Wednesday, September 30, 2009

out to pasteur

The man who offered me a Kona coffee and poured a Coke Icee for my co-worker Hannah introduced himself as Kurt. I found out later that his last name is Weigel, as in the Weigel's convenience store where I was doing a remote broadcast. It was the grand opening of their new South Knoxville location. They celebrated with gas for $2.059 a gallon, milk for $1.99 a gallon, two-liter bottles of Coke products for 99¢ each and several other specials.

In the time before I learned Kurt's last name, I chatted with him about my fondness for convenience stores. I mentioned that my wife and I use the Weigel's punch card to get an occasional free gallon of milk. He told me that they will soon be switching from paper to a plastic swipe card. My wife and I will no longer need to ask the clerk to combine the punches on our two cards. We will each get a reward card on the same account.

I also told Kurt that convenience stores rate their own category on my blog. In the past I've written about 7-Eleven, QuikTrip and Wawa. When he praised the latter two stores, I told him how fantastic it was that I saw egg nog for sale at Wawa in late April a couple of years ago. I didn't get a chance to mention the Weigel's egg nog still in my freezer.

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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

gorpedo factory

Smart people know not to go food shopping while hungry because of the impulse purchases that happen as a result. Apparently I am not a smart person.

Today I went to Walmart to buy some excellent peaches at 98¢ per pound. I saw an endcap display of trail mix that made me want some. I thought back to a year ago when we were filming "Fish Bait," which was the last time I had any trail mix. I also thought ahead to the two upcoming road trips to Virginia that my wife and I will be taking. It would be nice to have a treat for the car that was still deliciously decadent while better than the junk food available at convenience stores along the route.

The mixes were labeled Great Value, which I assume is a Walmart brand. I wanted something with lots of pineapple but the tropical mix also had coconut, which my wife can't eat. Another bag had white chocolate chips, which I reject totally. Even the real chocolate chips would be a bad choice in a hot car. The mix containing regular M&Ms gave me an idea. Why not make my own trail mix?

I wandered over to the dried fruit aisle and starting grabbing Great Value products. Raisins, banana slices and apricots were obvious choices. The only dried pineapple on the shelf was from Mariani. I took two bags of that. I tossed some apple slices, dried cherries and mixed berries into my basket. Next it was off to the snack aisle to get some mixed nuts and the only M&Ms worth their calories. I picked up a bag of peanut and a bag of regular Dark Chocolate M&Ms.

When I got home and combined all the ingredients, they filled two one-gallon Ziploc bags. Then I looked at the receipt and realized I not only had some of the best tasting trail mix of all time, I had some of the most expensive trail mix of all time.

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Monday, September 28, 2009

grab a bite to tweet

There was something very familiar about today's Knox Tweet Lunch despite the fact that I was meeting new people and that it was my first time going to Wright's Cafeteria. The experience reminded me of the blogfests I attended a year and a half ago. For example, I met a lady named Wendy and a lady named Jennifer but didn't realize who they were until they identified themselves as @magicmulch and @BattLady respectively. The same thing happened when I met bloggers who use something other than their name in their blog title.

Some people I knew from real life were there too. My friend Krisha, known as @niftykrisha, said the get-together reminded her of blogger night at the Knoxville Symphony. I'm sitting next to her in a photo that Tearsa Smith posted. My waving hand looks blurred out like something on Jimmy Kimmel's Unnecessary Censorship bit.

The menu at Wright's definitely qualifies as Southern comfort food. They had country style steak, fried chicken livers, chicken 'n dumplings, fried salmon cakes and much more. I chose a piece of fried chicken, a side salad and a small dish of baked apple slices.

Saul Young
of the News Sentinel took some candid shots with his gigantic camera. However it was Twitpics from cell phone cameras that really documented the event. Wendy asked to have her picture made with me. Then four other women wanted to be in the photo too. How can a guy say no to that?

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Sunday, September 27, 2009

best things in life

A co-worker from another department had some kind words for me the other day. He said that whenever he sees me around the office, I'm always in a good mood. He thought that I was a truly happy person and wanted to know how I did it.

Shortly before moving to Knoxville, I got an email from someone who seemed negative about the area. They complained about all the pickup trucks with gun racks and confederate flags. I had already been here for a visit and seen the beauty of the area. Plus I had the benefit of working with someone who loves everything about East Tennessee. His enthusiasm was contagious. I think it's obvious from reading my blog that I choose to be optimistic about living in Knoxville and that I choose to fully enjoy all the area has to offer.

My co-worker went on to ask about the joy of having a family and the stress of having to provide for them. I explained that fathering children was the best thing that ever happened to me. Rather than fret over the economy and my salary, I am thankful that my son qualifies for a need-based scholarship at a good college.

The conversation was fresh in my mind when I read about a website that claims to offer the tools to increased happiness for a $5 per month subscription. Don't do it! I'm calling BS on

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Saturday, September 26, 2009

rain, man

A nice swim after a torrential storm feels great for two reasons. First, it's as if I have stolen a rainout back from Mother Nature. Plus, the pool water has a clean, fresh taste from the infusion of raindrops. Tonight it also helped clear my head and burn some energy after one-too-many cups of delicious free coffee at work.

While I was enjoying the water, my thoughts went to two swimmers in the news this past week. Natalie Coughlin exceeded my expectations on "Dancing With the Stars." For the most part I'll be splitting my votes between her and Donny Osmond. Both she and he are posting updates on Twitter.

Another swimming story popped up in one of my Google Alerts. The granddaughter of a man named Frank Murphy swam the English Channel. Samantha Simon is only 19 and plans to go for the Triple Crown of open-water swimming. She hopes to swim around Manhattan and from L.A. to Catalina within a year.

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Friday, September 25, 2009

fluff and fold

Susan Olsen will be disappointed. Early in the summer she and I both searched unsuccessfully for any information about the date of the annual "What the Fluff?" festival in Massachusetts. She was thinking about attending and maybe displaying her amazing collection of Photoshopped Fluff art. It would also have been a good chance for her to promote her new book, "Love to Love You Bradys."

This morning I saw a link in Perry Simon's All Access column that mentioned a magic word. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is considering naming the Fluffernutter their official sandwich. Lawmakers are also thinking about several other funny official items including making 6 the official number of the state. A throwaway line at the end of the article mentioned that the fourth annual Fluff fest takes place Saturday.

I have been curious about the event since the first one in 2006. Within the past 30 days or so, "What the Fluff?" has turned up on Twitter and on Facebook. This year's festival will have a cooking contest, messy Fluff games, music, dancing and a poetry contest to choose the "Fabulous Pharaoh of Fluff."

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Thursday, September 24, 2009

protect and defend

Instead of watching fake FBI agents on "Bones" and "Fringe," I will be spending my Thursday nights through November 12th enrolled in the FBI Citizens Academy. Each of the Bureau's 56 field offices offer the class. I was nominated by Public Affairs Specialist Stacie Bohanan of the Knoxville Division. I must have passed the background check because they let me attend tonight's meeting, which was led by Special Agent in Charge Richard Lambert. Agent Lambert began his presentation by showing a video clip from his favorite TV show.

The first session focused on the history and mission of the FBI. We also tried to learn the names of our 29 classmates. I already knew Hana Kim of WATE-TV and was re-introduced to Capt. D.J. Corcoran, spokesman for the Knoxville Fire Department. D.J. came to my house several years ago when he was working as a cameraman on the DIY show "Ed the Plumber."

In future weeks we will learn about criminal law and polygraphy, international and domestic terrorism, identity theft and Internet crimes, civil rights violations and white collar crimes. One night we will take a field trip to the Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Another night we will meet at a hotel to study staged crime scenes and to see a slide show from Dr. Murray Marks of the world famous Body Farm. One Saturday in October we will learn about deadly force scenarios and go to the firing range to take target practice. The final session of the class deals with crisis management and disaster scenarios. Before then I need to figure out what they mean by a "command post hot wash."

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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

take the bait

"Fish Bait" director Jeff Joslin was burning up the phone, text and email lines from New York today. He had already made arrangements for a cast and crew screening of his low-budget horror film at Flat Hollow Marina & Resort on October 24. Today's mission was to add a Knoxville screening the night before.

Jeff was able to get the "great room" at Patrick Sullivan's, a location chosen because it is the home turf of Einstein Simplified. Most of the troupe members appear in "Fish Bait." Admission to the October 23 screening will be $5 with the money going to defray some of the costs of making the film. In addition to the movie, there will be live music. I was thinking it might also be fun to play a few improv games for the amusement of our regulars.

Please help us spread the word to get the tickets sold. Put something on your Facebook or your Twitter. You can either retweet like Berry Sensei did or write your own message. Best of all, you can show up yourself.

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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

tick tock tober

In a way, I'm glad I got the flu when I did. It was a shame to miss several events over the weekend but it would have been worse if I had gotten sick a week or a month later. My October will be exceptionally busy.

The excitement starts later this week when I start an eight-week class at the FBI Citizens Academy. On one October weekend, we will take a field trip to the firing range. My uncle served in the FBI for many years. He and I will have a lot to talk about when I travel to Norfolk for a family wedding on another October weekend.

I was happy that my work schedule will allow me to emcee a great event in Virginia on October 10th. My friend Maureen is organizing the Ride for the Cure at her horse farm in Middleburg. Three celebrities I know have donated items to the silent auction. Thanks go to Jimmy Kimmel, Susan Olsen and Richard Cheese. By the way, Susan tells me that she already mailed off an autographed book to the auction before her son's cat used her last four books (including my copy) as a litter box.

I've already written about my plans to attend the screening of "Fish Bait" at Flat Hollow Marina & Resort on October 24. We are also going to attempt to participate in "Thrill the World," the worldwide "Thriller" dance. Director Jeff Joslin emailed me today to say that he is working on lining up a venue for a screening and party in Knoxville on Friday the 23rd.

With all this activity, there has to be something I will miss. Because of my commitment to the FBI Citizens Academy and because my wife will be singing at a wedding, we cannot attend her college reunion weekend at James Madison University. One of our favorite bands from our college days is reuniting for the event. The Skip Castro Band is playing a gig called "Boogie at Midlife."

But wait, there's more. I'm still undecided about whether or not I will attend the Knoxville Snuggie Pub Crawl on October 17th. What do you think? Obviously, I have the uniform of the day.

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Monday, September 21, 2009

griddle me this

Each year Entertainment Weekly publishes a chart of which primetime TV shows to watch live and which to record on your DVR. It operates under the assumption that you can watch TV for three hours per night for a total of 21 hours per week. Their tastes are only a partial match with mine with 8½ hours of overlap. I decided to make my own grid. I was surprised that my total added up to only 16 hours per week. Well, 16½ if you count "Entourage," which ends its season in two weeks. Of course there will be an occasional special or primetime football game that will cause some reconfiguring.

The Amazing Race
Curb Your Enthusiasm

Dancing With the Stars
How I Met Your Mother
The Big Bang Theory

Dancing With the Stars

The Middle
Modern Family
Cougar Town

The Mentalist
The Office
30 Rock

After all the positive press, I am willing to give "Big Bang Theory" another try. I didn't like it when it debuted two years ago.

I have listed some new shows that I am going to sample. If I don't like "Hank," for example, it will get dropped quickly from my list. "Hank" gets a tryout because of its placement in the new ABC Wednesday comedy block despite its early reviews. I hope that "Better Off Ted" joins that lineup when something gets canceled.

"Community" is still on the bubble with me. The first episode was just okay. I hope that the arrival of Ken Jeong in episode two will be an improvement.

I am undecided about whether or not to sample "FlashForward."

As in years past, there is nothing on the Friday or Saturday primetime schedule that interests me. I'll take that opportunity to watch the stuff I recorded throughout the week, especially on Thursdays.

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Sunday, September 20, 2009

frosting shot?

Have cupcakes jumped the shark? The New York Times predicted a cupcake crash a year ago, comparing them to the brief, big-city popularity of Krispy Kreme doughnuts. Several other publications, including Newsweek, are saying that the cupcake fad is about to fade. The intensely pro-cupcake blog, Cupcakes Take the Cake, alerted me to the latest round of naysayers. At least The Philadelphia Inquirer says the "trend has outlasted expectations."

The recent popularity of cupcakes is credited to the product placement of Magnolia Bakery on "Sex and the City" and the opening of the cupcakes-only Sprinkles in Los Angeles. Here in scenic East Tennessee, it takes a little longer for trends to reach us. One would assume that the same delay applies to the end of the cycle.

Based on two hours last week, I would say that the cupcake bubble has definitely not burst in Knoxville. I observed a nearly constant stream of customers going into The Cupcakery while I was doing a remote broadcast from Massage Envy on Thursday. As I told my sales manager, The Cupcakery has the best looking cupcakes even if other places have better tasting treats. I'll attempt to prove it with some repeat photos from previous blog entries.

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Saturday, September 19, 2009

virtual reality

Most people in Knoxville probably planned on staying inside today and watching the Tennessee at Florida game on CBS. A few people might switch over to NBC to see if former Knoxville Catholic star Harrison Smith makes some tackles for the Fighting Irish as they take on Webb Michigan State. My wife occasionally flipped over to ABC to see if the Nebraska band got any screen time while at Virginia Tech. A college classmate of hers directs the Marching Red.

Yesterday, I was told I had tested positive for flu. I feel like I only have a cold and fortunately haven't had a fever. That could be thanks to the Tamiflu or the Mucinex D or the ibuprofen I've been taking. The physician's assistant in training told me to get plenty of rest and fluids. As a result, I didn't go to any of the many things happening today.

Although I wouldn't have danced myself, I would have tried to watch some of the Rocky Top Dance Challenge at the downtown Marriott. I also had thought about dropping in on the Hola Festival at Market Square or maybe even Greekfest at St. George Greek Orthodox Church. While sitting on my couch, I can revisit the events via my blog posts mentioning the Hola Festival in 2006 and Greekfest in 2005.

My illness has also caused me to cancel dinner plans for tomorrow night. My wife and I were invited to a friend's house. It's a shame because he's an excellent cook. It was again our responsibility to bring dessert and I had decided to try a slight variation of a recipe that intrigued me over a year ago. When we reschedule, I will finally get to taste some brownies with a swirl of Roasted Raspberry Chipotle Sauce substituting for the same company's blackberry sauce.

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Friday, September 18, 2009

toot toot yeah retweet

The 287 friends, listeners and spammers who decided to follow my feeds on Twitter in the past five weeks may be disappointed with today's blog post. This afternoon a physician's assistant in training told me that I tested positive for flu and that I should rest. While I was waiting to be seen, I read the USA Today and used my fancy new QWERTY phone to post random stuff on Twitter. I know it's a cop out, but the best thing for me to do tonight is recycle those thoughts. I'll give you a few from last night too.

You may notice in one of the items that I have decided to bring back the eighteenth and nineteenth century abbreviation for et cetera. It saves one whole character, which means something when Twitter only allows you 140 of them. That sounds like something Andy Rooney might say if he were on Twitter. There are a few parodies of him, if you're interested.
  • I'm thinking about doing a #FollowFriday tomorrow but I'm concerned that you'll say "duh, I already know about all those people."

  • Best quote about #theoffice - "If you don't know a @MichaelScott, you are a @MichaelScott."

  • Why is #Survivor in black & white? Are they back in Kansas?

  • What is wrong with me? How did I forget that Pam is pregnant on #theoffice?

  • So there's not another person inside Kevin on #theoffice? That was just gossip? So confusing!

  • My wife remembers from last season of #theoffice that Pam couldn't get x-rayed after getting injured playing volleyball. Aha!

  • Thanks Dave for the Kanye-licious link! RT @RavinDave Hey Frank, check out I promise you'll get a kick outta it.

  • What the heck.. #FF @celebritydeaths @knoxtweetlunch @FrankStrovel @caswalker @volsHannah @niftykrisha @AllAccess @JohnHudgens @Helen_Keller

  • My wife is sick, my boss is sick and I'm starting to get a runny nose, &c. I'm in the doctor's cough-filled waiting room now.

  • Hey Robert Bianco at USA Today, you used "churlish" twice on the same page (7D) today. Just so you know.

  • This is weird but my favorite part of USA Today is the NFL announcer listings on Fridays. Sam Rosen & Tim Ryan will call the #Redskins game.

  • I wonder if Fox Sports broke up the team of Dick Stockton, Moose Johnston & Tony Siragusa because Goose would say, "thanks Moose, Dick..."

  • Best #NFL announcing teams? Buck & Aikman; Nantz & Simms; and for nostalgia, Enberg & Fouts. Sorry Al Michaels, you're not on my list.

  • Hey @clydetombaugh, may I borrow your copy of Tim McCarver's new CD?

  • According to the student physician's assistant, I tested positive for type A flu, like my wife. It is not the fashionable H1N1 strain.

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Thursday, September 17, 2009

high pasta system

Most of the people at the preview screening of "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs" were there with their children. My wife and I wanted to see it despite the fact that our kids are hundreds of miles away.

The adorable Anna Farris, who was so good in "My Super-Ex Girlfriend" and "The House Bunny," does a great job as the voice of weather reporter Sam Sparks. Mr. T plays the police chief who looks exactly like, uh... Mr. T, except that he has hair where Mr. T doesn't and a bald stripe down the middle of his head where the real Mr. T has a Mohawk.

Some of the other voices are recognizable as "Saturday Night Live" cast members. Andy Samberg plays a man whose only claim to fame is the TV commercial he starred in as a baby. Flint Lockwood, the scientist who invents the machine that turns water into food, is voiced by Bill Hader. Two names surprised me when they turned up in the credits. I never would have guessed that Benjamin Bratt played Manny the cameraman or that James Caan played Flint's dad, Tim.

USA Today ran a great illustrated feature the other day. It compared images from the movie with similar pictures in the 1978 children's book that inspired the film. Unfortunately, the online version of the story shows only one of pictures.

"Cloudy" was in 3-D, which didn't do all that much for me. I wanted to take the glasses off but the movie is blurry without them. The story is fun and doesn't need the special effect to hold the viewer's attention. I saw a feature on "Access Hollywood" that showed Anna Farris eating real cheeseburgers while recording Sam's dialogue. It made watching that scene all the more enjoyable. "Cloudy" isn't perfect but it's good enough for me.

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Wednesday, September 16, 2009

fishy, campy

The big news in East Tennessee has been the announcement of a highly anticipated movie premiere, with some of the actors in attendance. Yes, "Fish Bait" will be shown on October 24th. In other movie news, two of the stars of "The Twilight Saga: New Moon" will be in Knoxville on November 17th.

Jeff Joslin has been working out the details for the "Fish Bait" screening at Flat Hollow Marina & Resort in Campbell County. I was one of several members of Einstein Simplified involved in the filming at Flat Hollow last October. We filmed some additional scenes in May.

The date of the premiere means I will have to decline an invitation I received from Sharky at Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies. The costumed mascot had asked me to come to Gatlinburg and do the "Thriller" dance on the 24th. They plan to close the street and participate in "Thrill the World," a worldwide simultaneous group dance which is an attempt at a Guinness World Record. Not wanting to miss out, I decided to organize a "Thriller" dance at Flat Hollow that night. Now all I have to do is learn the dance.

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Tuesday, September 15, 2009

same old, same old

Putting Jay Leno on at 10:00 p.m. solved two problems for NBC. They avoided having Leno go to ABC as Jimmy Kimmel's lead-in and they avoided paying big money for an hour-long drama each weeknight. My wife heard a radio report that almost made it sound like script writers are a thing of the past. A related story said the network was taking a big gamble on Leno.

Leno's new show started slow and then stayed that way. I liked seeing Jerry Seinfeld talk about his upcoming appearances on "Curb Your Enthusiasm" but those same comments could have been and probably will be heard on "Live with Regis & Kelly." The conversation with Kanye West was awkward at best. It's too bad that Kanye's first post-VMA-debacle appearance wasn't with a talented interviewer. Jay will have to book guests I really like to compete with whatever happens to be on my DVR.

I think the Leno show is part of the devolution of network television. The broadcast networks (ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox) will become more and more like the cable networks such as Bravo, USA and ABC Family. There will be more unscripted shows on the big networks but that doesn't necessarily mean the death knell for drama.

My prediction is that the broadcast networks will regularly use their cable channels as a farm system for the big leagues. A show like "Royal Pains" would get a chance to succeed or fail on the USA Network. If it's a hit, it might get promoted to NBC. I remember the half-hearted attempts to show "Monk" on ABC and "Dexter" on CBS. Those were only limited runs. For a popular cable show to survive the transition, it will have to cut ties with its old home.

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Monday, September 14, 2009

just jivin' honey

The elusive deep-fried Oreo almost did it again. Last year I was unable to find one at the Tennessee Valley Fair. I thought I was going to be denied on Friday night too. While leaving the Homer Hamilton Theatre, I saw a sign that plainly said "Deep Fried Oreo's" and should be submitted to The woman in the booth said they had not yet received their Oreos and tried to sell me a funnel cake instead. No thanks.

My wife and I soon saw two friends who told us there were DFOs to be had elsewhere in the park. Their group had purchased a deep-fried sampler plate, which included an Oreo, a Snickers bar, a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup and a glob of cookie dough. They could have also chosen a fried PB&J Jamz. Our friends agreed with my theory that of all the deep-fried treats, the Oreo is the best because it can take it. The candy bars tend to melt inside the batter. They sent me the following note and one of the pictures that they put on Facebook. I zoomed in for a close-up on the goods.
Here is the picture of the fried candy. Oreos, Snickers, and Reese's were yummy. Fried raw cookie dough was just weird. Cookie dough should either be cooked or raw, but fried raw was a strange no man's land of mushy goo.

I found what I was looking for at a different trailer. In addition to the usual fare food of burgers and hot dogs, they offered deep-fried Twinkies and Oreos. I had a deep-fried Twinkie once. It wasn't worth it because the filling, which is the best part, liquefied and was absorbed into the cake. Four deep-fried Oreos cost $3. I didn't need or want that many, so I convinced the guy to sell me two for $1.50.

The headliner at opening night of the fair was Rick Springfield. I was shocked to learn that he is 60 years old. I remember the time he came to KLOS and serenaded our phone screener Preva. During Friday's concert, Rick told the women in the audience to close their eyes while he changed shirts. A lot of the ladies knew to bring bouquets of roses, which he whipped against his guitar strings, showering rose petals upon the stage. I bet he always makes the salad at his house.

About an hour before the Springfield concert began, my wife and I wandered past a tent where a hypnotist was just starting his show. Terrance B asked everyone to close their eyes and imagine that their left hand held a heavy book while their right hand was tethered to a helium balloon. The book got heavier while the balloon went higher. I wasn't feeling it. My two hands had barely moved by the time Terrance walked by and selected my wife to follow him to the stage. She was one of about 16 people chosen. He made them think they were watching funny, sad and scary movies. A woman seated in the center of the row onstage was put back to sleep by Hypnodog, a border collie that stared her down.

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Sunday, September 13, 2009


The miracle of feeding the multitude was on my mind at All Saints Catholic Church this morning. In August, the Diocese of Knoxville put four loaves priests in the parish but now seems to be taking seven or eight out to serve thousands.

Few parishes are blessed with four priests to cover four weekend Masses. Since the beginning of August, the All Saints staff has been covering the Saturday evening mass in hell and back Helenwood. A few weeks ago, Fr. Ragan Schriver was sent to Seymour to cover their weekend Masses for three months. This weekend, Fr. Antonio Giraldo was sent to fill in for a sick priest in Greeneville. Deacon Tim Elliott is also sick, possibly with the dreaded flu. Fr. Michael Woods announced that All Saints has temporarily discontinued the Sign of Peace. Parishes all over the country have been doing even more than that.

Fr. Michael celebrated his third anniversary at All Saints today. Later this week, he will accomplish a goal he has been working on for a while when the parish adds a Spanish Mass on Saturdays at 7:00 p.m. Coincidentally, that's the same day as the Hola Festival downtown. Fr. Antonio won't be the only celebrant of la Misa en Español. He and Fr. Michael will share the duty, which gives the pastor an opportunity to speak directly to his new flock and to sneak in some English words.

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Saturday, September 12, 2009

millions of peaches, peaches for me

Having guests in the house last weekend gave us a reason to cook baby back ribs on the smoker for the first time in a long time. My wife made a dry rub from scratch, using a recipe she found online as a partial guide. She started with the ribs wrapped in foil to keep them moist during the long cooking process. A few holes in the top of the foil allowed the smoke inside.

After a while she opened the foil to apply a mop she had also made from scratch. She let them finish cooking without the foil. When the meat falls off the bone, the ribs are done. We were surprised that they were ready a few hours earlier than expected.

After the ribs were taken out of the smoke box, we put a grill into the fire box and cooked some peaches. If you've never tried this, I highly recommend it. Slice the peaches in half and brush them with oil before placing them over the fire. Keep an eye on them and flip them when you're satisfied with the way they look. Ours were perfect. We refrigerated two leftover halves in Ziploc bags and had them for breakfast the next day. They were just as good served cold.

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Friday, September 11, 2009

bravest of the brave

Instead of going to Ground Zero each year, my aunt and uncle have preferred to attend smaller memorial services on Long Island. Their son, FDNY Captain Terry Hatton, lost his life in the service of others on September 11, 2001.

Last night, one of Terry's high school classmates found my blog entry from two years ago. He posted a comment that I'm sure my family members will appreciate. You may also want to read my posts from 2008 and 2006.

A website called Wear RED on 9/11 has a tool for you to update your Twitter icon and a link for a Facebook fan page. As the name implies, they want us to wear red clothes today. How do you plan to commemorate the anniversary?

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Thursday, September 10, 2009

body farmville

There's no room at the Body Farm. The shocking news was in The Tennessean this week. The Vanderbilt School of Medicine has also stopped accepting cadavers. The increased demand is attributed to a larger number of people who can't afford a traditional burial or cremation.
A publicly funded burial isn't the only option for families faced with insurmountable funeral expenses. Donating a body to scientific or medical research is free and, in the age of forensic-sleuthing shows like CSI, somewhat glamorous.
The forensics program is attempting to raise $400,000 to build a new research building and add another acre to the Body Farm, which would allow space for even more cadaver donations in the future.
Until the expansion, what should they do with all the people who want their bodies to skeletonize naturally? Here are a few comedic suggestions to get us started. Add your own funny ideas in the comments section.

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Wednesday, September 09, 2009

dynamic utilization of the audio medium

One of the first things I did this morning was to ask the following question on my Twitter and Facebook pages: "Other people seem to be a lot more excited about 09/09/09 than I am. What am I missing?"

Johnny from Wise Brother Media replied that I must be "missing the idiot gene." A former WAVA engineer wrote that today is negative day in Germany: "Nein, Nein, Nein!" Richard from Academy Ballroom said that 999 is the emergency number in the UK, similar to 911 here.

My daughter sent along a news story about all the people getting married in Las Vegas today with the comment "they must have all had a dose of Love Potion # 9/9/09." One reader pointed out that today Apple finally came out with an iPod with an FM tuner in it. I had been griping about the need for that just this past Sunday.

All this "nine-sense" reminded me of a Mylar balloon that I saw at Patrick Sullivan's last night. It was in the shape of the number 9. It inspired me to start telling some of the guys in Einstein Simplified about the famous parody of Top 40 radio called "Nine!" which was created by Howard Hoffman and some others.

WVWA, Pound Ridge is a fictional station that evolved the same way many stations of its era did. A tribute site has links to the audio and to an actual engineering website which made the station its "Tower Site of the Week" on April Fool's Day in 2004.

I don't know Alan Furst but I can tell you that he sure knows what he's talking about when he compares my favorite station, WLNG, to Nine Double O Radio and the Nine! format to modern day Portable-People-Metered stations. WLNG sounds exactly like Nine Double O Radio with its flagrant disunity of programming elements and abundance of unnecessary sound.

Without further ado, here's the audio history of Nine! Any real radio guys and gals will laugh heartily at the legal ID heard at 5:28 into the clip.

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Tuesday, September 08, 2009

book of Janus

Chick-Fil-A showed the world the right way to do a chicken giveaway yesterday. You know who I'm talking about, Colonel. All day on Labor Day, they gave their classic sandwich to anyone wearing a sports team logo.

The employees who served my wife and me were cheerful and courteous even after handing out thousands and thousands of free sandwiches. The guy who brought us our free drink refills at lunch suggested that we come back for a free dinner. We did, while wearing our two-headed Redskins poncho.

Before getting my free chicken, I enjoyed some free coffee. Thanks to Coupon Katie, I printed a coupon for a free cup of Seattle's Best Coffee at Borders. I made a reference to the free coffee in my Twitter and Facebook status updates.

I've mentioned before that I have a Facebook account for listeners and another for people with whom I'm better acquainted. The reaction to my update was very different on the two accounts. The listeners know that I started drinking coffee recently after years of being caffeine-free. They said nothing about the coffee but commented on the serial killer book my daughter showed me at Borders. On the other account, some former co-workers saw nothing unusual about my family's interest in H.H. Holmes but were shocked that I had a cup of coffee.

So for my friend Jessica and others who care, I started down the slippery slope of caffeine addiction last fall while filming "Fish Bait." A company called Coffee Fool made a product placement deal with the filmmakers. During my all-night shoot, I had a cup or two to stay awake.

I sampled the free coffee at work when they switched to a different provider. I found that I really liked the taste of the Javarama Jamaica Blue Mountain Blend served black with Splenda. Working a couple of weeks of split shifts this summer had me appreciating the caffeine lift it gave me. To make sure I didn't get drowsy on my drive home from Nashville last month, I had a frozen coffee drink from Starbucks.

Before long, I decided to avoid the possibility of withdrawal headaches by drinking coffee on normal weekends too. I work a lot of Saturdays, which means I can get free coffee at the station. They serve free coffee after most Masses at All Saints Church, so Sundays are covered. Since yesterday was a holiday, I used the coupon for a free cup at Borders. My goal is to spend next-to-nothing on my new habit, so I'll be constantly on the lookout for discounts and freebies.

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Monday, September 07, 2009

boom boom pow

Most of the food being sold at the 2009 Boomsday Festival event was typical fair fare, such as corn dogs and funnel cakes. My wife and I spotted a logo that wasn't like the others. Mixed in among the signage was a banner for the tony Ruth's Chris Steak House. We each had a steakburger slider that was so good it didn't need condiments. The restaurant manager told us that the little burgers will debut on their happy hour menu tomorrow. Down the street, one of the guys handing out free Duke's Mayonnaise looked like Chris Daughtry to me.

My wife and I had the good fortune to watch the fireworks from the old Baptist Hospital, near where John Becker and Robin Wilhoit anchored WBIR's coverage. This year the smoke from the explosions drifted away from us, meaning we had a clear view of the spectacular "waterfall" effect off the Henley Street Bridge and the rockets that came up from the lake to the tune of "Smoke on the Water."

After wishing we had done so last year and the year before, we remembered to bring portable radios this year. While big speakers saturate Neyland Drive with sound, the music cannot be heard on the south side of the Tennessee River unless you bring your own receiver.

I was impressed with the Star 102.1 soundtrack this year. There was a three-song tribute to Michael Jackson and a good mix of today's hits and yesterday's favorites. (That's an inside joke for my radio friends.) My wife wanted to know the title and artist of the Christian rock song played near the end off the show. Out of curiosity, I clicked over to to see if their bot had identified the tune. It was "I Can Only Imagine" by MercyMe. The site registered many, but not all, of the songs played.

My daughter and two of her friends traveled to East Tennessee to experience their first Boomsday this year. Although I've lived in Knoxville since 2002, this was only my fifth Boomsday. Thanks to my blog, I'm just a click away from the photos of my first Boomsday in 2005. I looked very different back then.

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Sunday, September 06, 2009

firework modulation

To prepare for tonight's Boomsday fireworks, I have been advising listeners to bring a portable radio to better hear the synchronized soundtrack on Star 102.1. It would be easier if all iPods and cell phones had FM tuners in them the way my Walkman does.

While our daughter and her friends were at Mass, my wife and I dug around my home office looking for some other FM radios and putting batteries in them. We found a total of three (including my Walkman) and figured that the five of us could share the six earbuds if we stood close enough together. Here's a little secret, the part of the soundtrack we hear is in mono. The guys from Pyro Shows use the right channel for the commands to fire each shell.

I was pleasantly surprised when the girls got back to find out that they had taken my advice. On the way home from church, they stopped at Walgreens and bought small FM radios for $3 each. One of my daughter's friends used her fancy camera to take a picture of two of them. I used my fancy springsuit to reduce the glare coming off the plastic package.

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Saturday, September 05, 2009

tea totals

Many of the people who see my updates on Facebook and Twitter thought I was at the liquor store all day Friday. In fact, I only stopped by on the spur of the moment hoping to find the same type of sweet tea vodka that my wife tasted and liked at this year's Feast With the Beasts. I took two pictures of the available brands and sent them to my wife and to another friend who had been at the Knoxville Zoo that night too. For fun I also sent the pictures to, which automatically posts them on my Twitter feed.

By the time I got home to my computer, there were several comments from people recommending the Firefly brand. I had already purchased a bottle of Sweet Carolina because my wife was pretty sure she recognized it from the photo. I posted an update to that effect but reattached a picture of the store shelf. Some people were fooled into thinking I was still at the package store.
BattLady @FrankMurphyCom Dang you have been shopping for vodka ALL day. I wish I could help you find the brand you are hunting, poor thing. LOL
While cleaning the house on Thursday to prepare for our weekend guests, my wife found a check my aunt had sent for my birthday. I took it to the bank Friday and cashed it, instead of depositing it as I normally would. With cash in pocket, I left the bank and realized I was right next to Bob's Package Store. I remembered that my wife had planned to get the sweet tea vodka to share with our company and I thought I could save her an errand by going myself.

As soon as I got out of the car, I saw two co-workers who were headed inside to buy libations for a client party inside the Sunsphere on Boomsday. On my way to the cashier, I encountered someone I have interviewed on the weekly public affairs show. There's an old joke about Protestants not recognizing the Pope and Baptists not recognizing each other at the liquor store. I made reference to that without mentioning Baptists on my Selective Twitter Status:
Talked with three people I know while shopping for vodka. What happened to Southerners "not recognizing each other" at the liquor store?
A flurry of comments pointed out that it is the Baptists who allegedly look the other way should they be spotted near the alcohol. Another mentioned that Catholics have no such difficulty. Two fellow Facebookers wrote "That rule only applies to certain Christian denominations ;)" and "What does it say about the people you know if you were all hanging out at the liquor store today??"

I got a good laugh out of the whole thing. The people who truly know me know that I will probably not even taste the vodka. I'm not opposed to drinking (or cooking with it), I just don't have any interest in getting drunk. During my swim, I thought of another status update to post. I wrote that I was like a hobo because I spent the birthday cash from my aunt to buy liquor but that I was different because it was for our guests, not me. Knoxville Dotcom had solid advice for me:
KnoxvilleDotcom @FrankMurphyCom Just be careful when you go to hoppin' trains.

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Friday, September 04, 2009

a real s'mouthful

The thought of Labor Day cookouts reminded me of a book I saw a few weeks ago at a silent auction. "S'mores" by Lisa Adams is full of mouth-watering photographs and recipes for gourmet marshmallow treats. The auction was part of the American Cancer Society benefit that brought Gilles Marini to town.

A Google Preview of the book shows s'mores made with pieces of fruit for a supposedly healthier snack. Other suggestions include using Milky Way Minis or Andes Mints instead of plain old Hershey's Bars.

The copy of the book I saw had a flyer for Plush Puffs Marshmallows inside the front cover. I didn't win the book at the auction but I did add it to my Amazon Wish List. The same publisher also has a book on homemade "Marshmallows" that looks good but would involve a lot more work than a s'more.

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Thursday, September 03, 2009


Over the years, a few of my blog entries have covered topics similar to Carly Harrington's excellent "The Bottom Line" blog. She reports on the openings and closings of local businesses. I'm especially interested in her restaurant coverage. For example, I certainly thought of Carly when I happened to be the first person to show up on opening day at Two Sisters Sandwiches & Sweets.

A couple of things happened today that also reminded me of her column. I drove past Pup's Pit and noticed they had moved. A sign on the window announced that their new location is on Northshore Drive at Rocky Hill. The most obvious reason I thought of Carly was the notification I received this afternoon that knoxgirl75 had started following my Twitter feed. It's no wonder that Carly is thought of as "the face of newsroom innovation."

"The Bottom Line" crossed my mind last Friday when I attended the ribbon cutting ceremony at the new location for Academy Ballroom. As I was taking a picture of their new sign, another new sign caught my eye. Hard Knox Pizza recently opened a few doors down from the dance studio. I stopped in to look around and promised owners Dean and Jill that I would be back for a meal with my wife. I'll be sure to wave at their webcam.

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Wednesday, September 02, 2009

you're not gone till you've been

The line to get in to Jack's Bar-B-Que on Broadway in Nashville was too long. My friends from Wise Brother Media had to catch a flight back to Los Angeles after the Morning Show Bootcamp. They wanted to grab a quick lunch and decided to keep walking down the street to someplace less popular. I went with them but made a mental note to come back to Jack's next time I was in Nashville.

Last week my wife and I were on our way home from Missouri. We were approaching Nashville around dinner time when I saw a billboard along I-24 for Jack's. The sign told us to exit on Trinity Lane, a couple of miles before we hit downtown. We found ourselves at Jack's other location in Talbot's Corner.

We ordered chicken for dinner but will positively plan ahead to have pork the next time. My wife ordered greens as her side item. I thought they might have been collard but they were probably turnip, based on what I read on Jack's website. The people behind me in line laughed when I couldn't identify which of the three varieties in front of me was chess pie. The other two were chocolate and pecan. Next time I'll try a piece of chess. Or should I say chess piece?

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Tuesday, September 01, 2009

upper class twit of the year

Because today was my first day with a new QWERTY phone, I was inspired. My wife and kids chipped in to buy me an LG enV3. It makes it much easier to exchange text messages with the kids and to post status updates to Facebook and Twitter.

A week ago, I used my old phone to post a couple of Twitpics during the Einstein Simplified improv show. I was eager to try out the better camera on my new phone during tonight's show at Patrick Sullivan's. This afternoon I thought about posting the pictures to my own Twitter account and decided that the group should be on Twitter too.

I created an account and sent the password to the other members. Unfortunately Twitter only allows 15 characters for its user names, so I couldn't get "EinsteinSimplified." Instead I settled on "EinsteinImprov." This is the same reason my personal account is "FrankMurphyCom" instead of "FrankMurphyDotCom."

Obviously, I haven't figured out how to use the camera yet. The three pictures I posted came out sideways. Mike Richardson got involved by posting two TwitVids, one before and one during the show.

For the bio line on our Twitter account, I typed "Relatively Funny, in Theory." I liked the way Paul Simmons accepted it and advanced it by changing it to Relatively Funny, in Theory, Hilarious in Fact."

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