Monday, April 15, 2024

Friend Encounters: Heather Drums and Jim Strong

Friend Encounters is a weekly series featuring friends meeting celebrities.

Once again, I post a picture which makes me envious of my pal Jim Strong. This time, he is with Heather Drums, one of my favorites on the local music scene.

I have met many wrestlers, athletes and musicians with Jim. Because he is out all over all the time, he occasionally meets folks I really would have liked to see. Such was the case with Heather, who he watched play on Valentine's Day.

I first saw Heather when she was in a band playing just blocks from my place. Her energy and charisma stood out. Of course, she was also an outstanding drummer. Unfortunately, I have only seen her that one time, while Jim has seen her multiple times.

I will never catch up with Jim, but seeing Heather this year is one of my goals. I don't think she is currently with one band, but plays with several. Either way, I hope to see her somewhere this summer.

Heather Drums and Jim in Mundelein, IL-February 2024.

Sunday, April 14, 2024

Celebrity Jersey Cards #683 Beyonce & Tracy Byrd

Celebrity Jersey Cards is a weekly series in which I create virtual trading cards for celebrities wearing jerseys. I continue marching alphabetically through all of the Major League Baseball teams.

Born in Houston, Beyoncé Giselle Knowles-Carter rose to fame as the mononymous singer. She's won countless awards and was named as one of the greatest vocalists of all-time by Rolling Stone. Beyonce earned a Celebrity Jersey Card by donning an old school Houston Astros jersey with a slightly torn pair of jeans.

Texas native Tracy Byrd rose to fame as a country music singer. Pushed into singing Hank Williams' "Your Cheatin' Heart" at a local mall recording studio, Byrd was so impressive, he was signed by MCA Records. Byrd has worked for several charities, including the Special Olympics. He also released a cookbook. Byrd earned a Celebrity Jersey Card while singing the National Anthem for the Astros. Usually, I would deduct points for a dress shirt under a jersey, but I do like the hat. 

Saturday, April 13, 2024

Cards That Never Were: Michel Plasse 1971-72, 80-81 & 82-83

Cards That Never Were is a recurring series in which I create virtual cards for players missed in various sets. I's a concept I have borrowed from far too many to list, but I appreciate all of their efforts. More of my cards and thousands from others can be found in the Custom Baseball Cards Facebook group (and it's not just baseball cards, despite the group name).

Goalie Michel Plasse was selected by the Montreal Canadiens with the first overall pick in the 1968 NHL draft. He made his NHL debut with one game for the St. Louis Blues in the 1970-71 season. He then went back to Montreal for two seasons. The Kansas City Scouts took him in the expansion draft, but traded him to the Pittsburgh Penguins midway through the 1974-75 season. After the 1975-76 season, he went to the Colorado Rockies for four seasons, before finishing his career with the Quebec Nordiques for two seasons.

All told, he played in 298 games over his 11 seasons. He had a 3.79 goals against average and an .881 save percentage. He also became the first professional goalie to score a goal when he pulled that trick in a game in 1971 while playing for the Oklahoma City Blazers.

For his efforts, Topps/OPC gave him cards in their 1972-73 through 1979-80 sets and also 1981-82. That left out 1971-72, 1980-81 and 1982-83. Jeff, from the aforementioned FB group made the Rockies card. I took the picture for the first card from a different card posted in the FB group. When he only played one game for the Blues, finding any picture of him was a task. After a long hunt, Plasse's collection is now done.

Friday, April 12, 2024

Heather Owens and Squared Circle Expo

When you talk #classybroad, you must be talking about Hardcore Heather Owens. A semi-retired pro wrestler, Heather is also one-fourth of the dynamic foursome who run Squared Circle Expo.
I first met Heather years ago at a horror convention, but that was mostly just in passing. We chatted more and became friends when she wrestled for (the now-defunct) Resistance Pro Wrestling. Heather had excellent matches as a solo and a tag team wrestler.
RPro had a great women's division, but I still think Heather deserved a run with the belt. Sometimes I think she was too good, meaning the bookers knew they could count on her to make others look good.
After RPro folded, I still saw Heather every year at the horror con. Then several years ago, I saw she and her husband Ed Gonzales joined Adolfo Dorta and his wife Carrie to run Squared Circle Expo, an awesome wrestling convention.
Now four years of SCX and it just keeps getting bigger and better.
I always try to get pictures with the Fantastic Four, but they are so busy and I don't want to get them at the wrong time. Fortunately, I ran into Heather at a quieter moment for her and snapped the photo below. 
Not only is Heather one of the promoters and organizers, she also wrestles on the cards at night. If SCX ever unveils a women's championship, I hope Heather gets a shot.
Go to SquaredCircleX.com for more info. SCX V has not been announced yet, but it'll probably be around the same time in 2025. Don't miss it.

Heather Owens and me in Indianapolis, IN-March 2024.

Thursday, April 11, 2024

Shout Out from Charlie Kruel

Charlie Kruel is one of my favorite wrestlers on the independent scene. Let me correct myself. Charlie Pierce is now one of my favorites.

Charlie Kruel continues to evolve in and out of the ring. Recently, she changed her name from Kruel to Pierce. She's a bit edgier.

Before the change though, Charlie Kruel sent a shout out to Johngy's Beat. I return the favor and encourage all to check out Charlie Pierce on social media and at a wrestling show if possible.

Whether she is Kruel or Pierce (or any future incarnation), she has the talent and charisma to be a success in wrestling. I'll be watching and cheering throughout her journey.

Wednesday, April 10, 2024

Squared Circle Expo IV

Another Squared Circle Expo is in the books. SCX IV was the biggest and best SCX event yet.

SCX is a major wrestling convention, including a large lineup of wrestlers for meet-and-greets and two full cards of live wrestling. I can't even begin to list the wrestling legends and young superstars I have met over the years.

It is run by the fabulous foursome of Adolfo and Carrie Dorta and Ed and Heather (Owens) Gonzales. I love all of them, but this all started with Adolfo, who previously was a co-organizer of a different convention. It's hard to believe I first met Adolfo in 2011.

Adolfo has always been generous with his time and considerations. He has always shown me great hospitality at the other con and now with SCX.

I wrote more about the convention for Patch.com, GlobalTravelerUSA.com and TheEveryDayFan.com. Also, check SquaredCircleX.com for info and updates about next year's event.

Adolfo Dorta and me in Indianapolis, IN-March 2024.

Tuesday, April 9, 2024

Friend Encounters: Taylor Heise and CiMags

Friend Encounters is a weekly series featuring friends meeting celebrities.

I met Jonathan Cimaglio during my time covering the (now defunct) Chicago Bandits. Cimags was a big fan and also an autograph collector (or a grapher). His graphing goes well beyond just the Bandits. He frequently posts all of his other graphing successes, including sports, entertainment and any celebrity.
Today, I feature him with hockey player Taylor Heise. In high school, Heise she was a four-time USA Today American Family Insurance All-USA honoree. She has since gone on to play internationally, as well as in the new Professional Women's Hockey League. In the underrated, undercovered world of women's hockey, Heise is one of the all-time greats.
I am envious of Cimags for landing this celeb encounter. I am a big fan of Heise and the PWHL. I hope they expand to Chicago, because I will definitely be out there and hope to have a chance to see Heise play in person.
Until then, check out the Cimags YouTube page for all of his adventures. Also, check thepwhl.com for news on the league.
 Taylor Heise and Cimags in Minnetonka, MN-March 2024.

Monday, April 8, 2024

Happy Birthday, Nancy

Today I celebrate my sister Nancy's birthday. It is right to honor the matriarch of our family.

Since our mom passed several years ago, I have referred to Nancy as the matriarch, much to her disdain. She's a good trooper though and accepts it, but she does get me back with various shots.

I often say and I will continue to say that I am fortunate to have two awesome sisters. The eldest sibling, Nancy gave me my first niece in Laura. I also had the pleasure of two roadtrips with them to New York. Nancy 

Nancy has a huge heart for family, friends and dogs (maybe not in that order). Laura, (Nancy's hub) Dave, (Nancy's dog) Sully and everyone else is lucky to have Nancy in our lives.

Although she is out west celebrating with her friends, I will raise a can of Coke to her here and wish her a fantastic birthday. Happy birthday, Nancy. I love you!

Nancy and Laura in Hobart, IN-November 2023.

Sunday, April 7, 2024

Celebrity Jersey Cards #682 Debbi Fields & Mary Barry

Celebrity Jersey Cards is a weekly series in which I create virtual trading cards for celebrities wearing jerseys. I continue my season-long alphabetical march through all the Major League Baseball teams.

Born in Oakland, California, Debbi Fields was one of the first ball girls for the Oakland A's before finding major success making cookies. In high school, she was the Homecoming Queen. At its height, Mrs. Fields had more than 700 retail outlets. Of course her Celebrity Jersey Card had to feature her throwing a ceremonial pitch for the Oakland A's.

Mary Barry was another of the first ball girls hired by the A's. She went to the same high school as Fields. She later became a massage therapist. The two former ballgirls kept in touch and reunited to throw ceremonial pitches. Fields even got into Barry's Celebrity Jersey Card.

Saturday, April 6, 2024

Talking Travel with Jessica Nabongo

My latest Global Traveler Talking Travel interview guest is Jessica Nabongo. Who better to talk travel than someone who has visited every country?
More specifically, Nabongo is the first black woman to visit every country. At age four, Nabongo got an early start on traveling and she hasn't stopped. The day after our interview, Nabongo was traveling to Alaska, one of the six states she hasn't visited. (I am confident she will visit the rest soon.)
Nabongo talked about her start in traveling and her travel goals. She gave her favorite spots, travel goals (other than all 50 states) and her tips.
She also discussed her book of 100 locations she loves. It is part travelogue, part diary and part picture book, but it is all amazing. It's a great book and hopefully the first of more to come. With all the places Nabongo has been, she can easily publish at least one more.
Look for the interview video and recap on Global Traveler at Talking Travel with Jessica Nabongo. Also, get more info on Jessica at thecatchmeifyoucan.com. Lastly, please subscribe to the Global Traveler YouTube channel for all sorts of interesting travel content (and to help my job security LOL).