Sunday, November 27, 2016

Latest Super Bowl survivor pool results (better late than never)

Last fall, I ran the third annual National Football League survivor pool among my characters, their friends, and real life people.  However, I have not released the results - until now.

Luke Muellerleile, a former "student-athlete" at Carleton University in Minnesota, won this year's contest, as the Minnesota Vikings outlasted all other teams through six weeks of competition.  Muellerleile won the pool on Oct. 16, when the Vikings were 5-0.  Now, the slumping team is 6-5 and out of playoff contention, but there's still time left to salvage their season.  Nonetheless, Muellerleile still wins the grand prize of a VIP trip for four to Super Bowl LI and associated pre-game events, courtesy of NFL On Location.

He outlasted first-timers such as talk show host Patrick MacLeamy and NASCAR wife Sherri Pollex, as well as veterans like Billie Barefoot, Brooke Liptrap and Josh LoMonico.

Here are the complete results:
Arizona - Billie Barefoot (3) Eliminated 9/11 (23-21, NE)
Atlanta - Rhett Jeffers (2) Eliminated 9/11 (31-24, TB)
Baltimore - Brooke Liptrap (3) --> Seattle --> BAL Eliminated 10/9 (16-10, WSH)
Buffalo - Jim Brinson (1) Eliminated 9/11 (13-7, BAL)
Carolina - Steve Post (1) Eliminated 9/8 (21-20, DEN)
Chicago - Patrick MacLeamy (1) Eliminated 9/11 (23-14, HOU)
Cincinnati - Brittany Raylene (3) Eliminated 9/18 (24-16, PIT)
Cleveland - Dustin Fox (2) Eliminated 9/11 (29-10, PHI)
Dallas - Billy Bob Ribble (3) Eliminated 9/12 (20-19, NYG)
Denver - Sherri Pollex (1) --> Carolina Eliminated 10/2 (38-21, ATL)
Detroit - Harvey Barefoot (2) Eliminated 9/25 (21-14, GB)
Green Bay - Katie Von Hinz (2) Eliminated 9/18 (17-14, MIN)
Houston - Bamm Bamm Plumpkin (2) Eliminated 9/22 (27-0, NE)
Indianapolis - Rita McBuddy (2) Eliminated 9/11 (39-35, DET)
Jacksonville - Barbie Blank (3) Eliminated 9/11 (27-23, GB)
Kansas City - Brendon Bump (1) Eliminated 9/18 (19-12, HOU)
Los Angeles - Blinky Blink (1) Eliminated 9/12 (28-0, SF)
Miami - Brittany Ramos (3) Eliminated 9/11 (12-10, SEA)
Minnesota - Luke Muellerleile (2) --> Washington --> MIN (season winner)
New England - Marc McBrien/Anthony Buttinelli (1) --> San Diego Eliminated 10/2 (35-34, NO)
New Orleans - Ricky Hooter (1) Eliminated 9/11 (35-34, OAK)
NY Giants - Ron Barnes (2) Eliminated 9/25 (29-27, WSH)
NY Jets - Jake Stubblebine (1) Eliminated 9/11 (23-22, CIN)
Oakland - Bobbington Brandt (2) Eliminated 9/18 (35-27, ATL)
Philadelphia - Bud Strickland (2) --> Arizona Eliminated 10/2 (17-13, LA)
Pittsburgh - Josh LoMonico (3) Eliminated 9/25 (34-3, PHI)
San Diego - Alecia A. Moore (1) Eliminated 9/11 (33-27, KC)
San Francisco - Ralph Ortiz (1) Eliminated 9/18 (46-29, CAR)
Seattle - Brian Warner (3) Eliminated 9/18 (9-3, LA)
Tampa Bay - Alonzo "Popeye" Barefoot (1) Eliminated 9/18 (40-7, AZ)
Tennessee - Lyndsey Rowley (1) Eliminated 9/11 (25-16, MIN)
Washington - Lyman Bowling, Jr. (1) Eliminated 9/12 (38-16, PIT)

Names in red are those of actual people.  Numbers in parentheses are the total number of contests for each contestant.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Busy week on Photoshop

I have played around with Adobe Photoshop a lot over the last week.  Here are three of the items I have completed.

First, I retrieved a photo of a North Carolina-based rock band called The Aviators, who performed at a recent festival in Harnett County.  Since they aren't well-known figures elsewhere, I simply placed the photo in a new file and re-identified them as members of betaBOOZEbrain.  I created them as a group with boy-band looks that record harder-edge rock music, so imagine if the Backstreet Boys had a playlist similar to Pearl Jam or KISS.  I imagined them as a four-piece band, but expanded it to a quintet by adding another guitarist, to match the setup of the actual band.  The name was borrowed from the 1989 game show Now You See It, which as I mentioned before is a favorite TV show of mine, and one I wish was more available in reruns.


Up next is a picture of British actress and singer Keisha Buchanan, who I have re-labeled with the coolest stage name I have ever imagined, and you'll see it below in the caption.  I have seen listings of people named Kimberley Wimberley in What's in a Name? Confessions of a Name-Dropper, a book by Paul Dickson, and of Kymberly Wimberly, a former valedictorian at a Mississippi high school, so I just re-spelled those.  "Shawnelle" actually came from a male basketball player who played in major college and the NBA, Shawnelle Scott.  As for "ButtaFly," it has two meanings: "butta" is African-American slang for someone who has a laidback demeanor, and "fly" refers to a sharp dresser, so envision the two concepts put together.  Also, a butterfly transforms from a cocoon, so it means Kimberly has grown personally and professionally.  My "ButtaFly" character is a spoken-word artist.


Finally, I have used head-and-body substitution to imagine Brittany Raylene (Buddy Wayne's wife) together with her mother Rebecca, grandmother Amelia, great-grandmother Ruth, and great-great-grandma Bertha.  Now, five living generations in one family is very rare, and that's almost certainly what such a picture would not really look like.  But, in the new Earth world I have created, anything is possible!  (The bodies are those of "characters" in the TLC reality TV series My Five Wives.)

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Brandy and Bunky's new "spin-off series"

Those who have followed this blog over the years know that I have passed along some of my personality traits and passions to my character.  For example, I love to travel and explore new places, even if it's just by reading about them or watching TV.  The siblings Brandy and Bunky Barefoot (two of Buddy Wayne's first cousins) would feel the same way.

I have written that their love of travel would have gotten them on the CBS series The Amazing Race had they existed.  However, their run would have ended well short of the finish line.  Brandy and Bunky returned home with the resolve to create their own dream trip next time, one without the pressure of competition and possible elimination.  The changes in the world since the glorious appearance of Jesus Christ would provide more incentive for the siblings to travel the New Earth.

Of course, the whole thing would be documented and captured in a new TV series.  They chose the acronym R.O.A.M., Ramble On A Mission, for the name of their project.  The resulting show is called Brandy & Bunky: R.O.A.M.

Here is the detailed summary I wrote for the premiere episode, which would have aired on Sep. 11.  I will continue to run through the season in subsequent posts.

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As the show begins, Brandy and Bunky prepare at home.  They pack all the food and clothing they'll need for the first part of the trip, plan out the stops along the way where they will get additional provisions, and study the stories of Marco Polo, Lewis & Clark, and others who explored the world using traditional methods.  Brandy and Bunky also inform their local church so the parishioners can pray for them, as led by their uncle Ralph.

Brandy also reveals that she has been cast for The History of Dance, a new live entertainment show to take place in the new Jerusalem.  It is a multi-act show produced by rapper/dancer Blinky Blink and her portion showcases ballroom dancing.  She is joined by Hylton Tripp, who she met at the local dancing school in Meadow; they have been together professionally for nearly a year.

On the day they leave, the siblings board a 80-foot-long boat, Pink's Ellie, designed and built by great-uncle Popeye and uncle Harvey (who is Popeye's son).  They take it down Oliver's Creek to the Black River, then to the Cape Fear River, eventually to the port of Wilmington, NC.  From there, it's a trip down what was once the Atlantic Ocean - now a series of smaller lakes and connected rivers - to the Caribbean land of Jamaica.  Specifically, Brandy and Bunky make a call at Port Royal.

Port Royal, once known as the bawdy headquarters for Caribbean pirates, was destroyed in an earthquake in 1720.  After Christ returned, Bertland McSween - a pastor and entertainer - found the old plans and convinced the Jamaican government to rebuild it as the centerpiece of post-Christian life in both the country and region.

McSween hosts a tour of the port and downtown.  He points out that Port Royal is now a thriving, multicultural city with four languages - English, French, Spanish, and Dutch - that are commonly spoken in the various neighborhoods.  McSween is especially proud to show off Blackbeard's Playhouse. 

It is where he conceived of Port Royal Review, the Caribbean entry in the King David International Festival - the same entertainment event at which Brandy and Bunky performed as part of Back Down Home.  On this night, the siblings enjoy two of the acts that were part of that review: R&B/reggae diva Zellie St. Brown1 and steel drum virtuoso Lewis Pipersburg.

The next day, McSween takes Brandy and Bunky to a sugar mill that was founded by British colonials but now run by descendants of the same slave labor brought in to work there.  The employee owners share their gratitude of being able to enjoy the results of their harvest.  One of the workers, Lucille, pointed out that economic deprivation is why - despite the natural paradise they grew up in - so many of them had to immigrate to other countries.  That evening, the siblings join the locals for jerk chicken dinner, followed a dessert of cake made from the local processed sugar.
1Short for "Battimamzelle," Old French word for dragonfly

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Thanks for your patience!

I know, it's been two months since the last time I added a post to this blog.  I can explain this absence with a number of factors:
  • I had to change computers twice in a 60-day period.  First, I replaced my seven-year-old Dell Inspiron with an Acer Aspire on Aug. 19.  Unfortunately, the Aspire had a serious power issue which caused the machine to shut down at random times.  After quite a few times of this, my mother and I agreed to return the computer to HSN to receive a full refund.  Then on Sep. 26, I bought a Dell Inspiron 15; except for a problem toggling between programs using the taskbar, there have been no significant issues since purchase.
  • I had to re-install all my software and apps each time I replaced the computers.  That left me less time to start or restart new personal projects.
  • With all that, I simply forgot about this blog!

That being said - since the story is set on the southern edge of Johnston County, NC - I must report that the lives of my characters were impacted by Hurricane Matthew, if for no reason except nearby roads and the one-room schoolhouse Bryson and Belinda attended were closed the week it hit.  The school would probably have re-opened this past Monday, one day before the county's public schools did. (This is because all the students live nearby and the school runs as a separate operation.) Otherwise, I can give no specifics, because the local newspaper that serves the area has provided no specific coverage of Meadow.  The chances, however, are that the power went out for at least the weekend after Matthew hit.  Then again, it may well have minimized the impact on the farm house, since it went off the grid about the time Gone Barefoot began taping.

I will end with a special reward for all of you: Remember Blondie - not the new wave band but the pianist I created as one of the label mates for Buddy Wayne Barefoot?  Here's a revised "publicity photo" of the versatile performer, who knows everything from Beethoven to Billy Joel.  (Please note that the bottom text was just to fill white space and all contact information is fictional.)

Saturday, August 27, 2016

John & Jennifer Barefoot's "golden year"

As much as I love my "second family," I am excited to hear about things that happen to their real-life namesakes.  That's especially true for those who live in the tri-county area of Sampson, Johnston, and Harnett counties of North Carolina, the same as my characters.

Early this morning, I learned about this couple who now live in Dunn, the largest city in Harnett County.  They recently celebrated their 50th anniversary with a small and intimate but celebratory party.  Here are the details from The Daily Record:
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John Edward and Jennifer Joanne Barefoot of Dunn celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary Aug. 21. They were honored with a “We Still Do BBQ” Aug. 20 at the Benson Fire Department. The renewal of sacred vows was their golden anniversary gift to each other. The ceremony was performed by Steven Campbell of Beulah Baptist Church.

There were approximately 100 guests in attendance.

Hosts for the reception were Mr. and Mrs. Barefoot’s children: Sherry Barefoot (Patrick Brooks), Brian Barefoot (Crystal), Tony Barefoot (Heather) and Amy Moore (Jeff).

The venue was decorated in a rustic theme. Floral arrangements included cream hydrangea blooms, sunflowers and eucalyptus. A memory table displayed photographs of the couple throughout their 50 years together.

Music was provided by the Touch of Grey Band.

Guests printed their thumbprint and names on the couple’s anniversary thumbprint tree.

Mr. and Mrs. Barefoot’s grandchildren are: Seth Barefoot, Hansen Barefoot, Matthew Moore, Jacob Moore, John David Barefoot, Haley Barefoot and Dylan Honeycutt.

Their great-granddaughter is Lauren Grace Moore.

Guests were served barbecued pork and chicken, boiled potatoes, green beans, baked beans, cole slaw, dinner rolls, banana pudding and anniversary cake.

Mr. Barefoot is a native of Anderson Creek. Mrs. Barefoot is the former Jennifer Joanne Thomas of Lillington. They were married in 1966 in Dillon, S.C.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Harvey presents his ideal UFC card

Finally, I come around to part two of showing Harvey Barefoot's love for the Ultimate Fighting Championship.  When he was at UFC 200 in Las Vegas earlier this month, he spoke to fans and the media about how his own interest as a fan has grown, and about the current state of UFC.

He also wanted to honor the promotion's history by revealing what he thought the ideal pay-per-view card would look like.  It would have 12 matches - five on the main card and seven preliminary matches, split between Fox Sports 1 and the UFC Fight Pass streaming service.

Harvey first wanted to pit fighters from different eras against each other; however, he also had to take weight classes and gender into account, so some matches had to be set up under other criteria.

The card Harvey made is as follows:
Main card (pay-per-view)
Light-heavyweight: Chuck Liddell vs. Jon "Bones" Jones
Harvey thinks this is the equal of if Muhammad Ali took on Joe Louis in boxing.  These are two of the most important stars in UFC history and their primes are about a decade apart.  Liddell was involved in memorable matches against Tito Ortiz, Randy Couture, and Quinton "Rampage" Jackson among his seven PPV appearances.  Jones defended his light-heavyweight title five consecutive times and might still be champion today if not for legal problems and failed drug tests.
Heavyweight: Randy Couture vs. Brock Lesnar II
Couture was UFC champion as both heavyweight and light-heavyweight and crossed over to be a movie actor (The Expendables).  Lesnar, a champion in NCAA college wrestling and WWE as well as UFC, defeated Couture at UFC 91 in 2008 to win the heavyweight championship.
Bantamweight(women): Ronda Rousey vs. Cristiane "Cyborg" Justino
Rousey so impressed UFC president Dana White that the organization bought the Strikeforce promotion just to get her contract!  Rousey then was awarded the inaugural bantamweight title and defended it three times before she was upset by Holly Holm at UFC 193 in November 2015.  During her title reign, Rousey became the face of UFC and a symbol of women's empowerment.  Cyborg, who may well be the second-best female fighter today, made her UFC debut at UFC 198 in May 2016.
Middleweight: Anderson Silva vs. Michael Bisping
Bisping and Silva are first and second on the all-time list for most wins in UFC fights.  Despite Bisping's success, he was not given a title shot until UFC 199, when he defeated champion Luke Rockhold as an injury replacement.  Silva's career was derailed by drug use and a broken leg, but he did come back to face Daniel Cormier at UFC 200 on just two weeks notice (he lost).
Lightweight: B.J. Penn vs. Conor McGregor
McGregor, one of today's biggest superstars, holds the record for quickest victory in a title defense (he beat José Aldo in 13 seconds at UFC 194).  Penn was one of the promotion's biggest stars throughout the mid-2000s.
Undercard (Fox Sports 1)
Welterweight: Georges St.-Pierre vs. Matt Hughes III
St.-Pierre defeated Hughes at UFC 65, then again at UFC 79.  Hughes may have been the first fighter to write an autobiography, Made In America.
Light-heavyweight: Royce Gracie vs. Quinton "Rampage" Jackson
Gracie was UFC's first real star, having won two of the first three tournaments.  More importantly, he probably set the blueprint for what the sport of mixed martial arts is today.  Jackson, a champion in PRIDE, UFC, and Bellator, is best known for his wolf-like howl as he entered the ring and after each win.
Bantamweight: José Aldo vs. Dominick Cruz
Both Aldo and Cruz are former champions and mainstays on UFC pay-per-views over the last half-decade.
Strawweight(w): Tecia Torres vs. Carla Esparza II
This would be a rematch of the finale of The Ultimate Fighter in season 21, which Esparza won.  It's the only season in the franchise in which the tournament decided a champion; in this case, the first-ever UFC strawweight title.
Undercard (UFC Fight Pass)
Catchweight: Tito Ortiz vs. T.J. Dillashaw
Ortiz, one of the biggest stars ever as welterweight, takes on Dillashaw, a former featherweight champ, in another "battle of the ages."  Ortiz faced the likes of Liddell, Ken Shamrock, and Vitor Belfort, while Dillashaw was an alumnus of The Ultimate Fighter.
Heavyweight: Mark Coleman vs. Cain Velasquez
Coleman was the first UFC heavyweight champion, while Velasquez reigned as champion twice about 15 years after Coleman did.
Bantamweight(w): Miesha Tate vs. Bethe Correa
Tate and Correa are two of the best female fighters in UFC history.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Brittany gets a makeover!

As before, I've been sidetracked.

For some time, my plan was to return to character as Harvey and discuss more of the Ultimate Fighting Championship, specifically his favorite fighters, matches, and moments.  But then I realized I have not been a fan long enough to judge these things.  Heck, I've been watching a series of countdown shows just to find out who these fighters are!  All I can do is hope Harvey had a great time watching Saturday night's UFC 200 card in person in Las Vegas.  UFC president Dana White had to do all he could to salvage it after the main event between Daniel Cormier and Jon Jones was canceled when Jones was advised of a possible failed test for a performance-enhancing drug.
UFC 200 poster with canceled match
Final UFC 200 promotional poster




I did go back to Photoshop to carry out an easier task: change the hairstyle of Buddy Wayne Barefoot's wife Brittany Raylene.  Inspired by such sources as The Sound of Music and the Wendy's logo, her new hairdo now features pigtails on both sides.

For this, I placed the face of former NFL cheerleader Katie Klaasen (a/k/a Brittany) on top of a photo of an unidentified girl who lives in Harnett County, NC.  The pigtail on the left was selected and replaced to the right to adjust to how different Brittany's face is curved compared to that of the original girl.  Then, just for blanks and giggles, I used the text tool and rasterization to "embroider" Brittany's "real name" on the neck of the shirt the Harnett County girl wore.

What do you think of this?