Friday, September 28, 2012

Concord SGA meeting notes [09-26-12]

I attended the 09-26-12 meeting of @CUSGA. Here are a few notes.

Josh Hanna, SGA President, noted that he had a discussion with "somebody" (who was later identified as George Towers, Associate Academic Dean, although nobody said his position during the meeting). Dr. Towers spoke with Josh about the fact that Concord University needs to add another day of Monday classes (next semester presumably; it was never mentioned when), due to losing too many Mondays from breaks.

This has been an issue for years. Monday night classes never seem to be meeting enough, due to the fact that the semester starts on a Wednesday (so there's one class period gone), Labor Day (so there's a second Monday gone), Fall Break (there's a third Monday gone), and Thanksgiving Break (a fourth Monday gone).

Dr. Towers presented Josh with four options to bring an extra Monday into the equation. Josh shared them with the SGA body and asked them for their opinion. The options are:

1) Remove Monday and Tuesday from Thanksgiving Break.

2) Start Monday instead of Wednesday at the beginning of the semester.

3) Have class during the first Monday of finals week, then finals would go from Tuesday until the following Monday.

4) Have class during the first Monday of finals week, then finals would be from Tuesday-Friday.

Nobody seemed to like the idea of options 1, 3, and 4. Most of the people there probably didn't know that finals used to only be a 4-day week, with tests from Monday-Thursday. So, option 4 used to be in play, sort of.

Option 2, which is what most universities do already, was the general consensus of the best choice. Some brought up issues that could arise with that, including added stress and workload to the Housing staff, who would likely have to move freshmen and upperclassmen in at the same time. And, also, how would it affect freshmen orientation activities, since that Monday and Tuesday before classes are used for those purposes.

Josh said he would get back to Dr. Towers with that information. We'll see what happens from there.

As a sidenote, if I can offer any sort of advice to President Hanna, it would be to explain things better to those at the meeting. Most of those people probably have no idea who Dr. Towers is or why he's important and a lot of them were confused as to why we needed to add an extra Monday class. Assume nobody knows anything. Start from the beginning and explain things fully and easily.

The other important thing to happen at the SGA meeting was that student representatives for the Concord University Student Affairs Committee (abbreviated CUSAC, pronounced Q-Sack) were voted on. The members are: SGA Vice President Chelsea Rowe, Zack Whitfield, Drew [didn't get his last name], and James Blankenship. I believe one of those guys is the SGA Parliamentarian and the other two are Senators, but I don't recall which is which. [I realized I was covering the SGA a lot back in the day when I no longer had to look up how to spell Parliamentarian...]

During the meeting, it was attempted to explain what Q-Sack is. I like to think of Q-Sack as one of the more important committees at Concord. I doesn't necessarily have a lot of power, but rather a lot of influence. It's comprised of students, faculty, and staff and they meet to discuss ways to try and make Concord a better place. They then take their ideas to the higher committees that actually get things done.

Things that the Q-Sack have looked into in years past have been issues surrounding dorm visitation hours, expanding tailgating to baseball games, and looking into creating a new scholarship system that was ultimately unsuccessful (click here to see a blog I wrote about it). Not everything Q-Sack works on becomes reality, but they usually have a lot of good ideas.

Those are the two biggest things from the meeting. If anybody wants to add anything else, please feel free.

Some commentary: I still don't know what's going on with regular committees. Is there a reason that nobody is chairing the Technology, Dining, Safety, ADA, SGA Affairs, etc... committees? 

As a final note, I tweeted on Wednesday that the SGA should start updating their twitter account more. Attorney General Richard Babich replied via tweet and said he would look into that. SGA Transparency has been an issue I have written about for years. Read this blog from 2010. Change some of the names around and put 2012 into the date and it's still relevant - http://chrisslater.blogspot.com/2010/11/sga-transparency.html

Here's my disclaimer:

I import these blogs into Facebook. That gives me the option to "tag" people, sending them an e-mail notification. I tag people for two reasons - 1) if I mention you by name & 2) if I think you will find this interesting. If you are tagged and don't want to be, let me know. If I don't tag you & you'd like to be tagged in the future, let me know.

There is a comment feature on this blog & I don't mind if you use it. It's cool to disagree, as long as it's kept civil. Anonymous comments are allowed, as long as it's relevant & mildly profanity free.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Stronger



Kanye West is probably one of my favorite rappers right now. I enjoy how he likes to explore new sub-genres of hip hop and play around with different sounds. He's a great artist. This is one of my favorite tracks of his.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Jean Beasley

I saw the other night that Jean Beasley, the wife of former Concord University President Dr. Jerry Beasley, had passed away. Click here to see a press release Concord University put out.

Jerry Beasley was President of Concord from 1985 until the end of the 2007-2008 academic year, which was the same year I was Editor-in-Chief of The Concordian. So, his last year was a big topic I covered a few times throughout the year.

Dr. Beasley was my favorite person at Concord University. I got to be pretty close to him during the four years I interacted with him. I first met him in 2004. I was new to the newspaper staff and only my third or fourth story assignment was to go interview him about some sort of study Concord had released. I was really nervous going to his office and talking to the most important man at the University. But, he immediately put me at ease as soon as I saw him. He was down-to-earth and very nice to me.

I interviewed him and completed the story. I thought it was pretty good. A couple weeks after the story was printed I was walking around campus and Dr. Beasley happened to be passing by. He remembered my name and said hi to me.

Every so often over the course of the next several academic years, I would interview Dr. Beasley and it would always turn into a discussion about our lives. In 2007, for the first issue of his last year, I sat down in his office and he started off asking how my summer went. After probably 15 minutes of him asking questions to me, he stopped and laughed and said, "This probably isn't what you're here to talk about."

I had one interaction with Jean Beasley and it has stuck with me since it occurred in the spring of 2008. I wrote an editorial piece in The Concordian that was really catching a lot of heat from my fellow students. First, a backstory:

A search committee had been formed to find a replacement for President Beasley. They would narrow all of the applicants and give their list of however many (6, maybe) to the Board of Governors, and the BOG would decide on the next President. The BOG listened to a lot of people to help them make their decision, including letting three of the main constituency groups on campus vote for their pick after the final candidates had made visits to campus and spoken with them.

The three constituency groups were the faculty, administration, and the students. The only candidate for President who was already in-house at Concord was Dr. John David Smith, a very popular man around campus. The three groups voted. The faculty and administration, of which Dr. Smith was a member of both (as a professor and Vice President), did not select Smith. I was at the SGA meeting when the student representatives selected their candidate. A couple student leaders decried the faculty and admin picks and basically urged people to select Dr. Smith for the sole reason being that he was Dr. Smith.

I wrote a piece basically saying it was irresponsible for the SGA representatives to select Dr. Smith just because of who he was and not taking into consideration who was really the best choice for Concord. A few weeks later, Dr. Gregory Aloia was selected.

Shortly after that article was printed, I went to my campus mailbox and discovered an envelope that contained a handwritten letter. It was from Jean Beasley. She praised the article I had written and said that she really liked that I stood up for what I believed in, even if it wasn't a popular opinion. She said a couple more complimentary things and I really appreciated that she went out of her way to tell me what she thought.

I only saw Dr. Beasley a couple times since 2008. I only saw Jean Beasley once, but she and her husband were walking down the street in Athens as I was driving by. I never got a chance to tell her how much that meant to me. Since I couldn't do that, I'll just tell everybody else that I really appreciated what she did and thought it was very nice of her.

Monday, September 24, 2012

SGA meeting notes [09-19-12]

I attended the Sept. 19, 2012 meeting of Concord University's Student Government Association. I'm also very lazy, so I'm just now writing about it. Anyway...

I received a comment on my last blog, but I didn't realize it for a few days, so I only recently got around to responding to it. Since a lot of people may not have seen it, I'll post it here. It's anonymous:

Is this supposed to be a reputable blog? I'd heard of you quite a bit since my transition to the CART department, and none of it has been good. This seems more like the ramblings of an angsty tween than a news blog. That being said, the barefoot gentleman was not the president. He's the business manager and he's barefoot for a good cause. If you were a decent journalist, you'd do your homework before spewing ignorance.

As far as "The Concordian" goes, Scott's doing fine. So what if he doesn't like the office? It's a depressing hell-hole that's now adjacent to someone's office, so there's no privacy, save for a curtain. The Concordian was a joke last semester. Between TJ's need to be a diva and focusing on his band, and Stephen being a poor writer/editor, the paper had no strong leadership. Tori worked at it, but her heart just wasn't in it anymore. TJ stopped caring because of his band and Dr. Williams supposedly ruining his life, all because Dr. Williams wouldn't bend down and lick his boots like he'd asked. I think not coming back was grand for him. Now he'll learn that the world doesn't exist to stroke his ego.

Besides, didn't you graduate? Don't you have cooler stuff to do, like anything that isn't gossiping about college life? I hope I don't end up like you. God, I hope that.

And, here was my response:

To respond to your comment, it was the SGA President. He was wearing sandals and took them off during the meeting.

The SGA Business Manager, Derek Cline, is walking around barefoot to raise awareness for people who can't afford shoes. If anybody would like to donate shoes to him, find him at Concord. Or, let me know here and I'll try to set it up for him to get them.

So, there were two barefoot people at the meeting.

At the time of seeing the President barefoot, I didn't realize that the Business Manager was doing his awareness project. If I had realized, I would have made a note of it. There was a story about it in the current issue of The Concordian. I skimmed over it but didn't really get a chance to read it thoroughly. From a visual aspect, it looks pretty good.

Anyway...

At the 09-19-12 SGA meeting, the SGA Budgetary committee was voted on. It was a very different process from previous years. It usually goes pretty smoothly. It seemed to be a bit of a mess to get everything organized. But, that seems to be the modus operandi of this year's SGA - a little disorganized. Maybe they'll get the kinks worked out.

I don't believe any other committees have been formed yet. And by formed, I mean the standing committees that have been around for years and just need a chairperson appointed and a meeting time designated have not had those happen yet. Something somebody may want to keep an eye on is that most of the SGA Executive Board received pay increases from the last academic year, but they have yet to do much.

In related news, here's the SGA President's report. If you follow me on twitter, you've already seen it, as it was under 140 characters: "I really don't have anything to report to you, so we'll just move along."

Here's the Budgetary committee. I don't know most of their names. I wrote them down quickly as they were being announced. If anybody wants to leave a comment with the full names, feel free to. The members are: Kyle Mauley [sp?], Joey Sharpe, [pronounced Jen-Uh-Veev] Hatcher, J. Blankenship [didn't get his first name; probably Joe or Justin?], and [something] Wheeling. I wrote down a first initial for Wheeling, but then I wrote over it and I don't know what it actually is that I wrote. So, apologies for that list of names that really isn't a full list. I'm usually better than that...

The Budgetary committee is why most organizations attend meetings. They will fill out a form explaining why they need money to do something. The committee will meet and decide if they should get that money. So, they're very important.

In other news, it was announced before the meeting that SGA Advisor and Student Center Director Anna Hardy was leaving. I'm guessing she accepted a job somewhere else, because Anna said that she would be back to visit everybody.

Josh Hanna, the SGA President, made the announcement about Anna and presented her with a cake and plaque. It was also noted that an annual award, some sort of Anna Hardy Leadership award would be given at the end of the year.

The last time I regularly attended SGA meetings was the 2009-2010 academic year. At that time, Anna was new to the SGA and really seemed to still be adapting to her new surroundings and job duties. The President's speech about Anna was kind of one of those things where somebody said a lot, but really didn't say anything. Apparently she is leaving and her valued leadership qualities will be missed. But he really didn't address how she helped the SGA and what she gave to the organization.

If anybody wants to help us out here, to maybe use this as a forum to fill in the blanks, I had a near 2-year vacation from SGA and the new advisor is now the tenured leader who has the SGA President choking up saying goodbye to her. But, he really didn't say what she did or how she helped. I'm kind of curious. I want somebody to fill us in on the progression and growth she showed over those 2 years. I guess, give us the memorial that the SGA President tried but didn't fully succeed on.

That's about it from the SGA meeting. Homecoming stuff was finalized. But, if you're into that stuff, you already know about it all.

As a final note, follow @cumountainlions on twitter. They do a pretty good job of keeping athletic happenings updated.

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Here's the disclaimer:

I import these blogs into Facebook. That gives me the option to "tag" people, sending them an e-mail notification. I tag people for two reasons - 1) if I mention you by name & 2) if I think you will find this interesting. If you are tagged and don't want to be, let me know. If I don't tag you & you'd like to be tagged in the future, let me know.

There is a comment feature on this blog & I don't mind if you use it. It's cool to disagree, as long as it's kept civil. Anonymous comments are allowed, as long as it's relevant & mildly profanity free.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Looney Tunes Show

Something a lot of people might not know about me is that I love cartoons. "But, Chris, aren't you 26-years-old?" Yes, I am. "And you still haven't graduated from college?" Leave me alone. Anyway, I never stopped watching cartoons and I still consider myself an avid fan of all animation. One of my favorite cartoons that I like to watch is "The Looney Tunes Show," the newest incarnation of Bugs, Daffy, Porky, and everybody's favorite 50+ year old cartoon characters.

Comedy is my favorite genre, and I like comedy that is smart. Something that a lot of people may not realize, especially these days, is that a lot of cartoons are really geared toward a multi-generational audience. There's the goofy jokes and slapstick for children, but then there's enough entertainment and social commentary and inside jokes and well-hidden adult humor that it appeals to an older audience.

The thing I like about "The Looney Tunes Show" is that it is bascially an animated sitcom. There is one story throughout the 30 minutes, unlike previous Looney Tunes incarnations. There's also a set world and continuity throughout the series. Daffy doesn't have a job and moves in with Bugs. Their best friend is Porky Pig. They get into hilarious situations by living their every day lives.

Episodes include Daffy and Bugs getting arrested for littering, Daffy sneaking Bugs into a country club, Porky hating his accounting job, Bugs getting a dog (which is actually the Tazmanian Devil), Daffy trying to get a job, and probably the funniest episode is when Bugs and Daffy's neighbor, Yosemite Sam's power goes out and he has to stay with them.

If you like cartoons, give this show a chance. If you remember the old Bugs & Daffy cartoons from your youth, check out this new incarnation. It's hilarious.





Monday, September 17, 2012

Concord University SGA meeting notes [09-12-12]

As I blogged about last week, I attended the Sept. 12, 2012 meeting of Concord's Student Government Association. It was my first meeting in nearly 2 years. I'll go into more detail on that soon. I plan to attend the Sept. 19 meeting, and then we'll take it from there. The SGA budget for the year and Homecoming Election rules passing were the two biggest things to happen at the meeting - click here for the blog I wrote last week.

Some other interesting things happened as well. I'll share some thoughts below. If you'd like to do the same, feel free to do so here in the comments section or on Facebook [there's probably 15 or so comments about the last blog on Facebook].

The first thing I noticed is that it is a very new SGA. I only talked to two people I knew from previous SGA administrations - Richard Babich, the Attorney General, and Adam Pauley, the Board of Governors representative. I recognized a few names and it was the first time I had ever put a face to them, but for the most part I didn't recognize anybody.

Here's a few notes from the meeting:

Adam Pauley noted that the Board of Governors had met Tuesday, Sept. 11 for over 4 hours. Adam announced that the Higher Learning Commission will be visiting Concord University during the 2015-2016 academic year to check on CU's accreditation. That shouldn't be an issue; Concord is a very legitimate school.

Pauley also talked about new online systems for the academic catalog and things of that nature that would make trackings ones progress toward graduation easier. I assume we'll have more details on that as it becomes more of a reality.

Probably the most interesting thing Pauley mentioned was that Concord University was leaving the WVIAC sports conference and forming a new conference - Mountain East. He didn't give many details, but hopefully Concord University's newspaper, The Concordian, will be all over that story and give us some good coverage.

And with that segue...

Scott Noble, the new Concordian Editor-in-Chief, was present at the meeting. He was the organizational representative for some sort of veterans group. I didn't get the full name of it. That's a conflict of interest, but that's another story for another time.

He spoke during the meeting about becoming the EIC and had some interesting things to say about the newspaper. He said that The Concordian put out a lot of bad issues last semester. Regarding the leadership of last year, Noble said, "It was a huge failure on their part." He added that he wanted to put out issues of the newspaper befitting our university, before adding that the paper was now going to a bi-weekly format. He also shouldered some of the blame for the bad content, saying, "Last semester [the paper] was crap and that was the fault of the staff, which I was part of."

He asked for constructive criticism from students. I don't think he announced the newspaper's email address during the meeting, but it's concordian[at]concord.edu if anybody's interested. Unless they've changed things, the office phone number is 304-384-5364. He probably won't be in there, though, as he said he doesn't like the Concordian office, M008, or as I called it Moo 8. Personally, I loved it. I practically lived in there for over four years.

Interesting sidenote: Scott Noble first came to my attention about a year ago, when he wrote a review of Nona's Italian Restaurant in Princeton and the picture used was from my girlfriend's restaurant review blog. I guess he sent the story to the Princeton Times, because they also printed his article, in addition to using Candace's picture. She wrote a blog about it here - http://candacelately.blogspot.com/2011/10/blog-in-news.html

Will the paper get better under the "Noble Administration"? We'll see. I don't know when the first issue will be out, but we will see. As a former Editor-in-Chief of the newspaper, I'm very hopeful for the future. I want to see it succeed, despite what some people have thought over the years.

I'd definitely like to get together with Scott at some point and pick his brain and let him pick my brain. I want good things to happen with The Concordian. It was a huge part of my life for a long time and I want to be as good as it can possibly be.

In other notes from the meeting:

Carolyn Cox, Concord's registrar, is looking for a couple students to serve on her "Institutional Committee on Retention." I have never heard of this committee, and apparently it has only met a handful of times over the last 5 years.

Rick Dillon [not sure of his exact title now; former Head of Housing, now some sort of VP; also one of my favorite people at Concord], gave an update on some roof renovation projects. The library, administration building, science building, and fine arts building are all presently having their roofs replaced. Dillon noted that Concord received money from the state to fix the library and fine arts building roofs. The admin and science building roofs, while not being in urgent need, would need it eventually, so they did them all at the same time. Dillon said Concord probably saved in the neighborhood of $17,000 by bundling the projects instead of spacing them out.

It was also announced that Concord students living in the dorms can register to vote in Mercer County, since they technically live there to attend school. So, they don't have to travel back home to vote this November.

In a funny note from the meeting, that maybe nobody but me caught, the Vice President announced her office hours, but she put too much emphasis on the word "to," so it sounded like she announced her office hours as, "One, two, three." Technically, those are her hours.

In an odd note, I noticed at one point during the meeting that the SGA President wasn't wearing shoes. I guess he wore sandals to the meeting and took them off as he got more comfortable. But, that struck me as being a little weird. It's starting to get a little colder during the evenings now, so he probably can't do that too much longer.

If I missed anything or anybody has a comment they'd like to add, feel free.

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Here's the disclaimer: I import these blogs into Facebook.

That gives me the option to "tag" people, sending them an e-mail notification. I tag people for two reasons - 1) if I mention you by name & 2) if I think you will find this interesting. If you are tagged and don't want to be, let me know. If I don't tag you & you'd like to be tagged in the future, let me know.

There is a comment feature on this blog & I don't mind if you use it. It's cool to disagree, as long as it's kept civil. Anonymous comments are allowed, as long as it's relevant & mildly profanity free.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

2012-2013 Concord University SGA budget

I attended the September 12, 2012 meeting of Concord's Student Government Association. It was my first meeting in maybe 17 or 18 months. Before that, I missed only 2 or 3 meetings in a total of 6+ academic years. I have never held a position in the SGA, nor do I ever had a desire to do so in the future. For those 6+ years, I covered the SGA meetings as a reporter for The Concordian, Concord University's newspaper. After I left the staff, I continued to cover the meetings through my blog [click here for an example of that].

I will go into much fuller detail on why I attended today's meeting in a future post. I just need to articulate my reasoning and I'll get into that post-haste.

Two important things of note happened at the SGA meeting that I thought I would quickly share. The Homecoming election rules were passed. That means a lot to people running for Homecoming. I've never really concerned myself with it (with the exception of that flier fiasco from a few years ago).

More importantly, the 2012-2013 budget that the SGA operates under was passed. For this academic year, the SGA had a total of $102,070.00 to work with. The breakdown is below:

Officer Pay: $28,750.00
In House Spending: $7,320.00
Homecoming: $15,000
Spring Fling: $15,000
Discretionary: $36,000

That money comes from the student body. If you attend Concord University, roughly $26 of your tuition goes toward the SGA budget. That's why every student should take a proactive approach to their SGA. They pay for it.

I've written in the past about how I feel as though too much money is spent on Spring Fling. I won't get into that again here [click here if you want to get into that from previous years]. With the officer pay, the President, Vice President, Business Manager and Chief Justice all received monthly pay raises. I don't know if anybody had brought up in previous weeks why those were necessary, but nobody questioned it at this week's meeting.

Discretionary spending is why most organizations attend SGA meetings. They apply for money in the Fall and Spring semesters (out of a possible $18,000 each semester) and they use that for whatever they need to do, such as trips, speakers, buying equipment, etc. The money left over at the end of the year is usually pooled together as a "senior gift," some sort of nice thing for the students. Past gifts have included the gazebo outside the student center, the chairs in the library, and artwork around campus.

I took some notes during the meeting and will probably write something up based off of that, just like I used to do. Once the time comes, I will also fill you in more on why I attended the meeting. I plan to be there next week as well. After that, we'll play it by ear.

Here's my disclaimer I put in my SGA posts: I post links to these blogs in the Facebook "note" feature and tag people based on whether I mention them or if I feel like they would think it is interesting and important for them to read. If I tag you and you would like to not be tagged in future posts, please let me know. If I didn't tag you and you would like to be included in the future, make me aware of it.

Comments are allowed and appreciated, if anybody has anything to add or if I've made any mistakes with my numbers. Anonymous comments are allowed as well, as long as things are kept respectful. Click here for an example of good and bad comments.

Monday, September 10, 2012

A collection of thoughts

I typed this a blank word document last night around 5:30 am after I attempted to clean/rearrange my apartment - "Sometimes I feel like I’m going insane. Or it might be from not having enough sleep. I tried to clean my apartment and it didn’t work out well. The biggest issue is that I feel like there are not enough places for stuff that I own. So stuff gets put on top of stuff, on top of more stuff, under stuff, beside stuff. Etcetera, etcetera. I cleaned a lot and I’m left with a different kind of mess. Even though I own nothing, I feel like I own too much stuff. Maybe I just need more closet space."

Yeah. I was pretty tired and wired at the same time. And moving stuff around in my apartment kicked up a lot of dust, so I was sneezing a lot on top of it. But, it looks a little more organized at the moment. I still wouldn't qualify it as clean, but we're working on it.

Slowly but surely, we'll get there. "Slowly but surely" is usually what I say when people ask me how college is going. I'm working on my degree, slowly but surely.

* * *

In other news, to update you on an earlier blog post, my new phone battery came in the mail a few weeks back. That seemed to be the issue, as my blackberry is working wonderfully. Well, as wonderfully as a blackberry works.

I don't know why the battery would suddenly just go from a full charge to like 10 percent in a matter of moments once I started doing anything on my phone. I hadn't downloaded anything new, nor was I doing anything differently.

I talked to a lady at the AT&T store at the Mercer Mall who suggested I wipe all of my downloads off my phone and re-download them. There were two reasons I didn't want to do that - 1) I didn't think that was the problem. 2) I have all of my apps strategically placed on my phone in order of both importance and convenience. It's an odd, OCD-esque placement system and I didn't want to deal with putting everything in its proper place again.

The lady I talked to seemed to be against the idea of ordering a new battery. But, I did that anyway (in addition to ordering a new case), and it did the trick. Everything is fine in that regard.

On a related note, I may flirt with the idea of switching over to an iPhone one of these days...

* * *

It was cold for the first time in a long time two nights ago. I guess summer is officially coming to a close and autumn is working its way upon us. Most people I talk to see fall as their favorite season. I'm not a fan. I prefer Spring. I don't like the idea of fall because I know winter is on its way. And while the leaves look nice as different colors, I don't like seeing them die.

Click here to see a blog I wrote a couple years ago, where I posted a nice picture of a tree during fall. The picture is at the bottom of the blog.

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Five or six days ago at work, I was talking to a table I was waiting on. It was a middle-aged couple and they hadn't been to Outback very often. They were asking me some general questions about it. The lady then asked how long I had worked there. After I answered, she asked where I worked at before that. I said Pizza Hut. She responded, "I thought you looked familiar." I don't think it will ever end. Click here to see what I'm talking about.

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Magazine update: Life keeps getting in the way of making it happen. Plans are still on. I have some ideas in my head. I feel like the next few weeks should be interesting in that regard. I'll update you on this update soon.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Wanna learn how to sell? Be like Steven Richards, but don't be him



WWE Velocity was a late-night show that aired Saturday nights on SpikeTV during the mid 2000s. It was recap program that went over what happened the previous week on Smackdown. Matches featuring midcard talent and "jobbers" (unsigned guys who come in just to lose) were shown between the recap segments.

Above is a video of Steven Richards versus Bob "Hardcore" Holly. Holly had been a WWE superstar from the mid 1990s until 2008 or so. He was a good wrestler and was one of the biggest stars of WWE's Hardcore division during the late 90s. Richards has always been one of my guilty pleasure wrestlers. One when I say that he's one of my favorite wrestlers, people crinkle up their nose and say, "Really? Why?"

I remember watching this match in the summer of 2005. It was shortly before the SummerSlam pay-per-view, between my first and second years of college. Richards was still advertised as a member of the "Blue World Order," his ECW group that had reunited briefly in WWE, but it was pretty much over by this point. WWE was trying out a new role for Torrie Wilson, as she was the ring announcer for the match. About that, let's just say that her best role right now is to continue being Alex Rodriguez' girlfriend.

With an art form like professional wrestling, it is often easy to overlook when somebody is performing their craft very well. Likewise, it is much easier to spot when somebody is doing a bad job (Ahem, Torrie...). I remember at the time being very impressed with how Richards tried to avoid Holly's finishing move at the end of the match. It didn't look rehearsed; Holly tried to hit it and Richards tried to stop it, just like if they were in a real fight. Now, I doubt anybody would try Hardcore Holly's finishing move in a real fight, but just humor me for a moment.

I remember reading on PWINSIDER.com a few weeks after that something that really caught my attention. Apparently Vince McMahon had gathered the Smackdown locker room together and made them watch that match, specifically to call attention to Steven Richards' ability to "sell" (pretend like he's hurt, act like it's real).

Why am I talking about this right now? I follow Steven Richards on twitter (@MichaelManna, his real name) and he uploaded this to his YouTube channel. The other day he tweeted the link to this match. I saw that and, never knowing if the story was actually true or just a rumor, tweeted to him, "Is that the one Vince made the locker room watch so they'd learn how to sell?" He replied to me, "yes......and then I sat home for 4 months."

When CM Punk unleashed his initial pipe bomb promo last year and the fallout that came from it, he talked about politics a lot and how talented wrestlers were held back over the years in favor of muscled-up ex-football players and other such talents. A case could be made for putting Richards into that category. Vince McMahon thought he was good enough at selling moves that he wanted the entire locker room to learn from him. Did it get Richards anywhere? No. He apparently wasn't used for four months after that, and when he was used it was always to put over other superstars.

Richards broke out in the early 1990s in ECW and was a sidekick of sorts to Raven, one of the top heels in ECW history. After a few years as a lackey, he started to break out and show his talents in main event matches. He was being compared to Shawn Michaels at the time, until a neck injury halted any momentum he was gaining.

A weak run in WCW reprising his Raven's lackey role got him nowhere, as did a subsequent stint in ECW. After undergoing neck surgery, he made his way to WWE in the late 90s and a broken ankle stopped his midcard comedy character from going anywhere. He came back in 2000 with short hair and wearing a tie. He was tired of the crass, tasteless filth in WWE and was using his new group, the Right To Censor (RTC) to clean up the WWE.

It was meant to mock the Parents Television Council (PTC), who were waging a real-life fight against the WWE for similar reasons. The PTC had successfully managed to convince Coca-Cola and the US Army, among others, to stop advertising with WWE.

By 2001, the RTC was no more. Richards career had peaked. He had been an upper-midcard villain who received a lot of attention on WWE programming. After that, he disappeared for a while before being repackaged as the character he has effectively ended his career with, a deranged psychopath.

He became a midcard mainstay on lower-tier shows like Velocity and Sunday Night Heat, which Richards unofficially renamed "Stevie Night Heat," even putting it on his trunks at one point.

He left WWE a few years ago and showed up in TNA in 2009. He had a brief partnership with Raven a few times that never really went anywhere. He feuded with Abyss and Mick Foley mostly. Near the end of his tenure there, I felt like they were really going somewhere with him. It seemed like they were gearing him up for the role of veteran wrestler going for one last shot at glory. A short feud with AJ Styles went nowhere and he left TNA shortly thereafter. He revealed in an interview with PWINSIDER.com that TNA President Dixie Carter had referred to him as "washed up."

I feel like Richards never got anywhere near the amount of success that he should have received. If wrestling were really based on talent, Richards would have no doubt been a world champion many times over. But, it's not. Instead, he was used to get lesser talents over and to play the midcard comic relief. And, he was good at both of those things.

While his career may have fizzled out, his life hasn't. He has avoided becoming one of the countless wrestling tragedies that pop up over the years, especially his ECW generation. Now in his early 40s, he has transitioned to the next stage of his life, with wrestling looking to be his side project he does for fun. He may not have gotten all he deserved out of wrestling, but he seems to be getting a lot out of life these days. Good for him.