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Thursday, October 27, 2011
Book Snobbery
Is it just me or does anyone else ever get depressed when you browse the New Books shelves at the local library and find a book you love just sitting there, begging to be checked out and meanwhile knowing that thousands of people are re-reading the horrifically bad Twilight novels for the hundred and fiftieth time?

Look, I have nothing against the Twilight novels other than they're poorly written featuring characters who make me want to reach into the page and slap them as hard as I can (Bella, especially) and a storyline that's a blatant and terrible rip-off of the Buffy and Angel storyline, only without the depth or subtext.   But it just pains me sometimes to know that people are re-reading these again and again when the new Laura Lippman novel is just sitting there, begging to be read.  Or that Ready Player One is sitting on the shelves and that it's one of the more fun, engaging and entertaining books I've read in a while.  Oh sure, it's not terribly deep and it's not going to be mistaken for great literature any time soon, but it's still a fun read that I'd highly recommend to just about anyone.

Does this make me a book snob?  Or even more of one that I think I am?  

The sad answer is, probably so. 

posted by Michael Hickerson at 10/27/2011 12:17:00 PM | |
Monday, October 24, 2011
The Rumblings Have Begun....
Listening to the sports call-in shows this morning, I'm not sure which Tennessee fanbase is more frustrated after this weekend's events--the Vols or the Titans.

Look, I think most of us knew going into the Alabama game that the Vols would have a tough time hanging with Alabama for an entire game.   But I don't want to take a moral victory because we were able to keep it close for a half.  We've had a couple of these moral victories this year and I'm honestly ready to see that translate into something more like a win or actually being competitive in the third quarter.  This year, the Vols have been flat in the third quarter all season and the conversation on-line and on sports call in shows is starting to get pretty ugly.  I'm not sure what, if any, adjustments are being made at half-time but they're just not working.  It's painful to watch at times.

And while I'm not ready to give up on the coaching staff, I think the excuse of lack of players is starting to wer a bit thin.  At some point, you've got to coach them up a bit or find some creative ways to work within your limitations to do something great and give the team a burst of energy.  I like Dooley and his staff and don't really want to see them be some interim group that does just enough to hang around in mediocrity for the next year or two.  It's time to step up and get that signature win or close out a game or something.  You have a fanbase that is yearning, begging for something to hang our hat on....and while I like beating Vandy and Kentucky as much as the next fan, those aren't exactly signature efforts or wins.

Meanwhile, the Titans....oh how ugly that game was yesterday.  Did someone forget to tell them that the bye was last week?!? Because apparently no one from the Titans showed up at LP Field yesterday to play.   At this point, I'm ready to give up on Chris Johnson for this season because apparently he got the playmaker money but doesn't want to make plays anymore.  Every announcing team that comes to call a Titans game talks about how this could be the week he gets on track...and then it never happens.  Of course, it might help if it seemed like he was the only one who didn't give any effort, but unfortunately he's one of many players who have phoned it in the past few weeks.  I realize that Kenny Britt is a big loss, but seriously could we not have someone step up and make some plays.   Again, you have a fanbase that is eager for something good to happen and we see nothing good happening out there for the past two weeks.  I have a bad feeling this week's game vs the Colts could be a ugly one.  

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posted by Michael Hickerson at 10/24/2011 12:24:00 PM | |
Friday, October 21, 2011
Vols vs Bama Haiku
Vols huge underdogs
Crimson Tide looks very good 
Traditional game

Toss out record books
Almost beat them years ago 
Series goes in streaks 


posted by Michael Hickerson at 10/21/2011 11:27:00 AM | |
Sunday, October 16, 2011
The Middle Half 2011
I still get nervous before a race. It doesn't matter that I've done three half marathons and a handful of 5Ks and a 10K, for some reason, I still get a bit nervous. Not so nervous that I can't function, mind you. Just a feeling of nervous anticipation as I ponder all the things that can go right or wrong during the next few minutes or hours.

Three years ago, I lined up for my first half marathon, curious to see if I could complete the endurance test that is running 13.1 miles. I passed and was encouraged enough to sign up again the next year and then again this year. I compete against myself in these events, trying to find ways to improve things as I work toward them each year. I realize that it's foolish to compare myself to everyone around me because I'll always be slower than some, faster than others. And that's OK because we've all got different fitness levels.

Yesterday's race started with a beautiful sunrise. Just gorgeous and spectacular. The weather was a bit on the cool side, which is perfect for running. (I'd rather be a bit cool than too hot). There was a cool breeze for much of the race--enough to cool you off but not enough to make things difficult as a headwind.

One of the things I like most about the Middle Half (besides that fact that it's a fairly even elevation) is I think the first half has some beautiful scenery. It helps to have that distraction beyond just the music on the iPod (seriously, how did people run long distances before we could easily store a bazillion hours of music on such a small, compact device?!?) and the first half of the Middle Half has that in spades. It could be part of the reason I always do better on the first half...or it could be just a signal that I need to work on my endurance a bit more.

In the end, I finished about the same or a bit slower than I did last year. It gives me something to work on and some things to improve over the next year or so. But as always, it was a lot of fun and a great sense of accomplishment when I finished it. And there's nothing like running a long distance to help make water and Gatorade taste so good!

posted by Michael Hickerson at 10/16/2011 07:09:00 AM | |
Friday, October 14, 2011
Vols vs LSU Haiku
Number one visits
Redemption bid on the line
Must play perfect game

Lots of injuries
Vols almost won game last year
Need some good karma


posted by Michael Hickerson at 10/14/2011 04:15:00 PM | |
Tuesday, October 11, 2011
TV Round-Up: Breaking Bad: "Face Off"
All season long, Walt has been playing a game of chess with Gus, always a dozen or so moves behind on things.

Finally, Walt finds a blind spot for Gus and one that he's able to exploit to finally win the game, get out from his contract with Gus and find a way to save his family and Jesse. Walt's also got the added bonus that Gus took out the Cartel, leaving a huge power vacuum in the meth community, one I fully expect his Heisenberg personality to fill as the final season begins sometime next summer.

That still doesn't mean Walt has necessarily won for the long term. Walt's initial desire for entering the meth trade was to find a way to provide for his family after his death. And while the cancer was in remission, several points in the final four or so episodes seem to point to it being back, even if Walt isn't telling anyone it is. This season, we saw Walt and Skylar worrying about how they'd launder all the huge sums of cash they had from the meth business. Now it appears Walt is once again back to square one on the money because of a crisis and his belief that the money can buy him out of all circumstances (a belief Skylar shares as she tries to buy off Ted to get the IRS off her trail). I get the feeling one portion of Walt's demise will be the IRS showing up to question some things about where all this money is coming from. And while family and friends are willing to believe the gambling story, it looks like it could collapse under any kind of scrutiny.

Of course, that's assuming that Jesse doesn't figure out how many ways of Sunday Walt has manipulated him. First it was letting Jane die, now it's the implication that Walt poisoned the kid to push Jesse into his corner. We've seen that their partnership has been on shaky footing this year and while they had to join forces in the final episodes this year, it won't take much to tip the balance back to the rift we saw this year. And at some point, you get the feeling that Jesse could sell Walt out to save his own skin--or that of the girlfriend and her son. It's fairly certain that the Jesse is on the radar of the law enforcement community--not just local but also federal.

The final few hours of season four of Breaking Bad were all about ratcheting up the tension and then paying it off brilliantly. Watching last week as Walt tried to take out Gus was edge-of-your-seat good as was all of this week. Walt finally came up with a plan that put him out ahead of Gus and while he won this round, I have a feeling he's lost his soul.

I can't believe the season is over. And that we've only got sixteen hours of this brilliant show left.

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posted by Michael Hickerson at 10/11/2011 11:43:00 AM | |
Monday, October 10, 2011
What I Saw This Weekend
Both teams from Tennessee (both pro and college) were at a crossroads in terms of their seasons. The Vols and Titans had some early successes that kindled some optimism but there were still a lot of questions out there. Both teams faced big tests this past weekend.

And, unfortunately, both teams failed the tests.

The Vols had everything lined up to take the next step in their return from the end of the Fulmer era and the year under he-who-shall-not-be-named. But the issues that have plagued us all year on both sides of the ball reared their ugly head and just wouldn't go away. The lack of ability to snap the ball consistently is plaguing us, throwing off timing. (And it could only get worse with Tyler Bray out due to his broken hand). The inability to run the ball and have consistent place kicking (seriously, we have a whole soccer team over there. Surely one of those players would like the chance to place kick! Hell, we've got a whole women's team we could audition as well. Either that or we put the UT Medical Center on figuring out a way to clone the Colquitts so we can have a punter again. Or maybe Jeff Hall has a son or daughter who is ready to step onto campus....) haunted us. Meanwhile, I think the Vols lost a lot of momentum when the refs took away our touchdown that would have tied the game. At that point, the air seemed to drain out of the team and Neyland Stadium.

The one piece of good news that I see is, ya know, Matt Simms played well enough to almost beat LSU last year. So, you never know.... (Yes, my glasses are orange-tinted...why do you ask?)

Meanwhile, the Titans....oh, the Titans.

It's like we have some mental block on the Steelers. I refuse to blame their terrible towel curse since I have to point this out yet again--it's just a stupid piece of fabric!!!!! Steeler fans who get all up in arms when anyone questions their stupid terrible towel make me ill.

But for some reason, the Titans looked like that pathetic team that played Jacksonville instead of the team we saw the last three weeks. I think a big part of it was the multiple chance to get a TD on the first drive and coming away with only a field goal. Another is the fact that Chris Johnson got his playmaker money, but hasn't earned it this year. He got his cash, but I guess we don't get any of his dash.

A terrible weekend for my favorite teams....well, maybe not the Redskins who on a bye got some distance from Philly and New York, who both lost. How long and hard did I laugh to see the Philly dream team go to 1-4? Long and very, very hard....

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posted by Michael Hickerson at 10/10/2011 04:46:00 AM | |
Friday, October 07, 2011
Vols vs Georgia Haiku
Season defining
Turn up the heat on the Dawgs
Defend home field

I have a special place of dislike deep in my soul for UGA. Many of their fans are miserable whether they win or let's make them miserable by losing!

The last two meetings in God's house have gone our way in a huge way. If we can jump on them early and often, I am hopeful for great things!

Go Big Orange!!!!!!!!!!!!!


posted by Michael Hickerson at 10/07/2011 05:32:00 PM | |
Monday, October 03, 2011
TV Round-Up: Doctor Who -- The Wedding of River Song

As Doctor Who closes in on its fiftieth anniversary, it's nice to know that while the future is bright, this new chapter and celebration appears it will be built on paying homage to long, rich history that has come before it. No where was that more evident than in Saturday evening's cliffhanger that once again tries to inject the "Who?" back into Doctor Who.

The concept of delving into the exact nature of who and what the Doctor is isn't new. The series did it in the mid-80s under script editor Andrew Cartmel and his infamous "Cartmel masterplan." And while fans can argue until the Gallifreyeans come home about whether or not Cartmel had an end-game for the questions he and his writing staff raised, it's nice to know that this time around there will probably be some kind of plan and end-point to the conversation about just "who is the Doctor?"

Namely because we have Steven Moffat in charge. And while I don't necessarily believe he's got every little nuance worked out, I still have enough faith in him to have an end point in mind and work toward it.

The sixth series finale of Doctor Who only confirmed that again for me.

Moffat understands that you can give the audience answers, assume they're intelligent enough to follow a long-term storyline that offers pay-offs along the line and still tickle their curiosity over the course of just under 50-minutes of running time. The fact that he does all that, while telling a pretty compelling story is just further testament that fans are watching an era with as much story telling confidence as we got in the days when Barry Letts and Terrance Dicks or Phillip Hinchcliffe and Robert Holmes were running the show.

"The Wedding of River Song" felt like the type of sweeping episode that "The End of Time" was trying to be (and pretty much coming up short). Coupled with last week's "Closing Time," we get to see the Doctor resignedly accepting his fate that it's his time to die and then finding a way to cheat it. After far too long of having the Doctor be some kind of intergalactic superhero, so revered that many of those he's helped during this travels would show up to aid him in his final hour, we see the Doctor find a way to pull back into the shadows a bit. The Doctor sets up his own death to be a game to withdraw from what the legend he's become and I can't wait to see where Moffat will take the series next season.

Once again, Moffat almost demands that upon watching this episode that you go back to all of his pivotal episodes and watch them again for clues he put in place there. He also continues his willingness to examine the nature of time travel and its implications. The idea that time stopped because River couldn't accept killing the Doctor, thus creating two moments in conflict was nicely done. Again, Moffat is able to bring back familiar faces and have them be not only welcome but also pivotal to the story he's telling (again, unlike every other Russell T. Davies season ender, especially the incredibly self-indulgent "The End of Time").

And just like we saw last year, Moffat is confident enough in his audience, his show, his cast and his writers to offer enough answers to be satisfying but also to leave some things dangling for next season. And he's got this fan eager to see where the journey will take us next.

It's going to be a long hiatus....

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posted by Michael Hickerson at 10/03/2011 12:44:00 PM | |

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