Monday, May 30, 2005

An Evening at the Cookout

My family never really did anything in particular for Memorial Day, so it's always a treat to participate in an old-fashioned family cookout. The four of us plus two other families of four. Our hosts for this event have a 3-yr-old and a just-barely-1-yr-old, who each provide their own brand of entertainment. The other family have two boys close to BrainyBoy v9.2's age, so he was quite happy.

Lots of ribs, lots of bread, lots of ice cream, watermelon and iced tea. Good weather, good conversation, and good friends are what our country is about.

One very funny thing - we make jokes on occasion about Tink one day hooking up with one of the boys in our church. Boys her or BrainyBoy's age or thereabouts... Well, at the end of the evening all of us were gathered in the living room, chatting. Tink and the second couples' younger son (who is around 8) were the only ones not there, for they were in the backyard playing. Every so often the boy's mom would go and check on them, and they were always fine. As we were leaving, I asked Tink what she and he were doing back there (wink wink, nudge nudge)... quite deadpan, she answered that they were playing "husband and wife".

I blinked a couple of times..

She then added, confidentially, "but we didn't have any babies.."

Good to hear, my little five-year-old...good to hear.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

A Day in the Mountains

If you live in East Tennessee, there's nothing like spending a day in the mountains. Whether you hike, sail, fish, swim or just explore the Cades Cove loop like we did today, you come out with a cleansed soul and a cleared head.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Friday's Feast

Feast Forty-Nine

Appetizer - What job would you definitely not want to have?

I definitely would not want a job where I was one of those faceless, nameless minions crunching numbers for a living. Doing something that required intense concentration but no real creativity would suck the juices out of me like a mosquito at an overturned Bloodmobile..

Soup - Oprah calls and wants you to appear on her show. What would that day's show be about?

"Today on The Oprah Winfrey Show: Meet the man who was voted the World's Best Husband! He's the envy of women everywhere because of his unflagging devotion to wife, children and even his little cats and dog. Attentive to needs, emotionally available - he's always ready to still give the five-year-old rides on his back, discuss obscure details of Star Wars with the 9-year-old, and still mows the whole yard and takes out the trash...every week!"

Well, a guy can dream, can't he?

Salad - Name 3 vegetables that you eat on a regular basis.

Talk about changing gears...

Ok, green beans, cucumbers, and carrots.

Main Course - If you were commissioned to rename your hometown, what would you call it?

Hm. Knoxville was named after President Washington's War Secretary, Henry Knox, so I suppose something more up to date is in order. Until 4-term mayor Victor Ashe finally left office a couple years ago, he probably would've eventually renamed it Asheville (but that was already taken). I'm going to say, due to our close proximity to the Smoky Mountains and the Tennessee Volunteers - Rocky Top, Tennessee.

Dessert - If you had a personal assistant, what kind of tasks would you have them to do?

Wow. For free? Are you applying? Honestly I can't think of much I would need done by a personal assistant, professionally or personally. I guess the most help a personal assistant could be to me would be as a short-term memory repository and motivator. Someone who could keep those little details in their heads that I always tend to forget (meetings I miss, web page changes I keep forgetting to make) and also make sure I DO things I keep putting off, like starting on new projects or moving forward on old ones.

Bloggers In Love

Congratulations to Michael Williams of Master of None, who just announced he's engaged to somebody named DeoDuce of The Daily Spork.

Well, good on ya, Michael...but personally I wouldn't have anything to do with someone who thinks this way about Star Wars... A guy has to have his standards, you know...

Poppin' em out...

Right now, three of my regular blogger friends are preggers.

Misty Razberi of Seductive Kisses (which shows how Blog titles can sometimes lead to bigger and greater things...) She's due in a couple months.

MissZoot, perpetually trapped in Bamaland, is going to have a baby whether she believes it or not. So just hush, girl. She's also due in a few months.

However, Easter Egg poster child Cathy of Domestic Psychology....well, this young Knoxville blogger may be on the way to something new as we speak. Details (and other things) forthcoming...

Good luck to the Next Generation of bloggers!

UPDATE: Looks like it's official, Cathy's headed to the hospital. I guess we'll have a Baby Psychology pretty soon... That is, if she and her husband don't kill each other first....:)

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Since There's No Way I Can Let Michael Outdo Me...

All this week, Big Orange Michael has been publishing his favorite swimsuit photos.

Well, in the spirit of fairplay and spreading around the goodwill, here's this weeks Metro Pulse cover:

Go Ahead, Argue With Me....

The two greatest songs of the 20th Century are:

"Somewhere Over the Rainbow"

"When You Wish Upon a Star"

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

So Long, Foolish Mortal...

Thurl Ravenscroft has died, and that's sad.

Most of you have no idea who Thurl Ravenscroft is, but everyone has heard him. He was the voice of Tony the Tiger, primarily, but he did voice-over work for commercials and animation for years. He also sang the great "You're A Mean One, Mr. Grinch" for The Grinch Who Stole Christmas.

He also did a lot of work for Walt Disney, and was one of many voices scattered throughout the theme parks. My favorite is him as one of the busts singing "Grim Grinning Ghosts" in The Haunted Mansion...

A couple of sites have tributes:

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

More Sithian Thoughts...

(Now that's an ominous title)

Here are some 4-days-out thoughts on "Revenge of the Sith", especially in light of some comments and discussion around the internet that I've been reading....

  • For those who are confused about a certain key scene in "Return of the Jedi": Luke asks Leia if she remembers her mother...her real mother. Leia replies that all she remembers are images, feelings. She remembers her being beautiful, but..sad. Or words to that effect.

    I'm going to take as a given that before this point, Leia knows she was adopted by Bail Organa and his wife. Somewhere along the line, they told her some things about her real mother, Padme. Maybe they even had pictures? And somewhere between when she first met Luke and the scene in Jedi, she told Luke she was adopted. Luke knew this, which is one reason he figures out she's his sister so quickly.

    Now, how she can "remember" her mother, since Padme died only a few minutes after childbirth - I've heard it speculated that perhaps while Leia may not be as strong in the physical aspects of the force as Luke is, her talents may lie more in the spiritual/mental aspects, such as telepathy, divination, that sort of thing. Indeed, the first spark we see is when Luke's hanging from the bottom of Cloud City in "Empire" and reaches out to her with his mind. Leia, not even having any training, hears Luke and is able to find him. So to me, there are no discrepancies or contradictions brought about in the new movie as regards that scene.

    Now, where she came up with the names "Luke" and "Leia" on the fly, on her deathbed, is another mystery for another day. Maybe they were the names of her two Naboo bunnies she had when she was a kid...

  • By the way - those of you melonheads out there who are still unclear....Darth Sidious = Chancellor/Emperor Palpatine ;)

  • The more I think about it, the more frustrating it becomes: the fact that Obi-Wan (I believe) had the power to either rescue Anakin from the brink of the lava, or to go ahead and finish him off outright.

    I need to see the movie again to remember the particulars, but I recall Anakin is lying on the edge of the "sea", Obi-Wan up the hill above him. Ani tries to claw his way out...hurling invectives all the time - Obi-Wan angsts himself as well, but it's obvious Anakin is helpless. Ironically, Obi is presented the same dilemma Palpatine created early in the movie for Anakin: Should he bring Count Dooku back for trial, or kill him now because he's too great a danger? Anakin chooses to kill Dooku, Palpatine congratulates him for it, and the young Jedi's first step to the Dark Side in this movie has occured. Same for Obi - do I rescue friend, my brother, and risk him betraying me and the Jedi again? Or do I leave him to die, knowing how dangerous he's become. Obi waits, hesitates, torn between his loyalty and his duty. Even the waiting denies Anakin a merciful death - a saber stab to the heart would've ended his misery and pain right there. But Obi-wan waits, and lets the lava decide for him. Anakin ignites and is consumed in the flame.

What is Your World View?

You scored as Cultural Creative. Cultural Creatives are probably the newest group to enter this realm. You are a modern thinker who tends to shy away from organized religion but still feels as if there is something greater than ourselves. You are very spiritual, even if you are not religious. Life has a meaning outside of the rational.

Cultural Creative
















What is Your World View? (corrected...hopefully)
created with

Note to Everyone

I haven't yet watched the 2-hour season finale to 24. First one who spoils it for me gets tied to a chair and tortured for an hour.

Monday, May 23, 2005

A Man's Gotta Do..

There are some things in life that one feels must be done. And there are also some things in life one feels must be done by himself (or herself) alone.

When that voice calls to you, you should listen to it.

I had to do something last night, actually I was one of a group of people that had to do something. We had to tell someone, someone that we loved, that their services were no longer required.

For weeks, we'd been putting it off. "It wasn't the right time", or "we need to wait until after this such-and-such has happened first."

Well last night - no more excuses, no more delays. It was time.

But who to break the bad news?

Any one of the three of us...but I felt it had to be me, for some reason. There were a myriad of reasons, but I felt it had to be me.

So I did. I could barely look the person in the eye, but I did it anyway. I was straight, direct and to the point. I laid out our concerns, our reasoning and our conclusion.

It seemed to be taken well, but I know it was really not. I'm nervous about getting back in contact with them again in the next couple days on other matters. But I can handle it.

We can handle it.

It's the way it has to be.

Addiction sucks.

3 Things - Redux

Julie challenged me to do the "3 Things" meme, but hey! I did it already a few months ago. So, just for her, here it is...

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Star Wars III: Revenge of the Sith

Preliminary Grade: A-

Short Take: This is it. This is what the franchise fans have been waiting for -- an episode that takes no prisoners...

I'm not going to do a full review - there are plenty of people on the web more eloquent than I that have handled that - but I will just offer some brief observances, thoughts, questions and conclusion.

First of all - I loved it. It was a much more engaging story than the other 2 prequels, there was (obviously) a lot more at stake, and you got the feeling that the ground was tipping and things were running down a very steep slope to the inevitable end.

That said, I did think the first half or so of the movie - while necessary - did seem to drag a bit, and they seemed to take an inordinately long amount of time on the Hole-in-the-Ground planet with Obi-Wan. Screen time was absolutely necessary for Anakin and Padme to show the continuing evolution of their relationship, and of course Anakin and Palpatine and their journey down the dark side of the Force.

General Greivous turned out to be mostly a wimp, although he did spin a mean saber. His character in the animated Clone Wars series was much more effective than in the movie, but maybe he was just a little tired - especially since he appeared to have a bad case of emphysema (more of that later). Several people mentioned to me they thought it unrealistic Obi-Wan with one lightsaber could've defeated a cyborg with four lightsabers. I say it's simple - Greivous wasn't a Force-user, and that's what evened up the odds. You can be a fabulous swordsman, have four arms and robotic reflexes, but resisting the organic and spiritual Force was futile (sorry).

I thought Anakin's progressive (regressive?) steps over the line, and the resulting, reflezive "What have I done???"'s were great. I think a lot of us expected him to hurtle down the dark path and not look back...but he cursed himself many times. The first time was when he killed the sandpeople in Episode II - he was very remorseful for having to do it but was more angry at himself that he was too late and too weak to save his mother in time. In similar ways in "Sith" his anger and fear take control, he takes a giant step by attacking Mace Windu - agonizes that he did it - then falls once again under Palpatine's influence who convinces the still naive and pliable Anakin that it was necessary. And the journey continues.

Ok, more salient quotes and notes:

  • I had heard there would be a scene were Anakin attacks and kills the youngling Jedis-in-training, and that it would be gruesome. I was concerned it might be disturbing to BrainyBoy and had warned him about it ahead of time. When the time came, the attack was actually shown offscreen. Anakin walks into the room where the kids are hiding - one comes out and asks for his help, he ignites his saber...cut away. Later Yoda and Obi-Wan come upon the already dead children. It wasn't nearly as gruesome as I'd feared...but as it turns out it you could hardly see a mark on the kids lying on the ground. No saber burns, no slashes - how did they die? Did he choke them? Looks like Lucas decided not to show anything, which kind of diluted the effect somewhat.

  • Speaking of the younglings, the little kid who jumps out of nowhere to buy time for Bail Organa to escape - have we seen him before? Was he hiding out during Anakin's slaughter? Did he escape? (I wonder if it was Whie from the novel "Yoda: Dark Rendesvous" which takes place a few months before "Sith" begins) As it stands, it seems like the scene was written for a kid who won a "Win a Small Part in the New Star Wars Movie" contest... Or maybe that was Lucas' son...

  • Maybe I know nothing of anatomy, but is it customary even on Earth to bury a woman who has died while pregnant - especially very pregnant - while still with the baby(s) in her belly? Wouldn't it be standard medical and family procedure to go ahead and deliver the baby(s), confirm it/they too are dead, then bury them all separately? Obviously the reason Padme was disguised to appear as if she was still pregnant was to ensure Anakin and Palpatine never got suspicious the children were actually born, but still...?

  • Ok, Threepio had his memory wiped. We knew it was inevitable, but what about Artoo? Just because he doesn't actually speak English doesn't mean he doesn't have the whole experience in his memory? He was there for as much as Threepio was. I actually long suspected Artoo knew full well who Anakin/Darth, Luke, Ben and Leia were throughout the Original Trilogy, and this confirms it :)

  • Did you catch Obi-Wan picking up Anakin's lightsaber after the final battle and taking it with him? Something told him he had to give it to someone, for some reason, in about 18 years or so....

  • Mace Windu's fight with Palpatine? Wicked. Loved it.

  • When Anakin and Obi-Wan were fighting in and around the control room on Mustafar, I expected to see a diagram or a hologram of the planned Death Star displayed, similar to what we saw in the control room on Geonosis at the end of Episode II. I wanted Obi-Wan to see it, puzzle about what in the world it was, maybe take a moment to see a couple of notes, then file it away in his mind. That way, years later when the Millenium Falcon is closing with it we know why he recognizes that "that's no moon...that's a Space Station". He's seen it before. But he didn't. Oh well.

  • What, you couldn't have given Tarkin one line?? Or at least mentioned his name?? Grr.

  • To all you Jar Jar haters out there, especially you vocal ones: Feh. Fie upon you all. I hope you are very happy. At least George denied you the final satisfaction of seeing him come to a gruesome end like you all wanted. But be sure and let me know when you've written your books, or filmed your own movies and know everything there is to know about characters and mythological archetypes, and then we'll talk.

  • Darth Vader's final, "Noooooooooooooo!!!" Ok, yes, I cringed. But it wasn't so much the word, but the gesture Hayden made. Leaning backward, hands clenched in fists at the air....that's cliche. Falling to one knee or any number of other dramatic poses would've been more appropriate. I blame Christensen for this, but I also blame Lucas - because ultimately, the director has to make that call.

  • I had hoped to see evidence that it was actually Palpatine who had deliberately planned and ordered Anakin's mother's death at the hands of the sandpeople, and that it wasn't just a random occurance. Maybe he still did, but it was never addressed.

  • Speaking of Palpatine meddling in Anakin's affairs, so....apparently we're let to believe that the Emperor's master, Darth Plageous (where does Lucas get these Dark Lord names? I think he has people assemble all the bad words in the dictionary in a hat and he just picks one out. I would assume Plageous' master was like Darth Rigormorteous or something) was able to manipulate the Force in such a way as to create and preserve human life. Palpatine goes on to tell Anakin that Plagueous taught him, Darth Sidious, and he can teach Anakin so as to make sure he could save Padme's life.

    Does that imply, though, that Plageous is the one that "created" Anakin in the first place? Or did Sidious do it himself after learning the secret? The mystery of Anakin's true father was never revealed, only that he "came from the Force" or something. I would imagine this is it.

  • What happened to Mon Mothma? Was she an unnamed extra like Tarkin that we were just supposed to recognize? For those who don't recall, Mon Mothma was the older lady in "Return of the Jedi" that outlined for the Rebels that they were going to have to attack the new Death Star. Supposedly they actually cast someone to play the younger version of herself - subsequent Wars lore supposes she was another Senator who allied with Bail Organa to intial oppose the Emperor and eventually created the Rebel Alliance.

  • Speaking of Bail Organa - good job, Jimmy Smits!

  • More later, including how I set everyone straight on the "clunky" dialogue and the "awful" acting. Finally.

Friday, May 20, 2005

The Force Will Be With Me

May 25, 1983

I was 16 in 1983.

Yes, things were different. After 3 years of high school, the lot had changed. A World's Fair had come and gone, I'd gone in and out of at least 3 different crushes (unrequited, of course). What is it about teenage girls that turns teenage guys inside out?

I was still a fan - oh, my, I was still a fan. But my allegiance had been sorely tested the year before with Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. Warring franchises prey heavily on the mind of an adolescent boy. I no longer bought the action figures... (Ok, I got a Boba Fett because it looked cool. But that's all. Ok, and the Tauntaun). But you know, it's for collecting now - not playing. Playtime is over, time to grow up.

I was 16 in 1983.

I started this little journey when I was 10 - still a lot of playtime left. All the time in the world. No time to ponder philosophical questions, just watch the cool ships blast and the sabers clash... Lookit the aliens - a Rodian! An Ithorian! Ugnauts!! Cool.

But a new age brings a new perspective. The third Star Wars film was coming out, and it's time to bring the trilogy to a close. Questions remain unanswered - is Vader Luke's father? Can they save Han Solo? And who is "the Other"? Time came to see the film, and time came to find a new companion to accompany me. Well, Tim and Jeff had both wandered off from being close friends, and the other guys around me were generally more interested in sports or other activities.

Dare I...?

I was 16 in 1983.

Girls were put on Earth to drive boys crazy. That is as true a statement today as it was 10,000 years ago. And it's just as true at 16 as it is at 38, or 78, or 108... Who knows what goes in those heads of theirs? Those heads with the hair, gently falling over their eyes...and the smile that when it j-u-u-s-t barely begins makes your heart stop.

Yeah, those girls. Sometimes it seems they have no idea the power they have over us guys. And sometimes they know exactly what they're doing.

And you wonder why guys drive fast cars? To get away...far away...

But anyhow, some of you may remember my friend Beth from high school. Beth was tall, she was smart, she was funny, she was a little dangerous... Well, she still is, actually, since we keep in touch. She was my "date" to the last night of my 20-Year Reunion last August, and - more importantly - she was a Star Wars fan.

A match made in heaven.

But I'd never gone to a movie with a girl before - was this a "date"? Should I, like, bring her flowers or something - or is maybe holding the door open for her enough? We hadn't gone out, but she was very special to me, actually and I didn't want to blow it. Do I pretend she's just another guy? Ugh, such questions, such decisions.

My mom picked up the tickets for us earlier that day on May 25, 1983. She met me at the school, and Beth and I drove on to the theatre. I remember being surprised it wasn't very crowded, but being it was an early show it made at least some sense.

Ok, muster up your midichlorians, Barry. Time to go.

I was 16 in 1983.

We sat enraptured through the film, we smirked at the little fuzzy bears, we gasped at the news who the "Other" really was, and finally we both cheered when Vader picked up the wheezing emperor and tossed him down the shaft. It was electrifying.

After it was over, we drove through McDonalds for some dinner and flirted with the idea of telling the drive-through worker that the "Other" was actually Princess Leia. But thought better of it - why spoil for the hapless employees?

I took her home, and my day and evening went on from there. Did I give her a hug goodnight? I don't recall, but probably not. Did I give her a nice goodnight kiss? Nope. Did I say, "See ya tomorrow" and drive off? Probably.



I was 16 in 1983.

Some Jedis find that their circle is complete by facing their evil father. This young jedi have trouble figuring out girls... I think the other ones have it easier. At least they have the Force as their guide. All I had was my parents' station wagon, a bucket of popcorn and a movie.

From the innocence of a 10-yr-old, to finding out how different things can be when a 13-yr-old, to finally the realization of the hazards of growing up as a 16-yr-old. The secret to life is facing your fears, taking responsibility for your actions and actually going after your dreams. Luke did it - I still had a lot to learn.

Postscript: Sometime in the next year or so - I don't recall the exact occasion but it may have actually been our graduation - I gave Beth my dog-eared copy of the Star Wars novelization. I inscribed it, too, as a testement and thank you for our friendship over the past several years. What had been one of my prized possessions soon became, as she told me recently, one of hers to this day. Sometimes it's the simplest things that make the greatest impressions.

And sometimes things like that can cement a friendship that lasts until 20-year reunions and beyond.

And sometimes... sometimes.. I get things right.

Tagged by a DVD meme...

Big Orange Michael - who at this moment is on his way to Knoxville to see "Revenge of the Sith" with me tonight - challenged me to answer this meme.

1) Total number of films I own on DVD/video:

Oh man, who knows? I have both films, boxed TV season sets, trilogies, invidual cartoon shows, a set of a bunch of classic Black & White films, promotional videos... All told I probably have about 40 DVD's in the cabinets of our entertainment center at home.

2) The last film I bought:

I bought all three Jurassic Park movies (at the same time) recently. By the way, Big Stupid Tommy has a post about Jurassic Park III regarding a major nitpick that has been overlooked for a long time...

3) The last film I watched:

Return of the Jedi. I rewatched the Original Trilogy this past week and finished this one up last night.

4) Five films that I watch a lot or that mean a lot to me (in no particular order):

Any of the Star Wars films.
Any of the Star Trek films.
Back to the Future
Schoolhouse Rock (the kids love this)
24 (Season 1) - I started this before the current season began, and will resume it when it's mercifully over.

5) Tag 5 people and have them put this in their journal:
Danielle, Tommy, Will, Cathy (if she's not had her baby yet), and Misty (if she's not had her baby yet)

Friday's Feast

Feast Forty-Eight

Happy Birthday to the Feast!

Appetizer - Approximately how many hours per day do you spend watching television?

I spend less and less time watching TV these days - I have 5 shows I watch regularly, Enterprise, 24, The West Wing, Battlestar Galactica and The Dead Zone. I follow E.R. and the Simpsons occasionally but miss more than I catch. I will flip around and watch a special on the Discover Channel, Animal Planet, A&E, Bravo... but averaged out I would say I watch about 1 hr/day.

Soup - Which colors decorate your kitchen?

I'm a guy. I have no idea.

Salad - Name 2 brand names you buy on a regular basis, and what do you like about them?

Crystal Light Iced Tea, because it's easier to make. Easier...quicker...more seducti-- man, I've got to get Star Wars out of my head.

Head and Shoulders Shampoo - I like it. It works. And it doesn't laugh at my hairline in the morning like those other shampoos (lousy, no good...)

Main Course - What is your biggest fear?

Fear of failing. At being a husband, a dad, a Christian, an employee, a friend...

Dessert - If you could wake up tomorrow and find yourself in another location, where would you want to be?

On the beach at St. John's in the Caribbean, ready for another round of snorkeling and sunbathing. And Jimmy Buffet and the Coral Reefer Band are jamming down the beach a ways, and want me to join them. Plus I have a cool, refreshing beverage and not a thing to do for weeks...

Bonus Birthday Question - What's your favorite flavor of birthday cake?

White cake with white frosting.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

May 21, 1980

I was 13 in 1980.

I'd just finished junior high and was preparing to be dumped into high school as a freshman in the fall. My friend Tim had moved on ahead of me and we were no longer that close... One of my other best friends, Jeff, and I decided to see the premiere of the long awaited sequel, The Empire Strikes Back.

I was getting too smart for my own good. I bought a magazine a couple months before the movie came out that was filled with photos, interviews, descriptions of various plot points... I was mercilessly spoiled by the time I saw the movie on May 21, 1980.

I was 13 in 1980.

I was an avid Star Wars junkie... I had T-shirts, I had glasses from Burger King, I had action figures. Lord, did I have action figures. My parents even drove me to Maryville one day (a small town south of Knoxville) just to find a Jawa action figure (the one with the real cloth cape! not the loser one with the plastic cape).

I had the Death Star Action Playset. Ok, yeah, I played with them less and less as I moved through Junior High but the figures and things were still treated with reverence.

I read the comic books. I read the magazine articles. I even cut the pictures out and pasted them on poster board to make my own collage. I built the models, I destroyed the models. I cobbled parts of old models together to make new ones.

I could feel my imagination flowing.

I was 13 in 1980.

My friend Jeff was actually interviewed outside the movie theatre that day by a local TV station. He was about 4-5 inches shorter than me, so when they showed his head talking, all you could see of me in the shot was the bottom of my chin down. I remember I was wearing one of those mesh shirts we used to wear back then so you could see my pseudo-pubescent chest as well.

I wish I could recall more about the actual film experience, but I do remember being disappointed that I already knew the little green frog-like guy was Yoda, and that the group would eventually meet up on a cool Cloud City.

The first scenes were great - after 3 years of endless viewings of the original in release and re-release it was kick to see the characters do something different. Luke and Han riding on some weird ice kangaroo across the snow. Different. Leia's hair. Different.

And the ending? Much, much different.

I was 13 in 1980.

I was the epitome of innocence. I'd taken my first step into a much larger world with the blooming of my sense of fantasy, of the out-there, of the possible. I'd gone briefly through junior high (they'd restructured the school system and our class only had 2 years there) and was ready to start the next phase of my life in high school.


I can remember this part as if it were yesterday.

I sit in the theatre chair, feet up with my chin pressed against my knees. Luke and Darth culminate their lightsaber fight on a gantry in Cloud City. My heart is literally pounding with excitement and adrenaline. There is no music to this portion, which heightens the tension. They move from left to right, Luke gets a shot to Darth's shoulder, then Darth cuts off Luke's right hand.

Whoah! That was...creepy. Star Wars isn't supposed to by creepy! What's going on??

Pound, pound, pound.

They trade barbs. Vader exhorts Luke to abandon his friends and join him. Luke refuses, defiant, in pain. He desparately tries to inch away.

Then the bottom falls out.

"Obi-Wan never told you what happened to your father..."

"He told me enough...he told me you killed him!"

"No, Luke. I am your father."

My jaw literally dropped - fell open and hung there. What???? This isn't true? This is impossible!!!

Luke apparently shared my sentiments.

And I felt all the anguish of a young boy truly moving into a larger world as the son cried out in rage and sorrow at the truth. Then dropped away.

Those roughly 2-3 minutes of the movie stick with me to this day. I feel my heart pounding in my chest, I feel the rush of cold as I heard what Darth said. To an older person, it would've been recognized as a good plot point, and interesting twist.

To a younger child...a younger me...I probably wouldn't have understood the significance.

I was 13 in 1980.

I was the perfect age to see that, now, everything was different.

Postscript: I continued to read and re-read that original copy of the Star Wars novelization. It began to get dog-eared and a bit tattered. While I bought the Empire novelization, of course, it never quite got to the point of extreme usage as the original. It still remained one of my prized possessions.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

May 24, 1977

I was 10 years old in 1977.

My son will be 10 next February. Was I thinking the same things he thinks today? Did I hate or like 3rd grade? Does he start to feel that something...that something more protectve than actual attraction about one of the girls in his class? I don't think I ever suscribed to the "ooh-girls-are-gross-let's-throw-rocks-at-them" school of thought when I was a kid. The girls were cool. And occasionally there was one or two I didn't want to see get hurt. Does he think that too?

My son will be 10 next February. Does he grasp the importance of baseball? He's been playing soccer for a couple of years now, but he's not a star. He may take up baseball again this fall. I played baseball since I was able to pick up a bat...does he see competition as a window on life, on the soul? Does he see teamwork and cameradery as microcosmical examples of how we are to cling to each other to survive, to succeed? I see that now, but was it because the might Little League "Thundercraft Boats" team occasionally won a game here and there, and we were allowed to run around and play cupball all over Fountain City Ballpark? Is he learning the things I learned then, when I wasn't paying attention?

I was 10 years old in 1977.

My son will be 10 next February. Does he look beyond our world, to the possibility of others? I loved dinosaurs. Land of the Lost had come and gone, but instilled a sense of wonder fantasy in me that still lives today. He's seen the Jurassic Parks, the Harry Potters, the Lord of the Rings... entertainment events that cause Sid & Marty Kroffts' stop-motion dinos to quiver in fear. So does he peer into that door of other-worlds and gaze about with wonder, like I did?

When I was 10, one of my best friend's name was Tim. He was a year older than I was, and way cooler. We'd spend the night at each others' houses all the time, and as he only lived a couple blocks away, we were always around each other. That summer of 1977, we had no idea that Deng Xiaoping had returned to power in China. We didn't know Carter had pardoned Vietnam war draft evaders, we knew it was getting warm again (finally), our bikes need air and a local radio station was giving away preview tickets to a new movie that was scheduled to open late in May.

At that point, I had rarely listened to popular music on the radio. He and I listened religiously for weeks, until we finally one. We had heard this new movie was going to be great - unlike anything anyone had ever seen.

I was 10 years old in 1977.

My son will be 10 next February. Does he wait in anticipation for things to come? Does he have that feeling of excitement that still comes to me on Christmas morning, these days through watching my kids' eyes? Can he feel the palpable sense that something wonderful is coming? Does he ever imagine that just around the corner something is going to occur that will change your life?

Tim and I arrived at the theatre early that 24th of May*, with our parents. We showed our passes, crept through the crowd waiting in line inside and made our way up to the ropes. As the tension rose and the rope dropped, two 10 and 11 year old boys raced through the door, down the aisle and skidded to the very center seats, of the very center aisle.

I was 10 years old in 1977.

My son will be 10 next February. This Friday I will accompany him to a similar event. My friend Tim and I won tickets on the radio...I bought mine and my sons from Fandango. 1977 and 2005 Barry will get there early, we'll find a close place in line, and - hand in hand - I'll lead my son into the theatre to find a good seat. Maybe near the middle. But this time I'll get to see the movie, through a 10-year-old's eyes.


(More here about that day in 1977)

Postscript: Later that summer our two families travelled to Myrtle Beach for vacation. Using my own hard-earned sheckles, I purchased the paperback copy of the Star Wars novelization. I bookmarked certain pages that were the best parts of the movie, and read them over and over. I kept that book with me for years, and it became one of my prized possessions.

* Note: Star Wars opened nationally on 5/25/77, so I'm assuming the day I saw it was 5/24/77. However, some things I've read up on suggested it only opened in some of the bigger cities on that date, and actually opened in Knoxville a week or two later. Maybe so, maybe not. I can't confirm what the actual date is, but it doesn't really matter so your mileage may vary.

I Want This. I Want This For Halloween....

...And I Want It Now!

1 Day and Counting...

"Revenge of the Sith" is the best of the four episodes George Lucas has directed. That's right: it's better than "Star Wars." (New York Times)

"Cloaked in complexity, 'Sith' a commanding finale" (Betsy Pickle, Knoxville News Sentinel) ****-1/2

UPDATE: " It's a rousing and tragic sendoff to a beloved franchise, and the best installment in the Star Wars series since 1980's The Empire Strikes Back." (Berardinelli, ReelViews)

Setting the Record Straight

A press release from Knox County Schools, setting the record straight on the Bible-reading controversy.
"The Alliance Defense Fund and the family of a student have alleged that Karns Elementary School in Northwest Knox County is violating students’ Constitutional rights by banning Bibles from school and not letting individual students discuss religious topics during non-instructional time. This allegation is untrue.

“At no time have I ever told students that they could not have Bibles in school or that they could not read them on the playground or anywhere else,” said Karns Elementary School Principal Cathy Summa. “The incident described by the Alliance Defense Fund did not occur. At no time have I ever approached the student in question or any other child on the playground and told them to stop reading the Bible or to stop talking about a religious issue.”

“At Karns Elementary we encourage students to read, read, read. We even have free reading time when students can read the material of their choice, and if students choose to read the Bible that is absolutely fine.”

Summa indicated that the only time she has been approached by anyone about Bible study was when three students and a parent asked about conducting an organized Bible study class during recess. No one making the current allegation was a party to this discussion."
That pretty much says it all right there. Nobody was prohibited from bringing a Bible to school, reading the Bible or talking about the Bible. The only requirement is that it be done in a time that doesn't interfere with normal schoolwork, of which recess is still a part.

One piece that was interesting:
"I also support Cathy’s decision concerning Bible study classes or other similar organized activities during recess,” said Lindsey. “Our schools are a reflection of our total community and we have to treat everyone equally and fairly. While most members of this community would not object to an organized Bible study class, to support such an organized activity places the school system in a position to have to support similar requests from less mainstream groups in the community. Some of these groups conducting organized activities during the school day on school grounds would be very upsetting to most of our parents,” he said.
I see they're hedging their bets against other groups who might want to meet, who could be disruptive to student life. I'm certain this does not mean other religions like Muslim, etc, but I'm curious as to what groups they are cautious of. Satanic student clubs? Jedi Knights of America?
“Another thing I think people need to understand is that our teachers and principals do not try to govern or restrict personal conversations between students. We are not concerned if students are in school having an ad hoc private discussion about a religious issue outside the classroom environment. That is their privilege.”
You just can't make it any plainer than that...
The school system has just today received a letter purported to be from Charles Pope representing a Karns Elementary School student in this matter. “The letter has no address and it is unsigned,” said Lindsey. “I am not sure who it is from or even if it is a valid document.”

“In short, I think the Alliance Defense Fund and Mr. Pope, if that is who this letter is really from, have asked us to cease and desist doing something that we are not doing,” explained Lindsey. “I do not know how we can say it more clearly. The allegation is false.”
So it looks like this is one person and one group's attempt to further an agenda by painting a principal as insensitive and un-Godly, and a school system as discriminitory and undisciplined in its rules, allegations which are false. That's just sad.

You can also see how clarity of communication can solve a lot of misunderstandings. For several days, both parties talked at each other in the media, responding to each others' quotes and purported statements but never really talked to each other. A parent and her lawyer -- I'm not sure if it was this Mr. Pope as I didn't catch their names -- were on the Hallerin Hill radio show a few mornings ago and aired their grievances against the principal and the school. Hal played back tapes of an interview he did with Principal Summa, which refuted many of their allegations directly. They tried to paint the picture that Summa's gave subsequent interviews that contradicted some of her claims, but were unable or unwilling to substantiate the claims.

With this release, you finally have a clear picture of the facts. The truth wins out, and the agitators are reduced to caricatures of themselves, skulking around in the corner sending (or being accused of sending) follow-up mails that are unsigned. Either way, they've been sufficiently marginalized and should not present a continuing threat in the future.

(Thanks to commenter "CL" for giving me the heads up on this press release. CL, do you have a blog or an email address?)

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

2 Days and Counting...

...and the early returns look good.

" It's the darkest of the six-film opus, but it just may be the best of the lot." (USA Today)

3 Hours of My Life That I'll Never Get Back

Ever have one of those days when eveything just works out perfectly, with no hitches or problems whatsoever?

Nah, me neither.

I'm coming out of lunch yesterday afternoon, turn the key in my car....

and it blows up!!!!

Just kidding. It won't start. Crank, crank, crank... Wonderful. J-u-u-u-s-t wonderful - stuck in the middle of Alcoa. This has actually happened before and I know what the problem is, though I'm not skilled enough to be able to fix it. So I call AAA, the guy comes out and temporarily reconnects some wires so I can start the car. He says I need a new starter, and if I turn the car off I probably won't be able to start it again.

So I drive back to the dealership and proceed to hang out in the waiting room for the next 3 to 3-1/2 hours or so while they 1) find, 2) purchase, 3) install, and 4) apparently photograph, sanctify, bless and sprinkle holy water on my new starter.

I miss a half day of work - which, in and of itself is not a bad thing. Also, I almost finished the book I was reading, which is good. Catching up on website updates that came in all afternoon Monday? Not so good.

Monday, May 16, 2005



The situation obliquely referred to here continues to fester, with great wailing and gnashing of teeth on all sides.

This is an ongoing source of great stress for myself and my wife, and a potential great source of stress for a lot of other people depending on how things turn out. And probably a life-altering point of stress for the one person at the center of it all.

There's a possibility a move forward may occur my mid-week. While sometimes the cure may be worse than the disease, at least administering the vaccine is a step in the right direction. We'll get to deal with the next step instead of continuing to wallow in indecision and fear.

I still can't give any details further than what I've already mentioned, just please remember us all in your prayers as this situation is dealt with.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Scrubby Rules!

It turned into quite the damp day today, which we weren't expecting. BrainyBoy v9.2 had his final soccer game of the year this morning, in the light drizzle. It never seemed to bother him but we kept nice and dry under our umbrellas and ponchos on the sidelines (they won 6-2).

The sun came out when we got home, and there was an opportunity for a little yardwork...and what started as a quick sprucing up of the gutters turned into a major terraforming operation. Whole ecosystems were being created, going extinct and reflourishing in our gutters - and me, our ladder and my trust hose made short work of them. Well, long work cause it took most of the afternoon. I created some nice new craters full of water at the end of the drainspouts, accompanied by wheelbarrows full of escaped rainforest that had taken up residence topside. By the end, I was completely wet and completely filthy. I can only hope I don't catch some dread disease like malaria or Scarlet Fever from my expedition.

I did run into the Crocodile Hunter as he chased a sheila through the swamps, but that's another story.

A storm was abrewin', and we decided to go ahead and try to clean the garage dooes and the siding on two sides of the house. On top of doing the gutters. What did I do to deserve such slavery????

Finally - literally, I kid you not, maybe 2 minutes after we finished up and came inside (I had to almost completely strip in the garage to avoid tracking wild vegetation into the house) the skies opened up and a storm hit. Buckets of rain cleansed out my newly vanquished gutters - I can't wait to go look tomorrow and see how much crap washed down into them again, since I removed the old gutter guards in preparation for soon installing new ones. Ah well, it's the circle of life.

So Laura and I both showered and changed into scrubby clothes - then of course, decided to take the whole gang to Baskin Robbins. So there we were, looking for all the world like Mammy, Pappy and all the little Yoakum's from L'il Abner going out for ice cream. We were quite charming :)

It's days like these we spend together as a family that make life worth living. Scrubby or not :)

Friday, May 13, 2005

Bibles in the Schools

*Sigh* Here we go again...

No rule against student Bibles (Knoxville News Sentinel - Registration Required)
"The scorn stemmed from a story posted on the Web site, which said Summa "barred students from reading the Bible during recess" and forbid Bibles at school.

That's not exactly true, Summa said Thursday. She said students can bring Bibles to school - in fact, she has one in her own office.

But the trickier question is: When can students read their Bibles?

The answer, according to the Knox County public school system's attorney, is, during "free time."

And free time does not necessarily include recess, said the attorney, Marty McCampbell.


Cindy Buttry, the Knox County school board member who represents Karns Elementary, said she supports the school's principal. But Buttry said she personally thinks students should be able to conduct Bible study during some parts of the school day.

"If it's not being led by an adult, if it's not something that is structured, in my opinion, I don't see a problem with it," said Buttry, who remembers reading her own Bible at school when she was in high school. "Lunch and recess, technically to me, they're on their own time."


"My feeling is, I want to be very respectful to the parents and children certainly," [Summa] said. "Elementary children are young, and my job is to protect them and keep them safe. I think having a Bible at school is fine." "
The question is raised again, should students be allowed to read their Bible at school?

It's a tough question to comment on for me, for two reasons:

First, my experience in grade school, here in Knoxville, was typical for a kid starting out in the 70's in this part of the country. Almost every kid went to a church (usually Baptist), and probably more if not all of the teachers did as well. The strong church/state separation rules regarding school prayer, etc had not yet trickled down to this level, so I'm pretty sure no one would've thought twice to bring a Bible to school. When I got into high school in the 80's we had a before-school Bible study I occasionally participated it, that may have been led by a teacher. All before-hours, and held in the choir room. Nobody thought twice about it.

Second, my kids now go to a private religious school here in town. There are classes in Christian Catechism, and they have chapel every day. Obviously, there is no controversy regarding bringing or reading a Bible at school - it's encouraged.

So you see I have no modern public school experience with kids or parents who are unchurched (as our church calls it). I've never met someone who was strongly opposed to this, as long as it didn't disrupt the school day. As usual, it seems teachers and principals today are pressured to abide by strict interpretation of policy (which, by extension, is really because of fear of lawsuits by angry secular parents or organizations against the local School Board). I doubt many Southern teachers would personally care one way or the other whether they see a student with a Bible in church as long as it's used at the proper time and doesn't interfere with schoolwork.

But from the Bible-reading advocates point of view, I'm getting the message that they believe kids ought to be able to read/study their Bibles (well, I would imagine some would push for them being able to pull out their Bibles in the middle of the science lesson, if they could get their way) during anytime they're not actually in the classroom doing classwork. Principal Summa feels that recess does not necessarily equal "free time" and doesn't give carte blanche for students to go do whatever they feel like. With so many children approaching and passing the obesity levels these days, a structured recess can be as important to a child as anything they learn in a classroom, so it very often needs to be regulated and controlled by the individual teachers and gym teachers, if they're part of the program.

So when do kids get "free time"?

School Board member Cindy Buttry, quoted above, recalls reading her Bible at lunch. I think lunch - especially in the upper grades, where reading the Bible on their would be more common - should be considered "free time". I don't think a teacher would have any business telling a student to put away any reading material (within reason) during lunch. It is certainly a break for kids in the middle of the day, to rest, eat, and recharge their batteries. If a kid wanted to read "Chicken Soup for the Angst-Ridden Teenager's Soul" at lunch, I'd say it would be ok.

But Buttry also believes recess is "free time". Here's a problem, because as a member of the School Board, she should know one way or the other way official school policy is regarding recess. Is it "free time" for the students to do whatever they wish? Is is structured, organized exercise and fresh air time for students, according to a School Board attorney? Once they get their answers straight in that regard, it would solve part of the problem.

So, should Bibles be banned from a school? No - that would certainly, in my opinion, violate our Freedom of Religion.

Should they be used whenever a child feels like getting up from their seat and going somewhere to read it? No, because school has a certain structure every parent must agree to have their child follow, according to the laws of the land.

Should a student be allowed to read the Bible, or participate in a study after or before school? Sure. I would even go out on my high-school-experience limb and say it wouldn't be any problem to hold such a study at the school, as long as a) other religious practices are also allowed to hold such study sessions, and b) it's determined that it's a better convenience to the students involved to hold it at school, rather than off campus. In other words, it shouldn't be held at the school because the students just want to protest something or make a statement.

Finally, should they be allowed to read and/or study their Bibles during school hours at "free time"? I think that's fine, too, as long as "free time" is well defined and not subject to arbitrary decisions by the principal or teachers. If recess is free time, then it should be clearly decided on.

See, make the simple, fair guidelines and require schools to follow the simple, fair guidelines and everyone's happy.

Friday's Feast

Feast Forty-Seven

Appetizer - Whose intelligence do you find intimidating?

I had a friend in college named Jon who was good at everything. He was smart, funny, kind and clever. He could beat me at racquetball regularly, ace me at Wing Commander, and foil my devilish plots in Dungeons and Dragons. But his intelligence, I always thought, was intimidating. There wasn't anyhing I could beat him in regarding brain power.

Soup - Name something you've done that surprised yourself.

See here.

Salad - List 3 people whom you have only "met" online, but consider good friends.

1) Becky of April Fool
2) Misty of Seductive Kisses
3) April of Drips Drops and Silent Thoughts

There are a couple other folks I've met recently that I'm getting to be friends with...

Main Course - Where is the dirtiest place you've ever been?

Other than any public restroom at (almost) any fast food place you can name, the dirtiest place I've ever been is probably Juarez, Mexico. But even then, being so close to El Pase and American tourist influence, it wasn't that bad. In contrast, in both our cruises to the Caribbean islands, none of the islands were dirty. In fact, once again due to that American Tourist Influence, they were almost spotless. I've never really been "off the beaten path" overseas anywhere, so that would be where I find places that aren't tourist-ized for your protection.

Dessert - What is the best example of "perfection" that you can think of?

A good friend once told me one of the most convincing examples of God's work she's ever seen is the whorl of hair at the top of her baby's head. Somehow I believe her.

A First For Me

I know no one wants to hear about my softball exploits, but I have to tell you this...

Last night my church league played our second game of the year. I didn't start but came in at 1st base midway through the game.

When we came in to bat, I got up with us down 2 runs, 2 men on an 2 outs. And I did something I've never done before...

And inside-the-park home run.

Put us up by 1, although we later ended up losing by 3. I never got up to bat again... I made some good plays at first, and also some bad plays at first so I kind of broke even there...

I've always dreamed of getting a home run - I've never hit for power, and have always been better at dinking it around in front of the outfielders. This shot went way out in the left field corner.

Ok, self-congratulations over - just wanted to share. Now get back to work...:)

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Evacuation at D.C.

Ok, so I got somethin' after all...

Timeline of White House Security Scare
"12:11 p.m.
Threat level brought down to yellow — plane turned west and was traveling away from the White House.

12:14 p.m.
All clear at the White House.

12:37 p.m.
Cessna 152 lands in Frederick, Md. "
So, like, who or what was in the Cessna? As of this moment, there's no report of why the plane flew within 3 miles of the Capitol Building. In the past when this has happened, and the security people went bug-happy, we've been told what the problem was. For instance, a governor's plane set off false alarms when it was flying in for Reagan's funeral.

But for this - nothing. Why? No story about a poor sap who fell asleep at the stick, or had his nav charts upside down, or radio got fried?

In this case, no news is suspicious news...

UPDATE (05/12/05): Ok, apparently no cause for alarm - a student pilot and his instructor took a wrong turn. After being chased by fighters and having flares fired at them, I'll bet they'll need some industrial cleaning for those cockpit chairs today...


I got nothin'.

Entire office is empty except me and Hatamaran. Everyone's at a big corporate managers meeting where everyone there is more important to the company than I'll ever be.

So, people, speak. Cheer me up.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Hillary in 2008? Um....

A great article discussing the possibilities of another Clinton in the White House in 2008.

He's not in favor, and I'm not sure it would be the best thing in the world - though I can think of worse. A lot worse.

My favorite part is calling the über-Republicans that has opposed her tooth and nail in anything she's done for the past thirteen years the "Precambrian Right". I love it!

And would their über-Democratic counterparts be the "Paleolithic Left"?

There's probably an evolutional chart to be made there, although the Precambrians would insist on it being a strict 24 hour/7-Day Creationist chart.

But, I think both are fairly descriptive of the type of mouthbreathing rhetoric we've seen pass for political commentary and punditry the last decade-and-a-half...

Being Paranoid Doesn't Necessarily Mean They're Not Out to Get You...

I had settled in Saturday evening to watch a DVD. Everyone was in bed, the house was nice and quiet... It had been a warm day, the windows were open permitting a nice breeze and the ceiling fans were slowly turning.

The video ended, and I apparently drifted off to sleep.

Some amount of time later, I awoke to a loud noise... Coming from the wall where the TV was. I jumped up, still half-asleep - apparently, according to my wife, yelled, "What the hell???" - and quickly glanced around the room. Still the noise came, the sound of someone, or something, trying to claw its way through the wall of the living room behind the TV. Scraping, scratching... I stumbled forward toward the entertainment center, searching for the source of the noise. I literally could not completely rouse myself and fought sleep as well as extreme concern for whatever creature was trying to forcibly enter my house.

At this point I was able to finally ascertain that I was, indeed, awake and that the noise was real. Again, later, according to my wife I loudly said, "Good God!?!" because I couldn't see or figure out what the noise was. The DVD had finished and the TV itself was quiet. Nothing else was on - VCR, sound system, cable, nothing but...

My eyes drifted upward... the ceiling fan directly over my head. Caught in the blades of the fan was a lone, forlorn white balloon Tink had collected at her school's Balloon Festival earlier in the day. Adrift on an ever-shrinking supply of tepid helium, it had wafted its way across the room and become entangled in the ceiling fan. At that moment it had decided to make its presence known, and cause an unholy ruckus which sounded for all the world like the advent of alien predators into our home.

I probably said something else even worse at that moment, but I don't recall and Laura didn't say she heard anything else.

So I crossed quickly to turn off the fan. The noise quickly subsided, restoring peace and tranquility to stately Barry Manor.

Curse you, you rubberized ruffian! I shall have you; I shall climb upon a ladder and pluck you from your bladed prison and exact my retribution. I Shall Be Avenged!

...tomorrow. Cause I'm really sleepy now.

This Weekend

Sounds like BlogNashville was a hoot. Check out Michael Silence for all the details, and links to other bloggers' accounts who were there.

I was registered to go but some things came up here and I was unable to attend. Maybe next year!

Friday, May 06, 2005

In the Great Outdoors

BrainyBoy and Tink at a creek at Market Square

BrainyBoy and Tink again, wider shot

Tink amongst the azaleas

Tink on Easter morning

A moment of introspection...

Tink and Dad dancing the "Tennessee Waltz"

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Friday's Feast

Feast Forty-Six

Appetizer - Name a store or restaurant you no longer visit because of a bad experience you had there.

I'm very forgiving, usually, when it comes to a place that gives me bad service - I figure any waiter or cook can have a bad or busy day. I don't find many that actually serve bad food. We did visit a Mexican restaurant once that had a buffet, and I discovered ants crawling on the stack of dishes at the buffet *shudder*. I never would've gone back there, but they closed soon after anyway.

Soup - If you could own any building in existence, which one would you want?

I'd like to own one of the Smithsonian buildings: either the National Air and Space Museum or the Natural History Museum. Then I'd close them and spend every day wandering around, looking, exploring the storage areas...

Salad - What's your favorite commercial these days?

I like the couple of commercials about financial planners - one where the husband and wife are sitting on the beach talking about the house they can finally buy...and it's revealed the man that's talking is actually their financial planner and the husband is sprawled on a blanket nearby. The other is similar, where the dad is making a beautiful toast to his daughter at her wedding...when he's actually their financial advisor and finally turns it over the real dad.

Main Course - When was the last time you felt guilty about spending money, and what was it you purchased?

I think I'm about to feel guilty about spending money for an upcoming trip to Orlando...but not really :)

Dessert - Friday's Feast is going to be having it's First Birthday in 2 weeks. What should we do to celebrate?

  • Fried Spam for everyone!
  • Guest Moderators?
  • "Best of" List?
  • Contest to vote for best submissions some time...

    I set this post to go up at exactly 5:05 on 05/05/05.

    How sad is that?

    At this moment, we're probably getting ready to celebrate at a local Mexican watering-hole. One of the approximately 4,235 in Knoxville. And most are actually fairly sanitary.

    Hey, this is fun, typing in the future. At this point in time I may have mowed my yard, gone shopping for movie tickets, gotten a haircut or received a package from UPS. I just don't know yet.

    Or I could be dead.

    Well...ain't that a sobering thought?

    The Force is With Us...

    Join us, and together we can rule the galaxy as...oh, skip it. Anyway, that's where me, Big Orange Michael, BrainBoy, his friend, his friend's sister and her friend will be two weeks from tomorrow night.

    And no, that's not the real confirmation number. A big jug of Beru's blue milk to who can tell me what the numbers mean... (Mike is Excluded from Competition)

    Oh, and Fandango is my friend.


    Due to the ever-increasing number of University of Tennessee football players getting in trouble with the law, the Athletic Department has decided it would be in the public's best interest and safety to move Neyland Stadium to a safer location.

    Starting with the fall season 2005, Neyland Stadium will be renamed "Neylatraz" and moved out to an island in the middle of Ft. Loudoun Lake.

    It has been rumored that Sean Connery may be interested in filming a movie at this location in the future.

    Inflated Numbers

    You know, I love it when my site visit count starts to inflate and it seems more folks are coming to visit the old Inn...

    ...But when it seems that 85% of the visitors are either searching for the damn Faerie's aire death waltz or trying to find a graphic that hasn't been on the site for about a year, it gets pretty annoying.

    Especially when they don't take time to read anything else, or comment or anything.

    C'mon people. There are other things on the site. Take a look, leave a comment or shoot me an email. Let me know you're alive...

    AdventureCON 2005

    Last year I took mesa-self and the kids to AdventureCon, a local comic book/sci-fi convention. A great time was had by all.

    This year, AdventureCon 2005 will be held June 18-19 at the Downtown Knoxville Convention Center (a change from last year).

    I am so there, because the guests (so far) will include Adam West (Batman) and John Rhys-Davies (Sallah, Gimli, Arturo)..

    Ok, RTB Member Rich - and any others? - see you there!

    Wednesday, May 04, 2005

    Wall Street Journal

    Blogging from the Sickbed
    "More patients are using the Web to share their personal experiences with healthcare. The personal Web sites known as blogs have become a significant new forum for healthcare consumers."
    I'd love to read this - unfortunately, you can't read the article unless you subscribe to the WSJOnline. Does anyone out there have access to this article and would like, e-mail me a "very detailed synopsis"?

    This Cannot Stand....

    Tourism commissioner says state in 11th place for visitation
    "Tennessee Tourism Commissioner Susan Whitaker reported at a Leadership Sevier luncheon Friday that the state has now moved into 11th place in visitation, edging out Nevada - a fact she had not even shared with Gov. Phil Bredesen yet.

    "We have overtaken Nevada," said Whitaker with some enthusiastic humor. "Viva Las Vegas, you lost.""
    What?? Ok, I'm all for Tennessee overtaking anybody in anything - especially a UT Defensive End chasing down a Florida QB - but this is just too much. We have to do everything we can to ensure Nevada assumes its rightful place at the top.

    Therefore I will soon be contacting the Nevada State Board of Tourism to see what assistance and incentives they may be able to provide wayword tourists out there who are looking for some place to have some fun..

    Road Trip!

    [Source: Michael Silence]

    Confronting the Inevitable

    This is a freeform post. I have no real idea where it's going, so bear with me.

    In fact, I just deleted four paragraphs and started over.

    I have a friend who's in some deep trouble. Because of substance abuse - a continuing, life-long pattern of substance abuse, this person is about to lose their job. The only real job they've had over the last 10-15 years with any longevity or substance.

    I've actually written about this person before, and if you're of a dogged persistence you can dig through my archives and find the post - it's not relevant that you do, however. Suffice to say that I am sufficiently involved in the activities this person does that their abuse affects me in several direct ways.

    And things are finally coming to a head. This person's continuing pattern of abuse has affected their job performance, their ability to interact with people and our confidence in them. Thank goodness I don't have to be the one to make a final decision or action on their status, but in a couple of areas I'm directly involved.

    Myself, my wife, and another person have been involved in a continuing project/activity with this person, and now - regardless of their work status - their involvement in the activity has to be terminated. And we're uncertain of what affect this will have on the person, as well as how it will affect our future.

    I've spent many years building both a professional and personal friendship with this person, and what they do professionally has earned the deepest respect from me. This person has bailed me out on certain occasions when I was desperately in need of help. If and when this person finally loses what little they have left to hold onto, the world will have lost an amazing talent.

    But it's impossible to separate what has to be done professionally, for the good of the organization and all involved, and what's best for this person. The two are intertwined, and I greatly fear that when it is taken away from this person, the rest of their life may crumble. In fact, without proper support from others around them, there may not be much of an after at all....

    But as far as I'm concerned, the point is moot. Whatever decisions will be made will be made, and everyone will have to deal with them. It will likely mean more responsibility will be placed on me to take up the slack, but that's a tertiary concern right now. I want this friend to live to see tomorrow, and the next day, and the next day, and to finally agree that they need help...they have a huge problem...and that they cannot deal with it they way they have. It simply can't continue, for that way leads to madness and worse.

    Please, just consider this person in your thoughts and prayers. Tonight is the confrontation that we believe is coming, and my family, their family and several other families are all involved.

    And please...please...if you or someone you love is involved with substance abuse - please get help. Admit there is a problem, admit you can't solve it yourself, turn to God or to your friends or family and turn your life back around before it's too late.

    It's not just you that you're affecting, it's everyone you come in contact with. Or could come in contact with in the future. It's all of us.

    Thank you.

    UPDATE (05/05/05): As it turned out, there was no confrontation last night, nor any discussion at all. Angstful teeth-gnashing and hair-pulling postponed a few days...

    Tuesday, May 03, 2005

    A Great Disturbance in the Force

    Darth Vader, Lord of the Sith, has a blog
    "Here is where it got really weird: I heard the words coming out of my own mouth as if I were in a dream: "He could be a...powerful ally."

    My master, Darth Sidious, furrowed his ancient brow and nodded. And agreed.

    So here I am now, back in my hyperbaric chamber, feeling totally stunned. My master has just handed me a way in which I can love my son: turned to the dark side as my protege. We could serve the emperor together.

    I would not dare to even dream this had it not come from my master's lips. I cannot explain to you the thoughts I no longer feel ashamed to entertain since I am no longer hiding Luke's identity from him.

    We could rule the galaxy together, as father and son!

    And I could love again."

    A superior piece of writing, satire, and insight into the Mind of a Monster.


    Jack BauerReunited and it feels so good
    Reunited 'cause we understood
    There's one perfect fit
    And, sugar, this one is it
    We both are so excited 'cause we're reunited, hey, hey
    President David Palmer

    Monday, May 02, 2005

    True Story. Maybe.

    I was driving home from softball practice last night, when I came upon a car in a ditch. It was dark, and my knee was killing me but I knew I couldn't just leave it there.

    I stopped the car and got out, limping slowly over to the car. It was laying in the ditch at about a 45 degree angle - no lights were on that I could tell, and the tires weren't spinning so it didn't appear to have just happened.

    I crouched down to peer in the passenger side window - the closest to me. It was pretty dark, but the glow from my headlights lit things up pretty well. As I looked in, I could see a figure -- man, woman or child I couldn't tell -- slumped in the back seat. The window was half open, so I called inside cautiously, "Hello? Are you ok?"

    I waited a moment before I leaned closer and stuck my head carefully through the window. There was a person in the back seat, an older man, slumped against the back driver's side window. He had on a grey suit, and a hat - slightly disheveled. As I repeated, " ok?", he looked slowly over at me. Licking his dry lips, in a raspy voice he said, " it you?"

    Well, this was certainly unexpected. How in the world did he know who I was? "Who are you??" I said, beginning to get a little nervous. He did not reply, but slowly reached out his hand toward me. In his grasp was a piece of paper.... I reached in tremulously and took it. He seemed to give a mighty exhale, then closed his eyes.

    I pulled out of the car and looked at the piece of paper. It appeared to be fragment of a birth or death certificate, with something written across the front in black Magic Marker. Holding it to the light, the breath caught in my chest as I read:

    "When eating dinner with my friends,
    I love to dine on beef or pork.
    Silver, chopsticks, or my two hands,
    I'll use anything but the spork."

    I pondered the implications of such a message, and wondered briefly about contacting the authorities. But my knee was really sore and I hadn't had any dinner. Suddenly, I was very hungry...

    I have no idea what this means....but maybe Busy Mom does. :)

    Whoopsey - My Bad

    Looks like little Damien from "The Omen" may have gotten a raw deal, the victim of bad translation...
    "A newly discovered fragment of the oldest surviving copy of the New Testament indicates that, as far as the Antichrist goes, theologians, scholars, heavy metal groups, and television evangelists have got the wrong number. Instead of 666, it's actually the far less ominous 616."

    (Hat tip: No Quarters)


    Maybe it's just me, but with the ever-increasing technology in e-mails, websites, scanners, PDF files, etc - doesn't it seem like faxes are pretty much outmoded technology by now?

    12 Angry, and Women

    As I type this, my wife is deliberating with 11 other people over a case in Federal Court. She's been on the jury all week, and today they get the case.

    I hope it will be over soon, as the implications of their decision will drastically affect the lives of several people. She's nervous about it, and scenarios like those in fiction where jurists are retaliated against weigh heavily on my own mind.

    I just hope the case is so overwhelming one way or the other that the verdict is reached quickly and all can go home.

    UPDATE: Trial's over! That was quick. Unanimous verdict, with only brief deliberation. Read about it in the papers tomorrow...

    News from the Front Lines

    Took a bad hop grounder at first base last night at softball practice (ok, it wasn't that bad of a hop, just badly fielded) and ended up with a painful knot on the inside of my right knee. Feels a lot better this morning, but last night I was propped up with an ice pack on the outside and a couple of Aleve on the inside. Plus a plate of leftover Domino's, a bag of chips, the newspaper and the remote.

    Sometimes things are worth it....:)