knox snooze

Succotash my Balzac, dipshiitake.

Gas Pains

Wednesday, August 31
Not that it begins to compare with the many actual crises being faced down in NOLA, but my wife just informed that gas has reached $3.29 a gallon in Sevierville. I'm sure there is a bit of tourist-driven gouging going on up there, but it sounds like it could be like that everywhere.

My boss was amazed that he paid $2.79 for gas this morning. I hope that doesn't sound amazingly cheap in a week.


I am controlled by WWL TV's website today. They have a live feed of their broadcast on the site. I think they're broadcasting from Baton Rouge now. It's insane. I can't believe this is real.

Have a beer for America.

Tuesday, August 30
You do love America, don't you? My great pal Infozo has directed me to some important information regarding the importance of beer to our country and our great state.

It occurs to me that I am a much better citizen than I had previously realized.

Not an amateur noia

Merlin Mann has an interesting post on the idea of Pronoia, the sneaking suspicion that the whole world is conspiring to shower you with blessings.

Czech it.

Musty Burger

Monday, August 29
What did I hear on TV yesterday? I was watching the Little league World Series, which is an awesome thing to watch, by the way. There was a foul tip. A pop up. It was gliding midway down the first base line. The catcher and first baseman both went for it. Ball caught. Collision. Disaster narrowly averted.

How did Brent Musburger (that's a great name in 2nd grade) respond? He said something like, "He [the first baseman] is lucky he didn't whack his catcher right in the puss."

Awesome. I know I'm like 12 for thinking it funny, but face it; everyone cringed when they heard that.

Graduate Workshop: The drinkening

Thursday, August 25
I spent yesterday evening in my first graduate fiction-writing workshop. I was prepared for ├╝berseriousness and getting right down to it. Which we did, I guess, but not in the way I expected. It was totally normal - just like the undergrad workshops I took. Only with more grown-ups.

I'm not sure why I was expecting something different. I've been part of the Professional Association of English Majors long enough to know that all the stereotypes of pretentious, high-falutin', tweed-wearing professor wannabes are actually perpetuated because we need to keep jobs. The grammar fascism and obsessive deconstructionismm is just a smokescreen we put up with the hope that no one will notice we just read stories and poems for a living.

One major difference between the undergrad and grad workshops: last night we went out for drinks after class. What a racket. I'm never leaving.

Here I am

Wednesday, August 24
Nearly a week already? I've been very busy. We began the process of putting in a patio in our side yard over the weekend (hope to post some pics soon), and school is now back in session at UT.

Also, when is going to cool down around here?

NYC 2123

Thursday, August 18
I just read the first installment of this PSP-lovin graphic novel. It's an interesting read and it's beautiful. Kind of a Frank Miller meets William Gibson thing.

I'd like to get it ported to a Palm-friendly format.

10 MPH

Wednesday, August 17
I just caught the trailer for this new documentary. It looks really interesting. I wonder if there is a chance it will hit a theater within earshot of Knoxville.

Go check it out.

On Sheehan

Tuesday, August 16
I feel bad for her, but I think she's kind of started being an ass about it. It's gone beyond being a reasonable reaction, and now it is full-on attention whoring. Christopher Hitchens makes the argument against Sheehan's demands in Slate:
Any citizen has the right to petition the president for redress of grievance, or for that matter to insult him to his face. But the potential number of such people is very large, and you don't have the right to cut in line by having so much free time that you can set up camp near his drive.

Well said.

Nike MaxSight

Nike has developed sunglass-replacing contact lenses, and up until yesterday they were available only to Nike-endorsing pro athletes (click 'athletes'...damn you, flash). But now you can get them at your local optometrist. w00t.

I think these are pretty cool, especially for sun-wusses like me, but Nike needs some help with their branding. How about Nike iBalls instead?


Brian Roberts is having an insane year, and he apparently credits MaxSight for part of that. But if, as Darren Rovell reports, Nike has "jumped on the Roberts bandwagon," shouldn't there be fewer recent pictures of Roberts wearing actual sunglasses during day games?

They're not calves, they're cows

Monday, August 15
My wife was out of town this weekend, so I had no one to tell me when to go to bed, when to stop drinking, what not to where, or what time to get up. In short, there was no one around to keep me from being the idiot I am when left to my wits.

It was so much fun.

My legs hurt, though. Why? Because I saw a Talking Heads tribute show on Saturday night, and I danced until last call in my flip-flops. I sweated like none other, and I looked like a total jackass. But seriously, it was so much fun.

Just a box with a sink in it

Friday, August 12
I've been thinking about building a cabin. Cheap. Really cheap. Maybe straw bale, but I have no real plans. I'd actually take an existing structure that hasn't been finished yet. I just want some place that's kind of out-of-the-way and really cheap. Think: old garage. I want it to be an hour or three from Knoxville, preferably in the East/Northeast direction.

Any suggestions?

Why creation theory kills puppies

Thursday, August 11
Wow, Jacob Weisberg is one pissed-off little man when it comes to the question of whether creation theory should be presented alongside evolutionary theory in public schools. It's a surprisingly bad apologia for the exclusion of creation theory, and it's, whiny for the editor of Slate. Except that it's Weisberg, and he loves a soapbox. See him over there, shaking his fist in the wind?
Random Reader: You know, a lot of people sincerely believe in creation, intelligent design, theistic evolution or some combination thereof.
Weisberg: [in a flustered Wallace Shawn voice] IDIOTS!
RR: You know, they're not all idiots.
W: Yeh-huh
RR: Why are you so ticked off?
W: Bush is a dummy and he stole the election.
RR: Oh. Nevermind.
W: I'm the editor of Slate!

I can actually accept his sincerity, and I can see some validity to the evolution-only arguments to which he barely alludes. But, if I wasn't already tired of him halfway through the article (when I realized that steam was rolling out of his ears when he wrote this), then I was definitely gone in the last paragraph when he invokes the urgency of the pet-replicating arms race to finally make his point.

Seriously weak.

Schwarzer Hund

Wednesday, August 10
I know it's a sin and everything, but I am totally lusting after one of these today.

Oh, the theoretical havoc one could instigate.

It's actually not soft at all

Tuesday, August 9
Last night I played in a softball game for the first time in...oh ten years.* It wasn't your average "Bob's Hardware" vs. "Mel's Filling Station" kind of game. No, I was playing for my local food co-op against my favorite hipster-centric downtown restaurant. These are the softball games in which there is a good chance that we're going to make a point to use vegan softballs and gloves.

It was great, though. We mighty grocery baggers won 12-10, and there was much rejoicing.

Not that it matters, but I totally hit one to the fence. This is the closest I have ever come to hitting a home run. I played years of little league, church league softball, intramural baseball and softball, and plenty of let's-go-to-the-park ball, but I've never put one as close as I did last night. I was so stunned by the sight of the ball soaring back that I forgot to run for the first three or four steps. To the average bystander, it might have appeared that I was grandstanding, doing a little Sammy Sosa, staring it out, or otherwise being a cocky ass about it. Much as I am an arrogant bastard from time to time, rest assured that I was just trying to keep from soiling myself. As a result of my late start on the baserunning, I was only able to wrangle a triple out of it. It was a stand-up triple, but I slid anyway. You know, because of the inertia. And for the glory. Oh, the glory.

You know what you need to do? You need to find a slow-pitch softball team to play on. We had beer and cigarettes in the dugout. It's got all the vice-friendliness of bowling, only it is slightly more active and with better shoes.

*From time to time, I'm struck with the strangeness of talking about not doing something or seeing someone for ten or twelve years. It feels almost foreign. I guess it's just one of those things that people much older than me said my whole life, and now that I catch myself saying it, I think, "Wow, I figured I'd have my shit way more together than this by the time I got around to saying things like, 'I haven't taken a math class in ten years.'"

The problem

Monday, August 8
I think there is a tiny, yet angry, little man behind my left ear who is intent on boring into my skull with an auger that is serious need of sharpening. That, or I have ear cancer, as I have always feared.

Atom bomb

Friday, August 5

I couldn't find an Atom Syndication logo, so I made one. Meh. I've never made a logo before, and it's kind of poopy. Also, since I'm at work, I don't have gimp or photoshop at my disposal, so all you get is a load of 24-bit MS Paint badness. If you're desperate, though, feel free to use it, though you should prolly host it yourself. If you make a better one or improve this one, let me know.

Easy with the insults.

Free Movies!

What I'm doing with my broadband today: trying to stuff the ballot box for the free Movies on Market Square series. There are some fantastic choices, and of course I want everyone to be happy...but let's all work together to get Annie Hall, Harold and Maude and the real Willy Wonka going.

We can do this.

The cheap seats

Thursday, August 4
I love Cleveland Browns football. And I cannot tell you how much I am looking forward to seeing them play under Romeo Crennel (figuratively "under" him, of course - he's a big boy). The dramatic change in tone of team from previous seasons is already apparent. Trent Dilfer had this to say in reference to respecting Crennel's leadership:
If that man tells me to throw the ball into Row 17 of the stadium, you know where the ball is going? Right between Row 16 and Row 18, that's where. I'm not about to question him. I mean, the guy has five Super Bowl rings. Five of them. That's good enough for me.

I love that. It doesn't get better than that. Also, much as I like him, I think it will be a small miracle if Trent Dilfer mustered the arm strength to huck one into the 17th row.


I went to Atlanta last Friday, and decided before I left that it was a good time to pick up some new CDs. I went to the greatest music store on the planet and bought the most recent releases of three acts I've been listening to a lot on KEXP: Band of Bees, The Mountain Goats, and Sufjan Stevens. They're all great, but Come On Feel The Illinoise, by Stevens, absolutely blew me away.

The singles from Illinoise that have been getting play time are all impressive on their own and eminently listenable (I think that's a word), but hearing them as part of the full concept of the Illinois album is even better. His lyrical details are complete and visceral, and his sense of poetic timing makes them altogether heartbreaking. Imagine Dark Side Of The Moon-era Pink Floyd and the late great Elliott Smith getting together to watch Willy Wonka and compose a soundtrack for the Illinois State Fair. It's like that, only more so.

I should say that I'm not sure how some of the songs specifically relate to their titles. For example, "Casimir Pulaski Day" is wrenching, melancholy and minor, none of which seem to have anything to do with the holiday itself. No matter. Perhaps there's just no way to write a good song about that minor holiday. It does make a great title, though.

If you have a chance to pick up this album, do so. If you hate it, you can blame me.

Has the AC always been this loud?

Wednesday, August 3
I have been drinking regularly, even religiously, on Tuesday nights for a few years. I get together with some friends, we read and write a little, and then we hit a local joint for pinball, pool, and a few pints.

This is background information.

I have learned to hold my own, and hold it damn well with a pint or five in me. I'm conversational and coherent, and I'm generally pretty good about not showing people my ass (though, sometimes it is all that can be done). I'm a creature of habit, and I hang out at the same 4-5 places downtown. But last night, something different happened. I think someone may have forgotten to stir the pot a few times on the last batch of White Mule at DG&B or something because it was dern near hallucinogenic.

To wit, I had to retrieve my truck from their parking lot, my phone from the laundry, and my good name from my wife's all-time shit list this morning. I have a vague memories of vomiting, hitting someone's knee with a pool cue, referring to a stranger as a fatass while in conversation with him, and telling someone to, "check out our balls," though not in that order.

I don't know if it was the total loss of power overnight or the mind-wiping stench of my dirty socks in the hamper, but my phone has no recollection of outgoing calls placed between 6:30 yesterday evening and 11:20 this morning. I know this is not true, not because my memory is any better, but because my wife expressed in glowing terms this morning how thrilled she was to be roused from bed at 2:30 by my belligerently plowed voice on the phone.

I really don't want to go through the contact list game where I call every number I have in order to "catch up" and wait to hear who answers my call with news of a restraining order. Again.

Let's do it this way: Friends, family, internets, Earth; I'm sorry about last night.

Retard field trip

Tuesday, August 2

Retard field trip
Originally uploaded by ashby.

So much happened this weekend. I'm not even going to try to recount all of it. Not even most of it. I'm that lazy.

Here's what you need to know. My wife's best friend came to visit, and they had a great time. They made some mac and cheese. The best mac and cheese, actually. So damn good it makes me want to open a restaurant.

They went to see James Taylor on Sunday night in Nashville too. I was their designated driver. This was not because they're big drinkers (not at the concert, at least), but because there was a better-than-average chance that one of them would try to run away with Sweet Baby James' ancient self if they were left unattended.

Consider yourself informed.