Tuesday, December 30, 2003

What I've Learned

What have I learned in exactly 37 years of life? I've learned...
  • The final chord of the Beatles' "A Day in the Life" is a thing of beauty.

  • Star Trek and Star Wars are fun, but they're not that fun.

  • Remember your friends and cherish their memories. Keep in touch with them if possible, but remember there's more to old friends than reminiscences.

  • Pride is the cause of 99% of the world's problems. People who are too proud - including me - to admit to themselves that they might be wrong. Too proud to make a change in their lives because it might diminish themselves in their own eyes. Too proud to say, "I'm sorry - my fault". Too proud to consider both sides of an argument. Too proud to be open-minded about facts. Too proud to lose face. Too proud to be thought less of. Too proud to risk embarrassment. Too proud to give in to the truth. Too proud to risk rejection. Too proud to look beyond the surface.

  • The power to make someone laugh - truly laugh - is a great power indeed. To cause someone to laugh gives you a greater power than to make them cry.

  • Corollary: Comedy is 90% timing, 10% material, and 10% irony.

  • On the web, content is king.

  • If the only way to kill the vampire Strahd guarding the gates of Ravenloft is to roll a critical hit with a natural 20 - you'll definitely roll a 4.

  • Nobody is 100% right, and nobody is 100% wrong.

  • There is no crime so heinous as one that harms a child. But harm can be invisible: neglect, ridicule, indifference and overindulgence can be as damaging as other forms of abuse

  • If you know what you need, and you see what you want better see that you keep what you have....

Volunteer Tailgate Party - Vol. XVIII

CJ of Up For Anything is hosting the latest Volunteer Tailgate Party, a bi-weekly compilation of the best and brightest blatherings of the Rocky Top Brigade.

This week he's featured the cast and crew of the RTB and their holiday resolutions as we ring in 2004. Enjoy!

Monday, December 29, 2003

You'll Shoot Your Eye Out

Hang on tight - I'm about to backpedal over everything I've been saying about carrying concealed weapons, and guns in general and stuff. Hold on.....wheeeeeeeeeeee!!!

Ok, maybe not a complete backpedal - but SayUncle brings up A Christmas Story (SU: Ok...whatever) and reminded me of something I had thought about on Christmas Day watching it at my wife's family's house in West Tennessee....

There's a scene near the end of the movie - Little Ralphie's gotten everything he wanted for Christmas, all except for the one thing he wanted most: the Red Rider BB Rifle. Throughout the whole picture, his parents have denied his request for the BB gun - citing its inherant dangers. In the warm early evening 1940's Christmas Day afterglow, his little brother Randy snoozes beneath the tree, clutching a model zeppelin. Ralphe sits on the couch between his mom and dad, a little dazed, a little happy, and little sad, but not wanting to disappoint his mom and dad who sit on either side of him.

One of them ask him if he got everything he wanted for Christmas, and Ralphie says, yes...pretty much. Almost. His mom is comforting, knowing no-one gets everything they want for Christmas.

His dad, however, has a gleam in his eye. "What's that over there?" he wonders, peering at a chair in the far corner of the room. Ralphie glances up, curious. "What's over there behind that chair? Go ahead, Ralphie - go and see."

A small light begins to build in Ralphie's eyes as he clambers cautiously off the sofa and makes his way over the chair. Mom and Dad stand up to watch, Mom with a quizzical look at Dad - who has a wonderfully melancholy look on his face.

Ralphie finds hidden behind the chair - a long, thin package. Only one thing it could be - he knows it, but can't quite believe it. Eager hands rip at the wrapping paper and we begin to see the markings of a Red Rider BB gun.

Mom says, "How...where did that...?" to which Dad replies with a shrug, "It was Santa - Santa must've brought it." Then softly, to his wife he says, "My father gave me one of the those when I was a kid...."

That scene of a father's love for his son, and the desire to see his children's wishes come true is my favorite scene in any Christmas movie - and one of my favorite movie scenes of all time.

I try very hard to keep the magic of Christmas alive for my kids - we set out cookies, milk, reindeer food outside - we open the fireplace, and make sure the flue is open. The belief in Santa lasts for such a short time as desires turn from BB Guns and Star Wars Death Star playsets to records, CD's, Money Market accounts.... as much of the magic as we can hold on to, the more precious their childhood memories will be.

And from a father passing on a tradition to his son on Christmas to my father passing on traditions to me and on to my kids, it's a Wonderful thing.

Sunday, December 28, 2003

More on O'Charley's

Last week I wondered why the lawsuit against O'Charley's concerning the Hepatitis A scare was going forward.

Then I read this today, and almost lost my lunch:

Hepatitis blame won't kills suits, lawyers say (Knoxville News Sentinel, 12/28/03)

'The likely Mexican origin of the onions blamed in hepatitis outbreaks probably won't bring dismissal of lawsuits against the U.S. restaurants that served them, lawyers say.

It's really not a defense that someone else sold you the adulterated food," said Sid Gilreath, a Knoxville attorney. "It doesn't relieve you of legal responsibility."


Tennessee law allows a jury to assign percentages of blame to various parties so each has to pay its share.


Nashville attorney Paul Davidson said he believes that because Tennessee law lets juries apportion blame, it's possible O'Charley's will be assigned a smaller part of the fault.'
How any law can exist that would allow any party - individual or company - to assume culpability in a lawsuit when it can be proven they are not responsible...

'"This is not a situation where the restaurant failed to adhere to cleanliness requirements," Davidson told The Tennessean.'
...is beyond belief. Any judge or attorney who allows such a lawsuit to go forward should resign in shame, and this loophole in the law should be changed immediately.

Now, that being said the lawyer being quoted is not officially part of the case. He's simply a Knoxville lawyer being asked his opinion on the case. However, if what he says turns out to be the case, and O'Charley's is forced to defend itself against something it had no control over, it's a travesty.

Thursday, December 25, 2003

Ghosts of Christmas Past

Some random memories of Christmas from my childhood:

  • I always had terrible trouble falling asleep Christmas Eve. Some years I remember I would stay up almost all night - not like I was trying to catch Santa or anything, I was so excited I could just never go to sleep. I remember one year I was allowed to open one present Christmas Eve, and it was the album soundtrack to The Muppet Movie - Rainbow Connection and all. I remember putting the album on Repeat and listening to it Over and Over All Night Long.

  • Another year, earlier, I remember getting a Sesame Street "Bert" puppet and taking him to bed with me.

  • Yet another year, I dreamed I had woken up, gone into the living room with my parents and I had gotten a couple presents - clothes, mostly, no big deal. I woke up for real with a feeling of terror - that I had had a lousy Christmas morning.

  • There's a Christmas picture that I'll dig up and post - I'm sitting in the floor with my brother wearing Green Bay Packers pajamas. Huh? We live in Tennessee - why in the world had I wanted Packers PJ's?

  • Other bits of recollections: My parents audiotaping Christmas morning for several years; always getting an apple as the last thing in my stocking; getting the Shaun Cassidy "Da Doo Ron Ron" album (ok, the laughing and mocking will now commence..................................feel better? Moving on...); the puppet theatre; the TRC Total Control Racing set that ultimately proved my parents were Santa; wandering outside to the front yard late in the evening and singing Christmas Carols softly to myself (and someone else, of course); the weather guys doing "Santa-tracking reports"; one year we visited my grandmother in Atlanta for Christmas, and my parents had to explain that Santa just brought the presents to her apartment. It wasn't for several years that I looked back and said, "Ohhhhh". How they hid the presents in the trunk or something I'll never know
I have many more, I suppose, but that's a random sampling.

We went to our church's Christmas Eve service tonight, our quartet sang a few songs and my spirits were lifted considerably. For several weeks I've been in a paranoid funk, first with the flu epidimic, now worse with the terror warnings. Remembering these happy Christmases and being reminded of the simple message of peace at Christmas has helped a good deal. I can't wait to see the faces of my kids in the morning.

I pray that our nation and its people remain safe, and that His will be done.

Merry Christmas

God Bless Us, Everyone.

Wednesday, December 24, 2003


Conversation with my daughter, Gigglegirl (age 4) on the way home this afternoon, Christmas Eve.

GiggleGirl is in a pre-Christmas anxious mood...actually, she's angry because she wants to go out of town to see her relatives right now and by golly, we'd better move it. However, when she's in a mood and riding in her carseat in my car, she has a tendency to kick the back of my driver's seat. Hard.


GiggleGirl: I want to go to Jackson now!!!

Me: No, we're going to church tonight and tomorrow after we open presents we'll leave...

GG: Grrrr....(begins kicking my chair)

After a few seconds of muttered 4-year-old cursing - razzin' Little Pony frazzin' Barney mrrpphin' Ariel...

Me: All right - I'm going to have to call Santa Claus and tell him not to bring you any presents! (make vague motions to pick up my cellphone)

GG: (whining) Noooooooo! Daddy! (stops kicking. Briefly. After a few moments she starts cursing and kicking again - rackin' Wiggles frackin' Lilo and Stitch...)

Me: Hey!! Ok, I'm calling Santa right now... (actually pick up cellphone, move it toward my ear)

GG: (whining harder) Nooooooooooooooooooooo!! DADDY!!! (stops kicking again. Even more briefly. Starts cursing and summoning minor Disney demons - brackin' Chernabog mackin' Firebird - and kicks again with more force...

Me: Ok!! That's it! I'm calling Santa. (open cellphone, make pretend dialing noises, hold phone up to ear)

GG: (crying in disbelief and terror) Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!!!! Nononononono!!!!

Me: Hello, North Pole? Yes, can I speak to Santa please? Oh, ok, yes I'll hold... (back to GG) I'm on hold, sweety.

GG: (beside herself) Daddddddddddddddy!!!!!!

Me: Yes...what? Oh, ok - can you have him call Barry _______ at xxx-xxxx (I said my real cellphone number - verisimiilitude, you know). Thank you - goodbye. (close phone, feel guilty for causing daughter to cry - well, I felt guilty for about two seconds)

GG: (sniffling) Daddy, you didn't really call Santa did you???

Me: Yes, I did, but he's busy and I had to leave a message and he's going to call me back. I'll make you a deal. If you can promise me you'll stop kicking the back of my chair I won't tell Santa that you've been bad when he calls back....

GG: (thinking, still sniffling, says nothing)

Me: Well? Do you promise?

GG: (through her tears) D-D-D-Daddy....I-I-I can't promise that!!!

snicker ;)

Well, she never promised anything but she didn't kick my anymore the rest of the way home. I guess that's something.

Although I wonder what I would have done in someone had called my phone right about that time. And if I had "Here Comes Santa Claus" or "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" as one on my ringtones I might have made it ring anyway....

Yeah, yeah, I'm getting coal in my stocking this year.

Holiday Cheer

James Lileks comes out of his brief vacation to deliver some desparately needed holiday cheer, and proving once again that even with one hand tied behind his back and half the letters pulled off his keyboard, he's the best writer in the blogosphere.

If you've never read him before, start now and don't stop. If you're an old fan, enjoy.

Changes, Changes...

Filthy Hippy Speak has moved. Adjusteth thy blogrolls accordingly.

Tuesday, December 23, 2003

Who's Responsible?

Hepatitis A was cause of death, lawyer says

'An attorney for a Roane County man's family said Monday that Michael Smith died of complications from hepatitis A he allegedly contracted when he ate at an O'Charley's restaurant.


"The results (of a family-requested autopsy) were interpreted by one of Smith's treating specialists, and it was established that there was a likely link between hepatitis A and his death," said James K. Scott, attorney for Smiths' family. "In all likelihood if he hadn't eaten at O'Charley's, he wouldn't be dead."


Smith's family sued O'Charley's in Knox County Circuit Court for $17.5 million, alleging the restaurant failed to serve food that is safe and to take precautions against contamination.


With the help of the Knox County Health Department, East Tennessee Division of the Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control, the Department of Health was able to identify green onions as the disease source.


"The FDA is quite convinced that the green onion contamination happened on the farm level in Mexico...We always encourage consumers to wash their produce."
So I don't understand - the contamination is almost certain to have occured in Mexico before the onions were ever shipped to the U.S. But since the suit against O'Charley's seems to be going forward, are they alleging that the onions simply weren't washed before preparation, and O'Charley's is at fault for the man's death? Or did they not do anything out of the ordinary, and the Hepatitis A virus survived standard preparation techniques?

If it's the latter, surely the lawsuit against O'Charley's (and, by extension, their employees) would have no merit.

I haven't heard this point addressed in any of the coverage - maybe I missed it.

Monday, December 22, 2003

Lagging behind

I'm thoroughly offended by this:

The Bear Flag League Store

All I can say is the Rocky Top Brigade better get off their collective butts and compete, lest we lose our rightful place as the most influential blogger alliance in the 'sphere.

Heck, they're even sponsoring a prize in the 2004 Dead Pool...

So, hey, any industrious T-Shirt makers out there? Available are my RTB flag (at top right) or SouthKnox Bubba's version on his site.

Personally, I just want to see Glenn wearing an RTB hat, just so we know he remembers that he's a member.

Hey, Teresa - care to put a logo on one of your felt hats? Think of the licensing revenue!!

SayUncle could offer a stylish RTB sweater for your dog...or we could sell baby bibs with the RTB logo courtesy of BusyMom.


Um, ok..



If I were a character in The Lord of the Rings, I would be Faramir, Man of Gondor, the humble younger brother of Boromir.

In the movie, I am played by David Wenham.

Who would you be?
Zovakware Lord of the Rings Test with Perseus Web Survey Software

(Found via Big Stupid Tommy)

Friday, December 19, 2003

Grim Grinning Ghost..

Apparently there's been a photograph taken of a ghost at London's Hampton Court palace. A security camera seems to have picked up an image of an apparition dressed in strange clothing closing an emergency door.

Here's the image from the security camera:

But our crack staff of gully dwarf photographers has been up all night drinking developing solution and somehow in their drunken stupor came up with some startling close-ups of the ghost. Here's one slightly pulled in:

And a close-up, unprocessed view of the ghost him (it)-self:

Using some patented zooming and sharpening techniques developed by Avon, they were able to clear up the image a bit:

And a bit more:

Until finally, the true identity of the malevolent spirit is revealed!!

And you thought he was going to London just to escape publicity....

Thursday, December 18, 2003


The report is out that says the 9/11 attacks were preventable.

Other people are already giving their opinions about this report - here's my question:

Should the airport screeners have stopped the hijackers from getting through the airport gates? Was there a demonstrable breakdown in existing airport security measures that should have detected the box-cutters, etc. that would have kept them from even getting on the planes?

End of an Era

This is a Very Bad Thing:

Carnival Ends Era -- Of Paradise

"It is indeed the end of an era, albeit a rather short-lived one: Carnival Cruise Line is announcing it will reposition Carnival Paradise, the industry's only remaining all-non-smoking cruise ship, to Long Beach, where the ship will sail three- and four-night Baja Mexico itineraries. Somewhat buried in the announcement is an aside that will be a disappointment to non-smoking cruisers: "The Paradise, which has operated as a smoke-free vessel since its induction in 1998, will no longer retain that designation."
My wife and I sailed on the Paradise last year for our 10th anniversary. 10 wonderful smoke-free days, now will be no longer possible for anyone wanting to keep their lungs reasonably clear in an enclosed space. That's too bad.

The Carnival Paradise

Vilification and Clarification

I need to clear something up.

A few days ago, I posted a comment on Mike William's blog, "Master of None" regarding my feelings towards Concealed Carry Permits (CCP). Michael, who has an excellent site that I visit frequently, posted an open letter regarding the State of California denying his application for a CCP. Here is part of my comment:

"If I were to take a live, armed weapon and carry it on my person, in public, it would eat away at my sanity just as if it were emitting lethal radiation. To know that I carried an instrument of sure and certain death on my person, available and ready to be pulled out and used at a moment's notice to possibly kill...a child. A homeless person. An innocent.

Obviously that is not your intent. You want to protect yourself - maybe that is how you feel in California. But being brought up in Eastern Tennessee I've never once felt the need to protect myself from imminent bodily harm in public. And if I were aware of a location that might be unduly hazardous - a dark alley, a badly lighted parking area - I would avoid it. I've never been mugged, nor can I readily pull up a name of any person I've ever met that's been mugged or even bodily threatened in my whole life.

What scares me most is the arbitrary nature of self-defense. What line must be crossed to signal to you that there is imminent danger or threat? Is it a criminal pulling a gun on you? In which case, unless you're a gunslinger, you're not going to outdraw him. Is it someone pulling a knife? Threatening words? Bad language or rude gestures? Where is that one point where you decide, "Yes, my life or the life of my loved ones is in danger and I must now take it upon myself to take the life of another person." What if the guy is reaching into his jacket, and you are sure, absolutely certain that it is a weapon. You pull your gun and shoot--and see he's reaching for his wallet. Or worse, you miss and hit a child running in the street. Where is that line?

The radiation would rot my brain and I would never be able to live with myself.

Maybe it's different in California. Maybe it's different in Tennessee. Maybe I don't love my family enough...maybe I love them too much. But I know myself, and know that if I surrendered to the paranoia - and I mean that in the most basic sense - there would be no turning back.

I'll stay in the light, thanks."
Then, some subsequent commentors took issue with my statements:
"You can argue the benefit of carrying a firearm, and question someone's justification if you like, but speaking of a concealed firearm as if it emits radiation says more about you than it does about anything else. I know that I'm engaging in the popular pastime of "psychoanalyzing from a distance" and I apologize for that, but really, getting so intense about the mere proximity of a gun is a little silly. It's only a tool, and if you aren't comfortable with it that's OK, but some of us are trained, comfortable, and interested in keeping one handy." (Tom K)

I have had a CCW permit for over 5 years (I live in Knoxville, TN.) At no point have I felt "irradiated" with an urge to go gangbusters on the homeless nor have I ever had the occasion to defend myself (I hope I NEVER have to). Barry, do you hear voices in your head telling you to kill people when you carry a pocket knife?...or swing a baseball bat with your kid? (Justin)

Barry: if you actually believe that crap about a radioactive gun eating away your sanity, it's time to check yourself in and get the help you desperately need. Your sanity has already been eaten. (Xrlq)

Are you so morally arrogant that you think that you've got the ethics market cornered? The fact that you don't believe in self-defense does NOT give you the right to impose that belief on others. That is as indefensible as me imposing my religion on you. (Kevin Murphy)

I support your right to choose not to carry if you don't want to. However, that doesn't give you or anyone else the right to prevent me from defending myself in the most effective possible way. I could post, oh, about a thousand pages of information to support the fact that liberal concealed carry results in a net benefit to society. I leave it as an exercise for you to expend the minimal level of effort to find this information online. (Nevada)
I had no idea I was so warped. Obviously I must've posted in Klingon because nobody seemed to understand what I meant. I finally replied:

"First of all, the "radiation" comment was a metaphor I was attempting to use to illustrate the effect possessing a gun on my person would have on my mental well-being. I didn't intend it to be taken anywhere near literally - I thought that would be obvious, but perhaps not.

Second, nowhere in my comment did I try to "impose" my belief on anyone. Nor did I attempt to be morally or ethically superior to anyone, I simply expressed a continued amazement that people find life in public dangerous enough to feel that carrying a concealed weapon is both necessary and beneficial. Several people mention they know dozens of other people who have CCW's - including a secretary who once shot someone in the chest(?) - I myself know of noone who does personally (except those I've met blogging).

Yes, random violent episodes do happen, such as the event cited by Steve, but unless I'm just missing the news they are few and far between. Perhaps I just happen to live in a sane part of the country.

And to the others, no, I don't hear voices in my head telling me to kill my children with baseball bats, nor do I feel compunctions to veer my car off the road into a crowd of people. I understand the lethal potential of a car, but it has other primary uses like, oh, say, transportation. A gun does not."
Michael did understand this, apparently:
"Hey guys, I think Barry was speaking metaphorically about his own perspective on carrying. He can have his own opinion, and I'm sure he's not alone in his feelings about guns. (Michael Williams)
But it didn't seem to matter...
"I think it's obvious that if Barry thinks handguns emit radiation he is a nutcase. Really Barry just because you are too much of a coward to defend yourself doesn't mean I can't defend myself with leathal force if neccasary [sic]. (Jim)"

Barry, a good tinfoil hat will protect you from that radiation. Go to my site for directions on making your own ! (Dennis Kucinich)
Thanks for sharing.

And that was the end of it. So I thought. I started receiving website references from some other sites: SayUncle early on, which is cool because I respect him. But then came Smallest Minority. And Hell in a Handbasket. And Richard Poe. And a couple of others, basically saying the same thing: "What an idiot for thinking a gun will rot his brain like radiation - you need psychiatric help", and "How dare you try to keep me from carrying a concealed weapon!" (In fairness, some sites like Wince and Nod seemed to understand, if not agree with, what I was saying and restrained from commenting on my mental state.)

So now I'm being trashed on several sites at once, which is always a great feeling. I understand that to state an opinion is to risk being criticized and I'm trying not to appear thin-skinned, but I'm surprised at the vehemence and nastiness of some of the comments - maybe I'm naive, but I expect fairness and good taste in public discourse. Silly me. Plus the fact they linked and commented on the original statement and not the clarification made it necessary for me to try to defend myself on the various blogs. I won't try to excerpt, but suffice to say it got to be repetitious.

So, then for the record, I'd like to just put in a nutshell what I wanted to say, then maybe that really will be the end of it. Maybe.

I would feel uncomfortable carrying a loaded weapon. Very uncomfortable that I would possibly have the means to end a person's life within arm's reach. That doesn't mean I'm going to do it, or would ever be tempted. Just that fact makes me uncomfortable.

I also would feel uncomfortable knowing that anyone on the street, in the theatre, at a restaurant, at the supermarket could be carrying a loaded gun on their person. And here's why - despite training, despite temperament, despite the best of intentions: I don't trust you. That's simply it, I don't trust you. I don't trust a person who is not a licensed law enforcement officer of some kind - someone who, by virtue of their job, I would assume they have proper gun training - to carry a weapon. You may be a great person, love your kids, go to church, would never pull a gun in anger at another person - you may be supremely confident of that fact in your own mind, but I'm not. To me, you would be just as likely to be the one sticking up the fast-food clerk as the one defending him, or - in your possibly untrained and excited state - could be the one who with the best of intentions attempts to intervene but misses and hits someone else. Or you could be the one who gets pissed off at me in traffic and, instead of the flipping me the finger you pop off a few rounds at my back window.

I'm not concerned whether there are documented cases of this happening - I am afraid that they will, when more and more people are allowed to carry concealed weapons.

I understand completely that you have the best of intentions, the best training, the best gun money can buy, and the best reasons in the world to want to defend yourself. But I'm sorry, I don't have insight into your character from my vantage point and I can't assume you can be trusted with a gun any more than I can assume you're not going to attack me anyway without a gun.

Some people have used the automobile analogy as a comparison: A car is as lethal a device as a gun - do you have ethical problems driving a car? To that I would say, no, because I have a reasonable trust in my mind that: a) an acceptable percentage of the people driving have a legal driver's license, have been driving for a number of years, and know how to operate a car. I trust myself in that regard as well. Therefore, I think the relative risk of getting in or causing an accident and vital necessity of using a car is acceptable compared to the hardship and chaos that would result in banning automobiles. With firearms, however, even with the several self-defense case story articles I've read recently, I'm not convinced that the negligible gain from carrying a gun would outweigh the high potential risk of an accidental or intentional shooting.

I'm not pushing for any legislation change, I'm not pushing for repealing the 2nd amendment or anything like that. I'm just saying that I don't think it's a good idea because inevitably - inevitably - there will be a tragedy, or tragedies. And I don't want to be anywhere near it.

Thank you. I hope I've made myself clear - please reference this post if necessary.

UPDATE, 12/19/03: Just an observation - hoplophobe sounds like someone with an unnatural fear of old Westerns sidekicks...

UPDATE 2, 12/19/03: Tgirsch at Lean Left has more.

Return of the King

I went to see this epic conclusion to the Lord of the Rings trilogy yesterday (so did Rich). Here are some random thoughts, in no particular order, about the movie (scroll down to avoid spoilers)


1) Excellent, excellent, excellent film. I re-immersed myself in Middle-earth this week, re-watching "Fellowship of the Ring" and "The Two Towers" on DVD to get back in the mood. "Fellowship" was 2:36 long, "Towers" was about 2:50, and "King" was about 3:15. If you go, prepare to stay awhile....

2) Some Ring-o-philes may disagree with me, and it's been years since I read the trilogy, but I think the story was more about Merry, Pippin and especially Sam Gamgee than it was about Frodo. True, Frodo was the ring-bearer, and the one who had the courage to eventually resist the ring and finish his task but that was his character more or less through the whole trilogy. If you see the changes in the other hobbits from Bilbo's party in "Fellowship" through the end of "King" you'll see three startling transformations from children to men.

3) I wonder if the estate of J.R.R. Tolkien had any problems with "The Lord of the Rings", by Frodo Baggins at the end of the movie? It made sense, but it was just odd seeing a real body of literature attributed to someone else - fiction or not.

4) Ok, just end the movie...ok? Oh wait another scene...

5) The Riders of Rohan must've watched "The Empire Strikes Back" before going into battle against those giant elephant-things. I kept waiting for one of them to shout, "Set harpoons and tow cables - go for the legs!!"

6) Except for some good battle sequences, I thought Legolas and especially Gimli were wasted in this flim. The minor characters like Faramir, his father Denethor the Steward of Rohan, Eowyn, and others really had larger and more personal roles to play. Gimli was rather one note, especially which is kind of a shame. Again, you can't really go heavily against the source material and I don't remember enough about him in the novel to know if more could've been given for him to do.

7) Um, Saruman? Saruman? *knock knock knock* I could've sworn Saruman was in this trilogy.... Actually all his stuff got cut from the movie so we don't see Christopher Lee at all. The Scouring of the Shire (from the end of the novel) was not included at all where we read the last of Saruman and Wormtongue.

8) After Aragorn rejects Eowyn, I wanted Legolas to run up and say, "Hey....yoo hoo! Me - other big hero guy over here - unattached and everything!! Hey!!"

9) Gandalf, what's the point of sleeping with your eyes open if you're not on guard? And Merry sure took his own sweet time trying to save Pippin from the palantir - why didn't he raise a fuss right away for Gandalf?

10) The scene on the bridge in the Cracks of Doom played out almost exactly like it did in my head (except for the part with Gollum dancing in "mid-air" fighting the invisible Frodo. That actually looked a bit silly right at the major climax of the movie...

11) Amazing how all the random destruction that happens to the soldiers (rocks falling on them, flaming debris raining down, elephant's tusks swinging - none of those events ever happen anywhere near the main characters. One big rocks falls and crushes 100 soldiers in its path and Aragorn barely notices it. I did like the Orc Commander's narrow escape from the flying boulder - one little sidestip, and he spits on it :)

That's all for now - maybe more random thoughts later.

Monday, December 15, 2003

And the Winner Is...

The 2003 Weblog Awards are closed. View the results:

2003 Weblog Awards

Congratulations, Rocky Top Brigadier Busy Mom for winning the Flappy Birds Category!

Close Call

Zeyad of Healing Iraq talks about the immediate aftermath of Saddam's capture:

". I stumbled to my grandmother's house where everyone was huddled in front of the tv watching Al-Jazeera. The news were still uncomfirmed, so we waited impatiently for Bremer's press conference. When he announced "We got him" everyone in the room cheered out loud. The following video of Saddam in his long hair and beard was a shock to us all. My grandmother burst in tears.


In the evening, I went out to fond armed teenagers filling our street carrying Saddam's pictures.....Some of the mob were dressed in Fedayeen clothes with grenades and explosives in their hands. I got foolish and tried to take photographs. They dragged me in their midst and I thought this was it."
Read the whole thing for some first-hand reports of life in Baghdad.


Newsrack is back after a two-month hiatus. Welcome back - we missed ya!

Saturday, December 13, 2003

Gone to Rehab?

Don't know if anyone's noticed, but apparently Rush Limbautamy has quit blogging on his site.

I have no idea if this has anything to do with his troubles with The Truth Laid Bear, that he wants to give more attention to his other "sites" or if it's a personal matter.

If it is personal, I hope it resolves itself soon. If it's his other blogs, well.....I hope he realizes someday that not everything is a niche issue - problems don't fit themselves into neat little packages you can build anti- sites around.

If it's the Ecosystem stuff, well...you screwed yourself up. You cheated. Grow up and deal with it instead of running away, huh?

UPDATE: Here's his "farewell" message:


Please visit SOUTH KNOX BUBBA for great pictures great local color and great comments

or Any of the great bloggers listed on your LEFT - particularly the members of the League of Liberals.


Notice nothing about the Rocky Top Brigade, but that's not surprising.

Cut him loose from the RTB. I myself am pulling him from the RTB Blogroll. If he wants to walk away, by all means let's do the same.

Thursday, December 11, 2003

Volunteer Tailgate Party - Vol. XVII

Tommy of Big Stupid Tommy is hosting the latest Volunteer Tailgate Party, a bi-weekly compilation of the best and brightest blatherings of the Rocky Top Brigade.

This week he's featured the cast and crew of the RTB in his version of his favorite television-inspired holiday family party, Festivus.

Tuesday, December 09, 2003

The Next Step...

Bob Gorrell, National/Syndicated.

Volunteer Tailgate Party News

This week's VTP is being hosted by Big Stupid Tommy on Thursday the 11th, so get your cards and letters into him by Wednesday night.

Here's the proposed schedule through January:

Tuesday, 12/30 (skipping Christmas and before the New Year)
Thursday, 1/8
Thursday, 1/22

Contact me to sign up for a date.

Monday, December 08, 2003

Jungle Fever

Speaking of Hatamaran, she's gone to over to the animal kingdom lately. Read her recent posts about the sad results of overdose, pet raccoons, The best Praying Mantis Christmas Ever, and, er, cat poop.

Rocky Top Brigade Updates

  • Jane, formerly of The Daily Rant, has moved to http://www.classlesswarfare.com/. I've adjusted the blogroll.

  • Rocky Top Brigade in the Knoxville News Sentinel.

    "The authors run the gamut, too, from anonymous to UT students, a professor, a father and a Nashville journalist. There's even a Tennessean who says he's scribing from China."
    Is that me? Not sure. SayUncle and Hatamaran didn't get mentioned either, and we're all Knoxville bloggers.

  • Don't forget to vote in the 2003 Weblog Awards. I was nominated in the Flappy Birds category and so far I only have 7 votes....


Several things that I want to grumble about:

1) Grumblegrumblegrumble.....

2) !&*#%^^#

3) razzin-frazszinn.....aaertnuern vuans

Ok, thanks - just needed to get that off my chest. No need to burden anyone with details...

Friday, December 05, 2003

Storming the Mouse

If you are at all interested in the latest goings-on surrounding the Walt Disney Corporation - specifically, the recent resignations of Disney family icon Roy E. Disney and Stanley Gold from the Board of Directors in protest of Michael Eisner's management, and the resulting speculation about the future of the Mouse House - I would recommend visiting these sites fairly regularly:
  • Mouse Planet
  • MiceAge

    The above two sites are run by groups of folks who regularly get inside info from TDA (Team Disney Anaheim) that seems fairly reputable and accurate. They can sometimes be over the top with their presentation, but they have good information. Point of fact, one of the two sites is run by a disgruntled former writer for the other (I can never remember which is which) so there's occasionally competition for a good story.

  • Jim Hill Media

    Jim is a great daily read for anyone who's interested in Disney and other entertainment media history - specifically those geared toward families and nostalgia. The majority of his (and his stable of contributors) stories are about Disney, but there are other topics such as Universal, comics, etc. thrown in.
Other Disney sites I follow:Finally, here's the Walt Disney Company's Mission Statement on its Investor Relations and Shareholder Services page:

"The Walt Disney Company's objective is to be one of the world's leading producers and providers of entertainment and information, using its portfolio of brands to differentiate its content, services and consumer products. The Company's primary financial goals are to maximize earnings and cash flow, and to allocate capital profitably toward growth initiatives that will drive long-term shareholder value"
Our local morning radio talk show host read this the other day, and pointed out an interesting ommission. What's missing from the paragraph that you would expect to be in and Disney Mission Statement?

UPDATE (12/08/03): Apparently Roy Disney and Stanley Gold have set up their own website: www.savedisney.com. From what I've been able to tell it's legitimate (although a bit generic) but it could be a source for good information in the weeks to come.

Thursday, December 04, 2003

The Quickie Mart

Today, I helped BrainyBoy (v7.7) run the cash register at his Second-Grade Store.

See, at his school they run a store starting about halfway through the year where they sell snacks, pencils, erasers, gel pens, notebooks and other such small school supplies. He's been at this school since Kindergarten and now finally that he's in Second Grade, it's his time to work in it! Of course, the real reason is to teach the kids some basic economic principles like supply and demand, investing (they each invest some of their own money to buy supplies, then will receive dividends later in the year), plus how to make change and other mathematical exercises.

Today is the second day it's been open, and it's BrainyBoy's turn to work the register. Me, being the swell dad that I am, answered the call for volunteers and helped them out.

It was interesting to see him manage the kids in line paying for their loot. He was able to correctly add up most of the purchases in his head - with a little help - and to make the correct change. What caught my eye was his willingness to help them when there was problem, he was up and out of the chair to check on the price of an item (with me yelling, "PRICE CHECK - KLEENEX TISSUE!" to his chagrin). He goes out of his way to help other kids, a trait which I find heartening.

Of course, he probably got tired of me yelling "CLEANUP IN AISLE SIX!" when someone knocked over a box of pencils, nor did he appreciate me extolling him to say "Thank you, come again!" after every purchase (in my best Apu voice from the Simpsons). Some people just don't understand sophisticated humor...

Wednesday, December 03, 2003

A Question

What is our responsibility to our fellow man?

If a friend is walking towards a cliff, do we or do we not have a responsibility to stop them?

UPDATE: Michael Williams of Master of None offers his opinion. To Michael, I would clarify by saying "friend" could mean anyone - from total stranger up to dear loved one...

Tuesday, December 02, 2003

Cheetahs Never Prosper

SayUncle (here, here and here) , Rich of Shots Across the Bow and Mike of Half-Bakered sum up Rush Limbaughtamy's multiple-blog suspension from the Truth Laid Bare for cheating on site statistics.

I think he's giving the RTB a bad name by association, and it has nothing whatsoever to do with his politics or his subject matter. His attitude, ethics and methods leave much to be desired by anyone except the most anarchic blogger.

Doesn't this seem to be the last straw that should get him kicked out of the Rocky Top Brigade? Or should it matter?

UPDATE: Added another link.

Welcome to the Rocky Top Brigade

Big RTB welcome to the newest Brigadiers:

Janet at The Dagley Dagley Daily, Brian across the pond at Voluntarily
in China
, and Jerry at smijer.

Oh, and RTB members - if you want to use my Rocky Top Brigade Blogroll or Flag at the right, feel free.

The code for the Blogroll is:

<script language="javascript" type="text/javascript" src="http://rpc.blogrolling.com/display.php?r=bc437d5b4878268597cc4cb373738dc1"></script>

Vote Early, Vote Often

Nominations are now open for the 2003 Weblog Awards. You can nominate in a number of categories, including Best Overall Blog, Best New Blog (est. 2003), Best Female-Authored, and all for all the Ecosystem categories (including Flappy Birds - hint hint hint).

Oh, and thanks, Brian!

Monday, December 01, 2003

Guilt by Omission?

I usually try to stay away from (capital 'P') Politics, but this caught my eye (via Instapundit):

What’s in Howard Dean’s Secret Vermont Files?

"DEAN—WHO HAS BLASTED the Bush administration for excessive secrecy—candidly acknowledged that politics was a major reason for locking up his own files when he left office last January. He told Vermont Public Radio he was putting a 10-year seal on many of his official papers—four years longer than previous Vermont governors—because of “future political considerations... We didn’t want anything embarrassing appearing in the papers at a critical time.”
Excuse me, you don't want anything embarrassing to get out?

Doesn't this imply that there's actually something embarrassing inside?

True, they deny there's a "smoking gun", but why make the statement about something embarrassing if there wasn't anything there?

Also true, political opponents have a way of taking minute details and blowing them way out of proportion but if you're confident of your abilities and qualifications as a campaigner and potential president, there either shouldn't be anything big enough even to be usable, or you, your staff or your message should be strong enough to combat anything that might be dragged out.

So either he's got something to hide, or he's a weenie. I report, you decide.