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5 Ways Trying To Be A ‘Cool’ Parent Always Ends In Disaster

There’s a specific moment in life when you realize that your parents are lame, and then, ten seconds later, declare that you will never fall into that trap. No, when you grow up, you shall be the cool parent, succeeding where billions before you had failed! They just didn’t try hard enough! Only now, with a teenager of my own, do I realize that she needs me to be an embarrassing, cringeworthy, uncool mess of an adult. This is because …


They Love Having You As Their “Wingman” … Until They Abruptly Start Hating It

The other day, my badass daughter and I were standing talking on the sidewalk when she saw a group of friends approaching, so she body-slammed me into the nearest bushes. The shame of being seen in public with her mother of all people would have ruined her, like if Taylor Swift’s mom interrupted a concert to bring her the butt ointment she’d left at the hotel. Just a year ago, she loved it whenever I coordinated with another parent (i.e. a friend of MINE) to get together, do something badass, and bring our kids. Then, one day, a switch was flipped.

The last time I threw a party and one of her best friends showed up with her parents, they both rolled their eyes at me in frustrated embarrassment and told me off for setting up a “play date.” Dudes, you live an hour’s drive apart. How else are you going to get together if your parents don’t set it up? Somebody’s got to drive!

So now, in order to provide at least the illusion that my daughter is constructing her own social life, I have to play a complex game. “By the way, Josie’s parents and siblings are coming over on Saturday. You might want to text and ask Josie if she wants to come too?” Or “Hey, I’m going to the movies with Bob later tonight. I don’t know if he’s bringing his son. In fact, I don’t even know he has a son, let alone one who’s been blowing up your phone.”

Then, when I see her friends, my role is to nod and grunt. I must not get into a conversation, or even make eye contact. It’s even better to just collapse into myself like a deflated tent and lie there flat on the ground, blending into my surroundings. This goes against every “cool mom” instinct I have inside me. I want to show that I’m one of them! We like the same bands! I’m not just the lame baseline by which my child can measure her own coolness, dammit!


You Must Pretend That You And Your Kid Don’t Like Any Of The Same Things

My daughter will totally deny this if she or any of her friends read this article, but the truth is that it’s scary how much we’re into the same stuff. We download the same music. We read the same comic books and freak out over the same artists at conventions. Her favorite article of clothing right now is a concert T-shirt from a concert I went to, which she stole right out my drawer. Basically, she treats my closet like a free mall, and whenever I walk in wearing something new, she gives me a cold, calculating side eye, like I’m a mannequin she’s planning on dashing out the front door with before leaving me facedown and naked in a back alley.

But am I allowed to acknowledge that she likes my taste? Hell no! Not even to her. And especially not in the presence of another human being. If even rumor of such a thing were to get around, she would be ostracized from teen society forever. News of her shameful secret would spread around the globe.

So I develop sudden amnesia when I catch someone complimenting her on her new coat, boots, and gloves before I head out to drag the dogs through the snow in sneakers and a sweatshirt. If she tells a story about some cool trip she went on, I have to pretend I’m hearing this for the first time and am not actually the person who planned, booked, drove, and paid for the damn thing. I can guarantee that when she shows off what she got for Christmas, she’ll never acknowledge that I bought it for her.

She is — as we all once were — in that terrible in-between phase of wanting desperately to earn street cred for her style and travel, while being almost totally powerless to acquire those things for herself. I must allow her to steal credit for the awesome lifestyle choices I imposed upon her. In fact …


At Some Point, You Just Stop Trying To Buy Surprise Gifts

My grandmother was one of those sweet and tiny ladies who didn’t believe in spending money on anything that could be made, borrowed, or scrounged from one of those suspicious-smelling jars she kept in the basement pantry. So the day she bought me the one and only doll I ever had in my childhood will forever shine in my memory with “What the hell did I just witness?” infamy.

It was the ’80s, and we were standing in a large department store in the days before Christmas when a shaky, war-weary teenager rolled out a pallet of Cabbage Patch dolls. Heads rose above the aisles as rabid shoppers sniffed the air. Then, as if moving as one, they descended on him with a wild and feral howl, tearing him and each other to shreds to get their hands on a plastic, dimpled, curly-haired monstrosity.

My grandmother turned to me, her eyes shining with a courage and determination the likes of which I’d never seen before and haven’t seen since, and asked, “Do you want one?” I nodded. She dove into the mob in a blur of purple wool, and while I’ve never told anyone what I witnessed that day, she emerged victorious.

So when my kids were little, I, being a Cool Parent, would leave no fad unturned to make sure they had the hottest toys. Was it advertised six times a day with creepy child actors in the lead-up to Christmas? Then it was already wrapped and sitting under the tree. Is the news running stories about the impossibility of finding this year’s must-have toy? Then I’m scoffing at the amateur parents who didn’t foresee the problem and set up multiple online alerts months ago. Then I bought her a Fidget Spinner, she snorted at my lameness, and I watched all my Cool Mom cred crawl limp and bleeding for the door.

It turns out there’s a tipping point with fads, when your child abruptly becomes a budding adult full of opinions about which “hot” gifts are actually lame garbage for children and sheep. And it’s during that tipping point that you have to consider giving up the “surprise” aspect of gifts and just outright ask them what they want. Oh, you can still get creative. I look for original, funky Etsy things related to her favorite fandoms, for instance. Then weeks later, she can show them off to her friends as examples of her amazing ability to find cool things for herself.


They Need To Figure Things Out For Themselves … Or At Least Appear To

“I need to murder someone from English class,” she says, standing in the middle of my basement lair, surrounded by the bones of my enemies while various lethal concoctions bubble away in the background. “Should I text Uncle John or Aunt Sally for help with that?” (Answer: John for untraceable poison, Sally for brutal bludgeoning.)

It’s tricky. She, being a child, wants to learn stuff I know, but she never wants to learn it from me. I can’t even blame her. I’ve been teaching her stuff every day of her life. I wouldn’t want to have one teacher randomly teaching me everything from how to use the toilet to how to do math to which three Doctors to invite to a Who-orgy. Would you?

This again leads to that delicate, subtle dance with another human being who needs me but cannot admit this to herself or anyone else. That means crucial life lessons (as well as trivial ones) must be relayed through roundabout means. Sometimes that means filling her life with interesting and amazing people she can learn from. Other times it means teaching without teaching. Have you ever dealt with a co-worker who didn’t like taking instruction from anybody because they prefer to pretend they already know everything? There’s a trick managers use whereby they kind of pretend that they themselves just discovered the helpful tip. Well, it works with teenagers too!

It seems like a pointless and unnecessary step, but it allows them to take the advice without admitting that’s what’s going on. Instead of “You’re doing this wrong, do it my way,” it’s “Hey, I recently found a way to do the thing you’re doing that may be less likely to burn down the house!” Again, this works against everything we naturally want as human beings — that is, credit for the great job we’re doing.

How many of you got called “ungrateful” as teenagers? Your impulse will be to say the same when you have your own, but it’s not about being ungrateful; it’s about your kid having a healthy, human urge to take control of their own life. This is the very fuel that will eventually launch them right out of your house before age 30.


I Have To Accept That My “Special” Traditions Are Boring As Hell

A couple of years ago, millions of young parents had the mortifying experience of taking their kids to see a brand-new Star Wars movie, only to see said kid trying to surreptitiously watch YouTube prank videos on their phone the whole time. “Don’t you get it? This isn’t just a cool sci-fi movie, this is the film series that raised me! It’s special!

Then, suddenly, those new parents had a flashback to all of the lame, boring stuff their parents dragged them to or made them watch. And no amount of reminding kids of what it’s supposed to mean to them is going to change the fact that even though it’s a sacred family tradition that the family cuts down a Christmas tree every year, they’re still tired, cold, and doing the same old thing they did last year. “I know for a fact that there are easier ways to do this!”

This one really continues across all age ranges, in different forms. Little kids think everything is special. A surprisingly shaped twig? Special. A piece of gum under a park bench? Special. A toad that just peed in your hand when you picked it up? That’s a new level of special. Telling that kid that a particular toy is special because it once belonged to Grandma is just a string of nonsense words.

Then, thanks to the mysterious trickster god known as Puberty, suddenly a whole new range of things are “special,” and your teenager develops a deep sense of dread and loathing toward anything old or outdated. Tell them a boring activity is REQUIRED because it’s SPECIAL to the OLD PEOPLE, and you’ve only given them a nice horror story they can share with their friends on Monday.

This is when you realize you’ll pass along lots of things to your children, including many inheritable diseases, but the warm feeling you get inside when doing something “special” is probably not one of them. You can totally think it’s special to go Christmas caroling and then sip non-alcoholic eggnog until you pass out in front of It’s A Wonderful Life. No one can take that away from you. But it’s the right of every teenager to walk past and roll their eyes so hard that they can see the bottom of their own brain, knowing that when they grow up, they’ll be the coolest parents ever.

Mags writes books about dead people and kissing. You can bother her on Twitter. Bring cookies.

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‘Vanderpump Rules’ Recap: Roll The Tape

Another Golden Globes has come and passed, bringing us to another week of —or as I like to call it now, . If I have to endure an entire season of cheaters cheating and us, the viewers, meant to be surprised about it, I will probably start copying and pasting one identical recap into each week’s article and just changing the names. I’ve taken the liberty of rewriting 3LW’s classic hit, “Playas Gon’ Play” and adapting it for the current situation.

Cheaters, they gon’ cheat

And eaters, they gonna eat

And that’s all she wrote. To answer your question, no, I will not be quitting my day job.

I didn’t watch the last five minutes of last week’s episode (sue me), and just to give you a quick recap: Lisa is mad because she went out to the woods to officiate Katie and Tom’s wedding. I, too, would be mad if I got eaten alive by bugs for a sham marriage. Tom Sandoval repeats “I’m not defending him” while simultaneously defending Tom. This cheating rumor supposedly causes Lisa to reconsider Tom Tom, supposedly because it speaks to his trustworthiness, but really because Lisa is determined to drag this storyline out as long as possible. And still, through all this, nobody told Schwartz that claiming not to remember an event is not a get-out-of-jail-free card. Well I guess technically in some cases you can plead temporary insanity if you like, commit a murder while you’re blacked out? IDK, I think I saw that on an episode of once. I am not a lawyer.

We open with Sandoval telling Jax that Schwartz did him a favor by taking the heat off him, which furthers my theory/the objective truth that these guys cheat on their S.O.s with reckless abandon and all cover for each other.

Jax bought a motorized cooler, and honestly I want one. There’s a powwow with everyone and I think Carter makes his first appearance. Katie tells Tom that this is the last time that he’s going to get blackout drunk and cheat on her anymore because he’s not going to get blackout drunk anymore. Schwartz says, “Yeah, given how badly I fucked up that’s a very reasonable boundary; I recognize I have a drinking problem and will fix it.” PSYCH! Schwartz says, “You’re not going to tell me what to do!” And there you have it, ladies and gentlemen. Schwartz prioritizes getting blackout drunk over his wife. And y’all called us mean and bitter when we dared question the longevity of this marriage.

At SUR, Jax and Brittany are a little more cordial than I’d like, given that he just cheated on her like, 30 seconds ago. They agree to throw a joint housewarming party so that Jax’s friends can’t talk shit about him in his presence. I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again, Brittany should be dating a football player or some other kind of rich athlete, not this 40-year-old sociopath who’s more silicone than actual human flesh at this point.

Katie pulls Lala aside to rightfully ask her why she never said anything about Tom cheating on Katie, and Lala admits it’s because Katie was talking shit about her “relationship”. Katie’s excuse boils down to, “That’s true but I didn’t think Scheana would tell you.”

Apparently throughout the night, wasted Schwartz kept calling Lala’s friend “Bubba”. Does he just call every girl that? Or was he so drunk he can’t tell his wife apart from some random bitch? Stay tuned for more developments from Schwartz’s low-key alcoholism.

I just have to point out that we know these cast members hardly actually work at SUR, and yet somehow they’re finding time to pull Lisa aside every 30 seconds to have therapy about their personal problems. Katie starts to open up to Lisa about the rumors, and Lisa immediately makes it about her.

Lisa: But how does this affect ME and my figurative marriage? Think about how this jeopardizes my business partnership!

Right, Lisa. You’re really the one who’s most affected by this right now.

The Toms and Jax are attending a paint and sip class during broad daylight, WITH ABSINTHE. That’s exactly what you should be doing when you JUST cheated on your wife because you got blacked out.

Schwartz: Katie said no shots forever, she didn’t say no shots of absinthe.

Schwartz: This is just temporary probation, this isn’t a life sentence.

If my husband EVER referred to our marriage as “temporary probation” ON FUCKING CAMERA, he’d be my ex-husband before you could say “post-nuptials”.

It’s still so weird watching Kristen be sympathetic to Brittany when she effectively broke up Jax and Stassi’s relationship. I’m just waiting to see what she has planned. Also, Katie is SERIOUSLY under-reacting to Schwartz cheating on her. In true Katie fashion, she is mad at Scheana for telling Lala she talked shit about her relationship, which in turn “triggered” Lala to spread the cheating rumors. And not, you know, her good-for-nothing husband for cheating on her for the umpteenth time.

Apparently the night of some Vanderpump Dogs party, Rob Valletta aka Scheana’s boyfriend made out with someone. What is in the water in LA? I thought dating in New York was rough. Jesus. So you’re telling me once I DO find a guy, I gotta worry about him making out with every bitch he lays eyes on? *Switches Hinge preferences to women*

It’s about time for Scheana’s mandated screen time with Rob. In 30 seconds, she talks about how big Rob’s house is, how big his kitchen is, and how he’s “a real man”. I never thought I’d ever sympathize with a drug addict, but damn, I hope Shay isn’t seeing this. Also, how does Rob afford this? I’ve literally never heard of him before his connection to Scheana.

Scheana: With Rob, I’m having a gorgeous dinner in Beverly Hills. With Shay I ate microwave dinners.

She really took that whole “for better or for worse, richer or poorer” thing seriously, huh?

Sandoval: I’m looking at Rob and I’m like, “he’s tall, he’s successful, he’s catered this awesome dinner, he smells good, I wonder if he’d suck my dick?”

I feel like if Schwartz and Sandoval just came out already it would save all of the women on this show so much grief.

Tom asks Ariana multiple times AT THE DINNER TABLE, IN FRONT OF OTHER PEOPLE if they can have sex tonight, so yeah, I can see why Ariana doesn’t want to have sex with him.

Scheana is still married on paper to Shay while she’s dating Rob. *whispers* I called it. And yet everyone ostracized Lala for doing literally the exact same thing?

Schwartz comes in with a painting of Sandoval as an anime character and says “this is my way of apologizing for all the shit I put you through for the past few days.”

Katie’s trying to set some serious and much-needed boundaries, and Schwartz just whispers “I love Jager” and “I need my boys’ nights.” Wowwowowow. Ok. Y’all need to give me a minute before I have a rage blackout. So let me get this straight, Schwartz: You black out and you cheat on your wife and your solution is to… keep blacking out? Sometimes I do wonder if this storyline was manufactured purely to make Katie look better after last season.

Ariana and Lala are shopping, and honestly all I care about is who’s paying for this and where I find this hoe-ass store. I need some lace-up jeans in my life.

Lala: I just think it’s fucked up that so many men in relationship fuck every Harry, Dick and Tom and Tom’s hairy dick.

You mean like your boyfriend???

Ariana tells Lala that she doesn’t want anyone touching her vagina. I was going to make a joke about her needing to go to the gyno, but then she revealed that she was seriously abused and it gives her a lot of anxiety, and honestly, there’s not a joke in that. But like, does Tom know about it? Cause like… he should. And if he does, he’s even worse for basically threatening to cheat on Ariana over a few months of inaction. the reason I have trust issues.

Lala: My mom taught me to thank every part of my body, even though my pores are huge and I have really bad breath in the morning.


Lala also said on camera that her “kitty cat” “takes that D like a champ.” I am going to need to take a lap before I unpack everything wrong in that one statement. *Dials 911*

Lisa takes Schwartz upstairs at the dog place to talk about the cheating and she says “If you didn’t remember, you wouldn’t be saying ‘mea culpa!’” Lisa, I think “mea culpa” is a little too advanced for this idiot. He also can’t say that he takes his relationship with his wife seriously with a straight face. That is sad. I hope Katie saw this.

SERIOUSLY, Schwartz’s apology for CHEATING ON KATIE is “I’m sorry I hurt you.” What about “I’m sorry I cheated on you”? What about “I’m sorry I betrayed our eternal vows”? What about “I’ll take every step to ensure I never do it again”? Am I the only one who’s taking this seriously?

Kristen, Brittany and Scheana are preparing for Brittany’s party to tell Scheana that Rob kissed a hostess at Toca Madera. Scheana starts laughing immediately and is like, “I know this is bullshit.” I’m kind of with Scheana. I mean, what’s his timeline? He goes from the party to Toca Madera, walks in and kisses someone who then calls him out on his relationship, and then he shows up at the after party? Is this dude Usain Bolt? How is he getting around the city and macking on girls before anyone even notices he’s gone?

Kristen says Scheana is being fake because she’s choosing not to believe Katie’s word. I can see now why Scheana doesn’t bother fucking with these people. However, I cannot see why Scheana’s extensions are longer than my will to live.

Jax: I think the only way Scheana would notice if Rob cheated on her would be if he was in the background of one of her selfies.

Say what you want about Jax, but his observations about other people’s relationships are always spot on.

It’s been two minutes and Scheana is already talking about how happy she is with Rob and how she can’t wait to buy a house with Rob one day. Bitch calm down, you’ve been dating for like, 3 hours.

This party has officially descended into debauchery. Lala’s hair is braided. James is freestyling. I wish I had been invited.

Jax is having a heart-to-heart and Brittany walks in, slurring about how she wants Jax to talk to her. She can barely form a sentence but she does manage to tell her that she loves him, and he sarcastically applauds and tells her she won an Oscar. This guy suuuuccccckkkksssss.

Apparently there’s a recording of Jax telling Faith he’s never going to marry Brittany? What the fuck? Is Faith a police detective? What kind of one-woman sting operation is she running? Lala and Brittany decide that NOW is the perfect time to tell Brittany about the audio recording. BUT Y THO? You’re just gonna have to tell her again when she’s not blackout.

So Bravo is really not gonna play the audio for us? Wow, how are they gonna do us like this? Brittany comes in, drunkenly slurring about how much of a piece of shit Jax is, telling him he can rot in hell, and he leaves. And that’s the end of the episode. Personally, I think this recap was one of my best yet, but feel free to disagree with me in the comments.

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6 Insane Law Enforcement Stories (That Are 100 Percent True)

Law enforcement is always mixed up with politics. It’s hard to so much as mention the police without someone bringing up racism or corruption. We’re not here to tackle those issues today. We’re just plain not smart enough. Instead, we’re here to tackle much simpler subject matter: bumbling doofus cops, and the dingus mistakes they make. Please enjoy.


When A Yorkshire Police Lineup Couldn’t Find Any Black People, They Improvised

If you had to sum up 1990s England with one phrase, “racial diversity” would probably not be it. That was part of the problem facing South Yorkshire police in 1997, when they wanted to put suspected blackmailer Martin Kamara in a lineup. Kamara was a 6’3″, 16-stone (220 pounds), balding, middle-aged black man in a country where, at the time, white people made up roughly 94 percent of the population. This made filling out the rest of the lineup problematic.

Their solution was as elegant as it was simple: One thing that South Yorkshire didn’t lack was 6’3″, 16-stone, balding, middle-aged white people. You see where this is going — yes, they did blackface. What you may not have seen coming: They did it with eight different men!

And they didn’t even do it very well. The makeup “artists” didn’t remember to paint the white men’s hands, which made an already very desperate deception into a failure contest between stupidity and racism.

Unsurprisingly, Kamara’s solicitor took one look at the “lookalikes” and “conceded that it was not a fair likeness.” Kamara was identified as the criminal, but the case was thrown out of court almost immediately, after the judge described the identification procedures as “a farce.” No, we liked “failure contest between stupidity and racism” better. It’s not as punchy, but it’s far more accurate.


Ireland’s Most Wanted Motorist Was A Man Named “Driver’s License”

Prawo Jazdy. It’s a name muttered in only the darkest corners, discussed in the most hushed whispers, a predatory shadow looming over Ireland’s motoring history. 2007 was the year they finally ended his war on traffic, after a nationwide operation to find the villain with over 50 violations to his name. Police had caught him many times, but he kept avoiding arrest by giving different addresses and birthdays. Yes, Prawo Jazdy was a chameleon. A true criminal mastermind.

Ministerstwo Transportu, Budownictwa i Gospodarki Morskiej “How he taunts us. You can’t get away with this forever, Prawo Jazdy.”

If you take a moment to study that document, or if you speak a little Polish, you might have figured out why this is all very dumb: Prawo Jazdy is neither a criminal mastermind nor a document forger. He’s not even a person. “Prawo Jazdy” is Polish for “driver’s license.”

On over 50 different occasions, Irish police stopped a Polish driver, asked to see their license, saw the words “Prawo Jazdy” at the top, and assumed that was the name. You’ve got to wonder why the Polish were uniquely affected by this idiocy, though. Why wasn’t every Spaniard ticketed as “Permiso De Conduccion”? Or every Alabaman as “SEX OFFENDER”?


An Inept Customs Officer Accidentally Became An International Drug Smuggler

What’s the best thing about going on vacation? The weather? The culture? The adventure? The 5 ounces of free weed you’re given by airport security? Wait, wha!? *Upbeat music interrupted by record scratch*

This blunder actually occurred in 2008, when one unwitting air traveler arrived in his Tokyo hotel room, opened his bag, and discovered a container of weed worth a million yen (roughly $9,000) on the Japanese market. While this definitely sounds like the plot of a Seth Rogen film called Tokyo Tokin’ or Land Of The Rising Bud, or maybe a shot-for-shot remake of Ninja 3: The Domination, we assure you it’s not (yet).

Japan Customs“Hello, police?”

The drugs were thanks to a particularly incompetent customs agent at Narita International Airport. The agent was trying to train his drug-sniffing dog, and decided the best way to do so was to turn one unwitting traveler into a mule. He found a random bag, slipped a container of illegal drugs inside, and then waited for success. His Plan A was for the dog to find the hidden cache. His Plan B was nothing.

Planting illegal drugs on customers is, unsurprisingly, against Narita Airport regulations. However, the customs officer made the compelling argument that “the dogs have always been able to find it before.” It’s flawless logic, right? You can check his math by taking the number of drug stashes the dogs found and subtracting that number from the drug stashes the dogs didn’t fi- oh, wait. We see now. Oh man, this guy is a fucking idiot.

Japan CustomsHis partner was demoted to “OK boy.”

Of course the suitcase passed through customs with ease, because the laws of comedy are universal and unyielding. To be fair to the customs agent, he immediately admitted his mistake and began a search for the lost drugs. To be truly fair to the customs agent, he apparently hadn’t paid much attention when he planted the drugs, and forgot what the bag in question looked like. And it’s only a little suspicious that the guy in charge of all the illegal drugs can’t remember anything and does very stupid things.

Luckily, the unwitting drug smuggler returned the contraband to airport security, and Narita Airport avoided a major incident, though not some light mockery.


Police Triumphantly Foil … A Marijuana Research Project

Despite what you’ve heard about the Netherlands, it isn’t the promised land of bongs and pot brownies. Their drug laws are surprisingly complex, and drug production is forbidden, which is why there’s enough of a black market that narcotics-related gang violence is still an issue. So when Dutch police were tipped off about a major cannabis farm, they set out to investigate. What they discovered was an industrial-scale operation: over 47,000 cannabis plants with a street value of around $6.3 million.

The police began dismantling the farm and clearing the plants, probably while laughing to themselves about how stupid criminals could be. Who would just grow illegal drugs in the open like this? “What idiots” they must have thought to themselves as they uprooted millions of dollars’ worth of plants. “Did they really think they would get away with it?” they must have asked as a University of Wageningen representative approached them.

Wageningen University and Research “Excuse me, what are you doing? Are you guys high?”

“Wait, what?” they must have blurted as they were shown the university’s official license to cultivate hemp in order to test its suitability as a replacement for cotton in the textile industry.

The study had been underway for several years, and was in the final stages before the keefstone cops showed up and ruined everything. In the end, over half the study’s crop was either destroyed or rendered unsuitable for use, and so the entire project was delayed. The real kicker: The plants were unfit for drug production, as they were specifically chosen for their low content of THC. It would take you five weeks and eight human throats to get high smoking such awful weed. In the end, the police disrupted a multiyear, multi-million-dollar project to destroy a bunch of scratchy blanket materials.


Police Accidentally Sent A Loaded Assault Rifle To A Drug Awareness Presentation

There are few things more uneventful than a drug awareness assembly. They’re the one thing that can make a third-grader want to go back to class and learn more cursive. But sometimes they’re more excitement than anybody bargained for. Like the time a police department in Southern California accidentally sent an officer with a fully loaded AR-15 assault rifle. And that maniac left the assault rifle mounted on his bike while he went inside to give the presentation. What could go wrong?

KNBC… And what third-grader would want to touch something like this? (Hint: All of them.)

Now, eight-year-old children aren’t exactly famed for their restraint. Neither are they famed for their trigger discipline. One of the students, hoping for grade-school legend status, grabbed the rifle and pulled the trigger. No one was hit, but three students were injured by shrapnel, and one of them had to get chunks of sidewalk removed from his goddamn eye. On the upside, little Billy Henderson’s name would go down in elementary school history.


The NIS Infiltrated The Gay Community By Telling Them They Knew Dorothy

Remember the ’80s? Rubix Cubes and everyone wondering where the beef was? What about those wild pants made out of parachutes and zippers? And hey, remember all that wacky institutionalized homophobia? Oh, the ’80s, you so crayzee!

Yes, homophobia was everywhere in the 1980s. The Navy was terrified of secret homosexuals in their ranks, so they tasked the NIS (Naval Investigative Service, or Needlessly Insecure about Sexuality) to head out to Chicago and seek out any homosexuals hidden in an institution that put fit young men in cute outfits together on boats. They had to put their best people on the case.

Unsurprisingly, in the city with the third-highest LGBT population in the U.S., the NIS did manage to find traces of the gay. They kept hearing reports of homosexuals who were “friends of Dorothy.” They had to find this mysterious contact, the one woman who seemed to be connected to everyone in the underground homosexual network … this “Dorothy.”

If you’ve seen Arrested Development, you might already know that “friend of Dorothy” was coy old-timey slang for “gay,” a reference to Judy Garland, who played Dorothy in The Wizard Of Oz. The NIS absolutely did not know this, and so started a citywide manhunt for the elusive Dorothy. They were certain she(?) was at the center of the elaborate homosexual military conspiracy … sort of like the Harriet Tubman of Navy gays.

elnavegante/iStock, Loews, Inc.We thought wed tracked her to Middle America, but apparently shes not in Kansas anymore.

The whole comic enterprise culminated in a series of NIS interrogations wherein agents pretended to already know “Dorothy” in order to get information — presumably to the endless tittering of the interrogated.

Hey, James has got a Twitter, you can follow him here.

Do you need some handcuffs? We won’t ask why.

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9 Secretly Necessary Life Lessons For Modern America

Growing up: it used to be as easy as drinking your milk, preparing to work 1 job for 40 years, and not misusing the height of telecommunications (a landline phone). Now that all of that has changed (side note: turns out milk isn’t all that good for you), what should we be teaching the new generation of kids about life on Earth? Also, hold on, we’ve all seen the Internet. Maybe the adult generation is the one that actually needs the advice.

On this week’s podcast, Alex Schmidt is joined by Kristi Harrison (Cracked) and Andrew Ti (“Yo Is This Racist”) to explore every lesson that ought to join the pantheon of Things We Tell Kids About Life. Find out why you might not be apologizing very well, why your retirement plan might be a mirage from the 80s, and most astonishingly, why Kim Kardashian and Guy Fieri are f***ing awesome.


Yo, Is This Racist? (Earwolf)

5 Lessons I Never Knew I’d Have To Teach My Children (Cracked)

4 Reasons Sexual Assault Victims Don’t Step Forward (Cracked)

Life Expectancy Is, Overall, Increasing (Slate)

STEM crisis or STEM surplus? Yes and yes (Bureau of Labor Statistics)

James Damore’s 15 Minutes Are Finally Up (New York Magazine)

50 Years Of Shrinking Union Membership, In One Map (NPR)

Dymaxion Man (The New Yorker)

Here’s the Funniest Defense of Guy Fieri You’ll Ever Hear (Vulture)

Blake Shelton’s Racist, Homophobic & Sexist Tweets Are Unreal (Refinery29)

You (Time Person of the Year) (Wikipedia)

Sexiest Woman Alive (Esquire)

Kim Kardashian’s mobile game has raked in $43 million so far (Mashable)

The 5 Most Obnoxious Ways People Screw Up Apologies (Cracked)

The Land of the Large Adult Son (The New Yorker)

The Key to Maurice Sendak’s Success With Children? His Contempt for Adults (GOOD Magazine)

Flying Dutch (Tom Holt)

There’s tons of great podcasting this week on Cracked:

Best Episode Ever goes down to the big yellow joint with their analysis of Arrested Development

Cracked Movie Club kicks off Quentin Tarantino month with Reservoir Dogs

And Daniel O’Brien and Cody Johnston take your questions on Cracked Mailbag, only available with the Cracked Private Reserve

If you’re looking to support The Cracked Podcast and spruce up your wardrobe with some nifty tees, check out the awesome Cracked Podcast merch we’ve got at

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6 Tiny Movie Moments That Took Insane Amounts Of Work

Movies are hard to make. Directors have to deal with a million different things, from a diva starlet’s demand that she only be lit by organic free-range lights, to trying to wrangle a thousand extras in full medieval gear who want, more than anything else in this world, to pee. But it’s all worth it when that big action sequence dampens the seats of theaters across the globe, right? Well, what about the smaller stuff? The times movies put insane work into little things that nobody ever noticed? Who will cry for them? Will you?


Everything In Who Framed Roger Rabbit Was Laborious And Amazing

There is more great art hidden in Who Framed Roger Rabbit than an Argentine Nazi safehouse. Almost every frame incorporates hours of labor, all to make the cartoons interact with the real world as believably as possible. Most of which goes completely unnoticed by the casual viewer. For example, take a look at the scene in which Roger is dancing, gets stuck with the skipping record player, and starts breaking dishes over his head:

Did you ever wonder how they managed to get a cartoon to break real dishes over its head? No? You’re not some weirdo, you say? Well, they did it by building a dish-smashing machine that fit the beat of the song, and painting Roger over it:

Walt Disney PicturesPrecisely as Asimov predicted.

Then there’s the cigar-smoking Baby Herman:

That’s a real cigar he’s “smoking.” There was yet another custom-made machine for this, fully articulated, which could perform six different gestures. It’s not clear exactly which gestures, but knowing Baby Herman, we have a pretty good idea.

Walt Disney PicturesWe don’t know why it was necessary for the robot to be able to poop itself, but maybe that’s why we’re not in the movie business.

How about when Roger’s hiding from gun-toting cartoon villains in the sink?

The guns were real, and needed puppeteers to operate every single one. Then, when Roger comes up for air and spits water, that’s real water. Of course it was pumped through a machine they built solely for that scene.

Walt Disney PicturesSometimes you get to be Yoda, sometimes you get to do this.

This is all because of one subtle thing you may have overlooked: Roger may be a cartoon, but in his world, there are rules. If he swallows real water from the sink Eddie has his hands in, then it has to be real water that he spits out. If a cartoon puts a gun in Eddie’s face and it really might kill him, it has to be a real gun. They called it “bumping the lamp,” after the scene in which Eddie saws through the handcuffs binding him to Roger, and this became the whole philosophy for the making of the movie.

Look at the layers of work that went into that. By having Roger bump into everything, he feels like a real presence in the room, but that means everything has to be set up to fall over or shake when he does so — boxes, lamps, people. It all has to be timed perfectly. Having Roger bump the lamp was a particularly weighty decision, because the animators had to adjust Roger’s shadows accordingly. And it was all done so well that none of us even batted an eyelid.

But the real genius is the scene wherein Eddie and Roger arrive at Maroon Studios.

Walt Disney Pictures

While shooting this scene, Bob Hoskins made a rare slip. He accidentally looked at where a normal-sized person would be standing in front of him, not where the head of a vertically-challenged cartoon bunny would be. Zemeckis didn’t notice at the time, so when the film was handed over to the animators, they didn’t know what to do. After some head-scratching, director of animation Richard Williams worked it out: They had Roger stand on his tiptoes, bringing his head to a level with Eddie’s gaze.

Walt Disney PicturesThis is the kind of stuff they don’t teach you in art school.

They knew that getting the live-action actors to look at the exact spot where the nonexistent character’s eyes would be was essential to suspending the viewers’ disbelief, even if they weren’t totally conscious of it. That’s why the cartoon scenes in Mary Poppins feel so fake. It doesn’t look like those humans are actually interacting with those cartoon characters. But Who Framed Roger Rabbit nailed it time and time again, scene after scene. That’s one potential downside of being an animation genius: By doing their job so well, they made it so none of us noticed what they did.


Shell Cottage In Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Was Ridiculously Overbuilt

At the end of Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows — Part 1 (Of 72), the gang escapes the wizard-Nazis by teleporting to a relative’s beach house, Shell Cottage. There, Dobby the house-elf promptly dies from the revelation that airborne knives can teleport too. It’s a moment so devastating that you were reasonably distracted from everything else going on in the scene, which was arguably also devastating for a few key people. Almost everything in the background of that scene had to be created from scratch, including Shell Cottage itself, the outside of which we only see in two brief glimpses in Part 1. See it? No, all the way back there.

Warner Bros PicturesYou may not have been able to see it through all your tears.

The cottage was mostly constructed at Leavesden Studios, carted to Wales, then dragged by tractor up the coast, along with a trail of confused Welsh motorists. Once there, the setmakers then individually glued 4,500 scallop shells to the roof.

Warner Bros Pictures“Wait, I see a nautilus shell there! Tear it down, start over.”

Like Batman’s pecs, that’s a lot of work for not much screen time. But hey, since they split the story into two parts, we get to see all the production designers’ hard work up close in the next film, right? Not really. We only see the cottage from the outside again very briefly (three seconds) in Part 2, when Harry goes to pay his respects at Dobby’s grave.

Warner Bros Pictures*tears continue to impair vision*

And you can’t even see the damned shells.

That shot took even more work. To stop the whole thing from being shattered by the strong Welsh winds, they had to weigh it down with nearly 11 tons of water. And that was only the beginning. Take a look at all that beautifully snarled grass. Every tuft of it was individually dressed into the sand to make it look like the Cornish coast. Because the most important thing about making a movie based on a children’s book in which kids carry magical guns and play soccer on broomsticks is staying true to Cornwall.


It Took Six Years Of Research To Make Pompeii

Pompeii is the story of gladiator/slave Milo (Kit Harrington) falling in love with aristocrat Cassia (Emily Browning) right before Mount Vesuvius destroys the titular city. It’s the worst-timed love story since Titanic. There are big explosions, a tsunami, and lots and lots of volcano-related death. You probably don’t remember that, because if you’re reading this, that means you’re human, and almost no humans watched Pompeii.

If you happen to be one of the outliers, there were still some quieter moments that you may not recall, like when Cassia and her friend Ariadne arrive in Pompeii and get out of the cart to walk through the crowded market streets.

TriStar PicturesIt was a lot like malls are today, only with a stronger fart smell.

That innocuous scene required as much work as anything else in the movie. Director Paul W. S. Anderson wanted complete authenticity, so he hired craftspeople to recreate all of Pompeii digitally — and for some scenes, physically. Right down to the exact type of bread that people ate back then.

TriStar PicturesBut only stared at briefly in the movie.

She’s thinking what we all are: “Why did they even bother?”

Even the cobbles were handmade to be as accurate as possible, based on information gleaned from years of onsite digging, all in order to create the most realistic setting for the stupidest story. We only see those laboriously handcrafted cobblestones in the background, and only for a second or two at a time.

TriStar PicturesThose raised white stones are also the proper width for a Roman chariot to pass through. Not that you care.

And the actors just walked all over them, the goddamned thespians. The whole process took six excruciating years. All for a movie two people saw.


Children Of Men Is Full Of Subtle Futuristic Quirks

Children Of Men is a 2006 film set in a dystopian world in which humans can no longer reproduce, which is either bleak as hell or ideal, depending on your faith in humanity today. We meet the main character, Theo, in London in 2027. He grabs a coffee, pushes his way past the crowd (including two policemen), then stops outside to booze up his drink, like we all do every single morning, even though we’re not supposed to mention it. He only narrowly misses being blown up by his ex-wife and her militant friends. Like we all do every single morning, even though we’re not supposed to mention it.

But while we’re following Theo in the foreground, we’re ignoring all the fun the filmmakers had with the background. There are tons of details to assure you that this is in fact the future, predicted as accurately as possible from the vantage point of the Bush administration. Let’s return to that opening shot.

Universal Pictures“I wonder what my ex is up to these days.”

See the pointy buildings in the distance? The one on the left is St. Paul’s Cathedral, the other is the Shard, modern London’s tallest building, and one of its most iconic. Here’s a real photo from roughly the same spot:

Haha, they mixed up the locations of the buildings! Idiots!

Except that the movie was filmed, shot, and released before construction even began on the Shard. All they knew was that it was going to be part of the London skyline eventually, so they did the best they could, using architect Renzo Piano’s early architectural drawings as a reference. If you see it at all, it’s only for a few seconds in the background of the opening scene, when the audience is still trying to open their M&M’s.

When Theo is pushing his way out of the crowded cafe, he passes two policemen. Can you spot the futuristic detail?

Universal PicturesDefinitely not those haircuts.

Give up? Look at the police helmet. The “Bobby on the Beat” currently wears this:

savoilic/iStockSexy and functional.

The “E II R” up there stands for “Elizabeth II Regina” — Queen Elizabeth II. Now go back and look at the helmets worn in the movie again. You can barely make it out, but it says “CR” on the badge, which means “Charles Rex,” or King Charles. By 2027, Queen Elizabeth has died, and Charles has ascended to the throne (probably the least realistic aspect of the whole movie).

Universal PicturesWe also now desperately want a male royal named “Tyrannosaurus” to ascend the throne.

They even made some trashy tabloid headlines for his reign:

Universal PicturesAlso, test tube babies have failed, even though we’ve already mastered that technology in reality.

It’s almost impossible to read, but it says “CHARLES SHOULD BE THRONE OUT.” That one shitty pun on a blurry newspaper in the background of a single throwaway scene lets you know, without question, that much like the cockroaches they are, The Daily Mail is still going strong even while the rest of society crumbles.


Blade Runner Financially Crippled Itself With Background Details

One of the many reasons Blade Runner is considered a classic is the level of detail you’ll never catch unless you watch the whole thing in slow motion (almost certainly while high, trying and failing to sync it to Pink Floyd). Those details overrun your brain the first time you see it — the neon umbrellas, the Gaudi-inspired Aztec architecture, the Millennium Falcon building …

Warner Bros Pictures

Warner Bros PicturesWorth it.

That copious background hides all kinds of amazing details, which required hours upon hours of hard work to create. Like when Roy Batty is walking down the street with fellow replicant Leon Kowalski on their way to kill Lo Pan.

Warner Bros Pictures

Check out those futuristic parking meters.

Warner Bros Pictures

Warner Bros PicturesMeanwhile, as the actual 2019 approaches, most parking meters still don’t take credit cards.

When constructing that set on a backlot street, the contemporary parking meters looked out of place. But instead of adding a Jetsons-style fin and calling it a day, the setbuilders made entirely new ones. Their meter has an electronic card register, since physical money is no longer a thing (remember, this was made in the quaint days of 1982, when credit cards were still for hipsters and communists alone). It also has a “post-mechanical case, which can be electrified” if someone tries to attack it, as well as lighting that directs traffic. If you zoom in, you see that it even has instructions/warnings for citizens parking there.

Warner Bros Pictures

Warner Bros Pictures

Warner Bros PicturesCool Hand Luke would have been a lot shorter.

Precisely none of which we see in the movie. Hell, the streets are so thick with rain and smoke that we can barely see the characters. Production designer Syd Mead had “only been originally hired for a few days at $1,500 a day,” producer Michael Deeley later explained. “Suddenly he was on the thing for weeks. It was one factor in going over budget.” Blade Runner‘s infamous budgetary problems were one reason the theatrical cut was edited to be more appealing to mainstream audiences, which inexplicably entailed cinema’s worst voiceover, as well as some bullshit “happy ending” that utterly disfigured the film.

But damn, look at those parking meters!


Everything You See In Signs Was Built (Or Grown!) For The Movie

M. Night Shyamalan’s flawless tale of hydrophobic aliens intentionally visiting the Solar System’s wettest planet is set almost entirely at Mel Gibson’s farmhouse and the surrounding cornfields. So the crew probably spent a few weeks scouting for the perfect farmhouse/cornfield combo, offered the folks living there some cash to film, then went and added some CGI for the crop circles, right? Naive fools. Nothing is ever that simple when Shyamalan is involved.

Everything we see in the movie was built entirely from scratch. The only thing on the set put there by God was the dirt, and the producers presumably had to explain to Shyamalan that they couldn’t make it themselves. This is what the set looked like months before shooting started:

Touchstone Pictures“And over here, we will grow my plot twist.”

Not only did they grow the corn themselves, but they also built the house, the barn, the backyard, and probably Abigail Breslin. (Seriously, this was her first movie. You prove she existed before 2002.) Supposedly, all of this was necessary because they couldn’t find an existing Midwest farmhouse that the set designers were allowed to paint red, white, and blue. That was symbolically important to the story, for reasons, surely.

Touchstone Pictures

Touchstone Pictures‘Murica reasons.

Then there are the crop circles. We all thought those were CGI, didn’t we? Hell, in the film, Gibson himself says, “It can’t be by hand, it’s too perfect.” But it was, because Shyamalan demanded it. Production designer Larry Fulton wanted to CG most of it, “but Night doesn’t like CGI, he wants everything practical.” That meant his team had to spend weeks making real crop circles by hand — and not just the one on the farm set. In the movie, the family watches a news report showing other crop circles popping up around the world.

Touchstone Pictures

Touchstone PicturesFor the last one, the crew just did a middle finger with the initials “MNS” next to it.

Sure, they could have used stock footage, but that wouldn’t be insane, would it? Instead, the production team created two more crop circles — which, by the way, was “as tough as chopping down trees.”

All for a few shots, spanning a few seconds.

In a movie.

Which turned out to be Signs.

Matt Cowan makes geeky T-shirts you didn’t notice (which took a lot of work) when he’s not writing for Cracked or watching Disney movies with his daughter.

If you’re looking for an unforgettable holiday gift that requires very little work, check out the Miracle-Gro Aerogarden.

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5 Things You Can’t Help But Wonder When Watching Movies

Movies fill us with wonder, inspire us, and allow us to put faces on our greatest fears and dreams alike. But between all that shit, I wonder which cast member has been ripping the most farts. And which cast member the other cast members suspect has been ripping the most farts.

I know I’m not alone. We know so much more about how movies are made than ever before. We know how they make the alien planets of Star Wars (they tell a computer to do it) and how they make Patrick Stewart look decades younger than he is (recast him with James McAvoy.) But there are still plenty of simpler questions that have yet to be answered. For instance …


Some Actors Must Have Nasty-Ass Breath During Kissing Scenes, Right?

If I haven’t brushed my teeth in a few hours and I come within a two feet of someone’s nose, I feel like I’ve physically assaulted their nostrils. Bad breath is just something everybody has to deal with. But when the story dictates that you and your costar kiss or have each other’s faces so close that it can only accurately be measured in atoms stacked end-to-end, whether your breath smells of a fresh wonderland or fetid feet seems pretty important. Whenever I see actors so close that it seems like they’re trying to punch each other with their eyelashes, I’m trying to figure out if they’re so good at their job that they can hold back the violent fits of dry heaves they’d rather be doing at that moment.

A dentist to the stars once revealed that he gets a lot of A-list talent in his chair looking for halitosis remedies, since so many actors are heavy drinkers and smokers. Johnny Depp fits that bill. According to Angelina Jolie, she had to constantly tell Depp to use mouthwash on the set of The Tourist, since a common side effect of chain smoking is a spontaneous inversion of mouth and anus. Jennifer Aniston has been said to have breath that repulses any actor who has to taste her mouth for work. And Hugh Grant supposedly has breath so bad that it’s one of the things he’s become known for, along with his charming English stammer and his love of prostitutes.

Here’s one from back in the Golden Age of Hollywood: Vivien Leigh was disgusted by the stench wafting from Clark Gable’s mouth whenever she had to kiss him in Gone With The Wind. At only 32, a gum infection led to Gable having most of his teeth replaced with dentures, which he must’ve cleaned with formaldehyde. So next time you’re watching Gone With The Wind, which will likely be never, know that whenever Leigh was less than a foot away from the handsome Gable, she would rather have been killed by Union soldiers.

And of course, there’s the sub-category of actors who give themselves bad breath on purpose to mess with their costars, like how Liam Hemsworth and Jennifer Lawrence would eat garlic or tuna before onscreen kisses during the filming of the Hunger Games movies, because movie sets are just so much fun, you guys! Actors eat awful stuff to mess with you, and you just have to sit there and keep pretending! So great! Excuse me for a minute, as I have to go vomit on the sidewalk.


Life Must Be A Nightmare For Actors Who Have To Wear Elaborate Makeup, Right?

It always seemed so cool as a kid, wearing all that complicated makeup and costuming. It must be a childhood dream come true for any actor who gets the chance to play a monster or an alien in a movie, in what might be the most expensive form of make-believe possible.

And then I grew up and realized that sitting around waiting for a shot to get set up while sweating your nipples off and unable to scratch your nose without ruining the seven hours of makeup stuck to your head sounds like something that should be outlawed by the Geneva Convention. What’s incredible is that a single Google search immediately fires up dozens and dozens of pages of celebrities describing their makeup horror stories in the same way that I would describe being trapped at the bottom of a well.

John Rhys Davies doesn’t have as fond a memory of working on the Lord Of The Rings movies as the rest of the Fellowship. While the others had to wear, at most, a pair of awkward floppy prosthetic feet or fake pointy ears, Davies was in a full facial prosthetic held on with glue he was allergic to. Those movies took around three years to shoot, and Davies was in pain every single day he was on set. Gimli might have been a grumpy character, but the man who played him hated living in Middle-earth more than any crotchety dwarf ever could.

In Legend, Tim Curry played the Lord of Darkness, ostensibly the devil, showcasing one of the most impressive monster makeup effects in movie history. But as you’d suspect after a quick look at him, the huge fiberglass horns on his head messed up his neck and back. One night, while performing his ritual of soaking in a bath for an hour to loosen the prosthetic glue, Curry lost his patience and started ripping off the prosthetics, taking chunks of his own skin with it.

Universal Pictures
A small price to pay for a highly fuckable devil.

Producers brought in a CIA torture expert to teach Jim Carrey techniques on how to endure the hell of his eight-and-a-half-hour transformation into the Grinch. As if seeing the Grinch in real life wasn’t terrifying enough, imagine the Grinch chain-smoking and punching his own legs while demanding that people randomly hit him across the head. He described the makeup application as “being buried alive every day.”

We’re still waiting to hear about how torturous it was for Mike Myers to sit through the makeup process for The Cat In The Hat. Has anyone heard from Michael? Anyone?


Male Actors Must Be Popping Boners All Over During Sex Scenes, Right?

On one hand, I realize that many porn actors have reached down deep inside of themselves and found the will to maintain erections while a bunch of bored crew members look on. I can respect that. But for every non-porn kind of actor, it would seem like an audience would be a boner deterrent. It’s like pee shyness taken to its most nightmarish extreme. And that’s good, right? Sex scene or not, this is neither the time nor the place for your raging hard-on to make an appearance. On the other hand, erections can be uncontrollable bodily reactions that can only be combated by running away while apologizing profusely to everyone in sight.

That’s pretty much what Henry Cavill did on the set of The Tudors when he got hard during a sex scene. “It’s not great when you’re in a professional acting environment and somebody gets a boner, is it?” Acting is one of the only professions on Earth in which a boner is not welcomed but is understood, given a specific set of circumstances — that being two people intentionally giving each other blue balls.

While I’d imagine it’s a painfully awkward experience for most actors, there is one performer I came across in my research who could probably make the full transition into porn if he wasn’t also one of the people whose name continuously came up in my research for actors with bad breath. Hugh Grant once said, “I’ve always enjoyed sex scenes, though you’re not really supposed to. The classic answer is, ‘Oh, it’s not sexy at all because there are so many technicians standing around.’ But I’ve always found them extremely arousing.” A sound guy in cargo shorts and a Chicago Cubs hat looming over Grant with a ten-foot pole as he pretend-plows an actress who’d rather be anywhere else on the face of the Earth than in that room in that moment really gets his balls swelled with anticipation.

Where Grant is living up to his reputation as a man who will fuck anyone, anywhere, anytime, Cavill is echoing a sex scene mantra that male actors from Tom Hanks to Ashton Kutcher to Samuel L. Jackson and possibly even as far back as Sir Laurence Olivier have for years been saying to their partners before cameras roll: “I apologize if I get aroused, and I apologize if I don’t.”

It’s a clever phrase, and it does cover both ends of the spectrum of male insecurity in the midst of a sex scene, but it also assumes that a scene partner will be hurt if the guy they’re dry humping in front of a crew that just wants to break for lunch doesn’t get aroused on the job. I don’t want to speak for the actor being ground with a cock-socked penis that may or may not be flaccid, but I think they’ll somehow find the strength to move on from the pain brought on by the absence of a boner.


Where Did That Old-Timey Movie Voice Come From, And Why Did It Die?

The Transatlantic accent is that voice we all recognize as a part of our pop culture subconscious, even if we’ve never seen a movie from the time period it’s from. It’s the voice basically everyone used in every movie from the 1930s, 1940s, and even into the 1950s. It was somehow vaguely British AND vaguely American, combining elements of both to create an accent that sounded like nobody on Earth. R’s were dropped almost entirely, turning “darling” into “dawling.” T’s, especially if they were at the end of a word, were given waaay too much emphasis at the expense of all the letters that came before them, turning “water” into “woah-tah.”

It was the only way actors spoke — and then it vanished, like an entire species wiped out in an instant by an asteroid. It pops up every now and again, but only as a reference to days gone by, like the voice Elizabeth Banks used in the Hunger Games movies, or in Mark Hamill’s version of the Joker. But where did this phenomenon come from, and why is it that one day, we woke up and it was gone, stealing our money and watch when it absconded into the night?

The Transatlantic accent is fake. It’s like when your friend comes back from a couple of weeks in England sounding like Dick Van Dyke in Mary Poppins. It was a cornerstone of Edith Skinner’s Speak With Distinction, a textbook teaching aspiring actors how to speak clearly on stage. And it didn’t just live on the screen; it was encountered in real life, though not nearly as often as every other American accent. It was taught to kids throughout the Northeastern United States as an international version of English, so that they could better sound like an inbred aristocratic snob every time they asked “fathah” if they could take the Rolls-Royce for a spin around the slums that evening.

Still, the accent’s exact origins aren’t entirely known. One theory suggests it was developed to better fit the tinny tones of old radios, which couldn’t produce bass without blowing out their speakers. While there’s no one person or story to point to for its origin, we can point to one group of people for popularizing it: America’s aristocratic elite. The accent gained prominence in a time when America was prosperous and the influence of the very rich held sway. That changed after World War II.

The death of Hitler pretty much coincides with the death of the Transatlantic accent. The middle class was growing and American aristocracy was starting to lose its shine. There was a national desire to see common, middle-class speech patterns reflected in movies. The Transatlantic accent, which was very obviously fake, had finally begun to sound fake to people.


It’s Hard To Watch A Movie During Which Someone Died On Set Without Wondering What Scene It Happened In

It’s impossible. I need to know. I need to know the scene, the way it happened. Then I try to figure out if I’m watching the actor or a body double. Is it the actor just a few days before they died, or are they already dead and their stand-in is wearing the clothes of a dead person? It’s terrible, and I just can’t stop thinking about it.

This kind of “fun” morbidity has the same effect on me as looking at old people with cheeks so droopy that it gives them basset hound eyes — it’s too repellent to ponder for too long without falling into a depression. The obsessive creep factor has led to the creation of a list of movies I can’t ever watch again, which is probably for the best, since most are dogshit anyway.

The Crow is a movie I watched, I’ll say, ten times before learning its star was killed during filming in a freakish gun accident. My 11th and final viewing was spent examining each frame like Kevin Costner looking over the Zapruder Film for evidence of a second shooter in JFK. Turns out the tragic mid-scene death of an actor during the production of a film was not included in the final cut. Seems like a real lost opportunity.

The Twilight Zone movie is probably the most famous example of the bunch. Actor Vic Morrow and two child actors were famously killed during a horrific accident, which was made all the more terrible when it was discovered that director John Landis ran what might be one of the most dangerous, most morally bankrupt movie sets ever.

But none of them trigger my morbid fascination with on-set death quite as thoroughly as The Adventures Of Milo And Otis, the live-action kids movie about a dog and a cat who get into a series of scrapes and have to find their way back home. It’s was probably really cute when you were four, but it gets remarkably less cute when you hear that pesky, unproven (but extremely prevalent) rumor that up to 30 Milos and Otises were killed during production, and one kitten may have had its paw purposefully broken for one shot, and oh my god, if that’s true, the movie is a cinematic pet cemetery. The rumors were never proven, so we may never know for sure just how many animals may or may not have been killed to make 1986’s 14th most forgettable movie.

But here’s one unsettling bit of trivia to leave you with: You know how movies with animals in them will say “No animals were harmed during the making of this film?” The Adventures Of Milo And Otis has that, but its wording is a little … off. It says: “The animals used were filmed under strict supervision with the utmost care for their safety and well-being.”

I’m not saying they’re lying. What I’m saying is, if you asked me if I killed 30 dogs and cats to make a shitty kids movie and I didn’t want you to know, I think I’d say something along the lines of “Well, we did try our best.” And then I’d run as fast as I possibly could away from you. Like, I-just-popped-a-boner-on-set fast.

Luis has been trapped in a full-body prosthetic suit for several hours with no hope of escape. In the meantime, you can find him on Twitter, Tumblr, and Facebook.

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5 Harsh Realities Of Homeless Camps Nobody Talks About

Get intimate with Season 1 of our podcast Cracked Gets Personal. Subscribe for fascinating episodes like My Job Was Killing People: 3 Soldiers Tell Us Everything and Behind Every War News Story Is A 20-Something College Kid and keep an eye out for Season 2, coming soon!

If you live in a major American city, you’ve probably seen your fair share of homeless camps. They usually crop up in empty lots, parks, and Big Rock Candy Mountains. City governments generally have them torn down and cleaned up whenever they can. Leaving aside whether or not that’s the right way to address homelessness, somebody has to do the work of cleaning those places up. Our source, Carol, did just that. She told us how …


Sometimes They Clean Up Corpses

“We have found two dead homeless men, and one dead dog. There’s a procedure to it. And it’s not pleasant.”

Having now medaled in the Understatement Olympics, Carol told us about the first corpse she ever tidied up. “There was a row of about 30 tents spilling into the streets, and police had come and taken everyone out. Usually this is when they find bodies, but they must not have been very thorough, because when our lead went into the fourth tent to clean it out, she jumped, looked at me and a few others with wide eyes, and said, ‘There’s a body.’ I peeked in, and there it was. I should have been chilled, but it looked like someone asleep. It probably muted the shock for me. Only later did the whole ‘I saw a dead person’ thing get to me.”

Carol’s second encounter with a corpse came while cleaning tents at an expansive camp about to be bulldozed. News crews were present with cameras, and the city was very concerned at the prospect of riots. “An officer ran back before a councilman could give his speech, and he told us that there was a body, and it needed to be removed. We were all thinking, ‘Shit, someone died here. We better get the body out an treat it with dignity.’ The councilman just looked annoyed. Not sad or shocked, but annoyed that he couldn’t announce the bulldozing for another hour or two.”

CNNAnd yet he doesn’t understand why people don’t like politicians.


They Also Clean Mountains Of Poo

Activists often protest the closing of homeless camps. That’s understandable. We mostly treat the homeless like shit. Society can make Xboxes and spaceships — we should have a better answer at this point. But we don’t. We also don’t have solutions for the enormous piles of poop the homeless generate.

“It’s the worst part. Usually I’m doing like a river cleanup, and the worse thing I’ll see is a single condom or a dead fish. Homeless camps have both piss and shit in anything you can imagine.” Porta-potties cost money, and hey, funny question: You know what the homeless don’t have a lot of?

Most of the places Carol cleans up make due with a designated pooping area. “But more in the city, there isn’t the ground or room for that, and it will be everywhere. There was an alley we were cleaning up that had a dumpster. Sanitation had complained because they couldn’t get to this dumpster in almost a year. One of the volunteers was picking stuff up and throwing it away, and opened the dumpster to throw something away. Immediately, the smell of shit went from about a 4 right up to a 10. Our lead went over and looked inside and almost keeled over. ‘This dumpster is full of shit!’ I didn’t want to look, but from the specialty crews they brought in, and the smell, it really was.”

Carol also reported numerous bags of shit and bottles of urine. “You know those 20-ounce bottles, or like a cup from Jack in the Box? Yeah, they were there. The fields never had them, but in the city they certainly did. A few times there were, like, bottles with blood. Not a lot, but still enough to notice.”

Marc Lester/Alaska Dispatch NewsIn the case of that Steel Reserve bottle, it was less of a case of “filling up with urine” than it was “refilling.”

“Overpasses are the worst. When we came in to clean, it always smelled like urine, and you could always see a little trickle of liquid going down off the sidewalk into the road. It could be water, it could be urine. It was almost always both. Street crews would have to come and clean it, and I was told the same method they used to clean up after homeless urine streams was how they would clean up after a car accident that leaked fluid. It was a biohazard.”

Conditions at many of these sites are considered public safety violations, with some, like this infamous Seattle camp, upgraded to “inhumane.” It’s worth noting that there are also some very well-put-together, organized, and funded homeless camps. Those are not the ones Carol is talking about.

“Oh, I’ve seen rats there. Cockroaches, too. You expect those in any city, but at homeless camps, it’s bad. At a few really bad camps, there was a doctor who checked us out for lice and fleas when we left. And this was after we received these special plastic coverings over our clothes.”

We know this sounds like a nightmare scenario with no good options, but … that’s only because that’s exactly what it is.


They Have To Worry About Protesters

Carol’s work is controversial. She regularly encounters protesters, and they rarely listen to her side of the story. Even if she’s using airtight logic like I didn’t actually close this camp, I’m just here to clean up the corpses and shit.

“A week before a homeless camp cleanup, we’ll have refresher training. There are parts on handling things like needles, what to do with property with value. Um, there’s a part about biohazards, what can be recycled, what to do when confronted. The biggest part is in ignoring protesters … I’ve been spat on by protesters, and I’ve been heckled by them mercilessly. At a camp in the city, I had to pull out a giant corrugated steel sheet, and at one point it was over my head and would have easily fallen on me. You know what those people were chanting? ‘Crush HER. Crush HER. Crush HER.’ They wanted me to get injured.”

Carol is a volunteer. She helps clean a lot of places in her city, for no other reason than that she cares about making it a better place. Homeless camps are only one part of that. But to the protesters, she might as well be manning the hobo flamethrowers.

“Most of the chants are along the lines of ‘Don’t do this to the homeless. They’re people.’ And I sympathize with that. But … these parts of the city [are] disgusting, and once the [homeless are already] out, we had to do something … why not make it clean again, right?”

She and her colleagues have hit upon one ingenious strategy for keeping the protesters at bay while they work. “Whenever we carry out actual human shit, we keep the bin of it right by the protesters, and it always quiets them down. They go from complaining about us cleaning the camp area to ‘Hey, can you move this box of shit away from us?’ Our lead plans it like that. Chants will stop, and complaints go from being about the homeless to about the box of poop. If you are annoyed by a protest and you have poop, that stops it. At least in my experience.”


They Find Sad Reminders Of The Past

Becoming homeless is like only being able to grab one thing from a burning house. Do you go for the photo albums? Your diploma? Your crate of artisanal small-batch dildos? Many homeless people have to make those decisions every time they move to a new camp. Most of what gets left behind is garbage … “But sometimes, we’re going to find a box, or a small bag of personal mementos they didn’t bring with them. It’s super depressing. We need to look through it, because if there’s an ID or something valuable, we need to give it to the authorities and attempt to track them down. We found about $3,000 in cash once, and we had to try to find the guy who had it, but they never did.”

Carol continues: “We’ll find photos of the homeless person who was there in happier times. There have been photos of their parents, photos of them younger, wedding photos, photos with their own kids. They once had a successful life, and when they had to leave their camp, they left behind these photos of what had been. I’ve seen discharge papers from around the time of Vietnam, and I’ve seen more recent pictures and medals from Iraq or Afghanistan. A few of the guys on the crew are ex-Army, and they are the ones who handle that sort of thing. They are never excited to say, ‘I found a Purple Heart.’ One time, they were digging through a vet’s belongings, hoping to find out who he was, and they said, ‘He left behind his Bronze Star!'”

For reference, the Bronze Star is a medal you only get for the kind of heroism that would seem over the top in a Tom Cruise movie. Valuable possessions like that are held by the city, in case the owner wants to claim them. It doesn’t happen often.

“There was an older guy. White beard, tan jacket, he had on a baseball cap with a big cardboard bill. He walked in to us cleaning up, ignored the police officers’ warning not to come in, and bent inside a makeshift room with an old shower curtain on top. He pulled out a trash bag, and back outside, he rooted through until he got to a big photo. I was on the other side, so I couldn’t see what was on it, but he hugged it and started crying, but with no noise. With the police next to us, we asked what it was. Someone who could see asked ‘Is that your daughter?’ He got up with the bag and said, ‘It was my daughter,’ and walked away.”


They Also Deal With Homeless Pets

Pets help make the misery and pain of life more bearable by being generally better company than anybody truly deserves. Some homeless people are good pet owners. Some aren’t. “Many homeless have pets, and no matter how much they care for them, there are always going to be a few left behind. Usually they’re cats. We’ve been told cats are there to keep the rats at bay, but from talking to a few homeless when I wasn’t volunteering, they were real pets that they feel a little better about leaving behind, because they can fend for themselves. You felt shitty a few times, leaving when the sun went down. A homeless guy would be calling their pet’s name, in the hope that they weren’t brought to a shelter. I’ve left more than one camp that way, talking to other volunteers, while in the background you could hear fainter and fainter calls for a pet.”

Cats can handle themselves. Most dogs are pretty lost without people. “There have been a few volunteers who fell in love with an abandoned dog there so much that they’ve gone to the adoption center afterwards to get them. Like, once at a field cleanup, animal control pulled out a little puppy. It was about four months old. I think it was the Beethoven dog [a St. Bernard]. It kept looking at us with these big eyes. That night, they had to pick a name out of a hat because of how many people wanted to adopt it.”

Well, that’s as good a note as any to end on, provided you don’t want to spend the rest of your day inside a whiskey bottle.

Evan V. Symon is the interview finder guy, journalist, and interviewer for the Personal Experience section at Cracked. Have an awesome job/experience you’d like to see up? Then hit us up at today!

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A Ranking Of The Worst ‘Vanderpump Rules’ Couples

Naming the best couple on is easy: It’s Lisa and Ken, and they may well be the best couple on the planet. Sure, Ken is essentially a well-dressed sofa cushion for Lisa’s parade of animal companions, but I can’t even get my boyfriend to sit through a full episode of without grumbling about how he’s going to throw acid in his eyes, let alone support me through the purchase of two ponies, eight swans, seven turtles, and eight dogs. So, it’s a shame that with such a good role model, the SUR staff is still seemingly incapable of distinguishing “soulmate” from “person who also works here”—or in Jax’s case, “female in my eyeline.” Here’s a ranking of ’s worst of the worst.

Tom and Ariana

What’s the worst thing you can say about this couple? They’re kind of boring, and he wears more makeup than she does? She’s pretending to be anti-marriage to get screen time not dying to get engaged? Yeah, move along. They don’t actively hate each other, and they have not said things to each other on TV that have made me gasp. They’re fine.

Katie and Tom

Ugh, I was really hoping to rank these two lower, seeing as most of the episodes surrounding their wedding were so goddamn traumatizing, I couldn’t even enjoy the finale. I just don’t understand how that Vegas trip wasn’t a bigger red flag for either one of them, let alone the running joke about how sexless they are. That being said, they are still a pretty good couple by standards (no cheating further than making out, vaguely promising couples’ therapy, etc.).

Jax and Carmen / Jax and Tiffany

If you’re thinking, “Who?” here, you have a good point. Tiffany is the girl in Vegas who paid for Jax’s hotel room in which he banged another girl, and Carmen is the girl Jax was actually dating when he first got together with Tiffany. Were either of these relationships founded on more than physical attraction and shots? No, but in their defense, they didn’t then stay together for three years and systematically ruin each other’s lives, which is pretty much the M.O.

Jax and Brittany

Speaking of that M.O., here’s Jax and Brittany! Unlike Carmen/Tiffany, Brittany becomes fully invested, moves to LA, and is gifted new boobs—after which she’s berated and humiliated for not showing her gratitude by doing things like “making sandwiches” and “not being around so much.” Brittany is a very sweet if painfully stupid naïve girl—she deserves better than a relationship that renders both parties half as attractive as they were when they came in.

Kristen and Tom

Everyone tends to focus on how unrelentingly batshit Kristen became post-breakup (and there’s a lot to focus on), but the relationship itself was also pretty fucking awful (the cheating, the constant fighting, the general vibe of two people who just couldn’t figure out how to leave each other). That being said, I was full-on bawling when they had a brief emotional moment post breakup; they were probably once in love before it became a who’s-shittier competition.

Stassi and Frank / Stassi and Jax

I’m grouping these together, because we don’t see much of either, and they have similar trends. The relationships themselves are mostly Stassi bitching and Jax/Frank being a whiny little shit. They both have one HORRIFYING feature (Jax: impregnating a stripper; Frank: distributing Stassi’s sex tape), and are otherwise unremarkable. I would’ve loved to see the Malibu Barbie/Ken phase of Jax & Stassi, but Stassi was too smart to be another cog in Jax’s sex addiction take him back, and I applaud her.

Jax and Laura Leigh

This relationship was deliciously hard to watch. I don’t think Jax paid a single piece of positive attention to Laura Leigh that wasn’t related to either his dick or Stassi’s presence, meaning I spent way too much time screaming, “He doesn’t even LIKE you,” at my TV. But seriously, if a guy is nervously smiling instead of responding with words 9/10 times, take his cue and assume they are not words you want to hear, LL! And please, either take your helium voice down a couple pitches, or tell fewer chilling meth-addiction stories in it; the combination is not workable.

Scheana and Shay

Ugh, this couple wins for most brutal offenses over a long-ass period of time. It’s honestly sad that Scheana didn’t realize he had a pill addiction for their entire relationship, and that she somehow felt a chemistry between them that was never visible to a single viewer undoubtedly less present for Shay, if at all, behind the far more pressing issue of where he was going to get his next high. I hope Scheana finds someone who does more than sullenly tolerate her presence and that Shay finds his way off my TV screen forever.

Kristen and James

Finally, what do you get when you put the two most determinedly awful people in the world together? A Weinstein-Trump sandwich ’s worst couple! This relationship involved cheating, lying, hints of alcoholism, verbal AND physical abuse, and also managed to be exceptionally un-fun to watch, given the fact that you are rooting for no one and nothing other than the sweet release of death for all parties involved.

Even just recapping those relationships was exhausting—I have no idea how these people lived through all of them. Thankfully, in three weeks (!!!), I can go back to doing what I do best: getting drunk on Monday nights and continuing to watch this blessed cast do things I would never have the lack of shame strength to do myself. Blessings.

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6 Things You Learn After Shooting A Cop (In Self-Defense)

Get intimate with Season 1 of our podcast Cracked Gets Personal. Subscribe for fascinating episodes like My Job Was Killing People: 3 Soldiers Tell Us Everything and Behind Every War News Story Is A 20-Something College Kid. And keep an eye out for Season 2, coming soon!

Let’s see if we can spot the problem here:

Much of America fiercely believes that A) every citizen should have the right to defend their own home with deadly force, and B) that police should kick in the door of any residence that might have drugs inside. You know, to keep our children safe.

This means that raids occur in predawn hours, with police sometimes swarming disoriented, paranoid armed suspects who often have no idea what the fuck is going on. If you’re about to say that it’s a miracle these people don’t wind up shooting the cops in a blind panic, well, we have two stories to tell you.


You’re Awakened By An Explosion And The Sound Of Someone Smashing Through Your Door. What Do You Do?

First, let’s talk about Ray Rosas. Up until 2015, he had never been arrested in his life. He was a law-abiding 42-year-old man who took care of his elderly mother and mentally ill older brother. He lived in Corpus Christi, Texas, and generally did nothing that would ever get him into a Cracked article. However, he did let his nephew crash with him, and he turned to be a low-level drug dealer. Then, one night, this happened:

“Ray was asleep in his bed by the window on the morning of the raid. He was watching TV. A flashbang grenade came in through the window and hit him in the face, or at least the explosives sent window shards into his face. We don’t know what hit him in the face, because nobody took him to get medical care.”

That’s from Rosas’ lawyer, Lisa Greenberg. We’ll admit she has a bias, but you should know that a jury wound up agreeing with most of what she’s going to say here. The police stormed the home, but, like roughly half of Texans, Rosas was a legal gun owner. He responded to his window exploding by opening fire on the source of said explosion. If that response sounds crazy to you, it should be noted that Rosas had been the victim of drive-by shootings before. It was that kind of neighborhood, and he had previously testified against a local gangbanger (meaning he had been expecting retaliation). Rosas hit three police officers — Steven Brown, Andrew Jordan, and Steven Ruebelmann. All would survive their injuries.

That was not true in the case of Henry “Hank” Magee, another Texan. Unlike Rosas, he was guilty of a crime — he owned a couple of tiny (six-inch-tall) marijuana plants, and several more seedlings. An informant had told police that Magee ran a sizable grow operation and was armed to the teeth. A Burleson judge issued a warrant, and his trailer was raided. Magee woke up to a terrifying noise, and like Rosas, he had no way of knowing the dark shapes storming through his door were cops and not home invaders there to murder him and his pregnant girlfriend.

We talked to his attorney, Dick DeGuerin (he’s a big-time lawyer whose past clients include the Branch Davidians and Robert Durst). “He and his girlfriend say [they] didn’t hear anything before there’s this large explosion and a guy dressed in black ran inside.” Magee went to his bedroom and grabbed his gun. “[His girlfriend] actually got burned on her neck from the muzzle flash from Hank’s gun. She could very easily have been shot herself.” Magee shot and killed a deputy, 31-year-old Adam Sowders.

The combined amount of drugs seized in these cases could fit in your pockets. Question: Have we as a society lost our fucking minds?


Dogs And Cameras Can Paint You As A Dangerous Criminal

As we mentioned, in Rosas’ case, he wasn’t the target at all. The police were serving a warrant against his nephew, who wasn’t even home at the time of the goddamned raid. Some drugs were found in the nephew’s room, and by “some drugs” we mean “roughly half of what you’d bring for a long weekend at Burning Man.”

Corpus Christi Police Department

Wondering what’s with the webcam? Well, Rosas had it on the exterior of his house, and the police decided that was the marker of a drug den (rather than of someone who lived in a dangerous neighborhood). See, no-knock warrants require a certain amount of “points” to be granted in advance. The police have to be able to make a case that the person they’re raiding is so dangerous that it’s simply not safe for them to announce themselves first. And what are the standards for issuing a no-knock warrant? It’s hard to say. It took Greenberg two years in court to get the department to admit some of the things that factored into their decision.

“Nobody wanted to give me that info. But if you have a dog and they call it a dangerous dog, you get like 20 points on this scale. And you need like 30 to get a no-knock warrant. I asked the officer what’s a dangerous dog. ‘A barking dog.’ I asked, ‘Well what kind of dog doesn’t bark?’ If you have a gun in your house, you get like five. Everybody in Texas has a gun.”

We talked about this to Chris Gebhardt, a 15-year veteran SWAT officer from Utah. He explained that the point system is called a “Risk Matrix” (a search of IMDb shows that, incredibly, there has never been an action movie with that title), and it’s different in every department. “I can see how they justified. Covered windows [are] obstructive, a loud dog, [since] because he barks he gives alert, again taking away this element of surprise. So you’ve got to think about it in those terms … There are some places where they’ll actually take out a BB gun to take out the lights … It’s about: How do you preserve that element of surprise?”

We also asked Grant Whitus, who led the first SWAT team into Columbine. He spent 25 years on the job, and he was adamant that no-knock warrants were the way to go, claiming that they reduce the risk of violence. “Honestly, everybody prefers a no-knock warrant, just because of the time it takes to get up there, it’s very fast and fluid once you get in there, and it doesn’t allow the bad guy to have time to react to what’s happened. So it’s much safer for law enforcement to use no-knock warrants. Believe me, I’d get ’em all the time if I had to.”

But if a suspect happens to be exercising their Second Amendment rights and is able to get to their gun, tragedy seems inevitable. Not because the suspect doesn’t want to be arrested, but because they don’t want to die. And believe it or not, juries sometimes agree.


Police Often Act On Incomplete Or Bad Information

Gebhardt and Whitus were both insistent that no raid should ever occur without a huge amount of homework. According to Whitus: “We’re going to go and look at the house, we’re going to watch the house for a number of hours … we’re going to do background checks on who lives there and then we’re going to develop a plan … we basically set up a mock area where we practice around two or three times, to make sure everybody was on the exact same page, in terms of who is where and doing what.”

In Rosas’ case, they didn’t properly surveil the home or make sure the actual subject of the goddamned warrant was even there. In Magee’s case, the police drove around the trailer once. Otherwise, they were working off the information given to them by the informant, and no real steps were taken to verify the story of a guy who was, again, trying to reduce his own criminal charges by acting like he was giving up a kingpin.

“[The informant] told them that Hank had said he wasn’t afraid to use a gun in case there was a raid. Well that was whole cloth too,” says DeGuerin. The police even had some indication that was bullshit. They’d been to Magee’s home before, responding to a noise complaint due to him shooting off his guns for the hell of it (we understand that in many parts of Texas, if neighbors don’t hear gunfire, they assume you’re either on vacation or have fallen into a deep depression). On that occasion, Magee spoke to the officers and cooperated without any issues. There was no indication that the man was willing to go down shooting to avoid jail, aside from the word of their full-of-shit informant.

It’s hard to say exactly how frequently the police under-prepare for dangerous forced-entry raids, but it’s probably worth noting that the vast majority of these raids turn up nothing. The ACLU found that only 35 percent of SWAT drug raids produced anything illegal. In forced-entry raids, like both the cases in this article, the police “hit” rate is a mere 25 percent. The other thing to remember is that a lot of so-called SWAT teams are in fact groups of normal cops with fancy gear. The DA of Burleson described the training of the team that raided Henry Magee as “minimal.”

“They’ll put together these ad-hoc tactical operations,” says Gebhardt. “They’ve done some training … they wear the gear, they look like a SWAT team … they play one on TV, so to speak, and that’s where the danger comes in.” For example, in both cases in this article, there were questions about whether or not the flashbang grenades were used properly, or at what point in the process the officers announced themselves as police. But even if you don’t want to get bogged down in procedure, it seems like the risk of tragedy is high even if it goes perfectly.

In Rosas’ case, he says that if they yelled “Police!” as they stormed in, he didn’t hear it. This was a man who had been sound asleep and then awakened by an explosion, suddenly bleeding from the head. He assumed he’d been shot. Remember, his elderly mother was in the house, too — it wasn’t only his own life he thought he was fighting for.

In Magee’s case, he had been asleep next to his pregnant girlfriend, Kori White, on the living room sofa. The officers threw the flashbang into the wrong end of the trailer, and the couple didn’t even wake up until they heard somebody banging on their front door, trying to break in. They insist that they even asked who was there, and got no answer before Hank ran to get his gun. A figure burst through the door, and Magee opened fire.

It was a perfect recipe for disaster, and for that, Adam Sowders paid with his life. He wasn’t a jackbooted agent of the state; he was a guy doing his job. It’s just that his job was to put himself and his co-workers into an extremely dangerous situation in order to seize a bunch of hypothetical marijuana plants before, god forbid, someone turned them into joints and smoked them while watching animal bloopers on YouTube all night.


Police Are Forgiven For Mistakes, While Civilians Are Expected To Act With Perfect Discipline

Henry Magee is kind of a legal unicorn, in that a grand jury refused to even indict him for killing a police officer (they would still get him with the marijuana charge). Ray Rosas was eventually declared not guilty for firing at and wounding the three officers, but had to go to trial and spent nearly two years in jail before being exonerated. He lost pretty much everything.

And here’s the thing that makes all of that especially hard to swallow: In the chaos during Rosas’s raid, one of the officers outside the window (Steve Ruebelmann) shot back and grazed Ross Murray, another officer who was already in the house. Then Rosas was charged with assault for the officer getting hit by the stray bullet. “Ray was charged with six different counts,” says Greenberg. “Three of attempted murder on a police officer, and three of aggravated assault. He was also charged with shooting at the second officer in [Murray].”

Rosas spent 22 months in jail during his trial. Officer Ruebelmann, who also shot and wounded a cop, was given an award for valor. Everyone understood he’d made a mistake in a tense and chaotic situation — he’s only human, after all. But why wouldn’t that same standard apply to Rosas, who didn’t have Ruebelmann’s training, or the advantage of knowing what the hell was even happening?

Greenberg brought this up during the trial. “I said to [Ruebelmann], ‘Did you feel fear? Did you smell gunpowder? Did you not know what was happening? Did you shoot to try to protect your brothers in blue? Did you shoot to try to protect yourself?’ He said yes. I said, ‘How is that different from Rosas? How is that any different? Why aren’t you sitting here? You hit Ross Murray. Why aren’t you sitting here for attempted capital murder?'”

And it’s not like it would have been better if Ruebelmann’s bullet had found its intended target — that being Rosas, a terrified, half-asleep man who thought he was fighting for his life. In fact, according to a New York Times investigation, civilians appear to die much more often than officers in these kinds of raids. But our data here isn’t very good, because departments aren’t required to report about any of this.


Getting Off Doesn’t Mean You Don’t Get Punished

By the way, this is Ray Rosas:

Gabe Hernandez/Corpus Christi Caller-Times

Or that’s how he looks now. Here’s how he looked after his arrest:

via Talk Real Solutions

His attorney says that some of those injuries are from the flashbang, while some were delivered by police during the arrest. Yes, Rosas eventually was found not guilty, but the events of that night ruined his life. “He’s this cop shooter, right?” says Greenberg. “So after they arrested everybody, they took his elderly mother and called protective services on her. Ray had two animals, two dogs, we never knew what happened to one. We think they killed [it]. Because we heard on the tapes, the dog barking and then shots, and then nothing. The home, they condemned the home and then sold it. The city sold it. This is his family home. And it’s by no means beautiful, but it’s what they owned. I think they got, like, $17k for the family home.”

Rosas’ mother attempted to use that money to bond her son out of jail and spare him almost two years of incarceration. Yeah, that wasn’t happening. “[A]t the bond hearing, there were at least 70 cops in that room staring the judge down, like, ‘If you reduce this bond’ … and glaring at us, and the judge raised his bond. So it was like $2 million.” Rosas was put in solitary confinement for the entirety of his time in jail, which can mess with your brain so badly that the effects can last a lifetime.

“The saddest part of it all to me is I can’t make him whole. I can win the case but I can’t make this man whole again. I check in with him and he’s had a hard time adjusting. He was in isolation for two years.”

Hank Magee, after being charged with capital murder, was only found guilty of the crime of possessing more than four ounces of marijuana (4.4, in fact) while using a deadly weapon. He pleaded guilty and got 18 months in jail. He and Kori White split up; their relationship didn’t survive the ordeal.


It’s All A Big, Dumb Machine That Eats Fear And Spits Out Tragedy

In detailing all of the consequences, we have gone too long without mentioning Adam Sowders, a guy who had wanted to be a cop since he was a teenager (before that, he was a firefighter), and who was awarded Officer of the Year in 2011. Maybe the other players in these two cases will recover, maybe they won’t, but Sowders is gone forever. He didn’t pass the laws or write the department’s procedures. Both Sowders and the man who shot him dead were just a couple of guys. Two human beings, only a few years apart in age, set on a lethal collision course by generations of crass politicians and scared voters.

This will happen again.

In the 1980s, the U.S. saw roughly 3,000 SWAT raids per year. Now we’re at 50-80,000 raids per year (that’s the whole “militarization of police” thing you’ve been hearing about). This means that in the U.S., a couple of hundred homes are raided every single day, in a country with 300 million privately owned guns. All because this fierce cultural defense of one freedom (to own a firearm) doesn’t seem to translate to any other. It wasn’t Magee’s ownership of an AR-10 assault that made him dangerous to the state, but his growing of several plants.

If you don’t care about the lives of drug users or dealers (and we know for a fact that lots of people don’t), then what about the lives of police officers? Or bystanders? How easily could this have ended tragically for Rosas’ mother, or Kori White, or her unborn baby? Or are their lives also worthless due to proximity?

If you think so, can you please stop and ask yourself the same question we raised earlier: Have we lost our fucking minds?

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What Stupid Thing Is Trending Now (11/19/2017)

Sexy comes in many different, subjective flavors. People find different attributes sexy, and it’s not always just physical qualities. However, if you’re going to have an objective, superficial contest, like People magazine’s “Sexiest Man Alive,” it’s farcical unless Idris Elba wins every year. I wanted to find out just who were these knuckleheads who voted for Blake Shelton over Idris “Bedroom Eyes” Elba.

First it should be noted that 31 of the 33 “Sexiest Men Alive” have been white. Just getting that out there right off the bat. Is it racist? Yes. Yes, it is.

Moving on to Sheltongate 2017: what sinister regime determines the sexiest man? According to this video, it’s just a group of People magazine execs who paw through piles of men, and vote on which they think is sexiest. But based on the fact that Idris Elba has never won, I have another theory: People Magazine relies on the judgement of a blind, 90-year-old hermit, who has spent his entire life chained in a lightless basement. They hand him a list of names, demanding he choose one if he desires a scrap of food. He cannot read, in fact, his eyes have shrunk to blind nubs due to lack of use. He points a grimy fingernail at a name, and that is the sexiest man for the year.

Check out this week’s trending things!

Smart Hannity Fans Smash Their Own Coffee Makers In Protest

The BBC Quoted A Hardcore Porn Website’s Anti-Trump Tweet

Are Gorillas Using Tinder Now? Spoilers: No, They’re Not

There’s Gourmet Sushi For Dogs (Who Lick Their Own Butts)

Affleck Seems To Think It’s OK To Joke About Harassment Now

The ACLU Should Use Truck Nuts As A Free Speech Precedent

Designer Pasta Means Rich People Have Run Out Of Ideas

Set Your Ovens To 420: There’s A Cheetos Turkey Recipe

Who Is The Culprit Behind The Sephora Eyeshadow Caper?

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