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Monday, October 31, 2005
Caoching Philosophy
So, yesterday I was watching the Titans fall behind by 17 early and then come back to at least make it interesting heading into the 4th Quarter against the Raiders and lamenting that, once again, FOX 17 coudn't be bothered to show us the battle for first place in the NFC East between my beloved Redskins and the hated New York Giants (sorry, Eli....gotta root against you!) But you know, as the score kept scrolling across the bottom of CBS's coverage of the Titans game, I started thinking--maybe this is not such a bad thing. Because looking at the score and the story from the Washington Post about the game, I might have felt sick to my stomach, much the same way I did Saturday night. Seems the Redskins laid a huge egg against the Giants, not even really bothering to show up and losing 36-0.

Wow..that is painful.

Really, really painful.

I'm getting ill just looking at it.

OK, focus on the positive--at least it wasn't losing the Cowboys. You would have had to talk me down off a bridge if that had happened.

Also, the good news is that, once again, the NFC East is the best division in the NFL..the way it should be. And that the Skins get a chance for some redemption next week at home against the Eagles in another huge divisional game that---Hallelujah!--is on ESPN Sunday night.

But in trying to understand how the Skins got humilated so, I went to the Washington Post's coverage of the game. And this is what coach Joe Gibbs had to say:
"Something like this starts with me," Gibbs said. "Certainly that's my responsibility. I think it was all of us together."
As I read that, I am reminded of just what I respect Joe Gibbs so much--as a coach and a person. See, for Gibbs it's all about responsiblity. He doesn't say--gee, we can't say now what happened, we should go and look at the film and we'll get back to you. Or blame a communication problem such as happened last week on a certain coaching staff I could name. Nope, the man steps up, says "We blew it and the blame starts with me." As a Redskins fan, it makes the losing a bit more bearable for me. To at least now that the coaching staff doesn't have its head in the sand or is singing a few choruses of "La, la, la..nothing wrong here."

And in a lot of ways, it points out a difference to me between the Skins staff and the UT staff. All season, the Vols have underperformed. And there's a lot of finger-pointing and blaming going on right now. I'm pretty darn guilty of it myself and I think we all know who my favorite target to blame is. But yet, I think the thing that has frustrated me most is that no one on the team or the staff has said, "We ain't getting it done. It's my fault and the team's fault for allowing this to hapen."

Would it make it OK to squander this much potential? No.

But would it stop the firestorm that is going on right now and will lead to Randy Sanders stepping down later today? Maybe.

I guess as a UT fan, I want to feel as if the coaching staff and the team knows that this problem is there and that we're all frustrated by it. And they are as frurstrated as we, the fans are. And that they're gonna take some responsibility and try to do something about it. Instead of the revolving door at QB and the hope that maybe the offense might just figure it out this week, if we'd had somone say--we are not doing well and we're going to do what it takes to try and get better, I think I'd be less down on the Vols than I am right now. It doesn't make it any less a bitter pill--it just makes it easier to swallow.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 10/31/2005 02:02:00 PM | |

Halloween: How Will You Celebrate?
All I heard about for weeks leading up to Halloween was how a lot of people at work all got dressed up on the big day and there was a costume contest. So, figuring to show I'm a team player, I decided I'd go with a costume for Halloween. But since I'm also frugal (aka cheap), I wanted to go with something that wouldn't cost an arm and a leg. After much thought, I came down to two ideas--a cowboy or a solider. Both would be easy as I had the components for each easily accessible or easily borrowed from family members.

So, I decided to go with the solider theme. I borrowed my dad's old fatigues from his Air Force days, which turned out pretty cool since it's got a name patch with my last name on it, sewn right on there.
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I didn't figured I'd win the contest, but again, the idea was to have fun and get in the spirit of things. Plus, let's face it--a day without having to wear a tie is a good thing.

Now, based on what everyone had described and the photos I've seen of previous years, I was expecting ewe'd have more than four people dressed up in costume. And funnily enough--another woman dressed up in fatiques as well. And one guy wore his costume long enough to have his picture made for the contest and then got out of it. I'm telling you--this whole Halloween at work thing was made out to be a lot more exciting than it turned out to be.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 10/31/2005 11:29:00 AM | |

Some good news in Big Orange country
Congratulations to Tennessee's Lauryn McCalley. McCalley was named the 2005 NCAA Woman of the Year on Saturday. McCalley is a diver for the Vols and hopes to complete in the 2008 Olympics.

Even though this football season has been a disappointment, it's nice to hear some positive news about UT athletics. Congrats to McCalley and I hope we see you representing the U.S. in 2008!

posted by Michael Hickerson at 10/31/2005 09:16:00 AM | |

Happy Halloween!
Your Haloween Costume Should Be

An Alien


posted by Michael Hickerson at 10/31/2005 08:28:00 AM | |
Sunday, October 30, 2005
I'm Just Like You, But I Have A Podcast Episode 10
See, this is what happens when you record a podcast late at night after your team loses in a heartbreaking fashion and you're still kind of bitter about it....you lose the ability to count!

So, here we go with episode 10 of I'm Just Like You, But I Have A Podcast.

This time around, I actually put five minutes of thought into the thing before I sat down to record it. Not sure if you can tell or not....

In this week's installment: (Click on this one to download it directly)
  • Happy Halloween wishes
  • Wow! I actually planned out some segments!
  • Book Review: By Blood Written
  • Movie Review: Impostor
Enjoy! Comments, suggestions, constructive criticism and all sarcastic comments welcomed!

posted by Michael Hickerson at 10/30/2005 08:05:00 AM | |
Saturday, October 29, 2005
This must be some cosmic joke...
The loss to an inferior, podunct, wannabe SEC team like South Carolina tonight is unacceptable. Tennessee should NEVER lose to the Gamecocks in football for any reason EVER.

Alas, it was like the nightmare of 92 only in our stadium...our home field...our turf! How dare Tennessee let South Carolina come in and beat us! How dare this coaching staff allow a team with so much talent and potential to squander it all and make me wonder--will we even make a bowl game? How dare a team that started in the top five now drop out of the top 25 with this embarassment of a loss! This is unacceptable.

Phil Fulmer--remember how you got this job. Johnny Majors had a team with talent and potential that was squandered and he left the door open for you. Now, 13 years later, you have begun to emulate the mistakes that cost Majors his job. I am no yet calling for your head but I do call for some firing or reorganizing be done--namely Randy Sanders. And I also must say we need to maybe just maybe emphasize in drills in practice how to hold onto the ball inside the ten and get a damn touchdown for a change instead of turning it over and losing the damn game.

I am sure some of you will say I'm angry and upset in the wake of a loss. Well, I am. But I've stood by this team and I will do so. But there are some huge things wrong here and someone is going to have to be fired. My vote is for Randy Sanders. Sooner rather than later.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 10/29/2005 10:33:00 PM | |

UT vs USC
Back in 1992, I remember UT rolling into Columbia with a season on the line and desparately in need of a win...and that horrible Halloween afternoon, Steve Tannyhill played the game of his life and South Carolina pulled an upset, defeating the Vols. And basically, opening the door for Johnny Majors to leave as our head coach.

Tonight, South Carolina comes to Neyland Stadium. It's a season that started with great hopes and now, well, the Vols need a win in the worst possible way. And this time, instead of Steve Tan-My-Hill, we've got the most-hated man in coaching, Steve Spurrier coming in to town.

I have to admit I'm nervous about this game. After the loss to Bama and with Notre Dame coming up next week, I wonder if the Vols will be focused on this game. Or will they figure--hey we've beat them for the past 12 years, so why should we concern ourselves with them now? I mean, Vegas seems to think that we can win by two touchdowns...but based on the team I've seen offensively the past few weeks, I wonder where these 14 points will come from.

So, I'm worried...Spurrier, overlooking a team and must win for our team. It could make for an ugly combination.

Please don't think I'm against my beloved Vols. But I see it coming down to a hard-fought game and I think SC is going to play out of their minds for three quarters and we'll put it away late.

I'd love to see UT blow them out...but this is Spurrier and I'm not sure that will happen. I predict UT 28, USC 20.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 10/29/2005 02:54:00 PM | |
Friday, October 28, 2005
Does it really matter that much?
As a Star Trek fan, I took an interest in the story that broke earlier today about George Takai who played Sulu on the original series, coming out of the closet. It seems as if it's been a busy week for people going public their sexual orientation or at least there being rampant speculation about it in the popular media. We had Sheryl Swoops of the WNBA come out and there was the tempest in a teapot earlier this week as to whether or not Shepard Smith and/or Anderson Cooper might be coming out of the closet.

And as I hear the stories about this, I have to wonder--does it really, honestly, matter that much?

Will I enjoy Star Trek more or less now knowing the guy who played Sulu is gay? Will it affect Swoops' basketball game that she's come out of the closet? And will the ability of Cooper or Smith to gather and report the news really be changed that much if we should find out they're gay?

To me, the answer is--not really. I mean, we're not talkin like any of these three men is Mr. Garrison from South Park, for heaven's sake! And while I respect and applaud Swoops and Takei for having the courage to come out publically about this, I still think it's an incredibly private issue.

But why is it that we can get so obsessed with this kind of stuff? Why do we care so much about the private lives of celebrities so doggone much? When I watch TV, there must be at least 1700 shows that dig into the private lives of celebs on daily, not to mention an entire TV network that is devoted to little more than gossping about the stars. And that hasn't even scratched the surface of the zillions of trees that die each year to print magazine and tabloids about this subject (I mean, unless we're talking about Bat-boy creatures featured in the Weekly World News..that is journalism at its best!) I mean, do I really care that much about seeing that photo of Britney's baby or whether Jessica and Nick are speaking or who Jennifer Aniston is dating these days? Nah, not really. But yet, there must be a lot of people who are fascinated by this and can't get enough of it--because, quite frankly, this niche of the media seems to show no signs of slowing down.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 10/28/2005 07:43:00 PM | |

Blogger Get-Togther
Last evening, the Nashville blogging community turned out for a pizza feast at Mafioaza's to honor the year-long reign of Rex Hammock of Nashville's Best Blogger for 2004. The festivities were coordinated by Mr. Roboto and WKRN even sprung for some drinks for all of us crazy bloggers that showed up. (Nothing ensures that computer people will turn out like free pizza and alcohol).

I'd attended the Nashville blogger's luncheon a few weeks ago and I was at the special bloggers only unless you won tickets in a radio contest or just happened to come by screening for Serenity a few weeks back, so I saw a lot of familiar faces there such as Pink Kitty, Dana and Brittney. I also met some other local bloggers in person for the first time, including the world-famous Busy Mom and Blake. In an ironic twist of fate, Blake came up to make sure I knew UT had lost to Alabama and he was wearing orange while I was not. And let me also say that for the first time in attending a public blogging event, I threw caution to the wind and did not wear anything orange.

I got to talk to a lot of local bloggers and their guests (Mr Roboto told me that he'd invited some single women bloggers to the event and I did speak to one of them briefly, but I don't think I made that huge of an impression on her. I guess my undying love of UT and the Doctor Who obsession isn't quite as much of a turn-on to the fairer sex as I'd hoped...). There is even photographic evidence the event occured over here.

It was a great time and I've heard rumblings that there might be a Christmas party in the works for December. I'm making my plans now to attend, unless it happens to fall on the same day as ye olde office holiday party gala shin-dig event. I'd encourage those of you who are out there in the Nashville blogging community to keep the eyes and ears open for the next event and, if you can, make plans to come out. It's interetsing to put faces with blogs and see what people are like outside of the blogsphere. I also heard from talking to John at Salem's Lot that another blogger luncheon is coming soon--possibly December.

So, two good opportunities to get out from behind the computer, get out there and meet some new friends.

Thanks to everyone who organized the event and to those who paid for our food and drinks. It is much appreciated by me.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 10/28/2005 10:18:00 AM | |
Thursday, October 27, 2005
My blog is worth more than your blog...
Big tip of the hat to Just Another Pretty Farce for this....


My blog is worth $72,825.66.
How much is your blog worth?




posted by Michael Hickerson at 10/27/2005 09:02:00 AM | |

TV Round-Up
After a long, frustrating day yesterday, I took out my frustration on the swimming pool and excercise bike in power cycling....and let me just say after that was all over, I felt much better. Physically drained, but much better.

Which made it a joy to go home, eat some dinner and then veg out watching the latest installment of the greatness that is Veronica Mars. I'll get to this week's thoughts on what's up with Ms. Mars i in a moment, but first, I have to comment on something.

After Veronica Mars was over, I flipped over to Comedy Central to check out this week's new South Park. During one of the commerical breaks, there was a commercial for a Christmas-themed CD that featured some guy pretending to be Sadaam Hussain and singing his own carols. The commercial kept repeating this was a great gag gift for the holiday season or to send to an enemy which made me wonder--is this thing for real? I mean, it seems so absurd and over the top that it can't be real, right? But then I also remember that Andy Griffith sold himself singing gospel-song CDs and tapes on television, so really anything is possible.

If anyone can fill me in, I'd appreciate it.

Now, onto Veronica Mars...

Veronica Mars: Blast From the Past
Since Lost was a repeat last night (from an episode that aired--what--a month ago?!?) I'm hoping that some of the Lost crowd tuned over to Veronica Mars and saw why this show is so great. (Oh, who am I kidding...the Lost crowd was watching the episode to break it down for details and to see the logo on the shark fin if they missed it the first time!)

I do have to wonder--if you'd just tuned in to Veronica Mars, would you be able to get up to speed on what's going on and the character dynamics easily? For this episode, I'm not sure you could necessarily do that because a whole lot is going on here.

If last week was bringing things this season to a slow simmer, this is where they begin to boil. It picks up right where last week left off with Wallace confronting his mother about the man who claims to be his father. And it never lets up from there.

If anything, this one is about the consequences of the choices various characters have made over the course of the show and how doing what you think is the right thing can come back to bite you if you're not careful.

We see it start out with Keith, who when the episode starts has a 12-point lead on Lamb in the sheriff's race. But in debate, Lamb pulls out that as a patrol-man, Keith allowed the bus driver to be followed home after being pulled over for DUI. Had Keith made a report, bus driver never gets hired and kids live...supposedly. Well, as the episode goes along, Veronica finds a student who has a message from the last moments of the bus saved in her cell phone. Hearing it, we hear explosions before the bus plunges (and let me add, damn that moment was unnerving...hearing that message..wow!). Veronica takes it to Keith to use as a weapon to win the sheriff's race and Keith refuses to do that. He wants to see the killer(s) brought to justice and so doesn't run to the media or use it to shock Lamb. Instead, he takes the message to Lamb and offers it to him...but Lamb acts like an ass, since the information comes from Keith. Makes me wonder if Keith will have to go public with this information or if he'll lost and he and Veronica will investigate this case when Lamb lets it slide. (Cause let's face it, Lamb ain't all on the up and up).

We also see that Keith follows his insticts last week in investigating Alicia and Wallace and who the mystery man is. Keith goes into Alicia's and takes Wallace's birth certificate and some other papers, which leads to a confrontation. I love how in the scene where Alicia confronts Keith on this, he offers no apologies or explanations. He just hands over the file to Alicia.

Meanwhile, Veronica is trying to do the right thing as well. She tries to help Jackie out of a jam, not knowing she's being set-up to look like a fool on local access cable. Veronica has deduced that Jackie is only in things for what Jackie can get and we see her ability to be two-faced at numerous occasions. (Such as when Jackie and Logan mock Veronica). Veronica is looking out for Wallace, who she wants to not see have his heart stomped on by this girl who is self-absorbed at best. Even after being humilated by Jackie, Veronica puts aside her wanting to get back at Jackie for Wallace's sake. She lets her own little retribution go but her anger boils over when she sees Jackie with Logan at the dance (she doesn't know that Wallace broke his date with Jackie over Jackie's treatment of Veronica). Wallace sees it and thinks Veronica is having her revenge and he leaves town with his biological father.

And then, we have Veronica trying to help Keith. She sends a paperweight to his office under the Kane Compnay letterhead which a listening device. And finds out just what kind of dirty dealings Lamb is up to. Interesting that Keith comes in and takes the device when Lamb isn't looking, having seen it earlier in Veronica's room. I will give you that this is highly illegal and wrong of Veronica to do, but in her mind, she realizes she has to fight fire with fire for her dad to win the sheriff's race. And she is only doing what she's done to protect somoene she loves. But as with Wallace, her motivation of wanting to help someone she cares about has backfired. Or she's gone about it in such a way that is not going to actually make the situation better but make it worse.

So many complex stories and so much going on in an episode..and yet it all still works. I never felt as if this was rushed or one plotline was getting the short end of the stick. My only regret was as the hour faded to black that feeling of "But I want more NOW!" and realizing we had to wait two weeks for the story to continue.

Again, if you're not watching Veronica Mars, get the DVDs and then catch up on the premiere of season two next week. Trust me--this one is worth it.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 10/27/2005 08:24:00 AM | |
Wednesday, October 26, 2005
Frustration
It's a good thing I'm already signed up for spinning this afternoon...I can tell I'm gonna have a LOT of stuff to work out on the indoor-cycle this afternoon.

It started with traffic, which was unbearable. I do hope and pray that those involved in the injury accident that bottled up the interstate and made a normal 30 to 40 minute drive to work morph into an hour and a half are OK and hopefully the only thing seriously damaged was the cars. You know, it's funny--as you sit there in traffic, you wish that people would just not give into the basic human instinct to stare and rubberneck at wreck on the Interstate...and then you actually realize what you want is for everyone else but YOU to ignore this instinct.

So, I finally get to work only to have people pinging me left and right. One guy needs a letter scanned and sent to him at his e-mail address. Funny thing is (not funny "ha-ha" but funny ironic) is that this is a person who I've had to go to for help on numerous occasions and he's always been "too busy" to help me. Now that the shoe is on the other foot, he's about to wet his pants to have this letter scanned and e-mailed to him. Which I'm happy to do...but you gotta give me a valid e-mail address to send it to, buddy.

Then, people want files burned to a CD and think I should give up some of my personal supply of CD-Roms for them...we have some that are for the office and are under lock and key under the person in charge of supplies gets in to work. Now, if it was one or two CDs, I'd be happy burn them and just take from the office supply later to replace them...but it's 10 or 20 copies and they want them in five minutes. Which I hate to tell them, ain't gonna happen that quickly nor do I have that many writeable CDs of my own personal stash.

I keep telling myself--the day is only going to get better..the day is only going to get better...

posted by Michael Hickerson at 10/26/2005 08:59:00 AM | |
Tuesday, October 25, 2005
Which (new) BSG character am I?
You scored as Capt. Lee Adama (Apollo). You have spent your life trying to life up to and impress your Dad, shame he never seemed to notice. You are a stickler for the rules. But in matters of loyalty and honour you know when they have to be broken.

Capt. Lee Adama (Apollo)


88%

Lt. Sharon Valerii (Boomer)


63%

CPO Galen Tyrol


56%

Lt. Kara Thrace (Starbuck)


56%

Dr Gaius Baltar


50%

Col. Saul Tigh


50%

President Laura Roslin


44%

Commander William Adama


31%

Number 6


31%

Tom Zarek


19%

What New Battlestar Galactica character are you?
created with QuizFarm.com


posted by Michael Hickerson at 10/25/2005 09:44:00 AM | |

TV Round-Up
Smallville: Aqua
Good start and finish to this week's Smallville, but the middle parts--yeah, not so much.

Let's look at what was good--Professor Milton Fine. I have to admit, it was a bit strange to hear James Marsters sans the Spike accent and to see him without the bleach-blonde hair. But the same depth of acting ability he showed on Buffy and Angel showed up here in spades. Marsters was fantastic, even though his scenes were limited to the opening and closing of the story. Interesting that Fine has some type of axe to grind with Lex and how influenced by what Fine said Clark is. Of course, it's helped by the fact that over the course of the episode, we see that Lex is being manipulative and secretive, all of which I enjoyed seeing.

But the middle parts--namely any scenes with AquaMan were just roundly OK. Growing up in Hawaii and watching SuperFriends, I remember thinking how cool it was that AquaMan could swim around in the ocean with his eyes open and not have it sting or hurt. Also, the whole calling schools of fish to help him out seemed like a pretty cool power at the time (I was five.) But as the years have gone on, I've become more fascinated with other superheroes and never really thought that much about AquaMan since. And then he shows up in Smallville and...well, I honestly wished he'd stayed around a bit longer. It seemed as if we were trying to cram a lot of background story and plot into just one episode here. A.C. (as he prefers to be called) is here to stop Lex Luthor from marketing a weapon that will get the U.S. naval superiority but kills all ocean life around it, even when it's not in use. He gets Clark to help him take extreme measures to stop Lex--destroying the device during the test before Pentagon officials--and he gets to put the moves on Lois Lane, who he resuces in before the opening credits. (On a side note, what is it with me and watching stuff where people conk their head underwater this week?)

Of course, at first, Clark mistrusts the guy and then slowly he sees that A.C. ain't all that bad and ends up helping them. The two do have a pretty good underwater battle about halfway through the episode that helps keep things going.

It's interesting to watch the portrayal of everyone here, though I think Lex as a character got a bit one-note. We see that Lex is determined to continue the project no matter what the consequences. Honestly, I was hoping we'd see a few more shades of gray to Lex than we got here. One of the things I've enjoyed about Smallville is seeing how Lex becomes the ultimate nemesis for Superman--and that he's got some motivation for how and what he becomes later. I think having Lex almost be the Simon Legree-type villian here where he's going forward and damn the consequences just didn't work as well--except to push Clark into the camp of wanting to help Fine uncover the truth about LutherCorp. Honestly, the plotline of the obsessed company billionaire leader who goes forward and damn the consequences seemed a bit more suited for Lionel (who is conspicous in his absense) than it does Lex.

But hey, in a sesaon that's delivered three strong episodes in a row, a bump in the road is acceptable. Let's just hope it's that--a bump in the road (seeing the preview for next week, I am really feeling wary of what's to come...)

Veronica Mars: Green-Eyed Monster
What you have to love about Veronica Mars is that in even in what amounts to little more than a standard mystery of the week plotline, that the show finds a way to move the main plotlines of the season forward just a bit.

Veronica takes a case of looking into the background of a woman's potential fiance and finds out he's as too-good-to-be-true as advertised. The problem is--she can't accept this, getting package after package of detective work done, trying desparately to find something wrong with her boyfriend. In a lot of ways, it's a classic Seinfeld thing--trying to find some reason to dump or break-up with the seemingly perfect person...whether it's man-hands, close-talking or wanting to make sure that you love him for him and not him for his money.

Meanwhile, elsewhere in Neptune the pot continues to simmer and may soon reach a boil. Keith is told by Alicia that an old boyfriend has shown up and is stalking her. Keith catches him at her house and takes photos of him. Keith believes Alicia, turning the guy into the police only to find out he's a Chicago cop who has followed Alicia there. And in the end, we find out he's Wallace's father (which I saw coming a mile away). But the question is--why did Alicia lie about him and did she take Wallace and disappear from the father? Is so, why? And how will Keith react? I mean, he didn't take well to the constant lying and betrayal by Veronica's mom, so I can imagine this is not going to help things here.

Elsewhere, Weevil comes to Veronica about the night of Logan's party and losing an ear ring. We get some more possible explanation of who might be behind the bus crash...or at least a few more red herrings for the show to pursue in the quest for the truth. And I will call it now--I do not expect Weevil to make it season's end alive.

And then, Veronica finds out that Duncan has been trying to visit Meg every day and her family aint' letting her. It ends up with Veronica getting Meg's secret files on her HD but not looking at them...at least yet. We all know these files will come up again. It also makes us wonder--why does Duncan want to visit Meg and how much time is he spending there?

Man, this show is good. Seriously, if you've not watched, go get the season one DVD, TiVo or tape the eps of season two and get caught up. As we got the end this week, I thought--no, that can't be it...surely there must be more. Because I was enjoying it that much. Unlike another hit show that aired opposite it last week and didn't really grab my attention...

I'm not gonna name any names here....but I think you know what I'm talking about.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 10/25/2005 09:09:00 AM | |
Monday, October 24, 2005
Saved!
The senior high Sunday School class I co-teach finished up our controversial study of The Gospel According to The Simpsons a few weeks ago. We've moved on to a different curriculum now, one that is focusing on who we are as United Methodists--our similiaries with other denominations and maybe just how we're a bit different.

One of the books we're using in the study is called How to Be Methodist in the Bible Belt.

We're about three weeks into the study (OK, two really since I got back late from the UT vs Georgia game and didn't have time to whip up a lesson, so we did Bible trivia) and while I can tell they're not quite as psyched about this study as they were about watching an episode of The Simpsons and then discussing a Biblical principle behind it, I think we had a pretty good discussion last week and yesterday. We were taking a moment to study what the Methodist church believes about salvation.

Now, I'm not a United Methodist minister. Nor am I an expert in the field. (Nor do I play one on TV) Nor do I have the book or my notes in front of me as I type this. So if I get something horribly wrong, blame my faulty memory and not the Methodist church.

The Methodist church has what I'd define as a big picture view of Scripture and your relationship with Jesus Christ. It seems, to me, to be more about loving the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength and loving your neighbor as yourself, rather than coming up with a luandry list of rules and regulations on just how you can and can't be a Christian. Basically, it comes down to the basic principle of "love the sinner, not the sin." In the Methodist church, we accept that salvation can be this "lights and alarms go off" type of moment that many people seem to have, but also that it can be a gradual thing, taking place over the course of a lifetime and not have one defining moment where you feel like your whole life changed.

The analogy the book used (and which I tried to explain to the kids) was that the it's like a house. Salvation is the porch that gets you to the house. You go through the door which is faith and you live in the house, which is your relationship with Jesus Christ. Getting to the porch is important, but it's not the be all, end all goal. It's a step in the overall life time journey. And it's one way that we differ from other groups and denominations. The Methodist church, as I understand it, subscribes to the one saved, always save theory...you can't necessarily backslide and "lose" your salvation as it were.

It was interesting to talk about this after I'd just watched the satire Saved! the night before. For those of you who haven't seen it, it's an interesting little film. In the movie, we meet Mary, a high-school senior at a Christian school who seems to have it all--friends, boyfriend, grades, etc. But a series of events slowly undermine her comfort zone. Her boyfriend announces he's gay. Mary thinks she sees Jesus in a swimming pool when she almost drowns and thinks Jesus told her to sleep with her boyfriend in order to save him. They do, but he's sent off to be de-gayed by his parents and Mary ends up pregnant.

Mary's "best friend" Hilary Faye is extremely religious. She seems to do and say all the right things on the outside--including learning how to shoot a gun in case she needs to protect her virginity that way--but overall, you'd be hard pressed to call her a loving Christian. Hillary Faye uses her Christianity as a weapon to judge others and feel better about herself. It's not about God, it's all about Hillary Faye. In the course of the film, we find out that Hillary Faye is obsessed with "saving" Cassandra, a Jewish girl taking classes at the Christian school.

Interestingly enough, as Mary's dilemma gets greaters and her faith is tested, it's Hillary Faye who cuts her off, while the outcasts of Cassandra and Hillary Faye's brother, Roland, are the ones who love, accept and offer friendship to Mary when she needs it most. (At one point, Cassandra sits through Hillary Faye's "saving ritual" so Mary can have some time to talk with the cute minister's son who has taken a shine to her).

I brought up the movie in class--pointing out how Hillary Faye said and did all the right things to look saved and was obsessed with others salvation so she could feel good about saving another soul and was missing something. She had no personal walk and she judged herself by others around her. Hillary feels that becuase she's been good, God should smile upon her and make her way easier. In a lot of ways, this is the big misconception of Christianity. If anyone tells you that by becoming a Christian, life is gonna be a bed of roses and a cake walk all the time, they are lying. It's not easier--it's just we have our relationship with God during both good and bad times to help us get through them all.

Now, I didn't point out any particular denominations that seem to be full of Hillary Fayes. Honestly, I think every denomination has our own Hillary Faye in it....some just have more than others. But it was interesting in talking about this topic, that a movie that is secular would generate some discussion. Now, only one person besides myself had seen it, but the others in the class said they'd think about checking it out (esp. the guys after finding out Mandy Moore is in it) sometime. Now, I know the movie was somewhat "controversial" in that it's a satire of Christian life in some ways and it pokes fun at certain things about organized religion. So, I have a strange feeling I'll be called to task for bringing up this PG-13 movie in class and encouraging young adults 13 and older to watch it with an open mind and think about what it's really trying to say about some real issues and ideas. And there may be some parents who'd object at one point where Mary stands before a cross etched on a church and curses at it. But, if you understand why she does it and the context, it makes sense. Not that I'm saying we should run out and do it, but it does have a reasoning behind in terms of the character arc of the story.

I also made sure to point out that it Hillary Faye didn't have a bad idea--salvation is important. But it's if you use your personal salvation as a weapon or the Bible as a weapon (which is done literally...at one point Hillary Faye throws the Bible at Mary), it can turn a good thing into a negative one.

Which it's interesting--who'd've figured a movie with Mandy Mooore would be this "deep"?

If you've not seen it, I recommend giving it a try.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 10/24/2005 02:54:00 PM | |

Of course
So, I make a plea for comments about the Dish and what happens--looks like the ability to comment via HaloScan is having some issues.

So, if you have any wisdom on the Dish or just want to say something to me, drop me a line at bigorangemichael at gmail dot com.

UPDATE: Not sure what the deal is with the HaloScan commenting, so I've enabled blogger commenting for now. It's the first choice for commenting.

UPDATE AGAIN: Thanks to Barry for letting me know about a work-around to get the HaloScan comments back up and running.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 10/24/2005 10:45:00 AM | |
Sunday, October 23, 2005
A Question
A couple of weeks ago, I posted about my 91 year old grandfather's medical woes and asked the blogging community for thoughts and prayers for him.

The good news is--next weekend, he'll be coming closer to all of us here in Nashville. He's coming to live in an assisted living center that is about 10 minutes or less from the immediate family here in Smyrna. So we're all excited about it because it means we can see him more often and I intend to go over and sleep through some football and baseball games with him. I think we'll both enjoy it--esp. as about the only good thing a Titans' game is good for this year is napping through.

Anyway, the retirement community he's moving into doesn't have cable but has a Dish. So, my mom asked me to research the Dish Network and see what he needs in order to get going. Now, looking at the web site and doing some homework, it seems as if since the retirement community has the Dish and a service plan, that all he'd need is the decoder box to go on his TV. But, I'm not sure. I've never had the Dish so I know next to nothing about it--other than it looks pretty cool. So, I figured I'd throw open the question to my fellow bloggers because you might have the Dish or know someone who does. If you could drop me a line either in the comments or an e-mail and let me know what we need to get him up and running, I'd appreciate it.

Thanks in advance!

posted by Michael Hickerson at 10/23/2005 07:14:00 PM | |

Well, it's official...
The Tennessee Titans are one of the worst teams in the NFL. Sure, we're better than the Texans who we soundly beat a couple of weeks ago, but then again Kentucky could beat the Texans right now. So, that win isn't really a gauge of how good or bad we are in my mind. Also, our other win this year was against the Ravens, who it looks as if we really got up to play...I'm beginning to wonder if we used up all our emotion, heart and resolve in that game because I ain't seeing it anymore.

It's so bad that it's almost script-like. Titans come out, do fairly well in the first quarter--sustain drives, put up points and then..the second quarter starts and it's like there's a completely different team out there on the field. Today's game against the lowly, pathetic Arizona Cardinals was a prime example. (On a related note: We couldn't be the freakin' Cardinals! Their one win before now was against the 49ers who, let's face it, the Riverdale football team could beat right now!) We looked good in the first quarter, driving, making plays, Billy Volek stepping in nicely for Steve McNair...and then the second quarter starts and the Titans look like it's suddenly pre-season again. And this is not exactly a new thing--this seems to be happening in EVERY GAME THIS YEAR! I'm not sure what's going on--our defense plays well enough and tries to give the offense opportunities, which they bungle and drop or cough up the ball. And today, we turned into the walking wounded with players seeming to drop like flies.

All I know is that today's game felt like the first quarter took five minutes and the last three felt like I was slowly having a painful, extreme root canal done for six to eight hours. I did get my wish from last week to see if Billy Volek could do better than Steve McNair and, if anything, this should show you why I'm here, sitting at my computer and playing airchair QB on my Madden NFL game and Jeff Fisher and company are out there earning the big bucks. Cause apparently starting Volek didn't help things--though early on it seemed as if it would. And I have to say it--Travis Henry, I love ya man, but your stupidity in violating the NFL's substance abuse policy has not endeared you to me as a Titan. We needed you today--esp. with Chris Brown down and out. Jarrod Petyon is a good story but it was night and day between Peyton and Brown running the ball. We desparately needed Henry today and yet, he's unavailable. Doesn't his suspension end soon? I think it's either next week or the week after.

Not that it seems to matter...cause our offense is looking anemic. Watching the game, there were times when we seemed listless and uninterested. Someone on this team has to step up, take a leadership role and get this ball rolling...or else an already long year is going to turn into a long couple of years. I know we're a rebuilding mode, but I honestly expected to see better results and signs of improvement coming. So far, I have to say this--last year's offense lost a lot of games, but at least it was more entertaining and fun to watch. This year's Norm Chow experiment is not going well. Not well at all.

In positive news--my beloved Redskins finally found a whipping boy and generated a million yards on offense, spanking the hapless 49ers 52-17. It's great to see the offense catch fire--but I sure hope we saved some points for the next couple of weeks as we start to face division foes such as the Giants and Eagles. I have to admit that a big part of me is happy to see the NFC East back to its glory days of being one of the best divisions in the NFL.

Oh and the Cowboys lost...so that's good news too!

posted by Michael Hickerson at 10/23/2005 06:59:00 PM | |
Saturday, October 22, 2005
D*****t!!!!
If you're a Bama fan, today's UT vs Alabama contest is one that you'd have to consider an instant classic.

As a UT fan, I don't consider it a classic. More a case of so many missed opportunities that it was painful and heartbreaking to watch us lose 6-3. The offense squandered two opportunities in the red zone including fumbling out of the back of the end zone, driving for the sure go-ahead touchdown with just under five minutes left to go. Ironically, I'd told my family that the game would be one of those stinking 6-3 heartbreakers as the second half began...and alas, I was proved correct. If I were our defense, I'd be pretty upset with the offense. Our defense went above and beyond yet again and the offense...well, we couldn't get out of our own way fast enough.

And I'm sick to death of the CBS love-in for every other team that's not UT. Did we need to see Todd Blackledge's damn cover on Sports Illustrated from years ago? No, it was totally unnecessary. Blackledge keeps trying to be some kind of personality but he's just not suited for it. And I swear, I thought they loved Chris Leak, but apprently Todd's been cheating with his new mostest-favorite player EVER, Brody Croyle. The love fest for any team that isn't Tennessee just makes me want to drive down to Tuscaloosa and smack the CBS crew.

I mean, I'll give you that the JP crew games take eight hours to play, but at least they try to have a shred of objectivity in calling the game. Maybe CBS and ESPN might wanna give that a try....oh wait, they do. For anyone who's not Tennessee.

The only thing I can take any comfort in is that we could still get a bid to the Music City Bowl and I'd get to go to the bowl game....

But that's hollow consolation right now.

Also, I hate to say--but unless the annointed chosen two of USC or Texas loses, Bama could be the Auburn of this year--playing in the superior league and getting screwed by the polls and the BCS crap because USC and Texas play inferior schedules and in inferior conferences but were annoited by the media early as the two best teams in America. Sorry, but nothing I've seen from either team shows me they could go .500 in a real conference like the SEC.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 10/22/2005 07:06:00 PM | |

It's the Fourth Saturday in October!!!
It's Tennessee vs Alabama today in Tuscaloosa. Without a doubt, this is the best rivallry in college football. As a Tennessee fan, there is nothing more satisfying that a victory against the Crimson Tide. Yes, Florida and Georgia are both big rivals and wins against them will set up things for a great season should we win--but there's just something specials about Tennessee vs Bama to me.

I was at the game in 1995 when Tennessee broke the long winless streak to Bama. I remember being in the end zone, telling Peyton to throw it someone and then have them run a long way for the first play--end the suspense early. Imagine my shock, surprise and delight when just that happened. And we never looked back--throttling Bama and taking out ten years of frustration upon them.

Today, the stakes are high for Bama--they beat us, they have a good chance to go undefeated and contend for an SEC and national title. On the other hand, Tennesse is a road underdog with our backs to the wall. Win this one and some of the bad feeling about this season might be momentarily forgotten. And let's face it--we need some confidence since next week Steve Spurrier returns to Knoxville and we need to be ready for him. He just has our number, even if he is playing with a vastly inferior South Carolina team. I want no repeats of the Halloween from the '92 season...ugh, I'm getting sick just thinking about it.

But back to today. Tennessee is great on the road, we're nine of the last ten against Bama and we need a big win. There is a lot of bad blood in this rivallry of late thanks to some idiot Bama boosters and call-in hosts who can't see--oh yeah, we were cheating and got caught! and instead blame Fulmer for their problems. It's gonna be a great game and while I'd love to see a UT blowout, I'd going to predict at UT win 21-17.

And another reason we need to win--in his lifetime, Davis has never known UT to lose to Alabama. He's going to find out the world is a big, harsh place at some point...but I don't think it should start now.

GO BIG ORANGE!!!!!!!!!!


posted by Michael Hickerson at 10/22/2005 09:55:00 AM | |
Friday, October 21, 2005
"Common Courtesy": Is there such a thing anymore?
Wednesday, I related my experience at Sonic this week with the waitress who felt entitled to a tip and held out her hand to let me know I could give her one. Interestingly enough, I followed up the research on this last night by stopping at a different Sonic, closer to home for some ice cream and the waitress there brought out my ice cream, made my change and was set to head back inside, all without demanding a tip. In fact, she was genuinely surprised when I said, "Excuse me," as she turned away and gave her a tip.

She also thanked me for the tip and we both went about our separate lives--me home to have ice cream and unpack groceries (golly what fun) and her to continue delivering wonderfully good but incredibly bad for you food to the fast-food eating public.

But, I digress.

In considering the events of earlier this week, a thought has been lurking in my brain. (Well, in between thoughts of just how in the name of all that is good can UT beat Alabama tomorrow....)

It has to do with "common courtesy."

Now, I'm pretty sure most of you have heard by now that a new study came out last week that finds that most Americans percieve their fellow Americans as getting ruder. This, of course, prompted all kinds of hilarious asides from various radio and TV personalities like "Oh really? Who asked you?" etc. I don't think we're exactly delving new ground here to say that manners and common courtesy are on a decline. I've sort of been noticing this for years now. Again, I blame the proliferation of cell phones for this, simply because it seems as if when people put a cell phone up to their ear, their ability to perceive that there is anyone in the world outside themselves drops noticeably. I think I've commented in my blog on a couple of occasions about those people at the Y who seems to think that getting on the machine and shouting into a cell phone over the machine you're using is somehow endearing them to everyone around them. Again, cell phones were a status symbol 10 years ago...today, not so much. Indeed, I really feel kind of left out because I only have one cell phone--guess I'm not really all that important.

The other day, I was in the library and I saw a sign as I was browsing the books. It basically said--if you're going to talk on your phone, please go to a designated area, away from where people might be trying to concentrate. Now, to me, this just seems like common sense. I mean, you're at the library, a place that is generally hushed, reserved and quiet. In fact, I've even gone so far as to turn my phone onto vibrate at the library so as not to disturb my fellow patrons or those who might be studying. But I will say this--I have noticed at some libraries where they don't have these signs, it can be like a circus sometimes. Especially around the computers with access to the Internet. Before I got DSL at home, I would often stop by the library to use the high-speed access and nine times out of ten, I'd get to sit down next to someone whose phone would ring and then they'd sit there and talk in the loudest voice possible about...well, whatever it was. I honestly tried to not eavesdrop as I wanted to have some semblance of courtesy but it's hard to do when they're yelling right next to you.

I guess I'm weird becuase I am aware that I'm not the only person inhabiting this planet and, contrary to my belief most days, the world doesn't necessarily revolve around me (except on Jan 19th each year when it's my b'day and by golly, it's all about me!).

It's almost to the point now that you could get easily frustrated trying to show courtesy to your fellow human beings. I'm a lap swimmer and nine times out of ten, I'd prefer to have a lane to myself. Ask most lap swimmers and they'd probably agree. But I understand that a lot of times when I'm able to swim laps is at peak times for lap lane usage and that sharing laps is just part of the deal. If I'm swimming laps and I see someone come in, I will generally ask if they'd like to share my lane and make sure we agree on how the lane will be shared--I prefer splitting it down the middle, each person to his/her side to avoid having to figure out how to pass or if one swimmer is stronger than the other. And, honestly, I swim about the same time every day, so there is a set group of people you see on a regular basis (since I swim without my glasses, I tend to identify them by appearance and the type of bathing suit they tend to wear). And I guess maybe it's me or maybe I'm expecting too much, but I sometimes get irritated when people I've shared a lane with on numerous occasions will ignore me when I am standing there, waiting for a a lane. Or worse yet--if they do stop and you ask if you can share, they say no and keep on going. There's one in particular who I refer to as lady in the Speedo bikini who was there one-day waiting for a lane and lamenting that she "always" shared her lane if needed and why would no one share with her. Little did she realize that I'd asked to share once and she said no as she was saving the lane for her husband....so I guess technically she was sharing, but just being selective. It was funny that no one would share with her until the lifeguard made them and then suddenly a guy I know offered to share his lane, telling me he didn't want to share with her becuase of her refusal to ever share a lane with anyone but her hubby if she got the lane first.

But it doesn't just end with sharing a lap lane. I will admit I try to be courtesy and polite in most of my daily life. I mean, I am sure there are times when I'm not, but I hope these are the exception rather than the rule. I try to be polite to people and to thank people who help me, such as the guy who stamps my parking validation at the downtown library or the person who checks out the books or the person scanning my card at the Y. And maybe I'm old fashioned, but honestly--it doesn't take that much effort to hold a door for someone from time to time. Now, if you're holding the door for 20 minutes waiting for someone to walk across the parking lot, that might be a bit extreme, but you get what I'm saying. But I can't tell you how often I've held a door for someone the past week or so, only to get glared at or nearly run over becuase they're bothering to look where they're going. Or how some people don't understand that when you are coming out a door and you can't see behind it and you almost run into someone, that saying "Excuse me" is not a way to jusify barrelling forward as if the person weren't there and you were trying to run them over.

And yet people wonder why Americans as a whole seem to get ruder. I think a lot of it is that we're so much more self-absorbed than we used to be. It's harder to really think outside of ourselves and realize--holy cow, I share this planet with billions of other people. And there are times when it's tempting to just say, "To heck with it" and be a rude, cantakerous person like a lot of other people I encounter. But then I think--no, that's letting the bad guys win. And who knows? For every ten people who don't like that I've held a door, want to share a lap lane or turned my cell phone onto vibrate or off in the library or a movie theater, there may be one who appreciates my showing some common courtesy toward them. That I've looked outside the box that is Michael and realized--hey, we can all get along, if we just take a bit of time and work at it.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 10/21/2005 01:41:00 PM | |

Taking fandom a bit too far...
A man in Oklahoma asked a judge if he could have a longer sentence so that he could serve the same number of years as the number worn by basketball great, Larry Bird. The sentence agreed upon was 30 years, but when it came time for sentencing the man asked for his sentence to be 33 years--3 years longer.
"He said if he was going to go down, he was going to go down in Larry Bird's jersey," Oklahoma County District Judge Ray Elliott said Wednesday. "We accommodated his request and he was just as happy as he could be."
You know, I'm a huge UT fan and am a big fan of Peyton Manning. But if (heaven forbid) I was to be convincted of a crime and sentenced, I don't think I'd ask for a longer sentence so I could be in jail for the number of Peyton's jersey. In that case, I might have to go with Steve McNair since his jersey is nine.

I guess the good news is--the guy in question wasn't a fan of someone who is an offensive or defensive line player and has a jersey number in the 80s or 90s.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 10/21/2005 12:35:00 PM | |

Friday Memes
Friday's Feast
Appetizer
Do you button shirts top-to-bottom or bottom-to-top?
Top to bottom.

Soup
What is your favorite sandwich?
Creamy peanut butter and homemade strawberry jelly.

Salad
What was a family project you helped work on as a child?
My dad let me help out on lots of projects growing up. We had one house that we repainted every room, took down wallpaper, redid tile and flooring and built an entire room in the basement on it.

Main Course
When have you acted phony?
I wouldn't say it's so much phony as during some of my job interviews last year, I suppressed some of parts of my personality. Like I wouldn't be happy-go-lucky but a but more serious and professional. Again, it's not acting phony so much as trying to present myself as a hard worker who was professional and be a good fit for the organization.

Dessert
Do you write letters or postcards? If so, to whom?
You know, with e-mail I don't do this as much anymore.

Aloha Friday

What idiotic things have you done for love?

Oh goodness, where do I begin and not sound bitter about it? Cause golly, it's a long list. Certainly I've never pulled a Dustin Hoffman from The Graduate to be sure....but hey, give me time. And it never seems to end well...Yeah, Tom Hanks will definitely not be playing me in a romantic comedy with Meg Ryan any time soon...

What do you do to stop hiccups?

I tend to try to scare myself or hold my breath. Or drink a glass of water slowly.

Play the Boo-Yay game. Tell us about a “boo” and a “yay” from the past week.

Boo - The Titans and Redskins both lost.

Yay - My sister and my nephew celebrated their b'days this week. And we just got news...my nephew had to have some hearing tests done--they were worried about his upper range hearing. And he is fine...so that is good news.

Casual Curiosity

the art of Pablo Picasso
That I honestly don't know as much about it as I should....

Health insurance
That it's one of those things that you don't appreciate it as much until you have to pay for your own individual policy and realize--wow, it costs a lot. But you know, you can't afford to really be without it.

the year 1937
It was a good year....a lot of stuff happened.

Ants
Why is it when I think of this, I hear the old joke from childhood that goes...What did the Pink Panther say when he stepped on an ant? Dead-ant, Dead-ant....

Ballroom dancing
I'd so love to have the ability to dance but I've got two left feet. I remember in junior high, we had dance as part of P.E. once a week. Yeah, that was traumatic...I mean, first of all, we all worried which girl we'd be paired up with to dance and then you had to worry--will I step on her feet and look like a fool? Of course, it's not like any of this really stuck since this was the early 80s and the guy teaching dance was stuck in the 70s...so if you need some bad discoing done, I am your guy. We did some dance to Copacbana and then some song about two pinapples and shaking a tree--I mean, this dance was choreographed to this one song that I have no idea what it is, so it's useless to me now! But I still vaguely recall it and should I hear the song, I might be able to show you the routine....

posted by Michael Hickerson at 10/21/2005 09:25:00 AM | |
Thursday, October 20, 2005
TV Round-Up: Lost
Lost: "...and Found"
I hate to say it, but Lost really lost me on this one. I don't honestly mind the flashbacks of Sun and Jin and having to read the subtitles. Well, let me put it this way--I wouldn't mind if the storyline being presented wasn't so gosh-darn preditable. Not only in the flashbacks but on the island as well.

It was good that Locke could wander by and throw our his usual Locke-wisdom that happens to be the overall theme of the episode. "You'll find it only when you stop looking," Locke tells Sun, after she's ripped up the garden in frustration over losing her wedding ring. And who'd've thunk that both Sun and Jin would have stopped "looking for love in all the wrong places, looking for love in too many faces...." (Oops, sorry...went a bit karoke there! Aren't you glad that wasn't part of the podcast?) and then would happen to meet along the canal at the end. I think we all knew from the first flashback moment where this story was going and I kept hoping for a surprise or two along the way. Like maybe when Jin allows the boy inside to use the restroom, that Sun sees it, sees the compassion and integrity Jin has that the set-up guy doesn't and approaches him because of that. And for all we know, she might have seen it since we never do see her point of view on this development. But honestly, this would have been more satisfying on an emotional level than the we just happened to run into each other. And also more fitting with the not looking for the love of your life but finding it theme that seemed to be where we were going with this whole plotline.

And a huge sigh of frustration has to come in that I called that Sun's ring would be with the bottle she buried last week. And wouldn't it have been nice to have someone on the island just say that everyone's been losing weight becuase of lack of proper nutrition and no McD's on the island. One line of dialogue people! Just one line.

Now, before run and assume that I'm down on Lost like I am on Alias, I'm not. I'm just saying that this episode was predictable and trite and not what I want or expect from the show. Every show can have an off episode and I am hoping that this was it for season two. The problem is--I like Sun and Jin and so to see their characters not really given much interesting or new to explore in the flashbacks....not a big fan.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the island, Michael goes nuts and runs off into the jungle to find the Others since they've been seen in the area. Ya know, I can understand the whole paternal grief thing, but dude, you're not thinking through the plan here. I mean, what exactly does he plan to do as one guy against this group of Others who have silly things like weapons. Now, I've never had a child lost or taken from me in this way, so I can't say I'd be the most rational person around if this happened. So, maybe Michael's actions and reactions do work on some level..but it seems to me that Jin and Sawyer would get him aside and help him realize the folly of what he's doing and how it's not going to bring Walt back. Michael needs a plan and he's going to need to help getting Walt back...and that help is going to have to come from his friends.

Interesting to see that Michael considers Jin a friend, but ain't so crazy about Sawyer.

And Anna-Lucia's little merry band of castaways--boy, they sure got the wrong side of the island. Or is it that the Others have found this group and haven't had time to stumble across our group of merry little island dwellers? If this is true, Anna Lucia's taking her group to our group is only going to make the Others realize--woo-hoo, now we've got a whole new set of people to terrify, torture and do whatever-it-is-we-do to them to.

And when the two groups to merge later this year (and you know they will), there's gonna be even more wacky romantic subtext than ever. Seems Sawyer is kind of hot for Anna-Lucia and we got the admission from Kate that she might, just might have a thing for our favorite hoarder of supplies. As if the Jack/Kate/Sawyer love triangle wasn't enough, we had to muddy it up some more. Let the wackiness begin!

Of course, we have to wait two weeks for the story to continue...which last time I checked it was the fall season. Surely we should have more than five new episodes ready to air or in production. Why take two weeks offs? I mean, baseball isn't going to be THAT big a rating's draw surely....

posted by Michael Hickerson at 10/20/2005 07:44:00 AM | |

I'm Just Like You, But I Have a Podcast: Episosde Eight
It's been a few weeks since I've done a podcast, but I'm making up for lost time with this week's installment. No Doctor Who commentary this time around...instead you will hear:

--It's UT vs Bama week. Why UT needs to win and my prediction on the score.
--Audio thoughts on this week's episode of Lost, recorded just minutes after the episode aired!
--Response to Katherine Coble's post this week about Lost.
--Lots of shout out to loyal readers/listeners....(this is what they call in the business a tease to get all of you to listen!)

So, here's the link directly to the podcast. Or you can visit the blog for the podcast here to download it.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 10/20/2005 07:33:00 AM | |
Wednesday, October 19, 2005
Rule of Tipping: Are There Any Hard and Fast Rules?
The other day, I got burned out on my usual lunch of a turkey sandwich and an apple and decided to indulge a bit. So, I stopped by Sonic for a burger and tots.

Now, it was during the lunch rush, so things were a bit backed up. They promptly took my order but I do admit I had to wait a bit longer than I'm used to at Sonic. I wouldn't have honestly thought that much about it had it not been for the fact that cars that pulled in AFTER I did got their food BEFORE I did.

When, at last, my food arrived at the car, the server apologized for the delay. I smiled and said it was OK. She then realized she'd left her change belt inside and had to run back in and get it. She finally came back, gave me my order and change. I took my lunch and change and was verifying I'd received the correct change when I noticed a hand out and extended. I looked up to find the server standing by my car, looking at me expectantly and holding out her hand. Almost as if she were demanding a tip.

Now, I will be the first to admit I don't quite understand the rules of tipping. Seems to me that a tip is given for good service. I wouldn't necessarily say the service that day was good. About the only reason it was worth noting was that it took so long (possibly not the server's fault) and that she was not organized enough to make only one trip to my car. I will also add that I generally tend to tip at Sonic just becuase I know they work pretty hard and they are usually on the ball at getting the food out to me in a timely manner.

I guess what I kind of didn't like was the expectation that I had to tip on the part of my server. I understand that there are a lot of people who work in the food service industry and they depend upon tips to make their daily wages. I understand that when I go out to eat at a restuarant, that tipping is part of the requirmement. I tend to follow the rule that a standard tip is double the tax (in Tennessee that is....it's helpful). And one way to ensure you get a good tip from me is to ensure my water glass is never empty for long. (I tend to only drink water with meals not becuase I'm cheap but because it's healthier for me and you can get way too many empty calories from consuming a couple of glasses of Coke...which I'd far rather use those on a second helping of General Tzo's Chicken or maybe desert!)

But, Sonic is one of those gray areas. It's not exactly a five-star, sit-down meal restuarant, but it's also not your standard McDonald's fast food arena. Hence why I tend to tip more often than not--but again, I apply the same standard I do for tipping at a regular sit-down restuarant--was the service good, prompt and professional?

I guess the thing that kind of got my goat here was that the extended hand and the expectation of a tip. I know many of my fellow bloggers are aware of the study that came out last week that finds Americans generally feel we're all getting ruder. I mean, I think we've all seen examples of it and I could fill pages after page of incidents in which people have been slighted in recent times. In a lot of ways, I blame this on the proliferation of cell phones and the lack of courtesy people show in talking on them extending over into other areas of life...but that's a whole other post. (I may get to that one at some point this week)

Is it just me or would anyone else be kind of off-put at going to Sonic and having the server hold out his or her hand, demanding a tip for the service?

Interestingly enough, as I contemplated this, The Tennessean ran a feature story on tipping in this morning's Living section. In fact, Sonic was a restuarant mentioned in the course of the story.

Over at the Melrose Sonic, manager Landon Renfro surveys the stalls and then polls his servers, the carhops who deliver the food to customers waiting in parked autos. Carhops fall somewhere between the full-service waitress and the fast-food attendant, and their tips reflect that.

"I think most servers, at the end of the day, take home about 10% in tips," Renfro says. He puts the frequency of tips at 50%, though, as someone shouts from the back, "Please tell people to tip us!"

Also of interest was one person's reaction to the standard "tip" jar that has appeared at coffee hosues and other establishments (such as the one at the dry cleaners I use).
"That's just too much," says Sarah Finlayson, 25, outside of Fido in Hillsboro Village. "Coffee's expensive to start with, like two dollars, and now they're trying to guilt me into tossing my change, or a dollar, on top of that? For pouring me a coffee and handing it to me?"
Reading the article, it's interesting to see the very varied viewpoints on how and why you should tip.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 10/19/2005 08:05:00 AM | |
Tuesday, October 18, 2005
Just what you always wanted....
If you've subscribed to or listened to my podcast feed, you may have heard a couple of commentaries on new episodes of Doctor Who by myself and fellow Doctor Who fan and good friend, Sarah. In those, we refer to other commentaries we recorded becuase..well, we're insane Doctor Who fans and we want the world to know it.

Sarah created a web site to host the commentaries we've done, which is now live. So, surf over and listen.

I will warn you--we had issues with the audio quality of the first one, "Rose." It sounds like we were living inside a tin can or something...but I think you'll enjoy them all.

Warning: If you've not seen the new Doctor Who, these will give away huge SPOILERS....you are warned.

And let me thank Sarah for her hard work and hosting these files. I appreciate it!

posted by Michael Hickerson at 10/18/2005 01:36:00 PM | |

Big Week of B'days
Yesterday was Davis's big second birthday (we celebrated with a party over the weekend and a trip to the pumpkin patch) and today is my little sister's birthday.

Saturday at Davis's party, Gracelyn and I were discussing how "old" everyone was. She told me she would be four on her next b'day and Davis is now two. And that I am apparently somewhere in my late 20's. Then I asked her how old Mommy was going to be and Gracelyn without batting an eye says, "42." Now, as her uncle I am proud of this for two reasons--one is that my sister is already in that whole "I can't believe I'm this old" thing and second of all, Gracelyn hasn't even read Hitchhhikers Guide to the Galaxy yet but she knows that the number 42 is significant, cool and ultra-hip to throw out as a random number when you don't know the answer. (If you don't know what it's cool or part of the story, either see the movie or better yet, read the books!)

So, I quickly made sure that Susan knew how old her child thought she was and that Uncle Michael was younger. This was not the first time last week that happened. Earlier in the week, I was talking to co-worker about my sister's b'day coming up and the need to find her a present. He then said, "So, she's your older sister, right?" to which I chuckled and replied no, I was the older brother. And then I get the usual--well, you don't look that old.

Man, I love that.

OK, but this is not about me.

I won't reveal the age of my sister here because, well, she's apparently sensitive about it. I will say she's my baby sister and always will be.

I remember bits and pieces of the day she was born. I was three and a half at the time, going on four and I remember getting up and something was odd. Mom was going to go to the hospital and my little three-year old brain immediately forgot why and went into panic mode because Mom was going to the hospital!!! See, I'd just had heart surgery in February earlier that year and to my three-year old mind, the hospital was where doctors worked and, well, all doctors were associated with the heart surgery and being scared and so....how could Mommy be going to the hospital?!? Luckily, Dad was going with her, so he could protect her from the evil, mean doctors. At least that is how my three-year old mind rationalized things.

I got to stay with some neighbors, whose name I've forgotten but I remember they had an older kid who put up with me on occasion and the mother drove a jeep. I thought it was cool as all get out that you'd drive around in a jeep. I remember secretly hoping that we'd get to ride around the base on the jeep all day, but I don't think it ever happened.

Anyway, my sister was born and my dad eventually came home to tell me. He told me I had a new sister and that she and Mom were staying at the hosptial and I could see them soon, but not tonight as they were both very tired. Now, I remember a dream I had that night all these years later. Anyone remember in the 70s and early 80s they had Samsonite commericals with a gorilla jumping up and down on the luggage and generally abusing it so as to prove how resiliant it was? Yeah, I had the dream of that gorilla chasing me. At one point, the dream got so intense that I could see four separate screens of the gorilla chasing me and wanting to jump up and down on me and screaming for my Mommy, but she couldn't come and save me because she was with the mean doctors. It was pretty darn scary and intense for a three-year old. To be honest, I'm kind of getting the willies thinking about it right now.

But, it all turned out for the best. The next day, Grandmother came and helped take care of things the first few days. And I got a new baby sister, which was good. One of my first real memories of my sister was being outside in the snow in Kansas City and playing, building a snowman with my dad. Mom brought Susan to the screen door and Dad pointed to her and said, "She is watching her big brother because she wants to play outside like him" which to my four-year old mind was just cool and really made me proud to have a little sister. It also made me wonder why she wasn't big enough to help me build a snowman and do fun stuff like that just yet. Those days would come later...of course, we moved to Hawaii and so making snowmen together wasn't an option really.

And years later, I'm still proud to be her big brother. I have a great sister. I'm blessed to have her in my life and I love her a lot. She is one of my best friends and we always have a good time teasing each other.

So, today is her big b'day. And we'll be gathering to celebrate.

Happy Birthday to my baby sister. Your proud big brother.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 10/18/2005 07:50:00 AM | |
Monday, October 17, 2005
TV Round-Up
Alias: The Shed
OK, so maybe I didn't pay as much attention last year as I should have (honestly, why should I--it's not like Alias really rewards you for paying close attention anymore!), but did I miss Syd and Vaughn moving in together? I mean, as touching and moving as the scene was where Vaughn's hockey magazine shows up, it doesn't make a lick of sense that he'd have it sent to her place and not hit. But again, I could have missed that our two heroes moved in together last year, though last time I looked last season, Syd was sharing a place with Nadia. So, I may not be wrong here. I guess what I'm trying to say here is--I hate it when a show assumes we, the audience, are idiots and won't remember things like this.

Of course, season five has really been built around the principle that we, the audience, are idiots and will accept any revelation and twist that comes along, no matter how absurd or not grounded in the reality of the show we make it. I can see that Alias is trying to reinvent itself a bit, but honestly it's not reinventing so much as retreading. Wow, we've got a super-secret spy organization that claims to be the CIA but isn't and they've recruited an intelligent, attractive woman to be part of that organization. Seriously--only thing missing from the pilot episode would be having Rachel's dad be part of the whole organization. Though I am sure now that I've mentioned that on-line, someone over at the Alias staff will pick it up and run with it.

Looking at this episode in which Syd is reduced to little more than a supporting role, I have to wonder if it might not have been best to punt on starting the season until after Jennifer Garner had delivered her baby. Becuase seeing characters we hardly know, much less care two cents about, go through the motions of a plot is not that entertaining. I mean, I get that we're trying to establish some new blood here, because heaven knows this show needs it in the worst possible way. But when you're establishing the new blood by covering the same ground you've already done back in season one, it gets old. Here's a note: If I wanted to watch season one again, TNT is showing repeats in the afternoon and I can catch it there. That or pick it up on DVD. I want to actually see new, interesting stuff happen on-screen and, quite frankly, that just ain't happening.

That said, it was good to see Amy "I Used to Work with a Real TV Genius And His Name Is Joss Whedon" Acker get some work here. But, again, I think her vast talent is being underutilized in what was a one-note character and role.

Smallville: Hidden
It'd be easy to sit here and compare and contrast the new seasons of Smallville and Alias. The shows air opposite each other, both are coming off lackluster years and both are in their fifth season. But whereas Alias is continuing to devolve from a once enjoyable show, Smallville is taking advantage of coming off a lackluster year and coming out of the gate with a vengeance. And here's the scary part--James Marsters has barely shown up yet. I can only imagine how good it's gonna get when he gets there.

Part of that is that Smallville never pretends to be more than it is. It never tries to be high art or high drama. Instead it's fun and, for the most part, entertaining to watch. It's a new exploration of what make Clark Kent into the Man of Steel later and a possible exploration of why Superman and Lex Luthor became such bitter enemies. A part of the enjoyment may be that we all know where the story ends, so we can just sit back and enjoy the ride of how we got there without worrying if the producers have some great masterplan or if they really have any concept of what they're doing.

Not to say this week's episode was perfect, mind you. I liked the concept of Clark having to race against a clock to save Smallville. But, along the way, some hugely improbable things happen. Clark is shot, taken to the hospital, attempted to be revived and then declared dead all in the space of five to seven minutes. Now, I am not saying these events would take hours, but based on the countdown to missile launch we saw, I can't help but wonder if this set of events unfolded a bit too quickly. I will give Smallville credit--they are following up on the meteor shower well with events here (though the Kent's farm being restored happened too fast). To see a character who realizes that the meteor rocks are creating freaks and that if more rained down on the town, this can't be a good thing works as a motivation. Also, to see Clark slowly putting together all of his superpowers and how and when to use them is nice. Though after seeing him take out the missile and return home, his clothes beaten and scarred and ripped, I gotta wonder how many copies of that red jacket and blue shirt he's got. I would love to see a scene where Martha makes him the Superman costume just to cut down the cost of replacing that red denim jacket every three days at the Gap.

Veronica Mars: Cheatty Cheatty Bang Bang

Back when Buffy and Angel were on the air I learned to pay close attention to the third episode of the season. Because, for the most part, it was the third episode of the season when the season-long story arc would kick off and Joss would lace the entire story with hints of things to come--including putting some clues so obviously in plain sight that you'd miss then until mid-January when you'd go, "Oh yeah!", smack yourself on the forehead and then realize, (yet again) what a genius Joss is.

Same thing happening here for Veronica Mars.

No disresepct to Lost, but this was the best show I saw last week. Fascintating, complex and full of hints and clues at things to come. I will say it again--I am loving this season. Man, this show is on a roll. Consider that the last nine or so new episodes have all swung for the fences and cleared them and you can understand why I get so geekoid for this show. I have a feeling some stories have been set in motion that we aren't even aware of how they'll play out just yet.

And yet, I can't wait to see how it all unfolds.

If there's one thing I've learned--Veronica Mars doesn't put a storyline in play unless it intends to pay off on it. And it will twist in ways we don't expect. From the question of what will happen to Kendall to did Aarron Echols hire someone to kill Veronica to who is the guy following Wallace's mother, there are so many great unanswered questions out there right now. I do have to feel for Keith...cause he seemed pretty happy in the relationship, which on a show like this can only mean one thing--bad things are coming.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 10/17/2005 09:46:00 AM | |

Well, that was frustrating...
Yesterday I watched the Tennessee Titans snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, losing to the Cincinnati Bungles at the once-imposing Coliseum.

It went so well for the first 55 or so minutes--the team played well, drove the ball and had some good stuff happen on defense. Then, the last five minutes happened and we just couldn't get out of our own way fast enough. It was bad enough that Punkman...excuse me, Pacman Jones committed not one but TWO pass interference calls in the drive that put the Bungles ahead. He's a rookie and an idiot, so I naturally expect that kind of thing from him...this is what you get from the draft pick who held out of training camp. But to see Steve "Hey, I was co-MVP in '03" McNair throw two interceptions on virtually back to back plays and doom any chance we had of winning....it's just painful. I'm gonna go out on a limb here and say that we should bench McNair and start Billy Volek next week. But Jeff Fisher is a loyal coach and will stick with McNair even if his Airness is hobbling out there on a walker.

Meanwhile, I kept having to get updates on the Redskins vs Kansas City game on the ticker and by watching the picture in picture for FOX to air updates. Why? Because some programming idiot at FOX 17 must love the Cowboys since we get every stinking game they play. I mean, you've got a team that was undefeated going into last week with a great defense against a great offense..but instead we get the yawn-inducing fest that was Dallas vs the Giants. Or maybe there was something in the broadcast contract so that when the Titans are playing, the opposition must air the least interesting game possible and insure the Titans, no matter how poorly they play, will get huge ratings.

Speaking of that--OK, so the friggin' Texans get a nationally televised game this year but not the Titans? How exactly does that work? I mean, the Titans are a bit disappointing but they're not an embarassment to the football like the Texans are. Seriously, I think Vandy could beat the Texans right now.....and yet the Titans, who have won bunches more games, been to the playoffs and, oh yeah, that funny Super Bowl thing don't get on national TV but yet the Texans do?!? What exactly did Bud Adams do to tick off the NFL? And is there any way we could apologize and maybe see our team get at least one nationally televised game next year?

posted by Michael Hickerson at 10/17/2005 07:49:00 AM | |
Friday, October 14, 2005
On the road again...
I got the call late yesterday afternoon that my car was done at the shop. For those of you who may not recall, my car took on a raised manhole cover in a gravel field last week and lost the battle. So, after having it overheat and konk out on me last Wednesday, I contacted my insurance company who helped me file a claim and get the car fixed...all this for only the cost of my deductable plus I'm sure higher insurance premiums down the road. But hey, my policy just renewed this month, so I've got five more months of ignorant bliss....

I have to admit I'm relieved to have my car back. I had a rental car, but it just wasn't quite the same. See, I got to rent a Ford Taurus, which was OK but it got all of two miles to the gallon. And that was if you happened to be going downhill with the wind behind you. (I will admit part of me had to hold back from laughing with the woman from the car rental place took me to get the car and she said it was her favorite car to drive and rent out of the ones they had available.)

The best reason to have my car back is that I've got all my pre-sets back on the radio. It's pretty sad, but for the most part, I don't really know radio station numbers so much as I know the button on the pre-set in my car that will get me to whatever I want to hear--such as the UT broadcast, the Titans broadcast, etc. Plus part of me was too impatient to sit in the car and reprogram the rental car radio with all the stations I might tune to since, well, it was only a rental car. In a week, I'd have to give it back and then worry if the battery had been disconnected too long and I'd lost all my pre-sets. (These are the kind of things that keep me awake at night...that and worrying that small meteorites are coming in the atmosphere, not burning up and will and kill me with no warning...it's my back-up worry in case I run out of things to obsess about.)

So, I've got my car back...which means that should I decide to take the plunge into a new car, I can now take my car as trade-in. Something tells me my new best friend at the Dodge dealer is going to be disappointed should I drop by. He's called, written or e-mailed me every day this week but today. Or someone from the dealership has. I've had colds that didn't keep hanging on this long. I know part of the car salesperson business is that you have to be aggressive and make sure the potential sale doesn't slip off the hook, but it's getting a bit ridiculous. I'm almost afraid to drive past the lot now on the off chance the GPS tracker they put on me will alert them I'm coming into the area and they'll start pulling up paperwork for me to sign.

But, hey, the good news is I have my car back....the bad news is--I wonder how much it will cost to change my phone number.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 10/14/2005 03:52:00 PM | |

Friday Memes
Friday's Feast
Appetizer
Who is someone you would consider to be a calm person?
My mom. She has this amazing ability to take things in stride and not get panicked.

Soup
What was your last "gut feeling" about? Were you right?
That the Vols were going to play a complete game and beat UGA. And I think we all see how THAT one turned out...

Salad
List 3 words that you really don't like how they sound.
1. Crimson Tide
2. Steve Spurrier, coach of the Redskins
3. Tennessee loses tonight...

Main Course
What kind of shampoo and conditioner do you use?
I swim laps for exercise which means I get enough chlorine in my hair to choke a horse. So, I use the UltraSwim to try and strip that out. Then I will use Neutrogina cleaning shampoo and conditioner. Then once a week I use the expensive Neutrogina stuff to clean all the gunk and residue from the other shampoos out. I know, it's complicated...but on the off-chance that I might someday have a date, I want to look my best...

Dessert
If you found out that you definitely do have a guardian angel, what would you name it?
Doctor...that way I could go, "Doc-tor?" in a bad British accent.

Casual Curiosity
New meme from the people who brought you Friday's Feast (gee, I sound like a movie trailer). They give you a subject and you give your opinion on them. Sounds like fun...coming this summer to a theater near you...

the board game Trivial Pursuit
I love playing Trivial Pursuit, espeically the 80s edition or better yet the Star Trek edition (or as I all it--doesn't everyone just know that in episode 4, Kirk said....) which apparently is highly collectible. I love getting the little pieces of pie and sailing around the board showing off my incredibly random knowledge of totally useless facts. I remember stunning family and friends that I not only knew who says the line, "Sorry but you're just too darn loud" in Back to the Future but that I didn't even have to think about it....

the state of Kentucky
They play some great college basketball up that way. And I do still miss Hal Mumme in football because if he was beyond his own 20, you could always count on Hal to go for it on fourth-and-whatever. I loved to be a Neyland Stadium and mock Hal for his play calling. I am sure he left Kentucky just to avoid my heckling....

the astrological sign and constellation Pisces
To tell you how little I know about it, I don't even know which b'days are covered under the Pisces sign....

Winnie the Pooh, the fictional bear
As a three-year old person, I loved Winnie the Pooh. In fact, I had heart surgery at age three and my parents got me a cassette tape of Winnie the Pooh and Tigger Too, which to this day I can still recite from it. As can my mother because during my hospital stay I listened to this cassette eleventy-billion times (which let's face it--that's a lot!) Also, when I think about Winnie the Pooh, I think about the Winnie the Pooh my mother crocheted for me when I was little with his huge over-sized red shirt. I think she's still got my Pooh bear and is saving him for my kids...

Castles
"It's like 20 castles in the sky..." Sorry, random Doctor Who line there for you. But along those lines, I'd love to visit the UK and Europe and just explore the old castles.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 10/14/2005 08:46:00 AM | |
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