NERDS AROUND TOWN

Nerds Around Town: The fall of the AAF, David Ortiz update and ghosts

Art by Jesus Rodriguez

Born with a comic book in one hand and a remote control in the other, Cory DLG is the talent of Conroe's very own Nerd Thug Radio and Sports. Check out the podcast replay of the FM radio show at www.nerdthugradio.com!

Hey Nerds!

It's Thursday and the weekend is coming, are you ready or what?!

Good deed of the day

AICF and Mark Clayton Scholarship Golf Tournament, it's a golf tournament to benefit a scholarship fund and help kids get to college and better their lives. It's awesome. #NerdsUnite

The fall of the AAF

ESPN did an interesting piece about the fall of the AAF. It's an interesting story and obviously everyone is trying to spin things in their favor because there are still lawsuits going on and also there's a PR war going on for "who is to blame" but there's some real meat in this story. It paints Dundon in a better light than I had viewed him in, he transforms a little bit from corporate raider to guy who sees a failing business and is looking to get out. Ebersol does take a big hit in the credibility department, it looks like his first funding partner Fowler was an absolute criminal and is in fact facing federal indictments unrelated to the AAF.

Another issue is Ebersol grossly undervalued the costs associated with running a league. He should have put together about $400 million dollars, instead he thought he needed $300 million and sold a third of the league to Fowler for about $120 million. That's not enough. For his part Polian didn't seem to be realistic about costs associated with the players involved and honestly, Dundon for his part should have done a better job of getting players home and paying vendors, but all of that will get taken care of in terms of legal issues. Great read though.

Sounding suspicious

In one of the weirdest stories in pop culture and sports is David Ortiz being shot in his home country of The Dominican Republic last week. He is now resting comfortably in the United States and all the people directly involved in the overt act appear to have been apprehended. There's a lot of weird stuff to this story, a criminal called The Surgeon and another criminal called Red are involved and now the AG of the Dominican are saying there's someone in the states that's involved in this and that it might be a case of mistaken identity. One of the most famous Dominicans on the island was shot accidentally and was mistaken for someone else? I don't think that sounds very believable. I'm not "Crisis Actor" guy and I'm not trying to go way down the rabbit hole, but seriously a mistaken identity over David Ortiz? Ok.

Why are we listening to these guys?

So one thing that I always think is crazy is that the sports networks always hire former front office guys and head coaches and that gives credibility to the networks. Except when you start thinking about it, how the heck does that happen? Rex Ryan for example was a terrible head coach, but he for sure knows football and is a great defensive mind.

But why should we listen to him talk about running a franchise or making personnel decisions when the Jets were awful under him? Same with guys like Mike Tannenbaum. They know football it's been their whole lives, I agree whole heartedly with that but when they put his resume up on the screen, I'm always like "but why should we listen to him?" It's a weird thing, if they were better at their jobs they'd still be in the league. They aren't semi-retired like Bill Polian, they're on the back half of so-so careers. It's weird, right?

NOT THAT YOU ASKED

So apparently they're working on another Paranormal Activity movie, and before anyone says "why?" do this math, they spent about $15,000 and made over $190 million dollars. They'll be thinking about making these movies forever. If they do in fact make this movie, it'll be the seventh movie in what has become a bizarre and complicated franchise. They got less and less scary and got more and more ridiculous over time and by the end they were a complete joke. It's an intriguing idea to bring the franchise back, even if you do only a little ok and spend $30 million and make $150 million, it's still a great day.

I'm going to jump out and wish you guys a great Thursday and remind everyone to be kind to each other and try a little harder to have a great day! I'm coming back Friday and we'll be bringing more good times your way.

Feel free to check out my digital short story The Wilson House or buy a shirt from Side Hustle Ts where some proceeds help people struggling with cancer or listen to Nerd Thug Radio. Thoughts, complaints, events and comments can be sent to corydlg@gmail.com.

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I met James Arthur Harris a pretty long time ago, it had to be before 2001, because I was at the gate waiting for his flight from New Orleans to land. I was supposed to pick him up, drive him to the Holiday Inn Crowne Plaza on Loop 610, wait for him to change into his work clothes, and get him to the George R. Brown before 3 p.m.

I had never met him, but it would be easy to pick him out in the line of passengers filing off the plane. He'd be the big guy, 6 ft. 7 and weighing more than 400 pounds. Because our schedule was tight, I was hoping he wasn't already in his work clothes. You'll understand why.

When Harris worked, he wore a leopard loin cloth, bare feet, bright painted stars and moons on his huge pot belly, and white face paint under his scary witch doctor mask. He also carried a spear and shield.

James Harris, who died this week at age 70 from COVID-19 complications, performed in wrestling rings around the world as Kamala the Ugandan Giant. Or Kamala the Ugandan Head Hunter. This day, he came to Houston to sign autographs at TriStar Sports memorabilia shows.

"Kamala was a huge draw to our shows in the '90s. His character was mysterious and intriguing. Fans lined up to get his autograph and pose for photos with him. He was one of our biggest draws," said Tristar senior vice president Bobby Mintz.

I checked Harris into the Crowne Plaza and waited in the lobby while he went upstairs to take off his shoes and socks, paint stars and moons on his belly … and become Kamala the uncivilized cannibal from the jungles of deepest Africa.

You couldn't get away with this stereotyped character today. But this was then, and Kamala was one of the hottest performers in the wrestling world.

You should have seen the looks on people's faces when the elevator door opened, and out came Kamala, in full ring regalia. We got into my car and made it to the George R. Brown in time for his autograph session. The line already was 100 wrestling fans deep. I sat next to Kamala for three hours, muttering grunts and nonsense sounds because, of course, Kamala did not speak English.

James Harris was born and died in Mississippi. He broke into pro wrestling in 1978 under the name Sugar Bear Harris. He also wrestled as Ugly Bear Harris, The Mississippi Mauler and Bad News Harris.

It was Jerry Lawler, owner of Memphis independent wrestling scene in the early '80s, who gave Harris his new gimmick and name Kamala. He would be billed as Kamala the Ugandan Giant, former bodyguard to the brutal dictator Idi Amin. Lawler picked the name Kamala after the capital of Uganda. Actually, the capital of Uganda is Kampala. It doesn't matter.

Kamala was money, as they say, he put butts in seats. He used a devastating karate chop to opponents' heads and pinned them, 1-2-3. Soon he was hired by Mid-South Wrestling, where the circuit included the Sam Houston Coliseum in Houston. In 1986, he became a main event wrestler for the WWE and headlined shows against Hulk Hogan coast-to-coast.

As we sat at the autograph show, one of my jobs was to assure young fans that Kamala was really a nice person, so don't be scared.

That night, I threw my one and only dinner party. I invited about 20 people to meet Kamala. I prepared a casual buffet, the main course was lasagna. I had two large trays, one with vegetable lasagna, one with sausage and ground beef.

The guests showed up, and Kamala posed for photos and signed autographs. He let my friends wear his witch doctor mask. He hoisted some of the guests and pretended he was body slamming them for their photos. He was the most gracious and gentle giant you could imagine. Until …

I was taking the lasagna trays out of the oven. I brought Kamala into the kitchen so he could eat first, and return to mingle with the guests. I asked him, which would you like, vegetable or meat lasagna? He said meat, and picked up the entire tray, sat at the kitchen table and ate the whole thing. I told the other guests, eat lots of garlic bread.

Kamala retired from wrestling full-time around 2000. He bought a truck and hauled gravel, asphalt and dirt from Mississippi across the southern U.S. If he knew a town had an independent wrestling show, he'd re-route his route so he could pick up extra money dusting off his Kamala persona for one night. That's how he made an appearance at the Texas All-Star Wrestling show in Humble in 2003.

Kamala fell into bad health with diabetes and high blood pressure. He had both legs amputated. Despite headlining wrestling shows around the world, Kamala never earned much money. In his later years, he made wood chairs near his home in Oxford, Mississippi. He also recorded an album, Kamala's Greatest Hits: Vol. 1, and wrote his autobiography, Kamala Speaks.

After the dinner party, which did not make Maxine Mesinger's society column in the Chronicle, something I'm still bitter about, I drove Kamala back to the Crowne Plaza. I told him, be in the lobby at 9 a.m., we'll get breakfast on our way to the airport. I asked him, what would you like for breakfast. Pancakes? Bacon and eggs? Fruit?

He said, and I'll never forget this, "When it comes to food, I isn't choicy."

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