Archive for the ‘Nerd Stuff’ Category

A few days ago, Activision released an update for the Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2. Although I haven’t had the chance to enjoy the game, I’ve been thinking about how the remaster has changed in ways that the skateboarding community—and the world—has changed. You can see it in the new skaters added to the roster: there are more women and POC, and we have the first non-binary skater, Leo Baker, who was able to work with the game developers to change their name. None of these additions are tokens either; they’re all some of the best.

Tony Hawk himself epitomized the more socially aware attitude in announcing that the mute grab will be renamed for its pioneer, who was deaf and not mute. As he indicated in his post, he listened to advocate/skater Darrin de la O and decided the game would be a great platform for change. Tony could have started using “Weddle grab” while announcing for a contest, but aside from X Games, they don’t have the reach that THPS does. Plus, the game allows for repetition on a level that can’t be replicated in real life skate commentary.

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For nearly 40 years, we’ve shamelessly referred to this trick as the “mute” air/grab. Here is the backstory: around 1981, a deaf skater and Colton skatepark local named Chris Weddle was a prominent amateur on the competition circuit. The “Indy” air had just been created & named so somebody proposed that grabbing with the front hand should be known as the “Tracker” air. Others countered that Chris was the first to do, so it should be named after him. They referred to him as the “quiet, mute guy.” So it became known as the mute air, and we all went along with it in our naive youth. In recent years a few people have reached out to Chris (who still skates) about this trick and the name it was given. He has been very gracious in his response but it is obvious that a different name would have honored his legacy, as he is deaf but not lacking speech. I asked him last year as I was diving into trick origins and he said he would have rather named it the “deaf” or “Weddle” grab if given the choice. His exact quote to me was “I am deaf, not mute.” So as we embark on the upcoming @tonyhawkthegame demo release, some of you might notice a trick name change: The Weddle Grab. It’s going to be challenging to break the habit of saying the old name but I think Chris deserves the recognition. Thanks to @darrick_delao for being a great advocate to the deaf community in action sports, and for being the catalyst in this renaming process. I told Chris tecently and his reply was “I’m so stoked!” And then he shot this photo in celebration yesterday. 📷: @yousta_storytellers_club

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Change, however, doesn’t have to be followed by ceremony, and sometimes it can even be unconscious. Brian David Gilbert of Polygon noticed that THPS2‘s skate park creator had an element with a horrifying history: the “pungee pit” (also punji pit).

Although the developers might not have known how this type of trap was banned by the UN’s Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons, nobody in the revision process or in the game reviews called out the problematic history. It took 20 years and a vlogger known for deep dives into video games to make the connection. Nevertheless, the remake doesn’t have the pungee pit so maybe somebody realized the implications. Or maybe developers decided that it was unnecessary and we just happen to benefit from no longer joking about war.

The success of the remaster has shown that changes to be more accepting and less harmful (even unintentionally) doesn’t make you less cool. It’s something that skateboarding is starting to realize, and while terminology and video games are small potatoes compared to economic inequality or the violence towards marginalized groups, every step towards progress counts. Hopefully we continue to see these little changes (maybe the next two terms to changed are the ones Skate Like a Girl’s Youth Advisory Board proposed below), and they’re build an even better community.

The CW series In the Dark recently kicked off its second season, and I remember trying to figure out where I had seen one of its actors, Casey Deidrick.  The most likely answer would be on Days of Our Lives or Teen Wolf, but a quick search brought up the fact that he used to be an amateur skateboarder who competed in Vans contests and appeared in Transworld Skateboarding.  In interviews, Casey mentioned switching from a skate career to acting because of the injuries.  Although I could not find the Transworld spread, there’s this video of him on Youtube.  He also has a clip on him tre flipping on Instagram, showing that he still has it.

Casey isn’t the only skater with past action sports aspirations.  Austin Amelio was on the flow team for Osiris and appeared skating through the city he was named after in The Devil’s Toy.  After gigs in short films, music videos, and commercials, he landed the role of a lifetime in The Walking Dead as Dwight.  Nowadays he remains busy on the spin-off series Fear the Walking Dead, but he still finds time to skate and even made a film with Volcom spoofing his celebrity status (no skating in it though).

Austin was photographed by Drew Pickell for a feature in PUREFILTH Magazine about the skate scene in Austin, Texas.

Fans of another cult series, Strangers Things, might recall the punk girl with a fabulous afro named Mick in season 2.  She’s played by Gabrielle Maiden, who was the first black female competitive snowboarder ten years ago.  Snowboarding was a hobby that happened to give her new experiences and some success, but Gabby has said that her dream was always to become an actress.  Her recent work include Showtime TV series SMILF and horror anthology Scare Package. When she’s not acting, modeling, or playing the ukulele, she does occasionally snowboard and skate.

Gabby Maiden placed 5th in the Snowboarding Rail Jam at the 4th Annual Supergirl Jam.  Photo by Jason Lewis (L.A. Sentinel)

Of course, it would be remiss of me to not mention the original action sports athlete-turned-actor, Jason Lee.  After a stint as a pro skateboarder in the late 80s and early 90s, he got his big break in the movie Mallrats.  He’s a two-time Golden Globe nominee for My Name Is Earl and currently voices Charlie in the cartoon We Bear Bears.  Jason has also put on several photography exhibitions.  He still skates, having recently shared a video of a double line with his son on Instagram, and remains “co-captain” of Stereo Skateboards, which he founded with Chris “Dune” Pastras in 1992.

Oh yeah, did I mention that Jason was inducted in the Skateboarding Hall of Fame of 2019?

Happy Star Wars Day everyone!  Now although I’ve already covered how action sports has crossed into the fandom, I can’t help but add this little tidbit on.  It seems that X Games Austin has decided to celebrate May 4 with photos of a Stormtrooper doing some BMX flatland tricks.
 photo as_xg_storm3_2048_zps6kedswnt.jpg
By Sandy Carson (X Games)

Who’s the rider underneath the helmet?  Why it’s Brian Tunney!  Click here to see more fun photos of him in costume.

Moving onto another corner of geekdom, I happened to catch “Assemble”, a mini movie by Samsung and Marvel and guess who’s assumed Thor’s mantle?  John John Florence!  I can’t think of a better candidate with aerials so high he may as well look like he’s flying, a chill attitude, and yes, “godly hair”.  It’s also quite fitting that the man who plays the Asgardian is an avid surfer himself.

While John John is the only action sports pro in the team, the movie also features mechanical engineer Sasha Blanc working on and riding a motorcycle and the adorable Bobby Martinez getting to the rendezvous point on a skateboard.  I think it’s safe to say that action sports and Avengers go pretty well together… though if we were to assemble a super hero team made up of action sports pro, who would be in it?

The Perot Museum of Nature and Science is currently hosting a special exhibit called 2theXtreme: MathAlive!  It combines math, science, and engineering with action sports, design, and pop culture.  In other words, quoting the MathAlive! site, it “answer[s] the age-old question: ‘Will I ever use all this math they’re teaching us?'”  Last month, I got to check it as part of the museum’s adult-only Social Science event, which also featured a BMX demo.

Even though MathAlive! is designed for a younger audience, it still contains some fun hands-on activities and educational tidbits for adults.  Unfortunately we’re too big to enjoy the rock climbing wall and comfortably sit on the stationary bike (I have short legs and it was still awkward for me).  Several of the games seemed easy, but they still required some thinking.  This is a math exhibit after all!

My favorite part of the exhibit was the skateboard design challenge.  You selected board length, truck placement, and wheel size in order to create the ideal board for an ollie.  While it could have used a better explanation as to why a design failed, it was a cool way to look at a math problem.  My second favorite module was the 360-degree camera if only because I got this little souvenir:

Scattered throughout the exhibit were videos of people who use math, which range from engineers to video game designers to skateboarders.

I appreciated the diversity, particularly with the female scientists and engineers shown.  Women in math and science rarely get any face time, which negatively impacts girls thinking of getting into STEM fields. so I’m glad the exhibit is doing its part to promote equality.

The boardercross game should have been fun and easy, but the board was really rickety.  I didn’t utilize the rails because I wanted to emulate the real snowboarding experience.  Unfortunately I crashed too much in trying to get my balance.  Although it’s been over a decade since I stepped foot on a board, I can’t imagine my balance being that bad (I dance and still occasionally skateboard).  That was probably the most disappointing aspect of the exhibit for me.  Nevertheless the exhibit contained more ups than downs; just remember that it’s for kids and during regular hours, you’ll probably have to fight them to give each section a try.

Because I had to buy separate tickets for MathAlive!, I spent a lot of time there and didn’t get to see other aspects of Social Science.  I did catch the second freestyle BMX demo by BMX Pros Trick Team.  The riders have my admiration because not only did some of them come from doing demos all day at the State Fair, but they had to deal with low light and a moderately energetic (and somewhat inebriated) crowd.  Nevertheless, they still pulled out some of the big tricks.


I tried to take photos, but it was too dark.


No idea who made this poster  but it’s rad

I never imagined Star Wars and snowboarding would be mentioned in the same sentence, especially since I had sci-fi loving friends diss boarders and action sports loving friends shun all things geeky.  There’s always exceptions though, and earlier this year, ESPN made a Star Wars reference in one of their snowboarding photos.  Apparently these two things are not so much like the light and dark sides of the Force.

This post was inspired a video by Freakin’ Rad. It was actually of freestyle motocross riders in Storm Trooper costumes, which I just loved. Further investigation led to an earlier movie with snowboarders and freeskiers battling it out.

Later I watched Episode 27 of AWSM on Alli, which had pro boarder Todd Richards spilling the beans on the geeks in the action sports world and browsing around Comic-Con. It was cool to see things from his point of view even if the commentary on cosplayers got to be distasteful in my opinion (those Leia cosplayers were more than just 1s, Mr. Richards).

One of the featured videos in the episode was an old Star Wars-themed snowboard piece that I had never seen before (but is apparently well-known): Gnar Wars.

I was impressed and decided to see if there were other collisions of snowboarding and Star Wars. Guess what? Burton Snowboards and Lucasfilm teamed up last winter, and not only created equipment inspired by Star Wars (for kids only, unfortunately) but a themed park with wood carvings of different characters and Jedi-style instruction.  If you’ve got a kid who would like to be a powder padawan, check out the Burton Star Wars Experience at Sierra at Tahoe.

One sure-fire way to get me to tune into a movie is to open with some sick BMX action, like this:

The clip is from the 2006 teen dramedy Stick It. Although I was curious about the film, being a former aspiring gymnast, my interest wasn’t piqued until I saw the intro (Plano, Texas does not look like that by the way). Even if that was all the action sports action, I thoroughly enjoyed the film and its rebellious BMX-riding gymnast lead.

The main character, Haley, had to stunt doubles: Mike “Rooftop” Escamilla and Scotty Cranmer, who also rode for the character named Poot. Ben Snowden did stunts for the third BMXer, Frank.

Rooftop is no stranger to the silver screen. He and Rick Throne played thieves named Blitzen and Cupid in Paul Blart: Mall Cop (2009). Both riders also starred, along with Mat Hoffman and other action sports athletes, in xXx (2002) although they didn’t do any riding there.

Probably the biggest movie with a bit of BMX is E.T. (1982). Bob Haro, the “godfather of BMX”, was one of the stunt riders. He jumped out of the second floor and wore a black ski mask in the chase scene.
E.T., From the official facebook page of Bob Haro
Photo from Bob Haro’s facebook page.

BMX appeared to be a trend in the 80s with movies like BMX Bandits and Rad! The latter actually contains another link to gymnastics as Olympian Bart Conner had a cameo in the BMX film.

For more info on BMX in movies and television, check out this page from 23MAG.

It’s back to school for a lot of you, and since we can’t always take our boards and bikes with us, we have to find other ways to express ourselves. When I was in school, I had difficulties finding skate/bike/moto-themed supplies. However, times have changed. Sci-fi Hun recently showed me a link for a Birdhouse SkateDrive, a USB flash drive in the shape of a skateboard deck.
You can get them at Walmart, Office Max, or Amazon, and if you prefer snow or surf, Action Sports Drives has some for you too. They’re the perfect accessory if you’re an action sports nerd like me.

My other Facebook Finding comes from Lady Gaga herself. Who knew the pop diva could hang ten? She posted the picture with the caption, “yeah thats me. no heels baby.”

I used to get so irritated when a stereotype of a skater or any other extreme sports athlete appears on TV and in movies and starts spouting an unnecessary amount of slang. It’s horribly misleading, and I had an embarrassing n00b phase because my introduction to the subculture came from the caricatures on TV and that’s how I thought action sports enthusiasts speak. However, now I just laugh (and to be fair, I’ve seen the stereotype work in some depictions, like Crush in Finding Nemo… though he’s a turtle). Do people really think our slang is like a foreign language?

This whole post was inspired by my revisiting the old vampire TV series (old meaning from a time before vamps were cool and cliché… like extreme sports, I was into vampires before the mainstream embraced them) called Blood Ties. In “Blood Price, Part 2”, a skateboarder is being questioned by the cops. The over-the-top usage slang here is clearly for comedic effects as the cops ask him to repeat what he said in layman’s terms. I find it funny because he’s raving about “sweet backside airs” (maybe they were) and using “thrashed” twice for no good reason. The amount of slang they cram in 10 seconds is hilarious. You can check out the clip here: starting at 3:28.

I was curious about whether the skater was an actor or a pro. He’s an actor named Levi James, and he’s starred in another extreme sports-related role. In the soap opera Falcon Beach, he played a pro wakeboarder named Travis Rudnicki. I’ve never seen the series, but it looks like there was quite of a bit of wakeboarding, as one of the main characters did it competitively.

BMX action on Glee

Posted: February 9, 2011 in Nerd Stuff
Tags: , , , ,

The post-Super Bowl episode of Glee had an eye-catching opener, and I’m not talking about the cheerleaders shaking their booties in blue wigs, bikini tops, and pyrotechnic bras. I’m talking X-ups, tailwhips, backflips, and a slew of flatland tricks up front from Terry Adams. Check out the clip for yourself.

The use of BMXers in a Cheerios routine surprised me. I always figured that if action sports were going to be featured on Glee, it would be alongside the unpopular “Gleeks” instead of the mean girl cheerleading squad. Then again, one of the Cheerios, Brittany Pierce, mentioned having motocross practice in a previous episode (I hope the show this in the future).

For those of you who don’t follow flatland BMX, Terry Adams is the name to know. He won gold in the 2005 Asian X Games and has appeared on Ellen and Master of Champions. The Louisiana native also invented a crazy move called the Katrina, pictured below. It involves him jumping over the frame of the bike while balancing on the front wheel.
(Photo by Kevin McAvoy, RedBull photofiles)

Terry had some interesting behind-the-scenes tidbits on the filming of the Glee scene. He also reveals that he started watching the show after getting his role and that his favorite character is Brittany. There are two versions of the interview: and Terry’s answers are the same, but the questions are different, which I find very odd.

Another odd thing related to this Glee episode is that there was a casting call for female BMXers, and yet I didn’t see any girls riding. Do you?

Listening to: “Push the Limits” by Enigma