published Friday, January 6th, 2012

Phillips: Broken tradition paves way for the apocalypse

2012, I'm sorry to say, has started off as a bit of an epic failure.

As the ball dropped on New Year's Eve, I wasn't even paying attention. Too much champagne, a rousing round of board games and confusion over whether or not to trust Verizon or AT&T's perception of time all conspired to ensure I wasn't watching the TV at midnight, looking for signs of zombification on Dick Clark's face.

While that has happened before, it was a slightly unnerving break with tradition.

Even more disastrously, I somehow managed for the first time in 26 years not to honor my fealty to Appalachian superstition by eating black-eyed peas on New Year's Day to ensure my luck for the rest of the year. It's a tradition shared by many Southern families, and one my mother has ensured, via Jan. 1 phone calls and text messages, that my brother and I remember to uphold. Oblivious to the danger, I let New Year's Day come and go without downing a single pea.

I worry I've put myself in the dire position of facing a year riddled start to finish with unlucky mishaps. This is especially disconcerting since many people are convinced the completion of a Mayan calendar great cycle on Dec. 21 heralds an end-of-the-world event. I can't imagine how red my face will be if a handful of legumes was the difference between surviving the apocalypse and being another tick mark on the "didn't quite make it" column.

Still, the day has come and gone, so perhaps the point is moot. With the 350 days I have remaining, therefore, I need to have things to look forward to, lest I lapse into a fear coma of inactivity.

Fortunately, even at this early date, there are events in 2012 exciting enough to distract me from my impending doom.

* Although the calendar at Track 29 is looking a little bare in the early months of 2012, what has been announced is titillating.

On Feb. 12, geek rock legends They Might Be Giants ("Istanbul (Not Constantinople)," "Doctor Worm") will take the stage with singer/songwriter Jonathan Coulton. I saw Coulton perform to a crowd of thousands at the DragonCon convention in Atlanta last September, and the experience was revelatory. TMBG's John Flansburgh produced Coulton's new album, "Artificial Heart," and he should be a perfect opener for them.

As I mentioned in December, the venue also will play host to Athens, Ga.-based psychedelic indie-pop artists Of Montreal on April 6. If you're not excited about that booking, do yourself a favor and check out their gonzo music videos on YouTube.

Done? You're welcome.

* Anyone who has even the slightest passion for great instrumentals should be foaming at the mouth at the prospect of banjo maestro Béla Fleck's guest slot closing out the Chattanooga Symphony & Opera's Masterwork's Concert Series on May 3-4. The only time I saw Fleck was in 2007 when he opened for Nickel Creek at the Tivoli, and the experience still sticks with me as one of the bright spots of my time in Chattanooga.

about Casey Phillips...

Casey Phillips has worked as a features reporter in the Life department since May 2007. He writes about entertainment, consumer technology, animals and news of the weird. Casey hails from Knoxville and earned a bachelor of science degree in journalism and a bachelor of arts in German from Middle Tennessee State University, where he worked as the features editor for the student newspaper, Sidelines. Casey's writing has earned numerous accolades, including first and second place ...

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