Thursday, August 27, 2015

MMA and Boxing: No true king

**note: We are having problems uploading photos, as you can see from the last few posts. Hope to add them later. Thanks**
When UFC fighter Ronda Rousey decided to mark her new status as female sports hero of the hour, one way she did that was sparking a social media battle. Boxer Floyd Mayweather was a recipient of the snark, and did his best to rope-a-dope the Twitter jabs. He’s no fool—she admires and is jealous of his status.

This is Rousey’s way of giving Mayweather props, whether she knows it or not. Observers are cheering her on, because of simplistic “good guy-bad guy” judgments. If you bully a perceived bully, are you a really a hero, or just another bully? Save that one for another day.

Rousey’s wink-wink attacks brings to mind the old question of where the better fighters reside: Boxing or MMA?

Actually, this debate gets framed as “if a cage fighter and a boxer fought, who would win?” It is a useless argument that’s been simmering for years. Same as other arguments such as Bill Russell vs. Michael Jordan, the variables are such that there is no correct answer. This shrinks down to who or what you like better.

The general consensus is that the first guy gets to use his arms and his legs. He has four-wheel drive. That’s a huge advantage—get the boxer on the floor and the whole game changes. But that’s because, in this hypothetical mind-movie, they would be fighting under MMA rules, not boxing’s.

We saw this when aging boxer James Toney decided to give MMA a try, and was promptly trounced by Randy Couture. MMA fans happy-danced over the circus act, not seeming to acknowledge the obvious.

Compare this to a cat versus a dog. The cat’s fighting and defensive styles would give him an advantage in most cases. Imagine a panther versus your prized fightin’ Rottweiler.

Rottie has some strengths, but he is forced to adapt to an enemy who has more weapons. The primary reason that dogs chase cats, and not the other way around, is size. Everyone knows the phrase “Styles make fights.”

Yes, there are surely some competent boxers in the MMA ranks. The top fighters are excellent athletes who likely could hold their own as a pugilist. But the exception proves the rule; it doesn’t negate the rule.

MMA figurehead Dana White spent a lot of time in UFC’s early years disparaging boxing. Well, of course, he did. We don’t expect Ronald McDonald to endorse the Hardee’s Thickburger. To extend that analogy, only a fool would trust ole Ronald when he tells us his burgers and fries are healthy. When White keeps telling us that MMA is safer than boxing, and that people die from ring injuries but not yet in his sport… doesn’t the phrase “famous last words” come to mind?

Boxing is a chess match, when done well. MMA is not merely street fighting; there is strategy and execution required.

The difference is that boxing is intentionally limited in what is legal. This is seen as a criticism in our time for some reason. But those are simply the rules, and it makes boxing into something MMA can’t be—a science. Both sports contain fighting. They part ways soon after that. There is no true king, except the one you choose.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Jim Brown is Retired. Here is Today's Best Actor-Athlete

From skateboarder Jason Lee to football's Fred Williamson, Hollywood's history is packed with excellent athletes who turned respectable acting careers. Alex Karras, Wilt, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and the nearly-forgotten Paul Robeson did it. O.J. belongs on the list. Best-of lists about those guys have been done already.

Besides, none of them are on active rosters. So who's the best actor-athlete still playing today? The pickings are slim.

After his role as a baseball player in Moneyball, Brad Pitt 's natural ability had a former pro saying, "He might have missed his calling." That's nice, and that doesn't count. Pitt is an actor, after all. If the camera's on, so is he. Do you see him hitting .200 against major leaguers? Didn't think so.

Texas proudly presents Jion Rastegar, the youngest to ever reach kung fu's black belt. He was chosen Most Outstanding Player out of a camp full of high school freshman--and he's just 11. Jion also cut his acting teeth in Beat Down. Too early to tell, but the sky is the limit.

NBA sharpshooter Ray Allen is slowly giving way to the league's youngsters. Plus, he's heavy on the basketball side of this equation. His resume holds only two notable acting roles to date, including Jesus Shuttlesworth in He Got Game. But being the all-time three-point shooter matters.

He's one of the world's most-hyphenated people, and Manny Pacquaio wouldn't have it any other way. Considered one of the best boxers pound-for-pound, he is a family man, politician, singer, and actor. The thespian slice of Manny is the exact opposite of his boxing: Plenty of excess and filler, not much punch.

With all that, the best actor-athlete so far in the 21st century must be Dwayne Johnson. That's The Rock to you. He bests every other current athlete's acting resume by several lengths. Johnson has appeared in Get Smart, hosted Saturday Night Live, and he was the title character in The Scorpion King. All of the promos he's cut have sharpened his comic timing.

One of his rivals, John Cena, might be a valid Hollywood challenger to The Rock. But... not yet.

The difference is, Johnson played elite college football, which should satisfy the sports purist. The Rock is today's best combination of box office draw, acting ability, and athletic prowess. Do you smell what's cooking?

Monday, August 24, 2015

Beyonce and Jay-Z's Baby: Why Hip Hop's Young Royalty is Dangerous

Nepotism in entertainment, and life in general, will always exist. In this life, it really is all about who you know. But are the children of rap's elite poised to ruin the music?

Beyonce stole the show at MTV's 2011 Video Music Awards, announcing the upcoming birth of her first child. She and hip hop luminary Jay-Z began a romantic and discreet relationship years earlier. Marriage and/or kids were rumored several times. The long-awaited pregnancy confirmation had the entertainment industry buzzing.

If hip hop was a person, it would be middle aged in 2015. The stars are getting older, too. As they come of age and begin creating families, a new paradigm is being birthed along with the rappers' kids. The children are attempting to take the musical baton from their parents. From the studio to the stage to the media, these kids are getting lots of help.

Nepotism goes on in every industry, including at the very highest levels of finance and politics. Families like the Forbes, Trumps, Murdochs and Waltons all have promoted within the bloodlines. Some believe that Hilary Rodham Clinton has benefited from nepotism. Pakistan People's Party leader Benzir Bhutto appointed her son next in line before her 2007 assassination, going against some of the very democratic ideals she championed.

Even Civil War-era president Ulysses S. Grant, highly regarded by most historians for his honesty, regularly helped incompetent family and friends get jobs.

An established family member helping a loved one get advantages is as old as humankind. The desire to help is natural, and not shameful in the least. But how does that nepotism affect hip hop music, in particular? Do the fans who truly love (not simply enjoy or occasionally listen to) the music have anything to worry about?

Will and Jada Pinkett Smith's children aren't old enough to drive legally, and are already mini-empires. They appear to be trying to build a family of moguls who would wield not only musical and financial, but political influence. At one point, jokes about Will running for President were circulating. The Smiths could be laughing last.

Kimora Lee and Russell Simmons have children performing in the entertainment world, too. Master P's son Romeo has been on television, in films, and rapping on records since the turn of the century.

Questionable talent and product quality from some second-generation hip hoppers has met with mixed reactions, with a lean toward the negative side. Some observers are simply jealous, of course; other criticism is meant mostly for comedic purposes.

There is no evidence that a familial helping hand necessarily corrupts. But it definitely can. Hip hop's relative youth in the music family means that changes in direction and quality have greater effect than on established genres, like jazz or rock. Added to the fact that a sizable portion of consumers don't see rap as an art form, there is a danger of this music being co-opted and watered down even more than it already is.

Food for thought from a Huffington Post commenter: "Do you know why there isn't much nepotism in classical music? Because you actually have to be good to win competitions and become internationally known.”

Online Romance: How to Meet Your Digital Sweetheart in Person

So you've met someone special on the Web. They are far away from you, but within minutes, distance seems to shrink. The first private chats blew your minds. You could hardly believe that two people had so much in common. This is it, yes? Yes.

The impulse is to meet your new best friend, as quickly as possible. You want a time machine so you can leave yesterday. Why wait? After all, you click so well on the computer and during phone calls. And don't forget the text convos that continued well past bedtime.

But check your speed before you ride a cloud out of sight, lover. Here are 4 things to remember, before Cupid's arrow grows barbs:

1) Slow down. If it's been less than a month, and you two are already planning to meet in person, the pace is too quick. Let the passion fade. Wait until you've had at least a few I don't know anymore if s/he's the one moments. Even having never met, your reaction on those occasions when one of you discovers a white lie or are otherwise disappointed will say a lot.

It's good when the two of you heal from those moments later, together. Yet do not be fooled into substituting these emotions in favor of real-world contact. Physical proximity gives you the sounds and scents of another person, their microexpressions, and the way we all look when exhausted or waking up. Wifi cannot transmit all of that yet.

2) Talk to your most trusted friends. Most people have at least one wise listener in their lives. Get them alone, and listen to the advice even if you don't agree.

If you are the host for this lovestruck meeting, arrange a collision between your potential partner and a few whose opinions you admire. Even a short exchange could tell you how your new circle might get along.

Children from previous relationships will also give a good reading of the situation. Pay attention--most of all, to your own instincts. The body knows.

3) Temper your expectations. Be realistic about this person you're tumbling over. You are basically starting all over again. Knowing everything about people is not the same as knowing them. Forget this at your peril.

The typed words, photos and videos may not represent the person accurately. In those moments before you lay eyes on each other, focus on simply loving your potential as they are. For both to be so accepting is rare. All of your communication has been electronic. Now you've landed in the real world, and real-world relationships are difficult.

4) Make a plan. Try not to be that person racing through terminals, having secured an last-minute invite from your love. Those looking to hook up will find this advice worthless. If this is you, enjoy the casual encounter. You will find that rushing makes the landing tricky.

For the reasonable traveler: Book a hotel room near your potential's house, and find your own transportation. Remember, you are actually meeting for the first time. Prepare for the possibility that the connection will fizzle within a few hours, and don't get stuck in an awkward situation.

Explore her town on your own at least once. Try not to spend every single minute together during the visit. Even if sparks are flying, at least you can look forward to returning to one another's embrace. Happy traveling!

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Hilltop Lanes is Best of Three Roanoke, Virginia Bowling Spots

These three Roanoke, Virginia bowling spots are sure to please any enthusiast. Be early for their Friday and Saturday night specials.

If you like to bowl and are in the Roanoke Valley, these are the best local alleys. The daytime prices for a game is usually under $4.

Those who want to take a break can walk over to the food counter for drinks and on-the-spot snacks. Games like pool, mini basketball and arcade racing are available. Each of the following places also feature leagues, discount passes, and weekend specials complete with lots of flashing lights.

1830 Apperson Drive

Salem, VA 24153


Lee Hi is normally open from 9 a.m.-midnight. Of the three bowling alleys local to Roanoke, this one stays open the latest Friday and Saturday, until 2 a.m.

The "last call" weekend hours mean there is no toleration of horseplay, so play nicely at Lee Hi. Lane maintenance varies from week to week, which means a two hundred game is possible for the intermediate bowler. Keep trying.

One good special: At least one night per week, Lee Hi features ninety-nine cent bowling.

1200 Vinyard Rd

Vinton, VA 24179


The hours at VAC vary from day to day. Saturday is the prime bowling day here, when they're open 12-12.

Vinton's alley appears less-visited than either Lee Hi or Hilltop Lanes. The game room is nice and service is very friendly here. Want a weekend lane at the last minute? VAC is your best bet. Call ahead during the week, though.

One good special: Wednesdays and Saturdays feature "Fifty-cent Mania." You pay five dollars upfront, then fifty cents for each game until closing.

5918 Williamson Road

Roanoke, Virginia 24012


Open every day from 9 a.m.-Midnight, except for Sundays when they open at 10 a.m.

Probably the best bowling center of this trio. The lane condition and sound system is good everywhere. Hilltop's is a bit better. If you want a weekend lane here, be early.

One good special: AMF offers a $19.95 pass that allows two free games a day, for an entire season.

A few excellent bowlers frequent all three alleys. So be ready for some impromptu competition, if you're up to it.

Prefer to keep it casual, but planning to hit the alley often in the near future? You may be tempted to purchase a personal ball and bag. Buy your own bowling shoes first. They will pay for themselves within a half-dozen bowling trips, and be around for years. The comfort you get from your own shoes could translate into better games.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Earned Trust: All Dogs Don't Go To Heaven

People hold up statements like these as if the words are wise. Are they?

We fill our eyes and hearts with 'profound statements' like this, through social websites and other media. Makes us feel kinda righteous. Some of it needs exposure as the tripe it is.

The wording in what Bill Murray says is strange, anyway. Look at it: "I'm suspicious of people who don't like dogs, but I trust a dog when it doesn't like a person."

The first half of the statement is talking 'in general'... I'm suspicious of people (anybody) who don't like dogs (any of them).

What about when the dog is the canine equivalent of a bad guy? We've all seen dogs that are dangerous, vicious, 'wouldn't want to see them on a deserted street' types. Would you still trust its opinion on humans? Would you trust a sociopath's opinion on other people? There are sociopathic dogs. If you never met any, you've been sheltered.
And we haven't even mentioned things like allergies, or people who simply think that dogs and all pets stink.

I trust a dog when it doesn't like a person. ANY dog? About ANY person?

Most of us understand Murray's sentiment here. But it is just bone-hard dumb, idealizing dogs as if their discernment is mystical and they are somehow 'better' or 'above' humans. What he says appeals to the animal lover: A good thing, because animals deserve our care and respect. Except for the times when the animals don't care for and respect us.