Man Sends Letter Claiming He Survived Escape From Alcatraz

(Getty Images/Andrew Powell)

He was presumed dead in the ocean, along with his two breakout partners

Imagine if The Shawshank Redemption was real, and Andy actually did escape to live a free life on a beach somewhere, awaiting his friend Red. Well, it seems it kinda/sorta was real. At least, there was a real-life daring breakout from a high-security prison, and at least one of the men may have actually survived.

Whether or not he was framed for a crime he didn’t commit is neither here nor there, this is a feel-good story!


John Anglin was one of three men to “successfully” escape the legendary island prison, Alcatraz, along with his brother Clarence and a man named Frank Morris. The trio fled the prison in June 1962 and was never found or heard from again, leading many to believe that they perished in the Pacific Ocean before reaching shore.

Apparently, John survived, at least according to a letter that was sent to the FBI in 2013. Obtained by KCBS, a CBS News affiliate in San Francisco, the letter reads:

“My name is John Anglin. I escape from Alcatraz in June 1962 with my brother Clarence and Frank Morris. I’m 83 years old and in bad shape. I have cancer. Yes, we all made it that night but barely!”

Anglin and his accomplices had used a homemade drill they’d made with a broken vacuum cleaner motor to widen their vents and crawl into a network of tunnels and pipes, eventually making it to the roof and sliding down to a smokestack to a raft they’d assembled with fifty raincoats. Then they promptly drowned and/or got eaten by sharks.

Or so law enforcement assumed.


“The Federal Bureau of Prisons say that they drowned once they got off of Alcatraz and their bodies were swept out to the Pacific Ocean — end of story,” National Park Service Ranger John Cantwell told KCBS.

In the letter, Anglin claims he lived in North Dakota and Seattle before settling in Southern California and had resurfaced because he was suffering from cancer and was willing to serve a year in a jail if the feds would treat his illness.

As exciting as all this sounds, it may not actually be true. Author Jolene Babyak is the daughter of the warden was living on the island at the time of the escape (she still remembers the sirens that night) and has since written several books on Alcatraz. She admits that the letter offers “lots of allegations, no real evidence, nothing you can follow up on,” and U.S. Marshals agree, having dismissed the letter and closed the case.

If Anglin did survive, he would have been 83 at the time of the letter and even older today. Here’s hoping he had some money socked away, and a friend who “knows how to get things” to hang out with.


This Day In Internet History – Feb. 17, 2001: O RLY

Know Your Meme

Greetings, Internet historians! I am RLY excited to share today’s lesson with you.


Yes, RLY! Today’s lesson involves an owl, some trolls, a computer virus, and Barbra Streisand — all wrapped up in the meme known as “O RLY.”

If you’re having trouble reading it, “O RLY” is an abbreviation of “Oh, really?”


A Brief History of O RLY

Seventeen years ago on this day, professional photographer John White published an image of a snowy owl looking, as he put it, “silly.” 

Why is the owl making that ludicrous face? According to White, it was cooling down after a particularly vigorous flight. It was panting, kind of like a dog.

Photograph by John White

White didn’t know it at the time, but the aviary subject of his photograph was destined for Internet stardom. Only, not for four more years.

In the meantime, it was 2001 — the era of online message boards. Yes, dark days — dark days, indeed. And what did people do on online message boards? They were sarcastic. They said dumb things to each other and responded with incredulity, saying things like “Ohhhhh, realllllly?” 

According to Know Your Meme, the phrase “O RLY” can be traced back to early 2003 on the forum of Something Awful, “where it was used as a deadpan response to anything you found doubtful, unimpressive or just plain dull.” I can’t think of any better adjectives to describe online message boards.

From the message boards of Something Awful, this is the first known instance of O RLY

Still, it wasn’t until 2005 that the O RLY retort found its soulmate in the image of John White’s snowy owl, on the imageboard website 4chan. That’s when an anonymous user overlaid the image with bold, white text, resulting in this gem:

Know Your Meme

Perhaps in part due to its simplicity, the O RLY image caught on with 4chan users instantly. They used it to respond sarcastically to posts not only on 4chan, but on multiple other forums, thus catalyzing its spread far and wide.

Over a short amount of time, the meme became synonymous with low-level trolling, and eventually spawned over 9,000 different iterations.

Some of the most popular O RLY versions are:

Gangsta Owl

O RLY Baby


O’Reilly O RLY


Two Controversies? O RLY?!

A couple of controversies involving O RLY led first to its ubiquitousness, then to its demise.

First Controversy: The Streisand Effect

When O RLY merchandise went on sale in 2005, photographer John White got a little miffed that he wasn’t receiving royalties. He decided to make his opinion known publicly. However, in the process of chastising popular bloggers for stealing his photograph, White found himself victim to the Barbra Streisand effect — by trying to censor the meme, he accidentally brought extra attention to it, thus making it more popular than ever.

Streisand effect aside, the craze didn’t last long. Why? My guess is, it had something to do with the virus.

Second Controversy: The Virus

In 2006, tons of computers got infected with a worm known as W32/Hoots-A. How did the virus work? Essentially, invasive malware sent pictures of the O RLY meme to the infected user’s printer, nonstop. Yeah, it’s fair to say people got pretty sick of it after that. Search queries for O RLY dropped to nearly zero within months.

Thus, the meme was over.

Still, it is used from time to time in today’s internet culture by people who want to come across as not only sarcastic, but extremely ironic. Kind of like a Nobel Laureate wearing a t-shirt that says “Jenius.”


What, you didn’t read all of that?


Alright, you friggin’ slouch. Here are the main points, in recipe form:

  • Take one picture of exhausted owl
  • Stir in sarcastic message board users
  • Combine until meme
  • Bake with the heat of the photographer’s ire
  • Destroy it all with a virus

And, voilà! You’ve made an O RLY meme.

Okay, class. For homework tonight, think about how nothing represents internet culture better than loving something and then immediately hating it with the same fervor.


Teen Snowboarder Oversleeps, Still Wins Gold, Hearts

(Marianna Massey/Getty Images)

He was binge-watching Andy Samberg because of course he was

Lost in all the hullabaloo (rightly) surrounding 17-year-old snowboarding phenom Chloe Kim’s dominance and elder statesmen Shaun White’s redemption tour is the story of another snowboarding champion who deserves recognition. For his exploits both on and off the course.

His name is Red Gerard, and based on the circumstances surrounding his performance earlier this week, he’s got to be the most relatable Olympian in years.

Gerard is a 17-year-old Coloradan who made the trip to Pyeongang to compete in the slopestyle snowboarding event and almost wound up missing it completely.


It seems the teen spent the night before his race binge-watching episodes of Brooklyn 99 with one of his teammates, and apparently he got a little bit too absorbed in Andy Samberg’s precinct hi-jinks, because the next morning, he slept through his alarm! When he did finally got out of bed, he scrambled for a quick egg sandwich and raced to the course – with his friend’s jacket, because he couldn’t find his own.

Despite his panic, Gerard managed to compose himself, absolutely crushing his final run and landing an 87.16 (out of 100) to take home the gold. Based on his, shall we say, exuberant reaction to seeing his score, the magnitude of the moment finally seemed to sink in for the 17-year-old, who became the youngest male to win Olympic gold since 1928.

It seems the win also caught NBC’s censors off-guard!

Based on what Gerard told reporters his family was up to before watching his event, he wasn’t the only one who might have had a little trouble getting to the mountain.

The 17-year-old admitted after the fact that he may have slightly underestimated the global appeal of the Olympic games.

“I just didn’t really think I knew what the Olympics is,” Gerard told Yahoo. “I kind of grew up just watching Dew Tour and X Games. I’d never really realized how big it is.”

Judging by the fact that he nearly missed his event, I’d say he was telling the truth. It’s safe to say that he knows all about them now.

Screentime: The 6 Stages Of Ready Steady Wiggle

(Wiggles Wiki)

Stage 1: Nostalgia

Your kid points up at the screen “Watch Wiggles?” she asks. “Why not?” you think, smiling to yourself. You were perhaps a little old for them when the Wiggles first appeared on TV screens, but you remember them nevertheless. The smiling faces, the brightly coloured outfits, the fun yet educational songs. What could be more wholesome?

You throw on the show. It’s just as you remember it. The faces may have changed, but the smiles haven’t. Here they all are – Red, Yellow, Blue, Purple, singing the perfect blend of the classics: “Hot Potato,” “Fruit Salad,” “Apples & Bananas,” with some new stuff thrown in. It’s like seeing your favorite band do the perfect reunion tour.


Stage 2: Confusion

Around episode 2 or 3, you start to notice something. This isn’t right. It can’t be. It’s just the same 8 or 10 song segments over and over again in different orders with short, dumb skits about the Blue Wiggle speaking in slow motion or some garbage. And there’s 52 episodes of this unwatchable hell. There’s no way it was like this when you were a kid.

Then maybe you do a little research and see that every Wiggle TV series ever, spanning over 20 years and 7 different titles, has been identical. It’s been this bad forever. This is when you start drinking.

(Youtube//The Wiggles)

Stage 3: Anger

By now you’re probably on episode 8 or 9. You’ve seen the same lip-synched video for Toot Toot, Chugga Chugga Big Red Car a minimum of 5 times. The hooky melody combines with your whisky-haze in a way that feels like seasickness. You’re starting to lose it.

This isn’t a TV show. You can’t just record an hours worth of footage, then keep re-ordering it to generate “new” “episodes.” If Game of Thrones only shot one battle per season and then just reused the footage every episode, people would riot!

The Wiggles isn’t a TV show. It’s a fucking fast food chain. Just churning out something that looks and tastes enough like the real thing. Dead-eyed employees shovelling reheated slop into a bag. They don’t care what’s in it, so long as overheads are low and you keep coming back. It’s disgusting.

(YouTube//The Wiggles)

Stage 4: Fear

You’re 20 episodes deep now, and something permeates the dark fog of booze. It’s Captain Feathersword, that irredemable bastard. He speaks to you. “Let’s Go To The Wiggle Show,” he cackles grotesquely. “Yes,” you find yourself thinking. “That sounds great.”

Suddenly you are whisked to a familiar, comfortable location. Footage from the live Wiggles show. The one bright spot in a sea of repetitious mediocrity. Sure, it’s the same old songs and all the footage in the season is from a single concert. Sure, it’s the same people doing the same dances. But suddenly, they’ve come to life. This is where the Wiggles thrive, surrounded by their fans–their devoted followers.

Then you see him, in the center of it all. The Blue Wiggle. There’s a glint in his eye. He knows something you don’t.

(YouTube//The Wiggles)

And you realize.

This isn’t a band, a TV show, or a fast food chain.

It’s a cult.

Anthony Field, the Blue Wiggle, created The Wiggles. All of this was his idea. He has been the driving force behind them for 27 years.

You pull out your phone, one eye on Anthony grinning at you from the TV, and google this demon. You begin to learn the Blue Wiggle’s dark secrets. The complete re-recording of albums to erase the existence of former bandmates. The Firing Of Moran. The punishing touring schedule. The fitness competitions. It’s all there.

The Blue Wiggle crafts everything to his whim, manufacturing an image, a brand, a message, all designed to cast a thrall over young minds. You see them all out there; the followers, dressed in the robes of their order, singing the sacred hymns along with their chosen leader.

(YouTube//The Wiggles)

Stage 5: Acceptance

But they aren’t dressed as Anthony. Even in your rye-soaked pallor you can see that the dominant color out there in the frenzied mob isn’t blue. It’s yellow. They’re not here for Him. They’re here for Her.

Emma Watkins, the Yellow Wiggle, dancing accross the stage, bow in her hair, genuine glee on her face. Everything is going to be okay.

(YouTube//The Wiggles)

You now know of Anthony’s machinations, and strongly suspect Lachy’s behind-the-scenes scheming and Simon’s blind obedience, but none of these things matter. Only the Yellow Wiggle matters. The whole sad affair is worth it for the genuine excitement and admiration on those kids’ faces. They love Emma. They love The Wiggles. And now, so do you.

(YouTube//The Wiggles)

Stage 6: Hands In The Air

Everybody clap *clap* *clap *clap*

Everybody sing, la, la, la, la, la

Bow to your partner, then you turn around, (yippie!)

Hands in the air, rock-a-bye your bear

Bear’s now asleep, sh, sh, sh


Bear’s now asleep, sh, sh, sh

(YouTube//The Wiggles)

Husband Dominates Valentine’s Day With Over-the-Top Celebrations


This is gonna make the rest of us look bad

Valentine’s Day has come and gone, but it’s not too early to start planning next year’s celebration. Especially if you want to have any shot at topping one New Mexico man’s displays of love for his wife.

Every year, Lonnie Anderson does something elaborate to express his love for his sweetheart, from gifting her with life-size candy hearts, to installing a carousel in their backyard, to actually commissioning poetry about her. This year may have been his biggest display yet, literally.

He had messages of his love projected onto the side of a building:

Anderson is well known for these ostentatious displays by now. A few years back, he gave her a box of conversation hearts that surely launched plenty of conversations, based on their size:

Another year, the aforementioned carousel showed up behind their house:

And that’s not all.

There was the time he commissioned a poem about his wife, Anne, from poet Rudolf Anaya, and then he read the poem to her at an open mic night.

And that time he got people all over the world to hold up signs professing his love for his wife:

The list goes on. He painted a mural of her name:

He threw her her very own prom where she was named Prom Queen:

Okay, Lonnie. We get it. You love your wife! Now you’re just rubbing your creativity in our faces. And there’s more!

He posted signs professing his love all over Albuquerque:

He wrote out a poem in rocks, which was big enough to be seen from the sky:

And he gave her a giant bouquet of flowers:

It’s exhausting just posting these.

I have to stop. I need to save my energy so I have enough left to prevent my wife from catching wind of this guy. I don’t need that kind of pressure!

Father Figures: Guitar-Building Macgyvers

(Joel Willis)

“The kid wanted a guitar. He asked me how to ‘build’ one, apparently unaware that guitars are for sale. But I was tired. It had been a long day. So I told him dismissively that I’d help him this weekend. So he tried to build one himself, nearly cutting his finger off trying to slice a hole in a PLAYING CARD for some reason. Inspired by his determination and my desire to avoid a trip to the ER, I found a burst of post-dinner/pre-bedtime energy and together we built this bad boy out of plywood, nails, a cardboard box, and duct tape in 20 minutes like a couple of guitar-building Macgyvers.”

Joel Willis

Want to share a story about fatherhood? Email

16 Valentine’s Day Tweets That Are Funny, Attractive, AND Have Great Personalities

(Twitter/Reverend_Scott and Unsplash/Matthew Henry)

February 14th is a complicated day. People tend to either relish the opportunity to shower their special [enter nauseating pet name here] with gifts and thoughtfulness, or spend the day ranting and raving about the dangers of commercialism and how Hallmark is hell-bent on ruining society as we know it. A special few are indifferent about the holiday, but those never seem to be the voices we hear while scrolling through the endless, opinionated vacuum that is social media.

So, to save you some time and effort, we’ve compiled a list of some of the best Valentine’s tweets out there. Some are sweet, some are kinda sad, some will probably make you swear off people for good and Google whether or not it’s legal to marry your dog…

Love is weird.

1 Finally, a use for the pink one.

2 You'll get full custody of the kids, too.

3 Business 101: Exclusivity always drives up prices.

4 He's KING of the jungle, Linda. I won't apologize for being attracted to power.

5 MYTH: All women love flowers.

6 Set the mood with some classic romantic cinema.

7 Snap into the best present I could think of.

8 In lieu of flowers, here's an existential crisis.

9 Personally, I love these cheesy holiday traditions.

10 Give her what she really wants.

11 There's plenty of one specific fish in the sea.

12 Yeah... that sounds... awful?

13 Love shouldn't come with ultimatums.

14 There are worse things than being single on February 14th.

15 Live your best life today.


16 Never lose sight of what you truly love.