Sunday, October 31, 2010

Kids on Campus

Sherry took this photo of the kids last Saturday just before we went into Neyland Stadium.

Monster Mash

I've been a fan of the "Monster Mash" by Bobby "Boris" Pickett and the Crypt Kicker Five since I bought the 45 on the Parrot Records lable when I was a kid, but I never knew the story behind the song. According to Mental Floss, Pickett's dad ran a movie theater, and Pickett learned how to do a mean Boris Karloff impression. Pickett hoped to break into acting and moved to Hollywood, where he found work with a band called the Cordials, and sometimes he would do the Karloff impression during the group's performances.

The Mental Floss story continues,

One day in 1962, band member Lenny Capizzi encouraged Pickett to do more with his impression than a silly skit during performances. The two men then started working on a humorous dance song based around the narration of a Boris Karloff character. Originally, they thought of working with the twist, but that dance craze was out of fashion, so instead they opted to make the song work with the Mashed Potato. They titled the track the “Monster Mash” and recorded it under the band name “The Crypt Kickers.”

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Look Rock at Dawn

This was the view from Look Rock tower at dawn this morning.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Sears Zombies

I have learned that certain things are very hip on the web, and zombies are among them. It is hard to spend any time at all online without running into zombies. Sears got in on the action by creating a website devoted to zombie shopping, and just in time for Halloween.

Thursday, October 28, 2010



Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Two Great Americans

Today is the birthday of my brother-in-law, Steve Frazier, to whom Sarah affectionately refers as "Uncle Fuzzy." I did not realize until this morning that Fraz shares a birthday with one of my favorite Presidents, Theodore Roosevelt. Bully!

Big Orange

Here is a solar prominence, from NASA's Astronomy Picture of the Day.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Caramel and Pumpkin and Bacon, Oh My!

Feast your eyes on these Halloween treats! The recipe, and more photos, are on The Noble Pig.

Monday, October 25, 2010

More Game Day Photos

Here are a few more of the snapshots Sherry took Saturday.
Sarah and Smokey hang out before the game.
Here are Sherry with her boys on the train on the way to the stadium. She is protective and kept a close eye on them since they were clad in Alabama crimson.

Sarah watches the Pride of the Southland Marching Band perform.

Snapshots From the Game

Here are some of Sherry's photographs from the UT v. 'Bama game on Saturday. We tailgated just off of Neyland Drive and rode the train to the Thompson Boling Arena (also affectionately known as the Tommy Bowl), and we walked to the stadium from there.
Sherry relaxes at the tailgating event.
Sarah and I ride the train.

It has been many years since I've watched the Vols run onto Shields-Watkins field through the giant "T" formed by the University of Tennessee Pride of the Southland Marching Band. We sat in the south end of the stadium under the Jumbotron. When I was a kid, there were pennants representing the colleges of the Southeastern Conference on top of the horseshoe at that end of the stadium, and when I was a Boy Scout our troop got free admission to home games so we could guard the pennants. We also came back on Sunday morning to help clean up, which was a disgusting task.

Joey and Jake and Sarah were all duly impressed by their first game in Neyland Stadium, and Sarah sang "Rocky Top" all day yesterday. It makes a Volunteer daddy proud.

Saint Crispin's Day

Today is Saint Crispin's Day, and it is the anniversary of the Battle of Agincourt, which took place in 1415. It is a good day to reread the famous battle speech from Shakespeare's Henry V, or if you prefer, to watch it.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Going to the Game

It is hard for me to believe that I haven't been to a UT game since undergraduate school, but it is true. I stopped going to games in law school, probably because after spending so much time on campus in classes and the law library I wanted to be off campus at home during the weekends. It is so easy to eat pizza and watch the games on television, but there's nothing like watching the game from the bleachers in Neyland Stadium.

Jake and Joey, my stepsons, are Alabama fans, and their mother and I promised to take them to today's UT v. Alabama game as part of their birthday. We're going to tailgate with a friend of mine from law school, and another friend is in town from Atlanta, so it should be a festive day. I have been watching video clips of old games on You Tube this morning, and I have enjoyed listening to John Ward call the plays.

We had originally planned to have Mom babysit Sarah, but Mom is in Washington, DC, this weekend visiting my Aunt Joan. This will be Sarah's first game, and the first time J&J have been to a game at Neyland Stadium. I suspect they will be duly impressed with all of the pomp and circumstance.

Friday, October 22, 2010

The Lemon

My sisters are twins, and they shared their first car, affectionately nicknamed, "The Lemon," which was a 1973 Toyota Corolla. Laura sent me this photo of one, and it looks just like the one they used to drive. It had an eight-track tape player, and got good gas mileage, so I borrowed it from time to time, especially for road trips, since I was driving an eighth-generation Oldsmobile Delta 88 Royale, a gas guzzler with a 350 Rocket engine, at the time. Unfortunately, I took The Lemon on a trip when it was low on oil, and I pretty much killed it for Leslie and Laura. They probably would have killed me, but Mom bought them their first new car, a Nissan Sentra, which let me off the hook.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Less Worried About Our Cabin

My sisters and I constantly fret over the condition of our rather rustic cabin, particularly the roof, which is thick with shingles. After seeing these Norwegian roofs, I am less worried.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Have Some Pie

Al Dente has a recipe for Three-Cheese Spaghetti Pie. I'm intrigued.

Audiobook Review -- A Rage for Glory by James Tertius De Kay

I recently borrowed a audiobook biography of Commodore Stephen Decatur from our local library. There are numerous localities in the United States that are named after him, including several in Tennessee, and I wanted to learn about who he was. The audiobook, A Rage for Glory -- The Life of Commodore Stephen Decatur, USN, was written by James Tertius De Kay and begins in the aftermath of Decatur's death at the hand of his fellow Navy officer, James Barron, in a pistol duel in 1820. Decatur was one of the most well-known military men of his time, and his death shocked the nation.

A discussion with the author follows the audiobook, and in it he suggests that had Decatur survived he may have become President instead of Andrew Jackson. As he pointed out, Jackson was a man of what was then the West, and he saw America in terms of its expansion across the continent. Decatur was a man of the sea, and he may have had different priorities than the Jacksonians.

It is a shame that Decatur's story is not more widely known. He gained fame fighting the Barbary pirates of North Africa, whom he eventually vanquished through diplomacy rather than force of arms, though he was certainly willing to use the latter. Like many Americans, I know little of the War of 1812 other than the story of the Battle of New Orleans. I have learned that American naval power was desicive in that war, and that our tiny Navy dealt the mighty British fleet defeat after defeat.

Even though the reader knows Decatur was killed in a duel, the story leading up to his death is compelling in an uncomfortable sort of way. When I've encountered duelling in books, usually descriptions of Jackson's duels or the Hamilton/Burr duel, I haven't thought much about the practice other than it was what people did in that era. Decatur was so smart and successful in everything he did. For him to meet his death in such a stupid way was sad.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Liverman, Die!

Sarah, my seven-year-old daughter, was singing Paul McCartney's "Live and Let Die" yesterday morning. Because the song is rather heavy, I suppose any way she sang it would have been humorous. She rendered the lyrics as "Liverman, die!" Her mother and I had a hard time containing our mirth.

Captain Crunch's Real Name

Mental Floss had an interesting post in the summer giving the names of fictional characters. For example, Barbie's full name is Barbara Millicent Roberts, and Captain Crunch's is Captain Horatio Magellan Crunch. Sail on, Captain.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Anniversary of Vol Coaches Train Crash

On October 18, 1965, when I was but two years old, three University of Tennessee assistant football coaches, Charlie Rash, Billy Majors (Johnny's brother) and Bob Jones, were in a car in West Knoxville when it was hit by a train. Majors and Jones were killed in the accident, and Rash lived a few more days before he died as well. For more about the crash and the 1965 season, click here.

Beginning in fourth grade, I caught the school bus to Rocky Hill Elementary School at the railroad crossing where the wreck happened. We used to put pennies on the railroad track for the train to flatten, and all the kids in the neighborhood knew that three UT coaches had died because of the collision there. My mom would later become friends with Charlie Rash's widow, Chris, and our family used to see her just about every summer on our visits to Seagrove Beach, which is near where Chris lived in Destin before her death several years ago.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Sunday Afternoon

Sunday afternoons are often centered around cooking at our house, and today is no exception. We baked a big batch of chicken, and I fried some of Mom's country-style taters and onions in my black iron skillet. Sherry baked some blueberry muffins this morning, something Sarah has asked for almost every day this week, so the house smells pretty good right now.

Sherry took Sarah back to Target to exchange her Star Wars game, and they came home with the last Wii version on the shelves. The child is downstairs engaged in lightsaber combat as Qui-Gon Jinn as her mother naps 'neath a cat.

Weekend Update

Mom came over Friday night to spend the night with her granddaughter, and I took Mom to Gracie's Restaurant over on Lincoln Road in Alcoa for breakfast yesterday morning while Sherry and Sarah went over to the Blount County Animal Shelter to volunteer some time and to love on some kitties. They reported that there is a mother cat and her large litter of kittens, so I'm sure Sarah was beside herself with excitement.

A family friend from North Carolina is visiting Knoxville this weekend, and so a large group of us met at Calhoun's on the River for a late lunch. It was a nice fall day, and a fun outing. After lunch, and feeding ducks at the dock underneath the restaurant, we came back home and settled in. Sarah has been playing a Star Wars video game in her aftercare program at school, and Sherry bought her a similar game yesterday, though we couldn't get it to play on any of our computers. Since the child is into Star Wars at the moment, I thought it would be a good time to watch the movie(s) with her. We started with the original, A New Hope, which we watched last night.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Hello, Kitty!

Sarah got her face painted at the Pellisippi State Hot Air Balloon Festival a couple of weeks ago.

Our children are in the children's area. They are, from left to right, Joey, Jake and Sarah. I note Jake is wearing the Big Ed's Pizza T-shirt we bought him that afternoon for the low price of $7.50. Joey and I got Big Ed's shirts, too.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Sound Sculpture

I found this photo on The Laughing Squid. It was created using water-based paint placed on a thin rubber membrane over a speaker. Using the speaker to create sound waves, the artist, Dentsu London, causes the membrane to vibrate, launching the paint into the air, at which point it is photographed.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Happy Birthday, Boys!

My stepsons, Joey and Jake, are celebrating their fifteenth birthday today, and they are excited about getting their learner's permits and learning to drive an automobile. They were only five and a half years old when I met their mom. Kids grow up so fast!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Back to School

Sarah's fall break ended with her return to class today, and she seems to have enjoyed being back in the classroom. She's already completed the homework that came home in her backpack this afternoon. Sherry and I will receive a progress report on Friday, and will attend a parent and teacher conference next week. Sarah has had a good fall break, but I think she is ready to return to her studies and is happy to be back in class with her teacher and classmates.

In Purple?

Here is my niece, Grace, in Tiger Stadium for the UT v. LSU game the weekend before last. I am disturbed that she is wearing purple, though Laura assures me the child was also wearing orange, and I note that she had an orange and white shaker in her hand. (Grace's dad, Stewart, is an LSU alumnus, so I suppose the purple must be excused.)

Restaurant Review -- Golden Girls Restaurant, Clinton, Tennessee

After camping out at Norris Dam State Park, Sarah and I went looking for a local place to have breakfast on our way from Norris to Oak Ridge. As soon as we pulled off the interstate, we found Golden Girls Restaurant at 2211 Charles Seivers Boulevard in Clinton, Tennessee. My first job in a law firm was as a law clerk at the Ridenour & Ridenour law firm in Clinton, so I have fond memories of that city from my clerking days.

My wife loves the Golden Girls television series, so I felt obligated to try the restaurant out. I'm glad we did. You walk from the front door through the kitchen to the dining area, and the kitchen is more like a big kitchen in a home than a restaurant kitchen, which is homey and nice. They served a mean sausage and cheese omelet, and their biscuits and gravy were really good as well. We spent $11.00 on breakfast, plus a tip.

I was curious about the restaurant's name, so I asked our server, who informed me that two sisters own the restaurant and that their maiden name is Golden. They are well-known locally for their cakes, and there were a couple of pies sitting on the kitchen counter that looked delicious as well.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Sit a Spell

To wind up our Saturday, we drove an hour or so from Lewisburg, through Shelbyville and Tullahoma to our family cabin in Estill Springs. Laura was out there by herself all day and did a lot of work cleaning the place up. She bought a new cot for the place the last time we were out there, and she had it set up in the bedroom. Poor Sherry was worn out after the long day, and she was asleep in the bottom bunkbed within an hour of our arrival.

I usually turn in early myself, but Laura and I got a fire burning in the fireplace and lit the many candles in the cabin's living room. She and Sarah played a couple of games of Uno by candlelight, and I explained to the child that her great-granddaddy, my Granddaddy Ogle, used to stay up with his brother, Elmo, studying and doing his homework by candlelight. (She was excited to learn she was kin to Elmo until I explained that Uncle Elmo did not have red fur.) I eventually put Sarah to bed in the bottom bunk with her mama, and Laura and I stayed up until about midnight eastern time talking and enjoying just being at the cabin. La took these photos, which show the foilage beginning to turn in Estill Springs. I love that place!
This is the view looking down at the creek from the cabin's deck. The deck is my generation's contribution to the cabin, and it has held up well over the years.

Saturday in Middle Tennessee

Jake and Joey celebrated their fifteenth birthday on Saturday in Nashville, though their birthday is actually this Wednesday. As you can tell from the cake, which was prepared by one of our neighbors here in Maryville, the party had Alabama theme. I, of course, was clad in orange and wrote "Go Vols" in sidewalk chalk at the pavilion in Edwin Warner Park where the festivities were conducted. Neither UT nor 'Bama had a very good Saturday last weekend. The party had a good turnout, and the kids played ball and explored the park while the adults prepared a lunch of hamburgers, hot dogs and fixin's.

After the birthday party concluded, Sherry and Sarah and I drove to Lewisburg for the Goats Music and More Festival celebrating Marshall County's famed fainting goats, also called myotonic goats, and Boer goats. Sherry's friend, Robert, who also attended the party, met us down there. There were numerous vendors, live music and a bunch of goats, and we wandered around the festival for about an hour. It was held at Rock Creek Park, and I waded a bit in what I assume was Rock Creek. The water felt good after walking around in the sun.

Unfortunately, after several days of festival the so-called nervous goats weren't very nervous, so we didn't get to see any faint. A lady we talked to said a few keeled over in one of the early competitions during the festival, but all the goats we saw seem pretty contented. Sherry said this was the only fainting goat she saw.

Vol Heaven

My sister Laura visited Dad's grave this weekend in Winchester, Tennessee, where he grew up, and she decorated his grave with University of Tennessee orange. In Big Orange Heaven, the Vols always win.

Columbus Day

Today is Columbus Day, when Americans celebrate the arrival of Christopher Columbus in the Bahamas on October 12, 1492.

Sunday, October 10, 2010


I confess that we eat Spam at our house from time to time, and it is a camping staple. I'm cautiously curious about Spamaroni.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Another Cool Pizza Place

After our outings to Pizza Palace on Magnolia Avenue in Knoxville and Big Ed's Pizza in Oak Ridge, this post on the Sunsphere is Not a Wigshop makes me want to visit Harby's Pizza in North Knoxville. I've had pizza there before, but it has been years ago.

Birthdays and Goats

Sherry and Sarah and I are about to load up the car for a rather busy day. We will first drive to Nashville and Jake and Joey's birthday party. When the festivities conclude in Nashville, we're will drive south about an hour to Lewisburg, Tennessee, in Marshall County, to the Goats Music and More Festival celebrating the area's famed fainting goats. After that, we're going to drive another hour to Estill Springs, Tennessee, where my sister Laura will be waiting for us at our grandparents' cabin.

Friday, October 8, 2010

More Pizza -- Big Ed's Pizza, Oak Ridge, Tennessee

As part of Sarah's fall break, which is now nearing its end, I took her to Oak Ridge, and as part of our visit to the Secret City we stopped in for some Big Ed's Pizza. (We ate a lot of pizza last week.) I haven't been to Oak Ridge in several years, and I have been wanting to make a trip out there to go to Big Ed's. I am happy to say that the pizza is still as wonderful as I remember it. In fact, I bragged so much about how good it was that Sherry and I took the whole family back to have pizza again last Saturday.

Believe it or not, I first learned about Big Ed's Pizza in Russian class from my teacher, who grew up in Russia but readily embraced American culture, including pizza. I have had pizza at Big Ed's many times over the years, and I love the dark dining room with walls covered by sports and other memorabilia. Every time I'm in the place I think about how much my dad would love it

An important part of the Big Ed's experience is the atmosphere of the restaurant. The place is generally staffed by teenagers (not the ones pictured here), who learn to toss pizza dough in the air. They only serve pizza and beverages, though they will bring you some free mozzarella as an appetizer. With your pizza you get paper plates that are about five inches in diameter, plastic forks and plenty of napkins. When the pizzas come out of the oven they cut them using giant scissors like the kind I used to use to cut fabric in my younger days working in the textile industry in North Carolina to help put myself through school. Ed Neusel, the proprietor of Big Ed's, was an institution in Oak Ridge, and he helped out a lot of kids over the years. He passed away in 1998.