Tuesday, May 31, 2011

WWE legend Randy Savage tribute video

Randy Poffo, better known as "Macho Man" Randy Savage, passed away Friday, May 20, after sustaining injuries in an automobile accident. He was 58 years old.

Tributes poured in from around the professional wrestling world, as well as from the mainstream media. There are a select few professional wrestlers who are also cultural icons, and Randy Savage was one of them.

The video embedded above aired on the WWE's flagship show, Monday Night Raw, three days after Savage's death. A lot of eyes were on WWE for how they would handle Savage's death, due to how they regarded him when he was alive.

One of the biggest wrestling mysteries - which has spawned some of the biggest wrestling urban legends - is why WWE Chairman Vince McMahon dislikes Randy Savage.

In the mid-1990's, there was a giant wrestling war between World Championship Wrestling (WCW) and the World Wrestling Federation (WWF, now known as WWE). The war really started when WCW paid a lot of money to entice several of the WWF's biggest stars to "jump ship" from the New-York-based WWF to the Atlanta-based WCW.

Hulk Hogan was the first, and biggest star to make the jump. Several others followed suit, with Randy Savage making his WCW debut in late 1994.

WCW was sold to WWE in 2001. They own all of the WCW tape library. Gradually, little by little, the vast majority of former WWE stars who left for WCW made their way back to WWE. If they were healthy enough, they came back to wrestle. If they were older, they were inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame.

Vince McMahon has said in multiple interviews over the years that he has no personal grudges when there is an opportunity to make money. Basically, he doesn't have to like you to work with you. If something happened years ago, it's water under the bridge if it makes sense to work together now.

Just about everybody came back, with the exception of one person. "Macho Man" Randy Savage has not appeared in any way, shape, or form for WWE since leaving in 1994. A 3-disk DVD retrospective of his career was produced in 2009, but Savage himself had no involvement, and it was not promoted heavily on WWE television.

It's not as if Randy Savage was too busy to return to WWE. His last appearance with WCW was in 2000. He did not wrestle anywhere again until showing up in Total Nonstop Action Wrestling in 2004. His stint there lasted barely two months.

It came out a few years back that Randy Savage's name was not even allowed to be brought up to Vince McMahon. A former WWE writer did an interview where he mentioned that he suggested bringing Savage in for a guest spot and was yelled at and told to never suggest using Randy Savage again.

So, why was Randy Savage effectively banned from WWE for so long?

There are two popular theories, one of which seems very logical and one that seems ripped straight from the tabloid headlines.

The more logical theory is that Vince McMahon took Savage's departure to WCW much more personally than he did anybody else. Perhaps Savage told Vince that he would not leave and then did.

The tabloid-theory centers on Savage having some sort of inappropriate conduct with Vince's daughter, Stephanie McMahon. I've heard everything from them having a consensual relationship when she was underage, to him sexually harassing/assualting her, to him raping her.

Whatever happened, nobody has had anything to say except conjecture. But, I guess all that is moot now. After Savage's last match in TNA, he stopped keeping up his "Macho Man" image as much, allowing his beard to go gray and not being as "ripped" as he used to be. Without announcing it, he had effectively retired from professional wrestling. Fans online have rallied for years for Savage to be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame. It looked like it would never happen, although that could change for the 2012 class. We'll see what happens with that early next year.

Savage made a minor buzz last year when he taped his first "wrestling promo" since 2004, to promote his new Mattel WWE action figure. Click here to see that.

I may check back later with some more thoughts about Randy Savage.

WV Geocache article - Princeton Times

I've been doing a little bit of freelance work for my local paper, the Princeton Times. To say that I have enjoyed it a lot would be an understatement.

This story is about geocaching. If you don't know what that is, read my article and you'll find out. A group called ExploreWV GeoChallenge are using geocaching to promote tourism throughout the state of West Virginia and they came to the Princeton Public Library to teach a workshop. I covered it. Link is below -


Saturday, May 21, 2011

Macho Madness

One of the greatest professional wrestlers of all time, "Macho Man" Randy Savage passed away yesterday after sustaining injuries in a car accident. He was 58.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

So many books to read...

Last weekend was my girlfriend's college graduation. I went up to see her and be there for her. It was a fun time. But, if you want that story, check out her blog. Well, kind of. She blogs about restaurants in Morgantown and wrote about the dinner we had after her graduation.

Aside from seeing her, one of my favorite things about going to Morgantown is making a trip to Barnes & Noble. I like to read. Or, to try and look smart, I could say that I'm a vociferous reader.

While I was there, I picked up two books. One was from several years ago by Paul Levesque, a professional wrestler known as Triple H. I've wanted to check it out for a few years but had never been able to find it anywhere (and am too lazy to order it online). It's called Making the Game: Triple H's Approach to a Better Body and is something like a workout guide. It's not quite an autobiography, as it doesn't just tell his life story, but it is about bodybuilding and how that helped him achieve his goal of becoming a WWE superstar.

The other book I picked up was Aerosmith frontman Steven Tyler's autobiography Does the Noise in my head bother you?: A Rock 'n' Roll Memoir. I've read some good stuff about it, that - to borrow a cliche-d literary phrase - he pulls no punches and it's very revealing.

These books will now be added to my Summer Reading List. Aside from those two, I have 11 books that I would like to read. It's not that I don't like to read or am a slow reader or whatever. These 11 books will take no more than 15 days to finish. It's just about finding the time to actually sit down and enjoy reading them.

I'll start with four that I have already started reading and then segue into the rest of them.

Decision Points, George W. Bush ... I bought the former President's memoir shortly after it came out. It is not a chronicle of his life so much as it is a book about certain key decisions in his life and presidency. Bush writes about things like quitting drinking and the Iraq War. The first chapter is actually like a traditional autobiography, as he writes about his childhood and early adult life. I haven't actually read any of the decisions. I put the book down before I got to that point and never picked it up again. It's on my to-do list.

Dirty Sexy Politics, Meghan McCain ... The other political book on my list, this book by Senator John McCain's daughter had a lot of advance praise and I've heard a lot of good things about her. I've followed her on Twitter for the last couple years, so I knew about the book back when she was still writing it. I actually don't know if I'm going to finish this one. I've read most of it. It chronicles her time working on her father's 2008 presidential campaign. I read up until where she writes about Obama winning the election. She just comes off like she's very spoiled and like she thought her contributions to her father's campaign were a lot more important than they actually were.

No Speed Limit: The Highs and Lows of Meth, Frank Owen ... I was very intrigued by this book after realizing how huge of a problem meth is in Princeton. It charts the rise of methamphetamine use and the underground selling of it in America. The reason I stopped reading this book was because it started to bore me. Owen started talking about how meth started in one area, then another area, then another area, then another area, and so on. After a while, it seemed like I was reading the same "here's how meth started" story over and over. I might give it another shot this summer.

You Never Give Me Your Money: The Beatles After the Breakup, Peter Doggett ... This looks at the group's formation of Apple Records and how that played into the breakup of the Beatles. I started it and then never got around to finishing it. It was interesting and an aspect of the Beatles that isn't written about much, I just wasn't in the mood to read and never picked it back up.

Broken Hearts: The Life and Death of Owen Hart, Martha Hart ... I've honestly been a little wary of reading this book. I don't want to read something that has a negative slant on professional wrestling and I'm worried that this book will have that tone. It's sitting there waiting to be read, so hopefully it will one day.

Evel Knievel: Life of Evil, Stuart Barker ... I've always thought Evel Knievel was an interesting man, so I randomly picked this up one day when I saw it. One of the last things he was in the news for before he died was suing Kanye West for impersonating him in a video. Click here to see it.

1984, George Orwell ... A friend of mine was shocked to know that I had never read 1984. I guess I should read it.

Misery, Stephen King ... I've never read a Stephen King novel. I saw the cover and thought it looked interesting. I'll give it a shot and see how it goes.

The Accountants Story: Inside the Violent World of the Medellin Cartel, Roberto Escobar ... This looks pretty cool. Drugs, gangsters, all that good stuff.

Under the Radar: How Robert Tucker Built Shoe Show, Inc. into the Nation's Largest Independent Shoe Retailer, Howard Covington, Jr. ... Yeah, the title makes it seem like the lamest book in the history of the world. But, not to me. They sell this book at the Shoe Show, Inc. at the mall and that's where I bought it. The lady that sold it to me commented that I was the first person to ever buy the book there.

Planet Simpson: How a Cartoon Masterpiece Defined a Generation, Chris Turner ... A pretty thick book about how "The Simpsons" became the juggernaut that it has become. Since it's not an officially licensed book, there are no pictures in it. The book is 438 pages and not a single page has a picture from the cartoon in it. I'm very excited to read it.

* * *

There's my Summer Reading List. If you've read any of those and want to let me know how they are, feel free to offer an opinion. If you'd like to share your own list of books you want to read, do so.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Do you believe in ghosts? I do.

I've blogged a few times in the past in regard to my thoughts on religion. Long story short, I don't believe in God. I feel like it's too silly and ridiculous to take seriously. But, that's another story for another day.

While I don't believe in a heavenly force, I do believe in a supernatural force. I believe that ghosts exist. Why? I have had three very unique experiences in my life that have involved some sort of supernatural beings in some way or another. I'll share these three experiences with you and let you make your own judgments.

Tale 1: The Girl in the Backyard

My grandpa has always been a big part of my life. From birth until I was 15, I spent nearly every weekend and several days during the week with him at his house. I moved to Princeton at age 15 and still try to make several stops to see him whenever I can.

It was a nice Spring day in 1997. I was 11-years-old and at my grandpa's house. The sun was shining and - unusually for me - I was outside instead of upstairs playing my Nintendo 64.

I was walking around the side of his house toward the backyard, when I looked up and noticed a little girl near a fence at the end of my grandfather's property. She appeared to be around 6 or 7 years old and was wearing some sort of long, flowing nightgown type deal. She was very pale. It almost seemed like she was in black-and-white, while everything around her was in color.

I stared for a second and didn't quite know what to do. I wasn't startled, since the neighbors have a granddaughter that fits her description. She looked like she was looking for something on the ground. I put my head down and ran toward her.

I don't know what I was thinking or what I was going to do when I got to her. Maybe ask her if she needed any help finding what she was looking for, or if she needed help getting back to her house. I'll never know, because I got to where she was standing and put my head up. She was gone.

I was standing in the middle of my grandpa's backyard and nobody was there. I saw a little girl and ran toward her and when I got there she had disappeared. I stood there for a few seconds trying to let this all sink in. I didn't know what had just happened and it freaked me out. I ran out of the yard and back inside my grandpa's house.

Tale 2: The Voice Upstairs

The summer of 2000. I was about to turn 14 and by this point my life had only three real interests - The Simpsons, video games, and professional wrestling. That was all I was about at that age. For the most part, that's pretty much the same. Blogging/Tweeting has replaced video games, The Simpsons is like an old friend I think of fondly, and the professional wrestling love has never wavered.

On this occasion, I was spending the night at my grandpa's house. It was getting late and he had gone to bed. I wanted to stay up and watch a wrestling VHS I had rented (WCW SuperBrawl 2000, for you wrestling purists out there) and the only working VCR was downstairs. I usually spent most of my time upstairs, but my grandpa was sleeping upstairs and the VCR was downstairs, so that's where I was.

The tape ended and I was still awake, so I decided to stay up pretty late and sit downstairs and watch television. This was before staying awake late became a problem. That didn't start until college.

Usually at that point in life, I would stay upstairs and watch late-night television and my grandpa, whose bed was in the next room, would sleep and eventually wake up around midnight/1 a.m. and tell me to get to bed. Since I was downstairs, he couldn't hear the television and I could stay awake longer.

Around 2 a.m. I hear the unmistakable sound of my grandpa sleepily getting out of bed and hear the old, creaky boards groan under his weight. The footsteps stop at the top of the stairs and I hear my grandpa call out, "Christopher, get in bed."

I turn the TV off and head up the stairs. If you keep walking up the stairs you walk directly in the bathroom. I have to go, so I wait at the top of the stairs. I didn't hear my grandpa walk back to bed, so I assume he's in the bathroom.

I stand there for a minute and I don't hear anything, so I gently push the door open and see that he's not in there. I do my business and then head toward my bed. Since my grandpa just talked to me a couple minutes ago, I'm not trying to be too quiet. He barely had enough time to get in bed, let alone fall asleep.

I walk past his bed and hear him snore. I stop in my tracks. My grandpa is laying in bed, sleeping soundly. I heard him get up and walk across the creepy boards. I heard him talk to me. But, I never heard him walk back to bed. He didn't have enough time to get back in bed and fall asleep.

Freaked out, I got in bed and tried not to think about it. The next day, he never mentioned talking to me and I never brought it up.

Tale 3: Turn the TV Off

The third tale takes place near the end of 2005. I'm 19-years-old and a sophomore in college. I live in the dorms of Concord University, but this is one of the random weekends that I decided to come home and spend with my mom. When I say "spend with my mom," I mean not really, as she was out doing something and I was hanging out by myself.

I had a cat named Jed (I thought it was a fun name) that had died in August. Jed had been with me since 2001 and, it's always weird to explain to people who don't like pets, but we were really close and had a real connection. When an animal likes you more than anybody else, when that pet is "yours," that's what Jed and I had.

Jed died in late August and my mom decided to fill that void by getting two new cats in early September, Lucy and Nona. While today I have grown to love them very much, at the time, I was against getting them. I felt like it was too soon. But, alas, my mom got them and I had no choice but to accept it.

Since I was in the dorms and not home much, by this time in early December, I had only seen them a few times. I spent Thanksgiving Break with them and a few other days here and there. I was still getting used to them. They were only a couple months old at the time and very rambunctious. 

I was on the computer in the hallway area off from the living room. I wasn't doing anything of too much importance - goofing off on Facebook, instant messaging, etc. The television in the other room was on just for some sound. The way our apartment was set up, the heat was controlled by the downstairs apartment. The old lady cranked the heat up way too much, so her heat rose to our floor, in addition to our own heat. So, we also had the air conditioner on.

I'm on the computer, listening to the television. The cats are running through the house at full kitten-speed. They're fighting, rolling around with each other. They're causing a ruckus. All of a sudden, the computer goes off, the television goes off, and the air conditioner goes off.

The cats must have pulled out the plug to the surge protector, I say to myself. I walk over to it and see that it's plugged in. However, the button on the side of it is in the "off" position. Somehow, the cats must have stepped on it and caused it to go off. I turn it on and set everything back up. I go back to my computer.

About 20 minutes later, it happens again - the computer, television, and air conditioner all switch off. Again, I walk over and see that the surge protector is plugged in, but switched off. I turn everything back on and sit back at the computer.

About 10 minutes later, it happens again! Computer, television, air conditioner, all off. Surge protector is plugged in, but off. I turn everything on and go into the kitchen. I'm standing in the kitchen wondering what just happened when everything goes off again! Computer, television, air conditioner, all off.

I walk into the living room and feel very uneasy. I turn the surge protector on and put the television and air conditioner back on. The computer is too far away. I sit on the couch and try to process what's going on. While sitting there staring at the television, it suddenly goes off, along with the air conditioner.

I'm frozen on the couch. I'm scared and can't move. Then it gets really freaky. I hear footsteps beside the television. I know I didn't just imagine it because one of the cats, Nona, was right where the footsteps were taking place. She was frozen to the floor and wouldn't move. She could hear the footsteps just like I could.

The footsteps only lasted a few seconds. They stopped and I sat there for a few more minutes. I got up, turned the surge protector back on (but didn't turn the television back on) and got in bed. I was so freaked out I didn't know what to do. I just went to sleep and tried to forget that it happened.

* * *

So, there's three incidents in my life that have led me to believe in the plausibility of ghosts and the supernatural. What do you feel? Do you believe in ghosts? Have your own stories to share? Think I'm crazy? All comments, critiques, stories, etc are welcome.