite of mine. I liked the whale sharks not only because of their impressive size but because they are named after the characters in "The Honeymooners."

I had to look pretty hard to find some tuna in the aquarium. Turns out, they were swimming in mayonnaise. Nearby some Gummi fish were frolicking in blue Jell-O.

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Tuesday, March 20, 2007

peachy keen

It was great to see a familiar face on the local news in Atlanta last night. Ted Hall has been in Atlanta for just over a year but he already looks and sounds as comfortable behind the anchor desk as he did after 17 years in Knoxville. I only got to see Ted do one newscast before we came back home. More of his work is available online, including several installments of his feature, "Ted's Hall of Fame." Ted's anchoring skills are second to none. As much as I enjoyed watching him again, it did feel a little weird to see him interact with his new TV family.

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Monday, March 19, 2007

prospero año

The frequent promos for "Are You Smarter than a Fifth Grader?" are making me realize how much Jeff Foxworthy looks like my friend Loo Katz, who hosts morning drive on WASH-FM. Loo might have looked a little more like Foxworthy back when he was hanging out with rock stars.

My family and I saw an autographed picture of Jeff Foxworthy on display at The Varsity in Atlanta. It was near the picture of the landmark restaurant's most famous carhop, the late Nipsey Russell.

If you haven't been to The Varsity, you haven't really been to Atlanta. The Journal Constitution included it as one of their Atlanta icons last summer. The original newspaper article is on display in the same case as the autographed photos. You can read the feature and watch a slideshow online.

While in Atlanta, we learned that Jeff Foxworthy is one of the most famous (perhaps the most famous?) alumnus of Georgia Tech, which is right across the freeway from the Varsity. We also learned that The Varsity was founded by a Georgia Tech dropout who wanted to show his former teachers that he could make something of himself. The Varsity is a short walk from Bobby Dodd Stadium, where I imagine they must sing "Feliz Bobby Dodd" after every touchdown.

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Sunday, March 18, 2007

no melted faces

The tabernacle at All Saints Catholic Church, like most of the furnishings, is not ornate. It's made of wood, with nice but simple designs carved into the front panels. While visiting St. Michael the Archangel church in Georgia, I couldn't help but stare at their new (since June) tabernacle throughout the Mass. It's designed to look like the Ark of the Covenant. I should have been reminded of the Old Testament but I'll admit that the first thing that came to mind was Indiana Jones and "Raiders of the Lost Ark."

One of the ushers told me that the tabernacle had come from Europe and that their new pastor was especially proud of it. Curious about how much one would cost, I looked up some tabernacles on the Internet. One of the more spectacular tabernacles sells for $29,400. At the other end of the spectrum, a Catholic Campus Ministry in Springfield, Missouri, has a tabernacle that looks like a bread basket.

While we're talking religion, one of counselors at LA Weight Loss told me yesterday that although she was decked out in green, as a non-Catholic she was supposed to wear orange on St. Patrick's Day. I vaguely remember my Dad telling us to never wear orange on St. Patrick's Day, which was easy for me. I didn't own any orange clothes before moving to Knoxville.

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Saturday, March 17, 2007

still smiling

Food Network's Guy Fieri was in town on Thursday. I recorded a radio interview with him for our cluster's public affairs program that morning. Later in the day he was on WBIR before attending a benefit for the Abundant Life Kitchen, a joint program of the Knox Area Rescue Ministries and the Second Harvest Food Bank.

When Guy won "The Next Food Network Star" competition last April, I wondered if he was the same spiky-haired person I had spotted in Lynchburg a year a half earlier. It was. I showed Guy the photo we posed for back then. He wasn't famous at the time. I just had a feeling that he would be.

We were at the Jack Daniels World Championship Invitational Barbecue. Guy was filming a TV pilot which fell by the wayside when he entered and won the Food Network contest. As winner of the competition, he got his own show called "Guy's Big Bite." He has another show starting soon called "Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives," which sounds like a show I would want to host if I were a chef.

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Friday, March 16, 2007

counting the days until Easter

One link led to another, which led to another, which eventually made me want to do a Google search for the Seattle Times Peeps Contest. Marshmallow artists have until Wednesday to submit their creations for 2007. I think it will be tough to top last year's Marilyn Monroe mosaic. More Peeps art can be found at or at Dave April's gallery. The evolution picture is great. I really like the frying pan photo too.


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Thursday, March 15, 2007

every action has one

The first thing I saw when I flipped open the newspaper this morning was an extreme close up of dye being applied to my beard. It was one of the images well captured by J. Miles Cary during my salon session last week.

The reactions to today's article have been great. Jimmy Kimmel got me to laugh first thing this morning when I read his email: "I think you looked better going in than out." Someone claiming to be Abby Ham posted a nice comment: "Frank, you look great. Love your new look!" I want to believe it was really her, so don't tell me otherwise.

Jennifer Alexander
is B-97.5's "franchise player." If she were willing to move, she could be working in a much larger market. Jennifer wrote: "I saw your makeover pictures in the paper today. You look incredible! Totally different…but incredible! Just wanted to let you know. Hope you are doing well. I’ll try to get out to see a[n Einstein Simplified] show soon!"

Todd Covert retired from Einstein Simplified a couple of years ago. I still miss performing with him every week. He sent an email when he saw the paper this morning: "Normally, I don't go in for guys, but......!!!!!!! Saw the article in the paper. You look ... 'maaahhrvelous.' Did they give you all that stuff for free?!?!?! Were the chicks all hitting on you?!?!"

Somehow my makeover is forever intertwined with the Body Farm. Jon Jefferson, co-author of the Body Farm novels emailed me to say: "Carol Bass told me awhile back that she'd run into you at the salon as you were completing your metamorphosis, et voila, there you were in the News Sentinel looking tres, tres elegante; Ralph Fiennes sprang to mind. For me, a makeover would require a quart of Bondo, or maybe that face-patching putty the funeral homes use... Enjoy your youthful good looks. And try not to squint as much as I have!"

I stopped to get discounted gas at the Kroger Fuel Center this afternoon. The white haired gentleman washing his windshield at the next pump looked familiar. Even though his back was to me, I knew it had to be Dr. Bill Bass. I walked over to say hi. He was all dressed up in a blue blazer with khaki slacks. His necktie had a pattern of skulls on it. Dr. Bass told me that he was on his way home from speaking to a women's book club at one of the most expensive homes in the area. He said that his wife had enjoyed her conversation with me last week and that they had seen the photos of my makeover in the newspaper this morning. Before saying goodbye, I reminded Dr. Bass that I had asked for a tour of the Body Farm and that he had suggested late March or early April. He pulled a calendar from his pocket and said he'd like me to come to the facility at the same time as the women's book club. He said it would the two of us plus twenty women touring the Body Farm that day.

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Wednesday, March 14, 2007

note to self: buy extra newspapers

The News Sentinel article about my makeover will appear in the Style section of tomorrow's paper. However the link to the accompanying slideshow is active as of tonight. My segment on today's "Style" show went well. Michele Silva and writer Kevin Cowan asked me about my haircut, beard trim and weight loss. Kevin was kind enough to snap a photo of me with Michele and Moira Kaye. It's quite a change from the 2005 photo of fat me with ultra-tan Michele.

Jimmy Kimmel asked to see some of my makeover pictures. I emailed him yesterday when I saw something on "Access Hollywood" that would definitely qualify as the "unintentional joke of the day"
on his show. See if you can spot the comedy I found in the video clip of Aretha Franklin on the "Access Hollywood" site. When Jimmy wrote back to say he might use the clip tonight, he also asked for my makeover link. When I reply I'll have to mention a joke I delivered on the air this morning about "Tranjaya" who by the way did not get eliminated from "American Idol" tonight.

Speaking of "Idol," I liked the different arrangements that Chris Sligh and Blake Lewis used on their Diana Ross songs last night. I've written before about my interest in cross-genre cover songs and the Coverville podcast. USA Today's Whitney Matheson posted a list of her favorite cover songs this morning. Her list includes the Gary Jules song I've told you about but she likes a different Britney Spears cover than me.

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Tuesday, March 13, 2007

on and office

"If you don't know a Michael Scott, you are Michael Scott." Those words of wisdom were delivered by Steve Carell at the William S. Paley Television Festival on March 2. Carell acknowledged that Ricky Gervais had originally said the same thing about David Brent, his character in the British version of "The Office." Fans of the American version will be treated to recut episodes this week. Check out the NBC press releases for the details.

The Museum of Television & Radio has started posting photos and video clips from this year's festival. I hope they will also post some clips from the "Heroes" and "Dexter" sessions.

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Monday, March 12, 2007

a comedy tragedy

Sometimes a death can bring people together. At every funeral I've been to, somebody says that it's great to see you again but that they're sorry it has to be under these circumstances. Somebody else will say that the only time we ever get together anymore is at funerals and weddings. I hadn't talked with my friend Charlie Reinke in a long time. The sad news of Richard Jeni's death prompted me to call Charlie today.

Charlie is a comedy writer in Burbank. We met because our daughters went to grammar school together. As our families became good friends, our wives would often make plans for the four of us. Charlie and I would occasionally go to TV show tapings using tickets that either he or I had gotten through a business contact. I've mentioned before that Charlie's wife, Anja, is running for city council.

I called Charlie to talk about Richard Jeni. We had taken our wives to see Richard perform at the Ice House and had gone backstage to say hi. Charlie and I were in the audience for a taping of Richard's UPN sitcom, "Platypus Man." Charlie told me tonight how Richard would sometimes make a guest appearance in the comedy writing class that Charlie took when he was getting started in the business. Two of the first three jokes he sold were to a TV show called "Caroline's Comedy Hour" and were delivered by Richard Jeni.

I am a fan of Richard's comedy. I've watched his HBO specials and I booked him to appear on KLOS several times. The program director once asked me to find a comedian to entertain between sets at a classic rock concert the station was hosting at the Glen Helen Pavilion in San Bernardino. I arranged for Richard Jeni to do it but it didn't go well. The road crew for the next band refused to stop soundchecking the drums during Jeni's performance. As Richard valiantly tried to get laughs, you could hear the roadie slowly pounding on each drum in the kit and monotonously saying "one, one, one" then "two, two, two" and so on into a microphone.

Charlie hopes to go to memorial service for Richard. He suggested that I check a blog entry from the wife of comedy writer T. Sean Shannon on her MySpace page. On "The View" this morning, the women mentioned a blog posting about Richard written by Elayne Boosler. It will be the last thing I read before bed tonight.

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Sunday, March 11, 2007

little turn on the catwalk

Before my wife and I walked the runway at the Women Today Expo this afternoon, we each had our hair styled by the staff of Garde Bien Spa Salon. As predicted, my wife's natural curls returned in time for the fashion show.

We got dressed in the fancy outfits from Dillard's and walked on stage near the end of the show. Image consultant (and dry cleaning expert) Laurie Wilson asked us about our weight loss and our experiences at the salon and the department store.

News Sentinel Style reporter Kevin Cowan told me that his article about my makeover will appear in Thursday's paper. He also asked me to be on his segment of Wednesday's Style show on WBIR-TV. Kevin posed for a photo with Stacey Handel of Garde Bien, my wife and me. By the way, Kevin is the one who wrote the famous article that had all of East Tennessee talking last fall.

The most popular part of the Women Today Expo is the Food City Food Show. My wife and I said hi to Chef Walter as he was on his way to sign copies of his new cookbook. Later my wife introduced herself to Tina Wesson, who was also signing books at the Food Show. When I saw Tina a bit later, she was surprised by my appearance. The last time she saw me, I was a lot heavier. The good people at Food City tempted me to gain some of the weight back with a sheet cake decorated especially for me. Other than Dr. Bass himself, there can't be that many other people who would enjoy a Body Farm cake as much as me.

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Saturday, March 10, 2007

fit for the king

The dump truck driving in front of us this morning was giving off a pretty strong odor. As we exited I-40 at Bridgewater/Walker Springs/Gallaher View, I could see that the truck was from The Mulch Company. The plain name made me wonder if anyone has ever called their mulch business "Thankyouvery Mulch."

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Friday, March 09, 2007


A fellow parishioner (and radio personality) told me his family was getting tired of eating fish on Fridays during Lent. He wondered if I had any ideas for other meatless meals. I started rattling off suggestions. He seemed interested in trying Amy's Texas Veggie Burgers. He was surprised at himself for forgetting about cheese pizza, which my parents often ordered on Friday nights back in Crestwood. Like me, my friend was puzzled that eggs can be eaten on Fridays since they could grow up to become chickens, which are not allowed.

My wife is the one who had told me that eggs are permitted by the Church. When I questioned her about it, she said that she had previously looked it up on the Internet (no wonder I'm crazy about her). Turns out that Pope Paul VI gave eggs the okay back in 1966. I wonder if the American Egg Board asked Pope Paul for a blessing, similar to the way KFC asked Pope Benedict to bless their fish sandwich.

Since it was Friday and since my wife and I were going to be in South Knoxville on business anyway, we planned today's meals so that we could try a pizza place we have heard good things about. With a place named "I ♥ NY Pizza," my hopes were high. As a former New Yorker, I'm always looking for pizza that reminds me of the ones I ate while growing up.

I immediately liked the atmosphere at
I ♥ NY Pizza. One wall is covered with graffiti and several of the ceiling tiles are decorated. The contents of the dessert case made me want to plan a return visit after Lent when I can eat sweets again. My wife and I ordered a whole pizza so we'd have leftovers to bring home to our son. Our meal began with a house salad. Instead of the cheap stuff we eat at home, our salad was made with fancy greens, similar to the Newman's Own package I've seen at Sam's Club. Their balsamic vinaigrette had the consistency of gravy but tasted great. Our pizza arrived just as we finished our salads. While it was very good, it had almost twice as much cheese as the pizzas of my youth. The crust was thin, the way I like it but the thick cheese oozed out when I folded a slice to eat it New York style. As we were leaving, we saw that the people at the next table had ordered some zeppole, which they were nice enough to let me photograph.

Would I go back to
I ♥ NY Pizza? Absolutely. In my ongoing search for my favorite Knoxville pizza, I currently rank I ♥ NY as number three. Roman's is number two and Mangia is still number one. Another pizza place that I tried in September was mentioned on the news today and not for a good reason.

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Thursday, March 08, 2007

the hottie and me

J. Miles Cary, the photographer from the News Sentinel was waiting for me outside the Garde Bien Spa Salon yesterday. He was there to chronicle my mini-makeover for an upcoming photo essay on My wife and I will model outfits in the "It's Real Style, Knoxville" fashion show at 2:00 p.m. Sunday during the Women Today Expo.

As I waked into the salon, there was a woman paying for some products at the counter. She saw the photographer following me and asked, "Are you Mr. Murphy?" I said that I was and she introduced herself as Carol Bass, wife of Dr. Bill Bass. The staff had told her what was going on. She said that Dr. Bass appreciated the interest I showed in his work during our radio interviews. I asked her to congratulate Dr. Bass on his findings in the Big Bopper case and I told her that I had been invited to tour the Body Farm this Spring. She advised me to wear old shoes. At this point J. Miles Cary said that when he photographed Dr. Bass at the Body Farm, the stench permeated his clothing like cigarette smoke. He had to throw away the floor mats from his car after the aroma transferred from his shoes.

With these happy thoughts in my head, I went to the back of the salon for my manicure and haircut. The plan was to give me shorter hair and a more closely cropped beard, despite Cary's repeated suggestions that I shave it completely. When frosted tips were briefly mentioned as a possibility, I was concerned that they were trying to make me look like Ryan Seacrest. As it turns out, the cropped beard makes me look less like Seacrest and more like Ron Rifkin.

When the haircut was finished, I picked up my wife and we went to Dillard's to be fitted for Sunday's fashion show. After that, she spent several hours at Garde Bien getting a new haircut herself. Salon owner Stacey Handel thought it would be fun to straighten my wife's naturally curly hair for one night only. Once it gets near humidity (i.e. the shower), her curls will return. For the sake of comparison, you may want to see my blog entry from last Father's Day. I'm glad I forced myself to wait up even though I was really tired from skipping my daily nap. My wife was pretty tired too when she finally got home around 10:30 last night. I asked our son to snap a quick photo so I can always remember her straight hair look. We'll have to take more photos on Sunday when she has curly hair and full makeup. I'm not a huge fan of my neck beard, so I shaved that part of it off tonight.

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Wednesday, March 07, 2007

special guest star

There was no time for a nap because of the mini-makeover I received today. I'll fill you in over the next few days as the story appears in the News Sentinel and as my wife and I walk the runway at the Women Today Expo on Sunday afternoon. As it turns out, I do not get to keep the clothes, which makes sense since they are dressing me in an $800 suit. I could buy it at 25% off though. Fat chance of that happening.

I can get by tonight with a little blogging help from my friend Bean. If he had a blog, he would have posted the poem that he found online and emailed to me. It
contains several examples of capitonyms, words that change meaning when capitalized.
A herb store owner, name of Herb,
Moved to a rainier Mount Rainier.
It would have been so nice in Nice,
And even tangier in Tangier.
Blog critics may correctly feel that my posting could use some polish but at least I didn't completely slough off tonight.

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Tuesday, March 06, 2007

it goes a little something like this

Auditions were held in Los Angeles yesterday and today for an upcoming show called "The Next Best Thing." It's another talent type competition with the hook being that the contestants are celebrity impersonators. I have always enjoyed watching impressionists but there's something a little creepy about most celebrity impersonators. Maybe it's the way they don't break character.

As a child, I loved a short lived TV show called "The Kopycats." Several of the era's best impressionists would perform skits in character. Frank Gorshin, George Kirby and Rich Little were regulars. Currently, I enjoy catching Frank Caliendo anytime he turns up on TV.

I can name several impressionists but what about celebrity impersonators? There's a local guy who does a great Barney Fife character at parades and other events but I didn't know his real name was Sammy Sawyer until I used my impressive Google skills just now. I once interviewed a real good Elvis impersonator named Travis LeDoyt. He's the only other celebrity impersonator whose name I can recall. They both should audition.

Jeffrey Ross and Lisa Ann Walter are supposed to be two of the judges on "The Next Best Thing." They're both funny and could make the show worth watching at least for a little while.

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Monday, March 05, 2007

close the humidor

The announcers on ESPN tonight explained it well. All season long, the George Mason Patriots have been the hunted. Every opponent tried extra hard to defeat a Final Four team (even though three of last year's starters had graduated). During the CAA tournament, the Patriots were once again the hunters. I was happy to discover that a channel on my cable system was carrying the tournament. I went to bed early and missed Friday night's game but I was able to watch live as 6th seeded GMU upset the number 3 seed Hofstra on Saturday. I recorded Sunday's game and tried to watch it after I got home last night, but only made it to halftime before I couldn't keep my eyes open any longer.

Mason basketball isn't as big a news story as it was last year. This morning around 9:00 a.m., I realized that I still had not yet heard if GMU was able to maintain their big lead or if number 2 seed ODU had come back to win. I hadn't gotten any emails from my fellow GMU alumni, which made me wonder if the news was not good. I resisted the urge to open a USA Today sports page sitting within reach and I didn't go to a headline website that I usually read daily. After lunch, I enjoyed the heck out of the rest of the game as the Patriots overthrew the Monarchs to advance to tonight's championship game. One more Mason victory would mean another trip to the big dance. A loss would probably mean the end of the season, although an NIT appearance wouldn't be completely ruled out.

One of my son's classmates came over to watch tonight's game with us. Things were looking good as the Patriots maintained a lead over the number 1 seed through most of the game but VCU didn't give up and ended up winning in the last two minutes. During the season I had come to accept that Mason probably would not return to the NCAA tournament but I got my hopes up this weekend. It was fun while it lasted.

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Sunday, March 04, 2007

silence of the frogs

A couple of weeks ago a kind blog reader sent me a link to a story about a frog that may very well have been trapped in amber for the last 25 million years. That story got me thinking about the frogs in my own backyard. I haven't heard a peep out of them yet. By this time last year, the Mountain Chorus Frogs were singing like crazy, which I suppose makes them Crazy Frogs by definition. Why are the frogs not screaming, Clarice? Could it have anything to do with the weather? It was surprisingly cold this morning with a few stray snowflakes in the air. Frogs haven't survived for over 25 million years by letting their tadpoles freeze to death. What if the frogs know that Spring is not yet here to stay? Could they be thinking about the upcoming anniversary of the Blizzard of '93?

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Saturday, March 03, 2007

like a big pizza pie

A lunar eclipse was visible tonight. I was reminded to look for it after hearing a radio interview with "Mr. Eclipse" himself. My own rushed attempt at a photo of the eclipse turned out terribly.

While looking for an eclipse song other than the obvious one by Bonnie Tyler, I stumbled across an a cappella group called Eclipse.

Back in the days when my friend Bean had a blog, he linked to a great page about one of my favorite record albums from childhood. The "Space Songs" album is loaded with corny tunes about the sun, moon and stars. It includes the original version of "Why Does the Sun Shine," which was famously covered by They Might Be Giants. The album doesn't have an eclipse song though.

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Friday, March 02, 2007

boob tube

Tonight's "Access Hollywood" had a red-carpet interview with "American Idol's" Simon, Randy, Paula and Ryan on the topic of Kellie Pickler's new pair of... shoes. The Museum of Television & Radio logo was prominently displayed behind the Idol judges (and host). They were on their way in to the 24th Annual William S. Paley Television Festival. Has it really been a year since I was jonesing about last year's festival?

The lineup for this year's Paley festival is even better than last year's, mainly because of tonight's presentation. The cast and crew of "The Office" will be featured. It's the best show currently on the air. I may have to buy the DVD of tonight's panel if it becomes available two years from now. Three more of my favorite shows will be honored in the coming days: "Dexter," "Prison Break" and "Heroes." I'll be checking the new PaleyFest blog for updates, photos and video clips. I put all four of those shows on my top ten list for last year, which I was challenged to compile as part of a morning radio segment with Terry Morrow of the News Sentinel.

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Thursday, March 01, 2007

ham radio

Instead of writing a long blog entry on a night when I'm more tired than usual, I realized that I could just post a new photo of Abby Ham and get a significant increase in page hits. Abby spent an hour at the Children's Hospital Radiothon today. Hey all you Ham fans, before you use Photoshop to cut me out of the picture and paste yourself in, click here to make a donation to Children's Hospital. It will impress her, I promise.

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