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Monday, July 31, 2006
More SoaP hype
So, I was at the bookstore this weekend (I know, huge shock) and I saw the latest edition of Maxim featured one of the girls from the upcoming epic Snakes on a Plane.

And since we all know my blog is all about hyping up the meet-up for Snakes on a Plane these days, I figured I'd include one of the pictures of Elsa Pataky, who plays someone in the film. I'm going to assume it's at least a woman threatened by a snake.

So, here you go...a little more hype and excitement for you. Oh yeah, and a cute girl in a bikini. You can never go wrong there...



If you want to see more of Ms. Pataky, you can do so here.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 7/31/2006 10:24:00 PM | |

What'd they think the "C" stood for?
The front page of The Tennessean has an article about the YMCA weighting "faith vs fitness."

A couple of things about this article really jumped out at me.

"Unfortunately, people look at us and just see a swim and gym," said Alexander, whose Danville Family YMCA in Danville, Ill., has taken recent steps to redress that: displaying the Ten Commandments, banners with biblical verses and a Bible in its lobby.

"Many people are uncomfortable with religion, and I understand. But it's a Christian organization. It's nothing to be ashamed of."

But not everyone agrees.

"I think there's a strong desire at our Y to not be Christian focused," said Amy Amich, membership and marketing director of the McGaw YMCA in Evanston, Ill., where, 30 years ago, the chapel was remodeled into a fitness center and a painting of Jesus Christ was removed from the lobby.

"Our Y would never think of having biblical verses on the wall. The fear is that people will be put off if we identify as Christian."

And later....

But Dick Blattner, chairman of the Hollywood YMCA in Broward County, Fla., had another view. He had just toured a Nashville YMCA.

Nashville YMCAs are one of few nationwide that have inserted the words "Jesus Christ" in their mission statement, which reads, in part, "united by a common loyalty to Jesus Christ for the purpose of helping persons grow in spirit, mind and body."

The YMCA of Middle Tennessee also was promoting its biblical-based program "Journey to Freedom" at the national gathering, a program that offers support to people going through divorce, grief or other life-changing issues.

At the facility Blattner toured, there's a big banner displaying biblical verses in the lobby, a prayer request box and a family Bible prominently displayed.

That was too much of a "big C" for Blattner.

"I'm not Christian," Blattner said. "I respect your religion. But when I see posters and placards on the wall that reflect Christian principles, I feel left out," he said. After the workshop was over, he was more blunt: "It offended me, and I don't think it's right for the Y."

Reading the article, I had no idea that there such a dicotomy within the leadership of the Y between those who apparently want to full embrance the C and all that it means and those who want to distance themselves from it.

As a member of the Y in three cities over the past eight years (all of them in the South), I will admit the first thing that attracted me to the Y was it that it had an indoor and outdoor aquatic facility. I'm a lap swimmer and if I could only do one form of working out, I'd choose swimming hands down, every time. There is something amazingly theraputic about it for me not only physcially but also mentally.

Now all the Y's I've been a member of or have visited in my travels (again all in the Southeast), have had an emphasis on the "C" part of the name. We've had verses from the Bible up on banners, some have spiritual vitamins at the front desk that are slips of paper with Bible verses on them and there have been Bible studies offered at some. But never in my travels or experience have I come across a Y that stated you had to be a "Christian" in order to be a member. They never checked my wallet for my church membership card, but instead accepted me where I was. I had the choice to join and I had the choice of how much or how little to be involved in any or all of the activities. Membership in the Y, to me, didn't necessarily equate to being a Christian.

So, for me the big head scratcher is people who go, "You mean the Y is a Christian organization?!? I had no idea."

To which sarcastically, I'd love to respond--"Yeah, it's kind of in the name."

But that would be rude.

I don't understand why some people want to deny this part of what the Y is. I mean, if all you're looking for is a reasonably priced place to workout, there are plenty of those around. (Oh sure, they'll require you signing a contract wherein if you want you, you must give up your house, car, first-born and possibly your soul, but you can get a pretty good deal.)

As I've said before, I've never felt that at any of the Y's I've been a member of that there was some hidden agenda. The Chrisitianity was there, but it was more than just a Bible sitting out or the spiritual vitamins I could choose to or not to pick up. It seems to me that the Y was living out the Chrisitan ideal as set forth by Jesus to love your neighbor as yourself. I've seen this in the programs they have to keep the Y open and available to everyone, regardless of income level. I've seen it in in the way the leadership and staff of the Y work and operate the various facilities (not just here in middle Tennessee). But never have I felt that the Y was forcing its values or an agenda on me. When I joined there was no box to fill in the name of my church or what denomination I was. There was never any clause saying--well, Michael you can join but you must attend a Bible study a week, etc.

I felt as though the Y and those working at it and running it were instead living the Chrisitan life as an example and not forcing it upon everyone who came in the door.

So, in that area I think the Y is doing a great job.

And it's what makes me wonder about these reports of those who want to de-emphasize the C in YMCA. I don't want to judge them, but it seems to me that by doing that, you're really getting away from makes the Y different from just a place to workout or take swim lessons.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 7/31/2006 01:45:00 PM | |

The August Challenge: Year Three
For the past two years, I've issued the August Challenge to the blogging world. The challenge is this: during the month of August, you post about things that make you happiness or bring some happiness to your life.

I know, this goes against everything that blogging stands for in that we accentuate the positive instead of whining and griping about stuff. That said, I've found it a great excercise these past two years and so I figured I'd issue the challenge again (at the prodding of the August Challenge's number one fan, Prochein Amy).

So, if you're interested, all you have to do is start tomorrow and post something that makes you happy.

Anyone interested?

posted by Michael Hickerson at 7/31/2006 07:56:00 AM | |
Saturday, July 29, 2006
Wow...I feel so special
Saturday night, I'm sitting at home and the doorbell rings.

Figuring that it might be Sarah Michelle Gellar finally coming to her senses and leaving Freddie Prinze, Jr. for me, I answer the door.

As I look out the peephole, I see two guys in white shirts and ties.

Ugh, I sigh to myself. The Jehovah's Witnessess.

I open the door and am immediately hit with the hard sell. "We're here to share out your Lord and Savior Jesus Christ" they start in.

Ha, ha, I think, I'm a Christian so this should politely defeat the argument. "I appreciate it, but I'm a Christian."

"Good for you. Would you like some brochures and a free gift?"

"Um, no thanks," I reply as I close the door.

Here's the thing--I'm not ashamed of my personal relationship with Jesus. But I don't honestly have the gumption to go out and share that testimony door to door with strangers. I mean, I take seriously the comission to go out and make disciples of all nations, but I also realize that it's about finding the right time and place to do so. Maybe a lot of people are saved door to door or maybe these guys come by at just the right time for other people in their walks. But to me it's just an annoyance....

posted by Michael Hickerson at 7/29/2006 08:36:00 PM | |

Live blogging
Live from Knoxville, it' s Fresh Food, Fresh Blog.

It's Cathy, Doug, Jay and Barry live-blogging all day long to raise money for Farm Aid.

So why stop by, give them some encouragement and make a donation to the cause.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 7/29/2006 09:29:00 AM | |
Friday, July 28, 2006
"Life's a song, you don't get to rehearse.."
This morning as I was eating my usual breakfast bowl of cereal, I decided to flip over to FX and see where in the rotation of Buffy episodes there were.

Huge mistake.

I noticed immediately that the episode was being shown wide-screen and since there was only one episode of Buffy filmed wide-screen (despite rumors to the contrary), I knew instantly which episode it was. The instant classic, musical episode "Once More With Feeling."

I was immediately sucked into the episode as I always am. I had to force myself to eventually turn it off and leave for work since a)I've got it on DVD and can watch it later and b)it ran long on first showing and will be edited in syndication which will only irritate me. But those few minutes of enjoyment did one thing--it got all the songs from the episode stuck in my head. So now here I am, trying to be a productive member of society and humming pieces of "Walk Through the Fire" and "Something to Sing About."

Oh sure, I've got the soundtrack (both offical release and the bootleg rips of the songs that wandered the Net for a while right after it aired) and I've been listening to it.

And I'm once again struck by the sheer genius that was Buffy. A lot of other shows copied Buffy's musical episode but there were none that did it any better.

It also makes me appreicate the genius that is Joss Whedon. He wrote and directed the episode and composed the songs and lyrics for the show. I'll be honest, when I first heard they were going to do a musical episode back in the summer of '01, I was skeptical. And then, what does Joss do, but completely and totally defy all expectations and deliver the best epiosde of any show that year. The fact that this show was unrecognized by an Emmy is a travesty.

And yet, as the years go along, I become more and more impressed by Joss Whedon. My admiration grows even more as I'm rediscovering Buffy this summer on DVD and then when I see things like his speech for Equality Now below.

Sit back, listen and be amazed at the genius....




posted by Michael Hickerson at 7/28/2006 10:41:00 AM | |

Titans' draft picks signed
Great news for Titans fans.

Vince Young and LenDale White are both signed and will be part of training camp when it opens up in Clarksville later this afternoon.

After last year's hold-out by Adam "Pacman" Jones, this is great news. This should give the two players all of training camp to start learning the system and add some value to the later stages of the four pre-season games when we might get to see them out on the field. And now instead of worrying about if they'll be in camp and how far behind they'll be when and if they get there, we can start worrying about bigger things--like the Jets on opening day.

And we can also rejoice that since training camp is opening, that means the greatest sport in the universe will be here soon....

posted by Michael Hickerson at 7/28/2006 07:38:00 AM | |
Thursday, July 27, 2006
Please, please, please let this be true
Cinescape is reporting that when Battlestar Galactica comes back in October, it will be paired with the greatest show in the history of television on Friday nights.

Yes, it appears the rumors the series 2/season 28 of Doctor Who will begin airing on SciFi in October. No official confirmation yet, but there are a lot of signs pointing to this being the case.

Doctor Who's recent run on SciFi more than doubled the ratings of the time slot and was a huge success for SciFi.

And now it's coming back sooner rather than later. Awesome news for American Who fans and I think this season with its tie-in for the Joss Whedon-ites among us (Anthony Stewart Head guest stars in the 4th episode) we might convert even more fans to the brilliance that is Doctor Who.

Of course, we all know that Doctor Who plus Battlestar Galactica equals one of the greatest nights of TV EVER.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 7/27/2006 02:11:00 PM | |
Wednesday, July 26, 2006
New version of Monopoly drops the paper money.
A new version of the popular board game Monopoly was introduced to the UK this week. It's a new modern version that instead of issuing paper money, gives the players the $200 for passing Go on a debit card.

The new version of the game may get an introduction here in the United States.

Now, my first question is--dear heavens, is this going to be another pin number for us to remember?

My other one is--I enjoyed playing Monopoly a good deal as a child and still do to this day. It was fun, but it also had the added bonus of being slightly educational in that you had to be able to add, subtract and make change. I've noticed over the past few years, making change and doing calculations in your head can be a bit disconcerting to the new waves of cashiers I come across (don't believe me...offer them three cents if the total is $19.53 and you give them, say $20.03 after they've punched $20.00 into the register....). So, will this new Monopoly game mean this skill will be further diminished?

posted by Michael Hickerson at 7/26/2006 03:41:00 PM | |

I just don't understand...
Two stories in one day about an inappropriate relationship between a teacher and a student.

First up is the story of Kimberly Kallenberg, an assistant principal at Powell High School in Knoxville who is alleged to have fixed grades and engaged in an inappropriate relationship with a student who is now a UT signee. Then, comes the news of Andrea Rail, a teacher in Maury County who has been taken into custody on charges os solitician of a minor.

All I can say is--I just don't get it. I mean, we already know that girls mature faster than boys, so the idea that these women would want to have an "inappropriate relationship" with a teenage boy baffles me. I don't quite get the attraction or the appeal. I mean, I think most teenages girls would tell you that teenage boys aren't always that attractive because they act like idiots. I guess it must all be about some kind of physical thing or something, but even then...

Maybe part of the thrill is that it is taboo. Maybe part of the thrill is that it's inappropriate. I mean, sure there is a side in all of us that likes to walk on the wild side a bit, but I've got to think that the idea of going to jail and losing your vocation would weigh pretty heavily against the thrill of a quick few moments of passion or letting your hormones rule you.

This whole thing baffles me on many levels. And you'd think people would learn from reports of people like Pamela Rogers that these things don't end well...but yet, the lesson is never learned.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 7/26/2006 01:20:00 PM | |

Happy birthday, Rebecca St James
Happy birthday, Rebecca St James!

Rebecca is one of my favorite singers and songwriters out there today and one that I really would love to see in concert someday. (I've got her live CD, but I still think it would just be awesome to hear her in person).

Last year, I wrote a belated and long post about Rebecca and her music on the day after her b'day (I got mixed up on the day). Not to toot my own horn here, but that post is one of my favorites from last year and my blog as a whole. So, if you're interested, please go and check it out. (But I will warn you to pack a lunch because it could take a few minutes).

I was listening to a rotation of Rebecca's music the other day and was struck, once again, by the sheer variety and power of it. If you were to pick up her Greatest Hits CD and give it listen, you'd be struck by the different levels of worship experience you can have all in the course of one CD. There are songs on there that are a celebration of God, some that are targeted toward encouraging each other in our walk and some that are prayerful. One of my favorites (and if you asked me to pick one favorite song of hers, I'd be hard pressed to do it) is "Speak to Me." In a lot of ways, it's a prayer and a challenge to myself as a believer. "Speak to me Lord, for your child is near...listening" is the opening line and it's a line I've found myself using in my own prayer life.

So, as I said last year, thank you Rebecca for the music and ministry. I've never met you and I may never get the pleasure, but I do want to thank you for the encouragement and witness your music has been in my life. I may be outside the general target demographic for your typical RSJ fan, but please know that I'm one of your biggest fans.

Happy birthday, Rebecca. And many happy returns.

(And if you're interested, she's got an account on MySpace to help keep up with her).

posted by Michael Hickerson at 7/26/2006 07:51:00 AM | |
Tuesday, July 25, 2006
As if SoaP needed more buzz....
Back during my days at UT, I went to see The Rocky Horror Picture Show at the UC. I'd never been before, but knew someone who'd seen it enough times before that I wasn't outted as a novice and publically mocked.

All I can say is--it was quite the expereince. I recall this girl from one of my classes was there and played the part of Janet. It was kind of difficult to see her in quite the same light during class after seeing her parade around in her frilly bra during the show.

But, I digress...

So, a whole group of middle Tennessee people is planning to go see Snakes on a Plane in a few weeks. In fact, the date has been set for August 19th to see Samuel L. Jackson take on a whole planeload of snakes. So, if you're in middle Tennessee and want to go, let us know. We're probably going to head out to the new theater out in Mt Juliet and you may or may not want to Fandango a ticket. I'll get back to everyone on a time to go as Snakes get closer.

Saturday during the meeting of the Middle Tenenssee Bloggers and Podcasters, Christian Grantham suggested that while it would be fun to see Snakes on a Plane with a group, it might be even more fun to figure out some kind of cue with which to announce our group presense to the theater, along the lines of Rocky Horror.

Sorry to break it to you ladies, but I won't be taking my shirt off.....

But anyway, after much discusson (two minutes) several of us (three people) agreed that this would be a great idea. But the question is--at what cue do we respond and how to do we do it? Now, I've heard for months that they went back and re-shot much of the movie to make it R-rated instead of PG-13....mostly so we could hear Samuel L say, "There are m*********** snakes on this m********** plane." Or something along those lines.

I know that Michael and Evo of Michael and Evo's Wingin' It are hopeful this line will appear. And if we lived closer to Phoenix, Arizona, we could join forces with them, possibly renting out a theater for a screening and just going nuts. I know Evo is pinning a lot of hope on this line or some derivation of it will appear in the film.

Now, I know there's a novelization of the film out, but honestly I ain't gonna read it. I don't think greater character development and backstory is gonna help. But not reading the novelization means that it makes finding the cue for our response that much more difficult.

Personally, I think we should go for the derivation of the line that everyone is hoping will be in there. I'm not sure what a good response would be that would not force management to ask us to leave the theater. Maybe some applause or a round of "Hell yeah!" when we hear it.

So, that's our quandry. We've got about a month to come up with something, so that gives us some time.

So, here's where we need your help. Join in the conversation here or over at the This is Smyrna blog. Also, post about this on your blog if you're so inclined. Get the fever spread and maybe we can all say we were there on the ground floor for the new trend for a new cult film. You can tell the grandkids about it someday...

Also, I wonder--should I phone into Wingin' It's voice mail show and tell them of our plan and see if we can get not only Nashville to do it, but also get other areas of the country to do it as well?

posted by Michael Hickerson at 7/25/2006 02:59:00 PM | |

No, I wasn't there...
My geek pedigree took a hit last weekend when I was (apparently) the only geek on the planet who didn't make the trek out to ComicCon.

It's not that I didn't want to go, mind you. It's just that silly things like paying the mortgage and having food took a priority in my life. I know, I know, if I were a true fan, I'd get the house foreclosed on and live in a van down by the river...either that or sell t-shirts on-line to help raise money for myself. Alas, I'm not nearly in the same realm of celebity that Dustin "Screech" Diamond is, so I had to content myself with learning about what went on at ComicCon via the Internet.

Man, what did we do in the days before we had the Internet and we had to wait weeks or months to hear reports of panels taking place at conventions?

I guess we just chiseled out the results on a cave wall and then hoped people would read them.

But back to my point...lots of interesting info on upcoming shows, movies, comic books, etc. It's probably good I didn't go because I'd be on geek overload after a weekend in which I could find out more about Spider-Man 3, the return of Babylon Five, Star Trek, Lost, Heroes (I'm really intrigued by this one), Battlestar Galactica and more. In fact, had I gone, Ron Moore would have have to issue a restraining order for me becuase I'd be begging him and offering up huge sums of cash for him to just ship the rough footage of the new epiosdes to my house so I could tell him if it was "good enough."

Oh and don't worry....I'd totally invite y'all over to help me "review" the footage. For a small nominal fee, of course...

posted by Michael Hickerson at 7/25/2006 09:25:00 AM | |
Monday, July 24, 2006
Nothing like a little panic in your life.
When I moved into my new house, I decided that instead of having a land line and a cell phone, I'd just have a cell phone--that is, provided the signal was good at my house. Can't have Sarah Michelle Gellar calling me, asking if she should leave Freddie Prinze, Jr for me and have that conversation get garbled. (Of course, I'd totally advise her to leave him, but not for me...I'm no prize, but if she'd leave him for me, she'd leave me for someone else. (Yes, sadly enough I've thought this through)).

So far, the arrangement has worked out well. A lot of it has been a matter of making sure the phone is charged all the time and that I don't take it off and put it down somewhere in the house that is unusual, thus insuring I will forget where it is.

So, yesterday I'm doing some work around the house and I realize I need to make a call. I reach for my cell phone and...it's not there. I think back, wondering where I put it down. So, I search the house, slowly panicking more and more because holy cow, I can't find my cell phone! Visions of Sarah Michelle calling are now dancing before my panicked brain...

As I'm standing there, I start to curse myself--fool, if you had a land line, you could call yourself now and find your phone. But oh no, smart guy had to go cheap and not get a land line.

Then, I recalled...foolish mortal, you have the Internet. You have Skype. It lets you make free calls.

I practically skipped to the computer, which let's face it is pretty embarrassing to see a 33 year old man skip to his computer. I opened up Skype, punched in my number and waited....

It rang. I heard nothng.

It rang again. Still nothing.

Now, panic is starting to creep in. It goes all the way to voice mail and now I'm thinking--oh sweet mother of mercy, I've lost the cell phone and now Sarah Michelle is definitely calling and she's gonna make Scooby Doo 3 with Freddie and it will suck but you'll watch it and the world will totally blame you.

See, this is how my mind works when in a panicked state. Things no longer make sense....

So I take a deep breath and start to think. Where'd I last see it? I had run errands and earlier used it while in Wal-Mart..did I leave it there. I go out to the car..nothing. Hmmm,I check under the seats and find nothing. Well, OK, I found dust bunnies but no phone....

So, I figure--let's go to Wal-Mart and see if we can find the phone. I try to drive at the speed limit to get there, but there's this growing sense of dread on me as I see vandal and hoodlums in Wal-Mart, using my phone to do all kinds of horrible things such as call everyone in my phone book and run up a truly spectacular bill. Plus, Sarah Michelle might be calling and get--gasp!!--a busy signal!!!!

I get to Wal-Mart and try to not run into the store. I am looking along the parking lot, seeing if the phone is sitting there...nope. I go in, looking at the floor. Nothing. I go to customer service and patiently wait while the person in front of me is helped.

And by patiently I mean I am going--come on......get your refund later. Terrorists could be using my phone right now to plot the downfall of America. And running up a truly spectacular bill.

So, I get up to the counter and ask if anyone has turned in a cell phone. They guardedly say maybe and ask me to describe it.

And my mind goes blank. I am stammering.."It's...um...silver....in a black case...and it would have played Rocky Top about ten minutes ago when I called to see if it was in the house."

At this point, the Wal-Mart employee smiles, hands me my phone and all is right with the world. I walk up humming "Reunited..and it feels so good" and feeling much better about life in general.

Oh and Sarah Michelle--if you're reading this, call me!

posted by Michael Hickerson at 7/24/2006 03:55:00 PM | |

It's offical...Monday's stink.
To quote Office Space, I've got a case of the Mondays...

And it appears that Blogger has had one much of the day too....

posted by Michael Hickerson at 7/24/2006 02:21:00 PM | |
Friday, July 21, 2006
I know they're not out until October...
No, I'm not talking about new episodes of Battlestar Galactica and Lost...

I'm talking about new books by two of my favorite authors, Elizabeth George and Stephen King.

I was looking through the Rutherford County on-line library catalog this morning and got the wild idea to see if the new books by these two were available for reserve yet.

I'm pleased to report they are available and I have put them both on reserve.

My little book-geek heart skipped a bit with the excitement. Man, October is going to be a good month...

posted by Michael Hickerson at 7/21/2006 10:16:00 AM | |

Chris Brown wants a trade
Was hit with a bomb-shell on SportsCenter this morning (in between the incredibly overproduced and manipulative Make a Wish segements, they actually talked about sports.....I was stunned!).

Titans running back Chris Brown has requested a trade
.

My first thought--what the heck?

My second thought--what the heck?

As a Titans fans, Chris Brown has been a whole lot of unrealized potential. He was supposed to make us all forget that Eddie George was cut and then went to play for that team that shall not be named but that sounds a lot like "Rowdoys." But every time Brown got even a bit injured, we were reminded how much he is not Eddie George since Eddie could have had his appendix removed Sunday morning before the game and still been out there to play Sunday afternoon. Eddie was tough and played through a lot of injuries. Chris Brown seems like he is always injured and forever teasing Titans fans that he could be good...maybe, if he could stay healthy for more than two consecutive downs.

Oh yeah and he is a comlete liability on third down. I can't recall any huge third and short plays that Brown has made good on--and for a featured, number one running back, that is your bread and butter. That's why you get the big bucks and win the love of the fans.

I guess Brown is feeling some pressure to make good on his promise since he's one of three backs this year and is in the final year of his contract. He wants to be the undisputed, number one guy for the team, which I'd be all for, providing he'd earned the priviledge. If Brown were to ask my advice, which he hasn't but that's the magic of the blogsphere, it would be stay healthy, play up to your potential or even beyond it and you'll be justly rewarded.

I can't see the Titans agreeing to this request. For one thing, they will get next to no value in a trade for Chris Brown. Also, I have to wonder what team out there would take Brown. It looks like the fortunes of Chris Brown rest with the Titans and vice versa.

Training camp hasn't even started and we've got controversy.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 7/21/2006 07:15:00 AM | |
Thursday, July 20, 2006
Bluegrass at the Ryman
Last Thursday, I made two further steps toward cementing my status as a Nashvillian--I had dinner at the Wild Horse (for those of you wondering, I didn't line dance and even if I had, there would be no YouTube posting of said dancing for your viewing pleasure) and then took in a show at the Ryman.

My dad and I went to hear Rhoda Vincent and the Rage and Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver as part of the Bluegrass Nights summer concert series.

I found out about the series last summer when I saw an ad in the paper. My father is notoriously difficult to buy a present for and I thought a bluegrass concert at the Ryman would be a great idea. I told my mom who agreed and then wanted to join me in the ticket purchase, buying him more than just one set of tickets. So, I went, got the tickets and took them back to my mom, who promptly thanked me, wrote me a check for ALL OF THEM and then left me in the same predicament I was before--what in the wide world of sports do I get my dad for his b'day?

Anyway, long story short--they had such a good time they ended up buying tickets to all the other shows in the series and then got season tickets for this year. And it's been so good this year, they've already got plans to get season tickets next year.

But my mom had heard Rhonda Vincent last year and she gave me her ticket last week so my dad and I could have some father/son bonding time.

First up, was Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver, who I'd never really heard much about before. I figured these guys would be a nice warm-up but that Rhonda Vincnet would be the star of the show. An article about Doyle in last week's City Paper only kind of reinforced this. Oh, how wrong I was. After a long introduction, Doyle and his band took the stage and proceeded to blow me away for the next hour or so. One interesting thing was that as we walked up to the Ryman, a bluegrass band was outside putting on a pre-concert show. They were doing a song that Doyle and company would do in their set..but the difference was night and day.

One thing I liked about Quicksilver was how expressive they were. Each person in the band had a personality and it showed on stage. So, not only could you get lost in the music, but you could watch for the give and take of the band. There was so good natured ribbing--espeically from Darren Beachley and Jamie Dailey. In a lot of ways, it felt like the kind of give and take you'd get from an old radio comedy--esp. the Jack Benny show. And since the Jack Benny show is one of my favorites, I found it very appealing. Also, it seems as if Doyle has surrounded himself with the best talent out there and isn't afraid to let them show off and have their moment in the sun. He let each of his group have a moment to show what they bring to the group. And not just once but everyone got a couple of moments per song to shine.

Then, after a standing ovation and an encore, we had a break and it was time for Rhonda Vincent to take the stage. Now, I'd only heard Rhonda on her CDs before now, but I'd liked what I'd heard and was looking forward to it. And yes, she and the Rage were good..but honeslty I think Doyle and Quicksilver were better. But it's really one of those things where you have two great groups that both could easily headline their own show and you're picking between great and really great.

As with Doyle and Quicksilver, we got to the end of her set and I went, "It's only been five minutes...surely there must be more."

But we were still in for a treat. Rhonda and the Rage got a standing ovation as well, came out for an encore and invited Doyle and company back out for a bluegrass jam session....which was nothing short of spectacular. They did a lot of great gospel favorites, changing keys and songs and watching them all take a moment to show off and the looks to try and keep up. It was amazing and a great capper to end the show. I tell you I could have stayed another hour listening to them just jam on stage.

But, as the old saying goes, "All good things must come to an end..."

Now, I will admit something--I used to listen to country music a good deal, but I admit my fandom has waned a bit in recent years. I think part of it is that it started to sound so homogenized on the radio. It wasn't that it wasn't good, it just all sounded the same. It's why I appreciate those artists who take chances and risks to sound different or to sound old-fashioned instead of just going for a song that can crossover multiple genres and sell a bazillion copies. Don't get me wrong--I know want the artists to be able to make a living at what they do, but I also encourage them to take a risk from time to time.

Which may be why I liked these two groups so much. They were traditional with a modern sensibility. They respected what the tradition of bluegrass but they each put their own mark on it. In short, it was a great concert and Vincent said she'll be back next year. I know I'm going to get my tickets to go...and cross my fingers Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver are back with her.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 7/20/2006 02:10:00 PM | |
Wednesday, July 19, 2006
New kid on the block...
Back when I was in college and president of the UTK chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, we organized a panel on reporting scandals in sports. OK, so it's not entirely original or ground-breaking, but we sure as heck thought it was.

For our panel, we invited several local sports media figures to be part of the panel of distinguished experts. We had Bob Kessling before he was the Voice of the Vols (though after his big giant floating head had been permanently scarred onto my psyche...see, in Knoxville late at night they had on this commerical for Bob's sport cast with his head floating on the technicolor corridor effect from Vertigo...needless to say, I'm still scarred from it over a decade later), a couple of the local radio guys (I want to say Mike Keith came in his days before the Voice of the Titans) and we invited some sports journalists from the News-Sentinnel.

We had our panel pretty much set and ready to go when the advisor called me and said we'd have to make an addition to our panel. Seems that the local ABC affililiate had found out about our panel, that Kessling was coming and wanted to send their lead guy as well. The ABC affiliates's attitude was--we're in second place in the market and we're going to do whatever it takes to get to first place.

So, we had an addition to our panel and looking back it was a great one. Jim Wogan was personable, interesting and thoroughly accessible. He ended up being the most memorable panelist of a panel full of the "Who's Who?" of broadcasting in the Volunteer State.

I always find it interesting in the media when there's a seemingly invincible juggernaut and the new, "upstart" isn't afraid to take it on. One of the biggest examples was back in the day when FOX moved The Simpsons off Sunday night to take on the ratings juggernaut that was The Cosby Show. Or next year with the battle of Grey's Anatomy and CSI.

Or even when it extends to other media outlets--like radio.

Back in Knoxville, we had the big sports call in show of SportsTalk on 99.7. This was the show that launched the career of Mike Keith and is tied into the UT broadcast network. So, it's pretty much the big dog in town. Then there was Tony Basillio's show that was the vagabond show of sports radio. Tony moved stations more often than most of us change socks. He had a loyal band of callers who'd follow his show wherever it went, so they could all wonder "When are we going to beat Florida?" or "Why didn't we win by seven touchdowns?" (I have since found out some of Tony's fans will call into shows all across the state....I've heard them locally. It was a real Twilight Zone moment to hear some of those voices on my radio when I first got to Nashville).

And here in Nashville, we have a similiar battle. I don't think anyone can aruge that Sports Night on 104.5 the Zone isn't the king of the afternoon sports call-in show. It's got the ratings to prove it. But that hasn't stopped other stations from coming in and trying to get a piece of the pie.

The latest experiment in this kicked off this week when 106.7 The Fan launched The Sports Guy, a new drive-time show hosted by Bob Bell and Boots Donnelly.

I've listened to the first two days sporadically and while I don't think George Plaster is going to lose any sleep over worrying that these guys might overtake his ratings next week, it's a solid enough show. And let's face it--the real battle will begin in a next week when God's sport begins with SEC media days, Titans training camp and the countdown to real football. (Not that stupid European crap they try to pass off as exciting and worth our interest...I'm so gonna get hate comments for that...)

The new show is still finding an identity and its niche, but then again it's only been two days. And it's already a damn sight better than the other show that was on and cancelled. I will listen to Bob Bell talk about 1AA football anyday over hearing Blake Fulton hijack the sports shows to find out what kind of dog he should buy to impress women. (My big complaint with Fulton was too often the show became about his own ego-gratification and not about sports...)

And in all of that, I still haven't given any love to Bill King's show on the AM dial, which may be the most honest assessment of the sports team in our community. King pulls no punches in his praise and/or criticism of the Vols, the Commodores or the Titans. He calls it like he sees it and while I may not always agree, I don't feel as if he's running down one team to make another favorite look better. Or that he suffers from what a lot of Vandy fans it this town do--the inferiority complex to the big school to the East....(Oh, the hate e-mail I'm going to get on this post....I insult soccer and Vandy...it's a banner day).

All I know is that it's giving Nashville sports fans some variety. And I like it. It means that if they're talking about something that doesn't fire up my interest on one show, I can flip over and see what the other guys are discussing. I'm sure that is exactly what station managers at each of these respective stations don't want to hear....but to them I say--my loyalty is easily bought. (Think free t-shirts...)

posted by Michael Hickerson at 7/19/2006 10:05:00 AM | |
Tuesday, July 18, 2006
All the cool kids are doing it...
So, Barry and Logtar both have challenges to list out 24 interesting and/or unusual things about yourself. I did 100 Things About Me about 1100 posts ago, so I guess it might be time for a return visit. I will try my best to not repeat anything I said about myself there in this list.

  1. I worked for a minor league baseball team when I was in high school and college. It was the Prince Williams Cannons and at the time it was a farm-team for the Yankees. I used to sell souveniers and got to interact with some of the big-name players of today back when they were minor leaguers (and by interact I mean, go "Sure," when they wanted to steal a copy of Baseball Weekly so they could see their name in it).
  2. During one of my summers there, I dressed up as the mascot, Boomer the Cannon Ball. I'd love to tell you this was to bring joy to the small children and enjoy the sense of fun of being Boomer the Cannon Ball. But it was all about getting to hang out with the Diamond Girls who served as the entorage for Boomer.
  3. Speaking of summer jobs, I also worked at Busch Gardens in Williamsburg, VA. I worked there three summers. I worked mainly in the Octoberfest area which meant I had to wear these silly outfit that looked like it had suspenders and lederhosen. I've since burned all pictures that could be used as evidence.
  4. I also worked for a few weeks near the Roman Rapids ride. It was in the Italy section and the outfit for this was, shockingly enough, far worse than the one for Oktoberfest. I came home in it and my family couldn't stop laughing at it. Even the dog was embarrassed for me.
  5. I've watched a lot less TV this summer. In fact, I'm about a week behind on Dead Zone and two weeks behind on The 4400. Only show I'm really keeping up with is Rescue Me. OK, and the new Doctor Who but that ended last week.
  6. I actually bought all three season of The Greatest American Hero on DVD. I used to love that show and the nostalgia value drove me to it. It's aged fairly well, though funnily enough at one point Ralph and Bill are driving somewhere and Ralph makes Bill stop so Ralph can use the phone. I went--but why doesn't he just use his cell phone and then went--idiot, they didn't have cell phones when this was filmed. And then I felt old.
  7. I've been to two nude beaches in my life. Both trips were not planned as "Hey, let's go to a nude beach."
  8. The first one came while living in California. The church youth group had gone camping and we decide to go to the beach. So we drove up to one that was a state beach and then went for a walk. Unknown to us, when the state beach ended and it became private, it was also a nude beach.
  9. The second one was while visiting Hawaii. My dad and I were on the Big Island touring and decided to find the black sand beaches. We found the state run black sand beach and it was, well, underwhelming. It was nothing like the images you see in movies or on postcards. So, we decided we'd follow the map to the other one. Well, it was not as well marked but we eventually found it based on all the cars parked near it. We had climb down some rocks to is and found it out it was the clothing optional beach. And that Ugly Naked Guy from Friends had brought the whole ugly naked family for a day out. We didn't stay long.
  10. And before you ask, no I didn't participate in the clothing optional part at either beach. For one thing, the experience in California was with the youth group and a girl I desparately had a crush on the time was with us....so yeah, not a good idea.
  11. Moving around, I found it interesting what books were read at what age level and how that differed. I read a lot of interesting books that may or may not necessarily still be accepted classics of literature. For example, Mary Stewart's Merlin trilogy.
  12. Becuase of that, I've had to read some of the bigger literature books on my own. Several include To Kill A Mockingbird and Catcher in the Rye.
  13. I still think Seinfeld is the funniest show ever made, though my rewatching of NewsRadio on DVD has given it some strong competition. That show was genius...
  14. I make a really good banana pudding. Man, can you tell I'm hungry as I type this?
  15. I wear glasses. I had contacts for a while but wasn't a big fan of them. Painful experience with one getting stuck up in my eye, under the eyelid might be part of it.
  16. I haven't done a flip off a diving board since I was 13 years old. Why you ask? Last time I did one, I got 3/4s of the way around and suddenly went straight out and did a back flop. It still stings. (Yeah, I'm a wimp...so sue me).
  17. That said, I do enjoy diving off a diving board. But I haven't done it in a while as it seems a lot of pools these days don't have a diving area. How can kids these days learn to do a killer cannonball without the diving area?
  18. I can be a bit shy and self consious when it comes to meeting new people. But hopefully that ice breaks quickly.
  19. This can lead to a second issue, which is, if I meet a woman, iniatiting the first phone call. I tend to overanalyze every last detail--is it a good time to call? is it too late? what should I say? wil there be awkward silence? (Neurotic much?)
  20. This lead to hilarty recently in which I was given a phone number (actually several (and by several, I mean, more than one phone number for one person...I didn't want everyone to get the idea that I'm Fonzie or something)) and told I could and should call. I did a few rounds of the Stuart Smally speech ("I'm good enough, I'm smart enough and doggone, it people like me.") and then dialed. It rang once, twice and then I'm thinking--great, what kind of message should I leave when I get the machine. Then, she picks up and I ask if may please speak to her, promptly getting hung up on. I sit there and stare at the phone in disbelief that it says "Call Disconnected" and think--huh, what the hell just happened here. So, I waited a few, called back and was able to quickly get in that who I was and then found out telemarketers were calling and becuase it took a second for my phone to connect and I asked politely to speak to her, she assumed I was a telemarketer and hung up on me. Much hiliarity ensued and then everything went well. It's a unique way to break the ice, but hey, it worked.
  21. I'm very verbose apparently since everyone else's list like this is only about half a page.
  22. I have all of "Best of Both Worlds, Part 1" memorized. It's pretty scary.
  23. At my funeral, I want three songs played--Amazing Grace, The Dance and Rocky Top. (Morbid, yes. But then again, I have to tell as many of y'all as possible so you'll remember in your time of grief. What do you mean you won't come?!?)
  24. Being Uncle Michael is still the coolest thing in the universe. OK, it's not new but you know what, I don't care...
I honestly thought it'd be easier to come up with 24 things than this. Of course, I did challenge myself to not list things about TV shows I like (too much) so that may be part of it.

So, thanks for reading. I'm supposed to tag six people to pick up the torch, but you know so many people have already done it, I'd hate to re-tag someone and then be publically mocked. So if you want to play, consider yourself tagged.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 7/18/2006 12:13:00 PM | |

Creative subject lines
You've got to give the SPAMmers credit--at least they're trying to be creative. Sure, the offers inside are probably the same tired make money fast schemes, but the subject lines I've been getting lately are absolutely creatively hilarious. For example, this morning I got a message with the subject line " pomegrante dawn."

I don't know why but that just sounds like a really good title for a sci-fi short story....

posted by Michael Hickerson at 7/18/2006 07:43:00 AM | |
Monday, July 17, 2006
How to waste time on a Sunday afternoon.
Late yesterday afternoon, I was doing some things around the house, trying to avoid going to the grocery store (I disguised my avoidance as making a list of the things I needed and justifying it to myself as--no, really, you'll save money by not buying a bunch of crap you just don't need). So, in order to help waste some time and create some background noise in the house, I turned in the TV and started flipping around.

Now, I'll admit something--I'm not a huge golf fan. For me, it's like racing in that I can usually see the edited highlights on SportsCenter and that's enough. I don't need to see every last second of the tournament. Part of this may be that in a former life, I delivered live golf scores for a living and, well, I got really burned out on golf (there is a ton of it...they take off less time between seasons than the NBA).

So, how I got sucked into watching and caring about the the final round of the Jamie Farr classic I don't know.

Oh, OK, I do, but I just don't want to admit it. Two words: Natalie Gulbis.




See, not only is she cute but yesterday she was wearing that little orange number you see above. I sort of starting rooting for her during the live golf score delivery days because she was someone I recognized in the myriad of names on the LPGA tour and, well, because she's cute. (I'm a guy...what can I say?)

So, as I flip past ESPN2 yesterday, I see she's leading the tournament. Good for her, I think and keep on flipping. She is on the final three holes and I decide to tune back in a few minutes to see if she's won the whole thing (it'd be her first win on the tour...I know this because the announcers reminded us every 20 or so seconds). Anyway, I flipped back to see that she was now tied for the lead and they went to a sudden death playoff.

Now, it suddenly because kind of interesting. God help me, I just said televised golf suddenly became kind of interesting. (On a side note, I really need to look into getting a life). And I'll admit, I did watch the rest of the sudden death with interest. I flipped back and forth between it and some other things on the tube (I mean, the thing with a playoff in golf is there's a lot of dead time between action...we hit the ball, we watch it fall, now we have to wait for the golfers to get up the ball, select a club, analyze the conditions of the ball, yada, yada, yada. So, I'd keep flipping back to see-are they hitting the ball yet? and generally see them making their shots.

Then, on the third hole, Natalie lost when she missed a putt. Poor kid.

And I felt like--man, I've just wasted a good bit of my life here watching this. But then I remembered Natalie in the orange outfit and it suddenly didn't seem like as much of a waste of time....

posted by Michael Hickerson at 7/17/2006 08:38:00 AM | |

I'm Just Like You, But I Have a Podcast: Episosde Twelve
Two podcasts in a month! This must be some kind of new record!

The latest and greatest episode of I'm Just Like You, But I Have a Podcast. On this week's show you'll hear:
All this, plus a few other surprises. Warning: This one runs long--just over an hour. Also, if you've not seen series two of Doctor Who, SPOILERS exists within the conversation with Sarah.

Also, don't forget that this Saturday is the regularily scheduled middle Tennessee bloggers and podcasters group meeting. The festivities kick off at 11:30 a.m. at the Mothership BBQ.

I must also apologize to my faithful listeners who were hoping for the Power Records Spider-Man: The Mark of the Man-Wolf in this podcast. I know I promised it last time, but the podcast got a bit full and we all know I don't heavily edit these things. I will include it on the next regular editition. (I hope!)

You can listen directly at this link.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 7/17/2006 07:10:00 AM | |
Saturday, July 15, 2006
Liveblogging: Titans single game tickets
9:45 a.m. - Logged into my Ticketmaster account (which I use only once a year to try and get Titans tickets) and staring at the screen listing all the games I could attend should I be willing to part with the cash. I'm leaning toward Indy and Baltimore as my first two choices, though I suspect a lot of other people feel the same....

9:50 a.m. - Waiting...waiting...waiting.... I swear to you if ComCast goes into an outage at 9:59 a.m. I will go postal...

9:56 a.m. - Is this not the most compelling post you've ever read? Imagine my thrill of living it....

10:05 a.m. - I realize that the security screen has to be there to prevent scalpers..but come on Ticketmaster...make it at least easier to read! Ugh...waiting....

10:08 a.m - Woo hoo! Got some tickets! Go me! I will get to see one of the Manning brothers play in Nashville this year....so that's good.

10:09 a.m - My security password to try and get Ravens tickets was "steve". Irony, much?

10:10 a.m. - Well, I got two tickets for the Giants vs Titans game. I've tried to get Indy and Baltimore but they're kind of sold out. Gee, huge shock. Oh well, I'm pretty happy with what I've got.

10:12 a.m. - Tickets don't seem to selling out as fast this year as in previous years. Even though I wish my beloved Redskins were coming to town (they play the Titans in D.C. this year, so maybe next year), I'll still get to see the Titans take on an NFC East team....

posted by Michael Hickerson at 7/15/2006 10:13:00 AM | |
Friday, July 14, 2006
Titans single game tickets on sale tomorrow
So, I was driving home from the Ryman last night (more on that later) and passed Adelphia Coliseum LP Field. I recalled that Titans single game tickets go on sale tomorrow and that in previous years there were fans who started camping out a couple of days before hand in order to secure tickets.

I looked over and tried to see if there was anyone out there camping out for tickets and I saw no evidence of this occuring.

Come on Nashville! I know last year was a disappointment but there's always hope in the new year.

That said, I bet the tickets sell out just as quickly as in previous years. I will also go out on a limb and say that the two most in-demand games will be Indy and Baltimore. Probably followed the Evil Empire. (For those of you new to the blog that's the team that shall not be named from Texas in the city that starts with a D and sounds like "callous").

posted by Michael Hickerson at 7/14/2006 07:29:00 AM | |
Thursday, July 13, 2006
Happy b'day Kathy T.
Kathy T of Where's the Mute button is celebrating a b'day. Surf over and share the b'day wishes and love....

posted by Michael Hickerson at 7/13/2006 11:17:00 PM | |

Mark your calendars
Mark you calendars....season three of Battlestar Galactica starts Friday, October 6 at 9 p.m. CST. according to the Unofficial Battlestar Galactica blog, which got its info from the Futon Critic.

Two things: I know where I'll be Friday, October 6th and man, it can't get here soon enough!

posted by Michael Hickerson at 7/13/2006 04:43:00 PM | |

What the heck?!?
So, last night I went to my Wednesday evening spin class. And one of the songs used to help us press up the hill was a cover of the popular Nena 80's hit, 99 Red Balloons (or 99 Luft Balloons). Which it was all fine and good until they LEFT OUT the lyrics that include the name "Captain Kirk"!

Come on!

That is the greatest part of that song--the fact that the orignal version is in original German the only words you can understand in English are "Captain" and "Kirk."

OK, sure the song is about nuclear war and armageddon, but come on--you can understand the words "Captain Kirk!"

As I said, that's the BEST part of the song. And they left it out of the cover version. What is this world coming to?

Oh and I know--I'm sure this cover song came out years ago and I'm just now getting around to hearing it because that's the kind of tragically unhip person I am.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 7/13/2006 08:18:00 AM | |

Some random cute stories
It's been a while since I posted some random, cute stories about my neice and nephew. I know that my loyal readers enjoy them and, let's face it, Uncle Michael loves to brag on his neice and nephew. So, here we go.
  • I took last Monday off from work to have a big four-day weekend. (Yes, you can officially hate me now). As I was lounging around the house, I got a call from my mom asking me if I'd like to take on Opry Mills with her, my sister and the kids. I figured it might be fun so off we went. A good time was had by all, esp. when I got to take Davis on the carosel in the food court. (Gracelyn rode with Grandma). To say he loved it is something of an understatement since as the ride stopped and I said, "OK, we have to get off now," he threw a fit. "I don't waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaana get off!" he said, desparately clinging to the horse he was on. Thankfully, Mommy had purchased food while we were riding the carosel so that disappointment was quickly forgotten.
  • Gracelyn and Davis hadn't seen the inside of my new house since they helped me move in, so they came in to check it out. As I was moving in, Gracelyn was very worried that I had no bed in my bedroom. "Where will you sleep?" she asked. I joked I'd "just hang from the ceiling" and she was pretty concerned about that. So, back to my original story. I've got a bookcase in the entry hallway to my house that I'd just finished repainting and was putting some of my large collection of DVDs away on. Davis came in, made a bee-line for the bookshelf and started checking out the DVDs. And what did he pick to look at? Classic Star Trek, season two. That boy has great taste is all I can say.
  • So, Sunday afternoon I was babysitting the kids and we went outside to play. And we now have a new favorite game that is Superman or Supergirl. This game involves one of the two being the one who has superpowers and can fly. The other then wanders over about five steps away and says, "Help, help, Superman!" (Uncle Michael used to watch Lois and Clark...can you tell?) Then Superman or Supergirl flies over (with the help of Uncle Michael), "rescues" the person in distress and flies off. Of course, as he or she flies off, they encounter a random pocket of Kryptonite charged atmosphere and then "crash" (which means Uncle Michael goes, "Oh no, Kryptonite!" and slowly lowers them back to the ground.) A good time was had by all, though they didn't quite understand that while they each got a break from being Superman or Supergirl, Uncle Michael didn't....so why was he tired?
  • Sunday night, I'm making them dinner and watching some movie about Barbie and a magical Pegasus. (So, are they old enough to watch Dr Who yet, I keep asking myself. Cause it's soooooo much better than Barbie....) Anyway, as that movie was mercifully ending (I've seen it a couple of times now), I stuck a copy of Shrek in the DVD player. If you've got Shrek on DVD (and if you have kids, you know you do), you may recall the menu screen features Donkey jumping up and down yelling "Ohhh...ohh...pick me, pick me!" Well, Uncle Michael was trying to bribe them into eating the last bit of dinner as Shrek came on and so the menu screen played over and over for a while. And wouldn't you know it, the kids picked up on the jumping up and down saying, "Pick me, pick me!" and started to mimic it...which was fine until we started jumping on the couch doing it . Then, later in Shrek, Gracelyn asked me if Shrek was being nice and I said, "Not yet, he's mocking Donkey." Gracelyn looked puzzled at me and said, "What does mock mean?" I told her it meant making fun of someone and it wasn't usually nice. She seemed to find this answer accpetable and sat back to watch more of the movie. Until about ten minutes later, when I was scooping out some ice cream (hey, I'm Uncle Michael here...) and Gracelyn comes into the kitchen and goes, "Mock my please." Davis hears it, runs in and goes, "Me too."
  • Oh and I was the hero of the hour when I told Gracelyn that not only was there another Shrek movie, but Uncle Michael owned it. (Actually, the Shrek she has is mine that she borrowed about two years ago...) And that he'd let her watch it..and that a third one was coming next summer and maybe Uncle Michael would take her to see in the big theater.


posted by Michael Hickerson at 7/13/2006 07:57:00 AM | |
Wednesday, July 12, 2006
Scientology episode of South Park to repeat
The infamous Tom Cruise/Scientology epiosde of South Park will repeat next Wednesday evening at 9 p.m. CST on Comedy Central for those of you who didn't it via YouTube or other methods (lik a friend who'd taped it and loaned it to you...I'd never advocate file sharing because it's so very, very wrong...)

It's probably part of Comedy Central's plan to get people watching TV again since TV viewing was at an all-time low last week. Imagine the audacity of people going outside, spending time with family and friends, reading, etc. instead of watching TV.

OK, we all know what it really was--it was all those people who went to see Pirates 2 over the weekend that caused the dip...

posted by Michael Hickerson at 7/12/2006 01:39:00 PM | |
Tuesday, July 11, 2006
Playing the "what if" game....
Back in the day, Marvel Comics had this series that asked "What if..." and basically changed one or two assumptions about one of the Marvel Universe's characters. For example, one I recall was "What if Gwen Stacey hadn't died?"

It's fun in the fictional world to ponder and it's something that a lot of us can carry over to the real world to varying degrees. Sort of like this story my Grandpa used to tell that he was approached by a guy back in the day with this lucrative investment opportunity, but he turned it down because no one would buy Coca-Cola bottled.

But, for me, there's another side of the coin. Every once in a while, I have one of those--see, that's what your life could have been like moments. Usually these moments make me take a step back and appreciate that while my life is not perfect, it's still pretty damn good.

Had one this afternoon.

Sure, my life isn't perfect, but you know what--it's pretty damn good...

posted by Michael Hickerson at 7/11/2006 03:58:00 PM | |

My geek pedigree
So, my good buddy Kat Coble questioned my geek pedigree yesterday, not on her blog but on the granddaddy of middle Tennessee blogs, Nashville is Talking.

Apparently, my lack of desire to see Pirates 2 means I'm not up to snuff when it comes to being a geek...

To that, I must say, "Nay, nay."

I say this based on my years of faithful, almost slavish devotion to a little show called Doctor Who. To paraphrase a popular song, "I liked Dr Who when Dr Who wasn't cool." (Stop right there Barry...you cannot comment anything about it not being cool now...). Oh sure, it's totally cool now when you've got armies of Daleks and Cybermen fighting each other in the series two finale (speaking of which....how cool was it that they didn't drop the ball on this one, cause it totally could have been a jump the shark momnet). But I remember back in the dark times when the outlook for new Dr Who was pretty darn bleak and people just looked at you funny if you said you liked the show....

OK, they still kind of do, but at least now they've HEARD of it again.

Anyway, I feel that my geek status is fully in tact, despite not really being all the excited about Pirates 2. And don't make me start a count-down to the new episodes of Battlestar Galactica to prove it....

posted by Michael Hickerson at 7/11/2006 03:22:00 PM | |

Democracy in action
Now, this is the kind of election that can really bring our country together...

You can cast your vote for one of four new flavors of Mayfield ice cream. The winner will become a permanent part of the Mayfield offerings. The new flavors are: Extreme Moosetracks, Peanut Butter Cookie Dough, Triple Brownie and Blueberry Cream Pie.

Not sure which one to pick? Well, if you live or work near downtown Nashville, today is your lucky day. There is a sampling scheduled at the State Capitol, Legislative Plaza in the East Courtyard today (July 11th) from 11 a.m to 2 p.m.

So, it's a debate but instead of rhetoric, you get free ice cream...

posted by Michael Hickerson at 7/11/2006 07:38:00 AM | |
Monday, July 10, 2006
Nashville gets new drive time sports call-in show
The Tennesseean is reporting that SportsRadio 106.7 The Fan will return to the arena of live, local call-in sports talk during the afternoon drive time next week. The station has been running syndicated ESPN programming since the show featuring Blake Fulton and Joe Biddle was cancelled a few months ago.

The new show, which will be hosted by Boots Donnelly and Bob Bell, will go up the 300 pound gorilla that is George Plaster's show on 104.5 The Zone. It will also go up against the call-in show on AM 560 with Bill King (kind of the Tony Basillio show of the Nashville market only with a better host).

I'm all for it becuase I think the variety and competition benefits the radio listener. I think it's good to have a station or two to push the big dog in the area and keep every one on top of their game. And as we get toward the most important sports season of all, we need all the coverage we can get....

I'm also glad to the new show has new blood in it. I was getting a bit tired of Blake Fulton's schtick...

Now, if some local station would pick up Rick and Bubba in the mornings again, I'd be a happy radio listener.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 7/10/2006 02:36:00 PM | |

Pirates 2 makes a boatload of money *
Apparently I was one of three people in America who didn't go and see Pirates 2 this weekend, judging by the huge box-office take of the film.

So, I guess for now the summer movie season is "saved." Expect a bleak outlook next week if the box-office take drops off significantly.

Can I be honest here and not have y'all hate me?

I honestly have little or no interest in Pirates 2. The first one was a fine movie but I was never nearly as in love with it, let's-pick-out-China-patterns as many people I know. And I just can't muster up the enthusiasm for a sequel that many people I know have.

Does this make me a bad person?

And am I insane to ask the Internet if I'm a bad person?

* Get it--Pirates, boatload....I'll be here all weeks folks. Don't forget to tip your servers.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 7/10/2006 07:26:00 AM | |
Sunday, July 09, 2006
Italy wins the World Cup
Woke up from a nap just in time to see Italy kick a couple of penalty shots to win the World Cup.

There was much excitement and dancing around. You'd think they'd won a real sporting event like a Super Bowl or the Tennessee/Alabama game, not some silly soccer match.

At least the good news is that in just nine weeks, the NFL regular season is back with a full Sunday slate of games.

Man, I miss REAL football...

posted by Michael Hickerson at 7/09/2006 03:55:00 PM | |
Saturday, July 08, 2006
Movie going experience
It seems as though every Friday, I hear about the high hopes and expecations Hollywood has on whatever particular movie is opening that weekend to get the butts out in the seats at the theater, saving Hollywood from having a down year. Then, on Monday, there's always an article either trumpeting how much more money the latest big blockbuster made and how it exceeded expectations and created a genuine buzz among movie goers or that it failed to meet up to some lofty goals, thus leading to the whole doldrums thing.

Hollywood seems to be in quite a pickle from week to week, wondering how to get the fans back in the theaters. I think a large part of this is that, for the most part, if you get a halfway decent home theater system, you can pretty much have a simliar experience seeing a movie in your home as you can at the theater. And no one's cell phone will go off, you won't be stuck near some person who is chatty with their neighbor and you can control how warm or cool you it to be. About the only big difference is that the popcorn is generally better at the theater--assuming, you can afford the second mortgage on your home to buy some.

So, as I sat back this week and pondered the articles that Pirates 2 was going to save the summer movie season, I had some thoughts on how Hollywood could entice me and maybe you back to the theaters...
  • Have showings in the evenings that are for "adults only." No, I don't mean bring back a few X-rated films. What I mean is have some showings for adults that don't allow kids in. Now, I get when I go see a Pixar movie or the latest Shrek that there are gonna be kids there....but I also get a bit annoyed when I go to a more mature feature in the evening and people show up with kids who are clearly too young to see the movie and will have no interest in it. I assume that part of this is that its cheaper than babysitting, but you know, it makes all of us not so happy.
  • More bells and whistles that add value. Again, as I said, most of us can do the whole home theater thing at home, so why rush out to see something when in a month or two we can see it at home? I will admit part of the draw of Superman Returns last week was that it was on the IMAX and had parts in 3-D, both things I can't replicate at home (well, without pissing off the neighbors, that is...). And yes it cost more to get in, but the value was worth it because the overall experience was unique and, in many ways, superior.
  • Better overall movies. If they'd stop remaking every movie that was ever made even as early as last week, it might be better. Also, I think it's time Hollywood admitted that not every TV show whether classic or not, translates into a good film. I mean, sure we've had great ones like The Fugitive, but we've also had some real crap like The Beverly Hillbillies and Dukes of Hazard. Also, if you're going to do a sequel, follow the model of Godfather II, Empire Strikes Back and Spider-man 2. Don't just rehash the original, but expand the universe and characters. If you can't do that, then maybe consider doing something else that isn't a sequel. (I realize this is a complete pipe dream, but hey...I had to try it).
  • Stop making movies with Fredie Prinze, Jr. Oh wait, that's just my natural jealousy cause he's married to Sarah Michelle Gellar.
  • Don't have your preview give away all the good stuff. And by this I mean don't put in things that I can guess how it ends or plot twists. (Such as the Superman trailers where I figured out..well, I won't say in case you haven't seen it). Or that show scenes from the last ten minutes, esp. in the day and age when the Internet can download trailers any time and watch them many times.
  • Try to keep some things in the dark. It's hard to really have a twist that isn't ruined these days what with Aint-It-Cool-News out there. But it can be done...see, The Sixth Sense for example.
Are these ground-breaking? Probably not. Well, except that Freddie-Prinze-Jr ban thing....

But they might just work...

posted by Michael Hickerson at 7/08/2006 11:02:00 PM | |

Two months....
Only a few weeks until SEC media days....

About a month until the NFL kicks-off the pre-season.

Only two months from today, college football kicks off for the first full Saturday of the year.

And yes, I'm totally excited....it can't get here fast enough!

posted by Michael Hickerson at 7/08/2006 12:08:00 PM | |
Friday, July 07, 2006
Meltdown
While many of my fellow middle Tennessee bloggers were at the big blogger party thrown by WKRN last night, enjoying free drinks, some big news and (I'm sure) intelligent, witty conversation, I was babysitting my neice and nephew. And a good time was had by all for the first few hours. Uncle Michael showed up with nuggets from Wendy's (the filet mignon of chicken nuggets) which were a big hit, then allowed the duo to have fruit snacks. Then several hours were taken up playing with GeoTrax, which don't tell anyone but Uncle Michael loves playing with (probably even more than the neice and nephew do).

Things were going well until it got to be close to bedtime. Bedtime went fairly well for the first few minutes. Davis went to bed with his usual protest of "I'm not tired" as he pulls the blankets up over him, snuggles his head onto the pillow and cuddles up with his stuffed animal he sleeps with. Then it came time to get Gracelyn into bed, which depending on her mood can be a smooth process or complete battle of wills. And silly me, I was enjoying that, for the most part, it was a smooth process last night....until Mommy called to see how bedtime was going.

And it was all downhill from there. Gracelyn launched into a full-blown meltdown tantrum and Davis woke up, convinced he'd heard fireworks. Seem the revellers from the 4th of July had bought so many they couldn't just shoot them all off on the fourth and had extended this fun to the 5th and 6th...which all I can say is--you are utter, utter bastards. If you can't shoot off your damn fireworks all on the fourth, then you've bought too damn many. The usually calm and take life as it comes Davis had a complete crisis--full-blown panic for which nothing would calm him down except having Uncle Michael there. So, I had to take pick him and hold him until he fell asleep, which only annoyed Gracelyn that much more since (and those of you with siblings will know this) Davis was getting attention and she wasn't! Heaven forbid!

She finally gave-up on having her fit after about twenty or so minutes and Davis eventually fell asleep enough so I could put him back in his bed. Then Uncle Michael went and sat, just enjoying the sounds of silence. I am thinking today that Simon and Garfunkle wrote that song right after having two kids under the age of five have a total meltdown....

So, I'm sorry I missed the party. From looking at what other bloggers are saying, it sounds like I missed a great time. But you know, I'm not sure I'd trade the nugget-time and playing with GeoTrax with my neice and nephew for it. If only I could clone myself and be in two places at once...of course, then I'd have to feed the clone, which may not be especially cost effective in the long run.

UPDATE: So, Davis's first words this morning were "Where's Uncle Michael?" Best...nephew...EVER!

posted by Michael Hickerson at 7/07/2006 07:38:00 AM | |
Thursday, July 06, 2006
The Emmy nods are out...
So, the nominations for the Emmy awards are out and all I can say is--this new system isn't working. Here they are:

Outstanding Drama Series: Grey's Anatomy, House, The Sopranos, 24 and The West Wing
Outstanding Comedy Series: Arrested Development, Curb Your Enthusisam, The Office, Scrubs and Two and a Half Men

Lead Actress/Drama: Frances Conroy (Six Feet Under), Geena Davis (Commander in Chief), Mariska Hargitay (Law & Order: SVU), Allison Janney (The West Wing) and Kyra Sedgwick (The Closer)
Lead Actor/Drama: Peter Krause (Six Feet Under), Denis Leary (Rescue Me), Christopher Meloni (SVU), Martin Sheen (West Wing) and Kiefer Sutherland (24)

Lead Actress/Comedy: Stockard Channing (Out of Practice) Jane Kaczmerek (Malcolm in the Middle), Lisa Kudrow (The Comeback), Debra Messing (Will & Grace) and Julia Louis-Dreyfus (The New Adventures of Old Christine)
Lead Actor/Comedy: Steve Carell (The Office), Larry David (Curb), Kevin James (King of Queens), Tony Shalhoub (Monk) and Charlie Sheen (Men)

Supporting Actress/Drama: Candice Bergen (Boston Legal), Sandra Oh (Grey's), Chandra Wilson (Grey's), Blythe Danner (Huff) and Jean Smart (24)
Supporting Actor/Drama: William Shatner (Boston), Oliver Platt (Huff), Michael Imperioli (Sopranos), Gregory Itzin (24) and Alan Alda (West Wing)

Supporting Actress/Comedy: Cheryl Hines (Curb), Alfre Woodard (Desperate Housewives), Elizabeth Perkins (Weeds), Jaime Pressly (My Name Is Earl) and Megan Mullally (W&G)
Supporting Actor/Comedy: Will Arnett (Arrested), Jeremy Piven (Entourage), Bryan Cranston (Malcolm), Jon Cryer (Men) and Sean Hayes (W&G)

Here are some of my initial reactions....

Ok, how the hell did West Wing get a nod for best drama over the clearly superior dramas Battlestar Galactica and last year's best drama winner Lost?!? I'm beginning to think the production staff has comprimising photos of the Acadamy members that they're using to threaten them should they not get a nod...

How did Lost get shut out of all the nominations?!? Is it some insane backlash for the not being able to figure out if there was a new episode on a week to week basis?

OK, I know it was a pipe dream to hope that BSG, Lauren Graham and Kirsten Bell would all get nods, but surely at least one of these three is worthy! To say nothing of Edward James Olmos and Mary McDonnell from Battlestar.....

And wait--House gets a nod but not Hugh Laurie?!? How in the world?!? Hugh Laurie is the REASON TO WATCH House! Not that it's not good, but without Laurie's stellar work, it's just another medical drama.

OK, things they got correct....Denis Leary for Rescue Me, a nod for Scrubs (hopefully it wins this year) and Jean Smart and Greg Itzin for 24.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 7/06/2006 08:39:00 AM | |
Wednesday, July 05, 2006
New companion revealed
Rose Tyler leaves the TARDIS this weekend when Doctor Who's twenty-eighth season (second season of the new series) comes to a close.

This morning the BBC officially unveiled the new companion for when Doctor Who returns next year. Her name is Martha Jones and she'll be played by Freema Agyeman.

Agyeman was in this week's episode "Army of Ghosts" as a different character. She will join the TARDIS crew in the first regular episode next year, meaning the Doctor will be wandering the universe solo for the Christmas special later this year.

Official press-release and a picture are on the BBC's web site.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 7/05/2006 11:47:00 AM | |

Getting our attention.
Seems that North Korea's launching of (now confirmed) seven missiles yesterday was a ploy to get the U.S.'s attention.

Or at least that is how it's being spun in some places.

It makes me wonder what does North Korea want? Are they just trying to show off that they can now launch a missile that could hit the west coast at anytime? Should we be worried about their potential nuclear capabilities? (I think the answer to that last one is yes, but we should be worried about it anyway.) Or is Kim Jong II trying to find a way to take out Trey Parker and Matt Stone for making him the villain of Team America: World Police?

The U.N. Security Council is set to have discussions today about what should be done and how this should be addressed. Should make for an interesting news watching as the day goes along.

One thing that does strike me about this situation--could it be similar to the Cuban missile crisis of the early 60's?

posted by Michael Hickerson at 7/05/2006 07:34:00 AM | |
Tuesday, July 04, 2006
North Korea launches missiles
It's Independence Day--a day when the biggest fireworks should be those going off at various celebrations around the country or the good news that the space shuttle was successfully launched. Instead, we get news of bigger fireworks--North Korea has launched missiles that landed in the Sea of Japan. There are two confirmed launched and could be as many as four that were launched in total.

According to reports, the missles were launched about the same time the space shuttle launched this afternoon.

As I sit here, reading the story, I wonder--what does it all mean? Already the US and other UN nations are threatening economic sanctions against North Korea. Will that have the desired effect or will it just annoy the leadership of North Korea that much more? I have a feeling we'll be hearing a lot more about this story in the coming days not only in the news but also in the blogsphere...

posted by Michael Hickerson at 7/04/2006 04:44:00 PM | |

I'm Just Like You, But I Have a Podcast, Episode 11
Yes, I know, it's been months since I did a regular edition of my podcast. So what brought me out of retirement?
  • Well, I've got some reports recorded live from last night's blogger viewing of Superman Returns. Speaking of which--where was everyone? A good time was had by those two of us who gathered to watch the movie and all I can say is--y'all missed some fun. Hopefully y'all can make it out later this summer for Snakes on a Plane. (I will try not to schedule the next movie meet-up for a holiday weekend, which probably had a bit to do with it...)
  • I take a trip down memory lane. This part really tickled my inner geek. Growing up, I had a large collection of the Power Records. They were stories based on popular media titles of the time and I love 'em. For years, I've wanted to find them and hear them again..but they were only on vinyl an I have no way of playing vinyl. Until last week when I found this web site that has a ton of them, including the hard to find Star Trek ones. So, I included one of my personal favorites, "A Mirror for Futility" featuring the Star Trek crew.
  • Previews of things to come on the podcast...yes, I'm going to try to be more regular in putting out the podcast.
All kinds of good stuff and only 30 short minutes of your time. You can download it directly here or go here to listen on-line or maybe subscribe in your favorite podcast client.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 7/04/2006 11:40:00 AM | |

Superman Returns
Took in the spectacle and wonder that is Superman Returns on the IMAX last night. I have to say, overall, the movie was a strong return for the Man of Steel to the big screen. I think this one could do for Superman what Batman Begins did for that franchise.

Yes, the first 30 or so minutes are bit slow going, but that seems to be a pattern for Bryan Singer super-hero films. But once Clark returns to his old job at the Daily Planet and we see Lois Lane on-screen again, things pick up and sustain well until the ending credits. Brandon Roush does a good job channeling Christopher Reeve, though there is less "difference" between how Roush plays Clark and Superman as was so evident with Reeve. Kevin Spacey is great as Lex Luthor and it's nice to see that Lex's super genius, evil motive remains consistent from the first film--he wants wealth from land values. Oh so a few billion people have to die...nyah, that's the way the cookie crumbles.

One of the strengths of the film is that it takes time for us to care about the characters. The most successful superhero films ground the characters in a sense of reality and development, such as the original Superman, the two Spider-Man films, Singer's two X-Men films and last year's Batman Begins. By taking a bit more time and care, we have an emotional investment in things and that makes for a more enjoyable expereince. Sure Superman can fly and save the world, but he's incredibly awkward in his personal life. I love how he's confident and self-assured in every other aspect of his life, but when it comes to Lois, he's totally clueless.

All in all, a fun summer movie and a triumphant return for the Man of Steel to the big screen.

The only negative I found (other than the show start) was that one of the main plot twists I figured out from the previews. That's all I'll say about that...

Let me also add that the IMAX 3-D exeprience was great. The movie had four sequences in 3-D, the best being about 2/3rds of the way through when Superman has to rescue Lois, her fiance and her son from a sinking ship. There's a sequence there that is probably just breathtaking on the big screen to start with, but add in the 3-D expereince and it was beyond great. (Superman is holding onto Lois and company as a boat falls into the ocean....great use of 3-D. )

posted by Michael Hickerson at 7/04/2006 11:22:00 AM | |
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