December 31, 2016
John Cena has been in the WWE for fourteen years now. Before that, he wrestled for Ultimate Pro Wrestling and Ohio Valley Wrestling. When he was starting out, he created a robot wrestler character called The Prototype. While I never saw this side of Cena, it makes sense. The man is a machine and has been since he debuted over a decade ago. He works harder than just about anybody in the company and it shows in his success.
When I first saw Cena, it was when he debuted against the now legendary Kurt Angle. Kurt was always an impressive physical specimen but suddenly this young punk came out of nowhere and challenged him. His battle cry was “Ruthless Aggression” and he certainly showed he had it. He was far from the wordsmith he would turn out to be but physically he was fast and everything he did looked good. It really was like the second coming of The Rock as he was pushed toward greatness from the moment he first appeared. Not only did he beat up Kurt, he was given kudos by a lot of veterans on camera and was even congratulated by The Undertaker. He had the charisma and he had the moves and he had the respect, he just needed a little more to truly get over.
Later that year he found that special something that would help boost him a little more into the spotlight. Taking a cue from his real life rapping skills and the popularity of hip-hop and white performers in the genre, he adopted the persona of John Cena, Doctor of Thuganomics. He leaned in hard to the gimmick and turned heel in the process. All of the kayfabe respect he had before, he threw back in the faces of those backstage as he feuded with the Undertaker, Eddie Guerrero and Chris Benoit. He had rap battles with other superstars and proved that his gimmick was no lie. He was very good at getting people to boo him but I always loved to watch him. It was during this time that he developed the finisher that he uses today. It was called the FU to mock Brock Lesnar since it started like his F5.
In 2005, Cena won hist first heavyweight championship against John Bradshaw Layfield. It was a good choice because Cena was still technically a heel heading into the feud. Having him take down a heel faction that was a symbol of authority and politics was a good way to show that he was a good guy. I felt he also stepped up his game, broadening his character and showing that he could definitely play with the big boys. Not long after this, though, fans started to boo Cena probably because they felt he was being pushed too hard and too fast. It did not help that he was feuding with Chris Jericho who is so good that fans cheer him whether he is a babyface or a heel. The booing gained momentum and fans pretty much turned on him. I have to admit that I loved seeing Cena throw his shirt out into the audience and seeing the audience throw it back at him. I bought into the hate and booed right along with everybody else.
Cena won my respect, though. He did not let the booing faze him and instead worked harder. In one of the great modern storylines, he feuded with the Nexus. Cena often fought by himself against ten men and never gave up. Finally, this led into one of my favorite Cena feuds. He faced off against CM Punk. Cena was practically manufactured by the WWE as he never really wrestled anywhere else. Punk was an indy darling. Cena had a small move set while Punk had a huge arsenal to draw from. Cena and Punk burned the house down and had some of the most memorable matches of both Punk and Cena’s WWE careers. During this time he also feuded with the Miz in a feud that, over time, helped pull Miz into a whole new stratosphere. The two seemed to almost be made for each other at times.
Probably the biggest feud of his career was a two-year feud with The Rock. As I alluded to before, the two were very similar. Both were charismatic youngsters who joined the WWE with huge momentum already on their side. Both were immediately crowned as legends and given kudos by their colleagues just after their first match. Both were pushed too hard and too fast, forcing the crowd to hate them. However, The Rock turned heel in response and eventually got the crowd to love him while Cena just persevered and stayed the honest yet aggressive character he had always been. It was around this time that the company started to have Cena win no matter what. It led to the meme of LOL Cena Wins because his victory was almost always a forgone conclusion. It was similar to Hulk Hogan’s career in that respect.
Cena has now won 16 heavyweight belts throughout his career, tying his record with that of “The Nature Boy” Ric Flair. He continues to work hard, still performing despite multiple injuries and setbacks. Along the way, he won back my respect but I still resented that he always won. Last year he won the US Championship and he started to turn his image around. He issued open challenges and he barely won them. He got injured again. He came back and he actually started losing for once in his career and I was overjoyed. Not because I still hated him but because LOL Cena Wins was actually being used for a great new purpose. All these new stars were beating the unstoppable Cena and it did not make him look weaker but it made a lot of them look stronger. He went toe to toe with indy darling AJ Styles and Styles won and has continued to win. They will go at it again next year and I will be glued to the screen when they do. In the meantime, he is making new forays into Hollywood and crushing it as one of the most charitable celebrities. Period. I still expect good things from Cena. In my opinion, he just gets better and better.
(HAPPY NEW YEAR = LAST POST OF 2016)
December 19, 2016
As I prepare for Christmas and cool down from finishing my Fall semester at CCBC, I thought I would post this Facebook thing that I beefed up. We had snow and then freezing rain on Saturday and it was more annoying than dangerous even though there was a huge crash south of the city. I am getting excited for Christmas as the presents I bought for people start arriving in the mail. Posts will continue as scheduled even as I go to Shepherdstown this week.
Four names I go by:
My given name. It means “He who is crowned.” I love my name even though it is often used to for a random name to call lame guys in fiction. However, Eddie Izzard often uses it for a name to call characters and does not mistreat the name. I believe that spelling it with a “v” is the right way to spell it even if Stephen came about first in history.
I used to hate this shortened version of my name but I have learned to like it. It is so quick and casual. A lot of good friends have called me by this shortened version. However, I now have a friend/family member who goes by Steve and is in the tabletop gaming group I am in. This creates confusion but somehow we manage. I end up being Steve 2 sometimes.
3. Wolf of Words
You are reading this blog right now. It has also become my new gamer tag when I need one. If you see WolfofWords holding a gym in Pokemon Go, that is me. As I explained earlier, the wolf is a part of my family history because my family is crazy. My mom taught us to howl at the full moon because her aunt taught her to do it. I am also devoted to stories and words as a writer, an avid consumer of fiction and a student of the law.
While I was in New Jersey, I created a gamer tag called Mengi around the time I created this blog. It was created for a game called StarPirates which had a great community. There was a guy in our little group playing the game who called himself LordTyrion and, to tweak his nose, I renamed myself KingMengi to outrank him. I stuck with the name through a couple games and that’s why it appears as my twitter and WordPress username.
Four places I’ve lived
1. Baltimore, Maryland
I love Baltimore. It is the city where I was born and where I have lived for 24 years (not consecutive). I love so many great places in Baltimore and I learn more and more things about it every day. If you keep reading this blog, you will find me talking about Baltimore over and over.
2. Sussex, New Jersey
Sussex is a small town in New Jersey jammed up near the borders of Pennsylvania and New York. Even though it is nearly two hours from New York City, it is still in the NYC Metropolitan area because that area is gigantic. I worked at a theater called Tri-State Actors Theater here and I lived in the back of a framing shop. The place was a little town with a two-block main street surrounded by farmland and mountains. Still, the local children were frightened of the urban dangers it might contain.
3. Matamoras, Pennsylvania
When I first moved up to work at Tri-State Actors Theater, I lived at the owner’s house just over the border in Pennsylvania. At first, I had no car and I was at the mercy of what rides were offered by the people whom I was living with. Once I had my first real car, I remember driving there really late at night. Once, I was driving over the mountain to get home and there was nearly a foot of snow on the ground and I spun out near the top. After I recovered my wits, I continued to drive. I was really stupid sometimes back then.
4. Shepherdstown, West Virginia
In the last few years, my mother moved to West Virginia along with my new stepfather. (Although, not so new anymore.) It is a great place to be as it is far from the hustle and bustle of the city and I never experienced that, even in Sussex. I worked at the house there for two years on several projects for the family business and I continue to visit for holidays.
December 17, 2016
As a little celebration of finishing all of my classes on the way to my paralegal certificate (except an internship), how about we look at some great lawyers. Unfortunately, they do not make any shows about paralegals. Obviously, I may need to change this eventually.
11 Jeff Winger (Community)
Community has been one of my favorite shows since my brothers introduced me to it. In the first episode, we meet Jeff who is a lawyer who has just been put into a tough spot. He had lied about having a bachelor’s degree when he was hired at the law firm he was working at. So he is forced to go to Greendale Community College to get a quickie law degree. This is now somewhat familiar and relevant to my life. So a successful lawyer has to attend college just to get a piece of paper. Winger is at the bottom of the list because he is not a properly licensed lawyer through most of the series. Jeff was a defense lawyer who mainly tried DUI and other traffic cases. Jeff’s main strength comes from his excellent charisma and his ability to make a great speech with very little substance. He was very successful but it seems that he does not know a lot of actual law and falls back on convincing judges and juries with his silver tongue. Throughout the show, he does sometimes act as an advocate at disciplinary proceedings and we see both how effective he can be and also how ineffective he can be when people see through his nonsense.
10 Saul Goodman (Better Call Saul)
Public Defender/Civil Litigator
I am really only referring to Saul Goodman during the first season of Better Call Saul. In Breaking Bad, he is a piece of crap and does very little that an actual lawyer does or should do. In the early part of the show, he is a lawyer with a small general practice operating out of the back of a nail salon. Like Jeff Winger, Saul’s true strength lies in his opening and closing statements. When his money situation gets desperate, he becomes a public defender for meager checks from the State. He encounters some horrible prosecutors who seem disinterested in dealing with him in any way. As far as we see, his clients are pretty guilty but Saul does not quit. He works tirelessly for his clients, giving masterful closing arguments and going above and beyond his duties to try to get plea bargains for his clients instead of letting them get fully prosecuted. He does not lie, he does not cheat. He does what a good defense lawyer does and tries to slant the cases in favor of his clients and does his best on behalf of his clients. He falls into a dark place for a bit, trying to cheat the system to make some money but he is also scared back to a more righteous path. Later on, he gets really jazzed about representing the elderly in writing wills and then protecting their rights. He will fall to evil eventually but for the first season, he is a good lawyer.
9 Lindsey McDonald (Angel) – Defense Lawyer
For those of you were born after the nineties, Angel was a spinoff of Buffy: The Vampire Slayer and both of those shows are in the upper echelons of my favorite shows. The heroes formed a sort of detective agency that did more saving of lives than actual mystery solving. The main villains of the show came from an evil law firm known as Wolfram & Hart. While there are a lot of jokes about how evil lawyers are, this show took that to the extreme and connected lawyers to several hell dimensions. One of those lawyers was a southern boy played by the awesome Christian Kane. He was tough as nails and was eventually grizzled and buff. When he first appeared, his main strength was that he was one hell of a lawyer (pun intended). Time and again, it is proven off camera and on camera that he is a great lawyer. While he represents vampires and demons, he often did his best to prevent his clients or his firm from carrying out truly heinous acts. He was not a good guy but he had a moral code even if he did want to kill the title character on more than one occasion.
8 Rafael Barba (Law and Order: SVU)
Assistant District Attorney
Really, I could have picked almost any Assistant District Attorney from the Law and Order series to put in this spot. The Law and Order ADAs are often excellent at their jobs. They are very charismatic and they speak with great eloquence and know just how to play witnesses like they were musical instruments. Of course, this leads to overly melodramatic moments that would probably never actually happen in court but it makes for good television. What impresses me most about these ADAs is their knowledge and command of case law. Almost every lawyer on the show knows key cases at the drop of a hat which convinces the judge to see things their way. After law school, most lawyers do not memorize these things anymore because even memorizing local landmark cases is way too much information to retain. Besides, that is what research is for. The ADAs are also very good at convincing judges to make decisions without putting in motions. This is not entirely out of the realm of possibility in real courthouses as this sort of thing falls under a judge’s discretion. However, most judges like having some paper to point at when somebody asks why they made their decision. I picked Rafael Barba for this spot specifically because he seemed to me to be the most professional and least emotional lawyer of the bunch. He assigned to Special Victims Unit and has to try some very difficult cases and it feels like he really never let it get to him too much.
7 Alan Shore (Boston Legal) – Defense Lawyer
Alan Shore is unequivocally an asshole, a fact that becomes more and more clear as the series progresses. However, he usually uses that power for a good cause. He has an undying loyalty toward his client and champions for their right to a fair trial no matter what. He works for a huge multinational law firm called Crane, Poole and Schmidt which largely handles both civil and criminal cases. He is an extremely competent lawyer who is very good at reading people and finding a path to victory when defeat is certain. He specializes in what he calls pulling a rabbit out of his hat. He creates sensational stunts to win cases in the eleventh hour when things are looking dark. It is clear that he also knows how to use case law and actual lawyering to win cases. He often has to resort to his strange tactics because the firm gives him the strangest and most difficult cases. They do this because he is a very self-destructive person who delights in instigating the people around him. He also bends the rules constantly which is another reason why the firm throws him the bad cases to try and get rid of him. As the show progresses, he works at evolving as a person and a lawyer and gets better every episode. This reminds me that I need to watch more of this show.
6 Stewart Sanderson (The Grinder)
When we meet Stew, he is a somewhat downtrodden lawyer who works at his father’s law firm. While he technically works for his father and another partner, he acts as the boss of the law firm. We see him leading meetings, deciding case strategy and assigning cases and work to lawyers and assistants at the office. The tiny firm does good work and obviously, Stew is an extremely competent lawyer. Throughout the one and only season of this show, we see that he is very adept at doing his research and clearing cases the right way. In the pilot, he clearly remembers a lot of landmark decisions because he is able to pull just the right ones to convince the judge to make the correct decision. He knows the rules and he sticks to them because it gets results. His one weakness is that he is not very good at speaking in court. He relies too much on note cards and does not speak with any fluidity and finds it difficult to adapt his strategy. Enter Dean Sanderson, Stew’s big brother. Through exposure to Dean’s hammy acting and superior confidence, Stew begins a journey where he becomes more confident and therefore a stronger lawyer.
5 Laurel Lance (Arrow) –
Defense Lawyer/Assistant District Attorney
In a show that involves law enforcement and vigilantes, it is a little weird that there are so few lawyers that we see. Of course, most of the show hinges on action and drama and there is no time to slow down and show some courtroom drama. Laurel has worked hard all of her life to do what is right and protect the people around her. The first we see of her, she is working as a defense lawyer who largely represents poorer clients. One of the themes of the show is about class differences so this was a perfect starting point for her character. As the daughter of a cop, she was in a great position to see both sides of things and decided to defend people legally instead of physically. While the show does not focus on her that much, we see that she is a great lawyer. She eventually gets hired on as Assistant District Attorney, a position she uses to team up with her father and secretly with the vigilantes. While normally I would question a lawyer for bending or breaking the rules by working with a vigilante, she is working in an extremely corrupt system. When things are wrong, you have to do what it takes to make them right without crossing major moral boundaries. In the end, she blurs those boundaries by becoming a vigilante herself but she still operates as a lawyer.
4 Constance Griffiths (Life)
Legal Aid/Assistant District Attorney
Few people seem to know about this show but I will continue to champion it until my final breath. The whole show is put into motion by Constance who takes a wrongly accused police officer’s case pro bono. She is able to use DNA evidence to exonerate Charlie and get him the best and weirdest settlement that I have ever heard of. We know from what we see of her that Constance has a big brain and even bigger heart. She does not believe that the innocent should be left to languish in jail and fights for the rights of the falsely accused. She is a one woman Innocence Project. Throughout the show, she deals with a client that has some interesting and potentially annoying personal quirks with ease. She fights to make sure that her client keeps their end of the bargain and protects him at every turn. When it is clear that she has become romantically connected to her client, she removes herself from the position. Her hard work pays off and she is offered a position as an Assistant District Attorney and I always believed that she was probably very fair and ethical in that job.
3 Caroline Julian (Bones)
At first glance, Caroline is a bit of a bulldog. She is a prosecutor who works directly with the Federal Bureau of Investigation. She seems to be assigned all of the cases that come from crimes investigated by the partnership between the Jeffersonian Museum and the FBI. She comes across as humorless and has little time for nonsense as she helps investigate cases. She works hard to get the FBI good legal standing and open up doors to allow them to investigate. She is key in getting warrants and clearing obstacles that stand between investigators and the evidence they need. As the show progresses, we see Caroline become more comfortable in being more personable. She works to make things run smoother in the FBI offices and Jeffersonian Labs in the interests of being more efficient. Through it all, she retains the ability to be very intimidating but also later becomes more of a mama bear in the cast. While we do not really get to see her in court, we know she is dead set on following the rules and is instrumental in the cast’s success rate.
2 Foggy Nelson (Daredevil)
General Private Practice
While it would have been easy to put Matt Murdock himself in this spot, we know that Matt has an unfair advantage while plying his trade. Matt can literally monitor a witness’ heartbeat during testimony and is basically a human lie detector. Also, while he is kicking butt on the streets, he often neglects his actual job. Foggy Nelson turns out to be an even better lawyer. He works day and night for his clients and it shows in the bags under his eyes and the beers that he drinks after work. When we first meet him, he is a little too eager to take shortcuts to get clients and clear cases but he has evolved quite a bit on the show. He does his research and he and Matt are able to make a name for their little law firm. One of the main reasons I gave this spot to Foggy is the moment where he was forced to deliver an opening statement on the spot without any preparation and he knocked it out of the park. He also was able to do the same kind of thing in the middle of a knife fight which saved a lot of lives. He is a good man and a good lawyer.
1 Cliff McCormack (Veronica Mars)
Finally, we come to one of my all-time favorite television shows. I mourn its cancellation more than Firefly’s cancellation because every single character was awesome and I wanted a billion of their stories. One of those characters was Cliff McCormack, a public defender, and a working class lawyer. He associated with the Mars family because it is wise for lawyers to use private investigators and for private investigators to have lawyers handy. They form a friendship which Cliff is loyal to a hundred percent. I really, really love Cliff as a lawyer. He always has a hundred cases on his plate but never seems to let any of them down. He has a personal code of ethics and although he may come off as slimy, he is anything but. He even tells a rich murder suspect (a client who could net him a lot of more lucrative cases) to hire a better lawyer. While he is not above using tricks to win cases, none of those tricks involve him breaking the law. He is charming, hard-working and successful.
December 12, 2016
It is getting colder lately and I am starting to enter actual winter mode. Fall was not that cold but a lot of things happened that ended up keeping me indoors more than I wanted. I went and watched the 2016 election results at my cousin’s house. I got off of my Tuesday night class around eight o’clock and I rushed over to the farm to have a good time with some of my closest friends (who happen to also be family by marriage). However, when I arrived, things were already not going so great. As the night went on, things looked more and more grim and a lot of people I know are still struggling with the idea. I think I ended up struggling less thanks to the wisdom of good friends and thinking things through.
Don’t think about the election. Think about deer. Awesome deer who rule the park.
Anyway, I ended up leaving around two in the morning because people needed to get to sleep and I was feeling tired and a little sick to my stomach. I got home at three and I was a little too wired to actually go to bed. I decided to eat a little something since I had declined to get a proper dinner directly after class. I cooked up some sausages and watched YouTube videos instead of flipping to any coverage of the election. You have to turn to fiction and entertainment in the hard times or you will go crazy. I woke up tired the next day and immediately threw myself back into schoolwork.
Some of the true saints of the Internet.
The day after that, I started to feel crummy. I had a disgusting cold with a cough and an annoying runny nose. It made me not want to go on any of my walks because I would get three blocks and I would be sniffling and coughing and feeling self-conscious. I probably should have sucked it up and taken my Dayquil and just do the walk but I can be a bit of a baby when I’m sick. I like my walks but I had low energy and ended up taking it easy instead of getting my miles in. I focused on my studies and this blog and waited for the stupid cold to go away.
Master Stacker, please keep sending me signs!
By the time the stupid cold was going away, it was time for Thanksgiving. I was trying to get my homework done while making time to spend with my family. It was a weird week but I have weird but great brothers. We ended up shooting over to West Virginia and we went out for dinner and even did some filming. I also watched Rizzo a bunch as my brother rushed around during a busy holiday week. By the time that was all over, November was almost over.
OK. Maybe stop sending me messages. It got weird.
Wow, I meant to write about walking again and I ended up talking through some other stuff. I have started walking again and I am rediscovering the joys of exploration. Before the election, I was easily up to walking three miles within an hour. On Sunday I got back up to an even two miles. I will get back up to a good three miles again. The added distance allows me to find a lot of weird stuff and find interesting people to watch. It also allows me to catch and hatch more Pokemon as I am still playing Pokemon Go. It is a fun addition to any walk along with using Pandora to listen to music. So, I guess that is what I originally made this post about. I also wanted to show off some of the pictures I have taken in the past few months. I rarely take pictures so enjoy.
Oh! I also went to a Ravens game with my mom, stepdad and my cousins.