Dec 31, 2005

How Can He See Over The Bar?

ET / Coors Poster (1982)
Happy New Years Eve, everybody.  Remember, when your bartender starts to look like ET, it's time to hand over the car keys.

Dec 24, 2005

Christmas In The Stars

Christmas In The Stars
RSO Records (1980)
This is right up there with the Star Wars Holiday Special as being one of the most bizarre parts of Christmas and of the history of Star Wars.  It features the voice of Anthony Daniels as C-3PO and the beeps of R2-D2, and the hit single "What Can You Get A Wookiee For Christmas (When He Already Owns A Comb)".  Seriously, it was a hit.  It charted on the Billboard Hot 100.

As if that isn't bizarre enough, producer Meco Monardo revealed in an interview with that this record is the first professional recording of Jon Bon Jovi.  The album was co-produced by Tony Bongiovi, who is Jon Bon Jovi's older cousin.  The future rock star was 17 years old at the time and he had a job sweeping the floors at The Power Station recording studio.  Meco and Tony had three different people at the studio to sing R2-D2 We Wish You A Merry Christmas.  The producers weren't crazy about any of them, so they asked Jon to step in and give it a shot and they loved his performance so much that it was used for the album.

Dec 18, 2005

ROH Final Battle 2005

ROH Final Battle
Inman Sports Club - December 17, 2005
Edison, NJ
The fourth Final Battle took place in Edison, NJ.  After the show, I volunteered to help with the ring crew to clear the arena and load the trucks, and I got to meet many of the wrestlers, including Samoa Joe, Low Ki, Nigel McGuinness and Prince Nana.

Final Battle is Ring Of Honor's biggest show of the year.  It's my second time attending an ROH show, and it didn't disappoint.


Sep 9, 2005

(e):Nos Lives

Playstation Picks
Sony Playstation (1995)
Ten years ago today, the Sony Playstation was released in the United States.  I was 15 years old at the time, and I had lied about my age to get a part time job after school working at a Burger King that wasn't far from my grandparents house.  I didn't save up enough to buy it on launch day, but I bought it before Christmas, and it came with this purple Playstation Picks disc.

It took a little while before I could afford to buy some games (the first of which, if memory serves, was Mortal Kombat 3), so this disc spent a lot of time in my Playstation.  It included videos of a bunch of early Playstation titles and playable demos for ESPN Extreme Games, Jumping Flash, Battle Arena Toshinden and Wipeout, each of which absolutely blew my mind.

Sep 6, 2005

It Doesn't Work

Think Film (2004)
Interesting concept of time travel, but poor execution.  I respect that writer/director Shane Carruth wanted the dialogue to be scientifically accurate, but good lord, this movie has a lot of talking that maybe 1% of the audience will understand.  Mike D'Angelo put it best in his review from Esquire magazine: "anybody who claims to fully understand what's going on in Primer after seeing it just once is either a savant or a liar".  To make matters worse, the characters talk over each other for the first half of the film, so even if you do understand the science, there's a good chance you won't understand the actors.  Also, I respect the fact that this had a low budget, but it looks really bad, even for an independent flick.  It would have worked better as a novel that gets turned into a film by someone other than a first-time director.

I'm not usually a fan of remakes, but this is film practically begs for it.  I'm sure this will end up being a movie that people pretend to like more than they do so that they can try to look intelligent, but it's really just a clever idea with a dull plot built around it.

Aug 30, 2005

Not As Bad As Everyone Says

Breaking Benjamin and Nickelback: All The Right Reasons
The Great Allentown Fair, Allentown PA - August 30, 2005
My friend's little sister won tickets to this show from a radio station contest.  It seems like it's gotten to be trendy to hate Nickelback.  I'm only vaguely familiar with their hits on the radio and they're not one of my favorite groups, but I don't get what all of the negativity is all about.  Seems like it's just people falling in line with social expectations.  They put on a good show.

Breaking Benjamin opened the show.  They're from Wilkes-Barre, so they always draw an enthusiastic crowd in NEPA.  Virtually everyone in attendance sang along with every word to Polyamorous

May 10, 2005

Ric Flair In Wilkes-Barre

WWE Monday Night Raw and Sunday Night Heat
Wachovia Arena - Wilkes-Barre, PA
I'm really glad that I went to this show.  I've been to a few wrestling events over the years, but I never got to see Ric Flair wrestle in person before last night.  It was originally scheduled to be a match between Christian and Flair, but "Captain Charisma" came out to say that Flair had to go through his "Problem Solver" Tyson Tomko first.  It was a fun match with lots of outside interference from Christian.  In true Nature Boy fashion, the "dirtiest player in the game" hit Tomko with a low blow and held onto his trunks to get the victory in what was a very fun match.

Before the live Raw show began, there were three matches that were filmed for Sunday Night Heat, which will air on Spike TV on May 15th, and each of them were pretty good.  The night began with Stevie Richards, the former leader of the Blue World Order in ECW, taking on the co-winner of WWE Tough Enough III, Matt Cappotelli.  It was a surprisingly good match with Stevie playing the heel and getting the victory with a roll up in which he held Cappotelli's tights.

Chris Masters came out next to make the Master Lock Challenge.  It was an open challenge to anyone in the locker room to allow themselves to be put into his full nelson, which he called the Master Lock.  If they managed to get free of the hold, they would win $5,000.  A man from the back took the challenge, and predictably, he did not succeed.

I managed to confuse everyone sitting around me for the second match.  Val Venis came out to wrestle against a guy who didn't get ring entrance or music.  This usually means the opponent is a jobber, but it was former ROH Tag Team Champion CM Punk, who has been regarded as one of the most talented wrestlers on the indy scene for years.  Punk had a lot of offense in the match, and even did a spot were Val Venis shook his hand in a show of respect, only to have Punk attack him immediately afterward when his back was turned.  I'm wondering if this was a tryout match for Punk, or if he might have already signed a contract with WWE.  If that's the case, I have a hunch that those same fans who looked at me like I was a weirdo who cheered who they saw as a random jobber will be telling the story about how they saw Punk before he became a WWE Superstar.

The final match on the Heat taping was one of my favorite wrestlers, William Regal taking on Antonio Thomas, who is one half of a new tag team called The Heart Throbs.  The newcomers made their television debut in a tag team match last month against Regal and Yoshihiro Tajiri, who were tag team champions at the time.  It makes sense to see the rookies working with an established veteran like Regal so that they can get some experience in front of big crowds and learn from one of the best performers in the business.  Regal won the match via disqualification when Antonio's tag team partner, Romeo Roselli, interfered in the match.

Monday Night Raw began with Triple H in the ring cutting a promo on Batista to challenge him for the World Heavyweight Title.  Batista mocked him by saying that he already defeated Triple H twice, and he doesn't deserve a title shot after being knocked out of the Gold Rush Tournament in the first round by Chris Benoit.

The first match of the night began with Muhammad Hassan coming to the ring with his henchman, Davari.  The two of them teamed up a few weeks ago at the WWE Backlash and lost to the team of Hulk Hogan and Shawn Michaels, and Hassan has been abusing Davari ever since.  Davari got on his knees to ask Hassan for forgiveness before standing up and challenging anyone in the locker room to a match as a way to prove himself to Hassan.  Chris Jericho accepted the challenge and defeated Davari with the Walls Of Jericho submission.  After the match, Hassan ran into the ring to attack Jericho and put him in the Camel Clutch before Shelton Benjamin, came into the ring to make the save.

The former WWE Tag Team Champions La Résistance were present for a lot of the show.  They seem like they're doing a storyline that will lead to the team splitting up and feuding with each other.  At this point, General Manager Eric Bischoff is having Sylvain Grenier and Robért Conway wrestle in singles matches against other opponents to find out which of the two is the better man.  The first of these had Grenier being squashed by Viscera, literally and figuratively.  After the match, the former King Mabel stole nachos off of a fan and then used them to sexually assault ring announcer Lilian Garcia.  I wish I was making this up, but if you saw the show, you know I'm not.  The second of these matches saw Conway lose in a non-title match to Intercontinental ChampionShelton Benjamin.  It was a longer match, so I guess that means that Conway sucks less than Grenier.  After the match, Hassan and Davari came out to attack Benjamin on the entrance ramp, so we're sure to get an IC Title feud between Hassan and Benjamin soon.

The Gold Rush Tournament started off with a bang last week.  The first round match between Shawn Michaels and Shelton Benjamin was one of the best matches I've watched in a long time, and it ended with a phenomenal HBK superkick with Benjamin in mid-air from a springboard off of the ropes.  The semi-final matches that took place in Wilkes-Barre weren't as phenomenal as that, but they were pretty great in their own right.

The first of the two Semi-Final matches in the Gold Rush Tournament was between a former WWF Champion, Kane,  and a former WCW Champion and World Heavyweight ChampionChris Benoit.  Kane came to the ring with his "wife" Lita, who was walking on a crutch.  Toward the end of the match, Lita was knocked into the wall.  Benoit checked on her, and Kane attacked him from behind.  About a minute later, Kane blocked an attempted crippler crossface and chokeslammed Benoit for the win.

The second Semi-Final match was the main event of the show.  One of the greatest professional wrestlers of all time, Shawn Michaels, took on the winner of the Money-In-The-Bank briefcase at Wrestlemania 21, Edge.  It was a fantastic match that went about 10 minutes and ended with Edge smacking HBK in the head with the briefcase to get the pinfall victory.  He will go on to wrestle Kane in the finals to determine the tournament winner and the #1 contender to face Batista for the title.

Speaking of Batista, there was a dark match after the live broadcast of Monday Night Raw went off the air.  The World Heavyweight Champion wrestled Muhammad Hassan and Daivari in a handicap match.  It ended when Hassan left the arena and abandoned his partner in the ring.  Batista hit Davari with a powerbomb and pinned him to win the match.  Afterward, the champ walked around the ring to shake hands, sign autographs, and pose with the championship belt with fans.

There were a few other segments during the night.  The longest of them was an interview in the ring with Stacy Keibler to promote her appearance on the cover of the upcoming issue of Stuff Magazine.  They showed some of the pictures from the magazine on the Titan Tron, and Stacy revealed that she was wearing the same underwear from the photo shoot tonight.  They teased having her unzip the front of her skirt to show the crowd, but she was interrupted by Simon Dean and Maven, who came to the ring to make fun of the audience and to promote the Simon System weight loss milkshakes.  This ended when the two heels tried to force Stacy to drink the milkshake, which prompted the World Tag Team Champions, The Hurricane and Rosey (formerly Matt E. Smalls of the Samoan Gangsters in WXW here in Hazleton), to run in and make the save.

Here are the full match results of the night:

Singles MatchStevie Richards defeated Matt Cappotelli

Singles MatchVal Venis defeated CM Punk

Singles MatchWilliam Regal defeated Antonio Thomas

Singles MatchChris Jericho defeated Khosrow Daivari

Singles MatchViscera defeated Sylvain Grenier

Gold Rush Tournament
Kane defeated Chris Benoit

Singles MatchRic Flair defeated Tyson Tomko

Singles MatchShelton Benjamin defeated Robért Conway

Gold Rush Tournament
Edge defeated Shawn Michaels

Post Raw
Handicap Match
Batista defeated Muhammad Hassan and Khosrow Daivari

Apr 24, 2005

The Dawn Of An Era

Sunday, April 24, 2005
Syracuse SkyChiefs @ Scranton Wilkes-Barre Red Barons
Lakawanna County Stadium - Moosic, PA

Seats: Section 132, row K, seats 3 - 4

Pitching: Chad Gaudin vs. Amaury Telemaco

Results: Red Barons defeat SkyChiefs, 5 - 3 (box score)

The Red Barons took the lead in the bottom of the first after Ryan Howard drew a walk and Chris Coste hit a two run homer.  The SkyChiefs tied the game in the 8th, but the Red Barons came back to win after a single by Chris Coste, a sacrifice bunt by Carlos Ruiz, and a two run homer off the bat of Shane Victorino.

Apr 1, 2005

A Paper Route At Five Years Old

Atari Games (1985)
This is me in August seeing Paperboy for the first time at an arcade on the Wildwood boardwalk.  The game was released earlier that Spring, but it didn't make its way to the arcades in my hometown until the winter.  Wildwood arcades always got them right away.

The first few times, I thought that the object was to cause as much damage as possible, so I rode through throwing papers willy nilly at everything.  Usually, I would accidentally deliver at least one paper to a subscriber's house, so I got through to Wednesday.  My grandfather looked on and figured out that I should only wreck the dark houses and try to get it in the mailbox or on the porch of a subscriber.  After that, I was able to get a bit further.

Paperboy was easily my favorite game of that summer.  In the years that followed, we rented it for Nintendo and I was given the Gameboy version as a Christmas present the year that it came out.  I enjoyed them both, but nothing can duplicate the arcade experience with the bicycle handlebar controller.