Archive for the ‘Amazing and Interesting Stories’ Category

I’m crying. You’re also crying.

Over the years I’ve told several stories that involved Jigger. Jigger was my brother-in-law and my principal, but most of all he was my friend. Whether it was going on vacations together, working together, or just hanging out, something interesting was always happening with him. If you don’t believe me, simply type “Jigger” into that search box on the left and hit enter. This site is full of Jigger stories.

For some reason this latest memory popped into my head the other day, and I’ve no idea why. It was the late 80s and Sis, Jigger, Twana and I had decided to take a camping trip through upstate New York.

Were we campers? We were not. Did we have camping gear? Nah. But hey, when Jigger got an idea in his head everyone sort of got swept up in the wave of his personality. It was that strong.

So, we went to K-Mart, bought some cheap gear and set out into the great unknown. The very first night we found a little campground somewhere south of Niagara Falls, parked our cars, set up or cheap little pup tents far away from anyone else, and built a fire. We were good to go.

Or so we thought.

It started around 10:00 that night as we were sitting around in our lawn chairs, having some adult beverages and cooking some hot dogs over the campfire. Somewhere, far in the distance, we heard a strange noise. It was sort of a faint wail, a cry of pain or distress from what sounded like an animal. We listened for a minute and dismissed it as being too far away to be a threat.

We chatted a few more minutes, then Jigger held up his hand to quiet everyone down, cocked his head, and said, “Is that thing getting closer?”

The answer was yes.

As we listened, the noise from the creature was indeed drawing closer and closer.

I guess we all stood up when the thing was maybe 100-yards out, wondering what the hell we were supposed to do. Find a weapon? Climb a tree? Run?

It turned out we didn’t have time for any of those, because before we could act it was upon us. There, bursting out of the woods, was an animal clearly possessed. It was a raccoon, and something was definitely wrong. Maybe it had rabies or something but that beast was crazed, man. It was running awkwardly, snapping its jaws and still screaming like a damn demented forest goblin.

The raccoon did a couple circles around the fire, sometimes on its hind legs, as we all darted around, high-stepping and screaming in panic, looking for somewhere to hide before the freak leaped up, ripped a vein out of one of our necks and killed us.

Then it turned, ran directly through the fire, and disappeared into the woods on the other side.

We all stood there in shock, staring at the smoke, sparks and flames the demon left in its wake as the wailing noises slowly faded into the night.

After a bit of time we started laughing, amazed at what had happened and how we’d reacted to it. And yes, we all decided it might be a good idea to sleep in the cars that night.

Those $12.99 K-Mart pup tents just didn’t seem like a good idea at the time.

PS- The next morning I woke up to the sounds of Jigger frying bacon over the campfire and singing “Rocky Raccoon” by The Beatles, because of course he was. 

Bonus raccoon gif because raccoons are cool.

A gang leader in Brazil failed in a bid to escape jail disguised as his 19-year-old daughter.

Officials released photos showing Clauvino da Silva wearing a silicone mask, a long wig, glasses, jeans, and a pink T-shirt with donuts on it after being caught out. His escape attempt was thwarted when prison guards saw him acting nervously, the Associated Press reported.

In a video also released by Rio de Janeiro’s state secretary of prison administration, da Silva takes off the disguise and some of the clothes before saying his real name. The 42-year-old, also known as Baixinho, or “Shorty,” is serving a 73-year sentence for drug trafficking.

The plan was to just to walk out through the main door and leave his daughter in his cell.

Gotta give ol’ Shorty an A for effort I guess? Dude almost pulled it off except not really. It’s hard to slip out of the slammer looking like a mannequin though. And hey, how about those parenting skills? Little guy was planning on vamoosing and leaving his daughter in his cell. That’s hardcore. Father of the Year candidate for sure. Brazilian Drug Lords, man. Always pulling some sort of shenanigans.

PS- You know he thought the t-shirt with the donuts was just the thing to put his ensemble over the top.

UPDATE: Shorty is dead. He was found in his cell, the victim of an apparent suicide.

NRK Radio- A 1-year-old explorer made an epic journey from Norway to Canada, covering 2,176-miles in 76-days. That young explorer was an Arctic fox. 

Scientists were left “speechless” by the fox’s journey, Greenland’s Sermitsiaq newspaper reports. Researchers from Norway’s Polar Institute had been tracking the young female fox on a GPS, according to BBC News. They freed her into the wild on the east cost of Spitsbergen, the main island of the Svalbard archipelago of Norway.

The fox started her journey in March, at just under a year old. She walked nearly 1,000-miles from the archipelago near the North Pole to Greenland. She completed this leg in just 21 days, then began the second part of her trek.

The fox then walked about 1,242-miles farther to Canada’s Ellesmere Island. The whole trek took her just 76-days, averaging about 28.4-miles a day. Some days, however, the ambitious fox walked over 96-miles.

No fox has been recorded traveling that far, that fast before.

Eva Fuglei, a research scientists at the Polar Institute, spoke to Norway’s NRK public broadcaster about the fox’s unlikely journey. “We couldn’t believe our eyes at first,” she said. “We were quite thunderstruck.”

This fox went much further than most others tracked before – it just shows the exceptional capacity of the little creatures. Researchers think the fox curled up in the snow to sit out the bad weather.

The fox could have traveled even farther, but scientists stopped tracking her when she reached Canada in February, because her transmitter stopped working, the Polar Institute said. 

96-miles in a day? That’s .67 miles per minute for a 20-pound animal the size of my dog Sparky. Thunderstruck indeed. And little dude did it by crossing large portions of the frozen freaking ocean, man. That’s intense. I wonder where she was going? Had to have some sort of purpose. You don’t make that journey without good reason. And it’s sad that her transmitter stopped working. We have no idea where she is now. Hell, she could be chillin’ on the beach on Prince Rupert Island for all we know. Animals, man. They never cease to amaze me.

Just kidding. He looks awful. Read on . . .

Siberia- A man allegedly found alive in a bear’s den a month after the beast attacked him and dragged him to its lair survived by drinking his own urine, according to reports in Russia. Named only as Alexander, the victim is said to have been severely injured and close to death when hunting dogs found him in Russia’s remote Tuva region. The emaciated man was reportedly rushed to hospital where medics discovered he’d broken his spine after being set upon by the brown bear.

He is said to have told doctors that the predator had overpowered him  – then tossed him in its den where it kept him for a month. According to the Siberian Times, Alexander explained: “The bear preserved me as food for later. I drank my own urine to survive.”

A group of Russian hunters found Alexander after their dogs barked and refused to move on from a bear’s den they passed in the forest, it’s reported. When the hunters checked inside the lair they apparently saw what they believed to be a “human mummy” – until they realized he was alive.

Listen, I was fully prepared to pooh-pooh Alexander’s story. After all, no website can pooh-pooh a story like Shoe: Untied, amirite? That is, until I saw that photo. That, my friends, is a man who’s been kept in a bear’s den for 30-days. No way to fake that. End of argument.

Note: The Siberian Times sounds like a great newspaper to work for, huh? Just reporting on people freezing to death, bear attacks and vodka overdoses on the daily.

Note 2: Is anyone surprised who saved Alexander? Dogs, because of course they did. Cats would have waited until the bear ate him and feasted on the scraps. 

Note 3: There are now reports this is indeed a hoax. Why does somebody always have to try and ruin a good story?

Some headlines just write themselves, ya know?

Alabama investigators are currently searching for a man who allegedly kept an “attack squirrel” inside his apartment and fed the caged animal methamphetamine in order to maintain its aggressive behavior.

Since Mickey Paulk’s Athens apartment was searched on Monday morning, the caged squirrel has been released into the wild, Limestone County Sheriff’s Office’s Public Information Officer Stephen Young confirms to PEOPLE.

According to Young, officers responded to a report on Monday at approximately 8:30 a.m. that Paulk, 35, was allegedly keeping an “attack squirrel” caged inside his home and feeding it meth.

After obtaining a search warrant, Young says animal control and narcotics officers searched the home, located in the 21000 block of Piney Chapel Road, where they seized a number of illegal items, including the squirrel, meth, drug paraphernalia, ammunition and body armor.

First of all, I’m shocked that Mickey Paulk was in possession of illegal items. Dude looks like a model citizen. Secondly, owning an attack squirrel seems like an odd choice, amirite? Seems like a mountain goat, a saltwater crocodile, or a honey badger would be better choices. Maybe a komodo dragon. Anywho, glad the little tree rat is free to roam the forest terrorizing forest creatures and whatnot. Those meth hangovers are a bitch.

PS- When I was in college at Ohio State guy I know had an attack rat. He’d turn that rodent loose and it would come straight at you. Horrifying.

Leeds- A great-grandad fulfilled one final sentimental journey when the hearse that was carrying his coffin stopped off at a Burger King restaurant so that he could buy one last Bacon Double Cheeseburger.

Seventy-one-year-old Leonard Durkin passed away as a result of heart failure on 28 May following a lengthy illness. Prior to his death, he requested to be taken to Burger King because he visited the restaurant regularly with his son Peter after his wife – Peter’s mother – died two years ago.

The Bacon Double Cheeseburger was Leonard’s order every time, and he confided to his son that once he was gone he’d like to be taken one last time.

So that is exactly what they did.

The hearse drove through the drive-thru of the Burger King on Elland Road, Leeds, and the burger was placed on top of the coffin for Leonard’s journey to his final resting place.

The jokes didn’t stop there, either. As his coffin passed through at his crematorium service, it did so to the strains of Johnny Cash’s ‘Ring of Fire’.

Man, this opens up a whole new can of worms, amirite? I’m trying to think what drive-thru I want to go through when I kick the bucket. Hopefully it’s a restaurant that hasn’t even opened yet but will in say, 2054 or thereabouts. If I’m not that lucky though I think maybe I’d like to cruise through the Mako Mike’s parking lot and have Angie run me out a Cajun Chicken & Shrimp Pasta. Hell, the smell alone just might wake me up. Seriously though, just toss a box of Cheez-Its and a jar of Cheez Whiz in my coffin and I’ll be good to go.

PS- Am I the only one that finds he died of heart failure a little ironic?

PPS- That “Ring of Fire” touch topped the whole thing off, huh? Icing on the cake.

Newshub – Dressed only in his underwear, an Australian man has heroically chased down a man who was attempting to rob his house.

Kym Ambrook was asleep in his Adelaide home on Monday, when the sound of floorboards creaking woke him up at 4am. When he went to investigate the noise, he found a home intruder. Despite being underdressed, Ambrook chased the man out of his home and yelled for his neighbours to help. ”I was out there in all me glory – I did notice I run faster naked,” he said through laughter.

Once the men had trapped the invader, Ambrook sprinted back home to grab a defense. He returned armed with a didgeridoo and a torch and held the robber until the authorities arrived. 

Nothing quite says batshit crazy like a didgeridoo and a torch, huh? That’s a fight you aren’t winning. You can come at me with an uzi, a shotgun, a machete, even a bazooka, but if you come at me with a didgeridoo and a torch I’m tucking tail and getting out of Dodge. I mean, what was Kym Ambrook going to do, beat the guy to a pulp and then set him on fire? I’m thinking that yes, he was. Best think twice before you try and rob Kym Ambrook. Australians, man.

PS- If you heard the name Kym Ambrook you’d never expect that bro, would you? Looks more like a Bubba Jackson or something.

PPS- If you don’t think I’m ordering a didgeridoo online today you’re out of your gourd.

Holy . . .

Raccoon Dogs are terrorizing a village in central England after escaping from their pen in Nottinghamshire, according to news reports.

Raccoon dogs, also called Tanukis, look like a combination of a dog and a raccoon, but are neither dog nor raccoon, however they are part of the canid family, which includes wolves and dogs.

Shortly after escaping their pen, one of the loose dogs was photographed and reportedly attacked a goat.

Police are warning residents to watch out for the animals and to stay away from them if spotted because they are “potentially dangerous if approached as they are not domesticated,” Nottinghamshire police officials said, according to CNN.

Nottinghamshire resident Mandy Marsh told the Independent that one of the escaped animals attacked her pet goat and pony.

“I heard such a terrifying noise like I had never heard before. It was screaming. We ran out and this animal – we now know it’s a raccoon dog – was trying to attack our goat, Marsh said.

“The raccoon dog was trying to kill it. It was absolutely crazy. It was hissing and screaming and snarling. It was going absolutely mad.”

Sweet Mother of God that’s a horrific looking beast. Raccoon Dog? Really? Hell, this opens up a whole new world. What’s next, Wolf Cows? Hummingbats? The mind reels. And you have to bring your A Game, goat. And any self-respecting billy would have head-butted the hell out of that Raccoon Dog. Embarrassing really.

PS- My parents had a couple miniature burrows named Pancho and Lefty that were not to be trifled with. A couple coyotes made the mistake of harassing Pancho and got kicked into oblivion.

PPS- Sparky would tear that Raccoon Dog to shreds.

 

AOL- Footage of a dutiful beluga whale returning an expensive gadget to its rightful human owner is making waves online.

Strangely enough, iPhone owner Ina Mansika and her friends were actually searching for the specific whale, known as Angel — which attained celebrity status weeks ago as a suspected Russian navy spy when it turned up in open waters around Hammerfest, Norway, wearing a harness — when the encounter occurred.

Angel hasn’t been behaving like a typical Beluga as she’s been letting people scratch her nose and chin and generally behaving like she’s having s great time.

Mansika told AOL that she and her pals laid down on a dock for a better chance to see the infamous Beluga and “hopefully get the chance to pat it” when her phone slipped out of her jacket pocket and into the ocean.

Seconds later, the considerate sea creature dove down and appeared at the surface of the water with the gadget in its mouth, to the shock of onlookers.

Check out Angel. First she defects from the damn communists and now she’s returning her fan’s cellphones, all the while with a smile on her face. If I’ve said it once I’ve said it a million times – in 100-years we’ll know stuff about the intelligence of animals that would astonish us if we knew it today. Amazing. Animals, man.

Here’s why.

May 8 (UPI) — A Chinese doctor shared video of the unusual cause of a patient’s ear discomfort — a spider building a nest inside his head.

The video filmed at a hospital in Yangzhou, Jiangsu province, shows the inside of an ear belonging to a patient identified by the surname Li.

Li came into the hospital complaining of discomfort in his ear and the doctor looked inside to discover a small spider was building a nest inside the man’s ear canal.

The doctor said the spider was too small and fast to be grabbed using tools, but hospital staff were able to use water to flush the arachnid out of the patient’s ear.

Not much to see here, just a freakin’ spider building a nest inside a man’s head. Next time you feel a little tingle in your old earhole don’t worry about it. It’s probably just a spider setting up shop in there. No biggie. Now excuse me while I go spray some Industrial Maximum Strength Raid in my ears.

PS- What the hell, man? Don’t they have Q-Tips in China?

Paris, TX- A runaway cow led Texas police on a miles-long chase through city streets and was caught on video hurdling over a pedestrian.

The Paris Police Department said the young cow made a run for it while being loaded into a sale barn and police were called to help chase the runaway animal.

A police dashboard camera recorded the cow running at a high speed through the streets, and running directly into a pedestrian. The man was knocked to the ground, and the cow jumped over him. The man wasn’t seriously injured, police said.

Police said the cow managed to give officers the slip and was on the loose for more than 24-hours before it was hit by a car and killed.

Well, that article certainly took a dark turn at the end, didn’t it? It went from being a heartwarming story of a fearless young cow escaping slaughter to lead a life on the run, roaming the fields and plowing over unsuspecting pedestrians to a story about a cow’s grisly death at the hands of a family in a 2003 Subaru Outback. That’s way too sad, man. Anyway, I know that 24-hours was worth it. Sleep well, young cow. Sleep well.

PS- Watch the video. Dude gets absolutely trucked.

Gotta respect the commitment.

Awesome.

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. Anywho, 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 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, pointing to my head: “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.