June 2012 Archives

June 29, 2012

Deadly 'MMMBop' virus resurfaces in East Tennessee

U.S. health officials reported on Wednesday that the infectious "MMMBop" virus had resurfaced in East Tennessee, but they stopped short of predicting another record outbreak of the deadly radio-borne disease.

"MMMBop" has been detected in iPods, iPads and iPhones in at least four East Tennessee counties so far this year, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which has tracked the virus since it first emerged in the United States in 1997.

Dr. Jennifer Vehoff, deputy director of the CDC's national center for musical diseases, said it was unclear whether the upbeat, sugary sweet pop melodies responsible for spreading the virus would pose as much of a health risk to the public as they did in 1997.

"Whether or not this season will be a replay of the summer of 1997 is a little early to say," Vehoff said. She did, however, advise people to physically destroy the portable media players where the catchy pop single is known to breed.

During the 1997 outbreak, according to the CDC there were a reported 2 million cases of "MMMBop" in the United Sates alone. Millions more were infected worldwide.

Symptoms of the disease in humans include the heart skipping a beat, the mumbling of incomprehensible lyrics, frequent screaming and spontaneous swooning. The disease is most prevalent among teenage girls, but the 1997 cases were reported among all ages and genders.

"To be honest, I thought the nightmare was over," said Vehoff. "We've had our hands full with Bieber Fever as it is. And now this? Our greatest fear is that the two diseases will somehow mutate into one super-virus. This country hasn't seen something like that since Beatlemania. If that happens, God help us all."

Dr. Martin Waring, director of the CDC's Center for Evaluation and Research, said on Thursday that two tests would be available for use in high-risk areas this summer.

"We've had limited success reminding girls that Isaac Hanson is like 30 now and married," he said. "That seems to help. But it weirdly doesn't stop the cougars. They eat that up, actually."

June 28, 2012

Oak Ridge man celebrates first anniversary of not using Google Plus

Greg Lavin of Oak Ridge was honored today by his family and friends with a special breakfast and other planned festivities to celebrate the first anniversary of his not having signed up for the Google Plus social networking service. All family members wore matching "Please God, not another social networking site" T-shirts in his honor. Five days earlier he celebrated the ninth anniversary of not having joined Second Life. Lavin said not signing up for Google Plus was miraculous and that the lack of its Circles, Hangouts and Sparks was a perfect match for his busy lifestyle of doing actual things. Lavin said he made the mistake of joining Facebook in 2010, where he spent three months as a day laborer living in a town called FarmVille. He managed to escape a life of indentured servitude after feeding his laptop to a goat.

June 26, 2012

Knox County Commission adopts policy on sacrifices to Dagon

The Knox County Commission Monday voted to adopt a written policy regarding the offering of sacrifices to the Assyro-Babylonian fertility god Dagon before board meetings. Officials said they hope the policy will protect them against lawsuits like one filed on June 15 against the Hamilton County Commission in Chattanooga. "Right after I joined the commission I met with a group who asked me if I would consider having a burnt grain offering instead of the ritual killing of an animal," said one county commissioner who asked to remain anonymous out of fear he would be smote by the unquenchable fury of Dagon. "We told them no. There's no way that would appease the mighty hand of the god of ancient Babylon. It's also part of the history of our country and we need to carry on the tradition." The commissioner said the courts favor such ritual sacrifices during public meetings, but that they must have a written, consistent, non-exclusive policy. "In my opinion our former practice was legal and inclusive, but we felt a lot more comfortable getting things down in writing. I hope Dagon buys it. You do not want to get on that guy's bad side."

June 24, 2012

UT to bulldoze entire Fort Sanders neighborhood 'just for the hell of it'

University of Tennessee officials said Saturday that the college plans to demolish the entire Fort Sanders neighborhood just for funsies. Grant Dickie, UT's vice chancellor for destroying historic buildings, told reporters that the university hasn't bulldozed a celebrated landmark in a few weeks and that he "is getting that itch again." "It's addictive," he said. "One minute you're doing it because the university needs a new state-of-the-art building it has to raise tuition eight percent to be able to pay for. The next you're just knocking over Victorians for sport. Finally we said, 'Why don't we just take them all out for kicks and giggles?'" Dickie said the university's master plan of destruction also calls for razing Mechanicsville, parts of Sequoyah Hills, the iconic Sunsphere, and the western blocks of Knoxville's downtown.

June 22, 2012

Rubeus Hagrid hired to keep grounds of UT president's house

The former keeper of keys and grounds at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry in Scotland will soon be moving to the Sequoyah Hills neighborhood of Knoxville.

A friendly half-giant named Rubeus Hagrid has been hired by the University of Tennessee's Board of Trustees Finance and Administration Committee to look after the property until it can be sold.

Located at 940 Cherokee Blvd., the sizeable Georgian-style home has been empty for two years. The 11,400-square-foot house was placed on the market in March 2010 at a price of $5 million. It has been reduced to its current cost of $2.9 million. Five former UT presidents have lived in on the waterfront property.

Residents of Sequoyah Hills say they are uneasy about the new resident.

"We've had an excellent relationship with the university," said James Davis, who has lived on Cherokee Blvd. for 20 years. "But this makes us a little uncomfortable. We love animals. My wife and I have a dog ourselves. But enormous, sentient spiders and three-headed dogs give us pause."

Mindy Rifenburg, president of the Kingston Pike Sequoyah Hills Association, added, "I know neighborhood organizations get a bad rap. We're just here to make sure that our residents are safe, to preserve property values and to promote a sense of community. I'm just not sure that introducing a Norwegian Ridgeback dragon to the neighborhood is the best way to do that. Surely a fire breathing dragon with poisonous fangs is going to bump up against codes enforcement."

University officials say they spend $25,000 annually to maintain the home. But Hagrid would keep costs down. The half-giant has agreed to live on the property for free. In exchange he would get to keep both magical and East Tennessee wildlife on the grounds. Forestry and Animal Science majors at UT would also be allowed to interact with Hagrid's magical menagerie.

"I think it's great," said Sequoyah Hills resident Donna Hoover. "We've got the park, obviously, but we're always saying that Sequoyah Hills could use a little more culture. Surely a hippogriff would be a unique learning experience for our kids."

June 21, 2012

Rep. Hurley to hold workshop on puppy juggling

A state lawmaker today announced that she will hold an informative workshop Saturday to show her constituents how to juggle puppies. Freshman Rep. Julia Hurley said in an interview that in addition to holding her dog Pepper out of car windows, she sometimes enjoys tossing small canines into the air to catch and retoss again as a form of sport. "My dogs obviously enjoy it," Hurley said. "They're very happy. They love to be thrown up into the wind." Hurley first learned to juggle cute animals at the Mitt Romney School of Transporting Domesticated Animals on Roofs of Moving Vehicles. The Lenoir City Republican is a 2004 graduate of the school. Although Hurley has long been an animal lover, she came under fire in March when she was caught whacking her dog with a rolled-up laptop.

June 19, 2012

Sweetwater's Redneck Resort Mud Park stumps local satirists

Several East Tennessee comedians remain confused about how to best mock a new local enterprise called the Redneck Resort Mud Park. The new 200-acre park is located in Sweetwater. It will feature mud. "They didn't make this easy," said Heather Kendelin, a stand-up comedian from Knoxville. "I'm not sure if I'm laughing at or laughing with. What have you done, Sweetwater? What have you done?" David Young, a frequent user of snappy banter, agreed. "You could say something about bobbing for teeth in moonshine or a tobacco juice spitting contest, I guess. Or maybe a moustache could play a cameo role in the joke. But I just don't know. I really just don't know." Officials say the new park explains why comedy has declined 10 percent in Tennessee in 2012. "One of the park's rules is no chainsaws," said Monroe County native Denny Pritchett. "Satire isn't ready for this place."

June 17, 2012

East Tennessee children collectively run to Walgreens to buy dad forgotten Father's Day card

The eastern third of the state of Tennessee yelled a series of expletives and hopped in the car en masse early this morning while dad was still asleep in his armchair. There the forgetful, panic-stricken offspring made a mad dash for the greeting card aisle in search of a pre-written Hallmark card. "That was pretty close," said Evan Henning, 13. "I didn't think I'd make it before dad snored himself awake. He's really going to love this card with a woman in a bikini on it who is way hotter than mom. He's lucky to have me as a kid." Julia Wood, 14, managed to scoop up a bag of polyester socks for her father. "They're blue, so that's pretty good, right? I think he'll like them. I went ahead and cut holes in the toes for him."

June 15, 2012

UT to raise parking prices to offset rising cost of orange

The University of Tennessee will begin charging staff, students and faculty more for parking permits beginning next month to offset the high cost of the color orange.

The Oklahoma State University Cowboys, which also use the Pantone Matching System orange color 151, confirmed that they will also be raising parking prices to help pay for costs associated with the distinctive hue.

This will mark the University of Tennessee's third price increase this year. University of Tennessee President Joe DiPietro said all the cost increases are due to the rising cost of the color orange.

"Every college I know with a similar shade of orange, we are having to make it up somehow," DiPietro said. "I've spoken to administrators at Virginia Tech, at the University of Virginia and at some other schools. It's the same across the board. As orange has gotten more costly, we are having to figure out how to make this wavelength of the visible spectrum more cost efficient."

According to University of Tennessee Graphic Arts Service figures, spot prices for orange are up 12 percent so far in 2012. The cost of orange rose six percent in 2011.

Reaction to the cost increase has been mixed.

"It's a Catch 22," said Rachel Bohanan, a Chemistry Professor at the college. "On the one hand, it's an expensive color these days. But that distinguishing orange and white of the Volunteers is also a big draw. People come from all over to have their retinas destroyed at football games here in Knoxville."

Nil Hu, a rising junior majoring in Geography, said he is opposed to the increase.

"It's ridiculous," he said. "I've been here two years and they just keep raising prices. Pretty soon no one will be able to afford college. It's just a color. What's so bad about blue? Kentucky won't mind if we copy their colors.

DiPietro added that if the cost of orange continues to rise, the college could be forced to print things in black and white.

June 14, 2012

East Tennessee man still insists on saying 'here's your sign'

More than 15 years after comedian Bill Engvall suggested dull-witted people should be required to wear signs declaring their stupidity, Claxton's Jay Downes still insists on using the saying to poke fun of others. Now even Engvall wishes Downes would move on to a new stolen catchphrase. "Man, I thought that joke would never get old," said Engvall. "But boy was I wrong about that. You just can't sustain a motto for that long. Especially a terrible one." Downes debuted Engvall's catchphrase in 1999 when his brother-in-law was arrested for burglary after he stopped to check his e-mail on his victim's computer and forgot to log out afterwards. Downes has gone on to use the phrase three to five times a week, much to the chagrin of his friends and neighbors. Engvall told police he is considering a restraining order.

June 12, 2012

Website commenters remind Katie Allison Granju how much better they are than her

Readers of a news story about an auction held by Katie Allison Granju in memory of her late son Henry sought to remind her that she is a terrible mother, a failure at life, and that they are in general much better than she is or could ever hope to be. "I just wanted to take the time from my busy day of being wonderful to remind her that she is not," wrote knoxguywhoisprettyspectacularpleasebowdowntome. "I mean, my God, it's been what, two years? Has she not gotten over her son's tragic death yet? She keeps talking about it like it's some defining moment or something." Proceeds from the auction will go to pay the costs of treatment for young people between the ages of 12-23 who are struggling with drug addiction. A small portion of the earnings will also be donated to website commenters to help them buy souls.

June 10, 2012

Bear on UT campus wanted to join sorority, officials say

Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency officials said that a bear found in a tree in front of the Panhallenic Building on the University of Tennessee campus was trying to join the Delta Pi Chapter of Alpha Chi Omega. The bear was sighted by numerous witnesses across campus before TWRA officials found it in the tree. The bear was tranquilized and relocated to a sorority at the University of Alabama. "I look great in black pants," said the bear shortly before being removed from the scene. "And if some frat boy tries to slip me roofies, I'll bite his (expletive deleted) face off." This is not the first time that a bear has been seen at UT. In 2010 a black bear ate Lane Kiffin after he abruptly resigned as coach of the Vols' football team.

June 8, 2012

East Tennessee man disappointed Tea Party still hasn't asked for his birth certificate

A Knoxville man sought to release copies of his original long-form birth certificate to the Tennessee Tea Party Thursday.

Alan Duncan, 35, has made numerous outreach attempts to tea party groups throughout the state, but has been ignored at every turn. Duncan said that he is seeking to end to non-persistent rumors that he was not born in the United States.

"I guess it's not that big of a deal," said Duncan. "But it kind of hurts my feelings. I was legitimately born in the United States just like the president was. But no one is asking me to repeatedly prove that I was born in Anderson County. Is it because my last name is Duncan? That's just silly. I have my birth certificate right here, all ready to go. Just say the word and I'll send it your way, guys. Let's do this."

The certificate states, as Duncan's advisors have constantly said, that he was born at Methodist Medical Center of Oak Ridge on March 17, 1977. No one insists Duncan was born overseas in his father's home country of Canada, nor is anyone insisting he may someday be constitutionally ineligible to serve as president.

Duncan tried to release a shorter "certification of live birth" to the Tennessee Tea Party in 2008, but failed to convince members of the "birther" movement that his origin was worthy of a half-baked, lunatic conspiracy theory.

"I do not have time for this kind of silliness," Duncan told reporters. "But I'm going to keep at it until the tea party agrees to quash these rumors that are not going around about my birth. I'm just amazed at the degree to which this story has not kept on going."

Tennessee Tea Party officials declined to comment on Duncan, saying only that they were hard at work at locating Bigfoot's crashed flying saucer in a secret United Nations' compound in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

"Maybe I'll go ahead and send it to them anyway," said Duncan. "And maybe everyone else in America will, too. That way they'll know we're all citizens. I'm sure the tea party could handle the volume of mail. If they even receive mail, since the government is in charge of it."

June 7, 2012

Bonnaroo urges Pigeon Forge to tap Strategic Traffic Reserve

Despite the recent fall in Bonnaroo Music Festival traffic, analysts say Gov. Bill Haslam and the City of Pigeon Forge may tap the Strategic Traffic Reserve as sanctions on Kentucky and Alabama take hold. While Bonnaroo traffic has fallen from over 1,000 cars per mile to nearly 850 cars per mile, tougher sanctions on imported traffic from other southern states begins to take effect Friday morning. That could mean up to 4,000 cars could soon be taken off the roadways, resulting in a possible steep decline in Bonnaroo traffic. "A strategic traffic reserve draw remains more likely than not between now and June 8," Marjorie Chesnutt, head of research at ClearView Traffic Partners, wrote in a report Wednesday. The sanctions on Kentucky and Alabama are designed to punish those states for the prevalence of cars on cement blocks in front yards there, which experts say give Tennessee a negative image. "This is a tool," said Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero. "The Strategic Traffic Reserve has 70,000 cars ready and waiting to sit on the roadways in our state. Four governors -- Lamar Alexander, Ned McWherter, Don Sundquist and Phil Bredesen -- used this tool in the past and traffic increased between 10 and 35 percent."

June 5, 2012

Knox County Commission approves $7 million for schools through sale of Hammer Pants

The Knox County Commission Monday night voted to give the school system an additional $7 million for the upcoming fiscal year by selling baggy pants popularized by rapper MC Hammer. Hammer, who will be performing at this year's Tennessee Valley Fair, has agreed to donate hundreds of pairs of Hammer Pants that are still in his closet. Proceeds from the sale of the pants will be given to the schools for the upcoming fiscal year that begins on July 1. "It's a win-win situation," said Superintendent Jim McIntyre. "This way taxpayers are spared the horrendous burden of funding something silly like education. Plus a rapper gets to upgrade his wardrobe. We are asking that Jeff Ownby not buy any of these baggy pants since he has so much trouble keeping his on." This is not the first time a rapper has helped Tennesseans get an education. In 1997 Dr. Dre donated much of his surgical equipment to the Vanderbilt School of Medicine.

June 3, 2012

Parking garage security guard enjoys authority she imagines herself to have

A security guard responsible for enforcing the rules in a downtown parking garage has come to take pleasure in the power that she imagines has been vested in her. Layla Sobon, 37, has been employed as a uniformed security guard in a Knoxville parking garage for three months. During this time she has perfected the art of making drivers roll down their windows to tell them to stay two car lengths behind the previous motorist. "I'm really making a difference out here," Sobon told one imaginary reporter. "It gets pretty crazy downtown on Saturdays in the summer. But my presence has prevented a lot of the car accidents that never happened before I started patrolling down here." Witnesses said that having another adult tell them how to drive could only be better if the city hired their own mothers to do the job.

June 1, 2012

Piece of spam exhibiting signs of codependent behavior

Area psychologists believe that an unsolicited bulk e-mail message sent Thursday afternoon is showing signs of codependent relationship patterns.

The e-mail offered its recipient the ability to reverse aging symptoms without dieting or exercise. It was received by Jenn Tyrell at 3:07 p.m. yesterday.

"As seen on NBC, CBS, CNN and Oprah," said the e-mail in a written statement. "In fact we'd like you to receive a FREE 30 day supply; look and feel younger, lose weight, reduce sleep, The list goes on, we encourage you to at least take a look at the information as to what else it can do."

Tyrell said this is not the first time she has seen these destructive pathological patterns.

"I feel really bad for the guy," she said. "He seems nice enough. But it's like he's following me around like a puppy dog. He's always offering to reduce the amount of sleep I need or to help me lose weight while I'm sleeping. He needs to focus on his own wants and needs or this will never be a healthy relationship."

"This is pretty typical behavior," said child and family therapist Jenna Bruner. "Codependent e-mails often take on the role of a martyr. They are constantly putting the needs of others before their own. They hope that those others will come to see how fantastic and sacrificing they are and finally take care of them. Codependent e-mails have an overwhelming and unhealthy need for approval and acceptance."

Tyrell said that she has received similar e-mails. In April she was approached by the benevolent Peter Williamson, the son of the late Dr. Clifford Williamson. Williamson offered to invest $10 million in Tyrell's business, which he received from alluvial gold dust from the Yipkabongo region north of the Tamale district.

"I'm always attracting these kinds of e-mails," she said. "They're always offering to send me undisclosed sums of money or to whiten my teeth or refinance my home. Ugh. Stop being so needy! Go get some self-esteem."