Cut and Run

Chad Crowe

Everyone wants to get into show business, but not everyone's willing to go the John Wayne Bobbitt route. Houstonian Rene Aramando Nunez is not just anybody, however.

Earlier this month Nunez followed the Bobbitt plan closely: Get involved with an (allegedly) kinda temperamental gal. Have love go sour. Get your dick cut off.

Alas, Nunez failed to adhere to the most important guideline: Make sure you know where the severed penis went. Nunez's estranged girlfriend, who allegedly performed the emergency circumcision, told HPD that she threw the willy onto her porch, where a dog ran off with it. (Any guys reading this, you are now free to uncross your legs.)

Still, Bobbitt turned a truncated johnson into a brief porn career with such films as Frankenpenis. Does Nunez have the same shot?

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We turned to an expert, the editor of Adult Video News, a man named Tim Connelly who is no relation to the writer of this column, for better or worse.

Unfortunately, he is skeptical of Nunez's chances for a future in porn. Without that missing 80 percent of the penis, it seems the world of wankers is uninterested.

And don't bother looking for the dog, either. "Oh, it's too late now," Connelly says. "If they haven't gotten it by now, it's done."

He says Nunez wasn't completely blocked from following Bobbitt's career, however. Getting your penis cut off apparently opens a cornucopia of job opportunities.

"Maybe he could do what Bobbitt did," Connelly says. "He said he wanted to be an EMT. He ended up working at a whorehouse for a while. He was a bouncer."

The man who could most help Nunez -- Bobbitt himself -- could not be tracked down. Maybe he's out searching for that dog.

'Sup, Dog?

Speaking of dogs, animal rescue people in Houston are trying to get the word out: If you are overwhelmed by a misbehaving dog or a large litter of pups, don't just give the pets away. Sell them. Forget about all this "free to a good home" crap.

Is this some new Age of Greed brought on by the Bush Mandate? No. It's for the good of the dogs.

There apparently are people out there acting like they just love your little pets, oohing and ahhing at them and spewing baby talk -- until they get them in the car. Then they'll drive the dogs to the nearest research lab that will pay good money for subjects, or the nearest dogfighting operation, where people will pay for the animals to serve as hapless sparring partners for pit bulls.

And even if the folks taking little Fido aren't as evil as all that, they still may end up causing harm. People may take a dog on impulse without thinking through the upkeep costs.

The answer is to charge a fee. "What we get free, we don't value," says Rose Cooksey of Twyla's Friends, a nonprofit rescue group in Kingwood.

Charging also tends to discourage the suppliers of research labs and dogfighting operations, cutting down on their profit margins.

So, hey -- you can actually make money while doing a work of charity. If only Mother Teresa had thought of that.

Ward, It's About Beaver

It had the potential to be on the great legal footnotes of all time.

Attorneys Brian Wice and Stanley Schneider are appealing the conviction of Susan Wright, the Houston woman who stabbed her husband 200 times and buried him in her backyard, by which time he was her ex-husband. Wright's trial featured prosecutor Kelly Siegler dragging into the courtroom the bed where the stabbing took place, hog-tying a colleague to it and reenacting the supposed events in front of the jury.

The bizarre performance fell under the somewhat obscure legal umbrella of "Only in Texas, Man," and it's a key part of Wright's appeal.

That appeal originally included the following footnote (legal citations omitted): "Not surprisingly, the State sought to paint Ms. Wright's marriage as 'perfect,' a latter-day version of Ozzie and Harriet and Leave It To Beaver. But Ozzie Nelson and Ward Cleaver never snorted cocaine…[or] smoked crack, smoked marijuana, cultivated marijuana, attempted to buy Ecstasy from teenagers, frequented topless bars, assaulted a topless dancer, had a menage a trois with two topless dancers…beat his dog…had a master-slave relationship with Ms. Wright…and urinated on Ms. Wright and their small daughter."

Well, we're pretty sure Ward never pissed on Ms. Wright, at any rate.

While the lawyers kept the list of husbandly misdeeds in, they didn't set it up by saying Ozzie and Ward would never, ever do such things. Extensive legal research revealed, unfortunately, that the two TV dads actually were quite the swingers.  

Not really. "I was just concerned," Wice says, "that I had a generation of jurists who remember Ozzie and Ward, and I didn't want them having the image of Ozzie and Ward committing these unconscionable, despicable acts."

Come on, that's a great mental image -- Ward in bondage gear with two strippers, peeing on June?

Lawyers. No fun at all.

Elephant in the Room

Anyone out on the dating scene spends some time thinking about herpes. If you have it, you face the dilemma of just when in a budding relationship you should bring it up. (Not to mention how.) If you don't have it, you're checking every cold sore on your partner and wondering.

But at least it's not fatal, right? As long as you're not an elephant.

Kimba, a 13-year-old Asian elephant at the Houston Zoo, died September 6. Autopsy results have finally come back, and they indicate she died of…elephant herpes. Now the zoo is keeping close watch on the other elephants, looking to see if the disease spread.

"This thing is one of the most puzzling, confounding and frustrating diseases in animals that anyone has ever identified," says zoo spokesman Brian Hill. "We don't know how it is spread. We don't know how it got into the population."

It's these kids today with their loose morals, we're sure. At any rate, how do you look for elephant herpes? Just how big can a cold sore get?

"One of the first clues is a purplish tongue, because this virus attacks the body's blood vessels," Hill says. And they look for changes in behavior, too -- just like people, elephants can get pissed and annoyed if they get herpes, although we assume they don't make drunken late-night phone calls berating former paramours.

Handlers "ask the elephants to do other behaviors that will show the keeper 'Is this animal alert? Is this animal possibly depressed?' " Hill says. "Elephants are very intelligent animals and, yes, they can experience depression."

So elephant herpes is bad. "People herpes will not kill people," Hill says. "It may make them wish they were dead, but it will not kill them, as far as I know. And I have to qualify that because I'm not a doctor, and I don't even play one on TV."

A Baseball Factory

On October 18, much of America was clicking back and forth between the Yankees-Red Sox game and the Astros-Cards game. And at one point that night, folks at one small area college were hooting and hollering even though there wasn't a play going on.

Ace reliever Kevin Foulke took the mound for the Sox in the eighth inning. Just as he was doing so, the Astros' Brandon Backe left the dugout to continue his sterling pitching for Drayton's boys.

Big deal, right? Well, it was a big deal at Galveston College, a small school that has had a baseball program for only a dozen years. Both Foulke and Backe played for the Whitecaps, Foulke in 1992 and 1993, Backe in 1998.

Dominating the national baseball stage, even for a night, is pretty impressive for a school with an enrollment of about 2,700. None of the coaches of the two players is still around, but Joe Huff III, the college's director of public affairs, says the school plans to honor the former Whitecaps.

Backe will get a parade on the Strand and the school will retire his number; Foulke will…ummmm…get invited to a February "Breakfast of Champions." We guess it helps to be an Astro.

Foulke, by the way, notably displayed his Texas pride during the World Series run, where close-ups constantly caught the state flag stitched onto his glove.

Was this a silent tribute to his alma mater on Avenue Q? Apparently not. "He's just a big Texas guy," Foulke's agent says.

Mock the Vote, Part One

The eyes of a nation were on the key swing state of Texas November 2, eager to see just which way Lone Star voters would go.

Actually, of course, the voting held about as much suspense as a re-election of Vladimir Putin. But that didn't mean there wasn't the opportunity for some festive Election Day high jinks.

At St. Philip Neri Catholic Church near Hobby Airport, for instance, a near-blind African-American woman named Ethel Copeland wanted to have her daughter's assistance in the booth. A poll worker said no.

Copeland fumbled her way through the ballot and left; on the way out she told her tale to a poll-watching group called Election Protection 2004. An attorney with the group, Angela Williams, complained to Precinct 132 Judge James Burks.  

Burks told Williams to leave him alone. "He says, 'There will be somebody else here you can speak to,' " she says.

And Burks was true to his word. A few minutes later, five police cars rolled up. Including a K-9 unit. "It was just another form of intimidation," Williams says.

Apparently do-gooders like Williams don't even consider the possibility that the police were there to help. To provide a cordon of security around the booth as someone like Copeland did her civic duty. And if you ask us, providing a service dog shows just how thoughtful the government can be.

Attorney Williams says that the extra-mile customer-service that Burks offered to Copeland wasn't unusual for him -- he went out of his way to help lots of voters. At least five people told the watchdog group Burks refused to let them cast provisional ballots.

Federal law mandates that people who don't show up on a precinct's voters list be allowed to cast provisional ballots, which may or may not end up being counted.

But a sensitive precinct judge like Burks would never want to give voters false hopes, to let people think they had participated in an election when actually there was a chance they had not. Better to let them know up front they're wasting their time.

Burks could not be reached for comment. He was probably busy getting fitted for his annual holiday-season Ebenezer Scrooge costume.

Mock the Vote, Part Two

A guy like Burks had a lot of fun on Election Day, but he wasn't alone. And he wasn't styling like Charles Vilven, an alternative precinct judge at the Moody Park Recreation Center.

Vilven sported a blue panama shirt, yellow-tinted glasses and a slicked-back yellow-gray pompadour. Not to mention a bad attitude, according to voters. (When someone noted the lack of voters Election Day morning, resident Irene Ragsdale says, Vilven proclaimed, "Well, that's because Mexicans don't get up until noon.")

Redistricting meant some longtime Moody Park voters had to vote in different precincts this year. Like Rosie Sanchez, who asked Vilven where she needed to go to cast her ballot. "It was like, 'Tough, just go figure it out for yourself,' " she says of Vilven. "I was furious and I walked out, and I think I even called them a bunch of Republicans."

Harsh words indeed.

Vilven said workers were too busy to look up voting places. (It must've been after noon.) He denied the charges of racism and offered this philosophy of dealing with the public: "I'm not going to bend over and kiss anybody's ass, but I'm not going to disrespect them or anything."

At least he didn't call out the K-9 squad.

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