Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Unfinished Works: Beatles on iTunes



I wrote this in the fall of 2010, after it was announced that The Beatles would finally have their entire discography released on iTunes. At that point, they were one of the few bands who had not yet allowed their music to be released electronically.

It was seen as a big deal because... duh, they're The Beatles. They're the biggest band in the history of bands and their music was finally available on iTunes.

I wrote this during a break in my English 203 class. And by break, I mean while the professor talked and I didn't listen. For those who have listened to my podcasts, this certain English professor was noted as being the worst professor I ever had at Concord University.

Here's what I wrote:

Blog Beatles on iTunes

Intro
- When I first knew of The Beatles
     * Anthology of mid 90s
- When I first got into The Beatles
     * re-issue of Let It Be; 12th grade
- Simpsons "Be-Sharps" episode

Thoughts on Beatles now
- Influence
- My favorite albums/songs

What iTunes deal means
- not much for long-time fans
     * just released all albums last year
- for younger fans
     * first look @ band they otherwise wouldn't
     * helps Beatles remain relevant
     * opens door for other classic bands
        - "If they're good, what about ____"

And, I'm not sure why I never got around to writing it. I would assume it was my mortal enemy - laziness. That guy always seems to stop me from doing fun things.

But, basically, what I wanted to do was give a brief history of me knowing the Beatles, as well as talk about the "Be-Sharps" episode of The Simpsons, in which Homer starts a barbershop quartet. Their rise & subsequent fall mirrors that of The Beatles. It was a funny episode when I was 7 or 8, then when I learned more it became a hilarious homage to the group.

What the iTunes deal meant for older fans, I assumed wouldn't be a whole lot. At the time of the announcement, I already had all of their albums and had listened to them (statement of hyperbole) millions of times. The most hardcore fans weren't going to jump up and go "I can buy all of the Beatles albums again!"

I figured this would be something better for kids, people who wouldn't listen to the Beatles without some prodding from other people. There were likely banner ads all over iTunes when the music first went live. A kid could have seen that, listened to a 30 second sample of "Yellow Submarine" or "Helter Skelter" and *BOOM* they're a Beatles fan.

That's all I've got here. I'll be back with some more unfinished works later.

Additional Reading: Top 25 Beatles songs

Sunday, April 27, 2014

On A Plain



Probably one of the sweetest songs ever written about being a selfish asshole. That might be the point: he's still a good person, he just does drugs and makes bad choices. "I know it's wrong, so what should I do?"

Friday, April 25, 2014

Episode 17: Friends then and now


Latest episode of the podcast is up and running! This go-round, I'm all by myself discussing a few things going on my life. Topics discussed include:

- moving back in with my mom, why I'm doing it, and I read the Thought Catalog article I wrote looking at pros & cons

- basically being roommates with a cat, why my mom has named 5 cats the same name over the years, and a story about the time this cat nearly killed my mom

- a little bit of controversy about the last episode of my podcast; some people did not like some of the things that were said, and I look at why that can be a good thing

- an interview that lasts one minute and six seconds with Joseph Streeby is played; he talks about what he likes and dislikes about the podcast

- my core group of friends is gone and I look at the issues that has caused in my life

- I recorded a professional wrestling podcast in 2009 with a couple friends and I play that 8-minute clip to close the podcast out

All that and more. Well, not really. That's about it. But, it's fun to listen to. The podcast that we recorded in 2009 was a nice trip down memory lane. 

As a disclaimer, I will say that one of my friends says a homosexual slur and we laugh. Times have changed and words that we didn't think much of back then aren't really cool now. So, just keep in mind that it's a different time and era. He also makes another gay joke that I actually think is hilarious. When referring to wrestler John Cena, this same guy says "John Cena lot of dicks." That kind of joke is funny.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Changes



One of my favorite Limp Bizkit lyrics is from their critically-acclaimed, but poorly-selling 2003 album: "Put on my head... phones, listen to the Def... Tones."

I thought LB's 2003 "Results May Vary" album was pretty good. It sounded nothing like what they had released earlier (or since) and it didn't go over well with fans. I kind of compare it to what the Red Hot Chili Peppers did with their "BloodSugarSexMagik" album; went from heavy rap/funk to a more mellow, singing style. And, Limp Bizkit tried to do that, toning down the rapping and made things slower and easier to listen to.

RHCP got away with it because their new style was what really made them popular. They probably had a lot of fans from the 80s who hated "Under the Bridge" and wanted their old style back, but the mainstream jumped onto them and they stuck with it. With Limp Bizkit, they had broken into the mainstream with their "Nu Metal" style, so when they tried to change it the majority of their fans revolted against it and they didn't pick up enough new fans to justify the style change.

File that under "Things nobody cared about."

* * *

To follow the theme... I'm trying to change a lot of aspects of my life. 

I guess I'm struggling with addiction issues. Or, I guess I'm struggling with unhappiness issues. It's easier to chemically alter your mood than to address your lingering issues. So, that's what I tend to do.

I've been trying not to go out to bars. I've been avoiding friends who I think are bad influences. I've just been trying to live a healthier life.

Nobody's perfect and I have occasionally slipped. A couple times I'll wake up and wonder for a second why I feel like shit, then I'll look over and see a bunch of empty bottles and cans. In a positive change, I feel bad about it instead of getting up and starting it all over again.

I haven't snorted any undesirable substances up my nose since November. That was never really my thing, but if somebody offered I wouldn't turn them down.

Smoked pot once about a month ago. But, that was never my thing either. Most people probably wouldn't even consider that a bad thing and would encourage me to smoke more.

* * *

As David Bowie would say, I've made some more ch-ch-ch-ch-changes... I became a vegetarian recently. I think I'm about a month in now. I was keeping track for the first couple weeks and then stopped caring how long it had been.

I hate to be one of "those people," but this has nothing to do with living a healthy lifestyle. I've joked to friends that any health benefits will be purely accidental.

I'm a vegetarian for ethical reasons. I've had these thoughts in my head for a couple years, but never really acted on them until recently. I was in Kroger sometime last year and looked at all of the hamburger and beef products in the butcher area. I thought about how much beef was in the entire Kroger. And then I did the same with chicken. Then I thought about all of the other grocery stores in the area, and surrounding areas, and so on and so forth. That was a lot of animals.

And I kept reading all of these undercover reports about unfair treatment of animals at slaughterhouses and their poor quality of life. And it made me sad. With something this big, I realized I can't change the world, but I can change how I act in the world. So, I don't eat meat anymore.

It hasn't been hard at all. I've never been one of those people who crave meat, or think they do. You can always look at a guy and know his reaction to me being a vegetarian will be "I can't do it. I love steak too much!"

The world is full of stereotypes because people don't know how to be themselves. 

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Episode 16: Class of 2004 Reunion



My 10-year high school reunion is coming up this summer. To mark the occasion, I spoke to the 2004 Princeton High School Valedictorian, Meg Hersman. 

Delicious irony alert: We spoke over the phone, since she lives in Chicago. There are a couple points where her audio quality isn't perfect. I recorded a piece I placed before the interview apologizing for that audio quality... and then I experienced audio issues with that. I thought it was funny, so I kept it in.

Below is a partial transcript of our interview. In addition to all of this, we also talked about Meg's time at West Virginia University, discussed her time working at Starbucks and whether or not the "secret menu" is real, how many members of PHS's 2004 class we've had sex with (and who we'd have sex with today), and we rank all of the 2004 Class Reunion activities.

* * * 

Chris: I believe I graduated number 81 in the class. Did you do any better than that? 

Meg: Uh, yes, I was Valedictorian [laughs]. 

C: Valedictorian. Was that something you actively tried for, or did that just kind of happen? 

M: Well, there is a legend in my family that as a small child, when I found out what that word meant, because my mom had been Valedictorian when she graduated, that I declared a few days in to kindergarten that I was also going to be the Valedictorian. But, I did not think about that for a long time. I did want to do well, academically, but it wasn’t until class rankings came out at the end of Freshman year, and I was number two that I, like, actually really started to care about it. And, I don’t know why, but for some reason, like, number two was just like not acceptable. 

C: That’s the first loser. 

M: Yeah! No, not at all. But, just me being incredibly “Type A” and with number one so close, I just wanted it so bad. You know, in retrospect, it’s not actually a thing that matters at all. But, I really wanted to give that speech. 

C: I remember when you got it. You were the Valedictorian, and I believe Emma Faulkner was Salutatorian. 

M: Yes, she was. 

C: And I remember one of the complaints, like I heard this as an actual, legitimate kind of discussion: people were saying, they felt like she should have had it because she had more math classes and you were like, the “theater girl” and those classes didn’t really count. I’m in that same boat, I was newspaper and yearbook and they were like “He didn’t do anything, and he got A’s.” How do you feel about people who say classes like that are air quote “easy”? 

M: Ummm… I think that, can I swear on your podcast? 

C: Oh, go ahead. 

M: I think it’s bullshit. Well, so, okay. There are more AP classes - or, at least there were when we were there - there were more AP classes available in the STEM fields and I’ve always done well in those classes. I got a very high grade in AP chem. But, it wasn’t where I wanted to go with my life. So, and it’s you know, it’s still like, I’m very interested in science and I’m good at math. But, I, you know, what would have been the point in me filling up my schedule with classes that weren’t going to take me where I wanted to go. And, you know, I did take other AP classes. You know, I said I took AP chem. I’m sorry, that is wrong. I took regular chemistry because AP chem was offered during the same class period as my theater class, which was what I wanted to do. But, I did take AP lit and I took AP history and I did very well in those courses. And, everything that I could take as an Honor’s class, I took as an Honor’s class. Everybody has different interests and you shouldn’t be penalized just because you’re more interested in the arts and humanities as a career path, than you are in the STEM fields. 

C: Very true. To go back a little bit, I moved to Princeton for the 10th grade, so I know what it’s like to be a teenager in Princeton. I know what it’s like to be an adult in Princeton. Spoiler alert: it’s not fun. What was it like being a child in Princeton? Like, a little kid running around town? 

M: I was born there and I did live there all the way through high school. I think we left for like six months when I was a toddler. I will say that I met a lot of people that I graduated high school with, either in kindergarten or preschool. I went to one of the larger elementary schools; I went to Mercer Elementary. And, then, I was also at Princeton Middle School before Princeton High School. So, probably, I’m not sure how big of a school Glenwood [Elementary] is, as a feeder middle school. Probably, I want to guess, 60 percent of our class I knew before we got to high school. And, it was always like a big deal when we had a new kid in our class. It was always a big deal when somebody moved away. And, I also remember feeling that my classmates that I had class with had made up their mind about me and how they felt about me and I had done the same by probably the end of first or second grade. And, then, later on, I wanted to like kind of reinvent myself. I remember feeling like this the first time in the fourth grade and I at that point, all I wanted was to go by my middle name, which is Deniece [SP?], which nobody was having it. My teachers wouldn’t do it. My friends wouldn’t do it. And I just remember, like feeling this frustration, like “No one will let me be who I want to be.” And I honestly, felt that way probably through high school. 

C: I remember noticing that at the elementary school that I went to. Like, I was friends with a guy, like first grade, second grade, then we got into the grade school, like third, fourth, and fifth, he went off with his other friends and he became a jock, cool guy and I wasn’t, so we weren’t friends anymore. And, it’s just weird how that kind of stuff happens. 

… 

C: When you went to high school, started the ninth grade, were you excited about it? Were you weird about it? Uncomfortable? 

M: I was terrified. It was the first time I remember feeling, like, real social anxiety. In middle school, I was that horrible, obnoxious child who would, like walk around singing show tunes at the top of my lung with my best friend in the hallway in between classes and didn’t care what anybody thought. And, then high school, I remember being afraid to eat because I was afraid I’d throw up. I had one friend who was a senior … and I sat with her at lunch, her and her friends and I sat there and I talked to them, but my hands were shaking under the table and I wouldn’t eat. I felt that way most of freshman year. I don’t think I talked to any seniors when I was a freshman. And, there are some of those people that I made friendly acquaintances of later, that I realized how incredibly stupid it was as a 14-year-old I was like, “I’m not gonna talk to that kid because they’re 18 and they probably know ‘everything.’” And it was very silly. 

C: You had your core of friends. Did you make any more in high school, or did you kind of keep the same people that you already had? 

M: I made some more friends, particularly ninth grade, I had been in band in middle school and I wasn’t very good at it. I decided that I was gonna quit band in the ninth grade, that I wasn’t gonna be part of it. And, then all of my friends were in band and I didn’t have lunch with any of my friends, so I kind of made more friends out of necessity, mostly to have someone to sit with at lunch. And, I ended up joining the band sophomore year. Taking that year off was detrimental; I never got good at playing my instrument, it was kind of terrible. But, Mrs. Kade was wonderfully patient with me. 

C: Did you have a favorite class or teacher throughout high school? 

M: I had a lot of teachers I really liked. I remember as Valedictorian, I got to give a plaque to a teacher that I really appreciated. And I gave it to Mr. Bowling, the Spanish teacher and he was not well-liked among the students. And, I hadn’t told him I was giving it to him because I wanted it to be a surprise. They gave it out at Awards Day and he was actually not in the gym, he was in the cafeteria and someone had to go and find him so I could give him his plaque. I don’t know why; I just thought he was awesome. Part of it was, I could see he was frustrated too and I connected with that. I really liked him and I really liked Mrs. Phillips, the history teacher. Mrs. Sarles, I had for speech and AP English. And, also, Mrs. Russel, who I had for critical viewing and who had also been my teacher in the sixth grade. And, then, Mrs. Kade. Those are probably my favorites. Can I count Mr. Kade if I had him in middle school but I never took classes with him in high school? 

C: Yeah, we can do that. 

M: It’s quite a list. 

C: Well, it’s better to have a lot to list than not to be able to think of any. 

M: That is true. And, there is one teacher who will remain unnamed that I had a very antagonistic relationship with when I was in eleventh grade Honor’s English. He and I got into a little bit of a verbal tussle around The Great Gatsby and Emily Dickinson that was a very weird thing. I felt like he didn’t like me for the whole rest of his class. I didn’t like Emily Dickinson and I told him so. 

C: I remember hearing about this. I know who you’re talking about [laughs]. 

M: [laughs] That happened. He tried to take The Great Gatsby off the syllabus and I told him “You can’t do that, because the Board of Education said we have to read it.” He didn’t like that. 

C: Odd story about that, he asked Kelly out on a date after she graduated from high school. 

M: Oh my goodness. That’s scandalous. 

C: She politely declined. 

… 

C: When I was in high school, I wore weird necklaces and painted my fingernails black and I guess I kind of regret that now at 27. Did you have anything that, looking back, you regret? 

M: It’s gonna sound funny, because I have short hair now. But, I regret the short haircut that I had sophomore year. It was very trendy and it looked very dated in pictures. And, it didn’t do anything for my face. My face has thinned out a little bit, but it was very round in high school. And, there was this super-trendy haircut that was like a pixie cut that was spiky on the back of your head that I had and it made me look like the blowfish from The Little Mermaid. It was pretty awful. And, growing it out wasn’t fun. So, that’s a thing I regret. 

... 

C: Do you remember the school day on September 11, 2001? We were in the tenth grade. 

M: Yes, I do. I was in algebra II. I believe that was first block, like maybe toward the end of first block. And, I had… Oooh, I can’t remember her name. Ummm… Oh gosh, that’s upsetting. I really liked her. The little old lady who taught algebra II. 

C: Mrs. Smith? 

M: No. I had Mrs. Smith for geometry the year before. 

C: I failed geometry [laughs]. 

M: That’s a hard class [laughs]. But, we were sitting in algebra II. I sat with Arwha Ghabra and Kellen Henry, who was my best friend in high school and is still a good friend of mine. I just remember Mrs. Wells, the history teacher, she came running through the door. She just like threw the door open and she was panting, like I think she had been running up and down the hallway. And just said, “Turn on the TV!” And that was all she said. I remember the teacher turned the TV on and everybody was just completely transfixed for the rest of class. The rest of the day, I just don’t remember at all. 

… 

C: Was it important for you to go to a school far away from home? Did you want to break away from Princeton? 

M: I did. I missed my parents a lot. I’ve always been really close to my parents. But, I thought WVU was far enough away that I could be far away from Princeton and I’d still see people that I knew and still have like some element of familiarity. But, for the most part, the whole world be new and that was what I wanted. I touched on this in my silly valedictory speech, but I’ve always been kind of a risk taker and it just seemed like close to home seemed so safe. And, that was a big turn off for me. 

C: I would honestly say one of the biggest regrets in my life is that I went to school at Concord University. They didn’t have what I needed to help me succeed in life, and as such I haven’t succeeded in life to the degree that I want to. I feel like a bigger school somewhere would have been better for me. 

… 

M: One day on my birthday, I think sophomore year, the Second City touring company came to Morgantown. And, pretty much the entire department went to the show at this theater downtown. And, I was transfixed and totally obsessed immediately. The improv class is repeatable, but you can only take it junior and senior year. I was the only person who took it both years. Most of the people in my class never even took it once. I took it and it was it was “my thing.” I was getting compliments from senior when I took it as a junior and they were telling me how good at it I was and how I should do it more. So, then we graduated and my entire class split off and went to New York and LA. And, I came to Chicago all by myself and I took a lot of classes at Second City and then I kind of fell into standup and that’s where I am now. 

C: For those who don’t know, what exactly is Second City and who are some people that are known for that. 

M: Second City is a comedy theater here in Chicago. They have a branch in Toronto and a training center in Hollywood. They have touring companies and companies that go on tour ships. What they do is they use improvisation to create sketch comedy. So, probably the two biggest names that have ever come out of Second City are John Belushi and Bill Murray. But, also, Tina Fey and Rachel Dratch. And, Stephen Colbert and Steve Carell and Tim Meadows. And, I could go on forever. 

… 

C: What’s odd for me, is I’m actually friends with more people from high school now than I ever was in high school. There are people that I didn’t talk to at all who are like my best friends now. I guess that shows how you get with your friends and never really get out of it. Then, you get into the “real world” and it doesn’t really matter as much. So, speaking of friends and all this 10-year nonsense, the big thing: our high school reunion is coming up sometime this summer. Do you know if you’re coming down? 

M: I don’t think I will be attending. I’m having a really busy summer here in Chicago. I’m sure that I would make connections, new connections with people I’m not expecting if I were to go. But, I just don’t really feel the desire to and I hope that that doesn’t offend anybody. 

C: Honestly, the reunion is gonna be down the street from me and I don’t think I’m gonna go, to be completely honest. 

M: Well, you see a lot of those people anyway, right? 

C: Yeah, I see the people I want to see. We have to pay like $35? I don’t wanna pay $35 to go see Stephanie Crowe and Brandon Etter. I never talked to them.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Random Stories: McDonalds edition



That song is so full of obscure 90's pop culture references. It's awesome. I like The Offspring. And, I instantly like any song that randomly says "God Damn" for no real reason.

Boring few days. Life is changing soon. I'll fill you guys in on that later. I have a couple options going on in my life that I'm watching develop. I'm at that proverbial crossroads. I am waiting to see if I will go right or left. 

One of my favorite Them Crooked Vultures lyrics is "You can't always do what's right, you can always do what's left." They also say "Don't hold it against me, unless it gets hard." But that's a discussion for another day.

Girl at McDonalds earlier was flirting with me a little bit. She told me she liked my tattoos and gave me a deal: she charged me for a $1 sweet tea drink when I really wanted a regular soft drink.

When me and "the gang" all worked at Pizza Hut back in the day, 2010 or so, we would eat at McDonalds a lot because it was right beside "the Hut."

A McDonalds worker became smitten with one of our friends, so me and another guy went over there and got her phone number. He started texting her. I don't want to imply what kind of girl she was, but all I will say is that within a couple days he had some nude photographs.

We had always talked about the appeal of another one of our friends. We found it was odd that he really had no redeeming qualities, yet seemed to always have a lady or two (or three) around. We realized that it proved the theory true that girls love assholes.

We quickly realized that this McDonalds girl wasn't anything special to keep around, so my friend devised a truly awful plan: "I'm gonna be an asshole and see if she likes it."

And it did. He would ignore her, be rude to her, just all sort of "dick moves," and she kept texting him and trying to be with him.

Not condoning it. Just saying that it happened.

A story about me and getting a girl's phone number...

There was this lady who was really attractive for being around 40 who would come into Pizza Hut periodically. One day, she came in around 4 p.m. and it was me my buddy Mark. She looked at the two of us and said, "So, do you guys just walk across the street after school and work here?" She was referring to Princeton Senior High School and implying that we were teenagers. I was 23 and he was 24. Mark looked at her and said, "We're a lot older than you think..."

She would come in and talk to us while waiting for her order. We would see her and prepare ourselves: "That old hot chick is here!" we would announce.

One day, she was talking to me for a minute and ended the conversation with "And, can I get your number?" I said, "Huh?" I noticed the way she was looking at me and stammered "s-s-sure. Let me grab a piece of paper."

I bragged to Robbie, the other manager on duty with me, about what had just happened. He was impressed.

The next day, I was driving to the gas station. "Eye of the Tiger" came on the radio. I cranked that shit up and started singing. I thought I heard my phone ringing, so I turned the radio down and saw that I had a voicemail from the hot old chick.

I called her back and we made vague plans to hang out in the future. My imagination was running wild at the possibilities. In my head, it seemed awesome! But, in something that might make me lose some guy friends, here's a confession: I'm not a casual hookup guy. I couldn't do it.

I chickened out (like that one time...) and I decided my best course of action was to ignore her. And that's when I learned that this lady was a psycho. From the time I stopped contact with her, she proceeded to call me a few times a day, every day, for about two weeks. And she would leave these crazy voicemails. Her southern accent was cute when she was talking to me normally, but when she's shouting "I THOUGHT WE WAS GONNA HANG OUT!" she's not so cute anymore.

She eventually got the hint and left me alone. I saw her at Pizza Hut once after that. We were cordial to each other. The crazy ones are good at hiding their crazy.

That's a good stopping point for now. I'll be back later.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Unfinished Works: music with meaning

In 2010, I was writing down a lot of notes about music. I had an idea in my head for a while about exploring a deeper meaning in songs. I had a couple thoughts in my head and started writing them down. Here's what I have:

Music *Go somewhere w/ this info...

- first became aware of "mainstream"/"pop culture" around 8th grade

- first song that I realized told a story:
     "Shooting Star," Bad Company ... driving home from Grandpa's as a little kid at night. Closed my eyes, let imagery hit me

- first song I realized had a deep message:
     "Ohio," Neil Young ... middle school, driving home from school, heard opening line & knew it was about "something," not sure what @ time...

* * *

I guess we'll start from the beginning here. The summer of 1999 was really the first time I became aware of pop culture, this idea that things are presented to us and we accept it without thinking. "This is the top song in the country." "Oh, okay."

We could say I lived a sheltered life. Nothing that was my mom's fault or anything; she didn't specifically try to shield me from anything. I just wasn't aware of things out of my bubble I lived in until I was in the 8th grade. I remember asking a guy in his 30's if he had ever heard of Lenny Kravitz in 1999. He had been releasing albums for 10 years at that point. But, I had just discovered him and others.

To expand upon that point, I probably would have written something to the effect of pop culture being manufactured and people who don't know any better get sucked into it. Me at 12, 13 years old, I didn't give it a second thought. I liked what they told me to like and eagerly bought up what they told me to buy.

The next point I wrote down ... At a young age, music to me was words and sounds. I didn't realize the power that music had to tell stories and make you feel certain feelings. As a young kid, before I made that pop culture realization, I remember hearing Bad Company's "Shooting Star" late one night. My mom and I left my grandpa's house and began the drive back to Flatwoods Road, where we lived. I closed my eyes and listened to the words. I realized it was telling a story. I didn't realize at the time that the story was of rock star excess, but I picked up on that aspect as I got older.

Final point ... One day in middle school, probably 6th grade, my mom picked me up and I sat in the car as she drove home. The now-familiar opening of Neil Young's "Ohio" began. I listened to the song and realized that he was describing something. I just wasn't sure what. A story about Richard Nixon and soldiers in Ohio, with four deaths reported. Years later, I would learn that Neil Young wrote this as a protest of the 1970 Kent State shootings. This was a song about something real, something intense, and I learned that music could bring issues like that to the forefront.

I don't know what I would have done with those three nuggets of information I wrote down. And that's likely why I didn't do anything with them.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Ultimate Warrior (1959-2014)

The Ultimate Warrior. 

Shit. Things just got fixed and now they're broken again. 

The Ultimate Warrior was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame on Saturday, made an appearance at WrestleMania on Sunday, then capped it off with his first Monday Night Raw appearance in 18 years. Then he died on Tuesday.

Here's a piece I wrote for the Camel Clutch Blog a few months back when I heard the news that Ultimate Warrior was being inducted into the HOF: http://camelclutchblog.com/is-the-ultimate-warrior-deserving-of-the-wwe-hall-of-fame/ 

It mostly dealt with looking at the issues between Warrior (his legal name) and WWE, which I won't go into again here. Long story short, everybody was surprised when this was announced.

And then it happened. And it was awesome. Warrior cut this awesome speech where he made it clear that the 2005 "Self Destruction of Ultimate Warrior" dvd hurt him, but that he was above letting that ruin this opportunity for himself, his family, and his fans.

If you own the WWE Network, you can go back and watch his speech. It will be included in the WrestleMania XXX 3-disk set, which will be released in the next month or so.

And then the big moment happened. Ultimate Warrior made his first appearance on Monday Night Raw since 1996. The familiar music hit and the crowd "popped" as they say in the wrestling business. At 54, Warrior didn't run to the ring like he used to, he instead walked slowly and savored what he likely knew was his last trip to the ring.

It was a nice enough moment seeing a suit-wearing Warrior come to the ring to cut a promo. Then, he pulled out the airbrushed trench coat he was known for. In a WWE faux pas, Warrior acknowledged the camera man, telling him to hold the microphone (WWE likes to pretend the camera men aren't there). Warrior then got a plastic "Warrior facepant" mask and put it on. He let out the trademark snarl/grunt he was known for. The Ultimate Warrior was back!

A random sidenote: at the end of the video, when Warrior takes the mask off the camera shows a crowd shot and you see a super-hot woman wearing a Mick Foley shirt. That's Mick Foley's super-hot daughter, Noelle. She's not the 5-year-old kid from "Beyond The Mat" anymore...

When I watched that on Monday night, it was just a cool homage to an old man's heyday. The Ultimate Warrior really was something huge for a short period of time. People look back at Warrior's career as being a failure because he was supposed to be "The Guy" for the 90's in WWE. Instead, he flamed out after a couple years and never realized his full potential.

The promo was originally a fun piece of nostalgia about how the character of Ultimate Warrior will live forever, long after the man behind the character is gone.

Let that statement sink in.

Here's the text of what he said:
No WWE talent becomes a legend on their own. Every man's heart one day beats its final beat. His lungs breathe a final breath. And if what that man did in his life makes the blood pulse through the body of others and makes them bleed deeper and something larger than life, then his essence, his spirit, will be immortalized. By the story tellers, by the loyalty, by the memory of those who honor him and make the running the man did live forever. You, you, you, you, you, you are the legend makers of Ultimate Warrior. In the back I see many potential legends. Some of them with Warrior spirts. And you will do the same for them. You will decide if they lived with the passion and intensity. So much so that you will tell your stories and you will make them legends, as well. Ultimate. You are the Ultimate Warrior fans. And the spirit of Ultimate Warrior will run forever!
It's just crazy. Warrior even announced at the Hall of Fame that he had signed a multi-year contract with WWE in an ambassador role. That was likely a "Legends Contract," which is exactly what Warrior described.

What makes this sadder still is that this year's Hall of Fame class was such a celebration of life. Two of the other candidates, Jake Roberts and Scott Hall, had been walking disaster stories for the better part of two decades. We've all likely seen the ESPN piece about Hall's life and Beyond the Mat helped turn Jake into a joke.

WWE had no choice for years but to distance themselves from the two. The two of them made a habit out of appearing at small-time shows in no condition to stand, let alone perform. There are tons of videos of them acting like fools on YouTube if you so choose to find them. The 1999 Heroes of Wrestling pay-per-view is a horrible example of Jake being fucked up on a huge stage.

And the reason I publicize those is to show the 180 that Jake and Scott have gone through. Both have been sober for the better part of a year. Both have turned their lives around with the help of fellow wrestler "Diamond" Dallas Page. DDP has been documenting Jake's progress and is making a documentary. The HOF induction was to be the climax of the film.

Honestly, at any point in the last 10 years, if we had gone online and the first news item we read was "Scott Hall found dead" or "Jake Roberts passes away" we wouldn't have been surprised. They were both that far gone that we were expecting it. In Jake's WWE dvd put out around 2005, he even mentioned feeling angry when learning of the death of other wrestlers. He said that Curt Henning, Hawk, and Big Bossman were such nice guys and why did they have to go before him?

And they both turned their lives around. Both dropped tons of weight and kicked their habits.

The 2014 WWE Hall of Fame was a story of redemption. Three people got new chances with WWE: Jake Roberts and Scott Hall after overcoming their drug use and The Ultimate Warrior, after mending fences with Vince McMahon and the WWE family.

Stephanie McMahon even tweeted this picture Monday night with the caption "Never say never."



The lesson to learn here seems to be one that we keep learning over and over again yet we often forget: Don't take things for granted. Nothing lasts forever. 

The Ultimate Warrior has breathed his final breath, but the spirit of The Ultimate Warrior will live forever.

Click here to see the trailer for the new Ultimate Warrior dvd that WWE recently released, which features an interview with Warrior.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

20 Years Ago

Kurt Cobain, lead singer of Nirvana, died 20 years ago - April 5, 1994. At the time, I was 7 (OMG! I'm sooo old!). I wasn't a fan of their music then and I didn't start to get into Nirvana until I was in high school. I've grown to love their music and to love the mythologized version of Kurt Cobain. Learning about a tortured soul is interesting to me - I've read multiple books and watched a few documentaries about his life and death.

I've written about him a few times here on the blog before. Here are some previous posts:

White Unicorn ... Not really about Nirvana, but I briefly mention reading "Journals," the collection of his writings and give some thoughts

Tearjerker ... Around the anniversary of Cobain's death in 2012, I embedded a video of the song Anthony Kiedis of the Red Hot Chili Peppers wrote about Cobain's death

Nevermind; 20 years later ... Looking back at the 20-year anniversary of their biggest album (a picture I embedded no longer shows up, you can click here to see it)

It's better to burn out than fade away ... Small remembrance from April 5, 2011

And there's a few more in there. An ill-fated experiment to list the Top 50 most-played songs in my iTunes library during the summer of 2010 featured 5 Nirvana songs.

A few months ago, I thought about doing a list of my favorite Nirvana songs. I was thinking about making it either Top 10 or Top 15. Then, I realized that they only had 3 albums and all the songs are good. Don't limit yourself to any list. If you've never heard Nirvana, just pick up an album and run with it. They're all worth checking out.

The idea of creating something amazing that people love is part of what drives me. What Kurt Cobain was able to do in such a short amount of time is incredible. He created things that will stand the test of time. He used his words, set to music, and he will be remembered forever.

He created something bigger than himself. That's what I have tried to do in my life. When people say, "Chris Slater," I want the response to be "The guy who did ______" whatever it is I do.

I use my words and thoughts to create things. I hope people like those things. Maybe they can help people? Excite people? Make them laugh?

Has Cobain's myth been magnified since his death? Of course. He had the now-stereotypical "tortured artist" vibe going for him. He made all of these incredible songs and dealt with a horrible drug addiction. Something got to be too much for him; either life, fame, the pain, or whatever, and he shot himself in the head.

Nirvana's last studio album dealt a lot with fame and the aftereffects of their rise. Perhaps a lyric from one of the songs on that album sums things up nicely: "I miss the comfort in being sad." He had what society deemed a "happy" lifestyle, but he wasn't comfortable with it.

Cobain is a member of the infamous "27 Club," a group of famous people, mostly musicians who have died at the age of 27. I am currently 27. I couldn't imagine living this long and then not doing anything else. It's crazy to think of how much content Kurt Cobain put into those 27 years. Similar to Jimi Hendrix and Jim Morrison, two other members of the 27 Club.

What a life. And, what a post-life. We'll end things here with a video of Dave Grohl telling a story of meeting Kurt Cobain and ending with a song he wrote about Nirvana.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Story of the Yes Movement



WWE made a cute animated video explaining the "Yes Movement" and Daniel Bryan's rise to the top. It's something nice for the kids to watch.

Rolling Stone magazine got into the Yes Movement, interviewing Bryan and his fiance, Brie Bella (also a wrestler) about how he's breaking the mold for a wrestling superstar. We're not quite at the same level 15 years or so back when "Stone Cold" Steve Austin was on the cover, but you know something is big when one of the largest pop culture publications is covering it. Link is below:

Daniel Bryan's House of Yes: How an eco-minded vegan grappler became wrestling hottest star

His last few weeks are below in YouTube form. He is set to wrestle Triple H, with the stipulation being that the winner advances to the main event later that night against Batista & Randy Orton, for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. That will happen at WrestleMania 30, which is this Sunday, April 6.

A few weeks back, Triple H got the upper hand, handcuffing Bryan and viciously beating him. We were worried that he wouldn't be able to make it to WrestleMania. But, on the final Monday Night Raw before WrestleMania, during a Batista vs Randy Orton match with Triple H on commentary, Bryan made his return. The Yes Movement is in full force and Bryan was standing tall at the end of the show.

Triple H attack on Daniel Bryan


Daniel Bryan's return

What will happen at WrestleMania 30? There's only one logical solution. The fans will have their voices heard. Daniel Bryan will win the championship and celebrate with 70,000 of his closest friends. It will be a good day.