Don Smith soared toward the hoop, ready to perform his trademark reverse stuff. But an opponent cut out his legs, and the longtime ``Rubber World'' magazine editor slammed to the basketball court, crumpled, holding a knee as his teammates frantically tried to help.
OK, so that's an exaggeration. Smith-who at shorter than 5'9'' is noted for his passing and shooting, and couldn't play near the rim if his life depended on it-was driving to the basket when an opponent tried to steal the ball and hard-fouled him to the floor. A 9-1-1 call brought the meat wagon. He was hauled off to the hospital and enjoyed the Christmas holiday on crutches.
The damage: a knee injury, various cartilage breaks and tears and surgery on Jan. 11.
Smith plays basketball weekly in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, with a group of fellow graybeards, including several from the rubber industry. Or, at least, he did until his encounter with the court floor.
On Jan. 9, before his surgery, Smith showed his mettle. He couldn't play and hobbled about on crutches, but still was waiting for his peers after the game at a local beer joint.
Burn, baby, burn
``The Simpsons'' has been on television so long the adult cartoon has become part of mainstream America. However, it still has its moments of political incorrectness.
In the Jan. 8 episode, Marge Simpson backs up her car at a toll booth, rather than pay the 75 cents, and runs over one-way tire-damaging spikes, causing her tires to blow out. All the cars behind her back up, and a chain-reaction of blowouts results.
Here's where the ``not-PC'' part comes in.
The tire jockeys arrive and remove the tires, toss them in a truck, which hauls them to Springfield's tire dump.
This being Cartoonland, the dump is burning, and the tires are thrown in to feed the flames. And the smoke drifts over a mountain, melts an icecap, revealing a mail carrier frozen for 40 years, and...well, watch the show.
Burning stockpiled tires generally is not the accepted method of disposal.
An inflatable bucktoothed rubber rat that has served some unions well and been the bane of strikebreakers may be forced from the picket line.
Seems that a concrete pouring firm, doing work on Long Island, N.Y., drew complaints from the Laborers' International Union of North America in 1998.
Union organizers set the rat up at work sites to protest alleged unfair work conditions and the use of non-union workers.
The company protested the use of the rat and took the matter to court, maintaining the bucktoothed rodent is a form of picketing. The union said it's a form of free speech. The court ruled against the union...and the rat.
The matter is now before the National Labor Relations Board, which has been slowly reviewing the case.
At stake is how much the imposing rubber rodent can be used at sites.
The union has more than one rat available, and they're all imposing.
They run from 15 to 30 feet high and have gray bodies with pink eyes, ears and nose. They sit on haunches with their front paws outstretched, claws extended. Their mouths are open, baring teeth.
If the union loses the case, members would surely miss the rats.
But a lawyer for the union told ``The New York Times'' the union has alternatives, among them an inflatable rubber skunk.
Lock and load
What's hand crafted in the U.S., made out of pine, stands 44 inches from its handle to the tip, sits on a revolving frame and comes with a free bag of 200 rubber bands?
A limited edition rubber band gatling gun.
The gun uses a mechanism similar to the Gatling Gun used in the Old West, has a turret that spins effortlessly through 360 degrees and will tilt from 45 degrees up to 22 degrees down.
A user winds a handle to spin the barrels and fire off the rubber bands.
The toy weapon holds 144 rounds, which can be fired in just 12 seconds, and has a fire rate of 560 rounds per minute. Theoretically.
Reloading takes between 10 and 30 minutes, because it isn't easy to load rubber bands. It's even harder to find and pick up those that were fired in less than a minute.
The gun is considered a toy, but an ad for the weapon on a Web site gave a hint of other uses: ``We keep one loaded in the office at all times to defend against hostile takeover attempts and pushy vendors,'' it said.
Some words of warning for the adventurous: Don't take on a bear with one of these.
Compiled and edited by Mike McNulty. Send items to [email protected]