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Wednesday, November 30, 2005
Second helping spread
I was flipping around stations last night and came across the super-long deluxe finale of NBC's The Biggest Loser. I stopped to watch for a few minutes and part of the show began to bug me.

There was a contestant on there named Susie who was apparently out of the game in the first few weeks for not losing enough weight (I'm not sure how this works because I've not watched a whole episode before now). Anyway, we see a segment on how Susie is doing now that she's back home and there's less accountability to her diet. At one point, Susie is out with friends at a restaurant and asking about healthy choices from the menu. I'm fine with that. In fact, I applaud it. But then, as the food arrives, Susie starts to bawl and cry when her friends offer her samples or bites of various foods--including trying a taste of a peanut oil dip. Susie says, "Oh no, I can't have it" and starts to break down and cry.

We then hear her talking about how hard it is and how horrible it is.

Not to sound unsympathetic, but good grief, get over it. Now, I come at this from the perspective of someone who went on a diet and lost a good bit of weight a few years ago. I've also manged to keep the weight off, which I think is the hard part.

One of the things I learned on the diet was that, hey, you're human. You're going to cheat on the diet every once in a while because--hey, let's face it, chocolate chip cookies are delicious right out of the oven. But what defines the diet and the change in lifestyle (which is really what a diet is on many levels...it's about a change in your eating lifestyle and habits) isn't what you do at one meal but it's a big picture thing. For example, you can have portions and portion control. If you want to enjoy some stuffing at Thanksgiving dinner, go ahead. Have a small portion. Or a single portion instead of two, three or four. One thing I learned in my dieting expereince was--if you're gonna cheat on the diet, make it something you really want not just whatever is there. Don't just have that chocolate chip cookie or stuffing if you don't want it or just because it's there. Or if you have a cookie, don't say--well, I've blown it today and then eat the entire bag or the entire batch you've just baked.

In a lot of ways, Susie's actions really turned my stomach. I was fortunate in that friends and family supported me on the diet thing. But in watching Susie and how she acted, I hope I never acted that way. She was making her friends miserable because she had to say, "Oh woe is me..I can't eat whatever I want. Oh, isn't that terrible?" I mean, it's just about choices as I've said before..you don't have to make yourself a food martyr. And you can try a bit of something and it won't destroy your entire weight loss program. And I know that I had friends and family who supported me...in fact, one of my good friends would, in good nature, get after me at work when they'd bring in pizza during my diet since I love pizza and that's an area of weakness in the self-control department for me. But it wasn't done to be mean or to make me feel bad, but to help me out because he knew I was watching what I ate and that I'd beat myself up over it later. And hey, you can have friends help you out if they know you're dieting. I know that during my diet, I was addicted to baby carrots (still like them) and I remember a lot of Saturday afternoon football games over at my good buddy David Broyle's house where he'd have muchies out that included veggies and baby carrots. Also, they were not offended when I offered to bring some healthy munchies....yes, sure there were still chips and the other stuff, but there were choices. And I appreciated that a good deal.

Right now, it's the holidays. It's a time when there is a lot of really good food out there...and not all of it's good for you. But you know, if you're dieting or trying to maintain your waist line, you can do it. I know I've pledged to maintain my weight during the holidays and there is a group at the Y that is helping me to do it. It helps that there's a goal--if you and your partner win, then you get free parking for a year. Not a bad thing, really. And I know there are office parties and family gatherings coming up that will have really good food that I'll want to eat a lot of...becuase hey, food is good. But I also know that I can make it through without gaining anything and still enjoy the holidays. I hope to not make my friends and family miserable. I don't intend to say--oh look at me, I'm dieting and can't eat this or that. I know I'll make good choices, I know I'll make a few bad ones...but I hope to achieve a balance that works for me.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 11/30/2005 09:02:00 AM | |

Some Random Thoughts
Just some random things that have caught my attention in the past couple of days...

Beverly Cleary's Ramona to get her own movie
Growing up, I loved Beverly Cleary's books. I think I read all of her books to the point that I had most of them memorized--esp. the Ramona series. I still vividly recall the time when Beezus wanted a new haircut from someone other than her mom and saved up her allowance to go to the mall and get one. Ramona's mom asks Beezus if they should turn left and Beezus replies "Right" (as in correct) and Ramona's mom drives the wrong way for a while. So, to hear about a movie based on Ramona is pretty exciting--assuming they stay faithfully to the books and don't just borrow the characters and then run in their own direction with it.

I also had no idea Beverly Cleary was 90.

But the best news--with the movie and Cleary's big birthday coming up, they are going to re-publish all of her books. Now, I've not seen many that are out of print, but I've not really looked for them in years. I did look a few years ago to get BrainyBoy one for his b'day and I have to admit part of me looks forward to the day when I can share these books with Gracelyn and Davis.

Why can't we have something like this in Nashville?!?
How cool would this be to have in Nashville? An entire session of watching the first season of Veronica Mars in a marathon and the shows creator and some of the stars will be there? Sure, there's the DVD and you could do an all-day marathon yourself, but how cool would it be to watch it with fellow fans on the big screen? I have to say--I'm really pumped for tonight's new episode that is supposed to be pivotal to the season. Plus we have a mini-Buffy reunion with Charisma Carpenter and Allyson Hannigan sharing screen time. How can you go wrong?

And if something like did come to Nash-vegas, I know at least one other fan of the show who might come out for the event...

BBC angry over Dalek adult cinema film
& Police bust mobile strip club at Buc's game.
Yeah, these two stories are just...well, weird. The one about the the mobile home being used as a strip club at a Buc's game is just disturbing on many levels. But even more so is that some people thought that somehow making an adult film with the Daleks would be a good idea. It makes you wonder--where the hell do these people come up with these things? I mean, I love Doctor Who and the Daleks are my favorite villians..but at no point in the years I've watched the show have I thought--you know what is missing here? The Daleks getting it on with naked women. Never, ever crossed my mind. But yet it did and apparently it was selling pretty well over on Ebay before it was pulled from the site.

That said, this quote cracked me up:
(Terry Nation (creator of the Daleks)'s) Estate director Tim Hancock told The Sun: "The reason the Daleks are still the most sinister thing in the universe is because they do not make things like porn.

"They weren't ever intended to be sexual creatures. It's simple - the Daleks do not do porn."

Please, feel free to insert you own jokes about the fact that Doctor Who fans don't have sex so why should the Daleks here....

posted by Michael Hickerson at 11/30/2005 08:32:00 AM | |
Tuesday, November 29, 2005
Good news
My grandfather was admitted to the hospital Sunday evening with pneumonia. My parents went over to visit him Sunday afternoon to find him with a high fever and really out of it. His doctor advised a trip to ER and he was admitted Sunday night/early Monday morning.

The good news is--he's doing a lot better now. He's responding well to the medicine. His fever is gone and he may get to go home this afternoon.

I stopped by the hospital last night to visit with him. He was in good spirits and is doing well for being a week away from his 92nd birthday. He was reminiscing with Mom about his days in the Army and the places he's travelled to. I could listen to those stories for hours and I find myself regretting when I was younger I wasn't more interested in the stories and really appreciated their value as much as I do now.

I was also happy with the fact that I was able to visit him in the hospital without feeling the least bit of panic or like I was going to faint. Don't laugh. It happens to me. One time I was visiting a friend who'd been in a car wreck and while the doctor was in talking to her, I passed out. I hear she was talking about how she was feeling and said, "...and if you could help out my friend, that'd be great too."

Of course, seeing one of the nurses who was on the floor with my grandfather, I was wondering if passing out might not be a good way to break the ice. But I thought not. I'm not thinking trained medical professional females are going to find the passing out guy all that attractive.

Then again, I could be wrong. But I don't think I'll test that one.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 11/29/2005 02:09:00 PM | |
Monday, November 28, 2005
Fever Pitch
Over the weekend, I watched the Jimmy Fallon/Drew Barrymore movie Fever Pitch. I have to admit the movie intrigued me for a couple of reasons. One is that the movie is based on a book by Nick Hornby, who seems to have a great track record of having good books turned into equally good movies (High Fidelity, About a Boy). The second reason was that it was directed by the Farralley brothers who gave us such classics as Dumb and Dumber and There's Something About Mary, both of which are hysterical movies. Yeah, sure they're gross-out comedies, but even in all the insane jokes about bodily functions and mocking people who are different, the Farrelleys manage to have a heart to the movie. Sure, Jeff Daniels and Jim Carey are two of the biggest idiots to ever grace the silver screen, but the movie has heart.

And thirdly, it had Drew Barrymore who just seems to get more and more adorable with each passing movie (though this one in no way tops The Wedding Singer, which is just fabulous. I have no qualms about admitting that in public).

Anyway, the story of the film is that boy meets girl, boy is obsessed with the Red Sox and how that complicates the relationship of boy and girl. In the end, boy realizes that he needs to scale back the love of the Sox so he won't lose something he loves more in the girl and girl realizes that by making boy give up the obsession with the Sox, she is losing a fundamental part of what attracts her to him. Yeah, I know, it's not exactly a ground-breaking new film but it was a nice respite after watching Million Dollar Baby, which was good but seriously, I need therapy after seeing it.

During the course of the film, I found myself watching Fallon's character, Ben and actually feeling a lot better about myself. At one point, Barrymore's character comes and offers to whisk them away on a romantic weekend trip to Paris and Fallon's first reaction isn't--wow, that's awesome, but is instead to check the Red Sox schedule. Yeah, I've never done that. (That last part was sarcasm, BTW) At another point, Fallon states that he can't miss a game because "the team needs him there" to which Barrymore basically points out--yeah, like they're really going to know if you're there or not. This leads to him skipping the game and then having every sports fan's worst nightmare--missing the greatest game/comeback ever because you went out and had actual human interaction with another possibly non-sports interested person, maybe even one of the opposite sex who you might have more of connection with than just slapping high fives with other random fans at the winning run or big touchdown.

Again, not that I'd know anything about this. Sure, I love Tennessee, but I could give up a game or two if it was really important--provided it wasn't us playing Florida, Alabama, Georgia or in the SEC championship game. And no, a few years ago when UT played for a national title, I didn't laugh at the high school having a basketball game at the same time and expecting me to come out and cover it just because I was the sports editor for a small-town paper. (Luckily, they rescheduled at the last minute as did most of East Tennessee because...hey, this was a once in a lifetime kind of thing. ) So, anyway, I came away from Fever Pitch feeling a whole lot better about myself because hey, with football it's only about a quarter to a third of the year that I spent with my obsession and not eight months a year like baseball. Huge difference...

One other thing that struck me about the film was a conversation that takes place between Barrymore and her friends and Fallon and his. Basically, it's the first stages of the relationship and they are comparing notes on the each other with friends. At one point, both have friends who go--hey, he/she is over 30 and not taken or married? What's wrong with him/her? (This is before she knows that he's obsessesed with the Red Sox and that she is very driven to get ahead in her job). Interesting scene and I think it speaks a lot of truth about how relationships sometimes work, especially in the those early semi-awkward kind of stages. But it's a good thing the movie is fictional and things like that never happen in real life....

posted by Michael Hickerson at 11/28/2005 08:11:00 AM | |
Saturday, November 26, 2005
Well, at least it ended with a win
The 2005 Tennessee football season came to a close today with the Vols taking care of Kentucky 27-8.

With nothing to play for, the Vols seemed a bit more relaxed than they had all year. Expect major changes to start occurring as early as tomorrow or Monday when we find out who of the offensive staff is kept and who leaves the program.

Overall, this has been one heck of a disappointing year football wise for the Vols. And while I'd like to be optimistic about next year, it's hard to be that right now. I will see what happens in the weeks and months ahead on all sides of the ball before I start getting too hopeful.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 11/26/2005 02:58:00 PM | |
Friday, November 25, 2005
ACLU vs Santa
Found this amusing little story over on Crosswalk.com.
The American Civil Liberties Union announced today that it was bringing a lawsuit against Santa Claus for violations of the civil rights of children. An ACLU spokesman, Mr. E. Scrooge, stated that, "Mr. Claus has been violating children's right to privacy and has been putting that information in a vast database. The information is then used by the law enforcement arm of Mr. Claus' organization to determine which children are considered naughty or nice. It is obvious Mr. Claus has violated the children's rights, as we have alleged in our suit, because of the memos and other company information we have obtained. In addition, we believe Mr. Claus has been engaging in mind control experiments designed to prevent the free expression of beliefs."
You can read the rest of the story here.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 11/25/2005 09:54:00 AM | |

TV Round-Up
Lost: Collision
At long last, the moment we've all been waiting for has finally arrived--the first meeting of the two groups of survivors.

After a season which saw a lot of going back over familiar ground, it was nice to have an episode that finally began to push things forward, maybe starting the momentum for the middle third of the season. Heaven knows if I see one more explanation of how we found the hatch and what was inside it, I think I am going to go slowly insane.

Overall, I really liked where things were going on the island this week. We got to have a little bit of fun with Jack and Kate playing golf. After the dark and depressing nature of last week's look back at the first 48 days on the island for the surivovrs in the tail section, it was nice to remember that occasionally on the island people do smile and have a good time without anyone dying. The banter between Jack, Kate, Charlie and Hurley was nicely done. Of course, this was to contrast the other group with Ana Lucia playing control freak and not allowing anyone to crack a grin or a smile, faced with the guilt of having killed someone. In this case, Ana has killed an innocent person in Shannon, taking the shoot first and ask questions later theory. And in her flashbacks, we learn just why Ana Lucia is so quick on the trigger.

Not surprisingly, she's was a police officer in her previous life. One who'd been shot four times with armor-piercing bullets. As if that weren't traumatic enough, we learn in Ana Lucia's story that she was pregnant at the time. She lost the baby and then seems to have lost everything else in her life, leading to her decision to allow the guy back on the streets so she can hunt him down and kill him later, thus satisfying her own need for vengeance and/or justice. As we find out bits and pieces of Ana Lucia's story, I found myself curious about more of her backstory. Why did she lose Danny? Did her anger and resentment drive him away much in the way it drove off the survivors of the tail? Did this lead to her being such an obsessive control freak or was that something she learned from her mom? And was there a time when Ana Lucia was happy or smile and wasn't so hardened by her experiences?

I'm guessing we may found out in future flashbacks. And I also wonder how Ana Lucia might have crossed paths with other survivors besides just Jack in the airport bar.

And let me just say something here--I loved Jack's double take when he heard Ecko say the name Ana Lucia. Nice touch.

Interesting also to see Eko and Locke meet--the two enigmas of their tribes and perhaps the two men who have been directly impacted or come face to face with whatever is going on on the island. Watching Locke try to get information out of Eko and Eko clammng up was a nice touch.

And finally, after weeks of teasing, we got to see the reunion of Bernard and Rose. Yeah, I know they were tugging the heartstrings with the music and how it built up, but you know what-- I don't care. The moment just worked very well and it's nice to see the show build up to it and then pay it off in a satisfying way.

Veronica Mars: Ahoy Mateys!
You have to love a show that isn't afraid to show that its tough as nails heroine can also be vunerable. And I don't mean vulnerable in the cute, doe-y eyed way that Kristen Bell can look, but instead I' m referring to the scene before the opening credits were Veronica gets in over her head looking into why Logan was framed and who might have done it. Seeing Veronica get thrown onto the table and assualted while trying to escape was scary and Kristen Bell plays terrified as well as she plays plucky and confident. Seriously, get this girl an Emmy nomination yesterday. She's just that good.

Meanwhile, things are getting more interesting--if that was possible. Duncan is having dreams about Meg and Veronica debating who is better for him. He's having erotic dreams about Meg and you have to wonder what his secret is here--what does he feel guilty about or what is haunting him in relation to Meg? Was it that he slept with her and then dumped her to get back with Veronica? I mean, that's the most obvious choice and yet it seems too easy for this show. And one thing we've learned--Veronica Mars does not take the easy way out.

Also, Logan finds out who is behind harassing him. It's Weevil, which is no huge shock. But it should be interesting to see how Logan handles this situation as it were. We've seen that Logan isn't exactly the most forgiving guy my nature and you can bet that a huge confrontation and showdown is coming between these two characters. And you know what--I can't wait.

And those are just the subplots!

The main plot is Keith is asked to look into whether or not the school district is harassing one of the victim of the bus crashes' families. Someone keeps planting small buses and calling the house with messages from the deceased son. Veronica is brought in and finds out that the guy was doing a Pump Up the Volume type thing with a buddy, talking about all the '09ers at Neptune High. (What he's never heard of podcasting?) As we slowly look into this, we find out that he kid was sent away by his parents to be "de-gayed." Veronica finds a guy who has a crush on the deceased and asks him about what happened and why it happened.

Now, alone any one of these three storylines would have been worth tuning in for. But when you can juggle and balance all three of them in one hour--well, let me just say that after last week's stumble by the show, all is forgiven. Back on track and I'm looking forward to next week in what will probably be the final episode we get until 2006...

posted by Michael Hickerson at 11/25/2005 07:21:00 AM | |
Wednesday, November 23, 2005
Happy Thanksgiving!
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I hope everyone has a blessed and safe Thanksgiving. If you're travelling, be careful out there on the roads.

I'd like to take a moment here to express my thanks to all of my blogging friends out there. Thanks for stopping by, commenting, e-mailing me and extending the hand of friendship across the Net.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 11/23/2005 09:23:00 AM | |

Happy 43rd Anniversary!
Between my seventh and eighth grade years of middle school on a warm summer evening in San Jose, California, my dad asked me a question that forever changed my life.

"So, have you ever watched this show Doctor Who?" he said to me.

"Not really," I replied. I vaguely recalled seeing it once on a PBS station in Alabama but that it was part three of a storyline and I had no idea what was going on, so I'd quickly lost interest. I told my dad I'd heard of it but never watched it as it was a show that had stories with multiple episodes per story and I never seemed to come in on part one. So, my dad said why not try it and flipped over to KTEH just in time for me to see episode one of a story called "Time Flight."

Like any new show you tune into, it was a bit confusing at first--why was this police box bigger on the inside than the outside, who was this guy the Doctor, etc. But as I watched that first episode, I slowly became drawn into the story and the characters. The next night I was back for part two, then part three and the conclusion. And then, a new serial began...

Before you knew it, I was hooked.

I sometimes wonder if my dad regrets that summer evening sometimes since here we are closing in on close to 20 years of my being a complete, total and obsessive Doctor Who fan.

As a Doctor Who fan, today is a special day. On November 23, 1963, the first episode of Doctor Who ever was transmitted in the UK. The show was not an immediate success. It took four weeks before the show became a huge hit and went on to run for 26 seasons on the BBC before being put on "hiatus" for 14 years and coming back last spring. Over the course of 43 years, 10 actors have played the Doctor, the latest being David Tenant who some of you might recognize as Barty Crouch, Jr from a movie about a boy-wizard that opened last week.

Over the weekend, we got our first preview of what Tenant will be like in the role with a five minute preview of the Christmas-themed episode that will air on Christmas in the UK (and then be immediately file shared to be downloaded by those of us stateside since the U.S. networks can't seem to figure out this is a show that people want to see and pick it up for airing here).

Over my years of insane fandom for this show, I've found a lot of people know who the 4th Doctor is. He's the one played by Tom Baker, who had the curly hair and the long scarf. He is the most popular Doctor and the one with the longest tenure in the role (seven years). Overall, I like his era, but he's not my favorite--in fact, he ranks number three on my list of favorite Doctors.

Or if you know the show, it's probably for the rather low budget effects.

To which my response is--yes, they were poor but it's not about the effects, it's about the stories. Doctor Who has some of the best-written stories with some great actors in them throughout the run of the show. In the hey-dey, being on Doctor Who in the UK had the same stigma that being in Star Trek: The Next Generation did in the 90's here. But there was a greater chance of being a guest star on Doctor Who since every four to six weeks, they went to a new planet or time and there were generally only two to three leads--the Doctor and his companions.

It's sad but true but I know more trivial knowledge about Doctor Who than any one person should. I have enjoyed the show since the first time I've watched it and half the fun is that there's a huge catalog of backstories to get through if you discover it and love it now. All of the complete stories are out on VHS (I know as I have them all on videotape, either commerically released or taped off the air) and the DVDs are among the best TV to DVD releases out there. For me, Doctor Who is what I'd call my security blanket of TV shows. When I'm feeling down or out of sorts, it's a nice comforting little universe to escape to for 25 or so minutes and to enjoy the exploits of the good Doctor. I remember several times in 2001, when I was facing the summer from hell that I would pop in a DVD or VHS of the good Doctor's adventures just to not think about the overwhelming sense of tragedy that was pervading my life at the time. It didn't make it better and I always knew that eventually I had to come back from that fantasy world, but for 25 minutes, I could at least take my mind off what was weighing me down.

Of course, I have my favorite stories, my favorite Doctors and my favorite eras of the show and there are some stories that I think are just horrifically bad.

All that said, I love the show. I am not quite as insane about it as I used to be, reading all the novels that came out such as happened in the early 90s with the hey-dey of the publishing line called the New Adventures. But I still get excited when the serials come out on DVD--even if it's a story that I'm not a huge fan of, I will still line up to buy it. A lot of that is the work that is done to remaster and restore the stories for DVD is superb and the stories look and sound better than ever. Also, the extras....wow, they're great.

And I'm sure that whatever format we go to next after DVD, I'll re-purchase the entire series again in that format.

So, today is a special day for me as a Doctor Who fan. Doctor Who is 43 years old and it's still going strong. We've just come out of a successful re-launch of the show in the UK and now we'll get a whole new season next spring. As a Doctor Who fan, these are exciting times...and I've been through some bleak ones where every week we were teased with news that it was coming back, to the point that I got so cynical I didn't really believe the show was back until I saw the first episode of the new series--and even then it was too good to be true.

But for now, I'm going to focus on the positive. It's an anniversary for the show. Not a big mind you like the 40th or upcoming 50th. But hey, I don't really care. It's a day to celebrate all the things I enjoy about my favorite TV show of all-time, Doctor Who.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 11/23/2005 07:34:00 AM | |
Tuesday, November 22, 2005
Which Superhero Am I?
Your results:
You are Spider-Man
Spider-Man
75%
Robin
65%
Green Lantern
65%
Iron Man
55%
The Flash
50%
Hulk
50%
Catwoman
45%
Wonder Woman
43%
Superman
40%
Supergirl
38%
Batman
20%
You are intelligent, witty,
a bit geeky and have great
power and responsibility.
Click here to take the "Which Superhero are you?" quiz...

posted by Michael Hickerson at 11/22/2005 08:27:00 AM | |
Monday, November 21, 2005
Beyond the 50 Book Challenge
Here's some of the books I've read for the challenge since the last time I posted and a few thoughts on some of them.

101. By Blood Written by Steven Womack
102. Howling Mad by Peter David

Bless the public library of Nashville. I've been curious about this early novel of David's for years but have never found it at a price I'm willing to pay. Well, imagine my delight when I was skimming through the library and found it. David is one of my favorite authors and to read this early work of his was intriguing. It's the story of what if a person become a werewolf, what if a wolf becomes a wereperson as it were. It's full of the usual trademark David touches and it's a fun, quick read. It's been optioned several times to become a movie, but so far it's not hit the silver screen. It might be a fun movie if it was done right.

103. The Door Into Summer by Robert A. Heinlein
104. Star Wars: Dark Nest, Book One: The Joiner King by Troy Denning
105. Come Thirsty by Max Lucado

Another great book by Max Lucado. I always find his books to be interesting, thought provoking and powerful.

106. Lady of Mazes by Karl Schroeder.
107. Thud! A Novel of Discworld by Terry Pratchett

The latest Discworld novel starts of on a high note, satirizing the hoopla around The DaVinci Code. It' also deals with the rising tension between two sides over a historical battle that took place years before and what happens when it appears one side killed a member of the other. But for some reason, it lost momentum halfway through and never really recovered. A shame really as the first half was a marvellous, fun read.

108. Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman

A sequel of sorts to Gaiman's Hugo-award winning book, American Gods. It's a more focused novel and it may be a better one. This one felt more Neil Gaiman like than American Gods did. A great novel and definitely worth reading. You don't necessarily have to have read AG to enjoy this one.

109. 24 Declassifed: Operation Hell Gate by Mark Cerasini

Media tie in novels are a tricky beast. You can make them just like the TV show or movie on which their based, thus ensuring huge mass-market appeal or you can maybe explore some of the nuances within the show or fill in gaps, this making them a bit more appealing to the hard-core fan base. When I heard about a series of books based on 24, I thought there was tremendous potential for some intersting stories--such as what led Palmer to run for office or maybe exploring the relationship of Jack and Terry before we meet them in season one. Instead, we get a prequel day to season one in which Jack and CTU must save the U.S. There are familiar characters there but it gets frustrating since we know where certain stories are going--such as including Nina. I kept waiting for maybe some hints of her season one betrayal and got none of it. And the hook of each chapter being one hour doesn't translate as well from the TV show where each episode is one hour of the day. There could have been so much more to this book than it was.

110. Searching for God Know What by Donald Miller

There are certain books that reading them, I find myself wondering what it'd be like to hear the author read the book or story in his or her own words. Garrison Keillor is one of these authors as is Philip Gulley and Robert Whitlow for me. Reading Searching for God Knows What, I found msyelf wishing I could hear Donald Miller read the chapters that make up his book instead of just reading them. This book is a conversational style book about Miller's Christian walk and what it means to be a Christian overall. If you're looking for a book that is hugely cross-refernces in scriptures, you should look elsewhere. If you're looking for a book about a man on his journey and sharing reflections on it, look no further. The style of writing is very conversational. I felt as if I were sitting somewhere with Miller, having a drink and talking about various aspects of being a Christian. Miller gets into what it really fundamentally means to be a Christian and does it in a frank way. It's one of those that as you read it, you find yourself thinking--why didn't I think of it that way before? A great book and it's encouraged me to seek out and find his other books.

111. Storm Front by Jim Butcher
112. Unlikely Angel by Ashley Smith
113. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

posted by Michael Hickerson at 11/21/2005 10:27:00 AM | |
Sunday, November 20, 2005
Looking at new cars
It takes a special kind of personality to be a salesperson. I have a lot of respect for them because I know I couldn't do it. I honestly couldn't face that much rejection every single day. Not without feeling about two inches tall every time I went home.

I've been looking at new cars recently. It's just that time. In looking at the cars, I've done a bit of research on-line to find the one that is the safest (you can always earn more money, you can't replace yourself or friends and family should you get in a wreck) and that I can afford. I've looked at a number of options, done some test driving and am now in the process of making that most vital of all decisions--what color car do I want for the next couple of years?

It's interesting how you come in, test drive a car or two and suddenly you have a new best friend. I have to admit there are a couple of dealers that have impressed me in a good way, one being a Nissan dealer. I got a hand-written note from the salesman and he talked about the Redskins losing on the last second week and he was sorry to hear that for me. It's not a big thing, but it's one of those things that makes you feel like--hey, the guy observed that I had on a Redskins shirt, we talked football during the test drive and he took the time and interest in me as more than just a dollar sign for him. Of course, he lost a few points yesterday when he called right after the Vols game and said he was sorry we'd lost but maybe a good deal on a car would make me feel better. Yeah, not so much. Binge buying after a loss by the Vols is a shake from Sonic or a DVD out of the cheap bin at Wal-Mart, not a new car. A new car is binge buying for people like Donald Trump.

I also went to the local Kia dealer last weekend. According to a search on Vehix.com, the Kia was comparable to the Civic I've been researching. I knew little about Kias so I thought I'd go in for a test drive. It was a high-pressure sale and I felt like a dollar sign on legs. I know that part of car buying is to not let you off the lot without buying a car. A lot of car buying is impulsive and if you have time to think it over, you may change your mind. Interestingly enough, I have heard nothing from the Kia dealer since I left the lot--no follow-up. Not even a note or a postcard. It makes me wonder if that's how they treat you when the car comes in for service. I don't want them coming out and kissing up to me from the time I come on the lot to the time I leave but I also like that a salesperon shows interest in me as more than just a dollar figure for him or her.

I'm still figuring out what I want for a car. I know where I'm leaning and now comes the game...finding a good deal and the one that works best for me.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 11/20/2005 05:12:00 PM | |

Group dynamics
So, I went to see Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire on the IMAX screen last night. I enjoyed the movie a great deal, but being the total book-snob that I am, it's not as good as the book. Of course, they did have to compress a lot of stuff to make a 600 plus page book into a two and a half hour movie. I'm not one of those fans who is screaming because a character was left out of something was moved about for the sake of transforming the book into a film. It's just part of a book becoming a movie....you can't leave every word, scene and character in there. (I remember when Lord of the Rings came out, there were some fans I encountered who said they were going to the movies and would weep every time a subplot or minor character was cut out of the film...to which I thought, why bother to go then? If it's going to cause you that much pain that you're weeping, wouldn't you just rather stay home?)

I went to the movie with a group of fellow bloggers from Nashville--LB, Amanda, Tiff and others. We met early to get as close to the front of the line as possible and get good seats and to grab dinner at food court at Opry Mills. I had a great time and it's always interesting to get out in the real world and put blogs with faces and voices. I'm always fascinated by that and it's kind of cool having met a good cross-section of my fellow Nashville bloggers in person now, I can hear the person talking when I read their blog. (Sure, we'll go with that explanation for the voices in my head....works for me).

I know I was introduced to a good-sized group--there were about 13 others. Some had blogs, some didn't. It was interesting to see the non-bloggers react to the bloggers and vice versa.

I have to admit that going into the meeting, I was a bit nervous, as I usual get in situations where I dont necessarily know anyone. As in--having met them in the real world. When I get like that, I tend to pull back a bit and observe the group dynamics, trying to figure out how everyone relates to each other and how I might fit in. For me, the hardest part of coming into a group as an outsider is that it takes some time to figure out the lingo of the group and the backstory if you will. To figure out how people relate and interact. So, I will admit I was a bit quieter last night than usual....and the aspects of my personality that I show here on my blog may not have come through as much. Plus I probably talked LB's and Amanda's ears off when they talked to me one-on-one because when I get disconcerted or nervous, I tend to blather on at great length, only pausing to catch my breath when I start to feel a bit dizzy. I keep having to remember--it's not all about me.

You'd think a kid who grew up with his father career military and moving around a lot wouldn't have these hang-ups. And when I was younger, it was easier. I think part of it is I got very comfortable in Knoxville--it was the only place I've ever lived more than four plus years....and I was so used to the nuances and dyanmics of the group I was involved with there that I got a bit more rooted than I normally tend to do in one place. (It doesn't hurt that God's House is in the city either...:) )

It's difficult sometimes to get outside of our comfort zone. I know I struggle with it and I'm working on it.

This group dynamic and coming in as the outsider is something that has been weighing on my mind a good bit lately. I've been thinking and praying about the decision to change churches. The one I am currently attended just isn't meeting my spiritual needs and I really feel like it's time for a change. Part of me gets excited because it's a change and there are endless new possiblities. But part of me also gets nervous because it's new and different and how will I fit in or will I fit in? It's easy to go to my church on Sunday and during the week and people know who I am and I have a certain place within the dynamic of the church family. I know the nuances and textures...I know the in-jokes as it were. I can reference my love of UT sports in passing and people get it. But if I go to a new group, they don't know that I bleed orange (well, unless they drop by the blog) and such. It's been a difficult decision for me and something that has weighed on my heart and mind a good bit in the past couple of weeks. There is nothing necessarily bad or wrong with the church I attend--but it's not meeting what I need or want a majority of the time. There are flashes of it in there from time to time...

Anyway, I guess you could say I'm a bit nervous or feel uneasy by this as I've blathered on about this for a good bit now and am now talking in circles. So, I'll wrap it up and thank y'all for reading.

And a big shout out to the crew I went to the movie with last night. Thanks! Y'all are awesome and I hope to see y'all again to hang out soon!

posted by Michael Hickerson at 11/20/2005 11:48:00 AM | |
Saturday, November 19, 2005
Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!!!!!!!!!!!
If you need me, I'll be in grief counselling until the next football season starts.

I'd go look for a bridge to jump off, but I bet the guys who run the Music City Bowl are there already since Tennessee cannot get bowl eligible and won't be able to play in that game.

Such hope to start the season and now....yeah, I'm pretty bummed out and depressed about the whole thing.

On a sportsman-like note, congrats to those visitors who pull for Vanderbilt on your team's big win. Celebrate and enjoy--I know y'all deserve to be happy and pleased with the victory.

Now, if you'll excuse me....the break from grief counselling is about over and I need to get back to it.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 11/19/2005 03:29:00 PM | |
Friday, November 18, 2005
Vols vs Vandy
So, it's Tennessee vs Vanderbilt tomorrow at high noon and a half eastern time. Vanderbilt rolls into Neyland Stadium on a six game losing streak and out of bowl contention. As it is every year, this is Vandy's bowl game. But the question I have is--which team will show up to play Tennessee? Will it be the one that couldn't get out of their own way fast enough in the first half against Kentucky (please, let it be them) or will it be that one that had confidence early in the year and beat Arkansas on the road on a 4th quarter drive to end game (please, let them have got permanently lost on I-40)?

Funny thing is, I keep hearing how this is a rivallry game. Except really since 1982, it hasn't been that much of a rivallry. Part of a rivallry is that the other team in the contest has to actually fear they could lose to you. And last time I looked, Vandy hadn't won since Reagan was in office. So not exactly putting a lot of fear into the Vols. Of course, in a lot of those cases, Vandy was just playing out a string and the Vols were fighting for a bowl position. Big difference this year--the Vols have to win against Vandy and Kentucky to go bowling at a mid-range to low level bowl. So, suddenly Vandy has some motivation--OK, more than usual. Let's spoil Tennessee's bowl streak, ruin senior day for the Vols and end the season on a win.

Honestly, had Vandy beat Kentucky last week, I'd be a lot more worried. I still think this could be a good game and if (heaven forbid) it comes down to the 4th quarter, the Vols could be behind the eight ball. Outside of LSU, have we done anything in the 4th quarter this year? I mean besides having our rears handed to us....

And just to show you how little I understand of Vegas odds, I still have no clue as to how Vanderbilt is a 12-point underdog to Tennessee. Three to five, I can see that. But 12 points?!? The Vols only beat Ole Miss by double-digits this year. I guess since last week's game was only on pay-per-view and then CSS on Monday night, the Vegas guys didn't see that we barely got past Memphis. You know, if I were Vandy, I'd take that 12 points as a slap in the face, much as Tennesee did being 14 point underdogs to Florida in the Swamp in '01. (And we all remember how that one turned out).

I don't mean to dog my team, but there are some definite trends against us tomorrow. But one trend for us--we've beat Vandy for the past 20 plus years and I think when it all comes down to it, that monkey will climb firmly up on Vandy's back in the end and the Vols will keep our bowl dreams alive for another week.

My prediction: UT 24, Vanderbilt 20

posted by Michael Hickerson at 11/18/2005 02:01:00 PM | |

Can't we just agree to disagree?
My good friend, Barry has a lengthy, well-written post about protestors in Knoxville coming out for the groundbreaking of the new Howard Baker Center for Public Policy at UT. Vice-president Dick Cheney came to give a speech, honoring Baker during which the protestors heckled Cheney. The Knoxville News-Sentinnel called it, "disrespectful to both men."

Barry goes on to make some very interesting and well-reasoned points about protestors in general. I recommend the article to you. Go over and give it a read...I'll be here when you get back.

Back?

In thinking about what Barry wrote, a few thoughts struck me.

In thinking about the situation of the different sides of the political aisle, I found myself thinking about rivallries in sports. Interestingly enough, this is rivallry weekend with Auburn playing Alabama and Michigan playing Ohio State. In both cases--sport and politics--you have parties on both sides who are passionately in support of their team or their cause.

Now, as most of you know, I'm a huge UT fan. I pretty much see the world through orange tinted glasses and I want all things to go the Vols' way. (Hence why this year has been a huge disappointment to me football wise...) As a Vols fan, I have certain teams that I enjoy disliking and I always enjoy it when UT beats them--namely, Florida, Georgia and Alabama (sorry, LB). My wanting to defeat these schools in sports goes beyond just football....I want to win in basketball, baseball, soccer, track and field, pick-up sticks, whatever it takes.

I root against these teams. However, I do understand that they have their fans who are just as passionate about their team as I am about the Vols and want to see their team beat us as much as I'd like to see us beat them. But I'm not so rabid a fan that I can't get along with people who pull for other teams. So we disagree on who should win the big game one weekend a year. The other 51 weeks a year, we can get along. And I can even lay aside my bitter dislike of certain teams come bowl time just because as an SEC fan, I want to see my conference represent itself well on the national stage. (Well, except for Spurrier, but that's because I love watching him throw the visor and be frustrated)

But I know some fans out there who can't see beyond that. Most of them call into sports call-in shows. Many of them must have the numbers on speed dial and some of them will jump from one station to the next around the state are region expressing their viewpoint to anyone who will listen. (I've heard it happen locally during the drive-time...one station will get a caller, talk to him and go to commericals so I flip over to another station to hear the same caller making the same point on a different station).

It seems to me that we've forgotten how to agree to disagree. To accept and consider the fact that the other side of the aisle or stadium has a viewpoint and that they are just as entitled to have their viewpoint as you are to have yours. So often I hear rhetoric fly back and forth in blogs and on call-in shows where people have forgotten the other person is a human being as well. Instead of considering that maybe the other person might have sat down, considered a variety of factors and considering that a person's world view might be shaped by his or her experiences, we are quick to decry them as the enemy and to treat them as an enemy.

Or to forget how to be civil. I certainly know that not everyone will agree with everything I say or do. But you know, I respect that. And I ask the same respect in return.

Freedom of speech is one of the great freedoms of our country. But to paraphrase Spider-Man comic books, "With great freedom comes great responsiblity." Yes, we are all entitled to our right to express what we feel, but we are also blessed with brains to maybe discern the best time and place to do it. I certainly don't fault the protestors for coming out and making their feelings known about Chaney or the war in Iraq. What I do take issue with is how you say it and when it's said. I feel that heckling him during the speech on a megaphone shows a great deal of disrepect and shows an overall selfish attitude. Consider how you'd feel if it were Bill Clinton up there talking about Al Gore and I'd come out and done the same thing? Would you be upset or irritated with me? Probably so--and rightly so. Showing common courtesy, decency and respect should be a given, but in this day and age, it seems as if it's the exception rather than the rule. As I said back when the protestors showed up in Smyrna at a soldier's funeral--I have no problem with them being for or against the war and wanting to show their support to either side. What I did take umbrage with was how the time and place they chose to do it. Same thing here in Knoxville. I think you can protest and make your feelings known all you want before the speech and after it. But during a speech that honors a person's work and who he is and has nothing to do with the issue being protested, please show some respect.

It seems so often that we forget the golden rule of treating others how we'd like to be treated. I think part of it is that it's them or us attitude that is pervading things these days. So often I seem to hear that we can decide this way or that way but we can't come down in the middle. I support some of the things Geroge W. Bush has done since he took office, others I am not so fond of. But yet, there are some who'd say I'm a traitor becuase I don't unequiovacally support Bush in every little thing he does, from the way he takes his coffee to his decision on foreign policy. Interestingly enough, I read blogs of people who I disagree with about certain things and then I will meet them in person and we can get along. We agree to disagree and don't let it affect us being civil and possibly even friends.

I will even go so far as to say that I don't always agree with everything my best friend Barry says in his blog or in person. And I know he and I will never see eye to eye on Doctor Who. But that does not stop up from being friends--have been for almost 15 years now. We agree to disagree and we work from there. We can debate things in an intelligent manner without getting up in arms and sounding like my two-year old nephew Davis, who gets in a mood to say "No" or "Yes" to any question you ask him, regardless of what it is.

But yet, Barry and I still get along and have 15 years of friendship to show for it.

As Barry pointed out in a response to my comments on his blog, it's different to disagree on a football team than a political stage. No one's life is as directly impacted by sports as it by politics (well, that guy in Bama who asked for a new car after Bama was lost to Auburn and his dad shot him is the exception). But in both cases, I think we've lost some of our abilty to agree to disagree. And I think we need to take a moment, step back from the debate and put ourselves in the shoes of the person on the other side of the aisle. And to treat people on that ohter side like we'd want to be treated. We can all get along...it just takes works by all sides to do it.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 11/18/2005 08:40:00 AM | |
Thursday, November 17, 2005
New description line
After a year and a half, I decided to tweak my blog description line a bit. I am sort of sitting back and weighing it in comparison to the old one....

Any thoughts by my regular vistors? And if you lurk, come on out of hiding and leave a comment...

posted by Michael Hickerson at 11/17/2005 03:35:00 PM | |

Church Sign
Image hosted by Photobucket.com

Make your own sign here!

posted by Michael Hickerson at 11/17/2005 11:07:00 AM | |

TV Round-Up
Lost: The Other 48 Days
So, we "super-sized" Lost for this?

In 65 minutes (actually less removing commercials), we find out what happened to the survivors from the tail of the plane during their 48 days on the island. Not a huge batch of surprises here since Ana Lucia pretty much gave us a timeline of what happened in the last couple of episodes. I'm not sure if knowing on which day the Others would show up and terrorize the camp of this grou of survivors helped or hindered the suspense. In a way, it was almost like going into Episode III for the first time--knowing that Anakin is going to fall to the dark side and instead of getting caught up in the story unfolding, you keep wondering, "OK, so is this going to be how he falls?"

Basically, we find out that it was like Club Med over on the other side of the island for our heroes and pretty much a battle for survival on the other side of the island. They had their own version of Ethan, who was spying on the group, but for what purpose? We sort of had the idea that the Others were interested in Claire and her baby in season one but we weren't sure just why. But now, it seems as though the Others want to have all the children from the flight for some reason. Is it an attempt to win over new recruits for the wacky Dharma Iniative program, whatever that may be? Or could it be that they train the kids from a young age to perform the tasks such as hitting the buttons and following orders blindly? A conditioning, if you will, so the children become little more than robots who won't think outside the box, question orders or learn how to stand up to and question authority.

And it appears that the U.S. Army has possibly been involved since Ana Lucia finds an Army knife on the island. Which, yeah, I guess I can go with that, but I think the whole governmental conspiracy thing was done to death on The X-Files.

In a lot of ways, this was the Episode III of Lost. We knew where things had to go for the survivors from the tail of the plane, but we didn't necessarily know how they got there. It was interesting to see why this group had dug a pit to hold prisoners and just how the Others invaded the camp. We got a lot of focus on Ana Lucia, seeing her slowly accept the role as leader and how the burden of leading this group has fallen onto her shoulders. It's an interesting contrast to the arc that Jack's storyline has taken. Ana Lucia won't allow herself to be seen as weak in front of the group becuase they need her strength and assertiveness in order to survive. Or at least that's how she sees it. She eventually does allow the events to overwhelm her and lead to an emotional release--right before Jin, Michael and Sawyer show up. At this point, Ana has become a bit more hardened and less likely to trust anyone--probably becuase of her own failures and misplacing of trust. We see that she suspects Nathan of being the traitor and is prepared to cut off a finger to get him to confess. Then, out of left field, she figures out who the real traitor is. I am guessing she figured it out when he wanted to take the radio and contact help. So, why not take some help with you to fend this guy off should he turn out to be what you think he is? Here we see the contrast between our group of heroes and this set of survivors--when they were confronted with who and what Ethan was, they were able to band together and fight a common enemy. On this side of the island, the group doesn't trust one another and so it's up to Ana Lucia to be the action heroine of the story.

Certainly, I think we can all agree that this group had a hard time in their first 48 days. Now that we've seen how both groups have lived, it should be interesting to see what happens when they meet. I can see how the tailies would be a bit bitter that our group had had it almost Club Med like in comparison. But I can see our heroes being a little bit annoyed that they've brought the spectre of the Others down upon them. Maybe it was going to happen, but is the two groups merging speeding up the process for Jack and company having to deal with the Others?

Also, I find it interesting that so far this season, we've only covered about five days of time on the island. Going back and re-treading the same group multiple times hasn't helped that much. I guess what I'm saying is--yes, these five or so days are huge, but I think it's time we actually pushed out of this week from hell and started having some new things happen. And now that we've got through the establishment of the other group and the two tribes are merging, maybe we'll have some forward momentum to the plot.

Veronica Mars: Nobody Puts Baby in a Corner
I hate to say it, but this was the first disappointing Veronica Mars episode of the year. It just lacked the zip and zing of the first few episodes this year.

Not that it was terrible, mind you. It just didn't quite live up to the standard set by the first six or so stories this year.

Duncan comes to Veronica with some disturbing information he's found from the files on Meg's hard drive. Meg was baby-sitting a kid who was being abused and working with social services to report the parents. Duncan asks Veronica to look into it and Veronica does, working with a couple of families who are a bit controlling of their kids and seem to be those parents who think kids should be accessories and not actually kids, but there isn't much sinister going on. It's creepy but not necessarily abuse. Veronica investigates several boys, stealing homework of theirs to compare handwriting samples. She and Duncan then break into Meg's house and get the notebook that Meg references in her e-mails. Seems it could be a girl's handwriting and before you know it, we find out it's Meg's little sister in danger, being locked into a small room off her closet while Mom and Dad are out at church. The family returns home to find Veronica and Duncan red-handed in the room and Lamb shows up to arrest them. In the end, Lamb come back, finds the room and lets Veronica and Duncan go without a word and the show closes with Lamb's car outside Meg's house. It does make me wonder if Lamb will use this secret that he's uncovered to secure his position further in the community. Or if Veronica now owes Lamb a favor for looking the other way and when or if he'll call the favor in?

Meanwhile, Kendall finds out she has no way to continue the lifestyle she's used to now that Dick, Sr has fled the country. She goes to Logan to see if he'll be her sugar daddy and then even tries to seduce Duncan into being her sugar daddy. I have to admit, this plotline was a whole lot more intriguing to me becuase it makes me wonder how far Kendall will go to insure her lifestyle of trophy wife. There is a kind of weird bit where Dick, Jr tries to get chummy with Kendall once their mother releases the trust funds for he and Beaver.

And Steve Guttenberg lays out his plan to incorporate Neptune and have Keith be the chief of police for him.

I have a feeling a lot of bit hints were dropped about where things could go this season and beyond during the episode. This may be one that gets better on second viewing when we see what exactly was being set up and get the payoff to it. I do admit I found the whole plotline of Logans asks Veronica for help to be intriguging but it never went anywhere. I am guessing from the preview that this plotline continues next week.

But for now, I didn't come away from this episode loving it like I have other episodes this year. Which is OK because even a great show is entitled to a just OK episode every now and again. Let's just not make a habit of it....

posted by Michael Hickerson at 11/17/2005 07:26:00 AM | |
Wednesday, November 16, 2005
Some Lost Tidbits
Tonight is the first post-big-death episode of Lost and it's supposed to focus on the first 48 days of the survivors from the tail of flight 815. Oh yeah, and it's supposed to run five minutes longer than a normal episode, meaning if you set the VCR or TiVO to record it and didn't include those five or so minutes, you'll be screaming in frustration. Luckily, I set my VCR so I'd get the full episode should the real world intrude and I not make it home on time for the episode. (I'm one of those fans who won't come in half-way through and start watching.)

Today's USA Today has a profile of new castmember Michelle Rodriguez and tells us the producers want us to hate her character and then slowly grow to love Ana Lucia as the season progresses. Sort of like Sawyer last year. Now, if were Michelle, I'd be a bit worried. Last time we had a major article in USA Today talking about an actress and her character, it was Shannon and we all know what happened to her.

And if you want some vaguely specific clues about where the show might be going, check out today's Ask Ausiello column at TVGuide.com.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 11/16/2005 01:59:00 PM | |

Let's mock the fainter...
I think I've blogged before about my general lack of love of getting shots and my tendency to pass out after the shot has occurred. A while back, a doctor told me it was "needle phobia" and I should explain it to any medical professional who gave me a shot so that it wouldn't be a complete surprise to everyone but me if I passed out.

So, yesterday, the Y had flu and pneumonia shots. I signed up, paid my $60 for both shots and got in line. I made sure to avoid looking into the room where the shots were being given as I waited my turn. I also tried to think happy thoughts like when the hell are we gonna get to the world of Star Trek where they have hypos that don't require a needle to give you a blessed shot?!?

My turn finally arrives and I walk in. I tell the nurse I would prefer to sit down while I had my shot (turns out it was shots, one in each arm!) because I have needle phobia and sometimes pass out after having a shot. At this point, I was sort of expecting maybe a bit of compassion from the nurse, who instead said, "You're kidding, right?" Yeah, nothing like your great phobia being sarcasm material for trained medical professionals. Seriously, if Seinfeld were still on, I'd bet they could make a character based on me who Elaine could date and she'd dump him becuase he was a "fainter."

Anyway, I take off my shirt, drag a chair over and sit down. During this, I try to explain to the nurse without looking like a complete and total wimp, that I prefer to not know when I'm getting my shots. Just talk to me about the weather, the Vols, the Protestant Reformation, whatever it takes to keep me distracted from the fact that a NEEDLE IS GOING INTO MY BODY! So, what does she do? She tells me--well, you'll feel a small prick, but it's nothing to worry about. Don't tense up and you should be fine.

Yeah, the way to get me to not tense up is to not have me be aware the shot is being administered. I can look the other way and talk about other stuff and I'm just fine, generally.

So, I get both shots and I feel actually OK. Not running and skipping the hills are alive with the sound of music great but OK. I thank the nurse and start to put my shirt back on when in comes the woman who had us fill out forms and took our money. The nurse goes, "This guy here needs a few extra seconds as he has needle phobia" and the money-collector goes, "Well, we gotta hurry it up because we've had more people that we expected and there's a line out here."

Now, I could have hurried, but I honestly refuse to pass out just to make their lives easier. I did go outside so someone else could get a shot and sat down in a chair for a minute or two just to be sure. No waves of dizziness hit me, no shortness of breath, none of that. Just a sense of irritation, really.

But it's over now and I will admit, my arms are both a bit sore from the shot. I tried to not tense up cause the nurse kept telling me not to be tense, which only made me actually tense up more. Hopefully this will soon go away or at least get worked out when I swim this afternoon. Either that or it will feel like my arms are falling off, one of the two.

On a more positive note, Mallard Filmore continues to give the love to Veronica Mars, which airs tonight. Reading the strip today, I was reminded of my good friend, John from over at Salem's Lots.

Posted by Picasa


posted by Michael Hickerson at 11/16/2005 07:35:00 AM | |
Tuesday, November 15, 2005
I Just Don't Understand....
Freddie gets a full-season order but yet the genius that is Arrested Development can't find an audience....

And right now, no sign of Scrubs coming back anytime soon....

Rats!

posted by Michael Hickerson at 11/15/2005 02:17:00 PM | |

A Tailgate Party for the Dogs (and Cats)
Growing up, I had a book with a collection of Dennis the Menace cartoons. One of the cartoons in the book featured Dennis and his father hanging up a calendar that featured a woman in a swimsuit with a dog. The caption was something like, "Why yes, Dennis, that is a cute dog." Meanwhile, Dad's eyes were clearly focused elsewhere.

I was reminded of that cartoon this afternoon flipping through today's City Paper. I came across the photo below, that features Dusty the dog along with Denise, a Titans' cheerleader.


Win a tailgate party with Dusty and his owner!Posted by Picasa

Seems that Denise and Dusty are taking part in a tailgate party for pet lovers in a few weeks. It's part of a contest on AnimalAttraction.com, an on-line community and dating site for pet-lovers. You can surf over and enter to the win the contest and the first 1000 entries will have a $1 donated to a local pet shelter.

The Titans aren't the only team participating in this endeavor. There will also be similiar tailgate parties for lucky fans/winners in Buffalo, D.C., Baltimore, Atlanta and Oakland.


The Titans Cheerleaders and pets you could be tailgating with if you win.


posted by Michael Hickerson at 11/15/2005 01:51:00 PM | |

A Day Late and a Dollar Short
Remember those epiosdes of Star Trek where a member of the crew would wake-up one day and find the whole ship or station had somehow slightly and maddingly changed around them and they couldn't quite put their finger on how it had or happened or why? Yeah, that pretty much sums up my day, so far.

Really, it started last night when I was 30 seconds away from getting a bike in power cycling when the person who'd signed up for the bike showed up at the last possible second. Seriously--why make a reservation to show up five minutes late? Does being on time mean nothing anymore?!? She was teasing me...teasing me, I tell you!

This morning, I woke up around 3 a.m. and had that good feeling of--ha, ha, I get to sleep some more!

This euphoria was quickly dispelled when I woke up what seemed like five, maybe ten minutes later to find out--holy cow, I've overslept! Yep, pretty much my day has been wacky and downhill ever since. Basically, it's one of those things were I had the day planned to go like this, this and this and now it's more like this, than and the otherthing. Oh yeah, and I'm getting a flu shot this afternoon, which is definitely not my idea of fun as I hate shots, but I also hate the concept of getting the flu.

I think the whole flu shot thing is why I feel so off today.

But the good news is--the Publix in Smryna is having some kind of wander the store and eat free food thing from 4 to 8 this afternoon, so I definitely plan to stop by and take advange of that. (In a related story: Why do I think I will be the only person with this brilliant idea?) And, at least we've got new Gilmore Girls and House tonight, so that can't be a bad thing, right?

Oh and Mallard Filmore is talking about Veronica Mars today. Seriously, if you're not watching Ms. Mars, you should. (And before you ask--yes, I have the DVDs but there's a waiting list...LOL)

Today's Mallard Filmore..more love for Veronica Mars! Posted by Picasa


posted by Michael Hickerson at 11/15/2005 12:57:00 PM | |
Monday, November 14, 2005
Tag! I'm it! (Again!)
A couple of days ago, my good friend Tish tagged me to play a new blogging game. It goes a little something like this...

1. FLIP open a dictionary and point to a word.
2. Type the word into Google images.
3. PICK an image that strikes you.
4. Write a 10 line RIFF off the image.
5. Use the word or the meaning of the word at least once within the first 5 lines of your riff.
6. Tag 3 other bloggers on your list.

OK, so I don't have a dictionary with me right now and if I keep procrastinating, I will never do it. So I picked up one of the books I'm reading, opened to a random page and closing my eyes pointed to a word. The word I got was: blurred

So, here's my image:

Blurred background Posted by Picasa


And now, my riff on it...

Charlie had been waiting all day for a moment alone with Claire. The entire day had blurred by--from getting up, to getting to the church on-time, to the seemingly thousands of pictures he'd had made of himself with friends and family members he barely recognized. Claire had been old-fashioned, not allowing him to see her before the wedding and he had no clue what her dress looked like. As he'd stood in front of the church, watching the bridesmaid come in, he'd felt nervous and yet excited all at the same time. Then, the doors closed and the first few notes of that familiar song played. Doors opened and suddenly, there she was....radiant. The afternoon sun caught on her hair and Charlie felt his breath taken away as he saw his bride slowly coming toward him. It was like a dream, he thought as tears blurred his eyes.

Before he knew it, the ceremony was over and they'd gone out together. More pictures, more relatives.

So this is what it feels like to hounded by paparazi, Charlie thought to himself. At the reception, he and Claire had been pulled this way and that by well-wishers--friends, family, loved ones. Together but surrounded by everyone, no time to say anything.

At last the DJ began to play the song they'd chosen for their first dance. Charlie swept Claire into his arms.

"You look amazing," he said. "I am so happy and so in love with you."

Clair smiled. Charlie grinned as they danced, their friends slowly filling in the dance floor around them. But to Charlie, there was no one else there but he and Claire, as he knew it would be for the rest of their lives....

OK, I went a bit longer than the five lines, but hey....no one has ever accused me of not being long-winded.

So, now I get to tag three people to play. Tish already tagged Barry, so I'm gonna go with LB, Kathryn C and Dana. And, of course, any of the rest of you who wanna play are welcome to join in the fun.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 11/14/2005 02:03:00 PM | |

Is it just me?
Or does Monday seem a little more bleak without the potential of new Arrested Development tonight?

I know that the show isn't exactly to everyone's tastes, but damn if I didn't find it always entertaining, witty and funny as get-out.

But the geniuses at FOX have pulled it for November sweeps and shortened the season order. Which means, in all likelihood, that we won't see any of the rest of the produced episodes. Oh well, I guess we can wait for DVDs.

I swear, were it not for House and 24, I'd give up on FOX....

posted by Michael Hickerson at 11/14/2005 10:48:00 AM | |

A little love for Veronica Mars...

Today's Mallard Filmore Posted by Picasa

I'll come out and admit it--I love Veronica Mars. I don't really see why this would be a "problem."

posted by Michael Hickerson at 11/14/2005 07:37:00 AM | |
Sunday, November 13, 2005
Well, we won...
So, I was out and about, running errands yesterday and listening to the Tennessee vs Memphis game on the radio (no way was I pay $30 to see it on pay-per-view, esp. as dismally as we played...) I stopped in at a local call dealership for a test drive and an attempt to get me to take one home that afternoon and in that short span of time, the Vols fell behind 13-0. I nearly drove off the road when I heard that, which would do exactly zip for the trade-in value of my car.

I then heard how we came back in the 2nd quarter to go ahead and then fought like mad to win the game. You know, listening to the game, I am glad I couldn't see it becuase I'd probably have been throwing down my Tennessee hat that I've had since Peyton's second season a lot. It was frustrating as all get out and the bad part is--the defense seemed to have given up at times. That's been our strong suit all year and yesterday it sounded lackluster. I plan to try and catch some of the game on the CSS repeat tomorrow night and see for myself how we looked. I imagine it's not pretty.

It brings up a point that I've always argued...why is UT bothering to play middle tier teams like Memphis and MTSU? Yes, they're in-state but it's a pretty much no-win for UT. See, if (heaven forbid) the Vols lost to either team, then it makes their season and probably decade. It we win, it's because hey--we're UT and we're supposed to. Yeah, sure recruiting can be a factor, I guess...but honestly, the effort we put out yesterday and in previous efforts against Memphis ain't exactly gonna win a lot of recruits over to our side....

posted by Michael Hickerson at 11/13/2005 11:53:00 AM | |
Friday, November 11, 2005
Granddaddy
I never saw a purple cow,
I never hope to see one
But I can tell you this right now
I'd rather see than be one.

Growing up, Grandaddy loved to recite that poem to me. I'm not quite sure what the origin of it is--not the poem, but why Granddaddy liked to recite to us. I do remember he'd recite it a variety of ways--putting a different inflection here, a different candence there, sometimes delivering in an almost Shatner-like way. But after he was done, he'd always have a big smile.

In fact, he liked the poem so much that I found a transfer of a purple cow and stained a piece of wood and put it on there for him. He still had it hanging in his kitchen when we moved his stuff last weekend. There's also a charicature of Grandaddy out playing golf and a purple cow it out behind him as he tees off. That too was hanging up in his place when we packed things up last weekend and we've got it somewhere now in a box, sealed up and well protected.

Granddaddy loved to play golf. He still loves to snooze through it when it's on TV. He used to play five days a week. He'd walk all 18 holes a couple of times a week. I remember this because a while back, Grandmother had a heart attack, went to the hosptial and had to have a by-pass operation. After Grandmother got better, Granddaddy decided he should have his heart checked as well. So he went in for tests. The doctors wouldn't let him leave. He was scheduled for immediate triple by-pass surgery. The doctors told him and us that he had a strong heart from just walking those 18 holes of golf each day and that helped prevent his having a heart attack and assisted in his recovery. I often think about that on those days when I feel like not bothering with swimming or working out. People who know me and ask why I'm so addicted to my lap swimming have heard that story, probably more than once.

Granddaddy fought in World War II. He did see some action and he seldom talks about it. In the 8th grade, one of my classes had a project that required you to interview your grandparents. At the time, I was blessed to have all four of my grandparents around and I mailed off the interview sheets to each of them. I remember getting them back and reading them. The most eye-opening was Granddaddy's. He talked about things from the war he'd never spoken to us about before. He told us the story of being in combat and a buddy of his stepping on a land mine not more than five feet from him and being gone. The story was interesting as even Grandmother hadn't heard it. I've still got that report tucked away in a safe place...to have the memories of my grandparents in their own words and their own handwriting is priceless to me.

In that report, each of the grandparents was asked the question, "What are the good old days to you?"

Granddaddy's answer is one that has stuck with me. His answer was that the good old days are today. It's not some mythical time in the past, but it's about today--being with family and friends. And that he loved these good old days and was enjoying each one as much as he could. There are times when I see him now and I remember the man he was--smart, able-bodies and quick as a whip. And then I see him how he is now...a shadow of the man. And I hope and pray that he's having a good old day today...and then I wonder--am I? Am I trying to make today a good old day? I know I've blogged about this before--basically going Dead Poet's Society and doing the Carpe Diem thing. But lately I do wonder if I'm doing it...or am I just existing and not really living.

Interestingly, as I blog these memories of my grandfather, it's Veteran's Day. I can't say I planned it this way, but I'm happy that it worked out this way. I think of the sacrfices he and his family made to serve our country and it makes me proud of him...and then proud of all those men and women who served and who continue to serve today. I am thankful he made it through alive and so I could know him.

I'm happy I've had the chance to get to know all my grandparents. Each has taught me something special and different. Each has shown me how loved I am in a variety of ways. I hear of people who grew up not knowing their grandparents and I realize how blessed I am. Granddaddy is the old grandparent I left who is still with us and he has good days and bad days. But I'm glad he's still here. Even if it's just for me to go over and nap through a Titan's game with....

posted by Michael Hickerson at 11/11/2005 02:38:00 PM | |

HoloSpec Glasses
I stopped by BlockBuster the other evening--part of my free trial period of BlockBuster's on-line service was a coupon for buy one pre-viewed DVD get one for five bucks. (Wouldn't you know it, I found three I ended up flinging down cash for?!?)

Anyway, while waiting for assistance ringing up my new prizes, I saw they had a display of these HoloSpec glasses. The display had Christmas lights around it and said to try them out, so I did. Now, I have no idea how these things work, but they look like the 3-D glasses you'd put on at places like SeaWorld. But you put them on and look at the Christmas lights and you can see little things like a snowflakes, stars, Christmas trees, etc. in the lights. I have to admit this is a pretty cool technological advance.

Not so cool that I plunked down $1.99 plus tax for a set of them, mind you....

posted by Michael Hickerson at 11/11/2005 12:27:00 PM | |
Thursday, November 10, 2005
New Cybermen look revealed...
With just over a month until we get to see the first episode of the 10th Doctor debut, the official BBC web site has released a photo of what the new Cybermen will look like....


The new look of the Cybermen. Posted by Picasa


All I can say is--interesting design. A nice combo of the 60s Cybermen and the 80s Cybermen.

Man, I can't wait for the new season of Doctor Who....

posted by Michael Hickerson at 11/10/2005 12:11:00 PM | |

TV Round-Up
Lost: Abandoned
After weeks, possibly months of rumor and speculation on who would be leaving the cast of Lost this season (it got so big the New York Times even ran a long article about it yesterday), the big episode is finally here--one of the castaways will be lost forever. But the question is--who will it be? Thanks to the ABC promo department, we knew it was potentially one of three characters--Sawyer, Ana-Lucia or Shannon. By process of elimination, I knew Sawyer couldn't go since the rumors had been comfirmed that a female cast member was leaving (plus the legion of female Sawyer fans would riot in the streets, much the same way I would have had it been Kate shuffling off this mortal coil). I also figured it couldn't really Ana Lucia, because why go to all the trouble of bringing her in, trying to establish her character and giving her some chemistry with Sawyer only to kill her off immediately. So, that really only left Shannon as the castaway who could be lost in the course of the episode.

And from the start, you could pretty much tell Shannon was doomed. First of all, the flashbacks focused on her which isn't necessarily a death knell on this show. But to make matters worse, she finally gets a few moments of happiness, consumating her relationship with Sayid and then him telling her that he loves her. Yeah, at that point, I pretty much figured it was time for Shannon to whip out a red-shirt because she was pretty much gonna be on the business end of a phaser by story's end. Of course, this was only about three or so minutes from the end, so it's not like she had to wear the red-shirt all that long really.

Now, by process of elimination, I pretty much figured that Shannon was red-shirting it the entire episode. So instead of the speculation on who was going to die, I could now sit back and enjoy the ride of how we get to the death.

And I've got to admit--my reaction to Lost this week was the same as my reaction to Gilmore Girls on Tuesday. We had about 40 minutes of treading water to get to the point where in the last 20 or so minutes things actually start to happen and plots are finally progressed forward. Isn't it interesting that bad things seem to happen to Shannon after she's been screwed--in the literal and metaphorical sense? Follow me on this one. In the flashbacks, she gets screwed by her step-mom out of her inheritance, thus closing off an avenue to follow her dream at an internship in New York. In the flashback last year, Shannon and Boone got together and then boarded flight 815 and now look where we've ended up. Then, last night, she and Sayid enjoy an evening in the hut and before you know it, Shannon has shot in the stomach by Ana Lucia. I'm just saying--it's an interetsing pattern and probably one that only I saw because I'm just weird like that.

One question I had watching the flashbacks--how did we get from the relatively sweet, well-adjusted Shannon of the flashbacks to the more self-absorbed Shannon we saw in last year's flashback story and the first couple of days on the island. (Recalll if you will, this is the woman who refused to eat the candy bar at first, instead preferring to eat on the boat when they were rescued). I guess we may never really find out since, well, she's dead and there won't likely be anymore flashbacks to fill in these details. It'd be easy to say that Shannon's death of her dream at the hands of the wicked step-mother could have caused this, but that seems too obvious a plotline and train of thought for the show to follow. One of the things I've like about Lost (well, besides nearly-naked Kate) is the complexity of the characters. Yes, at times, the backstories and character stuff can get a bit predictable (Sun and Jin's story last time) but the series at least seems to be trying to surprise us a bit from time to time with how certain things develop. So, maybe we'll find out more about Shannon's descent from a nice young lady to the spiteful and just plain contakerous woman we saw in the flashbacks last year.

But, I'm not holding my breath on that one. You add in a whole new set of castaways, all of whom need some good backstory time and I bet Shannon gets lost in the shuffle.

Which is ironically what her character had been this year. I found myself wondering--did Shannon actually find the bottle in the previous episodes? Or were the writers inserting that bit of trivia in there to give her some reason to really believe that she's seen Walt? And now that Walt has potentially led Shannon to her death, do his appearances now take on a whole new and sinister context?

I guess we'll see.

Meanwhile, there's a whole new level of tension being brought into camp. Seems to me that Sayid ain't gonna welcome Ana Lucia with open arms, what with her killing his girlfriend and all. The trek across the island was interesting as we slowly find out a few more tidbits of why the tail passengers are so skittish and untrusting. I have to wonder if when they find our group of heroes and find out the Others have left them pretty much alone, if they're not going to be a bit bitter about the whole thing. I hope we have some continued conflict between these two tribes and we don't all become one big happy family. There are some ugly wounds here that may never be truly healed.

And I will give Lost some credit--or maybe this is my own ignorance, you decide. When I heard the gunshot, my first thought was--who fired the gun? I never put two and two together to think it would be Ana Lucia until we had the dramatic pullback to see her holding the gun, looking shocked at what she'd done. So, Lost, I will give you some credit--you sucked me and totally pulled the wool over my eyes on that one. Not easy to do and definitely appreciated.

Meanwhile, in the subplot that just seemed to fill time but I am sure will pay dividends down the road--Locke gives parenting tips to Claire and finds out that Charlie has one of the Virgin Mary statues from the ungle full of heroin. This leads to one of those great TV conversations where one person knows more than he's telling and tries to confront the other about it without letting the first one know that he knows. They got literally every episode of Three's Company out of this wacky fun, but there it was played for hilarity and here it's played for dramatic tension. Yeah, except not so much. I think it would have been interesting to see Locke keep an eye on Charlie more rather than just coming out and lobbing a grenade in the conversation.

And we Rose makes an appearnce as well. I have to hope the reunion with Bernard will be worth the build-up. Though at this point, I have to wonder if will be nearly as good as any of us have hoped it would be. I mean, that has to be one killer scene or else we're all going to be a bit disappointed.

If you're a Lost-aholic and want to read some more analysis and a different insight on the episode (including the theory that Libby is the Taillies equivalent of Ethan and why) surf on over to EWs' wrap-up. Also, USA Today's Whitney Matheson's blog has a running comment thread on the epiosde.

Veronica Mars: Rat Saw God
So, how do you make Big Orange Michael giddy as a schoolgirl to see a new episode of one of his favorite shows? OK, beyond having some nearly naked Kate footage...

You feature Joss Whedon in a guest star turn.

I have to admit it--the news that Joss was going to cameo on one of my new favorite shows was just way too exciting and then made me realize--you know what, I desparately need a life.

Suffice it to say, I was pretty intrigued and excited about last night's episode of Veronica Mars. And not just because Joss "The Man" Whedon was guest starring. It was because the show continues to get better and better, not only in the way the two mysteries of the season are unfolding but also in the way that this show sets character dynamics in motion and continues to evolve them. I love how the relationship Veronica has with each of the supporting characters continues to grow, change and evolve not only in the course of the series but in the course of an episode.

Abel Koontz comes back--his daughter, Amelia DeLongpre has gone missing and he wants to find her before he dies. Veronica tracks her down trying to figure out why a woman who got a payoff of $3.5 million six months ago would need to extort more money from the Kanes. In the end, we find out that Amelia has met with foul play due to a boyfriend who killed her and put her in the ice machine at a hotel that makes the Bates motel look nice. Wow, that was a cool moment (no pun intended) when Veronica dug into the ice and found Amelia....it was one of those great moments when you realize right as the character does where the body is. At least that's how it was for me. In the end, Veronica ends up lying to Abel to ease his last few days. Interesting that Veronica feels the need to lie to a father, after being caught in a lie of her own.

Keith finds out from Lamb that Veronica is keeping details of the bus crash from him, such as maybe he was the target. You had to love the scene where Keith goes down to the jail and tells Aaron Echols that if anything happens to Veronica, it's very easy for Keith to exact revenge on Aaron. It seems a bit too obvious to me that Aaron is behind the bus-crash--sort of in the same way that it got obvious in the first season of Lois and Clark that Lex was behind every villanious plot in Metropolis. Also, the scene of Veronica taking the motel paintings and putting them together to create an art gallery to send a digital photo to Keith was priceless.

And then, there's Logan. Logan gets hauled into jail again on charges of murdering Felix. He gets out of jail on bond and the already tense situation at Neptune High continues to escalate. Weevil burns down Logan's house, thus forcing Logan to move in with Duncan. On a side note, I had to love that Rob Thomas teased us in yesterday's TV Guide Insider that by episode's end, Veronica would end up in Logan's arms...and she literally does. That is a nice way to play the spoiler card and yet pull a bait and switch with your audience and the expectations.

Also, I am beginning to wonder whose undoing the bus crash will be--Lamb's or Keith's? It seems as if the investigation could get Keith into some trouble and maybe lose a lot of his credibility that he's just won back in Neptune. And now with his suspecting that Veronica was the target, will he become even more blind to how far he's going in investigating the accident?

posted by Michael Hickerson at 11/10/2005 07:39:00 AM | |
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