Saturday, April 9, 2016

BMN Celebrity Superfan New Orleans finally ends!

In an unusual turn of events, I decided to skip two entire scheduled episodes of BMN Celebrity Superfan: New Orleans and go straight to the finale, which would have aired on March 20, 2016.  The final three are Brooke Liptrap, Sean Lowe, and Sadie Robertson.

The three remaining contestants gather at an office building in downtown New Orleans.  There, a board has been set up, which is actually a mosaic puzzle.  When the lights are revealed in a certain way, it reveals a picture of the bow taken by the 13 Barefoot Farm residents at the end of their New Jerusalem show.  The object is to reveal the pieces that are actually in the picture and avoid the ones that are not, and complete it as fast as possible.  The contestant with the slowest time will be eliminated.

After they had competed one at a time in the building, Brooke has the fastest time at 2 minutes, 13.5 seconds.  Sadie (2:21.6) edges out Sean (2:23.4) for second and advances to the final test of the season.

The finalists are taken by sport utility vehicle to the Grants' residence to participate in the move-in of the family to the renovated house and backyard.  Meanwhile, a ceremony takes place after which the Grants react emotionally to their new surrounding.  "This is worth waiting 10 years for," Evelyn says, to which Shandi Finnessey replies, "And this had to seem like a lifetime."

Brooke and Sadie go into the final challenge.  Both take seats on the bottom of a five-level elevator, and each is given a series of questions about the season.  A correct answer moves them up one level; they stay at the same level for each wrong answer.  The first to reach the top level wins the grand prize of a $100,000 donation.

The season is decided when Sadie knows that LeCrae was the first to make a putt for his team in the golf competition, but Brooke does not.  The Duck Dynasty scion exults, "I'm so glad I didn't finish in second place again!"  Brooke, on the other hand, is proud to get farther than even what she thought was possible.
Prize list
$100,000 donation for winner:
$25,000 donation for second place:
$10,000 donation for third place:
  • Sean Lowe - True Love Waits
$1,000 donations:
  • Heather & Laura Beanblossom - CEN Foundation
  • Candace Cameron Bure - Sherwood Baptist Church
  • Alex Debogorski - Inuit Scholars' Fund
  • Melinda Doolittle - Music scholarships at Belmont University
  • Bethany Hamilton - Soul Surfer Fund
  • LeCrae - C.O.G.I.C. Health Care Foundation
  • Shawn Michaels - Texas Special Olympics
  • Ryan O'Quinn - Creation Museum
  • Tim Tebow - Tim Tebow Foundation
  • Nick Vujicic - Life Without Limbs

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Some "ads" I made in InDesign

As you can tell, it's been a month since I was last on this blog.  Frankly, this is because I have run out of new ideas to put on it.

I created two new episodes of BMN Celebrity Superfan: New Orleans, which would have taken it until Feb. 21, but then hit a writer's block after that.  I can tell you that when I stopped the competition, there were four contestants left: Sadie Robertson, Shawn Michaels, Bethany Hamilton, and Brooke Liptrap.  Fortunately, I have a weeklong break coming up, so maybe I will finish the season then.  Of course, I will post all the results.

In the meantime, I have some "advertisements" to show you.  All of these are from an event program I created about the Pink Barefoot reunion, which is actually a personal InDesign file.  In case you've forgotten, I've inserted Buddy Wayne and all of the associated characters into the real-life pedigree of Miles Vinson "Pink" Barefoot and hundreds of descendants would come to Meadow, NC, for a reunion in every year that ends in an odd number.

Meadow is an unincorporated township in Johnston County and the U.S. Postal Service has placed it within three different ZIP codes.  For the program, I saluted the three communities with those codes.

The center of the area, officially called Peacocks Crossroads, as well as the Meadow Lights seasonal attraction, is in ZIP code 27504.  Also in this ZIP code is Benson, located in Johnston County.  In this small town of about 3,500 people, B.W. lived for the first 18 years of his life, then returned after a brief period of time overseas.  Here's the ad, which spotlights its two major annual events.

The Pink Barefoot cemetery, which will become the site of the family reunion in the time to come as prophesied in the Book of Revelation, is in the southwest part of the township and shares the ZIP code of 28334 with the small city of Dunn, population 15,000, in Harnett County.  This ad recognizes the two times it has won the "All-American City" award.

The farm house is in the southeast portion and shares ZIP code 28366 with Newton Grove.  Only about 1,100 people live in this small town at the northern edge of Sampson County.  In recent years, the town has seen an influx of Mexican immigrants, as evidenced by a Catholic church and ethnic restaurant/market located in the center of town.  Here is the ad I made for it; unfortunately, the website was down the day I tried to visit it and the town's Facebook page hasn't been updated since June 24 of last year.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

BMN Celebrity Superfan New Orleans: Episode 5

This is the episode that would have aired on Feb. 7, 2016. - D.H.

A shakeup in the teams begins this episode, as a random draw determined new teams.  Sadie kept Alex and Laura, while Shawn kept Tim and Candace.  Everyone else gets new teammates.  Heather is especially distraught; she says she has never been apart from Laura for longer than "maybe an hour."  On the other hand, Ryan and Melinda are excited about going to what they see is the team with momentum.

The new teams are tasked with making decorations that will help welcome the Grants to their new home.  Both sides do separate parts of the house and are judged by professionals.  The new Team Shawn wins the advantage for the main challenge at night.

For the main challenge, the teams are locked into a luxury box at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.  There, Jennifer - dressed as her mystery novel character, Ella Nellie Bell Littlebridge - greets them and gives them the rules: Using a series of interlocking and complex clues, find a way to get out of the luxury box as quickly as possible.  The team that does so in the fastest time wins immunity.

Teamwork is so important, but with these being two new teams, chemistry is obviously difficult to achieve on both teams.  When Alex Debogorski is seen misreading two clues, his new teammates on Team Sadie wonder if this is his way to subtly sabotage them.  On the other side, Tim Tebow tries to push Sean and Heather, maybe a bit too hard.

The new Team Sadie beats the new Team Shawn by about three seconds for immunity.  The panel then sends Heather home.  It was one of the most emotional moments ever captured on the show, as Laura says goodbye to her twin.  "Joni Mitchell was right: You don't know what you've got 'til it's gone," Laura says in confessional.

At the end of the show, Laura excuses herself to talk to Heather.  A producer then suddenly asks, "Would you like to go home, too?"  That's how the episode ends.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

BMN Celebrity Superfan New Orleans: Episode 4

It's time for me to catch up with the episode that would have run on BMN TV on Jan. 31, the week before the Super Bowl. - D.H.

For this episode, the teams come together to work on the backyard.  It will include playground equipment, a ball pit, a bounce house, tables, chairs, and a fire pit.  Shandi stops the work to make an announcement: Each team is now tasked with decorating the planters that will go outside!  The winning team in this part of the challenge gets the advantage for the dinner challenge.

Team Sadie's "patriotic" design of red roses and white and blue tulips is judged better than Team Shawn's hydrangeas in a vase shaped like an ancient Egyptian urn.

As with the previous week, the main challenge directly ties in to the work they've done all day.  It's a relay race through a mayhaw patch.  A maze is placed in the patch, and contestants have to answer questions about scenes from Gone Barefoot and its spin-off shows.  Answer correctly and the team member gets a clear path to tag to a teammate; get it wrong and teams will be diverted to paths surrounded by walls until they can guess correctly.  Alex Debogorski sits out as the extra member of Team Sadie.

Shawn Michaels gets his team out to an early lead, but LeCrae, Nick Vujicic, and Brooke Liptrap all answer incorrectly on their first times out, causing the lead to evaporate.  Meanwhile, Sadie Robertson and her teammates have a perfect score, leading to Team Sadie winning for the third week in a row.

At panel, factions against LeCrae, Nick, and Brooke develop, and the judges provide no clarity.  Brandon McLamb wants LeCrae to go since, in McLamb's eyes, the rapper has been the worst overall performer this season.  But Brooke and LeCrae want Nick to be eliminated, since they don't consider the limbless one to be a team player.  In turn, Nick wants Brooke gone, and tries to convince Mikel de Vries and Barbie Blank of the same.  Mikel agrees, but Barbie does not and prefers to send Nick home.  After nearly two hours of deliberation, Brandon convinces the others to go with his decision; therefore, LeCrae is eliminated from the show.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Buddy and Bobby's Super adventure: Day 3

This is what you have been waiting for.  Buddy Wayne and Bobby Ray Barefoot have made it to Super Bowl 50, fulfilling a dream that is probably shared by every American sports fan.  What's better, both of them have teams to root for - Buddy Wayne for the Broncos and Bobby Ray for the Panthers.  So here's what went down.

B.W.: We left our hotel room at 10 a.m.  This was well before the game started, but we did so to allow for the possibilities of a huge traffic jam on U.S. 101 - the main route between our hotel near San Francisco International Airport and Levi's Stadium - and a long wait to get into the stadium area itself as everyone had to pass through strict security.  However, the journey was smoother than we thought, and it took a little more than an hour for us to get there.  We passed security in about 10 minutes, so from 11:30 on we just roamed the stadium, talked to fellow fans who also showed up early, and signed autographs.

B.R.: As mentioned yesterday, joining us today are our wives Jennifer and Brittany and our daughters Belinda and Lizzie.  Also in our box at Levi's Stadium are Brittany's brothers Blanton Spears Jr. and Belcher Spears; Jen's parents John and Marshalene Pope, brother Jake Pope, and sister Melissa Rankin; Brandon McLamb and his girlfriend (and my cousin) Kim Strickland; and Paul H. Bryant, sports information director for the Meadow School programs.


Just before I arrived in my seat, I stopped by the media credentials center to be fitted for a GoPro device.  This is a miniature camera unit that will capture my thoughts and actions in a first-person format.  NFL.com will have a live feed and taped highlights will almost certainly be on TV as well.

B.W.: When he finally got to our seats at about 2:30 p.m., we felt an overwhelming feeling that words cannot describe.  The stadium looked bigger than any I've ever seen in my life!  After team warmups, the next act was to introduce all of the living athletes who have been named Super Bowl MVP.  That's when it hit me that all of this was really happening in front of us.

B.R.: By the way, I can't believe the booing of Tom Brady.  My brother is a Broncos fan and even he laughed.

B.W.: Either they all think he's a cheater or they're just being jealous.  By the way, Lady Gaga really surprised me.  She has a beautiful voice, dressed decently, and had reverence for the song and what it means to this country.

B.R.: Surprised?  That's what happened when you ignore the warnings of Brandon McLamb!  Anyway, the kickoff was the biggest rush I've ever felt in my life around a sports event.  The only thing I could compare it to was when I took the stage with my fiddle in the New Jerusalem.

B.W.: As the game progressed, I could tell that Bobby was more agitated and impatient on his team's performance.  Although both teams struggled to move the ball throughout the game, I think his lack of confidence had to do with how well our defense was controlling the play.  Even as we kept getting three-and-out drives, I knew that we could contain the Panthers time after time.

B.R.: I could look into his eyes and could tell that my brother came this close to pointing his finger at my face...

B.W.: No, I didn't!

B.R.: That's what the baby of the family always says!

B.W.: (Giggles)

B.R.: I marvel at how halftime went.  The performance was the usual spectacular, but what I'll remember more is how efficient the operation was.  The playing field was converted into a concert stage in only about five minutes, the stage was torn down even quicker than that, and the field was no worse for wear when it was all over.

B.W.: During the game I kept looking over my shoulder at Brandon.  It turns out he was watching the game on TV!  He was somehow able to use his Wi-Fi connection to get the live game stream.  When we were riding back to the hotel room, he confirmed that he was also watching the commercials.  His favorites: The never-ending Toyota Prius chase and the Heinz ad with the invading hot dogs. 

(cont.): I nervously counted down the seconds until the end of the game.  At the end, it was pure joy on our side of the box!  I was then whisked down to the field to enjoy the moment with the Broncos players.  I have pictures of me with Peyton Manning, game MVP Von Miller, and Aqib Talib.  I also received a "celebration" T-shirt, a "celebration" hat, and a dummy front page of The Denver Post (I quickly autographed the last of those items).

B.R.: As for the rest of us, we went down to the tailgate area and sat and talked while we waited for Buddy to return from the field.  Once we were all reunited, it was back to the hotel for our final night.  Our flight back to North Carolina leaves at 6:45 a.m. [Monday] morning and should arrive at about noon local time here, 3 p.m. local to us (Eastern time).  Only Buddy and I will be on it; the rest of us in attendance today will leave the area on a commercial flight two hours later.

B.W.: Super Bowl 50 was an adventure of a lifetime.  If you can go someday, please do it!

See also: Part 1   Part 2

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Buddy and Bobby's Super adventure: Day 2

This is a more-or-less true account of Buddy Wayne and Bobby Ray Barefoot's second day in the San Francisco Bay Area as Super Bowl 50 is just hours away.  Click here to see part 1.

B.W.: This morning, we were picked up at our hotel and taken to a small airstrip from which we boarded a helicopter to fly to the Napa Valley.

B.R.: There are, by one estimate, over 300 wineries in the valley, perhaps the place in the United States most associated with wine, so it takes a lot to stand out.  But I'm sure we won't forget where went, because of both the product name and the owner's name: Squashing Leamy Vineyard, owned by Katharine Winehouse.

B.W. What better name for a winery or its owner!  It was just meant to be, right?

B.R.: Of course.  But we wouldn't go there if the product was crappy or the owner difficult to work with.  Thankfully, Ms. Winehouse is emerging as one of the best boutique vintners in the area.  That means she makes wine in small quantities and sells most of her product locally.

B.W.: I asked her about the whole business.
  • Me: Is that your real name?  And are you related to the late singer [Amy]?
  • Kate: Yes, that is my real name, and no, I don't know of at least a direct relation.  But I am asked all the time if I inherited anything from her. (giggles)
  • Me: Where did the name come from?
  • Kate: Over a summer, my mother and I watched the game show Now You See It and I saw the letters on the screen.  When I got into the business years later, something within my brain recalled the "word" quickly and I saw how perfect the name was.  After all, unless you squash the grapes, you don't have a product, right? (giggles again)
  • Me: How did you get involved in the business?
  • Kate: I grew up near Philadelphia.  After college, I took a job at a hotel in the Napa Valley and decided I wanted to work at a winery.  I spent over 10 years in the business and saved enough money to buy a small building and a plot of land attached to it.  That was six years ago.

After that brief interview, we toured the 15-acre facility and had a tasting.  I have never drank alcohol in my life, so he convinced me to taste the product by saying, "If it was good enough for Jesus Christ, it's good enough for you."  I did taste the wine, but I ran to a nearby bathroom and threw up.

B.R.: Oh well.  You've got to build the tolerance.

B.W.: Whatever.  Anyway, we then got into a hot-air balloon and flew to a nearby restaurant for a gourmet lunch - roasted duck, potatoes, and mixed vegetables.  Yum!  I wish we could stay all day in this beautiful setting, but around 3 p.m. we had to go back to the chopper and head back to the city.

B.R.: Where to next, brother?

B.W.: We then walked the red carpet at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in San Francisco.  It was great to meet and spend a few moments with some of our fans.  We then went inside and joined the presenters for the NFL Honors award show.  In its fifth year, the NFL organizes a Hollywood-caliber show with current and former players, film and TV stars, and other celebrities.  During the show, we present the Associated Press Defensive Player of the Year Award to J.J. Watt of the Houston Texans.

B.R.: During the show, we got a phone call from Brandy.  We sent her to Taste of the NFL to represent the farm and our efforts to end hunger in America.  Taste - which itself is celebrating a milestone, its 25th year - includes current and former players, chefs, and other famous people in a food sampling and a social event.  This year, it was at the Cow Palace, maybe 15 miles south of where we were.

B.W.: As the night wrapped up, we caught up with the farm back home (Popeye's in charge in our place) and, more importantly, we met our families who will accompany us to Levi's Stadium tomorrow.  They are: my wife Brittany, our daughter Lizzie, Bobby's wife Jennifer, and their daughter Belinda.  Brandy will fly back to North Carolina and miss the game - at least in person.  Maybe the flight will arrive in time for her to watch the action on TV.

Join us for the exciting conclusion.  Go Broncos!

B.R.: Keep pounding!  And remember what I said on Friday.

("Katherine Winehouse" is actually Julia Gilliard, former prime minister of Australia.)

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Buddy and Bobby's Super adventure: Day 1

Last October, Buddy Wayne and Bobby Ray Barefoot agreed to split the grand prize in the survivor pool called Super Bowl Scramble: The Road to Santa Clara.  The prize includes tickets to Super Bowl 50, access to the major events held just before the game, exclusive tailgate access on game day, airfare and hotel accomodations.

The game matches the favorite teams of the brothers, as B.W. wants the Denver Broncos to win and B.R. is rooting for the Carolina Panthers.

What follows is an account of their would-be adventures on Day 1, which was Friday.

B.W.: We arrived late last night and got to our hotel rooms at about 10 p.m.  We got to sleep easily, which comes as no surprise since we traveled three time zones west to get here.  But then the alarm clock sounded at about 3:30 this morning.  Since the breakfast place wasn't open in the hotel, we had to go to our provisions of beef jerky and processed cheese.  Not what we're used to at home, but what else could we do?

B.R.: The reason we were up in the darkness was to travel to the Moscone Convention Center in downtown San Francisco.  That's the location of the Bridgestone Fan Gallery, which has also been designated as the "broadcast center" for the thousands of reporters and staff that have come to Super Bowl 50.  The first of our many interviews today was for the Boomer and Carton Show, which airs on WFAN radio and CBS Sports Network, and started at about 4:30 a.m.

B.W.: Former NFL quarterback Boomer Esiason and co-host Craig Carton marveled at how, unlike other "radio row" guests this week, we seemed not to come on behalf of a product or service.  I quickly corrected them: "OK, so that's technically true, but if I had to pitch something, it's NFL On Location."  Then I added how we won the trip to get here, the perks we're getting here, and asked listeners and viewers to visit the website for more information.

B.R.: Then it was on to CBS This Morning.  We were asked for the specific reasons we root for our respective teams.  At the end we wished Gayle King luck on her scheduled interview with President Obama and his wife the First Lady that will air on The Super Bowl Today, the network's pregame show.

B.W.: A catered breakfast followed backstage.  Pancakes, eggs, sausage and bacon looked - and tasted - good!  This is what we're used to back home.  We checked in with our cousin Brandy and with Noah at the one-room schoolhouse, then at 9:30 a.m., it was on to The Herd with Colin Cowherd.  The sports-talk veteran is now on FOX (radio and TV) after many years on ESPN.  Cowherd admitted he is a fan of none of what we do (NASCAR, country music, non-fiction TV) and was perplexed about my firing and re-hiring Miss Hambone.  But he admired our true passion for the teams we root for and asked us to put our predictions on the board, not only who will win but also by how many points.  My brother has the Panthers winning by 13, and said "I'm gonna kick...your...butt!"  I shot back with "I won't kick your butt, but you won't win either!"  I picked the Broncos to win by 6.

B.R.: I stand by my pick.  The Panthers will indeed kick butt on Sunday!

B.W. Whatever.  Next for us was The Doug Gottlieb Show, also on CBS SN and simulcast on CBS Sports Radio.  Gottlieb is a former college basketball point guard who has expanded his sports knowledge enough to get a daily talk show.  The discussion turned sobering, with topics such as Louisville taking itself out of postseason play due to a call girl scandal and whether Johnny Manziel will live to see another birthday.  But in the end, it all turned back to Super Bowl talk, which made it a bit reassuring.

B.R.: Onward and upward, to the massive NFL Shop.  Let me put it this way: Everything ever made licensed by the NFL is for sale here.  We bought about $400 worth of merchandise, including game programs, plushes of the team mascots, and a poster with replica tickets from all 50 games.  Next up...

B.W.: Oh, yes, the NFL Experience.  Before we went, I put on lots of makeup and a fake beard so I would not be recognized.  Bobby decided to go as he was, but some people pointed him out right away and he signed and took selfies with some of the other visitors.  You can see a complete list of attractions here, and believe me, we did just about all of them.  (For the record, I beat Bobby by about a quarter second in the 40-yard dash, giving me the right to simulate a kick return for a touchdown.)  Being just "two of the boys" was a great thing and gave us a great opportunity to escape the fish bowl of our fame, if only temporarily.

B.R.: Next up was The 50th Mile.  A cool thing!  Starting at NFLX, there are 10 kiosks with information about every Super Bowl so far.  At the end is Super Bowl City, which is a promenade at Justin Herman Plaza within sight of the ferry boat landing.  We mixed in with the huge crowds there, and then it got a little spooky...

B.W.: Let me back up.  There is a large music stage in Super Bowl City, with a daily lineup of performers.  On this night, the featured night act was OneRepublic.  Yes, the same band that sang the theme song - "I Lived" - at my public celebration of my NASCAR Hall of Fame induction last week in Raleigh!  Oh, and Hambone did a routine set to another of their hits, "When Love Runs Out," at the 57th Grammy Awards last year.  It's as if God ordained it!

B.R.: Because He did.

B.W.: After that, we wrapped up the night by playing virtual-reality football.  Unfortunately, here in this fake world, my throwing arm is not as good as Bud Strickland's!  (Strickland is a former high school quarterback and former boss of Hambone's at Camp Paradise in Four Oaks, NC.)  

B.R.: Back to our hotel rooms now.  What a day we have planned for tomorrow, starting in the Napa Valley and ending at NFL Honors.  Our adventure has just begun!