Sunday, September 30, 2007

holy pop quiz!

The October issue of "Catholic Update" is available in the rack at the back of our church. I picked one up this morning. This month's topic is "Creationism: What's a Catholic to Do?" I already had a pretty good idea that the essay would support my belief that God created evolution. The article does mention in passing the Creation Museum in Kentucky that I read about in July.

My friend Bean sent along a quiz he found on the Internet that's perfect for a Sunday. I'll post the correct answers in the comments section once several of you have posted your own guesses.

1) In 1966, the Ku Klux Klan burned Beatles records after who said the group was "more popular than Jesus now"?
2) The Depeche Mode song "Personal Jesus" was inspired by the autobiography "Elvis and Me," written by whom?
3) The Jesus and Mary Chain’s song "Just Like Honey" appears in the closing scenes of what 2003 drama?
4) Before "Jesus Christ Superstar," Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice collaborated on what other biblically inspired musical?
5) In the short film "The Spirit of Christmas," when Jesus and Santa are kicking the heck out of each other, who reminds the "South Park" kids that "This is the season just to be good to each other"?
6) What Pulitzer-winning novelist and one-time New York mayoral candidate published The Gospel According to the Son in 1997, told from the point of view of Jesus himself?
7) Victor Garber, Jennifer Garner’s dad on "Alias," plays Jesus in what musical film that climaxes on top of the World Trade Center?
8) The shortest verse in the New Testament, John 11:35, is "Jesus wept." Whose tomb made Jesus cry like a little girl?
9) Supreme Court case Morse v. Frederick determined that a school can restrict student speech at a school event that can be seen as promoting drug use. What did Joseph Frederick’s controversial banner say?
10) In 1899, journalist Louis Klopsch came up with the idea for what biblical innovation?

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Saturday, September 29, 2007

once, twice, three times a mallow

The Union Square Marshmallow Fluff Fest has been turning up in my search results lately. Some people searching for information about it are finding what I wrote about last year's festival. My blog entry got linked from the official site. Unfortunately they think my name is Frank Miller. The second annual Fluff Fest was held today in Somerville, Massachusetts. Like everyone else, they must have scheduled their festival around the Vols.

Whoopi Goldberg was waving a box of Mallomars on "The View" this past week. She said it was the first day that the seasonal treat was back in stores. I've also gotten a few page hits recently from people searching for Mallomars. I wrote about buying some last October. Maybe they'll have some tomorrow when I go to buy salad.

I didn't see any Mallomars the last time I went to Wal-Mart. As I pushed my shopping cart past a refrigerated case, I thought I saw some miniature marshmallows out of the corner of my eye. Marshmallows in the refrigerated section? Yup, they're part of a S'mores Dessert Pizza.

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Friday, September 28, 2007

who's in first?

C'mon! 135 days and it comes to this? You've gotta be kidding me.

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Thursday, September 27, 2007

bloggers' field trip

The Knoxville Symphony Orchestra opened its season tonight with an all-American program. They will perform the same selections on Friday night at the Tennessee Theatre, in case you missed it. Just after the concertmaster made his entrance, my wife told me that someone backstage usually starts the applause as he walks on. She shook her head as I made sure that I was the first one to applaud for the conductor tonight. The show was divided into two halves: familiar and unfamiliar. I thought the first piece, "Short Ride in a Fast Machine," was fairly dissonant and modern sounding.

Everything stopped while they loaded in a piano for the soloist Jeffrey Biegel. I wondered why they didn't have the piano already on stage. Instead they used the orchestra pit floor as an elevator. The pit floor started at stage level and had to be lowered down into the bottom of the pit for the piano to be placed on it. By the time the floor was raised, I had ample time to imagine Biegel making a grand entrance, seated at a candelabra-covered piano and wearing a Liberace cape. He didn't. In reality, he strode in perfectly normally, sat down and played the heck out of Liebermann's Piano Concerto No. 3. The concerto is a new composition which was commissioned by a group of 18 orchestras, including ours. You can hear about it in the KSO opening night podcast.

Given the advanced age of most of the concertgoers, I knew to get to the restroom quickly at intermission or else I would be stuck at the end of the "prostate parade." The line for the men's room is always just as long as the line for the ladies' room. The concert concluded with two very well-known pieces, "Appalachian Spring" and "An American in Paris." My father often listened to classical music at home, including the Copland opus. I remember when I first heard the Shaker hymn "Lord of the Dance" at church, I assumed that Copland had written it. Hearing the composition tonight reminded of the one time I saw Aaron Copland in person. I was working in the box office at Wolf Trap Farm Park for the Performing Arts for the summer when I saw Mrs. Shouse driving her golf cart across the plaza with Copland as her passenger.

After the concert, bloggers were invited to a post-show reception with the musicians. My wife and I had a chance to chat with Lucas Richman, Jeffrey Biegel, Katy Wolfe Zahn and our neighbor Ihsan Kartal. We also spoke with my blogfather Rich Hailey and Lissa Kay as well as my friend Krisha Newport. We got to meet some other bloggers too including Byron Chesney, Craig Thomas, Tish McQueen and Doug McCaughan, who turns out to be one of the founding members of Einstein Simplified.

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Wednesday, September 26, 2007

that is the question

To Skype or not to Skype? I haven't joined even though my wife's brother has been spreading the Skype hype throughout the family for some time. I figured that I didn't have anybody to Skype with. As it is, I barely talk on the phone with anyone other than my wife. Who would I talk with over the Internet? Maybe if some of my friends from DC or LA had the Skype, I could chat with them during the hour that I struggle to stay awake each day before picking up the carpool at school. Not only does my wife seem interested in the Skype, she might even want to get a webcam to go with it. While her brother visited this past weekend, they used his computer to Skype all the way over to England for a video chat with their sister. Do you have any recommendations for an inexpensive webcam that works well? Are you one of my old friends interested in talking over the Internet? Is the Skype really free or is there a catch?

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Tuesday, September 25, 2007

whose lung is it anyway?

The building that houses Patrick Sullivan's Steakhouse and Saloon has stood on the corner of Central and Jackson since 1888. According to local legend, it used to be a brothel. I've been doing improv at Patrick Sullivan's almost every Tuesday night for the past five years or so. Every week I come home reeking of second-hand smoke thanks to the audience members who can't resist the addicting power of nicotine. The carpet on the stage is pockmarked with scores of cigarette burns from the butts dropped by the rock and country bands who play there on weekends.

I imagine that smokers made up the majority of the clientèle of all the various businesses to occupy the building since it first opened its doors 119 years ago. All that is supposed to change on Monday when the new anti-smoking law takes effect. I had assumed that Patrick Sullivan's would take advantage of the loophole that allows smoking in bars that deny admittance to people under 21. Tonight I was surprised to hear from Dave the bartender that Sullivan's doesn't want to shun underage customers. If they enforce the smoking ban like they're supposed to, that means tonight was the last night I had to suffer through the vile, fetid, putrid, poisonous, obnoxious fumes emanating from the audience (and from one of my improv brothers).

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Monday, September 24, 2007

most wanted

An arrest has finally been made in the Johnia Berry case. Johnia was murdered and her roommate was injured almost three years ago in a senseless crime. Her family has tirelessly campaigned to keep the case in the news. Blogger Les Jones helped by creating a website and bringing it to the attention of other bloggers and members of the mainstream media.

I found it reassuring that the man they arrested does bear a resemblance to the face in the composite sketch of the suspect. As he did the perp walk, the TV reporters asked him some leading questions:
"Do you have anything to say for yourself?"
"I never meant for this to happen. I'm sorry."
"Did you mean to kill her?"
"Why did you do it, was it an accident?"
"It was an accident."
Most of the first half of today's "Oprah Winfrey Show" on bipolar disorder was preempted locally by the sheriff's congratulatory press conference. The sheriff congratulated the TBI and other agencies. Representatives of the other agencies congratulated the sheriff and the detectives. The representatives from Food City received some well deserved praise for putting wanted posters in their store windows and on their trucks. When Johnia's mother spoke, it was truly emotional.

After the local affiliate returned to Oprah, they posted a graphic urging viewers to stay tuned for the 5 o'clock news. Unfortunately, it was the same time as the Oprah crew flashed a graphic promoting tomorrow's show. The local graphic wasn't big enough to completely obliterate Oprah's graphic, resulting in the unfortunate combination pictured below.

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Sunday, September 23, 2007

decomposition book

What's that? You just missed hearing the authors of "Beyond the Body Farm" on the early morning public affairs radio show I told you about? Well, get comfortable with a cup of coffee and the Sunday crossword puzzle while you listen to a podcast of this morning's show.

The book and the radio interview are full of interesting forensic cases. I almost thought that Dr. Bill Bass and Jon Jefferson had a monopoly on all the good dead body stories. Then I found one in the Washington Post that isn't theirs but is fascinating nonetheless. Last week a corpse from the 1850s was finally identified a couple of years after being accidentally unearthed in Washington DC.

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Saturday, September 22, 2007

amazin' race

You Gotta Believe! That was the rallying cry of the 1973 New York Mets. I gotta believe that the Mets can hold on to first place in the NL East just a little bit longer. They helped themselves by beating the lowly Marlins tonight.

The Phillies are doing their best to spoil my fun. They swept three series against the Mets this season and have shrunk the Mets' lead to a game and a half. Longtime Mets fans know about late season collapses. The Mets' 1969 pennant win had as much to do with the Cubs' collapse as anything else.

The news reached my friend Bean during his European Vacation. He used his iPhone to make sure I saw the headline in the International Herald Tribune.

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Friday, September 21, 2007

somber win

The 54-12 victory had the feeling of a loss at Knoxville Catholic High School tonight. One of the team's best players sustained a leg injury that quieted the normally rowdy crowd. Zak Tait did give a thumbs up as he was lifted into the Rural/Metro ambulance. He is a junior who is already attracting lots of attention from college programs. Zak's signal helped ease the tension somewhat. While he was still laying on the field, the players from both Catholic and Livingston Academy dropped to one knee. Zak's brother Dustin, who is also on the team, knelt apart from all the others, closer to his younger brother. The near-silence was briefly broken by a cry of pain from the field as the trainers tended to Zak's injury. A few fans who didn't realize what was happening were shushed by other fans. Many were choked with emotion as they saw that not only were the players kneeling but so were the cheerleaders and members of the "Catechism Corner Crazies." During the rest of the game, people in the stands talked about Zak's injury. The details were sketchy and unreliable. Someone had heard someone say that they had talked to someone else who had gotten a call from the hospital and so on. What I heard later in the game sounded to me as if it have been embellished from what I had heard at halftime. Only one thing is certain. Everyone wants Zak to make a speedy recovery.

It was up to the band and the drumline to restore the enthusiasm. One of the KCHS drummers is actor Jarron Vosburg, who has guest-starred on "Cory in the House." I don't watch a lot of Disney Channel and didn't know until just now that my former colleague Lisa Arch is also on that show. She has been blogging about her pregnancy and should have given birth some time this week.

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Thursday, September 20, 2007

green hornet and the big apple band

The only Monday Night Football game I'll probably watch all year was played earlier this week. My family and I didn't mind staying up late to watch a well-played Redskins win. Thanks to the NFL Sunday ticket, we'll watch the Redskins in their throwback uniforms this weekend while our local Fox affiliate shows the Panthers at the Falcons.

One of my all-time favorite artists, Brian Setzer and his horn section made a noticeable improvement in the Monday Night Football opening song. I almost always like songs with lots of brass. The horns get a good workout on the clips I've heard from the new Brian Setzer Orchestra album. "Wolfgang's Big Night Out" comes out Tuesday. This time around they give the big band treatment to familiar classical melodies. Tonight I took advantage of the free download of "Take The 5th" available through the Setzer website. It's a twist on Beethoven's Fifth Symphony. The concept (but not the execution) reminds me of the disco hit "A Fifth of Beethoven."

The BSO MySpace page has more clips. I especially liked their interpretation of "Flight of the Bumblebee" called "Honey Man." Starting tomorrow night at 9:00 p.m., we can listen to the whole album online for 48 hours. You'll need to click here and then enter the passcode WOLFGANG

If money were no object, I would hop on a plane and go see one of the shows on the 6th Annual Christmas Extravaganza Tour. Listening to the classical variations and last year's speculation that he might retire the BSO made me wonder if someday Brian Setzer would play the local symphony circuit. He would have to bring the Gretsch and the Fender amp with him while the symphony in each city plays all the other parts. It might be the only way we get him to come to Knoxville.

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Wednesday, September 19, 2007

batmobile lost a wheel

"One Knoxville media personality" is a media label used by Terry Morrow yesterday in his review of the Emmy Awards. I'm pretty sure he's referring to me and I'm thrilled about it. In context, the whole sentence reads as follows:
As one Knoxville media personality cracked to Tele-buddy on Monday: The Emmys paled next to even some commonplace affairs like the People’s Choice Awards.
Also more entertaining than the Emmys is the coverage of the award show on the gossip blog Crazy Days and Nights. They supposedly had an actress texting some dirt from inside the ceremony. They followed that with some juicy blind items about the backstage goings on. I'm a new reader to CD&N. I first heard of it about two weeks ago when I found a link to the surprising Old Hollywood story of an award winning actress who was really a man. The answer to the mystery was revealed today. TV's Joker is also involved.

The topic of media labels came up in January, 2006 when I found one that would amuse my friend Bean. The mention was in my review of "Carved In Bone." Meanwhile, Bean and his wife are vacationing in Italy this week. He's been sending me occasional emails from his i-Phone including one of his wife waiting in line at the Sistine Chapel and one of his new Pope snow globe.

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Tuesday, September 18, 2007

buy 'em before you can buy 'em

Not that you needed one but here's yet another reason to attend tonight's Einstein Simplified comedy improv show at Patrick Sullivan's in the Old City. Street team members from the Tennessee Theatre will be on hand to distribute invitations for you to buy pre-sale tickets to "An Evening with Colin Mochrie & Brad Sherwood." Their two man improv show was originally scheduled for October. The date has been changed to Sunday, December 2. Tickets go on sale this Friday at 10:00 a.m, unless you have the pre-sale invitation password. The pre-sale tickets will be sold Thursday but only through the Tennessee Theatre website. If you can wait until Friday, you can save some money on service charges by buying your tickets in person at the box office. The show description on the Colin & Brad website gives a good reason to buy seats near the stage:
The show is all about audience participation. Everything in the show is based on audience suggestions and many audience members are brought up on stage to be part of the craziness. The entire evening is completely improvised, and best of all, the show is never the same twice.

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Monday, September 17, 2007

bookworms go in, bookworms go out

Dr. Bass can always tell when the interviewers haven't read the book. That's the helpful tip I got from Stacey Handel as she was cutting my hair over the weekend at Garde Bien. Longtime readers know that another of Stacey's clients is Carol Bass, the lovely wife of the famed forensic anthropologist. Tomorrow I get the opportunity to record another interview with Dr. Bill Bass and Jon Jefferson for Sunday's public affairs show. As of right now, I have finished twelve chapters of their new non-fiction book, "Beyond the Body Farm." I still need to read the last four chapters tonight.

I should have read the whole book as soon as I got an advance copy. Instead, I didn't start until last week when I finally knew the date of our interview. One thing I have tried to impress on my children is be the tortoise, not the hare. In my academic career, I was definitely a hare. I waited too long to start homework projects and term papers and would then have to race to catch up. More often than not, my first draft and final draft were the same thing. Fortunately, my children have found that school is easier when they get an early start on their assignments. I believe that our high school and college systems test a student's ability to handle the work load, not their intelligence. I came to that realization too late to help myself when I saw a fellow GMU student plod through his studies and graduate the year before I did.

Having said all that, I really need to get back to reading. The new Body Farm book chronicles several true stories including The Big Bopper exhumation and the Leoma Patterson case. Chapter 5 is especially grisly but fascinating. It describes in detail the aftermath of an explosion at an illegal fireworks factory in Polk County. I will be sure to ask the authors about that and about another chapter that angered me. A young girl was murdered by a prison inmate who was on his way back to prison after a day on work release. I need to ask if the deputy who trusted the inmate to drive a police vehicle has any responsibility in the death of the girl.

If you can't wait to hear Sunday's radio show, you can ask Jefferson and Bass yourself at an event Tuesday night. The authors will be at the East Tennessee History Center at 7:00 p.m. Tickets are $25. Refreshments and a copy of the book are included. If you're busy tomorrow, there are several more book signings on the schedule in East Tennessee and around the country.

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Sunday, September 16, 2007

are you ready for some

Today was my first day with the NFL Sunday Ticket in HD. At 1 o'clock I started flipping through channels 718 and up in eager anticipation of glorious high definition football. Just like on Wednesday, I got the dreaded error message, "channel not purchased." When I tried to call DirecTV, all I got was a busy signal. Repeatedly. Maybe I wasn't the only one having problems. I made myself some lunch and put on one of the blurry SD channels to make sure I was at least getting those. By the time I finished eating, most of the HD channels were working. The problem returned at 4 o'clock. Gradually the channels started coming on but by 5 o'clock I was still not getting channel 721. Coincidentally, the error code for "channel not purchased" is 721. I grabbed the phone and called DirecTV to find out what was happening. First I talked to a woman in the Philippines who had me reset my set top box. When that didn't make a difference, she transferred me to a guy in Montana who thought that the problem was somehow related to the September 19th rollout of more HD channels. The engineers were working on it, he said. People on the West Coast will get the new channels first. I was told to be patient as it may take several days (or longer) for them to work their way Eastward.

This was the perfect week for me to work out the bugs with my Sunday Ticket subscription. The Redskins don't play until tomorrow night. Instead of sticking with one game, I was in the mood to watch them all. They have an easy way to do just that on the ADD Channel or as they call it, the Red Zone Channel. Somebody at Sunday Ticket headquarters keeps an eye on which teams are nearing the goal line and flips from game to game for you. You end up seeing most of the scoring plays live. The rest are shown on replay very shortly thereafter. If nobody seems about to score, they show you whichever game is most interesting. There are no commercials. During today's action, there was no halftime break either. By the time the last game ended its first half, other games had already started their second half.

On Sundays that I can't be at home to watch, I can still see most games over the Internet by using the DirecTV Supercast. The games broadcast in my home market (on WVLT and WTNZ) are blacked out on the web, just like they are on the satellite. The flaw in that plan would occur if the game I want to see is on broadcast television in Knoxville while I'm traveling in an area that gets a different game. For example, I wouldn't be able to see a Redskins game on the computer if it's available on WTNZ. If I happened to be in Atlanta and if the Falcons happened to be on at the same time, I would be out of luck. Maybe there's a way to contact DirecTV if I need to travel on a Sunday and all the other chips have fallen into place. Here's a screen grab of what it looked like toward the end of today's Bengals at Browns game, except that I saw the actual game in the empty black box.

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Saturday, September 15, 2007

because you can can can

The good-spirited taunting went both ways at the annual meeting of two arch rival high school football teams last night. The fans from Webb School of Knoxville shouted "Where is Harry?" to which the Knoxville Catholic High School fans responded "He's on SportsCenter!" Of course, that's only wishful thinking at this point. As far as I know, KCHS alum Harrison Smith has yet to get any playing time for Notre Dame. Webb countered with "0 and 2," a reference to Notre Dame's dismal season record. If they keep losing, maybe Charlie Weis will give Smith a chance to show why he earned the Mr. Football award last year.

Because Webb hadn't beaten Catholic since 2001, the enthusiastic Irish fans reacted to the "0 and 2" chant by shouting "0 and 5!" Better make that "0 and 6." Catholic defeated Webb 28 to 7 last night. I was there for a presentation at halftime. Both schools collected food and money for the Second Harvest Food Bank. In that competition, Webb outscored Catholic 143.7 to 75.5 pounds of food per student.

Missy at The House of Flying Monkeys thought that the "CBFC was pouring haterade" on her. Can anyone tell me what those initials mean? From where I sat, both student sections seemed plenty loud, until the score got lopsided in the second half and the Webb fans got less noisy. The stands were packed. Some Webb parents were kind enough to let me sit in their section. The guy sitting next to me was the owner of Gridiron Burgers, which I promised to try soon, especially since it's a smoke-free restaurant. I may disagree with Missy about the "haterade" but I'll be the first to admit she is right about the talented Webb cheerleaders.

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Friday, September 14, 2007

sanjaya sandwich

The "American Idol" tour passed through Washington, DC this past week. My ten-year-old niece and her friends went to the show again this year. The word from my sister is that ticket sales were weak compared to the upcoming "Hannah Montana" concert and to previous Idol tours. Which means more people paid to see the cast that included Scott Savol. All this is really just an excuse to post a photo I took two years ago during a press junket. Please enjoy this picture as much as Scott is enjoying his lunch:

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Thursday, September 13, 2007

trend setter

An article in this morning's USA Today describes something I did yesterday. My TiVo Central page had a new menu item: "Download NBC Pilots for FREE!" The shows are available through Amazon Unbox and would be sent directly to my TiVo via the Internet. I used the remote control to click through the various steps of entering my log-in information. Even though I was only interested in the free downloads, I had to go to the computer and link a credit card number to the Unbox account. That part was easy. Amazon had remembered the credit card number I used the last time I bought something from them. I could have gone back to the television to choose my downloads. Since I was still online, I just did it from the laptop before taking my nap.

When I woke up, the pilot episodes of "Bionic Woman" and "Journeyman" were waiting for me. I didn't get to them right away because I had some other stuff I wanted to watch with my family last night. Today I had time to watch "Journeyman" while I was reading my email. "Bionic Woman" can wait until tomorrow when I can watch without distractions.

"Journeyman" wasn't bad. I don't know that I'll give it a Season Pass, but I might leave it on if I'm watching "Heroes" in real time. In the pilot, Dan Vasser has to figure out that he travels back in time but has no control over his quantum leaps. His family, friends and co-workers assume he's on drugs when he goes missing for days at a time. He'll be lucky if he can keep his wife from throwing him out and his boss from firing him. It was fun to see the 1987 technology in contrast with today's. In one scene, Dan flashes back while wearing his goofy looking Bluetooth earpiece. He looks like a weirdo to a guy talking on one of those brick-sized cell phones.

Something else turned up on my TiVo Central menu today, a preview of "The Big Bang Theory." I didn't have to do anything, it was just there. I was curious to see how much of the episode they pushed to my machine. It appears to be the whole thing. They completely redid the opening scene in the genius sperm bank. In the new version Sheldon and Leonard leave without making a donation. In the earlier preview I had seen, they have second thoughts and try to get their donation back from the nurse. They changed at least one other scene too, about halfway through when the lead characters are driving. The new dialogue is a bit better.

Last night my family and I started watching DVDs of the new Fox shows that our local affiliate was kind enough to send me. I'll write about them in the days ahead. So far, my high expectations for one new show have been exceeded but I was disappointed by a returning favorite. Here's a hint: I might be able to alleviate some Monday congestion.

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Wednesday, September 12, 2007

line and sinker

The guy at DirecTV said that my call was approximately the tenth he had received today asking about the same problem. My HD channels (72 through 79) were not working. The on screen message said "channel not purchased," which I knew to be incorrect. How did I know? I watch a little bit of "Arrested Development" or "Nothing But Trailers" on HDNet almost every day. Plus we pay the bill every month. The problem was easily resolved as the guy on the phone pushed a few buttons from his cubicle in Oklahoma. He speculated that it may have had something to do with some new settings because of all the new HD channels about to make their satellite debut. My new pal told me that most of them will turn up on the same channel numbers where they are now.

Before hanging up, I mentioned that I still did not have an HD DVR. I wanted to get one last December, but they were on back order. Ever since then, they have told me the only way to get the DVR would be to pay an additional $300 for it. I had refused because I know somebody who got a DirecTV HD DVR box for no extra charge when he signed up for the service. That's when the guy on the phone set the hook. They had a special offer. I could get one of the HD DVRs for no charge if I signed up for NFL Sunday Ticket. That's like telling me that the ice cream is free when you buy a piece of cake. I love ice cream and cake. I asked him to hang on while I used the cell phone to call my wife for a brief discussion about finances. Meanwhile, the DirecTV guy put me on hold while he checked with his supervisor to make sure the deal was still available. I laughed and said that I was also checking with my supervisor. Both our bosses said yes. They're supposed to deliver the DVR on September 24, just in time to solve the problem of the four Monday shows I want to watch at the same time.

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Tuesday, September 11, 2007

leader of men

The camera phone photo below made the email rounds in our family earlier this year. My mother sent it to me. She had gotten it from her sister, who in turn had gotten it from a neighbor. The neighbor's son saw the inspirational quote on the wall of a fire training academy in Maryland. The name under the quote is that of FDNY Captain Terry Hatton, a hero who died six years ago today. My mother's sister is Terry Hatton's mother.

My cousin was known for saying "It's either outstanding or it's unacceptable." Former FDNY Commissioner Thomas Von Essen used the quote in his remarks in 2005 when a portion of West 43rd Street was renamed Captain Terence S. Hatton Way. If you've been reading this blog for a while, you might recall that I wrote about Terry last year on this date.

There is something else this time of year that helps me remember Terry. During the years that I worked at KROQ, we would travel to New York every September for the MTV Video Music Awards. Terry would find time in his schedule to meet me at a restaurant near my hotel. I wanted to hear about his latest heroics but he would steer the conversation away from himself. Of course, his actions spoke louder than any words.

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Monday, September 10, 2007

in the most sincere pumpkin patch

Fair season is underway. There was a story on "Live at Five" today about a guy bringing his giant pumpkin to the Tennessee State Fair in Nashville. Coincidentally, I caught part of a show on PBS about giant pumpkins today. The show was called "Lords of the Gourd: The Pursuit of Excellence." It was amazing to see a group of people so deeply involved in a world I had never thought about except maybe for the year that I saw some giant pumpkins on display at Disneyland around Halloween. The growers deeply mourned when one of their prizes pumpkins "went down," sometimes due to mice or woodchucks. The pumpkins that survived were cut from the vine and brought to the Cooperstown PumpkinFest.

Kevin & Bean and Ralph were similarly fascinated by a world they previously knew nothing about when they interviewed the makers of a new documentary called "The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters." I heard the interview on their August 17th podcast. I don't know if the movie about the world's greatest Donkey Kong players will make it to a local theater. If not, I'll keep an eye out for it on DVD or HBO or IFC, etc. The KROQ crew compared this true life documentary to the great mockumentaries by Christopher Guest, like "Best in Show." The same can be said for the giant pumpkin show.

To bring it back around to state fairs, I recently saw a news story about the World's Largest Self-Propelled Whole Hog Rotisserie at the Alaska State Fair. Mmm... BBQ...

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Sunday, September 09, 2007

look, up in the sky...

Planes towing advertising banners catch my eye. I even get a little frustrated when I can't make out the message due to the distance or the angle. On Friday night a banner plane flew over the high school football game we were attending. I joked to my wife that Pete Michaels might be trying to make a few extra bucks. The banner read "smile --" I clicked over there when I got home. The site belongs to Dave Senn, an enterprising photographer who is selling aerial pictures of several high school fields and of Neyland Stadium.

The high school game had a couple of penalties that were unclear to us in the stands and a couple of big plays worth seeing again. Fortunately for me, WMAK recorded the game and broadcast it last night in HD. The announcers were in a tough spot. From their descriptions and accounts of the game, I thought that they probably couldn't see the field any better than I did from my seat in the stands. They said things like "the ball popped out, no wait it didn't... it's a touchdown." Since I had the benefit of hindsight, it was amusing to me when they praised the team that was destined to lose and when they praised the refs who were destined to make a questionable call later in the game. They gave the cameraman a hard time when he wasn't fast enough to cover one big play. Considering that there's only the one camera and no replay, I thought the cameraman did a pretty good job. After one confusing turnover, the announcers suggested that people at home hit rewind on their TiVo. Perhaps the weirdest thing was at halftime when they left the camera pointed at the band while the microphone only picked up the sound in the press box.

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Saturday, September 08, 2007

don't fear the

"The Loop" was one of those shows that never found an audience, which is too bad because it was very funny. Maybe it had the wrong time slot. Maybe it was on the wrong network. It starred Bret Harrison as Sam, the youngest executive at an airline. I was amused to see that actor playing another character named Sam in a new series on The CW.

The local CW station let me watch some DVDs of their new shows. "Gossip Girl" and "Life Is Wild" are not for me. But "Aliens in America" and "Reaper" are both terrific.

"Reaper" is about Sam Oliver (Harrison), a slacker who finds out on his 21st birthday that his parents sold his soul to the devil. As dark as the premise sounds, there's still plenty of action and comedy. The pilot that I watched had Nikki Reed in the part of Andi, Sam's potential love interest. She was great and very believable in the role yet they replaced her with Missy Peregrym. The video previews on the Internet show that all of Andi's scenes have been reshot with the new actress. Missy's good looks make her character just a little less plausible as the girl with low standards who works with Sam and his funny pal Sock.

I noticed that they recast the father on "Aliens in America" too. Based on the online preview, I once again wish they had kept the original actor.

Entertainment Weekly, USA Today and TV Guide all pick "Reaper" as one of the best new shows of the season. TV Guide put it at number 8 on their "Hot List." USA Today's Robert Bianco ranked it second in his top ten. Unfortunately I have to question Bianco's taste because he also put the not so good CBS show "Big Bang Theory" on his list.

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Friday, September 07, 2007

bring your knees in tight

Knoxville now has its own Angelyne or perhaps I should say its own "Mangelyne." For the uninitiated, Angelyne is a self-promoting wannabe starlet known in Hollywood. She drives around in her pink Corvette and shows up at various red carpet events. She's had a few small roles in movies you've heard of but mostly she is known for putting her own image on huge billboards along Sunset Boulevard. If you read, you've seen her on there once or twice.

The other day I saw a motorcyclist on Middlebrook Pike. She wore a helmet with a bright pink Mohawk on top. I knew I had seen that helmet somewhere before. It was pictured in Sunday's News Sentinel along with its owner, Gishelle Diva Gish. Gishelle has been making the media rounds to promote her September 11 gig at The Comedy Zone. She is in the process of transforming from male to female. Gishelle was formerly known as Brother Clay Gish, a radio program director here in Knoxville and elsewhere. Most notably Clay worked at KRBE in Houston. While at WOKI, he hired my friend Brian Egan to do nights.

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Thursday, September 06, 2007


On the old "Max Headroom" series, TV executives got instant ratings and made on-the-spot programming decisions based on them. I was reminded of that futuristic '80s show by some modern technology.

DirecTV has a relatively new feature that I only started playing with today. "What's Hot!" is a list of which shows are most popular with DirecTV subscribers at that exact moment. Leave it on long enough and you'll see shows move up or down in the listings. To get to the "What's Hot!" page, I tuned to the News Mix channel and pushed the red button on my remote. Here's a camera phone photo of the biggest shows during the 9:00 p.m. Eastern hour tonight.

It's no surprise that the NFL season opener tops the list. A rerun of "C.S.I." was beating a rerun of "Grey's Anatomy." The MTSU game showed up in the top 5 too. I imagine that TV executives would have a hard time turning off the "What's Hot!" list.

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Wednesday, September 05, 2007

free tickets for bloggers

Some area businesses are wisely reaching out to the local blogosphere. A public relations firm sent me an invitation to a blogger night at a newly renamed restaurant on Kingston Pike. I missed the event last night because I was on stage as I am every Tuesday. Les Jones was among the bloggers who were able to attend.

I have already marked my calendar for blogger night at the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra. Communications Director Stephanie Burdette asked me to help spread the news that the first 50 bloggers willing to blog about the show can get a pair of free tickets to the opening night concert on Thursday September 27 at the incredible Tennessee Theatre. We are also invited to a post-concert reception with Music Director Lucas Richman, guest pianist Jeffrey Biegel and several KSO musicians. The program that night consists of music from American composers. I will especially enjoy Copland's "Appalachian Spring" and Gershwin's "An American in Paris."

Okay bloggers, here's how to get your culture fix. Be one of the first 50 to email Stephanie at The deadline is 2:00 p.m. on September 27. Act fast because I think that there are more than enough East Tennessee bloggers to scoop up all the available free tickets before the deadline. If you are willing to "pay it forward," post something on your own blog to help spread the word to the bloggers among your own readership. To be really nice, include a link back to this post.

Now that it's the hot new trend, we need to have a bloggers' night at an upcoming Einstein Simplified show. Any interest out there?

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Tuesday, September 04, 2007

call Dr. Nick for a refill

After seeing a movie at the Regal Riviera the other day, we took a walk over to the Mast General Store. In hindsight, we probably could have done it the other way around and picked up a piece of classic candy to eat during the film. They had an unusual set of Pez dispensers on display featuring the King of Rock 'N Roll. It made me proud papa when my son was the first among us to deliver the descriptive pun: Elvis Pez-ley.

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Monday, September 03, 2007

first b.r.a.

So what if it's a new twist on the old chain letter? So what if it's just another type of meme? I won an Blogger Reflection Award and I'm happy about it. D.O.M Dan has chosen to award my efforts this Labor Day weekend. In 25 months of blogging, I have now received exactly one award and one meme. Dan gave a posthumous award to Bean's Blog, which I also miss a great deal. I accept this award and thank Dan for his gracious remarks:
My final award goes to Frank Murphy. I discovered Frank’s blog while reading Bean’s Blog. Frank posts everyday, and I think that alone is deserving of an award. Frank is a man of faith whose posts are many times about his family, sometimes about his town of Knoxville, sometimes about his life experiences and travels, and although I don’t often leave comments, I read it regularly.
Rules of participating:
1. Copy these rules.
2. Reflect on five bloggers and write a least a paragraph about each one.
3. Make sure you link to this post so others can read it and the rules.
4. Leave your chosen bloggers a comment to let them know they've been given the award.
5. Put the award icon on your site
East Tennessee is a hotspot for blogging. Four of my five award recipients are from the Volunteer state. First, I choose to award Shots Across the Bow. Rich Hailey gave me the nudge I needed to start blogging in the first place. His political and social commentary rings true with me almost every time. He recently wrote that the way to get teenagers to stop wearing their pants ridiculously low would be for their parents to start wearing them that way.

About two months before I started my blog, I went to a party at Rich Hailey's. That's where I met Les Jones and his wife. I started reading his blog and found a lot of things I was interested in and only a few that I wasn't. I choose to award Les.

Frank Strovel somehow found my blog and posts an occasional comment. I began reading his regularly and I have linked to it several times. Blogging is not a competition, yet I sometimes feel like I've been scooped by Frank's fine efforts. Especially when I first learn of "Whose Line Is It Anyway?" news on his site. Left of the Dial receives my next award.

Byron Chesney has multiple sites. His Knoxville Trivia Blog is a regular read for me. He had a great post recently about the lawn sprinklers running at a local utility office during the drought. Obviously I especially enjoy his posts about the local TV news. For that, he gets an award.

I seriously thought about reserving my final award for a blog that I haven't discovered yet. Perhaps you readers would suggest some new ones for me to try. But that would be a cop out. Ken Levine's blog has become hugely popular and doesn't need any help from me. Similarly, I have disqualified professional blogs by very talented newspaper writers. Instead I'll give my fifth award to Perry Simon. He and I will never root for the same sports teams but I can still appreciate his fandom for teams I really dislike. Add to that his vast knowledge of radio and I'm hooked.

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Sunday, September 02, 2007

lifelong honor?

The news that the historic KTLA studios are for sale surprised me slightly. Management expects that the station will lease back the space from the new owner. If that doesn't work out, they'll be happy to move into new facilities like several of their competitors have recently done. If the lot gets turned into condos, "Judge Judy" and "Hannah Montana" would need to find new homes too.

Many of the local reporters I saw on KABC, KCBS and KNBC during the '90s have now advanced to network shows. KTLA on the other hand, always had people who seemed more entrenched. For example, Stan Chambers has worked there practically since the station signed on 60 years ago.

In 2001, my friends Pam Baker and Don Barrett let me tag along with them to a ceremony at KTLA honoring Larry McCormick. The soundstage where they did the 10 o'clock news was named in his honor. Larry died three years later. The newsroom had already been named for Hal Fishman. Hal died earlier this summer, about a week after a gala event in his honor. What happens to the Larry McCormick Stage and the Hal Fishman Newsroom if KTLA vacates the premises?

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Saturday, September 01, 2007

apologies, we ran out of time

The Regal Riviera Stadium 8 is open for business. The News Sentinel has lavished the place with coverage. Some of my friends in Los Angeles find it hard to believe that the country's largest theater chain is headquartered right here in Knoxville.

For the opening of the new theater, Regal is running a radio commercial voiced by the legendary Don LaFontaine. One of my personal career highlights was directing LaFontaine and several other celebrities in a radio production of "A Christmas Carol" at the Museum of Television & Radio.

I have already seen two Matt Damon movies at the state-of-the-art Riviera. In fact I've been there three days in a row. On Thursday we went to a one dollar charity showing of "Oceans 13." Yesterday evening I did a remote broadcast from outside the theater. Today we saw "The Bourne Ultimatum," a movie we've wanted to see ever since the hysterical preview was on TV.

As we left the theater on Thursday, I saw County Commissioner Mike Hammond leaning against a company vehicle from his day job. I walked over to say hello. He complimented the photo of me that he's seen on the wall at LA Weight Loss.

For the first two weeks, everyone who buys a ticket at the Riviera gets a free popcorn and a free soda. I appreciate the deal but if anyone from Regal is reading this, how about some Sprite Zero or at least some Caffeine-Free Diet Coke?

On Monday, "Live at Five" originated from the Riviera during a VIP reception. It would have been nice to be invited but I know that I may have ruined my chances to get on the guest list two years ago with my red carpet question to David Keith.

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