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Tuesday, February 28, 2006
I got tagged again!
Sarcastro tagged me for this meme about books. Since we all know I loooooooove books and can't get enough when it comes to the reading, I was excited to get to play along. (I also had this Sally Field like moment where I kept saying, "You like me, you really like me!")

[1]
Name 5 of your favorite books

The Stand - And not just that wimpy edited version. I'm talking the full, unexpigated version of the book. A perfect combination of all the elements that make Stephen King books great in one book. It's great. If you've only seen the mini-series, you are missing out!

The Bible - Yeah, it's an easy answer. But you know what, I love reading it, studying it, digging into it, reading more about it. I'm fascinated by it, engaged by it, and I can hear God speaking directly to me through it. It's got it all and more.

Dune - Considered by many to be the greatest sci-fi novel ever written and its hard to argue. Dune is one of those books where a small plot point on page three will come back into play on page 189 or even in the next book beyond it. What Frank Herbert did was create a living, breathing universe with living, breathing characters. He also assumed the reader was smart enough to keep up with things and not have to recap events every 100 pages. If you've only seen the movies, go and read the book!

Caves of Steel - Sure, Issac Asimov wrote those Foundation books and they're good. But I far prefer the Robot trilogy to the Foundation. The story of Lije Bailey and R. Daneel Olivaw is great stuff. It's part sci-fi, part mystery and a great read. Asimov deals with predjuice and actually has real characters inhabit his pages. This along with Naked Sun and Robots of Dawn mark a trilogy of books I'd both love and hate to see made into movies.

New Frontier seires - I love Peter David's Trek novels. I'd have to say Imzadi is on of those great books that if you like TNG, you just have to read. Q Squared is also good. But I will say that I adore his own little corner of the Trek universe in the New Frontier series. I eagerly await each next installment and then have to force myself to not read it too quickly. But it's crack with pages, I tell you. I just can't stop. And sure these aren't great literature and years from now, no one will sit around debating their merits. But who cares? David's writing style and his characters win the day and part of it is the memories of how much I enjoyed each installment the first time I read it. That's part of what counts in the reading--the process and the experience .

[2] What was the last book you bought?

Star Trek: New Frontier - Missing in Action. Yeah, I have it on reserve at the library, but it was sitting in the bookstore, begging me for a good home...and that new book smell gets me every time.

[3] What was the last book you read?
Just a Geek by Wil Wheaton - If you only know Wheaton from his work on TNG, you need to read this book. Frank, honest and unflinchingly self-deprecating this is a great read.

[4] Name five books that are particularly meaningful for you.

The Bible

The Jesus I Never Knew by Phillip Yancey

To Kill A Mockingbird

Where the Red Fern Grows

Hamilton Duck - my mom read it to me all the time growing up and we've still go my old copy.

[5] Three books you are dying to read but just haven't yet.

Star Trek: New Frontier - Missing In Action

The entire Dune saga - I wouldn't say dying so much as I feel like I should read them all so I can call myself a real sci-fi fan.

The next Elizabeth George novel - OK, don't know what it'll be called or when it will come out, but when it does, I am so there.

[6] Tag five people to go through this same ordeal.

Barry, Tish, Michelle (Comment Tater), Chip, Rachael

posted by Michael Hickerson at 2/28/2006 02:53:00 PM | |

Bible Meme
Kathryn tagged me! Here we go...

1. Who is your favourite Biblical personage, other than Jesus?

David. Of all the people we read about in the Bible, I feel like we're given one of the most complete portraits of a person in David--not only on what we read about him in the history of the Old Testament, but also the Psalms. David was a man who wanted to follow God and was a man after God's own heart. But yet, he was still human. He still struggled, he still fell short, he still made stupid mistakes, some big and some little (Bathsheba anyone?). I take comfort in David because he faced the same stuff I do and he reacted the same way I do at times. He got angry at God, he loved God, he sang praises to God, he talked to God, he felt far from God. But in all of it, David was a man of God. And I love the encouragement.

2. What is your favourite book of the Old Testament?

I've got to admit I really like Genesis. Part of it may be that in high school our Sunday School teacher went word by word in examining it, studying it and dissecting it. And I love it. If I won the lottery and never had to work again, I'd spend the rest of my life studying and dissecting the Bible word for word like we did back then. With a group of course...I find that reading the Bible is a personal thing but there are times when it's great to have others offer their commentary.

3. What is your least favourite book of the Old Testament?

I'd have to see Dueteronomy. Or as I call it--what happened after the lawyers got hold of the 10 Commandments. "Well, God you didn't specifically say we couldn't do this exact thing, so I guess it's OK."

4. What is your favourite non- gospel book of the New Testament?

I'm gonna have to go with Romans. For now...this could change later as I continue to read and study.

5. What is your life verse?

Irony of ironies....it comes from Deuteronomy...

"Now what I am commanding you this day is neither too difficult nor beyond your reach." --Deuteronomy 30:11

I memorized this one during my diet to help and I had no idea how often I'd need it for other areas of my life. It's been a huge comfort and help in good times and hard times for years now.

6. Tag 5 people who might want to play
Barry, LB, Ivy, Tish, Sarah R

posted by Michael Hickerson at 2/28/2006 02:15:00 PM | |

Fed up and frustrated
I've had it with the Smyrna YMCA. I've just out and out had it. The staff, the people, the entire situation. We got a new Y built in Smyrna. It is state of the art and a nice facility. Too bad I won't be using it again any time soon.

I've detailed my issues before about the pool and the complete lack of consideration given to lap swimmers. But now it's reached a whole new level of frustration.

Yesterday, I changed my workout routine. Instead of staying downtown and making use of the downtown Y, I decided to use Smyrna. See, it was Gracelyn's b'day and we were having a family dinner and celebration for her. So, I changed my routine. I decided I'd use the Smyrna Y since it was closer to home and that meant I'd not get stuck in traffic and miss her birthday dinner.

Now, I was there at a busy time of day and I realize that I have to share machines and the lap lane with others. It's part of being an adult and being a courteous one. The first issue came when I decided to use a treadmill to do some walking and maybe a bit of jogging. I saw someone finishing and I grabbed the reservation card from the front of the machine. I then went to get a drink of water and came back...to find a woman using the machine. I politely went up to her, showed her the card and asked if I could use the machine since I had the reservation for it.

"No," she said. "I see free machine, I get on it. I pay membership fee, I have right to use it."

So, I calmly explained to her that during the peak times, there was a reservation system and that I had the reservation card.

"I don't care," she said.

So, I went to get some assistance.

Now, let me explain part of this story here. The woman in questions was Latino. That will be significant later.

So, I get the Y staff, who come over. They explained the situation to her and she again stated her refusal to vacate the machine. She said she'd never seen this policy posted (it's all over the Y) and so since she didn't know about it, it did not apply to her. And then she pulled out the d-word and I knew I was done...I'd never get to use the machine.

"This is discrimination," she said. "I have the right to use the machine and I will use it. No one can have a reservation like that."

So, I was toast. The Y staff backed off. Luckily a guy next to her finished up and gave me a machine. As I got on, the woman next to me said, "Oh I had no idea that was a rule either."

I replied, "Yeah, well, I understand. But if I'm speeding and I try the defense of--I had no idea what the speed limit was because I never saw a sign, I'd still get a ticket."

Nothing like being glared at by a bunch of people. I guess I know how it feels to be Rush Limbaugh and walk into a meeting of the Bill Clinton fan club.

So after that, I went to swim. It was crowded, but not by Y users, but by the Smyrna High School swim team. And I'm sorry, but there are only three lap lanes and I don't think allowin the Smyrna High School swim team to use 2 of them during the busy time of the day is a good use of resources. The Y is open until 10 at night and they can use it during off peak hours as far as I'm concerned. But I digress...

I saw one lap lane open and the woman offered to share. So, I did. She eventually got out and I had the lane to myself for a few minutes. I then saw a woman come up and I swam down to let her know I'd be happy to share. Only to have this guy come running up and jump in.

"I guess we'll share," he said.

I pointed to the woman. "Well, she was waiting and was here first," I said.

"I didn't see her," the guy said.

So, I figured I'd let it go. I said I'd split the lane with whoever and move on. I also figured I'd self-inforce the 30 minute lap lane rule during busy times. So, I start to swim..and as I'm coming back the guy is in my half of the lane. I nearly hit him...but he kept on going as if nothing was wrong. So, I figured he was confused. I watched him swim--he was all over the lap lane.

I tried to swim again--same result. Finally, I waited for him and asked him "Sir, how are we splitting the lap lane? I nearly hit you and I don't want to do that."

"I thought I'd stay on the right," he said.

"Well, I thought we were splitting it, one person to a side. I just don't want to hit you and cause an accident," I said.

"Well, I know you don't want to share. Sorry to be in your way," he says and gets out. He then runs over to the lifeguard.

At this point, I knew it was over.

"Fine, I guess I can't use the lap lane properly," I said. "I was trying to prevent an accident but hey....whatever. I'm done. Heaven forbid anyone who follows the rules and shows common courtesy can't use this Y."

I then got my towel and left.

I've had it with the Smyrna Y. I've made numerous complaints and they do no good. No one gives a shit there. The thing that galls me is that I follow the rules, I show courtesy to other members, I try to be a reasonable, rational human being and every time I do, I get no support and have it thrown in my face. Am I the bad guy? I feel like it becasue I want to have fair access to the facilities and expect my fellow members to show me the same courtesy. I guess I should take the attitude of--me, me, me and f*** the rest of you that everyone else does. Cause that seems to get results while the nice people get screwed.

So, I'm done. You've beat me Smyrna YMCA. I won't be coming in any time soon. I'll work out downtown or in Murfreesboro. But I will not be darkening your doors any time soon.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 2/28/2006 07:27:00 AM | |
Sunday, February 26, 2006
Do MPAA rating matter any more?
I rented Doom this weekend (it was a free rental and I felt the need for some mindless killin' and cussin')

I was able to rent the super deluxe un-rated version that had more death, destruction and mayhem that I could have seen in theaters.

Seem that whole un-rated edition n DVD is quite the rage these days.

Now, I could be wrong, but didn't the MPAA create ratings to help parents and keep kids from seeing certain things? So my question is--if a movie comes out in theaters as PG-13 or R but is then released in the unrated DVD version, what's the point of the rating? I mean, let's face it--most kids can probably rent the unrated version and see more carnage, nudity, dirty jokes or hear more cussin' in the confines of their own home. Does that make it better or worse?

Also, when Hollywood looks around and wonders why we're not lining up to see movies intheaters, could this be a reason? I wait two months and I can see the unexpigated version at home for less at my convience. Why plunk down eight bucks to see a comprimised vision or a shortened version?

And not every movie is worth an unrated or extended edition.

Did we really get any more laughs from the extended Wedding Crashers or 40 Year Old Virgin? Did we need more slaughter and mayhem in Doom? Did we need a dirtier Dukes of Hazard?

Probably not so much.

But on the other hand, there arent many who'd argue that the four-disc editons of the Lord of the Rings trilogy aren't just masterfully done and worth the extra edition.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 2/26/2006 07:09:00 PM | |
Saturday, February 25, 2006
TV Round-Up: Battlestar Galactica
I've posted my round up of the latest BSG episode over at All Along the Watchtower.

And I was pleasantly surprised to see SciFi finally start promoting the new Doctor Who last night. Saw the same commercial twice during BSG. Circle March 17th on the calendar now to be part of the American return of the greatest TV show of all time. And just block off the next 13 weeks for the brilliance that is Doctor Who.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 2/25/2006 12:21:00 PM | |
Friday, February 24, 2006
Come on over!
Brittney asked me if I'd like to be the Joan Rivers to her Johnny Carson on Nashville is Talking this weekend. I was supposed to guest host a few weeks ago, but things didn't work out.

But this time, I'm able to fulfill my guest hosting duties and am ready and eager. So surf on over to Nashville is Talking. Or better yet, if you're a Nashville blogger and have something profound, fascinating or earth shattering to say, go and post it right now so I can read it and link to you...

See you there!

posted by Michael Hickerson at 2/24/2006 07:33:00 PM | |

Is it 2007 yet?!?
For months, Spidey fans have been speculating on who the big villian will be in the upcoming Spider-Man 3 (due out next year). Sam Raimi has gone on record as saying he's not a big fan of Venom and wanted to wait to use the character in the film series. (I can't blame him really...I liked Venom at first, but I really think the character got overexposed).

Well, it seems we'll get two villains for the next Spidey installment--the already confirmed Sandman and another villian played by Topher Grace. For months, I've read rumors that he'd step into the role of Venom, though there were others who said Raimi didn't want Venom and Grace would play Electro or another second-tier Spidey villain.

Seems that the odds of the second villain being Venom are greater today based on the new publicity poster for Spidey 3 that's hit the net. From the story at Superhero Hype, that is not a black and white photo, but the actual black costume. As any good super hero fan knows, Spidey had the black costume first (it was an alien symbiote in the regalar continuity and his dad helped create the suit in the Ultimate continuity), rejected it and it bonded with Eddie Brock to create Venom.

Seeing that poster, it makes me think Venom's on tap for the next film. Or is he? I can see Raimi banking on the fact that Spidey 3 will be a huge hit and there will be a Spidey 4. So why not introduce the black suit in Spidey 3, start the Venom storyline and then have Venom be the big villain for Spidey 4. Follow the mold of X2 and Batman Begins where the story ends but the seeds are sewn for the next installment (though I honestly doubt X3 will deliver on that promise since it's directed by Brett Ratner and is being rushed into theaters by FOX....). Also, we can't forget that the last time we looked Harry Obsourne had found his father's stash of Goblin gear, thus creating the possibility that the Green Goblin could return to haunt Spidey.

All I can say is--man, I cannot wait for Spidey 3 to hit theaters. If the first two are any indication, this is going to be one of the best super hero movies EVER.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 2/24/2006 08:03:00 AM | |
Thursday, February 23, 2006
Cause it's all about me...
The other day, I stopped by Sam's after church to do some comparison shopping on some things and to allow the TNG and DS9 DVD sets I don't have tempt me to give them a good home. Since it was the weekend, I decided to wander through the food sections to see what was being sampled and decide if I needed 18,000 of it in the freezer.

I was still dressed up from church. It was a cold day, so I'd worn some dark cuordory slacks, a red sweater with a white shirt under it and a tie (why I'm not sure since no one could see it!). I also had on my dark dress-up coat, which I refer to as my Mulder-coat and a gray scarf. (You can see me in the coat here)

As I came up on one vendor giving away free samples of Hot Pockets, the woman doing the demonstration looked at me and said, "Wow, someone just came off the cover of Look magazine."

I was pleasantly surprised by the compliment, thanked her and then took a sample of Hot Pocket. Now, the jaded and cynical part of me says--she was trying to get you to buy a 24 pack of Hot Pockets, but the less jade part says--take it was intended and be happy. Luckily less-jaded part of me is winning the argument.

Oh yeah and I didn't buy any Hot Pockets...

posted by Michael Hickerson at 2/23/2006 02:11:00 PM | |

How about the Vols?!?

One of the many heroes for Tennessee, Dane Bradshaw

The screaming you heard last night as Dane Bradshaw stole the ball and drove the lane to score the winning basket for Tennessee over the evil empire that is Florida was me. How exciting was that?!? Two games vs Florida this year, two games decided by four points, two games in which Dane Bradshaw scores the winning bucket. The UT men's team bounced back from a loss to Alabama Saturday with a team effort and took care of business against a top fifteen team. I love it that we swept the Gators, clenched a share of the SEC East and have won a first-round buy in the SEC Tournament. Love it! Bruce Pearl--you are the man! This may be one of the greatest wins EVER by Tennessee and it was a huge team effort, as usual. I don't care how much $$$$ it takes, Mike Hamilton--pay Bruce Pearl every penny of it to keep him in the Volunteer State. Do not let him get away to one of those openings that so many of the Nashville media speculate are interested.

Is the team overachieving? Probably. But I'd rather have a team that overachieves than one that underachieves and tanks in every big game they have (::cough::cough::Vanderbilt::cough::cough::). I will admit, part of me secretly wanted Vandy to win last night becuase it helps UT win the SEC crown outright and I'd love to have the Vandy win a few games, get some hope up and see the mighty Vols come in and crush their tournament hopes once and for all a week from Saturday.

But one thing I won't do--take a season sweep of Florida for granted. We've swept three of the five opponents in the SEC East. How awesome would it be that we could sweep every team in the East this year? It could happen. I'd love to see it.

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


posted by Michael Hickerson at 2/23/2006 07:25:00 AM | |
Wednesday, February 22, 2006
Now I know how Glen Dean and Sarcastro feel...
Brittney over at Nashville is Talking has not one but TWO links to posts I've made today. One is here and the other is over at All Along the Watchtower.

Yes, that sound you hear is my ego inflating to epic proportions.

But on to the real point of this post. Earlier today, I stumbled across the photos of Kirsten Bell in Maxim and linked them from here and All Along the Watchtower. Brittney picked up the thread and had this to say:
I've always thought Ms. Bell to be attractive, but she just doesn't look as good all Maxim-ized. Airbrushing doesn't become her.
I agree that Ms. Bell is not your "typical" Maxim cover girl. And I have to admit that while part of me enjoyed the racy photos of her from Maxim, I find her more attractive on the show when she's dressed like a normal person and acts, well, I'm not sure we could classify Veronica as normal...

Anyway, it got me thinking.

Part of me as a fan of Veronica Mars is happy that the show is getting this...er....exposure. But I do wonder--does having Kirsten Bell splashed on the cover and pages of Maxim mean more hormonally inbalanced men are going to watch the show? And if they do, for how long? I mean, you can tune into a show because of the eye candy, sure...but how long are you going to stay around? Am I the only one who wants more from a show than just beautiful people spouting off bad dialogue? (I guess so since The OC is still on the air...)

Back in the day, the first thing that drew me to Buffy the Vampire Slayer was that I found Sarah Michelle Gellar to be extremely easy on the eyes. But what made me stay and took it from being a show I watched if it happend to be to full blown, oh my word I must have all the DVD sets obsession is the fact that the acting, writing and directing were all top notch? I was lured in by the eye candy and I stayed because damn the show was good.

Anyone else feel the same? And is this something that is limited to men? Or do the ladies tune in for the eye candy as well? I mean, how much do we hear about the men of Lost?

posted by Michael Hickerson at 2/22/2006 03:28:00 PM | |

A new kind of evangalism.
First it was the Bible study at Hooters. Now it's a former stripper, Heather Veitch, (link is a Yahoo news story and safe for viewing) who visits strip clubs, pays for lap dance and uses that opportunity to witness to the people there.

I'll give her credit--she's taking seriously the great commission to go out and make disciples of all nations. And she's going out there and being unashamed of the gospel, even in places where she could get laughed out of the building. I've got to admire her courage and tenacity....and her very interesting take on evangalism.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 2/22/2006 11:00:00 AM | |

Salem's Lots--look at all those tumbleweeds...
In an attempt to get my good friend, John from Salem's Lot to come out of exile, I'm posting a link to Kirsten Bell of Veronica Mars fame posing in this month's issue of Maxim.

Yeah, that's as good an excuse as any to justify the link and my looking at the photos....

posted by Michael Hickerson at 2/22/2006 08:42:00 AM | |

Does the IRS need marketing?
Last week, I received a four-color card in the e-mail from the IRS, telling me all about the merits and benefit of e-filing my taxes.

Which brought up an interesting question--does the IRS really need to market themselves? Like it or not, we all have to pay taxes. And maybe I just don't know how the IRS works, but I think it'd be better to save that money from sending out a card to every tax-payer in America and instead maybe give the American public a tax break....

But that's just me....

posted by Michael Hickerson at 2/22/2006 08:10:00 AM | |
Tuesday, February 21, 2006
How much do you know about me?
It's a quiz and it's all about me, me, me....




posted by Michael Hickerson at 2/21/2006 09:38:00 AM | |

Thoughts on 24...
My recap and thoughts on last night's installment of 24 are up over at All Along the Watchtower. I know, I'm a shameless sell-out...yes and I can live with that guilt. And you'd best not cross me or I'll have Jack Bauer use his armpit of doom on you! (Read the review, you'll understand...)

posted by Michael Hickerson at 2/21/2006 07:47:00 AM | |
Monday, February 20, 2006
Elizabethtown
Over the weekend, I was able to check out the latest Cameron Crowe movie, Elizabethtown. I'd been curious about the movie when it was in theaters because a)I've enjoyed most of Crowe's other movies (I even liked Vanilla Sky) and b)it has Kirsten Dundst in it.

But for some reason or other, I never made it to the theater to see the movie. Of course, I've not yet made it to a theater to see King Kong or Narnia either. I know--I'm a bad movie fan.

Finally seeing Elizabethtown, I have to admit I was pleasantly surprised by it. Seems to me that in his movies, Crowe creates flawed male characters who are loved by quirky females who help the flawed males find redemption over the course of the movie. That was pretty much the theme of Jerry McGuire and Say Anything and that same dynamic is in play here.

The flawed male lead this time is Drew Baylor, played by Orlando Bloom (in a role written for him by Crowe. Imdb tells us that Ashton Kutcher was cast for a while but just like Eric Stoltz in the original Back to the Future, it just didn't work and thankfully, Bloom became available in time to shoot the movie). Drew is a hot-shot at a shoe company who has spent years of his life and close to a billion dollars of the company's money to design and market a shoe that turns out to be a flop. Or as Drew and others put it, "a fiasco." Drew is fired, talks to a business journal and gets dumped by his girlfriend who also works at the shoe company. He's naturally a little upset about this, even going so far as to contemplate his own offing and starting the process when he gets a phone call from his sister.

His father has passed away. She and their mother want Drew to go to Elizabethtown, Kentucky to get his body. Drew figures he'll put his plans on hold and heads out to Elizabethtown. On the empty plane, he meets Claire, played by Kirsten Dundst. Claire gets Drew to sit in first class so she won't have to hike as far back to check on him and insists on talking to him, despite his expressed desire to be left alone. At the end of the plane trip, Claire writes out directions to Elizabethtown for him and includes her phone number. The two say farewell in the airport, but as you know, they'll cross paths again.

The rest of the movie is about Drew's journey, literally and figuratively. He calls Claire and the two end up talking on the phone for hours--up to the point that they meet to watch the sunrise halfway between Nashville and Elizabethtown. Claire keeps cropping up, sensing that Drew needs her and making him confront his feelings about his failure and his growing sense of isolation. (At one point, Drew's sister points out he doesn't make friends easily, to which Drew says--I've got friends. Yeah, not so much). As Drew gets slowly pulled into the social structure of Elizabethtown and the wedding party staying at his hotel, he keeps finding himself intereacting with Claire and working through the emotions from his failure and his father's death. There's also the sense of never put off until tomorrow what you can do today as Drew regrets not having time to take a road trip with his dad that the two of them always talked about.

At this point, I've only given away much of the first hour of the movie, though I don't feel so bad since if you saw the previews, you know most of this. I will say this--Elizabethtown is good but not great. It's a bit episodic at times, with some of those episodes being good and some being not as enlightening. Also, Crowe's trademark of having quirky characters does backfire a bit here as it seems he's trying to hard to have everyone have their own special quirk instead of being fully realized, supporting characters. Recall Jerry McGuire and think of Bonnie Hunt's sister only without quite as much backstory or nuance. It's a shame really but there aren't any parts that you felt like you could necessarily fast-forward through or skip past for fear of missing something vital (or in my case, hoping Kirsten Dundst would be there looking cute).

I know that in watching the movie, I kept finding myself identifying with Drew's character. I think Crowe is able to do that with some many of his flawed male protagonists. He makes them human and accessible. In fact, I'd have to say that Crowe writes dialogue that most of us ordinary men wish we could come up with under similiar circumstances. Sure, that Bruce Springsteen song ran the phrase "You complete me" into the ground, but damn if it wasn't exactly the right words for that moment and it summed up everything succicently and simply. No matter how overplayed it became, you have to admit that moment really worked.

I sense in Drew this profound sense of overwhelming loneliness. He seems to have all these things that would make up a successful life, but yet, he's still fundamentally unhappy. It's all fleeting. One day he's on top of the world, the next he's a scapegoat for a project gone horribly awry.

As the movie unfolds, we see Claire's pursuit of Drew, not only romantically but to come to terms with his failures. To take risks in life even though he's failed. At one point. Drew reveals his failure to Claire who says, "You failed" a number of times to him and then remarks that it doesn't matter that he did to her. As we first meet and see Drew, he's isolated. He's in a bubble or shell and it takes Claire's almost unrelenting pursuit to crack the shell and make him come out of it--not only to face what's going on but to figure out that there's more to life than what he originally thought of as success.

It's one of those Carpe Diem or stop and smell the roses type of lessons.

I figured I'd just turn it off and forget about it. But yet, it's not one of those movies that I've been able to easily do that. It's not like Back to the Future or Star Trek II, where I want to start the DVD again just to experience the magic and relive my favorite moments again. No, it's more one of those things were I find myself being contemplative and reflective about things.

First of all, I'm not in any way, shape or form down on my life enough to want to take the extreme measures that Drew does. I just want to put your mind at rest about that. For every one bad thing in my life, I can think of three more good or great things.

But, I found myself identifying with Drew's sense of isolation at times. I think part of Drew's long conversation with Claire in the beginning is this almost sense of relief to have somone to talk to who is not asking him to be something, but is instead letting Drew be Drew in all of his quirkiness and vulnerability. It does take some time before he reveals the true nature of his trip, but Claire's put it together anyway by the point.

In a way, I find myself looking at this movie and thinking about my grandfather. He's not been doing well of late. I've blogged about it a few times, but he's had a big decline in his health the past couple of months. He's 92 and he's lived a great life. I'd be lying if there were times I didn't get on my knees and ask God why he's still here in this diminished capacity when I can see my grandmother in heaven, waiting impatiently for him to be there so they can be together for all of eternity. Don't get me wrong--I'm grateful for every day he's here and every opportunity I have to share with him. But sometimes when he's having a bad day or hurting a lot, I wonder about these things.

I also find myself preparing to lose him. Every time I hear my mom talk about taking him the ER, a little bit of thinks--well, this is it. With my other three grandparents their passing was sudden and without warning. With my grandfather, it's been a gradual thing. It won't make his passing any easier to take, mind you. It's just been a bit more of an emotional roller coaster. Preparing for the worst, praying for the best and wondering what's going to happen and if it's going to be somewhere in between.

I know that when he goes, I'll be sad that he's gone. But also happy that he's finally at peace and in a better place.

Doesn't make it any easier to think about.

Or about the sense of loneliness I get when I think about it. See, a couple of years ago, we had a bad summer in my family. It was the summer of 2001 and, quite frankly, it sucked. It's not one I'm grabbing the DeLorean and jumping back to re-experience. During that time, I did my best to be the son, grandson, brother, etc. my family needed. I cried with my baby sister on the phone when she lost her baby and words couldn't express the profound sorrow and loss I felt for her and her husband. I managed to make it through entire days at the hosptial visiting my grandfather and sister without getting dizzy or feeling faint once becuase my family needed me to be strong. But I come back to how I felt at times during that period--when I'd wake up late at night, feeling alone and overwhelmed. I'd lay there and cry, wishing I had someone to talk to, to take away my loneliness and isolation. To give me a hug and tell me it was OK or to cry with me or to listen to me talk or even to just watch old Dr Who reruns with becuase it helped me escape and forget about things for 25 minutes.

I remember one of the things I was most excited about and hoped for when I got married was that sense of having a partner to face these things with in life. To be a rock for her and for her to be a rock for me. Of course, things didn't quite work out that way. We're divorced now and I've not spoken to her for over two years. But I know it's for the best.

But there are times when I know I'm going to be lonely and wanting something. And it's not that I don't have friends. I am blessed with a group of friends that I wouldn't trade for anything in the world. But I do have a problem in sometimes asking for help. I remember in the weeks following my sister's loss of her child and then us almost losing her, going around in a daze. And I'm always amazed at how small children can figure out what we need most and give it to us. See, I was at the church picnic, just standing there watchig BrainyBoy and Giggle Girl play and have a good time. It was hard because I was so excited about being an uncle to my own flesh and blood...Barry and Laura blessed me by allowing me to be Uncle Michael to BB and GG, but part of me was so excited to take what I'd learned from spoiling them and put it to use on my own neice or nephew. So, I was pretty devestated and upset. And I hadn't really expressed it that much to friends...I'd come close but never quite put in into words. (Hell, I used to get mad that the Wal-Mart at Walker Springs in Knoxville has the baby stuff so close to the food so I had to see it every time I went in for milk). So, I'm standing there and suddenly GG goes, "Uncle Michael needs a hug" and she runs over as only a three year old can do...I bend down and hug her...and I'm crying. It's a moment I've never forgotten and it's one of the million reasons GG is such a special little lady.

Now, I don't say all of this to make any of you feel bad or to garner a sympathy hug. I say it because, for me, this blog is about my writing down some of the inner thought I'm having. It's a way of getting things out in the open for myself and not rolling around inside my head. It's a release. It's something that's been on my mind and heart..and while on some level it's hard to think about it, on some others it makes me realize that it's time to start seroiusly looking around again for some close friends close by and to not forget the ones I have who are geographically distant. I've asked prayers before and I've felt them working at times from all of you who are included that way...and I'm grateful. You have no idea. But it also makes me think--it's time to stop dwelling on the past, feeling isolated and to get out there and see who is there. To see if there is a woman out there who could be the Claire to my Drew....

OK, I think that's enough self-reflection for now....

posted by Michael Hickerson at 2/20/2006 03:09:00 PM | |

Anyone watching the Winter Games?
It's not news, but it seems that the Winter Olympics haven't quite been the ratings juggernaut that NBC was hoping for. Looks like some of the networks aren't running scared and are actually counterprogramming the games with new episodes of popular shows such as ratings juggernaut American Idol.

So are people tuning in because there are other, interesting shows on? Or they not tuning in because of the time delay? Or are they not turning in because the games are "dull"? Or is it that there are just no compelling storylines from this year's winter games? Or is it a combination of things?


Yes but would it make anyone tune in? Posted by Picasa

I must admit I haven't tuned in for much, if any of the winter games. I realize that a lot of the events take a lot of skill and athletic prowess, but they just don't interest me that much. And I still defy anyone to tell me how curling is a sport. Seriously, it's shuffleboard on ice.

I do wonder if the winter games would be more compelling if I were there, in person, watching the games unfold. Or if I'd be more interested if it were live and I hadn't already heard the results in various news broadcasts and on-line.

So, let me ask--is anyone out there watching the winter Olympics?

posted by Michael Hickerson at 2/20/2006 10:51:00 AM | |

Adventures in Babysitting
I reached a crossroads in my relationship with my neice Friday evening.

I volunteered to babysit my favorite neice and nephew so my sister and brother-in-law could enjoy a dinner out on the town without children. They asked me if Friday would be good and I said sure.

So, armed with some DVDs of Dora the Explorer and Bob the Builder I hadn't seen a million times and some books from the library, I headed over.

And a good time was had by all, for the most part. Gracelyn and Davis enjoyed the DVDs a lot. But we did run into trouble when Gracelyn decided she wanted a marathon of Dora, The Little Mermaid and Cinderella before she went to bed (this was announced at 7:15 and bedtime is around 8). I told her that wasn't going to happen and she seemed to take it fairly well. We played with the GeoTrax, building an elaborate and complex railroad system on the family room floor. Then it was time to start getting ready for bed--which means that Davis gets a sippe cup of milk and he has to do his breathing treament.

Davis was funny to try to get into bed. He would basically say no he didn't want to do whatever we were doing--breathing treatment, milk, pjs, etc..but he'd be saying it right as he was doing it. The funniest protest was the I don't want to go to bed as he pulls the covers up over himself and his head hits the pillow.

Gracelyn was not keen on the idea of going to bed, probably becuase we'd only got through a few minutes of Ariel and hadn't even cracked Cinderella. I told her that it was bed time and I wrangled her upstairs. Not an easy task, but thankfully she's only four, so I can pick her up and carry her when she's having a tantrum. Now, putting Gracelyn to bed is like putting toothpaste back into the tube. I've babysat many times and no matter what condition you set, she has some other ones she wants in an attempt to stall the inevitable.

But Friday night it was beyond stalling tactics. It was open defiance, including trying to run out of her room and run back downstairs to watch more Ariel. I tried to not "fight" her but it was hard when she's squirming and won't do things like put on her pajamas or hold still while I try to get her hair of the ponytail holders. Finally, I sat her on the bed and told her that she needed to put on her pajamas before I counted to three or else she'd get a spanking.

See, in the past just the threat of counting to three would make her wake up and realize--Uncle Michael is serious about this and she'd follow my instructions. I guess Friday she felt it was time to see who'd call whose bluff. So, I counted to three and she just looked at me as it to say, "OK, now what? We both know you won't do it."

"Gracelyn, put on your pajamas or I'll spank you," I said.

"No," she replied.

And was then shocked when I turned her over and swatted her once on the behind. Not hard at all, but I think it was more the shock than anything. She burst into tears and I felt like a complete failure as an authority figure and uncle. But she then proceeded to put on her pjs and get into bed. She did stop crying so I could read her a story and she snuggled in, assuring me she was waiting for Mommy to come home to say good night to.

Needless to say, I felt really bad about it. I did tell my sister and brother-in-law what I'd done. I know they've used a spanking as punishment for her in the past...I've witnessed it. I just had always hoped deep down that Uncle Michael would never have to resort to using it.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 2/20/2006 09:29:00 AM | |

Galactica recap/review
Let me just say that I really liked this week's episode of Battlestar Galactica. If you want to know more about why, surf over to All Along the Watchtower for my weekly review/recap.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 2/20/2006 08:06:00 AM | |
Sunday, February 19, 2006
The Quest...
I'm frustrated today. And no, it's not just because the Vols lost to Alabama yesterday afternoon, though that is a small part of it.

I'm frustrated with a church I've visited.

Since the start of the year and really some of the last few months of '05, I've been in the process of looking for a new church home. I've got to be honest with you--it's hard work. I think part of it is that I have some specific things I'm looking for. The biggest is that I'd like to find a church home close to where I live that has a fellowship or Sunday School class or something that is specifically targeted to and for adults who are single. To me, this is a huge thing and a major "selling point" if you will in my search for a church.

Of course, I'm also looking for the big things as well--a church where the Holy Spirit is working and one that is built on being and creating disciples. Those things are fundamental and go without saying.

So, I've been visiting some churches. And the results, so far have been intriguing to me.

I've found that, for the most part, all the churches have been warm and friendly. Some have been bigger than others. I'll fully admit I was overwhelmed by the sheer size of Smyrna First Baptist and Otter Creek. I was so overwhelmed that I never did have a chance to catch up with any of the people I knew by sight and name at Otter Creek. I had no idea going in of the size and that I should have asked if I could meet my friends somewhere so we could sit together during service. I don't hold that against the church. That was entirely my fault. I also understand they are in a big transition to a new building and things can be a bit chaotic there. I will admit of the churches I've visited so far, this is one of the ones that really resonated with me. I plan to visit again once the move is done and the dust settles. My only major issue--the church is a good drive away from where I live. That's the only negative point I can see so far.

The other one that I've visited that resonated with me was a small Methodist church. I found it on a rainy Sunday morning and was met with warmth and fellowship. One of the men from the church greeted me and conversed with me for a bit. I was impressed that the next day I got an e-mail from him saying he was glad I'd visited and hoped to see me again soon. I got a few handwritten notes from the pastor and various members saying how nice it was to see me. And since they're Methodist, they follow the doctrine of "if you feed them, they will come." I got a pie that day, a packet on the ministries of the church and a professional recorded CD of their music minister's work. I will say that it was a great way to feed me--not only that day with the pie but in the weeks beyond with that CD that I really enjoy. It's hymns played on a piano which I really, really enjoy. And after all that, I got a survey from the pastor that is anonymous. It only goes to him and it asks what is good and not so good about the experience and how can they make it better for visitors. I really like that the church is open to knowing what it does well but also that it knows it can do more and wants feedback. My only drawback--it is a bit small and it doesn't have a single adult group that I can see or find in the ministry packets. And that's something I really find I want.

Now, living near the Boro and the campus of MTSU, I thought maybe a church in the Boro might be the answer. I explored some web sites and found one that seemed to talk about a singles ministry and all the Sunday School classes talked about being a place for couples and singles. So, I e-mailed to find out more about the singles ministry and got...no response. So, not to be deterred, I visited. I've visited three services and today got brave and went to Sunday School. Now, let me preface this by saying that earlier in the week, I dropped an e-mail to the pastor asking him what he recommended for a Sunday School class and was there a singles program. I sent this Monday. He's said at the end of the service each week that if you have questions, please contact him. Well, I'll give him credit--he did respond. It was the "I don't know, but let me forward you to someone who can help you."

That was Monday afternoon.

I've heard nothing back..and it's frustrating. I mean, I understand people are busy, but I'm a legitimate seeker here . I don't think it's too much to take five minutes to drop me an e-mail sometime between Tuesday morning and Sunday morning. I did go and asked some greeters this morning where would be a good place for me and I visited a class...but the thing is, it was a young adult class. And it was the issue I've hit in my old church--it was a class of young adults who are all married and have kids or are having kids. Which don't get me wrong--nothing wrong there. But what I'm looking for is some fellowship here. And we have a different frame of reference in our daily concerns, which is understandable. I would be more worried if they weren't consumed with the raising the kids and the joys that brings. But I"m not in that boat..and I want to find some people who are. Some people who if I want to grab a burger on Friday evening don't have to call a babysitter.

I think my biggest frustration is the overall feeling at the church of--yeah, whatever. Again, it takes five minutes to send an e-mail. I don't think my question was too terribly difficult. I do wonder if they had a singles program and it's in a valley and not a peak. They may not want to tell me that and discourage me..but to not respond to me discourages me even more.

So, my journey continues. I keep praying and seeking.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 2/19/2006 02:21:00 PM | |
Friday, February 17, 2006
Early TV Memories
Well, it's the weekend and if you believe the forecasters, the snow is on the way.

I have to admit, I'm more a Scully than a Mulder on this one seeing as how we got promised snow last weekend and it never really materialized. I will say this--if it's going to snow, I'd like to see it snow enough so Davis can play in it...he's two and hasn't experienced the wonder of playing in the snow.

Other than that, I can live without it.

Anyway, while surfing around tonight, I found an interesting post on TV Squad. Bob Sassone listed his five early TV memories. Since I'm a complete TV nut, I thought I'd post my five--not in any kind of order, mind you.

1. Batman - I'm talking about the live action, Adam West version here. What really stood out was this one particular episode's cliffhanger. Batman and Robin are trapped in some kind of device that has frozen them in place. I remember that when they were frozen that the inside was this bright pink. I remember the villain cackling they'd never escape and leaving. Then the questions and the infamous "Same bat time, same bat channel" line. And then it ended. Over, done. How would they escape? My little mind was ablaze, thinking it was all over for the dynamic duo...

And you know what--I have no idea how they got out of it. I don't remember seeing part two. And years later I've watched Batman in repeats trying to find this episode but none of them ever quite matches my memory....

2. Benson - I recall seeing commercials for this one a lot. Benson and Kraus are in a store and Kraus realizes she needs something she's forgotten. She says, "Vanishing cream" and Benson retorts "My treat." Ironically, this was the first episode of Benson I saw. My mom was in choir and my dad would let me stay up late to watch Benson with him on Tuesdays nights while she was gone.

3. Mr Rodgers Neighborhood - I remember Friday afternoon as a young tyke and seeing Mr Rodgers and mis-hearing that it was going off the air forever because it wouldn't be on the next day. I was shocked, upset and stunned...I ran to my mom who tried to explain to me the concept of the weekend and different shows being on in the time for Mr Rodgers. Amazingly, this feeling is still the one I get to this day when I show I liked is cancelled, though the my mom reassuring me it's just a snafu and it will be back on isn't working so much...

4. Electric Company - Loved it. Introduced me to Spider-Man. I remember desparately wanting to learn how to read faster so I could keep up with what Spidey said and read it for myself....

5. Buck Rogers/Battlestar Galactica - back in the day, these two were pretty much interchangeable in my mind. I lived in Hawaii when they first aired and my dad worked with a guy who was Gil Gerard's brother. I thought this was the coolest thing I'd ever heard at the time. I remember both show being really cool and yes, I even liked Galactica 80 back then....I was younger and didn't know quality yet. So sue me.

Also, if you look back in my archives, I talk about this one episode of Buck Rodgers that scared the pants off me as a kid. I've got the DVDs in my queue to watch....though part of me says I shouldn't watch it as it's probably not that bad...

posted by Michael Hickerson at 2/17/2006 07:00:00 PM | |

Weighing in with my two cents...
An old debate has reared its ugly head on-line--is Harry Potter the work of the devil?

The latest opening salvo was tossed by (Pastor) Dan Reed over at Conservative Corner. Here's what kind of started the whole thing:
Today as I was driving home I jokingly asked my daughters if either of them got any Harry Potter valentines today. My oldest daughter said "NO Daddy and I know I know Harry Potter is the devil" Man I was so proud.
The thread was picked up on by Mark Rose, who offered his support of Pastor Dan. Rose correctly asserted that its the right and the responsiblity of parents to judge what children are exposed to and at what age. I fully agree with that, as does my blogging buddy, Katherine Coble who picked up the debate at her own blog. (Rose's blog requires a TypeKey registration to comment).

But what kind of got me was the admission by Reed and Rose that neither of them had read the Harry Potter novels or seen the movies but yet they were condemning them. This wholesale dismissal of something that you haven't experienced or are taking someone else's word for really bugs me.

Now, I'll step up now and admit that I don't have children of my own. I will also say that I do subscribe to the it takes a village theory. I don't want to undervalue the importance of the children's parents as the primary source of guidance, upbringing and raising. But I will also say that the rest of us have a responsibility when it comes to the raising and guiding of children. In the Methodist church, part of the baptism covenant is a promise by the congregation to help the parents raise the child. I take that vow seriously and reverently and do my best to try and live up to it. I try to be aware that I can be and should be an example to the young people I come into contact with in my life. I'm not always the best I could or should be, but then again I am human and will botch it from time to time.

And so maybe I just can't understand how it is that some parents out there can judge things wholesale. In her post, Kathryn points out that every generation has that thing which is perceived as "evil"--whether it be rock music or the internal combustion engine. Again, I agree with her point.

And like I said--I don't want to insult parents who choose to not let their children read Harry Potter. Also, I strongly believe there are such things as appropriate for the age of the child. I know that when Barry and his family came through Nashville a few weeks ago, we talked about all kinds of movies that BrainBoy wants to see. He asked me about seeing Monty Python and the Holy Grail, which I think is a perfectly hysterical movie but isn't exactly suited to a 10 year old, simply for the scenes in Castle Anthrax. But give him three years and I think he's at a more appropriate age to see it. Or with Harry Potter--I wouldn't let Gracelyn and Davis watch the movies yet simply because they're both under five. I think a lot of it would be lost on them and they might be frightened by some of the visual images. But when they're a bit older, I have no problem sharing the stories and movies with them, so long as their parents approve. (I am waiting for no such permission for Doctor Who since I know my sister is dead-set against them ever watching it not because it's bad but because Uncle Michael loves it more than one grown person should).

I find it interesting to consider what is and is not appropriate for certain ages. Over the years, I've been in situations where young people have come to me, knowing I've seen or read a certain thing and wanting me to be the voice of reason when it comes to talking to their parents. Which if you know me, you'll find the irony in the fact that anyone considers me the voice of reason....

I'll admit it--I've read the Harry Potter books. I'll also admit that I've enjoyed them a good deal. I like the movies. They're all perfectly fine entertainment and a nice journey of the imagination. And when you boil it down to the most fundamental level, the Harry Potter books are about making the choice between right and wrong. It just so happens that magic is part of the way the stories are told. It's an element of the fictional universe J.K. Rowling has created. As I love to tell people, I've no more learned to cast a spell reading Harry Potter than I've learned to travel through space and time in a phone booth by watching Doctor Who.

Now, I don't see anything fundamentally wrong with Harry Potter. I do think there is an appropriate age. But what drives me nuts in people who condemn it as being this or that without actually having read the books or looked into it themselves. And I hate to remind parents of this, but remember when you were younger and your parents strictly forbade you from watching something. Did you just accept it and figure you'd see it later or did it somehow make it more intriguing and desirable to you? In a lot of cases, I'm betting it's the latter not the former.

In the case of Harry Potter, I think some people miss what I call a great parenting opportunity. So many times as the kids grow older, parents struggle to find ways to connect with them, to have something to share and enjoy together. I was listening to Wil Wheaton (Wesley on TNG) on the Slice of SciFi podcast talk about how he and his step-son bonded over episodes of Battlestar Galactica...he said it was valuable because they were both speaking the same language as it were and that shared experience to talk about. And I see a lot of parents who seem to miss that similiar opportunity.

The way I see it, if your child is old enough to read Harry Potter but you're worried about them reading it, why not read it with them. The two of you could read it and then talk about the viewpoint it has and how your values disagree and here's why. It could open up a meaningful dialogue and a connection between parent and child that might not ordinarily be there. And if your child can trust you about Harry Potter, than hopefully he or she can trust you about other things that come along.

Instead, some are content to quickly dismiss it and say its wrong and miss a golden opportunity.

Harry Potter is not Satan. He's not evil. The books are not going to cause you to go to hell from reading them. Now, if you get so caught up in them that that becomes your defintion of what is reality or how you define the universe, then that's an issue. (And if you're an uber-Trek fan, you can be the source of much hilarity in a documentary...but that's another post). But just reading and enjoying them as works of fiction is not going to send you straight to hell...

posted by Michael Hickerson at 2/17/2006 01:55:00 PM | |

Out of work Cylon

Out of work Cylon
Originally uploaded by bigorangemichael.
The Unofficial Battlestar Blog linked to this and I thought it was too funny.

Oh yeah--and there's a new Galactica tonight! Woo-hoo!

posted by Michael Hickerson at 2/17/2006 08:49:00 AM | |

Yes, I was worried....
The Lady Vols went down to Georgia
Looking for a game to win
They'd lost another point guard
And it looked like the season was in a spin...

OK, that's really all I've got except for later in the song, having Pat Summit say to Andy Landers, " I told you once you son of a gun, I'm the best there's ever been!"

I was eccstatic that the Lady Vols came back from such a huge deficit to defeat the Lady Bulldogs on their own court. A big fan Nelson Muntz "Ha, ha!" to UGA. I love it when the Vols tease them into thinking them might win only to pull off a victory in the end. Sort of like the Vandy game Sunday afternoon, this one could be a demoralizing loss for the Lady Bulldogs. So close, yet so far.

Couldn't happen to a better team in my not so humble opinion. I've really worked up a bit of hatred for all things UGA in the past couple of years. I lived in Georgia for a while and boy howdy, their fans sure can't take losing but they're even worse a bunch of winners. Now, I know that isn't the majority of the fans and I'm sure there are some nice UGA fans out there. (My friend Rich's wife would count as one...and that's about the only one I can think of). Anyway, the lengths to which UGA fans went to be jerks never failed to surprise me....I've told the stories before, so I won't repeat them here again. But let's just say that before I moved there, my top teams I wanted to see UT beat the most were Florida and Alabama. Georgia worked up there in the list and may be the number one team I want to see the Vols beat any time they play. And given how legendary my dislike of Florida is, that's saying a lot.

Of course, this situation is not helped by having to deal with the beaucracy of the state department of revenue in Georgia. I realized when I got my tax forms for this year that hey--I never got my refund from Georgia last year. I'd lived and worked in state a month or so and was due a refund (stupid income tax..it sucks!). It's not mind-boggling, but it's enough that I could put it toward my Michael needs a new big TV fund. Anyway, I started making some calls to try and find someone who could help me out.

It took me forever to get anyone on the phone. I called one number and got another number which gave me a third number. You get the idea. So, I call the last number and when it's not busy and they do answer you get into voice mail hell. Now, this wouldn't be so bad if three times out of every five that you go in, it didn't tell you you're in voice mail hell and then drop the call. The other two times you'd call in, it's give you the opening statement and start playing some crappy on-hold music. Which is fine...I can sit through that. But then we get to the second you're in voice mail hell message that says--hey, you can fax us or e-mail us or hold. At this point, the system would then drop my call. So you're back to the start. But wait, you say--if you're smart you could write down the e-mail address or fax number and do that.

Ha, ha! I say.

I tried that. The e-mail address bounces back. I'm not kidding. I sent a fax the first day, heard nothing, sent it again a day or so later. At this point I've still not heard anything back. Did I mention the e-mail address bounced?!? What the hell good is that?!?

Thankfully, after six days of trying, I finally got a human being. Luckily for me, I only had a small heart attack at hearing a human voice and was able to get the issue addressed. I then told them I thought their voice mail system was a joke and that the e-mail address wasn't working correctly. They seemed genuinely stunned by this...if by stunned you mean not really concerned at all.

But, anyway...that's my story and I'm stickin' to it.

Oh yeah and...

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


posted by Michael Hickerson at 2/17/2006 08:24:00 AM | |
Thursday, February 16, 2006
Marriable?
The TV set in the breakroom was tuned to News Channel Five's Talk of the Town today while I was eating lunch. I had heard Michael W. Smith was going to be on the show today but, alas, I missed him.

The segment I did get to see and hear was by this married couple who met via the wacky lounge room that is the Internet (her words, not mine). The name of their book is called Marriable and it is supposed to talk about singles who get to a place in their lives where they are looking for from dating than just going out and having a good time, but want to date with some sense of purpose. I was interested enough to pay attention until the authors started getting into their advice for singles looking for that special significant other.

Basically, it was a lot of the wisdom of Joey from Friends. I'm not sure if it was on Joey or Friends (yes, I watched Joey once or twice) and Joey gives the advice of rating yourself on a scale of 1-10 and then not dating anyone too high or too low for you. As in--a five couldn't date a ten and a ten shouldn't date a three.

I had to laugh to myself. I figured with all the TV I've watched, I could distill down a few things into print format from Seinfeld, Friends and other shows and write my own dating advice book....

posted by Michael Hickerson at 2/16/2006 04:07:00 PM | |

Post-Survivor Intereview with Melinda
Well, my new favorite Survivor, Melinda, got the boot last week. Again, I must say--rats!

TV Guide On-Line has a Q&A with Melinda that you can read here, if you're interested.

One thing I would find fascinating about a reality TV show is how they edit down three days of footage into one hour of television. I'd love to watch an episode of a show with someone who was on it and find out the scoop behind the scenes of what also happened that we never saw. I mean, sure there are going to be some times that are not compelling viewing such as watching them collect firewood or sleeping, but I do wonder what kind of liberties are taken with the footage in order to create a storyline for an episode.

And if you're interested, Melinda has her very own web site. (And she's also got a blog about her experiences.) I found it last week and all I can say is--honey, call me. That web site needs some help! (I just don't care for the swirling photos flash animation).

posted by Michael Hickerson at 2/16/2006 09:20:00 AM | |

TV Round-Up
Lost: One of Them
See, this is why I hate the promo departments at just about every network. If I enjoy a show, I'm always curious to know what's coming next and what I can look forward to the next week.

But just as we've seen in movie theaters, sometimes the trailers give away all the good stuff.

But on TV it's worse. It seems a lot of times these days, the scenes and snippets in a promo are taken from the last quarter of an episode or they misrepresent the episode they're previewing. Or in the worst case (such as we had for this week's Lost) both. See, I made the mistake of watching the preview last week and seeing the confrontation between Jack and Locke about letting the counter get down to zero to see what happens.

Part of it was my fault, really. I started imagining scenarios as to how and why this would or could happen. It's also bad because I start looking for that scene to show up, anticipating it and I may miss some good details of the overall rest of the plot unfolding on-screen. It's why I should really learn to skip the previews. (It's why I've given up watching the Stargate shows live....SciFi simply shows most of the episode of Battlestar Galactica in snippets during those shows and ruins some of the suprises. I know you want to get fans to tune in, but leave some things a mystery, please!)

But enough whining about the promos. I know it's not going to change.

So, this week's lost was really one for the ladies since it featured all of the men of Lost and none of the women. Looking back, the only female with any significant screen time was Rousseau. Oh and we got the soldier looking at a picture of Kate. Now, I hate to reveal my ignorance here, but I will. Was the soldier in the back of the truck the same man that Kate had to kill in one of her umpteen flashback stories we've seen until now? I'm sure there are eagle-eyed viewers out there who can tell me. (I guess I could just break out my DVDs of season one...)

It seems the theme of the last couple of episodes is that you can change the surroundings of the person, but you don't really fundamentally change who they are. Last week, we saw that no matter how it appeared that Sawyer had mellowed, he hadn't. And this week, we see that Sayid really hasn't changed that much. He still pretty much believes the ends justifies the means, as he proves here by torturing the alleged Other to get information from him. Part of me wonders if it was some kind of payback for the death of Shannon that made him do it. Sayid seems to want someone to feel his pain and understand it. He won't go and talk to anyone on the island about it, so he takes it out on this poor guy who may or may not be an Other.

I did get a bit of a chill when Sayid said he knew the guy was lying because he felt no remorse in what he'd done. So, does that mean he felt remorse for torturing Sawyer last season?

In the flashbacks, we learn how Sayid learned his trade. Seems the U.S. Army taught it to him. Or at least helped him to realize his full potential. Really puts that whole "be all you can be" slogan in a new light, doesn't it?

Also of interest is how Charlie, a perceived outsider now, has become the sounding board or almost father confessor to the island's people. Is it becuase they feel that Charlie is so on the outs with the community that he won't share these secrets with the others? And do you get the feeling that Charlie just might be collecting secrets and could use them later for his own advantage?

And is it just me or is Jack starting to lose it a bit? His ever-growing conflict with Locke seems to be unhinging him. I wonder if this is supposed to parallel the journey Jack took pre-island where he seemed to have it all only to slowly lose control of his life. Same thing seems to be happening here. To run the analogy into the ground, Locke is a father-figure to the island and we see that Jack doesn't get along well with father figures. Part of that may be that Jack has a more rigid code of right and wrong...it's not quite as case by case basis as we see in others on the island and that is leading to some conflict. And we've got Locke who seems to see the greater good of the group taking precident over an individual's rights. I have to wonder if Locke is up to something more than he's telling...again, he faced down the island and lived. Also, he has a lot to lose should they be found or the secret of the island be revealed. So how far will he go to retain what he's gained?

We did actually see the timer get down to zero and it was replaced by--some symbols. I'm sure there are some who TiVOed the episode who can break down exactly what the symbols were and speculate on what they mean. If you want to see what flipped up, you can go here and see a screen capture. But I found it interesting to wonder--what happens if they all line up. And are the colors of black and red of significance?

And finally, we have the throw-away plotline of the week with Sawyer. Seems a tree frog is driving Sawyer nuts. And we see that everyone on the island is pretty pissed at him. The only help he can find is Hurley, who we find out has been hoarding food. They track down said frog and Hurley offers to take it somewhere else in the island, only to have Sawyer crush the frog in his fist. At first, I thought this lighter plot was there to off set how dark the Sayid plotline was, but then when Saywer crushed the frog, I think the point was to have the entire Sawyer arc recapped in a quick little burst. See, he seems like he's wacky and misunderstood, but in the end, he does whatever it takes to ensure his comfort and position.

Lesson learned. Again.

And now, we have a wait of a few weeks for new episodes..

posted by Michael Hickerson at 2/16/2006 07:54:00 AM | |
Wednesday, February 15, 2006
Something I wonder about...
Why is the Westminster Dog Show covered in the sports page?

I mean, I get that it's a competition and all, but does it really qualify as a sport?

Of course, people also say NASCAR's a sport....so go figure!

posted by Michael Hickerson at 2/15/2006 10:18:00 AM | |

In memory: Andreas Katsulas
Sad news for fans of Babylon Five. The man who brought Ambassador G'Kar to life has passed away. Andreas Katsulas passed away Monday at the age of 59.

Katsulas is also known for the role of Tomalak, a Romulan commander who faced off with Picard during seasons two through four of Next Generation. You can see Katsulas sans heavy make up as the one-armed man in the big screen adaptation of The Fugitive.

Katsulas was a great actor with a very distinctive voice. His work as Ambassador and then citizen G'Kar on Babylon Five was nothing short of extraordinary. In season four, executive producer and all-around creative genius J. Michael Stracysnki wrote an entire episode that featured nothing but pairings of people in a room, talking. One of those pairings was Katsula's G'Kar and Peter Jurassic's Ambassador Londo Mollari. Set in the midst of a huge story arc that had more than its fair share of great action, the scenes of Londo and G'Kar talking back and forth are among some of the most rivetting ever seen not only on B5 but on all of TV. A true showcase for two great actors.

My thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends during this time of loss and mourning.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 2/15/2006 07:41:00 AM | |
Tuesday, February 14, 2006
It's THAT day...
Well, it's Valentine's Day--or as we single people call it, yet another reminder that we'll die old and alone, watching our Star Trek and Doctor Who DVDs over and over again, muttering how much no one really understands us...oh wait, that's just me.

Anyway, it's hard to not be bitter when you're a single person on this day that, for the most part, celebrates romantic love. I could be bitter and tell the story about how a few years ago, in a Sunday School class, a female friend complained vitriolically about the lack of a date for the big day and she just wanted to go out for dinner on the big day and not feel lonely. So, stupid me, I approached her, asked her out for dinner on the day as friends and was told she'd get back to me. I did re-approach her a few times and was given the same answer until her friend clued me that said female was waiting on a call from one particular guy and that I had basically no chance, so stop asking.

But luckily, I'm not feeling bitter nor in the mood to share that story.

I find it kind of ironic that I won a prize in the Ms. Cheap's Valentine's Day contest since my celebration of the big day will involve working, then swiming laps and then watching the latest episode of Gilmore Girls and The Shield tonight.

But I am trying to let the people in my life who I care about know that I care about them on this day--and hopefully the other 364 days of the year as well. I will be helping my sister and her husband have a quiet evening out when I babysit the niece and nephew free of charge (hey, it's a chance to spend quality time with them and continue my quest to make them both Dr Who fans) and I was fortunate to win the gift card so I could let my parents have a nice evening out as well. And sure I'm not in a romantic relationship right now, but I am blessed to have a great family who loves me and a lot of good friends who I care about and who care about me.

And looking on the bright side--I've got 364 more days to find a potential date for V Day next year. I'll look into that right after The Shield this evening....

posted by Michael Hickerson at 2/14/2006 10:00:00 AM | |

TV Round-Up: 24
My thoughts on the latest episode of 24 are over at All Along the Watchtower. I think the commenting system over there was running slow yesterday but I hope it's working again today. If it's not, comments are welcome here and there....

posted by Michael Hickerson at 2/14/2006 08:30:00 AM | |
Monday, February 13, 2006
TV Round-Up
My round-ups for Battlestar Galactica and Veronica Mars are up at All Along the Watchtower.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 2/13/2006 12:18:00 PM | |

I'm trying to be a good sport..I really am.
It should come as no shock to anyone who visits this blog that I love UT and UT athletics. Living in Nashville, surrounded by a lot of Vanderbilt fans, I've tried my best to be a good sport. I smiled and took the ribbing and mocking when Vanderbilt finally got over the hump and beat the Vols in football this year. I've kept my (at least in my mind) witty comeback that Vandy should enjoy it since the pattern since the 22 years are going to be brutal. But I've taken the high road...and it's been hard to do.

Especially now that it's basketball season.

Listening to sports call in shows and reading some of the coach's comments after games vs UT just irritates me. I was annoyed after the men's team won and I'm a bit more annoyed now.

In case you missed it, the Lady Commodores travelled to Knoxville yesterday to play the Lady Vols. The Lady Vols won by three, overcoming a big deficit with some solid defense and a will to win down the stretch. (Actually I think it was more a fear of Pat Summitt's wrath (it makes Khan's wrath look like a mild misunderstanding) than anything else). The Lady Vols rallied and won the game. And it didn't take long for Vanderbilt to start crying foul--as in the disparity of free-throw shots take by each team. Seems the Lady Vols got a ton more free throw shots and Vandy did. Which if you look at the pure stats on paper, it bears that out. But then you've got coach Melanie Balcolm whining in The Tennessean this morning that the final foul that Vandy committed that sealed the game just wasn't fair.

It just galls me how quick Vandy is to cry homecooking when Tennessee wins while completely ignoring that they get the same kind of homecooking at Memorial Gym. The thing is--a good team will use that as an excuse to why they didn't win. A great team will use overcome such a thing and still win the game.

Hence why the Lady Vols are a great team and the Lady Commodores are only good. And great beats good every time. The winning percentage heavily in favor of the Lady Vols bears that out. And until Vandy decides it's time to be great and stop relying on excuses, they'll only be a good team at best.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 2/13/2006 09:56:00 AM | |

I'm a winner!
No, I didn't win the huge Powerball jackpot Saturday night. If I had, I'd be blogging this entry from my new high tech wireless laptop somewhere warm like Tahti, sitting on the beach or by the pool, sipping one of them fancy drinks with an umbrella in it.

But I am a winner.

The phone rang early Saturday morning. It was my sister calling up to congratulate me on being a winner in the Ms. Cheap inexpensive Valentine's Day contest. For those of you not in middle Tennessee, Ms. Cheap is a column in The Tennessean that lists ways to save money and lots of events around town to enjoy on the frugal side. A few weeks ago, I saw she was running a contest for a romantic but inexpensive way to let your significant other know you cared on Valentine's Day. I had an idea, so I sent it in.

And I won!

I have to say I'm pretty impressed with myself.

My idea? Well, let me quote from Ms. Cheap's column on Saturday:
I think you'll also love Smyrna resident Michael Hickerson's high-tech romantic touch: "Get a free Web page from somewhere like GeoCities and then create a Web page for your sweetie, maybe listing 100 things that you love about them or writing a poem. With GeoCities you have the option to point, click and easily drop in things such as pictures, etc. . . . Set the URL as the home page for your sweetie on Valentine's Day. When he or she opens up their Web browser on Valentine's Day, this pops up.''
There were also some other great ways to let your significant other know you care listed in the column in case you're reading this and going--hey wait...you mean Valentine's Day is tomorrow?!?

My prize: I won a gift certificate to Sunset Grill in town, which I am giving to my parents so they can enjoy a nice Valentine's Day dinner out.

See, I'm romantic and I'm frugal...if that combination intrigues you ladies, let me say that, yes I am single.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 2/13/2006 08:19:00 AM | |
Sunday, February 12, 2006
Special Edition #1--I'm Just Like You, But I Have a Podcast
Live from Espresso Joe's in beautiful Smyra, Tennessee comes the official podcast of the Middle Tennessee bloggers and podcasters group. Joining us this month are TN Girl, Gunner, Harelip Frog, The Comment Tater, Bad, Bad Ivy and yours truely.

You can go here to listen or your can download the file directly here. We hope you enjoy the podcast and will make plans to join us for the next meeting, if you're in the middle Tennesse area.

Next meeting is scheduled for March 18th at 2 p.m. CST.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 2/12/2006 09:09:00 AM | |
Saturday, February 11, 2006
Middle TN Blogger Meetup Notes
So, I was able to make it to the world-famous middle Tennessee podcasters group a bit late...I prefer to think of it as making a dramatic entrance.

Anyway, we recorded a podcast but we're having technical difficulties getting it uploaded. I promise to upload it and share it soon so that those of you who missed the meeting can hear what it was like. And hopefully make some plans to be there next month with us. Our next meeting is March 18th. Or as I call it--day after the new Dr Who premieres on SciFi day....so you know what I'll be talking about...

So, the podcast will be up and live soon.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 2/11/2006 03:23:00 PM | |
Friday, February 10, 2006
It's going to snow!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Snow alert! Snow alert!

They're predicting 2-4 inches of snow! Look out! It's going to snow!

I feel this insane urge to rush to Kroger or Publix and buy up a ton of bread and milk. And maybe a couple of six-packs of beer too! You never know how long we'll be trapped!

I'd better leave now before the dog sled is needed....

posted by Michael Hickerson at 2/10/2006 04:03:00 PM | |

Awwwwwwwwwwwwwwww, man!
Awwwwwwwwwwww, man ! I knew it was too good to last....

Image hosting by Photobucket

My love affair with Survivor Melinda came to an abrupt end last night when she was voted off the show. I've got to say that Melinda got completely hosed by a bunch of weenies and even by the people in her alleged alliance. Cherie's crying at tribal council about how she wanted her family to be proud probably sealed the deal on the weenie allinace voting for Melinda over Cherie--who deserved to go home! But hey...the game's about manipulating those around you to keep your happy self on the island for three more days.


Looking bummed out cause she knows the weenies in her tribe are gonna vote her out...

If I were out there, I'd have voted for Shane just for hinting that he wanted to quit and go home. You never know when that will to quit or give up is going to come back--and let's face it, we all know it is! And I have to think that the alliance of NASA guy and jet-pilot guy should have thrown the immunity challenge to get their third little buddy back on the team and into their alliance.

But, they never asked my advice on how to play the game.

So, I'm pretty bummed out now that Melinda is gone. But hey, now that she's officially voted out, she might have more time to surf around, find my blog, realize that I'm a pretty nice all around guy and give me a call. Like I said last week--the story could have romantic comedy written all over it.


"I wonder if my tribe knows they're a bunch of weenies..."

So, if any of you East Tennessee bloggers or reporter people (such as Michael Silence) get to talk to her or interview her, how about a good word for a lonely blogger with a crush?

posted by Michael Hickerson at 2/10/2006 07:22:00 AM | |
Thursday, February 09, 2006
TV Round-Up: Lost
Lost: The Long Con
"A tiger can't change it's stripes."

After half a season of trying to soften Sawyer, Lost takes him back to his con-man roots and the series is the better for it. I liked seeing Sawyer's loyalty to Jin and Michael when he was with the Others, but to see him sitting around, making nice with everyone and making googly eyes at Kate was becoming a bit old. Where is the old Sawyer, I wondered. The self-serving, jerk that we all came to know and love during season one.

The answer: He never really left.

Seems that Sawyer has been playing everyone all this time.

Now, I love episodes like this where a character's true colors are revealed or some truth is learned but yet, when you think about in the context of the series, it make a whole lot of sense. One of the best examples of this is the revelation mid-way through DS9 that Doctor Bashir is a genetically enhanced human....it's one of those revelations that explained a lot about the character and who he was in just about every epiosde up to that point and one that influenced the series and the character dynamics for the rest of the run.

The big difference is that here, we knew Sawyer was a con-man from the first time we saw his backstory. But deep down, it was easy to hope that behind that pain and gruff exterior there wa a heart of gold waiting to get out. And I'll give Lost credit--it played that like a fiddle with this character. But now, we find out that pretty much all of what Sawyer has done is, typically, self-serving. He's conned everyone yet again. It just took a bit longer to set up this time. You get the feeling that he was just bidding his time, setting things up so that he could spring this trap on everyone and put himself into a position of power. He played Locke and Jack against each other, he's manipulated Kate and he's used Charlie. (I have to admit, I never saw that Charlie was helping him coming...I assumed until the end that it was Ana Lucia since they worked so hard to point the finger at her and then exonerate her). Sawyer has burned a lot of bridges now and as Kate points out, he wants to be hated.

Must be good for Charlie. Cause let's face it--right now, Sawyer may be the most hated man on the island.

The thing is--he's so good at the manipulation. In his backstory, you really believed he loved Cassidy. And to see him betray both her and his partner was a heck of a twist on the con. He conned them both. I will have to say that I didn't necessarily find the flashbacks much to write home about since it only reiforced what we already know about Sawyer. But it did help set-up his double-crossing everyone on the island and how he manipulates all those around him. The line about the woman being hurt and disappointed in his actions pretty much covered Cassidy and Kate. Of course, with Cassidy, Sawyer could just vanish into the night. With Kate, he still has to face her on the island.

I know we've had some examination of Sawyer's story and what made him what he is. But I found myself wondering as the story ended--what makes Sawyer so self-loathing that he has to sabotage every relationship he has--not just romantic but any friendship. I'd love to see the flashbacks address this--not that I think there is one reason or event that caused this to happen, but maybe we could see some stories that look into this. Heaven knows if we can get 17 flashbacks of Jack a year, surely we can work in one or two more about Sawyer.

I've theorized before that the island seems to give people what they want or need. If that's so, then Sawyer has a long way to go. If the island is about giving people a chance at redemption or atoning for previous sins, then Sawyer hasn't really made any progress in that department. If anything, he's more selfish and self-loathing than ever.

And that's just the way we like the character...

posted by Michael Hickerson at 2/09/2006 09:10:00 AM | |
Wednesday, February 08, 2006
The magical season rolls on...
Congratulations to Bruce Pearl, Chris Lofton and the rest of the Tennessee basketball team for a big win last night over the Kentucky Wildcats in Rupp Arena.

In a big, nationally televised game that the Vols should have won, they did. They showed the country what the new era of UT basketball is all about--discipline, hard work and playing as a team. As I've said before, the football team could take some notes here and maybe consider putting those factors into the equation come September.

One thing I love this year is how even when things appear to be shifting toward our opponent, the Vols never lose confidence and you never feel like they're out of a game. I'm not going to make any bold predictions on where we might land come tournament time or how far we'll go. I'm just going to sit back and enjoy the ride, taking pride in the UT men's basketball team.

And you gotta love Pearl's marketing strategy off the court. I love the attitude he has of--let's go and make Georgia a home game for UT with buses of fans from Knoxville and encouraging fans from Chattanooga and Atlanta to snap up the extra tickets. I love it--if UGA doesn't care about their team, might as well have the Tennessee faithful there. Bruce--you are the man!

I don't know what they're paying Bruce Pearl, but he's worth every dime.

He's not only made Tennessee better, but he's making the SEC better as a conference. I know it's hard to make the best conference in everything better, but he's raised the level for the better....

posted by Michael Hickerson at 2/08/2006 08:13:00 AM | |
Tuesday, February 07, 2006
I guess it CAN sell anything....
A couple of years ago, I was checking firing off an e-mail using Yahoo Mail when my good buddy Todd wandered by my office, saw my screen and commented, "Yes, I guess they'll use sex to advertise anything these days."

I looked up at my screen to be greeted by a smiling woman in a bikini, who was encouraging me to use one of Yahoo's services--I think it was the Yahoo! Finance service. Yeah, because you know nothing says "stock tip" like a woman in a bikini! The only thing I can think of is that if the stock you're buying really bottoms out, at least you can see the woman in the bikini to make yourself feel better...

But again, you're kind of limiting your audience there..

Anyway, yesterday I surfed over to AdJab to read their wrap-up of all the Super Bowl commericals and was reminded of that conversation yet again. Seems a toothpaste brand called Beverly Hills Formula has a new print ad that features a young boy finding his mom in the shower and regaling here with random nuggets of wisdom on why you should have healthy teeth. (The ad is here and the article is here)

I have to agree with AdJab's assessment that this might be funnier if it were a TV ad with some quick cutting, but on the printed page it's just a bit too bizarre and borders on creepy. For one thing, there doesn't appear to be any water running in the shower and for the other, the little kid has that weird look the kid from The Shining did. And while it's kind of funny, it makes me wonder--what in the name of George Gordon Liddy does it have to do with toothpaste?

Of course, maybe in some way the marketing for this product has succeeded. Because whether it's relevant or not, I remember the ad and the product being advertised...

posted by Michael Hickerson at 2/07/2006 03:03:00 PM | |
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    Michael/Male/31-35. Lives in United States/Tennessee/Smyrna, speaks English. Eye color is brown. I am in shape. I am also creative. My interests are Reading/Swimming laps.
    This is my blogchalk:
    United States, Tennessee, Smyrna, English, Michael, Male, 31-35, Reading, Swimming laps.



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