Archive for the ‘Wussification of America’ Category

With all the stuff I’ve posted recently regarding The Wussification of America, I started thinking about all the things that happened to me as I was growing up and how I could have possibly survived my treacherous, unprotected childhood. I already touched on this in previous blogs entitled Killer Toys, Soft Kids and a Sobering Realization, Dodgeball, a Microcosm of Life and others, but I feel as if I need to expound on it a little more.

You know, because you guys deserve it.

Anyway, I started thinking about all the accidents I was involved in as a kid and how my parents and other family members reacted to them. I gotta say that, in retrospect, I’m damn lucky to be alive. Because when I got hurt, more often than not (and when I say more often than not I mean every time), I was told to suck it the hell up.

I know what you’re thinking, kids. Shoe, let’s hear some examples. Well, as always I’m hear for ya . . .

I don’t recall the following story but it’s been retold to me several times so don’t let any of my bloodline deny it, OK? It happened.

As the story goes, I was just a wee, innocent baby, the third child of my mom and dad. I had two evil loving older sisters who were disgusted thrilled to have a new little brother. One day my wonderful mother had put me down for a nap and had gone to do the dishes. She heard me crying for a bit, and then I’d become very quiet. Too quiet. So quiet, in fact, that mom became a little concerned. So, she went to check on her little angel. What she found was this . . .

My 5-year old sister, who I shall not name here (it was Sara), was carrying yours truly around by the neck, swinging me around like a lifeless Cabbage Patch Kid. Oh, and my face was blue. Hence the silence on my part. You know, because it’s hard to cry when your windpipe is being crushed. Mom saved me, but she never rushed me to the hospital or anything and I don’t think there were any long-term adverse effects on me.

I don’t think. Then again I do suffer from periodic blackouts and an intense fear of people touching my neck, so there’s that. Oh, and I’ve never turned my back on my sister since. By the way, she’s way meaner than she looks. Kidding. Love ya Sid.

Later on, when I was around 10-years old, I was climbing a tree in our front yard with my buddy Ted. I believe it was Halloween and we were climbing up there in order leap down and scare the bejesus out of passing Trick or Treaters. Seemed like a good idea at the time. So I was ahead of Ted, probably 20-feet off the ground, when I reached for a branch to pull myself up higher. Well, the branch snapped and I henceforth plummeted downward, past Ted, hurtling towards the ground.

I hit, and my mouth must have been open, tongue out, because when it slammed shut upon impact I bit a substantial sized hole in my tongue. And yes, it hurt like a son-of-a-bitch. It was dark, and I first thought I’d bitten my tongue completely in half. I ran into the house screaming my head off, blood gushing out of my mouth and in a state of panic. Mom and Pop were sitting on the couch, probably watching “My Three Sons” or something. Here’s the conversation that followed:

Me: “I bi my ‘ongue! I bi a hole in my ‘ongue! A-h-h-h-h-h-h! 

By the way, it’s hard to say the letter “t” without using your tongue. Try it.

Mom, not looking away from the TV: “Put some ice on it.”

Me: “Wh-a-a-a-a-a-a-a???”

Dad, eyes glued to the screen: “Shhhhhhhh! Ernie got into some trouble at school! His dad just found out! Put some ice on it.”

So, I put some ice on it and laid on the bed in my room in agony. I think maybe Dad came in during a commercial, took a look, and said I’d be fine. I might have even got a pat on the head out of it.

So, I walked around for a few weeks with a hole in my tongue until it finally grew back together. I can still feel a lump there though, swear to God.

I guess my point is that If this happened today the emergency squad would come and a team of doctors would be called to do reconstructive surgery to repair the damages. Back then? Nah. Put some ice on it.

Look closely and you can see the bloodstains.

Another time my buddy Billy and I were bored and decided to have a war with some old 45s my family had in the basement. For you youngsters out there, a 45 was a record, not a gun. It was round and had music on it. You see, you put it on a turntable and . . . never mind.

Anyway, we set up a couple forts with some old couch cushions and started firing these records at each other like frisbees. I happened to peek up at the wrong time and caught a record right over my right eye, and it put about a 2-inch gash right through my eyebrow. Did I mention it bled like hell? I looked like Mike Tyson had caught me with a right cross. Billy, horrified, ran home like a banshee while I ran upstairs looking for help, where I found Mom doing the dishes:

Me: “Mom, I cut my eye! MY EYE!!!”

Mom, grabbing a dishrag to wipe the blood away: “Oh, settle down. It’s not your eye. It’s above your eye. Put some ice on it.” 

Do you see a pattern here? By the way, I still have the scar in my eyebrow. Battle scar, baby.

Another time my friend Ted (yes, him again) and I found some empty beer bottles in a ditch and thought it would be a cool idea to act out a western bar fight. Hey, it looked harmless on TV.  We both got a couple bottles and started swinging, and about 5-seconds in Ted caught me with a shot right to the temple. Turns out those bottles are harder than they appear. I went down like a sack of potatoes, blacked out for a few seconds, and awoke to find Ted standing over me, laughing. Our “pretend” bar fight was over.

I never even told my parents. I just put some ice on it.

I used to spend a lot of time up at my Uncle Myrl’s house. He and Aunt Dorothy had 8-kids so there was always something going on. Everything revolved around sports. One summer day I was up there and we went outside to play some baseball. The problem was, we couldn’t find a baseball so cousin Kevin 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, where everyone was watching TV:

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

Mick: “Hey, you’re alive.”

Kevin: “Better get some ice on that.”

What can I say? We were a little more hardcore back then. Once I was in the woods with my cousins John, Mark and Martin when I leaned on a tree, embedding a humongous thorn in my upper arm. I mean, it was in deep. Hurt like heck too. I mentioned something about going home to get it looked at when somebody said, “Screw that, we’ll get it out.” Next thing I knew they’d heated up the tip of a bowie knife with a cigarette lighter and went to work. After 10-minutes of painful probing, the offending thorn was found and pulled out.

Couldn’t forego a fun hike through the woods because of a silly arm injury, now could we?

One when I was about 5 or 6 I 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, “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.

*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.

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.

And it wasn’t just my family. I remember a basketball game back in the day at our school. A player suffered a horrific arm injury, complete with a bone sticking out and everything. As he lay on the court writhing in pain, his dad came out for a look. Here’s the conversation that transpired:

Trainer: “This is bad. We need to get him to the hospital right away.”

Father: “Yeah, I’ll go get my truck.”

Trainer: “We have an ambulance outside. Let’s bring in the stretcher and get him out of here.”

Father: “Nah, I’ll take him. Leave the ambulance here. Somebody might get hurt.”

Kid: “Wait. What?”

Random fan: “Better get some ice on that!”

The father then helped the kid up, walked him to their Ford  F150, and went to the hospital. Screw the ambulance.

What can I say? It was a different time. Hell, every kid I knew back then has similar stories to tell. We knew our parents loved us. They just didn’t panic at the sight of a lot of little blood on their kid. They knew that by not running screaming to our aid we’d learn to handle our problems by ourself and, in turn, become more self-sufficient. They wanted us to be independent of them, not dependent on them.

So we got hurt. Suffered a little. Even bled.

And somehow, some way, we all survived.

We just put a little ice on it.


So a parent sent this note home with a student a couple weeks ago. Is this what it’s come to? Schools telling us what to put in lunches that our kids bring from home? WHAT THE HELL? I pray to God this is an isolated incident and not a harbinger* of things to come. Hey, if somebody wants to send Dunkin’ Doughnuts, greasy French fries and a side of processed poisonous toad meat to school with their kids then by God we should let ‘em. Shoot, one of the greatest days of my life was in 4th grade when I turned a lunch consisting of a peanut butter sandwich, a bag of chips and an apple into 12 Hostess Ho-Hos and a baggie of Cheez-Its. What can I say? I could trade up with the best of them. Good times. And hey, regarding Alia’s lunch up there, at least she had a pickle, amirite? That balances everything out.

*Yes, I used the word harbinger. I’m here to teach you. This isn’t your regular run-of-the-mill blog, kids. Read and learn.

PS: What are the odds dad prepared this lunch? It has dad written all over it.

PSS: Kudos to Mrs. Puckett for refusing to sign the note. U-S-A! U-S-A!

LAKE OSWEGO, Ore. — Lake Oswego High School has removed Mark Shoff from his head coaching position with the basketball team. School district spokeswoman Nancy Duin shared the following statement with KATU: “Mark Shoff will not be coaching the LOHS boys basketball team for the remainder of the season, following an investigation of concerns raised at last week’s Les Schwab Invitational Tournament. A search for a permanent head coach will be conducted in the spring. LOHS administration and staff are focused on supporting their student athletes and families during this transition, and on ensuring the inclusive and safe school environment that the Lake Oswego School District stands for.”  Shoff has been coaching the team for nearly 20 years. One of his former players is Kevin Love, currently a star with the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers. Today, Love’s parents told KATU they support Shoff. Stan and Karen Love said, “We feel like he got a raw deal.” They went on to say, “Our son wouldn’t be the player he is today without his high school basketball coach.”

Listen, I don’t condone hitting, pushing or otherwise getting physical with players. That said, this is nonsense. In the video below, Coach Shoff is seen “shoving” the player at the 1:00 mark. Seriously? THAT’S  a shove? But thank you, Lake Oswego School District, for protecting your student-athletes from this heinous monster that has coached for 20-years and helped get a player into the NBA. You must be proud. Good God almighty.

And the Wussification of America continues.

PS – My players will laugh out loud when they watch this.

Chillax kid, it’s a joke. And besides, funny is funny.


3e4r5tg6LEE COUNTY, FL - A security guard at a Fort Myers Walmart was caught on video tackling a suspected shoplifter and holding her down. That employee has since been fired for how he handled the situation. Investigators say the man who worked for Walmart loss prevention, saw the woman shoplifting. That worker says he tried to stop them and they took off running. The worker tackled the woman and held her down on the ground. We tracked down the woman’s aunt who said she’s angry about how the situation was handled. “I was devastated when I saw the video. He was a man and the way he pushed her down on the curb,” said Karen Jackson. Investigators say the security guard found nearly $200 dollars worth of stolen items on the woman who was arrested for shoplifting.

Let me get this straight. A security guard saw a woman shoplifting. She ran. He ran. He caught her. He then found $200.00 worth of stolen merchandise on her.

And he got fired? What the hell?

And hey, Karen Jackson, here’s a suggestion. I know you’re angry, but if your niece doesn’t want “pushed down on the curb” perhaps she should, you know, not be a dirty no-good thief.

The security guard was just doing his job.

And the Wussification of America continues . . .

Listen, I know this is a hard, vicious hit. That said, it’s clearly shoulder to shoulder. It’s not helmet to helmet. It’s totally and completely legal. It’s also football. Someday soon defenders will be required to let receivers catch the ball and run a few yards before tackling them. It’s sad really.

Hell, Powder Puff football is getting rougher. Check out the second video below for proof.

(MSN) It’s not uncommon for parents to butt in when it comes to their kids, playing time and sports. But few have taken it as far as Ervin Mears Jr., a New Jersey dad who filed a lawsuit seeking $40 million, as well as two varsity letters and championship jackets, after his 16-year-old son was booted from his school’s track team, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. According to the suit — which names the coach, athletic director and principal at Sterling Regional High School in Camden County, as well as the superintendent and school board — Mawusimensah Mears was “subjected to bullying and harassment” when he was kicked off the track team May 6. In the suit, Ervin Mears claims Mawusimensah “comes from a family of track winners” and was an “undefeated champ” in the 200-, 400-, and 800-meter runs as an eighth grader. However, in ninth grade, Ervin Mears and Sterling’s track coach reportedly disagreed over which races Mawusimensah, now a sophomore, should run. Afterward, Ervin Mears said, his son was barred from competing in meets. “If he doesn’t qualify, then the clock will say he’s not fast enough,” Mears told the Inquirer. “Let him get some exposure. … Participation in extracurricular activities is a right.” The school told Mears that unexcused absences from practice were the official reason for his son’s dismissal from the team, according to the Inquirer. Mears said that the absences were due to a leg injury and a death in the family. “I felt, in a way, disrespected,” Mawusimensah Mears said. “At practice, I work hard and I try to be the best athlete I can be, but at meet time, I didn’t get the respect that I thought I deserved.”

Hey Irvin Mears Jr., Listen up. I have three things to say to you:

  1. No parent has ever been more wrong with your statement that “participation in extracurricular activities is a right.” Participating in an extracurricular activity is a privilege, not a right. Hence the “extra” at the beginning.
  2. Success in junior high does not necessarily equate to success in high school. The reverse is also true. Kids mature at different speeds, some are almost fully grown in 8th grade, others are just starting. In addition, if a kid is not successful in junior high I dearly hope he doesn’t have a parent like you who blames everything on the coach, takes no personal responsibility and quits, thus never reaching his full potential.
  3. And Mawusimensah Mears, respect is earned, not handed to you because you think you deserved it. Quit leaning on daddy and grow up.

Just another example of a parent jumping in to save his kid when he could have used this whole thing as a learning experience. Good grief.

D-Rose in action.

D-Rose in action.

Derrek Rose plays in the NBA for the Chicago Bulls. He’s one helluva player, albeit one that is perceived as a bit of a, well, wimp. He currently holds the record for longest rehab/recovery from an ACL injury, which is 16-months. This year he’s already sat out games because of a sore ankle.

Derrick Rose also makes $95-million a year to play basketball, and yesterday he said this:

“I feel I’ve been managing myself pretty good. I know a lot of people get mad when they see me sit out. But I think a lot of people don’t understand that when I sit out, it’s not because of this year. I’m thinking about long term. I’m thinking about after I’m done with basketball, having graduations to go to, having meetings to go to.

I don’t want to be in my meetings all sore or be at my son’s graduation all sore just because of something I did in the past. Just learning and being smart.”

Good God. This guy is already perceived as being soft, and he says this? And he plays in Chicago, where folks like their athletes to be more like Mike Ditka and not Johnny Weir (look it up).

Here’s the thing. Fans who see a guy hauling in that kind of cash don’t wanna hear that he’s worrying about going to a graduation 10-years from now. They want him to earn his money now, and rightfully so. Hey, how can a 52-year old construction worker in Chicago possibly understand Derrick Rose’s line of thinking? Can HE take a day off because he’s worried about a business meeting in 2023?

Derrick, listen up. The greatest play hurt, even when they’re “all sore.” Michael Jordan would fight you rather than sit out a game. Same for Isiah Thomas. Hell, Rose’s teammate Joakim Noah plays hurt all the time. Yet you sit out games because you’re thinking about “having graduations to go to, having meetings to go to.

Somewhere, Derrick Rose, Bill Laimbeer is laughing at you.


I’ve written before about how we’ve all become soft, how we’ve become a nation of wimps. We’ve become “wussified” if you will. Well, after some exhaustive research by the crack staff here at Shoe: Untied we’ve unearthed some ads that actually prove we were a more hardened breed back then. To wit . . .

 Below we find some awesome playground equipment from back in the day. Trust me, if any of this stuff still exists it won’t for long. Look at all the metal and sharp edges and stuff! A kid could impale himself on that! Outrageous! Then again, wasn’t that sort of the point?


Here we have an advertisement extolling the virtues of the Volkswagen’s new sun roof. Look, you can sit your 3-year old on the roof! Woot! Good times. Seatbelts Schmeatbelts.


Everybody remembers Jarts! Sharp metal darts that weighed about 3-pounds each. What could possibly go wrong? But hey, if you got hit once you learned to get the hell out of the way, amirite?


That’s right damn it! We ate lard! And we liked it!


Below is a great example of how we were tougher back in my day. Look, even the doctors were recommending that we fire up a heater and inhale deeply. And most of them smoked Camels!


Look! back in my day we had darling pet monkeys, and of course one of America’s favorite pets, the adorable baby raccoon! Rabies shots sold separately.


And kids, in my day even Santa had no fear of silly diseases like cancer and heart disease! He recommended cigarettes and tobacco as Christmas gifts! We laughed at the threat of an early death!


So there you go. Irrefutable proof that we were not only tougher in my day, we were infinitely smarter.

So there.

The actual maze. Pick a direction and walk out, morons.

The actual maze. Pick a direction and walk out, morons.

Along with decorative gourds and leaves changing color, the corn maze is one of the great symbols of the fall season. Sometimes the agricultural labyrinths work too well, however. Consider the world’s largest corn maze, located in Dixon, California where a few customers have become so lost they’ve dialed 911.

The Dixon maze, run by Cool Patch Pumpkins, set a world record in 2007 at 40 acres, and it’s been expanding year by year to its current size of 63 acres. Matt Cooley, who has been running the maze for a dozen years or so, said the 911 calls might be a sign that the labyrinth is getting too big for its own good.

“In past years we’ve had people who have passed out in there,” he said. “Nothing like that this year though — just a bunch of people who have gotten confused and called 911.”

What the hell? People calling 911 because they’re lost in a corn maze? Isn’t that the whole point of a maze? To try and get you lost? And why not just pick a direction and keep walking? Newsflash: You’ll get out eventually.

And that last quote is a doozy: “In past years we’ve had people who have passed out in there.” From what? Fear? Panic attacks? I’m so confused.

You know, it’s no surprise that older folks don’t understand people today. How can men who stormed the beaches at Normandy comprehend adults calling 911 because they’re stuck in a corn maze?

Have a little poise, people. Good God.

IPSWICH, Mass. ( Ipswich principal is in hot water with some parents after he canceled the middle school’s Honors Night. David Fabrizio, principal of Ipswich Middle School, notified parents of his plan to eliminate the school’s Honors Night last week. “The Honors Night, which can be a great sense of pride for the recipients’ families, can also be devastating to a child who has worked extremely hard in a difficult class but who, despite growth, has not been able to maintain a high grade point average,” Fabrizio penned in his first letter to parents. Fabrizio also said he decided to make the change because academic success can be influenced by the amount of support a student receives at home and not all students receive the same level of emotional and academic support at home.Parents say they feel he is bringing down the education system; however, Fabrizio says he plans to include the honors ceremony with a previously planned end of the year assembly where students will be recognized in front of the entire student body.

Let me get this straight. The Honors Assembly was cancelled because it failed to include students who didn’t deserve to be honored? Say what? What is the incentive if everybody can go? Hey Principal Fabrizio, life is full of winners and losers. The harder you work the greater the reward. The sooner kids learn that fact the more successful, happier and fulfilled they’ll be.

I weep for our future.

Originally published on March 20th, 2013.

The internet is ablaze with outraged indignation because former NFL player Seth Joyner, now a youth league coach, berated his team on the sidelines the other day. Listen, I know I’m an old school kind of guy but for the life of me I can’t see anything wrong with this. Was he giving them hell? Yes. Was it warranted? Probably. For the love if God, have we become so thin-skinned that a coach can’t even raise his voice anymore? Am I wrong here? Is this that bad? I’d love your opinion.


We’ve all gone soft. There’s no doubt about it. I know I’ve written about The Wussification of America before, but come on, this is getting out of hand. Hell, I came across a softball game on TV last night and the players had on helmets with facemasks. And they were playing in the infield. Sweet Mother of God. Really? That’s what gloves are for, damn it. For Babe’s sake, the hitters in the Major Leagues look like Robocop with all the armor they’re wearing. Jeebus, man up.

I can think of several things that have changed since I was a kid back in the ’60s and early ’70s. Here are just a few off the top of my head:

For one thing, the rules of riding in a car were completely different. The first thing Dad did when he bought a new car was cut the seat belts out. Couldn’t have those damn things getting in the way. Shoot, I rode from southern Ohio to Colorado in the back window of a ’72 Pontiac Catalina Brougham. You know, up above the back seats. Just for kicks, Dad used to hit the breaks occasionally and send me flyin’. I guess kids just knew how to take a fall back then. I loved it.

Padding Schmadding.

In addition, the dashboards back then were made of metal, chrome and a lot of sharp pointy stuff. None of that padded crap for us. You had to pay attention and be ready to get those hands up to catch yourself. Of course, it helped that we didn’t have our faces buried in iPods and iPhones and whatnot. I was usually either pestering my sisters, looking out the window, or horror of horrors, reading a book.

We used to go to Reds games all the time. My Dad and Uncle Myrl would drive a pick-up with the bed filled with 6-8 kids. Keep in mind it was a 2-hour drive to The Natti from Bourneville, and it included weaving in and out of traffic on Columbia Parkway. How nobody fell out is beyond me, but if we had it would undoubtedly been attributed to stupidity on the kid’s part, not parental neglect or abuse. And trust me, those rides home afterwards (arriving home around 2:00 AM) could get pretty horrifying interesting. You know, throwing your cousin’s shoe at a passing car and whatnot. It’s also sort of surprising how cold it can get in the back of a pickup going 70 mph down a highway at 1:30 AM on a July morning.

Random thought. When I was a kid, any adult could beat your ass. Guy pumping gas, barber, neighbor lady, if you were misbehaving you got what was coming to you. End of story. In addition, nobody cared or complained.

Also, we had toys that could literally kill you. I once stabbed a cousin with a Pick-Up-Stick and he nearly bled to death. Hey, I think he’d cheated or something so he deserved it. I also shot my best friend with a BB Gun, but that’s neither here nor there. I aimed for his leg so it’s cool.

Greatest. Game. Ever.

And what about the greatest game in the history of games? The game that is currently outlawed in all 50-states and most civilized countries of the world? I’m talkin’ ’bout JARTS people. Seriously,  on December 19, 1988, all lawn darts were banned from sale in the United States by the Consumer Product Safety Commission. What a bunch of weinies. That picture to your right says it all. Apparently 4-kids were killed by Jarts over a period of several years. Just a thought – anybody ever hear of parental guidance? Sigh.

If you’re too young to remember, Jarts was a simple game. The players stood about 20-feet apart, and each had a large hula hoop on the ground beside them. In each hand, the players had the key to the game, the jart. The jart was large (about 10″ long) plastic-winged dart with a heavy, pointed metal end. The idea was to lob the dart underhand at the opponents target, which was the hula hoop looking thing. The jart was so heavy on the pointed end it would stick right into the ground. Anything wrong with that mental image? Not in my day kids, but let’s just say you had to pay attention because that jart would impale the living hell out of you if you were caught unawares. But hey, that was part of the fun.

The legendary Clackers.

Anybody remember Clackers? Clackers were essentially two acrylic balls on each end of a string, with a loop in the center. You began slowly clacking the balls together until you got to really fast speeds. Like many toys from the 70s, these were deemed dangerous and taken off the market. According to my research, they were banned because they were being used by gangs as weapons. Maybe I have a sick sense of humor but I find that hilarious. Imagine this: “Bro, that dude’s goin’ down. Go get my Clackers.”

This doesn’t look dangerous at all, now does it? Have fun kids!

I also recall something called Creepy Crawlers, which was several kinds of awesome. You had these little metal molds that you’d plug in and they’d heat up to like 1000 degrees. You’d then pour this disgusting, smelly stuff called Gobbledy Goop into it. This would turn the goop into spiders, snakes, bugs, snails, whatever the mold’s shape resembled. Bottom-line, I must have burned my fingers a 1000 times on those molds. Not only that, if you accidentally left them on they’d start smoking, which I did on purpose just to watch. Told you it was awesome.

You know, when I really think about this and add it all up – taking out the seatbelts, slamming on the brakes when I was in the back window, riding in the back of a pick-up down Columbia Parkway, the games I was given, that time he asked me to check an electric fence to see if it was live . . . it all clearly adds up to one chilling, undeniable fact:

My Dad was trying to kill me.

Well, that certainly alters my perception of the ideallic Southern Ohio upbringing I’ve always told people about.

Sobering realization. Sobering realization indeed.

Originally published on March 1st, 2013.

The following was sent to Vanderbilt students yesterday after “Massacre UMass” stickers were passed out for this week’s football game.fsdhhju

From: Micah Jeanine Parks [micah.j.parks@VANDERBILT.EDU]
Sent: Thursday, September 11, 2014 4:34 PM
Subject: Vanderbilt vs. UMass Football Weekend

We would like to apologize for any offense that could have been caused by the “Massacre UMass” phrase used to promote the football game on Saturday against the University of Massachusetts. The phrase was not intended to insinuate anything violent or inconsiderate. The stickers will no longer be a part of this week’s promotion.

Is this what it’s come to? Really? We can’t use the word “massacre” anymore because we fear people may take it literally? Well, if we can’t use “massacre” I guess we can’t use the following:

Beat - Promotes domestic violence! Thanks Ray Rice!

Slaughter – Hurts cow’s feelings! Unacceptable!

Conquered – Hitler was a dictator! Inappropriate!

Crushed – Offensive to ice everywhere!

Good Lord. It’s a football game, people. Let’s get it together, America!

Remember when you were a kid and the more dangerous something was the more fun it became? Isn’t that why we climbed trees or balanced on a fence post or rode our bikes really fast down hills?

Of course it was.

Kids today have zero idea what they’re missing, mainly because everyone is worried they might get hurt. Back in the day we had some amazing, fun toys, and they were fun because they could kill you.


I guess our parents realized that getting hurt was a learning experience. Hey, if you’re dumb enough to shoot yourself with that pellet gun it’s your fault. Be more careful next time, dummy.

But back to the toys. Here are a few of my favorite toys from the past that could cause extreme pain or yes, even death if used improperly. Hey kids, be sure and read the directions!


Note: The names  in the following story have been changed to protect the parties involved. Except mine of course. I’m pretty sure the statute of limitations has passed by now.

If the story I’m about to recount had taken place in 2006 or even 1996 everyone involved would have probably been fired. But this was a different time, a different place. This was 1985, and the place was Greenfield, Ohio. Read on …


LIHUE, HawaiiA judge sentenced a Hawaii man to one year of probation and a $200 fine forPajarito_09 making his son walk a mile home from school as a form of discipline. Judge Kathleen Watanabe called the punishment “old-school” and no longer appropriate, the Garden Island newspaper reported Thursday. Robert Demond of Kilauea said he picked up his son from school and asked about a matter that had been brought to his attention. When the son didn’t respond, Demond made him walk home to think about his actions.

Sweet Jesus. A kid gets in trouble at school, his dad picks him up from school and asks him about it, kid doesn’t respond and is forced to walk home. Then what happens? Dad gets in trouble, is fined and put on probation.

All for disciplining his son, old school style.

Good Lord. Wake up America!

As many of you know I taught Physical Education for a few years. For the record, I was never a certified PE teacher. I ended up there because I’d been an Athletic Director for 9-years and switched over to PE due to problems with a new boss, but that’s a blog for another day (and what a blog it will be). I’m actually certified to teach grades 1-8 and had a minor in History. Anyway, my few years in the gym were interesting ones to put it mildly.

I was constantly getting these ridiculous emails from the National Association for Sport and Physical Education. They had all these strongly worded recommendations (backed by studies!) that stated I should avoid “games of competition.” Wait. What? See, they didn’t want any winners and losers, and by not wanting winners and losers I mean not wanting losers. You know, because if you lose a game of Chinese Freeze Tag your feelings might get hurt, your self-esteem will plummet and you’ll end up living in a cardboard box on the mean streets of Humboldt, Ohio. And as you know, in real life there’s no competition so why learn to deal with it when you’re young? That doesn’t make any sense, except in the sense that it makes absolutely perfect sense. With this in mind I get a visit from my principal one day. I don’t think her heart was really in it but she felt required to tell me that the game of dodgeball was being phased out in schools across the country and I should probably think about doing the same. The fun-haters at the forefront of the anti-dodgeball movement would like you to believe that it puts too much pressure on the psyche of our youth, that it somehow damages a student’s self-esteem to engage in such a “violent” sport, that getting knocked out in a game is harmful to a child’s well-being and, indeed, their fragile egos.

To this I say poppycock, balderdash, and whatever other cool name for bullshit I can think of. Do you really think kids want to engage in non-competitive activities like dancing, aerobics, and Tae Bo? Boy, that sounds fun, no? Woohoo! We’re gonna learn the salsa today kids!

Good Lord.

Kids hate that crap. On the other hand, any sport that involves throwing stuff at each other is a big hit. Pun intended. That’s why dodgeball is so beloved and why we used to play it so often. And by the way, none of this “no head shots” malarkey. In our world not only were head shots allowed, they were encouraged.

Kids love games where there’s an element of danger involved. That’s why we climbed trees when we were little, right? Because the danger of falling made it fun? And why did we ride our bikes down big hills? Because it was scary!

And so, I have a little secret for all the psycho-babbling eggheads who want to destroy the single greatest game ever invented. Life is competitive. It’s sometimes hard. You get hit. You get back up. You figure out how to stay alive and advance. Sometimes you have to be aggressive and have a killer instinct to be successful.

Just like in dodgeball.

Things got so bad a few years ago that I had to change the name of the game we played in my classes. Since we were strongly recommended not to play dodgeball, we played a game called Avoid the Sphere. The rules were, uh, strikingly similar to dodgeball . . . O.K., they were exactly the same. Anyway, technically it wasn’t dodgeball. Actual conversation between our principal and one of my 3rd graders:

Principal: “What did you guys play in gym today? Was that dodgeball?”

Jackson: “No, maam. We don’t play dodgeball. We played Avoid the Sphere.”

Attaboy Jackson.

As in life, dodgeball players fall into several distinct groups. As you read these, try and picture people you know in life and what group they’d fit into. Here they are:

The Attackers

  • The Attackers are the aggressive go-getters, the players who are always on the move. They’re hard to hit, hate to lose, and are always on the offensive. I love The Attackers. Think they’ll be successful? You betcha.

The Slackers

  • The Slackers are the ones who drift to the back, don’t really try to get out of the way, basically just hope they get put out early so they can go stand on the sidelines and watch the game, and life, pass them by. The Slackers ask to go to the bathroom a lot.

The Sneaks

  • These are the guys who like to sneak around the side and nail you in the back. They’ll lay low, creep slowly up without drawing attention to themselves, and before you know it you’re drilled right in back of the head. Know anybody like that in your life? That’s what I thought. This technique usually works early on in the game but as the numbers dwindle the laws of nature take over and one of The Attackers takes them out in a violent manner. That’s always satisfying to watch.

The Plotters

  • Ah, The Plotters. Always scheming and planning, always looking to make alliances, only to turn on their friends in the end for their own advancement in the game. As The O’Jays said it best, they’ll smile in your face, but all the time they want to take your place. Once again, The Plotters are a reflection of the real world.

The Invisibles

  • The Invisibles are exactly what you think they are. I’ve seen a player run right by an Invisible and go after someone else without evening noticing. Invisibles remind me of an animal that stands still to avoid being eaten. Once they move or start running they’re dead meat. Just as in your life or workplace, you have to watch out for The Invisibles.

The Cheaters

  • And finally, The Cheaters. The Cheaters will flat out ignore getting hit if you’re not watching. They’ll swear on their mother’s life that a ball that blasted them in the temple missed them completely. Cheaters will do anything to win and would rather climb a tree and lie than stay on the ground and tell the truth. Cheaters can ruin it for everybody, tearing the very fabric of the world’s greatest game.

1I’m retired now, but I’m keeping dodgeball alive by once again running our school-wide tourney in early May. The tournament is complete with painted faces, team t-shirts, an announcer who does introductions, the works. We have team names like the Head Shots and The Knockouts. The gym gets so loud you can’t hear a blistering shot to the earhole. The kids, teachers (and yes, the principal) love it. We’re fighting the good fight. Dodgeball may be dying in schools across America but we’re keeping it alive here in southern Ohio.

You know, to eliminate Dodgeball would be a disaster for school kids everywhere. Hell, it should be an Olympic sport. Dodgeball teaches life lessons every single day you play it.

So here’s to Dodgeball, Avoid the Sphere, or whatever you want to call it.

It’s a microcosm of life.

Originally published on September 17th, 2012.

You read that right. Here’s the story . . .


Settle down, kids. Fun is not permitted.

HeraldNews - Last Saturday’s Division 3 South boys’ basketball final between Westport and Cardinal Spellman at UMass Boston might be best remembered for a most conspicuous incident which occurred before the teams even tipped off. Just after public address announcer Joe Rocha had started to introduce the Spellman starters, South tourney director Karen McDonald completed a quick march to the scorer’s table, grabbed the microphone, and spoke directly to some of the younger Westport fans in the bleachers directly behind the Wildcat bench. These fans had, when the Spellman intro started, turned their backs to the court, one of those orchestrated moves (like holding up newspapers) fans do. McDonald obviously saw it as a violation of the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association’s fan sportsmanship policy, one that is read over the PA before games. In what seemed like an order in the guise of a request, McDonald asked the fans to turn back around.

Well, for the love of God what is this administrator thinking? Students can’t turn their backs during introductions? They can’t hold up newspapers anymore? Can’t boo the opponent?

What’s next? Will total silence be required during free throw attempts?

Sadly, the Wussification of America continues . . .

Just outside Slate Mills.

My friends, it’s true. I dismissed and ignored all warnings from the meteorologists and ventured into what some have called certain death.

I went outside today.

I risked my life for you. And yes, I took my trusty and loyal friend Sparky with me, as he insisted he join me on my trek into Winter Hell, The Land of the Frozen. I know, I know, schools have closed, buildings have shut down, all in the name of saving us from ourselves. How could I think of doing such a thing?

Because I had to see for myself, and yes, bring back a full report for you, my loyal following.

I felt as if I just might have a slight chance to survive because I had the foresight to buy a car fully equipped with a heater. I also decided, after much meditation, to wear something that is often referred to as a coat. I topped off my ensemble with headgear that is fur-lined and ear-flapped, and I dug into my closet and found some odd looking hand-shaped creations apparently invented years ago to warm your appendages in case of these exact situations.

I was ready.

Sparky was hesitant, but nevertheless braved the ice and wind to make the short journey to the car. And no, Sparky will not wear sweaters or booties. He has expressed to me that, although he hates the cold and rain, he refuses to be reduced to dressing as humans do. He is a proud dog, and such attire is well beneath him. No mohair sweaters for The Spark.

We soldiered on.

As we made our way through the frozen wasteland of Ross County, the first thing I noticed was the absence of dead bodies along the roadway. How could this be? All news reports indicated the end of the world, the winter apocalypse, death to all ignorant enough to venture out.

Then, as I entered the town of Chillicothe, I witnessed another incredible sight – human beings walking on the streets! And get this – they were apparently going about their usual business! I sat stunned at a stoplight, watching these fools carrying on as if nothing was wrong. How dare they move about freely, laughing in the face of peril?

For the love of God, one insane lady was even walking her dog!

To conclude my report, I shall say that is indeed safe to leave your homes, citizens of Ross County. Just be sure and try and find the required and aforementioned garments that are apparently created for such catastrophic occasions, and then wear them.

With wit, cunning, and courage, you too can survive.

Note: But seriously, have you ever seen people become so unglued over a little cold weather?  Listen, I get not wanting your kid to stand in below freezing temperatures to wait for the bus, but don’t we go a little overboard? And by a little I mean a lot? Busses still have heaters, do they not? And when is the last time we found a frozen 5th grader laying in a ditch around here?

Then again, maybe I’m being a little cold. Hey-O! See what I did there?

I got a call from a coaching friend of mine today. He lives in Buffalo. He asked what time I practiced and I told him that all the schools were closed down here due to the weather. Then we had this discussion:

“Oh, you had a lot of snow?”

“No, it’s just really cold. Like 3 degrees.”

Silence. Then a low guttural chuckling, followed by what can only be described as a guffaw. That was followed by more laughter that led to a coughing fit, and I only half-hoped he’d choke to death. Then . . .

“Seriously, why did you close?”


Another example of horrible, careless parenting. Someone report these people to the authorities! For the love of God, this baby looks like he’s having fun!

CANON CITY, Colorado.

A six year old boy is suspended from school in Canon City for kissing a classmate on the hand.

His mother says it’s a crush and the two children like each other. But the school is calling it something else; sexual harassment.

First grader Hunter Yelton told us he loves science and phys-ed. Also, that he has a crush on a girl at school, who likes him back. It may sound innocent enough, but at six years old Hunter now has ‘sexual harassment’ on his school record.

“It was during class, yeah. We were doing reading group and I leaned over and kissed her on the hand. That’s what happened,” said Hunter Yelton.

Because of this behavior, Hunter was at home on Monday instead of at school.

“They sent me to the office, fair and square. I did something wrong and I feel sorry,” he said.

“She was fine with it, they are ‘boyfriend and girlfriend’. The other children saw it and went to the teacher. That was the day I had the meeting with the principal, where she first said ‘sexual harassment’. This is taking it to an extreme that doesn’t need to be met with a six year old. Now my son is asking questions – what is sex mommy? That should not ever be said, sex. Not in a sentence with a six year old,” said Hunters’ mom, Jennifer Saunders.

The superintendent at School District RE-1 says any school record remains within the district. And Hunters’ actions fit the school policy description of ‘sexual harassment’

The school district also says Hunters’ parents may believe that kissing the girl at school is overall acceptable- but that’s where the school disagrees. They’re hoping the suspension changes Hunter’s behavior.

Hunter is supposed to return to school in Canon City on Tuesday.

How dare you, Hunter Yelton! HOW DARE YOU!  Are you serious? Kissing your girl on the hand? And in reading group? Sacrilege! Outrageous! Get that kid sexual harassment counseling! The fact that he doesn’t know what sex is, let alone harassment, is beside the point!

And how about those little narcs that went to the teacher? You know what I used to tell my kindergartners – snitches wind up in ditches with stitches. You best remember that, Canon City, Colorado first-graders.

But seriously, Hunter’s taking it like a man, huh? “They sent me to the office, fair and square” he says.  Gotta respect that.

Nice work, School District RE-1. That’s a well thought out and fair act of discipline if I ever heard one. Way to keep a level head and not over-react. Keep up the good work. We must teach these sexual perverts a lesson!

On a related note, I would have never made it past the first week of pre-school if this type of behavior was a suspendable offense at Twin Elementary.

Noah in 10-years.

When her 4-year-old son Noah was reduced to tears by the thought of wearing glasses, Lindsey Fisher decided to turn to an unlikely source for help: Facebook.  To show Noah he was not alone, Fisher created a Facebook group called “Glasses for Noah.”

On the Facebook page Fisher wrote that Noah didn’t want to wear glasses. “He keeps telling us that ‘everyone will laugh at him.'” To help her son, Fisher made a request: “Show Noah how awesome glasses really are by posting some pictures for him to see you in your glasses!” It turns out plenty of people wanted to show off their spectacles. Thousands posted photos to the page with supportive messages for Noah. The page has currently been liked by more than 4,000 people. Lindsey Fisher’s father and Noah’s grandfather, Bannister Eads, told that all the photos have made Noah much happier about wearing glasses.

“He saw all these people wearing glasses and I think he thought, ‘Well it’s not so bad after all.’ It helped him,” said Eads.

On Friday, Fisher posted a message on the group wall thanking supporters for posting photos.

“Noah is LOVING them!!” wrote Fisher. “Y’all are amazing and we would give each of you a hug if we could!!!” She said now Noah no longer cries when wearing glasses and is even comfortable wearing them to school. “He puts them on after his nap at school. He’s used to it now,” said Eads, who also wears glasses. “He’s like me. He can see now.”

Hey. Psssst. Noah. You’d better sit down, I have upsetting news for you. Easy now, settle down. No, no, don’t cry. You haven’t even heard what I’m about to say. You alright now? Wait, don’t scream for your mommy, just listen up. You ready? OK, here goes . . .

See, before your mommy stepped in to try and save your fragile little ego only a few of your friends were laughing at you. Now? Well, the whole country is laughing at you and 99% of the kids in the country think you’re a spoiled little pansy.

Have a nice day!

PS: Lindsey Fisher could have saved a lot of time by showing him these pictures:

(Source) — Yes, “How to Fight a Baby” is getting a lot of attention — the clip has been viewed over half a million times since McInnes uploaded it to YouTube on Monday. Some viewers are calling it “cute” and “hilarious” and others have described it as disturbing and irresponsible. “[Department of Family and Children Services] needs to watch this video and I am sure the child would be taken away from this idiot and his idiot wife,” someone commented on YouTube. “Yes, I know they’re just playing…but it still doesn’t make it any less unsettling to see a baby being tossed and thrown; no matter how safe he is (it’s a baby, not a toy),” said another. A well-known child safety expert and author on the topic (who preferred not to have her name used) tells Yahoo Shine that she feels the video should be taken down from YouTube immediately. “I find it extremely disturbing.” She adds that not only is throwing and flipping an infant highly dangerous — even on a bed covered with pillows — she’s deeply worried that a copycat might push the mock-violent antics one step further. The American Humane Association warns that, although rare, tossing and playing too roughly with infants can cause shaken baby syndrome, and result in brain damage.

Oh, for the love of God. Really? People are mad about this? “Extremely disturbing”? “Unsettling?” He’s tossing the baby gently onto a pile of pillows and blankets! In addition, the baby is enjoying it.

I have two words to say about this video. It’s funny. Get a life, people!

Bugs Bunny, noted bully.

You’ve all read about the national initiative on bullying and all the recent cases that led up to it. It seems everyone’s being bullied these days. Bullying at school, bullying in the workplace, bullying in the National Football League for cryin’ out loud.

Am I nuts or did bullying used to be limited to children? When I was young I don’t recall any grown men or women being bullied. Now? Everyone can be bullied. It’s a national epidemic.

Because of all these nationally publicized cases of bullying we now have a National Bullying Initiative, aimed at creating laws to stop the madness. So, at the risk of going against the grain and being politically incorrect, please indulge me for a few minutes and let’s chat. If I offend you in any way please take no offense, as this isn’t intended to hurt your feelings or turn you into a victim.

To start, don’t we already have laws that protect people from being harassed, intimidated, and terrorized? And isn’t it a waste of time and money to try and pass laws that are attempting to turn people into saints? Children and adults are always going to make fun of each other on one level or another. That’s never going to change. And you can’t have laws protecting hurt feelings, for God’s sake.

It seems a lot of this seems to have stemmed from a few celebrated cases in which a young man or woman committed suicide and bullying was singled out as the cause.  But the truth is, there is no scientific evidence that bullying causes suicide. The fact is that people commit suicide because of mental illness. It is a treatable problem and preventable outcome. Bullying, on the other hand, is defined as “an ongoing pattern of intimidation by a child or teenager over others who have less power.” Committing suicide is almost always the end result of a much bigger problem, and almost never results from being bullied. In fact, from what I’ve read suicide is rarely if ever caused by a single factor like breaking up with a girlfriend or boyfriend, getting bad grades or being bullied (or cyber-bullied, another problem that’s been grossly exaggerated). It’s much more complicated than that.

It’s sort of like back in the 80’s, when rock lyrics were being blamed for a few well-publicized suicides. Listen, if your child kills himself the problem goes much deeper than the fact that he was listening to some Ozzy Osbourne records.

I bet every single person reading this was “bullied” in one form or another while growing up. Sure, we were upset, we may have cried or been afraid on some level. Still we persevered, and did so without mom and dad running to our defense, trying to get the “bully” arrested, or Good forbid, try and take our own life.

Amazing, really. How did we make it without their help?

I’m going to throw out a wild idea here, but don’t you think that maybe, just maybe, if we raised our children to be more independent and self-confident they might be able to deal with their problems a little more effectively? Just a thought.

Sometimes, life isn’t easy. There isn’t always going to be an adult around to protect us, no “anti-bullying” law to magically save us from harm. Often times we have to face our problems on our own and deal with the consequences. By facing our problems head-on, we grow and earn that precious self-esteem that adults nowadays seem to want to simply hand over to us.

So why are we teaching are kids to run away from adversity?