Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Top 10 Words That More or Less Rhyme with "Brico"

In honor of Tish's call for Top 10 Lists to celebrate her boytoyfriend Brico's birthday, I present:

Top 10 Words That More or Less Rhyme with "Brico"

10. Crisco
9. Rico
8. Tivo
7. Freak-o
6. Meco (Beware - Sound!)
5. Leko
4. Coleco
3. Citgo
2. Schadenfreude

And the #1 Word that More or Less Rhymes with "Brico"....

1. Whipped

Thank you, good night everyone! Happy Birthday Brico!

Monday, October 30, 2006

Carry That Weight

Once there was a way
To get back homeward.
Once there was a way
To get back home.
Sleep, pretty darling, do not cry
And I will sing a lullaby.

Just keep thinking, in six hours it'll be over. Keep your eyes forward, empty your mind, don't think of anything except what you're told to do.

Four men in dark suits drove out of the suburban fast food store parking lot. They didn't quite know where they were headed, but when needed directions can be produced.

They'd never been to this particular cemetery in Athens, TN before. The way was unfamiliar and the mood was dark. Contrasting the mood was the brilliant late October sun and the clear blue sky that was still full of clouds.

Golden Slumbers fill your eyes.
Smiles await you when you rise.
Sleep, pretty darling, do not cry
And I will sing a lullaby.

At the cemetery, several entrances. Which one to choose? Simple, follow the hearse.

A large Suburban does not fit easily into a small paved pathway between the headstones but the driver makes it fit. They are joined by other men in dark suits and sunglasses, looking for all the world like a Presidential Secret Service detail.

The shade of the brilliant elms, cedars, pines and magnolias frame the graves in protective arms. The sun is alternately cool and hot as moods come and go. One man makes a simple joke that elicits a chuckle from all. Others stifle slight, whispered sobs. Older mourners arrive with gray hair and gray faces. The parents of the husband are assisted to the graveside while he and his son greet his late wife's mother and sister.

The men in dark suits begin to sweat as the day's unseasonable heat begins to rise.

Boy, you're gonna Carry that Weight,
Carry That Weight a long time.
Boy, you're gonna Carry that Weight,
Carry That Weight a long time.

The men lined up in two rows behind the hearse, as the casket was wheeled out. The Golden handles lining the blonde wood for cool but heavy. Once it has cleared the back of the car, the men turn as one and march the silent steps in tribute to their friend.

The way is difficult as a clear path to the gravesite is not exactly possible. Winding across the grass, mindful of small hills and granite markers they make their way across the lawn. Periodically a subtle grunt is heard as one person rearranges their grip. There is a lot of weight to the wood, and arms and hands are sore.

Their duty discharged, the men in dark suits form an informal honor guard behind the minister. A brief sermon of hope and life in resurrection is offered, although the immediate comfort it provided is dubious - through no fault of the minister.

The words conclude and the people begin to drift apart and away.

I never give you my pillow.
I only give you my invitations.
And in the middle of the Celebrations, I break down.

The mourners return to the concrete path. Murmurs are exchanged, opinions offered, recriminations, guilt, sadness, anger, frustration, sorrow, sympathy.

The men move on, their weight carried. The family and friends leave for a church-hosted luncheon. The workers are left to conclude their final tasks, and except for them everyone leaves the cemetery.

Except for the dead. And now there's one more who will stay.

The brilliant light of the day before Halloween should fill me with anticipation and buoyancy. Not today, not this year. There's just too much weight to carry.

Boy, you're gonna Carry that Weight,
Carry That Weight a long time.
Boy, you're gonna Carry that Weight,
Carry That Weight a long time.

Shock and...well, just Shock

Back. Still no heat.

Possibly one of the most stressful and strange weekends of my life. See here for a few details (I'm the friend that called Michael), and more later.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Heat Watch: Day 3

Still none. Waiting on parts. Have begun to burn furniture.

Meanwhile, headed out of town for the weekend. Stay warm!

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

John Locke: Faith Healer

For you "Lost" fans, here's my theory about John Locke.

One place I think I deviate from a number of established fans is that I don't revel in the fact Locke has embraced his inner "hunter". I appreciate the fact that he fancies himself the Big White Hunter and is trying to reject the "farmer" aspect of his personality - in his flashbacks we see him repeatedly being taken advantage for his trusting and forgiving nature, so he naturally wishes to rebel against that persona by becoming Mr. Mystical Tough-Guy. I think, though, that he is a farmer and always will be - and that to grow as a character and a person, he needs to understand there can be as much strength in that nurturing, creating aspect of life rather than as a leader/hunter and that's where he needs to focus himself.

There's a big difference in his personalities in the flashbacks and how he acts on the island (a lot of that has to do with his being bald, too) - he seized the opportunity to "rebirth" himself after the crash with the healing of his legs and decided he could "rebirth" himself into that hunter persona he always wanted to have. In fact, it started earlier when he decided to go on Walkabout. But his true nature keeps coming through (having "faith" in the Island, the Hatch, and the Button to a fault) and the battle between the two natures doesn't do him any good.

Course, now he's going to go and rescue Jack/Sawyer/Kate and be The Big Man. We'll see how far he gets... because he's not a Hunter. He's pretending to be one.

Let me explain...

Before Locke land on the island he is a man who is doubly handicapped - 1) He has handicapped himself mentally (he thinks himself a social cripple - a farmer - and wants to escape that and become a hunter (go on a Walkabout), and 2) he's physically crippled (legs).

When he lands on the island, his legs are healed! The island is the place that can offer him redemption and rebirth into the new Hunter persona. Since nobody knows anything about him from the past, he can shed the Farmer and become the Hunter. Only he keeps screwing up because he doesn't know how to be a Hunter - he just wants to be. I mean, he can hunt and kill boar but he really wants to be a Leader and that takes more than tracking game.

Was he a Leader when he led Booth down the primrose path and ended up getting him killed? Nope. That's why Booth's come back to haunt him.

Was he a Leader when trying to take charge of the Hatch and the button? Nope. BOOM.

But here's the thing...

If he leaves the island he believes his legs will fail again and he'll have to go back to the way he was - in fact (here's the big revelation that's coming) I think his paralysis is psychosomatic. I don't think there was anything wrong with his legs in the first place. Sometime before he went to Australia for Walkabout, he convinced himself he was a cripple, so he became one. Most likely as a result of the commune experience, something will happen that causes something to snap in his brain - not his spine - and he loses the use of his legs because he thinks he deserves to. And he's eaten up with guilt and self-doubt because of it.

He thinks the island healed him, but in fact after the crash he did it himself - because there was never anything wrong with him in the first place. He just "had faith" and believed.

Heh. Locke the Faith Healer.

That's why he needs to understand he can have faith in himself as a Farmer, not a Leader, and make just as important a contribution to the group as the others (not the Others, but the other Lostaways).

Will he figure this out as he tries to rescue Jack and the others? Is this what Ben/Henry saw in him that made him want to "save" him?

Maybe we'll find some of that out tonight. I rather think it'll come in about two weeks... We'll see.

Gotta have faith.

Heat Watch: Day 2

There is none.

Tune in for Day 3...

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

You Don't Know What You've Got Till It's Gone...

(apologies to Joni Mitchell)

Came home last night after King & I rehearsal to find my wife bundled up in the chair. Peaking out from beneath a blanket or ten, she said, "We have no heat."


Resisting the urge to back up and come in again in hopes that it will become 2006 instead of 1806, I ask for details. Apparently there's not a lot of detail left to give - the heat pump isn't working. Yes, and those who live in the area know that last night was probably the coldest night of the season so far. And tonight will be even colder.

We eventually rebundled up and went to bed. Thankfully our home is warmer on the second floor where the bedrooms are than on the ground floor and the evening passed in relative comfort.

This morning a friend of mine came over to look at the heat pump with me. We have gas packs and apparently there was no gas getting into the unit outside, so no pilot lights were on. It's a self-igniting unit with the spark down into the unit (no need to be accessible for a match) but there was no gas smell at all and nothing came out of the bleed-off valve. If there had even been a little gas in the line there would've been a hiss, but there wasn't. Oddly enough, though, our hot water heater works fine and we were able to take hot showers (thank heaven for small favors).

I'm now waiting for my friend to consult with a heating and air guy he works with for more information. Hopefully it'll then just be a matter of determining where the gas is holding up....

Monday, October 23, 2006


Commission shelves Harber probe
Knox County Mayor Mike Ragsdale said today he was relieved the County Commission chose not to hear the issue of dirty political tricks by former county employee Tyler Harber.

"This whole thing was entirely politically motivated," Ragsdale said after the commission voted to withdraw a resolution on the issue. "We need to move beyond the past and political bickering."
Sometimes I feel really embarrassed to live in Knox County.

Obviously some arms got twisted, futures were threatened and skeletons unburied to make sure this issue doesn't see the light of day for a good while.

Thank goodness we have courageous, upright people representing the citizens of Knox County that stand for the truth.

(And I thought the Knoxville City Council was bad...)

Maybe I'll run for County Mayor. How hard can it be?


WATE is reporting that Commissioner Greg "Lumpy" Lambert --- (pardon me a moment. I always have to pause after saying that guy's nickname to compose myself) --- has requested the motion be withdrawn until a future date when Tyler Harber will supposedly make himself available for deposition.

Well, that's interesting.

This Just In...

Former Enron CEO Jeffrey Skilling has been sentenced to 24 years in prison.

After the verdict, Skilling was heard to cry repeatedly that he would "beat the rap" and would "be exonerated quickly". He then promptly threw himself under a bus.

Jurists quicky re-deliberated and cleared him of all charges.

Good night, and have a pleasant tomorrow...

The First Line

I'm still contemplating what I'm going to attempt to write for the National Novel Writing Month. I have a few good ideas, but I'd like a little assistance from the studio audience.

How about a first line? I know we're supposed to write the whole thing ourselves, but hey - I won't tell if you don't ;) Give me some good opening lines in the comments and maybe I'll use one of them!

Don't be too specific with names or places, because I don't want to lock myself into a setting just yet. But give a sentence that might grab a reader of a novel right out of the gate, and sets up the beginning action.

What can you come up with?

Needful Things

I'm rereading for the umpteenth time Stephen King's 1990 thriller Needful Things - which may actually have supplanted Insomnia as my favorite King novel.

Simply put, the story focuses on the demonic antics of a Leland Gaunt, who sets up shop in the fictional town of Castle Rock and wreaks havoc by selling the people the things they most desire in the world. Calling on their greed and selfishness, he uses them to turn their neighbors against each other. I won't ruin the ending, but suffice to say there's a reason the book is subtitled: "The Last Castle Rock Story".

Some of the "Needful Things" Mr. Gaunt pawns off on the unsuspecting townfolks are a mint condition signed Sandy Koufax baseball card, a framed photo of Elvis, a rod and reel of the exact model a man had as a small boy, a fox-tail a man remembered once hanging from his teen-ager car, a horserace game that predicted the outcome of races, a music box, a screwdriver set, a carnival glass lampshade, and an Egyptian amulet that cured a woman's arthritis.

If you were a character in the book, what would your "Needful Thing" be? What object, should the opportunity arise, could you picture yourself moving heaven and earth to purchase were it suddenly available and easily affordable?

Friday, October 20, 2006

Friday's Feast

Friday's Feast

Friday, October 20, 2006 - Feast One Hundred & Sixteen

Appetizer - What is your favorite beverage?

For years I would have answered Coca-Cola, but it has been supplanted, finally, by good old southern sweet tea (no lemon). I probably drink 5-8 glasses a day.

Soup - Name 3 things that are on your computer desk at home or work.

Well, looking around my desk at home I see:
  1. 3 chip clips, stacked neatly one on top of the other
  2. a red and blue duct tape wallet created by Brainy Boy. I don't know if there's any money in it... (checking) whoa, holy cow, there's a bunch of ones. Guess they're his...
  3. My Jurassic Park: The Ride baseball hat I bought at Universal Studios last year
What's in your wallet?

Salad - On a scale of 1-10 (with 10 being highest), how honest do you think you are?

Honestly? *snicker* I think I'm about an 7. I'm not sure people can be much higher than that, really. Unless, of course, they're lying.

Main Course - If you could change the name of one city in the world, what would you rename it and why?

Why in the world Wartburg, TN would've kept that name for all these years I have no idea. I guess I can't complain, it's kept me chuckling about it since I was a kid growing up. I guess if I could rename it I'd give it a very classical city name like others in Tennessee - we already have a Memphis, an Athens, an Alexandria and a Moscow. How about Rome? Buenos Aries? Wait, no, Constantinople. I hereby rename Wartburg Constantinople, TN. City officials, please make the necessary changes to the charter.

Dessert - What stresses you out? What calms you down?

Too many things happening at once stresses me out. Playing a computer game like "Civilization III" calms me down and relaxes me immensely.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Fan Belts and Teddy Bears

Speaking of time capsules (was I?), here's an interesting project.
We think there’s no one better suited to teach future generations what the world was like in 2006. For 30 days, from October 10 until November 8, Yahoo! users worldwide can contribute photos, writings, videos, audio – even drawings – to this electronic anthropology project. This digital data will be gathered and preserved for historical purposes.
Even if you aren't interested in participating or viewing the project, the website design is intriguing...

Oh, and for the many of you - literally, none in particular - who who wondering about the time capsule reference in last week's Friday's Feast, click here.

Education Gap

I recently had a discussion with two of the teens in the youth group at church. We were eating dinner and having a general chat about school and tests, and one of them mentioned she will be getting out early in December for break because she will have tested out of most of her exams.

I wasn't sure what she meant, so she explained that if you pass your tests during the year by a certain amount, you don't have to take the midterm (or final I presume). So she didn't need to go to class those days.

Growing up in the Knox County Public School System (lo, these 20+ years ago), I was surprised at the leniency in attendance required during exam times. We had 6 periods a day of 50 or so minutes each, with about 5-7 minutes between classes. Today's high school classes use a lot of block scheduling which means fewer but longer classes that last only a semester.

The discussion turned toward a rather nonchalant attitude toward skipping school - these are intelligent, talented and resourceful teens, but the stories they told on how they could easily ditch school for whatever reason with little notice from their parents or teachers left my jaw hanging open.

I then asked them about teachers, whether there were any teachers they'd had in high school that they particularly respected or enjoyed the classes more than other. No, was the response, they really didn't care for any of their teachers that much. Ho hum. Whatever.

I was rather appalled at the lack of interest being generated by either the teachers in their classrooms to engage these teens, or the parents that don't instill a sense of the wonder and discovery of learning to kids when they're younger.

Additionally, one of the girls goes to a local public high school, one to a private high school. Both are the same age and same social class.

Those of you who either have or had kids in high school (or are close to kids that are or were in high school recently) - how do their experiences with teachers and school compare to your own?

I could recall off the top of my head at least 5 teachers that made particular impressions on me in high school, either by challenging me to succeed or expanding my horizons to make learning interesting.

Is the education system collapsing around us while we fiddle away watching "Who Wants to Be The World's Greatest Dancer" or am I just being naive?

Monday, October 16, 2006

Get Well Soon

I'm a little out of it today - my wife is home sick with a stomach bug of some kind. Last week Brainyboy had pretty much the same thing.

I hate it when anyone in my family is sick. I always feel completely helpless, even for the little things.

I hope you feel better soon, L - I love you :)

Friday, October 13, 2006

Friday's Feast

Friday's Feast

Friday, October 13, 2006 - Feast One Hundred & Fifteen

Appetizer - Approximately how many hours per week do you spend reading other blogs?

I glance at blogs here and there during the day at work and in the evening as well - no set times, just here and there. Altogether I probably spend a couple hours total reading blogs.

Soup - Your community wants everyone to give one thing to put into a time capsule. What item would you choose to include?

I would put in a broken fan belt, a Cleopatra dress, a bottle of Cognac, a fish hook, some boxing gloves - and a teddy bear, to signify all the ones who came in here as boys, and left as men...

Oh, wait, am I on the right show?

Salad - What is the most interesting tourist attraction you've ever visited?

Most everyone who reads my site knows of my affection for Walt Disney World, so setting that aside - probably the most interesting tourist attraction would be the Caribbean Islands. My wife and I have cruised there twice and always found new and interesting things to see. From snorkling in St. Johns to kayaking in Barbados, exploring the black sand beaches of Dominica (seen in Pirates of the Caribbean II) and the dormant volcant of St. Lucia the islands are a marvel to visit.

Main Course - If you could give an award to anyone for anything, who would it be and what would the award be titled?

I hereby give my Blogger Buddy awards for 2006:

Most Likely to Become a Burlesque Dancer: Becky at Searching for Oz
Fair Weather Sports Fan Award: "Titans-loving-oops-except-when-they're-playing-the-Redskins" Michael at Big Orange Michael
Most Likely to Pass as a Cast Member of "The Office": Will at Hit Coffee.
The National Gallery of Art "Up-and-Coming" Award: - It's a tie between Teresa of Hatamaran and Nikki of Bedazzled
Most Likely to Junk it All and Head for Vegas With Another Blogger: Tish at The Kat House
Most Consecutive Rides on The Haunted Mansion Without Singing "Grim Grinning Ghosts": Philip at The Beast's Lair

Dessert - What do you think your favorite color reveals about your personality?

Green is my favorite color, and I think it truly signifies two things-well, three: 1) Although I wouldn't classify myself as an outdoorsman by any means, seeing a field of green grass or a mountain covered with trees is very soothing and comforting to me. I've lived in the East Tennessee area all my life and I could never exist in a concrete jungle. 2) Green is a neutral color in between the coolness of blues and purples and warmth of reds and yellows, which reflects my personality. I'm generally levelheaded and remain objective on a lot of issues. I can empathise with either side, and am not swayed by rhetoric or jingoism. Green signifies a peace reached through balance. 3) Who can argue with Kermit the Frog?

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Self Portrait Challenge - October (Week #2)

Take the October Self Portrait Challenge!
Look beyond the surface of your life, dig into your imperfect self and reveal it to us. I want to see the down and dirty you, the messy, gross and ugly you, the side of yourself that you always try to hide, give us some insight into your dreadful secrets. This can be your physical self or your personal space or within your wider life. Be not afraid!
For years I've held on to a number of insecurities and self-doubts about my true talents and skills.

By profession, I'm a computer programmer. By avocation I'm a musician. I've enjoyed some moderate success in both over the years, rising to the position of website coordinator for a local hospital system. I've also managed to use my abilities to play the piano, direct theatre and act into a satisfactory body of work for local shows. To most anyone's eyes I would be considered a success at not only making a good living at being creative in designing websites, but fulfilling dreams of musical and theatrical creativity and self-expression.

But self-assessments of my own skills and talents continue to leave me feeling quite fortunate in where I am and what I've accomplished. I feel sometimes as if life has been a series of fortunate breaks, right-place-at-the-right-time opportunities and pleas for help from those at the end of their rope.

I fear I don't have the programming skills necesary to truly produce work output that at the end of the day I can be proud of in its creativity, user-friendliness or thoroughness. I feel my web programming skills stopped evolving several years ago and I'm getting by on past glories. I don't want to own my own web design company, but I feel I've come to a rock and can go no further even within my own ambitions.

I am also a fair pianist, but make more than my fair share of mistakes. Truly accomplished musicians come and go through my sphere of influence and I see where my futures might lie had I truly enough talent, drive and expertise to succeed. I don't desire to perform to Broadway, but feel have been unable to overcome the hard places that keep me from pursuin more attainable goals.

Therefore, the second of the "hidden challenges", a part of me I try to hide, is my lack of confidence in my own professional and creative abilities.

The Two Sides of the Keyboard.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Missed It By That Much..

Walt Disney World was almost a half hour away...
As early as 1958, Walt Disney was disappointed that the area outside of Disneyland was littered with cheap, garish shops, hotels and restaurants that capitalized on the success of Disneyland.

Even worse, Walt felt that the surrounding area detracted from the overall guest experience and he sought to find a place with enough land to hold all of his dreams and where he could control the entire experience.

There were many areas Walt looked at for an East Coast location. Some of those areas included Niagara Falls, the Great Smokey Mountains, Washington, D.C. and in Florida itself areas that included Miami, Sarasota, and Ocala. For a variety of reasons, Walt finally settled on land located near Orlando.
Oh, and we were so close...

Friday, October 06, 2006

Diary of a Music Director 2006 - Part 1: "The King & I"

Another 7 weeks of pain and pleasure has begun. Last night was the first evening of rehearsals for the new show I am Music Directing, "The King & I" at the Oak Ridge Playhouse.

I'm going to try and chronicle my experiences as I did last year with "Annie" (here, here--oh, just browse October and November if you're interested. It's fascinating and insightful reading, I promise you..).

A couple of beginning observations. I'm a vocal director first off, and my strength is teaching and coaching vocalists to sing the various parts in a musical, both principal soloists and choruses. Interestingly, in this Rodgers & Hammerstein classic the choral work is very minimal - especially compared with their other shows such as "Oklahoma!" and "South Pacific" - and my vocal work won't take long. I have last night and tonight to work with the soloists, then three days next week to go over the choral parts. From then on until about a week before the show starts I'm the rehearsal pianist.

When the show starts into dress rehearsals I'm the orchestra leader - now, orchestra is a relative term in this level of amateur community theatre, because it usually just encompasses a piano, electronic keyboard, drums, bass and maybe a wind instrument or two. That's the plan for this show, but the challenge will be taking those instrumentalists and producing a musical sound that's compatible in emotion and scope with what a full orchestra can give to a production of this size.

It's a challenge, to be sure, but one I'm looking forward to because the music of this show is so rich and exotic. I can't wait to dig into the score!

One final note - Tink is in the show as one of the Royal Children. This is her first stage production, and I'll be there each night to watch over her. It should be quite interesting!

"The King & I" will be presented at the Oak Ridge Playhouse November 17-19, 23-26 and December 1-3, 2006.

Friday's Feast

Friday's Feast

Friday, October 06, 2006 - Feast One Hundred & Fourteen

Appetizer - Name a song you know by heart.

I know the whole beginning and end themes to "Lidsville".

Wow. I can practically hear your being impressed.

Soup - What will you absolutely not do in front of another person?

I can't go to the bathroom in front of someone else, unless it's in a public bathroom. If I'm at home, I gotta have privacy.

Salad - How often do you use mouthwash and what kind do you like?

I'm not sure I've ever used mouthwash, at least not regularly. I've never been able to stand those minty tastes...blech.

Main Course - Finish this sentence: I am embarrassed when...

I am embarrassed when...I try to accomplish a task that I should know how to do but can't. In other words, if it's assumed that I have a particular skill for a particular job but I run into the limits of my experience or skills when I should actually know how to do it, it's quite embarrassing.

Dessert - What was the last food you craved?

I'm always craving potato chips of some kind. Right now, I'm craving them... it's become an obsession.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Strange But Possibly True Things Learned on LOST Last Night

  • Stephen King's "The Dark Tower (Book 7)" came out on September 21, 2004.

    Oceanic Flight 815 crashed on September 22, 2004.

    Coincidence? If that's really "The Dark Tower" they were discussing, then I think not. If nothing else it proves they have access (really DIRECT access) to the outside world.

  • I think Jack's father is alive somewhere on the island, although I think less now that he's the mastermind behind the experiments. I'm still thinking Kate's father is the best bet.

  • I will almost be disappointed if the bear cage Sawyer was in housed polar bears, because that would mostly invalidate Walt's possible psychic influence in creating the polar bear from the first couple of episodes. I think it was assumed up till now he (or something) created the polar bear with his fantastic mutant mental powers, after seeing a picture of one in a comic book (not to mention owning a stuffed one when he was younger). If it was already there as part of the Others' experiments, it diminishes Walt's importance....

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Some Further Points on the "Bacchanalia"...

A couple more salient points about the "Sweet 15 Birthday Party" controversy that has gripped Knoxville the last few days...

  • How much more of a hue and cry would there have been if instead of 5 hunky topless Webb High boys at the party, it was 5 curvacious Webb High cheerleaders in skimpy swimsuits fawning over a birthday boy?? Nope, no sexual undertones there. Guess it's ok for teen boys to be "eye candy" to a teenybopper girl crowd...

  • Can anyone find it in any parents' magazine where Watching "My Super Sweet 16 Birthday Party" or whatever it's called on MTV with your kid is recommended? Advised? Looked favorably on? I know it's good practice to watch TV with your child, but when is this show or really anything on MTV these days good to show your teen?

  • I do keep seeing detractors of the party take shots at Brittany herself, which I think are unwarranted. What 15-year-old wouldn't eat up all the money and attention thrown at her? Accordint to all the official (and unofficial) sources I've read, she's actually a pretty level-headed young woman and a good student. Let's lay off the "bratty/snotty" comments directed at Brittany and hope she stays that way. There are much better targets for criticism here.

  • Hey, dad - if I were you and you and stepmom are as swell as people say you are...I'd look into some more favorable visitation and custody rights. I'm just sayin'....

  • Supporters of the mom, including the mom herself, have responded publicly on the web and in letters to the editor. Common to most of the defenses have been three points: 1) A 15-year-old girl "deserves" to have the very best birthday party that can be thrown for her, b) We are all "jealous" of the fact that she can throw this party for her daughter and we can't, and 3) people shouldn't "judge" others when they don't know the whole story

    While the correct way to deal with this situation should be obvious, I'll spell it out because so many people seem to have such a wrong idea.

    First of all, yes, our children deserve the best we can give them. They deserve to have good food, good clothes, warm beds, education, free time, access to opportunities, fun, friends, sports and most of all love and attention. They deserve these things because they are precious human beings who are basically directionless and defenseless in the early years of their lives. However, they also deserve instruction, discipline, structure, challenges, examples, rules, responsibilities and guidance as well as all the others. Parents should be constantly aware of providing all of these things to their children. If you fall short in one area, you risk raising a child that's either so spoiled they expect all the good things in life or so cowed by life they expect nothing but hardness and disappointment. Finding the correct balance is absolutely essential in raising a well-rounded, mature child that will someday be ready to be a responsible adult.

    So in some cases, while we want to give kids as much of a good time as we can when they are children, all that fun has to be tempered with responsibility and an idea of excess. These folks don't realize that, while taken separately each of the elements of this party might not've been too bad by themselves, all together shows this teen that the more money you can throw at something, the less meaningful each individual part becomes. And when you throw so much money into one bash, the actual fact that the girl was turning 15 became an afterthought for gifts, extravegance, and any other descriptor you want to throw in. In the girl's eyes now, there is no reason to ever expect restraint or an idea of good taste as long as there's more money to buy even more things.

    No, a 15-year-old girl does not "deserve" to have such a Bacchanalia (and to a teen, it probably was the equivalent of a Bacchanalia, regardless of whether there was just eye candy, pixie sticks and oh-so-innocent "booty shaking" instead of wine, women and song) - she deserves to have a responsible parent that knows the meaning of restraint and responsibility. So far she doesn't have that. Thank goodness Brittany seems to be bright enough to be developing that sense on her own.

    Second, no, we're not jealous. If I threw that kind of party for my son or daughter I'd expect to be led away in handcuffs for contributing to the delinquency of (several) minors or a straightjacket. Contrary to popular belief, most parents don't have to buy their kids' love.

    Finally, are we "judging" you? That seems to be a popular pejorative these days, that anyone who finds fault with the way others are living their lives or raising their children is "judging" them. I seem to remember that's a pretty popular term used by guests of the Jerry Springer show, so I suppose they came by it honestly.

    No, we're not really judging anyone. I'm not actually saying anyone's necessarily a bad person, although methods leave much to be desired. It's quite possible there is actually a lot of love involved, and this is the only way she knows to express it. I don't know her, and can't judge her on that, obviously.

    But if I and the majority of Knoxville parents (which I'm hope feel the same way) see the obvious damage being done to an innocent 15-year-old's values, ethics and morals that was done a few weeks ago, then yes - I'm going to point that out very quickly and firmly to make sure everyone understands what is going wrong.

    And not just yes, but hell yes.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Self Portrait Challenge - October (Week #1)

This month's Self Portrait Challenge is going to be tough...
Look beyond the surface of your life, dig into your imperfect self and reveal it to us. I want to see the down and dirty you, the messy, gross and ugly you, the side of yourself that you always try to hide, give us some insight into your dreadful secrets. This can be your physical self or your personal space or within your wider life. Be not afraid!
Below is why I like to wear baseball caps (even though Somebody says I wear them too high). This is what makes me look like a combination of Frasier Crane and Josh Lyman from "The West Wing". I love my dad, but it's all his fault.

The high forehead - yes, there it is. The bane of my existence. Well, one of them.

Interestingly, I was going to crop out the poster of Malificent on the wall behind me, but the gout of flame she's breathing forth right on the top of my head was way too apropos...

It's Not Just a Cobb Salad - It's a Whole Cornfield...

My wife's Cobb Salad today at our anniversary lunch:

And that was after she ate as much as she wanted. Yes, it was that huge. I think after a while it started to develop its own gravitational field...

Boy, Now I've Done It.

For some insane reason, I've joined the National Novel Writing Month Challenge.

Starting November 1, I have one (1) month to write a 50,000 word novel.

Ha. Easy like cake. Piece of pie.

Well, this is where you come in... I need an idea. What should Barry's Great American Novel be about? What scintillating work of fiction should erupt from my head, much like the very likeness of Aphrodite herself from the forehead of Zeus, that will astound the literary world and rock the very foundation of society itself?

And if you figure that out, tell J.D Salinger, cause I ain't writing it.

But I'll take anything - any ideas are welcome. I may even (if I'm allowed) post excerpts here as I go. If I actually do it.


A "Football Move"

Tennessee Titans and former UT standout Albert Haynesworth is in a peck of trouble.

By now, most everyone knows how Haynesworth stomped on the head of Dallas Cowboy Andre Gurode during their game on Sunday. And how Gurode required 30 stitches, Haynesworth was ejected and subsequently suspended for five games without pay.

There is continued talk about whether criminal actions should be brought against Haynesworth (although apparently the Nashville police are waiting for Gurode to actually press charges before pursuing the matter) or whether Gurode to sue Haynesworth. Apparently there is NFL precedent for this kind of action, so I've read.

What Haynesworth did was reprehensible and embarrassing to the Titans and to UT. That's a given. The five-game suspension was enough or not enough, depending on your own opinion. That's not at issue here, really.

I'm just curious at the possibility of criminal or civil charges being based on what a football player does on the field. I watched Chris Collinsworth during halftime of a game later that day comment that he believed it was a criminal act, and Haynesworth should've been led off the field in handcuffs. And that if someone had struck him in such a way on the street, the guy would've been in jail.

But while stomping is extremely dangerous and could've resulted in Gurode losing an eye, well...football's an extremely rough sport as we all know. When a football player goes on the field, the possibility of extreme injury is always there. QB's take ferocious sacks, linemen pound on each other, RB's get their legs cut out from under them... are these criminal acts? No, of course not - they're part of the game and not actionable under local laws.

Now, if I was standing on the street corner and somebody blindside-tackled me like a linebacker sacking a QB, would I have grounds to file for assault? Sure. But I wouldn't if I were a QB and that same guy sacked me on the field.

If I was standing on the strees corner and a somebody picked me up and threw me to the ground, I'd have them arrested. If I was a Wide Receiver getting caught in the backfield on an End Around, I'd be embarrassed for not being quicker around the corner (and pretty sore).

So there's a difference between what's actionable on and off the field. Where, legally, does that leave an opening for someone filing criminal or civil charges against Haynesworth?

Well, you say, what he did was not a "football move" as they like to call certain plays these days. It wasn't in the course of a tackle or block. It was clearly retaliatory, clearly in anger and caused injury.

True. But who's to say the Alabama defender that broke UT Quarterback Tony Robinson's leg almost in two in 1985 wasn't acting deliberately? I don't think he was, but who knows? What about the guy that snapped Joe Theismann's leg (shudder)? Or the guy who gave Kansas City QB Trent Green a concussion and has caused him to miss at least four games so far? Those injuries probably weren't intentional, but they could have been as far as anyone knows. Haynesworth's was just a lot more obvious.

But what I'm getting at is none of those injuries (as far as I know) were ever pursued by the injured party in the courts. They were unfortunate parts of the game, and I doubt the law would've (or could've) gone after any of the injurers.

So, tell me, if I - a Quarterback - can't sue someone for sacking me on a late hit and breaking my leg, why should Gurode be able to sue or prosecute Haynesworth? Where is that actual legal line drawn between "a football move" or even one that causes serious injuries and a crime?

(For another example of what I'm talking about, see Clemens, R. vs Piazza, M.)

I just have a hard time buying the arbitrary line drawn between purposeful injury and the injuries and violence that are just part of the game, as far as what should be considered illegal. It seems if you're going to exempt a vicious, bone-jarring, concussion-causing hit you should exempt a cleat to the head. Legally speaking, that is.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Random Cool Website Find Du Jour

Everything you wanted to know about the songs of the great Warner Brothers cartoon, One Froggy Evening, including sheet music and sound clips for "Hello Ma Baby!"

Our Neighbors, Part 1

For the folks from out of town, these are the types of people we share our city with:

A Super Sweet 15 for Farragut teen
On Sept. 23, Leslie [Gibbs] weathered the storm and threw her daughter the ultimate 15th-birthday bash at Maple Grove Inn in West Knoxville.


Five young hunks didn't require an invitation to the party. The five Webb High School athletes were handpicked to mingle and dance with partygoers. Their uniform: pink bow ties, jeans, and a coat of spray glitter on their bare upper bodies.


Around 7 p.m., Hall, the invitation deliverer, announces Brittany's arrival. The DJ cranks up "Let's Get It Started" by the Black Eyed Peas. With her court in tow wearing pink and green satin evening gowns and shiny wings, she enters on a green litter trimmed with pink feathers, carried by four of the shirtless Webb athletes. The original plan had Brittany coming in on her quarter horse, Riley. The fifth Webb footballer, Bo Johnson, dressed in military-style regalia, awaits her.
I could quote on and on, but I just keep getting more and more nauseous. Suffice to say, the evening culminates with the presentation of a 2006 BMW Z4. To a 15-yr-old girl. Who can't even drive by herself yet.

Reactions from the public on the Sentinel's feedback page are scathing, and deservedly so. This poor girl's mother... I honestly can't say what I'm thinking for fear of being sued for libel. With a total budget for the party in 5 figures - 90% of which could have been used for a multitude of more philanthropic gestures that would've resonated throughout the girl's life - mom has securely bought her daughter's love and affection. Nice job.

And for those criticizing the Sentinel for covering this event - and you know who you are - think about this. The entire article could also be read as a satirical indictment of the occasion. A look into the life of a mother whose only way to reach her daughter is through money, cars, food and borderline debauchery.

UPDATE: Regarding the backlash against the Sentinel for covering the story, editor Jack McElroy writes:
How dare we cover, in a non-judgmental way, an event that raises a plethora of questions about values in 21st century America and East Tennessee! What of waste of time, for us and apparently for the thousands and thousands of people who invested their mornings devouring the story in print and online and discussing it across town, merrily condemnnig all involved.

I love it.
I love it too. It's amusing, yet sad to watch people miss the entire point.

Missed It.

Well, I missed the Knoxville Blogger Bash this weekend. I start rehearsals for a new show this week, and I needed some last minute kids-time, plus to do some yard work I'd been neglecting...

Sorry, guys, wish I could've been there - let's plan another one really soon, and I promise I'll make this one!

Quik Quiz

Ok, what's worse than having to buy a full set of new tires for your car on Saturday?

I'll give you a second...




Ok, time's up.

Here's what's worse.

Having to buy two full sets of new tires for both cars on Saturday.


(Donations accepted)