Archive for the ‘Amazing and Interesting Stories’ Category

Awesome.

Advertisements

Mirror: The Beatles Abbey Road album cover is one of the most famous in the world. The album’s sleeve shows the four members — Paul McCartney, John Lennon, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr — walking across the street outside Abbey Road Studios in North London.

However, if you look closely at the photo of the Fab Four, you’ll notice a suited gent standing on the pavement. For years fans have been trying to track the mystery man down, and it is an American tourist called Paul Cole. He was tracked down and said he was included in the snap purely by chance. Paul said he was standing by the side of the road waiting for his wife, who had been looking around a museum.

“I just happened to look up, and I saw those guys walking across the street like a line of ducks. ‘A bunch of kooks,’ I called them, because they were rather radical looking at that time.”  

He said: “I saw the album and I recognized myself right away. I had a new sports jacket on and I’d just bought new shell-rimmed glasses.
I said to my children, ‘Get a magnifying glass out and you’ll see’.”

Paul Cole died in 2008 at the age of 98.

I cannot tell you how many times I’ve looked at that cover and wondered who the dude was standing on the street in the background. I just figured it was somebody who worked in the area and was used to seeing the boys around. Turns it was Paul Cole, an American who was tired of touristing with the wifey and had gone out for a quiet moment and some fresh air. Little did he know he’d end up being on one of the most iconic rock and roll album covers in the history of mankind. That’s wild stuff, man. Anyway, Paul Freakin’ Cole. Check him out:

Man, I just read the Mars Rover Opportunity’s last message to home and I have to admit I’m a little choked up right now. I mean, we send him 33.9-million miles from home for a 90-day mission in July of 2003, he arrives on Mars in January 2004, and he outlives his expected lifespan by a freakin’ decade and a half. Then, alone on a faraway planet, a giant goddamn dust storm swoops in last June and we haven’t heard from him since.

That alone is sad enough, but then we hear what our hero’s last message was and it’s almost too much to take, man. I’ll tell you what he said, but I need a second to gather myself.

OK, I think I’m ready. Here are little Opp’s last words, sent home as the storm approached:

“My battery is low and it’s getting very, very dark . . .”

 

Well, hell. Hold on, I have something in my eye again.

PS- NASA sent their last message to Opportunity today. Nuthin’. 

PPS- There was another Rover named Spirit that went up the same time as Opportunity, and he kicked the bucket back in 2011. Just didn’t have the heart of my boy Opp.

PPPS- It would have been really cool if the last message was something like, “Wooohooo! Go straight to hell Martian dust storm! I’m gone suckers! Peace out!”

PPPPS- How great would it be if we suddenly got another message after 7-months of silence? Those nerd scientists would wet themselves.*

*Me too.

Live Science: Not all heroes wear capes. Some wear ice-encrusted fur.

Yikes.

Fluffy, an adorably resilient cat recently survived a brush with the polar vortex after her owners found her covered in chunks of ice and snow.
The owners rushed Fluffy, who looked more ice-ball mop than feline, to the Animal Clinic of Kalispell in Montana, where veterinarians essentially defrosted the cat more than a week ago, according to news reports. Fluffy wasn’t frozen solid, Andrea Dutter, executive director of the Animal Clinic of Kalispell, told the Washington Post. But her temperature was well below 90 degrees — the lower limit on the hospital’s thermometers. Cats normally run temperatures a few degrees warmer than humans’ average body temperature of 98.6. “We immediately began to warm her up,” Dutter told the Post. “Warm water, heating pads, hot towels . . . within an hour she started grumbling at us.” Fluffy is normally an indoor-outdoor cat who knows her way back home, but was likely immobilized outside after an injury — which doctors discovered after they warmed her up, according to the Post.

Just like a cat, amirite? A dog would have been eternally grateful after being defrosted, but a cat immediately starts grumbling at the people who saved its damn life. Cats, man. Such assholes. Good for Fluffy though. Maybe cats really do have 9-lives?

PS- I once found a dead, dried up frog under the fridge in my apartment at Ohio State. I took it outside, threw some water on it and it hopped away like nobody’s business. Not even kidding.

Exercising in the wilderness always comes with its share of risks, but one Colorado man got far more than he bargained for when a mountain lion attacked him during a trail run earlier this week. The unidentified man suffered serious injuries in the attack, but managed to escape with his life thanks to his decision to fight back.

As the Coloradoan reports, the man was running in Horsetooth Mountain Park when he was attacked from behind by what park staff identified as a mountain lion. The big cat bit the man’s face and arm but he was able to shake himself loose, at which point he strangled the lion.

The animal suffocated and died, and the man sought immediate medical attention for his injuries. Wildlife officials note that the man’s response was appropriate and a good example of how you might be able to save yourself from an animal attack under the right circumstances. “The runner did everything he could to save his life,” Mark Leslie of Colorado Parks and Wildlife said in a statement. “In the event of a lion attack, you need to do anything in your power to fight back.”

Feeling like a badass because you flipped off that 85-year old dude who cut you off in traffic today? Maybe bullied the teenage grocery bagger at Piggly Wiggly because he put your eggs in with the d-CON? Listen, I hate to tell you this bro but until you murder a mountain lion with your bare hands you’re an amateur. And hey, I’m sure glad Mark Leslie of Colorado Parks and Recreations gave us valuable information on how to defend ourselves against mountain lions – fight the hell back. You know, as opposed to lying back and letting a razor-toothed killing machine eat you alive. Solid advice right there. Bottom line, whoever the hell this guy is he now has the greatest pick-up line of all-time:

“Hey, how’d you get those scars?”

“Ah, it wasn’t much. A mountain lion attacked me and I killed it with my bare hands.”

PS- It had to be Steven Seagal out for a run, right? Had to be. Maybe Liam Neeson.

PPS- The guy who killed the mountain lion said he needs to decompress and decide if he will go public. Countdown until he makes all the TV rounds. 3 . . . 2 . . . 1 . . .

 

Ocean Ramsey (yes, that’s her real name) is a dive tourism operator and model. She operates One Ocean Diving in Hawaii, a company which takes adventurists on dives with marine life, including sharks. She’s also a big shark advocate and spends a lot of time fighting the misrepresentation of them in the media. She recently swam with the biggest-ass shark you’ve ever seen, a gigantic 2-ton Great White. If that doesn’t prove she’s either fearless or batshit crazy I don’t know what does. Anyway, check out the photos and video below.

PS- I really admire the work she’s doing for shark conservation, but man I hope this doesn’t end horrifically.

[click and scroll]

This is a story about Jinjing the South American Magellanic Penguin that swims 5,000-miles each year to be reunited with the man who saved his life. The rescued Penguin was saved by João Pereira de Souza, a 73-year old part-time fisherman who lives in an island village just outside Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Joao found the tiny penguin at his local beach lying on rocks, covered in oil, could barely move and was close to death. Joao cleaned the oil off the penguin’s feathers and fed him a daily diet of fish to build his strength. He named the penguin Jinjing. After he nursed Jinjing back to health he took him out to an island to set him free but Jinjing came back. Jinjing finally left, but now very year the little Penguin leaves to his breeding grounds and then returns to Joao for a few months.

It’s called “The Incident at Dyatlov Pass.” Here’s what went down . . .

On January 28th, 1959, 10-students and graduates of the Ural State Technical University embarked on a hike into Russia’s Ural Mountains. They were all experienced mountaineers, and they expected to reach their destination by February 12th.

One of the hikers, Yury Yudin, got sick early in the trip and had to stay behind. Turns out he was the group’s only survivor as well as one lucky flu victim.

So the group of 9-hikers heads into the woods and never came out. It’s sad, but it’s also one of the risks of wandering in the wilderness, right? The thing is, when they didn’t arrive at the expected time, the search-and-rescue team that was dispatched to find them discovered a terrifying and unexplainable scene that remains a mystery to this day.

First of all, the tent that the nine had shared had apparently been cut open from the inside and was full of the party’s food, warm clothing, and other essentials. The team then discovered five of the missing hikers about a mile from their tent. Two were discovered beside the remains of a campfire, and their hands were severely burned. The other three were discovered fairly close together of about 100-feet away, apparently attempting to return to their destroyed tent.

And get this – all five were found in various states of undress. Some were barefoot, others were wearing only their socks. One of the men, Rustem Slobodin, had a small fracture in his skull, but it was ruled that he had died from exposure, not injury.

The remaining four hikers were found approximately 3-months later. But instead of clarifying the situation, their bodies only made the story weirder. Some of the hikers were wearing clothes that belonged to hikers left at the campfire, indicating that they had scavenged those bodies in order to stay warm in the -30° weather, but all four apparently tumbled into a ravine and died there. These hikers had all suffered chest injuries that doctors compared to a car crash, and another was found to be missing her tongue.

Weird, right? But it gets weirder.

The hikers’ clothing was all strongly radioactive, and other than their severe injuries, there were no obvious signs of struggle or the presence of any other living thing in the area. One of the hikers, Semyon Zolotaryov, had apparently taken the time to grab his camera before fleeing the tent but left his clothing behind. What the hell had he hoped to photograph? And speaking of cameras, another member of the party, Yuri Krivonischenko, had taken a blurry picture of something weird and glowing before the incident.

Oh, and one more thing – the place they all died translates to “Mountain of the Dead.”

Gulp.

So, what could have killed the hikers? In short, nobody knows. There are a few theories that keep coming up, though. One is that they were attacked by someone or something in the woods, but there’s just one problem – the search teams found nine sets of footprints in the snow, one for each of the victims but no others. None made by humans, animals, Yetis, aliens, or otherwise.

So maybe it wasn’t an outsider? Maybe something happened between the hikers that caused them to turn on each other, or caused one to become extremely violent. Except there’s not really any great evidence of that, either. The diaries of the hikers found back in the tent didn’t indicate any kind of rising tension, nor did anyone who knew these nine believe they would have allowed their emotions to interfere in a survival situation. Some nearby residents reported seeing orange lights in the sky, leading some people to theorize UFOs had to be involved, and other slightly more rational minds suggested that they had been the accidental victims of some sort of Soviet weapons test. At least that would explain the radiation I guess? It would also explain why the official Russian investigation into the incident closed almost as quickly as it opened – investigators were satisfied to list “a compelling natural force” as the cause of death, and the region around the area where the incident occurred was closed for 3-years afterwards.

By the way, what exactly is “a compelling natural force”?

Oh, and about that aforementioned Yeti/Sasquatch/Bigfoot, you say? On one of the dead hikers cameras they found a mysterious photo of a man (or something). In any case it has a surreal look to it. Check it out:

Yikes. Fu-reaky.

It’s known as Photo 17, and it was the last photo taken on Nikolai Thibeaux-Brignolle’s camera. Is it human, or something else? Could it be a member of the group coming back from somewhere? Maybe somebody else with sinister intentions? Nobody knows, but damn that’s a weird looking photograph.

So, the questions remain:

  • What frightened the hikers so much that they raced barefoot and half-naked into freezing windy temperatures?
  • What caused the traumatic injuries that doctors compared to those gotten from a car crash?
  • What caused the traces of radiation on the hiker’s clothing?

Anyway, it’s an enduring mystery and one that fascinates the bejesus out of me. Sure, you can find people on the worldwide interweb that claim to explain everything, but they an all go straight to hell because that’s no fun. Bottom line, they ultimately explain nothing.

PS- If you’re as interested in this as I am here’s a bonus, and also chilling, video for y’all. It includes some of the theories I talked about above, as well as some others.

 

Lord knows I experienced more than my share of injuries as a kid, some my fault, others not so much. And although I have scars, thankfully there were no permanent damages.

I think.

Anyway, I’ve written several stories over the years regarding my misspent youth and here they are, all combined into one glorious blog. Seriously, it’s a miracle I survived. Enjoy . . .

RUN OVER BY A TRUCK

Yep. This happened.

When I was 11 or 12 my buddies and I got on this kick where we built homemade go-carts. We’d take the wheels off of an old wagon or something and attach them to a 2×4, make axles, and go from there. We’d attach the axles with a bolt down through the middle, and in that way we’d be able to steer with our feet.

Make sense?

Anyway, the go-carts became quite elaborate with sides and roofs (we’d use whatever wood, tin, or anything we could find in our parent’s garages) along with some creative paint jobs. For mine, I found a big rectangle shaped board and nailed it to the bottom of my go-cart. It made it look like it had wings, so I christened it “The Flying Dutchman” because I’m part Dutch and part German. And hey, even at my young age “The Nazi Death Wagon” just didn’t seem appropriate.

If you’ve been reading my “Childhood Injuries” series, you know that we didn’t exactly err on the side of caution when I was a kid, so it probably won’t surprise you to learn that we raced our go-carts right down the hill on Twin Road. Yes, it’s a pretty high traffic area, but I don’t recall that being figured into the equation at the time.

So we’d have these races down the hill, two at a time, winners advancing just like March Madness. This was a different kind of madness, but still. Each cart had a pusher that would give you a start, just like the bobsledders in the Olympics. My pusher was Ted, the same guy who knocked me out with a beer bottle and watched me plummet 20-feet out of a willow tree. In retrospect, Ted wasn’t exactly a lucky charm for me, but at the time that hadn’t occurred to me.

One day we’re having our races, and Ted gives me a helluva shove. I’m leading by a hefty margin, hunched over to reduce wind resistance as The Flying Dutchman hurtled down the hill.

All was well until I saw the truck.

It was pulling out of Keran Street, which ran perpendicular onto Twin Road. The guy driving the truck looked right, then left towards me. He didn’t see me, perhaps because he was looking for a regulation vehicle on a public road and not a small wooden contraption built from garage junk. Then he turned left, directly towards me, and it was too late for me to ditch.

I was going to be hit.

At this point I had few options. The truck was going to run right over me. It was too late to roll off the go-cart, so it looked like the end for young Dave.

Listen, if you’ve never seen a truck grill coming at you at 30-mph from a height of about 2-feet off the road you haven’t lived. Without really thinking, I just reached up and grabbed the truck bumper as it went over my head. Somehow, I stayed in the cart but unfortunately the truck kept going. In the background I could hear my buddies yelling, “STOP! YOU’RE KILLING OUR FRIEND!” or something along those lines.
The guy probably only drove a few feet with me dragging under his front bumper but it seemed like, oh I don’t know, 43-miles. This was probably so because every second I held on I expected to lose my grip and be crushed by the undercarriage of a 1968 Ford F100.

But I didn’t, and the driver finally stopped. He jumped out and pulled me from under his truck, genuinely concerned that he may have killed a child. Except not really. He ripped me a new one:

“What the hell do you think you’re doing? You rolled right under my truck you %$#*&%$ IDIOT!!”

Yeah, because it’s all about you, bud. Still, he had a point.

Bottom line I was unhurt, miraculously I might add. And I somehow avoided peeing my pants, which saved me from great ridicule on the mean streets of Bourneville, Ohio.

After some more ass-chewing and the extrication of The Flying Dutchman from under the truck, I pulled my undamaged go-cart back to the top of the hill, where the races continued. After all, life went on, fortunately for me.

And hey, it was just another near-death experience for me. No big deal. Just another day in the life of a southern Ohio kid in the late 60s.

THE HOLEY TONGUE

This was one of the stories in a series about my susceptibility to almost getting killed as a kid. I’ve alluded to this little mishap before, so stop me if you’ve heard it already.

On Halloween when I was, oh, maybe 11 or 12, my buddy Ted and I decided to climb the big willow tree in my front yard and scare the bejesus out of passing children. If you have to ask why you don’t know what fun is, folks.

I was climbing ahead of Ted, at least 20-feet up. He was probably 10-feet off the ground behind me. I reached for a branch, it broke, and next thing I knew I was hurtling downward, backwards, towards the gaping jaws of death. You ever fall from a great height backwards? A lot of stuff goes through your head as you fall all slow-motiony and whatnot through the air, like “I hope mom will be OK without me” or “I sure wish I would’ve kissed Debbie Mirkelson on the playground last Tuesday when I had the chance“, or perhaps, “Oh no, when they clean my room they’re going to find those magazines under my mattress.”

Too specific? never mind.

My point is, you actually experience great insight and retrospection on the way down. I actually think I may have understood The Grand Unification Theory for a second, but sadly it vanished from my brain upon impact. Anyhoo, as I flew past Ted, and you may find this hard to believe, but he actually yelled, “A-h-h-h-h-h-h-h . . .” imitating a man falling down a hole.

What can I say? I’ve had some really weird friends in my life.

So I hit the ground, landing on my back, and all the air went out of me. Things went black and I thought, “So this is what it’s like to be dead.”
Except I wasn’t, although for a second I’m pretty sure I saw Jesus.

Soon Ted came down and shook me, probably not the preferred method of treatment, and it was only then that I began to feel the pain. My back hurt like hell, but something was seriously wrong with my mouth. I instinctively reached in there to see what was wrong, and to my horror there was a a lot of blood and a substantial sized hole in my tongue. I ran screaming bloody murder into my house, only to be chastised by my parents for interrupting a scintillating episode of “My Three Sons” or something.

Did anyone call 911? Nah. Was I taken to the emergency room? I was not. I got a wet rag, stuck it in my mouth and got on with my life.
Bottom line? Even though I still have a lump in my tongue today, it healed. And my back is fine if you ignore the fact that, on rainy days, it feels like a honey badger is chewing on my lower lumbar vertebrae.

What can I say? ‘Twas a different, and in many ways better, time.

THE FRIED HAND

When I was really young, around three-years old, I was at my grandparent’s farmhouse. They had a woodstove in the kitchen and I was doing what toddlers do, which was toddling. I walked over to the stove and I remember that it looked almost fuzzy, which I know realize indicated that it was red-hot. Being a little kid and not knowing any better, I placed my flat palm on the stove. I don’t remember a lot after that, other than it hurt like a mofo and skin was hanging off my hand like melting plastic.

I have no idea how my burn was treated, but knowing my family at the time grandpa probably killed a chicken and rubbed it’s spleen on me or something (I can’t believe I just typed “Do chickens have spleens?” into The Goggle).

Anyway, it was a serious burn, man. How do I know? Because the scar’s still there, as you can plainly see. On a related note, I used to tell girls I got the scar from pulling an old lady out of a burning car. Hey, whatever works.

Legend has it that my parents had been pretty sure I was left-handed (like dad) up to that point, but I had to go so long using my right hand I became right-handed.

Anyway, it’s weird that I can remember an accident from so long ago, but I think it was so traumatic it’s burned into the banks of my memory. See what I did there? Burned? Never mind.

Note: I just talked to Mom about this. I asked if I was taken to the hospital or the doctor that day and here is her exact quote:

“No, the lady across the road was a nurse or something and she put some kind of salve on it.”

God, that’s just too perfect.

FIRECRACKERS & CLOTHESLINES

That title sounds like a Strawberry Alarm Clock album from the 60’s. Anyway . . .

When I was 16 or 17 I hung around a lot at my sister’s house. She was young and hadn’t been married long, so for a teenager that was the place to go, ya know?

Anywho, one summer night a buddy and I were hanging out there, probably looking for trouble and up to no good. Somehow we got hold of some fireworks and decided to have some fun. First, we went out back and shot bottle rockets at each other, always a guaranteed good time. After a bit, disappointed that nobody was maimed or anyone’s eye was put out, we headed down to the creek to throw M-80s into the water. Lemme tell ya, watching underwater explosions was pure entertainment for a southern Ohio kid in 1973. Probably still is. The fish probably didn’t think so, but hey.

That amused us for awhile, until we began throwing the M-80s at each other, because of course we did. If you don’t know, M-80s are deadly and banned in many parts of the good old USA, basically because they are deadly in the hands of moronic people such as I. How my brother-in-law had possession of these I do not know, but let’s just say he knew a guy. Anyway, in the beginning we at least had the good sense to throw them at each other’s feet, because anyone can spare a toe or two, right?

But of course that didn’t last.

Because at one point I see a lit M-80 coming straight for my face. I instinctively threw my hands up, and as luck would have it the M-80 blew right as it hit my hand.

Good God it hurt. I was certain I’d lost some fingers or worse, but I couldn’t tell because A) It was dark, and B) I couldn’t feel my hand.
The only thing I could do was run to my sister’s house in a panic. I bolted through the darkness of the backyard with my eyes on the light over her backdoor. I was running as fast as I could, holding my hand as I went, certain I was minus some digits. All I wanted was to get to the house and examine the extent of my horrific injuries.

To reiterate – pitch dark, running full-speed through the backyard, focused on porch light. What more could possibly go wrong?

Turns out, a lot – like being clotheslined by a clothesline.

Yep, the one that I forgot was there.

It caught me exactly at throat level, so my feet kept going but my head stayed where it was. I was upended feet first, flew through the air, and eventually landed on my back.

After lying there stunned for a few minutes I got up and staggered into the house and into the bathroom to check out the damages. Turns out my throat had a rope burn across it and looked as if I’d attempted suicide by slitting my throat with a butter knife. Oh, and my back felt as if a railroad spike had been hammered into it.

But on a positive note, I still had all my fingers, and after a couple hours I could actually feel them.

You know, in retrospect I really should have been more cautious as a kid.

Nah, that wouldn’t have been any fun.

HAMMER TIME!

I was in my late teens when this little gem occurred. It was summer and my dad had ordered me to do some work on the gutters of our house. The gutters were loose in places, so I was basically moving a ladder around the house and hammering in those long nails that hold them up where they needed it.

After working about halfway around the house, I decided I needed to take a break and grab a glass of water. I hung the hammer on one of the rungs of the ladder and climbed down.

You see where this is going, don’t you?

It was when I returned to my job that I made what could have been a fatal error in judgment. For some reason (quite possibly because I was an ignoramus) I decided that, as long as I was on the ground, I may as well move the ladder down a few feet. So, I grabbed the ladder and started to move it, and an instant later the world went black.

I think I may have had a brief instant where I thought I’d been attacked from behind with a sledgehammer, but that thought disappeared along with my consciousness.

When I awoke in the grass a few minutes (seconds?) later, all I knew for sure was that I had a massive headache and a knot on my head the size of Verne Troyer’s skull.*

*Search it up on The Goggle.

I looked around, half expecting to see a gang of hoodlums that had inexplicably wandered into Bourneville, Ohio to steal my brand new Stanley Curved Claw Wood Handle Nailing Hammer, except the hammer was right there in the grass beside me.

Wait.

Oh, crap.

I’d forgotten the hammer was lurking at the top, hanging on a ladder rung, waiting to come hurtling down from above the minute I moved the ladder and kill me on impact.

I have no idea how my skull wasn’t crushed. I mean, a hammer falling from 12-feet onto your head? Seriously?

I swear I didn’t even put ice on it. I didn’t even know what being concussed meant back then. I just rubbed it, checked for blood (there was none), and went back to working on the gutters. Hell, if I’d told dad I’d have been rebuked for being stupid, which incidentally would have been 100% correct.

If I’ve said it once I’ve said it a million times. I have no idea how I’m still alive.

OLD SCHOOL REMEDIES, GRANDPA STYLE

My Grandpa Shoemaker was about the toughest old bird you could ever meet. He was once a blacksmith, and a piece of molten iron had broken off and lodged under the skin of his arm decades before I was born. It was never removed, and when I was a little kid he used to let me move it around under his skin. It was weird, you could actually move it up and down his forearm.

Anyway, tough cat my grandpa. He also had hands like vice grips, and when he grabbed you there was no getting away. That said, he was one of the kindest, most gentle men I’ve ever known. As I’ve mentioned before, some of my fondest memories are of when I used to accompany him when he ran his trotlines in Paint Creek. I used to love to listen to him, because he was so wise and his stories were so fascinating to me.
But on to the point of this story. When I was 15 or 16 I went down to his house for one reason or the other. We were sitting on his front porch side-by-side, just talking. At one point he noticed me rubbing the back of my left hand and asked if something was wrong. I told him that a cyst had developed and it was bothering me. It didn’t really hurt but it was about the size of a big marble and was annoying as hell.

I told Grandpa I was going to have it removed soon because it was bothering me, and he just looked at me like I was an idiot. After all, this was a guy who’d had a piece of iron in his arm since 1913.
He then asked how I was going to do that, and I began explaining that it was a minor operation, that they’d just numb my hand and . . .

T-H-H-W-W-A-A-C-K!

Next thing I knew my hand felt like it had been hammered by the heel of a work boot, which is fitting because that’s exactly what had happened. When I wasn’t looking, Grandpa had taken it upon himself to save me some money. He’d slipped his work boot off and popped me a good one. Turns out that in the old days folks got rid of cysts by shattering the living hell out of them, country style.

And you know what? Although it hurt like a sumbitch, it worked. I’d had that cyst for years but after that moment it never came back. I don’t know if he broke it into bits or slammed it so far into my hand you couldn’t see it, but it was gone forever.

Sure, I couldn’t feel my hand for 3-4 hours, but you gotta take the bad with the good I suppose.

Hell, I’m just thankful there wasn’t a hammer nearby at the time.

HOOKED IN THE JAW

When I was a kid my grandfather, my father and I used to go to ponds all over the area to fish. Grandpa Shoemaker used to have trotlines up and down Paint Creek and we’d fish for bait to put on them. If you don’t know, trotlines were fishing lines that were stretched across the creek, attached at both ends to trees or something on the bank. You had bait attached every few feet to the line and it had to be checked once or twice a day to see what you’d caught. Some of my greatest memories are of my grandfather and I checking his trotlines in his row boat.

Sometimes he’d even let me row! Wonderful memories.

Anyway, back to the ponds. Dad was fishing and I was beside him. At some point I had to get a worm to re-bait my hook and was walking behind dad. That’s when he decided to cast his line, either because he didn’t see me or because he was trying to teach me a lesson. I’d say it’s about 50-50 either way.

Next thing I knew I felt the fishing line sort of wrap around my neck and hook just under my jawline. That in itself was painful enough, but before I could scream dad whipped the line back out toward the water while the hook was still lodged in my jaw.

Trust me, then I screamed.

The hook stayed imbedded even after the jerk, it just became more deeply enlodged in my jaw.

Yeah, that’s never good.

After briefly showing annoyance for my rude interrupting of his cast, dad came back and began his attempt at hook removal. As you know, those things are made to go in easy. Coming out is another story, hence the little thing called a barb on the end.

After much pulling and twisting, Dad and Grandpa finally dislodged the offending hook. I’m telling you, that may have been the worst 5-minutes of my life. Not only that, after the hook was out dad splashed some pond water on it to clean it up. Not the preferred method of wound-cleaning I’m sure. Still, I nevertheless avoided a life-threatening blue gill infection when all was said and done.

Was I rushed to the ER? Nah. Did I get chastised for being stupid and walking behind a man who was casting a fishing line? Of course I did.

And did I ever do it again? No way.

BLINDED BY HENDRIX

Almost.

One day back in the idiocy of my youth, my friend Billy and I made the moronic awesome decision to have a 45-record war. For those of you who don’t know what a 45-record was, it was a little record that had music on it. You played it on a turntable, which was a . . . ah, screw it. Search it up on The Goggle.

The point is we built these little forts out of couch cushions and started whipping these little records at each other, which was like throwing Frisbees except they were thinner with much sharper edges. After a bit I peeked over a cushion and caught a 45 right over my left eye. I seem to remember it was “Hey Joe” by Jimi Hendrix. It cut a nasty slice about a quarter inch long right through my left eyebrow, and I proceeded to bleed like a stuck pig.*

*I have no idea if a stuck pig bleeds more than a stuck rabbit or stuck marmoset, but folks seem to stick pigs for some reason.

I was afraid to tell mom because I knew I’d get in trouble for being a jackass (there was some precedent for this), so I stuck a rag on it until it stopped, then found my oldest sister and asked for her help. After being initially aghast at the injury, she poured some mercurochrome** on it, followed by a big band-aid.

**For you youngsters out there, mercurochrome was once used as a cure-all by mothers far and wide for injuries ranging from small cuts to severe head trauma. A few drops of mercurochrome could supposedly cure a shotgun blast to the chest. Unfortunately, in 1998 the U.S. Food and Drug Administration declared that mercurochrome was “not generally recognized as safe and effective” as an over-the-counter antiseptic and forbade its sale across state lines. Sad, really.

Anyway, had the Hendrix record been an inch lower I’d have undoubtedly lost an eyeball, which is hardly ever a good thing.

Long story short, to this day if I smooth down my eyebrow, there’s a little scar line where hair refuses to grow.

Thanks Billy!

Note: If any of my exes asks about the scar, I got it in a bar fight. Let’s keep this on the downlow.

JUST LIKE THE WESTERNS, BUT NOT REALLY

One time my buddy Ted (yeah, him again) and I found some old beer bottles in a ditch or somewhere. After checking to see if there was any booze left, we got the bright idea to pretend to be cowboys in a saloon fight. Hey, we’d seen the TV westerns where guys were just getting clobbered left and right with bottles that would shatter upon impact. We flipped a coin, and Ted got to go first.

We pretended to fight, then I saw Ted rear back to let me have it. I saw the bottle coming . . . and then everything went black.

Turns out those bottles on TV aren’t real, and it takes a lot of force to actually break a beer bottle over a human’s head, at least in 1967. Hence, the bottle remained intact and I went down like a sack of lug nuts.

At least Ted tried to help. What did he do, you ask? The same thing he saw cowboys do on TV – he ran to the garage, got a bucket, filled it with water and threw it in my face.

Turns out that actually works.

Anywho, I sat up, shook it off, and got on with my life. And we were smart enough not to try it again on Ted, so perhaps we did have a few brain cells in our craniums.

Nah. Probably not.

CROQUET BALL KO

This one also took place at Uncle Myrl’s and Aunt Dorothy’s. One summer day I was up there and we went outside to play some baseball. The problem was, we couldn’t find a baseball. I believe it was cousin Kevin who grabbed a croquet ball from somewhere. We’d been playing awhile, I was pitching, when cousin Mick sent a screaming line drive right back at me. I didn’t get my glove up in time and the croquet ball caught me right between the eyes, knocking me out cold.

And what was the reaction of my loving cousins? They all ran back into the house.

I have no idea how long I was out, but I do remember getting up and staggering back into the house with a goose egg on my head the size of an orange. Incredibly (in retrospect), everyone was casually sitting around watching TV.

Me: “What the hell? Thanks for nothing.”

Mick: “Hey, look. He’s alive!”

Kevin: “Better get some ice on that.”

True story.

THE SLICED FOOT

Once, when I was about 5 or 6 my parents and I were sitting on the front porch and Dad told me to run around the house to see how fast I could go. In retrospect it’s pretty obvious he was just trying to get rid of me for a little bit, but that’s neither here nor there. Any, I was barefoot as usual and when I made it back around and stood there panting, he sort of looked down, pointed, and calmly stated this:

“Hey, looks like you cut your foot there.”

I looked down, and sure enough there was a 3-inch slice of meat hanging off my instep like you would not dream. Blood everywhere too, I might add. But hey, no biggie. Mom just slapped some Mecuricome* on it, added a band-aid or six and I was ready to rock and roll.

*Again, for you younger folk out there, Mecuricome was a wonder antiseptic that was used to prevent and cure all sorts of maladies. And yes, it had mercury in it. I recall it was red and it stung like a mofo. Sadly it was discontinued years ago. Something about causing cancer or some such nonsense. On a related note, I bet mom still has a bottle stashed somewhere.

PS- I’m also 90% sure I broke a kneecap that went untreated when I wrecked my bike as a kid. How do I know this? Because when I get down on that knee today if feels as if I’m kneeling on a live power line. Somehow, I soldier on.

THE BICYCLE WAGON TRAIN WAS A BAD IDEA

I have no idea who first came up with the idea, but if I had to bet I’d say it was Max. All the ideas that got us into trouble seemed to originate with him.

All I know is that it was a bad idea, we were idiots to think we could pull it off, and it could have killed somebody. But let’s start at the beginning . . .

It was the summer of my, oh, let’s say 11th year. I’m guessing because I don’t remember exactly when the incident took place, and that may have something to do with what happened that day.

Because you know, concussions and traumatic events can do that to a kid’s brain.

Anyway, myself and six of my friends were sitting in my dad’s garage, probably discussing Raquel Welch’s breasts or the decline of Willie Mays or something. We were all either sitting on or near our bikes, which were obviously our main forms of transportation back then. As I recall, the bikes ranged from my spiffy little Schwinn with the butterfly handlebars and funky sissy bar to my buddy Scratch’s 1954 era Columbia which his dad had passed down to him. Aside from Scratch and I, the other conspirators involved that fateful day were Mel, Max, Rocky, Ted and Fred. Max, you may remember, was the kid behind the infamous episode in which we almost lost our buddy Harold.

Best to keep that in mind as we continue.

Note: Scratch’s name has an interesting origin. You see, his name was Richard so we originally called him Rich, which we eventually shortened to Itch. However, Itch’s mom hated the name and asked us to stop calling him Itch. Hence the name Scratch. Kids can be cruel.

At some point the TV show Wagon Train came up. For some reason, when I was a kid there were a lot of Westerns on television. I think I’ve seen every episode of The Rifleman (stellar), Gunsmoke (legendary), Bat Masterson (I can still sing the theme song in its entirety), The Big Valley (Audra? Smokin’ hot), Bonanza (loved Hoss), and my personal favorite, Sky King. Sky King was about a cowboy who flew an airplane. Really.
But back to Wagon Train. Talking about the TV show somehow brought us around to actual wagon trains, and this led to somebody suggesting we form our own wagon train.

With our bicycles.

Trust me, at the time, in our strange little still-unfully formed brains, this seemed like a good idea. And then, for some unknown reason, somebody suggested we attach our bikes with ropes. Now that I think about it, in real wagon trains the wagons weren’t attached by anything so I don’t know what the hell we were thinking.

But like I said, unformed brains.

At that point we were amped for the idea though, and there was no stopping us. Wagon Train! Let’s do this! So we rummaged around my garage and came up with a collection of rope, wire, clothesline, an old bike inner tube, and a three-foot length of chain. Somehow, we attached our bikes together. I distinctly recall tying one end of a clothesline around my bike seat post and the other end around the handlebars of Fred’s old beat-up Huffy Cruiser.

Note II: Fred, by the way, was a man ahead of his time. He would later become known as the first guy who dyed his hair at our school. Yep, he changed his hair color at the age of 16. And he changed that color to green. Gutsy move in any era.

Soon we were finished and ready to roll. For some reason yours truly was in the lead, followed by Fred, Scratch, Max, Mel, Rocky, and finally Ted. After some initial struggles we actually made it out of the driveway and up the street a bit, albeit with some herky-jerky movements along the way.

By the way, nobody, and I mean nobody, wore a helmet back then. If somebody would’ve shown up wearing one he would’ve been harassed, shamed, laughed at, teased, spat upon and possibly beaten to a pulp for being a pansy. Hell, I once put one of those tall safety flags on the back of my bike and my friend Ted ended up taking it off and whipping me with it. Bourneville was a tough neighborhood back in the day.

We finally made it to the top of the hill in front of the old Twin School, and then we stopped to regroup before heading down the hill towards Route 50. It seemed the prudent thing to do. Regroup, that is.

Did I mention we were about to head down a hill?

At this point I remember raising my hand and giving the signal to move forward, then actually yelling, “Wagons, HO!”

Seriously. I yelled, “Wagons, HO!”

After a couple of false starts we began our descent, and all was well as we started down the hill. Believe it or not we started to gain a sort of chemistry, becoming a finely-tuned working unit if you will. We were pedaling in unison and gaining speed. In fact, we were rolling so fast I started to contemplate other things, the first and foremost being how in the hell are we going to stop?

As it turned out, however, stopping at the bottom of the hill wasn’t going to figure into the equation. This is because right about then, to my horror, I heard Max yell this:

“I wonder what would happen if I hit my brakes?”

All I got out was “Don’t do it M . . .” before, well, Max did it.

So picture 7-bikes, all tied together, going down a hill really fast, and the guy on the bike right in the middle slams on his breaks.

Carnage.

The three guys in front of Max (me, Fred and Scratch) all went right over our handlebars, headfirst. I actually held on to mine for a second, which caused me to flip completely over and land on the road, on my back. Miraculously though, other than the blacktop burn on my ass I was unscathed.

You know, until .3 seconds later when Fred landed on me, and .1 seconds after that when Scratch landed on Fred.

Yep, that’ll knock the breath right out of you, trust me.

As for the rest of the guys, Mel, Rocky and Ted all crashed into Max of course, flipping his bike head-over-heels and into the three now-unmanned bikes in front of them. Oh, and Mel had teeth marks in his back, and from whence they came was never established.

Like I said, carnage.

When all was said and done we were a pile of skinned knees, flat tires, bent rims, banana seats, handlebars, bike fenders and crushed souls.
But as was our way back then we got up, checked for damages, wiped off our scraped knees, dusted ourselves off and pushed or carried our damaged bikes back home. Nobody cried or yelled for mommy, just a lot of wiping off blood and checking for protruding bones. And we were laughing all the way.

After all, we had a memory we could talk about for years to come, even all the way up to January of 2018, almost 51-years later.

Just another beautiful day in downtown Bourneville, Ohio, circa 1967.

Good times for sure, if you could live through it.

GRUNGY’S REVENGE

Another story from my misspent youth . . .

We had a kid in our neighborhood when I was growing up that was, shall we say, lacking in the looks department. Ah, what the hell, he was the ugliest SOB I’ve ever seen. He had a bulbous nose, elephantine ears, beady eyes, and his complexion was so bad it looked as if his face had caught on fire on somebody’d put it out with a rake.

God, I can be mean. But seriously, this dude’s parents had to tie a steak around his neck to get the dog to play with him. I swear he had to sneak up on a glass of water to get a drink. Hey-O! I could go on forever.

In addition, he was really big for his class at school. Alright, so he’d been held back a couple of times. But he was still big for his age, and not just big-big. Humongously fat-big. Add some long greasy hair to the mix and I think you get the visual.

The guy’s last name was Granderson, and for some unknown reason that only our then-addled minds could understand, we called him Grungy. Grungy Granderson. Hey, it seemed to fit.

Anyway, he hated the nickname. Hated it. If you ever called him that you best be sure that you weren’t within grabbing distance or you were in for a severe ass-whipping. However, since Grungy was lacking in the footspeed department some of us would occasionally get away with actually calling him that to his troll-like face. The fact that Grungy was such a mean and hateful guy somehow made this acceptable in our world.

Wait. Now that I think about it, it’s sort of obvious why he was so angry all the time. The world can be a cruel place, man.

I actually felt a hint of remorse there for a second. Hold on . . . OK, it passed.

That said, one day I was cruising by Twin School on my bike with my buddy Buddy (seriously, his name was Buddy) when we noticed Grungy shooting some hoops on the playground. Buddy, who could be a bit of a jackass, then suggested we ride over and torment Grungy a bit. After all, we were on our bikes and he was not. Seemed like a safe and entertaining way to kill a few minutes. Have I mentioned I was once one helluva punk-ass kid?

Before we rode over there, though, Buddy and I had this conversation:

Buddy: “Hey, why don’t you see how close you can get to him, call him Grungy, and then take off?”

Me: “Why don’t you?”

Because I’m quick like that.

Buddy: “C’mon. I dare you.”

Me: “No way man. That dude would crush my spleen if he caught me.”

Buddy: “You’re a chicken.”

Me: “For once in your life you are correct. I am a chicken.”

Buddy: “C’mon. I double dare you.”

Now, when I was 12-years old you could dare me, you could call me chicken, you could question my manhood. But you could not double dare me. Ever. Double dare me and I would take you up on it. That was the rule of the street in Bourneville, Ohio in the late 60s my friends. I know, it makes no sense, but anyone in my age group knows exactly what I’m talking about.

So . . .

We rode on over and I immediately began circling Grungy on my bike, saying clever things like:

“G-r-u-n-g-y . . .”

“Hey GRUNGY!”

“Grungeman!”

“What’s up Grungy?”

“G-R-U-U-U-U-U-N . . .”

A-n-d I never got that last part out because a basketball had just slammed into the back of my head at approximately the speed of light. I swear it felt like a cannonball had hit me from a distance of 10-feet, thrown by an angry King Kong after 17-Red Bulls and a shot of liquid adrenaline. To this day if you look closely at the back of my head I’m pretty sure you can see the faint outline of the word “Spalding” there, backwards.

Of course I flew off my bike, and when I came to my senses Grungy was towering over me like an enraged Goblin on steroids.

Man, was he pissed.

He then picked me up by the front of my t-shirt and belt of my pants, held me over his head, and threw me like a rag doll into the air. While airborne it felt like I was moving in slow motion. Everything became quiet and it was actually quite peaceful for a few seconds. While up there I believe I actually caught a glimpse of Buddy, my supposed friend, pedaling away at warp-speed while glancing over his shoulder in fear, like a hobo being chased by a guy with a job offer.

Of course all that ended when I landed on the playground blacktop.
I sat up, stunned, looking around wildly for the expected onslaught that was to come. But nothing came. All I saw was Grungy riding away on my little bike, looking like one of those bears in the circus that they’ve taught to ride a bicycle. It would have been funny if I’d had any feeling in my upper torso.

After sitting on the ground for awhile trying to catch my breath and my bearings and feeling around for missing teeth and you know, blood, I got up and walked home.

And there, leaning against a tree in my front yard, was my bike.

Grungy had left it for me.

God knows I deserved what I got and he had every right to roll my bicycle into Paint Creek or something, but for some reason he didn’t.

Grungy moved away soon after that, and I never got the chance to ask him why he left my bike for me. I guess somewhere deep inside that big, mean, ugly body there beat a good heart.

I sort of wish I’d known that sooner.

 

I actually attempted two websites before this one and neither really caught on. The first was called Rock Hard Times and was all about music. The second was called The Inside Handshake and stuck exclusively to sports. Then one day it hit me – why limit myself to one subject? Hell, I have opinions and observations on other stuff as well. Why not open it up to everything? Music, sports, politics, science, entertainment, nature, the list was endless. Thus was born Shoe: Untied, a play on my name along with the idea of sort of letting loose (actually a friend of mine came up with the title and I liked it). Anyway, as you know the site turned out to be a pretty eclectic one, and that’s the way my crack staff and I like it.

One thing I discovered early is that you can never, ever predict what people will like. Sometimes I write something I think is great and get very little response. Other times I write something that I feel is sort of trivial and it just blows up (see drunk pig blog below). Like the title says, it defies explanation.

With that said, here is our annual year-end report and Top 25 Most Popular Blogs for 2018. We’ll start with #1 and work our way down. Just click on the title if you want to take a gander.

Australian Pig Steals 18-Beers From Campers, Gets Drunk, Fights Cow

Yes ladies and gentlemen, a short little article I posted along with my observations back in 2014 got over 500,000 views this past year. For you non-mathematicians, that’s over half a million people. Seriously man, it was about a drunk pig. See, a radio station out in Seattle happened upon my site, liked the post, and put a link to that story on its website. Then the Aussies got hold of it and the rest is history.

UPDATE: Drunk Australian Pig That Started Fight With Cow Killed In Car Accident

Aaaand of course the throngs of people who loved the drunken swine story were interested in the tragic update. On a related note, Australians and I have the same exact sense of humor.

My Side of the Story

Nearly 400,000 people from all over the world heard my side of the story, and I’m glad they did.

Sis

I thought losing a basketball job was a tragic experience. I soon learned that, on life’s grand scale, it wasn’t.

My Dad and I

My memories of my father, who we lost just 53-days after my sister.

“Things Most White People Say” List Is Hilarious, Also 100% Correct

Basically just a repost of some funny tweets I’d run across. Good stuff and people liked it.

Incredible Photo of the Day: Gator Catch!

This was another post that the Australians inexplicably enjoyed. A large percentage of its views came from the Land Down Under.

So How Many People Did The Rifleman Actually Kill?

I love the old TV show The Rifleman, so one day I decided to research just how many people Lucas McCain actually killed. The answer? 120. Ol’ Luke murdered 120 people. But hey, they all deserved it so it’s cool.

Scioto Valley Conference Boys Basketball Preview & Predictions

A preview I wrote regarding our local basketball conference. I must say it’s turning out the way I predicted. So far.

The 2017 Ugly Dog Contest Was An Absolute Joke

My critique of the Ugly Dog Contest and its beautiful winner, Martha.

Cool Beans! Words and Phrases That Need To Make A Comeback

Another story I published a couple years that seems to never go away. Just a simple blog about words.

An American Hero: Ruby Bridges

My story about Ruby Bridges, the little 6-year old African-American who integrated an all-white elementary school in New Orleans on November 14, 1960.

Map of the Day: World Rat Distribution

The most fascinating aspect of this map is that Alberta, Canada is rat free, and it’s not by accident.

Regarding Beach Midgets

Just an offbeat, original little story that people seemed to find hilarious.

15 Reasons I Hate LeBron James (Or Used To)

I wrote this after LeBron left Cleveland with his ridiculous television show, “The Decision”. I really did hate the guy for a few years, but he won me back with his letter admitting he’d made a mistake with the way he left, then returning to Cleveland and ultimately bringing them a championship.

Celebrity Mugshots: My Top 10

Another old post that saw a resurgence of sorts in 2018. I’ve no idea why.

Meet Australian Cow Knickers, the Biggest Damn Cow You’ll Ever See

Again, Australians, man.

If You Haven’t heard of August Landmesser It’s a Damn Shame

I’m truly glad people liked this one, and I’m glad I got to spread the word about August Landmesser.

Paint Valley Basketball Records

This is a page I maintain that’s linked to Shoe: Untied. It gets a lot of hits.

Brad Kerns and Parenting the Way It Should Be

A telling story about one of my basketball parents and also one of the best friends I ever had.

The Many Worlds Theory is Wildly Fascinating

A pretty good example of what an eclectic website Shoe: Untied really is.

Map of the Day: USA IQ Test Scores by State

I had a lot I wanted to say here politically bit I couldn’t pull the trigger.

Man Killed Trying to Bring Christianity to Remote Island Tribe

A recent story that was quite controversial. Seems not everyone agreed with my views.

Another Drunk Animal Causes Havoc, and This Time It’s a Sozzled Squirrel.

Who knew drunk animal stories would be so wildly popular? Not I.

Don’t Think Animals Are Scary Smart? Read On.

There’s a certain segment of people who visit my site that can’t get enough of the animal stuff. They just eat it up. Animals, man.

So there ya go. All in all it was the biggest year ever for Shoe: Untied, and I thank the people who visit because you’re obviously as nuts as I am.

Happy New Year everyone.

 

The story began when a guy named Jamal Hinton received a random text from a woman named Wanda Dench. Seems Wanda had texted him mistakenly. Here’s here initial text:

 

Jamal, perplexed, of course asked who the heck was sending him this text, since he knew no Amanda nor Justin. He was answered, and the following conversation ensued:

Wanda complied:

Of course Jamal couldn’t resist responding, and Wanda did too:

So, this happened:

Long story short, the initial text came in 2016 and Jamal has gone to his second grandma’s house every year since:

I’ve never understood racism and I never will, but in these sensitive times a story of how one kind, simple gesture can lead to a friendship sure makes me feel good.

Happy Holidays everyone.

My favorite part is the first thing MJ said to AI on an NBA court: “What’s up ya little bitch?”

Here’s the dilly. Mandarin Ducks are native to East Asia and they don’t migrate anywhere close to New York City, yet this little bro is cruising around Central Park like he owns the place. Because of this birders everywhere are losing their gourds. How did he get there? Was he someone’s pet? Is he lost? Was he heading for Changchun and got caught up in a strong westerly headwind? Did he escape from the Tang Pavilion Restaurant over on 55th? The mystery deepens.

PS- Damn that’s a beautiful duck. Just regal like you read about. Too bad Trump has already ordered that it be deported.

PPS- Or would that be an easterly headwind? Could go either way I guess?

PPPS- Seriously, Central Park instead of some little pond in New Jersey? What are the odds?

PPPS- You know some bro from up in Queens is going to come forward and say, “Hey, that’s Hank! I brought him home from my trip to Taipei!” New Yorkers, man.

UPDATE: He has a tag on his leg. Stay tuned.

See how my people censored the photos? Crack staff indeed.

Toronto, Canada: Visitors were enjoying a monthly jazz night at Ripley’s Aquarium, in Toronto, Canada, last Friday when a man decided to skinny dip. He didn’t seem to have a worry in the world despite being circled by two sharks. Onlookers seemed equally shocked by his foolishness and nakedness. Security at the aquarium were not pleased with his antics and a video showed them telling him to get out. The exhibitionist seemed to be following their orders but inexplicably dived back into the water moments later. Guards made sure they secured him when he got out again and escorted him away.

Oh my. Where to start? First of all, I think it should be posted at all zoos and aquariums that if you enter a wild animal habitat you are 100% on your own. No discussion, no debate. No other human should be subjected to danger because of your stupidity. Secondly, I’m sure glad that security was “not pleased with his antics.” Had they been pleased they’re probably not very good at securitying. I’ll also pat the onlookers on the back for being “shocked by his foolishness and nakedness.” Seems like an appropriate reaction. Finally, why do crazy people take their clothes off before doing something crazy? There has to be some psychological reason for this, no?

PS- Jazz night indeed.

Technology & Science: An unusual visitor has been hanging out in the St. Lawrence River for the past three years: A Narwhal, more than 700-miles south of its usual range.  But the lone narwhal is not alone — it appears he has been adopted by a band of Belugas. Narwhals live in the icy waters of the Arctic, including those surrounding parts of Canada, Norway, Greenland and Russia. They typically don’t range any farther south than northern Quebec’s Ungava Bay, located south of the southern tip of Baffin Island. In the drone footage captured by GREMM researchers and posted on their website Whales Online, a pod of nine or 10 Belugas swim closely together near the surface, rolling and rubbing against each other. “They are in constant contact with each other,” Michaud said. “It’s a like a big social ball of young juveniles that are playing games.” Nobody is sure how the little Narwhal ended up so far south, but he’s been accepted by the group and has even picked up their habits.

Well, well, well. In a world divided by race, politics and religion, along come the animals to show us how it’s done. Different colored little dude comes rolling in one day, appearing a little weird with a 3-foot tusk jutting out of his head, but do you think these baby Belugas give a tuna’s ass? Hells to the nah. They accepted the little lost bro like he’s one of their own and now he’s swimming merrily along with his gang, just rolling and rubbing against each other like best bud Belugas do. Animals, man. Just telling Trump to suck it like you read about.

PS- Honestly, do you think the Belugas are talking behind the Narwhal’s back? “Hey Ned, what’s the deal with that horn sticking out of Barry’s head? Dude looks like Janet had sex with a swordfish or something.”

PPS- There are whales in the St. Lawrence River? What the hell?


What follows are the first few words of The Crisis, Thomas Paine’s first article in a series of articles called The American Crisis. These words helped galvanize our country in its battle for independence from Britain at a time when our situation was looking extremely bleak. These words still ring true today, nearly 242-years later . . .

December 23, 1776

These are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly . . .

Amazing, powerful words indeed. A couple days later, on the evening of December 25th and morning of the 26th, George Washington turned around after having been pursued by the British Army for weeks. He crossed the Delaware, attacked the dreaded Hessians, won a stunning victory, and ignited a fire of hope within the American cause. The rest, as they say, is history.

Sometimes when you’re way behind, everything in your body is telling you to quit. Here are 5 people who didn’t.

“From the depths of hell!”

From 5th to 1st in the last lap.

Ohio University’s Dave Wottle wins Olympic Gold in the 800-meter run.

And finally, the legendary comeback by the USA’s Billy Mills. “Look Mills! Look at Mills! LOOM AT MILLS!”

When the late great legend Burt Reynolds passed away a couple days ago I was reminded that his college roommate was ESPN’s Lee Corso, which is almost too cool to imagine. Because of this I began wondering what other famous people roomed together, so I put my crack staff here at Shoe: Untied on the case. What they found boggled my mind, blew my gourd and made me question the existence of all that is holy.

Ok, maybe that’s a stretch, but there were some surprises. Take a gander . . .

Burt Reynolds & Lee Corso 

As I’ve already mentioned, Burt and Lee roomed together at Florida State in the late 50s when both played on the football team. Reynolds got hurt, and legend has it the Corso encouraged him to pursue his dream of becoming a movie star. The rest, as they say, is history.

Al Gore & Tommy Lee Jones

W-h-u-u-u-u-t? Yep, these guys were roomies at Harvard in the late 1960s. Tommy Lee was, like Burt Reynolds, a football star-turned-actor and Al was, well, the future Vice President of the USA. Jones went on to make cool movies like Men in Black, The Fugitive and Space Cowboys while Gore ended up winning the Nobel Peace Prize, combating climate change and getting screwed out of the 2000 General Election. Power couple, man.

 

Stevie Nicks, Lindsay Buckingham & Warren Zevon

Oh, how I would have loved to have hung out in that apartment. Back in the early 70s, and before they all hit it big, Zevon slept on Stevie and Lindsay’s couch for a few months. Seems Warren was struggling financially and the couple invited him to crash in their NYC pad. Little did they know what lie ahead. For Nicks and Buckingham it was Fleetwood Mac, for Zevon it was Werewolves of London, Excitable Boy and the rest. Stevie even went on to cover Warren’s song “Reconsider Me” in the early 90s. Good stuff.

David Lynch & Peter Wolf

Wow. Imagine hanging with these two at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston in the late 60s. Lynch would turn into an amazing director of movies like Eraserhead, Blue Velvet and Mulholland Drive while Wolf would become the lead singer of the freakin’ J. Geils Band. Listen to this cool story of how they met, as recounted by Wolf:

“The first day I arrived back in Boston, I stayed at the Y.M.C.A. for one night, because that’s the most I could afford. The next night I spent sleeping on the Charles River. The third day, since it was raining, I knew I needed to find a place quick. I spent a good deal of time at the school’s hallway bulletin board looking over the “roommates wanted” list, when a voice behind me asked if I was looking to find a roommate. That person turned out to be David Lynch. So that night I moved into his one-bedroom apartment on Hemenway Street. We slept in bunk beds.”

Fate, man.

John Cusack & Jeremy Piven

Oh boy. These guys had to be trouble, amirite? Turns out they grew up in the same hometown of Evanston, Illinois and were childhood buddies. Then, they shared an apartment in the Big Apple. The story has a sad ending though, at least for now. The two had a falling out, reportedly because Cusack resented Piven’s success in the 2000s. Makes zero sense to me and I hope to God it’s wrong because I think both of them are great.

We also found a few more, not-quite-so-interesting roomies:

Tony Dungy & Flip Saunders

Yep, former head coach Dungy of the NFL Colts and Saunders of the NBA Timberwolves roomed together at the University of Minnesota. Tony had to be a boring-ass roommate, man.

Joe Montana & Charlie Weis

NFL Hall of Famer Montana and failed Notre Dame coach Weis roomed together in South Bend wile in college at ND. Weis probably ate all the food.

Ryan Gosling & Justin Timberlake

I was going to make a joke about all the ladies these two had to be pulling in, and then I learned they were both Mouseketeers at the time and were like 13-years old. Then again . . .

Christopher Reeve & Robin Williams

These guys roomed together at Julliard and stayed close. Williams even covered some of Reeves’ medical expenses after he was paralyzed. Reportedly he caused Reeve to smile for the first time after his accident. Cool.

Tom Izzo & Steve Mariucci

This pair roomed together at Northern Michigan and used to talk about becoming big-time coaches. Of course, Izzo ended up as head basketball coach at Michigan State and Mariucci coached the San Francisco 49ers and Detroit Lions. Their dreams became reality.

Gene Hackman & Dustin Hoffman

The story is that Hoffman slept on Hackman and his wife’s floor in NYC in the 50’s for a few weeks until he wore out their patience. They kicked him out and he was replaced by another actor – Robert Duvall.

Kiefer Sutherland & Robert Downey Jr.

Robert and Kiefer shared an apartment in LA for three years in the ’80s before making it big. Robert was going through a rough patch with girlfriend Sarah Jessica Parker at the time, and Kiefer was a shoulder to cry on. True story.

Me & Jed

Back in the late 70s I shared an apartment with a guy who had several college degrees and was smarter than just about any human I’ve ever known before or since. I, on the other hand, had flunked out of OU and only cared about the Tuesday Night Drink ‘n Drown at the Serene Lounge on High Street. Talk about an odd couple. Seriously, Jed was and is a great guy and I have some great memories of the year we spent just off Ohio State campus.

Anyway, surprising roommates. This site is nothing if not eclectic.

Admit it. You think of Labor Day as a 3-day vacation, right? That long weekend that signifies the end of summer? Don’t feel too badly, we all do. But there is a reason we have the day off, you know. I’m sure most of us understand that the holiday has something to do with the American worker, but few know how it actually came into existence.

The truth is that the holiday came from a time when businesses were bullying workers and our government wasn’t doing much to stop it. It all started with a really bad recession in the late 1800s that reduced demand for railway cars. This prompted Chicago railway gazillionaire George Pullman to lay off workers and/or cut back pay. Not good, especially at a time when folks were struggling to get by anyway. That said, it was a business decision. Anyway, because of this a bunch of his workers went on strike. The American Railway Union, who was obviously on the worker’s side, refused to handle Pullman cars which put a real damper on commerce in many parts of the country.

Bottom line, the whole situation pissed off the workers everywhere, who were finally fed up with the treatment they’d been receiving from industry owners who usually lived in some distant city and gave the impression they gave less than a damn about them.

Because of all this, Pullman workers started a strike in May 1894. They quit showing up for work, demanding better working conditions, better wages, and most importantly an 8-hour work day.

This caused quite an uproar in Congress, and as a nod of appreciation for the American worker they passed legislation making the first Monday of every September a day to recognize them. Woohoo! That’ll settle those rascals down! They politicians were basically giving to pat to the American worker’s head and telling him/her to take a day off once a year and relax, we’ll all salute you and it’ll all be fine.

It didn’t work. The workers kept striking.

In July, President Grover Cleveland sent the goddamn United States Army to Chicago to crush the strikers.

This just pissed the workers off even more, and within a day of the troops’ arrival angry mobs started tipping railroad cars and setting them on fire. Soldiers cracked down with bayonets and bullets but the rioting and property destruction worsened. Dozens of people ultimately died in Chicago and in other parts of the country. The government restored order by the fall, but Union leader Eugene Debs was eventually convicted of defying a court order and sent to prison.

I checked out the U.S. Department of Labor’s page on the history of Labor Day, and it says the holiday “is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers.”

It doesn’t mention the Pullman strike, workers dying or any labor problems at all.

The fact is that throughout American history our workers have had to fight to get better pay and shorter hours. Evenings and weekends weren’t just handed over by lawmakers and kind-hearted business owners. People died for your 8-hour work day.

So, Labor Day is much more than part of a 3-day weekend at the end of summer. It’s a day where we should all stop for a minute to reflect on the American worker who fought and died for decent hours and fairer wages, the men and women who made working in America better for all of us.

There are so many things about this video to like I don’t know where to start. It’s too perfect. The guy’s wife pays a man to kill him for two grand, he thinks that price is way too low, he’s a used car salesman because of course he is, that hair, that beard, he’s sweating like hell, the video is just perfect. Seriously, this guy is not upset his wife tried to have him murdered, he’s upset she didn’t take it seriously enough. “You get what you pay for.” That’s comedy gold.

 

I hate this guy.

Have you heard of Michael Sparks? No? He’s a guy who walked into a thrift store back in 2006, made a really cheap purchase, and soon discovered he’d found the mother of all finds. But first let us regress a couple years . . .

In the early 00s a Tennessean named Stan Caffy had been asked by his wife to clean out the garage and ditch all the junk he’d acquired through the years. He complied, and reluctantly took an old copy of the Declaration of Independence off his garage wall and donated it, along with other odds and ends, to a local thrift store. Caffy had bought the copy for $10 at a yard sale 10-years prior. Keep that in mind.

Soon thereafter, another Tennessean named Michael Sparks strolled into the same thrift store (the Music City Thrift Store in Nashville), a normal part of his weekly agenda. He picked up a candelabra, a set of salt and pepper shakers and that old copy of the U.S. Declaration of Independence.

He paid $2.48 for it.

I’ve seen Declarations of Independence in thrift stores before,” said Sparks. “This one was so beautiful I thought it was an engraving. I look for things that have quality to them. I decided to look into it further.”

Yep, what you are thinking is true. The copy happened to be one that John Quincy Adams commissioned William Stone to make in 1820. Stone finished printing just 200 copies in 1823. Only 35 of these documents were known to exist until Michael Sparks purchased number 36 at a freakin’ thrift store in Nashville, Tennessee for $2.48.

Read that again. Michael Sparks purchased one of the original copies of the Declaration of Independence for $2.48.

But wait, there’s more.

Although the original appraisal was for over $200,000, Sparks sold the artifact to a Utah investment firm for $477,650.00.

You read that right. $477,650.00.

Listen, I’m no math wizard, but I believe that’s a profit of $477,647.52 minus the auction house’s take and whatnot. Unbelievable.

And if Stan Caffy wasn’t feeling badly enough for giving away nearly half a million bucks, Michael Sparks left him with this zinger:

“I guess it just doesn’t pay to keep a clean house.”

Ouch. Unnecessary, Mike. Unnecessary.

So some guy on Reddit said he was pretty sure he saw Vincent Van Gogh on the subway in New York, posted a photo, and I’ll be damned if he wasn’t right. Forget the fact he’d be 165-years old now, that’s Van Gogh alright. Son of a bitch faked his own death and lives on like a boss in the Big Apple. Van Gogh, man.

“Move over Rafi, let the kids help!”

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — A 23-foot long python has swallowed a woman in central Indonesia, a village official said Saturday. The victim, 54-year-old Wa Tiba, went missing while checking her vegetable garden near her village on Muna island in Southeast Sulawesi province on Thursday evening, according to the village chief, Faris. On Friday, her family went to look for her at the garden but found only her belongings, including sandals and a flashlight, said Faris, who uses a single name. The family and villagers launched a search for the woman, and found the snake with a bloated belly about 35-yards from where her belongings were found. The villagers killed the snake and carried it to the village. “When they cut open the snake’s belly they found Tiba’s body still intact with all her clothes,” Faris said. “She was swallowed headfirst.”

First off, big thanks Faris for letting us know which end went in first. I guess that is better than the alternative though? Helluva way for Wa Tiba to go in any event, amirite? Getting eaten by a python while checking your garden on Muna Island in Southeast Sulawesi? Yikes. And to think you believe you’re having a bad day because little Bryce doesn’t want to go to Camp Happy Hopes for 2-weeks. Anyway, I guess the moral of the story is that when in Indonesia checking on your veggies, keep your head on a swivel.

PS- How in the hell does a 23-foot long python sneak up on somebody? Slithering quietly like a mofo I guess. Chills, man.

If you’re one of those blind, cynical bastards who can’t see that these elephants are saluting the humans that saved their baby you can go straight to hell. Clearly they’re giving thanks to the people who saved that little elephant. If I’ve said it once I’ve said it a thousand times – years from now we’re going to finally understand the intelligence of animals and we’re going to shake our head at how we once treated them. Animals, man. God bless ’em.