Thursday, December 26, 2013

Yes! Yes! Yes!



I'm glad that I live in a world where professional wrestling fans can give a collective "fuck you!" to the establishment by showing their support for the 2013 version of the "people's champ." When The Rock coined that phrase for himself back in the late '90s, the irony was that he was actually the "machine's" champ - to steal a phrase from Colt Cabana.

In a perfect world, the stars align and the crowd appoints a new superstar. The WWE brass hears the audience and acts accordingly. Perhaps the biggest example is the rise of "Stone Cold" Steve Austin. In 1996, he was a "heel," a bad guy. He did what he was doing and the crowd decided they liked it. A natural gestation period happened and by 1998, Austin was the hottest thing going, leading the last professional wrestling boom period and becoming a pop culture phenomenon. 

We all know the back story: Daniel Bryan was trained by Shawn Michaels and became the biggest indie star of the last decade. For the longest time, his reputation was going to be that he was the biggest star to never make it to the "big time." But, then, WWE came calling and he signed.

Similar to Austin, Daniel Bryan was a heel in 2012 and the "WWE Universe" decided that they wanted to cheer him. They enjoyed his heel bit where he would cheat to win and then over-dramatize his efforts by loudly chanting "Yes! Yes! Yes!" like he had actually done something worthwhile.

The WWE responded to this backlash of Bryan supporters by changing his character. Instead of a happy-go-lucky bad guy who chanted "Yes!" he was transformed into a cranky, angry bad guy who chanted "No! No! No!" He was also in the process of growing his beard out, prompting the announcers to make fun of him by making idiotic "goat-face" references.

It got to the point where WWE couldn't silence the fans. He finally made the switch to "Yes!" chanting good guy in the first half of 2013. He was the underdog that everybody loved. Then, finally, his moment in the sun was to arrive: SummerSlam 2013, he was announced as challenging John Cena for the WWE Championship. This was the battle of WWE's champion vs the people's champion. The sports entertainer in Cena vs the wrestler in Daniel Bryan.

There was one factor going into this match that intrigued a lot of people. Cena had a noticeable elbow injury and rumors abounded that he needed surgery. You can't be out of action and be WWE Champion, so this match with Bryan could see him dethrone the top star and become the champ.

There was one bad omen that we were all trying to ignore: Randy Orton and his "Money in the Bank" contract, which means that somebody can receive a world title shot anytime they want. A loophole in the contract basically means that somebody can cash it in whenever, including on an opponent that has just been beaten down and is thus easy prey.

Nobody really expected Daniel Bryan to come out of SummerSlam as champ. People really only expected two options: Randy Orton to beat Daniel Bryan at SummerSlam after a fluke victory over Cena or Cena to win and then lose to Orton the next night on Monday Night Raw.

What actually happened was amazing. Daniel Bryan defeated Cena clean and was awarded the title. It was such a happy moment for professional wrestling fans.



Until...

Randy Orton won the title. That set off the "Randy Orton is in cahoots with Triple H and Stephanie McMahon" storyline that nobody really wants to see. Randy Orton has been pushed as the top guy since 2004. I'm tired of it. A lot of other people are, too. The problem is that WWE markets toward kids now, and those kids will accept whatever WWE tells them to accept.

Or, so they thought. They did the obligatory Bryan-Orton rematches and had Orton cheat to retain each time. Then, they pushed Bryan to the backseat in order to give us what they thought we wanted to see - Randy Orton vs John Cena. Or, what people with a memory will recall is the main WWE feud of 2008 all over again.

Which leads us to the moment above. Triple H was leading a ceremony in the ring featuring all the former WWE & World champions on the roster. It was about Randy Orton and John Cena. But, the crowd hijacked the moment and made it about Daniel Bryan.

They initially started chanting and Triple H tried to talk over them, hoping they'd quiet down. They didn't. He then stopped, hoping they would stop. That didn't work. Shawn Michaels tried to play "peacekeeper," jokingly stepping in and telling the crowd to quiet down. That didn't work. Mark Henry held Bryan's hand up, and then made a "cut" motion across his throat, hoping that they would applaud quickly at the mention of the chant and then stop. It didn't happen.

One of the best Monday Night Raw moments of the year. I hope it goes somewhere. I'm not holding my breath, though.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Story of me and girls



This about sums it up. "I'm a lot like you, so please. Hello, I'm here, I'm waiting. I think I'd be good for you and you'd be good for me."

I've never been good at making a first move at any point in my life. Weezer understands me. Plus, this track has the two things that every successful song needs: unnecessary profanity (especially the GD word) and a professional wrestling reference. One is easier to spot than the other in "El Scorcho."

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Steady As She Goes



Not every song is written for you at the moment you first hear it. The Raconteurs, the side project of then-White Stripes frontman Jack White, released their first album in 2005, the first single of which was "Steady, As She Goes." I listened to it and liked it. I thought the whole album was great. "Hands," "Blue Veins," "Yellow Sun," and "Broken Boy Soldier" are some of my favorite tracks of theirs.

Some songs are above your head at certain times in your life. I was listening to Pandora a month or so back and "Steady, As She Goes" came on. I hadn't heard it in a while and took this opportunity to really listen to it, reading the lyrics that popped up on the screen with it. Jack White has been one of my favorite lyricists for a long time. I love the White Stripes and how Jack White talks about love and life.

And that's what he talks about here. At 19-years-old, when I first heard this song, it didn't mean anything to me. At 27, I'm now witnessing this song in my life. "Steady, As She Goes" is about maintaining a steady lifestyle: get married young to somebody you don't really love and don't do anything exciting with your life. "You've had to much to think, now you need a wife" perfectly sums up a lot of what I've seen in small-town, America aka Princeton.

It's kind of a depressing song. But, it is also a reminder. I don't want that life. Listen and learn from it.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Finding Hulk Hogan

I'm not sure how I hadn't heard of the 2010 A&E documentary "Finding Hulk Hogan" until now. It chronicles the comeback journey Hulk Hogan took from the ending of his marriage, his son's car wreck & subsequent civil lawsuit that came out of it, and his deteriorating mental and physical state.

I read Hulk Hogan's 2009 autobiography "My Life Outside the Ring" and it basically tells the same story. Not much from the documentary was a surprise to me; his contemplation of suicide, his children ostracizing him, losing his fortune, etc... But the documentary puts a different picture to it that the book doesn't. He can write about how worn down his body is, but that doesn't compare to actually seeing him hobbling around and having a doctor show him x-rays of his back. 

Speaking of appearances, it was interesting to see Hogan not have his full "Hogan look" in pristine condition. At one point, you can see his black roots showing on his bleach-blond hair and since there were multiple interviews conducted, you see his mustache with differing amounts of gray stubble around it.

The documentary concludes with Hogan's return to the wrestling industry with TNA: Impact Wrestling. Spoiler alert: he's no longer affiliated with them. He signed with the promotion in 2009, debuted in 2010, and finally left in the fall of 2013. While no official contract has been signed, it is considered a no-brainer that Hogan will wind up back with WWE in the coming months, especially considering that the monumental WrestleMania 30 pay-per-view is coming up in April 2014. Hogan was the main attraction for the first 9 WrestleMania events and had a brief resurgence for the 18th and 19th WrestleManias.

The documentary is below, broken up into three YouTube videos. Check it out. If you haven't read his book, this documentary is a great look into the man behind the iconic character. If you have read it, then this is an additional viewing accessory to what you already know.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Episode 08: Duck Dynasty & Santa



Episode 08 of the podcast is up. The recent uproar over Phil Robertson's comments to GQ Magazine got my attention and I discuss that. I scan through my Facebook news feed and pick out some of the best... and worst... comments about Phil Robertson and the Duck Dynasty crew. While we're on the subject of controversies, I look at the Megyn Kelly/Fox News "Black Santa" issue and I use that to segue into professional wrestling. Trust me, it works.

I mention the "Twitter Account of the Week" for you to follow, but I didn't spell it out so to avoid any confusion it is @FacesPics

All that and more. Check it out. It's a fun way to kill some time. If you're a Facebook friend of mine, maybe I used your comments. Listen to find out. 

CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE "B-SIDES: RARITIES AND UNRELEASED WORKS, VOL. 01"

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Some books I've read recently

A lot of my friends have been tagging people on Facebook and imploring them to list 10 books that changed their lives in some manner. There are a lot of stereotypical "greats" listed. In fact, a lot of those lists look the same. Maybe this is weird for me to feel, but I haven't done that list thing because I don't really think a book has changed my life in any way.

There are a lot of books that I love and I've gotten very emotional reading certain books, but none have moved me to the point where I would make that Facebook post about them. If I made that post, maybe it would just say "The ability to read books has changed my life."

Around the 2nd grade is when I remember first falling in love with reading. I have no idea how many books I've read in my life. I would imagine it's a lot. When I was in middle school, I didn't ride the school bus. I would walk down the street to the Ravenswood Public Library and wait for my mom to pick me up when she got off work. I would just sit around and read books. 

With all that said, here are a few small reviews of some books I've read recently. 

Fear And Loathing in Las Vegas  ... Some people were surprised I had never read this book. Written by "gonzo journalist" Hunter S. Thompson, "Fear" originally appeared broken up into installments in Rolling Stone magazine a year before being published as a book. 

This might not be a popular opinion, but I didn't like this book. Written very much in Thompson's style, a hybrid of fact and fiction, it's just too weird for me. I don't have that much experience with psychedelic drugs and I wasn't alive in the time period presented. 

You would think I would love a tale about a journalist trying to get his story. But I didn't. I haven't watched the movie yet. Maybe I'll like that. We'll see. 

Fight Club ... The debut novel from Chuck Palahniuk was made into a famous movie starring Edward Norton and Brad Pitt. I haven't seen that movie either. I had wanted to read the book for a long time. One thing stopping me was because the ending had been spoiled. 

The movie was very successful and was always hyped as having such a shocking twist that it was only a matter of time before I found out that twist. I went into the book knowing that twist and tried to let that help my reading, wondering "how do we get there?" "how does that affect the other characters?" I jumped into it and really enjoyed the book. A character study of the human mind and the drudgery of life. I could really sympathize with the lead character and I'm sure a lot of other people can as well. 

Tietam Brown ... Professional wrestler Mick Foley has found a successful second career as an author, writing a collection of autobiographies and children's books. He has written two novels and really didn't have a lot of success with them, so he hasn't written one in several years. Although, in one of his autobiographies, Foley hinted at maybe writing a future novel under a pseudonym. 

"Tietam Brown" follows the titular character, a teenager who suddenly moves in with his father after a lifetime of estrangement. Two words perfectly describe this novel: Dark. Twisted. For such a fun-loving man to write something so creepy and intense, it's almost hard to fathom. There were several moments that literally had my eyes open in shock. Murder. Suicide. Child abuse. Verbal abuse. Rape. There's enough crazy stuff there for everybody. Foley has said that there has been some interest into adapting "Tietam Brown" into a movie. I'd watch it. 

The Hardcore Truth: The Bob Holly Story ... Bob "Hardcore Holly" Howard was one of the longest-tenured members of the WWE roster until his release in 2008. Now in his early 50s and largely retired, the out-spoken hothead from Mobile, Alabama saw fit to release an autobiography.

If you're looking for the "dirt," and want to hear somebody "shoot," then this is the book for you. He is especially venomous toward Triple H, Shawn Michaels, and Jeff Jarrett, to name a few. He is surprisingly loyal to Vince McMahon, noting that the WWE Chairman was always good to him and he was loyal in return.

A couple flaws with the book. First, he tells a little too much sometime. When discussing his own steroid usage over the years, he outs a couple other guys as users. On the subject of outing, he also reveals a fellow wrestler as being gay. It's really not his place to decide who knows how this guy lives his life. Holly also suffers from a case of thinking he's a bigger star than he really was. In all honesty, Holly was a good wrestler with a good character who was lucky to be featured during the hottest era in wrestling history.

Wrestling Reality: The Life and Mind of Chris Kanyon, Wrestling's Gay Superstar ... This isn't so much a wrestling autobiography as it is a tale of a man struggling with his sexuality. That's why I would definitely recommend this book for anybody who considers LGBT issues to be important to them.

Kanyon was a life-long wrestling fan who achieved a huge level of success, becoming a minor star in both World Championship Wrestling and World Wrestling Entertainment. But, he felt like he had the ability to become a major star, which the decision makers of both companies did not agree.

Kanyon realized he was gay around 10-years-old and wasn't open about it until he was nearly 40. It took almost 30 years for this man to be comfortable with who he was. He almost seems paranoid at times about the backlash he would have received. Perhaps the public may not have been ready for a gay wrestler in the late 1990s, but it seemed odd when Kanyon recounted a conversation with wrestler Raven who confronted him saying, "Come on, I know you're gay. It's okay." and Kanyon still refusing to admit it to him.

Journalist Ryan Clark agreed to help Kanyon write this book around 2007. The book was finished in 2010, a month before Kanyon committed suicide. His history of mental illness, including a previous 2003 suicide attempt, are covered in the book. Wrestling Reality was released a year later, in 2011.

A flaw for wrestling fans, that casual fans won't care about, is that Ryan Clark isn't a wrestling fan. Some details are flawed, like when Kanyon talks about facing Booker T in 1995. Clark fills in the blanks to describe Booker T but in doing so describes 2008 Booker T, who was much different than the 1995 version. A similar instance occurs when describing the 1995 version of Eric Bischoff as the 2008 version.

* * *

Those are a few of the books I've read recently. I finished Fear & Loathing on the airplane to California. I started Fight Club on that same plane to California and finished it on the flight back. The others were read here and there over the last month or so.

Speaking of books: 

CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE "B-SIDES: RARITIES AND UNRELEASED WORKS, VOL. 01"

Thursday, December 12, 2013

DVD Review: #7LevelsOfHate

WRESTLING HISTORY LESSON: if you were a professional wrestler in the 1970s and 1980s, there were three major titles you vied for. There was the World Wrestling Federation Championship, the National Wrestling Alliance Championship, and the American Wrestling Association Championship.

The WWF, the NWA, and the AWA were the "Big 3" of that era. For the sake of this, forget the AWA. They died in the late 80s. They're not important to this story.

Before cable television and the Internet, professional wrestling was a territorial business. The World Wrestling Federation was based out of New York. The AWA was based out of the Minnesota region. There was a Florida territory, Texas, California, etc... and so forth.

The National Wrestling Alliance was more than a title belt. It was a governing body. All of the regional promoters (minus WWE and AWA) were a part of the NWA. These 15 promotions or so all agreed that they would recognize one world champion. One world champion would then travel to all of the territories and defend the title. The most famous of these "traveling world champions" as they were called would be Ric Flair in the 1980s.

Cable television allowed the WWF to reach a global audience and jump to the front of the pack. The various NWA promoters tried to catch up but a lot of them went by the wayside. One promoter, Jim Crockett, managed to also get on cable and put up a valiant fight, but he ultimately lost as well. Crockett would sell his regional promotion to Ted Turner, who renamed it World Championship Wrestling.

Without the luxury of a cable TV show, the prestige of the NWA title started to flounder. The WWF, WCW, and upstart ECW became the new "Big 3" of the 1990s. The NWA was left trying to find a new identity. Or, more accurately, try to find a new Ric Flair. They tried with UFC legend Dan Severn, who held the title for multiple years. He didn't bring the championship title back to prominence, despite appearing on WWF television with the title belt. They tried with Steve Corino in 2001. He was a throwback to that style, but he didn't help raise their profile either. The NWA later struck up a deal with TNA and tried to make Jeff Jarrett into the new Ric Flair. He was entertaining, but it didn't take the NWA where they wanted it to go and they ended their partnership with TNA.

* * *

And now that the history is out of the way, we are up to a few years ago. Adam Pearce was the new traveling world champion of the NWA. A long-time journeyman, Pearce is best known among hardcore fans for a stint as booker of Ring of Honor, which basically means he created the storylines and decided who won. Pearce was also the new kingpin of the assorted NWA promotions.

The NWA was - and still is - a shell of its former self, but there were people who wanted to make it work. Pearce's "home territory," so to speak, was the new NWA Championship Wrestling from Hollywood. They had managed to get a broadcast television spot for their weekly show, something that really doesn't happen in this day and age anymore. They had more visibility than all of the other promotions combined, basically.

One of the most popular indie stars around is Colt Cabana. His best friend is CM Punk. He has the most popular wrestling podcast of all time (although, Steve Austin is giving him competition). And he's an awesome wrestler.

From 2010 through 2012, Cabana and Pearce engaged in one of the most high-profile independent wrestling feuds arguably in decades, which culminated in a best of seven series dubbed "Seven Levels of Hate." The feud and political fallout from the NWA was the impetus for Pearce to self-produce a documentary about the entire thing.



"Seven Levels of Hate: The UNCUT Story of Independent Wrestling's GREATEST Feud" is more than what the title states. It is a story about how poor decision making can ruin great ideas.

If you're a wrestling fan, then you likely know what happened. If you're not, I'll try not to ruin too much of it. In a nutshell, Pearce and Cabana had this great idea that was well-received by the wrestling community and fans. Then there was a series of lawsuits between NWA upper management that led to new owners. Those new owners then decided that they wanted nothing to do with Cabana - who this feud was designed to make the heir apparent to the NWA crown - and then, Pearce, who they asked to simply drop the belt at a meaningless show in West Virginia with no build or notice.

In the documentary, they do a great job of putting over how important Cabana could have been to the NWA. He is the most well-known wrestler to have never had a substantial run in WWE or TNA. Cabana notes that at the time of his first NWA World Championship victory over Pearce, the NWA twitter account had approximately 5000 followers and Cabana himself had over 50,000. There was a legitimate buzz surrounding his title victory. I remember coming home from work and finding out the news on twitter and looking for more information. Cabana was a respected wrestler and real fans were happy for him.

He lost the belt six weeks later to a generic-looking wrestler with a generic-sounding name, The Sheik. I had never heard of this guy before and now his name is sadly linked to Ric Flair, Dusty Rhodes, Sting, and the rest. As Pearce said on the documentary, "It didn't make any sense then and it doesn't make any sense now."

It didn't work and the NWA made the decision to put the belt back on Pearce, in effect hitting the reset button and starting the Pearce/Cabana feud over again. That's what led to "Seven Levels of Hate," as Cabana won the NWA Championship for a second time and Pearce challenged him to a seven-match series to determine who was the best.

It all culminates in a cage match in Australia that the NWA has refused to sanction, as they were already done with both competitors. The match finishes, the Seven Levels of Hate is over, but the controversy is just beginning. Both get on the microphone and renounce the company that renounced them. Pearce hands the belt to Cabana, saying he earned it. Cabana says he doesn't want it and gives it back to Pearce, who says he doesn't want it either. In a symbolic moment, the two grapplers each hold the title belt in the air before dropping it on the ground, effectively ending both of their relationships with the NWA.

The "Seven Levels of Hate" documentary is a great look into the inner workings of wrestling. Disk one is the actual documentary, featuring interviews with Cabana, Pearce, and several of the promoters involved with the seven matches, in addition to other wrestling personalities and journalists. Disk two features all seven matches and some promos.

Given that Pearce made the documentary himself, it had the potential to only tell one side of the story. But, Pearce keeps it as balanced as he can. One problem hurting that was that several of the new owners of the NWA refused to be interviewed. So, there's not really a side saying, "Here's why we were right," but Pearce and a few others at least play devil's advocate and say, "It was their decision and I understand that."

Production-wise, the nearly 2-hour documentary flows nicely. One interview will fade out in the last words and the next will fade in and continue the story. The graphics look awesome, with a lot of flames involved. The soundtrack is composed of original tracks, mostly of the hip hop genre that help further the story. As soon as you put the disk in and the title screen comes up, the song playing instantly paints the picture of what is going on in Pearce's head.

From a technical standpoint, there were only a few flaws. Maybe it was just my television, but there were a couple points where words were on the screen and it extended beyond my screen and I couldn't see everything. During a few of the interviews, it would be hard to hear and I would have to turn the volume up and then turn it back down for the next interview. Just through the nature of collecting the interviews, that is to be expected. There were different microphones involved with some and a few appeared to be recorded over Skype.

In short, if you like wrestling, you have to own this. It is required viewing for wrestling fans. If you don't like wrestling, but want to see how an organization can work toward killing itself with bad decisions, check it out.

Go to sevenlevelsofhate.com to order "Seven Levels of Hate: The UNCUT Story of Independent Wrestling's GREATEST Feud." Follow Adam Pearce on Twitter and Facebook. Follow Colt Cabana on Twitter and check out his Art of Wrestling podcast. 

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Episode 07: B-Sides & Snow



Episode 07 of the podcast is up. Short episode this go-round, as I'm all by myself. Topics I discuss:

- Wrap up discussion of Thanksgiving spent in California with my girlfriend, Ashley Green.

- My new haircut and how it's really the same hair style I've had for years.

- Now a proud member of hashtag team iPhone and how OCD I am about organizing my apps.

- My power went out and the absurdity of the official Appalachian Power twitter handle being @AppalachianPowe.

- The outpouring of support I've received from my friends and peers over the release of my first book, "B-Sides: rarities and unreleased works, vol. 01," including plans for volume 02 and another book I'm writing.

- The 33rd anniversary of John Lennon's death was the other day. I talk about that and list my five favorite Lennon solo songs and then five favorite Lennon Beatles songs. Then I talk about some of my favorite Beatles songs covered by other artists. Apologies in advance for a little bit of singing that I do.

- From the "I feel like an idiot" department, when talking about music, I mention the Counting Crows when I actually meant to say the Black Crowes. Sorry about that. I feel stupid for mixing those two up.

That's everything. Have some good ideas for future podcasts. I just need to make them happen and I will. I'll keep you guys updated. Questions or comments, feel free to leave them. 

CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE "B-SIDES: RARITIES AND UNRELEASED WORKS, VOL. 01"

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Chris Slater's first book has been published

Chris Slater has released his first e-book, “B-Sides: rarities and unreleased works, vol. 01” as an Amazon exclusive for the Kindle. 

“Without really knowing it, this book has been in the works for over 5 years,” Slater said. 

Slater realized his computer was going to die soon over the summer. A 2007 Christmas gift from his grandpa, the laptop had outperformed most expectations. Knowing that it would not last long caused Slater to take inventory of what was inside, what files and pictures he wanted to save. 

“It was a nice trip down memory lane,” Slater said. “There were pictures, videos, and writing dating back to 2007. It was pure nostalgia and it made me happy to relive it.” 

Slater’s passion is writing. 

“When I was 15-years-old, sitting in Mrs. Slavey’s journalism class at Princeton High, I realized what I wanted to do with the rest of my life,” Slater said. 

Through his years at Concord University and as a freelancer for various West Virginia newspapers, Slater has pursued that journalism career. As a writer, one of Slater’s biggest problems would be the occasional writer’s block. He said inspiration would always have to hit him for the entire duration of writing. One of his biggest problems was starting something and not being able to finish it. 

“If I couldn’t write something something and go all the way with it, I usually wasn’t able to come back to it,” Slater said. “For the most part, it has to be one-and-done with me when it comes to writing.” 

Another issue that would compromise Slater’s writing was how his mood affected him. 

“I would get the inspiration to write something and that inspiration could be any number of emotions - anger, happiness, wanting to make people laugh,” Slater said. “And then I would finish writing something and either my mood would have changed - the anger subsided - or it didn’t accomplish what I wanted to do, maybe it wasn’t as funny as I originally thought.” 

Those two issues would cause Slater to either stop writing something or finish it and not submit it anywhere, either his college newspaper or his personal blog. The semi-completed or completed works sat there on his computer. 

“When I was looking through all of the stuff on that old computer, I realized I had all of this content,” Slater said. “And what I realized with time away from it was that a lot of it was pretty good.” 

Writing a book had been something in the back of Slater’s mind for a while. He had started one, but was having trouble doing the necessary research and conducting interviews. 

“Maybe it’s my laziness kicking in,” Slater said. “But I looked at my one book that was going nowhere and I looked at all of this content and realized if I turned this into a book that it was mostly done already.” 

He looked at the collection of work the way a musician looks at his unreleased songs. 

“I had a little bit of a reputation among people who knew me from college,” Slater said. “I figured there would be a decent amount of intrigue in saying, ‘Here’s Chris Slater’s unreleased writings.’” 

The compilation book “B-Sides: rarities and unreleased works, vol. 01” is available as a Kindle exclusive in the Amazon store. Go to Amazon.com and type “Chris Slater B-Sides” in the search bar. To purchase the book, one needs either a physical Kindle e-reader, or a Kindle app can be downloaded for free on an iPhone, Android phone, or computer.

CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE "B-SIDES: RARITIES AND UNRELEASED WORKS, VOL. 01"

Monday, December 2, 2013

New Chapter



Moving on to the next chapter of my life. Don't know what that is yet, but I've realized I'm finally ready for it. I'll keep you updated.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Episode 06: Ashley Green



While in California, I managed to land an exclusive interview with none other than Ashley Green. During our 40-minute conversation, we touched upon a number of things. Topics include:

- Pros & Cons of living in San Diego.

- What is a "Women's Studies" degree and what does one do with it.

- LGBT issues, and what some of the extra letters mean (LGBT...Q...Q...A...P...etc).

- Compare & Contrast living in San Diego versus living in Princeton, WV.

- Greek life at San Diego State University versus Concord University.

- Can a long distance relationship work?

We talk about a lot of other stuff, including my haircut and trip to the farmer's market, and touch upon the time I previously interviewed her in 2010. It's a fun listen. Couple notes: I mention at one point liking the modern rock station in San Diego (and Morgantown). Most people in the Princeton area will understand why I like them, but I failed to mention it - Princeton doesn't have a modern rock station. And Ashley talks about her Women's Studies program and the different disciplines involved, but forgot to mention "ageism" and "ableism." And we also mention Rey Mysterio.

Let me know what you think.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Episode 05: Words and Whatever



We're finally back with episode 05 of the podcast. I start out talking about visiting Ashley Green, my girlfriend, in California in a few days. I segue into talking about the death of Concord professor Dr. Kane and transition into some of my favorite educators in high school and college. Then I talk about a complaint I received about a previous podcast regarding my language.

I feel really dumb that I bring up the George Carlin "7 Words" bit at one point and refer to it throughout as his "6 words." So, apologies in advance for messing that up. I still said all 7 words if that counts.

A fun listen. I'm biased, obviously. Questions, comments, complaints, let me know.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Get Over It



First heard this song when I was a freshman at Concord. Thought it was awesome then. I guess you could say OK Go is one of my favorite bands from the last decade. I haven't heard a bad song from them yet.

In addition to being fun to listen to, it's also full of good advice. Don't worry about your problems. Just get over it.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

AJ Styles leaves #TNA with the title. Seem familiar?

TNA Impact Wrestling held their biggest pay-per-view of the year last week, Bound for Glory 2013. AJ Styles won the world heavyweight championship in the main event. One of the more popular wrestlers, and only one of three people to be with TNA since their first event in 2002 (along with Jeff Jarrett and James Storm), the fans went home happy.

One person was not happy: the evil promoter Dixie Carter. Oh yeah, and AJ Styles contract is running out so he just won the world title and will be leaving the promotion soon. Dixie ordered a rematch between Styles and former champ Bully Ray for last Thursday night. AJ won. Dixie tried to get him to sign a contract. It is below: 



TNA was already receiving some criticism from online commentators for seemingly copying the "evil promoter angle" with Dixie Carter and WWE's Stephanie McMahon. Now, AJ Styles is the world champion without a contract who has left the promotion.

Seems similar to something that happened in 2011... 



To make the storyline even more similar, AJ Styles even dropped his "pipebomb" promo on Dixie Carter and TNA a few weeks ago. It's okay. The problem, not to harp, would be AJ's voice and speaking style. This is arguably the greatest promo that AJ Styles has ever done, and I wouldn't classify it as a home run.  



Even if he had knocked it out of the park, it still doesn't compare to the best promo in recent years, the original WWE "pipebomb." 



AJ Styles, as good as he is in the ring, is no CM Punk on the microphone. Especially in his younger days, AJ Styles really was his nickname - "phenomenal." At 35, he can still break out some amazing moves and show that he is one of the best wrestlers out there. But, AJ just doesn't have that explosive verbiage and ability to convey his feelings via a microphone. And, as mean as it sounds, that accent of his really doesn't do him any favors.

In the grand scheme of things, nothing is original. TNA is copying a WWE storyline. WWE copied a Ring of Honor storyline (which, admittedly also featured CM Punk). Ric Flair did a similar storyline in the early 90s. Hopefully it will work for TNA. They need all the help they can get.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Hard Times, 30 years later

One of the most famous wrestling promos of all times is a 1985 interview by "The American Dream" Dusty Rhodes where he describes the "Hard Times" that have been put on him by Ric Flair.

Last week, TNA wrestling champion Bully Ray (the TNA-ized moniker of "Bubba Ray Dudley" which WWE owns the rights to) met in the ring with AJ Styles, the challenger to his championship. He noted that at the upcoming "Bound For Glory" pay-per-view, the biggest event of TNA's year, their version of WrestleMania, that he was going to bring "Hard Times" upon AJ Styles and his family.

Below is Dusty Rhodes' original 1985 promo and after that is Bully Ray mentioning it in 2013. The biggest thing to note here is that Bully Ray is delivering such a great promo for such a sub par storyline. The biggest event on the TNA calendar was a letdown. It almost feels like Ray has been wasting away in TNA when he should be rewarded for reinventing himself so thoroughly by having a great WWE run.

AJ Styles, for better or worse, is the biggest homegrown TNA star. He has never wrestled for WWE and is the guy most people associate with when they hear the initials T-N-A. Could he be a big star in WWE? I honestly don't know, and would lean toward "no." But, he's "Mr. TNA" and their go-to guy for the last 11 years.

Dusty Rhodes promo

Bully Ray - AJ Styles promo



The worst thing about TNA right now is that they're doing a "evil president" angle with Dixie Carter, the woman featured in the video. She put up a $50,000 bounty on anybody who could take out AJ Styles before the BFG pay-per-view. Hopefully that storyline ends soon.

AJ Styles won the World Title from Bully Ray on Sunday night at Bound For Glory 2013. Hopefully something good comes from that. AJ is a great wrestler, but I just don't know about him as a personality. Bully Ray is the total package; he's just had to deal with being in TNA when he could be doing so much more.

Nothing can touch the original Dusty promo, but it was a nice homage from Bully Ray, one of the best promo men going today. The best thing from this is when I went to look up the original Dusy promo on YouTube and I saw a few comments along the lines of "Bully Ray's promo brought me here to check this out." That's nice to see.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Episode 04: Celia Laverty



Last semester, I noticed a new girl had started attending meetings of the Student Government Association at Concord. And, you know, it was a very basic "Hey, look, a pretty girl" type of thing. As the weeks progressed, Celia Laverty began taking a more active role in the SGA and I realized that she had interesting things to say. The main thing was that she was taking her role seriously. It really seems like only a handful of SGA members do that anymore, which is why they don't seem to get a lot done.

Celia Laverty was the Beckley Senator last semester. She was a student at the Erma Byrd Higher Education Center, which is the shared facility between Concord University, Bluefield State College, and Marshall University. Her role in the SGA was to help foster a more positive relationship between the Athens and Beckley campuses.

We had a nice conversation about the Beckley campus. We talked about what she did as Beckley Senator last semester and we segued that into what she's doing in the SGA now. You should check it out. You won't be disappointed.

I read The Concordian today. I'll leave it at that. One thing that would be really cool for them to do, if anybody from the staff is reading/listening, is to do a story about this. It's just something fun for people to learn about.

Like we mention a few times in the interview, if you'd like any more information about the Erma Byrd Higher Education Center, find Celia on Facebook or check out an SGA meeting, Wednesdays at 4 p.m. in the State Room at Concord.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Norm Macdonald Clip of the Week



The video is titled "norm saves the interview" and that is very true. Courtney Thorne-Smith, best known from "Melrose Place," is being interviewed by Conan O'Brien. Norm was the first guest of the night, so he's still sitting out there. It's really just a dull interview about the big season finale of "Melrose Place." Nothing too interesting is going on until she brings up that she recently finished a movie with infamous prop comic Carrot Top.

Conan makes a couple jokes at Carrot Top's expense and it's cute, but the interview is dying a slow death until Norm takes over, making fun of Carrot Top, calling him "box-office poison" and referring to Thorne-Smith as a "beautiful, talented talk-show guest."

The biggest laugh of the video comes at the end when the movie title, "Chairman of the Board," is revealed. Norm hits the joke out of the park and even Conan can't hide the fact that he thinks it's hilarious.

If you want to see the trailer for "Chairman of the Board," click here. I would recommend not watching the trailer, because it's probably the dumbest movie ever made.

At the end of the video, Conan mentions that Collective Soul will be performing next. I tried to see if I could find the actual performance on the show but I couldn't. They probably played "December."

Monday, October 14, 2013

One of the biggest mistakes WWE ever made



One of the biggest mistakes WWE ever made was destroying the creative talent that is in this ring, circa August 2008. The problem that Brian Kendrick and Scotty Goldman (aka Colt Cabana) had was that they were featured in the wrong era of WWE programming.

Brian Kendrick was trained by Shawn Michaels in 1999. Who else was in Kendrick's training class? A young kid named Bryan Danielson, who became multiple-time world champion Daniel Bryan.

Colt Cabana began training to become a wrestler in 2000 in Chicago. Who did he meet in his class that was also training to become a wrestler? A young kid named Phil Brooks, who became the "Best in the World" years later as CM Punk.

Kendrick had been with WWE off-and-on in various capacities since 2003. At this point in 2008, he was in the middle of the biggest push he had ever had. He was being positioned as an upper-mid-card heel. He beat a lot of people and was entertaining on the microphone - all the things you need to be a star.

He had one mark against him, though - his size. WWE still wasn't ready to push a smaller (but charismatic) star, despite the fact that every time they did it in the past it worked (Shawn Michaels, anybody?).

Kendrick was paired with Ezekiel Jackson, a newcomer to WWE. He was seen as the "muscle" that Kendrick lacked. They made a good pair. Similar to the Shawn Michaels and Diesel combo from the mid 90s, they complimented each other.

They could have been stars together. Instead, they broke them up way too soon and tried to push Ezekiel, while getting rid of Kendrick. What happened to Kendrick? Nobody is 100 percent sure why he was released, but rumors abound that it was Wellness Policy related. When the Wellness Policy was enacted in 2005, it tested for illegal drugs and steroids. A big loophole that was quickly discovered was that nothing happened if you tested positive for marijuana. A while later, WWE amended the policy to make testing positive a $1000 fine. Other drugs prompted a 30-day suspension, but marijuana was simply a $1000 fine, and that was only after facing scrutiny from the media.

Rumor has it that in the summer of 2008 WWE was telling people to stop smoking marijuana and that if you continued breaking those rules you would be de-emphasized in WWE programming as a result. Kendrick is a well-known pot smoker, open about his lifestyle. Who knows? But that's what it looks like.

Sidenote: Kendrick's theme music from that era is one of my favorites of all time.

# # #

Colt Cabana is just one of the oddest stories in wrestling from the last decade. Why he is not a major star in WWE is one of the biggest questions everybody who knows enough is asking. He trained alongside CM Punk and they wrestled their first matches against each other around the country before both got noticed by Ring of Honor (where Kendrick also had a couple stints).

Punk took things in a different direction, becoming a talented heel known for his impassioned promos. Cabana became a throwback to a cartoon-style of wrestling, mixing comedy into his routine.

What made Cabana stand out is that he was able to be taken seriously as a wrestler while still incorporating his comedy. And I think that's where WWE dropped the ball. They have trouble booking comedy acts as being serious. In an interview, Cabana has mentioned that he has been told that "funny does not equal money."

Had Colt Cabana stayed in WWE, he would probably either have Santino Marella's spot or he would have ditched the comedy and been repackaged as something different. And, that's a shame, because Cabana could have been a star in WWE with his style. When CM Punk, one of the biggest stars in wrestling, is actively promoting you and saying WWE dropped the ball with Cabana, you tend to listen.

Cabana is making his own name outside of WWE. He has a popular podcast, The Art of Wrestling, that has a sizable following. He interviews wrestlers, several of them WWE wrestlers, and it's an entertaining look into what makes these people tick.

Inside the ring, Cabana will likely be best remembered for his 2010-2012 feud with Adam Pierce over the NWA World Heavyweight Championship. Their "7 Levels of Hate" series of matches over those two years were especially brutal. A documentary looking at the matches and politics involved was recently released. Click here and click here for previews.

# # #

I'm guessing that WWE has learned from their mistakes, as evidenced by the success of Daniel Bryan and CM Punk in recent years. It's a shame that Kendrick and Cabana never made it huge on a national stage. Both obviously had the talent to become something special.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Norm Macdonald Clip of the Week



Here's a clip of Norm Macdonald being interviewed by David Letterman. He talks about being an opening comedian for Bill Cosby and breaks out a pretty funny impression of Cosby. It all culminates in an awkward moment for Norm.

Monday, October 7, 2013

SGA Meeting Notes [10-02-13]

Cheap plug that is actually relevant: in my latest podcast, I interviewed Jeff Harvey, Princeton Times reporter. He said something about it being frustrating when he would attend a board meeting or something where nothing much happened and then he would have to try and find something to write about.

I was at the 10-02-13 meeting of Concord University's Student Government Association. Not a whole lot happened. But that'll happen from time to time. As long as they're working on making things happen then everything should be fine.



Notes from the meeting:

Homecoming King Attorney General Andrew Miller took away the voting rights of BSU, CU Honors, and Senator Adam Gellios. The college Scouts group, PATH, the PR club, and the Reading Council will all receive voting rights at the 10-09-13 SGA meeting. An organization or Senator loses voting rights after accumulating three absences. The last time I checked, a senate meeting was one absence and a committee meeting counted as half an absence. If that's changed at any point let me know.

Genevieve Hatcher, Business Manager, noted that some organizations still need to get proper paperwork filed in order to receive reimbursements from the previous academic year. If you are one of those groups, get in touch with her before you can receive your money.

In budget news, the Film Society asked for $1000 to purchase new movies. And the Student Activities Committee asked for $1500, for entertainment purposes as well as to help fix some issues in the State Room (where the SGA meetings are held). Both allocations passed.

The chair of the combined housing/dining committee gave a rundown of her report. If a student needs room repairs, talk to your RA. There is a new stove in Wooddell Hall. The housing department is looking into getting new ice machines in Wilson Hall. The contracts for washing machines will be up in a year. The housing/dining committee chair said that the next washing machines purchased would have an option for a credit or debit card.

Moving to dining issues, the committee chair said that the "pasta day" in the cafeteria didn't work due to ventilation issues. She didn't elaborate. Maybe a reporter from The Concordian will look into this for me. There are new glasses in the cafeteria. She also said that it would cost too much to keep the cafeteria open longer on the weekends without something major like raising tuition. There is also a nutritional app for your phone that has the cafeteria menu on it. A handy box in The Concordian with instructions on how to download that app would be handy. Maybe in the Student Life Section.

She concluded her report by saying "If there are any issues, go to the ombudsman or come to me." I wrote in my notes at the time "Who is she?" If anybody needs to talk to the ombudsman, his email is ombudsman[at]concord.edu. The ombudsman is the person you're supposed to go to if you have problems. Probably one of the most underutilized positions in the SGA. There's a lot of potential there for the person holding that title to do some good.

In "New Business" Monica Rahall and Richard Babich were finally sworn in as members of the judicial branch [story idea for The Concordian: what is a justice?]. James Miller was sworn in as the Beckley Senator. His job is to help foster a positive relationship between the main Athens campus and Concord's Beckley campus. If you don't know much about Concord's Beckley campus, perhaps The Concordian should do a feature about that as well.

An investigatory committee was created to look into whether or not they could impeach a senator. An odd note about this was that nobody mentioned who the Senator was. They just kept mentioning that "a senator" needs to be investigated. Go read the beginning of this blog and see which senator lost his voting rights.

They had to suspend a portion of the SGA bylaws to create the investigatory committee. That took a little while as they needed to get the wording right. The committee is chaired by Attorney General Miller and included "Senator Huminez" (They didn't say his/her first name and after looking at my notes I'm not sure if I wrote "Huminez" or "Humirez"), Celia Lavery, and the organizational rep for the Yearbook. I didn't catch her name, but it was some girl with a lip ring, which I thought was cool.*

*hot

They are constitutionally bound to have a finding before the senate within two weeks. So, they will have made a decision no later than the 10-16-13 meeting.

That's pretty much it for the meeting. If I missed anything or got anything wrong (like somebody's name), feel free to correct me or add anything to the discussion. As always, below is the end to every SGA blog: 

Here's my disclaimer: I import these blogs into Facebook. 

That gives me the option to "tag" people, sending them an e-mail notification. I tag people for two reasons - 1) if I mention you by name & 2) if I think you will find this interesting. If you are tagged and don't want to be, let me know. If I don't tag you & you'd like to be tagged in the future, let me know. 

There is a comment feature on this blog & I don't mind if you use it. It's cool to disagree, as long as it's kept civil. Anonymous comments are allowed, as long as it's relevant & mildly profanity free.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Episode 03: Jeff Harvey



Episode 03 of the podcast is up and running. In this week's edition, I speak with Princeton Times reporter Jeff Harvey. He is an Athens resident and Concord alum. Jeff is a pretty interesting guy; we've been Facebook friends for a few years and it was cool to interact with him via podcast interview.

Jeff graduated from Concord in 1986 (the year I was born). During his time at Concord he was a writer for The Concordian and also a member of the Student Government Association. We talk about the differences in those two organizations in the 1980s and today. 

We also talk about small-town journalism and its importance. I bring up the article I wrote for Muckrack, "Why small towns need advocacy journalism" and I ask Jeff if the Princeton Times is a strong advocate for important issues.

It's a nice conversation, check it out. There's a little bit of background noise, but it's hopefully not too distracting.

Links:

Princeton Times website

Princeton Times Facebook page

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

October

We're officially in October. Most people like October for the stereotypical reasons: fall weather, leggings, pumpkin-flavors, dead leaves, etc... My reason for liking October is kind of weird. I have an OCD thing about writing out the date. Take my birthday this year for instance, I can't write it as 8/18/13. It's not even. I have to write it as 08/18/13. I like October because it's the 10th month and it's naturally even.

I'm weird. A funny October story:

When I worked at Outback they would sell seasonal beers. Samuel Adams Octoberfest was a popular item. Since it's seasonal, there is no Octoberfest button. You would ring in a regular Sam Adams and and type "Octoberfest" into the special instruction area so the bartender would get you the proper beer. It was a really slow Monday evening one day last year and was kind of dull and boring. I went to ring in a beer and got the idea to have some fun: I typed "Cocktoberfest." I do dumb things to entertain myself. People there seemed to think it was funny.

* * *

In a weird conundrum of sorts, I'm both more motivated than I've been in years and not motivated to do anything at all. I'm motivated to do things that I don't necessarily have to do. Recording a podcast at this point in life helps me in no way. It's just an extra hassle I'm putting on myself. But I like it and where it can take me. So, that's a new priority for myself.

I've been doing some more writing. I've established a relationship with Muckrack, a journalism networking site. They posted an article I wrote about why advocacy journalism is important for small towns. It's about how small-town newspapers need to report on important issues and not just fun "fluff" pieces. I wonder where I got the inspiration for that?

For those who don't get my snark: The Princeton Times. But, Chris, don't ruin a potential networking opportunity with an ill-timed comment. They haven't responded to my emails in nearly 2 years; I'd say the networking is done there.

Their loss. I was once told I was too cocky for my own good. That was years ago, back when I had a reason to be cocky; back when I was on my way to becoming somebody. I've just sort of been a shell of myself for a couple years now. My life was on the downswing for way too long. For the last couple days at least I've started feeling better about myself. Will this good feeling last? Honestly, I'd say not. For the moment now I've back to my old self. I'd call it "mentally healthy." I'm that right now.

* * *

Months ago I expressed my interest in getting a Nintendo 64 and reliving my childhood through video games. I wrote at the time that I couldn't jump into modern-day gaming because I'd get too immersed into it and become a "gamer" again. I did get my N64 about a month ago. It's a nice trip down memory lane.

* * *

My hair's long enough to put in a ponytail now. It might be time for a haircut. I don't know. We'll see.

* * *

Unfriended a girl on Facebook for the way she asked about the government shutdown. I can't stand people sometimes. Another girl wrote "Is the government shutdown for real? lol" I don't even know how to express my frustration with the inability of people to keep up with the news.

And not even to become experts. I'm not a political expert. I can't go into in-depth detail about what's going on in Washington right now. But, I know why there is a government shutdown and how that affects me. That's all I want people to know.

You're posting on Facebook. That means you're on a computer or smartphone. The news is right there. You don't even have to put quarters into a newspaper dispenser. 

I'm not endorsing Jon Stewart; he at times has become a parody of himself and it's turned me off of him. But his take on what caused this from a couple days ago is a pretty fair assessment. Click here to check that out.

* * *

That's it for now. I'll come back with something more meaningful (or not) in the future. Podcast 03 should be up in a couple days. I went to the 10-02-13 meeting of the SGA, so I'll have a summary of that written soon.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Episode 02: customer service



Episode 02 of the podcast. I start off talking about why I haven't been at the last two meetings of Concord University's Student Government Association. A trip to Sheetz inspired the topic of this episode - customer service. I talk about a few times I dealt with angry customers and how we should conduct ourselves in those situations.

As I mentioned in the last blog, I'm still learning how to do all of this. The presentation looks a little better this time. One thing I'm realizing is that microphones are meant to pick up sound. So, at random times throughout the podcast you can hear me clicking a pen and scratching my beard. I'll work on that for future podcasts.

Let me know what you think. I'd like to start getting some feedback to see if this is something even worth doing.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Norm Macdonald Clip of the Week



Late 1998 clip from the "Dennis Miller Live" show features Norm Macdonald and David Spade as the guests. Norm rips on Bob Dole recently coming out as a spokesman for Viagra. He also talks about homosexuality and his views on the "gay community." Might be some outdated views, but it's still pretty funny. At the end, they also bring up the rumors of why he was fired from SNL.

As a warning, the clip contains some salty language as the kids say. Hashtag NSFW.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Episode 01: Introduction



Here it is, episode 01 of my podcast. It's an introductory piece that basically explains who I am and what I want to do with podcasting. I'm a 27-year-old who is still trying to graduate from college and working a job I hate. That's affected how I operate as a person and I discuss that a little bit. I talk about why I love journalism and why it's important. And I finish up with talking about what I plan to do with all of this.

I mention in the early seconds that I'm referring to episode 01 as the "practice-cast" and that's very true. I'm still figuring out all of this. There are a lot of ways that one can do a podcast. What looks to be the easiest option for me at the moment is to basically make it a YouTube video. I'm still figuring out video editing stuff and whatnot. And I'm still figuring out how to use my computer; the ChromeBook is very picky about what programs and stuff I'm allowed to use. It's all a work in progress. It will get better.

Give it a listen and let me know what you think. Ideas are swirling in my head for future podcasts. I'll share those when the time comes.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Norm Macdonald Clip of the Week



Norm Macdonald is one of my favorite entertainers of all time. He's so awkwardly funny and that's why I love him so much. Instead of looking for a punchline somewhere, he'll often trail off and go nowhere but he does it in a hilarious way.

The "Weekend Update" segment on Saturday Night Live is a parody of evening newscasts and cable news. During Norm Macdonald's mid-to-late '90s stint as "Weekend Update" host, he was a parody of a comedian doing a parody of a newscaster. He would regularly make fun of Michael Jackson and OJ Simpson (famously saying after OJ was found innocent - "This just in: murder is now legal in California!")

He was rather infamously fired from Saturday Night Live in December 1997. Nobody is really sure why, but most seem to believe it had something to do with the head of NBC at the time, Don Ohlmeyer, being friends with OJ Simpson.

But we'll get to that at another time. Until then, enjoy this clip of Norm Macdonald on the David Letterman show circa 1998 telling a story of staying at a bed & breakfast in Canada and playing Scrabble. Yeah, he can make that funny.