Halloween 2014

October 1, 2014

It is now officially October so, of course, I start to think a lot about Halloween.  The haunted houses and trails and mazes are opening to the public to scare the bejeezus out of them and pumpkins are showing up at grocery stores that are already flooded with candy.  All over the country people are sewing the finishing touches on their costumes and getting ready for all of the festivities.  I’m going to continue to get into the spirit myself as the days of this month continue to tick by.

Here in West Virginia, October came in rough and spooky with a huge thunderstorm big enough to force Brad and Janet to stop off at a creepy old house.  Of course, I sort of celebrate Halloween year round I just don’t advertise it.  I love most horror movies and I love the design of fake haunted houses and the lore of “real” haunted houses.  I love the imagery and the wicked, high energy feeling that I get when I know that Halloween is approaching.  True, I don’t really go to parties and I haven’t dressed up in years but I’m not into that stuff year around either.

If you read my blog (and you are right now. Hello!) then you will be seeing Halloween stuff throughout the month.  You may have already seen my review of Clownhouse but there are plenty of scary movies that I want to see and review.  It will depend on what I can easily get my hands on but I definitely have a wish list.  I usually skew towards the horror movies with a comic edge to them but some on my list are more dark and traditionally scary.

I will be continuing work on The Key, my own little ongoing horror serial.  I have yet to comment on The Key because I believe the posts should go by without comment.  The central theme of The Key is the struggle for control.  The thing that scares me the most in horror is the loss of one’s self or one’s self control.  When I read Grant Morrison’s Batman and Robin I was absolutely terrified by Grant Morrison’s Professor Pyg and his dollotrons.  A villain who transforms people into disfigured, mindless servants and the process is irreversible.  I shudder to even think about it now.

The other thing I am trying to do with the Key is to write an atypical protagonist.  A heroine who does not want to be part of her own story and regularly tries to check out of it.  Like Alice Hardy in Friday the 13th she only saves the day when she is forced to.  I really don’t want to talk too much about it because I feel like it takes the mystery out of the story.  I love writing it because it feels so different and exciting.

Other than that, I don’t know what may come but I’m getting excited.

Questing

September 28, 2014

As you can see, this is a little story snippet from my Untitled Fantasy Project. I’m still exploring the world and discovering the mythos on the spot.  It will be an interesting world to explore either in writing or if I ever run an RPG campaign in it.

*                                *                          *

Lao crawled out of the weather-beaten tent slowly on his hands and knees, he had never mastered the low crouch that was a slightly more dignified way to exit.  The sunlight hit his eyes like the savage thing that it was and he cringed and blinked and covered his eyes for a moment.   The moment stretched on until he heard Allendra clearing her throat and he drew his hands away from his face slowly.  There she was, sitting by the fire and giving him that same disapproving look she gave him every morning.  Thankfully she was still blurry so it had less impact which was always nice.

“I told you not to stay awake so long reading.” She said as she thrust a bowl of something tan and sludge-like into his hands.

He grunted and nodded and mumbled something about being sorry before starting to eat.  Everything started to come into focus as he got some warmth and food into his belly.  The first thing he noticed was Allendra’s golden hair blowing in the breeze and the second thing he noticed was that she had already put her armor on.  He knew that somewhere behind her back, her sword floated invisible and ready for action.

They were in the hills of northwest Altiria not far from Glassare Lake.  He could barely see the starting point of their journey, the Grand Spire of Cammarata, far in the distance.  The Lake of the Ancient Frost was definitely another marker.  In the lore, they said that the lake was left over from a massive magical ice storm a long time ago.  It was still a point of pilgrimage for people who took the spirit of ice into their souls.  If they were going to find a clue there, they would picking over ground covered by thousands of young people from year to year.

“It’s about time you got up.  Where are we going?  Which way is the map telling you?”  Allendra asked impatiently.  She would not sit down but Lao had rarely seen her rest so he was not surprised.

“It’s not that simple.  The map is written in three languages and one of them is almost dead.  The map referes to markers we’ve seen along the way.  You know, like the mark of the Fallen Soldier.” Lao explained.  He could tell by Allendra’s frown that it was not satisfactory.

“Yeah. I remember all of the symbols.  I am not just here to swing a sword.”

“And my sisters are Swords of the Throne and they taught me everything they know.” Lao said with a smirk, shovelling more of the gruel into his mouth.

“I never say that.  Who have you been talking to.” She was giving him a vaguely threatening but curious look.  It was important to be careful here.

He took the last bite of the gruel and started to scrape the bowl out as he chewed.  This was definitely not a stalling tactic.  Stalling could be dangerous against a woman like Allendra.  Sure she was charged by the crown with protectcing him but it was always better to err on the side of caution.  So this was definitely not a stalling tactic.  This was a moment to diffuse the tension and besides he belly was still grumbling.

“I studied up on you.  That’s what I do.  I study.  Information on you is freely available especially in a place like Cammarata where rumors are more abundant than water.”  He answered, depositing the mostly clean bowl and spoon into her pack.  She insisted on carrying the heavier pack which was just fine by him.  He was a city boy used to his lonely little library study and all of this walking was hard enough on him.

“Well, I guess that makes sense.  Zoe and Mabella are really famous and people are bound to run their mouths.  You’re not one of those people, right Lao?”  She gave him another pointed look and he could see the rising sun glint off of her armor.  Lao had been swallowing down half a jug of water and it was hard not to choke on it when she looked at him like that.

“Of course not.  I just make it my job to learn everything I can.  How else am I going to quantify our strengths and weaknesses out here?”

Allendra harrumphed. “You’re the weakness out here.  The sun’s already up and you’re barely mobile.”  She started to break down the tent as they talked.

“That’s only because I spent most of the night studying that map and the fourth and fifth symbols.  What’s your hurry?  I know I wish I was back in my comfortable bed but this is an epic quest, right?  We may be the first people ever to walk this path.”

“So far it’s been pretty tame, Lao.  So far it’s been a lot of walking.  I have trained my soul to fight evil and injustice and so far we have just been walking here and there through the countryside.”   She rolled up the tent and tied it to her pack.

“If this artifact is as important as I think it is, then other people might be coming after us.  If they get the map, they could tip the balance of the peace.”

“All the better for us to get going then.  If we’re going to save the world then we had better get there first. Right?” Allendra said as she shouldered her pack.

“You’re right.  We’re heading to the Lake of the Ancient Frost.  We’re going to find something that nobody has ever seen before.”

Allendra smiled and started walking toward the lake. “I like that confidence.”

Clownhouse (1989)

September 25, 2014

So it looks like it’s time to start the Halloween festivities early and the first stop on this year’s tour is the Clownhouse.  Hope you brought a change of underwear.

“I’m hoping for Killer Klowns but I’ll probably get Halloween Part 5.”

I really like cheesy horror movies with horrible effects and horrible writing.  I don’t like gross out horror movies or torture porn movies.   Killer Klowns from Outer Space is definitely a standout among all of the horror movies that I have seen.  It was cheesy but it scared the crap out of me when I first saw it.  On the other hand, I never liked Michael Myers.  It was drawn out with no humor and just seemed pointless to watch if you’ve already seen the Friday the 13th movies.  Once again, Halloween 3 is the only one I like.

“My brothers and I were assholes to each other when we grew up but this is ridiculous.”

A lot of the time when we were growing up my brothers and I could sometimes be utter dicks to each other and even got into some heated wrestling matches or outright fights.  Still, when the chips were down we begrudgingly backed each other up.  I would have never squealed on either of my brothers for wetting the bed or mocked a phobia.  Still, the dynamic is actually pretty believable given the kids ages even though I like to think I was a lot nicer to my younger brothers when I became a teenager.

“Aw man, I was hoping for a supernatural clown movie.  Basically Fright Night with Clowns.”

Fright Night is another great, cheesy horror movie with just enough thrills to make you shiver but enough comedy to let you go home happy.  Looking back I don’t know why I expected this to be a supernatural clown horror movie.  I was probably spoiled by Pennywise, Killer Klowns and Poltergeist.

“Eleven minutes in and the protagonist finally speaks after being in at least four or five conversations.”

The film seems to follow the youngest brother who already has a fear of clowns from a previous encounter.  The film begins with his nightmare and the camera seems to follow him the most.  However, he remains stubbornly silent for a good chunk of the movie.  He is really good at looking terrified though which he does often.  Most of the lines in the movie go to the oldest brother who is an asshole.

“The Scary Fortuneteller has a dead eye and looks kind of like Hatchetface.”

I’m pretty sure she added nothing to the film although there’s a chance it could pay off later.  She was not very scary even if fortunetelling is a real skill in horror movies.  The great part was that she reminded me of Mona “Hatchetface” Malnorowski which is fun.  It wasn’t Kim McGuire, though, I checked.  Still, great face for an old fortuneteller.

“Clowns are inherently creepy.”

They make a big deal of making the lead clown Cheezo act really creepy during their performance.  They don’t linger much on the other clowns but they’re not much better.  Something about the exaggerated movements and facial expressions and the unnaturalness of the face paint, I guess.  I started to wonder if the killers had already taken over the clowns’ identities.

“Ok Horror movie, you’re not supposed to evoke sympathy.  I’m not used to this.”

I suffer a lot from anxiety in public and especially anytime when I feel like I might be the center of attention or close to it.  If I was late to church as a teenager I would just not go rather than walk in and feel the stares of everybody around me.  I imagine that basically having a nervous breakdown due to being simultaneously confronted by clowns and public disgrace would have broken me permanently.  So I sympathize with the main character who is understandably distraught.

“You made me like the clowns before you kill them.  Thanks.”

The actors who portrayed the clowns are really, really good at being scary.  However, when we see them briefly during their downtime they are really fun to watch.  The lead clown is basically Ron Perlman with grease paint halfway removed from his face.  I honestly would have watched a movie about being in the circus starring these three clowns.  Too bad.  They must die.

“Kid terrified by clowns attracts killer clowns.”

Seriously, it must be like when you’re allergic to cats and all the cats want to say hello to you.   It doesn’t help that they take turns telling killer clown scary stories to further summon the villains.  Hurray for horror movie tropes!

“This movie is cliche city!”

The hero utters the phrase ‘We’ll be right back.’ several times.  A character keeps singing a song called ‘Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark’ which later comes out of a radio.  The protagonist spots the killers and when he tries to show his brothers they’re gone.  A character utters the line ‘Is someone in here?’ in a dark room.   Still, there’s a lot of fairly inventive stuff in the movie as well that I won’t spoil.  It just makes me roll my eyes but I guess it’s in a good way.

“So much good pantomime in this.  I’m starting to get legitimately creeped out.”

Great choice making the killers absolutely silent.  It could have ruined everything if they all acted like the Joker or Freddy Krueger.  Or it could have been awesome.  I guess we’ll never know.   The soundtrack adds a lot with semi-distorted circus music that makes my blood pressure spike a bit.

“Wow. Didn’t see that coming.”

I won’t spoil it but holy shit.  This just got real.  Oh wait, never mind no it didn’t.  Still, this is actually a great little horror movie.

“Shit did get real.”

Yeah, I tend to drop off from commenting somewhere in the last third of a movie if it’s any good.  It’s so easy to get sucked into a good movie.

All in all I would recommend this little horror movie to any of my fellow horror fans.  The movie gave me goosebumps but was just lighthearted enough that it wasn’t one note.  The child actors aren’t ridiculously awful and in fact show flashes of brilliance and actually help carry the film.  As I mentioned, the pantomime is really, really good and what is usually done for laughs ends up being legitimately scary.  In fact, they get a lot of their scares by appropriating comedy routines and twisting them into horror.  Of course, without the soundtrack this movie would not have been half as scary.   I watched the whole thing on Youtube so I know you can too.

Top 11 TV Shows On Right Now

September 24, 2014

Since I did this list two years ago, eighty percent of the shows I loved ended or were canceled or moved to Yahoo.  Thankfully television is a non-stop fountain of good (and bad) shows.  So here’s another Top 11 list excluding Pro-Wrestling.  (See Why I Love Pro-Wrestling for that)

1. Gravity Falls

Released by Disney, this cartoon is endearing and really funny.  The characters are so well rounded as well as intelligently written.  The jokes come fast and furious and the writers have a knack for hitting you with a quick tag after something sad or endearing happened that catches you off guard.  Speaking of endearing or sad, it’s not always the happiest show.  Sure, we’re not talking deep agony but characters get angsty, frustrated and angry at one another.  On top of that, there’s a complex X-Files like mystery arc going on in the show and often a mystery or paranormal happening of the week.

2. Meltdown With Jonah and Kumail

I have watched a lot of stand up shows since discovering them in the early nineties.  They usually consist of one comedian doing a long set or several comedians doing short sets, edited for television.  Most of the lesser known comedians stand in front of a backdrop  with their name on it.  This show is not that.  I am a huge fan of both Jonah Ray and Kumail Nanjiani separately from their podcasts and stand up routines.  They have put on a weekly comedy show in the Meltdown Theater in the back of Meltdown Comics for years.  Just recently they got a deal with Comedy Central to film it.  Short clips of the stand up acts are intercut with the comics hanging backstage and shooting the bull.  It’s really, really entertaining.

3. Rick and Morty

This show is absolutely insane.  It should be, it comes from the mind of Dan Harmon (Community) and Justin Roiland (Accomplished Voice Actor) who are long time friends.  I think I’ve mentioned how big of a Dan Harmon fan I am but I hadn’t really experienced much of Justin Roiland.  Justin Roiland plays the two leads, a boy and his mad scientist grandfather, and is an amazing voice actor.  He usually does high squeaky voices for his roles but in this he does a ten year old boy and mimics and embellishes Dan Harmon’s speech pattern to portray Rick Sanchez, mad scientist.  I can’t push this show enough.  It’s kind of an unexpected hit.

4. Once Upon a Time

I am a huge fan of fairy tales, myths and legends.  More than that, I’m actually a huge Disney animated films nerd.  So what happens when you take myths, legends, fairy tales, Disney and real life and throw it in a blender?  A show I binge watched the hell out of.  The novelty that sucks you in is getting to see your favorite characters in a different light (Bisexual Mulan, anyone?).   What kept me around was the great acting and compelling stories.  The story is that all of these legendary characters have been thrust into the real world and merged with mundane people.  The way the show operates is that each episode is divided between the present and a series of flashbacks.   The present scenes forward the central plot and the flashbacks help to flesh out the characters’ history.

5. Arrow

This show surprised the hell out of me.  When I heard that there was going to be a Green Arrow origin show, I thought that it would be like Smallville.  Smallville was often good but just as often it was “good enough”.  Smallville also often felt soap opera-ish and succumbed to the CW formula more often that not.  Arrow feels different.  It feels a lot more like the great work that’s being done by Marvel Studios and also the great work at DC Animated.  The show has been through so many twists and turns that I honestly do not know where it is going next.

6. Adventure Time
It feels like this cartoon has become a national obsession.  I know that it became an obsession of mine for a little while when I found out about the Marceline/Ice King storyline.  Tears nearly fell people.  The show is funny, weird, sad and exciting all at once or sometimes just in various combinations of the four.  It certainly does not hurt to have John DiMaggio voice one of the major characters of the show.  I have rarely seen a cartoon of this magnitude maintain such a consistent mythos that it can draw from.  Even so it’s very accessible for the first timer and there are several jumping on points.

7. Doctor Who.

The show that literally keeps reinventing itself to stay fresh.  I held off on writing this because I had not started watching the new series but now I am four episodes in.  It remains brilliant and an entirely different dynamic from the Matt Smith era and the David Tennant era or any era before it.  Peter Capaldi brings a lot of gravity and dry, dry humor to the character that it’s such a pleasant surprise when we’re hit with a bit of silliness now and then.   A lot of people claim that one Doctor is better than the other but I can’t decide.  It’s always shaky going from one Doctor the next but once you get a few episodes in you should be sold.

8. The Blacklist

James Spader is a very loveable asshole on this show.  Even though it is increasingly hard to tell who is a good guy and who is a bad guy, The Blacklist is an amazing show.  It has an ensemble cast but the show would have been nothing without James Spader.  I thought that this show would be just another procedural, just this time with the CIA instead of law enforcement officials.  On the surface, the Reddington character is very much like Richard Castle or Patrick Jane.  A maverick outside who eventually becomes accepted by the authorities because of how good they are at solving crimes.  Not so here.  After an entire season we are no closer to discovering if the central character is a good guy or a bad guy.  I really like that.

9. Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD
I am huge fan of the Marvel Cinematic Universe as created by Disney and Marvel Comics (although Disney only became involved a few movies into the process).  Since this show is connected to that universe, I wanted to devour it before it even hit the plate.  I was a huge fan of Clark Gregg’s Agent Phil Coulson from the MCU and he remains a huge selling point for the show.  The ensemble is strong but really keeps me coming back are the subtle and not-so-subtle connections to a greater universe.  To have Glenn Talbot or Maria Hill or Victoria Hand or any number of minor characters from the comics show up fleshes out a universe that is already getting pretty meaty.  This show has steadily gotten better as it has progressed and I suspect that will continue to happen.

10. Perception

This is your usual procedural like the ones I alluded to above where an outsider consults with law enforcement and helps them do a better job.  In this show, Dr. Daniel Pierce is a neuroscientist and an unmedicated schizophrenic.  Since we follow the character of Dr. Pierce, we are never quite sure what is real and what is brain chemistry.  The show’s strength relies mainly on Eric McCormack (aka the only person stomachable from Will and Grace) who puts in really strong performances.  He is assisted by a great ensemble cast.  Rachael Leigh Cook kicks major butt as a tough but loyal FBI agent named Kate Moretti who is also a major highlight of the show.

11. Grimm

Once again, I love fairy tales and myths and this show comes at them from a different angle than Once Upon a Time or most shows that I have seen.  This show posits that the creatures from the tales were always there among us but were able to hide their true natures from humanity and blend in.  The Big Bad Wolf is a clock repairmen down the street and the three little pigs are arson inspectors downtown.   Through the main character, a human who can see the true natures of these creatures, we see glimpses into a completely foreign society buried within our own.

Some that didn’t make the list:  
Community – because it left Television and is now an internet show .
Game of Thrones – because you root for somebody and then they die.
True Detective – because the season ended and I’m wary of how Season 2 will go.
Sherlock – I think of the series as mini-movies not television episodes. Excellent series though.
The Daily Show and The Colbert Report – It was hard leaving them off but they’re great.
Other shows – I either don’t like them or have not seen them yet.

Why I Love Pro-Wrestling Episode 10

September 22, 2014

Comedy!

I realized that I could really use a laugh after a long weekend after a somewhat uncertain week so that is today’s subject.  That realization made me realize the obvious fact that we could all use a laugh sometimes.  I will say right away that pro-wrestling is not my main source of comedy.  I have funny friends, funny family and funny co-workers to keep me laughing.  However, when I’m watching my wrestling shows, I like a little comedy there too.

The problem with comedy in pro-wrestling is that, according to the show’s internal fiction, these guys are at either at each others’ throats or allying with each other.  They are all fighting for the top spot so why would they stop and make jokes when their paycheck is on the line?  This is a valid point.  It definitely takes a light touch.  Just like any other comedy, the joke cannot be forced or clash with the fabric of the story around it.

The WWE (back when it was the WWF) ran into this problem with serious wrestlers like Bret Hart having to fight Doink the Clown.  Of course, much of the company had become pretty cartoony by that point.  This led to a backlash movement that quickly became the Attitude Movement where performers dropped the characters they were given and began to play characters closer to their own personalities.  Of course, the comedy continued and segments from Degeneration X, The Rock and Stone Cold Steve Austin were especially funny.

The WWE is definitely maturing in its comedy as the company ages.  Occasionally, the company will assume that poop and barf are comedy gold.  This is never ever true.  It was not funny when Betty White (yes, that Betty White) dosed Billy Gunn with laxatives.  It was not funny when Titus O’Neil barfed all over the announcers and ringside crew.  I know that little kids do watch their program and they do find barf, poop and pee funny.  Should we really cater to that?  Really?

There are plenty more examples of comedy that does not make me sigh or wish I was watching anything else.

Shawn Michaels returns to Degeneration X

Shawn Michaels and HHH have great comedic timing together and whenever they weren’t trying to kill each other they often teamed up as the leaders of Degeneration X.  This is the most polished of their work that comes to mind.  Sure they did a lot of funny stuff over the decades they’ve been together but for some reason this sticks out in my head more.

Enzo Amore and Colin Cassady

Enzo Amore continues to be the funniest person in mainstream wrestling today.  Everything he says makes me laugh and smile mainly because he just has great delivery.  He does some fun wordplay and purposefully pronounces names and words wrong.  With Big Cass by his side, his jokes will never be S-A-W-F-T.

Chikara Slo-Mo

I have mostly watched Chikara through Youtube which I feel a little bad about.  I should probably break down and purchase some DVDs to support the cause.  If there’s a funny pro-wrestling clip on the internet, it’s probably Chikara.  Since every wrestler in Chikara is a cartoon, they go to outrageous extremes in interrupting matches for comedy bits.  Everybody involved gets in on the act and it’s what fans pay to see so there’s no problem.

Chuck Taylor Scares Kids

This will never stop being funny to me.  The Kentucky Gentleman Chuck Taylor just loves scaring little kids in the crowd or sometimes he will just pick fights with them.  It’s not only funny but it goes a long way towards making him a funny heel.  He’s a villain in the way that Pete is a villain to Mickey Mouse.  He’s a villain because there has to be a villain but that doesn’t mean it can’t be a lot of fun.

Dance Off!

I discovered these a while back.  I have seen these dance offs between wrestlers mostly in Youtube clips from English promotions.  In the WWE they often do a dance off and the joke is that one person is great and the other one is obviously horrible.  Here, the match stops and the two (or more) performers bust out their moves and the fans decide.  Here we get to decide between Curry Man dance moves or AJ Styles’ nerdy dancing.

3MB Verbal Gaffe

Not much to say about this one.  The 3 Man Band was one of the best comedy heel teams of all time.  Thrown together on a whim, three young wrestlers made the most of it.  They really pushed their gimmick to the limit.  I didn’t even complain when they took the dwarf Hornswoggle on and (unofficially) renamed themselves 3.5MB.  Here we get a look at them being the goofballs we all knew and loved.

Seth vs. Mikey and Courtney

September 18, 2014

Alright, so this is the loose storyline that I spoke of in the Feminism post.  It’s not horrible but I’ve kind of lost interest in it.  I am writing a Courtney Valentine storyline but I don’t know when I will finish it.

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Week 1

<Back from commercial, the last of Mikey Collins’ music fades out.  Mikey and Courtney Valentine, a couple, stand in the middle of the ring and Mikey has his Television Title belt with him.  He grabs a microphone from the side of the ring and walks back to the center of the ring. He raises the microphone and just at that moment Seth Aron’s music starts.  Mikey drops the microphone to his side with a “Really!?” expression. Seth walks out on stage with his own microphone in hand and a smirk on his face.>

Seth: Oh Mikey, nobody cares what you have to say.  Let’s be honest with ourselves.  <By this time, Seth has moved to the middle of the entrance ramp. He winks at Courtney>  Hey Courtney, how you doin’?

Mikey: <Holding onto Courtney’s arm protectively> You stay away from her, Seth!  What the hell are you even doing out here?

Seth: I’ve come for your belt, Mikey.  I don’t think you deserve it.

Mikey: Come up here and prove it.

Seth: Gladly, Mikey.  Gladly.  But I just had a thought…

Mikey: What? You’re scared?

Seth: <A fake laugh as he climbs into the ring> Ha ha ha. <pause> Ho ho ho ha ha.  Hardly. You couldn’t beat me on your best day.  The truth is, I love to fight but more than that, I love to wrestle.  I don’t want to fight you, Mikey. I want to wrestle you.  I want to wrestle you for that belt. <He is closer to Mikey and points at the belt around Mikey’s waist>

Mike:  You’re not first contender… That’s not up to me. <Mikey backs off a little>

Seth: Who’s it up to, Mikey?  Her? <He pointed at Courtney who had been staying behind Mikey. He flashed her another smile> Looking good, Courtney.

Mike: You do not talk to her! Leave her alone! <He moved to charge Seth who moves out of the way and kicks Mike in the back of the knee before ducking out of the ring.  Courtney is checking on Mike who ignores her and shouts loudly without a microphone for Seth to get back in the ring.>

Seth: I’m coming for your belt, Mikey, and I’m gonna get it.

<Seth drops his microphone as his music starts up and he walks back up the entrance ramp.  Courtney tries to calm and comfort Mikey but it doesn’t look like she has much success as the segment ends.>

*                             *                                *

Week 2

<Courtney and Mike Collins are backstage.  Mikey is taping up his wrists and seems hyper focused on just that action>

Courtney: Babe, you need to calm down.  Your match is up next and you need to focus.

Mike: I just don’t like the way Seth looks at you. I think you need to stay back here.

Courtney: Mikey, you know I’m with you.  Forget about him.

Mike: Ok… I tell you what, he’s never getting a shot at my belt.

Courtney: Focus, Mikey.  You have a match up next. Alright?

Mike: Yeah.  Yeah, he’s not even worthy. <The segment ends as he starts taping up his other wrist a little more calm.  Courtney lets out an exasperated sigh as she pulls on her leather jacket.>

<Courtney walks Mikey out to the ring for a match with Curt Morris.  The match has gone back and forth but Mikey has kept an edge on the bigger man by utilizing speed and countering Curt’s power moves as often as he can. Courtney is cheering Mikey on at ringside as usual.  Seth Aron’s music hits and Mike turns to the entrance ramp to watch for him.  Seth jumps the guardrail on the other side of the ring and waves at Courtney, leaning against he apron to talk to her.  Mike turns around and sees Seth close to his girlfriend.  He goes to that side of the ring to yell at Seth to stay away from his girl.  By this time, Curt has recovered from a dropkick and turns Mike around and blasts him with the KO Punch and then hoists him up onto his shoulders and hits him with the Paycheck and gets the pin.>

<Curt immediately leaves with a grin and Courtney pushes Seth away from her and climbs into the ring to check on her fallen boyfriend who is totally out of it.  The last shot before commercial is Courtney looking over her shoulder at Seth before he smirks at her and climbs back over the guardrail to leave>

*                             *                                *

Week 3

<Mike walks to the ring with Courtney for his match but is constantly looking around. Even during the entrance of his opponent, Mark Hawthorne, he is still looking around for Seth>

Announcer 1: It looks like Seth Aron has really gotten into the head of “Mr. Action” Mikey Collins.

Announcer 2: Well, when another man is after your girlfriend, you have to be on your guard.

<The match begins and Mike starts focusing on the match more and more. After a while, Mike gets on a roll and it looks like he’s heading toward a win.  Suddenly, Seth’s music starts up and Mike looks around wildly, totally forgetting the match he is in again. Mark looks around but shrugs and pulls Mike in and hits him with a T-Bone Suplex before pinning him.  Seth is nowhere to be seen.  Courtney once again comforts her man in the middle of the ring.  Seth appears on the screen at the top of the entrance ramp.>

Seth: Hey, Mike, I couldn’t make it to the arena this week so I just wanted to drop you a line live via satellite.  You know, this can all end.  Give me the match.  Let me wrestle for that belt.  Think about it, Mikey. <The screen suddenly cuts off before the segment ends>

*                             *                                *

Week 4

<The segment opens to Mikey stalking down the hallway. He starts kicking open dressing room doors and looking inside, one after another.  Courtney is not with him.>

Announcer 2: Whoa!  What is he doing?

Announcer 1: Mikey Collins is completely unhinged.

Announcer 2: You have to ask, is this exactly what Seth wants?

<Mike kicks open a door and looks inside.  He pauses>
Mike: What the hell?

<The camera moves to shoot over his shoulder.  A sign is taped to the mirror in the dressing room that reads “Have you checked your girlfriend lately?”>

<Mike sprints back down the hall and the camera does its best to follow him into another dressing room where Courtney is doing her makeup>

Mike: Courtney!

Courtney: Mike? What’s going on?

Mike: You’re ok… I thought he…

Courtney: Mike… I’m fine.  You really need to forget this Seth thing.  He just flirted with me once.  I told you he doesn’t have a chance.

Mike: He needs to be taught a lesson.

Courtney: He’s just trying to get to you. Don’t you trust me?

Mike: <Taking too long a beat> Of course, baby.  I just don’t trust him.

Courtney: Whatever, Mike. <She frowns and shakes her head as he heads back out of the dressing room>

*                             *                                *

<Later in the show, Mike goes back to the dressing room from before and kicks open the door.  Before he can get two steps into the room he comes flying back out into the hallway.  Mark Hawthorne and Chris Carver step out of the dressing room.  They take turns kicking him in the stomach.>

Mark: You just entered the wrong dressing room, boy.

Chris: We’re gonna have to punish you. Grab a partner and meet us in the ring.

Mark: See you soon. <The two of them laugh evilly and step over Mikey on their way down the hallway>

*                             *                                *

<Mikey and Charlie Martin come out to the ring accompanied by Courtney.  With the beating Mikey took earlier, he and Charlie are underdogs against the Southern Soldiers.  Just when Mikey has the upper hand, Seth is seen at ringside bothering Courtney.  Mikey bails out of the ring but before he can get to Seth, Chris Carver cuts him off with a boot to the head.  At the same time Mark Hawthorne takes out Charlie Martin in the ring.  Seth watches as the Southern Soldiers destroy Mikey and Charlie and then grabs Mikey’s title belt.  He smirks at Courtney who slaps him.  The two of them lock eyes and Seth just smiles harder and takes the belt with him up the ram>

*                             *                                *

<Backstage, Courtney is pissed and Mikey is being tended to by the doctor>

Courtney: He embarassed you, Mikey.  He embarassed both of us.  I could have handled him but you had to leave the ring.

Mikey: I was just trying to protect you, Court.

Courtney: Protect the belt, Michael.

Mikey: He has it.  I’m going to get it back.

Courtney: Let it go, Mikey.  Let the lawyers handle it.

Mikey: Courtney, I –

Doctor: I need you to clear the room, he’s moving arond too much.

Courtney: Fine. <Courtney walks out of the trainer’s room without another word>

*                             *                                *

<Mikey walks out to the ring, his music playing loud but he doesn’t wave to the fans or look anywhere but at the ring.  He grabs a mic and rolls into the ring>

Announcer 1: Mikey Collins looks angry.

Announcer 2: You know what? I don’t blame him.

Mikey: Enough is enough.  Seth, you’ve ogled my girlfriend and you’ve ogled my belt. Now you’ve stolen my belt.  I want it back.  If I have to fight you for it then that is what I am going to do even if I have to kick your ass to do it.  This Sunday we’re live in my home town of Philadelphia and I want you in a Philly Street Fight. No holds barred.  Weapons are legal.  Falls count anywhere.  You won’t be smirking so much when I’ve broken your jaw.

<Seth’s music hits and Seth takes the stage, looking out at the ring and Mikey.  He is wearing Mikey’s Television Title belt>

Seth: Michael Action Collins. While your idea does sound fun and I would love to hit you with any number of weapons, what’s in it for me?  What’s in it for me, Mikey?  Either you put this title on the line or I walk away with it.  Think how that makes you look to Courtney.

Mikey: Whatever it takes to get my hands on you, Seth.  This Sunday I’m breaking your neck and earning that title back.

Seth: We’ll see, Michael. We’ll see.

<The show goes off the air with Seth raising the title belt into the air which cues his music>

<Philadelphia. The Jackpot pay-per-view event.  Seth’s music plays as he walks down to the ring with the belt and relinquishes it before waiting for Mikey.  He is his usual confident, borderline cocky self.  He makes a show of relinquishing the belt to the referee, bowing and scraping and trying to ensure its safety before Mikey’s music hits.  Mikey comes out with Courtney and storms down the ring, leaving Courtney to make here way by herself.  The match is brutal and the two hit each other with everything they can get their hands on.>

<Courtney stays out of the way, showing concern for Mikey.  After Mikey’s forehead is busted open by a chair shot, Courtney goes to him, yelling at him to stop the match.  He shakes his head and she kicks him hard in the groin with her boots.  A pained Mikey falls to his knees with a “Why?” expression on his face.  Courtney turns away from him and takes off the chain belt draped over her hips.  She hands it to Seth who wraps it around his fist.  He punches Mikey with the chain and then pins him easily for the win.  Seth’s music hits and although he’s bruised and sore, he escorts Courtney to the back>

Announcer 1: What did we just see!?

Announcer 2: Behind every good man there’s a good woman and now there isn’t one behind Mikey Collins.

Why I Love Pro-Wrestling Episode 9

September 11, 2014

In this modern world we live in, despite what conspiracy theorists might say, we live in a world full of freedom.  As a consumer, we have freedom of choice.  As long as we have the money then we can buy whatever we want.  We are adults.  Ice cream for breakfast? Done.  Bacon on that burger?  Done.  Of course, this freedom of choice can sometimes come with what I call “the paralysis of choice”.  “How can I choose between one hundred different shampoos?”  This can be tough and requires shopping around.  The upside?  If you don’t like something there’s a lot of competition out there to check out.

I have definitely sampled a lot of wrestling and I’m always interested to check out companies that are new to me.  These are the companies that I have seen and I continue to search out more and more.  I have not watched really any of the Japanese or Mexican promotions.  I want to though.

MCW Maryland Championship Wrestling

The state of Maryland is near and dear to my heart.  It makes sense that I should throw some love to MCW, a local treasure.  The company has been around in some form or another for a long time and a lot great performers have passed through there.  They continue to have great independent wrestlers while playing host to big stars to draw crowds.  It does not hurt that I am a huge fan of Justin Shlegel, 98 Rock personnel and royal adviser of Ryan McBride.

Covey Pro Wrestling

I have seen exactly one episode of Covey Pro Wrestling but it felt pretty fun.  As I said on twitter, this one is country as hell.  The episode I saw was staged in a high school gym but the performers looked dedicated and hard working.  There were no real high spots or anything flashy.  It was old school, hoss wrestling but sometimes that can be nice.  This promotion serves West Virgina, Maryland, Pennsylvania and I think Virginia.

ROH Ring of Honor

The biggest independent promotion in the country.  They are funded by Sinclair broadcasting and they hire only the best talent from around the country and internationally.  They have a weekly show and regular internet payperviews.  They are the most polished of all of the organizations below TNA and WWE.  In fact, both companies regularly raid ROH for talent.

TNA  Total Nonstop Action

The second biggest promotion in the United States (and maybe the world?) behind WWE.  They seem to hire a lot of ex-WWE wrestlers but they have done a pretty good job over the years of generating their own talent or hiring from ROH.   They were revolutionary back in the day but when they sold the company to Dixie Carter the company started to go downhill.   The booking often doesn’t make sense and some of the gimmicks are really stupid.  Still, the perfomers have heart and I still find myself floating back to it after quitting it in disgust.

CHIKARA

CHIKARA is silly as hell.  It has goofy over-the-top performances and cartoon characters as performers.  I have not seen a whole lot of their product but the matches are often dynamite.  The comedy is often mixed into a highly technical match with amazing athleticism.  Besides, there are few other American promotions that I know of that can stop a match in the middle for a dance off between the competitors.  There is no other promotion who has hired both Bob Saget and Dave Coullier to be in story authority figures.

 
Or you could dig up some archives of other defunct promotions some of which are on the WWE Network. (Only $9.99/month!)  These would include WCCW, WCW, ECW and Smokey Mountain Wrestling.

Bonus Honorable Mention:
Wrestling Society X

I actually really liked MTV’s wrestling show back in the day.  The production values were amazing (including special effects which were so bad they were good) and the wrestling was pretty top notch.  Unfortunately they made Vampiro their champ but nobody’s perfect.  You can still find all of it on Youtube.  Check it out.

Double Bonus Mention:
NXT
NXT is unfortunately only available on the WWE network but it is the one show that I definitely do not miss each week.  It’s WWE’s farm league basically but they push the boundaries and try a lot of wacky and fun stuff on there.  The women’s division on NXT is the best I have seen.  There is a lot more comedy that is a lot less forced.  Besides, it’s got Enzo Amore who is quickly becoming one of my favorites.

My Music Collection Episode 3

September 9, 2014

Episode 3: “Let’s Go”

Once again, here are some songs that I like and a short explanation.  Pretty much any post on my blog where I espouse my opinion is because that’s my opinion.  If I do not mention liking something, I either don’t like it or have not experienced it.  I try to expand my horizons regularly but there’s only so much content in the world.  This time around here’s a list of songs that really get me going and usually I am soon singing along in the car.

“Cherry Bomb” by The Runaways

I recently rediscovered this song thanks to Guardians of the Galaxy and Warehouse 13 but it’s a great song on its own.  It is definitely a precursor to both Joan Jett’s punk/proto-metal and Lita Ford’s heay metal careers but it is officially classified as “Hard Rock”.  The driving guitar riffs and baseline get it started. However, it’s the way that Joan Jett sounds like rebellion on the mic as she dares you stop her that I think is awesome.  I often hit this song at the start of a roadtrip but I feel it’s ruined if I hit a traffic light.

“Love Bites (So Do I)” – Halestorm

I am a sucker for a drummer counting down.  I can’t explain it, I just love when a drummer counts down and the band launches right into a rocking tune.  The guitar riff feels like a revving engine as we get into the song, raising the energy levels.  Then Lizzy Hale starts singing.  I have to admit, I have a crush on Liz Hale.  She’s beautiful but I have a crush on her for her voice and her attitude.  She belts out heavy metal songs with power and range usually reserved for opera singers.  Best of all, she really sounds like she’s having vindictive and vicious fun with the song.  I like the sudden tempo changes without losing any of the song’s momentum.  Just so much fun.

“Unsettling Differences” – Blue Smock Nancy

This is a great song to get myself fired up if I am in a bad mood and I want to embrace the anger for a little bit before I let it go.  This song was written as the entrance music for Kevin Steen and it oozes menace, The drums at the top say it’s time for action and then the lead guitar and rythym guitar kick into a higher gear.  I like the contrast between the chant like tones and the little screaming accents.  The band calls itself Metalcore for the Misanthrope and that is a huge bullseye.  I think this sort of music isn’t for everyone but give it a try anyway.

“My Medicine” by The Pretty Reckless

I like how this one starts low with just Taylor Momsen’s vocals and the guitar hitting out the same rythym it will keep through the whole song.  I often listen to this song to start off a rough morning because it eases in to the hard rock.  The driving beat gets my feat moving and gets me into the literal rythym of my day sometimes.   This band has a dirty, angry feeling to it which points to an influence from Garbage (the band, it’s a good thing).   It almost feels like Momsen doesn’t want to sing at first, lighting a cigarette and taking a drag at the beginning of the track but channels that into the song.

“Scream” by Avenged Sevenfold

This song literally got me going as it was set as my alarm for a while.  Nothing gets you going like hearing a human scream in the wee hours of the morning.  This is just a good, growly hard rock song with violent imagery usually reserved for heavy metal.  The guitar riff is definitely different and the higher pitched riff sounds almost like it’s something being played backwards.  The lower guitar riff keeps the driving beat along with a great drummer on target.   I would love to call this heavy metal but I guess the borders between genres have blurred too much.  This is hard rock that gives me heavy metal feelings.  Enjoy.

Feminism

September 7, 2014

A couple of months ago, I was writing a storyline for my fake wrestling company.  I may finish it and post it here but I hit a major snag with it.  The gist of the storyline was that a male performer was stalking a female performer and her boyfriend kept defending her.  At a key point, the woman betrays her boyfriend and sides with her stalker.  Finally the two guys have a blowoff match in which the boyfriend gets his revenge on both of them.

The snag I hit was that I was suddenly very uncomfortable with the woman (Courtney Valentine as names are important) just being a macguffin in the story.  When I saw and heard the character in my head, she was way more dynamic than that.  I could feel her frustration at not getting to fight for herself, her voice falling on deaf ears.  I also felt really weird about her falling for her stalker even though the stalker (Seth Aron) had no actual designs on her.  He just wanted the boyfriend’s (Mikey Collins) title.  It just felt wrong.

Now that I have had time to think about it more, I think it reflects some measure of growth that I’ve experienced in the past few years.  I have been exposed to feminist artists and figures through my travels through the internet for quite some time.  It has really had an effect on me and it took a while to realize how deep the roots had gone.  I have always respected women but my eyes have been opened to just how different a woman experiences the world.   Everybody should take a few moments to look around and realize the way the world works and how it needs to change.

I am proud to call myself a feminist.  You do not need to be a woman to be a feminist.  You don’t have to be any specific thing to be a feminist.  All you have to do is believe that all people should have equal rights and equal respect.  It is not about putting men down, it’s about raising everybody to the same level.  We are all human beings and we should all be treated as such.

Now, I am not saying all of this for my benefit.  I am not a White Knight, riding to the rescue of Women’s Rights.  They don’t need my help.  I am not a “nice guy” who is only being nice and saying the right things for some girl to reward me with her favor.  I am an asshole who has realized that while I’ve never disrespected women, I was not part of the solution.  If you’re not part of the solution, you are part of the problem.

So that’s pretty much it.  I’m a feminist and women, men and everybody in between deserves to be treated with the respect they deserve.  I could go on and on about all sorts of sexist things that grind my gears but I’ll just throw down some links to people I respect.  These are the people who opened my eyes.  I urge you to seek out more of the same. Thank you for reading this.  It may not have been perfect but it was honest.

Links:

Jessica Williams setting us straight

She does it again

A story from Starline Hodges, an artist I admire

Imran Siddiquee

Cracked sets the record straight

Beyonce on feminism

Kate Leth on sexism in geek culture

The Key Pt. 3

September 1, 2014

(Click for Part 1 and Part 2)

Shadows. Chaos. Danger. Remember these words.

When Robin awoke or came to or whatever, she was sitting opposite the strange beetle man thing. She instantly shrank back against the seat and tried not to look in his eyes again. She felt still, so terrifically still like she would never move again. Not that she could not but she would not move even if she really wanted to. There was a profound difference between the two that she would have difficulty explaining to somebody.

On the edge of memory there was something she was supposed to remember. Maybe it was more than one thing. Maybe three? Her head throbbed with the pain of what felt like a hell of a migraine. Out of the corner of her eye she aw a bottle of whiskey which was only half full. She could taste it on her tongue and there was a glass nearby with her lipstick on it. The evidence was mounting in support of a hell of a hangover tomorrow. Robin remembered none of it. It hadn’t been her lips that touched that cup, had it?

The beetle thing stared at her. She could feel his gaze on her skin and it repulsed her. Where was her purse with her tazer. The mace probably wouldn’t work. At least, that’s what she thought when she pictured those beetle eyes.

“Are you ready to begin now?” It asked.

Its eyes blinked audibly and just for a moment Robin looked at it and then looked away. She had seen herself in shiny surface of its eyes. She looked around and saw only an empty bar around them. Her heart started to beat hard and fast again. She tingled all over. She guessed it was from all the quick deep breaths.

“Where is everybody? What did you do?” She asked.

“Oh. It is you again. She said it would have to be you. The bar is closed. I have done nothing. We have simply talked until the bar closed. It closed twenty of your minutes ago.”

“Oh God.” The thought hit her like a shock of cold water. Had she been gone so long?

It cocked its head to the side and stared hard at her. She realized her gaze had been drawn back to look at him almost against her will. “We do not have much time. The spell must activate. The die has been cast.”

“Who’s coming? Wait. Who is she? Who am I when I’m not me?” She could feel hot tears on her cheeks. She spent so much time trying to ignore the blackouts that doctors could not explain but now she was close to figuring it out. She was so close to the answers inside this beetle man’s skull. She had not realized how much she wanted to know the truth. It was like a fire in her chest. Though, maybe that was something else. The fire was too hot. She trembled with the force of it.

“There is no time. She has activated the spell already. Give me your arm.” It said in a forceful tone as it reached for her. Robin was so overcome and startled that she did not even flinch. As he touched her, the fire within felt like it was expanding toward her skin. It felt like it was fighting to come out of her.

She looked down as a tattoo crept across her skin. The pain was like a thousand paper cuts being slowly coated with iodine. Her eyes watered but she was sure the tattoo was of a great dane. The Mark of the Hound he had called it. As it walked off of her skin and onto its hand, she could feel the fire and the searing pain subside. She slumped back into her seat as she watched the hound crawl up into the sleeve of its trench coat.

Suddenly a sickly smell filled the air. It smelled almost like the mix between vinegar and rot and something else she could not identify. A fine black mist started to stream from the beetle man’s pores and then its eyes and mouth and nose. At first she thought the beetle man was screaming but the screams were coming from the mist itself.

The beetle man was smiling and it looked so at peace. If she wasn’t so confused and afraid she might have been happy for him. It was a him now and not an it. His brown eyes opened and he was human. His gray mottled skin gave way to a rich brown, revealing what looked like somebody of Indian descent but it was hard to be sure.

The screaming mist floated up into the air for a moment and then streamed toward the ceiling with purpose. It slipped out of sight and Robin decided this was a problem for a future time. For now her body shook with exertion and there was a strange man with a magic tattoo somewhere on him sitting there. To say the least, this was the strangest night she had ever experienced.

“Where am I?” He asked, rubbing his eyes and looking around. He had no accent and then she felt embarrassed that she was surprised by this.

“Anne’s Eyes Pub on Bond Street. Don’t you know?

“Lady, I have no idea what’s going on. I just know that it’s time to go home. My head hurts and I have no memory of how I got here or anything else for a bit. I probably drank too much. I’ll get out of your hair and grab a cab home. You should probably do the same.”

“No wait. Don’t go. You have to explain what’s going on.”

“What’s going on? I just told you that I don’t know what’s going on. The bar is closed and it’s time to go home. That’s all I know. You’re freaking me out the way you’re looking at me. I’m out of here.” He stood up so fast that even Robin was dizzy. He was halfway to the door before she could even open her mouth again.

“Please. I need you to tell me who I am.”

He turned only slightly, looking over his shoulder. His trench coat swung slight with the motion. “Lady, I’ve never met you before.”

He slammed through the door and left only a jingling bell and Robin with her head in her hands.


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