Sunday, January 19, 2020

Mascot Week: Celebrity Jersey Cards Linda Cohn (With Mr. Met) & Robin Roberts (With The Phillie Phanatic)

Celebrity Jersey Cards is a regular series in which I create virtual; trading cards for celebrities wearing jerseys. To kickoff Mascot Week, we feature special Celebrity Jersey Cards with mascots.

New York native Linda Cohn is a broadcasting pioneer. In 1987, Cohn made history by becoming the first full-time U.S. female sports anchor on a national radio network when she was hired by ABC. In 2014, Cohn was named one of the 25 most influential women in sports. Cohn shares her Mascot Edition Celebrity Jersey Card with Mr. Met.
Born in Alabama, Robin Roberts rose to fame as a newscaster on ESPN. Her father was a pilot with the Tuskegee Airmen. A credible and popular broadcaster for more than 35 years, Roberts has battled myelodysplastic syndrome. Her treatment was covered on Good Morning America, earning a Peabody Award. She continues to be an inspiration. Roberts shares her Mascot Edition Celebrity Jersey Card with the Phillie Phanatic.

Saturday, January 18, 2020

Beer City Bruiser at Blizzard Brawl 2019

I don't think I am exposing any big secret in writing Matt Winchester wrestles as the Beer City Bruiser. I think that is known in and out of wrestling kayfabe.
Billed from Milwaukee, WI, Winchester debuted in 2000. He has wrestled for several companies, including Ring of Honor, where he currently wrestles. He has also wrestled for Brew City Wrestling (naturally), the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA) and others. Pro Wrestling Illustrated ranked Bruiser #318 of the top 500 wrestlers in the PWI 500 in 2017.
A few years back, Winchester was the star of a commercial for Sears. Winchester was in the ring, throwing around another wrestler who was wearing "tough" Sears clothes. Along with wrestler Paloma Starr, I was selected to play a small part of a scientist evaluating the clothing. In the end, Winchester threw the other wrestler onto Paloma and me, knocking us down, of course.
Actually, Winchester tossed out a dummy at us, knocking us down. While it wasn't a real person, the dummy was still quite heavy and actually hit me pretty hard below the belt, but I took one for the team, as a true professional (at least for one day) would.
Unfortunately, the commercial is lost. It aired for a long time on YouTube and I did download it, but a virus wiped out some of my files. Nobody involved in the commercial has a copy, although we all would love to have it. If anyone out there happens to have it, please let me know. (It's a huge longshot, but just taking a chance.)
At Great Lakes Championship Wrestling's Blizzard Brawl, I caught up with Winchester. He's doing great and still kicking butt in the ring.
You can follow him at @bcbwinchester on twitter. Also, go to ROHWrestling.com for info on their roster and events.
Matt Winchester and me in Waukesha, WI-December 2019.

Friday, January 17, 2020

AJ Mendez Brooks and More GLOW

I have written several times about AJ Lee. AJ is a former wrestler who has transcended the wrestling scene and moved into the mainstream. AJ might also be known as her real name AJ Mendez or AJ Brooks, her married name.
Growing up in a dysfunctional home, AJ suffered mental issues. AJ's life started to turn for the better when she was properly diagnosed as bipolar.
When she started her career in pro wrestling, she battled stereotypes, but refused to change. Her stance paid off, as she became a successful and popular wrestler.
After leaving wrestling, AJ wrote her autobiography Crazy is My Super Power. It is a bit of a rough read, as AJ tells of her struggles and efforts to remove the stigma from mental illness. It is a wonderful book and I thanked AJ for writing it when I met her at a National Alliance on Mental Illness event where she spoke.
AJ's latest project combines her love for comic books and her efforts to be and create a positive role model for young girls. Teaming with actress Aimee Garcia, the pair co-wrote a four part comic book series based on GLOW. In GLOW vs. The Babyface, the women created strong diverse female characters.
It's an interesting series and having AJ and Aimee aboard brings a little extra publicity to it. They aren't figurehead writers though. They dug in deep and really worked on this series. The product is great. Comics fans have greeted it warmly and the ladies are rightly proud.
The second part was recently released and is another winner. I look forward to the final two issues.
Putting a comic book on a Great Reads list is a bit unorthodox. I prefaced its inclusion by stating these were for quicker, lighter reading. I also including a comic book featuring the legendary Svengoolie, as well as a couple illustrated by my artist friend Sara Richard.
Fun reads don't have to be huge novels and you don't have to be a kid to enjoy a comic book. There is room on my bookshelf for all sorts of literature. The comic I selected all had special meaning to me. The list must be okay, because Great Reads 2019 became one of the most viewed blogs in GT history and nobody complained about the comic books.
You can follow AJ at @TheAJMendez on twitter. Check with your local comic book store for GLOW vs. The Babyface.
AJ Lee and me in Wilmette, IL-May 2019.

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Michelle Moultrie of Team USA

Born in Jacksonville, FL, Michelle Moultrie was a walk-on player at the University of Florida and went on to earn two Second Team and a First Team All-SEC honors. She was the 2012 SEC Player of the Year and a Third Team and First Team All-American in her final two years. That is quite impressive, especially for a walk-on. 
At Florida in 249 games, she hit .385 with 22 home runs, 116 rbi's, 204 runs scored and 83 stolen bases. She also had a .569 slugging percentage. She went from being a walk-on to being a legit star player. Moultrie is no longer under the radar though.
In 20011, Moultrie joined Team USA and earlier this year was named to the 2020 Summer Olympics roster. On the international stage, at the WBSC Women's World Championship, she was a gold Medalist twice and a Silver Medalist twice. She also was a four-time World Cup of Softball Gold Medalist and won a silver and a gold medal at the Pan American Games. 
In July 2020, Moultrie will take the big stage in Tokyo as Team USA goes for the Gold. It's rare that I watch the Olympics intently and even more rare that I am looking forward to the Olympics, but because I know many players from Team USA softball, I'm already anticipating it and will definitely be watching.
You can follow Team USA on the road to the 2020 Olympics at TeamUSA.org. Also, follow Michelle at @Moultrie16 on twitter.
Michelle Moultrie and me in Rosemont, IL-June 2019.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Svengoolie Meets The DC Universe

Rich Koz as Svengoolie has been entertaining fans for 40+ years. In June 1979, on WFLD-TV in Chicago, Koz began as Son of Svengoolie. Since then, he shortened his name to Svengoolie, while becoming a legendary horror host.
Late last year, Koz and Sven crossed over into the DC Universe. Svengoolie Meets the DC Universe is a series of custom inserts featured in DC comic books. The two-page chapters were written by DC Comics co-publisher and Svengoolie superfan Dan DiDio, with an assist from Svengoolie himself, plus art by Christopher Jones. They have been selling quickly in all comic book stores. I picked up my copies at Aw Yeah Comics in Skokie, IL.
As big of a treat this is for Sven fans and comic fans alike, it is also very exciting for Koz. A big fan of comics, Koz was happy and flattered to be interacting with the characters in the DC Universe.
This isn't Koz's first foray into comics. Previously featured in MAD Magazine, Koz cites the commonalities of his audience and comic fans.
Go to Svengoolie.com for more info on the comic books and all other Sven-related stuff. Hopefully, you will meet him someday, because he is such a treat in person.
Svengoolie and me in Chicago, IL-March 2019.

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Michael Rooker at Wizard World St. Louis 2017

Michael Rooker was born in Alabama, but moved to Chicago in his early teens.  He talked about Chicago in the interview I did with him at Wizard World in Chicago 2015.  That interview can be found at On the Beat with Michael Rooker.
Rooker was hugely popular at that Wizard World and not just because it was in Chicago.  His resume is lengthy, but his stint on The Walking Dead made him incredibly in-demand at the convention.  That's what happens when you have a successful actor and a ridiculously popular series.
A year and a half later, I met Rooker again at Wizard World, but this time it was in St. Louis and Rooker was as popular aas ever.  Fortunately, as a media person, I got some extra access, because his lines were very long.  Despite the long lines, his fans left very happy.  That's what happens when you have a popular celebrity who makes each short visit special for the fan.
In St. Louis, we talked about Wizard World, Chicago and even a little real estate.  During the press session, he even got one member of the press (not me) to demonstrate "The Twist" while he sang it.  That was a blast.  You don't see that too often from celebrities.
He's a great guy, a great guest.  I look forward to seeing Rooker again at a future con.
The next Wizard World is in Portland January 24-26. For more info, go to WizardWorld.com.
Michael Rooker and me in St. Louis, MO-April 2017.

Monday, January 13, 2020

Happy Birthday Scott

I will poke and compete with Scott Parker almost any day, but today is his birthday and I'll give him his props.
It's hard to believe all of the fun we've had over all the years. It's even hard to believe how many years it's been. It's over 36 years now.
My brother-in-law by title, Scott is much more like my brother. He has helped me and supported me in far too many ways to list. He wouldn't keep score anyway, but I am forever grateful for everything. Mostly, I am just grateful for his friendship.
Despite beinga White Sox fan, Scott enjoyed the Cubs World Series run of 2016. Scott, Jean and I watched an exciting playoff game in Las Vegas and Scott was cheering for the Cubs (as odd and disturbing as that was).
Scott (and Jean) have played host so many times in Florida and Michigan. They always make everyone feel welcome, but one of the real highlights is Scott's grilling. Grillmaster Pork has quite a way around the grill. My mouth waters just thinking about his meals.
I am sure he will be celebrating in Florida (and I am so jealous as I freeze in Chicago), but I toast him from here. Happy birthday Pork! Enjoy your day!
Scott, Jean and me in Florida-February 2018.

Sunday, January 12, 2020

Friend Encounters: Lee Majors and Troy Babbs

Friend Encounters is a weekly series in which I feature friends who have met celebrities.

I met Troy Babbs through the convention scene. Sometimes he volunteers at them, sometimes he is just an attendee and he has even joined the Johngy's Beat crew a few times. Either way, it is always great seeing Troy and I always have fun around him.
I don't see Troy very often, but I always look forward t it.He's simply a quality person> He is one of many awesome people I have met through conventions, but he is one of the best! Everyone loves this guy and I have never heard a bad word about him.
Troy gets excited meeting celebrities, as do we all. He gets the unique perspective from working some of their tables, too. Of course, they also get the "Troy Babbs Experience" and that is priceless.
I am reasonably sure I will see Troy at the Squared Circle Expo coming to Indianapolis in May.
Troy had the pleasure of meeting Lee Majors (or did Majors have the pleasure of meeting Troy) a few years ago. I have yet to meet the "Six Million Dollar Man" and I am envious of Troy on this one. We'll see who we both meet at the Squared Circle Expo.
Go to Squared Circle Expo on Facebook to get all of the info. If you see Troy there, tell him I sent you.
Lee Majors and Troy Babbs in Lexington, KY-March 2017.

Saturday, January 11, 2020

Celebrity Jersey Cards #652 Olivia Culpo & Jim Cramer

Celebrity Jersey Cards is a regular series in which I create virtual; trading cards for celebrities wearing jerseys. Today we salute two teams bounced from the NFL playoffs last weekend.

Olivia Culpo was Miss Rhode Island, Miss USA and Miss Universe. She has gone on to become a media personality. She also has gone on to date several stars, including Tim Tebow and Danny Amendola. I believe her Celebrity Jersey Card is from her time with Amendola, but one wonders why she is wearing Tom Brady's #12 and not Amendola's 80.
Born in a Philadelphia suburb, Jim Cramer is a television personality, author, financial adviser and an Eagles fan. He is a season ticketholder of more than 20 years. His highlight was when the Eagles won the Super Bowl in 1988. He wore a DeMarco Murray jersey on his show to merit the Celebrity Jersey Card, but methinks he needs a new one, since Murray is no longer with the team/

Friday, January 10, 2020

Sara Richard and the Royal Book of Oz

As I usually do, I wrote an online piece for Global Traveler magazine reviewing my favorite books I read last year. That piece can be found at Great Reads 2019.
One of the books I listed was The Royal Book of Oz. Originally printed in 1921, The Royal Book of Oz is the fifteenth book in the Oz series and the first written by Ruth Plumly Thompson. It was originally thought to be written by Oz creator L. Frank Baum. Years later, it was discovered to be the work of Thompson.
The newest edition features updated, all-new illustrations by Eisner Award-nominated artist Sara Richard. The Royal Book of Oz is 272 pages of entertainment following the Scarecrow’s search for his family tree, highlighted by beautiful and whimsical illustrations by Sara.

I have featured Sara here many times over the years. I am a huge fan of her work and am proud to call her a friend. Sara is extremely talented and if you follow her on social media, you will see she is also one of the coolest people.
I have ordered The Royal Book of Oz and I look forward to diving into it. I can't wait to see what cook illustrations Sara has created.
You can get this book by going to the Kickstarter page for The Royal Book of Oz. You can also get more info on the book and Sara at SaraRichard.com.
Sara Richard and me in Novi, MI-May 2015.