Monday, June 23, 2008

Olympic Games

On August 8, all eyes will once again be on the Olympics as Bejing, China takes their turn at hosting the worlds greatest games.
Every 4 years, I find myself trying to find some Olympic sport that can hold my attention long enough to watch. Among the many events (302 events in 28 sports to be exact) there are a few that I find myself engrossed in despite the over abundance of "feel good stories" that go along with every event. Those are great by the way if there are one or two over the whole event, but it's almost every five minutes and you are seeing a back story of an athelete who overcame insurmountable odds to represent his or her country in the games. They do it so often that it's almost like they are making the stuff up. Here's a thought NBC...just about every one of us, has had to overcome something to make it where we are today. Pick a couple extra ordinary stories and go with them, but don't oversaturate the broadcasts with hundreds of feel good stories per night. It gets old.
Enough of that though...the point is, there are a few sports that I enjoy watching unfold, and here they are in no particular order...

1. Track and Field: This is the only time I will watch Track and Field. It's really the only time I care about it. It's neat yes, but for some reason, your normal run of the mill (no pun intended) track and field hold no meaning compared to the Olympics. I love watching the fasted people in the world race each other...I love seeing the pole vaulters, and I love the's just great fun!

2. Basketball (Mens): I'm intrigued by the USA team that has lost this event the past few times. It mezmorizes me every 4 years because it's amazing to see a team like ours with such talent squander away a win because the players don't know how to play as a team. They are all usually made up of stars who don't "play well with others" because in their own minds, they are each the "Star" of the team and therefore should be the teams "go to" player. Too many selfish USA players almost make me want to root for someone else who has a team of unselfish players. They also all think they can get away with not giving alot of effort. They just go with the mindset that they are the best no matter what, and they think they don't have to try and that attitude gets them beat in the end. I end up rooting for them in the end, but when they lose, I can't help but to have seen it coming.

3. Basketball (Womens): To me, Olympic wise, the women are much more fun to watch and much more easier to root for. It's because they play as a team and play hard without giving up. They may play below the rim and that may not be exciting for some, but it's neat to see a team work as a team and win.

(Basketball Side Note): I liked it much better when the USA basketball teams were comprised of college athletes, not pro's.)

4. Gymnastics (Women): Sue me. For some reason, and I don't know how they do it, NBC turns this event into the most dramatic thing I've ever seen. Once again, this is another event that I only watch one every 4 years. Like track and field, outside of the games, it just doesn't carry any meaning with me.

5. Diving (mens or womens): There is just something neat about people diving from really high up and making very little splash.

6. Soccer (mens or womens): My favorite sport on the plant. I'm a year round soccer fan and soccer match watcher. Don't even bother to talk to me or call me during a soccer match. Go USA!!

7. Beach Volleyball (women): Do they even have beach volleyball for men? If so, I don't watch for obvious reasons. The women look much better playing beach anything than men do. Aside from that, I'm not even sure this is a sport that needs to be at the olympics...I never hear about it any other time.

That about does it. These are about the only events you'll catch me watching. The rest of the time I try to figure out how table tennis made it to the olympics as a sport. I mean, isn't this just a basement/garage game? Whats next? Fooseball? Hopscotch?

Until then, catch you later!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

South Knoxville Past

I was driving through South Knoxville last night, and as I passed all the sights and sounds that make up the south side of town, I got to thinking about the South Knoxville of my past. Places and things that had come and gone, and places that are still there and will probably always be there. Here is a rundown of what went through my head as I drove home last night...

...Man, how I miss Palace Lanes. For those of you who don't know, Palace Lanes, was a bowling alley in South Knoxville, close to the intersection of Chapman Hwy and Stone road. I remember growing up as a young child, I spent many Friday and Saturday nights there. My dad was a youth pastor, and of course one staple youth group activity is bowling. Now, I wasn't old enough to be in the youth group, but I went along, and I'm pretty sure that is the first place I ever got my hands on a bowling ball. I can still close my eyes and picture what it looked like on the inside and smell the burgers and fries cooking at the snack bar. One day, it closed down...I'm not sure why, and I was too young to read the paper and find out. Alas the building still remains...A reminder of an old haunt that I wish were still around. In it's place now is the "Southern Car Emporium" (I don't know so don't ask), but the sign still stands...a bowling ball and a bowling pin atop a beacon left for those like me who treasure remnants of some memories.

...Good 'Ole Tennessee Valley Skating Rink. Man was this place a South Knoxville Staple. Still open until just a couple years ago, this was another place that I frequented as a young 'en. It was close to the intersection of Chapman Hwy and John Sevier Hwy. A youth group activity must, again I went plenty when I was a kid with my dads youth group, I went for countless friends birthday parties and then of course I went plenty with my own youth group when I got older. Lock ins there were always fun! I can still remember the joy of ordering fries and air heads from the concession stand and of course, the carpeted walls. While this place sometimes hosted the scummy people of South Knox, it was still a fun clean place to go and skate. Now, it's torn down, and in it's place a new shopping center arises. Not even a building to look at and remember anymore here folks...just memories.

...Putt Putt Golf and Games. The sign still stands, as does the building on Chapman Hwy across from Burger King and Nova Information Systems. It closed down when I was still very young, but I do remember going for many birthday parties as a child. For the longest time, this building stood vacant, and I had dreams that someone would take it over and remodel it, and clean up the old putt putt course, but alas it never happened. Now, it's taken over by Nova, who has taken over most of the buildings around that stretch of Chapman Hwy...

...Speaking of Nova taking over buildings in that area, I remember 3 stores that once were places I went frequently...most of the time with my mom or grandma, but still pretty frequently. There was the Lowe's on the left side of Chapman Hwy...closed down, and eventually taken over by Nova...there was Kroger and K-Mart on the right side of Chapman Hwy, both now taken over by Nova. Kroger closed down when the store in Seymour was built, and K-Mart pretty much went the way of the Buffalo. I still remember the joy and excitement of going to that K-Mart for an Icee and some pop corn...Oh, the good 'ole days....

Well, reminiscing about old times pretty much took up the rest of my drive home last night, and while there are many other places I could list, these are just a couple that top my list. If you have lived here your whole life and are somewhat familiar with South Knoxville, I hope this has brought back some fond memories. If not, I hope it gives you a glimpse into the past of what used to be.

One of these days, I'm going to write about the old haunts in Pigeon Forge that have fallen by the wayside...Magic World anyone??

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Blast from the past

This morning, my wife and I rolled out of bed, and our plans were to go to Gatlinburg for no other reason, than to eat at one of my favorite Pizzarias-NY Pizza. It is a spectacular pizza joint, located on the bottom of the Mountain Mall, right next to Wendy's. It looks like a hole in the wall, but I promise, they make one of the best pies in the world. I was psyched.
Notice I said that was OUR plans. Higher powers had something else in mind for the Parkers today. Before we went to Gatlinburg, we had to make a quick stop at the local Kroger store. Our bank has a branch inside and they are open till 2pm on Saturdays. All we needed to do was to go inside, deposit a check, and get some cash for our Gatlinburg pizza trip, and then we would be on our way. Or so we thought.
Having banked at this bank for some time, I knew both the employees working today. They asked how we were and what we were up to, and we of course told them that we were fine and on our way to Gatlinburg for some of the best pizza around! One of the bankers then asked if I'd ever eaten at Elidios Pizza. I told him I'd never heard of it, and he told me I'd have to go sometime, and told me where it was at. I said thanks, and we talked a bit more about Gatlinburg and the pizza place there. Then it happened. The bank employee told me that the pizza place he was talking about was run by the same guy that used to have a pizza place at East Towne Mall (Knoxville Center Mall). It was called Cosimos Pizza.
I couldn't believe it. I was shocked. Back in the day, Cosimos was my favorite pizza! I didn't get it that often, because it was at the mall, and it was like 4 dollars per slice, but when I was there, that is where I chose to eat. 2 slices of pepperoni and a soda. Cosimos even made my top 3 pizzaria's! Then, about 8 or 9 years ago, Cosimos closed down, and was replace by Sbarro, the same pizzaria that is at West Town Mall. (YUK)
Since then, every time I go to the mall, I get kind of depressed because there is no more Cosimos Pizza. I always have to settle for something else, and it's never as good as Cosimos used to be. I was sure it was lost forever, only accessable in my memories. Little did I know of the events that were to happen on June 7th of 2008.
The employee of the bank, continued to tell me that the guy that owned Cosimos, left because he opened his own store. It' kind of a hole in the wall, he said, but as we had both already talked about, sometimes, those hole in the wall pizzaria's are the best. He's been there for 8 or 9 years now, every since he left the food court at the mall.
This changed everything. Suddenly, our trip to Gatlinburg was in jepordy. My wife had never had the joy of tasting a pizza from Cosimos, and it's been at least 8 years since I have had a delectable slice of pie from Cosimos, so on a dime, I decided that our Gatlinburg trip would have to wait for another day. Today, we were going to Knoxville to eat a pizza pie that I haven't had in years.
We got there around 2:30, after the lunch rush and before the dinner rush, so it wasn't too busy. It was a hole in the wall, just like we had been told. We went to the counter to order, and low and behold, I saw a face I hadn't seen in at least 8 years. I can't tell you his name, as I only know him as the Cosimos guy, but that was him! In the flesh. I was so excited. The prices were great too! Gone were the 4 dollar slices of pie, and in there place was 1.85 slices. We of course weren't going to settle for a slice. We ordered a whole pie. Not just a whole pie, and XL pie. 18 inches of pure circular pizza bliss with slices so big they can't fit on a plate. All this for only 12.95. Thats right...for an 18 inch XL pizza!! It was awesome! The flavor was the same, everything about the pizza was the same. Size, taste, look, it all brought back floods of mall pizza memories that I thought were gone forever. It was all back again.
No need to say this, but this was the best day I've had in a long time. I feel as though I found a long lost friend. I know it sounds silly, just being a pizza joint and all, but for me, it was an awesome, unexpected blast from the past. And trust me...I'll be back. And this time, it won't take another 8 or 9 years. It'll be alot sooner than that!
If you wanna try it out, go ahead. I recommend. It's back on my top 3 pizzaria list. It's at the corner of Callahan Drive and Central Ave. Pike. It's called Elidios Pizza. And it's phenominal. (Let me know if you go...I wanna go back soon!)