December 2012 Archives

December 30, 2012

Fans of complaining eager for State Street escalator closure

Knoxvillians who take pleasure in complaining about downtown say they are excited about no longer having an escalator on State Street. The escalator will shut down for good on Jan. 2, giving East Tennessee crybabies plenty to find fault with in the coming year. "Normally I enjoy whining about how downtown Knoxville doesn't have enough parking," said nitpicking aficionado Cora Melby. "Now I can complain about that at the same time I whine about this project that will add 240 parking spaces. Refusing to be pleased is so much fun." Construction is expected to end in June, giving East Tennesseans ample time to grumble. "This is fantastic," said moaning enthusiast Ian Shelburne. "There are so many angles. I can complain about the $6.1 million cost. I can gripe about having to walk a little further. I can grumble about the construction. And, of course, I'll complain about the dangerous homeless people. That one never gets old."

December 28, 2012

Critics pan Mayan apocalypse

One week after the conclusion of the 5,125-year "Long Count" Mayan calendar, apocalypse critics have slammed the $150 million doomsday as "weak," "lacking imagination" and "woefully unbelievable."

End of Days critics had lofty hopes for the highly anticipated collapse of civilization, which was written and directed by the ancient Mayan civilization of Mexico, Guatemala and Belize. The day of reckoning was released on Dec. 21. Reviews have been nothing short of dismal.

"This was one of the most confusing, preposterous, conceited and disastrous apocalyptic train wrecks I've ever seen," wrote "Rolling Stone" film critic Peter Travers. "This end of the world was a paint-by-numbers cliché from the opening credits to its contrived claptrap of a dead end."

Travers was hardly alone in his assessment of Judgment Day.

"With all the money spent, this end of the world seemed cheap and hurriedly cobbled together, with the talented Mayan civilization left to wallow in a cast of nobodies in an inane, madcap winter solstice meets Christmas adventure," wrote critic Roger Ebert. "The special effects were atrocious. The acting was like something out of a horrific scientific experiment that fused the DNA of Keanu Reeves and Nicolas Cage. Not since Harold Camping's rapture have moviegoers been this let down. "

Fans have been more forgiving.

"I don't know what people are so upset about," said Ginny Parcell. "Yeah, it was no Noah's ark or Book of Revelation or meteor that killed off the dinosaurs. But that's OK for me. Sometimes I just want to go to the apocalypse to be entertained."

"This was an amusing end of the world escapade," added Cherise Cowart. "Look, I get that some people need Academy Award-winning performances every time they go to the destruction of all mankind. But I go to the end of the world to escape. I'm more of a popcorn apocalypse kind of girl."

Fans and critics have turned their attention to the forthcoming 2017 apocalypse written and directed by the Prophet Gabriel, in which all of humanity will "perish in hellfire" in the "dying time," except for the Sword of God Brotherhood.

December 27, 2012

TSA defends pat-down of Santa Claus at McGhee Tyson Airport

A red-suited old man with a stomach that shook like a bowl full of jelly became hysterical during a security screening at Knoxville's airport Tuesday. The bearded man was forced to undergo a pat-down after a large sack of toys set off an X-ray machine. The incident has garnered attention since the man's wife detailed the ordeal on Twitter. The Transportation Security Administration is defending its agents, despite new procedures aimed at reducing pat-downs of magical gift-givers. "He started to cry, saying 'No, I don't want to' and when they tried talking to him, he ran," Mrs. Claus told reporters. "He told them they would be on next year's naughty list for sure. I don't think they liked that." Claus said her husband's main anxiety was the lack of understanding from TSA agents that they were dealing with Santa Claus, not a terror suspect. "Normally he expects cookies and milk, not grabby government agents."

December 25, 2012

Rooftop Christmas tree strike in downtown Knoxville ends

Striking rooftop Christmas trees reached a tentative deal with the City of Knoxville on Monday night, settling a two week-long labor clash that has idled many of the downtown neighborhood's lighted evergreen conifers. The strike has resulted in a 35 percent reduction in Christmas cheer, including a sharp decline in good tidings to you and your kin and the bringing of figgy pudding. Federal mediators called to join negotiations at Mayor Madeline Rogero's request showed up just as the settlement was being reached. "Really it was just a matter of getting some control on the outsourcing situation," labor activist Minister's Treehouse of Crossville said. "We want to ensure that these jobs are here today, tomorrow and well into the future, and that they aren't given to some artificial trees who will work for less."

December 23, 2012

Poor spellers relieved to have Mayan apocalypse behind them

Having survived the complete annihilation of human life as we know it and the untold destruction of all that is, in a highly talked about apocalypse of epic proportions, Knoxville's Doug Horton says that he is pleased about one thing in particular: not having to spell the word "apocalypse" again. "I'm so happy I don't have to spell that stupid word anymore," said Horton, who is a self-described "horible spellur." "I've misspelled that word so many times. No matter who I was texting or emailing, it was always the same story. Is it a-p-a-c-o? Is it a-p-a-c-o? Where does the "y" go? I still don't know, to be honest with you." This is not the first time the alphabet has caused Horton problems. When he was six-years-old, he accidentally sent his Christmas list to Satan.

December 21, 2012

Naughty and nice list details leaked, North Pole says

According to a spokesperson for the North Pole, Santa Claus' naughty and nice lists have been hit by hackers, potentially exposing tens of thousands of account holders to fraud. Suspicion has fallen on the coal industry, which has long been jealous of the burgeoning Christmas stocking market. Santa Claus operates his own coal mining operation at the North Pole and has refused to purchase the combustible sedimentary rock from existing coal mining conglomerates.

The security breach at Santa's Workshop is the latest in a series of data attacks that have amplified concerns about identity theft. The magical gift giving industry has been increasingly susceptible to these concerns amid a rise in breaches in recent years. For example, in 2009 hundreds of files kept by the Tooth Fairy were leaked to the American Dental Association. Four out of five dentists were implicated in the breach.

The extent of the most recent leak has not yet been determined and it wasn't immediately clear if the energy industry will begin selling coal door to door. The North Pole has declined to say how many names were at risk, but elves familiar with the investigation estimated that it could be in the tens of thousands.

Parents have voiced their concerns.

"Maybe my children are on the naughty list," said Knoxville mother Theresa Minnich. "Maybe they're on the nice list. But that's between my family and Santa. This is private information that should not fall into the hands of the coal industry."

North Pole officials have said they are working to rectify the situation.

"Santa made his list and checked it twice," said the North Pole in a statement. "But evidently a few elves didn't check our firewalls. We will be doing everything in our power to correct this error. So you'd better not cry. You'd better not pout. I'm telling you why."

Some sources, who have spoken on condition of anonymity, have said that a disgruntled Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer has been taken in for questioning.

December 20, 2012

Mental health services key, says governor who closed Lakeshore Mental Health Institute

Responding to concerns over a balance between gun control and public safety following a horrific shooting last week, Tennessee's governor who closed Lakeshore Mental Health Institute told reporters that access to mental health is a key component of preventing future tragedies. Knoxville's Lakeshore Mental Health Institute, which was licensed for 180 beds, closed on June 30 at the request of Gov. Bill Haslam's administration. "The answer is not always legislation," Haslam told reporters. "The answer is our mental health professionals, who now have fewer facilities to work with. Sometimes the best way to provide mental health care is just by having fewer mental health care facilities. Also, down is up, up is down, left is right, in is out, out is in. Oh, and how about that Butch Jones? Shiny."

December 18, 2012

Elf on shelf wanted for questioning in cookie jar incident

THE SHELF - A Knoxville elf wanted for questioning in a West Hills cookie jar heist was taken into custody today, according to a news release by Mark and Beth Stroyan of Broome Rd. The unnamed sprite was arrested on an outstanding warrant for coloring on the wall in the dining room. He remains on the Time Out Bench, but no charges regarding the robbery have been filed against the elf at this time. Authorities say six-year-old Noah Stroyan was initially considered a suspect in the crime. However, his alibi with Nana was corroborated. "This is a sad day in our house," said Stroyan family spokesperson Mom. "We're interviewing all suspects related to this crime. But if you can't trust an elf to spy on your child without breaking the cookie jar and taking all the white chocolate macadamia nut cookies, who can you trust?"

December 16, 2012

Voters furious with Congress they reelected 90 percent of

The nation's voters announced today that they are furious with the Congress they overwhelmingly reelected last month. As lawmakers continue to negotiate over taxes and spending to avert the looming "fiscal cliff," voters said they are just completely fed up with the nine out of 10 U.S. Representatives and Senators they rehired. "I don't understand it," said a livid Jennifer Cawley. "I keep voting for the same people every election, but then they keep behaving exactly the same way. It just doesn't make any sense to me." An Oct. 15-16 Gallup poll found Congress with just a 21 percent approval rating, making it the least popular American institution to be rehired since Chevy Chase. "It's pathetic," said Dustin Shapiro. "Nobody is doing their job. If they don't stop this, I'm going to be forced to vote for them again."

December 14, 2012

Knoxville firm's weight gain up 15 percent on holiday cookie hikes

Marble City Security Associates reported a 15 percent increase in weight gain so far for the month of December as its employees have gone back to bringing in holiday-themed baked goods for the Christmas season. The company also boosted its full-year waistline profit outlook.

Like many office environments, the East Tennessee based Internet security monitoring company has seen its waistlines rebound as employees have become more comfortable bringing in red and silver tins of cookies, fudge and candy to share with those in nearby cubicles.

"The waistline economy is recovering nicely," said the company's president Dana Kilgore. "We had a slight post-Thanksgiving slump, which tends to happen every year. A person looks in the mirror after consuming an entire pumpkin pie on his own and decides to go on a diet. But after a couple of weeks the pull of chocolate covered pretzels and Trader Joe's Candy Cane Joe-Joe's next to the coffee in the break room is too much to resist."

The business, based near downtown Knoxville, said it has collectively gained 160 pounds, or four pounds per employee, in the two-week period since December began. That compares with 136 pounds, or 3.4 pounds per employee, in the same period one year ago.

Belt loosening for the company also rose one notch. Analysts were pleased with the outcome, as no belt loosening was expected. Top-performing categories included Terie's peppermint brownies, Maggie's chocolate peanut butter fudge cookies and Kyle's top secret recipe for eggnog. Elevator usage has also increased, a key indicator of the health of the security firm's declining health.

"As we look out over the next several months, the dietary challenges in the U.S. and abroad have increased office junk food consumption uncertainty," Kilgore said. "In this environment, we have every hope that we will continue to be a veritable beached whale well into the first quarter of the coming year."

Marble City Security Associates also operates two satellite locations of plates of confectionaries and baked goods in the greater East Tennessee market.

December 13, 2012

'Hobbit' affords man rare opportunity to use the word 'troglodyte'

Kurt Letsch of Knoxville announced today that tonight's midnight showing of "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" will give him a rare chance to use the word "troglodyte" in conversation. The 34-year-old fantasy fan is already in line for the film's premiere at the downtown Regal Riviera Stadium 8 movie theater. He anticipates peppering his descriptions of the villainous Gollum with the SAT word. "I am thrilled to finally have this opportunity to use this archaic word for cave-dwelling people in a sentence," said Letsch, who serves as a spokesperson for single, 30-something men who still play Dungeons & Dragons in their mom's basements. "Not since the release of the third edition of the 'Monster Manual' have I been able to successfully pull this off."

December 11, 2012

Moogfest changes name to unpronounceable symbol

Knoxville's AC Entertainment announced yesterday that the music festival known as Moogfest for the past three years will be changing its name to an unpronounceable symbol. The cryptic rune will incorporate elements of a mountain, musical note, electricity and an unkempt beard. AC Entertainment explained in a press release the Asheville festival's desire to combine cutting-edge electronic music with a pretentious, unutterable moniker. "Like Prince (or whatever he's calling himself these days) before it, The Festival Formerly Known as Moogfest continues to defy convention, enunciation and the singularity of gender. It's all about thinking in new ways, tuning in 2 a new free-quency." Past performers of the two-day festival have included TV on the Radio, Girl Talk, The Antlers, Thievery Corporation and a 1986-model Speak & Spell.

December 9, 2012

Zombified Robert Neyland named Vols' head coach

Tennessee has hired the reanimated body of Robert "The General" Neyland to be its new head football coach. This will mark the beloved coach's fourth stretch as coach of the Vols. Neyland previously coached UT's football team from 1926-1934, 1936-1940 and 1946-1952. "I'm thrilled," said Tennessee athletic director Dave Hart. "I was not expecting the university's black magic department to pull this off. But they did it. The SEC is in some serious trouble next season. And not just because our coach is a zombie." Neyland's accolades at Tennessee include six undefeated seasons, seven conference championships and four national championships. "Not only was he the best coach the Vols have ever had, but now our players have incentive not to lose," Hart told reporters, "Any player not performing up to our fans' high standards will have his brains promptly eaten. And just think. We could have been stuck with some guy named Butch."

December 7, 2012

Forestry technicians to spray for tourists in Cades Cove

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park today announced plans to close the 11-mile Cades Cove Loop Road on Monday, Dec. 10 to spray for obnoxious tourists. The popular scenic road is expected to be closed to all vehicular traffic Monday and part of the day Tuesday.

Forestry technicians will treat the road for sightseers who park their vehicles in the middle of the road and wander off to take photos of bears. Technicians are also expected to spray for tourists who feed table food to park animals. In the event of inclement weather, the exercise will be rescheduled.

"We have been spraying every year since 2004," said Obnoxious Tourist Project Coordinator Holly Augland. "At first it was pretty effective, but the tourists seem to be building immunity. We'll be treating the road again this year. We may have to employ more drastic means in the future. It's possible that we'll just train the bears to steal the cars of people who clog up the roadway. We don't want to rule anything out at this point."

During the close on Dec. 3, only hikers will be able to access Loop Road. Bicyclists will be redirected to a henna tattoo shop in Gatlinburg.

As part of the park's efforts to control the spread of obnoxious tourists, actions will include spraying the road near known bear habitats with concentrated doses of an anti-narcissism agent.

"In addition to spraying for unbearable vacationers, we will be using a systematic pesticide from truck-mounted sprayers," said Augland. "We plan to treat the Loop Road, as well as the campgrounds, picnic areas and along the roadside. Basically we are looking at all areas where someone is likely to be an inconsiderate buffoon."

Obnoxious tourists are an invasive species that migrated into the park shortly after it was established in 1934. Though the non-native organisms are generally not considered dangerous, they have been known to raise the blood pressure of those just trying to enjoy a freaking Sunday drive, is that too much to ask?

December 6, 2012

East Tennessee automobiles support NRA-backed 'guns in cars' legislation

A majority of East Tennessee motorcars support the National Rifle Association's efforts to pass a gun bill that would guarantee employees the right to store weapons in vehicles parked at work, regardless of the wishes of employers. A new University of Tennessee poll released Wednesday shows solid support for the proposed legislation, with 54 percent of likely motors saying they would support the measure and 40 percent opposing. "I should have the right to defend myself wherever I am," said a 2012 Toyota Prius. "If an unseemly 1989 Toyota Camry or a soccer mom hooligan starts giving me trouble, I want to be ready. I'll give you my gun when you pry it from my cold, dead tires." The poll of 1,002 East Tennessee automobiles had a margin of error of four percentage points.

December 4, 2012

Lenoir City school board unanimously bans students

The Lenoir City School Board has approved a proposal to ban students on campus. Board members unanimously approved a ban on students of all ages at its meeting Monday night. The new policy will take effect at the beginning of the 2013-14 school year. Under the proposal, students will be prohibited both on campus, in school vehicles and on field trips. Several Lenoir City High School students spoke at the meeting Monday, saying students on campus are a problem. "I'm in band and I've seen firsthand the negative effect that students can have our school," said junior Cody Nix. "I'm not trying to place blame on anyone. I just wish everyone was more aware of the damage that students can cause." Chemistry teacher Mary Beth Rayford agreed. "Students are a distraction that takes up an unbelievable amount of time. Students also create an 'us versus them' mentality that causes rifts between students and faculty."

December 2, 2012

Box of quotation marks discovered near Cormac McCarthy's childhood home

A large quantity of quotation marks. Belonging to author Cormac McCarthy. Long thought lost. Has been found. In a box. Of documents. Abandoned by the author. At the site. Of his former childhood home. In South Knox County. A rank myopia of blackened condiments. The handwritten punctuation marks. Will go on sale Monday. In New York. Where it is estimated. At a value of $100,000. A festering translucent bowel of rotting tarpsilence. This is a tremendous find said McCarthy scholar Samuel Grady. Punctuation can be helpful when reading. A snowy blaggard of cragged greaseomelet. The proceeds of the auction. Are to be donated. To a sentence fragment. In Knoxville. Tennessee. A plump lodestar of chattering glaucoma.