Thursday, December 08, 2005

#117. NaNoWriMo Buddies, More Eidolon, Wrestling

Strangely enough, I've never read The Book of Job or The Bhagavadgita, though I had intended to upon commencing writing my story. Things just didn't turn out that way...However, a book I was reading at the time helped shape a few more elements within the story, Erik Larson's The Devil in the White City, which concerns the Chicago World's Fair of 1893 (or, the Columbian Exposition, meant to commemorate the four-hundreth anniversary of o' Christopher Colmbus' stumbling into the New World, although they still believed at the time he did it intentionally, or maybe most people did, anyway...heck, they still do now...). The envisioning of the White City, or the grounds of the fair, helped to inform Tekamthi's efforts within Traverse, adding still more color to the world I so enjoyed exploring.

That being said, my efforts were sealed within a vacuum (there's a funny story about a family vacuum I will no get into here). This year I participated in NaNoWriMo in a community of writers from Digital Webbing. A few of these fellow participants were gracious enough to list my blog on their own efforts, and although I never got around to reciprocating the favor, I can make up for that, in some small way, here:

**Jason Rodriguez wrote Complex, and I believe that was the first to be completed within the group. It's a first-person narrative he describes as a satirical romance. Jason has an even more ambitious effort running this year, The Moose in the Closet.

**Joshua Hale Fialkov wrote The Miller, a sort of pulp thriller set in 1940's Pittsburgh, the first in a promised series of tales featuring the eponymous hero. Fialkov is also creator of the acclaimed Elk's Run comic book.

**Ron Phillips started writing Requiem for a Boxer, but alas, didn't finish. His wife succeeded, though.

**Paul Brian DeBerry, with whom I worked on a pitch called (variously) Shotgun Samurai and Masterless Samurai (his creation, my answered solicitation at DW), began The Perfectly Ugly Rug, but didn't finish.

**Ray Dillon, from Golden Goat Studios, also entered, and through a furious endgame succeeded, though there isn't an Internet version to link to. He was by far the most enthusiastic of the DWers, at least in his online commentaries through his progress reports.

I do have some regrets. One is that I didn't title the chapters this time around, as you might have noticed. Last year's were crafted to serve as pseudo-comic-inspired ("The Secret Origin of the Eidolon" being the most obvious) novelties. Part of the reason I didn't set out to do that this year was because there was less of a comic book feel this time around, though I still wish I had the titles, to serve as better touchstones (if I wanted to spend yet more time here on these stories, I would then produce brief synopses of each chapter, but I'm not yet that mad). I also wish that I could have made an effort to read some other participants' work, as I did last year (though the one I was most interested in was never completed, as far as I know). At least with the DW community, I have a few I can always go back to, because now that I've laid this blueprint out, I can't easily forget them.

Maybe I'll speak more of this later, and maybe I'll start redirecting this time to more productive matters, too...

Did I mention I actually did go mad last week? Yeah, I purchased the WrestleMania Anthology boxset at FYE, because they had a terrific price for it. I only overlap event ownership with the last four years, so that's not too bad. And my nearly-month-long search for Eddie Guerrero: Cheating Death, Stealing Life (the DVD, that is) in local stores finally came to fruition, and it happened at Newbury, my comic book savior, which makes it perfectly karmic in some ways. I've also picked up a DVD collection that features old A.J. Styles matches as well as a NWA reunion shows that will hopefully give me a bit of the flavor from independent scene I've only really read about in the pages of the PWI 500 each year, as well as other Pro Wrestling Illustrated publications.

Yeah, and I've been buying too many DVDs lately, or at least way more than I ever have in the past, but that's for my finances to grumble over.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

#116. Links to Each Chapter of Angry Avenger and Repose of the Eidolon

And now to make it easy to read this saga, in its two curent installments (next year promises a third, which obvious foreshadowing in the second as to what the subject matter may be, but if it isn't obvious enough, I'll just say Iliad):

Colinaude, the Angry Avenger

1: The Engine That Was
2: Objects in Motion
3: Says the Hopper
4: Against the Ropes
5: Fit to Print
6: Where There's A Solvent, There's A Way
7: Signal Devices
8: So, Was It Random Or Was It Not?
9: I Think I Smell A Rat
10: Something Snared
11: The Battle of Mad Jack's
12: Disjointed
13: Luck, And Who Should Have It
14: Highs And Otherwise
15: Conversation With Godsend
16: A Conversation Continued
17: The Man Comes Around
18: Bars And Maidens
19: All The News
20: Dinner, Lunch, It's All The Same
21: Good News For People Who Like Bad News
22: What Lou Saw
23: The Night, The Night
24: A Hold On Things
25: Direct Current
26: The Fate Of Peter Cooley
27: The Secret Origin Of The Eidolon
28: The Angry Avenger
29: The Cad
Epilogue

Repose of the Eidolon

One
Two
Three
Four
Five
Six
Seven
Eight
Nine
Ten
Eleven
Twelve
Thirteen
Fourteen
Fifteen
Sixteen
Seventeen
Eighteen
Nineteen
Twenty
Twenty-One
Twenty-Two
Twenty-Three
Twenty-Four
Twenty-Five
Twenty-Six
Twenty-Seven
Twenty-Eight

And more yet of this to come...

#115. Origins of Repose of the Eidolon, Eddie Guerrero

So, here that account is, a week later:

The origins of Repose of the Eidolon do not end at last year's Colinaude, the Angry Avenger. It began as a sort of Bhagavadgita, the Hindu epic that detailed a dialogue between a common man heading into battle with the disguised God Krishna. That's exactly what it was for most of the twelve months leading into the actual writing, since I'd had the notion from the completion of the original story, wherein the retirement of Cotton Colinaude, the Eidolon, was related. He still had much pain, and the follow-up, the name of which was also an early development, was meant to explore that, as much if not moreso than the first installment had detailed the pain of the path that had led him there. In October, when NaNoWriMo began gearing up again, I visited the official forums and introduced a topic on superheroes, where I first realized there was more to this story than just the conversation I intended between Colinaude (the so-called god) and a still-unformulated common man (Arjuna in the Indian work). Drawing on another great world religion, I realized I could tell a Job story just as well, just easily, with the framework I'd set up. Job, after all, spends much of his time, not just losing everything, but having a conversation with God as well, attempting to make reason out of all this. He's not just a man with great patience.

So from there, I added two more stories, that of Alexander the Great, which I became familiar with by the end of the month through Oliver Stone's unsung masterpiece Alexander, and Jin Sun Woo, from another masterpiece, television's Lost, through his plight described in the episode "...In Translation." Both very much helped to shape the central character of Balthazar Romero, who had his own delusions of grandeur, as well as actions he very much needed to rationalize. From this pinstripe I hung the destruction of his dreams (Job) and the illumination of his life as well as every other (Job/Arjuna), not only with Colinaude but a collection of characters, some already establshed (Hopper) and others newly created (Tekamthi). The mythology of the city these characters inhabit, Traverse, continued, as it had in the first story, to inform on every development, as it secrets slowly revealed themselves. In addition, several characters were put into the spotlight so as to illustrate particular elements important to Balthazar/Colinaude's journey.

...And yeah, so we arrive at the paradox of the story, that Balthazar is eventually revealed to be, in all actuality, Colinaude himself. This was not the original intention. The attack of Lotus was, but not its particularly dire consequences, the apparent death of Balthazar roughly two-thirds into the story. This occured around the time professional wrestler Eddie Guerrero unexpectedly passed away. When a death like that happens, you can't help but take renewed stock in the meaning of life, how you can't always count on everything to always be there, even if this particular element was never more personal to me than a favorite performer in the carnival of sports entertainment. I decided, on the day I read of Eddie's death, that I was going to bring that notion to life. I was going to kill Balthazar Romero, the main character of my story. Nothing would make it so obvious.

As it happened, the attack of Lotus was scheduled around the same time, so I took advantage and did the deed right there and then. This might be be accurately reflected in the "publishing" dates on the story blog, because I had been compensating around that time, making up for missed days (there was a total of two at that point, and never another after) by stamping a date with a "Forthcoming" message on a day I couldn't actually deliver and going back later with the edit feature, which didn't leave a mark saying it had been so edited. The illusion was that I was keeping track just as I wanted to, while I really wasn't. I had gotten myself into a trap. I'd set out, as I had last year, to write so many words a day, which might not have been a problem if I hadn't missed a day or two along the way, but I missed those days and thought the only way to compensate would be to try and write two chapters on given days, which I was able to do, but not enough. I eventually realized if I just stopped trying to write within the original daily wordcount, I wouldn't get into so much trouble, and that's how I made my way to the finish line, that and renewed determination to not skip anymore days if I could help it, and I didn't have to.

Speaking of wordcount, there was also the matter of not having a proper word processing program for most of the month, as I've mentioned before. In the last leg, I was finally able to remedy that, with the help of my sister (God, I don't mean Colinaude, bless her). It was in this way that I learned the wordcount program I'd been using all this time was not entirely accurate, but there was plenty of time to compensate once more, which I did, and by the time I compiled all of the material for a full count, on the Tuesday before the final day of the exercise, I did not have to sweat the extra couple thousand I needed, because I had already long since abandoned the thrifty mindset that had initially doomed me. What's more, I found it was not so hard writing. From the deathj of Balthazar onward, I found I had plenty to write for, and could improvise just as well when needed. Several character vignettes came about this way.

It probably didn't hurt that I walked a lot in November. It gave me plenty of time to think.

All of which is to say, as planned as this story was, it was still mostly improvization, on most accounts. I'm glad I was able to compensate. I'm glad I was able to win, again. Thanks to NaNoWriMo for the motivation.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

#114. Repose of the Eidolon Completed

Does this say enough? I will give a full accounting later, but sufficed to say, Repose of the Eidolon has been completed. Another success! Woot!

Sunday, November 06, 2005

#113. Repose of the Eidolon, Lost, Devil in the White City

Okay! So yeah, I could be spending this time actually writing Repose of the Eidolon, but you might as well know some of the factors that've complicated its creation. One is that I don't have a functioning word processing program at the moment. In lieu of one, I've used two separate (on the first day, I employed one particular method, which was using an old college service that was proving inadequate because it thought inexplicably dropping spaces into the documents was a good thing) replacements to compensate, as well as a word count program I found online, plus a message board for spelling checking purposes. One might assume, given all this, that I could merely write each chapter right here with Blogger (which yesterday thought it'd be great to perform maintenance and scare me into thinking I couldn't post the fourth chapter or cheat and footprint the fifth, as I've now done for the sixth today, with both actually being written in the next two days). I don't want to do that, if only to create the illusion, for myself, that I'm actually doing some editing along the way.

So yeah, I'm a bit behind, but I've been taking steps to compensate in that regard, too. In the first week I had still been thinking I could approach this with a cocky attitude, because I'd discovered I could pump chapters out in an hour or so, which kept pushing further and further back when I would actually write them. On Friday this bit me in the ass, as it was the day that I didn't actually end up writing a chapter (although I did manage the outline for the entire story, which I thought was at least equally valuable a contribution). Today seeming otherwise (really, it's still a matter of time), the story is now going to become my priority, which means I will concentrate on writing chapters first and having my fun later, actually enjoying my time off from work (well, as much as I can) when not watching Lost (first season DVD or the current run, where Sawyer (gasp!) appears to be on the chopping block) or attempting to keep up my reading (currently: The Devil and the White City) and maybe getting to some of those DVD extras for all the movies I've been buying lately.

The effect is that I won't have to worry at all, and this is none too early in the month to make such a resolve. This being the second year, it's nice to have such perspective. More of that arrives in knowing I have a community from Digital Webbing to share the experience with, besides my nonexistant readers here at the Monk.

There's also plenty to talk about where wrestling is concerned, but I'll get to that later.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

#112. Repose of the Eidolon, Leopold's Concentration

The band's started up again. Repose of the Eidolon is now in its second day as this year's NaNoWriMo effort. I've been frustrated in efforts to locate a key note for the story, but otherwise things have gone well enough. I've gotten three different word totals for the first chapter, but I'm going with the last one, which puts me behind (unlike the first two) the roughly 1667 words I'd need to write each day for 30 days (the general schema I employed last year and tried again with Leopold's Concentration). Today I went over by a couple of words, and have reached the staggering (well, not really) total-to-date of 3227 words. Balthazar Romero is turning out to be a potent way to channel this this tale. It's come fairly easily so far, which is a good thing, and nothing I've written I gave previous thought toward, which is another good thing.

Well, more later.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

#111. NaNoWriMo 2.0, Repose of the Eidolon, Leopold's Concentration


Okay! It's just about that time again, and by that, I mean National Novel Writing Month, and of course I'm participating again, for the second year. Following the personal success of Colinaude, the Angry Avenger, I'm gearing up for its sure-to-be-riveting sequel, Repose of the Eidolon, which I hope will unfold much the same way as its predecessor, as daily chapters (and not like Leopold's Concentration, which I still haven't returned to (though not for lack of inspiration). So starting next month, I should be chatting here regularly again for those who happen to drop by. I haven't lost interest in wrestling since July, either, just the time to talk about it here, for anyone who might be wondering. Anyway, the Monk is back in business, so I hope to see you around. There's plenty to talk about, and that's exactly what I intend to do.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

#110. WWE Draft 2005

Reactions to the draft:

RAW
John Cena
Who it benefits - John Cena, first and foremost. The Doctor of Thuganomincs can only benefit from a change of scenery and the chance to compete in what's perceived as the premier brand. He's still champion, and with Batista gone, the only heavyweight champion on a show once again. He got to compete on PPV cards in consecutive months, which is always a plus, especially in this era. He wrestled on a team with Hulk Hogan (who performed a "you can't see me" during the match as a sign of respect for the rising superstar in contrast to how the evening ended) and Shawn Michaels a few weeks ago, before those two icons violently split (a brilliant move, good for Hogan, who otherwise is a publicity stunt, and great for HBK, who could use a new storyline) last week to the tune of "Sweet Chin Music."
Who else benefits - Chris Jericho, who is being given, at last, another chance to wrestle, one-on-one, for a heavyweight championship. This arc has been building for months now, from Y2J's feud with Shelton Benjamin over how Jericho was losing his wrestling mojo to Cena's pointed comments that Fozzy's lead singer would rather rest on his laurels than put his money where his mouth is these days.
Who doesn't - No one. Smackdown has a new champion. Batista has been gaining considerable momentum. No need to cry. Except maybe Christian, whose anticipated feud with Cena was cut short.

Kurt Angle
Who benefits - Angle, from a change in venue, which he's been embracing, from starting feuds with Ric Flai and Hulk Hogan to the potential of another one with Triple H down the road, plus that rematch with HBK.
Who else benefits - The younger stars, like Carlito (who never got a chance to get a rub from Kurt in Smackdown). Pay no attention to the later failures at his last home (Luther Reigns and Mark Jindrak, both no longer with the company). This is a guy who can step in the ring with anyone and it'll seem perfectly natural, both in competition and just in appearance.
Who doesn't - smackdown, which left him on an unsavory note, which is unfortunate. He may not always have been a nice guy, but he's done great things on the brand.

Big Show
Who benefits - Smackdown, which had seemingly run out of things for the big guy to do. Matt Morgan was beneath him (and now gone, as it happens). Last year the brand tried too hard to make him larger than life again, but had nothing for him to prove. His feud with JBL came much too late, and the one with Team Angle never really made sense.
Who else - Raw, which could reinvigorate the mystique, if it chooses to, but...
Who doesn't - Show, for now, because his entrance was handled like a non-event, unlike just about every other major draftee. He has yet to make an impact. It could change, if Raw was interested.

Carlito
Who benefits - Carlito, for sure. He's definitely been treated like a big deal, from retaining the Cabana (while the Highlight Reel sticks around; both were around last Monday, which felt like a variety show, and not just because of the dueling talk shows) to capturing the Intercontinental his first night to teaming with Kurt Angle rather than Matt Morgan or Jesus. He's becoming another breakout star. And that's cool.
Who else - Shelton Benjamin. On the face of it, losing a title seems like a bad thing, but shelton's reign had gone on since last October, and hasn't been ripe in juicy moments. Dropping it became one. Whatever he does next will have to be better. That is, whenever he surfaces.
Who doesn't - Morgan, who loses his master and then his job.

Rob Van Dam
Who benefits - Carlito, who got immediate heat by beating on the injured fan favorite, who's getting a career breather from the recent ECW PPV (who said nothing good came from it for involved WWE stars?).
Who else - RVD's image, from his new speaking role. I didn't realize how much I was missing. Maybe he's not just Wrestling Gumby after all...
Who doesn't - Smackdown, which thanks to Rob's DL status never quite got to prove it could use him better than raw had before last year's draft. Let's hope things change.

Danny Basham
Who benefits - Both Bashams, who will either get more to do thanks to the traditional draft tag team splitting or eventually get back together and actually get to compete again (being part of the Cabinet was oddly unsatisying).
Who doesn't - Danny, because Doug has more potential.

Kerwin White (Chavo Guerrero)
Who benefits - Eddie Guerreo, who might (might) get in less trouble without his instigating cousin around on Smackdown.
Who doesn't - Chavo. He's got a brand new gimmick, but cruiserweights just don't get much to do on Raw. It could change, but Kerwin will be Kantwin soon enough.

Rene Dupree
Who benefits - The French Phenom of course! Whether he strikes it big as the next great cartoon heel or not, Rene still has a chance at a bright future. If nothing else, more people watch Heat than Velocity...
Who else - Facial hair! The second appearance of his new cartoon goatee proved he was wise enough to iron out the flaws. Between him and Viking H, thiss stuff is cool again! Also, Rob Conway, who has evidence that there's life after La Resistance right at home.
Who doesn't - Sylvain Grenier. Honestly, if Rene couldn't do it, Mr. No Charisma is not going to make it on Smackdown, and not even on Velocity. I'm surprised he hasn't already been cut.

SMACKDOWN
Chris Benoit
Who benefits - Smackdown. The Rabid Wolverine is the low-key Kurt Angle. He can make anyone look good, and he's finally broken out in the world title scene. In the immediate future, Orlando Jordan, who can hopefully start to prove to the naysayers that he's got something worthwhile to offer, thanks to the upcoming match at The Great American Bash. It's a chance for Benoit to legitimize an up-and-comer.
Who else - Smackdown's reputation as the brand for the highest quality of competition. Raw may have Angle, Y2J, HBK, and Benjamin, but Smackdown has Benoit, Eddie Guerrero, Rey Misterio, and Paul London, who put out in every match like it's a PPV and on th whole have longer to go in their careers.
Who doesn't - Benoit, who's clearly lost most of the luster he gained two Januaries ago. It's a good thing the guy's a workhorse.

Randy Orton
Who benefits - Batista, who now has at least another feud past JBL to look forward to. Orton is still just getting warmed up, and smackdown is prime pickings, from Undertaker to Booker T to Chris Benoit.
Who else - The legacy of Evolution. It did exactly what it set out to.
Who doesn't - Triple H, who can no longer get rubs from his pupils and thus must stand on his own again. Then again, maybe that's a good thing...

Mohammed Hassan/Khosrow Daivari
Who benefits - The gimmick, which might have better ground to stand on now. smackdown has known its fair share of controversy (Billy & Chuck's nuptuals). The alleged terrorist angle, which has gotten a lot of bad press, is actually a smart way to go. How else to educate on the roots of terrorism than to exploit the already-established feelings of unfairness Hassan is always going on about? Where else does it come from? Sure, you also have to be an ass, and Hassan is definitely that as well...
Who else - Hassan in the ring. His profile was ratcheted a great many point upon his entrance, immediately being plugged into the championship scenem no matter how brief the experience was.
Who doesn't - The gimmick. If it goes too far, it could sink him. The hubbub is already brewing...

Christian
Who benefits - Captain Charisma. With a change of address, he gets the much-needed chance to start over. He should do fine.
Who doesn't - Tyson Tomko, who is this much closer to his own departure, from budget cuts.
Who else - Booker T, who should have been getting the early goat from Batista, not Christian, but who instead had to settle for competing against Chris Benoit for a shot against U.S. champion Orlando Jordan (two things wrong with that; that title is so last year for Booker, and if a feud hasn't already generated between him and Oz, it probably won't, at least not for a while). Not the way to follow up feuding with Kurt Angle. Instead, Christian (last Thursday's main event), then back to JBL.

Batista
Who benefits - Smackdown. Raw gets to work with John Cena, and Smackdown has an unquestioned champion for the first time in a year. The extended (successful) feud with Triple H did much to legitimize Dave, and now he gets to further prove himself against a hungry roster which is, much like him, trying to make sure it's not overlooked again.
Who else - JBL, who might have found a natural opponent at last. Many of his feuds in the past year have been mostly perfunctuary, but finally established as a top tier star, JBL can let loose as a dangerous big man against a dangerous big man.
Who doesn't - Poor Big Show. What he couldn't get against Bradshaw he might have gotten against Batista...

Candice
Who benefits - Gawkers. Possibly Torrie Wilson.
Who doesn't - Um, raw gawkers?

Simon Dean
Who benefits - Dean, who might have better luck in the Blue World Order, or out of it. Maybe if he became something other than a jobber...
Who doesn't - Maven, who lost his master, then his job.

Steven Richards
Who benefits - Hey, it couldn't hurt his career, right?
Who doesn't - Chris Masters, who will have to find another rag doll with a glass nose.

Sylvain Grenier
Who benefits - Rob Conway. Flag poles.
Who doesn't - Sylvain Grenier. Flag poles.

William Regal
Who benefits - Regal's solo career. And hopefully he gains a speaking role again. The locker room, too. I'm sure he has much to teach it.
Who doesn't - Tajiri, Eugene, who both just lost their last meal tickets.

There's also the matter of the recent roster cuts, some notice of which I've made in the preceding reports. Charlie Haas is the biggest loss, but he also has the most to gain. He has the goods to capitalize on his new employment status with other offers, which he could use to enhance his craft and then return to WWE asa more valuable asset in the future. Akio is another I wish the best for. And then there's the potential of Brock Lesnar's return. I hold nothing against him, as regular readers would know (I don't think I have any, as it is), and all the comments he's made about his actions in the past year and change have made sense. I wish him the best, as always. As for Matt Hardy: go to TNA. It'll be for the better for all involved, and best of luck. Maybe you'll see Akio there.

That's all I'm going to bother you with today.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

#109. The Economy, WWE Draft

I was having some rather heady ideas about the economy the other day, about how to fix it, and how alternatives don't do that. The best way, it seems to me, to bring the notion into the 21st century is to finally acknowledge that we're in the 21st century and alter the template as such. Instead, we've been dwelling on the same one that's only sorta been working for the past few thousand years, which has centered on scarcity, and how best to handle it. We've gotten a better idea of how to make interpopulation mechanics work, and as such, why not drag the notion of scarcity-based economics into a schema that uses this as an advantage rather than as a continuing albatross? The way it currently works employs the trickle-down theory, which postulates that to move goods you start from the top and distribute accordingly, with a few at the top controlling where things go and how. This is also known as privilege or business, and how that's supposed to work is that the person with the mind for it has the opportunity to use it, and we've even gotten to the point where you're supposed to be able to get there as much through inheritence as persistence. Those with neither, it would seem, constitute the overwhelming majority that watches as a few have plenty while others scrape by. This is the result of a competition-based mindset, where "only the strongest survive." It seems to be in our nature to want that as much as anything else, but it is also in our nature to improve ourselves, adn we have made strides in that direction, while the economy hasn't, really. While we embrace the rigors of law, which distributes basic civility, the matter of sustaining life itself is left in the old hands, which continue the stringiness of the old practices concerning how goods move around.

Just a few deep thoughts (or not) to help with my credibility. To sabotage that, I return to matters of professional wrestling. The draft lottery began last night on Raw, and as it turned out, the most unexpected as moves played out. Smackdown's WWE champion, John Cena, switched brands!

On the one hand, the cynic will say that this is a ploy, and that Cena will soon enough return to his native brand. On the other, we see Vince McMahon in all of his potential genius. Cena is a character who needs a little more than a taped show can provide. He needs freedom. The live broadcasts of Raw can give him that, and the new challenges on its roster can help him explode. If Vinnie Mac wanted to shake things up, he's already done that, beyond a doubt. This is the singlest greatest move yet in this new era, akin to the debut of the NWO in WCW a decade ago.

That being said, Cena's debut could have gone smoother. Chris Jericho's Highlight Reel was in theory a wonderful way to introduce the first draftee, but in reality Y2J and the Doctor did not have a lot of chemistry (it reminded me of WrestleMania 21's Piper's Pit, though this one was better overall), and it didn't help that John was sporting an awkward arrangement of jersey and t-shirt that made him look a bit foolish. Christian's subsequent appearance led to the return of Cena's rapping (which I never really missed, but he did it better last night than he used to when the gimmick first began), and the segment picked up, but no one seemed to be really enjoying themselves, and that's a crucial element. Maybe next week will work more smoothly. I have all the faith John will work out just fine, once he finds a new rhythm for a new show.

In a way, and now it seems almost obligatory, Batista looks like he will go to Smackdown, where I very much hope Randy Orton, upon his recovery, will follow. Those who were calling Dave and Brock Lesnar interchangeable a few years back will certainly have something to chew on. I was expecting Undertaker to be Eric Bischoff's big coup, and somehow I still expect him to be drafted, along with maybe Kurt Angle and maybe even Oz, Orlando Jordan, to continue the tradition from previous drafts of splitting up alliances. To complete the set, Charlie Haas or Michelle McCool, a recent diva many would like to see given the opportunity to actually compete, an impossibility of Smackdown. The further Thursday (soon to be Friday) acquisitions might be Snitsky (second coming of A-Train, in some ways), Eugene, and Mohammed Hassan and/or Daivari. Wild guesses, all.

On another note, Christy Hemme is getting the further chance to dance in the ring (no, not in the entrance meaning), despite the poor reaction she received the first time around. Yay for me! And yay for Victoria, who gets to do something again.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

#108. WrestleMania 21, Comic Books, Craig Ferguson, Carrie Underwood, Bulfinch's Mythology

It seems that Luther Reigns met his end with WWE recently, which means Batista has officially won that contest, which I humbly put them in. He reached the conclusion that he was never used to his potential, and I agree, and we'll leave it at that.

Speaking of potential, I finally got around to watching WrestleMania 21, and it was a good show, maybe not one of the greatest, but it was solid from stem to stern. The first match was, of course, Eddie Guerrero versus Rey Mysterio, which was a good a match as it could be, better than some reports would have it, and things have only gotten worse between them since, which includes the unresolved heat that was explored at Judgment Day last Sunday. This is the Smackdown response to the great Raw, Jericho-Christian feud of last year, and it's an improvement, if I must say. This is a contest of equals, with more genuine emotion and less padding.

The Money in the Bank match followed, which Edge won, as he always seems to, by taking advantage of others and appearing at the end, when everyone else had already worn themselves out actually doing things and not resting, or whatever it was he was up to. That led into a feud with Chris Benoit, which the Rabid Wolverine dominated when things such as metal briefcases weren't in the equation, culminating in the Backlash match a month later, in which Edge won. To follow that up, he capitalized on a real backstage drama to earn another title shot for Batista's world's heavyweight championship, which Triple H got around to spoiling. There're a number of ways this can continue to play out, one of which would be that Edge goes on to feud with Kane while Hunter and Dave continue their spat, or the muddied waters continue intermingling, which in this case includes Christian, who may or may not be headed to Smackdown in the near future.

Randy Orton-Undetaker followed, and this was one for the history books. Orton has been seen as some as a familiar, both since Batista and not he was given the Royal Rumble and Mania spotlights, and because Orton's SummerSlam victory last year did not result in a lengthy championship run. It's not as if he's been knocked out of the upper tier. Far from it. He was given the chance to break Taker's winning streak, and he provided one of the Dead Man's best Mania matches in years. Heck, it might even be one of the best, period. Given that he became known as the Legend Killer, it seemed as if the hype might actually be on his side for a victory, even, and that would have been a heck of a boasting point, especially for a guy who's a "failure." So he didn't get the win. So what? He proved he was a worthy challenge, and that's as proud a feather for his cap as any other. If anything, Orton proved, once and for all, that he belongs exactly where he's found himself. When he gets back from this latest injury, I think it'll show.

Trish Stratus-Christy Hemme followed, and I found it a refreshening women's match. Hemme, for all the trash talk directed toward her over this bout, didn't do too badly. If anything, she's one of the better competitors I've seen in a WWE ring. Nowhere was the deliberateness that plagues most of these matches. Oh sure, she might have been deliberate, being a newbie in the ring as she was, but she sold everything as it should be, and not as most female competitors end up trying to, with overcompensation. Will she get a chance to build on this? Probably not, because, once again, the idiotic reception of a perfectly good thing will have spoiled its chances for a proper encore.

Kurt Angle-Shawn Michaels was excellent, better than HBK-Y2J from XIX. What more can be said about these two? They're among the best. Michaels went on to another great match with Shelton Benjamin on Raw, and a feud with Hassan and Daivari, bringing Hulk Hogan alongside him. The Arab Americans are now deeply involved in a feud with Benjamin and Jericho, as we wonder whether Jericho's passion for wrestling has left him along with diminished prospects (a brilliant storyline, by the way).

Akebono-Big Show was fine for what it was. Big Show got his posturing in, and a big power move, when he manhandled the sumo champion long enough to lift 'n' shift him, only for Akebono to prove soon after that this particuar sports works differently. Some of your less patient fans had a real problem with this one, as they did with Hemme, and they were going to no matter what.

John Cena defeated JBL, as was pre-ordained for the WWE title, in a fairly typical match for the Doctor. I've gotta see Judgment Day (which I'm getting to in a moment) to see what they two can do in an "I Quit" match. Then came Batista's nearly half hour war with Triple H, which didn't seem to impress many people, but I thought was worthy of the hype. I really need to watch this one in particular again, mostly because I was distracted the first time around and might have missed some important points, especially the ending. It was strange seeing Motorhead performing Hunter's theme song live, because I've only heard the song recorded. The lead singer wasn't quite as I pictured him, but I got used to that quickly. He didn't seem very enthused about all of it, but that might just be how he always is.

The other segments included the Hassan spot (plus Eugene!) and Hogan, then Piper's Pit. Good god does Piper have an ego, and did he make it more than evident during that particular segment. He made Steve Austin uncomfortable, and didn't give Carlito the proper opportunity, either. Ah, well! But as I said, it was a good, solid PPV, and the bonus DVD battle royal was fun, too. Good spot for Booker T, and unepectedly for Chris Masters as well.

And speaking of which, Judgment Day seems like it was, too. Oz had his first offical PPV match (his appearance in the Royal Rumble doesn't quite cover it), successfully defending his US title against Heidenreich, who is a character who won't quit. Maybe he'll even catch a break in the ring some day. Most reports indicated this was the weak match, but then, I've been considering myself ahead of the Orlando Jordan curve for more than a year now. He's getting there, slowly. Hopefully this is only a step in the right direction (and Rene Dupree can start getting some of the same juice). Carlito, with Matt Morgan, wrestled on the card, against the Big Show. How much more brazen can this guy get? Paul London and Chavo Guerrero finally got their match, which I'm eager to see. Booker T got one over Angle (in one of his more disturbing storylines), the DQ Mysterio-Latino Heat match, and Charlie Haas & Hardcore Holly's challenge of tag team champions MNM (Powerwrestling.com named Haas Wrestler of the Week over it), not to mention Cena-Bradshaw II.

A.J. Styles is TNA champion again, just in time for the promotion to lose its TV show (great, just when I've found it...). I'm sure it's nothing he did. Hopefully things'll work out.

In non-wrestling news, I seem to have picked up my first variant cover, for Green Lantern #1. I've got an Alex Ross cover, while standard editions sport regular artist Carlos Pacheco's work. I saw another variant there, too, for #638, with the secret revealed on the cover rather just merely on the last page, and refrained myself from splurging, on both accounts. I also picked up the heart-wrenching JLA: Classified #7. Yes, it's a heart-wrenching "bwa-ha-ha"/Super Buddies/I Still Can't Believe it's Not the Justice League issue. Shows you a thing or two about range, like Futurama revelled in until it was cancelled. Also, The O.M.A.C. Project #s 1 & 2 (for a not wholly different take on Booster Gold, among other things), Day of Vengeance #2 (finally! Ragman is back in the spotlight!), and DC Special: The Return of Donna Troy #1, which sports the first appearance of the new DC logo. I swear, last time I bought comics, I got some non-DC titles as well...

Back to TV now, Craig Ferguson is working out just fine on the Late Late Show. He's charmingly endearing, and his enthusiasm is contagious. There's plent I could say about recent cancellations, or even about the new fall line-ups, but I won't bother. Carrie Underwood may be the new American Idol, but Constantine and Nadia were robbed. Either was better, and both deserved to be in the final two rather than Underwood or Bo Bice. But like y'know, whatever...

I recently found employment and lost it again, and have since been scrambling all the more. It's disrupted my creative process a bit, but I've gotten back on track, and Bulfinch's Mythology, another victim, is the same case. It's a big book, but I'm not intimidated. I've just finished the Greek section. Finally!

That's all for now...

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

#107. TNA, Would-be Comics Writer

First news first. I've been wildly sidetracked from the Leopold project, and now it's more a matter of getting back and finishing than giving updates. Speaking of updates, it looks as if my personal website might finally be returning. Thanks to Webspawner, the new age of Mouldwarp might finally be upon us. I tried to transfer the file of the previous version to the computer I'm presently using, but as it turns out, either I can't or Trellix Web is finicky. I found out it was a paid service after visiting the product's site, something I didn't need to bother with previously because the software had been bundled in with my previous computer.

At any rate, that's a personal update. Last Friday I watched TNA !mpact! for the first time, and got to see Petey Williams in action. It was a fine match. The last match of the hour, however, was both the figurative and literal showstopper, as the Naturals took on and defeated America's Most Wanted for the NWA world tag team championship, with the help of Chris Candido in his final appearance in the promotion before his untimely death. This has never been a blog interested in speculating in the personal lives of professional wrestlers (which is one reason why I can't directly address the Matt Hardy-Edge-Lita drama), so I can say is that the one-time Bodydonna will be missed, as he was always an asset to sports entertainment, whether he was competing in WWE, WCW, TNA or any of the many smaller promotions out there. In this era that explores as much what professional wrestling has been as what it is capable of becoming, he was a signal entity within it.

TNA, as it turns out, in the meantime, is good television. It's weird to think that all the action it sees is one hour of free television a week, and one PPV a month. Obviously a lot of competitors go unused, at least as part of TNA, in this context. Fox Sports Network, which TNA pays to air its hour of programming on, is gracious enough to broadcast the show at a reasonable time, Fridays at 4 in the afternoon, and again several more times throughout the rest of the day, which makes the notion of WWE's abundance of scheduling, over several networks, all the more generous, which we can sometimes take for granted. Men like A.J. Styles, Monty Brown and Sonjay Dutt (whom I also saw compete, against Shocker, current contender for the X-division title) shouldn't have to wait so long for their share of the spotlight, but often it's not what we deserve that we get, but rather what we can afford, and that leaves plenty of room for growth. TNA seems to be managing its fledgling existence, with bumps here and there, fairly well. If there's room for another large-scale competitor again, as there was in the '90s, to WWE, TNA would do that spot proud.

WWE, meanwhile, is approaching another draft lottery. Last year's turned out better than some of the naysayers (including, unfortunately, the Monk) would have led you to believe. This year it appears Christian is a lock to make the jump, from Raw to Smackdown, being that he's already picking a fight with WWE champion John Cena. I guess I'm fine with that. Kane is another guy who could use a change of scenery, but I wonder how likely that would be, given his current attachment to Lita. Would both go, as a package deal? Unlikely, given Edge would be left behind (or maybe this would be one way to hush up some of that murmuring). Chris Jericho would be another fine choice from Raw's side. There's also word Randy Orton would be trading sides, but that's one I would rather not see, since I still want that epic feud with Batista.

Smackdown, meanwhile, is replete with possibilities that started out on Raw or were there just last year. Big Show could use a change of address (a feud with Triple H would do both men good, and he's already be rumored there anyway), Booker T might be ready to go back, having reestablished himself. Charlie Haas is a current fantasy for some to transfer, so he could feud with Shelton Benjamin, his former partner in the (Self-Proclaimed) World's Greatest Tag Team. But I really don't know what'll happen at the draft. And that's half the fun, I guess...Both brands are doing fine right now anyway, having finally shook loose the uncertainty of 2004 and the blocks that were built during it.

I found a comic book store near me, which is the first one I've now regularly visited in more than six years. It's bizarre to be able to say that, surreal. All I need are the funds to support this patronage. I've been working at breaking into the business, too, at the forums of Digital Webbing, honing my scripting craft and helping to realize the skills it takes to create a story worth reading. I'll talk more about this at some future time. I've probably already yacked on for long enough...

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

#106. Wrestling, Final Episodes of Andromeda & Enterprise, BattleStar Galactica, Will & Grace, Leopold's Concentration

A year ago I said Luther Reigns was worth a dozen or so Batistas...Am I still saying that? Well, what I can say is that Batista now has to prove that he really can improve on the Goldberg formula, become the loyal Brock Lesnar, the successful big man champion. He hasn't been pushed, seriously, as a singles wrestler until now, so Raw's most interesting days are here. Triple H may have found someone he was willing to let roost as champion in his stead, but that doesn't mean we're out of the woods yet. Randy Orton is out to repear himself again (the way he ended up in Evolution is also the way his saga with that clique is ending), so that leaves the champion and the ego to clash so settle on the new rules of the clubhouse.

And all this time it looked like Smackdown was the show that was regressing. Instead, we find Raw continuing to wait on the next lightning bolt to strike. Oh sure, Mohammed Hassan is a fine new addition, and even if the fans don't like him, Chris Masters is an impressive addition, certainly better than Garrison Cade ever was. Simon Dean, if he ever gets down to wrestling, is an entertaining one. Shelton Benjamin continues to prove he's ready to be the next big thing. Chris Benoit, Shawn Michaels, they're settling in, and so is Edge. Raw is solidifying into a more complete, competent show, knowing just how to use all of its players. Even Y2J has something to do, and it doesn't involve Christian.

Christian, by the way, is pretty much the same case as Matt Hardy, as far as his potential is concerned. He has a personality, and a fine finishing move, but other than that, he's a glorified jobber. He brings very little heat as an actual competitor, and he's done that for a long time now. Hardy, I realize, was released for other reasons (as too was Rhyno, who was either hamstrung or never really had much to offer), but he might as well have gotten his walking papers for the sin of having no future. He's the more experienced Mark Jindrak.

On Smackdown, meanwhile, the roster is bursting to the seams with young bucks waiting for their chance in the spotlight, and it's harder to juggle on Thursday nights. How do you give everyone their shots and still maintain a modicum of momentum? When someone gets something lively to do, someone else doesn't, and since Raw has most of the established stars (and is using them in actual matches now), Smackdown has to play catch-up even though they're the ones with their act together, and have had it together the longest. It just doesn't seem that way. Smackdown is vibrant, it just doesn't have enough time to show it, unlike Raw, which is able to show pretty much all its cards on a weekly basis. You don't miss anything on Heat because that's a show for people either being used to fill that show or as a sideshow to give the new bucks an additional spotlight. Smackdown, meanwhile, outsources many of its stars to Velocity. Paul London toiled for months there until he was given the chance to compete for the cruiserweight title. It's the haven for tag teams and cruiserweights, Charlie Hass, the Bashams and Akio. If it was held in as prominent a timeslot as Heat, Velocity might even be making the waves is deserves to. It could actually be a second show, rather than just an overlooked treasure nothing really develops from. Who on Smackdown, or who watches it, really knew what London was up to, or why Haas and Hardcore Holly were worthy opponents of Eddie Guererro and Rey Mysterio a couple of weeks ago?

The rumor is there'll be another draft, to shake up the rosters again. It ended up working just fine last year, despite my concerns. Randy Orton is still rumored to Smackdown, which makes me wonder who will go to Raw in return. Some seem to think it'll be Booker T, or Big Show. Neither really has anything to gain (and neither does Orton, who deserves a nice, extended feud with Batista) unless Raw wants something new to do with Kane. Has Show ever feuded with him? And a feud between Show and Triple H would be epic. I'm not sure a lot has been done there, either. But Booker still has use on Smackdown. Would this be an opening for Marty Jannetty? He was rumored to have signed a contract after the Angle-HBK stint he pulled last month, and yet he hasn't appeared since. I half-expected Michaels to announce him as his partner for Backlash, but that's probably more fanboy than mark out right there.

Smackdown should retain the services of Carlito and Orlando Jordan. Mr. Cool has been doing fine keeping his name around despite his injured wing, which now seems healed, or should I say heeled. Hopefully he can pick himself back up in the ring now, and we can see more of what he's capable of. Same with Oz. So he's US champion. More rumors have it that he'll be fighting Rey-Rey next, which almost certainly means he won't be champion much longer. He hasn't really defended the title yet, which doesn't make this a particularly significant reign. I hope he has the chance to finally prove himself a capable wrestler, and not just accessory. One step would be to develop a finisher or two. All he needs is consistence ring experience. Maybe once JBL moves beyond the WWE title (I doubt he'll end up #1 contender; Booker's my pick), his cabinet can branch out. Hopefully not bottom out. The Bashams really need to capture a tag team championship.

Luther Reigns, meanwhile, still has a bright future in store. He's been working on his ability to fly solo, much more aggressively than Batista ever did, and if that ever works out, I'll still say he's worth a dozen or so Batistas. In the meantime, I'll enjoy Hassan and Daivari, thank you very much.

I haven't been keeping the Monk in touch for a while, and haven't even mentioned WrestleMania 21 yet. From what I understand, it's another show I'm just going to have to see for myself, which I intend to, when the DVD is released.

In the meantime, I get to enjoy the final episodes of two favorite series, Gene Roddenberry's Andromeda and Star Trek: Enterprise. Both are highly underrated, because people let expectations get in their way. Star Trek started dying the day people started getting other interests to follow, and tried to continue their interest in Star Trek as well. They couldn't, and so they started ranting about how poor it was getting. Okay, so the studio didn't help by pumping out one more series so quickly when the last one failed to catch on (okay, the last two, even if one eventually developed its own cult). Resentment built, and interest declined, until Star Trek for cancelled for the second time in history.

I've been watching the latest new flavor, BattleStar Galactica, and for once I actually like it. The last new flavor I enjoyed was The X-Files. If there're any problems with BSG, it's in two casting missteps, and they're major ones. now, I have no problem with a female Starbuck. I could care less. But Katee Sackhoff, she's a problem. She's deadweight. And so is Jamie Bamber, otherwise known as Apollo. They don't ring like they should, like James Callis (Baltar) or Mary McDonnell (Roslin) or even Edward James Olmos (Adama), whom I think undersells, and I'm not sure if it's because of the actor or the character. But Sackhoff can't sell a poorly written character (or maybe it just seems that way because the actress is uninspired) and Bamber is too much of a nonentity. Grace Park as Boomer (x2) is a fine example of understated, and Tricia Helfer, for what she's done, is smoldering. Rich Hatch is sadled with an underwritten Tom Zarek. Because like any other show trying for such huge scope, this series can't carry it all.

But's it's got the good faith going on, so it doesn't matter. It sucks to see these double standards.

Anyhoo, I think I saw the first episode of Will & Grace last night in syndication, and it's bizarre to see these half-developed characters in play. I don't know if I would have continued watching past that premiere episode, but the ones that've followed were worth it. It's like having inspiration and waiting for it to gesticulate. In the meantime, do you take the inspiration for what it's worth, or do you go looking for something else and forget about this half-formed thought? Recently I've been engaged in trying to figure that out. How do you know when you've come across a diamond in the rough? How much do you really need to know to decide whether or not you're wasting your time and should rather continue on with your search? Can you blame someone for not seeing something you did? How far do you have to push before the bolder starts picking up its own momentum? Can you possibly come up with a universal calculation? Or are things really just random?

It's really hard to say, and I challenge anyone to.

Leopold's Concentration, by the way, has not been abandoned. I've got most of the rest of the story sketched out. I've been continuing to pursue other projects in the meantime. And it'd be grand if I knew anyone was paying attention.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

#105. Leopold's Concentration is in Trouble (and Denial!)

After more than a week off, I finally got around to returning to Leopold's Concentration, and wrote the twelve chapter. I had originally planned on repeating the November challenge pound for pound, by completing the story within a month. Circumstances have changed, and so I will no longer try and pretend I can compensate. At this point, I'd be looking at a week or so of double output, and perhaps even triple output if I wanted to maintain the pace that would have put me, after the past week, with the final two installments written in the final two days of the month.

There's no rush. I had intended to plot the course of the rest of the story in the downtime, but nothing struck until yesterday, so I gave up that idea. I've always known where it's going, but the steps along the way have been improvisational. I added a new character, a major one, in 12, which just goes to show how much I knew of what was going to happen from chapter to chapter. Her name, in keeping with the main characters, is Padma Mahmoud, which has the same kind of syllabic repetition built in as Gerald Leopold and Virgil Oswald. I don't find her introduction to be an act of desperation, but rather a further depth to the reality the story sets out to explore.

I plug on. I will be done some time next month if nothing else gets in my way, which I hope it won't, because I feel like I'm finally back on track, with relatively clear paths to the conclusion. We'll see.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

#104. Leopold's Concentration Won't End, Green Lantern: Rebirth, Nightwing, I Can't Believe It's JLA Classified, The Ultimates

I lost power for over 24 hours (which would make a really interesting post, if that was what I did with the Monk), starting from the second paragraph of the eighth chapter, and it's exactly that story I'm talking about. Consequently, while it was only getting colder in the apartment, I was sweating over whether or not those valuable pace-setters had been lost. I was happy to find out they hadn't, even though I'd decided at that point that I could have lost them and it wouldn't be that big a problem after all. Being an electronically-shackled writer (for the most part), I couldn't write anything while the power was out, so I wrote both the eighth and the ninth chapters yesterday (after the three-chapter marathon of Monday, I suppose I was already ready for it), and combined them into an 8+9 medley/monster, which worked out in terms of the story, since at this point the lines separating our two protagonists, Leopold and Oswald, are blurring.

Today I continued to break the mold by skipping over Oswald's turn and continuing on with Leopold's. He does have his name in the title, after all.

I mentioned I'd picked up some comics the other day and that I was going to say something about them. Well here we go. The first of them was Green Lantern: Reborn #3, where it turns out Geoff Johns reveals how Hal Jordan went insane more than a decade ago. He was taken over by Parallax, not figuratively, not in the Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader/"certain point of view" (can't wait to see Ep. III in May!) way, but literally. The creature Parallax, the embodiment of the yellow impurity and Fear itself, was another of the baddies the Guardians foolishly employed the Central Power Battery as a prison for. The other one they blundered with in this capacity was Sinestro, and Sinestro released Parallax into Hal.

So the lore of the Lantern becomes just a little more complex. It suggests a whitewash of continuity as concerning Hal Jordan since "Emerald Twilight" on the surface, but underneath Johns has provided the greatest twist yet for Jordan, and he's certainly had his share, as well as the entire Corps.

Moving right along, there's also Nightwing #103, part 3 of 6 in the Year One saga, where Dick Grayson's journey to manhood continues, which here involves a return to the circus and the debut, and origin, of the original Nightwing costume. Is it wrong to say Dick's personal journey is the most fascinating thing in comics, bar none? Chuck Dixon, returning to the title and the character he helped define nine years ago, is crafting, along with Scott Beatty, yet another milestone, one that seeks to flesh out rather than redefine things we already know. The path between his childhood and his adolescence, where Batman and Bruce Wayne take the place of his murdered family, is not something he easily understands, because there's nothing but trauma for him to sort out. He's the textbook case of growing pains. He just does it in tights.

Then we come to JLA: Classified #4, the third of three DC titles. It's the first chapter of "I Can't Believe It's Not the Justice League," a sequel to last year'rs Formerly Known as the Justice League, which reunites the creative team of Giffen, DeMatteis, Maguire, and Rubenstein as well as their version of the Justice League from the late 80's, which means Booster Gold, Blue Beetle, and the like. Booster and Beetle, I'm very well familiar with. I followed them from Jurgen's Justice League to Captain Atom's Extreme Justice. They're favorite characters of mine. But I've never read the Bwa Ha Ha version. I wasn't able to get a hold of last year's story because my comic shops either didn't carry them or they sold out quickly, and I haven't tracked them down. But here was my chance to do so. I was not disappointed. This is unforced wit in its purest form. I couldn't help but laugh out loud at Richard Hertz's insistence to be called Dick. Mr. Hertz is involved in the ostensible plot of the story, which rings familiar to the Top Cow book Common Grounds (also a contest I failed in, but I'm now attempting to make progress without). Anyway, a highly enjoyable read. It's a shame that it's also a very good possibly that this will be the only issue I see.

The last title was The Ultimates 2 #3, a Marvel book. Up until the ending, I thought this lived up to every bit the hype I've heard of this title. A realistic approach, which is what the Ultimate reality is all about. The team the book is named for become guest-stars, which is another strange part about the issue. Hank Pym is the only member to take an active role in events. Maybe that's the point of the whole excercise. I'd love to find out, but I probably won't. But I might look up the first series, and wait for this one to end, to see where things go.

That'll be all for now.

Monday, March 07, 2005

#103. Leopold's Concentration Continues Onward

The fifth, sixth, and seventh chapters are up (after a mildly disruptive weekend pushed back the writing, but not the place-holding, for the first two of them) of the story. The sixth and seventh chapters feature quoted text, which ended up looking funny, at least at my end of the pike, which I wasn't expecting, but I won't be trying a new format for the gimmick, at least not yet.

I also picked up some comics this weekend, which I'll comment on soon.

Friday, March 04, 2005

#102. Leopold's Concentration is Good, Orlando Jordan

Fourth chapter of you-know-what is up, and I'm enjoying the writing process quite a bit once again, even if the experience and the story are so different from the last time. This installment features an intervention scene that might ring as a little clich├ęd, but is absolutely necessary in establishing Oswald and his life, as much as talking about pet behaviors is with Leopold. At any rate, I find it all really fascinating, and I can't imagine why...

Booya! Boo-ya! Oz just got his groove on! That's right, Orlando Jordan is United States champion having defeated John Cena for the United States championship last night on Smackdown. Yes, it required the interferrance of the Basham Brothers (co-secretaries of defense) and JBL himself, but the fact of the matter is, Oz has gold! His hard-earned work, as chief of staff and as ring lackey, has paid off. No, it's not unusual for someone to win a championship, or to defend it for that matter, without technically having done it fairly. Being associated with JBL, the particulars of Orlando's victory are no surprise, but the inevitability still tastes as sweet.

He's a guy who puts himself out there and makes his opponents look good time in and time out. Call it the Jericho Method. It's what Orlando was basically brought in to do, and this skill ultimately ingraciated him into a position to build a personality, a profile, he could not naturally build himself. He's been couched into greatness, and he's not there yet, but this is a huge step, and he's got nowhere to go but up. And the difference between someone like him and someone like Test (whom I still admire and wish the best of luck when he returns, wherever he returns), is that it's not just expectations he's building on, but himself. If you can't do that, then you're sunk. You're Eric Watts, you're Brutus Beefcake, you're Ahmed Johnson. But Orlando has the goods to fulfill the potential those who believe in him know he's capable of. No one sees the great ones coming, and Orlando has that potential. Even if he ends up being another Booker T, that's nothing to sneeze at. Booker is, after all, a five time (five time, five time, five time, five time) world heavyweight champion, even if it looks as if he'll never ascent to become a WWE version of one.

But Orlando can. He's just starting out. His obvious model is the man he defeated to become United States champion, John Cena. The man headed to WrestleMania next month in the classic journey to the heavyweight title started out as a punk with no gimmick and no momentum. gradually, he built one, and still lost mostof his matches. But he continued to refine, until he became someone no one could ignore. And he did it by constantly giving back. John Cena is not greedy. When it's good for him to win, he wins. When it's good for him to lose, he loses. He's made the United States championship something to talk about, whether he's fighting Rene Dupree, fighting just about everyone to keep it, fighting Booker T to win it back, losing it to Carlito Carribbean Cool right away, or allowing himself to lose it again just before the biggest show on the wrestling calender, thus forfeiting one of the greatest spectacles possible for a wrestle, holding the two heavyweight titles available to you. It's how Ultimate Warrior did it.

So unlike Warrior, who never seemed to quite understand what was good for him, and thus ruined a great career, Cena does. Call him the next Austin (as it seems so obvious), or the next HBK. And then look just behind him and see Orlando Jordan.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

#101. Leopold's Concentration Continues, Job Hunting

The third chapter of Leopold's Concentration is up. Meanwhile, I've added another link to the righthand sidebar the Monk's new design afforded me, to a wrestling site I've referenced in the past.

Did I mention job hunting's a bitch? 'Cause it is...

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

#100. Leopold's Concentration, Wrestling

Second chapter of Leopold's Concentration is up, and it introduces the second main protagonist to the story, Virgil Oswald, and the joke about the footstool-shaped robot comes straight from the original version of Oswald's half. The shuttlecraft is named after the appropriate sci-fi genius/author.

There's a new look to the blog, and I looked up the Raw results (did I mention I actually get to watch Raw every week now, though with the side effect being I now know it's easy to fall asleep during the second hour?) from this past Monday, to find out Chris Jericho indeed has something huge in mind for WrestleMania next month, with five other superstars primed to join him, undoubtedly (or so I'm assuming) from both Raw and Smackdown. You'll notice I used the common word "look" to connect two disparate thoughts. Brilliant, I know...

And since I now can watch Raw, I can comment on the new calibur of the show. It's definitely improved since the last time I saw it, two summers ago. The Bottom Line highlight show doesn't really do it justice. Thw restling is better, and the blocking better, too. All it took was letting guys wrestle again, sparked by the acquisition of Chris Benoit. So it's ironic that Smackdown no longer has the same calibur wrestling it did two years ago. Not that it's a ton worse, or comparable to the low level Raw once had, but that it's lost some prestige. I think thing'll turn around soon, though. It's got the talent, it just needs these guys realigned a little, which shouldn't be too long from now.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

#99. The Angry Avenger, Leopold's Concentration, Wrestling, Simon Cowell, Smallville, Lost, Alias

Having completed Colinaude, the Angry Avenger last November and seen how only a little pain was involved, I decided I could do it again. This time, it's a personal challenge. Leopold's Concentration is my next 50,000 word story, and the idea is to write it, like the last novel, within the span of a month. March has one more day than the one I wrote in the last time, but that's not really that huge a difference. The daily word count needed shaves off sixty words, and the first entry exceeds that anyway. That's the context. The content is actually a reworking of a story I wrote in high school, which the creative writing teacher seemed to enjoy well enough (and in fact, the three entries were probably the most well-received of my efforts that semester), and the elements are basically the same, but also radically different. There'll be nods to the original draft dropped along the way, and the first happens to be the protagonist's name. Here it's Gerald Leopold, whereas originally his name was simply Gerry, a nickname Leopold has had in the past, but no longer goes by.

At any rate, it should be reasonably amusing, and possibly thought-provoking as well.

A few things have gone on in wrestling since I last wrote, but Triple H and JBL are still the respective champions of Raw and Smackdown. Randy Orton is no longer in pursuit of Hunter; rather, now it's the 2005 Royal Rumble winner, Batista, who achieved his turn by cleverly nodding to the way Orton was booted from Evolution. He's poised to become WWE's own Goldberg, as most of his matches have been of the patented squashings Da Man was so famous for in his WCW heyday. It's a funny development, considering Goldberg floundered when he tried to make it on Raw a few years ago, and his feud with Hunter was wasted. Maybe things have changed. Maybe Batista is the worthy successor Triple H has been, uh, waiting for. We'll see.

JBL, meanwhile, is headed toward WrestleMania XXI with a bullseye in the middle of his pompous forehead. John Cena, in the grand tradition of wrestling's granddaddy of PPVs, is finally going to dethrone a longstanding, unpopular champion, and start his bold new era, which might lead to the Smackdown revitalization the Internet insiders have been clamoring for. JBL has been great, and Orlando "Oz" Jordan" has been seeing steadier action than ever before, but this ride's just about finished. Hopefully it gives Oz the chance to really shine, and not just act as the Designated Jobber (the win against Rene Dupree last fall notwithstanding). He deserves better. He deserves a JBL-like push. He's even got his vocals ironed out, as he demonstrated when ushering the WWE champion to his post-No Way Out celebration this past Thursday. Come on, give Oz his shot. Is that too much to ask?

And while you're at it, consider giving Paul London and Charlie Haas the pushes they deserve. They're making Velocity worth watching, but the one hour shows are not exactly the companion shows they could be. Hardly anyone sees this stuff. Give London his WM match against Chavo Guerrero. And let Haas wrestle then, too, even if he has to do it with Hardcore Holly. And Dupree, too, he's a superstar in the making, if only he's allowed to register some solo wins. The continuing matches against Cena are good, but let's move beyond that and get him on track to win the US championship. He deserves it.

Whatever's in the works for Booker T, Eddie Guerrero, Rey Mysterio, and Big Show for WM, let's get on that, too. Surely you can't waste them, after the year each has had, even if they have had to wrestle in JBL's imposed shadow. The same goes for Chris Jericho and Chris Benoit on Raw. What're they gonna do? Even if Benoit fights Mohammed Hassan, as it's looking now, that still leaves Jericho. Does he get Edge? It'd be nice if Raw and Smackdown didn't leave so much fine talent so directionless, or embroiled in feuds that are sidetracks for the other guy, as Edge's with Shawn Michaels' is. If HBK is gonna face Kurt Angle at WM, tha leaves Edge wasting his time building up one feud when he could be spending it with his actual opponent. And if Randy Orton is to face Undertaker at WM, as is rumored, you've got a mere month to establish that, too. And what about Shelton Benjamin? Is Snitsky going to be his opponent? What about Kane? Does he get Simon Dean?

It's all very interesting, but the waiting sucks. I guess tha's called "anticipation." Right now it seems like it could be better than last year's, but there's so much uncertainty it's hard to really say.

I've been watching American Idol, and as usual Simon Cowell is the only judge worth listening to. I'm glad he made amends last night for some of last week's obvious mistakes, but it's already too late for the audience to salvage two huge mistakes of their own, that being the ouster of the first two males from this stage of the competition. Too bad, but this year has already lost some good ones to self-sabotage ("Here I go, here I go, here I go again..." straight to poor subsequent song decisions). This is the first year I'm consistently watching, mostly because of my sister, so I get to see a little more of the pain, beyond even more rotten audience decisions in later rounds of the competition, and unexpected pleasures. But then, more pain comes to me as my sister insists on the time-wasting Wednesday results show as well as Smallville (sucking story arcs faster than a speeding bullet) immediately before it, which costs me Lost and Alias. The former is okay, since I've resolved to purchasing the eventual DVD release, and the latter is somewhat, too, since the retooling this season has dulled my interest in it.

Still expecting, two months in, for 2005 to be a good year for me...

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