I know I wouldn't be alone among sports fans in Nashville if I admitted that tomorrow's Titans game vs the Evil Empire (Dallas) didn't hold much interest for me.
The Vince Young era officially begins tomorrow. News out of Titans camp is that Vince will get th nod as the starting QB in tomorrow's tilt with the Cowboys.
And suddenly, my interest is piqued...
Of course, should Vince lead the team to victory, he will be the second coming of Steve McNair. If they lose or worse yet, he gets injured, everyone will wonder what in the world Jeff Fisher was thinking. The final result--no matter what happens, Fisher won't get any praise for it...
posted by Michael Hickerson at 9/30/2006 11:11:00 PM
As I was watching the UT demolition of Memphis today, I have to admit the coverage by ESPN was beyond annoying. You could tell ESPN was kind of hoping for an upset by the Tigers since once it became obvious Memphis had no chance, the announcers started blathering about anything but the game. Here's the thing ESPN--I tuned in to see the Vols play not to hear your announcers bullshit about Michigan State. If I cared about Michigan State beyond the updates you kept giving us, then I'd watch their game.
It got so bad that at one point the announcing team of Sean McDunnough and some other guy had to talk to Mark "I love USC" May and Lou "I coached Methusaluah" Holtz in the studio.
Puh-leze! I can understand when you run out of commericals doing this, but when you ignore the GAME UNFOLDING ON THE FIELD to talk about other teams from the inferior Big Ten conference while covering a team from the BEST league in the nation, it just really annoys me. I hate the arrogance of ESPN thinking they have to set the sports agenda...
posted by Michael Hickerson at 9/30/2006 05:52:00 PM |
A few weeks ago, Mr Roboto put out a call for help with Hands on Nashville. He promised that if we'd just give up a few hours on a Saturday morning, we could get out, meet some fellow bloggers and do a good thing for our Nashville schools.
This morning, our team met at Percy Priest Elementary School for the workday. The teams did things like spread mulch, paint classrooms, clean baseboards, tear up carpet and organzie a supply cabinet. We had a good sized group and easily finished the tasks set before us in about two and a half hours. I helped tear up some carpet from a couple of lofts in two classrooms (one room was particularily a beast since the carpet had been put down on steps with screws...some came out easily and others, well, they took some elbow great..and a drill with a screwdriver bit) and spread mulch outside. I also got to get out and put some faces with blogs, which is always a pleasure.
All that and I was even home in time to see most of the UT demolition of the Memphis Tigers. How can you go wrong--get to help our schools, get to meet new friends and then be home to see the Vols destroy the Tigers?
I'd like to thank Rex Hammock and Hammock publishing for sponsoring the blogger team as well as Amerigo's who provided a thank you to all the bloggers from Mr Roboto's team.
I know we had some blogger who signed up but couldn't make it. Sorry you missed it. You missed a nice way to spend a Saturday morning. As for all of those of you said you'd be there and didn't make it this morning, please imagine the best Principal Strickland from Back to the Future impression as I say the word, "Slacker!" to you....
posted by Michael Hickerson at 9/30/2006 05:16:00 PM |
Last night, WKRN hosted a blogger get together for all of us to meet Amanda Congdon of Amanda Across America. I have to admit when I first saw the name Amanda Congdon, I have no idea who she was. I felt totally uncool for about ten seconds, but thankfully this is the day and age of the Internet so I could quickly and easily find out more about her.
It was a great meet-up at Wolfies last evening. One thing I like about meeting fellow bloggers in person is that after I do, I can hear their voice when I read their blogs. Another is its kind of fun to walk into a room and figure out who goes with what blog.
I will admit I confused some because I didn't wear any orange yesterday. Sorry about that everyone. I know I tend to wear orange out to meet-ups to easiliy identify myself. I will try to keep that in mind in the future--and no, I won't be changing my blogger ID to Big Pink Michael since, honestly, that sounds a bit too much like an adult cinema star...
Anyway, now that I've gone down that road....
Thank you to WKRN for the hospitality last evening and to Brittney for her gracious hosting. I appreciated it very much.
posted by Michael Hickerson at 9/29/2006 11:16:00 AM |
My good friend Becky had a post earlier this week inspired by the movie Fever Pitch. For those of you who haven't seen the film (it's actually pretty good), it's about Ben Wrightman, a school teacher who is a big fan of the Boston Red Sox. Ben meets Lindsey in the winter when the Sox aren't playing and the two start a romance. Lindsey realizes Ben likes the Sox but has no idea how far his interest goes until spring training and the season starts when the true passion Ben has for his team emerges.
Ben's passion for the Sox pretty much comes down to a term that I call "geeking out." And let's face it--no matter how cool we all are or pretend to be, there is one thing out there in this world that really causes you to just geek out. It can be an interst in custom cars or stamp collecting or a sports team, but we all have that one thing we're passionate about. To the point that if it's brought up in a casual conversation, you have to careful to not suddenly launch into a ten minute monologue on the subject--whether your friends want to hear about it or not.
For me, there are a couple of things that cause me to geek out.
Most of the things that cause me to geek out shouldn't shock any of my long time visitors to the site. Heck, the name of my blog alone should be one clue. And, of course, there's my favorite TV show that returns tonight on SciFi at 8 p.m EST. (Set your VCRs and TiVOs now!)
The thing about geeking out is that it comes from a genuine love of something and the enjoyment we derive from it. And, for the most part, a genuine desire to have another person share or at least understand that passion we have for something. Yes, this can, at times, become an unhealthy thing if it's allowed to go too far and there are people who do that. For example, which I love Star Trek, I've never dressed up like a Klingon or Borg or worn a uniform on a day other than Halloween or around that time of year.
So many times I'm not aware I'm geeking out until it's too late. I had a friend ask me recently to tell them a bit more about Doctor Who, beyond my cursory two sentence summary of the show. Big mistake because ten minutes later I'm just warming up to the subject and the other person is wondering if they can feign death to get out of the conversation.
But there are some people for whom the genuine love can become unhealthy. I met a woman this summer who told me that a friend of hers was dating a guy who wouldn't leave the house on Friday night or spend any time with the friend because he had to watch Battlestar Galactica live. Now, don't get me wrong--I love my Battlestar Galactica, but if the choice is spending time with a woman who is interested in me in a romantic sense and taping Battlestar vs not spending time with her, possibly offending her and seeing the show live, I am going to go with choice a. Now, let me say that I will tape the show and watch it before the weekend is over because that's just me.
I think part of it is all about how we set our priorities.
Back to Fever Pitch, at one point Lindsey has to go to Paris and invites Ben to go along for a romantic weekend. Ben responds that he can't go because the Sox are playing a certain team and he has to be at the games. Lindsey is crushed because in her mind, a romantic weekend in Paris with his girlfriend should take priority over a couple of regular season baseball games.
Which, of course, we, the audience, know it should.
But it's harder to see when we're behaving the same way Ben does in the film. Because our geeking out seem so natural that it's hard to understand why the other person or people in our lives don't get excited about the same things we do.
I know that it's something I have to be aware of--or as I call it, not boring the other party with my long winded stories about great UT victories or the history of Doctor Who from 1963 to today.
Now, if you'll excuse me I have to go count down hours until Doctor Who premieres this evening...
posted by Michael Hickerson at 9/29/2006 07:55:00 AM |
Despite the fact that Amanda Condon couldn't make it in for lunch at the world-famous Mothership BBQ, some of the NiT gang got together there for some lunch and to visit.
Arriving there, I was struck again by how this is the blogger eqivalent of Cheers. It was reinforced moreso this time, being near B who seems to know every blogger in the the greater mid-state area on site. It's as if she's the Norm of the Mothership/blogging world and I'm one of those recurring characters that you'd see in a couple of episodes a year and who'd occcasionally get a line. (You know, the character Paul, who I think was played by Rhea Pearlman's dad if I'm not mistaken)
Anyway, it was a nice visit though Kerry Woo did give me a hard time about his team beating mine a few weeks ago. Yes, but my team doesn't have the circus that is T.O.
Yeah, it sounds hollow even as I type it.
Anyway, if you want to see photographics of the event, Brittney posted a few over at NiT including me in my pink shirt.
Oh and Kat C.....I am not changing my name to Big Pink Michael anytime soon...
But I will be wearing the pink shirt tonight at the meet-up at Wolfies. Anyone else going to be there?
posted by Michael Hickerson at 9/28/2006 02:29:00 PM |
I'm both intrigued and put off by this episode. Curse this show but it's doing just enough to keep me interesting even though on many levels it's really annoying me.
The biggest thing that bugs me is after two weeks, I don't care about any of these characters. They're all walking cliches and cardboard cut outs. The biggest sign of my apathy is that I don't really know their names, instead calling Skeet's character Skeet. With Lost (which this show desparately wants to be), I could name off at least four characters and tell you something more about them beyond their physical appearance or who played them by the time we got this far into the show. And that may be Jericho's big downfall--that while I'm intrigued by the central mystery of what is going on here, the characters aren't worth the time or investment to give the show.
I also find myself wondring how long the series can sustain itself. It's a fascinating concept but how long can we drag this out?
Also, while Lost assumes we're intelligent enough to put pieces together, at least it gives us enough clue to the roadmap so we don't go--huh? I specifically refer to the birds all on the road from last week, where I guess we're left to assume are all they died from radiation poisoning. So if that's true why is blondie heading away from Jericho instead of back toward it when she runs out of gas? And why did she run out of gas? I mean, why would she set out for the airport and not have a full tank? Or at least enough to get there without running out of gas....
Meanwhile, Skeet is going Jack Bauer in town...he can do it all. I am not sure what he did while away, but there had better be one damn good explanation when and if we do get it.
Oh yeah and the love triangle being set up between Skeet, blondie and the teacher..yeah, could that be any more cliched?
But what I did like was the other elements. I do admit I wonder what Hawkins if up to and if he has another agenda? He has way too many answers and seem to know more than he's saying. While some have said the final scene was his reacting in horror to the cities being taken out, I found it far more sinister. Almost as if he were in on the plan and was charting the success of the attacks. The conversations with his wife and family seemed to indicate he has more of a stake in this than we might think. That other chracters aren't picking up on this is kind of annoying.
Also--it appears D.C. hasn't been wiped out..at least not by what we've heard. But how true any of that info is remains to be seen.
Veronica Mars: Welcome Wagon
I suppose I could have been patient and waiting to see the third season-premiere of Veronica Mars on Tuesday night. Yeah, right..that's like putting a guy who has been on a desert island for month in front of the all you can eat buffet and telling him to wait a day or so before he can start eating.
I finally got MSN to cooperate and allow me to see the episode.
And I'm pretty happy with it.
I'll admit that the mystery of the week is fairly routine and there are a few red herrings that are obviously red herrings in the plot. But for what the plot needed, it works well. The mystery is really a backdrop to set things in motion for season three, wrap up things from season two and start the central mystery of the first nine episodes. If you watched season two, this will not be a shocker to you--it's the serial rapist that we heard about when Veronica visited Hearst back in the spring. The rapist strikes again here, though I won't reveal who is the victim this time around.
In a lot of ways, this episode reminded of the start of season four to Buffy--even down to Veronica taking a class on criminology. I loved seeing her beat the record for solving the case and how she does it. Again, trying to not give away too much here for those of you how either are patient or have lives or both. But it's fun and I can see some great conflict coming with the class this season. Just please not have the professor running an top secret government facility and we can avoid that huge Buffy season four mis-step.
Oh and any show that uses the word "frak" in it and pays homage to my current favorite TV show is all good in my book. Loved it....
The only bad part of seeing the epiosde early--I have to wait longer for the next installment.
posted by Michael Hickerson at 9/28/2006 10:22:00 AM |
Following the Titan's loss to Miami on Sunday, a web site calling for the firing of head coach Jeff Fisher has sprung up. In two days, it's generated 2600 hits and they've sold 22 t-shirts that say "Hey Bud, Fire Coach Fisher!"
I'm sure this morning's article in The Tennessean will only drive more traffic to the site. And that's not even including the traffic from when this comes up as a topic of conversation on the various sports talk shows around the city and state.
Firecoachfisher.com is the creation of Titans fans Bryan Griffey and Jonathan Tucker, who launched the site after Sunday's 13-10 loss to Miami.
So, the question I have to ask myself is--should Jeff be fired? Well, for one thing I'm not the owner of the team, so I really have no say. Plus I think it must be difficult to do a job where every Tom. Dick and Harry who has Madden 2007 can play armchair QB on the radio and Net. I mean, every little thing the team does is endlessly picked apart and debated and with good reason--we're not winning so it's all we really have.
"It was kind of done to be humorous, but obviously we would like to see the
team do better,'' said Tucker, 35. "We go to games, we pay for tickets, we are
taxpaying citizens and I guess we feel changes need to be made. Since Jeff
Fisher is the head guy …
"Some people are upset and say we're fair-weathered fans. But we've gotten
some positive feedback, too. Everyone just wants to see the team do
The site, which had more than 1,000 hits by Tuesday evening, also offers
T-shirts displaying the message "Hey Bud, Fire Coach Fisher" in reference to
Titans owner Bud Adams.
"The Saints had the 'Aints with fans wearing the brown bags,'' said
Griffey, 29. "We thought we'd start something like that up with the T-shirts.
I'm not planning on boycotting the games. I plan on going wearing the T-shirt,
and hopefully other people will wear them, too.''
And it's looking kind of bleak that we're going to win any time soon. Unless they move up the Texans game, it could be a long dry spell which will only continue to add fuel to this fire.
That said, I think some changes need to be made. It's clear that whatever the plan is, it's not working. If the answer to your questions about QB is Kerry Collins, you're not asking the right questions. The whole Billy Volek thing was a PR nightmare and heaven knows we're one step away from Pacman doing something stupid off the field and not being called on it (again). The Titans are a team totally out of control and it may be too late for Fisher or anyone there to step in and reassert the discipline this team needs.
I'm not sure firing Fisher is the right answer or not. But I do think wholesale changes need to come sooner rather than later.
And you can tell Fisher feels the heat. Since he got here, he's been one of the most accessible, friendly and media-savy coaches out there. Until this year when you can see and hear the stress wearing on him as the situation devolves and there's no end in sight....
posted by Michael Hickerson at 9/27/2006 02:01:00 PM |
I don't like Terrell Owens. His "me first" attitude makes him the kind of player I never want to see on my team. (Thankfully the Redskins and Titans have never seriously been in the running to sign him). He's been flamboyant and over the top but nothing the man has ever done has ever shocked me.
Reports out of Dallas say that T.O. was rushed to the hospital for an overdose of pain medication he was given after he broke his finger in last Sunday's game with the Redskins. At first, the news was Owens had an allergic reaction to the pain medication. Reports now are that T.O. attempted to harm himself by overdosing on pills.
Thankfully a friend was there who noticed the Owens pill bottle was empty and saw Owens downing two more.
As I read the news, my jaw dropped and I was shocked. Thankfully, it looks as if T.O.'s cries for help have been heard before he could do permanent damage to himself. I hope in the days and weeks to come, T.O. finds the help he needs to deal with whatever demons drove him to this drastic and selfish step.
Also, I pray that something good comes of this story. With a high profile person like T.O. trying this, you can bet this will be a hot topic of conversation for the next few days. And I hope that if there is someone out there contemplating the same thing that this might encourage them to reach out and ask for help.
UPDATE (10:55 p.m.): Later reports indicate T.O. didn't try to harm himself but that it was a misunderstanding. He claims h ehad the rest of the pills somewhere else. From what I hear about Texas law regarding these types of cases, it's likely he wasn't trying to commit suicide since he was released and not kept under observation for 24 hours. I guess we'll see how this continues to develop...
posted by Michael Hickerson at 9/27/2006 01:47:00 PM |
I know the PR department for Veronica Mars is aware of this blog and my undying love for their show...
So, MSN is supposed to have the season premiere of Veronica Mars available to live stream for the next week.
I've now gone to the site on several occasions to try and see the episode...and every time I do, it says loading the video and then defaults to some DVD extra for One Tree Hill. I've tried a number of ways to see if I can get the Veronica Mars episode to run (including sitting through the One Tree Hill extra) and I keep getting nada, zip, zilch, nothing. (OK, not that..but I do get a live streaming episode of 'Til Death...not what I want!)
So, if there is anyone out there from the PR department who can maybe give me an idea of what I need to do to see the episode and, therefore, hype it up for next Tuesday, I'd appreciate the assistance.
Cause seriously--while I could wait, knowing that it's out there and I could see it...driving me a little crazy.
UPDATE (10:52 p.m.): So, finally got it to work. Not sure what I did though I think it has something to do with the planets aligning just right. Great episode and I will comment on it later.
posted by Michael Hickerson at 9/27/2006 01:02:00 PM |
The new William Shatner penned Star Trek novel is out and the Rutherford County library has a copy. I eagerly put my name on the list to reserve it and have been patiently waiting.
I did know from my on-line account that my name is second on the list so I figured I had about a month or so wait.
It's been more than that.
I checked my account the other day to renew some things on-line and looked at my status for that book....and I'm still number two. What in the wide, wide world of sports? I thought to myself and so I looked up the book in the system to see the due date.
Great..it's reported as being "Material has been checked/charged out" which I think is he library's secret code for--someone checked it out and has never returned it.
Man, that sucks. And it was a new book so I bet it was one of the first people who checked it out who lost or ruined it. And they only got one copy so I won't get to read it now.
And that really annoys me. I hate people who abuse the library system by checking stuff out and never returning. Man, I hope there's a special section of hell for them...
posted by Michael Hickerson at 9/27/2006 08:53:00 AM |
Lots of interesting new shows this fall along with the returning favorites (I am counting down days and hours until BSG returns). Here are some thoughts on a few I've sampled in the past week. For those of you new to my TV Round-Ups, there will be SPOILERS for the episodes...so if you taped, TiVOed or DVRed, you have been warned...
This show contains, perhaps, the most iconic image of the new crop of fall shows--that being the little kid standing on his roof, seeing the mushroom cloud from behind the mountains. A nice moment that might have had a bit more impact had we not seen it in every promo, every 20 seconds for the last month and a half.
Jericho starts off with that one moment and then, provides very few answers for the next hour. The sense of isolation, panic and worry the town feels is shared by the viewers, especially when the news arrives that not only was Denver destroyed but so was Atlanta. As chilling as the scene of the mushroom cloud is, the voice mail from the kid's mom who was in Atlanta as the bomb hit...it just shows why old radio will always be far more effective at being scary than TV or movies ever could dream of being. Beyond the big questions of who attacked, why was there an attack and now what (also I have to wonder if anyone in the federal government is still out there and still running the country) there were some other ones that will have to be immediately addressed--such as the escaped prisoners from the prison bus. And that doesn't even get into the whole what was Skeet Ulritch doing for the past few years while he was away from town?
The series has potential and it could be a nice lead-in to Lost on Wednesday nights. The only thing I didn't care for was the ending--it seemed too much like forcing a cliffhanger into the events that were playing out on screen. And instead of having me say--wow, I am intrigued to see where this whole birds dead in the road plot goes, I was thinking, "Yeah, but what about the woman's husband who was supposedly flying back to town? Is he still alive?" That's a far more interesting question in my book.
One thing I love about Heroes is that right out of the gate it acknowledges that its influenced by X-Men comics and Star Trek. It's not saying that it's out to reinvent the wheel, but instead is going to tell stories from a different take on things. And, so far, it's pretty good, though there was some predictable moments in the pilot.
For one thing, they worked too hard to set-up Peter (Milo Ventimiglia) for a fall (literally and figuratively). The scene of his taking the step off the building has been almost as inonic as the mushroom cloud image from Jericho all summer. So, I knew there had to be some twist to it and I figured that somehow the brother who had everything would somehow be part of it. And it turns out that is true--the brother is the one who can fly, not Peter. Does this mean Peter doesn't have powers and isn't special? And if so, what does that do to him? I'm guessing he has to have some way to fit into the show or else they wouldn't spend so much time featuring him as one of the stars of the show. (Unless they're going to pull a Psycho and kill off the big name star before the end of the third reel).
Also, I called early that the mysterious goverement man with glasses would somehow tie into Claire (blonde, healing power cheerleader). When Dad wasn't around and was referred to as coming home that night, I knew where all of that was headed.
But as predictable as those were, there was still a lot to like. The two most intriguging characters are Hiro (teleporter guy) and Nikki (Vegas stripper, where I'm not quite sure what her power is just yet). Hiro is a delight and I could watch an entire show with his exchanges with his buddy about his powers and wanting to be special. His delight at teleporting for the first time was great. And Nikki intrigues me not just becuase it's Ally Larter playing the role but because we are given so little info about her power. We see the consequences of it but not it in action. I am fascinated to see where this all goes.
Of course, there is a lot of that whole Lost, we're all connected but don't know it yet vibe hitting this show. So far, except for Claire's connection to her dad, it all feels natural enough.
So, I am going to hesistantly add this one to the viewing rotation. I say hesitantly not because of the show's quality but because I just am not sure if I trust NBC enough to give it the chance to build an audience that this kind of show will need.
Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip: Cold Open
Dang nabbit, I'm hooked.
If the first episode was good, this one is great.
The pilot set up the various relationships and situations and now we can finally start building on that. And man, did we ever. The first scene with Matt and Danny discussing things is exactly the way to do exposition without it feeling like a huge info-dump of information. They reminded of us of the various plot and players in the situation and then started putting those into motion. I have to admit I loved every second of the show and was stunned at how quickly the hour went by. And now I'm eager for more...
Yep, I'm hooked.
One choice the show made that I liked was not showing us the controversial sketch. I think it's a great idea since no matter what it is, it will fall short of audience expectations. I loved the cold opening to the show and the little jabs at SNL. Loved the homage to The Mary Tyler Moore Show. I pretty enjoy enjoyed the entire hour of this show from start to finish and I think we've got a real winner on our hands here. As I said before--I'm hooked.
posted by Michael Hickerson at 9/26/2006 07:47:00 AM |
Overall, a pretty good weekend. Two of my three teams won over the weekend, blowing out their respective opponents (though if you can't blow out Marshall and the Texans you are in trouble). The Titans from what I got to see of them looked good but I am not convinced in any way that Kerry Collins is the solution. Honestly, he seems to lose more games for us than he wins and he seems to make huge mistakes in clutch situations. There's a reason he was on the free agent market when the Titans got him. Maybe he's got a huge upside, but I think the downside is also pretty steep as well.
Now, did anyone else think when CBS cut to Jeff Fisher's reaction to the block in the back that negated Adam Jones' punt return yesterday that Fisher was saying, "Way to go, buddy! That could cost me my job!" You could just see the frustration on his face and that feeling that he was doomed.
I didn't get to see much of the Titans game because I decided to visit the Frist yesterday and take in the exhibit on Egypt. I have to admit, I'm fascinated by the history of Egypt and would love to someday get over there and see the pyramids in person. But until then, exhibits like this one will tide me over and serve as a really great appetizer.
The exhibit itself is fascinating. I could have spent hours just looking around every nook and cranny of the pieces on display. There are some that are not under glass that you could reach out and touch, were it not for signs everywhere asking you not to. So, I didn't...though I think it'd be cool to touch and feel the carvings in the stones.
The tour is self-guided with an audio box. You punch in a code and then the tour plays for you, filling you in about what you're seeing and pointing out things about it. There is a tour for adults and one for kids. I'll admit--I listened to both the adult and the kids tours when I could. At times they covered some of the same ground, but each one had unique perspectives and insights as well. This lead to what I found the most fascinating part--a recreation of an Egyptian tomb. The tour guided you around, letting you know what the drawings on the wall meant and putting that in the context. The best part was you could pause or rewind the recording at any time so you could spend time examining everything and make sure you on the right part of the recording to understand what you were seeing. It's a great system and just one of those wonders of technology that constantly amaze me.
The whole tour took about a little under two hours. It's only here in Nashville a few more weeks and if you've been sitting there wondering if it's worth the price tag, let me tell you it is. Get on out and see it quickly before it closes up shop in early October. You'll regret missing it.
posted by Michael Hickerson at 9/25/2006 10:34:00 AM |
So, the blogsphere favorite the Mothership BBQ had a post the other day about a new side added to their menu--fried apples.
Now, I have to admit I love fried apples. And so I made plans to immediately (well, within the next day or so) head up there for some fried apples...oh yeah and some BBQ as well.
So, I went today. I arrived and was greeted by name by Dr Funkenweiser The Mothership BBQ is for bloggers what Cheers was for Norm--where everybody knows your name. Only instead of beer, we have smoked meat. (Really I think it's a pretty good trade-off)
As I walked in, I scanned the menu, looking for the apples. And didn't see them.
Awwwwwwww, man, I thought to myself. They don't have them or they ran out or didn't make them today.
I haven't been this disappointed since UT lost to Florida last weekend.
So, I get up and place my order, adding hopefully, "You don't have any apples do you?"
Dr F looks at me funny (I'm used to this since most people tend to look at me funny from time to time) and goes, "Yes, I do."
I swear, I must have looked like I'd won the lottery because I started grinning like a fool. I added them as a side and happily awaited my meal.
So, to make a long story short--fried apples at Mothership BBQ are all good.
Go by, try them for yourself.
You won't regret it.
posted by Michael Hickerson at 9/23/2006 10:50:00 PM |
The Office: Gay Witch Hunt
Thanks to my good friend AG for her constant plugging of how good this show is. Were it not for her, I must not have tried the show again and stuck with it.
I will admit I was worried a fin might be coming into view last year when Jim and Pam kissed in the season finale. But after seeing the season premiere, I think reports of a shark fin are vastly exaggerated.
Because while all the press and buzz this summer was about Jim and Pam, that's just one part of what makes the show so funny. And all those elements were here. I tend not to laugh out loud too much when watching something by myself, but I did that at least five times here. Honestly, the sight of Dwight crying because Jim was gone was classic, as was the gay-dar that Jim sends him at episode's end. Meanwhile, Michael has once again stuck his foot in his mouth and is trying to get out of it. He's almost like George Constanza in a way with how far he'll go to get out of the absurd situation he's placed himself in. He wants to appear cool and composed and an all around good guy when nothing is farther from the truth. The scene where Oscar tells him he's "a small man" was wonderful, esp. the look on Michael's face as he realizes the whole office sees through his facade. Classic.
As for the whole Jim and Pam thing--I like how it's being handled. I like that they're not together and that Pam is on her own now. It should be interesting to see how this develops and how long Jim stays away.
And the office equipment in Jello call back to the first episode...priceless.
Oh and check out the deleted scenes over at NBC.com. As well as producer Greg Daniel's live blog from right after the show aired.
Survivor: Cook Islands.
So, the great social experiment is in its second week and I've learned...well, nothing really. That said, it was a fairly non-eventful episode until the final 15 or so minutes when the Hispanic tribe threw the challenge in order oust Billy. I love that Jeff Probst called them on it and it made for an interesting tribal council.
And you know you're into good reality TV when you can get a reaction out of Jeff "I am the snark man" Probst. Billy's confesion that he was in love with Candice, that it was love at first sight and she loved him too....that was priceless. Of course, it's kind of sad because I had to go to CBS's web site to figure out which of the women Candice was....it's still early and we're only seeing a few personalities come to the front.
So I wonder--was this real or a calculation to stay in the game? And did the appearning insane seal Billy's fate? I think up to that point the two women in his tribe might have voted out Ozzy for being a manipulative player and wanting to dump that threat early. But I think the crazy "I love Candice" thing made the others realize how insane Billy really is...
posted by Michael Hickerson at 9/22/2006 08:07:00 AM |
Reading the coverage over the controversy of filming Thong Girl 3 in Gallatin makes me wonder just one thing: how in the world did I miss Thong Girl 1 and 2?
posted by Michael Hickerson at 9/21/2006 02:37:00 PM |
The Titans finalized their divorce with Billy Volek Tuesday afternoon, trading him to San Diego for a sixth-round pick, possibly as high as fifth should Volek get some playing time as a Charger.
A month of soap opera seemed to be coming to an end--well, at least until Volek lobbed a few parting shots to the Tenneseean and then coach Jeff Fisher responded.
As with any divorced there are three sides--Volek's side, Fisher's side and somewhere in the middle, the truth of what actually happened. Alas, to those of us sitting on the outside, disecting every move and nuance of this on-going saga, we will never truely know what really happened.
Did Volek get a raw deal? Probably so.
Was he given the change to earn the starting job and failed to do it? Probably.
That's the the thing with these things--both sides are at fault, though neither wants to admit it.
Of course, Volek has an easier task ahead of him. He joins a team that is 2-0, playing superbly and seems to be on the right track to the playoffs.
Here in Music City, the rallying cry is "Wait until we play the Texans. We're fairly sure they suck worse that we do."
So, we could have two wins to end the year...two wins in what was to be a rebuilding. Yeah, it's pretty bleak and depressing to contemplate.
And I hate to say it, but unless thing drastically improve or we at least see some evidence they are, Fisher may be gone at year's end. The man is amazingly loyal to his players and coaches, possibly to the point that it will end his tenure here as the coach of the Titans. His loyalty to Norm Chow is good, but the question I have to ask is, is that system working? I feel that as a fan I've been patient with the system, seeing it last year and the start of this year. And I just feel like we're regressing instead of progressing.
Putting aside the bitterness of the San Diego game and how poorly we played there, I look at this team and I see no offensive spark, nothing to rally around or get excited about it. And the thing is--Music City could accept a Bad News Bears type of team for a year or two if we felt like there was some effort being given or that there was hope of improvement. I will say this--there has been more positive comment about Vandy's season this year than the Titans. Why you ask? Because despite losing all their games, you don't feel like Vandy is mailing it in or not trying. As much as I hate to compliment Vandy on anything, their games have shown a grit, resilency and determination from the team that, quite frankly, I didn't expect.
Maybe the Titans need to go over and study some of that pride and work ethic and team unity that Vandy has. I think they could learn a thing or two.
That said, unless Fisher rights the ship and soon, either he or Floyd Reese (or both) will be gone at season's end.
posted by Michael Hickerson at 9/21/2006 09:43:00 AM |
Watching football the other day on FOX, a preview for the FOX Sunday "comedy" The War at Home came on. In the commercial, the daughter is trying out to do something that apparently is not within her list of strengths and the father comments, "She has as much change of doing that as we do of finding Osama Bin Laden."
And that stopped and gave me pause. When did the hunt for Osama go from something serious to the punch line on a lame FOX sit-com?
I understand that part of comedy and satire is to take away the power of some things. I mean, look at what South Park has done for Sadaam Hussein.
That said, I think what bothered me most was that the hunt for Osama has lost its urgency and relevance and become nothing more than a lame punchline to a bad joke.
After 9/11, I had this vision of John Wayne's Ethan Edwards from The Searchers heading over to the Middle East to hunt down Bin Laden. In The Searchers, John Wayne and Jeffrey Hunter spend five years on an obsessive quest to find the kidnapped niece and rescue her from the Comanche Indians who took her after slaughtering her entire family. Ethan Edwards is intense and unrelenting in his quest and never loses sight of his goal, which pays off when he finally rescues Debby (the niece) and brings her back home in the final reel.
Of course, I realize that reality can't be like a movie with a beginning, middle and end, but you know I'd still love to feel that maybe, just maybe there might be a happy ending to the story of finding Bin Laden. And by happy ending, I mean, seeing the man stand trial for his crimes.
What frustrates me most about the war in the Middle East is that we seem to be losing track of just what the goal was or should be. On 9/11, I wanted to see Bin Laden brought to justice and be made to answer for the crimes he has committed against this country, our people and the world as a whole. But as day after day goes by and you get the feeling that search to find him may never end and that it seems that this overall objective has largely been forgotten, it's hard not to get frustrated.
posted by Michael Hickerson at 9/20/2006 11:47:00 AM |
I'm a big UT fan and while I've griped (recently even) about what I think are bad calls and even gone so far as to "booooooooo!" officials at the stadium, I understand that there is a point where you have to let go and move on.
For example, while I'm still irritated about the penalty that reversed a defensive touchdown for the Vols in Saturday's loss to Florida, at no point did I think, "You know I should find out his name, address and phone number of the official, call him up and make death threats."
But there are some fans out there who I guess have nothing better to do or lost a lot of money on the game who will do just that. For example, the people calling up replay official Gordon Riese about his "missed call" on replay in the Oklahoma vs Oregon game. The call that was not overtuned led to Oregon coming from behind to win the game by one point.
Which, I realize if you're an Oklahoma fan, it's not fair and is a bad thing. But honestly is it worth making a grown man so jittery and nuerotic that he can't sleep and has to have his wife who is a nurse check his blood pressure every few hours? And to call up the man and make death theats? Honestly, I don't understand what wiring goes loose in your head that makes anyone think this kind of behavoir is in any way acceptable.
Are we missing the whole concept of what it means to be good sports, to show dignity and class in both winning and losing?
I do admit I was amused that Oklahoma tried to get the results of the game thrown out. I filed that one under the "yeah, as if" category.
Here's the hard reality--if Oklahoma had played a better game and made plays down the stretch like they should have, they would have won the game. Just like if UT had made some plays and not abandoned the game plan that was working for the first two and a half quarters on offense, they might have got another touchdown or field goal Saturday night to beat the Gators. But it didn't happen and while it's terribly disappointing and frustrating, you have to let it go and move on.
You can't play shouda, woulda, coulda too much. Otherwise, I"d be married to Sarah Michelle Gellar and living on my island somewhere in the South Pacific...
posted by Michael Hickerson at 9/19/2006 02:04:00 PM |
Two lucky people will get a free blog re-design.
Details on the contest are here.
posted by Michael Hickerson at 9/19/2006 12:09:00 PM |
The secret connection between Lost and Gilligan's Island revealed.
posted by Michael Hickerson at 9/19/2006 11:44:00 AM |
I saw the pilot for Studio 60 a couple of weeks ago. (God bless the Internet).
Now, I have to confess that while I didn't ever get into West Wing, I did enjoy Sports Night back in the day. So, I have to admit I was curious to see what Aaron Sorkin would do when he was unleashed back into the world of a show within a show.
So far, I have to admit that Studio 60 has my attention. Yes, it's a bit derivative of Sports Night in that you've got the same kind of dynamic to the central trio of the show. But the characters are all so well drawn and all speak the way I wish I could on any given day (so intelligent, witty and always knowing the exact reference to pull at the exact moment...man, it must be nice to be a TV character) that I can forgive that, for now. It will be interesting to see where Sorkin takes this trio of characters (and the rest of the supporting cast, who I hope we'll get to see more of in the weeks to come) in the next few episodes.
The real surprise of this one is Matthew Perry. I liked Friends and Perry was great in it as Chandler. The problem has been that Perry's chosen movie roles that are pretty much basically channeling Chandler instead of actually stretching his acting muscles...at least until here. For Perry to take over the show the way he did was great and I never thought I'd say that the acting likes of those around him would all be having to keep up with his performance.
As a random aside, watching Studio 60, a thought struck me . I was flipping around the dial a few weeks ago and came across a repeat of Wings. As I look at the TV and entertainment world landscape, it's hard to believe that of all the comedies from the 90s it would be the actors from Wings who are all rising to such prominence and acclaim these days. Think about it--we have Steven Weber here, Tim Daly, Tony Shaloub has won three Emmys as Monk and Thomas Hayden Church was up for an Oscar a few years ago. Not bad for a show that was, essentially Cheers at an airport. Who'd've thought Wings would produce such acting talent?
posted by Michael Hickerson at 9/19/2006 08:17:00 AM |
This weekend, we were treated to not one but two examples of the digitally enhanced Star Trek. In Nashville, we got "Miri" and "Balance of Terror."
After spending weeks ranting about how the effects should not be changed, I did sit down to watch with an open mind.
And, I've got to admit the digital make-over is hit or miss. The hits are that the colors look great and this may be the best the original series has ever looked. And while there are some things I did find pleasing effects wise--the Earth-like planet in "Miri" being one of them, overall I didn't see the upgrades as really all that huge an upgrade. For one thing, the Enterprise still feels like it has a complete lack of weight and realism to it that was there from the model shots. Also, there are times when the shadows hide too much of the ship, frustrating me because the ship itself is one of my favorite ships in science-fiction.
Also, they've updated the opening theme music. It's been redone and I don't know--it just lack the power and presence the original theme music had. It doesn't feel as dramatic and sweeping.
That said, the part that is good is the stories are in tact. And let's face it--what makes Star Trek so iconic are the superb stories. Even a weaker installment like "Miri" has some good things to recommend about it and you can't go wrong with "Balance of Terror" an episode that is just outside my top ten from a few weeks ago.
So far, the HD Star Trek gets my reluctant seal of approval and I will keep watching. Because, well, it's Star Trek.
Labels: Star Trek
posted by Michael Hickerson at 9/18/2006 02:10:00 PM |
So, my teams went a combined 0-3 this weekend. Yeah, I'm really, really depressed about this.
At least there's always next week to bounce back...well, unless you're the Titans cause, well, they suck outloud. I swear if you watched closely on the San Diego sidelines you could see Billy Volek begging them to take him so he wouldn't have to ride on the plane back to Nashville.
And the Redskins are 0-2 and already have a huge uphill battle to even think of making the playoffs now...
My dreams of the Redskins vs Titans Super Bowl are dwindling.
The good news is--the Redskins will win at least one game in the next few weeks becuase they play the Titans. Did I mention the Titans suck out loud yet?
posted by Michael Hickerson at 9/18/2006 10:10:00 AM |
Earlier today I told someone that it was a big rival weekend for my teams--well, not the Titans who are playing San Diego tomorrow and will probably get slaughtered. I hate to be down on them, but they always phone in it on west coast games....it's something about crossing the Rocky Mountains that seems to mess with their heads.
Anyway, I said that it was Tennessee vs Florida and Washington vs Dallas..and if I had to choose only one win, I wanted Tennessee to win. I could handle Washington losing to Dallas if the Vols could win the big Florida game.
Well, that hasn't happened so the Redskins had better beat the Cowboys tomorrow night or else I am gonna be really depressed...
posted by Michael Hickerson at 9/16/2006 10:50:00 PM |
To the refs of the UT vs Florida game--thanks for the really bad call that reversed our defensive touchdown. That call was complete and utter crap...I hope the check from Urban Myer clears the bank and you can live with yourselves....Tennessee should have won that one 27-21. But thanks, refs for taking the game out of the players hands and putting it in yours. Good job!
Yes, I'm bitter that we lost 21-20.
I was happy to see Notre Dame get hammered by Michigan today. At least we can stop hearing about how great the Irish are.
I think all of today's games showed one thing--the best college football in the land is SEC. No if's, and's or but's.
posted by Michael Hickerson at 9/16/2006 10:41:00 PM |
The first episode of Survivor: Cook Islands aired last night. Survivor has come under fire the past three weeks ever since CBS announced that for the first time, the teams would be divided along racial lines.
I tuned in becuase I wondered how the new cast would react to this news, but we didn't get to see it. The participants in the reality contest were told the night before the game began.
So, I tuned in and watched it. And my impression coming away--it was a first episode of Survivor. Nothing more, nothing less. I don't think it's going to be some grand social experiment as snarky host Jeff Probst said it was. I think it's a stunt to get some ratings for the show in what will prove to be a comptetive Thursday night time slot. The controversy isn't some grand social experiment designed to teach all of us some deep lessons about the racial divides in our nation and world, but is instead designed to get eyeballs on screen so we can charge advertisers more.
The thing with any first epiosde of Survivor is that you're presented with a large group of people and trying to figure out who is who can take a few minutes. Consider they they're editing down three days of round the clock footage on four groups of people and you've got a lot of stuff that is going to be on the editing room floor. Also, let's face it--this is TV and they want a storyline to it so anyone who steps out early as interesting or a "character" will get more screen time than others. Also, in typical Survivor tradition we spent the last fifteen or so minutes focused on the tribe that lost the immunity challenge as the strategies of the game play out on screen.
I did find Robert Bianco of USA Today's editorial on the episode interesting.
Bianco has some interesting points, including the fact that this twist won't last long (I can only imagine having five camera crews out there must be exhausting--four for the teams, one for "Exile Island.") I would bet this twist won't make it beyond the fourth episode simply for the logistical issues of having to film five groups 24/7.
Perhaps we should be happy that CBS thinks segregation is such a long-gone relic, it can be harmlessly revived as a stunt for a fading game show.
And make no mistake: Introducing four ethnic-centered teams on Thursday's Survivor premiere was a publicity stunt of the rankest and most obvious kind. This divisive trick has nothing to do with Jeff Probst's opening promise of a "social experiment" and all to do with diminished ratings and buzz.
Exactly what kind of experiment could this be? The four groups — labeled by the show as African-American, Asian-American, Caucasian and Latino — weren't just sent to different teams, they were sent to different islands. Outside of the brief challenge (a race the Asian-Americans won and the African-Americans lost), the teams didn't even interact.
What are we supposed to learn from that: What life would be like if we returned to the days when CBS had a hit with Amos & Andy? No thanks.
Worse yet, the show actually invited us to judge these players on an ethnic basis. When Cecilia said she wants to prove that Latinos both "work hard" and "play hard," or Stephannie said the African-Americans "all feel the pressure to represent," they took on far too much pressure and gave themselves far too much importance. Heaven forbid we should look at the way a person behaves on a reality show and assume we're learning something about an entire race.
Yet the ridiculous and oddly comforting thing about the premiere is that for the most part, if you closed your eyes and ignored the random references to ethnicity, you would never have known there was anything special about this Survivor. There were the same instant friendships and enmities; the same complaints about players who are odd or lazy or overly familiar; the same tired discussions of strategy. And when it came to voting someone out, it once again boiled down to women vs. men.
Unfortunately, that can't salvage a trick that is offensive on its face. Survior has embraced the very essence of discrimination: treating people not as individuals but as members of a ethnically defined group. And the fact that Survivor finally, for the first time, has enough members of those groups to make discrimination viable is hardly a defense.
Of course, the twist won't be with us for long. Sooner rather than later, the tribes will merge and the ethnic opening will be forgotten. Which will allow many of us to forget about Survivor entirely.
And that will be a happy day.
And Bianco also didn't acknowledge that one of the survivor pointed out that racial issues didn't matter that much because out in the wild trying to survive, everybody was a human being.
posted by Michael Hickerson at 9/15/2006 07:28:00 AM |
TV's Kirsten Bell in the Princess Leia costume from Return of the Jedi. All I can say is--this alone will make Fanboys worth the price of admission....
If you are like me and have fond memories of the Princess Liea metal bikini, you can waste hours of your life here.
posted by Michael Hickerson at 9/14/2006 08:40:00 AM |
Remember a few months ago when Tom Cruise and the rest of the Scientology community got a bee in their bonnet about that South Park episode that dared to satirize their "religion"?
Well, brace yourselves because I'll bet F/X's Nip/Tuck will be the next show to come under fire. Last night's episode introduced a plotline in which Kimber introduces Matt to the world of Scientology. And this being Nip/Tuck, it's probably only a matter of time until things there go horribly, horribly wrong....
Of course, I wonder if Tom Cruise will lead a charge against Nip/Tuck? Of course, he does't have a movie coming out right now so I guess he can't use his huge star power to threaten to have ads pulled from the show....
posted by Michael Hickerson at 9/13/2006 07:32:00 AM |
On this morning's broadcast on 104.5 the Zone, Titan's color analyst and sports broadcaster Frank Wycheck stated that Tony Joiner's comments about feasting on the Vols were "no big deal."
Yeah, see this is why I am constantly flipping away from 104.5 in the morning.
Frank has no clue. He doesn't get that any trash talking by either side is a huge deal because this is a huge game this weekend. But then again, Frank shows nothing but contempt for UT every chance he gets, so for him to downplay the importance of this game is not unexpected. But you'd think maybe, just maybe he could pretend like he cares about something other than ACC sports, Philly teams and how crappy the Titans are going to be this year....
posted by Michael Hickerson at 9/13/2006 07:29:00 AM |
So Florida's defense is proud they shut down two cream-puff teams to open the season and now their players have run to the Florida media to trumpet how great they are.
Hear the wit and wisdom of safety Tony Joiner.
"That really is where we want to get," Joiner said. "We really want to get into somebody else and take their cheese. Make a sandwich in the kitchen. Ham and cheese with a little turkey, mustard and mayonnaise."Ah, trash talking by Florida. Bring it on, because come Saturday you're going to see what it's like to play a real team and not some second rate cream-puff you brought into pad your stats.
In otherwords, Florida's defense plans to make itself at home in the hostile surroundings in Knoxville this weekend as they take on the Tennessee Volunteers.
Joiner, selected as Florida's MVP on defense by the Gators coaches for the second consecutive week, proclaimed Florida was the best defensive unit in the nation Monday.
"We feel we really do have the best defense in the nation," Joiner said after Saturday's 42-0 win against Central Florida,. "That's how we feel, that's how we are going to play and that's what we're going to look forward to doing week in and week out, shut a team out."
And if you want to see a real defense, just look on the other side of the ball at the team clad in orange...
GO BIG ORANGE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
posted by Michael Hickerson at 9/12/2006 04:19:00 PM |
I've often wondered just how the odds makers sit down and figure out the points spread for a football game. I'm sure a large part of the equation is desinged to be a way to allow them to make money, but beyond that just how do they figure these things out? I know there must be some reasoning to it, but it always baffles me.
This is one reason I don't gamble on sports. Honestly, I think rolling down the window and tossing cash out as I drove down I-24 would be just as useful and probably accomplish about the same thing. The only difference is the rolling down the window thing would have the pain of losing the money over faster and no guys named Guido would come break my kneecaps if I didn't pay up.
I was looking at the odds for this weekend and I see the Vols are underdogs by close to four points. (It's currently three and a half, but this could change by week's end). Interesting in that UT has played one quality opponent and one opponent that I think is better than we gave them credit for while Florida has played...well, two creampuffs. Florida has run up points and yards against two lower-tier teams while the Vols, at least, have played a team that was in the top ten at the time. But yet, we're underdogs on our home turf. I find it interesting to think about as we lead up to the game and I wonder if the game were later in the year when we knew a bit more about both teams based on playing in the SEC (best conference in the land) if the odds might not be a bit different.
All I know is, I think the underdog role suits UT. It's not quite as severe as it was in 2001 when no one gave us a chance to go Gainesville and win, but the coaching staff can use this as a motivating factor to get the team up for the game. Hopefully the defense that played Cal will show up to take on Florida as well as the running game from that game. I'll take the passing game from Air Force against Florida. If all that happens, it could be another great win for the Vols and the continued reclaiming of the home field advantage of Rocky Top.
posted by Michael Hickerson at 9/12/2006 02:20:00 PM |
Tom Cruise is in attendance at tonight's Washington vs Minnesota game, currently showing on ESPN. I know this because ESPN in their typical fashion had to devote time to discussing this with Jamie Foxx in the booth.
They did this while the Redskins were doing simple things like driving the field and scoring a touchdown. It sort of went like this:
Mike Tirrico: So, Jamie, you starred with Tom Cruise in a movie once. What's he like?
Jamie: Oh, Tom is...
Tirrico: Sorry to interrupt. It appears Clinton Portis has a touchdown. Now back to discussing Tom Cruise.
Dear heavens, must Tom Cruise be everywhere these days? Can't I tune into an NFL football game and not hear about Mr. Scientology?!? Could we maybe discuss the game that is unfolding on our screens instead of Tom and Katie?!?
posted by Michael Hickerson at 9/11/2006 07:50:00 PM |
I'm sure my story of September 11th is similiar to a lot of people out there. I woke up early that Tuesday morning to go to my weekly men's prayer breakfast. It was a smaller group that morning and after we'd discussed our study for the week and prayed, I headed out to Oak Ridge to work. I got in a bit early and as I was listening to the radio, I heard a report of a plane crashing into a building.
Oh great, I thought, remembering a plane crashing into a building in Florida a few weeks before, another idiot who can't pilot a plane. I sighed heavily and headed into work. I'd arrived earlier than usual and was kind of looking forward to the quiet of the morning to catch up on some things, answer a few e-mails and, in general, ease into the day.
I went in, fired up the Internet and started into my daily task. About five minutes later, my co-worker Steve came in and said, "Hey did you hear plane crashed into the World Trade Center?"
"I heard a plane crashed but details were sketchy when I was getting out of my car," I said.
"This could be a big deal," he said.
Now, I'll admit I took this with a grain of salt. To Steve everything was a potential big deal. I decided to see what was going on and tried to fire up a news service site. It was slow. I tried another--same effect. I wondered if our network was down but found Google's main page with no problem. I decided to head to the breakroom where we had satellite TV to see what was going on.
I walked in to find several other co-workers gathered around the set.
"What's going on?" I asked, seeing the image of smoke coming out of the first tower for the first time.
"A plane hit the World Trade Center," someone said.
I stood there, watching the image, reading the crawl and hearing the announcers, hoping someone would make sense of all this. Then, the second plane hit.
I felt weak in the knees and stunned. What the hell is going on here? I wondered to myself. As the second plane hit, there was a collective gasp in the room and a few explatives were let loose.
I stood there, watching in numb horror. And it got worse. My father worked at the Pentagon at the time and reports came in of something going on at the Pentagon. I heard the phrase "fire fights" used and had this image of a running battle taking place in the corridors of the Pentagon. Now, my dad's job didn't require him to be at the Pentagon every day--sometimes they had off-site training or seminars. I desparately tried to recall if my dad was off-site that day. Some part of me kept saying, "Of course he is....don't panic."
Panic won. As I stood there, fear gripped me. I decided I'd calmly walk to my office, shut the door and try to call him. Once he picked up his cell phone at some off-site location, I'd be OK...it'd all be OK.
I took two calm steps out of the room and then ran down the hall to my office. I'm pretty sure had the NFL been timing me that day, I'd have been highly drafted for my time for my time running the four-forty. I sat in my chair, drew in a deep breath and dialed the number.
It rang again.
A third time.
Dammit, I willed him, pick up the damn phone. Fourth ring and voice mail.
I left a message, trying to sound calm. "Hey Dad, just seeing if you're OK. Call me as soon as you get this, please."
I hung up, panic threatening to consume me. I took a deep breath and decided to call my mom. She was in Nashville at the time since my sister was recovering from an illness and she was helping her out. Mom would know where he was and tell me he was off-site that day. I called my sister's house, wondering if I'd wake anyone up.
My mom answered and right away I knew my answer. Yes, my dad was in the Pentagon and no, we hadn't heard from him. I promised to call as soon as I heard and vice versa. I then went down to watch more coverage from the news, since work was the last thing on my mind at this point.
The room was fuller now of people, watching the story unfold. What I recall was the sense of panic in the news reports of those first few hours--I recall there were rumors of a plane flying up the Potomac River that might have to be shot down and various other attacks. I watched as air traffic was shut down and we slowly began to make sense of what was going on. It seemed like one of those bad action movies gone horribly wrong and I kept thinking, "This can't he happening. Not to America. This happens other places in the world but not here."
As the media began to talk about other possible targets, I realized I worked fairly close to the Oak Ridge nuclear plant. As did everyone else I worked with. After an hour or so, the decision was made that we could go home if we wanted to since it didn't seem like anyone would get any work done that day. Also, there was the fear the plant might be attacked. I decided to go home and wait for news from my dad. I was in a panic though trying not to let it show....I don't think I was very successful.
I was driving home when I got a call on my cell phone. It was from my sister's house. Oh no, I thought..it's bad news. I pulled over into the Walgreens on Middlebrook Pike and shakily answered the phone. The good news was my father was alive and was out of the Pentagon. He'd had to have someone from his office call to tell us he was alive and well but he couldn't get to or use a phone since the circuits were jammed. And he'd left his cell phone at home that day and that is why it would do no good to call him on it.
I cried in the Walgreens parking lot--tears of relief and joy that my dad was alive and tears of anger at what was happening.
My father was one of the last out and the first back in the Pentagon on September 11th. He helped get the communications systems back up so the various parties could talk about what was going on and how to begin to respond to this madness.
During my drive home, I was listening to NewsTalk 99 and I remember hearing Hallorin Hill talk about the towers collapsing. The horror in his voice came through the air waves.
I got home and watched the same footage over and over again. Eventually, I got so worn out of dealing with it, I went to the Y and worked out watching the same footage on TV screens there. I had a respite while I swam and then I went home to see it again and again. As I drove around, I remember thinking I'd better fill up my car right then before gas prices rose to three dollars a gallon or more. And I recall the sports talk shows not even discussing sports that day, but the horror that we'd expereinced. This was a big deal since it was UT vs Florida week. When I'd woke up that morning, my biggest worry was could we go to Gainseville and beat the Gators. Suddenly that seemed less important to me..in fact, it seemed rather trivial.
I did speak to my dad on the phone later that evening. It was good to hear his voice, though he sounded exhausted.
And as I spoke, I realized I was blessed. I'd spent two or three hours in panicked worry for my dad, wondering if he was alive. I know there were families that day who spent days, weeks or even months waiting, hoping for a call with good news that never came. Even scarier was the thought that there were families with family members or friends on those planes who knew right away their loved ones weren't come home.
In the days and weeks to come, I saw out nation rally together in a way I haven't often seen. 9/11 wasn't an event to use as political leverage becuase it happened to us all. Sadly, it seems as if politicans have slowly turned it from a moment of unity in our nation to a way to get votes or promote an agenda.
But I'll never forget that day. And I hope and pray that our nation never has to experience anything like that ever again.
posted by Michael Hickerson at 9/11/2006 07:22:00 AM |
Five years ago today, 2,996 people woke up and began what probably started out as a just an average, ordinary day. Little did any of those people know (or any of the rest of us for that matter) know that before the day was over, the world would be shattered and changed in ways that we are still coming to grips with now.
2,996 people died as a result of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001.
Today, I want to honor the memory of one of those victims, Rodney Dickens.
Rodney was 11 years old and an honor student. He'd won a competition and was travelling to attend a national marine sanctuary program.
I can imagine that being 11, Rodney was probably pretty excited about travelling on a plane. And probably a little nervous as well since from what I can gather, he was travelling alone that day. I imagine he probably didn't sleep much the night before, being excited about the plane ride, the adventure he was going on and the thrill of winning this compeition. I feel certain his mother, LaShawn, accompanied him to the gate and saw him off on the plane. I wonder if his two brothers and two sisters were with him as well or if they were in school that morning.
But the point of this project is to celebrate the life of Rodney Dickens. Rodney sounds a lot like your typical 11-year old kid. He liked Pokemon, computer game and playing with his siblings.
Over at legacy.com, there are many pages of tributes to Rodney and the many other victims of 9/11. One that jumped out at me in reading the many posts was this one from Chief Warrant Office Rob Wallace.
Dear Dickens Family, My name is Chief Warrant Officer Rob Wallace, you may remember me as Staff Sergeant Wallace, US Marines Corps. I was the escort for your family at the memorial service in DC. I want you to know that I think of you all often as well as Rodney. I have told my kids of what I can remeber about that day and also told them about Rodney. Although I did not get a chance to meet him, I got to know him through you all and that had profound impact on my life as a father. You were all such wonderful people. We have your entire family in our prayers often. I would love to keep in touch if possible. All my love, Rob Wallace.In honor of all the victims of 9/11 a quilt has been created. The quilt will be exhibited in Staten Island, NY Sept. 9-11 and in Radnor, PA Sept. 15-17. I recommend you surf over and look at it, not only the part that focus on Rodney, but also that of all of the victims.
Today as we all remember the horrible events of 9/11, I ask that you take a moment to think about Rodney Dickens. To Rodney's family and friends, I offer my profound condolences on your loss and my thoughts and prayers will be with you today. I cannot imagine the loss you must have felt that day and still continue to feel. I hope that this blog post offers some comfort to you and a promise that Rodney will never be forgotten.
posted by Michael Hickerson at 9/11/2006 12:01:00 AM |
Thanks to a buddy at church, I was able to take in the UT vs Air Force game yesterday.
It was a good game. And what you have to remember here is that in my world a good game means any one where UT wins. It did look kind of dicey there for a while, esp. in the later stages of the second half. I can't believe we had to stop Air Force on a two-point conversion and then recover the on-side kick in order to win the game. But a win is a win is a win, I say.
And I doubt we'll face an option attack like Air Force employed from any other team this year.
Now, I can turn my attention and hatred to the most hated of all rivals for UT (well, outside of Bama and Georgia), the University of Florida. I am hopeful that the way the defense played this week will be a motivating factor for the Vols as we prepared to welcome the Gators to Knoxville this week. Hopefully Neyland Stadium will be rocking and the team that played Cal last week will show up and just throttle Florida. And if we get up 35-0, that Phil just keeps the pedal to the metal and hammer them and hammer them hard.
Above is a picture of me and Barry from Inn of the Last Home in our seats at Neyland Stadium. It's been a while since we took in a UT game together. We took in a Titans pre-season game last year, but it was no where near as entertaining as this game. Plus we were two rows up from the dance team and cheerleaders. So there was that visual distraction for me in between plays. Barry claims one of the cheerleaders was checking me out...though I'm didn't see it.
Driving over from Nashville yesterday, it was great to see all the cars on the road with UT swag. And then to be on campus for game day was just so much fun. Walking around, taking in the sights and sounds.
About the only negative of the experience was being right behind this couple who definitely needed to consider leaving the game and getting their own room. Now, I've been to games with dates before and while I can see kissing for a touchdown or a big play, I'm not sure kissing every time the refs set the ball is entirely needed. And that was really the more PG parts of these two who were massaging each other, grinding up against each other, etc. I was really hopeful when the Vols were driving for a late touchdown with Ainge was intercepted that we'd score so these two could go find a room in which to...er...score.
But anyway, great game and now it's time to think about the evil empire from Gainesville.
posted by Michael Hickerson at 9/10/2006 06:09:00 PM |
Heading out to take in the UT vs Air Force game this evening. I'm pretty stoked about the Vols after last week's romp over Cal. I'm hopeful we can duplicate the effort and intensity this week.
My score prediction: UT 41, Air Force 14
GO BIG ORANGE!!!!!!!!!!!
posted by Michael Hickerson at 9/09/2006 09:26:00 AM |
So, here it is. Forty years ago today, the very first episode of Star Trek aired on NBC. "The Man Trap" kicked off what would become a huge franchise and, arguably, one of the great American myths. For the past eleven days, I've counted down my favorite episodes of the orignal series. And now, at long last, we reach the top slot on my list with my all-time favorite episode, "Amok Time."
Penned by celebrated sci-fi author Theordore Sturgeon, "Amok Time" kicked off the second season of Star Trek in a big way with a visit to Spock's home world of Vulcan.
The story can be quickly summed up as "Spock goes into heat and must return to Vulcan to mate or die" but that is doing this classic episode a huge disservice. The story comes well into the Gene Coon era of Star Trek (Coon was a producer who helped shape Star Trek) and it shows all the trademarks of the era--solid story, humor, and strong, dynamic character work. The entire original series cast in on hand for this one, though the focus is clearly on the Kirk/Spock/McCoy dynamic.
Spock is behaving strangely, demanding shore leave immediately on Vulcan. The Enterprise is on her way to Altair for a presidential inaguration ceremony but will have time to swing by Vulcan to drop Spock off. But then the ceremony is moved up two days and Kirk is unable to grant Spock's request. At which point Spock supercedes Kirk's orders and orders the ship to Vulcan.
Kirk finds out and is not pleased, leading to one heck of scene on the bridge. Kirk comes out of the turbolift and orders Spock to come with him. The two men talk in the turbolift, at which point Kirk orders Spock to sickbay to be checked out by McCoy. McCoy runs his tests and reports that Spock must get to Vulcan in the next several days or else he'll die.
Kirk goes to ask Spock about it and off the record learns that Spock is experiencing the pon-farr--a Vulcan mating drive. He must return to Vulcan to mate with his bethrothed or else die. Kirk takes this under consideration and speaks to McCoy about it. Kirk analyzes the Altair situation, deciding the Enterprise is one of four ships that will be there--nice but not necessary. He decides his friendship with Spock is worth throwing away his career for and orders the ship to Vulcan.
This leads to one of the great, defining scenes for the big three in the turbo lift, riding up to the bridge upon arrival at Vulcan. Spock realizes McCoy has figured out what is going on and thanks him. He then says that there is a brief ceremony on the surface and says he may be accompanied by his closest friends as is his right. He asks both Kirk and McCoy to go, to which McCoy responds, "I would be honored sir."
The trio beams down and meets the wedding party. It's headed by T'Pau, the only person to ever turn down a seat on the Federation Council. We meet Spock's bethrothed T'Pring and Spock begins the ritual, going deep into the blood heat. Hanging around in the background is another Vulcan named Stonn. More on him later. T'Pring halts the ceremony at one point, invoking the kunit-kalife, which is where she chooses a champion to fight to the death with Spock. The winner gets T'Pring.
T'Pring chooses Kirk, who agrees thinking he just needs to knock out Spock or get knocked out. He also doesn't want to look weak in front of T'Pau of Vulcan. He agrees, not knowing the fight is to the death until it's too late to back out. The two friends begin the fight with McCoy looking on. After the first round, Kirk is winded due to the thinner air on Vulcan. McCoy offers a triox compound to help Kirk breath and injects Kirk with it. He and Kirk discuss the fact that he's going to have to kill Spock or else be killed.
The fight resumes and Spock kills Kirk in the battle. McCoy confirms this and tells Spock he's in command. The two beam up to the ship. Spock finds that having killed Kirk, the blood fever has passed. He also figures out T'Pring doesn't want him, but Stonn. Spock is becoming a legend on Vulcan and T'Pring doesn't wish to be married to a legend. Her logic was if Spock won, she gets his title and estate while he's off in Starfleet and she still has Stonn. If Kirk wins, he will release her and she can have Stonn. Spock releases her from the obligation and tells Stonn "You may find, in time, that having is not so pleasing a thing as wanting. It is not logical, but it is most often true."
Spock returns to the ship, prepared to surrender himself to the authorites only to have Kirk emerge from sickbay. Spock's emotions overcome him and he smiles at the sight of Kirk alive. Seems McCoy slipped Kirk a mickey to knock him out and prevent Spock from killing him. Then Enterprise then gets a message that T'Pau pulled some strings and they won't get in trouble for diverting to Vulcan.
The ship then heads out for its next mission....
As an episode, "Amok Time" has it all when it comes to Star Trek. You've got a solid story, great character work, good acting and some great action. The fight scenes between Kirk and Spock are superbly done and accompanied by the famous "Star Trek fight music." The score was written specifically for this episode, though it's used many times over in the upcoming episodes. It works best here and is memorable.
The peformaces by regular and guest cast alike are univerally superb, though the highlight is Leonard Nimoy as Spock. The struggle we see with our usually stoic Spock is shown to us in body language a lot. We see Spock's arm quiver nervously and there are times when Spock succumbs to emotions of anger and rage, which we see played out on screen. Nimoy goes from rage and upset to being the stoic Spock on a dime.
It's also an episode that epitomizes what the big three were all about. The friendship and loyalty between Kirk, Spock and McCoy is great--from the scene in the turbolift to the scenes on Vulcan. McCoy serves as a great sounding board and friend for both Kirk and Spock in this episode. He's the one who spurs Kirk onto action early in the episode, noting that Spock is acting strangely.
It's the perfect balance of all the elements of Star Trek in one episode. And there's not one plot thread left as a loose end when it's all wrapped up.
Now, it does feature another left-in blooper from the filming, though it's not as obvious as the one used in "Space Seed." It's easier to spot if you know where to look for it. In the third act, as Kirk speaks to T'Pau about the pon farr, Spock is in the background of the shot. Not knowing it was a wide shot and needing to be in character, you can see Nimoy leaning against the set. He then realizes the cameras are rolling and snaps back into character. Again, not as obvious as the "Space Seed" thing but it's still there and something to watch for on the 700th viewing of the episode.
And so, there you have it--my top ten of classic Star Trek. I hope you enjoyed it and I thank all of you for your indulgance in reading my ranting about one of my favorite shows.
Happy 40th anniversary to Star Trek.
Labels: Star Trek
posted by Michael Hickerson at 9/08/2006 10:55:00 AM |
KatieAllison has a house for sale over in Knoxville.
Katie just got married and is motivated to sell. She asked fellow bloggers to help publicize the house being on the market and I'm only too happy to help.
Also, congrats to Katie and her new husband. I hope and pray for many years of happiness together for y'all.
posted by Michael Hickerson at 9/07/2006 12:07:00 PM |
"City on the Edge of Forever" is widely regarded as not only the best episode of the original series but as the single best episode of any of the five Star Trek shows.
Interestingly enough "City on the Edge of Forever" is one of those stories that not only deserves every accolate its has received over the years but it actually lives up to and exceeds them. This is one of those rare episodes of television that transcends the genre.
"City on the Edge of Forever" has one of the most colorful histories of any episode of Star Trek as well. The original story was written by respected science-fiction author, Harlan Ellison. (Classic Trek had lots of "big name" sci-fi writers pen episodes for the show.) Ellison's original script (which you can purchase and read for yourself) involved a drug dealer on the Enterprise who goes back in time though the Guardian of Forever. Kirk and Spock follow him back when the drug dealer changes history to put the timeline back on course.
Over the years, a lot of stories have cropped up about the original premise for the show. One rumor had it that Scotty was the drug dealer in question (he was not...the script had it being a not before seen red-shirt character). A lot of these rumors were allegedly propogated by Gene Roddenberry at fan conventions, according to Ellison. As I've said, the original story is available for you to purchase and read, including a 50 or so page forward by Ellison that I can sum up for you like this. "Gene Roddenberry is a bastard and I hate him for changing my script, which you can soon read after I'm done with all my ranting."
The script itself is a bit bleaker and darker than what Star Trek normally is and reading it, I can see why changes were made. Of course, there are also stories (verified by other Trek sources on the set) that Ellison took so long to write the script that it almost never got made.
To me, the funny thing is that a lot of the kiss and tell Star Trek books from ten years ago all had an entire chapter devoted to this episode. That should tell you something about how big it is in the Trek canon.
The funny thing to me about Ellison's book is after 50 pages of "Gene Roddenberry is a bastard" we get an essay from script editor and writer D.C. Fontana who admits she did much of the re-write of the script herself under Roddenberry's supervision. So it wasn't Gene who "butchered" Harlan's script it was Fontana, who in between ranting about how much he hates Roddenberry, Ellison has high praise for.
The thing is despite the massive re-writes by Roddenberry, Fontana and I'm going to assume producer Gene Coon done to this script, Ellison still gets sole writing credit on it.
That said, the changes actually make the script better and make for a better, overall episode of Star Trek. Instead of a drug dealer on the ship, we have McCoy accidentally injected with an overdose of cordazine. He becomes manic, thinking everyone is out to get him. The Enterprise is orbiting a world where waves of time distortion are eminating, looking into this. McCoy beams down and the landing party follows him.
On the planet, the landing party discovers an arch that is the Guardian of Forever. It's a portal to the past. As Spock is studying it, McCoy jumps through it and vanishes into history. The timeline then alters and the Enterprise is gone. Kirk and Spock must now go back and repair what McCoy has done. If they do so, they will return home and it will be as if nothing happened.
Kirk and Spock go back in time to Depression era New York. There Kirk meets and falls in love with Edith Keeler, as played by Joan Collins. Keeler runs a soup kitchen and believes in helping her fellow human being. As the story goes along, Spock finds out that Keeler in the lynchpin...she dies in an auto accident (she's hit by a truck), thus creating the future he and Kirk now. If Keeler doesn't die, her movement keeps the U.S. from entering the second world war until it's too late and Hitler has the bomb.
Kirk is now faced with a choice--sacrifice the universe he knows or the woman he loves.
For all the times that Kirk romances the alien girl of the week and how cliched it can be, the romance with Edith Keeler is anything but. There are those who say Shatner can't act but to those critics I say--watch this episode. The man can do it and his performance here is nothing short of superb. As are the performances of everyone in the cast. Again, watch the scene in which Keeler dies. Kirk must stop McCoy from saving her and the look on Shatner's face as he has to let the woman Kirk loves die is heartbreaking. It also features some great dialogue as McCoy asks if Kirk knew what he was doing and Spock replies, "He knows, Doctor. He knows."
As I've said before, this episode really transcends the genre and is more than just a Star Trek episode. It's a story grounded on a science-fiction premise (traveelling in time) but as with all good Trek, it's about more than that. It's about the characters, who all shine through here. At this point, Star Trek is humming on all cylinders with the cast firmly in touch with who these characters are. Shatner, Nimoy and DeForest Kelley all deliver solid, amazing peformances and Joan Collins is well cast as well.
The scene where Keeler dies is heart wrenching and horrifying. It was made in the time when less is more...we don't see the wreck but instead hear it and see character's reactions to it. It's far more effective than showing the wreck and its results on screen.
(In an interesting bit of trivia....I notice that Kirk has to sacrifice a lot this first season...first his best friend to start the series and now he has to let the woman he loves die.)
It ends with the (then) risque line of Kirk saying "Let's get the hell out of here" as the crew beams up.
The one nitpick you could have is that this is clearly an epiosde that is driven by character over plot. Kirk has to sacrifice Keller but we get no resolution to what brought them to the planet to start with--the time waves that are affecting the whole universe. I guess we can assume the Guardian was malfunctioning or something and its now somehow fixed, but we're not given any answers. Much in the same way another episode from this list did with "Mirror, Mirror." Once Kirk and company escape the mirror universe, we never find out what happened with the Halkans and, in fact, Kirk orders the ship out of orbit at episode's end. So, I guess they completed the mission..but we're not sure.
Again, this is not one of those things that really matters that much. But when you watch these things a million times over the years, these things tend to jump out at you on the thousandth or so viewing...
"City on the Edge of Forever" is a true classic---not only of Star Trek but all of TV drama. And it's place as one of the most reverred and respected episodes in the Star Trek canon is well deserved. If you are looking for a good way to see why Trek has endured for 40 years, this episode is worth viewing or viewing again.
Labels: Star Trek
posted by Michael Hickerson at 9/07/2006 09:14:00 AM |
In the argument over whether or not it's a good idea to upgrade the original series effects, "The Doomsday Machine" is one episode that quickly comes up as a reason for such an upgrade.
And I'll give you that upgrading some of the model shots and battles between the Enterprise, the Constellation and the titular Doomsday Machine might, I say might visually make this more pleasing.
But if you're only watching "The Doomsday Machine" for the effects, you're really missing the entire point of the episode.
What we've got here in Moby Dick in space. Replace Captain Ahab with Commodore Matt Decker and the whale with a huge, planet killing machine that has to be stopped before it destroys most of the colonized heart of the Fedearation and you've got "The Doomsday Machine." And while the effects are questionable at times, they are not the heart and soul of this story. What is the heart and soul is the characters and the conflicts.
William Windom turns in one of the best guest-star turns not only of the original series but Star Trek as a whole. His Commodore Matt Decker is a good man pushed too far. Decker's entire crew is killed by the Doomsday Machine when his ship is crippled. Decker, thinking he's saving their lives has them beamed down to a planet that the Doomsday Machine promptly destroys. Decker's guilt and horror at this sends him over the edge, into obsession and almost crippling depression. We watch Decker go from a man who can barely put into words the horror of what he saw to calm and assured, taking command of the Enterprise in the heat of battle when Spock won't do what he wants. Windom delivers a performance for the ages and his acting elevates the crew around him to new heights. Say what you will about Shatner's acting, the man can do it when he wants to--and it shows here. It will also show in another episode that I'll discuss in the coming days.
"The Doomsday Machine" is an episode where we examine the consequences of command. Decker loses his sanity and then his life to the planet killer. But unlike other contemporaries of Kirk who went mad with power, Decker hasn't followed that path. He's made the same decisions Kirk or any other commander would only to have them blow up in his face in unexpected ways. He's a tragic figure and when he dies in the third act, we really do feel a moment of regret and sadness for him.
"The Doomsday Machine" also emphasizes the insular nature of the Enterprise crew and their loyalty to Kirk. Spock is forced by regulations to give up command even though he knows Decker shouldn't be anywhere near the center seat. McCoy tries to help but can't produce the documentary evidence that Decker is suffering from a mental trauma. In the end, Kirk forces the issue when he orders Spock to take command of the Enterprise on his (Kirk's) personal authority. Forget your killer space battles, the scene that unfolds as Decker states he doesn't recognize Spock's authority to relieve him is as tense and real as any battle unfolding on the vast backdrop of space.
This episode is enhanced by a terrific musical score by Sol Kaplan. It's easy to forget how effective this music is since a lot of it got recycled time and again in lots of space battle after this one. But here with the cues timed precisely with what is unfolding on screen, the music enhances and already great episode of Star Trek.
I suppose I'd be remiss is not pointing out the obvious technical errors. Most of these are due to the scale of ships in the story. Many will point out that the shuttle craft and the Constellation are the same size as they're seen entering the Doomsday Machine. It's a huge mistake and one that I'm sure will be corrected when we get the new edition whenever it airs. That said, I couldn't care less about it. The effects are not what drives this story. It's the solid story, the well defined characters and the superlative muscical score that make "The Doomsday Machine" one of the best outings not only of the original series but of all of Star Trek.
Labels: Star Trek
posted by Michael Hickerson at 9/06/2006 07:55:00 AM |