Archive for the ‘Amazing and Interesting Stories’ Category

A nurse fleeing California’s raging wildfires said “neigh” to leaving her pony behind. Lauren Mesaros decided to drive away from the Tubbs Fire flames Monday with her pony, Stardust, in the backseat, after realizing the trailer she had could only fit two of her three horses, SF Gate reported.

“He actually walked right into the car like a dog would,” Mesaros said.
The quick-acting woman lured her steed in the back of her 2001 Honda Accord. Her sister-in-law posted a Facebook photo of the pony filling up the backseat, his snout fogging up the window, with the caption: “When Lauren has to evacuate her pony from Santa Rosa but no transport is available—you do what you have to do.”

Hell yes you do what you have to do, and what Lauren Mesaros had to do was get Stardust out of harms way as soon as possible. Honestly, look at that face –  no way you could leave that pony behind. And Stardust hopped right into the backseat. He knew what was up. Anyway, kudos Lauren Mesaros. Kudos indeed.

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Everyone can fly, just not very well.

Passengers on a Bali-bound AirAsia flight say they were left terrified after their plane suddenly lost cabin pressure and dropped 20,000 feet shortly after take-off.

The flight from Perth to Bali with 145-people on board was forced to turn back only 25 minutes after take-off on Sunday morning. Flight QZ535 passengers described how they were ordered to adopt the brace position and use their oxygen masks, with some saying they thought they would die during the ordeal.

A technical problem caused the aircraft to plunge from 32,000 feet to 10,000 feet without warning. Passenger Claire skew told 7 News the passengers were terrified.

Wait. Your plane dropped from 32,000-feet to 10,000-feet and you thought you would die? That’s shocking.  I usually don’t start to panic until the plane gets to around 1000-feet. Even then, I wait to around 500-feet before I put down my peanuts and drink to start looking for the exit door. Come on, people of AirAsia Flight QZ535, have some poise. Geez.

PS- If you think I’d ever get on an airline called AirAsia you’re out of your gourd.  They probably inspect the planes once every 10-years.

So some bro named Tim Newton from Alaska woke up the other morning to an amazing sight – a family of lynx frolicking and rough-housing on his front porch. I have one reaction to this. I want a family of lynx frolicking and rough-housing on my front porch and I want it now!

[Click the pics, man!]

People Magazine: Mugsy the dog still lives in Severna Park, Md. Given the eerie events claimed by his owners, it’s surprising that Mugsy lives anywhere at all. On Oct. 27, they say, the 4-year-old Jack Russell terrier went to that cold, dread place that Edgar Allan Poe and Stephen King have written about—and he has lived to wag the tail.

Mugsy’s brush with the beyond began about 3 P.M., when he was hit by a car outside Viola Tiszl’s house, where her boyfriend, Glenn Maloney, was taking care of their two children. “I picked Mugsy up,” says Maloney, 30, a restaurant worker, “but he died in my arms.”

Maloney told the children—Megan, 5, and Kevin, 3—to stay in the house. He carried the body to a corner of the wooded lot, dug a hole he estimates was three feet deep and buried him. “I know a dead dog when I see one,” says Maloney. “This one was real dead. He was not breathing. He had no heartbeat.”

Later that evening, after Viola got home from her job at a cable TV company, they took the children—including Raymond, 8, Viola’s son by her ex-husband—to view the grave. Megan said a prayer. They planned to put a wooden cross on the spot next morning. At 5:30 A.M., 14 hours after Mugsy’s interment, Glenn and Viola were awakened by scratching at the door. Glenn went to the door. “I couldn’t believe it,” he says. What he saw was the not-so-late Mugsy, with his “little tail wagging at 90 mph.”

“Mugsy was covered with dirt,” says Viola, 27, “and his eyes were bloodshot.” Incredibly, he seemed quite chipper otherwise. For a few days after the night of the living dog, Zeus, Viola’s German shepherd, gave Mugsy a wide berth. As for Mugsy himself, he is back chasing squirrels, digging for moles and eating the brains of small children who wander into his yard.

OK, I made that last part about brains up. Not gonna lie.

Anyway, wow. Just wow. That’s some Stephen King shit right there. I believe I’d have kept a close eye on old Mugsy for a couple days. Zeus the German Shepherd knew what was up. He sensed there might a little zombie action going on. “Kept a wide berth” indeed.

And hey, that Glenn Maloney sure has some nerve, right? “I know a dead dog when I see one.” Uh, Glen? No, you don’t. You don’t know a dead dog when you see one. You know, because that wasn’t a dead dog you saw. Bottom line, dogs? Don’t fall asleep around Glen. You might wake up buried 3-feet deep in the corner of a wooded lot.

And is anyone surprised the dog that came back to life was a Jack Russell? Little dudes are badass. My Sparky has whipped a coyote and brought a Doberman to its knees once. Being buried alive is like a walk in the park to those guys.

PS – What are the odds Glenn Maloney resented Mugsy’s awesomeness and used the accident as an excuse to get rid of him? If so, the dude had no idea who he was dealing with. Jacks, man. Takes more than being buried alive to kill them. Tough as nails.

Brazil: Marília and Matheus Pieroni were just beginning their tented São Paulo wedding ceremony when, instead of the bride herself, a stray dog who had wandered in from the storm outside marched down the aisle to the bridal chorus. The canine was removed as the young couple entered, but just as they prepared to read their vows, he returned – and laid down to sleep right on top of Marília’s veil. Some women may have gone into full Bridezilla mode at this point, but Marília insisted the pup be welcomed as an official guest, which he certainly was. “It was a very pleasant surprise for me, because I love animals,” Marília told The Dodo. As the night wound down, the newlyweds searched for their surprise acquaintance, but he had crept away unnoticed. Determined to take him in as their very own, a city-wide search commenced for the stray that stole everyone’s hearts. He was found and joined the newlyweds as their newest family member.

I have nothing to add to that, because it is AWESOME.

Rough indeed.

Theodore Roosevelt was an American statesman, author, explorer, soldier, and naturalist, who served as the 26th President of the United States from 1901 to 1909. He was also either the most daring, toughest SOB who ever lived or he was crazy as a loon. You be the judge. What follows are 11 of the wildest things my man TR ever did.

HE GOT SHOT IN THE CHEST AND PROCEEDED TO GIVE A 90-MINUTE SPEECH

Yep. That’s the shirt.

In October of 1912, Roosevelt was on the campaign trail stumping for the Bull Moose Party. During a speech in Milwaukee, he was shot in the chest by some crank named John Flammang Schrank. Because our man Teddy deduced that he was not coughing up blood, he elected to continue his speech, because hell yes he did. We’re talking about a man very familiar with the effects of gunshot wounds. He’d already shot and killed pretty much every animal on the planet (more on that later) and had watched men bleed out on the battlefield during his military service. Then he had the would-be assassin brought to him and told him “It takes more than that to kill a Bull Moose.” Jesus that’s badass. Then, before he spoke, Roosevelt declared, “I was going to make a long speech, and there is a bullet… the bullet is in me now, so that I cannot make a very long speech, but I will try my best.” When people in the crowd questioned this he simply opened his jacket to show his blood-soaked shirt. 90-minutes later the speech ended.

And oh, by the way, Roosevelt carried the bullet in his chest for the rest of his life.

HE OVERCAME CHILDHOOD ILLNESS THROUGH SHEER FORCE OF WILL

When young Teddy Roosevelt would have asthma attacks, his father, Theodore Sr., would take him on carriage rides to force air into his lungs. And when young T.R.’s illnesses would prevent him from keeping up with other children his age, his father simply said to him: “You have the mind but you have not the body. You must make your body.” Young T.R.’s many health ailments would soon recede as he took up athletics, hiking, and hunting. Only Teddy R could fend off sickness without medicine and with only pure force of will. Teddy, man.

HE’S BASICALLY RESPONSIBLE FOR MODERN FOOTBALL AS WE KNOW IT

Football was once a bloody, brutal, potentially deadly sport. In 1904, there were 18 football related deaths and 159 serious injuries. On a related note, today’s players are wussy-like pansies of the highest order. Anywho, in order for the sport to survive, modern rules needed to be put in place. T.R. invited the head coaches of the top collegiate football teams to the White House on several occasions, strongly urging them to reconsider the rules of the game. He wrote at the time that his goal was not to emasculate the game – but simply to make it less lethal. By 1906, radical rule changes to the game of football were implemented.  “I believe in rough games and in rough, manly sports. I do not feel any particular sympathy for the person who gets battered about a good deal so long as it is not fatal.” Seems logical enough, amirite?

TEDDY AND HIS SON KILLED 512 ANIMALS IN ONE SAFARI

Listen, everyone knows I’m a big animal guy. No excuse for this bullshit. And turning an elephant’s foot into a trash can takes a special kind of crazy. If you ever take a tour of The Summer White House, Roosevelt’s Long Island home at Sagamore Hill, you will notice that it is full of such disgusting and sometimes wondrous animal trophies. Numerous elephant foot trash receptacles. A rhino foot pen holder. Bear and mountain lion rugs. Bison, moose, and deer wall ornaments. An elk hat rack. The North Room, at his estate on Long Island, is truly a spectacle to behold. Visit it. You will be amazed.

DURING HIS HONEYMOON HE SNUCK OUT TO CLIMB THE FREAKING MATTERHORN

Seriously. During his honeymoon. Dead serious. While a student at Harvard, Dr. Dudley Sargent had warned Roosevelt, who had been a sickly child that, because of a weak heart failure to lead a sedentary life could have fatal consequences. TR would have none of it. “Doctor, I’m going to do all the things you tell me not to do. If I’ve got to live the sort of life you have described, I don’t care how short it is.” A year after graduation, Roosevelt took time from his European honeymoon with wife Alice to scale the 15,000-foot Matterhorn.

HE ONCE STAYED UP 40-STRAIGHT HOURS TO WATCH 3-OUTLAWS HE’D CAPTURED

After his wife and mother died – on the same damn day – T.R. grieved in his own unique way: by leaving the city behind for the wild of the American West to become a cowboy, because what the hell else would you expect from him? He operated a cattle ranch in Little Missouri in the Dakotas for a few years, learning to ride, rope, and hunt. He worked alongside men who made him tougher, stating that they “took the snob out of him.” During his years in the West, he wrote several books on the subject, before returning home and running for office. Anyway, while living in North Dakota T.R. became a deputy sheriff, which by now should be in no way surprising. During this time, he once pursued three boat thieves through a frozen river. After capturing them, he personally took them to the town of Dickinson for trial rather than allow them to be hanged by vigilantes. On the journey, he watched them for 40-hours straight without sleep. Of course, he read Tolstoy to keep himself occupied. “I kept guard over the three prisoners, who were huddled into a sullen group some twenty yards off, just the right distance for the buckshot in the double-barrel.”  Bad. Ass.

HE HAD A HUGE TATTOO OF THE ROOSEVELT FAMILY CREST ON HIS CHEST

Yes kids, Teddy Roosevelt was the only US president who was inked up. That is all.

HE WENT ON AN UNCHARTED JOURNEY DOWN AN ANACONDA AND PIRANHA-INFESTED RIVER IN SOUTH AMERICA

Listen to this one – Accompanied by his son Kermit and famed explorer Colonel Candido Rondon, they set off on a journey down a river in South America known as the River of Doubt. Things were not going great, and by not going great I mean things were going horrifically wrong. They lost 5 of 7 canoes. They were in close vicinity to cannibalistic tribes. One sailor died in the rapids. Another was murdered by a crew member gone mad. Then, incredibly, things got worse. T.R. badly cut his leg trying cross the river in order to free two jammed canoes. His injury led to an infection, which led to a fever. Near death, he pleaded with his son to leave him behind to die, but Kermit refused. In the end, T.R. of course finished the journey, albeit 60-pounds lighter.

HE WAS BLINDED IN ONE EYE DURING A BOXING MATCH

Roosevelt’s love of boxing can be traced back to his Harvard roots, where he competed as a light heavyweight with moderate success. His exploits at Harvard were legendary. He continued to box he was the New York City Police Commissioner, the Governor of NY, and the President of the United States, because who the hell was going to tell Teddy Roosevelt he couldn’t? His last boxing match came in 1908, when a young military aide who had been invited to spar at the White House landed a devastating punch that dislocated Roosevelt’s left retina, leaving him mostly blind in that eye for life. Didn’t slow him down for a second.

HE GAVE HIS 9-YEAR OLD SON A WILD BADGER AS A PET. OH, AND ALSO A WILD HYENA

Annnnnd, there it is.

Because what else would Teddy Roosevelt give his son? Yessir, Archie was just 9-years old when his father decided it would be appropriate to give him a wild badger as a pet. Josiah the badger was supposedly quick to anger but had a “good heart” according to T.R. According to young Archie: “He bites legs sometimes, but he never bites faces.” Good to know! Other Roosevelt family pets included Bill the Lizard, a quintet guinea pigs named Admiral Dewey, Dr. Johnson, Bishop Doane, Fighting Bob Evans, and Father O’Grady, Maude the Pig, a blue macaw named Eli Yale, a hen Baron Spreckle, an owl because why not, a rabbit named Peter, Algonquin the family pony, and of course they had this – an actual wild hyena.

AT 58-YEARS OLD HE VOLUNTEERED TO LEAD A REGIMENT INTO WORLD WAR I

At the outbreak of World War I, the 58-year-old ex-president was eager to return to the front lines. If this surprises you then you haven’t been paying attention. Roosevelt vehemently lobbied President Woodrow Wilson to send him to France at the head of a 200,000-man expeditionary force. Around the country, supporters of the hero of San Juan Hill staged rallies of support, but Roosevelt would not get called to fight in the war that eventually claimed his son Quentin, who was killed in action when his plane was shot down over France in 1918. It’s a damn shame he was turned down, because I’m pretty sure the war would have ended a lot sooner.

So there ya go. And hey, I never even mentioned his exploits as leader of the legendary Rough Riders. Anyway, early 1900s? That was when men were men and Teddy Roosevelt was either batshit crazy or a bona-fide American badass. I’m thinking he was a little of the former and a lot of the latter.

In coaching there are a million things you do that have nothing to do with basketball, believe me. Here’s an example . . .

Last season after a game I got a Facebook message from the mother of a player at a school we’d just finished playing. She told me her mother had left her cell phone in the gym and wondered if I knew somebody who’d be at the school to look for it.

It was closing in on midnight and I knew nobody was there, so I told her I’d run up and look. Then, after giving me a general idea of where her mom had been sitting, she gave me her cell phone number so I could call and let her know if I found it.

The first thing I noticed when I walked into the gym was that the bleachers were all pushed in against the wall. Just when I was getting ready to try and find the controller to pull them back out, I had an idea – call the woman back and have her call her mother’s cell phone. Boom. I’d know right where the phone was located. Perfect plan, right?

Except it wasn’t.

When I called to explain my plan, the lady said sure, no problem. Then, after hanging up I went to mid-court and listened.

Nothing.

At that point my phone rang, I answered, and was told by the woman that her mother’s phone was on vibrate.

Well, hell.

Guess I’d have to pull the bleachers out and do a grid by grid search of the east lower bleachers of Donald. E. Anderson Gymnasium, fondly known as “The Jigger.”

But wait. I had another idea.

I called the woman, who I was really beginning to feel close to by this time,  back and asked her to call again and let it ring. My plan was to go the middle of the pushed-in bleachers, put my ear up against them, and listen.

Sure enough, I felt and heard a faint vibration coming from close to the area I’d been told they were sitting. The sound got louder as I slowly worked my way towards it. When I got to the spot where I believed it was, it happened to be under the top row, so I didn’t even have to pull the bleachers out. Boom! I just reached under and there it was. However, the following conversation then ensued:

Me, happily: “Got it.”

Female Caller: “Jimmy?”

Me, flummoxed: “No, Dave. Coach Shoemaker. I have your mom’s phone.”

Caller: I’m Jimmy’s mom. Who are you again and why do you have Jimmy’s phone?”

Me, still not getting it: “No, you called me to find your mom’s phone. I found it.”

I swear I was still wondering why I wasn’t getting thanked profusely for finding somebody’s mother’s phone.

Caller: “I never called you. I called Jimmy’s phone and you answered. What’s going on? Where’s Jimmy?” 

It was probably the faint buzzing I heard in the background that caused my mind to engage and realize what had happened. There were two lost cell phones, dumbass. Rather than try and explain the madness, I simply told Jimmy’s mom he’d left his cell phone at a basketball game, told her how he could get it back, and hung up. I’m 99% sure she still had no idea what the hell was going on.

Sure enough, I then listened again using the same method and found the original phone, also under the top row.

What are the odds? Incredible really.

I answered the phone and thank God the original, and correct, mother was on the other end. Whew. At that point I expected a third mother to be on the other end.

In the end, everyone got their phone back so everyone was happy. All’s well that ends well I guess?

Note: That Jimmy must have a hell of a game, and I’m not talking sports. Had chicks texting him all night.

I recently went on a short trip and spent a few days on the east coast, just hanging out at some beaches and visiting friends. It was nice to see some folks I haven’t seen in awhile, and with all the turmoil going on in our country it was nice to get away for awhile.

In addition, something happened on the way home that sort of restored my faith in humanity.

I didn’t really think ahead, and at one point I found myself coming up to a toll booth in Virginia with about $3.00 in change in my car. Oh, I had my ATM card and a couple credit cards, but the sign at the booth clearly said “CASH ONLY.” Since this toll was $2.00, I was good to go. However, I was worried about any more tolls on this particular turnpike. Once I got off I could hit an ATM and withdraw some cash for the rest of my trip.

With this in mind as I rolled up to the window and I saw an older African American woman working the booth. Then, the following conversation took place:

“Can you tell me if there are any more tolls up ahead? I don’t have any more cash.”

“Well, where are you headed?”

“I’m going to Ohio.”

See, what I didn’t understand was that she was thinking I was worried about tolls all the way home, not just on this turnpike. At the time, however, that didn’t occur to me. She was thinking about my whole trip, and I was just thinking about this turnpike. I could always hit up a ATM, but she thought I was broke and would be facing more tolls on the West Virginia Turnpike.

As I was still clueless regarding what was happening, she reached back, grabbed her purse and tried to hand me two twenty dollar bills. As she did she said this:

“Here honey. This should be enough to get you home.”

Yep. Here was a total stranger that I’d met 2-minutes ago trying to give me enough money for gas and tolls to get home. Incredible. I’m not sure what folks at toll booths earn by the hour, but $40 is $40. Hell, It just about brought tears to my eyes. And by “just about” I mean “it did.”

I then quickly explained my situation and told her to keep her money, and I also told her what I thought of her amazingly generous gesture.

She just smiled and waved me off, telling me to have a safe trip home. It wasn’t a big deal to her, but damn did it make me feel good.

And I wonder. If she tried to do it for me, how often did she actually do it for others?

Every teacher I know has experienced tough classes, those groups that were a little more difficult than others. One particular year I had a really troublesome group, and to make matters worse I had them the last period of the day. Any teacher will tell you that having a demanding group of kids at the end of the day is never a good combination.

Anyway, one year I had one such group, and when I say they were bad I mean bad. I had to constantly stay on top of them or the class would spiral into total chaos. There were one or two boys in particular that the rest of the class sort of fed off of, and it was just a difficult group to deal with all-around.

The year I had this particular class I was teaching Social Studies, and for the few years prior I’d been a part of our local Junior Achievement program, where local business men or women would come in and teach a class once a week for 8-weeks. They’d be given a lesson plan from the Junior Achievement folks and apply their knowledge and experience in teaching the class. As luck would have it, the Junior Achievement class was assigned to my last period.

Uh-oh.

Whatever poor schmuck was assigned to my class was in for a terrifyingly enlightening experience. Hell, I had some problems with this group and I rarely had problems with any class. There was simply no way this could end well.

Could the situation get any worse? Turns out it could. The businessman assigned to my class turned out to be . . . wait for it . . . my 75-year old retired father.

Dad had been the Purchasing Manager at the Mead Corporation for many years, he’d been asked to take part, and the woman running the program thought it would be nice to assign him to my class.

Oh boy. All I could envision was a bunch of 8th grade heathens running roughshod over my poor father. He’d never taught a day in his life and he’d just been handed the worst group of kids I’d ever had as an educator. I mean, I knew my Mom was a badass teacher, but Dad? I was worried.

As for Dad, I tried to warn him but he just sort of chuckled and shrugged it off. I also mentioned to my class that my father would be their Junior Achievement teacher, and they too sort of chuckled and shrugged it off. Man, did I dread seeing Dad walk through my classroom door on that first day. Poor guy was being fed to the lions and he had no idea.

Well, the day finally arrived and as I let Dad into my classroom the kids were, unsurprisingly, laughing and joking as I introduced him. I raised my voice at them and implored them to settle down. And then, my father began to speak . . .

He spoke quietly as he addressed the class. He never implored them to quiet down, never asked them to please pay attention. Incredibly, one by one the kids stopped talking, and one by one they slowly turned around, watched, and listened. There was something about his bearing, his attitude, that had the class in rapt attention.

And I swear to God he never raised his voice once.

Incredibly, this continued for 8-straight classes. Dad had them in the palm of his hand, man. They respected him simply because of the way he carried himself and the way he treated them. And boy, did I learn a lot from watching him.

Sure, teachers can learn a lot from in-services, education classes, and other resources. But I also think a lot of good teachers are simply born with that ability to relate, and to connect, with students. That first day I learned that my father was one of those people.

And I also learned to never, ever underestimate my Dad.

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

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

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

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

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

You need to settle down and take a seat.”

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

I was left to deal with the little dude myself.

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

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

 

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

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

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

Good times.

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

Life·Hack

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

See where this is going yet?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Hello, Blue Surf Hotel. Charlie speaking.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“You sure? You could reschedule ya know.”

Now I’m a little exasperated.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“This is the end. It’s all over.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Incredible.

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

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

Anyway, Juliane Koepcke? One badass lady.

 

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

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

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

But first, the highlights:

Here’s the entire game:

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

Read that last line again:

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

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

Fascinating stuff.

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

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

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

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

Pure comedy.

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Unbelievable really.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Good a plan as any, huh?

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

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

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

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

Damn. It.

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

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

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

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

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

Hopefully.

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

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

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

Nothing.

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

Nada.

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

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

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

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

“Hello?”

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

“Yes.”

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

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

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

Son. Of. A. Bitch.

 

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

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

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

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

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

Good God.

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

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

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

Kid looked like he was going about 80-mph.

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Helmets schmelmets.

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

Weee! Uh-oh.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He wasn’t bluffing.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

“Bring it on, bacon boy.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Westerberg, man.

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

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

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

Dude loves his tambourine.

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

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

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

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

E.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We have buried him with the n—–s.

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

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

Awesome.

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