Sunday, August 21, 2016

30 Years

I believe it was John Lennon who said "And so this is 30." Not really. I use that joke a lot. I last did it in a Thanksgiving post. Anyway... They call it the Big Three Oh. And that's how old I am. How am I feeling about it? Not as bad as some of my friends. They're going through the "OMG I'm so old now" thing. And I'm going through the "Yeah, I was born in 1986, I'm 30" thing.

I'll recap a conversation I had with a friend via Facebook Messenger Thursday a few minutes after midnight:

"Whoa! You're 30! You seem so much younger."

"Yeah, I'm 30. I was born in 1986, graduated high school in 2004."

"Wow! You don't seem 30."

And it continues like that for a while.

I was thinking about past birthdays and thought it would be fun to see if I can remember what I did for every birthday in my life. Around the time I turned 5 is when most of my memories start, and one of them is my birthday. A few of the early ones may be spotty and hazy. And, then a few of them after 21 might be hazy as well.

Age 05, 1991 ... We lived in an apartment on Flatwoods Road in Ravenswood, West Virginia. I remember I got a bunch of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles toys.

Age 06, 1992 ... No recollection

Age 07, 1993 ... No recollection

Age 08, 1994 ... No recollection, but I do remember that I had been to a couple birthday parties held at McDonalds. And I wanted one of those, but my mom wouldn't do it.

Age 09, 1995 ... This was when I was in my phase of liking hockey for some reason. I got a pair of Wayne Gretzky shoes and a new hockey stick. Me and my neighbor, Josh, played roller hockey in his driveway.

Age 10, 1996 ... I don't remember my exact birthday, but I remember two moments right before and after. I got my ear pierced when I was 8. Just the left ear. That was the only one you got back then, or people talked about you. I wanted to get another one. Why? I don't know. I already had the earring in the bottom of my ear, so I got one at the top. That was a couple days before my 10th birthday. School started a couple days after my birthday. I remember on the first day, Mrs. Kearns - the teacher - talked about how she had been in Charleston the day before to see a speech from Bill Clinton and got a sunburn.

Age 11, 1997 ... We had the party at my grandpa's. This was around the time I started to fall in love with wrestling, so that was the theme. I wanted my cake to have "nWo" written on it in icing, but for some reason that request was ignored. We watched WrestleMania 13, featuring one of the greatest matches in the history of all wrestling -- Bret Hart vs Steve Austin. My friend Joe and I loved it all. My friends Vince and Tyler, who hated wrestling, sat there for three hours.

Age 12, 1998 ... My mom's friend Paula and her 1-year-old son had been staying with me and my mom for a couple months at this time. Paula had some sort of appointment in Charleston that day and so I needed to go with her to watch her son while she went inside. Her car didn't have A/C, so it was miserable going up. Then I sat in the car with her son for what felt like forever, but was likely just an hour or so. Then the car broke down three times on the 2-hour drive back home. It was a long day. Solid contender for worst birthday ever.

Age 13, 1999 ... When I waited tables for a couple years, my fellow employees always hated the cheesy birthday songs we were supposed to sing when a table requested it. The reason why I never hated it and was known for being one of the most energetic and loud singers was because of my 13th birthday. My mom and her boyfriend got into an argument that evening, so he wasn't joining us for my birthday celebration. It was a negative mood as we sat at Shoney's celebrating me becoming a teenager. Then people came out singing and clapping and bringing me a piece of cake and it made me smile and feel good. And when I had the chance to do the clapping and dessert-giving, I always remembered that I could help have a positive impact on somebody's day.

Age 14, 2000 ... I went back-to-school shopping with my dad and his family. It was the first time I had ever been to an Olive Garden. I apparently lived a very sheltered life as a child. Near the end of the meal, as I got up to walk to the restroom, people started walking toward me and clapping, so I had to sit back down until they were done.

Age 15, 2001 ... I don't recall there being too much of a celebration this year. My mom and I had just moved to Princeton a couple months prior. Since it was the summer, and we didn't live right in town, I hadn't made any friends my own age yet. School started a week or so later. After the 2nd or 3rd day, my cat had kittens. Probably one of my earliest eye rolls in life was after hearing my mom tell me that I should tell everybody about the kittens and it would help me make friends.

Age 16, 2002 ... My girlfriend Kelly came over. We watched "Black Sheep" and held hands.

Age 17, 2003 ... Again, hung out with Kelly. I had been in Ripley with my grandpa for like a week or so before that. My allergies were really bad for some reason. I remember I woke up one day and there was so much gunk and mucus and watery stuff coming out of my eyes that it had dried up in my eyelashes while I was sleeping and I couldn't open my eyes when I woke up.

Age 18, 2004 ... The day I became a man was also the first day of college. I began the day at 9:30 in the remedial math class, taught by the tennis coach who has a mullet. He gave a speech that day basically saying "You're in the class because you're not good at math." He pointed to a coat hook on the wall. He said, "Hang your ego up on that as soon as you walk in the door." It was also my first day of learning that what happens in high school doesn't matter anymore. I was walking through the student center and was stopped by a table of four people I graduated with. I had only been friends with one of them. But I was accepted into the group immediately because we had that common high school bond in this new area.

Age 19, 2005 ... I didn't really do anything, I don't think. I hadn't been intending to grow my hair out, but around the time of my birthday I realized that it had literally been a year since my last trim. It was long and in a ponytail. So I got it cut. That's my main memory from turning 19.

Age 20, 2006 ... I don't think I had a party this year. School always started around my birthday at this point. And I never really cared about a birthday party.

Age 21, 2007 ... The night before, I spent my 21st birthday with a bunch of my friends having a few cocktails. On my actual birthday, I was there for freshman orientation, since I was the Editor-in-Chief of the student newspaper. I had recently gotten my first tattoo, so I showed that off to a bunch of people.

Age 22, 2008 ... I hung out with my friend at his band practice, after we were both done working at Pizza Hut that night. That's about all I remember. I got to play the drums a little bit.

Age 23, 2009 ... Me and my friend Mark had a joint party at the local strip club. We had been going so often that summer that the strippers knew us -- a couple gave us their real names and one even added us on Facebook. It was a fun time. 

Age 24, 2010 ... Candace, the girlfriend at this point, had balloons sent to my apartment, as she lived three hours away. That was sweet. Later that day, I'm on Concord's campus and send a tweet making some sort of joke about their being a lot of attractive 18-year-old girls around. Candace is incensed, using her good deed against me. "I send you balloons and you do something like this!" We had our volatile moments.

Age 25, 2011 ... I think the actual day was spent in a bar with some friends. But the actual "birthday party" was spent in Morgantown with Candace. She tolerated my wrestling love and ordered SummerSlam for me. That was the culmination of the "Summer of Punk" angle.

Age 26, 2012 ... Again, I don't recall doing anything on my actual birthday. The next day was the wedding of one of my friends. I wore a white shirt with a blue tie, without realizing that was the color theme of the entire wedding party. It was a fun time.

Age 27, 2013 ... I had recently started working with a guy named Matt. This was the day we officially became friends, I think. We had known each other casually for a month or so, but he found out it was my birthday and he made a fuss about how we had to go out. We started out at Cheers, the sketchiest of sketchy bars in Princeton. We met a nice lady inside and talked to her. We later walked outside and saw her puking. We then went to Danny's, where against my better judgement I did several shots of Jack Daniels and had several bottles of Bud Light Lime. I had to be at work at 8 a.m. the next day. The employee I'm supposed to let inside at 9:30 finally wakes me up at 10 asking where I'm at.

Age 28, 2014 ... Matt and I again hit the bar. We knew the bartender. We drank for free. And we drank a lot. I remember just being handed tons of random shots. At one point, the bartender comes over with a bottle of Jack Daniels and tells me to open my mouth. And he just starts pouring it in. After a while, I start going behind the bar and getting my own beers. Near the end of the night, I'm double-fisting a Smirnoff Green Apple and a Diet Coke. The bar serves food during the day. I go back and start making sandwiches for people. The bartender comes out, looks at me in shock and asks what I'm doing. "Making sandwiches. Want one?" He thinks for a second before saying yes.

Age 29, 2015 ... Am I getting more responsible as I get older? Probably just more tired. I worked that morning and afternoon, then I went home and didn't go out. 

Age 30, 2016 ... Went to a "Business After Hours" networking thing held by the Chamber of Commerce with some friends from work. The chamber people are tipped off that it's my birthday and get a room of people to sing to me. Afterwards, I hit the Luray bar scene and spend the day after my birthday recovering.

And there's my first 30 years. What's gonna happen in my next 30 years? Then start singing the awful Tim McGraw song to yourself...

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Evolution of Punk



CM Punk's first match in the Ultimate Fighting Championship octagon goes down at UFC 203 on September 10, live on pay-per-view. To lead up to that, a documentary about Punk's nearly two-year path from signing the contract to stepping in the ring will debut on August 15. The trailer is above.

I'm interested in watching the 4-part documentary. I'm not going out of my way to watch the fight, but if it's something I can easily view I'll check it out. I just don't have a huge interested in the UFC.

I do, however, have a huge interest in CM Punk. It's hard to put into words just how important he was for wrestling. He was the guy who didn't look like the typical WWE star, but went in and kicked down every door until the wrestling world was forced to notice and accept that he was a star.

But... the respect wasn't there from the WWE higher-ups, and it all culminated in Punk walking out of WWE in January 2014. He was formally released from WWE that summer. He received the papers on his wedding day. Vince McMahon has stated in an interview that it was an unfortunate coincidence; Punk doesn't believe that.

Punk has been a long-time UFC fan, so it didn't raise any eyebrows when people found out he was at the Nov. 2014 event. Nor did it arouse any suspicion when it was found out he was going to do an interview during the show. He's friends with a lot of UFC higher-ups and he's a good talker - why not get him on television?


He made the announcement and got the world talking. There was a lot of chatter about whether or not he deserved a UFC contract. People dedicate their lives to trying to make it to the UFC and never get there. And Punk was essentially handed one based on his celebrity status.

Punk began training in January 2015. People were eyeing a fight later that year, or maybe early 2016. A shoulder injury took him out for a couple months and the timeline went away. UFC head Dana White began an online reality show to find an opponent for Punk.

Mickey Gall ultimately won the chance to face Punk. They had a spring 2016 date set for the fight, but Punk required back surgery and they went back to the drawing board. After he was fully healed, they added the fight to the September event.

Two years of speculation - if he can do this or if he will fall flat on his face - will all culminate when Punk steps into the octagon in September. In a fitting irony, the building Punk will look to earn his respect in is the same building he walked out of in WWE. The Monday Night Raw in January 2014 and UFC 203 in September 2016 both call Cleveland, Ohio home.

We'll see what happens. I'm curious to watch it all unfold.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Wrestling Review: #TheFinalDeletion Matt Hardy vs Jeff Hardy

It was hyped for weeks, and it finally happened Tuesday night, July 5 -- #TheFinalDeletion match between Matt and Jeff Hardy. For the longest time, we didn't know much about this match. Just that it was filmed at Matt's North Carolina home and that it would be unlike anything that wrestling fans had ever seen.

Then, the reaction videos started appearing. In a really cool twist, TNA Impact Wrestling filmed various wrestlers and other personalities watching the match and all we could see and hear was their reactions. It built anticipation.



But, first, what led to this:

Matt and Jeff Hardy are brothers from North Carolina who first popped up in WWE in the mid 90s as what is now known as "enhancement talent" aka the nameless, random guys who would always lose. Matt was in his early 20s and Jeff was a teenager.

The era from 1999-2001 was the height of their success as a tag team, as they became huge stars and loved by fans of all ages. They were cool. Matt was the ring general, the leader of the group. Jeff was the wild one, the free spirit. He had the crazy-colored hair and would do all of the insane flips that drove wrestling fans insane.

WWE first tried to split the group apart in late 2001, with Matt getting jealous of Jeff. The feud lasted less than a month and was quickly forgotten. They eventually went their own ways a year later when WWE did their initial brand split. Jeff was a popular babyface, eventually leaving WWE in 2003. Matt became the more well-rounded character, starting off as a heel known as "Matt Hardy, Version 1." Like all good bad guys, they eventually start to be respected by the crowd and he turned into a good guy.

Jeff came back in 2006 and WWE had the Hardys reunion tour for most of 2007. By 2009, they went into their first full-blown "Hardy vs Hardy" feud, with the same theme as 2001 -- jealousy. Matt was jealous that he was the better wrestler, the architect behind the team and got no respect from the fans while Jeff was universally loved. They had a couple matches and that was the end of that. Jeff left the company on good terms later that year and Matt was released on bad terms in 2010.

Jeff has had two stints in Total Nonstop Action Wrestling, the first in 2004 and lasting about a year. Then he came back in 2010 and has been there since. He has gone through a lot of ups and downs in the last six years, from being a multiple time World Champion to getting suspended and sent home for showing up "impaired" at a live pay-per-view. TNA got a lot of deserved criticism for actually sending Jeff to the ring in that state.

Fast forward a few years and Matt and Jeff are both in TNA together. They have reunited and have held the tag team championships. Then, Jeff breaks his leg in an outside-the-ring accident. So, Matt is on his own.

It culminated with Matt winning the TNA World Championship. Through some chicanery, Matt is stripped of the title without ever defending it. It builds a lot of sympathy for Matt as a good guy. When the time finally comes for him to get his rematch... the turn happens! 

Matt Hardy, sympathetic hero that we all love, now wants to be known as "Big Money" Matt. He takes cocky, Ric-Flair-esque character traits and becomes a very entertaining bad guy. Also, around this time, Jeff comes back and costs Matt the world title. So, they are now in a feud.

They have a couple crazy matches filled with extreme high spots that Jeff is known for. Matt tweets that his injuries will likely end his career. Nobody believes him, and he shows up a month later looking and acting crazy. He has a blond streak in his hair, is talking with a weird accent, and will only refer to Jeff as "Brother Nero." His middle name is Nero.

He is no longer "Big Money" Matt. He is now "Broken" Matt Hardy

Matt now wants to destroy Jeff. He tells him that this will be "Ovah!" They have a contract signing for the match that quickly goes viral for how weird it is. It's produced like something off of a cheesy television show.

Jeff defeats Matt in their first match and Matt posts a Facebook Live video promising a retort, but is actually five minutes of him standing in his hotel room staring at a camera. After Jeff wins their second match, held in a steel cage, Matt again posts a Facebook Live video, this time it is of him writhing around in pain in a bed.

It all culminated in #TheFinalDeletion match. Matt challenged Jeff to one more match, promising that one Hardy will be deleted. The anticipation built. And built. And then it happened. There are a lot of people who love it. Chris Jericho, one of the biggest stars in WWE, tweeted his support of the match.
Others hate it. Wrestling purists will say that it's ridiculous. The experiment paid off, though. TNA got their highest ratings since they moved their show to PopTV, formerly known as the TV Guide Channel.

It is below. It was presented in a couple different parts throughout the TV show, so the spots where commercials would have been are actually plugs for TNA's show changing nights.

I'm still figuring out how I feel about the match. There are some ridiculous campy parts of it. The actual wrestling match isn't anything special. The acting is decent by the others involved. Matt is overacting on purpose. Jeff is Jeff, which is all we'll say about his performance.

It's an interesting piece of business. I'm still deciding if it's "so bad it's good" or just so bad. It was entertaining at a few parts, so I can't complain... I guess.

In terms of this as a layered story, I like it. Matt Hardy was a veteran good guy wrestler who turned heel because he achieved his dream of winning the title and he still wasn't getting the respect that he deserved. He was cocky and on top of the world. Then, his brother cost him the title and destroyed him. He went from "Big Money" to "Broken." That all makes sense and is very compelling.

From what they're implying, this does not appear to be the end of the story. So, it will be interesting to see what the fallout from #TheFinalDeleton is.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Princeton, Dub Vee



I went home, to Princeton WV, for the first time since February & third time since making Luray VA my home nearly 8 months ago.

It was okay. It was nice to see something familiar. When I moved, they were just beginning construction on the free-standing Chick-fil-A and now it's open for business. It looked really busy.

A couple years ago during one of the "We forgot that this company hates gays, let's get outraged about it all over again" spats that we go through occasionally, the "right" staged a huge "Let's all eat here and show them!" protest. The picture of hundreds of people packed at the Chick-fil-A at the mall was the one that a lot of national news outlets picked up and used.

I had fun. Saw a few friends that I hadn't been in touch with in several months. Made a couple new friends. Got some new shoes. A good weekend overall.

Not sure when I'm going in again. My birthday is August 18, so somewhere around that weekend may be a good time.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Norm Macdonald Clip of the Week: Norm on Bill Cosby



This week's edition of the Norm Macdonald Clip of the Week is a recent clip from Norm's May appearance on the AXSTV Gotham Comedy program.

One of my favorite things about Norm Macdonald is that he will go the "blue," cringe-comedy route sometimes, but it has a point. He talks about Bill Cosby, how Cosby was one of his earliest influences. And, I've heard that before from Norm in interviews.

Norm discusses a conversation he had with a friend, where this guy noted that the worst part of all this was that Bill Cosby was a hypocrite. "I don't think that was the worst part," Norm retorts. And then, in that awkwardly-hilarious Norm style, he describes the worst parts.

Norm wraps it up with a bit looking at Caitlyn Jenner. This one falls flat, but has a great punchline. At one point, Norm mentions the LGBT community and gets confused on all of the letters, to laughs from the audience. I did that once in a podcast a couple years ago and had a member of that community get on me about it. My defense: "It's a joke! A lot more letters have been added lately and I made fun of that."

We'll add a couple extra videos this go-round. The first is Norm being interviewed by Larry King. He starts out asking Norm about the SNL 40th anniversary "Celebrity Jeopardy" skit that Norm helped write. It ends with Kenan Thompson doing a Bill Cosby impersonation. They originally wanted Eddie Murphy to do that, but he declined. 



The next one is a funny story that Norm told to David Letterman in the mid 90s about meeting Bill Cosby backstage at a show. It includes Norm's Cosby impersonation.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Clearing my head



It's been a hectic couple months. I don't know why - I haven't done anything. I've just been exhausted lately. I've been working a lot; typing a lot of words and whatnot. That's been fun. I've been with the newspaper now for 07 months. I'm slowly becoming a part of this community. People seem to know me now. I don't give out as many business cards as I used to; I guess I've met the majority of the people here that I need to.

When I realized it was June, I had to stop and think for a second - "Did I post any blog entries in May?" I went back and checked. I had posted one. That is my lowest output since I started my first blog waaaaaayyyyyy back in December of 2005. I have always posted at least one blog entry a month. My records here go back to early 2009.

I've experimented with posting at other places. Medium. Thought Catalog. Some assorted wrestling websites. My buddies over at Tricycle Offense. But I always keep coming back here.

I have a lot of ideas of stuff that I want to write, but I just haven't had the time or energy to get it started. I'll work on that.

* * *

I haven't made a trip back to Princeton see friends and family since February. I went in for my mom's birthday - February 7, 1964, the same day as the famous video of the Beatles arriving in America for the first time.

My original plan was to make the four-hour trip once a month. I moved here in November. I made the trip in December. Missed January. Managed it in February. And here we are in mid June without a return trip.

Working on correcting that. Possibly before the month is out. That will make my mom and a small handful of friends happy. The rest don't seem to care. Still internalizing how I feel about that. Were they really my friends to begin with? Ahhhhh, the fun stuff to ponder.

* * *

The podcast idea is still there. Looking at a possible late-summer launch date for that if everything goes according to plan. I'll keep everybody updated as that gets closer. I think it could be fun.

I've pecked around at the idea of trying to do a podcast for the newspaper here. Like, start with a roundtable discussion of the week's news and its repercussions, then go to an interview with somebody that one of us did. I think it could be fun.

I had the idea for it when I interviewed a 70-year-old ish town council member. We chatted for over half an hour, but barely 15 minutes of it was about the actual article. And right now, all of that fun content on my recorder is wasted just sitting there. So, I thought that idea would be something the people here would enjoy. 

We'll see if anything happens with that. If I had to go on a limb and guess, I would say that one will probably not happen. But one can still hope and try.

* * *

All for now. I have a few book and DVD reviews that I'll be posting soon. They're about professional wrestling, so there's your warning so you can avoid them if you'd like.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

New RHCP single is good



I'm digging the new song from the Red Hot Chilli Peppers, "Dark Necessities." It is off of their latest album, "The Getaway," which comes out June 17. 

I'm excited for this album. People compared their last album, 2011's "I'm With You" as being similar to 1995's "One Hot Minute" -- their worst albums. But, I like both of those. It seems as though the public didn't care for those albums because they were both different. 

Those two albums are similar in the way they're different, as both were the first after the exit of guitarist John Frusciante. "One Hot Minute" featured Dave Navarro and "I'm With You" was their first with Josh Klinghoffer, who had been a touring guitarist with the band previously.

I expect "The Getaway," the band's 11th album, to be fun. I'm really looking forward to checking it out.

Additional reading:

Top 25 Red Hot Chili Peppers Songs

Album review: Red Hot Chili Peppers, "I'm With You"

Tearjerker

Friday, April 22, 2016

Thought Purges

I've felt weird lately. I'm not sure how to explain it. Not quite myself? Different? I don't know. I've had trouble expressing myself lately.

* * *

I had ideas in my head recently to write two satirical pieces but the creativity and enthusiasm just wasn't there after that initial spark. So, I guess I'll just write about writing.

The first was going to be a piece looking at life after baseball for that Chicago White Sox player who retired after he was told to stop bringing his 14-year-old kid to practice every day. He talked about how much he loved his son and how that was worth more than the $13 million he was giving up. I just had this image in my head of them two weeks later sitting on the couch together watching tv, with the dad slowly looking down with this sort of disgust in his eyes.

I was either thinking of taking it that way, or going the opposite route and having the dad be obsessed with the kid and fast forward to when he turns 16 and gets his car and stops playing catch with his dad to start dating girls. The kid would be like "This is creepy, Dad" and he would be like "I GAVE UP 13 MILLION DOLLARS FOR YOU!!!"

The other one was about that NC "bathroom bill" transgender nonsense that's going on. Bruce Springsteen canceled a concert there and it was a big deal. Others followed suit. And more people did. It was like the law of diminishing returns. It's like a concert, you can't follow Springsteen. I thought it would be funny to write something about a band booking a gig in North Carolina just so they could cancel and get in the news. In my head, a band to the effect of Pearl Jam would be one to do this. Then I read a news article a few days ago about Pearl Jam canceling their NC concert. I was just in shock that I figured a band like Pearl Jam would cancel their concert, then they did.

* * *

I've been thinking a lot about life lately and where I'm at. Where I've grown, stuff like that. Facebook has that "memories" feature you can activate, where it will show you what you posted on that day throughout the years. A couple weeks ago, I realized that a pretty big event was coming up, based on where Facebook was telling me I was at in life. It was a very negative anniversary.

On Monday, Facebook told me "one year ago today, you posted this, which isn't necessarily telling the world, but it reminds you of said moment." And, knowing me, I'll talk about it eventually. Just not right now.

April 18, 2015 I was at a very low point. I remember the 19th and 20th not being good either. It was the start of a bad time for me.

April 18, 2016 I was sitting in my office writing newspaper articles. On the 19th I was given a breaking news assignment about a fire that killed some people and was given a lot of compliments about how I handled that. On the 20th I basked in that feeling of knowing I wrote some good newspaper articles.

A couple weeks ago I interviewed a United States Senator. It was something that had popped up in the days preceding. We didn't talk about anything important; it was mostly good p.r. for him than anything. I had to drive nearly two hours to do the interview. On the way up, I was mostly worried about where I was going and what I was going to experience. On the nearly 2-hour drive back, I got more reflective on my life and where it's gone.

It was a Monday. A year prior, I waited tables at Outback Steakhouse. I was in a very negative place. Outback has a NASCAR sponsorship and depending on how the Sunday races went, Monday was usually "Bloomin' Monday" which meant you got a free Bloomin' Onion appetizer. When things are free, it usually brings in a certain crowd. When things are NASCAR-related, it brings in a certain crowd. Combine the two, and Monday was never a pleasant day.

But that Monday was a great day, professionally and personally. I felt like I was doing something important. I felt like I was being treated with respect. And if you've ever worked in a restaurant or retail setting, you'll know that you don't often feel like you're doing something important, nor do you get that much respect.

* * *

I always roll my eyes when people announce on Facebook that they're going to delete a lot of their friends. At three different points in the last year, I went on unannounced friend purges. It took me a while to realize why my blog readership was down, even though I always tell people that my main goal for Facebook is to promote my blog.

Instead of rolling my eyes at the political views of people I went to high school with that weren't really my friends, or seeing baby pictures of former co-workers that I didn't even like, it's easier to just get rid of them.

On the other end of that spectrum, I realized that I was trying too hard to be friends with some people. Girls, mostly. Not like those creepy guys who like all of their pictures and leave vaguely sexual comments posed as a joke. But, like, trying to become friends with girls who I have hung out with at various points in my life. 

And, I realized that it was really a one-way street. Like, they were my friends. They were bad about responding to texts, but if we saw each other at a party or something, we would have a fun time. And the cycle would repeat itself.

Finally decided to say "fuck it," or as my iPhone would say "dick it" and just get rid of those friends. I know I'm doing better without those people in my life. But, it does feel sad that none of them have reached out to me. They won't notice that we're no longer Facebook friends for a while, but I stopped texting these friends as well. And I quickly realized that I always initiated the conversations. None of them texted me first to say hi or what's up.

Perfect spot for one of my favorite memes: a picture of a beluga whale whose fins make it appear as though he's shrugging with the caption "Oh whale." I thought it was funnier to describe it than actually post the picture.

* * *

That's all for now. I'll come back with something substantial at a later time.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

22 Years



22 years ago is the date of both when Kurt Cobain killed himself and when his body was actually found - April 5 and 8. I've written a lot about Nirvana and why I like there music in the past. Usually around this time of year. So, you can search the archives for that if you'd like.

Rolling Stone magazine posted on their twitter the original story they printed in June 1994, the first big expose into the final days of Cobain. Click here to see that. There have been several books and documentaries released over the last two decades as well. I actually have an "oral history" of Nirvana called "I Found My Friends" sitting on my coffee table that I haven't started reading yet that I need to check out.

Above is the last song that Nirvana ever recorded, "You Know You're Right." It has been alleged to have been written by Cobain about his marriage. It wasn't released until their 2002 greatest hits album was released. I wrote a review of that in my high school newspaper in early 2003. I haven't read that in nearly 13 years. I bet it's horrible.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

WrestleMania 32 Thoughts

I wasn't able to watch WrestleMania 32 live on Sunday night, so I avoided all social media and spent nearly five hours on Monday morning and afternoon watching on the WWE Network. This was literally the biggest WrestleMania ever. Held in the Dallas Cowboys stadium, WWE broke their all-time attendance record that was previously set at WrestleMania III. In 1987, Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant brought in 93,173. On April 3, 2016, WWE brought in 101,763 fans from around the world.

I don't know how I feel about the event. I'm sure there are people who like the idea of Roman Reigns being "the man" in WWE. Very few of them were among the 101 thousand in the arena. Like I told a friend when he texted me asking my thoughts, "As long as Vince McMahon is happy, I guess that's all that matters."

Being WrestleMania, there were a lot of legends there for the show. Shawn Michaels, Steve Austin, and Mick Foley drank beer in the ring with tag team champions - and current hottest act in the company - The New Day. That beer, by the way, was Steve Austin's own "Broken Skull IPA." In addition to hosting a podcast and two reality shows on CMT, he's also in the beer business.

The Rock showed up, which wasn't a surprise since he told us months in advance. What was a surprise was quickly ruined for me. He came out wearing a tank top and sweat pants, as he often does. Except, I noticed he was wearing wrestling boots and I saw the outlines of his knee pads under his pants at one point. 

So, the whole time Rock was standing in the ring hyping the attendance record, and then having a verbal confrontation with Bray Wyatt, I was just waiting for him to rip off the sweat pants and get to the reveal of his wrestling trunks.

He eventually did, wrestling a 6-second match against Bray's lackey, Eric Rowan. After a 3-on-1 mismatch, the returning hero John Cena came out to make the save. And, we had a "WrestleMania Moment" of two of the biggest stars ever in the ring together.

With the benefit of hindsight, I would have changed this up a little bit. Cena isn't quite ready to return from his shoulder injury, which is why he didn't wrestle on the show. Not having a match broke his streak of 11 consecutive matches at the biggest event of the year. We had a 6-second match; why couldn't that have been with Cena? Maybe a quick tag match? 

I was beyond disappointed with Dean Ambrose vs Brock Lesnar. I was hoping with my highest hopes that Ambrose would pull out the victory and become the top star that everybody except the WWE higher-ups see him as being. I know in their defense they're going to point to WrestleMania 13 and how Steve Austin lost his match but became a bigger star. There are some key differences: Steve Austin fought for half an hour and didn't get pinned or submit; he passed out due to blood loss. Austin also won matches before and after that - he won the Royal Rumble match two months before WM13! Ambrose was thrown around for 10 minutes and pinned easily, and he hasn't won a pay-per-view match in months.

Perception often becomes reality. We can see that Ambrose talks a tough game but doesn't get the job done. That's who he is now. That would be okay if he were a bad guy, but he's the hero.

AJ Styles lost to Chris Jericho. That was a disappointing blow. As soon as it happened, my thought was "This has to be one story in a bigger picture." As we saw from Monday Night Raw, he is now the new number one contender to the WWE Title. So, he's doing okay. And, if he becomes the champ, he has a ready-made feud with Jericho: "You're the champ, but I beat you in front of the biggest crowd in history."

I still will never comprehend why WWE had Jericho kick out of the Styles Clash on two different occasions. At least he finally got to beat him with it on Raw.

I have no clue why WWE feels like "I'm big, your little" feuds work. That was the impetus between Ryback challenging Kalisto for the US Title. It was forced and lame. The IC Title became a 6-man ladder match. Those should have been reversed. Let Kalisto, the small high flyer, do crazy things on a ladder and play to his strengths. Kevin Owens had a WrestleMania-worthy match and feud in place with Sami Zayn. Click here for background.

Roman Reigns vs Triple H... Hmmmm... Ummmm... I was actually pulling for Triple H to retain. That's how much I am not a fan of the "Roman Empire." I'm tired of him being pushed because he's tall, athletic, and a decent wrestler. There are other tall, athletic, GREAT wrestlers that WWE could put in that position that the crowd wouldn't shit all over.

With Undertaker vs Shane McMahon, I went into the match expecting a decent match with Shane jumping off the 20-foot Hell in a Cell structure. That's exactly what we got. In amateur wrestling, when somebody retires, the custom is to leave your boots in the middle of the ring. Some wrestlers have played with that idea, including Kurt Angle and Mark Henry during his amazing fake retirement speech. As I saw Undertaker sit on the edge of the ring and take his gloves off and throw them into the middle of the ring before leaving, I wondered if there was something to that. I've since read reports that some backstage WWE people are wondering the same thing as well. Undertaker was backstage at Raw the next night, but did not make an appearance.

A lot has been said about WWE pushing and relying too much on older, part-time talent. There will always be a place for a "nostalgia pop," especially on the biggest night of the year. But, it has been the case for several years now that those older stars are pushed at the expense of the young guys. I could go on about this, and maybe will at some point, but for now check out what Dave Sherer of PWInsider wrote about WWE's over-reliance on older talents. A preview: 
As those guys continue to get older, this generation has very few talents that ten years from now will be able to be put in the spots that The Rock, Steve Austin, Mick Foley, Shawn Michaels and even Chris Jericho were in last night.
That's all for now. Comments or questions about the biggest show in WWE history, feel free to leave them.