Wednesday, October 31, 2007

this is Halloween

The cooler weather, not Halloween inspired me to put on a plaid flannel shirt this morning. Later when I looked in the mirror, I realized I was dressed as Dr. Bill Bass.

The best Halloween costume I ever had was the Batman outfit I wore when I was in first grade. My mother had to special order it from a catalog because I didn't want the full face plastic mask that was sold in stores back then. The costume she found had a cloth cowl that wrapped around my head and a "Lone Ranger" style mask to cover my eyes. I started trick-or-treating and had only gotten as far as the third or fourth house when I was forever traumatized by a neighbor kid who pulled off my mask, breaking the elastic string in the process. Darn you, Kurt Teckmyer!

A reader named Lisa sent me a link to an online 1960s Batman quiz. If you can deal with the pop-up ads, the quiz is fun and challenging enough to hold the interest of a true fan like me. On Tuesday nights I've been having an ongoing conversation with Dave Fennell's brother Darrin about the Batmobile. His parents were friends with George Barris. He remembers that the car was covered in black velvet when he saw it as a child. The Batmobile I saw in the '90s was smooth and shiny. It turns out that the Batmobiles on the car show circuit in the '70s were covered in velvet to hide cracks and fingerprints.

When I was in grammar school, we always had the day after Halloween off from school. November 1st is the Solemnity of All Saints, a Catholic holy day of obligation. I'm looking forward to hearing the "Litany of the Saints" at Mass tomorrow night. My wife says that our friend Mary K. will sing it this year. Hey Mary K., the invitation still stands.

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Tuesday, October 30, 2007

if ever he would leave us

The great Robert Goulet has died of pulmonary fibrosis. He was always one of my favorite radio guests. He never broke character but still seemed to understand the inherent campiness of his appearance on the morning shows I produced back then. At WAVA, Don & Mike would pre-promote the next appearance of "Goulet on the Zoo" more than most other guest bookings. Each year the largest and best Christmas card I received was postmarked in Las Vegas and bore a return address that said "ROGO & ROVE." The card always had a new photo of Robert and his wife Vera on the front.

During my time at KLOS, we would put on old-fashioned radio plays. At first it was just "A Christmas Carol." Later we expanded it to "The War of the Worlds" one Halloween and two episodes of "The Witch's Tale" the next year. Our most ambitious effort was probably the production of "The Wizard of Oz" we did one Easter. Dwight Yoakam was the first celebrity to sign up. He knew right away that he wanted to play the Cowardly Lion. Mark & Brian wanted to play the Tin Woodman and the Scarecrow but neither wanted to sing, especially since they would be compared to Dwight. I had the idea to get them a stunt double, somebody who was a consummate professional yet would get the joke. We didn't tell the audience about it in advance. The listeners were expecting to hear Brian sing "If I Only Had a Brain" and Mark sing "If I Only Had a Heart" but instead they heard the robust voice of Robert Goulet both times. You can see Mr. Goulet in the center of the cast photo below.

The Wizard of Oz radio play - April 17, 1998 - (left to right): Mary Oppermann, Tom Mazur, Lisa Boisse, Jess Harnell, Alan Young, Sandra Gould, Robert Goulet, Dwight Yoakam, Peter Scolari, Brian Phelps, Sheena Easton, Mark Thompson, Frank Murphy

I still hear Robert Goulet's voice every night singing the theme song to "Jimmy Kimmel Live." My deepest sympathy goes to Vera and the rest of his family.

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Monday, October 29, 2007

hey dummy!

A scene from last Thursday's "30 Rock" has been replayed over and over on our DVR. My wife and I had to hit pause and watch the therapy scene again before we even finished the episode. We showed the scene to our son when he got home. He liked it too, once we had explained the "Sanford and Son" references. Over the weekend, my wife showed the scene to her brother a couple of times too. Thanks to a link I saw posted on Frank Strovel's blog, my wife can now share the video clip with all her friends.

To jump off on a quick tangent, I'm loving the HD DVR. Especially now that we're getting a ton of HD channels. An article in today's Variety will bring you up to speed.

Another Thursday night comedy was celebrated in Scranton over the weekend. Whitney Matheson's Pop Candy blog has photos and a full recap of "The Office" convention.

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Sunday, October 28, 2007

tricks and treat

It was still dark when we drove to church this morning. The odd feeling continued when the bells at All Saints Church didn't chime at the start of the 8:15 Mass. They did ring at 9:15 however. The computer that controls them must have thought that Daylight Saving Time ended last night. In previous years, the last weekend in October is when we experienced "The 25th Hour." This year the time change doesn't come until after Halloween, which should mean more daylight for the trick-or-treaters. While they were changing things, why couldn't they have moved the switch to an early Saturday morning?

Was I hallucinating or did I really see a few minutes of "Mannheim Steamroller's Halloween on Ice" yesterday on NBC? It looked like Nancy Kerrigan skating with Frankenstein's monster and several others. Like a good ghost story, this one turned out to be true.

Before I turned off the TV, I saw the answer to a Mannheim Steamroller trivia question. Did you know that Chip Davis co-created the character of C.W. McCall, best known for the song "Convoy"?

Halloween must be the first of the holidays that Weigel's is celebrating with the annual arrival of their Holiday Egg Nog. This year, the sweet treat showed up in the dairy case of my neighborhood Weigel's on Friday, October 26. It wouldn't bother me one bit if they carried it year round, like at the Wawa store I visited near Richmond.

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Saturday, October 27, 2007


The next time he comes to your town, go see comedian Pat Godwin. My wife and I just got home from The Comedy Zone where Pat has been headlining all week. He uses his guitar throughout the entire show, parodying famous rock stars, singing some original music and making up songs about audience members. His impression of Bono singing "Bingo" is especially funny.

Paul Simmons and I had a chance to talk with Pat before the show. I told him that I remembered meeting him seven and a half years ago at the inception of the Comedy World Radio Network. Pat was part of the ensemble on Craig Shoemaker's show. We agreed that Comedy World was several years ahead of the curve with its live audio and video streaming on the Internet. We started talking about some of the other staff members and Pat asked if I knew whatever happened to a guy who worked on one of the other shows but had filled in as producer on Shoemaker's show for a couple of weeks. Pat recalled that this guy had radio experience, unlike most of the other employees at the network. I told Pat that the guy he was thinking of was me. He couldn't believe it. He looked right at me and said, "you must have lost 50 pounds!" I explained that not only had I lost the weight but that I also had Lasik surgery and a makeover.

Now all I have to do is look to see if we still have any of the hand repair lotion that my wife used to be able to find at Bath & Body Works. The skin on my hands is cracked from applauding so hard at Pat Godwin's show.

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Friday, October 26, 2007

bon voyage

Abby Ham is leaving Knoxville. The announcement was made early this morning on TV. Terry Morrow has more details. Abby received a nice promotion from Gannett and will relocate to Cleveland to fill an opening at WKYC. An anonymous insider tipped us off to that possibility when they posted the rumor in a blog comment almost a month ago.

I wish Abby all the best. Of course I'll miss her. It doesn't surprise me that she is moving on to a larger market. I almost predicted as much when I first wrote about her a year and a half ago. When she got promoted to the morning shift at WBIR, it meant that I wouldn't be able to watch unless I recorded her 5:00 to 7:00 a.m newscast on my TiVo. That was too much to ask, even of me. I would look for Abby on the noon news, but never seemed to catch her. Instead I started watching the noon news on WVLT (or its 12:30 replay on WVLT-2 so that I don't miss Tearsa Smith on WATE) when they made Stacy McCloud the permanent co-anchor. Stacy curried even more favor with me when she posted a comment on Wednesday's blog entry.

Good luck in Cleveland, Abby! Send us a photo of yourself with the World's Largest Rubber Stamp.

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Thursday, October 25, 2007

ghostly things are gonna happen

Halloween is getting close. I can tell by an increase in the number of search engine hits I've been getting for the blog entry I wrote a year ago (exactly) about the novelty song "Halloween Spooks." Check out this mash-up video of the song with "Dark Shadows" footage.

The trick-or-treaters who come to our house this year will be gifted with new Spooky Friends from the makers of Marshmallow Peeps. My wife bought a bag of them and I must admit that I have already tried one and liked it. The individually wrapped piece of sugar-coated marshmallow goodness was perfect for me. The wrapper was somewhat difficult to open, which helped me eat only one. The problem I have with the traditional Peeps package is that once I open it, I want to eat all twelve or fifteen Peeps within.

The bag of Spooky Friends says that it contains "about 54 individually wrapped pieces." At the supermarket today I saw a package with ghosts, mummies and pumpkins. Until I looked it up, I thought the mummies were space aliens. The bag my wife bought has skulls, bats and spiders. The individual wrapping caused the company to outsource the manufacturing to China. As long as they're not coated in lead paint, I'm fine with it.

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Wednesday, October 24, 2007

like a baby

As a longtime believer in 90 minute sleep cycles, I was happy to hear them receive a celebrity endorsement this morning. While filling in for Regis Philbin in New York, Jimmy Kimmel said that he measured his sleep cycle and now knows to take one hour, forty-one minute naps. You can hear Jimmy and Kelly Ripa discussing naps in this audio clip or you can watch the entire "Host Chat" segment online. My sleep cycles also run a little longer than the 90 minute average although I haven't measured them as precisely as Jimmy. I usually divide my sleep into two shifts every weekday. has some information on polyphasic sleep, including a link to a great article called "The Power of the Sleep Cycle" by Glen Rhodes. The research quoted in the article backs up what I had learned from the late David Haines at WAVA in the '80s. Naps are a way of life for most animals and for human infants. What's good for them is good for me too. Sleep cycles have been a favorite topic of conversation for me ever since. I'm sure I must have talked about them with Jimmy when we worked together at KROQ in the '90s. According to Glen Rhodes, we're in good company:
It is said that many of the most productive people in history have understood and practiced this. Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson, and Buckminster Fuller used this *exact* technique. Other great minds likewise used naps to their advantage including Nikola Tesla, Thomas Edison, Napoleon, and Winston Churchill.

As far as longevity, Fuller lived to 87. Da Vinci into his late 60's. --Both lived over DOUBLE the average life expectancy of the men of their time.

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Tuesday, October 23, 2007

dental floss included

The produce section at my local Kroger has a decent assortment of fruits and vegetables. To distinguish the organically grown from the regular old fruits, they have started wrapping mini crime scene tape around the more healthful choices. It's funny to me that the eco-friendly fruits are putting more plastic in the landfill than the cheaper stuff that I buy.

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Monday, October 22, 2007

pipa trip

Many Los Angeles viewers missed "Live with Regis & Kelly" this morning due to KABC's coverage of the fires in Malibu and elsewhere in Southern California. My excuse is that I forgot to set the TiVo for it, despite all the hype over Jimmy Kimmel's bicoastal hosting. Fortunately, we can watch the "Host Chat" segment online. At the beginning of today's show, Kelly displayed a newspaper clipping from The New York Times. It was a feature article about Jimmy and the relatives who work on his late night show. It's nice to see "Jimmy Kimmel Live" getting some recognition in the "newspaper of record." Most guys are jealous that he gets to spend so much time with Kelly Ripa this week. She flew to L.A. to be on his show tonight. Then they'll take a red-eye back to New York so they can do the morning show tomorrow. I remembered to set up the TiVo for that. In other Kimmel news, Pop Candy had a link to his show's search for the funniest college student in America.

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Sunday, October 21, 2007

many way's to enjoy the "Internet"

The results of the East Tennessee's Best Readers Poll were tucked into the Preview section of Friday's News Sentinel. While flipping through the rest of the tabloid, I saw the Web Watch column, which I always enjoy. It reminded me that there was a recent column with links I had wanted to explore, even though I could recall none of the details. Fortunately the News Sentinel is making their website easier and easier to use. It only took a couple of clicks to find a list of Web Watch columns. The one I wanted was from October 5.

The sites highlighted that day were The List Universe and The "Blog" of "Unnecessary" Quotation Marks. Both have lots of depth that will keep you clicking for as much time as you can spare. The List Universe has everything from tips for being frugal to memories of '80s TV shows.

The "Blog" of "Unnecessary" Quotation Marks is filled with photos sent in by readers. Seeing the misused quotation marks in real life is annoying. Seeing them on the blog is hysterical. The site also had a link to a blog called Apostrophe Abuse. I can hardly decide which one I like better.


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Saturday, October 20, 2007

don't let the Quaffle in

Someone placed flyers on all the windshields in the parking lot during last night's high school football game. The papers advertised a website that sells clothing from hundreds, if not thousands of high schools, middle schools and grammar schools all over the country. has a database of school colors and mascot names. If your school is not listed, the site lets you log in to add it. Once you find your school, you can order shirts, pants, hats, and accessories emblazoned with the school name and the sport or activity that you prefer. I had fun looking for the schools I attended and the schools my kids attended. Then I dropped in various interests like school newspaper (for me) and chemistry (for my son) to create pictures of items that never existed until now. The one that amused me most was the St. Finbar Quidditch Team sweatshirt.

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Friday, October 19, 2007

thanks for your vote

The official results of the East Tennessee's Best Readers Poll were in this morning's Knoxville News Sentinel. Because I knew my name would be in the paper as first runner-up in the voting for best local blogger, I thought it might be nice to pick up a few extra copies for family members. I flipped to the Favorite Pastimes section and looked for my category. The fact that I had gotten more votes than world famous super blogger (and second runner-up) Glenn Reynolds of was overshadowed by the picture and description of the winner. The page was dominated by a large photo of Justis Richert, also known as Knoxville-based adult performer Barbie Cummings. Her now-defunct blog was voted number one. I won't be sending a tear sheet to Mom or Grandma.

I also won't be going to the awards luncheon to pick up my certificate. I wanted to go, like I did five years ago. I even emailed Jack Lail asking if he knew the date of the ceremony. I got a reply from the paper's marketing department. They offered to send my award to me. It turns out that the banquets have been discontinued due to poor attendance. Maybe they could have gotten more people to show up if they could guarantee that Justis/Barbie would be there.

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Thursday, October 18, 2007

auction ends Sunday

The same guy who is building his own Batmobile asked if I had an extra $44,000 laying around. I had met him last June in Morristown and was very interested to hear how he had stripped down a Lincoln Continental and was using it to hold a fiberglass Batmobile body. His finished product will look very similar to the real deal that I saw in 1993.

Since I will never build my own Batmobile, the guy from Morristown wanted to let me know that I could buy one on eBay for a mere $44,000. Unlike the original, this car has a back seat for the Batkids. The auction listing says that the car has been in many parades and that it is currently housed in Burbank. I wonder if I've ever seen it.

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Wednesday, October 17, 2007

with steam coming out of his ears

The news that Jimmy Kimmel will do double duty next week didn't surprise me. If anybody can do it, it's him. Jimmy is tireless when it comes to promoting his late night show, even if it means flying cross-country to fill in for Regis Philbin every morning next week and then returning to Hollywood each night to host his own program. I'm sure he would be more comfortable on a private plane but he could probably get some good material for the shows by flying commercial. Jimmy must have thought about a radio deejay named Tom Joyner who became famous as the "fly jock" when he did a morning show in Dallas and an afternoon show in Chicago, flying between the two cities daily.

When I flipped over to ESPN to check the score of the Giants game on Monday night, I heard the announcer promote that Jimmy would be there after a break. I had to stop and think for a moment since the game was in Atlanta, not New York. Sure enough, Jimmy was at the game. I wondered if he had gone to Atlanta just for the game or if he was busy promoting his show in a city that only recently began airing it. Jimmy cracked a few jokes about the announcers and I didn't think anything else of it until I read the ridiculous news that ESPN has banned Jimmy from "Monday Night Football." Is that any way to treat the guy who hosted the ESPY awards? He's as confused as anyone.

I really like the monologue on "Jimmy Kimmel Live." They make great use of video clips from the news and from that evening's prime time shows. Although the network won't let them do the show live anymore, they tape it around 8:00 p.m. PT (11:00 p.m. ET), which is about three hours later than Leno tapes and about six hours later than Letterman tapes.

I would hate it if ABC hired Jay Leno for a late night show that would bump Jimmy to a later time slot. There's talk of Leno going to Fox or ABC when his NBC contract expires. The mistake NBC made by hiring Leno over David Letterman is coming back to haunt them again as they try to plan for a smooth transition to "The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien." If Leno didn't want to leave, he could have told them before they announced the plan for him to step down. NBC is sticking with the plan. Last week they announced that they would renovate a stage at Universal Studios to be Conan's new theater as part of their plan to abandon my beloved Burbank.

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Tuesday, October 16, 2007

now showing in my head

There used to be a disproportionate amount of Food Network shows on my TiVo. I could watch almost anything they showed, especially "Unwrapped" and "Good Eats." Plus I would search for programs about BBQ competitions. Over time I found myself watching less Food Network as other shows grabbed my attention. Last night I once again felt the magnetic pull of food on TV when I tuned to a new channel on my satellite system: Food Network in High Definition. Wow. I could watch it all day. The schedules on the HD and SD channels are different. Fortunately for me, there are plenty of "Unwrapped" and "Good Eats" episodes in HD.

When I go to the supermarket I often can't resist taking pictures of food items I see. It's almost as if I had my own imaginary Food Network show. I had heard that cupcake specialty shops were a hot item in L.A. Our local stores are taking their cupcakes up a notch. I've seen some decorated to look like those dogs that resemble floor mops and some that are supposed to be cute space aliens. I was also intrigued by the birthday "cakes" comprised of many cupcakes that are all iced as one. In the photo below you can see a monster face next to a Care Bears rainbow.

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Monday, October 15, 2007

a little mad sometimes

This is going to sound like the setup for a meme, even though it's not. What was the first DVD you ever bought? Go ahead and post your answer in the comments. About nine years ago I chose one of the all-time classics, "Psycho," as my first disc. At the time I didn't have a DVD player but I had just gotten a DVD-ROM drive for our family computer. I loved the idea that technology had progressed to the point where I could keep a permanent copy of one of my favorite movies. It wasn't on a tape that could get erased or on film that could decay. This was a digital video disc with Hitchcock's masterpiece converted to bits and bytes, preserved forever in plastic.

Last week Perry Simon posted a link to an interesting blog about the battle between HD DVD and Blu-ray Discs. The author points out that consumers have resisted replacing their DVD collections and are mainly buying only new releases in the new formats. Like most people I am in no rush to buy a machine in either format. I already made that mistake years ago when I bought a Betamax VCR.

Cut to the present day. My son has to do a presentation on movie villains for his speech class. The other students in his group are covering Darth Vader and Hannibal Lecter. My son is reporting on Norman Bates. I told him a few things that I remembered about "Psycho" from the Intro to Film class I took when I was his age. My high school teacher, Mr. Naversen, took us through the famous shower scene frame by frame, being careful not to melt the film on the projector bulb.

We got my copy of the "Psycho" Collector's Edition DVD from its cool, dry place and placed it into the fancy Onkyo DVD changer that we got last year. The machine couldn't read the disc! Then we tried it in the Sony DVP-NS50P in our family room. Still nothing. As a last resort, we put the disc into a couple of laptop computers to no avail. What on earth could have happened to this nine-year-old disc that made it unreadable in all my machines? I tried cleaning it with a soft cloth but that didn't make any difference. Has the technology changed? Is my "Psycho" obsolete? Why won't it work and what can I do about it?

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Sunday, October 14, 2007

scientific faith

A friend thought of my reference to an essay about Creationism and Catholics after hearing a recent lecture at my alma mater. Bill Gavin, a religion teacher at Bishop Ireton High School, spoke to the Catholic Campus Ministry at George Mason University this past Thursday. The topic of his talk was "The Catholic Contribution to Western Civilization." His high school students deliver presentations on the societal contributions of famous Catholics almost every day of the semester.

I listened to the podcast of Gavin's speech and appreciated his remark that faith and reason are not on a collision course. He cites famous scientists like Francis Collins of the Human Genome Project, who thinks of God as the greatest scientist. The Christian world view encouraged scientific discovery. Jesuit priests who were also scientists wanted to understand the natural laws created by God. Gavin mentions a priest who pitched the big bang theory to Einstein.

Throughout history, the Catholic Church initiated many things that we now take for granted like universities and hospitals. I didn't know that the some of the first clocks were created by monks. Before finishing, Gavin segued to Catholic contributions to the arts, economics, politics, and literature. The list of famous Catholics is impressive. I wonder if he could work Batman's faith into his next lecture.

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Saturday, October 13, 2007


Burbank has been on my mind this week. I've been feeling bad for the Media City since I got a press release from NBC announcing their plans to move much of their operation a few miles from Burbank to Universal City. I moved to Burbank three months before Johnny Carson retired from "The Tonight Show." At the time I thought it would be funny to ask someone from a particular business across the street if Ed McMahon's departure would affect them. An article in today's Burbank Leader does that exact thing. The owner of A&O Studio Liquors says they may have to close down without all the TV executives who keep their register ringing. Here's the quote:
Businesses in the area gave mixed reviews.

"It's unfortunate to lose the consistent NBC workers," said Vince Oganesyan, a general manager at the Mobil across the street. "But our main business is not 'The Tonight Show,' so it won’t make a drastic difference."

Beatriz Martinez, owner of A&O Liquor, also across the street from NBC, was not as positive about her store's future.

"It will definitely affect us," she said. "We rely on 'The Tonight Show' for maybe 50% of our business. We might consider selling the store when they leave."

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Friday, October 12, 2007

cereal port

After the Einstein Simplified show on Tuesday night, my wife and I left the delightfully smoke-free Patrick Sullivan's and started to cross Jackson Avenue. Halfway across the street I remembered a couple of blog entries I had read about the new cereal bar in town. We turned left on the sidewalk and walked a few doors down to The Knoxville Pearl, which is named after a type of tea. The sugary cereals are all-you-can-eat. The more grown up cereals are sold by the cup. The toppings that are offered might make you think you're ordering ice cream instead of cereal. I remember seeing some crushed up candy bars and Oreo cookies. The nostalgic decor brings back memories of eating cereal and watching cartoons on a Saturday morning. Ironically, the Knoxville Pearl is not open on Saturday mornings. Well, unless you count the fact that they stay open until 3:00 a.m. on weekends.

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Thursday, October 11, 2007


The 512 megabyte miniSD card from my cell phone served as a conversation starter for my son and me the other day. I think our family's first computer had 512 kilobytes of RAM. As I held up the 512MB card, I told my son to picture 1000 desktop computers in our house, together totaling the same amount of RAM as I held on my fingertip. We were looking online at the price of a microSD card to go in the next generation of phone that I will get as part of the "new every two" upgrade. The micro chips look to be about half the size but with 8 times the capacity of the mini chip I got two years ago.

During his college career, my son will probably get to use computers with terabytes of memory. Naturally, he wanted to know what was bigger than a terabyte. We looked it up and found a list all the way from bit up to the most amusing of the names, brontobyte (unofficial).
1 Bit = Binary Digit
8 Bits = 1 Byte
1000 Bytes = 1 Kilobyte
1000 Kilobytes = 1 Megabyte
1000 Megabytes = 1 Gigabyte
1000 Gigabytes = 1 Terabyte
1000 Terabytes = 1 Petabyte
1000 Petabytes = 1 Exabyte
1000 Exabytes = 1 Zettabyte
1000 Zettabyte = 1 Yottabyte
1000 Yottabyte = 1 Brontobyte
Two days later I was skimming through the Knoxville Blog Network and saw something about bits and bytes that I might have overlooked if my son and I hadn't just been talking about it on Monday. An entry from Think Time had a link to a fascinating post by James S. Huggins that gives you an idea of how much memory it takes to hold various types of information.

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Wednesday, October 10, 2007

no purchase necessary

The reason my wife was okay with my purchase of the NFL Sunday Ticket was so that she too could watch her beloved Redskins. Their games have rarely been on TV in Knoxville these past few seasons. This coming Sunday, she'll be out of town during the Redskins at Packers game. She plans to bring a laptop so she can watch the game online, as I described a couple of weeks ago. Here's the catch: if WTNZ airs the game (and they will), DirecTV will black it out in Knoxville both online and over the satellite. But does the location of the laptop matter? Will the blackout be determined by the Knoxville zip code in our billing address or by the Atlanta IP address she's using at the time?

Last Sunday I clicked on somebody's blog through the Knoxville Blog Network and found a link to another blog which in turn had a link to a site with fantastic NFL coverage maps. It looks like most of the country will get the Redskins/Packers game, which means my wife can watch it on WAGA and won't have to worry about whether or not the DirecTV Supercast will work from Atlanta. Who knew that each team would have only one loss going into Week 6?

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Tuesday, October 09, 2007

pluggin' along

The funny and talented Larry Wachs sent me (and probably everyone else he knows) an email today announcing his new project "What's Your Story?" on, one of the Turner Networks websites. Some promos are online now. The first episode debuts on October 19th. Each week, Larry will comment on the news stories suggested by his viewers. He is a radio personality who used to be on the air in Atlanta, Los Angeles and several other cities.

Another recent email came from a well-meaning filmmaker, offering me the opportunity to book a Los Angeles radio interview to promote "The Junior Defenders." The movie's concept intrigues me:
A crazed fan who goes on a mission to kidnap the former cast of a 1970s kids superhero show in order to produce his own episode. He steals a Winnebago, brings the show's ex-child stars back to Hollywood, takes over a soundstage, and then forces them to act in a new episode of the show.
Watching the Junior Defenders trailer, I was reminded of the "Underdog" themesong and of the way "Batman" was canceled fairly quickly without a series finale. A Boston Globe article describes the ten year odyssey to this weekend's midnight screening at the Landmark Regent Theatre in Westwood Village. Ally Sheedy is the best known name in the movie, which was filmed in 1997 but was re-cut with some new material a couple of years ago. It comes out on DVD and Video-on-Demand on October 23.

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Monday, October 08, 2007

watch list

It is difficult for a near-completist like me to drop a television show, especially after watching every episode for two or three seasons. You may think it's overdue but I have just given up on two shows in two days. Yesterday I skipped "Desperate Housewives." Tonight I bailed on "Prison Break." Both shows' Season Passes have been deleted from my TiVo even though I had been with them since the beginning. My hard-drive housecleaning was inspired by a blog entry from Whitney Matheson on USA Today's Pop Candy site. She listed the shows she's watching and the shows she's not. The mini-cull was also partially because I forgot to manually record "How I Met Your Mother" on the antique downstairs TiVo a week ago. The CBS comedy now has "Prison Break's" place in my To Do List. I think I can still watch the missed episode online.

Except for football (should have been baseball too, thanks Mets) and news, I won't watch anything on the Fall schedule in real time. As such, I was interested in an article in the Nation's Newspaper last week about how DVRs have changed our watercooler talk or about TV. Below is a list of the series we can chat about. I put asterisks in front of the shows that have at least one episode waiting on my TiVo and my HD DVR (including tonight's episodes).

NFL Sunday Ticket

*Curb Your Enthusiasm

Dancing With the Stars
*How I Met Your Mother
*Aliens in America

Dancing With the Stars

Back to You
Pushing Daisies

My Name Is Earl
Survivor: China
30 Rock
The Office

Best Week Ever

Saturday Night Live

I plan to watch these shows when they come back:
The Amazing Race
American Idol

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Sunday, October 07, 2007

butcher brothers

Conventional wisdom says that the book is usually better than the movie. My son certainly feels that way about the Harry Potter series. I didn't read any of the J.K. Rowling's work until after I had seen the first three films. It surprises me that I enjoy the Potter movies more than my son does.

It only took a couple of episodes of the excellent Showtime series "Dexter" for me to want to read the books that inspired it. Over the summer, I started reading "Darkly Dreaming Dexter." Perhaps because I thought I knew how it ended, I would put the book down and not pick it up again for weeks. The real reason for my slow progress may be simply that the book is not as good as the TV series. The ending of the book seemed rushed and was fairly different from the series. I finally finished reading it the other day and started on "Dearly Devoted Dexter," thinking that I should try to get through the second book before the second season of the show ends. If Wikipedia is to be believed, the current season of the series is not based on the books at all. It might make more sense for me to hold off on reading until the show goes on hiatus again.

To promote the return of "Dexter," Showtime offers several cast pictures for bloggers to use. They also put red dye in some public fountains around the country. It reminded me of the time I saw blue toilet cleaner in a Washington DC fountain. The cleaning fluid would probably do a good job of removing the blood red dye in Philadelphia, Las Vegas and L.A.


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Saturday, October 06, 2007

fortnight full of fun

It's been a busy couple of weeks on the blog, capped off with the news of my major award. I hope you got a chance to hear my latest Body Farm interview, if you're into that kind of thing. Three local TV stations were on the receiving end of some criticism. One for a mistimed graphic, two for misidentifying football players. I got two doses of musical culture, one real and one artificial. The smoking ban made me happy but some fire damage left me puzzled.

The Mets disappointed me. All season long I expected to be watching baseball in October. The Phillies kept that from happening. It will make me feel a little better if the Phillies lose to the Rockies or whoever they're facing in the playoffs. For a while, I thought that the Mets' collapse was part of some sort of karmic curse reversal. Perhaps the Mets had been eliminated to clear a path for the Cubs to reach the World Series. I was wrong about that too.

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Friday, October 05, 2007

Friday night slights

First time visitors to a Knoxville Catholic High School football game are amazed by the number of players on Catholic's sideline. In addition to the varsity, the team suits up the junior varsity and freshman players for the Friday night games. As you look at the team roster that is printed on the backs of t-shirts throughout the crowd, you'll notice that some players share a uniform number. For example, senior Eric Lindsey and freshman Chase Fox both wear number 17. Lindsey gets a lot of playing time on offense and defense as quarterback and safety.

The local TV sportscasters must not be reading all the way down their roster cards. Tonight two stations showed Lindsey but called him Fox. I heard the error on WBIR and WVLT. WBIR made the same mistake two weeks ago too. On top of that, WBIR misidentified number 26 tonight. The name "Walden" was clearly visible on the player's jersey as they credited Taylor Kennedy with Ryan Walden's touchdown. If you were watching, you saw Walden score on a pass from Lindsey. If you were listening, you heard that Kennedy caught a pass from Fox. I don't know why WATE didn't even bother to cover tonight's game between Catholic and Anderson County. The Irish trailed at halftime but came back to win, 27 - 14.

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Thursday, October 04, 2007

how is this possible?

No matter how many times I replayed the voice mail message, it did not change. "Hey Frank Murphy, this is Sherry Long from the Knoxville News Sentinel. I wanted to let you know that you placed first runner-up in the East Tennessee's Best Readers Poll for the best local blogger." She went on to ask if I wanted to buy an ad in the October 19th special section announcing the winners. I called her back to explain that my blog doesn't generate any money, it's just a hobby. Maybe I should accept some ads. Any thoughts?

Obviously I am very happy about the news that I am now an award-winning blogger but I am also quite surprised. Make that shocked. First of all, thank you for voting for me. I really did not see this coming especially since there are so many great blogs in this area that get a lot more page views than I do. I'm chagrined that I didn't cast a vote for myself because I didn't think I had a chance of winning. In the past I have tried to drum up support for Einstein Simplified in the Metro Pulse poll, always to no avail.

It's been five years since I was invited to the East Tennessee's Best award luncheon. In 2002, I was fortunate enough to win a runner-up award in the morning radio duo category less than a year after moving to Knoxville. I may have gotten the wrong idea that winning was easy. I appreciate it more this time. Thanks again!

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Wednesday, October 03, 2007

popsical popera

Every time the television commercial for The Ten Tenors comes on, my wife jokes that ten is too many tenors. She says there should be a few baritones and at least one bass. A family friend (who is also a faithful reader of this blog) had one extra ticket for tonight's show, which is part of the Broadway in Knoxville theatre series at the Civic Auditorium. I was invited to tag along to hear the Australian singers who sometimes broke out their boy band moves.

As you would expect, the Tenors did several operatic pieces including the famous aria from "Pagliacci" and that song Paul Potts did on "Britain's Got Talent." They sang a couple of otherwise unknown songs from their CD, which was available for sale in the lobby.

As a fan of cross-genre cover songs, I especially liked the Bee Gees medley that came right before intermission. They also did an effective cover of Simon & Garfunkel's "The Boxer." The definite highlight of the night was "Bohemian Rhapsody," which they use in their TV commercial. You can download a free mp3 of it on their website. It was preceded by some other Queen song that I didn't know. One of the tenors announced that Queen was their all time favorite band.

The concert was very enjoyable but it's always a little more fun to make snarky comments, so let me get those out of my system. Their Australian folk song medley made me feel like I was back at Dollywood's Festival of Nations. Throughout the night, each tenor got a chance to stand front and center and sing a solo, except for the one who had the most, um, expressive facial expressions while singing. For his featured song, they made him stand in the back by the drum kit. It was a bit like that scene with Marla Hooch in "A League of Their Own." In addition to the drummer, there was a pianist and a bass player who alternated between a bass guitar and a bass violin. We were sure that we heard more music than those four instruments could provide. I suspect that either the grand piano was really a synthesizer or that there was a recorded backing track to fill out the sound.

The eldest of the Ten Tenors, David Kidd, was born in 1971. I had my picture made with him after the show amidst a throng of autograph seekers in the lobby.

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Tuesday, October 02, 2007


At this time last week, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that Patrick Sullivan's would go smoke free rather than limit their clientèle to older smokers. Things went smoothly tonight except for one small thing. After our performance, several smokers went outside to puff. They stood too close to the front door, creating a foul cloud that the rest of us had to walk through.

The historic collapse of the Mets left me with very little to say. A headline on the New York Times site summed it up perfectly: Ya Gotta Bereave. The Best Week Ever blog brought a smile to my face with their analysis of why the Mets fell apart. I especially like their idea of a Julio Franco curse.

I learned about 90 minute sleep cycles when I first started working an early morning shift. Phillies fan Perry Simon remembered hearing me preach about it and mentioned it on his blog this week. Since we're on the topic of sleep, I think I'll go get me some.

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Monday, October 01, 2007

now you know the rest of the story

On August 23rd, a big crowd at The Comedy Zone had to be evacuated due to a fire in the back building. Einstein Simplified did a show there this past Saturday. Before the show, we walked around back to do some warm-up exercises and I finally got to see the damage. How long does it usually take for the insurance money to arrive and repairs to get made? I went back today with my camera phone:

The most recent Metro Pulse had a paragraph about the fire. No, they're not a month late covering the news. The paragraph was included in the September 30th edition of the nationally syndicated column "News of the Weird." The story was also mentioned in the August 24th edition of "News of the Weird Daily."

Before "News of the Weird" was a newspaper column, it was a newsletter sent to a few "kindred spirits." Its creator, Chuck Shepherd was a professor at The George Washington University. He must have listened to the morning show on WAVA because I started getting a copy of "News of the Weird" in the mail. And by mail I mean the USPS. It was still a few years before email would take over the world.

My "before they were stars" moment with Chuck Shepherd reminds me of an encounter I had after moving to California. I liked to go to the CBS Studio Center store to do some Christmas shopping for the relatives back East. When I told the talkative sales clerk that I would be sending my purchases to the DC area, he told me that he was from suburban Maryland. He remembered me on subsequent visits and eventually offered to put me on the distribution list for his fairly new email newsletter. His name? Matt Drudge.

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