Since this is my first column ever, I figured I'd start this semester off by giving you'uns the low down on who the present-day entertainment goddess is (pretty much a badass, thanks very much), how I got here and why I'll be the one writing 650 words every Friday.
Here are my likes:
Carolina Blondes from Sun Spot and Cinnamon Crunch bagels from Panera, but not simultaneously.
Making out in the library is the most lily-white way to consume an afternoon. This must take place between the stacks, preferably during finals week, but whenever is doable. (Hint: make sure to get caught.)
Snowball fights, rainbow-striped tights, flying kites, Christmas lights - these are a few of my favorite things, but I'm no Julie Andrews.
Also once upon a time there was a boy named Nekos who met a girl named Ellen, and now I smile twice as much as ever.
Here are my dislikes:
Ellen DeGeneres references. I can't help that I share a name with the world's leading dyke.
If anything, I always wanted to be that kid from "Almost Famous" who gets hired by Rolling Stone before he even loses his virginity, simply because his writing is so knocker.
That kid was dorky and innocent and wholly fulfilled by the company of pen and paper and a good album - and that was so me.
Except that I grew, both taller and more realistic and less innocent. I didn't graduate from junior high and go on to pack my bags for NYC. Rolling Stone never called, not even High Times, though I figured I could have told them a thing or two.
Instead, I picked UT-Knoxville from the lengthy ranks of Ivy League schools that pursued me. (Ahem, that would be . . . Maryville, UT-Knoxville, ETSU, Maryville, UT-Knoxville, ETSU, etc.) It was the decision of a lifetime, but I decided on UT for its stellar facilities (well, in retrospect . . .), academics-driven atmosphere (yawn) and not so close proximity -- exactly three and a half hours from Kingston Springs, a small town that served as my straightjacket for 18 years. Strapped down to curfews and gossip, I was ready to get the poop out.
Somehow my first semester at UT I ended up at the Christian Student Center, where I derived my entertainment solely from scavenger hunts, Bible bashes and hoe-downs. I got locked into a relationship where we were to focus on "our relationship in relation to God." (No hanky-panky allowed).
At night, I'd slip out onto the fire escape of my dorm to smoke cigarettes. I couldn't help but to wonder what I was missing out on. I soon grew weary of asking everyone to pray for my sinful nature, tired of the disdainful, disappointed looks I received when I admitted I drank a beer - or six.
Don't get me wrong, for some people this is all groovy gravy. Not for me. I began to distance myself from the lifestyle and the people I felt were stifling me from A to Z.
Eighteen years old, a freshman in college. I took a step back and decided to change my ways, but not in the traditional sense. I wanted to corrupt myself, for my writing's sake, of course. Writers just can't be wholesome people, and this I had to accept.
So for that reason I started to drink (because Hemingway did) and drug (because Hunter S. Thompson did) and "do it" (just perscuz it's fun).
Soon after I decided to rededicate my life and submit it to sin, I moseyed into the Beacon with my gray eyes already locked on the prize of "Entertainment Editor."
Kristi Maxwell (the then entertainment editor) seduced potential writers at that first meeting by pronouncing, "Entertainment is sexy."
And it is, and that's why I'm still here three years later. Not because I'm sexy (though no doubt I have my days), but because here is where the fun is, and I'm the lucky one who gets to reflect on it all.

Ellen Mallernee may be reached at emallern@utk.edu.