Monday, September 1, 2014

Friendly Encounters: Sherry Garrity and Sugar Dunkerton

This is a weekly series about friends who have met celebrities.

This Friendly Encounter represents the Chicago Bliss and Resistance Pro, two of my favorite organizations.   I am proud to say I had a little something in putting these two groups together.
Pictured there is Sherry Garrity, the media liaison with the Bliss.  Sherry's duties and importance go way beyond that title though.  Sherry has made my press credentialization very easy this season.  It has been a pleasure working with her.
Sug D, Sugar Dunkerton, Special D, Dark Chocolate or whatever he is calling himself these days is one of the most entertaining wrestlers at RPro.  He is always good for a laugh (especially in those unique pants), but he is also deadly serious in the ring.  Sug has a bright future.  He will hold RPro gold of some sort at some point.
The two met at an RPro event, one of several where the Bliss made their presence felt.  The Bliss-RPro partnership has produced many fun moments.  The picture below is a good representation of those moments.
Sugar Dunkerton and Sherry Garrity in Willowbrook, IL-May 2014.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

On the Beat with Matthew Mossotti at Wizard World 2014

I owe my Resistance Pro friend Sheri Shaw for today's feature.  Prior to attending Wizard World 2014 in Chicago, Sheri told me about Matthew Mossotti and I was very intrigued.
According to his website, Mossotti is a philosopher and developer of creative media.  That seems deep and intriguing.  Once I started talking to him at his booth, I realized how accurate it is.
Mossotti is a fascinating guy.  He is the creative force behind the SpeciMen Trilogy, a graphic novel series.  Listening to Mossotti explain the concept of SpeciMen captivated me.  I was hooked immediately.
According to the SpeciMen Trilogy Facebook page, the SpeciMen Trilogy is "A ‘Star Wars meets The Matrix’ action-adventure, a complex tapestry of global intrigue, cutting-edge physics, ancient mythologies, & sacred scriptures."  Clearly this isn't your average graphic novel.
Mossotti discussed philosophy, religion, politics, events and much more when explaining SpeciMen to me.  The knowledge and research alone which was put into the series blows my mind.  Mossotti did not just write some fantasy joy-ride series.  This is thought-provoking, to say the very least.
I really want to keep up with the developments of this series.  I plan on following Mossotti and the SpeciMen Trilogy updates going forward.  I hope to have the chance to interview him again for more updates and info.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Celebrity Jersey Cards #187 Bill Gates & Ted Turner

This is a regular series which attempts to combine my lifelong passion for baseball cards with my semi-professional interest in celebrities.  Today, I feature a business twofer.

Seattle native Bill Gates is an undeniable success.  He has made a huge impact on business, technology and more.  Books have been written about him and by him.  I applaud Gates for staying true to his roots on his Celebrity Jersey Card.  I do not applaud the rest of his ensemble however.
Ted Turner made an impact on business, baseball, wrestling and more.  For his Celebrity Jersey Card, he is seen wearing the #27.  In a CJC rarity, this was actually his number for his one day tenure as manager of the Atlanta Braves.  In 1977, Turner was disgusted with the performance of his Braves.  He fired the manager and took over the club.  The Braves lost his only game at the helm.  Commissioner Bowie Kuhn ruled that a team's owner could not manage the team and Turner's time in uniform was done.  Still, it makes for an interesting card and story.

Friday, August 29, 2014

On the Beat with Kristen Butler of the Chicago Bandits

The season is over for the Chicago Bandits, but and Justin's World of Softball will continue to run our series of interviews with the team.  Today, I am featuring Kristen Butler.  Justin's take can be found at Kristen Butler Interview on Justin's World.
A catcher by trade, she was the 2006 SEC Player of the Year while at Florida.  Butler played four seasons with the Akron Racers, before taking off a couple years.  She rejoined the National Fast Pitch with the Bandits in 2012.
Butler accepted the position as the Head Coach at Toledo, thus ending her NPF playing career.  It is always sad to see someone like Butler go.  She is as talented as she is classy.  We certainly wish her well in her new position.  Hopefully, our paths will cross again and we can get an update from her.
For now, we hope you enjoy our interview with her, which can be found at Kristen Butler Interview on YouTube.
Kristen Butler and me in Rosemont, IL-July 2014.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

On the Beat with Tommy Else (The Madame Zuzu's Aftermath)

A couple weeks ago, a group of my friends watched our mutual friend Tommy Else live out his unimaginable dream. Tommy played an acoustic set at Madame ZuZu’s Tea Shop in Highland Park, Ill. Also in attendance was Billy Corgan, owner/operator of Zuzu’s, frontman for the Smashing Pumpkins and Tommy’s musical idol.  I wrote about the night in an online piece for Global Traveler magazine at A Night of Good Music and Good Friends.
I had interviewed Tommy before the show to get his pre-show thoughts.  That interview can be found at On the Beat with Tommy Else.  Last Saturday, I spoke to Tommy about that night, to get his post-show thoughts.  That interview is below.
Tommy's performance impressed all of us.  We knew that Tommy dabbled in music, but we had no idea how good he really was.
I am quite sure Tommy was nervous about the night.  It was his first public performance in a long time (other than random karaoke nights).  He was performing in front of his idol, Billy Corgan, at Billy's invitation.  I applaud Tommy for just having the guts to do this, let alone do it so well.
Tommy is a great guy and we were all so happy tat he got this opportunity.  This is beyond bucket list stuff.  Five years ago, Tommy would never even have dreamed of this possibility.  Yet, there he was weaving flawlessly through a two hour set of beautiful music.  It truly was a magical night and I am happy and proud to have been there.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Maybe Mabry

My friends feared there might be trouble when I got press credentials for a St. Louis Cardinals game last season.  They knew that John Mabry, my longtime favorite, was a coach for the Cardinals.  Could I possibly contain myself?
I admit, I kind of staked out Mabry on the field and was determined to get some sort of interview.  I eventually succeeded and the interview can be found at On the Beat with John Mabry.
Mabry had it all to be a Johngy favorite.  He was versatile (having played 6 positions, including pitcher twice).  He played for 8 teams, but most importantly he played briefly for the Cubs.  He also had three stints with the Cardinals.  This was my kind of player.
I am never guaranteed an interview, no matter how determined I am.  The boys wanted to have some fun and make sure I got a picture with him.  The result is below.
Okay, it isn't exactly a picture with him (but it is closer than I thought I would get years ago).  Best of all, I did not do anything embarrassing or get kicked off the field.
John Mabry and me in St. Louis, MO-Summer 2013.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

On the Beat with Manager Shane Winkler of the Chicago Bandits

The Johngy's Beat-Justin's World joint coverage of the Chicago Bandits continues today with Manager Shane Winkler.  This is an interview I did not want to see happen.  It is the season wrap and therefore it meant that the regular season was over.
Winkler lead the Bandits to 2nd place with a 30-18 record.  The USSSA Pride finished in 1st with a 33-15 record.  The Bandits met the AkronRacers in the playoffs and unfortunately lost the best of three series.
It was a great season of watching the Bandits.  Winkler was very professional and friendly to us.  I really enjoyed this season and look forward to next season.
We will have several more interviews with the Bandits in the near future.  We were fortunate enough to talk to every player and we will run all of those interviews here.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Friendly Encounters: Mike Cichowicz and Rod Stewart

This is a weekly series about friends who have met celebrities.

This is juts a really cool, old school Friendly Encounters.  It is somewhere around 30 years old, but the star is one of the biggest I have ever featured here.
I met Mike Cichowicz many years ago at AU Sports and Memorabilia   Back then, I had no idea the jersey-wearing sports nut was an excellent musician.  In fact, Mike had played with many of the greatest all over the music scene.
When I was growing up, Rod Stewart was pretty darn cool.  I am sure Mike had a lot of fun hanging with Rod and his buds.  At least in thee picture below, it looks like they are having fun.  I am pretty sure laying on a beach with Rod and his band would be guaranteed fun.
Mike has also put together a book series on Vincent Cichowicz (his father) with Mark Dulin.  The series covers the elder Cichowicz's trumpet teaching materials.  You can get more info on Vincent Cichowicz at Balquhidder Music.
Michael Cichowicz, Rod Stewart and the band in Switzerland-Around 1986.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

On the Beat with James Finn Garner and Paul Erickson at Wizard World 2014

I first met James Finn Garner and Paul Erickson separately last year.  Both did interviews with and I have followed them since.  A few weeks ago, Erickson told me he would be at Wizard World in Rosemont and that he would be sharing a booth with Garner.  I was excited about revisiting each.
I don't usually like to interview two people together, especially when they are not totally connected professionally.  After talking informally to both, we all decided it would make sense and be fun to do this twofer.
Jame Finn Garner is a New York Times best-selling author.  His clown noir book series featuring Rex Koko fascinated me.  I am not just giving lip-service either.  I bought the first two books in the series from Garner and I can't wait to dive into them.
Erickson is the best Tolkien parodist.  His passion (and humor) is evident as he is usually in costume at these conventions.  My nephew Matt bought his books last year and this time, I purchased the first book, The Wobbit A Parody (of Tolkien's The Hobbit).
I had a blast seeing and talking to these guys again.  I encourage everyone to check out their works after you watch the interview below.
This is one of the cool things about the comic con circuit.  I get to reconnect with people like Garner and Erickson.  Each time we get to know each other a little better (that's a scary thought for them).
I appreciate Wizard World granting me the opportunity and I thank Garner and Erickson for their time and consideration.  Check them out.  They are really interesting guys!

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Celebrity Jersey Cards #186 Bill Cosby & Roger Waters

This is a regular series which attempts to combine my lifelong interest in baseball cards with my semi-professional interest in celebrities.  The Philadelphia Phillies and the Boston Red Sox find themselves in unfamiliar territory of late.  I don't really feel bad for them, but it was a good time to feature them.

Comic legend Bill Cosby was born and raised in Philadelphia, yet he appears in a Red Sox uniform on his Celebrity Jersey Card.  Nobody can question Cosby though.  The man has broken barriers and set his own course for decades.  He is a Hall of Fame performer.
Roger Waters is a native of England.  Not to second guess my Cosby comments, but maybe these two should have switched uniforms.  Anyway, Waters is a Hall of Fame musician.  On his Celebrity Jersey Card, he is repping #10, which for that era jersey would probably be Darren Daulton, although I listed him as a shortstop, in honor of another #10, Larry Bowa.