Tuesday, March 30, 2010

with a belt

One of the things I will miss about Blogger.com is the reading list on my dashboard. My type of blog is being kicked to the curb by the Blogger software developers. Originally their deadline was last Friday. They have extended it until May 1 but I have decided to flip the switch to my new WordPress blog on April 1.

Today I am trying to figure out how to best use the sidebars and widgets on my new site. Some of the items, like the appeal for camera donations, will go away. The Twitter feed may look different, depending on what widget I use. I have been experimenting with WordPress since March 1. When you finally see the updated blog, it will have a month's worth of archived posts.

The Blogger reading list is where I saw a link to Dave & Thomas today. The Knoxville blog duo has gotten on the Wesley Willis bandwagon, which I've been on since the mid 1990s. The collection of Wesley Willis music videos on YouTube got me thinking. Who do I know that would want to, just for fun, make a music video for the song that the late, great Wesley wrote about me?

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Friday, March 19, 2010

without a net

Skydiving and bungee jumping will never appeal to me. I wonder if the rush that you get from surviving is similar to the feeling I had last night when I stepped off the stage at the benefit dinner for Catholic Charities of East Tennessee. Event chair Tami Hartmann asked me to auction off an expensive bottle of Beaux Frères wine and then auction off dinner for ten with Bishop Stika right there in front of Bishop Stika.

photo by Cynthia Moxley; used by permission Cynthia Moxley and Alan Carmichael were seated front and center. I joked that I might finally rate a mention in Cynthia's Blue Streak blog, which was recognized by the News Sentinel's readers last fall. She wrote about the dinner and included a photo of me in full auction action.

At the time, I thought my anxiety came from doing shtick in front of the Bishop and so many priests and people I knew from church. In hindsight, I realize that my jokes were no worse than the things I said at the roast for Fr. Ragan Schriver. For example, I said that whoever bought the pricey Pinot Noir should share it with Bishop Stika because it was heart-healthy. I also said that I hoped someone from my parish would buy the dinner and once everyone was relaxed and in a good mood, they would lobby the Bishop for an additional priest to be sent to All Saints, which now has only two left. However, I can't remember most of the things I said. Fr. Christian Mathis, who recognized me from my blog, posted one of my jokes on Twitter. If you were there last night and can help me fill in the blanks, please leave a comment here.

The Bishop graciously accepted my wisecracks and afterward asked if I had previous auctioning experience. I told him it was actually my first time and that I had tried to copy Bear Stephenson, the great auctioneer at the March of Dimes Signature Chefs Auction. I still have a lot to learn. I think my case of nerves happened when the bidding for the dinner at any Connor Concepts restaurant slowed and eventually stopped at $3,500. I guess I was hoping for more.

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Friday, March 05, 2010

having a laugh

The last few minutes of a conversation with Ricky Gervais were winding down when I flipped on the radio the other day. I find the British comedian consistently amusing, so I made a mental note to find the rest of the interview online. Gervais and David Bianculli talked about the new HBO series which takes audio from the comic’s BBC podcasts and adds animation designed to resemble the old Hanna-Barbera cartoons. They spent a little time on "The Office" and maybe a tiny bit more time on "Extras." He chose to have his "Extras" character espouse atheism, the same way he does in real life. Obviously, I disagree with his atheistic beliefs but I wasn’t going to let that ruin my day. At the end of the show, Gervais had me laughing again and wanting to see the episode of "The Marriage Ref" featuring him, Madonna and Larry David.

Locally, the Gervais interview was followed by a monthly public affairs show. The topic for March was social media. My favorite part was a phone call from an enthusiastic listener who wanted to know how to use a blog or Facebook to build his lawn mowing business. The panel said he could use a blog to share his landscaping knowledge, thereby making himself known as an expert on the subject.

I have been taking advantage of the free coffee coupons offered on the Facebook page for Pilot Travel Centers. The coupons that expired at the end of February were good at any Pilot location. The new coupons, valid through the end of May, are buy-one-get-one-free coupons for any hot beverage at Pilot Food Mart stores, which are all over East Tennessee. There is a second coupon for a free coffee, but to use it, I have to leave my immediate area and find a Pilot Travel Center. I guess they’re on to me.

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Monday, March 01, 2010

write stuff

Writing this blog is my hobby. It ties together most of my other varied interests and provides me with a stream of consciousness memoir that I can read in the future. I often look at old posts to remind myself of things I've done and places I've been. This past weekend, I read about my trip down Route 66 in Missouri because the Viva Cuba blog had linked to mine.

When I write a blog post, each hyperlink represents a tangent thought. I remember when Scott Mason at KROQ first explained the World Wide Web to me. I latched onto the concept because a page full of hyperlinks is a lot like the way my mind works.

Four and a half years ago, I started writing a daily blog on my website. I took the easy way out and used the overly simple Blogger.com software to create it. As I mentioned last month, Blogger is dropping the methodology I use to transfer my paragraphs from their site to my site each day. I have three and a half weeks to find a new way of doing things.

I decided to switch my blog to WordPress. While everything still looks the same to you, I am beta-testing WordPress behind the scenes. Starting today, I will write my posts in WordPress and then copy and paste them into Blogger. On or before March 26, you'll see my new WordPress site with a small collection of "older posts" dating back to March 1. The archives from 2005 until now will also be available. I don't know exactly how yet.

Yesterday, I spent a significant chunk of time chatting online with tech support from MyHosting.com. I think they are located in Canada, so I made sure to congratulate them on the Olympic hockey game, which was happening at the time. The guy from MyHosting was able to solve a problem the WordPress software had with the file permissions on my site. We're not done yet. There are still aspects of my WordPress template that I can't figure out how to modify.

Next week I plan to use a couple of my vacation days to tend to blog maintenance. Staying home and working on my computer may not be as glamorous as last year's Spring break in Florida but I am very much looking forward to it.

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Saturday, February 27, 2010

blog blah blah

The response to this year's blogger night at the Knoxville Symphony was somewhat less than last year. The free tickets were limited to active bloggers. Stephanie Burdette and I speculated that the decrease may have been due to the rising popularity of Twitter. As you can imagine, "tweeting" during a concert at the Tennessee Theatre would be disruptive. Stephanie tells me that plans are in the works for a "twymphony" concert at an outdoor venue.

Former Knoxville news anchor Stacy McCloud is active on Facebook and Twitter. She often posts updates about the celebrities she meets through her new job as the entertainment reporter at Fox 17 in Nashville. Recently Stacy and I have been corresponding about her desire to write more than 140 characters on certain topics. I advised her to go ahead and do it. She decided to start a personal blog for her non-work-related thoughts at www.simplystacy.com.

Jane Reed, a blogger in Cuba, Missouri, emailed me today. She had written an entry about the World's Largest Rocking Chair and included links to my post about the chair. I wonder if I can persuade her to link to my posts about Oreo pancakes and Cuba's murals.

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Thursday, February 25, 2010

where there's a will

If Casey Kasem was around back in the heyday of classical music, and I'm not saying he wasn't, the orchestral pieces at the top of the pop chart would be my favorites. My tastes in the fine arts don't run very deep. I heard something I liked on WUOT the other day and wasn't the least bit surprised to discover that it was one of Beethoven's symphonies, I think they said it was the 4th. I also like stuff by Mozart and Tchaikovsky.

Tonight's performance by the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra featured a couple of pieces that anybody would recognize, classical fan or not. The theme of the program was "Shakespeare in Love," with music inspired by the works of the bard. The KSO once again provided free tickets to bloggers willing to write about their experience at the show.

I was happy to see Einstein Simplified alumnus Todd Covert and his wife Donna in the audience. Todd will be guest-blogging for our mutual friend Jacene's site. Since Jacene missed tonight's show, my wife suggested that I invite her to come to the Knoxville Choral Society concert on Saturday.

A small group of sopranos and altos from the Choral Society sang during the second half of tonight's show. They provided the voice of the chorus during selections from Mendelssohn's "A Midsummer Night's Dream." I had no idea until tonight that the opus includes the famous "Wedding March" we've all heard countless times. Four actors from the Clarence Brown Theatre performed some lines from Shakespeare's play while wearing different hats to represent the multiple characters they portrayed. Of the four, I was especially impressed and amused by David Kortemeier. He was clean-shaven in his publicity photo but had a beard on stage. My guess is that he grew it in preparation for his upcoming role as Don Quixote.

The best part of the concert came right before intermission. The orchestra played Tchaikovsky's "Romeo and Juliet Fantasy Overture." As promised by Maestro Lucas Richman, I could imagine both the swooning and the sword fights from the play. The program repeats Friday night at the historic Tennessee Theatre.

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Sunday, February 21, 2010

sun of a niche

Cassie is a fellow blogger and Twitterer who often takes the time to post comments on my blog entries. I hope she takes advantage of the free symphony tickets available to bloggers this week. She was the first person to make an online donation to my camera replacement fund and recently gave me some old souvenirs that made me very happy.

Perhaps Cassie remembers a 2007 post of mine about some plastic cups I got at Patrick Sullivan's. Or maybe she has discerned over the years that I wish I had visited Knoxville during the summer of 1982. Instead, I spent that summer working for free at a bankrupt little AM station in Herndon, Virginia.

Today my wife and I took the items from Cassie back to their roots. It was a beautiful day for a visit to World's Fair Park, where I posed with a commemorative dish and snow globe from the 1982 World's Fair.

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Thursday, February 04, 2010

ever and anon

A potential blogger emailed me early this morning. She introduced herself as a friend of a college friend of mine. She immediately flattered me by saying that my name had come up in their conversations several times over the years. Here is the main part of her email:
Two great passions of mine are the arts and travel. While getting laid off from the travel industry has put a hold on any travel desires, living in New York gives me the solace of the arts, especially the performing arts; almost as necessary to me as the air I breathe. (Which, thankfully, there are inexpensive ways of enjoying.) A musician friend, whose talent and taste I hold in great esteem, has been urging me for months to start a blog of my impressions of performances, art exhibits, and other arts-related notes. Hopefully, travel will come back into my life and those observations can be added as well.

Amongst all the other decisions - name, colors, graphics, fonts - is the question of whether to use my real name or not. Although my musician friend says he wouldn't compose anonymously, this is slightly different. As I am applying to job postings from arts organizations it gives me pause. Part of me says I am being ridiculous. First of all, who says any of these people are going to even find, much less read my blog and, secondly, it's not as though I would be insulting to anyone. But, caution plays a part because of my jobless situation, although another friend of mine who is always cautious, thinks my writing could wind up generating interest that could benefit my career. (But, playing devil's advocate, anyone could respond via the e-mail link if they want to contact me.)
I am not a fan of anonymous blogs. They seem cowardly to me. Within the past year I exchanged emails with an anonymous blogger who ended up deleting her blog because people were starting to figure out that she lived in Knoxville.

I think she has to assume that her blog will eventually be discovered. Is she willing to deal with the consequences when that happens? What does she have to say that she would be ashamed to attach her name to? And if she is ashamed to say it publicly, should she really be saying it in the first place?

I do believe in blogs as a way to promote your personal brand. Put yourself in the position of someone who is hiring in 2010. Which candidate do they hire, the person with no online presence or the person who has figured out how to use blogs, Twitter and Facebook?

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Wednesday, February 03, 2010

orange barrels

Many of the web designers, I.T. guys and better bloggers I've known over the past few years have advised me to use different software on my website. Specifically they wanted me to dump Blogger.com. However I thought of the old adage, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it."

Back in the olden days, my choice of web hosting service was based on whether or not they could handle Microsoft FrontPage extensions. The computer guru at KLOS helped me get started. I still use FrontPage to upload photos to my site, even though Microsoft discontinued the product about three years ago.

At first, I used my website to host my résumé, some sound files and some photos of my trip to Alaska. All that changed in 2005 when I decided to start writing a daily blog. Rich Hailey, my "blogfather," told me about the software he used at the time, which I think was Movable Type. I downloaded it and looked it over but ultimately went with a beginner-level choice. I've been using Blogger.com ever since.

Most people who use Blogger have a URL that ends with "blogspot.com." It means that their content is hosted for free by Google. Because I already had my own domain, I decided to reinforce my personal brand by keeping the blog at frankmurphy.com. Blogger had a simple option for that. I upload each new entry from Blogger's interface to frankmurphy.com using their FTP service.

Yesterday I got an email from Blogger that made me feel like they were breaking up with me. Apparently I have one of only .5% of active blogs that are published via FTP.
Dear FTP user:
You are receiving this e-mail because one or more of your blogs at Blogger.com are set up to publish via FTP. We recently announced a planned shut-down of FTP support on Blogger Buzz (the official Blogger blog), and wanted to make sure you saw the announcement. We will be following up with more information via e-mail in the weeks ahead, and regularly updating a blog dedicated to this service shut-down here: http://blogger-ftp.blogspot.com/.
There are about seven weeks before my FTP blog gets kicked to the curb. I have a lot of reading to do before I will fully understand my Internet options. At first glance it looks like I could let Google become my hosting service. Because I want my blog to be a large part of my site but not all of it, that may not be the best option for me.

Chris Townsend, the talented web designer who started Maverick Advertising, has suggested several times that I migrate my blog to WordPress. Migrating makes me nervous because I worry that something will be lost in translation. I dread the possible abundance of broken links. Nevertheless, I have set March 1 as a target date to make some kind of switch. The road ahead may be a little bumpy but I hope you'll stick with me.

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Tuesday, January 26, 2010

laugh factory

On the trip to bring him back to school, one of the many things my son and I talked about was my blog entry about "Ed Gein: The Musical." I was pleased that the film's producers had seen my post and left a comment. They liked my idea for a parody song called "You: Suede Shoes."

I explained to my son that I didn't feel particularly funny when I was writing that post. Most of it was fairly standard but I thought it needed some jokes to close it out. Since comedy comes in threes, all I had to do was make up three quick punchlines. To do so, I used a comedy technique that I call "one from column A and one from column B."

In this case, column A would be a list of easily recognizable Elvis songs. I've been to Graceland and worked at an oldies station, so I knew plenty. If I didn't, a list is only a click away at Wikipedia. Column B would be anything Gein-related, like body parts or heinous crimes. Then it's just a matter of finding matches.

I suspect that certain movie companies in the San Fernando Valley use the same basic concept to name their movies. Last month, I used it to make up a bunch of "Avatar" jokes on Twitter.

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Saturday, January 23, 2010

to blog or not to blog

Have Twitter and Facebook taken the spotlight away from blogs? My friend Bean, for example, gave up his blog in favor of Twitter. However, several blog writers use Facebook or Twitter as a way to disseminate links to their latest blog entries.

Once again, the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra has a nice treat for those of us who have stood by our blogs. They are offering a pair of tickets to their "Shakespeare in Love" concert on Thursday, February 25th in exchange for a blog entry about the experience. Tweets and Facebook status updates don't count. To qualify, blogs must be public and must be updated at least once a month.

The program promises to be a fun one to write about. It features actors from the Clarence Brown Theatre reciting lines from "A Midsummer Night's Dream" as the orchestra plays Mendelssohn’s work. Women from the Knoxville Chamber Chorale will sing during that piece as well.

Even those with very little exposure to classical music will recognize parts of the "Romeo and Juliet Fantasy Overture" by Tchaikovsky. I remember it from a TV commercial for a record album that ran repeatedly on New York television when I was young.

Bloggers who feel they are up to the challenge can contact Stephanie Burdette with the URL to their blog. It would also be nice if you share the link to this post with your friends who might be interested. You can go ahead and use Twitter or Facebook for that.

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Saturday, November 28, 2009

losers weepers

Like many Americans, my children and I were at Sears at 4:00 a.m. on Friday to shop for door-buster deals. I took a couple of pictures of them with their purchases before I had to leave for work at 5:00 a.m.

A sudden change of plans had me going back to West Town Mall at 6:30 a.m. I paused at the trunk of my car to take off my coat and put on a hooded sweatshirt with the radio station logo. I thought I switched my camera from the coat pocket to the hoodie pocket but I must have dropped it during that transaction. I didn't notice that it was missing until a few hours later.

It might have gotten run over in the parking lot and smashed into a million pieces. It might have been turned over to lost & found. Or it might have been kept by the person who found it. There were no broken bits in the parking lot when I went back to look. Mall security said they didn't have it. I can only hope that before erasing the memory card, the finder sees the humor in sending a few photos to the "Found Cameras and Orphan Pictures" website.

Fortunately I already posted most of the pictures on the card to my blog. However there were still a few I hadn't gotten to yet. Without a "real" camera, I will have to rely on my LG enV3 to illustrate future posts. Here's where you regular readers can help.

I would not do this on the radio, but it is considered normal in the blogosphere to ask for a little money. Newscoma has a link for you to "buy the girl a beer." The Oatmeal asks you to buy them a cup of coffee. If all the visitors to my blog gave me a dollar or two, I would have enough for a new camera in no time. Think of it as an investment in your future enjoyment.

My beautiful, intelligent and successful daughter gave me the first dollar for the fund. It was marked with a rubber stamp from WheresGeorge.com. If you want to play along, you can track it yourself. Since I can't photograph myself with the bill, my daughter made a picture on her computer.

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Sunday, November 01, 2009

caffeine quest

Every once in a while, one of those "every day for a year" blogs gets some publicity. I've seen articles about travel blogs and food blogs along those lines. Perhaps the most famous would be "The Julie/Julia Project" which became a book and a movie.

Earlier today I had the idea to do a "how I got free coffee for a year" blog but talked myself out of it. After all, six days a week I would only write: "Brewed a pot of delicious Javarama at work." Most people who work in offices have access to coffee paid for by their employer.

The short-lived inspiration struck me while I was redeeming a coupon at Starbucks. The coupons I received during the Via taste test will expire on November 16. I also used a Starbucks coupon on Thursday night before seeing the Body Farm slide show at the FBI Citizens Academy. I didn't want to be drowsy for that.

I saw a sign offering free coffee at Food City with the purchase of a breakfast at their deli counter. I could afford the $1.99 for the food but not all the calories of the biscuit, gravy, sausage and eggs. I skipped that deal and went to the aforementioned Starbucks after buying my groceries.

Later this month, my wife and I are going to a party in Gatlinburg. The party hosts have arranged for a group rate at one of the nearby hotels so that nobody has to drive home. I'm assuming that not every couple has a designated driver like my wife usually does. I called the hotel today to ask about coffee and other amenities. They don't serve it in the lobby however they do have coffee makers in the rooms, so I'm covered that day. I hope it tastes better than the swill I got at a hotel in Norfolk.

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Thursday, October 15, 2009

a charm

When the call never came, I assumed that my two-year run as one of Knoxville's favorite bloggers had ended. I was very happy and thankful to learn this morning that I was mistaken. In the East Tennessee's Best poll that will be in tomorrow's paper, my humble blog made the top three for the third consecutive year. My sincere thanks to all who voted for me. Congratulations to this year's winner, public relations powerhouse Cynthia Moxley and to the other runner-up, the anonymous Knox Animal. I feel foolish for not reading their blogs before tonight.

Here's a little secret about the News Sentinel readers' poll. When you win, they generally contact you in advance and arrange for a photo session. Last year, the late Clay Owen took my picture at Patrick Sullivan's. In 2007, when I was a runner-up, they called me and asked if I wanted to buy a self-congratulatory ad.

A few weeks ago venerable photographer J. Miles Cary came to the radio station to take a picture of my morning show co-hosts and me. It was our first win in the Best Local Radio Personality category after being runners-up in the past. Last month I saw something on Twitter about Saul Young taking a picture of some food at the Creamery Park Grille. I realize now that it was for their win in the Best Sunday Brunch category.

Speaking of Twitter, the new poll reflects the times by honoring East Tennessee's Best Local Tweeter. The winner was the very same Cynthia Moxley. Runners-up were Jeremy Floyd and Jimmy Holt. I am going to try following Cynthia and Jeremy as of tonight. I've been following Jimmy's tweets since seeing him at Chick-Fil-A on Labor Day. That's how I knew when they tried to sell him an ad for being a runner-up.

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Monday, October 12, 2009

don'ts and dos

A coward hiding behind anonymity attempted to place a comment on my blog yesterday. He or she appears to be insanely jealous of a Knoxville news anchor who has been the subject of a post or two of mine in the past. I rejected the comment but it irked me so that I want to share parts of it as a lesson in how not to get your comment published.
[Local Anchor] was, is, and will always be an idiot. She got her job on [local channel] based on her looks. She struggled with any word longer than four letters, and she always looked proud of herself when she actually got through a story without her [local] accent bleeding through. [specific insults removed] She was born on third base and thinks she hit a triple. Is it possible to get someone easy on the eyes that can actually read? Good Riddence, [sic] moron.
I stand by my earlier praise of the news anchor that Anonymous tried to defame. She deserves her success because she is a good communicator. The only moron is the unknown commenter who is just wrong in their opinion.

In happier local TV developments, WATE has hired a new morning reporter. News director Jamie Foster boasted on his Twitter account about Jamie Lynn Drohan. She's on Twitter, of course, and has been posting updates about her move to Knoxville.

A news article on Westfield Patch says that the male Jamie contacted the female Jamie about the job opening via Twitter. He saw her demo on YouTube and offered her the job. I suspect the Patch article is wrong about at least one thing. It says Drohan will be a co-anchor of "Good Morning Tennessee." Foster's Twitter posts describe her as a reporter. It's a big difference, especially if your name is Tearsa Smith or Bo Williams.

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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 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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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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Sunday, August 09, 2009

down by the schoolyard

It was a Julie, Julie and Julia weekend for my wife and me. On Saturday night we laughed a lot at the very funny Julie Scoggins. She performed at Side Splitters Comedy Club. It would be well worth your time to see her show the next time she's in town.

On Sunday, we saw the terrific new movie "Julie & Julia." I really enjoy watching Amy Adams in just about anything. One of my family's favorite films is her first, "Drop Dead Gorgeous." The real Julie Powell's blog is still online. If you had the time, you could go back to the beginning and read the whole thing.

Once again, it was loads of fun to hear Meryl Streep's voice. Certain syllables rang especially true. The only thing missing for me was the John Morris theme song I remember from later episodes of "The French Chef." The theme music used in the movie was the same as in a black and white 1964 episode that PBS has posted online. They had time for Dan Aykroyd's memorable "Saturday Night Live" parody but not the music I wanted to hear.

Julia Child came to KLOS once. Around that time, we had a string of food experts on as guests on the Mark & Brian show and I was looking for ways to set their segments apart. When Debbi Fields came in, I had her book publicist send along a food stylist who set up little Pyrex dishes with various ingredients. While she was being interviewed, Mrs. Fields mixed together a batch of cookie dough. Emeril Lagasse was also promoting a book. I arranged with a nearby IHOP for all of us to show up and have Emeril surprise some patrons. He added some "Bam" to their breakfasts while broadcasting live.

Before Julia Child's visit, I thought about what would be the most intimidating thing when meeting a famous chef. She would be promoting a new "Baking with Julia" cookbook. I challenged Mark and Brian to each choose a page at random. They had to prepare the dishes at home and serve them to Julia the next morning. Either the food tasted good or Julia played along. She was nothing but gracious to us all.

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Saturday, August 01, 2009

digital examination

A few old pals were in Nashville for Morning Show Bootcamp this past week. Some additional responsibilities at work kept me from attending on Thursday or Friday but I was able to stop by today for the final two seminars.

I especially enjoyed the Digital Media Forum and not just because today happens to be my blog's fourth anniversary. The session was moderated by Jeff Dauler. The panelists were John Peake, Kipper McGee, Joel Denver, Daniel Anstandig and Michael Gaston.

I came out of the meeting with a list of things to look up when I got home. Some had funny names like Twellow and Twuffer. One of the panelists uses Scribe4You to update his blog. Others recommended that website owners take a look at BrowserShots, Feng-Gui and Quantcast. If I had an iPhone, I would be interested in the FaceMic application, which was suggested by one of the attendees, Justin Kaiser. Justin also likes BlogDesk.

The panel said that it was only a matter of time before automobiles will have dashboard Wimax receivers. When that happens, we'll be able to drive around and listen to any radio station that streams on the web. It's up to each radio show to establish their own brand identity so they'll be ready to compete with thousands of choices during the morning commute instead of the just the others on the local AM and FM dials.

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Sunday, June 28, 2009

busy as Bourke Street

With all that happened lately, I didn't have an opportunity to share a photo of my birthday lunch. We'll get to that after a quick update on some of the things from last week. Deacon Patrick-Murphy Racey has posted a slide show of images from the funeral for Nancy and Peter Feist. It's impressive for me to see four bishops at my home parish.

Both Jack Lail and Michael Silence linked to my blog post about Michael Jackson and Elvis. Silence also linked to the picture of my birthday cupcakes. The photo turned out fairly well, if I say so myself.

Now that we're back on the topic, it's a family tradition to have lobster on my birthday. On Monday, I had a "cold water lobster tail" (probably Australian) and some sugar snap peas at Connor's.

While it was still very good, it wasn't from a true Maine lobster. Fortunately, I'll be able to get one of those when I go to Maine.

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Wednesday, April 22, 2009


Terry Morrow's phone call woke me from a deep sleep today. He wanted to make sure I knew that Abby Ham was returning to Knoxville. During my nap, my inbox had started to fill up with messages from people who had seen the bulletin on WBIR.com. Blogger Frank Strovel wanted to know if he was the first to email me. He was.

While I was practicing my dance routine at Academy Ballroom again, several more messages came in via email, Facebook and comments on this morning's non-Ham blog post. A comment from Heather pointed out that my name was mentioned in the comments on WBIR.com. Twice.

My hopes that I might be watching Abby on the noon news were quickly dashed by Terry's article. Instead she'll only be on in the morning, which is the newscast I can't watch because I'm already at work. In his interview with Abby, Terry asked why she would leave Cleveland for Knoxville. She said it puts her closer to her parents for when she's ready to start her own family. I jokingly told Terry that the real reason might be that she wants to participate in "Star 102.1's Dancing with the Knoxville Stars" next year. Why not?

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one for you, one for me

One of the items on Rich and Lissa's wedding gift registry appealed to my wife and one appealed to me. We gave them a set of four little trifle dishes and an ice cream scoop. We threw in a jar of Mrs. Richardson's hot fudge and a package of Oreo crumbles.

My wife made a chocolate trifle for Father's Day last year. This year she wanted to make two fruit trifles for Easter, one for the choir at All Saints Church and one to have at home. That meant she needed another large trifle dish. We looked up Rich & Lissa's registry again so she could get the same style at Bed Bath & Beyond. She got both the large dish and a set of four smaller ones.

The recipe is simple. She layered angel food cake with thawed-out frozen berries and topped it with a mix of cream cheese and sweetened condensed milk. It sat in the refrigerator overnight to allow the cake to soak up the juice. She's talking about making it again when we have to bring a dish to a reception with the Bishop after the Rite of Missioning at Sacred Heart Cathedral. It's part of my responsibility as an RCIA sponsor.

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Monday, April 20, 2009

dance like no one is watching

Carol Scott from "Hell's Kitchen" is determined to be the top fundraiser in "Dancing with the Knoxville Stars." Over the weekend, she sent me the following message on Facebook: "ooh, that Lori Tucker just passed me! Time to make more phone calls." Before long, Carol's total had zoomed past Lori's thanks to contributions from her relatives, including her Uncle Nutzy.

Each dollar I raise counts as one vote for my dancing. Sadly, I am lagging behind the TV women (and Terry Morrow). They have all received multiple donations in the three figures. While contributions of $100 and up are awesome (thank you, blog reader Tonya Estep!), we could catch up if each of my daily readers only donated $10. Of course not everyone can, but some can do $20.

As promised, I will continue to mention those who donate to Children's Hospital through my fundraising page. Thanks to Ice Bears fan Lori Ingram and her family, active All Saints parishioners Vicki and Bill Christensen as well as their daughter Shiona, former "Door Girl" Jennifer Bohlken, a nice person named Kristen, my partner Emily's parents and my own lovely daughter.

You can click here to contribute. So how am I doing on the dance floor? Here's a new video to watch while you reach for your credit card. Thanks to BJ Mora for putting it together.

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Tuesday, April 14, 2009

dollar dance

The rumbas on "Dancing With the Stars" don't have much in common with the rumba I was practicing on Monday night. I felt a bit of kinship with Steve-O, who was trying to fake romance with his partner Lacey. I logged on to ABC.com to throw them a sympathy vote.

The votes for "Dancing With the Knoxville Stars" come in the form of donations to East Tennessee Children's Hospital. As of this writing, Emily Loyless and I are tied with Terry Morrow and Rhonda Becker for seventh place. Both he and I have raised $225. Only two teams have raised less. Terry wrote a funny column about his dancing progress so far.

Obviously, I need to drum up more support. I hereby ask my friends in the blogosphere to consider putting a link to my fundraising page on their sites. Here's the URL: http://www.firstgiving.com/frankmurphy The idea was inspired by reader Crystal Myers, who made a donation and sent an email in response to last Tuesday's blog post:
Just wondering, my friend Mike Nicely made your blog by donating to your "DANCING" fund. We talk about you guys all the time and he convinced me to donate to you and get you boosted up. But what I am wondering is, will it make my name BLOG WORTHY? I mean, think of the donations you would get if people knew they were bloggable! You should throw that out there. Usually when they do radiothons, folks get a shout out. So think about it and watch the Benjamins roll in or, in these tough economic times, Washingtons! But hey, it's all for an awesome cause!
I'll do it! Thanks go to my friends Keith & Kathy (the candy maker) and Marcee & Chris (of Maverick Advertising) and Greg (of Integrated Management Resources). They all made donations as did somebody named John (of no last name).

Will I stay on my feet during the performance at Academy Ballroom on April 23? If you want to see the event for yourself, call Seth Linkous at Children's Hospital to buy tickets over the phone. They are going fast and will probably sell out this week. Seth's number is (865) 541-8441.

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Friday, April 03, 2009

what brings us together today

Because my wife's birthday always falls during Lent, the loophole in our Lenten observance is celebratory cake. This year we expected to find cake at the Bishop's ordination but did not. However there was plenty of cake his past Saturday at the marriage of Shots Across the Bow and Oh... Really? er, I mean Rich and Lissa.

Our Lenten Friday Forbidden Treat consists of both the German chocolate wedding cake and the red velvet groom's cake. The former was beautifully covered in fondant, the latter was decorated with the banners of the lovebird bloggers. Both were homemade. Before the cake was cut, Rich responded to his best man's toast by quoting an Impressive Clergyman.

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Thursday, March 26, 2009

sudser dud

Can anyone explain soap operas to me? I have never watched one for more than a few minutes. Last week, I made a point of tuning in to "All My Children" to see Jeff "Fish Bait" Joslin's appearance as an assistant district attorney. He was on within the first couple of scenes and I shut off the TV after he was done.

Today I was watching one of Stacy McCloud's last appearances on the noon news. By the way, she was very kind to mention me in her blog yesterday. After the news ended, I wasn't quick enough with the remote and I saw the beginning of "The Young and the Restless." It started in a morgue, piquing my interest. Then they lost me when the lid of a cheap-looking casket opened and the old woman inside sat up and talked about her exhumation. So, is she a zombie? I thought the soaps were more realistic than supernatural. Or is it just a literary device? How did she die in the first place? Why do I care?

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Wednesday, March 04, 2009

march forth

After the Washington Post included him in their "Post Mortem" blog, Perez Hilton wrote that Ed McMahon is still "alive and kicking." The report that the retired Marine Colonel was ill and "fighting the good fight" has him and his family in my thoughts and prayers again. Last year the news of his money trouble prompted me to write about the great times we had with him while I worked at KROQ. I don't know that Ed will be ego-Googling any time soon but I hope that my best wishes somehow reach him and that he has a happy 86th birthday on Friday.

Shortly after reading read about Ed yesterday, I coincidentally got a notification that I had been tagged in a photo on Facebook. The picture shows a group of us with Ed, Henry Rollins and Beck. We were posing backstage at the 2nd Annual KROQ Weenie Roast. The other station employees pictured are Jed the Fish, Jay "Lightning" Tilles, Thomas Guide, Bill Smith and Tami Heide. As you can see, Ed had no problem wearing his grunge clothes to go onstage and introduce Rollins Band.

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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

long walks on the beach in the rain

Rather than exploring the Internet tonight, I chose to finish reading "Meeting Mr. Wrong," a book written by blogger turned author Stephanie Snowe. She is one of the bloggers I met at the Knoxville Symphony last month. At the time I only knew her online name, "That Chick Over There," and her website, "Jason. For the Love of God..."

"Meeting Mr. Wrong" is getting some press and favorable reviews. The book is a funny series of anecdotes about the losers Stephanie dated before meeting her husband Jason. Her first husband was another loser who left while she was pregnant with their twins. I am always amazed at the way jerks can get dates while nice guys are stuck home alone. I was also astounded at the supreme selfishness and stupidity of the men Stephanie met along the way. Fortunately, she is able to convey the humor of those situations. If the book were a sitcom, it might be called "How I Met Your Stepfather." Each guy gets his own episode chapter. It won't ruin anything for me to tell you that the ending sets up another book all about Jason. Lucky him!

Stephanie came by for an enjoyable radio interview last week. Her publisher posted the audio online in case you missed it.

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Tuesday, February 10, 2009


If my website were in England, it might be called "Frank Murphy Dot Co Dot UK." Is there such a site? Why yes, there is. That means there's another Frank Murphy to add to my list. And this guy has a blog!

Yesterday the British Frank Murphy posted an old joke that still got a laugh from me. I scrolled through his older posts and found one labeled "Psychopath Test." Expecting another joke, I read on. It posed a simple question with an obvious answer, or so I thought.
A woman, while at the funeral of her own mother, met a man she did not know. She thought he was amazing. She believed him to be her dream partner so much, that she fell in love with him right there but never asked for his number and could not find him. A few days later she killed her sister. Question: What was her motive for killing her sister?
According to Brit Frank, I'm psychopath because I knew the right answer. Thanks, bloke but I think I'll check with Snopes.com to make sure I'm not crazy like that.

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Thursday, January 15, 2009

well behaved bloggers

Usually the musicians are already on stage when a performance of the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra begins. Tonight the show opened Mariachi style. Eleven people walked out from the wings, the bass players, cellists and harpsichordist sat down but the violinists remained standing as they played Bach's Brandenburg Concerto No. 3 in G Major.

Maestro Lucas Richman made his first appearance of the night after the front part of the stage with the harpsichord was lowered and then raised again with a grand piano on it. Richman thanked the sponsors and welcomed those of us in the audience for the KSO's second blogger night. I suspect that most of the senior citizens in the audience heard "blah blahs, for those who don't know, are people who blah on the Internet."

Soloist Navah Perlman played Mozart's Concerto No. 24 in C Minor with the full symphony. I especially enjoyed the way the violins blended with her performance on the piano on the softer notes. As I listened, I wondered how she could play for 31 minutes without sheet music. Fortunately it was blogger night, so I could just ask her at the post-concert reception. She uses muscle memory and also remembers thoughts and smells that she encountered while learning the piece. She specifically mentioned remembering the smell of a chocolate cake baking while she practiced. Mmm.. cake.

The most accessible opus on the program, and therefore probably my favorite, was Mendelssohn's Symphony No. 4 in A Major. The first movement of the so-called "Italian Symphony" is very familiar. If I was flipping stations and happened to come across it on WUOT, I would turn up the volume and stay in my car until the end of the movement, even if I had reached my destination. During the performance Maestro Richman conducted the orchestra with his whole body. He bounced on his toes with a boyish enthusiasm that reminded me of my own childhood when I would pretend to conduct whatever symphony was coming from my father's record player. I like my classical music loud and fast. At the reception, the maestro told me that he was using his body to express the energy level he wanted from the musicians. He said that famous conductor Kurt Masur uses a lot of energy when rehearsing that piece but barely moves at all during performances of it.

My neighbor is a KSO musician. He was at the reception and we talked about firewood and how I saw him using his chainsaw the other day to cut logs. Another musician said I would be surprised how much stuff they do that is dangerous to their hands. This other guy once cut his finger pretty badly but was happy it happened to his bow hand. A female musician chimed in that she had cut off the tip of a finger but proudly showed how it was successfully reattached.

Navah Perlman was fighting a cold tonight. During our conversation we talked about ordinary stuff too. She could name a couple of grocery stores in each region of the country where she travels like Kroger and Piggly Wiggly in the south and Vons and Ralphs out west. A particular favorite of hers is Fred Meyer in the Northwest. The talk of travel turned to talk of her four kids. The last two are twins. She said if they had come first, she might have stopped right there. Navah's runny nose will not interfere with your enjoyment if you should go to Friday night's performance at the beautiful Tennessee Theatre.

It was a pleasure to chat with several fellow bloggers at the reception as well. Look for links to their reviews to be posted on the spiffy KSO blog soon. We should all try to put our own review links in each others' comment sections too.

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Sunday, January 11, 2009

isn't it rich?

Phone calls and text messages started flying around the Diocese of Knoxville this afternoon. Somebody spread the word that the name of our new bishop could be announced as early as tomorrow. Of all the current U.S. vacancies, Knoxville has been waiting the longest for a bishop. Upon hearing the rumor, one of the priests I know immediately used the web browser on his Palm Treo to see if anything was posted on the blog Whispers in the Loggia. There wasn't then, there is now. My priest friend was surprised that the name being bandied about is someone he knows. It doesn't always work out that way. Over the past several months of waiting, I have gotten in the habit of checking Whispers in the Loggia daily and searching the site for the word Knoxville. I'll have to begin checking two or three times a day until the official news comes out.

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Wednesday, January 07, 2009

returning the favor

Several other bloggers have mentioned me on their sites recently. That Chick Over There was especially kind in her remarks. She says I remind her of her husband. That Chick and MDA are the most recent to say that they are coming to blogger night at the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra. Earlier RSVPers included Rich Hailey, Barry Wallace, Rob Huddleston, Doug McCaughan and Byron Chesney.

More recently, Byron wrote that he was impressed with the amount of traffic that flows from my site to his entertaining Knoxville Trivia Blog. It makes sense to me. He writes about local news anchors more than I do.

Speaking of anchors, Stacy McCloud got a kick out of my post about her clown interview yesterday. But mostly out of the photo.

Cassie Kiestler was happy that I found something interesting about digital TVs in her blog. She was just as happy when I was amused by a clever comment she left on one of my posts. I hope she doesn't feel obligated to write about me mentioning her again.

Leeann Samples and her husband Don came to see Einstein Simplified at First Night Knoxville. They didn't tell me they were bloggers. My Google Alert did.

A former Knoxville deejay nicknamed The Greek writes a blog called Knoxville Radio History 101. He took my picture last week while he was in the building to be on a WKTI show called "The Voice."

In a sort of the same but different vein, my friend Rodney Lee Conover informed me that I'm briefly visible on his YouTube channel. The clip is actually one of the DVD extras for his movie "BachelorMan." The disc just came out in November and the film will turn up on HDNet Movies. I visited the set one day back in 2001. Look carefully and you can see me seated behind the director John Putch, who happens to be the son of Jean Stapleton.

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Sunday, January 04, 2009

on an open fire!

Even Michael Phelps would have trouble burning off all the calories in my Christmas stocking and under our tree. I have been schlepping to the indoor pool at the fitness center at least three days a week all through the holiday season to help assuage the guilt.

Just in time for the holiday eating season, I found a blog called Back to the Fridge by Charlie Hills. I thought about adding it to the blogroll on the right of my page, but the BTTF design doesn't lend itself to easy scrolling and browsing. Instead I view his posts via Google Reader. On Friday, Charlie wrote: "Although the new year is now officially underway, let’s face it: our diets don’t start until Monday." My thoughts exactly! Charlie's tastes agree with mine in two other important areas: TV women and Chex Mix. A lot of guys wisely choose Mary Ann over Ginger but not everyone picks Bailey over Jennifer.

I always get some sweet treats for Christmas. This year I seemed to be especially blessed. I've already mentioned the marshmallows I got from friends and alluded to the gingerbread cookies my kids made. Perhaps my professed affection for See's Candies inspired some family members to load me up with gourmet chocolates.

Today we tried to slice and share some truffles from Joseph Schmidt, Master Chocolatier. One of the truffles in the package of three was supposed to be pomegranate flavor. The others were "all dark" and "extra dark." We couldn't tell by looking at them. The outer shells were a bit hard and broke when we tried to cut them in half. The excellent taste was not affected. Unfortunately the French truffles from Bissinger's were not quite as good. My wife chose the espresso and mint flavors. I took the raspberry. We split the double chocolate and the hazelnut. They were okay, just not as delicious as I had hoped.

The Chocolate Filled Candy Canes we got from Elegant Gourmet didn't do it for me either. After tasting a piece of my wife's, I gave mine away. There was too much candy cane and not enough chocolate for my taste.

On the other hand, a small box of assorted Krause's Chocolates was a very nice surprise for our family to share. They were chosen for us by our daughter's boyfriend who had visited the shop in Saugerties, New York. The chocolates came with a page that identified the flavors by the color of the paper cup and the shape of the candy. For example, the raisin cluster was in a red cup and had a bumpy surface. The butter cream comes in a white cup with a smooth top. Another candy-related gift I received from the same benefactor was a "Star Trek" set of Pez dispensers. As you can see, they're all straight but Sulu.

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