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Friday, March 31, 2006
The Power of Prayer
The New York Times has an article talking about the latest scientific study that anonymous prayer has no affect on sick people.

Now, I'd be all riled up and upset about this if it weren't for the fact that these scientific studies related to medical issues come out every other week and most of them contradict each other. One week bran flakes are the absolute best thing for your body and the next week they aren't. Or one week eggs are good for you, the next if you eat one your cholesterol will go through the roof and you'll have a heart attack right then and there!

So, you can see why I can't get too worked up about this study. We had a study a while ago that said that prayer had benefits, now we have one that says there aren't any.

I think the thing the study misses is that it isn't really the prayer itself that is the cental thing. It's the faith and the belief behind it that's important. I also think that too many times, we get this oversimplified view of prayer.

I think about this old Peanuts cartoon. Sally is out in an empty field. She says, "Star light, star bright, first star I see tonight. I wish I may, I wish I might, have the wish I wish tonight. I wish I had a pony." She then looks left, looks right and seeing no pony goes, "Stupid star!"

It seems to me that a lot of times prayer is seen this way. It's like a laundry list of things we want or we see God as some kind of Santa Claus who is going to grant our every wish. And yes, it does say in the Bible to pray to God for all things you want, but it's not to be like a kid on Christmas morning or Bruce in Bruce Almighty and get your hearts every desire. It's because God is our heavenly Father and wants us to have a conversation with Him. And sometimes to get to the heart of the matter, we have to get past the "I want" stuff and really get down, dirty and talking to God.

And prayer is supposed to be a conversation with God we have on a regular basis, not just when we want or need something. I know that in times of troulbe it's easier to turn to God and sometimes as humans we are quick to give ourselves too much credit and forget about God when times are good. But Scripture says we should give thanks in all circumstances.

Also, let's face it--sometimes what we ask for in prayer isn't exactly what's best for us. And God knows it. And yet, He listens to us ask for these things even though they aren't what we really need or want.

And my experience has shown me the power of prayer and that God does answer it and bless us in amazing ways beyond our imagining from it. I have only to look to see my sister and her two amazing children to have firm, concrete proof that God does listen and He does answer prayers.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 3/31/2006 12:36:00 PM | |

Free pass?
Driving in to work this morning, I was flipping around between the various local sports call in shows. On WNSR, Greg Pogue and David Coleman fielded a call from a UT fan who felt the Nashville media gave Mario Moore a "free pass" when it came to not revealing the details of why he took a leave of absense from the team during basketball season. Moore has since come out and stated why he was put took time off and why he was suspended to start the season.

The caller kept going on at some length about how if it were a UT player, the full details would be all over the media and there would be many salivating over every sordid detail.

Pogue correctly pointed out about privacy laws and how it affected the entire Moore situation. And that had Moore not sought to defend himself by sitting down with various journalists in town and telling us his side of the story, we'd never have known what happened.

As I listened, I will admit the caller was not going to be convinced that there wasn't some kind of Vandy bias in the local media. I've noticed it a bit in the whole way that some media outlets that seem to act as if Vandy's doo-doo don't stink, but I honestly wonder how much of that is the little brother mentality that Vanderbilt seems to suffer from.

That said, I can see how the caller might feel as if Moore and Vandy got a free pass. (Not from Pogue and WNSR, per se.) During the height of the story's being part of the sports consiousness in Nashville, there was a certain other competiting morning show host that basically came out and stated he knew what Moore was suspended but it was too personal and we fans didn't need to know. I think that attitude of--well, I know but I'm not going to tell you, might have been what riled up this particular fan.

And I can see how you can follow the train of thought and figure that Vanderbilt is getting a free pass from the local media.

Honestly, I don't think they did get a free pass. But in the day and age of sports talk radio when we, as sports fans, think we know it all and can armchair quarterback every sporting event to death on the airwaves 24/7, I can see how we might start to feel as if we're entitled to know it all.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 3/31/2006 12:15:00 PM | |

My past life...
And here I thought I was Ivan the Terrible or something like that...




In a Past Life...



You Were: A Banished Viking.



Where You Lived: Quebec.



How You Died: Killed in Battle.



posted by Michael Hickerson at 3/31/2006 11:29:00 AM | |
Thursday, March 30, 2006
TV Round-Up: Lost
Lockdown
I've figured out the big secret of Lost! The castaways are...the lost 13th colony from Battlestar Galactica!

I had some flashbacks to the big Stonehenge scene with the symbols in the sky from earlier this year on "Home, Part 2" of Galactica. I honestly expected to see Six come out and start talking to Locke and only he could see her!

Or more likely, she'd be talking to Henry Gale.

Who we have now thankfully outed as an Other. I think we all knew it, but I will give the show credit. It sewed in just enough seeds of doubt that I wasn't really sure. I mean, sure he had to be an Other, but then that would be just too obvious. So maybe by making it too obvious, they were making us think it was too obvious and...well, I think that gives you a little glimpse inside the insanity that is my mind. Imagine swimming laps where your mind subconciously works over these things for hours on end....

Is it any wonder I am the way I am?

But back to Lost. This week, it's time to focus on Locke and his backstory. It's kind of a go-to-the-well type of week since just about anytime we go to Locke, it's going to be good. And not just because his story is so fascinating but because damn Terry O'Quinn is good. I think we can forget that sometimes when we see the same basic Jack vs Locke pissing contest replayed over and over again, week in and week out. But the way that O'Quinn brings Locke to life both on the island and in the life before the island is a thing of beauty.

This time around, Locke has issues of abandonment. Which you can kind of understand what with his dad showing up, pretended to love him and then stealing a kidney. Now Dad's faked his own death and needs Locke to go and pick up some cash he swindled from some retirees. To the tune of $700,000. Locke will get $200,000 if he helps Dad out. Meanwhile, Helen is still in his life and he's going to ask her to marry him since it seems he's finally worked past his father-issues. And then he has to lie and well, we can all see where it's going. About the only winner in this situation is the maid at the hotel who got one hell of a tip since we didn't see Locke go back for the huge pile of cash that was sitting around. You know, I've got to wonder how he's going to explain that sudden in-flux of cash to the IRS should he put it into his account. Of course, I guess with the death of his dad, he could say he was the beneficary of a large insurance policy, but that seems like it'd raise some red flags.

Meanwhile, Locke is trapped in the hatch, which has suddenly gone lockdown mode for some reason. What set it off? I'm not really sure on that. And Locke is forced to free Gail in order to help him punch the button. And there's a few minutes where Henry crawls through the duct work and we wonder if he's taken his chance to run out on Locke. Of course, Henry has helped his own cause by getting Locke to promise to protect him no matter what happens. I have a feeling this is going to come back to haunt Locke.

Outside the Hatch, Jack actually cracks a smile and stops being dour for a few minutes. He play a few hands of poker with Sawyer, winning first fruit and then medical supplies. I loved the scene where Sawyer asked Jack why Jack didn't gamble for the guns and Jack just calmly says--when I need the guns, I'll get them. Sewing seeds for the sesaon finale--you betcha! But you know what? I liked it.

As well as the last ten or so minutes when Sayid, Ana Lucia and Charlie show up and the big denouncement that Gale is an Other comes out.

Oh and where'd all that food come from? Was it a gift from the Cylons? Oh wait...I'm crossing shows again.

At least Lost is moving forward a bit. Sure it's that whole answer one question, bring up 12 more..but at least the feeling of treading water is gone.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 3/30/2006 07:40:00 AM | |
Wednesday, March 29, 2006
1500th post!
Today, I've reached a milestone in blogging--my 1500th post!

I'm proud, shocked and stunned that I've made it to this huge milestone in my blog-life. I'd like to thank all of you who've made this whole thing so much fun with your comments, e-mails and random gifts.

And now, it's on to the next 1500.

And I promise you--they'll be just as random as the first 1500. Oh yeah, and I will mention Doctor Who early and often.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 3/29/2006 08:51:00 AM | |

Freaking out over The DaVinci Code
In my in-box this morning was a message from Crosswalk.com, imploring me to help spread the word about Josh McDowell's book, The Da Vinci Code: A Quest for Answers.

Seems that Crosswalk has been receiving some e-mails from confused people who are getting confused by the fictional story The DaVinci Code. And with the book going mass-market paperback this week and getting the Hollywood treatment with the tag-team of Ron Howard and Tom Hanks, the questions of what is the truth and what isn't are expected to go through the roof.

And my reaction to this controversy is the same as always--people, it's just a book. It's not reality. It's a suspense-thriller by Dan Brown. In the same way the Tom Clancy incorporates elements of real world espionage and technology into his books, so does Dan Brown incorporate elements of the life of Christ and the creation of the Catholic church into his story. In both cases, they are just elements of a story. They may use the real world or real events as a staring point but that doesn't necessarily make the overall conclusions real or valid. They're elements in the telling of a good story.

And it will be the same thing with the movie. Just becuase it's on the big screen or the printed page doesn't necessarily make it true.

So why are people getting their noses out of joint about this book and movie? I can see that it doesn't paint the Catholic church in a very good light. But then again, there are a lot of books that may not paint the Catholic church in a good light. How many of them get to be New York Times bestsellers for eleventy-billion weeks though?

The thing I don't understand the most is why people would accept the book at face-value. Why would someone read it and say--wow, this sure seems real, so it must be true. I've read a lot of science-fiction novels in my time and one thing that authors will work hard to do is make their universes believable and authentic. This does not mean that I think there is a planet out there called Arakasis that holds this spice that will help humanity figure out how to easily travel the large expanses of the universe. But in the context of the Dune novels, it works for the story. Same thing with The DaVinci Code. I do not necessarily think that Jesus was married to Mary Magdaline and that their child and blood line is the Holy Grail. But for the sake of enjoying The DaVinci Code for what it is--a fictional novel--I can accept that for the context of the story.

And yes, the movie is marketing itself as a search for "the truth." But I no more think that what the movie purports to be its truth will have any more bearing on the real world or be an accurate reflection of the real world than I thought that Mulder's quest to find the truth about the existence of aliens would be an actual reflection of the real world. They're both elements of a fictional universe--nothing more, nothing less.

That said, I like what the web-site Crosswalk linked to had to say. Instead of wanting to ban the movie or attacking the book, they see it as an opportunity to witness and share the faith. Instead of greeting the person with questions with hostility and a closed mind, you embrace them, understand their questions and take a chance to share with them the reality of who Jesus is. I find that open-mindedness and want to reach out to those who question to be wonderful and what I'd like to think Christianity is all about. And the books seems to be a way to help these elements and find a way to talk about them to a person with question.

But I haven't read the book (the McDowell book...I read Dan Brown's The DaVinci Code two years ago) so I can't say for sure. There is that old adage about not judging a book by its cover. I'd add you shouldn't necessarily judge a book by its marketing campaign either....

posted by Michael Hickerson at 3/29/2006 08:18:00 AM | |
Tuesday, March 28, 2006
NFL announces season-starting match-ups
Is it just me or is anyone else in town a bit weary of hearing about the NFL draft? I've heard the merits of trading the pick, taking Leinert, Young or Culter for weeks now and am about at the point of just wishing the whole thing could get here and be over with. (For the record: Jake Cutler, still a bad idea for the Titans).

Oh and please don't get me started on T.O. going to the most hated franchise in all football. I hope he and the Cowboys are very happy together and by very happy, I mean they somehow lose every game.

Anyway, the NFL has announced a few of the games that will lead off the NFL season in September. All of the games look intriguing, though I guess we should apologize to the fans of The Office now who are going to be up in arms that the show is pre-empted that evening for the Pittsburgh vs Miami game.

Of the five games, I have to admit the one that interests me most is the Washington vs Minnesota game. But that's really because I love the Redskins and any chance for national television exposure for my team is a good thing. I will also admit NBC got a great deal with the first ever game between the Manning brothers as their kick-off to Sunday night football. That one should be hyped through the roof between now and then! (Let me help out: It will be the greatest game ever played between two siblings...until the next one!) And it looks like Fox lost the bet on this deal, only getting the Dallas (yaaaaaaaaaawn) vs Jacksonville (double yaaaaaaaaaaawn) contest as their marquee match-up for the opening day of the NFL. Oh well, maybe we'll see the beginning of T.O.'s fade into obscurity. Yeah, that'd be cool.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 3/28/2006 12:36:00 PM | |

TV Round-Up: 24
Day Five, 9 - 10 p.m.
Back in the 60's Doctor Who embarked on an ambitious, 12-part story featuring the Doctor doing battle with his greatest nemesis, the Daleks. The story was penned by two writers--Terry Nation and Dennis Spooner. The two writers would alternate episodes of the story. The classic Doctor Who series was built around having a cliffhanger in the action at the conclusion of every episode. According to reports, Nation and Spooner relished writing their contribution to the story and creating one outrageous cliffhanger after another just to see how the other would tap dance out of it.

So what does this have to do with 24? (I mean other than my obsessive need to bring Doctor Who into every conversation I have these days?) Well, in a lot of ways, 24 is built the same way as the classic Doctor Who--each episode builds up to a tension-filled moment that serves as a cliffhanger. The cliffhanger is designed to make us want to come back next week and see how it all gets resolved. Sometimes this is a bit more successful than others.

I'd have to say the cliffhanger to end last week was one of the less successful ones. From a shock value point and as a conversation starter around the watercooler, the idea that Audrey Raines would be a traitor is an interesting one. I know it was a theory I had last season that never came to fruition so to see it come up now was intersting. Especially in light of the fact that Jack and Audrey seem to be on the road to recovering what they lost when we all thought Jack was dead for a year or so. Now, all that has been thrown into chaos since I doubt Audrey is going to quickly forget that Jack was gripping her by the throat and shoving her up against the wall. Of course, the show could have at least brought up that Audrey was considered a suspect since her family had a history of being unwittingly manuevered by the bad guys as we saw last year. But, then again, we can't have too many call backs to previous days or else people will get confused. (Oh yeah, by the way, are the Chinese going to ever get a clue that Jack is still alive?)

Jack quickly figures out that Henderson is using Audrey's name to get at Jack. See, Audrey is a red herring, allowing the terrorists to get to a gas refinery and start pumping the Sentox into the system. Get the pressure low enough and the Sentox will be delivered to bunches of home in the area.

So wait....I'm confused here. And this may be me thinking too much again. I thought that Bierko was the head terrorist behind this elaborate plot but not it appears that we're shifting that focus to Henderson. How many masterminds does this plot actually have? It seems as if the head honcho bad guy shifts based on who is in custody. Oh Henderson is in custody, it must be Bierko. And now that Bierko is in custody, it will be Henderson. I bet we'll really find out in the end that the great criminal mastermind behind this is really....wait for it...wait for it..Nina Meyers. Seems that Nina is back from beyond the grave. She possessed Miss Cleo and is using her to mastermind this evil terrorist plot in some kind of insane revenge upon Jack, who she knew wasn't dead cause she never saw him hanging around the afterlife...

Speaking of the death of Jack--should Jack buy the farm come season's end, I think we have found our new hero for next year: Aaron Pierce. How much fun would it be for him to have his own show?

Meanwhile, back at CTU, Edgar's replacement arrives. And she happens to have been a chem major who can offer up a nugget of wisdom at exactly the right moment.

And she's accused one of the Homeland Security guys of sexual harrassment. At first, Chloe is sympathetic and then we see the woman in action. Seems that Bill patting her on the back and telling her good job is deemed inappropriate by her. This is why men live in fear of ever even smiling at a woman at the office because heaven forbid it be misconstrued as sexual harrassment. The thing is--should Bill be accused of it, he'll be seen as guilty no matter what. Even if he is exonerated of the charges, he'll still have that stigma attached to him. I hope he's saved up for retirement cause his career is pretty much over now.

I have to admit the actress who played Sherry looked familiar, but I can't place where I've seen here before. So, can anyone help me on that front? (Sure, I could look at IMDB, but I'm trolling for comments here!)

And finally, I have to wonder--if the lower PSI renders the Sentox inert, would raising the pressure back to a normal level make it go inert again? I mean, sure if it gets in the system, then having Jack blow up the place real good is far more visually interesting and we get to see Keifer Sutherland outrunning explosions. But surely it'd seem more cost effective in that whole not having to build a new gas plant mode of thinking to raise the pressure and nuetralize the Sentox that way.

Also, if they used all 17 canisters there, what is there left for Henderson to do to threaten CTU and the safety of our country?

Has the main plot of the season ended too soon? Or will there be another plot thread to chase after these last few hours of day five?

posted by Michael Hickerson at 3/28/2006 07:45:00 AM | |
Monday, March 27, 2006
TV Round-Up
Doctor Who: The Unquiet Dead
For some reason, I never reviewed this episode the first time around. So, I'm making up for lost time now

One of the original tenants of Doctor Who was to be an eduational tool. Send the TARDIS crew back in time, have them interract with historical figures and witness historical events and hopefully, whet the interest of the intended audience to history. It was designed to make histroy less stuffy and boring and more relevant.

And, at first, these were successful. But unlike Quantum Leap where you never quite knew which major historical pop-culture figure Sam might interact with, Doctor Who, for the most part avoided meeting up with significant historical figures (well, outside of the superbly done "The Crusades" back in the mid-60's that is). Sure, the Doctor would refer to having met some significant historical person but it was rare that we saw them on screen. And while the TARDIS would travel back in time to various periods in history, the stories were less about the historial aspect and more about using history as a setting.

So, it's interesting that three episodes into the new season of Doctor Who not only do we travel backward in time, but we also meet up with a major historical figure. The Doctor takes Rose back in time to 1869, where they meet up with Charles Dickens. It's Christmas time and the TARDIS lands in Cardiff where Dickens has come to perform some of his work. Meanwhile, a local funeral home is having problems--seems the dead are getting up and walking around.

Turns out it's the Gelf, an alien race who are gaseous. When we did, there is enough gas in our bodies that they can take over and move about for a period of time. The Gelf were victims of the Time War and want the Doctor to help release them. Seems the funeral home is on the juncture of a space-time rift that the Gelf want opened. They'll only need the help of a local woman who has second sight to open the rift.

Playing on the Doctor's sense of guilt and isolation, the Gelf trick him into helping them open the rift. Then, as we all expected, we find they have another agenda besides being sweet and friendly. They've decided that Earth looks good, so they'll take it.

Of the first three episodes, I'll have to admit "The Unquiet Dead" is the strongest. It may even be the strongest of the first five or so stories from the new season. It's a quietier story and one that's fairly straightforward. Novelist and Doctor Who fan Mark Gattiss delivers a script that moves ably forward and while it has some character elements, it doesn't shift wildly in tone from moment to moment like "End of the World." Instead, what we get is a story that would have been right at home in the golden-era of Hinchliffe and Holmes. Indeed, there are a lot of scenes in this one that seem a direct home to the much-loved story of that era "The Talons of Weing-Chiang."

Even the direction seems more assured than in the first two stories. The effects are well done and less obvious and you can see Eccleston really starting to step up and take command as the ninth Doctor. His sense of isolation and being utterly alone in the universe increases. And there are some genuinely Doctor-like moments when he shows up and inserts himself into the events.

I'll admit over the past few weeks, I've been delving into the first season of Star Trek: The Next Generation. Those first few episodes were, to be frank, pretty disappointing. After putting all the eggs in the launch of the show basket, you get the feeling the writing staff was still uncertain of where the show was going or what it would be (something that would plague the show really for its first two years...until the arrival of Michael Piller). But as I was watching those early episodes and then re-watching the early episodes of the new Doctor Who I was struck by home quickly the new Who hits the ground running. As critical as I may be of the early episodes, they're no where as wince inducing as "Code of Honor" from TNG, where it's like a two-by-four to the head with the subtelty about the issue of the Prime Directive. (It's not once but twice!) The new Doctor Who seems to have some direction and vision behind it early on and that seems to increase as the season goes along. It pays homage to the past, but it doesn't try to emulate the success of the original show to such an extend that it hampers the storytelling and character development. But then again, Doctor Who was a show built on change and evolving each time a new actor or producer came on the scene.

I know in the shuffle of how great "Dalek" was and how superlative that "The Empty Child" and "The Doctor Dances" were, "The Unquiet Dead" can get lost in the shuffle. And that's a shame really. It's a well-done, entertaining and fairly straight-forward story that pays homage to the rich past of Doctor Who while showing off the new bells and whistles of the modern era.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 3/27/2006 08:22:00 AM | |

It's official....
I'm feel like a Nashvillian again. I finally got to see Walk the Line over the weekend. At last, I finally got around to seeing one of the films I most wanted to check out over the holidays. I'm only three and a half months behind.

Now, all I have to do is see King Kong and Narnia...

posted by Michael Hickerson at 3/27/2006 07:38:00 AM | |
Friday, March 24, 2006
It's so...small...
I stopped by Sonic tonight for one of those advertised 99 cents junior banana splits. Based on the commercials I expected a decent sized treat--enough to enjoy but not so much that I'd be doing a lot of extra laps tomorrow.

Well, let me tell you, they ain't lying when they say junior in front of this thing. It was a whole lot smaller than I expected.

But hey...looking on the bright side--not as many laps tomorrow.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 3/24/2006 09:46:00 PM | |

Yeah, I pretty much got nothing...
Your Birthdate: January 19

You are resilient, and no doubt your resilience has already been tested.
You've had some difficult experiences in your life, but you are wise from them.
Having had to grow up quickly, you tend to discount the advice of others.
You tend to be a loner, having learned that the only person you can depend on is yourself.

Your strength: Well developed stability and confidence

Your weakness: Suspicion of others

Your power color: Eggplant

Your power symbol: Spade

Your power month: October


posted by Michael Hickerson at 3/24/2006 08:59:00 AM | |
Thursday, March 23, 2006
Veronica Mars on the move...
Someone over at UPN figured out that I love Veronica Mars and added me to an e-mail list for fans. In the past couple of days, I've got an invitation to an on-line press conference, an invite to take picture of myself and friends watching the show (which would be hilarious because it show my friends cowering in fear as I'd threatened to kill any of them is they spoke during the show...) and today they sent over a press-release about the show moving to Tuesdays. Here's the official word:

We wanted to let you know that UPN announced today that they are moving Veronica Mars back to her original time period on Tuesdays at 9 PM. Starting April 11, tune in to UPN on Tuesday nights to catch all new episodes of Veronica Mars through the season finale on May 9. Repeats will air on Wednesday nights at 9 pm ET/PT for the first couple of weeks.

The hope is that more people will be able to tune-in to Veronica on Tuesdays. So, tell all your friends that there are no excuses now not to watch Veronica Mars!

My thoughts are--guess the show wasn't holding up well against American Idol. My next thought was--why the hell do you need to watch the American Idol results show? It's not like the results aren't readily reported on every news outlet and Internet site in the world. I can't imagine why you'd sit there for half an hour waiting for a result that is not going to come until the end of the show. But then again, I don't quite understand the appeal of American Idol to begin with.

And it's not like this Tuesday slot is plum one. We've got Scrubs and House on and that new CBS show The Unit is doing pretty well. Also, I wonder if some the audience erosion is that Veronica Mars repeats on the weekend in most UPN markets. I wonder how many fans choose to watch Lost or American Idol knowing they've got a second chance to catch up to Veronica later. Don't get me wrong--I love the second chance, but I wonder if that is having a negative impact on the ratings.

I must admit, part of me is worried about the impact this will have for a third season....

posted by Michael Hickerson at 3/23/2006 02:04:00 PM | |

You can't see it on TV...
YouTube has a copy of the Scientology episode of South Park available on-line.

Definitely worth a look.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 3/23/2006 12:18:00 PM | |

TV Round-Up
My latest round-up covering Lost, Veronica Mars and that insanely funny episode of South Park last night is up over at All Along the Watchtower.

Read, comment, debate, enjoy!

posted by Michael Hickerson at 3/23/2006 08:19:00 AM | |
Wednesday, March 22, 2006
The book vs the movie
I'm a book-a-holic. (Nothing new there....we've covered this ground many times).

I read a wide variety of books and from time to time, a book or two I've read will get made into a movie, miniseries or television version of the original material. If the book interested me enough or was enjoyable to me, I will sometimes seek out the movie version, TV show or miniseries and watch it. It's interesting to see how the characters that are described on the printed page and then translate into the theater of your imagination are realized on-screen. Sometimes they come very close like the Harry Potter novels/movies and sometimes they are so far from the descriptions in the book and the mental picture in your head that it can completely take you out of the series such as The Inspector Lynley Mysteries.

Of course, I'm a book snob and will tell you 99 times out 100, the book is better. In fact, the only movie I've ever seen that is better than the book was Forrest Gump. That one they took the few good parts of the book and lost the majority of the crappy parts that included Forrest becoming an astronaut and Jenny loving Forrest because he was well endowed.

I'm even enough of a book snob that should I be aware of a movie adaptation of the book existing, I will avoid seeing who stars as which character so I won't be tainted by what Hollywood says this character looks and sounds like. A good example of this is Hannibal Lectre. I read Silence of the Lambs before I saw the movie, but when Hannibal came out, I kept seeing and hearing Anthony Hopkins in the role of Lecter, no matter how hard I tried to see otherwise.

Generally if I enjoyed the book, I'll see the movie.

Which is what happened over the weekend. A few weeks ago, I read Greg Iles' book, 24 Hours.

It's the story of a trio of people who commit the perfect kidnapping--one per year with a large payday. Basically what happens is you have a trio--husband, wife and the husband's cousin who ain't the sharpest knife in drawer. The husband and cousin kidnap the kid, who is taken to a remote location. Cousin has a cell phone as done the wife. Husband stays behind with the mother to keep her from calling the police while the wife stays with the husband to make sure he does exactly what is told. The operation takes 24 hours, during which the husband makes a call to the wife and cousin on a prescribed clock to make sure everyone is playing their role and no one is going to the police. The money is transferred to an account, withdrawn and given to the wife who then disspears with it. Husband takes victim mom to a McDonald's where cousin drops off kids and mom and kid are re-united. The kidnappers plan this to target a doctor and his family each year and around a convention where the doctor will be away from his family. The plan has worked without a hitch in four previous occasions and now our trio has moved on to the fifth victim. After this one, they plan to retire. But as the story unfolds we find out that Hickey, the mastermind of the kidnappings has a bigger stake in the kidnapping this time than just money. He's got a personal stake in this.

The novel was made into a movie called Trapped. Apparently the title was changed when it came out to avoid confusion with a little new show called 24.

Movies are an interesting entity. More often than not, when we think about movies, they are defined by the star in front of the camera or the star behind it. It's rare that we pay attention to who wrote the movie. Sure, if it's from a big book like something by Stephen King, his name will feature in the title or marketing and he may even have a cameo. But more often than not, we tend to give the credit or failure of a movie to the director or stars. More often than not, the director.

When you think of suspense films, you think of Alfred Hitchcock. But you don't always think--wow, Robert Block wrote Psycho. It's Hitchcock as the artist and director that we think about, study and give the credit to.

It's also rare that the author of a novel will adapt his or her work to the silver screen. More often than not, they sell the rights to the book to a studio or director who brings in someone to adapt the story to the visual medium. In some ways this can help becasue the screenwriter isn't as close to the material and can make the hard choices of what to cut out or what to leave in. The screenwriter and director can decide if they want a pretty much visual interpreation of the every scene in the book (the first two Harry Potter movies) or if they want to get the overall story and not have to include every tiny scene and character even if it annoys some fans (the third Harry Potter film).

So what's interesting about Trapped is that the novel was adapted for the screen by the author. So if something is changed, we can't say--well, they certainly messed up Iles' vision of the story because he was, ultimately, the guy who did it. For example, in the book Hickey and his family carry out the plan once a year, while in the movie it's six months between kidnappings. The movie drops a subplot where last year's victims start to feel bad about this year's victims and call in the FBI. The movie even changes one of the hiccups in the plan--Abby, the little girl taken has diabetes in the book but asthma in the film. Probably because it's easier to convey as asthma attack on film.

But the big points are still there. Iles does a good job, though the cutting out the previous victims of the plot contacting the Feds does bring up an odd point late in the film when the FBI shows up for little or no good reason. (They try to cover it, but it makes less sense than the book).

What I found interesting were the choices Iles had to make. He is telling the same story and he's adpating his own work. I wonder if that made it easier or harder for him. He does have a commentary on the DVD and I listened to some of it, but he never really addressed these questons--the ones I wondered about like, how do you decide what stays and what goes? How do you find the essense of the story without losing what made it so compelling and interesting in the first place?

Now, Iles did have the advantage that his book isn't quite as beloved and read as, say Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings. I think part of that is that those are books that work best in the theater of the imagination and until the movies came along, everyone had their own image of how Harry looked and what Hogwarts looked like. It's a fantasy world where the only budget limitation is what you can imagine. In the movies, we're limited by money and time and sometimes in a fantasy or sci-fi movie, something has to give or else the budget will be that of a small third world nation's GNP.

Nor is 24 Hours the strongest work I've read from Iles. His Turning Angel is far more complex but it's one of those I think they'd be hard pressed to make into a good film. Or let me put it another way--a film that would do justice to the book. It could be done, sure. Should it be done--that's an argument for another time. I will say this--24 Hours was the story of Iles's that I've read that lent itself most to becoming a movie with the least amount of difficulty.

Of course, I liked the book more. I think part of that was I saw Hickey in my mind as a bit scruffier and more red-neck than Kevin Bacon. Also, the story is moved from southern Mississippi to Seattle. I think the southern Mississippi setting helped give the story some of its character and made us understand where Hickey was coming from as a character more. It explains his motive more effectively from a character standpoint. Also, the movie drops the tension in the marriage of our heroes and the doctor's health issues that affect things in the story. These are things that help increase the tension and keep the pages turning, but again they are a more pyschological thing and easier to show on the printed page than to show on the silver screen.

So, I guess the final answer is--yes, the book is better.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 3/22/2006 02:37:00 PM | |

In case you were wondering
In case you've been tuning in the past couple of days to find out the latest on the saga of my car. (Please...pretend you are...it will make me feel important!)

I took the car into the dealership Sunday afternoon to have the high-pitched sound looked into. The service department was closed, but I left the car in the hands of my sales guy, who assured me it'd be taken care of first thing Monday morning.

And he was not lying.

I got a call at 7:30 saying it was being looked and--miracle of miracles--the mechanic heard the sound! By 9:30 the problem was resolved and I'd even got an oil change. And they even washed the car for free--though it was raining on Monday so it's not like it made a huge different.

Needless to say, I was pretty happy with the service. Everything is back and running great and my car and I are happily driving around town again. I tell you, there are times when having a new car under warranty is a cool thing....

posted by Michael Hickerson at 3/22/2006 08:32:00 AM | |

Holy cow! A new Lost is on tonight!
It seems like it's been forever and a day since we got a new epiosde of Lost. We finally get one tonight and --gasp!!-- we even get a new epiosde next week. Bestill my heart! There'd better be one heck of a "Previously on..." before the new episode starts tonight because I'm pretty sure I've forgotten most about what is happening on the island except a)they're trapped on an island b)weird stuff is going on and c)Kate is a cutie.

I found it amusing over at Entertainment Weekly that the producers of Lost said they're as frustrated by the gaps between new episodes as the fans. So why not lobby ABC to show a new episode more than once in a blue moon guys? Trust me--ABC would probably listen if you made your request reasonable.

I do begin to wonder if Lost might not be better served to go the uninterrupted season model that 24 uses or the chunks of a season model that SciFi uses for Battlestar Galactica. At least with BSG, I could count on getting 10 weeks of new episodes to look forward to.

Of course, if I ran the universe, there'd be new Lost every week and the on-going mysteries would have started to make a bit more sense about now...

posted by Michael Hickerson at 3/22/2006 08:24:00 AM | |
Tuesday, March 21, 2006
Continuing the South Park coverage...
So, it appears that Mission: Impossible III put pressure on Comedy Central to not air the Scientology episode last week, instead pulling the promised story for an old repeat featuring Chef in a pivotal role. Yeah, it's not scary in any way that Tom Cruise has that much clout! Wasn't that covered somewhere in Revelation as one of the signs of the apocolypse?

Seriously, I understand not wanting to have your faith mocked or satirized, but to use your pull to have an episode you disagree pulled from the airwaves just doesn't seem right. I had issues with the episode of South Park that ended with Cartman on a cross being crucified but I chose to change the channel and not watch anymore (that episode) rather than demand Comedy Central never air said episode again. But then again, I'm not Tom Cruise.

Of course, as we all know Tom Cruise knows what is best for America and is an expert on everything. Just ask Brooke Shields...

OK, enough of the bashing.

On to why we're here.

I'm hearing conflicting stories about this week's episode of South Park. TV Guide On-Line says it will be a repeat of the Scientology episode while other reports say that Matt Parker and Trey Stone are working on a last minute episode that will satirize the entire situation with Issac Hayes. (One of the beauties of South Park is that process to create a completed episode can be completed in a more timely manner than standard shows, thus allowing the show to comment on current situations, such as the hysterical episode in 2000 about the election results or earlier last year when the response to Hurricane Katrina was the focus on an episode). I believe the press release says something along the lines of "Chef returns but the boys notice something different about him." I've also heard reports that maybe Hayes didn't leave the show.

Whatever the story, I think the real winner here is Comedy Central. You can't buy this kind of publicity and let's face it--it certainly does make you a bit curious to tune in tomorrow night and see just what will be going on down in South Park...

posted by Michael Hickerson at 3/21/2006 09:53:00 AM | |
Monday, March 20, 2006
I've got make time for this...
And I hope you will as well, especially if you live in or around middle Tennessee.

For the next eight months, a part of history will be on display here in Nashville. Old Glory is being loaned to the Tennessee State Museum from the Smithsonian.

I heard about this yesterday and my first thought was--how cool is that? And then, I've got to make sure I don't let this opportunity slip past my fingers and eight months from now I go, "I really meant to get around to that."

The best part: admission to the museum is free.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 3/20/2006 09:01:00 AM | |

Congrats to the Lady Vols
Congratulations to the Lady Vols on a big win yesterday in the first-round of the NCAA Tournament. I think Pat and company sent a message to the rest of the field--we're here and we're not going anywhere.

Hopefully this intensity will continue tomorrow night as we shoot for a chance to get to the Sweet 16.

The other big news was that Candice Parker made history dunking not once but twice in an NCAA Tournament game. While it was one of those moments that as a Lady Vols' fan made me go, "Wow, cool!", I was more impressed with how it sparked the team, leading some big runs that sealed the game early for the Lady Vols. That kind of spark and intensity will be needed as the Lady Vols try to get back to the finals this year in a tough bracket. But based on what I saw yesterday, they could do it.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 3/20/2006 08:11:00 AM | |
Sunday, March 19, 2006
Well, that's no fun...
My beloved new car developed a high pitch sound when you do silly little things like, oh say, accelerate. It sounds like the dentist drill when you push down on the accelerator and try to go at speeds above 35 MPH.

The good thing--it's under warranty, so I can take it down to have it looked at and fixed without too much worry about my savings taking a dent.

The bad part--most service centers are closed on Sunday afternoon. So, I will be dropping my car off and then trying to figure out a way into work tomorrow. So if you see a guy in orange on the side of the road hitchhiking and aren't a crazy person who picks up hitchhikers so you can kill them, you might at least slow down and wave...

posted by Michael Hickerson at 3/19/2006 08:56:00 AM | |
Saturday, March 18, 2006
It's just like being there....
If you missed today's meet-up of the Middle Tennessee Blogger and Podcasters group, you can listen to our podcast and find out a bit of what happened.

Here's a run-down of just some of what you'll hear...
You'll also here shout outs to some of our blogging friends in and around Nashville, the date for our next meeting and trying to figure out a good way to get some more middle Tennessee bloggers and podcasters to come out and join the fun.

The posting for the episode is here or you can listen to it directly here.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 3/18/2006 06:16:00 PM | |

The magic comes to an end...
It's over.

The Tennessee men's team run in the NCAA Tournament came to an end a few minutes ago with a loss. The loss ends what can only be described as a magical season by the Vols.

I could get down on the team for the loss, but when the season started a few months ago, I would have been happy to make the NIT and win a game this year, much less make the Big Dance.

So, thank you to Bruce Pearl and the rest of the team for a special season. The entire group showed off the concept of team play in victory and defeat and brought a pride back to our men's basketball team that has been missing for far too long. It was a pleasure to watch the team play this year and one hell of a Big Orange ride. And I've got to admit, I'm cautiously optimistic for where Pearl can take us next year and the years beyond that.

He's building something that has the potential to be great in Knoxville. And I couldn't be happier to see that.

Now, Bruce could you give the football team a few pointers in the off-season on toughness, the never give-up attitude and the pride of playing for the Big Orange?

posted by Michael Hickerson at 3/18/2006 05:46:00 PM | |

We're here..where are you?
The Middle Tennessee blogger and podcasting group is getting ready to meet here in beautiful Smyrna.

The usual gang is all here and we're hoping for an appearance by the world-famous Brittney of News 2. Here's who's here, so far:

Gunner
Harelip Frog
Bad, Bad Ivy
Comment Tater
Yours truly

So, we're all here, where are you?

posted by Michael Hickerson at 3/18/2006 02:00:00 PM | |


The American return of Doctor Who was pretty darn cool. Depsite having already seen the episodes that aired last evening, I still had goosebumps as the title theme rolled for the first time on American television.

I envy all of you who were seeing the new series for the first time. I hope you enjoyed it. And it only gets better from here....

Countdown to Daleks begins....one month and they're back!

posted by Michael Hickerson at 3/18/2006 01:50:00 PM | |
Friday, March 17, 2006
St Patrick's Day Joke
Q: What do you call an Irishman who sleeps on the porch?

A: Patio furniture.

::rimshot::

I never said it was a good joke....


posted by Michael Hickerson at 3/17/2006 10:41:00 AM | |

At long last, this day has arrived....
The greatest television series in the history of the world returns to American television tonight as Sci-Fi debuts the first two episodes of the continuation of Doctor Who. The pilot episode, "Rose" airs at 8 p.m. CST and is followed by the next episode "The End of the World" at 9 p.m.

If you're a Doctor Who fan, this is complete nirvana (and I shouldn't have to do anything to convince you watch this evening....even if you've already seen the episodes!) If you're not a fan yet, this is your chance to step into the world that is Doctor Who. These episodes are completely accessible to new fans.

If your memories of Doctor Who are of the guy with the scarf, the flimsy sets and the low budget effects, you may be in for a pleasant surprise tuning in this evening. I'm not saying these are Star Wars type of effects, but they do make good use of CGI and they do get better as the season goes along.

Please, please, please, please, please watch this show. Trust me, it's good. I will admit that tonight's first two episodes are good ground-work for the series and a nice way to discover the universe that is Doctor Who. And next week's episode is better and in just about a month comes the absolute best episode of the new series, Dalek, that features a return of the Doctor's greatest enemies. Come on--it's only 12 weeks of your life to commit to one of the greatest shows ever made.

Join the obsession! You'll be glad you did.

Also, some shameless self-promotion. If you want to read my original thoughts on Rose and End of the World you can at those links. And my good friend, Sarah and I, recorded a commentary for Rose, which you can listen to after the episode. I will warn you that the audio quality is not the best (cursed filters!) and I think we give away SPOILER for the rest of the season....

posted by Michael Hickerson at 3/17/2006 08:44:00 AM | |

So who's having the down year?
All season, we've heard reports about the SEC having a down year and the Big East being "the" conference in college basketball. But after one day of the NCAA Tournament, the SEC is 4-0 and the Big East is 0-3.

Hmmmmmmm, interesting to see the down league have four winners while the league that is the cream of the crop can't put a team through to the second round yet....

posted by Michael Hickerson at 3/17/2006 08:24:00 AM | |

Friday amusement
Guy in Superman costume shoplifts - Guess he's the man of steal.

I'll be here all weekend folks. Don't forget to tip your servers!

posted by Michael Hickerson at 3/17/2006 08:19:00 AM | |

Survive and advance....
Which is exactly what the Vols did yesterday with a 63-61 win over Winthrop. Hopefully the game worked out the jitters of being in the Big Dance and we can have a better game tomorrow.

Survive and advance....survive and advance.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 3/17/2006 07:19:00 AM | |
Thursday, March 16, 2006
Seeing Orange
Short and Fat has a message for all the UT fans out there. Go, read and then come back here.

Short and Fat says that ESPN has no bias against Tennessee.

Yeah, right.

The thing is, ESPN is extremely biased. They're extremely ACC friendly in basketball (look at how Dickie V and Mike Patrick are the Duke apologists on any broadcast they do) and they seem to have a bias toward Big Ten football. Lee Corso is one of the worst in terms of his bias against the Vols on ESPN College Football Gamedya. I'll give Kirk Herbstreit some credit for at least trying to be unbiased and fair. He acts like a professional and Corso could take a few lessons. But I don't think he will.

To be fair, part of what makes people tune in for Corso is that you love him or you hate him. There's not really a middle ground. I think the man's a complete nitwit who has no credentials and no leg to stand on. But that's my right. And I don't ask that he be UT biased. But I'd ask for some fairness every once in a while, something that Herbstreit shows but Corso doesn't.

That said, let's face it--the real reason that ESPN focuses a lot of time and energy on UT is, quite frankly, we bring in the money. We bring in the viewership that means they can charge this amount to advertisers and make money. Whether you like it or not, Tennessee is a nationally known name for our generally superior products in football and women's basketball. This year, we've had a superior product in men's basketball, that is a surprise to some but it's one of those stories that national outlets just love to tell. The quick turn-around when it wasn't expected. At the rate this story is playing, I expect Disney to license the movie rights and have the movie version out next week...

The thing is even though UT gets a lot of coverage, there's still a bias. It shows up in how the clips are shown and which ones. This year, when the Vols were ranked number three in the land and played a poor opening game, it wasn't any good plays we'd made that were shown. All ESPN showed were one or two clips of Southern Miss almost winning. The story wasn't that the Vols won, but that oh my...we barely won and are the Vols in trouble?!? It's how you approach and report the stories, not if you do. And that's where the bias comes in in my mind.

It even kind of extends to women's basketball. This I blame more on fact that ESPN is located closer to UConn than the Lady Vols. I have this image of Gino Auriemma coming by to pass out his bribe checks and smooze with the ESPN crew. But, seriously, notice there are a lot more UConn players brought in as "experts" than we ever see of Tennessee Lady Vols. Again, part of this is proximity and the expense. But I think we could at least try to have a few more former Lady Vol players in there....it wouldn't kill you, would it?

Anyway, like it or not ,there is a bias. It's there and it pervades a lot of how UT is covered by ESPN. Just because they cover us doesn't mean they like us.

Same thing could be said for a LOT of the staff at the Tennessean where UT can do no right and Vandy can do no wrong. But that's another post for another day...

posted by Michael Hickerson at 3/16/2006 12:29:00 PM | |

Time for the Big Dance

The Volunteer cheerleaders from last week's SEC tournament game

The NCAA Tournament begins today. The men's team makes their first appearance in the Big Dance in quite a while around 1:40 p.m. CST. I have to admit, I am pretty excited to see the Vols in the Big Dance, though there's part of me that is trying to not get too excited. I had some big expectations that Tennessee would, oh I don't know, win a game in the SEC Tournament last week and we all see how that worked out. That said, I could see Tennessee making it to the Sweet 16.

It's interesting the reaction to both Tennessee squads being number two seeds in their respective tournaments. The reaction for the men's team--That's pretty cool. The reaction for the women's team--what the hell?!? How did Ohio State get to be a one seed when they haven't played anyone?!? (All insults to Ohio State fully intended...)

Anyway, it's now time to put up or shut up for both teams. I can see both teams getting to the Sweet 16. The big difference--if the men make it, that's gravy on what has been a season beyond expectations. If the Lady Vols don't advance beyond that, it's a disappointment.

In either case, all I have to say is...

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


posted by Michael Hickerson at 3/16/2006 09:01:00 AM | |

It's a big circle
I was at the library the other day and noticed a new book based on the FOX TV show Bones was out. It can be an interesting measure of success for a TV show to have a tie-in novel released and from my experience, they can be of varying quality. Some are good and really expand the fictional universe of the show (any Trek novel by Peter David) while others will just be little more than a hastily written story with familiar characters shoved into the story, whether they fit or not and taking advantage of the name recognition to sell the book (pretty much any Farscape novel not by Keith R.A. DeCandido for example).

But what struck me as amusing about the Bones novel was that here we have a tie-in book based on a TV show that was inspired by a series of books.

Also amusing is that the author of this novel had to defend his book over on Amazon.com to fans of Kathy Recih's novels who couldn't see the large print on the cover that said--based on the TV show, Bones.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 3/16/2006 08:05:00 AM | |

Well, hmmm....
I switched over to Comedy Central last evening to catch the now infamous Scientology episode of South Park and, well, it wasn't shown. Instead, it was the episode about art movies that features the great Cartman line about how all art movies are about "gay cowboys eating pudding."

I wonder if Tom Cruise threatened to come over and jump around on couches, declaring his love for Katie Holmes if Comedy Central showed the episode in question again....

Or more likely, John Travolta threatened to inflict a sequel to Battlefield: Earth upon the unsuspecting public.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 3/16/2006 07:46:00 AM | |
Wednesday, March 15, 2006
Weird
My bigorangemichael g-mail account seems to be acting wonky...so if you've tried to contact me in the past few days or weeks and I've not responded, it may be that I've not got the message. I found this out when Logtar buzzed me today and asked me if I was OK since I wasn't responding to e-mails.

So, if you need to holler at me, try bigomichael at gmail dot com for the time being.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 3/15/2006 03:29:00 PM | |

You can't make stuff like this up.
It's a tragic, sad story that you couldn't make up and have anyone ever believe it. But yet, on some level, it's also kind of ironically humorous.

Yep, I'm going to hell....

posted by Michael Hickerson at 3/15/2006 12:04:00 PM | |

Headin' on down to South Park...
The South Park episode that satirizes Scientology and led to Issac Hayes' departure from the show repeats this evening, if anyone's interested.

If I were one of those conspiracy people, I'd point out that it's awfully coincidental that Issac Hayes would announce his departure the same week as the episode that probably led to his decision to leave re-airs.

I'm just saying...

posted by Michael Hickerson at 3/15/2006 08:18:00 AM | |
Tuesday, March 14, 2006
My personal DNA report
Tip of the hat to Inn of the Last Home.


Find out more at My Personal DNA test.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 3/14/2006 08:57:00 AM | |

Humor. It is a difficult concept.
So, Issac Hayes has decided to quit South Park, saying that the satires they do of various religions, "there is a time when satire ends and intolerance and bigotry towards religious beliefs of others begins."

So, you're just now figuring out that South Park satirizes various religions now, nine seasons into the show, Issac? Sorry, but I think something smells a bit fishy here.

Or could it be as creator Matt Stone said, "This is 100% having to do with his faith of Scientology... He has no problem — and he's cashed plenty of checks — with our show making fun of Christians."

So what have we learned here today. The church of Scientology has no sense of humor. You can't poke fun at it, but you sure can poke fun at everyone else.

Alrighty then...

posted by Michael Hickerson at 3/14/2006 08:35:00 AM | |

Welcome to the future!
So, the downtown library has gone to the self-serve reserves system that others in the blogsphere have wondered about. I agree with others out there--it's a good idea in theory, but I'm not sure the real world application is going to be that effective. I just think it's a chance for other less scrupulous people to abscond with the book, movie or CD that I've put on reserve and once they do, I'm back to the front of the queue.

The fact that they've installed self-service check-outs and are pushing them may only encourage this.

Yesterday, I went into the library to pick up a hold. I was told I had two from the confirmation e-mail I'd received. I could only find one and so I went to the circulation desk to check out my hold and see if I could get some assistance in finding out where in the world the other one was. (I did look around a bit for it and never found it). Anyway, as I was being helped, some woman who I assume is the Lynn McGill of the library got after one of the head librarians about the fact that the staff was not encouraging patrons to use the new self-serve system. It'd make life so much easier and more cost effective and people won't use it if you don't tell them it's there!

I looked at her, said I'd have been happy to use the new system, but I had a question about a reserve and I needed to speak to someone about it. I then said I'd be happy to try the new system the next time I came in to check out something.

I guess this placated her. I have nothing against the self-scan system. I use it at Wal-Mart, Kroger and various other stores that offer it all the time. But there are times when you want or need to talk to a human being about something and yesterday was one of them. I do wonder if they're slowly going to phase out the actual person who can help you at the library system and instead it will be like the real world equivalent of voice mail--trying desparately to find a real live human being who can answer one simple question for you.

I guess I'm old-fashioned in that way. Sort of like how even though I like the e-book format, there's still something about the weight of a book and the feel of turning the pages. Some things you can never replace.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 3/14/2006 08:22:00 AM | |
Monday, March 13, 2006
Review: Being Good by Todd A
A couple of weeks ago, Todd A offered bloggers a free copy of his book Being Good, if we'd promise to read the book and then write a review of it. Several Nashville area bloggers were quick to take advantage of it, including yours truly.

I took advantage of this for a couple of reasons. One is that I'm a read-a-holic. Another is--hey, free book! You really can't go wrong there. (Well, you can, but most times if the author is confident enough in his or her writing to give you more than just a few sample pages, this is a good thing). A third was--hey, local writer. If I like the book enough, I can buy a copy, have him sign it and when he becomes the next Stephen King, I can say, "Yeah, I knew him before he was huge..." And, of course, sell said autographed first-edition on E-Bay for a tidy profit.

But, I digress.

The real question you all are wondering about is--was the book a good one?

The short answer is: yes.

With his first-person protagonist Slav, Todd has created an interesting, dynamic and very human guy. Slav is a teacher at an all girls school and loves his job. He enjoys teaching literature and exposing young minds to the great literature of the world as well as expanding the horizons of his student. Professionally, Slav is doing very well. On the personal side, it's a bit less orderly. Slav is what I'd call a serial dater. He dates and beds a variety of women throughout the book and we hear of various conquests and relationships that occurred before the events. In some ways, Slav is a bit like the characters from Seinfeld--he dates the women and then discards them to move onto someone new. Slav seems to see women as disposable--if you screw it up with one, there's always another one coming along or already on the radar as it were.

Slav begins to have issues when his personal life and his profesional life come dangerously close. At a strip club, he encounters a former student, who he tries to help get back on the right track, serving as mentor. Of course, her boyfriend doesn't take well to this and since he's a bouncer, Slav is beaten up and then arrested.

The one thing that unites all of Slav's decisions is that, at the time, he was doing the right thing. It's just later and by outsiders that his actions and motivations are called into question. He has the best of intentions, most of the time, but somehow he is quick to succumb to tempations and start following a path. As a reader, we can often see how things might play out but there are times when Slav tries to do the right thing, only to have it thrown back in his face or taken out of context.

I have to admit, as a character, I found Slav compelling. Todd has created a voice for his character and stays within it. Even when Slav relates frank details of his sexual experiences (and they do pepper the book..this is not one for the kiddos!), he remains consistent. In many ways, Slav is an anti-hero, but he's one who reminds you of guys you know (and possibly even parts of yourself that you don't care to talk about or share in the light of day), so you find yourself rooting for him to overcome the obstacles placed in his path.

And when the situations do resolve and the story reaches its conclusion, it feels authentic. There's no happily ever after here, but instead a sense of this is where one chapter ends and another begins. When I got to the end of Slav's story, I was satisfied in how the situation was resolved but there were enough other interesting storylines out there that I honestly wouldn't mind spending a few more pages going journeying with Slav.

But don't just take me word for it. Seems that Todd is offering the book as a free e-book download to anyone who wants to sample it over at his site. Give it a try, I think you'll enjoy it.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 3/13/2006 12:13:00 PM | |

TV Round-Up: Battlestar Galactica
All I can say is--they promised it'd be a series-changer and boy howdy, was it. "Lay Down Your Burdens, Part 2" was, well, great.

A couple of random things.
  • I called Dean Stockwell being a Cylon. I still say it'd be cool if he had an image of Scott Bakula in his head he talked to...
  • Where is Sharon who had the baby in the flashforward? I kept waiting to see her.
  • At what point will the Cylon/human hybrid baby start showing signs of being a Cylon? Does she wake up at night screaming with nightmares of burning toast?
  • Looks like Kally forgave Tyrol, huh?
  • Baltar keeps getting screwed by Six--literally and figuratively. Interesting that both times that humanity is lead to destruction, Baltar is having sex with Six right before it happens. Sure, this time it took a bit longer, but she still used him and distracted him in exactly the way she needed to put her plan in place.
I've got more comments over at All Along the Watchtower.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 3/13/2006 07:44:00 AM | |
Saturday, March 11, 2006
At last!
I'm glad the weather finally got it together enough to have a wonderful, warm spring-like day on the weekend.

Man, it was just great to be out and about today.

Of course, this means we could get that late March, early April or early May blizzard to make up for it...

posted by Michael Hickerson at 3/11/2006 07:12:00 PM | |
Friday, March 10, 2006
Once again, the Vols choke in the tourney...
Different coach, different year, same damn results....One and done for the Vols, yet again.

Well, I suppose that frees up my weekend now.....

At least LSU's excuse will be they are resting their starters and good players for the tourney. We have none except we came out flat and played like crap.

I'm not happy..not happy at all..

posted by Michael Hickerson at 3/10/2006 02:11:00 PM | |

As a member of the blogging community...
...I suck.

Last night was a Thursday Night Fever blogger meet-up shin-dig and I missed it. I know, I'm a bad Nashville blogger and I may have to turn in my cool card as a linked member of Nashville Is Talking.

Oh wait..I never got my cool card. Brittney said it was in the mail...

Anyway, I had planned to go but when I stepped out of the Y after working out and I saw the old guy with a boat pairing up animals, I decided to head for the homestead rather than braving the bad weather elements. I know some of you are terribly disappointed while others are breathing a sigh of relief. But considering how long it took me to get out of downtown between fans headed into the SEC tourney and people fleeing the impending armagedon (I could have sworn I saw Tim Jenkins and Jerry LaHaye out there telling us all how this was predicted in the latest Left Behind book), I'm not sure I'd've made it out in time for the festivities.

My official apologies to Thursday Night Fever and a promise to try my best to be there next time.

Weather permitting.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 3/10/2006 08:31:00 AM | |

Potential Amendement Vote in 2010
I am sure the blogsphere in Tennessee will be abuzz today about the Tennessee Senate's move to control abortion. Should the proposed legislation make it though, Tennesseans could have the chance to vote on this issue by 2010.

I'm not going to come out and write a long diatribue on abortion, if it's right or wrong or where I stand on it.

What I will say is this. As a Tennessean, I am glad that we, the people, will be given the opportunity to directly have a say by voting on this issue. I think that is a good thing for Tennessee, even though I imagine we'll be at the center of a lot of rhetoric.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 3/10/2006 08:26:00 AM | |

Wait...how is Bruce Pearl NOT coach of the year?!?
I'd love for some of these SEC coaches who voted for the LSU guy as coach of the year to come out and explain their logic--or complete lack thereof--to me!

Bruce Pearl took a team that was expected to do next to nothing this year and elevated the program and the league to new heights. In a year in which Kentucky is down and other teams (::cough::cough::Vanderbilt::cough::cough) underachieved, Pearl brought some excitement, drama and positive national attention to the SEC. He took a bunch of random guys and molded them into a team--one that bought into his system and style of play. He made them more atheletic and competive. He brought out fans not only in Knoxville, but also around the league as gyms sold out to see their team take on a top 10 (at the time) team.

Pearl is coach of the year. The SEC coaches got it wrong.

Of course, I think part of it is they're all a bit jealous. They can't handle that Pearl is the future of the SEC in basketball and they're afraid of the long term success he could and will build at Tennessee. The league is used to losing to the Vols in football and women's basketball....look like y'all better get used to losing in men's basketball. Cause we ain't going nowhere!

posted by Michael Hickerson at 3/10/2006 07:37:00 AM | |
Thursday, March 09, 2006
Ack!
I'm slowly going insane over here (no shock to any of you who read this blog on a regular basis I'm sure).

See, the thing is--I've got this song stuck in my head. It was used last night in spinning class. It's a catchy-little song that at one point goes something like this...

"People all over...something-something-something-something, watching SuperFriends saying "Help me out!" "

It then has endless chorsues of "da-da-da, da-da-da-DA!"

The problem is two-fold--it's rolling around in my head and I can't remember all the words. Both of these things drive me absolutely insane. This demonstrates a couple of things--one is that I am tragically unhip cause I'd never heard the song outside of the spin class. The other is I've got to find a song to get this one out of my head but the easy choice of song that can get stuck in your head ain't that appealing either....

Help me!

posted by Michael Hickerson at 3/09/2006 02:25:00 PM | |

Yes, it is a slow day...
You scored as The Notebook. You have strong, passionate love like the notebook!

A Cinderella Story


75%

The Notebook


75%

Charlies Angels


58%

Mean Girls


25%

Legally Blonde


8%

What Chick Flick is just like Your Life?
created with QuizFarm.com


posted by Michael Hickerson at 3/09/2006 01:35:00 PM | |

Welcome to Nashville!
The SEC men's basketball tournament tips-off today from beautiful downtown Nashville. It's being played in that arena formerly known as the GEC and features four games today.

As a resident of Nashville, I'm happy Kentucky had a down year and has to play on the first day. Forcing their fans to arrive early and have to spend more $$$ on hotel rooms, food, etc will be a big boost for the economy.

Looking at the brackets, I am calling for a UT vs Florida final Sunday with the Vols sweeping the Gators for the season. I'll even go and predict it'll be a close game and Dane Bradshaw will once again score the winning bucket in the final minute, thus causing Billy Donovan's head to explode.

Please note--I am in no way any kind of expert of any kind of basketball and if you're going to use my prediction as a basis for betting, why don't you just contact me privately and send me the money. I'll buy some nice DVDs and if you want, sent you digital pictures of them.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 3/09/2006 10:38:00 AM | |
Wednesday, March 08, 2006
The Window: Results

Arena

(known to self and others)

dependable, religious, witty

Blind Spot

(known only to others)

accepting, caring, cheerful, dignified, friendly, giving, helpful, idealistic, independent, intelligent, knowledgeable, logical, mature, modest, reflective, searching, self-conscious, sensible, sentimental, shy, trustworthy

Façade

(known only to self)

adaptable, introverted

Unknown

(known to nobody)

able, bold, brave, calm, clever, complex, confident, energetic, extroverted, happy, ingenious, kind, loving, nervous, observant, organised, patient, powerful, proud, quiet, relaxed, responsive, self-assertive, silly, spontaneous, sympathetic, tense, warm, wise

Dominant Traits

71% of people think that Big Orange Michael is caring
57% of people agree that Big Orange Michael is religious

All Percentages

able (0%) accepting (28%) adaptable (0%) bold (0%) brave (0%) calm (0%) caring (71%) cheerful (14%) clever (0%) complex (0%) confident (0%) dependable (28%) dignified (28%) energetic (0%) extroverted (0%) friendly (28%) giving (28%) happy (0%) helpful (14%) idealistic (28%) independent (14%) ingenious (0%) intelligent (28%) introverted (0%) kind (0%) knowledgeable (14%) logical (28%) loving (0%) mature (14%) modest (14%) nervous (0%) observant (0%) organised (0%) patient (0%) powerful (0%) proud (0%) quiet (0%) reflective (28%) relaxed (0%) religious (57%) responsive (0%) searching (14%) self-assertive (0%) self-conscious (14%) sensible (14%) sentimental (14%) shy (14%) silly (0%) spontaneous (0%) sympathetic (0%) tense (0%) trustworthy (28%) warm (0%) wise (0%) witty (14%)

Created by the Interactive Johari Window on 8.3.2006, using data from 7 respondents.
You can make your own Johari Window, or view Big Orange Michael's full data.


posted by Michael Hickerson at 3/08/2006 02:26:00 PM | |

TV Favorites
Was there ever a meme more suited for me? Tip of the hat to Inn of the Last Home.

FAVORITE TV MOM: Mrs. C
FAVORITE TV DAD: Mr. C
FAVORITE ENDEARING NERD: Warren "Pottsie" Webber
RUNNER UP: Pete from Benson
FAVORITE SHOW, NOSTALIGIC: Happy Days
FAVORITE SHOW, EVER AND EVER, AMEN: Doctor Who
VERY CLOSE RUNNER UP: Seinfeld
CHARACTER I KINDA WANTED TO BE WHEN I WAS A KID: Ralph Hinkley from Greatest American Hero
CHARACTER I REALLY WANT TO BE NOW: Richie Cunningham
CHARACTER I REALLY AM: George Costanza
BEST TV HOUSE: The Cunningham's house
BEST ROMANCE: Fred and Wesley from Angel
BEST FINALE EPISODE I CAN REMEMBER: The last episode of Newhart
FAVORITE EPISODE EVER: The Curse of Fenric (Doctor Who)
RUNNER UP: The Boyfriend (Seinfeld)
FAVORITE RANDOM LINES: "And you want to be my latex salesman..." (Seinfeld), "Let's get the hell out of here." (Star Trek) , "Mr. Worf, fire..." (Star Trek: The Next Generation) "I'm out!" (Seinfeld), "We play the contest again, Time Lord." (Doctor Who: Curse of Fenric, episode three). "There are worlds out there where the sky is burning, where the sea's asleep and rivers dream. Cities made of smoke and cities made of time. Somewhere there's danger, somewhere there's injustice and somewhere else the tea is getting cold. Come on Ace, we've got work to do!" (Doctor Who, Survival, episode 3) "Look to the cookie!" (Seinfeld), "We were on a break" (Friends), "Who's asking...Clark or Superman?" (Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman), "Space..the final frontier..." (Star Trek, Star Trek: TNG), "Life's a song you don't get to rehearse." (Buffy the Vampire Slayer). "Do you ever wonder if the monkey teases the other animals. "I mock you with my monkey pants."" (Buffy the Vampire Slayer). ""Not that there's anything wrong with that..." (Seinfeld), "My name is George. I'm unemployed and live with my parents." (Seinfeld). "OK, here's something you may not know. Shooting out the tires on an RV is a lot harder than it looks." (The X-Files). "Explain to me the exact scientific definition of the whammy." (The X-Files) "NO! Cause this is what I'm gonna to do. I'm gonna rescue her. I'm gonna save Rose Tyler from the middle of the Dalek fleet and then I'm gonna save the Earth and then just to finish I'm gonna wipe EVERY LAST STINKING Dalek out of the sky!" (Doctor Who, Bad Wolf).
CHARACTER I WOULD MOST WANT TO BE STRANDED ON DESERT ISLAND WITH: Peri from Doctor Who
BEST CHEMISTRY: Buffy Summers and Angel
BEST DREAM GUY: Ummm, not so much.
BEST DREAM GIRL: Lois Lane from Lois and Clark, Dana Scully, Buffy Summers
SUPER FANTASTIC BESTEST MOST GREATEST THING EVER: It's a tie between "Mr Worf, fire" from TNG, the way in which a minor character in a throw-away episode from season one is the lynchpin for the entire saga on Babylon Five or the incredible ending to Becoming, Part 2 on Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 3/08/2006 08:40:00 AM | |
Tuesday, March 07, 2006
The Window
My good friend Tish has an own interactive Johari Window on her blog. It's a way to map personality awareness. I filled in my thoughts for Tish and now I've set up my own. Once I get a few more results, I'll post the results here.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 3/07/2006 02:39:00 PM | |

Is it still over?
It's official. The Nashville connection from the latest edition of The Bachelor ended up not working out long term.

So, I think that makes the various Bachelor shows have a pretty low percentage of couples that actually have sustained long term relationships. Of course, the percentage may be the same as those from the real world (not the show on MTV!). After all, how many times have you met someone, been a bit twitterpated with them, gone out a few times and then had it just sort of fizzle out?

Finding a true, lasting, sustained relationship is hard work...

Well, at least the questions of are they or aren't they kept Brad About You's column busy for a few days. And hey, our favorite blogger Brittney was featured on the air last week on channel 2. So it's not all bad news, right?

posted by Michael Hickerson at 3/07/2006 12:16:00 PM | |

TV Round-Up: 24
It was a big night over on 24. Two full hours! The return of Kim Bauer! Jack tortures a prisoner to get information! President Logan changes his mind (again)! Tony wakes up! One of the CTU regulars shuffles off this mortal coil! And the key card comes back to haunt us (as we all figured it would)!

I've posted my long-winded thoughts on the big, 2-hour event over at All Along the Watchtower. I will warn you that I give away SPOILERS (such as who dies) in the review. So, if you TiVOed it or taped it and don't know who died, you have been warned.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 3/07/2006 08:15:00 AM | |
Monday, March 06, 2006
TV Round-Up: Battlestar Galactica
My thoughts on the first part of the season-finale are up at All Along the Watchtower. Surf over, read, comment and let's discuss!

posted by Michael Hickerson at 3/06/2006 09:02:00 AM | |

Big weekend for the Big Orange!

Shanna Zolman and Tye'sha Fluker celebrate the Lady Vols' dramatic win over LSU.


Congratulations to the Lady Vols, the 2006 SEC Tournament champions. A dramatic, exciting and great game that went down to the wire. To use the old sports cliche, it was one of those games that you're sorry to see someone have to lose, but as a Tennessee fan I'm glad it was them and not us.

Also, how great was that second half the men played against Vanderbilt Saturday? Bruce Pearl, you are the man! A 21-point swing in the second half to build momentum going into the SEC Tournament and also to put the final dagger into Vandy's hopes of getting an at-large bid the big dance. A few weeks ago, I wished for a way for the Vols to dash Vandy's NCAA Tourney hopes in the last week of the season, on Vandy's home floor and I got it. Loved it!

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


posted by Michael Hickerson at 3/06/2006 07:30:00 AM | |
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