Monday, September 16, 2019

Blocked by Jim Breuer



A few years ago, I replied to a tweet by comedian Amy Schumer. Schumer must not have liked my reply and she blocked me. I wrote about the incident here.

I always thought that was strange. I don't engage with celebrities very often, so to get that harsh of a response from someone for what I thought was a benign comment was odd. But that's how she rolls, I guess.

Recently I had another twitter incident with another famous comic. One I have seen live a few times and admire his roles in movies and other media.

But alas, I've been blocked by Jim Breuer.

It all started a few weeks ago when I read an article on UltimateClassicRock.com entitled "Are Opening Acts a Thing of the Past?". The article details how Metallica is no longer touring with an opening act, instead opting to have Breuer, a longtime fan, act as MC to get the crowd warmed up.

The logic of the move to eliminate the opening act is that according to promoters, few fans are there to see the openers, so it is best to skip the formalities and jump right into Metallica. Which I can attest is a stupid idea. In 1999, I saw Sevendust, Creed, and Kid Rock open for Metallica in front of 75,000 fans at the Orange Bowl in Miami, and although each band was relatively new, they all kicked ass prior to the headliner.

But oddly, Breuer agrees with Metallica's new touring philosophy. He states the following:


From a comedian, I found this to be out of touch. Opening acts are part of the show, both in comedy and rock. I have seen Jim Breuer do stand-up a few times. Every time, there was an opening act.

So I tweeted my disagreement with Breuer's stance.


Breuer must have seen the tweet and not liked my opinion of his opinion as he replied:


Pretty sure Breuer didn't read the article before replying and telling me to take a nap. Which is unfortunate, because then we might have had an intelligent discourse on opening acts and modern tours. Maybe I am reading his comments the wrong way. But alas, Breuer was quick with block button, forbidding me from ever seeing his tweets again.


But I think there is another force at play here. I don't think Breuer was quick with the block because he was being a jerk, although that is a possibility. I think his emotions were running high on another target and I was collateral damage.

Jim Breuer is a huge Mets fan and the Mets were not having a good night.


Sometimes the Mets bring out the worst in people.

The next time Breuer comes to Tampa, I will buy a ticket. I am still a fan and I hold no ill will. I think think he is a funny dude. But I will print out the tweet calling me the "great critic of jerk patrol" and ask if he will autograph it. Maybe I will even make and wear a t-shirt that says "great critic of jerk patrol" and ask for a picture with Breuer.

You can't take life or twitter seriously.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Star Wars Political 9/11 Parody



Here is a Star Wars-related political parody I wrote a few months following the terrorist attacks 9/11/2001. This would be great to see in parody video, maybe even deepfake. Unfortunately, I am much more of a writer than a video creator.

A SHORT TIME AGO IN AN ISLAMIC COUNTRY FAR AWAY….

We see the negotiating team of Bill and Hillary Clinton as they venture deep into the Al-Qaeda territory of Afghanistan, seeking the peaceful handing over of Usama Bin Laden. As the couple reaches the audience of the Taliban Rulers, they play a hologram message sent by President George W. Bush for the leaders of the Taliban government.

PRESIDENT BUSH
Greetings, Exalted Ones. Allow me to introduce myself. I am George W. Bush, President of the United States. I know that you are powerful, mighty Taliban, and that your compassion for Bin Laden must be equally powerful. I seek an audience with Your Greatness to bargain for Bin Laden's life. With your wisdom, I'm sure that we can work out an arrangement, which will be mutually beneficial and enable us to avoid any unpleasant confrontation. As a token of my goodwill, I present to you a gift: these two negotiators.

Hillary is startled by this announcement.

HILLARY
What did he say?

PRESIDENT BUSH (cont)
... Neither is hardworking but will serve you well.

HILLARY
This can't be! Bill, you're playing the wrong message.

President Bush's hologram disappears.

The Taliban rulers laugh.

THE TALIBAN RULER
There will be no bargain.

HILLARY
We're doomed.

THE TALIBAN RULER
I will not give up my favorite guest. I like Usama Bin Laden where he is.

The Taliban Ruler laughs hideously.

Several of the Taliban soldiers march Bill and Hillary down a dank, shadowy passageway lined with holding cells. The cries of unspeakable hostages bounce off the cold, stone walls.
Occasionally a repulsive arm grabs through the bars at the hapless negotiators. Bill whines pitifully.

HILLARY
What could possibly have come over President Bush? Is it something I did? He never expressed any unhappiness with my work. Oh! Oh! Hold it! Ohh!

A large arm wraps around Hillary's neck. She manages to break free, and they move on to a door at the end of the corridor.

MANY DAYS LATER, AT THE TALIBAN CAPITAL OF KABUL….

Noisily, the main gate opens to flood the blackness with blinding light and reveal the silhouetted figure of PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH. He is clad in a robe similar to his father's and wears neither pistol nor sword. President Bush strides purposefully into the hallway. Two giant guards move to block his path. President Bush halts.

President Bush raises his hand and points at the puzzled guards, who immediately lower their spears and fall back. The young President lowers his hand and moves down the hallway.

Saddam Hussein appears out of the gloom. He speaks to President Bush as they approach each other, but President Bush doesn't stop and Saddam must reverse his direction and hurry alongside the young president in order to carry on the conversation. Several other guards fall in behind them in the darkness.

PRESIDENT BUSH
I must speak with the Taliban.

Saddam answers in Arabic, shaking his head in denial. President Bush stops and stares at Saddam; he raises his hand slightly.

PRESIDENT BUSH
You will take me to the Taliban now.

Saddam turns in hypnotic response to President Bush's command, and the president follows him into the gloom.

PRESIDENT BUSH
You serve your allies well. And you will be rewarded.

THE TALIBAN GOVERNING CHAMBER

The Taliban Ruler is asleep on his throne. Hillary stands behind the Taliban Ruler as Saddam comes up to him.

HILLARY
At last! President Bush has come to rescue me.

SADDAM
Master.

The Taliban Ruler awakens with a start and Saddam continues, in Arabic:

SADDAM
...George W. Bush, President of the United States.

THE TALIBAN RULER
I told you not to admit him.

PRESIDENT BUSH
I must be allowed to speak.

SADDAM
He must be allowed to speak.

The Taliban Ruler, furious, clobbers Saddam and shoves him away.

THE TALIBAN RULER
You weak-minded fool! He's using the same American trick his father used.

President Bush stares hard at the Taliban Ruler.

PRESIDENT BUSH
You will bring Usama Bin Laden to me.

THE TALIBAN
Your mind powers will not work on me, boy.

PRESIDENT BUSH
Nevertheless, I'm taking Usama Bin Laden and his organization. You can either profit by this... or be destroyed! It's your choice. But I warn you not to underestimate my powers.

TO BE CONTINUED…

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

A Brief History of The Man



This blog has chronicled the adventures of the AfroSquad for over 10 years. One of the original concepts behind the AfroSquad, before the wrestling and before the comedy, was a struggle against The Man.

But what is The Man? How long have people been fighting The Man?

According to the AfroSquad,

"The Man" is an intangible bugaboo that masterminds the hardships and tragedies of that thing we call life. Being technologically superior, he can morph into anything he wants- your boss, the local authorities, the president, your parents, a lawyer, the guy that signs your inadequate paycheck, etc."

The AfroSquad was highly influenced by the blaxplotation films of the the 1970s. But The Man goes back further than that. Much further.

The Oxford Dictionary of American Political Slang does a great job of detailing all the early mentions of The Man on page 173.



In the 1960s, The Man moved from Southern and Black Etymology to a more wider use. White counterculture also used the term to discuss their frustration with authority.  While Yippies and others diminished the racial and historical context, fighting The Man became a universal effort. This change is well described in The Age of the Crisis of Man: Thought and Fiction in America, 1933–1973 by Mark Greif, pages 269-272.


While fighting The Man had become universal, The Man moved to black cinema as the omnipotent antagonist in blaxplotation films. According to museumofuncutfunk.com

"During the 1970’s the term “The Man” became a part of the vernacular of the Blaxploitation film era. “The Man” referred to the police, the mob, the politicians and anyone who was white with power. In most cases “The Man” held the key to the destruction or redemption of Black characters in these films."

After blaxploitation films, The Man slowly diminished from use as a negative term. It started being used as a positive term such as "You are The Man." 

In the late 90s, the AfroSquad started doing their thing in the early internet.

Then, in 2002, The Man had a renaissance in cinema with the movie Undercover Brother. Comedian Eddie Griffin’s character took on a faceless Man who ran an omnipotent multi-national corporation and made life difficult for a diverse group of heroes.

Currently, there is news that Undercover Brother 2 will soon see the light of day. Will the antagonist be The Man?

The Man is still out there, and still holding people down. We should never forget the original meaning and absolute power of The Man.

Monday, August 26, 2019

When COBRA tried to blow up Florida Championship Wrestling

This was a fun video made by SnowMan of the Afro-Squad from our days attending Florida Championship Wrestling (now NXT) in Tampa. Good times, and by the way, SnowMan is a cinematic genius.

I think this video was supposed to be a prequel to another video we did in which I have a bigger role.


Sunday, August 18, 2019

My first website attempt

What you are reading here is not "my website", but a spot in the great googlesphere. Way, way, way back in the dawn of personal websites, before we expressed ourselves on corporate platforms, I attempted to make my own corner of the internet.

Unfortunately, I could never figure out the file transfer side of website development. I had no training or instruction and didn't know where to look, so this HTML file was never uploaded anywhere, but I did create it. It did have a background and graphics, although I think those files have been lost to time.

Nevertheless, the screen capture below is my first ever website. Yes, it is misogynistic with talk of "hot chicks" and other banter you would expect from a 20-year old male in an all-male military unit in the late 1990s. But you can see the dawn of my creativity. This is also evidence that at some point I wanted to be President of the United States or be on the Jerry Springer Show.

Glad I outgrew some of those ideas.

Hard to believe this is 22 years old.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Writing Advice From Leonard Pitts



When I was in college, and just starting to understand how to write, I emailed columnist Leonard Pitts in response to an article he wrote about the mother of Emmitt Till, a young black man whose death was a key point in the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. I thought Pitts's article was so well done I had to ask him how I could write like that and how maybe one day I could have my own general interest column. Although I think his assistant sent a canned response, Mr. Pitts's advice was some of the best I ever received - actually, it may have been the only advice I ever received on the art of writing. Anyway, here is what he wrote:
As for advice...practice your craft.  Then practice it some more.  After you're done with that, take a little more time and practice. This is the only sure route to learning your craft.  There is, in other words, no trick, secret, or magic formula that will make you good.  Unfortunately for them, most writers are very good at finding excuses not to write.  This is because writing is not enjoyable.  As some sage once put it: "Writing is not fun.  Having written is." So what is required of the would-be writer is that he or she first develop the discipline to apply the seat of the pants to the seat of the chair and start putting words down on the screen.  You will be awful at first, then a little better.  In time, perhaps, you will become good.  And sometime after that, assuming you possess the basic gifts for it, you will become great. Time not spent writing should be spent reading.  Read constantly and promiscuously.  Read writers whose work you admire and try to figure out how they do what they do and what it is in their work that makes it achieve whatever effect it does.  Read writers whose work you dislike and try to figure out what they're doing wrong so that you can avoid making the same mistakes. Also: It's important to invest in the tools of your craft.  In making an investment, you prove - to others and, more importantly, to yourself - that you are serious about this thing.  To that end, you need a workspace - doesn't have to be fancy, but it ought to be yours and accessible to you on a regular basis.  You need a word processor or computer; a good dictionary, an almanac, a copy of Strunk and White's Elements of Style, and a thesaurus. You need a copy of Writer's Market, which is a directory of magazine publishers.  It lists the kind of material they're looking for, the contact persons and the prices they pay.  Also, get yourself a subscription to Writer's Digest; it's a monthly magazine that deals with the craft of writing, but also the business of it.  The magazine provides a great crash course for young writers. Finally, assuming you have any cash left over, you might want to pick up a copy of Stephen King's On Writing.  It's a memoir of the craft that I found inspirational and instructive.
I still haven't picked up that Stephen King book yet. I might want to do that.

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Facing the Force of Angry Star Wars Fans



Last June, I wrote an article on Medium.com about Star Wars fans who make money creating videos expressing their anger at Disney diversifying the Star Wars Universe. I commented on the phenomenon, took their arguments and countered them, dissecting one particular creator's opinions, and finally extrapolated how he sees the world to include attacking his misunderstanding of hip-hop culture.

Last week, the online group "The Fandom Menace" found my article. They circulated it on social media and huffed and puffed their viewpoints without responding directly to what I wrote.

They did what they do - they pushed their views, got their likes, and shared their opinion with their followers. That is their community and the issues they choose to bond over. More power to them.

But I was curious how my article was found. The first account to mention me was an anti-Rian Johnson account.



But how did he find it a year after it was published? It had over 1,000 reads on Medium.com, but that's not a lot. The picture I created for the article is one of the top images when if you google the creator's name - that could be how it was discovered.

Interestingly, the article was also circulated on twitter by a bot with 0 followers, 1 following and 40 tweets between June 29th and August 3rd. My article was mentioned in 8 of the account's 40 tweets, many of which were replies to discussions.




I don't even promote myself as much as this bot promoted me.

According to Medium.com's internal analytics, my article was read over 40 times on that one day. That was significantly more than the 5-10 daily reads the article was averaging since its publication over a year ago.

I guess that's the life of a writer - you never know when your work will instigate discussion.

As far as the social media debate the "Fandom Menace" tried to drag me into, that ended when I told them I wasn't interested in engaging on twitter. I posted a screenshot of an email I sent to the video creator alerting him when I published my article. The creator never replied. Email conversations don't make ad money.



Monday, July 15, 2019

Did Braun Strowman comment on my blog?



Many years ago, when this blog started, I wrote a lot about sports. But I didn't write what other people wrote about. I tried to find the most obscure angles to current sports stories.

One obscure angle I took in July 2007 was to compare then-baseball star Barry Bonds to home run leaders in other leagues such as the Japanese League, the Negro Leagues, and American softball leagues. Entitled "Barry Bonds has a long way to go", it was a fun post that got a few comments and if memory serves me well, was linked on Deadspin.com, which was a big deal back then for independent blogs with small audiences.

(Btw, it turns out, Bonds's 762 home runs fell far short of these historic sluggers.)

One of the softball home run legends I profiled was Rick "The Crusher" Scherr. I wrote about Scherr's amazing ability to crush softballs and his over 4,000 home runs.


Typical of internet snarkiness, one of the commentors on my blog post didn't believe someone could hit so many home runs, even in softball. The commentor claimed I made up some of the names.

Following that comment were people vouching for the softball legends, including this comment:



For years, I didn't think anything of that particular comment as family members, fans, and former teammates all commented on the validity of the softball sluggers.

Recently, however, I discovered that Rick Scherr has a very famous son. The given name of WWE Superstar Braun Strowman is Adam Scherr. After a bit of research, I discovered Rick Scherr had two children, Adam and his younger sister Hannah.

If my Anonymous commenter is indeed a Scherr family member (there is always the possibility it is not), in 2007, Adam would have been 24 years old and Hannah would have been 20. According to wikipedia, in 2007, Adam Scherr was working as a mechanic and doorman and playing semi-pro football. Rick Scherr's awards could have been hanging in either of the siblings' own houses or in the family house - the "my" not being indicative of a separate house.

Although it is possible the comment was written by Hannah Scherr, I like to think it was written by a bored Adam, years away from wrestling greatness, spending his day reading sports websites, wondering where his life is going, and defending his father's legacy on a small random blog.

While many wrestlers can attest to "getting those hands", how many blogs can say they "got these words"?

Saturday, July 6, 2019

Jon Stewart and Leadership on Display in Tampa



Recently I had the pleasure of meeting comic legend Jon Stewart. He was in town supporting the 2019 Warrior Games, a series of athletic events involving wounded military members from the US and several other countries. He has supported the Warrior Games as spokesperson for several years.

I noticed a few things about Jon Stewart while he was here in Tampa. One, I didn't realize how short he was. I am 6'1 and he was quite shorter than I am. I thought he would be taller.

But more importantly, I realized firsthand how Jon Stewart worked with people. Throughout the ceremonies and at the events, I never once saw one of the most famous comedians in America put himself first. He was an amplifier and cheerleader of the real attractions of the event: the disabled veteran athletes of the US Armed Forces.

At the Opening Ceremonies, Stewart served as an MC, handing the floor to Generals, the teams, and local politicians who spoke about the event. The famous comedian was just there to facilitate.

At the Closing Ceremonies, Stewart even went so far to step to the rear-most part of the stage while the athletes were getting their awards. Although he brought attention to the athletes and to his other efforts with the 9/11 responders, he wanted little credit himself.

Then I realized stepping aside is a common trait for Jon Stewart. On The Daily Show, Stewart served as MC, letting his correspondents report and his guests tell their story. Although he got his jokes in, Stewart was the pilot as he was at the Warrior Games.

Of course, The Daily Show prospered under Stewart's stewardship. But it also spawned several other shows and careers, to include Stephen Colbert, Steve Carrell, Samantha Bee, Ed Helms, and John Oliver. Jon Stewart let those careers grow under his watch.

Other writers have noticed Jon Stewart's positive leadership. In this Inc. article, they listed 5 leadership traits that Stewart displayed at The Daily Show.

  • Work harder than everyone else.
  • Surround yourself with better people.
  • Demonstrate humble intelligence and polite sincerity.
  • Learn to ask questions and listen.
  • Find your daily “Moment of Zen.”

Likewise, a recent Forbes article pointed out Stewart's ability to challenge the status quo, inspire collaboration, and inspire purpose. Business Insider called Stewart a "superboss" because of his ability to promote other's careers.

I wonder how many of these leadership traits were learned and how many came naturally to Jon Stewart. Where did he learn the confidence to put others first? Was it learned in improv, where you are only as good as your partner on stage? Did he have a mentor? Was these traits learned as the leader of The Daily Show? Or was it something Jon brought to comedy from an earlier age?

However he learned it, I would buy a book on leadership by Jon Stewart. 

Monday, June 24, 2019

Jon Stewart looks for the Warrior Games Torch in Tampa

The 2019 Warrior Games is being held in Tampa, Florida this week. The Warrior Games is a competition involving wounded military members of the US Armed Forces and several other national militaries, to include the Brits, Canadians, Australians, and more.

Like other international Olympic games, the Warrior Games begins with a torch lightning ceremony. But unfortunately, before the event could begin in Tampa, the torch was missing. Special Operations Command - the US Military's elite forces - had to call in the only man with the skill to find the torch and bring it home:

Jon Stewart

Stewart and his team of local celebrities, Mayor Jane Castor, WWE Superstar Titus O'Neil, Warrior Games athlete SSG Lauren Montoya, and City Councilman Luis Viera hunted throughout Tampa for the torch.

While on his hunt for the torch, Titus O'Neil boarded a Tampa trolley. Meanwhile, I was minding my business, riding the trolley, wondering what I was going to eat for lunch. Suddenly, I was approached by the hulking WWE superstar who thought I was hiding something.

I was petrified. I had to swear I didn't have the torch. Luckily, soon after, they found the perps - Thunderbug, mascot of the Tampa Bay Lightning, and former mayor Bob Buckhorn.