Monday, January 31, 2005


...what we bought at the school's gala dinner silent auction Saturday night?

(those of you I've told can't tell...)

Hint: It had to be hauled back to our house Sunday afternoon.

Hint #2: We had to borrow a trailer from a local caterer friend of ours to transport it over. It's now sitting in our dining room area - unfortunately, not many people can see it because it faces the back wall.

UPDATE (2/1): Oh, now you guys aren't even trying...... c'mon!

Hint #3: It requires wind to work. It contains parts that are made of ebony. It is about 95 years old, and it came from Sears.

Saturday, January 29, 2005

Let Freedom Ring (and Ring, and Ring, and Ring...)

"I'd like to ask a favor: Regardless of one's political inclination, irrespective of your confidence in the electoral process employed, or the decision to invade and occupy Iraq, no matter what the outcome, let us all stand united in our admiration for those courageous Iraqi's who will brave gunfire, RPGs, bombs, and reprisal, to determine their own fate? For they choose to do so in bold defiance of promised violence and certain intimidation."
Amen. And Amen.

Saturday Morning Blogging...

It's a rainy Saturday afternoon in East Tennessee. I'm sitting at the kitchen table on my wife's laptop, blogging while:

1) Laura's out getting her nails done in prep for a school gala this evening that we are attending.

2) BrainyBoy v8.95 - freshly fever-free and fanatically frisky - is reading a book for school to make up some time.

3) Tink is sitting at the table next to me, and we're both coloring in her Care Bears coloring book.

Earlier today I went and set up chairs in our church's new Senior High and Middle School sunday school rooms. After many months of construction headaches, the new wing and renovated wing of our church are ready to go. Tomorrow is the consecration of the new buildings and everything needs to be ready.

I'm typing in stream-of-blogginess, as things occur.

  • Laptops are a lot different to type on than a desktop keyboard - the keys are different and I have to take the time to correct a number of more typos.

  • This is kind of nice, watching Tink narrate her coloring adventures with a running commentary.

  • Tink's singing "...purple mountains majesty...above the fruited plain" after she found a crayon called "purple mountain majesty".

  • Now she's singing The Rainbow Song as we color rainbows. Little girls in the family cause grown men to do these thing.

  • Playing chess with BB while Tink sits in her beanbag answering school homework questions. Yes, kindergarten homework...
  • ?

Friday, January 28, 2005

Three Things You Do Not Want To Endure

1. The combined heat of a thousand suns concentrated upon the center of your brain

2. The rampaging force of a thundering herd of rampaging Critellian slargbeasts, on a frigid day on Rigel III

3. The steely, cratered gaze of Edward James Olmos

Frankly, I'll take the slargs.

Playing with the Little People

BrainyBoy v8.9 has the flu. Or a reasonable facsmile thereof.

I don't think it's the real flu - we'll find out a diagnosis in a little while.

Wednesday morning he woke up...well, woke up yakking for want of a better term. I stayed with him until Laura relieved me at 2, then I came in to work. He had a fever approaching 103 the rest of that day, though his stomach had settled somewhat before I left.

He spent yesterday at his grandmother's, and - a treat for him - got to sleep on the couch last night. Fever this morning was in the low 100's, unmedicated, so there's hope for him yet.

As he was dozing last night, about 10pm, I was sitting in a chair nearby watching TV. He takes after me, as all good sons should, and was snoring softly. Abruptly I noticed movement and I noticed his hands were moving. He'd picked up part of the comforter I'd thrown over him, and was moving the little fringes around rapidly right in front of his face. I looked more closely, and he was really moving the fringe up and down.

I stood and walked over with trepidation. Looking up at me with an odd, goofy expressions, he smiled and said, "I'm making the little people move!".

Oh, Lord, he's delirious. His temp's gone up to 110 and his head's going to start spinning any second...

Me: "What did you say?"

BB: "I'm playing with the little people" (continuing to make fringe dance around, and still smiling happily.

Me: "Are you ok?" I waved my hand in front of his face. "Are you even awake?"

BB: "Yep. I'm awake." (dum de dum dum....)

Ok, so he's apparently getting better as he beamed at me from couch. I guess a nice nap can do wonders.

He asked for something to drink, so I brought him some Diet Sierra Mist. It sat untouched on the table next to him as he dropped back off to sleep.

Sometime later around 11:45 he woke again. I was watching Leno and preparing to go to bed. Apparently Joan Embry was on with some animals, and they were reminiscing about her appearances with Carson. I was in the kitchen closing up shop and I heard BB laugh. I looked in and he was pointing at the TV.

BB: "Look at the aardvark! How weird."

Yep. How weird.

UPDATE: False alarm, sort of. No influenza, although he does have a viral infection similar to the one he and I both got last year that eventually became walking pneumonia. It doesn't look like this one will be nearly as bad.

Friday's Feast

Feast Thirty-Three

Appetizer - If you could have a free subscription to any magazine, which one would you like to have?

I took Sports Illustrated for a while, and that was nice. I guess it'd be Time since it comes out every week and a lot of what it writes gets into the public mainstream, and I hate to be behind.

Why, are you offering?

Maybe I'll just take Grit.

Soup - If you were to suddenly become famous, what would you choose as your stage name?

I think the Friday Feast crew's been hitting the tabasco a little early this week..

Stage name? Hm. Tom Cruise. Hey, you never know when they might cast me by mistake...

Salad - What ingredients make an awesome salad? Dressing? Croutons?

My perfect salad: Romaine lettuce, cukes, a large and plentiful variety of croutons, country ham, cheddar cheese (lots of it), and either Thousand Island or Honey Mustard dressing.

Main Course - What do you like most about your current job?

I like that I can do my small part to help people find the medical help that they need. I present information about services and treatments from our hospital system, and also provide a means for the public to communicate with our facilities and find out more about us.

Oh, and I get to work with cool felt-hat-making, alpaca-breeding vegetarian co-workers.

Other than - not much.

Dessert - Who is your favorite instrumental musician (not a singer)?

(Who to pick from? Yo Yo Ma? Kenny G? Chuck Mangione? Maybe Herb Albert..

Who just plays instrumental music anymore?

Ok, I pick John Williams. His whole mind is a musical instrument.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

"Faerie's Aire and Death Waltz" - The Unplayable Symphony

Got this the other day from a friend of mine, and have spent much time laughing over it.

These are a couple of pages from the conductor's score of "Faerie's Aire and Death Waltz" - and it's inherently (and deliberately) unplayable. If you have any experience at all reading music - or even if you don't - take a look at the graphics and have a number of good laughs.

To give you a taste: here's a thumbnail of the top lines of both pages. Click on the pictures to download the full versions.

Page 1:

Page 2 (Note: Now rumored Apocryphal):

(Oops - sorry, lost to the ether. Currently searching for new copy)

"Faerie's Aire and Death Waltz" was "composed" by John Stump.

Oh, yes, and it's "Based on a Cro-Magnon skinning chant."

Don't ask.

UPDATE: You can also purchase professional, sturday, 11 X 17 laminated copies by emailing a request to According to distributer Tom Hall, these laminated sheets, when held firmly between the fingers and waved in the air, make a most wonderful "woop - woop - woop" sound. Wow! That has always signified fine quality music to me ;)

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Friends of Democracy

Michael Totten is editing a series of reports chronicling the week before and after the Iraqi elections. 12 on-site correspondants, in each of Iraq's major provinces, will be reporting the election, and Michael will be compiling blog entries about their information:

Friends of Democracy: Ground level election news from the people of Iraq.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

I Guess I'm "IT"

And no, I'm not some killer clown that eats children. Big Orange Michael has "tagged" me, so here are my answers to his questions...

Random 10:
The majority of music on my PC are from movie or theatre soundtracks, with a little popular music thrown in plus a bunch of random Disney stuff and other audio clips. Be prepared.

1. "Overture/Company" from Company
2. An audio clip of Bob and Larry from Veggietales at the Dove Awards
3. "Rainbow Connection" from The Muppet Movie
4. Audio-only ride-through of "Star Tours" ride at Walt Disney World
5. "Your Fault/Last Midnight" from Into the Woods
6. "The Wampa's Lair/Vision of Obi-Wan/Snowspeeders Take Flight" from Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back
7. "Overture/And All That Jazz" from Chicago
8. "Departing Coruscant" from Star Wars: Attack of the Clones"
9. "Under the Stars" from The Lion King
10. "The Circle of Life (Colin Raye)" from O Mickey, Where Art Thou?

1. What is the total amount of music files on your computer?

There are 787 music files on my PC, but that doesn't count MIDI's which are in a separate area.

2. The last CD you bought is:

Not sure which one I bought last, but the last one I got as a gift (for my birthday) was "License to Chill" by Jimmy Buffett.

3. What is the last song you listened to before this message:

"Yes, and Amen" by Chonda Pierce.

4. Write down five songs you listen to a lot or mean a lot to you:

1. "Changes in Attitudes, Changes in Latitudes" by Jimmy Buffett
2. "Endless Night" from the Broadway play, "The Lion King"
3. "Tapestry of Nations" from Walt Disney World Millenium Celebration
4. "Down in the River to Pray" from O Brother, Where Art Thou?
5. "Grim Grinning Ghosts" from The Haunted Mansion

5. Who are you gonna pass this stick to (three persons and why)?

Johnny Carson Remembered

SoCal Mom shares some memories of being an assistant staff writerstaff writer's assistant for Johnny Carson on "The Tonight Show". She has some great backstage/behind-the-scenes stories of the latter part of Johnny's tenure on late night.

She plans to continue the remembrances for the next several days, so keep checking back.

Also, Hollywood and comics insider Mark Evanier has some more comments and memories about Carson.

TV Tuesday

Week 41: Nick at Night

Nick at Night is celebrating 20 years of giving us "classic" television in the evening. This year's new show is the classic 80s sitcom Murphy Brown. Murph and company join the rotation of such sitcoms The Cosby Show, Family Ties, Happy Days, Laverne and Shirley, The Munsters, Green Acres and many, many more that help introduce new generations to the great comedies of yesteryear.

This week, we take a look at the shows on Nick-at-Night.

1. Of the many shows that run on Nick-at-Night, what is the one that you would most enjoy sitting down and watching a marathon of?

I'd love to watch a marathon of "All in the Family". I think the show is very funny, and while dated it's not as dated as, say, "Maude" or "Mary Tyler Moore" and still 10x funnier than "The Cosby Show" ever could be.

I just remembered "The Dick Van Dyke Show" is occasionally on Nick at Nite. Ok, Rob and Laura Petrie first, then Archie and Edith Bunker.

2. What classic show from yesterday has not made it to Nick-at-Nite yet, but you'd like to see it there?

"Mork and Mindy"! "Alf"! And for a more serious, yet extremely quirky series: where the heck are they hiding all 5 or 6 seasons of "Picket Fences"??? Huh?? C'mon, Nick...pony up.

3. Have repeat on Nick-at-Night given you a new appreciation of an older show? Which one?

"All in the Family" (see below)

4. What show that is currently on the air do you think our kids will be watching in 20 years on Nick-at-Nite?

Probably (gack!) "Everybody Loves Raymond" and "King of Queens" and those other CBS pseudo-sitcoms.

5. What is one show that Nick-at-Nite currently runs that you question if the classic label applies to?

Possibly the two scariest words in the sitcom language: "Full House". And what's scarier is the fact that my son loves that show. L-o-o-o-v-e-s that show.

~ BONUS ~ Are there some shows that don't repeat well in later years because they rely on topical humor? (For example, a lot of the Murphy Brown jokes rely on a knowledge of current events when they were produced) Do you sometimes find yourself getting the jokes that younger generations don't? Do you think this topical humor helps or hurts shows from having a long life in repeats?

Again, probably "All in the Family". I watched it (in reruns) occasionally when I was younger, but a lot of the topical and "adult" humor makes a whole lot more sense now. As far as later generations not understanding - I don't recall a lot of topics on "Maude", etc. that were so date-specific they would simply not be understood. Besides, commentary on Vietnam, Watergate, and civil rights are just as relevant today in other forms as they were before. Plus, seeing how popular entertainment presented those subjects helps us understand that time even better.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

One More for the Road...

I was really hoping Johnny Carson could find a way to come back one more time and entertain us all. Now it will never happen, and his wit and warmth live on only in reruns.

I loved watching the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson and greatly admired the man. He will be sorely missed.

Good night, Johnny.

Friday, January 21, 2005

Ryan out, Wycheck in

Wycheck to join Titans Radio
"Former Titans tight end Frank Wycheck will join the Titans Radio broadcast team of Mike Keith and Larry Stone in 2005"
What happened to Pat Ryan, the former color commentator and for many years a partner to Keith is murky:
Wycheck replaces Pat Ryan, whose contract recently expired.

"[Don MacLachlan, Titans Executive Vice President of Administration and Facilities said,]"As excited as we are to have Frank as part of Titans Radio, he will have big shoes to fill. It took a special person like Frank for us to even consider a move on the broadcast. The team, Mr. Adams, the organization, and Titans Radio owe Pat Ryan a large debt of gratitude for helping us launch the Titans across the mid south. He will always hold a special place in our heart."
Pat Ryan was a huge part of Titans football broadcast, and I've enjoyed listening to he and Mike since they were commenting on UT sports and calling high school games here in Knoxville. Pat, a former UT and New York Jet quarterback, was rarely shy about expressing his opinion of the game and the referees but was rarely if ever rude or unprofessional.

I hope the split was amicable, but something tells me he insulted the wrong person which led to his not being retained. I hope he's able to find another sportscasting job if he wants it, but whatever he does I'll always appreciate his wit and knowledge of the game.

Congratulations, however, to former Titan tight end Frank Wycheck who has always seemed to be a quality guy and a valuable member of the team. I hope he does well, and I'm looking forward to hearing him with Mike Keith this fall.

It's going to be a different year for the Titans in 2005. Ryan gone, Offensive Coordinator Mike Heimerdinger has gone to the Jets, and QB Steve McNair's future is still very up in the air. Should be interesting.

New Email Icon

Go here to make one of these:

Nice little tool - they'll do Yahoo!, GMail, Hotmail and several other email servers.

Thanks for Steph for the tip!

Volunteer Tailgate Party - January 2005

Michael of Big Orange Michael is hosting the latest Volunteer Tailgate Party, a monthly compilation of the best and brightest blatherings of the Rocky Top Brigade.

Friday's Feast

Feast Thirty-Two

Appetizer - What is one quality you really admire about yourself?

My ability to sense and understand other peoples' emotional states. I can usually tell when someone is truly being honest to themselves or me about something important or meaningful, although sometimes it can be difficult to separate me feelings from their own. When someone hurts, I hurt and it's tough to maintain distance when necessary. I call it empathy, I suppose.

Soup - What kind of shampoo and conditioner do you use?

Head and Shoulders, but only when they're out of Knees and Toes.

Salad - Describe your favorite movie scene. You know, the one that just gets to you every time you watch it.
Adult Gertrude Lang: Mr. Holland had a profound influence on my life and on a lot of lives I know. But I have a feeling that he considers a great part of his own life misspent. Rumor had it he was always working on this symphony of his. And this was going to make him famous, rich, probably both. But Mr. Holland isn't rich and he isn't famous, at least not outside of our little town. So it might be easy for him to think himself a failure. But he would be wrong, because I think that he's achieved a success far beyond riches and fame. Look around you. There is not a life in this room that you have not touched, and each of us is a better person because of you. We are your symphony Mr. Holland. We are the melodies and the notes of your opus. We are the music of your life.


(paraphrased) And now, we'd like to invite Mr. Holland to direct the world premiere of "An American Symphony"

(and the band played).

Main Course - If you were a veggie, which one would you be, and why?

I'd be Larry the Cucumber. Actually, I'm more of a Bob the Tomato guy, but Larry's more fun to imitate.

Dessert - If you could take a weekend trip within 100 miles of your current residence, where would you like to go?

To a cabin in the Smoky Mountains, with my wife, for a week. In the fall or spring.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Theatre Thursday

Week 33 - Musicals

We love them, but we'd never admit to watching them.

Oh sure, Chicago won Best Picture a couple of years ago, and everyone loves The Sound of Music, but musicals have occupied a more significant place in our motion picture landscape than most people will be willing to admit.

This week's questions are about the great Movie Musicals. Put on your tap shoes, grab your umbrella, and.....well, what are you waiting for - a cue?

1) What is your favorite Movie Musical of all time? What's the worst you've ever seen?

My favorites are Evita and Beauty and the Beast - I'm not sure, something else may occur to me. My least favorite I ever watched was Brigadoon - what a snoozefest...

2) Which Musical is your guilty pleasure? (i.e. which musical would you never admit to anyone - except 5.2 million internet users - that you know all the words to?)

Please don't anyone disown my blog for this, but I love Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. Now, hear me out. For years I took piano and learned all the classical stuff. In middle school I started listening to what passed for rock and roll at the time (late 70's disco era - I couldn't help when I was born) but had never really gotten into the Beatles. A friend of mine had the soundtrack to the movie, and I listened to it. I loved the music! We rented the video and I watched it over and over. Then I bought a book of sheet music to all the songs - of course, to me, it was just the soundtrack to the movie, but I actually learned to play Beatles songs. That opened up a whole new world of what I could do on the piano (which helped me immensely as time went on) and also started a lifetime appreciation for the artistry of the Fab Four. And the Sgt Pepper movie started it all.

So there. :) Oh, and I just noticed this the other day, if anyone's still looking for late birthday presents!

3) Which actor/actress do you feel made the biggest contribution to Movie Musicals? Which is your favorite?

Julie Andrews, without a doubt. To both.

4) Do you prefer movies with musical numbers that are part of the plot itself, or pop songs that basically act as background for regular scenes?

Definitely Broadway-style musicals, where the music is integral to the plot.

BONUS) Have you ever, in your wildest moments, come into a situation so perfect that it would almost be perfectly normal just to break into song? What would you do if you someone else belting out a heartbreaking ballad or a group of young toughs dancing in the street?

Absolutely. In fact, I believe Life is one big musical number that everyone's just afraid to be seen singing....

"We are the maker of music, and we are the dreamers of dreams"

Beware Squids with Cooties

Jumbo squid wash up on Southern California beaches
Hundreds of giant squid are washing up on Orange County beaches, creating a scene more akin to "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea" than "The O.C."


In the meantime, beachgoers were advised not to eat or even touch them. "They probably have bacteria on them at this point," Bauer said.
Ew. Gross.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

The Beginning?

High emotions at the funeral of the Egyptian family slain in New Jersey.
"Grief and rage erupted Monday during the funeral for an Egyptian Christian couple and their two young daughters who were tied up and stabbed to death last week. Mourners fought in the street, pushing, shoving and punching each other as many blamed Muslims for the killings."
Will these kind of things happen more often, if domestic tensions increase?
"One man inside the church began screaming "Muslim is the killer! Muslim is the killer!" He was dragged from the church by five police officers who hustled him into an unmarked police car and quickly drove off. It could not immediately be determined if he was charged."
But some things still providee glimmers of hope for an ecuminical solution:

"The mourners included about two dozen Muslims who took off their shoes as a sign of respect and placed them near the entrance to the church, just as they do in their mosques.

Ahmed Sheded, president of the Islamic Center of Jersey City, was among those attending. He wore a business suit instead of Muslim religious attire 'because that might agitate people.'

'We feel this is something that was very far away from our community,' he said afterward. 'A real Muslim can't do that. Any religious person who believes in God cannot do this, even to an animal.'"
Sometimes grief can run so high, normal judgement is lost and we don't even know who we're lashing out at:
"Once the bodies were loaded into four black hearses that would carry them to a nearby cemetery, more clashes broke out in the street outside the church, including one in which about 35 people pushed and shoved each other and traded punches. The melee prompted police officers to push several against cars to separate them from the fray as the fight spilled into a parking garage."
Mobs are frightening things.

Hand Me Down My Walkin' Cane....

Go wish Michael a Big Orange Happy Birthday!

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Past is Prologue

Well, I did it. My reversion to my childhood is now complete.

I was doing something in the kitchen, and my hand slipped. I muttered, "Frac", under my breath.

When I was in junior high, I and several of my friends -- sci-fi geeks all -- decided for a while we were going to slip under the cursing radar and use "Battlestar Galactica" curses like 'frac' and 'feldercarb'. Ha, daring rebels, we.

Flash forward 25 years. There's a new "Battlestar Galactica" series, and they're using the same curse words.

And well, I'm doing it again.

What the frac's up with that?

Pack Your Bags, Mom, We're Going to Nashville!

BlogNashville - May 2005

Bloggercon will be held at that time, as well as several other blog-related activities.

You think we can all bunk with Michael and Danielle?

TV Tuesday

Week 40: Jumping the Shark

As TV fans, we hear it all the time--"This show has jumped the shark"

For those of you who might not be aware, there is a web site called The site attempts to find the exact moment when a TV show goes from being really good to being not as good. The Jump the Shark refers to the infamous Happy Days episode where Fonzie jumped over a shark on water skis. After that, it was all downhill for the show. (If you head over to the Jump the Shark web site, you can see a huge database of shows and the moment when fans feel they made the fateful jump.)

Right now, fans are debating if a couple of shows aren't becoming Shark bait. So, this week, we'll take a look at just when good shows go wrong.

1. What is the worst Jump the Shark moment for a show that you've faithfully watched? Did you continue to watch after the show took the jump or did you give up in disgust?

A couple I can think of: Babylon 5 jumped when they introduced Byron and the telepathic hippies in the final season, which killed the momentum they'd built up to for four seasons. M*A*S*H, sadly, jumped the shark when Radar left. The best years of that show, in my opinion, were when you could look in the credits and see Mike Farrell and Larry Linville at the same time. Mad About You jumped when baby Mabel was born (does anyone remember what "MABEL" stood for?). E.R. jumped the shark when Mark (Anthony Edwards) died. In all cases, I continued watching the rest of the series, I believe.

2. Is there a show that you're currently watching that you think has Jumped the Shark? Any show that currently is putting on a life vest and strapping on water skis?

Heh. 24 is hacking into terrorist databases to download waterskiiing tips (unfortunate, but not really unexpected after 3+ years mining what was really a 1 season concept).

3. Is there a show that has never taken the jump?

ALF! Ok, seriously, I guess the series that I watched that remained fairly consistently good (or improved) from the beginning to the end would be Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.

4. Is there a show that got close to jumping but then came back?

The X-Files got about as close to jumping as you can get when David Duchovny lost interest and left, but they were able to craft some decent stories with Dogget (Robert Patrick) and Reyes (Annabeth Gish) joining Scully (Gillian Anderson).

5. What elements do you think most contribute to a show making the jump?

1) Pressure from different sides to get two characters together, finally, after dancing around each other for years. 2) Too many years of original actors leaving and new actors joining. 3) Changing direction to try and attract the new popular demographic. There are other reasons, too...

Monday, January 17, 2005

Public Service Announcement

I treasure my visitors that visit the Inn through Google, having being led through a particular combination of terms in the search engine.

One person today searched for:

"Restaurant in Knoxville beside Riverside Tavern"

That would be either Carabba's, or Outback Steakhouse.

I hope that this helps. Thank you for your time and attention.

Friday, January 14, 2005

Click Away!

Did you visit here via Blogclicker or BlogExplosion?

Leave me a quick comment and say hello. I seem to be getting a good number of referrals, but not a lot of comments... I try to leave comments on blogs I visit, so hopefully this will pick it up a bit.

Even more, leave me a question or two in the comments, and I'll answer when I'm back online. Ask me anything - I'll try my best to answer.

So, welcome!

Author Stephen White

My literary tastes don't run very high, really. I mean, compared to the body of classics that exists out in the world.

For that, go read Sheila.

I've always enjoyed Agatha Christie, and her Belgian detective Hercule Poirot, and if there are any of his stories still left that I haven't read, I'd love to find them. Her mysteries are spotless examples of plotting and characterization, misdirection and elegant suspense.

But I've recently become enamored with a different kind of mystery genre - psychological thrillers. In particular, I've come to devour anything by Robert Block and Stephen White that I can find.

Lawrence Block, author of the Bernie Rhodenbarr "Burglar" series I'll talk about another time, but Stephen White has created a character that is fascinating. Boulder, CO psycologist Alan Gregory.

As you can see to the right (at least for the time being) I'm reading "Warning Signs," which White wrote a couple of years ago. I came into the Alan Gregory series in the middle, checking out an audiobook copy of "Cold Case" from the library a year or so ago. Since with a single-author series, things happen to characters over the span of time that make it difficult to jump around from book to book. Events are referred to that I haven't read about, and recurring characters live and die from story to story, so I always like to read a series from the beginning. After I finished "Cold Case", I went back to his first book, "Privileged Information" and started from there.

Anyway, I can't say enough about White and his Alan Gregory series. Having read some Koontz, Robin Cook and even Michael Crichton lately, they can't hold a candle to White in terms of literary style, plotting, characterization... Gregory becomes involved in cases through his patients, in addition to his Assistant D.A. wife (well, girlfriend in the first couple of books). The books are in first person, inside Gregory's head, and we see him struggle with professional ethics and solving crimes from an outsider's perspective.

If you have a chance to pick up one of the books, I'd highly recommend them.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Young at Heart

You Are 26 Years Old


Under 12: You are a kid at heart. You still have an optimistic life view - and you look at the world with awe.

13-19: You are a teenager at heart. You question authority and are still trying to find your place in this world.

20-29: You are a twentysomething at heart. You feel excited about what's to come... love, work, and new experiences.

30-39: You are a thirtysomething at heart. You've had a taste of success and true love, but you want more!

40+: You are a mature adult. You've been through most of the ups and downs of life already. Now you get to sit back and relax.

Friday's Feast

Feast Thirty-One

Appetizer - If you could have a free subscription to any online service, which would you like to have?

Probably one of the more extensive Fantasy sports sites, the one that will tell me things I can use, instead of recommending me not to play Willis McGahee of the Bills the week he was coming back from an injury, when he subsequently tuned up the opposition for about 150 years and 2 TD's

Soup - Describe your bathroom (furnishings, colors, etc.).

We have three in our home, mine and my wife's, the kids, and the downstairs which is really the nighttime home for Ramona the dog. Do they have particular colors? I'm a guy. How should I know?

Salad - What does the shape of a triangle make you think of?

The first thing I should say is a trinity, but in reality it makes me think of a metal orchestral Triangle.

Main Course - Name 3 things or activities that you consider to be luxuries.

1. Cruising (on a cruise ship, not like up and down some college street in a car)
2. Getting a massage (paid)
3. Traveling to Europe or Africa for a vacation

Dessert - What was the last really great movie you watched?

Probably "The Incredibles". My wife would say "The Polar Express" but I wasn't as enamored of it as she was. My kids would probably say, "Spongebob"

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Fun at Traffic Court

I didn't see John Laroquette, and there was no sign of Markie Post anywhere. There were several Bull-like gentlemen in uniform, however.

I went to Knox County Traffic Court today to clear up my expired registration situation from last month.

God help our judicial system.

First I was told the courtoom I needed to go to was in the City/County Building, a behemoth downtown with all kinds of security. I emptied my pocketses for the metal detector, passed through fine and then was told the courtroom I needed to be in was in the Old Courthouse next door.


I go next door, holding the elevator for a lady ladened to the teeth with crates, boxes, papers and a bag of cheetos. Up to the third floor to Fourth Sessions Court. The area outside the courtroom was full of people waiting for the court to open at 9am. Finally the lights turn on, the door opens and we all file in.

The courtroom is smaller than I'd anticipated, and filled with what look like old church pews. In comes Cheeto lady, who turns out to be the prosecutor for Traffic Good thing I was nice to her in the hall... She tells everyone to have a seat and wait for their name to be called, and..oh, all those awaiting arraignment should wait outside until 10am. Behind her sits the judge for the session, and a myriad of other clerks, barristers and guards wander in and out.

Not me. I sit and cool my heels for a while. She works through the docket, calling name after name alphabetically. One unlucky fellow in the seats is yelled at by the judge after his cell phone goes off. I hurriedly mute mine before it's confiscated.

Most people who are called have their offenses taken care of, but some do go before the judge, well, judgement. Another unlucky guy was chastised greatly by the judge for going 112 in a 70 mph zone - he was cited for reckless driving as well as speeding, had his license suspended and was put on 6-month probation. A young woman gave a sob story about not complying with a 90-day mandated appointment with driving school, because "they hadn't returned her phone calls" when trying to schedule the class. The judge would have none of it, and off she went. Still another unlucky lady with two little kids was barked at by the judge because the older child's toy was making too much noise. Geez, back off yeronner...

Finally, CheetoProsecutor - who seemed to be very nice, but harried - breezed through to the end of the alphabet, but skipped my name. "Oh crap" I said nicely, to myself, and got up to inquire. After waiting in line a few seconds, I spoke to the nice lady and was told she was just about to ask for people's names who weren't called. I showed her the citation, and she seemed concerned that my wife - whose name was actually on the citation, although she was driving my car - was not here personally to contest or allow the ticket. I explained that she had been told by the officer that all I would have to do was show proof the registration had been updated and paid (which it now had been), and that would be the end of that. She handed the citation over to a clerk and asked me to take a seat, while they searched for the records.

So I sat.

Finally I was called back up, and stood before the judge.

I considered throwing myself bodily down on the floor, screaming and begging for the mercy of the court. I considered pointing a finger at the nearest lawyer, crying "I OBJECT! ARGUMENTATIVE! MOVE TO STRIKE!" I however, did none of those things but instead smiled politely as the judge told me that since I had paid the registration, it was dismissed but I'd still need to pay Court Costs. And to step outside till my name was called.

Court Costs?

The mysterious catch-all of fines...I think each evening someone in County Finance office looks at the days receipts, compares them to what's remaining in the year's budget and comes to an estimate of how much the courts need to make the next day. That number is divided by the number of cases, and the result is what each person has to pay in "Court Costs".

This figure, of course, includes the continuing amount of money we waste each year defending Shurf Hutchinson against all his various lawsuits, but that's another story.

Anyhoo, I step outside with the rest of the mass of humanity. Presently, a nice young man who was probably 2 when I graduated from high school directs all us unlucky Court Cost payers to follow him. We exit the third floor, exit the building, and walk over to...

You guessed it. The City/County Building, where I'd started out in the first place.

I go through security again - this time, however, the metal detector has had time to think about me since the first time I went through, and my belt buckle is deemed an Imminent Security Breach. I'm "wanded". Oh, my dignity.

I head down to the clerk's desk and pay the Court Costs. I swell with pride at fulfilling my civic duty to pay (apparently) half the total annual budget of the government of Guam, and finally leave the building.

I check my watch - it's only been just over an hour. Seems like I'd been in Traffic Court for the better part of the winter.

I had considered taking the rest of the day off from work, but since starving people in the Pacific Rim have to eat, I decide to go back to work. I vow never to have another lapsed registration, moving violation, parking ticket, noise citation or

How this story should've ended, for maximum ironic and comedic effect

The drive back to work from downtown usually takes about 20 minutes down Alcoa Highway, but today it took 25. Why?

I got a speeding ticket.


But that's not what happened. I guess thank goodness for me, too bad for the literary world.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

TV Tuesday

Week 39: The King

Last Saturday would have been the 70th birthday of the King of Rock and Roll, Elvis Presley. Fans from across the world gathered in Memphis at Graceland to celebrate the birth of the King of Rock and Roll. But Elvis was more than just the king of the musical world. He made tried to be the king of all media with appearances on TV, his movies, etc. This week, we take a look at the King of Rock and Roll.

1. Did you watch any of the Elvis movie marathons, celebrations or retrospectives on various channels over the weekend?

Who's Elvis?

2. Do you have a favorite Elvis movie? If so, which one?

Can't say I've ever seen an Elvis movie.

3. Elvis's appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show caused quite a bit of controversy and had the censors worried about his dancing. Looking back, it's nothing compared to what the censors allow on TV today. What is the most outrageous thing you've seen on TV recently?

That shows like "Finding my Deadbeat Dad" (or whatever it was called) and "The Will" still even ever get greenlit, much less produced, aired and (apparently) watched.

~ BONUS ~ Elvis's appearance on the Ed Sullivan show was a huge deal. If you were old enough to have actually seen Elvis when he appeared on the show, did you watch? What'd you think at the time? Share any memories you might have related to the event. What is your favorite Elvis TV moment or special?

Sorry - wasn't around.

Monday, January 10, 2005

Back Atcha

Today is Teresa's (Hatamaran's) Birthday. She gave me birthday kudos last week, so I'm returning the favor.

Happy Birthday, Teep!

Sunday, January 09, 2005

Second Bloggiversary 2004 Year-In-Review

Two years ago, I started my blog and the Inn of the Last Home was born. One year ago I published a list of what I felt were my more noteworthy posts of 2003.

So in the spirit of all that's newsworthy and pithy, I'm opening up the log books of the Inn of the Last Home for 2004. Enjoy.


Encourage, Not Discourage - Should schools post honor rolls? Should they even give out grades?


Who Am I? - On blog anonymity and credibility. Or lack thereof.
What to Write, What to Write... - This one I was particularly proud of, and got linked to more than anything else I've done, I believe. In this entry I publicly thrash out my internal political turmoil.


Free Will - Whose side is God on, anyway? Let's talk about it...
What A Pal - You know, I wrote this post about Neil Simon being donated a kidney - and now I have no idea what the joke I put at the end means...
For The Living - I attend the funeral of a friend's brother, and my discussion on what funerals are really about.
Conversations I - 1st of this years discussions with GiggleGirl/Tink
Word - A rare and puzzling exchange with BrainyBoy (v8). Yo.
My Reply - Oh, Bubba, Bubba, Bubba. This may be a little confusing out of context, but hey...what blog entry isn't? But then, SKB's a little confusing in context anyway...


Pollenteer Talegait Harty - Glurp the Gully Dwarf whomps me over the head with a dead rat on April Fool's Day and hijacks the Volunteer Tailgate Party. Hilarity ensues.
All Keyed Up - I'm a witness to a crime.
Please, Make It Stop! - "KISS YOUR SUBSCRIPTION GOODBYE!" I'm told, in no uncertain terms. Not.
Conversations: Saved by the Bell - More baby talk with GiggleGirl/Tink


Hmm. May was a bit barren. Must've had my mind on other things. Well, there's a couple of Willy Wonka posts if you must read something...


Time Passes - My thoughts on the death of an old classmate.
AdventureCon - A family's adventures in the wild, untamed world of sci-fi and comics conventions...
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban: My Thoughts - Er, just what it says.
A Tragedy of Errors? - Six Unforgivable Mistakes on 9/11 caused by lack of communication.


Nothing. Zilch. Zero. Noodle Nada. Our trip to Hilton Head sucked the creative juices out of me. Keep moving...


SPOON: The Continuing Crisis - Day 4 - Be afraid of mysterious utensils. Be very afraid of mysterious utensils.
GoldenBoySchlagerGateUpdate - My favorite post title of all time. Something about a local political goof-off throwing his weight around. It was more interesting at the time, but I still just love the title.
GiggleGirl and friend at Hilton Head - Just a picture. But I love this one.
My 20th High School Reunion:
      What's Old is New Again (Part 1 - Prep)
      What's Old is New Again (Part 2 - Friday)
      What's Old is New Again (Part 3 - Saturday)


My New Obsession - I drool over The West Wing.
Rudeness - "PROFANITY! This is utter PROFANITY PROFANITY. This is the worst kind of PROFANITY mess I've ever seen!" No, I didn't say it. But I have something to say about it...
From the Dark To The Light - I may have been a little harsh on this one, but I can't stand cowards.
One Shining Moment - On the cusp of heaven with GiggleGirl/Tink.
Pet Peeve of the Day - B my name is Barry, dammit. B-a-r-r-y. Got it??? GOT IT???
Conversations III - Who's the parent here? I forget...


Curing the Lame - An unpopular opinion on a popular subject, apparently. Of course Christopher Reeve might've been able to walk again someday - why not??
Blogger Laws - This one got some linkagery, too. Please, if you read this post - add some more!




Tomorrow is Just 24 Hours Away... - This started as just a post about the 1st Season set of the show "24" but it evolved into something way, way deeper.
The Working Life: Part 1 and Part 2 - So, what do you do at work anyway?

That's 2004 for you. Sometimes I was deep, sometimes I was just silly. I had fun, hope you did too. Have a great 2005!

UPDATE: In other bloggiversary news, Logtar is one and Ms Zoot is one, also.

Friday, January 07, 2005

Would You Please Just Go Away!!!

Atheist Sues to Thwart Inauguration Prayer
"An atheist who sued because he did not want his young daughter exposed to the words "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance has filed a suit to bar the saying of a prayer at President Bush's inauguration."


One of the reasons I don't do a lot of punditry posting (other than the fact I really don't know anything about anything) is that I believe assertions you make about particular subjects should be supported by tangible proof and supportable evidence.

Go anywhere you like on the web, blogs or not, and you'll see wildly unsubstantiated "facts" and stories about everything under the sun. What's worse, once everyone starts repeating the stories they become pseudo-facts - "facts" that become self-proven, simply because all your friends have said them over and over, so they must be true.

Don Williams is a columnist with the
Knoxville News Sentinel. In the past few years, he's concentrated almost solely on repudiating the Bush Adminisration's policies and actions. And that's fine...ever administration should have its feet held to the fire. Bush included, especially now that he's a lame duck president.

But his latest column, Words to the wise for Democrats, highlights some of the continuing flaws in our information and opinion-sharing process - the lack of real supporting evidence to back up your opinions, and the reliance on "conventional wisdom" or "common knowledge" as a substitute.
'Polls show that a majority of those who voted for George W. Bush in 2004 really believed Saddam Hussein had something to do with the horrors of 9/11 and that Iraq had strong ties to al-Qaida. A similar percentage said the United States found stockpiles of chemical or nuclear weapons in Iraq. You and I know these things are not true, but lots of Fox News viewers in particular believed they happened.
What polls, Don? Can you tell me? Can anyone tell me? How difficult would it have been to say something like, "A December 2004 Pew Opinion Poll showed that a majority of those...." or "A November 2004 MSNBC poll said the United States found stockpiles..."?

Maybe such polls exist, maybe they don't. Maybe Don was told they did, and he reported the fact - he may have been told by someone whose integrity he trusted. Maybe that person read a story in a publication he trusted. But unless the actual poll is presented along with the opinion, how far can the trust go? Especially when any link in the chain may have more than the most pure of journalistic intentions at heart. Continuing:
'Religious indoctrination is about as depressing. Journalist Bill Moyers noted in December that the best selling books in recent history are the "Left Behind" series by Timothy LaHaye - adventure yarns about the rapture and other manifestations of the so-called end of days - based on iffy interpretations of scripture. Millions of Bush supporters believe Jesus is returning within a generation.'
Here Don did provide a source for his assertion regarding the "Left Behind" series. An assertion I believe, as well. But how does he actually know "millions of Bush supporters believe Jesus is returning in a generation"? What poll or study was that found?

Again, maybe just such a poll exists - if it does, it would greatly boost his credibility among those who might not agree with him.

But mostly it sounds like what's typically bandied about in ultra-liberal blogs and websites - opinions that, when tossed around so much, take on a factual basis of their own, based on their listeners' desire to believe them.

Here's more with a local spin:
'There's reason to believe that millions of fundamentalists - including many in East Tennessee - embrace similar positions. That's a big problem. If I believed the end was near, if I believed Saddam Hussein had something to do with 9/11, I might've voted for Bush, too.'
Huh? What makes you think that "millions" of fundamentalists hold similar positions? Word of mouth? Conventional Wisdom? It's one thing to cite CW when you say something like, "Millions of fundamentalists - including many in East Tennessee - believe every word of the Bible is the literal truth". There you're deriving applesauce from apples. The effect is a product of a directly related cause. But when you equate "fundamentalists" to "hyper-confidence in the divine mission of Bush" to "belief the rapture's coming soon, so let's believe anything he says about Saddam" is as big a leap - WITHOUT tangible support - as trying to assert they all believe the moon's made of green cheese.

And it's not just on the liberal side. It's a universal problem that's perpetrated by columnists and pundits and bloggers and radio talk show hosts of every political stripe - the more you say that something is a fact, the more people believe it's a fact, and the more it becomes Conventional Wisdom. When you have millions of listeners or readers, it becomes a handy tool. It's worked well for Rush Limbaugh for 15 years or more.

Finally, I realize it's difficult to get past these things. I believe, yes, that Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed and walked on the moon in 1969 - it's been part of my upbringing for 35 years. I've seen the videos, heard the stories, read the textbooks. But how do I really know? Have I seen and analyzed the telemetry data myself? Have I interviewed the men of Apollo 13 myself? No, of course not. But I still believe it - because after 35 years (current conspiracy theorists notwithstanding) I accept it as a wonderful part of human history and would be foolish to disbelieve it.

But 35 years from now, unless we're happy that some of the current Conventional Wisdom arguments will still be around and regarded as "fact", we need to be prepared to demand proof and support for our media's assertions. And not rest until it's provided, willingly.

Because there's your doublespeak. Accepted willingly.

Friday's Feast

Appetizer - Have you been sick yet this winter? If so, what did you come down with?

Amazingly enough, no, not yet at least. Nobody in our family's had anything worse than a little cold lately. Knock on wood.

Soup - What colors dominate your closet?

Browns, earth tones. I'd like more color but can never seem to buy any.

Salad - How would you describe your personal "comfort zone"?

My comfort zone is laying on the couch, watching TV, reading a book and eating a bag of microwave popcorn.

Main Course - On which reality show would you really like to be a contestant?

God, I hate reality shows. But if I had to answer one, I guess The Apprentice. I think I could plan and organize rings around those people, even though I have no real business sense. And I know I could deal with other people better.

Dessert - Which holiday would you consider to be your favorite?


Thursday, January 06, 2005


Several weeks ago on "The West Wing":
[There are reports surfacing an asteroid might hit the Earth]

'[White House Aide] Charlie is wondering whether the asteroid "is gonna kill us like it killed the dinosaurs." Well, Charlie, I really don't think it's the same asteroid. Because that one, you know, crashed into the earth and everything. [Deputy Chief of Staff] Josh thinks that the asteroid will miss the earth entirely, but Charlie still wants to know what might happen:

"Likelihood is, it hits an ocean, starts a tsunami, and, you know, surf's up, in Illinois."


[President Jed Bartlett] is sitting in his bed with a map of the world spread out in his lap. Jed is explaining that 70 to 80% of the people on the west coast will be killed by the tsunami that would result if the asteroid were to hit the Pacific Ocean.'


Almost as creepy as the premiere episode of Lone Gunmen depicting a runaway jet almost crashing into the World Trade Center.

The episode aired in August, 2001.

I'm keeping one eye on the TV. Or maybe not...

In the Works, Short Hits, and Googlewacking

  • I've got something special brewing for my second blogiverary, coming next Monday the ninth, so be sure to tune in.

  • Maybe it's just me, but seeing the world respond to the tsunami victims makes me a bit nervous, as if it's a practice run for some other global catastrophe. I don't know, just my nerves talking.

  • 60 degrees in January just ain't right. But I'll take it.

  • The fact the Amber Frey has a book out and I do not points out a fundamental flaw in the universe. That and the fact that I can't write.

  • Apparently Googlewacking is "all the rage" with the kids these days. The premise is you find two English, non proper-name words, enter them into Google and try to come up with only one hit on the combination. For instance, "triskadeskaphobia" and "screaming" return only one hit (at this writing). You then go to and submit your two words to something called the "Whack Stack" (no, I don't know what it is, either). Anyway, it seems to be a great party game and several of my co-workers have abandoned all pretenses of work to play.

    It's pretty easy to cheat, though. For instance, in the above example I just entered "triskadeskaphobia" (which, incidentally, is fear of the number "13"), then scanned the 50-odd resulting hits for a term in the summary that looked odd. In one of them I found "screaming", entered it as the companion search term, and voila!

  • Wednesday, January 05, 2005

    TV Tuesday

    Week 38: Looking forward, looking back.

    Welcome to the first TV Tuesday of 2005! It's that special time of year--when we look back at the year that was and look forward to the year that will be. A lot of people make resolutions too. So, this week, we're gonna have a bit of looking forward and bit of looking back...

    1. Did you watch more or less TV during the holidays? Did you sample any new shows in repeats or watch reruns of your favorites to catch-up?

    My Quest continued to catch up on 5 seasons of The West Wing. Other than watching the prerequisite holiday specials and football, not much.

    2. Did you get any TV on DVD as a gift during the holiday season?

    Yep, HR Pufnstuf and my kids love it as much as I did.

    3. Which do you like more--watching the ball drop in NYC or all the college football bowl games?

    Bowl games.

    4. Looking forward--are there any mid-season replacements shows or any returning shows your anxious to see?

    The Jack Bauer Power Hour, baby. That and the new Battlestar Galactica. I'm also interested in NBC's new Medium show, but I missed the first episode. And of course, The Dead Zone, whenever they decide to start it up again...

    (Note: without looking, I have a feeling the above answer is identical to Michael's)

    ~ BONUS ~ If you watched Dick Clark's Rocking New Year's Eve (hosted by Regis), rate this year's event without Mr. Clark. Was it good, bad? Just OK? Did you miss Dick Clark or was Regis enough for you?

    We had 13 people over to our house New Year's Eve, and didn't turn on the TV coverage until about 11:40. I saw Regis a couple of times, and I thought he did fine - I'm surprised to find I didn't miss Dick Clark, but that probably means he didn't really matter that much to me on New Year's Eve in the first place...

    Monday, January 03, 2005

    Next I'll Be Seeing Rhinos...

    Growing up in the East Tennessee foothills, I hear many strange stories and superstitions. There are tales about strange animals that lurk in the woods and the mountains. Skunk apes roam the hills, giant bears reportedly kill and eat stray all adds up to a rolling mythos of legends and myths.

    One of the greatest myths is that of the live possum. Nobody really ever sees a live possum very often, they're mostly squashed in the middle of the road. But when I opened my front door this morning to go get my newspaper, there he was.

    Hobbling across my path, down by the garage doors and around the side of the house.

    The kids scurried out to see, for they had likely never seen a live one before either.

    We all counted ourselves fortunate to have glimpsed such a rare find, but I happened to think later... what omen does it portend when a possum crosses your path. In the fog. On the first Monday of a new year.

    I'll probably regret not running back to bed, but I for one am going to be keeping a sharp eye out for falling safes today.

    Sunday, January 02, 2005

    The Best New Year's Ever

    Thursday: Birthday dinner with family, parents and in-laws at Conners in Turkey Creek. Back home for presents and cake.

    Friday: Took BrainyBoy and Tink to the SpongeBob Movie, then welcomed 6 adults, 2 teens and 5 kids into our house for a Sumptious Buffet (tm) and New Years Eve festivities. Played "Cranium" and a new game called "This..." "Things...", and we all rang in the New Year on time.

    Saturday: Slept till 10, watched the Vols trounce Texas A&M in the Cotton Bowl, ate leftovers from the Sumptuous Buffet (tm), played board games with my kids, and stayed in my pajamas all day long.

    It was the Best New Year's Ever.

    Saturday, January 01, 2005

    Friday's Feast

    *I usually don't "theme" the questions here, but decided to do it this week in honor of 2004. Happy New Year 2005 to all of you! Come back next week to see the fancy new look!*

    Using only 5 words, describe how 2004 went for you.

    Vacationed too much...who cares?

    Name something you did in 2004 that you'll probably never do again.

    Worked out of state on a theatre-related job. I have a feeling, although they say they'd like me back again, that my 2-week stint in Florida as Music Director for a show was a one-time thing.

    What did you learn about yourself in 2004?

    That I'm not perfect.

    Main Course
    What notable news event from 2004 will stand out most in your memory?

    Probably the election, since almost all the news coverage was related to it in some way.

    Name something you purchased in 2004 that you really, really like.

    My Star Wars Trilogy DVD.