January 2013 Archives

January 31, 2013

Mother Nature denies being 'drama queen'

A seemingly moody personification of nature has fired back at allegations that she is a "drama queen." Knoxville meteorologists, commenting on two weeks of snow, ice storms, 70-degree weather, flooding and tornadoes, branded Mother Nature a histrionic, overly dramatic crybaby. "Everything is always so theatrical with her," said National Weather Service forecaster Blake Fowler. "If it's not a flood watch in Knox, Blount and Anderson counties, it's Cumberland County, Fentress County and Scott County schools closed due to icy roads. Cry me a river." Mother Nature wasted no time in responding. "You are always going to have uninformed people come out and talk trash about you," said the embodiment of earth. "If someone is going to say my unseasonal weather is not genuine, they can talk to a real meteorologist like Todd Howell. I don't have time for these amateurs."

January 29, 2013

Woman who allows Facebook to know everything concerned about lack of privacy

A Knoxville woman who allows a social media website to know where she works, who she is friends with, where she lives, where she went on vacation last summer, where she checked in for dinner last night, and where she went to high school and college is extremely concerned about Facebook's latest privacy changes. The social media website has unveiled its new Graph Search tool, which will allow the personal information people have shared to function as a searchable database. "This is just too far," said Tamara Blakely, who has uploaded nearly 1,000 photographs of herself to the website, tagging each of them with names of friends and the locations where they were taken. "If I wanted people to know this stuff, I would tell them. Or share it in a Facebook status. Or upload it to a website owned by multinational Internet corporation."

January 27, 2013

Stacey Campfield to go door to door insulting poor people

State Sen. Stacey Campfield announced Friday that he plans to go door to door throughout East Tennessee insulting the state's low income residents. The Knoxville Republican calls the idea a modest step on the road to "breaking the cycle of poverty." "Poor people have too much dignity," said Campfield. "That's a real problem. To break this terrible cycle, we need low income people to feel shame and humiliation. Then they won't want to be poor anymore. My plan is to go door to door to tell each poor person how lazy and worthless they are. I may also throw some cash down on the porch and roll around on top of it." This is not the first time Campfield has had the best interests of the poor at heart. In 2011 he donated several boxes of bootstraps to Goodwill for low income people to pull themselves up by.

January 25, 2013

Dumplins spelling controversy continues

A popular Southern comfort food consisting of cooked chicken and dough boiled in chicken broth has been the subject of controversy this week after some dang fool spelled dumplin with the letter "g" at the end.

A new cookbook recipe concludes that the word is spelled "dumpling" and not, as has been previously argued, "dumplin."

Sandra Ferguson, who has written a cookbook collecting Southern recipes from her childhood, says an analysis of a dictionary and spelling rules of the English language provided signs that the word should contain the seventh letter of the Latin alphabet at the end.

Ferguson's recipe, to be published later this month, rebutted arguments of other cooks, including those of mamaw, granny and Cracker Barrel's lunch and dinner menu.

"Look, I'm not trying to be a jerk about it," said Ferguson. "But it's spelled 'dumpling.' It just is. I'm happy to agree to disagree about it. But it's also my cookbook. Also, the word is 'and.' It's not just the letter 'n.' This is a hearty meal, not text speak."

Ferguson's views have created a firestorm among those who spell the dish as "chicken n' dumplins."

"When I eat a plate of dumplins with a side of fried okra and some country ham, I like to know that I can do it without being bothered by the letter 'g,'" said Sally Cobb, who has been making the dish for 40 years. "Just because Spurius Carvilius Ruga of Spurius Carvilius Maximus Ruga invents a letter in the 3rd century BC, that doesn't mean I have to kowtow to him. Do I have to stop saying 'ya'll,' too?"

Dumplins enthusiast Judy Cochran agreed.

"The 'g' is completely unnecessary," she said. "The word is 'dumplin,' just like it's 'fixin.' This is the carrots and celery issue all over again. It's meant to be a thick mixture of chicken and dumplins. The next thing you know people will be trying to cook meat in the middle. This isn't Europe."

January 24, 2013

Beer law quirk allows bar inside Anderson County church

Thanks to a loophole in a state beer law, a tavern has opened inside one Anderson County church. The move has infuriated church members. Anderson County commissioners were told on Tuesday that the Water into Wine Saloon opened in the fellowship hall of the Third Baptist Church of Clinton. Anderson County has an ordinance that requires bars to be 812 2/3 feet away from churches. But state laws allow a license for on-premises beer in a place of worship if the religion's founder ever engaged in homebrewing. Church pastor Adam Atkinson called the loophole "absurd." "I couldn't believe it when they opened a bar right in our fellowship hall," he said. "How are my sermons supposed to compete with $2 draft beers until 8 p.m.?"

January 22, 2013

Nation agrees to set aside politics to talk about Michelle Obama's wardrobe

As President Barack Obama kicked off his second term yesterday, the nation's embattled electorate agreed to put aside politics for a few short hours to talk about first lady Michelle Obama's wardrobe choices. The country's armchair fashionistas took to the Internet Monday to debate Obama's wide-ranging style statements. "OMG, did you see her suede boots," tweeted Fox News. "And that coat was amahzing. Thom Browne is a god." "This was so much better than that puke mustard dress she wore to the first inauguration," National Public Radio commented on Facebook. "And those gloves were hideous. 2013 J. Crew belts, ftw." The first lady also drew both praise and criticism for what many say was an eye roll aimed at House Speaker John Boehner. She later admitted that she had been temporarily blinded by Boehner's neon orange skin.

January 20, 2013

Thousands in Knoxville still without milk and bread after snowstorm

As of 10:00 p.m. Saturday, approximately 3,000 Knoxville residents remained without milk or bread following Thursday's winter storm that left about 29,000 residents near starvation. The City of Knoxville's emergency milk and bread task force anticipates that most Knoxvillians will have proper nutrition restored by midday Sunday. "I'm so hungry," said North Knoxville homeowner Darrell Wainwright, who lost milk and bread Thursday during the storm. "Why didn't I go to the grocery store on Wednesday like a normal person? Last night I started eating a copy of 'Moby Dick' just to have something in my stomach." Emergency crews have been working 24 hours a day since Thursday to restore milk and bread to the city. "The main concern is French toast," said Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero. "Without milk and bread you can't make French toast. But we expect the rest of our residents to have sustenance soon. Hang in there, Knoxville."

January 18, 2013

Oak Ridge toddler wearing all four food groups

A smear of spaghetti sauce infused with garlic and containing a hint of slight eggplant zest in the background has been a favorite of three-year-old Mia Barrett ever since she wore it to a dinner party. The crimson-tinted accessory is the latest in fashion for the elusive upscale toddler demographic.

"She's worn it to the point that the button mushrooms have been licked off her face by the dog," said Mia's mother, Marcia Barrett of Oak Ridge. "I don't see the appeal myself, but my parents weren't all that crazy about my fashion choices either. You have to pick your battles."

The sauce is part of a glitzy wardrobe that includes a whole grain spaghetti scarf and matching earrings, a dusting of an aged Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and a knitted basil almond chicken hat.

"Fashion is a part of living," said Mia Barrett. "Fashion is a luxury and it's human nature for me to want to look my best. It makes me feel good about myself and it helps me define who I am."

The tiny fashionista is not alone in her style of dress. The colorful and nutritious outfits are the latest trend in the lucrative toddler fashion market, which has been a boon in recent years.

"As organic food, farmer's markets and farm-to-table dining become more popular, so do these types of fashion choices," said industry expert Sasha Vercelletto. "It wasn't long ago that I was seeing toddlers wearing goldfish crackers and French fries. But these kids are becoming more sophisticated."

Critics say the trend promotes elitism.

"I wore canned tomato soup and Hamburger Helper and I turned out fine," said parent of two Catherine Yates. "We're creating a culture of haves and have nots."

But for kids like Mia, today's fashion choices will shape her entire life.

"I can't tell you why I need a new layer of brand name sweet potatoes to match the milk I somehow managed to get in my ears," she said. "I just know that I need it. This is who I am. This is what makes me beautiful."

January 17, 2013

Eyes of Sauron to be removed from Knoxville Museum of Art

Two all-seeing eyes, rimmed with fire, yellow as a cat's, watchful and intent, and the black slit of their pupils opened on a pit, a window into nothing, will soon be removed from the Knoxville Museum of Art. The hellish gaze, which was added to the art museum in the year 1,000 of the Third Age, will be taken down while the building's exterior receives a caulk and cleaning. "Once the building renovations are finished, the great, lidless eyes, filled with hate, and ringed in darkness, will be returned so that the Dark Lord can continue his terrible watch for the ring of power," said the museum's executive director Shelly Grubaugh. "I wish we could throw them away though. Their wrath blazes like a sudden flame and its fear is like great, black smoke. They really give me the creeps."

January 15, 2013

Clinton woman's trick skin tells her when it will rain

Nancy Mashburn rarely checks the weather forecast. The 70-year-old Clinton woman can tell if it's going to rain the old fashioned way. When her trick skin starts to act up, she knows rain is coming. "I don't know how it works," said Mashburn. "There ain't no rhyme or reason to it. It just is what it is. One minute my skin is dry. The next it's wet. That's a sure sign rain's on its way." Mashburn says she was born with the skill, and that her mother and grandmother before her could predict the weather the same way. Francis Bagwell, a physician at the University of Tennessee Medical Hospital, says there is a scientific basis for the phenomenon. "When atmospheric pressure changes, we know that the amount of fluid that falls on the skin fluctuates with it," said Bagwell. "Some individuals can actually feel that and anticipate changes in weather." Mashburn's trick skin tells her that East Tennessee can expect plenty of wet weather today. "I'm no psychic. I can just feel it. You're gonna want an umbrella today."

January 13, 2013

Memorial service held for winter

The late season winter was remembered in Knoxville Saturday as a bleak, cold and depressing period whose legacy as a tilt of the Earth's axis would be remembered for years to come. The memorial service at Old Gray Cemetery was attended by hundreds of people, including Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero, Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett and several people in shorts. "I always liked winter," one griever told reporters. "Sledding and skiing were nice things to do. But at least she's in a warmer place. And what a pretty day for a funeral. If it were winter, winter's funeral would have been really cold." Others had less kind things to say about the controversial month. "Sure, it's 70 degrees in January," said one cynical spoilsport. "It feels great now, but just wait until the wildfires and crop failure and mosquitoes." Winter is survived by her three sisters, spring, summer, and autumn, and by her uncle, former Vice President Al Gore.

January 11, 2013

'Finding Bigfoot' crew tries to find elusive downtown panhandlers

After failing to find Bigfoot during a show taping in East Tennessee, the cast of Animal Planet's "Finding Bigfoot" have set their sights on locating downtown panhandlers. According to some, Knoxville's panhandlers are notorious for soliciting money and food from residents and visitors. But despite their fabled omnipresence, many of the city's residents have never spotted one of the mysterious beggars.

The show's cast members normally investigate Bigfoot sightings to determine if they are real, pranks, or a case of mistaken identity. But after talking with Knoxville residents, they say they are prepared to make an exception in this case.

"We've searched everywhere for these aggressive hobos that are scaring away all the tourists with their begging," said "Finding Bigfoot" camera operator Justin Pruden. "But so far we haven't found a single one. Are we looking in the wrong places? I mean, we saw panhandlers holding signs at West Knoxville Interstate exit ramps. But that's kind of a long way from downtown."

Pruden isn't the only skeptic. North Knoxville resident Devin Cole rents an apartment two miles from Market Square. He has never been approached for change or the remaining half of a meatball sub.

"I live near downtown," he said. "I'm down here two or three times a week on average. Supposedly these solicitors are everywhere. I wish I could find one. Am I doing something wrong? Maybe if I wore nicer pants? Man, I hope I find one. I'm not going to be able to finish this chicken sandwich."

Parkridge resident Ian Judd echoed those sentiments.

"Don't get me wrong," Judd said. "I see lots of homeless people. But none of them ask me for money. My feelings are kind of hurt, to be honest with you."

Pruden says he and the "Finding Bigfoot" crew will wrap up shooting on Monday. They aren't optimistic about the hunt.

"I keep hearing how unsafe downtown Knoxville is with all of the panhandlers," said Pruden. "Is it because they're invisible? I could see that being very dangerous. And if it isn't dangerous, it definitely creeps me out a little. People shouldn't be allowed to be invisible."

January 10, 2013

New Year's resolutions recycled at 6 Knox sites

Ten days into 2013, many Knoxvillians are wondering what to do with the withered remains of their New Year's resolutions. Fortunately for weak-willed, environmentally-conscious East Tennesseans, the Knox County Solid Waste Department will continue the county's annual New Year's resolution recycling program at six locations. The service will be offered until the end of the month. "We offer this program because some of these are perfectly good resolutions," said recycling coordinator Catherine Springer. "Someone is just going to come along next year and want to lose weight or to read 'War and Peace.' We should pass those resolutions on to people who can use them, rather than just adding more waste to our landfills." The following centers are participating in this year's program: Dutchtown Road, Forks of the River, Halls, John Sevier Highway, Powell and Tazewell Pike. Springer asks individuals who plan to drop off their resolutions to clean off all the shame, failure and frustration before arriving at the centers. The collected resolutions will be converted to new promises, which will be available in December.

January 8, 2013

Move to post action heroes in Tennessee schools gains traction

Measures that would allow movie action heroes to be posted in state schools appears to be gaining ground among Tennessee lawmakers in the wake of a school shooting in Newtown, Conn. last month. Several lawmakers have drafted legislation that would allow school districts to place John McClane, John Rambo, or Frank Niceley in every school. Other lawmakers say permitting action heroes in classrooms is too dangerous. "John McClane has authority issues and swears too much," said incoming state Rep. Darren Jernigan, D-Nashville. "John Rambo is too old. Martin Riggs is too crazy. And State Sen. Frank Niceley isn't even really an action hero. He just thinks he is." Despite opposition from teachers groups and the governor, the idea is popular with the state legislature, which begins its 2013-14 session on today. Other measures up for consideration include a bill that would allow dragons on school grounds and legislation that would require all bad guys to be large, stationary pieces of paper with targets drawn on them.

January 6, 2013

Henley Bridge Closure celebrates second birthday with friends

Henley Bridge Closure, known by the nickname "bankruptcy" to South Knoxville business owners, wakes up early each day, puts on a shirt and pair of pants, and walks to a diner in downtown Knoxville. There he reads the paper, and orders a fried egg and cup of coffee. He doesn't bother to take his pills. He doesn't need medication. He's in great health for a lengthy construction project. It's not a bad life for a two-year-old bridge closure. Saturday Closure commemorated his second birthday with friends, family, Tennessee Department of Transportation officials and a large chocolate cake. Closure greeted well-wishers with hugs and downplayed his long lifespan. When asked about the secret of his longevity, Closure told reporters it was simple. "You just have to keep on living," he said. "And if they have to completely rebuild three sets of your deteriorating concrete pillars, well that helps, too."

January 4, 2013

Sunsphere resolves to find love in 2013

As we head into a new year, now is the time for steel truss structures that evoke memories of the 1982 World's Fair to evaluate their lives and set new goals and plans for 2013.

For celebrities like downtown Knoxville's Sunsphere, 2013 signifies an opportunity for a new start, particularly when it comes to love. Friends of the beloved tower have told reporters that the 30-year-old golden orb has resolved to finally settle down this year.

Earlier this week, the Sunsphere's good friend Henley Street Bridge said that the city's most eligible bachelor is ready for something more long term.

"He's a fantastic catch and he's done with endless strings of relationships," the bridge said. "Not only has he never looked better, but he has a new sky lounge with two bars, a fireplace and a DJ booth. As far as I'm concerned, there is nothing not to like. He's good looking, honest, affectionate and has a great sense of humor. The ladies love a sense of humor."

In an effort to downplay his superstar status, the Sunsphere has posted an ad on Craigslist.

"Do you enjoy laughing," the ad reads. "Do you love sports, movies and going to concerts? Are you alone like me? If so, I would love to hear from you. I am a completely self-sufficient tower. I have my own place, a car and a job. I do not have any kids, but it's OK if you do. I love trying new things and meeting new people, and I love animals. It just seems really hard to meet the right building these days, so I have resorted to this. I am 266-feet-tall and topped with 75 feet of gold-colored glass. I am in pretty good shape. If you feel like I could be your match, hit me up with your favorite color in the subject so I know you aren't a bot. Pictures are available upon request."

Though most resolutions are broken within weeks of the new year, the Sunsphere acknowledges that he is committed to finding "the one."

"I'm tired of this endless roller coaster of booty calls," he said. "It's time for me to grow up."

January 3, 2013

Rick Santorum drops out of 2016 presidential race

Republican presidential hopeful Rick Santorum announced Thursday that he is suspending his 2016 presidential campaign, all but bringing to a close the 2016 GOP presidential contest and effectively handing the nomination to someone who is not Rick Santorum. "We made a decision over the holiday that, while this presidential race for us is over, we are not done fighting," Santorum said at a campaign event in Gettysburg, Pa., the site of the former Senator's historic and pivotal 2012 campaign suspension. "This decision also saves me valuable time. I may go ahead and drop out of the 2020 race as well, just to get it over with." Ron Paul, Newt Gingrich, Donald Trump and Mitt Romney are also considering dropping out of the 2016 presidential race in the coming weeks.

January 1, 2013

Knoxville residents continue digging out from snow dusting

Knoxville residents Tuesday continued digging out from a winter storm that brought life to a standstill where some areas were buried under a half-centimeter of snow -- the city's heaviest accumulation in several years. City of Knoxville Emergency Management Director Davis Bell-Smith said the light dusting of wet snow that fell Saturday night left local road conditions so poor that motorists were stuck for hours before their cars could be freed. Local grocery stores sold out of bread, milk, eggs and other staples. Officials said it could be several days before shelves are restocked. Bell-Smith said he expects road crews to finish clearing roads by Friday. But he admitted it could take residents longer to dig out their driveways. "It's pretty bad out on the streets," he said. "Hopefully the rain will help. If not, we're confident that FEMA can help us shoulder the burden. In the meantime, for God's sake be careful out there."