Sunday, May 31, 2009

backstage with the Bible

Here's an email and my reply:
Hey Frank,

I remember some time ago you doing a little song about the Ten Commandments that was to the tune of Burger King's "Have It Your Way" jingle. I really liked it and I have been looking on your blog but could not find it. Could you send me the lyrics or a link if you can? That would be great. I want to use it at summer Bible school.

Anthony H.


Hi Anthony,

As I recall, I had posted the lyrics to the Star 102.1 website rather than my own. Unfortunately it looks like the station site doesn't have archives that old. I will take a look for it in my files.

Thanks for listening,

The segment Anthony wants to hear is from October 12, 2007. A news story about more people knowing the ingredients of a Big Mac than the Ten Commandments prompted me to say that it might be more evenly matched if the Commandments also had a catchy jingle. Marc & Kim challenged me to make one up. The Burger King Whopper jingle gave me more to work with, so I used it instead. They were surprised that it only took me an hour. I felt that Wayne Brady could have done better in a minute. Take a listen and tell me what you think. Will it be heard at Vacation Bible School?

Ten Commandments jingle
(to the tune of "hold the pickle hold the lettuce")

No false gods, no name in vain
Or you'll have eternal pain
All we ask is that you follow His holy way

Keep the Sabbath like no other
Honor your father and your mother
All we ask is that you follow His holy way

No killing, cheating, stealing, lying
You'll regret it when you're dying
All we ask is that you follow His holy way

Last of all you should not covet
Life's important, you should love it
All we ask is that you follow His holy way

Live it His way, His holy Way
Live it His way, His holy Way!

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Saturday, May 30, 2009

chai there

Blog reader Cassie was disappointed that there weren't any photos in my post about the grand opening of Menchie's Frozen Yogurt at Turkey Creek. My wife, our son and I made a return visit to Menchie's after we saw the spectacular movie "Up" on Thursday night. This time, I had the camera.

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Friday, May 29, 2009


"Up" is not a children's movie. It is a tearjerking, tenderhearted comedy that will resonate most with the middle-aged and the elderly. It is also a masterpiece of film making and of storytelling. My teenage son loved it too. He put "Up"in his top 3 of all Pixar movies, which means that either "Toy Story," "Monsters, Inc." or "The Incredibles" has to drop to number 4.

My wife, our son and I saw a preview screening of the movie last night at the Regal Pinnacle Stadium 18. Fortunately, I knew very little about the plot beforehand, which meant I was constantly surprised by the twists and turns of the tale. The review in USA Today yesterday indicated that there was an amazing montage at the beginning of the movie. They undersold it. The exquisite encapsulation of the life of curmudgeon Carl Fredricksen was so moving that I found myself laughing, crying and everything in between. Those eight minutes are as good a love story as any film I can remember.

However "Up" couldn't hold the attention of some of the youngest kids in the audience last night. They simply didn't have the life experience to appreciate the heartwarming and heartbreaking aspects of Carl's relationship with his precious wife. The television ads emphasize that the movie is "funny, funny, funny." It would be more accurate to say "funny, sad, exciting." I was reminded of the trailer for "Miracle on 34th Street," in which the studio executives didn't know how to market a movie that hits the full range of emotions.

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Thursday, May 28, 2009

ella ella ella

Every time I hear Rihanna's song "Umbrella," I'm reminded of an acoustic cover version I heard a couple of months ago when my wife and I were shopping at Kohl's. I actually liked the acoustic version better. No offense to Rihanna, who now has her own line of umbrellas from Totes. I meant to do a little Google research when I got home and kept forgetting. Until now.

My best guess is that the song we heard over the speakers at Kohl's was by Marié Digby. She has a YouTube channel and pages on Facebook and MySpace. I guess I'm a little late coming to the party, since Marié's cover of "Umbrella" has over 13 million views. My son and I also enjoyed her cover of Linkin Park's "What I've Done." Marié is described as another YouTube sensation, not unlike Julia Nunes, who my wife and I met last month.

In a recent video, Julia mentioned that her Knoxville audiences were "packed with the friendliest people who gave me cake and marshmallow guns and a zombie crocheted version of myself. It was insane!" Last year Julia was the opening act for four shows with Ben Folds. In the middle of those four shows, he went off to play at Bonnaroo. This year Julia will be performing at Bonnaroo and returning to The Square Room in Knoxville just before that. According to her latest video, she needs to choose a local opening act for her June 9th gig and is open to suggestions.

Ben Folds was mentioned in USA Today on Wednesday. The article was about the increase in popularity of a cappella groups on college campuses. He put out an album of his songs that were covered by 14 different student a cappella groups. It's called "Ben Folds Presents: University A Cappella!" The article also has me wanting to read a book titled "Perfect Pitch: The Quest for Collegiate A Cappella Glory" by Mickey Rapkin. I'll start by reading his blog.

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Wednesday, May 27, 2009


Ten states remain on my quest to visit all 50. I'm hope to cross three more off my list this summer. My wife and I are making plans to head to Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine during our next vacation.

Last week when we were at Calhoun's, we had a waitress who was from Maine. She moved from there to Florida and then to Tennessee. She suggested we visit the L.L. Bean store in Freeport. When I looked it up in my AAA Tourbook, I was surprised to learn it's open 24 hours a day.

My mother suggested we go to Red's Eats in Wiscasset, which she learned about on a PBS show called "Sandwiches That You Will Like." Red's is famous for its lobster rolls and is a short walk from The Musical Wonder House. My wife would like to see their collection of music boxes. I'm not sure I want to pay the $20 for the one-hour "Full House Presentation." Their three-hour "Grand House Presentation" costs $45. I may wait at Red's while she takes the tour.

We will probably go to the Ben & Jerry's factory in Vermont and someplace that makes maple syrup. We're still looking for a fun destination in New Hampshire. Any suggestions?

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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

sweating the details

The long holiday weekend gave me the opportunity to see two recent movies. Well, technically my son and I saw "Terminator Salvation" on Thursday night at the Regal Riviera. I liked the way the chase scenes and fight scenes were easier to follow than many of the action movies I've seen recently. As usual, I tried not to drink too much so that I wouldn't have to go to the bathroom during either film. (Thanks for the link, Bean!)

"Star Trek" was easily the best movie I have seen in a while. We saw it at the often overlooked Carmike Wynnsong. The seats are almost as comfortable as those at the newer Regal Cinemas. However unlike the Regal Pinnacle, every screen at Carmike offers DLP. However I recently read that Regal plans to install Sony's 4K digital projection system at all its theaters.

There seemed to be more commercials before the trailers at Carmike than at Regal. An ad for Axe Dry was very funny in a Farrelly brothers sort of way. A spot for Dove Body Wash showed some attractive body parts in an effort to be sexy but the ad was about as sultry as a segment on "The View." The combination of ads made me think that someday R-rated commercials will be shown before certain movies.

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Monday, May 25, 2009

service providers

While we pause to remember the true meaning of Memorial Day, let us also acknowledge that the holiday weekend gives many people a chance to get together with family and friends. My wife and I attended one such gathering on Saturday. It was a surprise birthday party for a friend from church.

The food at the party was impressive. We arrived as the staff from Rosa's Catering was putting the finishing touches on the food trays. Naturally, the dark-chocolate-covered strawberries caught my eye first.

As good as those looked and tasted, I was even more curious about the work that went into a tray of sliced vegetables served in hollowed-out cucumbers. I looked for them on Rosa's cocktail buffet menu to figure out what they are called. My best guess is that they fall under the "Crudités Nouveau" umbrella. Was I supposed to eat just the carrot and pepper slices? Because I ate the cucumber too.

A savory offering that looked like a cake was delicious. The menu describes it as a "Goat Cheese Torta with Sun-Dried Tomato and Pesto." We spread some on a pita chip. I love the taste of sun-dried tomatoes.

There was real cake too. Not just one but two tasty treats. They said that the one on the left had rum in it. Which reminds me, one of these days I want to have a piece of authentic Bacardi Rum Cake like my mother used to make.

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Sunday, May 24, 2009

change for twenty

Fr. Eric Andrews of John XXIII University Parish has a great new job. He is headed to Los Angeles to become president of Paulist Productions. Like the epistler they are named for, the Paulist Fathers specialize in communication. Before becoming a priest, Fr. Eric interned with The Jim Henson Company. I interviewed him on the radio after reading about the "Muppet priest" in the News Sentinel. In a column to UT students, Fr. Eric wrote that the Paulists have nominated his replacement, subject to the bishop's approval. John XXIII and Immaculate Conception are parishes in the Diocese of Knoxville but are staffed by Paulist priests rather than by diocesan priests.

During the time that Knoxville was without a bishop, Fr. Al Humbrecht served as diocesan administrator. Only a very few priest reassignments are made by a diocesan administrator. Fr. Al was forced to make some decisions when Fr. Vann Johnston was named Bishop of Springfield - Cape Girardeau. Now that Bishop Richard Stika has arrived in Knoxville, a relatively large number of priests are getting ready to move on August 1.

The list of new assignments was released this past week. There must have been quite a backlog. I wondered if the many changes were made entirely by the new bishop or if they were the recommendations of Fr. Al and other diocesan officials. A little bit of both, was the answer I got from a parish priest I saw Saturday. He also told me that a domino effect was set in motion by the retirement of Fr. Joe Brando from St. Jude in Chattanooga.

My parish, All Saints Church loses one priest but gains two. Fr. Augustine Idra is leaving All Saints to go to Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Chattanooga. He will also be chaplain of Notre Dame High School. He will be greatly missed both for his spirituality and his fun-loving Chicken Dance at parish functions.

Fr. Tony Dickerson leaves NDHS to make a welcome return to Knoxville. He made a good impression on Bishop Stika as the master of ceremonies of the bishop's ordination in March. His new duties are three-fold: associate pastor at All Saints, co-chaplain at Knoxville Catholic High School and master of ceremonies for the bishop and diocesan events. All Saints pastor Fr. Michael Woods will be the other KCHS co-chaplain. All Saints is just across the parking lot from the high school, making it easy for Fr. Michael to minister to the students when Fr. Tony is traveling around the diocese with the bishop. From what I know of Bishop Stika and Fr. Tony, they are both regular guys who will probably get along great, especially at sporting events.

Fr. Antonio Giraldo, a native of Colombia, comes to All Saints from St. Thérèse of Lisieux in Cleveland. Since the parish town hall meeting, I have been anticipating the arrival of a Spanish-speaking priest. I think a Spanish Mass will be added fairly quickly after his arrival. The luxury of having four priests (the three I've mentioned plus Fr. Ragan Schriver) at one parish comes with a bit of a price. The priests of All Saints will have to take turns making the long drive to Scott County each Saturday to celebrate the 5:30 p.m. Mass at St. Jude in Helenwood.

A couple of other priests I know have new jobs too. When Bishop Johnston left for Missouri, Fr. Al appointed Fr. David Boettner as moderator of the curia. Fr. David described it as being a pastor to those who work for the diocese. At the time, Fr. David retained his position as pastor of St. Thomas the Apostle in Lenoir City. Bishop Stika has now reassigned Fr. David to be a priest in residence at Sacred Heart Cathedral, which is conveniently located right next door to the Chancery. Fr. Michael Maples leaves Sacred Heart to become associate pastor at St. Thérèse of Lisieux, replacing Fr. Antonio.

Fr. John Arthur Orr is known for wearing a cassock almost everywhere he goes. He is also known for celebrating Mass in Latin at his current parish, St. Therese in Clinton. His affinity for the more traditional makes me think he will especially enjoy his new assignment at Holy Ghost Church, which celebrated its 100th anniversary last year.

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Saturday, May 23, 2009

stabba-slabba do

When the lovely Carol Bass invited us to lunch, I thought it might be fun to go someplace that had bones on the menu. Her husband is, of course, the renowned forensic anthropologist Dr. Bill Bass. My wife, our son and I met Dr. and Mrs. Bass at Calhoun's on Bearden Hill. We had a great visit, mostly talking about mutual friends and about my son's experience at college so far.

The talk of college led Dr. Bass to ask if I had seen the Washington Post's favorable review of "Bones of Betrayal." The column was written by a professor at my alma mater, George Mason University. I told him that Jon Jefferson had emailed me a link to it. Jon is the co-author of several books with Dr. Bass.

The mention of Jon's name reminded me of the anecdote that had prompted me to suggest Calhoun's in the first place. Dr. Bass was happy to use the bones from my son's order of ribs to demonstrate how a knife leaves marks during a stabbing.

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Friday, May 22, 2009

and three in Crossville

A 16-second video on Facebook got me laughing last night. It combines local news and dancing in a different way than the recent "Star 102.1's Dancing with the Knoxville Stars."

Eric Foxx may be everyone's favorite person at WBIR. He's the floor manager for "Live at Five at Four." I see him there every time Einstein Simplified appears on the show. He's there every time I go to the Children's Hospital Telethon. He's also there every year at Boomsday when I stop by the pre-fireworks broadcast.

Brittany Bailey
introduced herself to me on St. Patrick's Day. She and Alison Morrow had stopped by Patrick Sullivan's just as our improv show was ending. She promised to come back to catch a performance from the beginning some day.

The video I'm enjoying so much is on WBIR's Facebook page. It shows Brittany and Foxxy getting their "Let's Groove" on during a commercial break. It reminded me of some mostly deleted YouTube videos from a TV station in Philadelphia. They used to have a segment called "Mascot Monday," in which local costumed characters danced with Jennaphr Frederick. Let's try to convince WBIR to add such a feature to "Live at Five at Four."

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Thursday, May 21, 2009

panic in the parlours

Some rainy weather over the weekend caused me to check my pool's skimmer more often. At one point, I lifted the lid and saw two floating toads. The rain seems to wash critters into the pool every year. Thinking they were dead, I avoided touching them as I reached in and pulled up the basket

Fortunately, they were still alive! I held the basket under the eaves of the garage and let rainwater wash over the toads to rinse the chlorine off them. By the way, Sam's Club jacked up the price of chlorine tablets to $100 for a 40 pound bucket. Anyhow, the toads perked up and I took pictures before releasing them into the woods.

These little fellas got me thinking. I like frogs but I prefer the subset of toads and I like turtles but I prefer the subset of tortoises.

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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

game on

How many times did my wife and I vote for Adam Lambert on "American Idol" last night? We lost count.

I was working from 8 to 10 p.m. and didn't know which phone number was for Adam and which was for little Kris Allen and his George Jetson mouth. I had enough of a break to make a quick phone call. When I got through on the 01 number, I expected the recorded voice to tell me for which contestant I had cast my blind ballot. All it said was "thanks for voting for contestant one; watch American Idol tomorrow on Fox; sponsored in part by AT&T."

Worried that I had voted for the wrong guy, I scrolled through the contact list on my phone looking for someone who would have been paying attention. My goddaughter is a huge fan of "Idol," so I called her and asked which numbers were for which singer. The odd numbers were for Adam.

Later while we watched the show on our DVR, my wife and I sat there like a couple of tweens with our cell phones voting for Adam. It was much too easy to get through on his lines, which made us vote all the more. As of late last night, had Kris leading by a slight margin. Of course that was before the Glambert-loving West Coast fans had a chance to call.

Adam performed like a professional while Kris looked like a talented amateur and not just because of his creepy mustache. My wife said that Adam had more vocal control and an incredible range. He played to the audience better than Kris too. The difference was most notable on the horrible song that Kara DioGuardi co-wrote for them both to sing.

Win or lose, Adam will be fine. He's guaranteed a successful career either way. In a way I'm reminded of the year that Ruben Studdard defeated Clay Aiken. In the time since then, Clay has had a more impressive career. At the time I wanted Ruben to win but in hindsight I think Clay deserved the title.

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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

crazy like a

It's almost become a tradition for me to watch the Fox upfront presentation at WTNZ. I always enjoy the opportunity to see a preview of the upcoming fall season.

The show that got the most attention was "Glee." I've been hearing about it a lot lately, including yesterday afternoon on NPR. Something did confuse me, however. "Glee" seems like a perfect fit for the timeslot after "American Idol." In fact, it will get a preview in that slot tonight. However in the Fall, it will follow "So You Think You Can Dance." When "Idol" returns next Winter, it will be followed by "Past Life" and "Human Target."

Other than "Glee," the Fall series that got the most attention was a comedy with Michael Strahan called "Brothers." Another comedy called "Sons of Tucson" looked a little more promising to me. Usually the show I like best is the first one canceled.

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Monday, May 18, 2009

community swing

The Brad Walker Orchestra rocked the Kerbela Temple on Saturday night. Brad, whose grandfather was Cas Walker's cousin, invited me to attend the swing dance party during our conversation at "Star 102.1's Dancing with the Knoxville Stars." I would have gone just to hear the big band music, however after my participation in the contest, I promised my wife that I would attempt to learn some social dancing skills. I need more lessons.

Most of the chairs were taken when we arrived. We found a table with some room and introduced ourselves to the people already there. The couple next to us was Tony and Joan DeDominick. As it turns out, Tony teaches dance courses on Wednesday nights through the University of Tennessee Outreach & Continuing Education program. He suggested we take his lessons but they conflict with my wife's choir practice.

One of the first songs we heard was "Sing, Sing, Sing," a favorite of mine. I quickly realized that I was in way over my head on the dance floor. During the "Tennessee Waltz," I wanted to stay in one place with my little box step. We got bumped repeatedly by others traveling around the floor.

We saw a few familiar faces. Charlie and Jackie Goodreau both take lessons at Academy Ballroom and they've come to several Einstein Simplified shows. Jackie asked me to dance and helped me with the foxtrot and the traveling part of the waltz. She said she could tell I was very tense. Jackie also suggested I check out some of the instructional dance videos offered by Comcast On Demand. Academy Ballroom owner Richard Bull and his wife were in the crowd too.

Radio personality Eddie Beacon sat at a table across the dance floor. He was using a laptop with a webcam to offer live streaming video of the event. He told me about where anybody can do the same. I saw Brad and Eddie today as they were recording their weekend radio show with Marshal Andy on WKTI. Brad said the orchestra will be at the Temple again soon. Sounds like a plan.

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Sunday, May 17, 2009

popular culture

Menchie's Frozen Yogurt celebrated its grand opening in Knoxville this weekend. My wife and I stopped by the new Turkey Creek location for a taste on Saturday. Local franchisee Bruce Smythe introduced us to Danna Caldwell, who founded the company and her sister Shir Balas, who handles marketing. Danna (pronounced Donna) is the mensch who gave the store its name. Menchie is her husband's nickname for her.

Frozen yogurt has become fashionable again in Southern California. Some chains, like Pinkberry, specialize in tart flavors. Menchie's offers both tart and sweet yogurt. The ratio varies by locale. Danna opened her first store in Valley Village. When we told her we had lived in Burbank, she happily described the location of her store there and her other San Fernando Valley locations.

The customers serve themselves at Menchies. You pick a flavor or a mixture of flavors and then add your own choice of toppings. The cashier puts your finished concoction on a scale by the register, where you pay 44 cents per ounce. Trying to be concise, I said on the air Friday that they charge you by weight. Oops.

I mixed dark chocolate and island banana yogurts in my cup. My wife said it might be a good idea for me to try mixing the dark chocolate with tart pomegranate next time. I had intended to top my frozen yogurt only with fruit however all the other choices proved irresistible. I was especially intrigued by some rice thingies called mochi that were like miniature marshmallows. Danna said they had no taste themselves but picked up the flavors surrounding them. Afterwards, we remembered hearing about mochi last summer on "I Survived a Japanese Game Show." The contestants tried to eat the most mochi balls while riding tricycles.

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Saturday, May 16, 2009


For two days each year Seth Linkous is the producer of the Marc & Kim and Frank show. He gets us through the annual Star 102.1 Radiothon for East Tennessee Children's Hospital. His real job is in the Community Relations department at the hospital. When we had the opportunity to broadcast from the Children's Miracle Network Celebration at Walt Disney World, Seth put his producer hat on again.

Yesterday, during the second day of the Radiothon, Seth asked me if I had looked at the pictures on my camera yet. He didn't realize I had already posted some in that day's blog entry. Seth used my camera to take a picture of me with three of the news anchors from WBIR on Thursday.

This was not the first time Seth has used my camera. While in Florida, I asked him to get some photos of me with Children's Miracle Network celebrities. He also snapped a picture of Terry Morrow and me with the guest of honor at Abby Ham's goodbye party. Getting back to yesterday, Seth claims that he "accidentally" took a picture of Beth Haynes' shoe. I wonder if her stiletto will get as many clicks as Stacy McCloud's boots.

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Friday, May 15, 2009

can you do a dollar?

The staff at East Tennessee Children's Hospital makes sure that Marc and Kim and I have an abundance of food and treats during the annual Star 102.1 Radiothon, which started yesterday and continues today from 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. It's tough to exercise any self-control when local businesses show up with even more food that I love. If the good-looking treats from The Cupcakery had arrived before I had already eaten a piece of a staff member's birthday cake and a few Godiva chocolates, I would have grabbed one of the chocolatey ones. The bird's nest looked pretty nice too. So instead of eating a cupcake, I feasted my eyes by photographing them.

A highlight of yesterday's broadcast was the presentation of the proceeds from "Star 102.1's Dancing With the Knoxville Stars." To mark the occasion, professional dancers Emily Loyless and Jeremy Norris did what they do best to the tune of "Poker Face."

Lori Tucker, Mark Nagi and Terry Morrow handed over the big check. Later in the day, Beth Haynes, Russell Biven and John Becker came by to help ask for donations. You can phone in your pledge at (865) 656-KIDS or donate online via my fundraising page.

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Thursday, May 14, 2009

angels 1, demons 0

"Angels & Demons" is better at being an action movie than "The Da Vinci Code" was. I started to remember a few things from the book as the movie unfolded during a preview screening last night. It's been several years since I read all of Dan Brown's books. The filmmakers changed enough plot points to keep me guessing. Fortunately they omitted a ridiculous scene in the book in which Robert Langdon uses his blazer as a parachute. The story conveniently calls for the lights to be turned off in sectors of the city, always just as Langdon arrives to investigate. The darkness covers the fact that they couldn't use the actual locations portrayed.

It didn't feel like an anti-Catholic movie to me. Granted there are bad guys attacking the Vatican but there is also respect shown to Catholic ceremonies, such as a papal conclave. They try to make you think that the church is anti-science because of the way they treated Galileo in the 17th century. In reality the modern Catholic church is known for its education system from kindergarten through college. At least one character in the movie points out that science and religion can co-exist. I'm one of those people who believe that God created evolution and that science will ultimately prove the existence of God.

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Wednesday, May 13, 2009

gnaw-ty gnaw-ty

The men from the pool company got an unexpected surprise when they turned on my pool equipment on Monday. Water started spouting out of the top of the Hayward Pool Products filter. A closer look revealed that some angry critter had chewed through the manual air relief cap and left teeth marks on the access cover. There's even more teeth marks on the corner of the nameplate. Some putty-like substance is plugging the leak until the maintenance crew can find replacement parts for the S-240 high rate sand filter. I wonder how much that will cost.

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Tuesday, May 12, 2009

involved and committed

The ideas I had for my son's seventh grade science fair project were rejected, including the one that made it as far as the teacher. I thought that a miniature body farm, using critters that had accidentally died in the pool, would go over well. It never made it out of committee. By committee, I mean my wife.

My son presented a better idea to his teacher. He wanted to soak some teeth in Coca-Cola to see if they would dissolve. When she said no teeth, I suggested that he use rib bones from a pig. We were heavily into smoking pork at the time and finding a surplus of bones would be easy. The teacher then made it clear that she would reject anything organic. My son had to do the experiment with iron nails, which had only the most minuscule change in weight during their time in the soda.

A teacher named Stephanie Chavez at Washington Union High School in Fresno would have been more receptive to my scientific method. According to the Fresno Bee, she wants to create a "chicken body farm" using store-bought chickens. My son says that she should make sure to buy the kind without preservatives.
Description of Project: The "Chicken" Body Farm: Scientists have put together an ongoing study of how bodies decompose in different scenarios. I would like to have my AP Biology class perform a similar experiment but instead of using cadavers, we would use store-bought chickens. Students place their chickens in various created scenarios such as: submerged in water, enclosed in a box, covered in clothes and wrapped in aluminum and will track the rate of decomposition. They will also observe how long it takes for insects to show up, learn the insect life cycles and how it affects the decomposition of the chicken. The grant will provide the equipment necessary to create a secure environment in which to study as well as all the equipment needed to create each "chicken" decomposition scenario.

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Monday, May 11, 2009

meet me in St. Gooey

Toasted ravioli is the food that most people associate with St. Louis. One of the local radio clusters even has a website called My wife's family is from Missouri. Thanks to them, gooey butter cake will always make me think of the Gateway City.

My wife and son spent the weekend in St. Louis after moving him out of his freshman dorm. When they got home last night they were bearing gifts. The supermarket where we found the cakes last December was closed yesterday morning. They looked on my blog and found the link for Park Avenue Coffee, which promises 64 flavors of gooey butter cakes. The shop in Lafayette Square was only a short drive away. She brought one cake to have at home and two to share with others.

Here's a peanut butter and chocolate cake with powdered sugar on top:

The clerk told my wife that most of the sugar is absorbed by fruit-flavored cakes like this banana chocolate chip delicacy...

... which is why he told her to add her own confectioner's sugar to this white chocolate raspberry cake in a heart-shaped tin, decorated for Mother's Day.

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Sunday, May 10, 2009

chicken little

KFC blew it. They had a perfect opportunity to make a good impression and really reinforce their "Unthink" advertising campaign. They even had the almighty Oprah behind them. Other businesses have been able to figure it out. Ben & Jerry's hands out free cones every year. Denny's gave away two million Grand Slam breakfasts the Tuesday after the Super Bowl.

Instead of picking a day and doing a simple giveaway, KFC asked people to go online and print a coupon. They stopped honoring the coupons after a day or two and now require patrons to apply for a rain check. The letter (and press release) from KFC President Roger Eaton makes it sound like they don't have enough grilled chicken to go around. There was no line and plenty of grilled chicken available when I got there last night. The clerk behind the counter said he thought that counterfeit coupons were the real problem.

KFC's public relations fiasco made me wish El Pollo Loco had a restaurant in Knoxville. Not only did one of my favorite fast food places do a successful chicken giveaway in April, they are honoring KFC's coupons on Mother's Day.

Frustrated by last night's inconvenience, I chose not to buy my dinner at KFC. On the way home, I realized that I was fairly close to M&M Catering. Considering how often I used to stop by their old location (now home to Two Sisters Sandwiches & Sweets), I was surprised that I had not yet been to their new place at Middlebrook and Chert Pit Road. A memo in the window points out that they were chosen as best barbecue joint in the 2008 Metro Pulse survey. They made runner-up this year.

I ordered a chicken sandwich with a mixture of hot and mild sauce. Like their previous spot, there's no place to sit and eat. All orders are to go. While I waited, the lady behind the counter told me that the reason their website didn't work when I clicked on it last week was because it was being rebuilt. The sandwich looked good but the meat was only lukewarm. Bummer. I picked the chicken off the bun and zapped it in the microwave at home.

An inscription in the concrete caught my eye as I carried my sandwich to the car. It read "In Memory of Robert; M&M Catering; Love, wife & kids."

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Saturday, May 09, 2009

parable in progress

Do you believe in forgiving or forsaking? The reaction to the news that Daniel Hood has received a football scholarship from the University of Tennessee makes it clear that some are ready to forgive and many still want to forsake.

Hood was a star player and excellent student at Knoxville Catholic High School. He was admitted to KCHS after being in the custody of the Department of Children's Services and completing a rehabilitation program. At age 13, Hood was convicted for his role in a disgusting sexual assault upon his 14-year-old cousin by her 17-year-old boyfriend. He helped restrain the girl with duct tape, retrieved other objects and then stood by during the worst of the attack. He now wishes that he had stopped the older male. At the time he was afraid that the other man may have had gang affiliations and may have been armed.

Columnists and bloggers partial to other SEC teams were quick to write that the University of Tennessee had signed a convicted rapist to their football team. I wonder if their motivation is fueled more by a dislike of the Vols than by any compassion. One writer points out that Hood's age at the time of the offense is the only thing keeping him from wearing an orange jumpsuit instead of an orange jersey this fall. Even fans of the Vols have their doubts about Hood.

If your child got into serious trouble, how might you react? Would you send him to a military school or a parochial school to get straightened out? In the nearly six years since the assault, Hood has become someone that KCHS principal Dickie Sompayrac is proud of. Hood credits his Christian beliefs for making a different person out of him. Mr. Sompayrac says he is willing to stake the school's reputation on its recommendation of Hood. As a parent of two KCHS graduates, I know Mr. Sompayrac and trust his assessment.

The victim herself is for Hood's redemption, not for revenge. She wrote a letter to UT on her cousin's behalf. I guess it all comes down to whether or not you believe that someone can truly change for the better. We often hear about people who change for the worse. Why shouldn't it work the other way?

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Friday, May 08, 2009

hilariously obnoxious party guests

Lincoln Memorial University is not close by. Five of the members of Einstein Simplified made the trek to Harrogate last night for a performance at the DeBusk College of Osteopathic Medicine, also known as DCOM. In addition to our weekly show, the troupe does private parties, corporate gigs. You can hire us for your next event.

We always urge potential clients to come see our weekly show at Patrick Sullivan's instead of hiring us sight unseen. Of course the barprov show tends to be more R-rated. Private parties can be G, PG or R depending on what they want. Our last New Year's Eve show was very clean.

When I got home last night, there was a Google Alert for Einstein Simplified in my email. Writer Greg Wood attended our April 28th show and wrote a very favorable review that appears in today's News Sentinel. Get a load of this lead:
The popularity of the Einstein Simplified abounds in Knoxville.

You or your friends likely have caught one of their Tuesday night shows at Patrick Sullivan's. If you bring up their name in a large crowd, someone's bound to speak favorably. Their audience members act like true fanatics, knowing every intricacy of the performance and every participant (even though it seems the members may not know them).

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Thursday, May 07, 2009

tawt I taw

The New York Times article on Twitter compared its appearance on "The Oprah Winfrey Show" to the Beatles' first performance on "The Ed Sullivan Show." It also listed several little-known tricks for Twitterers and instructions on how to find the nearly hidden advanced search page.

My daughter does the Twitter and posted something today that made me laugh. She put a link to a URL on and commented that she would now have to re-alphabetize her entire collection. I clicked on it and was most amused.

My friend Bean has started Twittering too. Last week he posted vacation updates from the graves of dead presidents. Bean has suggested that I read the feed of "KingsThings," which purports to be written by Larry King. I've heard there are a lot of celebrity impersonators on Twitter. Maybe Larry really did write, "i am entertaining the crew w/ stories about Frank Sinatra and Don Rickles. almost showtime!"

An emailer pointed out that the video of my rumba with Emily Loyless has way more views than any of the other performances from "Star 102.1's Dancing With the Knoxville Stars" fundraising event. I would like to think it was due to my own blog posts but I strongly suspect that Don Geronimo's Twitter feed had a lot to do with it. You can still make an online donation, by the way.

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Wednesday, May 06, 2009

all natural

Tazy Phyllipz and his wife are visiting Tennessee this week. He and I worked together on the Kevin & Bean show. Like me, Tazy and his wife Maria enjoy looking for Roadside America attractions when they travel. I suggested they go to the Sunsphere and the Dolly Parton statue before heading west to Graceland. Last night they came to see Einstein Simplified perform.

In an unfortunate stroke of timing, Tazy will still be traveling when Weenie Roast tickets go on sale Thursday. He was an early supporter of many of the bands on the bill, especially Rancid. I hope he is able to find a way to get into the show. After KROQ, Tazy hosted The Ska Parade show on stations in San Diego and Orange County.

Tazy is probably going to write a book about his Forrest Gump moments. I didn't remember that he was involved in the argument between Jimmy Kimmel and Michael the Maintenance Man that led to the "Bleeda in Reseda." He also was answering the phones at KROQ when Adam Carolla first called in to offer his help as a boxing coach.

I do remember Tazy being the unintended victim of a practical joke that Jimmy tried to pull on Adam. On his April 2nd podcast, Adam said that Snapple was his beverage of choice back when he first started at KROQ. I had downloaded the show because several people emailed to tell me that guest Chris Hardwick mentioned my name as he told the story of his being hired as a deejay at the station.

One day Jimmy saw an unopened Snapple bottle in the office I shared with "Loveline" producer Ann Wilkins. He took the bottle and sat at Ann's desk, where he tampered with the product. Without going into too much detail, let's just say that Jimmy left a film of baby powder on top of the drink. I was recently reminded of that old prank when Jimmy had Guillermo do something similar but not exactly the same to the Marshmallow Peeps that Dane Cook stuffed in his mouth on "Jimmy Kimmel Live" just after Easter.

Jimmy and I waited for Adam to come out of the studio and swig his drink. Instead Tazy walked into the office and said, "Oh there's my Snapple." Jimmy and I were horrified that he had defiled Tazy's bottle, thinking it was Adam's. I emailed Jimmy yesterday and asked if he remembered Tazy Phyllipz. He replied, "not only do I remember him, LAST NIGHT I told the story about... his Snapple!" Over dinner at Patrick Sullivan's, Tazy erased some guilt I had been carrying all these years when he told me something I had completely forgotten. He said that I stopped him from drinking the tainted tea and made him put it in the trash. However I had every intention of watching Adam quench his thirst with the Jimmy-flavored juice.

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Tuesday, May 05, 2009

first pitch

By accident and design I found myself at two grand openings on Monday. Danielle and Wes Hope invited one and all to the opening of their new gallery for Hope Photography on Bearden Hill. My little camera was in my pocket the whole time but I was too self-conscious to take snapshots at a professional photographer's event. I felt like I had already been there thanks to the beautiful pictures of the construction progress on the Hope Photo blog.

The Hope's gallery space is inside Lisa Foster Floral Design. The open house was a showcase for several wedding services. When my wife and I arrived, we saw a white tent, a deejay, a wedding cake and servers offering sandwiches from the neighboring Pimento's Café. I especially enjoyed some red velvet cookies from a small specialty company. I think Wes took a picture of the cookies and the tent card for his blog.

I only had my cell phone camera with me earlier in the day when I was the first person to show up for the grand opening of Two Sisters Sandwiches & Sweets on Middlebrook Pike. Ruby and Dixie have taken over the old location of M&M Catering, which moved down the road last summer. Instead of the many large BBQ pit smokers that M&M had, the ladies have an inconspicuous electric smoker around back.

The sisters offered me a small sample of a smoked bologna sandwich and a nice moist mini cupcake. Their full size cupcakes looked great too. Perhaps best of all, they will offer frosting shots, like the cupcake bakeries in the big cities.

I promised Ruby and Dixie that I would eventually be back to buy a smoked chicken sandwich and a full sized cupcake. For now they are sticking with basic flavors but can make anything by special order. I told them I might just challenge them to whip up some Rocky Road or S'mores or Elvis-themed cupcakes. They'll also be selling soft-serve ice cream and slaw dogs, among other things.

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Monday, May 04, 2009

shine on

Two camels and some bison roam on the land next to the Pro-Anglers Shop on Route 63. Jeff Joslin told me to meet him there to shoot an additional scene for "Fish Bait," the low-budget horror movie we filmed last October. Three of the other members of Einstein Simplified and I only had to improvise a few seconds of dialogue that explained which of us was Paul. We ended up creating a fun scene in which the store owner chased Jaybo (Dave Fennell) while waving a .357 Magnum at him.

On the way through LaFollette, I saw a sign that amused me. It said "Crack A Tooth Cold Beer," which reminded me of one of my first blog entries. On the houseboat at Flat Hollow Marina & Resort, the label on the sinks also made me smile. They use a regional spelling of "spigot" to indicate which faucet dispensed fresh water. My wife and I spent the night on the houseboat. Thanks to the label, we didn't use lake water to brush our teeth.

At the marina, we watched the footage from last fall and shot some different camera angles on multiple scenes. When we were almost done filming for the night, Jeff Joslin and Darby Totten filled our wine glasses with a local delicacy. The apple-pie flavored beverage was poured from a mason jar with a cinnamon stick inside. I thought it would make me more tired but it had the effect of Granny's Spring tonic.

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Sunday, May 03, 2009

better than hot water and ketchup

A video on Funny or Die appealed to my inner child. In it, Adam West has fallen on hard times and is having a garage sale outside the Batcave. I wish I had looked for the Bronson Caves in Griffith Park when I lived in California. What if he really was selling stuff there?

If money were no object, I would buy memorabilia from my favorite show, much like KROQ's Ralph Garman has done. The first thing on my shopping list might be the bust of Shakespeare from Stately Wayne Manor.

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Saturday, May 02, 2009

the things we do for love

The routine that I learned for "Star 102.1's Dancing With the Knoxville Stars" was fine for the performance. However it wouldn't be appropriate for a wedding reception or a church party. During the course of my rehearsals, I promised my wife that I would take a go at some social dancing. After all, the ice had already been broken on facing my fear.

Academy Ballroom offers a discounted group class for those who stay for their weekly dance parties. My wife and I attended on Friday night and got some basic instruction in the waltz and rumba from Richard Bull. We thought we would be dancing together. As it turned out, all the men lined up on one side and the women on the other. There were more women than men, which meant that some of the ladies would run through a few steps without a partner. After each set of steps, the women rotated. As a result, I danced with every other woman in the class before my first dance with my wife.

At the party, Jeremy Norris and Emily Loyless showed us the first steps of the tango and the swing. All the dances came easily to my wife, who showed great patience with me as I tried to hear the beat. Jeremy told me to close my eyes and remove one of my senses. It helped a little. I danced more than my wife thought I would. I told her I wanted to make sure I got my money's worth.

One thought kept coming back to me. If you could go back in time to tell me that in 2009 I would be dancing any of these steps with my wife, I would not have believed you. If you told me that I would have my own pair of Very Fine dance shoes, I would have had you committed.

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Friday, May 01, 2009

take a look at that centerpiece

Chef Walter is celebrating his 20th anniversary at WVLT. I happened to be doing some grocery shopping at the same time as he was returning that day's featured arrangement to the floral department at Food City Bearden the other day. When I said hello, he said it had been a while since he saw me last. It was at a March of Dimes gala last fall.

I was pretty happy about my shopping that day. I wanted to get as much food as I could without going over a certain amount. It's like my own private game of "The Price Is Right." On Sunday I had purchased a Community Cash card worth $50. My total spent at the store was $49.63. Woo hoo!

Chef Walter wasn't familiar with the Community Cash cards. I suggested that he give them a plug during his daily cooking segment. The cards are sold at many area churches, including All Saints. The churches buy the cards at a discount from the grocery stores and sell them at face value to their parishioners. All Saints makes a 5% profit on their sales of Food City, Kroger and Fresh Market gift cards. It's a painless way to help support the parish.

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