Monday, June 30, 2008

no joke

The bad news came via the Google Alert I have set up for comedy improv information. One of my favorite venues for improv, the Comedy Warehouse (and the other five nightclubs) at Walt Disney World's Pleasure Island will close in September.

A Virginia-based blogger had the official Disney press release and a theory that it was Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville at Universal City Walk that killed Pleasure Island. Another "Mouse expert" wrote that the Comedy Warehouse was sparsely attended on weeknights. He also says that some performers at the Adventurers Club were encouraged to audition for a job at the new American Idol Experience. Yet another Mouse blogger believes that Disney crippled Pleasure Island before killing it. Readers who posted comments on the Orlando Sentinel site aren't happy about the closures either.

When radio is done with me, I had thought I might move to Orlando and watch improv everyday, much like the people complaining on a Disney-themed message board. Some of them chose time shares based on their proximity to the Comedy Warehouse and the Adventurers Club.

I hope that the Comedy Warehouse cast members (especially Lisa) can get jobs doing improv in the theme parks, like the group I saw in March. At the very least, they should be able to perform with one of the talented Orlando troupes like SAK. The closing makes me especially blue that I was too tired to go to the Comedy Warehouse on my last visit to Walt Disney World. My one ticket might have kept them in business a little longer.

The name of the Comedy Warehouse makes me think of a quote from Adam Carolla that I read on his Wikipedia page. He describes himself as a comedy factory, not a comedy warehouse. Like Adam, improvisers are comedy factories, always making up new material. Stand-up comics are comedy warehouses, with a supply of well-rehearsed jokes that they reuse night after night. Ironically the Comedy Warehouse featured improv while the Laugh Factory showcases stand-ups.

Here in Knoxville, I have noticed an increase in attendance at our Tuesday night improv shows. Then I noticed that Patrick Sullivan's has started to occasionally mention Einstein Simplified in their weekly Metro Pulse ad. I'm no genius but I think there might be a correlation.

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Sunday, June 29, 2008

ordinary persons

The first two Dexter novels by Jeff Lindsay were good enough to make me want to read the third but not good enough to make me want to pay the hardcover price for it. Luckily Terry Morrow lent me his copy of "Dexter in the Dark." The novels are similar yet very different from the excellent Showtime series that I like so much. Some characters who die in the books, are still alive in the show and vice versa. By the third book I had gotten accustomed to the differences and found that I enjoyed reading it more than the first two.

I noticed that Lindsay runs into the same literary roadblock that caused Patricia Cornwell to change the way she writes her Kay Scarpetta novels. The first two Dexter books and most of the third are written in the first person, narrated by the title character. However in the third book, the author occasionally switches perspective to that of the villain. He also gives voice to the concept of evil from creation through evolution to modern times. I was especially disappointed by evil's poor vocabulary. It refers to early humans as the "monkey things."

After I finished "Dexter in the Dark," I started reading Cornwell's "Book of the Dead," which I had received for Christmas. At about the halfway point, I'm finding that I have very little sympathy for or interest in the recurring characters. A couple of them have life-threatening illnesses and another seems bent on self-destruction. Maybe Cornwell is going to clean the slate and give Scarpetta a new cast of regulars in the future.

Her writing style has changed since the earlier Scarpetta novels. Not only did Cornwell abandon the first person narrative a few books back, now she has begun using sentence fragments to start chapters. These phrases read more like something you would find in a screenplay than a novel. Usually it just states where the scene will take place. My wife said that if Cornwell used Microsoft Word, she would have gotten a lot of squiggly green lines under her sentences.

Mystery novels that are narrated by the detective have a hard time maintaining the suspense as the main character finds the final clues. Several of the books I've read start omitting details right when it gets to the good part. The difference is noticeable after extremely descriptive early chapters. It's frustrating when the narrator stops short of telling us what they figured out before racing off to confront the villain. Many times we don't find out who the murderer is until much later.

My current favorite series of novels is also written in the first person. I will have to ask the writing team of Jefferson Bass how they plan to handle the narrative in their future books the next time I see them.

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Saturday, June 28, 2008

taking it on the chin

A story in The Hollywood Reporter suggests that the best post-"Tonight Show" option for Jay Leno is to join ABC. We've heard this idea again and again and again over the past year and a half. The article also spells out scenarios for Leno to move to Fox, CBS and into syndication. Their conclusion is that the only job Leno really wants is "The Tonight Show."

As bad as Leno's show is, it would make a better lead-in to Jimmy Kimmel's show than "Nightline." However I think that if "Nightline" were to go away, Jimmy should get the chance to compete with Conan O'Brien's new "Tonight Show" at 11:35. If ABC ends up hiring Leno, they should only give him a half-hour show. He can do his monologue and his Jaywalking (or whatever) and skip the celebrity interviews that are not his strong point.

Quick side note: It bugs me when the "Nightline" anchors sign off by saying "good night America" followed by ten seconds of instrumental theme music as they show the New York skyline. Their tone of voice and the dark picture also seem to say "and now, ABC ends its broadcast day. Join us tomorrow for 'Sunrise Semester.'" It reminds me of something I learned about in college. Two political candidates each bought an hour of radio time, back-to-back. The first candidate ended his speech after forty-five minutes, said good night to America, and then deliberately ran fifteen minutes of dead air before his opponent could begin.

Because I always record "Jimmy Kimmel Live," it doesn't matter to me all that much whether it starts at 11:35, 12:05 or 12:35. It will still look the same when I watch it the next day. However it would be easiest for me if NBC figured out a way to keep Jay Leno, even if it means a big payment to Conan O'Brien for delaying the start of his "Tonight Show" era. That way I won't have to modify the Season Pass for "Jimmy Kimmel Live" on my TiVo.

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Friday, June 27, 2008

could there be a connection?

There were two bottles of Henri's Fat-Free Honey Mustard Salad Dressing on the shelf at the Bearden Food City tonight. As my wife put them in our cart, I realized that they were the same bottles that remained after I bought all but those two last week. One still had their old-style label.

The Food City on Middlebrook Pike put Henri's on a close-out special last week. Does that mean it will be discontinued at all their locations or just that one? Chicken and salad dressing are the two main reasons we switched from Kroger to Food City. I may be looking to switch supermarkets again if I can't continue to get the fat-free Henri's.

Hometown Favorites charges the same price for Henri's as Food City. I have to decide if it's worth paying added cost of shipping and handling. I couldn't find a website for the Henri's brand, just for its parent company, ACH Food Companies in Memphis.

I wish I could buy Henri's dressing as cheaply as the two Chicago-area crooks who got it for only 3¢ a bottle. That wasn't their crime. It was relabeling the bottles to change the expiration date and reselling them to stores. Setting up a toll-free hotline to lie to customers didn't help them either. One of these creative criminal minds is was a movie director.

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Thursday, June 26, 2008

and here we go...

Batman fans are buzzing today about the first review of "The Dark Knight." Peter Travers of Rolling Stone absolutely loved it. He's talking about a posthumous Oscar for Heath Ledger. The movie trailers have allayed any fear I had that Heath's untimely death would distract from the film. When I look at him in character, I only see the Joker, not the actor.

Meanwhile Adam West fans can set their TiVos to record the 9 a.m. hour of the "Today" show on Tuesday. Adam, Burt Ward and Lee Meriweather will be interviewed. A couple of Adam West interviews popped up online this week. If you only feel like reading one, I would recommend The Den of Geek instead of It's no surprise that Adam is less than enthusiastic about the darker version of the caped crusader.

I don't think it's a contradiction for me to be a fan of both the '60s TV "Batman" and Christopher Nolan's interpretation in "Batman Begins." Of course, I also loved all the other Nolan films I've seen: "Memento," "Insomnia" and "The Prestige."

Some other bat-bits: It's too bad that Adam West wasn't chosen to receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame this year. I hope his supporters keep trying. My friend Bean wanted to make sure I had seen a cool behind-the-scenes photo of Adam and Burt filming one of their famous Bat-climbs. My friend Lee sent me a sound clip of a 1960s radio deejay telling his audience that it was time to go watch "Batman." That's a sure-fire ratings winner. Lastly, I saw a picture on the Knoxville Blog Network of what is truly the worst Batman toy ever. Funny, though.

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Wednesday, June 25, 2008


Today's high temperature was 90° yet I needed my Alpaca sweater from Peru. Why? Because it was only 58° where I was, 126 feet underground in a cave. My son and I went to Cherokee Caverns for a media preview of their upcoming Cool Down in the Cave on July 12. For a (suggested) $5 donation, you can escape the summer heat that day.

There will be another media preview tomorrow. I suggested to the cavern volunteers that they may want to offer the tour to bloggers as well. It seemed to work for the Knoxville Symphony and for Gentlemen's Top Cuts. If any of you bloggers can make it on Thursday evening, contact Jennifer or Jim through the Cherokee Caverns website for an invitation.

Our tour guide was Jim Whidby, who has done a lot to preserve the cave and to make it accessible to visitors. As our tour began, we learned that this will be the final year for the Haunted Cave, a Halloween tradition that has raised money to pay for cave upkeep. Now I wish I had gone to it in the past. I'll have to make my first (and last) visit to the Haunted Cave this October.

Jim told us about the Eastern Pipistrelle Bats which he re-introduced to the cave. The previous population of bats were smoked out after vandals got in to the cave and burned some tires. Dummies. I was hoping to see some live bats, but they must have all been out feasting on mosquitoes. However, Jim had a dead one in his pocket. Near the end of the tour, my son spotted a live Cave Salamander trying to hide from us.

Jim showed us some ancient cave drawings made by prehistoric cavemen Bill Landry for an April Fool's bit.

The natural rock formations were much more interesting. My favorite was the face in the rock. Their largest stalagmite is known as the Capitol Dome, although I thought it looked more like Jabba the Hut.

There were two bullet holes visible in one of the stalactites, probably evidence of the vandalism that occurred during the 1980s. Fortunately the vandals didn't destroy the connected stalactite and stalagmite (the column on the left), which took thousands of years to meet.

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Tuesday, June 24, 2008

surprise at the pearly gates

George Carlin seemed younger than 71. Maybe not in appearance but certainly in attitude. If someone asked you last week, could you have guessed that he was born in the 1930s? Yesterday morning I awoke to the startling news that Carlin had died. Although he was only a couple of years younger than my parents, he didn't behave like a member of their generation.

The 28-year-old Carlin was virtually unrecognizable in some footage from a 1965 episode of "The Merv Griffin Show." He was clean-cut and doing a more standard form of shtick reminiscent of Rodney Dangerfield. By the time he hosted the first "Saturday Night Live" in 1975, he had reinvented himself into the comedian we all knew. That could explain why he seemed younger than he was.

When asked for a reaction, Jay Leno told ABC News, "If there was ever a comedian who was a voice of their generation it was George Carlin." Leno's quote for USA Today was "He was a student of Lenny Bruce, and, like him, he spoke directly to his generation." Uh, Jay? Please see paragraphs one and two above.

I remember first listening to one of Carlin's comedy albums while visiting some second cousins in Baltimore. They let me use headphones so as not to disturb the grown-ups. And by grown-ups, I mean the people in the house who were closest to Carlin's age.

George Carlin was one of the many celebrities to appear on KLOS while I worked there. I think he was promoting a book at the time. Or maybe an HBO special. Or possibly both. Carlin was nothing short of prolific. I may not agree with all his beliefs, but I am glad to have met him. I think I may have had him sign a book. If I did, it would be packed away in in box in the basement.

Yesterday I flipped over to NPR as part of my resolution to listen to it more often. They were rerunning an interview with George Carlin from 2004. In the segment I heard, the interviewer asked George about his philosophy of life. In her question, she aptly described it as a mix of narcissism and mysticism. Then she asked about his heart attacks and his thoughts on death. He talked about how he would be sad to know that his life was ending whether he had a minute, a month or a year's notice that his time was up. I wonder what was going through the interviewer's mind as she asked the questions. Was she thinking ahead to the day the interview would eventually be replayed?

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Monday, June 23, 2008

helping hand

In response to the floods in the Midwest, WATE will raise some money for the American Red Cross later today. The phone lines will open during the 5:00 p.m. newscast and stay open until 8:00 p.m. At 5:30, they will preempt "Inside Edition" to air a mini-telethon, hosted by Tearsa Smith and yours truly.

On Friday, Tearsa and I cut a promo that ran all weekend. As we were getting started, I didn't know how to place my hands, so I copied something I've seen dozens of sportscasters do. I put my hands together with only the fingertips touching. They formed a triangle pointed it toward the floor. Apparently there's a behind-the-scenes TV news term for it that cracked me up and almost delayed the taping. Right as the tape was about to roll, Tearsa said, "no v----- hands!" She explained later that American Sign Language uses almost the exact same symbol for the lady business. Previously I would have thought that phrase referred to the "victory formation" signal used by some NFL coaches.

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Sunday, June 22, 2008

h-e-double toothpicks

For a recent birthday celebration, my wife and I bought some Culpitt Party Candles at Food City. As with almost anything nowadays, this product was made in China. Perhaps that explains why the letters that are supposed to spell "over the hill" instead spelled "over the hell." If you look closely at the back of the packages, you can see that one has an "I" while the other has an "E." You just know which one we had to buy.

Later, we played our own version of Jumble with the candles and came up with a few other possibilities, including some not pictured here.

PS: You can't get a fancy cupcake in this town on a Sunday. The three bakeries that I checked were all closed.

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Saturday, June 21, 2008

pucker up

The lemonade stands in the neighborhood where I grew up consisted of nothing more than a card table and a sign made of oak tag. That was what they called poster board around those parts. Today I spotted a lemonade stand as nice as the ones in the comic strips. Here's a photo I took from my car just as the kids were closing up shop. Next time I drive down that street I will have to drop 50¢ and buy a glass.

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Friday, June 20, 2008

one down, nineteen to go

At the urging of my friend Tim, I tried listening to some NPR this week. Today I heard a show that was so good, I'm kicking myself for not knowing about it sooner. Fortunately all twenty past episodes of Radiolab are available online. They produce five episodes per season.

The episode that got me hooked was about the famous 1938 broadcast of "War of the Worlds." I downloaded the mp3 so I can hear the parts I missed while out of the car. People who posted comments on the show's blog loved it as much as I did.

Every Halloween some radio stations would rerun the old Mercury Theatre show. I used to hear it as a kid in New York on WOR. In L.A. it was on KNX. While I was at KLOS, I produced and directed a version of "War of the Worlds" at the Museum of Television & Radio, as it was known back then. We paid some old guy for the rights and used the same script.

In our production, Paul Sorvino played the Orson Welles part. I cast Paul Moyer and Colleen Williams from KNBC and Leonard Maltin from "Entertainment Tonight" in the roles of the newscasters who "interrupt" the program. They were all great but it was William Shatner who stole the show. He played Carl Phillips, the reporter who (spoiler alert) gets burned up by the Martians. Shatner got a well-deserved standing ovation during our first commercial break.

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Thursday, June 19, 2008

the bad, the good and the promising

After seeing "The Happening" this past weekend, I wasn't particularly inspired to write about it. An hour into the movie, people were laughing at parts that weren't meant to be funny. On the plus side, I think it might play better on HBO or DVD. All the hype about it being M. Night Shyamalan's first R-rated movie seemed overblown to me. One or two quick edits probably would have brought it back down to PG-13.

Another movie I saw over the weekend was a pleasant surprise on DVD. "Dan in Real Life" was much better than I expected from the marketing campaign. Neither the TV commercials nor the theatrical trailer did it justice. There's a scene at the end of the trailer that wasn't even in the movie. The part where Dan panics as his daughter pulls out into traffic turns up in the DVD extras. Forget the trailer. All you need to know is that Dan inadvertently meets and falls for his brother's new girlfriend right before she shows up at a family gathering. Except for one cliched pratfall off a roof, the jokes are original and very enjoyable. Steve Carell plays Dan. An understated Dane Cook plays his brother. Don't let your Dane Cook preconceptions get in your way. A radiant Juliette Binoche plays the woman in the middle.

Meanwhile, Steve Carell has been all over TV tonight in the commercials for "Get Smart." My wife and I are still planning to see it this weekend, probably on Sunday.

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Wednesday, June 18, 2008

cool day, hot day, wet day

M&M Catering has to move. The landlord wants them out by July 9. It often seems to me that their little cinder block shack on Middlebrook Pike draws more cars than the laundromat on whose property it sits. When we first moved into our house, the locksmith we hired told us that he also owned the laundromat. I wonder what he plans to do with the extra space.

The M&M folks put up a new banner today announcing their relocation. They are moving down the pike to where Catinella's used to be. The staff told me that they're not turning into a sit-down restaurant. It will still be a takeout place. I should have asked if they plan to build another cinder block shack in the parking lot or if they'll use Catinella's old kitchen.

Even though M&M is only open four days a week, it's been a favorite of mine and of others for years. I root for their success, especially in light of a tragic hardship a couple of years back. When I drive past, I often roll down the windows to get a whiff of whatever is cooking, even at 5:20 a.m.

My wife and I wanted to pick up some BBQ on Father's Day after work. M&M is closed on Sundays so we thought of a place on Walker Springs Road that I've been meaning to try. Turns out that Pup's BBQ is closed Sundays too. Although I understand why they would want the day off (like Chick-fil-A), I wonder if either place considered being open on Sundays and closed another day instead. This wasn't the first time that I wanted some BBQ from M&M on a Sunday.

Since we had driven to Pup's only to find them closed, we went around the corner to the Buddy's Bar-B-Q on Kingston Pike to get our takeout. I knew we were having chocolate trifle for dessert, so I ordered the turkey instead of the pork. I was disappointed to find that the turkey was cold and sliced thin like the processed deli meat available in supermarkets. I was hoping for something more like the pulled chicken at M&M. I microwaved it and doused it with sauce before eating it.

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Tuesday, June 17, 2008

don't get dumb

The battle at the multiplexes this weekend will be between "Get Smart" and "The Love Guru." It's very unusual for two comedies to open at the same time. Both have been heavily hyped almost everywhere you turn. Mike Myers promoted "The Love Guru" on "American Idol," the MTV Movie Awards and elsewhere. The cast of "Get Smart" is in one of the ads that remind you to silence your cell phone in the movie theatre.

Trailers for both films have been running for months. If you haven't caught them yet, click here and here. I feel that I've already seen as much of "The Love Guru" as I care to. However I'm left wanting more "Get Smart." Based on the trailers alone, my wife wants everyone to get out and "vote" for "Get Smart" this weekend by buying a ticket. Who's with us?

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Monday, June 16, 2008

line drive

The idea of the great American road trip appeals to me. I thought that the guys who visited forty-eight states in five days missed out on seeing anything beyond the "(State Name) Welcomes You" signs. When my family and I drove from Burbank to Knoxville, we covered roughly one state per day because we allowed time for a little sightseeing along the way.

A cool road trip starts tonight in Seattle. Josh Robbins will attempt to see a baseball game in all thirty major league ballparks in only twenty-seven days. Perry Simon linked to this article about it in his column on Josh has a website where we can track his progress. To pull it off, he will have to double up a few times. On June 21, he will go to Chavez Ravine for a day game and to San Diego that night. On July 9, he'll be at both Yankee Stadium and Shea Stadium in New York. The schedule for July 10 takes Josh to Philadelphia and D.C. He hits his last two stadia on July 11 in Chicago and Milwaukee. I guess I'll have to read his trip blog to find out why the schedule looks like he'll be done in twenty-six days instead of twenty-seven. Because the trip is arranged around the teams' schedules, he'll be doing some backtracking as is shown in this animated map.

It's funny to me that Josh is a Yankees fan but will only see them once on his road trip. Meanwhile he'll see my favorite team, the Mets, three times. The Cubs, the Nationals, the Cardinals, the Tigers, the Marlins, the Phillies and the Reds also show up three times on his schedule. He'll see the Giants four times.

If I counted right, I've been to major league games in ten ballparks, not counting a spring training game in Florida. After the impending closures in New York, six of my ten ballparks will be gone. I've been to Shea Stadium, Yankee Stadium, Memorial Stadium in Baltimore, Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia, Wrigley Field in Chicago, Candlestick Park in San Francisco, Dodgers Stadium in Los Angeles, Angels Stadium in Anaheim, RFK Stadium in D.C. and Miller Park in Milwaukee. I showed you my list, now you show me yours.

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Sunday, June 15, 2008

trifle eyefull

The brownie was too dry, my wife thought as she crumbled it into a large glass bowl last night. She was making a chocolate trifle for Father's Day. She wondered if it was because she substituted Splenda Sugar Blend for real sugar. Or maybe the recipe she got from Hershey's Cocoa should list a slightly shorter cooking time.

A layer of chocolate mousse went on top of the brownies. It was made from Nestle's European Style Mousse Mix. That was topped with some store-brand fat-free whipped topping and a crumbled Heath bar. All that was repeated for a second set of layers. The bowl sat in the refrigerator for 24 hours. We thought the layers would smush together but they stayed fairly separate. We each had some for dessert tonight with a little bit of sugar-free Jell-O pudding (not pictured) thrown on top for extra moisture.

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Saturday, June 14, 2008

did you mean lookalike?

Before writing Thursday's post, I Googled the word hookalike and got only nine results, most of which were typos for "lookalike." There was only one tiny reference that was similar to mine. As of today, there are ten results. My site is listed second!

When I saw myself in the list, I tried clicking on "similar pages" to see what Google thought was related to my site. Here are the highlights of what they came up with:
There's one site on their list that I won't include here. It's got a bunch of Asian characters and the words "Credit Card." Why is it in my results? Because it has the same URL that my friend Bean used for his first blog. He posted every day for ten months and then deleted his blog, which is too bad because it was quite good and it would have been fun to re-read. Somebody swooped in and grabbed his user name and Blogspot address. After a year-long hiatus, Bean resumed blogging at his new site, Strongly Worded Letter.

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Friday, June 13, 2008

let perpetual light shine upon them

Tim Russert always reminded me of my father a little bit. There was a slight resemblance in the shape of their faces. Of course there are more differences than similarities but as I watched the sad news about Russert's untimely death today, I could only think of what they had in common. They were both journalists. They both worked for a governor of New York State. They were both proud of their Irish heritage. They both were loyal fans of their favorite NFL teams. They both loved politics. They were both Catholic and both Jesuit-educated. They both collapsed on the job and they both died in Washington, DC at too young an age. My deep sympathy and condolences go to Tim's family and friends.

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Thursday, June 12, 2008

pretty woman

Here's one for the Urban Dictionary. A young lady attended a recent church ceremony wearing a dress that was more appropriate for a nightclub. At least I think it was a dress. It was closer to a teddy. I've seen swimsuits that were less revealing. My daughter's friends have a funny word to describe a girl dressed that way. They called her a "hookalike."

I had a couple of possible blog topics rattling around in my brain during my son's swim meet tonight. I settled on this one (and assembled the first paragraph in my head) as we sat in a restaurant afterwards. My wife and I were having a fun conversation with another couple about our experiences at different parishes. They laughed when we told them about the hookalike. In a cool coincidence, when I got home I discovered a comment on yesterday's post from the author of a blog called Wordlustitude. It's full of funny made-up words similar to hookalike. Forget the Urban Dictionary. Now I want to see hookalike on Wordlustitude.

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Wednesday, June 11, 2008

hoping for the movie

TV Squad is showing the love to "Arrested Development" this week. I just spent 22 minutes watching one of the episodes they featured in their Retro Squad department. They started on Monday with a review of the pilot and continued with a top ten list of recurring characters and the top five GOB moments.

I can get in the mood for the Bluths pretty easily. "Arrested Development" was a frequent blog topic of mine back in 2005. I often flip over to HDNet to catch a commercial-free rerun at 12:30 p.m. in high definition. Even if I turn it on late, I can jump right back into any of the complicated plotlines.

The other day I revised my wish list. I replaced the separate entries for the DVDs of each season with the complete set. It's more cost-effective to buy all three seasons together. With the episodes available on, I may not need the DVDs but I still have an urge to collect them.

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Tuesday, June 10, 2008

not the pooch!

The new mini-series on the Discovery Channel has my inner child counting the minutes until the next episode. I am loving "When We Left Earth: The NASA Missions." They have lots of NASA film footage that I've never seen before. And it's all been remastered for HD. The two episodes that were on this past Sunday covered the Mercury and Gemini missions. Like most people, I am primarily interested in the Apollo flights, which will be featured next Sunday.

There seem to be relatively few commercial breaks, unless you count the whole show as an ad for the DVD set. Maybe if you buy the set, you won't be subjected to the promotional announcements on the bottom third of the screen. At least once the graphic obscured something important in the show. A military helicopter was struggling to rescue both Gus Grissom and his Liberty Bell 7 capsule. The NASA footage showed the helicopter trying to lift the water-filled capsule. Near the climactic moment, the spacecraft was behind a big blue bar promoting the Discovery Channel's mobile phone website. Lame.

If you missed the first two episodes on Sunday, you can get caught up on Saturday.

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Monday, June 09, 2008

hold you in parentheses

Thanks to Google, I now know that the song stuck in my head since Saturday is "I Love You Period" by Dan Baird. Dan who? Apparently he used to be in The Georgia Satellites. My wife and I enjoyed hearing it at a wedding reception as the mother of the groom danced with her son. Before the song ended, her other three sons joined them for a rollicking kick line.

Because my wife was the soloist at the wedding, I got to tag along with her to the rehearsal dinner on Friday. One of the groom's brothers got everyone's attention as he popped a VHS tape (remember those?) in the machine. Soon the big screen was filled with Bob Barker's face. It turns out that the groom was a contestant on "The Price Is Right" about seven or eight years ago. He didn't win. He didn't even come close. His bids were way lower than anyone else's. I told him he was guessing Knoxville prices in a Los Angeles world.

The next day we were at the church an hour before the ceremony. While my wife rehearsed with the excellent accompanist, I wandered around and chatted with Fr. Ragan Schriver. He hadn't heard about the groom's appearance on "The Price Is Right" but knew that he could use it. I filled in the few details I knew, which prompted him to revise his homily and make it the third of his famous three things. The groom turned a little red and dropped his face into his hands. The congregation loved it.

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Sunday, June 08, 2008

just a Broadway baby

The Tony Awards are a week from tonight. I thought they had already passed until I saw a listing for them in the "What to Watch" column in Entertainment Weekly.

In my entire life I've only seen two shows on Broadway and one of them shouldn't count. My high school prom date and I went to see a legitimate play called "Whose Life Is It Anyway?" It wasn't very funny and there was no sign of Colin Mochrie or Ryan Stiles. My first Broadway experience came when my parents gave me a pair of tickets to "Beatlemania" for my birthday. I had asked for the tickets because of the constant commercials on New York television. It's more of a concert than a play. Worse yet, I bought the original cast album.

At a recent family reunion, I met a precocious relative who has already seen about twenty-five shows on Broadway. He reads and and The New York Times for theater reviews. Oh yeah, he's only eleven years old. Nothing I could write here would do him justice. Instead please enjoy a nine minute podcast interview with him. Like me, you can listen to him in slack-jawed amazement.

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Saturday, June 07, 2008

comedy conundrum

If the world's worst comedian makes me laugh every single time I hear him, shouldn't that make him the world's best comedian? Not in the case of Sam Meneshian, the Armenian Comedian. I laugh at him but not for the reasons he wants. His jokes are consistently off-target. I find his failed efforts, many of which are chronicled at, to be hysterical. Sam was a fixture on the Kevin & Bean show before I worked there and continues to be to this day. Jimmy Kimmel has put him on "The Man Show" and his late-night talk show.

Brilliant comics like Andy Kaufman, Sacha Baron Cohen and Robin Williams have created characters that attempt to be what Sam Meneshian is in real life. He tries very hard to become famous without putting any effort into improving his jokes, his singing, his ventriloquism, or his balloon animals. I'm not too sure about his hair-cutting skills either.

The Armenian Comedian's familiar face flashed on my TV screen yesterday while I was watching the previous night's episode of "Last Comic Standing." They ran a quick montage of terrible auditionees and promised to count down their ten worst. I knew that Sam deserved a place in the top three but didn't think they would show him since he had not yet turned up in any audition footage. Numbers 10 through 2 were gradually revealed during the course of the two hour program. They were all comics whose auditions had been shown in the first three episodes of this season. At the very end of the show, they revealed that the number 1 worst audition was, in fact, by Sam Meneshian.

He tried to make something under a bandanna disappear but loudly dropped the object. He took off his shirt and pretended to inflate his stomach by blowing into his finger. Finally, he dropped his ventriloquism dummy while trying to put a live microphone in front of the dummy. Yes, in front of the dummy! In typical fashion, Sam had told the KROQ crew that his audition would be shown next week. As a result, they all missed it on Thursday. My friend Bean asked if I could send him the audio clip for them to play on Monday morning.

Sam is utterly clueless. When he returned from the Miami audition, he said that his audition had gone great. He probably misconstrued the reaction of that week's talent scouts (two guys from "30 Rock"), who stood and applauded the failure of the ventriloquism part of his act. Maybe there's something wrong with the part of his brain that detects sarcasm.

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Friday, June 06, 2008

hot now

Happy National Doughnut Day! You can get a free one at Krispy Kreme just for stopping by today. I'm posting earlier than usual in case you happen to read this in time to go get yours.

It's been about a year and a half since my last visit to the famous doughnut shop. And that time I didn't get anything. Today, my intention was to get a glazed chocolate cake doughnut for free. Those were sold out so I had to look for my second choice, glazed sour cream. I asked the lady behind the counter to identify the doughnuts in one tray . She said they were glazed pumpkin spice. What about this other tray, I asked. She said they were also glazed pumpkin spice even though they looked very different to me. I chose the one that I thought might be a glazed sour cream despite what the clerk had said. I won't know if I was right for several days because I brought the doughnut home, put it in a Ziploc bag and stuck it in the refrigerator where it will wait until I can spare the calories. I'm not eating it today because there's supposed to be cake at the party my wife and I are going to tonight. Mmm.. cake.

The Bearden Krispy Kreme has a narrow red ramp to the window so you can watch the doughnuts being made. If I ate there regularly, there's no way I would fit on the ramp.

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Thursday, June 05, 2008


The news about Ed McMahon's financial troubles has him and his family in my thoughts. I once went to his house with a digital tape recorder for him to voice the intro to a Kevin & Bean Christmas album. We recorded his segment in the same den that was shown on "Access Hollywood" last night. I loved seeing all his photographs and memorabilia. Ed is especially fond of the toy trains that ride on tracks suspended from the ceiling.

I moved to Burbank just before Johnny Carson's retirement. I wish I could have seen a taping of the "real" Tonight Show with Johnny and Ed but all the tickets were long gone. Because of his other projects, Ed was always accessible to the local media. Just as you would expect, he is a great sport. We had several interactions with him while I was at KROQ. He let us dress him up in the grunge attire of the day so he could introduce Henry Rollins' performance on stage at the Weenie Roast. Another time he wore his suit and tie so we could videotape him on the beach with Jenny McCarthy. My wife and I ended up sitting at the same table as Ed and his wife Pam at Kevin Ryder's wedding reception. Best of all was the time Ed flew several of us and our wives to Orlando for a remote broadcast from Walt Disney World. Kevin & Bean were there to make a guest appearance on "Star Search." I've always regretted the time I had the flu and was too sick to attend Ed's birthday party. Especially since I had already bought a gift.

"Access Hollywood" had an update tonight. I didn't get home in time to see Ed and his wife on "Larry King Live." Did you?

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Wednesday, June 04, 2008

feet in the air like you just don't care

Back in the olden days, we would look in the newspaper to see what movies were playing at our local theaters. Yesterday my son and I watched Roeper & Phillips (or whatever it's called) and then wanted to check the opening dates for some upcoming movies like "Get Smart." Nowadays, we go to the Internet for movie times and locations.

I already had a million tabs open on my laptop and was in the middle of researching yesterday's blog entry. Since my TiVo is also connected to the Internet, it was easy to use it instead. On the list of movies opening this weekend was one we've heard nothing about. It's called "Miss Conception" starring Heather Graham. From the trailer, you can tell that it's a biological clock comedy and that it won't win any awards. Not even for Heather's fake British accent. My son and I laughed when we saw that TiVo had it listed as a "horror" film. Maybe they've already seen it.

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Tuesday, June 03, 2008

mass, public, interpersonal

One of my former professors from George Mason University was in town over the weekend. Dan Rainey was the faculty adviser for WGMU radio during the time I was station manager. In addition, he taught at least three of the 300 and 400 level communication classes I took. When I mentioned it over lunch on Saturday, Dan joked that every time he turned around, there I was.

Although he still does some teaching (now at SMU), Dan's day job is at the National Mediation Board where he is Director of the Office of Alternative Dispute Resolution.

Dan has been interested in conflict resolution for a long time. In a previous job, he spoke about the representation of Arabs in American media. At lunch, Dan told us a little about Irish political murals. He said we should try to get to DC this summer when some well-known muralists will be in town for an art show.

We talked a little bit about some of my former classmates who were also Dan's students. I mentioned that Debby Girvan had run for mayor of Fredericksburg. Unfortunately she didn't win.

Another topic, albeit brief, was radio and the changes the business has undergone in DC and elsewhere. I forgot to show Dan the picture of a WGMU satin jacket that my daughter saw in a thrift shop. She thought it was tacky funny enough to buy it for less than a dollar. The name "Sportiette" is stitched on the front. I hung it in a closet with a blue WAVA satin jacket and a purple Carpenters satin jacket with the name "Kevin" stitched on the front. I'm ready for Halloween.

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Monday, June 02, 2008

animal instinct

The Body Farm turned up on my radar again last night when I caught a few minutes of "Nature" on our local hi-def PBS station. I plan to record the whole show when it is repeated on Thursday on channel 15-1.

The "Crime Scene Creatures" episode is about animals and plants that offer clues to forensic investigators. Footage shot at the Body Farm included some raccoons filmed with night vision cameras. Apparently when raccoons find a corpse or carcass, they make a hole in the skin, giving flies an inviting target to lay their eggs. Once the eggs hatch, the raccoons return to feast on the maggots.

A couple of you have graciously emailed me the link to a profile of Dr. Bill Bass on The first several chapters serve as a good introduction to beginners. I especially liked chapters 9, 10 and 11 in which the author takes a short forensic anthropology course and visits the Body Farm.

In other forensic "news," I watched "Bones" tonight as promised. It wasn't bad although I got a little distracted by the obvious green-screen shots when the main characters were supposed to be sitting on a bench on the National Mall.

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Sunday, June 01, 2008

habit forming

In his homily this morning, Fr. Michael Woods quoted from Terry Mattingly's syndicated religion column, which was in yesterday's News Sentinel. It's not yet available online, but should turn up on Mattingly's site soon.

The headline of the column says it all: "Catholics, evangelicals see sins in different light." A survey by Ellison Research says that 100 percent of evangelical Protestants believe adultery is sinful but only 82 percent of Catholics agree. Similarly more evangelicals than Catholics believed racism (96% to 79%), premarital sex (92% to 47%), and abortion (94% to 74%) were sins. Naturally one must wonder which Catholics were polled. If you asked only the people I know, Catholics would have scored much higher.

The survey defined Catholics as someone who attends Mass at least once a month or more. Evangelicals were defined as Protestants who believed in statements such as "the Bible is the written word of God and is totally accurate in all that it teaches." I'm fine with the way the pollsters identified evangelicals but not so sure about the way they chose their Catholics.

Let's say that a survey respondent went to the minimum one Mass a month. That's 12 Masses and 40 misses per year or a 23% attendance record. A "passing grade" of 70% would require a churchgoer to show up at least 3 times a month. I think they would have gotten a more accurate idea of Catholic opinions if they had asked respondents to say whether or not they believed in Church doctrine like transubstantiation and the Immaculate Conception, etc.

I once won a small prize for knowing my Catholicism. My wife and I were at a performance of "Late Nite Catechism" in Los Angeles. "Sister" asked if any of us knew the meaning of the Immaculate Conception. I told the class audience that we celebrate the conception of Mary, not Jesus, on December 8. The conception of Jesus is marked by the Feast of the Annunciation on March 25. Both dates are nine months before the celebrations of the respective births. I got a little plastic statue of Mary. Thanks Sister!

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