Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Fluorescent Adolescent



"The best you ever had ... Is just a memory, and those dreams ... Weren't as daft as they seem"

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Episode 12: Darkness Remains



Episode 12 of the podcast. Darkness Remains? If you don't know, you will. They were a fairly big local metal band in Princeton, WV from 2002 until 2006. I talk to two of the former members, John Fralick (vocals & guitar) and Bob Chapman (guitar).

The Darkness Remains interview closes out the podcast. Before we get to those two, here's what I discuss:

- Facebook posts that make me angry. I tell a story involving Scott Noble and then discuss why I dislike those "Pay It Forward Initiative" posts.

- The Royal Rumble backlash concerning Daniel Bryan and Batista is brought up. I compare Daniel Bryan in 2013 & 2014 to "Stone Cold" Steve Austin in 1997 & 1998. That segues to the announcement of the WWE Network and I discuss why it is a great idea to purchase the network.

- Talk about McDonalds selling a burger topped with Fritos. With Fritos! From there, I talk about a story idea I have for a local newspaper or magazine. What is that story idea that involves food? You'll have to listen to find out.

- Twitter account of the week is @writerporn. Fun collection of articles. I read some bits and pieces of one called The Most Wonderfully Wistful Winnie-the-Pooh Quotes. Check that twitter account out. Good times.

- Podcast ends with the Darkness Remains interview. Click here to listen to the song that we heard during the interview. You can click the links to listen to their first album, To Touch The Depths Of Sorrow and their second album, Lamia.

- I mention a Modest Mouse song at one point in the podcast. Click here to hear it. 

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

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Some quick professional wrestling thoughts

The Royal Rumble is this Sunday, January 26, live from Pittsburgh. I actually attended the very first WWE event held in that arena, the Consol Energy Center. They held a SmackDown! live event shortly after Christmas in 2010. I had a ridiculous mohawk that I kept for a couple weeks. It was a cool event. Edge was in the main event. This was a couple months before he had to retire due to neck injuries, probably one of the most emotional moments ever in wrestling.

A couple quick thoughts on the Royal Rumble...

* * *

I wrote a blog looking at some potential surprise returns. It's gotten a lot of comments over on Facebook. So, go over there to follow that discussion if you'd like.

With the pay-per-view being tomorrow, a little bit more information has leaked out about potential surprise entrants. Two names are heavily rumored: 2 Cold Scorpio and Jimmy Yang. Not really big names, per se, but both can still go. 

What I've read is that 2 Cold Scorpio (also known as Flash Funk briefly in WWE) would be brought in as sort of a history lesson to educate the audience on ECW, with the impending launch of the WWE Network. 

Jimmy Yang has had a good relationship with WWE for years, is good friends with the returning Batista, and was photographed backstage at Raw last week.

According to one of the most reputable wrestling sites around, PWInsider dot com, apparently Kevin Nash has been spotted at the hotel the other WWE superstars are staying in. So, he's either in town visiting or he might be making a surprise appearance.

* * *

Another guy in town visiting is Chris Jericho. He had an autograph signing session earlier today in Pittsburgh. So, he's in town. It's been known for about a month that Jericho was doing the appearance. And Jericho knows that people know. He tweeted the following earlier today:

He's been known to use social media to try and stir up a frenzy, especially when it relates to his relationship with WWE. He is constantly denying that he will ever return, even though nobody believes him.

I actually don't want Chris Jericho to return in the Royal Rumble. There's only one reason for that - he did it last year. The 2013 Royal Rumble saw Chris Jericho enter at number 2, stay in the match for over 40 minutes, then go on to have one of the best 6-month runs of his career. 

Jericho isn't one to repeat himself. He's a master of reinventing himself. His 1999 debut and 2007 re-debut had amazing long monologues. So, when he was ready for his 3rd entrance in 2012, he came out and mugged for the cameras then left without saying a word.

If Jericho's ready to come back to WWE for a full-time run like he's done the last couple years, I think he will do something creative. I'd personally like to see him run in and disrupt the John Cena vs Randy Orton match. But, if Jericho's schedule is busy and he won't be coming back to WWE, I guess we could see a one-off Rumble appearance.

* * *

This year's Royal Rumble looks to be a pretty predictable match, much like John Cena winning last year. It appears as though Batista will win (again, as his first victory was in 2005) and headline WrestleMania XXX against Randy Orton.

*yawn*

There are two scenarios that I'd like to see. Both are very logical and could be good. In the weeks leading up to his return, Batista was embroiled in a little mini feud with Alberto Del Rio. He was saying he would eliminate Batista from the Rumble and win it. Batista made his return last Monday and quickly put the beatdown on Del Rio, effectively ending their feud.

With Batista getting the upper hand on Monday, the only logical thing now is for Batista to get his Royal Rumble return spoiled by Del Rio. Batista doesn't need the World Title. He's Batista - people will watch him just because of who he is.

Build Batista vs Del Rio for two months - Boom! High-profile WrestleMania match. We used Batista's big name status to give Del Rio the bump.

Daniel Bryan needs to win the Royal Rumble. The problem with that is that it looks like he won't be entered into the match. 

Let's take a look at his path to the Royal Rumble:

Daniel Bryan won the WWE Championship from John Cena. Randy Orton cheated Bryan out of the belt. For three pay-per-view events, Daniel Bryan was cheated out of the championship by Orton. The only reason he stopped chasing Orton was to deal with Bray Wyatt. That feud is coming to an end at the Royal Rumble. 

Bryan needs to defeat Wyatt in their match at the pay-per-view, then enter the Rumble match and win, setting up the blow-off match against Randy Orton at WM XXX.

The fans are ready for Daniel Bryan to be the biggest superstar in wrestling. It's up to WWE to make him credible. He has the support. Just look below for proof.

* * *

Quick links to plug:

Awesome Daniel Bryan radio appearance talking about his popularity

CM Punk interview talking lots of "inside" stuff, including wanting to induct The Ultimate Warrior into the WWE HOF, whether he will sign a new contract in 6 months, and the "Michelle Beadle incident"

Is The Ultimate Warrior Deserving Of The WWE Hall of Fame ... piece I wrote for the Camel Clutch blog

Episode 11 of my podcast ... I talk about the 30 year anniversary of Hulk Hogan's WWE Championship victory & potential WM XXX plans

My book ... Why not? There's one wrestling-related story in there, so it's relevant

Friday, January 24, 2014

Episode 11: Football & Katy Perry



Again, the snow ruins everything. The plan for episode 11 had been to interview noted Appalachian poet and author Crystal Good about the Charleston water issues. As I explain in the opening minutes, the crazy snow and negative temperatures disrupted our plans. We're working on rescheduling.

A few things I talk about in this week's podcast:

- My friend Justin Edens being in town from his Navy duties.

- The Super Bowl and some thoughts on Peyton Manning.

- Thoughts on blind loyalty people have to sports teams, especially WVU.

- 30th anniversary of Hulk Hogan's 1st WWE Championship victory.

- Katy Perry's GQ cover story & TIME Magazine's reaction to it.

- My thoughts on girls who wear too much makeup.

And a little bit more stuff here and there. The twitter account of the week I mention is @NarrativelyNY. Check them out if you'd like. 

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

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Potential surprise Royal Rumble entrants

One word perfectly sums up the annual January pay-per-view event known as the Royal Rumble: fun. It’s just a fun match. Two men start, another randomly-selected competitor comes out every 90 seconds; the chaos leads to fun. In addition to the chaos of all those men (and the occasional woman) trying to throw each other over the top rope, we have an added element in the surprise entrant. 

Some are really cool. The 1997 Mexican invasion was fun from a high-flying perspective. Some are a little odd. You’re a liar if you say you weren’t confused seeing Dick Murdoch in the 1995 Rumble match. And, of course, the perfect return was Chris Jericho last year. There are many more. A fun idea for somebody to explore (which WWE already did on their site) would be to look at the top Royal Rumble surprise entrants. 

What we’re going to look at here is a list of potential returns this Sunday. With the exception of one, I feel like all of these are possible and logical (the one would just be fun to fantasy book). We’ll look at how popular the return would be, how the superstar would fare in the match, and if it could lead to anything in the future. 

Jake Roberts … This is the big one that everybody is talking about. Since getting his life back together, Roberts mentioned that one of his goals was to return to WWE at the Rumble match. He’s in great shape when you consider what shape he has been in for the last 20 years. People want to see it. Not sure if WWE does or not. The only thing stopping this one would be that WWE gave Roberts a potential sendoff on “Old School” Raw a few weeks back. A Rumble spot would receive a huge reaction for Roberts. The crowd would love it. I watched a 6-man tag that Roberts was in over a month ago. While he didn’t take many bumps, he moved well enough that he could function in the over-the-top-rope environment. One last run for the Snake? Ehhhhh… maybe not, but I’d like to see some more one-off appearances. 

Diamond Dallas Page … The man responsible for getting Jake Roberts back in such good shape is in amazing shape himself. The "DDP Yoga" guru is incredibly flexible for a 56-year-old grizzled ring warrior. He’s got a great relationship with WWE these days, based on his hosting of the “Best of Nitro” DVD sets and his recent cameo appearances. Imagine the pop if DDP came out in the middle of the match and hit a string of 5 or 6 Diamond Cutters. Imagine the bump Dolph Ziggler would take! Diamond Cutter to Ziggler, throw him over the top, rematch the next night on Raw, Ziggler gets his heat back. How cool would that be? 

Scott Hall … This would all depend on Hall getting medically cleared by WWE. His mental health is so much better. He’s a breath of fresh air on twitter, regularly interacting with fans and basically being the opposite of that old, alcoholic mess from the ESPN documentary. He’s on good terms with all the necessary people to bring him in. Like Jake, it would be a feel-good moment. Overcoming the demons. WWE likes to put smiles on peoples faces. In an added twist, maybe WWE could have Jake eliminate Hall. Remember, you can never trust a snake. 

Roddy PiperPiper, probably much to WWE’s chagrin, has pretty much confirmed that he will be involved somehow in WrestleMania XXX. What better way to get there than during the official kickoff to WrestleMania season? The storyline motivation can be there. He wasn’t able to beat Hulk Hogan 30 years ago to win the WWE Championship, so he’s entering the Royal Rumble for one last shot at glory. He doesn’t win, gets angry about it, yada yada yada, WrestleMania XXX. 

Hulk Hogan … We have to reintroduce this man to the WWE Universe somehow, right? They’ll need to clean up dust and concrete fragments, because the roof will explode when Hogan comes out. Imagine the buzz! If “Royal Rumble” isn’t already trending on twitter, it will be as soon as Hogan’s red and yellow tie dye makes an appearance. Everybody’s talking about Roman Reigns getting the monster push in this year’s match. It doesn’t get much bigger than eliminating the Hulkster

Triple H … “The Authority” wants what’s best for business. The way things are looking, it would appear as though CM Punk is not best for business. We know Punk drew the number one slot in the Rumble. They did that so Punk would not last long. What if Punk is going the distance, eliminating everybody around him. Triple H has the power to throw himself in the match with no notice. He tells Zack Ryder he’s taking his spot and runs out to the ring to correct this “miscarriage of justice,” to steal a Gorilla Monsoon phrase. We need a reason to get to Triple H vs CM Punk at WrestleMania. This could be the catalyst. 

Shane Douglas … Stranger things have happened. The Rumble is in Pittsburgh, Shane’s hometown. I think that would be enough to give him a huge nostalgia pop. Why does Shane Douglas want to be in the Royal Rumble? He wants to prove the WWE machine wrong for not letting him become a star in the mid 90s. He wants to stick it you-know-where and win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship to silence the critics. And twitter would explode. That’s always fun. 

Jeff Jarrett … Talk about twitter exploding! Could you imagine JBL’s shock? “Mack-uhl, what’s Double J doing here? Ahhhh love it!” I think it’s sad that I actually think this has a better chance of happening than an AJ Styles appearance. At least Vince knows how Jarrett is. And yeah, he definitely knows who Jarrett is, which is why this is a long shot to happen. But, it would be cool. You might as well get a relationship going with Jarrett again. With the WWE Network coming up, he would be a good interview for several different subjects and shows. The Monday Night War(s) show would be a good one. He went back and forth a few times. 

X-Pac … This one is mostly just for me. I’ve never understood the “X-Pac Heat” term, for the simple reason that Sean Waltman has been one of my favorite wrestlers for at least 15 years. Maybe because I’m short and I appreciated that he was a little man doing his thing in the world of giants. I don’t know. He’s one of those odd young veterans, wrestling for over 20 years but only being in his early 40s. He’s still young enough to go and the audience knows who he is. I’m actually surprised he hasn’t come back at this point for more than just a random cameo here. I don’t know if that’s related to his health issues that forced him to stop wrestling in TNA almost four years ago. 

Bruno Sammartino … No way this is happening. But it would be a trip, right? He’s the hometown hero, so it’s not like Bruno would have to travel far. And he’s still in remarkable shape for being over 70. The story tells itself: Bruno is tired of the corrupt Authority and the shameful Randy Orton holding the championship. If John Cena can’t get the job done, then Bruno will have to come back and do it himself. No way that will ever happen, but a wrestling fan can dream.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Podcast Index

The first 10 episodes of my podcast, neatly organized for your listening pleasure. It has taken me a while to get things figured out with what I'm trying to accomplish through this endeavor and how I'm doing that. It's still very much a work in progress, but I think I have a much better idea of what I'm doing here in the present and future.

If you haven't checked them out yet, give one or two a listen and decide if this is something you want to come along on the ride for. The shortest one in length is about 13 minutes and the longest is a little over an hour. I want to try and shoot for around half-hour, 40 minutes. Most podcasts are roughly an hour, but as I explain in episode 01, I feel like that's asking too much of a commitment. If the topic is interesting and informative, I won't set a time limit, but I don't really want to go much past 40 minutes.

As of right now, this is a weekly podcast. Looking into the possibility of doing two podcasts per week; one mostly me & one interviewing somebody else. Steve Austin does it, why can't I? We'll see what happens in that regard. I'll keep everybody updated.

To conclude: things are really looking good for the future of the podcast and I'm excited about watching it grow and prosper.

Episode 01: Introduction ... Referred to as the "practice-cast," I explain who I am and why I want to do this

Episode 02: customer service ... Talk about customer complaints I have received over the years of working in minimum wage jobs

Episode 03: Jeff Harvey ... An interview with a Princeton Times reporter about journalism in a small town, his time at Concord University (including what the Student Government & Concordian were like nearly 30 years ago), and more

Episode 04: Celia Laverty ... Concord University's main campus is located in Athens, but they also have a campus in Beckley and I speak with possibly the most-well-known Beckley student about it

Episode 05: Words and Whatever ... I explain my long absence from the podcast, discuss the death of a longtime Concord professor & talk about my favorite (and worst) professor, and get into the foibles of language

Episode 06: Ashley Green ... Took a trip to California to see my girlfriend; while there, we talk about the differences between WV & Cali, what makes a relationship work, and LGBT issues

Episode 07: B-Sides & Snow ... I published my first book, "B-Sides: rarities and unreleased works, vol. 01" and give background on that, in addition to mentioning one of my least favorite things: snow

Episode 08: Duck Dynasty & Santa ... The recent "anti-gay" comments by a Duck Dynasty star got him into a lot of hot water; I look through Facebook to see what people are saying about it (good and bad), and I also talk about some Santa-related issues in the news

Episode 09: Ashley Green, again ... Ashley was not supposed to be a guest again so soon; the plan had been to record an interview and use it a few weeks later, but the scheduled episode 09 guest had to back out so Ashley and I talk about the serving industry & social media etiquette.

Episode 10: Princeton Renaissance Project ... I speak with Lori McKinney, one of the heads of the PRP about how this came about, why it's important, what they've done and what they will do in the future

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Mae Young (1923-2014)



Mae Young, one of the pioneering female wrestlers, died the other day at 90-years-old. Based on the first half of her career alone, Mae was one of the greats. But what she's remembered the most for these days is the second half of her career. Her wrestling career was amazing, but her "sports entertainment" career was even better. The amazing thing is that the second stage of her career didn't begin until she was in her 70s.

She was more than just a comedy character. She was a tough wrestler, taking bumps that most male superstars would be hesitant to take. She was an adept, multi-faceted performer who put the business first. The video above illustrates that. If you're important enough for WWE to give you a 90th birthday celebration live on Monday Night Raw, then you're important enough to ask WWE to make that moment just about you. But, she didn't. The moment is about Mae Young, but it helped get CM Punk over as a heel. Even on her 90th birthday, Mae Young is putting people over and helping the business.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Episode 10: Princeton Renaissance Project


For episode 10 of the podcast, I sit down with Lori McKinney, one of the driving forces behind the Princeton Renaissance Project. The goal of this project is to revitalize the downtown Princeton area and Mercer Street. For years, that area has been overrun with what we referred to in the podcast as "shady activity," but it could also be known as drugs and prostitutes.

We had a nice chat about a number of topics. Some highlights are below. 

How Princeton Renaissance Project came about:

Lori: I'd been doing a lot of community development work and Greg Puckett from Community Connections had always been very supportive of us and our work over the years, from letting us borrow projectors to helping us out with funding and organizing workshops for us to speak at.

Lori: The timing was just perfect. I ended up teaming up with him and the Blueprint Communities Program brought together the new city manager and the mayor of Princeton and the chamber of commerce and all these wonderful partners that we'd always sort of collaborated with but never really sat down at the table to design a plan and work on it together. That's how the Princeton Renaissance Project was born. 

* * *

Chris: I don't want to get off to a negative start here, but we do need to talk about the Why. Why we needed a Princeton Renaissance Project. Spoiler alert: there is a happy ending at the end of it all. Mercer Street had kind of a negative connotation, at least to long-term residents. Why exactly was that and what were some of the problems? 

Lori: It was stigmatized. It was pretty much abandoned when the malls came about. It's not unique to our area. It happens all over the country; all over the world, really. The downtown just, pretty much, it was like a vacuum when the malls came about. So, there were tons of abandoned store fronts and the negative, sort of shady activity pretty much took over. 

Lori: Princeton used to be booming. Like, this was boom town. There was elbow-to-elbow traffic and people remember a time when this was the place to be. It was just absolutely poppin' down here. So, people have really nostalgic memories. 

* * *

Murals and paintings on the walls of Mercer Street:

Lori: For years and years, all of us artists have wanted to paint the town. We've wanted to do murals for a really long time ... It took a really long time; it was like a wild goose chase. We had to run around town and ask 10,000 questions. Every time we thought it was going to be the end of the line, there was just another door that opened that we had to walk through. All these papers, and all these zoning hearings and permission slips and liability forms and blah blah blah. It took about a year and a half to get all the paperwork. 

Chris: The one that Patch Whiskey did, that's the one with the big purple and green designs, right? 

Lori: It's his signature style. His monsters are called 'Winkles.' And it's extremely vibrant. The two walls, they line the lot where the building was demolished; it was burnt and then torn down. On that lot, there's going to be a community garden that goes up this Spring. 

Chris: For those who don't know, that eyesore was, I believe, a gun store. There was that big zoning thing about "Are we gonna get rid of it?" and then it burnt down. I think that was the one where somebody was murdered back behind there. 

Lori: Yeah, it was really really shady. And, honestly, when it caught on fire my first reaction was like, "That is exactly what needed to happen." The energy just needed to burn away. It was a very dark and sad story. A woman, just totally lost. That woman represented so many people that you see. Not just on Mercer Street, on Quail Valley and Thorn. Everywhere, it's not specific just to Mercer Street. Unfortunately, it's the one that gets talked about the most.  

Chris: I like, too, that they kind of kept up some of the wreckage - the brick walls that are kind of torn down - so you can kind of see what was there.

* * *

We talk about all that and more:

- Who is involved in the Renaissance Project and how it all came together. 

- Renovation to the theater on Mercer Street and the ultimate goal with that. 

- That "Christmas Tree Miracle" movie that everybody was talking about on Facebook for a little bit is brought up. 

- How the New Years Eve ball drop celebration came about.

- Short term goals for the next few months.

- Long term goals for the Princeton Renaissance Project.

* * *

For more information, check out:

Princeton Renaissance Project website

Princeton Renaissance Project facebook

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Top 10 Blogs of 2013

The beginning of the year is always time for reflection on the last one. With that, here's a quick rundown of what I thought were my Top 10 blogs I wrote last year. There's no real ranking from 1-10, they're just listed from earliest to latest. If you'd like to throw some comments out there about them, feel free to.

Walt, one year later ... Looking back at a fallen friend

Keep it on the Up High ... Story behind one of my tattoos

Observations from March 8 ... A good day in 2013 and 2002

I'm unemployed ... Got fired from a job I hated

Top 25 Beatles songs ... My thoughts at that moment on 25 Beatles songs

Articles in The Concordian written about me ... I was popular for a week at Concord

Why I gave up on the SGA ... When I realized the most powerful student group at Concord was worthless

My look at the #TKE formal ... Attended a fraternity event & felt very out of place

DVD Review: 7 seasons of Boy Meets World ... I watched a lot of Boy Meets World

Chris Slater's first book has been published ... Wrote a book and felt like telling people

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Metal: Not the Bluefield Daily Telegraph's strong suit



The best kind of comedy is the kind where you hear it and laugh, then it makes you think. The following probably won't make the majority of people think, but for all the journalists out there, this Hannibal Buress bit should make you take heed. It should be your goal to never write an article so bad that a comedian will make fun of it in his act (apparently for over 2 years).

What got me thinking about this today was an article I read in the Bluefield Daily Telegraph. It is written by veteran reporter Bill Archer and looks at a local metal band, Helgardh, whose members are releasing their first major album. Click here to read it.

I'm not an expert on metal music by any means. I began listening to metal in 2006, when I worked with some "metal heads" and they exposed me to the genre. I like it enough to say that I like it. I occasionally go to some of the local metal shows around here if I can; usually if a friend of mine is playing in one of the bands. 

From reading the article, my first thought was that Bill Archer had no clue about metal music. And, that's not really his fault. I covered a gun safety show once for the Princeton Times. I had no clue what was going on, but I followed the KISS rule - Keep it simple, stupid. The big irony here being that Bill Archer is also a musician. Granted, a bluegrass musician, but still. 

I posted a link to the article on my Facebook page with one real question: was their album truly going "national," as the article stated or was it just a small album released locally like a lot of bands here do. A Facebook friend from my Concord days commented and linked the lead singer, Josh Crouse. Crouse commented on the link and said, "The album is being released to most major retailers through Alliance Entertainment in North America and Sony Music Entertainment in Europe. Like Bill said, we have recorded a few albums, but this is the first big release."

Crouse then posted the link to his Facebook page with the following comment: "It's full of misquotes and spelling errors, but the Bluefield Daily Telegraph interviewed me recently about the band's tours and upcoming release."

When asked what the errors in the article were, Crouse replied: 

Never lived in Falls Mills in my entire life, never played Motley Crue songs as a band (which was misspelled), although we've played for several hundred before, we've never played for 800 to a thousand. They asked how big the venues we play at usually are, and I said that we have played at some venues where the max capacity is that, but even said they weren't at full capacity while we were there. They also misspelled Brett's name and have him Adam's stage name.

So, there's that. I told Crouse I'd like to have him on the podcast at some point. He said that would be cool. So, we'll do that at some point in the future. Preview: the next podcast will be an interview with a representative from the Princeton Renaissance Project.

Bill Archer is usually on top of his game. I guess this was just a case of either not trying hard enough to understand something or possibly trying too hard to understand something. Lesson to learn here: when you want to write something, try to make sure that somebody won't be able to get laughs by reading it in front of a crowd.

[I tried to look for some links to some good Helgardh songs for people to listen to. I'm not familiar with the band, so I don't really know what their best work is. If anybody reading wants to throw out some tracks that people should check out, feel free.]

Saturday, January 11, 2014

The butterfly effect

I've always been intrigued by the idea of the "Butterfly Effect," this idea that something as simple as a butterfly can change the course of your life; that all of the reactions are correlated to your actions. That idea is showcased in the video below, set to the awesome Red Hot Chili Peppers song "Whatever We Want," a b-side from their "Stadium Arcadium" album.

This is very evident in a broad sense. Clearly, if I had stayed home one night in October instead of going out, I wouldn't have gotten a DUI. Read my book for more information on that. There are smaller events that I often think about and wonder if they would have changed the course of my life in some way.

There was a kid in kindergarten that was a bully to me on the school bus. He was in a different class, but we rode the bus together and he was mean. I don't remember specific stuff he did; whatever one 5-year-old does to another 5-year-old. I told my teacher, but I didn't know the kid's name or anything at the time. There was a girl in the class who rode the bus with me and knew him. She told the teacher and somehow it ended up with me and my teacher in that kid's classroom. She told me to point out who was being mean to me. I looked at that kid and I was scared of him. I told the teacher that he wasn't in the room.

I had my moment to put this bully in his place and I chickened out. I've always been a little bit of a wuss when it comes to standing up for myself in the years that have passed. I've never been in a physical fight and I try to avoid most face-to-face awkwardness. What if standing up to this kid (Aaron) had empowered me to where I continued doing things like that for the rest of my life? Maybe doing that would have led to some fights in my life, which then could have led to me working out to increase muscle mass, which could have led to me becoming an athlete of some sort. Or, something different.

That one moment in 1991 could have changed my entire life. I did one action and my life went one way. But, what if I had done something else?

Friday, January 10, 2014

Arlandria



Angst. For a number of reasons. Never goes away. Never gets better. Always there. Always there. Always there.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Episode 09: Ashley Green, again


Had a guest back out of the podcast and needed to fill a vacancy. Ashley Green was just sitting around my apartment, so why not get her back on the podcast for round two? Her interview on episode 06 was very fun. 

We get an update on her life in California and her exploits in grad school. We spend the majority of our conversation talking about the serving industry and tipping. We also talk about social media, what we use it for, and what we shouldn't use it for. We conclude by talking about what makes a relationship successful. A partial transcript of some of the good stuff is below: 

Chris: We are in the midst of what the meteorologists are calling a "polar vortex." Cold air is coming down from somewhere and making things miserable. Checked the weather and it is negative six degrees right now. And, I’m sure with wind chill it feels like negative 206. That's how that works, right? 

Chris: Keep your pets indoors tonight. Unless they chew on the furniture. 

Ashley: That is so mean! 

Chris: No, it's not. 

* * *

Chris: You live in San Diego, correct?

Ashley: Yes, where it is currently in the '50s right now.

Chris: In the normal hours, we’re doing this a little late, in the normal hours, it was like 70 degrees.

Ashley: Yeah, in the middle of the day, it was like 73 degrees. So, I'm kind of ready to go back to that.

Chris: It has cooled down a little bit as the evening progressed. It was negative 2 earlier. We're down to negative 6. I hate my life so much right now.

* * *

Chris: Two dollars and thirteen cents, plus tips. Can you live off of that?

Ashley: It depends on what people are tipping. Whenever I lived in West Virginia, and my half of rent was roughly $230-ish a month, yes I could live off of that because I was at a decently-busy restaurant. I think I was a good server; I usually made 15-20 percent of my sales in tips, which is in this area what you’re shooting for. In other areas, you're hopefully getting 20-25 percent.


Chris: This happened to me once, I'm gonna ask you your thought on this. If you have a rude table. I don’t want to say they were mean; they were all really drunk. Would you rather get a tip for zero dollars or - like they did with me - and leave me a tip of 32 cents?

Ashley: [deep sigh]

Chris: 32 is more than zero, if you look at it that way.

* * *

Chris: Why do you have a Facebook, a Twitter, a whatever-else-you-have?

Ashley: Well, I started using Twitter to talk to you. I guess, especially where I'm not somebody staying in the same area, I'm originally from Dallas and lived in West Virginia for six years and now I live in San Diego. So, I use Facebook to stay connected to people that I do not live near anymore.

Chris: What I use social media for…

Ashley: To promote your book and your podcast.

Chris: To promote my brand.

Ashley: Your brand?

Chris: Yes. I’m Chris Slater, comma small-town, multimedia journalist. Podcast. Blogs. The tweets. Etcetera, etcetera, whatever else I’m getting into.

* * *

Chris: I have a lot of Facebook friends, but I don't like them. I do this very passive-aggressive thing; I don't unfriend people. I block them, but I block them in a way that they don't know.

Ashley: So hostile.

Chris: I look at Facebook like "I need these people, I feel like they’re kind of 'important.'" Air quotes around "important." So, I need to tag them in a blog so that their friend will see it, so that they will see it. But, then they have a status like "OMG, just ate candy for dinner. I'm such an adult." And I roll my eyes and say, "I don't want to see you ever again." Well, here's what irks me about it. It's okay that they eat candy for dinner. But 54 of their friends liked it. "Oh, ha ha ha, you're so witty!" Ugh, no you're not. Blocking you forever.

Ashley: You're so mean.

Chris: Some of my journalist friends, one of my journalist friends, his Facebook feed is nothing but right-wing, Republican propaganda crap that I hate. And not even like sensible stuff. Just like those meme pictures of like Obama and "something-something-something, and this proves he's a Socialist. I don't think he’s from America." Whatever. And I'm like, "Okay, I need you because you can help me succeed in life. But I don’t want to see anything that you do. So, you’re disappearing."

Ashley: So much hostility. 

* * *

Chris: I've noticed this trend on the Facebook: babies have Facebook accounts. And their moms are posting things saying, "I've made a Facebook account for little Henry. And I'm gonna post pictures of him throughout his life. And then when he hits a certain age, I'm going to give him the password and that's going to be his Facebook."

Ashley: Yeah, I know a few of those. My cousin has a Facebook for her daughter.

Chris: So, she is going to grow up and they'll say, "Remember life before Facebook?" And she's gonna be like, "No, there was no life before Facebook."

* * *

Chris: What's the key component to make a relationship work? Let's see if we say the same thing.

Ashley: I don't know, I think trust?

Chris: Oh, look at us! We got it right! One day you'll learn to trust me.

Ashley: I do trust you! Do you trust me?

Chris: I will learn to, through time.

Ashley: What's sad is that everyone thinks that I'm the one in the relationship that isn't trustworthy. Whenever I was at my old job earlier, one of the girls that I was close friends with out of the people that I worked with, she asked how things were going with us. And then she asked if I had been faithful the whole time [laughs]. I said yes, and she said, "Oh, I'm so proud of you!" I was just like, "Why does nobody think I can make this work?"

* * *

All of that and much more. I talk about the differences between trying to get my first girlfriend, Kelly, at age 15 (before Facebook) and hooking up with Ashley (in the current social media world).

How much information is too much? Is social media a representation of your life or a play-by-play? I talk about a woman who announced that her husband left her... but everything was fine the next week. If she had waited to post that, maybe we all wouldn't know that her marriage had cracks. And more examples.

* * * 

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

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Excerpt: "My Night In Jail," from "B-Sides: rarities and unreleased works, vol. 01"

From "B-Sides: rarities and unreleased works, vol. 01" (2013)

"My Night In Jail" (2013)

I'm a naturally anxious person. When I realized that older graduates from college were coming back in town for Homecoming, I got nervous. You see, I haven't graduated yet. At 27, I'm older than most of them, and it hurt me to see them come back for a nostalgia trip while this is still my life. So I avoided seeing them on campus. I felt horrible for seeing a familiar face and pretending like I didn't and walking the other way, but it's what I did. 

Friday night, I was feeling dejected about how I had acted earlier. A friend posted on Facebook that he would be at a local bar. A few others liked the status and I saw this as my opportunity to make amends for earlier. I would see people and interact with them, with the added bonus of a little "liquid courage" to help stifle any awkwardness. 

Long story short, I went to the bar and saw a couple people I knew. It was a decent-enough time. At around 2 am I walked back to my car. A friend wanted me to meet him at another bar closer to his house and mine. I started driving down the long, winding back road. I'm a naturally slow driver and I always get a little uncomfortable when people are behind me. I saw two or three cars behind me, so I sped up. That was a mistake. 

I see the police lights go on behind me. "Shit," I think to myself as I pull over into a conveniently-placed parking lot. My window doesn't roll down, so I crack my door open and explain that to the officer. He says it's okay. He adds, "I pulled you over because I noticed your registration was expired." I say okay and he walks away. Relief hits me, but it's short lived as I hear in the distance "I smell a strong odor." 

He asks me if I was drinking. I tell him I just left the bar. He asks where I'm going. The wrong answer is "another bar," so I tell him I'm going home. I make sure to tell him it's right down the road. 

He asks me to step out of the car. There are three other officers there, along with the guy who pulled me over. He talks to me for a minute before getting the breathalyzer gun and having me blow. It's a surprisingly light atmosphere, with the cops laughing and talking. One of the cops guesses that I'd blow a .09, which is above the legal .08 limit. I laugh and say, "I'm shooting for a .07." He laughs and I stop listening after I hear "Point One" come out of his mouth, because any number after that doesn't matter. I'm screwed. 

Or am I? He's talking to me and being cool, asking where I live. Another cop shines his light into my car and says he sees a bottle cap. The cop asks if I have beer in the car. I told him the truth - I didn't know how long I would be out and wanted to make sure I had beer in case I missed the 2 a.m. shutoff time. He told me he understood. That is, until he went over and saw that one was opened and emptied (presumably down my throat). "You've had a little too much to drink tonight," he begins. "I'm gonna need you to put your hands behind your back." 

Well, shit. Now I'm arrested.

* * *

Check out my book if you want to hear about my ride in the police car and what it's like to fall asleep in jail. The link is below. It's only $3.99 and can be downloaded to any Kindle tablet, or a Kindle app which is available on a computer or phone. 



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

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Top 10 wrestling DVDs of 2013

The following is by no means comprehensive. I did not watch every professional wrestling DVD that was produced by the major companies in 2013. I did watch a lot of them, though. And, what follows is a list of my 10 favorite. They are in order from my favorite to 10th favorite. The tally for who made what is as follows: WWE has 7 of 10. Ring of Honor has 2 of 10. And independent wrestler Adam Pearce has one.

1) Legends of Mid-South Wrestling ... Beginning with the acquisition of WCW in 2001, WWE has slowly been buying the tape libraries of past wrestling promotions for the last decade. The one people were looking forward to the most was the library that had been the hardest to get: Mid-South. It took most of the decade, but WWE finally got it and went to work putting out an excellent 3-disk set. Mid-South was run by Bill Watts and was credited with popularizing the idea of an episodic wrestling program, not just matches to get people to buy tickets like was the norm at the time. Mid-South gave several eventual hall of famers their first start: Jim Ross, Ted Dibiase, Jim Duggan, Junkyard Dog, Ernie Ladd, and a host of others. The DVD is a collection of matches, with interviews mixed between. In an interesting twist, for several of the matches, Jim Ross has dubbed over new commentary. WWE has done this in the past with certain matches, but they would make it like present-day, with the commentators talking about the historical context. With this set, JR commentates like the match is happening in present day. It's a refreshing twist. Definitely the best wrestling DVD of the year. I hope WWE does more with the Mid-South library.

2) 7 Levels of Hate ... Independently produced by former NWA World Champion Adam Pearce, this 2-disk set tells the tale of his years-long feud with Colt Cabana and how the NWA brass led to its creative and business undoing. Click here to read a more thorough review I wrote. This set is a great look into how wrestling businessmen can ruin a good piece of wrestling business.

3) ECW Unreleased, Vol. 02 ... Long considered one of the most influential wrestling promotions of all time, Extreme Championship Wrestling took the world by storm in the mid-90s, bring realism and high-energy to a wresting industry that desperately needed it. WWE has released a handful of best-selling ECW DVDs in the mid 2000s and briefly brought ECW back as a third brand. But, corporate wrestling america doesn't know how to recreate the magic that was ECW. The comeback experiment failed, but WWE realized that there was a great nostalgia market for EC-Dub, as they released volume 01 last year and part 02 this year. One would expect a third volume in 2014.

4) Bryan Danielson: World Champion ... The most popular WWE superstar right now lives in Ring of Honor lore as one of their greatest champions of all time. ROH has released several Danielson-themed compilations over the years, but this 2-disk set released a few months ago focuses on his year-plus reign as World Champion. Danielson in ROH was a harder-edged version of the WWE Daniel Bryan. He was no-nonsense, hard-as-nails, rough-as-they-come, [insert extra cliche], etc. But he was also entertaining, usually flipping off the fans when they tried to cheer for him, and loudly exclaiming "I have until 5!" when the referee would begin to count him out for breaking the rules. Long matches are the norm here, as Bryan Danielson exemplified the term Ric Flair famously coined 2 decades ago: "a 60-minute man."

5) The History of WWE: 50 Years of Sports Entertainment ... It seems hard to believe that WWE formed all the way back in 1963. That was when Vincent J. McMahon (the Vince that owns WWE now is his son, Vincent K.) broke away from the NWA governing body and created his World Wide Wrestling Federation. Over the fifty years, it became the World Wrestling Federation, then World Wrestling Entertainment, then WWE (the letters no longer stand for anything). This set is interesting in that it tells a more complete story than I thought it would. The early 90s steroid trial is discussed in detail for the first time, with several prominent wrestlers interviewed openly defending their steroid usage at the time. This set has a great selection of interviews, with nearly every major wrestling name you could imagine. The odd note was that Vince McMahon was not interviewed here. Disk 01 is the documentary, with 02 & 03 containing famous moments and matches from WWE history. 

6) Best of WWE At Madison Square Garden ... When wrestling was regional, WWE was the "New York Territory." MSG was their home base. They traveled to smaller towns in the surrounding NY/NJ/Pennsylvania area, but they saved their biggest moments and matches for MSG. Since going national and then global, WWE has continued the tradition of returning to MSG for big events. The 3 disk set breaks the company up into periods. Disk 01 is the 70s and early 80s. Disk 02 mid 80s and 90s. Disk 03 is the rest. The only real complaint with the DVD is that there is a real quality drop off on disk 03. They went to MSG less and less this last decade, and as a result there are less magical moments. If you're a wrestling historian, this set is great mostly for disk 01, which is one of the first times the 70s has been prominently featured on a WWE set. It is also the first DVD (aside from his HOF induction at WM29) that Bruno Sammartino has been interviewed on.

7) CM Punk: Icon ... ROH is the 2000s version of ECW; hard-hitting, rabid fan base, and also a breeding ground for future WWE talent. CM Punk, the fourth longest reigning WWE Champion of all time, got his start in ROH in the early 2000s. He is one of the few personalities this decade who has retained his name and has been largely the same character during his ROH to WWE transition. They have released sets based on Punk's early ROH career and also his famous 2005 "Summer of Punk." This one focuses on the second half of his ROH career between the previously mentioned. An added bonus is Punk's infamous 2006 one-night only return to ROH. Punk had signed with WWE but had yet to debut on television. He was backstage at a show in his hometown visiting. There was a freak snow storm and a large number of wrestlers did not make it. Punk made a series of phone calls to get clearance to wrestle that night and made his one-night-only return. His post-match promo is included as well, with Bryan Danielson ironically telling Punk that if he wants to get out the "entertainment business," he can always come back to the "wrestling business." Punk gets on the mic, says goodbye, then his DVD ends with him going outside and making a snow angel.

8) WrestleMania 29 ... Since its start in 1985, WrestleMania has always been the biggest event on the WWE calendar. For years, they built from one year to the next. In today's world, it's often harder to give something a year-long build, but most years they at least start seriously building toward April's WrestleMania event by December or January. This year's event featured WWE Champion The Rock dropping the strap and passing the torch (although he had already had the torch for the better part of a decade) to John Cena. That match was okay. CM Punk and The Undertaker had the match of the night, with "the deadman" extending his WrestleMania streak to 21-0. Triple H beat Brock Lesnar in a slugfest. The highlight of the WM29 DVD, though, is the full Hall of Fame induction ceremony. This year saw one of the most star-studded lineups ever, as Bruno Sammartino finally made peace with WWE after decades of estrangement and entered the HOF. In addition of Bruno, former WWE Champion Bob Backlund, Mick Foley, Booker T, Trish Stratus, and Donald Trump (in the celebrity wing).

9) For All Mankind - The Life and Career of Mick Foley ... Foley has had a few match compilations released over the years by WWE (and TNA), but this year saw the first retrospective documentary about his long career. Disk 01 features interviews by a nice cast of characters through Foley's career, including Foley himself, Vader, Shane Douglas, Triple H, Terry Funk and more as they talk about his early training, WCW starts and missteps, ECW revolution, WWE career, and also his writing and recent standup comedy career. Their are only two real flaws with this set: if you've read his books, you already have a more thorough idea of his career. The other voices included helps deal with that. The second issue is that the majority of Foley's career was filled with bloody brawls and WWE doesn't really show that anymore. They relaxed their rules for this DVD, airing some of his bloodiest matches, but the actual documentary is lacking a lot of blood, which hurts the final product.

10) Triple H: Thy Kingdom Come ... He started his WWE career as a snooty, aristocratic character going nowhere and over the last 15 years, has morphed into bad-ass midcard act, multiple-time World Champion, veteran locker room leader, and now corporate higher-up. For years, the known plan had been for Triple H and wife Stephanie McMahon to take over WWE after Vince steps down. That plan is now in effect, as they are slowly transitioning more and more power to Triple H. This DVD is a nice look at his career, with a lot of emphasis put on the difficulty he faced when he was simply a wrestler dating the boss' daughter. Mick Foley and Big Show have hilarious stories about their reactions when they found out. In a first (and hopefully not last), The Undertaker breaks character and is openly interviewed regarding his thoughts about Triple H. Since they have previously released a Triple H match-only compilation, his greatest hits are already out there, but disks 02 & 03 of this set have some good contests as well.

That's it for me. There were a lot more great DVD sets released that I haven't had a chance to look at yet. If you've watched any and want to add them to the comments section, either here or on Facebook, feel free.

Here's a list of the upcoming WWE DVD releases scheduled so far for 2014 through March. Looks like the beginning of a good year: http://www.wrestlingdvdnews.com/wwe-dvd-release-dates/