Tag Archives: Cleveland Browns

Mingling With Celebrity

Most all of us have had our brush with celebrity at one point in our lives. I’ve had a few opportunities to share a moment with someone more known than myself and I wanted to share that in today’s post.

My first recollection of meeting someone famous occurred when I lived in Cleveland. My school used to be in downtown and we had to take public buses and the subway (known as the rapid) to get to and from school. One day after school while waiting with a bunch of other students and a few non-student riders, a fight broke out between two young teens. I was probably in seventh or eight grade at the time. A fancy car pulled up to the bus stop and a large man jumped from the car and broke up the fight. That man was the all time great Cleveland Browns cornerback Hanford Dixon! Together with Frank Minnifield, they were one of the most fearsome cornerbacks in the league and he is also credited with creating the infamous “Dawg Pound” in Cleveland Municipal Stadium. The fight stopped almost immediately and he signed autographs for all who asked. I got one as well though he signed them “Top Dawg” instead of Hanford Dixon but any Browns fan knew who that was!

Over the years while in Cleveland, I was able to meet and get signatures from many bands that I listened to: Kreator, Nuclear Assault, and others. There was an awesome record store not too far from my house that booked a lot of bands for signings and I went to many of them.

IMG_2612More recently Twitter has brought me in touch with celebrities I would never have been able to reach otherwise. One of my Twitter followers is none other than Mr. Chuck, or Chuck D. the lead MC for the iconic rap group Public Enemy. Last year I posted about an actual dream I had involving the rapper/actor Ice T and he acknowledged it with a “like.” One of my recent blog posts about John Scalzi earned a message from the author thanking me for liking his books. Then days after that, when I was fortunate enough to sign my name next to the award winning SciFi author Ann Leckie on the author wall at my first book signing, she too acknowledged my post with a “like.” Twitter has been fun reaching new people and moments like these keep me posting.

My most exciting moment of being close to someone more famous than myself was when I was able to skate with Tony Hawk. Yeah, that Tony Hawk. The god-father of skateboarding. It must have been over twenty years ago that I met him and his Birdhouse Projects team in Memphis. My friends and I decided we were going to travel four hours or so from Southern Illinois to Memphis for a demo put on by Tony Hawk and his team. I had to work an overnight shift and when I got off work at seven in the morning, I cleaned up and we loaded in my little Honda Civic 4-Door and drove down to Memphis. My car was a stick and none of my friends knew how to drive a manual so even though I was dead tired, I had to drive.

By the time we made it to Memphis, it was pouring down rain. We drove to where the demo was held but no one was there. We decided we drove this far that we weren’t leaving until we got to meet the man himself! I drove around the square several times looking for the team when we found them driving in a van. They waved at us and pointed to the square and after cutting them off, we all made it to the demo spot. When we got out of the car the rain had stopped. We were the only ones there. The five of us and the five of them. We got to skate around the square with Tony and his team. He even skated on my friend Doug’s board (whose dad later threw it away thinking the broken board was worthless junk!) It was an awesome opportunity to meet with and skate with a legend. It’s a memory I’ll never forget. When I’d tell that to my students while I was a graduate assistant in college, I instantly gained some street cred with my students!

I’ve had my brushes with celebrity. I’ve tried to not act like a fool around people I respect and I think so far I’ve kept it under wraps. When Scalzi sent me that message on Twitter you better believe I wanted to go all “fan-boy” about it but it’s so much better if I don’t.

What about you? Do you have any interesting stories to share? Leave them in the comments below!

As a heads up, I’ll be at the Indie Book Fair in St. Louis on May 7th from 10-5. Stop by and say hi and pick up a book. There will also be 40 to 50 other authors for you to check out. I’ll be doing a reading at 11:40 that morning. Sounds like a great time. Come on out!

On May 18th, one of my stories will be featured on the podcast “No Extra Words.” I’m super excited about this opportunity! Find the podcast on iTunes or your favorite podcatcher and subscribe today! They offer new flash fiction stories every week.

Welcome Autumn

Football, chili, and colors. The end of summer has passed and we are now heading into Autumn, my favorite season.

I love the cooler temperatures, football on television, and the beautiful display of colors on the way. Summer is fun, for a while, but when it breaks and Autumn comes rolling in, I can’t help but feel a bit better.

The sun shines a little differently. Birds and animals scurry about getting ready. The soft rustle of leaves when the wind blows soothes me. When nature begins its metamorphoses from the heat and humidity of Summer to the harsh frigid temperatures of Winter, the transition season of Autumn provides me with great hope.

I enjoy Fall festivals like the Apple Festival we have here in Murphysboro. We have an Art, Wine, and Blues Festival as well as the BBQ Championships. It seems like every little town around here has some type of festival to mark the season. There are haunted houses in October (though I enjoy horror stories, I tend to avoid these. I guess I’ve read too many or seen too many movies that these scare the crap out of me!) Before you know it, Thanksgiving will be here.

But what I’ve found that attracts me to Autumn more than anything else, more than the change in weather and seasonal festivals, is hope.

Falling leaves and pumpkins and hoodies remind me of school. They remind me of being in college. A time I remember vividly remembering how I walked across campus carrying a backpack that threatened to pull me down. It was a time of hope for the future. I was in college learning skills and acquiring knowledge that I expected to prepare me for a life in academia. I assumed I was on a path which led to teaching history. I had visions of my future with my girlfriend (now wife of 18 years!) and the life we’d lead together.

Now many years removed from college, that hope of a future isn’t quite what it used to be.

Once out of school, the hope I’d been looking forward to never materialized. No longer working in class towards a goal in front of me, I work. I don’t have a lofty goal waiting for me at the end of work. I don’t have this expectation that I will be done in a couple years able to forge ahead to what I’d been working towards. I’m there already. Now my goals are not filled with hope for a future as an educator, they are filled with a desire to provide the best I can for my family.

Every Autumn as the temperatures cool and the sun casts shadows much different than Summer, I’m reminded of this hope I once had. I’m reminded of a young me that went to school every day, tired and anxious, looking forward to a future I had envisioned. And that rejuvenates me.

Sure I’m not where I expected to be. My job is nothing like what I thought I’d be doing. But I enjoy it. I meet new people every day and I’m able to help them make events happen. My family life is way better than I could’ve ever expected and I’m thankful to my wife and son for that.

And as a Browns fan, every Autumn is a season of hope. Usually that euphoria is crushed but there is always hope in the beginning!

Welcome Autumn! It’s nice to see you again, I’ve been expecting you.