Category Archives: Video

Screening of “Run Free”

Runners and movie buffs:

Micah True, known as Caballo Blanco (the White Horse) lived and ran with the Tarahumara Indians of northern Mexico after moving to Copper Canyon in the 1990s. And while the Tarahumara are relatively unknown despite being some of the best distance-runners in the world, True became widely recognized.

His story is the focal point of “Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen” – a best-selling book in 2009 from Christopher McDougall.

To honor the Tarahumana’s running traditions and aid their ability sustain, True created the Cooper Canyon Ultra-Marathon, a 50-mile test of endurance in its 13th year. True’s desire to honor the essence of the Tarahumana people is being told in a feature-length documentary, “Run Free: The True Story of Caballo Blanco.” The film will screen Dec. 7 at 7 p.m. at Southside Works in Pittsburgh. Fleet Feet Sports Pittsburgh is sponsoring the event. “Run Free” is a recent winner of the 2015 Bud Greenspan Memorial Film and Video Award, which is presented by the Track & Field Writers of America. It also was honored with the Award of Excellence from the IndieFEST Film Awards and was named “Best Documentary” at the 2015 Arizona International Film Festival.

Tickets are $12 in advance at http://www.imathlete.com/events/runfree or $15 at the door. Fleet Feet Sports Pittsburgh is offering discounted tickets for $11 at its 1751 North Highland Road location. For more information, visit http://www.fleetfeetpittsburgh.com. For more info on the film, visit http://www.runfreemovie.com.

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Childhood heroes: Dusty Rhodes and Roddy Piper

It was a Saturday morning, 1980-something, and I was posted on the couch at my grandparents’ house on Water Street in West Brownsville. Nobody in the room could look away from the television.

Professional wrestling, as it was called back then, or sports entertainment for those born after 1990, drew us in like a tractor beam.

This wasn’t just some nickel-and-dime program filled with jobbers, ham-and-eggers and scores of larger-than-life characters. Nope, it was a replay of WrestleMania.

The first WrestleMania.

Within 10 minutes, I was hooked.

King Kong Bundy, Ricky Steamboat (who wrestled Matt Borne, a person I’d later write about as a sports writer), The U.S. Express (Barry Windham and Mike Rotunda), Junkyard Dog, The Iron Sheik, Cyndi Lauper, Mr. T, Hulk Hogan and two characters I was quickly drawn to – “Rowdy” Roddy Piper and “Mr. Wonderful” Paul Orndorff.

I was 10 years old, but I left my grandparents’ house a new man, transfixed by this blend of athleticism, brawn, violence and entertainment. It blossomed into a boyhood obsession. When forced to go to the grocery or department store with my mother, I immediately hit the magazine rack to scour pages of The Wrestler or Pro Wrestling Illustrated. I’d memorize each magazine’s wrestling rankings for various leagues – WWF, AWA, WCCW and, my favorite, NWA. I bought into characters. I truly believed Nikita Koloff was a Russian war machine incapable of being destroyed by American forces and, someday soon, he’d lead a communist takeover of our country and we’d be forced to live lives of misery, and singing Nikolai Volkoff’s version of the Russian national anthem. I spent Saturday mornings watching three consecutive hours of wrestling. Thumb wrestlers, rubber action figures, wrestling magazines – it all filled my closet and were among my most cherished possessions. I went as far as to figure out how to watch Saturday Night’s Main Event on my tiny 9-inch black-and-white bedroom television without awakening my parents.

We went to every card held at Cambria County War Memorial in Johnstown and Jaffa Mosque in Altoona. When possible, we hit matches in Pittsburgh. We watched wrestlers drive into the arena together. We were there so often, Ric Flair occasionally looked for us in the crowd so we could stand and salute the Four Horsemen. How cool is that?

Wrestling became such a part of my life I wanted to be a professional wrestler, and when I disappointed my parents with a report card, wrestling was taken from me.

Those six-week periods remain some of the worst of my life. At least me and a few friends had an imaginary wrestling company to ease the pain of not being able to watch.

Unlike many of my friends, most of whom developed a similar passion for a “sport” many of us believed to be 100-percent real, I gravitated toward the bad guy, or the heel as they’re called today. Hogan, Tito Santana, Steamboat and the like were of little use to me. I rolled with Flair, Arn Anderson, Curt Hennig, Jake Roberts and Randy Savage.

If the wrestler could cut a great promo, now that was worth something.

And when it comes to promos, not sure any did it better than Dusty Rhodes, the only true face who I found fascinating,  and Piper.

Rhodes, now there was a face worth following – the best face in the history of the business. Piper may be its best heel. Sadly, both died recently.

I received news of Rhodes’ death while driving to work June 11. It was a big blow. Rhodes was innovative, charismatic and the ultimate underdog. He wasn’t my favorite wrestler –  Flair was and always will be – but the yearslong feuds between the two leave me with lasting memories.  And no one cut a better promo than Rhodes.

Not even Flair.

Piper was the maniacal, kilt-wearing madman whose character was from Glasgow, Scotland. He brought instant heat to everything he did, and Piper’s Pit was often the highlight of WWF’s normally boring weekly programming.

Piper was a genius with the mic, so much so his in-ring work was not appreciated fully. From Portland to the NWA to WWF, Piper put in great work. He put people over. And, as wrestling fans wised up over the years, he became a beloved figure.

News of his July 31 death hit the news three days ago. Another reminder that we’re getting older and that the heroes of our youth can’t last forever, especially when those heroes made sports entertainment a career.

Ripple around the world

“If my words did glow with the gold of sunshine …”

And with that introduction begins the Grateful Dead classic, “Ripple” – a triumphant ode to Americana and one of the many highlights on the group’s best studio album (American Beauty). It’s filled with magic, bliss, power and myth. Its lyrics are a celebration, and the song helped make the Grateful Dead a religion to its fervent following, many of whom remain basking in the glory of the often-powerful Fare Thee Well shows.

Thanks to Facebook (yep, true story), the coolest piece of music I’ve witnessed since the Fare Thee Well shows – I took part in the couch tour – popped up in my time feed. It’s a tribute to Jerry Garcia and part of the charitable group Playing for Change’s Songs Around the World. Artists including David Crosby, Jimmy Buffett and David Hildago lent their talents to a stirring version of “Ripple.” It was released July 5 – the same day the Dead played their final show in Chicago – and honors the band for 50 years of changing the world through music and more. It’s pure magic.

“If I knew the way, I would take you home.”

Paul Stanley’s Inspirational Quote of the Week

It’s Thursday. It’s hot. It’s understandable if a boost is needed to get through the rest of the week.

Thankfully, the eternally optimistic lyrics of KISS frontman Paul Stanley can pull us through. Stanley’s ability to inspire didn’t end when KISS took off the makeup in the early 1980s. If anything, Stanley dug deeper into his reservoir of rock and roll righteousness, penning classics like “Lick It Up,” a beloved tour de force of live shows these days.

KISS also dusted off another 80s classic, “Crazy Nights” on a recent tour. That’s where we look to for Paul Stanley’s Inspirational Quote of the Week.

They try to tell us we don’t belong;
That’s alright, we’re millions strong;
This is my music, it makes me proud;
These are my people and this is my crowd.

That’s right, Starchild. It is your crowd. We are you’re people – the unabashed members of the KISS Army. “And nobody’s gonna change me, cause that’s who I am.”

Paul Stanley’s inspirational quote of the week

Part inspiration, part perspiration and part showman, Paul Stanley is one of rock’s ultimate frontmen, a persona so grand, I’ve dubbed him “The Walt Disney of Rock and Roll.”

Stanley’s lyrics are filled with imagery – visceral and inspirational. It’s the latter that’s inspired a new feature for this blog:

Paul Stanley’s inspirational quote of the week.

Every week, we’ll draw inspiration from Stanley’s often over-the-top lyrics. Apply them in life, and happiness is guaranteed.

“I know life sometimes can get tough!
And I know life sometimes can be a drag!
But people, we have been given a gift,
we have been given a road
And that road’s name is… Rock and Roll!”

There, feeling better?

For heel lovers, Super Bowl is a dream matchup

Sunday’s Super Bowl offers tough choices for the average, American sports fan.

In one corner are the big, bad Seattle Seahawks. They’re brash, led by motormouth cornerback Richard Sherman – a rare athlete who talks the talk but follows up by walking the walk.

In last year’s NFC championship, Sherman offered this post-game gem, arguably the most polarizing moment in recent NFL history:

Love the look on Erin Andrews face there. It’s like she’s saying, “Don’t you realize I’m hot? I don’t know whether I’m offended by what you’re saying or that you’re not fawning over me.”

In addition to brash, the Seahawks are big and bad. They bludgeon opponents.

And they boast a crouch-grabbing, interview-hating, Skittles-eating force.

In the other corner are the New England Patriots.

They’re cerebral, always around late in the postseason. Oh, and they’ve been accused of cheating a time or two.

Take away the Deflategate and Spygate scandals, and NFL teams don’t get more boring than New England, even if the Patriots have a history of taking on at-risk players like LeGarrette Blount (anyone else believe Blount orchestrated his exit from the Steelers?), Aaron Hernandez, Randy Moss and that Molly-poppin’ Wes Welker.

Yep, for many, there’s not much to root for this Sunday – take up sides with a bandwagon fan base from the Northwest with a coach who derailed USC football or a cheating franchise with a decades worth of bad sound clips.

But …

For those of us who grew up cheering for the heel, who booed Tito Santana with every ounce of energy when his whack in-ring skills were on public display or proudly displayed the Four Horsemen sign as yinzers at the War Memorial Arena in Johnstown threw garbage, it’s a dream matchup.

In this corner, we have the Seattle Seahawks, the Arn Andersons of the NFL.

Arn Anderson was mean, nasty and did anything to win. HIs four fingers extended are like Lynch’s crouch grab.

In this corner, we have the New England Patriots, the Curt Hennigs of the NFL.

Like Hennig, the Patriots pride themselves on execution, perfection and technical ability. Hennig provided far better sound clips than Tom Brady or Belichick ever could, but there;s no denying the orchestration both display.

Really, it’s a dream matchup. Imagine Arn vs. Mr. Perfect in their primes. We’re talking 60-minute, falls count anywhere, tons of outside interference and a title change.

Speaking of title changes, the Patriots have too much to prove after Deflategate.

Patriots 37, Seahawks 19.