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.





Friday, June 14, 2019

Yoga moms stealing Hip-Hop Culture



I have been a Hip-Hop fan since the early 1990s. I remember being into MC Hammer and the Fresh Price in middle school which led to liking LL Cool J and Public Enemy in junior high. By high school, I was engulfed in Hip-Hop, collecting everything I could of Wu-Tang, Nas, 2Pac, Redman, and Ice Cube. I traded tapes, borrowed CD's, and recorded radio shows.

But as a white middle class kid in the Florida suburbs, I was detached from the core of hip-hop. Even though the content of hip-hop spoke to me - the idea of getting out of your current struggle and making life better - hip-hop was never really mine. I could enjoy it, I could talk about it, and I could be as big of a fan as possible, but I could never be truly of the culture.

As I grew as a Hip-Hop fan, I started participating in the culture. I wrote freelance articles on local artists, I posted youtube videos of local concerts, and I even got to interview legends. Meanwhile, I grew frustrated with those appropriating the culture. People who looked like me from my upbringing in White America claiming Hip-Hop for their own and never acknowledging the roots of the music or giving back in any way.

Hip-Hop, while being open to all cultures and people, is protective of its cultural roots, possibly because Black culture saw what happened to the Blues and Jazz. But Hip-Hop can't protect against all those who rock the music but miss the message.

White Hip-Hop fans need to call out people who look like them who are disrespecting Hip-Hop.

My least favorite offenders of Hip-Hop appropriation are white middle aged women, typical "yoga moms". Yoga moms are as far removed from the struggle of Hip-Hop culture as possible. Many have come from comfortable middle class upbringings, went to predominantly white colleges, and live in predominantly white suburbs. Yet they have claimed parts of Hip-Hop for their own without adding anything to the culture.

For example, the "Pour some coffee, put your hair in a bun, put on some gangsta rap, and deal with it" phrase is appropriation at best, exploitation at worst. Gangsta rap is not for Starbucks drinking, minivan driving, soccer moms. Etsy stores selling gangsta rap slogans should be called out and chastised.

I though nothing could be worse. Then I saw a predominantly white yoga studio poll its instagram followers whether they should hang up a portrait of deceased Hip-Hop and R&B legends.

No. No. No. No. No.

That's not yours. You shouldn't have that and you shouldn't hang it up. And leave Hip-Hop culture alone.

Sunday, June 2, 2019

The Serious Tip AfroSquad Commercial

With the relaunch of this website, I thought it only fitting to dust off a old commercial for this site filmed by the AfroSquad.



There is still no stock market information here.

Monday, May 13, 2019

The Tall Tale of Rube Bellweather




The tradition of avoiding pitchers during their throwing of a no-hitter started in the 1890s when a pitcher named Rube Bellweather of the Atlanta Confederates refused to shower while he was doing well. During a lengthy streak of success, Bellweather’s odor began to wear on his team. No one said anything, however, as he continued to pitch well and the team continued to win.

During one game, the odoriferous Bellweather was particularly effective, holding the opposing team without a hit through seven innings. As it was a typical Atlanta day, with the temperature well over 90 degrees and a stifling humidity caressing the air, Bellweather’s body odor was too much to bear for his teammates. When in the dugout they purposefully avoided him, staying to one side or even leaping the barriers and sitting with the fans to watch their teammates at bat.

Unfortunately for Bellweather’s teammates, they had trouble of their own at the plate as the opposing pitcher also held them hitless through eight innings. After a scoreless and hitless ninth, tenth, and then eleventh innings, and a growing gross aroma permeating from Bellweather, his team decided to take matters into their own hands. In the bottom of the twelfth inning, Bellweather’s teammates pulled a defensive mutiny on the pitcher, dropping fly balls, kicking ground balls, and throwing the ball all over the field until three runs scored.

But the bottom of the twelfth brought positive tidings for the hometown nine. After quickly getting two outs, the opposing hurler hit the next two Atlanta hitters and issued a walk to load the bases. Bellweather himself strode to the plate with an odor so raunchy neither the umpire nor the opposing catcher could look in the direction of either the pitcher on the mound or the pitcher at the plate. Fortunately, they needn’t hold their breath nor watch the action for long. Bellweather swung at the first offering and hit the ball far beyond the outfield field fence for a game winning grand slam. In honor of Bellweather’s heroics and his teammates’ poor actions, the tradition of avoiding a pitcher while he is throwing a no-hitter continued.

Sunday, May 5, 2019

Detained by Stormtroopers in Clearwater, Florida


I recently acquired Jedi robes. I bought them from an ancient dealer of fine attire in the cyberspace realm of the Amazon. They have served me well. Although not a Jedi, I do consider myself strong with the Force. Due to the cost of the Jedi Academy, I could never afford to be properly trained in the art of the Jedi. And now I am too old to begin my training. But wearing the robes of the Jedi is to me akin to wearing the sports jersey of my favorite team. I am showing my support to the cause.

So it was apropos that I wear my Jedi garb to Star Wars Night at the Clearwater Threshers baseball game. It was a fun night at the ballpark, good food, good people, and a great fireworks show.

Until I was detained. Apparently, Clearwater is under the rule of the Empire and had the 501st Legion patrolling the premises, looking for Jedi. Luckily, they let me go. I may or may not have used an amateur Jedi mind trick on them.

I'm glad I didn't bring the lightsaber I acquired on the moon of Ord Mantell.

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Review of Ice Cube's Everythang's Corrupt



I haven't written about music in a while, but a new Ice Cube album is great reason to get back to it.

I grew up on Ice Cube. Without knowing anything about Ice Cube, The Predator was the first CD I ever owned. I asked for it for Christmas 1992 on the strength of the Wicked video. I didn't know anything about Cube's history, NWA, or his political views. For a suburban white kid who owned MC Hammer, Kid'N'Play, and the Fresh Prince, Ice Cube was eye-opening. He was punk, metal, and everything my parents didn't want me to listen to.

(This was when rap surpassed heavy metal as White America's most objected music. Parents went from being  scared of Satan and suicide to objecting to anti-police and pro-Black messaging. The early 90s were an interesting cultural zeitgeist.)

After Cube's Lethal Injection album, I tuned out. I migrated into a rock/post-grunge phase only picking up the occasional Wu-Tang, Def Squad, or Boot Camp Clik album. By the time I got back into hip-hop, Cube was making club songs with the Westside Connection and had gotten into acting. He wasn't the angry political commentator of years before.

With the election of Donald Trump, I predicted political hip-hop would make a resurgence. The anti-Trump movement was too powerful for hip-hop not to capitalize. Sure enough, artists who have rarely been political such as Snoop Dogg have released songs or images bashing President Trump. With that in mind, an Ice Cube comeback was not surprising. It was almost expected.

Ice Cube has an interesting background with Donald Trump, however. Besides citing Trump as a rich stereotype in a song (as most rappers in the '90s did) , Cube was also misquoted as supporting Donald Trump in a 2016 interview. In the interview (see below) Cube says "Trump is what every American aspires to be" but advises that Trump will have a problem relating to poor people.



Ice Cube wasn't angry at Donald Trump in 2016, although he did later tweet that he would never vote for that "m*therf*cker". So where does the anger at Trump come from? The song "Arrest the President", while good, lacks detail. None of the verses back up Cube's claim that Trump is Russian intelligence.

Where Ice Cube does have legitimacy is his anger towards white supremacists, who he talks about in "Arrest the President" and in "Chase Down the Bully". Cube discusses their hypocrisy and their bullying tactics and meets their aggression with his own.

Other positives on the album are the Parliament tribute "That New Funkadelic", "Everythangs Corrupt", and the final track "Good Cop, Bad Cop", which quotes Ice Cube's verse in NWA's "F*ck the Police".

After the aforementioned songs, the rest of the album misses the mark. After going for the jugular and attacking the President and the enforcers of systematic racism, Ice Cube then attacks drug dealers and users. That angle might have worked in NWA's "Dope Man", when Ice Cube's vision was limited to the streets of Compton, but with a huge platform and a vision from the boardroom, Ice Cube should be attacking the systems that keep people poor and on drugs. Instead of going after pill users, he should be going after doctors prescribing or corporations producing and marketing opiods and other drugs.

Another negative I have with the album is that Ice Cube doesn't dip into the well enough. Although he quotes his "F*ck the Police" verse in "Good Cop, Bad Cop", he would have been well-suited to drop other references to his classic works throughout the album. He would frequently reference his previous albums during his prime, I am not sure why he opted to do so now. This would have made his intro much stronger, where instead of saying he is the Super OG (his new gimmick name), he could have said the N*gga You Love to Hate (his old gimmick name).

Other problems I have with the album include Ice Cube's lack of song direction and lyrical missteps. For example, the song "Fire Water" is particularly a mess. It not about anything and during the journey to nowhere Ice Cube calls Princess Leia a "crazy bitch". Why did Ice Cube think calling a feminist hero a crazy bitch was a good idea? With so many other crazy women to choose from (any on reality TV, for example, or a Kardashian), that was one example of a really bad lyric.

Other bad lyrics include, but are not limited to:
  • "it's not even fair at the state fair" - "Arrest the President"
  • "Nobody serving Cube but maids and waiters" - "Streets Shed Tears"
  • "Yup, the guys call me Samson, I'm dangerous with a Samsung" - "Non Believers"

I hate to say this, but Ice Cube may have needed a co-writer.

Everythangs Corrupt is not Paris's Sonic Jihad, the Coup's Party Music, or anything from Public Enemy or Dead Prez. It also definitely isn't Kendrick Lamar's To Pimp a Butterfly. Socio-political rap has soared since the days of AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted. Early in his career, Ice Cube kicked in doors and continued where he left off with NWA. These days, he seems to have lost his fastball. His best now would be an average track on his first four albums.

Perhaps on his next album, Ice Cube needs to dip further into his past. Releasing a track with Chuck D would be helpful. Having cameos from Paris and Kendrick Lamar would great as well. Not since Mack-10 has Ice Cube brought up new rappers, maybe the time is now.

But then again, when you have your own basketball league bankrolled by the Qataris and you have another Friday movie and another Ride Along movie coming out, maybe you only have energy for one good pitch per album. Maybe you want to save your fastball for other fields.

Of course, I can't hate on Ice Cube for putting his energy into his other passions. The Big 3 and his movies have done very well. He is a multi-media superstar who has transcended music and become an entertainment icon. But can hip-hop take an entertainment icon seriously? Should listeners believe Ice Cube is legitimately angry at the system that has paid him millions?

I do believe Ice Cube still has some anger left in him. He still looks at the world through his perspective. But I believe in his time away from music he has regressed as a socio-political voice in hip-hop. Whereas in years past he could make an album that had meaning from top to bottom, today he is good for a few good songs and a solid tribute to George Clinton.

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Excellent interview with fellow FSView Alumni Khuong Phan



Years ago, I wrote for the FSView and Florida Flambeau, the unofficial newspaper of Florida State University. Writing for the FSView was an awesome experience as it got me really into writing for purpose and introduced me to great people, both in the community and in the FSView office.

One of the people I had the pleasure of working with was Khuong Phan. Khuong was one of my editors and was a great person to work for. While I explored the outsider communities, Khuong often wrote about his family or his fraternity - and not the stereotypical frat dude way. He wrote in a very humanistic style that made you relate and grow with him.

After graduating, Khuong went on to write for local newspapers and then moved to New York City and Los Angeles to do public relations for the food industry. He has made a great career of writing about food, chefs, and restaurants. Recently, he was interviewed for the website CulinaryAgents.com. It is a great interview that provides insight into Khuong's life and career lessons.

Of his many answers, this was my favorite:
Don’t simply chase money or title. I promise you that if you do something well enough for a long enough time, both of those things will come your way. Instead aim for the opportunities that will provide you the strongest connections, access to the people you admire and the experiences you find most fulfilling. These things really pay off in a major way down the line. Your career is a long arc, so play the long game.

This answer is so good and so Khuong.

Monday, January 21, 2019

PowerPoint Platforms and Coming Back to Comedy

I did stand-up comedy years ago. I wasn't very good. I wasn't very good because I didn't do it enough to be good. But like most comics, I got better as I went along. I was terrible in Tampa, ok in Ocala, and got a few laughs in Lakeland.

Then the bombing Afghanistan happened.

That was 2012. I have barely been on stage since. I like to say I left Afghanistan with PTSD - post-traumatic silence disorder. That's what happens when a comic gets so shook after a bad set they never get back on stage.

But a recent article in Vulture.com made me think that maybe in 2019 is the year I return to comedy.

Entitled "Why is PowerPoint Having a Comedy Moment?", the article discusses how several comics are blending PowerPoint presentations into their sets. I am great at PowerPoint. I can do that.

I know, I know. Comedy is about being funny first, props and gimmicks second. Comedy isn't a TED Talk, the audience should be focused on the performer, not words on a screen. But that's when I'll make a slide with a big arrow pointing back to me. The eyes of the audience will follow the arrow back to me. Easy as microwavable pie.

As a medium, PowerPoint is easy for comedy. Every slide can build suspense opening the door for a visual twist. Images also keep people interested if the comic is not. Slides give the audience something read.

And I've already made a presentation that is perfect for comedy: my Guide to Winning a Woman's Interest.





To date, this video has only has 177 views on YouTube. But what if I brought it to comedy shows? What if my entire YouTube channel was filled with funny presentations?

Comedy is calling me again and my perfect platform is PowerPoint.