Monthly Archives: July 2014

Even a hammer-wielding thunder god has to change

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Note: More on my commentary about the recent change in Thor … and when I say more I mean I just fleshed out an earlier post. 

Change is inevitable, especially when it comes to comic books. Every fan of the medium knows that. Yet many fans still complain and kick their feet in rage when a publisher changes something in their books — particularly when it involves a character.

Last week Marvel Comics released an image of Thor the thunder god, one of their oldest and most iconic characters. It featured the classic armor, the blond hair and the god’s hammer Mjolnir. However, the person in the armor was a woman instead of the man that has been around ever since Stan Lee and Jack Kirby created Thor back in the 1960s.

Marvel said that this is not a transformation where Thor, son of Odin becomes She-Thor, daughter of Odin. This is a different character, who will take on the role of Thor.

Marvel said this change is part of a bigger story. The male character, who goes by the name of Thor, will continue to be a part of the Marvel Universe — though he will not be wielding his hammer. The publishing company confirmed that the woman taking up Thor’s mantle would be a character who is already in the comics.

This isn’t the first time that other characters stepped in and carried Thor’s hammer. The character Beta Ray Bill, a horse-faced alien introduced in 1983, possessed the hammer for a few issues. Other characters, like the X-Men’s Storm and DC Comics’ Wonder Woman, have also wielded the thunder god’s power in stories taking place in alternate realities.

This isn’t the only big change for Marvel. The publishing company announced that Sam Wilson — known as The Falcon — will be taking on the mantle of Captain America from Steve Rogers, the original Captain America. Iron Man will still be Tony Stark, except he will be “hard to root for” according to Marvel Editor-In-Chief Axel Alonso in an interview with Entertainment Weekly.

These changes might be a way for the company to tell their own stories apart from the movies.

Like many changes in comic books, these actions have caused uproar among fans. While some folks support these changes, others are denouncing it and claiming that Marvel is doing this as a public relations move to add more diversity to their characters.

My favorite comments are from the people who come onto social media and write something along the lines of “I haven’t been interested in comics in a long time, but I think (insert negative comment relating to the change).”

This kind of reaction isn’t just in regards to comic books. People tend to react to change in a negative way, whether it has to do with sports, entertainment or politics.

I’ve never gotten upset whenever a company like Marvel or DC changes something about one or more of their characters. When Marvel killed Rogers in Captain America No. 25 in 2008, as a fan, I was shocked, but as a writer, I wondered where the creators were going with the story.

I knew that comic book characters usually return from the dead at some point — except for Peter Parker’s uncle Ben and Bruce Wayne’s parents. Rogers returned from the grave less than two years after he was killed.

These types of changes give writers a chance to tell their own stories and introduce new ideas into the fictional universe that has been around for over 50 years. I’m not saying that I’ve enjoyed every change that comes in comics books, but I try and reserve my judgment until I’ve had time to process it and immerse myself into the story.

Like character deaths, changes in comic books don’t last forever. Mjolnir will be returned to Thor — probably around the time that “Avengers: Age of Ultron” hits theaters in May 2015.

When Thor takes back his place among the heroes, the fans who despised the change in the beginning — will go on to say how much they miss the woman who at one time was the thunder god — or goddess.

Al Stover can be reached at al@cheneyfreepress.com.

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Cleaning out the Cage Pages drawer for July

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Something I have been trying to get into the habit of doing is posting links to some of the articles I write for Cage Pages. In the past I’ve been able to post the entire store, however that is kind of frowned upon.

So I’ll share some of the links to my stories below.  I chose some of these stories for different reasons ranging from the response of the MMA community or how much fun I had putting it together.

Maureen Riordon can only get better after MMA loss
I wrote this the day after Maureen’s loss. She thanked me for writing an “uplifting” review. Sometimes you never know how you can make someone’s day – not that I had any large part in that. She was getting love from friends, family and fans from all over the world. I was just a cherry on top of the sundae.

Joanna Jedrzejcyk on path to stardom after UFC win
After watching Joanna’s fight, I was impressed by her technical striking and prowess she showed in the octagon.

Sarah Moras should fight Leslie Smith
Just my thoughts on Sarah Moras’ next fight.

Rashad Evans would do well in WWE
My thoughts on the rumors of Rashad transitioning to the world of professional wrestling. It’s funny how fans want to keep the two far away from each other, yet MMA fighters competing in pro wrestling is not uncommon.

Tiffany van Soest furthers her career with Lion Fight agreement
I’m a fan of kickboxing and I want to see it rise to popularity in the U.S. With Tiffany having some experience in MMA, it gives me a chance to at least touch on the subject.

B.J. Penn, Jens Pulver should be next Hall of Fame inductees
I’m a fan of both guys and I would love to see them get inducted – together.

Carla Esparza has a chance to prove she’s No. 1
With “TUF 20” coming up, Invicta FC champion Carla Esparza is starting from square one.

Kaitlin Young back on the winning track
Kaitlin is one of my favorite fighters and it was great to see her finally get a win.

 

If you like a particular one or have an article idea I should do, let me know.

MMA stars who could guest star on Mike Tyson Mysteries

Mike Tyson, one of boxing’s greatest stars is getting his own animated show on Adult Swim titled “Mike Tyson Mysteries.”

The show was announced at this year’s San Diego Comic Con and audiences also got a chance to view a trailer

Just as the title suggest, Tyson will take his skills from the ring and use them to solve crimes and save innocent people. Like any good quirky detective show, Tyson is assisted by three Watsons: the Marguees of Queensberry, an aristocratic ghosts; Yung Hee, a young lady who appears to be the voice of reason of the team and a pigeon, voiced by Norm MacDonald.

The show has a Scooby Doo vibe, as well elements of old cartoons that starred action stars. As hard as it to believe, stars like Chuck Norris and Mr. T had their own animated series where they only beat up the bad guys, but also taught a young generation life lessons they probably already knew. With the show being on Adult Swim, it’s probably not suitable for children. That said, the show looks pretty funny and could be a break out hit.

With Tyson being a fan of mixed martial arts, I wondered which fighters could land a guest spot on the show down the road. So here is a list of current and former UFC stars who could guest star on the show.

Keep in mind this is just my list and is not ranked in any way, nor does it mean that these are the only fighters who could guest star on the program. Some of these plots and scenarios are based off Scooby Doo tropes, as well as legends.

 

Brendan Schaub

From the trailer it looks like Tyson and his team will encounter some supernatural foes and one UFC fighter who has experience in dealing with the paranormal is Brendan Schaub.

“The Hybrid” appeared on an episode of The Travel Channel’s “Ghost Adventures” where he helped investigate the Peabody-Whitehead Mansion. Schaub must have picked up some investigating techniques, as well as gear that would help any investigation group that is dealing with a pesky poltergeist.

Schaub could even bring in his “The Fighter and the Kid” co host Bryan Callen in for the adventure. It would be like the time Scooby and the gang met Sonny and Cher. In all seriousness, the episode could begin with Callen and Schaub interviewing Tyson on their podcast and all of a sudden, all heck breaks loose in the studio and they must join forces to stop the Radio Host Ghost from ruining the studio.

And if the Radio Host Ghost turns out to be someone in a mask, Schaub could help subdue the bad guy until the police arrive.

So if Tyson needs some help catching a ghost? Who is he gonna call? Brendan Schaub.

Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic

One of boxing’s biggest legends teams up with one of combat sports’ most beloved fighters.

Although Filipovic has shifted his focus to kickboxing since leaving the UFC – he does a MMA bout here and there – I think Cro Cop could be an asset to Tyson and his team, especially if the gang had to travel to Croatia to face the giant rat that supposedly lives in the sewers of Zagreb. According to legend, the rat is highly intelligent and wants to take over the world.

Cro Cop could encounter Tyson in the sewers and talk about finding and removing the rat was one of his goals during his run on the Croatian Parliament.

In addition to his combat sports experience Cro Cop was also a member of the Lučko Anti-Terrorist Unit, which is Croatia’s elite Police Special Forces tactical unit. Combine this with Tyson’s boxing and the giant rat wouldn’t stand a chance.

Forrest Griffin

UFC Hall of Famer and former light heavyweight champion Forrest Griffin could be a valuable ally to Tyson when he and his gang have to solve crimes in Las Vegas.

Prior to competing in mixed martial arts, Griffin was a police officer in Georgia. Although he’s no longer in a uniform and doesn’t fight, the former UFC champion could still fight crime to protect his family.

His guest role on the show could that background character who the gang thinks is a suspect but it turns out that they are actually a law enforcement official investigating the crime. He could also be a LeStrade-type character that asks the team for help when law enforcement doesn’t have the means or time to solve the case.

In addition to his skills, Griffin is entertaining and would have great chemistry with Tyson and the pigeon.
The Scrap Pack (Nick Diaz, Nate Diaz, Gilbert Melendez and Jake Shields)

Nick Diaz is once again the talk of the town after he came out of retirement to sign a three-fight deal with the UFC.

There’s no doubt that Tyson and Diaz would be comedy gold, but the Stockton native wouldn’t be alone in his appearance on “Mysteries.” Joining him would be Cesar Gracie teammates brother Nate and friends Gilbert Melendez and Jake Shields. This would like the old episodes of when Scooby Doo and the gang met up with other pesky crime-solving kids and their pet.

The Diaz brothers and Shields is set to coach alongside Melendez on this upcoming season of “The Ultimate Fighter.” The episode could revolve around Tyson and his group getting a call from Dana White about The Disco Vampire – it’s Vegas guys – scaring the “TUF” contestants and the coaches.

After the UFC relocates the fighters, Tyson and the gang go into the house and try to find the ghost, only to encounter the Scrap Pack.

The two teams must work together to find and catch the vampire while enjoying some “Scooby snacks” along the way.

If nothing else, fans would jump when the groups split up to find the vampire and Nick delivers the line “Now, don’t be scared homies.”

The Four Horsewomen (Ronda Rousey, Marina Shafir, Shayna Baszler and Jessamyn Duke)

Another group that could join Tyson and his team on an episode could be Ronda Rousey, Jessamyn Duke, Shayna Baszler and Marina Shafir – also known as The Four Horsewomen.

Unlike the last suggestion with the Scrap Pack, this team up could be an homage to the episodes when Scooby Doo teamed up with the Harlem Globetrotters. The episode could start with The Four Horsewomen giving a seminar at a hotel and Lee is attending. It turns out the hotel was once known as “The Hotel California” and is supposedly haunted by a demon. Tyson and his team would have to cooperate with the Horsewomen to stop the demon.

There could be some cool character interactions. Baszler and Tyson could geek over wrestling and Hee could bond with Rousey and Shafir.

The episode could end with The Four Horsewomen asking Hee to join them, but the girl decides to stick with Tyson and her team because they need her.

If I have left anyone you think should guest star on “Mike Tyson’s Mysteries?” Make your suggestion in the comment section or tweet @cagepagesfs.

Airway Heights health fair photos

Last week I shot some photos from the Airway Heights Let’s Move Health Fair, presented by Airway’s Parks and Rec and the local library. These photos focused on some of the kids taking part in activities that a lot of us grownups you used to play as kids. Sack races, ring toss, and hopscotch.

All of these were fun to do as kids but as we get older we’re more tied to our jobs and we tend to stay indoors more. I’m especially guilty of this. After shooting these photos I’ve learned that it’s important to get in some physical labor and enjoy the fresh air.

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Health Fair 1

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Health is the level of functional and metabolic efficiency of a living organism. In humans it is the ability of individuals or communities to adapt and self-manage when facing physical, mental, psychological and social changes with environment.[1] The World Health Organization (WHO) defined health in its broader sense in its 1948 constitution as “a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”[2][3] This definition has been subject to controversy, in particular as lacking operational value, the ambiguity in developing cohesive health strategies, and because of the problem created by use of the word “complete”.[4][5][6] Other definitions have been proposed, among which a recent definition that correlates health and personal satisfaction.[7] [8] Classification systems such as the WHO Family of International Classifications, including the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF) and the International Classification of Diseases (ICD), are commonly used to define and measure the components of health.

The definition of health has evolved over time. In keeping with the biomedical perspective, early definitions of health focused on the theme of the body’s ability to function; health was seen as a state of normal function that could be disrupted from time to time by disease. An example of such a definition of health is: “a state characterized by anatomic, physiologic, and psychological integrity; ability to perform personally valued family, work, and community roles; ability to deal with physical, biological, psychological, and social stress”.[9] Then, in 1948, in a radical departure from previous definitions, the World Health Organization (WHO) proposed a definition that aimed higher: linking health to well-being, in terms of “physical, mental, and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease and infirmity”.[10] Although this definition was welcomed by some as being innovative, it was also criticized as being vague, excessively broad, and was not construed as measurable. For a long time it was set aside as an impractical ideal and most discussions of health returned to the practicality of the biomedical model.[11]

Yes Gina Carano should fight Ronda Rousey

The dance between the UFC and MMA fighter turned actress Gina Carano continues.

UFC President Dana White said he would already have Carano signed to a UFC contract earlier this week. In his latest statement, White said he would head to California and sign Carano on Monday and would probably have the former Strikeforce contender face current UFC title holder “Rowdy” Ronda Rousey in December.

Some folks aren’t too keen on seeing this fight happen. The media feels that Carano doesn’t deverse a title shot. Miesha Tate was quick to dismiss the idea of Rousey vs. Carano, saying that it would hurt the progress of women’s MMA – yet she quick to throw her name in the hat as a possible opponent for Carano.

I don’t think that Carano vs. Rousey should be looked at as a title bout, but rather it should be looked as a legacy fight, similar to Matt Hughes vs. Royce Gracie and Ken Shamrock vs. Tito Ortiz – although the latter was for the UFC Light Heavyweight championship.

I know folks like to list veteran fighters like Shayna Baszler, Kaitlin Young and Julie Kedzie as competitors who have helped women’s MMA grow and they’re right. However, Carano was considered the face of women’s MMA – a moniker given to her by peers and commentators.

The same could be said about Rousey. Again there are a plethora of female stars who have helped women’s MMA progress – and the women may have gotten to the UFC but Rousey was that spark that hooked White’s attention and brought him around to put female competitors in the octagon. And while a lot of fans know about the beginnings of women’s mixed martial arts and know of the different fighters who competed in the earlier days, the Rowdy one is MMA to some fans.

It’s similar to professional wrestling. There were a lot of great wrestlers before Hulk Hogan was around, but for many fans the Hulkster is professional wrestling. There were more great wrestlers before “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, but to a generation of fans, he is professional wrestling.

As for me, Carano was the person who helped me get back into mixed martial arts. There was a little show called “American Gladiators” and I was enthralled – let’s be honest I was in love – with one the gladiator named Crush. My friend Tom told me that she was a MMA fighter. I scoured the web and watched her match with Kaitlin Young and I was a fan again.

Why shouldn’t Carano get at least a match with Rousey. She won straight fights against a lot of fighters who are touted as the pioneers of women’s MMA. We know that she took a hiatus from the sport after her loss to Cris Justino. That hiatus has lasted almost five years.

And now she has a chance to show the new fans – the Rousey generation – that she has what it takes to step into the octagon and continue her  legacy.

GOT Ascent sell swords backstories

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Just an update on my “GOT Ascent” sell swords and their backstories. I tweaked some of the earlier bios because I actually did some research and learned where their surnames come from.

Helpful Kaila Oakheart
Kaila is a sell sword and apprentice to Ser Hugo. She grew up in an orphanage where her love of swordplay was frowned upon by the other children and adults. She later became Hugo’s squire after she saved his life. Kaila’s only trace of her family is the armor and sword she wears. No one knows if it belonged to her father or mother.

Bedwyck Farwynd
Bedwyck is from the Iron Islands. He is a good lad who grew up with dreams of being in the knighthood. After his mother got sick, he worked at the stables to keep their house. After his mother died he traveled Westeros until he found his way to Dorne where he entered into Ser Falfaren’s service.

Leonette Smallwood
Leonette is a dwarf woman who came into the service of Ser Falfaren after she left her home in the Riverlands. She is very cunning, clever and can handle herself in a brawl. She has the quickest wit in all of the realms and can retort any insult with verbal barbs that could start wars. She is also a trusted friend and can hold the deepest of secrets.

Clever Myrelle Westerling
Myrelle comes from the Crag, born of an aristocratic family sword to House Lannister. Her father was killed during Robert’s Rebellion and her mother shortly died afterward. Myrelle trained to be a sell sword before taking the robes of a maester. After a few years of traveling she settled in Dorne and offered to her services to House Falfaren.

Big Sumner Lyden
Sumner is a performer who can imitate anyone’s voice. He is also a talented costume designer. He is good friends with Leonette and the two can often be seen drinking together. Sumner has no interest in men or women when it comes to sex. He is fond of food and ales.

Dalbridge Locke
Dalbridge is a son of a banker from Braavos who had an affair with a woman from the North. He is a skill swordsman who decided not to go with the family tradition of being a merchant. Dalbridge brings with him a heavy heart, healing hands and a beautiful wife who is one of the finest jewel makers in all of Westeros. His favorite food is lemon cakes.

Jojen Cellador
Jojen Cellador is a performer from North who can recite plays all the way from the first ages of men. He enjoys playing the lute and has a talent for juggling any object, no matter how dangerous. He can sometimes be seen rehearsing skits with Sumner. He is accompanied by his pet mammoth Warmner.

Ermesande Sheepstealer
Ermesande was once a young criminal who specialized in stealing and butchering the livestock of farmers. She was sent to a sept where she learned about the different gods and the healing arts. When she came of age she was set to marry a young nobleman. She quickly fled her family’s lands and ended up in Dorne. She later became a part of House Falfaren’s service after he searched for a sept for his village.

Ser Arvyn Farwynd
Ser Arvyn is a knight from Highgarden who was once in service to House Tyrell. He fought in Robert’s Rebellion until an injury forced him to return home. When he came back he found his wife in the arms of Tyrell servant. Rather than take his wife to trail he used this as an excuse to leave Highgarden and travel South until he reached Dorne. He spends his days on adventures with the rest of the sellswords under the employ of Ser Falfaren.

Ser DeZeil Blackfyre
DeZeil was raised in King’s Landing and his parents were Targaryen loyalists who were executed for his crimes. He was raised by his uncle, who was also loyal to the Dragon, though DeZeil was abused as a child. He overcame his uncle’s abuse and became a member of the City Watch. After the death of Eddard Stark, DeZeil left King’s Landing and traveled the land until he came across a Dornish caravan. He became enthralled with a farmer’s daughter and moved to Dorne.

Sarya Gower
Sarya is from the Stormlands and a rumored lover of Prince Oberyn Martell. She currently has two bastard children – their father is unknown. Although she enjoys pleasure she does not identify herself as a whore and is quick to fight anyone who calls her as such. She came into Ser Falfaren’s service after he paid her debts. Despite rumors claiming they are lovers, they are only friends.

Lythene Storm
Lythene was born a bastard from the Stormlands. Rumor has it her father is a Gower though no one has claimed as such. She grew up on a farm and spent much of her days conversing with animals. When she grew to adulthood she studied to become a septa. A vision from the gods told her she was needed at Dorne where a white wolf wearing a blue cloak would be waiting for her. This became Ser Al Falfaren who gave her the task of healing soldiers. During a battle she took up arms and defended the life of Leonette Smallwood, who has become her friend. Leonette always stands at Lynette’s side.

Wild horse race is dangerous, but entertaining spectacle at Stampede

This weekend I had a chance to make it out to the Bi-Mart Arena to enjoy a little bit of the Cheney Rodeo. I haven’t been to many rodeos in my lifetime – in fact, this was the second rodeo I have ever attended.

I was in awe of the pageantry of the event. I also tip my hat to the riders in the various events, specifically the cowboys in the bareback and bull riding competitions. I’ve only ridden a mechanical bull and that was hard enough. I can’t imagine the skill and intestinal fortitude it takes for someone to ride a bucking bronco – even if they only need to stay on for 8 seconds.

Being at the rodeo took me back to one year where I attended the 90th Wild Horse Stampede Rodeo in Wolf Point, Mont. I had started as the editor of The Herald News and my second day on the job consisted of taking a trip to Marvin Brookman Stadium to take pictures.

Like the Cheney Rodeo, the Stampede featured several events including bareback riding, bull riding and barrel racing.

However, one event stood out to me – the wild horse race.

It consists of teams of three riders attempting to saddle, mount and ride a horse to the end of the track. Unlike the steeds used in the other events, these horses are wild and have never been ridden by a human.

The race begins when the horse comes out of the chute with a rope attached to it. Two riders hold on to the rope long enough to subdue the horse for their teammate to throw the saddle on and mount it. The rider has to stay on the horse and ride it to the finish line.

Teams are generally a mix of experienced ranchers and the average Joe. Their only protection worn was jeans, hats, boots and shirts. Some teams would ready themselves for the race in the usual fashion, stretching and going over their strategy. Others had a different method of preparation that included praying and drinking shots of Jack Daniels.

Although plenty of teams had success in the race over the decades, the year I went to the Stampede, the race had no winners – unless you count the horses.

The race was chaos. Several riders either let go early or were dragged along the track until their fingers released the rope. Although a few riders managed to get the saddles on the steeds, they failed to mount the horses in order to finish the race. As for the riders who were successful, their horses quickly threw them to the dirt

The race might be funny to folks who spectate, but it is quite dangerous.

Several riders had bruises and bandages to go along with the dirt and sweat on their clothes. Thankfully no one was taken to the hospital.

The race is considered the highlight of the rodeo because it was featured in the first Stampede. However, several rodeos have canceled the event over the years, not only because of the danger it poses to riders, but also to the horses.

Organizations like the Oregon Humane Society have asked rodeos to stop featuring the event. The St. Paul Rodeo canceled their wild horse race after an accident where two horses were involved in a head-on collision and had to be put down because of the injuries they sustained.

I can see why rodeos would cancel this event – even without the pressure from outside parties – however small towns like Wolf Point hold traditions and I don’t seem them canceling the race anytime soon. If there was a way to make it safer for both the riders and the horses – such as only allowing one team to compete at a time – I think this event could make a comeback.