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.

Why I Hate Pro-Wrestling Episode 1

August 24, 2014

Just kidding, I love it but there are some things I hate about it.  Let’s talk about them from time to time. Shall we?

Dangerous Behavior

Last episode I talked about sports entertainers purposefully putting themselves in potentially career-ending or life-ending situations.  This can be exciting and, in the right arena, it can mean a higher box office or ratings.  (I exclude pay-per-view buyrates because under the current system they barely still exist.)  I worry about the performers when they do this but I know that they plan these things out and should be alright as long as a mistake isn’t made.

The problem is that an accident isn’t the only way somebody can get hurt in or out of the ring.  When a performer gets injured the industry suffers, the performer suffers and we all suffer.  When Dolph Ziggler suffered a concussion he spent months recovering and all that time the company was down one talented performer.  The same thing happened with Daniel Bryan’s ongoing neck surgeries.  His momentum was killed and we’re left wondering when he’ll be back.  That is if he returns at all.

Edge (Adam Copeland) had so many neck surgeries he had to retire in his late thirties but at least he was still walking.  Darren Drozdov was injured and left in a wheelchair for life.  Owen Hart fell several stories to his death in the middle of the ring because of a stunt gone wrong.   The lists of performers goes on and on those are all just from accidents.

Performers can hurt each other or themselves for a multitude of reasons and none of them are good.  I like my Pro-Wrestling more fake than real so that the performers that I enjoy get to have long, fruitful careers.  Here are some of the horrible reasons that wrestlers get hurt besides accidents.

1: The performers are angry at each other in real life

Most performers seem to be alright with keeping their emotions in check while they are in the ring.  Most of the time when performers hate each other, this sort of combat is done outside of the ring.  The only way we hear about it is through rumors or years later when they do documentaries on it.  It probably happens a lot more in the independent promotions where conditions are worse.   Since it’s easier to get fired this way, most people seem to decide against scrapping backstage or just don’t report it.  Besides, it’s embarassing for people to find out you lost a real fight.

Bret fought Shawn for real backstage and even ripped some of his hair out.   

Jacques Rougeau punched Dynamite Kid’s Teeth out.

Blue Meanie was given a hellish blackeye by JBL.

Which resulted in Meanie’s good friend Stevie Richards getting in a chair shot later.

2: Trying to prove their worth

Trying to hold onto your spot seems to be one of the hardest things to do in wrestling.  The only thing harder is trying to get to a higher spot on the card.  This causes young performers to try their hardest to nearly kill themselves for a shot at the big time.  If they don’t get too injured it sometimes works…. unfortunately.  When these tactics work, it encourages the next young guy or girl to nearly kill themself for their big break.  It worked for the examples below but it probably did not for countless others you will never hear about.

Mick Foley took the Nestea plunge onto concrete

Chris Jericho wrestles with a broken arm

JT Smith intentionaly screwed up moves for attention (No video)

3: People working stiff

Some performers are known for “working stiff” which means that their strikes and maneuvers are done as real as possible.  When they work this way means that they are actually laying into their opponent pretty much as hard as they can.   Most of them do it because it looks better or because they want to test their opponent.  This has a tendency to make the other person work stiff to keep from being steamrolled.  This turns a fake fight into a real one really quickly.  The business tends to give these guys a pass because they legitimize the product but it’s still dangerous.

Vader and Misawa being Stiff as Hell

Mick Foley getting a ligament torn in his jaw

Ultimate Warrior also worked stiff

Skyfall

August 19, 2014

I finally sat down and watched Skyfall.  I wrote thoughts down as I watched the movie and I’ll share them with you.  Fair warning: I am probably going to spoil a lot.  Maybe.  Wait a second, I’m reading ahead.  Yep.  Sufficiently spoiled.  You have been warned but this is why I tend to review movies that have been out for a few years.  That and I’m often behind on seeing things since I always have a long list of things I want to watch.

First, a few words on James Bond.  I grew up with James Bond movies.  I  haven’t seen them all but there’s twenty of them so I think I can be forgiven.  Octopussy came out when I was one but the first Bond film I saw was From Russia With Love.  I loved it and I loved all of the older Bond films that I saw.  When Golden Eye came out, I embraced Pierce Brosnan as the new Bond.  Golden Eye is really fun and brought Bond into the Information Age.  Unfortunately his other three films got progressively worse.  It felt like the same decline from Burton’s Batman to Schumacher’s Batman.  I think Casino Royale can be seen as equivalent to Batman Begins.  They rebuilt the franchise from the ground up and fixed a lot of what had gone wrong in tone.

Anyway, let’s get to my random comments.

“Three minutes in and… Holy Shit that’s an awesome gun.  A little silly but hell, I want to shoot one.”

The henchman that Bond was chasing had a full automatic handgun.  Like Elliott Spencer, I hate the existence of guns but unlike Elliott I kind of love to shoot them in a shooting range.  It’s hard to explain how a person sworn to non-violence could come to love shooting a gun.  I guess it goes back to riflery classes in summer camp.  It’s also the same visceral feeling I get from shooting my bow.  Besides, an inanimate target doesn’t count.

“… Roll end credits.”

Having the main character get shot by a sniper before the opening title is pretty startling.  Everybody immediately writes him off even though he has survived horrible torture and danger in two previous movies.  It makes sense but it ends up being ridiculous later.

“Oh shit, I forgot Adele sings the theme. Mute.”

It should be clear here that I do not like Adele’s music.  I generally don’t like slow ballads at all and she does poppy ballads that were overplayed on the radio.  My patience got worn out pretty quickly.  I did mute the title sequence but I did enjoy the imagery.  It’s always a fun, trippy sequence that leaves lasting symbols usually in my sub-conscious since my conscious mind seems to forget it as soon as it’s done.

“Why are all movie hackers prone to creating goofy animations and/or video packages?”

I’m not a computer expert by far.  I’m above average for the people I know but definitely below my IT expert friends.  However, I am an animation aficionado and an artist.  Movie hackers always seem to attach some flash animation to taunt their target.  It seems kind of petty actually but I suppose that’s the point.  For reference see Jurassic Park, Independence Day, Hackers

“Wow drinking games just got Nintendo hard.”

The scorpion drinking game was impressive.  At least, I hope it was a drinking game.  It shows how bad-ass Bond is but also shows how far down the hole he has gone.  It’s a pretty simple way of showing us in a few seconds how unstable the man has become.  Of course, justifiably feeling betrayed by the country you gave your life to can shake your worldview and mental health as well.  ‘Nintendo Hard’ is a term referring to how impossibly difficult old NES games were.  See games like Ghosts and Goblins and Contra and broken TV sets across the country.

“I love you Judi Dench. You earn that paycheck.”

She really does.  She’s been excellent in these three Bond films. I’m also paraphrasing a joke made regularly by Cinema Sins.  I am a horrible thief sometimes.  I blame my training at Rutgers.

“Um. Why is he briefing Bond as he’s taking his tests?  What if he fails the last one? Then they have to kill him?”

This struck me as weird.  Sure they all expect Bond to pass his tests and this to save time but what if he doesn’t?  Also, he doesn’t pass the tests.  He only gets reinstated because he’s Bond.  It becomes clear pretty quickly that he is not passing the tests.  Shut up about national secrets until he’s reinstated already.

“Don’t cock it up is probably what all new directors of James Bond movies are told.  You cocked it up Lee Tamahori.”

I could not resist an admittedly cheap shot at the director of Die Another Day.  Pierce Brosnan started off as a good Bond but they cheesed up the whole thing.  The movies kind of ran together for me.  As somebody who prides himself as being able to remember plots and characters with high accuracy this is troubling to me.  It means something when I can’t sort out the Bond films between Golden Eye and Casino Royale.  A few scenes later and Q basically explains why the Craig bond films are better than the Brosnan ones.

“Sexy mood lighting is go.”

The lighting and cinematography in this movie are really good.  You can see everything when you need to see it  and there are a lot of very pretty yet understated shots.  The scene in question in particular was incredibly intimate with darkness punctuated by neon signs.  It was just confusing enough to convey how confusing the room was for Bond.

“Wait, go back.  Why are we in floating lantern world? Oh for gambling.  OK I’m caught up.  Spy shit going on with the casino chip. Cool.”

I legitimately got lost here for a minute or two because Craig’s Bond doesn’t have a lot of dialogue to explain things.  I’m fine with it, it just took me a bit to catch up.  I probably got distracted too.

“Hi, I go around announcing my real name to everyone.  I’m the best secret agent ever.”

I always thought it was kind of weird that James Bond casually tosses his name everywhere he goes.  Even if it’s not his real name, he uses the same alias everywhere he goes.  He almost never uses a fake name when introducing himself.  It seems a little overconfident.

“I kind of like intense Raccoon Lady.”

The quasi-villainess, ‘Bond Girl’ whose name passed me by was really quite good.  I called her Raccoon Lady because of the heavy eye-makeup she wore.  She was intense and confident and fairly well-rounded for a Bond Girl.  She doesn’t stick around too long but she was fun while she lasted.

“Surprise, I’m in your shower and that’s not my gun poking you.”

If anybody besides Bond slipped into a lady’s shower fully naked, they would be kneed in the crotch and in handcuffs so fast.  Of course, here she could have had him shot in international waters.

“Hello, Javier Bardem, I forgot you were in this.  It’s weird to hear you speak but you seem cool.”

He really makes this movie.  I refer to his silent and brilliant role in No Country for Old Men which is the only other movie I’ve seen him in.  According to IMDB he was in Collateral but he wasn’t memorable.  He is funny, creepy and almost so intelligent that you find yourself agreeing with him during his first few scenes.  He reminded me of Ricardo Montalban in Wrath of Khan.   He was an epic, intelligent and batshit insane villain.

“Nope. Nope.  This whole thing has a Phillip Seymour Hoffman in MI:3 vibe to it.”

I was right.

“Hopefully Q will get smarter.”

He would probably be the first to agree that he makes a boneheaded play here.  At least for somebody who’s supposed to be as brilliant as he is supposed to be.

“Oh did I forget to comment for awhile?  This movie must be really good.”

At some point I got completely sucked into the film.  Journeying to the Bond estate in Scotland was excellent.  I want to learn more about their family but we know how much that is a whole set of scars for Bond.  He might not be talking about it anytime soon.  The movie just continues to be great and ends perfectly.  This might not have been one of my favorite movies but this was one of the better Bond films.

The Toughest Frail Pt. 2

August 16, 2014

The coffee was good at Sullivan’s.  It was rich with a hell of a kick where most other places in the area  served liquid chalk or something burnt at the bottom of the pot.  The coffee was good but the company was not.  Sure I liked Captain Hagher well enough but the man was a top brass policeman and was usually more of an obstacle than he was assistance.  Even if the Captain believed him about not having anything to do with the murder, there was still a tension in the air.  Harper had two standard moves in a tense situation and one of them involved pulling his gun.  So, he lit a cigarette.  Nice guy that he was, he lit the Captain’s too.

“Harper, I have a problem.” The captain said after a long drag on his cigarette.
“We all have problems, Hagher.  What’s your problem specifically?”  Harper

“Besides a private dick who thinks he’s smarter than he is?  I have your card in a victim’s pocket.  That’s what we call a lead.  You say it doesn’t mean anything.  The cop in me says different.  Care to comment?”

“I told you out there.  She was a client but her case was closed.  All that was left was the billing and I’d be crazy to take out a client before they paid.”

“What was the case, Harper?”

“Hey, I’ve got a little bit of ethics, Hagher.  She may be dead but it was her business.  Show some respect.”

“That’s cute, Harper.  I don’t think you even know how to spell ethics.  You’re a private dick, a gun for hire.  Just tell me what there is to tell.” The Captain said with a sneer.  It made me clench my fists under the table.

Now I had a problem there because I do have ethics.  I do have a personal code and I tend to stick to it even when I’m hungry and it would be so easy to betray my clients.  My problem was that two blocks away there was a frail laying in the street and somebody put her there.  In the end the dilemma was easy.  Dames win every single time.  I wasn’t about to let the Captain know he’d won so easily though.

“Alright, Hagher, you’ve got my back against the wall.  I’ll talk.” I said with a growl.

He smirked as if he had won something and leaned back and sipped from his second cup of coffee.  “I knew you’d come to see things my way, Harper.  So spill.  I’ve got a murderer to catch.”

“I realize that but if I empty my guts, I want in.” I fixed him with my hardest stare to show I meant business.  My wallet was pretty thin at the moment with almost no hope of resuscitation.  Truth and justice for this lady was fine and good but my landlady takes paper money.

“You want in?  Well, I’ll see what I can do, Harper.”  Something about the way he stumbled over his words made them less than honest to me.

“I’m in or I’m out, Hagher.”

“You spill or it’s handcuffs for you.”

“If I’m not in then handcuffs it’s got to be.”

“Damn it, Harper.  Don’t do this.  You know they got me by the balls with the budget.”

I leaned in slowly wand looked him the eye.  “Don’t tell me not to do something, Hagher.  I will do it.  I’m doing it now. Put me in.”

The was a long drag on his cigarette and a sip of coffee.  He repeated both again after an exasperated sigh.  There was a glare and deathly silence.  I tried not to show my enjoyment.

“You’re in but only to save me paperwork and because my detectives are overworked.”

“Hire better detectives and you’ll close more cases.” I said with a smirk.

“I’d love to hire better detectives, Harper, but I’m hiring you.  Now spill so you can get to work.”

“She’s a high class little number from Iowa, made her way east and brushed off the dust to make it in the big city.  She gave me that much for free but didn’t much talk about herself.  She hired me to follow her husband around to see what piece he was getting on the side.  I found her husband with a sweet woman on the west side of town.  I let her know and gave her my bill.”

“That’s it? Geez, Harper, it wasn’t exactly worth the wait.”

“Well, as long as I’m on the case now I’m going to go question her husband.  I would think that would be obvious.”

“Trouble with that, Detective, is that her husband is the other victim.  Dead on a bed in the Biltmore Hotel.”

I blinked. “He’s what?!”

The Berkeley County Youth Fair

August 10, 2014

So yesterday I went to the Berkeley County Youth Fair which was something I usually would not do.  I mean, it’s been a long time since I’ve been to a fair.  In fact, I might never have been to a county fair and definitely not a youth fair.  I have been to the Maryland State Fair but that was over a decade ago.  I got off work yesterday in the afternoon and, after a pontoon boat joyride with my brother and his friends, we planned our trip to the Berkeley County Youth Fair.

Of course, I have not yet mentioned the motivating factor in getting me to the fair.  You see, my mother and her new husband went to Hawaii with my new step-nephew and step-niece.  The trip was scheduled somewhat close to the last minute since they suddenly got a deal impossible to pass up.  They had wanted to attend the fair because the daughter of some friends of theirs was set to auction off a hog she raised.  When they left for Hawaii, they charged my brother with a mission. Go to the fair and bid on the little girl’s hog.

I drove separately to the fair and jumped into line, it was about 5:30 in the evening and I was definitely in good spirits.  I had no idea how the night would go but hanging out with my brother Alex tends to bring out the optimist in me.  I breezed through the gate and almost immediately I saw a raffle being held by the local Ford dealership.  I decided to fill it out and boy am I glad I did.  The guy running it was charming and had a foreign accent that I couldn’t place.  Apparently he was a fan of the Hunger Games films because he pointed out my hand stamp looked like the mockingjay symbol.  As I turned to go, he decided he would tell me a dirty joke.  Skip it if you’re easily offended.

The guy: “Do you have any tattoos?”

Me: “Not yet, no.”

The guy: “I have a suggestion for you.  It’s a dirty joke. Do you mind?”

Me: (Pleased that he asked permission) “No. Go ahead.”

The guy: “A guy got a tattoo of the words ‘I Love You’ on his dick.  He showed it to his wife and she said ‘There you go, putting words in my mouth again.'”

I smirked and thanked him and wished him a good night.  On reflection I wonder what gave this guy the idea that he could tell this joke in a customer service position.  I appreciate a good joke, dirty or not, but I hope the guy didn’t get himself in trouble with somebody more uptight.

My brother, Kira and Scott were already in the indoor arena where the auctions and other events took place.  Alex had already registered for the auction but had come up with a plan in the ten minutes or so while they waited for me to arrive.  We immediately got me registered as well and we decided that if bidding was slow, we would bid against each other to raise the price.  You see, part of our directive was to see that the price got up to 3 dollars a pound.  Our target hog was 280 pounds so you can do the math on how much we were ready to plunk down to give this girl a respectable showing and donate to local youth organizations.

After looking at the program, we figured out that the hogs were being auctioned last.  This would be after the goats, sheep and steers.  This meant we probably had a lot of time to kill.  It was time for our first go at fair food.  Now, I haven’t been to a fair in a while but I’m familiar with fair food.  For our first foray, I opted for a chili cheese dog.  It immediately fell apart but I didn’t care because it tasted really good.

We wandered back into the pens to check out all of the animals.  We saw goats, sheep, chickens and rabbits.  Every single animal was some kid’s project and earlier in the week they had shown them off and gotten their ribbons.  Now it was time to auction them off.  I was impressed with how good the kids did on raising their animals.  Each pen was decorated with a posterboard sign which displayed the animal’s name.  Considering most of them were about to get slaughtered, I figured this must be a bittersweet day for the kids.  After a quick tete a tete with the owners of the hog we found out that it would be at least 9 pm when the hogs would be auctioned.  Our target was one of the last in the schedule as well.

We realized that we  had a lot of time to kill.  That was ok because we had realized like any good adventure, there was a sidequest and plenty of mini-games.  We decided to check on the sidequest first.  The fair had brought in a company to present monster trucks.  Here was something I had never seen before and I was interested.  However, we discovered that we would have to wait for this too.

We hit the carnival section of the fair and stalked around for a bit to see what was what.  We were all pretty hip to the subtle trickery of carnival games so we started to decide not what we could win but what would be most fun to play.  First, we climbed aboard the ferris wheel which lucky enough fit four people to a car.   I love hanging out with my brother and his friends, especially his fellow Pointless Theater members.  I don’t know all of their inside jokes but they have great senses of humor and are incredibly nice.  We hit the carnival and tried out a few games and Kira ended up winning a tiny stuffed banana with a face.

With that done it was time for ice cream.  I got a giant cup of chocolate soft serve ice cream and noted that there was a definite lack of weird fair foods.  I have heard over and over about deep-fried this and deep-fried that but all they had was deep-fried pub pickles which didn’t seem worth it.  Ah well, my arteries will probably be thankful for their absence.

Ice cream in hand, it was time for monster trucks.  We lucked out with great seats seconds before the show started and I knew what to generally expect.  What I didn’t expect was our national anthem to start playing.  I know that it’s often sung or played before sporting events but I did not think this qualified.  However, when we stepped into that fair, we were definitely in ‘Murrica territory.  I was taught well, I took off my hat and covered my heart.  Then it was time for things to get smashed.   In that regard, we were not disappointed.

I had seen footage of monster trucks on tv and in movies before but I was not prepared for the spectacle being mere yards away.  There was loud engine noises, cars being crushed and ATV races.  We cheered and had fun along with everybody else.  I did not expect to love this event as much as I did.  The craziest part is that a company built a miniature monster truck that was still about ten to twelve feet tall.  We wondered what was up with that.  During the show they had seven year olds drive this thing around the track.  It looked potentially very dangerous but both kids handled it well.  One of them even shot the crowd metal horns as he passed by.

We hit the exhibit hall and saw the projects done by kids presumably instead of raising an animal.  Some of them were impressive and I was glad to see not only a firm grasp on science but a lot of creative, art projects too.  Some of the projects were super lazy though but I guess you have to expect that.  We had a lot of fun poking around though.

We checked in and there was still plenty of time until the hog auction.  We wandered through the pens again and this time we got to see the steers as they came back from being auctioned off.  This is where we saw a young girl sobbing after coming back with her steer.  This was the bitter part of the night.  These kids had grown attached and now they had to say goodbye to Bessie who was now on her way to the slaughterhouse.  These were not animals for milking.  I felt bad for the kids but in order to enjoy the protein we know and love, we have to kill animals.

We headed into the stands at the auction and took our seats.  We had plenty of hogs to go so we sat and let Scott educate us on how livestock auctions go.  Scott used to show goats in similar fairs and knew a lot about the ins and outs of the process.  We were also able to get a feel for the room with each hog that was auctioned off.  Boys and girls herded stubborn pigs into the ring and had them move around as people bid on them.  I quickly realized that these pigs vastly outweighed the kids who raised them.  The smarter, more experienced kids had figured out how to use a cane to make the pig move without hurting them.  Strategic taps made the pig want to keep moving.  The unfortunate kids were literally pushed around by their pigs or stood by helpless as their pig did whatever it wanted.

I realized that, since we had a 3 dollar upper limit, we were likely to be outbid.  As the auction continued people did slowly stream out of the place so we thought that maybe our competition would slink out too.  Finally the moment of truth came.  I let Alex do the bidding as he seemed ready and raring to go.  He tensed as they announced the little girl and her pig.  Then as soon as the bidding started the price jumped to 4 dollars.  I started to laugh uncontrollably.  We had been there for close to 6 hours and we didn’t even get to bid.  The bidding ended at 4.75 which was definitely respectable.  We congratulated the girl’s mother and left the fair in good spirits.

A great time was had by all.  Sure we didn’t accomplish our goals but there was plenty of people watching and other fun to be had.  I just might go again next year.  Hell, it was only five dollars (plus the price of all the food).

Candi Darling Promo

August 1, 2014

<Candi Darling is seen walking backstage, carrying a baseball bat, her championship belt and a microphone.  She doesn’t look too concerned, especially given that opponents of the Wolves get ambushed constantly. It is important to note that she is completely alone. She looks right at the camera and stops in her tracks.  She pauses for a moment just giving the camera a curious look as if she had never seen one before.  As usual, she looks and sounds completely unbalanced.  She slowly walks to the camera and grabs hold of it for a big close-up.>

Candi: I think people deny what they really are. We are who we are.  We are the new normal.  You hurt her. You made us unhappy.  We want to be happy.  We have spirit, yes we do.  We have spirit, how about you?  <She has gotten uncomfortably close to the camera by this point>

<Suddenly, Candi lets go of the camera and looks to her right at an interviewer who is not there. The cameraman slowly backs up to reveal this>

Candi: I’m so glad you asked. Everybody is so fired up and I want to do my best.  Sure, there will be blood… but I think we’ll all have a lot of fun with it.  This?  This is my favorite bat.  <She admires the baseball bat for a few moments of silence.>

<In walks Michelle Ross who still has her arm in a sling from Maggie Sinclair’s attack.  Candi stops and turns and smiles at Michelle>

Michelle: Um… <Afer a beat of staring silence> Candi, you do know that you’re facing Maggie Sinclair tonight.  How do you feel about facing one of the Wolves?

Candi: She’s a wolf?  I thought she was a girl.  I guess that changes things. Yes. Yes.  Yes…. Yes.

Michelle: <After a brief beat> Maggie Sinclair is absolutely vicious. <She touches her bad arm gently with her good arm.> Aren’t you afraid to be facing her tonight?

Candi: Oh Meesh, Meesh, Meesh, Meesh, Meesh… <She gently presses fingers against Michelle’s sling. The gesture is somehow very intimate. Candi’s words are calm and almost playful.> I’m vicious too. I’m brutal. I’m violent.  <She gently pulls Michelle in close by the sling. Michelle whimpers slightly> I understand.  She hurt you… but I’ll make sure she never hurts you again.  Never hurts anyone again. <She pulls her even closer, their faces inches from each other> Never again. <She suddenly smiles at her before skipping off toward the ring, baseball bat still in hand. Michelle just stares after her, stunned.>

Announcer 1: Wow… what was that?

Announcer 2: That’s a determined competitor headed to the ring for her match.

Announcer 1: Or a psycho.

Announcer 2: A little bit of both.

Why I Love Pro-Wrestling Episode 6

August 1, 2014

How Are They Not Dead?

So, I talk about sports entertainment to anybody who will listen to me all the time to the point where I worry I’m overselling the product to people who don’t care and annoying them.   I can literally work the history of sports entertainment into any conversation since its long history provides lots of characters, storylines and such to draw from.  It was partly the fear of negative social backlash that I started to put this in my blog.  The other half, of course, is that I love it so much.   It is a great excuse to comb through old footage on youtube or try to remember trivia from decades of history.

Recently I was assaulting my brother with one of my rambling diatribes about the WWE product.  I was probably outlining Daniel Bryan’s rise to power or the Shield’s break up or something.  He turned to me and asked something that I have heard now and then.  “Did you ever think about becoming a wrestler?”  My knee jerk reaction is that this sounds like “If you love it so much, why don’t you marry it?” but then I realize my brother is serious.  I do enjoy the product so much that it is not such a logical leap for me to be in the business.  My simple answer?  “Are you kidding?  I don’t want to get hurt.”

You see, professional wrestling is a “fake” sport.  The results of each match are planned ahead of time and the matches are choreographed ahead of time, during the match or often a mixture of the two.  However, as most fans will tell you, the physical contact can be very real and anything but fake.  Sure, when a wrestler is body slammed they are protected by their opponent but at the same time they are being picked up and slammed on the mat.  Not only that but accidents happen and people get seriously injured.  It’s a high risk profession and people are often forced to retire from it early.

Then there’s the moments where the wrestlers and promoters decide that they are going to take that risk and turn it up to eleven.  This is done to sell tickets and stamp memories into the audiences brains that they will take away with them for a long time.  “Whoa, how could you miss that chair shot last night on the payperview?  You have to order the replay, dude.”  These moments can be scary within the storyline and also when you think of these people as performers.  That’s why I wanted to salute some of those moments that have us cringing and shaking our heads with wonder and respect.

(Warning: Some might find this episode particularly graphic)

The Undertaker Throws Mankind Off the Hell in a Cell Cage

This one is an obvious one for the list.  This is the moment that blew my teenage mind, a moment which led to a series of moments that made me drop my jaw to the floor.  There are several parts in this match where Mick Foley could easily have died.  The way he tells it, he was legitimately concussed during the match as he spent a large portion blacked out.  Not only that but the only way he could remember the events of the match was watching the tape earlier.  Some of this match is the performers taking calculated risks and some of it is purely accidental.  The only reasons that Mick Foley didn’t die are professionalism and a little luck.

Shane McMahon is Suplexed Through Plate Glass

I defy you to watch that footage and tell me that wrestling is “fake”.  That is not prop glass.  It takes more than one attempt to put Shane through that glass.  When his body hits the glass with a whump, it’s somehow more impressive and looks more painful.  Kurt Angle is a machine and an actual gold medal wrestler in the 1996 Olympics.  He transitioned from being an acclaimed and accomplished competitor to the world of sports entertainment.  He makes a name for himself again in the world of the WWF (WWE).  Then he’s told that not only is he going to have a match with his boss’ son but he is going to do this to him.  This match is completely insane, especially when you realize that Shane is way too rich to have to do this.  Shane McMahon’s brief wrestling career is full of moments like this.

Kevin Steen Package Hits El Generico with a Package Piledriver… with Ladders.

Wow.  Just wow.  That was my reaction when I first saw this.  This was pretty much my introduction to Ring of Honor while I tried to catch up on old iPPVs.  The storyline had built up a rivalry so heated that building an elaborate structure out of ladders did not seem too silly.  OK it was a little silly.  Still, the whole thing is worth the spot in the video above.  A normal piledriver is a move that requires a lot of trust between performers.  A package piledriver seemingly leaves the victim completely unable to protect themselves, requiring a greater level of trust.  Then you up the ante by doing the move about six feet in the air onto metal ladders and it’s just amazing.  The crowd chants what we’re all thinking.

Dean Ambrose Suplexes Seth Rollins Off of a Very Tall Ladder

This one is from this year and thanks to the WWE Network and GIFs, I was able to watch moments from this match more than once.  Both Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins seem to excel at taking large amounts of punishment.  They are two of the most entertaining performers in the business today and I hope they survive these sorts of matches without career-ending injuries.  This moment was so amazing that I had to show my brother.   I believe his response was “Whoa!”.  There is no way to fake the impact of this move.  You close your eyes, brace yourself and try to fall as flat on your back as possible.

Terry Funk vs. Cactus Jack – No Rope, Barbed Wire, Exploding Barbed Wire Boards, Exploding Ring Match

Yes, you read all of that correctly.  I took great care in typing it all out.  Not only was there barbed wire all around the ring but it was also attached to wooden boards that were rigged with C-4. Yes, the same C-4 you see in movies and Mythbusters.  The really dangerous explosive.  The concept was that if a performer is pushed onto one of the barbed wire boards, it explodes under them.  This caused severe burns for both Funk and Foley.  Yes, this is the same Foley who later got thrown off of a cage.  Besides being ripped to shreds by barbed wire and subjected to C-4 boards, the idea was for the ring itself to explode at the end of the match.  We never did get to see this happen as it fizzles.  Still, Mick Foley describes himself as smelling like burnt flesh for days after this match.


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