Archive for June, 2014

So this website called Estately Blog did a study on the states and what words, phrases or untitledquestions they entered into search engines the most. The results were, well, somewhat revealing and, uh, weird. In the interest of science, art, and national safety I shall now peruse the list, pick my personal favorites, and offer my delightful and snarky insights.

Let us press onward alphabetically . . .

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Note: This happened back in the Summer of 2013. I have no way of knowing if the lady I talk about in the story was legit, but she sure seemed to be.

The following SparkyAlertstory happened a year or so ago, and I’m not really sure why I haven’t written about it before. Perhaps I was a little concerned about people’s reactions to it, I don’t know. Maybe I thought folks wouldn’t believe it, and I’m sure a some of you will think I’m a complete idiot after reading it. Ultimately? I don’t really care.

Like I said, a year or so ago I got a message on my website from a woman in California, Los Angeles to be exact. She had read all my stories about Sparky and was very interested in him. She informed me that her occupation required her to search for animals, in particular dogs, with a “high level of intelligence.” She said when she found a candidate she would take it for a few days, run it through a series of tests, and determine its intelligence level. If she found what she was looking for, she would offer to buy the dog and sell it to be used for things like bomb-sniffing, rescue operations, guiding the blind, and a lot of times even for TV and movies.

She said that from everything I’d written about Sparky, she suspected very strongly that he was exactly what she was looking for. She said she’d found hundreds of dogs over the years and he fit the description of what she needed perfectly. She then offered to fly me to California, and if her suspicions were correct, I could end up being offered as much as $50,000.00 for my dog.

Wow.

$50,000.00.

50 G’s.

50 Grand.

Man, could I use $50,000.00. Plus, I knew that once she met Spark she’d offer more if I bargained with her. Hey, I’d given Sparky those online dog intelligence tests and he always got a perfect score. Spark’s always been off the charts. I’m pretty sure that $50,000.00 was a sure thing.

Man, I had to give this a lot of thought, and I did.

If you consider around .3 seconds “a lot of thought.”

Because it wasn’t happening. No. Freaking. Way. I told her there was no price she could offer me that I would accept. Oh, she tried to convince me otherwise, but it soon became apparent to her that she was fighting a losing battle.

Because you can’t put a price on certain things. You know, like loyalty and unconditional love. Plus I could have never just handed him over and walked away in a million years. Couldn’t do it. Wouldn’t do it.

Ever.

After all, take a look at that photo at the top of this story. Could you simply take a check and walk away from that face? I couldn’t.

So attention all people searching for highly intelligent dogs – mine isn’t for sale.

At any price.

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There’s nothing funny about this story. Not a thing. It’s just a story about how I learned a lesson a long time ago, a lesson about listening when a student is trying to tell you something.

It was during one of my first few years as a teacher, and I had a kid named Mark who had been in and out of trouble his whole life. He’d had some scrapes with me a few times as well but I didn’t feel he was a bad kid, he just needed some direction and focus. Still, one day he sort of pushed me over the edge.

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Four years ago today I was visiting a friend in Kentucky when a little 20-pound, 4-legged
dynamo came into my life. It was the morning and I was in the backyard rubbing a horse on the nose when I first heard him. In the distance I heard a yapping, and it was getting closer by the second. I looked to my left and there he came, charging down a hill like a bat out of hell. He came to a fence but leaped through it without slowing down.

As he approached I thought he would surely leap up, take a bite out of my throat and kill me. But alas, I got down on my knees and he just ran up, rolled over, and let me rub his belly. Thus began a relationship that would change my life as I know it.

It was a week or so later that I got a call telling me that he had run into a bit of trouble, his family was looking for somebody to take him in, and they thought I might be interested.

After about 3-seconds of thought, I agreed to adopt the little dog named Sparky.

You probably need to know that I had gone through a break-up a few months earlier, and for the first time in a long time I was living by myself. To say that Sparky proceeded to fill a void is quite an understatement.

He soon became my constant companion, confidant, and best friend. He listened when I needed an understanding ear, he never left my side, and yes, he loved me unconditionally.

Sparky didn’t care about my hang-ups, inadequacies or shortcomings. He didn’t care that I was impatient or wasn’t a great listener.

He loved me just the way I am.

Sparky and I celebrate 4-years together today, and to be honest I don’t know what I’d do without him. I love that little dog more than anything, and that’s a fact.

He came along at exactly the right time, and he was exactly what I needed.

Happy Birthday Spark. I love you man.

WHAT THE HELL?

The Darvaza gas crater, known to locals as “Door to Hell” or “Gates of Hell” is located in the Karakum Desert of central Turkmenistan (about 150 miles from the nation’s capital).

der Also known as Derweze, the pit lures tourists and unsuspecting desert critters: “reportedly, from time to time local spiders are seen plunging into the pit by the thousands, lured to their deaths by the glowing flames.” Smithsonian Magazine has an awesome photo gallery.

As with much on our planet, turns out this site is a man-made hell:

The Derweze area is rich in natural gas. While drilling in 1971, Soviet geologists tapped into a cavern filled with natural gas.[1] The ground beneath the drilling rig collapsed, leaving a large hole with a diameter of 70 metres (230 ft) at 40°15′10″N 58°26′22″E. To avoid poisonous gas discharge, it was decided the best solution was to burn it off. Geologists had hoped the fire would use all the fuel in a matter of days, but the gas is still burning today. Locals have dubbed the cavern “The Door to Hell”.

 

Fascinating stuff.

So we lost today, right? 1-0? Didn’t play well? Yet I saw our coach and team celebrating as if we’d won the World Cup.

Listen, I get that we advance to the Round of 16 and all that, but celebrating after an ass-beating is something I can’t comprehend. Never will.

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Cover songs seem to strike some sort of maniacal chord in music lovers, bringing out the worst Cover-Songs-274x190type of venom directed at the artist in question (speaking of maniacal chords, Hendrix sure screeched out a few, huh? But I digress). Everyone has their own list of their best and worst cover songs, and I’m no exception. As general rule, aren’t the originals just always better? I mean, especially if the original performers wrote the song? C’mon, it’s THEIR song after all, and the way they perform it should be the way it should be heard. Those are my feelings anyway. Still, over the years there have been some great covers, songs that really stood out to me.  On the other hand, others were just a big bowl of wrong. I’ve added a ton of links so make sure you click on them, to not would just be disrespectful. Let’s start with the good covers:

Twist and Shout – The Beatles

“Twist and Shout” was originally recorded by the Topnotes and then covered by The Isley Brothers. But it was The Beatles who turned it into a thrilling crescendo that is still electric today. One of the first songs that got my head a-bobbin’.

Toys in the Attic – R.E.M.

Whoo boy, if you’ve never heard this early R.E.M. cover, download it now – you’re in for a treat. Michael Stipe’s screeching vocals and Peter Buck’s searing guitar make this one of the greatest covers ever. Sorry Aerosmith, I like R.E.M.’s version better.

Over the Rainbow – Eric Clapton

There are a million and one covers of this song, including the great version by Ray Charles, but none comes close to the slow, bluesy, 5:42 interpretation by Slowhand himself.  Mesmerizingly beautiful.

Boyz-n-the-Hood – Dynamite Hack

Just a great, whimsical, tongue-in-cheek cover of the Eazy E tune. Originally written by Ice Cube, this version was a jarring departure from the original. Just quality, poppy, yet off-beat  stuff.

Raspberry Beret – Hindu Love Gods

Never heard of HLG? Well, let me educate my young grasshoppers. They were a band that consisted of three R.E.M members – Peter Buck, Mike Mills, and Bill Berry. Stipe didn’t join in on this little side combo, but the boys recruited a pretty suitable replacement, a  cat by the name of Warren Zevon. Their Prince cover is priceless. Here’s a version with Warren on lead, minus the R.E.M. cats.

Word Up – Korn

Much apologies to Korn fans, but I loved this song. Coming from Korn, this Cameo cover was so far out of left field that nobody saw it coming. It just whopped you upside the head and kept going. Korn lovers hated it, but then again most Korn lovers are usually, shall we say, high a little unfocused. Oh, and take heed. The video link will haunt your dreams.

Hurt – Johnny Cash

I  know a few Nine Inch Nails fans who thought this was sacrilegious, but I found The Man in Black’s version to be hauntingly breathtaking.

Gloria – The  Doors

Originally done by Them with Van Morrison on vocals, The Doors did a rather naughty cover that was recorded live at The Whiskey back in the day.  The Lizard King does a little spoken word verse in the middle that will curl your toes, and by the time the group builds up the music into a crescendo at song’s end you’re plum tuckered out.

Ol’ 55 – The Eagles

Yeah, I know I mentioned this song in a previous blog. So what? Settle down. From their “On the Border” album, I always loved this interpretation of the song by the great Tom Waits. Great vocals by Glen Frey.

A couple of my Honorable Mention picks would be Metallica’s “Turn the Page” (the Bob Seger redo that seemed to piss off a lot of people) and ELO’s “Roll Over Beethoven” (one of the first songs that made me say “What the hell?” Beginning a rock song with  Beethoven’s 5th symphony will do that to a young guy). And oh, the Smashing Pumpkin’s did a bang-up cover of the great Cars tune, “You’re All I’ve Got Tonight.”

And now for the unpleasantness. For the love of God I don’t  know why some of these people thought that recording these songs was a good  idea. Some of the obvious are barely worthy of a mention, but I can’t write this without pointing out that Britney Spears’ version of “Satisfaction” and Celine Dion & Anastacia singing “You Shook Me (All Night Long)” were both absolute travesties and an affront to human dignity as we know it, not to mention that listeners became 30 IQ points dumber after hearing them. But let’s get to the  so-called “serious” artists that made the fateful decision that ultimately  brought them to this blog:

Layla (MTV Unplugged Version) – Eric  Clapton

Yeah, yeah, I know. It’s EC covering himself, he wrote the song, he’s a God, blah-freaking-blah. Well, Rock God’s make mistakes too. It’s still the worst damn remake of a song in recorded history. What happened to the soaring guitar, the inspired vocals, the neverending ending? All gone, replaced by a tepid sound that made me want to pound a screwdriver into my larynx (Note: I’m pretty sure that’s the first time the word larynx has been used in Shoe: Untied. Note #2: I’m awesome). Worst of all, I once played the original for a young Clapton fan and they didn’t recognize it. Sigh . . .

Behind Blue Eyes – Limp Bizkit

I swear to you upon all that is holy, when I first heard this song I wanted to reach into my radio and punch Fred Durst in the back of the face. I’ve no idea what that tool was thinking when he thought he could cover a Roger Daltrey vocal. Absolute sewage, and may Durst meet Mark David Chapman when they both end up in hell. Suck it Durst!

Sweet Child O’ Mine – Sheryl Crow

Sheryl,  honey, I love ya. I think Lance Armstrong’s an ass for dumping you. I think  you’re an underrated singer/songwriter who can just play the hell out of that guitar. But you can’t cover G N’ R darlin’. You just can’t. They’re kind of a heavy rock outfit, ya know? Not your style at all. You’re a bit of a balladeer, a gorgeous songbird with a rock chick vibe.

Sweet Dreams (Are Made of  This) – Marilyn Manson

Seriously? The original by The Eurythmics was a bit of a moody, hypnotic, breezy, DREAMY sort of song if you will. Marilyn‘s take? Not so much. No thank you, sir. Say hello to Durst and Chapman for me.

Anything by Rod Stewart

You know, I’m old enough to recall when Rod Stewart was cool. The Small Faces were a rock band baby! Later on, Maggie May was a great early 70’s tune that promised a bright future for ol’ Rod. Regrettably, sometime in the late 70’s he took a wrong turn into Discoland (see “Hot Legs” and “Do Ya Think I’m Sexy”) and the rest is history. Since then he’s become a hotel lounge singer, covering anything and everything in the Songbook of Saps. And badly I might add. He absolutely butchered Van Morrison’s “Have I Told You Lately” and now reminds  me of Bill Murray’s lounge lizard character on the old SNL. Pathetic, and if you don’t believe me listen to the georgeous original.

American Pie – Madonna

When I first heard this song I literally wept in a corner for 2 1/2 hours. Classic case of an artist’s ego becoming so big they think listeners will like anything they spew out of their piehole. More like American Shitcake if you ask me.

There  ya go. As soon as I publish this blog I’m sure 10-songs will pop into my head  that I forgot about. I’m sure you have some cover songs that you hate/like as well. If so let’s hear ‘em.

I’m out.

Originally published on April 13th, 2012.

Yep, you guessed it.

Something is not right here.

Gotta love Ron Swanson.

Kid is straight fire.

So what you are about to view is a story about a very dumb man named Nicholas Wig. Or Whig. Or Weig. Hell, I don’t know how to spell it and he probably doesn’t either. Anyhoo, old Nick here broke into a house to steal another man’s property, and before he left he thought he’d use the guy’s laptop to check out his Facebook account. Problem is, the dumbass forgot to log off. To top things off, he decided . . . oh, hell, just watch the video.

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So ESPN talking head/assclown/doofus Mike Tirico is covering the World Cup this summer. There are some great stories about Tirico in the book ESPN: The Uncensored History regarding Tirico and some of his incredibly inappropriate incidents with women. Highly recommended book. Anyway, he’s been yammering on about the biting incident yesterday (below), and he keeps saying the “alleged” biting or the “apparent” biting. Uh, Mike, dumbass. He bit the guy. We all saw it. It’s right there on camera. Quit trying to be so damn politically correct. You look like a clueless buffoon. On a related note, I can’t stand Mike Tirico.

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Tim “The Big Fundamental” Duncan, the San Antonio Spurs star and multiple-time league MVP and NBA Champion, has the chance timto exercise his contract’s early termination option. If he does he’ll be a free agent July 1!

What will he do? WHAT WILL HE DO?

I’m sure we’ll see him hold the Spurs hostage for months, meeting with teams around the league as they bow at his feet and offer him untold riches, hip-hop contracts, movie deals, strippers and troupes of dancing midgets.

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Gotta finish strong, kid. Gotta finish strong.

God bless little Theo.

Seriously, this guy’s gonna get an infection, then a fever. See what I did there?

logoSo I have a kid on my team who is affectionately known as T-Bag.

Don’t ask.

Anyway, we arrive at West Virginia Team Camp on Friday, we get registered at camp, and then I go and get all the guys checked into their hotel rooms. About an hour later my hotel phone rings, and I pick up.

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Day-um, that’s an ugly mutt.

784-F9ta3_Em_55

So a lot of you know I’m not a big car guy. I mean, I like cars and all but I know nothing about 27618306-640them. I could pop the hood and half the engine would be missing and I wouldn’t see anything wrong.

That said, when I buy a new vehicle I always go to the same dealership. I’ve bought my last few cars there, they know me, and they know not to bore me with a bunch of technical stuff. And by technical stuff I mean anything related to, you know, automobiles.

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Just a couple thoughts here. First off, that had to be one bad-ass beaver to drag a guy off a kayak and into the water, amirite? (more…)

Since my “15 Reasons I Hate LeBron James” blog is blowing up the internet, I thought I’d counter it with the anti-LeBron, Coach Gregg Popovich, also known as Coach Pop. Coach Pop has no time for the idiotic questions reports ask and has no problem letting them know this with his responses. Enjoy!

As you may already know, Shoe: Untied has blown up recently with tens of thousands of hits Comments-281x300from all over the world, in particular the Philippines. Most of the views have been on blogs I’ve written about Mr. LeBron James, or as he likes to all himself, “The King.” Or “The Chosen One.” Hey, he was chosen to be the first loser (2nd place) three out of the last five finals he’s been in, but let’s not get picky.

Anyway, I’ve had some awesome responses, so in case you haven’t seen them I thought I’d list some of my favorites. I’ll save my personal favorite for last:

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Cutting the TreeI began my career at Greenfield McClain teaching a Reading class to junior high students. I had a 7th grader named Tommy that was also on the junior high football team I coached at the time. Tommy came from a poor family, was a bit of a badass, and a helluva football player as well. Just as fearless and tough as they come but with a heart of gold. One day Tommy, to my surprise, walked into my class during lunch with tears in his eyes. Here’s the conversation that transpired:

Me: “What’s wrong man? You OK?”

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