Monthly Archives: August 2014
Given all the celebrities completing the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge and donating thousands of dollars to ALS research—which at last count surpassed $80 million in total contributions—I thought one particular celebrity deserved some extra attention: award-winning actor Matt Damon.
Damon was nominated by his close friend and Good Will Hunting screenwriting partner, Ben Affleck, as well as television host and comedian Jimmy Kimmel.
Unfortunately, dumping a bucket of freezing—yet clean—water over his head wasn’t an option. California is currently experiencing a drought—which makes wasting water almost a cardinal sin—but Damon had another reason for being wary of this challenge: he co-founded Water.org, a non-profit organization whose goal is to provide clean water and sanitation to developing and underserved countries around the world.
As you can see, it simply wouldn’t be prudent for Damon to dump clean water over his head, so he took a different approach: he used water collected from toilets around his home.
Check out his unique take on the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge by going HERE.
Like many of you, I have watched endless videos of famous and not-so-famous people completing this challenge—as well as some hilarious failed attempts—but none of them even comes close to the heartfelt, considerate approach taken by Damon, one of my favorite actors.
So kudos to you, Matt. And thanks for showing us that fame and fortune don’t always change what lies deep within a person’s heart.
Since my father passed away from ALS—also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease—I absolutely love all the attention being paid to this terrible and incurable affliction. As I understand it, more than $14 million has been raised for ALS research, which I hope will translate to a cure in the coming years. Granted, it’s too late to save my father, but there are plenty of others who could be saved. And thanks to the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, there is more hope of this happening than ever before.
Of course, not everyone who chooses to complete the challenge does so successfully. Do a quick search online and you will find all sorts of “ice bucket fails,” most of which are hilarious.
Unfortunately, not everyone who fails at the challenge does so gracefully. Case in point: the Confederate-flag waving jackass in this VIDEO. For some reason, this guy thinks it might be a good idea to “kick things up a notch”… and it doesn’t end well.
Check it out and remember this: if you choose to complete the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, it’s probably best to stick with ice and water. Anything else could lead to the same disaster this poor bastard experienced!
I wrote this article a number of years ago as my father was wasting away from ALS. Given all the attention on this disease recently—as well as the ALS Ice Bucket Challenges appearing on Facebook and other social networking sites—I thought it might be nice to re-post this. Unfortunately, my father lost his battle and passed away in 2008—roughly a year after my son was born. It is too late to help my dad, but I hope we can find a way to save the lives of other ALS patients before they suffer the same fate. I love and miss you, Dad. This is for you.
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)—also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease—is a degenerative motor neuron disorder that generally affects the muscles, but later spreads into almost every system in the body. Those unfortunate enough to develop the disease experience “rapidly progressive weakness, muscle atrophy and fasciculations, muscle spasticity, difficulty speaking, difficulty swallowing and decline in breathing ability” (Wikipedia). And the mortality rate for ALS is 100%. There is no cure and the outlook is always grim.
I know this because my father passed away in 2008 from ALS.
Although I’ve come to accept the fact that he is gone, I often find myself wondering how someone like my father could develop such a horrible disease in the first place. And even though it isn’t genetic—he was the first in our family to suffer from ALS—I worry that eventually, I could be next. Of course, my father and I were almost polar opposites in many respects, so I am optimistic and feel confident something else will likely get me.
This fact doesn’t make me feel much better, though. After all, we’ll all die from something eventually and none of us can escape it.
What bothers me most about my father dying from ALS is the way he lived his life and the eventual irony of it all. You see, my father was an orthopedic surgeon who exercised all the time. In fact, some of the equipment at our local YMCA had been donated by my father and uncle, both of them surgeons and partners who endorsed exercise and physical activity at every turn. When my brother and I were young, my father forced us to accompany him to work out, hoping we would follow his example and start exercising more on our own someday. Granted, we both stayed active through sports and other pursuits, but pumping iron wasn’t really our focus. And he was hoping to change that.
For years, the three of us would visit the YMCA, work out to the point of exhaustion and then repeat the process several times each week. Dad even hired personal trainers to set us up with exercise routines tailored to our specific needs. Combined with his exercise tips, we learned everything we needed to know and worked hard to get in shape, at least in the beginning.
Unfortunately, my brother and I responded to being forced to exercise in very different ways. He continued long after we were free to choose for ourselves and still exercises regularly today. I went the opposite way, choosing to exercise indirectly through work or other activities like sports. Oddly enough, the same thing happened with church. Being forced to go anywhere didn’t really agree with me, but my brother could find all sorts of value in it and, as a result, is a more religious person than me. And in this respect, I was more like my father.
Diet and nutrition were also important factors in my father’s life. To this day, I have never seen anyone consume as much fruit as him, sometimes two or three different fruits in one sitting. As for drinking, he would occasionally have some Vermouth with dinner, or the rare glass of wine or cold beer, but generally abstained. Smoking was never his vice, either. Instead, he would lecture me for hours about its dangers once he discovered that I had taken up smoking cigarettes. And no matter what ailed me, he always claimed it was the result of my smoking.
My dad was also a man of adventure and always took us on trips full of excitement and thrill-seeking, as evidenced in my earlier post “Ketchum If You Can”. Over the years, we traveled all over the world to go white-water rafting, skiing, hiking and sightseeing. We ended up at one time or another in Colorado,Costa Rica, Hawaii, Argentina and dozens of other wonderful locales. And even when he was unable to accompany us, my father would still finance our trips to places like Brazil and the US Virgin Islands.
It was during a family trip to Costa Rica that I first noticed some of his physical limitations.
During most of our previous hikes, my father was front-and-center, leading us through the woods or jungles with a Devil-may-care attitude and almost unlimited energy. This trip into the rain forest was much different. Instead of maintaining his footing and trudging along, my dad would often slip or have to keep himself from falling down an embankment that normally would not have fazed him. My siblings and I expressed concern, but he always blamed it on being a little older or unfamiliar with the terrain. We had our doubts, though.
Later, I noticed that my father had started limping. When I asked what the problem was, he would simply qualify it as some minor nerve damage that would eventually correct itself. Only it never did. In fact, it started to get worse, but he insisted it was nothing. And since he was always the tough, macho man from South America, we never questioned it.
Then came the phone call that changed everything.
I was dining out in Raleigh with my fiancé and her family, walking back to the car after a delicious meal at the Macaroni Grill. The call from home seemed a little strange since I had spoken with my mother earlier, but I really started to worry when I heard my father’s voice instead. He was never much for phone calling and our conversations were always short and sweet.
This conversation was much different.
He told me he had been diagnosed with ALS almost a year before, but didn’t want us to worry so he kept it a secret during that time. Knowing next to nothing about the disease at the time, I asked about his prognosis and he told me he wasn’t sure, but things wouldn’t end well once the disease progressed. Of course, I was crushed and immediately thought the worst. He comforted me and assured me that he would be around for a long time. We both knew that wouldn’t be the case, but remaining optimistic seemed like the best approach at the time.
Over the next year, I watched helplessly as a man who was always strong, muscular and mentally sharp deteriorated into a mere shadow of the father I once knew. One by one, his muscular systems started to shut down and, towards the end, he even needed help using the bathroom. We bought him an electric wheelchair to allow him greater mobility, but he hated using it because he was so proud. About the only time he would ride it was when I brought my newborn son to visit. They only spent a year together, but my son still remembers cruising around the house with him.
The last time I saw my father, we talked about the life he helped me create for myself and the new family I had just formed, which brought him a great deal of pleasure. He just wanted to know that his own life had made a difference to someone else, which it certainly had. In fact, he had impacted nearly every person he came into contact with, including his family, friends and the hundreds of patients he served during his successful career in medicine. Everyone who knew him loved him. And I made sure he knew just how much I loved him, too.
The next morning, my mother called to tell me he had passed away in the middle of the night and that I should come over immediately to see him one last time. My sister had spent the night on the couch near his favorite chair in our living room. She woke up in the middle of the night and gave him a kiss before heading to bed. Little did she know, but that would be the last kiss he would ever receive.
I found my father lying in the same chair, only now he was perfectly still and cold. Grief took hold of us all as we wept beside his body, holding his hand or gently stroking his head. Then his body was removed and cremated, leaving me with only a small urn containing remains that were split between my mother, my siblings and me. Today, it sits on my mantle with his picture, a constant reminder of the man who spent his life for his family, and who made me the man I am today.
ALS is a terrible disease that affects roughly 30,000 people at any given time. And as I mentioned before, there is no known cure for it either, but there is hope. The ALS Association is working hard to find ways to treat and eventually cure this degenerative disease, and they are making progress. I encourage everyone to support their efforts because, believe me, you don’t want this to happen to you or someone you know and love.
And if you are living with ALS, please know that my thoughts and prayers are with you.
Earlier today, I read a story about 27-year-old Daniel Holtzclaw, an Oklahoma City police officer who was recently arrested for sexually assaulting at least six women while on duty. Apparently, he fondled them, forced them to expose their lady parts and even had sex with one of them.
I wish I could say this story surprised me, but these days abuse by police officers seems all too common. Just look at what’s happening in Ferguson, Missouri, where an unarmed black teenager’s murder has sparked civil unrest and violence.
What did surprise me about Holtzclaw’s story were the complaints filed against him by his victims, which included rape, indecent exposure, sexual battery and—most disturbingly—“forcible oral sodomy.” You read it right. This perverted police officer actually forced someone to stick their tongue up his ass!
I’m sorry, but where I come from, that kind of treatment would likely warrant the death penalty. Gross!
In related news—related to sex, I mean—53-year-old William McDaniel of Butte, Montana was arrested Saturday night for soliciting prostitution. And the only person he has to blame is himself since he’s the one who alerted police to his criminal activities!
Apparently, McDaniel went to Sagebrush Sam’s—a strip club—and paid more than $300 for a private dance. While the dancer was performing for him, McDaniel made aggressive sexual advances, but was rejected—and this did not sit well with him. Angered and shunned, he immediately called 911 to report the dancer for refusing to have sex with him, and that was all the authorities needed to charge him with solicitation of prostitution.
Sorry, Mr. McDaniel, but a lap dance in no way entitles its purchaser to sexual relations. Maybe next time you should save your money, buy some lube and give yourself a hand-guided private dance in the comfort of your own home… freak.
Normally, I don’t post about YouTube videos since I can’t embed them on my blog. The ability to do that costs extra and, sadly, I don’t make enough money to afford such frivolous expenditures.
However, I sometimes run across videos I would be remiss not to share, like this one from East Hills Mall in St. Joseph, Missouri. This 30-second television commercial features a range of people who simply cannot sing. My personal favorite is a guy who repeats the catchy phrase “boots and pants.”
Check it out by going HERE… and prepare to laugh until your sides hurt!
In 2002, American journalist Daniel Pearl was abducted by Pakistani militants and beheaded by Al-Qaeda operative Ahmed Omar Sheikh, who was subsequently hanged for this gruesome crime. Pearl’s murder ignited a firestorm of retaliation by American forces and eventually resulted in the killing of numerous Al-Qaeda leaders.
Well, it looks like the Islamic State—the extremist group formerly known as ISIS—has followed Al-Qaeda’s horrific example and beheaded another American journalist, James Foley. After being abducted last November in Syria and reportedly held near Damascus, Foley appeared in a recent video with an ISIS executioner, who apparently hacked off his head on camera.
Fortunately, the video entitled “A Message to America” was removed from YouTube shortly after being posted there, but a transcript of its message went something like this:
“This is James Wright Foley, an American citizen of your country. As a government, you have been at the forefront of the aggression towards the Islamic State. You have plotted against us and have gone far out of your way to find reasons to interfere in our affairs. Today, your military air force is attacking us daily in Iraq; your strikes have caused casualties among Muslims.”
I share this only because I’m struggling to understand why beheading innocent people seems like the right approach for ISIS or any Islamic militants, for that matter. All it really does is piss off America and lead to more death and destruction, which these days come in the form of unexpected drone attacks. If death is their ultimate goal, then this certainly is an effective way of achieving it. They may label it as jihad, but it seems much more like suicide if you ask me.
Another thing that boggles the mind—at least my mind—is this: Why in the world would any journalist volunteer to cover the Middle East? Are they as suicidal as the jihadists who eventually kidnap and murder them? Or is covering the Middle East considered “paying your dues” as a journalist—kind of like those rookie meteorologists forced to cover every hurricane while high winds and rain bombard them?
Whatever the case may be, the obvious answer to the question of peace in the Middle East is this: it will likely never come. As long as violence and murder supersede love and compassion, there may never be a lasting peace. America needs to realize this and do something it should have done long ago: get the hell out of there. Otherwise, I fear more innocent people—including the 20 journalists still missing in Syria—will pay the ultimate price.
And personally, I don’t care about Middle East news coverage if it costs more American lives. Do you?
Although I am not a religious man—or even much of a spiritual one, at that—I do have a lot of love and respect for Pope Francis, who hails from Argentina, a country I absolutely adore.
Earlier today, it was reported that four of Pope Francis’ relatives were involved in a terrible automobile accident: his nephew, Emanuel Bergoglio, his nephew’s wife and their two children. Their car slammed into the back of a truck along a highway between Argentine cities Cordoba and Rosario. Sadly, all but Bergoglio himself perished in the accident; he lost not only his wife, but his 2-year-old and 8-month-old children.
Given my non-religious nature, the best I can do in this situation is send positive vibes to Pope Francis and his nephew. However, if you happen to be the praying type, please consider including them in your prayers today. I’m sure they both could use them.
Whoever first pointed out how reality can be stranger than fiction sure knew what they were talking about, huh? Here are some stories from around the world that prove just how strange—and utterly disturbing—reality can get. Brace yourselves.
Hamilton, Ohio: If you lived in Hamilton, Ohio between 1976 and 2012—and if you lost someone whose body was transported to the local morgue—odds are that 60-year-old morgue attendant Kenneth Douglas had sex with it. In a recent deposition as part of a lawsuit against Hamilton County, the perverted old bastard admitted to “banging” not one corpse, not even ten corpses, but as many as 100 of them! What’s more, one of his deceased lovers was a 19-year-old girl who had been murdered and nearly decapitated! When asked why he did it, Douglas had only one thing to say: “She gave good head.” Okay, I made that last part up, but he’s still a freak.
London, England: Last week, a coroner’s inquest into the 2013 death of 50-year-old Nigel Willis determined exactly what killed him: a vibrator lodged in his rectum. Apparently, the sex toy perforated his bowel, caused septic shock and eventually caused multiple organs to fail. He was pronounced dead on February 7th and though I have no idea what his death certificate stated, I can only assume “death by vibrator” was listed as the cause. Pleasure gave way to pain, in other words, and poor Nigel paid the ultimate price.
Mary Esther, Florida: House-hunting can be challenging for anyone, especially first-time buyers. Of course, it can be even more difficult when you use it as an excuse for public masturbation. Laugh if you will, but this very thing happened to 21-year-old Daniel Lewis Davis recently. According to the eyewitness account of a 5-year-old girl, Davis parked his Ford F-150 in a residential neighborhood, stripped down to his birthday suit, pleasured himself in the middle of the road, ran up and down the road several times and then drove away. Fortunately, he was stopped by a deputy in the area and arrested after claiming he was simply house-hunting. The fact that he had two previous arrests for indecent exposure certainly screwed that excuse up for him, though. What a tool… pun intended.
Martinsburg, West Virginia: According to a report issued last month by West Virginia’s Board of Medicine, weight loss doctor Tressie Duffy will no longer be permitted to practice medicine. Why, you ask? Well, it turns out that Dr. Duffy got some new breasts and decided to start flaunting them all over the office. She showed co-workers, patients and even drug representatives, some of whom were invited to touch and squeeze them. Duffy even forced one of her female co-workers to “motorboat” her breasts, which for the uninitiated involves putting your face between them and making a motor sound as you blow a huge raspberry between them and move your head from side to side. I’m sure there are some videos available on YouTube for anyone needing a visual aid.
Seattle, Washington: Our next story comes from the great state of Washington and involves 33-year-old Sila Hans, who was recently arrested and charged with indecent exposure and public urination. Apparently, Hans went into a neighbor’s yard, urinated on it, dry-humped some lawn furniture and then exposed her vagina, smacking it a few times for good measure. Sadly, she did all of this in full view of two children—an 11-year-old and a 15-year-old. And though she was highly intoxicated at the time, there can be no doubt that when it comes to lawn furniture sex, the conversation begins and ends with Hans.
Albuquerque, New Mexico: The perfect end to this edition of the Reality Round-Up is provided by 53-year-old Shari Walters, who was arrested last Wednesday at her Albuquerque home. Two weeks ago, one of her roommates returned home to find Walters lying naked in the backyard with her German shepherd, Spike. The faint afterglow surrounding Walters indicated some sexual act had taken place and she even confessed to having sex with the dog. In fact, Walters confessed to having canine sex regularly since she was 14 years old! As if this weren’t bad enough, Walters then tried to poison her roommates so they wouldn’t tell on her; she put rubbing alcohol and toilet bowl cleaner in their food. Fortunately, no one was harmed—aside from Spike—and Walters was taken to jail.
And here I thought dogs were supposed to be man’s best friend!
Land’s End is a clothing retailer based in Wisconsin that sells casual wear, home furnishings and luggage. And they value their customers so much that they decided to reward people who spent $100 or more by sending them a free gift: the July issue of GQ magazine.
Unfortunately, more than a few customers—namely parents—were outraged by the magazine’s cover, which features a nearly nude image of British model and actress Emily Ratajkowski. Here’s what one pissed-off parent had to say about it:
“We received your ‘Lands’ End Bonus’ of GQ magazine this weekend, and we are absolutely horrified. How can buying something as family friendly as school uniforms lead to soft porn in the mailbox? I’m thankful my son did not bring in the mail.”
Land’s End apologized, of course, and immediately replaced the naughty magazine with something less likely to upset prudish parents: Conde Nast Traveler. While I’m sure this will placate the masses, I do have one question for the fine people at Land’s End: Any chance you can send me a free issue of GQ? I know you have some extra copies lying around!
Given all the gun-related tragedies over the last few years—as well as the government’s inability to pass meaningful gun control legislation, despite the rising body count—I want to send a special “thank you” to Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick (D).
On Wednesday, Patrick signed into law what many have called a “common-sense gun reform” package—and he did it in spite of objections from the National Rifle Association, the organization that seems to control all gun legislation in this country.
The package includes extensive gun control measures that are needed nationwide, to be honest. Here are some features worth noting:
- Penalties for several gun-based crimes have been toughened.
- Police chiefs now have the ability to ask courts to deny firearms identification cards for people deemed unfit to buy guns.
- A firearm trafficking unit has been formed within the state police.
- Massachusetts will now join the National Instant Background Check system.
- An online portal will be created so background checks can be performed for private gun purchases.
Supporters of more responsible gun control legislation were obviously pleased by Patrick’s progressive measures and hope Massachusetts will become “a leader for the rest of the nation.” Molly Malloy of the Massachusetts chapter of Moms Demand Action actually put it best when she issued the following statement in response to this wonderful news:
“With the stroke of Governor Patrick’s pen today, Massachusetts is now a leader for the rest of the nation in passing common-sense gun reform while continuing to respect the Second Amendment rights we all value. The single most effective thing we can do to keep guns out of dangerous hands and reduce the number of Americans killed with guns every day is require criminal background checks on all sales to close the loophole that allows felons, domestic abusers and the dangerously mentally ill to buy guns. Real leadership is what will keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people, and we are grateful to have leaders on this issue taking action to protect our families in the commonwealth.”
Thanks for infusing logic into gun control legislation, Governor Patrick, and for actually giving a damn about the welfare of Massachusetts citizens. I only hope our leaders in Washington take note and follow your common-sense example… but I’m not holding my breath.