Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Revisiting "Pieces of Talent"

I just watched Pieces of Talent again and I loved it again.  I think it is destined to be a cult classic.
I first encountered Kristi Ray (the female lead) at Days of the Dead.  The trailer caught my attention and Kristi's enthusiasm also helped.
Pieces of Talent is the story of Charlotte, an aspiring actress stuck in a job she hates, while she cares for her mother and hopes for her break.  She meets David, who happens to be a film maker.  None of that sounds extraordinary, but it is filmed well and it slowly draws in the viewer.
Once Charlotte and David meet, the real story starts to be told and it is quite a story.  Charlotte agrees to be in his film project and the story takes some interesting and frightening turns.  None of the twists seem forced or unnecessary.
I don't want to give away too much of the story.  Actually, you can hear Kristi talk about everything at On the Beat with Kristi Ray.  She is totally correct when she describes Pieces of Talent as a character-driven, psychological thriller.  That's exactly why I love this movie.
There is also a sequel in the works, although it will not be done for a few years.  Until then, you can keep up with all of the info at the Pieces of Talent Facebook page.
Kristi Ray, Joe Stauffer and me in Indianapolis, IN-June 2015.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Cards That Never Were: 1970 Topps Tony Muser

Cards That Never Were is a recurring series in which I create virtual cards for players who were skipped in a regular set.  It is a concept I have borrowed from too many to list, but I appreciate them all.
Former first baseman Tony Muser played parts of nine seasons in the majors.  He debuted in 1969 with the Boston Red Sox.  He spent 1970 in the minors, before being traded to the Chicago White Sox.  He played parts of 1971-75 with the White Sox, before being traded to the Baltimore Orioles during the 1975 season.  He played in Baltimore through 1977.  He spent one season with the Milwaukee Brewers before retiring.
Muser had Topps baseball cards from 1973-1978.  Therefore, he is missing in the 1970, 1972 and 1979 sets.
I found no pictures of Muser from 1971, nor any of him as a player for the Brewers, but I did find a usable shot of him with the Red Sox.  Therefore, I created the 1970 Topps card that never was, but should have been (at least in my eyes).
As always, if the other two pictures show up somewhere, I will be certain to create the 1972 and 1979 versions.  Until then, I am happy with this Card That Never Was.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Friendly Encounters: Nathalia Melo and Justin Legg

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

I haven't actually met Justin Legg, but I know him through the Chicago Bandits.  Justin and his family are fans of the Bandits and National Pro Fastpitch.
Justin met Nathalia Melo at the Arnold Classic in 2012.  An IFBB Pro fitness and figure competitor, Nathalia is the winner of 2012 Bikini Olympia.  Clearly Justin knows a bit about body building.
Justin knows a lot about softball, too.  He also knows about fund-raising.  His girls' softball team is attempting to raise awareness and money for breast cancer.  Their goal is to start a fund toward women getting the new 3D less invasive exams.
They have gotten lots of cool stuff (like autographed shirts etc.) from the NPF teams, which will be raffled.  If you would like raffle tickets toward specific teams or each team or have any interest in helping via donation, let me know and I will get the message to Justin.  You can also look for him on Facebook.
More exciting news is that Good Samaritan Hospital in their community has agreed to offer the exams at their cost.  How wonderful!
These young girls are working hard to raise awareness and money for breast cancer.  They are great examples and role models already.  Congrats to these young athletes (future NPF players?), Justin, the NPF and all else involved.
If you can help, please do so.
Nathalia Melo and Justin Legg in Columbus, OH-March 2012.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Celebrity Jersey Cards #292 John Goodman & Abe Vigoda

This is a regular series which attempts to combine my lifelong passion for trading cards with my semi-professional interest in celebrities.  We continue working our way alphabetically through Major League Baseball.

Born in Missouri, actor John Goodman will always be remembered his role on Roseanne.  He also starred as Babe Ruth in The Babe.  This explains the cool photo on his Celebrity Jersey Card.  I love the old school Yankees uniform.
Abe Vigoda was born in New York and died earlier this year (despite long-standing rumors of his death).  Vigoda appeared as a Yankees batboy in an ad and actually signed a one day contract with the team.  All of this landed him on a Celebrity Jersey Card using the 1950 Bowman set design.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Booker T at Blizzard Brawl 2015

Booker T had a great career as a professional wrestler.  He is a multi-time World Heavyweight champ, multi-time tag team champ and a WWE Hall of Famer.  In recent years, he has done commentary work for the WWE.
Booker is another great guest at celebrity conventions.  I met Booker T at David Herro's Blizzard Brawl last year.  Herro's events are always a great place to get closer and spend a little extra time with wrestlers.
Booker Huffman has lead quite a life.  He rose from a troubled youth, including a stint in jail, to become a successful and popular wrestler.  Booker went from being part of a great tag team (Harlem Heat with his brother Stevie Ray) to being a multi-time Heavyweight champ.  That's not an easy trasition.  You can read all about him in Booker T: My Rise To Wrestling Royalty, which details his life and career.  It is one of the better wrestling autobiographies I have read.
You can follow Booker T on twitter for updates, thoughts, appearances and more.  Read his book though.  It really is good.
Booker T and me in Waukesha, WI-December 2015.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Amanda Kamekona and the 2016 Chicago Bandits

Amanda Kamekona was a star softball player at UCLA.  She joined the NPF as an undrafted free agent signing with the Carolina Diamonds in 2012.  She played with the New York/New Jersey Comets in 2013.  In 2014, she joined the USSSA Pride, where she remained until July 20, 2016, when they released her.
On July 23, the defending NPF champion Chicago bandits signed her.  AK 47 had 11 hits in 37 at bats for the Bandits.  She had 5 rbi's, scored 7 runs and one home run.  She played multiple positions, as well.
The Pride were riding high in first place when they released Amanda.  The Bandits were scuffling a bit in 4th.  The Bandits ended up in 3rd and eventually beat the Pride to capture their second straight Cowles Cup (NPF championship).
Amanda was not the MVP of the Bandits, but she provided a spark.  She brought experience and a tremendous amount of energy.  We will never know if the Bandits would have won it all without her, but we know she contributed a lot during her short time here.
It's moves like this and players like Amanda, that show the front office of the Bandits is top notch.  Owner Bill Sokolis, GM Aaron Moore, Manager Mike Steuerwald, Coach Roman Foore and the few staffers they have, work tirelessly to find gems like Amanda.  The Bandits continue to bring in and develop players who are quality people and excellent softball players.
One of the highlights for me was being in Akron when AK hit her first home run with the Bandits.  I got to interview her after the game.  Of course, I had to ask how it felt, full well knowing her answer would be that it felt great, but it was her enthusiasm which really captured me.
People always ask me who my favorite Chicago Bandit is.  I say it changes continually, because I cannot pick one (or exclude one) player from the conversation.  I love the Bandits and AK is just th latest, greatest addition to this fine organization!
Amanda Kamekona and me in Rosemont, IL-August 2016.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Joel Adams at C2E2 2016

Joel Adams is the son of the legendary comic book artist Neal Adams.  Joel has created his own legacy over the years though, including being the character designer for King of the Hill.  A few years ago, I met Neal and Joel at Wizard World.  That's like comic book royalty.
In addition to King of the Hill, Joel's work has appeared on products for many iconic franchises, like The Mighty Morphing Power Rangers, The Incredible Hulk, Power Rangers and more.  In recent years, he has spent time creating and developing LILZ, a series of big head big eyed characters.
You can see some of his Lilz creations and his other artworks at JoelAdamsArt.com.  Of course, you can also find his convention schedule and other updates there.  Check out his work there or at a comic con near you.
Joel Adams and me in Chicago, IL-March 2016.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Guy Gilchrist at Wizard World Columbus 2016

When I checked the Artist Alley list for Wizard World Columbus 2016, one of the first names that stood out was Guy Gilchrist.  I had to meet the man behind Nancy.
Larry Whittington began the Fritzi Ritz comic strip in 1922 and Ernie Bushmiller took over the strip three years later.  In 1933, the character of Nancy was introduced.  Since then, Nancy has taken the spotlight and the title of the comic.
In 1995, Guy and Brad Gilchrist took control of Nancy.  One of the changes they made was to return Nancy back to the more traditional style.  Guy now has sole control.
I have always been fascinated by comic strips.  They are so simple, yet so much work goes into each panel.  I have talked to many comic creators and I know the effort involved, although I also see the passion.  It sounds cliche, but these people have such passion for their characters.  They actually have to look at them almost like real people, like family members.
Gilchrist fits that mold.  His passion for "Nancy" is evident as he talks about his work.  While he did not create Nancy, he keeps her alive today.
Aside from Nancy and other comic work, I learned that Gilchrist designed a few logos for minor league baseball teams.  That is almost as cool as working on one of the most iconic comic characters ever!
You can learn more about Gilchrist and "Nancy" by following Guy Gilchrist on twitter.
Guy Gilchrist and me in Columbus, OH-August 2016.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Johngy Is In Commercials?

Jacques Baron of Resistance Pro Wrestling called me and asked if I would be interested in appearing in a commercial.  He went into more details, but I didn;t need to hear anything more.  Of course, I would be interested!
Over the next few days, I received several texts asking for my measurements for clothes and other assorted info.  On a Thursday morning, I drove to the Spark Recreation Center in Summit, IL.  There I saw Jacques and Haley, along with Paloma Starr (the Chica on the Beat) and Matt Winchester (also known as the Beer City Bruiser).
I quickly donned my khakis, shirt, tie and lab coat.  Paloma and I filmed a few scenes with each other and then a few more with Matt and another actor (who was wearing Sears work clothes).  It took about 7 hours total (of intermittent action) to film what would be a 30 second commercial.
The backstory I learned was that the Producer picked Paloma and me from the Resistance website.  I guess I had the mad scientist look.
A few weeks later, I saw the finished product and I thought it looked pretty good.  I'm certainly no DeNiro, Pacino or Hanks (heck, I'm not even Scolari), but I am happy with what it was.
Last week, the video went live on YouTube.  At last check (no, I do not check it daily), it had about 2,000 views (no, 1999 of those were not mine).
The producer liked my look (why?) and I will be filming another commercial this Thursday.  I actually have speaking parts in this one.  While I don't see myself as the next Clara Peller (old reference) or Flo (newer reference), I am having fun with it.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Friendly Encounters: Adam West, Burt Ward, Julie Newmar and Josh Watko

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

Joshie Watko is the genius behond JW's Wrestling Memorabilia, a fantastic site featuring a ton of awesome wrestling stuff, including many in=person encounters.  The site is a showcase of Josh's knowledge and respect for wrestling and its' history.
Josh also has met many celebrities outside of the worl d of wrestling.  At a Wizard World earlier this year, he met a legendary Batman trio consisting of Adam West, Burt Ward and Julie Newmar.
I'm not a curmudgeonly old man.  I like the new Batman movies, but I will always have a special place for the coolness of the old Batman television series.  Maybe it recalls my childhood.  Maybe it is romanticized over time.  Maybe it is just the simplicity of the series.  Whatever the case, that Batman will always be my favorite.
I have met Newmar and West, but not yet Ward.  A picture with all three is so cool.  While I have had a couple encounters with West which left me disappointed, I'd still love to be involved in such a group photo.
Josh is a great guy and I hope to meet him one day.  If this happens, I am sure it will be at a wrestling show or comic con.  Maybe it will happen in 2017.
In the meantime, I encourage everyone to check out JW's Wrestling Memorabilia.  There is just so much great stuff on his site.  He has new and old merchandise info, reviews, pictures, stories and more.  He even has his own awards, The Joshies.  I'm not going to lie.  I am dying to win a Joshie.  Dare I dream?
Burt Ward, Adam West, Josh Watko and Julie Newmar in Pittsburgh, PA-August 2015.