Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Rock and John Cena trade insults on the road to WrestleMania 28

Movie star Dwayne Johnson, known in a previous life as "The Rock," returned to WWE and his old nickname in February of 2011. He was announced as the special host of WrestleMania 27, which featured a main event of The Miz vs John Cena.

During the build to that WrestleMania match, a subplot developed between The Rock and John Cena. Tensions began mounting, as the two traded insults over the weeks. Below are two posts from February 2011, which includes promos from both men.

The Rock returns to WWE

John Cena responds to The Rock

The night after WrestleMania 27, Cena issued a challenge to The Rock for a match. The Rock one-upped Cena and accepted, with the condition that it take place at WrestleMania 28. A lot of people were worried how interest could be kept in this match over the span of a year, especially with Cena being involved in other feuds between now and then.

For the most part, this feud has played out over Twitter. Both @TheRock and @JohnCena have traded insults back-and-forth online, which has kept anticipation going. Both mentioned the match in mainstream interviews. Rocky even showed up on Raw a few times to promote the feud, in addition to their tag match they had at Survivor Series against The Miz & R-Truth.

As we approach March, the biggest WWE event of the year is only a month away. WrestleMania 28 will be Sunday, April 1, from The Rock's hometown of Miami, Florida. There are no other distractions for either man. The Rock doesn't have any movies to promote and Cena has no other feuds in his way. Both are focused on what is arguably the biggest main event in WWE history.

YouTube videos will be embedded below showing how this has played out so far.

The crux of this feud looks to be that both think the other is phony. Cena does not respect the fact that The Rock left the WWE and took the high-paying Hollywood career. The Rock does not respect the fact that Cena panders to kids and doesn't come off as legitimate.

The first video is from the February 20, episode of Monday Night Raw. In it, Cena fires the first shot, talking about how fake he thinks Dwayne Johnson is, talking about his entourage and how he'll be gone as soon as WrestleMania is over. He notes that The Rock will be in attendance the following week. The next three are from the February 27, episode of Monday Night Raw. They show The Rock doing what he does best, electrifying the crowd. Cena comes out and "shoots" about his feelings on The Rock, before throwing the microphone down and leaving.

Feb. 20, John Cena talks about The Rock

Feb. 27, The Rock returns to Monday Night Raw (part 1)

Feb. 27, The Rock returns to Monday Night Raw (part 2)

Feb. 27, The Rock returns to Monday Night Raw (part 3)

I'm not sure when The Rock will return to Monday Night Raw again, but I'm sure we'll be seeing a lot of him as we get closer to April 1, and one of the biggest main events in WrestleMania history. I'll share more thoughts about The Rock's return (and these reports that others wrestlers are jealous) at some point over at Under the Ring.

Feel free to leave any comments here or on Facebook if you so feel inclined.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

My Facebook Timeline

It seems like every other month or so, Facebook rolls out some new layout or new option that is designed to make your experience on the social-networking site easier and more streamlined. For the most part, these new changes just serve to make people angry and set off a wave of "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" status updates.

The most-recent breakthrough for Facebook came at the beginning of the year and seems to be fairly well-received by the jaded Facebook community. It is the "Timeline," and most seem to like it.

The timeline is what it basically says it is, a loose chronological history of your time on Facebook. Off to the side of your page is a list of years. If you click on, say, 2009, it will tell you the biggest things that happened to you then. You became friends with so-and-so, you posted that status about your fun vacation, you broke up with some guy, you uploaded those pictures from that one crazy night, etc...

People love nostalgia, the ability to reminisce on "the good old days," or what we perceive to be better times.

As of right now, the Facebook timeline is an optional feature. You have to turn it on yourself and set it up manually. Otherwise, you have the previous Facebook layout. I have not enacted the Facebook timeline. Why not? I've been on Facebook since 2005. That's quite a bit of history there.

I joined Facebook in October 2005, my sophomore year of college. At that point, Facebook was not the cultural phenomenon that it was to become years later, spawning books, a movie, and making creator Mark Zuckerburg a cultural icon. At that time, Facebook was something designed only for college students. Your college had to apply with Facebook to have a network set up, and you had to have a valid college email account to use it.

Back then, Facebook was just a profile picture, a wall, a friends list, and groups. There were no status updates, no photo albums, no "It's complicated" relationships, no Farmville, nothing exciting like that. It was used to network. I met new people at Concord and reconnected with old friends who were going to West Virginia University and Marshall.

I was actually one of the few back then who actually was on Facebook before MySpace. I created my Facebook account in October 2005 and didn't get on MySpace until December of 2005. Most started with MySpace in high school due to it being open to everybody, then got on Facebook in college, before eventually everybody abandoned MySpace after Facebook became open to everybody.

I utilized the crap out of Facebook. Once status updates became available, I was all over that. When relationship statuses popped up, I let everybody know about that. Photo albums came around sometime in 2006, and I chronicled my life in picture form from that point on. I had hundreds upon hundreds of friends. In short, I used Facebook to the max of its potential at that point.

Why wouldn't I want to utilize the timeline to reflect and show others?

If I enacted the timeline, it would say something to the effect of: "Chris Slater joined Facebook in 2009. He acquired a couple hundred friends right away. He posted a few pictures over the years. He only posts links to his blog in status updates. He began dating Candace Nelson in 2010."

What happened? I'm not 100 percent sure. My first blog post here, Welcome to my new home, kind of explains it a little bit. Since 2006, I utilized the blog feature on my MySpace account as a medium for journalism. I feel like I was a bit of a trendsetter in that regard. I wrote about a lot of things, mostly related to Concord University and its Student Government Association. 

At some point in early 2009, my email address was hacked or phished or something and my MySpace account was deleted. I feel like it was hacked, because usually phishing attempts aren't that malicious. I got everything sorted out and changed my passwords and created a new MySpace account. I was back in the swing of things, until one night I was in my dorm room (room 216 of Wooddell Hall), when I tried to log into my Facebook and was told my password was not correct. I went to my email and couldn't log in there either. I tried to get into MySpace again, but I couldn't.

"Not this again," I thought to myself. This time was a lot worse. The MySpace account was deleted again. But, the Facebook and Twitter were kept up and running under my name. Somebody was using my account and pretending to be me. My Facebook and Twitter profile pictures were replaced with a guy wearing a KKK mask. It was a rough couple days, trying to deal with that.

My online identity was something that I felt was so important to me. And it had been taken away. It took a couple days, but I got a new Facebook and Twitter up and running. At that point with Twitter, I only had something like a couple hundred tweets that were lost. Now I would have almost 30,000 that would be gone.

The Facebook account was different. A huge chunk of my life from 2005-onward was lost. Pictures, memories, everything, gone. I recreated one, but it wasn't really the same. If you go check out my Facebook right now, I really only use it to post links to my blog or post pictures in that "Progression" album of my hair over the years.

So, while the Facebook timeline is a cool deal and I could see a lot of people being really excited about it, all it does for me is remind me of what I used to have. My timeline isn't an honest representation of my life on Facebook, and as such, I don't want to utilize the feature. 

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

CM Punk - Chris Brown twitter feud

The WWE's biggest pay-per-view event of the year, WrestleMania, will be held April 1, 2012, in Miami, Florida. One of the biggest attractions this year will be The Rock vs John Cena. The World Heavyweight Championship that Daniel Bryan holds will be defended against Sheamus. By virtue of winning the Royal Rumble match, Sheamus got the opportunity to choose whether to challenge for the World Championship (held by Daniel Bryan) or the WWE Championship (held by CM Punk). Sheamus made his decision on Sunday night. He chose Daniel Bryan.

After Sheamus' decision, Punk was making some light-hearted tweets wondering about who he would face at WrestleMania. The next night it was revealed to be Chris Jericho. But that night, Punk was tweeting about who he'd like to face and sent the following about the musician Chris Brown:

"I would like @chrisbrown fight somebody that can defend themselves. Me curb stomping that turd would be a #wrestlemania moment."

I read that and had a chuckle to myself. That was sometime around midnight. At roughly 4 am on Monday morning, I couldn't sleep and saw on the twitter machine that Chris Brown had responded. I'm assuming that everybody knows, but for those who don't, Chris Brown had a very highly-publicized domestic incident where he attacked the musician Rihanna and left her face looking a horrible mess when he was done.

[As an aside, Brown has somewhat, somehow successfully rehabbed his image over the last few years and won a couple Grammy awards a few weeks ago. A prominent Grammy spokesman was quoted as saying that he was rooting for Chris Brown after "all that he had been through." A minor controversy ensued shortly after when several female fans of Brown's tweeted something to the effect of the fact that they'd let Brown beat them anytime he wanted to. Obviously, they're going for a sexual metaphor there, but it really just doesn't sound right.]

Brown responded:

"@CMpunk needs more followers. He's such a leader! Not to mention the roids hes on had made it utterly impossible for him to pleasure a women."

That tweet was later deleted and Brown tweeted a followup:

"Positivity regardless of how u feel! @CMpunk contact my assistant and I'll have em send u an autographed pic for my biggest FAN!!!"

It made a minor buzz, and TMZ is famous for being all over minor celebrity buzz, so they jumped all over it.

Punk, offended by Brown's accusations that he was on steroids, posted a video response. In it, he points out that he lives a Straight Edge lifestyle (he has "Straight Edge" tattooed on his stomach and "Drug Free" tattooed on his knuckles), and he also took Brown to task for being an abuser. The video is below.

Punk has been known to be very outspoken, and he has referred to a microphone in his hands as being a "pipe bomb" on numerous occasions. He was true to form here.

Brown watched the video and responded with the following two tweets:

"@cmpunk the video u posted was cute! It's so funny how defensive u are."

"And the fact that I really don't know who you are and could give a shit is the funny part!"

He then tweeted about some of his favorite wrestlers from back in the day, mentioning "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan, Bret Hart, Roddy Piper, and The Rock. He even started the hashtag #notnopunks.

Brown appears to be trying to put an end to the "feud," as he sent out what he says will be his final tweet on the subject:

"Note:today will be the last day I bring @cmpunk existence  up!The confrontations that people continuously bring my way are very amusing."

Aside from tweeting the video I embedded above, Punk has not responded to the Brown "feud," aside from a tweet containing nothing but a simple hashtag - #aintnowomanbeater.

TMZ has also jumped back into the fray, posting an article with Punk's video. They also took to twitter, asking followers if they were on #teampunk or #teambreezy (Breezy being a nickname for Brown). You can click those links and check out what fans of both are saying.

For my take on the situation, obviously I'm biased, since I've been a huge CM Punk fan since 2004. But, that shouldn't matter. Because Chris Brown beat a woman. He didn't just hit a woman. He beat her so badly that you couldn't even recognize her. He beat her so badly that I'm not even going to post a link to the leaked police photo of Rihanna's face.

It's one thing for two people to start an argument over something. Somebody feels one way and somebody else feels differently. That's human nature. But, the fact that there are two sides to this is total bullshit.

Punk's argument is that Chris Brown isn't a man because of what he did and he has no respect for him. For Chris Brown to acknowledge it is horrible, because he's fanning the flames. TMZ wasn't going to report on just Punk's tweet. They reported on it when Brown and his fans responded.

For Brown to make fun of Punk's video is horrible. The video is Punk putting down Brown for beating a woman. And Chris Brown is laughing that off.

Chris Brown is a piece of shit. Plain and simple. Nothing else needs to be said on the subject.

Friday, February 17, 2012

One step forward, two steps back

For the first time in a long time, I was excited about where my life was going. I had a new job, I was starting a couple exciting side projects; in short, I was feeling good. That was in November. It is now the middle of February. I am just now recovering from the months in between.

I don't really understand where the last couple months of my life went, how the rug was seemingly pulled out from under me. Let's just take it from the beginning and examine things.

I had worked at Pizza Hut since 2005. By late 2011, while there was no official position, I was clearly the second in command. I didn't like that job by the end. But like a lot of things, you stay with it because it's easy and convenient. I didn't want to learn any new menial skills and I got accustomed to angry customers yelling at me.

A lot of people couldn't handle it, but I learned to accept the angry rednecks that yelled at me. They weren't really angry at me. They were angry at their own lives, and they just used the issues with their pizza to lash out. You're not really angry that the driver forgot to deliver ranch dressing with your pizza. You're angry that you live in a skanky trailer park with 4 kids and no future. The lack of fattening, smelly salad dressing to dip your pizza in just sets you over the edge. You yell at me. I pretend to care. We both go about our day.

A common tweet from me after a day of work used to go something like: "Only got yelled at once. Pretty good day." I accepted it and didn't try to change it. That all changed one night in September.

I don't think anybody will argue that the last two general managers of Pizza Hut were qualified for the job. That's coming from a guy who was friends with both of them. I think the fact that I worked there longer than both of them combined speaks volumes about their experience. Both only got the positions because the previous GM left and upper management thought it would be easier to promote somebody in-house than look elsewhere. Neither lasted over a year. The first quit before he could be fired. The second was demoted instead of fired. He then put in his two week's notice and left.

So, that's the kind of organization I worked in for the final two years. To say that it was hectic and unorganized would be an understatement. I'll admit that I was part of the problem. I tried to work hard and help out at first. But, I saw my boss who made over $10,000 more per year than me not pulling his weight, so I decided not to pull my weight.

Back to that one night in September. To successfully run a Pizza Hut, you need at least two cooks, one server, one delivery driver, and one manager. We didn't even have any cooks. Upper management is never any help, so I was in charge and screwed. It was busy and we were having trouble keeping up with the demand. Then, the delivery driver suddenly quit in the middle of the shift. He just said "fuck it" and left. So, me and one other girl are left. Orders are backing up, phones are ringing, and now I'm telling her to call all these delivery recipients back to tell them what's going on.

Long story short, I was getting yelled at by several customers that night. Nothing too bad, just the standard stuff I was used to - "Why is it taking so long?" "This is ridiculous!" "I can’t believe this!" They're not mad at me, they're just mad at the situation and are taking it out on me.

Then four different customers make it personal. The first berates me and leaves. The second wants to know why nobody's there. I tell her I can't find anybody. She berates me and leaves. The third and fourth both gang up on me and proceed to brow-beat me for over half an hour. They're just relentless - "You don't know what the fuck you're doing here." "You're supposed to be a manager and this place is falling apart." I'm calm and rational. I say, "If you will stop yelling at me, I can go make your pizza."

It's going on for so long that the waitress is crying. She's 18-years-old, just out of high school, this was her first job. She had never been in anything like this before. These two assholes are causing a scene yelling at me, and she's watching it and starts crying.

The phone rings for an order. She's in no condition to do anything, and I've unofficially closed the restaurant down. I just walk away from the guy yelling at me and answer the phone. He finally realizes he's made this girl cry. I don't often get mad at customers, but he finally set me over the edge. I heard him say, "Don't cry, sweetie. I'm not mad at you. I'm mad at him. He doesn't know what he's doing here."

I walk back over to him. He yells for his refund. I get out $13 and some change. With my teeth gritted so I don't yell at the top of my lungs, I hand him the money and say "Take your refund and get the fuck out of here."

He flips out and calls the police. For almost an hour, that guy is in the Pizza Hut parking lot with a police officer. The officer comes in and talks to me. I recount the story. He walks out and talks to the guy again. He finally comes back in. He rolls his eyes and says, "I told that guy that I'm coming in here to tell you to be nicer to the customers." I apologize for taking up the officers time. He leaves. I call the GM and let him know. Since it's late, I text the GM's boss and let him know what's going on.

A couple days pass. I'm the talk of the Pizza Hut. "Did you really say that?" I hear over and over. The one person I don't hear anything from is the GM's boss, the "Area Coach." We're all waiting for a reprimanding, but it never comes.

Two weeks pass. The Area Coach had previously told me what a smart guy he thought I was and all these other compliments. I chalked this up to him not saying anything because it's common sense. In six years, I've never had anything like this happen. This was a one-time thing and it's not going to happen again. There's no need to talk about it.

At the two-week mark, the Area Coach makes a visit to Pizza Hut and finally talks to me. It's one thing to talk about an issue. It's another thing to make somebody feel like a piece of shit. He made me feel like a piece of shit. He went on about how I was a horrible leader and a bad member of the team and that if anything like this ever happened again, he would make sure I was fired. I registered all of that and put in my two week's notice at the end of the night.

I then went out and got another job. It was at one of those gambling places. It was called Patty's. People go in and gamble. I oversee everything. If they win money, I give it to them. If they want something to drink, I give it to them.

I don't think anybody at Pizza Hut expected me to actually leave. I think that because I was never replaced. I told them for two weeks that I was leaving and my position was never filled. I had a new job and they still needed me to work at Pizza Hut. So, my two-week notice became a six-week notice. I stayed at Pizza Hut for nearly an extra month.

Patty's was so good for me. The only drawback was that I constantly smelled like cigarette smoke. But, I was able to sit down and relax, something that was impossible at Pizza Hut. I worked on my long-dormant magazine project. I was looking ahead to possibly going back to school for the spring semester. In essence, getting this new job was the first step to getting things back on track. It wasn't a glamorous job, but it was the stepping stone to getting my mind cleared to where I could achieve a glamorous job.

I was happy and feeling good for the first time in a while. That all changed around Thanksgiving.

A friend texted me, asked where I was at. I said at work. He showed up. He was drunk. I didn't want him there, but what could I do? You're allowed to drink at Patty’s, so that wasn't really an issue. Then he left and came back reeking of marijuana. And while I don't know if it was affecting him yet, I know a crushed-up pill had just entered his nasal cavity.

I turn my back for a minute and he's wondering back behind the counter, opening cabinets and being loud. Just being a nuisance. I try to calm him down, but it's not working. So, I make him leave.

A couple days pass and I don't hear anything about it. The Saturday before Thanksgiving, I have to work that evening. I get a phone call from my boss. She asks me to come in early. Candace is in town visiting, so I cut short my lunch plans and head to work. I go into the back area and see my boss solemnly sitting down beside her boss. Her boss proceeds to fire me. I go back home and tell Candace what's going on. The next day, I go on the job hunt. I figure it won't be too hard. I got the job at Patty's and then had to turn down three additional jobs.

I got fired on Saturday. On Tuesday, I have a job interview for another gambling place. I explain the Patty's situation and she tells me to show up to work that night. I go in and I have no idea how to explain what happens next, really. The job is a tip-based job. You bring people their winnings and snacks and such, and they throw a couple bucks your way. An older woman was working there and showing me how things were done. I didn't want to interfere with her tips, so I didn't interact with the customers that much.

I show up the next night for my second day at work. I walk in and the woman there seems perplexed to see me. I start to walk to the back. She says, "Did nobody call you?" Nobody did. Apparently I was fired and nobody let me know. A woman I didn't get a drink for was friends with the owner and called her and didn't like me, so I was fired.

I worked at the same job for six years. Then I'm fired from two jobs in the span of four days. I put my tail between my legs and go back to Pizza Hut. I'm put back on the schedule. My first day back is one of the first days of December. The night before, I'm laying in bed thinking about how much I hate that place. I'm thinking about how I had to turn down three jobs less than a month ago. I'm thinking about how easy it was to find those other jobs. I fall asleep. I wake up five hours late for work. I don't know what happened. I guess subconsciously I turned my alarm off without fully waking up or something, because I don't remember it going off. I’m laying there wondering what to do. I then make the decision to not go to work and to never go back to Pizza Hut.

How hard could it be to find another job? Pretty hard. It took me two months to find another job.

Two fucking months!

I lounged around for a few days, then commenced the job hunt. I started with some nicer places, some office-type jobs. As the days and weeks progressed, I kept going lower down the totem pole of jobs. Those office and secretarial jobs didn't call back. The gas stations didn't call back. Walmart didn't call back. I have never felt lower than when fucking McDonalds didn't call back.

The one positive that I can kind of look at is that I had saved up enough money to pretty much survive for almost two months without a job. I had been doing decently until this little stretch. But I just don't understand how it can take that long to find a job. I applied for jobs in three different counties in the state. I admittedly started off a little slow, thinking it wouldn't take very long. Then I got depressed around the middle of my unemployed stretch and took a few days off from the job hunt and just stayed in bed. But, for the most part, I feel like I tried as hard as I could have to find employment.

But, I guess we're starting back where I was in November. I finally have a job. It's nothing exciting or anything that I'm really proud of. I'm honestly glad that McDonalds didn't call back. I was scraping the bottom of the barrel there. My two-month exile is hopefully over. The magazine project is on hold for now. I need to get some money back together and motivation and I'll try to launch that over the summer. But, we'll see how the next few months play out.

I'm finally over my two-month rut. I was doing good for a month there and then everything just sort of went to hell. I'm finally getting my life back on track. I'll let you know how it goes.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Walter Blankenship

Walter Blankenship passed away Friday night. I believe he was 32. I may have seen Walt a few times over the years here and there, but I really didn't get to know him until he started working at Pizza Hut with me in the spring of 2010.

Walter Blankenship was a very complex man. I can't say that we were best friends or anything. I didn't know much about his life and he didn't know much about mine. But, over the year-plus that we worked together, we definitely formed a friendship and got to know each other to a degree.

On the outside, if you didn't know him well, he could seem abraisive and maybe even a little scary. There were more than a few times when he would get angry and I would do my best to stay out of his way. But, if he let you past that exterior, you would have been pleasantly surprised to know that he was a really nice guy. Once he showed you that he liked you, your relationship with him changed completely.

One of the things that surprised me the most was realizing how smart and talented Walt actually was. As I mentioned, in the beginning, that gruff exterior was still up. Then, a few weeks after I met him, it was a busy day at work and in discussing it, he made a Dante's Inferno reference. Shortly after that, Walt randomly one day began singing Myley Cyrus' "Party in the USA" and mentioned that he had learned to play that song on the guitar. I asked why. He replied "Why not?"

When work was slow, Walt and others would grab their skateboards and goof off in the parking lot. Pizza Hut seemed to be full of employees who were either good at skateboarding, guitar, or video games. I never saw Walt play guitar in a band, but I knew of a few of his bands; Pariah Carey being the most notable. By the time I met him, music was more of a hobby for him when he had a chance and I saw him play a few times here and there late at night after a few drinks.

Like a lot of people who live in Princeton (and work at Pizza Hut), Walt seemed directionless at times. He had hopes and aspirations and things that he wanted to accomplish, but he was seemingly stuck where he was. When it seems like you can't change your situation, all you can really change is your mood. Walt, like many others around him, would alter his mood through a variety of different means.

Sometimes doing that is fun. But then sometimes you do it so much and so often that it gets scary for those around you. Last summer, Walt got to that point. I would see him at work stumbling around and nodding off, and I worried about him. We all had those conversations behind his back, like "What are we gonna do about Walt?" Nobody was really sure what to do. I had one discussion with him. Not wanting to be too direct to make him mad, all I said was to make sure nobody could tell he was on anything while he was at work. He assured me that he was okay and that those were isolated incidents.

As summer turned to fall, Walt abruptly quit Pizza Hut and moved to Ohio. I thought it would be good for him. He had family out there and often talked about his desire to go there.

The last time I talked to Walt was around Thanksgiving. He had gotten a new phone and texted me his new number. He told me he was enjoying Ohio and had cleaned up his act. I was happy for him and told him that. We agreed to stay in touch. Sadly, we didn't. I never talked to him again.

A friend sent me a text Saturday evening asking if I had heard about Walt. I said no. He told me that he had died. I was shocked. I went to Facebook to see if I could confirm it and get some details. I found several people talking about his death. I assume more people know by now, as at least a day has passed. But, I sent out a few "Did you hear about Walt?" texts myself and had to fill some people in on the information.

It looks like the rumor mill has already started churning, as somebody left a comment on Walt's on-again, off-again girlfriend's Facebook page asking if we knew who had killed Walt yet. She then stated that his cause of death was aspiration, caused by excessive drinking. When you load your body up with depressants, it's harder for your body to protect itself against things like choking or being unable to breathe. As of right now, that's all I've heard regarding his cause of death.

I've blogged a couple times in the past about Walt. In the summer of 2010, I posted a blog titled "I'm fuckin blockin, Walt" which was a short video of a guy playing a video game and asking Walt for help. All Walt would say was "Block, block, block" which prompted him to reply "I'm fuckin' blockin' Walt!" The next time was a little more personal. In January of 2011, I wrote a blog titled My headshot for life. I looked at some issues I was having regarding life and college. I posted a conversation I had regarding those subjects with an anonymous Pizza Hut employee. If you go read that blog and look at the description of that guy I talked to, you'll notice that I described Walt.

Something a lot of people probably didn't know about Walt was that he had a Twitter account. I introducted twitter to a lot of my Pizza Hut friends back in 2009 and when Walt came back into the picture a year later, they introduced it to him.

I feel like his account, @Peteyman5000, was an interesting look into his head, as he often posted some pretty intense thoughts on everything ranging from the economy, the government, relationships, laws, and drugs. He got the account back in 2010 and tweeted for a few months before forgetting his password and not caring enough to find it out again. I noticed about a month ago that he had started tweeting again. His last tweet was sent February 1, and in an odd way is somewhat fitting - "Girl, you know i'm no good at court ordered goodbyes."

In April of last year, I was working with Walt and we were closing down Pizza Hut together. A grease trap started to overflow and I thought his initial reaction was funny, so I pulled my phone out and started recording. After hearing of his death, I decided to upload it to YouTube to share with his friends. If you've been around Walt long enough, you had surely heard him get angry and go on one of his infamous rants. It gets a little morbid near the end, as he talks a little about death, but taken as a whole, I feel like it's pretty funny and is an example of "Walt being Walt."

If anybody wants to share any thougths about Walt, feel free to do so here.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Concord University Alternative Spring Break

Concord University is holding one final interest meeting for their annual "Alternative Spring Break" event, Monday February 6 at 6 p.m. in the State Room. It looks like this year's event will be held in Charleston, South Carolina. I don't know a lot about the events, as I've never participated, but I know some people who have. You travel with a group of people and do volunteer work. Past events have featured some religious undertones; I'm not sure about the current events.

For more information, check out the Alternative Spring Break blog. It also directs to their Facebook page. Link is here -

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Best in the World

There's a famous promo by legendary grappler Terry Funk. In his southern drawl, he exclaims "The name on the marquee says Wrestling, spelled Dubya-R-E-S-T-L-I-N-G."

WWE created the term "sports entertainment" in the 1980s. Back then, though, it was mostly a backstage term used to describe the product they were putting out. The term didn't become part of a wrestling fan's vocabulary until the late 1990s and early 2000s. WWE has stated for years now that they don't do wrestling or feature wrestlers, they are a sports entertainment company.

What that means is that they emphasize showmanship and flair over actual in-ring competition. Starting with Hulk Hogan and continuing with John Cena, it doesn't matter if you're the greatest mat-based wrestler. As long as the crowd reacts and you sell merchandise, you're a star.

Ring of Honor was founded in 2002. They heavily promote the fact that they are not a sports entertainment company. They promote wrestling and feature some of the best wrestlers in the world.

Two of the greatest wrestlers in Ring of Honor in the mid 2000s were CM Punk and Bryan Danielson. Since enacting their brand extension in 2002, WWE has had a Heavyweight champion on their two shows, Raw and Smackdown. In 2012, the WWE Champion on Raw is CM Punk and the World Heavyweight Champion on Smackdown is Daniel Bryan, the man formerly known as Bryan Danielson.

It has been a nice change of pace over the last several months to see WWE reward some of their better wrestlers. It is a true testament to the fact that learning your craft and becoming the best at what you do will pay off. It is no longer the days in wrestling of buff bodybuilders who get winded after 5 minutes in the ring.

There might be better interviews. There might be better looks, cosmetically. There might be better PR shills for the company. But from a mat-based, technical standpoint, there is nobody in the WWE who can touch CM Punk and Daniel Bryan in the ring.

For years, only the hardcore fans knew it. CM Punk debuted in WWE in 2006 and was shown to be good, but they never let him become the true superstar that he knew he could be. Finally, last summer they cut his leash off and let him loose. It's the same with Daniel Bryan. He debuted in 2010, and was presented as somebody who was a good wrestler, but he didn't get the chance to showcase his true skills.

There's a reason for that. If CM Punk and Daniel Bryan and countless others like them were allowed to run at full speed years ago, they would have blown past everybody in WWE. Cena, Randy Orton, Kane, Batista, JBL, Big Show, etc... can't hold a candle to the ring work and presentation of what we'll call the "ROH Guys."

The reason hardcore wrestling fans are so happy for Punk and Bryan is that this isn't just a victory for them individually. This is a victory for every true wrestler who was held down over the years, when your physical build was more important than your ability. Punk and Bryan have shown that they can be sports entertainers. They can be dramatic, funny, flashy, everything that they need to be in interviews. But, they have the solid wrestling background to back it up that most don't have.

The stigma of being a wrestler on the independent scene used to be impossible to overcome. Being labeled an "indy guy" was often the kiss of death for a WWE superstar. Punk and Bryan have seemingly flaunted that in WWE's face on numerous occasions. The night Bryan won the World Championship (Punk won his the previous month), Punk tweeted a picture of the two of them with their championships and the caption, "Not bad for two indy schmucks."

Punk and Bryan appeared the next night in Philadelphia. The "City of Brotherly Love" has been an important area in wrestling history. In addition to numerous other claims, Philadelphia is considered the home base of Ring of Honor. With the two of them standing the ring together, Punk indirectly mentioned the company that made them both stars, noting that they met 10 years ago down the street at the Murphy Rec. Plex (the gymnasium that was home to several early ROH events).

Embedded above is a video of these two men wrestling this past Monday on Raw. The basis for the match was that they were both calling themselves the Best in the World. Embedded below is a video featuring highlights from a match these two had in 2004. Look at how small the audience is. Look at how small-time it looks. But, then, look at the world-class action in the ring. These two men were having this type of match years ago, and WWE has only recently given them the opportunity to show everybody that they are both among the Best in the World.

Early in the video the words "I hope your parents die" flash on the screen as CM Punk looks at the crowd. That's because he yells that at a member of the audience. Click here to watch just that scene.

Seeing my grandpa

I recently spent a few days at my grandpa's house in Ripley, WV. Location wise, if you drew a compass on the state of West Virginia, Princeton would be around where the "S" would be written. Ripley is around where the "W" would be. It's right on the border of Ohio.

I blogged back in December that my grandpa had cancer and underwent surgery to remove his stomach, which contained some tumors. During the surgery, they realized that it had spread to several other areas of his body.

A lot of my friends don't like how openly I talk about death sometimes. But, I'm realistic about things. At 71-years-old, with no stomach, and a cancer-riddled body, he's basically sitting around waiting to die. It's rough to watch, but my mom is insistent that I make several trips up to see my grandpa waste away in front of me.

It's rough. When I first came down around the time of his surgery, I noticed that he had lost a little weight. With the cancer in his stomach, he couldn't keep anything down. Now, he has no stomach. I'm no doctor, so I can't go too in-depth with this, but they somehow rigged his intestines up to his throat. I initially saw something about this years ago on that Ripley's Believe it or Not! show. A guy had tried to commit suicide by drinking pipe cleaner. He survived, but it ate away at his stomach to the point where they had to remove it.

I saw him last week. He's lost roughly 60 pounds. His face is really thin and he's starting to get those thin anorexic-girl arms. He's around 6-feet tall and has weighed around 200 pounds for as long as I've been alive. He's always been in decent shape, but developed a little gut as he got older. He weighed himself on Saturday. He was down to 137 lbs. They then asked me to weigh myself. I'm around 5'5" and came in at 148. I weigh more than my grandpa does.

Over the years, my grandpa has collected quite a bit of stuff. The kind of stuff you initially look at and dismiss it as junk. But, it's also that same kind of stuff that sells for a lot of money on Ebay and is appraised for a lot of money on Antiques Roadshow. So, he's been talking about selling a lot of that stuff to help pay for his funeral. Stuff like antique cabinets, old pitchers, antique razors, old Elvis memorabilia, and assorted other knick knacks. Like, a 2-story house full of that stuff.

I've been doing fairly good at keeping my emotions in check, especially in front of my grandpa. I'm sure he wouldn't want to see me getting sad about seeing him like that. He was talking to me about selling all of his stuff, and said he'd like to help me out a little bit and asked what my debts were. I thought he meant that wanted to give me some extra cash to help get caught up on bills, so I thought for a second and added some numbers in my head. I told him my bills were about $500. He then told me that he meant school debt, which I realized meant he was talking about student loans. I gave him a ballpark estimate and he told me he'd see what he could do.

It really moved me and made me very emotional to realize that even in his last moments, he still wants to try and take care of me.

One of the hardest hardest things for me, though, is a completely mental one. My great grandma (my grandpa's mom) died when I was 8, when she was 82. I have no memories of her as anything other than an old, feeble woman. She walked around with a cane, but generally she was okay. Shortly before she died, her health took a turn for the worse and she had to use a walker to get around. So, I've always associated that in my head with her death. When I think of my healthy great grandma, I picture her with a cane. When I think of her before she died, she has a walker.

When I saw my grandpa shortly before his surgery, nobody really told me what to expect. I didn't know what kind of physical state he was in. I was just told to come see him. So, it really freaked me out when I saw him shuffling through the kitchen using a walker for support.

But, I've gotten used to that. I guess. I also guess I've gotten used to everything else about my grandpa's current condition. I'm not sure when I'm going to see him again. My mom has implied that every free day should be spent with my grandpa. She says these things, and she fails to remember that a two-hour drive, passing through three toll booths is not a financially-responsible drive to be making regularly. So, we'll see what happens with that.