Graham Crackers, Granola, and Masturbating

In 1830s Connecticut there lived an evangelical minister by the name of Sylvester Graham, and temperance movements were chugging along ruining parties by taking away all the alcohol. Unlike other religious reformists at the time who were concerned with alcohol, women’s rights, and tobacco use, Graham was more concerned with sex and masturbation. Graham claimed that recreational sex and masturbation were making Americans physically ill.

sylvester graham

Graham was a big proponent to the idea developed by a Swiss physician who theorized that “semen was an “essential oil” and “stimulus” that, when lost from the body in great amounts, would cause “a perceptible reduction of strength, of memory and even of reason; blurred vision, all the nervous disorders, all types of gout and rheumatism, weakening of the organs of generation, blood in the urine, disturbance of the appetite, headaches,” and PLENTY of other disorders similar to those you might hear as the adverse side-effects in a Viagra commercial.

The idea became popular enough that masturbation soon became widely viewed as a debilitating illness. It was even claimed that it could lead to blindness.

masturbation material

Graham took this idea and ran with it, making a name for himself giving popular speeches admonishing masturbation.

The James Brown of not masturbating, many women were known to have fainted during his anti-masturbation speeches.

He also believed that sex more than once a month was pathological. He likely thought this because he had 17 brothers and sisters. Meaning his parents NEVER. STOPPED. FUCKING. It is easy to see why he thought sex was a problem.

Graham encouraged people to take control of their health by repressing their carnal urges.

Salvation could be found through clean living and healthy food. The Graham diet consisted of mostly bland food with lots of whole grains, lots of fruits and vegetables, and excluded spices, meat, alcohol, tobacco, and even pepper was banned.

Because, as we all know, pepper causes an irresistible urge to masturbate.

innocent seasoning or the devils dandruff?

innocent seasoning or the devils dandruff?

Graham wasn’t just an extremist when it came to ones diet. He was known for his highly radical beliefs that bathing regularly, exposure to fresh air and sunlight, drinking clean water, wearing comfortable clothing, and exercising daily were good for you.

Thousands of people began to follow Graham, becoming known as Grahamites. Many of them lauded his diet claiming that it cured them of their numerous ailments. Contrary to the healthiness of Grahams diet, the typical meal at the time resembled something like what you might find in the grease trap of a McDonalds. Because of this many people suffered from Dyspepsia (aka intense, painful indigestion and bloating). Dyspepsia was so much a part of the American lifestyle, it was often referred to as AMERICANITIS. So, Grahams diet was embraced by a lot of people.

But there was an issue. Graham hated white bread. He saw white flower as a poor substitute for whole wheat, because it lead to a “lazy colon” he wrote in A Treatise on Bread, and Bread Making. Bakers were furious with his claims, so much so they attacked Graham at one of his speeches. One of his speeches was called off because it was assumed that it might lead to A RIOT OF BAKERS.

His ideas on diet and hygiene were largely ridiculed. Graham’s speaking fees swelled to as much as $300 per night as he began preaching of the dangers of feather beds, and tight corsets. He also criticized schools for being a waste of use of the brain, and for being bad for the genitals. His opinions soon lead to his drop in popularity.

Today, Graham is most famous for having developing his own process of making whole wheat flour which he used in his Graham bread,

known today… as Graham crackers.


Around the same time as Grahams ideas were gaining popularity a boy was born amongst the 7th Day Adventists; John Harvey Kellogg.


By the age of 24 Kellogg took over as chief physician at a sanitarium built by the 7th day Adventists, and revised Graham’s diet. He advised dieters to “Eat what the monkey eats”. He pushed for foods such as peanut butter (like what the monkeys eat).

He believed in multiple daily enemas and wearing diapers and exercising until you shat yourself..

Many famous people visited the sanitarium during his reign as chief physician: Henry Ford, J.C. Penny, Thomas Edison, William Howard Taft, and Amelia Earhart to name just a few.

After a hearty water enema in which gallons of water were used to wash out their bowels, patients were then given yogurt, which was to be taken both orally, and anally.

Kellogg was one of the most ardent anti-masturbators in America and was down on sex in general. He abstained from sex himself, never consummating his marriage of 4 decades.

Name any ailment you can think of; he blamed it on masturbating. Kellogg’s first solution for jerking off was a healthy diet. He proposed that plainer (bland) food, especially cereals and nuts could reduce sexual urges, so decided to create a new food; Granola. Kellogg began selling his miracle food and an industry was born.

You know it as Kellogg’s Cereal.


Kellogg, in his unending war on masturbation, promoted circumcision as a solution. He advised MANY parents that the circumcision of young boys, without anesthetic, could cure them of their masturbatory urges later in life. This practice crept into the culture on large, and is still popular to this day.

The reason why most all American men have parts of their dicks cut off when they’re born is because of the men who made Graham Crackers and Kellogg’s Cereal. 



Samuel Whittemore: The Octogenarian Soldier

He was born in 1695 in the area of North America that would later become Massachusetts.

But the tale of Samuel Whittemore doesn’t truly begin until late into his life.


The man himself: Samuel Whittemore

He served as a Captain in His Majesty’s Dragoons; A cavalry of men well known for their elite fighting abilities and their bloodthirst in battle.

Whittemore fought in King George’s War (1745) in which he lead a charge on the frozen shores of Nova Scotia, beating the everliving shit out of the French at their stronghold of Louisbourg. He emerged from the battle holding a bloody longsword claiming he had taken from a french officer who had, quote, “died suddenly”.

He did all of this at the age of 50, in a time when being 50 was comparable to being so past his expiration date that he was probably a ghost.

After the war, he spent some of his time on board a ship hunting pirates. A great thing to put on ones resume at the time.

13 years later, after the French had managed to steal back and reinforce the Louisbourg stronghold, Whittemore, returned now at the youthful age of 64, and served in the second siege of Louisbourg (during what is known to us as the 7 Years War (which actually lasted 9 years but whatever)), and pummelled the French into submission, yet again.

Samuel Whittemore was ever ready to drop his farming tools, grab his weapons, and return to war.

Just 4 years after trouncing the French for the second time, Whittemore served in the Indian Wars against the great Chief Pontiac (who we named a car after I guess), a war which raged across the Great Lakes. He returned home to his farm on what was referred to as the best horse anyone had ever laid eyes on, and with a matching pair of dueling pistols he had ‘liberated’ from an Indian warrior he had met.

chief pontiac

In all, Whittemore served in 3 wars in America before America had even existed. But his story doesn’t end there.

He soon settled down in Massachusetts, married two women (at different times of course), had eight children. But the bloodlust was strong in him, and he soon found another outlet for it. The American Revolution, in which, he became a national hero.

In April 1775, the British/American colonies had had enough of British rule, and revolted.

On April 19th 1775, 1800 British troops marched from Boston to Concord to capture rebel munitions. Upon their arrival in Concord, they searched, but found no munitions, which had been cleverly hidden. Giving up in their search for the munitions, the British then began an orderly retreat to Boston.

They were harassed constantly on their retreat by American militiamen who took potshots at the idiots who were dumb enough to wear uniforms that made them amazingly easy targets. None harassed them more than Captain Samuel Whittemore himself, now teetering at a respectable 80 years old. 

When the British Regiment came storming through his home town of Menotomy, Whittemore, never one to be left out of a war, grabbed his rifle, and took action.

Whittemore, flying solo, positioned himself behind a stone wall, waited in ambush, and then single-handedly engaged the entire British 47th regiment with nothing more than his musket.

He fired one shot, taking out a soldier instantly, but there was a problem. Muskets took at least 20 seconds to reload, so he drew his twin duelling pistols and continued his assault, killing another 2 men. It was at this point that a British detachment charged him, and it was also at this point that Samuel Whittemore, aged 80, unsheathed his longsword and went to work. He stood his ground, in hand-to-hand combat, against a dozen of well-trained soldiers, all of whom were young enough to be his grandchildren.

The encounter did not end well for Samuel Whittemore. He was shot in the face, knocked down, and bayoneted 13 times. The British then, assured of his fate, left him for dead, and continued their march back to base.


When his fell militiamen rushed from their hiding places to check on his body, they found a half dead Whittemore, still trying to reload his weapon and exact his vengeance, all the while sitting in a pool of his own blood.

Whittemore recovered from his wounds, survived the entire war, and lived until 1793, at which point he finally died from an overdose of being tremendous. He was 98 years old.

He was declared a state hero in 2005 by the Massachusetts state legislature, and given his own memorial marker. On it reads:

Near This Spot

Samuel Whittemore,

Then 80 Years Old

Killed Three British Soldiers

April 19, 1776.

He Was Shot, Bayoneted,

Beaten And Left For Dead,

But Recovered And Lived

To Be 98 Years Of Age.


Sunny With A Chance Of Meat Showers

March 3rd, 1876

This tale begins on an ordinary day in ordinary Bath County, Kentucky where a local farmers wife, Mrs. Crouch, was outside making ordinary soap in her ordinary yard.

Between 11 o’clock and 12 o’clock I was in my yard not more than 40 steps from the house,“ she later told reporters. “There was a light wind coming from the West, but the sky was clear and the sun was shining brightly.

It was under these exact circumstances when, without any warning of any kind, the shower commenced.

Globules of meat poured forth from the heavens upon and around Mrs. Crouch and her yard soap.

meat shower

When the flesh began to fall I saw a large piece strike the ground close by me, with a snapping-like noise when it struck. The largest piece that I saw was as long as my hand and about a half inch wide. It looked gristly, as if it had been torn from the throat of some animal.

Mrs. Crouch and her husband watched in amazement for several minutes as raw meat, some pieces as small and delicate as snowflakes, others as big as 3 inches square, rained down from the sky.

When asked, Mrs. Crouch was unable to decide whether the shower had been a miracle or a warning.

Personally, unless you’re starving to death, its probably safe to assume that meat rain is not a miracle. If you’re making yard soap however, then yeah its probably a warning.

The Kentucky Meat Shower as it was soon referred to, left an area of the farmyard 100 feet long and 50 feet wide strewn with fallen flesh.


The shower drew plenty of attention from neighbors and newspaper reporters who quickly ventured to the farm to gaze upon and examine the mysterious sky meat.

Many offered up their opinions on what the sky meat may be, but no consensus could be made on what kind of meat it was. One neighbor, a hunter by trade, went so far as to declare it to be bear meat.

By this logic we can conclude that a flying bear exploded over the Crouch’s yard.

Several took it upon themselves to taste the meat. Two men ate it and declared it to be either mutton or venison (lamb or deer). A local butcher who also tried a piece declared it to be neither fowl or fish, and that it smelled unique, unlike anything he had come across before.

The sky meat smell confounded him.

With no one able to distinctly identify the meat, samples were gathered for proper study by the faculty members at Transylvania University.

In other words, the Sky Bear/Mutton/Venison Meat was being experimented on at Vampire U.

Samples were sent to numerous scientists across the country in hopes of determining the sky meat’s true identity.

A Professor J. L. Smith initially believed the sky meat to be dried frog-spawn, picked up from a pond and strewn about by the wind. This theory was soon abandoned.

Another scientist declared the Kentucky wonder was nothing more than the “Nostoc of an old alchemist; a strange-looking vegetable mass.” Basically, meat-like vegetables.

A Dr. L.D. Kastenbine heated a sample over a Bunsen burner and after examining the odor claimed that the meat was without a doubt mutton.

But still, other doctors argued that it wasn’t mutton. Some identified it, after looking at it under a microscope, as the lung tissue from either a horse or a human infant.

So at this point in the story we’ve now come to the conclusion that somehow Sky Horse/Human Baby Lungs have exploded over a quaint farm in Kentucky.

Finally, a consensus was reached when one doctor proclaimed that many kinds of meat had fallen in the meat shower, not simply one type.

So we’ve determined that it is, in fact, Meat. But the question remains:

Where did it come from?

William Livingston Alden of the New York Times offered two possibilities:

  1. The shower had been some odd form of Meteor (Meatier) Shower.

According to the present theory of astronomers, an enormous belt of meteoric stones constantly revolves around the sun, and when the earth comes in contact with this belt she is soundly pelted,” he wrote. “Similarly, we may suppose that there revolves about the sun a belt of venison, mutton, and other meats, divided into small fragments, which are precipitated upon the earth whenever the latter crosses their path.

2)  The shower had been a whirlwind of cut up people parts.

A terrible suspicion has since grown up that the shower actually consisted of finely-hashed citizens of Kentucky, who had been caught in a whirlwind while engaged in a little ‘difficulty’ with Bowie knives and strewn over their astonished State.

It’s good to see that  the New York Times has always been a bastion of fine reporting and higher thought.

It is fitting somehow that the most believable explanation offered for the Kentucky Meat Shower is also the most disgusting of them. It is believed that the meat shower was likely the result of a flock of passing vultures vomiting up excess food after having recently feasted on a carcass or two. It is not unheard of for some flocks to collectively relieve themselves if they have eaten too much, and it would explain the variety of the sky meat.

In the end, no one is certain of what caused the Kentucky Meat Shower. Was it a Meatier Shower, an Exploding Bear, or simply Vomiting Vultures?

meat shower

Sadly, it is a mystery that will remain unsolved forevermore.


Marvin and his Killdozer

Did you read the title? Then you know where this is going.

Marvin Heemeyer (pronounce that however you want) was a put upon muffler repair man living in Granby, Colorado. He also had a small chain of muffler shops in surrounding cities. He leased out all but one of the shops to other operators. The one exception, Mountain View Muffler, he ran personally.

Friends and neighbors seemed to like Marvin, many went so far as to say that he’d “bend over backwards for anyone”, though some say he also had an explosive temperament. Marvin was very into local politics, and was a big proponent for legal gambling. He published newsletters to spread his views.

*Authors Notes: Political views + Newsletters = Some crazy shit’s about to go down.*

A local reporter interviewed Marvin for an editorial opposed to legalized gambling. Marvin was so upset by the opposing views the reporter brought up that a fight almost broke out.

Marvin was known for violent threats. One time he threatened to kill a customers husband because he refused to pay for a poorly done muffler repair.

This quote sums up Marvin’s character marvelously: “If Marv was your friend, he was your best friend, but if he decided that he was your enemy, then he was your worst and most dangerous enemy.

It was late into the 1990s when the Docheff family came to Marv with an offer to buy his muffler shop in order to construct a concrete plant there. Marvin had purchased the land for $42,000, and the Docheffs were willing to buy it for $250,000. The deal fell through when Marvin demanded they pay him $375,000 instead.

The Docheffs, not wanting to deal with crazy man Heemeyer, decided instead to go to the Granby city council in order to rezone the land around Marvins muffler shop.

Marvin didn’t like that.

He attended numerous town meetings to try and protect his interests, but was ultimately unsuccessful. In 2001, the Granby city council approved the zoning request. To add insult to injury, the city council also fined Marvin $2,500 for not having his shop hooked up to the sewer line.

He appealed to the zoning commission to build a sewer line that would run under the land now zoned for the concrete plant, but was again unsuccessful. Marvin even bought a bulldozer to build a road that would lead to his muffler shop, because the concrete factory was now being built on the one and only road that had previously lead to it.

Marvin was at the end of his rope. He sent the $2500 to the city council (the memo line contained one word, “Cowards”), and then sold his muffler shop. He was given 6 months to leave the land.

Marvin Heemeyer then got to work on his revenge. The bulldozer that he had intended to use to save his business was moved to his muffler shop for some… modifications.

It took him a year and a half to construct, but by the end of it Marvin had added armor to protect the cab, engine, and parts of the tracks. Thus was born, The Killdozer.

Marvel at this wonderfully monstrous machination.

Marvel at this wonderfully monstrous machination.

Front and rear cameras were installed so that he could see his surroundings on a monitor in the cab. He even installed Gun ports around the cab so he could shoot out from them.


One of the several gun ports Marvin installed in the Killdozer.

He tricked this thing out like it was the Batmobile. Hell, the damn thing even had air conditioning.

In the one of the many notes and letters he wrote during the construction of The Killdozer, Heemeyer claims, “I was always willing to be reasonable until I had to be unreasonable. Sometimes reasonable men must do unreasonable things.

On the morning of June 4th, 2004, Marvin climbed into his Killdozer, lowered the thirty-ton armor shell onto the monstrous machine (trapping himself inside) and — at 3:00pm exactly — drove through the wall of his shed and into the newly constructed concrete plant.

In only a few minutes, Marvin destroyed two buildings and completely demolished several vehicles in his rampage.

Just one of the many vehicles the Killdozer demolished on its rampage.

Just one of the many vehicles the Killdozer demolished on its rampage.

Marvin and his Killdozer then headed for the highway towards the city. He even managed to crush one of the Police SUVs tailing him and his slow one-man-bunker. Police were unsuccessful in stopping Heemeyer even after an Undersheriff climbed atop the Killdozer and used 37 rounds from his service pistol to attempt to break in.

The police were powerless in the face of the Killdozer. Bullets, explosives, etc, nothing could stop the beastly machine. All they could do was evacuate civilians from the path of the KILLDOZER.

Heemeyer sought out and destroyed several specific targets on his rampage, including the home of a former mayor, the office of a newspaper that had sided against him in an editorial, the businesses of a former city councilman, and the city hall.

Granby police were desparate. So desperate that they too acquired some heavy machinery to battle the Killdozer, but again were overwhelmed by the Killdozer strength.

It was an hour and thirteen ruined structures later before the police resistance began to slow Heemeyer. The radiator had sprung a leak causing the Killdozer to lose horsepower. In a final act of destruction, Heemeyer drove into the wall of a nearby hardware store, and remained immobile.

As SWAT approached, a single gunshot was heard from the Killdozer, signaling the end of a 2 hour rampage that had caused over $7 million in damages to the city. It took twelve hours to break open the tank to access Heemeyer’s body in the cab.

Men as they were attempting to crack open the Killdozer's cement slab armour.

Men as they were attempting to crack open the Killdozer’s cement slab armour.

Despite the sheer destruction of the event, Heemeyer is the only casualty of his rampage; he failed to kill or harm anyone other than himself and a couple of buildings that were likely asking for it.


The High Flying Ford Pinto

There are a plethora of automobile stories I could have discussed in this post. Theres one where in the 1800s the only two cars in the entire state of Ohio crashed into each other. Theres also the story of the first speeding ticket which was given for going 8 miles an hour (a blazing 3 miles over the legal limit).

Yes, there are plenty of car stories to tell, but none, and I mean NONE, are so compelling and preposterous as that of The Ford Pinto’s.

Nothing even comes close.

It was the 1960s and small foreign auto imports were becoming popular in America. Up until this point in time U.S. car makers were only producing large cars. In order to compete with the increasingly popular Japanese imports they decided to produce some smaller cars.

Lee Iacocca, President of Ford at the time, demanded that a car be produced for less than $2000 while also weighing less than 2000 pounds.

A new player entered the game: The Ford Pinto.

Ford Pinto 1

Marketed as “The Little Carefree Car”, The Ford Pinto (aka “The Bean You Can Drive”) contained a 4 cylinder engine. It’s main competition in the small car market were the Volkswagen Beetle, the Toyota Corolla, and the Hyundai Civic.

It went on sale on September 11th, 1970 (An Omen if I ever saw one).

When first released the only body style available was a trunked fastback coupe. A hatchback soon became available on February 20th, 1971, and by January of 1971 the Pinto had sold over 100,000 units.

352,000 Pintos were sold for the entire 1972 production run.

And 544,000 Pintos were sold in 1974, there largest production year.

One cause for the quick popularity of the Pinto was the gas crisis in the 1970s.

Up until then, Americans were used to getting 30 cents a gallon for gasoline.

gas prices pinto

*Author’s Note: The lucky bastards didn’t know how good they had it.*

Because gas had been so plentiful, American car manufacturers had never had to deal with dropping weight in the vehicle in order to increase gas mileage.

Consequently, The Ford Pinto contained a major and potentially disastrous design flaw.

*Author’s Note: Here’s where it gets good.* 

The car had no classic heavyweight bumper, and there was  little reinforcement between the rear panel and the gas tank.

Because of this, if the Pinto was rear ended it was far too easy for the fuel tank to rupture. A rather minor collision had the potential to rupture the fuel tank. Even worse the fuel tank could be driven into the differential, and punctured by the bolts which held it in place.

Thats not just some little flaw. The Pinto was essentially a Bumperless Bomb. 

Oh, and the doors were also known to easily jam after an accident due to poor structural design.

So, it was designed, when rear ended, to catch on fire and explode while also jamming the doors shut trapping you inside.

All for under $2000!

Ford was FULLY aware of the construction problems.

A stolen copy of a memo sent out to all of the senior management at the Ford Motor Company was later published describing just how much Ford knew about the problems with the Pinto.

I won’t bore you with the minutia of the memo , so I’ll list the relevant details from it.

  1. Ford believed they were going to sell 11 million Ford Pintos.
  2. It would cost $11 to fix the problem with the bumper on each car. ($11 per unit)
  3. If they were to go ahead with a total recall it would cost them around $135 million.

Simple enough right? Just pay the money and make the car safer for the customer.

Instead, Ford decided to do some further calculations.

  1. They estimated that a total of around 2,100 Ford Pintos might be involved in accidents.
  2. Of those accidents there may be around 180 burn deaths, 180 serious burn injuries, and 2,100 burned out vehicles.
  3. Assuming out of court settlements, Ford anticipated that they would pay $200,000 per burn death, $67,000 per burn injury, and $700 per burned out vehicle.
  4. Assuming all of these costs, Ford anticipated they would pay roughly $49.53 million.

Allowing the accidents to occur ensured Ford a net savings of a modest $70 million.

As a result of their calculations Ford determined mathematically that a human life was worth less than $11.


It wasn’t until the publication of the stolen memo that Ford finally conducted a recall in 1978 in which they installed a plastic shield to fix the problem.

So you might be asking yourself, “Where is this dummy going with all this? That was a good car story, but I’m sure there are better ones.”

WRONG. I just got to the good part.

In 1971 Advanced Vehicle Engineers was founded by Henry Smolinski and his best friend Hal Blake for the sole purpose of designing and building…


You’re never going to believe the car they used.

The concept was simple. They would take a regular car and a small airplane and weld that shit together. This way a regular joe like you or me could drive the car to an airport, fit it  with the wings, take off from the runway, soar through the skies, land at your desired destination, take off the wings, and drive off on our merry way.

They cut up a Cessna Skymaster and a Ford Pinto and fitted them together.

The result was thus: 

pinto 2

Only 4 pins were used to combine the Pinto with the wings. The drivers controls were adapted so the driver/pilot could control the airframe by steering the wheel, and the Pinto’s dashboard was fitted with numerous flight instruments, gauges, gyros, radio navigation equipment and more.

In the air the craft had a cruising speed of 130 mph, a range of 1000+ miles, and a ceiling (height limit) of 12000 feet.

On an early flight test done in 1973, the right wing mounting attachment failed causing a premature landing in a bean field (admire the beautiful beautiful irony). Upon crash landing, the pilot simply drove it back to the testing facility.

In one of the numerous press conferences held about the development of the flying car, Smolinski (the inventor of the craft) lauded the simplicity of the combination, claiming that it was so easy even a woman could do it. A mighty claim indeed.

On September 11th, 1973 (Yup, definitely an Omen) the pilot who normally flew the craft was not available for the scheduled test flight. So, Smolinski and Blake decided to take his place and fly it themselves.

About 2 minutes after take off the crafts right wing folded in causing The Pinto to fall, strike the top of a tree, crash into a pickup truck, and explode vigorously.

Both inventors died in the fiery mayhem that enveloped the Flying Pinto.

The Coroner was unable to tell what exactly had killed the men; smoke inhalation, the explosion, or the impact.

One thing for certain though was that all three were very much at play.

And thus ends the story of the Ford Pinto, the Flying Car that almost was.



The USS Willie D

The USS William D. Porter was a Fletcher-class destroyer in the US Navy during WWII named after Commodore William D. Porter.

Porter had served in the United States civil war and was famously known for having managed to steer his ship to safety despite having been partially blinded and severely burned from a pierced boiler.

This story however, isn’t about him. This story is of the boat named after him, and it’s bumbling misadventures during WWII.


The ship, referred to by the crew as the Willie D, was one of hundreds of destroyers that the US hurriedly churned out during WWII. It was put into service in July of 1943, with a crew of 125 men. Because there were so many ships at the time, the pool of experienced and qualified crewman was remarkably diluted. Of the 125 men on the Willie D, few were experienced; most had been in high school or working on farms not too long beforehand.

Try to imagine an unruly college frat running a Navy destroyer and you’ll have a pretty good idea of how the crew operated and looked.

Little time was available for training, and after only 4 short months the Willie D was assigned to one of the most critical and highly secret missions the Navy had ever undertaken. An escort mission involving… the President of the United States of America.

President Roosevelt (FDR) was traveling to French North Africa to meet with: British Prime Minister William Churchill, Leader of the Soviet Union Joseph Stalin, and an important (but irrelevant to this story) Chinese general.

Stalin, FDR, and Churchhill

Joseph “Man O’ Steel” Stalin, Franklin D. Roosevelt aka “Wheels”, and Winston “Bulldog” Churchill

No one was to know about the trip until FDR had arrived safely at the meeting. The President and his party of around 80 others quietly slipped out of Washington aboard his fancy presidential yacht, sailed down the Potomac River, and met up with the USS Iowa in Chesapeake Bay.


The USS Iowa.

Also on board were the Secretary of State and numerous other Joint Chiefs of Staff. Everyone who was anyone was on this boat trip.

The mission was also so confidential that none of the crew even knew the details of their mission until FDR had been rolled onboard.

The USS Iowa snuck back out to sea under orders to maintain absolute radio silence. It was to meet up and be escorted by a total of two aircraft carriers, and three destroyers to protect it from the German submarines littering the Atlantic. One of those destroyers was the Willie D.

Things went wrong IMMEDIATELY.

Captain Wilfred Walter, of the Willie D backed the ship out of its berth near Norfolk, Virginia.

There was a horrible noise.

The Willie D’s anchor had snagged onto the ship beside it ripping it to shreds. Railings, life rafts, a small boat, and other vital equipment were all torn from their fellow ship. The crew of the Willie D had failed to pull up their anchor all the way. Overall, the Willie D sustained little damage other than a couple of scratches and a stern talking to.

The Willie D then met up with the other ships and the mission commenced. At maximum speed the trip would take 8 days. During the voyage the ships and their crews were to continue with the training and drills they usually conducted when at sea.

About 48 hours into the mission, the ships were traveling through an area known to be filled with U-boats when an explosion rocked the water.

Immediately, all of the ships went into evasive maneuvers believing they were under attack, until they realized what had truly happened.

The Willie D had been running a training exercise, in which they pretended to drop disarmed depth charges into the ocean. But the crew had forgotten to disarm their anti-submarine weapons. If fact, they hadn’t even dropped the depth charges into the water. One of them had quite simply rolled off of the deck… and exploded.

The Willie D was extremely lucky the depth charge had sank somewhat before exploding, because it might have blown the stern (the backside) off of the ship had it not.

There was also another strange incident in which the Willie D was hit by a freak wave. It washed away anything that wasn’t tied down including one crewman, who was never to be seen again. The wave also knocked out the ships boiler causing a loss in power whereupon the Willie D fell behind the other boats.

Admiral Ernest King called the Willie D and told them to get their shit together. They did not.

It was at this point that FDR asked to see a demonstration of how the USS Iowa would react if it were to come under attack by the Germans (instead of by one of their own ships). He wanted to see how the crew would perform if there were an aerial attack.

In order to do this, large balloons were released into the sky to simulate enemy planes, which were then shot down by the Iowa’s impressive anti-aircraft guns.

Most of the balloons never stood a chance, but they ultimately missed some of them.

Captain Walker, of the Willie D, wanted to make up for his mistakes and recover his reputation as ship captain. So he gave the order to shoot the shit out of the balloons coming towards them.

The balloons coming towards them from the direction of the Iowa.

The Iowa… where the President was.

But, everything went okay. In fact, they managed to down the leftover balloons and nothing went wrong.

That is, until Captain Walker decided to take it one step further. He wanted to show off to the entire fleet what the Willie D was really made of, so he ordered the practice firing of a couple of disarmed torpedoes.


They pretended to fire the first torpedo.


They pretended to fire the second torpedo


WHOOSH!!! A live torpedo speed away from the Willie D.

USS Roosevelt (DDG 80) is on a scheduled deployment in route to support maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th fleet area of responsibility.

Now here is a very important detail to the story that you should know. In order to do the drill the crewman had to pick a target, so…


The next few minutes aboard the Willie D were pure unadulterated pandemonium. Everyone ran in circles shouting conflicting instructions, all the while attempting to figure out how to warn the Iowa.

They too were under the strict radio silence order, and they decided to maintain it despite having FIRED A TORPEDO AT THE PRESIDENT. So instead they chose to use signal lights, a MUCH slower form of communication. A crewman was sent to relay the message, but he was understandably a little freaked out. Partly because a couple of months ago he had been working on a farm, and now he was trying to save the life of the President with a flashlight.

He signaled to the Iowa that there was a live torpedo in the water… but that it was heading in the other direction (away from the Iowa).

He quickly realized his mistake and tried again. This time relaying that the Willie D was going in full reverse speed. Again, he was understandably frazzled.

The Willie D couldn’t wait any longer. It’d been two minutes since the torpedo had been fired when they finally decided to break radio silence to tell the Iowa.

Upon hearing of the incoming explosive, President Roosevelt, being the coolest man alive, asked the secret service to roll him out onto the edge of the USS Iowa so he could see the torpedo approaching. He had his men pull their guns to shoot at the torpedo as it came closer, because there is no better target practice than torpedo target practice.

The Iowa made a sharp turn, just narrowly avoiding the torpedo, which blew up in their wake.

The Iowa then aimed ALL of her main guns at the Willie D, assuming that they had been taken over, because obviously nobody could be stupid enough to actually fire a torpedo at the ship with the President on it.

They grossly overestimated the Willie D and her crew.

Captain Walter tried to assure them that it was an accident, but was ordered by Admiral King to leave the fleet and sail to Bermuda. There they found themselves facing armed Marines who were there to arrest every single member of the crew.

This is the first and only time an entire Navy crew has been arrested.

The ship was then surrounded by sea mines.

The crewman who finally copped to having left the primer attached admitted to having thrown the evidence overboard during the panic after the torpedo had been launched. He was sentenced to 14 years hard labour, but FDR intervened and had him released because the incident had after all been an accident. FDR was a pretty cool dude.

For years after, the crew was frequently hailed with the greeting, “Don’t shoot, we’re Republicans!”

The Willie D became even more of a black sheep, and was placed where it was believed it could do the least amount harm: Alaska.

All was well for about a year…

Until just before the Willie D was to leave for assignment, some sailors got a little too drunk. They then decided to have a little fun and shoot one of the big guns. They fired one shell, having absolutely no idea where it would land.


It landed in the Base Commander’s front yard and blew his flower garden to smithereens.

That same Base Commander also happened to be home, hosting a dinner party for fellow officers and their wives when it happened. A lovely way to end an evening, if I do say so myself.

The Willie D was then sent to campaign in the Pacific, where they actually fought rather well. Probably because of the new captain and the now more seasoned crew.

In late March 1945, the Willie D was sent far out into the ocean to intercept incoming Japanese aircraft.

They took another blow to their reputation when they managed to riddle a fellow ship with gunfire. Which is a natural thing that totally happens when firing at planes really high up in the sky.

On June 10th 1945, the Willie D fell victim to a truly one-of-a-kind kamikaze attack.

*Author’s Note: Fun Fact: Only 3% of Kamikaze pilots were successful. Also many of them were high on methamphetamines given to them before their missions*


As one of the Kamikazes came in low heading straight towards the Willie D, they successfully shot it down before it could hit the ship. They celebrated, but the attack was not over.

The Japanese plane had been flying so fast that when it hit the water, it continued to move towards the ship. It finally exploded, directly under the Willie D.



The ship was lifted out of the water, all power was lost, and fires broke out throughout the entirety of the ship. 3 hours were spent fighting the fires before the order was finally given to abandon ship. Not one man on the Willie D died.

photo of the sinking of the uss willie d

Photo of the crew of the USS Willie D being evacuated shortly before the ship sank

*Author’s Note: A man named Richard McCool (his actual name) was awarded the Medal of Honor for assisting in the rescue of the survivors of the USS Willie D.*

The Willie D is the only Navy vessel to have ever fallen victim to an underwater Kamikaze attack.

Thus ended the colorful career of the USS Willie and its crew.

No one knew of the Willie D’s misadventures until 1958 when the official records were finally released to the public.


Rube Waddell aka The Rube

Baseball is an American pastime, and the sport has featured countless icons over the century.

Babe Ruth, Jackie Robinson, Mickey Mantle, and Cy Young to name just a few.

But one man goes unacknowledged, despite his outstanding contributions to the game, and I believe that it’s about time he was recognized for them.


Rube Waddell aka The Rube

Today I’m going to tell you the story of Rube Waddell, aka The Rube.

*Author’s Note: ‘Rube’ wasn’t his actual name (George Edward Waddell), but its what he went by for the rest of his life so I’m sticking with it.*

Now, Rube is my favorite baseball player, not because he is one of the greatest strikeout pitchers in the history of baseball, not because he set almost every pitching record there was at the time, and not because he was one of the most feared pitchers in baseball.

Rube Waddell is my favorite baseball player of all time, because he was an AMAZING idiot.

How stupid was he, you ask?

If Rube had a bright idea, it was beginners luck.

If Rube’s brain was a hamster wheel, the wheel’d be spinning, but the hamster’d be dead.

Rube couldn’t have poured water out of a boot if the instructions had been written on the heel.

He was not a smart man. Good natured and kind, yes, but definitely not a mental giant.

There is little to say about Rube’s youth other than that he was born just outside of Bradford, Pennsylvania in 1876, and that he didn’t receive a formal education, though he was somewhat literate. Self-taught, The Rube learnt how to pitch through his favorite hobby: throwing rocks at birds.

By the age of 18 our eager hero was ready to enter the minor leagues. It was there that The Rube received his name. His teammates were known to affectionately call him ‘Rube’, a term that was often used to refer to hicks and rednecks. It stuck.

Initially, The Rube didn’t understand some of the rules of Baseball, even the simple ones; instead of throwing the ball to the baseman to tag the runner out, Rube would oftentimes throw the ball at the runner to ‘tag’ them out. Despite his shortcomings, Rube was a great ball player.

As he tore his way through the minor leagues, Rube managed to attract the attention of a few colleges. Now, colleges at this time wanted the great baseball players to play for them, and would frequently make offers for them to join their teams. They offered him free tuition and board, $1 a game, and free tobacco. And so, Rube, a man who had received no formal education whatsoever, went to college.

Typical college games at this time ran for about 7 innings. On average, Rube would have around 15 strikeouts per game, which is INSANE! His 15 strikeouts means that only 6 opposing players per game were doing something other than striking out. More than once, he called for all of his other teammates to leave the field, and he would pitch with no defense behind him, LIKE A BADASS. And after most of his 3-strikeout innings, The Rube would celebrate by cartwheeling or somersaulting off of the field into the dugout.

As a result of his growing reputation, Rube soon signed with Louisville in 1886 for $500. The Rube’s time with the team however, was short lived. Club manager Fred Clarke fined Rube for excessive drinking. The Rube, outraged, then quit the team after having been with them for only two days.

Rube then packed his bags and made his way to Detroit where he played there for 9 days before, again, his time with the team was cut short. He was, again, fined for $50 for playing in a sandlot game with some local kids on his day off. And again, Rube quit the team.

There are no records of The Rubes whereabouts after he quit the team. All we know is that several months after quitting he was spotted WRESTLING ALLIGATORS IN A TRAVELLING CIRCUS! Oh, how I wish we knew what he did during those months!


Anyways, Rube later reappeared in the 1899 season with the Grand Rapids team, quickly becoming a fan favorite, partly because he won them 27 games, and partly because he was hysterical. He was known to arrive just before game time in his street clothes, stroll through the grandstands (through all the fans), grab and drink some of their beers along the way whilst also snatching and eating several hotdogs, even going so far as to start fights with fans.  Also, he would usually change into his uniform as he walked to the pitchers mound. A startling feat considering he didn’t wear underwear.

Sadly however, Rube’s weakness was discovered. He was easily distracted.

Opposing fans would hold up puppies at which point he would then run towards them from the mound. Shiny objects also enchanted him, enough so that they could put him into trances.

Rube would sometimes leave to go fishing, in the middle of the game, but the most well known fact about Rube Waddell is that if a firetruck went by the stadium, he would chase it. Everytime. No matter what was happening.

*Authors Note: Fire stations at this time weren’t public. You had to pay them a fee to come and put out the fire. So if your house was on fire, and you hadn’t paid the fee, they’d show up and watch it burn down, all the while making sure it didn’t spread to the houses of those who had paid up.*

Soooooo, many people would pay off the fire department to drive by the stadium during the game knowing The Rube would take chase.

Despite that, The new Louisville owner and manager, Barney Dreyfuss, got word of Rube’s success and traded for him. Now Rube was playing in a big city in front of very big crowds on an exceptional team (one of the original eight teams in Major League Baseball, in fact).

He led the league in 1900 with a 2.37 ERA (Earned Run Average) better than contemporary Cy Young’s 3.00 ERA.

Many of his losses come from his high rate of errors, likely due to his pre-game ritual of drinking at local taverns where he would drink himself silly.

Rube was later suspended that year, because he liked to pack pistols, and had threatened to fill his manager “full of holes”. Rube then found himself playing for the Milwaukee A’s.

He began to excel.

In one of his most famous feats, after pitching a 17 inning game, Rube turned around and pitched the second game of a double header, completely shutting out the opposing team. DID YOU READ THAT CORRECTLY!!!


Waddell. Rube Waddell.

Modern players typically throw for 7 or so innings, 9 if they’re in a roll, but generally if someone throws 125 pitches they’ve thrown way to much. Rube threw TRIPLE that amount AND shut the other team out. He pretty much threw for 2 games, and then went on to demolish the next team in the 3rd.

Now you may be asking yourselves, “Why did he choose to play what were essentially three games back-to-back-to-back?” He did it for an all-expense-paid, 3 day fishing trip the manager offered him before the game. He earned it.

The Pittsburgh Pirates then forced him to return to their team, claiming that he was still under contract with them. After two days back at the Pirates, the manager (the same one who Rube had threatened to fill with holes) ordered him fired.

Rube then spent most of the 1901 season with the Chicago Orphans (a spectacularly horrible team name), but was suspended for erratic behavior, i.e., chasing fire trucks.

Rube then signed on with a Los Angeles team for the 1902 league, refusing to leave the west coast. Two Pinkerton guards, working for the Philadelphia Athletics kidnapped him and took him back to the East coast, to play for them. Connie Mack, the team manager, and the only person who was said to be able to control Rube, ordered The Rube under house arrest, banning him from wrestling alligators during the off-season, which he was still doing apparently. Instead of part-timing for the circus, Rube began to play Rugby for a Pennsylvania team, getting all of his excess energy out and keeping him in shape.

He then went on to lead the league in pitching for the next 5 years.

Rube began the year of 1903 sleeping in a firehouse in New Jersey, he ended up tending bar in a saloon in Wheeling, West Virginia. During that year he won 22 games for the Philadelphia Athletics, married and then separated from May Wynne Skinner, saved a woman from drowning, accidentally shot a friend in the hand, and… AND WAS BITTEN BY A LION. A year. That was one year in the life of Rube Waddell.

Philadelphia loved him. He became a local hero.

Rube and Cy Young went head-to-head in a 20 inning match where neither pitcher gave up a run. Rube took home the game ball and traded it at a local Philadelphia tavern for free booze.

He saved the life of teammate, Danny Hoffman, after he was hit in the head by a baseball.

Rube decided that the best way to prevent a fire at a busy department store was by picking up a highly flammable oil stove (basically a bomb) and carrying it away from the building.

While on a duck hunting trip he saved two men from drowning. It is supposed that throughout his life, Rube may have saved around 13 lives.

Rube was a goddamn Hero.

The Rube became incredibly popular. So popular in fact that he soon took a turn at acting, starring in a vaudeville play, that received much critical acclaim. He improvised all of his lines, because he couldn’t remember them all, and was widely praised for his ability to throw the ‘villain’ twice as far as the other lead actor.

In 1904 Rube set the all-time strikeout record of 349, which stood for 61 years. That same year, he was arrested on bigamy charges, because he forgot to divorce his last wife (not May).

Sadly, we now come to the part of the story where I tell you of the downfall of The Rube.

Rube injured his hand after getting in a fight for making fun of a teammate’s straw hat. Rumors were also spread that he had lost a few games because he was being paid off by gamblers. The fans turned against him (classic Philadelphia), and he was traded in 1908 to the St. Louis Browns. Rube then went on to set a single-game strikeout record of 16 against the team that had just traded him.

Rube began to drink more and more. In a game against New York he drunkenly passed out on the mound after giving up a homerun.

In 1912, a nearby dam in San Antonio broke. Rube, now playing for the local team, volunteered to stack sandbags to block the water. Standing chest deep in freezing cold water for 13 hours, Rube helped to control the rushing water. He contracted pneumonia, and never fully recovered. The rest of his career is riddled with injuries, and alcoholic stupors.

Rube grew ill, and was soon sent to the San Antonio tuberculosis sanitarium, where he died on April 1st, 1914. He was 38 years old. He was at first buried in an unmarked grave in San Antonio, but his former teammates banded together to purchase him a headstone. The epitaph on it reads:

“Rube Waddell had only one priority, to have a good time.”

They should have gone with “Party Animal”.

Rube Waddell, to this day, still holds the American League single-season strikeout record for a left-handed pitcher. He lead the league in strikeouts 7 times, won the pennant in 1905 with a record of 27-10, and had 50 shutouts in his career.

He died not knowing how many women he had married in his life.



September 27th, 1986.

Moviegoers were enjoying Crocodile Dundee’s adventures in New York City.

Ronald Reagan, well into his second term, was riding high off the end of the Cold War.

And the city of Cleveland, Ohio had decided they were going to set a new world record.

A world record that resulted in an environmental disaster the likes of which no one had ever seen before.

That catastrophe was… BALLOONFEST, ’86.

Now first, before I can really get into this story, there are some things you need to know. Cleveland was recovering from hard times. The city was desperately trying to rebrand itself, and they had good reason for wanting to do so considering it was renowned for being a dump of a place where their polluted river continually caught fire ( ) and professional baseball players battled with drunken rioters akin to a roman legion under siege ( ).

Leaving their grimy past behind them, Cleveland set out to become the place neighboring cities would look up to and envy. So, in answer to their prayers, someone decided that breaking the world record for the most balloons released at one time would be the perfect way of saying “Hey! Clevelands is where it’s at!!!”

The previous world record for the most balloons released at one time had been set the year prior, on the 30th anniversary of Disneyland by the city of Anaheim, California. Thus, Balloonfest was conceived; the brainchild of George Fraser, an employee of the United Way of Cleveland who was the driving force behind the push to rebrand and polish Cleveland’s tarnished image.

A grand total of 6 months was spent preparing for the event, coordinated by Balloon ARt, a Los Angeles based company (yeah those exist apparently). An enormous rectangular structure was erected with the sole purpose of containing the balloons until their release. It measured 250 ft by 150 ft, rose 3 stories high, was covered with a mesh net created by the same people who made cargo nets for the space shuttle, and was designed to withstand winds in excess of 90 mph.

balloons-03       balloons-04Countless hours were also spent by around 2,500 volunteers and students pumping helium into the balloons and storing them in the structure, until it was nearly brimming with them.

So shit was real. The amount of effort that went into this event shows that Cleveland wasn’t half-assing this. They were going all out.

*Author’s Note: Helium is a nonrenewable resource. All that helium released into the atmosphere is gone forever. We are currently running low on Helium reserves. A scary thought considering Helium is largely used in medical applications, such as treating numerous respiratory diseases that effect breathing, and is also a key component in Hospital MRIs.

But hey, I guess it was a pretty spectacular 5 minutes of balloons flying everywhere.*

It was September 27th, the day of the event, and things weren’t exactly going to plan. The plan had been to release 2 MILLION balloons, but volunteers were only able to get to 1.4 MILLION balloons before being forced to stop due to poor weather conditions. A harsh storm was rolling in, so the event coordinators decided to hurry and release the balloons early in order to beat the storm. It was spectacular.

balloons-05       balloons-02

Wind swept through the area carrying the balloons north, while the rough rain of the storm caused them to drop to the earth…WITH FORCE.

A legion of colorful balloons descended upon the Burke Lakefront Airport, effectively shutting down the runway.

A good portion of Lake Erie was blanketed with deflated balloons, which plastered several mile long stretches of the lake’s northern shores.

And balloons flittered in and out of traffic causing a multitude of automobile accidents.

Even in the days following Balloonfest, the balloons were still generating mayhem. Some balloons found their way to Medina County, Ohio, and spooked the Arabian horses of one, Louise Nowakowsk’s, causing permanent injuries. As a result, Louise sued the United Way of Cleveland for $100,000s in damages. The balloons, being plastic and not exactly biodegradable, also wound up endangering several forms of local wildlife (birds especially) located in the (now littered) national park nearby.

A year after the balloons were released, a 3.2 MILLION dollar lawsuit was filed by Gale Broderick. Her husband had been one of two boaters to go missing on the lake on September 26th, the day before Balloonfest. They were soon reported missing, and a search and rescue party was dispatched the next day, but there was a problem. The helicopter rescue crew couldn’t navigate its way through the bombardment of balloons being blown about by the storm. The search was suspended two days later, because the balloons strewn throughout the lake made it impossible to identify whether anyone was in the water.


The bodies of the boaters were found washed ashore two weeks later.

Many now found themselves questioning whether or not Balloonfest had actually been a good idea. Some disgruntled Clevelanders couldn’t help but wonder whether or not the $500,000 that had been spent on the event could have been out to much better use, such as, for the sake of example, maybe helping the less fortunate and needy, and not on balloons.

In 1994, a profile appeared in the local paper on George Frasier, the man who had conceived of Balloonfest. In his 3 years as Director of Marketing and Communications for the United Way of Cleveland, Frasier’s career was marred by only one incident, which he later referred to as “…[his] greatest success, and [his] greatest failure; Balloonfest ’86.”