Without a Paddle

Eugene Levy has a recognizable voice, especially to those of us who watched him pn SCTV and in movies like American Pie. I heard his voice on NPR as I was flipping around the dial and I stopped to listen to the interview.

As a radio guy, I was frustrated that interviewer Scott Simon didn’t mention Levy’s name while I was listening. I later looked up the interview online and realized that Simon only said the name of his guests during the introduction and the close. There was no reset during the six and a half minute conversation.

Many radio hosts fall into the trap of addressing their guests in the second person, thereby forgetting about the listeners. One helpful technique is to think of the listeners in the second person and the guest in the third person. For example, Simon could have said, “You’re listening to Eugene Levy and his son Daniel talk about their new show.” Or better yet, “We’re talking with Eugene Levy and his son Daniel about their new show.”

If the host thinks of his or her radio show as a cocktail party with new people arriving, it’s easy to remember to introduce the new arrivals to the guest of honor. Instead, NPR interviews often sound like a private conversation that leaves the radio listener excluded.

Despite my complaints, I was thrilled to learn about the Levys’ new show. I found the first episode online in advance of its U.S. broadcast premiere on February 11.

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Yo Quiero Yogurt

The local Menchie’s franchise didn’t let me forget that it was National Frozen Yogurt Day. They contacted me with a tweet, so it only makes sense that the remainder of the afternoon and evening played out via Twitter.

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The Work of Our Hands and of Our Minds

Bishop Richard Stika blessed the new offices of Catholic Charities of East Tennessee on Thursday. The agency moved its administrative offices to Dameron Avenue, across the street from the Knox County Health Department. It is a return to the space where they were several years ago and it puts them closer to many of the people they serve.

In his remarks, Bishop Stika joked about Sr. Mary Christine Cremin and Fr. Ragan Schriver having very different personalities. The bishop also acknowledged the years of growth under Fr. Ragan’s leadership. He also joked that Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett could be considered an honorary Catholic for his support of the agency and his attendance at the open house.

Whitney Kent covered the story for WVLT. As her Facebook friend, I knew about her pregnancy. She pointed out that her baby bump is finally showing.

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Carmen at Work

To promote Knoxville Opera’s production of Carmen, I interviewed Zulimar López-Hernández and Ryan Kuster, who play Micaëla and Escamillo. The opera will be performed on February 13 and 15 at the Tennessee Theatre.

Knoxville Opera’s director of marketing Michael Torano posted some photos on Facebook and Twitter, including a behind-the-scenes shot that I really like.


Michael thought it looked like I was pulling down the safety bar on a roller coaster when I moved the microphone stands into place.

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With All These Crazy Happy People

It’s easy to get me fired up about improv. Every time I meet new people who are interested in the topic, my enthusiasm is obvious.

After Tuesday’s Einstein Simplified show, I had a great time talking with members of Full Disclosure, a burgeoning long-form group looking for a place to perform. They already knew the concept of finding the first unusual thing in a scene, which was a topic at last year’s Gatlinburg Improv Fest.

I suggested that Full Disclosure folks look for me on Facebook. It would be the easiest way for me to send them information about the Knoxville comedy scene. Specifically, I invited them to like pages or join groups about the following:

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Now that Twitter is rolling out a video function, I may not need Instagram in the future. I have used previously Instagram for short videos. Today, I wanted to capture the dichotomy between the sight and sound of a light snowfall.

The mid-morning precipitation looked like snow but it made a sound like rain hitting my car.

A video posted by Frank Murphy (@frankmurphycom) on

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A Superb Owl Sunday

In the old TV commercial, Mr. Owl was asked how many licks it took to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop. After three licks, Mr. Owl crunched into the center and declared the answer to be three. The spot features three of my favorite voice actors: Frank NelsonPaul Frees and Paul Winchell.

My wife and I saw Mr. Owl on a t-shirt at Cracker Barrel about two weeks ago. We laughed because Mark & Brian used to call me Mr. Owl when I worked at KLOS. Musician Steve Barden was a regular listener and created a fantastic jingle for me. His lyrics are especially clever. Here’s the jingle:

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Threds Up!

Threds, a local promotional products company, held its third annual open house on Friday. They print and embroider logos on t-shirts, hats, and many other products.

Just as radio stations hand out t-shirts to listeners, Threds handed out t-shirts with their own logo to customers at the open house. The only difference was that we could watch our shirt get printed before putting it in our goody bags.

  The blank shirt gets loaded onto a flat platform on one of the arms of the screen printing press. The technician programmed it to print twelve colors.

  The shirts make fourteen stops around the printing press. In addition to the twelve colors, there are two spots where the colors are cured.

  After the printing is complete, the shirts are moved to a conveyer belt which passes them through a dryer at 420°.

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In His Time Plays Many Parts

Local actor Robby Griffith passed away on Friday. He often appeared in plays at Theatre Knoxville Downtown and in Tennessee Stage Company’s Shakespeare on the Square. Robby also worked at Lawson McGhee Library and occasionally as an English teacher at Pellissippi State Community College. The Knoxville theatre community will certainly mourn his loss.

I only had one scene with Robby in Fish Bait but we posed for a photo together at the movie’s premiere at Patrick Sullivan’s in October, 2009. Robby played a scary character who warned us about the dangers lurking at the bottom of the lake.

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Here Higo Again

There is such a thing as Coffig. I am considering investing $19 to buy a bag in order to see what it’s like. It promises “natural energy without the caffeine.”

I learned about Coffig from the Twitter feed of Valley Fig Growers.

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Myranda Rights

Actress and model Myranda M. was in the audience at Scruffy City Hall to see Einstein Simplified on Tuesday night. She told a story on stage about starring in an episode of Fatal Attraction, which is produced by Jupiter Entertainment. She will also appear in an episode of Killer Couples. The troupe acted out her story during a game called “Dude!”

After the show, Myranda started to ask if I remembered her. Before she could finish, I told her that I did remember meeting her two weeks earlier when I did a remote broadcast from the grand opening of Wiegel’s in LaFollette. There’s a picture on the Star 102.1 website to prove it.

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I Spry

The word spry amuses me. A member of the improv group Ponch! called me spry on my 51st birthday because I jumped over a row of seats at their theatre in Frederick, Maryland.

I was walking to my car after this week’s Einstein Simplified improv show when I spied the word spry in a magazine rack on Union Avenue. I grabbed a copy of Spry Living magazine, which featured a cover story on Kim Cattrall titled, “The Best Thing About Being 58.”

Most of the articles were targeted to women. The advertisements were targeted to people older than me. I saw ads for stairlifts, oxygen therapy, a sleep chair, anti-arthritis gloves, and walk-in tubs.

I don’t know if this means I’m too young to be called spry or if I can look forward to several more years of spryness.

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Turin Cycle

Dr. Kelly Kearse inspired my son to continue studying chemistry after high school. Dr. Kearse is one of the best teachers at Knoxville Catholic High School.

I’m disappointed that I didn’t make it to Dr. Kearse’s presentation to the Nicodemus Club at All Saints Catholic Parish.  He spoke about the Shroud of Turin, which is a fascinating topic for Christians to ponder. Fortunately, the parish recorded his lecture and put it online.

I first learned about the Shroud in seventh or eighth grade during a slide presentation by the 90-something school librarian, Br. Perry. I remember that his slides were so old that they were made of glass.

Part two:

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Quiet Please

Most of the independent movie Something, Anything was filmed in Knoxville. My wife and I attended a screening at the Lawson McGhee Library, which was a prominent location in the film. We both enjoyed it and found ourselves discussing the characters and plot on the way home.

I recognized at least five of the movie’s actors, Ashley Shelton, Linds Edwards, Lauren Lazarus, Amy Hubbard and David Dwyer. All five have been mentioned on my blog in the past.

There is very little expository dialogue. Ashley’s character doesn’t speak much at the beginning of the film. As her character deals with a tragedy, she speaks even less. She seeks solace at the library and at the Abbey of Gethsemani in Trappist, Kentucky.

 Writer-director Paul Harrill and producer Ashley Maynor answered questions after the screening. Most of the questions centered on the locations used for filming. They specifically mentioned a scene set at a nightclub in Lexington, Kentucky. Due to logistics, they filmed the scene at the Pilot Light in Knoxville. The rear exterior of the club was actually Magpies Bakery in Knoxville.

Something, Anything – Trailer from Self-Reliant Film on Vimeo.

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