Friday, February 28, 2014

Kevin Steen: Hell Rising Review

Shoot interviews are a hard sell for me.  I think the reason my eyes tend to glaze over when I hear shoot interview is that most wrestlers are not necessarily interesting enough to carry off talking for an entire hour or longer.  Yet, at the same time, Legends of Wrestling, which consists of Gene Okerlund leading four legends like Dusty Rhodes, Michael Hayes, Pat Patterson and Mick Foley talking about the business is one of the greatest television shows I have ever watched.  I realize that Legends of Wrestling is superior to the shoot interview in that the men sitting on the panel are both some of the most knowledgeable and best talkers in the history of the industry and they get to play off one another.

However, at the ROH show last week, I persuaded myself to purchase Kevin Steen: Hell Rising.  This particular shoot interview is produced by ROH and is best known for being pulled off the market, as Kevin Steen tries not to, but absolutely destroys Jim Cornette, which likely led to those same Louisville lawyers portrayed on the DVD to ask for an injunction on selling the product. 

As the price skyrocketed, I assumed I would never break down and purchase it, which is kind of the same way I feel about Playboy Gary Hart: My Life in Wrestling.  Both Steen and Hart are two of my favorite talkers in wrestling history and while the Kevin Steen shoot was reasonably priced, I just couldn't spend $125 on a book.  But $20 at a ROH show is a much easier price to pay.  Plus, it contains 12 Kevin Steen matches, 11 of which I've never seen before.

Somewhere around Kevin Steen being removed ROH, I lost interest in the product.  I was busier with life and Kevin Steen is one of the biggest draws for me in wrestling.  Heck, I own at least three Kevin Steen T-Shirts, including one in the wrong size, because that's what Kevin had with him that day and I wanted to show my appreciation for his hard work and willingness to drive to New Jersey after Superstorm Sandy, to work Sami Callihan in a building entirely lit by generators.  Even with Kevin back, ROH is still a hard sell for me, because it isn't the local product I learned to love, but something different.

Watching Hell Rising made me think of all of these things.  It also made me think about Kevin Steen.  It was almost painful to watch him talk about not being involved in Ring of Honor.  You could hear the hurt in his voice and the sadness in his face.  His comments to Jim Cornette, which to his credit, he did continually try to temper with praise about what Cornette could bring to a promotion, seemed to have been born from a place of hurt, rather than anger. 

There were large sections of soul searching, where he seemed to be asking why Cornette couldn't appreciate him or his talents, which I always thought was ridiculous, as a man who thought the Dirty White Boy could draw money would certainly see that Steen had the talent to main event anything he was involved with.  But like all of us, Cornette had his favorites and they were more like Richards, Strong and Hero, who aside from Hero being the new king of skinnyfat, look nothing like Kevin Steen. 

What I enjoyed most about the interview was Steen's passion.  He makes you believe he is always speaking from his heart and that he cares about the industry.  Watching someone live their dream and tell us that story is almost always going to be great.  Steen's matches are cut from the same cloth.  He leaves everything in the ring and tells his stories from the heart, which gives him a psychology that is different from most wrestlers and makes him a credible storyteller. 

With the rumors that Steen is getting a WWE tryout becoming live today, it makes me wonder whether he will make it.  He has the talent to work the microphone with any crowd and tremendous charisma.  But I worry his bullying style of offense might not work in the WWE.  I mean, the Great Khali is not taking a sleeper suplex, mostly because I have grave doubts about his ability to jump, but I want to see him get the chance.  I mean, watching Kevin Steen perform his craft in front of small crowds, living by his own rules, wrestling matches the way he wants to are great for a fan like myself, but unselfishly, I want to see someone who has entertained me for the last seven years, nearly decapitated me with a ladder in Philadelphia (true story, Steen was running out for his match with Jay Briscoe at Death Before Dishonor V Night 2, nearly hit flush in the head with a ladder, because I was sitting on the entrance ramp.  Not his fault, but mine.), really get his shot to live his dream and be forever captured on the WWE Network, where I don't always have to dig out a DVD to watch one of the best workers in the business today.

So, if you like shoot interviews or Kevin Steen, you should buy this set before it goes away again.  If not, it is really your loss. 

Wednesday, February 26, 2014


Busying yourself with projects is never easy.  Trying to fill these countable hours with things to do is harder than I remember.  I read a few books, but find my mind is often distracted after an hour or so.   I still have a fairly large back catalog of DVDs to watch, but I seldom find one that I actually want to watch.  The same goes for my video games.  Even the books, I'm fairly certain I could find a minimum of 100 books in my one bedroom apartment which I've either never started or started and cast aside.  I never really developed any other hobbies as it were.  There isn't something that I do with people on a regular basis which gives my life meaning and interaction.  Beyond this, if I own one CD, I own 600, since in my youth that was my collection du jour.  I even collected baseball cards for a while, as my blog roll will attest. 

Looking around my apartment, surrounded by my choices, my decisions, my accumulation, it makes me wonder if I lived my life right.  Were I a different person, I would have cultivated different interest, moved away from accumulating objects and instead accumulated memories and friendships.  I think knowing my life is in such a different phase than everyone else I know makes it harder.  Most people I know are locked into security, stability and family, while I drift toward freedom, which is a fairly antithetical way to move freedom as a core value in your life, but I'm finding it is possible.

And there are good days, but even those are empty and somewhat hollow.  Being ill at ease with new people and groups of strangers, I can go to an event, sit or stand amidst a sea of humanity I have something in common with, but no connection, enjoy the event and go home.  There is a part of me which is alright with this, but the remainder of me wonders if I have set myself up to spend the rest of my days, surrounded only by my accumulated possessions and just building a set of memories, alone, apart from everyone else. 

For a long period of my life, I would have assumed it would all shake out that way, but then life changed and I moved in a different direction.  But the price of being the caged bird was one I could no longer bear or was able to pay, so I sit here, in my apartment surrounded by my choices, which ended up being an accumulation of items which seldom, if ever, bring me the happiness I always thought they would. 

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

True Detective

I was very keen on watching True Detective when it was first announced.  However, knowing it was on demand, I made a slow start, taking a couple of times to watch the first episode, then taking a detour to read about half of the King in Yellow, before finally settling down the last day or two in order to catch up. 

Finishing up the six episodes, I was not surprised by how great Woody Harrelson was in the show.  In fact, it was to be expected, since Woody Harrelson is a tremendous actor.  However, I was completely surprised by how much Matthew McConaughey.  I mean he is Wooderson from Dazed and Confused, which is a great role in a great movie, but I've always associated him with fluff movies and without going to IMDB, I don't think I could name another movie he was in other than Magic Mike.  But here he is, stealing scenes, especially dark scenes at that and really is the center of a truly great show.

It seems I missed the boat on realizing he could act, but life has often taught me that I will miss the boat on these things, since I tend to be not hooked into popular culture.  But I remain surprised, pleasantly so and hate to say cannot wait to see how this whole series ends. 

Monday, February 24, 2014

Christmas Morning Or the WWE Network Release

Since I knew the date, I anxiously awaited the release of the WWE Network for us regular consumers.  Providing me with over 1,000 hours of wrestling content to start and with the knowledge of the libraries they have purchased over the years, the WWE Network is the best possible on demand network for a wrestling junkie.  Plus, you get every pay per view going forward, which I would seldom order for $60, but would definitely pay $10 per month if I was able to watch Chi-Town Rumble '89 or a random episode of World Class Championship Wrestling from 1983, I can.  Heck, I used to pay that for 40 random hours of WWE content on WWE Classics on Demand.

So, I woke up this morning and managed to just beat the rush at 9 AM and sign up ahead of most people.  Once logged in, I managed to watch half an episode WCCW this morning, which included the Fabulous Freebirds and Bugsy McGraw, but sadly, I've yet to finish after 10 hours, since it basically played the Bugsy McGraw match in stop motion, due to the lag.  I also gave the Bunkhouse Brawl from 1988 a shot this afternoon, but received the stop-start nature of the programming.

With the on-demand not working well, I watched the live network programming stream, which worked very well, with only some small hitches where the program would replay the last three seconds again on occasion.  I was able to watch the best of NXT, including the Cesaro/Zayn match for a second time and Wrestlemania 1, which was not as good as you remember it.  I also saw an awesome promo from 1990 involving Playboy Buddy Rose, a once fit, but eventually fat wrestler,  pouring Blow-Away fat melting powder on himself, going from 270 pounds to 217 pounds while just pouring this powder on himself and having a fan blow it away. 

The impressive strength of the network, aside from the breadth of content is the picture quality.  I suspect some of the problem with the network today was streaming so much hi-definition content.  Even older matches looked sharp, probably sharper than they did 30 years ago when they were originally shown, since the digitization was excellent on the content I was able to watch.  Considering it is the first day of the first internet and on-demand network, this really has to be considered a success, even though I wasn't able to watch all of the 1989 WCW pay-per-views like I wanted to all day, but life is what it is and accepting realistic parameters is important. 

Sunday, February 23, 2014

All Ages: The Toasters at 35

Last night, I saw the Toasters live in concert for the first time since the weekend before 9/11, when they played the Wetlands with the Scofflaws.  For someone who enjoys ska as much as I do and thinks the Toasters are a better live than studio band, it is quite surprising that I hadn't seen them in nearly 12 and a half years. 

Fortunately, the Toasters still tour and last night performed at the Stanhope House with a bunch of local ska bands.  In my youth, I would show up to every show when the music started, even if I had no desire to see all of the bands.  It was the principle of getting my money's worth.  Fortunately, as I've aged, I learned that time is more valuable than money and left at 7 PM for a 7 PM start time, knowing I had an hour drive ahead of me.  Of course, the Stanhope House is not the easiest place to find, as it is along the only road off 183 without a stoplight, leading me to drive past the street a conservative six or so times.  I finally arrived at 8:30, bought a ticket and walked inside.

This is where it hit me.  I'm at an all ages show and unlike in my youth where I loved all ages shows, there is a certain moment where as an adult, an all ages show, where I feel somewhat out of place.  The center of the room is dominated by the pit, filled with people half my age and I did have the darnedest time finding the bar, which was through the pit.  Also, the ceilings at the Stanhope House are eight feet tall, which is fairly low for an arena for watching shows, but a good band can project beyond this issue.  However, I was more committed to seeing the Toasters and living life, so this awkwardness passed in about five seconds. 

There was a local band on stage, who can best be described as a generic ska band, complete with the fat kid playing some kind of horn wearing a Real Big Fish shirt.  In fact, all of the opening acts can be summed up as the generic local ska bands.  They are all influenced by Real Big Fish or Less Than Jake, they play a set full of covers, which last night included a Real Big Fish cover, Astro Zombies by the Mistfits and a Less Than Jake cover.  It could've been a New Jersey ska show from 15 years ago without changing a thing.  Which is always the problem with ska, it's pretty easy to get a few friends together from high school band, but for ever opening act I've seen at a show like this which was great, (Tri-State Conspiracy, who sadly broke up last year), I've seen a hundred bands that were interchangeable. 

But that's the reality of a ska show, most of the youth were happy, since they likely knew someone in one of the bands and there was a fairly decent crowd of 250 people at the show.  It was nice to see Bucket working his merchandise table.  I ended up buying Live at CBGB's and the two-disc  European version of Live in London, which Bucket pointed out with great importance comes with a poster that my twenty-year old self would have enjoyed.  Being 35, I was just happy to get Decision at Midnight live on a new CD, but it is important to support the acts you want to see again. 

The Toasters put on a great performance.  They started with a song I wasn't familiar with, but quickly moving into Shocker and I'm Running Right Through the World got the crowd going.  What's interesting is the Toasters as a band is basically Bucket and a revolving cast of musicians.  In fact, last night, he was probably performing with a different band than he played with on Friday night.  But the songs remained timeless and the circle pit was filled with people skanking. 

I won't lie, when they played Weekend in LA, my arm was propelling my fist toward the ceiling on the double chorus of LA like most of the crowd, which is one of those life-affirming things you do at the show.  I did skip the circle pit, which I swore off after almost getting knocked down by a cyclone of humanity seeing Pennywise at the Warped Tour a forever ago. 

I hope to see the Toasters again this year, as I attempt to see 10 shows in a year, which would be the most for me since my college days, but with one down, I'm super excited to keep going to shows, since they really are full of energy and passion, which are often missing from most events in our lives. 

Saturday, February 22, 2014

ROH 12th Anniversary Show Review

Last night, I drove to Philadelphia for my second anniversary independent wrestling show of the month.  This time, I drove to the Ring of Honor 12th Anniversary show for my thirty-seventh Ring of Honor live show.  At one point in my life, I was a huge Ring of Honor fan starting with the Battle of the Icons back in 2007, but over the years my interest in the product waned, starting with the removal of Gabe Sapolsky as the booker and with the move from a local to national promotion.  Oh, and Killer Instinct in 2012 actually swore me off going to a Ring of Honor show ever again after serving up a 35 minute, no contest between Kevin Steen and Jay Lethal, where the live audience did not know what was happening or if there was a finish, which followed a lackluster show.  It took the knowledge that Adam Cole, Kevin Steen and Michael Elgin were going to be wrestling three matches in one night to get me to go back and watch anything ROH. 

But with Adam Cole defending the title against Chris Hero and having seen their match in PWG from two months ago, I convinced myself to give a live Ring of Honor show another go.  Arriving at the Armory in Philadelphia, I was surprised by the turnout, as there was no parking left at 7:40, requiring those who arrived timely to find their own place to park outside the safety of the arena.  I don't think anyone thought it would be a super no vacancy house of 1,200, but AJ Styles return tour is putting fans in the seats. 

I finally get to the building, where ROH COO Joe Koff was handling the will call window and hands me my ticket.  Having worked in a small business, I always appreciate the wearing of many hats and the need to roll up your sleeves and get your hands dirty for the sake of the job, regardless of your job title and power.  Arriving just ahead of the dark match, I saw Amasis in ROH for the second time, since the Osirian Portal wrestled Steen and Generico in 2008, which I was there for.  Amasis was good, but Caprice Coleman did little for me in this match.

The first half of the main show was, to be polite, rough.  I thought the Tomasso Ciampa and Hanson match was very good, with Hanson showing the potential to be a star with a great mix of surprising athleticism, a good look and some real wrestling hoss skills.  Other highlights include the Decade of Roderick Strong, Jimmy Jacobs and BJ Whitmer using jazz hands as their team signal and Silas Young's mustache and 80s vibe, though I don't get why everyone loves Generic Indy Guy 2, Matt Taven or why anyone thinks Jimmy Jacobs should throw an effective spear against anyone larger than a toddler.  Sadly, Matt Hardy didn't make the show, forcing Michael Elgin to "wrestle" Raymond Rowe, who was clearly not ready for such a match, looking green and almost fighting Elgin to entertain.  Elgin did cut a really good old school promo trying to get Rowe over before the match and was surprised to find myself excited before watching Rowe sandbag without intent for about 10 minutes. 

With intermission, I went over to the lackluster ROH merchandise table.  CZW does it right with a selection of vendors, but ROH has their own table, which consisted of a selection of mediocre T-Shirts (number of Michael Bennett shirts in the audience: 2, number of Decade shirts in the audience: 1) and a limited selection of DVDs.  Amazingly, I only made one purchase, which is the Hell Rising Kevin Steen shoot, where I cannot wait to watch him tear apart Jim Cornette for 45 minutes, though I plan to pass on the Jay Lethal match from Killer Instinct. 

After intermission, the show really picked up with three great matches and an enjoyable squash of Cliff Compton by Kevin Steen, though the match did take about 18 minutes and was the shortest match of the second half.  Honestly, the biggest weakness in almost any ROH show is the length.  The Anniversary show went about 4 hours and would not be surprised if you timed the matches and found there were at least 5 and possibly 6 twenty minute matches.  Ring of Honor has a hard time giving us a great 12 minute match, for the thought we were missing something.  In fact, most of the matches, aside from Cole/Hero and Styles/Lethal could have stood to be a little shorter. 

The tag team match between ReDragon and Adrenaline Rush was very good.  Watching it, I thought, if ACH learns to strike better, he could be a star.  Kyle O'Reilly has grown on me over the years, but I'm still not a fan of his MMA striking based offense.  Otherwise, it was a good, not great tag team match. 

Having seen and hated AJ Styles two weeks ago and not thinking much of Jay Lethal's work on the whole, I was a little surprised by how well their match worked.  It was a slow affair, but Jay Lethal understood how to work with AJ Styles to put on a Southern-style wrestling match.  The spots were much crisper than with Gulak two weeks beforehand and both wrestlers used the pace to their advantage, especially Styles whose offense was far more convincing in the match.  The finish was rushed, but for the first time I understand why Lethal/Styles would have been a great main event in 2004. 

Finally, there was the Chris Hero and Adam Cole main event ROH Title match, which was my primary motivation for going to the show.  I saw their clash in at PWG's All-Star Weekend X, Night 1 and thought the match was excellent, but a little short.  Their match tonight was actually better.   Here, they played the roles of Hero as the returning conqueror and Cole as the cowardly heel to perfection.  With Hero being in my book, the best storyteller in the ring working today, the match flowed.  Cole's work was excellent as well, making the small mannerisms work, rolling out of the ring as a heel with great gusto and to loud applause.  Both men worked the crowd well and closed with a ref bump finish, allowing Hero to get Cole to tap out without a ref, but allowing Cole to retain the title after three straight jacket German Suplexes.

In sum, the second half of the show was worth the price of admission, with Cole and Hero being my match of the night.  It didn't reignite my love affair with Ring of Honor, but will at least force me to look at their cards when in the area to see if there is a match I want to see in person. 

Friday, February 21, 2014

A Pleasant Surprise

When I came home from the Ring of Honor show in Philadelphia tonight, I was greeted by a pleasant surprise in my mailbox, the first QPW DVD, Well Worth the Wait.  While I am far too tired to sit an enjoy watching this DVD, I was more surprised that it arrived today.

Earlier today, I checked the status of the order and the USPS let me know it was somewhere in transit, but not out for delivery.  So, I expected to come home, find nothing of interest in my mailbox and head back into my apartment.  But opening the metal box, I saw a grey, rectangular package which could only be the QPW DVD I was so excited about arriving.  So, here I am, all bleary eyed looking at the package, trying to convince myself not to start watching, since I will fall asleep during the first match, requiring a further rewatching, which I would likely do anyway, but with something you want to enjoy, sometimes you just have to wait, even as you hold it in your hand. 

Thursday, February 20, 2014


I remember talking about Spotify at work before it even hit the American shores.  This guy I worked for was very excited it was coming to America and talked about it for a week straight before it hit.  Now, he had a beta invite and i wasn't that interested, because I have 600 CDs and was living during one of my sad, music-free times in my life. 

Admittedly, the reason I own 600 or so CDs (and would guess I am short changing the number, rather than inflating it) is there were many years from 15 to 28, where I always played my stereo.  It's taken a long time for me to accept silence is alright, but admittedly, alright is not the same as preferred.  In the day, I was obsessed with the Sony All-in-One systems which could hold 50 CDs at a time, so I would not need to get up and look for a new CD every 45 minutes.  Some CDs would take up places of honor and would need to go back into the right spot when I brought my stereo back and forth to college.  I mean, how could I live in a world where Better Late than Never was not Number 26.  For many years, I actually couldn't.

Even when I moved out on my own, my stereo was a constant companion for the first few months, though I eventually broke down and ordered cable television, which meant the constant sound of music would be replaced by the constant sound of the television.  I actually set up my living room so you could watch television from the couch or computer desk, since I spent the vast majority of time at my desk when I was home.

However, life changed and I stopped listening to music on a regular basis.  My CDs sat unused in binders or the remaining spinning rack from the days where they were my treasured possession, gathering dust.  I kept some in the car, but spent little time in the car, especially when I needed to commute by public transportation five days a week.

But in 2011, I downloaded Spotify for those rare moments I still wanted to listen to music.  At first, I mostly used it instead of iTunes to listen to all of the MP3s I created for my computer.  But recently, with music becoming part of my life again, I started really taking advantage.  It's funny, there are certain songs you like, usually an artist will have just one and in the past, I was left with the dilemma of either buying an album for one song, which is why I have a copy of Blood, Sugar, Sex, Magik which cost $1 or doing without, such as being unable to purchase a Grateful Dead album just to hear Touch of Grey.

So, I just started making myself lists of songs, songs which make no sense in any context, save the entirety of my life, while my CD collection sits on a shelf in my dining room, seldom touched by human hands, unless I really need something different for the car.  But how often do you really need to find a Skoidats or Johnny Too Bad and the Strikeouts album, seldom at all. 

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

An Awkward Date

Yesterday, while at the grocery store by myself, I was in the express lane, since I needed only a few items, mostly produce for Sweetiepig.  In front of me was an older gentleman, probably of retirement age, purchasing a few items.  Most prominent on the conveyor belt were supermarket flowers.  Now, since this is Wegman's, they are better than your standard issue supermarket flowers, but supermarket flowers they were.  He also had a card, likely an anniversary card, though it was too far down the conveyor belt for me to properly read it. 

The older gentleman was also politely flirting with the cashier, who certainly was young enough to be his granddaughter and likely thought him to be too sexually impotent to be more than a cagey old flirt.  So, as they are flirting, I notice the rest of the items in his order.  First, there is the whipped cream, which I could kind of see as an anniversary item.  This was followed by the Hershey's Chocolate Syrup, which hopefully means he is really into dessert. 

But what confused me was the last item on the belt.  He was purchasing a fancy dessert, a lemon tart to be exact.  While I don't think of Hershey's chocolate syrup and a lemon tart as being a particularly tasty combination, this was not the issue with the lemon tart.  What was striking about the lemon tart was that it was a single serving, a pastry designed for one person.  While I suspect there was a more likely explanation, such as eschewing sweets or cost, I could not get out of my head, the man was taking himself on a romantic date.  You know, some flowers, a nice card, a fancy dessert with some sweet toppings, followed some romantic time with himself.  This is what I was thinking about at the line in the grocery which I said, good for him!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Digging Up the Past

The other day, while trying to find some reading material in my archives, I came across one of my yearbooks from high school.  Going to a small, private school, I have a yearbook for each year, where I would expect some presence for myself. 

Looking back at my 1995 yearbook, by far the pinnacle of my high school years and definitely one of the better years of my life, I was shocked to see how many pictures of me existed in the yearbook, two.  There were two pictures in my high school yearbook of me.  The first picture, was the standard portrait included of all of the students.  Bonus points for this picture was that someone from my high school signed my picture during yearbook exchange instead of their own picture.  I would impugn their bad name here, but their scrawling was illegible, so only the sands of time know who failed basic yearbook etiquette.  The second picture of me was at the high school carnival, standing next to someone it took me 15 minutes to identify, which after doing so, I realized we might not have ever had a conversation, despite going to the same school of 125 people for three years.  I was impressed with how thin I was in my Metal Maniacs Looney Tunes T-Shirt, but was otherwise nonplussed by the picture.

Thinking I was mistaken, I scrutinized every picture with my high school friends in it, looking for other signs of my existence.  While I found many pictures of them, including various group shots, you would be hard pressed to know I even knew them, let alone was very close with them.  With the benefit of hindsight, this made sense.  I made most of my impact either in the classroom as the valedictorian of my class or in the shadows, outside the school proper.  Were I to go back and give myself a cool high school nickname, I would totally want to go by Shadow Cabinet, given my ability to impact influential coolness makers, allowing me access to a rarefied social strata I would never achieve again.  In an irony which goes against nearly my entire way of living life, I was one of the cool kids by proxy, despite being decidedly uncool. 

I hate to say I miss those days, but I do.  High school was not always a barrel full of laughs, but there were many good days, something when you look back, you tend to remember more than the bad days, laying slumped in front of a locker, covered in your own blood as people gasp as they walk by.  Of course, being unconscious, I don't remember such events, but life happens in mysterious ways.

Monday, February 17, 2014


A few years ago, HMart opened down the road from my apartment.  At first, I didn't notice, but eventually became curious, but sadly not curious enough to go to HMart.  Which is odd, because few places bring me greater joy than a grocery store, but I still always managed a way to find an excuse not to go. 

Finally, Christmas Day came and I needed to be scarce for a few hours.  With most of Central Jersey closed in observance of the birth of Jesus, I was sorely in need of a place to avoid the cold and be amused.  After striking out at a few local supermarkets, I remembered HMart.  Knowing they were an Asian market, I thought perhaps they would be open and they were.  Inside, I enjoyed the delights of a new grocery store, which had durian fruit in two locations in the store and durian ice pops for the daring who do not desire to take a knife to a giant fruit.  I only ended up buying a pepper that day, because I didn't have a plan, but vowed to return, like McArthur.

With today a federal holiday, there was no better time to return to HMart.  I was well aware they are the only place in the area I know which regularly sells duck eggs and I planned to make sweet and sour chicken tonight, which requires ginger.  This was sufficient to get me to go HMart.

First, a word about duck eggs.  For 34 years, I was unaware there were better eggs than chicken eggs, but this summer at the farmer's market, they were selling duck eggs for the same price as chicken eggs, which was worth the plunge.  Duck eggs differ from chicken eggs primarily in the yolk, as there is far more yolk, the best part of the egg, in a duck egg than in a chicken egg. 

So, off I went, to a well plowed parking lot, ready to shop in a new supermarket.  Upon entering, the first thing I notice is how large the produce section is.  They have an amazing selection, containing a large variety of fresh and some frozen produce, which makes sense when you deal in exotic produce.  I once again bypassed the durian fruit and considered the Asian Sweet Potatoes to finally find some fresh ginger. 

After procuring my ginger, I took a walk around the produce section and saw the most poorly named product in human history, rape flower.  A more unfortunately translation I could not imagine, as the Asian language version of the name was written below.  I am well aware of rapeseed oil, but I cannot imagine, even I, the least sensitive consumer imaginable, would want to walk up to the cashier with rape flower in my basket.  But should I change my mind or need an offensively named item from the produce section, HMart is there for me.

The fish section was even more amazing, with live fish, whole fish, filleted fish, frozen fish.  Just an impressive selection, though it evoked a sadness in me that I had no idea how to prepare a fish not fully filleted for me.  I looked at all of these wonderful seafood items and realized most of them were so far outside the realm of what I could cook and had to pass, but someday I must learn to work with a whole fish. 

What really struck me at this point, aside from the amazing cleanliness of the store, were the giant-sized packages.  I don't think I saw meat packaged in less than three pounds, saw more fruit packaged by the case than I can accept, cases of ramen and 25 pound bags of rice.  I was confused, because I couldn't imagine needing food in this quantity. But there it was, all over the store.

Finally, I managed to find noodles in packages for one person and obtained some soba noodles, which are likely the most underrated food in history, since people fail to appreciate how great buckwheat is.  With my items in tow, I head to the register, purchase my items and head home happy with my second trip to HMart.

In all honesty, I cannot tell you how much this particular entry just sucks.  You missed the misspelling of about 30 words, which is 32 words more than usual and any threads of a meaningful story just fell apart.  If I didn't know better, I would say I was having a stroke given the way the words are failing to come to me, but more likely, I'm just getting old, which is a far worse fate. 

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Shell Craters

I find that our endless winter is a terrible time for driving a car.  The snow and ice revisited on a repeated basis are terrible to drive in, but aside from misjudging a hill where the snow was melting just enough to turn into ice, requiring me to gently skid to the bottom of the hill before cutting my wheels and safely missing everything, I've not suffered greatly in the conditions. 

However, the aftermath is another story.  Driving in the snow yesterday as darkness fell, I was less concerned with how slick the roads were, but rather how grooved, pitted, cut and full of holes each lane was.  Along Route 27, I was concerned there was artillery bombardment along the road which I managed to sleep through.  The roads had what appeared to be shell craters, just waiting to rip your tire, axle or whatever else it could grab off your car, though I was heartened that as long as the enemy wasn't using phosphine gas, I could safely hide from any artillery or machine gun fire for hours on end. 

Sadly, while driving a car, a shell hole caused by the constant abuse of the weather does not endear itself to me.  It just makes me paranoid that I am going to rip apart my car, hitting the wrong hole at the wrong angle again.  As I've managed to cut 12 tires on this car in the last six years, each time I see a pothole or anything on the surface of the road, I get the awful dread of not again, hoping against hope that I manage to reach my destination without the horrible sound of a perforated tire, made worse by the fact they are an odd size and usually out of stock at most local tire locations. 

Fortunately, I managed to choose the smaller, safer hole nearly every time and arrive safely at my destination, but I know tomorrow will come...a tomorrow where no one has paved, filled or plugged any of the holes just waiting to tear apart my poor, poor car.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

The Oldest

I went to the mall yesterday, mostly because after finishing shopping for Sweetiepig's produce, I needed a safe area to turn my motorized vehicle around without careening off a slick cloverleaf...and I wanted to see if I could persuade myself to look for new pants, as they no longer make the Claiborne 100% polyester pants I've worn for the last decade.  Heck, I followed the label to JC Penney, which is quite honestly my least favorite store humanly possible to anchor a mall.  But I suffered through confusing pricing and sloppy stores, though I was impressed how with death at the doorstep, they've cut down merchandise and almost made the store presentable, less a K-Mart and more a Sears. 

But walking through the mall, I stopped at two stores, FYE and Barnes and Noble.  Being a tertiary mall, there is not a lot to enjoy, but I always enjoy a quick look at overpriced CDs, DVDs and books, knowing that basically anything I find not marked 75% off can be bought at Amazon, though I've been known to break for a full price book from time to time at Barnes and Noble...and appreciate the role they've taken on as a public square, while other public places shrink away.

More importantly than this prattling, I was struck by the following thought, first in FYE, then in Barnes and Noble.  "What is the oldest new item for sale in this store?"  The fact that someone might have bought Use Your Illusion 2 on release day in 1991 and convinced themselves 22 years later to let it go is noteworthy, foolish, but noteworthy.  The real question lies in how long a piece of merchandise, long since written off at the corporate level, remains on the shelves of the store, just waiting to be purchased. 

With Barnes and Noble, I felt fairly confident there was a book printed 15 years ago, bought to open the store, back when bookstores were still a going concern, just waiting to be purchased.  Bookstores, especially Barnes and Nobles, have tremendous selection for a physical location.  I would think there are at least 100,000 books in the store, even a small Barnes and Noble like this store.  And as much as I would like to think otherwise, there has to be, hidden away in one of the fiction/literature or self improvement sections, a book that was there when the store opened and could be purchased today if I so chose...and could identify such a precious tome. 

But with FYE, I was uncertain.  The DVDs were automatically ruled out as the oldest item for sale in the store.  DVDs didn't become popular until the late 1990s and early 2000s and were rivaled by VHS tapes back in the day.  CDs though have not changed that much. 

Originally CDs came in those gigantic, white cardboard sleeves, which contained the same case you receive today, should you have the heart and desire to purchase a CD.  I took a non-thorough inventory of the store and did not see any tell-tale white sleeves, which would make sense, since the security measures added to these stores were remarkably similar to the original packaging.  At first, I thought no white packages would be from at least the early 1990s, but I could also see some assistant manager announcing back in 1996, "We have a project.  You need to remove all of these CDs from their original white packages and move them into these protective plastic packages to aid in loss prevention and provide uniformity throughout the store.  We need to have pride in our jobs, people."  God, this sounds like a lousy job.  I've asked people to do terrible things, but never something as soul draining as opening and repackaging CDs. 

I mean, is there a copy of Blood, Sugar, Sex and Magic from the original order, just sitting in the store after 22 years.  I paid a dollar for my copy at a garage sale, which was a fair price in 1999, but imagine looking at the $18.99 CD and saying, "You know, I don't listen to Under the Bridge enough." and taking that plunge, only to find out that it was sitting there for the time it takes a person to be born and graduate college? 

Actually, I bought a copy of One Inch Masters by Gashuffer CD at a used record store in Philadelphia last year for $1.99.  I listened to about three songs on it, before not liking it, but I was totally impressed that the original flyer, showing all of the Epitaph offerings from their early years was still in the package.  I would swear, someone at best opened it, never listened to it, then sold it 15 years later, waiting for me to blow two bucks on a CD.  It was worth it for the flyer alone.  But it's also a different context and culture. 

FYE is about mass consumption, conspicuously placed in the mall, getting the latest and greatest item possible.  The indy record store is all about the find, the score, the little victory, finding something old is good, because you can't get it anywhere else.  It's a badge of honor from a bygone era less than a generation ago.  But man, I just want to know how long something can sit in stock at a kills me knowing I will never know what was left behind by the last generation for this generation...even at FYE. 

Friday, February 14, 2014

Happy Valentine's Day

Everyone has their least favorite holiday.  I used to think it was Thanksgiving, because being born on Thanksgiving means that I was never able to plan a birthday party and to be quite honest, having spent far too many birthdays alone, however, in my dotage, I understand that is not about the holiday, but really my dislike of gatherings.  Halloween is a holiday, which certainly had its ups and downs over the years as well, but I can think of quite a few good Halloweens in my life.

However, I cannot think of one solitary good Valentine's Day.  Heck, most of them are not even memorable, just an empty day in my life.  In fact, I believe I was paired off for eight Valentine's Days, the best and most memorable of which involves me coloring a guinea pig with colored pencils as part of my recuperation.  However, I can think of one exceptionally poor Valentine's Day, a masochist's tale from my year in the courthouse.  I think being rejected by a girl with uneven legs was quite the emotional blow for me, but with a history of having an eye for beauty in things and people which are broken, it was not quite as terrible as it might have been.  Also by 26, any semblance of confidence or ability to deal with women productively was lost in the scorched earth of my love life, self-inflicted to the last.  So, without further ado, I present my favorite Valentine's Day story as a present tense encounter from 2005 entitled Mountain Climber:

We've all watched The Price is Right. I mean, it's a staple of American life. As a child, I was horribly frightened by the game Mountain Climber. It's not the fact that man in the shorts with a pick ax predictably fell to his death every time they reached the third item, but rather it was the freaky yodeling that accompanied the game. As I got older, I was able to withstand Mountain Climber and laugh whenever someone guess the price of a $29 blender was $54, leaving the mountaineer precariously perched on the edge of the mountain, just awaiting the bid on the juicer to send him plummeting to his ultimate demise and the contestant to the front of the line when it came time to spin the wheel.

Today was much like one of those harrowing games of Mountain Climber, only in my mind. The day started off well enough. Then I was a few minutes late getting started on my day. The mountain climber slowly rose, maybe two or three dollars. Nothing major and still leaving the day in the prize winning area. Then, I couldn't find my watch, which was expected as I couldn't find it yesterday either, though now it is safely sheleved after finding it under the foot of my bed. Another dollar, nothing serious. Then, I showered, shaved, dressed to the point of the tie. Normally, I can tie a tie in two shots or less. Using a mirror is out of the question as for some strange reason my mind wants to use the hands in the mirror rather than the hands attached to my arms, leading to some awkward knotting at best. This morning, I may as well have been using your arms, dear reader, as it took no less than ten tries and two ties to actually get one tied properly. Slowly, the yodeling began to get louder.

After a boring drive to work with little in terms of good radio, I arrived at the underground parking area about ten minutes late. Not really a problem, since my boss cares more about what gets done, which is everything plus, then the exact moment I show up. So, I'm putting on my suit jacket and walking towards the elevator with a bottle of water, a can of soda and an umbrella in my hand. Then, somehow the can leapt from my hand, as if urged by a suicidal impulse and hit the ground below. Realizing that concrete is never smooth and learning from the time this happened in the outdoor parking lot, I sprung backwards, just out of harm's way as the can explode with full fury, leaving a foamy, brown puddle on the ground. I picked up the can, threw it out and felt good about not actually wearing a soda for most of the day. Only one or two more dollars up the mountain went our intrepid explorer.

Walking up the street to work, something dawned on me. The fact I probably should have shown up at 8 AM, instead of 8:30 this morning, since my judge was issuing a decision from the bench. Up the mountain we go.

I get to work and decide that I am going to hide at my desk for as much of the day as possible, as I would be less likely to get bit by a dog, run down by a criminal or have a dirigible crash upon my head there, then out in the halls of the courthouse. Staying at my desk was actually quite safe and productive. I managed to say only one stupid thing, which is about par for the course in any conversation. I didn't light myself on fire, douse myself in acid, nor accidently unleash a nuclear holocaust on the world. The yodeling had all but stopped and the little mountaineer in his shorts, with his pick ax held high felt very safe, almost secure and content.

At about 12:35, I headed out to lunch. Lunch is always safe. I would be alone, far removed from the courthouse and anyone I could run into. Nothing could go wrong, other than my lunch not being very good, which would have only pushed the mountaineer towards the edge, rather than over it.

Alas, we would not have much of a story were the tale to end here, as there is no point in discussing Mountain Climber if the yodeling fool is not pushed to a traumatic and early demise by the cruel world around him. Out the front door I go into the arms of fortune and disaster.

Outside was one of the law clerks that I know and work with. There is nothing scary about that in abstract. Of course, I've left out details like how at one point in time, I was very interested in, as something about her shy, awkward beauty spoke to me. Mostly, in the form of horrific plans that I will not recount here, due to their extreme length and utter failure. But we remain friendly enough, as I never really exposed my hand to her.

So, she is standing in the middle of the long path out of the courthouse and she sees me and stops. I walk up to her, umbrella extended as we are in a driving, wet snow. I offer her my umbrella like a gentleman, because that's just who I am. She refuses and we start to walk and talk. Our conversations are almost never meaningful or interesting, almost always staying in the safe zone of work, rather than the meaningful realms of anything important or personal, save one conversation about her love of sitcoms on HBO. So, we are walking along and I'm thinking about how pretty I think she is, despite her limp. I don't think everyone realizes that one of her legs is shorter than the other, but I'm dead certain of it. So, she mentioned she was meeting another of the law clerks for lunch. About this time, I put the umbrella away, as I was about to put someone's eye out with it, due to the high winds. Little in life is less emasculating than being blown around like Mary Poppins. If you don't believe me, wait for a day of high wind and take a flimsy umbrella for a stroll.

After a block, she asks, where was I going. In truth, I had planned to go to the book store, then swing back to one of the local eateries. Of course, faced with a situation between the rational walking away before I drag myself into regret or dragging myself into regret, I always choose the dragging, so I say the same place she is going, which in fact was partially true, since I had every intention of coming back there. So, we cross the street to the restaurant, where I've locked myself into the conversation and lunch.

We casually converse for a few minutes, with only one awkward reference to stalking after I pointed out one of the judges in the restaurant from behind. She seemed to think it was funny, but that was probably due more to the animation of myself, then the content of my words. I was thinking, how is it that I just couldn't figure out how to make things work with the girl with the pretty face, the cute speech impediment and the limp who finds me amusing. You would think I was playing to my strengths here, yet that ended up not being the case.

So, her friend came along and we went inside, just as the last table was taken. Perhaps I was going to escape with some small shred of dignity and leave the mountain climber stranded at $25 up the mountain. Of course, it was then recommended we dine in the small jury room upstairs, which apparently also doubles as a place for breastfeeding. So, I guess it has a variety of functions.

They order, I order. We stand around and converse, the two of them doing more of the talking as they are better friends. So, as you may realize, today is Valentine's Day, my second, least favorite holiday after St. Patrick's Day. So, the friend starts talking about what her boyfriend was doing for her for Valentine's Day. And then she asks the girl I like(d) what Brian was doing for her for Valentine's Day. Now, of course, in a perfect world that Brian was me and the great light of God would be shining on my wretched self. However, we all know that I don't believe in god or good fortune.

That Brian is one of the other two guys of the same job title. He of the square jaw and regular guy ways who I felt was real competition since early September and was certain of it by a long and arduous Family Law Christmas party I went to, as I neither drank at a public gather nor enjoyed watching her look at him and gentlely touch his sleeve in the way women do when they are interested in the short man. I was crestfallen after that day, but being isolated due to the different nature of my job, I was unaware he made his move and things worked out.

I would repeat what happened in real life here, but I was lost solely in the dark recesses of my mind as the poor Mountain Climber watched in great horror as I screamed the two slice toaster cost $186 when it really cost $20. The Mountain Climber was just shot off the mountain over the Plinko machine and to a certainly painful demise as he lay broken at the base of the wheel. Of course, my next horror was that I was to be drawn into the conversation, be asked what are you doing for your girlfriend for Valentine's Day and be forced to withhold the hilarious, but highly inappropriate comment of switching hands.

Needless to say, lunch was a long, drawn out meal in a small room with a bricked up fire place that where the conversation mostly turned on how much they disliked certain people, while I realized how really good my job and most of the people I worked with were in comparison. Of course, this was interspliced with the image of the poor mountain climber being vaulted and my wondering where did I go wrong in estimating this one out.

I then returned to my desk after taking some work from her, walked to my desk and sulked for a decent while at my desk, finished up everything I needed to do and went home on time in the driving rain. Now, I sit here having written this utterly ridiculous story about my day, which you were drawn into and have completely read and had a good laugh at my expense. And I deserve it.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Bread Riot

I went to the supermarket last night.  A fairly normal activity, requiring the pushing of a cart through large quantities of food items designed to spoil in ways which if we really understood would frighten us and lead us to a quick death via starvation.  However, while no one was particularly concerned about the slow rate of decay in their cocoa puffs, everyone was particularly frightened of the bread and milk aisles, as Snowmageddon 16 was en route. 

As an aside, has anyone else noticed they started naming winter storms like hurricanes.  We are up to Winter Storm Pax, which is quite possibly the least appropriate winter storm name which does not involve warm, hot, fire or easy drivable roads, since peace is about the last thing a winter storm brings to mind.  I remember the good old days, when winter storms happened without ridiculous names designed to bring an additional emotional impact to the viewer. 

So, while I don't actually keep milk in the house, because I never drink milk on its own and seldom have reason to cook things which require milk, leading to the embarrassing revelation I've had mashed potatoes approximately three times in the last five years, since most restaurants make terrible mashed potatoes and I can not be bothered to keep milk in the house.  More importantly, it is a good thing that I did not have a strong desire for mashed potatoes, since there was no milk left in the store.  And the bread aisles was almost as bad, as there were approximately eight loaves of bread remaining in the store.

Which brings me to the point, why does everyone panic and buy milk and bread anytime disaster is going to strike?  If milk and bread are so important in a storm, shouldn't I reasonably assume that most people keep a regular supply of both in their homes.  Heck, I have a loaf of bread from the beginning of the week in my home, still with plenty of edible bread left, requiring no restoration of my bread reserves due to the impending storm. 

Do people fear being trapped in their homes to this degree that they might not be able to get to the store for a week?  Even during Superstorm Sandy, I could go to the grocery store on Tuesday and buy most items...not milk though.  I found milk seldom in my travels, as hoarders beset every scene where there was milk with a rapidity that defies human experience. 

But today, as I look out on clear roads, with barely six inches of snow hitting the ground, I am still confused.  I could easily walk to the local grocery store in these conditions and should have no trouble driving anywhere tomorrow, yet last night the bread was gone, as if six feet of snow were going to bury us for weeks inside our homes, locked away from the outside world, save through our precious internet connections.  It's these little things which always confuse me about people, since a rational approach is almost always a better approach, yet no actor is less rational than a human being, especially if there is a storm with a cutesy name en route. 

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

You Can Go Home Again

I started on the internet in 1994 and by 1995, I became aware that people created online simulated baseball leagues on the internet using Tony LaRussa Baseball 3, which is one of the finest sports simulations ever created.  The first league I joined was Deep South Baseball, which last about two seasons, but I met some very interesting people for the time, including the first decidedly religious person I ever met.  I mean, I knew someone who went to mass every Saturday and Sunday and played the organ, but I do question your dedication to the holy spirit and god's mission when you use phrases like "Roast Beef" with regard to many of the passing women or talk about this girl's "wide-screen TV ass", for whom you are writing a love song.  But I have certainly digressed into my first job beyond what was necessary for the story. 

And for a number of years that followed, I played in a variety of Tony LaRussa 3 and Front Page: Sports 1998 baseball leagues online, throughout the rest of my high school and college years.  It was something I did, but I suspect most of my closest friends know nothing about, because on the whole, it isn't interesting if you aren't part of the league.  About a month after leaving college, I learned about Out of the Park Baseball, which had released OOTP3 that spring.  Being a simulated baseball junkie, I was instantly hooked and would say it was one of the best games I've ever played.  At first, I played by myself, but quickly learned there were online leagues and saw a posting for Cooperstown Diamond Legends, an historical league starting in 1969 by the original commissioner looking for owners.  I dashed off a witty response to the ten or so questions you needed to be able to answer in order to join the league and picked up the Houston Astros prior to the expansion draft.

I can tell you to this day, I retained Jimmy Wynn over Joe Morgan, because Jimmy Wynn was an unstoppable on-base machine in a league starting in 1969 and drafted reasonably well.  Having always loved sabermetrics and bright orange, this was a natural fit for me in the summer of 2001.  I was starting law school and at times was running in four or so leagues, which could be a fairly sizable commitment.  However, after our second season ended, one of the original commissioners stormed out of the league, to the better in my opinion, since I didn't agree with how he ran things.  With a void, some previous experience helping out in other leagues and a desire to keep something I loved going strong, I volunteered to take over some of the co-commissioner duties in the fall of 2001. 

Sadly, my simulated baseball team was always a priority, which while never impacting my studies, might have crimped my social life from time to time.  But for the next thirty seasons and four or so years, I was the co-commissioner of the CDL, uploading files on a dial-up connection for most of the time to FTP.  However, I learned a lot about managing people, dealing with difficult personalities, coming up with fair rules and editing computer files to make things more realistic.  After this time, it began to be a grind and I found myself burning out from it, even though, we were a team of three people running a simulated baseball league.  So, I first stepped down from running the league, then from the league in total about a year later, since it is hard to not be in control, once you have tasted the power. 

And I came back for a few short stints, but seldom gave those great days and more importantly, great people a lot of thought.  Then today, as I was in my living room, I received an E-Mail letting me know the CDL was closing in on 100 seasons and they were building a history project.  More importantly, Sam, our website guru and commissioner extraordinaire, wanted to catch up on old times, which I was more than excited to do.  And I found out there was an opening in the league, nearly 13 years and 100 seasons after we started.  Being sentimental and loving the thrill of competition for its own sake, I jumped at the chance to lead the New York Mets, which have a dash of orange, a spot in first place and a team needing active stewardship and went home again, to a world left behind for all of the wrong reasons.  And I returned for the right reasons, the people, most of whom were actually pretty great guys.  Of course, now I have to beat them into submission to get a fourth orange banner with my name emblazoned upon it, but those are the breaks in, I guess you can say you can go home again. 

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

CZW: 15th Anniversary: A Review (Part 2)

Intermission is one of the most critical times at an independent wrestling show.  At a regular show, the wrestlers will come out, sign autographs, take pictures with people and sell merchandise.  Depending on the size of the show and promotion, there will likely be at least a singular merchandise table and at larger shows, a variety of merchandise tables, as outside vendors set up as well.  This being a larger show, there were a variety of merchandise tables. 

I made my first stop at the Evolve/DGUSA table.  I was interested in some of their DVDs, since the Super Smash Brothers did some work for them in 2012.  Additionally, earlier in the night during my first walkthrough Gabe Sapolsky, the booker for the promotion, who was there selling his wares, let me know he was willing to cut a deal.  I was a fan of Gabe's work in Ring of Honor and was pretty excited about Dragon Gate USA, but have never gotten too deep into their product.  I went to Evolve 5, because it was the last chance to see Bryan Danielson on the East Coast and Evolve 18, because the Super Smash Brothers were wrestling El Generico and Samuray Del Sol and enjoyed both shows.   I also bought tickets to their second show in Philadelphia, but missed most of the show, as I was stuck in a traffic jam for six hours, which was a bit of a bummer since we had pricey first row seats, which were a gift for the best man at my wedding. 

I found three DVDs which I wanted with the Super Smash Brothers on them and tendered a fifty dollar bill for forty dollars worth of wrestling DVDs.  Gabe then offered me two more DVDs from the older stock for $5 a piece.  Not having a good sense of what I wanted, I let Gabe pick two shows he thought would be best to entice me into becoming a Dragon Gate USA fan.  So, I am now the proud owner of Enter the Dragon 2011 and Freedom Fight 2011.  And I get to support a product I probably enjoy, but seldom get to attend, as the shows in the area are usually in New York City and in places which require a car, which is usually two bridges too far for me to want to attend. 

I then moved over to the wrestlers' tables.  I have a fairly large collection of wrestling shirts, almost all of which were purchased directly from a wrestler at a show.  I even own a Kevin Steen shirt which is one size too large, because that was what he brought to Rahway right after Superstorm Sandy and I wanted him to know that I appreciated his work.  I think there is no better way to tell talent to come back then to support them directly like this.  I buy DVDs, because that is the entertainment for me, but I buy shirts from wrestlers like Kevin Steen, Chris Hero, Chuck Taylor and the Super Smash Brothers, because I want them to come back to the Northeast and not take jobs as accountants.

As Candice Larae and Joey Ryan were making a rare East Coast appearance and because Drake Younger was nowhere to be found during intermission, I knew I would break one of my cardinal rules, no white shirts.  But Candice and Joey put out a really great shirt and since I've been a Joey Ryan since the first match I saw him in over six years ago, which was the First and Last Ever PWG Tuxedo Street Fight against Top Gun Talwar, I wanted to show my appreciation for the fine work that Joey and Candice are putting on across the country.  So, I gave Joey Ryan $20, he gave me a shirt and the sense that I was supporting independent wrestling. 

With intermission completed and purchases safely moved to my car and my car safely moved to right in front of the Flyers Skate Zone, I was able to enjoy the second half of the show.  After intermission, there was a four way tag match, which featured a lot of high spots and wrestlers I wasn't familiar with, followed by a tag team championship match, which featured wrestlers I was familiar with and aside from John Silver, who put on an excellent hard hitting performance, there was nothing of note to me. 

But now, we hit the home stretch.  The four-way number one contenders match, with Drake Younger, AR Fox, Chris Dickinson and Black Jeez was excellent and certainly the match of the night.  Since El Generico returned to his orphanage in Mexico, no one has been better at being a babyface than Drake Younger.  He is just so believable and full of excitement, you just want to scream DRAKE at the top of your lungs and watch him win.  And no one sells better than AR Fox, just watching him take a cutter and backflipping through is an amazing work of art.  Chris Dickinson, whom I'd heard good things about also put on a great match.  We won't talk about my thoughts on Black Jeez, but at least he didn't take anything away from the match.  There were just the right amount of big spots and everyone got in good work, before AR Fox beat Drake Younger, which made a lot of sense considering AR Fox is an East Coast wrestler and Drake Younger is a West Coast wrestler.

Finally, we reached the initial main event, which pitted CZW Champion Drew Gulak versus former TNA star and independent glory boy AJ Styles.  To be honest, I never gave AJ Styles wrestling much thought before Saturday night and certainly did not buy a ticket to see him live.  The week prior, I saw Drew Gulak wrestle Colt Cabana and thought Drew was a good hand, but nothing worth writing about. 

Most reviews of the match were very positive, which led me to believe two things.  One, no one wants to say anything bad about AJ Styles during his homecoming tour.  Two, everyone else was watching a very different match than I was.  I suspect it was the former. 

The match started slow, which can be fine, but the main event at a CZW show probably should incorporate more than headlocks in the first five minutes.  I think the pacing of the match might have worked if we were in Greensboro, North Carolina in 1975, but the match suffered even beyond that.  Both wrestlers employ something of an old-time Southern style, which I usually enjoy, but not after a big, hard-hitting match full of highspots.  Also, if you do a Southern-style match, you need to employ more story telling and not just moving from move to move at a slower pace.  After a quick tour of the arena, which is always overrated, a series of back and forth exchanges and one of the least authentic valet/manager hitting the famous wrestler with the belt, who could neither lose clean nor win the title, the match was thankfully over.  Seriously, nothing I saw on Saturday night would ever convince me I wanted to pay to see AJ Styles wrestle, as the match was slow and he really lacked the physical charisma to convince me that he was telling a good story. 

Finally, it was Deathmatch time, since after the bad taste of the original main event, people wanted blood.  Danny Havoc comes out to a ring filled with weapons, like a chair, a chair wrapped in barbed wire, a garbage can, a crutch, all tools we became familiar with watching ECW back in the 1990s.  He cuts a promo designed to introduce his opponent and the entire time I was just standing there in my heart, screaming, "Anyone but Drake."  Sadly, as much as I like Drake Younger, he came out to the ring to have what could thankfully be considered a hardcore match.

I was actually saddened when Drake came to the ring.  Deathmatches are the wrestling equivalent of pornography.  Limited story telling, lots of action and plenty of things you don't need to see.  To be honest, they really are not my thing, as I never want to see someone take a stapler to another man and use it on him to inflict pain.  Or rip open another person's skin and flesh with barbed wire.  It doesn't appeal to me.  A hardcore match, which is not nearly as barbaric, can work in the right environment, but a deathmatch, which CZW is famous for, and which Drake Younger swore off in the last year or so, was exactly what I didn't want to see. 

Fortunately, two things happened.  One, the actual violence was toned down considerably.  Even the barbed wire chair wasn't wielded, but instead Danny Havoc went head first into it once and really didn't bleed.  The unprotected shots to the head were a bit much, but again, it was Drake delivering and Danny taking them, whether it be by chair or garbage can lid.  Drake took some bumps, which were hard to watch in person and finally lost the match, but it was still enjoyable and I really appreciated it didn't go too far, since I think babyface Drake Younger is one of the best wrestlers around today, while King of the Deathmatch Drake Younger does not hold the same appeal. 

In all, it was a good show and I would recommend the DVD or iPPV to anyone who likes wrestling.  The show was also good enough for me to ensure I check the next CZW card to see if it is worth going to, though not quite strong enough to make CZW a must to my wrestling rotation.  That being said, I was quite happy to be part of their 15th anniversary show, as it shows an ability and dedication to survive in a difficult business. 

Monday, February 10, 2014

CZW 15th Anniversary: A Review (Part 1)

Sadly, dear reader, I happen to be a huge wrestling fan (not literally, as I am of more an average size), but I enjoy the artistic endeavor that is professional wrestling.  While I freely admit I watch the WWE product, my heart has belonged to independent wrestling since 2007, when I went to my first Ring of Honor show. 

On Saturday, I convinced myself to go to a CZW show for the second time in my life.  I went to an event called Cage of Death in 2012, since Cage of Death is an experience that each independent wrestling fan should experience at least once in their lives, though I would strongly recommend general admission, rather than front row seating, because I am not a big fan of picking light tubes out of my hair before driving home. 

To start, fifteen years for an independent wrestling organization is an impressive streak and something to be commended.  CZW is generally not my cup of tea, but they have definitely moved their product away from some of the worst aspects of death match wrestling and towards a more hardcore, but tasteful product aside from a few shows designed to cater to that crowd.  However, I saw that Joey Ryan and Candice LaRae, who are two of my favorite wrestlers from the West Coast were going to have matches at the show, along with the Golden Boy Drake Younger, who is a former CZW legend and nowadays the best babyface on the independent scene.  Once I saw the three of them were going to be at an anniversary show, I eagerly bought my ticket, unlike the real draw, which was a match by AJ Styles, which I will discuss below, but in no way encouraged me to attend. 

So, I arrive early and fight the parking situation, which is really the only drawback of going to a big CZW show, before yielding and parking across the way.  I finally find the line, which contained no less than 1,000 and probably closer to 1,200 people, which is a really impressive crowd for an independent wrestling show.  However, the line snakes around a hockey rink, with a game between the junior Flyers and junior Devils, which the junior Devils won 6 to 4.  I watched the game, not because of my interest in junior hockey, but in my interest in self-preservation, as I would prefer not to be brained by a stray puck flying through the netting.  Most of the fans for the show watched as well, making it quite likely the most well-attended junior hockey game in American history.  There were a few calls for fights, as you would expect from wrestling fans watching junior hockey waiting for violence, but nothing out of the ordinary. 

Finally, after about 45 minutes of waiting, the line starts to move.  A few gentlemen who brought their own title belts from their homes, which does not make them champions, but spectators with an overinflated ego.  Though I do have a softspot for the fifty year old thinly built African American fellow who dresses like Hulk Hogan, down to the long blond hair in a wig, with his own title belt.  The line moves slow and as the game finished, free skate begins.  The guys behind me were very interested in free skate, because they really enjoyed watching people, mostly children under the age of 14 eat the ice.  It happened a few times, but not nearly as many as you would expect from a group of skaters wondering why 1,000, mostly 20 to 40 year old men, were watching them skate, but that is the life of an independent wrestling fan.

Finally, I manage to get inside just before the opening match and move to the Highspots merchandise table.  For reasons I won't get into, I had not pre-ordered All Star Weekend 10 from Pro Wrestling Guerrilla, but was aware the DVDs were released on Friday by Highspots.  I prefer to purchase them directly from PWG, since they get the full effect of the sale, as buying wrestling DVDs from an independent promotion is like buying local.  It takes a lot to run a show and buying direct from the company helps their bottom line and keeps the viable.  But, I'm a selfish pig who wanted to see the best wrestling around and bought them right away. 

After finishing a quick walkthrough, the matches start.  The first few matches were fine, mostly CZW regulars whom I was generally acquainted.  There was a segment with Tommy Dreamer, who is best known for his work with the seminal wrestling organization ECW in the 1990s, which had a tremendous impact on wrestling from a Bingo Hall in South Philadelphia, which I've been fortunate enough to visit during its heyday.  He put over a special main event, which is code for "You won't like AJ Styles versus Drew Gulak and the company needs to make good to make sure people come back."  Also, there was a great Charlie Brown chant for the owner, based on his looking like Charlie Brown, wearing his brown, big boy suit that Tommy got going. 

And that's part of the performance art.  The fans aren't just there to enjoy the show, but you also participate in the theatre with your cheers, your boos and your insane chants, which at times are known to go too far.  But that's wrestling for you.

Finally, the first match I wanted to see and the match I was most excited for that night started, Joey Ryan versus Greg Excellent.  Joey Ryan's gimmick is that of a sleazy Californian with a great tan and hair, a fine mustache and chest hair.  His gimmick resonates in his wrestling, which can either be very serious and technical or playful and comedic, depending on the opponent.  As he was facing, Greg Excellent, a heavy set fellow in a single with his name written like the Mountain Dew logo, poured a box of cereal on himself and entered the ring, comedy was in the cards.

The match was everything I hoped it would be.  Joey Ryan started the match with a lollipop in his mouth.  The lollipop was passed back and forth during a series of headlocks, which while totally unhygenic, was also hysterical.  Then during the first break in action, Joey Ryan proceeded to take the lollipop, rub it all over his body, shove it down his pants, then into Greg Excellent's mouth.  Writing the last sentence, I'm not sure I should have enjoyed this at all, but the action was just the right amount of juvenile to be hysterical without feeling obscene.  Of course, to take the action further, Greg enjoyed the lollipop, shoved it down his own singlet, may or may not have intimated he was touching himself while doing so, then shoved it into Joey's mouth, since you always need the good guy to come out on top.  The match continued at a regular pace after this point, with Joey using his patented Boobplex, usually reserved for wrestling women, on the ample Greg Excellent to great effect and pop from the crowd, before local hero Greg Excellent went over him for the victory in a highly entertaining match. 

There was a quick match for the CZW Wired title that I have nothing of value to talk about, which was followed by Candice Larae wrestling Kimber Lee.  Candice is a staple for PWG and usually wrestles men in PWG, generally as part of a tag team.  Normally, I would have misgivings about a man wrestling a woman, but PWG has the right atmosphere and booking to take advantage of the comedic potential of a man wrestling a woman, while still making Candice feel like a credible contender.  Unlike Joey Ryan, who I'd seen wrestle a few times for Ring of Honor live on the East Coast or Drake Younger, who I saw at my one Cage of Death appearance, which was a real draw for me to go to that show in all honesty, I had never seen Candice wrestle live, usually, because I don't watch women's wrestling. 

The bias stems from watching wrestling for 30 years and growing up, women generally didn't wrestle that often and when they did, the workrate was pretty abysmal for most of them and to this date, remains a big problem in women's wrestling in the WWE, which I think Sara Del Rey as a new trainer is working hard to fix.  I had seen Kimber Lee wrestle a few times for a local promotion and thought she was a good worker and expected a good match.  To be honest, it was almost certainly the best women's wrestling match I've seen live not involving Awesome Kong and Sara Del Rey.  The action was crisp and lively, the spots were strong and I did see Candice perform a modified version of the Ballplex, which is exactly the suplex you think it is on Kimber Lee two times in a row, which I would lovingly call the Boxplex.  Of course, by doing so, any feminist credibility I could ever have went rolling out the window, but really, no other word you could create in wrestling language would give justice to the move dished out at this point. 

At this point, we reached intermission, which is where I will leave this story until tomorrow, where we can discuss respecting the business, why I buy merchandise, Drake Younger and the awful AJ Styles/Drew Gulak match, which was not nearly as panned by others as I will pan it tomorrow. 

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Full Service

In two states of the union, we have the great joy of only having full-service gas stations.  Most full-service gas stations are basically the same, you pull up, ask for your order, get your gas pumped, pay and drive away without pouring gasoline on your shoes or pants.

Yesterday, I was on my way to the CZW 15th Anniversary Show in South Jersey.  I left myself some additional time to make sure I arrived early after time I went to one of their shows leaving me standing in the cold for an hour.  Unfortunately, I failed to get gas for my car on Friday, which meant that I would need to get gas on the way.  This also meant visiting a new gas station.

For the first fifteen or so miles of my trip, all of the gas stations were on the wrong, and by wrong, I mean opposite side of the road.  Finally, I hit the Windsors, which one of the fancier areas of New Jersey.  I drive past a few gas stations, lamenting the price was 15 cents higher per gallon in this part of the state.  Eventually, I see a gas station and yield despite the inflated prices.

The set up of the station was odd, as there were two groups of gas islands, but people were only using the one furthest from the highway.  So, I pull up, turn off my car, roll down my window and pop the lock on the gas tank.  The fellow, since to use the word gentleman would be both misleading and debase the word, ambles over and asks what I want.  I want him to fill my tank with regular gasoline.

And nothing really happens, because a woman starts yelling at the guy pumping gas and he goes over to her.  I won't say walk, but more of a modified Humpty Dances his way over there.  I think at some point in time the attendant possibly suffered a stroke, which would explain the walk, but as we will learn, he is quite the operator and anything was possible at this bizarro gas station.

Two minutes pass before this fellow returns.  Having forgotten my order, he asks again, which was to be expected.  As soon as he starts pumping my gas, he goes off on a tirade about the other customer, wanting a specific amount of gas, rather than filling her tank, as if she was trying to order lobster instead of receive gas.  He then asks if I am local and not really thinking, I indicate that I'm not, as I thought he was just making conversation. He even puts his hand in my open window to express his regret, which I quickly shake to get him out of my car. 

$30.70 worth of gas was pumped into the tank.  If you are paying cash at a full service station, the custom is for the attendant to pump to the nearest dollar.  I can think of one time in the last ten years where the attendant didn't do so and he was pumping to the nearest quarter.  This hustler just said, $31.00 without doing the rest of the fill up, which if I am not mistaken is illegal, since he is charging me for a product and not providing it.  To me, it was thirty cents, so I was willing to let it go.  But I started thinking.  Let's say he does this to thirty customers a day, that's nine dollars he is skimming off the top.  That's $45 per week and $180 per month.  It's like he is getting his cable bill or more than a few handles of alcohol or maybe, just maybe some erotic daguerreotypes for his pleasure.  I still don't like being cheated, but such is the way of the world.

So, I hand our hustling friend a fifty dollar bill, since my bank's ATM practices this new form of hatred where it dispenses fifties instead of twenties.  While I understand inflation and limited spaces in ATMs, fifty dollar bills are still an oddity in the currency world.  No one ever talks about spending a Grant for a reason.  Expecting nineteen dollars in change, since I've given our hustler friend fifty dollars, he hands me two five dollar bills and four singles.  Now, I might let the thirty cents go by with no more than a friendly whatever, but five dollars is definitely in the complaint zone.  I inform our friend that he has only given me fourteen dollars and he takes back a five dollar bill and hands me a ten from a separate stack of money he had hidden away.  This leads me to believe this is a pretty standard trick for our hustler with non-regular customers.  

So, with most of my change and a full tank of gas, I drive on to the show, swearing to never purchase gasoline along Route 130 in the Windsors again. 

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Mad Lib E-Mail

I receive a fair number of strange E-Mails, most of which are routed for other people, but sent to me.  Like the people trying to purchase an airplane in England or the homeowners trying to rent out their house using an agent.  I understand these E-Mails are odd because they are headed to the wrong sender.  However, today, someone I know took strange E-Mails to a level I could not fathom.

First, let me point out that I am a trained attorney.  As a trained attorney, we are taught that original thought is original sin and repurposing any scrap of previously created material is a frontline option in any situation.  It's not plagiarism, but expediency, since the law requires many tedious tasks to be repeated by various souls in all sorts of situations.  So, I come from a perspective that you can reuse materials in a lot of ways.  However, once you move from the professional sphere to the public sphere, I think you need to either give everyone something new or bring everyone together.  If I have a tremendous, A-Grade story that I need to tell people, I want to get them together, so they can gawk over the wreckage of my life as a group and develop wittier insights and quips about my foibles. 

This morning, I received an E-Mail from an old work acquaintance.  It took me a few minutes to realize what our relationship was.  Since we stopped working together, we never had occasion to speak.  When we did work together, we did not have lunch, but exchanged more than pleasantries, especially later in the day, when the camaraderie is built by those who stay to the end.  We were once friends on Facebook, but she unfriended me at some point in the past for reasons I neither know nor care about.  I went to her grandfather's funeral out of respect, but did not invite her to my wedding. 

Now, maybe it is because I am verbose or maybe because if I am going to reach out to someone, I give them a personal message, because if I don't care enough to give them a personal message, I don't care enough about them to write something impersonal.  So, I read the E-Mail, asked about the family, let me know how horrible it was that she hadn't reached out sooner and how terrible it was to be working on a Saturday morning, but still had time to reach out to others.  The E-Mail was then put aside as it was soccer morning and it takes a lot to move me away from a big game like Chelsea and Newcastle.  (Big in the sense that I captained Eden Hazard for my fantasy team and needed goals to cement my lead in our league.  Mission accomplished.)

About thirty minutes later, I get an E-Mail forwarded to me by a mutual friend from when we all used to work together.  Since my real friend sent me an E-Mail with the same title as the E-Mail I received, my curiosity was piqued.  Inside was essentially the same E-Mail, with the same structure.  Now, I don't mean the E-Mails were written by the same person and had a style and tone which were consistent.  But I mean, it was like she made up a Mad Lib form E-Mail and filled in the details that she knew about us, including a section to include our names in the E-Mail.

Aside from the greeting, I almost never reference someone's name a second time in an E-Mail or a letter, unless there is a specific point I want to make or on occasion, a stylistic touch to set up an especially funny and painful point.  But on the whole, I avoid it, since the reader is almost always certain of their own name and if they aren't, my mentioning it in passing in a missive is not going to change their lives. 

Below are some key sentences which I analyzed for consistency today.

"Hope all is well with you and your ______!"  I received wife, while my friend received family, since she is married with children.   

"I have said about a million times I need to write to ______ and somehow I have not :("  My copy had my name in the blank, while my friend's version had her name.  We both had the same emoticon.  

"Here I am working on Saturday morning with not many disruptions and thought what a perfect time to catch up with friends :)"  Word for word the same ending on both E-Mails.

Once I finished reading, I did the only responsible thing in my arsenal of tricks.  I forwarded my version of the E-Mail back to my friend and asked if it looked familiar, since giving the game away up front is no fun for the reader.  It was hysterical that our colleague thought she could send two people, who know each other well, the exact same Mad Lib E-Mail without getting caught on it.  I want to be impressed by the gall of it, but I'm not.  It's just awkward, though definitely gives rise to a great story about what not to do with people you know. 

So, I sit here, Mad Lib E-Mail unanswered, but dissected and discussed at length to make sure the appropriate level of comedy is given to these cut and paste jobs, which might have been acceptable in a professional sense, but not so much in a personal sense. 

Friday, February 7, 2014


Some days it is easy to write.  The words pour out of me quite easily.  Other days, I sit here and stare at the blank, white page as it asks me why nothing is being written.  Today is one of those days where I look at the page and have nothing to really say. 

It was not a bad day, in fact, it was a good day, since I get to spend another two weeks with Sweetiepig, who is by far my favorite animal in the world.  There is no greater joy to me than opening the door and seeing Sweetiepig tentatively creep out of her little castle.  Once she does that, I call to her and she starts to squeak, since she knows the door opening and my voice will lead to treats.  She accompanies her squeaks by trying to scramble up the front right of her cage.  Fortunately, guinea pigs are many great things, but agile climber is not one of them.  This is especially important, because Sweetiepig has an open cage and can sniff over the top. 

I always make sure the first thing I do when I get home is get Sweetiepig a treat.  It's an important part of our day and I suspect it makes her as happy as a rodent can be.  I don't know if she per se loves me, but it feels that way to me and in my worldview, that matters far more than the full emotional capacity of a rodent who brings me joy. 

Growing up, I never had a pet.  Well, I had a few goldfish who seldom lived to see the day of the week twice.  Actually, none of them ever lived that long, which was sad.  So, I spent most of my life without the companionship of an animal.  But about two years ago, Sweetiepig was adopted.  It was definitely one of the best days of my life and shaped a lot of what came after she arrived.  There is never a day that she doesn't make brighter and I have this habit of showing everyone Sweetiepig's picture with Santa Claus, which she gets taken every year.  She is in a lot of ways like a child, but with the benefit of never growing up, not needing nearly the care a child would and always bringing joy into my otherwise dark heart. 

I guess that's the thing about Sweetiepig, she can lighten any day with her presence or darken any page with letters near me with my thoughts and love for this wonderful little creature.  So, the next two weeks will certainly be filled with better, guinea pig laden days. 

Thursday, February 6, 2014

This Is Your Brain on Crowdfunding

Crowdfunding is really an ingenious concept.  It combines a focus group with fund raising.  Essentially, if you have an idea and think you can draw enough people to rally together the necessary funds to support your project, you have something.  It almost makes us all patrons of the arts, should we care enough to give to such highbrow causes. 

Well, pretending to be a high-minded individual, I decided to become a patron of the arts.  While I've yet to find a project on Kickstarter which appeals to me, although I was awfully close on the Jim Crockett Promotions Documentary, since I have an awful weakness for Southern wrestling from the 1980s.  You'd actually be hard pressed to find someone who grew up in New Jersey caring more about the Von Erichs, the Freebirds and Ric Flair than I did.  But I also thought, the DVD would get funded and if I wanted it, I would just buy it from Highspots when I wanted it, which as of this date, I've yet to do. 

However, aside from my weakness for wrestling, I have an even bigger weakness for third wave ska.  And third wave ska, being what it is, has found a new life in crowdfunding.  I actually only found out crowdfunding was a real phenomenon through Big Tunes, which I discovered in July.  The Slackers, who are my favorite band, as evidenced by the twelve times I've seen them live and the title of this blog, were putting out a new album and DVD and lyrics book.  But the catch was, that none of this would be made if there wasn't funding.

Well, I went to the Big Tunes site and debated how much I love vinyl and colored vinyl, which in my defense is not at all, as I own three records.  But I do love CDs and DVDs and I cannot tell you how badly I wanted a lyrics book that I can page through at my leisure.  So, I made my payment and began waiting.  Hopefully, by April, I should have my order, but in the interim, I already have the digital downloads of the new album and the bonus tracks and the bonus live set from Maxwell's, which includes a fantastic live version of And I Wonder?. 

Having enjoyed the experience so much, I made the plunge a second time.  Crazy Baldhead, which is a project from Agent Jay of the Slackers, was preparing to release a new album.  Surprisingly, amongst the 150 ska CDs I own, there were no Crazy Baldhead CDs.  So, with an option to get all three for a relatively cheap price, I made the plunge and ordered.  I've had the digital download of Boots Embraces for a few weeks now and really enjoyed it.  But the other day, I received an automated message that my order shipped.

Like most people, I love mail and packages, since it means something to fulfill my consumerist desires.  So, I tracked the package until it made it to my doorstep.  Literally, I checked today from inside my apartment and saw the package was out for delivery.  So, I opened my door and a thin sleeve fell into my apartment.  Opening it quickly, like we do with all packages, I was excited to see CDs inside.  The three Crazy Baldhead CDs were well represented in the package, with one in a plastic case and two in sleeves.  But when I opened it, I thought, did I get the wrong order, because on top was a copy of the Brooklyn Rocksteady Soundtrack, which I purchased from Sammy Kaye on the Slackers boat show this year.  What I quickly realized was that the CD was thrown in, as a way of saying thank you for supporting the efforts, which I thought was both great customer service and way to get me to pre-order again through Big Tunes, which I surely will.  The other good news is that I managed to misplace my Brooklyn Rocksteady Soundtrack and now don't have to contemplate replacing it.  Good times and great music ahead. 

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Trade Shows

Tomorrow, I'm off to a trade show, not of my own volition mind you, but to take a meeting.  Some people are in town for the big event of the year, which is the big benefit of living in the NYC area and I do need to get in touch with them.

In general, I'm not a huge fan of trade shows.  Everyone is there to sell you something.  For every great product you see, there are ten which are inferior or identify organizational failings in your own company you cannot fix.  I remember one year heading off and seeing a tool remarkably similar to our own for tracking people and data.  Since we billed our tool as state of the art, it was a little disappointing to see how many more reports and tracking features we wanted were in our competitor's tracking device.  Sometimes, it is just demoralizing. 

In my last two jobs, I was unable to attend the yearly trade show for the last three years.  Last year, I was in Philadelphia and by in Philadelphia, I mean living there Monday to Thursday.  I couldn't get out of going down to Philly for my project and if I could, at the time I couldn't justify driving there to and from each day, though little did I know two weeks later that would be my lot in life. 

Two years ago, we were forbidden from going, like small children.  Admittedly, after working seventy hours a week since May, I was not interested in piling on a trade show or a score card or a lunch salad onto my plate.  Still, I did not like being forbidden from going, as if I was a truculent child requiring a good scolding for my failings.  But I did get out of going to a trade show, which was not nearly worth the pain I suffered otherwise. 

Three years ago, I was all set to go, working in New York and really shouldn't have had reason not to go.  However, we had a problem, a problem, as the technical wizard and workflow savant I needed to fix.  So, I spent three days fixing problems by day and doing the dinner circuit by night.  The dinner circuit was actually better than the trade show, because I did get a good meal for my efforts in the dog and pony show, though admittedly, I also remember crying in a cab on the way to the train station at 11 PM, knowing nothing was fixed or solved, but tomorrow and an hour and a half on the train still loomed. 

An Olympiad ago, when I did get to attend, I spent half the day at the show and half the day trying to find a quiet place to direct things back at the office, since you can go nowhere without trouble coming to find you.  But I did a lot of walking, realized I didn't know nearly as many of my peers as I thought, and otherwise came home with a bag full of useless knick-knacks, pens and for some reason, an inflatable globe.  I never used the globe, but somehow felt it prudent to bring it home, where I eventually wisened up and tossed it in the garbage.

So, who knows what tomorrow holds, but hopefully, it will only be as tacky as the inflatable globe.