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Sunday, December 31, 2006
The ride is over...
Well, the winning streak came to an end today for the Titans.

It's hard not to be a bit disappointed since two of the three "ifs" for the Titans to get in the playoffs had they won happened in the early games.

That said, I can't complain about the last two months of the season. Back in October I thought the wheels had come off the wagon and Jeff Fisher was headed toward the exit. But then some small things happened that brought some wins and brought back the pride to the team and the fans. Even Pacman Jones lived up to his potential on the field and stopped acting like a goon off the field.

Let me say this--Vince Young is the rookie of the year and Jeff Fisher is coach of the year. I'm pretty sure the coaching award will go to someone else, but Fisher did more with less than any coach this year. It gives us confidence and hope going into next year that the Titans could take the next step and be in the post-season next season.

One thing I like about Fisher--he's classy. He's gracious in winning and a gentleman in defeat. Unlike his counterpart on the other side of the field today. Yes, you Bill Belachick. I'm talking to you. Your team is a bunch of thugs who play dirty, as was evidenced by the multiple personal fouls you ran up today. But I guess they're a reflection of the win at all costs and damn being a sportsman attitude you have. I don't give a rat's hindquarters that Vinny Testaverde could pad his record for passing TDs in a season. It's insignificant and I think anyone could throw at least one TD pass in twenty straight seasons by not showing the good sense to retire when they should have. But seriously, Bill to have your team pass for a TD when you're up by 13 with less than two minutes to go shows a complete and total lack of class and sportsmanship. I hear all the time how the Patriots are such a classy organization. I've never seen it and today only showed how little class the team has.

I hope if you go to Indy to play and the Colts are up by 20 they keep pouring it on.....I can't think of another team who so richly deserves it.

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posted by Michael Hickerson at 12/31/2006 04:51:00 PM | |
Saturday, December 30, 2006
TV Round-Up: Doctor Who
The Runaway Bride
Can it be that new episodes of Doctor Who are becoming the norm and the expected for me? I have to admit, I fear this could be true since I found it difficult to muster up the same level of enthusiasm for the Christmas special episode of Doctor Who this year. Of course, a large part of the enthusiasm for last year's story was the fact that it was our first sustained look at David Tennant at Doctor.

This year, it was a bit more subdued and looked at what life would be like on the show after Rose.

Having been a Who fan for years now and seen companions come and go, I have to admit the question of what is life like after Rose wasn't quite as edge-of-your-seat as what is the new Doctor like. But I can see how the target audience for the new series would find it hard to know what life is going to be like for the Doctor after the departure of his companion.

Which brings us to "The Runaway Bride."

One thing I have to keep reminding myself about these Christmas specials is they are, first and foremost, supposed to be fun. They're intended to be viewed by the family audience after the big day of opening presents and consuming Christmas dinner. It's supposed to have something for everyone and they're not really intended for the hardest of the hard core Who fans like myself. They're supposed to be light and fun.

And in that "The Runaway Bride" succeeds, for the most part. I will say that the overall story is better paced than last year's "Christmas Invasion" (which had a long 45 minutes of waiting around for the Doctor to be fully recovered from his regeneration) but I'm not sure that, overall, it's a better story. Certainly if I lived in the UK of the Doctor Who world, I'd be a bit worried that every Christmas an alien invasion seems to occur.

As I said, the story is fairly straightforward. The Doctor meets Donna, a woman who was walking down the aisle when she suddenly started to glow and turned into a stream of particles. She was drawn to the TARDIS becuase the TARDIS has similar particles in its heart and now the Doctor has to figure out how these particles got into Donna since they've not been seen around the universe for a couple of million years. Turns out her fiancee is giving them to her in her coffee each day and that he works for an emperess spider-woman who wants to revive her race, who just happen to reside at the center of the Earth. The Doctor must, of course, put a stop to this and does.

The story also deals with the Doctor's depression about Rose leaving and his need for a companion to temper his alien half. Last year we saw the darker side of the 10th Doctor on sevreal occasions and it's on full display here. The Doctor's warning to the spider-queen is effective and Tennant does a good job of playing to his strengths in the role. He's at his best when the Doctor is quietly threatening and you can see his scarcely under the surface anger. He's less convincing when he's trying to be over the top and almost Tom Baker-like silly in the role, which he does a few times here.

The other half of the team is the one-time companion, Donna, played by Catherine Tate. From what I've heard she's a fairly big star in the UK, who is apparently very polarizing. You either love her or you hate her. I have a feeling the script is playing very much on the type of character Tate plays on another show or shows since we have constant references to Donna's being a bit out of it and self-absorbed. I can only assume these are in-jokes I missed since I don't know the context. Tate does fairly well in the role, though it's a bit limited. She's no where near as rich as Rose, but Donna isn't mean to be. She does fulfill the companion role of screaming a lot, having the plot explained to her and getting into danger rather well. But I will say I'm glad they resisted the tempation to make Donna a regular companion. Once was quite enough, thank you.

In many ways, this story is a coda to last season. Having done that, I expect the pallet is clean for the new season, which from the long preview looks to be interesting. I will admit this year there's not a single "event" I'm looking forward to like we had last year with the return of K-9 and Sarah Jane Smith, but it does appear we're getting yet another appearance by an old enemy this year and a trip to meet Shakespeare. And a new companion, who I assume we'll meet in the first official story of series three in a few months.

Until then, I intend to enjoy "The Runaway Bride" for what it is--a fairly straightforward, fun, light-hearted Chrismtas adventure designed to set the table for the next series.

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posted by Michael Hickerson at 12/30/2006 01:03:00 PM | |
Thursday, December 28, 2006
Welcome to Opry Mills...
Just got back from a pleasant lunch with the crowd from Inn of the Last Home at the Rainforest Cafe at Opry Mills (pictures to come later). It's always a pleasure to catch up with Barry, L, BrainBoy and GiggleGirl, though GG was pretty annoyed that I tried to convince she was an android. (You had to be there, I guess...)

I enjoy eating the Rainforest Cafe, but it seems as if every time we go there, the service is beyond slow. As in molasses in January slow. I swear there must be some hole in the space-time continuum that opens up near our area and every year our server falls into it. If I were a paranoid kind of person, I'd be worried that some space-time continuum event was following me around the universe.

Thankfully, I'm not that paranoid.

After lunch and looking around the Rainforest Cafe shop, I decided to brave the mall to look for clearance calendars. I always tend to wait on buying calendars until after Christmas to get them at half-off.

Man, what a zoo Opry Mills was. First of all, there is the cheerleading convention that seems to run at Gaylord from the middle of November until late March every since year. So, you have that group and their various entourages (we had to wait about five minutes for a steady stream of them to flow into the Rainforest Cafe before we could leave). Add to that the Kentucky and Clemson fans here for the Music City Bowl* and top it all with locals who are off from school and work who thought a trip to the mall would be a great idea. As I said before--a zoo.

I think part of my issue is (as I've stated before) we've forgotten how to use the phrase "excuse me." I've noticed that it's being used as an excuse for plowing into someone or if someone makes the mistake of using it, it means you can keep on barrelling forward, not caring if the person was there first or not. Of course, that assumes that someone might use it when they do something like come to abrupt halt in the middle of the human traffic pattern or plow right into you as they come out of a store with their treasure.

It certainly limited my time at the mall. I got my calendars and quickly left the mall, swearing to not go back again during the holiday season. Or at least next year when I meet the crew from Inn of the Last Home to only go to the Rainforest Cafe and not bother with the rest of the mall.**

* While in the Rainforest Cafe gift shop, a Kentucky fan came in making noises like a monkey. Which, you have to admit is pretty much typical behavoir for a Kentucky fan. I'm sure they are still stunned that their football team did well while their basketball team is doing, well, pretty poorly by Kentucky standards. Don't worry, UK fans, the Vols will make sure to remind you of where we are and where you were when we play in a few weeks.

** I will, of course, forget this next year around this time, leading to another such post about this subject next year. Shoot, I may just copy and paste this post into next year's entry and save time.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 12/28/2006 03:00:00 PM | |

Top 10 TV Show of 2006
Seems as if everyone else is compiling their list of the best shows of 2006. So, I figured I'd chime in with my two cents on what I thought was the best in TV this year.

1. Battlestar Galactica
2. 24
3. The Office
4. Friday Night Lights
5. Rescue Me
6. Lost
7. The Shield
8. Veronica Mars
9. Doctor Who
10. Heroes

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posted by Michael Hickerson at 12/28/2006 08:02:00 AM | |
Tuesday, December 26, 2006
Flex Scheduling
Until this week, the NFL's flex scheduling package had been nothing short of a resounding success. The idea was to create some flexibility to move high profile games to the national, Sunday night spot and not burden the fandom and ratings with duds.

Until this week.

Now, I could be a disgruntled Titans fan and whine that we didn't get a 3:15 or the 7:30 game. Had the Jet lost, I bet we'd have been bumped to a 3:15 game on CBS, hosting the Patriots. I would have loved the national Sunday night game if only to showcase how far our team has come this year. But I guess that won't happen.

Instead, the NFL fumbled big time. With at least half a dozen games with playoff implications this week's big nationally televised game will be the yawner that is Chicago vs Green Bay. Now, before my Chicago Bears fans friends get up in arms about this rivallry and how much it means to the various cities and teams, let me say I know that. And were there some kind of playoff implication to the game, I'd be all for it. Heck, if either of these teams were playing for anything meaningful I'd be all for it. But the Bears have locked up home field advantage in the playoffs. The Packers are playing out the season.

The only wild card is this could be Brett Favre's last game. I'm all for celebrating the guy if it is really his last game. But you know, at this point, we don't know. And we won't know for a few months I'm sure. So to put a what could be game on instead of a game that has real implications for the playoffs seems a huge waste of potential.

And a major fumble by the NFL...

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posted by Michael Hickerson at 12/26/2006 02:03:00 PM | |
Sunday, December 24, 2006
Christmas Lights

One of my favorite Christmas Eve traditions is to drive around with some good Christmas music on (good meaning anything not by Kenny G) and looking at the various exterior decorations from the good to the bad (anything involving anything inflatable).

I have to admit I'm impressed by those people who not only illuminate their homes but also take that next step and coreograph that light show to music. There's even a home here in middle Tennessee that does that, as sampled above. The house is in Murfreesboro on Hamilton Drive, if you're interested in seeing it for yourself. I may have to try and find it tonight or in the next few days.

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posted by Michael Hickerson at 12/24/2006 03:27:00 PM | |

A gift from Bills
Thank you to the Buffalo Bills for gift-wrapping the sixth win in a row for the Tennessee Titans.

But, of course, if your fans are such a bunch of fair-weather wannabes that you can't sell out a game that could keep playoff hopes alive, you don't deserve to win....

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posted by Michael Hickerson at 12/24/2006 03:15:00 PM | |
Saturday, December 23, 2006
Real UT beats the imposter UT
Chalk up (another) exciting win for the UT basketball team. And in overtime no less!

UT once again shows the wanna-bes in Texas who the real UT is.

This week, the men's and women's teams have swept the University of Texas in basketball.

Kind of an early Christmas present from my team...

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

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posted by Michael Hickerson at 12/23/2006 01:51:00 PM | |

No wonder he wears red
I babysat my neice and nephew last night. A good time was had by all, as is always the case when Uncle Michael is around.

Of course, with the close proximity of Christmas, both of them are concerned about Santa's impending visit tomorrow night. My neice let me help her color a half-dozen or so pictures for Santa. Santa may be leaving with more stuff than he brings if she has her way.

As I was going through the ritual of putting them to bed, my nephew was complaining he didn't want to go to bed yet. The funny part of this is, he's saying "I don't want to go to bed" as he's putting his head on my shoulder and closing his eyes, or pulling the blanket up on himself and curling up with his stuffed dog and Superman.

My niece looked at him and said, "You need to go to bed or else I'll tell Mommy and you won't get a good report to Santa."

So, wait--his own sister is going to turn him in to Santa?!? What is this--communist Russia?!?

I guess I know now why St Nick wear red...

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posted by Michael Hickerson at 12/23/2006 11:15:00 AM | |
Friday, December 22, 2006
To the city of Buffalo
Dear alleged Buffalo Bills fans,

I read on-line this morning that you couldn't even sell out this week's homegame, meaning the game will be blacked out in your area. This seems odd since I'm always hearing how great the Buffalo fans are. I guess you're fair-weather fans since, let's face it, since you tanked it in four Super Bowls in a row, y'all ain't done much.

Yet here you are, in the middle of a potential playoff race and you can't even sell out a homegame. I expect that kind of crap from Arizona because, well, they're Arizona and the Cardinals suck. But from the alleged great fans in Buffalo I expected something more. Guess I've been proven wrong.

Of course, I can understand how you'd not want to see the Titans play. That Jeff Fisher called a hell of a play back in 2000 and I can see how you'd still be a bit upset. Let me just say this again--yes, it was a miracle play and no it wasn't a forward lateral.

Go Titans!
Big Orange Michael

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posted by Michael Hickerson at 12/22/2006 08:57:00 PM | |

So where were you Nashville?
So, Britney issued the invite to the blog world to come on out to see the taping of the Jeff Fisher Show last night at Buffalo Billards. I went and was expecting hoping to see some of my fellow blogger football fans out there...

And didn't see a one of y'all!

Imagine my best Jerry Seinfeld voice as I say, "What's the deal, bloggers?!?"

There was free food, catered by the world-famous Mothership. It was free and it was a pretty good time. Oh and guys, there were two Titans cheerleaders there. What else you going to to do on a rainy Thursday evening?

I know, I know...it's close to the holidays. And I guess some of you wanted to do silly things like spend time with family or find last minute presents.

Or maybe you were all there and I missd you. You were off in another area having fun and laughing...

"Hey, should we tell Michael we're here?
"No, he's far too busy staring at cheerleaders watching the show."

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posted by Michael Hickerson at 12/22/2006 10:15:00 AM | |
Thursday, December 21, 2006
TV Round-Up: Battlestar Galactica

This year's mid-season Galactica cliffhanger is very similar to last year's. Sure, last year it was internal Colonial strife with Pegasus and this year it's the Cylons, but other than that, it's pretty much the same sort of standoff.

It may not be fresh or innovative but I can tell you one thing--it worked. I'm already counting down days until Galactica returns on Jan 21 (two days after my b'day...so happy b'day to me!).

At least this time around, the mid-season cliffhanger didn't feel disjointed. Last year's suffered from being too long to run in an hour slot but too short to pad out to an hour and a half. This year's felt like the pacing was better with a lot of big revelations hitting the fan. Sharon knows Hera is alive, Baltar breaks up with Six (yeah, that's not going to end well) and both sides discover a clue on the quest to find Earth. Oh yeah and the star close to the planet they're orbiting--about to go nova. For a minute, I thought that would be part of the cliffhanger as well, between Adama wanting to nuke the planet, suddenly the star would go nova. I have a feeling this was thrown in as a way to end this standoff between the humans and Cylons without having them all sit around the planet for the next six years, staring each other down.

Relationships seem to be changing on the show--and I'm not just talking Lee and Kara. If there was a weak link to the storyline, it was the soap opera nature of this plotline. Lee is all guilty because he's cheating on his wife and is ready to leave her for Starbuck. Meanwhile, Anders knows Starbuck is cheating and somehow doesn't seem to care. He knew what he was signing up for when they got married. If the show takes the easy way out of this and kills off Anders I'm going to be upset. Meanwhile, Dee just gives everyone the evil eye.

And who'd've figured that Kara would get shot down and Lee and Anders would have a conflict over rescuing her? This plotline needs to do something unexpected and shake things up.

Oh the consequences to the decisions.

Which is really what this one is all about. Roslin faces the fall-out of hiding Hera, Baltar faces the consequences of the side he's chosen and everyone is in conflict. It's just a normal day on Galactica. And we haven't even covered the Cylons, who are all conflicted. The love triangle with Baltar, D'Ana and Six reaches a breaking point (seriously, how lucky is Baltar--betray humanity and you get a three-way with Six and Xena...what the frak?!?) and Baltar choses D'ana..for now. The thing with Baltar is he changes loyalties more often then most of us change socks so don't expect this switch to last long. And in case you haven't heard, there is a big death coming in the back nine of the season. I'm calling it right now as D'Ana. (I bet it ties into this temple of five somehow)

I did love Baltar's return to Galactica and his realization he'll never be accepted back. It's intereting how Baltar desparately wants the acceptance and respect of women he perceives as powerful--Six, D'Ana, and Laura. Roslin's walking out on him, dismissing him was far more hurtful to his pride and ego than a slap in the face. And you could see it on Baltar's face. Add to it the look of fear and terror he got when Cavill offered him as part of the deal should Galactica leave. I know it won't happen but James Callis deserves an Emmy nod for that scene alone.

As does Edward James Olmos, who proves once again this his Adama is the baddest sci-fi commander since Kirk and a man you don't want to frak with.

So, while it was, in some ways, a repeat of last year's mid-season cliffhanger, I found myself not really that upset about it. Plotlines are moving forward and if the follow-up proves to be half as good as "Resurrection Ship" was to "Pegaus" last year, we're in for treat come January.

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posted by Michael Hickerson at 12/21/2006 01:24:00 PM | |
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
Holiday parties
One of the biggest thankless jobs in the world has to be planning the office Christmas party. If you have any doubt, just catch up on last week's hiliarious one-hour The Office episode where we had not one but two competing holiday parties. (Speaking of The Office, I about died when Michael kept replaying the song sample instead of buying the whole song when he was pouting over Carol dumping him....classic!)

I've been to more than my fair share of office holiday parties over the years and they've all been intereting. Last year, I went to one and watched a co-worker wear out a path from her table to the bar, getting progessively drunker and throwing herself at one of the sales guys all evening. That started the office gossip going for weeks and it only got juicer when she hooked up with soemeone else in the company and first guy found he was dumped when he saw them holding hands in the break room. (You can't make up this kind of drama and have it be believable).

I think one thing that leads to my feeling a bit awkward at office holiday parties is I've got this weird history of changing jobs in late November or early December. So, you go to the office party not knowing anyone and having to ask things like what is the accepted or expected dress code for the party. It's time like this when I'm thankful I'm a guy because if you overdress with a tie and sportcoat, those are easily removed and its socially acceptable. Ladies, with all your fashion choices, I feel for you. The first two years I worked at iPIX, we had a really formal holiday party that you dressed to the nines for. My first year there, I was still new and didn't invite a date nor did I wrangle one the second year. Part of the thing with taking a date is that I don't want it to be our first or second date, if possible. It's not really fair to anyone.

But the third year, I'd met someone, we'd gone out a few times and I'd asked her to the holiday party. I'd asked her early--something like October, I think--and was pretty happy she'd agreed to go. Only to have that big, huge formal party cancelled and instead we had one at the actual office. So, that was strike one against the party for me. Come on, I had a date, I complained to co-workers who all mocked me and doubted the validity of my story.

Instead, we had a more subdued holiday party because, well, the company was on rough ground financially. Couldn't be out spending a zillion dollars for an office party, though the office in California I think had a pretty lavish affair (they always seemed to be doing that...we had one office unity building day where we got to go bowling and they got to go jet-skiing. Not that I'm bitter or jealous still..no, not at all). Anyway, it was announced we'd have a decorate your office contest and the dreaded dirty Santa exchange.

I threw myself wholeheartedly into the decorating the office thing. First prize was a gift card from Wal-Mart in a good amount. So, I hung up lights, brought in a Christmas tree and did some other things to make my office festive. The main problem here was I started this before Thanksgiving, thus tipping off all my co-workers as to my master plan and letting them see the competition as it were. So, when a guy in sales brought in a ringer (his wife) and set up a massive display in his area the day of the judging, I knew all hope was lost. I didn't even get an honorable mention, part of which I blame on the fact that everyone got to see my office decorated a full two weeks or so and get used to the insanity. So, strike two.

Then, we got to the dirty Santa. We were all told to find a unique, funny gift to bring in for the exchange. So, I went out, found something and put a modicrum of thought into it. I also made sure to follow the rules of how the spending cap--both the entry and do not go beyond this point levels.

Well, the party started and they invited back some former co-workers who had been laid off. Which you know was nice and all, but it seemed a bit awkward at first. Some of them were still looking for jobs and it was the holidays. But hey--look, we've got free cookies for you!

So, it came to start and we drew numbers. When it came time for my turn, I looked around and decided to open a gift. I picked one and proceeded to open.

Now let me back up and say part of the fun of dirty Santa is that you want something poeple are going to want to steal. Or at least trade out. Becuase otherwise you're just stuck and get to miss half the hilarity. Esp. if you get a crappy gift early on.

And let me tell you, I got a crappy gift early on. I opened up the paper to find.....wait for it..a Richard Simmons work-out LP. Yes, I am not kidding. I got a Richard Simmons album on vinyl. I hadn't owned a vinyl record player for years and.....again..it was Richard Simmons. I looked at it and was stunned. Surely this was some horrible joke and something good was inside. Nope, it was the actual album. As I look up, wondering who would do such a thing one of the co-workers who got laid off but had come to the party said, "I was cleaning out my closests and found that...I was going to get rid of it but decided to use it for the dirty Santa instead. Isn't it hiliarious?"

Oh sure, it's hilarious....in the look at what I bought once and am giving to Goodwill way. Not that "let's give it to an unsuspecting former co-worker and deny him the chance to enjoy the hiliarity that is dirty Santa."

"That sucks," said a buddy next to me.

"I may as well go back to my office cause this game is over for me," I replied.

And people wonder why I am not a big fan of the dirty Santa game.

Though, I do recall I took the record home and was telling the woman who had been my date about it. She thought it was funny and said she had a dirty Santa party to go to and wondered if I'd give her the album. It'd be funny to see the look on someone's face as they opened it...before she gave them the real dirty Santa item. So, I gave it to her and scored a few points there....so maybe it didn't all turn out that bad, after all.

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posted by Michael Hickerson at 12/20/2006 10:25:00 AM | |

Titans snubbed by ProBowl (yet again!)
The ProBowl selections came out yesterday and, as usual, the Titans got the snub. No players selected, though a few were put on the list as alternates.

I guess the five-game win streak started too late to get the attention of many people outside the mid-South that the Titans are making some waves in the NFL. Oh well, maybe next year, though I don't hold much hope since it seems that Titans are routinely snubbed from the national spotlight they deserve.

Sorry, but you will never convince me that we need eight or nine Cowboys games shown nationally a year. America's team, my left foot...

The good news is that all of America may get to see the good stuff happening here in Nashville on New Years Eve. Buzz is the NFL may option the Titans vs Patriots game to the Sunday night spot and showcase these two teams. As a Titans fan, I can only hope this is the case and if it does happen that Vince and company will make us proud on national television. It could be a stepping stone toward getting back on Monday Night Football or the Sunday night games next year.

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posted by Michael Hickerson at 12/20/2006 09:16:00 AM | |
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
Santa Claus Is Watching You
Over the weekend, I was able to finish up the Christmas shopping (thanks to all of you who offered suggestions. They were appreciated more than I can say and I may be coming back to you in a few weeks when my neice's b'day rolls around at the end of February), which I have to admit was quite a relief. In the good news catagory, I found Willy Wonka at Best Buy and thanks to my reward zone card, I had a ten dollar off gift certificate. So, I found what I was looking for and the price was great--how can you go wrong?

The thing with kids their age is they don't know or care how much you spent on their presents. But you have to make sure that if the niece gets three, then the nephew has three. It's all about similar quantities of presents.

With the shopping done, I turned to planning for the big day. My sister e-mailed me to co-ordinate Christmas breakfast and revealed the new way they're helping keep the kids behaving. Seems St Nick has a free phone number you can call and the message changes daily. So, this has become the new way to get the kids to behave--threatening to not let them call Santa. And apparently it goes even farther that if they're really being "naughty" then the threat is they'll call up Santa and rat the kids out. Which you know, I've got to admit seems kind of mean. Of course, I could just ruin the whole gig by going over there and telling them that while Santa may cut them off, there is no way Uncle Michael would and he can make up the present difference should Santa not come through....

I don't need food during the months of January and Febrary, right?

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posted by Michael Hickerson at 12/19/2006 09:42:00 AM | |
Monday, December 18, 2006
Sports Thoughts
  • Does anyone else find the sound effects, voices and other such stupid antics that Chris Boomer and Tom Jackson do on ESPN's The Blitz NFL coverage annoying? I was just watching highlights of the Titans game vs Jacksonville and we were subjected to a bad Irish accent when Cortland Finnegan returned the fumble for a touchdown and the Pac-Man eating pellets sounds when PacMan had the ball. I've honestly found Berman's antics annoying for years and it's getting worse and worse. Who in the world told this guy he was funny? Just show us the highlights, please. Keep the annoying sound effects, voices and names to yourself.
  • It was a good weekend for my teams. The Vols, Lady Vols, Titans and Redskins all won. Merry early Christmas to me.
  • So, going into the Jacksonville game yesterday, I felt pretty sure the Titans were in for a letdown. And while the offense did have an off day, the defense was superb. I am pleased by how the Titans are winning as a team and extremely hopeful for next year. Sure, I'd love to see the Titans make the playoffs this year, but I'm not expecting it despite their success. Honestly, they'd get in and probably hit a wall. I'd rathre see them win out and go into the off-season on a positive note to build on for next year.

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posted by Michael Hickerson at 12/18/2006 07:14:00 AM | |
Friday, December 15, 2006
The busiest time of the year
I think I'm just about Christmas/holiday partied out. I've been to a Christmas party every night this week except Tuesday and I've got another one tonight. Don't get me wrong here--all of them have been a great time and I've enjoyed them all (each for their own reason), but man it just seems like there's a lot of partying going on in my life right now.

And the scary part is that that doesn't include the Christmas/holiday parties I was invited to but for one reason or another wasn't able to make. Last time I counted, there were four of those.

Between all of that, starting a new job and just life in general, I will admit I'm nowhere close to the state of doneness I'd like to be on the Christmas shopping. I thought I'd stop by Toys R Us last weekend to see what they had for my neice. Again, why do I think I will be the only one with this brilliant idea? One look at the parking lot was enough to convince me that going in there would only take me out of the Christmas spirit.

I'll admit I'm having a hard time finding a present for my neice. Part of the problem is I've never been a five-year old girl so I have no idea what is cool to get if you're a five-year-old girl. I do know I want to get her Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (The Gene Wilder version, not the Johnny Depp one) on DVD because we had a good time watching it on cable when I babysat once. (She thinks I have it on DVD and can make the Oompa Loompas magically appear whenever she asks...alas, not the case.) But I haven't found it anywhere for sale. If I don't find it this weekend, it's Amazon.com time.

I will admit I wasn't feeling in the Christmas spirit until last Sunday. It was the big choir cantata at church. I was part of it, ringing the handbells with three pieces, including The Carol of the Bell done by the handbells and sung by a full choir. Just awesome. I'm not even sure Ebeenzer Scrooge could have resisted the Chistmas spirit hearing it. I've got a recording of it which I hope to get posted this weekend for all of you to hear.

I was also kind of giddy to find an .mp3 of Sixpence None the Richer's cover of "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch." Too much fun, I tell you. That reminds me--I watched Frosty and A Charlie Brown Christmas with the neice and nephew last week. I need to watch The Grinch. (The cartoon not the Jim Carey movie) And, of course, the greatest Christmas movie ever made, Christmas Vacation. (Please for the love of all that is good, do NOT watch Christmas Vacation 2).

So many things left to do before Christmas, so little time. But first things first...I've got to get my shopping down this weekend. It will only get more and more insane the longer I let it go.

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posted by Michael Hickerson at 12/15/2006 10:25:00 AM | |
Thursday, December 14, 2006
Book Thoughts: What Came Before He Shot Her
At the end of her last Lynley and Havers novel, Elizabeth George stunned her fans by having the pregnant wife of protagonist Thomas Lynley murdered. The crime was stunning, shocking and signalled a possible end to the Lynley and Havers series.

With her latest novel, George chooses not to continue the story of Lynley and where he'll go next but instead looks at the events that shaped one of the young men who killed the wife of Thomas Lynley.

What Came Before He Shot Her is a departure from the usual George mystery novel. When the novel begins, we know where this journey will end. So instead of figuring out "who done it" we are instead left to examine what series of events led Joel to become the cold-blooded killer we glimpsed briefly in the end of the last novel.

Certainly after all these years, George has earned the right to tell whatever story she wants. She's worked hard to keep the Lynley and Havers series fresh and dynamic and while some of these experiments have worked better than others, the one thing you could always count on from George was a good mystery and some great characters (not just her usual gallery of characters but also all the suspects in the course of the story).

Which is why while I liked What Came Before He Shot Her, I don't think it's up to her usual standards of excellence. For one thing, as hard as George tried, I couldn't find myself really all that compelled to learn more about Joel and his family. I understand her attempt to examine the factors that led Joel down the path to his crime at the end of the novel and the creation of a killer. Joel starts down the path with good intentions, but its circumstances that slowly lead him to that fateful day.

I think part of the problem is that it's hard to identify or like any of these characters. There is a large cast of characters and George does her usual admirable job of making them all unique and their stories readily easy to follow. But none of them is particularily likeable--not even in an anti-hero like way. The only one that comes close is Joel's younger brother, who wanting to protect him is what leads to Joel's walk down the path to destruction. As the novel unfolds, you feel sorry for Joel and understand why he's taking the path he is, but it still never makes him likeable.

Also, one of the treats of a new George novel is the catching up with Lynley, Havers and the rest of her rich cast of characters. With her usual protagonists relegated to nothing more than appearing in the final few pages, the novel loses something. Certainly George can make us care for and about characters involved in the central mystery of her story, but it's the regular cast that makes me return time and again to her novels and enjoy them so much. Also, George has a knack for creating complex, real mysteries that are rarely predicable. Knowing where the story ends takes away some of the joy of the journey. Couple that with George making the characters and situations a bit too cliched and predictable and you come away with a novel that while good, isn't up to her usual standards.

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posted by Michael Hickerson at 12/14/2006 09:22:00 AM | |
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
Superman II: The Donner Cut
For film geeks of my generation, there are two "holy grails" of the 80's that we'd love to see. One if the Eric Stoltz as Marty McFly footage from Back to the Future (Stoltz was replaced by Michael J. Fox after a good chunk of filming took place. The footage is rumored to exist, but was not included on the DVD package a few years ago). The other is the Richard Donner version of Superman II.

For those of you may not know, the original plan was to film Superman and Superman II at the same time to save money, time and having to re-sign the actors to huge contracts should the first one do a huge business at the box-office. However, delays and budgetary overrun led the producers and studio to concentrate on getting the first of the two films into the can and onto the movie screens in an attempt to make back some of the huge amounts of cash the movie was losing.

When it came time to go back to finish filming Superman II, the producers of the first movie fired director Richard Donnor from the project despite the fact that Donner had completed most of the shooting on the sequel (reports vary from Donner claiming he had shot 80% of the film to the producers saying it was more like 20%). A new director was brought in, some scenes were re-filmed and large chunks of the film were changed. Superman II went on to huge commercial success and all fans were left with was speculation, rumors and stories about what could have been had Donner's original vision of the movie been allowed to see the light of day. (Indeed, there was an infamous Starlog article from back at the time of the films release that hinted about the trio of villians toppling the Washington Monument as well as Superman slamming into the Statue of Liberty during the battle in Metropolis).

For years, there have been web sites that detailed the story behind the scenes as well as the differences between what Donner what wanted for the film and what we got on screen. And while fans clamored for the Donner cut, Warner Brothers denied they had the footage and could put together a cut of the film for the fans.

Until now.

Earlier this year, rumors surfaced that with the release of Superman Returns, Warner wanted to find a way to repackage and remarket the Superman catalog. A special edition of the first movie was released a few years ago, along with bare bones releases of the other three films. Rumors went wild that Warner was going to give the fans what they wanted--the Richard Donnor cut of the film. Having heard this before, I was skeptical about it and didn't actually believe the news until the official announcement was made earlier this year. As part of the DVD release of Superman Returns, fans would be treated to the option of seeing the Donnor cut of Superman II. It would be a separate release and while not officially canon, it would be the best chance fans would have to see this version of the film.

I have to admit, as a geek, I was pretty excited by the news.

I will freely admit I've seen the original version of Superman II a good number of times over the years. Freed of the burden of setting up the Superman mythology, the story is fun, fast moving and generally entertaining. I'd even argue that from a pure enjoyment standpoint, Superman II is a better movie than the first one.

But even as a kid seeing Superman II in the theaters and on TV, something always felt off about it. It seemed disjointed at times, especially in the final reel when Superman must defeat the trio of villians and somehow resolve that Lois knows his secret identity (with the infamous "forget me kiss").

Now, at last, we can see as close to the original vision of the movie as we're going to get. And, for the most part, it's a much more satisfying film. For one thing, the entire plot of Lois figuring out that Clark equals Superman is much more satisfying. And the love story between the two is far more satisfying and bittersweet here than it is in the original version. In this version, there is no "forget me kiss", but instead Superman turns back time again (thus making Lois forget while he remembers and reversing the damage done by the trio). This ending works better becuase Lois has a vague idea she's discovered something important but can't recall what it is, while Clark/Superman is left to suffer in silence, knowing the woman he loves could and does love him, but it can never be.

And there's a difference in how the trio are freed from the Phantom Zone. This time it's less random and more a consequence of Superman's actions from the first film. (One of the two missiles that Lex Luthor launched in the first film and he diverted in space shatters the Phantom Zone mirror, freeing the villains). It's not a huge difference, but dramatically it works better.

But the biggest difference in the involvement of Marlon Brando of Jor-El. When Donner was fired, both Brando and Gene Hackman withdrew from the project. Hackman's footage was still used but Brando used his clout to ensure the footage he'd filmed could and wouldn't be used. This lead to Clark/Superman having to debate the decision to give up his powers with his mother, Lara and not Jor-El. For the most part it worked, but having seeing the Brando footage and how the loss of his powers is resolved here (Jor-El sacrfices himself for a second time to restore Clark), the Brando cut is better. The debate between Clark and Jor-El about giving up the powers and then the nobel sacrifice of Jor-El to restore and save his son is more effective.

Of course, there are some other differences which if you've seen the original version you will spot. The cutting of the trio's wake of terror and destruction, counterpointed with Clark and Lois going to the Fortress is a bit different and adds a new layer to the storyline. Seeing Clark willing give up his powers as we counterpoint to the president surrendering to Zod and wondering where Superman has vanished to is a nice touch.

But is this cut perfect? No, not really. As I said before, it's as good as we're going to get. Donner didn't film all of the footage he wanted and it shows. The Donner Cut relies on some screen tests in order to complete the storyline (you can tell because of the editing and the glasses Clark wears). And while these are obvious, you won't mind becuase its where the story takes you.

So, if you're a film fan or a Superman fan, you owe it to yourself to see the Donner cut of Superman II. Technically it may not be perfect, but where it counts (the story, the acting, the way all the pieces fit together and work), it's perfect.

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posted by Michael Hickerson at 12/12/2006 10:31:00 AM | |
Monday, December 11, 2006
TV Round-Up: Battlestar Galactica
The Passage
Maybe the thought of Jane Espenson, a writer from one of my all-time favorite shows (Buffy) writing for one of my current favorite shows set the expectations bar too high for this episode.

I went into this week's Battlestar Galactica, desparately wanting to love this episode. I've been looking forward to this one since I found out Jane Esponson was writing for Battlestar Galactica earlier this summer.

So, imagine how bummed out I feel when I have to say--I really didn't like it.

Don't get me wrong--it's no where in the same neighborhood of bad that "Black Market" was last year.

But in some ways, it committed a bigger sin--"The Passage" was just sort of there. It didn't elicit much more response of me than some of the later season seven episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation did. It wasn't necessarily a horrible way to spend an hour, but it wasn't necessarily a great way to spend an hour. Instead, the episode was just sort of there, full of good ideas, most of which should have grabbed my attention and held it for the duration of the episode, but none of them really ever came together.

I've enjoyed the various plot threads the new Battlestar is willing to explore. I liked that we're exploring the issue of what would happen if the food supply was to dwindle and how Galactica would re-supply itself and the fleet. And, yes, there was an obstacle between the fleet and the raw supplies for food here. But then again, this same plot thread existed back in season one's "Water."

Then you've got the whole subplot on the Cylon ship with D'Anna continuing to commit suicide in order to download. At least we got a nugget of information that she's trying to see the five faces of the other skin-job models. But it seemed like the whole plotline was brought up including Baltar's finding out about it and then summarily dropped. As I think back on the episode, did we even cut to the Cylon fleet in the final act? It does bring up an interesting dynamic that D'Anna trusts Baltar more than the other Cylon models, but is that trust well founded? The guy did betray his entire race to the Cylons, so what exactly makes you think he's not going to betray you to get ahead? I mean, based on his pattern of behavoir, there is only one person Baltar cares about and that is Gaius Baltar. He can change sides in a conflict quickly and will do so if he thinks it will lead to his continued self-preservation. So, why does D'Anna trust him? And what will Baltar do with this information? And is D'Anna headed toward being the sixth Cylon skin-job to be boxed? And if close to half the skin-jobs have to be boxed, what does this say about being a skin-job?

And then we have the Kat plotline. I get that Battlestar is trying to do what Deep Space Nine did and have a rich tapestry of supporting characters. And, for the most part, it does. But I don't think Kat was necessarily going to be one of them. For one thing, she was brought in as a mirror to Starbuck, which worked well in the episodes we saw with Kat last year. And while Ron Moore and company had an opportunity to make her more than just the "anti-Starbuck" earlier this year when Starbuck was down on New Caprica, I think they dropped the ball big time on it. So, here we get to a storyline where we find out that Kat isn't show she says she is and she's got a terrible secret from the past. And before you can say "redemption" Kat is driven by guilt to redeem herself, even at the cost of her own life. Which this all could have been good if it hadn't all come up five minutes before. Yes, we had hints on how driven Kat was, as we saw with her issue with stims (thanks to the "Previously on..." we are reminded of this), but other than that, none of this was all that well set up or excecuted. It almost felt like they wanted to find a way to kill off a character and went, "Well, why not do Kat?"

At least last year when Billy was killed off, he'd had a character arc and his motivation was a complex one. Here with Kat, it just seemed a bit too one-note. Which, considering how rich the tapestry that is Battlestar Galactica ususally is, that's a big shame. Also, considering how rich the character backstory could have been for Kat had they dropped these hints all along or even developed her a bit this season, it seems even more of a shame.

It still was not a horrible episode though. It was a bit misguided and bit too much of the "been there, done that" syndrome, but it wasn't terrible. It wasn't a complete and utter waste of an episode nor was it exactly breaking any new ground. It was just content to tread water, holding time and having plotlines revolve without any movement forward. Maybe it's designed to make us catch our breath for big things to come next week. I hope so. I can forgive one down week in a season and certainly Ron Moore and company have shown the ability to bounce back. Let's just hope they bounce back this week.

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posted by Michael Hickerson at 12/11/2006 12:34:00 PM | |

Well, that's frustrating
Being the book geek I am, I've signed up for a few book related newsletters. One of them is a sci-fi newsletter highlighting recently published books or novels by new authors that might be of interest.

The newsletter comes out approximately once a month.

And every month I seem to have the same frustration with it. I will read the write-up of a new sci-fi novel, be intrigued enough to want to give it a try and then click on the link to reserve the book. Only to find, nine times out of ten, the library system doesn't have the book.

Talk about frustrating....

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posted by Michael Hickerson at 12/11/2006 11:24:00 AM | |
Sunday, December 10, 2006
The legend continues to grow
I feel like a Cubs fan every week as I say, "Just wait 'til next year..."

But unlike the Cubs fans, I think we Titans fans have a good reason for optimism as we head into the final weeks of the season and next the '07 football campaign.

Add another page to the growing legend of Vince Young. The man just seems to thrive in the fourth quarter. Today, he took it to a new level in overtime, helped by Adam "Pacman" Jones who seems to be making headlines on the field instead of off the field...thank goodness. (I had a cousin at my grandfather's visitation tell me one of his sports heroes was Pacman and then he quickly added--on the field, only, not off. Which is a good thing).

How awesome was the run to end it? As Vince took off and blew past Houston defenders as he got to the 20, I said, "It's over, he's gonna score."

Vince Young--you are da man. Floyd Reece and Jeff Fisher owe you a dinner because you have single-handedly pulled their fat out of the fire and and ensured that neither of them will be fired at season's end.

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posted by Michael Hickerson at 12/10/2006 07:20:00 PM | |
Saturday, December 09, 2006
Oh that is great...
So, Alabama has a coaching vacancy, hoping to upgrade from Mike Shula. And so far, every attempt they've made to upgrade has failed. Their "A-list" was Steve "I am evil" Spurrier and Nick Saben, both of whom had no interest. So, they went to "Plan B" with Rich Rodriguez, who mulled the offer and decided to stay at West Virginia.

As a Tennessee fan, I can only love the Tide's futility in trying to find their next coach. I keep hearing how Bama is this great job and a great football school. But if it is such a great job, then why is everyone passing on the job?

All I can do is sit back and as each day passes, do my best Nelson Muntz, "Ha, ha!"

posted by Michael Hickerson at 12/09/2006 07:29:00 AM | |
Friday, December 08, 2006
Small universe
One of the cool things about starting a new job is you get to meet lots of new people.

One of the bad things, if you're me, is that I am horrible with names and have, thus, forgotten about half of the people I've met so far.

But just today I've been kind of blown away by the whole small world thing.

Walking into a meeting, I was introduced to someone. He looked at me, heard my name and saw I have on a sedate orange dress shirt and said, "Are you the guy who has a UT blog that is named Big Orange?"

Blogging....it makes the universe smaller, I tell you. Kind of ironic considering what I posted about the lonely factor a few days ago.

Then, in another meeting, I was introduced to a woman who looked at me and said, "I knew you from church back in Knoxville" I looked at her again and it took a few seconds for it to register who she was when I knew her--she's since married and changed her last name, which kind of threw me at first. So, it was nice to see someone and catch up a bit on the good ol' days at Bearden UMC.

And I keep thinking to myself--small world and you just never know who you're gonna run into...

posted by Michael Hickerson at 12/08/2006 04:10:00 PM | |

Random TV Thoughts
  • Former Mutant Enemy scribe Jane Espenson is the writing talent behind tonight's all new Battlestar Galactica. Somewhere, deep down, my inner geek is doing a happy dance and beyond excited about seeing what unfolds tonight in the greatness that is Battlestar Galactica. I think I'd spontaneously combust with joy if she somehow got to do some podcast commentary with Ron Moore.
  • So, I've watched the first two episodes of Scrubs' sixth season and it feels like they're trying too hard. The thing I love about Scrubs is how it switches from the absurdness to the seriousness without seeming too cloying or obvious. The last two episodes seem like they've been trying way too hard. And when you have to work hard to bring the funny from Dr Cox, something is not right.


posted by Michael Hickerson at 12/08/2006 11:47:00 AM | |
Thursday, December 07, 2006
Britney wants some slack
Britney Spears posted a message on her web site today, asking all of us to cut her some slack.

"It's been so long since I've been out on the town with friends. It's also been 2 years since I've celebrated my birthday," she writes addressing oodles of ink spilled recently about her busy nightlife. "Every move I make at this point has been magnified more than I expected, and I probably did take my new found freedom a little too far."

You know, I'd be willing to cut Ms. Spears some slack if she wasn't the one who sought out the celebrity spotlight so. She's the first to complain when the image she projects in unflattering, but she's also sought out the spotlight throughout her career.

And it's kind of hard to feel too sorry for her. Britney can have an entourage around her to help with things when the single mom things get tough, which is a perk I'd say 99.9% of the rest of the single parents of the world don't have. The fact that you can't go out clubbing with your BFF as much as you'd like doesn't really seem that big a deal when I know there are single parents out there who struggle with silly things like providing enough food for the kids or finding a job with benefits that are affordable so the kids can have funny things like vaccinations and proper medical care. Yeah, B, you've got it real tough there...

posted by Michael Hickerson at 12/07/2006 03:33:00 PM | |

UT beats Memphis...in basketball.
When it comes to men's basketball at Tennessee, I'm still a bit jaded. I know we did well last year and I can see where the team has the potential to be really good for more than one year, but you couldn't have convinced me of that yesterday.

Memphis is a basketball school and going into last night's game, I was hopeful to see Tennessee win but not expecting a victory. I was just hoping we'd make it respectable.

So, when the Vols got down 5-0, I had a bad feeling. And then, it all started to click for the Vols.

And we won--and not just by a few points, but by 18.

That's a lot against a quality opponent like Memphis.

And suddenly I find myself optimistic about Tennessee men's basketball. I find myself thinking that last year wasn't just a fluke and they weren't just teasing me. That we may, finally have a good men's basketball team this year.

I'm feeling optimistic....which is right about the time in the past the team has always let me down.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 12/07/2006 03:08:00 PM | |
Wednesday, December 06, 2006
Will this song ever end?!?
We had a new instructor (new to us, anyway) for spin class tonight. She was pretty good, but she was really into pushing up hills the size of Mt Everest.

One of the songs she chose to use was Prince's Purple Rain which is a song that just never seems to end. It teases you for about three solid minutes of building to a crescendo but never quite reaching it.

As if I needed one more reason to dislike the artist formerly known as Prince....this pretty much cemented it.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 12/06/2006 07:59:00 PM | |

Looking forward, looking back
Today would have been my grandfather's 93rd birthday. He passed away one week short of it, though as he'd say, "Ninety-two year is nothing to sneeze at."

I can only hope that I can live long with relative good health. It was only the past few years that his health really went on the decline. It's one of the motivations to my working out as much as I do and being so committed to it.

At the visitation and funeral, he was surrounded by family and friends, which is how he'd have wanted it. Granddaddy held his relationship with God, his family and his country in the highest esteem and all were supremely important to him. And the visitation and service celebrated and remembered those.

In some ways, I was reminded of how blessed I am. Not just those family and friends who made the journey to Smyrna for his funeral and visitation last weekend, but all of those friends and family on-line who sent a note, commented or just called to see how I was. The offers of listening ears and shoulders to cry on were appreciated more than you can ever know. I may not have taken all of you up on it, but please know it was greatly appreciated. And some of them came at just the right time, when I needed them most. I only hope that I can be the kind of friend to all those who showed friendship to me in the times you need it.

I have admit the funeral service hit me hard. And I kind of stayed in a funk most of rest of Saturday and Sunday. I was a bit emotional and even cried a bit when the Titans won. Don't get me wrong--I was eccstatic to see it but I don't think it's the only reason I cried. I mean, sure I wept openly when UT beat Arkansas in '98 but that was the Vols....and it cemented our chance to play for a national championship. I still get a bit misty thinking about it...

But, I digress.

I know it's pretty standard that when someone passes on, that people remind you of how fragile life is. How precious each day is and how it's a gift from God. And how you shouldn't let another second pass without making sure the people in your life who you care about know how you feel. And how we shouldn't take anyone or anything for granted becuase it could be here one second and gone the next. I don't think I need to tell any of you that and I'm sure you already know. But maybe I need to be reminded of it a bit. I think back on people I've known and while I knew how I felt about them, did I tell them? Did I find the right words? Did my actions show it?

But in the midst of all one story ending, another one was beginning for me. For those of you who may not know, I recently was offered and accepted a new job. I started last Friday. I have to say that while I really liked my old job, this one is just energizing me in new ways. And I will tell you--this job was a long time coming. It was a lot of prayers, blood, sweat and tears. And I'm just eccstatic to be where I am now. It's a dream job and I have to pinch myself sometimes to thinking, "Wow, this is your job now..."

So, that's kind of where I am. No big, earth-shattering conclusions for you. Just some random thoughts by me. But then again, what'd you expect from this blog?

posted by Michael Hickerson at 12/06/2006 12:38:00 PM | |
Tuesday, December 05, 2006
TV Round-Up
Battlestar Galactica: Unfinished Business
Upon learning the premise for this one--Galactica holds a big boxing tournament to let off steam--I thought maybe we'd be in for this year's version of "Black Market." But leave it to Ron Moore and company to take what could have been a forgetable and throw-away concept for an episode and instead actually make it into something interesting, compelling and character driven.

The last new episode, we saw that Adama blamed himself for the start of the war. Here we see it goes deeper--he blames himself for going soft, for allowing his family and crew's happiness to take priority over survival. It's one reason when the Cylons showed up at New Caprica, the crew had to leave in order to be able to come back and save everyone. You can feel the weight of the deaths of every person on New Caprica hang heavily across Adama in this one. He feels he's become too lax, too friendly with the troops and he has to do something to get back there. I'm not sure letting Tyrol beat him up was the best way to do it, but it did get everyone's attention. It also made me wonder--way back in "Kobol's Last Gleaming, Part 1" we saw Adama sparring with Lee. And he seemed a more able fighter then. I realize it's been over a year in terms of the passage of time on the show, but did Adama go that soft? Or did he take our some of his anger at the Chief in the fight and then allow himself to be beat up to make a point?

And did he earn the respect of the crew as much as he thinks? Will there now be some who doubt him because of his appearing weak?

Meanwhile, we finally get some filling in the blanks of what happened with Apollo and Starbuck. You have to feel sorry for both Dee and Anders, since they're the second choice for both parties. We've seen Starbuck has a predilection for taking anything good and trying to screw it up. It's interesting that real feelings scare her so--to the point she disconnects enough from Anders to only use him for sex and then move on. I wonder how much of that stems from her love for the younger Adama, who she was engaged to. Is she afraid of being hurt again, by allowing herself to be vulnerable? In many ways, she has the upper hand in the relationship with Anders. She is the one who can and does hurt him, but in a relationship with Lee, she stand a good chance of being hurt. And that seems to scare her. Also, Lee doesn't need resucing as Anders did. And maybe Starbuck likes being needed in that way. She doesn't know what to do without a war to fight, as we found out last season.

And then there's Lee. He allowed himself to go soft, literally after Kara married Sam. Now we see why Lee might have gained all that weight and it's interesting to see how this could be a motivation for him to take the weight off. And where does this leave things with Dualla? Will she play second fiddle to Starbuck? The two obviously reached a new place in their friendship/relationship, so where does this leave their current romantic partners? After all, they are both still married to other people, though how long that lasts we have yet to see. Will Dee actually put up a fight to keep Lee? And will they be happy to be together should the obstacles between them fall?

So, while the episode itself wasn't exactly new ground or wonderful, character wise it really worked. And it's interesting that while there's not one Cylon attack or space battle, the storyline is still just as rivetting and edge of your seat. I loved the way we worked the flashbacks and how the whole picture was slowly revealed.

Could have been a bad episode, but instead turned out to be pretty darn good. I should know by now to trust the genius that is Ron Moore.

Heroes: Fallout
I kept hearing how this one was supposed to resolve the "Save the cheerleader, save the world" plotline. But yet, coming away from "Fallout" I'm not sure we got the closure to this plotline we were promised. Nor do I feel like we know if or how they saved the right cheerleader. How do we know? Will we ever know? Or has the show now moved on to Peter's vision of the future, in which he explodes?

Now, this brings up an interesting question...so, earlier in the episode, we saw Sylar enter Peter's nightmare and speak to him. Does this mean becuase the two had such close contact and can absorb powers from other such gifted individuals that they are now connected in some way? Or is it a one-way street where Sylar can come inside Peter's mind only? I can see how this connection might be useful if, down the road, Peter is able to use this ability to track down Sylar.

Which brings me back to my point. So, was Peter seeing his future or Sylar's? Can we assume Sylar might find the radiation guy, take his power and then self-destruct, thus bringing about the future that now both Hiro and Peter have seen?

It's a lot to sit back and contemplate until January, isn't it?

But that's not all there was to consider. We've also got the plotline of HRG and how far he'll go to protect and hide Claire. It makes me wonder why he's going to such lengths. Is he under orders to do so and who is giving these orders? And why? Also, it's interesting that Claire's mom gets mind-wiped every few weeks and now her brother is in on it. Do you wonder if Claire has been mind-wiped a few times before? Could it be she's been discovering and re-discovering her powers several times over for the past couple of years? And why does the Haitian now decide that Claire should remember, if that is true?

And we see how committed HRG is to whoever is giving the orders agenda. He won't allow Eden to suggest Sylar kill himself--but why not? Seems to me that having Sylar around is a pretty bad idea. And I do wonder--did the Haitian allow Sylar to escape? Why would Eden go into the room without knowing Sylar's powers could be negated? And how did Sylar work up to smashing the glass to get her? Did he do like Matt and push hard to be allowed to use one part of his power?

But now Eden is gone....at least we're supposed to assume she's dead. Or will Sylar be able to use remnants of her brain to gain some of her power? And with her power of suggestion, just how much more unstoppable does this make him?

A lot of good things happening here. But there was one negative--the whole Niki/Jessica plotline. Every time we cut back to it, I got bored. I just didn't care and never could work up much enthusiasm for this plotline. It really went no where very slowly.

But I guess one bad plotline in a show with at least three other great ones can't be that bad. And give Heroes credit--it's got me curious to see what comes next. And not just becuase Christopher Eccleston will start a run on the show when it returns.

Not that it hurts things, mind you.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 12/05/2006 09:16:00 PM | |

The Loneliest Time of the Year.
There's a new study out that shows Americans are creating fewer friendship and becoming lonelier. As a society, we're down from having an average of three confidants per person in 1985 to have two these days.

It's interesting that the these results come out during the holiday season, which can exacerbate the problem a bit. It seems I can barely turn on the television set these days without seeing that blasted "Every kiss begins with Kay" commercial in which some guy gets the woman in his life a diamond something and they gaze at each longingly, looking totally fulfilled within the relationship. Oh yeah, and then they kiss.

Ha, ha, single person, it seems to say. See what you are totally missing out on.

On a serious note, one thing I do wonder about this marvel that is the Internet--it promises us all a better way to connect. According to the umpteen SPAM mailings I get a day, my ultimate connection whether it be love or just satisfying my lust for an evening or two is only a click away. But I do wonder if that makes it so we're more disconnected than before. If I blog or use MySpace or any of those other social networks, I can connect with other people. With the use of instant messengers, I can exchange in real time discussions with friends, regardless of distance. Plug in a microphone to my computer and I can chat using my own voice and hear the voice of the person on the other end. I can download podcasts so I can hear discussions by people about a variety of topics and even leave a voice mail or two to contribute to the debate.

In all of that, I can feel pretty connected or like I've got a whole bunch of friends just out there and ready to talk. And don't get me wrong--I love and appreciate my friends made via blogging and other Internet outlets. But what about when I want to catch a movie, grab a bite to eat or have companionship while consuming an adult beverage (cause if you drink alone too much, you're just an alcoholic)? Do I have that connection then?

It's something I've thought a lot about--long before this study's results were made public. And I have often wondered--as the world gets smaller and smaller does the distance between us relationship wise get larger and larger?

posted by Michael Hickerson at 12/05/2006 11:30:00 AM | |
Monday, December 04, 2006
Another miracle in the Music City
Leading up to yesterday's game, I didn't believe. I had no faith the Titans could follow the huge victory last week with anything but a letdown this week. Add to it that it was Peyton "I am a god among men" Manning and the Colts in town and I kept thinking, "Well, that was fun while it lasted."

Come Monday, all the good vibes and positive buzz from the Titans victory last week would be gone. Instead, it'd be the same old story of disappointment, bitterness and wondering "what if"

I guess the Titans missed the memo.

I thought nothing could top last week's game.

I was wrong.

A sixty-yard field goal to win it. That's imposible, unheard of, shouldn't happen. But yet it did.

It was a game that was the exact opposite of last week's--instead of being dominated for three quarters, the Titans dominated for three quarters.

I wasn't at the game yesterday. I was at the Y, watching the second half while working out. There was a buzz, an awe, a sense of wonder and enthusiam as the game unfolded. I saw people wander by the TV, from swimming and see the score. Smiles were exchanged. And as the final moments ticked on the clock, there was a huge crowd. As one time out after another was called, there was a hush. I heard someone say, "Come on, just let him kick the blasted thing."

You could have heard a pin drop as the play unfolded. The kick was up, on the way, sailing toward the end zone. The cynic inside tried to tell me it'd fall short, they'd tease me and not make it. I should just look away and get ready for overtime. But then, the ball kept sailing..it had the distance...it had the speed....and it was GOOD!

Tears welled up in my eyes, my fist pumped the air and I shouted "Yeeeeeeeeeeeeeessssssssssss!" Sweaty people hugged, there were shouts of joy. I had to wipe tears off my face, hoping no one noticed the crazy man, crying over the Titans winning. I doubt anyone noticed because they were all too busy going crazy.

Now, I've heard some talk of playoffs, which while it's great to think about, I am not going to count on it. But what I say to that is--recall the year before we went to the Super Bowl, we went 8-8. And I can see that pattern holding true as we finish this year and head into the next.

I'm calling it now: Redskins vs Titans in the Super Bowl 42!

posted by Michael Hickerson at 12/04/2006 02:33:00 PM | |
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