October 25, 2002

When Hallowe’en comes close, I can’t help thinking of one of Tennessee’s, and, in fact, the world’s, most famous hauntings: the Bell Witch. For those of you who don’t know, the Bell Witch was neither a witch nor a bell but, as the story goes, a very powerful poltergeist who terrorized the Bell family who lived in a rural town called Adams, Tennessee in the early 1800s, and even murdered family patriarch John Bell. I consider myself to be an open-minded sceptic. Whether the Bell Witch was real and a supernatural force of considerable power or an elaborate hoax is a question on which, I believe, the jury is still out. There is no direct, tangible evidence that the Bell Witch was real, and the only existing evidence is written reports by people who have been dead for some time.

One of the most interesting pieces of evidence is a statement by President Andrew Jackson who, after a visit to Adams, said, "I’d rather fight the whole British army than deal with this torment they call the Bell Witch." Actually this was a very common sort of rhetoric in those days. For instance, Benjamin Disraeli, after a visit to Ireland, said, "I’d rather fight Napoleon’s entire army than deal with this torment they call the Sligo Banshee," and Charles XIV of Sweden said, "I’d rather fight the entire Prussian infantry than deal with this torment they call the Goteborg Skoggra", and very recently President Karimov of Uzbekistan said, "I’d rather fight every billiards player in Tashkent than deal with the Zeravshan Rusalka." Still, there is the poss – WE INTERRUPT THIS RANT TO BRING YOU THIS IMPORTANT NEWS. New research suggests the universe may collapse in as little as a few billion years. Professor Andrei Linde of Stanford University and his wife Professor Renata Kallosh say a force known as dark energy may cause the universe to collapse in only a few billion years, and not several hundred trillion years as had been previously thought. We asked an ordinary man on the street what he thought about this news. His reply was, "Oh, great, so in addition to forest fires, meteors hitting the Earth, the northward spread of malaria, radon, cholesterol, now I have to worry about the universe collapsing. I’d rather face the Bell Witch than have one more thing to worry about. Thanks a lot." More on this story as it develops. Film at eleven. NOW BACK TO YOUR REGULARLY SCHEDULED RANT. – and smeared my entire body with peanut butter. But I digress. What I’m getting at is, if you should happen to meet up with the Bell Witch, tell it I’d like to ask it a couple of questions.

Enjoy this week’s offerings.

Things I’ve learned about Tennessee

Possums sleep in the middle of the road with their feet in the air.

There are 5,000 types of snakes and 4,998 live in Tennessee.

There are 10,000 types of spiders. All 10,000 live in Tennessee, plus a couple no one’s seen before.

Squirrels will eat anything.

Unknown critters love to dig holes under tomato plants.

Raccoons will test your crop of melons and let you know when they are ripe.

If it grows, it sticks; if it crawls, it bites.

A tractor is NOT an all-terrain vehicle. They do get stuck.

Onced and Twiced are words.

It is not a shopping cart, it is a buggy.

Fire ants consider your flesh as a picnic.

People actually grow and eat okra.

Fixinto is one word.

A tank is a dirt hole in the ground that holds water for irrigation, watterin’ the cows, swimming, or a weekly bath.

There ain’t no such thing as "lunch". There’s only dinner and then there’s supper.

Tea is appropriate for all meals and you start drinking it when you’re 2. However, it must be served over ice.

Backards and forwards means I know everything about you.

‘Jeet? is actually a phrase meaning "Did you eat?"

You don’t have to wear a watch because it doesn’t matter what time it is. You work until you’re done or it’s too dark to see.

Darn near everyone knows 5 or more cloud types (guess they got to be look’n out for them there ternayders-(translation: tornados)

More Tennesseeans…:

You know you’re from Tennessee if:

1. You measure distance in minutes.

2. You’ve ever had to switch from "heat" to "A/C" in the same day.

3. Stores don’t have bags; they have sacks.

4. You see a car running in the parking lot at the store with no one in it, no matter what time of the year.

5. You use "fixing" as a verb. Example: I am fixing to go to the store. (Although the more proper pronounciation and spelling would be, "I am fixinto go to the store.")

6. All the festivals across the state are named after a fruit, vegetable, grain, insect or animal

7. You install security lights on your house and garage and leave both unlocked.

8. You carry jumper cables in your car … for your OWN car.

9. You know what "cow tipping" is.

10. You only own four spices: salt, pepper, ketchup, and Tabasco.

11. The local paper covers national and international news on one page but requires 6 pages for local gossip and sports.

12. You think that the first day of deer season is a national holiday.

13. You find 100 degrees Fahrenheit "a little warm."

14. You know all four seasons: Almost summer, summer, still summer, and Christmas.

15. You know whether another Tennesseeian is from east, west, or middle Tennessee as soon as they open their mouth.

16. You describe the first cool snap (below 70 degrees) as good chili weather.

17. A carbonated soft drink isn’t a soda, cola, or pop … it’s a Coke, regardless of brand or flavor. Example "What kinna coke you want?"

18. Fried Catfish is the other white meat.

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