Friday, November 13, 2009

(404) not found

When Emily Loyless texted to tell me that she was headed to Atlanta this weekend for a local version of "Dancing with the Stars," I eagerly clicked on the link hoping to recognize a news anchor or radio host among the participants. The contestants include a TV weatherman, a magazine editor and the head of a local convention and visitors bureau.

To my mild disappointment, there was no Ted Hall or Bert Weiss in the competition. The event did get me thinking, however. Which local celebrities should be invited by East Tennessee Children's Hospital to participate in the next edition of Star 102.1's Dancing with the Knoxville Stars? Leave your suggestions in the comment section by clicking here. I'll give you a big hint about who would get my vote:

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Monday, June 15, 2009

dance hall days

The Dance Dimensions Summer Invitational reminded me of another type of event that I used to attend on a regular basis. My son swam for his high school in the winter and for a neighborhood pool in the summer. The dance competition was a lot like a swim meet.

Don't get me wrong, it's not like lifeguards had to clean up the dance floor or anything. However both events had multiple heats and heat sheets to keep things organized. The different dances were like the different swim strokes. The announcers use code-like jargon and the participants had their snacks, smoothies and a change of clothes at all the tables. Like swimmers, Emily Loyless and Jeremy Norris were wearing warm-up jackets, except that theirs were from the Hotlanta Dance Challenge.

My wife and I could only stay and watch for an hour or so on Saturday afternoon. Most of the competitors we saw were pro-am couples. The dancers know which style is coming but not which song. They have to quickly find the beat and get started. Several of the professionals had participated in "Star 102.1's Dancing with the Knoxville Stars." In addition to Emily and Jeremy, we saw Charles Gibbs and all three Beckers: Mark, Rhonda and J.W. It seemed to me that most of the instructors were younger than their students. A photographer named Tim McGhee was snapping pictures which are available for sale on his website. He took both candid and posed shots.

Emily and I will soon start practicing for a reprise of our rumba routine. We are scheduled to perform during the Friday night dance party at Academy Ballroom on June 26. I have to figure out what to wear that night. When we danced in April, my tuxedo was provided by a sponsor. Emily would turn some heads if she wears the same thing she wore Saturday.

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Tuesday, March 17, 2009


A long line of soldiers stood waiting to board a plane at the Atlanta airport on Friday, each with a hint of green in their uniforms. They were taking a charter flight aboard Omni Air International. Where were they headed a scant few days before St. Patrick's Day? To Shannon, Ireland, of course!

Have a great holiday. Maybe I'll defrost one of the small loaves of Irish Soda Bread that have been in the freezer since last year.

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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

fat Tuesday

Comedian Pat Godwin wrote a note on my wall Sunday that asked "who is that thin guy in your profile photo?" It was a callback to our conversation at the old Comedy Zone a year and a half ago. I wrote back that I might dare to post a "before" photo that he would recognize. The inspiration to do so came during lunch today when I chose a sauce for my chicken.

When my wife and I went to the fancy Kroger this weekend, I noticed that they carry the delicious Roasted Raspberry Chipotle Sauce that I love. They sell the 15.75 ounce bottles for $7.49, which is more than the $6.87 I used to pay for a 40 ounce bottle at Sam's Club.

The word chipotle caught my eye on another label I knew. Williamson Bros. Bar-B-Q has a new Spicy Chipotle B-B-Q Sauce that I wanted to try. I bought a 16 ounce bottle for $2.99. It's noticeably spicier than their regular sauce, which I've used in the past.

The message from Pat and the bottle of sauce combined to make me flashback to a trip my family took to Atlanta in May, 2005. We ate at the Williamson Bros. restaurant in nearby Marietta. It was still four months before I started the weight loss program that changed my life.

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Wednesday, August 13, 2008

pool shark

Backyard swimmers like me can take some comfort from the fact that even the best swimmer in the world can find his goggles filled with water. That's what happened to the amazing Michael Phelps last night during the 200 meter butterfly race. Despite the setback, Phelps still set a new world record and added to his collection of gold medals.

The 12-hour time difference between here and China allows me to watch the swimming events live as I type this. Dan Hicks and Rowdy Gaines are doing a great job announcing. Imagine how they would have sounded describing discontinued Olympic events like the swimming obstacle race, underwater swimming or solo synchronized swimming. Huh?

NBC and ABC both ran stories on their evening newscasts about the technological advances that are helping this year's Olympians set new records in almost every swimming event. The pool inside the Beijing Water Cube is built for speed. Its depth, lane dividers and gutters all reduce the waves that would slow the competitors. Obviously the much-hyped new swimsuits get some credit. NASA engineers helped design a suit that is more streamlined than human skin. Most important is Phelps' training regimen and swimming technique. I heard him say tonight that one of his best tools is his underwater dolphin kick. His huge feet and gigantic wingspan don't hurt one bit.

The new pool technology isn't limited to Beijing or the temporary above-ground tank in Omaha. Last month my son swam in the new Allan Jones Intercollegiate Aquatic Center at UT. He and the rest of the City Meet swimmers thought it was a fast pool, certainly an improvement over the old Student Aquatic Center.

On my last trip to Atlanta, I had a chance to see the pool used in the 1996 Olympics. It now belongs to Georgia Tech. They put a school logo on the bottom of the diving well. From my perspective, it looked a lot like the handicap symbol in the foreground.

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Sunday, July 27, 2008

almost a chicken and waffle

It was only my third time inside a Waffle House yesterday. When I first moved here, I went to the Waffle House on Papermill Drive to record a segment about what belongs on top of grits. My radio partner thought it was sacrilege that I put sugar on my grits.

My first experience with the House was in Tulsa many years ago. Don & Mike had planned on doing a live broadcast in front of Oral Roberts University on the day that Oral had set as a fund raising deadline. If he didn't get the cash, the Lord was going to call him home. Back in those days we would rent a big satellite truck for remotes from other cities. We were going to set up the truck in the parking lot of our hotel, right across the street from ORU. Our permission was revoked when the hotel manager figured out what we were planning. We were told that Oral also owned the hotel's land and virtually the whole neighborhood. Without a place to put the truck, we ended up calling in to the studio from various pay phones (remember those?) around Tulsa. I used a phone at a Waffle House for my live report.

My friend Sandy Weaver Carman and her husband were passing through town yesterday, so we arranged to meet for breakfast. Before heading out to our meeting, we tried to figure out how to make it sound like we were going to a fancy restaurant, similar to the way Target is often pronounced with a French accent. I asked my son how to say Waffle House in Spanish. He came up with "Casa de Indecisión."

It was great to see Sandy and her husband again. It's been a few years since we last visited her at a canine agility event near Atlanta. My wife and I were also happy to see her dog Billy who had come along for the ride. Once we were settled into the booth, we talked about Sandy's new voiceover business, my improv group, some former co-workers and radio in general. I would have liked to chat a lot longer but I stopped myself from bringing up new topics because I knew that they had to get on the road. Sandy's husband seemed very curious about improv. He has never seen "Whose Line Is It Anyway?" so I couldn't use that as a reference point. Maybe he can watch one of our YouTube videos.

For breakfast, I ordered one egg and split a waffle with my wife. I should have taken the extra calories and had the regular syrup. The sugar-free stuff tasted nasty to me. Sandy and her husband asked if I was sure I didn't want to eat anything more. After all, they said, it didn't look like I needed to lose any weight. I said that I was only trying to not gain it back. They must not remember how big I was three years ago, like in these before photos. Here's another one, taken while on a trip to Sandy's part of the world. That's me on the right, smart aleck.

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Wednesday, October 17, 2007

with steam coming out of his ears

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

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

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

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

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Tuesday, July 24, 2007

hankerin' for some doughnuts

Hank Aaron’s longstanding home run record is about to be broken by Barry Bonds. When Hammerin’ Hank turned 70 a few years ago, I was working at an oldies station. A story about Hank in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution gave me an idea. According to the article, Hank made an early morning stop every day at the Krispy Kreme franchise he owns. We would call the doughnut shop and wish Hank a happy birthday. Each morning during the week of his birthday we called the Krispy Kreme and asked for Hank. Each morning we missed him by a few minutes. Fortunately for me, the employees who answered the phone had great personalities. Click here to listen to an edited montage of the phone calls and the ultimate payoff when we tried calling one of the car dealerships Hank owns.

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Thursday, May 24, 2007

two of a kind

The Mets lost two out of three games to the Braves in Atlanta this week. They're still on top of the division though. Atlanta is only three hours from here. One of these days, when the schedule permits, I would like to go see the Mets at Turner Field. Last year I saw them at RFK Stadium.

One of the other deejays in our building, T the R.O.P., is also a Mets fan. He went to the game on Tuesday night and drove back Wednesday morning in time for his 10:00 a.m. shift. While he was there, he got Endy Chavez to autograph a photo of the amazin' catch he made in the NLCS last October. As soon as he got to work Wednesday, T showed me a video of the encounter, which he posted online today. As you can see, he looks nothing like football star Jared Lorenzen, despite what I wrote in January. Well, maybe there's a slight resemblance. Who am I kidding? They could be brothers.

PS: Happy birthday to the man who raised me to be a Mets fan.

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Wednesday, March 21, 2007

omega-3 fatty acid trip

The Georgia Aquarium is the world's largest and most engaging. It says so right on their website. Normally they start by engaging $10 from your wallet to pay for parking in their structure. Because we had heard that the $24 admission tickets are often sold out, we bought ours through the website the night before we went. When we arrived at 10:00 a.m. yesterday, we were able to find a parking space right across the street for only $5. The price had risen to $7 by the time we returned to our car around 1:30 p.m.

The answers to the frequently asked questions warned us not to bring the obvious things like guns, knives, lighters or fishing poles. I was immediately reminded of an episode of "The Beverly Hillbillies" in which the Clampetts went on a fishing trip to Marineland.

The Georgia Aquarium was a gift to Atlanta from Bernie Marcus, the co-founder of Home Depot. They repaid his generosity by naming the aquarium's Nemo-like mascot "Deepo." The aquarium is so popular that another major tourist attraction is moving in next door. The current World of Coca-Cola is closing its doors on April 7 to re-open in the new location on May 24.

As a fan of all turtles, the aquarium's loggerhead sea turtle was an immediate favorite of mine. I liked the whale sharks not only because of their impressive size but because they are named after the characters in "The Honeymooners."

I had to look pretty hard to find some tuna in the aquarium. Turns out, they were swimming in mayonnaise. Nearby some Gummi fish were frolicking in blue Jell-O.

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Tuesday, March 20, 2007

peachy keen

It was great to see a familiar face on the local news in Atlanta last night. Ted Hall has been in Atlanta for just over a year but he already looks and sounds as comfortable behind the anchor desk as he did after 17 years in Knoxville. I only got to see Ted do one newscast before we came back home. More of his work is available online, including several installments of his feature, "Ted's Hall of Fame." Ted's anchoring skills are second to none. As much as I enjoyed watching him again, it did feel a little weird to see him interact with his new TV family.

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Monday, March 19, 2007

prospero año

The frequent promos for "Are You Smarter than a Fifth Grader?" are making me realize how much Jeff Foxworthy looks like my friend Loo Katz, who hosts morning drive on WASH-FM. Loo might have looked a little more like Foxworthy back when he was hanging out with rock stars.

My family and I saw an autographed picture of Jeff Foxworthy on display at The Varsity in Atlanta. It was near the picture of the landmark restaurant's most famous carhop, the late Nipsey Russell.

If you haven't been to The Varsity, you haven't really been to Atlanta. The Journal Constitution included it as one of their Atlanta icons last summer. The original newspaper article is on display in the same case as the autographed photos. You can read the feature and watch a slideshow online.

While in Atlanta, we learned that Jeff Foxworthy is one of the most famous (perhaps the most famous?) alumnus of Georgia Tech, which is right across the freeway from the Varsity. We also learned that The Varsity was founded by a Georgia Tech dropout who wanted to show his former teachers that he could make something of himself. The Varsity is a short walk from Bobby Dodd Stadium, where I imagine they must sing "Feliz Bobby Dodd" after every touchdown.

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