5 Questions with Old Spice Guy Isaiah Mustafa

Old Spice Guy Isaiah Mustafa helped Old Spice kick off its partnership with Tough Mudder as the official Men’s Body Wash and Anti-Perspirant/Deodorant of the rigorous obstacle course series on Saturday, Apr. 16, 2016 in San Bernardino, Calif., offering the perfect proving ground for guys to test the legendary performance of the new Old Spice Hardest Working Collection. (Photos Gilles Mingasson / AP for Old Spice)

Old Spice Guy Isaiah Mustafa is more than a pretty face with a a tightly toned torso and a voice like butter. At one point, he was a actually a real dude, just like you.

After running track in high school, Mustafa decided to try football and ultimately walked-on at Arizona State University as a wide receiver. He played in the 1997 Rose Bowl and caught passes from quarterback Jake “The Snake” Plummer.

Post graduation in 1997, Mustafa played on the practice squads for the Tennessee Oilers, Oakland Raiders, Cleveland Browns, Seattle Seahawks and even played a season in NFL Europe for the Barcelona Dragons.

After football and prior to landing the “Old Spice Guy” gig, Mustafa owned and operated a restaurant in L.A., won $47,000 on game show The Weakest Link and landed acting roles for shows on NBC, ABC, USA Network and The CW.

We spoke to Isaiah just prior to the kickoff of Old Spice’s year-long partnership with Tough Mudder at Glen Helen Raceway in San Bernardino, where he and thousands of athletes took on a grueling 10-plus mile obstacle course.

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A Roundtable Chat with (Most of) the Cast of “Archer”

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Before he became the world’s second most famous spy novelist, literary master John le Carre famously disliked the world’s most famous spy (who never actually seems to spy much). He has said of James Bond that “you felt he would have gone through the same antics for any country really, if the girls had been so pretty and the Martinis so dry.” We can argue about whether or not that’s literally or just figuratively true of 007. However, it’s very definitely the case if you’re talking about Sterling Malory Archer, the cocktail-guzzling, murderously self-centered yet oddly competent titular protagonist of “Archer,” Adam Reed’s blend of super-smart, reference-heavy, super-black comedy spy satire and frequently filthy animated workplace sitcom. If you’re a fan, like this writer, you’ll be delighted to know that the show returns to FX with its seventh season this Thursday night, March 31th.

Last summer, just as the new season was starting to go into production, I was lucky enough to be invited to a Comic-Con roundtable with pretty much the entire regular cast of the show as well as creator and voice actor Adam Reed. That’s pretty impressive considering the show’s cast includes voice acting comedy genius H. Jon Benjamin (“Bob’s Burgers,” “Home Movies,” etc.) as the voice of Archer; multi-talented actress Aisha Tyler as the even more multi-talented and super-smart superspy Lana Kane; SNL-grad par excellence Chris Parnell (“30 Rock”) as weaselly espionage accountant Cyril Figgis; borderline ubiquitous working actress Judy Greer as the lovably psychopathic billionairess Cheryl Tunt; the less well-known but seemingly no less talented Lucky Yates as mad scientist Dr. Krieger; and the voice of poly-addictive fan favorite Pam Poovey herself, Amber Nash. Present in the room but, sadly, not at my table was genuine acting great Jessica Walter (“Arrested Development,” “Play Misty for Me”), whose Malory Archer is easily the scariest mom in spy fiction this side of “The Manchurian Candidate.”

What follows are highlights of the conversations I was lucky to have or listen in on.

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Video: NBA great Steve Smith on Harley Davidson, March Madness and more

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Sometimes, a person’s name says all you need to know about them. Steve Smith accomplished everything a basketball player could and was so smooth doing it that he never needed a nickname.

After growing up in Detroit, the 6-8 point guard attended college at Michigan State. He was named an All-American as a junior and senior, and hit a game-winning shot in the 1991 NCAA Tournament.

A couple months later, Smith was selected by the Miami Heat with the fifth overall pick in the NBA Draft. His NBA career spanned 14 seasons. He was named an All-Star in 1998, won an Olympic gold medal in the 2000 Sydney games, and won an NBA championship in 2003 with the San Antonio Spurs.

In this video, the current NBA TV and CBS NCAA Tournament analyst spoke to us about his partnership with Harley Davidson and the Live Your Legend campaign, the experience of being an oversized point guard at Magic Johnson’s alma mater, running into the buzzsaw of Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls in the late ’90s, and where he keeps his NBA championship ring.

  

Terrell Owens on Hall of Fame, HGH use, being #BolderThanBold

2016 NFL Hall of Fame nominee and pro football legend Terrell Owens has teamed up with Butterfinger to make the Super Bowl bolder than ever before with the Bolder Than Bold campaign by asking players to bring back the boldest moves on the field – the touchdown dances. Butterfinger has offered to cover up to $50,000 for fines that may be incurred by any player boldly celebrating in the endzone.

In the video above, we asked T.O. about his potential Hall of Fame induction, if he ever used HGH or PEDs, and his favorite endzone celebration. Below are a few highlights:

Favorite touchdown celebration:

“My favorite was either the popcorn or the pom poms. I think those were two that were really kind of spur of the moment and impromptu. Sometimes, when you get in the moment, you have the best celebrations.”

Who gets into the Hall of Fame between him and contemporary Randy Moss:

“I’m definitely going to go with myself. I did it across the board, I did a little bit of everything. I did the little things, I did the intangibles. I blocked downfield, I played hard for four quarters, and with some people’s assessment of his play, he didn’t play 100% of the time.”

On Peyton Manning’s HGH/PED usage and if he ever used:

“No, man. What you see is a product of pure hard work, dedication in the weight room. I think (the speculation on Manning) is as ridiculous as Mike Martz’s comments about me leapfrogging his two guys (Torry Holt, Isaac Bruce) to get into the Hall of Fame. To look at Peyton Manning and think he’s on HGH? Really? He might be on some Butterfingers, but he ain’t on HGH!”

For more information on Butterfinger’s #BolderThanBold campaign, check out the YouTube Channel.

  

Drink of the Week: The Stinger

The Stinger.During my pre-cocktailian days, I’d often get tired of my usual scewdrivers, Bloody Marys, and dirty martinis and ask the barkeep if he or she could think of anything good. The answer was, nearly always, a blank stare. The fact that not a single one ever suggested a Stinger to me is something of a minor crime.

Here is a drink that is about as easy to make as any decent cocktail I’ve ever had and not lacking in some sweet mass appeal. It’s also got some sophistication to it, but it can be delightfully good with the cheap stuff. It is definitely one of the great  mass appeal drinks perfect for the truly lazy or over-stressed bartender, which means you can try ordering this at your local dive or TGIF-type bar and it might even taste good.

The Stinger

2 1/4 ounces brandy
3/4 ounce white creme de menthe

Combine in a cocktail shaker with plenty of ice. Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass and consider what you’ll do with the all the time you’ve saved on this drink.

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Unless you make your own, it seems like there’s not a whole lot of alternatives when it comes to creme de menthe, and the seriously inexpensive DeKuyper product I was using is pretty much the standard. So, with this drink it’s the choice of brandy that can make a big difference, though I have to say I never had a bad Stinger.

Even so, the best brandy seems to yield the best results. So, my best Stinger was made with a reasonably priced bottle of Maison Rouge Cognac. A surprisingly close second was a downright cheap bottle of Pierre Duchene Napolean Brandy from Trader Joe’s, which is actually cheaper than my usual TJ default, Reynal, and most would say less good. I still thought it worked very nicely. A not at all poor third place was E&J VSOP, which I would never consider drinking on its own, but was still fine in a Stinger.

I also had a very nice Stinger (pictured above) when I found myself near my Orange County digs at the pricey but lovable Antonello’s in Santa Ana. I went all Ian Fleming on our waiter, demanding a drink that was 2 parts brandy and a half part creme de menthe. I have no idea whether or not Antonello’s followed my instructions, or what brands they used, but it definitely came out as as a sweetly sophisticated treat, all sweet and winey but with a backbone.

Before I go, I have to add that today’s recipe is pretty much a direct steal from David Wondrich but, in any case, the Stinger is a drink that allows for adjustment to personal taste. For starters, if you find measuring out 2 1/4 ounces too precise and annoying, feel free to just go with 2 ounces of brandy and 1/2 ounce creme de menthe and, if that doesn’t float your boat, feel free to mess around with the proportions. I will say, however, that you should be reasonably sparing of the creme de menthe, whatever you do.

Also, if you’ve only got the green kind of creme de menthe, it’s probably okay to use that. Robert Hess, however, says you should only do that to a Stinger during the holidays. What’s the next holiday?

  

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