Monday, September 07, 2009

boom boom pow

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

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

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

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

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

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Sunday, September 06, 2009

firework modulation

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

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

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

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Sunday, July 06, 2008

light 'em up

Like previous years, my TiVo and my HD-DVR got a workout on the Fourth of July as I tried to record as many fireworks shows as possible. I couldn't find any coverage of Nashville's display but there were plenty of other choices. Nashville, Knoxville and Washington DC used Pyro Shows of LaFollette to light up their skies.

The best part of Boston's fireworks came during the song "I'm Shipping Up to Boston" by Dropkick Murphys (no relation). The music and the green explosions were a perfect match. But c'mon CBS, that show needs to be in high definition like "A Capitol Fourth" on PBS.

The musical highlight of the DC show was the "1812 Overture" although it was also pretty cool to have the explosions start while Jerry Lee Lewis was on stage singing "Great Balls of Fire." The worst part was when they cut away from the fireworks to show Jimmy Smits standing at a podium. Why not just let him do his part as a voiceover? Plus the Clark Gable mustache isn't working for him.

Our local Knoxville fireworks were televised after a weather delay. Did it actually rain on World's Fair Park or was the wind enough to put the festivities on hold? The highlight of the telecast for my wife and me was seeing our friend Mike sit in with the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra. They had him play his accordion during a selection from the "Kit Kittredge" soundtrack. Mike plays keyboards at our church and has a day job in the symphony's business office. As nice as it is to have coverage of our local symphony, there's very little point in televising fireworks without the benefit of HD. I think the viewing audience would have been better served if WBIR had broadcast NBC's HD coverage of Macy's 4th of July Fireworks from 9:00 to 10:00 p.m. They could have shown a tape of the KSO from 10:00 to 11:00 or even 11:30. As it turned out, the Knoxville fireworks didn't begin until 10:20 or so.

The music accompanying the New York fireworks had a very Broadway feel to it, whether the songs were early rock 'n' roll or from the big band era. On the song "Give My Regards to Broadway," they made a point of zooming in on an illuminated Macy's logo every time the instrumental version of the tune got to the point where the lyrics would have said "remember me to Herald Square." Okay, we get it. Macy's flagship store is in Herald Square. And there was a "Miracle on 34th Street," we know. Parts of the patriotic medley, they called it "The Nation's Overture," reminded me more of "Fantasmic" than anything else. Although the "Tennessee Waltz" put me in mind of Knoxville, the highlight for me was "Sing Sing Sing." It seemed the best fit for fireworks being shot in triplicate from three barges.

HDNet ran some hi-def fireworks on the Fourth. Except that they were from the Kentucky Derby Festival in May. To make things worse, they didn't bother to pick up the synchronized music soundtrack. Instead we heard the boom of the shells, a hint of the music in the distance and the same crazy woman whooping after every burst. Travel Channel had live coverage of the fireworks in Washington but they had no music and no HD (on DirecTV). What's the point of showing that? At least the spectators near their microphone did some normal oohing and aahing instead of all that overzealous whooping on HDNet.

For me, fireworks are made better by the addition of the right soundtrack. WENS in Indianapolis used to sponsor a fireworks show perfectly named SkyConcert. Friday's telecasts gave me two ideas that, by writing this, I will drop in the cyber suggestion box known as the Internet. The instrumental parts of "I'm Shipping Up to Boston" would make a great addition to the Boomsday soundtrack. Secondly, HDNet should bring their fancy cameras to Knoxville on August 31 to record both the audio and video of Boomsday in hi-def.

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Saturday, July 05, 2008

that's hot

Some guy at Good Charlotte's record label assured Terry Morrow that Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie would not be accompanying their boyfriends to StarJam 2008 at Patriot Park in Pigeon Forge. And we all know what happens when you assure, you make an ass out of you and re.

One of my co-workers picked up the band at McGhee Tyson Airport on Friday afternoon and was surprised to see that Paris was traveling with Benji Madden. His brother Joel was without Nicole. On the way to Pigeon Forge, they all got out of the van and bought a bunch of fireworks at a stand on Wears Valley Road.

When I had a little bit of a break later, it occurred to me to call Terry Morrow and to tell him that I had met Paris. He loves to tell people about the party he attended at her house. Naturally, Terry was surprised to hear that she was in Tennessee. He couldn't get off the phone fast enough so he could start driving to Pigeon Forge. As a result of his efforts, he was able to phone in a story for this morning's paper and post a few more details on his blog.

Here are the photos I took from my vantage point backstage. You may not use any of these photos on your own site without my permission, but you may go ahead and link back to this blog entry freely.

Copyright © 2008 Frank Murphy. All rights reserved. Copyright © 2008 Frank Murphy. All rights reserved. Copyright © 2008 Frank Murphy. All rights reserved.
Copyright © 2008 Frank Murphy. All rights reserved. Copyright © 2008 Frank Murphy. All rights reserved. Copyright © 2008 Frank Murphy. All rights reserved.

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Wednesday, July 04, 2007

self-evident truths

Happy Independence Day! I enjoyed reading R. Neal's post at KnoxViews this morning. It's an excerpt from the Declaration of Independence.

I have to leave the house pretty soon for a work event. Everyone is telling me to allow three hours for the 45 mile drive to Pigeon Forge. I know that it's only half the distance if I take Chapman Highway but I'm going to try to avoid some traffic by going through the Peaceful Side of the Smokies.

Since I'll be gone all day, I set my two TiVos to record the annual Nathan's Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest on ESPN and several Fourth of July specials tonight. At 8 o'clock, I'm recording the local Festival on the 4th on WBIR and "A Capitol Fourth" on PBS. I don't have the technology to also record the tape-delayed (from last night) "Taste of Chicago Fireworks Spectacular" on WVLT-2. At 10 o'clock, I will record the "Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular" on CBS. Fortunately "Let Freedom Sing: Music City July 4th Concert" on GAC will be repeated several times over the next few days. Don't tell anyone at GAC but once again I'll fast forward through the country acts and just watch the Nashville Symphony.

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Sunday, July 01, 2007

money to burn

The down-the-street neighbors are playing with fireworks tonight. An article in the current Metro Pulse points out that Tennessee is one of only ten states that don't require a permit to shoot them off. As of today, you do have to be at least 16 years old to buy fireworks. My neighbors could have bought their mortar shells at any of the countless stands just outside the Knox county line. Or they could have picked them up from the merchant whose TV commercial I saw this morning.

Bimbo's sells fireworks year round from their location just off I-75 in Lenoir City. Their TV spots are of the "so-bad-its-good" variety. As I recall, the owner of Bimbo's (and star of the commercial) is on the Lenoir City council. I met him when I got the key to Lenoir City during a remote broadcast almost five years ago. Since they are running ads, the city must have resolved last year's discussion over whether Bimbo's should be able to sell fireworks and gasoline at the same location. Also last year, a blogger named Bay Loftis wrote about her excitement over buying and exploding fireworks from Bimbo's.

A few years ago I did a phone interview with Deborah Norville of "Inside Edition." I wanted to ask her about a comment she made on "The View." While she was describing her family's road trip from New York to Georgia. she said that Tennessee had the best bathrooms. When I asked Deborah about our local rest stops, she volunteered that she and her family had stopped at Bimbo's because she couldn't resist the name.

The owners of Bimbo's Fireworks must know what their name means to most people. I wonder if the makers of Bimbo snack cakes realize the connotation of the word in this country. Bimbo could turn up in Mexican marketing textbooks just like the Chevy Nova did in our books.

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Tuesday, September 05, 2006

you wanna see my what?

The hot trends at Boomsday this year were monkey nuts and light up grillz. The fireworks were great as usual but I didn't get photos that were any better than I did last year. What is a "Monkey Nut?" One young couple was happy to pose with theirs. It's a cold drink served in a carved coconut shell.

The Monkey Nut sign made me do something out of character. I felt compelled to take a photo of the sign with my cell phone camera and then send it to my improv brother Dave's phone despite the cost. He must love monkeys because he recently emailed a video to the members of the group. You don't have to try hard to imagine what the monkeys are doing in the video.

I saw a lot of people on Neyland Drive with rainbow lights emanating from their mouth. They had purchased a set of light up grillz from a street vendor. In case my mother is reading this, let me explain that grillz are pieces of jewelry that fit over your teeth like a retainer. Rappers usually have lots of diamonds or other gems on they grillz. Oops, I mean "their grillz." The street vendor posed for a photo. He actually posed for two photos because you couldn't see the light in his mouth until I turned off the flash.

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