Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Neil Diamond Says "Sweet Caroline" Written in Memphis

Posted By on Wed, Nov 21, 2007 at 4:00 AM

Well, now we know the secret. (And we know you've been worried about this.)

Neil Diamond has finally revealed that the inspiration for his 1969 chart-topping song "Sweet Caroline" was, in fact, a very young Caroline Kennedy. But what really raised our eyebrows when we read about this was the revelation that he wrote the song in an hour "while staying in a hotel in Memphis."

He doesn’t say when, or where, but it's nice to know that Memphis has played a role in yet another hit song. For more, go here.

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Beat the Black Friday Crowds

Posted By on Wed, Nov 21, 2007 at 4:00 AM

You could freeze your ass off waiting in line at Wal-Mart at 5 a.m. Friday morning while some lady with a mullet and a Tweety Bird tattoo stands next to you talking about her new double-wide.

Or you could sleep in and head to the Le Bonheur Christmas Cottage at the Agricenter. The expo runs Friday, Nov. 23rd through Sun., Nov. 25th. All proceeds go to Le Bonheur Children's Medical Center's new "Clubhouse" resource center, which will feature computers, laundry and kitchen facilities, lounges, and sleep rooms for patient families.

Shoppers at the Christmas Cottage can choose from jewelry, clothing, pottery, and toys. Santa will be present for pictures with the kids. For more, go to the LeBonheur website.

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Grizzlies' Mike Miller "Looks Like an Old Lesbian"

Posted By on Wed, Nov 21, 2007 at 4:00 AM

"Men Who Look Like Old Lesbians," a photo blog dedicated to pointing out which famous dudes look like ladies, features a shot of the Griz' Mike Miller sporting barrettes in his curly locks.

Ouch. But don't worry: Miller is in good company. Other men who look like lesbians include Don Imus, Roger Ebert, Lou Reed, and Sonic Youth's Thurston Moore. And none of them can shoot 3-pointers worth a damn.

Check it out. (You'll have to scroll through a bunch of pix; Miller's on the Nov. 2, posting. But it's worth it.)

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Invest in Memphis Sewers!

Posted By on Wed, Nov 21, 2007 at 4:00 AM

You've been depositing your tax dollars into the Memphis sewer system for years now. Here's your chance to to get a little of that money back.

Financial forecasters at Fitch Ratings assign the City of Memphis sanitary sewerage system revenue bonds an "AA" rating. Fitch likes the system's low rate structure, manageable capital needs, and "rapid debt amortization," among other attributes that make no sense to us. We're uncertain, for instance, whether "low liquidity" has to do with the sewer or the bonds.

Anyhow, the Fitch report says that our residential and commercial wastewater bills are the lowest in the country compared to similar municipal sewer systems.

New MLGW president Jerry Collins oversaw the city's wastewater treatment facilities as director of public works during its transformation from environmental hazard to sound investment.

The bonds go on sale December 4th through Morgan Keegan, with proceeds financing capital improvements to the city sewer system.

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Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Elvis is Alive Museum Comes Home!

Posted on Tue, Nov 20, 2007 at 4:00 AM

Mississippian Andy Key has purchased the collection of Elvis Presley memorabilia displayed near St. Louis for the past 15 years as the Elvis is Alive Museum.

Key, 38, won an eBay auction held by museum owner Bill Beeny, 80, including documentation proving that Presley survived beyond the commonly accepted death date of August 16, 1977. Beeny assembled FBI documents pertaining to Presley's involvement with the feds, a tape recording of the King's voice made after 1977, and a copy of the DNA test proving that someone other than Elvis occupies his supposed casket.

Key has said that he'll move the collection to Presley’s birth state of Mississippi. He's considering sites in Jackson, Hattiesburg, and Laurel.

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No Charges Against West Memphis Police in Killing of DeAuntae Farrow

Posted By on Tue, Nov 20, 2007 at 4:00 AM

A special prosecutor for the Arkansas State Police announced that a criminal investigation into the June 22nd West Memphis police killing of 12-year-old DeAuntae Farrow turned up no evidence to support criminal charges against West Memphis police officer Erik Sammis, who shot the boy, or his partner Jimmy Ellis.

Sammis and Ellis were staking out an apartment complex next to the one Farrow lived in, when they saw Farrow and his cousin playing nearby. The officers claim that they mistook Farrow's toy pistol for a real gun in the dark. They ordered the boys to lay down. Farrow's cousin obliged, officers say, but Farrow did not, and instead moved toward the officers and raised the toy gun, prompting Sammis to fire.

H.G. Foster, the special prosecutor, said at a press conference today, that officers followed protocol. The state investigation of the shooting is closed. Federal investigators earlier found no evidence to support prosecuting Sammis for violating Farrow's civil rights. A $125 million civil suit by Farrow's mother against the West Memphis police is still pending.

Foster said that Farrow's last words were, "It's just a toy."

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No Memphis Turkey for Timberlake

Posted By on Tue, Nov 20, 2007 at 4:00 AM

Sorry to all you fans hoping to see Justin Timberlake cruising around Memphis for Thanksgiving with the family, but JT is busy in Australia with his mom Lynne, stepdad Paul, and ... Jessica Biel.

Timberlake has been in Oz for several weeks now, while Biel stayed behind here in the states, spurring rumors the couple had cooled a bit. Not so, according to locals, who've seen them getting cozy at various hotspots around Melbourne. See what the two incognito A-listers have been doing while away here.

Oh well. There's always Christmas. We'll keep you posted.

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Monday, November 19, 2007

Timberlake Wins Two at American Music Awards

Posted By on Mon, Nov 19, 2007 at 4:00 AM

Justin Timberlake did Memphis proud last night by scoring the favorite male pop/rock artist and favorite soul/R&B album honors during the 35th Annual American Music Awards. He was topped only by Daughtry, the band led by a former American Idol contestant, which won three awards.

The star-studded musical event aired Sunday night on ABC. Nominees are selected based on national sales and radio play. Borrowing a page from American Idol, this year's winners were determined by votes cast online, a first in the award show's history.

Currently touring in Australia, Timberlake appeared via satellite from Melbourne to say thanks for the award. "I know you have to be a male and an artist to win this one -- and thankfully, I am both." Har.

To read more go here.

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Global Warming to Have Worst Impact on the South

Posted By on Mon, Nov 19, 2007 at 4:00 AM

From The Washington Post: "Climate change may be global in its sweep, but not all of the globe's citizens will share equally in its woes. And nowhere is that truth more evident, or more worrisome, than in its projected effects on agriculture.

"Several recent analyses have concluded that the higher temperatures expected in coming years -- along with salt seepage into groundwater as sea levels rise and anticipated increases in flooding and droughts -- will disproportionately affect agriculture in the planet's lower latitudes, where most of the world's poor live ..."

In the U.S., that means the South's agriculture will be most affected. Read the whole story here.

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Elkington's Birmingham Development Hits Delay

Posted on Mon, Nov 19, 2007 at 4:00 AM

Beale Street developer John Elkington is facing price increases and delays in building an entertainment district in Birmingham.

Earlier this year his firm Performa Entertainment Real Estate was chosen by the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex to develop the downtown project, but economic factors, including a credit crunch, have slowed progress there. Although Elkington had hoped to secure funding in the amount of $50 million by the end of 2007, he told The Birmingham News that the total investment would be closer to $80 million. A Birmingham firm is helping Elkington find funding. If obtained by spring of 2008, the district would open by summer 2009.

Despite delays, Birmingham officials are excited about the project, which includes hotels and nightclubs opened by American Idol winners Taylor Hicks and Ruben Studdard. The city is also exploring the possibility of a domed stadium.

Read the story here.

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Ole Miss to Host Presidential Debate

Posted on Mon, Nov 19, 2007 at 4:00 AM

Mark September 26, 2008 on your calendar. The non-partisan Commission on Presidential Debates announced today that the first presidential debate will take place in Oxford, Mississippi, at Ole Miss' 1,200-seat Gertrude Ford Center for the Performing Arts.

The other debates are scheduled for Nashville's Belmont College, where Fred Thompson could enjoy a home-podium advantage, and Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York.

No word yet on whether or not locals and Ole Miss alumni plan to tailgate in the Grove prior to the debate.

Participants in the debate to be announced later.

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Sunday, November 18, 2007

Tell Sweden About Your Odd Balls, er, Oddballs

Posted By on Sun, Nov 18, 2007 at 4:00 AM

Winters in Stockholm must be long and cold and boring, because the producers of a Swedish TV program called The Most Extraordinary Person Show have now turned to America to find the most offbeat person in our country.

Who is the most likeable, extraodinary, and offbeat person in your part of America?" they ask. "Your local odd character? There is probably one in every town."

Just ONE? Hey, this is Memphis, remember.

According to a press release, "Filip Hamar and Fredrick Wikingsson are two of Sweden's most beloved TV hosts. They will be in America from December 2007 to February 2008. Their assignment: Find America's most extraordinary, likeable, and offbeat person (and 99 others who are pretty darn close).

Know anybody? Remember: They have to be "likeable." Go to the show's website to learn more. Watch the promo video to get an idea of what they're after.

All we can say is, "oh geez, you betcha."

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Detroit Ranked "Most Dangerous" City in Controversial Report; Memphis 8th

Posted By on Sun, Nov 18, 2007 at 4:00 AM

AP - In another blow to the Motor City's tarnished image, Detroit pushed past St. Louis to become the nation's most dangerous city, according to a private research group's controversial analysis, released Sunday, of annual FBI crime statistics.

The study drew harsh criticism even before it came out. The American Society of Criminology launched a pre-emptive strike Friday, issuing a statement attacking it as "an irresponsible misuse" of crime data.

The 14th annual "City Crime Rankings: Crime in Metropolitan America" was published by CQ Press, a unit of Congressional Quarterly Inc. It is based on the FBI's Sept. 24 crime statistics report.

The report looked at 378 cities with at least 75,000 people based on per-capita rates for homicide, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary and auto theft. Each crime category was considered separately and weighted based on its seriousness, CQ Press said.

Last year's crime leader, St. Louis, fell to No. 2. Another Michigan city, Flint, ranked third, followed by Oakland Calif.; Camden, N.J.; Birmingham, Ala.; North Charleston, S.C.; Memphis, Tenn.; Richmond, Calif.; and Cleveland.

The study ranked Mission Viejo, Calif., as the safest U.S. city, followed by Clarkstown, N.Y.; Brick Township, N.J.; Amherst, N.Y.; and Sugar Land, Texas.

CQ Press spokesman Ben Krasney said details of the weighting system were proprietary. It was compiled by Kathleen O'Leary Morgan and Scott Morgan, whose Morgan Quitno Press published it until its acquisition by CQ Press.

The study assigns a crime score to each city, with zero representing the national average. Detroit got a score of 407, while St. Louis followed at 406. The score for Mission Viejo, in affluent Orange County, was minus 82.

Detroit was pegged the nation's murder capital in the 1980s and has lost nearly 1 million people since 1950, according to the Census Bureau. Downtown sports stadiums and corporate headquarters - along with the redevelopment of the riverfront of this city of 919,000 - have slowed but not reversed the decline. Officials have said crime reports don't help.

Detroit Deputy Police Chief James Tate had no immediate comment on the report. But the mayor of 30th-ranked Rochester, N.Y. - an ex-police chief himself - said the study's authors should consider the harm that the report causes.

"What I take exception to is the use of these statistics and the damage they inflict on a number of these cities," said Mayor Robert Duffy, chairman of the Criminal and Social Justice Committee for the U.S. Conference of Mayors.

The rankings "do groundless harm to many communities," said Michael Tonry, president of the American Society of Criminology.

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Friday, November 16, 2007

Hazardous Waste Center to Open Near Shelby Farms

Posted By on Fri, Nov 16, 2007 at 4:00 AM

If paint cans, florescent light bulbs, old computers, and other types of hazardous waste are taking over your garage, help is on the way.

Beginning Tuesday, Nov. 27, the county's new Household Hazardous Waste Collection Facility at 6305 Haley Road near Shelby Farms will be open every Tuesday and Saturday.

"Now every resident can do something to help the environment," said Mayor AC Wharton during a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the site Tuesday morning.

Hazardous waste, ranging from aerosol spray cans and pool chemicals to herbicides and motor oil, can be dropped off at the site. Employees of the facility will sort the materials into one of three rooms -- the flammable room, the nonflammable room, and the corrosive room.

"We have a sprinkler system in place and two-hour firewalls installed in case something happens. Those walls will contain a fire in one room for two hours, which is ample time for the fire department to arrive" said Jodie Nelson, the facility operator.

The center will also accept old computers (like E-Cycle, but for real this time), ink cartridges, typewriters, and cell phones.

The center was funded by a $500,000 grant from the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation. It was modeled after similar sites in Nashville and Knoxville.

-- Bianca Phillips

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FedEx Stock Drops on Reduced Earnings Expectations

Posted By on Fri, Nov 16, 2007 at 4:00 AM

Upon news that FedEx cut its earning expectations for the year, shares of the company sank almost 5 percent during morning trading [Friday].

The company, citing rising fuel costs, said that earnings per individual shares would be 20 cents lower than previously expected. Analysts had forecast an earning of $1.60 to $1.75 per share for the second quarter ending November 30th. Now FedEx expects to earn $1.45 to $1.55 per share.

Since September, the company's fuel costs have risen more than 8 percent, roughly $85 million. A FedEx spokesman said that the company would be taking steps to reduce expenses and is reviewing its capital investment plans.

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