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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
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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
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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.

Later Today!

Check back to find out about the kreepiest haunt around! Karnival of Karnage is now open at the Boone County Fairgrounds. I was lucky enough to hook up with the Shriners and the Kaotic Krew to find out what it takes to scare the pants off of you! I got to see it in the light and it was still creepy! Post will be up this evening!

Friday, October 8, 2010

RawkSpace Live! Last Post

My time is up. Gotta go get kids and prepare to be haunted at Karnival of Karnage sneak peak. I loved working here today. The vibe was great. Casual yet professional, quiet yet open for chatting, this space, by nature, breeds collaboration. Very easy to talk to those around you and get input, but if you need to put your nose to the grindstone and get work done, it's no problem here! If you are some one that would like to get out of the house or out of the coffee shop this is a great place to come to! I encourage all you "home office" types to give RawkSpace serious thought! http://www.workrawkspace.com/

RawkSpace Live! #4 Video

1:20p.m. I really don't have a clue as to what I am doing. I just had this idea that it would be cool for you people to see what it is like working here. Just a little video, no commentary, I am letting RawkSpace speak for itself. People working, people chatting - it's lunch time right now and Jarrod and Britney have a great spread laid out for us! Take a look, get a feel for it, and then come check it out for real!

RawkSpace Live! Post #3

I thought it would be a good idea to get to know my co-workers, my husband is reading this right now LHAO wondering when I got a job, anyway, I just needed an excuse to get up and put this caffeine to good use.


Jarrod Hennis- Owner of RawkSpace. Might be easier to mention what he doesn't do. Busy guy. Screen Printer, IT guy, Entrepreneur, Business Owner, Artist. Find Jarrod on twitter @jarrodhennis, @pirateninjaps, @workrawkspace on the web at http://www.pirateninjaprintshop.com/ http://www.workrawkspace.com/

Michael Hopkins- Web Designer. Michael is here hangin' out- I mean working and doing some collaboration with Zack. Michael can be found on twitter @mdhopkins and you can find his website at http://www.obliqueideas.com/

Zack Kitzmiller- He is sooo busy that I haven't had a chance to survey him. So I will just make it up. JK. According to his twitter profile he is a Programmer and CodeIgniter Developer. I also happen to know that his wife LeLe (@lelekitz) is getting a tattoo today. Sorry my ADD got the better of me there. Back to Zack... you can find him on twitter @ZackKitzmiller and online at http://www.getcloudigniter.com/

Jacob Rush- IT Consultant. Jarrod said I should ask him what color underwear he is wearing but I told Jarrod that this is a professional survey...laughing all the while. Jacob can be found on twitter @zigphroid and at his dot com - http://www.phase2it.com/

DJ Maclin- Web Designer. Multiple Talents. DJ is also with Hip Hop Congress a non-profit supporting the art of hip hop. Lookin for a BBOY BGirl Battle? This is the guy. DJ can be found on twitter @eciblue and online at http://www.hiphopcongress.com/

Jane McMillan- Graphic Artist. What can I say? My super talented Aunt has always been an artist, not just design though, she is extremely gifted in Fine Art as well. No twitter...yet, I am working on her. And, she, as we speak is working on her new website.

Javier Jiminez- Artist. Screen Printer. One of Jarrod's cohorts. Come to think of it, I think most everybody here is a cohort of Jarrod's. Nice friends to support his new business. Anyway you can find Javier on twitter @saturatedthread and on his site at http://www.jvrart.com/

and me.

RawkSpace Live! post #2

11:15 a.m. Oh, the food, the coffee, the CANDY! What makes a work environment really relaxed and comfortable? Food. Just my opinion though. Jarrod totally came through on that end. Nice strong coffee to balance out the sweets. Now, no one has eaten anything yet, and I am not going to be the first. I will let one of the five guys here make the first move. As soon as they do I will be all over those m&ms! C'mon guys hurry it up, don't make the girl go first! Maybe I can get Jane to hit those m&ms. Who is Jane you ask, my Aunt. She joined me here today to check out RawkSpace and see what it has to offer. Jane is a graphic artist, and I know I am a little biased, but, she is extremely talented. I am sure all of the people are really talented here, I can tell. I have built in radars.

You people should come down and check it out. Desks are filling up, but there is room for more. Really quiet here right now. Wonder when that monkey is waking up.

RawkSpace Live!

OK people not sure how I am going to do this, but I will give it a shot! I am here at Rawkspace http://www.workrawkspace.com/and I am going to try bloggin live, kinda. It is not really live since I have to type content, save content, and then publish content. So I am taking a risk here, everything might end up FUBARed from here on out, but nothing ventured nothing gained.

Six people working, yes, actually working, but there is light conversation just like at other offices, but this office is way cooler! It comes with snacks and lots of coffee. The coffee would explain how many typos I'm making cause I'm all jacked up on java mania http://www.javamaniacoffeeroastery.com/ God bless them!

Sooo... EVERYBODY should come on down and have a look see at this unique co-work space! I am really enjoying it, and when that #tapdancingmonkey wakes up from his nap this place is gonna be jumpin'!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Socks That Rock

I first saw these cute, kinda creepy, really cool "sock dolls" at The Brick Cafe and Gallery http://belrockcitygirl.blogspot.com/2010/09/brick-cafe-gallery.html last year. They drew my eye because they weren't your ordinary stuffed animals. Zipper mouths, or mouths that look like they are stitched closed, different size button eyes, mohawks, yarn dreadlocks, scars, metal embellishments the list goes on. These edgy, fun loving, one of a kind art dolls are Socks That Rock, http://www.socks-that-rock.com/ the creation of artist Joelene Chinn.

Joelene tweeted a picture a couple weeks ago, of her newest creation, who is now known as Roxie, BelRockCityGirl's mascot. As soon as I saw her I new I had to have her. She was pink and turquioise after all, her sweet little toe - sock - mohawk, and little did I know at the time but she had a charm sewn on her that said "Sassy" and that's me! Sassy Natalie! It was a match meant to be! I tweet Joelene who I did not know other than through twitter, to claim her latest work of art. I knew I had to meet this girl and see what she was all about. That meeting brought three great things that day, a kick-ass mascot for BelRockCityGirl, an article about a cool artist, and a new friend.

Roxie gettin' used to travelling "Coach"

Joelene: farmer's wife, mom of three boys, country life lover, fine artist, graphic designer, may not be exactly who you would expect to make rock 'n' roll themed anything. Let me tell you, Joelene is a rocker at heart and after getting to know her, I see that her art is totally Joelene.

It all started with a book she saw, some crafty book about making animals out of socks. I am so sure that this book did not feature sock dolls that had mohawks or piercings though. She didn't buy the book, but for some reason it obsessed her mind for weeks. After talking about it non -stop her mom finally told her to buy the damn book! So... she buys the book and decides to make a couple dolls, get this, according to the instructions! I was so shocked. Joelene, like myself does not seem to be an "instruction reader". But, yes, she followed the instructions and made some cute puppies or bunnies or something like that. Well. no surprise her family loved them, but her oldest son said she should rock 'em out a bit. Come Christmas time Joelene is sewing away. This was quite a learning process since Joelene had never sewed before. She gives her new edgy, punk rock art dolls as Christmas gifts, to friends and family and they are a hit! Before you know it Joelene is selling them as fast as she is making them!

Joelene's art isn't all that planned out it is fairly organic. She just starts creating. What inspires her? Her love of Rock. She shares this passion with her sons, often taking them to concerts, and that is exactly how she first got noticed. Throwing a pimped out sock doll through the air at a rock concert draws some attention. Now, give a sock doll to a rock band and that gets you backstage! Marketing at its best. Good job Joelene!
Kenny enjoying his time away from concert going with his pal Roxie.

Meet Kenny, Roxie's older, yet smaller, more experienced, rocker friend. (with benefits? you would have to ask them) Kenny has been living the life of a Rock Star for the past year. No wonder Roxie is smitten' with him, all girls like the bad boys right? Kenny has been rockin' at concerts all over the place! Nine Inch Nails, Aerosmith, Korn, Green River Ordinance, Dot Dot Dot, just to name a few, and check out the picture of Kenny with the members of Daughtry! http://www.socks-that-rock.com/ When Kenny finally retires he will be auctioned off for a good cause and put his touring days behind him.

Yeah the girl makes dolls that go to rock concerts, like that isn't cool enough she has to have one put in a movie too! Yep. One of Joelene's dolls is in a little movie called "Raymond Did It" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rugfGyRaOh8 perhaps you have heard of it. If you are from the Rockford area and haven't, shame on you! This indie horror flick is written, directed and produced by Rockford's very own Travis Legge not to mention he shot the movie in Rockford. Big Shout out to Kyle Hoskins of Belvidere who plays Raymond in the movie! Check my blog on Monday to learn more about "Raymond Did It" and Travis.
"Peep" from the movie Raymond Did It
This creative chick was the bees knees at ArtScene Fall 2010 (previous post) and she wasn't even showing. We were there to check out the Robot Invasion at Jarrod Hennis' Pirate Ninja Print Shop (check the pics ) http://www.pirateninjaprintshop.com/ , to take a peek at Rockford's new co-work space RawkSpace, http://www.workrawkspace.com/ and just checkin' out all the cool art downtown. So many people stopped and asked us about Kenny and Roxie who were tagging along, ridin' in my handbag. Well, guess who will be showing her art next year at ArtScene? That's right little miss joelene chinn.

Now, ArtScene isn't until spring and that's a looong time away. I know you can't wait til then, so, jump over to http://www.socks-that-rock.com/ and have a look for yourself. Support this artist and all the others that I feature, drop them a line and tell them you like their art! Hey Christmas is around the corner, you know you want a SOCK THAT ROCKS!

It has been absolutely fab meeting all these cool artists I am writing about! Please keep reading. By reading BelRockCityGirl and sharing my blog you are supporting these amazing talented people! Thanks Peeps!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

ArtScene Fall 2010 Rocked!

I am ashamed to say this was my first time going to ArtScene. I really don't have a good excuse, but I will tell you why I went this year. Twitter. I know I have mentioned it before, I love twitter. Twitter is my new bestie. It has opened doors for me and has introduced me to amazing talented people. I came to ArtScene, coordinated by the Rockford Area Arts Council http://www.artsforeveryone.com/, with the intention of seeing some local art and to support Jarrod Hennis of Pirate Ninja Print Shop http://www.pirateninjaprintshop.com/ and RawkSpace http://www.workrawkspace.com/. I met and wrote about Jarrod last week as he was up to his eyeballs in getting not only his own art ready to show, but also trying to put the finishing touches on his new co-work space, RawkSpace.

I also recently met Joelene Chinn of Socks That Rock http://www.socks-that-rock.com/ and convinced her to tag along with me. I was surprised to hear that she wasn't showing at ArtScene and new that she had to get down there and check it out. It's the perfect place for her to show her awesome art! Next year she will be there as an exhibitor not a visitor. Check my blog in the middle of the week to learn more about Joelene!

First stop: Rockford City Market. First vendor: Crust 'n' Crumbles http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#!/crustcrumbles?ref=ts owned by the adorable Jojo Gendenbaatar. I am completely addicted to her delicious boule. As a matter of fact I am enjoying some right now with the very last of Jojo's Strawberry Banana Jelly. Joelene and I chatted with Jojo for a while, we all met through, you guessed it, Twitter, I bought her last three loaves of bread, and moved on down the line to the next vendor. I grab some applewood smoked Gouda from The Cheese People, a ham, cheese, spinach, and tomato crepe, along with an apple cinnamon one from Crepe a la Cart, and we head up to the deck to grab a glass of wine and listen to Harlan Jefferson's sweet jazz.

Jojo of Crust 'n' Crumbles -Artisan Breads with Roxie and Kenny
Kenny, Roxie and our delicious dinner!
 OK. We have sustenance, now it's time to get our art on. I am going to share just a few of my favorites. I was only available to go to ArtScene on Friday night so I was not able to see every exhibit, but we made the most of our time! We headed over to Jarrod and Britney's at PNPS to check out the ROBOT INVASION! As we approached the PNPS entrance we were greeted by a robot that you could take your picture with, you know, the kind of thing where you put your head in the round hole where a face should be. Now, I don't know how many people actually took their "robot picture" but I sure as hell did! C'mon this is supposed to be fun right? Well, I wasn't missing out on any of the fun and neither was PNPS or RawkSpace. One of Jarrod's friends, James Ford was showing his art along with Jarrod's own pieces. Don't tell my boys but there was a humongous robot artpiece there, it was like ten feet tall! Really cool. There was another piece that drew my attention, it was a piece by Jarrod that said "So the harder a wife works, the cuter she looks!" I am sure that Tim, My husband would aggree. It was great to see all the work that Jarrod and Britney had accomplished since the last time I was there earlier in the week. RawkSpace looked great and I really enjoyed the artwork they were exhibiting. Great job you two! Can't wait to see what you pull off for ArtScene Spring 2010.
Me and Roxie at Pirate Ninja Print Shop
By Jarrod Hennis
Who wants to buy art at the dry cleaners? Trust me, you do. Bennie's Cleaners was definitely steaming up the windows in their loft! A prolific show of local talent showcasing the who's who of artists in Rockford. I think there must have been about thirty artists strutting their stuff. Everything from jewelry, pottery, photography to traditional paintings, iron works and sculpture were represented at Bennie's. Local favorite, Karen Gines http://www.karengines.com/ was there enjoying the festivities. Joelene and I were introduced to Karen by another fab artist Norm Knott. I could tell no matter how accomplished of an artist she is, she truly wants art to not only be enjoyed by everyone, but wants to encourage those in the beginning stages of their art. Karen spoke to Joelene about showing her art at ArtScene Spring 2011 and encouraged her to put herself out there. Karen also encouraged me to freelance my articles to a local publisher. How sweet she was to give us encouragement like that! We went to ArtScene to experience the amazing art of others and in return we were connected with so many people that wanted to know about our crafts!

I wish I could mention every venue and every artist but this is a blog not a book. So we jump in the Kitty Beast, named by my boys, ( my bad-ass white Yukon SL adorned with Hello Kitty Stickers) and head over to JR Kortman's http://www.jrkortman.com/ . For those of you that have not visited this little slice of Heaven in Rockford I strongly suggest that you do! Kortman's has the most unique, fun, beautifully designed gifts that you could imagine and the upstairs gallery gives you even more to look at. I had been waiting to see this exhibition all week and I was not disappointed! After having a chat with the artist Matthew Johansson, outside of Kortman's we head up to take a look at his work. I already had done a little research on his exhibition and was excited to see "Victor", one of his near life size pieces. Now I am not sure how to describe Matthew's art piece without offending numerous members of the transgender community but gimme a tranny in thigh high boots and black leather studded underwear any day! LOVE IT! I am sure it is not every one's cup of tea but it mad me smile. I adored all his stuff and I think I will go back and take a better look when I am not under the influence of chardonnay. Read more about Matthew Johansson here. http://www.jrkortman.com/

So we are checkin' everything out, Kenny and Roxie in tow, when this sweet, little gal freaks over Joelene's art dolls. I think all three of us were mid sentence when we all started squealing like a bunch of Delta Nu girls after realizing that we all new each other from...Twitter. It was all "hey I know you! You're BelRockCityGirl!" and I was all like " OMG you're Jennifer Mullin and your marrying that artist!" Hilarious, how excited we were to meet each other! So after we were all like "Tweet me later" we headed over to talk to Matthew and get a pic with him holding Kenny and Roxie next to Victor.
I am going to sum up my visit to artscene with a list of all the stuff we saw, interesting people we met, and the great businesses we visited. Starting now. Pirate Ninja Print Shop, Carlyle Brewery, Harlan Jefferson, Beautiful Weather, Swank, Half Pint Brawlers, Octane, Rockford City Market, Fusion, JR Kortman's, Jarrod and Britney, Karen Gines, Women in Art, Bennie's Cleaners, Jojo Gendenbaatar, The Cheese People, RawkSpace, Chardonnay, Crust 'n' Crumbles Boule, Norm Knott, Jennifer Mullin, James Ford, Shannon Blosser-Salisbury, Rockford Art Museum, I Bought A Costume Fur Coat, Wanie Reeverts, Brio, Skull Cookies, More Wine, Applewood Smoked Gouda, Matthew Johansson, Kitty Beast, Jewelry, Tattoo Guys, Tranny, Robot Invasion, Skull Candles, Phallic Art, Pinja's, and Victor.

People, get in touch with your inner artist and get in touch with other people's art! Go visit the museum, Rockford has one ya know, www.rockfordartmuseum.org or go visit one of Rockford's many galleries. Let's support Rockford art, it is a vital part of our community!

Check back on Wednesday for an article all about Joelene Chinn of Socks That Rock!