The Daily Spotlightfor 12/29- Remembering My Father

I’ve started this entry quite a few times and then I’ve stopped it because of the fact that I didn’t know exactly how to write it but I’ve been MIA for a couple of weeks and so I wanted to share with all of you the reason why.  I’ll ask you to bare with me as this will be the hardest post I ever had to write.  Exactly three weeks from tomorrow while I had been working a double shift, I received a call from my mother and she had asked if I spoke to my dad.  I said I had and had spoken to him the day before.  He called to ask me how my new full time job had gone. My mom thanked god and mentioned how there was a bad car accident and that there was a fear that my father was involved but the accident occurred Monday so if I spoke to him yesterday there was nothing to worry about.  I too was relieved and continued about my shift.  As time passed, I thought about speaking to my dad and remembered that we spoke about the Jets-Giants game that we watched the day before.  As a Jets fan, I never liked the Giants as they’ve won a total of 4 superbowls and 5 NFC titles in my lifetime, in comparison to zero titles for my lovable Jets.  On top of that the Giants had beaten the Jets during every regular season meeting since 1993.  This year’s meeting didn’t look any better as the Jets were down by 10 in the second half of that game and looked to have no chance.  It got so bad that for the first time ever I asked my father to turn off the Jets and put on redzone as I just couldn’t stomach another loss to the Giants.  My father told me to relax and assured me that the Jets had it.  The Jets went on to win the game and my father and I spent hours gloating and watching as much postgame footage as we could.  In any event, we continued to speak about the Jets win on this phone call and the different scenarios in which they maybe could actually make the playoffs this year.  Then at the end of the conversation my father told me how proud of me he was and said “Ya know, I’m really proud of you, you put yourself through grad school, you landed a good job in just over a year out, you’re really going to make it in this world, you’re gonna do real well for yourself”.  It was at that point we hung up the phone.

As time went on that night after my mom called, I called my father and his phone went to voicemail, which never happened.  I started to become a little unsettled and went back into my phone to see when exactly we spoke.  It was just then I realized that we actually spoke on Monday, not on Tuesday. Still in the middle of a shift I started to panic and googling every accident in town.  It was before long I saw it, my father had passed away two days prior on Monday night.
It turned out that my father had suffered a heart attack and passed away prior to getting into the accident.  Thankfully nobody was hurt from the accident and due to my father passing prior to it, he experience no pain from it.  That said, this has easily been the hardest thing I’ve ever had to go through.  When I heard of his passing I was filled with a myriad of emotions including complete shock, sadness and guilt.  I was there for my father a lot and enjoyed watching football with him every Sunday but I really do regret that I didn’t speak to him every day.  It pains me that I didn’t know he passed away for two days because I didn’t speak to him on Tuesday.  Of course I can’t help but also go back and revisit every time I ever did something wrong to my father or ever complained about him.  I realize in hindsight that it’s a lot better to remember the good times and to reflect on the good memories rather then to focus on the bad, which were a few and far between.
The truth was that my father wasn’t doing the best health wise since around 2012 when he had his first heart attack and doctors only gave him an 18% chance to live.  But from that point on my father made a conscience effort to really enjoy life and make the most of it.  In 2013 he made a real effort to get sober and did just that at the age of 58, proving that it’s never too late to change.  I’m so proud to say that next month he would have hit two years of sobriety.  He may have been struggling healthwise but he tried so hard to get better and would never let my sister or I know if he wasn’t feeling well because he never wanted us to worry.  He was always so protective of us and did all he could to make sure we never felt uncomfortable or worried about him.  When my parents split back in 1997, my mother and father still came together for every holiday, birthday and whatever else we needed them for.  My dad also came over every Monday, Wednesday and Friday night so that we still got to spend so much time with him.  He was dating a nice lady for about 12 years after my mom but hid her from us for many years.  There was funny story that for years we would go to his place and see a bunch of her photos all over the place and then when we would get up to use the bathroom, he would always put the photos down or place them about face so we couldn’t see.  This wasn’t because he was ashamed of the lady he was with, he just didn’t want my sister or I to feel uncomfortable.  He and my mother both were both committed to keeping our family together.
In the past few years my father and I grew increasingly closer.  As I said earlier my father got pretty sick in 2012 and was in and out of the hospital for the better part of three months.  Well, during this period of time I had gotten rear ended in an automobile accident by a driver who just wasn’t paying attention. This pretty much destroyed my back and left me out of work for about four months. What it also did do though was allow me to be there for my father every step of the way.  We were together in that hospital day in, day out as he recovered.  I really felt that while we still had that father-son bond, we were now also best friends.
My father was also my biggest supporter.  He would read every single entry I posted here on thedailyspotlight and talk to me about them afterwards.  There were times when I actually felt that I was writing to one person because I knew that he would be reading and enjoying everything I wrote.  If you’ve read my past blogs about past wrestling shows you know my father was a big reason as to why I got into wrestling in the first place and could see from there how much my memories with him meant.  From there, my father was a big reason I posted videos and posted pictures onto either my site here or my facebook because I knew he appreciated them and looked at every one of them.  Just a few months ago I went to Dubai and I got a lot of flack for it from people who were either scared or just plain ignorant about it.  This wasn’t the case with my dad, however, he instead, looked up things for my girlfriend and I to do in Dubai and mentioned how he wished he was there with.  He just didn’t have a judgmental bone in his body.
In the end, I could go on about my dad forever.  Dealing with his loss has been the hardest thing I’ve ever had to deal with.  There are still so many times when I reach for my phone and look to text or call him.  It doesn’t feel right that he’s gone.  Thankfully through a good support system and many people reaching out with good memories and others willing to listen to my memories, I’ve been able to navigate my way through it. I apologize for being away but I do plan on returning over the next couple of days and really kicking things back off after the new year.  If there’s any advice I can give you guys from all of this it’s a few things.  For one, never take your time with someone for granted and reach out and tell the important people in your life how much they mean to you, whenever you can.  Next, show support for others that are having a tough time.  I can’t tell you how much I truly appreciated everyone who came out to my father’s wakes and his funeral.  It meant so much to me and made me realize how much more I can do when relatives of people I care about pass away.  Finally, appreciate life and the people you have, you never truly know when today can be your last day.

Thanksgiving, Spotlight Videos & More- The Daily Spotlight for 11/30/2015

Hello everyone and happy Monday! Ok ok we all know that today is much more of a slow and plodding Monday following an extended weekend but alas we’re all here so let’s make the most of it and get into some updates for the day.

Thanksgiving:  I really hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving.  My family and I went down to the Milleridge Inn in long island, New York.  The Milleridge Inn is always a great time as there’s something about taking the classic photos outside of the inn and checking out the stores that remind me so much of Thanksgiving and the start of the holiday season.  I also went down to the Macy’s Day Parade for the first time ever on Thanksgiving.  The folks down at the parade were more than accommodating in letting us know the best areas to view the parade and tips for getting up close to get the best content possible. I’m working on a video and piece about the parade that should be up tomorrow.

Black Friday: I used to be the guy that used to gather up a group of family and friends and really get into Black Friday.  If doors opened at 4 am, my friends and I would meet up and head straight to Best Buy and wait on line to get in there and would often continue shopping until 12 noon or so where we would make our way to the food court at Roosevelt Field Mall, have lunch and then head back home for some much needed shuteye.  Black Friday 2009 is probably one of my fondest memories because it was my reintroduction to coffee.  My original introduction to coffee occured back in 2004 when I was dating a girl who would drink cups and cups of coffee a day and it was strong Serbian coffee, no milk and no sugar.  Well from that moment on I convinced myself that I hated coffee and so I drank tons of mountain dew every day in order to get that jolt of energy.  It was completely ridiculous and very unhealthy.  Well that night in 2009, at the Milleridge Inn my father fixed me up a cup of coffee with milk and sugar and convinced me to try it.  I tried it and loved it back!  Nowadays Black Friday doesn’t have the same appeal to me.  I still went this year and got some good deals but my girlfriend and I didn’t get started until around 1 pm.  I think what killed it for me was the idea that Black Friday now starts on Thanksgiving.  As much as I love a good deal, I value my time with my loved ones a little more.  By starting Black Friday at 4pm Thanskgiving Day, it just kills the holiday for me and isn’t worth it.  Today is finally the end of the bargain shopping with Cyber Monday.  I will say that hands down the best site I’ve seen today has to be Abercrombie which has a 50% off sitewide sale.  While Abercrombie isn’t really my cup of tea, kudos to them for really going above and beyond.  Target also deserves a kudos for their 15% sitewide sale although everything I noticed being good seemed to already be sold out and their site traffic is at a premium.  Of course, my favorite Cyber Monday site is Amazon who continue to lure me with their lightning deals throughout the week.

Site Updates:  I got some great feedback on the first video we launched on the official daily spotlight YouTube channel on Thanksgiving Day.  That video, for those who’ve asked was shot during my annual tradition on Thanksgiving Eve in which a few out of town buddies and I gather at Aunt Bellas Restaurant. It’s always a great time and as you can see at the end of the video, everyone really got into it.  If you haven’t done so you can check out our first video right here! The plan with these videos is to roll them out 3 times a week to start on Tuesdays, Thursdays and at some point over the weekend.  There will be a definitive focus on Travel type videos that I’ve shot over the last three years.  The plan for this week’s videos is to roll out my video on the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on Tuesday, a video on the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Lighting (which I will be attending live on Wednesday night) on Thursday and then a video on Dubai’s historic Burj Khalifa this weekend.

We’ve also gotten a ton of great feedback on a few posts we did last week on the Lapsed Fan Wrestling Podcast’s new Starrcade journey and on a look at the WWE’s 2002 appearance at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.  It’s been a lot of fun interacting with a number of wrestling fans and wrestling legends over on twitter @tommyonthespot or @daily_spotlight.  I have plenty of fun posts on the way this week including a sports update that I’m finishing up right now looking at one of the crazier weekends in all of sports this past weekend and a movie review on The Night Before, which I thought was fantastic.  Until then I appreciate all of your support and hope you all have a kick ass week.

The Spotlight NFL Week 12 NFL Picks Against The Spread

Almost had to take a bye week here, but have no fear we are in before the kickoffs here.  If you were unable to check out my thanksgiving picks, you can do so right here , that would be our official youtube channel which I’ll be updating again either later today or tomorrow with a video chronicling my trip to the 2015 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.  So far this week with the Thanksgiving games I’m 2-1, which brings my year long total to 62-24 against the spread.  Vegas can be a cold hearted  bitch but we are getting through this so let’s get into the rest of the picks.

1) Oakland Raiders (-1) at Tennessee Titans

I’ve been against the Raiders much of the way because I feel like they’ve gotten a ton of hype, despite not beating any one .500 or better (other than the Jets but that was the Geno Smith game).  Well, this week they get to play the 2-8 Titans and so I’m back on the Raiders here.  Look the Titans defense is pretty good (ranked number 6 overall) but they haven’t been able to carry the offense to anything save for that game in New Orleans where they won a stunner in overtime.  Honestly though, I could call my boy Adam Tobey and have him rally up the Benai Brith youth troop and we’d drop 30 on the Saints defense too.  The Raiders have been pretty unlucky the past three weeks but that luck will turn around in Tennessee.  I like the Raiders in a pickem.

2) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+3) at Indianapolis Colts

If you can make this 3.5 for a little less juice, I’d like it a little more because it reads like a field goal winner either way.  It’s the battle of the oldest quarterback in the league vs. the youngest quarterback in the league.  Despite Matt Hasslebeck being undefeated this season, I’m going to take my chances with youth on the road.  Famous Jameis has arrived folks!  Way sooner than anyone could have predicted, Winston has the Bucs right in the midst of a playoff race.  While Winston has made the play when he’s had to, I can’t give him all the credit.  The Bucs have done it this season lead by a stout defense, lead by Lavonte David and by the number 2 rusher in the NFL, Doug Martin, who has bounced back in a big way this year.  The Bucs really showed me a lot last week when they went into Philly and beat them by four touchdowns, I think their road prowess continues this week.  I like to the Bucs +3

3) Houston Texans (-3) over New Orleans Saints 

Oh boy do I love this pick!  I like it so much it was so close to being my lock of the week.  The Texans are rolling after taking down the undefeated Bengals and my New york Jets and now they get Brian Hoyer back.  While Hoyer likely won’t be battling for a pro bowl slot, he’s the best the Texans have and opposing defenses don’t need Deandre Hopkins to get a better quarterback.  Speaking of defenses, you’ve probably heard all week that the Saints defense will be a lot better because they’ve finally fired Rob Ryan.  Well, they still have the same personnel and the last time I checked, Drew Brees still can’t win on the road.  Don’t expect Brees to get his act together against JJ Watt and that stiff Defense of the Texans.  I lie the Texans by a field goal.

4) Kansas City Chiefs (-4) over the Buffalo Bills 

After going on the road and outscoring their opponents 62-16, the Kansas City Chiefs return home winners of four straight to play host to the Buffalo Bills.  The Bills have a good defense but seem to really be struggling to score on the offensive side of the ball.  You mean to tell me a Rex Ryan led team has trouble with the quarterback position.  As a Jets fan, I’m tired of that narrative.  The defense should keep it close, but I like Kansas City, -4.

5) Pittsburgh Steelers +3.5 at Seattle Seahawks

Big Ben makes his first ever appearance at Seattle today and I’m going to go with the road team in this one.  Go ahead a take a peak at the Seahawks schedule.  They really haven’t beaten anyone all season and have been beatable at home.  On the other side of things, the Steelers are coming off a bye so Ben has had an extra week to rest up and get healthy.  You know I don’t choose underdogs that I don’t think can win.  I like the Steelers +3.5

6) IF YOU”RE DESPERATE: Atlanta Falcons (-1) over Minnesota Viking 

I know I know, the Falcons have been awful as of late and continue to find a way to lose.  Actually I haven’t lost too much this season but when I have it’s mostly been with the Jets and the Falcons.  That said, this is my tenth game that I’m picking before the primetime games even start and so it’s a bit of slim pickings.  The Falcons have been a bit too dependent on Devonta Freeman after his fluky hot start and so now that he’s out I expect a lot of Matt Ryan airing it out.  That’s when the Falcons are at their best.  The Vikings were a bit exposed last week against the Packers and I expect a bit of a hangover here.  Falcons will find a way to get it done.

LOCK OF THE WEEK (10-1): New York Giants (pk) at Washington Redskins

Prior to this season, I have never picked the Giants and when I have it’s blown up in my face.  That said, the Giants have been my Lock of the week 3 times this season and I like em again today.  The Redskins are sneaky good at home (4-1) and have their big weapon back in Desean Jackson which makes Kirk Cousins look like a professional quarterback.  That said, the Giants are coming off of a bye and get Prince Amukamura back.  Couple Prince with the resurgence of JPP and the Giants have something on the defensive side of the ball to go along with Eli, who’s looked great.  The Giants will find a way to get it done and put the NFC East to bed before Decemeber.


The Spotlight On WWE on Thanksgiving

OK so most of you know by now that WWE used to hold their annual Survivor Series on Thanksgiving Day.  But did you know that the WWE Superstars and Divas once took part in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City?  In 2002 a whole host of WWE Superstars, Divas and announcers took part in the Macy’s Day Parade complete with a state of the art mini ring float (that featured a commentator table, ladder and ring).  Aboard the float for WWE was Vince McMahon, Triple H, The Hurricane Shane Helms, Sergeant Slaughter, Victoria, The Coach, Lillian Garcia and of course JR and The King.  The video is worth a watch if for no other reason than to hear Al Roker’s bad butcher job on Jerry Lawler’s name.  I remember, as a fan, thinking this was the coolest thing ever.  For year’s the Macy’s Day Parade would promote “The Big Red Machine” appearing later in the show and I would hope it would be Kane, of course it was Santa.  Well, in 2002 it was cool to see some representation from a few of my favorites, especially the Hurricane, who was my guy!

Even though this was the only appearance, I can remember, from WWE at the Macy’s Day Parade, there were two appearances at the Chicago Thanksgiving Day Parade by former WWE Superstar CM Punk.  In 2008, Punk made his first appearance for the parade while one half of the WWE tag team champions.  It’s a cool appearance for Punk, who joked that the CM in CM Punk actually stood for Cookie Monster!

34 Seconds In For Punk

In 2012, while in the midst of his historic 400+ day run as WWE world heavyweight champion, Punk would return to the Chicago Thanksgiving Day Parade, this time as the grand marshall!

With WWE having such a big presence on NBC Universal, it’s surprising that WWE hasn’t returned to the Macy’s Day Parade.  I know I can’t be the only one who would get a kick out of it.

The Spotlight NFL Week 12 Thanksgiving Picks Against The Spread 

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone! As promised on Thanksgiving Day we were going to launch the next phase of our website…the video portion! The spotlight videos are going to debut on our official YouTube channel and  then within the next couple of hours you’ll be able to watch those videos right here on! The videos are going to consist of a good portion of travel videos that I’ve built up over the past 2 years or so. However, I’m also going to be filming videos dedicated to my weekly NFL picks. The plan is to film my picks at a different location every time, so without any further ado lets get into them.

This week I’m going to start with a video breaking down the three games that will be played today, on Thanksgiving! Now yes we’re 60-24 this season and have simply been tearing it up but use a little caution here. This is a tough slate of games here, so tough that I likely would have passed on the three games if they were a part of Sunday. I feel much better about my Sunday games by the way and I’m excited to get into those games later this weekend. If you’re unaware of the schedule today the (3-7) Detroit Lions will host the (4-6) Philadelphia Eagles at 12:30 PM EST on Fox. From there the (3-7) Dallas Cowboys will welcome the (10-0) Carolina Panthers at 4:00 PM EST on CBS and then tonight the (7-3) Green Bay Packers play host to their bitter rival, the (4-6) Chicago Bears on Brett Favre day at 8:30 PM EST on NBC. I break down all three of the games in the 2 and a half minute video below. Check it out and I wish all of you a happy and healthy Thanksgiving!