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Wednesday, June 30, 2004
What kind of Tic-Tac Am I?
Considering the name of this blog, this shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone...

You are Orange.
You are outgoing and optomistic. You always try to
find the bright spot in everything. You are
energetic and people are naturally attracted to
you. However, you are not always sure of what
your purpose or goals are.
Most Compatible With: Fresh Mint

Which Tic-Tac Flavor Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

Thanks to Always Victoria for the link.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 6/30/2004 03:56:00 PM | |

Absentee ballots to be mailed late; some worry votes may not be counted
Follow-Up: State, U.S. pressure Metro to mail ballots
Three-hundred ballots may not seem like a lot, but in a tight election, it could make all the difference. Also, our military men and women are out there, putting their lives on the line to protect our rights and our freedoms--including the right to vote--to have their vote possibly not count for whatever reason is unacceptable. At least they're trying to fix it in time for the August 5 elections, but it may be too little too late. Hopefully this will be resolved before the Presidential election in November. It's also good to see there is bi-partisan anger at this oversight.
"After the meeting, Election Commissioners Lynn Greer, a Republican, and A.J. Starling, a Democrat, called the situation with absentee ballots ''inexcusable.''"

posted by Michael Hickerson at 6/30/2004 10:57:00 AM | |

Spider-Man 2 hype and more...
Even More Reviews and Hype For Spider-Man 2
Gannett's Jack Garner says it's "a rare sequel that surpasses the original in every way" and Roger Ebert calls it "the best superhero movie since the modern genre was launched." (Both reviewers give the movie four stars!) The Washington Post's Steven Hunter tells us "shows that all concerned in the second installment of this mega-franchise -- most important, director Sam Raimi, returning from his love-labor of the first one -- have looked hard at the success of the original and have understood and preserved its core." Also of interest is the TV Guide On-Line review. Meanwhile, Harry Knowles over at Ain't It Cool News is ready to pick out china patterns with the movie. (I would recommend taking the Ain't It Cool News rave with a grain of salt. I've noticed that Harry either seems to love or loathe films and there's not usually a middle ground.) As of the time of this post, the film has a 97% "fresh" rating over at Rotten Tomatoes. The only negative review I could find was from J. Hoberman with the Village Voice.

And for those of you wondering--I will add my own two cents here after I see the movie!

For those of you with young children clamoring to go see the movie, you might want to think seriously about these words of advice from this article in this morning's Tennessean.

Doc Ock's brief stint in an emergency room is more harrowing than anything in the previous movie, and gives the movie a well-earned PG-13 rating. While the original film was fine for younger children, this one may be too intense. How intense? There's a not-too-subtle reference to one of Raimi's earlier films, the 1981 bloodfest The Evil Dead.

And TV Guide heard my pleas and today's Insider features a small interview with Kirsten Dunst, aka Mary Jane Watson. OK, sure it's not really in-depth and it doesn't really tell you anything, but the picture of Kirsten is nice to look at!

In a local angle to this story, Nashville's Mageina Tovah has a small role as Peter Parker's neighbor in Spider-Man 2.

Blaine's in, Ken's out
Barbie is on the rebound with Blaine, a surfer from Australia, who also happens to be a friend of her friend, Summer. Has Barbie gone bad girl and stolen Blaine away from Summer? Stay tuned...

Check out the pictures from the first practice for Rick and Bubba's dodgeball team, the ThunderBalls.

Has Robert Bianco been reading Big Orange Michael?!?
In tonight's Best Bets for USA Today, Robert Bianco discusses the weaknesses from last week's episode of Monk (which repeats tonight at 10 p.m EST). His analysis agrees with most of what I said Saturday about this week's episode.

Come on guys....
While driving home yesterday, I was listening to Sports Night on SuperTalk 99.7 WTN. What caught my attention was they were talking to Bob Kessling about the big event Sunday with some of the legends of Tennessee football all getting together to take a walk down memory lane. They teased that coming up next would be an interview with Johnny Majors. Intrigued I tuned back in, only to hear a really poor imitation of Coach Majors in a mock interview that was in very poor taste. They had Majors putting down Fulmer, not able to remember he'd coached for the University of Pittsburg and no the Steelers, etc and throwing in a few barbs at former host George Plaster. It was one of those things that was amusing at first, but quickly got old. And it was a shame in a lot of ways. I would have enjoyed hearing from the real Johnny Majors becuase he was such a legend in Tennessee football. Also, it's a shame that a few days after Fulmer, Majors and Dickey were able to check their egos at the door and do something to celebrate what is great about Tennessee football that these three guys had to step up and do this classless little joke. No wonder George Plaster left and is currently enjoying a good lead in the ratings. Come on guys--grow up!

posted by Michael Hickerson at 6/30/2004 08:28:00 AM | |
Tuesday, June 29, 2004
One More Day!
USA Today's glowing review of Spider-Man 2 is up. The movie gets four stars and is called "a hands down hit." (No, I won't be at a midnight showing tonight to see it. I've not heard about any in the Nashville area.)

As if the new movie weren't enough, the original 60's cartoon makes its debut on DVD today. (DVD Talk features a pretty nice review of it) USA Today had a chat with the original voice of Spider-Man, Paul Soles. Transcript of chat. I know that it's probably cheesy and corny, but some part of me woud LOVE to have pick-up this DVD set. The first season or so is adaptations of some of the classic Stan Lee/Steve Ditko early Spider-Man stories which I read over and over again in Marvel Tales reprints as a kid.

And how can you not love the theme song?!? Spider-Man, Spider-man! Does whatever a spider can! Spins a web any size. Can't you see, just like flies! Look out! Here comes a Spider-Man!

And the title is...Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.
And from what I've heard the prince of the title is neither Harry nor Voldemort. The bad news--no expected publication date yet.

Fox Struggling With All-Season Scheduling
As I told Fox two weeks ago, this new summer season is nothing to write home about. Hence why viewers aren't flocking to the screens to see these new programs and why they are flocking to your sister, cable station to watch shows like Nip/Tuck. Two things strike me from the article. I wish Keen Eddie had aired this summer because it might have had a better shot at surviving. And secondly, I hope that Quadruplets isn't going up in numbers. I haven't seen an episode since I lost half-an-hour of my life to the pilot, but I really wish they'd cancel it and put poor Andy Richter out of his misery.

Dave Barry's latest column is all about the monster best-selling novel, The DaVinci Code. As usual with Barry, I completely cracked up while reading it. (Please note: registration is required to read the article, but it's free!) I've read both The DaVinci Code and its predecessor Angels and Demons. Both are good books that I enjoyed reading. Are they great literature? Not my a long shot, but they're both still great escapist readings for a rainy day or as beach or pool-side reading this summer.

I found it interesting that MaeveKerry discussed the book on the same day that Dave's column came out. And if you're looking for a quick review, check out The Inn of the Last Home's Two Second Reviews of Dan Brown's books..

Vol football legends gather for reunion shoot
It's good to see Phillip Fulmer and Johnny Majors both be big enough men to put aside whatever anomosity exists between them in order to celebrate the history of UT football. Sure, the part of me that is cyncical says--you can put aside a lot of things if you're paid well enough, but that doesn't necessarily seem to be the case here. In any event, this story about the history and the pagentry that is Big Orange football makes me interested in seeing this production and for football season to be upon us.

Finally, Frank Ritter's column from this morning's Tennessean, Twain reminds us that secrets are to be kept, is well worth reading.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 6/29/2004 02:17:00 PM | |

TV Tuesday
Companies pay billions and billions of dollars each year to drop commercials into our favorite programs in hopes of influencing our shopping habits, getting us to buy things, and toot their own horns. As long as people still have money to spend they'll keep giving us ideas on how to spend it. So this week let's take a closer look at the entity we call commercials.

1. Commercials: Annoying disruption or Interesting Advertisement?
For the most part, annoying distruption. There are a few exceptions, such as the ads during the Super Bowl. Also, I hate to admit it, but a few months ago, I was more excited about the long preview for Spider-Man 2 than I was the new episode of The Apprentice it aired during.

2. Is there a commercial that instantly has you reaching for the remote to mute it?
In Augusta, one of the local car dealers had the WORST commercial. It was this guy singing "Toyota's...are North Augusta!" over and over again with a huge bass and heavy guitar going on the whole time. It was AWFUL. Even worse was the fact that some of the commericals featured the guy singing the song and it tried to make it look like a music video. My description of it here is not doing justice to how BAD it is. And the worst part--it aired all the time! You couldn't avoid it. And believe me, I tried!

3. Jingles are one of the most useful tools in commercials, what's your favorite (or least favorite if you prefer)?
I still like "I'd Like to Buy the World a Coke."

~Bonus~ Has a commercial actually ever influenced something you've done or bought?
Yes, they actually have. A couple of years ago, I saw an ad for a toy that I had to immediately go out and buy Gracelyn for Christmas. I even e-mailed friends and family, claiming this particular toy--I think it was the Winnie the Pooh that holds a rattle and has an remote control rattle that activates it when the child shakes it--as the big present that Gracelyn was getting from her Uncle Michael.

Remember to leave your link or answers in the comments!! :)

posted by Michael Hickerson at 6/29/2004 10:00:00 AM | |

The Dead Zone--The Cold, Hard Truth
It should be no surprise that I enjoyed this week's episode of The Dead Zone as much as I did considering that it was from the pen of Michael Taylor, who also wrote one of DS9's finest hours with "The Visitor." Taylor just seems to have a way of finding the middle ground, packing genuine emotion into situations that could easily become standard, over the top cliches and full of angsty melodrama.

I liked the parallel structure of this--about two men who have lost sons. In each case, the men involved--Richard Lewis's shock jock Johnny Jericho and our hero, Johnny Smith--lost their sons due to a series of circumstances beyond their control. I also liked that Johnny's visions didn't necessarily point to the real tragedy in Jericho's life at first. Instead, we were slowly allowed to get to know the character and understand there was some inner pain there that was driving him to alienate people--whether it be on the radio or his ex-wife. We see this in full force as he tries to push Johnny away and even takes Johnny's vision as a prediction of the future and tries to fulfill it for Johnny. I will admit that when we had the sequence where it appears that Jericho has jumped to do his death, I fully bought into the idea that, finally, we'd seen Johnny's abilities give him a vision that he was truly unable to stop from becoming a reality. Since the beginning of the show, I've been intrigued by the notion that maybe Johnny could or should fail to make things better by taking action on his visions and the consequences of that to him. (We get some of that with the Stillson plotline where it seems as though no matter what Johnny does short term to derail Stillson, we keep coming back to the vision of armageddon unleashed. Can Johnny stop this future? I guess we'll have to wait and see).

But the real centerpiece of this episode was the final scene with Johnny, Walt and Sarah all telling J.J. that Johnny is really his biological father. This was a scene that could have been over the top and melodramatic but yet was hit all the right notes. Again, I got back to Taylor's early success with "The Visitor" and the final scenes where an old Jake Sisko tells his father of the decision to end his own life in order to save his father in the past. (Probably one of the bigger lump-in-your-throat moments in all of the Star Trek canon) The final scene where J.J. refuses to believe what he's been told and then comes back to ask Johnny what he should call him was extremely well done. As much as Anthony Michael Hall's performance in this episode was off at times (the teaser where he went to the radio station just seemed oddly out of character for some reason), he really redeemed himself with the final scene.

Also, special kudos need to go to the underappreciated Chris Bruno as Walt. Every week, Bruno is given the thankless role of being the third leg of a triangle and someone that we should root against. Yet, the writers and Bruno have walked a fine line of developing Walt into more than just the third leg of the triangle. It's hard to really dislike him or root against him because he's a good man, trying to do what is right in an almost impossible situation. Some of the scenes between he and Sarah showed this as they try to discuss the root of the problem between them--Johnny Smith. What I like with the show is that, just like in real life, there are no easy answers to these difficult questions.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 6/29/2004 07:56:00 AM | |
Monday, June 28, 2004

During the commericals for Monk the other night, I was flipping around the stations and came across CMT's countdown of the 40 Sexiest Country Videos of All-Time. Now, it's been a long time since I really avidly watched country music videos, so a lot of the ones on this list were unfamiliar to me. But in looking at the list, I think they did a pretty good job. No surprise that Rascal Flatt's "I Melt" was up there in the top five--honestly, I expected it to be number one because of all the hype and publicity that surrounded it last year. I really do feel as though this list is very Toby-Keith-heavy, but he does seem to be the big country artist of the moment. I will agree that Chely Wright's "Never Love You Enough," Sara Evans "I Could Not Ask For More," and Deana Carter's "Strawberry Wine" were all very deserving to be on this list--in fact, I think that Chely Wright's "Never Love You Enough" could have been higher on the list and surely there was room on the list for "It Was" which I think it just a great video. And no shocker that the highest rated Shania Twain video is "Still The One." However, I was a bit disappointed to see her video for "You Win My Love" left off. I just really like that video--the images of Shania dancing about in tight leather pants...

...I'm sorry, where was I, again? As much as I like "Man, I Feel Like a Woman!" for its homage to the Robert Palmer videos of the 80s, I have to say that "You Win My Love" is, by far, the sexier video.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 6/28/2004 01:11:00 PM | |

Congratulations to Barry at the Inn of the Last Home! Barry got quoted in this article in Sunday's Knoxville News-Sentinel talking about the lack of interest for Bill Clinton's memoirs in Knoxville. If you're interested, the original blog entery is here. (Note: To read the News-Sentinel article, you will be required to register, but on the good side, it's free!)

Of course, now that Barry's been quoted and is famous, I wonder how long it will before people are quoting the Big Orange Michael blog. Then I actually read what I've written about and I doubt that many major news outlets will be lining up for my obsessive thoughts about Spider-Man 2 or any of the other totally random thoughts I have here, but you never know! (By the way, in case you were wondering--two more days to Spider-Man 2!!) I'm also glad to see that Barry acknowledged my request for the link to the article in the paper. I figured after Friday when I stated that I was more excited about the Firefly movie, Serenity, than I was about the next Star Wars movie, that he'd no longer be acknowledging me.

Lincoln Park Zoo Apes Get to Take Revenge
When I first saw this headline, my first thought was of the apes actually taking over the zoo and running amok--kind of scene from some type of apes-disaster movie (is there such a thing? Besides King Kong, obviously.) This was also of interest in the light of this story that I discussed last Monday with the gorilla escaping from his enclosure at a zoo in Texas. After reading the story and seeing that the apes can take revenge upon people who agitate them by spraying a puff of air on them, I have to admit it was amusing. Well, except maybe to people who wear contacts who might lose the contact in the puff of air.

City locks down Internet use
If you know anyone who works for the city of Murfeesboro and are wondering why they haven't updated their blog or answered their e-mail, this story tells you why. In reading the story, I found it interesting that two people were able to ruin the fun for the rest of the city employees by sending "sexually explicit e-mails" to one another. It also should re-inforce another good lesson of the Net--be careful what you say in an e-mail becuase it is never as private as you might hope.

Fireworks stands gear up
You can't throw a rock in Rutherford County right now without hitting a fireworks stand! Seeing all these stands remind me of a good friend from high school who used to work at the fireworks stand every summer. He made pretty good money, but he had to work extremely long hours and he did tell me that when it was slow it could get really boring.

Local triathlete rizzo makes big splash at San Francisco event
This article and another in Friday's paper about a running back in the East/West Shrine game who ran for something like 6 TDs in the state championship game for his small home town, but couldn't get a look or a scholarship from any schools got me thinking. It was mainly due to his size (I think he was only 180 and not a big runner), but he was planning to walk-on and see if he could earn a spot on a team at MTSU. Seeing these stories reminded me of something I miss from old job at sports editor down in Loudon County--mainly, that I miss getting the chance to discover these stories about people in the community working hard and doing these positive things and getting to tell others about it through my writings.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 6/28/2004 10:46:00 AM | |

While at the flea market this weekend, I saw a sign on one of the booths that said--This ain't a musuem. This junk is for sale!

Truer words were never spoken.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 6/28/2004 09:04:00 AM | |
Sunday, June 27, 2004
Ripped from the Headlines!
Driver hits homeless man's cart deliberately

Wow, this guy sure does take that 30-minute guarantee seriously. Nothing like running over a homeless guy so that you can get the pizza there on-time! But what really takes the cake is the pizza driver's attitude--the homeless guy was "lolligagging" so he decided to teach him a lesson!

'Fahrenheit 9/11' Sets Documentary Record
Congratulations, Mr. Moore for your movie debuting in first place. Now if you'd please move aside so Spider-Man 2 can crush you at the box office, we'd all be a lot happier...

Congratulations go out to Cal State Fullerton for winning the College World Series this afternoon with a 3-2 comeback win over the Texas longhorns. Now with college baseball officially done for the season, I can turn my obsessive attention to college football, which cannot start soon enough!

Britney Gets Engaged
Well, I certainly hope this one lasts longer than the last marriage!

posted by Michael Hickerson at 6/27/2004 08:28:00 PM | |
Saturday, June 26, 2004

Highly recruited QB says he'll play for Vols
My first thought--this is great news. Also, I love that Jonathan Crompton sounds a lot like what was good about both Heath Shuler and Peyton Manning. My second thought--we are gonna have one heck of a QB controvery going into next season. I figure that whichever of the two freshman isn't starting by the end of this season will probably transfer out.

The final thing this makes me think...Is it football season yet?!?

Fulton 'insinuation' has Plaster angered
Wow...there is a lot of bad blood between the local sports call in shows. Say what you will about Tony Basilio, he never stirred up this kind of insanity. (He only stirred up his own kind, mainly by hating the Titans!) I was not around Nashville for some of the early development of this one--such as Plaster jumping ship to 104.5, but I do know he took a lot of 99.7's sports audience with him. Personally, I like having three to four sports shows on about the same time during the afternoon drive time. I'm all about having lots of choices--well, except for one day last week when they all seemed to be begging for money in telethons. Yes, I know they do a lot of good, but I don't want to be given a guilt trip for not being able to contribute. I want to discussion of sports on at least one station!

posted by Michael Hickerson at 6/26/2004 03:18:00 PM | |

Monk--Mr. Monk and the Panic Room
One of the standards of the mystery genre is the locked room mystery. This week, Monk gave us yet another derivation on that chestnut with the victim locking himself inside a panic room with a chimpanze who was apparently the killer. Being a savy TV viewer and having read more than my fair share of detective novels, I figured out the chimp had to be a red herring as soon as we saw him standing over the body, holding a gun. The real question was--how was the chimp used as a red herring? Early on, I figured that somehow the chimp had been trained to use the gun to kill the victim, but this turns out not to be the case. Instead, we find out the perps are human beings, using cunning methods that it's up to good ol' Mr. Monk to sort out, using deductive reasoning and astute observation that most of the rest of us missed. In short, the mystery plot, while interesting, was once again there only to serve for the main "hook" of the script--pairing Monk up with a monkey.

Last week, I lamented that the characters had become little more than pale imitations of themselves from the past two seasons. This week, things get a bit better, if only because at least half of the main characters seem to be functioning in character--namely Monk and Sherona. Sure, there's the way-too-long scene where Monk "locks" himself inside the panic room and panics (there's a hole cut in the door, so he's never trapped at any point), but otherwise both Monk and Sherona do quite well this week in the smaller moments. Monk's attempts to, at first, ignore the monkey unleashing hell upon his apartment are quite amusing as is his panic over getting "jail goo" on his hand. Most telling was the scene in the dark where Monk must shine a flashlight on everyone's face while speaking. Those little moments worked well, as did Sherona's defense of the "victim" in the case of the monkey.

However, once again, both Stottlemeyer and Disher come off as bumblers and iditos. In past seasons, we've seen Disher be the gung-ho cop who has a bit too much enthusiasm for his own good. His mistakes were honest ones and didn't feel like he was being put out there as the butt of jokes as he is here. He does things here that just don't make any sense, nor do they instill much credibility in his being a police offer. For example, he can't keep up with which gun is the unloaded piece of evidence and which is his and loaded, thus leading to hilarity of Stottlemeyer interrogating a monkey with a fully loaded weapon (more on this in a moment). Later, Disher is at Sherona's house and uses his walkie-talkie to talk to Stottlemeyer who is not more than six feet away. Now, in the past, we've seen Disher's overenthusiasm get the better of him, but not to the point of stupidity that we see here. Honestly, this is one character who they either need to decide to develop a bit more or write to the sides more often.

As for Stottlemeyer, it was frustrating. There are scenes where you can clearly see him as a friend and an ally of Monk, though his lack of patience at times with his OCD wonder-detective is entirely understandable. However, the previously mentioned scene where he interrogates the monkey comes off as bad. The idea behind it is good--do some research to find out if the chimp could pull the crime. But his acting like a complete idiot to the chimp makes little sense and is only in there for humorous value and, once again, it goes on too long.

So, while I am willing to say this is a set up from last week, it's not really that BIG a step forward. They need to stop concentrating on the "hilarious" concepts--Monk goes to NYC, Monk meets a monkey--and get back to what made the show so good--the characters were all reasonable and believable and we liked tuning in to see them each week.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 6/26/2004 02:57:00 PM | |
Friday, June 25, 2004
Ripped from the Headlines!
It's been a good week for Democrats. Earlier this week, Bill Clinton's memoirs hit the bookstores, selling over 2 million copies and now Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11 opens nationwide today in theaters. I have to say that I have next to no interest in either one. But I will give them this--as much as I may agree or disagree with what each of these men has to say, I fully support their right to get out there and say it. I don't think we should shut down Michael Moore from having his own opinion on things and presenting them as an op-ed piece. But it also means I have the right to not accept his view on things and not reward him with paying my hard earned money to see his movie. What I do find of great interest is how polarizing the movie has become. One article in USA Today was of particular interest on this subject: 'Fahrenheit 9/11': Will it change any voter's mind? I also found some comments in The Tennessean's AP review of the film interesting.

"Like Gibson's The Passion of the Christ, which had both supporters and detractors in a tizzy before they'd even seen a minute of it, Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11 has liberals and conservatives alike scrambling to spin the film's content for their political and personal purposes.

And like The Passion, the director's new documentary will reinforce whatever opinions people had when they walked into the theater — about both President Bush, its subject, and Moore himself."

USA Today continues to stoke my excitement for Spider-Man 2, this morning giving us a look at Alfred Molina, the man who plays Doc Ock in the film that, quite frankly, doesn't open soon enough for my liking. (In a sidenote: We've now had articles on Toby Maguire and Alfred Molina, so I think we should have one about Kirsten Dundst early next week!!) The article is here. There's also an interesting discussion of what makes a great movie villain as well and a poll for the best movie villain of all-time. No surprise that Darth Vader is winning the poll.

Speaking of movies that I'm excited about, the web site for Serenity is up. (Serenity is the movie continuation of the superlative Joss Whedon created TV series Firefly). It includes a blog about the filming of the movie. I hate to say it, but I am probably more excited about this movie than I am the next Star Wars movie. (I can hear Barry's exclamation of disbelief even now!)

'Jeopardy' Champ Passes Half-Million in Winnings
All I can say is--wow! I also like how late in the article there is mention of fans of "Jeopardy" saying that it's not as good as it used to be and they've changed the rules too much! It just goes to show you that Star Trek fans aren't alone in lobbing this criticism at our favorite show. (Also, can a game show really Jump the Shark?)

The Tennessean has a nice article about one of my favorite country singers Carolyn Dawn Johnson. I really liked her first CD, Room With a View, and her second CD, Dress Rehearsal is growing on me.

Jenna, Jenna, Jenna...
I first became aware of this story thanks to Vicki over at Magnolia Glen. Jenna Lewis, of Survivor: Borneo and All-Star fame apparently has taken a page from Paris Hilton's book. But instead of getting her name out there before a reality show hits the air, Jenna has found a way to extend her fifteen minutes of fame with an alleged video of her wedding night now making its way around the Net. As I said in the comments over at Magnolia Glen, Jenna has apparently learned the wrong lesson from Paris's little adventures. Also, if I remember my Survivor history correctly, Jenna turned down a very lucrative offer after the first season to appear in Playboy. I guess the profit from the videotape was a bit more lucrative. Also of interest is the conflicting stories going around about who leaked the videotape--there is some speculation that Jenna and her new hubby were the ones who leaked the tape out. Ah, the lengths we'll go to for our fifteen minutes of fame...

And then there were none.
South Carolina, the last SEC team still in the College World Series, bowed out yesterday, losing 4-0 to the Cal State Fullerton Titans. So now without an SEC team in there, I really don't have any idea who to root for. I will have to do some research and go back to my usual system of pulling for one team or another--namely, which team last beat the Vols. That's the one I will root against.

Tampa Bay 19, Toronto 13
Was there a football game played?!? Not much defense in this one, but a whole lot of offense. Also of note--one day after their club-record 12 game winning streak came to end, the Devil Rays set a record for most runs scored in a game. I continue to stand by my prediction that the Devil Rays will win it all this year! Meanwhile, one day after clobbering the Yankees, the Orioles lost 5-2 and also lost the series 2 games to one. Damn Yankees!

And Now For Something Completely Different.
Priest Beats Up Would-Be Robbers
Rick and Bubba were having a field day with this story this morning--Rick's impression of what the priest was saying to the thief nearly had me driving off the road I was laughing so hard. A couple of amusing things about this. The priest was named Matt Foley. How bizarre is that?!? (For those of you who don't remember, Matt Foley was the name of the motivational speaker played by Chris Farley on SNL, famous for the line, "A van...down by the river!"). Second, the priest learned how to fight from his brothers and sisters and that he used a headlock to keep one of the thieves from getting away.

It's just sad that these two guys had several meals at the church before deciding to steal the money from the box. This may punch a one-way ticket to hell for them. Also, can you imagine the hell this guy is going to get in jail when they find out what he's in for and that he was caught by a priest?!?

posted by Michael Hickerson at 6/25/2004 08:18:00 AM | |
Thursday, June 24, 2004

As you may already know, yesterday was my father's birthday. In honor of the big day, our family met at a local Mexican restaurant to celebrate the big event--and more importantly so my sister could get the waiters to embarrass the tar out of him. Apparently, this entire dinner was set up as a ruse to get my father to the restaurant so they could sing "Happy Birthday" to him in Spanish while he wore a large sombrero right out of Three Amigos. (Dad got the waiters to sing to her and made her wear the sombrero on her birthday, so turnabout was fair play.)

When we got to the restaurant, my sister and her family had already arrived. Gracelyn had already arranged the seating for everyone. "You sit there," she said, pointing to a chair next to her. Gracelyn had also appointed herself the dealer of chips for everyone. She liked giving everyone a chip and then watching you dip it in salsa and eat it. Being a good uncle, I couldn't really refuse, right? (Also, I could eat two times my weight in chips and salsa!) But the part of this game she really liked was when she learned that if she'd break the chip, Uncle Michael would dip in cheese dip and share with her. She would break off a piece for herself and say, "Share" at which I'd dunk her chip in cheese dip, dunk mine and we'd enjoy. I have no idea how many chips we did like this, but I am pretty sure it was ruining both our appetites. But isn't that one of the joys of being Uncle Michael?!?

Gracelyn is also in swim lessons for the next two weeks and loves them. She runs into Grandma's office every day and tells her, "I'm not going to get out today." She is learning to kick, splash Mommy and put her face in the water and blow bubbles. And she loves to tell Uncle Michael all about it, which he loves to hear the stories. Which Uncle Michael eats these stories up like chips and salsa--there is no such thing as too much!

Meanwhile, Davis decided that since he'd waited approximately fifteen seconds to eat, that the table looked mighty tasty and leaned forward to gum on it. Of course, his mother was horrified by this, while Uncle Michael was pretty amused and admired his resilience in trying to get a taste of salsa. For some reason, his parents feel that baby food is more than good enough for him, not even noticing that there are very suitable things all around that could be mashed up for the boy to try. I've seen some of the food they give him. He had some peas last week that looked like they'd shredded up Styrofoam and put green food coloring in with it. And the look on his face as he ate it--it was almost like, "I may only be seven months old, but I have some taste!" Last night he had broccoli and chicken, which are two things I like separately, but the thought of mixing them together in a mushy paste does not sound too appealing. (Who the heck thinks up these baby foods, I ask you?) I am fully determined that Friday night at Grandpa's B'day/Father's Day shindig that Davis should get a taste of icing from the cake. I think it would change his whole perspective on the concept of what really good food is.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 6/24/2004 03:10:00 PM | |

Theater Thursday
Two Brothers opens this weekend in theaters, the story of two twin tiger brothers that are taken into captivity and seperated. Ahh, the drama. We all love movies that are based upon a cute, cuddly, little animal. Well, I guess King Kong wasn't so cute and cudddly. Or little for that matter. So yeah, you guessed it. Its all about animals this week.

1. Whats your favorite movie with an animal as the main character?
Does Disney's The Shaggy D.A. count? I throw this one out there because it was the first movie I saw in a movie theater, back for my third or fourth birthday many years ago. I've always kind of had a soft spot for in my heart since then. However, I'm also a fan of the Disney version of Robin Hood and I love the Lion King.

2. Least favorite? And is it your least favorite because of the species of the main character, or just because it was a bad movie?
I've only seen parts of it, but the one where Matt LeBlanc is a baseball player and hangs out with a monkey is pretty bad. I'm in such denial that I've ever seen it, that I've repressed the title. It wasn't that I hated that they used a monkey in the movie, I just didn't like the movie at all.

3. Do you prefer your movie animals to be animated or real?
In pondering the first two questions, a lot more animated movies came to mind than did movies with real animals. Probably because real animals are totally unpredictable and so we get more movies with animated animals. Also, animated animals don't eat as much (though the elephants will work for peanuts! Oh, I kill me sometimes!) So, that's really a long-winded way of saying I like the animated one just a bit more.

Bonus~ If you were to star in an animal movie... What type of species would you want your leading... animal to be. And why? C'mon be creative. Even name your animal flick.
A platypus. They're nature's comedians. And we'd star in Platypus: The Musical!

Me and my skunk?!?! Yeah, have fun. Remember to leave a link to your blog or your answers in the comments. 'Til next time...

posted by Michael Hickerson at 6/24/2004 10:28:00 AM | |
Wednesday, June 23, 2004
Scenes From a Job Fair.
In my on-going quest to find full-time permanent employment, I went to yet another job fair yesterday. This one took place at the 100 Oaks Mall and was advertised as featuring over 150 employers. (I didn't bother to count the number of booths to verify the accuracy of this claim.)

After remembering that I needed to update my resume and business cards with some new contact info and then taking care of that, I headed up for the mall. I arrived at the mall parking lot (which most of the time when I cruise by it's pretty empty--100 Oaks seems to be losing ground quickly) and it was hopping. I parked a reasonable distance away, got my briefcase out and headed into the mall. I got inside and things were hopping. I was given a plastic bag full of goodies--namely a pen, a map of who was there and information on each of the companies on site. I then took a deep breath, went over my 30-second speech about myself and went into the breach.

First of all, the one thing I'll have to say about job fairs if they are pretty much a cattle call. The only thing really missing is everyone wearing cow bells and mooing. Second of all, I kind of enjoy going to them not because this whole process of looking for permanent employment is fun (it's not's too much like work, only without vacation days and sick leave!) but because it's a great opportunity to people watch. I am always intrigued by the people at career and job fairs--especially in how they dress. In the whole job search thing as in life, there is never a second chance to make a first impression. Also, it's easier to be overdressed and then remove things like a tie or a coat to dress down than it is to dress-up once you're actually out there. Apparently a lot of people have not heard this advice because at any career fair, you will see a variety of people dressed in things such as T-shirts and ripped up shorts and flip-flops. (I am not making this up!) Of course, I think that I am extremely fortunate to be a guy because that really limits our choices a good deal--you go for the nice, conservative suit with a light shirt and a nice tie. Really the only choice you've got is the tie and that is pretty much not too difficult. For women, well, they have so many choices it's mindboggling. And you see all types of display at the career fair. There are some who dress very business casual, but I also saw a lot in mini-skirts and tight T-shirts as well. It's just all over the place.

Oh and here's another thing--some of the outfits chosen by both men and women looked like they'd been slept in for SEVERAL days. There is nothing like the "gee, I just rolled out of bed and didn't have anything else to do today, so I figured why not go get a job?" look that makes you REALLY attractive to potential employers.

Walking around the various booths, there were some companies that I didn't approach simply because a)they didn't have a position I was looking for or b)I was not qualified for anything they would offer. For example, you see a booth that is looking for medical professionals and you keep on going. That ain't me--anyone who knows me, knows I pass out with needles so being someone in the medical profession, not really going to happen. Also, sales just is not one of my strengths, so I tend to steer clear of those kinds of opportunities as well. But I did go up and speak to some of them. I even had to wait in line for a few, which I guess is good for them. And, of course, some I just cruised to get the free candy or other give-aways.

I stood in line at several, only to be told I was overqualified for anything they had, but thanks for stopping by. They'd keep my resume, but I shouldn't expect to hear anything from them. Which is fine--at least they're honest. One woman who told me I was overqualified then asked if I'd checked several web sites for jobs and gave me some suggestions. She just wanted to help out and I appreciate that. It's better than just plain, flat-out rejection.

I stopped at one booth and was shuffled from person-to-person. I finally got to the gentlemen that I was pointed toward and began speaking to him, keeping a mental note on the time. I figured about two minutes it the tops really unless you're knocking a home run. You want to be memorable in a good way, not in a negative way. And being seen as a bit of a stalker or way too wordy and stuck on yourself--not the best way to get full-time long term employment. While speaking to this gentleman, I could tell he was distracted. Apparently he saw someone behind me or off to the side that he had to speak to. So much so that he grabbed my resume, said they might be in contact and then dashed off down the mall. I then watched him catch up to an attractive blonde girl in a professional but short skirt, say, "I saw you looking at our booth. Are you interested in working for us?" and then begin to talk in detail to her. Guess that shows you the type of person they're looking for, huh?

As I continued my quest, I came upon another booth with a guy dressed in jeans and a polo shirt. He was speaking to the recruiter for the company and they seemed to have a good banter going. I was interested in the company so I decided to wait for an opportunity to ask some questions and introduce myself. At this point, I overheard the recruiter say, "I really think you'd be a great fit. May I have a copy of your resume?" to the job looker. At this point, the job looker says, "Well, I only have a few resumes left and I would really rather save those for a company I really want to work for." Needless to say, I wandered off and came back to this booth a few minutes later. I can't imagine that I'd make any impression about the recruiter was verbally slapped so.

So, the question is--will I find a job from any of this? The answer is probably not. But I could have told you that going into the job fair. But I didn't go up there necessarily looking for a job. (What?!? you ask. Isn't that the purpose?!?) I went into this job fair hoping to get some names with which to network. I may not necessarily have been qualified for what they were hiring for that day or were looking for, but I might be able to get my name in there later, when you aren't talking to a million people all in various stages of fashion. Now I did hand out a few resumes and a lot of business cards, so we'll see how that goes. I am also intrigued by a little experiment I performed. I recently heard a career counselor talk about a different way of creating an active as opposed to a passive resume. Figuring that I'd be one of a herd, I worked on an active resume a bit to see what might happen. I gave out copies of both resumes yesterday, depending on what the recruiter was looking for from me. So I am intrigued to see which resume--if any--gets the most response.

And I'm still thinking I should write a book about job hunting. Not one that tells you how to find a job, but a Dave-Barry-like humorous one. Heaven knows if I didn't find a way to find the humor in all of this, I'd have gone insane a long, long time ago.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 6/23/2004 12:32:00 PM | |

Today is Dad's birthday. Happy Birthday, Dad!

He's celebrating yet another anniversary of his 39th birthday, in case you were wondering. Of course, he's been out at a five-star resort all week at a conference so we'll have a dual celebration of his birthday and Father's Day Friday evening. Also, some cousins will be travelling through Nashville Sunday afternoon and they're coming over for dinner. It will be great to see family again--some of whom I haven't seen in over a year.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 6/23/2004 10:37:00 AM | |

The Hype Gets Bigger and Bigger
Only seven more days until Spider-Man 2 hits the theaters! Yes, I am beyond pysched for this one. (Spidey is my favorite superhero, going way, way back.) USA Today has published a series of articles, one of which examines the expectations of the sequel. Others of interest include 10 Questions with Toby Maguire and an article about the cast.

Newsweek also has a long article about the movie (including a fabulous photo of Kirsten Dundst!) as well as a glowing review for the movie. All this does is send me into an absolute tizzy to see the movie. Only one more week until it opens!

posted by Michael Hickerson at 6/23/2004 08:23:00 AM | |
Tuesday, June 22, 2004
TV Tuesday
"But wait, there’s more!"

2004 is the 20th anniversary for the infomercial. The first acknowledged informercial was for Herbalife, a weight loss supplement in the fall of 1984. From real estate investments to fitness equipment, and kitchen gadgets, infomercials played to the tune of $154 billion in sales last year.

But celebrities beware - Cher’s star status was chewed apart after appearing in an infomecial for hair care products, and Dionne Warwick’s Psychic Friends Network sent her image from classy to kooky. Who could forget Susan Powter: Stop the insanity!

1. Do you watch infomercials? Be honest now! LOL
When I worked for a newspaper and had to be up at an unearthly hour to cover the British Open and there was NOTHING else on the tube to keep me from falling asleep and I needed the noise, then yes, I did have it on as noise to keep me awake. But watch it--no, not at all.

2. What's your favorite infomercial or infomercial product?
Was Mr. Microphone sold on infomercials? That commerical is hilarious.

3. Have you ever bought anything from an infomercial? If so, what was it?
Well, at the big flea market that takes place the fourth weekend of each month in Middle Tennessee, they will often have some of the stuff you've seen advertised on TV and in those infomericals at ridiculously discounted prices. I have purchased--at the flea market--that amazing fake chamois thing that dries your car. It really does work. Not that you can tell with my car since I haven't washed it in weeks!

~Bonus~ What's the stupidest (most annoying, most worthless) infomercial you've ever seen?
Well, I'd have to say the ones for Girls Gone Wild take the cake. "Oh look, it's naked girls on TV! But wait, we can't show you that! So order up our video that features lots of drunk women taking their shirt off! Yeah,'ll love it."

posted by Michael Hickerson at 6/22/2004 02:02:00 PM | |

Monk--Mr Monk Takes Manhatten
At the end of last season, Monk finally got a new bit of information concerning the death of his beloved wife, Trudy. The only drawback was that the person with the new information lived in New York City, thus ensuring two things. One that Monk would have to travel by plane again (we've seen that before back to end season one) and that he'd have to visit the Big Apple.

Which is where season three begins--Monk, Sherona, Stottlemeyer and Disher all head to the Big Apple, with an appointment to meet and talk this informant and hopefully get closer to solving the mystery of Trudy's death and giving Monk some peace. Before you know it, Monk and company are caught up in another mystery--solving the murder of an ambassador and his two aides. Monk is reluctant to do so, but only by helping the NYPD on this case will he be allowed to talk to the man who built the bomb that killed Trudy. Now, the mysteries have never been the strong suit of Monk, I'll give you that. Sure there have been a couple that kept me guessing, but they've never been overly deep. The real joy of this show is watching Monk at work, played superbly by Tony Shaloub. Which is why this episode was a bit disappointing. We got to see Monk, but it wasn't in relation to his solving the mystery really. It was almost as if the writers said--boy, it sure would be fun to have Monk in New York City. Imagine how many things he'd freak out about?!? Well, certainly there is some requisite fun--Monk hates the subway, Monk beats out a shell game, Monk gets lost, etc. But the one thing that has worked so well for two seasons is that in whatever situation they put Monk, it was a function of the mystery of the week. Monk goes to prison to get a close to jail house informant, Monk goes on a plane and solves a murder. But taking Monk to New York City seemed like just a ploy to grab some attention for the season premiere and to turn the characters into two-dimensional charicatures of themselves. Isn't it funny that Disher buys a watch he thinks is a Rolex off the street but it's not? Isn't it great to see Sherona freaking out about Monk's disappearing? No, not really. It just felt hollow and not at all like the show that I've been watching the past two years. Yes, the show has had an occasional side-step, but none as glaring as this one. As I've said before, putting Monk into these situations and letting the good-natured humor flow out of the situation has worked well in the past--so long as the situation is a function of the central mystery of the week. The mystery of the week shouldn't serve as a function to get Monk to New York City. And when the mystery is dropped for long periods of time so we can see Monk try to talk to Stottlemeyer, but can't due to jack hammer in the background, it loses something. A lot of what it loses is our laughing along with Monk and not at him. We find humor in his situation, but we also feel compassion for him. I really felt nothing here, except in the end. The ending where Monk stands besides the bed of the man who helped kill Trudy and turns off his morphine was truly chilling. And equally as impressive was his turning it back on and saying that was Trudy doing it, not him. That scene worked and it almost redeemed the entire episode.

Hopefully, we'll get back to something a bit better next week. Maybe free of the need to tell a series of wacky New York City adventures, the show will get back to what makes it so enjoyable.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 6/22/2004 08:05:00 AM | |
Monday, June 21, 2004

The Dead Zone--Collision
I wish that USA's promo department hadn't included that Johnny's visions this week would be about the night of his accident. Knowing that going into the episode kind of ruined some of the dramatic tension in the first fifteen or so minutes of the story. "Collision" was interesting because we got some exploration of the Superman-complex Johnny has given himself in relation to his powers. If he has a vision, he feels compelled to do whatever it takes to make it right--even to the detriment of his own health. Any one else notice that in the teaser he speaks to Rebecca about going for dinner, but drops that immediately to help Walt with the case about the missing girl? Yes, I know it's a subplot to show that Johnny is asking Rebecca to dinner and she's accepting, thus setting up the kiss later, but it also speaks volumes over the course of the episode as Johnny keeps pushing the envelope to help the little girl in time. There was a lot about this episode that could have been a negative, but they made a positive. I have to admit I was worried that when we saw Johnny talking to himself in the car that they'd come up with some way to violate the rules of Johnny's visions that have been previously established--that he can't interact with them in terms of touching anything. Also, seeing Johnny pull himself from the car so that he could later save the little girl would have been too much. The little girl who kept walking through Johnny's vision of the night of his wreck was haunting and overall, this episode hit all the right notes. Seeing Rebecca in her element, helping Johnny work through the visions to get to what his Dead Zone was trying really trying to tell him was nicely done. Overall, a nicely done, creepy when it needed to be episode that continues to build on the success of this show. I just wonder if this season might not become about the limitations of Johnny's powers. I'd love to see an episode where he wants desparately to get visions but can't and his questioning of the nature of his powers then.

Dark Tower VI: The Song of Susannah by Stephen King
Before you read any further, I will post this warning. I'm going to give away huge SPOILERS for the latest Dark Tower book, The Song of Susannah. If you're a DT fan and don't want me to give away any of the developments in this book, then please, please turn back now.

The penultimate volume in King's Dark Tower saga, The Song of Susannah is a fast-paced, entertaining read. The pages literally flew by on this one for me. Like King, I felt immersed in the world he's created here and eagerly turned each page, seeing where things would take our heroes next. That's not to say a lot of huge developments happened in this novel. In a lot of ways, The Song of Susannah seems to be more about advancing the plot just enough to put the characters in place for the final volume of the series in September. Looking back, there isn't a lot of things that happen, per se, so much as we begin to understand how and why things are happening. King seems to be picking up the threads of his Dark Tower universe and weaving them together for the final novel. That's not to say there aren't so major surprises--another Beam falls, leaving only two left before the Fall of the Tower. We learn who the father of Susannah's child is and what role the child is expected to play. (The baby is intended to be Mordred to Roland's Arthur).

The novel starts with Roland, Eddie, Callahan, Jake and Oi trying to find a way to go after Susannah, who is in labor and posssessed by Mia. She took the Black 13 with them and escaped through the door in a cave into New York City in 1995. The men of Calla help to reopen the door, but Roand and Eddie are sucked into 1977 and run across Calvin Tower, who sells them the lot with the Rose from the pervious novel. They also seek out Stephen King, who works himself into the storyline of the Dark Tower. Meanwile, Jake, Callahan and Oi are swept to New York City in 1999 to pursue Mia/Susannah, who is in labor and headed for the Dixie Pig, a vampire hangout and the Crison King's home, to give birth to her child. A child who turns out to be Rolands and will be Roland's destruction. A lot of the book, as I've said, it about setting up things for the final run. Jake and Callahan arrive in at the outside of the Dixie Pig to rescue or kill Susannah, but don't go in. Susannah gives birth as the book ends and Eddie and Roland meet with King in 1977 and then vanish, heading for their date with ka. It's intersting to see King work himself into the novel as a character and the ending..well, let's just say it's one hell of a cliffhanger. If you've read King's On Writing and know much about the author's life the past few years, you will get some weird echoes. King even goes as far as killing himself off on the last page of the novel, hit by a van on a Maine road before he can complete his Dark Tower books in the fictional world. It's one heck of a cliffhanger and it left me intrigued to see where the next story would go. Certainly it's not quite as edge of your seat as the ending of book three, but it certainly does work. Overall, this is yet another great addition to the Dark Tower universe and it will leave you glad that you only have to wait a few more months to see how it all comes out, as opposed to the huge wait we had after the cliffhanger that ended The Wastelands.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 6/21/2004 01:37:00 PM | |

Ripped from the Headlines!
Internet ads go after Cheney's daughter
Why do they assume that Mary Cheney has "sold out"? At no point do her detractors try to contact her and see where she stands on the issue they're attacking her about. I think it would be interesting to know how she feels about all of this, though I doubt she'd come out and say anything either way during an election year.

Zoo Gorilla Escape Prompts Investigation
Kind of makes you think twice about the gorilla cages at the zoo, doesn't it? I will be interested to see if they ever find out just exactly how the gorilla escaped. The idea of using "speed bumps" to keep the gorillas from getting a running start to launch themselves out of their enclosures is interesting. But, it makes me wonder--how did the gorilla figure out it could do this? Was there a series of trial and error on the part of the gorilla or did it just get lucky that one time? This could make for a fascinating special on Animal Planet if they ever figure out exactly what happened and how it occurred.

Wachovia in deal to buy competitor SouthTrust; creates largest bank in Southeast
If you've got a SunTrust account, all I can say is--change banks now! Wachovia has extremely poor customer service. Also, all those ads you see for Wachovia Securities, esp. during sporting events--you'll pay for them with the million and one hidden fees they smack you with anytime you do something silly like use your account.

I was surprised to see Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story rake in enough cash to be number at the box-office this weekend. It got some fairly good reviews and a "fresh" rating of 69% over at Rotten Tomatoes. And to add fuel to the fire of wanting to see it, Rick and Bubba were discussing it in great detail this morning and making the movie just sound like exactly the kind of stupidly funny movie I'm always in the mood for. I wonder if this one is going to become a classic along the lines of Office Space?

Kentucky wins again
The Tennessee all-stars lost to Kentucky again?!? Three years is a row?!? What the heck?!? And with Kentucky turning the ball over FIVE times as well.

I got the privilege of covering the all-star game a couple of years ago while working for the Loudon County News-Herald. Tim Daniels, the coach for Loudon, was the Tennesse coach and I got to go up to Neyland Stadium, cover the game, wander freely on the sidelines, go up in the pressbox, etc. The whole experience was great and one of those great memories from my time as the sports editor at the paper.

Griffey Becomes 20th to Hit 500 Homers
Congratulations to Griffey for joining the 500-Home-Run Club. Personally, I'm glad to see you finally made it so we can stop hearing about it as the lead-off to EVERY SportCenter.

You've got to be kidding?!?
How in the world do the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, the only expansion team to never make it to the playoffs much less win a World Series, win eleven games in a row?!? And they've got a Major League best record of 11-1 in interleague play. Meanwhile, until yesterday's ninth inning grand slam, my Orioles were mired in a seven-game losing streak. Write it down now--the Tampa Bay Devil Rays will win the World Series. Of course, you also have to remember that EVERY year, I predict the Super Bowl will be the Titans vs the Redskins and that the Vols will be in the SEC and National championship games. So, take my prediction about the Devil Rays for what it's worth...

Lauren Jackson: WNBA MVP and more...
Is it just me or is it every season in the WNBA that we get a similiar storyline such as the one about Lauren Jackson? I seem to recall a year or more ago, that took a survey to see who was the "Hottest Player in the WNBA" and whoever "won" turned down the offer to appear in the magazine. Apparently, Jackson's decision to do the photo shoot is stirring up some controversy out in Seattle and even among other WNBA players. This letter's to the editor page shows a wide sampling of some of the fans' opinions about this. Of course, I'm sure the photos will soon be easily accessible all across the Internet--and they will probably hang around long after Jackson wishes they would disappear.

Grizzlies went to great lengths to keep new logo, colors secret
There's a lot of interest in the Memphis Grizzlies new logo and colors. So much so that one fan, Mario Lindsey, scoured the Internet to get a sneak peak at the new logo and then leaked it out to friends, family, newspapers, etc. All of the interest in the Grizzlie's new look reminds me a bit of the Titans changing from the Oilers to the Titans and adopting a new logo and colors. By doing that, they offically became a part of Tennessee and not just some transplant that up and moved here. Of course, they also had the good fortune of doing extremely well the year they changed their name and image-going to the Super Bowl and coming within one-yard of tying the game and sending it to OT (yeah, I'm still not over that one!). I know the Grizzlies defied expectations this year in the NBA but I think they're going to need another such year in order for this new logo and colors to really catch on and for them to be fully accepted an NBA team for Tennesee and not just some transplant.

The Comics
Admit it! This is the BEST part of the paper and the one that you always flip to first. These comics made me laugh, so I figured I'd share...
Non Sequitir
Get Fuzzy

posted by Michael Hickerson at 6/21/2004 08:36:00 AM | |
Friday, June 18, 2004

Walking in Memphis
Well, I'm headed toward Memphis tomorrow to visit my grandfather for Father's Day.

I've heard on the radio all week that the average person spends $86 on presents for Father's Day. My first thought it--my father would kill me if I spent that much on Father's Day for him. Of course, his b'day is right after Father's Day as well, thus meaning I'm caught in the double-whammy of finding two presents within a week or so. But, hey, he's certainly put up with my strange obsession with Doctor Who all these years--so much so that he took me to the Who-mobile once. (I may need to relate that story at some point in here...) So, I guess finding him a couple of really great gifts close together isn't really that bad...

Speaking of Doctor Who...

Baby-sitting for Davis tonight..he's been in quite a mood. I think he's trying to catch a cold and he's not happy about it. I can understand. Luckily, I brought over a Doctor Who DVD. He loves the opening credits. He hears the theme song and just stares transfixed at the screen. Another Doctor Who fan is born! He has been kind of fussy all night, but he's sleeping now. This will not last long, I'm sure. I took advantage of it to make some changes to my Blog. I think it looks pretty good and it's definitely more in keeping with the name for the Blog.

Before I head out, I saw this on The Neurotic Fish Bowl and had to try it it out...

BigOrangeMichael is a restricted area. Authorised personel only



posted by Michael Hickerson at 6/18/2004 09:03:00 PM | |

The Emperor's New Clothes
FOX keeps trying to convince us that the summer is no longer a vast wasteland of repeats, but instead a "whole new season" of exciting, new shows and that they are a revolutionary network for doing this. All of this kind of sounds exciting until you realize that this new marketing strategy is really nothing more that dressing up duds that wouldn't have made it during the fall or mid-season. I watched about fifteen minutes of the first episode of North Shore last night before giving up and flipping over to a 2nd season TNG repeat on Spike and I gave Quintuplets and The Jury a try as well. (There is not enough money in the world for me to willingly watch Simple Life). In each case, not one of these shows did anything to entice me to tune in again next week, much less be a faithful viewer during the warm summer months--unlike last year's brilliant but cancelled too soon Keen Eddie.

Thankfully, cable TV, specifically the USA Network, is helping out by having some decent, first-run shows during the summer. As you may already know from reading my blog, I'm a huge fan of The Dead Zone. And tonight, Monk is back. (Let me just say--the Emmys got it right last year giving the award to Tony Shaloub. Who'd've thunk Antonio from Wings was actually THIS good?!?) Unfortunately, this week's premiere is getting some bad press from USA Today's Robert Biano, a review in Entertainment Weekly was less than flattering but TV Guide On-Line seems to have good things to say about it. From the previews I've seen (which USA runs every break during Dead Zone), it looks like Monk heads to New York for tonight's episode which I hope is only a one-time, attention grabbing, season-premiere type of stunt. But I am interested in tonight's episode and will be tuning in with an open mind.

On a related note, there was a story in USA Today this morning about people with OCD and how they related to Monk. It's interesting reading. People with OCD find a friend in Monk

posted by Michael Hickerson at 6/18/2004 08:35:00 AM | |
Thursday, June 17, 2004

A Fun Movie Game
1. Bold the titles for the movies you've watched in their entirety.
2. Italicize the titles for the movies you've only partially watched.
3. Add three titles of your own choosing to the list.

01. Trainspotting
02. Shrek
03. M
04. Dogma
05. Strictly Ballroom
06. The Princess Bride
07. Love Actually
08. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
09. The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
10. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

11. Reservoir Dogs
12. Desperado
13. Swordfish
14. Kill Bill Vol. 1
15. Donnie Darko
16. Spirited Away
17. Better Than Sex
18. Sleepy Hollow
19. Pirates of the Caribbean

20. The Eye
21. Requiem for a Dream
22. Dawn of the Dead
23. The Pillow Book
24. The Italian Job (original)
25. Goonies
26. Baseketball

27. The Spice Girls Movie
28. Army of Darkness
29. The Color Purple
30. The Saftey of Objects
31. Can't Hardly Wait
32. Mystic Pizza
33. Finding Nemo
34. Monsters Inc.

35. Circle of Friends
36. Mary Poppins
37. The Bourne Identity
38. Forrest Gump

39. A Clockwork Orange
40. Kindergarten Cop
41. On The Line
42. My Big Fat Greek Wedding
43. Final Destination

44. Sorority Boys
45. Urban Legend
46. Cheaper by the Dozen (the original)
47. The Crow
48. The Princess and the Warrior
49. Seabiscuit
50. Hard Core Logo
51. Phantom of the Paradise
52. Zardoz
53. Lost in Translation
54. American Beauty
55. Big Fish
56. Starship Troopers
57. Starship Troopers 2
58. The Lost Boys
59. All About Eve
60. Showgirls (Once you get halfway through it, you might as well stay to the end, right?)
61. Swept Away
62. Kimberly
63. Velvet Goldmine
64. Deliverance
65. The Prophecy
66. The Secret of Roan Inish
67. Rugrats: The Movie
68. Fight Club
69. The Good, the Bad & the Ugly
70. Mystery Science Theater 3000: the Movie
71. The Shining

72. Run Lola Run
73. Halloween
74. Barfly
75. Naked Lunch
76. Rushmore
77. Brazil
78. The Maltese Falcon
79. Cat Soup
80. Better than Chocolate
81. Out of Africa
82. Rebecca
83. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
84. Attack of the Killer Tomatoes
85. The Searchers

A tip of the hat to Saroz for this.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 6/17/2004 11:23:00 AM | |

Theater Thursday
In honor of Father's Day, this weeks questions are all about Daddy Dearest. From Robin Williams portrayal as a father willing to do anything to see his children in Mrs. Doubtfire, to the sins of Chris Cooper in American Beauty, all movie dads have made us feel one way or another. So no matter if your dad is a saint or something... else, today is their day.

1. What actor has best portrayed the role of loving father? Name the actor and the film.
Jimmy Stewart in It's a Wonderful Life comes to mind--the scene where he "fixes" ZuZu's petals is one that just popped into my head thinking about this question. In the out of left field category: Clark W. Griswold from the Vacation movies. Chevy Chase just nails the over-the-top love of the family and wanting to do whatever it takes to give them the perfect family experience--whether it be that trip to Wally World or the Christmas holiday he's always dreamed of. One thing you can say about Clark--his heart is always in the right place, even if the outcome of his actions isn't always ideal (though it is often hilarious!). In the case of both roles, neither father was perfect, but they were trying their best and you can tell they genuinely loved their families. You can't really ask for much more than that.

2. What actor has best portrayed the role of world's worst father? Name the actor and the film.
Well, the father doesn't get a really good rap in ET, but then again we never see him on screen. There aren't any "world's worst movie fathers" that pop into my head for this question. Actually, after some more thought and MaeveKerry tickling my memory, I think that the king with the castle in the swamp from Monty Python and the Holy Grail wasn't too swift a father either. He just didn't seem to have any type of relationship with his son, other than his son being a pawn to marry the princess with the "huges tracts of land." He only cared about how the marriage would help him and had no interest in his son's desire to sing.

3. If there was a movie to be made about your life, what actor would portray your father?
Sure, it's easy to come up with the ideal actor to play me (David Duchony or Dean Cain), but the actor to play my dad...that's a tough one. One on hand, I'd like to say Clint Eastwood, but he's too old for the part. I would probably have to go with Tom Hanks because he has the ability to do both the comedy and the drama for the role of my dad.

Happy Father's day to all of you fathers out there.
I love you, Daddy! Remember to leave a link or your answers in the comments. 'Til next time...

Daddy loves ya.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 6/17/2004 09:54:00 AM | |

Things That Caught My Limited Attention Span
Last weekend, I commented on CMT Fan Festival's taking place here in Nashville and the new artists looking to find their way into the mainstream of country music. Three potential up-and-coming artists were profiled (well, at least in the stories I linked out to). This morning in USA Today there was an article along the same lines. One part of the article that caught my attention:

"So many artists are hitting the scene at the same time, there's simply not room for all of them to break. Many — even some widely regarded as substantial talents — will get overlooked, at least for the time being."

Now, I know music is a business and one of the cornerstones of Nashville. But I wonder who these "substantial talents" are who are being "overlooked." USA Today also has a related sidebar about Newbies wowing Nashville. Interesting reading.

Man says he will give foul ball to boy
Matt Starr, it's too late...the whole world thinks you're a jerk.

I guess they figured if they had half the number of mismatched siblings trading insults and barbs with one another, that it'd be twice as funny as Just the Ten Of Us. Unfortunately, someone forgot to clue them in that Just the Ten of Us wasn't really that funny. (OK, sure I tuned in, but that was because I was a teenager and the older girls were cute!) Poor old Andy Richter--someone over at FOX must just out and out hate the guy. First he loses the brilliantly funny Andy Richter Controls the Universe and now he's starring in this show. The premise of harried parents trying to raise quintuplets is interesting, but they do nothing with it. Mom and Dad are worn out by taking care of the kids and get tickets to a Springsteen concert. This just happens to be after Mom ruined the big party so the quints can now throw a party and regain their cool status--well, at least the two out of five that are "cool." Oh yeah, and Dad eats a plate of "special" brownies at the concert. Let the hilarity commence. As Saavik said in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, "Humor, it is a difficult concept." This show needs a remedial course...

The Drew Carey Show
First of all, I know that this was the season ABC didn't want but had already paid for, so they're burning off the episodes during the summer. But that really doesn't excuse ABC showing these episodes in a haphazard order. Now, I know that Drew Carey isn't 24 where continuity is everything, but what ABC has done, so far, this season is just a travesty. Last year when we left Drew, his bride had left him at the altar, his brother was around and married to Mimi, his father was still alive and Kelly was secretly pining for Drew, but he had no idea she was in love with him. Suddenly this year, Drew and Kelly are dating (now expecting a child together, but she won't marry him due to Drew's bad track record with engagements), the brother is AWOL, Drew's nephew has pulled a Andrew from Family Ties and grown up five years between seasons and Drew's father has passed away. This would be like NBC in the second season of Friends skipping from Ross getting off the plane with Julie to Ross and Rachel kissing in the rain at the coffee shop. And yet, I keep tuning in each week. It's probably because when it first started, Drew Carey was a pretty funny show and one that I really enjoyed and I keep hoping for maybe a glimmer of that again. But if this is the way it's going to keep going, I wish ABC would pull these final episodes and give us some new episodes of Whose Line Is It Anyway? It features Drew and I know there has to be more footage there than EVER made it to the airwaves. Or better yet--bring the show back. It was always good for a laugh and it's not like they're ever going to run out of hilarious material to improv.

South Park
Time travellers from the year 3045 come back in time, willing to work for literally pennies a day which they invest in savings accounts and then be rich beyond their dreams in the future from the interest. And as more and more immigrants from the future arrive in our time and the town is slowly put out of jobs, the hilarity increases as they try to find a way to destroy the future, thus eliminating the immigrants. I have to admit that the past two episodes of South Park I've seen have been dead-on funny, even now eight seasons into the show. I love how things quickly spiral out of control on this show--the men all deciding that the only way to destroy the future is everyone to turn gay was hilarious. I can't believe I missed all of these new episodes this season, but that does at least give me one funny show to watch during the summer that is completely new to me.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 6/17/2004 08:10:00 AM | |
Wednesday, June 16, 2004

You know it's going to just be one of those kind of days when the first call of the morning goes soemthing like this:

Me: Good morning, office of loans and scholarships. This is Michael. May I help you?

Woman: Yes, don't you have an 800 number so I can call you back on it and not pay for this call?

Me: No ma'am, we don't.

Woman: Did you use to? Why don't you have one.

Me: I'm sorry, ma'am. I don't know. What can I do for you this morning?

Woman: Well, my daughter has been accepted at ________ school and we thought that the paperwork was the same for a scholarship and a loan. Now, I find out it isn't and she needs a loan by July 1 for school in the fall. Can you send out the loans paperwork?

Me: Yes, I can. I just need your daughter's name and address, please.

Woman: Can't you download them? See, her school needs her funding by July 1. How fast can she get her loan?

Me: I'm sorry, we don't have the applications for download since part of it is a legal contract for the loan. I would be happy to take her information and send the application out with today's mail.

Woman: How fast will it get here? She needs money by July 1 and we're scrambling.

Me: I will send it out this morning, ma'am.

Woman: How soon would she get approved? When would she get the money? What is the interest rate?

You get the idea. I explained our procedures to her and how things worked, which sort of satisfied her, but not really. I really had to bite back the tempation to say, "Lack of planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on mine" (a favorite saying among those of us who do the answering of phones...I am thinking of having it cross stitched on a pillow.). But I didn't. It did make me think of what my good friend, Leslie the teacher always said when relating to parents. "Yes, your child is special, just like all the rest of them."

On a happier note, this morning's Close to Home cracked me up.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 6/16/2004 08:37:00 AM | |
Tuesday, June 15, 2004

What it was was slaughterball….
There’s been a lot of interest lately in the game of dodge ball, a lot of that thanks to the Ben Stiller movie coming out Friday about the game. Seeing the preview, I felt sure that this whole thing was just something Stiller embellished for the humor factor. Well, that was until I saw an article about competitive professional dodge ball in this morning’s Tennessean.

Yes, I was as stunned as you are.

But all this interesting in the game of dodge ball has set me on a trip down memory lane—to my teenage years. I was living in northern California at the time and starting that wonderful journey known as the teenage years. Part of the privilege was being part of the youth group at church. I’d been anticipating this for years since it always seemed the youth were doing something fun—whether it be going hiking or staying out all night at a Lock-In or just going places without your parents. The unlimited freedom of being dropped off and without parental influence for two hours—well, it was just nothing short of magical.

The church we attended was a small one, and thus the youth group was rather small. Not that it really mattered. We were the youth group and I felt this entitled me to some level of being considered “cool.” Whether or not I was actually cool (OK, I was a youth who watched Star Trek and then later discovered the insanity that is Doctor Who…you do the math on whether or not I was cool or even within five miles of the border leading up to cool.), I'm not really sure about. But the thing was--I felt like I was cool.

Now, powers wiser than us felt in order we youth not to be totally warped, we needed to have both a male leader and a female leader. The male leader was pretty much set—it was Tom Anderson, an older man with a Scottish accent who ruled with an iron fist. Well, that and the threat of a snuggie. You may not know exactly what a snuggie is—it’s basically a weedgie, only far more intimidating. You did something stupid such as smarting off to Tom, breathing the wrong way, etc and you were quickly running to avoid the humiliation of having your underwear grabbed and pulled up in places it’s not really supposed to go. And don’t even get me started on the horrors of the double snuggie—wherein both sides were pulled up. I still wonder about my ability to have children to this day thanks to the horror that was a double snuggie. But for all of this threats and blustering, Tom really loved all the youth. He’d have to to put up with us not only at youth meetings on Thursday nights but also as our Sunday School teacher.

Somehow we’d managed to run off the previous female leader—I’m not sure exactly how. I was relatively new to the group at this point and wasn’t sure of the entire story. Part of it was that the previous leader had her first child and wanted to spend more time with the child. But I really think the bigger part of it was that she saw us play Slaughter Ball a couple of times and had to go into therapy for it. Anyway, we were set to get a new female leader—this after months of searching. Her name was Deborah and not only had she volunteered to take us on as a leader, she’s offered to have her first night be without Tom there to keep us in check.

Not that we hadn’t been warned, mind you. We were all under threat of the worst double snuggy you’d ever experienced should Debby report back anything amiss.

Now, at the time, the youth group was kind of small. And it was mostly guys. So, without any girls around for us to try to impress, we were pretty much a bunch of hooligans. But then again, Tom had warned us. And he had the threat.

It was a warm summer evening and Debby came. There weren’t very many of us—it may have just been Joshua, the minister’s son, Greg and myself. We were standing around and Debby came over, trying to break the ice. We talked back and forth, sort of testing each other, seeing what we were getting into .

Then Debby made her first mistake. “So, what do you guys want to do?” she asked.

Josh and I looked at each other, an evil gleam in our eyes. We looked to Greg, who had the same grin on his face.

“We could play Slaughter Ball,” Josh said.

“OK, as long as Tom wouldn’t mind,” Debby said.

“Oh, he lets us play all the time,” said Greg.

OK, so it was stretching the truth a bit. Yes, Tom let us play Slaughter Ball. But he never let us play unlimited amounts. We got to play for a few minutes but it was heavily supervised by Tom and kept in line by the always imminent threat of a snuggie (have I mentioned they’re painful yet?). But we’d never had so much time stretching before us to play. We were excited.

The church we attended was a small one and it had a nice fellowship hall with lots of windows in it. Sliding glass doors actually. And it had this wonderful stripe down the middle of it—almost as if God had told the architects to make this room the perfect place to play SlaughterBall.

Now, Slaughter Ball was just like dodge ball only more intense. Hence the name Slaughter Ball. Your goal was to hurl the ball at opponents and try and get them out. Of course, if they caught the ball you were out. So, you pretty much were hurling it as hard as you could at legs, head, etc. Pretty much anywhere you couldn’t catch the ball. The game was pretty brutal at times—so brutal that we had to put folding chairs in front of the windows to ensure we didn’t break any of them. Now, hurling a ball at others at insane speed with closed folding chairs in front of windows—you’re gonna have a lot of noise and chairs falling down. It’s going to basically be a huge racket and the thought of—dear God, they’re breaking the entire church.

Now, Tom was used to this. Debby wasn’t.

And we played. Oh how we played. It was intense. We got hot and sweaty. It was just one of those games that they are probably still talking about on a sports call in show somewhere. I remember the chairs crashing and windows getting hit, spectacular falls and poor Debby standing in the side of the fellowship hall, paler than the white walls. She was pretty much one step from being called home. And, of course, we were having a blast.

As far as we were concerned, she was the best counselor we’d have had and we wanted to keep her until the end of time, if not beyond.

Well, that is, until Sunday when Tom found out what we’d been up to. Let’s just say I didn’t get much out of the lesson that day—I was too busy pulling underwear out of places it shouldn’t have been after not one but two double snuggies. Josh and Greg suffered the same fate as well.

But looking back, I have to admit, it was all worth it.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 6/15/2004 09:35:00 PM | |

I Should Have Known...
As soon as I saw this quiz, I had a feeling about how it would turn out, but I took it anyway. No big shocks in the results. Of course, I've only see The Breakfast Club once or maybe twice in my life. Does that make me a bad person?

You're Brian Johnson! "the Brain"
Geeky,smart, and easily shaken. You strive for
perfection and often go to extremes when A's
don't come naturally to you. Keep hitting the
Bud and maybe you'll relax more.

Which Breakfast Club Character are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

Tip of the hat to Missives Anonymous for this.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 6/15/2004 10:51:00 AM | |

TV Tuesday
TV Dads
Since Father's Day is this Sunday I thought this week would be a good chance to explore TV Dads! TV Moms got their chance and now it's Dad's turn! So in honor of all those hard working and lovable dads out there, this one's for you! :)

1. Which TV Dad would you have most liked to have for your own dad? On the flipside, who was the TV Dad you'd have least liked to have had?
I think it'd be great to have Mr. C from Happy Days as my TV father. As for the TV father I wouldn't want, I'm gonna go with Al Bundy from Married With Children.

2. Who do you consider the most realistic TV Dad? Who did you consider simply too good to be true?
I hate to say it, but at least early on in the series, Homer Simpson was the best example of a realistic TV Dad. He struggled with things, but in the end he loved the family and the kids and was just trying to do what was best for them. As for a dad that is simply too good to be true, I'd have to say most of the ones from the early 50s sit-coms like Ozzie Nelson, Ward Clever and the dad from Father Knows Best.

3. Let's play a little Dad word association, what's the first word that comes to mind when you see the following names:

George Jetson :: His boy Elroy...
Cliff Huxtable :: Wacky stories
Dan Conner :: Plaid shirts
Gomez Addams :: "Dah-duh-dum-dum! ::snap! snap!::
Archie Bunker :: Old-fashioned
Jed Clampett :: Unpretentious
Ward Cleaver :: Lectures to the Beaver
Tony Micelli :: Housekeeper
Ozzie Nelson :: VERY old-fashioned
Homer Simpson :: "D'oh!"

~BONUS~ Use the letters F-A-T-H-E-R-S D-A-Y to describe your own dad!
E--Every day, he does his best.
S--Silly and funloving.
Y--Young at heart.

And a VERY Happy Father's Day to all you Dad's out there!! :)

posted by Michael Hickerson at 6/15/2004 09:38:00 AM | |

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