Friday, April 22, 2016

Thought Purges

I've felt weird lately. I'm not sure how to explain it. Not quite myself? Different? I don't know. I've had trouble expressing myself lately.

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I had ideas in my head recently to write two satirical pieces but the creativity and enthusiasm just wasn't there after that initial spark. So, I guess I'll just write about writing.

The first was going to be a piece looking at life after baseball for that Chicago White Sox player who retired after he was told to stop bringing his 14-year-old kid to practice every day. He talked about how much he loved his son and how that was worth more than the $13 million he was giving up. I just had this image in my head of them two weeks later sitting on the couch together watching tv, with the dad slowly looking down with this sort of disgust in his eyes.

I was either thinking of taking it that way, or going the opposite route and having the dad be obsessed with the kid and fast forward to when he turns 16 and gets his car and stops playing catch with his dad to start dating girls. The kid would be like "This is creepy, Dad" and he would be like "I GAVE UP 13 MILLION DOLLARS FOR YOU!!!"

The other one was about that NC "bathroom bill" transgender nonsense that's going on. Bruce Springsteen canceled a concert there and it was a big deal. Others followed suit. And more people did. It was like the law of diminishing returns. It's like a concert, you can't follow Springsteen. I thought it would be funny to write something about a band booking a gig in North Carolina just so they could cancel and get in the news. In my head, a band to the effect of Pearl Jam would be one to do this. Then I read a news article a few days ago about Pearl Jam canceling their NC concert. I was just in shock that I figured a band like Pearl Jam would cancel their concert, then they did.

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I've been thinking a lot about life lately and where I'm at. Where I've grown, stuff like that. Facebook has that "memories" feature you can activate, where it will show you what you posted on that day throughout the years. A couple weeks ago, I realized that a pretty big event was coming up, based on where Facebook was telling me I was at in life. It was a very negative anniversary.

On Monday, Facebook told me "one year ago today, you posted this, which isn't necessarily telling the world, but it reminds you of said moment." And, knowing me, I'll talk about it eventually. Just not right now.

April 18, 2015 I was at a very low point. I remember the 19th and 20th not being good either. It was the start of a bad time for me.

April 18, 2016 I was sitting in my office writing newspaper articles. On the 19th I was given a breaking news assignment about a fire that killed some people and was given a lot of compliments about how I handled that. On the 20th I basked in that feeling of knowing I wrote some good newspaper articles.

A couple weeks ago I interviewed a United States Senator. It was something that had popped up in the days preceding. We didn't talk about anything important; it was mostly good p.r. for him than anything. I had to drive nearly two hours to do the interview. On the way up, I was mostly worried about where I was going and what I was going to experience. On the nearly 2-hour drive back, I got more reflective on my life and where it's gone.

It was a Monday. A year prior, I waited tables at Outback Steakhouse. I was in a very negative place. Outback has a NASCAR sponsorship and depending on how the Sunday races went, Monday was usually "Bloomin' Monday" which meant you got a free Bloomin' Onion appetizer. When things are free, it usually brings in a certain crowd. When things are NASCAR-related, it brings in a certain crowd. Combine the two, and Monday was never a pleasant day.

But that Monday was a great day, professionally and personally. I felt like I was doing something important. I felt like I was being treated with respect. And if you've ever worked in a restaurant or retail setting, you'll know that you don't often feel like you're doing something important, nor do you get that much respect.

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I always roll my eyes when people announce on Facebook that they're going to delete a lot of their friends. At three different points in the last year, I went on unannounced friend purges. It took me a while to realize why my blog readership was down, even though I always tell people that my main goal for Facebook is to promote my blog.

Instead of rolling my eyes at the political views of people I went to high school with that weren't really my friends, or seeing baby pictures of former co-workers that I didn't even like, it's easier to just get rid of them.

On the other end of that spectrum, I realized that I was trying too hard to be friends with some people. Girls, mostly. Not like those creepy guys who like all of their pictures and leave vaguely sexual comments posed as a joke. But, like, trying to become friends with girls who I have hung out with at various points in my life. 

And, I realized that it was really a one-way street. Like, they were my friends. They were bad about responding to texts, but if we saw each other at a party or something, we would have a fun time. And the cycle would repeat itself.

Finally decided to say "fuck it," or as my iPhone would say "dick it" and just get rid of those friends. I know I'm doing better without those people in my life. But, it does feel sad that none of them have reached out to me. They won't notice that we're no longer Facebook friends for a while, but I stopped texting these friends as well. And I quickly realized that I always initiated the conversations. None of them texted me first to say hi or what's up.

Perfect spot for one of my favorite memes: a picture of a beluga whale whose fins make it appear as though he's shrugging with the caption "Oh whale." I thought it was funnier to describe it than actually post the picture.

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That's all for now. I'll come back with something substantial at a later time.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

22 Years

22 years ago is the date of both when Kurt Cobain killed himself and when his body was actually found - April 5 and 8. I've written a lot about Nirvana and why I like there music in the past. Usually around this time of year. So, you can search the archives for that if you'd like.

Rolling Stone magazine posted on their twitter the original story they printed in June 1994, the first big expose into the final days of Cobain. Click here to see that. There have been several books and documentaries released over the last two decades as well. I actually have an "oral history" of Nirvana called "I Found My Friends" sitting on my coffee table that I haven't started reading yet that I need to check out.

Above is the last song that Nirvana ever recorded, "You Know You're Right." It has been alleged to have been written by Cobain about his marriage. It wasn't released until their 2002 greatest hits album was released. I wrote a review of that in my high school newspaper in early 2003. I haven't read that in nearly 13 years. I bet it's horrible.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

WrestleMania 32 Thoughts

I wasn't able to watch WrestleMania 32 live on Sunday night, so I avoided all social media and spent nearly five hours on Monday morning and afternoon watching on the WWE Network. This was literally the biggest WrestleMania ever. Held in the Dallas Cowboys stadium, WWE broke their all-time attendance record that was previously set at WrestleMania III. In 1987, Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant brought in 93,173. On April 3, 2016, WWE brought in 101,763 fans from around the world.

I don't know how I feel about the event. I'm sure there are people who like the idea of Roman Reigns being "the man" in WWE. Very few of them were among the 101 thousand in the arena. Like I told a friend when he texted me asking my thoughts, "As long as Vince McMahon is happy, I guess that's all that matters."

Being WrestleMania, there were a lot of legends there for the show. Shawn Michaels, Steve Austin, and Mick Foley drank beer in the ring with tag team champions - and current hottest act in the company - The New Day. That beer, by the way, was Steve Austin's own "Broken Skull IPA." In addition to hosting a podcast and two reality shows on CMT, he's also in the beer business.

The Rock showed up, which wasn't a surprise since he told us months in advance. What was a surprise was quickly ruined for me. He came out wearing a tank top and sweat pants, as he often does. Except, I noticed he was wearing wrestling boots and I saw the outlines of his knee pads under his pants at one point. 

So, the whole time Rock was standing in the ring hyping the attendance record, and then having a verbal confrontation with Bray Wyatt, I was just waiting for him to rip off the sweat pants and get to the reveal of his wrestling trunks.

He eventually did, wrestling a 6-second match against Bray's lackey, Eric Rowan. After a 3-on-1 mismatch, the returning hero John Cena came out to make the save. And, we had a "WrestleMania Moment" of two of the biggest stars ever in the ring together.

With the benefit of hindsight, I would have changed this up a little bit. Cena isn't quite ready to return from his shoulder injury, which is why he didn't wrestle on the show. Not having a match broke his streak of 11 consecutive matches at the biggest event of the year. We had a 6-second match; why couldn't that have been with Cena? Maybe a quick tag match? 

I was beyond disappointed with Dean Ambrose vs Brock Lesnar. I was hoping with my highest hopes that Ambrose would pull out the victory and become the top star that everybody except the WWE higher-ups see him as being. I know in their defense they're going to point to WrestleMania 13 and how Steve Austin lost his match but became a bigger star. There are some key differences: Steve Austin fought for half an hour and didn't get pinned or submit; he passed out due to blood loss. Austin also won matches before and after that - he won the Royal Rumble match two months before WM13! Ambrose was thrown around for 10 minutes and pinned easily, and he hasn't won a pay-per-view match in months.

Perception often becomes reality. We can see that Ambrose talks a tough game but doesn't get the job done. That's who he is now. That would be okay if he were a bad guy, but he's the hero.

AJ Styles lost to Chris Jericho. That was a disappointing blow. As soon as it happened, my thought was "This has to be one story in a bigger picture." As we saw from Monday Night Raw, he is now the new number one contender to the WWE Title. So, he's doing okay. And, if he becomes the champ, he has a ready-made feud with Jericho: "You're the champ, but I beat you in front of the biggest crowd in history."

I still will never comprehend why WWE had Jericho kick out of the Styles Clash on two different occasions. At least he finally got to beat him with it on Raw.

I have no clue why WWE feels like "I'm big, your little" feuds work. That was the impetus between Ryback challenging Kalisto for the US Title. It was forced and lame. The IC Title became a 6-man ladder match. Those should have been reversed. Let Kalisto, the small high flyer, do crazy things on a ladder and play to his strengths. Kevin Owens had a WrestleMania-worthy match and feud in place with Sami Zayn. Click here for background.

Roman Reigns vs Triple H... Hmmmm... Ummmm... I was actually pulling for Triple H to retain. That's how much I am not a fan of the "Roman Empire." I'm tired of him being pushed because he's tall, athletic, and a decent wrestler. There are other tall, athletic, GREAT wrestlers that WWE could put in that position that the crowd wouldn't shit all over.

With Undertaker vs Shane McMahon, I went into the match expecting a decent match with Shane jumping off the 20-foot Hell in a Cell structure. That's exactly what we got. In amateur wrestling, when somebody retires, the custom is to leave your boots in the middle of the ring. Some wrestlers have played with that idea, including Kurt Angle and Mark Henry during his amazing fake retirement speech. As I saw Undertaker sit on the edge of the ring and take his gloves off and throw them into the middle of the ring before leaving, I wondered if there was something to that. I've since read reports that some backstage WWE people are wondering the same thing as well. Undertaker was backstage at Raw the next night, but did not make an appearance.

A lot has been said about WWE pushing and relying too much on older, part-time talent. There will always be a place for a "nostalgia pop," especially on the biggest night of the year. But, it has been the case for several years now that those older stars are pushed at the expense of the young guys. I could go on about this, and maybe will at some point, but for now check out what Dave Sherer of PWInsider wrote about WWE's over-reliance on older talents. A preview: 
As those guys continue to get older, this generation has very few talents that ten years from now will be able to be put in the spots that The Rock, Steve Austin, Mick Foley, Shawn Michaels and even Chris Jericho were in last night.
That's all for now. Comments or questions about the biggest show in WWE history, feel free to leave them.