Saturday, March 20, 2010

sweet seventeenth

No matter how late or how early Easter is each year, my wife's birthday always falls during Lent. As a result, we plan our Lenten sacrifices to exclude a sweet treat on her special day. This year's celebration was delayed because she's had a cold. We went out to dinner tonight and then someplace else to get dessert.

My Facebook and Twitter feeds had several posts about free Italian ice today at all Rita's Ice locations. Apparently it's a first day of spring tradition at the Philadelphia-based chain. This year, they have teamed up with another famous Pennsylvania company to create a special flavor that I had to experience for myself. I talked my wife into going to Rita's on Market Square tonight.

The store was crowded when we arrived. My wife wisely chose the sugar-free tangerine flavor while I took a cup of the new Peeps Ice. I expected it to be very sweet since the real Peeps are not just marshmallows but sugar-coated marshmallows. Unfortunately they added a vanilla flavoring that didn't work for me. It was as if I suddenly understood all the negative things people have said to me over the years about my love of Marshmallow Peeps.

The ice was sickeningly sweet. I don't believe it to be an accurate representation of a standard Peep, which I still crave. Maybe they were trying to make it more like the vanilla-crème flavored marshmallows that they sell for Valentine's Day, which I don't enjoy.

Rita's still has plenty of good flavors. Peeps Ice just isn't one of them. Next Saturday they will give away chocolate-covered Peeps at Rita's. I had one of those in January and loved it.

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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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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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Sunday, January 17, 2010

become a fan

The rebuilt Weigel's on Fox Lonas Road has been open about a month. It's been at least that long since I went in and took pictures on my way home from the roast of Fr. Ragan Schriver. I know from past experience that they offer deep discounts on milk and gasoline during their official grand opening celebrations. As a result, I was excited to hear that this past Wednesday was finally the day.

I had been meaning to stop off at any Weigel's for a few days prior. My wife had filled out an application for their new Rewards Card and I was supposed to drop it off as soon as I found our old paper card, which I had given to my daughter while she was in town and hadn't put back in my wallet right away. The clerk at Weigel's told my wife that the milk purchases represented by the punched-out holes on the paper version would be credited to the fancy new electronic card. Once I buy 16 gallons of milk, the 17th is free.

On my way home from work on Wednesday, I took a slight detour to the new store. I saw a large inflatable Blue Rhino and a vehicle from a competing radio station. I thought that maybe I could get in and get out quickly and quietly. Not so much.

I parked in front of the store and took my Rewards Card application inside. I wanted to turn in the form, buy some skim milk and top off my gas tank. In order to put both purchases on the same credit card transaction, I had to go back outside and pump the gas before buying the milk. My conversation with the sales clerk drew the attention of Kurt Weigel, who kindly remembered me from my remote broadcast at a different store in his chain.

I chatted with Kurt about the two types of ice at the new store and how my wife prefers crushed ice in her Diet Pepsi with a little Diet Coke mixed in. I asked if he would be offering any sort of coffee refill program like his main competitor does. He said it would probably be included on the new Rewards Card in the future. I also dropped a hint that he should put some coupons on Facebook like they do.

Because I was off from work yesterday, the hunt was on for free coffee. With apologies to my new pal Kurt, I did go to Pilot and use the coupons I got from their Facebook page. Three times.

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Thursday, December 31, 2009

ring out the old

A major component of my voluntary submission to caffeine addiction is the readily available supply of free coffee at work. Rather than use the Styrofoam cups at the office, I chose to bring in my own coffee mug from home. I went through a process of choosing the right mug. It had to be one that would not be mistaken for anyone else's and I had to be willing to accept the fact that it would eventually get lost or broken.

The breakage came a little sooner than I expected. On Christmas Eve, my mug slipped out of my hand and broke. As you can see, I had chosen a mug with my name on it that I had received as a gift many years ago.

The broken cup meant I had to go through the selection process all over again. I had amassed surprisingly large collection of mugs during my non-coffee days. The ones that I saved have some degree of sentimental value for me. A cup from the Discovery Channel has an unusual elephant-shaped handle. I kept a souvenir from a listening party for a Bruce Springsteen live album because it reminds me of one of the first "cool" things I got to do in my radio career.

A George Mason University Alumni Association mug would be easy to identify as mine but I wouldn't want to break it. A huge cup from the short-lived Marvel Mania store at Universal City Walk is too big to be practical.

The newest addition to my collection goes nicely with one of the oldest. While enrolled in the FBI Citizens Academy, I got a mug from the Office of Counterintelligence at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. I keep it next to a mug I got from the FBI when I worked in the D.C. area at WAVA.

The mug I ultimately chose is kind of boring. It has a lot of aphorisms on it and I honestly haven't bothered to read any of them. I suppose I should do so before the thousand words break into a thousand pieces.

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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

need to venti

As a coffee novice, I was surprised and a tad disillusioned by what my daughter told me. We were sitting in a booth in the Market Square storefront shared by Knoxivi and The Lunchbox after watching Internet sensation Julia Nunes perform on Eleven o'Clock Rock. You might recall me mentioning her appearance three weeks ago. I borrowed my daughter's camera to grab a picture while Julia was singing.

My daughter bought herself a coffee, which came with one of those cardboard wraparounds that had the Seattle's Best Coffee logo on it. While it's old news to most people, I had no idea that Seattle's Best is owned by Starbucks. It seemed weird to me that Starbucks didn't change their subsidiary's name to "Seattle's Second Best Coffee." When my wife and son asked why I looked so confused, I said it was like finding out that Coke owned Pepsi or that McDonald's owned Burger King.

So if Seattle's Best is not a competitor of Starbucks, who does truly compete with the coffee giant on a national scale? The best my family and I could come up with was Panera Bread and Dunkin' Donuts. I remember a place in L.A. called The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf but it's not national. My son said there's a place called Kaldi's in Missouri and my daughter mentioned a joint called Caribou Coffee, which has stores in 16 states. Where do you like to get your caffeine?

Meanwhile, my free coffee quest continues. I scored freebies from Starbucks and from Seattle's Best this fall. Tonight I got a coupon for a free cup at Pilot just by becoming their fan on Facebook. Hey Weigel's, couldn't you do the same thing on your page?

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Sunday, December 20, 2009

under (-utilized) the tree

Christmas is the second most important celebration in Christianity. The annual Living Christmas Tree performance recognized that fact as their nativity pageant turned into a passion play. I had a great time at last year's show and was anxious to see it again.

Imagine that your church decided to put on a nativity pageant and that it grew in popularity over time. It relocated from the church to a theater that still wasn't big enough. Eventually it found a home at a large basketball arena. The demand for tickets is so great that five shows are scheduled each year. That's what happened at Sevier Heights Baptist Church, which works all year to prepare for their annual festivities at Thompson-Boling Arena.

The show started with a series of songs that would fit right in on a secular all-Christmas radio station. A huge group of kids sang about toys and Santa sang that he was "back in town." They segued quickly into a reenactment of the first Christmas. My son wondered how they chose the real baby who played Jesus. Rehearsals for the Living Christmas Tree begin each July. They must put out a casting call for pregnant women who are due around Thanksgiving.

The story didn't stop with the infant Jesus. It picked up with John the Baptist (duh) who sang a solo before he immersed Jesus in a pool of real water. Jesus cast out demons, cured a blind girl and raised another girl from the dead during an upbeat musical number. During the Last Supper, they sang "I Am the Bread of Life," which I recognized from the Catholic hymnals. It was a little odd to see the giant Christmas tree as the backdrop for scenes of the crucifixion and the resurrection.

There is one more performance of this year's Living Christmas Tree. In addition to everything I've mentioned, there is also a good sermon from evangelist Jose Zayas. The only thing I don't understand is why they ask people to leave the arena for one-on-one counseling before the much-hyped grand finale featuring the Hallelujah Chorus. As usual, the audience stood.

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Saturday, December 19, 2009

once bitten and twice shy

Playing Christmas music on the radio is still a thrill for me. It might be different if I worked at one of those all-Christmas stations but I have only worked at places that mix in holiday tunes with the regular format.

I loaded three new Christmas songs into the system the other day, one at the request of my boss and two of my own picks. I had downloaded Lady Gaga's "Christmas Tree" while it was available for free on I got a copy of SpongeBob SquarePants' "Don't Be a Jerk (It's Christmas)" in the mail from a publicist. My boss added both to his holiday playlist.

The new song that came across his desk was "Last Christmas" by the cast of "Glee." The Wham tune has been covered by hundreds of artists in the past few years. I put the "Glee" version in the system and got a chance to play it on the air this weekend. As I talked over the intro, I realized it reminded me of an older, equally campy song. Listen to the beginning of "Last Christmas" and then compare it to an excerpt of "White Christmas" by the Partridge Family.

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Tuesday, December 08, 2009

little lambs

The Black Eyed Peas stopped midway through their performance of "I Gotta Feeling" during the Grammy nominations special a week or so ago. They asked viewers to send in videos of themselves lip-syncing the hit song. I thought to myself "eh... Julia Nunes already did that."

The ukulele-playing Internet sweetheart did, in fact, produce a music video for her song "Binoculars" using clips sent in by viewers. Julia is back on my radar because she will return to Knoxville on December 30th. I'm planning a trip to knoxivi at 11:00 a.m. that day to see her sing and be interviewed for "Eleven o'clock Rock." She'll be in town to appear on this month's "Tennessee Shines" show also on December 30th.

Earlier this year, my wife and I saw Julia perform across Market Square during a Blue Plate Special broadcast from The Square Room. We learned about her appearance from our friend Richard Cheese who had booked Julia as his opening act for some gigs in New York City.

While we're on the topic of Eleven o'clock Rock, look for me on the show this coming Monday. They are going to interview me about Einstein Simplified's upcoming performance at First Night Knoxville. I'm debating whether or not to stay downtown a little longer for a 1:00 p.m. showing of "White Christmas" at the Tennessee Theatre. Tickets are required but they are free and available from Rose Mortuary. Anyone want to go with me?

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Tuesday, November 24, 2009


The great Knoxville-based website, had a link to an offer that was right up my alley. Before November 30, you can get a $3 credit toward the purchase of downloadable mp3s from Most songs cost only 99¢ each. I got three, which left me with 3¢.

Coupon Katie asked on Twitter which three songs I chose. A Twitter user named Dusty made a funny guess. I could have easily gotten bogged down trying to pick from among the probably millions of available tunes. Fortunately I came up with a plan. I went straight to the Amazon wish list that I have been maintaining for several years and chose one song each from three different CDs. One of the albums appears to be no longer available in its disc form.

Longtime readers may realize that I have been wanting these songs for some time. Two of the three catch my attention each year when I hear them on a local Christian station. A couple of years ago I even called the station to ask who was singing "Sleigh Ride" and "Jingle Bells." The artists were Relient K and Denver & the Mile High Orchestra, respectively.

The third song I chose combined two of my favorite things: the "1812 Overture" and the Brian Setzer Orchestra. Their "1812 Overdrive" is a rockin' version of a classical masterpiece on the "Wolfgang's Big Night Out" album. Did you know that the BSO will be at the historic Tennessee Theatre two weeks from tonight?

While finding the links for the previous paragraphs, I stumbled across another free deal on Amazon. You can download a Christmas album called Sampler Claus free of charge! The seven tracks are from my father's era including a preeminent communion song performed by the late, great Robert Goulet.

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Sunday, November 22, 2009

help myself in a royal way

Like us, Maestro Brian Salesky was stocking up for Thanksgiving and enjoying the many free samples at Sam's Club when my wife and I bumped into him on Saturday. I was even able to get some Dunkin' Donuts coffee at the Holiday Taste of Sam's Club event. A lady offering tastes of a dried fruit and dark chocolate-covered almond mixture called Bar Harbor Blend shamed me into buying a bag when she caught me coming back for seconds. It reminded me of some very expensive trail mix I had in October.

The Maestro was still very excited that David Keith will play the Pirate King when the Knoxville Opera stages "The Pirates of Penzance" on March 12 and 14. They have already started rehearsals with Keith working on pronouncing every trailing consonant as he sings.

My father was a big fan of Gilbert & Sullivan. I remember him listening to records of D'Oyly Carte Opera Company when he wasn't listening to "regular" opera or Gregorian chants. I think I will try to score some tickets for the Tennessee Theatre in Dad's memory.

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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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Monday, October 26, 2009

can't be choosers

KFC attempted a do-over today. A few months back they suffered through a public relations fiasco when they offered free chicken dinners via They were overwhelmed with coupons, many of which were copies of the actual computer printouts. Today they offered a single piece for free, without a coupon.

Thanks to Twitter, I went to a different KFC than last time. Wendy of Magic Mulch suggested I head to Farragut, which was ideal because I needed to go there to pay a bill at the Knox County offices sometime this week.

The KFC website said that the piece of free chicken would be "manager's choice." When they started to give me a thigh, I asked the clerks if I could wait until the manager might choose to give me a chicken breast instead. They told me that the district manager had already decided that all the free pieces in his district would be dark meat. If I wanted white meat, I would have to buy a piece for $3 and some change. Unlike the last KFC I visited, the Farragut store did offer side salads. I bought one for $1.63 to show I was a good sport.

The thigh was small but the taste was okay. It was good enough to make me appreciate that it was free, but not good enough to make me want to pay for it in the future. Thinking of other folks on a budget, I posted a note on Twitter and Facebook about my free chicken. Unfortunately my animal-loving friend Bean did not like it. He twitted tweetered twote said that he objects to KFC's chicken raising practices. He later told me that he is okay with the chicken at McDonald's and Popeye's. I need to find out if Popeye's ever offers anything that is grilled and not fried.

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Saturday, October 03, 2009

for no bucks

Operation free coffee was a success this morning. All I had to do was take a cursory taste test of the new Starbucks Via to get a coupon for a free brewed coffee. I was a bit surprised by the small size of the samples. The tiny cups weren't even filled halfway.

It wouldn't have mattered whether or not I was able to figure out which was the instant coffee and which was the fresh brewed. However, the challenge intrigued me and I thought I could solve the mystery. While I waited for the drinks to cool to a palatable temperature, I noticed that one cup had the current Starbucks logo while the other had the retro "fresh roasted coffee" logo. Could the answer be as simple as truth in labeling? Presumably the instant mix wouldn't have qualified as "fresh roasted."

One had a much stronger, more bitter taste than the other. Another customer taking the test couldn't tell any difference but she drank them both piping hot. I thought that Starbucks would probably rig the test so that more people prefer the new Via. I could imagine the more pleasant tasting coffee being approved by management after years of development, testing and focus groups. I thought I remembered a press release from a few years back announcing the introduction of Pike Place Roast. It was a throwback to the early days of Starbucks. It made sense to me that their original product would have a more distinct taste. The barista told me I was right. The better-tasting coffee in the green-logoed cup was Via. The bitter stuff in the "fresh roasted" cup was Pike Place. The promotion continues tomorrow and Monday and you know I'll be back for more.

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Friday, October 02, 2009


Part of the fun of my new coffee habit is my goal to never pay for it. Obviously the coffee at work is paid for by the company, not me. On Tuesday, I got a free cup at Patrick Sullivan's because I perform there regularly. I could have had a soda instead if I wanted. On Wednesday, Kurt Weigel gave me a cup of Kona coffee.

This weekend my wife and I are traveling to my cousin's wedding in Virginia. Tomorrow morning, for the first time in my life, I will use the coffee maker in a hotel room to brew some Chez Parisien French Roast just because it's available at no extra charge. My wife discovered that I can also go to Starbucks for a free sample of their new instant coffee this weekend. Just for trying Via, I will get a coupon for a cup of their regular Pike Place brewed coffee. If I repeat the process on Sunday, that's two coupons for future use.

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Tuesday, September 08, 2009

book of Janus

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Monday, September 07, 2009

boom boom pow

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

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

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

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

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

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Friday, August 14, 2009


The women vastly outnumbered the men at the David Cook concert tonight. Well, at least they did in the first 15 or so rows at the Tennessee Theatre. The "American Idol" winner inspired girls to bring signs and dress up in shirts with his name. It was the 100th show on this tour and we all got free commemorative t-shirts.

My co-worker Gretchen and I introduced the show. We thought it would be funny if she tried to apply guyliner to me while I was reading the safety announcements. Unfortunately she forgot to bring her eyeliner. We had to use my wife's mascara instead. As she put some of the goop on my lashes, I said "David Cook doesn't wear mascara. Adam Lambert wears mascara!" The crowd loved it. In fact the audience was very receptive to Gretchen and me. As we posed for photos with listeners at intermission, I felt more like we were at a station event (such as a StarJam show) than at a "normal" concert.

Earlier in the day, Gretchen had interviewed David. She challenged him to learn to play "Rocky Top." He suggested that she bring a CD of the song for his sound guy to play as the band's intro music. Back at the radio station, I burned a disc with the song on it. We gave it to the right people and it got played just as David and the band took the stage. The sound guy was a little angry that I had mixed a Star 102.1 Go Vols jingle onto the front of the song. It turns out that he's a Florida Gator fan.

The concert was fantastic. He played mostly songs from his album and at least one that didn't make the cut, called "Souvenir." I got to hear my favorite David Cook song, "Come Back to Me." He referenced the way he had reinterpreted songs on "American Idol" before launching into an unrecognizable cover version of Cutting Crew's "(I Just) Died in Your Arms Tonight."

At the meet and greet after the show, David said he was surprised by the dance mix of Rocky Top. He expected it to sound like a John Denver song. I explained that I brought the version we play on our station, not the version they play on the old-school country station up the dial.

Several fans waited in the street outside David's tour bus after the show. I didn't notice the girl with the Gene Simmons tongue until after I got home and looked at the photos on my computer.

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Saturday, July 11, 2009

oh thank heaven

Happy 7-Eleven Day! My friend Bean and I used to make regular trips across the street to the 7-Eleven on Lee Highway when we both worked at WAVA. Bean was such a fan that he... uh... obtained a 7-Eleven doormat for his home.

My family and I pulled into a 7-Eleven to gas up this afternoon on the last leg of our road trip. While I filled the tank, my wife and son went inside and noticed that they were giving away free 7.11 ounce Slurpees. They tried pouring a few flavors that weren't yet frozen before having success with a blue one that was labeled "Strawberry Pineapple Lime." Go figure.

I've been told that certain blue clothes enhance my eye color. Do you think a blue tongue makes my eyes pop too?

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Saturday, June 06, 2009

as the fire popped and crackled...

The combination of words demanded my attention. I saw "free book" followed by "crime scene." Dozens and dozens of copies of the same title were arranged on a table just inside West Town Mall last night.

The freebies were from Harlequin Books, which is celebrating its 60th anniversary. "Crime Scene at Cardwell Ranch" is part of the Harlequin Intrigue series. The author, B.J. Daniels, has at least five more books being published this year.

I don't know if there were more books at any of the mall's other entrances or if I stumbled upon the whole supply. The inside cover of "Crime Scene at Cardwell Ranch" says that sixteen free books are available for download at

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Sunday, May 10, 2009

chicken little

KFC blew it. They had a perfect opportunity to make a good impression and really reinforce their "Unthink" advertising campaign. They even had the almighty Oprah behind them. Other businesses have been able to figure it out. Ben & Jerry's hands out free cones every year. Denny's gave away two million Grand Slam breakfasts the Tuesday after the Super Bowl.

Instead of picking a day and doing a simple giveaway, KFC asked people to go online and print a coupon. They stopped honoring the coupons after a day or two and now require patrons to apply for a rain check. The letter (and press release) from KFC President Roger Eaton makes it sound like they don't have enough grilled chicken to go around. There was no line and plenty of grilled chicken available when I got there last night. The clerk behind the counter said he thought that counterfeit coupons were the real problem.

KFC's public relations fiasco made me wish El Pollo Loco had a restaurant in Knoxville. Not only did one of my favorite fast food places do a successful chicken giveaway in April, they are honoring KFC's coupons on Mother's Day.

Frustrated by last night's inconvenience, I chose not to buy my dinner at KFC. On the way home, I realized that I was fairly close to M&M Catering. Considering how often I used to stop by their old location (now home to Two Sisters Sandwiches & Sweets), I was surprised that I had not yet been to their new place at Middlebrook and Chert Pit Road. A memo in the window points out that they were chosen as best barbecue joint in the 2008 Metro Pulse survey. They made runner-up this year.

I ordered a chicken sandwich with a mixture of hot and mild sauce. Like their previous spot, there's no place to sit and eat. All orders are to go. While I waited, the lady behind the counter told me that the reason their website didn't work when I clicked on it last week was because it was being rebuilt. The sandwich looked good but the meat was only lukewarm. Bummer. I picked the chicken off the bun and zapped it in the microwave at home.

An inscription in the concrete caught my eye as I carried my sandwich to the car. It read "In Memory of Robert; M&M Catering; Love, wife & kids."

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