Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Way Back WhensDay: Danger Mouse

Danger Mouse
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

When we first got cable in the early 1980's, I watched a lot of MTV and Nickelodeon.  There was something about both channels that kept kids glued to the set for hours at a time.  My favorites on Nick included You Can't Do That on Television, Mr. Wizard's World, and Danger Mouse.  I've blogged about the first two shows before, today I'm focusing on the animated masterpiece about a secret agent rodent.

Danger Mouse originated in England before making his way to the airwaves in the USA in 1984.  He spoke with a British accent and wore a patch over one eye.  He was Mighty Mouse meets James Bond. Danger Mouse was always up to something as we worked to save the world from villainous schemers like Baron Silas Greenback, Nero, and Leatherhead.  But like any good superhero, DM had a bumbling sidekick.  A chubby hamster named Penfold usually found himself in some sort of jam, and Danger Mouse would have to save him.  His expression "Oh crumbs!" is burned in my memory.

Poster mouse for secret agents
So is the theme song to Danger Mouse.  I can still hear it playing on the little TV in our kitchen as I would tune in and watch.  I was only 11 back then, but fondly remember the show and its cast of many characters, all animals, many not traditionally used in the world of animation.  Up until then, I don't remember any shows with a hamster, chinchilla, or caterpillar as primary characters.

I watched Danger Mouse for years, but for some reason the cartoon never really caught on with my other friends.  I didn't realize how popular the show actually was with worldwide viewers until reading up on it online.  In fact, a British TV station named it the third greatest kids' TV show behind The Muppet Show and The Simpsons.  That's pretty impressive.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Solution for Part-Timer Mania

Photo courtesy:
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

Right now, there are only two matches officially announced for Wrestlemania XXX, and a couple of rumored ones.  I'm confident enough in the rumored ones to go ahead and move forward with this blog. The Undertaker will be taking on Brock Lesnar and Randy Orton will defend the WWE World Heavyweight Title against Batista.  It looks like we're going to get Daniel Bryan versus Triple H too (I have a theory on that match, but I'll wait until it's officially added to explain).

Brock Lesnar & Paul Heyman
Photo courtesy:
Those three matches only feature two full time WWE Superstars, Bryan and Orton.  Batista is back after a four year hiatus, but for how long?  Triple H hasn't wrestled since last year's Wrestlemania.  Undertaker had two matches in 2013, the last one being in April.  Lesnar only wrestles on pay per view, and the big ones at that.  But Wrestlemania rolls around and the part-timers get a chance to shine.  

I'm not complaining, I've done that before.  What I'm  offering up today is a solution to what I (and other fans) see as a problem.  I get the reasons for bringing back some of the past stars.  I don't agree with it totally, especially putting them in a title match, but as history has proven, it's a profitable idea.

Dolph Zigger vs. Titus O'Neil
Photo courtesy:
Anyway, I think guys like Damien Sandow, Dolph Ziggler, and Wade Barrett will be forgotten on the biggest show of the year.  Six months down the road, it'll be those guys who are still working day in and day out for the company.  Triple H will be back in his suit calling the shots on Raw.  Undertaker will likely be on sabbatical.  Batista will be doing a movie or trying to reboot his MMA career.  Brock Lesnar will be doing occasional run-ins.  You get my point.

MITB Wrestlemania 26
Photo courtesy:
So instead of leaving the above mentioned Superstars and others like Kofi Kingston, the Miz, and Cesaro on the Wrestlemania sidelines this year, I think the WWE should bring back The Money in the Bank ladder match.  Now that there is just one title to compete for, I think they could easily pull the plug on the MITB PPV and return the match to its original roots.  It's going to take some work creating title contenders with the lower level talent, but it can be done.

MITB Wrestlemania 21
Photo courtesy:
There have been some great MITB matches at Wrestlemania.  It'll be nice to see it back on the show and a chance for a half dozen or more Superstars get a few minutes to shine on wrestling's biggest day. That would still give the part-timers a chance to have a swan song and the up and comers and current stars the opportunity to show off their skills.  What do you think?

Monday, February 24, 2014

Eliminating Audience Interest

By Chad Smart@chadsmart & @my123cents on Twitter
WWE’s Elimination Chamber 2014 is in the books. The show itself was a very entertaining show with a Match of the Year candidate in The Shield vs. Wyatt Family and a competitive Elimination Chamber match. In my opinion there was no “bad” match on the show. If you didn’t see the pay per view, I would recommend checking it out if you get a chance.
That said, we are six weeks from Wrestlemania and based on results from the Royal Rumble and Elimination Chamber and fan reaction to certain Superstars, WWE either needs to change creative direction or risk the main event at Wrestlemania to be met with enough fan apathy to make it seem like a dark match between two unknown talents.  
By virtue of winning the Royal Rumble match, Batista will challenge Randy Orton for the WWE Title. During Elimination Chamber, the WWE Universe made it pretty obvious this is not a match they care to see. During his match against Alberto Del Rio, Batista was met with chants of BOOTISTA. The crowd also gave Del Rio probably a bigger face reaction during the match then he ever got during his short-term face run a couple years ago. At various points during the Elimination Chamber match, champion Randy Orton was also met with boos and non-favorable cheers.
Ever since winning, and then losing, the WWE title at SummerSlam 2013, the logical closing moment of Wrestlemania has been Daniel Bryan overcoming the odds and winning the WWE title to cement his place in WWE history.  However, after three straight pay per views where he was cheated out of the title by The Authority followed by being left out of the Royal Rumble match and losing the Elimination Chamber due to interference by Kane, WWE is risking fans accepting the guy they want to see as champion will never get the belt and tuning out due to not being satisfied.  
Last year, fans were excited for Dolph Ziggler to cash in his Money in the Bank briefcase and become champion. One title defense later where Ziggler lost the title, he has fallen back to mid-card purgatory and fan reaction has cooled off. In 2012, Zack Ryder got himself over with the fans with a YouTube show. A short run as US Champion and getting treated like a lovelorn sap crushing on Eve was all Ryder got out of his popularity. These days you’re more likely to see a guest appearance from an Attitude Era star than you do of seeing Zack Ryder on Raw.
Because of the track record with wrestlers the fans have chosen to organically support and then watch as WWE fails to capitalize on that support, I wonder if WWE fans will start to look for other forms of entertainment that don’t leave them frustrated and upset.  I know I am in the section of the fan base which will watch no matter what because I have the “sickness” but what about casual fans who have other interests? Will they reach a point where enough is enough and they turn to other forms of entertainment for satisfaction?  
Kevin and I will be at Wrestlemania, and to be honest, I’m hoping WWE sticks with the Orton/Batista match. Not because I want to see the match, but because I want to say I was there when 80,000 people hijacked a show and gave the best worst Wrestlemania moment.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Elimination Chamber Predictions

By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

Friday I posted a video with my predictions on the upcoming Elimination Chamber pay per view.  Today, I just wanted to share a few more thoughts.  I like doing videos, but always think of points I wanted to make after the fact.

Orton with the gold
Photo courtesy: WWE
Even though I'd rather just about anyone else on the roster be the WWE World Heavyweight champion right now, Randy Orton has done a good job of playing the heel champion since winning both belts back in December.  I've never been a huge fan, but obviously there are lots of people out there who love him.  I do think the Yes Movement with Daniel Bryan will lead to bigger and better things for the former Indy star in the coming months.

Cesaro vs. Bryan
Photo courtesy: WWE
The Chamber match should be excellent, considering the amount of talent in there.  I can't tell you how happy I am to see Cesaro as a part of this mix.  I don't have any reason to think he's going to win the gold Sunday night, but I have no doubt that he is going to excel in his first ever Chamber match.  I like the Real Americans gimmick too, but I've always thought Cesaro had that "it" factor to make run on his own.  Even after a stint as U.S. Champion, I think the rub from being in this match will do more for his career.  I'm crossing my fingers.

I think the title match will end with Orton walking out as champion and leading to the much dreaded Batista-Orton title match at Wrestlemania XXX.  But I think something will either happen during the Chamber match or the next night on Raw that will change the complexion of things.  I don't know what it'll be, but I've gotta think the WWE creative doesn't really think that Orton-Batista is "best for business" at this milestone Mania.

I'm looking most forward to The Wyatt Family vs. The Shield.  The WWE has done a great job leading us to this match, which I thought would have made a great Mania match, but reading the online rumors, the company has different plans for each team come Wrestlemania.  All six competitors are very talented and in my opinion are the future of the WWE.  I can see a tag team title reign in the near future for Luke Harper and Erick Rowan as well as individual gold for the Bray Wyatt, Roman Reigns, and Seth Rollins.

Speaking of tag teams, I hope the Usos win the belts from the New Age Outlaws.  It's not that I don't enjoy Billy Gunn and The Road Dogg, but I think their time as champs came and went a decade ago.  I'm going out on a limb and assuming they're back for this one last reign and then they'll put over the next team and hopefully help to rebuild the division, which in the last couple of months has been in shambles.

The Prime Time Players splitting up is just one example of that.  I believe Titus O'Neil and Darren Young made a great team.  I enjoyed them even more when Abraham Washington was still around.  I'm not sure who's going to be the "Marty Jannetty" of this team, as I think they both have a ton of potential.  Maybe they'll end up like Christian and Edge and both enjoy singles careers.  I believe on Sunday Young will win the first match against his ex-partner.

Big E Langston will retain the Intercontinental title against Jack Swagger, The Rhodes Brothers should beat Team RybAxel, unless they're leading to some kind of split and a match between Cody and Goldust at Wrestlemania, and Batista will destroy Alberto Del Rio.  

What are your thoughts?  

Friday, February 21, 2014

Hulk Rules! Again

Photo courtesy: WWE
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents

As many have been speculating for the last several weeks, the WWE has announced that Hulk Hogan is coming back to the company.  He's scheduled to be at Raw on Monday (February 24) and will serve as host of Wrestlemania.  I don't know what all the duties of host will entail, but I imagine it will be similar to the role the Rock had at Wrestlemania XXVII a few years ago.

I know I'm a hypocrite when it comes to Hulk Hogan.  I've bashed him before, but I'm glad to see that he is coming back to the WWE.  It's his home.  To me, it never felt right when he left in 1993 and signed with WCW a year later.  I always thought Hogan belonged in the company that he played a role in launching into the national spotlight so many years ago.

Hogan vs. Andre
Photo courtesy: WWE
I don't necessarily want to see the Hulkster wrestle again, as I know his health has been an issue in recent years, but I wouldn't scoff at the idea of it. It would have to be a one time deal.  I don't want to see him on the full time roster, because there are too many guys coming back and taking valuable space from the up and coming Superstars.  Let's face it though, Hogan is a LEGEND, and the WWE is smart to bring him back for this milestone Mania and the launch of the WWE Network.  To quote Triple H, it really is best for business.

As many of you know, we'll be in New Orleans for Wrestlemania XXX.  I'll be on my feet cheering for the Hulkster, I don't know if Chad will join me.  But Hulkmania will run wild at least for the day, and he's back home.  I for one am glad to see it happening, brother.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

1-2-3 You're In the Hall of Fame

Hogan and the Hebners
Photo courtesy: WWE
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

Referees have long been an important part of any professional wrestling match.  When I was a kid, it seemed like I knew the names of all or most of the officials in the match.  Now, I would be lucky to name more than just a few refs.  I think that's a sign of the times, as they don't seem to be worked into matches like they used to, or maybe it's that announcers don't bother to include them during commentary most of the time.

As of right now, there are no referees in the WWE Hall of Fame.  Sure, there are men (and women) who have served as special guest referees, but not one pure ref from back in the day.  There are plenty of outstanding refs who deserve a spot in the Hall of Fame.  I think once there's an actual physical building, the WWE should include a Referee Wing to go along with the Celebrity Wing.  

Danny Davis
So if the company were to induct a ref, who would be the first to get the honor?  There are plenty to chose from including Danny Davis who went from ref to wrestler back to ref in the WWF.  Nick Patrick and Teddy Long were notorious as well.   World Class Championship Wrestling ref Bronko Lubich was memorable to me for many reasons.  He and David Manning were two of my favorites growing up and watching WCCW.  Dick Woerhle, Dick Kroll, Tim White, and Jim Korderas all stand out to me also.

I like all the names mentioned obviously, but here are my three top choices. I'm basing my decision on memorable moments for each of these men and my personal enjoyment of said ref.

Ric Flair & Tommy Young
Tommy Young may be the best wrestling referee of all time.  He was an NWA/WCW guy so I don't think the WWE would make him the first to go into the HOF.  Young worked some of the greatest matches in wrestling  history, including the Ric Flair-Ricky Steamboat series of matches.  As I write this, Tommy Young is the ONLY NWA referee I actually remember.  He helped the wrestlers in the match tell their story.  His emotions and close counts in those Flair-Steamboat matches helped fans get more invested into the contests.

Joey Marella
The late Joey Marella was one of my favorite refs as a kid.  He didn't really stand out for any particular reason.  I think his claim to fame came at Wrestlemania III and that perceived three-count he made in the early moments of the Hulk Hogan-Andre the Giant match.  Jesse Ventura called him out on it during commentary and Bobby Heenan would later criticize the botched count too.  After that Marella was a house hold name.  I'm not sure when I figured it out, but Joey is the son of WWE Hall of Famer Gorilla Monsoon.  Sadly, Marella died in a car crash in 1994.

Earl Hebner and "The Screwjob" 
Earl Hebner is a part of wrestling history from a couple of big matches.  He first officiated the rematch between Hogan and Andre on Main Event in 1988.  This time Andre did win, but we learned that Hebner had been bought off by the Million Dollar Man Ted DiBiase.  Controversy lingered around Hebner in 1997 when he called for the bell during the Bret Hart-Shawn Michaels WWF Title match at Survivor Series.  It's all a part of the Montreal Screwjob.  I didn't remember this, but Hebner apparently beat WCW ref Nick Patrick in a match during the Invasion Angle of 2001.  Hebner has cashed in on his notoriety and is still working as a ref, but now for TNA.

There are plenty of great referees now who have had Hall of Fame worthy careers, including Charles Robinson, Scott Armstrong, and Mike Chioda.  Who are your picks?

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Rest In Peace Big Daddy V

Big Daddy V in action
Photo courtesy: WWE 
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

I woke up this morning to the news that Nelson Frazier, Jr. had died.  For those who aren't wrestling fans and are reading this, Frazier was a wrestler known as Mabel, King Mabel, Viscera, and Big Daddy V through the years.  He was only 43 years old, just two years older than me.

Mabel as Doink
Photo courtesy: WWE
I first discovered Frazier when he entered the WWF in 1993 as Mabel.  It was his rookie year in the business.  He and his partner Mo were paired with a manager named Oscar and the trio was known as Men On a Mission.  They wore purple and gold and rapped their way to the ring.  I'll admit I wasn't huge fans of the team, but I did enjoy when they showed up at Survivor Series 93 dressed as Doink the Clown.

King Mabel
Photo courtesy: WWE
Even when they turned heel I was still luke warm to the team. Mabel went on to become the King of the Ring and challenge guys like then WWF champion Diesel and The Undertaker, but he never really excelled with the gimmick.  He eventually became a demonic character and joined Undertaker's Ministry of Darkness, teaming with Mideon.  

Squeal like a pig...
Photo courtesy: WWE
It wasn't until he evolved into another character a few years later that I really began enjoying him.  The silk-pajama wearing love machine Big Daddy V provided some entertainment in the mid 2000's.  He found himself teaming with another ladies man in Val Venis.  Big Daddy V had a brief fling with Lilian Garcia.  Eventually he would turn on her after she told him they could only be friends.

Big Daddy V & Matt Striker
Photo courtesy: WWE
Matt Striker soon stepped in and managed repackaged and less fun loving version of Big Daddy V.  He participated in the Monsters Ball on ECW and feuded with Kane.  I feel like that gimmick and the PJ wearing ladies man were his two best.  I know he did a lot of indy work in between his stints with the WWE.  Frazier entertained crowds for more than 20 years and he will be missed. Our condolences to his family, friends, and fans.  Rest in peace Big Daddy V.

Way Back WhensDay: Cat's Eye

Cat's Eye
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents

Growing up in the 70's and 80's, we didn't have iPads or iPods or even Game Boys to play with.  Sure, we had our Nintendo or Atari, but the one thing a lot of families did to pass the time was play board games.  It was a regular practice around the Hunsperger home, and we'd play everything from Monopoly to Trouble to my personal favorite Cat's Eye.

The game probably isn't very well known or remembered by the people of my generation.  For some reason though, this game always appealed to me.  It came with four boards with indentations in them to hold marbles.  Those indentations formed the shape of a cat.  The object was to collect the corresponding colored marbles and fill up your board.  There were just four black marbles, which of course were the cat's eye.  Once your board was filled and the eye was in place you won.

Cat's Eye
The marbles came from a large bowl on a platform that had four exits with a pump (lack of a better word) on each side.  Because the pumping produced all sorts of colors, the player would have to dump the three other colors back into the bowl.  It probably sounds pretty simplistic, but I spent countless hours playing this game and many others with my mom, dad, and brother.  

When I was in fifth grade, and we were clearing out the game closet to make room for more, I donated the game to my classroom.  On rainy days when we couldn't have recess outside, I'd find myself at the game table playing again, sharing the fun times with my classmates and friends.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Dear WWE: Make Undertaker vs. John Cena Happen

It would be the ultimate showdown
Photo courtesy: WWE
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

WWE recently released some "dream matches" for Wrestlemania XXX.  Among the contests mentioned, one that we've talked about several times before: The Undertaker vs. John Cena.  If the WWE is ever going to do this match, this may be the best time to do it.  I know the two have crossed paths before, but it was years ago, never at Wrestlemania and before Cena rose to super stardom.

Of the current WWE roster, Cena is the only man on it right now who poses a credible threat to The Streak.  While I don't want to see Undertaker's streak come to an end, I do want to see someone in the ring with the Dead Man who at least poses a threat to the unbeaten Wrestlemania record.  Sure the WWE could have done a better job building up someone for this year's Wrestlemania, and as of this writing, who knows who for sure will be put into the match.  I suspect more questions will be answered after the February 24 episode of Raw.

Undertaker vs. Brock Lesnar
Photo courtesy WWE
Rumor has it that Brock Lesnar is going to be the one to wrestle Undertaker at Wrestlemania.  There are a number of reasons I don't want to see this match happen.  One, I'm not a big fan of part timers having such a big role at Wrestlemania. I understand the business/money aspect, but I don't agree with it.  I would much rather see Brock in a match where he's putting over someone on the current roster who could use the rub.  Being victim 22 for the Undertaker will do nothing for either man's career.

We've seen these two wrestle before, during Brock's first run with WWE.  I know that was a decade ago and both men have changed, but I'm not a big fan of high profile matches being repeated at Wrestlemania, even with this much time elapsed.   

Undertaker vs. John Cena
Photo courtesy: WWE
Unless Cena wins the WWE World Heavyweight Title at Elimination Chamber, I see no reason not to put him in there against the Undertaker.  Cena would be the biggest threat to the Streak, second only to Shawn Michaels' original attempt to end it back in 2009.   Cena has been in the main event or a title match at every Wrestlemania he has competed over the last decade.  Despite what the storylines say right now, he is the face of the company.  For his character to continue to grow, it only makes sense for him to WANT to end the Streak.  

Undertaker vs. Roman Reigns
Photo courtesy:  WWE
Wrestlemania XXX will be here before you know it, but it's not too soon to start thinking about the event in 2015.  If the company chooses to go with Undertaker-Brock this year, I'd still push for Undertaker-Cena at 31.  Daniel Bryan is fast becoming someone I could see stepping up to the plate and trying too.  I also like Roman Reigns and think he's going to be a major star sooner rather than later.  

As for the Sting rumors, while it would truly be something fans have never seen before, I can't imagine the former WCW champion's big debut being a loss to the Undertaker.  Conversely, I can't see the Undertaker's streak coming to an end against a guy who is nearing the end of his in-ring career.  I'm not saying don't have the match, but I don't think this year's Wrestlemania is the place for it.  

Half Marathon Full of Mistakes

Everyone get a medal
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

Over the weekend I completed my first half marathon.  I ran in the Fly with Eagles Half Marathon put together by the River to River Runners.  The 13.1 miles took runners through the Crab Orchard Wildlife Refuge with some beautiful scenery.  Despite some icy spots on the trail, it was a great course.

This is the first time I've run more than 10 miles.  When I finally crossed the finish line I was exhilarated, but I was also in a lot of pain.  Pain that I'm now learning I could have avoided had I been better prepared.  So I'm sharing the mistakes I made with you, just in case you ever feel the need to lace up and run any type of race.  By the way, I finished 27 out of 31 in my age group (40-44) with a time of 2:23:00.  My goal was to complete the race in 2:20:00, so I'm disappointed, but I did finish and never stopped running.

My shoes are now race retired
These Shoes Were (Not) Made for Running
My biggest mistake by far was not having a good pair of running shoes.  For more than a year now I've been running in a pair of Nike custom designed shoes my inlaws got me for Christmas several years ago.  I never really thought I was going to do more than just run 5Ks, so I never wanted to splurge on a pair of quality running shoes.  But in 2013, when I ran 500 miles my knees were in a lot of pain.  My wife told me then (and she's getting great pleasure in reading this) that I needed new shoes.  I continued to ignore her, because I'm an idiot, and kept running in these style over substance shoes.  Thanks to my parents, I now have a new pair of running shoes.

During the course of the half marathon, I could feel the pain coming on in my knees and thighs.  By mile seven I was hurting quite a bit and was cursing myself for not investing in some good shoes.  I slowed down significantly, but never stopped running.  My pace was 10:52 per mile.  My average on the last 5K I did was 8:09 per mile.  While I know my shoes were a reason for this, I also believe the bitter cold contributed.  It was 16 degrees when the race started.  I dressed in layers: a tshirt, long sleeve tshirt, and a hoodie.  I also wore gloves and a headband over my ears.  

Eat This, Not That
My eating habits the day before the race killed me too I think.  I did load up on carbs Friday night in the form of pizza.  There were probably better and healthier ways to accomplish that.  I also had several sodas the night before the race and didn't drink nearly as much water as I should have.  I admittedly skimped on the water the morning of the race because I didn't want to stop on the course to pee.  I did take advantage of almost all the water stations and had Gatorade at two of them.  One thing I did RIGHT on that morning was eating before the race.  I normally run on an empty stomach, but at the advice of a coworker who runs marathons, I had a bowl of oatmeal with peanut butter.  

Crossing the finish line
Photo by Ashley Smith
Charge It Up
Lastly, I ran without a fully charged iPhone.  I always listen to podcasts while running, as I feel like it helps the time go by faster over listening to music.  I think I'm too busy calculating the time when I have songs playing.  I can get lost in the conversation of a podcast and not focus so much time.  However, podcasts can be quite draining on the battery and I was only 80% charged before the race, so my phone died at the 12 mile mark.  The last mile was quiet, which is not necessarily bad, but I do like to have the sound of something to keep me moving.

So those were the mistakes I made.  I wasn't sure if I'd ever want to do this again, but I really do want another go at it, if nothing else to take what I've learned this time around and hopefully have a better experience.  Thanks to everyone who has been so supportive on Facebook and Twitter.  Your words of encouragement go a long way.  Now to start gearing up for that next race.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Be My Valentine

Sweet Brown
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

It's Valentine's Day.  I told my tale of despair and hope on this holiday in yesterday's offering.  Click here if you missed it.  Today, I'm having some fun with Valentine's I found online.  I stuck with the more family friendly versions, but there are plenty of good ones out there.  Most of these come from the site Tumblr.  Enjoy and Happy Heart Day to you.

Han Solo
Kayne West

Greg "The Hammer" Valentine

Paula Deen 
Lisa Simpson to Ralph Wiggum
Taylor Swift 

Thursday, February 13, 2014

She Loves Me Not

8th Grade me
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter
Listen to the podcast

For some reason, my self deprecating stories from the teenage years seem to be popular.  I don't write them to complain or seek pity, but instead to let young people struggling today know that they're not alone and to let adults know we were all in that same awkward and agonizing boat.  There's also a feel good part at the end, wait for it...

Today's tale is about Valentine's Day and  middle school.  What a dreadful combination.  In sixth grade I got glasses, and admittedly, they didn't do me any favors.  Along with the large hunk of plastic and metal I wore in my mouth to straighten my teeth before I could even get braces, I wasn't on anyone's Valentine's Day list.  I still remember 30 years later a girl told me, "your looks are your parents' fault, your personality is your fault."  And no, she didn't offer me any ice after that burn.

Fast forward two years to eighth grade, and I was still that same nerdy dude, trying to make it through the day.  I wasn't bullied or beaten up.  I feel like I kinda fit in, but as they say, the grass is always greener on the other side, especially in the hallways of middle school.  Kids were dating then, but I was far from that happening.  My main crush that year shot me down every time I talked to her or even looked in her direction.  Despite the cold shoulder, I never really got the point.
Blow Pops

That year I was in a class called Creative Writing.  We put together the student newspaper each month and for Valentine's Day that year we decided to hold a fundraiser.  I can't remember the exact name, but I it was something like Heart Grams, which included a hand written note and a Blow Pop.  We sold the grams during lunch periods the week of the big holiday and then delivered the messages of love and admiration during the last hour of school.

Each day I eagerly awaited to see if anyone had a message for me.  But as each day passed, I discovered that love was not in the air for me.  Cupid's arrow had hit me, as I sent several to that crush, but the thought was not mutual.  I finally did get a Heart Gram on that Friday afternoon.  Written in red ink a simple message of appreciation signed Mrs. W with a smiley face.  Mrs. W was our beloved teacher, Mrs. Weissflug.   
Mrs. Weissflug RIP
Despite receiving that one message, I was still heartbroken.  I remember getting home from school that afternoon, going to my room and bawling my eyes out, thinking I was destined to be alone forever.  Remember, I was just 13 years old at the time, and the teenage brain is wired very differently.  Once I stopped blubbering I looked at that message again from Mrs. Weissflug.  Yes, I was having a pity party that no girl was interested in me, but then I considered this... 

There were some people who likely didn't get ANY Heart Grams during the week, and at least someone thought enough of me to send a message.  It may not have been an expression of teen love, but it did mean something to me.  That was 27 years ago.  I've never forgotten that day or that simple message.  Mrs. Weissflug is no longer with us, so there's no way she'll know just how much I appreciated that note.  It really did put things into perspective for me that afternoon.

I've had many teachers who have made an impact on me through the years.  It's such an important profession, and those who are dealing with those pre-teen and early teen kids have my support.  That age is a turbulent one, so thanks to all educators for what you do, and remember you never know how one act of kindness might impact a young student's perspective for years to come.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Way Back WhensDay: WWF Stretch Wrestlers

WWF LJN Stretch Wrestlers
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

When I was much, much younger my brother and I had a Stretch Armstrong doll (yes, I'm comfortable saying doll) as well as his nemesis the Stretch Monster.  They were lots of fun, but at one point, they each busted open and the gelled corn syrup inside oozed out, rendering the toy useless.

Hot Rod
So for whatever reason, in the late 80's, I decided that the newly released LJN Stretch Wrestlers had to join my collection of bendable figures and standard ones.  I only had two of the eight WWF Superstars that were released in the series.  "Rowdy" Roddy Piper and Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat did battle from time to time at my house.  King Kong Bundy, Hulk Hogan, George "The Animal" Steele, Junkyard Dog, "Macho Man" Randy Savage, and "Mr. Wonderful" Paul Orndorff were also made in stretch form.

Busted figures
The figures were fun for a bit, but in no way particle when it came to having matches.  Sure they movable, unlike the LJN figures that preceded them.  But they were heavy and clunky.  And there's the issue of them tearing open.  

Eventually I stopped playing with my toys and packed them away in my closet. I'm a pack rat, so when I went to pull out my Piper (not a sexual thing) he had busted open and was losing his innards.  It was more of a dust/sand product and not the syrupy stuff inside Stretch Armstrong.

I wish the Stretch Wrestlers would have stood the test of time, as I like incorporating old toys in my videos and blogs.  They were fun while they lasted, but unfortunately my figures didn't last very long.