Wednesday, April 30, 2008

show some restraint

Thanks to an email reminder from my friend Bean, my family and I went to Baskin-Robbins after dinner tonight. It was their annual 31 Cent Scoop Night. While blogrolling this afternoon, I had also read a posting on Reality Me about the promotion. Just like last year there was a line out the door. A sign on that door warned customers of the ten scoop limit. Another sign advertised that they needed help. I was tempted to hop behind the counter and pitch in.

Back in my scooping days, we had to wear hats when working at Baskin-Robbins. Tonight, an employee in a red shirt kept touching her long hair after bending over to scoop out some ice cream. The lower she had to reach for the ice cream, the closer her hair got to the tubs. My wife said that she didn't want this girl to serve us. When it was our turn, I told the girl that we needed another minute to decide. She moved on to the next customer and we were helped by a guy with short hair.

I saw several people with multiple scoops including a guy who showed me his five. I only got a single scoop of Chocolate Mousse Royale, which was all I needed. As good as it was, I realized that I have lost my ice cream jones. When I first moved to Knoxville, I would eat ice cream almost every night. That's part of the reason I gained the weight that I lost a couple of years ago. I still love sweets but if I had to choose between ice cream and cake, I think I would take the cake. Or the cookie or the brownie or some candy.

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Tuesday, April 29, 2008

two out of three ain't bad

An interesting email arrived in the main Einstein Simplified inbox today. Paul Simmons forwarded it to the rest of us in the group.

Jon Tanzman, a casting director for Mark Burnett Productions wanted to tip us off to the upcoming Nashville auditions for a new CBS show called "Jingles." They are inviting musicians and improv performers to try out. Jon specifically mentioned singing comedy duos and barbershop quartets. Once the show goes into production, teams of 2 to 8 members will write and perform jingles for real products. The casting call asks: "Do you think you could use your quick mind, great sense of humor and musical skills to impress Fortune 500 companies?"

Considering that "Bartender" is one of my weakest games, I will have to pass.

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Monday, April 28, 2008

fragility of life

A tragic car crash claimed the life of a woman whose son goes to school with my son. My wife and I accompanied our son to the funeral at Holy Ghost Parish on Saturday. Even though we didn't know Mary Lynn Hurley, we wanted to show support for her children, Jacob and Caitlin. Years later, I still remember which of my friends came to my father's funeral even though they didn't know him.

The News Sentinel's website has two versions of their article about the crash. The early version of the story was updated to be the same as the article in Friday's paper. As the story developed it was revealed that the other driver had a suspended license and a medical condition which may explain why he was seen slumped behind the wheel before the crash. What now differentiates the two postings are the comments that were left on Thursday vs. those left on Friday.

Thursday's comments include several responses to a deleted comment that suggested the other driver should have died instead. Another reader felt it necessary to post the office hours of the deceased woman, which drew an angry reaction a few hours later.

On Friday morning someone posted a comment that will affect your emotions. It appears to have been written by Jacob Hurley about his late mother. It serves as a powerful reminder that the reader comments posted on local news sites will be seen by the families of the people involved in the corresponding article.

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Sunday, April 27, 2008

always more fun

The cupcake fad is about to hit Knoxville in a big way. We already have VG's Bakery and MagPies, both of which I still haven't tried. However I have discovered another blog devoted to the little treats, Cupcakes Takes the Cake.

Now The Cupcakery has established its first foothold in East Tennessee with a delivery-only location in Oak Ridge. They plan to open a Bearden store in June. I had the opportunity to taste a couple of their flavors one afternoon last week when a box was delivered to the office. There were enough for me to take two varieties home. I cut each in half and shared them with my wife. The Double Chocolate had a disc of baking chocolate stuck into the buttercream icing as a garnish. The Peanut Butter Cup had a crumbled Reese's on top. As you would expect, the creamy frosting steals the show from the chocolate cake. That's probably why a cupcake shop in Los Angeles sells icing shots for 75 cents. I think I would enjoy one of these gourmet cupcakes with some buttercream injected into the middle. Can't have too much frosting.

If the Bearden store were already open, I would be tempted to swing by this week for the featured flavor, the Graceland. It has banana cake with peanut butter icing. I've always loved banana cake. By the way, why can't I ever find the frozen Sara Lee Banana Cake I loved as a child? Anyhow, back to the point. The Cupcakery will offer Graceland cupcakes from April 28 through May 3. I wonder if they might be similar to the Elvis Cupcakes I saw online. One of the blog commenters suggests a Fluffernutter cupcake. This. Must. Happen.

Bearden will actually be home to two cupcake shops. Their online calendar says Cities Cupcake Boutique will have its grand opening on Sunday, May 18 but according to their store hours, they will be closed Sundays. When I was a kid, Sundays were the busiest day at the Crestwood Bakery. Everyone went there after church. Oh yeah, back to the point again. Cities cupcakes are each named after a different city. Knoxville gets an orange cupcake. In a bit of political commentary, the vanilla cupcake is named after Washington, DC. Maybe they can do a peanut butter and banana cupcake and name it after Memphis.

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Saturday, April 26, 2008


A family errand kept me from napping yesterday. I was very tired and almost didn't bother going to see the Dogwood Arts Festival Parade. Besides, the parade is usually televised, right? Well, not this year but more on that later. My trip downtown was made completely worthwhile when I saw a certain gigantic nose rounding the corner onto Gay Street (not a euphemism).

Right there, behind The Andy Griffith Show Rerun Watchers Club was a copy of my favorite parade balloon ever. What a surprise! Not plane nor bird nor even frog. It was none other than Underdog!

When a bad weather forecast caused the rescheduling of the parade to last night, it pushed the event into the May television sweeps period. WVLT couldn't clear the inventory to broadcast the parade. They aired their regularly scheduled programming instead. Only Dino Cartwright, the station's promotion director, was there to announce the parade entries as they passed the reviewing stand. The April 11th parade was supposed to last an hour. Tonight's event was over in half that time. I suspect that several groups couldn't make it on the new date. The News Sentinel says that only four of the ten originally scheduled bands showed up.

Across the street from where I was, Brittany Bailey from WBIR was operating her own small camera. I guess her report on the parade is an example of the "one-man band" or "backpack journalism" we've been hearing about.

By definition a parade means road closures. My wife needed to get to the Tennessee Theatre for the second performance of the Berlioz Requiem. My son and I rode with her, which got us downtown early for the parade and the concert. Shortly after we found our spot along the parade route, a guy with a protest sign sat down next to us. He was protesting some judge over some issue related to somebody's divorce. He tried telling me about it but I couldn't make out most of what he was saying. It was like listening to Boomhauer. A festival official came over and told him that he couldn't be there. He replied "free speech." Unable to dispute that fundamental right, the parade marshal changed her tack. In rapid succession she told him that the parade wouldn't be televised, that the specific judge wouldn't be there, that it was an event for children and that this wasn't the appropriate place for his protest sign. He correctly replied that it was a public space. They left him alone after that.

Underdog wasn't the only balloon in the parade. Like last year, there was a big pink dogwood blossom. Curious George got a hole in his hand from dragging his knuckles on the street. A wind gust blew him very close to my camera which left me with a weird shot of his mouth.

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Friday, April 25, 2008

sure as heckfire

This is an actual conversation that took place while waiting for the light to change at the intersection of Walnut Street and Summit Hill Drive tonight. My son and I were driving home from the Dogwood Arts Festival Parade. I looked out the window at the driver in the next lane and said:
"Phil! Phil Williams..."


"It's Frank... Frank Murphy."

"I didn't even remember recognize you! Who's driving your car?"

"That's my son."

"He's not supposed to be that old."
I'll admit I was a little surprised, even if there is a logical explanation. By the way, my parade coverage is postponed until tomorrow. I need to sleep.

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Thursday, April 24, 2008

little lambs eat ivy

Thursday nights mean big crowds downtown. My wife sings with the Knoxville Choral Society and didn't want to be late for their performance with the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra tonight. The show didn't start until 8:00 but we pulled into the State Street garage at 6:00. There was still plenty of time to walk to Market Square and get a big salad at Trio. Meanwhile, outside the restaurant, people were arriving for Smokedown Sundown in the City. Because Sundown is an open air event, the smokers come out in droves.

While we got to the Tennessee Theatre with plenty of time to spare, several audience members and two violinists took their seats well after the concert started. Tonight and tomorrow night the Symphony is presenting the "Requiem" by Berlioz. It basically follows the format of a Catholic funeral Mass. In fact, the piece was commissioned for a state funeral in Paris in 1837.

I was impressed that there was too much music for the stage to contain. The KSO brought in musicians from surrounding areas on a "per-service" basis. In addition to several extra tympani players, there were about 140 members of the Knoxville Choral Society (including my lovely wife) packed onto six rows of risers. A soloist named Andrew Skoog had a chair near Maestro Lucas Richman. Best of all, there were four brass choirs surrounding the audience, two on either side of the stage and two more in the back of the auditorium. Horns, trombones and tubas in the four corners of the theatre created a great surround sound effect.

The Berlioz Requiem will be performed again on Friday night. My wife will have to get there early because of the rescheduled Dogwood Arts Parade that runs right past the Tennessee Theatre starting at 7:00 p.m.

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Wednesday, April 23, 2008

lights, camera, access

Is Billy Bush the next Ryan Seacrest? The First Cousin started in radio, moved to TV and is now doing both.

In addition to his "Access Hollywood" duties, Billy has been filling in for Meredith Vieira on "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" this week. And doing a fine job of it too. It seems that every couple of months they have somebody different filling in. Dave Price from the "The Early Show" and Tom Bergeron from "Dancing With the Stars" have also been on recently. Like most game shows, "Millionaire" is taped weeks in advance. The fact that they are using guest hosts instead of working around Meredith's schedule could be an indication that they are auditioning her eventual replacement. As good as Bush and Bergeron are, I suspect that New York based subs like Price and Al Roker have a slight edge over the Los Angelenos.

Bushy is returning to his radio roots with the nightly syndicated Billy Bush Show. He's on from 7 to 11pm in Los Angeles and is adding affiliates nationwide. The show has both music and celebrity interviews. I emailed Billy to ask how he's doing it. He replied that they tape his part of the show during the day and add the music later. It's has to be ready for the satellite at 7:00 p.m. Eastern time.

Similar to Seacrest at the Super Bowl, Bush will host a red carpet show before the Kentucky Derby. Of course for Billy to be on par with Ryan, he also needs a show comparable to "American Idol." Too bad that his "Grease: You're the One that I Want" wasn't bigger.

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Tuesday, April 22, 2008

short-term solution

A baby bird celebrated Earth Day by falling to it at our house. It wasn't exactly an Opie and Andy moment, but my son and I decided to return the little tweeter to its nest. He got his lawn mowing gloves and a step ladder while I grabbed the camera.

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Monday, April 21, 2008

junior samples

Part of the fun of a trip to Sam's Club is getting the free samples in the food section. The pizza's not bad either. I've noticed that there are more sampling stations on Fridays than on Mondays.

Most of the products being sampled are things I would never buy. I can enjoy a small taste of a fattening food without buying a gigantic package of it. For that reason, I try to slip away before the Sam's staffers do their soft sell. They usually will say "those are only (price) and they're on the shelf right here." Some of the ladies will look right at you and wait for you to put a package of whatever it is in your cart. However the lady who usually serves fresh fruit samples is always pleasantly conversant. On her advice, I've tried a different type of apple and stocked up on navel oranges, which have been especially good this year.

My standard operating procedure changed the other day when I tasted a sample of a spread on a cracker. It was simultaneously sweet and spicy and fruity and smoky, all flavors I love. Without even looking at the price, I grabbed a 40 ounce bottle of Fischer & Wieser Original Roasted Raspberry Chipotle Sauce. I hesitated just long enough to check the label for the amount of calories and sodium per serving. Only 40 calories and 60 milligrams of sodium. Sold!

Despite the shape of the bottle, its consistency is more like jelly than BBQ sauce. The sample lady had put a dollop of the jelly sauce on top of a schmear of cream cheese on a cracker. I don't bother with any of that. I just pour the sauce directly onto my five ounces of chicken. Next time we have turkey, I will use it instead of cranberry sauce.

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Sunday, April 20, 2008

not done yet

"Enough already about the Pope," said the comment I received yesterday. That sentiment is mild compared to some of the remarks left on the News Sentinel's website (here and here). People who do not understand the Pope's role were quick to criticize him and his Catholic flock.

Pope Benedict's trip resonated with me for several reasons. I'm a cradle Catholic who grew up in the New York and Washington suburbs. When we moved to California, my wife and I missed our families. We were drawn to the church where we found comfort in the familiarity of our parish community. On this visit, the Pope is traveling to places that are significant to me. Yesterday he was in Yonkers, the city where I lived until college. Today he was at Yankee Stadium, where I've been several times, mostly for football games but for a few baseball games too. This morning he prayed at Ground Zero, where my cousin heroically perished.

I got an email yesterday from radio newsman Dave Schreiber, a former co-worker at WAVA. I haven't heard from Dave in ages but he was so moved by the Pope's visit to the Park East Synagogue that he had to tell somebody. I'm glad he thought of me.

While I watched the various Papal events, I thought of the people I knew who were in attendance. My daughter was at the White House on Wednesday. My mother and my sister were at Nationals Park on Thursday. Our friend Fr. Ragan Schriver was also at both D.C. ceremonies. Our parish youth minister led a group to New York for the Mass at Yankee Stadium. As I wrote on Friday, several priests we know represented Knoxville during the Pope's visit.

Fr. Richard John Neuhaus, who provides commentary on EWTN, surprised me with his criticism of the Mass at Nationals Park. He expressed his displeasure over the multicultural exhibition, particularly in the selection of music. I was taught that the word catholic (with a small "c") meant universal. It seems xenophobic to expect a Mass of that magnitude to be all-English with only old-school hymns.

Fr. Neuhaus didn't care much for the music at Saturday's Youth Rally either. I have only seen bits and pieces of it on the Internet. I heard a version of "Ave Maria" sung by Kelly Clarkson; a song I remember from Burbank called "Pan de Vida" and a version of my favorite "Litany of the Saints."

The big Masses at St. Finbar Church were usually tri-lingual affairs. The parishioners who spoke Spanish and Vietnamese wanted to feel at home as much as I did. Aren't they entitled to the same feeling of comfort?

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Saturday, April 19, 2008

how 'bout a monster for breakfast

The rain today made it feel right to stay in my pajamas and plop down in front of the TV with a bowl of cereal. The only difference from childhood was that my bowl now contained exactly ¾ cup of Kashi GOLEAN instead of something with marbits. And that I was watching EWTN instead of Saturday morning cartoons. I had another childhood flashback last week when I saw a box of Quisp at Dollar General.

After finishing breakfast, I clicked around the Internet for a while. Coincidentally I found more cereal reminders. First I saw a funny movie poster that wonders what it would be like if they made a live-action film about Count Chocula. Then I saw an older Count at an imaginary cereal mascot reunion.

Last Halloween Jimmy Kimmel dressed as the Count while t
he rest of his on-camera staff dressed as other cereal icons. Together they looked like Chris Burney's arm. A couple of years earlier my friend Bean wore a Count Chocula costume to the KROQ Halloween party.

Before last Tuesday's Einstein Simplified show, Dave Snow and I thought of a new twist for the "Race for Coffee" game. Instead of sending someone across the street for coffee during a guessing game, we can send them to the Knoxville Pearl for a bowl of cereal and milk. I visited the place when it first opened and saw the images of the General Mills cereal monsters painted on the wall.

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Friday, April 18, 2008

pope notes

Pope Benedict XVI traveled to New York today. One of his stops was at St. Joseph's parish in Yorkville, which is only a few blocks from my sister's apartment. Tomorrow he will be in Yonkers, my original hometown, to visit Dunwoodie.

At least three priests with a Knoxville connection will be in New York with the Pope. Fr. Eric Andrews will represent Knoxville at St. Patrick's Cathedral tomorrow morning. Archbishop Joseph Kurtz will concelebrate Mass at Yankee Stadium on Sunday. Fr. Augustine Idra will help safely distribute communion at Yankee Stadium. One hundred Knoxville parishioners will be there too.

My blog got some traffic today from (thanks Ralph!) and from people searching for "Papal Mass" on Of all the links in tonight's short post I think my favorite is the "safely distribute communion" video.

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Thursday, April 17, 2008

disturb the sound of silence

After two days of watching CNN, I can't take it any longer. Pardon me while I borrow a formula from my friend Bean's blog, Strongly Worded Letter. Former radio deejay Tony Harris has the good looks to make it as a TV news anchor. He probably Googles himself regularly, therefore it shouldn't take him but a day or two to find this:
Dear Mr. Harris,

May I humbly suggest that you compare a tape of your coverage of today's Papal Mass with the coverage on EWTN, the Catholic network. Granted they have the advantage of already knowing the format of a standard Catholic service, however you will have to notice that you and your team were talking at the times they knew to be quiet and vice versa. More than once you chose to listen in to the proceedings at the wrong time. For example, your viewers heard a minute of silence after the homily and the Prayers of the Faithful read in multiple foreign languages. EWTN used those opportunities to explain what was happening. You completely obliterated the second reading, which was in English, and went to commercial during the Responsorial Psalm.

Furthermore, may I suggest that you spend some time listening to a good play-by-play announcer in your favorite sport. I can think of several baseball and football announcers who know how to be quiet and let the game happen. They may be in the middle of an anecdote about a player when then simply pause the story, let the game unfold and then pick up the story later. Unlike you, they do not spend 20 precious seconds explaining to the audience that they are about to stop talking to let us hear whatever it is that they are talking over.

Thank you for your attention,
Frank Murphy
Knoxville, TN
Now that we have that out of the way, let's move on to the photos my sister took at Nationals Park today. The Popemobile passed close by as she and my mother were walking to their seats. Once they got there, they had a pretty good view of the altar and of the Pope as he headed back to the dugout after Mass.

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Wednesday, April 16, 2008

happy geburtstag

The ceremony to welcome Pope Benedict XVI to the White House was broadcast live on several TV networks this morning. I recorded two channels, hoping for the one in 13,500 chance that I might spot my daughter in the crowd. As you can see from the pictures taken by her boyfriend, they weren't too far back. She did say it was easier to see the Pope and the President when they were up on the balcony. She was pleasantly surprised to find that she happened be standing near our friend Fr. Ragan Schriver, the director of Catholic Charities of East Tennessee.

I chose to record EWTN for their complete coverage and CNN-HD for their high-definition picture. CNN was a disappointment. I wanted to see the White House in widescreen. Instead, they showed the ceremony in SD. On either side of the 4:3 image, they put pillars with the CNN-HD logo as if to rub it in. To make matters worse, anchor Tony Harris would not shut up. He must like hearing himself talk. Prior to the ceremony, he would restate his own question multiple times before letting his guest answer. Then he talked all the way through the Vatican anthem and part way through the Star Spangled Banner before realizing it and commenting on the fact that he was going to finally stop talking. It's no wonder that other bloggers have described him as "terrible" and "clueless."

As the newest U.S. Bishop, Knoxville native James Vann Johnston was chosen to read a question to the Pope at tonight's meeting at the National Shrine. EWTN carried the speech live. Bishop Johnston got his camera time at 7:15 p.m. The question was written by the USCCB and preselected by the pope as one he would like to answer. A local Missouri station only barely mentioned that their new bishop would be present. They also misspelled the word "speeches" and inserted a picture of Captain Kirk in the middle of the article.

Tomorrow I will record EWTN's coverage of the Papal Mass at Nationals Park. My mother and sister will be among the 46,000 in attendance. I don't expect to see them on camera. The Washington media have set up special pages on their websites for the Papal visit. Check out WRC, WUSA and WJLA as well as the Washington Post.

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Tuesday, April 15, 2008

five years until Willard

Happy birthday Grandma! No, my grandmother doesn't usually read my blog but I once sent a link to my aunt, who printed the entry and gave it to Grandma.

Grandma turns 95 today. She was born one year after the Titanic sunk, 48 years after the day Lincoln died.

On her 14th birthday, the first footprints were left in the cement at Grauman's Chinese Theatre by Douglas Fairbanks, Mary Pickford and some others. On her 34th birthday, Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in baseball.

Congress ratified Amendment XVI, which allowed them to collect an income tax, about two and a half months before Grandma was born. Her birthday didn't become the official Tax Day until she turned 42.

About nine years ago Grandma gave me a gift subscription to the statehood quarters. Every few months we get a panel in the mail from the Postal Commemorative Society. At the time, Grandma made me promise to continue buying the panels after she's gone. Fortunately for me, Grandma is still going strong and the final quarters will be released this year.

Grandma spent her 80th birthday with us in Los Angeles. We took her to the Chinese Theatre, to Beverly Hills and to the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. That's where she saw the statues of some of her favorite stars, like Jack Benny.

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Monday, April 14, 2008

reblog, reuse, recycle

It's time to revisit a few old blog posts and check for updates. I think Oprah does this all the time. Once in a while I write a brief update in the comments section of an entry, like I did about Gentlemen's Top Cuts yesterday. Three of my past topics turned up in the news today, which was all the incentive I needed to write tonight's post about them.

It seemed incongruous to me that several cable "reality" shows are in high-definition but that "Survivor" and "The Amazing Race" were not. Now we hear that the seventeenth season of "Survivor" will be the first shot in HD.

When I watched a Redskins game on the NFL Network, I was underwhelmed by Bryant Gumbel's play-by-play announcing. I wasn't alone in being relieved that he will step aside.

Shea Stadium's final opening day had me thinking about the place. All the times I was there, I never thought about breaking a seat and stealing the pieces as souvenirs. The attempt to Rickroll Shea may have failed but people elsewhere are still showing the love to Mr. Astley.

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Sunday, April 13, 2008

hair slicked back, wayfarers on

This is my friend Brad. He makes me laugh.

As shown here, he's taking a quick break from filming a scene with his corn dog to inform us that "The Boys of Summerville" will have its premiere at the Regal Downtown West Cinema this Thursday at 7:00 p.m. Brad and the rest of the cast will make their red carpet arrivals starting at 5:30 p.m. He tells me that "Live at Five" plans to have a crew there.

The movie was filmed in East Tennessee last summer. Knoxville's Official Movie Star, David Keith, has a part in the film as well. I wonder if any longtime readers of this blog took advantage of the opportunity to be extras in the movie. I mean besides David.

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Saturday, April 12, 2008

blogic: the gathering

What do you call a group of bloggers? Several of us got together tonight for hot wings and conversation. Perhaps we could borrow a term from the animal kingdom. A pride of bloggers makes sense for obvious reasons. So does a parliament of bloggers. A gaggle could fit too. Or maybe even an exaltation. I suppose we could try making up our own term. A blaggle of bloggers reminds me too much of the Bob Loblaw Law Blog. Actually, a boggle of bloggers has a nice ring to it.

Most of the bloggers present were people I had already met. Rich, Lissa, Doug and Cathy used their various handheld devices to work on their posts from our table at the Wild Wing Cafe. Doug has already published his recap. He's not exaggerating when he says that the loud TV audio was a conversation killer. It was on just long enough to get us to leave. Once we got to the exit, the play-by-play was replaced with music.

Victor and his brother Joseph were, I think, first time attendees. Victor works for AOL, helping to maintain their Weblogs, Inc. Network. He often writes on the DIY Life site. I told him that I regularly read TV Squad, Engadget HD and Slashfood.

I forgot to ask my fellow blogateers if they had seen my post yesterday about Googlegängers. My former improv brother (now in the USAF) Lance Harwell turned it into a meme by posting a comment with a list of his own Googlegängers. Why not post your own list there too?

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Friday, April 11, 2008

done that

The recent New York Times article on Googlegängers seemed like it could inspire a good blog topic for me. Then I remembered I had already written about the same thing almost two years ago. Googlegängers are people with your same name who turn up when you Google your own.

Within the past couple of weeks, I have received emails intended for Frank Murphy the real estate agent and for Frank Murphy the factory owner. As always, I forwarded them along to the right Frank. The real estate emails often come with a PDF attachment about a home inspection or a sales contract. I almost deleted the last email for the factory. It came from Jakarta, Indonesia and was in broken English. Here's an excerpt:
Dear sir,
With your respectfull and consider please submit and advise our inquiry as your lowest price,delivery time and total estimated weight for material as follow:
The Frank Murphy who was in the NFL is now with the Toronto Argonauts. Tonight I learned that there's another Frank Murphy who plays rugby for the Leicester Tigers. I also discovered a Frank Murphy who is a watercolorist in Florida. He looks pensive in his self-portrait.

Self-Googling is a good idea for everybody, especially college students about to enter the work force. In a Wall Street Journal article, the co-founder of says to "clean your space and wash your face." By that he means remove anything untoward from your MySpace and Facebook pages. A former co-worker asked me to join Naymz and give him a reference. The site promises to help propel the real you to the top of the search engine results. The experts also suggest starting your own blog and maybe even getting your own web domain. Check and check.


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Thursday, April 10, 2008

beginning of the end

If WNBC-TV is really "for New York" like the song says, they should post their excellent half-hour special about the doomed Shea Stadium. At least a two-minute clip of "The Amazin' Shea" is available online. Maybe they could post fourteen more of them.

A producer's blog gives some background on the interviews they conducted with members of the 1969 World Championship team. A review in the Daily News and an entry in a Shea fan's blog describe the show too.

Of course Shea Stadium isn't only about the Mets. The TV special also covers the Jets, the Beatles and Pope John Paul II, who all made history there too.

Sadly, Rick Astley will only be a footnote in the Shea Stadium lore. An online vote to choose an eighth inning song was Rickrolled, in a way. The fans booed. Want to see a great example of Rickrolling? Read my friend Bean's April 1st blog entry.

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Wednesday, April 09, 2008

tip of the iceberg

The "Stuff (blank) People Like" phenomenon hasn't grabbed my full attention. I had heard about the original site, Stuff White People Like but didn't spend a lot of time looking at it, much less the various copycat sites.

Today I found that I had been added to the blogroll on Confessions of a Worshipper (thanks!). One of their recent entries linked to a list of Stuff Christians Like. On the flip side of the coin, All Access posted a link to Stuff Radio People Like. Comparing the two is somewhat reminiscent of the old Goofus and Gallant cartoons in Highlights Magazine.

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Tuesday, April 08, 2008

the bee's knees

"The Insider" may as well be called "The Insidious" in my book. I have seen enough of the show to know that I would rather avoid it. In all fairness, I will have to try it again if Donny Osmond is hired to replace Pat O'Brien, as rumored.

Tonight I heard some of "The Insider" in the car on 87.7 FM. They were trying to predict who will be on the next season of "Dancing With the Stars" based on who was in the audience for Monday night's show. '80s pop star Debbie Deborah Gibson, Trump's ex Marla Maples and famous choreographer Paula Abdul were mentioned as possibilities.

"The Insider" totally missed the audience member who, in my opinion, would want desperately to be on a show as big as "Dancing With the Stars." With all the attention that Los Angeles radio personality Adam Carolla got from dancing with super cute Julianne Hough, you know that Rick Dees must want a piece of that spotlight too. Thanks to my HDTV, I had no difficulty seeing Dees in the crowd behind the best live TV host in the business, Tom Bergeron. Dees certainly knows how to promote himself but would he be willing to risk embarrassing himself on the dance floor? Could he stick around longer than Adam, who was unfortunately the fourth celebrity to be sent home?

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Monday, April 07, 2008

a life cut short

A news story from last week is still weighing on my mind. On Thursday, a complete loser was convicted of killing Christina Eubanks. At the time of the murder, I was shocked and saddened by the crime. Christina would often come to watch Einstein Simplified perform. I remember meeting her, as does my wife.

Reading about the trial, I was saddened again by the way the defendant besmirched the victim's reputation. I was especially galled by the murderer's claim that he used his stun gun in an effort to revive Christina after he smashed her head with a toilet tank lid. His story about a consensual affair didn't ring true with me either. The jurors didn't believe him either and sent him to prison presumably for the rest of his life.

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Sunday, April 06, 2008

to pry or not to pry

John Charles Carter died yesterday. The world knew him as Charlton Heston, the star of two of my favorite movies, "Planet of the Apes" and "The Ten Commandments." I had the pleasure of meeting him twice.

Mr. Heston visited KLOS a couple of times to promote his books. It is unusual for a movie star of his magnitude to do a radio interview. He came because the publishing business has a better appreciation for the power of radio than the movie industry. I was there when he came in to plug "To Be a Man: Letters to My Grandson." On another occasion we needed to bring the show to him. I can't remember exactly why. I made a few calls to his house and spoke with Mrs. Heston to make plans for the broadcast. On the appointed day, we took the Mark & Brian Mobile up Coldwater Canyon Drive to the Heston home. The entire interview was conducted in the driveway, near his grandson's sandbox.

The broadcast from Heston's driveway was similar to our on-air visits to the exteriors of the homes of Peter Falk and John Travolta. We didn't presume to set foot in their houses either.

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Saturday, April 05, 2008

hand in, handout

There are plenty of hair salons for women. Since my makeover, I get my hair cut at such a place every month. There's at least one local salon just for children. Mike Huff, the co-owner of Kidz Fun Kutz is now opening a hair salon for men, admittedly inspired by Hooters. He has taken some heat in the blogosphere for hiring only pretty women. In my opinion, the all-female staff members who I see at Garde Bien are just as attractive as the women at Gentlemen's Top Cuts.

Mike said that he chose a location on Middlebrook Pike because the rent was more affordable than on Kingston Pike. The site has a high traffic count and is not far from Knoxville's population center at Cedar Bluff. Gentlemen's Top Cuts will be the first business to open in a mini-mall that will also be home to Nixon's Deli, a nail salon and Domino's Pizza. A fifth storefront is still available.

With the salon due to open Wednesday, there's still lots of work to be done. Yet construction was temporarily halted so some bloggers could get a preview of the services to be offered. I was invited because of a post I wrote back in December. The guys who write SayUncle, Modern Redneck and Reality Me were also there. Publicist Zane Hagy told me that he is having great success getting bloggers to spread the word about his various clients.

Doug of Reality Me preceded me by several years as a member of Einstein Simplified. Today he channeled Steve Carell in "The 40-Year-Old Virgin" as he had some personal waxing done. He made sure we could all hear him scream although I suspect it may have been exaggerated for our benefit.

Like the other bloggers, I was offered a free haircut. I declined because I already have an appointment at Garde Bien scheduled for next week and because I didn't want to cheat on Stacey, my regular stylist. Zane said that my son could take advantage of the freebie instead. While Carrie cut my son's hair, I got a manicure from Michele. She cut my fingernails and then had me dip my hands in hot paraffin. After that she bagged my hands like evidence and told me to wait a few minutes. When Michele peeled off the wax, I could only think of Dr. Bill Bass. He had described the process of degloving in our interview about the book "Flesh and Bone." The skin sloughs off the hands of a corpse. It can later be retrieved, mixed with water and Downy and used to get the fingerprints of the deceased.

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Friday, April 04, 2008

onward and upward you must press

The Catholic Charities Annual Dinner Gala took place last night in downtown Knoxville. My wife and I had a great time, mainly because there were so many people there that we knew, including Fr. Ragan Schriver who greeted everyone as they arrived. We said a brief hello in the hotel lobby to Bruce Hartmann. I found out today that Bruce is number 39 on BusinessTN's 2008 Power100 list. Had I known last night, I would have congratulated him. Before dinner we had a nice chat with Fr. Eric Andrews near the cheese tray. All three have been my guests on a public affairs radio show over the past two and a half years.

At seven o'clock the crowd moved into the ballroom at the Crowne Plaza Hotel. Our seats were at table 26. My wife and I both thought we were losing our minds as we looked for our table. Tables 24, 25 and 27 were all lined up in a row as were the rest of the numbered tables. Eventually we found table 26, out of sequence on the far right of the room. The salads and desserts were already in place at each of the tables. The salads were all the same but the desserts alternated between cheesecake and chocolate cake. People all over the room jockeyed for position so they could sit in front of their preferred dessert.

The after-dinner entertainment was by the Smokyland Sound Barbershop Chorus. The singers walked right past our table on the way to their risers. As soon as I saw them, I secretly hoped they would sing "The Roses of Success" from "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang." While the senior members of the group sang their first couple of songs, two others stood against the wall near our table waiting to go on. My wife and I recognized one of them as Jim, a member of the All Saints choir. The two wore tuxedo shirts and bow ties but not the sequined vests that the others had on. At that same time, someone at our table wanted coffee. A helpful priest jumped up and asked Jim to serve our table. We could read Jim's lips as he explained that he was only there to sing.

Fr. Michael Woods interrupted Fr. Ragan's closing remarks to publicly thank him for all his hard work as director of Catholic Charities of East Tennessee. The thanks were delivered roast-style as Fr. Michael teased Fr. Ragan about his vegetarian diet and his casual attire. We learned that Fr. Ragan and several other priests got stranded in Atlanta when their connecting flight to Missouri was canceled. They were supposed to attend the ordination of Bishop Vann Johnston. Speaking of bishops and Knoxville's current lack of one, Fr. Michael jokingly put on a red skullcap during his remarks. When we spoke with him later, he was very relieved to hear that the Vicar General, Monsignor Xavier Mankel had gone home just before the comedy commenced.

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Thursday, April 03, 2008

impossible things happening everyday

The news out of Fairfax this week was unsettling. George Mason Patriots coach Jim Larranaga was being courted by his alma mater, Providence College. I heard about it yesterday when I called Michael Litos, author of "Cinderella: Inside the Rise of Mid-Major College Basketball," to arrange today's podcast interview. I was relieved to hear today that Larranaga accepted a contract extension to stay at GMU.

In the 11 minute mp3 file, we talk about Coach L, the CAA and mid-major basketball in general. I told Michael about Best Week Ever poking fun at Larranaga over his speech before this year's Notre Dame game. While you're listening, take a look at Michael's CAA blog and the current stories about Larranaga on the Washington Post and New York Times sites.

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Wednesday, April 02, 2008

have a nice drey

Here's an idea for a t-shirt. My family went to the Tidal Basin and all I got was this dead squirrel picture:

On Friday, my wife and kids went to look at the cherry blossoms in Washington D.C. With camera in hand, they searched for the same group of trees where they had posed when the kids were little. One of the trees they found had a large knot hole. The kids noticed that there was a squirrel in the hole and that it was "resting." My son figured out that its rest was permanent. Then my wife decided to take a picture of it for me and for my blog. After all, I've had plenty of experience with dead critters in the pool. Or it's possible that she may have been inspired by a book. She's currently in the middle of the first Jefferson Bass novel, "Carved in Bone."

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Tuesday, April 01, 2008

polymath on the Potomac

The cherry blossoms are peaking in Washington, DC this week. My wife and kids took some time during their Spring break to visit the monuments on Friday, the day before all the crowds showed up for the National Cherry Blossom Festival. My brother-in-law was also there and took this picture of the Jefferson Memorial that is absolutely postcard-perfect.

The Jefferson has always been my favorite memorial. There's something about its location and its architecture that speaks to me. I was surprised to learn yesterday that it's design was completed by a committee after the original architect died. I happened across a show on the Smithsonian Channel about the various memorials in and around D.C. They also said that when the Jefferson Memorial opened, on the third president's 200th birthday, bronze was too expensive. They used a plaster statue painted to look like bronze. After the war ended, a real bronze statue was installed. Nobody knows what happened to the plaster original. It's got to be in somebody's garage somewhere.

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