The Symptoms

Illustrated Tantrums by Ashley Holt

Ashley Holt

Ashley Holt
December 04
Ashley Holt is an illustrator and opinionated crank living in the bygone century known as South Carolina. His wide variety of neurotic quirks and extreme sensitivity to broad social trends are chronicled as The Symptoms, an illustrated blog of sophisticated tantrums. Ashley's work has appeared in many defunct publications and hard-to-sell books. He is considered a complete failure by those envious of his genius. He has a website for some reason:


Ashley Holt's Links

NOVEMBER 8, 2012 1:35PM

Well, that's enough futility for now

I'm throwing in the cyber-towel on this nearly-defunct Open Salon business. Thanks again to everyone for reading and for all the encouragement. You're a swell bunch of folks.

I'm hoping you'll join me at my regular blog:

...which is part of the mighty force of illustrated se… Read full post »

NOVEMBER 2, 2012 9:10AM

To Cough in the Face of Danger


It should come as no surprise that I’m a bundle of nerves. I was raised by a bundle of nerves. From the time I was born, my father was feverishly intent on imparting to me one, all-encompassing lesson: life is full of danger. Life, according to my father, consisted entirely… Read full post »

IC Cover

Well, of COURSE I have a self-published collection of my essays and illustrations:

Internal Combustion collects the "illustrated tantrums" of Ashley Holt, as featured on his online journal The Symptoms. Chronicling the misspent life and anguished observations of this award-winning malcontent,… Read full post »

SEPTEMBER 2, 2012 8:30PM

King of Stain


My dream for the house had always been new wall-to-wall carpet. This seemed luxurious, yet essential to me. I’ve spent a good deal of my life on the floor - writing, drawing, playing guitar, sleeping off a bender –and quality carpeting had padded my cheeks through these low-level… Read full post »

AUGUST 24, 2012 9:49PM

The Litter of Quitters


Every now and then, while picking up trash in the front yard, I find a pack of cigarettes, almost full. I do a quick scan of my limited Biblical knowledge to remember if Revelations mentions anything about a plague of Pall Mall’s, but I know what really happened here. I… Read full post »

Editor’s Pick
JUNE 14, 2012 3:33PM

A History of Violence


I think it’s clear to anyone who has beaten me senseless with a crowbar without fear of retribution that I am not a violent person. While others were studying the physical arts of ju-jitsu or boxing in their youth, I busied myself perfecting the sort of intellectual wit that encou… Read full post »

Editor’s Pick
APRIL 25, 2012 12:04PM

The Mouth Shall Rise Again


You might not know it from the top hat and monocle I wear to the opera these days, but I was born a hillbilly. I was a redneck trailer park child, raised amid the pluff mud and pork rinds of the South Carolina Low Country. I ate grits with every… Read full post »

Editor’s Pick
APRIL 4, 2012 3:02PM

Physician, Keel Thyself

The Death of Dr. Rivers 

There’s something vindicating about outliving your doctor. It gives you pause, certainly, to consider the fragility of life, as someone’s death always does. But in a perverse way, when the person advising you on your health keels over from a big, greasy heart attack, it mea… Read full post »


Sometime around 1990, my friends and I were hanging out, doing precisely the nothing with our post-teenage lives that had become standard procedure, when the TV did something strange. Late in the evening, there was a broadcast of something called “Superargo,” a particul… Read full post »
Editor’s Pick
MARCH 19, 2012 10:33PM

Health and Swellness: Coping with a World of Extroverts

Little Miss Sunshine 

It’s bad enough the women featured in all those health and fitness magazines are completely devoid of excess fat. Bad enough they insult the average stuffed-crust American with their perfectly shaped buns and abs. And bad enough they seem to have several employment-free hours a da… Read full post »

Evening Protest 

Evening Protest

I was wandering through the neighborhood, having just gotten out of the shower. A group of protesters were parading outside a small, suburban home, yelling at "Bill."

"Bill, where are the market reports?" "Bill, why did you shred the documents?" Etc.

I could see "Bill" in… Read full post »

Editor’s Pick
FEBRUARY 2, 2012 1:43PM

The First Cut is the Deepest

Barber Manly 

You know the guy. Hell, you may even be the guy. He’s deeply entrenched in a mid-life crisis, radiating stress over his job and his home life. He’s buying status symbols by the truckload; a sporty new car here, a 3-D smell-o-rama flat screen there. He’s got a personal… Read full post »

JANUARY 17, 2012 7:52PM

Marriage Browse

Marriage Browse 

Because she is one of the few people still speaking to me after all these years, I spend a lot of time with my wife, Melissa. And my desperate need for her constant attention means I tag along on routine excursions I might usually avoid, and that would surely have… Read full post »

Editor’s Pick
NOVEMBER 16, 2011 12:34AM

The Fountain of Youth

The Hurler

Middle age has its share of embarrassments – the uncontrollable girth, the aching joints, the sudden tendency to crank up the volume when Genesis comes on the radio. Come to think of it, still having a radio at all at this stage is an embarrassing sign of aging. But we… Read full post »

OCTOBER 30, 2011 2:31PM

The Mouse That Bored

Dream of the Diznee Tat 

I woke up in a dingy Super 8 motel, not quite sure where I was. I took a look around, searching my memory for a moment, and realized that no, I hadn’t been double-crossed by a dame in a Chandler novel, I was with my friend, Doug, who was stillRead full post »

OCTOBER 23, 2011 6:17PM

Someone's in the Kitchen with Angina

Dixie Vittles  

When the wife and I moved to Spartanburg, South Carolina a few years ago, I knew what I was getting into. I knew that this was desolate hill country, with only the barest hints of civilization. I knew the locals rejected all efforts at cultural encroachment by outsiders, and that… Read full post »

Editor’s Pick
OCTOBER 14, 2011 3:34PM

Get Out of My Dreams and Into My Mylar

Geek of My Dreams 

I was browsing in the bookstore not long ago, thumbing through the various Kardashian bios that constitute our modern literary offerings, when two teenage girls came dashing around the aisle. They were adorable; rosy-cheeked, sporting sweatshirts and Converse, all wide-eyed and excited… Read full post »
Editor’s Pick
OCTOBER 6, 2011 5:14PM

The Worth of the Cool

The Nouveau Cool 

Over the years, with my kneejerk rebellion in full jerk, I’ve resisted adopting any overarching philosophy of life. I don’t think the Golden Rule applies in every situation, I don’t twelve-step my way towards anything and I don’t believe that the world is divided… Read full post »

Editor’s Pick
SEPTEMBER 27, 2011 3:59PM

Zen and the Art of Throwing Away Broken Junk


A few years ago, while exploring the ruins of my grandfather’s shed, I found an old wooden ladder. This was a basic, folding stepladder, covered in paint drips, that my grandfather had likely used for decades of household repair. Nothing exotic about it. But the ladder, thouRead full post »

Editor’s Pick
JUNE 8, 2011 5:02PM

A Hypochondriac's Cure


Years ago, I discovered a cure for hypochondria. I’d been looking for a cure for most of my life, having suffered from perpetual, obsessive inventory of personal symptoms for decades. The mysterious, internal disease had yet to be diagnosed, but the symptoms were many, ranging fro… Read full post »
APRIL 20, 2011 3:24PM

Interviews from the Heart

A couple of years ago I got a call from a Washington Post reporter, asking for an interview. She’d seen some comment I made online about owning a product called TV-B-Gone, a keychain remote that can turn off almost any television, and was writing a story about the device. The interview… Read full post »

MARCH 19, 2011 12:59PM

Buzz Stop

Buzz Stop 

In the seventh grade there was a bus stop right outside my house, but I never hung out there. Every morning I snubbed the pale, bookish, grade-grubbing children loitering at the closest stop and walked several blocks to wait for the bus with a much seedier crew of juvenile losers… Read full post »

Editor’s Pick
FEBRUARY 15, 2011 8:35PM

Midlife Ophiuchus


Insofar as I gave a damn about astrology, I was pretty satisfied with my designation as a Sagittarius, the sign of the lazy, philosophical dreamer who writes poems between naps. The Sagittarius follows his own interests, pursuing higher education to suit his whims,… Read full post »

Editor’s Pick
OCTOBER 29, 2010 3:58PM

Still Only 25 Cents

Bike Boy

"Happiness is the deferred fulfillment of a prehistoric wish. That is why wealth brings so little happiness: money is not an infantile wish." – Sigmund Freud

In the early Seventies, I saw a photograph of Hagar the Horrible cartoonist Dik Browne in Parade Magazine.  I knew who Dik BRead full post »

OCTOBER 19, 2010 2:00PM

The Infinte Cosmos

It’s surprising to me now that I even found the idea of LSD appealing. I’ve always been a self-control freak and I was already having major anxiety issues with pot by the time I was in high school. I should’ve been able to predict that acid wasn’t the drug… Read full post »