Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Thought Catalog

Earlier this month, my first article appeared on Thought Catalog. Founded in 2010, Thought Catalog has a list of 5 ideals that shape what they want their site to showcase. Basically, they want to be a catalog of thoughts, from different types of people and varying opinions.

They've become popular over the years, with over 330,000 followers on Twitter and above 300,000 fans on Facebook. One thing that happens when something becomes too mainstream is that it becomes too mainstream. When everybody likes something, then things are showcased in a manner for everybody to like it.

"What's wrong with that, Chris?"

Well, for the most part, everybody is stupid and I don't like them.

With the rise of the Thought Catalog, we saw the rise of the "Listicle." On the whole, I don't have a problem with that. It's the combination of an article and a list. What you would have normally written out, you condense into a few key points and leave it at that.

Some have accused it of being lazy writing. I look at it the same way one looks at alcohol. A little bit here and there can actually be healthy for you. The problem is that we consume too much to our detriment.

People were getting substandard information and thinking the people giving them this information were amazing. I saw writers for Thought Catalog accumulating thousands of Twitter followers for writing dumb shit and being lauded as a genius.

I thought to myself, "I can do this. And I can do it a lot better than everybody else." When I'm confident in myself, I have a bit of an ego problem.

So, I started writing and I started sending things in. After 5 articles and 2 months, I had not heard anything back. I looked through the list of writers on the site and saw one who requested people to send her submissions. So, I emailed her and told her that nobody had been replying to me. She forwarded my email to the guy who runs Thought Catalog - also named Chris - and I was published before that day was over.

I had tried to turn my earlier rejections into a positive. I was telling myself that I would have a lot of great content for the second volume of B-Sides, my series of books featuring unpublished works and essays. Click here to purchase volume one, if you have a Kindle device or app.

But, now they're publishing my works and I don't have as much unpublished stuff for B-Sides, vol. 02. Oh well, I'd rather have 300,000+ read it for free than a handful of friends who buy it.

What I've written so far is below. 

Weezer Makes The Greatest Music Videos In The World And This Is Why ... This was after my third or fourth "rejection," which actually just means they had gotten lost in the Internet-sphere somewhere and nobody had seen them. I came up with a formula for what made a good Thought Catalog article: 1) A list and 2) Saying something subjective but making it an absolute. I decided to write about Weezer because I felt like the typical TC audience I wrote about earlier didn't know how good they were.

That Time I Chickened Out Of A Threesome ... For some people, I guess that's like an ultimate fantasy for them. I don't know. It's never been that way for me. If I hadn't been a little uncomfortable, I would have gone through with it. There were two things stopping me: I was drunk and she wasn't, and I knew she had a crush on the other guy involved. I didn't want her first thought to be, "He finally fucked me! And, then Chris did too..." I've revealed the identities to a few friends who know the others involved and it's given them a new appreciation for the story. Funny note: My mom has mentioned all of my Thought Catalog articles to me except for this one...

Confessions Of A Recovering Gamer ... I've gotten a lot of positive feedback from friends about this one. And, I honestly think it's the weakest piece I've written for Thought Catalog. I had big ideas for it, then realized after my cool introduction that I didn't have a strong body. So, I threw some stuff together about how my addictive personality won't let me play video games. Then I close with a lame joke(?) about how I've decided to drink a lot because I need at least one vice.

My Friend Died And Nobody Cared ... That's what I wanted this piece titled, but I forgot to send them one so they called it "I Can't Believe Sarah Died This Way." She was a girl I knew in high school and we drifted apart over the years. She was murdered by her husband in 2008. Watching the play "The Laramie Project" last November caused me to think about her for the first time in a while. I posted a link to the article on Facebook and a few friends from high school who knew her have left some very nice comments.

I have a few others things written that I haven't sent in yet and also a few ideas for things to write that I haven't started yet. I'll keep you guys updated on all of that.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Wolves win #TNA Tag Titles in Morgantown, WV

Sunday, February 23, 2014. Eddie Edwards and Davey Richards, known as The Wolves, won the TNA World Tag Team Championships by defeating the team of Robbie E and Jessie Godderz. The win happened in Morgantown, during the final day of TNA iMPACT WRESTLING's 3-day West Virginia loop. They had previously held events in Huntington and Beckley.

TNA, while being the number two promotion in America, is still small enough that they can't just run events wherever they want like WWE. TNA can really only go to an area that shows an interest and where they know they will make money. This is the second year that TNA has run the 3-day WV loop and it looks like this state is a good market for them.

I have a small, almost indirect role in bringing TNA to West Virginia.

In 2012, I was dating Candace Nelson. She was in the Master's program for journalism at West Virginia University. She was also working for the university's news department. They were tasked with creating feature stories and video packages that related to WVU. She had to come up with some ideas and she was talking to me about it.

I said, "Why don't you do something about Zema?"

Zema is Zema Ion, former TNA X-Division Champion. Zema Ion is Michael Paris, a WVU graduate and Candace's friend. She ran it by everybody and they were off to the races.

After contacting the TNA offices, they sent Candace a bunch of TNA swag. She didn't want any, so she gave it to me. I have a TNA bumper sticker and a Zema Ion 8x10 that is somewhere in my apartment. Keeping track of where it is isn't really a priority for me. Funny dumb argument - Her: "What do you mean you don't want this picture?" Me: "What am I gonna do with an 8x10 of Zema Ion?"

The Zema Ion-WVU package came out and then TNA announced that they were running shows in West Virginia for the first time. That can't just be a coincidence.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

This Day in History: Eddie Guerrero wins the WWE Championship

February 15, 2004. Eddie Guerrero defeated Brock Lesnar for the WWE Championship. 

Guerrero had been one of my favorite wrestlers since I first saw him in 1996 in WCW. After that, I researched his career and discovered his past wrestling in Mexico, Japan, and ECW. I was excited when he jumped to WWE in 2000. 

The excitement only lasted a year & a half, as he was released from his contract after being arrested for DUI. It came out years later that he was released because WWE had forced him to go to rehab months earlier, and he clearly wasn't sticking to his sobriety.

Guerrero got his life back together and was resigned by WWE in the middle of 2002. He was open about his past problems and became a wrestler that the fans respected. He was real person struggling with real problems and that's why it was extra satisfying to see him climb to the top of his profession.

And that's why it was especially sad when he died in 2005, at the age of 38. He had overcome all of his demons, being clean for nearly four years, but his body couldn't recover from the years of abuse. Heart disease took his life on Sunday, November 13. He was set to wrestle in a WWE Championship match that night against Batista and Randy Orton. Batista was the champion and nursing a shoulder injury; wrestling folklore has it that Guerrero would have likely won the title the day he died. Batista dispels those rumors in his autobiography, saying that he pushed for Guerrero, but that Orton was going to win.

Below are some videos, starting with Guerrero's win over Batista and continuing with some highlights of his championship run. The final video is a little NSFW-ish. It's not necessarily a great moment, but it's one moment that Guerrero's title run is known for; his brutal, bloody match against JBL.

Eddie wins the WWE Championship.

Eddie celebrates backstage.

Eddie's coronation ceremony.

Best Friends at WrestleMania XX.

Hardest chair shot ever. #NSFW

Friday, February 14, 2014

Snow Driving

Yesterday, I documented digging my car out of 13 inches of snow. Check out the Snow Adventures post if you haven't seen that.

With that in mind, I decided to document me going to work this morning in the destruction. Presented in three videos, I give you "Snow Driving."

Some notes:

Video 01: It's a little after 7:45 in the morning. I'm very tired and it shows. There was only supposed to be one video in the beginning, but I accidentally turned it off when trying to set the camera up on my dashboard. As we find out in video 02, setting the camera on the dash doesn't really work, as it's at an odd angle and it starts to knock around and vibrate, making weird noises. Kevin Steen does it in his video blogs, so I figured it would work for me. I guess his car is shaped differently than mine, as it works for him but not me.

Video 02: I compare people who like snow to rapists and child molesters. The logic behind it seems to work out. I break the news "publicly" that I no longer work at Pizza Hut, then give some advice that every college student out there should listen to. I talk about a girl I unfollowed on Twitter because I knew she was going to be extra pathetic on Valentine's Day. I give examples of what I dealt with from following her for a little while. And I yell at an old lady.

Video 03: Apologies for bad camera angles. I hold my phone too far up a couple times. I tell you to look at things and all you can see is the sky. In my defense, the sky looks very nice. I come to the realization that I have had a Valentine for 11 consecutive years. And that I have never made a snowman. Only one of those is surprising to me. And I check my mail when I get home, which you guys see. Ashley and I sent each other cards, like a couple losers. I have no grasp of how the postal system works, so she got hers a week ago.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Snow Adventures

We are in the midst of one of the worst downpours of snow in a good little bit. It's been crazy outside. It began snowing at approximately 3 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 12, and it is still going down at press time - nearly 24 hours later.

My car got particularly covered; click here to see a before/after picture of the damage. I needed to dig it out in order to go to work. Like most things in life, I saw this as an opportunity to document an important occasion. The videos are uploaded to my YouTube Channel and are also embedded below for your viewing pleasure.

Part 01

Part 02

Part 03

Part 04

Part 05

Part 06

And there's that. If you like the videos, I'll try to make it more of a regular feature. If you like the sound of my voice, be sure to check out my podcast.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

White Unicorn

Opening guitar has a Liz Phair vibe. "Exile In Guyville," her debut album, is one of my favorites.

I'm kind of surprised Wolfmother didn't become a bigger deal. I've liked everything I've heard from them. Back in 2010, I wrote out a list of the biggest bands from the last decade who should have been a bigger deal. I also did the other end and made a list of bands who got a lot bigger than I would have expected (Nickelback is the example I'll use).

I never did anything with that list aside from write it down in one of my many yellow-lined legal pads collecting dust in my room. I think the reason was because I didn't have the same amount of bands for both lists.

I also have a list of ideas for lists. I would think of something and then think "If I can come up with like 8 more examples, that would be a fun list." And then I never did, so it's just stuff I wrote down and then never did anything with. Maybe one day I'll publish my list of lists.

I feel like I'm full of ideas and the only thing stopping me from becoming the best me I can be is the ability to get them out of my head.

One of the coolest books I've ever read is a collection of notes that Kurt Cobain wrote. It's titled "Journals" and they took all these notebooks that Cobain wrote in and scanned the actual pages into a book. He would write songs, draw stuff, put his thoughts down, and all sorts of stuff. I initially bought it as a Christmas present for Kelly back in 2002 or 2003, but I don't think she liked it that much so she gave it back to me after a while (she said she thought I would enjoy it more).

I've always been intrigued by what goes on in people's heads. I think that's why I enjoy interviewing people. I like to sit there and listen to people talk.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

McDonalds of the Soul

Here's what separates a comedian from a great comedian. Anybody can talk about how horrible McDonalds is for 5 minutes. But, not everybody can then turn McDonalds into a metaphor about how horrible everything else is in life.
"I'm tired of people acting like they're better than McDonalds. It's like, you may have never stepped foot in a McDonalds, but you have your own McDonalds. Maybe instead of buying a Big Mac, you read Us Weekly. That's still McDonalds; it's just served up a little different. Maybe your McDonalds is telling yourself that Starbucks frappuccino is not a milkshake. Or, maybe you watch Glee. It's all McDonalds; McDonalds of the soul. Momentary pleasure, followed by incredible guilt, eventually leading to cancer."

Saturday, February 8, 2014

CM Punk leaves WWE

I've had a couple people ask me my thoughts on the recent abrupt exit of CM Punk from WWE. It's been a few weeks, but details are still sketchy. Neither WWE nor CM Punk have publicly stated anything yet.

Here's what we do know:

The Royal Rumble pay-per-view was held on Sunday, January 26, 2014. They RR event is the official kick-off to "The Road to WrestleMania," the build to the biggest event of the year. The winner of the RR match, a 30-man battle royal, gets a match in the main event of WrestleMania for the championship. CM Punk was entered at number 1 in the match and eliminated through nefarious means by Kane, likely to further the storyline between the two.

In a very unpopular move to the fans in the arena, the returning Dave Batista won the Royal Rumble event. The uber-popular Daniel Bryan was not in the match and the crowd "hijacked" the show, repeatedly chanting "Daniel Bryan!" and "Yes! Yes! Yes!" throughout the night. Batista's win was heavily booed by the crowd.

The next night, CM Punk allegedly met with Vince McMahon and informed him that he was going home. That hasn't even been confirmed, but that's who you have to talk to to tell that you're leaving.

Everything else is conjecture:

CM Punk wasn't happy with his rumored WrestleMania match against Triple H. It hadn't been confirmed, but Punk's program with Kane had looked like it would seamlessly float into a WM match with Triple H.

CM Punk wasn't happy with Batista coming back and taking a WrestleMania main event. He has very openly gone on the record as saying he is not a fan of part-time wrestlers such as The Rock coming back and being put in the main event scene.

Punk has stated that his only real goal he has left in WWE is to be the true "main event" of WrestleMania, aka the last match of the night. He's said that he believes the best good guy should face the best bad guy in the biggest match of the year. On his WWE-produced DVD, he openly stated that John Cena facing The Miz at WrestleMania 27 instead of him was one of the reasons he decided he was leaving in 2011 (leading to the Summer of Punk angle).

Punk's contract expires in July of this year. If he wasn't coming back, this year would have been his last chance to main event WrestleMania.

Was he disappointed with the creative plans for Daniel Bryan?

Was he burnt out and injured? Could he not physically or mentally make it to July?

I think if you watch the video above, you can find out why Punk left. It seems like it's a combination of all the stuff I just put out there. Punk has always been a controversial interview subject, never one to tow the company line.

The interview above was from January 24, 2013. That was two days before the Royal Rumble and three days before he left the company. He was openly unhappy with stuff the company was doing and talking about how worn out and beaten down he felt. He's relatively young at only 35, but he noted that he's been wrestling since he was 15 (and wrestling at a world-class level for 10-12 years).

He's gone and nobody knows what's going on. Will we ever? I assume so at some point. 

I'll leave you with some thoughts from Jim Ross that he posted in his blog. Aside from being an amazing wrestling mind and being in the business for nearly 40 years, Ross was previously the "Head of Talent Relations" in WWE during the late 90s. That basically means he hired and fired the talent. He has some insight into the mind of a wrestling superstar. 

Recognizing when a talent is getting frayed around the edges is management's job. Once the problem is identified it is incumbent upon everyone involved in the equation to work together to solve the problem through compromise and respect but most of all communication. 
If the talent or the company is unwilling to compromise, then, most likely the problem won't be solved and, therefore, if a problem can't be solved there's only one other option to put in play and that is to eliminate the problem.

Click here for the full blog post. 

Friday, February 7, 2014

Episode 14: Emergency Podcast

Emergency episode of the podcast. Why? Why not. Topics discussed include:

- Some general insecurities and the reaction of my girlfriend to them.

- Am I going bald? I noticed something odd in the mirror recently.

- Do you ever feel stupid? I give a couple instances in my life.

- My adventure with homemade martinis.

- My review of the new Facebook app, "Paper."

- Looking at BuzzFeed lists and quizzes.

- "Life Hacks" and how the word is stupid, leading to a discussion about how nothing is real.

- Babysat a 4-year-old child and some thoughts on that.