Ed. Note: As the famed Balmoral Park in Crete, Illinois prepares to host its final scheduled harness races tonight, I'm turning things over to the person who introduced me to "the track" - my Dad... just as his Father did before him. -- JZ
As a baby boomer in the 50’s dear old dad would wake me up in the wee hours of the morning to go fishing on the Kankakee River and we’d travel Dixie Highway, Route 1 in Crete, Illinois in route to our favorite spots….I always was intrigued by a big brick building we’d pass surrounded by overgrown weeds, and a look of neglect. I was told it was a racetrack once, known as Lincoln Fields and that famous horses raced there. Years later, in the late 1960’s, the place would be reborn under the ownership of William S. Miller, a millionaire breeder and former chairman of the Illinois Racing Board. The lights went on at the new Balmoral in the late 60’s and my father, Harold, and I were there to welcome it back to life! The scene was repeated countless times in the years to follow….we’d feel the excitement build as we could see the lights from quite a distance illuminating the nighttime sky from its rural Crete location. As a broadcaster in the 70’s, Balmoral was a sponsor of one of harness racing’s first regularly scheduled radio programs, Harness Happenings, that I hosted. During that time I met and interviewed many people in the industry, from horsemen to the driver of the starting gate to the manager of the finance department! Also had the privilege of knowing one of racing’s greatest race announcers, the legendary Phil Georgeff who would on occasion permit me to announce some races ‘live’ at the track. Little did I know or even ponder the thought that 30 years later I’d be a late bloomer in the colorful sport of harness racing and actually own and drive in races on a limited basis and yes, suiting up at Balmoral was part of the package and racing there was indeed a thrill that few will ever understand let alone experience firsthand.
Two years ago, when my family and I made our annual visit to The Chicago Toy and Game Fair at Navy Pier, one of the companies that I pointed out as a highlight was Noochie Golf. The creation of two young brothers - Tre and Dominic LoBracco - Noochie Golf was at the time a concept that was on-display, but not yet for sale. A set of interchangeable pieces that would allow kids to build their own miniature golf courses at home, Noochie Golf immediately captured the interest of The Rock Daughters... and yours truly, a former High School Golfer. Now, after a successful crowdfunding effort and some bumps along the way, Noochie Golf has made it into production and is now available for-sale through the official site, and at select boutique toy stores. It's also a featured item in my 2015 Holiday Wish Guide here at THE ROCK FATHER Magazine.
DoSomething.org, one of the largest global organizations for young people and social change, and global entertainment company WWE and its Be a STAR anti-bullying initiative, are teaming up for The Bully Text: Superstar Edition. The campaign, now in its second year, gets young people to take action around bullying by playing an SMS text message game.
On October 27, 2K Games will unleash WWE 2K16 - the latest in their popular multi-platform franchise. This time around, things are getting interesting, as the latest live-action trailer features Arnold Schwarzenegger as THE TERMINATOR - re-enacting his hillbilly bar arrival, which finds him going face-to-face with a variety of WWE Superstars and Divas.
Dean Ambrose should really know better... when someone asks for "your clothes, your boots and your motorcycle," you say YES.
Tonight on MONDAY NIGHT RAW, the WWE Universe will be treated to a special Tribute to the American Armed Forces. Coming together to recite portions of a Memorial Day speech given by President Ronald Reagan back in 1982, WWE Superstars and Divas give thanks to anyone who has served, or is currently serving our Country - thanks that I fully echo as well. Check out the two-minute clip below...
On my trip to The Step2 Company's home offices in Streetsboro, Ohio last year, one of the items that really caught my eye was something that was still in the prototype stage, and not quite greenlit for production just yet. Fast-forward a couple of seasons, and that unique toy has just hit the streets as the Step2 Home Run Baseball Trainer - something a little bit different in this space, and certainly different for Step2. Having coached my oldest daughter's Pee Wee Baseball team last year, I would've loved to have had one of these on-hand to help the little ones build their "batting eye," honing their skills with a bat as they got their hand-eye coordination completely locked-in.
My fans know me for being a WWE Superstar, a title that conveys images of muscle and strength. But it is my mother who showed me what real strength is. She is my own personal hero.
Growing up, my mother was a one-woman support system, raising two happy children. Even though she was a single parent, I never felt a void. She was and is my mother, best friend, biggest supporter and role model. One thing that I learned from my mother is that you have to love and respect yourself in order to love and respect others. In today’s world, mothers often feel that they have to live up to impossible expectations – be a homemaker and a CEO; a perfect parent and a boardroom leader. It’s important for mothers everywhere to know that they don’t have to be everything, because they mean everything to their families!
The Flintstones and WWE. On the surface, you wouldn't think that the two would work well together, but after Warner Bros. Animation and WWE Studios proved an unlikely pairing could work with last year's hit Scooby-Doo! WrestleMania Mystery! (a sequel is already in the works), THE FLINTSTONES AND WWE: STONE AGE SMACKDOWN! has arrived on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital HD, once again presenting popular WWE Superstars and Divas in animated form. This time around, the action is prehistoric, and it's actually surprising just how seamless it all goes. Funny enough, I'd actually been approached to share some thoughts on the film twice - once from WWE (as some of you know, I'm a WWE Brand Ambassador), and once from Warner Bros. Now we're gonna give all of you a chance to win the film on Blu-ray combo pack, but first I'll throw down a few words of my own about this craziness - an adventure 65,000,000 years in-the-making.
Since the announcement that JON STEWART would be retiring from THE DAILY SHOW in the near future, WWE Superstar Seth Rollins has been pretty vocal about who should become "the future" of the show. Of course, it's the same guy that he thinks is "the future of WWE," and that's Mr. Money in the Bank himself. Last night on MONDAY NIGHT RAW, Rollins threw out some harsh words for Stewart - positing the question of how he could do a show "with his jaw wired shut." In the meantime, Stewart (who once played host to the most rockin' talk show of the MTV era - complete with appearances by WHITE ZOMBIE, HELMET and SLAYER) asked the WWE Universe how he could make someone look more foolish than dressing like "a S.W.A.T. Team stripper with LADY GAGA's hair?" Well, 52-year-old Jon Stewart may have just taught Mr. Rollins a much-needed lesson in respect. Take a look...
Black History Month is upon us and many use this time to honor African Americans for their contributions to American culture. I support Black History Month in its concerted effort to spotlight African Americans and their many significant accomplishments, however, while some might solely recognize Black history in February, our history is celebrated every day in my home.
WWE Diva Alicia Fox contributes a special guest post...
Black History Month is a time to celebrate freedom and the differences in individuals. There are moments of bravery to celebrate all year, however, during February we acknowledge the strength of great thinkers who inspired change in America. For me, those leaders cross the racial divide. It is not about being black or white. Leaders that include Maya Angelou, Martin Luther King, Jr., John F. Kennedy and Abraham Lincoln, have taught us that the freedom of speech, the freedom to love, and the freedom to be you is a right, and it is a beautiful thing that we are able to share these freedoms with one another.
After a huge response this past November, WWE is again going to offer a FREE month of WWE Network to new subscribers during February. The announcement comes in the lead-up to WrestleMania 31, which will take place on Sunday, March 29. During the month of February, subscribers will have access to all of WWE Network’s programming including a live podcast hosted by Stone Cold Steve Austin this Monday, February 2 featuring Triple H and the all-new, live pay-per-view event WWE FAST LANE on Sunday, February 22.