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Saturday, April 28, 2007
NFL Draft
There's nothing like the NFL draft to spread ten minutes of excitement over two days of long, drawn out blustering.

I love the NFL and I love football. I will admit I'm intrigued to know who my favorite teams (Redskins, Titans) will pick and how that might address needs they have. (Though if you're the Redskins, it seems they've given up on the draft, trading away all their picks to try and assemble some kind of fantasy football-like team at the whim of Dan Snyder). And there's some interest to see where certain UT players might go and if I can root for them to do well in the pros. (If they go to Dallas or Baltimore, I cannot root for them....it's just wrong to pull for either of those teams).

As a Titans fan, I found myself wishing they'd pick Robert Meachem just because a)he played for the greatest college team in the known universe and b)they need someone for Vince Young to throw the ball to. But that didn't happen....oh well.

The thing is now that we're halfway through the draft, we can start turning out attention toward getting through the long summer and toward the great days of late August and early September when football returns....

It cannot come soon enough.

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posted by Michael Hickerson at 4/28/2007 09:52:00 PM | |

TV Round-Up
Lost: D.O.C.
I know there are some fans out there who just love flashbacks to Sun and Jin, but if I never see another one again, it will be too soon. Wait, let me clarify that--if we never see a flashback of their relationship and/or marriage before they came to the island, I will be happy. Honestly, I think we've gone to this well one too many times now and its really starting to show.

So, Sun was being blackmailed by Jin's prostitute mother who wasn't even really certain if Jin's father was really the father. Sun goes to her dad, asks for money to keep from embrarrassing her husband and gets Jin on the path toward being a bigger part of the family business. This path is what leads to the estrangement of their marraige and Sun sleeping with another guy who Jin later pursuades to throw himself off a hotel balcony. I get what the producers are trying to do here but at this point, I'm not sure we can go back to this same series of events again and mine any more significance or details out of it.

And I get that part of it was to show how much like his father Jin would be had the baby turned out not to be his. I don't think it would count one bit in Jin's loving and raising the child, just as the question of who his father was didn't make a different to his father in the long-run. The fathers would still love their children.

I did like that the show confirmed that Jin is the father, though that isn't what I'd call definitive. For all we know, it's another way Juliet is playing the group in order to gain some trust. Finding out she's a double-agent has put anything she does or says into serious doubt. And why did Sun let her go back inside alone so she could send the secret message to Ben.

Apparently, Juliet's mission is find out if any of the group from the plane can bear children, which fits into the whole theory I've had for a while that the Others are obsessed with the children.

Meanwhile in the headscratcher department, the Russian shows back up, feeling no ill effects from being, well, dead. So, at this point, my mind got to thinking--does the island have some kind of regenerative powers that it can give to people? Apparently if your injuries aren't too severe, it can heal you, though it looked like Russian guy was pretty messed up last time we saw him. Following this trail of logic, is this the explanation for why the women can't conceive and bear children. Does whatever is "healing" people see the babies as some kind of virus or something to be cured, and is thus healing the mothers by killing the babies? If that's what it turns out to be, you can credit me with the theory, though I doubt I am the first person to consider it or postulate it.

Also lucky for us, the Russian has had medical training and speaks all the languages the new girl speaks. Again, if he translated everything correctly, I'll eat my hat. He does have good reason to lie and cover things up. I don't think she was as thankful as he made it out to be.

But the big news is that the plane crashed with no survivors....though that could be some kind of lie as well.

I really have no idea what or who to believe anymore on this show. Maybe the show will start providing some definitive answer to some of these puzzles soon...or at least gives us clues from very reliable sources.

24: Day Six, 12 - 1 a.m.
Hey, remember when there used to be this guy on 24 named Jack Bauer, who was, oh I don't know, the star of the show.

If you'd just tuned in this season, you'd wonder if this was some kind of ensemble show instead of the Jack Bauer kicks terrorist booty and takes name hour. Has there ever been a day of 24 that had less Jack per average episode than this one?

This week, Jack runs off, makes a deal with the Chinese and then waits around for them to show up. Oh please, don't make me get up to get a drink for fear of missing something.

Seriously, what the heck has happened this year?

Oh and let me do my happy dance that I called that the Chinese would somehow get hold of the triggering device and run off with it, thus leaving Jack to pursue them. I am thankful they will only chase it now for the next five or so hours and not all of next season. I can't wait to see Jack go mano-a-mano with the guy who has held him prisoner and tortured him for the past 18 months. That could be a great epiosde...

Assuming we can cut away from the White House drama long enough to show it. So, Daniels and the woman from Invasion are hooking up. And they dance around like this is some great secret, when I think Secret Service is fully aware of it. I guess maybe it being secret makes it more exciting for them. I hope it's exciting for someone, because watching these two kiss and paw each other in the Oval Office is almost as creepy as Milo putting the move on Nadia a few weeks ago. Seriously, has there been less romantic chemistry between two characters ever?

The most interesting plot thread in all of this is Karen has to fire Bill. Man, that was well done. Seems that Bill is low man on the "we have to blame someone" totem pole and gets the axe. And Karen has to axe him. Bill's slow burn and anger at this news was perfectly done and I bet we have not seen the last of him. I still contend he's the real CTU mole this year, but that is only because I refuse to let that theory go, no matter what evidence to the contrary the show gives me. It does set things up now for Bill to head out, help Jack out in the field and kick some serious Chinese booty.

Of course, the thing with Jack is that no matter what happens he always seems to pay some price...this time it appears that Audrey has been brainwashed. (Yeah, like that took much). I found myself recalling other shows that included the ability to copy people and wondering if this was a model whipped up to look like Audrey, programmed with a few key phrases and sent to draw Jack out into the open....all while the real Audrey is somewhere else. Yeah, I'm not even sure 24 would go that absurd...

Or would they?

Heroes: .07%
So, we waited five weeks for.....that? The big fight between Sylar and Peter lasts all of ten seconds. I was pretty stoked for it, what with Tim Kring and everyone talking about how great it was in all the publicity leading up to the return of the show. Color me officially disappointed on that count.

And pretty much disappointed overall with the episode as a whole. I think a lot of it is that we got our characters to certain places to end the last run of episodes and now this episode is burdened with getting things moving again.

We got a lot of hints of things to come, though it's interesting to see that Linderman doesn't want to stop the coming explosion, but embrace it as creating the future. It opens up the debate of if we can change the future at all or is it set in how some big things will play out? It should be interesting to see next week if Hiro and Ando can find Issac, since the last time Hiro jumped forward Issac had just been killed. And now with Issac being dead now, how has that changed things in the future? And I do wonder--seeing future Hiro come out and talk to his past self--is future Hiro necessarily on our side? Could his idealism have been corrupted somehow?

The future and how it plays out played a big role this week--from Nathan's refusal to accept that Peter could be dead because that's not what the paintings showed to the way Linderman has embraced what is to come. I wonder if Linderman as a threat will be dealt with this season or if he's more a long-term villain to the show. (I guess it all depends on the availability of Malcolm McDowell in the role....)

I wanted to like the episode and there were some parts I did. Mama Patrellis' revelation that she was once part of some kind of team with powers was intriguing and leaves some doors open to future exploration. Also, Nathan's contemplation about the inevitable nature of his destiny was nice.

But overall, the epiosde was just OK and not the strong return from hiatus I was hoping for...

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posted by Michael Hickerson at 4/28/2007 10:18:00 AM | |
Friday, April 27, 2007
Interview Meme Answers
Tish has the latest round of the interview meme on her blog. She was looking for volunteers and since we all know that the Big Orange are volunteers, I stepped up to the plate.

1. If you could bring back any old television show (with all new episodes!), what would it be?
If you'd asked me this before they brought back Doctor Who, that would have been my answer. (It is my favorite show of all time). I'm torn here between bringing back classic Star Trek though with the caveat that it be under the producership of Gene Coon and bringing back Seinfeld.

2. Do you believe in ghosts? Why or why not?
I belive in the Holy Ghost, but I don't believe in the supernatural type of ghosts. I just believe we go to a better place after we die and don't hang around here.

3. What is your favorite movie and why?
This is one of those answers that changes depending on which one of two I've seen more recently. It's either The Searchers or Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. Both are just great movies that always entertain me and I always find something new each time I view them. Also, both have lead actors who a lot of critics dismiss but who turn in great peformances in the movies, proving they can act. (John Wayne and William Shatner)

4. If you could transform into a superhero, who would you be?
Spider-Man. It would be awesome to swing around on a web line, stick to walls and that spider-sense to warn you of danger would be awesome.

5. What is your most memorable birthday?
I am fortunate to have had many memorable birthdays--and except for one, all the memories are good. But one I recall as a personal favorite was my first b'day at UT. Sunday afternoons we had Sunday lunch at the Wesley Foundation. My parents surprised me by sending some money to Barry and Laura to purchase a cake and surprise me. I had no idea. Plus, Laura made sure to get a Redskins cake because I was (and am) a huge Redskins fan. This was the last time they were in the Super Bowl.

Thanks to Tish for the great questions. I enjoyed taking part. If anyone out there wants me to interview you, just drop a note in the comments field and I'll come up with five questions.


posted by Michael Hickerson at 4/27/2007 08:29:00 AM | |
Monday, April 23, 2007
What a difference a week makes
A couple of weeks ago, the handbell choir began work on a piece called "Make Me an Instrument of Thy Peace."

The piece is dedicated in memory of the victims of Columbine and all other victims of senseless violence.

I noticed the dedication when we first got the piece and it caught my eye last week as we were getting ready to play. I remember thinking about how nice it was that nothing like had happened since that sad afternoon at Columbine.

And then last Monday happened...

In the wake of trying to make sense of it all, the dedication slipped my mind.

Until last night as we got ready to practice the piece. And those words jumped out at me.

We'd decided last week to play the song and another this Sunday during worship. I don't think any of us had any idea how appropriate the piece would be now nor who appropriate the dedication would become.

I'd honestly hoped this sort of senseless tragedy and violence was behind us...but, I guess it's not.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 4/23/2007 03:02:00 PM | |
Sunday, April 22, 2007
Sports thoughts
Well, the Vols got swept by Vandy this weekend in baseball...which sucks! After Vandy dropped two games to lesser teams mid-week, I had hopes the Vols could pull off a couple of upsets. But then again, it goes to show how in college baseball, you build around the weekend series. I have a feeling the pitching match-ups were better and higher calibre to play the Vols where it really mattered more. After all, the best way to punch a ticket to the NCAA field is to get into the SEC Tournmaent and win some games there.

Not to discredit the wins by MTSU or Lipscomb that much, but I wonder if they caught Vandy in a lull between SEC weekends when the pitching staff and team was trying to work out some issues...

Oh well, we still lost and I'm still a bit depressed about it.

I attended a Nashville Kats game last night and I have to say it was a ton of fun. The Kats won, which I have to admit adds to the level of fun just a bit. We were one point from getting free tacos and while I understand why from a football perspective you ice the game with an extra point, it still might been fun to see them go for two so I can save eighty-nine cents at Taco Bell. (Oh wait, the Taco Bell in Smyrna stinks...so maybe they saved me...)

It was a pretty sparse crowd--an announced crowd of just over 8000. But there were a few times it sounded louder in there. The Kats put on a good show overall and I felt the ticket price was really quite reasonable. And I got a cap and a free t-shirt so it's an even greater value...

I do wonder--why have the Kats not been as embraced? Or was it just last night's game with so many other sports events going on this weekend?

Or was everyone still depressed that the Preds choked down the stretch yet again....

posted by Michael Hickerson at 4/22/2007 07:38:00 PM | |
Friday, April 20, 2007
Sold out
Tried to take in the Vols vs Vandy baseball game....it was sold out.

Figured I'd see if there were any Preds tickets...sold out.

Good for Nashville, not good for me.

So, came home and figured to watch the Preds game on cable.

And saw the funniest sign during pre-game. A fan is holding up a sign that says "Did we give up after the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor?" in an attempt to encourage the Preds and the fans.

Problem is, the last time I studied my history book, it wasn't the Germans who bombed Pearl Harbor.

Guess he missed that part of the big Michael Bay movie a few years ago...

posted by Michael Hickerson at 4/20/2007 08:10:00 PM | |

The Vols are in town!
The UT baseball team is in town tonight to start a big three-game series with the number-one ranked Vanderbilt Commodores.

I've issued a call to any bloggers in the Middle Tenenssee area who'd like to meet up at and take in the game this evening. First pitch is just after 7 p.m. this evening and the weather forecast looks good for an evening of baseball.

So, if you want to come out and join us, I'll be out at the stadium between 6:30 and 6:45. Tickets are seven bucks for the bleachers section.

I'll be the one wearing orange.

Hope you can make it!

posted by Michael Hickerson at 4/20/2007 09:07:00 AM | |

Why do I blog? Meme
The other day, Tish tagged me with "Why Do You Blog" meme.

So, in no particular order, here we go:
  • I enjoy the community of friends in the blogsphere--not only locally, but all over the nation and world.
  • It's an easy way to keep up with those friends without having to send out 1700 e-mails.
  • It gives me a chance to channel my inner TV critic.
  • It's cheaper than therapy.
  • It's a nice way to capture where I am in a moment and then to reflect back on it later.
I am supposed to tag five people to carry on the fun, but from looking around I think a lot of you already have done it or have been tagged. So, if you want to join in the meme and haven't been tagged, consider this a tag.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 4/20/2007 08:59:00 AM | |

TV Round-Up
24: Day Six, 11 p.m. - 12 a.m.
I sometimes have to remind myself that it's best to just turn off my brain and go with the flow when it comes to 24. But then sometimes the show does things that just make me scratch my head and go--huh?

The big one this week was Wayne Palmer calling a press-conference at what would have been after 3 a.m. EST. I can understand he wants to address the American public and tell them the nuclear threat is gone, but who is going to be up to hear this live? And I find it equally debateable the entire White House press corp would be working at that time of night. Of course, you can argue it is a crisis and such but they're still human and would get tired. Plus I can't imagine why Wayne wouldn't wait a few hours until a bigger majority of the country is awake.

I guess he's just going after that insomniac vote.

That said, there was some good stuff happened this week. Jack calling the "you owe me card" on Wayne was nice, though we knew it was only a matter of time before Jack went rogue. Seeing Chloe help Jack out and break into Morris's computer for the information was nice.

Jack's pulling every string imaginable to somehow try and free Audrey was nice, though I doubt we'll ever see him sacrifice himself. That said, I hope the threat next year isn't the Chinese having the piece that Jack removed from the suitcase nukes. I think the idea of tying the two days as closely together as has been done with seasons five and six has been more of a negative than a positive to the show. I think next year we need a cleaner slate when we start the threat to civilization as we know it for the seventh day of 24.

Lost: Catch 22
The last Desmond episode was my favorite Lost episode of the season, so naturally I was really looking forward to this one.

And while it was good, it was no where nearly as satisfying as the first one.

Some thoughts on the Desmond storyline. The flashbacks refer to the Biblical story of Abraham, who was called upon by God to sacrfice his son as an act of faith. Abraham did this because of his faith in God and "passed" the "test."

So, how does this tie into Desmond's saving Charlie? Is Desmond's saving Charlie every time from death failing or passing the test? I'm not quite sure, though it's clear that Desmond believes he's failing the test. The question is, would Charlie have possibly saved himself had Desmond not shouted out for him to duck? Are these visions more about Charlie's salvation that Desmond's?

It's an interesting question and a nice way to tie the flashbacks to what's happening on the island.

Also of interest is the fact that the helicopter seems to jam when it gets close to the island. Is that part of what lead the plane to crash? Is there some kind of jamming field near the island? Or maybe it is out of control now with the hatch's destruction?

And who is this new woman in the helicopter? I'm assuming she's with Penny somehow, looking for Desmond. Is Penny somehow aware that Desmond is alive somewhere? We saw last week the news reports that Oceanic 813 had disappeared and wasn't presumed to have crashed. So, did the pulse serve as some kind of signal to Penny to send out people looking for Desmond? And is her father somehow tied into Desmond's exile to the island?

I think the new girl is tied to Penny somehow. I think the clue is the novel was translated into Portuguese and we've heard some of the people who work for Penny talking Portuguese. Also, why have the picture of the two together if not tied to Penny somehow

Meanwhile, back at camp, the whole love square of Sawyer/Kate/Jack/Juliet continues to...well, honestly take up valuable screen time from other more interesting stories. It's like we've been exiled to middle school here with this plotline.

I thought maybe we'd have some challenge to Jack's perception as the leader by Sawyer when Sawyer walked up....instead it was let's play ping-pong and fill in details on what Kate slept with me. Ugh, please...make it stop.

I think it's that that storyline that really drug down the episode from being really and truly great.

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posted by Michael Hickerson at 4/20/2007 08:43:00 AM | |
Wednesday, April 18, 2007
Small universe
When I visited the UT campus in the summer of '91 for my freshman orientation, an unusual thing happened. In the same orientation group that I was part of, there was another freshman who shared my last name.

Now, I don't have what you'd call a fairly common last name--I'm not a Smith or a Jones, for example. So meeting another family with the same last name was pretty interesting and noteworthy for me. We did chat, trying to figure out if we were distantly related and I honestly don't recall if we discerned if we were or not.

After orientation, I never really saw the girl who shared my last name much around campus. But as any of you know who attended UT, it is a pretty big campus.

I was reminded of that experience last week while sitting in the hosptial waiting room with my mother. She'd brought the paper up to read while we were waiting for the surgeons to complete surgery on my dad. (It went great and he is in the process of recovering, in case you were wondering. It wasn't a life-threatening surgery.)

"There was something interesting in the Smyrna section," she told me. She opened the weekly Smyrna A.M. section and told me to read the caption under the picture.

Looking down, I saw the caption on the photo about a local teacher who shares our last name.

I'm not sure if I am distantly related to the woman described in the article. But I did find it particularily interesting to find someone who shared our last name in such a close geographic vicinity.

Sometimes it's fun for life to surprise you in an interesting way...

posted by Michael Hickerson at 4/18/2007 08:10:00 PM | |

The curse
As if the whole Adam Jones situation weren't enough for the Titans during the off-season, now we've got another off-the-field issue to worry about.

Vince Young will be the player on the cover of this year's Madden Football video-game.

It's a great honor and all that, except for the fact that every player featured on the cover of the game gets injured the season he's featured.

I somehow wonder if both Peyton Manning and LaDamien Tomlinson both turned down the honor because of the curse.

OK, trying to be optimistic here--maybe this will be the year the breaks the curse.

::crosses fingers:::

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posted by Michael Hickerson at 4/18/2007 08:18:00 AM | |
Tuesday, April 17, 2007
Strange coincidence
After 9/11, a lot of people pointed out that six months before the terrible events of that day occurred, there was an episode of The Lone Gunman that had terrorists flying planes into the World Trade Center as the centerpiece of the plot.

It was eerie and a bit unsettling in that way that these coincidences have of being.

And a simliar thing is happening around the incident yesterday at Virginia Tech. Some of you may recall that in 1999, two episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer that featured violence at school were pulled by the WB. (One that featured a student bringing a rifle to school was set to air the day after Columbine...) Now, comes the word that Bones is being pulled Wednesday night because the storyline involves a death on a college campus.

So, how are these connected, you ask. Both shows star David Borenaz.

I am sure it's nothing and it if weren't such a sad, tragic set of events surrounding them both, it's almost be an interesting bit of trivia.

It's interesting the things the mind seizes on in trying to comprehend something like this.

I've spent a good amount of time, reading things on-line, listening to the reports and trying to make sense of it. I am unsettled and horrified by the reports of how absolutely methodical the shooter was in planning this attack. There are stories that state he is suspected of calling in two bomb threats last week to gauge the response time of the Virginia Tech police. And there are reports that he went back to his dorm room between the first and second wave of attacks for some reason, leaving behind a note of some kind.

In all of this, I find myself not only thinking about the victims of this, but also the shooter's family. What must they be thinking and feeling right now? My thoughts and prayers go out to them as well becuase I have a feeling they're going to be put under as much of a microscope as this guy in the coming days, weeks and months.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 4/17/2007 01:16:00 PM | |
Monday, April 16, 2007
Tragedy at Virginia Tech
As the story of what happened today at Virgina Tech continues to unfold, I find myself struggling, wanting to make sense of it all.

The thing is--nothing about this makes any kind of sense. And the more I try to apply rational thought and try to discern a rational reason for how something like this could occur, the more I realize that applying such rules and reasoning don't apply here. It just doesn't make any sense and it never will.

The only thing I can come up with is that there is evil in this world. Pure evil and this is a manifestation of it.

It's time like this that I wish the superheroes or saviors of comic books, TV shows and movies were real and could step in a put a stop to tragedies like this. As I get ready to watch 24 in which Jack Bauer can take on any form of bad guy set against him, I find myself wishing the real world operated by the rules of 24 and that Jack could come in and save everyone.

Alas, that's just a fantasy and not reality.

Tonight, my heart breaks for the families, friends and people affected directly by this series of horrifying and horrible events. My thoughts and prayers are with them.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 4/16/2007 07:25:00 PM | |

TV Round-Up
Lost: One of Us
Oh those wacky Others--they're always toying with your head when you're not looking. Or even when you are looking.

Man, that Ben is one manipulative guy. So, in the course of this episode's flashbacks, we find out that he's manipulated Juliet into staying on the island long after her tour of duty was completed. I guess if you have control of the submarine and all access off the island, you can do that. Plus that whole threat of bringing back the sister's cancer probably had a lot to do with it. Though you'd think Juliet might try to figure out what magic secret Ben has that allows him to cure cancer and maybe smuggle some of that back. She could have tried this when Michael and Walt left. Of course, this is Lost, so she could have tried to do that and it didn't work. I bet we get a flashback episode about that.

Anyway, Juliet heads over to the camp of our heroes and immediately finds that everyone is pretty mistrusting. Yeah, having your people kidnap and terrorize all of the castaways will tend to make them less than trusting. But we find out Jack trusts her and so he feels that everyone should totally accept Juliet because of that. Never mind that Jack stayed behind with them of his own free will and struck a deal with their leader to go home. I am thinking thse guys missed that episode of X-Files where Deep Throat told us to "trust no one." I do find it odd that no one once questions why Jack was held and why he stayed behind of his free-will. Instead, he just throws around his weight as the leader of the tribe and tells them all to accept Juliet.

Oh yeah, and no torturing her...at least not yet.

But it seems that faith is totally misplaced. Man, Jack can't win for losing with women, can he? Everyone he opens up to hurts him in some way. I wonder if he's starting to delibarately pick unavailable women after the break-up with Sarah to keep himself from getting hurt again.

So, Juliet is part of some super secret plot with Ben. She's going to gain the trust of the camp, heal Claire and then figure out secrets in a week before the rest of the Others come. So, is that why they took Locke? Did they fear Locke's natural, uber-man, back-to-nature superpowers of doom and Ben is playing him to keep him away from the group? Would an alliance of Jack and Locke be just too much for the Others to handle? And can anyone recall if Sawyer still has the gun stash hidden? If so, seeing Juliet make a move to try and get him to reveal where they are is only going to not end well when Jack catches wind of it. And you know he will....

The Shield: Baptism by Fire
The tag line for last season was "Conscience is a killer."

Interesting to see the tag line apply to the "villain" of the season and not to Vic.

In the end, Kavanaugh bends the rules to set up Vic and is taken down by his own ethical code. He wants to bust Vic so badly he loses sight that it has to be done the right way and, in the end, Vic gets the victory. Of course, at some point, you have to wonder just when the Teflon coating on Vic is going to wear off and something is going to stick. I begin to wonder if he'll be taken down for something minor just like Al Capone was taken down for tax-evasion.

Until that happens, this show is still compelling as all get out to watch. Watching Vic's ragged determination to find Lem's killer and bring him to justice has been the driving force in these firt two episodes. I also love watching Shane squirm everytime Vic's obsession with Guardo comes up. Oh, that is going to be a killer scene when Vic finds out that Shane killed Lem.

Friday Night Lights: State
The first season ends on a high note and leaves me hoping and crossing my fingers we'll get more.

The Panthers compete for the state title, facing off against VooDoo. Seeing them fall down by a large chunk in the first half was to be expected, as was the huge rally to win it all. Seeing the trust that Eric has in Sarcasen was a great moment in an episode full of great moments. That the play worked was not a shock, though as it unfolded I wondered if it might be like the Titans in the Super Bowl a few years back--one yard short.

Meanwhile, I'd like to thank the NBC promo department for ruining the reveal that Tami is pregnant. Good job there, guys. At least they didn't show us the entire scene between Eric and Tami. Again, another great scene among many.

I think my favorite thread was the Landry is going to the game with Tyra. His elation soon turns to horror as he gets to take Tyra, her mom, the sister, Matt's grandmother and Lillah. The scenes in the car were a riot.

That said, did we have get any consequences to Lillah taking out three or four cars at her dad's dealership a few weeks ago? I am guessing not since I doubt her dad would give her a new car if he knew it was her. That said, we never saw any follow-up on that....

Man, I hope this show gets another season. I heard a rumor it may go to HBO (there was an LA Times article this weekend about it). Not sure if that's a great fit, but anything that keeps the show going is good by me.

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posted by Michael Hickerson at 4/16/2007 07:00:00 AM | |
Friday, April 13, 2007
Baseball Game Meet-up Change of Plan
Sorry to have to do this, but I've had a change in plans. Next Saturday, April 21st, several middle Tenessee bloggers were planning to hit the UT vs Vanderbilt baseball game.

Due to a change in the night of the Kats game I was supposed to go to on Friday night, I'm going to have to switch my sports viewing experience.

So, the blogger meet-up to see the baseball game will be Friday night, April 20th.

I hope everyone can still make it. Or doesn't already have Preds playoff tickets and will be there instead....

posted by Michael Hickerson at 4/13/2007 12:57:00 PM | |
Wednesday, April 11, 2007
TV Round-Up
24: Day Six, 10 - 11 p.m.
The last half of this episode felt more like a season finale than the 17th hour of the day.

Jack may have been MIA the past few hours, but in this one, Jack Baur, Man of Action (tm) was back.

In the course of an hour, Jack is able to trick Fayed into giving up where the nukes are, chase the guy down, hang onto the undercarriage of a moving sanitation truck, take out an entire warehouse full of terrorists using only a pistol and smack-down Fayed. Oh and he tells Fayed to say "Hello" to his brother for him after the two beat each other senseless in the warehouse. and Jack has hung Fayed with some conviently dangling chain. Did I miss anything?

And with that, the Fayed and the nukes plotlines is over. The threat is gone and as the final five minutes unfolded, I kept wondering--OK, so now what?

I wondered if there was a secret nuke somewhere or if there was some super-top-secret other agent out there who had another nuke that Jack would have to somehow track down. And then, the phone rings. And it's Audrey...who is being held by the Chinese. They want something from Jack--and will tell him exactly what it is at the start of the next hour. Until this, we're left to realize that the Chinese have no chance since Jack can take on anyone and win, esp. when he's determined. If Audrey is his great love (ummmmmmm, did we forget about Terri? I am guessing so at this point), then no matter what the Chinese send at Jack, they are doomed. I almost feel sorry for them going up against the might that is Jack Bauer.

Yeah, that really was a way to pull a cliffhanger out of left-field wasn't it?

I'm not sure where all this will go, but I do wonder if this could be the point at which the boat speeds up as we head toward the shark tank....

Meanwhile, pumping Wayne full of adrenaline has made him start to go bad-ass himself. Seems the nuke was a bluff to get Country-that-shall-not-be-namedistan to stand down and give up Fayed's connection in their government. How gutsy was it to see Wayne ask the ambassador if the interrogators had threatened the general's family yet and if they hadn't what were they waiting for? Wayne finally realizes he has to make a bold move or two and be assertive in the office...and he does that. I'm still not sure I buy this new Wayne or not. His actions here seem a bit too reckless. But he does get the job done...I guess he's taken a page from the Jack Bauer book of leadership.

And then there's CTU, where poor Milo is jealous that Nadia said something nice about Mike. Is it just me or is anyone else a bit creeped out by stalker/jealous-boy that Milo has become? I talked two weeks ago about how aggressive his kiss was and now we've got him getting his nose out of joint that Nadia said something nice about Mike....yeah, and we wonder why Chloe dumped the guy. I think it's becoming abudently clear.

So, we've got seven hours left and a new plotline to pursue. I wonder if the show would have the guts to kill off two of Jack's great loves--Terri in season one and Audrey in season six.

That could make for a good ending to what has been a rather uneven day for the show.

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posted by Michael Hickerson at 4/11/2007 07:33:00 AM | |
Tuesday, April 10, 2007
Pac-Man gone for the year
NFL commisssion Pete Gedell has made his rule--Adam Jones is gone for a year.

In a move that was pretty much expected all around the league, the commissioner decided to make an example of Jones' bad behavoir and the consequences of it.

This helps the Titans from a PR standpoint, since their "wait and see what the league does" stance has paid off. On the field, where Jones had his greatest value, it hurts the team. The Titans have lost a playmaker, one who can and did change games last year.

Now the team can move on and start preparing for the post-Jones world. It may hurt the team short-term to lose him, but I think long-term, the time has come to send Jones out of Nashville and to Oakland, where he might fit it a bit better.

Of course, I fully expect this topic to dominate the sports-talk airwaves for the next two days.

And the timing of this news is a mixed blessing for other local sports teams--and I mean you, the Nashville Predators. With this news coming out, the focus won't be on how the team has self-destructed down the stretch and how tomorrow night's opening round game of the Stanley Cup playoffs is pretty much a "must win" for them. Nope, instead they will get a pass (until Thursday) as the local sports media dissects the Jones situation and what it means to the future of the Titans.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 4/10/2007 02:48:00 PM | |
Monday, April 09, 2007
Thought on "The Shakespeare Code"
This week's episode of Doctor Who was a great hybrid of the historical adventure and sci-fi plotline that Doctor Who does so well.

Longer, more detailed thoughts are at the Slice of SciFi web site.

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posted by Michael Hickerson at 4/09/2007 06:50:00 PM | |
Sunday, April 08, 2007
TV Round-Up
Lost: Left Behind
After the giddy heights of the past weeks, we get an episode that is, well, just OK. It wasn't necessarily horrible, but it wasn't quite as great as I'd hoped.

Kate and Juliet are knocked out, drug off into the jungle and handcuffed together. They make their way back to the Others base, only to find they're being pursued by the giant smoke monster. We find out the purpose of the barriers we saw a few weeks ago (it apparently keeps the smoke monster at bay), but we also (maybe) find out that the Others aren't in control of this. Or it could be that Juliet is lying, playing some kind of game at Ben's behest--though the question becomes what is the game and why are they playing it?

I do wonder if the Others really do or don't have control of whatever the smoke monster is. Is it some elaborate security system? Is it something more? Is it somehow connected to the island?
Thinking back on the overall run of the show, the only person who has seen the monster and not been attacked or hurt by it is Locke. Which bring up the question of does Ben know this? And if Ben does know, is that why Locke is being allowed to go with the Others wherever they're going? Also, it's interesting how quickly Locke is being allowed to become part of the group that is the Others. We've seen that he and Ben have an affinity and desire to stay on the island, so will this make them uneasy allies as the rest of the season progresses?

But, back to Kate and Juliet...so in the flashbacks we find out that Kate hooked up with the woman Sawyer conned to help get to her mother. Kate was hoping Mom would at least be grateful for Kate killing the guy who was hurting her, but apparently not so much. Mom loved the guy, even if he wasn't exactly a nice guy. And so that's why she turned Kate in.

Seems that Kate and her mom just can't quite pick the right guy. Which I guess is the whole point of this since it seems Jack has moved on to Juliet. Though you'd think that someone as self-aware and savy as Juliet wouldn't want to the rebound girl if Jack is indeed trying to get over Kate.

That said, it should be interesting to see how everyone reacts when they show back up with the central group and Juliet is part of the deal. Honestly, I think she's got some other agenda (no pun intended).

Meanwhile, Hurley decides to make Sawyer accept his role as reluctant leader. The thing with this one was I saw that there was more to it than the tribe wanting to banish Sawyer. I guess Hurley just wanted to play Jeff Probst for a few hours or something. Anyway, I can't imagine the group would banish Sawyer since he seems to have his stash of all this stuff--plus, doesn't he know where all the guns are? Did we hear he'd given them all back or given up their location at some point? I am pretty sure I don't recall that, but I've been known to be wrong before.

Friday Night Lights: Best Laid Plans
And here we have everything that I love so very much about this show, all encapsulated in one superb hour.

NBC, if you cancel this one I am going to be upset. And then I'm going to buy this DVD set, watch it over and over again.

OK, let's start with the one negative. The whole Street kisses Suzy just as Lila shows up was pretty cliched. But even as out of the soap opera writers handbook as it was, the scene still underscored a fundamental character development for Lila. The poor girl's faith in men is being shattered. She's lost faith in her dad, she's lost faith in Street. Looking back to the pilot, it's interesting to see Lila being now in the place Tyra was when the season started out.

It's also interesting that the last two guys who you thought would be stable and good for Trya when the series began are the ones that came through for her in the clutch. In a show where I have a lot of favorite characters, Landry stands out as one of the best. His suffering to do the right thing, his taking the brunt of Tyra's shame and rage and his speech to her at the end...what started out as a sidekick to Sarcasan has blossomed into one of the best characters on this show. And this show is filled with great characters.

That said, I'm afriad of where the Taylor's storyline is headed. I am hoping it won't lead to some type of seperation. I loved the final scene where we go from a sense of relief and joy that this fight is resolved to the utter look of horror on Eric's face when Tami annoucnes she's staying in Dylon. Wow, what a great scene. Suddenly, the whole outcome of the game next week takes on new meaning and new shades. Will this be the professional triumph he's worked so hard for, only to have him lose everything that he holds dear?

The thing is, I have no idea how any of it will turn out. I can't even begin to guess--and that's why I love this show. We've got a huge bunch of rather standard situations, but the writing and acting have made them all so real and authentic that it feels different and unpredictable.

If you've not watched this show, please do so this week. I think the show's fate depends on a good showing. I've heard that NBC wants to renew the show but isn't sure what to do with it or where to place it on the schedule. Please, please, please tune in this week....

The Shield: On the J0nes

It's been far too long a wait for new episode of The Shield. That said, the wait was worth it.

Picking up one week after Lem's stunning death at Shane's hands in last year's season finale, this one opens with Kavannaugh more obsessed than ever with bringing down Vic. What fascinates me about this show is how Vic corrupts everyone who comes into his sphere of influence--even Kavannaugh, a guy who brought down dirty cops has become one. At one point Vic reveals how he does it--he changes the rules and makes the person he's going after panic. And he's done that here....to the point that Kavannaugh will break in and plant evidence. I have to wonder if he'll be caught. I think Dutch will be instrumental in destroying the foundation of Kavannaugh's case against Vic in the coming weeks.

Meanwhile, the departments tries to force Vic out, all the while making Lem the poster boy for cops gone wrong. Which only brings Vic back into the fold and more determined than ever. I've wondered since the beginning what might be Vic's downfall and it may be the death of Lem is the beginning of the end. When Vic finds out Shane killed Lem, that can only get ugly. And that will lead to Vic feeling more and more alone, more and more trapped by his own deeds and his own corruption. I can't see Vic trying to go out in a blaze of glory or try some insane act of redemption for his guilty conscience like Shane did here (which I think we may see all season).

I don't know where it will all go, but I'm certainly hooked. And the thing is, this like Friday Night Lights is one of those shows I watch unfold and can't believe an hour has passed so quickly.

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posted by Michael Hickerson at 4/08/2007 04:30:00 PM | |
Saturday, April 07, 2007
Book Thoughts: The Double Bind
I'm often asked by friends to recommend a book. Whenever I'm asked this, I'm flattered to do so and happy to make a recommendation. Because of this, I tend to keep a mental list of good books to recommend to friends if the question comes up.

I've got a new one to add to that list. "The Double Bind" by Chris Bojhalian.

If you've not read it, I highly recommend. I also recommend going into the book completely unaware of any thing more than the dust jacket blurb will tell you.

That said, this is one of those book that will be hard to talk about without addressing the plot twists and revelations that come in the final fifty or so pages. I will try to keep those comments to a minimum until later in this post and I'll try to warn you again when I'm getting into huge spoiler territory.

"The Double Bind" starts out on a quiet country rode with our protagonist, Laurel, out for a Sunday afternoon bicycle ride. She is met by two men who jump out of a van and attempt to assualt her. Laurel escapes the ordeal with some broken bones because of the clips on her pedals and her holding onto to the bike for dear life.

The novel starts off with this brutal attack and then moves forward seven years. Laurel now works as an advocate for the homeless at a local program. In the course of her duties, she meets Charlie. Charlie passes away, leaving behind a box full of old photographs and negatives. Because of her interest in photography, Lauren is asked to look into the photos and see if they might be used to create an exhibit to honor Charlie's life and bring some publicity to the group she works for.

What follows is a slow spiral into obsession as Laurel becomes obsessed with putting together the pieces from the photos and discovering who Charlie was. And also, she wants to know why he has a a photo that appears to be her riding along the road where she was attacked.

Interestingly, Bojahalan incoroprates elements from F. Scott Fitzgerald's "The Great Gatsby" in this novel. As Laurel investigates, she finds that Charlie might be the son of the infamous Jay Gatsby from the novel.

OK, now is the point at which if you haven't read the story, you should turn back or stop reading.

At first, I was skeptical about the incorporation of elements of Gatsby into this story. To make the character from that story part of the real world of this novel seemed a bit of a stretch at first and it slowly began to make me have my doubts as the novel progressed. However, once it's revealed that this is a world Laurel has created for herself in an attempt to create meaning to the horrible attack she endured seven years before, it all makes sense.

In the last few pages of the novel, we discover that Laurel didn't escape attack. She was raped and brutally so--three times. Two by one man, one by the other. They savaged her and left her bleeding and for dead on the road side. Laurel convinced herself that she'd escaped attack by hanging onto the bike and being clipped in, but it wasn't true. This manifests itself in her refusal to ride a bicycle any more after the attack--seeing the bicycle as her savior, but also knowing deep down what has happened and not wanting to deal with it.

As it turns out, Laurel had a pyschotic break. She invents her own reality and is obsessed with the Gatsby novel. She creates or fills in entire bits of conversation in her head to fuel this obession and descent into delusion.

But yet, that's not the biggest "holy cow" moment of the last few pages.

Part of the aftermath of the attack is that Laurel has an attraction to older men. She is dating one in the book, who has two daughters. One is the beautiful one who wants to act and is everything you think a typical girl of that age should be. The other is awkward, not as beautiful and show as having a bit of a socially awkward relationship with the world. She is less concerned with what people think, even wearing a Junior Mint on her ear and claiming it's an earring.

In the final pages of the novel, we learn there were no daughters. It was a fiction Laurel created for herself to explain to herself what she was withdrawing from her boyfriend. But it goes a bit deeper. In the girls we see both sides of how Laurel sees herself. It's a hint of the revelation that she had a pyschotic break and how Laurel sees herself pre and post-attack. In this revelation, the book takes on an interesting twist and leaves you sitting back, reassessing everything you just read and wondering just where the reality lay.

We do see hints of it...and for the most part, we can figure out what was real and what wasn't upon further examination. The novel end with Laurel being put into a mental facility for her own protection and her inabilty to deal with reality. We hear bits and pieces of the medical reports on her as the story unfolds, but we can easily assume these are reports on Charlie. It's only when we figure out that its Laurel that we can look back and see how Bojahalan was setting up the entire ending right in front of us, but not giving us the entire picture.

It's one of those books where the surprise works and it caught me totally unaware. I suspected there was something more to the story than we were getting, but I never quite expected this. And seeing it, it made the entire reading experience that much more rich and enjoyable.

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posted by Michael Hickerson at 4/07/2007 04:40:00 PM | |
Thursday, April 05, 2007
Getting Christian fiction right
A few weeks ago, I posted about two contempoary Christian stories I'd experienced and how I'd come away from both feeling a bit unsatisfied.

Interestingly, one weekend I'm posting about how dissatisfying I find certain contempoary Christian stories and the next weekend, I see a Christian film and read a Christian fiction novel that both get it right. The movie was "The Second Chance" and the book was "Mountain Top" by Robert Whitlow.

The secret as to why these are so good--they don't feature characters who are cardboard cut-outs, nor do they present the world is absolutes. Both stories feature strong characters who have struggles, questions and hiccups in journeys through life. In both presentations, the characters are human, facing real human trials, journeys and awakenings.

"The Second Chance" is the story of two ministers, one played by Michael W. Smith. Smith's character has strong musical talents and is pursuing a ministry at his father's mega-church. Smith's character is basically being groomed to take over the pulpit when Dad retires or moves on to start another church. Which leads us to our second minister, an African-American preacher who runs the second chance ministry in the heart of downtown. The Second Chance church is supported by the mega-church, who sends a lot of funding their way but rarely show up in the form of volunteers or ministers to the community. Smith is sent to learn from the experience. In the course of the film, the mega-church is given a chance to sell the property of the Second Chance church and intends to use the funds for its global outreach.

At which point the question arises--what is the best way to fulfil the Great Commission? Which is better--reaching the lost in other places or reaching the lost in your own city and community? Thankfully, the film walks a fine line of not coming out and declaring one better than the other. Instead, we are led to understand the values and merits of both types ways of walking the walk and fulfiling the Great Commission.

And along the way, many of the characters have some real and intriuging revelations. Smith's character realizes that he has a different call to ministry than he originally thought. The African-American minister realizes he may need help more than he lets on and that help can come from the most unlikely of sources. Even the character of Smith's father realizes that he's lost sight of what is important to him in his ministry and what he's trying to do.

The thing is , the movie reaches a point where all three men have undergone there own journey of faith and then it ends. There are still some questions left unresolved and the movie veers away from having a happy, last-hour repreive ending that would have, quite frankly, seemed out of place. Instead it leaves the viewer contemplating what is the more important change that has been made in the lives of the characters we see on-screen.

"Mountain Top" does a simliar thing.

"Mountain Top" is the latest offering from Christian legal-thriller author, Robert Whitlow. Whitlow has been one of my favorite authors since I picked up his great story "Life Support" a few years ago. Whitlow averages about a novel a year and I always find myself looking forward to each new story.

As Whitlow has grown as an author, so have his books. At first his stories were about lawyers who found their faith due to a series of trials (no pun intended) in their lives. In "Mountain Top" we meet Mike, a lawyer turned pastor, who is asked to represent a local man accused of embezzling funds from a local church. But the twist is--the man, Sam, has dreams from God about various local community people, that he writes down and shares with the parties involved. Sam had a dream of Mike defending him and while Mike is reluctant at first, he eventually agrees to represent the man.

As the story unfolds, Mike faces a series of trials--pressure from the church elders about his role representing Sam, a startling confession from his wife and his starting to have his own dreams inspired by the Holy Spirit. The story takes Sam on a journey of faith as he questions his ministry and where the next stage in life should lead him.

Of course, along the way, there are some twists and turns in the legal manuevering and we find out that Sam is being framed as part of a larger, overall conspiracy.

Again, the characters here are human. Mike's wife, Peg, confesses a secret to him and it's one that Mike has a hard time with. We see Mike struggle with forgiveness and at one point he puts his foot firmly in his mouth, saying the exact wrong thing and unintentionally hurting his wife. But even though that happens, the story shows the two reconciling, working through the issue and coming to a new, stronger place in their marriage.

And then there's Sam, who's been out there, witnessing to anyone who will listen for years (or even those who aren't willing.) Sam sends out letters to people, talks to them and plants seeds that will one day later bear fruit. Sam send a letter to Peg before the story starts that has an impact on this story. Also, he and Mike go to the hospital to visit a potential witness in the trial, only to end up ministering to the man and his wife in her final hours. Sam is one of those who is open to the unexpected calls to ministry in his life.

But in both stories, all the characters are human. Sure, in Whitlow's novel, there has to be an obvious bad-guy, but even in the midst of his persecution, Sam prays for them. The stories are well done becuase they don't offer any easy solutions, but they also don't make things black and white either. Both are about the journeys of characters and as the audience, we go along for part of the journey. Both stories wrap-up, leaving you wanting more and curious about the next stage. But they also leave you satisfied that this one part of the journey is complete.

I highly recommend both of them to you.

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posted by Michael Hickerson at 4/05/2007 07:20:00 AM | |
Wednesday, April 04, 2007
The national champions....
It's good to see one national champion this year wearing Big Orange.

Congratulations to the Lady Vols on their 7th national championship.

I plan to enjoy this for a while and then look forward to the Lady Vols defending their title next year.

Back-to-back championships would be a wonderful thing....

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posted by Michael Hickerson at 4/04/2007 02:40:00 AM | |
Tuesday, April 03, 2007
TV Round-Up: 24
Day Six, 9 - 10 p.m.
Even by the logic 24 follows, I'm still having trouble making sense of this episode. So, Wayne Palmer risks his life and his health to make sure that Daniels doesn't nuke the country-to-be-named later-istan and then in the last two minutes of the episode orders that the nuclear strike still commence? Ummmmmmmmmm, can anyone explain this to me? I realize that we had the line from Daniels about not wanting to appear weak but why would Wayne be swayed so? Is there something greater wrong with him that led to this apparent about face in his policy?

I realize this is 24 and sometimes twists come from out of left field, but this one seemed to come from really far out of left field.

Which it's a shame because it ruined what had been a fairly solid storyline in the episode up to the point. I liked seeing the manuevers Daniels pulled to try and remain in power. And you have to admit that Tom's recording device and using it to blackmail Daniels was a nice touch. The fact that it called back to events earlier in the day was a really nice touch.

But, then it took the abrupt left turn. Suddenly Wayne is acting odd, getting another shot of adrenaline and then deciding to keep on nuking Fayed's country. I just don't get it.

What I also don't get is how candidates on 24 select their running mates. It seems as being the vice-president on this show makes you power mad and willing to go to extreme measures to seize power. Or at least that's the case for the two Palmer brothers. You'd think Wayne would have learned a lesson or two from David's time in power....but maybe that's asking too much.

Meanwhile, the drama continues over at CTU. I think we're working too hard to set up Mike Doyle for a fall. He delibarately covers up for Milo, which seems a bit odd. I think we, the audience, are more in the loop on the lengths he's going using to cover up the secruity breaches at CTU. Could it be that he's causing him? Is he the real mole? And if he is, do we really care that much? We have no investment in this character other than he's a hard-ass who's come in to put things back on track. I begin to wonder if this role was originally written for Chase but when that actor wasn't available we had to go with a new guy instead. At least if it was Chase, we'd have some kind of connection or identification with the character.

And I am officially bored with the whole Tony and Michelle Milo and Nadia romance. Been there, done that, got the t-shirt.

The romance that is working is Bill and Karen. The scenes of the two on their cell phones talking were nicely done and you felt like this was an actual, real couple.

Meanwhile, Jack is pretty much relegates to the sidelines for half the episode while other dramas unfold. The CTU crew is able to draw Fayed out into the open using Gredenko. They put a radioactive tracer in Gredenko that is burrowed into his bones, so that way he can't take it out. Man, that shot had to hurt. Anyway, as soon as we hear this, we all know that Gredenko is going to dis-arm--literally. Saw that one coming, but it was still an interesting twist. And it appears that Gredenko has died, which I liked the fact he did. He couldn't sustain the kind of blood loss he had from loisng an arm.

Man, this guy is dedicated though--to saving his own skin. He turns on Fayed, in a bar full of guys who beat the crap out Fayed. And then Jack gets him. Problem is the two nukes are still out there and there are plenty of other lackeys who can finish carrying out the plot.

Which you know they will when their country gets nuked next week.

Man, I'm still scratching my head over that one...

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posted by Michael Hickerson at 4/03/2007 06:57:00 PM | |
Monday, April 02, 2007
Odd
During spin class tonight, I had an odd moment. No, I wasn't having a heart attack or some other kind of physical ailment--thank goodness.

No, it was one of those deja-vu type of moments.

As we were climbing the imaginary hill, I glanced over into the doorway and saw one of the YMCA people giving a tour to someone. It was the "come see the sweaty people" part of the tour.

Anyway, I glanced over and saw a woman who I could swear looked exactly like a woman I went to college with. Yes, she looked a bit older (but then again I would too), but just a lot of small thing seemed to add up and say--Debby Vaughn, who I knew back in the good ol' days at UT.

I tried to make eye contact and see if it was here or if I could get some glimmer of recognition...but I was near a support column and am not sure if she saw me. So, who knows...and now the now knowing is going to drive me crazy for at least ten minutes.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 4/02/2007 06:21:00 PM | |

Doctor Who is back
I know you're all wondering how I enjoyed the first official episode of series three (season 29) of Doctor Who.

Wonder no longer....my review is posted over at Slice of SciFi.

Labels: ,



posted by Michael Hickerson at 4/02/2007 03:07:00 PM | |

Back in the championship game
Pat Summit and the Lady Vols are back in the title game for the NCAA women's tournament. Woo-hoo.

Though for a while there last night, it was looking kind of dicey for the Lady Vols.

Here's hoping that Pat picks up her seventh national championship tomorrow night. We really need to start putting some distance between us and the team that shall not be named....

posted by Michael Hickerson at 4/02/2007 08:55:00 AM | |
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