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Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Simpsons spoof Mad Men opening
Hilarious!



posted by Michael Hickerson at 10/29/2008 01:06:00 PM | |
Monday, October 27, 2008
An open letter to Tony K
Dear Mr. Kornheiser,

I've tuned into Monday Night Football this evening to watch the epic showdown between my beloved Titans and the Indianapolis Colts.

Mr. Kornheiser, you're a very amusing columnist and you're fairly entertaining on your show "Pardon the Interruption." And maybe you think you're being funny, witty or urbane in your commentary tonight, but the only thing I find in it are constant put downs of my team, my city and my state.

I'm sorry if you're upset you had to come to this "small market" to see this game with a team that you apparently have little, if any respect for. I'm sorry that we've undefeated (as of this writing, when it's tied in the third quarter) and that this somehow offends your delicate sensibilities and the way you think the world should be.

I say to you, Mr. Kornheiser, get over it. Sure, the Titans have beat a lot of teams with not so hot records so far this year. But it's not their fault those teams are having down years. The Titans have merely taken advantage of the situation to get to where they are. They've won the games they should. We've had some good breaks, but you can say that of every team with a winning record, not just the Titans.

And no, the Titans don't have to win this game to earn the respect of the country. We should have it becuase we're playing good football with a solid defense, nice running game. Yes, we have some questions when it comes to the passing game, but we get the job done...again, I point out that we've won six games so far this year. But instead, self-appointed little media members like yourself shout out that Tennessee can't or shouldn't get respect or have to earn it. No, we've earned it already, sir. It's just you who can't seem to accept it.

Here in the South, we have an old saying. If you can't say something nice, you shouldn't say anything at all. Maybe you should try it out...

Oh wait, that wasn't very nice of me, was it?

Sincerely,
Big Orange Michael

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posted by Michael Hickerson at 10/27/2008 09:46:00 PM | |
Saturday, October 25, 2008
Alabama 29, UT 9
It's nice to know that in this long, distinguished series UT has no big wins. Or none that ESPN could be bothered to show us even though we got to see some of Bama's greatest hits in the series. Surely, Peyton Manning breaking the streak by throttling Bama would be one to consider. Or Eric Ainge leading the Vols on their only TD drive of the game to win it two years ago.

But no, we couldn't have that.

I will give ESPN some credit. During the first half when our defense was playing out of their minds, the announcers were fairly complimentary of the Vols. And they did make some good points about squandering opportunities. Which we did.

Of course, it's hard to overcome both the other team and poor officiating. The refs completely blew the call of a fumble in the third quarter that was a TD for the Vols. If we get that, it keeps us in the game. Instead, it pretty much slams the door and was the turning point for the game. So, thanks refs for blowing a call that turns the game. Good job.

Yes, I'm bitter and angry. I despise Alabama. I wish nothing good for them or their team. I hate losing to them. It's part of being a Vol fan...you can't like anything about Alabama's teams. It's just how it goes.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 10/25/2008 10:01:00 PM | |
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
TV Round-Up: Heroes
I Am Become Death, Angels and Monsters
There are some weeks when I wonder if I shouldn't just give up on "Heroes." I'm resolved to the fact that it will never be quite as decent as it was in season one and that the days of the show, at the very least, delvering a nice hook at the end of each episode are over. But yet, just as I'm about to completely give up, there's enough of a nugget to keep my interest up just enough to tune in again. It's sort of the same thing with "Smallville." Despite promises to myself, I still find myself drawn into the show by the promos or epsiode descriptions, hoping this will be the week they finally pull it all back together and surprise me.

Also, I'm a sucker in that I won't give up on a show after a truly terrible episode (if so, I would have stopped watching "Next Generation" after the horrific "Imaginary Friend.") So, while a lot of the Internet was willing to give up after last week, I decided to stick with it, hoping something good might come of it.

So far, I'm not so sure. Last week's episode took the new "Heroes" cliche of jumping around in a time line to a new level. Peter goes forward four years to see how badly things will turn out if the stolen-formula is allowed to go mainstream. Apparently, you inject yourself, you get powers. So now everyone has abilities and I'm reminded a lot of this storyline when it was done on "The 4400" not too long ago, except that show never showed us the implications of thing. "Heroes" has this interesting habit of jumping forward in time, showing us different variations of characters we know in the present and then teasing us with wondering just how they got to this point. Case in point is Sylar, who goes from all-around monster to dad making waffles and fairly well-adjusted. He even seems to like Peter, telling Pete he'd have whipped up more waffles if he knew Pete was coming by.

There's some intrigue to wondering how Sylar could get this point, but it's not nearly as alarming as seeing what was once the biggest bad-ass character on this show defanged a lot. I think one of the bigger mistakes any show or series can make is to help us understand why a bad guy becomes a bad guy or defanging them. "Star Trek" did that to the Borg, who were really scary and unstoppable when we first met them and slowly became just your standard alien menace by the end of "Voyager"'s run. Same thing with Sylar, who should have been killed to end season one, thus eliminating that threat. Instead, he's still around and the writers have to come up with lame ways to keep him around each week, all of which remove the threat and menance that made the character work in season one. Plus, that range of being odd and icky working for Zachary Quinto, who is showing more and more he just doesn't have the range to pull of Sylar as anything more.

The other thing with the four year jump is that it is supposed to provide us with some sense of a mission and yet it doesn't. I am still not sure why Peter took himself to the future or what exactly current Peter learned and took back. Except that he's now as bad-ass as Sylar or at least he wants to be. Again, this is a case of a character who is simply too powerful and removes a lot of the drama surrounding him. If he's as strong as we've been led to believe, he's simply too dangerous to have running around. And you add in that his character arc seems to be "Hey, I want to be bad-ass now" and it just doesn't ring true. Does anyone recall what Peter used to be like?

What I do find interesting is how the Papa Patrelli seems to be assembling his own sort of Legion of Doom, some of whom may be old friends. The concept of just what makes a person a villain and who is good and who is bad is worth exploring. I just wish the show weren't doing it as hamfistedly as it is here. You want to see a nunaced exploration of shades of gray, you need to check out "Battlestar Galactica." Here, not so much. This week we had a guy who can create wormholes and accidentally kills someone. The Company hauls him, locks him up and he loses everything. His desire is get out and find his family again, to reconnect with what he's lost. And yet the Company treats him like a criminal because he can't control what he has power-wise. Instead of helping him, they lock him away. So, who's the bad guy here?

Add in that HRG is willing to use Vortex Man to kill off Sylar and you've got what could be some interesting moral relativism exploration. But it still feels forced and too obvious. There aren't any nuances to it like we get on "BSG" where you can see both sides and see that both sides have some legitimate arguments and maybe neither one is "right." If "Heroes" could somehow channel that and work with it, it might have the chance to be the show it wants to be instead of the show it is.

But I doubt very much that it will ever break out of that mold.

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posted by Michael Hickerson at 10/15/2008 04:00:00 PM | |

I'm not giving up on my team
In case you missed it, I'm kind of a big fan of all things University of Tennessee.

And in case you missed it, we've not been having the greatest season in football this year. I think the words to best describe it are "pretty damn disappointing."

These two factors have seemed to collide a lot in recent weeks as I've continued to wear my UT colors and apparel. As some of you know, I actually have orange socks I will wear and I took the plunge this year into full-blown obsession with tennis shoes that have UT orange in them and a pair of UT crocs. So, needless to say, I can wear UT colors pretty much anytime and anywhere I want.

But in wearing my school and team colors, I've encountered a lot of people in the past few weeks who seem to think that just because the Vols aren't doing so well, that I should abandon my team. One guy in the elevator, upon noticing my UT umbrella, noted I must have picked it up "really cheap" because surely everything UT-related must be on clearance. I've also had several people point out, upon seeing my other various UT apparel that while this is a "bad year" for the Vols, I'd certainly be welcome to jump on their bandwagon or to root for some other team.

I always try to be polite and reply that while I appreciate the offer, I still like the Vols. (Well, except my friend in spin class who when he asked if I'd like to root for Vanderbilt, I affirmed strongly this would not happen). I am still pulling for them. And as I've said before, I am not going to jump ship and go over to another team. I just don't quite understand fans who leap from one team to another, based on who is winning. I don't see how you really enjoy your team doing well unless you've been through the rough spots. And let's face it--we're in a rough spot here.

I know, these people are trying to be nice. And it's probably like a person with a name that is easily part of a bad pun or joke hearing the same joke or pun over and over again. But I feel like I need a t-shirt printed up that says--by the way, I'm not abandoning the Vols.

And, yes, I still am going to spend several hours each Saturday watching the game. Because it's just what I do. It's part of who I am.

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posted by Michael Hickerson at 10/15/2008 01:45:00 PM | |
Saturday, October 11, 2008
Georgia 26, UT 14
Outside of Bama and Florida, there's one team in the SEC that I want to beat badly year in and year out and that's Georgia. I've endured a lot of Georgia fans over the years who seem to be unhappy in winning and unhappy in losing, so I'd honestly rather see them unhappy for losing. So, this week's game was one of those big rivalry games for me, one I had hoped that maybe our team might break out of the funk and really put some things together.

And we showed glimmers of doing that. Say what you will, I think Nick Stephens is the right choice at quarterback for UT. He seems to have a better grasp of the offense than Jonathan Crompton did and he has the ability to make some long plays and stretch the field. The problem comes in the fact that we're not getting a lot of yards on first and second down. In a game where we rushed for one yard...quite frankly, that's not going to get it done. Watching today, I saw fits of inspiration on the offensive line but also a lot of futility and moments that had me tearing out my hair. And I still don't understand why Creer is riding the bench. What did he do to annoy the coaches so? Or what does Arian Foster have on the coaching staff?

Our defense continues to show a spark, but they were left out there too long. Eric Berry continues to make plays and while we do have some big plays other places, we also have some boneheaded plays that continue drives for the other team. A couple of personal fouls go against us for boneheaded plays and we could easily have been in there, made the came tighter and made Georgia worry a bit more. I don't doubt some fans had their doubts in the game, esp. when the Vols put things together on their two big drives. But the bad part was that as soon as we had a momentum changing drive, Georgia would answer back and take all of it back. And a big part of that is bonehead plays such as personal fouls that allow drives to continue or playing soft on third and long from inside their own ten.

And we're still winless in the SEC, which is just beyond depressing.

I think what we see here is how last year wasn't just about our playing well but also luck. We had some good bounces and we jumped on them. Those aren't breaking our way this year and the results show in the win/loss column. I don't intend this an an excuse or a pass for the team--they have enough talent that they shouldn't have to rely on luck all the time.

Oh well..there's always next week, though Mississippi State showed today they're not going to be a cakewalk. t

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posted by Michael Hickerson at 10/11/2008 06:11:00 PM | |
Monday, October 06, 2008
UT 13, Northern Illinois 9
I went to the UT vs Northern Illinois game this past weekend, not quite sure what to expect. Not just from the team on the field, but also from the fans. Seems there were rumblings all last week of fans who are so upset over the current state of the program that to show their unrest, they weren't going to attend. All week, I kept hearing dire predictions of tumbleweeds blowing through Neyland Stadium. And while there were empty seats, I don't think it's as drastic or dire as some were hoping it would be.

I will fully support your right to say there need to be changes in the program. But here's my thing--tickets cost a good bit of cash to get, especially season tickets. And to have seats go empty just seems absurd to me. For one thing, as a friend pointed out, there are lots of young kids in East Tennessee and across the state who would LOVE a chance to go to a game. They aren't at concerned that the Vols were 1-3 going into the game...they just love the Vols and want to see the team play. But maybe they can't afford tickets or can't get them. Here you have a prime chance to give your tickets to the Boys and Girls Club, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, donate them as a prize at a Fall Festival, give them to kids at church, etc. and allow these kids who would love to go a chance to go, experience the game and enjoy themselves. You win a new generation of fans. I mean, Vandy has stunk for years and yet there are young Vandy fans born all the time. Possibly because someone shared the love of the program with them. And it's teaching these kids that when you're a fan, you're a fan for good and bad times. Otherwise you're just a bandwagon jumper and while you may feel good every year because your team wins, I have to wonder how satisfying it is. How can you savor the good times if you don't have to sometimes go through a rough spot or two?

As for the game itself, I have to admit that driving onto campus, turning onto Kingston Pike where I usually do and not encountering a back-up with only two hours to kick-off was a bit surreal. Kind of like I Am Legend meets a football game. Then, it was kind of telling that the three most exciting moments in the course of the game were: 1. Running through the T 2. The long bomb for a touchdown and 3. Bruce Pearl on the jumbo-tron in an ad for basketball season. The rest of the time, it felt like everyone was too nervous to enjoy the game and with good reason. This is one of those games you schedule to have someone to play well, get up a good lead by halftime and get your back-ups some playing time. Instead, the offense couldn't find a rhythm and the defense was constantly put in a series of bad-case scenarios. Thankfully, the defense came to play and kept rising to the occasion, though it's easy to see how they could get tired after a time.

A couple of thoughts struck me during and after the game.

I'm not sure where the lack of consistency on offense is coming from--the fact that we have a new coordinator and a new system, new quarterbacks or an offensive line that just isn't getting the holes open they should. Add to it that we've got a running back in Adrian Foster who just seems a step behind a lot of the time, isn't hitting the holes with authority and isn't strong enough running between the tackles. And yet we've got two other guys behind him who have shown signs of doing that and yet...they don't play. I am wondering with Foster so close to breaking records set by Travis Henry, if somehow we're not more concerned with that and distancing UT for Henry than what's best for the team. For those of you who don't know, Henry hasn't been a model citizen since leaving school and is a prime example of one of those guys who makes you weep because he has all the talent in the world and not one lick of sense.

Another issue is going to rear its head this week. We're going to have a controversy at a key position. No, not quarterback. I'm talking our punting duties. Were this before halftime in the Auburn game, I'd say no question, bring back Colquitt. But now you've got Cunningham confident, kicking well and being the best weapon we've got besides Eric Berry. So, do you mess with that by having Colquitt come back? I'm not so sure that's the best idea in the universe. But then again, no one at UT ever calls me for what I think.

And I still think our team lacks leadership. There are a lot of players on this team, but I don't sense they've gelled as a team.

Yes, we won. And it's good to win. But coming away, it's hard to find a lot to feel good about besides the simple fact that we scored more points than they did. Except those two long throws in the third quarter. Those were spectacular...

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posted by Michael Hickerson at 10/06/2008 03:39:00 PM | |
Wednesday, October 01, 2008
TV Round-Up: "Heroes"
"Second Coming," "Bufferfly Effect" & "One of Us, One of Them"
At one point in the two-hour third-season premiere, one of the characters basically tells another that he or she isn't as smart as he or she would like to believe. That little bit of banter is pretty much "Heroes" in a nutshell right now--it's not nearly as smart as it wants to be or is pretending to be.

Apparently the only lesson we learned from the debacle that was season two is that the fans sure hate to have things happen slowly. So to make up for it, we've got "Heroes" on fast-forward mode with events happening fast and furious. I guess the logic of this is so the fans won't go, "But wait a minute, that doesn't make a lick of sense." Instead, you're just supposed to go with it.

Now, I understand that this is a TV show that's supposed to be like a comic book and real world rules rarely, if ever, apply to superhero comic books. That said, at least most comic books will play within a set of established rules from page to page and issue to issue. With "Heroes" the rules change from scene to scene, purely based on what the plot needs to push it forward. And the sacrfice is the characters come off looking like a bunch of turkeys because they are making dumb choices.

Biggest example is Peter Patrelli, whose powers morph literally from scene to scene. It was a huge distraction in the finale last year and it's cropping up again this year. Pete can't seem to recall just what powers he does or doesn't have at the moment, except those called upon by the script. And the whole concept that Future Peter has travelled back to set history right by shooting his brother and never thought there might be a myriad of factors that lead to the crappy version of the future is just beyond absurd. What the hell happened to Peter, the guy from season one who was a caring, compassionate nurse? Also, I don't quite get why Future Peter had to exile Current Peter into one of the villains on Level Five, only to push him out of villain guy in this week's episode. So...ummm....Ok...so Current Peter needed a body for a little bit or was it only to have Current Peter run about with the villians for a while.

Speaking of the villians, I was really expecting a lot more than we got here. They're not the sharpest knives in the drawer are they. Hell, they're barely butter knives. So, our big plan is to stage a robbery and draw out HRG so they can kill him? What part of that plan makes any kind of sense? Surely these bad guys would know HRG isn't going to come alone, probably bringing the Haitian, who can neutralize their powers. So, they're going to get caught and go back to Level Five and locked up again. And just how exactly does Level Five keep them all locked up? Does the Haitian have some way of harnassing his power and creating some dampening field? Cause the looks we got showed them all up and about, not drugged up and out of it like Sylar was for all of five minutes.

Which brings me to my next beef--so, we're going to put Sylar out there as a partner for HRG? At what point does this make sense? It's another one of those bone-headed moves by a character who should know better. And then we're all shocked when Sylar reverts to his evil ways? Does anyone else think that Sylar is using this windfall of insanity to figure out how to beef up his powers even more and/or become the Lex Luthor of this show? Of course, that's if Lex lost a few hundred IQ points and had the acting range of a brick. (This alone makes me fear for the new "Star Trek" movie). It doesn't make any sense that we allow Sylar to keep getting more powerful and free run of the Level Five. And yet, no one can see that this is going to go pear shaped in the worst possible way.

Meanwhile, we've got Mohinder injecting himself with an unproven, untested syrum that might give him powers. This after he figures it out in ten seconds when his dad couldn't do it in years before that. And right as he's about to...wait for it..throw the vial with this untested syrum into the water. Yes, you read that right. That's how this scientific genius guy is going to dispose of it. Surely that seems a bit dangerous, don't you think? Again, it's just a way to set-up a brooding scene with Mohinder, get him to inject himself and leave him in a place to be discovered by two random crooks so he can discover he has powers. If you had even one or two scenes along the way that weren't so incredibly forced to get the character from point at A to point D, it might just work. But it doesn't.

And don't get me started on how Mohinder is now a stud and seduces Maya.

All of it just makes my head hurt at times.

I even find myself wanting to like the Hiro and Ando storyline, but I can't because Hiro is acting like an idiot. Let's just forget that he opened the safe and allowed Daphne to steal half of the formula that will destroy the world. But then to pursue her across the globe and not get the second half. And the way he did it. He knows from his previous encounters he can trust the Haitian, but he doesn't. He's so consumed with getting the formula that he overlooks some things, like the fact that with the Haitian having said formula, Daphne's power is nuetralized and odds are she won't grab it and run. Now, I will give Hiro that Ando is the one who knocks out the Haitian, leading to the formula ending up in Daphne's hand. Hiro couldn't have, necessarily, anticipated that. And we all know Ando can be manipulated by a pretty face. So, that part at least makes some sense, but I'm having to work too hard to give the show a pass on that one.

That said, the part I do like is the concept that Ando could go villian and is becoming less happy with his role as sidekick. That plotline has potential, but it's so lost in a sea of other stupidity that I find myself annoyed and not caring as much as I could.

Which brings up to the big point--this show needs a new plot. Every year we get a "future is going to hell and we've got to come together and stop it" arc plot. Now, I read a bunch of comic books back in my day and I know they had at least two or three other plots that could be trotted out. Also, the show keeps resetting itself. My biggest complaint last year was that we spent all of season one getting the gang together for one letdown of a season finale only to separate them all again. And now, we spent season two getting the band back together to....ummm....separate them again to face a new threat, that we've all seen before. I could almost go along with the saving the future plot if it's revealed that our heroes didn't stop the destruction but are merely postponing it. OR are making it worse.

But at this point, I am beginning to think that kind of future plotting and forward thinking is really beyond this show.

I suppose I should just turn the brain off and enjoy it. But when the show doesn't just insult my intelligence but insults my stupidity as well, that's hard to do.

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posted by Michael Hickerson at 10/01/2008 01:00:00 PM | |
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