The Loveable Loser

ASU Alternative Spring Break 139

 

Zippy Chippy, a bay gelding, boasts a pedigree that includes Northern Dancer, Buckpasser, Bold Ruler, Man o’ War, War Admiral and Round Table—some of the fastest horses of all time but none of all that special blood coursing through his veins could help him win a race. In one hundred starts, he won zero. That’s right, he never won a race. But, there is a moral to Zippy’s story as there usually is when it comes to horses.
Wait, he did beat a minor league baseball player in a forty yard dash in 2001 and he also beat a harness racer named Paddy’s Laddy. He beat out Paddy Laddy and his rig to win by a neck after he spotted the trotter a twenty-length lead.
After his win, Zippy’s owner said, “It feels good to win but it doesn’t count until we do it against thoroughbreds.
He’s mean, he kicks, he bites, but he has a home forever with me and my daughter.”
The last time Zippy Chippy raced against other thoroughbred horses it ended up as his 100th loss. It occurred on September 10, 2004, in the Northampton Fair at the Three County Fairgrounds. He went off at odds of 7-2, making him the second betting choice.

A host of fans were there that day to cheer him at the start and to take his picture, prompting his jockey to say, “It would be nice if people took photos at the end of the race too.” However, Zippy Chippy finished last.
Eventually, in 1995, his owners gave up on him and Felix Monserrate, who had boarded Zippy Chippy, purchased him in a trade for a 1988 Ford truck.
Zippy was finally banned from competing at many tracks. Why was he banned? Not because he was a perennial loser, but because sometimes he would refuse to leave the gate, or he would bite the other horses, or he would just pull up in mid-race.
But Old Friends Thoroughbred Retirement Home where he currently resides tells us that winners don’t always finish first. He has more visitors than any other horse at the retirement home.
Watching Zippy lose all his races became a very popular pastime. In fact, his profile got more reads on the Blood-Horse website than stories about Kentucky Derby winners did. He also made more money off the track than he ever did on it through merchandise sales and other endorsements.
And how many horses are voted one of the year’s “Most Intriguing Characters” by People Magazine? Only Zippy Chippy and he received that honor in the year 2000.
There is even a book written about him, which I have to admit, I haven’t read. It’s available on amazon.com. It’s called The Legend Of Zippy Chippy.
Zippy Chippy is the spokeshorse for racing horses. He went on tour in Kentucky in the summer of 2012 to bring attention to the safe retirement of racehorses.

Two hundred and fifty years before Zippy there was Stewball, or Squball, or Sku-ball. It is believed his name is bastardized from Skewbald, which is a horse with patches of white on a coat of any color, except black. A Piebald is a horse with patches of white on a coat of black.
The difference between Stewball and Zippy is that Stewball was a very successful racehorse on the track in England and Ireland as well as off the track.
His name instilled the words to an old song, a song sang by many people over the years but made popular in the 1960’s by the folk group, Peter, Paul, and Mary.
For your singing pleasure, here are the words.

Oh, Stewball was a racehorse, and I wish he were mine.
He never drank water, he always drank wine.

His bridle was silver, his mane it was gold.
And the worth of his saddle has never been told.

Oh the fairgrounds were crowded, and Stewball was there
But the betting was heavy on the bay and the mare.

And a-way up yonder, ahead of them all,
Came a-prancin’ and a-dancin’ my noble Stewball.

I bet on the gray mare, I bet on the bay
If I’d have bet on ol’ Stewball, I’d be a free man today.

Oh, the hoot owl, she hollers, and the turtle dove moans.
I’m a poor boy in trouble, I’m a long way from home.

Oh, Stewball was a racehorse, and I wish he were mine.
He never drank water, he always drank wine.

The Great Blackout of ’63 – Game Cancelled

The Night The Lights Went Out In LaCrosse
The Night The Lights Went Out In LaCrosse

 

Before the Magic Flying Cannon of ’67, there was the Great Blackout of ’63, precipitated by some of the same characters of disorder involved in the Magic Flying Cannon Caper. This time, instead of transforming into Coyotes, they transformed into flying Ravens.
This was before the big flood of ’65, which they didn’t cause, but their shenanigans surrounding the recovery from that flood caused a couple of tricksters to take an unplanned and early leave of absence from their pursuit of a higher degree.
Who are these characters of disorder?
The Navaho call them mischief-makers, thieves, or tricksters. The Spirit Chief sends them to the land of dream visions to confuse people and they come in the form of a Coyote or a Raven.
The characters of disorder seem to have supernatural powers which help them perform their tricks. They live, die, come back, shape shift, perform all sorts of magic.
Reality is nothing more than an illusion.
The Raven was the first bird out of Noah’s ark. It just didn’t return. It didn’t feel the need.
The one-eyed Odin, the Norse Lord of War, Death, and Knowledge had two ravens, Huginn and Muninn. They flew around the world every day bringing back up-to-date information on Odin’s enemies.
The Ravens in question, these characters of disorder, lived in Hans Reuter Hall, a freshman dormitory at the University of Wisconsin – LaCrosse, named after a professor of physical education who was instrumental in the development and refinement of many teaching and coaching techniques. Hans was a master in the use of the Indian Club, the oldest hand apparatus used in rhythmical gymnastics. He also invented a back quiver for archers which could be used from a seated position, a pendulum timer that he used in his classes, and a moveable manikin, a model of the human body used in teaching anatomy. Reuter received multiple university and community awards, including the naming of this campus residence hall in his honor.
The dormitory is located next to the university football stadium and the characters of disorder had to walk past the gridiron every day on their way to classes, or bars. At night, the lights in the stadium would be on to illuminate extra-curricular activities, not only on the weekends but during the week. This bothered the characters of disorder as the lights lit up their room and interfered with their sleep. So, they decided to do something about it and these mischief-makers didn’t always play by the establishment’s rules. They decided it would be in the best interest of those living in the dormitory if they turned off the lights – for good!
Exceptional thieves never leave a trace of their existence, so, to that end, they would have to possess something to carry away their bounty, but what could accommodate everything they apperceived they would procure? They decided on a suitcase, a large suitcase!
The caper went down at sunset on a Thursday when no evening activity was planned at the stadium. The late afternoon sky was afire with contrasting yellow, orange, and red clouds that streaked along the west side of the stadium.
The characters of disorder were in place and would wait for the sun to set. They had staked out the surrounding area of the football stadium to ensure no one was there. Students who spent the evening downtown would wander in at all hours, but the thieves weren’t troubled by them as they would be more concerned about keeping their balance and watching where their feet were going than they would be in their surroundings.
Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, it was time. The characters of disorder ducked limbs and slipped between the trees on their way to their destination.They flowed as if they’d been born in the wild. Their faces were streaked with black and one called out in a cry similar to the wolf.
The first Raven carried the suitcase and dragged himself up and flew across the open parking lot and up to the main entrance of the stadium. He turned his ankle  upon landing and the pain was excruciating, but his survival instincts forced him to move out to another hiding place higher up the entranceway. Soon the remaining two characters of disorder were by his side and it wasn’t long before all three flew over the fence and onto the playing field. They skirted across the fifty-yard line to the visitor’s side of the stadium. That is the side they started on. Two tricksters picked the light tower they would attack first and flew to the top, reaching the box that contained what they wanted. They dropped the items on the ground where the third trickster gathered them up and placed them in the suitcase. They continued around the field until they disabled every light tower surrounding the football stadium. When they finished, they had everything securely packed in the suitcase. It was very heavy and they took turns carrying it as they headed out of the stadium back to their dormitory.
The three characters of disorder decided it was best to leave town that weekend. So, in order to document the activities, they planted a colleague at the Saturday night football game to observe what transpired.
Their comrade told the tricksters that as the visiting team’s fans, as well as the home team’s fans, were entering the stadium, total pandemonium broke out when the switches were turned on to light up the field and nothing happened.
Officials called both football coaches out of the locker room and onto the field, along with the referees, to inform them of the problem.
“What are we going to do?” asked the visiting team’s coach?”
“I’m not sure,” replied the head referee. “Isn’t there someone here who can fix the lights?”
The maintenance men were unable to determine the cause and they sure didn’t want to climb forty feet up each light tower to continue their investigation. That was an electrician’s job and there wasn’t one working on a Saturday night.
When they informed the coaches and referees that they were unable to locate the problem, the stadium announcer came on and enlightened the spectators of their only course of action, “Game called – due to darkness!”
The fans were in total confusion. How could this be? What happened?
The mischief makers had confused and flimflammed the fans and officials.
That Friday, before the game, the characters of disorder didn’t have a smooth departure as they fled the scene of their latest exploit. The generator went out in the car, a 1959 Ford, they used for their escape and they had to make an emergency stop in Sparta, Wisconsin. They found themselves short of money to pay the garage for a replacement generator, but, the tricksters, being the wily magicians that they were, struck a deal with the garage owner. They would leave one of their suitcases with him as collateral and when they returned that Sunday night, they would have the money and would swap it out for the suitcase at that time. The garage owner agreed.
That Sunday, when the mischief-makers returned, the garage owner remarked, “That suitcase sure is heavy, what do you have in it?”
Well, the mischief-makers couldn’t reveal that there were two hundred fuses taken from the university’s football stadium lights in LaCrosse, so, in staying in character of confusion and disorder, they told him it was filled with bones from the anatomy laboratory that they took home to analyze.

Mark Twain – Outsmarted By A Lefty

photo23

 

A few years ago, the Wall Street Journal, published an article on being left-handed. I found it interesting because I am left-handed.

The experts said the study may help shed light on disorders related to brain development, like dyslexia, schizophrenia, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, which are more common in left-handed people.
These same experts say that about 10% of people are left-handed.
Another study by these experts says one of the determinates for turning out left-handed is that your mother was exposed to unusually high levels of stress during pregnancy so they gave birth to a left-handed child. So, I guess I can blame my affliction on my older brother, or at least part of it?
It’s dangerous being left-handed. I know it is. I live in danger every day when I try to operate tools made for right-handers. Can you believe a butter knife discriminates against lefties? Even fishing poses a problem.  Left-handers have to change the reels around so they can cast with their dominate hand. I would love to see right-handers out there trying to deal with everything being made for your left-handed brethren. After an hour of not being able to screw in a bolt, you would be driving it through your skull.

In pro football, Steve Young, a left-handed quarterback, posed a problem for his receivers because the spiral on the ball he threw was the opposite of what a right-handed quarterback threw.
But this WSJ article said, despite popular misperceptions, lefties aren’t more accident prone than right-handed people and don’t tend to die at a younger age. They also debunk the claim that left-handers are more intelligent than their right-handed counterparts. Folklore says left-handers are smarter, more creative and have an advantage over righties. Being left-handed, I tend to agree with folklore, at least it has history on its side. Obviously, this study was done by a right-handed researcher. Then the article went on to quote Robin Nusslock, a psychology professor at Northwestern University who said; “One reason more is not known about lefties is that many studies of how the brain works prohibit left-handers from participating because their brain wiring is known to be different.”

This article used a lot of scientific mumbo-jumbo like brain lateralization and hemisphere dominance along with the term “speculate.” I’m not positive, but I was under the understanding that scientists weren’t supposed to speculate. That they dealt in facts.

The article said that studying the dominance of one hand over the other may provide a window into the way our brains are wired, at least according to what these experts say.
Anyway, I’m left-handed and I’m not sure I want some quack looking in my window. Things up there are sensitive and meant to remain private.

Even Mark Twain, in one of his essays, seems to confirm the superiority of left-handers. He tells of the time he got hustled in a game of billiards in Virginia City.
A stranger in town proposed a game of billiards and Mark Twain agreed. The stranger told Mr. Twain to “knock the balls around a little so I can get your gait.”
After observing him for a while, the stranger said, “I will be perfectly fair with you, I’ll play you left-handed.”
After Mr. Twain lost the match, he said, “If you can play like that with your left-hand, I’d like to see you play with your right.”
“I can’t he said, “I’m left-handed.”
Once again, a sly left-handed bastard put one over on a slow-witted right-hander.
That story proves my point, left-handers are far superior to right-handers in spite of what some speculating researchers might say.