It practically gallops!

Oyster It Up

The visit of our friend Nancy for the award ceremony on Thursday was more than enough of a reason to have celebratory dinners on consecutive nights. On Wednesday night, we went to Knox Mason. On Thursday, we went to Shuck Raw Bar, but not the one two doors down from Knox Mason. We went to the Bearden location.

My wife and I wanted to save a little money by ordering the house oysters which were on special for $1 each. The waiter urged us to try the Malpeque oysters from Prince Edward Island, which were $17 for a half-dozen. We decided to get six Malpeques and six of the house oysters, which came from the James River. Maybe it’s just me, but the waiter seemed more attentive to us after we accepted his suggestion.

The waiter pointed out the visible difference between the two varieties. The Malpeque shells had a pure white interior while the house oysters had darker shells. We also followed his advice by eating the Malpeques without condiments. They had a perfect oyster taste. I would order them again.

For dinner, I ordered a seafood Cobb salad that included crabmeat, shrimp and bacon. My wife ordered the Shuck salad, which was topped with two fried oysters. Our friend Nancy ordered the Shuck burger, which was also topped with two fried oysters. All three of us were pleased with our meals.

We didn’t have room for dessert and didn’t even look at the dessert menu. If we had, it would have been nearly impossible to resist the salted caramel cake I later saw online.


Friends with Words

Five local writers and one Friends of Literacy student were honored at the East Tennessee Writers Hall of Fame luncheon on Thursday at the Lighthouse Knoxville. The 2014 Friends of Literacy East Tennessee Writers Hall of Fame inductees are:

Each of the winners prepared some remarks. Here is the text of my speech. I did throw in an ad-lib or two on the fly.

Thank you to the Friends of Literacy. It is an incredible honor to be included with the other great writers here today and with all the inductees from previous years.

I believe that good writers must first be voracious readers. I was fortunate to grow up in a family that embraced reading. My father was a reporter for United Press International and later he wrote as a public relations executive. My mother was a schoolteacher who taught second grade.

As a child, I was a regular at the Crestwood Library in Yonkers, New York. I was nominated for this honor by one of the librarians who knew me as a child and I’m thrilled that Ms. Nancy Waters traveled from New York to be here today for the ceremony.

My most loyal readers are also my most loyal proofreaders. My wife and kids are always the first to spot a typo. Not a week goes by without me getting an email or text that says, “Dad you spelled this word wrong.” I’ve learned to use the WordPress smartphone app so I can fix my mistakes on the go.

I appreciate my friends who let me share their stories online. I like to write a little bit about being Catholic, a little bit about food, a little bit about my fig tree, a little bit about comedy improv, and a lot about the Body Farm. Sometimes I write about movies or TV shows that I like but mostly the blog is about the community that I love and call home.

My “blogfather” is here today. Back in 2005, blogging was social media. Twitter and Facebook weren’t words that we use everyday. I thank Rich Hailey for helping me get my blog started and for inviting me to various blogger gatherings around town.

You may have noticed that I also get the honor of presenting an award today to David Lauver. After the winners were notified in July, the station that was the radio sponsor of this event last year dropped out due to a format change. Melissa Nance contacted me and asked if I had any suggestions. I did. I approached two of our department heads, Rich Bailey and Bruce Patrick, who are here today. They agreed to take on this event as the radio sponsor and I’m delighted that they did.

A special thanks goes to my wife Jere, who has patiently and lovingly tolerated my blogging hobby for over nine years. She has waited for me to photograph her food before she can eat, she has taken countless pictures of me in various places for the blog, and she has interrupted our trips so we can seek out a WiFi connection for me to upload some pictures or a blog post. I can think of a recent example where we pulled off I-81 to get to a McDonald’s just before it closed at midnight and another time when we sat in our car next to a Panera Bread that had closed but left its WiFi network turned on.

Thank you again for this great honor and thank you to the Friends of Literacy for their mission which proves that it’s never too late to start and that everyone can get a second chance.


Jar for the Course

The foodies whom I follow on Instagram and Twitter have posted enticing pictures of their meals at Knox Mason. The restaurant has also received a lot of attention recently from travel writers who have visited Knoxville. I finally tried it on Wednesday night.

My friend Nancy came to Knoxville to attend the induction ceremony for the Friends of Literacy East Tennessee Writers Hall of Fame. She nominated me for the social media award, which I will receive on Thursday. My wife and I wanted to treat her to dinner. The local and regional fare at Knox Mason was the perfect choice.

I wondered if the restaurant’s name was a reference to American Revolution figures Henry Knox and George Mason. It’s not. I found a quote online from chef Matt Gallaher that explains the name. “I saw a mason jar that said Knox Mason. We have several here. It’s a line of mason jars that were made until the 1960s and I just thought it was a catchy name,” Gallaher told WBIR-TV. “It doesn’t necessarily mean anything but it kind of sounded cool.”


My wife ordered the filet. I ordered the pork belly confit. Nancy had the sunburst trout. We shared a side order of roasted Brussels sprouts served with Benton’s bacon. We were all extremely pleased with our meals.

For dessert, my wife had the peanut butter mousse which had a chocolate shell. I had the banana pudding, which was topped with toasted marshmallow cream. Nancy had pumpkin ice cream with bits of Benton’s bacon.

The menu at Knox Mason changes frequently, depending on what is in season. I’m looking forward to enjoying more meals there in the future.


Be the Best You Can Zombie

Marketers have figured out that adding the word “zombie” can draw attention to their message, especially this close to Halloween. At Koko FitClub, coach Paul Romeo created a zombie workout that piqued my curiosity.

I joined Koko FitClub last November when I began doing radio commercials for the local franchise. I do a cardio workout on the treadmill and strength training on the weight machine.

While I’m on the treadmill, I listen to audio recordings of chief fitness officer Michael Wood or master fit coach Paul Romeo. They tell me how fast to go and how steep an incline to use. The speed and incline change every few minutes as part of the interval training program.

On each treadmill there is a printed card describing the workouts for the fall season. One of the descriptions said, “Get ready to run for your life from the Halloween zombies. If you get caught, don’t worry. Paul will prepare you to be in great zombie shape.”

The audio had me laughing the first time I tried it. At one point, Paul told us to tiptoe past the zombies, which just happens to strengthen calf muscles. Another time we had to increase our speed to the 4 to 5 miles-per-hour range to outrun the zombies. Later, we increased the incline because zombies have trouble running up hills.

The funniest part of the workout came when Paul said that should any of us succumb to the zombie virus, at least he can prepare us to be the zombies in the best shape. He had us do the zombie walk with our arms extended. When we started to feel the burn in our shoulders, he said to be thankful we can still feel anything. He also made a joke about developing muscle memory because we won’t be able to think about these things when we’re zombies.

I’ve done the zombie workout twice so far and I’ll probably do it a few more times before the audio gets changed to the winter programs. I’ll have to tell my sisters about the workout. All these years later, they still get the creeps when I quote Johnny from Night of the Living Dead by saying, “They’re coming to get you Barbara!”


Rock and Roll Heaven

Radio personality Jaan McCoy died while he was at work on Saturday. He was found in the studio at Westwood One in Dallas. His weekend show was carried on Classic Hits stations around the country, including WNOX.

I was in my car and listening at 5:20 p.m. on Saturday when I noticed the deejay’s break was missing. I called the Westwood One operations center in Denver to tell them. At the time, I thought there was a technical problem and that WNOX had somehow lost its connection to the network. Neither the network technician nor I had any idea that the segments were missing because Jaan had died in Dallas.

I was shocked to learn of Jaan’s death on Monday morning when I read about it in Radio Ink’s daily email digest. I sent a quick email to his co-workers, expressing my sympathy. Jay Fox wrote back to say, “It was a pretty rough weekend. We are all saddened by the loss of our dear friend Jaan.”


Shoe Business

 The bride and groom stood back-to-back on the dance floor. Two of the bridesmaids asked questions such as, “Who will wear the pants in your family?” The newlyweds answered the question by holding up either their own shoe or their spouse’s shoe.

At the wedding ceremony, guests received programs with the order of Mass, names of the wedding party, etc. The last item said, “If you are on Instagram, use the hashtag #kwardpartyof 2.”

  My favorite part of wedding receptions is the cake. There was a banner on the cake table that said, ” Let Them Eat Cake.” I photographed the half that appeared to say “meatcake” and posted it to Instagram.


Hall Effect

Two of the five inductees into the East Tennessee Writers Hall of Fame visited WNOX on Thursday, bringing the total number of honorees present to three. I interviewed Vince Vawter and David Lauver for the East Tennessee Report. I couldn’t interview myself but David did turn the tables to ask me a question during the show.

The Hall of Fame luncheon is a fundraiser for Friends of Literacy. Executive Director Melissa Nance joined us for the interview. She spoke about the organization’s mission to help under-educated or illiterate adults.

The 2014 East Tennessee Writers Hall of Fame inductees are:

You can listen to the fifteen minute interview here:


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