Thursday, March 25, 2010

anchors aweigh

"Wow, that photo is like your dreams come to life! Nice," said the message from my friend Bean, who had just seen a picture I posted to Twitter. Three morning news anchors from three different television stations had come in to be interviewed about their participation in Star 102.1's Dancing with the Knoxville Stars.

I danced in last year's version of the event and my wife made a donation to East Tennessee Children's Hospital on my behalf. Each dollar raised by the dancers counts as one vote toward their total. My wife and I will donate again this year and I thought we might divide our dollars evenly between the fundraising pages for Tearsa Smith, Abby Ham and Allison Kropff. On Monday night my wife came home from a Knoxville Choral Society rehearsal with a different idea. She would donate to Lucas Richman's account.

I should have thought of that sooner. After all, the Maestro is dancing with Emily Loyless, the new co-owner of Academy Ballroom, who was my partner last year. Also, I'm the one who invited Lucas to participate via Stephanie Burdette, the Knoxville Symphony's director of communications. On top of all that, Richman's total is lagging behind the TV women, who have been tirelessly promoting the event on their newscasts.

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Monday, February 15, 2010

horse and carriage

The celebration of World Marriage Day at All Saints Church is a good deal. If a couple will mark a significant anniversary (1, 5, 10, 15, etc.) during the year, they are invited to a nice, sit-down dinner in the parish hall. My wife and I like it so much that we volunteer to be servers on the four years between our 0s and 5s. This year's event was held on Friday night.

The evening starts in the church with a blessing from the pastor. Fr. Michael Woods likes to ask the couples where they met. My wife and I got a few chuckles when we described our meeting in a night club called the Wax Museum under the figure of Neil Armstrong.

Photo proofs from this year's dinner are now online at The cakes shown in the first few shots were made by our friend Chris Kite. My wife and I were fortunate to end up sitting at the same table as Dr. Kelly Kearse and his wife Kathy. Dr. Kearse was my son's high school chemistry teacher and helped inspire his love of science. Before the night was through, I talked a little politics with Gary Loe, who has announced his candidacy for the state House seat being vacated by the headline-grabbing Stacey Campfield.

One of the couples in attendance will celebrate their 70th anniversary in 2010. Fr. Michael had them cut the cake and got the husband to sing a little bit of "When Irish Eyes Are Smiling." When it was time to get the dancing started, a Glenn Miller song came on and Fr. Michael grabbed my wife's hand and spun her around the floor a few times. Later, she and I danced some and tried to teach others the proper hand motions for "YMCA."

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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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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

dam skippy

Take a moment to listen to someone talk about their interests and you may hear about a whole world you have never experienced. Stacey Handel of Garde Bien Spa Salon was bursting with excitement about her daughter's volleyball team. Not only did the Karns High School Lady Beavers (yeah, I know) defeat archrival Farragut to win the Region 2-AAA title but Kelsey Handel was the tournament MVP. On Thursday night, they will host Sullivan South for sectionals.

Like any good sports mom, Stacey takes some photos during the games but finds that they pale in comparison to the professional shots taken by Before You Blink Photography. She told me how several of the fathers of team members video tape the games and then combine the footage into an edited DVD.

In an odd way, what she described reminded me of a dance competition and a dog agility show. Earlier this year, my wife and I watched a bit of the Dance Dimensions Summer Invitational. A professional photographer took photos of the competitors and sells the shots online.

A few years back we wanted to visit with our friend Sandy Weaver but she was competing with some of her Siberian Huskies in an agility trial at Wills Park in Alpharetta. We went to the park and watched the dog show. I remember being impressed by the ingenious woman taking pictures of the dogs and masters as they ran the course.

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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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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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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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Friday, August 28, 2009

floor plans

The ceremonial ribbon was cut at the new Academy Ballroom this afternoon. The dance studio has completed the move from desolate Downtown West to ritzy Western Plaza, which is close to Sequoyah Hills. The handsome new space allows for beginner and advanced classes to happen simultaneously in separate rooms.

The event was attended mostly by members of the Knoxville Chamber and by several dance instructors, who are independent contractors rather than employees of the studio. Among the refreshments offered were some key lime cupcakes, which were provided by Rhonda Becker. They had a very limey flavor, which I thought could have been in honor of studio owner Richard Bull, a good Englishman.

Jeremy Norris and Emily Loyless asked me to consider repeating (again) my comedic rumba routine with Emily at their Rocky Top Dance Challenge on September 19 at the Knoxville Marriott. That would give me only three weeks to practice. I am going to think about doing it though, because the event is a benefit for Family Promise of Knoxville, a great local charity.

My wife and I plan to attend the Grand Opening party at the new Academy Ballroom on Saturday night. They'll have drinks, hors d'oeuvres and live music. Dancing to live music is a challenge to me. I still have trouble finding the beat, as my wife discovered when we went to a few Brad Walker Orchestra shows at the Kerbela Temple. While the waltz and rumba have a basic box step that is in my comfort zone, it is the foxtrot and swing that I will mostly encounter in real world situations. Heather Tang promised to help me with some basic foxtrot steps at the party. We'll see if I can actually get the hang of it or not.

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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

sacré veinard

"Who is Gilles Marini?" asked one of my Facebook friends when I posted that I was going to interview him. I assumed everyone knew the debonair Frenchman from "Dancing with the Stars."

He may have lost to Shawn Johnson but his career has definitely benefited from the exposure. He is soon to be seen on "Brothers & Sisters." Thanks to his good looks, he was asked by record producers if he could sing and is now working on recording an album. I was interested in his childhood because I read that he practically grew up in a bakery. Mmm... cake.

Anyhow, I played some highlights of my interview with Gilles on the air this morning. The Internet gives me the opportunity to post the entire 8 minute interview for all the Gilles fanatics out there. The best part is probably when he says he learned English from listening to hip-hop music. Really.

After I put down the Zoom H2 Handy Recorder, I asked Gilles to show me some moves I could take to the dance floor.

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Saturday, August 08, 2009

dream a little stream

If money were no object (but it is), I would drop a hundred bucks or more on one of the fancy new WiFi clock radios I've had my eye on. In addition to receiving AM and FM, they can receive any radio station that streams online. One model can even record audio, like a DVR does with TV.

For years I had gotten along just fine with a regular clock radio. I would awaken to the audio simulcast of WATE. Before the digital TV transition, any station on channel 6 would bleed through onto the FM band at 87.7. I learned in college that the entire FM band sits between channels 6 and 7 on the old VHF dial.

At 4:00 each weekday morning, ABC World News Now gave me a good dose of news that helped prepare me for work. Plus listening to talk helps me wake up whereas music puts me back to sleep. Now that WATE has gone digital, the 87.7 simulcast is no more. Obviously I could put a TV in my bedroom, but I really don't want one in there.

Since June, I've been trying different stations searching for something I like. Because I'm not a conspiracy freak or a believer in UFOs and the paranormal, I find the the overnight programming on the local news talk station to be unlistenable. I tried listening to Fox Sports Soup on the sports talk station but didn't like the way all the hosts yell, including Matt Smith who used to work with me at KROQ. The NPR station is still playing classical lullabies at that hour. Even the uptempo music on Star 102.1 didn't wake me. I needed a talk fix.

As I started thinking about how much I could use a WiFi clock radio, an alternative idea came to mind. I realized I could save $100 or more by leaving my laptop in sleep mode on the nightstand. In the morning I could pop it open and listen to a radio station online. But which one? Perhaps I should try some stations from the places where I used to live.

When I first started working the early morning hours at WAVA, I would wake up to Larry King's overnight radio show. I especially loved it when he had showbiz old-timers on as guests. When Larry gave up the radio show, I started listening to Bill Mayhugh on WMAL, not so much for him and the cheesy Roger Whittaker album he often played, but for the rambling live news reports phoned in by Larry Krebs on the police and fire beat. When I moved to California, I tried a few options before settling on KNX.

The CBS streaming player works well. I can choose a station before bed, start streaming, close the laptop and it resumes when I open the laptop in the morning. WTOP in DC uses the Microsoft Silverlight player which failed to restart when I opened the computer. In my sleepy haze, I don't want to have to navigate around a website to find the "listen live" button.

One night I started streaming KFWB and really liked the way they have shifted their focus to include a heavy dose of entertainment news. They now use the slogan "Hollywood listens to KFWB." However during the 4 o'clock hour (Eastern time) they air a refeed of "Doug Stephan's Good Day." I switched to KNX that morning.

I also tried WINS in New York and will sample other CBS stations. Listening to WINS was a little disconcerting. They play most of their commercials individually rather than in a cluster. Each on-air commercial is replaced by a different commercial on the stream. Unfortunately the transition isn't smooth. It wouldn't be as bad with a cluster of spots.

On Friday I clicked onto WMAL in DC. From 3 to 5 a.m. they air The Midnight Trucking Radio Network. While I expected a lot of talk about carburetors and such, what I heard would have fit nicely on any conservative-leaning talk station, such as the news talk station in Knoxville. At 5:00, I heard a few minutes of The Grandy & Andy Morning Show before I had to leave for work. In case you were wondering whatever became of actor-turned-congressman Fred Grandy, know that he sounds like he's enjoying himself as one of the very few live and local hosts on a station full of syndicated programs.

When I got home from work on Friday, it was still early enough to catch some of the Kevin & Bean show. In the 11:00 a.m. (Eastern) hour, I empathized with Bean's anxiety over his wife wanting him to take a dance lesson with her. I doubt that he will cave in like I did. At least my wife doesn't expect me to attempt the super-difficult Argentine Tango.

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Saturday, June 27, 2009

man in black

In the afterglow of "Star 102.1's Dancing with the Knoxville Stars," several of us agreed to reprise our routines with our professional partners during the Friday night dance parties at Academy Ballroom. TV columnist Terry Morrow and Rhonda Becker were the first to perform three weeks ago. Lori Tucker and J.W. Becker did the cha cha last week. Last night it was my turn.

Emily Loyless and I did our comedic rumba routine to the "Theme from Mission: Impossible." At the beginning, Emily removed my goofy hat and sunglasses, just like last time. We added a Hawaiian shirt, which came off to reveal an all-black outfit underneath. At the end of the routine, we fall on the floor. This time, we fell near each other instead of at opposite ends of the dance floor.

Like last week, my wife and I took the beginner group class at 7:00 p.m. Richard Bull taught us some of the traveling steps of the foxtrot, which I had trouble grasping. In the second half of the class, we worked on some easy swing dance steps, which I felt comfortable with. March, march, rock step. After my rumba performance, Emily and her professional partner Jeremy Norris offered to teach me to do the hustle. Naturally, my wife thought it was funnier to take pictures of me dancing with Jeremy. I can't say I disagree.

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Saturday, June 20, 2009

a little rock step

Technically, Lori Tucker danced with me twice. She and her husband went to the group dance lesson at Academy Ballroom last night, as did my wife and I. Kim Hansard and her husband were there too. All the women in the class rotated through the line and danced with all the men in the class. As a result, I also danced with Kim and my wife danced with both ladies' husbands. Our son, the good sport, took the class as well. We did the most basic steps of the waltz, rumba, foxtrot, salsa, merengue and swing.

During the open dance party that followed the lesson, Lori and J.W. Becker did an encore of their cha cha from "Star 102.1's Dancing with the Knoxville Stars." Emily Loyless and I will reprise our rumba routine at the next Friday night dance party on June 26. Invite your Facebook friends to come. Or show your support via an online donation to Children's Hospital.

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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, June 02, 2009


Emily Loyless went to Atlanta to audition for "So You Think You Can Dance" on Monday. My fingers are crossed for her to do well. Emily is an excellent dancer. My plodding performance in our rumba together doesn't quite do her justice.

A much better representation of Emily's skills is available to Knoxvillians via Comcast on Demand. She and Jeremy Norris did three dances at the Ruby Slippers Benefit for Family Promise of Knoxville. From the On Demand menu, choose Get Local, and then Special Events to see half an hour of highlights from the event. On the video, I saw several other instructors and students from Academy Ballroom dancing to the music of the Brad Walker Orchestra.

The ballroom staff is getting ready for a move to a new location in The Shops at Western Plaza. For now, they are still open at Downtown West, where some of the "Dancing With the Knoxville Stars" participants will reprise their performances on upcoming Friday nights. Terry Morrow and Gretchen Bartlett are set for this Friday with their respective professional partners, Rhonda and Mark Becker.

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Friday, May 22, 2009

and three in Crossville

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

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

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

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

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Monday, May 18, 2009

community swing

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

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

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

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

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

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Friday, May 15, 2009

can you do a dollar?

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

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

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

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Thursday, May 07, 2009

tawt I taw

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

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

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

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

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Saturday, May 02, 2009

the things we do for love

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

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

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

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

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Thursday, April 30, 2009

should you choose to accept it

If there is an encore performance of "Star 102.1's Dancing With the Knoxville Stars" and if I can make it, I will study the video of last Thursday's show in an effort to improve. The footage is now posted on YouTube and the station website. There is talk of having an encore show on a date I am currently holding for a potential corporate gig with Einstein Simplified.

After Abby Ham jokingly wrote on my Facebook wall, "Can I be your dance partner next year? :)," I wrote back, "Sure, if you want to do a plodding rumba with elements of comedy thrown in." As I watched myself "dance," I realized that my steps were even more plodding than I thought when I wrote that to Abby. During the performance, I thought I was being graceful. Ha!

Thank goodness for Emily Loyless. She deserves the credit for all 26 points we received from the judges. Our strategy was to go for overall entertainment value rather than technical merit. Of the nine dance teams, we were the only one to have a story line. It was based on Emily's "Mission: Impossible" to teach me the rumba. I think they call it a "show dance" in the business. Or maybe I don't know what I'm talking about.

Our efforts have so far raised $1890 for East Tennessee Children's Hospital. As you probably already know, the total take for the night was over $27,000. That amount will be presented on one of those giant checks at the upcoming Radiothon.

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Sunday, April 26, 2009

very expressive

Several of my dance sponsors were at church this morning. They wanted to know how things went on Thursday night at "Star 102.1's Dancing With the Knoxville Stars." The event had sold out before any of them could get tickets. I promised to let them know when video is available online. I also told them that Richard Bull from Academy Ballroom has expressed an interest in possibly staging an encore performance next month, assuming the details can be worked out.

In the meantime, you can see some outstanding photos posted by Expressive Moments Photography on their blog. I am thinking about buying copies of a picture of me in black tie and a shot of Emily and me in the middle of our routine.

As I alluded in the first paragraph, a number of donations to Children's Hospital came from parishioners of All Saints Catholic Church. In addition to those I mentioned in earlier posts, thanks go to Mary K and Michael, Sandy and John and Susan Hoffman. Hank Stevens from the RCIA team at Sacred Heart Cathedral donated too.

Adrienne Thies Albers was editor of the Broadside when we were both at GMU. She read about my dancing and decided to sponsor me. So did my pal Stephanie, who donated as "Frank's publicist" after I let her come to the dress rehearsal.

The team of Frank & Emily (Framily? Emilank?) also received sponsorships from Jeff and Stacey of Garde Bien Spa Salon, Ryan of and Children's Hospital president Keith Goodwin who says he has two left feet too. My friend Maureen of Fox Chase Farm, made a generous contribution. This fall she is hosting a benefit for Susan G. Komen for the Cure at the Farm. One of the participants is Deb Lamberton of WETA-FM, whose fundraising page is here.

All these donations to East Tennessee Children's Hospital came through my page at My sincere thanks also go to Michelle Clark, Ken & Nancy Cross, Bob and Sylvia Goodyear, Carol Seip, Karen and Buford, Kristen, Liz L, Lori (from the radio station sales team), a very generous morning show listener and from Anonymous, who leaves all those blog comments.

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Friday, April 24, 2009

strive to excel

There's a regular part of the real "Dancing with the Stars" that I used to think was bogus. The pro dancer says something to the effect of "I thought it would be a good idea to go a rodeo to see Ty in his element and figure out how we could incorporate his bull riding into the waltz."

During the course of my dance lessons from Emily Loyless, she came to see me perform with Einstein Simplified a couple of times. She knew that the other competitors in "Star 102.1's Dancing with the Knoxville Stars" would be better dancers than me. Emily realized that we could put some of my stage comedy into our rumba routine. We devised a story line based on my lack of rhythm and the difficult task she faced in teaching me. Emily's professional partner Jeremy Norris was also a tremendous help to me. He would demonstrate the parts I was trying to learn, especially a move where Emily is spinning and I had to catch her and drop her onto my knee.

Our performance opened with a spoof of one of my all-time favorite TV shows, "Mission: Impossible." The recorded voice said, "Good evening Emily. The man you are looking at is Frank Murphy from Star 102.1. He has no rhythm. He is only able to make fun of dancing while onstage with his improv group Einstein Simplified. Your mission Emily, should you choose to accept it, is to get Frank Murphy to take the rumba seriously. Should your or any of your AB Force be caught or killed, the Academy will disavow any knowledge of your action. This routine will self destruct in 90 seconds." We then danced to Adam Clayton & Larry Mullen's version of the "Theme from Mission: Impossible." As soon as video of our segment is available, I will post a link. The three judges gave us a 26, which included a 10 from Brian Corsetti, host of the upcoming DIY series "Garage Mahal." I guess that's my new favorite show. Be sure to watch it May 5th at 9:30 p.m!

Throughout the evening I imposed on various people to take a pictures of me with the other nine contestants. I also posed with Russell Biven, who wasn't dancing but was there to support his co-anchor Beth Haynes. In no particular order, here I am with Russell (whose first words to me were, "are you happy about the news?"), Beth, Carol Scott (who plans to continue dancing with Johnny Tang), Mark Nagi, Dee Dee Trotter, Terry Morrow, Mary Constantine (who withdrew due to vertigo), Kim Hansard, judges' favorite winner Gretchen Bartlett and top fundraiser Lori Tucker, whose total earned her the disco ball trophy. The event generated about $27,000 in donations to East Tennessee Children's Hospital.

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Thursday, April 23, 2009

settle down

Stacey Handel wanted to go even further when she gave me a makeover two years ago. After a long conversation with my wife and me, she discovered how much of a change we could tolerate at the time. On Tuesday night at the dress rehearsal for "Star 102.1's Dancing with the Knoxville Stars." she pulled my wife aside for another discussion.

In the time since my makeover, I have been returning to Garde Bien Spa Salon every month for a haircut. During one of those sessions, Stacey told me about the new line of body art she was about to start offering to her female clients. Think of beads that stick to the skin and stay there for a week or so. The same product was soon to debut on ABC's "Dancing with the Stars." I asked Stacey if she wanted to get involved in our Knoxville version of the show. Before long, she had signed on to do the hair and makeup of all the participants.

Because I trust Stacey and because I am already so far out of my comfort zone with the whole dancing thing, I told her to "go for it" when I arrived for my appointment on Wednesday. She got right to work, dyeing my hair and trimming my beard. While the color set, I walked across the parking lot to Walgreens and bought a razor and some shaving cream. Diana from Garde Bien came with me and took pictures. With the dye on my face, I thought I looked like a cartoon character, if not Azamat Jr.

From Garde Bien, it was off to Sun Tan City to get some color on the cheeks that haven't seen daylight since I was in college. The finished product will be unveiled tonight at Academy Ballroom. Tomorrow I start regrowing the beard for some upcoming "Fish Bait" reshoots.

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