May 17, 2014

  • Couch to 5k progress

    Back in January, on New Year's Eve, my wife and I started the "Couch to 5K" running program, her idea being that we would sign up for a 5K in March and we'd go into it fresh off of having finished up this 9 week program. For those unfamiliar, it involves 9 weeks of 3 approximately 30-minute sessions a week at the end of which, you should be able to run an entire 5k race without stopping (side note, there are also options for distance, but time is easier to track for more people, so it's usually the option emphasized). Long story short, we fell short. There were times when we were short on time. There were times when one or the other of us had not been feeling well. In the end, we jogged for about a third of the 5k and walked the rest, having only completed four weeks of the program and barely dipping into the fifth.

    More recently, I decided to get back into it. I'm in rehearsals for Merry Wives of Windsor with Poor Yorick's Players in Monroeville. The theater is in the middle of a park, and I work about 15-20 minutes down the road, so I've been packing running clothes, showing up an hour early, and getting my run in. Last week, week 5, I fell off the wagon a little. I missed the first two workouts and went right to Week 5 Day 3 on my handy C25k app. After the five minute warmup, it told me 20 minutes of running, which was more than a little daunting. But I did it. I was slowing near the end and I was dead tired with my legs shaking, but I did it. As anyone who click through on that first link in the post knows, I erred. For the first 4 weeks, the three workouts are the same. For the fifth week, they change with it being relatively easy on the first day, harder on the second, and a solid run with no breaks for the third. I went right to that third.

    I'm debating whether I should go to week 6 for next week or to properly run week 5 for those three days. I think I will probably go for the latter. I was a bit sore in the calves last night, and my knee was aching for a bit this morning, so it's a good idea to ease back a little. Still, I'm proud of myself. I never really thought of myself as the kind of person who could run for 20 minutes at a time. Yeah, I know... I should be in better shape than that, but it really is an accomplishment for me.

May 14, 2014

  • Jury Duty

    Almost everyone goes through it at least once, and this was my lucky day. It's been driving me a little bit crazy having no one to talk to about it, but the trial is over, so I can do so. First off, I do want to state that, while I was not thrilled to love two days of work (and thus, wages for those days), I recognize that we need good people to stand on juries and I'm close enough for government work. Literally. I do think that the compensation aspect of it needs to be reworked because there were several of us who were losing money being there and, while I'd like to think that it didn't drive us to a hasty decision, I'm not naïve enough to think that it had no effect at all on our decision-making. And I'm still kicking myself over our final decision.

    The case was one of a house fire in a rental property. The plaintiff was the tenant and was pursuing a civil case against her landlord, claiming that there were inadequate smoke detectors in the house, that the landlord was aware of that fact, and the fact that they did not act on it showed negligence on their part. It should have been a clear-cut case except neither side brought much evidence to the table, the only witnesses involved were the plaintiff and the defendant, their statements were contradictory with the defendant's statements largely boiling down to that she had no idea if there were inadequate smoke alarms, didn't remember being contacted about the lack of them, and felt that the whole thing was the fault of the plaintiff for not being vigilant enough for signs of a fire (there was smoke smelled earlier in the day, but no sign of a fire and the neighbors were visibly burning wood outside). I got elected foreman and quickly learned that there was no way we were getting a quorum to agree on anything past the basic fact that both sides exhibited negligence. Past that... there was no evidence either way. The testimony was contradictory, no other witnesses were called, we had multiple statements by the lawyers, witnesses, and the judge which were stricken from the record, we were forbidden from referencing the fire code... and we're told not to speculate but to base our decision on the evidence. Of which there basically was none.

    So, deadlocked as we were, into the second day, I made a decision, the one which is haunting me even now. I raised the fact that we were all in agreement that neither side had proven their case, and suggested that we could wash our hands of the situation by following the strict measure of the law and making our decision as simply that the plaintiff had not proven negligence. Legally speaking, we were in the right. Morally... we would be playing Pilate and washing our hands of the situation. We put it to a vote. Two people voted that the defendant had shown negligence. One of the people who eventually voted no on that matter was clearly struggling with her decision and I tried to assure her that we would not think badly of her either way. I was the final vote. In my heart, I really wanted to vote for negligence, which would have put us back in the state of being a hung jury, but I caved. I wanted this to end. I worried that they'd think I was jerking them around by suggesting this measure and then voting against it. I was a coward and I'm still kicking myself over that.

    So, I'm... conflicted. Did I sell that plaintiff out because I didn't want another day of jury duty? Did I lead the other jurors astray by giving them an out? Should I have voted that third dissenting vote, whether or not there were two people? I don't know. I feel sick to my stomach still over it all. I did explain myself to the plaintiff and her counsel (we were told that we were allowed to choose to speak with the lawyers. We were allowed to choose not to speak with the lawyers. Ultimately, the defense boogied out without a word); I and two others on the jury made our explanation of why we chose like we did, hopefully indicating to the lawyer that he'd lost by not introducing sufficient evidence and witnesses, since the defense really didn't do anything more to defend themselves. I still feel guilty.

September 28, 2013

  • Muddled Impressions on IWC's Friday Night Fights

    Went to Friday Night Fights last night, screamed myself hoarse and decided to take a hot toddy to soothe my throat (having a cold already didn't help). Yeah... I just woke up a bit ago, but I'll try to recount what I remember.

    Opening match: Haught & Cute versus Nutts & Brooks

    Best match of the night. No, really! Well, that and the closing match were a close tie perhaps. Haught and Delaney entered in their usual high-energy crowd-pleasing manner. Nutts and Brooks followed close behind, unfortunately doing the glitter stick thing again. I say unfortunately because, as the saying goes, "glitter is the herpes of the craft world". Despite attempts by the ring staff to clear the area with brooms between matches, every single wrestler throughout the night sported a shimmer of glitter they'd picked up. It looked like Twilight all night long. Anyhow, there was an excellent back-and-forward action to the match. All four are excellent wrestlers and worked with each other not to advance their own image, but to make everyone look good. Nutts and Brooks did an excellent job of keeping Delaney away from his corner where Haught, as a proper face, merely leaned over straining for the tag instead of leaping in as so many wrestlers, heel or face, do these days. Ultimately, Nutts and Brooks prevailed, keeping the Tag Titles they took off of Haught and Delaney, but not without taking several falls, including one simultaneous 2 and a half count.

    Live Aftershock with Justin Plummer

    Ostensibly, this was going to be another ChairShot Reality segment with Justin LaBar and the crowd had already been riled up on Facebook with suggestions of ways and means of protest (the prevailing idea was for everyone to come up with some sort of reading material and obviously tune out as soon as LaBar came in). After much booing as it was announced that LaBar would soon be entering, instead Justin Plummer came out in LaBar signature leather jacket to riotous cheering. After admitting that LaBar might be stranded at the airport due to Plummer walking off with the jacket, car keys in pocket, and ostensibly filming all of us on his phone to show to LaBar on Twitter (said video has yet to show up), Chuck Roberts showed up for an apparent dressdown but instead congratulated Plummer on how clever he was. Plummer then did an in-ring interview segment with Zema Ion on his return. I like Plummer and his Aftershock show. I do have to offer a bit of constructive criticism in that he needs to work on maintaining intensity in his speaking. After the entry with all of its yelling, he dropped down to a conversational level with Ion, which was a bit jarring.

    HD Cannon versus Remy LaVey

    I may be getting a match or two out of order here. Sorry, part of the issue of not taking notes and trying to write things up the day after. This was LaVey's second match with IWC, his last one being at Proving Grounds also at White Oak. HD Cannon, of course, is a relative rookie in the IWC, but has more of a reputation (and has gotten more of a push). To be honest, I'm still not certain what LaVey's angle is yet. Pale-skinned guy with a shaggy haircut and bad black dye-job, enters with a leather jacket on. I'm not certain whether they're going for a pseudo-goth angle, a biker, or what. For the match itself, LaVey was pretty out-matched. Cannon has the physique and has the moves. LaVey is a bit pudgier and seemed to rely more on striking (although I have to say, he's got some of the most convincing hitting technique in the promotion. Most of the guys take half-hearted telegraph swings that miss by inches, but his punches actually looked and sounded like they connected). Cannon won with a pinfall. I talked with LaVey a bit during intermission. He seemed to be really favoring his right shoulder and sounded a bit out of it; I suspect he actually got hurt out there. Seemed like a nice enough guy, but either he's being counseled to come off as unimpressive (every promotion needs a jobber, I guess) or he needs to do more in the ring.

    Facade versus Ashton Amherst

    This was an "unsanctioned" match, which apparently translates out to "official except no titles will transfer and no disqualification". Amherst had a good entrance, riling up the crowd with how he's trying to insult all of us in our stupid town and yet we lap it all up. Shades of Bobby Fish, to be honest. Facade did his usual except he didn't spraypaint a fan's sign (probably because there were none in the front row tonight), instead spraypainting his own, and giving it to Cray-Cray Lady (the angry grandmother who curses the heels). The match itself was good with Facade largely having the upper hand, but realistically knocked back on occasion by the larger Amherst. Amherst tried to leave the match at one point, proclaiming that Facade was "cheating" by "grabbing his hair at least three times" (Amherst is either heavily balding or has his hair cut in a close buzz cut, so this was a joke) and was told by Chuck Roberts that he couldn't leave the ring because this was "an unsanctioned match". Dunno how that works... maybe Chuck was implying that if he didn't wrestle now, he'd just get curbstomped backstage? Anyhow, the match was good with the referee (former wrestler, I'm told) thrice getting hit by moves and getting knocked out enough to not see Facade successfully pin Amherst. Ultimately, Amherst successfully hit a back-to-belly piledriver on Facade onto a steel chair and then pinned him for the win but not title. As I told my wife, it was an excellent example of making both guys look strong, since both of them could be argued to have gotten the win but without any title changing place. I would not put this one among my top Facade matches, but he's a good wrestler and they made each other look good.

    Zema Ion versus Brian McDowell

    Zema Ion entered the ring and seemed ready to call out RJ City when Team STD came outand pre-emptively accepted his challenge. After a bit of friendly team beating, they left him in the ring with McDowell. It was an alright match, but a bit forgettable. McDowell seemed to be having cardio issues (he's a much bigger guy) and I suspect that Ion is still on the road to recovery, as he didn't do a number of his acrobatic moves (it might also be a matter of whether McDowell was able to follow such moves. A number of Ion's more flashy moves look like they require a wrestler who can execute a flip on their own without landing on their heads). Ultimately, Ion won with a submission where McDowell tapped out seconds into it for a somewhat anti-climactic ending.

    Four versus Four tag match: Team STD (minus McDowell and Marshall Gambino versus W.A.R., Matt Segaris (Blue Collar Slaughterhouse), and Mike Rayne

    I don't like oversized tag matches, but Chuck seems enamored with them. Because of the complexity of so many people in and around the ring, it's actually less exciting than a regular tag match because it so often devolves into either a straight-up brawl or little bits of action happening simultaneously all over the ring. The addition of Mike Rayne was a surprise addition. I guess one of the members of BCS couldn't make it (I think it's Segaris who was out there... I get him and McBride confused on occasion). Well, it started out with the brawl situation until the faces were the guys left in the ring whereupon the match in general happened. They actually maintained this as a regular tag match for a good bit of it with only one person tagged in at a time. At first, the faces dominated the action, tagging in a fresh guy occasionally as they would dominate a member of Team STD and then let them tag out for another guy. Aiden Veil did a bit where he beat up each of the four members of Team STD in turn, then slid out of the ring and tried chatting up the Gambino valet (Madison? It's the girl who's always spilling out of her shirt) before playing a bit of grab-ass with her and getting clouted over the head. When he re-entered the ring, Marshall was very unamaused, and had had time to recover, and long segment of Aiden getting beat up in the Team STD corner ensued. Ultimately, Aiden managed to fight his way out and make the tag. There was more tag action, pretty standard stuff, although there were some odd bits like Palace going for his signature AVIATION!!! top rope maneuver when the only person anywhere near the ring was Chest Flexor, his teammate, on the ring ropes (and, as is typical once he puts on the goggles, Palace missed even the wrong target and tumbled off the side of the ring). Ultimately, Marshall got into a yelled discussion with Flexor, I assume indicating that he didn't think much of them, and Team STD left the ring en masse, leaving Marshall to fend off all four members of the ostensible faces, who proceeded to disregard the tag match rules entirely and all enter the ring to beat up on him while the referee basically looked at the pigpile and shrugged. That is, of course, my other big pet peeve about tag matches, that no one pays any attention to the rules. Gambino was pinned and it looks like the team-up of Team STD and Marshall may be over.

    Dennis "War Machine" Gregory versus Sam "The Natural" Cassidy

    Short match. Dennis largely dominated the action, delivering his signature constant commentary throughout the action, including a shouting match with one of the fans and reprimanding one kid at ringside for swearing. Cassidy was a bit awkward again, missing at least one move where we was supposed to hook Gregory's arms and legs up behind his head and then drop onto his back, slamming Gregory to the mat. As it was, he missed hooking the legs, resulting in Gregory landing awkwardly and recovering for a bit outside the rign, shaking his wrist and complaining about Cassidy's bad technique. After a few minutes of wrestling, Gregory got Cassidy into a submission hold and it was all over.

    Logan "Heavy Metal Jesus" Shulo versus John "Big League" McChesney

    Two veteran wrestlers, both with impressive skills in the ring, what could go wrong? Well, nothing did. It was an excellent match, very much worthy of being the main event. McChesney acknowledged that Chuck had stipulated that the rest of Team Big League (which, these days, seems to be only Nutts and Brooks, probably since Bobby Fish is busy with Ring of Honor matches) leave ringside, so McChesney ordered them to go to the commentary table. What followed was an excellent example of face versus heel. Occasionally, people accuse McChesney of only being able to win via cheating, but he showed excellent wrestling skills in the match, wrestling smart, repeatedly targeting Shulo's leg in what looked to be progressively painful attacks. McChesney is about the same height as Shulo, but less built, so it made sense for him to take what advantage he could and run with it. Shulo, of course, fought back, but it was largely McChesney's match as he dominated the action and showed that indeed, he can stand on his own as a wrestler. There was a weird bit later in the match where McChesney, staggering after a beating, proceeded to climb the corner post and sit there, but it turned out to be set-up for him stealing Logan's signature move of getting an opponent handing upside-down from the corner ropes and stomping on their face, jumping from the post. There were also two lovely Boston Crabs (also signature moves by Shulo, although ones I haven't seen him do in the ring for a while) by McChesney where Shulo had to struggle for a rope break, unable to get out of the hold otherwise. Near the end, Shulo was getting the upper hand and Brooks tried to enter to interfere with Nutts holding him back, providing enough of a distraction for McChesney to rally. After the second time this happened, Chuck ordered the ringside staff to escort Nutts and Brooks outside, banned from the building for the rest of the match. I have to say, seeing Brooks literally picked up and carried out by the short black guy in the ringside staff was one of the funniest bits of the night. Shulo finally landed his signature piggy-back spin-around slam (I think it's entitled his "Halo Bomb") and I'd swear that they rang the bell for the pin before Shane Taylor came in and blindsided Shulo, necessitating all of the faces from the night to come out and run him and McChesney off and carry Shulo out. Chuck Roberts has since posted that Shulo had to go to the hospital and blames Norm Conners (who wasn't present) for the events. Honestly, I got more of the feeling that Taylor acted on his own, that McChesney was trying to stand on his own for the match and Conners is going to disassociate himself from Team Big League, leaving Justin LaBar as the evil manager, possibly with Taylor joinging up.


    Overall, an excellent night. Tickets were cheap and attendance was a bit sparse, but the people who were there were enthusiastic. It was announced that October's match is having its name changed from No Excuses 2013 to Retro Reunion, apparently welcoming back some former stars including some fellow named Egotistical? *shrug* Before my time, I suppose (not difficult to do since I only started attending last year). We also had Cody Knotts arriving to promote his film, Pro Wrestlers Vs Zombies including showing off a new trailer / music video which includes shots of IWC's own Facade and Ashton Amherst as well as footage of Hacksaw Jim Duggan, Roddy Piper, and Kurt Angle. They had a "biggest fan" competition during the event to win free tickets for the debut United States (first showings will apparently be in England and Germany) in Uniontown, PA. My wife won one, so we will be attending. There were a lot of kids at the match tonight. It was a bit disruptive having them running up and down the bleachers throughout the matches, and at least one of them slapped McChesney on the back as he came in, something that would get most of the adults thrown out. It played well when Shulo did his "benediction" pre-ring bit with all of the kids huddled around the ringside fence and him evidently saying something very earnest to them although I couldn't catch what. Still, they were enthusiastic, and that's half the fun at wrestling. Unfortunately, my wife and I will be missing the next event. She scheduled our Halloween party for that day. Ah well, so much for dressing up as Jason Gory...

June 16, 2013

  • Impressions from Super Indy XII

    Super Indy XII

    Right. First off, I had an excellent time. I got my wife to go, somewhat begrudgingly (she's not big on violence), and she had a blast two. Now, my impressions (fair warning, as those who have read before, I will make mistakes. I'm writing of events that were hours ago):

    Introduction

    I had bought the tickets months ago, so I had front row seats. Unfortunately, when Jamie and I tried to sit, we found that some idgits had decided to grab chairs and rearrange them, requiring us to appeal to security to get our seats back. I must give them credit for the quick resolution of the matter. Now, on to the event. First, Chuck Roberts came out and did a brief summation of the history of IWC's Super Indy championship and the annual competition (in which he did acknowledge and give credit to Norm Connors and his history with the promotion). Each of the scheduled competitors in the tournament were called out one by one (except Gory). Yea, verily, the ring did groan under the weight of so many muscled men, and they posted for a group photograph (Facade was, as usual, a bit of a class clown in the background). Shortly thereafter, Gory made an appearance on the catwalk. It was a nice introduction.

    Facade vs Rave

    I have to say, this one was disappointing. Facade was his usual entertaining self. Rave was... well, I understand that he's had a lot of ups and downs in his life and has apparently wrestled with many demons to get to this point. Sadly, he seems to be going a bit to seed. His physique was not up to the same standards as the other competitors and he seemed to need a lot of breathers during the match. I wish him luck in his career, but he was, sadly, the low point of the night. This may have also been part of the reason that he was the one guest star who was eliminated in the first round of matches. On a side note, Facade got first blood of the night. After an aerial attack from inside the ring to the outside, Rave had a bit of blood around his mouth and at one point spat a bloody gob to one side of the ring. Facade won and advanced.

    Bobby Fish vs Extreme Tiger

    This one was very entertaining. One of the frequent complaints about cruiserweights is that it's unbelievable when they defeat larger opponents. Here, it was rendered believable. Fish obviously overpowered Extreme Tiger from the start, and it was only through a combination of extreme determination and some well-planned comebacks that Extreme Tiger pulled out the win. I like Bobby Fish. He's an ass, but he's an entertaining ass, particular in his adherence to complete following of the rules. There was a bit of race jokes involved in this match, but not much past Bobby Fish mangling Spanish phrases and indicating that the referee would have to talk slowly and loudly when explaining the rules to Extreme Tiger (also, a fun bit where Fish complained at length about how Extreme Tiger needed to avoid giving Fish a wedgie when grabbing the trunks). Extreme Tiger won and advanced. Oh, and Fish ostensibly extended the hand of friendship, mocking Extreme Tiger for being unsociable when at first he was hesitant. Of course, Fish used the handshake as a chance to kick Extreme Tiger in the gut. Oh, Fish, you marvelous heel, you...

    A.C.H. versus Shane Strickland

    This, in my opinion, was the crowning gem of the night. From the dance-off between Strickland and A.C.H. to the high-flying maneuvers, this match had it all. Additionally, this match is one of the few where I watched it and felt like the strikes were actually hitting people. As I've said in prior reviews, one of the areas where IWC (and probably, by extension, the Iron City Wrestling Academy) falls down is in striking. Kicks aren't that bad, and everyone knows how to throw a chest chop, but any other sort of striking tends to degenerate to a sort of noiseless flailing that just looks fake. Here, they even got into a knowck-down-drag-out trading of punches and it all looked real. Ultimately, A.C.H. won and advanced, but he and Strickland ended the match as friends.

    Gory vs. Kyle Matthews

    True to form, Gory appeared from darkness. The actual match was entertaining. I think that Matthews is trying for a sort of "Hulk Hogan" image, with clean and uncomplicated moves, a weird finger-waggle when indicating that he didn't plan to stay down, and attempts to "pump himself up" during the fight. Mild drawback in the match is the striking, again. Gory occasionally looked like he was trying to flail Matthew with his fingertips, particularly when going to the ground. In the end, Gory prevailed, but Matthews made a good showing of himself. On a side note, the photograph they use for Matthews is unintentionally hilarious. I feel like he's stopping a passer-by to inquire after the Grey Poupon. Gory won and advanced.

    HD vs Hollis vs Rayne vs Mr. 450

    Honestly, my memories of this match are somewhat fragmented. I remember that, as with many matches involving multiple people, it generally moved among various iterations of two people fighting while the other two lay injured or catching their breath outside the right. Hollis was obviously being played as the butt monkey of the match, with people ganging up on him and largely no-selling his attacks (there was a funny bit where Mr. 450 actually started yawning as Hollis laid chest chop after chest chop into him). Rayne and HD spend much of the match being the odd men out, with Cannon seeming to have genuinely injured his knee at some point, requiring him to convalesce throughout much of the match and to loosen his kneepad at the end so that he could walk. Memorable bits included the four person chained suplex (I suspect they were trying to outdo the 3 person one back in Night of the Superstars) and Cannon struggling to lift his opponent on his shoulders after his injury (he eventually succeeded). Ultimately, Mr. 450 won and advanced to fight Anthony Nese.

    Anthony Nese versus Mr. 450

    Regrettably, this match was a bit of a foregone conclusion. While Mr. 450 did admirably against his opponent, dramatic tension required Nese to make it to the end, so he ultimately defeated 450. I don't really remember the details, but I do remember that it was a good match with a lot of good spots and transferal of the momentum. After his loss, 450 received applause from the audience and an invitation to come back.

    Facade vs. Extreme Tiger

    Another very entertaining match between two high-flyers. Again, the details are a bit scarce now, but I remember finding it very good. And, at the end, there was a genuine hand of friendship as they shook on the end. While it was a close match, likely for reasons of storyline, Facade won and advanced. Honestly, I suspect that I would probably have had more to say about this match if the prior two hadn't been so good, leaving me a bit jaded.

    Gory vs. A.C.H.

    Good match. Gory was suitably creepy as he entered the ring (for once, not doing so under the cover of darkness). And I continue to be amazed at his sheer athleticism given his slender frame. You look at all of the other wrestlers and they're suitably beefy, even Facade with his lean physique, but Gory seems practically skeletal in comparison. Despite that, he pulled off his maneuvers with great gusto. Again, the striking was a bit of a drawback, but the grappling was excellent. Gory won, thereby guaranteeing that Flippin' Ain't Easy would be in the ring together once more. Oh, and it's a good thing that the FCC doesn't broadcast these shows, because Gory's pin of A.C.H. gave the audience a bit of southern exposure due to the way his trunks were grabbed.

    Interludes

    There were a couple of odd little interludes during the night to give us a bit of a breather. Norm Connors came out with Team Big League to make an announcement about their impending victory. He was his usual amusing Cloud Cuckoo Lander self. Some guy from a show named Chair Shot Reality claimed he'd be doing an interview with Dalton Castle, but got booed to silence by the audience (is he some sort of notorious figure in the business?) before Marshal Gambino and his new valet/backer (I forget her name, but she got a lot of attention from the crowd for how she was nearly escaping out of her suit-coat) made a huge ruckus and drove him out to proclaim an upcoming match against Blue Collar Slaughterhouse. There were several interviews including Team Big League being obnoxious to Plummer, Dalton and Logan showing some friction over their upcoming match (Dalton claimed he'd get the pin because he had just a little bit more hate for Team Big League than Logan) with Chuck trying to convince them to not divide their house and thereby fall, and Justin Idol indicating that he's just there as an interested spectator (which, funnily enough, turned out to be the truth. The closest he got to interfering involved being ringside for his protegee, HD Cannon, and later taunting Super-Hentai). Oh, and Team Flexor came out to once more issue a challenge on the behalf of Andrew Palace. Super-Hentai answered it.

    Andrew Palace vs. Super-Hentai

    You've got to love Team Flexor. They're such colorful figures, and they just try so hard but almost inevitably fail. Super-Hentai delivered a nice speech about how he's been a part of Super Indy since the beginning, but that he wasn't pissed about not being in this one because he knows he has to work his way up, something that he feels Team Flexor just doesn't get in their attempts to get matches by these open challenges. The mechanics of the match were good. Both Palace and Super-Hentai showed off some impressive moves. Team Flexor, as usual, did their best to work as a team, but, as usual, largely got in each other's ways. Palace attempted his high-flying schtick (is that his "Aviation!!!" move listed on his bio?), but didn't even get the chance to miss, because he lost his goggles on the way up. Ultimately, Super-Hentai won, although he acknowledged that Andrew Palace gave him a good fight and might be going places. Afterwards, there was a backstage scene with him and Justin Idol wherein Idol taunted Super-Hentai for his recent losing streak (Hentai countered by reminding Idol that he has the more impressive losing streak) and set up a match next event with Idol, Cannon, and some new protege of Idol (the name might have been mentioned, but I didn't catch it) versus the Founding Fathers. Should be interesting. Hopefully, Cannon is in good enough shape. My wife pointed out that something seemed to be sticking out funny on his knee when he hobbled out after the Four-Way.

    Logan & Dalton vs. Team Big League

    This was the big handicap match arranged in the aftermath of Logan and Facade's loss last event. Three on two, and if Logan and Dalton lost, they'd be barred from challenging for titles for a year. Team Big League were their usual selves, tearing up fan signs and in general seeking heat. There was a mildly funny bit for me and my wife when Norm went from berating an argumentative fan madly to turning and, upon seeing me, calmly extending his hand and saying, "Hey, nice to see you again." That was a nice touch from a nice guy. Don't ever change, Norm. There were some pre-match shenanigans involving jackets being stolen (and McChesney's getting stuffed down the back of Dalton's trunks). The actual match was pretty much the usual. Team Big League cheated. Dalton protested the cheating at the right times to distract the referee so that Logan could be beat up more by the whole team. Early in the match, Logan and Dalton intelligently tagged out in their corner to maintain proper pressure (in a handicap match, you have to take every advantage you can), but as the match wore on, their competitiveness started to pull them apart, which Logan occasionally deciding to go it alone rather than turn things over to the Party Peacock. There was a tense bit where Logan had Brooks pinned, but Dalton yanked him off (aforementioned conflict over who'd get the pin), which led to Team Big League getting a second wind including Logan refusing to tag Dalton in when it was logical, instead going for his big spots. Ultimately, of course, they pulled together and got the win. I think Logan wound up getting the pin, although I may misremember. On a side note, I remain impressed at the ability of the members of Team Big League to take tremendous bumps. It takes a really good worker to make your opponent seem a titan who slings wrestlers all the way across the ring. McChesney is one of those people who can sell it well night after night. Also, points to Norm for selling getting missile-kicked in the face from inside the ring.

    One thing that stood out to me on this match is the sad state of tag team rule enforcement on both sides. I know that it's all part of the game, and that it makes little sense for people to stand back while their teammate is getting pummeled or pinned, but so often, it degenerates to a free-for-all with the referee making no effort to clear people, or to determine who the legit team member in the ring is. It's understandable when the heels do it because, hey, they're heels, but when the faces do it, it always feels like a sell-out to me. I suspect that I'm just old-fashioned, like the people who complain about NBA players getting some free steps without dribbling in preparation for a dunk, but it's my feeling on the matter.

    Gory vs. Facade vs. Nese

    This was, of course, the main event of the night, the fight for the Super Indy Championship, and it was impressive. All three wrestlers were smart about letting their two opponents wear themselves out before stepping in. All three executed their moves very well, although Gory seemed to get sidelined more often. Near the end, Facade forced Gory into reprising their Buddy Moonsault move against Nese to great effect. Shortly thereafter, Gory tried to ninja mist Facade, but hit the referee instead. Gory was disqualified (something which will no doubt result in a continuing arc where he tries to sabotage Facade) and the match continued with a new referee. In the end, Facade got the pin and was crowned the champion. It was the end of the night, so I'm afraid I'd reached that point of fatigue where I remember little but the highlights of the match. Overall, though, excellent job from all three of the wrestlers. Oh, and Nese was surprisingly gracious about his loss. At first, it looked like he'd run with the belt, and he wouldn't initially let go when Facade went for it, but it seemed like the harshly whispered conversation was more or less a case of "You'd better take good care of it until I come to take it back from you".

    Overall Commentary

    Plummer told me that this was going to be one of the biggest nights of the year for IWC and it certainly paid off for the wrestlers and the fans (I hope it paid off for Chuck as well. Attendance was good, but it didn't seem larger than their usual house, to be honest). There were some minor glitches involving wrestlers being late for their entrances, or the music apparently not cueing up at the right place, and there was one funny bit where the lights flickered and everyone looked around for Gory before they came back on with nothing happening. I particularly enjoyed watching the kids at ringside. Several of them wound up involved in the action, including the kid whose signs kept getting torn up and the one who got into a yelling match with Nese (I never know how many of these are plants, but the latter kid seemed pretty genuine right up to him seeming genuinely spooked at first, and later having this goofy grin of "I just stood up to him. Huh" on his face). There were some really impressive spots like the aforementioned four-man suplex and Extreme Tiger bending Facade over the security fence and flipping out to strike him (I thought the lady fan behind that section of fence was going to plotz when she saw 70 kilos of wrestler apparently falling right toward her). A lot of rope acrobatics, including a funny bit where Palace tried to follow suit, awkwardly hopping up one rope at a time. Also, more blood than usual between Rave's mouth, Palace apparently getting gashed a way by his goggles, and Gory spitting the stuff all over the place. I definitely enjoyed the show. Jamie did too (although, much to her chagrin, every time she started yelling, the place would go quiet, which resulted in her twice having a wrestler yell back at her). I don't know if I'll be able to attend the next two shows, but I'm hoping to be able to attend.

January 27, 2013

  • Thoughts on Payback

    I attended IWC Wrestling's Payback event tonight. The following are my thoughts:

    Overall, it was a very entertaining night. Once again, I got front-row seats, close enough to get high-fives from the wrestlers, for a very reasonable price of $20. The pageantry of the wrestlers continues to be good overall, although there was a bit more dead air tonight between matches. I don't know whether there were pacing problems or what. Also, it may seem a bit odd to mention, but two things jumped out at me. A) There seemed to be more vulgar language from the wrestlers. Not over the microphones, but on landings, I heard a lot of quiet "f*ck me" or "aw, sh*t" either during or after moves. I honestly couldn't tell if it was the wrestlers or their personae using the language. B) There was a lot of declaration of the rules during the match with the referees reminding wrestlers "no hair" or "get him out of the corner". I know that when I watched Winner Takes All, I was thoroughly confused over some aspects of what was going on, and posted as much on their Facebook page. I wonder whether they noticed similar confusion from other new fans and figured they'd clarify.

    We opened with a three-way between Alex Reynolds, Mike Rayne, and a debuting Shane Strickland. Honestly, I think this was one of the best matches of the night. All three athletes demonstrated considerable athletic skill, and the action was believable. The difficulties of handling three people at once was nicely covered by first Alex Reynolds waiting outside the ring with a shit-eating grin watching the others wear themselves out and later one person or another lying outside of the ring ostensibly recovering. There were some very impressive moves being pulled out, and I never found myself sitting there, waiting for the action to continue, or inwardly groaning as one wrestler tried to maneuver himself into the right place for his opponent to land their signature move. I look forward to seeing more from Shane.

    Second match was Blue Collar Slaughterhouse versus Jon Bolen and... some guy (Ed: Brian McDowell). Apparently HD Cannon was out with pneumonia (no idea whether it was a matter of the actual wrestler having pneumonia), so Bolen put out a call for a partner for the match, and some guy volunteered for it. I'm pulling the names off of the official cards, so I have no idea who the guy was. Prior to the guy showing up, Bolen had the microphone and made some comment about how he's been described as a man of few words, but he was trying to change. Honestly, I think fewer words is better for him. It was kind of painful with him completely failing to find good insults and obviously hoping the audience would yell out something he could use (eventually going with a yelled suggestion of "Brokeback Outhouse" for the other team). The match itself was a bit of a mess. Apparently BCS are seen as heels in the promotion and we were supposed to be rooting against them, but I got the impression that Jon Bolen was similarly a heel (or maybe they were aiming for antihero) and Bolen and whoever he was teamed up with basically spent the match beating on BCS in or out of the ring whether or not they were the valid partner in the ring. What really bugged me about that, is that last event, BCS impressed me with how they stayed entirely inside of the rules for tags, not entering the ring unless tagged in. This match, they deviated from it a bit, but were largely honorable. So... are we saying that following the rules is bad and should get you cheered against? This is an overall issue with this promotion in my opinion, albeit also with wrestling in general these days. If you're just going to shrug when teams break the rules about only one person in the ring at a time, why bother having the rules?

    I think it was between these two matches that former owner Norm Roberts and current owner Chuck Kuzniewski had their spot. At the last event, while Chuck was out tending to Facade, who'd been injured, Norm scheduled the match where McChesney got the IWC Indy title off of Logan Shulo and also announced that, due to a contract loophole, he now owned IWC. Things were mildly explained. Apparently, there was an option for Norm Roberts to buy at the end of three years, but only if Chuck consented to the buy, which he refused to do. Some grievances were aired, with Norm feeling that Chuck only ever contacted him when he wanted something done, Chuck countering that Norm always said to call when he needed help and that he's put his life into the company, Norm saying that Chuck cared too much about the bottom line and not enough about the fans... long and short of it, Chuck is still the owner, Norm extended the hand of friendship and had it slapped away, and after Norm said that he planned to keep showing up if he had to buy a ticket, Chuck said that's the only way that Norm would get in.

    I think it was the third match of the night which was W.A.R. (We Are Rockstars) versus Team Big League (currently composed of Jimmy Nutts and Joseph Brooks, Team Big League being sort of a stable, I think). It was a fun match. Jimmy Nutts lived up to his name and W.A.R. were their usual well-choreographed and acrobatic selfs. I think that Team Big League won near the end due to some tag team chicanery involving the off tag partner beating up a fallen opponent while the other guy distracted the ref. Honestly, W.A.R. wasn't much better about respecting the tag team rules. I did like how Aiden Vale starting things off with a nicely flashy backflip splash. It gave us an idea of what we were in for.

    I think it was after that that Elgin and John McChesney had their match for the IWC Indy Championship belt. Outside of the drama, it was a certainty that the belt wasn't going to change hands to someone who was in for a guest spot, but they had to find a way to show Elgin's prowess as a guest. Elgin did a good job of selling being the big guy who was largely unstoppable and John McChesney is, I think, at his best when he's selling hits. He makes getting thrown across the ring look good. Team Big League showed up for some good old-fashioned interference whenever it seemed like the referee was looking the other direction. Bit by bit, McChesney wore Elgin down. There was one odd bit where Elgin held McChesney up in a vertical suplex position as everyone counted (it went up to sixty-four, although Elgin and McChesney were visibly trembling holding it there. Funniest bit was seeing how much of the audience stumbled in their counting when it hit 30 or so. Insert a joke about Pennsylvania's educational system). A little bit of delay would add some drama, I suppose, but it seemed a bit gratuitous. Ultimately, McChesney smashed Elgin in the face with the belt, securing a DQ, which meant Elgin won, but the title didn't change hands.

    I want to say that there were only four matches in the first half, but I know that Andrew Palace had his match against Justin Idol... I may have gotten some matches out of order. Anyhow, it was an amusing match. Palace is an enjoyable heel. There was a lot of emphasis on hair, including Palace accusing Idol of being jealous of Palace's lustrous locks, while Idol is obviously going bald. Ultimately, while Palace prevailed for a decent amount of the match, he lost after one too many times of forgoing a chance for a pin to instead taunt his opponent, despite the exhortations from his partner and his valet to just finish the match. This was one of the cases where the end was kind of a foregone conclusion because Idol's storyline involves him having to maintain a certain win ratio to keep his contract, and losing this one would have meant they'd need to find a way to sell him still being there. One other thing about the match, Andrew Palace does the best ragdolling I have ever seen in a match. The guy must be hyper-flexible, because every time he got knocked around, his limbs fell into positions that looked actively painful. Honestly, it did a lot to sell his fights, because he looked like he was genuinely getting knocked silly.

    After intermission, Norm Roberts returned with ticket in hand, punctuating his movements with a whistle to emphasize that he was back as a paying customer. He wound up in a few different locations as he worked the crowd.

    The match between the returning Gambino Brothers and the new tag team of Kevin Haught and Colin Delaney was a disappointment for me. I first saw Delaney and Haught at the last event, and they came off as cheerful idealistic guys who were trying their best to win under the rules, and almost succeeded despite their opponents, The Founding Fathers, having to cheat to win. This match, they were... well, honestly, kind of pathetic. I'm kind of wondering if maybe too many people expressed sympathy for them last event, and the people scripting the matches wanted to try to keep anyone from thinking they were valid competitors. After a squash match, The Founding Fathers proved themselves to be sore about nearly getting beaten last time, and proceeded to curb stomp the fallen underdogs before sweeping out in a huff.

    Between the last match and the next one, there was an interview by Justin Plummer of Anthony Nese, who was annoyed at Plummer's attempts to ask anything substantive, and insisted that the only important thing was his upcoming match with Logan Shulo. Cheap heat was secured by Nese by him accusing Plummer and the IWC fans of being idiots for caring about anything but Nese's "perfect athlete physique". Also, Norm Roberts wound up on my side of the arena and I invited him to move from his second row seat to the empty first row seat beside me. He paid more attention to his cell phone than to the match, but was able to explain an aspect of the Castle/Fish match that I missed.

    Bobby Fish versus Dalton Castle was very amusing. Bobby Fish came off as a StopHavingFunGuys persona with him being annoyed with Castle's hyperactive {{Cloudcuckoolander}} entrance as "The Party Peacock". The match itself was probably my second-favorite of the night. Refreshingly, Fish was shown to have a point, as Dalton's somewhat spastic fighting style left him visibly winded by the end of the match, and Dalton frequently walked right into Fish's attacks. Ultimately, it all came down to a situation where Fish put Dalton in a figure-four leglock and they rolled over and... there was a three-count and Dalton was declared the winner. Norm explained to me that the leglock had failed and, despite all appearances, Fish had his shoulders pinned down in the process. Honestly, it was a confusing end to the match for me. Shortly after that, Norm left again, whistling to show his progress.

    The final match of the night was the Shulo/Nese one. It was good. Both wrestlers obviously knew their stuff and the moves transitioned pretty seamlessly with it looking believable that one side was prevailing at any given point or time. There was one hilariously mistimed maneuver where Nese clotheslined himself a good three inches before Shulo's arm, but overall, it was good. Near the end, the lights went out, a whistle was blown, the light went back up, and Facade Jason Gory leapt into the ring, spitting red mist into Shulo's eyes. Whistle, lights go out, then back up again. Nese secures a win while Shulo is blinded. Afterwards, Shulo confronts Norm, who's ringside (and no longer carrying the whistle...) and punches him out, and proceeds to assault Chuck as well, shouting that he's done "everything Chuck asked" and still he gets treated like this. I think that the intent is to paint Chuck as having engineered a lot more shady deals in the past. One minor oddity was that, when Nese was giving his speech about winning the title, there were three different people clustered around Shulo, splashing water on his face and dabbing away at his eyes, which makes me wonder if maybe something didn't quote go right, and Logan had been genuinely hurt (I also noticed that Shulo's eyes were funny after about halfway through the match, when he took a nasty hit on the head, so unless he's really good at acting injury, he might have been mildly concussed). The night ended with Norm stalking off, threatening to sue, and Shulo apparently ready to start a vendetta against Chuck and Norm.

    Overall, I enjoyed myself again. I probably looked a proper rube, cheering and shouting as if it were a real fight (my favorite moment of the night was where Joseph Brooks was executing some sort of weird rear bearhug attempt on one of the members of W.A.R., I shouted something about him trying to hug his opponent to death and Jimmy Nutts, in his corner, turns and says in a very aggrieved voice, "It's a very aggressive hug"), and there's a part of me that keeps thinking that the shenanigans people pull in the ring would have resulted in disqualification not so long ago if seen by the ref (I suspect it's not much different from the people who complain about the NBA changing the rules to allow a few steps without dribbling in preparation for a dunk), not to mention how cheating is no longer the province of heels. I'm planning on trying to attend the March 9th event, also in Elizabeth.

    Edit: The "new guy" in the Bolen / Blue Collar Slaughterhouse match was Brian McDowell who apparently debuted in July 2012.
    Further Edit: It was Jason Gory who punked Shulo, not Facade. I made a mistake based on the blonde dreadlocks and the hooded costume.

December 26, 2012

  • Back, sort of

    Och, that was a depressing entry to have as my most recent news. It all blew over, of course. We settled our dispute on how to furnish the house (in part by me realizing that I was quibbling over something that cost less than taking her out to dinner). Jamie and I got married in September. We still have our occasional disagreements, but we're learning how to argue with each other. It's a learning process. Christmas was great. My only real regret was that I didn't make it down to Ashland for Christmas, but I have two families now, and the agreement is to split Thanksgiving and Christmas between the two. This year, my side got Thanksgiving and her side got Christmas. Last year and next year are the reverse. That's all the news currently print to fit, I guess. I wish I got around to writing more on here, but time and focus are lacking. 

    Currently
    Scribblenauts Unlimited [Download]
    By DVG Warner Bros. Digital Distribution
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July 20, 2012

  • In Limbo

    So, my fiancee got mad at me and asked why I never remember things she tells me. I responded as straightforwardly, saying that I genuinely have a very poor memory for spoken conversations and that it's not in the least personal, just that I have difficulty remembering things if I haven't written them down myself, particularly when they're mentioned offhand without any notice drawn to them. I've tried to change that in the past -- I'm actually trained in a number of mnemonic techniques for memorizing things when I put a conscious effort into it -- but after 32 years of being like this, I don't know that there can be a change. After I withdrew from a conversation that was getting very rancorous, I got a message saying that she needs to rethink things.

    I hope that I don't lose her over something that I have no control over, particularly something I thought she was fully aware of. I guess I'll find out soon.

July 15, 2012

  • Review - Martial Arts: Capoeira

      Currently
    Martial Arts: Capoeira Fighters
    By Graffiti Entertainment, Inc.
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    Martial Arts: Capoeira is a 2011 sports/action game by Just A Game. Despite the claims on their website, it's not the first Capoeira PC game (there's been three iterations of the Flash game Capoeira Fighter and there was also Capoeira Legends. That said, I think this is the game that's come the closest to reproducing the style of Capoeira. That said, it still falls short.

    First off, the flow of the movements is good, and the actions are well-animated. The characters are interesting story-wise and differentiate nicely. The game mechanics... I'm kind of up in the air on that. The controls are stiff and mildly unresponsive. Also, the game only accepts keyboard input, but also requires being able to press up to three keys at the same time, something the keyboard works badly for (for historical reasons and reasons of hardware limitations). I'll explicitly state that because of my difficulties with the controls, I've gotten almost nowhere in the game... which means I can't really talk much about the career mode or the story mode. On a side note, the game eschews a traditional health bar in favor of determining the winner by a combination of landing the attacks, dodging one's opponents, and avoiding unnecessary movements.

    And, of course, as with every fighting-game implementation, including Capoeira Legends, which claims to be tracing the history of Capoeira, they take a style that's about demonstrating ability as much through artfully just missing one's opponent while showing off one's skill and turn it into a game about beating the other person up. *wry grin* You really can't escape it, I suppose. It's like trying to make a game on philosophy debate... sooner or later, you have to introduce a mechanic for determining who won, and combat is an easy way to solve it. The aforementioned avoidance of a traditional health bar does help a bit. And frankly, Capoeira is sometimes practiced as an actual martial art complete with victory being determined by beating down the other guy. Lastly, the game does portray the bouts as violent street fights. That said, it still feels a bit odd.

    Ultimately, the game is an excellent attempt. It's not going to become a best-seller I suspect, but I hope that it makes back its budget at the least. I gave it a solid B, possibly toward B-.

November 25, 2011

  • Like An Unexpected Song That Only I Remembered

    So, strange dream last night. Yeah, yeah, I know. That's the only thing I seem to post about on here. This one started semi-normally, involved me stuck in a building where some catastrophe was happening (kind of sad that that's normal in my dreams). As I was running down a set of steps to save a researcher, I realized that I'd done this all before, actually two nights ago in my dreams. As I opened the door, the researcher staggered out of the blood-streaked room and stammered words of thanks before freezing in place, their face going blank, and then walking back into the room and as soon as they stepped behind the door, I knew they were gone, vanished from the world, but would appear later, talking as if we'd continued our escape together. The world was broken and I broke it, for the sake of a song.

    It was such a minor thing, a song by Matthews (I vaguely remember there being more to the name. Maybe it was that Dave Matthews band?), part of the Christmas music of the season. It was 99% extant, but 1% corrupt and the universe was trying to fix the damage by making it disappear as if it had never been. Somehow, I'd cottoned to it and so I'd begun taking my 99% complete file of the song and archiving it so that it would survive the purge. In doing so, the world's past became fragmented in four directions from the time of the file's corruptions and in each of these splinter timelines, I would again go through the same set of events, trying something slightly different in a vain attempt to save the song. In the dream, I knew that I had done this hundreds of times, sometimes having to evade authorities seeking to free the world from this deadlock by hunting me down and preventing me from sending the song back. Almost every time, I evaded them due to my prior knowledge of incarnations of the world. Not always.

    Strangest part of this all? I didn't even like the song, felt that it was banal and overplayed, but it was a song and I felt that the loss of even that song was a loss of our humanity and so I had to bend all of my efforts to save it.

August 22, 2011

  • Deadgirl is uncomfortable to watch

    So I ran into this movie, Deadgirl. I think IMDB recommended it based on another movie I was watching. The description sounded interesting, "Two high school boys discover an imprisoned woman in an abandoned mental asylum who cannot die." I was thinking in terms of the woman having been trapped there and in the process of getting her free, they learn something from her immortal perspective, something like that. Or, at least, an enjoyable little zombie flick as they get stalked through the sanitarium. But no, the movie is essentially about having the strength to make moral choices. Or perhaps the tendency of people to make excuses to not make moral choices. And, fair warning to anyone planning to watch it and for whom this is a trigger issue, a major aspect of this involves rape.

    Yes, when the two boys find a naked woman chained up, the reaction of one of them is to repeatedly rape the zombie, and he later starts selling chances to his friends. Meanwhile, the other guy wrestles with the decision of whether to try to turn in his buddy, especially since a) the whole "not actually alive" thing leaves him unsure of whether to treat the woman as a person rather than as an object, b) this is his friend since childhood, and c) he's got his own curiosities about sex and the idea of having an outlet to test the waters is more of a temptation than he'd like. It's actually a very interesting movie. It's also very uncomfortable for me to watch.