The lockout is over

Music of the Nashville PredatorsI like it
I love it
I want some more of it
I try so hard
I can’t rise above it
Don’t know what it is ’bout the Predators scoring
But I like it
I love it
I want some more of it
— Tim McGraw, “I Like It, I Love It [Nashville Predators Version]”

Tim McGraw (an almost dead ringer for my youngest brother) recorded a special version of one of his hit songs for the Predators, and it’s played on the Jumbotron screen every time Nashville scores a goal. Hopefully, in a few more months, I’ll be in the seats at the Gaylord Entertainment Center singing along, not to mention making “fang fingers” at penalized members of the opposing team.

The button-down mind

Button-Down Mind of Bob Newhart
I thoroughly enjoyed PBS’s three hours of Bob Newhart on Wednesday night. They ran a new 90-minute “American Masters” documentary on Newhart, followed by a rerun of the ceremony from several years ago in which he received the Kennedy Center’s Mark Twain Award.

I was inspired to go onto and order “The Button-Down Mind of Bob Newhart,” the history and significance of which was discussed at length in the special. It actually helped save Warner Bros. Records from going out of business!

The Smothers Brothers were on the awards special, and they did “Cuando Caliente El Sol,” which is my favorite routine of theirs and which I saw them perform in person last year.

Start the movie without me

They have finally scheduled a local premiere for “Our Very Own,” the independent film shot in Shelbyville last year. The movie will be shown here Aug. 13-14, and the producers have promised enough screenings that everyone who wants to see it will be able to get in.

Unless, of course, they’re halfway around the globe teaching soap-making in Kenya. In that case, they’re out of luck.

Fully loaded

I have four nephews and two nieces. The two nieces, who are sisters, both celebrate their birthdays in the same week. They had separate celebrations in the town where they live, but we celebrated both of their birthdays again this afternoon at my parents’ house.

I wasn’t 100 percent sure about either of my gifts, but both turned out well.

Matilda (Special Edition)I had bought the 8-year-old a copy of the movie “Matilda,” which I’d never seen, but which somehow seemed appropriate. Well, it turns out “Matilda” is based on a book by Roald Dahl, author of “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” and “James and the Giant Peach.” Little did I know that my niece, with help from her mother, is reading “James and the Giant Peach,” the first book of that complexity she’s ever attempted. (It was either suggested or given to her by my sister-in-law in California, an English professor.) We watched the first hour or so of “Matilda” this afternoon before we were interrupted by another engagement. It was terrific; I may have to rent it myself to see how it turns out. It was obviously a labor of love for Danny DeVito, who directed it and appears in it along with his wife Rhea Perlman. He even narrates it, which is surprising, because he doesn’t seem to be narrating it as the character he plays on-screen.

Feels Like TodayI knew the 14-year-old was getting a portable CD player, so I decided to buy her a CD. I thought I knew her musical tastes well enough to take a chance on a CD by Rascal Flatts, which is sort of a cross between country music and a boy band. I thought she’d like it but worried she might already own it. She loved it, and didn’t already have it.

The reason we had to turn off “Matilda” early was so that the whole family could go see a movie at the theater. We went to “Herbie: Fully Loaded.” It wasn’t what I would have picked to see on my own, but it was a fun family film and everyone enjoyed it. My mother loved the original batch of “Herbie The Love Bug” movies in the late 60s and early 70s.

You cheeky little monkeys

I was impressed with Craig Ferguson as the host of CBS’s “The Late Late Show” from the outset. But I have to say, he’s only gotten better as time has gone on.

Ferguson has dropped the normal current-events monologue followed by his late night peers in favor of a funny little monologue on a particular theme or subject — as much storytelling as joke-telling. And he’s begun doing little one-man skits and impersonations. Some of his impressions are better than others, but that’s not really the point; the skits are, as far as I can tell, supposed to be a little bit goofy. Ferguson, like the better late-night hosts, can laugh at himself when a joke flops or a skit seems to be going off-track. (Johnny Carson was such a master at this that his occasional misfire turned into a special treat.)

Earlier this week, he did a pretty funny Michael Caine impression in a bit predicated on the outlandish notion that Caine was supposed to have been the fifth member of the “Fantastic Four” and was cut out of the movie. Earlier in the night, Jay Leno had done a skit with an almost identical “Fantastic Five” premise, proposing his bandleader Kevin Eubanks as “Chrome Dome,” who deflects bullets with his bald pate. The Leno skit was mercifully short — almost a blackout gag — but Ferguson’s bit was much funnier.

I have to watch “The Late Late Show” on tape the next day, especially since my local CBS affiliate delays it by half an hour. I fear that a lot of people who would enjoy Ferguson are missing him.

Civilization down the tubes

I had been watching “Jeopardy!” and didn’t get up to change the channel soon enough, so I saw the first 30 seconds of the incredible waste of electrons that is “The Insider.” This was the portion of the show where they were previewing what tonight’s broadcast would contain.

“Where,” the host asked, “were Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie when the bombs went off in London?”

I cannot possibly fathom what type of worthless excuse for a human being can look at a tragedy like the London bombing and wonder where Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie were. The people who produce this show, the television stations that air it, and the people who watch it need to be ashamed of themselves. I am ashamed to be a part of the culture that produced this steaming heap of manure.

My left feet

Yes, I admit it. I watched most of the finale of “Dancing With The Stars” tonight. So shoot me.

I actually had the show on last week, but my nose was in the computer and the show was mostly background noise.

I have to admit some disappointment that John O’Hurley didn’t win. Most people know him from his recurring role as Elaine’s boss, J. Peterman, on “Seinfeld.” I’ve liked him ever since he hosted a remake of one of my favorite game shows, “To Tell The Truth,” a few years back. The show was a disappointment, but that mostly had to do with the producers’ choice of guests. O’Hurley was great as the host, and so were Meshach Taylor and Paula Poundstone as regular panelists. Taylor was a razor-sharp interrogator who always took the game seriously; Poundstone, prior to her legal problems, was a madcap who punctured everyone’s expectations and never took the game seriously. They balanced each other perfectly.

O’Hurley was clearly having the time of his life on “Dancing With The Stars.” He obviously relished his progress, and the ability to sweep a woman off her feet on the dance floor. It was the kind of thing that a guy could appreciate — and envy.

A week or two ago, I watched a documentary on PBS about Gene Kelly. That was a different kind of dancing, of course, but Kelly always came across as a normal guy — just a normal guy, except that, boy, could he dance.

I am 43 years old, overweight, badly out of shape, and I was clumsy even when I wasn’t overweight. But it’s fun to imagine being the kind of guy who could impress the ladies on the dance floor.

A real-life “Terminal” — in Kenya!

During our pre-field training for the Kenya trip, we watched a clip of the Steven Spielberg / Tom Hanks movie “The Terminal” as part of a unit on crossing cultural differences.

Well, the blog Mission Safari has pointed out a newspaper story about a real-life situation in which a man had to camp out for a year at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi! (Free registration is required to read the story.) He had renounced his Kenyan citizenship but was not accepted in the U.K., where he planned to move, and so was in a legal and diplomatic “no man’s land” similar to Hanks’ character in the movie. Now, however, he has finally been allowed to become a British citizen.

According to the dates in the newspaper article, he would have been at Jomo Kenyatta during our trip last year. I might have walked right past him and not realized it!