December 2010 Archives
December 31, 2010
KNOXVILLE--By now you've heard the story. At midnight on January 1, thanks to a programming error, many of the world's computers and microchips will assume that it's the year one all over again. What that means for humanity is anyone's guess.
"Computers generally use one number to represent years," explained University of Tennessee computer science professor Bruce Coppock. "When we hit 2011, or the number one in computer language, those computers that haven't been updated will assume the Julian and Gregorian calendars have reset. We'll be back in the Han Dynasty and the reign of Tiberius Julius Caesar Augustus."
Many of the world's electronic devices could be affected--everything from cash machines and Easy Bake Ovens to nuclear missiles.
But there is no consensus, even among experts, about how bad the Y2K+11 crisis will be.
Albert Newland, a computer programmer with the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge, is cautious but optimistic.
"I think there will be some minor problems," said Newland. "But the Internal Revenue Service, the Social Security Administration, the Department of Defense and other government agencies have been working on this problem for years. Based on what I've heard from banks and several companies in the private sector, the doom and gloom scenario is unlikely. I bought some bottled water and Twinkies to be on the safe side, but I didn't stockpile gasoline."
Others see cause for concern. One local group, calling itself the Sons and Daughters of the Apocalypse, think the end is nigh. They warn of a variety of problems happening at once: power blackouts, unchecked fires, famine, water shortages, roving street gangs dressed like clowns, airplanes falling from the sky. The group has speculated that President Obama may use the chaos to institute martial law and seize dictatorial powers.
"We've got enough food, water, fuel and ammunition to last 10 years," said Timothy Myers, one of the group's members. "I know we've heard this before. This time it's real. And we'll be ready for whatever the government has up its sleeve."
December 30, 2010
NEW YORK--Video game developer and publisher Rockstar Games has released a Knoxville-based version of its popular Grand Theft Auto series. Players take on the role of criminal Johnny Vance and are given missions by kingpins in the city's illicit underworld. Game play combines elements of a third-person shooter and a driving game, allowing players to move through a three-dimensional version of modern day Knoxville. Players have considerable freedom to maneuver through the game's environment. The game's missions include crashing a helicopter into the Sunsphere, stealing Popcorn Sutton's beard from a rival street gang and beating up players from the Ice Bears hockey team. Later missions require you to perform such tasks as kidnapping former Vols' coach Lane Kiffin and assassinating the leader of a gang of Fountain City ducks.
December 28, 2010
CLINTON--A 28-year old couch potato is unlikely to qualify to compete in the 2012 summer Olympics. Leon Wright, who has lived in his parents' basement since graduating high school a decade ago, rarely leaves the house, and walks an average of just 200 steps a day, mostly to the refrigerator and toilet. His diet consists almost exclusively of pizza, potato chips and Mountain Dew. "I don't think I'm going to make it," the Olympic hopeful told reporters during a press conference Monday. "I'd really have to improve my running speed and stamina. I think the U.S.A. is going to have to pull this one off without Leon Wright." Wright's family is disappointed, but supportive. "I had such high hopes for him," says Wright's mother Betty. "If there was an event for Super Mario Galaxy 2, he'd bring home the gold."
December 26, 2010
EAST TENNESSEE--Local retailers are getting into the holiday spirit. With just 364 shopping days until Christmas, many stores already have their festive displays set up for the 2011 season. Many of the shops at Turkey Creek have set up Christmas trees, tinsel, angels and reindeer. Knoxville Center Mall has unveiled its Santa Claus, who has begun receiving visits from children eager for next year's gifts. "I love everything about Christmas," said one delighted mall patron. "This afternoon my husband and I set up our tree and put the lights up outside on our house. We're pretty sure this will be the best Christmas ever." Others are hesitant for such an early launch. "It seems they start decorating earlier every year," said shopper Angie Buckman. "Personally I'm happy to wait until February. Let's give Valentine's Day a chance to be its own holiday."
December 24, 2010
NORTH KNOXVILLE--Failed Tennessee gubernatorial candidate, media sensation and international man of mystery Basil Marceaux was freed from a chimney in the Edgewood neighborhood early this morning.
Police responded to a call from a homeowner on Edgewood Avenue at about 1:30 a.m. The resident, Amanda Housewright, reported hearing strange noises coming from her chimney.
"I'm normally a pretty sound sleeper, so I wasn't sure why I woke up," said Housewright. "After I got my bearings, I realized there was someone in my chimney singing about honey baked hams. That didn't seem like the kind of person who would rob and kill me, but I called the police to be on the safe side."
Responding officers found a pair of legs dangling out of Housewright's chimney. After prying the beefy thighs loose, police recognized the intruder as Marceaux dressed in a Santa Claus costume.
"I'd know Basil Marceaux anywhere," said officer Jacob Davidson. "I voted for him. And Knoxville police have been protecting him for months from the same men who shot Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King Jr."
Police also found a sleigh, several reindeer, a list labeled "naughty," a bag of toys and a Winchester rifle on the roof of Housewright's home, fueling speculation that Marceaux may either be Santa Claus, or that he may be running for the office in 2012. It is unknown why he would climb down a chimney the night before Christmas Eve.
Marceaux became a national celebrity earlier this year when his Republican gubernatorial campaign video became a viral hit. Marceaux's campaign was featured on "The Colbert Report," and the candidate himself appeared on "Jimmy Kimmel Live." Though he failed to become Tennessee's next governor, he received 3,508 votes. He currently has a Christmas song available for download on iTunes. He enjoys the second amendment and sausage.
Marceaux was sent on his way by police and told not to enter any more chimneys without permission. Marceaux vowed to turn his attention to gunning down mistletoe.
December 23, 2010
KNOXVILLE--WBIR-TV evening anchor Robin Wilhoit was not able to secure a place on Santa's famous naughty list this year. Despite engaging in a variety of impish, naughty and just plain despicable acts of behavior in 2010, Wilhoit remained in Santa's good graces. "I'm not sure what I'm doing wrong," confessed an agitated Wilhoit. "I blew up Neyland Stadium and dyed the Tennessee River to be Alabama red. I even spoiled the ending to 'Lost' on live television before the series finale aired. But here I am on the nice list. I'm not sure what it takes to get through to that puffy jackass. But I'll find a way." Wilhoit remained tight-lipped about any diabolical plans for 2011, but promised that her wrath would not soon be forgotten.
December 21, 2010
WEST KNOXVILLE--What was once a 150-store shopping mall is now a smoldering crater, the latest casualty in the war on Christmas. West Town Mall was obliterated yesterday evening when tanks rolled through West Knoxville shelling pro-Christmas businesses. At least six armored vehicles approached the 1,334,000 square foot retail compound from the north, east and west, firing mortar rounds, and crushing pedestrians and cars beneath their tracks. Several other stores adjacent to Kingston Pike were also lost during the vicious assault. Thousands of shoppers are presumed dead. "It was terrifying," said a weeping consumer who was uncovered beneath the wreckage. "I was at Sephora sampling mascara when the ceiling collapsed. Everyone was screaming. I didn't think I would ever see my kids again. I'm never wishing anyone a merry Christmas again."
December 19, 2010
KINGSTON--Seeking to bolster its public image following a coal ash spill two years ago, the Tennessee Valley Authority has announced plans for a sludge-themed breakfast cereal. TVA revealed its Toxic Sludgeos cereal on Saturday at a press conference. The cereal is made from real ash sludge, which is pressed into dough, rolled and toasted. The result is a concoction not unlike a putrid gray version of Corn Flakes. "Toxic Sludgeos stays mushy even in milk," said TVA spokesman Carl King. "Packed with vitamins and minerals, this delicious cereal is part of a well-balanced breakfast. It has been independently tested, and is guaranteed to start your day cancer and respiratory ailment free." TVA is the nation's largest public utility and smallest cereal manufacturer. It provides power and the most important meal of the day to almost nine million consumers in seven states.
December 17, 2010
KNOXVILLE--For more than three weeks now, evergreen trees with colored lights have been observing the dark streets of Knoxville. Just before Thanksgiving, a small forest began to arrive, setting up rooftop outposts all across the city. Silently these sky trees watch and wait.
But why? Do they mean us harm? Or are they protecting us from some larger, mysterious threat?
"It's pretty scary when you think about it," said Ken Paragin. "One day there's nothing there. The next, these ominous trees are on roofs everywhere. You know that feeling you get on the back of your neck when you just know someone is watching you? I have that all the time now. I'm afraid to go outside."
Paragin isn't alone. Knoxvillians are growing concerned.
"The city assures us that these trees are harmless," said Megan Donnover. "But I'm just not so sure. I've been to the movies. Next thing you know, buildings will be exploding and Will Smith will be flying a UFO through Farragut. I don't think my nerves can take it."
Numerous theories have sprung up to explain the trees: an impending alien invasion, the beginnings of the 2012 Mayan apocalypse, a precursor to the rapture. Some even think it could be the makings of clever new al-Qaeda plot.
"This is just the sort of thing the terrorists would do: hide in plain sight as sweet, innocent foliage," said Patrick Donath. "Then when our defenses are down: POW! This is why I tear down every plant I see now. You can never be too careful."
But the City of Knoxville is urging everyone to remain calm and go about business as usual.
"We have every reason to believe that these coniferous sentinels have our best interests at heart," said the mayor's office in a statement. "We have seen no indication that the so-called roof forest poses a threat to the city at large. Nonetheless, we will take every precaution to ensure that the people of Knoxville are safe and secure this holiday season."
December 16, 2010
FARRAGUT--One of the city's oldest pairs of sneakers is set to be bulldozed later this week. Purchased in 1994 by a then 24-year old Chris Kenner, the pair of black Converse All-Stars is now scheduled for demolition by Cherri Kenner of Farragut. The "Chucks," as they are sometimes called, were purchased by Kenner as a tribute to Nirvana following the suicide of the band's lead singer Kurt Cobain. The shoes have not been worn since 1996. "Their loss would be significant to the fabric of the Kenner household," said Chris of the impending removal. "What we need to do is encourage people and make them realize that they have an asset rather than a liability." He added that Cherri Kenner is a greedy developer who can't stand the sight of anything older than three years old.
December 14, 2010
KNOXVILLE--Music fans are already getting a taste of what the spring's Big Ears Festival will have to offer, thanks to an internal memo from AC Entertainment that was leaked on the Internet. The document describes the instrumental stylings of Irina Antonova, an 87-year old Russian woman who will gargle popular Slovak folk songs onstage during the three day event. "The mission of Big Ears has always been to provide a platform for unique musical experiences that don't necessarily fit into the mainstream," stated the memo. "We think the somber and melodic tones of gargling women from the old country can only enhance the listening experience for our fans." Other performers rumored to appear on the bill include a leaky faucet and a small, screaming child.
December 12, 2010
UNIVERSITY OF TENNESSEE-- Knoxville police arrested a large sentient snowman early this morning in conjunction with a brawl at a Cumberland Avenue bar. Frosty the Snowman is accused of assaulting 21-year old bar patron Rudolph Reindeer inside the establishment. According to the police report, Frosty made unprovoked comments about the size and coloration of Reindeer's nose. Witnesses say Reindeer ignored the remarks and was punched in the back of the head. The fight then escalated as other patrons begin throwing chairs and bottles of beer. Several of those involved were taken to University of Tennessee Medical Center, including Cindy Lou Who, 24, and an unidentified grandmother, who was accidentally run over by the fleeing Reindeer. All those suffering injuries have been released from the hospital. A handcuffed Frosty was overheard saying that he will be back again someday.
December 10, 2010
EAST TENNESSEE--A mix of grass, dirt and sod is making for imagined slick driving conditions from Harriman to Morristown and forcing scores of schools across the eastern part of the state to cancel classes or delay opening.
About zero inches of snow have fallen in areas around Knoxville this morning. Forecasts call for parts of Oak Ridge and Oliver Springs to receive negative one to two inches, with even smaller amounts in Alcoa and Maryville. The National Weather Service says some eastern areas will get non-freezing rain later in the day.
Knox County, Anderson County, Scott County, Campbell County, Clinton and Oak Ridge schools have all called off classes Friday. Blount County, Alcoa and Maryville schools are all scheduled to open four hours late.
Grocery stores across Knoxville have been bombarded by shoppers preparing in haste for the dreaded grassy apocalypse. Reports coming from two Food City stores on Broadway indicate that shoppers quickly bought up all the bread, milk and eggs at those supermarkets. Similar accounts are pouring in from across Knoxville and surrounding cities.
"What if I can't get out of my house for a week?" asked one nervous shopper. "My family will have to resort to eating doorknobs and cat food. I don't think we could survive that way."
The roads are no better. Wrecks on Interstate 40 have brought traffic to a standstill. Road crews have been unable to spread chemicals on the Interstate due to the chaos. Even traffic on normally smooth Kingston Pike is congested almost beyond belief. Many motorists have pulled their cars over and begun walking home on the non-icy streets.
"People never forget how to ride a bicycle, but we forget how to drive on roads in a grassy mix," said Benjamin Sanders of Knoxville Area Transit. "I've never seen the roads this bad."
Gov. Phil Bredesen has requested 1,000 National Guard members to the state to respond to conditions on the ground.
"We are confident that the additional manpower will get us through this, our darkest hour," said Bredesen.
December 9, 2010
PARKRIDGE--A four-month old kitten has succeeded in knocking down one local family's Christmas tree, fueling speculation that the feline may be a minion of the very fires of hell. Young Fishy Hodge, a tortoiseshell cat residing on Jefferson Ave., has spent the past week living in the branches of her family's artificial Christmas tree. In addition to sending more than a dozen brightly colored balls to shatter on the floor, Hodge has dislodged the star from the treetop and bitten the head off a stuffed bear ornament. Fishy's reign of yuletide terror culminated this morning when she brought down the entire tree and ran upstairs dragging a strand of lights behind her. Family members add that the tiny feline is up to two packs of Camels a day, unfiltered.
December 7, 2010
TENNESSEE--Several Tennesseans are demanding that Santa Claus turn over a copy of his birth certificate. Citing concerns that jolly old Saint Nick is not a United States resident and thus in the country illegally, a group known as Citizens for Freedom and Transparency is considering a lawsuit to force Claus to turn over identifying documents. "What I want to know is why Santa can't produce a birth certificate," said the group's president Jason Woginrich. "I don't know anybody else that can't come up with one. I think that's a valid question. No health records, no school records, no birth certificate. What do we really know about this guy?" "Satan Claus is not an American citizen," added Brandi Adair, another concerned resident. "But we're letting him fly a sleigh through American air space? This is an accident just waiting to happen."
December 5, 2010
KNOXVILLE ZOO--One of the red panda cubs featured at the new Firefox Live (www.firefoxlive.org) website has already been voted out of the Knoxville Zoo. The website was launched last week by Mozilla, creator of the Firefox Web browser, and follows the zoo's four-month old red panda cubs 24 hours a day, seven days a week as they compete for cash and prizes. Sadly, one of the cubs failed to win an immunity challenge and was voted out of the zoo at a tribal council. "It was nothing personal," said the panda's sister, who is also a contestant. "It's a game. We made a strategic decision to vote against her based on her performance." Despite elimination so early in the season, the young panda has already been offered a spot on ABC's "Dancing with the Stars."
December 3, 2010
Niota-based crime fighter Lava Lad was found dead Thursday afternoon, following a 10-month lack of crime wave.
The crimson-suited hero was discovered sitting on the curb of a residential street, slumped over, his face wreathed in complete monotony. Investigators have ruled out foul play.
"It looks like he got so bored he went to sleep and never woke up," said police spokesman George Allen. "It's kind of a cruel joke, someone getting super powers in a town with one stop light and a population of 781. It's too bad he was so young. Maybe if he'd had a driver's license."
A police investigation has revealed the pint-sized superhero to be 15-year old Niota resident David Duggar. Speculation is that Duggar acquired super powers last year after he was bitten by a radioactive volcano during science class at K-8 Niota Elementary School.
Duggar was often seen ambling up and down Farrell Street in costume, kicking pebbles and occasionally scolding children. Neighbor Cathy Gladwell reports the caped crusader once helped her carry her groceries inside. "He sighed a lot," she said of the incident. "I felt kind of bad for him. I offered to let him mow my grass but he didn't really seem interested."
Niota is a small town approximately two square miles in size. It is located in McMinn County. Niota is arguably most famous for its resident Harry T. Burn, whose vote secured the ratification of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, giving women the right to vote. Nothing else interesting has happened in Niota since.
This isn't the first time East Tennessee has failed the superhero community. Last year while visiting Knoxville, Spider-Man was forced to rent a scooter to patrol the streets due to the city's lack of skyscrapers.
Though Niota residents are sad to see Lava Lad go, comic book industry insiders predict that he will rise from the dead soon, just in time for a crossover event with Marvel Comics.
December 2, 2010
BEARDEN--When Carrie Giles heard noises coming from the alley behind her Bearden coffee shop, she expected to have to chase away teenagers or a raccoon. Instead, she found a confused, pantless Ralph Macchio clutching a whiskey bottle and singing Bananarama's "Cruel Summer." Macchio is best known as the actor who played Daniel LaRusso in "The Karate Kid" franchise. He spent much of the 1980s as a 20-something teen idol. But after 1992's "My Cousin Vinny," his career entered a slow, wheezy decline. Macchio has only acted in small roles since then. It is not known how he came to reside in a steel waste receptacle in Knoxville. After being discovered this morning by Giles, Macchio ran towards Kingston Pike, pausing only to crane kick a small dog. His current whereabouts are unknown.