Tuesday, February 21, 2017

A Pack To Be Named Later

A Pack To Be Named Later is a website founded several years ago by Matt F., of Heartbreaking Cards.  The stated goal of the site is to rip open (at least) one pack of every card product ever made.  Admittedly, it was ambitious.  Now, several years later, APTBNL is going strong.
Each post would consist of the writer opening one pack of whatever cards.  The pack and the individual cards are included in the piece, along with a brief summary of the set, the cards and possibly other random thoughts.  There was no strict guidelines, other than to have fun and to show the packs.
I contributed in the early years of the site.  Some of the packs I showcased include 1978 Donruss Kiss, 1976 Topps Welcome Back Kotter, 1991 Impel WCW, 1991 Topps American Gladiators and others.  It was fun writing and also reading what others wrote.
Unfortunately, I drifted away a bit.  I got busy with other projects and did not keep up with APTBNL.  I still checked the site and always meant to start again, but it just didn't happen, until now.
I am once again writing on APTBNL.  My first piece showcases a pack of 2016 Topps WWE.  I don't know how often I will appear there, but I am trying for a few times every month.
It feels good to see my first piece back there.  It really is a fun site.  There are plenty of packs still to go and plenty of packs that can be repeated for different and interesting results.  You can always check out all of my pieces for APTBNL by clicking on the APTBNL box in the right column.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Friendly Encounters: Fernando Valenzuela and Dodger Bobble

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

Joshua Kohl is the creative baseball fan behind DodgerBobble, a cool website dedicated to the Los Angeles Dodgers, bobble heads and baseball.  While the site hasn't been updated in a long time, there is so much baseball goodness still to be found there.  I love this site.
Fernando-Mania hit in the summer of 1981.  Fernando Valenzuela eventually cooled off, but still had an excellent 17 year career in the majors, mostly with the Los Angeles Dodgers.  He will always be a beloved part of the Dodgers history and community.
It seems perfect that Josh was able to meet Valenzuela.  While he might not be the greatest Dodger of the last 35 years (Mike Piazza?) he is one of the best and possibly the most recognizable.  He is destined to be a lifer, almost like a team mascot.
Josh is a big baseball fan.  Meeting the legendary Valenzuela had to be a thrill.  I know the feeling.  Congrats on getting this icon!
Joshua Kohl and Fernando Valenzuela in Los Angeles, CA-March 2011.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Happy Birthday Sam!

My youngest niece Sam is celebrating her birthday today.  It's going to be quite a year of celebrating for Sam, too.
The picture below is from her Pinning Ceremony.  We are all so proud of Sam for her hard work.  She's going to do great things.
Coming ahead this year, Sam will be getting married to Kyle (seen in the photo).  That will be quite a celebration, too.  Just a few weeks after that, Sam, Kyle and I will be running in the Chicago Marathon.
Sam is an amazing young lady.  She is smart, tough, sweet and has a huge heart and a great sense of humor.  I couldn't be prouder of Sam.
I am also so happy to be involved in the Marathon with her and Kyle.  I appreciate them letting me share in the experience.
Happy birthday Sam.  I hope this is your best year yet!  I love you!
Sam Parker and the family in Naperville, IL-December 2016.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Celebrity Jersey Cards #310 Whoopi Goldberg & Elizabeth Hasselbeck

This is a regular series in which I create virtual trading cards for jersey-clad celebrities.

Carol Elaine Johnson was born in Manhattan, NY.  She rose to fame on the screen and stage as Whoopi Goldberg.  She donned a San Antonio Spurs jersey for a segment on The View, a show she has co-hosted since 2007.  While I am not a fan of a collared shrit under a jersey, I do appreciate the opportunity to create an NBA Celebrity Jersey card.
Elizabeth Hasselbeck was a co-host on The View from 2003 to 2013.  A native of Cranston, RI, she is married to former NFL quarterback Tim Hasselbeck (who has appeared on his own football cards).  Like her former View partner, Hasselbeck earned her Celebrity Jersey Card for a show segment.  She gets extra points for having a basketball!

Friday, February 17, 2017

Lisa Lutz and the Spellman Family

It is my never-ending quest to discover debut authors and then follow them throughout their literary career.  One of my favorite "finds" has been Lisa Lutz.
Lutz's The Spellman Files caught my attention in 20078.  Since then, I have enjoyed the adventures of the offbeat family of investigators.  Lutz combines humor with a bit of mystery to produce pure pulp entertainment.
I have enjoyued her forays outside of the Spellman franchise, too.  Heads You Lose is probably my favorite non-Spellman book of hers.  Lutz and David Hayward take turns writing chapters in this comic crime novel.  Utilizing extra notes and verbal sparring between the writrs, this book is an easy and enjoyable read.
I had the pleasure of meeting Lutz at a book siging a few years back.  She had been on my "Wanted" list since I read that first Spellman book.  It was another great experience, hearing the voice behind those beloved Spellman characters.
I highly recommend her books.  You can learn more about her at LisaLutz.com.
Lisa Lutz and me in River Forest, IL-March 2013.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Happy Birthday Louie

Today, join me in celebrating the birthday of one of my oldest and dearest friends and business partner.  Louie turns 50 this year!
I have known Louie since September of 1987, when I joined Lerner Newspapers.  Louie was already there, havibng worked part-time through high school.
We have had a lot of adventures over the years.  We survived Lerner and started Arch News Agency, our printed materials distribution company.
We have gone to Spring Training, Chicago Bears mini-camp, Las Vegas and other fun trips.  We have run the Chicago Marathon together twice.
I was there when he met his future wife Effie.  I stood up at their wedding and watched as his family grew to include three great boys.  I became part of his extended family.
Louie is a great friend and business partner.  I couldn't ask for anyone better.  It really has been a pleasure knowing Louie for these almost 30 years.  I love him like a brother.
Happy birthday Louie.  Enjoy your day!
Louie Atsaves and me in Chicago, IL-October 2015.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Rae Dawn Chong at Motor City Comic Con 2011

My friends (and most Johngy's Beat readers) know of my fascination with familial ties in sports.  My interest in faily relations extends to the entertainment world, too.
Actress Rae Dawn Chong is the daughter of Tommy Chong.  Perhaps best known for her role in The Color Purple, Cong has had a successful and steady career since the late 1970's.
When Cuzz Gekas and I met Chong at the Motor City Comic Con years ago, I was impressed by her grace.  She seemed like such a pleasant person.  She was happy to be there and happy to meet and talk to fans.
We talked a bit about her famous father, mostly about growing up with a famous dad and entering the same profession.  She politely answered our questions (which she probably has answered hundreds of times previously).
She thanked us for stopping by and for our interest.  I heard her thank every fan.  That's a small, nice touch that leaves you feeling good.
Rae Dawn Chong, Cuzz Gekas and me in Novi, MI-May 2011.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Lauren Holly Would Be My Valentine

Who better to be featured on Valentine's Day than Lauren Holly, one of my long time crushes.  Just look how happy I am in that picture.
I had the pleasure of meeting and interviewing Holly at Wizard World Chicago 2012.  Thanks to the persistance of Matt Parker and despite the unintentional interference by Luke Perry, I was able to talk to Holly for a few minutes.  That interview can be found at On the Beat With Lauren Holly.
I had been a fan of Holly's since her days on tv's All My Children.  I was excited simply to meet her, but I was not going to pass on the chance to interview her.  Things got a little tricky when there was no time set.  Then when our opening came, booth neighbor Luke Perry started talking to her.  I will forever thank and appreciate Matt for sticking with it and almost forcing the issue.  While it was a bit of a wait and sometimes uncomfortable, in the end I got one of my favorite interviews from one of my favorite stars.
Lauren Holly and me in Rosemont, IL-August 2012.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Friendly Encounters: Jason Terry and GQ

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

Like most professional wrestlers, my friend has used several names.  He has been GQ, Greeko Sauve, GQ Sauve, Yanni and probably more.  Obviously, he is of Greek descent and takes great pride in his heritage.
He also takes great pride in his wrestling work and rightly so.  He is very talented in the ring and on the mic.
After a short stint on the west coast, GQ has returned to the Chicago area and most notably POWW, his main wrestling home.  If you have not seen him wrestle, you should get over to a POWW show, because he does not disappoint and POWW is always a great night of entertainment.
Recently, GQ attended a Milwaukee Bucks game and had a bit of a unique friendly encounter.  He got a courtside selfie with Jason Terry.  Nice work on it, too!
The Bucks are in a battle for a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference of the NBA.  Terry is in his 18th season and has adapted nicely to a smaller, but important role on the team.
I can't guarantee you will land a selfie with Terry or any player at a Bucks game, but I can fuarantee you will get plenty of pics with the talented stars of POWW at any of their events.  You might even see me there!
GQ and Jason Terry in Milwaukee, WI-January 2017.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Happy Birthday Jason Fleigel

Jason Fleigel entered my life as a part-time telemarketer at Lerner Newspapers in 1995.  The telemarketing thing didn't work out so well, but he became a vital part of Lerner's IT team.  More importantly, he became a great friend.
He has had many names over the years, including, the Little Ball of Hate, Senor Anger, The Angry One, Young Master Jason, YMJ, JayHawk Evans and others.  Over the last few years, he has been called a husband and more recently a father.
I had the honor of being a groomsman at his wedding.  I could not have been prouder or happier for my friend.  It has been great seeing him so happy, a happiness he truly deserves.
Of course, as his life gets busier, his time with me on Johngy's Beat has been limited, but that is understandable.  He does have an open invite to return any time.
I look at him like the little brother I never had.  I am fortunate to call him a friend.
I love ya, buddy and happy birthday!
Jason Fleigel and me in Schaumburg, IL-November 2015.