Archive for the ‘Amazing and Interesting Stories’ Category

In the 1770s, the states of Pennsylvania and Virginia laid claims and established control over areas that form parts of today’s Virginia, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, and Maryland. These claims would have been sorted by the Mason-Dixon Line that demarcated Pennsylvania from Maryland, but the survey was abandoned in 1767. In 1776, inspired by the ongoing Revolutionary War and fearing a civil war between both states, citizens of the disputed region declared independence and renamed the region “The Province And Government of Westsylvania.” Thereafter, they petitioned Congress to admit them as the 14th state of the Union. Congress ignored the petition, and the two states settled their border dispute in 1780. True story that I bet you did not know.

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Back in my first stint as a high school coach we were playing a much larger school in a town 25-miles northwest of us. We were really good, they were really good, the place was packed, and it was a tight game throughout.

During the game I’d been up pacing back and forth as usual, and I was getting on the officials pretty good. That said, it wasn’t anything unusual. I’ve been way more emotional in other games.

Anyway, it was midway through the third quarter when something happened that I’d never experienced before and haven’t since. As I was walking from the end of our bench to midcourt, I felt a tap on my shoulder. I turned around, expecting one of my players or managers to be standing there. Instead, what I saw was a policeman, albeit a very short one. Yep, he was just standing there looking right up in my face. Keep in mind the game was in progress and I hadn’t even received a technical foul. 

My first thought was “Why are you here?” My second thought was, “Get the hell out of here.” However, what I did was turn and walked away, at which point he grabbed my shoulder, and when I turned around he said this:

You need to settle down and take a seat.”

Incredulous, I looked around but there was no Athletic Director or school administrator in sight.  Hell, the game hadn’t even stopped so the referees were busy.

I was left to deal with the little dude myself.

I said, “You shouldn’t be out here. The officials are in charge of the game. I’m not breaking any laws. Go away.”

To which he wittily replied, “Sit down. Now.” I swear this happened, but sadly I have no audio. I do, however, have video, and what it shows is that little Barney Fyffe has his hand on his gun.

 

Had I noticed that little detail  I may not have said this:

“You have two choices. You can turn around and walk away or arrest me, because I’m not sitting down. This is a damn basketball game.”

Somehow, someway, and may I also say incredibly given his attitude, he stared at me for a second, then turned and walked out of the gym. And although I half-expected to see him out of the corner of my eye busting back through the door with an Uzi, he stayed there.

Good times.

Note: Incredibly, when I was AD it happened again, this time to an opposing coach at my school. I swear I felt like I was having flashbacks. This time I was there to go explain to the cop that he was out of line and escorted him off the floor. Amazing.

Life·Hack

– a strategy or technique adopted in order to manage one’s time and daily activities in a more efficient way.

We’ve all read about life hacks, those helpful bits of advice aimed at making our lives easier. And although Life Hack is a fairly new term, the actual act of coming up with better ways of doing things is as old as man himself. Or herself. You get the gist.

Hell, as a Southern Ohioan I’ve seen cars with wooden bumpers, duct taped windshields and cooking smokers made from filing cabinets, so I can relate to redneck ingenuity as much as the next guy.

Anyway, this whole “life hack” thing reminded me of a guy I knew in college we called Muggs. Dude was always bending the rules, sometimes in minor ways, other times in major ways. I’ll give you three examples.

First off, the Muggs was cheap as hell. He was so tight that when he smiled his kneecaps moved. Anyway, he never tipped and would never pay for anything, including stamps. When sending a letter, he’d put the address he wanted the letter to go to as the return address, then put his address as the main address. Then he’d go uptown and drop his letter in the mailbox without a stamp, which would then be returned to the person in which he intended to receive it in the first place. Diabolical. Incredibly, it worked. Keep in mind the cost of a stamp was 13¢ back then. Good God.

As for me, I’d always been taught you shouldn’t mess with the federal government, so I didn’t.*

*If you don’t count the mailbox killing spree I went on in high school with my idiot friends. 

Another life hack Muggs’ wild imagination came up with was the in-car bar. Hear me out on this one, because it’s ingenious, wildly inappropriate and probably illegal. Muggs went to an auto parts store and bought a new windshield washer container for his car, the one that sits under the hood. He bought new tubes that take the cleaning fluid to the windshield as well. Then he installed the new container and redirected the tubes under the dash and through the air vents in his dashboard.

See where this is going yet?

Next, Muggs filled the container with whiskey, so whenever he wanted a drink he’d simply put a cup under the vent, hit the button that turns on the windshield wiper cleaner, and let the booze poor into his cup. If he got pulled over he just closed the vent. That’s wild, man. I remember that before he told us about this I always wondered why he had a cooler of ice in his front seat with nothing else in it.

Bottom line, Muggs was an evil genius. Hell, I’m pretty sure that’s so original there’s no law against it.

Muggs was also in a frat (pretty sure it wasn’t sanctioned or anything) that held a yearly raffle to raise money for “charity”, and by “charity” I mean a big end-of-the-year bash with a live band, booze and plenty of co-eds. Of course Muggs was in charge of the raffle. I remember guys selling chances to win a used car for $5, and they’d sell these tickets for months. Problem was, nobody ever saw anything other than a photo of the car, and every year the big winner was somebody’s uncle from Bardstown, Kentucky or somewhere. Every year at the party the winner would be announced by Muggs:

“And the winner is . . .  drumroll please . . .  Charlie Starkweather of Saluda, North Carolina! That’s my uncle! I’ll see that he gets his 1973 Lincoln Continental Town Car!”

I can’t say this with certainty but I’m pretty sure there was never a car and that the big raffle was 100% profit, minus the cost of buying the tickets.

Muggs, man. God knows how much he pocketed for himself.

As for me, I was taught my own little life hack a couple years ago when I tried to cancel a hotel room in a small coastal town at the last minute. Here’s my phone conversation:

“Hello, Blue Surf Hotel. Charlie speaking.”

“Hey Charlie. This is Dave Shoemaker. I made reservations for Thursday night but I need to cancel. Something’s come up.”

Note: I could have said I had an emergency but I never tempt fate, which may have then handed me an actual emergency just for spite. Fate can be a real bitch. Anyway . . .

“Sorry old buddy, but cancellations have to made 7-days in advance. I know it’s a pain in the butt but the owners here are really strict about it.”

It was apparent to me I was talking to an older gentleman, as he had a raspy, deep voice with a slow southern drawl. Dude sounded exactly like I’d expect Old Man River to sound. Anyhoo . . .

“Seven days? I just made reservations yesterday! That makes no sense.”

“I know, I know. They make no exceptions though. Very strict folks. I’m very sorry.”

At this point I’d just kissed $155.79 goodbye since they had my credit card number and all. But then . . .

“Why don’t you reschedule, old buddy? Maybe sometime in August?”

“Not sure why I’d do that, Charlie. I’ll be long gone by then. That would do me no good at all.”

“You sure? You could reschedule ya know.”

Now I’m a little exasperated.

“Charlie, don’t you get it? I won’t be anywhere near Ocracoke on August 15th. I don’t want to reschedule.”

“Well, I’d think about rescheduling anyway, for say, August 15th. Then if something comes up you could cancel. You know, as long as you did it at least 7-days in advance.”

Realization . . . slowly . . . sinks  . . . in. My skull is a little thick, ya know.

“You know, Charlie, that’s a good idea. I  think I will reschedule. Let’s say August 15th.”

And so I did. And I also cancelled on August 7th. Life hack, man. Thanks Charlie.

Have you heard of Juliane Koepcke? Because her story is absolutely mind-boggling.

Koepcke was a German Peruvian high school senior studying in Lima, intending to become a zoologist like her parents. On December 24th, 1971, the 17-year old and her mother, ornithologist Maria Koepcke, were traveling to meet with her father, biologist Hans-Wilhelm Koepcke, who was working in the city of Pucallpa. She had no idea what lie ahead.

The  commercial airliner she was in was struck by lightning during a severe thunderstorm and broke up, disintegrating at 10,000-feet in the freaking sky. Juliane spun toward the jungle and earth below still strapped into her seat row, which included 3-seats still attached together. She was in the middle row.

Miraculously, she survived the fall. She was seatbelted into her seat and thus somewhat shielded and cushioned, but it has also been theorized that the outer pair of seats on each side of her functioned like a parachute and slowed her fall. In addition, the impact may also have been lessened by thunderstorm updraft as well as the landing site’s thick rainforest foliage. So, the seat row, updraft and soft (relatively) landing saved her life.

Of the plane’s 92-passengers, all perished save for Juliane.

She passed out sometime after the plane broke apart, but she does remember spinning through the night sky and seeing the jungle hurtling towards her. When she woke up, she found that she had only a broken collarbone, a gash to her right arm, and a swollen shut right eye.

“I was definitely strapped in when I fell,” she said later. “It must have turned and buffered the crash, otherwise I wouldn’t have survived. After I landed my first thought was, ‘I just survived a plane crash.'”

Wearing only a sleeveless mini-dress and one shoe, she set out to make it back to civilization.

Her first priority was to find her mother who had been seated next to her, but her search was unsuccessful. She recalled that as the plane began breaking apart her mother had held her hand and said very calmly and simply:

“This is the end. It’s all over.”

She later found out her mother had initially survived the crash, but died from her injuries several days later.

For the next 9-days she wandered through the dense rainforest, and finally found a stream that she followed. Before she set off she’d found some sweets which were to become her only food. She waded through knee-high water downstream from the crash site, often relying on the survival principles her father had luckily taught her, one being that tracking downstream should eventually lead to civilization. The stream provided clean water and a natural path through the dense rainforest vegetation.

During the trip Juliane could not sleep at night because of insect bites, which eventually became infected. Finally, after the 9th day she found a boat moored near a shelter, and she utilized the boat’s fuel tank. Again relying on her father’s advice, Juliane poured gasoline on her wounds, which succeeded in removing thirty-five maggots from one arm. Tough chick, man.

At that point she waited for someone to return to the shelter or boat arrived. Amazingly, she didn’t take the boat. Her reasoning?

“I didn’t want to take the boat because I didn’t want to steal it.”

Yep, after surviving a 10,000-foot fall, breaking her collarbone, wandering through the jungle for 9-days on one shoe while being eaten alive by insects, Juliane Koepcke’s integrity was still intact.

Hours later, the Peruvian lumberjacks who used the shelter arrived and found her. At first they thought she was a water goddess but she explained what happened and they tended to her injuries and bug infestations. The next morning they took her via a seven-hour canoe ride down river to a lumber station. With the help of a local pilot, she was airlifted to a hospital in Pucallpa, where her astonished father awaited.

Incredible.

The crash and story of survival obviously took its toll, but considering what happened Juliane came out of the ordeal in great shape. In 2010, she said this:

“I had nightmares for a long time, for years, and of course the grief about my mother’s death and that of the other people came back again and again. The thought, ‘Why was I the only survivor?’ haunts me. It always will.”

Anyway, Juliane Koepcke? One badass lady.

 

Note 1: There’s a great story that was originally printed in the BBC News Magazine. Click here if you’re interested.

Note 2: Juliane also wrote a book entitled “When I Fell From the Sky.” I shall order it post-haste.

I’ll never forget the game. I was 19-years old. Bourneville, Ohio. June 4th, 1976. My parent’s basement. Suns at Celtics, 1976 NBA Finals, Game 5. Series tied 2-2. Triple overtime. Longest NBA game in history. Some of the most astounding, amazing, incredible moments ever witnessed on a basketball court. Referee Ritchie Powers attacked by a fan. The whole game is still vivid in my mind today, and it included a Garfield Heard shot that was later called “The Heard Shot Round the World.” I know, makes no sense but it doesn’t have to. Cool as hell. Basketball fans, do yourself a favor and watch the highlights. For you hardcore hoopsters, the entire game is on the second video. It’ll be the best 2-hours and 37-minutes you’ve spent in a long time, trust me.

But first, the highlights:

Here’s the entire game:

The following is a letter sent in 1869 from Robert E Lee to David McConuaghy, a civic leader in Gettysburg at the time who was working to get statues and monuments built honoring the battles.

Read that last line again:

“I think it wiser moreover not to keep open the sores of war, but to follow the examples of those nations who endeavored to obliterate the marks of civil strife & to commit to oblivion the feelings it engendered.”

In other words, why risk sparking those feelings of hatred again with monuments and statues? And here we are 148-years later, and the statues are doing exactly what Robert E. Lee said they’d do – igniting feelings from a long ago war.

Fascinating stuff.

Let’s begin with what may be the single greatest video on the internet right now. My comments follow . . .

First off, let’s get one thing out of the way. You can’t get much whiter than that dude, so he has to be happy about that. Secondly, you can’t be a white supremacist and wear your pants that low. You just can’t. That’s just copying the very folks you’re supposed to be supreme over. That’s lame, man. Bet he listens to Drake and Li’ Wayne too. Anyway, s-u-r-e it’s easy being a racist. You know, until you become separated from your fellow bigots and you’re being chased by some black guy with a stick. Then it gets real real fast, man. I mean, the little Eminem wannabe here couldn’t get that “uniform” off fast enough. But seriously, I had no idea the uniform of the white supremacists was a white polo and khakis. Not kidding, that’s the uniform. Isn’t that sort of lame? They look like the nerd that shows up to work on my laptop or something.

Anyway, bad look for the white supremacists, man. Guess their admission requirements are a little low?

PS- Can’t wait for the hate messages I’m sure to get from the Nazis. The over-under on grammar mistakes per message is 23.

Pure comedy.

 

If you haven’t heard this story it’s a must-read. It really makes you ask a lot of questions, trust me. Read on . . .

Unlike most identical twins, Jim Springer and Jim Lewis share a first name instead of a last. You see, the two were separated at birth and were adopted by separate families who, by coincidence, named their sons James.

And so began their parallel lives. Springer and Lewis shared not only a first name, but amazing as it may sound they shared more or less the same life, independent of one another, until their reunion 39-years after the initial separation.

Growing up in different homes, both were aware that they had a twin brother. Springer’s mother told him his twin had died, while Lewis had been told of his sibling but simply wasn’t interested in meeting him.

In 1977, that changed. It happened when Lewis, then 37, decided to track down his brother. He found Springer’s name through a local courthouse, and eventually the two of them spoke over the phone. They agreed to meet, and they did on February 9th, 1979.

Once they got to talking, they were stunned to learn about the unbelievable, shocking similarities between them. Believe it or not, the following is true . . .

  • Both were adopted by families living in Ohio and grew up within only 45-miles of each other.
  • Both had childhood dogs they named “Toy.”
  • Both were married twice — first to women named Linda, and then to women named Betty.
  • Both had children — including sons named James Allen.
  • Both lived in the only house on their block.
  • Both were chain-smokers, enjoyed beer, and had woodworking shops in their garages.
  • Both drove Chevrolets.
  • Both served as sheriffs in their separate Ohio counties.

The Jim twins, as they’re now called, were perfect candidates for behavioral research. They were tested, and in one test measuring personality, the twins’ scores were so close that it may well have been the same person taking the test both times. Their brain-wave tests were similarly near-identical, as were their medical histories.

Unbelievable really.

It’s hard to believe that two men, growing up separately, could end up so very much alike. Thoughts anyone?

A fisherman was horrified to return to his car to find a swarm of millions of mosquitoes “having a party” inside. The revolting footage shows the Russian man’s car completely full with the blood-sucking insects.  He had regrettably left the window open when he and friends went on a fishing trip. 

It is likely that the mosquitoes decided to commandeer the vehicle because they are attracted to the carbon dioxide exhaled by humans, and with the windows left wide open, the scent of a potential meal evidently proved to much of a temptation for millions of the insects.

Big animal guy here but dang THAT’S A MILLION MOSQUITOES MAN! Doesn’t this signify the end of times or something? Or is that locusts? You pretty much have to set that car on fire at this point, amirite? Mosquitoes for days in there. There’s something really disgusting about writhing piles of those bugs. Yikes. Guess we should keep our car windows up at night in the summer?

Once upon a time in the not-so-distant past a girl I was dating asked me to hold on to some cash for her. She did this because she didn’t want to spend it. Seems she’d sold something, collected $500, and handed me the money for safekeeping. I know, sorta weird but I totally understood so I said sure.

However, I had to make a decision – where do I put the dough? I mean, it wasn’t a fortune or anything but $500 is $500, you know? And I didn’t want to put it in my wallet or anything for fear of spending it myself. S-o-o-o, for some reason, and I know not why, I stuck it into a pair of old basketball shoes on my closet. I rarely wore this particular pair and they were old so I thought if on the rare chance I was robbed one night those 1998 Air Max’s would be the last thing somebody would pilfer. To be safe I told the girl where the cash was stashed, in case I forgot where I put it.

Good a plan as any, huh?

Uh, not so fast. If only my life rolled along that smoothly.

Fast forward a few months to, oh, around 3:00am one dark and stormy Tuesday morning. Seriously, it was stormy. To this day I know not why I sat bolt upright as a sheen of cold sweat enveloped me, but damned if that’s not exactly what happened.

For some reason, out of the blue, a grim realization hit me.

I’d cleaned my house on Saturday and taken several garbage bags of clothes to one of those little Goodwill donation bins in Chillicothe, and one bag included a certain pair of 1998 Nike Air Max shoes.

Damn. It.

After I shook off the shock (I’ve never figured out what made me wake up with that memory), I leaped out of bed, got dressed and did the only possible thing I could think of doing – headed to a certain Goodwill donation bin that was 12-miles away.

Somehow, I had the presence of mind to grab a 9-iron out of my golf bag on the way out the backdoor, along with a flashlight.

This particular Goodwill bin was in the parking lot at Kroger, out near a pretty busy road, although not so much at 3:30 in the morning. Anyway, I get there, park, get out my trusty 9-iron, and go to work.

The bin had a little door that was hinged at the top. It was rather high, and I suspect they’re built that way to keep people from reaching in and grabbing whatever the hell they want, which to any passer-by would appear to be exactly what I was doing at the time.

When the occasional car rolled by I would sort of stand there attempting to look casual, which coincidentally was impossible. At one point a police car actually came driving slowly by, and I expected the worst, although I’d already planned to simply tell the truth. After all, who could make up such a story? Hey, hopefully the cop and I would have a good laugh about the poor dumbass who’d thrown away $500.

Hopefully.

Lucky for me he didn’t see me, and after looking both ways I began my search in earnest. With the little door propped on my head, my flashlight in my left hand and the 9-iron in my right, I began digging through probably 30-trash bags full of clothes and whatnot. I knew I’d used white trash bags, so that narrowed my search somewhat. However, I had no idea how often they emptied the bins or how quickly they filled up. Was my stuff even in there?

I was pretty sure I’d thrown 5-bags in, and if I found one I was pretty sure I’d find them all. Finally, after about 30-minutes (ish) of digging around, I struck gold . . .

Boom! After feeling around for anything shoe-like in what seemed like a million bags, I found the bag containing my shoes. I carefully opened it, pulled the shoes out, and reached inside.

Nothing.

OK, the loot must have fallen out. It had to be inside the bag. HAD to be. One by one I took out every item in the bag. I looked in pant legs, pockets, shirt sleeves, I even turned the bag inside out.

Nada.

Long story short, after much digging, sweating and pulling I soon had every damn bag I’d put in the bin sitting on the Kroger parking lot. Hell, at one point I had leaned in so far that my legs were sticking straight out of the little window. How nobody saw me and reported me is beyond me. I even ended throwing the whole mess in the back of my Jeep to bring home and inspect in the light of day. Before I left I even shoved the remaining bags around the floor of the damn bin, thinking that maybe the bills were somewhere on the floor.

Alas, they were not. No $500. All I could think of was that some lucky shopper (or Goodwill employee) was going to be one happy camper one day very soon.

So, probably 2-hours later I was back home, sweaty, dejected and disappointed at my failure to rescue the $500 from the clutches of Goodwill Industries International. All I could do was make a call to them tomorrow, explain my pathetic situation, and hope for a miracle.

But first, there was the not-so-small matter of explaining to the owner of the $500 that it was, indeed, gone. Sure, I’d pay her back since I was the moron who lost it, but I was not looking forward to the conversation the following morning at all. Let me see if I can recite the conversation that ensued in its entirety:

“Hello?”

“Hey, remember that money you asked me to hold for safekeeping a few months ago?”

“Yes.”

“W-e-l-l, I sort of lost it. And by ‘sort of’ I mean I lost it. I took the shoes it was in, along with a bunch of clothes, to Goodwill on Saturday. I spent a couple hours last night looking for it, but I’m sorry. It’s gone.”

Then, as I readied myself for the onslaught that was to come, came the reply:

“That’s because I needed it and took it out a few weeks ago.”

Son. Of. A. Bitch.

 

PS- Yes, I thought about calling to first to see if she had it, but it was, you know, the middle of the damn night. Plus I’m an idiot, so there’s that. 

Everyone knows the story of how Quincy Jones produced this song, which was written by Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie, and how everyone got together after the American Music Awards to record it. It’s pretty incredible how this many major artists were talked into getting into one studio for a single recording. Michael Jackson, Lionel Richie, Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, Ray Charles, Stevie Wonder, Billy Joel, Cyndi Lauper (who just may have stole the show), Daryl Hall, Steve Perry, Paul Simon, Tina Turner, Willie Nelson, Kenny Loggins, and many more all in one room. Crazy stuff, and I can’t imagine it happening today. Also, watching it again, it’s striking how absolutely stunning many of the vocals sound. The variation is styles, how it all somehow blended together, it was really a once in a lifetime occurrence. Anyway, here’s an encore . . .

So a friend of mine from the Eastern Seaboard told me an amazing story recently about an amusement park in New Jersey that was open from 1978 to 1996. It was called Action Park, and to say this place was dangerous would be an understatement of the highest order. 6-people died at the park in 18-years, and average of 1 every 3 years, and the injuries were in the hundreds if not thousands.

The park is legendary amongst Jersey folk, and people like my friend are proud to say they survived it. In researching the park I came across this quote from a man who attended as a kid:

It was almost like our Vietnam. It was like another step in the quest to manhood. Guys would come back and they’d just have these stories of terror. One kid I knew had a broken ankle — he was on a ride that caught on fire and he had to jump off.”

Good God.

This hellhole was also known as, among other things, “Traction Park” “Accident Park” and “Class Action Park,” and you’ll soon see why. What follows are real stories and tidbits regarding the Death Trap known as Action Park:

In 1979 Action Park opened one of the first wave pools in the country. On its first day open it was estimated over 100 swimmers had to be rescued from the wave pool. Park officials attributed this to a lack of experience in the pool by park goers, because of course they did. A staff of 12 Red Cross certified lifeguards were on duty at all times, and numbers as high as 30 saves per lifeguard per day were recorded. Tragically there were 3 confirmed deaths in the wave pool.

In 1985 the park opened a slide called The Cannonball Loop. Take a look at this monster:

Kid looked like he was going about 80-mph.

 

Remember that this is a slippery slide, not a coaster. Kids went through this without safety gear. Sweet Jesus that looks dangerous. Also fun. And get this – during testing of the Cannonball Loop dummies were sent down and they were decapitated. The attraction was adjusted until the dummies came through with heads intact and then park employees were offered $100 to test it out themselves. Thankfully, no one died on this monstrosity but some people did become stuck. Before it was finally closed for good a trap door was installed into the loop to retrieve riders that became stuck in the top of the loop. The first summer it opened it had 110 reported injuries, including 30-fractures and 45-head injuries. Good times!

At one point they opened up a skate park in Action Park. It was open for only one summer season before they deemed it too dangerous and it was shut down. They were so scared that people would use it after hours that they plowed over it with dirt and set up a picnic area on top of it. Dangerous indeed.

The infamous Cliff Dive was very cold, and also very deep. Legend has it that the bottom of the 40-foot pool had to be repainted white one summer because lifeguards were unable to see drowning swimmers against the black floor. Insanity, man. Check it out:

It’s a fact that 911 calls were so frequent at Action Park (an estimated 5-10 trips per day) that the owner of the park purchased additional ambulances for the township of Vernon, NJ. Hey, that’s a civic-minded man right there.

Shockingly but not really, Action Park had some difficulty in retaining their insurers. Since they could not legally operate without insurance they set up their own fake company in the Cayman Islands. Owner Eugene Mulvihill pleaded guilty to setting up the company, copped a plea, got 3-years probation, and paid $300,000 in fines. He was supposed to sell the resort but, incredibly, he never did.

One of the biggest problems at Action Park was its employees. Legally you needed to be 16-years old to operate a ride in New Jersey, which already seems a tad young. However, Action Park had many employees as young as 14-years old. That’s not the most amazing fact I read though – it seems it was not uncommon for operators of all ages to be on duty with cans of beer in their hands. What could possibly go wrong, man?

Employees would often use park attractions after hours, and believe it or not they didn’t always operate them properly. One thing they would do was shove tennis balls into the speed governors of the cars at their Motorworld Speedway, a section of Action Park. The governors were designed to limit the speed of the vehicle to 20-mph, but after the tampering they could reach speeds as high as 50-mph. Of course, sometimes they’d forget (or not) and leave the tennis balls in, then sit back and watch the hilarity that ensued as an 8-year old kid drove a miniature car 50-mph around a little track. Oh, and by the way, without a helmet.

Helmets schmelmets.

One of the parks biggest and most dangerous attractions was the notorious Alpine Slide. The slide was a sloped and swerving cart ride. The track was built out of fiber glass, and riders would roll down in flimsy carts with no protection, using a defective handbrake as their only means of control. Riders would often get scrapes and burns on the fiberglass. In fact, friction burns were so common that paramedics would be waiting at the bottom of the slide. And burns were not the only danger – despite the crack team of underage and possibly drunk park employees manning the ride, slow riders were often in danger of being rammed from behind by the next set of riders. Unsurprisingly, Action Park’s first recorded death occurred when an after hours park employee flew off of the Alpine Slide and hit his head on a rock, killing him instantly.

Weee! Uh-oh.

One of the reasons Action Park stayed open was because they actually had an on-site infirmary. Unless you had a broken bone you wouldn’t go to the hospital and your injuries wouldn’t be reported. That’s either ingenious or insane, but probably a combination of both.

Here’s a good tidbit. In 1982, owner Mulvihill told a New Jersey newspaper that his park is “gonna be better than Disney World!” That same year a 15-year-old drowned in the Wave Pool and a week later a 27-year-old was electrocuted on a ride called the Kayak Experience. True story.

What can I say, man? We were tougher back then I guess? Seriously, I talk about the Wussification of America more than anyone but Good God this place was wild, insane and all sorts of crazy.

In other words, just the kind of place my friends and I would’ve loved.

Months before the United States dropped an Atomic Bomb called “Little Boy” on Hiroshima, Japan, they knew they had a weapon that was more powerful than the world could possibly comprehend. Having an idea of how destructive the bomb would be, the US military dropped leaflets over the city 5-days prior to the bombing as a warning of sorts.  Here’s what a citizen of Hiroshima would have read if he’d bent over to pick up one of these flyers, or perhaps grabbed it as it fluttered from the sky. It was printed in Japanese:

Civilians! Evacuate at once! These leaflets are being dropped to notify you that your city has been listed for destruction by our powerful air force. The bombing will begin within 72-hours. This advance notice will give your military authorities ample time to take necessary defensive measures to protect you from our inevitable attack. Watch and see how powerless they are to protect you. Systematic destruction of city after city will continue as long as you continue to blindly follow your military leaders whose blunders have placed you on the very brink of oblivion. It is your responsibility to overthrow the military government NOW and save what is left of your beautiful country. In the meanwhile, we encourage all civilians to evacuate at once.

Knowing what we know now, a pretty clear warning. Definitely some subtle hints there. “Systematic destruction” and “brink of oblivion” sort of lays it out there. Still, the Japanese had no real way of knowing what type of hell would soon rain down on them.

In addition, one week prior to these leaflets being dropped, President Harry Truman had issued a simple but chilling warning that if Japan did not surrender immediately, it would face “prompt and utter destruction.”

He wasn’t bluffing.

On August 6th, 1945, that’s exactly what happened. Little Boy exploded above Hiroshima, sending out a white flash of light 10-times brighter than the sun. The surrounding air ignited and the sky erupted into a fireball 300-yards wide. The heat on the ground directly below the explosion (it detonated nearly 2,000-feet above ground) reached 6,000 degrees.

Thousands of men, women and children within a 1/2 mile radius were instantly reduced to lumps of charcoal. Then came a shockwave as the blast rolled outward with the force of 16,000 tons of TNT at a speed of 2-miles per second, followed by a cloud rising 50,000 feet into the air, sucking up with it the vaporized remains of possibly 70,000 people.

Nearly every human and building within a 1-mile radius of the explosion simply vanished. Beyond this, burns maimed and disfigured thousands, many who lived miles away.

Not to mention the radiation that would kill people for months and years to come.

So yeah, bad. Nightmarishly bad. Those who stayed simply didn’t heed the warning, for whatever reason. Nobody, outside of a select few, really knew how powerful this new weapon would be, nor could they have possibly imagined. But they were warned, even if they couldn’t comprehend the warning.

Historians still debate whether the use of the bomb was the correct decision, although most agree that it was. Most presidents since then have supported the act and have agreed that tens of thousands of American servicemen’s lives were saved because of it. The bombing of Hiroshima, and a few days later Nagasaki, prevented an invasion of Japan that would have been long and deadly.

Still, over 70-years later, the effects linger and the results of the weapon are still difficult to comprehend. And remember this – today’s bombs are thousands of times more powerful than the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945.

Here’s a pretty good re-enactment of the dropping of the bomb:

 

 

“Bring it on, bacon boy.”

Al.com– Hogs aren’t unusual in rural south Alabama, but Wade Seago said he’d never seen anything like the 820-pound animal he shot and killed in his front yard.

Seago told al.com that he and his daughter spotted the massive hog in their yard in Samson last week after the family’s pet schnauzer Cruiser started barking.

“Cruiser had this huge hog confused with all of the barking and movement,” Wade said.

So the man got his .38-caliber handgun and took aim. It took three shots to drop the hog, Seago said, and he later weighed it on scales at a peanut company.

Seago told NBC4 he didn’t fear for his life during the confrontation.

“I was watching out for the dog. I knew that I wasn’t going to allow a hog that size to hang around,” Seago said. “He didn’t rush me, but I didn’t really give him time.”

Who the hell do you think you’re fooling, Wade Seago? You clearly inserted yourself into a situation where you weren’t needed, son. It’s obvious to me that Cruiser the Schnauzer had this thing under control from the get-go. Shoulda let your loyal best friend handle the situation from the safety of your back porch. Cruiser woulda sent that porker to Louisiana in a heartbeat if you’d have minded your own damn business. Instead, now you’re the big hero and Cruiser is a pint-sized victim, for God’s sake, all so you can have a hog head on your wall. Pathetic, man.

PS- Nothing says rural Alabama like killing an 820-lb hog with a handgun and weighing it at the local peanut company.

There are few things I like to do more than watch a live rock concert. Something about the energy, the whole vibe, just seeing someone performing music you love up close and in person is amazing.

I’ve been to hundreds of concerts in my life, and I’ve witnessed some crazy stuff. It’s always a special treat when things go off the rails a little though, ya know?

Without further ado, here’s some of the weirdest stuff I’ve seen at live shows . . .

Westerberg, man.

About 10-years ago I went to see Paul Westerberg at The Newport in Columbus, and it was a helluva show. The former front man for the legendary Replacements was outstanding, man. so much so that a friend of mine said this after the show:

“That’s the first time I ever felt like I was watching a real rock star.”

Amen, brother. Anyway, Westerberg was all over the stage, even laying on his back at one point as he played guitar, and performed all the good stuff as well as some offbeat covers such as “If I Had a Hammer” and “Daydream Believer”. But on to my point. About halfway through the show Westerberg was having some sort of trouble with his guitar strap and stopped to fix it. A roadie walked onstage to try and help, and Paul became unhinged. He turned and screamed, “Get the FU@K away from me!” The poor dude then sort of shuffled backwards off the stage, the venue got deathly quiet for a few seconds, and the Westerberg went back to the song as if nothing happened. Weird moment.

Dude loves his tambourine.

A couple years ago I was at a Gin Blossoms show in Columbus, and lead singer Robin Wilson handed his tambourine to a woman in the front row. I’d seen these guys a couple times before and knew it was part of the shtick, that the audience member would play it for awhile and hand it back to Wilson. This time, however, the idiot lady took it and vamoosed. As the band watched incredulously, Wilson finished the song and then lit into the tambourine thief, screaming something along the lines of, “You f**cking b**tch! Bring back my f**cking tambourine!” Dude was livid, man. Must have been his special tambourine or something. I mean, I know the Blossoms are 20-years passed their heyday but I figured they could afford more than one tambourine.

Note: I looked it up. They can cost up to $200 and more. Yikes.

Note 2: Who can’t play a tambourine? I mean really? I’d kill on a tambourine. Hell, I may buy a tambourine and join a band.

Back in the late 90s I went to see Dan Fogelberg. Yes, I liked Fogelberg. I’ve seen him a few times. So shoot me. Soft Rock never hurt anyone. Don’t judge, people. Besides, he’s dead now so you’re just being mean. Anyhoo, the opening band had finished and Fogelberg walked out to thunderous applause. He sat down at the piano, played a few notes, then slammed his hands on the keys and scared the bejesus out of everyone. Then got up and stormed off the stage. As we sat there in stunned silence, some poor roadie walked sheepishly out on the stage, played a few notes as he tuned (or retuned) the piano, then got up and walked/crawled/slithered back from whence he came. Then ol’ Dan came back out like nothing had happened and without  word of apology sat down and proceeded to play a blistering version of “Leader of the Band”, except not really because it’s a slow ballad. Anyway, surreal moment.

E.

I’ve seen The Eels several times, and lead singer Mark Oliver Everett is always a laid back guy. He interacts with the audience but he’s always really light-hearted and funny. However, even The Man Called E can be pushed over the edge. Well, sort of. A few years ago some jackass kept yelling at the top of his lungs during an Eels show. I mean this was going on during songs, during E’s talking and during quiet intervals. Finally, E had enough. He looked up to where the guy was in the balcony, took a deep breath, and said calmly, “Hey Screamy. If you don’t shut the hell up I’ve having you thrown the f**ck out of here.” Crowd roars, Screamy shuts up, problem solved.

Back around 1979 I watched Aerosmith in the Fairgrounds Coliseum in Columbus, Ohio. This was the infamous show where I ended up backstage on a couch with Steven Tyler and Joe Perry. Oh, and photos were taken, but that’s neither here nor there. Anyway, during that show I distinctly recall Steven and Joe nearly brawling onstage. No idea what caused it, but at one point I was fairly certain Perry was going to beat Tyler over the head with his 1960 Gibson Les Paul geetar. Good times.

At some point a bit before The Who tragedy at Riverfront Coliseum (my dates are a little fuzzy) I saw Led Zeppelin there. The whole festival seating/general admission thing was obviously in place, and it was pretty ugly. We got there real early, around 2:00 PM in order to get in line. The coliseum’s policy at the time was to open just 4 doors at around 6:30 PM (again, hazy) for the 8:00 show. We were right up front, and a little after 5:00 PM things began to get ugly. Remember, 4-doors for 12,000 people. Idiocy. People in the back began pressing forward and those of us in front were getting crushed against the doors. Guys were begging the security inside to open up, but they weren’t listening. A police chopper suddenly appeared and began hovering about 30-feet up, and a guy with a bullhorn was telling people to back up. Nobody was having it, and at one point I remember a beer bottle being thrown at the chopper and shattering off its side. By this time I was seriously in fear of not making it out of there. My arms were pressed against my sides so tightly that I couldn’t raise them. Occasionally my feet would rise off the ground and I’d have to completely go wherever the crowd took me. Scary stuff for sure. The worst part was when the crowd would start to lean and you feared getting crushed. It was hard to breathe and several people passed out but obviously didn’t fall down. Surreal as hell. Finally, an ignorant security guard did a dumb but ultimately good thing – he cracked a door open, ostensibly to tell somebody when the gates would open. At that point the door was ripped open and the crowd poured in. Glass was flying everywhere, and as I was being pushed through a guard reached out and ripped a flask from my neck, nearly slashing my throat. No tickets were taken and chaos ensued. After I got away from the rushing crowd, I sought out a cop and yelled, “If these people don’t start opening more doors somebody’s going to get killed here!” A prophetic statement, unfortunately. When the news came down months later that 11-people were killed at The Who show, I wasn’t surprised. I knew exactly what had taken place. Oh, and by the way, I scored a front row spot. Hey, it was Zep.

Speaking of that Who concert, yes, I had tickets. I know, I know, probably a million people claim they had tickets, but I did. Tom, Andy and I were on our way to Cincinnati, decided at the last minute to go to a party in Columbus, and the rest is history.

I once attended the “Frampton Comes Alive” tour,  a huge outdoor show in Florida. There were several bands before Frampton, and one of them was Kansas, of “Dust in the Wind” fame. They came out and it was clear from the get-go they were tanked. Just smashed, drunk and/or high as hell. Midway through song two they just turned and walked off the stage. The crowd basically rioted until something pretty cool happened. Rick Derringer, who had played a short set earlier, returned to the stage and started playing. Slowly the crowd got into it and eventually he was actually playing requests. That’s a true pro right there, and he saved everyone from a potentially nasty situation. When Frampton finally came out he thanked Derringer profusely and even called him back out for an encore. I’ll always have fond memories of Rick Derringer because of that day.

You see, rock shows, as in life, don’t always unfold as you might expect them to. And that what makes it fun, right?

Perhaps some of you know of Colonel Robert Gould Shaw, who fought for the Union Army during the Civil War. Shaw was born into a prominent abolitionist family, and because of his beliefs he accepted command of the first all-black Union regiment, the 54th Massachusetts. He actually encouraged his men to refuse their pay until it was equal to the white troops’ wage. Sadly, at the Second Battle of Fort Wagner, a beachhead near Charleston, South Carolina, Shaw was killed while leading his men to the parapet of the enemy fort. Although they were overwhelmed and driven back, Shaw’s leadership, as well as the performance of his men, passed into legend and inspired tens of thousands of African-Americans to enlist for the Union and contribute to ultimate victory for the North. Incredibly, before this battle near Charleston most people had serious doubts regarding how blacks would perform under fire.

Anyway, I just finished a book about the Civil War, it told Colonel Shaw’s story in detail, and one part really stood out to me. It seems that after Colonel Shaw’s death, Confederate commander Johnson Hagood not only refused to return Shaw’s body to the North, he ordered it thrown into a mass grave. Hagood’s statement?

We have buried him with the n—–s.

That racist statement actually became a rallying cry for Union troops, and rather than be offended, Shaw’s parents said the following:

“We would not have his body removed from where it lies surrounded by his brave and devoted soldiers. We can imagine no holier place than that in which he lies, among his brave and devoted followers, nor wish for him better company. What a bodyguard he has!”

Awesome.

Note: On a related note, you may have learned about Colonel Shaw in the movie Glory, starring Matthew Broderick. Great movie, but it doesn’t mention Colonel Shaw’s burial or his family’s reaction to it.

You all know actor Bill Paxton, right? Just died in February? He was in movies like Titanic, Apollo 13 and Twister. Anyway, in one of life’s odd little happenstances, when Bill Paxton was 8-years old he was 20-feet from President John F. Kennedy just 4-hours before he was assassinated. It seems Paxton’s dad took him and his brother to see the president that fateful morning (and the night before as you can hear in the video below) and a photograph was taken. This is that photograph. Amazing, really. Damn, I love these weird little stories.

Bill’s the little guy on somebody’s shoulders. Yep, that looks like him alright.

lllllllllll

A vet from Hocking Hills Animal Clinic was recently pleasantly reminded why being a veterinarian is awesome. As she was walking in the forest, the woman was suddenly and unexpectedly reunited with an old patient – a turtle.

She posted a photo of the turtle with a peculiar shell and added the following caption:

Several years ago, a client brought me a box turtle that had been hit by a car. I used fiberglass to repair his broken shell and then released him in my woods. Recently, while walking on my hillside, I spotted an odd pattern in the leaves. To my amazement, there was my old patient with the fiberglass still on years later! Sometimes, being a vet is the best thing there is.”

Veterinarians ask people to be aware that if they see a turtle with a cracked shell, it’s best if they seek their assistance. In this case, it seems that the turtle was fully grown, so it was OK to leave it with the fiberglass. But if the turtle is still growing, it’s best to change its cast and apply a new one from time to time. Here’s the post:

Along the wild Pacific coast of British Columbia there lives a population of Sea Wolves. Scientists know from exhaustive DNA studies that these wolves are genetically distinct from their relatives. They are behaviourally distinct, swimming from island to island and preying on sea animals. They are also morphologically distinct — they are smaller in size and physically different from their mainland cousins.

Incredibly, 90% of their food comes directly from the ocean, with 25% of it coming from eating salmon. Hey, in addition to being amazing they have good taste! Another cool fact is that these Sea Wolves are excellent swimmers and have been observed swimming as far as 7.5 miles from island to island.

British Columbia has a relatively low human population, so these Sea Wolves enjoy an isolated wilderness – an area of 21-million acres. There are 25 native species of conifers and grizzly bears, black bears and spirit bears living there as well.*

*Spirit Bears? Cool name. I searched that one up on The Goggle and it turns out Spirit Bears are a rare subspecies of Black Bear, 10% of which are white. Nature, man.

However, here’s the bad news. Sea Wolves are being threatened on all sides by hunting, trapping and industry. Road building and clear cut logging have been harmful to the wolves, not only destroying the forests they live in but making it easier for hunters to gain access to hunt them. Who the hell would want to kill an animal that has adapted and worked so hard to survive? Humans suck, man.

Anyway, Sea Wolves are a real thing, and I had no idea. Just cool as hell. Check ’em out by clicking the gallery below and rolling through the photos.

McMillan TAC-50

A Canadian sniper set what appears to be a record, picking off an ISIS fighter from some 2.2 miles away, and disrupting a potentially deadly operation by the terror group in Iraq.

Shooting experts say the fatal shot at a world-record distance of 11,316 feet underscores how stunningly sophisticated military snipers are becoming. The feat, pulled off by a special forces sniper from Canada’s Joint Task Force 2, smashed the previous distance record for successful sniper shots by some 3,280 feet, a record set by a British sniper.

“The Canadian Special Operations Command can confirm that a member of the Joint Task Force 2 successfully hit a target from 3,540 metres [2.2 miles],” the Canadian military said in a statement.

The new record was set using a McMillan TAC-50, a .50-caliber weapon and the largest shoulder-fired firearm in existence.

The sniper’s spotter would have had to successfully calculate five factors: distance, wind, atmospheric conditions and the speed of the earth’s rotation at their latitude. To get the atmospheric conditions just right, he would have had to understand the temperature, humidity and barometric pressure of the air the round had to travel through.

Are you f**king kidding me? I’m pretty sure the only record I hold is fitting 47 Cheez-Its into my mouth at once, and this dude is taking out ISIS assholes from 2.2 miles after considering distance, wind, atmospheric conditions, the speed of the earth’s rotation and the barometric pressure of the air the round had to travel through? Good God, man. That’s intense. Terrorist was probably sitting there eating some hummus and boom, life over. Well done, Canadian sniper. Well done indeed.

Listen, there are cool guys and then there are really cool guys, and when you can jet over, flip a capsized catamaran back to level and follow that with a couple 20-foot high backflips while standing on high-powered jets of water then you are a really cool guy. Kudos, Jet Boarder. Kudos.

Note: Ever type a word and swear you misspelled it? I did that with capsize. Had to search it up on the Goggle to be sure. Still looks wrong to me.

A fisherman has lived to tell the tale of how he ended up with a Great White Shark in the bottom of his boat.

Terry Selwood, 73, was fishing offshore at Evans Head on the New South Wales north coast when the shark launched itself into his boat.

“I caught a blur of something coming over the boat, and the pectoral fin of the shark hit me on the forearm and knocked me down on the ground to my hands and knees,” Mr Selwood said. “He came right over the top of the motor and then dropped onto the floor. There I was on all fours and he’s looking at me and I’m looking at him and then he started to do the dance around and shake and I couldn’t get away quick enough,” Mr Selwood said. “I was losing a fair amount of blood, I was stunned, I couldn’t register what happened and then I thought oh my God, I’ve got to get out of here.”

For such a close brush with a shark, Mr. Selwood came off relatively lightly. He was taken to hospital and treated for his injuries.

Despite his close encounter, Mr. Selwood said he was desperate to get back out to wet a line.

“It won’t deter me from fishing, no way in the world,” he said.

Terry Selwood, man. Dude was on all fours, looking a shark in the eye who had just leaped into his boat, and only then did it occur to him to get the hell out of there. Seriously though, we’re not safe in boats anymore? That was the safe refuge, man. Now the sharks are coming right into the boats like Jaws? Sweet Jesus. What’s next, Land Sharks?

 

 

So I ran across this nugget in a book I was reading the other day and found it quite fascinating. It seems that about 2,500 years ago some dude named Hanno the Navigator (cool name, man) became one of the first Europeans to see a band of gorillas. He had been sent off to explore Africa and had gotten used to bumping into strange and exotic tribes. Weird looking folks if you will.

So, when he found an island full of gorillas he figured that they were simply the weirdest, funniest-looking group of people yet. Hanno wrote that he’d found “savage people, whose bodies were hairy, and whom our interpreters called Gorillae.”

He and his men actually tried to introduce themselves to the gorillas, but the gorillas weren’t too communicative. That had to be an awesome attempt at conversation to witness though, amirite? Instead, the apes just threw rocks at the humans and ran away. Incredibly, Hanno’s men caught three of the gorillas and tried to talk them into going back to Carthage with them. Shockingly, it didn’t work. Hanno said the gorillas “could not be prevailed upon to accompany us.”

Eventually and unsurprisingly, when the gorillas got violent Hanno and his men do what humans do and killed them. Then Hanno went a little batshit crazy: “We flayed them,” he wrote, talking about what he thought were human beings, “and brought their skins with us to Carthage.

People were savage back in the old-timey days, man. Just brutal. Anyway, thought I’d share.

Source The “Alien” signals have been pinpointed. New research has identified a cradle of young stars 2.4-billion light years away as the source of mysterious fast radio bursts detected on Earth.

These bursts – which each lasted just a few milliseconds – come from dense neutron stars just 12-miles across in the constellation Auriga.

Experts are baffled about these strange bursts, with some speculating it could be a sign of alien life trying to contact us.

And so it begins. The people of Auriga just shooting signals to us like an extra-terrestrial boss, and we’re too damn dumb to interpret them. We need to get our best minds on this immediately, guys like Stephen Hawking, Carl Sagan (no idea if he’s still alive), or Bill Nye the Science Guy. Somebody’s gotta decipher those radio bursts, and I mean now. Hell, they could have been a warning, a heads-up telling us the Auriga Armada is on its way to Earth to destroy us all. And spare me with the “2.4-billion light years away is too far away” garbage. Who knows what kind of technology these space people possess? Now excuse me while I go make preparations for the end of mankind.

Thought: I wonder if anybody has tried Morse Code?

Florida: Officials on Monday released a 911 call from the alligator attack over the weekend that left a 10-year-old girl with an injury to her leg.

The girl was sitting down in 2-foot-deep water in a designated swimming area at Moss Park about 2:30 p.m. Saturday when the 9-foot gator attacked her, according to a report by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

The gator bit the girl’s calf and knee, but she was able to pry open its jaws to get her leg free, the report states.

Her injuries were not life threatening. The girl’s father told deputies that she was doing fine at the hospital.

Of course she’s doing fine. She’s badass, what would you expect? No big deal, it’s just a 9-foot gator. Hold on a sec while I unpry its massive jaws from my leg. Seriously, a lot of people would have just checked out and called it a day once the gator grabbed their leg. Not this chick. She took the offensive. Girl’s probably enjoying fried gator as we speak.

Honestly though, this gator has to be getting scorched by his buddies right now, huh?

“Hey Hank, tell us again how that 10-year old girl pried your jaws open and sent you swimming home to mommy. That’s weaksauce, man.”

Great look for little girls, bad look for gators, man.