Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Mike Carey Flashbacks to Fancypants

I first met Mike Carey at the Chicago debut of Fancypants.  I had the pleasure of interviewing him on the red carpet.
At Flashback Weekend, I almost literally ran into him.  He was there to meet some of his acting friends and others.  He is pretty recognizable, even though I am usually oblivious to random celebrity encounters.  I did see and recognize Carey, though.
Cuzz Gekas and I spent a few minutes talking to him.  Cuzz and Carey go back a bit, having known each other casually for a long while.  It was fun to talk to Carey as a fellow con fan, but one with an insider's view as well.
This is another example of how much fun Flashback Weekend is.  You never know who you might see there.  Some people even came over to me, happy to meet "the guy who is everywhere."  Clearly I am not a celeb, but it just shows you can meet all sorts of people there.
Mike Carey and me in Rosemont, IL-August 2014.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

We Pulled That Plane

Resistance Pro continues to prove that it is more than just a wrestling company.  They have a Positive Outreach Program (POP) where they touch the lives of today's youth.  They have fundraisers at schools.  They take part in many community events.
Last year, RPro joined a team of Special Olympians in the Plane Pull at O'Hare Airport.  I was out of town and had to miss it.  The team tried hard, but did not budge the plane.  More importantly though, they raised money and awareness!
When RPro announced their participation again this year, I jumped at the chance.  I promised to cover it, but hoped to be part of the actual pull.
I am proud to say that I was part of the 20 person team (half RPro and half Special Olympians).  I am even prouder to say we moved that plan a good 12 feet or so.
I love being a part of RPro.  I don't really care what my role is.  Just being a part of the special circle of friends is rewarding.  This is the most charitable, giving, caring group you could ever meet.  It isn't just the "workers" either.  Co-owners Jacques and Gabe Baron are right there with everyone, as are their respective families.  This is a group effort every single time.
I am proud to be a part of it and I am very happy to help spread the word on RPro!
RPro and the Special Olympians at O'Hare in Chicago, IL-September 2014.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Friendly Encounters: Matt Parker and Billy Corgan

This is a weekly series featuring my friends meeting celebrities.

Matt "Big Money" Parker has been a vital cog in the wheel.  He is the Contributor Extraordinaire for all he has done.  There would still be a Johngy's Beat without him, but most advances I have made have been with the assistance of Matt.
Matt has been particularly helpful in my efforts at Resistance Pro wrestling.  Along with his help, he has also been a bunch of fun.  Whether sucking up to Eric St. Vaughn (or getting chastised by ESV of late), poking Jocephus Brody or any other bits of his silliness, he always makes it a good time for me.
Making it a good time for all is Billy Corgan, music legend and Creative Director at RPro.  Corgan isn't a big name figure head.  He is the real deal, a "hands-on" leader, whose vision is sometimes questioned, but whose results are visible.  Corgan knows what he is doing and it is evident in the success of RPro.
Matt and Billy.  Two men I am proud to know.  More importantly, I am proud to call both friend.
Matt Parker and Billy Corgan in Willowbrook, IL-June 2014.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Bear Down Sunday #7-The Miami Dolphins

The Chicago Bears are 3-3 after a big win against Atlanta.  Today they face the Miami Dolphins who are 2-3 after a close loss to Green Bay.
My old high school track teammate Tony Furjanic represents the Dolphins today, although I think he will be cheering for the Bears.  Tony finished his three year NFL career with the Dolphins in 1988.
Tony was a star athlete at Mount Carmel and he went on to star in football at Notre Dame.  Drafted by the Buffalo Bills, he played two seasons there and finished with Miami.
Tony was a stud player, an intelligent guy and a genuinely nice guy at MC.  A little known fact is that he was wearing my singlet for one of the varsity team pictures in the yearbook.  Yes, I remember that sort of stuff.
Many years later, I interviewed Tony for a stry on Global Traveler's website.  I am happy to report that he is just as nice as ever.  It was great seeing him.
I hope the Bears play with Tony's intelligence and determination.  I hope they come out a winner, just like he is.
Tony Furjanic and me in Mokena, IL-Spring 2012.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

I Was Not in This Alone

My Marathon plan worked.  Early in my training, I put my goal on Facebook and announced that I was not alone in my Marathon comeback.  My goal was that putting it out there like that would hold me accountable, almost force me to train hard to finish the Marathon.
Never was my FB catchphrase more accurate than on Marathon weekend.  The outpouring of well wishes via texts, FB messages, videos, pictures, calls etc. overwhelmed me.  I took all of that support with me as I plodded along the 26.2 mile course.
Speaking of that course, several members of my family and friends busted their butts and met me at many spots along the way.  Seeing these familiar faces and hearing them encourage me helped me block out the pain and move onward.
Having this sort of support is very powerful.  It is uplifting and moving.  It is the greatest feeling in the world.  Yes, it is even better than the feeling of crossing that Finish Line.  However, crossing that Finish Line with them there is just the best.
I can never express my gratitude and love enough.  At least I am publicly putting it out here and telling the world that I have the best friends and family.
I was not alone in this...and I am never alone!  Love you all.
Nancy, Kyle, me, Lou, Sam, Scott and Jean in Chicago, IL-October 2014.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Sam (and I) Did a Marathon!

About a year ago, my niece Sam proposed the idea of running a Marathon together.  I had not run one since 2001 and planned to be done running them, but the thought of doing one with Sam was enough to get me to change that plan.
Last Sunday, we both finished the Marathon.  Sam's time was 5:15 and mine was 6:31.  All things considered, I was very happy with my time, but this wasn't really about that.
This one was a year long journey with Sam.  We exchanged texts, emails, FB messages along the way.  I really enjoyed the banter, encouragement and silliness.  I loved going through the whole process with her on Marathon weekend.
I am so proud of Sam.  She is one tough young lady.  She endured some leg cramps and the usual (mental and physical) Marathon fatigue, but she kept running.  Knowing that she was running certainly helped keep me running.  The experience was great, but both of us finishing would be the capper.
I will never forget hugging her as we met post-race.  It was one of those moments frozen in time.  I will always have that special moment with Sam.
Congratulations to Sam.  She earned it and deserves all of the applause!  I was just glad to be there for the ride (or run).
Sam Parker and me in Chicago, IL-October 2014.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Celebrity Jersey Cards #193 Robbie Gould & Garry Meier

This is a regular feature which attempts to combine my lifelong passion for baseball cards with my semi-professional interest in celebrities.  The Blackhawks are back!

Robbie Gould has been good as gold for the Bears for several years.  He is one of the best kickers of all time.  He even tried kicking the puck into the goal (as depicted here on his Celebrity Jersey Card).  I applaud him for sticking with his strengths!
Way back in the day, few people probably thought Garry Meier would have a longer radio career than his one time partner Steve Dahl.  Meier is entertaining listeners on WGN, a station he once mocked.  We are all entitled to change.  Meier's Celebrity Jersey Card features a license plate, a first for such cards!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Big Money, the Hulkster and Johngy

With all due respect, I was never a Hulkamaniac.  As I have documented several times, Roddy Piper was my guy.  Hogan and Piper do go together though, like some of the greatest pairs/rivals ever.
I didn't hate Hogan though.  In fact, I even cheered for him against some opponents (although certainly never Piper, no matter who was the "good" guy).
Like Hogan or not, you have to recognize him as one of the greatest pro wrestlers ever.  Hogan was one of the main reasons why the WWE (then WWF) changed the course of pro wrestling.  In his time, he was charismatic beyond belief.  Even after his prime, Hogan continued to be a main player for many years.  Even now, he can still get the fans going, although his days as an active wrestler are pretty much over.
Matt and I got to meet Hogan earlier this year at C2E2.  The encounter was brief, as he had hundreds of people in line waiting.  Luckily, our press credentials helped us avoid too long of a wait.  Even in those few minutes with him, you could feel his presence.  We were in the company of wrestling royalty.
Matt Parker, Hulk Hogan and me in Chicago, IL-April 2014.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Fred Ottman Did Shock the World

Fred Ottman played several characters in wrestling.  One of his most memorable was probably his shortest-lived character of "the Shockmaster."
About midway through his career, he switched wrestling companies.  Before he debuted for WCW, his new company, they billed him as someone who would "shock the world."  When he actually appeared, he was supposed to bust through a wall.  Unfortunately, the Stormtrooper mask they had fixed for him limited his vision and he tripped on part of the set.  His mask fell off, exposing his face and he stumbled over the set and into wrestling infamy.
It's unfortunate that he will always be remembered for this.  On the other hand, he seems to have taken it well and is okay with that part of his career.  I think Ottman is pretty well adjusted and takes it for what it was, just a simple flawed bit that does not mar his otherwise excellent career.
I had the pleasure of meeting Ottman at C2E2  I did not ask him about the Shockmaster.  Instead, I simply talked to him about his career.
Fred Ottman, Matt Parker and me in Chicago, IL-April 2014.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Friendly Encounters: Darryl Strawberry and David Herro

This is a regular series about my friends who have met celebrities.

David Herro has been known to hang with some heavy hitters in professional wrestling.  One look at his Facebook or twitter feeds and you will see a photo stream of the top names in wrestling.  On a trip to Los Angeles earlier this year, Herro ran into a real hitter.
Darryl Strawberry burst onto the baseball scene in the 80's and became one of the biggest stars.  Personal issues derailed his career at times, but he still finished with 335 home runs.
Knowing the marketing genius that Herro is, I wouldn't doubt that he tried to woo Straw for an appearance at Great Lakes Championship Wrestling.  Straw may be a bit lanky for a real wrestling career, but Herro would find a spot for him on one of his shows.  Herro knows how to promote and draw.
Herro's next big show is Blizzard Brawl X.  Will Strawberry make an appearance?  Who knows?  I do know with or without Straw, Blizzard Brawl X will be a huge event loaded with stars.
David Herro and Darryl Strawberry in Los Angeles, CA-August 2014.