Why I picked comics & wrestling over running

Cape Con

For the last couple of years, I’ve joined other runners for the 80 mile River to River Relay. The race stretches across southern Illinois and is an all day event. It’s a lot of fun and I’ve enjoyed being a part of it. But this year the race fell on the same weekend as the Cape Comic Con in Cape Girardeau, Missouri.

Colt Cabana

Colt Cabana

That event not only features things like comic books, toys and video games, there’s also a huge wrestling element. Cape Championship Wrestling held a Super Show Saturday night featuring many talented wrestlers on the local roster as well as a handful of men and women with national recognition. The likes of Colt Cabana, Joey Ryan, Jeff Cobb and Leva Bates. When I missed last year’s event, I vowed to make it back in 2017 (I had gone to Cape Con in 2015 on Sunday, but missed a lot of the big things on Saturday).

Leva Bates

Leva Bates, aka Blue Pants

I didn’t want to go to Cape Con and CCW just to enjoy the day as a fan. I did that, don’t get me wrong. But I also used this trip to get the My 1-2-3 Cents brand out to the appropriate audience. For those who don’t know, I have a second blog called My 1-2-3 Cents that is all about wrestling. There’s a weekly podcast by the same name too.

Scooby gang

The Scooby Gang

Being on hand at both Cape Con and CCW allowed both me and iBatman (Tom Harness of Harness Digital Marketing) to network with like minded people. We connected with some of the vendors, wrestlers and the event organizer Ken Murphy. In fact, we’ve already started talking about working together in 2018. Plus, Tom had a chance to talk to a fellow veteran and Walking Dead actor Santiago Cirilo about some future projects. Overall it was a great day.

Kevin Comic Con

Toy talk with Sigs From Bigs

I will continue to run, as I’m nearing the one year mark on my running streak. But my days of being a part of the River to River Relay may be over. The opportunity to network and promote my brand are too important to pass up right now.

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Out of my shell, into my suit

 

MDMC

TapSnap booth

 

I recently attended the MDMC 17 event in St. Louis. It was two days of networking and learning from professionals in the world of marketing, social media and technology. Despite being a TV news reporter and anchor and literally have to talk to total strangers on a daily basis, I am a huge introvert. But with a goal of getting my freelance blogging career a jumpstart, I needed to attend MDMC and step outside my comfort zone.

 

Opposuits

Harness Digital Marketing team members

 

Planning for the conference started more than six months ago when I asked my buddy Tom Harness and his team at Harness Digital Marketing about the event. Tom is known as the Suit Guy here in southern Illinois for his now 14 different Shinesty/Opposuits. At the time of registration in December, my first suit, a Star Wars Storm Trooper design, was on order. Tom and I talked about wearing something crazy on at least one of the two days for MDMC.

 

Shinesty suit

PacMan & The Flamingo Kid

 

After wearing the Storm Trooper suit a few times around southern Illinois and southeast Missouri I grew very comfortable in it. The reaction was 99.9% positive. I heard one negative comment, but I’m not going to dwell on it. But because I only had the one suit and the conference extended two days I knew I needed to step up my game. That’s where Kohl’s comes in. The retailer now sells some OppoSuits in its stores. I picked up the flamingo design to let potential clients know “I have the leg up on all other bloggers.” Tom wore his Pac-Man suit (one of my favorites) because “it’s game on when it comes to marketing your business.” We came up with these slogans as we walked into the conference. Clever, right?

 

Go Daddy

Isaac from GoDaddy

 

Wearing the suits to MDMC worked. Tom worked hard on social media before we arrived letting attendees know we’d be there and suited up, ready to network. We spent a good portion of the conference together and answering questions about the suits but then the conversation turned to our careers.  Even on my own, I fielded questions, posed for photos and handed out business cards. Within minutes of walking into Union Station, one of the presenters from GoDaddy (pictured above) spotted me and asked to take a photo together. I was amazed. The suits are an immediate icebreaker. You can’t wear one without being noticed. I’m not good at making the first contact, but with the suit on, people came to me and I was able to engage in a meaningful conversation while having a good time. It was a win-win as far as I’m concerned.

 

Buzz feed

Kelly from BuzzFeed

 

The attention the suit attracts is well worth the investment. Time will tell just what the ROI will be in terms of actual blogging gigs. Buying these suits is kind of like getting a tattoo, once you start it’s hard to stop. I’m looking forward to my next purchase and still holding out hope for a wrestling themed design.

Check out OppoSuits and Shinesty

Before there were promposals…

pink_rose_514085

Now days asking someone to the prom or even the Homecoming dance has turned into quite an ordeal. I’m not knocking the creative way guys and girls are asking their dates to the dance. There have been plenty of neat videos and pictures posted on social media. Instead, I’m going to share my not so successful “promposals” from more than 25 years ago.

My junior year I had debated asking a girl to prom that I had been crushing on since 8th grade. If you read the Christmas Crush blog from my freshmen year, she’s the same girl. But now I was in 11th grade, driving and had gained some confidence. Or so I thought.

After talking with a mutual friend who didn’t squash the idea, I came up with a plan. I was going to wait for her outside soccer practice (her’s, not mine), hand her a pink rose and ask her to go to prom with me. Keep in mind I was still painfully shy and introverted beyond belief and hadn’t engaged in more than a couple of conversations with this girl.

 

junior year

Junior year, what’s not to love?

 

So there I stood in the school parking lot with a rose in my sweaty hand, waiting. My heart was pounding through my chest and the more I stood there thinking, the more I wanted to a b-line for my car and leave. But then I remembered how much I wanted this date to happen.

She walked into the parking lot alone and I walked up to her and attempted to hand the rose over and nervously asked, “Will you go to prom with me?” She paused and looked me in the eye and said, “I have a boyfriend.” I could feel my face turn a much brighter shade of pink than the rose in my hand. I apologized and quickly got the hell out of dodge. I saw another mutual friend leaving the field and jumped into her car and professed my act of stupidity. How could I not know she had a boyfriend? (She really did). I was so embarrassed.

I was down and out for the junior prom but vowed to find a date for my senior year. My first “promposal” was a simple handwritten note that I passed in between classes. I was friends with this girl but had developed a bit of a crush. She agreed to go but was under the impression it was to be as friends. A few weeks later she broke it off when I expressed interest in having a relationship.

 

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Senior year

 

I remained vigilant and actually conjured up the testicular fortitude to call a girl on the phone and actually hold a conversation. I asked her to go with me to the dance and she agreed. We went out a few times after that, but later that summer I headed off to college where a few months later I met my future wife.

I wrote this blog for a couple of reasons, it’s prom season and people tend to enjoy reading my tales of teen angst. I also wrote it because if a high school aged student is reading it, I hope it inspires you to step outside of your comfort zone. I did it a couple of times and failed, but eventually, I found love.

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A swig of Broken Skull IPA for the working man

Stone Cold IPA

Fans of the “Stone Cold” Steve Austin podcast know his phrase “a swig of beer (or coffee, water, etc) for the working man. That’s how I came up with the title for this post. Austin is well known in the late 1990s as being a beer chugging, tough as nails WWE Superstar. He’s one of my all-time favorites. So in late 2015 when it was announced he would be releasing his own brand of beer, Broken Skull IPA by El Segundo Brewing, I wanted it.

When I did some homework on the beer, I learned quickly it would not be available in the Midwest. Ordering online was an option, but when I learned my buddy and fellow Craftbeerican Tom Harness was headed for California last summer I mentioned the craft beer to him. He brought back a couple of bottles and glasses with the Broken Skull IPA   logo printed on them.

Broken Skull

After nine months, we finally did an episode of Craftbeericans reviewing the Broken Skull IPA. Oh, did I mention we did it on 3/16? We did and just for the reasons you might expect. For those who don’t know, Austin 3:16 says “I just whooped your ass.” It’s the catchphrase that made him a wrestling legend.

I’m not going to lie as I worried I would not like it and in my head thought Austin would somehow see our review. Who knows, maybe he will eventually see it. One can dream, right? Since the creation of Craftbeericans, I’ve learned that I am not a fan of IPAs. Most that I have tried are too hoppy and bitter for me.

Stone Cold Steve Austin Broken Skull IPA

We set up the show from Irons in the Fire in Carterville, with me wearing my Stone Cold tee shirt I bought in 1998. The table was topped with Austin action figures and the usual Craftbeericans table-cloth. I told a few tales about the WWE Hall of Famer and then we filled our Stone Cold glasses with the IPA.

The pour out showed us the beer is a little cloudy. In smelling it before the first drink we learned there’s a hint of citrus involved too. Then it was time to drink and much to my surprise, Broken Skull IPA finishes as the smoothest IPA I’ve ever had. You get a bit of hoppiness in the beginning but the overall experience is nothing short of a WrestleMania moment. I’m glad Tom picked up a second bottle as we will bust it out and have another swig for the working man in the near future. And that’s the bottom line because the Craftbeericans said so…

Tech Tuesday: Take pics & videos on the iPhone at the same time

They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. I don’t buy into that line of thinking. However, what I learned earlier today is probably not a new trick. But since it’s new to me,  I figured I’d share it with you, because maybe you’d not heard of it either.

During our broadcast of News 3 This Morning today, our floor director Jordan captured video AND pictures of a Zumba segment we did. He did this at the same time. My co-anchor, Callie and I were perplexed by this and he showed us how he did it.

It’s pretty easy to do. (Full disclosure, I don’t know which versions of the iPhone this works with, but I have a 6 and it works on it.)

iphone2

Open the camera on your phone.

Switch to VIDEO.

Start recording.

Tap the white button to start taking pictures.

The photos will be saved to your camera roll along with the recorded video. It’s that simple. I’ve often wondered about that white button but never thought much more of it. Now go out and take video and pictures and share both with the world.

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Lessons learned about craft beer

Craftbeericans RushmoreOn March 30, 2016, the Craftbeericans YouTube channel officially launched. For those who don’t know, the Craftbeericans are a group of guys who enjoy craft beer and review different types on YouTube and Facebook Live. The concept developed after my buddy Tom Harness and I had a conversation about adding new content to my YouTube channel. I wanted to do something called Thirsty Thursday, but Tom had much grander ideas.

Craftbeericans

I was in Orlando for Spring Break when he emailed me proofs for a logo and the concept for The Craftbeericans. It was a name he had used in some social media postings in the past with Todd Ellis (who is also a member of the Craftbeericans). Our friend Todd Bryant rounded out the bunch and we’ve made 40 videos to date. The idea is to count down from 99 to 0 like the song 99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall. Our first show featured the ever popular Yuengling. It became an instant favorite for me.

first craftbeericans

The reason I wanted to do the show was to grow my brand and also learn more about craft beer. At the time, I knew virtually nothing about it. Sure I had drunk my fair share, but I typically stayed in my comfort zone of Bud Light, Corona and Blue Moon. (My college years it was more like Natty Light and Keystone.)

The biggest thing I’ve learned is I am not a fan of most IPAs. Hoppiness is not happiness for me. I do have a few exceptions to this rule, specifically “Stone Cold” Steve Austin’s Broken Skull IPA. I’ll write more about that in the future. I have also had Gunslinger by Crown Valley Brewery on more than one occasion.

Craftbeericans Labels

When it comes to craft beers, I tend to like ones with fruit or sour ones. I’m a big fan of Traveler Grapefruit Shandy, Crown Valley’s Blackberry Cider and one named for me by homebrew buddy Doug Brinkley, the Hunsperger Beatdown Berry. Doug has made beers in each members likeness. We reviewed the berry brew during our 80s themes and tied the Smurfs into it. A few other favorites include Chocolate Milk Stout made locally Von Jakob Winery & Brewery, Southern Pecan by Lazy Magnolia Brewing Company and Koko Brown Ale by Kona Brewing Company.

A few other things I’ve learned over the past year, true German beers are pretty plain to me. I’m not a fan of the Oktoberfest brews. Hefeweizen gets its flavoring from bananas. It’s best to pour the beer in a glass when reviewing it to show off how it looks. We always give it a sniff before drinking which has become a good indicator of how the beer will taste.

Big Muddy Monster

I also try beers based on the label. Years ago I had 8-Bit Pale Ale because of the Pac-Man looking character on the can. This was before I knew of my disdain for hoppiness. The cool artwork is just as important to me as for how the beer tastes. I guess marketing does really work on me. The other great thing about craft beer is all the beer expos and events we’ve attended and tried beers we probably wouldn’t have before.

What are your favorite types of craft beer? Also, give the Craftbeericans a follow on social media.

Confessions from a not-so-perfect parent

During our newscast on News 3 This Morning, we had a discussion about parenting fails. It brought up memories of the times I’ve been less-than-perfect in the rearing of my children. There are countless moments within our household. My wife and I cuss in front of our children. We’ve all had Halloween candy, birthday cake and doughnuts for dinner. We even allow all three kids to have their own smartphone. But here are three specific screwups, one for each of my children.

Ethan

When our oldest son was just over a year old (he’s 17 now) he would break out in a rash after eating. He never had trouble breathing or had serious issues, but we knew it caused him discomfort. After visiting the pediatrician, we finally narrowed it down to a milk allergy. The doctor assured us he’d likely outgrow the allergy, but keep him away from dairy. We were set to switch to soy milk and find alternatives for ice cream and cheese. On the way home from the appointment, we stopped at Applebee’s for dinner. We asked Ethan if he wanted mac and cheese and he eagerly nodded his head. The boy was half way through his meal when it dawned on me he shouldn’t be eating the cheese. Sure enough he broke out in the rash later that night. By the way, he did eventually outgrow the allergy.

Mason kindergarten

Our middle son is 18 months younger than our oldest, but they’re just a year apart in school. Just like we did with Ethan, when Mason went off to kindergarten we snapped a bunch of pictures here at home, during the walk to school and once we were in the classroom. Later that night when I looked for the camera to upload the pictures to the computer, I couldn’t find it. This was before smartphones and in this case smart dads. We tore the house apart. I searched the van even though we’d walked to school that day. I even went up to the school and checked the classroom and the lost and found. More than a decade later that camera nor its memory card ever turned up. I still feel awful there are no first day of school pics of Mason. It’s like the stereotypes about the middle child smacked me right in the face.

Brooke dance

We listen to a variety of music in the car. I prefer classic rock and 80s pop, but my wife and I both have “today’s hits” programmed on our respective radios. When our daughter Brooke was seven or eight years old she wanted to a do a solo performance at her dance studio’s upcoming recital. The kids got to pick the song and the instructors would choreograph something accordingly. Brooke didn’t tell me what song she wanted to dance to and as we were standing there talking to her teacher Brooke asked, “Miss Kim, can I do my solo to Whistle Baby?” For those who don’t know, “Whistle” is the actual name of the song and it’s by Flo Rida. It’s a catchy tune, but it’s about oral sex. I knew that and judging by the look of horror on Miss Kim’s face, she knew it too. She was silent as I quickly told Brooke we’d have to come up with a different song.

Parenting isn’t an easy job, so you might as well have fun along the way. I figure we’re just generating stories for the kids when they grow up and decide to write blogs too.