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Name: Michael
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Friday, December 31, 2004
It's the end of 2004 as we know it...
It's New Year's Eve 2004...doesn't it seem like just a year ago it was New Year's Eve 2003?

It's been quite a year in my life--a roller coaster ride. But, thanks to a lot of good friends and my family, I've made it through.

I now look forward to a whole new year in 2005.

So, everyone out there in the blog-sphere--have a safe and healthy New Year's careful and don't party too much!

posted by Michael Hickerson at 12/31/2004 08:27:00 AM | |
Thursday, December 30, 2004
As 2005 approaches...

Pieces of Me by Ashlee Simpson

"Fall, with you I fall so fast
I can hardly catch my breath
I hope it lasts"

In 2004 you fell in love. Let's hope it lasts.

What 2004 Hit Song Are You?

Yeah, this one was totally accurate...NOT!

Your New Years Resolution Should Be: Get rid of your "computer butt"

You've got more than "back" - you've got a big, fat ass.
And it's probably because you count multiple IM sessions as exercise
So, get yourself on the Hacker's Diet, stat...
And then you can stop pretending that you're a hot chick in chat rooms.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 12/30/2004 01:56:00 PM | |

Guess it means I'm "book smart"

Your Dominant Intelligence is Linguistic Intelligence

You are excellent with words and language. You explain yourself well.
An elegant speaker, you can converse well with anyone on the fly.
You are also good at remembering information and convicing someone of your point of view.
A master of creative phrasing and unique words, you enjoy expanding your vocabulary.

You would make a fantastic poet, journalist, writer, teacher, lawyer, politician, or translator.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 12/30/2004 01:55:00 PM | |

Not your typical Christmas morning TV fare...
The Umana family, along with probably several other people in Ohio, tuned into a local public access station on Christmas morning to listen to a church choir sing carols. Instead they got some adult cinema....

Of course, a lot of rude comments came to my mind immediately, such as...
  • "Guess that's not Mary, cause there ain't no way she's still a virgin."
  • "And the fourth Wise Man brought the adult cinema, hence why he isn't mentioned in scripture."
  • "I tuned in to see a Yule log..."
  • "I really didn't know the Grinch would steal that much of Christmas..."
I am sure there are many others and I have faith my fellow bloggers will help post as many as they can in the comments...

Meanwhile, in related news, new cable subscriptions in the area are up 200%....

posted by Michael Hickerson at 12/30/2004 11:30:00 AM | |

A nice day
The Inn of the Last Home 2004 Tennessee Tour made a stop in the great city of Nashville Tuesday afternoon. I was able to meet Barry, L, BrainyBoy and Tink for lunch up at Opry Mills. We had lunch at the Aquarium restaurant. I have to admit part of me felt a bit guilty chowing down on fish and chips while their brothers swan along in the tank. I think a couple of clownfish were giving me dirty looks and plotting my demise, if only they could get out of the tank.

The company, the food and the just overall restaurant were great. The service was next to pitiful. I am convinced that there is a rip in the space/time continuum somewhere between our table and the kitchen because our server seemed to routinely fall into it. It took her 20 minutes to bring out our drink orders--which did not include anything from the bar. Only thing I can figure is they are hauling in ice from Alaska for the Iccees that BB and Tink ordered.

Of course, Opry Mills was packed..isn't it always? But it was even worse than usual because there was some type of high school cheerleading competition going on over at the Opryland Hotel. I started having flashbacks to high school when girls in short skirts who were way too peppy for their own good routinely ignored me. Good thing to know nothing has changed over the years becuase they still wear short skirts, are still too peppy and they still ignore me. And pretty much everyone else around them as I found out trying to traverse the mall later to find something for Mom. (Good news is, I found it.)

To top off the the good news from the day, I finally caught up to my good friend Leslie from Knoxville--we'd been playing phone tag for a couple of days because she had some news she wanted to tell me. I had deduced that since the message was in a happy tone of voice and she'd been dating someone really nice last time we'd really talked that it was good news and that I'd have to put another set of Star Trek steak knives on order. We finally got to talk and catch up and she told me that she and her boyfriend got engaged...let me just say, that I'm happy for both of them, but unhappy for all us guys who might someday ask a special lady to marry us because Doug set the bar pretty high with the lengths he went to for his proposal--including writing the proposal as a song and having a back-up band while he sang it to her. We then caught up for a long while on people we know and made snarky comments about several of them. How can you not enjoy a day like that?

posted by Michael Hickerson at 12/30/2004 07:59:00 AM | |
Wednesday, December 29, 2004
If you're going through Lost withdrawal...
Forget about Alias...the real excitement about next Wednesday is that we get our first new epsiode of Lost for 2005!

If you're like me and starting to feel withdrawal pangs, here a couple of articles that might help. The first is from the New York Post and talks about the sudden, rampant fan speculation concerning the character of Hurley. Reading this article, the only thing that concerns me is the sudden comparisons to The X-Files--one of my favorite shows of the 90s, at least for the first five or six years. If any of you were X-Philes like myself, you remember at first how great it was, how much fun it was for the conspiracy to slowly develop...until suddenly in about season five you realized that Chris Carter and company had no clue where this was going and were making it up as they went along. I hope that Lost doesn't do this and have such a huge collapse as the X-Files did in the later seasons--pretty much anything after the movie and really pronounced after Duchovny departed stage left.

Meanwhile, TV Guide On-Line has an article speculating on just who the character of Ethan really might be. Nothing new there really, but it's still interesting.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 12/29/2004 08:31:00 AM | |

The Amazing Race
I tuned in last night expecting to at least see who get eliminated from the last leg of the Race, but apparently it was not to be. Instead, we got a clips show of footage that wasn't used the first time around. And what did we learn from this? Well, we learned that Kendra can be a witch with a capital B even more than we originally suspected. I learned there are at least three more reasons to find Jonathan's behavoir deplorable. I was glad to see the editors didn't go with the footage of him shoving Victoria again, though I honestly wished there'd been some footage of Phil punching Jonathan for the way he treated Victoria in the infamous shoving incident. Also, Jonathan's inability to say the name "Sengal" correctly really got irritated--espeically when they showed that footage going into and coming out of the commercial break. We also got to see a bit more footage of Adam and Rebecca and we can see why the term "formerly dating" applies. The scene were Rebecca flirted for food on the train was a riot, but also very telling.

What this special did was confirm some thoughts that had been rambling around in my head the past few weeks...namely that a lot of the teams that we could get behind such as Don and Mary Jean, Lena and Kristy were all eliminated too early. Seeing how Don and Mary Jean overcame every obstacle put in front of them with grace and without shouting at each other was refreshing. Even when they were behind, each of them found positive things in ech leg of the Race to comment on and to encourage each other. Talk about a template for a healthy, well-adjusted relationship.

And Lena and Kristy--they certainly were portrayed in an interesting light. Putting on their make-up before a pit stop because Phil would be there was a riot. But was it just me or did anyone else get some weird, too-close-for-sisters overtones to the whole sleeping in tents in the snow stuff? I mean, hearing them talk about cuddling up in one sleeping bag naked to conserve heat...I have to tell ya there were some odd overtones to that. Or maybe it's just my mind going places it shouldn't....or both.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 12/29/2004 08:17:00 AM | |
Tuesday, December 28, 2004
Where Are Your Spending Priorities?
Today's Nashville City Paper had an interesting little editorial about a study on the things in life that people won't skimp on.

Here's the list:

1. Personal computers
2. Meat
3. Home or apartment itself
4. Furniture
5. Sit-down restaurants
6. Cars
7. Bedding
8. Kitchen appliances
9. Home entertainment products
10. Travel/vacations

And here's the things that people aren't willing to "trade down" on in buying:

1. Canned foods
2. Dry goods
3. Snack foods
4. Household cleaners
5. Paper products
6. Fast-service restaurants
7. Accessories
8. Soft drinks
9. Bottled water
10. Over-the-counter health remedies

The study, conducted by Boston Consulting Group looked at shoppers who make more than $50,000 annually in their household. I found it extremely interesting to see that a lot of people are cut corners on the small things--what you probably purchase every day--and not on the larger things such as computers.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 12/28/2004 07:44:00 PM | |

TV Tuesday
Best of 2004

It's the end of the year and it seems as if everyone is coming up with a list of the top television events and shows of 2004. So why not do the same thing for those of us who really know--the TV Tuesday crowd?

1. List your top shows/TV moments of the year. You can do top five, top ten, however you want.
My top shows of 2004 are....
1. Lost
2. Angel
3. Scrubs
4. 24
5. Farscape: The PeaceKeeper War
6. Arrested Development
7. Star Trek: Enterprise
8. Without a Trace
9. The 2400
10. The Dead Zone
11. Two and A Half Men

2. List the best new TV show you've seen this year.
Without a doubt, Lost. Best new show since Firefly hit the airwaves.

3. Tell us the worst new TV show you sampled this year.
I watched about one episode of Quintuplets and was bad.

4. Is there a show that got the axe last year that you wish hadn't?

5. What show that left the airwaves this last year had the best finale?
Angel. A close second has to be Frasier.

Happy New Year everyone! Be safe!

posted by Michael Hickerson at 12/28/2004 07:29:00 PM | |

Putting the Vols' season in perspective
I like Jimmy Hyam's latest UT Insider article from today's Nashville City Paper. It really puts the entire UT football season into a great perspective.

As I've said before, I think we overachieved this year. It's going to be hard for next year to top this year, but I think the football team can come close next year. I just hope they don't do a colassal Notre Dame like dive from the first to second season under Ty Willingham. Let's face it--we're gonna have some fans with huge expectations of the Vols...and the scary thing is that I think in two years, if things develop like they should, look out for the Vols...

posted by Michael Hickerson at 12/28/2004 05:32:00 PM | |
Monday, December 27, 2004
State of Fear

There was a time when everything that Michael Crichton touched seemed to turn to gold. The streak really started with Jurassic Park, continued with ER and then we got Disclosure. But over the past couple of years, the Crichton name, while still popular has lost some of its luster. Honestly, I think this is because his last few books have felt like they’re just script treatments begging to be turned into blockbuster movies—just look at Prey, Timeline and the biggest culprit—Jurassic Park: The Lost World.

Indeed, Crichton’s last two books, Prey and Timeline, have been pretty lackluster at best. Gone are the days when Jurassic Park or Sphere had you turning the pages well into the wee hours of the morning being both educated by the Crichton’s science and entertained by the sheer driving force of the narrative.

It’s also hard to remember that as successful as Crichton has been, that he can also be a bit controversial. His willingness to tackle the issue of sexual harassment defined Disclosure and warned a new generation of men about the dangers present to them in the modern workplace. Now almost ten years after Disclosure, Crichton turns his attention to another controversial topic—the issue of global warming—in his new novel, State of Fear.

This book is liable to really annoy a lot of the environmental community because Crichton asserts that not only is global warming not really the huge threat it’s been portrayed to be, there is pretty much no evidence that global warming is occurring at all. Instead, what we, the general public, are being fed is a series of terrifying statistics and reports to keep us in a “state of fear.” Crichton’s assertion is that after the Cold War, there were no more enemies to fight to keep the United States populace in a state of fear, fighting a common enemy—hence the sudden emphasis on environmentalism in our news and reports.

Crichton backs up all this up with a wealth of documentation and evidence throughout the book. Only in a Michael Crichton novel will you have footnotes.

Indeed, reading State of Fear, I was reminded a lot of Disclosure—Crichton’s early 90’s warning about sexual harassment. The novel barrels along at breakneck pace, slowly setting up the premise that global warming isn’t happening and that we understand very little about the environment many of us are so sworn to protect. In fact, for the first half of the novel, one would assume Crichton is writing a novel in far of environmental controls.

It’s only in the second half that the real agenda comes out. Do we really know how the environment works? Is there really such a thing as leaving nature alone and keeping a place in its natural state? What is the natural state? Crichton gives us his opinion on them throughout the course of the story.

His final conclusion—the fight to preserve the Earth and its resources should be an on-going, ever changing battle. It should change with each generation because each generation will face its own crisis. There is no global right or wrong answer that will work in every situation.

But all of this would just be a scientific paper if it were not for the page turning thrills that we’ve come to associate with Michael Crichton. I’m happy to report that after his last two lackluster books, this one is a breath of fresh air. I almost feel as if Crichton believes so strongly in his argument that he doesn’t care if the story gets optioned for a movie and he returns to his old form—page turning suspense and intriguing situations. Yes, some of the character are a bit two dimensional, but overall the story is intriguing one that will keep you turning the pages.

But how you receive the overall message may depend on how you feel about the environmental movement. If you approach State of Fear with an open mind, you just might learn a few things. I have a feeling in a few years many of us will look back at State of Fear as a warning of things to come much as we look back now at Disclosure.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 12/27/2004 09:18:00 PM | |

I am so damn sick and tired of the Washington Redskins finding ways to lose to the Dallas Cowboys. Yesterday, Vinny Testaverde, who is older than Methusalah, throws a TD pass with 30-seconds left after it looked like for a long time we had this thing won. What happened to our NFL second-rated defense?!?

I hate, hate, hate, hate losing to the Cowboys. I honestly wish a sinkhole would open in Dallas and swallow the entire team, their stadium and all their band-wagon fans. I hate them, I hate them, I hate them.

What kind of stinkin' mental block do the Redskins have that we can only win one game against them in the past 15 or so tries? Can we please, please, please find a way to end this stupidity next year, Joe Gibbs? When you were in Washington before, you knew how important this game was to the psyche of the fans and the team. Please, please start preparing now to beat the stuffing out of the damn Cowboys next year...

posted by Michael Hickerson at 12/27/2004 01:04:00 PM | |

Congratulations, Peyton Manning
Peyton Manning broke the NFL's single season record for passing touchdowns yesterday in Indy's come from behind victory over the San Diego Chargers. And true to form, the pass that broke the record came on a drive to tie the game and send it into overtime.

After the game, Peyton once again showed enormous class in accepting the gravity of the moment. Yes, he's glad to get the record, but Peyton was even more pleased that his team got a win and locked up the third seed in the upcoming AFC playoffs. Next week, the Colts take on Denver, who are fighting for their playoff life. I hope that Peyton and company put the Broncos out of their misery early and can start getting ready for the playoffs.

Congratulations to Peyton Manning, a former Vol and another great representative of the Volunteers in the NFL.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 12/27/2004 11:58:00 AM | |
Sunday, December 26, 2004
I'm feeling old....
One of the things I've enjoyed the most about the last year is getting the opportunity to work with the youth at church. Growing up, the youth group was very important to me and I'm glad that I have this opportunity to help create a similiar expereince for some of the young adults at church.

That said, there are times when I feel old being around people who are teenagers.

I think I've talked before about how I threw out a reference to Three Amigos! a while ago only to get puzzled looks and to find out very few of them had seen the movie!

But today...well, today was interesting.

Today, Doug was talking to me at fellowship time and he was telling me about the computer he got for Christmas. He was excited because he had a CD burner so he could make his own if only he had some blank CDs. He then tells me he got a really cool movie for Christmas and he wondered if I'd seen it.

I asked him what it was.

He told me it was Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

I told him, of course, I'd seen it. It's pretty much a requirement in order to graduate from college. He then said he wasnt' sure if I might have seen it as I might be too "old" for the humor of it.

I think he was kidding with me....

Let me rephrase that--I hope he was kidding with me.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 12/26/2004 07:41:00 PM | |

In Memory: Reggie White
I was stunned and saddened to hear about the death of Reggie White today. White was a good football player and an even better man off the field. White played for the Vols from 80-83 and then went on to a great career in the NFL. But it wasn't just his football playing skills that made him special--it was who he was off the field.

He will be missed.

I ask for prayers for White's family during this time of mourning.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 12/26/2004 07:28:00 PM | |
Saturday, December 25, 2004
Merry Christmas!

Our family Christmas tree before the opening began! Posted by Hello

Let's just say that Santa made it here and he brought a LOT of presents with him. That is in addition to the huge piles of gifts that were given to each other. Gracelyn loved her Care Bear and she also got a Cabbage Patch Kid named Lynette. She was funny trying to carry around Lynette and Cheer Bear and still try to find a way to open presents. Davis loved all of his presents--especially those that made noise. He got a toy hammer that makes all kinds of sounds and noise when you hit that he loved. He also got a (among many things) a radio that plays music that he jammed to.

And just to show that the best Christmas gifts have no cost...Davis said, "Michael" today. I was there and heard it.

Also, I am happy to report good news about Danielle over at Missives Anoymous' brother. For those of you who may not be aware, he was in a serious auto crash last weekend. The great news, that I read today, is that he is making baby steps toward recovery. I rejoice with Danielle and her family in this and also ask that if any of my fellow blogger who do so to add Greg and his family to your prayer list.

Finally, a few fun things for Christmas....

You Are "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Clause"

Then I saw mommy tickle santa claus
Underneath his beard so snowy white
Oh, what a laugh it would have been
If daddy had only seen
Mommy kissing santa claus last night

At Christmas, you feel like a kid again
Complete with major Christmas eve insomnia

Your Christmas is Most Like: A Christmas Story

Loving, fun, and totally crazy.
Don't shoot your eye out!

Tip of the Santa hat to Jen at All Things Jen(nifer) for the quizzes.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 12/25/2004 01:02:00 PM | |
Friday, December 24, 2004
Tracking Santa
Every Christmas Eve, Norad tracks Santa on their web site. Man, I wonder how my parents got me to sleep before we had this way of telling us exactly where Santa was on his rounds....

posted by Michael Hickerson at 12/24/2004 02:18:00 PM | |

Santa Claus Is Coming to Town.
Christmas Eve 2005 is here! Ready or not!

I am ready. I've wrapped all my presents and put them under the tree. We're going to the early service this evening at church and then coming back home to get ready for Santa's visit. Santa is visiting Grandma and Grandpa's house this year because it's easier for his elves to put things out of sight of certain small children there. The good part, for me, is that I get to help Santa out with the eating of cookies and feeding the reindeer (we are leaving out carrots for Rudolph, though when I was little I used to leave our carrots for other reindeer as well figuring Rudolph, being as popular as he is, was getting more than his fair share).

Let me tell you, being Santa's elf has been quite an experience this year. Back over Thanksgiving weekend, Gracelyn went to visit Santa and told him she wanted a pink Care Bear. Several of Santa's elves were informed of this and asked to look out for one. Susan wanted one for her that she could cuddle in bed and didn't sing, dance or otherwise make noise. (What's the fun in that, asks Uncle Michael, but I digress...) Anyway, I saw one at Wal-Mart but didn't pick it up then. A few day later I went back and it was gone...

No problem, I figure. That's why there is on-line shopping. Except they're out. And the type of pink Care Bear we wanted to get was discontinued. So, it's raining enough outside that a guy is out there building a ship and pairing up animals. But I want to make sure that Santa delivers the gift promised, so I head to Murfreesboro to Wal-Mart and find the object of the quest. I pick it up and everyone is happy. Until three or four days later when Gracelyn is convinced--convinced I tell you!--that she told Santa she wanted a blue Care Bear. Luckily blue is not nearly as hard to find as pink and I got one of those two...Santa is a smart guy and has both just in case.

Of course two weekends ago, Grandpa was trying to convince she wanted a yellow Care Bear...until several elves threatened to beat him within an inch of his life if he didn't stop.

Needless to say, I'm excited about Christmas. I can't wait to see the expressions on Gracelyn and Davis's faces tomorrow at all the cool stuff they're gonna get.

It reminds me of when I was little. I got really, really wound up and excited about Santa coming. I must have been four or five at the time. I remember waking up and thinking--is it time yet? I noticed it was dark and so I paced around the room for a while before figuring that was late enough and I should wake up my parents. Turns out it was 4:30 a.m. I have yet to live this down.

Again, as I've said before--between my childhood and my spoiling of BB, GG, Gracelyn and Davis, I am so far behind the eight ball when I have kids it ain't even funny...

So, to all my fellow bloggers, I wish you a very Merry Christmas. May it be pull of peace, joy and love for you and your family.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 12/24/2004 01:44:00 PM | |
Thursday, December 23, 2004
New RTB Members
I'd like to extend a big Big Orange welcome to the newest members of the Rocky Top Brigade-- Tempe B over at I'm Trying to Write A Book, News Writer over at What Is It Today?, Ken Dixon over at The Rebel Rouser, Lance in Iraq's Lance Frizzel, Scratch My Name On Your Arm, Hope with the Appalachia Alumni Association, Andy Axel's
One Reporter's Opinion, The Ghosts-Rawk and or Roll and Steve over at Whites Creek.

Welcome on board! Keep your eyes and ears posted for the next Volunteer Tailgate Party, featuring the best and brightest of the Rocky Top Brigade.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 12/23/2004 01:10:00 PM | |

I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas
Those of you dreaming about a white Christmas here in middle Tennessee may have got your wish. The roads are covered in ice and slippery, and there is a light snow falling. Temperatures are not expected to rise out of the 20s until at least Sunday which means we could have the snow and ice on the ground come Christmas morning.

In related news, Kroger and Wal-Mart report no bread and milk on the shelves. BlockBuster is currently down to having Ernest Goes to Jail and Ishtar available for rent....

posted by Michael Hickerson at 12/23/2004 09:54:00 AM | |
Wednesday, December 22, 2004
Have a Holly, Jolly Christmas
1. Do you have any special Christmas traditions? If so, what are they? Or tell us about your favorite Christmas traditon.
When my sister and I were little, we'd always exchange our presents to each other on Christmas Eve. My mom started this tradition when we were very young and I can't remember a time when we didn't do it. It's a tradition that has continued even now that we're grown up and out on our own. I find I put a lot of time and thought into finding a really special Christmas Eve gift for my sister. Also, our family always goes to Christmas Eve service together whenever we can. Another tradition we have is our advent calendar. My mother made it years ago--it's a Christmas tree and each day you put on a new ornament as Christmas approaches. Again, I can't remember a time in my life when we didn't have the calendar. I also remember fighting with my sister over who got the even and the odd days growing up.

2. When it comes to open presents, when do you do open them--Christmas morning or Christmas Eve?
As I said before, my sister and I open one present from each other on Christmas Eve. In our family, traditionally, we'd get up on Christmas morning, see what Santa brought and then have a big breakfast. We'd then sit down and take turns opening presents. My dad would distribute them and then we'd take turns opening them.

3. How does your family open presents--all at once or in some type of more organized fashion?
More organized fashion

4. Do you prefer using wrapping paper or gift bags?
I am all about the gift bag, but that's mainly because I have yet to perfectly wrap anything in my life. Also, gift bags are the gift that keeps on giving--I definitely re-gift the gift bags.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 12/22/2004 11:36:00 AM | |

See, I was good this year....

You Were Nice This Year!

You're an uber-perfect person who is on the top of Santa's list.
You probably didn't even *think* any naughty thoughts this year.
Unless you're a Mormon, you've probably been a little too good.
Is that extra candy cane worth being a sweetheart for 365 days straight?

I am putting this up in case Santa's reading my blog and wondering whether or not I should get the present I asked him for yesterday....

posted by Michael Hickerson at 12/22/2004 08:39:00 AM | |

Christmas Challenge, Week 4
Here is it, our final Christmas Challenge Meme!

1. Do you have any special Christmas traditions? If so, what are they? Or tell us about your favorite Christmas traditon.

2. When it comes to open presents, when do you do open them--Christmas morning or Christmas Eve?

3. How does your family open presents--all at once or in some type of more organized fashion?

4. Do you prefer using wrapping paper or gift bags?

Merry Christmas everyone! Thanks for participating! If you could leave a link to your answers in the comments, I'd appreciate it!

posted by Michael Hickerson at 12/22/2004 08:30:00 AM | |
Tuesday, December 21, 2004
Dear Santa.
If it's not too late, I'd like one of these for Christmas.

I have a feeling you can drop one by the Inn of the Last Home as well.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 12/21/2004 06:13:00 PM | |

TV Tuesday

Christmas Specials

Only four more days until Christmas! And then means only one thing--only four more days of Christmas specials! Every year, there are classics that are shown and a couple of new specials try to gain the title of classic. This week, we'll look at those Christmas specials.

1. What is your favorite Christmas special?
I like both a Charlie Brown Christmas and How the Grinch Stole Christmas.

2. Do you have a Christmas special that you don't care for as much?
I'm not sure really. Probably because I tend to avoid those that I don't like. I'll be honest--the one I didn't find all that great was the television version of the Best Little Christmas Pagent Ever. But that hasn't aired in years....

3. One recent trend is making sequels to popular or successful Christmas specials. Do you like or dislike this trend? Why?
I just don't understand why there have to be sequels to some things. I think that A Charlie Brown Christmas and Frosty the Snowman are just fine the way they end and I wasn't left thinking, "Boy, it'd sure be great if there was more to that story." Of course, I'm strange that way....

4. Is there a book, story or song just waiting to be turned into a great Christmas special?
I'm still in shock they turned Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer into a festive, holiday show. Don't get me wrong--I love the song, but how do you get half an hour out of it? (As you can tell I haven't seen it.)

~ BONUS ~ Share some of your favorite memories of Christmas specials growing up. Also, if you have kids, what is the one Christmas special that you look forward to sharing with them either when they're old enough or each year?
I remember watching Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer as a little kid--my mom made me take a nap so I could stay up "late" and watch it. I loved it. Also, I remember I had a soundtrack record of The Night Before Christmas--I think it featured mice--that I listened to a lot. Not sure if I've ever seen it or not. As for Christmas specials, I look forward to Gracelyn and Davis being old enough to have the attention span for Rudolph.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 12/21/2004 01:55:00 PM | |

Is he just edited that way?
If you've been tuning into the current installment of The Amazing Race, you're probably aware of the "incident" from last week's episode. Actually, now that I think about it, even if you haven't been tuning in, you probably know about it.

The team of Jonathan and Victoria self-destructed on air during the final segment of last week's leg of the race. Jonathan verbally abused Victoria several times and then actually shoved her for picking up his backpack. (He dropped it to try and run faster and make it to the finish line first). Victoria was sobbing violently at the end and wandered off, prompting host Phil Keoghan to tell Jonathan he might need to go and talk to his wife.

Previews for tonight's episode don't show that things are going to get better quickly.

Of course, the response has been enormous. According to USA Today, there are message boards flooded with posts about Jonathan being a "scumbag." Jonathan and Victoria have a web-site where he posted his defense of his actions last week. There's also a newer post from Victoria assuring all of us that she is "fine."

Reading the USA Today article, it sounds like this may be the end of the Jonathan's bad behavoir (at least in terms of such a huge explosion of anger toward Victoria) . I certainly hope that it is--for his sake and the sake of his wife. I cannot imagine anyone treating their wife the way he has Victoria over the course of the first installments of the Race this year. I've read some stories where Jonathan claims he was playing the "bad boy" character to win over viewers and be more memorable.

This debate over Jonathan makes me wonder. We all know that "reality" TV is not really "reality." It's all edited for storylines and drama, to get us to tune in. I mean, as much as I enjoy The Amazing Race, I don't think I'd want to spend a couple of hours watching teams sleep while they're on a flight to the next leg of the Race. Also, we've heard reality show "villains" come out and say--I'm not bad, I'm just edited that way.

It does make me wonder--is Jonathan really that bad? Or is he edited that way?

Personally, I think he's not as bad as portrayed, but on some level, there is something fundamentally wrong with the way he treats Victoria. I am sure we're not hearing a lot of how the story ended because it would ruin the end of the Race for us...but honestly, you've gotta think these two need some serious counselling at the very least.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 12/21/2004 08:56:00 AM | |

New Harry Potter book release date announced
The sixth installment of the Harry Potter series is scheduled for publication on July 16, 2005.

I'm already clearing my reading calendar for the latter half of July....

posted by Michael Hickerson at 12/21/2004 08:51:00 AM | |
Monday, December 20, 2004
Sports News
Owens out for regular season, won't return until possible Super Bowl
The entire city of brotherly love is on suicide watch tonight with the news that T.O. is out at least until a possible Super Bowl with torn ligaments in his ankle.

Come on guys, don't worry...y'all have home field advantage throughout the playoffs. Surely that has to count for something....just look at the last three years in the NFC...

OK, maybe y'all should be worried.

Gibbs: Ramsey will be 2005 starter
Hallelujah! Now if the Redskins could shift to the NFC West for this season, we'd be a playoff contender.

Actually, I'll be happy if we take care of business Sunday against the Cowboys. I despise the Cowboys.

Pennington says silence was a joke on media

Chad Pennington's press conference today was the talk of the Dan Patrick show...well, at least until the news about T.O. started to leak out. Hearing Pennington lash out at the media for their coverage of he and the Jets was certainly entertaining. I'm not sure if I agree with all he has to say, but it does make for interesting conversation fodder...

posted by Michael Hickerson at 12/20/2004 07:52:00 PM | |

Joy to the World
Yesterday at church, some friends of Susan and Brian gave them three tickets to attend the Michael W. Smith Christmas concert. And we're not talking about inexpensive tickets here--these were GREAT seats on the right hand side of the stage about five rows up.

I was pretty excited about going. I'd really wanted to go to the concert--I've heard great things about Michael W. Smith's Christmas concerts--but couldn't afford a ticket.

Also on tour with Smith were Point of Grace and the Katinas (who I had never heard of before last night).

Let me say this--the concert was amazing. I went in hoping to hear a couple of songs I've heard on Michael W. Smith's first Christmas CD and he did those. But I was totally blown away by the concert.

Promotional poster Posted by Hello

Actually, to call it concert isn't doing it justice. It was a worship service and it was am amazing one. I got goose pimples several times during the evening. And when it was over, I wished it have gone on longer. It was just that good.

A couple of the many highlights:
  • Michael Smith singng "Emmanuel" and then the Katinas came in with "O Come, O Come Emmanuel". Fabulous!
  • The Katinas singing "Mary Did You Know"?
  • Point of Grace did some spectacular songs--new group member Leigh Cappillino can really sing. Again, goosepimples.
  • Michael Smith gave us a sample of two songs off his new CD--the title track of "Healing Rain" and his cover of "Bridge Over Troubled Water."
  • The back-up band was spectacular. It included a guy who played the reed flute and bagpipes and a very talented woman on violin.
  • Michael made everyone get up and introduce yourself to someone you don't know. Great fun.
  • Singing along with some of the worship songs--songs that we've used at Thursday Night Worship at Smyrna 1st.
To say I enjoyed myself is an understatement. It was an awesome event that reminded me of what this time of year is all about. It's really help me get into the real Christmas spirit.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 12/20/2004 10:22:00 AM | |

Showing a lot of class
You might be aware that Colts quarterback and former UT Volunteer Peyton Manning is pursuing history. He's on the verge of tying and breaking the record set by Dan Marino for most touchdown passes in a season.

Last night, Peyton had a chance to do it on the national stage with the ESPN Sunday night crew in town for their game against the Baltimore Ravens.

Peyton didn't get the record last night. But the Colts did get the victory over the Ravens.

But in winning, Peyton showed why he's in a class by himself.

For weeks now, Peyton has deflected the media praise from himself to his supporting cast--because without guys catching the ball, he couldn't come close to the record. (Just ask younger brother Eli what it's like to have all the talent in the world but no supporting cast at receiver). And last night, the Colts had two good opportunities for Peyton to the tie the record, but instead they did what they needed to do to win the game and not pad stats or rub it in the face of an opponent who was clearly defeated.

The first was on when the Colts got inside the five yard line and instead of going play action, they hand the ball off to Edgerin James who walks into the end zone, untouched. The touchdown put the Colts up 20-3 at that point and pretty much sealed a win. It would have been easy for the Colts to go for the record right there but instead they go for the win--because a win is what the team needs as they push toward the playoffs.

The second was late in the game. The Colts defense takes the ball away from the Ravens with under two minutes to go. The ball goes inside the ten yard line and instead of taking a chance to pad his stats or get in the record book, Manning and the Colts show class...they kneel on the ball and take the win.

After the game, Peyton said had the Ravens taken a time out there, they might have gone for it. Instead, both sides showed class--one in winning and the other in losing. Peyton also went on to say on ESPN that while the record will happen if it happens. He's more concerned with getting his team deep into the playoffs and to the Super Bowl.

As if I weren't already a huge fan of Peyton Manning, this just reinforces why he's one of the GREAT guys in the NFL. With both of my teams out of Super Bowl contention, I am now officially on the Colts bandwagon to win it all.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 12/20/2004 09:23:00 AM | |

A Lottery Ticket in a Pear Tree...
I'm not certain if the latest commerical for the Tennessee Lottery has infilitrated other areas of our state or not. Here in Music City, we seem to be hearing and seeing a lot of a new commerical that encourages buying and giving lottery tickets as a holiday gift. The commerical is a catchy little jingle that lists everyone you might come in contact with as secretly yearning for a lottery ticket this holiday season.

There's a big article in this morning's Tennessean about reaction to the marketing campaign for the Tennessee lottery.

But there are detractors, particularly among some in the religious and conservative community who have been opposed to the lottery since the beginning.

They say gambling is a vice, and it's offensive to try to generate more lottery sales during a sacred season.

''It was tacky,'' said Bobbie Patray of Nashville, who has heard the radio ad. She is state chairwoman of the Eagle Forum, a conservative group that concentrates on family issues.

''Surely, there are less offensive ways to promote gambling than encouraging them as stocking stuffers,'' she said. ''People would much rather have the cash than a ticket that will probably be worthless.'

The Rev. Enoch Fuzz said, ''Jesus would not play, nor support, the lottery.

''It only adds insult to injury to think people would suggest a lottery ticket purchase as a gift associated with the birth of Jesus Christ,'' said Fuzz, pastor of Corinthian Missionary Baptist Church.

Yes, Rev. Fuzz does have a point about the whole lottery ticket being a gift to celebrate the birth of Christ, but there are a whole lot of other commericalized aspects to the whole holiday season out there, also. I don't know about you guys, but I'm bombarded with huge papers this time of year chock full of ads for all kinds of other stuff--CDs, DVDs, books, clothing, appliances, cars, etc.--that don't really seem like appropriate gifts to celebrate the birth of Christ. Of course, you don't hear Rev. Fuzz attacking the Lexus ads where everyone is concerned about the giant bows that go on top of the cars. (Whereas I'd wonder--how did you get the car in the living room?)

The article also goes on to say:

Piyush Kumar, an assistant professor of management at VU, said a gift of a lottery ticket was like a free trial offer to the receivers, benefiting the lottery.

''It's a little better than giving a Christmas card, but they're priced about the same,'' said Kumar, who said he was familiar with research on the economics of how and why people play the lottery.

''You may be giving a gift for a dollar, but in your own mind you could be giving away potentially $300, $500 or even $1 million,'' he said.

But there is a downside. The receiver may not play the lottery and may become hooked, he said.

But my favorite reactions are those of the "people on the street."

Della Himes, 51, Nashville, nurse technician:

''It seems to be a good idea, but I don't know anybody who would want one as a Christmas gift. I guess it'd be OK as a stocking stuffer. I wouldn't mind getting one. But, God, I'd have to let them know upfront, 'If you get any money, I'd have to get half of it.' ''

Eddie Cherry, 41, Nashville, convenience store assistant manager:

''I don't know if I'd want to give anyone a lottery ticket for Christmas. I'd hate to give someone a lot of money unless there was an understanding they'd share it.''

I love the reaction, "Well, if they win on a present I gave them, they have to give me some of the money." Kind of misses the whole point of gift giving, doesn't it? You're giving a gift to another person. You don't get to share in the winnings if they get any. I mean, it's not like you pick out a great sweater for someone and give it to them with the stipulation that you get to wear it a couple of days as week.....

posted by Michael Hickerson at 12/20/2004 08:42:00 AM | |
Sunday, December 19, 2004
Fresh snowflakes
It's been flurrying on and off all day.

Thankfully, the snow isn't sticking to things yet--such as roads. (::knocks on wood:::)

I will admit that the flurries have been really beautiful. There's something peaceful about the snow falling and blowing around in the wind.

At church, I took Gracelyn outside to see the snow and to catch some snowflakes on her tongue. She enjoyed it a lot as did Uncle Michael.

Thankfully snowflakes have very few calories.

And they always taste better when they're fresh.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 12/19/2004 03:06:00 PM | |

Pretty Paper
Growing up, my father was in the Air Force and we lived all over the United States. We lived everywhere from Hawaii to Virginia to California. Because of this, we weren't always able to have Christmas celebration with my grandparents every year.

But that doesn't mean my grandparents didn't spoil us with the presents at Christmas time.

I remember each year there would be a day when a big box or two would arrive from my grandparents. And the box was always filled with wrapped presents for the entire family. My sister and I would come home from school and see the box there. Mom would open it up and we'd take out each present, seeing who it was for, looking at it, ratttling it and putting it under the tree. My Grandmother and my Granny also included a bag of bows in each package that we'd put on ourselves--that way they wouldn't get crushed, smooshed or pretty much all around demolished in transit.

I also remember living in different time zones from my grandparents and how that would affect the order of opening presents. In my family, we didn't just get up, rush down and start opening. We'd get up, see what Santa brought us, have a nice family breakfast and then open presents. We'd always open the presents from the grandparents first so when they called to wish us Merry Christmas, we'd be able to thank them for all the presents.

Good memories...

posted by Michael Hickerson at 12/19/2004 02:29:00 PM | |
Saturday, December 18, 2004
Progressive Dinner
Last night, I was one of the drivers for the youth's annual progressive dinner. One of the youth, Doug, had called permanent shot-gun in my car a couple of weeks ago after hearing my CD of Sixpence None the Richer's greatest hits, including their cover of the ABBA classic, "Dancing Queen." I got two other junior high guys for the first couple of legs of the journey.

I'd forgotten what junior high guys can be like...basically, it's let's tell stupid jokes, break wind and laugh a whole lot. And yet in junior high, we wonder why the girls will have nothing to do with us.

(For some of us, the years never improve us beyond this point).

Part of my problem with driving, well, anywhere is that I have this tendency to know where I'm going but not know street names. So if you tell me, "Drive down this road" odds are I will know where it is but not know the name of said street. (I think you can see where this story is going). This ended up with our getting off course as it were, which made a lot of the other guys suddenly want to ride with "the guy who can't figure out where we're going." Apparently being lost is fun. They kept giving me a hard time and I said--hey, you got a good story to tell out of it, so what's the problem?

Also, I thought our car had an advanage in going to the house for the main course. Why? It was Doug's house. Unfortunately, Doug has been to the same school of giving directions to another person while driving that several other people I've known over the years. Basically, you tell the person about fifteen seconds before he or she is supposed to turn to turn "this way" or "that way" and assume the driver will look away from the road and see where you're pointing. Seriously, I was having some flashbacks to a certain blonde from Bearden UMC who used to do the EXACT same thing all the time...

Seriously, though, it was a great time. And I have had to Febreeze the heck out of the my car this morning because, well, let's just say things were getting a bit flatulant. And you know how junior high guys are--once once has broken winds, the others feel as if this is some type of challenge to top the other.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 12/18/2004 10:13:00 AM | |
Friday, December 17, 2004
Three Things
Three Names You Go By:
1. Michael
2. Uncle Michael
3. Big Orange Michael (some of the youth at church who found my Xanga call me this)

Three Screennames You Have:
1. mhickers
2. ShadowBoy119
3. Big Orange Michael (obviously)

Three Things You Like About Yourself:
1. My love and respect for my family and friends.
2. That I excercise at least five times a week.
3. That I'm a "thinker."

Three Things You Hate/Dislike About Yourself:
1. Getting down on myself too much.
2. Too critical at times.
3. That my marriage failed.

Three Parts of Your Heritage:
1. Air Force brat.
2. One-eighth native American.
3. A lot of cousins on my mother's side are ministers.

Three Things That Scare You:
1. Something happening to my family or friends that I can't "fix" or make better for them.
2. Losing my memory.
3. Doctors.

Three of Your Everyday Essentials
1. Inn of the Last Home
2. Outwit, Outblog, Outsnark
3. Missives Anonymous

Three Things You Are Wearing Right Now
1. White shirt
2. Dark blue suit with a power tie.
3. Black dress shoes.

Three of Your Favorite Bands/Artists (at the moment):
1. Rebecca St. James
2. Ray Stevens
3. Sixpence None the Richer

Three of Your Favorite Songs at Present:
1. "Us" by Sixpence None the Richer
2. "Speak to Me" by Rebecca St James
3. "I Need You" by Jars of Clay

Three New Things You Want to Try in the Next 12 Months:
1. A long-term job.
2. A new biathalon class at the Y.
3. A new romantic relationship.

Three Things You Want in a Relationship (love is a given):
1. Sense of Humor
2. That we are equals in the relationship.
3. Physical closeness.

Two Truths and a Lie:
1. While spending the night at a friends house, we snuck out to go and TP another buddy's house but we didn't do it because lights came on in the windows.
2. I had to wait an extra semester to get my diploma from UT because I failed a class due to lack of attendence. (I'd actually had surgery the first week of class and was out, so the professor never learned who I was and stopped call rol after I got back...somehow I got As and Bs on the tests and homework but failed due to attendance).
3. I have been skydiving.

Which is the lie? Guess in the Comments

Three Physical Things About the Opposite Sex That Appeal to You:
1. Eyes
2. A genuine smile.
3. Hmmm...what are two other things guys like?

Three Things You Just Can’t Do:
1. Resist a fresh baked chocolate chip cookie.
2. Fly.
3. Watch a football game involving Vols, Redskins or Titans without becoming too emotionally involved.

Three of Your Favorite Hobbies:
1. Doctor Who and Star Trek.
2. Reading
3. Blogging/Spoiling my niece and nephew.

Three Things You Want to do Really Badly Right Now:
1. Get a job.
2. Finish my Christmas shopping.
3. Eat a warm chocolate chip cookie.

Three Careers You’re Considering:
1. Professional youth ministry.
2. Communications speicalist
3. Full-time writing.

Three Places You Want to Go on Vacation:
1. Somewhere warm, preferably with a nice beach.
2. England
3. Universal Studios

Three Kids Names:
1. Emma Claire
2. Gracelyn
3. Davis

Three Things You Want to Do Before You Die:
1. Get married and have children.
2. Write an episode of Doctor Who or Star Trek. (that gets aired mind you)
3. Live every day to tis fullest.

Tip of the hat to Barry over at Inn of the Last Home for this....

posted by Michael Hickerson at 12/17/2004 11:21:00 AM | |

She didn't win a million...
...but Survivor Vanuatu's Julie got herself a new boyfriend. Yes, it's official. Snark Boy Jeff Probst has somehow managed to hook up with Survivor nude sunbather Julie.

How long until Mark Burnett makes a reality show about these two?

posted by Michael Hickerson at 12/17/2004 10:49:00 AM | |

Friday's Feast
What is something that never fails to grab your attention?
My neice and nephew.

Who was the last person who gave you money, and what was it for?
My mother gave me some money to stop by Dollar General and pick up some Christmas gift bags for her.

If you were a Smurf, what would your name be?
Random Smurf.

Main Course
Do you believe in astrology? Why or why not?
No. I just don't think the stars have that much influence on my life. I believe there is a higher power--God.

Have you seen any snow this year yet? What's the weather like today in your area?
There were flurries Monday night during the Titans game. I wasn't there but I saw them watching the game on television.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 12/17/2004 10:28:00 AM | |
Thursday, December 16, 2004
Theater Thursday

That's a wrap.

We've come to the end of another year, almost. So it's time to pick the best (and worst) of 2004.

1) Which movie do you think was THE BEST of 2004? The worst?
I'm going to go with two. The Passion of the Christ was a phenomenal, life changing movie. Spider-Man 2 was the most fun and enjoyable movie I've seen in a long time. Both were great but for each was great for very different reasons. As for the worst, I'd have to go with Welcome to Mooseport. All the good stuff was in the previews....

2) If you were handing out the Oscar's this year, who would pick as Best Actor and Actress. Name the actor/actress and the film.
Jim Cavazel, The Passion of the Christ; Maia Morgenstern, The Passion of the Christ

3) The category is 'best film of 2004'. There are 5 nominees. What 5 movies would be on your list.
1. The Passion of the Christ
2. Spider-Man 2
3. Shrek 2
4. Mean Girls
5. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.

BONUS) Is there a moving coming out in the upcoming year that you're excited to see? If so, what is it?
Firefly: Serenity, The Phantom of the Opera, Star War Episode III: The Revenge of the Sith.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 12/16/2004 01:50:00 PM | |

To Granddaddy's house we go...
Last weekend, my family and I went to visit my grandfather. Granddaddy celebrated his 91st birthday last week and we all went to help him celebrate the big day. For dinner Saturday night, we took him out to Olive Garden. Apparently we were not the only people in Memphis with this idea. There was some type of soccer tournament or convention in Memphis and apparently half of them decided that Italian food from Olive Garden would be a good dinner Saturday night. And here's the scary part--we went to dinner at 4:30 p.m. central time and still had to wait 50 minutes for a table. I cannot imagine what the line was like later when it really got crowded.

Davis and his great-Granddaddy Posted by Hello

I enjoyed the visit with Granddaddy a good deal, though it was difficult in some ways. My grandfather is slowly sucumbing to Alzheimer's and it's hard to see a man who was once "sharp as a tack" slowly losing his memory. I almost cried Saturday night when I tried to explain to him how to use the remote control for the TV to find the ballgame that he saw listed in the paper. (I am not sure if he figured it out...he asks me about how to do it every time I come. It wasn't helped a lot by the fact that the Grizzlies game was blacked out so when we tuned over to Fox Sports Net, we got blank screen).

I wanted to cry not because I was frustrated from helping him, but frustrated for him. It also made me precious the little things in life are--I take for granted I can use a remote on the TV and get to the station I want. I will sometimes say that I look forward to losing my memory--that way the old Star Trek episodes will all be new again. This reminded me to not wish for something like that. If there's one thing I've discovered this past year, it's that you can take away a lot of things in your life, but to lose your memory is a great tragedy.

Also, I have to say this--my grandfather lives in a retirement community. He has cable that I believe is selected by the retirement community. Flipping around, they get Comedy Central and Tech TV but don't get Turner South, which is the home of most of the Braves games now. I know this because when I went to visit over the summer, every morning at breakfast and every evening at dinner, I'd hear about how they couldn't find the Braves games on TV and could I find them for he and his freinds? Honestly, I can't imagine many people in the retirement community are lining up to watch South Park....and having seen it, I say that is all for the best.

Part of living in the retirement community is that it's a lot like dorm life at college. You walk down the halls and hear loud TVs playing as you walk by each apartment. Also, everyone eats at least two meals a day in the cafeteria--in this case breakfast and dinner. On Sunday morning, I was treated to a unique debate between two older guys. One didn't want to pay taxes anymore because all his tax money went to pay for the US Army to torture Iraqui civilians. Also, he didn't like torture, he thought the war was wrong and it wasn't a real war--there hasn't been a real war since we defeated Hitler. The other guy disagreed with him on some issues, so the first guy insisted the other guy was brainwashed. Apparently some group comes in at night and brainwashes him from what I gathered. This was amusing at first, but after ten minutes it got old since they went over the same three points again and again.

I'm telling you, I think these two guys have blogs out there....

posted by Michael Hickerson at 12/16/2004 10:51:00 AM | |

TV Round-Up
Enterprise: Kir'Shara
As the final installment of the Vulcan arc wound down, I found myself wishing that perhaps they could carry on this plotline for another episode or two. As great as this arc was, I have to admit the final fifteen or so minutes felt a bit rushed, but looking back at the episode as a whole, there wasn't anything that came before it that I felt like you could cut or abbreviate. The only thing I can think of is that maybe they should have introduced the entire plotline of Vulcan gearing up to go to war with Andoria more in the second leg of the trilogy rather than just having the Vulcan high command attempting to destroy the Syranites.

This episode demonstrated the strength of Enterprise this year. It's returned to being stories that could only be told in the Star Trek universe. It's bringing up continuity, it's doing it well and it's tying together a lot of things from the TOS era. In short, it's living up to it's promise. It's almost as if Manny Coto has said, "If we get cancelled, we get cancelled, but I'm not going to let fear of failure keep us from telling the stories we need to tell." And I love it. I find myself actually looking forward to Trek again, in a way I haven't really since DS9's final season. And I think part of that is the supporting cast Enterprise is building. You've got Shran, Soval, Admiral Forrest (sadly departed), etc. You've got storylines that are interesting and compelling. I just don't know how Enterprise missed the boat until now on this--though last year's Xindi arc certainly was successful, especially in the later stages of the season.

I'll even go so far as to say I didn't mind the out of left field cliffhanger ending. In fact, I was kind of juiced that it was the Romulans who were helping the plot on Vulcan. First of all, unlike last year's "pull a cliffhanger out of left field" ending with evil Nazi alien, this cliffhanger involved an alien we've seen before and we know a bit about. Also, it deals with an issue we've seen before in Trek--the re-unification of Romulan and Vulcan heritages. Thirdly, as we all know, Archer and company cannot see a Romulan. I've suddenly got enough faith in the show that they can work with this issue and do it cleverly and entertainly enough that I won't have to throw things at my TV.

Veronica Mars
: An Echolls Family Xmas
As much as I love the on-going plotline about discovering the truth about Veronica's past, I think they could have left all that on the backburner this week. All Veronica does is confront the man who was taking pictures of her to send to her mother. Yes, it's interesting and I'm sure it will all have some bearing on future episodes, but with so many other plotlines swirling around, it was a bit too much. Weevel joins the "rich boy" poker game, wins the money and then sees it stolen. Veronica is called in to find out who took it because Weevel takes Duncan's laptop which has his journal on it--including sordid details about his relationship with Veronica. Meanwhile, Veronica struggles with wanting to get a perfect holiday gift for her father and Keith is hired by the Echolls to look into a stalker. Of the three plotlines, one ends up getting the short end of the stick with no resolution--the whole Veronica tries to find a way to get Keith the perfect gift. As the story ended ,Veronica had solved who took the money (cleverly done, too) and was at the Echoll's Christmas party taking a break from winning the pot in a the poker game. But stalker plotline shows up, is resolved and the story ends. We have no idea if Veronica won. Which I guess we can get to that in a future story--such as if we see Keith headed out to the fantasy baseball camp that Veronica refers to in the story. But I was still a bit bummed we didn't wrap it all up here.

House: Damned If You Do
I've taped several episodes of House but haven't yet had time to see one--until this week. I've heard some good things about this show and Hugh Laurie's portrayal of House and was intrigued. I have to admit after one episode I'm intrigued. This episode examines the nature of faith and belief in an interesting, compelling manner. A nun checks into the hospital with allergic reactions and House tries to find out what is wrong. I like that the episode allowed House to be wrong and to go down wrong paths as he searched for the cause of the her illness. I also liked that not everyone agrees with House and his rather uncoventional style. This was an intriguing, entertaining hour of TV that brought up some great issues and didn't back away with easy answers. It reminded me a lot of Scully's journey of faith in The X-Files, espeically season three's "Obulette".

posted by Michael Hickerson at 12/16/2004 09:03:00 AM | |
Wednesday, December 15, 2004
Rocking Around the Christmas Tree
1. Have you finished all of your Christmas shopping yet? For some, have you started? How far along are you?
Oh, not even close. I've done some but not nearly as much as I should. I'd say I'm about halfway done.

2. What is the favorite Christmas present you've bought for someone else and why?
I don't have one just yet--it will probably end up being something for Gracelyn and/or Davis. Why? Becuase it's so much fun to buy for kids--I just go to the toy store, find something I want to help them play with and buy it. LOL

3. Have you had time to do any Christmas baking? What is your favorite Christmas-time cookie or sweet?
I love the holiday cookie baking. I've done some--I got a new cook book of cookie recipes that I'm trying out. And my favorite cookie is the fruitcake cookie.

4. How many Christmas parties have you been to? How many more left to come?
None and I don't think there are any of my calendar.

BONUS. One of the favorite holiday-party traditions is the White Elephant or Dirty Santa game. Couple of questions. Do you like these games? What is the best or worst White Elephant gift you've received?
I have never been a big fan of the White Elephant or Dirty Santa. I tend to put a bit more thought into the gift--as in what would be something for under five or ten bucks I'd like to get--than others do. Or at least the others who give gifts to me. I hate it when you open a crappy gift that no one wants because that ends the fun of the game for you since no one will trade with you. One year I got an old LP of Richard Simmons doing weight loss stuff from some woman who remembered the office holiday party the day off and just dug into her closet to find some crap to give away. Yes, it was that bad. And yes, I am still bitter...

posted by Michael Hickerson at 12/15/2004 09:05:00 AM | |

Ben Browder back on SciFi!
TV Guide On-Line has the big news about Farscape's Ben Browder returning to TV.
OPEN STARGATE: We've got good news for fans of Sci Fi's Stargate SG-1 and great news for fans of Farscape: TV Guide Online has learned exclusively that when SG-1 begins its ninth season, Farscape hunk Ben Browder will join the long-running series as a regular. In the meantime, the show is continuing its efforts to hammer out a deal to keep erstwhile MacGyver Richard Dean Anderson (who has been with SG-1 since its 1997 debut) on board, at least in a limited capacity.

Couple of ironies here--Stargate is what helped lead the idiots at SciFi to cancel the greatness that was Farscape. And Claudia Black will guest star on Stargate when it returns in January.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 12/15/2004 09:01:00 AM | |

Christmas Challenge, Week 3
Ho, ho, ho! Welcome to the third week of our Christmas challenge. I'm gonna just throw out a series of random, Christmas related questions for everyone to answer this week.

1. Have you finished all of your Christmas shopping yet? For some, have you started? How far along are you?

2. What is the favorite Christmas present you've bought for someone else and why?

3. Have you had time to do any Christmas baking? What is your favorite Christmas-time cookie or sweet?

4. How many Christmas parties have you been to? How many more left to come?

BONUS. One of the favorite holiday-party traditions is the White Elephant or Dirty Santa game. Couple of questions. Do you like these games? What is the best or worst White Elephant gift you've received?

posted by Michael Hickerson at 12/15/2004 12:01:00 AM | |
Tuesday, December 14, 2004
TV Tuesday
Holiday Shows

It's the most wonderful time of the year! Well, that is unless you're a TV fan. December is that time of year when the November sweeps are over and it's slim pickings for new episodes of our favorite shows. But, most TV shows worth their salt have a holiday-themed episode. And this week, we'll look at those holiday-themed episodes.

1. What's the best holiday-themed episode you've seen this year? (Or you can go with the worst).
Is it just me or did it seem as if the holiday-themed epiosdes starting coming out really early this year? Anyway, I'll have to say the best one I've seen so far was last week's episode of Scrubs.

2. What's your all-time favorite holiday-themed episode of any show?
I've always liked the episode of Happy Days where Fonzie joins the C's for Christmas Eve dinner. It's the one where Richie catches Fonzie opening a can of pork and beans in the garage. Also, the Christmas-themed episodes of Futurama with the Santa-bot were hysterical.

3. Is there any show that did a holiday-theme episode that you avoid like bad eggnog?
None really that I can think of.

~ BONUS ~Jaded and cynical, sweet and sappy, somewhere in between. How do you prefer your holiday-themed episodes of your favorite shows?
Somewhere in between...too sappy and it, well, it's just too much. But too much cynicism turns me off.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 12/14/2004 01:56:00 PM | |

Two and a Half Men
If you watched last night's episode of Two and a Half Men, one of the plotlines revolved around Charlie Sheen's character of Charlie discovring a web site devoted to his dating techniques called Well, turns out the web site actually exists. Check it out!

posted by Michael Hickerson at 12/14/2004 01:07:00 PM | |

Random Sports Thoughts
Eagles 17, Redskins 14,
Chiefs 49, Titans 38

It was one of those rare weekends when I actually got to see both of my teams play. Unfortunately, neither team was successful in pulling off a win, though they did, at least take it down to the wire in both games.

My Redskins--what can I say? Our defense is incredible, the strength of our time. Greg Williams is a defensive genius. Should we ever get an offense going, we might just be a threat. Again, that's a big if. The Skins need to do some major work in the off-season to get an offense going. Clinton Portis might still be the answer at running back, but we need a line and a QB. I think Patrick Ramsey, while good, has had his confidence put permanently in the crapper by the head games of Spurrier yanking him in and out of the line-up every two seconds and Gibbs bringing in Mark Brunell. That said, if we can beat the hated Cowboys when we play them next, I will be a happy, happy camper.

As for the Titans--man, I hated to lose that way. First of all, the officials shafted us in the final Kansas City drive as they had all night. When even Al Michaels and John Madden comment that this officiating crew calls it too conservative, there's something wrong. This crew needs to NEVER call a Titans game again. Go screw some other team over, just stop messing with mine. That said, I was a bit disappointed in the Nashville fans. I love the Titans and if I had had tickets to last night's game, I'd've gone. It's Monday Night Football people! OK, so we're not going to the playoffs, but come on and show up for the game! We don't want to become known as an Atlanta where we only support the team in good times. Hell, there are people here who still think Vandy has a shot and they ain't won in years. The Titans have been good to us and probably spoiled us with their early success. But ya know, I still pull for them, I'm still a fan, I still love them. I'm a fan, not a bandwagon jumper. I was just hoping that there were at least a bunch of other fans out there with tickets who felt the same. And if you're reading this and you have tickets and you're not gonna use them, I will gladly go to the game for you...

As for the Monday Night Football broadcast, I just get annoyed. Why did we have to see 1500 replays of Johnny Morton doing the worm? How about breakdowns of plays and not some idiot doing a stupid end zone dance? And then--Madden and Michaels talking about how many people were doing it right now just because we saw it on stupid do these two think we are?!? Also, coming back from halftime, they show has a musical number by some punk rock band. Hello?!? You're in Nashville, home of the country music industry. Doesn't it make more sense to have a country singer or group providing this?

Matt Leinert wins Heisman Trophy
Congrats, Matt Leinert, you've won an award that is, for all intents and purposes, meaningless. See, it lost all meaning as the best college football player back in December of 1997 when ESPN and ABC successfully lobbied to get the undeserving Charles Woodson the award over the BEST college football player in the country, Petyon Manning. Somehow, each year the definition of what a Heisman winner is changes to suit the mood of ESPN. Some years it's a career achievement award, some years its a year to year award, sometimes it's all about giving it to an undeserving player from Michigan who was all about himself, not team and didn't do anything good or positive for college football. So, congrats won an award that has no merit and guarantees you won't do well at the next level and might have a poor bowl game. Good job.

Terrell Owens says he's the NFL MVP

Thankfully, TO can't vote for the MVP of the league this year cause he'd vote for himself. TO, you ain't even the MVP of your team--that goes to Donnovan McNabb. As for who the MVP of the league is--no question. Peyton Manning. Now if only he had a great defense to go with his great offense.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 12/14/2004 10:13:00 AM | |
Monday, December 13, 2004
Angels We Have Heard On High.
Gracelyn, my niece, made her debut last night in the church Christmas program. She was one of the angels. At one point, she got to go and stand behind the manager. She and the other angels sang "Away in the Manger" and it was awesome. All of the kids did a great job. There is nothing to get you into the Christmas spirit like children....

Below is a picture of Gracelyn as an angel.

My niece is an angel. Posted by Hello

posted by Michael Hickerson at 12/13/2004 11:53:00 AM | |

Big Orange Survivor Magnolia Final Results
Final episodes of Survivor run the gamut from really interesting to mind-achingly dull...and it's amazing how quickly that mood can shift. There have been some where two hours was waaaaaaaaaaay too much time to spend. I'm not sure where Survivor Vanuatu ranks really in terms of finales. At least there was some question about who would vote for who and how it might all shake out.

A couple of random thoughts before we get to the final results. At the final TC, everyone is pissed off that Chris and Twila lied to them. Hello?!? This is a game that in order to get to the final two you're gonna have to lie to someone. I can see this be a stunning development in season one, but in the ninth season when you know every one of these players has seen a couple of episodes, it shouldn't be that huge of a shock, should it? Next up, I have to admit I was on the floor laughing at the latest attempt to make Jeff Probst and action hero. When he took the machete and started hacking through the jungle and then parachutes out of the plane....oh my word....this man needs some help. He is trying soooo hard to be Mr. Cool Action hero when he's not. I bet he tries to chat up Julie after the show--so, did you see me parachuting? If not, he can make an alliance with Eliza, if you know what I mean.

Finally, the "Survivor Death March" before the final immunity challenge. I just love the attitude of--well, this place is sure sacred to these people. Let's go stomp around it for the sake of good television. Sort of like last week's challenge on the Amazing Race of let's go wander around a cemetary to find a clue.

OK, onto the results....

1. Will Eliza express her feelings about Chris voting for Julie? Yes
2. Three or more or two or less: Number of times before the first tribal council that Chris mentions he's in the power seat? Shockingly enough, none
3. Is the first Immunity Challenge a mental or physical challenge? Physical
4. Who wins the first Immunity Challenge? Chris
5. Who is the voted out at the first Tribal Council? Eliza

6. Will the Chris and Eliza alliance hold to get them both to the final three? Nope
7. Will Scout and Twila's alliance hold to get them both to the final three? Yep
8. Who wins the second immunity challenge? Chris
9. Who is the last person voted out? Scout
10. Upon returning to camp, will the final two wax nostalgically about their time on the island? Of course

11. Who is the first member of the jury we see in a confessional? We don't see any of them--instead we get clips from their exit interviews.
12. Who gets to make their case first at the final tribal council? Chris
13. Who asks the first questions at the final tribal council? Eliza
14. Who goes last with a statement or questions at the final tribal council? Scout
15. Who votes first in the final tribal council? Sarge (Lea)

16. Who votes last in the final tribal council? Ami
17. How will Jeff Probst leave the islands with the final votes? (as in, will he use a boat, lama, plane, etc.) Machete through the jungle, leaves by plane.
18. How will Jeff Probst return to the studio with the final votes? Parachutes to motorcycle and rides to studio.
19. Whose name is revealed first from the final vote? Chris
20. Who wins Survivor Vanuatu? Chris

Extra Questions:
21. During the reunion special, will Jeff Probst ask Julie about her nekkid sunbathing? Unfortunately, no.
22. Who is the first torch the final two pass during the "Survivor Death March"? Brook
23. Which voted out tribemate's torch will the final two pass last during the "Survivor Death March"? Eliza
24. Will there be a marriage proposal during the reunion special? Nope
25. After the big winner, who is the first person Jeff Probst talks to at the reunion speical? Julie
26. Whose audition tapes will see highlights of during the reunion special? No one.
27. Will we get a preview for the next installment of Survivor? Yes
28. Will the camp be destroyed before the final two Survivors leave it? No

And now, to the final leaderboard...

Clayton 111/232
Vickie 95/232
Amanda 88/232
Michael 86/232
TW 82/232
Dar 79/232
Leslie 78/232
Kurt 40/232
Bill 24/232
Danielle 23/232
Jessica 20/232
Tudy 15/232
Vito 3/232

Congratulations to Clayton! You are the official winner of Big Orange Survivor Magnolia.

Thanks to everyone for playing. It was a lot of fun and I'll see y'all for the next installment, whenever it starts!

posted by Michael Hickerson at 12/13/2004 10:57:00 AM | |

Things in the News That Caught My Eye
Bracelets taped as a precaution
If you or a loved one has to go into the hospital (I pray it doesn't happen, but it might), make sure you're aware of the accessories he or she is wearing. According to this article, the Lance Armstrong "Live Strong" bracelets can be the same color as bands put on patients to indicate "do not resuscitate."

Pennsylvania city councilman demands that Bush photo be removed from market stand
Anyone else find it ironic that the name of the councilman involved in this story's name is Nelson Polite?

Election Recount 2004?
In the story above, councilman Polite wants "healing" for our divided nation. (In a side note, if John Kerry had won, would we need "healing"?) Maybe he should think about accepting that his candidate did not win and looking to find a way to lead his community forward instead of spinning his wheels and complaining about who did or did not win the election. Maybe calling these group and saying--hey, we didn't win, but that doesn't mean we can't all come together, move forward and do what's best for America. Nope, instead let's all get out and protest some more. Yeah, that'll show 'em. Again, if the roles were reversed with Bush losing, can you imagine how these protestors would be portrayed?

Official: Alcohol detected in fourth-grader's suspected 'Jell-O shots' cannot be confirmed
I heard about this story last week--little girl gets into trouble when she arrives at school with Jell-O shots. My first thought was--man, the in-class party sure has changed a lot since I was in the fourth grade! Of course, as Christmas nears and the children get more and more excited about the Winter break, the teachers may need a few more of these....

10-year-old girl arrested, handcuffed for taking scissors to school

Guess it's a good thing she wasn't running with scissors....

posted by Michael Hickerson at 12/13/2004 08:24:00 AM | |

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