Monthly Archives: April 2014

More Arbor Day photos

Here are more photos from Aspen Grove Park.

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Airway Heights celebrates Arbor Day

The sound of No Doubt’s “Spiderwebs” plays from the DeWalt boombox as Airway Heights city employees and volunteers gathered at Aspen Grove Park to spread bark at the base of the new coniferous trees.

Airway Heights did this as part of their Arbor Day celebration this past weekend and I was fortunate enough to attend and snap some photos.

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Bruce Lee would do well in MMA – if he was fighting in his 30s

EA Sports has given mixed martial arts fans and gamers a treat for the upcoming UFC video game.

The company announced that movie star and martial arts legend Bruce Lee will be an unlockable character in the game. This allows fans can now live out their fantasy of playing “the Dragon” against today’s top competitors – at least in the realm of video games.

Although Lee’s model will have his likeness and sport yellow trunks – a homage to the yellow jumpsuit he wore in the 1973 hit “Game of Death.” I doubt gamers actually will get a chance to throw the Dragon’s famous one-inch punch or perform his flying side kick, as cool as that might be.

For years, fans have debated how Lee, who passed away in 1972 at the age of 32, would fair in modern day combat sports – specifically MMA. Some argue that the Dragon would decimate any competitor that stands across from him in the octagon. These fans probably harken back to the man they saw dispatch anonymous henchmen in movies like “The Big Boss” and “Enter the Dragon.”

In an interview, Chuck Norris said that while he and Lee were not fighting in “MMA-style matches,” they had both participated in bare-fist matches and would have done well in today’s era of competition.

Then there are others who say that modern-day fighters would beat Lee because his style is considered by some as “one-dimensional.”

UFC president Dana White considers Lee the father of mixed martial arts. I agree with him on this because Lee was someone who would devote his time and energy into studying different disciplines, including judo, Kung Fu and boxing rather than just sticking with one style of martial arts.

One of the disciplines Lee studied was Wing Chun, a style that not many fighters outside of China would know or have taken the time to study. There is also Jeet Kune Do – which Lee developed himself. Jeet Kune Do is an eclectic martial arts hybrid with moves that are simple.

Just knowing these two styles could be an advantage for Lee in competition because other fighters may not be used to facing someone who has trained in those styles.

Another thing that would help Lee in today’s era of combat sports is his dedication to training. The Dragon was someone who – in Norris’ words – was a “fanatical trainer.” He is known as one of the most diligent celebrities when it came to maintaining his peak physical condition.

If Lee were to enter mixed martial arts when he was at the peak in both health and star power, he would do well in competition.

He would breeze through the regional competition at the amateur level and earn some championships in the smaller promotions before making it to a top organization like the UFC. However, at this point is where he would experience a few losses before climbing back up the rankings.

Lee would have also been a fan favorite. While his name alone would boost ticket sales, his humble beginnings and behavior would be something fans would gravitate toward.

But that would be Bruce Lee’s MMA career if he was fighting in his prime. If the Dragon was still alive when the UFC was going through their boost in popularity, he may have steered clear of getting in the octagon.

Although fighters like former UFC heavyweight champion Randy Couture and IBF light heavyweight champion Bernard Hopkins found success in their 40s, Lee would have been in his late 50s to early 60s and facing athletes half his age. While he certainly would have made a lot of money in a couple of fights, he would not be as successful as he would be had a much spryer Dragon stepped into the octagon.

But if Lee were still alive, would he even need to be in MMA to prove how great of a fighter he was? I don’t think so.

How I stopped worrying and learned to love karaoke

Last Saturday I decided it was time to venture out of the apartment and head to Eagles Pub to have a beer in celebration of the Milwaukee Brewers beating the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Eagles’ is a regular spot I head to whenever I’m downtown, but on this night I decided to revive an old tradition.

The pub is a destination for karaoke every Friday and Saturday, and on this particular night I dusted off the vocal cords to sing AC/DC’s “Big Balls.”

Some of the other patrons in the bar were cheering, though that’s probably because they were confusing the song’s title and lyrics about ballroom dancing with something else.

For those who have never sang or sat through a karaoke session, I encourage you to do it at least once. But first a warning: karaoke is not for the faint at heart.

If you have a favorite song — especially one that is popular — chances are a random person may belt out that particular ballad in a way that causes you to take that song off your iPod for the next few weeks.

It’s not like I heard anything that bad at Eagles last week. I listened to someone sing a nice rendition of Carly Simon’s “You’re So Vain.”

This warning actually comes from the things that I saw the first few times I went to karaoke with my friends.

One particular performance that stuck with me was when someone sang “You Shook Me All Night Long.” In my mind, this person was ruining the song because he sounded nothing like vocalist Brian Johnson. He didn’t even attempt to raise his voice.

Another incident was when a fella sang the “Theme from Shaft” only his vocal range didn’t go as low as Isaac Hayes’, nor did he censor himself when he referred to detective John Shaft as one bad mother-.

“Shut yo mouth!”

Hey, he was only singing about Shaft.

After I accepted that I would have to live with random people butchering my beloved tunes — in my eyes — I started to enjoy the karaoke atmosphere and realized that it was more about having fun with your friends.

Then I actually starting singing myself. After experimenting with a few songs in my own voice, I started to do impressions of certain singers.

In my natural voice, I sound nothing like Bon Scott or Billy Idol, but I can get away with imitating them when I’m singing “Big Balls” or “Cradle of Love.” As for mannerisims of the performers whose voices I’m impersonating, — specifically Mr. Idol — that’s a different story.

If you want to sing karaoke for the first time, here are some tips that can make your first time a little easier:

• Don’t be afraid to ask the emcee for some help if you find yourself stuck on a song. Many hosts will step in if they see you struggling with a song.

• If the host isn’t able or willing to come to your aid, grab a friend.

• Alcohol can provide a little bit of courage and loosen the tension you may have, but it can also cause you to slur your words and not focus on the screen.

• Sing what you know. Pick a song with lyrics that you know by heart or at least 90 percent of it.

• Try and get the audience involved with a song that has parts where everyone can participate. Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline” is a good example as the audience can join in with the “bah, bah, bah.”

• Most importantly, have fun. Even if someone gets irritated with your singing, that’s their problem. Best case scenario it forces them to gather their courage to sign up.

The amazing armbar of Jessamyn Duke

Today one of the 4 Horsewomen steps into the octagon for the second time in her career – third if you count the amazing battle she had with Raquel “Rocky” Pennington on “The Ultimate Fighter 18.” Jessamyn “The Gun” Duke (3-0 1No contest) takes on undefeated Brazilian prospect Bethe Correia at UFC 172.

Aside from cheering on Glover Teixeira – nothing against Jon Jones, but I love Glover – Duke’s fight will probably be the main focus of my cheering. Even before her appearance on TUF, Duke was hailed as one of the top women’s prospects to rise above the ranks.

Her clash with the Rock , as well as her association with Ronda Rousey, Shayna Baszler and Marina Shafir – the other three fighters in the Horsewomen – has helped Jessamyn adjust to the rigor that is being a UFC fighter. Still, it wasn’t that long ago when she was captivating fans in smaller venues.

The first time I saw Jessamyn fight was in her last ammy bout against Elizabeth Phillips Chappel, a pro who is coming into her own right. Then came the third-round TKO to Suzie Montero in her professional MMA debut. But it wasn’t until her second bout where she faced rival Marceia “Black Widow” Allen at Invicta FC 3 where she caused me to let out a Gabriel Iglesias“damn.”

After Allen pushes her up against the cage, Duke gets the takedown into the half-guard. Following a quick scramble, the Black Widow gets top position and begins to unleash some strikes and somewhere in the mix, Duke’s threw her mouthpiece out and went for a Russian-style armbar to get the submission.

As amazing as Ronda’s armbars have been, this is probably one of my favorite submissions of all time. I equate it to Rich Franklin’s knockout of Chuck Liddell at UFC 115.

At the risk of sounding like a promoter, I knew she would have a future in this sport. When it was announced that she would be on the cast of “TUF” I was thrilled she was getting this opportunity, especially after she came off of that controversial loss – which could later be ruled a no-contest – to Miriam Nakamoto. And I guess the rest is history or at least what’s to come.

Although we probably won’t see Duke throw out her mouthpiece, I’m sure she’ll once again captivate the crowds at tonight’s event.

 

Alman’s 30 Day Batman challenge – in one hour

In celebration of Batman’s 75th anniversary and it being the last Friday of the month, I will do a 30 Days of Batman Tumblr challenge thing.

1. First Batman comic you read?
It was the comic adaption of “Batman Returns” when I was in first grade. I remember being shocked after seeing Selina Kyle being thrown out of the window.

2. Favorite Batman costume?
Probably the one David Finch designed for “Batman Incorporated.” At the time, Bruce had returned as Batman while Dick Grayson was still in the role and so you had to differentiate Batman somehow. Also it took inspiration from some of the earlier Batman films.

3. Favorite actor in a Batman film?
Heath Ledger as The Joker in “The Dark Knight.” Every scene he was in, he stole.

4. Least favorite actor in a Batman film?
George Clooney in “Batman and Robin”

5. Favorite Batman side kick?
Damian Wayne as Robin, but this was when he was teaming with Dick Grayson who was Batman at the time.

6. Least favorite Batman side kick?
I’ll get bricks thrown at me for this, but Jason Todd. If I had been old enough to call the hotline to kill him off, I would have done it in a heartbeat.

7. Favorite Batman quote?
“We both looked into the abyss; the only difference is you blinked.” – Batman to Owlman

I think there are two kinds of people who go through tragedy. Those who take that as an excuse to do whatever they want – whether it’s not taking the time to make their lives better or using that as a means to be a jerk. But people like Batman have been able to take tragedy in their lives and make the world a better place for their selves. It wasn’t easy, but they did it.

8. Favorite Robin?
It’s a tie between Dick Grayson and Damian Wayne

9. Favorite Batman artist?
Neal Adams did a great job. Although his time was short, I love whenever David Finch draws the Dark Knight.

10. Favorite Batman writer?
Paul Dini for his work not only in comics, but also in animation.

11. Favorite Batman pairing?
I love the Brave and the Bold series, so I always enjoyed stories whenever he teams up with other heroes. I love the chemistry he has different heroes.

12. Least favorite Batman pairing?
This is a total cop out answer, but I don’t think I have a least favorite paring.

13. Favorite Riddler riddle?
“What is a question you can never answer yes to? Are you asleep?”

14. Favorite Batman video game?
All three of the Arkham games have been great and I’m sure Arkham Knight will be a great finale to the series.

15. Least favorite Batman video game?
Batman: Dark Tomorrow.

16. Favorite Batman villain?
The Scarecrow

17. Favorite Batman villain pairing?
Again another copout answer, but I enjoy the villain teamups, like The Injustice Gang or the Legion of Doom.

18. Least favorite Batman villain?
Talia al Ghul. It’s nothing against the character, I’m not a huge advocate for her being a villain.

19. Favorite version of The Joker?
Mark Hamill’s Joker in Batman the Animated Series

20. Favorite Batman character of all time?
Batman

21. Least favorite Batman character of all time?
Harvey Bullock

22. Favorite Batmobile?
The Batmobile in Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy.

23. Favorite lady in Batman?
Harley Quinn.

24. Least favorite lady in Batman?
Jezebel Jett

25. Favorite gadget in Batman?
Grappling hook

26. Favorite Batman film?
“Batman Begins”

27. Least favorite Batman film?
“Batman and Robin”

28. Favorite actor portraying Batman?
This is in terms of voice acting, but Kevin Conroy and Diedrich Bader

29. Least favorite actor portraying Batman?
George Clooney

30. Favorite Batman moment?
I would probably need a list of favorite Batman moments to encompass all of them – which I might just do now – but if there’s one moment I’d have to pick, is when an 8-year-old Bruce Wayne vows to avenge his parent’s deaths and spend the rest of his life fighting crime.

One of the aspects of Batman that “Batman Forever”  and “Batman: Brave and The Bold” did well was show how being Batman is a choice that Bruce when he was just a child. He could have taken his inheritance and spent the rest of his life being a rich playboy – which he does to hide his true identity.

It’s this part of Batman that so many people gravitate toward. Yes he has cool toys and money, but it’s his vow to bring justice to criminals and protect the innocent that has made the Caped Crusader so endearing.

Batman meets Mr. Freeze in a “Cold, Cold Heart”

If you’re like me and don’t have time to play video games, but love watching playthroughs, here is a video set of “Batman Arkham Origins” DLC – Cold, Cold Heart.

In this DLC, Batman goes up against Mr. Freeze for the first time. The story is similar to the Batman Animated Series episode “Heart of Ice” and even features the character of Ferris Boyle. There is also an appearance by The Penguin – voiced once again by Nolan North.

With “Batman: Arkham Knight” coming out in October, it’s unlikely that there will be anymore Arkham Origins DLC content coming out, which is a shame. Similar to Mr. Freeze, the developers could use the DLCs to introduce more members of Batman’s rogues galleries.

Still “Cold, Cold Heart” delivers chills, as well as fast-paced action. Note, the person doing the playing is going through the DLC for the first time, which means there will be some mishaps on his part.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

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On New Year’s Eve, GothCorp industrialist Ferris Boyle wins the Wayne Foundation Humanitarian of the Year Award at the New Year’s Eve Ceremony hosted by Bruce Wayne at Wayne Manor. Just as Clarissa Rodriguez and the guests are about to celebrate, an explosion knocks people off their feet, also creating a large iceberg along with several people being frozen. Penguin’s henchmen enter just as a tall, heavily armed man in a mechanized suit with a freeze ray demands to see Ferris Boyle. Bruce searches for Alfred, but is captured by Penguin’s henchmen. Alfred is knocked unconscious when attempting to fight back, causing Bruce to snap and retaliate by subduing them all. Alfred watches over the guests, while Bruce enters the Batcave via the wine cellar. He learns that the man’s name is ‘Mr. Freeze’ and Alfred suggests donning the XE suit. Since it’s not ready to be tested, Bruce dons the original Christmas Eve suit. Batman makes his way back to the Manor, where the power starts to go off as the thugs start to torch the mansion. Alfred and the guests are recaptured, forcing Batman to save them all.

He attempts to rescue Ferris, but is frozen solid by Freeze, although only with enough cryofluid to simply stun him, as Freeze had no quarrel against the Caped Crusader. Freeze kidnaps Ferris and escapes, forcing Batman to interrogate Penguin’s henchman, who explains that Penguin’s dealer may know his location. Batman finds many people in the city frozen. Scanning one, he manages to track down the dealer via the leaking cryogenic gun he was armed with. Batman interrogates the dealer, who reveals that Freeze made a deal with the Penguin to steal cryogenic weapons from GothCorp, in exchange for Penguin’s help in kidnapping Ferris. Batman is confused, since GothCorp doesn’t produce weapons. Using the entry codes from the dealer, Batman enters the building, where he learns that Ferris is being taken to the Propellant Research Wing. Getting the security codes from the main man in charge, Batman pursues them. Penguin has taken Boyle hostage and has betrayed Freeze, wanting the weapons he was promised. Batman intervenes, giving Freeze the chance to recapture Ferris and freeze everyone, including Penguin, although not before telling Batman that his threats mean nothing to “a man who has lost everything.” Batman learns from Penguin that Freeze wants Boyle so he can access some kind of super weapon. Also, that the only way to break through the ice blocking the way through and containing Penguin in is a Cryo Drill that he has his men safe guard at My Alibi Night Club. Traveling to My Alibi, Batman has Alfred drop the XE suit in a container onto the rooftop. Donning the suit, Batman breaks into the nightclub and fights off Penguin’s men. Interrogating the last one, he learns that the Cryo Drill was broken into two pieces. After gathering the pieces, he discovers that the device requires a supercooled fluid, which is only found in Victor Fries’ lab at GothCorp.