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Sunday, December 19, 2010

Who is Madame Knuckles?

The great thing about having your own website is you can promote whoever you want! Well, I have promoted so many great artists and businesses over the past couple months, but this time, I am unabashadly, going to promote my alter ego, Madame Knuckles. Some of you you know who Madame Knuckles is and others do not. Simply said, I am Madame Knuckles! BelRockCityGirl and Madame Knuckles and Natalie Mulhall is one and the same, just like the Trinity, and before my last child was born I even owned a nail salon called Trinity. Anyway...

So, most of you know that I pal around with that great girl that makes Socks-That-Rock, Joelene Chinn. The night of Rockford Handmade I went to hang out and visit all my friends like, Jarrod and Brittney rorm Pirate Ninja Print Shop, JoJo from Crust 'n' Crumbles, Pablo from Caked, and also to meet new great artists like Danielle from Burlap Works who organized the outstanding event. So... as I was hanging out with Joelene, who was by the way, selling everything in site off her table, I noticed she had a few fingerless gloves made out of some scraps that she had left form her dolls. I thought they were really cool and bought one. Well that was when she started her sales pitch.

"Natalie, you should make those"
"C'mon, it would be so fun! We could sell together!"
"No. You make 'em. This is your thing."
"I make the dolls, I only made these 'cause I had scraps, but I don't want to make 'em"
"Well, maybe, I do have a ton of stuff that I could use to trick ' em out"

OK you get the idea. Joelene won. She totally talked me into it. And... I am so psyched that she did!

There was a small, little catch though, the show she wanted me to sell at with her, was the following Saturday! That night was the debut of the Rockford Ragdolls, the B-Team for Rockford's Roller Derby Girls, The Rockford Rage

That was Thursday, by the weekend I was upto my eyeballs in socks, ribbons, zippers, buttons, skulls, flowers, etc... I have been cutting and hammering energy drink cans, working with leather, and finding new ways to upcycle pretty much anything! And the results are pretty cool. I have now added more accessories like small handbags and beanie hats to the mix.

So now, Madame Knuckles has an Etsy Shop and can be found at the Brick Cafe and Gallery in Belvidere.
Oh... I do custom orders too!
If you like what you see, but don't see what you want, contact me! I can incorporate almost any theme into my design.

Please see ALL links to right. These are my favorite LOCAL people, places, whatever... Take a minute and stop by their websites. Keep it Local :)

Thank you to everyone that I have met this year through this blog! It has been so fun meeting all of you! I hope you and your families have a wonderful holiday season!
Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Raymond Did It - What is going on?

So, I talked to the movie making man himself, Travis Legge of Raymond Did It, Rockford's own horror movie, last week and he gave me the lowdown on what's been goin' on.

The premiere is scheduled for February 11th,right here in Rockford, and for some of us, that is really far away, but for Travis that time is gonna fly by! Last minute details, wrapping up the audio track, organizing the premiere event, oh, and A CONTEST! All of that will keep him quite busy over the next couple of months. And.. completely off the record, meaning not confirmed, just me and my mouth spewing my hypothesis, I think he might also be a little busy shopping out a couple of his other scripts. A man has gotta make money, right? He is a writer, correct? Well, here's hopin' someone picks up his scripts, makes a movie from them, and pays Travis beaucoup de l'argent!

Contest. Yes a contest. A contest involves you doing something in order to win something. Now, Travis is working on the details, which I will not share at this point, but stay tuned! There are all sorts of possibilities he could go with. Maybe he will have a Raymond look a-like contest, maybe a trivia quiz, maybe a contest to see how far you will go to prove you are his biggest fan. Only Travis knows, and he's not tellin'. As far as the prize...shhh secret!

How will you know when the contest starts? BelRockCityGirl of course! I will keep you updated with a couple more articles between now and the premier. Twitter. That's where it breaks first, so make sure to follow me @BelRockCityGirl and follow Travis @TravisLegge. Also check the hashtag #RDISTREET for lots of info about how you can get special Raymond Did It privileges.

RDI Street? I am glad you asked, purchase the shirt, shown in the link above, and you will become a member of the Raymond Did It Street Team and that is how you get the inside scoop and all those special privileges!

Most importantly visit Travis website http://www.aegisstudios.com/ for all the latest information and his blog!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Rockford Handmade

OMG! Rockford Handmade was awesome! I bought lots of Christmas gifts and spent lots o' money. I can't say who I bought from cause my kids read my blog but I will have a house full of "pinjas" huggin the coolest dolls around!

Gotta give props to Danielle Kelley of Burlap Works for organizing this wonderful event! The brewery looked beautiful and the talent matched!

I saw a lot of Rockford City Market artisans there, and that was a wonderful surprise. the Market was one of my absolute favorite things to do last year! JoJo @ Crust 'n' Crumbles, Pablo and Claire @ Caked, soaps and lotions form Etim's Beauty, the yummy pizza from Woodfire Brick Oven Pizza, all these sound familiar? I can't wait for the market to open again. Only 5 more months! I am really hoping Danielle will do this again! Wouldn't it be great if there was another Rockford Handmade before the City Market opened up? hint, hint. I know how much work it is to organize events like this, but this handmade market was really exceptional.

A few of my fave artists that didn't show at the market, but totally should, were sellin there wares at Rockford Handmade. Jennifer Mullin was selling her sweet Tiny Art. Jarrod and Brittney of Pirate Ninja Print Shop had some awesome shirts, bags, pillows and such with some super cool screens on them. I bought several. Just Sayin. The Sock Chic was rockin' the socks off people sellin' Socks That Rock! My friend Joelene Chinn is the artist behind those sweet, edgy, totally cool, art dolls that people can't resist! If you missed her at Rockford Handmade you can check her out at the Rockford Rage bout this Saturday! She made the mascot for their new team the Rockford Ragdolls. Her and I, aka - Madame Knuckles will be pimpin our stuff during the derby. Doors open at 6, bout is at 7.

Madame Knuckles
Great Gift Idea
A sampling from
Madame Knuckles

Oh, thanks for asking. Madame Knuckles is me,
creating some pretty cool gauntlets, wrist warmers,
fingerless gloves, you get the idea. Women, kids,
even men are diggin' these fun, fashionable and
functional accessories.
So give us some love and come check us out!

One last thing. I want to congratulate Javier Jiminez of Saturated Threads on his 5 year anniversary. He celebrated it with an art show that I unfortunately could not make it to, but I am sure it was off the hook! I heard there was live screen printing and a bevy of talented artists like Jarrod Hennis from Pirate Ninja Print Shop. Even though I didn't make it, I did make a purchase from one of the artists. Can't say more, sorry. So, Congratulations Javi! Sorry I missed it.

Please visit the links to the right and check out all the artists I have mentioned! Wouldn't it be great to support these locals in their art and give handmade gifts to all the sweeties in your life? Yes, I think so!

Check back soon to find out how Madame Knuckles' first venture into pimpin' her goods went at the Rockford Rage Roller Derby!

As my sons say...Peace Out!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Where the heck have I been?

ok. I know it's been a while, but I have good excuses. Really, I do. Here are some examples.

stomach flu
wrestling practices and meetings for 4 of my boys
school conferences
christmas shopping
thanksgiving at my house
the other flu
sick and sad american bulldog that is peeing evrywhere
lots of carpet cleaning
sorting through 10+ bins of clothes for 5 boys
helping friends move
clean sweeping my house to prepare for new christmas toys
husband's crazy schedule
grocery shopping
cooking for a family of seven
dog to vet
traveling for thanksgiving # 2

oh, and one other thing...


So those, my friends, are my excuses for not having blogged in a while. Hopefully this week things will slow down a little, no more flus, no more peeing dog, no more hungry kids...wait, my kids are ALWAYS hungry!

and there is no way in hell I am blogging from my phone again, It is a major pain!

I would like to provide you with an update of all my past features and what they have been up to, so if I have written about you, drop me a line and let me know what you have been doing and what is coming up next! If I haven't written about you but think I should, let me know why!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Rocktown Showdown - Local Fighters Enter the Octagon

Finally! So sorry sweeties! BelRockCityGirl had a few minor emergencies this week that put me way behind schedule. I wanted to get this up much sooner, but the busy life with five boys and a hubby that is equally as busy, got the best of me!

Our escapade to Rocktown Showdown 11 started with my visit to Core Combat Sports in Loves Park. I contacted owner, Tommy Woodruff, to find out about MMA training in our area. Tom invited me to his gym, if you could call it that, it is actually more like a compound, to discuss his involvement in MMA and the Rocktown Showdown. Tom has been involved in MMA in some capacity since 1993, the flagship year of UFC. Tom has nearly covered all the bases when it comes to mixed martial arts. In the past 20 years or so Tom has trained, fought, trained some more, promoted, opened his own gym, and big surprise, trained even more. Not being a stranger to training on the mat, has taught me many things, one of them being that if your coach works hard, he is going to work you hard, to make you be the absolute best you can be. And that is why we train right? Tom has a couple MMA fights under his belt but his true love is for BJJ. Tom has been training for nearly ten years in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, and you know what that means, Black Belt. That beloved, somewhat elusive belt is on the very near horizon for him. Talk about commitment! I almost have my BB in TKD and I think that is a big accomplishment. But when you have a trainer that fits you just right, it makes all the difference. Tom has been training with Jeff Curran, of Curran MMA in Crystal Lake IL, perhaps you have heard of him, ya know,The Big Frog? With a record of 31-13-1 including 19 of those W's by submission you can see why Jeff is Tom's go to guy when it comes to BJJ.

Tom fell in love with this sport and lucky for us, along with his partner in XFO- Xtreme Fighting Orginization, Dan Lardy, they bring us the best local, and not so local talent in MMA. Not only does Tom bring us the talent, he trains the talent. On this particular night The Rocktown Showdown 11 has seven or eight fighters competing, that train with Tom at Core Combat Sports.

Tom was nice enough to get Tim and I second row seats for the event, now there really isn't a bad seat in the house, but, I have to say second row was pretty sweet! Next year, Rocktown Showdown 12, in the spring, I want a table cage side. Nothing says awesome seats like maybe the chance of sweat and blood flyin' your way! C'mon guys, hook the girl up would ya?

We get to Giovanni's after a long decision making process about what I shall wear. Do I wear my Tapout, or no? I'm not a fighter, but I am a fan, so why shouldn't I wear it? I decide to wear it with my purple leather jacket. Wish I could be more like Tim. He has Tapout gear and he wears it. No second guesses, he owns it, he likes it, so he wears it. Plain and simple. We walk into the banquet room with a bunch of other Tapout, Skin, DeathClutch, Warrior wearing other fans and find our seat. We sit, scope out the scene, and decide to get drinks at the bar. Back at our seats we take everything in. Immediately I notice that we are sitting next to a very rowdy section. It doesn't take long to find out that those fight fans are here to support the No Joke Martial Arts Fighters. I am wondering if somehow Rich Whitenack, No Joke owner, somehow played a part in making sure we sat right next to their school. Rich and Tom seem to have a somewhat intense relationship, all in good fun though, seeing as though they are technically rivals. No Joke fighters fighting Core Combat fighters. Maybe Rich thought it would be funny to put the girl that is writing about Tom and Core Combat right next to his fans. But for all those boisterous No Joke fans, Core Combat was also well represented in our section.

Adam and his Free Agent
shirt- pic stolen from his fb page
 I spot a few of the fighters that I had met the night before at weigh ins, they are in the middle of their pre-fight prep, weather it be walking around and visiting friends and family or warming up with a little kickboxing. I was a little surprised to see Adam Kuhn walking around talking to people, completely relaxed. Adam, sportin' a MMA Free Agent t-shirt, came over and told us he wasn't fighting until the 11th fight, so he had plenty of time to prepare. We wished him luck and off he went to continue his rounds. We saw Frankie warmin' up kicking a target and decided he looked like he would do just fine, even if he was wearing pink! Props to Frankie for supporting the cause!

So, the fights are about to start and I pull out my notebook and train my ears on the announcer. Tim looks over at me with that look on his face that says " seriously?" Why would I change now? I always take notes during fights, and I do have an article to write. Like I could remember anything that happened without taking notes. I blame it all on Short Term Memory Loss from my wilder days of doing who knows what harm to those memory cells. I ask him to kindly pipe down and let me take my stupid notes. Whatever, is the look that came across his face with an eyeroll to match.

I am not going to hash every single fight, cause I am not that kind of writer, but I have to tell you about a few that made an impression. The 1st fight of the night was at 170 lbs. and featured Nick Brown of Core Combat and Robert Mason of McHenry. 3:52, 1st round, over. Done. Finished. Who doesn't like a finish? Nick caught the kid in a rear naked and got a TKO. Fight number three featured two fighters making their debut. Fighting at a 210 lb catch weight was Nate Weingartner of Rockford and Frankie "Ace" Ventre fighting for Core Combat Sports. Remember? Frankie was the one wearing pink. Now, he had to know that wearing pink would eventually bring out a few comments form the crowd, and right in our row I heard a girl shout "He looks to pretty, HIT HIM!" Classic. Well Frankie did get hit as did his opponent. This was pretty much a kickboxing match, lots of fists flyin' and kicking goin' on. Neither of the fighters could get it finished, but it was a good entertaining fight giving Frankie the win by a unanimous decision of 30-27 on the judges scorecards. Good job Frankie! Frankie now sports a record of 1-0-0.

Ok. we got a couple fights under our belts, the fans are having a good time, and Tim and I are thoroughly enjoying ourselves. We are totally into the "walkouts" and are trying to recognize each and every song. Next up, fight #4. This fight really has the crowd going. Fighting at 155 was JT (MMA debut) from Core Combat and Alex(0-1-0) from Attrition in Rockford. This fight had an awesome ooh and ahh soundtrack from the noisy spectators. Ground game all the way, BJJ, some ground and pound and some incredible reversals. Great fight to watch! Alex took the win at 2:11 in round 2. JT tapped out on a guillotine.

Fast Forward to fight # 10. It wouldn't be MMA if we didn't hear any booing. MMA fans aren't all that polite when they disagree with the judges. And this was the fight that evoked BOOS from the crowd. Tom Person from Core Combat and Kevin something from Midwest Training Center fighting at 145 featherweight. I did keep score on all the fights and on this one I gave the 1st and 3rd rounds to Tom 10-9 each. The second round I had to give 10-9 to Kevin. This fight went to decision 29-28 Kevin, 29-28 Tom, 29-28 Kevin. Split decision in favor of Kevin. BOOOOO! I wanted to boo, but held back. Tim and I looked at each other and smiled. We loved the investment of the crowd. They were not happy and they were showing it! Next time Tom!

Adam in a previous fight with a little
ground action!
Next up was Adam's fight. It took us a while to get warmed up, but by this time Tim and I were cheering along with everyone else, and we were cheering for Adam. Unfortunately, things didn't go his way. The Canadian caught him. Adam had to tap at 1:51 in the first round. Tap or broken arm? I am with Adam on this one! We talked to Adam after the fight. I was amazed at his attitude. Me? Sore loser, I would have been pissed off, swearing, pouting, you name it. Not Adam, he just got caught, it happens. He wasn't worried about it, he'll be back. I am sure he will and we will be there to watch!

Nicole O'Neil
Right after Adam's fight, Core Combat takes 3 more wins before the co-main event. The women. Rickie Gomes (1-1-0) vs. Nicole O'Neil (debut) fighting at 145, although, Nicole was light and Rickie was heavy, you wouldn't have known it the way that Nicole controlled Rickie up against the fence. Nicole pretty much set the pace and controlled Rickie when it got to the ground. It seemed like Rickie was hitting harder but not making as much contact as Nicole. Rickie's face was showing some blood and a nice lump under her left eye. Nicole? Nothin. Nada. Zip. She looked like she hadnt' been touched, except for the braids that were a wild mess on her head. Nicole grabbed her first 'W' with a unanimous decision of 29-28. Way to go Nicole!

Last fight of the night was a title fight between some kid from Iowa with a 10-3-0 record and Anthony Goodwin 17-3-0 who holds the 155 lb belt. You remember Anthony from my last article right? The crabby guy grunting at weigh ins until he got off the scale and flipped the switch to regular nice guy? Yeah, well he wasn't in any kind of mood to be messin around. The fight was stopped at 2:02 in the first round.

Yeah! We got our fight on and loved every minute of it. Favorite part? Having the chance to meet some of the fighters made it more personal for us and it's a lot more fun watching when you have your favorites. One thing I could change? A little more blood please. Yep, I love to see a pounding that produces blood. Over all we were very impressed with the fights and XFO and Rocktown Showdown has just acquired two new fans! Thanks Tom!

Only how many months til Rocktown Showdown 12? I need all you MMA peeps to keep me updated on the upcoming fights. As I told you before my memory is not so good. So, fans and fighters alike, drop me a message if there is something going on that I should not miss. Fights, seminars, whatever, count me in.

Big thanks to Tom and all his fighters! Tim and I had a great night and we can't wait to see all of you in the octagon again!

Peace Out

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Get Your Fight On! - Rocktown Showdown

As most of you know by now Tim and I are huge fight fans. On Saturday night we will be getting our fight on, or rather watching other people get their fight on. Competing, are about 20 fighters that have been training extremely hard to prepare for Rockford's definitive answer to MMA -The Rocktown Showdown held at Giovanni's. Tom Woodruff of Core Combat Sports, who is also part owner of Rocktown Showdown along Dan Lardy, invited me to the weigh ins and I jumped at the chance! ! I was able to meet some of the warriors, girls included, on Friday night when the fighters attended the mandatory weigh ins.

They came in hungry, thirsty, and looking forward to a meal that actually involved carbs. Olive Garden and Noodles & Co. seemed to be the craving of choice. Water was available for contestants to drink while they filled out the pre-fight paperwork, though no one would consume anything until after they made weight. Most fighters have a " walk around weight" and a fighting weight. It was easy to see, by the shaking hands that could hardly sign their own name because of dehydration, that most of these fighters had to cut some amount of weight. Surprisingly, the fighters, though starved and dying of thirst, with not much else on their mind except for their first real meal in weeks, were in good moods and having a good time with each other talking about the anticipated fights.

Frankie Ventre
While I was there I met a some fighters that fight out of some of BelRockCityGirl's favorite hoods. Rockford, Machesney Park, Loves Park, Caledonia, along with others coming from Wisconson and the Iowa border. Hometown favorites, training with Tommy Woodruff at Core Combat Sports like Frankie Ventre, which some of my Belvidere peeps might know since he graduated from Belvidere High, is fighting as a light heavyweight. That weight didn't come easy for him though, a few weeks ago he was walkin' around at about 230 lbs. Can't wait to see this guy fight in his Pink GSP style shorts that his mom made for him. Frankie is totally rockin' the pink theme for breast cancer awareness.

Adam Kuhn

Adam Kuhn from Dixon, fights out of Loves Park and trains at Core Combat with Tom also. Upon meeting him it is a little bit surprising that this guy with the infectuous smile is gonna go in and pound on someone! Don't let his youthful appearance fool you though, from all acounts that I have found, he can hold his own. Adam has quite a few wins under him and this definately is not his first rodeo... He's got experience and he is ready to throw down! I can't wait to see the punishment he's gonna serve his opponent.!

Another Core Combater Nicole O'Neil was there for weigh ins. Let me just say this girl was a riot! Loved her! Nurse, Mom, Personal Trainer, Fighter, and who the hell knows what else. She had a great sense of humor and had me laughin' at all the banter she was throwing the guys way. Offering Pedialyte, next best thing for re-hydration other than an IV drip, to the other fighters as soon as they stepped off the scale. You would think she was passing out glasses of 30 yr. old scotch, the way these guys downed the drink, actually made for little kids. Nicole has a record of 1-0-0 and she is fighting a more experienced fighter, she believes she can win, and I believe her. Unfortunately Nicole's opponent didn't make weight, she was 4 lbs. over. Nicole and Tom had a private discussion and decide that she would take the fight anyway. I can't wait for this fight!

Anthony Goodwin
There will be a title fight tonight which I am sure will not disappoint the fans. Anthony Goodwin 15-2-0 fighting out of Loves Park under Rick Whitenack of No Joke Martial Arts is defending his belt. I have to say that when Anthony arrived for weigh ins, he was a little...grumpy. he didn't really say much, kinda grumbled under his breath, but as soon as he stepped off that scale and downed a half gallon of water before he even put his shirt back on, he came to life. I have a hard time cutting 5 lbs. so I can't imagine cutting 15, 20, pounds or more, let alone in a couple of weeks.

I am sooo excited for these fights! We have great 2nd row seats, thanks to Tom at Core Combat, read more about him and his gym after the fights! I can't wait to see our very first live fight! Blood, the sound of impact when one fighter makes contact with another, maybe some bone crunching, who knows? I was told by Rich of No Joke, that seeing a fight live is very different than watching it on PPV. The blood, the sound of impact, everything, is more amplified. I am looking forward to that, and sitting 2nd row should amplify our experience even more!

Anthony, Adam, Frankie and Nicole, BelRockCityGirl and BelRockCityBoy are gonna be sittin' ringside cheerin' you guys on!

Check back on Sunday evening for the low down on the Rocktown Showdown! Special guest blog by BelRockCityBoy aka my husband Tim, will give his breakdown from a guys perspective!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Mulhall Fight Club

One of my fave movies.
Image may be subject to copyright
The first rule of Fight Club is you do not talk about Fight Club!

Unless... your me.

Like our house isn't crazy enough as it is.

My boys are fighters. I have come to accept that fact. After boy #3 was born there was a shift in the amount of aggression. Two boys? Fine. Add three more to the mix, and we got a problem. Well, not really a problem as much as a situation. If you know of a family that has five boys who do not fight, I would LOVE to find out what their family secret is.

Well if my boys are going to fight, I am going to equip them to be the best fighters they can be! Looking back, I am not so sure that teaching the boys fighting skills was such a good idea. Sure they used to get hurt when they fought, but now, they know several skills that are guaranteed to inflict pain. We got some martial arts skills under our belt from our Tae Kwon Do training, and it has not gone to waste. They used to kick and punch each other before, but that was child's play. Now, they know exactly how to snap that kick and put their body weight into it so it leaves a footprint on the ribcage - I am not kidding, an actual footprint, I saw it with my own eyes. Kicking is by far the most popular way to inflict pain in our household. Throw a kid on a sparring team and that is what you get! Punching. A whole new ball game now that they have some mad skills under their belt. They know that if they rotate their wrist right at the point of impact it will inflict more pain. Lovely.

Image may be subject to copyright
So, why in the hell did I sign them up for wrestling? Simple. I LOVE that my boys fight! I don't love it when they fight with each other out of anger though. I love that they train together and practice their skills with each other. And, I absolutely love it when they fight someone other than their brothers! What do you want me to do? I have FIVE BOYS. They have to fight. It is in their DNA. It is natural. It is fun. It is what boys do.

All summer, at BYB, my three youngest boys ages 8, 6, and 5, stalked this kid with a big skull on the front of his t-shirt. What boy wouldn't like that? After closer inspection and further research I told the boys it was the team shirt for the Belvidere Bandits Wrestling Club, and that the boy was the Captain of the team, Jordan Perez. ding, ding, ding, ding, ding! Sold. When can
we join mom?

So, it's been a while since I did stats for my high school wrestling team, and it's been a while since I watched Vision Quest, but a few times a week I watch the super stars of UFC and WEC wreak havoc on one another in the octagon. We all know that the most successful fighters have strong wrestling backgrounds! We are talking All-Americans here people. Creme of the crop. So, three of my five boys will be wrestling now through April, ending just in time for BYB.

Georges St. Pierre - double leg take down
Image may be subject to copyright
Rookie week begins. Rhino 5, Kevin 6, and Patrick 8, all want to wrestle. Fine. Maybe it won't be as aggressive as TKD. Yeah. No. When I think of wrestling, I think of a ground game. Two guys rolling around on the mat trying to pin shoulder blades to the ground for a "W". I don't think of how they get to the ground. I have somehow forgotten that they get there by being slammed down onto the mat by a double leg take down, and that my friends is exactly what they learned on their first day of practice. Great. Here we go again. And... coming up soon...armbars! Now we're talkin!

It is my job as a Mom, to at least pretend that I am less than thrilled that my boys know how to fight. But secretly, I absolutely love that they are learning these skills. If they are going to beat the crap out of each other, I want them doing it the right way. Yeah I am that mom. The one that wants to see her sons on the mat, in a ring, or in an octagon. I can't help it. They are gonna fight anyway, there is absolutely know way of stopping it. I might as well make sure they do it safely and are taught the proper techniques. TKD got us started and now we are just adding another repertoire to the mix. There are so many martial arts to learn and I got just the students to learn them. I am not quite sure who is more excited about our new sport, my boys or me.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Happy Brocktober!

Click here to view

Get Your Fight On! We are!
Watch UFC 121 Live on Pay Per View
8pm Central Time

UFC 121
Brock Lesnar vs. Cain Velasquez
Saturday October 23 2010
Honda Center in Anaheim CA.

Pre-view of the Heavyweight Title bout between
UFC's Heavyweight Champion of the World
UFC's #1 Heavyweight Title Contender

Click Here for Videos

To Watch:

UFC Pre-Fight Presser

Countdown to UFC 121

UFC 121 Primetime

Win a copy of UFC Oct/Nov Mag!

view full fight card here
image may be subject to copyright

View the fight card & stats.

Pick the winners of these fights:
Schaub vs. Gonzaga
Ortiz vs. Hamill
Sanchez vs.Thiago
Shields vs. Kampmann
Lenar vs. Velasquez

Post your picks in the comment section below.
so I can Contact you if you win!


In case of tie winner will be chosen at random from drawing!

Hurry! You only have until 8:55pm central time to get your picks in!

UFC Primetime: Episode 1 sneak peview

UFC Primetime: Episode 1 sneak peview

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

My Degree of Fandom

How do you measure how big of a fan you are? I suppose some people are inward fans and some are outward fans. My husband is more of an inward fan. He doesn't put one of those ridiculous Green Bay Packer flags on his car, nor does he paint his face on game day. He doesn't insist that we decorate the house in green and gold and he does not inflict his fandom on the other five boys living in the house by making them wear Packer attire. He does however scream and yell and cuss whenever it's game day. He does make sure to don one of his many Packer articles of clothing including a hat. No, not the cheesehead, although one does exist in this household. He must have "football food" and it is not enough to watch the packers win an occasional game, he must also watch the rival teams lose theirs. Tim likes to do this in the privacy of his own home and I like not to be home on game day!

I have been a football fan of varying degrees, on and off, all of my life, but never to the extent that Tim is, until now. I am not talking football though, I am talking UFC and WEC, or in general, any and all MMA. I, like Tim, have enjoyed watching the fights in the privacy of our own home. I, like Tim, yell and curse and feel extreme loss when my fighter loses. At this point I consider myself an inward fan, but soon, very soon, I am outing myself!

Jose Aldo and Chan Sung Jung
Image may be subject to copyright.

Tim and I are both fight fans. We have the PPV bills to proove it. We were so thrilled when earlier this year we were able to watch one of our favorites, Urijah Faber, fight on the first ever WEC PPV ticket. Actually it was not billed as WEC for branding reasons this fight ticket was tagged Aldo vs. Faber. I didn't care what they called it, it was one of the best fight cards I have seen. WAR. Korean Zombie. That's all I'm gonna say. Chan Sung Jung, one of my absolute faves, who also totally made my day by wishing me a Happy Birthday on facebook, (thanks to Brian Rhee) and Jose Aldo, who had not lost a fight in the past five years, totally threw down and I mean they stood up at went at it! Deemed fight of the night, each fighter received a $40,000 bonus. Never mind that he lost that fight by decision, according to my notes of that fight, the score card was 29-28 from all three judges. My notes say "kicked ass round 1" next to Jung's photo, also "Controversy" and I also noted that the crowd booed when the decision was read. Ya know what? To the people watching the fight, no matter who won and who lost, we all knew we just witnessed not only Fight of the Night but a contender for best fight of all times.

So we buy the PPV tickets more often than not, way more often than not. We trust matchmaker Joe Silva, whole heartedly. He puts these fighters together and gets it right nearly all the time. And that is what we pay for, excellent matchups and knock-down, drag-out, fights! My DVR is in overdrive all the time. I have it set to record anything with keywords like UFC, WEC, MMA, Bellator, K1, Shooto, Dream, and a few others.

The week of the fight I am quite busy preparing. I am a total nerd when it comes to this. I print the fight card, and start studying. Yes, all in the name research, I hit the web and make sure I know every ones record, what their strengths are, weather it be their ground game or striking, or maybe they are good all around, I want to know who they lost to and who they beat, and how, where they train and so on and so forth. I also go back to my magazines. Fight! and UFC are my faves! I can easily look at the marked tabs that I attached to each of my magazines and quickly find related articles on the fighters. I like to know something personal about them and their family and these magazines often give a personal perspective into their lives. That information makes me more vested in them as a fan, and that's what I like. I follow any of the fighters that tweet, and I keep myself updated on all the press conferences via websites like UFC, Sherdog, and MMA Junkie. Oh, and I watch every fight at least two times. I used to take notes and log into UFC.com and chat on the message board during the fight, but I realized I wasn't just enjoying the fight, so now I just watch. When it's over Tim goes to bed and I will be up til 2 or 3 am taking notes. A little obsessive? I don't care, I love it!

My Calender - Fight dates and all!
A fan? Absolutely. My degree of fandom? You be the judge. Tim and I will be taking our fandom to the next level. We are going to venture out of the comfort of our own home and go watch some upcoming fights at one of our local sports bars. All in the name of research of course. I am preparing for a series of articles about MMA in Rockford. We want to see the degree of fandom in and around our stomping grounds. I want to know how MMA is affecting the general population here in the midwest. I want to find out about the local gyms, trainers, fighters and fans. So, I am hittin' the streets and getting out there. Lots of fights are coming up. On October 23- UFC 121, October 30 - Rocktown Showdown, which is Rockford's answer to bringing MMA to the fans here in our area, , November 10 - Just Cause MMA Seminar with Dan Hardy, Roger Huerta, and Scott Epstein, November 11 - WEC Faber vs. Mizugaki, November 13 - UFC 122, November 20 - UFC 123, and November 27 - TUF Finale. How's that for a lineup? It's frickin' AWESOME! PPV and the sports bars are gonna love us!

I have a lot to do over the next few weeks to prepare for the articles on not only the UFC and WEC upcoming fights, but also the Rocktown Showdown and the Just Cause MMA seminar that I will be checking out at No Joke Martial Arts. Here's hoping that I will get to have a few minutes with Dan "The Outlaw" Hardy, another of my favorite fighters! With any luck I hope to give you a great article about this MMA Seminar that is making it possible for up and coming fighters to learn from seasoned well known masters of the art.

In conclusion, I would like to share with you a quote that Dana White made at the UFC 120 post - fight press conference when asked about the UFC coming to Poland.

"...makes sense everywhere. I believe that fighting is the sport that crosses all borders. It doesn't matter what color you are, what country you come from, or what language you speak. We're all human beings and fighting's in our DNA. We get it and we like it. It works in the UK, it works in America, it works in Poland. It works everywhere."

True, no? Yes.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Travis Legge - Raymond Did It

What do you wear to meet a writer/director of a horror film? Yes, I actually thought about it and decided a scary theme would be appropriate. If I would have known about the Kaotic Krew of Rockford then, I would have honestly considered asking Tony Grimmet, Joey Grimmet, or Mikey Hallgren to pimp me out...indie horror film style. Joey and Mikey worked as the special fx make up artists on Travis' film and Tony, the head freak maker at the Freakiest Haunt around, I met when I did the article on Karnival of Karnage. Damn! I would have loved to be a wicked 30 Days of Night vamp monster with blood running down my face and neck. That would be so awesome! That might be taking it a little to the extreme no? I have a feeling nothing is really that scary to Travis Legge, but maybe he would have taken one look at me at thought "PSYCHO" and ditch me at Octane Interlounge, which is by the way, Travis' home away form home. So, I settle on a little military green jacket that I made a couple years ago. I love that jacket but Tim Mulhall my sweet husband thinks its ridiculous that I actually wear it. Sorry Yobo, that's how I roll when I meet a horror film maker.

We meet at Octane over coffee for him and a very interesting, strong, Oil Slick for me. Holy Crap! I can't read my notes! Sorry. Anyway...Travis tells me that he first saw Poltergeist when he was like five. That is pretty young and that movie is still pretty scary. Ya know what? My husband just let my five year old watch Poltergeist a couple of weeks ago. Not so sure that it was a good idea. Oh well, no nightmares so it's cool. Travis had short films under his belt before tackling his full length feature.Take a look at the trailer of Kept one of Travis' horror shorts. Travis doesn't only do horror though, he is quite accomplished as a comedy film writer also! Check out Travis' youtube channel to see much more! Having the short film experience did prepare him somewhat for making a full length feature film, but this is big time, and big time can mean big stress.

Watch the trailer!

Shooting took place in Rockford, and Travis had to fight the "powers that be" in this city to get it accomplished. He fought tooth and nail to keep the film in Rockford. Travis is passionate about keeping it local. Lucky for Rockford he did. I think it's frickin' awesome that a horror movie was made in our city, written and directed by a Rockford guy, how sweet is that? The 14 day shooting schedule was brutal. 16- 18 hour days were the norm. Without a huge budget they had to stick to the schedule and get it done! Like any movie Travis ran into road blocks. He got the kaibosh on several locations he wanted to shoot at, an actor that quit at the beginning of the film, not enough$$$$, and don't even mention the hell he is going through now with the MPAA regarding his rating! But, this talkative, friendly, honest guy seems to be handling it well. Yeah that kind of crap pisses him off, but it sure as hell doesn't stop him. I think he is so frickin' determined that those kind of hang ups actually fuel his desire. It's gotta take a toll on you when you put your heart and soul, your reputation, and every last penny into a film that you love but aren't sure that it will return your investment. I am betting that it does.
Raymond Did It movie poster
Click here to visit Aegis Studios

After our long discussion of everything horror, including me quizzing him on the movies I like- I just wanted to see if my horror film tastes matched that of an "expert", and they do I am proud to say, Travis invited me to watch a few pre-production scenes. Hell yeah I am all over that! Somewhat amusing story. We were outside of Octane taking a "fresh air break" yeah, smoking, gasp!, and Travis asked if I still had time. In my mind I am thinking that it's getting close to lunch maybe he wants to order some food, I was excited at the prospect of having lunch with Travis and picking his brain a little more. Nope way off. He asked if I wanted to see some clips of the film! I was all like sure, why not? That's cool. Very non-chalant like. Inside I was dancin' an Irish jig screamin' Oh yeah! This is frickin' awesome! I was secretly hoping that I would get some "inside information", and that I did! I will just say this: I do not recommend drinking an Oil Slick from Octane before watching this movie. Unless of course you like to be totally jacked up on pepsi and espresso mixed together, and you like that completely wired feeling. Maybe it is a good idea, I am convinced being that jacked up made me jumpier and a little queasier watching the horror before my eyes! OMG even without sound editing the clips that Travis showed me were awesome. The lawn mower scene? Holy Crap. Yeah, when you think you might need a barf bag, that means that Travis is doing his job well. I am pretty sure that Travis told me his sister Phyllis, had to run off the set in a hurry when they were shooting that part. Pig intestines and pig blood were the culprit so I hear. I am not even going to mention that I learned the secret of how they filmed the "washing machine" shot. Did I say that out loud?

Aside from the extremely difficult, yet masterly produced special effects, this film has a lot more going for it too. The cast. Now I am not into telling you info that you can find on other websites, but I do want to mention a few of the actors on this film. Travis' son Trent, was cast as Bryce. Wonder how that convo went. " Hey son, you wanna get murdered?" Lovely. Raymond is played by Kyle Hoskins of Belvidere. Woot Woot for the Belvidere native! Holla if you think it's cool that Travis got veteran VH1 Scream Queens Lindsay Felton and Jessica Palette to play Tammy and Jayme. Holla! The talented Elissa Dowling of Clive Barker's Dread plays Paige. Please take a look at the rest of the cast and crew of Raymond Did It, you just might know some Rockford movie stars!

Lindsay Felton plays Tammy in Raymond Did It
 Who wouldn't want to see a movie shot in Rockford written buy a guy in Rockford with a cast from Rockford in a Rockford Theatre? Let's flood AMC Theatres with emails requesting Raymond Did It at our local theatre! Raymond is scheduled for release on February 11th of next year. Get the red carpet ready Travis I have a feeling you will have a ton of fans waiting to see this movie no matter where it is shown! C'mon everybody get behind this local guy and make a difference! I promise you it will be worth it!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Crust 'n' Crumbles

As usual I am running late. Story of my life. One word describes a lot about me -
P R O C R A S T I N A T O R. I like to wait until the very last possible minute to get something accomplished. I tell my kids all the time to just do it and get it done! I really should take my own advice!

Driving down State St. right past the AMC Theaters, where hopefully,
Raymond Did It, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rugfGyRaOh8 shot in Rockford, written and directed by Rockford's Travis Legge, will be showing come February, is where I saw him. The frickin' unmarked car with that tell tale spot light mounted near the driver's side view mirror. Big fat $120 ticket. SOB! Whatever. I don't want to think about that right now, it's to early to drink. Or is it?

Thank God, Jojo, who I later find out is a fellow procrastinator, is running late too. We are meeting at Katie's Cup http://www.katiescup.com/ a great place, that Jojo and I have frequented before. I get to the corner of 4th ave and 7th st. and there are cars everywhere. I park and go into Katie's and they are packed. I search out Ashley, the sweet girl that helped me with info when I wrote about Katie's Cup http://belrockcitygirl.blogspot.com/2010/09/katies-cup-midtown.html and ask her what is going on. She tells me that Alexi Giannoulias is coming in, hence the news crews and all the suits hangin' out. Not embarrassed at all I ask "Who is he?" I mean I know who he is... kind of. I knew hew was some political guy and I think I knew he was our State Treasurer and apparently he is running for Senate. Ok whatever. Basically a pain in my ass 'cause how are Jojo and I conversate with a press conference going on?

Jojo gets there and Ashley points us to the last remaining table back in the corner. I tell her what was going on and we both were trying to figure out exactly who Alexi is and how to pronounce and spell his last name. Then he walks in. Everybody starts clapping and, I am not kidding you, they give him a standing ovation. Jojo and I look at each other sitting in our chairs and share the look of "are you serious?" We remain seated and Alexi promises to make it short. News crews are filming and Jojo and I were polite, sort of. We were very quiet but we were whispering. We were saying that we both wanted to go over and say hello to Brad Roos, the boss man at Katie's Cup and the guy in charge over at Zion Development, a totally fab company. Anyway, the guy at the next table had his laptop open, headphones on, and was very interested in whatever it was that he was watching. Maybe a minute after Alexi starts his speech, the guy busted out laughing. The kind of laugh that makes everyone turn around and look. Yeah. So, heads turn, I look up and see the guy from WREX, blonde with glasses, GLARING at us. What the hell? It wasn't us!
Cartoon image by Jack Higgins
color edit by moi
Press conference over. Before we get down to business, Jojo and I head over to Brad. Warm greetings, blah blah blah. We are having a nice conversation, the three of us when Alexi crashes the party. He approaches Brad, I'm not sure if he knew him or not, but they engage in conversation and we are just waiting. I'm not sure why, but I was extremely amused watching this guy politic (new verb I just made up). I really felt like laughing. Jojo and I were chatting, I was asking her questions, " He's not bad looking, how old do you think he is? Is he married? Kids?" blah blah blah. Apparently, he was so intrigued by our secret conversation he came up to us and asked us our names and what we did. Yeah. Jojo Artisan Baker. I wanted to tell him that Jojo doesn't just bake the best freakin' bread you can buy, but that she is a total brainiac who is also a biologist/scientist and a registered nurse. No wonder her bread is so good, a scientist is making it, and it's all about the chemistry of the ingredients. Next, me. Natalie, blogger. Shakes our hands, has a little chat with us, then has a word with a guy who I am assuming is his assistant and then Alexi is on his merry way leaving his assistant with us. He wants Jojo's card and tells her they might be able to use her for one of their schmoozing parties. Woot Woot. Crust 'n' Crumbles Artisan Bread Supplier to the Politicians! Nice, at least they have our unlimited supply of tax money to pay you well Jojo! This is where I practically pee my pants. The guy asks me if I write about politics. Noooo...I write about...interesting people, politicians are people aren't they? He still wanted my card.

Time for a chat with Jojo. By the way, that reporter is still giving us dirty looks. Jojo thinks he just looks that way, always, like permanent stink eye. Dude get a life!

For those of you that have eaten any of Jojo's delicious goodies you know exactly why I want to get her story. For those of you that haven't, I encourage you to get down to the Rockford City Market http://www.rockfordcitymarket.com/ this Friday, and buy something. Your taste buds and tummy will thank you. How should we describe the bread that Jojo makes? Absolutely Frickin' Fabulous! Ultra crispy crust, super moist, airy, yeasty inside. Every Friday I buy her BIG 2lb. boule and I never can wait 'til I get home, I have to rip off a chunk before I even leave her booth. And her jams... O M G! The strawberry banana is my fave, and if you missed it, too bad for you cause it's gone, long gone. Gotta wait til next year. Crap. Jojo also makes baguettes, specialty butters, delish giant cookies and other such goodies. Apparently Jojo has lots of secrets, she shared some with me but my mouth is shut! I will divulge that I think Jojo is working on something new though, no doubt yummyness is involved. This girl is such a hard worker. I mentioned before that she is super smart, being a biology major college grad and all, oh and then I think I will go to nursing school too thing. Jeez Jojo, give it a break would ya? All that sciencey stuff must play a part in her bread making right? Right.

Wednesdays and Thursdays this baker extraordinaire is up to her elbows in flour! It takes her an entire 10- 12 hour day just to prepare all the stuff she is going to bake and then another 8-10 hours to bake it. Sorry Beck, sorry Sayana you're on your own for dinner tonight I have to go bake for the masses! Then, in a matter of 4 hours of selling her goodies at the Rockford City Market it's gone, all gone. So what does it take to make our favorite bread? Time, patience and lots of work.

In April of this year, when Jojo was at home with her daughter Sayana, they saw a cartoon about a little girl that made really good pies. All her friends loved them and told her she should sell them at the local market. Sound familiar? Yes, Jojo based her business on a cartoon. Classic. After making some calls Jojo found her home at the Rockford City Market. Initially, she was going to be making sweets but when she was told that there were already vendors selling sweets, she changed her game plan. She had made bread before but it wasn't the norm. Mind you, this is now May, the market opens in June. Jojo has gotta kick it in high gear. Research, experimenting etc... this is what scientists live for right? She not only has to teach herself how to make the best bread she can, she has to find a commercial kitchen, get a business license, tax id, packaging, labels and so on. Get this, little Ms. Procrastinator doesn't get her kitchen until the week of the market! Talk about pressure. All the time she has spent trying out recipes at home, baking them in her home oven means squat when she moves and has to bake in a different oven. Luckily for us her hard work pays off and her new commercial kitchen passes the test. Her 15 loaves that she made for that first week sell out. A couple weeks later Jojo is making 100 loaves, and selling them all. You go girl!
Jojo's Famous Baguettes
Jojo does most of her marketing via twitter @CrustnCrumbles and facebook. http://www.facebook.com/crust.n.crumbles#!/crustcrumbles You can give her pre-orders and pick them up at the market or have them delivered. Crust 'n' Crumbles can also be found at a couple local stores like 640 meats http://www.640meats.com/ and the Three Twenty Store on N. Court in Rockford 815-965-2313. So whenever you get that craving for her handmade, hand kneaded, intense flavor of her Rustic Boule or Baguette give one of those places a call or better yet contact Jojo through Facebook.

What's in store for Jojo once the market closes? It's a secret and I'm not talkin! Keep checkin' back on her Facebook page to find out what this bread artisan has planned. Who knows, maybe one day we will be able to walk in to the Crust 'n' Crumbles Bakery! Life would be so sweet!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Karnival of Karnage

I have been anticipating this week for some time now. Ladies and Gentlemen our local haunts are now open! I have first hand experience in being so scared that my throat burned from screaming and if you think I'm a scaredy cat then try it for yourself! Karnival of Karnage www.KarnivalofKarnage.com at the BooneCounty Fairgrounds is open for business and they DARE you to come!

It was during my meeting with Travis Legge of Rockford's horror film Raymond Did It, watch official trailer here ---> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rugfGyRaOh8 that I began to think of doing an article on Karnival of Karnage. Travis was telling me about his special FX makeup artists and mentioned that they were involved in the haunted house in Belvidere. I was excited to hear that and told Travis that I LOVED that experience last year. I made a mental note and after contacting Travis a few days after our meeting for contact names, I was off for an inside look at how a haunted house comes to be.

I contacted a couple of guys that I found through twitter, and the Kaotic Krew of Rockford invited me out last Friday night for a sneak peek of Karnival of Karnage. For those of you that know me, you know I love high heels. If you see me in Reeboks it's a rare occasion and they are white and hot pink so it's OK. Once in a while you may find me in my black patent leather Scotty Pippin Nike's. Again, a rarity. Well, no tennies for me on this night. I thought about changing and thought nooo, be strong, you can do it, no pain no gain! So, I kept my cute black canvas wedge- heel, peep- toes on and headed to the fairgrounds! When will I ever learn? Answer: never.

I get to the fairgrounds and it's plain to see I'm a little out of place. Mostly guys, but some girls with paint, tools, pipe, body parts, ya know, the usual, really busy doing...stuff. It's Friday night and they open in less than 48 hours. Looking around I'm thinking that they have a lot of work to get done, then I am wondering who is doing all this work. Volunteers, that's who. The Karnival of Karnage is run by the Shriners with many of their members hard at work to make sure this fundraiser is as successful as possible. If you ignore the creepy set designs, body parts, and other such scary stuff, you wouldn't have any idea that you aren't at some random construction site. Twenty and thirty somethings, along with middle age guys hammering, sawing, and bending pipe, never mind that the pipe is probably going to be impaled through some "dummy's" body. I have a chat with Matt Thomann "the Shriner in charge" and he tells me about the Shriner's roll in Karnival of Karnage.

I told Matt that I was a little surprised when I found out that the Shriners ran this haunt. We are all used to seeing them in the parades on those little motorcycles, but a haunted house, what gives? Plain and simple. Children. The Shriners support 22 children's hospitals that provide NO COST care for its patients. The Shriners are an international fraternity of about a half million members that are committed to providing services to their members, families and friends. Visit http://tebala.org/ to learn more about the Shriners.

Matt explained to me that organizing a fundraiser of this magnitude and reputation is no easy task. Forget about how they are going to make it as scary as possible, first they have to get the darn thing built. Tons of inspections and permits, county, fire, the list goes on. Everyone that volunteers there has to be trained in safety and sign off. Numerous stages of planning - beginning all the way back in May. This will be the 2nd year at the fairgrounds and the 2nd year that the Kaotic Krew of Rockford are helping produce this freak fest.

Like navigating a 12,000 foot maze in the dark, larger by 4,000 feet from last year, is not hard enough you have totally psychotic "people" chasing you and messing with you through your half hour experience. This is where the Kaotic Krew comes in. A group of family members and friends that have acquired some not so normal talents. This Krew can make the sweetest thing look like the most in-bred, blood craving, hack your body to pieces, type of psycho you can imagine. Who doesn't love that? I do. I went to KoK last year with my 13 year old son and my 4th degree Tae Kwon Do master- who by the way can kick your ass inside and out, and he was totally scared! The scene based rooms are my favorite! I love walking into a room and seeing blood splattered everywhere! This is what the Kaotic Krew does, happily. This is their art. This is their studio. This is their office. They are good at their job. Don't take my word for it though come see for yourself!

Example of previous work of the Kaotic Krew
Matt took me through the thousands of feet of maze. With a headlamp attached and my peep toe shoes maneuvering through the surprising obstacles - I don't want to give anything a way, but some really cool ideas to take it to the next level, even though it wasn't dark in most of the areas, it was still freaky! The whole time I am getting the behind the scenes tour we are running into volunteers from the Shriners or Kaotic Krew working their magic. Building, painting, designing, doing mechanic like stuff, this is big time and they don't just throw this together, I am realizing is a huge undertaking! I can't believe how scary it is even in the light! I can not wait to go back! I mentioned before the scene rooms are the ones I like best. I remember last year a bathroom, splattered floor to ceiling with blood and body parts in the bathtub and sink, it was awesome!

Add that blood and gore with just plain creepy scenes like last year's carnie trailer park and you have a winning combination! Just what will they come up with this year? Well if I told you I would have to kill you, wouldn't I? Well maybe not me, but now I got the hook-up with a bunch of psychos that could get the job done! So unless you want to end up a body less head in a pile of body parts drained of all their blood that has been pooled on the floor after it was splattered North to South and East to West...

I strongly suggest that you go pay the best 10 bucks you will ever spend and get your butt to the Karnival of Karnage! I highly reccomend it! It is, after all, for the children. MUHAHAHA MUAHAHA MUAHAHA

Please check back later in the week to find out more about Travis Legge and his full length feature indie film Raymond Did It.