Also known as the “Artery Buster” or “Aorta Exploder.”

h0604D076

Well, almost.

Years ago I was asked to play in a big charity golf tournament outside of Columbus, imagesQH2X3K9Qand after some hesitation I agreed. I’m not the worst golfer in the world, but at the same time I didn’t really relish the idea of teeing off with 50-people watching as I’ve been known to slice and hook my way around the links occasionally. My group had an early tee time so I hoped there wouldn’t be many people around, thus I could avoid a lot of attention.

No such luck.

To my horror there were probably 30-people around the tee and another 100 lined up on both sides of the fairway, ready to watch. Trust me, they weren’t there to see me. There were several major college coaches playing as well as some former Ohio State football and basketball players in attendance.

Anyway, to say I was nervous would be a massive understatement. All I could think about was a story Greg Cook, former All-Pro quarterback of the Cincinnati Bengals and my Aunt Dorothy’s nephew, once told me. He said he was at a Pro-Am out in San Diego and at the first tee there was a narrow corridor about 15-feet wide for about 40-yards down the fairway between the galleries. He said he hooked his drive right into the fans and drilled a guy right in the chest. It scared the hell out of him, and at the moment it was scaring the hell out of me.

As luck would have it I was the first guy up in my foursome to tee off, because of course I was. I took a couple of practice swings, trying desperately to look like I could, you know, golf. I stepped up, took my swing, and to my delight whacked a low, screaming drive smack-dab down the middle of the fairway. The ball rose slowly and majestically, then disappeared over a small rise in the golf course up ahead.

At this point I was still holding my follow-through, acting as if this was a normal drive for me, something I did with regularity. It was only when I bent down to retrieve my tee from the ground did I hear the scream emanating from over the hill.

“A-h-h-h-h-h-h-h-h-h-h-h-h-h-h-h-h-h-h-h-h-h-h-h-h!!!!!!!”

Everyone sort of froze for a second, and then came the cry from one of the spectators at the top of the rise:

“Man down! MAN DOWN!”

Oh, good God.

We all ran up to the top of the hill, looked down, and to my horror saw a man lying prone in the middle of the fairway, holding his throat. Trust me, not what I wanted to see. He was moving though, so on the bright side he wasn’t dead.

Yet.

We jogged down the hill and to assess the damages, and were quick to discover I’d nailed him right in the side of the neck. In fact, you could see the dimple marks from the ball about two-inches below his right ear.

There was a doctor in the gallery who quickly determined my victim would live, albeit with a bruise the size of a softball on his neck. He was picked up and carried off on a golf cart, but not before shooting me a look of disgust.

What?

I could feel that look from several others as well, as if it was somehow my fault that this numbskull had decided to cut across the fairway during a golf tournament. One guy even had the nerve to say this:

“You know, you’re supposed to yell ‘FORE!'”

To which I replied:

“Really? On a drive straight down the fairway? Why didn’t YOU yell fore?”

Then again, maybe the guy I hit figured the middle of the fairway was the safest place to be with yours truly teeing off. Well, he figured wrong. And although I was sort of glad I didn’t kill him, I had no remorse at all for causing him bodily harm.

After all, the son-of-a bitch had probably taken 30-yards off my drive.

Whaddafugg?

Years ago I went through a gerbil phase and owned 3-4 over a period of a few years, but none was more well-known than my last, the legendary Elmo. Elmo was cool. He’d sit on my shoulder or in my shirt pocket when I went out in Columbus, go shopping with me, just generally hang out and be my buddy. He never bitched or complained, never called me selfish or self-centered, never got upset at me for being impatient. We loved each other unconditionally.

Hell, once he got sick and I took him to the vet. Keep in mind he only cost $3.99 to begin with. As my buddy told me at the time, “Shoe, that’s like taking a disposable lighter in for repairs.” True enough, but a disposable lighter never snuggled up on my chest at night or helped me meet girls in bars. Trust me when I say Elmo was one helluva wingman.

I basically let Elmo have the run of the house, I just had to warn visitors as I didn’t want him to get stepped on. That would have been tragic. Also, girls tended to scream when he darted up their leg in search of a kiss on the ol’ snout.

Elmo had some weird tendencies bordering on, well, insanity. OK, I think he might have been batshit crazy. One night I couldn’t find him, became worried, and went on a search.  I found him in a closet, hanging from a clothes hanger by his back feet, upside down. How he got there I’ll never know.

Another night I came home and found him lying on my recliner, looking sort of bloated. I looked around and discovered the problem. I’d left some food out in the kitchen and he’d eaten half a piece of a deluxe pizza with extra cheese, including hot peppers. Hey, that doesn’t sound like much to you and I, but that’s a lot of food when you only weigh 5-ounces.

On another occasion I’d read where gerbils liked to tunnel in the ground, so I removed the woodshavings from his cage (which he rarely used) and replaced it with some dirt. A few hours later I was walking by, looked down, and saw that Elmo had buried himself up to his chin. There he lay, just watching me walk by. Like I said, nuts.

Once I bought him one of those clear plastic balls you could put him in to run around and get exercise. All was well until he rolled into the kitchen and down the basement stairs. I thought he was dead but he shook it off like a boss.

Dude was a genuine hardo.

Alas, as was bound to happen, Elmo died. I found him when I came home late one night. He was lying on my pillow as if he’d died in his sleep. He’d never shown any signs of illness so I was stunned. Was I sad? Hell yeah. Did I cry over a gerbil? Maybe. That said, I knew I couldn’t just bury Elmo in the backyard or toss him in the trash. Elmo deserved more. Much more. And so it began . . .

Elmo had passed on a Monday so the Funeral/Wake/Party was scheduled for the following Saturday. After gently putting him in a Stroh’s beer can (took the top off and fashioned a lid with duct tape) and depositing him in my freezer, I sent out a boatload of Death Notices/Funeral Announcements/Party Invitations. You have to remember that Elmo had more friends than I did, and by a considerable margin. He could have run for local office and won by a landslide. You know, as long as there was no psychological evaluation and stuff. In addition, Elmo had no enemies. Well, other than my neighbor’s cat. He hated that damn cat. But I digress. I then called my closest friends to make the plans. It was to be a wake, followed by the burial, followed by the party. If you’re shaking your head, you didn’t know Elmo. If you knew him, you’re nodding approvingly.

Finally the day arrived, and everything was ready. Elmo lay majestically on my mantle in a tiny, beautiful mahogany coffin constructed by my cousin Mike. The gerbil casket (possibly the only one of its kind in recorded history) was satin-lined and held together by little gold nails. When I first saw it I got misty-eyed. I also must add that Mike showed up in a coat and tails for the event. As much pomp and ceremony as possible was in order and he knew it. I never loved my cousin more than on that day.

Positioned around Elmo were probably 30 or more beautiful flower arrangements with various notes from mourners. I remember one in particular that read, “As I took my morning walk through the woods today, I finally realized just how much I’ll miss that little rodent. My heart goes out to you.” And believe me when I say that person wasn’t kidding.

After the viewing and some cocktails it was time for the burial. Cousin Mike led the procession in his coattails, holding a bible although for the life of me I can’t remember why. It just seemed to be the thing to do. I followed him, carrying the casket in one hand and a beer in the other. Behind me followed about 60 people walking in pairs, bearing lighted candles. Keep in mind this was all happening in my front yard, and I swear cars stopped in the road as a show of respect. Or curiosity. Or amazement. Or disgust. We can’t be certain.

After we got to the gravesite, everyone circled around the little hole we’d dug for Elmo. I gently laid his casket down amid sniffles from the crowd. At that point my friend Tom stepped forward for the eulogy. It was based, fittingly, on Ted Kennedy’s eulogy at Bobby’s funeral. After all, both Elmo and Bobby were compassionate, groundbreaking dreamers, and heroes to many.  Amirite or amirite? You could hear a gerbil hair drop as Tom spoke. He concluded with these moving words:

Those of us who loved Elmo, and who take him to his rest today, pray that what he was to us and what he wished for others will someday come to pass for all the world.”

And later:

As he said many times, in many parts of this state, to those he touched and who sought to touch him . . . ‘eek eek.’”

Touching, I tell you. Just moving as hell. At that point I tossed some dirt on the casket, which basically finished the burial process. Hey, he was a gerbil after all. It didn’t take a whole lotta dirt.

At that point everyone blew out their candles and headed back into the house. I, though, stayed for a few minutes and said my last goodbye. I then went inside and partied the night away with Elmo’s closest friends. Stories were told, anecdotes related, and everyone discussed what we’d learned from Elmo. Other than always remembering to check where he was before we sat down, turns out we hadn’t learned much. Still, if that cat would have wondered over we would have ripped it to shreds, just for Elmo. We loved him that much.

I never owned another gerbil, because quite frankly none could ever reach the bar Elmo had set. The fact that said bar was about 3 ½ inches high is irrelevant. His greatness could never be matched.

May his legend live on.                           

Check out George's breathing tube. Heart-breaking.

Check out George’s breathing tube. Heart-breaking.

A vet has performed intricate surgery on a dying goldfish in Australia which was suffering from a life-threatening head tumor. The 10-year-old goldfish, named George, was admitted to an animal hospital in Melbourne by its owners, who were “quite attached” to the fish.

Dr. Tristan Rich, the vet, said the 45-minute operation on the 80-gram fish had been “quite fiddly”. He had offered the owners the option of attempting to remove the tumor or putting George to sleep; they chose the former.

“The fish was having trouble eating, getting around and he was getting bullied by other fish,” said Dr Rich.

“It was quite a large tumour – we had to scrape it off his skull. When it was all done we woke him up in a clean bucket of water … he came through it swimmingly.”

Man, I love this article. Ol’ George was ready to kick the bucket, but his owners had become “quite attached” to him so they opted for surgery. But hey, who hasn’t become overly attached to their goldfish? A lot of folks would have just flushed him down the toilet, but not these goldfish loving Aussies. And how about Dr. Tristan Rich? This heroic vet soldiered through the operation even though things became “quite fiddly,” getting George to come through it “swimmingly.” God bless you Dr. Rich. Finally, if those fish who were bullying George haven’t been disciplined yet something is amiss. They need bullying counseling and they need it now.

Note #1: This story reminds me of the pet gerbil I had in college named Elmo. Even though Elmo cost $3.99, he got sick once and I took him to the vet. My friend JR told me that was like taking a disposable lighter in for repairs. Hey, you gotta do what you gotta do.

Note #2: If you think I won’t use the phrase “quite fiddly” regularly from now on you don’t even know me. 

Who has a way with catchy titles? I do. You’re welcome. Anyhoo, get a load of a certain bat’s reaction to this music. Then again, it might be the guitarist’s knee socks.

For some reason I found this hilarious.

h350C2AD5

O.K.

h8EEFA24B

Why do Canadians still have their goalposts in the middle of the damn endzone?

. . . this guy.

Atta girl. Sic ‘em.

Good Lord almighty, he gives up more points than he scores.

They can’t be serious, can they? And for a commercial directed at children? How in the world did nobody notice what this sounds like? Or do I just have a dirty mind?

Never mind.

Look at him. The Octopi are coming.

Look at him. The Octopi are coming.

Just so you know, you can use octopuses, octopi or even octopodes, the latter of which is rather awesome.

But seriously, do you have any idea what these creatures are capable of? I’ve been doing some octopus research recently and have been somewhat flabbergasted by these amazing animals. Why have I been doing octopus research, you ask? Why do I do anything? Because I either find it funny, it angers me or it fascinates me. Deal with it.

Anyhoo, there are several things I found out about octopuses that are intriguing as hell, and I also have a pretty cool story and a video to pass on as well. The video is at the bottom, and you simply must watch it. Your mind will be blown.

Let’s get to it. I’ll start with the story we ran across during my crack staff’s extensive research. Read on:

hF7029B37

Lordy.

There are also documented cases of octopuses unscrewing lids of baby-proof bottles, squeezing through tiny holes and entering houses to steal food, and stacking shells to form fortresses in the ocean.

Here are some other cool facts:

  • Octopuses don’t have 8-legs. They have 4-pairs of arms. Somehow that sounds way more scary.
  • Octopuses can walk across land. Again, j-u-s-t a tad horrifying.
  • Octopuses use tools and weapons. There have been cases of octopuses beating a diver over the head with a conch shell. Sweet Mother of God.
  • Octopuses have unique, distinct personalities, just like people. Well, most people.
  • Octopuses have three hearts. Two pump blood through each of the two gills, while the third pumps blood through the body.
  • When discovered, an octopus will release a cloud of black ink to obscure its attacker’s view, giving it time to swim away. The ink even contains a substance that dulls a predator’s sense of smell, making the fleeing octopus harder to track. Diabolical.
  • Fast swimmers, they can jet forward by expelling water through their mantles. And their soft bodies, with no internal or external skeleton, can squeeze into impossibly small cracks and crevices where predators can’t follow. Sneaky and slimy, dangerous combination.
  • Octopuses have beaklike jaws that can deliver a nasty bite, and venomous saliva, used mainly for subduing prey. Sorta looks like a parrot’s beak.
  • If all else fails, an octopus can lose an arm to escape a predator’s grasp and re-grow it later with no permanent damage. The arms can even react after they’ve been completely severed. In one experiment, severed arms jerked away in pain when researchers pinched them.W-h-u-u-u-u-t?
  • Octopuses arms have a mind of their own. Two-thirds of an octopus’ neurons reside in its arms, not its head. As a result, the arms can problem solve how to open a shellfish while their owners are busy doing something else, like checking out a cave for more edible goodies or planning to overthrow the world.

And finally and most remarkably . . .

  • Octopuses are capable of changing their body shape and color to mimic other animals and other ocean life. Check it:

Good God almighty, that was impressive. I agree with the dude in the video. Chameleons got nuthin’ on the octopodes.

So there’s your nature Lesson ‘o’ the Day, kids. I hope you learned something, I know I did. But after reading this, I have a ominous feeling that somewhere, out in the ocean, there’s an island where octopuses are fine-tuning their walking abilities. And then someday in the future, Hawaii or Bermuda or some other small isolated island will be attacked by marauding, spear-wielding and poison ink squirting octopuses. An Octopi Army if you will. And this future conflict will be called by CNN the Revenge of the Calamari or something along those lines.

Prepare yourselves, people. Prepare yourselves.

But damn. Octopuses, man.

cxfgngyI updated my iPhone music recently, as I do often, this time with nothing but 90’s music. You know what occurred to me? Damn, the 90’s had some kick-ass tunes. That said, I decided to choose my favorite songs of the decade. Here are my songs (with a link added so you can listen, just click on the song title) and I also took the liberty of adding a few comments. The songs are in no particular order, they’re just some of my faves. Hope you enjoy . . .

1. The Church of Logic, Sin and Love – The Men (1992)

  • Quite simply one of my favorite songs of all-time. It has it all – melody, a searing guitar, and cool but rather weird and enigmatic lyrics. Can’t get enough of this tune. On a related note, I got to know drummer Dave Botkin on FB and am happy to report he’s a pretty righteous dude.

2. Last Stop: This Town – The Eels (1998)

  • E wrote this song after the suicide of his sister, which the song’s upbeat tone would never suggest. It’s typical E, with a catchy hook, whimsical lyrics and dark undertones. Love it. I’ll say it again – if you haven’t listened to the Eels you’re missin’ out.

3. We’re the Same – Matthew Sweet (1993)

  • Rolling Stone called this quite possibly the best song of 1993, and I couldn’t agree more. Just a pure pop confection of jangly guitars and gorgeous melodies.

4. Time to Wonder – Fury in the Slaughterhouse (1993)

  • This song starts out slow and gradually builds to a crescendo, and is great when played live as you’ll see if you click on the link. At the 2:40 mark things get interesting. Another great, little known song.

5. The Ballad of Peter Pumpkin Head - XTC (1992)

  • This amazing song follows the story of Peter Pumpkinhead, a man who comes to an unspecified town, “spreading wisdom and cash around.” He is extremely popular with the people of the town, but extremely unpopular with government figures. In the end, Peter Pumpkinhead is killed by those he made enemies of, “nailed to a chunk of wood”, a reference to being crucified, like Jesus. Controversial? Well, yeah. Catchy? Fo sho.

6. The Globe – Big Audio Dynamite (1991)

  • See kids, The Globe was written and performed by Mick Jones, who was previously with a little combo you may have heard of called The Clash. Anywho, Clash fans were appalled by Big Audio Dynamite though for the life of me I know not why. Me? I loved this crazy-ass song.

7. Waiting for the Great Leap Forwards - Billy Bragg (1990)

  • How can you not love a song with lyrics like, “The revolution is just a t-shirt away“? I’ve always loved the rabble rouser that is Billy Bragg, and this is my favorite song of his.

8. Birdhouse in Your Soul – They Might Be Giants (1990)

  • From the album “Flood” which is absolutely stellar, one of the greatest albums of the decade. Everyone knows I’ve been a big-time TMBG fan since the mid-80’s, and this shows why.

9. Good Day – Paul Westerberg  (1996)

  • On the way home from the funeral of one of the best friends I’ve ever had, this song was the first thing I heard on the radio. “A good day is any day that you’re alive” . . .

10. Happy Birthday to Me – Cracker  (1992)

  • I love Cracker. I met David Lowery once and it was like meeting a terrified deer. He acted as if he was ready to run for his life at any moment. Great song though.

11. Some Other Sucker’s Parade – Del Amitri  (1997)

  • This is a song about, well, the joys of drinking, and it’s unapologetic as hell. Just a great song from a great 90’s band. I love Del Amitri.

12. Work for Food – Dramarama  (1993)

  • Just an ungodly good song. I cannot tell you how much I love this song about a musician who tasted success but ended up homeless. Clicked on that link yet? Do it. DO IT NOW!

13. Story of My Life – Social Distortion (1990)

  • Finally saw these cats live a couple years ago (had been a dream of mine forever) and could barely leave the venue afterwards I was so weak-kneed. Blew. Me. Away. And this song is my personal favorite of theirs. Love me some SD.

So there ya go, loyal Shoe:Untied readers. What are some of your favorite 90’s tunes? Don’t worry, we’re open-minded here. Let us hear ‘em!

Originally published on January 9th, 2013.

As is often the case with these things, I’ve no idea where I came up with the idea. I believe it all started when I was teaching at Greenfield Middle School and a pretty good kid did something stupid. It should come as no surprise that this happens often, good kids doing dumb things. Anyway, I didn’t want to punish the kid too severely for what he’d done, just rip his ass and scare him a little bit.

For some reason I gave this student three options regarding his discipline. His options were:

1. He had a week of detention.

2. I’d make a call to his mom and dad.

And for reasons unbeknownst to me . . .

3. He had to promise to salute me every time he saw me for the rest of his life.

Yeah, I know. Makes no sense on any level. I’ve never been in the armed forces or anything. Like I said, the kid made a dumb mistake, I don’t even remember what it was. I wanted him to remember what he’d done without really getting him into trouble, ya know?

And of course he picked #3. Who wouldn’t? For the next 5-years every time I saw this kid in the hallway, at sporting events, anywhere, he stopped and saluted.

Bottom line, I used this form of “discipline” several times over the years at Greenfield, Rainsboro, Twin and Paint Valley. You’d think in most cases Option #3 would be forgotten pretty quickly, right?

Wrong.

Here are some examples of students sticking to their promise . . .

When the kid I just mentioned was probably in his early twenties, I was stopped at a stoplight in Greenfield and the girl I was with said, “Uh, Dave, what’s that guy doing?” I glanced over and there, catty-cornered across the street, standing on the sidewalk, was my guy. He was standing at attention, saluting me.

Once I was coaching a varsity basketball game at Paint Valley and something caught me eye across the court. There, standing at mid-court, was a 30-year old man saluting me.

Another time I went to a funeral in Bainbridge, had left the funeral home and was pulling into the graveyard for the burial. There, standing by the entrance, was one of the funeral home workers, saluting me as I passed.

I was once at a restaurant in Columbus with a group of people. At one point everyone at my table got sort of quiet. I looked up to see everybody staring at something a couple tables away. Yep, there was a former student, standing quietly at attention and saluting.

While visiting friends at the beach one summer, I took a moment to step out on the balcony of their condo to take in the view. At some point I glanced down, and there, standing in the surf and saluting, was a former student.

All these salutes in weird places were from former students who’d taken Option #3. The odd thing is, nobody ever yells first or anything. They just stand there quietly, waiting patiently for me to notice them. Odder still is the fact that other people notice them first. It’s often another person who points them out to me.

So, if you choose to attend my funeral someday (and I hope it’s a l-o-n-g way off), don’t be surprised if the occasional person stops at my casket, smiles, and gives me a short salute.

After all, they’re just fulfilling a promise.

Originally published on March 1st, 2013.

The following was sent to Vanderbilt students yesterday after “Massacre UMass” stickers were passed out for this week’s football game.fsdhhju

From: Micah Jeanine Parks [micah.j.parks@VANDERBILT.EDU]
Sent: Thursday, September 11, 2014 4:34 PM
To: VPBANNOUNCEMENTS@LIST.VANDERBILT.EDU
Subject: Vanderbilt vs. UMass Football Weekend

We would like to apologize for any offense that could have been caused by the “Massacre UMass” phrase used to promote the football game on Saturday against the University of Massachusetts. The phrase was not intended to insinuate anything violent or inconsiderate. The stickers will no longer be a part of this week’s promotion.

Is this what it’s come to? Really? We can’t use the word “massacre” anymore because we fear people may take it literally? Well, if we can’t use “massacre” I guess we can’t use the following:

Beat - Promotes domestic violence! Thanks Ray Rice!

Slaughter – Hurts cow’s feelings! Unacceptable!

Conquered – Hitler was a dictator! Inappropriate!

Crushed – Offensive to ice everywhere!

Good Lord. It’s a football game, people. Let’s get it together, America!

Not gonna lie. I’ve wanted to kill people who woke me up too early in the morning as well. I feel ya Gina Briggs, I feel ya.

18-points. That’s all you needed. Eight. Teen. Points. On a related note, this family is sort of annoying so it’s fun to watch.

More evidence that Shoe: Untied is the most eclectic site on the worldwide interweb.

An invasion is imminent.

Not sure I can call this a “fun” map, but still . . .

123b809

Touching.

Yessir.

ray-rice-cartoon

Cute video, but I was hoping the mother bear would come over and maul the narrator to death. That would have been stellar. Man, was he annoying.