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Saturday, July 30, 2005
You know you're too big a Dr Who fan when...
...you see the news of "10th Planet" discovered and your first thought is--Cool! They find episode four of the final story of the first Doctor.

And then you realize it's that they've discovered an actual 10th planet out there.

And on some level, you're kind of disappointed that it's just a new planet found and not a lost episode of Doctor Who.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 7/30/2005 12:20:00 PM | |
Friday, July 29, 2005
Friday Memes
Friday's Feast
Appetizer
Name 3 people whom you admire for their intelligence.
Stephen Hawking, Joss Whedon, my grandfather

Soup
What's the last food you tried that you really didn't care for.
Grilled eggplant

Salad
If you could rename the street that you live on, what would you want it to be called?
Supercool Way of Doom

Main Course
When was the last time you were genuinely surprised?
Got e-mail today from on old friend I hadn't heard from for a long time.

Dessert
Share a household tip.
Ya know, I'm drawing a complete blank here...

Aloha Friday
Tell us about some of your favorite teachers in school.
Back in fifth grade, I had Mr. Dombrowski or as he let us call him, "Mr. D." He was a great teacher and he told a lot of great jokes. Also, he called me Michael which my previous teacher had insisted that even though I preferred being called Michael that I would be Mike. Also, my eight grade science teacher, Mr. Miller, was cool. Again, he made it interesting and fun to learn..in fact it felt like weren't learning at all. Mr Miller knew the school rule against four-letter words so we never took a test in his class...we had a party.

Have you gone to a high school reunion? Was it what you expected?
I went to my 1o-year back in the summer of '01. And it was pretty much what I expected.

Spread the spirit of blog aloha & pick someone off your blogroll for us to visit!
Surf over to Not Another Pretty Farce and say howdy to fellow Nashvillian Katherine Cobble.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 7/29/2005 03:05:00 PM | |

The August Challenge
Last week, I posted the challenge for August of blogging at least one thing per day that brought happiness to you. Just wanted to remind everyone that August 1 in Monday and if you want to participate, there is still plenty of time to get in on the fun. A bunch of people did this last year and I can see I had a great time doing it.

Here's who I have participating so far (that I know about)

Doug of DJuggler
Stacy of Outwit, Outblog, Outsnark
Amy of Prochein Amy
Karen of My Life
Kate of My Random Musings
Ty of Tongue Tyed
Ali of Lady Mac's Musings
Scorpy
Romana 1 of Wandering Through E-Space
Kim of Ramble Strip
Stephanie of Standing here solidly on my own two hands and going crazy
Tish of Random Thoughts (in fact Tish has already started....talk about a go-getter!)

And those are just the ones who signed up here.

So, it starts Monday...and it's never too late to join the fun! As the Partridge Family theme says, "Come on, get happy!"

posted by Michael Hickerson at 7/29/2005 10:40:00 AM | |
Thursday, July 28, 2005
Hear Me, Hear Me!
My second podcast is now up and ready for your listening pleasure. Enjoy!

posted by Michael Hickerson at 7/28/2005 10:11:00 PM | |

If you're casting the role of me...
I've always felt that David Duchonvy would be the best actor out there to capture the essense that is Big Orange Michael should they make a movie version of my life someday. (It'd be filled with lots of scenes of him watching TV.)

But acccording to this little quiz, I look like...well, that would be telling. Surf over and find out!

posted by Michael Hickerson at 7/28/2005 03:07:00 PM | |

Exercise Your Rights and Vote NOW!
Thanks to Barry over at Inn of the Last Home for making me aware of voting for this...

Seems that SportsCenters annoying 50 States/50 Days campaign will be making a stop by Tennessee. (I like the idea but I'm sick of hearing the Bryan Adams song EVERY morning on SportsCenter!) And they're taking a poll on the best sports events inside Tennessee....and yet somehow the frellin' Memphis Grizzlies are being voted the best team in the state?!? What the frell?!? This cannot be since we all know the NBA sucks and the REAL sport of the state of Tennessee is football! (Help me, I'd rather see Vandy football win the most popular sport in the state rather than any NBA team!)

I am betting there are a lot of Memphis people stuck inside since it's only about a million degrees there in the summer with humidity of 1700% and they're refreshing and voting early and often.

Help me correct these injustices--such as how the hell they think Memphis's basketball team gettiing to the final four is more significant that my beloved Vols winning the national title a few years ago?!?--by voting and voting often! Here's a link and I thank you for you time!

posted by Michael Hickerson at 7/28/2005 02:51:00 PM | |

TV Round-Up: USA's Sunday Night Line-Up
Here's the second half of my TV Round-Up for the day. Enjoy!

The 4400: Carrier
This week, we meet returnee Jean DeeLynn Baker, whose apparent ability is creating a harmful virus that can kill you even through a bio-hazard suit. Yeah, I'm not really getting what her ripple effect was because her virus kills indiscriminently. If there's been some pattern and maybe it was some type of attempt to weed out certain types of individuals who won't be useful in the future (such as, let's say, Florida fans), then I could see it. But honestly, I don't get it other than to have Tom and Diana have someone to chase across the country. Meanwhile, Maia's aunt has apparently caught a repeat of Back to the Future, Part 2 on USA and thinks--hey, the kid can help me make money by giving the outcome of games before they happen and I can use this to place a few bets. Ummm, cute idea, but have we had any evidence that Maia's visions can be this specifically targeted? Or that she has this kind of control over them? And if she can do this, why not go ahead and tell us how the Titans are gonna do this year, cause I'm dying to know. And then Shawn thinks about giving up the center as news of his healing ability gets out and instead sets up a foundation at Lilli's request. Now, I am all for Shawn having to deal with the consequences of displaying his healing ability publically, but his tantrum and being overwhelmed by requests to heal everyone was not the way I'd hoped they'd go with this. The question of who should he heal is a good one and I really hope they explore it in the upcoming episodes.

The interesting plot thread in this one comes from the Tom and Alana plotline. I loved seeing Kyle's reaction to everything--oh, so you had an entire eight-year relationship in 10 seconds and I'm just supposed to accept this. Also, the idea that Tom was prouder of the alternate Kyle was a nicely done little moment in the show. Seeing Alana connect with Kyle was nicely done and I like how they're integrating the events of last week into the overall arc storyline of the show.

The Dead Zone: The Last Goodbye

I kept wanting to like this episode more than I did. But, alas, it feel firmly into the down nature of what has been, so far, an up and down year for The Dead Zone.

Part of it is that while it tweaks the convention of Johnny solves the murder of the week plotline, it didn't really do anything new or exciting with it. I mean, I guessed early on that our rock star hero had faked his own death and while I didn't guess why, the solution to the crime didn't exactly thrill me. Turns out that rock hero was planning on settling down and walking away from the rock star lifestyle and his fellow song-writer couldn't handle it. Why? Cause the rock star was loyal to his lifelong buddy and was putting his name on songs to help ensure he got some of the benefits of the success. So, the buddy kills the girl and rocker fakes his own death. Of course, they do say one part of being a great rock star is knowing when to die and maybe that was part of it. But I find it hard to believe that no one ever went looking for the guy before now. I mean, we hear of Elvis alive and working at a gas station in Tupelo every few weeks, so why the Enquirer wasn't hunting down this guy I'm not quite too sure.

Anyway, back to the story. Johnny and Sarah go on this quest to find said rocker. Which as I think about it, wasn't part of the point of last year that due to Purdy's being in bed with Stillson (not literally, mind you) that the trust fund was running out? So how is it that Johnny has all this free time to do this when he probably should be looking for a job? Again, these are details that maybe were addressed and I've missed them in the transition or they've slipped my mind in the long interim between seasons...

Overall, an episode that definitely was not all that it could have or should have been. Put this one firmly in the miss category for season four.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 7/28/2005 02:18:00 PM | |

TV Round-Up: Sci Fi Friday
I was going to go with one long post, but I've decided instead to break up the TV Round Up into two parts. So, first up, let's look at the wonder that is SciFi Friday.

Stargate SG1: Avalon, Part 2
This episode suffered a lot from middle leg of a trilogy syndrome. After resolving the cliffhanger and having a nicely down sword battle with an apparently holographic knight, the story descends into a lot of waiting around, hoping something of interest will happen. Daniel and Vala basically pull a Quantum Leap and are communicating with another civilization, who they assume will be gate-builders. Alas, it's not and instead we have a bunch of midevil peasants who may be more than they appear..but maybe not. Honestly, they're trying to world-build here and it's just not that terribly compelling or interesting. The last 45 minutes or so of this episode felt like it was a lot of treading water and I kept going--surely something of interest should happen any second now. Nope, nothing. And I'm not exactly counting down hours to part three, since the cliffhanger was lakcluster at best.

Stargate: Atlantis: The Intruder

The first of two shows on Sci-Fi Friday dealing with a computer virus being unleashed on the ship and, by far, the less compelling. On Galactica, the how and why of the Cylon virus makes sense within the plot that is unfolding on screen. Here it's just an excuse for the wacky action plot to wrap around the far more compelling and interesting flashbacks of events on Earth. You've got to give Atlantis some props for at least copying and copying well the storytelling technique Lost uses so well. We see flashbacks of Weir fighting for Shepard's promotion and re-assignment to Atlantis, her romantic relationship derailing and we see Shepard having to go and tell Ford's cousin what happened to him and how he might not be coming back any time soon. Again, the flashbacks work and there is one hysterical scene as McKay scrunches down for an inter-ship beaming. But the rest of it--predictable, trite and basically we see them hit the reboot button on the computer system three times. Not exactly what I'd call the most compelling hour of TV I've seen of late...

Battlestar Galactica: Valley of Darkness
The award for most compelling hour of TV I've seen of late goes to (no surprise here) Battlestar Galactica.

Listening to Ron D. Moore's podcast for last week's Scattered, I was intrigued to hear how all of the subplots in the past two episodes were originally written as one single hour of television. Man, I'm glad they made the decision to split it in two because I'm pretty certain you couldn't cram in all that happened her in just one hour and do it any kind of justice. Interesting to see a look inside Starbuck's old life as we find her apartment. She is a painter and her discussion of why she fights--not to get back to her old life, but because it's all she knows--was interesting. I have a feeling that this will continue to be an issue as the series goes along. Meanwhile, on Koboll, the chief has to make a hard choice...and one that we all sort of knew was coming. A man dies bringing back an extra med kit so they can use the sedatives to kill the wounded character from last week. The scene as the Chief had to administer the drugs to his wounded friend were great.

One thing I'm loving about this sesaon (and the show as a whole) is there is no huge reset button. There'd be a lot of other shows that would create this situation for the characters and have them all back together and moving forward by now. But instead, Galactica is playing out the situation and developing it more week after week and I love it. From listening to Ron Moore's podcasts, I know a lot of the plotlines here won't wrap up until well into the summer and that's a good thing. No nice neat packages here...and from what I hear on the rumor front, we'll barely get past this when the next big crisis erupts (and I, for one, have a feeling the mid-season hiatus on this one is gonna be a bear!)

Meanwhile, back on Galactica, things ain't too peachy either. Cylons have invaded the ship and they have a plan. They will vent the crew to space and then use the ship to attack the fleet from within, turning Galactica's guns on their sister ships. Apollo and company are forced to try and stop the Cylons on-board Galactica. Now, as much of a threat as these robots have been, the series has been good at creating a sense of terror and tension about the robotic Cylons by judicious on-screen use of them. So, when we see the Cylons killing everyone in sight and stalking the ship, it's one of those "holy s***, we are so screwed moements" on the show. And the show also gets the old X-Files adage of less is more. We see bits and pieces of attacks and the aftermath, thus allowing our imaginations to fill in the details in a far more horrifying and gruesome manner than any effect ever could be. The sense of complete desparation the crew has at wondering if and how they will stop the Cylons is great. And it's interesting to see that Tigh is the commander you want in charge to deal with this threat. He takes command and has the ability to stave off this attack. But it makes you wonder what attacks are coming that he has no concept of how to deal with and he might need Adama for?

No second season slump for this show, so far. I'm loving every minute of it.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 7/28/2005 09:40:00 AM | |
Wednesday, July 27, 2005
Happy (belated) B'day to Rebecca St James
I can't believe that I missed the birthday of one of my favorite singers yesterday--Rebecca St. James. I've been a big fan of Miss St. James' for a while now and I heard on the radio that her b'day was coming up. But somewhere in the muddled mess that is my brain, I thought her birthday was today, not yesterday.

Shows you what I know...

Now, before I get going too much farther on this post, let me warn my faithful readers that this is gonna be a long one. And it's going to be a bit different and a bit more personal that some of the stuff I post here. I know, I know...I'm that wacky guy who loves TV too much and reads more than he should. But I feel like this is something I really want to say and since this is my blog, after all, I figured why not? But it's not my usually, happy go lucky posting and I do share a bit about my own personal faith and my Christian walk.


Rebecca St James

I've been a big fan of Rebecca's for a couple of years now. I don't think it'd be going too far to say she is, by far, my favorite female singer--not just from the contemporary Christian scene but from all genres. I'd have to say that if you asked me to pick a favorite song that she does, I'd be hard pressed to do so. To go total fan-boy here, I am a fan of all her songs and each one is a favorite of mine. But it's not just that her music is great, it's the message behind it that really gets to me.

But what really gets me about Rebecca and her music is the huge impact it had on my life back in a time when I really, really needed to hear the message she had. I am not one of those people who hears a song by Shania Twain and says, "Oh yeah, Shania is talking about me in this song..." but I do feel as though, at times in my life, some of Rebecca's song have spoken directly to me and hit me exactly where I live.

One of those times was the summer of 2001.

There's not a lot of things I like to remember about the summer and fall of 2001. Yes, Tennessee beat Florida in the Swamp, sending Steve Spurrier packing to the NFL and there were some good things that happened, but overall, it's not one of those periods in my life that I'd be programming into the DeLorean to go back and visit if I had the choice. It was a hard time for me personally--my grandfather was extremely ill, we nearly lost my sister and my dad was in the Pentagon on September 11th. Needless to say, our family was under just a little bit of stress.

Now, before all this turmoil had started in my life, I'd re-discovered Rebecca St. James' music. I'd been in one of my favorite stores on the planet McKay's Used Books and CDs one day, browing the CDs when I came across a copy of Rebecca's CD "God" for a very reasonable price. I picked it up and figured, "Hey, why not?" and bought it. I put it into my car's CD player and started listening. I admit I was familiar with the title track when I purchased it, but not a lot of the other songs on the disc. So I had no idea how the fourth song on the CD would impact me--it was called "Speak to Me" and it became for a kind of a prayer over the next weeks, months and years of my life. I think I listened to that CD at least three times that day--once driving around and twice while playing some games on my computer. I even listened to it again on the way to church the next morning. If it were possible to wear out a CD, I'd probably have done it with this one the first weekend.

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It took me all of 24 hours before I was scouring music stores and buying up all of Rebecca's CDs that I could find. I pretty quickly assembled as close to a complete collection of her CDs that were in print as possible and I began to discover just how much I loved her music. Now, I'm a fan of contemporary Christian music and I love it. But there are times with some artists that I find myself wondering if they're not a bit like Cartman from an episode of South Park a few years ago. In the episode, Cartman forms a Christian band because he's told that he can have less talent, but make a lot of money just by changing a few lyrics in a song to God or Jesus. In the end, Cartman's true nature shows through at exactly the wrong time and his career comes crashing to a halt. Now, I'm not saying that every contemporary Christian artist is like that, but I've heard a few in my time that I honestly wonder about.

I've never had that feeling with Rebecca. Listening to her music, I found myself being touched by her ministry. This wasn't just a way to make money for her, but was her way of using her talents to glorify God. And she wrote a lot of her own songs, which greatly appealed to me. I honestly think I tried to wear out her CDs "God" and "Transform." (both of which still get a heavy rotation in my CD player to this day).

I found her music during what I like to call the calm before the storm of 2001. It helped me and like I said, it really hit some depths in my heart and soul. But I had no idea how much her ministry through music would help me in the days and weeks to come. I remember going on a looooong road trip to Memphis with my sister to visit my grandfather in the hospital and help Mom out and listening to the music with Susan. We both enjoyed it and we had a good time bonding as brother and sister a few weeks before we nearly lost her.

This week, our minister, Thad, talked about times in your life when we face trials in our Christian walk. God sometimes withdraws a bit from a bit and we don't feel His presense as strongly in our lives. This is meant to be a time of growth in our lives--not only personally but in our walk wit Him. We have to acknowledge that we've moved apart and get back with God. There is a scriptural basis for this--when Jesus is being crucified, he shouts out "My God, why have you forsaken me?"

During that time in 2001, this happened to me. I know it now looking back. In the midst of it all, I couldn't have told you what was happening, but I knew something was going on.

Until one day, while driving home from work. I remember the exact place I was too. I'd just exited at Walker Springs Rd in Knoxville, passing the shopping center with Books-a-Million in it and getting ready to turn left onto Kingston Pike to head toward the Y for my daily regiment of swimming laps. SportsTalk was in a commerical (it was close to football sesaon and I was eager for things to get started) and so I flipped over to the contemporary Christian music station. As I did, the DJ informed us that Rebecca St James had a new song and began to play it.

The song was "Breath" from her album "Worship God." I understand now that this is a song that is a popular song used a lot in contemporary worship and covered by many contemporary Christian artists. But that day in 2001, I'd not heard it before. Or at least not that I remembered.

It goes like this:

This is the air I breathe
This is the air I breathe
Your holy presence
Living in me

This is my daily bread
This is my daily bread
Your very word
Spoken to me

Chorus:
And I, I'm desperate for You
And I, I'm lost without You
Oh Lord, I'm lost without You

This is the air I breathe
This is the air I breathe
Your holy presence
Living in me

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I can remember the first time I heard those words "And I, I'm desparate for You...and I'm, I'm lost without you." I can still remember the big yellow sign for the Disc Exchange and tearing up, realizing that I was lost and desparate for God. I pulled off the road as soon as I could as the song continued to play and sat there, just weeping. It was at that point, I realized that I'd gotten away from God and I was desparate for Him. And not desparate in that way that people had talked about you in high school--the gee, I couldn't get a date if I tried, desparate. I was just searching, yearning, needing God..and the thing was, He was there. He'd been there the whole time but like a fool I'd been trying to shoehorn Him into what I thought I needed instead of letting Him work His will in my life and follow where He led. I can say that day helped me to cry, to weep and to mourn about the things happening in my life, but it also led me to a new sense of peace as I renewed my commitment to follow God. To daily be desparate for Him and to not worry about what anyone else would think about my desparation.

That song, by Rebecca, put into words things that had been boiling under the surface for a long time...and brought them out. And it hit me where I lived and it changed my life. I know I've said that I don't really have an all-out favorite song that she does, but if I had to pick just one for the sheer transforming power it's had on my life, it's this one. It's one of my favorite songs now and it's been done by a lot of artists, including Michael W. Smith, but I have to admit I have a huge bias toward Rebecca's version of it.

So, that's just a little bit of why I love the music of Rebecca St. James. And why I am thankful that she has answered the call to share her gift in this way. I've never met her and I may never meet her. But if I do, someday, I'd like to go up, shake her hand and tell her this story about how her answering her call has impacted me and helped me hear mine better.

(UPDATE 1:15 CST: Reading some comments, I've received and re-reading some of the above paragraphs, I realized I didn't say what I was thinking as well as I should...but I'm gonna leave it and say this. At times in my life, I've gone into a testing of my faith. And while God is with me in that, part of it is that God lets me go off and do the test on my own...so, that I will realize that I am desparate for Him and have to be dependent on Him. My thing is--I will go into a test and think, yes, I can do it all on my own and this is when the test starts to get increasingly difficult....after all, it says that we will never be tested beyond what we can bear. So, I know there's no test I can't handle or pass, but part of the test is the continued re-realization that I can't do it all alone. And that is a huge part of what this test showed me...it showed me that I thought I could handle everything and be the reliable, rock solid person and all the while I was falling apart inside. It was only when I gave up all that I was holding onto and left it with God and stopped thinking I could do it all that I began to learn the lesson behind the test. Alas, I'm thick-headed and this will have be reinforced again and it has been at several points since 2001, though only one time as severely and as breaking me down to the very rock bottom of who I am...)

posted by Michael Hickerson at 7/27/2005 10:28:00 AM | |
Tuesday, July 26, 2005
"What are you reading?" "Words..."
I love that quote from Hamlet, though I've probably butchered it or misquoted it. But you get the general idea.

I think I've said before that I love to read. I can't remember a time in my life that I didn't know how to read. I'm not saying I was reading great tomes of literature in my earliest memories, but I do remember reading such classics as Fox in Socks at an early age. When I was about three or four, my mother took some time to record some of my favorite books onto cassette tape for me, so I could listen to them over and over again without her, if she was busy doing silly things like making dinner, cleaning the house or taking care of my younger sister. I remember listening to those stories on tape and read by her and thinking how cool it would be that someday I'd be able to read the same books just as proficiently as my mom did. (I don't think a four year old's mind used the word proficient, but you get the point).

I remember the first time our class got to go down to the school library when I was in kindergarden. I remember being overwhelmed by the sheer responsiblity and awesome power that I had..I could choose any book I wanted, check it out, take it home and read it. I remember walking up and down the aisles full of books, wondering which one I should pick. It seemed an awesome, huge responsbility, especially since I'd have this book for a whole week. I needed to make sure my choice counted and wasn't just wasted, thus meaning I'd have to wait another week to make another one. I also remember looking at the "big kid" book section, where they had all these thick, huge books--ones that were filled with more words and fewer pictures. At that point, I couldn't imagine reading one of those huge books in my lifetime.

Ah, how things change....

Now I get the priviledge of reading to my neice and nephew. (And I can really understand why my mom recorded certain favorite books of mine onto tape for me to listen to over and over again at my leisure. I love Gracelyn and Davis, but I can recite a lot of their books from memory...but that's a good problem since that just means Uncle Michael can buy them new books to read and discover). And I now read at least one or two of those "huge, thick" books per week.

Yes, I'm a pretty voracious reader. I just love opening a book and letting the worlds inside come alive. And it doesn't really matter what the book is about--fiction, non-fiction, anything. As long as it catches my interest for the time I'm reading it, I'm happy.

One thing I've really enjoyed the past couple of weeks is the buzz surrounding the latest Harry Potter book. Not just the fact that a major character doesn't make it to the final chapters (please don't tell me who it is, I've not finished the book yet..more on that later). What I've loved seeing is copies of the book floating around. I've seen kids with their noses buried deep inside the thick, purple book and I've seen adults carrying it around, reading it while they work out at the Y. It's cool to see where people are in the book--how far they've read into the story. I love that there's a sense of community to the reading of these books and while I sometimes wonder at the extremes that Scholastic goes through to keep the plot under wraps until the book comes out, I do understand it. In a lot of ways, it reminds me of a story Stephen King referenced in a preface to one of the segments of The Green Mile when he talked about people gathering at the docks in the colonies to get the latest installment of one of Charles Dickens' new works. (I can't remember which of Dickens' works it was at the moment...if anyone can tell me, drop me a comment!)

So, some of you may be wondering--Michael, if you're such a voracious reader and you have this self-proclaimed love of Harry Potter, then why haven't you finished the latest Harry Potter book yet?

Well, the explanation is really quite simple, though it does kind of speak to my need for a 12-step book-a-holics recovery program. (Just a little aside here...a couple of weeks ago, I was waiting in line at the gas station when I noticed an attractive woman in front of me. As she plunked her keyring on the counter, I noticed she had a lot of those keychain cards for various stores around town...but what really caught my eye was that she had the keyring library cards for not one but two county library systems. Wow...let's just say I found to be a complete and total turn-on. And no, I didn't actually work up the courage or gumption to gush my lust for her and her two library cards...)

Last week, I bought the new Harry Potter book and was ready to tear into it. I read the first couple of hundred pages and was really enjoying it when...I got a call from the library. Now, I put enough books and DVDs on reserve that I think the library has my phone number on speed dial. Certainly, it's got so that most of the librarians know me on sight and will ask me what I've put on reserve and if I've come to pick up something. So, I got a call and I figured I'd have a book in, so I dropped by to pick it up. The librarian scanned my card and said, "Oh, you've won the library lottery today...you've got three items on hold."

Three items?!? My mind raced.

He went back to pick them up off the hold shelf. Coming back, he held three books and said, "You certainly have lucked out with three really good books all at the same time."

What had come in were the new Orson Scott Card fantasy novel, Magic Street, the latest Harmony novel by Phillip Gulley A Change of Heart and the current Michael Connolly book The Closers. I'd put all these on reserve weeks before and was eager to start all of them. But then came the bad news. I could only have The Closers for a week instead of two since it was a high-demand item. So, now I was on the horns of a dilemma...but one that as a book reader I was glad to have--which book to read first?

Did I keep reading Harry Potter and possibly rush the experience too much? Or did I put it on hold and read The Closers first since there was a time frame in which I had to read it (and it can't be renewed, so I'd have to go back on the waiting list for it). I went with option B and put Harry Potter aside to read the lastest adventures of Hollywood detective Harry Bosch. I finished the book in three days and am now back reading the end of the Harry Potter novel.

But wow...what a great choice to have as a book lover. To have a plethora of great books, all of which I want to read. Of course, I haven't helped my addiction since I stopped in at the bookstore this weekend and got the new Star Trek novel and Peter David's latest installment of the Sir Appropos series.

Hi, my name is Michael...and I'm a book-a-holic.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 7/26/2005 08:17:00 AM | |
Monday, July 25, 2005
Lance Armstrong
Lance Armstrong won his seventh straight Tour de France yesterday.

Seven straight years winning this event..that's impressive in any sport, any time, any where in my book.

But yet as I was listening to the radio talk shows yesterday and this morning, I was amazed at the numbers of people who were ready to line up and dismiss Armstrong's accomplishment and to claim the man is not an athlete. I heard one guy sum up why he doesn't think Lance is an athlete cause "all he does is ride a bicycle." The rest of his arguement was that if you went out and trained 7 days a week to ride a bicycle, anyone could do the same thing.

I just have to roll my eyes when I hear that. Now, I occasionally take a power cycling class or two and in that class was use resistance on a stationary bike to simulate hills. Key word here--simluate! The thing is, I have an immnese respect for Lance Armstrong. I took two classes last week of power cycling and I have to tell you after just 45 minutes to an hour of working--which included warm up and cool down, mind you--my muscles and body were a bit worn out. I can't imagine the work and dedication it must take so you can do that every single day for several straight hours. Also, in the class, I have direct control over the hills I'm climbing, so if I'm having an off day, I can dial it back a notch. Also, inside, no rain, heat, cold, snow, annoying fans who want to get in the way, etc. So, I have a profound respect for Armstrong and what he's accomplished athletically. The man has worked hard and is one of the great athletes not only of our time but maybe of all-time.

So, for anyone out there to dismiss Armstrong's accomplishments and his dominance in a sport as not worthy of note or praise because "he just rides a bicycle" is ludicrious. Take a step back and appreciate this moment because Armstrong is a once in a generation athlete--one who dominates his sports in a way that few, if any others have. He overcome health issues to become one of the greatest athletes of all time. So, please...don't dismiss him or disrespect him. But appreciate his place among the greats of all-time.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 7/25/2005 07:30:00 AM | |
Sunday, July 24, 2005
Did anyone else see this?

USA's Chelsea Davis hits her head on the board during a preliminary round in the women's three-meter springboard diving competition at the World Aquatics Championships Friday, July 22, 2005 in Montreal. Davis required stitches after hitting her head. (AP Photo/Ryan Remiorz)


Friday afternoon, I printed out my My Yahoo! page so I could have a complete set of the movie listings for middle Tennessee (the Tennesseean does not include theaters in Rutherford County). As I was looking over the start times for Fantastic Four and the other shows, I kept seeing this picture as tiny black and white thumbnail. I kept wondering--what is this picture and why is it one of the top three photos on Yahoo?

Then, I saw the story about it on SportsCenter...complete with video footage of Chelsea Davis hitting her head on the board. The good news is--she's OK. She had to have stitches, but it appears that, so far, she's OK. But it's scary footage to watch...

It got me thinking about the one time I've seen someone hit their head on the board and it was much more serious. In high school, I spent some time in the summer at the local pool. I knew some of the lifeguards from classes and so got to be on freindly terms with them. There was one guy who came daily that they cuased them all kinds of fits and required extra attention. He was a full grown adult, but I think he was mentally retarded. He'd come in and not realize that he was bigger than everyone else or he'd do stuff like change into his swimsuit on the pool deck (as in he took off all his street clothes and then put on his trunks). When he was in the pool--esp. the diving area--they had to keep an extra eye on him.

In the diving area, he liked to go out to the end of the board and do a flip. He'd get extremely close to the board as he'd go into the water. One day, during adult swim (which we need to bring back if only becuase I waited 18 years to participate in it!), he was on the boards. I was sitting on a deck chair and looked up as he went out onto the board. He turned around, sprung into the air, twisted and was coming down. I swear, it was one of those time slows down moments...I saw him coming down and realized--he's not gonna clear the end of the board. His body barely did and I was ready to breath a sigh of relief when I heard a loud thud! His head twisted backward and he went into the water. There was a dead silence. For what seemed like an enternity, he didn't come up...and then suddenly the guards are in the pool, getting him to the surface and taking care of him.

It's one of those moments that is just etched in my memory...it's scary and frightening. It's one reason I am not a huge fan of doing flips off the diving board myself and why when I do use a diving board (I've noticed a lot more pools don't have them these days...) I always make sure to try and launch myself as far out from the board as possible.

The good news is--the guy was OK. He was back a few days later when an ugly cut on his head but otherwise OK.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 7/24/2005 01:21:00 PM | |

Just when I thought I was out...
I have to admit the fourth season of Smallville really didn't thrill me that much. Honestly, with as great as Lost was this year, there were times new eps of Smallville got lost in the shuffle. I'm not even sure I've watched my tape of the season finale yet...in fact, I'm pretty sure I haven't.

So, when I heard it was moving to Thursdays in the fall, I wasn't too upset about it.

But then.....TV Guide On-Line reports this...
HE'S A BRAINIAC, BRAINIAC...: James Marsters (aka Spike on Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel) will be joining the cast of WB's Smallville this fall as college professor Milton Fine, aka the alter ego of Brainiac, one of Superman's greatest and most formidable villains. Says a WB rep, "Brainiac's presence in Smallville will have a devastating effect on Clark and Lex's already deteriorating friendship." Marsters' run is slated for six episodes. Hey, does Lois Lane need another sister, perhaps played by Sarah Michelle Gellar?
Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in. Of course, the real question is--what will this do the potential plans for a Spike movie on WB?

posted by Michael Hickerson at 7/24/2005 01:02:00 PM | |
Saturday, July 23, 2005
Fantastic Four
My old friend, Rich O. was in town last night and so we decided to re-live his bachelor days by grabbing some dinner and catching a movie. I tell you, those married guys--they get away from the wife and kid and just go nuts eating Mexican food and seeing a movie all in one night...

But we had a great time. We thought about trying to get into The Island, but instead went for Jessica Alba in The Fantastic Four. (For some odd reason, Rich used to watch Dark Angel...oh yeah, that's right...he did for a woman...) And you know, it wasn't that bad. Oh sure, it's not great or in the same league as Spiderman 1 or 2 or Batman Begins, but for what it is--a fun, popcorn movie, it's very entertaining. There are worse ways you could spend two hours, quite frankly. (Just to kind of give you an idea though...I am one of the five people on the planet who LIKED The Hulk...so take that into consideration...)

Now, I'd read the novelization of the film a few weeks ago. Namely because it was by Peter David, an author whose work I've really enjoyed (in fact, I picked up the third Sir Apropos novel today.). And I have to admit, the novelization didn't thrill me. Honestly, my biggest criticism is what they did to the Dr Doom character. In the comic books, he's a much more effective and layered villain than what we get here. Basically, here it's Julian McMahon playing a derivation of his character from Nip/Tuck. Doom's motivation is that he is competiting with Reed Richards for everything and winning at nothing. Outwardly Doom has success as the movie starts but it slowly falls away as Reed seems to get the acclaim, the spotlight and the girl that Doom wants so desparately. Seeing Doom's descent into evil over a corporate IPO is not exactly compelling viewing nor does it make for the best super villain out there...that said, he's still light years better than Richard Pryor in Superman 3.

Of course, the movie has to make some modernizations in the origin story, much as Spiderman did. I'm sure these bother purists who probably wept that one word of the original material was changed..but to most of us, it doesn't matter that much. Heck, I love Spidey and I can see why they made the tweaks they did to his getting his powers in the films...it worked and I went with it. You should too with Fantastic Four.

What the movie gets rights is Chris Evans as Johnny Storm. The guy is perfect in the role. Also, Michael Chicklis at Ben Grimm/The Thing works very well. And the prosthetic suit for the Thing works a lot better than I thought it would in the previews. Reed and Sue are OK, but Evans and Chicklis steal the spotlight every time they're on screen. Which is a lot of the movie thank goodness.

But back to my original point...having read the novelization, I knew pretty much how it would all unfold on screen and thus had no huge expectations. And you know what--that helped my enjoyment a lot. I enjoyed it for what it was and not what I imagined it would be. It's not as bad as some will tell you, but it's not great. It's a decent, fun summer movie and I can think of worse ways to spend a couple of hours. If you don't see it in theaters, it's defnitely worth at least a rental on DVD.

And coming away, I found myself comparing it to another Marvel superhero movie, X-Men. X-Men was good and it opend the door for the vastly superior X-Men 2. I am hoping that this one was good and it opens the door to a vastly better sequel. They leave it with all the elements in place--and while it's not quite the "oh man, I want a sequel now!" feeling I got going out of Batman Begins, it still made think--ya know, a second Fantastic Four movie wouldn't be that bad an idea.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 7/23/2005 06:19:00 PM | |
Friday, July 22, 2005
Random TV Show news
As the week slowly comes to an end, I saw a couple of articles that caught my attention.

First up is the fact that Jennifer Finnigan will be returning to The Dead Zone later this season. Apparnetly, she's going to be in the Christmas themed episode. Not sure when this will air (I'd assume around Christmas, but I've been wrong before) since The Dead Zone's fourth season is being split in half and I thought we got half of it this summer and half of it next summer.

The upside is--I liked Finnigan's character on the show and her chemistry with Johnny. The downside--Finnigan is starring in a new show for CBS this fall and that could limit her availability for The Dead Zone. Is it wrong of me to wish ill of her new show just so she can get more time on The Dead Zone?

Next up, if you're suffering from Lost withdrawal but don't want to know specific SPOILERS, then check out this article that talks about what's coming in season two. Most intriguing (well, outside of Michelle Rodriguez) is the fact that we'll find out what's inside the hatch "sooner rather than later."

And last but certainly not least, the new season of Doctor Who has begun filming in the UK. This will be sesaon 28 for those of you keeping track at home (or series 2 of the new Doctor Who) and will be the first to feature David Tennant as the 10th Doctor. Producer Russell T. Davies has confirmed the Cybermen will be in the new season, which will run for 13 episodes plus a Christmas special later this year. The new season will debut in 2006 in the UK and then in the US a few hours later when fans download the new episodes since no networks in the U.S. have had the good sense to pick up the show yet....

posted by Michael Hickerson at 7/22/2005 03:40:00 PM | |

Friday Memes
Friday's Feast
Appetizer
What kind of car do you drive? If you could make an even trade for any other car, what would you want to drive?
2001 2-door blue Chevy Cavalier. I'd trade it even stevens for a Nissan Altima, esp. one in that cool orange color....(hmmm....me and the color orange...how shocking!)

Soup
Take your phone number and add each number together separately (example: 8+6+7+5+3+0+9=38) - what's the total?
Wait..we're making me do math on a Friday?!? That's not fair!
Work: 36
Home: 33
Cell: 43

Salad
When were you last outside, and what were you doing?
I went out to my car at lunch to retrieve a book I'd left in my trunk. And let me just say this--dang, it's HOT!

Main Course
What is your favorite restaurant, and what do you usually order there?
There's a Mexican place called Cozumel here...I usually get the Nachos Cozumel without sour cream.

Dessert
Name 3 things in which you occasionally indulge.
Sprite Remix, food from Sonic, peanut butter M&Ms

Aloha Friday
How often do you clean your house?
Big cleaning is every week and then I try to keep it neat and clean during the week, though some days are better than others.

How much water do you drink every day?
Well, since I pretty much only drink water, quite a bit. Honestly, it depends on what exercise I've done that day and how much. I try to at least drink my 64 oz of water a day and I am usually pretty successful at that.

Mixing things up again…what DVD should we add to our summer viewing list?
Earlier this week, I discussed The Girl Next Door, which I think is definitely worth a look. And if you've already decided to check it out based on my thoughts on it or have already seen it, then I always think The Searchers is a good choice.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 7/22/2005 01:47:00 PM | |

TV Round-Up
The 4400: Life Interrupted
Tom wakes us in an alternate reality where the events of the past two years never happened. The 4400 were never taken and his life, for the most part, is a whole lot better. Kyle is happy and going to med school, Shawn has a band and he's married to a woman he's never met before named Alana. But yet Tom can't shake the feeling that something is wrong--the show even gives all the characters a plausible explanation for why Tom is a bit loopy in that he was held prisoner and tortured in his last assignment for information.

Over the course of an hour, we check in at various points in Tom's new life. He lives eight years in this new life, slowly falling in love with and re-newing his vows with Alana. Turns out Alana didn't remember Tom either before meeting him for the first time in the course of this episode. Could she by the lynchpin to this whole plot? If you said yes, you win the fabulous prize. (Yes, you get your own copy of the highly collectible #0 Big Orange Michael podcast!)

Basically, Life Interrupted turns out to be little more than a retread of TNG's great The Inner Light. Same basic premise as The Inner Light (one of the best TNG eps IMHO) and the good part is--this one is as equally compelling and watchable. There is a difference in where the memories lead to--in Inner Light, it's for a civilization to live on by sharing their thoughts and memories with Picard and here it's to allow Tom a bit of a vacation before things get really difficult. Alana's power is to create a fantasy world for Tom and that both of them remember the eight years together. Apparently the future people are worried that being the savior of humanity is gonna be difficult for Tom to do alone, so they allow him to develop a relationship with Alana in this fantasy universe that they both remember and can build on in the real world. Kind of nice thing--you can bascially skip all of the awkwardness of those first few dates and jump right into the relationship, knowing that you're compatable.

But it does bring up some interesting questions--what is Tom's role? Why was he chosen? Was it because Kyle has been corrupted so? And are there two factions (at least) in the future trying to create or alter the timeline for some purpose? And why was Alana chosen as the companion for Tom? What about her made her special as opposed to them choosing Diana or getting him back with his ex-wife?

The Dead Zone: Heroes and Demons
I found myself wanting to like this episode of The Dead Zone a lot more than I actually did. First of all, it's by Michael Taylor who wrote one of the best hours of TV ever produced in DS9's The Visitor. And his work on this show last year wasn't too shabby either. Then, it's got an interesting premise--an autistic boy named Thad seeks Johnny for help. Seeing Johnny try to interpret the visions from the autistic boy's point of view was intersting and I liked how the producers showed the visions of the dropped M&Ms and how the boy counted them.

What didn't work was the rather ho-hum and cliched plotline they came up with for this story. Seems that Thad's mother was killed in a car wreck while he was in the car with her and his father is on death row for allegedly killing a fellow officer in an undercover sting gone wrong. As the hour progresses, we quickly realize that the father was framed but the question is--by who? It only takes about two seconds after meeting his former partner to guess who is the one who really committed the crime and the rest kind of falls into placce from there. Not exactly the most exciting or compelling plotline and the real issue is that outside of the whole austic boy knows the truth but how can we find it out, it's not really all that groundbreaking, new, different or even as entertaining as I'd hoped it would be. Instead, it's a cliche and a lot of them...including the fact that the gang the father was trying to take down tries to eliminate Thad because he knows too much. (The fact that he's barely spoken in a couple of years doesn't seem to deter them).

The story is also told within a framing device of Thad's mom in a costume right out of Dungeons and Dragons, relating Thad's quest for the truth as a heroic quest. (Thad draws out parts of the plot in a comic book form...including an amusing view of Bruce as an elf). It sort of works, but it also proves distratcing at times and interrupts the flow of the plot. I think part of it is that the show was trying to do too much and ended up not covering all the bases well. I liked the attempts to have us see inside Thad's mind and how things unfolded in the story for him, but you couple that with the predictable mystery of the week plotline that as cliche ridden as it was and you end up with an episode that is less than the sum of its parts.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 7/22/2005 09:13:00 AM | |
Thursday, July 21, 2005
Just a reminder: Firefly is back!
Joss Whedon's brilliant but short-lived series Firefly returns to the airwaves tomorrow night as SciFi begins running the show. The series will be run in the original, intended order (unlike FOX which aired the two-hour pilot last) and will include the three episodes that were previously only available in the U.S. on DVD. If you've not seen Firefly yet and are wondering why I'm such a fan, I urge you to consider setting those VCRs or TiVOs tomorrow night at 7 p.m. EST for the first half of the two-hour pilot. All I ask if 14 weeks to soak in the brilliance that was Firefly.

And by catching up on the series, you can be ready for the big movie Serenity that hits theaters September 30th. The new international trailer is impressive, though if you've got a slow connection, it will take a bit of time to download and view. But it's worth it.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 7/21/2005 03:40:00 PM | |

Blog Challenge: What Makes You Happy, Year Two
Last year, one of my fellow bloggers challenged the blogging community to take the month of August and try an experiment--for every day in August, you would post at least one thing that made you happy.

I'm going to issue that challenge again for this August. It's been a year and looking back at my archives from last year, a lot of the things in there just brought a smile to my face again. Plus, I had a great time reading about all the different good things going on in everyone's lives each day. So, here's the challenge. For the month of August, for every day, post at least one thing that makes you happy. You can do a post a day or a wrap-up every couple of days...however it is you feel most comfortable with or are able to do so. Or if you only post once a day, include the challenge in the beginning, middle or end of your daily posts.

Who's with me?

posted by Michael Hickerson at 7/21/2005 09:12:00 AM | |
Wednesday, July 20, 2005
I got tagged by AK...
Ten years ago: I was still in school at UT...headed into my final full year as a college student. I spent my summer working at Busch Gardens and I discovered The X-Files.

Five years ago: Living in Knoxville, working out in Oak Ridge at a good job that I liked. Watching the Titans come one yard shy of tying the Super Bowl...

One year ago: I was in Nashville, going through a difficult time in my life.

Yesterday: I got up, went to work, worked out, read some of Harry Potter, offered to share my lap lane with a couple of people, listened to music, came home, ate dinner, went over to see my sister and her family, played with my niece and nephew. Thought about going to water aerobics but wimped out when I saw I was gonna be the only male in the class...

Today: Gonna take a spinning class and swim some laps. Hopefully catch up on Sunday night's The Dead Zone. Yep, it's a party every day in my world.

Tomorrow: Thursday Night Worship tomorrow evening. My call to worship is ready to go and I feel very calm about it.

5 snacks I enjoy: animal crackers, chocolate animal crackers, pizza blasted goldfish, peanut butter M&Ms, wheat thins.

5 bands that I know the lyrics of most of their songs: The Monkees, Ray Stevens, Alabama, Garth Brooks, Shania Twain.

5 things I would do with $100,000,000: Buy a house, visit the UK, invest well and retire, travel the world taking as long as I wanted to explore, buy a huge TV for the new house.

5 locations I’d like to runaway to: Knoxville, UK, Hawaii, Italy, the Bahamas.

5 bad habits I have: Biting my fingernails, Doctor Who fandom, DVD box-sets, talking too much when nervous, watching too much TV

5 things I like doing: Watching TV, blogging, swimming laps, cooking, eating at Sonic.

5 things I would never wear: Speedos, buttless chaps, stripes with plaids, crimson on the third Saturday in Octobre (or ever really), anything with a Dallas Cowboy logo.

5 TV shows I like: What?!? Only five?!? Battlestar Galactica, Star Trek, Doctor Who, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Scrubs.

5 movies I like: Star Trek II, The Empire Srikes Back, Casablanca, The Searchers, Spiderman 2

5 famous people I’d like to meet: Joss Whedon, William Shatner, Elizabeth George, Nicholas Brendan, Nicola Bryant.

5 biggest joys at the moment: The Firefly movie comes out in September, football season is soon, my neice and nephew, that the day is almost over, that I am blessed with great friends.

5 favorite toys: My DVD player, my cell phone, my VCRs, my surround sound system and my computer.

5 people to tag: I am gonna go with Barry, Becky, Stacy, Logtar and Karenl. But anyone else who wants to play, please go ahead.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 7/20/2005 01:10:00 PM | |

R.I.P.: James Doohan
MSN is reporting that James Doohan who played chief engineer Montgomery "Scotty" Scott on the original Star Trek has passed away. Doohan was 85.

I'm saddened to hear this news and my thoughts and prayers go out to Doohan's family on this less.

As a Star Trek fan, this is the second of the original crew that has gone on to the great Enterprise in the sky.

Also, I must point out that at no point in the original series or films did anyone utter the line, "Beam me up, Scotty."

posted by Michael Hickerson at 7/20/2005 12:25:00 PM | |

Supreme Court Nominee
I tuned in to watch a repeat of House as I gave my nephew, Davis his breathing treatment last night and instead got to see President Bush's announcement about his nominee to fill the Supreme Court seat vacated by outgoing justice Sandra Day O'Connor. As I watched the introduction of John Roberts, Jr and heard Bush give a bit of his background, I found myself scratching my head and going--so, who is this guy? I'd skimmed by some talking heads earlier in the evening, citing Robert's resume to this point and why he was chosen. And I'm sure as the days and weeks unfold, we'll find out more about Roberts than we ever wanted to know, including what he ate for breakfast on day he was introduced as a nominee and what radio station he listened to driving into the White House for the big national press conference.

I have to admit that I am not a huge follower of the national judicial circuit. I doubt there are judicial member trading cards out there that list cases they've heard or positions they've held or important opinions they've rendered. So, to me, Roberts is a bit of a mystery. And I know that we heard Bush's reasons for why he chose Roberts last night. And I'm sure as the weeks unfold we'll hear more about it, as well as numerous reasons why he shouldn't be confirmed from the opponents. But as I watched, I found myself wondering--did anyone else have this same reaction? Did you scratch your head and go, "OK, but who is this guy?"

I hate to say it, but in my world, I can tell you more about Travis Henry, the new Titan's running back than I can about this nominee to the Supreme Court. But which of these two is going to have a bigger overall impact on my life over the next couple of years--Henry, who won a national championship for the Vols and got screwed by a lesser running back in Buffalo or Roberts, who could make sweeping Constiutional interpretations that will become the law of the land.

On that note, I was intrigued by a couple of articles in this morning's Tennessean. One talked about the role that Bill Frist now has in trying to win confirmation for Roberts. Another was about the reaction of some legal scholars and lobbyists here in Middle Tennessee. And I'm sure as the days and weeks go along, my fellow bloggers will fill my computer screen with information on Roberts, his background and why they think he should or shouldn't be confirmed to the high court...

posted by Michael Hickerson at 7/20/2005 10:31:00 AM | |

ICE
No, no, I'm not quoting the famous Vanilla Ice song....

This morning I heard a report on the tail end of the news broadcast about programming your emergency contact number into your cell phone. The report said that in the wake of last week's London attacks, that officials were recommended that the number(s) you wanted to contacted in case of an emergency were put into your cell phone under ICE (In Case of Emergency). It was said that this would be a signal to responders of who to call and it would be easy to find since there aren't as many entries that start with the letter I.

I thought it sounded like a pretty good idea and I figured I'd share with my fellow bloggers. Of course, I'm sure I will get at least three or four people who tell me--man, that is the lamest idea ever and then a couple that say--man, I did that years ago.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 7/20/2005 08:10:00 AM | |
Tuesday, July 19, 2005
A wee bit sore...
It's been a while since I've been able to make it to a spinning class, but yesteday I decided that I wanted to add some variety to the work-out routine and so I signed up for one. And let me just say this--it's still a great workout and wow, I haven't used some of the muscles I used yesterday as much of late and they are sure letting me know about it today.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 7/19/2005 09:00:00 AM | |
Monday, July 18, 2005
Big Orange Michael Podcast #0
Want to hear my first ever podcast? (Ok, well, the first one that's made it up to the world wide web?)

Click here...and you can hear me ramble on for about three minutes! Woo-hoo!



posted by Michael Hickerson at 7/18/2005 09:07:00 PM | |

Movie: The Girl Next Door

The original movie poster Posted by Picasa

Over the weekend, I watched The Girl Next Door, a movie that came out last spring and was advertised as a teen-sex comedy featuring Elisha Cutherbert from 24. It quickly passed out of theaters, not making a whole lot of money and was considered a bomb.

Thankfully, we live in the day and age of DVD and VHS, so maybe these movies can find an audience (rentals and sales of the first (and funnies) Austin Powers helped create that franchise).

From the way this movie was advertised, I was expected one of those typical teen sex-romps along the lines of American Pie or Road Trip--you know the type I'm talking about with lots of guys trying to find ways to score with the attractive girl (in this case Elisha Cuthbert who pretty much was the marketing campaing--look, she's hot!) and some flatulence jokes.


Elisha Cuthbert Posted by Picasa

Instead, what we got was a movie that has something a lot of the typical teen sex romps that were popular for a while lacked--a heart.

OK, don't get me wrong here--this movie is not Shakespeare. It's probably not going to be considered one of those "New Classics" on TNT any time soon. But taken for what it's trying to be, it's actually a nice little movie that I really enjoyed (and not just because Elisha Cutherbert shows up and looks hot throughout the film.).

Going into his senior year, Matthew Kidman is a good, responsible kid. He's president of the senior class, he's helped raise money to bring a genius from an Asian country to the U.S. to study, he's got early acceptance into Georgetown. As we first meet him, he's filling out his senior memories sheet for his yearbook and finding he has nothing memorable to put down for his high school expereince. For all his accomplishments, Matt is a bit of a nerd and not accepted or popular with his peers. At one point, Matt imagines skipping class with a large group of seniors to go to the beach, only to come up with a wild Scrubs like fantasy scenario of what might happen if he does....and so he stays in school.

Until one day, Danielle moves in next door. Now, if you've seen the trailers, you know what happens. Matt sees Danielle undressing, she comes over and tries to bust him and then ends up embrassing him as well.

Over the course of the movie, Danielle asks Matt "What's the craziest thing you've done lately?" This is done after she makes him strip off her clothes and leaves him naked in the street and the two take a midnight swim in his principle's pool among other things.

Of course, we all know the twist--Matt finds out about Danielle's past and it's a doozy. She's a porn star whose moved out to the burbs to get away from her life. She's followed by Kelly, a producer played by Timothy Olyphant and he steals every scene he's in. Kelly takes Matt underwing as a kind of weird big brother figure, and eventually convinces Danielle to come back to the industry.

This movie is one that is radically different in tone from what the previews make it out to be. If you're expecting lots of nudity and sex, yes, you'll get it. But it's a movie that plays with expectations and has an actual lot of heart to it. More than I expected. The relationship between Danielle and Matt feels real and you can really see these two falling in love. At one point, Matt risks everything--including a scholarship that will make or break his going to Georgetown for Danielle. And she helps him to overcome his fears of being forgotten or always being the perfect student/son, etc and to do the right thing in pursuit of his true love. (Though he does have aspiriations of going into politics, which may be ruined by Danielle's checkered past should they stay together...) The movie does change tone several times, but it consistently shows the growth and development not only of Danielle but also Matt.

One of the most interesting scenes comes halfway through when Matt first finds out Danielle is a porn star. To this point, he's seen her as a person but he quickly objectifies her. To point that he takes her to a hotel room in a bad attempt at seduction. Danielle turns the tables, throwing it in his face and storms off after asking if this is what he wanted--to have sex with a porn star in a cheap hotel room? (I am paraphrasing here as there's another word used, but this is a family blog...or at least PG-13)

Now, I'll be honest here..this movie is not what I expected. It was better than I expected. I was pleasantly surpirsed at it and yes, there are some absurd plot twists in the last half hour, but it's one of those things that you're having so much fun you just go with it. It's not a laugh out loud, fall on the floor comedy and there's certainly no Stiffler character here (though Matt's buddy Eli comes close). But if you go into tthis one with an open mind and ignore how it was advertised, I think what you'll find is a decent little teen love story that actually has some heart. Yes, it's got a lot of swearing and a lot of it takes place in an around porn..so if you're offended by that, don't give this one a viewing. But if you can look past that, you'll see a movie about characters who challenge each other to do the right thing and take all the right, crazy risks for true love.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 7/18/2005 03:18:00 PM | |

TV Round-Up: Sci-Fi Friday
SciFi Friday is back....my round-up goes from worst to first in what I enjoyed Friday evening.

Stargate: Atlantis: The Seige, Part 3

This may be one of the most dense episodes of any show I've seen in a long time. In the course of one hour, we have to introduce new characters, resolve the cliffhanger from last year and deal with the Wraith and their unrelented attacks on Atlantis and set-up some of the on-going plot threads and threats for this year. That is a lot of information and resolution to pack into an hour of television and I have to admit I'm not sure Atlantis really pulled it off all that well. I liked the introduction of Nick Peleggi as Col. Caldwell to the recurring cast, but the arrival of the Daedulus just seemed a bit too convienent. Gee, just as Shepard is about to go kamakazi on one Wraith hive ship, Caldwell and company show up, beam our hero to safety and he still gets to destroy the hive ship using a puddle jumper and a nuke. Yeah, that was a bit much. As was the rather derivative ending of utlizing Telya's connection to the Wraith to convince them that our heroes had really destroyed Atlantis. It stinks of Data's telling the Borg to "sleep" via the link with Captain Picard in TNG's fourth season opener. And for a super colossal evil race who last year said--yes, we're gonna take out Atlantis and then head on over to Earth for the all you can eat human buffet, the Wraith sure do give up awfully easy. "Oh, gee, it looks like the city is gone, so let's head for the hills and go find us another buffet." It just felt like the writers painted themselves into a corner and had to find a way out and this seemed as good as any. Also, if you're trying to sell the Wraith on the destruction of Atlantis, why don't you have the Daedulus take off into hyperspace and make it appear as if a skeleton crew is nuking the city? I know, I know--we needed their super cool transporter to make the illusion work, but it just didn't make a lot of sense. (Of course, following my own logic, I guess everyone could pile out using the Stargate before the big boom).

Meanwhile, Ford gets turned into a half-human/half-Wraith thing and is now pretty unbalanced. He takes off in a puddle jumper and now, I assume, will be out there as an on-going threat all season long.

Stargate SG1: Avalon, Part 1
Ever wonder what it'd be like if John Crichton somehow fell through a wormhole into the Stargate universe? Well, you don't have to wonder any more as that's exactly what we get here as Ben Browder joins the cast of Stargate SG1 as the new team leader. And you know what--I know the character Browder is playing ain't exactly the opposite of John Crichton and I just don't care. The sensibility that Browder brought to Farscape is working here, at least so far. The first episode of season nine is intended to introduce us to two new characters--Browder and new general, Beau Bridges and maybe have a bit of plot thrown in. On those counts it ably succeeds and it does so very well. it was interesting to see the show go ret-con with the backstory of Mitchell and how that fit into the overall Stargate universe mythology.

As if that weren't enough, you add in Claudia Black, dressed in a tight leather outfit that is revealing in all the right places. Excuse me for a moment while I just pause to drool while thinking about Claudia Black.

OK...where was I?

Honestly, I found myself wondering if this episode wasn't supposed to be a two-hour season premiere that had to be trimmed into a two-parter. The pacing felt that way at several points--especially early on as we see a lot of Mitchell front and center in the plotline. I did like the way that Mitchell is working to "get the band back together" and how they dealt with not having Daniel Jackson warp off to Atlantis on the Deadelus. (Though it does make you wonder...how did the Daedulus get to Atlantis so fast?) And the quick in-joke about how similiar Michael Shanks and Ben Browder look was nicely done.

Battlestar Galactica: Scattered
I've saved the best for last...much as SciFi did Friday night. I admit that as excited as I was about the second season of Battlestar Galactica, part of me was a bit nervous, hoping the show wouldn't have a sophomore slump. I was hoping this wouldn't be a one-season wonder and then quickly jump the shark in season two. One episode in and all I can say is--no fin in sight.

Picking up just moments about Kobol's Last Gleaming left off, the storyline begins to deal with some of the fallout of the events from the end of last season..meanwhile, continuing to push the plotlines forward in an interesting way. Seeing Tigh suddenly thrust into a role he doesn't want as commander was nicely done and the flashbacks to his early friendship with Adama were intresting. One key detail that I caught--Adama married into the right family to give his career a boost...interesting nugget of information, especially given the reverred position Adama now holds with fleet. I did like that Adama was not magically healed from his gun shot wounds and that even though we knew they couldn't kill off the character just yet, that somewhere deep inside, you wondered--maybe, just maybe will they kill off the commander of the fleet?

Interesting to see that Tigh is so loyal to Adama and so scared of having his own command that he risks the Galactica and the safety of the entire fleet on an insane plan to find the coordinates for the rest of the fleet. Again, I thought for a moment that were going to not find the fleet at the coordinates in question. Just another way the show plays with expectations. Meanwhile, we see Lee's loyalties shift a bit--at least publically. He disavows Roslin to get out of the cell and go back on duty, but is forced to return there any time he's off duty. Meanwhile, Helo keeps Starbuck from killing Caprica Boomer because she is carrying his chilld. And Baltar asks the questions we're all wondering--how can he have a child with Six when she's just an image in his twisted little mind? (Oh but damn it's gonna be fun to find out Ron Moore does that one...)

And just when you think it's safe, they hit you with a cliffhanger that left me eager for more Galatica soon. Thank goodness we only have to wait seven days to see Cylons storming the corridors of Galactica.

Another strong advantage--no neat resolution to the cliffhangers ala Atlantis. At the end of the hours, we'd only resolved that Galactica is back with the fleet, the situation on Kobol is pretty perilious and that Starbuck is stuck on Caprica. Not every one returned to the fleet and had a hug..instead, things continue to be deadly, dark and utterly compelling.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 7/18/2005 08:44:00 AM | |

Travis Henry: Back in Tennessee
The official word snuck out over the weekend that UT's all-time leading rusher, Travis Henry will be coming back to the Volunteer state to play football. Yes, Travis Henry is now a member of the Tennessee Titans.

All I can say is-- woo hoo!

posted by Michael Hickerson at 7/18/2005 08:25:00 AM | |
Saturday, July 16, 2005
You can't get there from here...

Big Orange Michael Highway
Childbirth Hospital4
Tower of Commitment22
Lake Love49
Confusion Lane123
Hobotown234
Please Drive Carefully
Username:

Where are you on the highway of life?

From Go-Quiz.com


posted by Michael Hickerson at 7/16/2005 06:46:00 PM | |

A quick round-up
Went out this morning and have my copy of the new Harry Potter novel. Amazingly there were no thunder hoardes circling the display of them at Wal-Mart. I'm betting there are some bleary eyed children this morning just turning the last few pages, having stayed up all night reading.

Personally, I don't think I'm going to read all of it one sitting. I will read it, but I want to sit back and enjoy it at a non-rushed pace. So, no SPOILERS please!!!!!

And now for a quick round-up for the first Sci-Fi Friday of the summer. (I will blather on at length later)

Battlestar Galactica--I admit, I was worried it'd be a one-season wonder...shows no signs of being that. Not a resolution so much as a continuation of events started last year.
Stargate SG1--Ben Browder is great. The better of the two Stargate shows last night.
Stargate Atlantis--It was OK, but the solutions were a bit too easy in resolving the city in peril plotline.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 7/16/2005 11:05:00 AM | |
Friday, July 15, 2005
Friday Memes
Friday's Feast
Appetizer
What is your middle name? Would you change any of your names if you could? If so, what would you like to be called?
Thomas and no I wouldn't change any of my names.

Soup
If you were a fashion designer, which fabrics, colors, and styles would you probably use the most?
I'd use lots orange...I honestly don't know enough about fabrics and styles to really say.

Salad
What is your least favorite chore, and why?
Scrubbing the tub...it's just tedious.

Main Course
What is something that really frightens you, and can you trace it back to an event in your life?
I don't like doctors and hospitals. When I was three, I had heart surgery and my only memory of it is seeing my dad in his Air Force uniform leave for the night and it then being dark and being really scared.

Dessert
Where are you sitting right now? Name 3 things you can see at this moment.
At my desk at work. I can see my monitor (obviously), my phone and my orange cup full of ice water.

Aloha Friday
Are you a morning, afternoon or evening person?
Morning

Who was the last person to whom you mailed a letter? Greeting cards don’t count.
I mailed a thank you note to a guy I networked with during the job search.

A change at Aloha Friday…question #3 is what I will call Reader’s Choice. Pick something you’d like to know about your readers/commenters, ask the question in this spot on your blog, then invite your readers/commenters to answer in…well, the comments section.
Ah, the attempt to comment-whore....I love it. I feel as if I should have some deep, probing, earth-shattering question here...but then again, that would go against what this blog has been until now. And so, I'll ask this--what is the best movie you've seen so far this summer and is there one coming out soon that you can't wait to see?

posted by Michael Hickerson at 7/15/2005 02:17:00 PM | |

TV Round-Up
The Dead Zone: Still Life
Is it just me or does the show just seem to work better when Bruce is in the mix? In a lot of ways, Bruce is the Watson to Johnny's Holmes.

The Dead Zone continues to get better as the fourth season progresses with a strong, entertaining episode. Johnny is sent a painting by reclusive artist Andrew Lyne. Lyne was an established artist who went into retreat when his daughter and muse was killed. Now, it appears he's reemerging, having found a long-lost daughter and a new muse. Problem is, she's disappeared and Johnny is having visions of her demise. Now, I won't say that this one had any huge, shocking plot twists--I mean, Lyne's actual daughter being his assistant wasn't that huge a stretch and it did seem they worked awfully hard to have her lurking in the background in two early scenes in Lyne's studio. And while there wasn't the sense of mirth that we had in "Double Vision" we instead got a slow burn of tension right up to the final few scenes in which we find out the assistant is really Lyne's daughter and pretty annoyed she can't be his muse. Also, there was an interesting thread of Johnny's visions carrying over and giving him some of the artistic ability of Lyne and the obsession with Chloe. Though I did find myself wondering how much of that was Johnny's own obessive personality being brought out by the same traits in Lyne. I wonder if the visions are starting to have some residual affects on Johnny that he may not be aware of, but will become clearer as the season progresses....

Monk: Mr. Monk and the Other Detective
I guess Jason Alexander has a lot more time on his hands these days, now that his show Listen Up has been cancelled. Sad part is--Alexander's performace here as the other detective is 100 times better than the entire season he did of Listen Up (the few time I tuned it, I was totally underwhelmed...)

Alexander's Marty Eales is the polar opposite of everything Monk is..whereas Monk is a neat freak and has phobias of everything, Eales is a slob and apparently afraid of very little--except disappointing his mother. Interesting that Eales' mother helps him to "solve" the case by giving him the solution to things in advance. Eales then goes out and tries to build his reputation by out Monking Monk. I loved Monk's constant whines of "He's cheating" that all fell upon deaf ears, except Natalie. Now, I have to admit I did find Stottlemeyer's quick abandoning of Monk, given Monk's track record and their friendship a bit odd. I also found it a bit strange and forced that the community college that was willing to take Monk as a teacher would suddenly take Eales when Monk refused. After all, Monk has the track record and Eales doesn't. But hey, it made for a fun little coda and I am sure some of you will tell me that I'm thinking too much about these things.

The 4400
: As Fate Would Have It
Most weeks, I'd lead with my wrap-up of The 4400, but since this episode is a bit more pivotal than most, I left it for last. Let me warn you now--if you've not yet seen this episode and want to go in aware of what happens in it, then I strongly suggest you stop reading now. I am going to give away the entire ending of the story...

OK, still here?

After a couple of weeks of set-up, we finally get some movement on the major plotlines unfolding this year on The 4400. Interesting that there's no "4400 of the week" storyline this week, unless you really count the focus on Jordan. But then again, there is a lot happening here. Maia has a vision of Jordan being killed which she tells Diana about. She and Tom approach Jordan about the vision, suggesting he might want to step up security around him and be less visible. This is not an option for Jordan as he's arranged a meet-up for the 4400 at the center and wants to be out front and center during the big weekend. So, Tom and Diana offer extra security and Jordan runs to consult with Isabelle who shows him a happy future in which he lives and collects some kind of award. There is an attempt on Jordan's life early on and we're left to assume this is what Maia saw and that her horrible vision has been averted. Not so fast, my friends.

Meanwhile, Liv shows up at the center asking for Sean to heal her friends. Sean refuses and Liv leaves in a huff, only to show up later in a drug-induced state. She sleeps on Sean's couch and he adds her to the center's program to try and help her escape her life on the streets. And Heidi connects with Lilli and meets Isabelle, who is not happy to see her half-sister and it's implied Isabelle causes Heidi's spleen to rupture. And then there's Kyle who is blanking out again...why we're not quite sure.

All of these plotlines intersect on the day of the big gathering when an assassin takes our Jordan, killing him. Sean tries to heal him but can't and Jordan apparently dies. But not before saying that Isabelle lied to him. Sean takes over running the center and has no time to acknowledge a cleaned up Liv as he's surrounded by advisors. And we find out that Kyle might have been the assassin during one of the times of his blanking out.

So, now the questions begin....are there two sides fighting in the future to re-write the present? And what role to the 4400 play in that? Which side is Isabelle on? Why is Kyle blanking out? Is he being Quantum Lept into and not remembering because of that? And is this slowly becoming little more than a rehash of the temporal cold war plotline from Enterprise? (And we all know how lackluster that turned out to be!) There appear to be sides to this conflict and it will be interesting to see how they develop. Also, Jordan's body disappears, thus making us wonder--is he really dead or did he fake it all to thrust the leadership role upon Sean? Did Jordan really take Tom and Diana's advice and go underground big time? And how long until Maia get her own psychic friend hotline number?

Also, Sean's supposedly moving speech about Jordan at the end just wasn't very well acted. Patrick Fluger seemed to be channeling the worst soap opera acting ever into those moments and it really ruined what could have been a better moment on the show.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 7/15/2005 08:38:00 AM | |

Tonight, tonight....
It's a pretty exciting day to be a sci-fi fan. Tonight we get the kick-off of the second season of Battlestar Galactica and the season premieres of the two Stargate franchises. I'm willing to give SG1 a look simply because Ben Browder (John Crichton from Farscape) will be starring this year, but I have to admit I'm the most excited about the second season of Battlestar Galactica. The first season ended just a few months ago and yet I've been eagerly anticipating the premiere since the show went into repeats. Galactica's first-season cliffhanger was a thing of beauty, ranking right up there with "Mr Worf, fire!" from TNG, "I condemn you to live" from Farscape and the third season cliffhanger to Babylon Five.

And then, a certain books goes on sale tonight at midnight....a highly anticipated book. I have to admit, I'm a Harry Potter fan and I'm looking forward to reading the newest book. Not sure I'll be out at midnight fighting the thunder hoardes of young readers who are (no doubt) frothing at the mouth to read it, but I am going to pick up a copy of it tomorrow and start reading.

Good day to be a sci-fi fan....good day.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 7/15/2005 07:47:00 AM | |
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