May 31, 2007

Regal Is Three For Three


Regal Cinema
Schuylkill Mall - Frackville, PA
The four screen theater in the Schuylkill Mall is showing Shrek The Third, Spider-Man 3 and Pirates Of The Caribbean: At World's End - three different films, and each one is part three of their respective franchise.

May 30, 2007

Pirates And Motorcycles At The Drive-In



Pirates Of The Caribbean: At World's End / Wild Hogs
Laurel Drive-In - Hazleton, PA
I didn't go into this expecting to enjoy Wild Hogs more than Pirates Of The Caribbean, but I did.  It's not the kind of movie that's ever going to be nominated for an award, but it's a silly slapstick comedy that made me laugh.  If you don't take it too seriously, there's not much to dislike with a movie like this.

May 29, 2007

Grandpa at Hallmark


Grandpa smiles all the time, but for some reason, he rarely smiles when he knows someone is taking a photo.  I brought my digital camera on a trip to the Fairlane Village Mall and took this photo without him knowing while he was waiting for Grandma to finish up at a store.

May 28, 2007

The Perfect Post-Wrestling Snack


Bacon Ranch Fries
Tony Luke's - Philadelphia, PA

May 27, 2007

Dusto Bunny Conquerors South Philly


Chikara: Anniversario!
New Alhambra Arena - Philadelphia, PA
The second Chikara anniversary show was held at the former ECW Arena in South Philadelphia, and it featured a special guest that was not at yesterday's show in Hellertown.  They're called Kaiju Big Battel, and they're an absolutely brilliant group of folks whose shows are a blend of pro wrestling and a live-action Godzilla movie.  I'm going to have to write more about them in the future because they're absolutely insane in the best possible way!


If you enjoy professional wrestling and you've never watched one of their shows before, I highly recommend Chikara.  They're a blend of comedy and lucha libre that is unlike anything I've ever seen in any other promotion.  Some of the performers on the show are not too many years removed from their training, so they're still learning and the occasional botch does happen, but their enthusiasm and their willingness to try new things to get over more than makes up for it.  However, not everyone on a Chikara show is a rookie, as many of the wrestlers on their show are veterans of the business who train the younger stars of the future.


This photo from the merch tables at intermission yesterday is the perfect example of what makes Chikara great, and not because of me looking super nerdy in the Pepsi shirt.  On the left is El Pantera, who has been one of the most traveled and well respected luchadores in the world for over twenty years.  If you watched WWF in the late 90's, you may recognize him from their Light Heavyweight division.  The man in the center is Lince Dorado.  He turned 20 years old earlier this month and had been training to become a professional wrestler in Mexico with El Pantera as his teacher and mentor.  He's been wrestling for Chikara since February of this year with most of his matches including El Pantera, or veteran luchador Sicodelico Jr.  If the past two nights are any indication, Lince has a very bright future.



The main event was kind of a civil war between members of the same group.  To understand the story, it's important to know that while The Kings Of Wrestling are a tag team in ROH and CZW, they're a much larger group in Chikara.  The larger group includes the tag team of Chris Hero and Claudio Castagnoli, as well as "Sweet & Sour" Larry Sweeney (presently the manager of Chris Hero in ROH as part of the Sweet & Sour Incorporated group).  The Kings Of Wrestling also include Young Lions Cup winner Max Boyer, veteran wrestler "Marvelous" Mitch Ryder, "The Kentucky Gentleman" Chuck Taylor, and the tag team of Icarus and Gran Akuma who are collectively known as Team FIST (which stands for Friends In Similar Tights).  It's a pretty big group.  Anyway, there was a battle between two different sides for supremacy, with Team FIST, Chuck Taylor, and Max Boyer on one side and Chris Hero, Claudio Castagnoli, Larry Sweeney and Mitch Ryder on the other.  The younger team won (IcarusGran Akuma and Chuck Taylor), but they all came together and remained friends when the match was over.

Results:

May 26, 2007

Anniversario?


Chikara: Anniversario?
American Legion Hall - Hellertown, PA
The Chikara Anniversary Show weekend is taking place this year across two shows.  The first show was earlier tonight in Hellertown, and the second is tomorrow at the old ECW Arena in Philadelphia.  We have tickets for both shows, and the first night did not disappoint.


Results:

During intermission, a bunch of folks from the roster came out to the merch tables to meet with fans, sign autographs and take pictures, so of course I had to get a few nerdy photos with some of the wrestlers at tonight's show.

The Olsen Twins: Colin Olsen (left) and Jimmy Olsen (right)
Hallowicked
Worker Ant
Ultramantis Black (this dude is hilarious!)
Dragon Yuki
Kagrra
Icarus

_______________________________________________________

UPDATE: Quite a few wrestlers on this show went on to wrestle in WWEAEW, ROH, TNA, or in another major promotion outside of the United States.  Here is a list of their current names and promotions (as of July 2020):
  • Jimmy Olson has retired, but what I didn't realize is that he also wrestles under a mask as Equinox, so he wrestled in back-to-back matches on this show.
  • Eddie Kingston has wrestled across the indies and internationally for many years.  He has worked for ROH and TNA, and has just signed with AEW in July 2020.



One last wrestler from this show that I feel like I have to mention is Kagrra, because he is an absolute mystery to me.  First of all, I know that he's not a figment of my imagination.  I watched him wrestle at the "Anniversario?" and "Anniversario!" shows on May 26th and 27th, 2007.  He's on the DVD release of the show.  Hell, I met the man during intermission of the Hellertown show and he took a photo with me.

I also know that Kagrra was visiting the United States from a promotion called Pro Wrestling Kageki that is based in Fukuoka, Japan.  I was able to find a lot of information about many wrestlers that worked in this company, including Dragon Yuki, who is also on both of these shows.  He was in a tag team match alongside Kagrra on the 26th and he wrestled against him on the 27th, so I know this isn't a situation like Jimmy Olsen wrestling in a tag team match, only to come right back out for the very next match under a mask and calling himself Equinox.

When I researched all of the wrestlers from this show to see what they're doing today, I found a lot of information for all of them... except Kagrra.  In fact, the only time I saw his name mentioned at all was in references to these two shows.  The Internet Wrestling Database has a profile for him, but the only matches that are listed are the May 26th and 27th, 2007 shows from the Chikara anniversary weekend.  So, I'm guessing that either one of two things happened:  either Kagrra changed his gimmick and no one ever thought to associate his new character with the one he used in Chikara, or he spent all that time training in Japan only to wrestle two matches in Pennsylvania and then retire from the business forever.  The first option seems more likely, but it's been over 13 years since this show.  You'd think that there would be someone out there who would have added a footnote that said "Hey, Wrestler X once went by the name Kagrra on a tour of the United States".  If I ever find out the answer, I'll add a second update to this post.  If you're reading this and you know who this dude is, by all means, please reach out to me on Twitter and let me know.

May 21, 2007

Willy Wonka Doritos


Doritos X-13D
Wal-Mart - Wilkes-Barre, PA
These taste exactly like a McDonald's cheeseburger.  You can taste the meat, the cheese, the pickles, and even the ketchup.  It's pretty crazy how close they came.

May 20, 2007

Happy Birthday, Grandma

Grandma on her 69th birthday holding Little Sammy.
Grandma showing off one of her birthday cards while Dad looks on.
Dad staring at Grandma's birthday cake as she put it on the table.
Dad is always in a good mood when we're having KFC for dinner.
Me with Little Sammy.

May 14, 2007

Heroes In The City


Heroes is one of my favorite new shows in a long time, and it'll be wrapping up pretty soon, with the second to last episode of the season airing tonight at 9:00.  NBC is pushing the season finale pretty hard.  Angie and I were in New York for Ring Of Honor over the weekend, and there were advertisements for the show everywhere.


There are no Heroes ads in these last two pictures, but it's my blog damn it, and I want to post cheezy pictures with my girlfriend!  :p

May 13, 2007

One Step Forward - Two Steps Back



ROH: Respect Is Earned
Manhattan Center - New York, NY
This show is intended to be the first Ring Of Honor pay-per-view event.  As excited as I am to be in attendance, I think this is a really bad idea for the company.  Shortly after ROH made the announcement that they're expanding to nationwide distribution on pay per view, TNA announced that they will no longer allow any of their contracted performers to appear at a Ring Of Honor show.  So, that means no more Samoa Joe, Christopher Daniels, AJ Styles, Homicide, Austin Aries, or anyone else who is currently under TNA contract.  That means that some of the biggest names in company history who would appeal to potential ppv buyers will be nowhere in sight.  Also, a significant percentage of main event level talent who aren't being pulled out of the company by TNA are wrestlers who are visiting from Japan and have agreed to a limited number of dates.  Without wrestlers contracted to TNA or Japanese promotions, I don't think that have enough left to maintain the company at the level they've been at for the past two years, let alone to grow and expand it successfully to a nationwide audience.

To make matters worse, this show isn't airing live on pay-per-view - it's being pre-taped for broadcast later on in the year, and it's not even going to be available throughout the country at the same time.  Dish Network will be the first carrier to air the show on July 1st and In Demand not getting it until nearly three weeks later.  It seems that this company believes that the recipe for success is to sell a nearly two month old show as a pay-per-view without most of the top talent that put them on the map in the first place.  For their sake, I hope they're right, but I can tell you that if I wasn't already a fan of this company, I highly doubt that this show would have made me a fan.


With the exception of the Takeshi Morishima vs BJ Whitmer match, which lasted about three minutes and felt more like a burial of Whitmer than a buildup of Morishima, all of the matches were good.  However, the structure of the show felt strange, and not in a good way.  Nigel McGuinness came out at one point to challenge Morishima to a match.  Then Morishima came out, followed by Bryan Danielson.  This led to a 2-on-1 beatdown of McGuinness until Kenta came in to make the save.  Finally, McGuinness challenged Morishima and Danielson to face he and Kenta in a tag team match in the main event.  I don't know if it was a problem with the microphones or the speakers, but I could barely understand what anyone was saying.  But even if it was crystal clear, the whole skit felt out of place for an ROH show.  It felt like they all got together to watch a few episodes of Monday Night Raw and were trying to imitate their format.  It did not feel like the Ring Of Honor that made me fall in love with the company in the first place.

Later in the night, Homicide came out to the ring with Julius Smokes to give his farewell speech to the ROH fans.  I was hoping someone would run out to interrupt him and we'd get one last match with Homicide going out on top in front of his hometown crowd, but it didn't happen.

I know this is going to come across as negative, but I don't mean it to be.  This was a very enjoyable show with a lot of great matches.  It's not my favorite ROH show that I've ever attended, but I'd probably put it in the top five.  However, it does feel like the company has decided to go in a different direction and are moving away from a company focused on the best in-ring product in the country in favor of trying to be WWE Junior, and that's not a change that I'm especially happy about.  I hope that I'm wrong.

May 12, 2007

Brain Droppings


Brain Droppings
George Carlin (1998)
My favorite entertainer, and quite possibly my favorite person on earth that I don't know personally has turned 70 years old today.  I don't think there's ever been a person whose words cut through to my brain quite as directly as George Carlin.  It's not just that he's hysterically funny.  He has an outsiders view of the world that I've not found from any other source than my own brain.  It's as if he's from another planet and he's offering observations about a world and a species that he is studying academically, without any form of personal attachment.  I can't begin to explain how strongly I identify with this perspective.

I got to see him perform six years ago at the Kirby Center in Wilkes-Barre, and I hope to see him again.  Maybe one of these days, I'll ask him to sign my book.  Brain Droppings was Carlin's first book.  It was published in 1998, and the audiobook won a Grammy Award for Best Spoken Comedy Album in 2001.  It was his third Grammy for a comedy album, and now that I write this, I noticed that he accepted the Grammy for Brain Droppings twelve days after the show in Wilkes-Barre.

The entire book is great, but the part that speaks the loudest to me is the preface.  I've scanned it below.  The part in the red box matches who I am and how I think closer than anything else I've ever found, and he explains it better than I could.  It's not necessarily who I want to be.  Truth be told, I sometimes wish I could just melt into society, be normal, and go along to get along like just about everybody else.  I can fake it for short bursts, but it's like bailing water out of the Titanic with a bucket.  Eventually, it's going down and it's taking me with it.  If you're reading this and you want to get to know me better, read these pages.  If you still want to get to know me better after that, it's on you.