Sunday, September 28, 2014

Love, Truth, Honor

Mu Kappa receiving the charter
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

Twenty-one years ago I went through rush on the campus of Southeast Missouri State University.  For those who don't know, rush is the process of looking for a fraternity or sorority to join. After going to a handful of houses and parties and other gatherings, I didn't feel like the ones I'd looked at were the right fit for me.

While I was walking to class one day, I saw a flier for Sigma Nu.  The fraternity was not yet on campus, as this was to be a new group.  I attended the rush meeting where I saw several guys I'd met through my two years at SEMO.  We were told that night that it would be a long and difficult process to go from colony to chapter status.  It was something that core group of men was going to have to build from the ground up.

Initially, I wasn't sure I was up to the task and didn't go back.  But about a month later, my interest was piqued again.  I met with the guys and was extended a bid.  We spent that year working hard to fulfill the requirements set forth by the national fraternity to earn chapter status.  And like we were told that first night, it was not easy.

Snakes on Ice 1995
Over the course of 12 months, we accomplished all the goals put in front of us, and in October 1994, the Mu Kappa Chapter of Sigma Nu fraternity was born.  There were 32 Founding Fathers who helped bring this chapter to life.  In just a few weeks, many of those men and the hundreds of others who have followed in our footsteps will celebrate the milestone.

Prior to an intramural game (I was the photographer)
Some have said joining a fraternity or sorority is just a way to buy friends.  I don't see it that way at all.  I've always been an introvert, so joining Sigma Nu was a great way to break out of my shell and meet a variety of new people.  The last two and a half years of my college career were spent as a member of the fraternity. I held offices in that time like Social Chairman (I know, that was kinda weird) and Recorder.  My entire time in college was nothing less than fun, but I have countless memories of the times I spent with my brothers.  I've made lifelong friendships as a result.

Others question the hazing aspect of being Greek.  Sigma Nu was founded on a no hazing principle.  In my years with the fraternity I was never hazed, nor was anyone else on our campus.  We lead the way nationally and at SEMO on the issue.  We also raised the bar by making sure our candidates and active members all kept grades above the standards set by the university.  That's something still happening 20 years later.

Under the Sea
There are plenty of memories from those days.  The shots of Wild Turkey prior to our Executive Board meetings.  The trips to get Frozen Cokes after chapter meetings.  The time I dressed like the Little Mermaid for the Alpha Xi Delta Rose Bowl.  We bought a house and completely renovated it top to bottom.  A handful of us drove to Panama City Beach for Spring Break.  The men of Sigma Nu joined me the night I proposed by serenading my new fiancee with the song Sigma Nu Girl.

The night I proposed 
I've done a  lot of things in my life.  One of my proudest accomplishments remains being a part of the Founding Fathers and helping create a still very successful fraternity.  I can't wait to celebrate this big anniversary with those who helped make it happen.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

What If Wednesday: Hulk Hogan Stays in the WWF

Hogan vs. Yokozuna King of the Ring 1993
Photo courtesy: WWE
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

For eight plus years, Hulkamania was running wild in the WWF.  Hulk Hogan took the world by storm when he won the championship in January 1984.  Despite a few other champs along the way, Hogan essentially remained the company's top guy until early 1992.

Hogan disappeared after Wrestlemania 8, but eventually returned to win the title back at Wrestlemania 9.  His reign on top was short lived as he left the WWF for good (at the time) after the King of the Ring pay per view in 1993.  A year later, he showed up in WCW and the rest is wrestling history.  But what if Hogan had stayed with the WWF?

Photo courtesy: WWE
Clearly at the time, the company was shifting directions.  I think most of you know that was due to the ongoing steroid investigation.  Let's take that out of the mix for this scenario and focus on the talent.  Even though Hogan's departure hurt the company in the early years, it ended up helping to revive the business and ultimately put WWF on top in the Monday Night War.

The Narcissist
Photo courtesy: WWE
I don't think Lex Luger would have swapped his Narcissist persona for the All American hero he became after Hogan left.  Hogan and Yokozuna would have likely feuded through the summer, and like he'd always done, Hogan would prevail.  This would have lead to a Luger-Hogan match at Wrestlemania X.  But because fans always left Wrestlemania happy, I think Hogan would have won that match.  Eventually though, something would have to change, as Hulkamania became boring, just like when he was in WCW.  But not before beating the likes of Razor Ramon, Diesel, and a heel Shawn Michaels.

I don't know if Vince McMahon would have pulled the trigger on a heel turn, especially since I don't think WCW would have been competing with WWF as vigorously.  Without Hogan in WCW, I don't believe the defections like Randy Savage, Diesel, and Ramon would have happened.  WWF would have remained on top.

Steve Austin & Hogan
Photo courtesy: WWE
By the same token, I don't think Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels, or Steve Austin would have had the opportunities they received either.  I like Hogan, but I think he would have continued to be in the spotlight and the changes that happened in the company (and the business) would have never occurred had he not jumped ship.  So long story short, Hogan's departure ended up making a lot of people a lot of money and provided fans with new heroes and lots of great memories.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Which Hockey Team to Cheer?

Minnesota Wild
By Chad Smart
@chadsmart & @my123cents on Twitter

NHL preseason has started and the regular season is a mere three weeks away.  Last season I became a full on hockey supporter after seeing games in 10 hockey arenas and a wild post season which saw me regret caving in to common sense and not spending $700 to witness the final game of the Stanley Cup finals. That was last season though. Now is time for the new season. Already on the docket are trips to Dallas, Miami and Tampa with possible trips to Calgary, Edmonton, Pittsburgh, Toronto, Buffalo, Quebec, Ottawa and Boston in the planning stages. With the excitement of the new season in the air, I still have one major issue to contend with before October 8 rolls around. Which team do I cheer for this season? 

See, when I became a fan of hockey, I became a fan of the sport and not a specific team. Last season was about the thrill of experiencing hockey as a sport with no emotional attachment to any particular team or player. This season, I would like to change that and have a team to get behind and be devastated when they don’t win the Cup. The problem is how do I choose a team? What qualities do I look for in a team and why am I putting more of an effort into picking a team than I put into finding a job or a potential romantic partner? 

In realty, the main selling point is location, location, location. If that were the same with choosing a sports team, then the two logical choices would be either the Los Angeles Kings or Anaheim Ducks. I will most likely go to a few home games for both teams however I don’t know if they are the perfect fit for me. First off, the Kings won the Stanley Cup last season. If I were to become a Kings fan now, I would have the stigma of becoming a bandwagon fan and I don’t want that. Maybe that’s really not a big deal, but I’d rather watch a team become good rather than start at the top and have nowhere to go but down. 

More sharks!
After attending four Ducks games last season, I do enjoy the team. As an LA KISS season ticket holder, I am very familiar with the confines of the Honda Center and it would make a little bit of sense to pair up two teams in the same location for my fandom. Again though, the Ducks have been really good the last few seasons. I think I want more of an underdog team. 

Not an underdog team by any stretch of the imagination is the Pittsburgh Penguins. I’ve unofficially been a Penguins fans for 20-years so logically if I’m getting serious about hockey fandom this is the team I should root for, right? I mean the Penguins are the only NHL team of which I own a jersey. So why not root for them? I don’t have a good reason. Before we jump the gun and just go with the Penguins, lets keep looking at other teams. 

The Blues
While I currently live in Los Angeles, I am originally from Illinois. Going back to location as a determining factor, either the Chicago Blackhawks or St. Louis Blues deserve consideration for my support. Well, I am a fan of nothing Chicago related so that eliminates the Blackhawks. Most of my friends who are hockey fans and don’t cheer the Blackhawks cheer for the Blues. It would make some sense to cheer along for the Blues so we can bond over wins and share in the agony of defeats. Lets put the Blues in for possible consideration. 

Out of the ten arenas I visited last season, the two that really stood out as great atmosphere, great fans and good teams were San Jose and Minnesota. As I mentioned in my initial blog about becoming a hockey fan, the game in San Jose was like a religious experience. Plus, SJ Sharkie is one of the greatest mascots. San Jose is technically close enough to hit up a game or two during the regular season so that makes them a strong contender. 

Snoopy is Wild!
Minnesota on the other hand is the team I saw play the most times last season.  Pretty sure that’s a correct stat. Minnesota had the best pregame introduction of all the playoff games I saw in person. The fans were loyal and friendly, welcoming a newbie or couldn’t name one player on the team. So I’ll give them points for that. 

As far as players go, after witnessing his treatment by the hometown New York Rangers fans, I declared Brian Boyle to be the best player in the league. Now that Boyle has moved south to the Tampa Bay Lightning, a team I’ll see in person in November, I would be remised if I didn’t toss them into consideration. 

Since I didn’t have an official NHL team to cheer for last season, I started a collection of minor league hockey jerseys. I chose the jersey primarily because of the logo. Using this logic for NHL teams, this adds, Ottawa, Florida, Winnipeg and Nashville to the list of potential teams. 

After what I’ve just written and talked through, there are nine teams up for consideration. I’ll throw in one random team to make it an even ten teams. 

Pittsburgh Penguins
St. Louis Blues
San Jose Sharks
Minnesota Wild
Tampa Bay Lightning
Ottawa Senators
Florida Panthers
Winnipeg Jets
Nashville Predators
Carolina Hurricanes

Okay, this is where you come in to play. I’ve listed ten teams. I will let the readers decide which team shall become my team. Either leave comments on our Facebook page or tweet responses to either @my123cents or @chadsmart. I will announce the winner on October 1.

Owl Plan Your Birthday Party

Owl paintings
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents

My daughter recently turned nine.  With a wife working full time and up to her eyeballs in research for her thesis, I told my daughter I'd plan her birthday party.  I've thrown some successful shindigs in the past, so I thought this would be fun (and it was).  This year must be the Year of Owl, as it's all she talked about for the months leading up to her big day.

After scouring Pintest for ideas, we came up with several things to do during the party, which included a sleepover.  My wife pinned some ideas my way too, which made the planning process all the easier.  Add my parents into the mix to help tie up the loose ends and we were ready to par-tay.

Pinata: Before & After
Brooke really wanted an owl pinata at her birthday.  Owl party themes aren't all the rage these days, but I did find a huge one at Party City, but it was damaged.  When I was a kid, my parents made the pinatas we had at our birthday parties.  So I figured, what the heck, I can do that.  I found a "recipe" for an owl pinata at this website, which made it much easier to do.  Since I usually procrastinate, I actually started this a few days early, as the process requires time for the paper mache to dry.  I tweaked the instructions a bit, and used the colors from my daughter's school instead.

Once it was complete, we filled it with nine bags of candy (thanks mom).  There were nine girls at the party, and each got three swings at the owl.  On the ninth girl's final swing, the owl dropped from his perch and candy spilled everywhere.  It timed out perfectly.

Painting time
In an effort to encourage some creativity (and eat up some time), my wife suggested everyone do a painting.  We both read up on how to paint owls.  I got each girl a canvas square (you can find these probably anywhere, but I got our's at Hobby Lobby).  We squeezed out ample amounts of acrylic paint and let the girls' creative juices flow.  We ended up with some wonderful works of art.

Owl cupcakes
What's a party without sweet treats?  My mom and Brooke baked cupcakes the morning of the big day.  Each girl got her own, along with some icing, candy corn, M&M's, and miniature Oroes to create their own owl cupcake.  Some went with just an all-candy topping which didn't come close to resembling an owl, but that was okay, as it was all part of the fun.

Those are just a few of the things we did before winding things down for the night.  All in all, I think birthday number nine ended up being a memorable one from the planning process through the party itself.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

What If Wednesday: Edge Doesn't Retire

Edge retains the title at Wrestlemania 27
Photo courtesy: My 1-2-3 Cents
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents

When I attended Wrestlemania 27 in Atlanta back in 2011, I had no idea when Edge retained the World Heavyweight Title that it would be the last time we'd ever see the superstar wrestle.  A week later on Raw, sighting a serious neck injury, Edge retired as the champion.  It was a noble move, one that surely was difficult, but I'm glad Edge put his health and future first.

But what if the Rated R Superstar would have stayed active? Obviously, I'm writing this under the assumption that Edge is healthy.  I think that he would have continued his feud with Alberto Del Rio, having defeated the Mexican superstar at Mania.  I believe the two would have traded the championship throughout 2011, helping Del Rio reach his "destiny".

With that idea though, I don't think that Christian would have had the opportunity to win the World Title.  In turn, that would have put the championship reigns of Mark Henry and Daniel Bryan in jeopardy.  Instead of Randy Orton getting the program with Christian, Edge would have regained the title from Del Rio and then dropped it to Mark Henry.  Daniel Bryan would have still been able to cash in his briefcase and win the belt too.

Christian and Edge about to do some damage on Del Rio's car
Photo courtesy: My 1-2-3 Cents
I'd also like to think that Edge and Christian would have reunited at some point for another run as tag team champions.  The division in late 2011 and early 2012 was far from impressive, so I think this dynamic duo would have helped rejuvenate things and allow the next great team to step up and accept the torch.

Edge would likely still be active today (September 2014) at the age of 40.  I would imagine he'd probably be out of the World Heavyweight Title picture by today's standards, but still near the top of the pack.  He'd be helping groom the next generation and get them ready for a five second (or longer) pose.  His induction into the Hall of Fame would be postponed until after he officially decided to call it quits.  

If you have a suggestion for What If Wednesday, post it here or on our Facebook page.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Visiting the 9/11 Museum

By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

Over the summer, my wife and I took a short trip to New York City for a wedding.  Besides seeing the Statue of Liberty and walking through Times Square, we both wanted to visit the 9/11 Museum. It had just opened and we wanted to see the tributes to thousands of men, women, and children who died that day.

Writing about the experience will not do it any justice.  Seeing the artifacts left behind and hearing the voices of the passengers on the planes and in the Twin Towers brought us to tears.  I suggest if you have the chance, visit the museum.  There are a few areas where photography is allowed, so here are some of my pictures.  

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

What If Wednesday: Sting Is the Third Member

Sting on the night the nWo formed
Photo courtesy: WWE
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents

Recently on the WWE Network program The Monday Night War (available for $9.99 a month), former WCW President Eric Bischoff said the original plan was for Sting to be the third member of the nWo, along side Kevin Nash and Scott Hall.  But as Hall said in the documentary, that idea simply would not have worked.

Even 13 years after its demise, Sting is still remembered as the franchise for WCW.  He's the only major star in the company to have never worked for WWE.  Greats like Ric Flair, Harley Race, Dusty Rhodes, and Terry and Dory Funk ended up on Vince McMahon's payroll. The decision to make Hulk Hogan that third member of the trio and founding father of the nWo was the only way to go.

For Life!
Photo courtesy: WWE
The stable was formed on the idea that Hall and Nash were still working for WWE when they appeared on Nitro back in the summer of 1996.  That third member HAD to be a former WWE guy.  Ultimate Warrior, Shawn Michaels, and Bret Hart were all under contract in WWE, but any one of the three would have fit the bill nicely too.

Back to Sting, fans weren't ready to boo him.  He was still extremely popular.  Hogan and the Hulkamania concept had worn thin with the fans.  The character was stale and passe and needed a change.  His heel turn was organic.  Sting as a bad guy just wasn't going to work, the fans wanted him to save the company.

Hogan vs. Sting
Photo courtesy: WWE
Like Hogan's character, Sting ended up evolving too, going from the "Beach Bum" to the "Crow."  In terms of the first couple of years of the Monday Night War, keeping Sting as the hero and making Hogan that third member of the nWo worked out for the best.  I don't think the nWo would have been the same or as successful with the real Sting as a member.

If you have a suggestion for a What If Wednesday, let me know.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Middle Age Ain't So Bad

Ready, set, GLOW
2014 Glow Run
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

Before we start, yes I'm aware that "ain't" isn't a word, but it's my blog and I'll use bad grammar if I want to.  (And I just ended a sentence with a preposition).  

Anyway, when I turned 40 a year-and-a-half ago, it really didn't bother me.  In the months leading to the big birthday, I blogged and vlog my feelings about entering a new decade. Truth be told, hitting 30 was harder for me. 

Not long before I turned 40, I started running.  More accurately jogging fast.  Well kinda fast.  I entered a few 5Ks and my only goal was to run the 3.1 miles without stopping to walk.  It was something I could never accomplish as a teenager when I ran cross country.  Then nearly two decades passed and I could probably count how many miles I ran on both hands.

My first half marathon
February 2014
I recently ran in a 5K in my town.  For me, this was just another race.  I've done several 5Ks and even a half marathon.  I just aim to get in under 30 minutes when I run a course like the one here in Carterville.  But I had a strong desire to finish in the Top 3 of my age group (40-44) and get a medal.  I never earned one in my cross country days, so I'm probably over compensating for that.

As the gun sounded at this most recent race, I looked around at the wide variety of runners and walkers.  I'll be honest, I was motivated to beat some of the younger guys at the event.  I didn't realize just how motivated I was.  When my app (Runkeeper) gave me my first update at five minutes, the voice told me I had run 0.62 miles. Usually I'm between 0.52 and 0.56 miles at that time. I was moving like I'd never moved before.  

The weird thing is, I thought I'd wear myself out as the humidity was thick enough to cut with a knife that night.  But I chugged along.  I ended up finishing in 24:56, with a pace of 7:59 per mile. I finished fifth out of 20 in my age group and 35th out of about 245 runners.  I was more than pleased with my performance, and even though I didn't get that top three medal, I achieved a personal goal. That to me has proven to be more important than a medal collecting dust.

I was also impressed that night that the overall male and female finishers are over the age of 40.  The male runner is 51, the female is 48.  They've shown me that hard work and dedication pay off and I hope to improve my own performance.  The 2014 Carterville Twilight Glow Run has rekindled my running spirit as I continue to move toward my goal of 600 miles by the end of the year and look ahead to another half marathon in 2015.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

I Yam What I Yam

Popeye & me
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

Every September, the town of Chester, Illinois celebrates the world's most famous cartoon sailor man Popeye.  The comic book character turned big screen icon was created by Chester native Elize Segar in 1929.  The hero and his cast of characters were based on residents in the southern Illinois town.

For 35 years now, Chester has celebrated with the Popeye Picnic.  In 2006, organizers introduced The Character Trail.  Each year a new statue is added to the mix.  This doesn't include the original Popeye statue that greets folks as they cross the Mississippi River from Missouri into Illinois.

I have selfies with most of the statues, I'm missing Poopdeck Pappy and Cole Oyl.  There's something about these larger than life figures that I can't get enough of.  This year, the group will unveil Professor Watasnoozle, so the next time I go through town, I'll add him and the two others I'm missing. When it's all said and done, there will be 30 statues around Chester. You can read more by clicking here

Alice the Goon 

Sea Hag (not pictured: Bernard the Vulture)

Castor Oyl (not pictured: Whiffle Hen)
Family pic with Wimpy

Olive Oyl, Sweet Pea, and Jeep

Going toe to toe with Bluto