Archive for the ‘ Uncategorized ’ Category

Relationships in Books

In which I ramble on about some of the main relationships in some of my favourite books. This went far longer than I wanted it to, but since it took several tries, I’m not doing it again. I hope at least some of what I said in this made a little sense. If not, I apologize.

John Cena: Not (Quite) As Terrible As Everybody Thinks He Is

Due to a recent main event match on Monday Night RAW, there’s been a lot of talk on wrestling websites about John Cena and how much he does or doesn’t suck. I don’t read comments on sites like that, because wrestling fans who comment on shit on the internet are a bunch of fucking retards. Everybody knows how things should be, and any attempt to convince them otherwise are ridiculed and dismissed.

With that in mind, this is my attempt to put into words my opinion of John Cena and whether or not he sucks. I don’t know how many of you are wrestling fans, but generally speaking, unless you’re either a woman or gay dude who’s attracted to Cena, or a child under the age of ten, you probably hate Cena. It’s pretty much just accepted in the wrestling world that John Cena is to be hated. People have their reasons, and are entitled to feel however they wish about him. For my money, however, John Cena is not as bad as he’s made out to be, and I’m going to tell you why.

He can’t wrestle. This, in my opinion, is a horse shit reason to hate Cena. As a wrestling fan, it’s impossible to miss that yes, he is limited in the ring. He can’t do high flying moves, and he has the same move set he always uses, every match. I’m not here to say John Cena is the most talented in-ring performer of all time. I’m not even here to say he’s a good in-ring performer. What I am saying is that he is no worse than average in ring. He’s not nearly as bad as a lot of guys out there, and for people who make the argument that a top guy should be a great performer, I’d like to point out arguably the two biggest wrestling stars of all-time: Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant. You think either of those two were great wrestlers? Hogan’s finisher was a leg drop and he couldn’t sell for shit. At least Cena comes off the ropes for his leg drop. If this is the reason you choose for hating Cena, wake the fuck up. The dude can wrestle. Not particularly well, but not particularly badly either.

He’s being shoved down our throats. Yes, he is. Congratulations on being aware of things that are happening around you. If you opened your eyes a little wider, you’d see that no matter who was the “top guy”, you’d be sick of him by now. The Rock is a part-time worker now. Austin is retired. Wrestling fans were spoiled by those two. For a decade, the WWE had two top guys who were charismatic as fuck and who they’d all tune in to watch every week, regardless of what was going on. But they’re the exception, not the rule. Somebody had to fill their role, and options weren’t exactly endless. Look at the guys who came around when Cena did. Randy Orton? How many times has he been suspended? He’s a liability, and that’s why he’ll never be the guy. Batista? Retired. Lesnar lasted all of what, two years? Look at the other big names who’ve come and gone since Cena came around. Shawn Michaels? Retired. Triple H? Semi-retired/focused on running the company. Kurt Angle? Working for TNA. Edge? Retired. Undertaker? Works one match a year. Kane? Never would have fit in as “the guy”. Jericho? He’s been in and out for almost eight years now. JBL? Retired. John Cena was the answer to the question “Who’s next?” WWE needed somebody to push to sell merchandise and promote the company. He was the best of a bad situation, and he’s been smart enough to not fuck it up. You can hate him for that if you want. Just as long as you admit you’d feel the same damn way about any of the other options WWE had at the time.

His behind-the-scene pull. Of course he has pull there. He’s the top star of the company, the biggest draw. And of course he’s going to use it. If you were the king of the mountain and some asshole came along with designs on taking over and possessing the ability to actually get it done, what would you do? You’d squash him like a fucking bug before he got the chance. Anybody who hates on Cena for this is a moron. Everybody does this. You think Steve Austin went around recruiting people to take his spot? You think he saw the Rock coming up and thought “Yeah, this will be great!”. Fuck no. He shit his pants and started sweating bullets. And that actually makes another argument for me: despite Austin already being the guy, and at the time, not really looking like he was going away anytime too soon, the Rock still managed to rise up. People can talk all they want about the Rock only really coming out when Austin was out injured, but that’s bullshit. The Rock was coming up while Austin was healthy and at the top of his game. If somebody is good enough, they will rise up, regardless of who is or isn’t trying to keep them down. The fact that nobody has even come close to dethroning Cena should tell you exactly what you need to know about the prospects that have come up since he came to power. The closest we’ve come over recently is CM Punk, and it’s not like he’s some young guy who can carry the company for the next ten-fifteen years.

His gimmick. Of all the reasons people hate him, I think this one is the most legit. His gimmick is bullshit. He no-sells every move. Actually, no, that’s not right. He sells the move, but then jumps up three seconds later, perfectly fine. It’s a superman gimmick, essentially. I think it’s fucking stupid, and it should have never happened. I’m not sure how much of it is him, and how much of it is his character, but it’s all retarded either way. I’m not going to defend this one. What I will say is this: how much of the hatred of Cena is at least influenced by this reason? It seems to me like the people who say he can’t wrestle are just saying that because they’re frustrated by the no-selling aspect of the gimmick, but don’t know how to articulate it properly. They see him take a chokeslam one second, then deliver the AA the next and think, “That’s not what’s supposed to happen”. And they’re right. But that doesn’t mean he can’t wrestle. It means he’s just not selling moves. Yes, it’s an aspect of wrestling, but over time and after enough “You can’t wrestle” chants, it turns from ‘Cena doesn’t sell’ to ‘Cena is the most incompetent retarded excuse for a wrestler who’s ever lived’. And it’s bullshit.

That’s why Cena hits a hurricanrana in a match, and everybody blows up. Because it’s not normal. And for one second, everybody remembers Cena actually isn’t the worst wrestler since Giant Gonzalez.

In my opinion, John Cena is this: an average performer with a good look, a frustrating and tired gimmick, and an almost uncanny ability to irritate the shit out of everybody simply by existing. Fifteen years ago, he’s a mid-card guy at best. Probably wins the US championship seventeen times before he retires. Circumstances, the fact that he’s not addicted to pills, and him being extremely durable from a physical standpoint put him in the position he’s in today. On top of that, despite all the hate, he sells a metric shitton of merchandise. And when he’s in a match, listen to the crowd. No matter who he’s wrestling, the only chants you hear are “Let’s go Cena” and “Cena sucks”. He gets a sustained, thunderous reaction, positive or negative, and that’s more than you can say for pretty much everybody else.

The point is this: Cena isn’t as bad as most make him out to be. ‘Blinded by hatred’ fits here. He’s not as good as his fans make him out to be either, I’m sure, though I can’t say I know any real Cena fans. Despite the fact he’s been the top guy for almost a decade now, people can’t seem to accept the fact their boos mean nothing. He’s here to stay until he retires. Your boos actually help him more than they hurt. As long as you’re booing, he’s going to keep getting the biggest reaction of everybody. And as long as he keeps doing that, he’s going to stay on top. Just remember that.

The Truth About Honesty

As most of you know, I recently instituted a new honesty policy In my life. At this point, I’ve only been at it for around three weeks, but I’ve already noticed a few things that I’d like to point out. I’m not going to be dishing out deep lessons here, but there’ve been certain things that have happened as a direct result of me being more truthful and open and I thought they were interesting enough for me to write about them. Sort of observations, if you will.

First off, being honest is a lot harder than I thought it would be. If movies or television or books were to be believed, it would be the easiest thing in the world. You’d just say whatever was on your mind, however you really felt, and it would all be good. But that’s some serious bullshit right there. Right off the start, if you’ve got a shred of decency in you, you’re always going to have to balance the truth with the harm it could do to people around you. If everybody told every person they knew how they truly felt about them, nobody would fucking talk to each other. We’d all have six friends, and everybody else would either hate us or not give a single fuck about us at all.

People lie for a reason, keep things to themselves for a reason. I think that reason can fall into three categories: they fear the reaction their truth would bring down on them, they fear the damage their truth could do to somebody else, or they’re trying to influence situations or events to favour themselves by withholding certain information.

Let’s talk about the first reason for a moment. Whether the extent of the backlash is as harsh as they think it will be or not, there are consequences for every action. And the fact of the matter is, when you’re talking about honesty and truth, you’re talking about people. People who think and feel and have fucking minds of their own. There is no way to really know how people are going to react to things. It’s like that saying ‘the truth will set you free’. Will it? Will it really? It might, or it might not. You don’t know. You can’t know. All you’ve got is your imagination, and that’s what made you lie or withhold in the first place.

Let’s say you did something that would undoubtedly piss one of your best friends off. So you lied about it, passed the blame or just tried to pull yourself out of the situation, and he or she bought your lie. For whatever reason, some time down the road, you decide you’re going to come clean. The truth will set you free. If it was a movie or whatever, your friend would forgive you. He or she would understand your position and that would be the end of it. Maybe a little resentment carries over, but that would get resolved near the end of the movie. In real life, yeah, that could happen. Or your friend could punch you in the mouth. Or burn your fucking house down. Or never speak to you again. Or just shrug and not give a fuck.

You can’t know how people are going to react, is what I’m driving at. It’s impossible, unless you develop the ability to read minds. So every time you tell the truth, it’s a crap-shoot. Because you don’t know how people will react, and you don’t even necessarily know that even though you believe what you’re saying is a good thing, that they’ll see it the same way. That’s the issue when you’re dealing with intelligence, man. You’ve got no way of knowing whether or not what you’re saying is going to bring nothing at all, or a goddamn shit storm of legendary proportions. So, use caution when telling the truth, I guess haha.

And that all leads into the bravery/cowardice aspect of truth-telling. It’s unavoidable, really. Being a good guy has always been tried to being honest, and being an evil scumbag always goes hand in hand with lying. That’s in our heads, man. Disney movies, kid’s book, and even stories our parents tell us as kids put that shit in there, and by the time we’re old enough to realize it’s not nearly that black and white, it’s so deeply ingrained it’s almost impossible to get it out.

I don’t think there’s anything inherently good about being honest, or inherently bad about lying. It’s all a judgement call, man. Every time somebody chooses to go one way or the other, they’re making that call based on some kind of internal system of judgement. Now, maybe that system is flawed in some way. That’s not the point. The point is just because somebody lies, it doesn’t mean they were trying to be an asshole or trying to be evil or bad. And just because somebody tells you the truth, it doesn’t mean they’re a good person, or are doing a good thing. They’re doing what they decided is the best thing to do in the situation, at that time. People need to remember that.

The final thing I’ve noted, and probably the most important, actually ties back into one of my earlier points. Just like you can’t know how people are going to react to the truth, you also can’t know if they really want the truth. You can’t know that, because they can’t know that. People can tell you they want the truth, but it’s one of those things where it’s really impossible to make that call without knowing all the factors. They can’t know if they really wanted the truth until it’s already been given to them. Until they know what that truth is, it’s just an abstract concept that can be seen as either desirable to know or not.

That’s part of why I found it so difficult to complete those honesty responses to the people who liked my status a little while back. Yes, they volunteered to hear the truth from me. They wanted to hear it. But what if I’d said something they didn’t like? Would they have still wanted it? I can’t answer that. That’s the point. There’s no way to know.

Either way, once you decide to say something, it’s out there, man. You can’t take it back. You could try, I suppose. You could come up with excuses, try to play it all off as a joke. But I’ve got a little more faith in the basic ability to see through bullshit most people seem to have. They will see through your lies and shit will be so much worse. That’s where the cowardice comes in for me. If you say something, whether you regret it or not, whether you want to take it back or not, you stick by it. If you thought it was important enough to say in the first place, you don’t back away from it. Don’t be a little bitch about it, essentially.

I guess the main thing I’m trying to get across with that last point is this: you need to figure out whether you really want the truth. Sometimes, you’re not going to have a choice. People are going to give it to you whether you ask for it or not. I’m going to do that, because I’ve told you all that I will, and I’m not a little bitch.

But I’m the exception, not the rule in this scenario. Most of the time, you’re going to have the opportunity to ask for the truth. You need to take some time right now and figure out whether you want the truth and all the good or bad it could bring with it, or if you’d rather just live and let people figure out for themselves what to tell you.

I made my choice. I’d rather have the truth, in every situation, regardless of how you think it would make me feel. I’m a grown-ass man and I’ll handle whatever people tell me, for better or worse. But not everybody is built like me, and you all should figure out what works for you. Don’t just think about it for ten seconds and say ‘yeah, this or that is the way for me’. Be malleable. Take everything into consideration. Be willing to change your position based on the situation. Accept that neither lying nor honesty are inherently one way or the other.

That’s all I got.

Later.

Top 5 Albums of 2012

When I decided to choose what I felt were the best five album released this past year, I thought it would be difficult. I thought I’d have to comb through a shitload of music and narrow it down repeatedly until I found the five best. But I was wrong. It was easy. I had bit of a struggle with number five (my final choice only narrowly edged out two other pretty awesome albums), but other than that, it was simple. In my opinion, the albums I’ve chosen blew away the competition. And not by a small margin.

Obviously, I realize people have different musical taste. Honestly, it would surprise me if many (or any) of you saw things the way I do. But for my money, the following five albums were the best releases of 2012.
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5. Adrenaline Mob – Omertà

Excellent first release for Adrenaline Mob. There aren’t any tracks on this album that I skip over when I’m listening to it. I think it got a bit of a bad turn because it was more rock than metal, but I didn’t find it to be an issue. I don’t really give a shit what genre music is considered to be. If it’s good, it’s good, and this album is good.

Top three tracks: Indifferent, All on the Line, and Angel Sky.

4. Overkill – The Electric Age

Not much to say here. Awesome thrash album. Overkill is a brutal band. They’ve been killing it for over thirty years and this is just another great example of that.

Top three tracks: Wish You Were Dead, All Over but the Shouting, and Black Daze.

3. Three Days Grace – Transit of Venus

At first, I wasn’t a big fan of this album. It wasn’t what I was expecting from them, and that sort of put me off it. But I came around pretty quickly. This is their best album. They tried some new shit, and in my opinion, it worked well. It’s a really solid effort, and just like with Adrenaline Mob’s Omertà there aren’t any songs I skip over.

Top three tracks: Operate, The High Road, and Expectations.

2. Testament – Dark Roots of Earth

This was by far the best thrash album of the year. It really reminded me of their earliest efforts, but bigger. It’s just a really solid thrash metal album. You can look at a metric shit-ton of other bands from the 80s that have changed their sound with the time, and arguably suffered for it. Testament hasn’t, and their shit just keeps getting better and better. Buy this album.

Top three tracks: Rise Up, True American Hate, and Throne of Thorns.

1. Stone Sour – House of Gold & Bones – Part 1

Stone Sour is one of the best bands out there, and this album is another piece of evidence that supports that. There are style shifts with nearly every song, but it’s not jarring at all. The whole album is a masterpiece, and you should listen to it. That’s really all I can say. Buy this album, and listen to it on repeat. It’s fucking awesome. And there will be another one next year.

Top three tracks: Last of the Real, Absolute Zero, and Tired.
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Honourable mention goes to Soundgarden’s King Animal and Kreator’s Phantom Antichrist.

Recommended Songs

For the following list, I picked a single song from some of the bands I listen to regularly. The songs I picked are the ones I’d recommend to a person if I wanted them to get into each band. It was difficult to narrow all the options down to a single song, and honestly, I’m still not sure I went with the correct choice in each case. But it is what it is. Hope this gets people listening to some different music.

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10 Years – Russian Roulette
A Perfect Circle – The Outsider
Adrenaline Mob – Indifferent
Alice in Chains – Rain When I Die
All That Remains – The Air That I Breathe
Audioslave – What You Are
Avenged Sevenfold – Nightmare
Black Label Society – Stillborn
Breaking Benjamin – Away
Cold – It’s All Good
Danzig – She Rides
Death – Zero Tolerance
Demon Hunter – One Thousand Apologies
DevilDriver – Back With a Vengeance
Disturbed – Leave It Alone
Dommin – Closure
Dope – Pig Society
Down – Learn From This Mistake
Dream Theater – As I Am
Exodus – Open Season
Finger Eleven – Slow Chemical
Five Finger Death Punch – Meet the Monster
Foo Fighters – The Pretender
Fozzy – Let the Madness Begin
Fuel – Down Inside of You
Godsmack – Temptation
Hail the Villain – Glad to Be
Halestorm – Innocence
Hellyeah – Stand or Walk Away
Hinder – Waking Up the Devil
Ill Niño – Violent Saint
Killswitch Engage – Reckoning
Kreator – Under the Guillotine
Kyle Turley – Another Whiskey
Led Zeppelin – What Is and What Should Never Be
Machine Head – Aesthetics of Hate
Megadeth – Tornado of Souls
Metallica – For Whom the Bell Tolls
Motorhead – God Was Never On Your Side
Mudvayne – World So Cold
Nine Inch Nails – Every Day Is Exactly the Same
Nonpoint – Past It All
Pantera – I’m Broken
Pop Evil – Hero
Puddle of Mudd – Blurry
Puscifer – The Undertaker
Rev Theory – Ten Years
Saliva – Hate Me
Seether – FMLYHM
Shinedown – Begin Again
Sick Puppies – You’re Going Down
Slayer – Payback
Slipknot – Before I Forget
Sodom – Sodomy and Lust
Soil – Remember
Staind – Something to Remind You
Stereoside – Tattoo
Stone Sour – Inhale
Superjoint Ritual – The Knife Rises
Testament – Face in the Sky
Three Days Grace – Last to Know
Tool – Vicarious
Trivium – Throes of Perdition
Type O Negative – Anesthesia
Velvet Revolver – She Builds Quick Machines
Zakk Wylde – Sold My Soul

My Top Ten Favourite WWE Entrance Themes

I was watching No Way Out, and while bored as fuck by that retarded Tuxedo match, I decided to make a list of my top ten favourite entrance themes. I struggled a bit to narrow it down to ten, since on my original list I came up with 12. But in the end, these are the ten I picked. They aren’t all current, and not all of the Superstars are even still with the company. But here you go.

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10. Next Big Thing (Brock Lesnar)

9. Break the Walls Down (Chris Jericho)

8. Just Close Your Eyes (Christian)

7. Written in My Face (Sheamus)

6. I Walk Alone (Batista)

5. Metalingus (Edge)

4. Line in the Sand (Evolution)

3. Voices (Randy Orton)

2. The Game (Triple H)

1. Slow Chemical (Kane)

Drive: A Comparison

Recently, I watched the film Drive. I’d heard a lot about it from people—pretty much universally good—so I figured it was time. And I enjoyed it. The story was entertaining, the performances were intense, and the visuals were great. What’s not to like about that? But that made me want to read the book it was based on: “Drive” by James Sallis. Once I did, and saw the similarities and differences between the two, I decided I wanted to write a little bit about them. That’s what this is.

Warning: the following post contains spoilers for both the movie and book version of Drive. So, if you don’t want to know what happens, probably best to move on now.

Right off the start, I want to say that overall, I preferred the movie to the book. That’s important because anybody who reads knows that the book is generally better than the movie. It’s not a rule, but it might as well be. Ask anybody about pretty much any book-turned-movie, and you’ll probably get the same answer: The book was better. But in this case, I give the edge to the movie. Don’t get me wrong; the book is very good as well, but in a different way than the movie. The combination of visuals, acting, and story in the movie make it stand out.

The first, and probably largest difference between the two is the storyline. The movie is simple; it has a beginning, a middle, and an end. They are all exactly where you expect (and maybe want) them to be. The book is a little different. The story style is non-linear. Things happen out of order. It starts with the Blanche scene, right after she gets her head taken off with a shotgun, and then weaves in and out of the past with no real order to it. It’s an interesting style, and one that doesn’t always work. The remarkably short chapters in “Drive” allow it to work well, but it would be a different story if it was the same in the movie. I’m not saying it would have been impossible, but it would have been difficult. There would have been a huge possibility of confusion amongst viewers.

Characters. Even though the majority of the characters are essentially the same, there are some notable differences. Foremost, in my mind, is Bernie Rose. In the movie, he’s played by Albert Brooks, and is the partner of Nino. While the basic foundation of the character remains the same in both versions, with the book, you get a much deeper look into his life. You see a little more of his personality, a little more of why he is how he is. He’s tired of his life, tired of getting fucked over by Nino, and tired of Los Angeles. He’s a much more interesting character in the book, layered and with some depth to him. I like Albert Brooks, and I thought he did a good job in the movie, but movie Bernie just doesn’t compare to book Bernie.

Other than that, the character differences are fairly minor. In the book, the character of “Irene”, played by Carey Mulligan, is “Irina”. She’s essentially the same character, except she’s Latina. Shannon is still Driver’s mentor, but his role is much smaller in the book; he took Driver in, helped get him into the business, but was killed in a stunt gone wrong long before the main plotline of the story takes place. Standard is the same character, though in the book, the robbery he gets killed in has nothing to do with prison debt; he just wanted money.

The other main character difference comes in the way of secondary characters from the book who didn’t make the movie. Two come immediately to mind: Doc and Manny. In the book, Doc is an old man who sews Driver up whenever he fucks up (after he slices his arm up in the hotel attack scene). Manny is a writer friend of Driver’s who he talks to several times, sort of like a wise friend who gives advice. Neither were particularly central to the plot, so I can see why they were left out.

Several details were changed as well. I mentioned Standard’s different motives for the robbery that gets him killed. That robbery and the one that gets Driver in all the trouble (the one with Blanche) are not the same robbery in the book. The amount of money they end up with is less in the book). In the book, Driver’s first real violent action (not counting the first chapter, which takes place directly after he kills the two men in the hotel room), is when he finds a couple thug kids around his car and punches one in the throat with his key before they can jump him. The whole racecar plot point is absent from the book. The relationship between Irina and Driver is pretty much the same, but it’s a lot less developed in the book. It’s more mentioned in passing than anything else; no grocery store scene, no broken down car and rides home. Irina is killed accidently, right in front of Driver, and Benicio is shipped off to his grandparents. Cook is a low-rent thug in the book, and Driver kills him, not Bernie. The assassin from the elevator is absent in the book; instead, we get a kid who Driver catches and forces to jump off a second-story balcony. Nino’s death is less dramatic in the book; Driver simply shoots him when he comes out to collect his newspaper from his driveway in the morning. In the final scene in the book, Driver still kills Bernie, but is not injured in the fight.

Despite the similarities between Driver in the book and Driver in the movie, there are some fairly important differences. He’s more talkative in the book, more willing to initiate conversation with pretty much anyone. He’s also more prone to initiating violence, rather than reacting to it. In the movie, almost all of his kills are in self-defense. The only person he actively pursues and kills is Nino. In the book, he attacks/kills the kid standing by his car, and Junior (Bernie’s partner). He also actively stalks Nino and Bernie, staking out Nino’s restaurant and Bernie’s apartment, and playing mind games with both. The book, of course, also gives backstory, about Driver’s family, childhood, how he grew up, and how he ended up in LA.

In the end, story-wise, I give the edge to the book. There’s just so much more detail, and a lot of interesting character information that was not given (or was much reduced) in the movie. But the movie still comes out ahead because of the visual appeal and the acting performances.

Nino is an asshole. Ron Perlman plays a convincing asshole. It was a match made in asshole heaven.

Even though I preferred the book versions of both Bernie and Shannon, Albert Brookes and Bryan Cranston are talented actors, and I liked both of their characters. They were both vastly different from the book versions, but what they were was well-played.

It’s hard to argue with Christina Hendricks as Blanche, mostly because she’s smoking hot.

With Irina/Irene, I’m not really sure why they didn’t go with a Latina actress, but in the end, I don’t think it matters. I believed Driver was close to Carey Mulligan. She did a good job.

And we can’t forget about Ryan Gosling. Dude’s a good actor, charismatic. I think he did an excellent job. He really pulled off the switch between quiet, unassuming guy to ultra-violent killer when he had to. Nailed it, as it were.

And that’s pretty much it. In the end, we’re left with two pretty drastically different stories that share many common elements. Both are awesome and entertaining, in their own ways. The movie, in my opinion, is better. Maybe you feel differently. I don’t know; I don’t read minds. Either way, I recommend watching the movie and reading the book, as soon as you get a chance.

Later.