Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Danger, Will Robinson

Just passed a convoy of four trucks from The Washington Group on Pelissippi Parkway, headed south. I guess toward the airport.

Among many other things, they are in the business of nuclear and hazardous waste disposal services. Which was pretty much confirmed by the big yellow "RADIOACTIVE" stickers on the sides of all the trucks.

Yikes. I thought about taking a picture with my cell phone but was afraid some security goons would force me off the road and rough me up.

Monday, July 28, 2008

I Hatez Libruls

So now it's being reported the church shooter hated liberals
The shotgun-wielding suspect in Sunday’s mass shooting at the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church was motivated by a hatred of “the liberal movement,” and he planned to shoot until police shot him, Knoxville Police Chief Sterling P. Owen IV said this morning.
That struck a chord with me, but not for the reason you might expect.

There's a local radio station in town that broadcasts a show hosted by a husband and wife team. I don't want to name the show or link to it because I don't want to give them publicity.

Occasionally I will tune in while in the car, mainly when one of my sports shows is at commercial, and also mainly to hear what they have to say about local issues (county government, schools, etc). But a lot of what I end up hearing (and fascinated with, in a watching-the-accident-as-you-pass-on-the-highway kind of way) is a lot of deep-seated contempt toward liberals.

Now, I know you're thinking, "What? A conservative local talk show? In Knoxville??? Who whoulda thunk?" And as we all know there's nothing conservatives love better than bashing liberals (and vice-versa) so it's nothing really new here. Rush Limbaugh and Jeneanne Garafalo have turned this sort of thing into an art form.

But there's always been something a little over-the-top about this particular radio show in its discussion style. There's haughty, and then there's haughty. There's contempt, and then there's contempt. Substitute the word "black" for "liberal" and you'd think you were listening to something from the 50's in Mississippi. In fact, they and some of their callers don't simply call them liberals - they're "Libs". "The Libs" say this, and "The Libs" do that. Insert your own racist-derogatory terms to understand the tone and bias that comes across on this radio show.

And, to top it off, there's always a taste of Christian apologism that they bring to their broadcasts. They publicly avow their religious convictions (which I happen to agree with) yet their actions betray their beliefs.

Here's the thing: they're perfectly free to broadcast whatever they like. Just because some of it rubs me the wrong way, that's my own thing to deal with. I can turn them off anytime I like. If they want to say how much they hate liberals - fine. That's totally their right to feel, and right to say. If they want to broadcast their opinions of whether gays might be immoral deviants (a policy they also seem to espouse) that's fine and totally within their rights as well.

But people listen. And people learn. And people follow. And people act.

The media's reach is wide and their influence is vast. People's capacity for tacking onto a movement or belief and letting their flames be fanned by those they listen to in the media is well-documented.

When you speak publicly how much you hate certain groups of people, how certain groups of people are contemptible, and stupid, and how some barely deserve to exist in our society - the message I get from this radio show - then you have to understand that some people will be listening to you, and some people may agree with you.

And no matter how well intentioned you may be, some evil people may energized to act. I have no idea if the shooter listened to this radio show (his hatred of Christians makes me doubt it), but he likely listened to something like it. Or he talked to and associated with people who do listen to it, or read literature about it, or frequented websites or blogs that mirror it, and it increased his hatred. To a point where he felt he had to act. When groups of people are marginalized in the media, it become much easier for these evil people to find targets for their hatred. "Didn't get a job? Must've been the libruhls! Or the gays! Lost my food stamps? Must've been those Muslims! Or the blacks! Or the ________'s!" (again, you fill in the blank of the favorite compartmentalized labeled group of your choice)

And here we are, a day after, dealing with the aftermath.

Be careful what you say. Children Will Listen.

What's Left to Say?

One of the things I find hard about writing a blog and keeping it fresh is thinking of something interesting to say.

There are plenty of bloggers that can always find a unique or noteworthy commentary to make about, well most anything.

I've thought a good while about the shooting that happened here in Knoxville yesterday morning at a local church. At this point, 2 people have died, about 5 more are in serious or critical condition in the hospital, and the shooter is in custody. Signs are pointing to some kind of hate crime, whether against the church or Christianity or gays or whatever is still uncertain.

I could have joined in the number of local blogs yesterday and "reported" on it but I didn't. I could have at least posted an "our thoughts and prayers go out to the victims and their families" post but I didn't. There wasn't anything new I could add that hadn't already been covered elsewhere, and sometimes to me the "thoughts and prayers" messages fall a little flat. That's just some of the dark cynicism I find in myself peeking out, I suppose.

But I still felt I would be remiss if I didn't say something about it. I wouldn't be a proper Knoxville blogger. People might thing I was cold and heartless or uncaring.

Let me tell you how I found out about it. During our 11 o'clock service yesterday at a Methodist Church only a few miles from Tennessee Valley Unitarian, our minister told the congregation. I was in the middle of a (discreet) conversation with a fellow sitting next to me and missed most of what the minister said. During the offertory, I pulled up local news on my cell phone and read what had happened.

Still, the full impact didn't hit us until we got in the car after the service and listened to the local news-talk radio station, and got home and watched coverage on local TV. I logged into Twitter to follow local reaction, cruised around my Bloglines news feeds to see if any eyewitness accounts were being reported and then tried to put it out of my mind.

Laura and I watched the finale of The Next Food Network Star, of which I already knew the outcome.

Last night we attended our weekly small group session and discussed several points of the incident. Before my son went to sleep we prayed for the victims, their families and I especially included the shooter in the prayers.

When I woke up this morning, I realized I'd been having disturbing dreams - I felt physically ill waking up - and upon reflection I think I'd been trying to make sense of everything while sleeping. Why? What if he'd come to our church? What would I have done? What systems are in place in Knoxville and Knox County by the government to warn local churches instantly that one man and maybe more could be targeting their Sunday morning worship services? How does this affect my views on guns? What can we do to make things safer? How do we forgive, how do we forget, how do we continue to live our lives in the shadows of gunmen?

I don't know if my sleep will be any easier tonight. It certainly won't be for those involved and especially those kids. I can't imagine what would be going through my kids' heads if they'd witnessed something like that. Would I have had the courage to stand up and take a shotgun blast to protect my family and friends like Greg McKendry?

Someone asked last night at small group - if you had the opportunity to live your life over again, would you do it? Do the high points outweigh the low points enough to make you want to do it all over again? I go to thinking about what a great childhood I had - I would live it over in a heartbeat.

Now some kids, because of what happened yesterday, have an indelible stain on their childhoods. Something that hopefully a lot of love, attention, caring and maybe therapy may be able to soften. But it will never be erased.

Thanks, mister, for proving to us once again it's a Hard Knock Life.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Food, Glorious Food

I am obsessed.

Actually, my whole family is.

Most of the time the TV is on in our living room. Sometimes we're actually home to watch it. While occasionally we actually sit down to watch a show, most of the time it was just some necessary white noise to our daily routine. But to have a consistent, non-offensive, bland-as-vanilla-pudding TV white noise, we had to pick a channel. Something non-controversial and one nothing would likely come on our kids couldn't see. And that maybe had some interesting shows. We chose HGTV - Home & Garden Television, produced by our own local near and dear Scripps Networks.

Well, that went on for a while. We never really got into any of the shows, but it was nice to have something on the TV to just plop down, watch a few minutes of someone designing a deck or patio we'd never own, or refurbishing a rundown one-bedroom shack into a 10-bed, 9-1/2 bath McMansion. But we didn't really have a lot invested in it.

Then one day, somehow...someway... the channel changed. I don't know how it happened - maybe I pressed the wrong button on the remote. Maybe little elves invaded. Maybe the kids went too far looking for Nickelodean. All I know is now, for the last year or so, we have found a new household obsession that sucks out all the hours of our day, dominates our evening, and has even....yes even caused me to break out the pots and pans, shop for fresh Thyme, and contemplate the finer points of preparing quiche...

Food NetworkThe Food Network has taken over our lives.

Oh! Glorious, the possibilities. The varieties! The worlds of culinary sophistication and innovation! Me, who for 40 years has barely been able to make more than a basic cheese sandwich without burning it have now realized that cooking could be....could be..... FUN?

I've made the aforementioned quiche for a gathering of friends. I made Autumn Potato Gratin with cream and sage for Thanksgiving last year. I've been given cookbooks for Christmas, and made a fettucine with sausage tomato sauce, for goodness sake... I may just be getting good at this.

But anyway, in honor of the season finale of our favorite Food Network show, The Next Food Network Star (airing this Sunday at 10pm EDT), I want to share with all of you the amazing shows we love to watch.

Final ThreeKelseyThe Next Food Network Star - For weeks, 10 contestants have cooked, presented, dished and prayed their way through a competition of food smarts, personality, and likeability in order to be awarded next year their own cooking show on the network. My personal favorite, Kelsey, was eliminated 2 weeks ago, and the finale is between actor and improv comedian Adam, big talker Aaron and closet Romulan Lisa. I'm pulling for Aaron because he has the right combination of cooking skills and personality to make a good show. Two years ago the winner of this reality show was a guy named Guy, who now hosts:

Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives - Guy travels the country, profiling off the path, hole-in-the-wall restaurants with the best roadside food in the country. Not long ago he profiled a place on Magnolia Ave. in Knoxville that serves to die for onion rings, which I'm totally going to have to check out.

30-Minute Meals and $40 a Day are Rachel Ray's shows, and she of course is too perky for words. You just want to squeeze her cheeks. You pick which ones. Ahem. Anyway, she's friendly and enjoyable to watch (if she doesn't annoy you too quickly).

Throwdown with Bobby Flay - Bobby Flay competes with other chefs to see if he can best their own signature dish. I've seen him do macaroni and cheese, cheesecake, pulled pork, cakes and other items. At the end of the episode, someone judges to see whose version of the particular dish is best. Bobby usually loses, which is good because goodness knows we don't need this guy to get too cocky...

Good Eats - I want to be Alton Brown. I want to host this show, and I think I'd be pretty darn good at it, too. I may start my own web version of this show, or something like it come to think of it. Anyway, Alton takes a particular aspect of food or cooking each episode and dissects in until you know its history, lineage, background, varieties, molecular structure, DNA sequencing and any other obsessive detail you can think of to say about, like, carrots. Or mac & cheese. Or pasta. Or tacos. Or whatever. This guy is great, and seriously, if I can find a topic I am so doing what this guy does as a vidcast on the web.

Unwrapped takes a food product such as processed cheese, margarine, "comfort food", candy, cereal or other commercial product and shows how it's conceived, manufactured, and brought to the store's shelves. This one can be a little dry at times, but when it finds a subject that's really interesting it can be engrossing. Particularly something like candy bars.

Dinner: Impossible - This season there's a new host, one of the Iron Chefs Michael Symon. I'm not totally sold on the new guy yet (he's only had one episode) but the concept of the show is fun. The host is given a task, obstensively by a "Mission: Impossible"-type voice, to prepare a huge meal for a large group of people in a set amount of time. He draws out the menu and is provided with a kitchen, the necessary food material, and a staff of chefs to help him out. It's the time limit and the setting that makes the show exciting - in the past the previous host (Robert Irvine, who was kicked off the show because it turned out he lied about his training and experience background) had to cook at a Renaissance Fair like they did in the past, cook for a Pixar gathering, passengers on a cruise ship, and more. The first new episode Michael cooked a huge meal for the workers on a Boardwalk, and had to "gourmet" up Boardwalk food for them. Good fun.

Food Network Challenge - A competition between three-five chefs, usually pastry chefs, to create the best themed dish. Most of the time I watch this show, it's about cakes. Several chefs and their assistants have nine hours to completely create a cake based on, say, Disney villains, Pixar characters, classic cartoons, "most extreme", etc. Then they're judged on originality and style and the winner gets $10,000. The big challenge in these competitions is to not get too ambitious and try to do too much. One time Scar's (from "The Lion King") head fell off. And Mike and Sully from "Monsters, Inc." collapsed. You never know what's going to happen.

Finally, my personal favorite:
Ace of Cakes - Ah, Duff, you big lug. The bald, goateed baker who frequently sports a backward baseball cap or toboggan in even the most formal of settings. He and the staff of Charm City Cakes (a real, honest-to-goodness special-order bakery in Philadelphia) spend every episode making all manner of cakes for $1,000 minimum order customers. Guitar-shaped cakes, cakes that look like the set of the play "Avenue Q", a cake of Hogwarts castle for the premiere of one of the Harry Potter movies, a Super Bowl Cake for Colts vs. Bears, armadillo cakes, shipping depot cakes, roulette wheel cakes, cakes that move, cakes that explode, cakes that look like Corvettes. But what makes this show great is the cast - Duff is the main guy, Geof is the soft-spoken and dry-witted main assistant. There's the red-headed receptionist that is the smart-alec, and several other young assistants that each have their own personalities. This is a winner.

A couple of other shows on Foot Network I don't care for. I don't like Iron Chef America at all, nor can I stand anything with Paula Dean's face (or *shudder* voice) in it (sorry, mom). Emeril Live! was one of our favorites until his contract ran out and it went off the air.

So check it out. If you already have an interest in cooking, or just the sociology of food in general, you may get stuck there. And if you have no interest in cooking, well watch it anyway!

UPDATE: In researching links, I came across the site for The Next Food Network Star and they spoiled the finale! Interviews with the two people that didn't win are already up on their personal pages! So now I already know who wins... :( Bad form, Food

UPDATE II: Looks like they've taken down the videos that spoil the finale. It's safe to view the finalist pages again!

Thursday, July 24, 2008


Doug and Dr. Helen both have good posts today about the tendency in society to demonize men for interacting with children. These days, almost any male is treated with suspicion if they stray too near a child, however innocently. The predatory pedophile has poisoned the potential beneficial relationships some men can have with children to create near paranoia.

In particular, I value the healthy, mentoring relationships I've have with the kids I'm around at my church (preschool on up through high school in teaching music and Sunday School). So many kids today grow up without loving, healthy respectful parental and father-figure relationships we can't just let all that slide because we fear a pedophile is lurking behind every corner.

Here's what I commented on Doug's post:
I work with kids in my church, and have always been apprehensive about the amount of affection I show them. However, apprehensive does not mean cold and distant, so I don’t really hesitate to show the kind of attention any father might show a child. Knowing their parents helps, of course, but I have no problem speaking with, playing with, or even showing fatherly affection to another child as long as it’s in the open and obvious.

We’re teaching our children that every male is a potential predator (which, I suppose technically is true but there’s potential and there’s potential) which teaches them not to trust anyone, especially male father figures.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

What I Liked and Didn't Like About "The Dark Knight" (spoilers abound)

I went to see the 10:20 IMAX showing last night at the Regal in Turkey Creek. *yawn* I'm tired this morning! Getting home at 1:00 am isn't like it used to be...

What I Liked:
  • Heath Ledger's Joker wasn't nearly as cringe-worthy as I was afraid it would be. He seemed quite demented enough to be a Joker, and that was good. I liked the ever-changing story of his origin, his being an "agent of chaos", the constant double-crossing of the mob guys and the small bits of genuine enjoyment of what he was doing was fun.
  • The continuity in storylines between the first and second movies. I didn't even remember Wayne Manor had been destroyed in "Batman Begins".
  • Aaron Eckhart made a fantastic Harvey "Two-Face" Dent. Dent is probably my favorite Batman villain and it was a perfectly logical to see how he turned from crusading DA to bitter, avenging maniac. The CGI/makeup on his scarred face was perfectly chilling and better than I had hoped it would be.
  • The explosion of the hospital in IMAX was maybe the most amazing effect I've seen on screen, both visually and audially. The audience actually applaud some after the explosion was over (I'm assuming for the effect, not the action)
  • Gary Oldman as Lt./Commissioner Gordon was great, and exactly how he should be played. A conflicted, determined cop whose heart was in exactly the right place. He had a much bigger role than Gordon usually does in Batman stories which was deserved.
  • Seeing Richard Alpert from Lost as the Mayor of Gotham City was a pleasant surprise. Wow, he does get around!
  • I dig multiple, fake-out endings :)
What I Did Not Like
  • Christian Bale as Bruce Wayne/Batman was atrocious. An abomination. Easily the worst Batman performance since the guy from "Super Friends", and that's saying something. He was better in the first movie, but amazingly bland in this one. His deep-octave, menacing, brooding, rumbling, gravelly voice as Batman was half the time indecipherable and the other half just silly. The dialogue written for him didn't help, but that's just how Batman's supposed to talk. Bale did much better as Bruce Wayne, but I still think he's too young for the part. I found myself not missing Batman when he wasn't on the screen at all.
  • Killing off Harvey "Two-Face" was criminal. Not only would he have made an amazing next-movie villain, his story was just beginning. He never had a chance to actually become a "villain," just a grief-stricken guy who went crazy for blaming those who were involved in Rachel's death and his disfigurement. Maybe I'll be lucky and he's not really dead, like Gordon was.
  • Speaking of Gordon's death fake-out. Hmm. A little divided on this one. I'll give it a pass for now because it was a fun fake-out but ordinarily if a character's dead, he should stay dead. I don't feel that way about Harvey, though :) Faking out Gordon's wife and kids, though? Not cool.
  • Screwing around with Two-Face's origin (and the Joker's, to a lesser degree). In the comics and original movies, Dent's face was scarred when a mob boss threw acid on him during a trial. Joker was "created" when he fell into a vat of acid. Neither stories are so anymore. It's not that big of a deal, but when you're a Batman fan and kind of expecting the courtroom acid throw to happen eventually you get out of the movie a little waiting for it to happen.
  • Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine are a little wasted as their characters. I've read reviews where they've been hailed for their performances, but I didn't feel they were given enough to do that couldn't have been done by anyone. Their performances were plot-driven and not character-driven.
  • Maggie Gyllenhaal as Rachel did a very nice job so no complaint there - I just thought, up until a couple days before the movie opened, that she was actually Kirsten Dunst. The resemblance is remarkable, and it took me out of the movie a couple of times wondering why Spiderman's girlfriend was hitting on Batman and Harvey Dent. That's not the producer's fault and certainly not hers, but you'd think somebody would have noticed the resemblance and found another actress that looked more like Katie Holmes (who played Rachel in "Batman Begins")
  • The mob guys were all pretty blatantly ethnic - the Italian guy, the Latino guy, the black guy, the Oriental guy... Just kind of odd in today's PC movie-making. It didn't really bother me, I just thought it a little strange.
  • Ok, this really bugged me. Batman operates out of the BatCave, not the BatBasement. I know it was "being repaired" but that stark basement set was really, really bland and boring and a little claustrophobic for being that wide - I kept expecting them to hit their heads on the ceiling. Really, it couldn't have been worked out to move Batman back home sometime in the movie?
  • The whole subplot with Lucius Fox's R&D department, the money moving around, the little weaselly guy who wants to reveal Batman's identity - didn't like it. Just too much in an already-bursting-with-plot movie.
  • Talk about a cliche - "And here Mr. Wayne/Mr. Bond/Max we have the latest in crimefighting/spy equipment. It's a pen that doubles as a machine gun and cell phone, and also carries a lethal.... whooooooooosh - *CHUNK!!!!* (Ow!!!) - sir, perhaps you should read the owners manual first?" "Sorry about that, Chief..."
  • Being that I work for a hospital system, seeing a hospital blown up was more disturbing than normal. That's fine, just saying my reaction to that particular choice. I also cringe when children actors are used in dangerous, tense situations like the standoff with Harvey, Gordon and his family at the end. Again, not a criticism per se, I just don't like to see kid characters in mortal, immediate danger. One of the (many, many, many.....) reasons I didn't like "War of the Worlds" last year.

While there are many more "Didn't Likes" than "Likes", they still pretty much balance out in quality. I enjoyed the movie for the most part - I'll give it a B-. For those that are thinking it's now the BEST SUPERHERO MOVIE EVER.... I just have to continue to point you here.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Octagon Recruiting

Those wacky viral marketing guys from "Lost" are at it again.!

Just before the end of this year's season finale, a "commercial" aired for something called Octagon Global Recruiting, a division of the fictional Dharma Initiatve. They were "advertising" for recruits for some sort of project, and said they'd be in the San Diego area at the end of July.

That coincides with the dates of Comic-Con, and sure enough they will have a booth there, to "recruit". Whatever that means. The emails went out today:

Octagon Global Recruiting, on behalf of the Dharma Initiative, is pleased to announce that Dharma's Head of Recruiting, Mr. Hans Van Eeghen, has confirmed his availability for the launch of our latest recruiting drive at Comic-Con 2008...
What's also interesting if you go to that webpage and view the source code, these messages in comments stand out:

…If you’re reading this, wanna hear something cool?
I’ve got intel about his little “recruitment drive.”
They’re doing some kind’ve personality/IQ testing or something down in SD for ComicCon.
Buddy of mine works down there and has the approvals for their “booth,” he says once you go in no one knows what happens inside and you need an appointment to get in. He also said to make sure you’ve got your Bluetooth on and visible – he’s rigged up a little something.


The whole thing sounds like elitist B.S., doesn’t it?
Well, I’m getting in that booth and taking the test.
As many times as I have to before I “pass” (whatever that means?)
And then…
If I can?
I’m gonna tape it so EVERYONE can see what these idiots are up to.
Should be fun, right?
See ya in SD. RuckusGuy OUT.

The Samaritan Paradox

Last night my wife and I had a "date night". It was great - dinner at Altruda's (great Italian place for you non-Knoxvillians), then went to Downtown West to see the new Helen Hunt/Bette Midler movie. I haven't been to Downtown West in years, so it was fun to see the old haunt again. I remember seeing Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan there, lo these many years ago - and also Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country with Big Orange Michael. But I digress.

The movie was over around 10pm, and as Laura and I started to get in our car a pickup/SUV pulled up beside me. Driving was a clean-cut, mid-20's young man who was nicely dressed. Beside him in the passenger seat - a less than neatly dressed, slightly unsavory looking gentleman who kept his head down during the entire conversation. The driver pulled up and asked me for a moment of my time through his open window. He assured me - repeatedly - don't be scared, he's not up to anything. He told me his wife had just miscarried in Dandridge, his other child had cerebral palsy, he worked in a security systems business, and he just needed some gas money to get to Dandridge. He was very polite, yet fairly insistent.

A couple things flashed through my mind immediately. First I was glad Laura was on the other side of the van and blocked physically from the guys in the truck. She also (unknown to me) was getting her own car keys and the cell phone ready in case of trouble. Second, I thought quickly about his story: wife just miscarried? in Dandridge? and you have a kid with Cerebral palsy? Security systems? Sounds like a lot of unfortunate coincidences at once, and almost too many specific details about his life to start off a plea for assistance. Thirdly, I thought if you're running too low on gas to get to Dandridge (which isn't that terribly far away from Knoxville, really) why are you wasting gas driving around anonymous dark parking lots at night asking strangers for gas money when it would make more sense to take off for home immediately upon receiving word of the trouble. Or better yet, call someone from home to come and get you. More and more illogical circumstances.

Fourth, I tried to recall any shelters or churches nearby in West Knoxville that migth be available, but there really aren't - all the homeless shelters are downtown, and no churches would be open this late at night on a Thursday.

Fifth, I tried to remember where a gas station was nearby that I could direct him to drive to, where I would safely pay for his gas. I'm not terribly familiar with the Downtown West area anymore, at least in remembering where nearby gas stations are, and I didn't want to stand there giving them more time alone with us while I racked my brain for the nearest Weigels or Pilot.

Sixth, I thought if they needed some gas money they should just go to the box office of the theatre nearby. Much better than hitting up random anonymous folks in a dark parking lot.

So I politely told him, sorry, I couldn't help him.

He hesitated, started to say something else, then thanked me and drove off.

We quickly got in the van and locked the doors, just in case. Laura scanned the area to see where they'd driven off to but we couldn't find them. We left and went home.

My question to you is: What would you have done? Would the same thought processes have gone through your mind? What other options should I have considered? What made me more nervous than anything was the fact that he was neatly dressed, apparently a professional and still needing gas money. Which led me to believe he didn't need gas money after all, but something else I'd rather not think of, like my wallet, my car, or...


I'll also just say this - buddy, if everything you told me was true (or even most of it), I apologize. I sincerely hope and pray you got your gas money, you made it home and tended to your family. Although I hate that your wife may have miscarried, that your child has CP, I almost hope that story was legit because the alternative is pretty scary. And that if real life situation like that happens to anyone else, they'll have the sense not to hit up total strangers in a parking lot and contact someone in some kind of public setting.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Podcasting with

I'm podcasting once again with!

Rex and the Beast and I are again discussing theme parks: this time we talk about the recent sale of Anheiser Busch to a foreign company and its possible ramifications to the Busch-owned theme parks across the country including Busch Gardens: Europe in Williamsburg (see video tour). We wax philosophical about what make roller coasters great, the future of theme park rides, the relative merits of virtual vs. interactive rides, future plans for shooting the exciting sequel Mission: IOA 3 (watch Mission IOA and Mission: IOA 2 - Universal Revenge), and as an added bonus also chat about bass fishing in the south of France. I still have no idea what that's all about.

Anyway, check it out - Audio Journeys with

Friday, July 11, 2008

Friday's Feast

Feast One Hundred & Ninety Six

Appetizer - When was the last time you had your hair cut/trimmed?

I'd say it's been about a month. Generally I get a haircut every month-1/2, so I'm due pretty soon.

Soup - Name one thing you miss about being a child.

Saturday morning block cartoons. Looking forward to every Saturday morning, I'd get up in my jammies, fix a bowl of cereal and watch Casper, Funky Phantom, Scooby Doo, Captian Caveman, Sid & Marty Krofft shows, Jason of Star Command, Shazam!, whatever else was running at that time, until American Bandstand came on around 12 or 1. And that was my time.

Salad - Pick one: butter, margarine, olive oil.

I love butter and margarine. I don't particularly care to know how margarine is made now that I saw an special on the Food Network about how they make Country Crock, but it's still good... Olive oil is a relatively new entry onto my palate and I'm still evaluating its qualities.

Main Course - If you could learn another language, which one would you pick, and why?

I took several years of French in high school and college and can understand/speak smatterings of it still. My kids have taken French in elementary school and it's been fun to learn some of it again with them. I'd love to be able to speak it fluently. It's such a gorgeous language and sounds great just to listen to.

Dessert - Finish this sentence: In 5 years I expect to be...

In 5 years I expect to be getting Brainyboy ready for graduation and college selection, plus dealing with the trauma of a teen-aged Tink really hitting puberty. I also expect to be in the same job I am now - hey, I'm going on 11 years in this job already - why stop?

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

More Anticlimactic Twilight Zone Episodes

My inspiration for these is found here: Anticlimactic Twilight Zone Episodes at the great McSweeney's site.

That satire site was also the inspiration for my posts A Final Letter from Brenda to Eddie and Startling New Letter Found.

Here's an excerpt from Anticlimactic Twilight Zone Episodes:

Where Is Everybody?

A man emerges from his office to find the hallways mysteriously devoid of co-workers. He wanders the silent, empty building looking for signs of life but finds no trace of humanity other than coffee brewing, purses slung over chairs, and folders lying open on desks. Suddenly, he remembers a mandatory meeting in the first-floor conference room.
Here are some of my own, based on real TZ episodes...

  • "To Serve Man"

    A group of tall aliens arrive on the Earth, pledging goodwill and peace to all humanity. A book entitled "To Serve Man" is found, but the words are all in the alien language and assumed to be a guide to how the aliens will assist humanity solve it's problems. By the millions humans are invited to visit the aliens' world, but just as they're all boarding the spacecraft the true meaning of the book is translated - it's a tennis primer! Wimbledon is moved to the alien planet.

  • "It's a Good Life"

    Little six-year-old Anthony Fremont has made the entire world disappear with his amazing mental powers - everything but his small home town. The residents are terrified of him and are forced to cater to his every need in order to survive. People that anger Anthony are killed, maimed or "sent to the cornfield". When one of the townspeople gets drunk at a surprise party for Anthony, he pleads with the others to kill the little monster and save them all. Unfortunately at the moment Anthony is about to exact his revenge, the little boy wakes up. It was all a dream! And now he has to come down for breakfast cause it's almost time for school.

  • "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet"

    A nervous man who is afraid to fly is plagued by visions of a gremlin on the wing of the airplane. He tries to tell the passengers and flight crew that the creature is intending to crash the plane, but no one believes him. In his panic, he steals a gun and attempts to shoot the creature himself. But then he wakes up. It was all a dream! And now he has to come down for breakfast cause it's almost time for school.

  • "Will The Real Martian Please Stand Up"

    A group of bus passengers take refuge in a cafe during a snowstorm. While reports of a UFO sighting are circulating, the bus driver notices that while only six people boarded his bus, seven were present in the cafe. The passengers spend the whole evening in increased paranoia and accusations of one of them being a Martian. After the word comes that the roads are clear, the bus leaves. Much later one of the passengers returns to the cafe and laughs with the soda jerk that the bus driver miscounted after all. There are no Martians and there never were...

  • "The Man In the Bottle"

    A man finds a genie in an old bottle and is granted four wishes. After he wastes the first two, he wishes to be the "ruler of a 20th Century foreign land, with no way of being voted out of office". POOF! He's suddenly transformed into the Queen Mother.