Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Bigfoot Diaries Hall of Fame

Aint no pussies in the Hall of Fame...

This is the inaugural class of the Bigfoot Diaries Hall of Fame. It works like this: I will take nominations, and if I deem someone worthy of induction, I will consider them for a spot in the Hall... But please note that it's not an easy club to get into. While I am open to your nominations, I am a committee of one. I am the only one who has a say on who can be inducted or not... Making this perhaps the most exclusive Hall of Fame in the world.

This class includes 5 men of my own nomination that could be considered for ANY Hall of Fame... These men are kings in a world of pawns and have each displayed a unique quality that has set them apart from the rest of society. Perhaps they have displayed  an acute immunity to weakness, or showed resiliency in the black face of danger. Maybe they took us on a journey that broke musical barriers while offering a one finger salute to the very industry that they helped to define, or maybe they put their own life on the line in order to save someone else's... Whatever they did, they did it extremely well without compromise.

Without further ado, I bring you the inaugural class of the Bigfoot Diaries Hall of Fame.

Ron Santo

Ron Santo has a Hall of Fame problem... He isn't in one. And that's why he is the inaugural member of The Bigfoot Diaries Hall of Fame. This Chicago Cub legend is one of 6 Cubs to have his jersey number retired by the orginization. Battling with Diabetes his entire career, Santo still managed to put up Hall of Fame caliber statistics, only to be shunned by the sportswriters that ultimately decide who is worthy of that prestigious fraternity. During his 14-season run with the Cubs, Santo hit 337 home runs, then the eighth most by a National League right-handed hitter; his 1,071 career walks with the Cubs remain the team record for a right-handed hitter. He was the first third baseman to hit 300 home runs and win five Gold Gloves, a feat since matched only by Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt.

A nine-time National League (NL) All-Star, he led the league in walks four times, in on base percentage twice and in triples once. He batted .300 and hit 30 home runs four times each, and is the only third baseman in major league history to post eight consecutive seasons with 90 runs batted in (RBI) (1963-1970). He was the second player at his position to hit 300 career home runs, joining Eddie Mathews, and also ended his career ranking second to Mathews among third basemen in slugging average (.464) and third in runs batted in (1,331), total bases (3,779) and walks (1,108).

His defense was also worthy of mention: The winner of five consecutive Gold Glove Awards for fielding excellence (1964-1968), he set or tied NL records by leading the league's third basemen in total chances eight times... In games, putouts and assists seven times each... And in double plays six times. He also set NL records for career assists (4,532), total chances (6,777) and double plays (389) at third base, all records which weren't broken until Mike Schmidt did it between 1986 and 1988.

In 1961 he set a Cubs record with 41 double plays at third base, breaking the previous mark of 33 set by Bernie Friberg in 1923. In 1962 he led the NL in assists for the first time with 332, setting the team record for assists at third base, breaking the mark of 323 set by Randy Jackson in 1951. Santo continued to lead the NL in assists every year through 1968, breaking Ned Williamson's major league record of leading the league six times; Brooks Robinson went on to lead the American League eight times, and Mike Schmidt eventually tied Santo's NL mark of seven. In 1963 Santo broke the modern NL record with 374 assists at third base, passing Tommy Leach's 1904 mark of 371. In 1966 he set the all-time league record with 391, the previous record being Billy Shindle's 382 in 1892; his total was 99 higher than that of league runner-up Ken Boyer. Santo broke his own record in 1967 with 393 assists, which remained the NL record until Schmidt posted 404 in 1974; Santo's assist totals from 1963 through 1968 were the six highest by an NL third baseman between 1905 and 1973.

Did I mention that Santo played his entire career with Diabetes, a very mis-understood disease in his era? He based his blood-sugar counts off of his moods... If he was "moody" he would eat a candy bar in the club house to build up his blood sugar. He kept this fact a secret for most of his playing career for fear of being benched, or receiving preferential treatment. As part of the publicity surrounding "Ron Santo Day" at Wrigley Field on August 28, 1971, he revealed his struggle with diabetes. He was diagnosed with this disease at the age of 18, and was given a life expectancy of 25 years. Santo has had both his legs amputated below the knee as a result of his diabetes. Here it is 52 years later and Ron Santo is still going strong.

Congratulations, Ronnie, you tough son of a gun. You are in the Hall of Fame.

Aron Ralston

This might be the toughest son of a bitch to ever walk the planet. A true life super hero, Aron Ralston overcame insurmountable odds after getting his arm stuck between a fallen boulder and a canyon wall while on a rock climbing adventure.

While he was on a canyoneering trip in Blue John Canyon (near Moab, Utah), a boulder fell and pinned his right forearm, crushing it. After five days of trying to lift and break the boulder, a dehydrated and delirious Ralston prepared to cut off his already dead arm by levering it against a chockstone, which snapped the radius and ulna bones. Using the dull blade on his multiuse tool, he cut the soft tissue around the break. He then used the tool's pliers to tear at the tougher tendons...

He used the boulder that trapped his hand as a leverage device to break the bones in his arm, and he had to drink his own urine for several days after running out of his rationed water. After freeing himself, he was still eight miles from his truck (which incidentally was a stick shift), and he had no cellular phone. He had to rappel down a 65-foot sheer wall, then hike out of the canyon in the hot midday sun. After finally meeting with other hikers in the canyon (a family of three on vacation from the Netherlands), he was given food (two Oreo cookies, all they had) and water and ultimately rescued by a helicopter search team.

So yeah... Lets recap: All this guy did was cut off his own arm after spending 5 days in the wilderness alone to free himself from a boulder that had him pinned against a wall. He drank his own urine to keep from dehydrating to death, and he had to travel through 8 miles of extreme wilderness... Even rappelled down a 65 foot cliff, just to get to his truck which incidentally was a STICK SHIFT... All of this under the blistering mid-day sun.

Yeah. This Hall of Fame was made for people like you Aron.

Dr. Claudio Vitale

On March 23rd, 2009 this Italian doctor was performing a rare and dangerous brain surgery on a patient when he started to suffer from a heart attack. Knowing that his team wasn't skilled enough to finish the surgery themselves, and that the patient would die if he left his post, Dr. Vitale continued to work through his pain to get the patient to a point where his team could take over safely. Then, a half hour later the doctor underwent surgery of his own to repair his damaged heart.

An Italian surgeon managed to complete a brain operation despite suffering an angina attack during the procedure.

Claudio Vitale, 59, insisted on finishing the surgery in Naples before undergoing his own operation to clear an artery which had clotted up. Despite the intense pain and the sake for his own well-being, Dr. Vitale refused to abandon the operation to remove a tumour, even though he needed emergency treatment.

According to reports, Mr Vitale started to feel chest pains part way through the operation at Naples' Cardarelli Hospital. When the pains worsened, Mr Vitale's team urged him to stop the procedure and get treatment, but he refused. He agreed to undergo a blood test, which confirmed a heart problem, but the neurosurgeon insisted on completing the operation before getting medical help.

Half an hour after finishing the surgery, Mr Vitale had an angioplasty operation to treat an angina attack.

"I couldn't leave [the patient] at such a delicate moment," Mr Vitale was quoted by La Repubblica newspaper as saying. "I'm not a hero, I only did my duty," he said.

I say, No sir. You are truly a hero...And worthy of a Hall of Fame induction. Less-men would have let the patient die. Both Vitale and the patient lived through the procedure and are said to be living normal lives.

Capt. Chesley Sullenberger III

By now we have all heard about the pilot who guided an airline jet to a safe landing in the Hudson River despite the fact that both engines had failed on the plane. But it doesn't mean this cool-headed man isn't worthy of induction to The Bigfoot Diaries inaugural class of the Hall of Fame.

"It was very quiet as we worked, my co-pilot and I. We were a team. But to have zero thrust coming out of those engines was shocking," he said.

Yeah. I imagine it was. A normal pilot would have choked up and kissed his ass good-bye in that situation. Instead Sullenberger and his co-pilot remained calm, and despite the loss of engine power, somehow (and miraculously) guided the giant air bus into the Hudson River for a safe water landing. All 155 people on board survived, with little or no injuries.

Well done sir. You are truly a hero and an inspiration. Especially in this day and age when the only news seems to be negative news.

Johnny Cash

Really now... Do I have to explain this one?

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Exiled in Cardinal Country

Since the move I have found myself enjoying life a heck of a lot more, and working a heck of a lot less. And with all that free time, I have been able to do something that I really haven't had the opportunity to do over the last couple of summers... Watch baseball.

I have been watching at least a game a day for what seems like weeks now, and while that might seem boring to most, it fits perfectly into my new world agenda of laying on the sofa in the evenings and watching television.

Now, as a Cubs fan one might expect most games I watch are of the Chicago National League team, but that really hasn't been the case. We nodded out of our Dish Network renewal when we moved and opted instead for Mediacom, which to those of you who live in Zimbabwe, is a cable television outlet.

Unfortunately for me however, Mediacom doesn't have the Fox Chicago regional channels, nor Comcast which hosts most of the Cubs games. The team Mediacom does feature most is that outfit in St. Louis, and despite my hatred towards the birds in red, it is nonetheless baseball, and my grievances towards Dish Network are such that I am willing to take a splintered baseball bat up the ass so to speak, at least for the duration of this baseball season. I am blessed with ESPN's coverage of baseball, and the occasional Cubs games on WGN. Other than that, it's at least one hated team on television virtually each and everyday. (I have found that it is just as fun to root AGAINST the Cardinals as it is to root FOR the Cubs because lately the Cubs have been just as good as the Cardinals have been bad. The satisfaction is all mine.)

To take the complications in my life even further, I work outside during the day. I mow big grassy fields and I have the luxury of being able to listen through headphones to an old transistor sports radio that I have had for years while I am working. The Cubs play alot of day baseball, which is nice. On a non-windy clear day I can pull 1350 KRNT out of Des Moines and listen to the Cubs broadcast with Pat Hughes and Ronny Santo. But most days in central Iowa are windy and cloudy, so reception isn't always there when I want it. There are several other stations close to 1350 on the dial that have a stronger signal that jam up the short term frequency of my non-digital sports radio. One of the stations that makes for a lot of interference into my baseball utopia is the local station KCOB, which lies at 1280 on the dial. It's a double whammy because when KCOB isn't playing cheesy country ballads that make me throw up in my mouth, they are playing... You guessed it... Cardinals baseball.

But my love for the game persists. Baseball is in it's purest form when it's broadcast on the radio, and despite the fact that John Rooney and Mike Shannon are complete buffoons, the Cardinals broadcast IS a step better than the suicide driving country music that the station normally plays. Let me elaborate for a minute... Ken Harrelson, who broadcasts television games for the Chicago White Sox is the absolute worst television baseball announcer in MLB history... Even worse than those tools who do the Fox coverage, Joe Buck and Tim McCarver. Harrelson's quirky little sayings and his personal politics are very unwelcome to a baseball broadcast and never mind the fact that he is a complete idiot, who inserts his foot into his mouth at least once a week during the long baseball season. Without the addition of Steve Stone in the booth, an announcer that actually has a brain, Harrelson would shrivel up like a dandelion shot with Round-Up during each broadcast, eventually spontaneously combusting into a stuttering cloud of incomprehensible smoke. His backwoods and hickish demeanor actually taints the splendor of baseball, and brings to MLB what Al Davis and the Oakland Raiders bring to the NFL.

Now if you are wondering where I am going with this, here comes my point. Mike Shannon and John Rooney are the two most boring and incompetent baseball announcers to ever do a radio broadcast, and they together are like Ken Harrelson times two. They remind me of a couple of old men telling fishing stories... Long drawn out yarns of the ones that got away, though done in a steady monotone that fails to excite, or to keep the listener from um... Listening. I find myself spacing off whenever these idiots are on, to a point that I forget that I am even listening to a baseball game. you NEVER get that with Santo and Hughes... The story they tell is full of wonder, vibrant colors and excitement. I am seriously shocked that Cardinal Nation hasn't revolted and lobbied to get these two morons out of the radio booth.

But yeah... I'm looking forward to summer and enjoying the national pastime. Baseball is as pure as it gets for entertainment, and never has a more perfect game been played. As a Cubs fan who is truly kept in exile, I am lobbying to you Cardinals fans to take the first step towards the revolt I spoke of and get somebody with a brain into the radio broadcast booth. If you don't have the common sense or the decency to do it for yourselves, please do it for me... And meanwhile I will be using the Mute button when the Buck McCarver sideshow is on.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Things You Shouldn’t do for 5 Minutes with a Bagel for $500

This post was written by Guest Blogger Marci Tribble who lives in New York City. She used to manage her own blog which was called Subliminal Silence, which she has since abandoned. Her stories of free beer and the shenanigans that ensued were timeless. She says she wants to start blogging again, and this is that first baby step forward... Thank you Marci!

I work for a hospital in the Psychiatry Department at an off site clinic. I often have to walk a mile to the hospital to explore different ways to waste my time for meetings. Today was one of those days. I took off on my hike early so I could eat lunch in the hospital cafeteria before my meeting. I get excited about this because the hospital food only PARTLY makes me want to vomit. Since I work in the hood, my normal options are chinese food with feathers in it or fried fish with mayonnaise, both of which make me actually vomit.

It was 2pm so most people are done eating and there are only a few people in the cafeteria. An old man walks in and gets a bagel and loudly yells that there is no toaster. He comes out and sees a microwave and puts the bagel in it. He then proceeds to sit down at the table next to me. About 3 minutes later, I am off in my own world thinking about world domination when I notice the smoke monster from “LOST” (the one that makes the noise of a cab printing a receipt) out of the corner of my eye. Being someone that refuses to be taken out by a stupid smoke monster, I get up and start Kung Fu Fighting look to see who is going to fix the problem. A cafeteria worker runs and opens the microwave and smoke fills the entire cafeteria. She looks at me as if it is my responsibility to claim the burning bagel. I try to get old guys attention but he is deaf so I walk over to his table:

Me: “Sir, I think your bagel is burning”

Old Dude: “Why is it your problem, I want it burned!!” and proceeds to flail his arms in the air in an attempt to get me out of his face.

Me: “In that case, I think your bagels ready”

By this time the smoke has run people out of the cafeteria and there is talk in the distance about calling the fire department. I look back and everyone in the cafeteria is still looking at me as if I am responsible for this old guy. This is when I notice the bagel is actually on fire, as in flames coming off a black piece of charcoal. A woman sitting next to the microwave pours her soda on it.

The old guy just sits there as if he doesn’t realize that there is no longer oxygen in the air. Realizing that I am on my lunch break and I should only be dealing with crazies when I am not on break, I gather my trash and try to run for the exit, at which point I hear the man call to me. I turn around to see that he is finally noticed his wet bagel ash and asks me if I “am going to replace his bagel that I burned”. This is when the faux fire fighter chimed in and said “you can replace my soda while your at it”. I decided work was better than this so I put on my confused face and walked away.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Life Adjusted

Jeebus, I haven't posted since St. Patty's Day?

Well... Some hangovers take longer to heal than others. In this case however, it wasn't a night of heavy drinking that developed into my absence, but more like a mental hangover... Or maybe adjustment works better. St. Patty's Day did play a major part in this mental correction, but only because I missed the holiday completely.

See, I had plans to go out on St. Patty's Day. My friend William has a kilt that he has worn in years prior, and this year he was offering it up to me in lieu of a lime green polyester jumpsuit he acquired at a local thrift consignment shop. The idea was that with me donning his quilt and he in his jumpsuit, we would go out and hit the hot spots and see what kind of  shnenanigans we could get ourselves into, all under the constant eye of a video camera. The idea was to have fun, drink heavily and mingle with strangers, and to have a photo journal of it as it happened. But as was the  case way too often, our plans... Well at least mine... Were foiled by my job, which was becoming an ever looming dark shadow on my personal life. It was getting to a point to where my personal time was getting sucked up by an increased work level, which in turn was making me want to work less and less. I wasn't being financially compensated for this extra effort, and frankly the friendly pat on the back that said I was doing a good job had become non-existent too. So, in a sense I was working for nothing, with no personal benefit, and right around St. Patty's Day the proverbial shit hit the fan. I realized that I was spending less time with my daughter, as I was constantly working during the weekends of her visits. I was missing out on the little things in life too, such as making that video journal of a shenanigan filled Irish holiday. I was growing to resent my job, which wasn't a good fit in a kid-friendly environment.

I realized my need for an adjustment in my life. I wasn't happy. I was working and living in the non-profit sector with kids... Something I love to do... And while that aspect of my soul was satisfied, the personal side of things was deteriorating rapidly. In kind of a leap of desperate faith, I decided to pull the plug on this slow drain and open up the valve to a new life. So, even though we had no money saved up and no real plan in motion, Essie and I decided to pack up and quit.

The move was easy. Things were packed up quickly, and with the help of a few friends with pick-up trucks, we were out of there in a flash. My father offered some garage space as a place for temporary storage, and luckily we had friends and family that were willing to host us throughout April, a month when Essie and I were virtually homeless. I found a job in Des Moines as quick as I could... Ironically in one of the Irish Pubs that I had planned on hitting on St. Patty's Day. The agreement was that I could work as long as I needed to, until I landed something a little more lucrative and stable. Frankly while it would make for a good video journal, a bar full of drunk Irish assholes isn't the epitome of stability... And when a summer mowing gig opened up, I jumped at the chance for the change. We moved from cabin in the woods to an apartment in small town Iowa, and the adjustment while slow, has been towards the positive.

For the first time in two months, I have the urge to write again. I have the Andy Shernoff interview half-way transcribed, and a couple of other ideas I am eager to get started on... I appreciate you hanging around.