Ace Atkins investigates New Year's Eve traditions

C-VILLE’s longest running columnist and all-around Answer Man offers some of his expert knowledge on obscure New Year’s traditions. Dear Ace: What are some New Year’s Eve rituals and superstitions regarding luck, prosperity and health?—Spike D. Punch Dear Spike: You’d think that Ace’s notoriously poor fortune would disqualify him from answering this question, but you’d […]

Who killed the flying car?

Dear Ace: 2010 is here. Where is my flying car?—Future-Schmuck-in-Charlottesville Robert Zemeckis’ 1989 film Back to the Future II doesn’t show the flying car in common use until 2015, so you’ve still got five years to go before you can officially start feeling disappointed in the future. See, flying cars have actually been around for […]

Ancestral Ace

Dear Ace: I was wondering if you’re up on any of the Atkins genealogy from the area? My ancestors came to Surry County, VA on the “Gods Giffte” in 1623, and another ancestor, Ida Atkins, purchased 400 acres in Albemarle County on the banks of the Rivanna around 1740. Any connection?—H.B. Atkins Would that Ace […]

This is spinal prep

Dear Ace: We’ve got a medical school and a massage school, but where around here can I learn to become a chiropractor?—Crooked-Condition-in-Charlottesville You can’t, so Ace hopes the prospect of leaving town for a spell doesn’t get you too bent out of shape. Or twisted up inside. Or feeling a pain in your neck. Meaning, […]

Freaked on the leash

Four words, Ace: Cat on a leash. What the hell?—Militant-Cat-Harness-Abolitionist-in-Charlottesville Okay, Grizabella, but some people like to walk their cats instead of letting them grow fat and sedate in front of the television. The world is hard and cruel, and Ace for one doesn’t want some texting-with-one-hand minivan driver sending Ol’ Moses to the Heaviside […]

Purple pros

December arrives, and thereby the onset of my discontented literary winter approacheth. Well, not “discontented” so much as “lacking content,” verily. Lacking inspiration, space wherein to work, and desperately needful of coaching and critique: What is a would-be writer to do, good sir? Very long, my supply of Browning and Milton will last not.—O. Veritten […]

Phone-y business

Dear Ace: Is it true that the federal government is using Social Security to fund free cellular phone service for welfare recipients?—Not-Expecting-Ever-to-Retire-in-Charlottesville addresses your question in a recent post titled “The Obama Phone?” that debunks allegations made in one of those pernicious chain e-mails—you know, the kind with big blocky text in primary colors, […]

All that Twitters

Dear Ace: MySpace is played out, Facebook is getting there, and I’m ready to set up a new circle of on-the-Internet friends. Who are some of the most prevalent Tweeters in Charlottesville, and how do I become one of them?—Twit-Or-Miss-in-Charlottesville There are a number of ways to connect with the Charlottesville Twitterati. One is through […]

Northern exposure

Ace, this state is giving me geographical vertigo. Why is it that North Garden is located along Rte. 29 South? Why not call it “South Garden?” And what is it north of?—Carter Graffer Do you really want to go there, Carter? And by “there,” Ace doesn’t mean down to lovely North Garden, with its verdant […]

Theatres Of War

I never thought I’d have to choose between cinema and the stage, but the Virginia Film Festival is throwing its big closing night bash at X-Lounge on the same night that Live Arts is hosting its Gala & AfterGlow party. What’s up with that, Ace? And which one will you be attending?—Nicky Lodian You might […]

Mountain intervals

Ace, I’m leaf-peeping along 64W, and I’m presented with a difficult choice. I can turn left, and head south along the Blue Ridge Parkway for free. So why is it that, if I turn right, I have to shell out $15 to enter the Shenandoah National Park, for basically the same scenery? What exactly am […]

Popularitree contest

Dear Ace: The fall is here, and the leaves are starting to turn. It‘s putting me in a real circle-of-life, survival-of-the-fittest kind of mood. Ace, what is the most prevalent tree in Virginia? I want to plant one in my yard, to teach my sons how to be stronger and more prolific than their rivals.—Eugene […]

Three Notch’d, Thrice Answer’d

Ace, I’ve got a few questions about that Three Notch’d Road historical marker on the east end of the Pedestrian Mall. First, what are the notches? Second, where did the road go? Lastly, who the heck was Jack Jouett, and what “famous ride” of his does the sign refer to?—Scratch’d-Head’d in Charlottesville Listen, my friend, […]

Sound choices

Ace, Charlottesville’s FM dial has put a spell on me, and I can’t get no satisfaction—or relief, for that matter. Mostly, I just don’t know where to go for what I like. Any chance you can help me find what I’m looking for?—Ray Diogaga Funny you should ask, Ray. Ace was just receiving some instant […]

Shooting Ace

The world is getting to be a pretty scary place, Ace. I don’t know how I’m supposed to protect myself, for example, from the type of person who would carry an assault rifle to a presidential speech. Or in the event of the zombie apocalypse, which is also starting to look pretty likely. Where can […]

Binge of the nerds

Hey Ace, what gives? I get all primped and cologned to go groove with the ladies at Rapture, but I get there and find a bunch of shrimpy dudes and mousy chicks playing live bar trivia, wearing taped glasses and suspenders and stuff, but not ironically, you know? I asked them who they were and […]

Acebook Profile

Ace, I’m worried about my little girl. I’ve been tracking her online activity daily, and she seems to spend hours on her MyFaceSpace. God forbid she fall in with the wrong crowd, or worse, catch the eye of some sicko stalker. In the interest of keeping tabs, I’ve decided to create a SpaceFageBook page of […]

Ticking away

What is a clockmaker to do, Ace? In this age of atomic timekeeping and all-in-one cellular gadgets, it seems like everyone’s turned a blind eye to our noble craft. I have this terrific idea for an escapement-driven pendulum, but everyone keeps telling me that it’s “so 17th-century.” I don’t suppose there’s anyone in Charlottesville who […]

Joe on Joe

These are strange days, Ace. I hear whispered rumors of a mysterious figure, a “grocery messiah,” coming in from the west, his hour come round at last, slouching towards Charlottesville to do business. Some call him Trader Joe. I’ve browsed every prophetic text I can find, but none mention him. Who is he? And should […]

A New Hope

Ace, help a fanboy out. Ever since Daniel Jordan abdicated his executive post at Monticello and was replaced by some lady named Bowman, my fellow Jefferson geeks and I have been petitioning the writers to have him retconned back into the picture. Because let’s face it—DJ was Monticello. And forgive us, but in this post-Battlestar […]

Little boxes

Ace, is there a single USPS blue mailbox between the railroad tracks adjacent to Water Street and Mill Creek, including all of Belmont? If so, I can’t find it. Has regular mail finally vanished, or am I just looking in the wrong places?—Blue-Box-Deprived-In-Belmont If you’re worried that non-electronic communication is going the way of the […]

Virginia: What is it for?

Ace: When did Forbes become a hippie love-rag? I was counting my money the other day when my Blackberry updated its RSS feed, and what do I see? “ Virginia Is For Lovers.” I am a joyless shut-in, and this is news to me. What is Forbes blathering about, and should I consider moving?—Rick Cleuse […]

White noise

Ace: So, I’ve been hearing voices. Nixon’s voice, specifically, and he keeps calling me Bob. My wife, she says to me, “Bowie, you may be crazy, but those voices aren’t in your head, they’re at the Miller Center.” What is she talking about? Or is my wife just trying to mess with my mind?—Bowie Meangrove […]

No girls allowed

Ace: I recently discovered a bizarre landmark at 401 West Franklin Street in Richmond: a private sports and social club where women aren’t permitted to set foot. In fact, before I could even open the front door to the Commonwealth Club to inspect the historic (est. 1891) building, I was intercepted by an employee. Can […]

Lone read

Dear Ace: Why haven’t your devoted readers asked you any questions this week?-Ace Ace, Recently Ace has become frustrated by the lack of authentic reader questions. This week he was forced to pick his brain to come up with some burning question of his own. Unfortunately Ace is too wise to have his own inquiries […]


Ace: Every day I walk past the construction site on Maury Avenue for the Jefferson Scholars’ new building at UVA. One day, I looked up and saw a good size log—yes, log—hanging on an electric line that runs in front of the site. Every day as I walk underneath it I think: If that log […]

Getting defensive

Dear Ace: I was at the Twisted Branch Tea Bazaar on the Downtown Mall the other day and noticed a free newspaper I’d never seen in Charlottesville before. It’s called “The Virginia Defender.” Can you explain where it came from and what it’s doing here?—Wrights Auf Ender Dear Wrights, Ace doesn’t know where people get […]