Monthly Archives: October 2013

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween, everyone! (Tahoe Paradise)

Happy Halloween, everyone! (Tahoe Paradise)

One of my favorite holidays—and by far the spookiest of them all (with the exception of maybe Valentine’s Day, which horrifies nearly every man I know)—is finally upon us: Halloween!

All over the nation, children are anxiously awaiting the final school bell so they can rush home, get into their costumes and start canvassing neighborhoods for candy and other delicious treats.

Incidentally, anyone planning to hand out fruit still has time to grab some candy and to avoid the tricks that will undoubtedly come once kids realize you gave them apples or oranges.

Rather than writing one of my usual posts—which would surely involve Halloween safety tips for trick-or-treaters and their parents (most of which are widely known by now)—I thought it might be nice to try something a little different. Here are some random facts about Halloween for your reading pleasure—with some commentary tossed in, just for the hell of it—followed by an original poem about All Hallows Eve by Richard Anderson.

I hope you enjoy them and that you all have a fun—and safe—Halloween!

JUST THE HALLOWEEN FACTS… AND OTHER SPOOKY TRIVIA

Ireland is believed to be the birthplace of Halloween and the tradition of Jack-O-Lanterns comes from an old Celtic tale that goes something like this: Jack was a stingy fellow who on several occasions managed to trick the Devil. As a result, he was forbidden entrance into either Heaven or Hell and was instead condemned to wander the Earth—waving his lantern to lead other people away from their paths.

All Hallows Eve is here... and the ghouls and goblins are coming! (Paul Harper)

All Hallows Eve is here… and the ghouls and goblins are coming! (Paul Harper)

In Great Britain, Jack-O-Lanterns were traditionally carved from turnips. When the practice reached America, however—where turnips were much more expensive—cheaper pumpkins were used instead.

Although some Christians I know refuse to celebrate Halloween because of its connection to paganism, the truth is that it celebrates the Christian holiday of All Hallows Eve and precedes another Christian holiday, All Saints Day, which takes place tomorrow.

Samhainophobia is the fear of Halloween. Try saying that five times quickly!

Halloween was once a festival that celebrated the boundaries between life and death. For this reason, the symbolic colors of orange (strength, endurance) and black (death, darkness) have been used to commemorate it.

Trick-or-treating has roots in the medieval practice of souling when the poor would go door-to-door to pray for souls in exchange for food. And these days, companies that produce Halloween-related items—from costumes to candy—could not be happier. Each year, candy makers collect roughly $6 billion, while costumes alone produce an annual gross of roughly $3 billion!

After Christmas, Halloween is the second highest grossing commercial holiday.

The word witch comes from the Old English word wicce, which loosely translated means “wise woman.” In fact, the Wiccan were once highly respected people—not old, wart-faced hags who ride brooms and keep black cats as their familiars.

According to tradition, a person who wears their clothes inside out and walks backwards on Halloween is sure to see a witch at midnight. Give it a try!

Some of the signs for recognizing a werewolf include tattoos, a long middle finger, unibrows (i.e. one extended eyebrow instead of two distinct ones) and hairy palms. Damn it! Some of my friends might be werewolves!

Kids rejoice! Dentists, too! (Parent Dish)

Kids rejoice! Dentists, too! (Parent Dish)

The mask that terrified moviegoers in the Halloween films—worn, of course, by the crazed killer Michael Myers—was actually a cheap Star Trek mask of William Shatner, who incidentally was honored by its appearance in the horror franchise.

The largest Halloween party was in New Orleans and included more than 17,000 revelers; the largest pumpkin was grown by Norm Craven in 1993 and weighed a whopping 836 pounds!

Traditionally in America, the top three Halloween costumes for children are Princess, Witch and Spider-Man. Of course, expect to see Miley Cyrus and Kim Kardashian costumes this year, which are guaranteed to be even more frightening! 

HALLOWEEN

A gentle breeze rustling the dry cornstalks.

A sound is heard, a goblin walks.

A harvest moon suffers a black cat’s cry.

Oh’ do the witches fly!

Bonfire catches a pumpkins gleem.

Rejoice, it’s Halloween!

Richard Anderson, 1998

From Urban Legend to Reality

Urban legend or Halloween threat? (Persephone Magazine)

Urban legend or Halloween threat? (Persephone Magazine)

Wikipedia—the most reputable of all websites (and I am being extremely facetious, by the way)—defines an urban legend as “a form of modern folklore consisting of stories that may or may not have been believed by their tellers to be true.”

And I’m sure we are all familiar with some of the more popular urban legends: gang members who drive with their high beams on, wait for a passing motorist to flash them and then hunt down and murder them as part of their gang initiation; stomachs that explode after eating Pop Rocks and drinking carbonated soda; serial killers hiding in the back seats of cars; escaped murderers with hooks instead of hands; and so on and so forth.

Hell, there was even a string of mediocre movies about urban legends. The 1998 slasher film Urban Legend was the best of the bunch, and even that wasn’t all that great.

Nevertheless, urban legends are all around us and continue to spread through each generation—who incidentally continue this trend by creating urban legends of their own.

Personally, I find urban legends extremely interesting, even though I know most—if not all—of them are horseshit… or at least they used to be.

I thought only Cracker Jacks came with a prize! (KDKA)

I thought only Cracker Jacks came with a prize! (KDKA)

One of the most frightening urban legends from my childhood centers around one of my favorite holidays—and one many of us will celebrate tomorrow: Halloween.

I am, of course, talking about trick-or-treaters receiving apples—or candy—with razor blades hidden inside.

As a child, I didn’t worry too much about razor blades in apples because honestly, I never ate them anyway. People who hand out fruit mean well, but no one I knew ever cared for it. And we always considered playing a trick on them so the following year they would consider giving kids what they really wanted: junk food and other sweets to rot out their teeth.

Every Halloween, this same urban legend would rise to the surface, usually as warnings from parents: “Make sure you don’t eat anything until we check it for razor blades and such.” Kids didn’t always listen, of course, but many of us heard this every year.

Despite these warnings, though, I never knew anyone or heard of anyone who actually found a razor blade in their candy… at least not until recently.

Last Sunday, children in Scottdale, Pennsylvania went trick-or-treating—most likely since Halloween falls so late in the week—and among them was Matthew Hernley, a 12-year-old who seems to love the holiday as much as I do.

Michael and his mother Lydia Nelson made the rounds and collected tons of candy, but when they got home and checked it, they found something that turned an urban legend into reality. In one of the packages of M&M candies that Michael received, they found what authorities have described as a “razor-like blade.” Unfortunately, Michael could not remember which house the candy came from, but this would matter little once his mom contacted M&M/Mars, the company that produces the popular candy that “melts in your mouth, not in your hands.”

Watch the little ones tomorrow and be safe! (Bucks Happening)

Watch the little ones tomorrow and be safe! (Bucks Happening)

According to the people at M&M/Mars, the blade likely slipped into the bag during the manufacturing process—there were no visible signs of tampering, so this seems legitimate enough. Of course, this doesn’t change the fact that other bags of M&M’s could also contain sharp objects… and kids all over the place will be ingesting thousands of the tasty treats soon—if they aren’t already, that is.

The obvious lesson to be learned from this situation is to always check your candy and treats before you start eating them. However, I might add that since this urban legend came true, it’s totally possible that others will, too.

So before you flash your lights at someone blinding you with their high beams or decide to wash down those Pop Rocks with an ice-cold Coke, consider whether you might be the next victim of an urban legend come true.

And tomorrow when you’re trick-or-treating with your children, remember what almost happened to “M&M Michael” and take the necessary precautions. Halloween is supposed to be fun, but that doesn’t mean it can’t also be safe.

Pop-Up Post: Tribute to Miley

Miley and Muttley Cyrus: Separated at birth? (E! Online/Heather Signs)

Miley and Muttley Cyrus: Separated at birth? (E! Online/Heather Signs)

After endless criticism over her new, sexually charged image—and her extreme departure from Hannah Montana and her Disney days—it seems as if Miley Cyrus is finally getting the honor and recognition she deserves… and she didn’t even have to twerk to get it.

Paying tribute to Cyrus—who seems to have her tongue out in every picture taken of her recently—is another creature known for her wagging tongue: Groupie, a Miniature Dachshund who just joined 19 other animals as a finalist in PetSmart’s Monster Cute Contest—basically a Halloween costume contest for dogs, cats and other pets.

Grand prize is $10,000 and if Groupie wins, her family plans to donate the money to local animal shelters and the Humane Society. Groupie is also competing for a $25,000 prize in Petco’s Make a Scene Photo Contest. And judging from her cute costume—as well as her uncanny resemblance to that bitch from the “Wrecking Ball” video (to use a canine term)—Groupie has a real shot at the money.

If she does happen to win, though, I hope no one forces her to twerk in celebration. To me, that would certainly qualify as animal cruelty… even though dressing Groupie as Miley Cyrus—Muttley Cyrus, actually—isn’t too far off!

Pop-Up Post: Biblical Breakfast

The Bible: It's What's for Dinner (raheelq)

The Bible: It’s What’s for Dinner (raheelq)

“Your words were found and I ate them, and Your words became for me a joy and the delight of my heart; For I have been called by Your name, O LORD God of hosts.”  – Jeremiah 15:16

When Christians talk about being filled with the Holy Spirit, I’m pretty sure they mean it figuratively. Not so for 22-year-old Jeremy Anderson of Oklahoma City, who seemed ready to make this literal until the police intervened.

Jeremy Anderson: Bible eater? (KFOR-TV 4)

Jeremy Anderson: Bible eater? (KFOR-TV 4)

Cops arrived on the scene last Wednesday to find Anderson—without a shirt—tossing objects from his apartment and shouting random things. Officers would later say it seemed as if he was “clearly out of touch with reality.”

Police approached the apartment—whose door had been kicked off its hinges—and attempted to engage Anderson, but he started tossing glass items at them and almost hit a few officers in the process. One officer attempted to use a Taser on Anderson, but he missed and all the seemingly disturbed man could do was laugh and claim Tasers wouldn’t hurt him anyway.

Despite their best efforts at negotiation, Anderson would hear nothing of it and continued to rant and rave—all the while tossing more household objects at them. More officers soon arrived to help, but when Anderson saw them, all he could do was urge the cops to lay down their weapons so they could engage him in fisticuffs instead.

The cops obviously rejected Anderson’s request and moved into phase two: using a key they obtained from the housing authority to quietly enter the apartment through its back door. One of the officers finally “got a bead” on Anderson and managed to hit him with a Taser, but all he did was rip off the probes and continue cursing at the police.

Oddly enough, this was the exact moment when a fire broke out and quickly spread through Anderson’s unit. Officers quickly entered the apartment in full riot gear and, after hitting Anderson with a Taser repeatedly, were finally able to drag him from the burning building and arrest him.

Anderson's newly remodeled apartment (KFOR-TV 4)

Anderson’s newly remodeled apartment (KFOR-TV 4)

According to the latest reports, Anderson claimed that all he was doing was remodeling the apartment. And when he was asked what started the mysterious fire that burned out his apartment, he said it began while he was—get this—“cooking the Bible.” He currently resides in the Oklahoma County jail.

Now I can’t be sure what Anderson was planning to do with a cooked Bible, but I can only assume his plan was to eat God’s word. Of course, he sounds like a raving lunatic, so it’s possible he had no plan at all… aside from remodeling his place and eating a hearty lunch!

Parents in Peril

The Fresh Prince had it right... or did he? (Spontaneous Life)

The Fresh Prince had it right… or did he? (Spontaneous Life)

By now, we all realize the dangers our children face. There are active shooters in schools, bullies, drugs, sex predators and countless other threats to our kids’ lives, and it seems as if no one… and no where… is safe anymore.

Unfortunately, contemporary life isn’t all that safe for parents, either, who face unique dangers of their own. Some are self-inflicted, of course, and some even involve their own children. One thing is for certain, though: parents all over the world are in peril.

See for yourself.

Mitchell Simon (WRGT-TV)

Mitchell Simon (WRGT-TV)

Last Wednesday evening, 16-year-old Mitchell Simon of Liberty Township, Ohio—an honor student with no criminal record—posted this status on his Facebook page: “I’m so pissed at everything I’m boutta be wreckless.” A few hours later, he tied his parents’ bedroom door shut, lit a fire outside it, stole his father’s car and took off.

Fortunately, Mitchell’s parents survived the unexpected attack, but they were both very much the worse for wear. Perry Simon, 50, had to jump from the second floor window and broke both of his legs. And Sharon Simon, 56, escaped with the help of deputies and fire crews, but inhaled quite a bit of smoke in the process. They were both transported to a nearby hospital and should fully recover.

Their son, on the other hand, won’t be so lucky. He has been charged with one count of aggravated arson and two counts of attempted murder. Butler County Sheriff Richard Jones is even planning to press for him to be tried as an adult, especially since detailed and premeditated murder plans were recovered from his home—complete with drawings and diagrams, as I understand. If convicted, Mitchell could be going away for a long, long time… or worse, since capital punishment is still legal in Ohio.

Burning down the Simon house (Jennifer Edwards Baker/The Cincinnati Enquirer)

Burning down the Simon house (Jennifer Edwards Baker/The Cincinnati Enquirer)

If you’re noticing a pattern in the media of seemingly well-balanced, innocent teenagers suddenly snapping, that’s because it continues to grow with each passing day. I’m not sure what—or who—is to blame, but something tells me parents aren’t always as guiltless as they seem. Consider this next story from Bogota, Colombia.

Margarita de Jesus Zapata Moreno, 45—a mother of 14 with one hell of a long name—was arrested this week for allegedly prostituting 12 of her daughters and selling their virginity to older men for as little as $160 a pop… pun intended.

Although Zapata denies the accusations, police believe that she started selling each daughter as soon as they turned 12 years old. One of her daughters was even impregnated and gave birth to a baby boy when she was only 14!

It’s pretty sick, if you ask me. And who among us would really be surprised if one of these abused girls suddenly lashed out and started killing people? In the ongoing debate over nature versus nurturewhich focuses on whether we gain our physical and behavioral traits genetically or through our personal life experiences—I tend to lean towards nurture. Yes, there are things we get genetically from our parents and relatives—pattern baldness, down’s syndrome and a host of others—but I still believe the people we become is largely determined by the experiences we have and the lessons we learn from others.

No viva Zapata... ella es mala! (National Police of Colombia/EPA/Landov)

No viva Zapata… ella es mala! (National Police of Colombia/EPA/Landov)

Parents, of course, are at the top of this list—those who are actually involved in their children’s lives, I mean. We all know there are deadbeats all over the place, and when I hear about them, I am reminded of a quote I heard some time ago: “Any fool can be a father, but it takes a real man to be a dad.” The same could apply to parents in general, if you ask me—any fool can be a parent, but it takes a good person to be a mom or a dad.

This seems reasonable, but what happens when the parents are good people, only they aren’t allowed to be with their children?

The Soza family of Miami, Florida has been asking themselves this same question recently. Last week, Ronald Soza took his kids—Cesia, 17, and Ronald Jr., 14—to school and dropped them off as he had so many times before. Only this time when he returned home, he had some unexpected visitors: U.S. Immigration agents.

You see, Ronald is an undocumented immigrant from Nicaragua who has been living with another family—the Sandigos—while he works to support his family. Unfortunately, his wife and the kids’ mother—Marisela—was deported more than five years ago. Ronald will be joining her soon.

Cesia and Ronald Jr. (CNN Mexico)

Cesia and Ronald Jr. (CNN Mexico)

Now two kids who are American citizensboth having been born in this country and doomed to “mixed status” with their parents, who could be deported and taken from them at any moment—are all alone and may face foster care and even separation from one another. For now, at least, they remain with the Sandigo family in Miami. I only hope they can stay there until our government finally addresses immigration issues and finds a realistic solution to situations like theirs.

In 1989—as part of D.J. Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince—rapper and actor Will Smith won a Grammy for the single “Parents Just Don’t Understand.” Today—and because of people like Zapata, the virginity peddler—this still rings true, but I can say this: parents are starting to understand a lot more. And given the dangers that await them in the world—even those coming from within their own families—the timing couldn’t be better… and the need could not be greater, either.

Please Stay Tuned

Computer problems always appear at the most inopportune times (Maki)

Computer problems always appear at the most inopportune times (Maki)

Due to some unforeseen technical difficulties, a new post on Gnostic Bent may be unavailable today. Please stay tuned as we hope to return bug-free tomorrow.

It’s also a pretty nice Saturday. Who wants to spend it writing or reading blogs anyway?

Points at self with both thumbs.

Not this guy!

Catch you on the flip side, folks…

Son of Freaky Friday

My title in no way reflects the Lindsay Lohan-Jamie Lee Curtis remake, I assure you (Walt Disney Pictures)

My title in no way reflects the Lindsay Lohan-Jamie Lee Curtis remake, I assure you (Walt Disney Pictures)

There is something about Fridays that brings more freaky news than any other day of the week. Granted, not all of these stories actually occur on Friday—that’s just when the media chooses to share them with the world. I’m sure there is a reason for this, but honestly, I don’t care to hear it since Fridays offer me more blogging material than I could ever hope for. Today was saturated with strange, bizarre and unsettling news stories, so take a gander at some of the tales that caught my eye.

And thank whichever god you believe in that we don’t have to worry about Freaky Friday for another week!

CEDAR LAKE, INDIANA

Travis Lechien is a 31-year-old chemistry teacher who used to work at Hanover Central High School. Unfortunately, he doesn’t work there any longer since he obviously cares little for the law.

From class to ass (Getty Images)

From class to ass (Getty Images)

According to Lake County prosecutors—who prepared and filed a probable cause affidavit against Lechien recently—the young teacher not only had students visit his home for drinking and hookah-smoking on several occasions, but also took a group of students to a strip club to celebrate one of them turning 18 years old.

Needless to say, Lechien now faces three counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor and will appear in court next month. It’s pretty sad considering he spent the last nine years at the school and will likely have to pursue a career in something other than education in the future—which is obviously for the best.

Of course, some additional education of his own likely would have prevented this from happening. And it certainly wouldn’t have hurt for him to make some friends his own age in Cedar Lake, either!

TIFTON, GEORGIA

The low spark of high-heeled boys against family violence (WALB)

The low spark of high-heeled boys against family violence (WALB)

Family violence is a serious problem in the United States, but Ruth’s Cottage and The Patticake House in Tifton are doing something rather unique in an effort to raise people’s awareness of domestic violence: they are hosting an event called “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes.”

To accomplish this, participating men from South Georgia will walk a mile around the Harley-Davidson store in town… while wearing high heel shoes!

Personally, I don’t think it will take an entire mile for them to discover how difficult—and even painful—these shoes can be. After all, if women complain about them, just imagine how much men will bitch and moan!

OVERLAND PARK, KANSAS

When you go out to eat, enjoy your meal and receive great service from your waiter, wouldn’t you expect to leave a tip? I worked in restaurants for more than a decade, but even before that I understood the importance of gratuities for people in certain careers—and yes, restaurant servers often rely on their tips to make ends meet.

Lord knows their hourly wages are for shit.

Unfortunately, some customers at Carrabba’s Italian Grill in Overland Park must not have “gotten the memo.” After receiving excellent service from their waiter recently—who just so happened to be homosexual—they stiffed him on the tip and instead left this note on the back of their check:

“Thank you for your service, it was excellent. That being said, we cannot in good conscience tip you, for your homosexual lifestyle is an affront to GOD. (Homosexual slur) do not share in the wealth of GOD, and you will not share in ours. We hope you will see the tip your (homosexual slur) choices made you lose out on, and plan accordingly. It is never too late for GOD’s love, but none shall be spared for (homosexual slur). May GOD have mercy on you.”

We only tip the straight waiters (KCTV-5)

We only tip the straight waiters (KCTV-5)

A number of people in the area heard about this and visited Carrabba’s to offer encouragement and support to this young man—whose mother incidentally works as a hostess—and the company issued a statement expressing no tolerance for discrimination of any kind, even among their guests.

What bothers me, though, is something I always ask myself when I hear of religion being used to insult, degrade and humiliate others—especially gays: if God created everything and knows all, then isn’t it safe to assume he created homosexuality, as well?

Or think of it this way: if everything happens for a reason (i.e. according to God’s plan), then what reason might justify such hatred and intolerance?

Actually, start by thinking before you act and I assure you life will be better for everyone. In this, at least, I have faith.

COLUMBUS, GEORGIA

Has this ever happened to you?

You’re sitting at home, watching television with your family, when all of sudden the room starts to fill with smoke. In a panic, you instinctively protect your loved ones and rush them outside to safety, only to realize a moment later that you left something of great value behind. Rushing back into a burning house doesn’t make much sense, but this is important, so you take your chances. And luck must be with you because by some miracle, you escape unharmed for a second time!

Save the beer! (Not Jane Doe)

Save the beer! (Not Jane Doe)

The obvious answer to my question is “no” since I doubt any of us has experienced this. And if you have, I am truly sorry. However, this very thing happened recently to Walter Serpit of Columbus, only the valuable and important thing he rushed back in to get isn’t something most of us would even consider.

Walter went back for beer.

“I told them to get the kids out and everything, and me myself, being an alcoholic, I was trying to get my beer out,” the drunken daredevil confessed. “I went back into the house like a dummy and the door shut on me because this back draft was about to kill me.”

Lucky for Walter, he made it out alive and managed to save several beers in the process—which I can only guess were used seconds later to celebrate his narrow escape. I know one thing about this crazy bastard: he’s lucky beer was his passion rather than straight booze.

A few minutes in a burning house while sweating out moonshine or corn liquor and Walter would have been toast!

MIAMI, FLORIDA

Florida is the last Freaky Friday stop today, but I assure you I saved one of the freakiest stories for last.

32-year-old Oneal Ron Morris appeared in court Thursday to plead guilty to practicing health care without a license and will spend the next year of his life behind bars. What did he do that was so horrible, you ask?

Looks like Morris was dipping in to her own product (Miami-Dade County Corrections)

Looks like Morris was dipping in to her own product (Miami-Dade County Corrections)

Morris—who actually identifies as a woman—injected the asses of two women with super glue, mineral oil and… worst of all… Fix-a-Flat! And yes, that’s the stuff you spray into a flat tire to inflate and patch it until you can get it fixed properly.

Come to think of it, I’ve always been told I have a flat and relatively non-existent ass. Sadly, it’s true, but maybe this procedure would work for me. Too bad Mr. (or Mrs.) Morris is heading to prison!

Well, that does it for me, ladies and gentlemen. I have been freaked out enough, so here’s hoping tomorrow will be Settle Down Saturday. I’m sure we could all use the break.

Lollipop, Lollipop

Dumb-dumbs putting drugs into Dum-Dums? What will they think of next? (Rhode Island Novelty)

Dumb-dumbs putting drugs into Dum-Dums? What will they think of next? (Rhode Island Novelty)

Doctors in Milwaukee, Wisconsin are warning parents about a new danger with regard to teenage substance abuse: candy laced with prescription drugs.

Basically, kids are either stealing prescription medications from their parents or getting them from other kids—who I can only assume are stealing from their parents, as well. Once they have them, they boil down the candy, stir in the drugs, allow the candy to re-harden and then package it to look like any decadently-sweet treat you might find at a corner candy store.

In other words, teenagers can walk around and unassumingly ingest anything from Xanax to Valium and no one will be the wiser—at least not until the effects of the drugs are noticeable or someone dies from it.

Yes, this practice is extremely dangerous. And I would never come out in support of anything that might harm other human beings, but you have to admit these methods are pretty ingenious. Misguided and wrong, but impressive if only for the creativity involved.

When I was a teenager, drugs weren’t our “weapons of choice,” but alcohol certainly was. I confess to nothing, of course, but some of us occasionally stole liquor from our parents so we could “throw down” over the weekend. We would stash it in the woods or some other hiding place; recover it once we were free-and-clear of all authority figures; transport it to a house party or other such function—normally at the home of whichever friend’s parents happened to be out-of-town; and use it to enhance the good times… if you know what I mean.

And I am certain that you do.

The only problem with our teenage, booze-soaked rebellion was that it often drew attention from a common enemy: the police. And believe me… convincing a cop that you haven’t been drinking illegally is hard to do in a house full of empty vodka and tequila bottles.

Drunk, teenage jackasses falling all over themselves don’t help, either, but I digress.

In an effort to divert attention away from our “extracurricular” activities—and to avoid having to hide deep in the woods to drink—we did what many others were doing at the time: we hid the liquor in plain sight, only with a disguise.

These may look like candy, but the buzz is much different (Ed Murray/The Star-Ledger)

These may look like candy, but the buzz is much different (Ed Murray/The Star-Ledger)

The tactic I remember most vividly involved Scope mouthwash, which anyone who has ever seen or used before knows is green and comes in a clear plastic bottle.

And no, we didn’t just drink the mouthwash to catch a buzz. Give us some credit, will you?

What we did do, however, was buy some Scope from the drug store—which back then was within walking distance of my home; dump out the mouthwash; clean the bottle thoroughly; pour in our own alcohol mixture, which consisted only of clear liquors; add a little Crème de Menthe for color; shake and then drink to our hearts’ content.

Granted, you couldn’t just walk around taking slugs from a mouthwash bottle in public, but you could carry it with you and not worry about it being discovered by any frisky cops. And since the Crème de Menthe gave it a peppermint scent and flavor, you could easily explain why your breath smelled so fresh if questioned by party-busting officers later.

I guess the point I’m trying to make is this: teenagers will always find ways to obtain and use drugs and alcohol. My friends and I got creative with mouthwash over a quarter century ago, but today’s teens have evolved even further. The only problem is that the substances have evolved, too, and taking medications not prescribed to them—even if they come in the form of Dum Dum lollipops—is never a good idea.

Might I suggest a quick mouthwash run to the drug store instead?

Hard Place Gets Harder

Taylor and Hall in Goblin Valley (YouTube)

A few days ago, I wrote about two Boy Scout leaders who recently took a trip to Utah’s Goblin Valley State Park—known for its large boulders perched on pedestals created after millions of years of dust and erosion—and then pushed one of the “goblins” off its base (“A Rock and a Hard Place”).

While Glenn Taylor leaned into the boulder and shoved it to the ground, his accomplice David Hall filmed the incident and even provided musical accompaniment by singing an a capella version of “Wiggle It, Just a Little Bit.” The video was later posted online and went viral, bringing national attention to an act that could end with Taylor and Hall in jail.

Defacing anything in a state park is a serious offense, so both of these jackasses’ actions could result in serious consequences… even more so given a recent development with regard to Taylor, the man seen shoving the boulder.

Apparently, Taylor filed a personal injury lawsuit in September in an effort to collect disability for what he called “serious, permanent and debilitating injuries.” They were supposedly caused by an automobile accident more than four years ago, but judging from the viral video, these injuries seem far less serious than the misguided scout leader originally claimed. And the defendant in his personal injury case—Alan MacDonald—isn’t buying it.

“Someone with a bad back who’s disabled, who can’t enjoy life, to me, doesn’t step up and push a rock that big off the base.”

I couldn’t agree more. And Taylor reminds me of those sketchy people who file a disability claim, deck themselves out with all sorts of medical props—like neck braces and crutches—act as if the pain they’re experiencing is unbearable, and then get photographed dancing at a night club or lifting something heavy. If they were smart enough to avoid the so-called spotlight, then their attempts at fraud may be successful. Unfortunately, though, their inability to “lay low” comes back to haunt them and instead of receiving disability funds, they land themselves in court and sometimes behind bars—which is exactly where Taylor should be, if you ask me.

Travis Alexander with his future killer, Jodi Arias (MySpace/Jodi Arias)

Travis Alexander with his future killer, Jodi Arias (MySpace/Jodi Arias)

As a side note, another interesting piece of information came out about David Hall, Taylor’s musical partner in the whole goblin-toppling fiasco. As it turns out, Hall was best friends with Travis Alexander—the man killed by Jodi Arias, who was convicted of first-degree murder last May—and even appeared on numerous newscasts to share his opinions about the media frenzy of Arias’ trial.

Small world, huh?

No-No for CeeLo

CeeLo pleads not guilty in court (Mel Melcon/AFP/Getty Images)

CeeLo pleads not guilty in court (Mel Melcon/AFP/Getty Images)

Thomas DeCarlo Callaway—otherwise known as CeeLo Green—began his music career as a member of the Southern hip-hop group Goodie Mob, but many know him as one of the coaches on the NBC singing competition show The Voice. Unfortunately, the 38-year-old singer responsible for such hits as “Crazy” and “Forget You” is now performing in a different venue: criminal court.

Believe it or not, but CeeLo stands accused of slipping the drug Ecstasy to a 33-year-old woman during dinner in July of last year. They left the restaurant and returned to her hotel, but when the woman woke up the following morning, she was naked and CeeLo was still in her room. She later contacted the Los Angeles Police Department and filed a statement claiming the popular singer not only drugged her, but sexually assaulted her as well.

Fortunately for CeeLo, prosecutors decided not to file a rape charge against him due to “insufficient evidence.” Of course, he still faces a felony charge of furnishing a controlled substance, which could potentially land him in jail for up to four years if convicted. CeeLo appeared in court recently and pleaded not guilty—the judge set his bond at $30,000 and released him—but he is due to appear again on November 20th. And that’s when his real ordeal will begin.

Green on "The Voice" (Xfinity)

Green on “The Voice” (Xfinity)

According to the most recent reports, CeeLo plans to “responsibly address” the drug charge in court and is unafraid of the consequences since he knows that he’s innocent. In fact, his attorney Blair Berk almost makes it sound as if his client is looking forward to the opportunity to set things right.

Mr. Green encouraged a full and complete investigation of those claims, and he was confident once conducted, he would be cleared of having any wrongful intent and it would be established that any relations were consensual,” Berk explained. “CeeLo had faith that if the true facts were known, the district attorney would reject those charges.”

The drug Ecstasy (DEA)

The drug Ecstasy (DEA)

With his trial date looming and his future on The Voice in question, life for this Grammy-winning recording artist over the next few months won’t get any easier. Of course, a few months of suffering would be preferable to spending several years in prison, so I hope things work out for him… unless he’s guilty, in which case I hope he pays for what he’s done.

Until we get official word, though, I say we give CeeLo the benefit of the doubt. The truth is likely to come out eventually…

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