Saturday, February 17, 2018

The 2018 Chicago Auto Show

Last week, I had a great time covering the 2018 Chicago Auto Show.  I openly admit that I am not a car guy, but I couldn't help but get into it because of the over 1,000 vehicles on display on the 1 million square feet of floor space, as well as all of the other attractions.  My report appeared online for Global Traveler at The 2018 Chicago Auto Show.
As you know by now, I am a bit of a star chaser and I got to talk to many stars at the show.  Chicago Blackhawks Hall of Famer Bobby Hull, Blackhawks legend Eddie Olczyk, Chicago Bears receiver Dontrelle Inman, WSCR sports radio's Mike Esposito, Steve Rosenblum and Matt Spiegel, many broadcasters from the ABC 7 news team and Chicago Cubs mascot Clark were just some of the interesting people there.
One last person I need to mention is John Hennessy.  Hennessy is the Chairman of the 2018 Chicago Auto Show.  I ran into him by accident, although I had wanted to meet him.  I was hanging out by the WSCR booth as they were doing a live broadcast and suddenly Hennessy appeared to do a segment on air.  That was a case of great timing.
After his bit was over, I introduced myself and thanked him for granting me access to the event.  I always try to thank the appropriate people.  I don't take press credentials for granted and I want the organizers to know that I appreciate the opportunity.
We talked for a few minutes about Global Traveler magazine, travel in general, the show and Chicago sports.  Obviously, Hennessy was really busy during the show, but he took the time to talk to me.  He was even patient as I fumbled trying to get a selfie with him.  I need to work on my selfie skills.
The 2018 Chicago Auto Show runs through Monday, February 19.  I hope o add a few more celebrities and memories to my experience.  For my first time covering this event, I got so much done and had a fantastic time.  I even checked out a few cars!
John Hennessy and me in Chicago IL-February 2018.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Still Missing Christy Hemme

There was a time when I would see Christy Hemme at least a couple times a year.  I had the pleasure of interviewing her a few times, too.  Unfortunately, I haven't seen her in a few years.
Christy was a wrestler and ring announcer.  She was unique among the beauties in the sport.  She had a great look, charisma and talent.  She also has dabbled in the music industry.
Christy had a baby in 2015 and in September of 2016, she announced she was expecting quadruplets.  While I certainly am happy for Christy and her husband, five infants does not bode well for Christy making appearances in the near future.
Christy was always very cool with me.  She was always good for a laugh and some fun chitchat.  I always looked forward to seeing her.  Last year, I listed Christy among my top ten of people I wanted to see again and she remains on that list and will stay there until we do meet again.
For now, I will have to be content watching the Johngy promo she did for me.  That can be seen in the left hand column.  It was one of the best and most excited promos I've ever gotten.  Of course it was.  It was from Christy!
Christy Hemme and me in Novi, MI-May 2009.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Cards That Never Were: Jack Marin 1977-78 Topps

Cards That Never Were is a recurring series in which I create virtual trading cards for players missed in various sets.  It is a concept I have borrowed from too many others to mention, but I appreciate all of their efforts.
Jack Marin was selected fifth overall by the Baltimore Bullets in the 1966 NBA Draft.  He made his debut in the 1966-67 season and stayed with the Bullets through the 1971-72 season.  He spent a season and a half in Houston before joining the Buffalo Braves (now the Los Angeles Clippers).  He played with the Braves until early in the 1975-76 season when he joined my beloved Chicago Bulls.  He finished that season and played one more, before retiring after the 1976-77 season.
Marin appeared on his first Topps card in their 1969-70 set.  He got a card in every set through the 1976-77 set.  The first two misses are hard to correct.  Coverage of the NBA back then was scarce.  I did find a couple nice pictures for Marin's "career capper" 1977-78 card with the Bulls.  I don't usually create 2 cards from the same set, but I liked both of these images and Marin was one of my favorites.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Jonathan LaMantia at C2E2 2017

Jonathan LaMantia is another of my regular stops at comic cons.  Based out of Chicago, LaMantia does "mostly drawings of monsters."
The Freddy exclusive he did for the New York Comic Con a few years back is one of my favorite works of his.  It is creative, colorful, frightening and amusing.  It is just a beautiful piece.

Of course, LaMantia has created many other great pieces, too.  He has worked with full color and b/w and all of them are impressive.  Staying true to his own description as stated above, most of his creations involve monsters of some sort.
One of his creations that does not involve monsters is his version of a safety pin.  He drew the safety pin to support those who feel unsafe.  In his words, "I will do my best to provide a safe space to anyone who is in need- I will not stand idly by while acts of hate are being committed- I am here to make a difference."  It's a simple drawing, yet a powerful statement.
As much as I applaud LaMantia's artwork, I really salute his character.  By joining #safety pin, making his voice heard and donating to the ACLU, LaMantia is making a difference. 
Check out for more info, including a gallery of his work, updates and his convention calendar.  Also, follow Jonathan LaMantia on Facebook.  
Jonathan LaMantia and me in Chicago, IL-April 2017.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Friendly Encounters: Kristen and Bobby Brown

Friendly Encounters is a weekly series featuring friends who have met celebrities.

Once again, I am bending the rules of Friendly Encounters to cover family ties.  I'll do anything to give more exposure to the Chicago Bandits.
A native of New York, Kristen Brown was a star softball player at North Carolina.  Upon graduation, she was drafted by the Bandits in 2016.  In her rookie season, she hit .225 with 5 home runs, 11 rbi's and 7 runs scored.  She had the distinction of making the catch for the final out as the Bandits won the NPF title last season.
Earlier this season, her father Bobby introduced himself to me and thanked me for my coverage of the team.  That was so very nice of him to do.  I had the pleasure of talking to him several times since then and I always enjoy chatting, even though he is a fan of the hated New York Mets.  I can't blame him for staying loyal to his hometown team though.  As long as he continues to cheer for the Bandits, all is good from my pint of view.
It's always nice meeting the family of players.  It makes everything a bit more of a personal and special experience.
I thank Kristen for her contributions to the Bandits and for having time for our interviews.  I also thank Bobby for his kindness and humor.
Bobby and Kristen Brown in New York, NY-October 2016.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Happy Birthday Jason Fleigel

Today, I feature my friend Jason, who is celebrating his birthday.  The picture below is fitting because he has become quite the family man and I couldn't be happier for him.
We have kidded Jason for years about his anger issues.  Perhaps it was just wild youth not corralled.  I do know that he seems so relaxed and happy these days and I give all credit to his lovely bride Heather and their adorable little Cassie.
Jason is a good guy and a great friend.  I've known him for about 23 years and we have had many great times.  I look forward to many more fun times with Jason and to seeing little Cassie grow.
Happy birthday, JayHawk.  Celebrate with your beautiful family and know I am toasting you from afar today!
Heather, Cassie, Jason and me in Rosemont, IL-August 2017.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Sam Huntington at MCCC 2011

At the Motor City Comic Con 2011, I really wanted to meet actor Sam Huntington.  I first knew him from Detroit Rock City, in which he played a member of a Kiss tribute band who were trying to meet their idols.  As a long-time Kiss fan, I loved that movie.
Doing a little pre-event research, I learned that Huntington's great-uncle was the legendary actor Ralph Bellamy.  Also, Huntington's mother owned and operated the Black Box Theatre, where he started his acting career.
I wanted to talk to Huntington about all of these things.  Fortunately, he was totally cool when we met him.  Most people wanted to talk to him about his appearances in Superman Returns (and the Superman Returns video game), Rosewood, Psych: The Movie and other more recent popular projects.
Detroit Rock City has become a bit of a cult classic.  I compare it to Rock 'n' Roll High School, starring PJ Soles and the Ramones.  I love these movies.
Huntington eagerly talked about the movie.  Born in 1982, Huntington might have missed Kiss in their prime, but he appreciates their place in rock and roll history and he loved being in the movie.
I love the picture of Jason and me with him.  It looks like three buddies hanging out on the convention floor.  Actually, that is what it felt like.  Huntington was relaxed and friendly and treated us like old friends.  It was a very nice experience.  He seemed like a really great guy.
Check out for more info and news.  You can also follow Sam Huntington on twitter.
Sam Huntington, Jason Fleigel and me in Novi, MI-May 2011.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Celebrity Jersey Cards #361: Mascot Week: The Chicken & Hubert

Celebrity Jersey Cards is a weekly series in which I create virtual trading cards for celebrities wearing sports jerseys.  Today, we have a special Mascot Week edition.

The Chicken originated on an animated TV commercial for KGB-FM Radio in San Diego, CA.  When they wanted a live version, Ted Giannoulas was hired to wear the first chicken suit.  He originally appeared at the San Diego Padres games, but quickly became famous, even appearing on actual baseball cards in the Donruss sets of 1982-'84.  His Celebrity Jersey Card features a rare shot of him wearing an actual jersey, although still representing San Diego.
Hubert the Lion (or the Harris Bank Lion) was created for an ad campaign.  Like the Chicken, Hubert became fanous beyond the ad.  Hubert never appeared on a real trading card, but he did have stuffed toys made in his likeness.  Hubert's Celebrity Jersey Card stems from an appearance at a Rockford IceHogs game.

Friday, February 9, 2018

Mascot Week: Tessie of the Boston Red Sox

In 2016, Tessie joined her older brother Wally the Green Monster, as the Boston Red Sox added a new mascot.  "Tessie" has a fascinating history.
The original version of "Tessie (You Are the Only, Only, Only)" was written by Will R. Anderson and was  in the Broadway musical The Silver Slipper, which ran in 1902-03.. The song was about a woman singing to "Tessie," her beloved parakeet.
A bunch of loyal Red Sox fans, known as the Royal Rooters, adopted the song as a rallying cry for their beloved team.  It is said that in the 1903 World Series, with the Red Sox down 3-1 (in a best of 9 series) to the Pittsburgh Pirates.  The Royal Rooters sung Tessie as the Red Sox came roaring back and won 4 straight to take the series.
The Royal Rooters stopped singing in 1918.  The Red Sox won the World Series in 1918, then went 86 years without a winning another one.
in 2004, intending to bring back the spirit of the Royal Rooters and to get the Red Sox back on the winning track,  the Boston-area celtic punk group Dropkick Murphys recorded a cover of "Tessie,"  In true Hollywood fashion, the Red Sox won the World Series that year, ending the 86 year drought.
"Tessie" is featured in the movie Fever Pitch and was also on the DVD of the 2004 Red Sox season.  It is one of a few songs played after every Red Sox win.
I never knew there was another mascot for the Red Sox, let alone the great history behind it.  I just saw the mascot at a Spring Training game last year and got the picture.
On another note, Tessie has to be one of only a few female mascots.  I have no idea how many there actually are, but I can't think of any off the top of my head.  Even Tessie was only added as a counterpart to an existing male mascot.
Tessie and me in Fort Myers, FL-March 2017.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Mascot Week: T.C. Bear of the Minnesota Twins

T.C. Bear was born in 1991 in Bear River, MN and currently resides in White Bear Lake, MN.  He signed as a free agent with the Twins in April of 2000 and has been their mascot since.  His pre-game meal is said to include "Twins Dogs, fresh fish, and the occasional pot o' honey."  Some of that bio sounds a bit sketchy, but I'll go with it.
I met T.C. (which stands for Twin Cities).at Spring Training last year.  It's one thing being a mascot at Target Field in Minneapolis, but it's completely different baking in the sun in Fort Myers.  Still, T.C. was out there all day greeting fans and spreading cheer.
Deadspin ranked T.C. as the 52nd best mascot (out of 70) in all of pro sports.  That seems rather low.  I don't know their judging process, but he did at least finish ahead of the Chicago White Sox mascot.
You can keep up with the adventures of T.C. by following TC Bear on twitter.  It's actually quite amusing.
T.C. Bear and me in Fort Myers, FL-March 2017.