Monthly Archives: December 2013

Looking Back: The Gnostic Bent 2013 Review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The Louvre Museum has 8.5 million visitors per year. This blog was viewed about 180,000 times in 2013. If it were an exhibit at the Louvre Museum, it would take about 8 days for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Shanahan Canned

Shanahan gets the boot (Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)

Shanahan gets the boot (Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)

The day we all knew was coming has finally arrived.

After only one winning season in four years as head coach of the Washington Redskins, Mike Shanahan, his staff and even his son Kyle have been fired by Daniel Snyder and his organization. The news came after a horrible 20-6 loss to the New York Giants in week 17—the perfect way to “cap off” a dismal, three-win season.

And this from a team that won the NFC East last year and nearly snuck by the Seattle Seahawks in their Wild Card playoff game… with a rookie quarterback no less!

Of course, most of Shanahan’s tenure in Washington has been far less successful than his 2012 campaign. For three of the last four years, the Skins finished last in the NFC East. And just before week 15 of this season, Shanahan decided to pull his under-performing, super star quarterback—the once-and-soon-to-be-great-again Robert Griffin III (RG3)—in favor of Kirk Cousins.

It was only a matter of time before it all caught up with him, in other words.

Robert Griffin III (Sports Illustrated)

What is most unusual about all of this, however, is the rumor that Shanahan was prepared to leave Washington last year. From what I understand, he cleaned out his office, packed up his things and was preparing to depart before the Redskins and Seahawks even stepped onto the field in the playoffs. Shanahan was apparently “disillusioned” with the way Snyder ran the organization. He only decided to return in 2013 after Griffin suffered a knee injury against the Seahawks—he didn’t want it to appear as if the injury to his star quarterback was the reason for his departure.

It kind of makes you wonder if this year’s results would have been better had Shanahan actually left in 2012. Instead, Redskins fans are left with yet another head coaching vacancy, one that hasn’t been adequately filled since the great Joe Gibbs retired.

I certainly hope they find someone capable of pulling this once-great team back together. A fat, gift-wrapped check from Daniel Snyder to former Steelers head coach Bill Cowher might work…

Getting A-head

The contents of this box from the film "Seven" are unforgettable (New Line Cinema)

The contents of this box from the film “Seven” are unforgettable (New Line Cinema)

In a moment, this title may seem rather inappropriate, but humor is a great way of dealing with something as gruesome and disturbing as this next story. Believe me.

On Thursday, 18-year-old Alexis Valdez of Chicago was ordered to be held without bail following the killing of his aunt’s boyfriend, 41-year-old Silvestre Diaz-Hernandez. He has been charged with first-degree murder.

The murder occurred on Christmas morning in the basement apartment Valdez had been renting from his aunt in the 2500 block of North Kildare Avenue. Valdez had been living there and helping with the bills, but eventually stopped working. This obviously resulted in tension and some heated arguments about expenses, and when Valdez seemed disinterested in “pulling his weight,” he was asked to move out.

Sadly, the young freeloader took a different approach, one that ended in a violent and horrifying way.

On Christmas morning, Valdez covered all the windows of his basement apartment and turned his music up really loud. I’m not quite sure where Diaz-Hernandez was initially, but he ended up in the basement, his skull bashed in with a hammer that Valdez used to kill him. Of course, the sick bastard didn’t stop there.

The very disturbed Alexis Valdez (Chicago Police Department)

The very disturbed Alexis Valdez (Chicago Police Department)

He also cut off his victim’s head, lopped off his ears and nose, gouged out his eyes, chopped off his left arm and mutilated the body. Valdez then took the severed head of her boyfriend and left it on his aunt’s bed—he later claimed that he wanted to “leave his aunt a present.”

Valdez then called 911 to report the dead body and when the operator asked if he had tried CPR, the young man chuckled and told her the body had no head. When the police arrived a short time later, they found Valdez covered in blood and very forthcoming about his crime. He soon issued a statement that one prosecutor described as “chilling.”

“If his aunt had come home and seen the victim’s body, then he would have killed her as well,” Assistant State’s Attorney Kingsley Sawyer told reporters.

I suppose Valdez’s aunt should consider herself lucky, but I can’t get over the fact that she’ll be forced to relive this terrible tragedy every Christmas for the foreseeable future. No matter how you slice it—no pun intended—I guess Valdez got what he wanted: a gift his aunt would never forget.

What a sick bastard…

When Animals Attack!

This Everglades tour guide met a python face-to-face (Paul Tarantino/Facebook)

This Everglades tour guide met a python face-to-face (Paul Tarantino/Facebook)

Humans have been stepping on animals’ toes for centuries, in a manner of speaking. We have invaded their natural habitats, harvested them for food and materials, imprisoned them in zoos and circuses for our entertainment and basically treated them like crap.

So is it really all that surprising when some animals retaliate against human interlopers?

The recent news saw at least two stories of animals striking back in violent and unpredictable ways. The first happened in Bali, Indonesia, where a security guard for a luxury hotel was killed by a python.

According to a second security guard—who witnessed the attack at the Bali Hyatt—the men were trying to capture the snake when it suddenly turned on one of them, suffocated him and escaped moments later. The dead man’s body was transported to the RSUP Sanglah Denpasar Hospital and his family has been notified, but the python remains at large and should be considered very dangerous.

In other words, you readers in Bali please watch your backs. You never know what might be slithering up behind you!

No one wants to meet these toothy fish! (wallpaperez)

No one wants to meet these toothy fish! (wallpaperez)

The second story of animals attacking humans is also the most shocking, at least to someone with extended family in the area (like me). It happened near the city of Rosario on the Parana River in Argentina. And what’s more, it happened on Christmas Day.

While those of us in the Northern Hemisphere are freezing our butts off in the winter, people in the Southern Hemisphere are enjoying the hot, sweaty days of summer. And in Argentina, swimming is very popular this time of year. People flock to the beaches and also swim in rivers, like the Parana River.

Unfortunately, the name Parana took on a more literal meaning when swimmers were attacked by carnivorous fish. They were not piranha, per se, but they were close relatives. The good news is that no one was killed, but at least 70 people were injured. One 7-year-old girl even lost one of her pinky fingers to the scaly scavengers.

It was not a pretty sight, and certainly not one you would expect to see while on vacation.

There is no way of predicting where or when the next animal attack will occur, but rest assured that it will happen. And pray—if you’re the praying sort—that it doesn’t happen to you.

Respect the animals. It’s all you can do.

Police Pop Poopy Peeper

Aren't chocolate fountains great? (Flickr)

Aren’t chocolate fountains great? (Flickr)

Try saying that title five times fast. It’s as tongue-twisting as they come.

A strange and stinky thing happened in Tulsa County, Oklahoma recently. Last Sunday, a woman taking her 7-year-old daughter to the restroom at Keystone Lake Park— whose facilities utilize a septic tank placed underneath a cement slab—looked inside the toilet and saw the water move in an unusual way. She looked more closely and suddenly realized that there was someone looking back at her!

There inside the septic tank—wading through and covered in urine and feces—was 52-year-old Kenneth Webster Enlow. He had his head shoved through the hole that leads up to the public toilet—a Peeping Tom covered in poop.

Enlow was wearing this toilet as a hat (News on 6)

Enlow was wearing this toilet as a hat (News on 6)

The woman immediately phoned the police and for roughly 15 minutes, Captain Doo-Doo just sat there quietly. When the cops arrived, however, Enlow suddenly cried out for help. Keystone Fire and Rescue workers helped him out of the hole and performed a more important public service a moment later: they hosed him off.

Enlow told police that his girlfriend Angel hit him in the head with a tire iron, dumped him in the toilet and then drove away in her 1972 Chevy Monte Carlo. I appreciate him including a detail in his story, but more on that in a second.

By his estimation—and because he claimed to have blacked out—the smelly suspect arrived in the hole roughly 30 minutes before he was found. He said that he couldn’t scream for help at first because he was unconscious. Police took Enlow to OSU Medical Center, but medical personnel confirmed that none of his injuries matched an attack with a tire iron.

In other words, the lying, perverted bastard covered in shit was also full of shit. I guess he was just down in it for too long, huh?

Meet Kenneth Webster Enlow: The Poop-Covered Peeping Tom (News on 6)

Meet Kenneth Webster Enlow: The Poop-Covered Peeping Tom (News on 6)

Needless to say, a clean and better smelling Enlow now resides in Tulsa County Jail. He was booked on a Peeping Tom complaint but—lo and behold—this “scatman” also had outstanding warrants for dumping trash, public intoxication, driving with a suspended license and even embezzlement!

It looks like Enlow will be spending quite a bit of time behind bars, which should be a smooth transition. After all, I’m sure he’ll smell his share of shit in the clink!

Christmas Crap

Poor Ralphie learned a hard lesson in "A Christmas Story" (Warner Brothers)

Poor Ralphie learned a hard lesson in “A Christmas Story” (Warner Brothers)

Although the holiday season continues through New Year’s, Christmas for 2013 is now just a memory. I hope everyone enjoyed theirs as much as I did. And I hope that Santa Claus brought you everything you wanted, too.

Of course, we all know this wasn’t the case for everyone, don’t we?

Yes, while some received tablet computers, video game systems and loaded gift cards, others got gifts that still have them scratching their heads in disbelief. In an effort to help assuage their pain, frustration and confusion—and because I have yet another Lego set to build for my little man—here are some of the worst Christmas gifts this season had to offer.

Comedic value has to count for something, right?

Simply Having a Wonderful Christmas Time

Back tomorrow as we cruise toward 2014! (Lincoln County Library System)

Back tomorrow as we cruise toward 2014! (Lincoln County Library System)

Christmas 2013 is in full swing and children everywhere are enjoying toys, games, electronics and all sorts of amazing gifts. Family and friends are spending time together and finally slowing down after another busy shopping season. And though there is always some darkness to be had—like the bombings in Baghdad that claimed 34 lives earlier today—the overwhelming feeling that I get is one of peace and joy.

I certainly hope it lasts.

Since my son will become a “child of divorce” next year—and is currently a “child of separation,” which should also be a category—my Christmas with him won’t begin for another few hours. Santa has already visited and done his thing, but there are still some last-minute, loose ends to tie up.

Happy Holidays from The Bent! (Harilo)

Happy Holidays from The Bent! (Harilo)

Combine these preparations with the unavoidable afternoon flurry of Lego building to come and blogging, I’m sorry to say, must take a back seat. After all, Christmas comes only once a year and when you’re the father of a 6-year-old boy, you have to treasure these moments because they will not come again.

So on this wonderful and amazing Christmas Day, I wish you and yours—wherever you are in this big, old world of ours—the best Christmas ever. Peace and love to you all, my brothers and sisters.

Happy Holidays!

Before you ask, the answer is yes. This is really me. Or is it? (Face Tinks)

Before you ask, the answer is yes. This is really me. Or is it? (Face Tinks)

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from Gnostic Bent!

On the eve of another magical Christmas—and with a New Year quickly approaching—I want to thank you all for a fun and productive year of blogging on Gnostic Bent.

Thanks for taking the time to read the insane rantings of “yours truly” and for inspiring me to continue in 2014.

May your holiday season be filled with the warmth, love and peace you need to sustain you and to prepare you for the year ahead.

I can hardly wait!

Even agnostics can be jolly this time of year! (Face Tinks)

Even agnostics can be jolly this time of year! (Face Tinks)

Ho, ho, ho!

Christmas is Coming!

As if this were even possible! (Keep Calm O Matic)

In just a few days, jolly old Santa Claus will begin his annual gift-giving journey to bring happiness to all the children of the world. The hustle-and-bustle of holiday shopping will magically transform into toys, delicious food and priceless time with family and friends. Yes, Christmas will help bring to an end another tumultuous—yet wonderful—year and will help usher in a new one. And though I’m not nearly as excited as I was as a child, I can say that I’m looking forward to it.

December 25th is an amazing day, to be sure, but it also got me thinking about today, the under-appreciated December 23rd. You see, of all the days leading up to Christmas, I believe that December 23rd gets the least love of them all. By now, people are so excited for “The Big Day” that they’re in a state of panic to finish all their last-minute shopping, wrap their presents and prepare for all the cooking to come. They rarely stop to appreciate the wonder that is December 23rd—a time when dreams still live and the wishes of Christmas haven’t been dashed by poor gift choices or… perish the thought… FRUITCAKE! Yuck!

Yet somehow, December 23rd—the so-called “tenth day of Christmas”—still got stuck with “ten lords a leaping” in that famous holiday song. What in the crap does that even mean? I’m sorry, but even ten “maids a milking” or “swans a swimming” would have been better than a bunch of royals with ADHD.

In an effort to right this terrible wrong and to show December 23rd the respect it so clearly deserves, I am proud to present some interesting facts and other tidbits about this important date—if you’re not too busy with your Christmas chores to check them out, I mean:

  • 1783: George Washington resigns as commander-in-chief of the Continental Army at the Maryland State House in Annapolis, Maryland.
  • 1805: The founder of the Latter Day Saint movement, Joseph Smith, is born in Sharon, Vermont.
  • 1913: President Woodrow Wilson signs the Federal Reserve Act into law and creates the Federal Reserve System.
  • 1941: America gets its collective butt kicked as the Imperial Japanese Army occupies Wake Island after 15 days of fighting.
  • 1946: Soap opera queen Susan Lucci is born in Scarsdale, New York.
  • 1948: I can’t help showing some love for my boy Jack Ham, former linebacker for my Pittsburgh Steelers, who celebrates a birthday today. Hope it’s a good one, Jack!
  • 1951: An NFL championship game is televised nationally for the first time as the Los Angeles Rams beat the Cleveland Browns 24-17.
  • 1954: J. Hartwell Harrison and Joseph Murray perform the first successful kidney transplant.
  • 1963: Former NFL quarterback and current San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh is born in Toledo, Ohio.
  • 1970: The North Tower of the World Trade Center becomes the tallest building in the world at more than 1,300 feet. It would be destroyed 31 years later during the terrorist attacks of September 11th.
  • 1972: The Pittsburgh Steelers defeat the Oakland Raiders 13-7 following the “Immaculate Reception” by Franco Harris, who caught a deflected pass and ran it in for the winning touchdown! Go Steelers!
  • 1972: The survivors of Uruguayan Air Force Flight 571 are rescued after 73 days in the Andes—they resort to cannibalism to survive and are later featured in the 1993 film Alive.
  • 1973: The soap opera “Young and the Restless” premieres on television, much to the chagrin of husbands everywhere. And no, I don’t watch soaps myself, even though this is the second time I’ve mentioned them here… strange.
  • 1982: American actor Jack Webb—best known for his role as Sergeant Joe Friday on the radio and television series Dragnet—passes away from a heart attack at age 62.
  • 1996: Four female priests are ordained in Jamaica, the first in the 330-year history of the Anglican Church.
  • 1997: Terry Nichols is found guilty of manslaughter in the Oklahoma City bombing.
  • 2000: Beloved American actor and “little person” Billy Barty dies of heart failure at age 76.

A lot has happened on December 23rd, don’t you think? And since there are still a few hours of daylight left, who knows what the immediate future will bring?

Happy almost Christmas, everybody!

Viva Santana!

Santana and Malone reunite after 40 years (YouTube/TVman1981)

Santana and Malone reunite after 40 years (YouTube/TVman1981)

Earlier this month, Stanley Roberts of news station KRON-4 completed a segment about illegal dumping in an Oakland, California neighborhood. It aired on December 9th as part of his People Behaving Badly series and included an interview with a homeless man named Marcus Malone.

Malone was digging through the trash at the illegal dumpsite, looking for anything that could be of use to someone living on the streets. In his interview with Roberts, Malone described one visit to the dump when he discovered a pair of blue jeans with more than $800 in its pocket—money he used to purchase equipment since he sometimes worked as a landscaper. He also told Roberts that he had been a music composer and even played with the “original Santana blues band.”

Carlos Santana is—of course—the famed Mexican-American guitarist whose band Santana was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1998. I could list all sorts of memorable hits by the talented musician—like “Black Magic Woman” and “Soul Sacrifice”—but I’m sure you’re already familiar with his work.

Initially, Roberts assumed that Malone was simply bragging about something that was either false or impossible to confirm or deny. He decided to dig a little deeper, though, and soon realized that what the homeless man told him was actually true!

Santana and Malone in 1967 (Facebook/Stanley Roberts/KRON-4)

Santana and Malone in 1967 (Facebook/Stanley Roberts/KRON-4)

Marcus Malone—known back then as “Marcus the Magnificent”—was a founding percussionist for the Santana Blues Band, played with them from 1967-1969 and helped establish the sound that would later make them famous. Unfortunately, Malone would not share this fame because instead of going into the studio to record the band’s debut album in 1969—and joining them at the Woodstock music festival a few months later—he went to San Quentin Prison. I’m still not sure why, though.

After prison—and while Santana’s success soared—Malone struggled to find work, lived on the streets and basically disappeared. For four decades, he dug through trash while his friend Santana sold millions of records and gained international fame and fortune… at least until December 9th, that is.

As it turned out, Carlos Santana saw Roberts’ People Behaving Badly segment, recognized Malone and immediately drove to Oakland to find him. When his trail ran cold, however, Santana asked his manager to contact Roberts and to arrange a reunion, which he did.

Last Friday, the electrifying guitarist and his fiery former percussionist met for the first time in more than 40 years. And to say it was an emotional reunion would be an understatement. I hate to admit it, but I could even feel some tears welling up… and I don’t even know these guys!

The Santana Blues Band (San Francisco Chronicle)

The Santana Blues Band (San Francisco Chronicle)

“It is an honor to be in your presence,” Santana told his friend. “I always cherish you, man.”

Whether or not Santana plans to help his old friend remains to be seen, but he did mention “hooking up” with Malone again soon. And knowing Santana—a man also famous for his charity work with groups like The Milagro Foundation, Save the Children and Amnesty International—there can be little doubt that these friends will never lose touch again.

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