Sunday, June 28, 2009

Darkness falls across the land

Not even Dr. Jekyll was as polarizing a figure as Michael Jackson.

On the one hand, there's the King of Pop. The man responsible for the Moonwalk, the best music videos ever made, the Thriller album... the list goes on. But on the other... a sociopath, a pedophile, one really fucked up dude.

And with the passing of Jackson, I can't seem to figure out which one to remember.

I mean, you can't ignore the music. The man made "Billie Jean" for fuck's sake, one of the best songs ever recorded. He's one of those artists that inspired "I remember where I was when..." moments. I'm sure there are millions who remember where they were when the Moonwalk debuted.

On a personal level, I remember the hype around his Super Bowl halftime performance. I was over my friend Drew's house. Me, him, his parents, my mother, his sister and other assorted family, everyone glued to the TV. I remember being at my grandparents when the "Black or White" video premiered. I remember my prom, during a down period, resting at the table. Then, the DJ threw on "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough" and EVERYBODY hit the dance floor.

The man reached a rare level that only he, Elvis and The Beatles have achieved. They are beyond musical icons, beyond celebrities. They are pseudo-deities. Their fans didn't just like them, they worshiped them.

Musically, he revolutionized pop. Every pop musician since MJ has emulated his sound, his style and his every dance move. They aren't just influenced by him, they're trying to be him.

But, but, BUT. There's more to him than his music. There's the freak show personal life. His lack of a childhood, the tabloids, the weird marriage to Lisa Marie Presley, and of course the child molestation. And you can't ignore that. The guy had problems. Maybe they came from a lost innocence, maybe he never had any innocence, or maybe he was just plain wired wrong.

Now I sit and watch the media coverage of his death, the tributes, and I see no mention of these issues. None. And it baffles me. Yes, we can celebrate his music, but we can't ignore his dark side, we just can't.

Sure, I want to ignore it all. When his songs come on my iPod/iTunes I will sing along. When they come on in a bar, I will drunkenly dance. But when I think about MJ, I won't be able to deny the bad. And neither should anyone else.

So I'll remember both sides. After all, you can't have Dr. Jekyll without Mr. Hyde.

Weekend Six-Pack
Uncle Tupelo - Still Feel Gone
Whiskeytown - Stranger's Almanac
Drive-By Truckers - Southern Rock Opera Act I & Act II
Led Zeppelin - Led Zeppelin
Steve Earle - Copperhead Road

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Oh, some stuff

USA! USA! USA!
US Soccer shocked the world on Wednesday, upsetting #1 ranked Spain in the Confederations Cup semifinal, 2-0. In doing so, the Yanks ending Spain's 15-game winning streak, as well as their 35-game unbeaten streak. Suffice to say, maybe the biggest win in US Soccer history. Hopefully, they can keep the momentum going and win the Cup, then have a strong showing in next year's World Cup.

This looks cool


Jimmy Page, The Edge and Jack White. Yep, I'm there.

Triumph versus Bonnaroo


Hehe, hippies.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

This is the season, Bravos

This is it for the Braves. The next two weeks are the season. A winning record and the playoff hopes are still alive. Anything else and we can start planning October vacations and looking forward to football season.

Last night, the Bravos lost the first in a three-game set at Cincinnati. After that we travel to Boston for a weekend series. Then we come home for a makeup game with the Cubs, three against the Yankees, three against Boston and finish things up with three against Philly.

Counting last night, that's a 16 game stretch that makes or breaks the season. We're already 0-1. Do I think the Braves have what it takes? Yes and no. The starting pitching is there, for sure. The bullpen is there on most days. The role players and hitters are there. What's not there, however, is the biggest obstacle. A power hitter that gets people home. Chipper and Brian McCann can't do it all by themselves. They need someone in-between them to really make them a deadly 3-4-5 combo. Jeff Francoeur doesn't have it. Whether it's a trade or whatever, the front office needs to find a piece to fill the hole in the Braves lineup.

Point is, come the end of the night on Thursday, July 2nd, we'll know if the Braves will be in contention come September.

WWE getting it together

This past Monday, WWE had it's highly advertised three-hour Raw special. With four title matches, it had potential to be the show to really kick start an upswing for WWE programming. It did not disappoint.

On the Raw brand, Randy Orton recaptured the WWE Title in a fatal four-way match over Big Show, Triple H and John Cena. It was then announced he and Triple H would have a Last Man Standing match on next week's commercial free Raw (another awesome move by the WWE) for the WWE Title, and the two would also square off at The Bash on June 28th.

In the 10-man battle royal that Triple H won to earn the title shot, Kofi Kingston had a strong showing as the US Champion, which is also good for the mid-card.

And, in what seems like a miracle, creative is actually pushing a tag team title match. At The Bash, the Unified Tag Team Champs Carlito and Primo Colon will defend the belts against Priceless.

On eCW, the battle for the silver belt is a four way affair between champ Tommy Dreamer, Christian, Jack Swagger and a returning Finlay (who appears to either be turning heel or at least moving to tweener status -- either way he's better without Hornswaggle).

But, the bigger development on eCW is the emergence and push of the Hart Dynasty -- Tyson Kidd, David Hart Smith and Natalya Neidhart. Of course, all three were trained in the infamous Hart Dungeon. Smith is the son of British Bulldog Davey Boy Smith, and Natalya is the daughter of Jim "The Anvil" Neidhart. I'm excited for this stable, really excited.

On Smackdown, the ongoing Intercontinental Title feud between champ Chris Jericho and Rey Mysterio is great television, and exactly what a wrestling feud should be. Fans should slobber over this, because we're watching one of the best heels ever in Jericho.

In the World Heavyweight Title picture, the champ CM Punk is growing on me. His new character fascinates me, it's really old school. He just cares about winning the title, period. He doesn't care if you love him or hate him. He doesn't want allies and he's not out to make enemies. He's just there to wrestle. Excellent tweener, although I feel like he'll be a full-fledged heel sooner or later. Of course, Edge and Jeff Hardy are there in the picture as well.

My only problem is that creative doesn't seem to know what to do with guys like John Morrison, Shelton Benjamin, R-Truth and Dolph Ziggler. They're all great mid-carders (Morrison and Benjamin have main event potential as well), but with the Jericho/Mysterio feud taking up the IC Title picture, creative seems at a lost on how to book those guys. Morrison and Benjamin started a feud, but it hasn't gained any steam lately. And where are Mike Knox and Kane?

Monday, June 08, 2009

A Raw review, for you

I got a Monday night off, so I figured I'd do a little WWE Raw reviewing.

Now, I'm gonna recap the show, then add my conclusive thoughts at the end.

We open with new champ Batista, who won the title from Randy Orton last night in what I hear was a horribly boring match. He yammers on about destroying Legacy, Orton interrupts, Legacy comes out and beats the shit out of Batista, and does some serious damage to his arm. Orton walks out with the belt as Batista gets taken to an ambulance with a "serious arm injury."

Strong opening, definitely leads to some intrigue as to where they're going with the show.

Next up was a very solid match between US Champ Kofi Kingston and William Regal. I friggin' love Regal, incredible ring worker, and solid on the mic. Good match overall, with Kingston winning. Good result, because lately they've made a habit of making "underdog" champs, where they get squashed in non-title matches, but win their title matches. I hate that. Unless you're building an angle for a new contender, the champ should go over.

There's lots of potential for a strong mid-card on Raw. Kingston as the top mid-carder with the US Title, then followed by guys like Chavo Guerrero, Santino Marella (should they ever put him back in serious matches), Regal, Matt Hardy and The Miz.

Next there's a backstage segment where Orton proclaims he's invoking his rematch clause, regardless of Batista's condition.

Boring Diva match next, which means I spent the five or so minutes going to the kitchen, going to the bathroom, checking the Braves game, and imagining what the Divas involved (Maryse, Kelly Kelly, and Mickie James on commentary) look like naked.

Raw GM Vickie Guerrero confirms what Orton said, saying that if Batista can't answer a ten-count, Orton will be awarded the title. Then says she has a huge announcement coming up. Oh dear lord.

Maryse and The Miz have a segment backstage. Miz plays the douche bag, Maryse talks in French and looks damn sexy. Next.

Next there's a six-man tag match between Team Wasted Talent (Goldust, Santino and Festus) and Team THERE SHOULD BE A FUCKING CRUISERWEIGHT DIVISION YOU FUCKSTICK VINCE MCMAHON! (The Brian Kendrick, Chavo and Jamie Noble). Some shit happens, I die a little inside watch TBK and Chavo waste away in stupid storylines, and Hornswaggle somehow continues to still get TV time.

John Cena vs. The Miz is up next... wait, really? We're actually gonna get this? Oh, nope, we're not. Big Show comes out and beats the ever living shit out of Cena, then Miz gets a chair and knocks Show around and lays a few good ones on a beaten Cena. Hmm, interesting.

MVP vs. Matt Hardy follows, and it's about as decent a match as it could be with Hardy's hand in a cast. MVP continues his push on the mic beforehand, saying he deserves to be in a title match next week on the "3 For All" three-hour special Raw -- where every brand's title will be defended. Cool.

After that Vickie comes out and talks about some shit in her annoying voice. Then, in perhaps the best thing creative has done in a decade, she QUITS. This receives the biggest pop all night, naturally. Now Edge's music hits, and out comes the Rated-R Superstar. He talks about his request for divorce at the PPV last night, then follows it up by telling Vickie he only married her for power, blah blah. He reinforces his request for a divorce, Vickie shrieks.

Maybe they're actually gonna turn Edge face now. I mean, Edge dropped the belt to Jeff Hardy last night, who then lost it to CM Punk after Punk cashed in the Money in the Bank. Punk could go to his heel character, the straight-edge-holier-than-thou guy. He could have a feud with Hardy, demeaning his shady past, then feud with Edge -- because it's fucking obvious: Rated R vs. Straight Edge. Here's hoping Smackdown goes that route.

Back to Raw. Cena is interviewed backstage, says some shit about Show and Miz. Whatever.

Next is a tag team match. Wait. Seriously? Holy fuck. The Unified Champs, The Colons, take on Priceless. If Priceless wins, they get a title shot. Excellent, finally. Great match between the two immensely talented teams, with Priceless winning after DiBiase hits the Dream Street (good move, great name for a finisher) on Carlito. Priceless will get a title shot.

Out comes Orton for the alleged match with Batista for the strap. He talks some shit on the mic, then the bell rings and the ten-count begins for Batista. They get up to nine when an ambulance is shown returning on the screen. The ref halts the count, saying Batista has returned. Back to the screen, and it ain't the Animal, it's The Game! Triple H comes out, sledgehammer in tow, beats DiBiase and Rhodes on the ramp, then heads towards Orton in the ring. Trips drops the sledgehammer, and gets in the ring and tangles with Orton. They beat the crap outta each other, with HHH eventually getting the upper hand. Show ends when HHH pedigrees Orton on a chair in the ring.

Solid show, some good matches and three big storylines (Batista injury, Vickie quitting, HHH return).

So, I guess that means the WWE Title is vacated? Or technically Batista is still champ? Well, anyway, Batista is about to take time off for a triceps injury. Thing is, they knew this before the PPV. So why the fuck did they put the belt on Batista knowing they were just going to take it off? Dumb.

Randy Orton is getting the shaft. Remember when he won the Rumble and started Legacy? He was a driving force, compelled to win the title and fulfill his destiny. Then Wrestlemania came around and despite the excellent build-up, HHH won anyway, only to have Orton take the title the next month in a stupid six-man tag. Orton always gets squashed by faces, and it's retarded. Why can't he just beat them and hold the title? Why can't this be the Age of Orton, with all the faces chasing him? It's dumb booking, plain and simple.

Orton and Legacy need to have a dominant period on Raw. Have Orton get the belt, have Priceless get the tag team belts. Have them dominate. That way, when the right time comes for a face to take the titles, it will go over in a big, big way. Yes, Orton need to take heel shortcuts every now and then. But his build up to Mania was flawless, and has sadly been thwarted since then.

On the return of HHH... personally, I want him to turn heel again. He is such a sensational heel. However, it doesn't work right now. Orton is the top heel, and he ain't turning face anytime soon. Batista just got injured, so he's going away. Cena is involved with Big Show and Miz. HBK is still on break (for now). HHH needs to be the top face on Raw. All the more reason Orton should've kept his title and the Age of Orton needs to happen.

OR... the new GM (dream wish: the return of Eric Bischoff. Won't happen, sadly, and I honestly don't know who's gonna come in as Raw GM) vacates the title. They then announce a 8-man tournament for the WWE Title. Now, the next PPV is the Great American Bash on June 28th. That means you can have the four first round mathces next week, then the two semifinal matches the following Monday, then the WWE Title match at the Bash.

Participants? Orton, HHH, Cena, Show, HBK (a big return for next week), MVP (continuing his main-event push), Miz (to further the angle with Cena), and a wild card like Matt Hardy or William Regal. Personally, I'd (again) want to put the Age of Orton into full effect. Or, it would be nice for HBK to get one more title reign in his career.

Unfortunately, this seems too logical for WWE creative, and the strap will likely end up on HHH before long. Rinse and repeat.

Other WWE notes:

It sucks that Ken Kennedy was released, but he really does need to work on keeping himself safe and keeping others safe. He'll go to TNA, hopefully sharpen his skills (and maybe even boost that company), then come back around to WWE down the road.

Just read that Umaga was also released. No idea why, this one is outta left field. Granted, he ain't been the same without Armando Estrada (long lost is the art of the manager). I'm sure he'll end up in TNA too.

I've never bought a WWE DVD, but I have a feeling I'm going to start with the new Macho Man set coming out. I was a big Macho Man fan growing up, and it should be awesome nostalgia.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Squirrel!

Go see Up, do it. Preferably in 3-D if you can. Pixar did it again, it's just amazing how they churn out great film after great film.

Lots of talk about the Braves' dealings this week -- and possible future deals.

Weekend 6-Pack:
Alabama - Live
The Black Crowes - By Your Side
Lynyrd Skynyrd - Second Helping
Drive-By Truckers - A Blessing and a Curse
Shooter Jennings - Electric Rodeo
Waylon Jennings - Ultimate Waylon Jennings

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Brave Day

Well, it's the end of an era in Atlanta (again). The Braves released Tom Glavine today, in a shocking move. GM Frank Wren said the move was based on performance, and that the team felt going younger was a better move. They then enforced that motive by finally announcing they will be calling up uber-prospect Tommy Hanson on Saturday to start against the Brewers.

But, they weren't done there. The Bravos then traded three minor leaguers to the Pirates for CF Nate McLouth. This move comes a day after they sent Jordan Schafer down to Triple-A Gwinnette.

Now, these moves say two things. First, they say that the Braves are focused on staying in the playoff race this year, and they don't want to fall too far behind before making a move. Second, it says they are also keeping an eye on the future. Glavine is a legend, and will always have a place in Atlanta Braves history. But, he's been injury plagued lately, and you can only keep Hanson down for so long.

I like the move for McLouth. We desperately need something to happen in the outfield. McLouth isn't exactly tearing it up at a historic level (.256 AVG/9 HR/ 34 RBI/ .819 OPS), but it's a shake up. Schafer started hot, but has since gone ice cold (.204/2/8/.600), Garret Anderson has been sub-par (.261/2/16/.662 in 34 games), Jeff Franceour is up and down (.251/4/25/.632), and Matt Diaz has been average at best (.274/2/15/.773 in 32 games). Hopefully we didn't give up too much for him.

Now we just have to hope it all works out.