Thursday, December 31, 2009

#228. Wrestler of the Decade

#228

Because I'm sure that my Theoretical Readers are just dying to know, my picks for Wrestler of the Decade are:

Triple H - Hard to deny the decade he amassed a thousand championships.

Kurt Angle - When from a good wrestler to a great one, indispensable for both WWE and TNA.

Chris Jericho - Certainly his best decade.

The only reason I wouldn't list a Randy Orton, John Cena, or Batista is because they didn't exactly cover the whole decade. Otherwise, they would have been pretty good options, too.

I'd give the award, singularly, to Kurt Angle.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

#227. Against the Day, Finnegan, Decade Favorites in Films, Books, TV, & Music

#227

Funny, but when I made the Reading List entry last month, Amazon wasn't loading properly, so I wasn't able to give Pynchon the same deal I've been doing for about half the year here at Scouring Monk. Also, not so funny, but I haven't actually gotten to read much of Against the Day, though I am quite enjoying it. Haven't gotten past a hundred pages yet. Chumps of Chance!

(A few days later, I was able to do my Christmas shopping pretty easily at Amazon, so my buggy computer stopped bugging out for a while.)

Part of the reason is that I've been battling Finnegan. I was forced to abandon the strict NaNo pace after twenty days, but have been rallying and gotten to 43 chapters of roughly 1667 words. The current goal is to complete the remaining ones by Christmas, so I can spend the rest of the year completing the QBs for Lower Decks and my weekly HYGOTS column. By 2010, I'll have a week vacation I hope to in part spend fishing out an agent to get the book into some publishing waters. Should be fun...

Here's the "literay mathematics" (originally posted at Facebook) of Finnegan: Twilight + Mary Shelley's Frankenstein + Calvin & Hobbes + the Bible + Grant Morrison + Robert Pirsig / Tony Laplume

Lots of people are marking the end of the decade with lists. I've been compiling some ideas myself:

Ten Favorite Films of the 00s
Alexander
Munich
The Dark Knight
Memento
Gladiator
The Departed
The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
Inglourious Basterds
Watchmen
The Da Vinci Code

Ten Favorite TV Shows of the 00s
Futurama
Boomtown
Star Trek: Enterprise
Lost
Alias
How I Met Your Mother
Prison Break
Survivor
Heroes
Grey's Anatomy

Ten Favorite CDs of the 00s
Coldplay - X & Y
Coldplay - Viva La Vida
Oasis - Don't Believe the Truth
Oasis - Dig Out Your Soul
Jet - Shine On
U2 - All That You Can't Leave Behind
Great Big Sea - *Something Beautiful
Hootie and the Blowfish - Looking for Lucky
Guster - Ganging Up On the Sun
Thrice - The Alchemy Index (Vols. i-iv, especially iv)

Ten Favorite Books of the 00s
J.K. Rowling - Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
Roberto Bolano - 2666
Neil Gaiman - American Gods
Peter Ackroyd - The Plato Papers
Life of Pi - Yann Martel
The Adventures of Kavalier & Clay - Michael Chabon
The Patron Saints - T.M. Wells
The Execution - Hugo Wilcken
Bone (One Volume Edition) - Jeff Smith
52 - Various

(revised lists as of 12/19/09)

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

#226. Reading List: Against the Day

#226

Currently reading:

Against the Day
By Thomas Pynchon

#225. Pandora, Finnegan, Survivor Series Anthology

#225

Sent off a sample script to Avatar Press today, featuring their flagship character, Pandora. I hope they like it. This doesn't mean I'm giving up on the Conformists pitch at Dark Horse, but hey. I should be sending a lot of stuff out anyway.

Finnegan is progressing nicely, and I'm happy how it seems to be evolving in the best possible uses of my talent. It's off NaNo pace by five days, but I've been playing fast and loose with that all month, so I'm not really all that concerned.

I got the Survivor Series anthologies finally, and have spent perhaps too much time watching them (when I could be writing, yeah, or reading.) Wrestling seems on a good tear these days. TNA (Turning Point is another step in the right direction) is doing well, WWE is still working on the next generation (Survivor Series 2009 looked like it was excellent), and even the Hulkamania tour is finally a reality, headlined by Hogan/Flair and featuring Orlando Jones/Mr. Anderson (Kennedy), two of the stars WWE completely failed in recent years.

I can't think right now, but wanted to check in anyway...

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

#224. Finnegan, 2666

#224

The big news is that I've started writing Finnegan, which coincidentally started at the start of NaNoWriMo, and I'm actually treating it much as I have in the past, a pace of 1667 words a day. The bad news is that, technically I'm already behind, but the good news is that I'm finding myself with a more flexible schedule that I had during the three Novembers it took to write Cloak of Shrouded Men (my calculations for Finnegan actually average to just about two and a half months, with 72 chapters at the stated length), which I think is pretty much working at this point.

I was thwarted in my attempts to purchase the released Survivor Series anthology volumes last week, but then I visited WWE.com and saw that I could get an outrageous deal from them (basically the two for the price of one), so I did that.

I'm still reading 2666, which is a long book, so it's taking more time than the pace I had been cutting since I started posting my reading list here. And the next few books, yeah, they're going to take probably about the same amount of time. I hope to be done 2666 well before the end of the month. Also, I am loving it.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

#223. Victory Road, Breaking Point

#223

So I watched the Victory Road DVD, obviously, and it was exactly what I thought it was, TNA's step in the right direction, integrating people who really know what they're doing with those who haven't (except Daniels/Matt Morgan, if which case it was two people who don't -- I'm the rare observer who thinks the Fallen Angel is technically proficient, but who can't strange a decent match to save his life, and certainly not with someone like the Blueprint, but we'll get back to him). A.J. Styles really needed a step in a new direction, and Kevin Nash was exactly what he needed, and that's what the card was all about, getting the Main Event Mafia to not just dominate but work for the company. Samoa Joe never looked better than when he was fighting Sting (until Taz came out, then he completely fell apart, which was, er, ironic). This past Sunday's Bound for Glory was all about getting everything past that point. Styles is champion, and for the first time, TNA is handling it right. Bobby Lashley, not having to worry about "saving" the company, did a submission match with Joe. Kurt Angle took Morgan under his wing, which was exactly what got Styles the big belt (and hopefully, Morgan finally begins to pay off for someone). Eric Young and Hernandez, meanwhile, get the Nash treatment.

WWE, meanwhile, is working its younger players, too. I just watched Breaking Point, and it looks like Kofi Kingston and MVP have elevated their game to the point where they can be compared to their counterparts on Smackdown, John Morrison and Dolph Ziggler, whose match at Hell in a Cell is the reason I'll be picking up that DVD, too. The problem is the wrestling community failing to embrace these guys (I'm looking at you, Wrestleview). They're the future. Hey, it looks bright.

Friday, October 02, 2009

#222. Reading List: 2666

#222

2666 by Robert Bolano finally came to plate, and I couldn't be more pleased. I chose the Spanish version because I think I would actually want to learn Spanish to read it as he wrote it, and I've only read about thirty pages so far (you'd get the urge, too, if you read those pages, on a number of levels). He's a dream writer for the great literature/writer set, and I'm glad this book came out of him before he died. It's going to be a pleasure however long it takes me to read it.

#221. WWE 2003 DVD Collection

#221

Last week I accomplished what probably no one else did in 2009: I completed my collection of the WWE 2003 PPVs. It didn't begin on purpose, and continued on just as accidentally, but over time, it just seemed like something that was not only possible, but almost necessary, honoring one of the least appreciated years in wrestling, whether it was Evolution's first year, Brock Lesnar's last full run, or Goldberg's only tenure in WWE, and any number of other things, it became inevitable. There was a pretty big push earlier this year, scooping up four additional titles a month ago, and then the chance came to finally get Armaggedon, the one I kept avoiding because Goldberg finally fell to Triple H (but it was a good match all the same, probably the best either one competed in all year).

I, er, don't anticipate ever repeating that accomplishment. But, I will be getting TNA's much-deplored Victory Road from this year. I know, I know, I pick all the popular ones. Have you read my column at Lower Decks?

Thursday, September 17, 2009

#220. Reading List: A History of the World in 10 1/2 Chapters

#220

A History of the World in 10 1/2 Chapters by Julian Barnes. The first chapter finally got me back in Noah fiction (as seen in Not Wanted On the Voyage by Timothy Findley, or The Preservationist by David Maine, which I haven't read, but later in the Reading List are a bunch of other books by Maine). The book itself is kind of funny, because I think I must have been thinking of another book, or perhaps another edition, when I bought it. All the same, good stuff.

I'm also reading Flashforward from Robert J. Sawyer as one of my longer term reading materials, thanks to the show, which apparently only takes so much from the book. Still, should be interesting.

Friday, September 04, 2009

#219. Conformists in the Mail

#219

Wow, so I shipped the Conformists pitch off to Dark Horse yesterday. It's a good feeling just to have done that...

Thursday, August 27, 2009

#218. Conformists Scripting

#218

In purely personal news, I'm thrilled to announce that I've finally finished the script for Conformists#1, and I clocked it in at what was my Digital Webbing pace of two days for a 22 page script. Couldn't be happier.

Oh, and now I get to be a parent and try and see it succeed in the world. If it does, I've got eleven other babies to rear...

#217. PWI 500 2009

#217

It's time for our annual Scouring Monk review of the PWI 500!

First, a prelude. I don't know why I never really realized this before, but Pro Wrestling Illustrated's ranking period, roughly summer (A) to summer (B) has probably always been meant to skewer whoever WWE has chosen for the WrestleMania push. A second glance will make this obvious, and the moreso when WWE, for one reason or other, has failed to make a solid commitment in that role. The two most controversial selections in the PWI 500's history for the number one slot were Dean Malenko (1997) and Rob Van Dam (2002). No please, let me elaborate.

In 1997, WWE's WrestleMania plans were thwarted, by whom exactly the tales often vary. Shawn Michaels is the popular selection, and all the more by the events of that year's Survivor Series. By Bret Hart's reckoning, it was Shawn's refusal to exchange the favor he'd made the previous year (in, oh, the greatest main event championship match in the card's history; he never has a problem sharing the glory of 1992's Summer Slam match with Davey Boy Smith, possibly because fortune certainly smiled on him a bit more). Others have it that the Ultimate Warrior foiled the plans by failing to remain a viable employee for longer than a few months following his 1996 comeback. In any event, WWE scrambled to put together a Sid-Undertaker program. Clearly this had never been the plan (other than the fact that Sid had been engaged in a long-term program with Michaels at that point, and Undertaker enjoyed a lengthy reign after it).

At the same time, the nWo had completely overtaken WCW, and hey, the wrestling scene. PWI had listed HBK atop its 1996 500, but his reign wasn't all that popular with the fans (possibly because of the breaking nWo arc that coincided with the hottest months of his reign). Consequently, WCW was forced into the "controversial" position of pushing a star, Hulk Hogan, who was past his wrestling prime (or at least, initial popularity; whatever). This is crucial because PWI prides itself as an objective, even academic exercise, and the PWI 500 is its yearly crowning achievement in that regard. Yet, quite patently, there's nothing really scientific about it. PWI is a fan venture through and through, and it's only for the fact that it is about as close to academic as the wrestling community gets that it can assume to be an authority, even when at the most important moments, it's anything but. Hence the queer association between that WrestleMania push and the top ranking in almost every PWI 500.

Now, the only way a fan is different from whatever wrestling organization he chooses to follow (because for most fans, it's impossible to cover more than a small handful of the wrestling scene, something PWI has the luxury of doing, but routinely squanders in anything but the PWI 500, except in the meaningless reportage it does) is that he does not have to make the decisions that cast the fortunes of the wrestlers. He only has to observe and cheer or boo as he chooses. Simply put, he has the advantage, if he chooses, to make a completely objective stance. Any wrestler who garners any real reaction from that or any other fan, will automatically know it. That's the nature of wrestling.

Therefore, I submit that the only "scientific" way to judge the year of any wrestler is whether or not they've put on a consistently excellent performance, regardless of titles or matches won, how the company they happen to work for actually treats them. The only way to judge a wrestler is how the audience accepts him.

In that regard, PWI is often pretty good, otherwise it would never have chosen Malenko or Van Dam to represent its ranking, regardless of whether or not they actually earned it.

So this is to say, at the very least, given the way PWI's rankings went that year, one would assume that the nWo was in fact a miserable failure from the start, because Hogan's ranking was dismal indeed. In fact, he ought to have been #1.

In 2002, Triple H got the WrestleMania push, but not the top PWI 500 ranking, because his overall year wasn't impressive. He missed half the grading period rehabbing his quad, and his championship reign lasted only one month. Fair enough, PWI.

But RVD? Hardly. Only fans who were invested in the wrestler and not his actual performance would ever have thought so ridiculously highly of him for so long (it's the same reason Chris Benoit got the 2004 PWI 500 top slot over Eddie Guerrero - if you overlook the need for the big WrestleMania push to be the determining factor; it's also why Batista got the 2005 PWI 500 spot over John Cena, even though Guerrero and Cena had consistently better years, over the grading periods, than Benoit or Batista). (And hey, the 2004 question doesn't even mention the fact that Brock Lesnar, Goldberg, Kurt Angle, or Triple H would have made more credible selections than fan favorites Benoit or Guerrero.)

Chris Jericho had just spent a significant portion of the grading period headlining WWE's most important PPVs, wearing the unprecedented unified world championship (one of PWI's writers even tried to defend his ranking once again in this year's issue). If he wasn't good enough, there was Steve Austin, who had just completed his last great run with WWE (but was knocked for cutting out the last few months, which are about as significant when they need to be for PWI writers as the entire first half of the period, which is to say not very). He'd hijacked the Invasion angle, just as Hogan had dominated the nWo angle, despite the fact that technically, it was Hall and Nash's story, had a tremendous series of matches with Kurt Angle over the WWE title, and had still been in the title scene as late as February, when a resurrected nWo, Triple H, and Jericho had taken over the title scene. By nWo I count Hogan, who had his last run with the big belt right after Triple H's big comeback. Oh, and by referencing Hogan, I also mean to bring up The Rock, who deserved a ton of credit for making the defining wrestling match of the modern era with Hogan at WrestleMania.

Jericho, Austin, Angle, or The Rock would have been fine selections. RVD should never even have been in the running.

Speaking of The Rock, he might as well have had the 2000 PWI 500 spot as well. But if not him, then certainly Triple H.

All of this a prelude for Triple H's win in the 2009 PWI 500 lottery. Truth be told, I was somewhat surprised by it. Earlier this week, I had scribbled in my notebook the following names I expected to find in the top ten: Randy Orton (deservedly last year's selection), Jeff Hardy, Chris Jericho, CM Punk, Kurt Angle, and Sting.

I expected Orton to repeat, easily. He had developed himself into the most exciting performer at the start of the year by annihilating the entire McMahon clan, which led into the first legitimate war he's had in his career, with Triple H, who of course, by some twist of PWI logic, ended up with the default WrestleMania push (because he won, which itself was not a problem by any means).

Jeff Hardy I was somewhat pleasantly surprised, didn't make the top ten, because in truth, he didn't have the year to truly merit it. He fumbled around a little too much. Jericho could easily have been #1, if Orton hadn't been. There was nobody hotter than he was last fall, and he's turned dynamic turn after dynamic turn since then. Who else could have helped carry that terrific Ricky Steamboat comeback? Punk had been punked by PWI's reasoning last year, so it was nice to see he made it. Angle was TNA's Jericho, easily, but no respect for that. No respect, in fact, for TNA at all this year, even though, for me, it was a breakout period for the company. Sting got on the list, too.

A.J. Styles made a tremendous comeback from an admittedly lackluster 2008 PWI 500 year, but was hardly thanked for it. PWI sees the Main Event Mafia as a mistake. I see it as increasingly genius. Maybe it's because I hve the inevitable advantage of following developments that just missed the grading period, such as Samoa Joe being elevated to MEM status, or Styles elevating Matt Morgan. Even Hernandez, however, wasn't given any credit, even though he was on the cusp of his own elevation until injury temporarily put it on hold (it'll be the story of the second half of 2009). Alex Shelley, Chris Sabin, didn't get any love, even though they had breakout periods.

Oh, and Brian Kendrick. In is write-up, PWI didn't even bother to acknowledge how hot his fall was. It doesn't matter where he's ended up. A fan would know this, and acknowledge it.

Still, it was a fairly good edition, even if PWI itself failed to appreciate it.

Let's say it's the Monk's ambition to make a truly satisying 500 list.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

#216. Reading List: Good Omens

#216

Good Omens is absolutely the last Neil Gaiman (with Terry Pratchett this time) on the reading list. I love the mass market scheme for this one, so it's a pleasure to spotlight the dueling covers for it from ol' Amazon. From this point, we'll be moving into ridiculously heavy literary territory, but Neil is the kind of English writer that should probably be the poster boy of that country's modern output, even if he's "genre."

I've been on vacation, so that made Fragile Things pretty easy to read through quickly.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

#215. Reading List: Fragile Things

#215

Fragile Things continues my reading list's fascination with Neil Gaiman. It's a short story collection, which is always a nice change of pace, and will help prepare me for a number of longer works not so much farther down the list, so I'll be ready to tackle them. The only problem? Like the Gaimans, they're one-after-another. Still! The list is long and varied, and my dear Theoretical Readers get to share it with me!

Monday, August 17, 2009

#214. Conformists

#214

Last week I finished up the revised synopsis for The Conformists...and then took another look at the Dark Horse submission guidelines in the midst of realizing that I wasn't going to have quite as much time on Friday as I'd had on Wednesday, when I really should have started on the script for the first issue. So I still haven't started, but I did begin vacation yesterday so I'll have all the time I need. I mentioned the guidelines because I'd been under the impression (hope?) that I could electronically submit the project, as I had with the poetry contest entry, and that isn't the case, so that necessitates yet another of the upgrades I'll be needing in the near future:

ink!

I guess that about does it, unless someone allows digital recording for us folks still receiving basic TV (y'know, the suckers who got those digital converters).

...Anyway, I'm feeling pretty good about being on vacation. Really good! I'll check back in at some point within the two weeks for an update...

Saturday, August 01, 2009

#213. Reading List: Anansi Boys

#213

Now to Gaiman:

Anansi Boys, the sequel to American Gods, the first thing I read from Neil. I've since read a handful of the legendary Sandman comics, but Anansi Boys, as I've said, kicks off a series in this Reading List from Gaiman.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

#212. Social Media Whore

#212

Updated the links listed on the right, since I just started a Twitter, where I'm going to be writing a new story. Two down, two million to go?

And I've also got a Facebook, which I started in January but didn't really get behind until about a month or so ago, plus MySpace, which I've been on for a couple years now.

But, Blogger's the oldest!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

#211. Hearing Issues

#211

Okay, so here's a bit more personal:

If you want to come off like an asshole about it, you can feel free to use negative connotations when referring to the fact that you can't hear me. I don't care how much I like you, you're basically saying that whatever else you might think, you think it's my problem and that it's a stupid problem. Well, it's stupid of you to think that way, and it's never pleasant to find out that someone who seems nice isn't always so nice, and more than not nice, can't help but conversationally being, well, an asshole. And I'm talking about an otherwise nice person. It sucks to know they really think I'm just a nuisance, whether they realize it or not, because they can't possibly see, for the smallest part of it, that constantly being told they you can't be heard isn't pleasant.

And that's just a rough idea of it...

Saturday, July 18, 2009

#210. Conformists, Fall In Their Place, Finnegan, Lance Nolan, Smackdown, Main Event Mafia, Ken Anderson

#210

It's funny, the more I prepare the outline for The Conformists, the more detail I find myself wanting to fill in. Normally, I'm pretty happy with far less than what I've done already, but this is the first time I think I might actually have a chance at getting a comic book published.

It's had the effect of blocking up a lot of writing projects. I've been doing a lot of reviews and my regular weekly column, HYGOTS, at Lower Decks, but have been unable to motivate myself to get back on the Fall in their Place edit/entry due in a few weeks, or work on the script for the first Conformists, or for that matter, Finnegan (which I've decided I might just skip out on "Line of the Dead" as part of the title).

But I did make a pretty big decision recently, and that was that my long-gestating Lance Nolan project, which I really don't talk about very often, might be a single book, in the form of Cloak of Shrouded Men (or The Stand, to use a slightly more famous example), rather than a trilogy, which it only really ever was conceived as because that's what sci-fi epics typically come as, at least in film. I'm liking that idea more and more...

To get back to wrestling talk (yay!), I'm pretty glad that I ended up with My Network TV after the converter conversion, because it's helped me familiarize myself with the latest Smackdown roster, which is the most cohesive it's been since around 2003. CM Punk, John Morrison, Dolph Ziggler, Chris Jericho, Rey Mysterio...They've been working so well together in recent weeks that it's like they're reinventing the wheel. Exciting to follow!

TNA, meanwhile, finally advanced Sting past the Main Event Mafia, which is just perfect. The promotion finally seems to be running on all cylinders. Tomorrow's PPV, Victory Road, ought to be a good one.

All that and Ken Anderson counting the days to once again making history? Couldn't be a better time to be a wrestling fan.

Friday, July 17, 2009

#209. Reading List: The Authentic Life of Billy the Kid

#209


The Authentic Life of Billy, the Kid by Pat Garrett, not the edition I'm currently reading, but there you are with an equivalent one all the same. I guess I could also recommend the two Young Guns films as supplemental material. But yeah, after these outlaw books (two books ago, it was "ecoterrorism" A Friend of the Earth from T.C. Boyle), I'll be finally moving on to a new topic, three books from Neil Gaiman. Should be fun!

Thursday, July 09, 2009

#208. Reading List: The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford

#208

Currently reading:

 The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford.

Having seen the movie (and loved it), I was eager to read the Ron Hansen novel, and it has been an absolute pleasure. This is the first of many updates concerning that reading list I mentioned before.

#207. Randy Savage, Edge

#207

In addition to those other DVDs, I've also recently gotten the Randy Savage and Edge sets. I can't help it. I'm a nut for those things, so I'm looking forward to the WCW and Smackdown ones as well.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

#206. Wrestling DVDs

#206

Recently, as I suggested, I picked up a couple of good deals on wrestling DVDs. The first was TNA's second "Cross the Line" collection, featuring Turning Point, Final Resolution (both from the tail-end of 2008), and Genesis (January 2009). It was a good way to catch up visually with what the company has been up to, which by and large has been a huge improvement, and I'm not just saying that because it seems to be the last best hope for one Mr. Ken Anderson. I was originally going to go into detail about what I saw on the discs, but I'll leave the highlight as Alex Shelley/Chris Sabin from the last card (and what a pity it is that TNA fans still don't realize that the "X division" is only really an update of the late cruiserweight divisions of last decade.

Secondly was a WWE two-pack featuring the 2008 and 2009 Royal Rumbles, which was a real treat, because on these cards you can get an unbiased look at the progress the company's superstars from each brand are making in establishing themselves.

Anyway, time is short. Next time I'll labor over the latest WWE trades, maybe. Anyway, they were probably even better than the last draft in getting the right people in the right places with the right momentum. Last note, with my digital converter all hooked up as of last week, I've found that I have Smackdown back. Yay!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

#205. Fall in Their Place, Finnegan, Cloak of Shrouded Men

#205

Well, I did it. I finished up Fall in Their Place last Friday (yeah, I'd been hoping to trick the last one out in the wee hours of Saturday, but because I'm lazy with my time zones here at Scouring Monk, I was thwarted, dear reader), and compiled the initial edit of the collection later that same night. It ended up being the longest of the three blog collections to date, which was kind of frightening, because the thing I hope to submit it to wanted up to 100 pages, not past it. Maybe they'll compromise in the face of greatness...

Anyway, yesterday I accomplished another writing milestone by completing the first draft of the Conformists outline. That company wants five pages, so I'll need to trick out some more words.

It's funny, because I've got my older sister all excited about Finnegan, and The Cloak of Shrouded Men seems to be picking up an inch of steam, pimped as it is by said sister at work and by another friend recently as well.

I picked up some great deals on WWE and TNA collections recently, and that'll be the subject of the next post...

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

#204. Chronicle of Reading List Begins

#204

This is how obsessive I am. I've got a 40-odd title reading list, which I may begin posting the titles here, which isn't an entirely concept for the blog. Several years ago I hatched a scheme to start posting a recommended list here once I started working at Borders and taking notice of the wide range of interesting new and old books out there.

Anyhoo! Still working on my own writing projects. My latest poetry blog will be done by the end of the week, so I'll get to compile and edit the newest collection, which I'll be submitting to a contest.

Monday, June 01, 2009

#203. Mr. Kennedy No More

#203

Really sucked to hear that "Mr. Kennedy" Ken Anderson was released from WWE on Friday, which is kind of funny considering the company recently decided to actively develop "new superstars." Dudes, Kennedy was the new superstar dating back to his debut, and you totally, consistently, dropped the ball. The problem kept being, you could never find a feud worthy of catapulting him. (It was never his wrestling ability, smark marks.) Time and time again, all you thought would work was putting him in feuds against super-established talent. You never let audiences see him as an active, leading member of a newer generation! You can't promote someone like this by assuming the audience will just accept him. If it didn't work for HBK in 1996, what would make you think it would with someone who had far less experience behind him?

Best of luck, Ken. If TNA snatches you up, I instantly become a fan of TNA. If WWE realizes its mistake, perhaps all the better, because the company finally might realize what it's been doing wrong...

Friday, May 22, 2009

#202. Conformists, Cloak of Shrouded Men, Finnegan

#202

Just a quick note on another project, the ongoing Conformists comic book effort. Recently I came up with the big idea behind the team, and have decided it'd be worth to try and put a package together that could be submitted to publishers who're willing to take such things from writers (thank you, Caleb Monroe). I've got twelve characters now, and a tie-in with my book, Cloak of Shrouded Men, just as Finnegan: Line of the Dead incorporates Oliver Row, who was featured in a number of projects from the time the Conformists were first dreamed up at Digital Webbing...

Monday, May 18, 2009

#201. WrestleMania 25 Thoughts

#201

So I got my WrestleMania 25 DVD a few days ago, so I guess I'll do my part in the possible conspiracy to drum up positive hype for the real release date tomorrow.

In a word, I still don't know why people were so down on this card. Okay, not a "word." But still a very good WrestleMania, with the only real downside a possible side-effect of the decision to delete Kid Rock from the event, which neutered the divas match. Most of the deivas, because of how poorly the match was caught on camera (which is atypical for WWE), went by pretty anonymously, which seemed to work against bringing back familiar faces from the past. I just assume with the ring entrances, it would have helped, whether or not Kid Rock was at his best (I personally like him).

The Money in the Bank Ladder Match was exceptional this year mostly to the efforts of Kofi Kingston, who blunted Shelton Benjamin's usual heroics for shear exuberance. Because of how I currently experience WWE product, I'd heard that Kingston is typically like that, but haven't seen it myself. I hope CM Punk can work this win better than the last one.

Ricky Steamboat definitely deserved the hype, too, in his action against Chris Jericho. Makes me want to get Backlash, too.

Rey Mysterio's match against JBL (the Joker was awesome! nice nod to the Daredevil and Flash of past Manias) worked, too, nothing for people to complain over JBL about (he did only his power moves), and all the highlights for Rey-Rey, an actual dominant Mania win for a change, plus JBL banter, which deserves a Mania engraving.

Matt and Jeff put on a good one, too, which was a nice change for Matt, because since my live show last year I'd become convinced that he's not up to par for impact match (read: non-television-based action, which allows him to hide his general immobility) action.

HBK-Undertaker was HBK-Undertaker. What else needs to be said?

The transition to Cena-Big Show-Edge worked, too, because it was a completely different kind of energy, a different match. By the time Cena picked up both opponents for an Attitude Adjustment, it really shouldn't have mattered what match took place before this one. Good to see Show back in a title match at Mania, and I was more engaged in Edge's here than with his main event last year with Undertaker. His chemistry with John Cena just works better.

Then I watched the Morrison/Miz-Carlito/Primo match, and was surprised to see Primo steal the show out from Carlito.

Finally, the much-debated (or, generally disliked) Orton-Triple H. As with the World Title Match, this one had yet another energy to it, a more gritty, "real" intensity to it, a WWE response to an increasingly MMA world, where personal stakes really matter, but are cleverly "constrained" by rules that prevent the match from degenerating into the same bloodbath we've seen a million times before. Triple H was actually going to have to outwrestle Randy Orton. Imagine that!

So as I said, WrestleMania 25 was a winner for me, a tremendous card that carried through, arguably the strongest one-two punch we've seen from the World and WWE title matches (most distinctive, anyway), another strong match beyond that (HBK-Undertaker), a thrilling MitB Ladder Match (adding power figures really worked this time, too, and WWE had to notice the cheers that emerged every time Christian appeared - hey, Vince, I'm not sold on the guy, either, but the fans really like him, and he's easier to root for than RVD, who after all had no mic skills), a celebrity moment that worked (the whole Mickey Rourke saga seemed to finally work itself out) and a bunch of supporting matches with milestone touches.

It ranks as one of the best all-around Manias, unarguably.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

#200. Finnegan, Cloak of Shrouded Men, Poetry

#200

In the very special 200th post here at Scouring Monk (funny, because I'm approaching 300 entries in my poetry blogs in far less time), I've got an update for the Theoretical Reader on my book-in-progress Finnegan - The Line of the Dead. I've had the framework ready for months, chapter titles stolen from the lyrics of U2 songs and a general idea of the story, but today, I sketched out all 72 chapters, which is a huge step forward, one that flowed out relatively quickly. From this point, I may expand the sketches further, or simply wait for inspiration to strike on actually writing it. I have the inspiration of Shadow from Lower Decks and his 100 days 100 100-word stories project he's been working on as a kick in the pants.

Also, because I still like to think of Cloak of Shrouded Men as my baby (and having recently recovered the Paperback Reader revision -which never saw publication, Bart *ahem* - that hopefully cleaned up all the ridiculous typographical mistakes from the iUniverse print), it was amusing to here today that Sarah Gruen's Water for Elephants also began life as a NaNoWriMo project.

Anyway, other news includes the end destination of the current poetry blog, Fall In Ther Place will hopefully be publication, if I can just track down that contest...Seriously, this stuff couldn't lose if it was Vogon poetry. Then again...

WrestleMania 25 the DVD is on its way from WWEShop, or it isn't. I got conflicting reports. That'll be the subject of #201...

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

#198. 2009 Supplemental Draft

Holy crap! For the first time, I'd say the WWE Supplemental Draft was more important than the regular draft, if not for the sheer size of it than the gigantic moves and question marks it raises. To wit:

Raw
Mr. Kennedy - Maybe they actually have a plan for him this time (that untimely injuries won't negate), but this has got to be the biggest mistake of the draft. He's got far more potential on Smackdown than he does on Raw, and Kennedy is a star you don't want to continue wasting.
Primo & Carlito - Actually not as bad as I'd thought, because I'd only seen Carlito's name originally, and you don't want to split the team you just named to the unified tag championship. But Smackdown has long done tag team wrestling better.
Nikki & Brie Bella - Don't really see why they had to move one way or the other.
Chavo Guerrero - Flunked out last time he was on Raw. You really think he'll get better this time?
Hornswoggle - He'll do the same routine either way. Or maybe Kennedy could get his revenge from the whole McMahon-has-a-son angle. The Little Bastard takes a mean Kenton.
Festus - This is pretty much the end of his tenure with WWE.
The Brian Kendrick - Primed for more exposure on Smackdown, but drafted to Raw, where he'll have nothing to do but wait for the axe.

Smackdown
Cryme Tyme - Your strongest tag team, away from the brand with the tag team titles? Seriously?
Alicia Fox - Well, whatever, right?
Mike Knox - Probably a smart move.
Candace Michelle - Torrie Wilson's long-awaited replacement.
Ricky Ortiz - Do they see real potential in this guy, or a chance to burn him off?
Layla - Smackdown has all the fun.
John Morrison - Losing Kennedy is probably worth it if the brand gets the next best thing.
Dolph Ziggler - Aside from a terrible name, he's actually pretty good in the ring. But this is probably another burn notice.
Charlie Haas - Back home, hopefully with stuff to do that doesn't completely involve impersonating legends. Charlie Haasdown!

ECW
Ezekiel Jackson - If splitting Zeke from Kendrick gets one of them some real exposure, it might have been worth it. But then, ask Elijah Burke how well it turned out for him...
Zack Ryder - Former Edgehead and nameless tag team wrestler from ECW (I forget what he was originally billed as), probably another cyal8ter.
DH Smith - Might they finally do Hart Foundation 2.0?
Natalya - Lookin' good...
Shane Helms - Looks like a good time to become ECW champion, buddy.

The biggest shocks were about who wasn't moved, namely Christian and Evan Bourne, but I guess WWE wants to see where their momentum takes them in ECW.

Hopefully next time I won't talk wrestling, but WrestleMania 25 is out on DVD 5/19, about a month away. Maybe I'll post again before then...

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

#197. 2009 Draft

The 2009 WWE draft did this:

Raw
Triple H (not surprised)
Big Show (hopefully they can do something with him this time)
MVP (the biggest question mark of the draft)
The Miz (breaking up Miz & Morrison was necessary and inevitable)
Matt Hardy (breaking up the Hardys was also a good thing)
Maryse (funny that this is finally happening)

Smackdown
Chris Jericho (woohoo!)
CM Punk (woohoo!)
Melina (back home!)
Rey Misterio (ditto!)
Kane (see: Big Show)

ECW
Vladimir Koslov (hopefully a comparable move to Mark Henry's)

Smackdown is the winner, I'd say, a chance to be more dynamic, less predictable, which is always the point of the brand, while Raw is always supposed to be top-heavy (that's what they keep saying, every single year). The only problem is, the very thing the fans complain about they perennially underestimate, the power of Smackdown. If MVP succeeds, they'll cheer him. But if CM Punk succeeds, I wonder if they'll even notice.

Back when the supplemental draft is announced.

Monday, April 06, 2009

#196. WrestleMania 25 Was Tonight

So, WrestleMania was tonight, and at Wrestleview, at least, it was predictably not enough. Still, I thought what I read was interesting as shit. But I'm usually stupid like that...Can't wait to see!

Friday, April 03, 2009

#195. WrestleMania 25 Preview

WrestleMania 25 being two days away at this point, I just want to get a word in, as I usually do, and remind the Theoretical Reader that I'll have input when the DVD is released later on. But the card look absolutely phenomenal. When did Triple H ever have a main event lined up for himself like this? Oh, right, the last time he was at odds with a former member of Evolution. But this one with Randy Orton looks like it's going to be one of the better main events of the recent past. Cena-Edge-Big Show should also be worth checking out, certainly to see a reprise of Cena-Edge on the grand stage, but to see how Show performs in a big match situation, his first title shot at WrestleMania since 2000. It goes without saying that Shawn Michaels-Undertaker is at least worth the price of admission, and then you've also got the battle of the Hardy brothers, the tag team unification bout between Miz & Morrison and the Colons (love to have John Morrison in the spotlight, and that Carlito finally have his featured position as well), and a Money in the Bank match that might depart from the usual script. Plus, Chris Jericho and divas, lots and lots of divas...Personally, I think JBL-Misterio is a little tacked on, but both guys deserve to be on the card so I'm not complaining. Am I forgetting a match?

That's all for now...

Sunday, March 15, 2009

#194. Death of Test

Shocked to hear about the death of Andrew "Test" Martin. He's the first wrestler to die whose career I got to follow the whole way through.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

#193. U2, Finnegan

With the new U2 album out, I ought not just to let you walk away (sorry, that's a Hootie reference) without relating a bit of trivia, which begins with me trying to track down one of their songs I've had stuck in my head for years, but had trouble placing. I was convinced it was 'All That You Can't Leave Behind' era, but it turned out to be "Bad," from the underrated 'The Unforgettable Fire' (and found on two other releases as well). Just one of those songs in the U2 canon whose title isn't very direct.

Anyway, because vof the liner notes, Finnegan, the Line of the Dead gets its provisional chapter titles (and outline) from the "Bad" lyrics (which I had to track down) and "A Sort of Homecoming," whose lyrics grace said liner notes.

'No Line on the Horizon' is a keeper, too. More rocking than past efforts. I'm still working on it.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

#192. Butterflies and Hurricanes

Oh, and wrote a follow-up to "Heath Lange" after all, called "Butterflies and Hurricanes." Realized it means more as a sort-of prelude to the much-hoped-for eventual Bandit comic than anything else. Not much hope for work at this point. But it was a better week for it.

#191. Finnegan, Wrestling

I was just wondering what someone would think if they happened to stumble upon this blog. Oh, I don't be to belittle my beloved Theoretical Readers, either here or at my latest poetry blog, just that I was reading through my old colleague (at Paperback Reader and Dead Letter Quarterly) Derek Koch's Live Journal, and he seems to actually write about his life there. Weird! But I've been blogging longer, Koch!

One of my main projects at the moment has been compiling a reasonably complete record of the films I've watched in my lifetime, at least the one I've really cared to remember (favorably), which will eventually extend to a year-by-year best-of survey. Believe it or not, but I've got movies to cover every year to the '40s. I've seen my share of films, certainly not everything, and I've still got crazy ambitions, but I dedicated the last year to catching up with some of the most glaring omissions, which helped when completing the latest version of my favorite films at Lower Decks, where I made them suffer through a list of 300 (and yes, '300' was on it).

Anyway, enough of that. Another project has sort of supplanted the writing of The God-Slanter at the moment, a book that might actually get me some interest, one in a series of three, really, called Finnegan, stemming from my recovery of a dragon-ball at work last week. If it works out like I hope, soon all will know.

Or, I will revert to my previous plans for the dragon and simply throw it at coworkers. It's spring-loaded, opens on impact.

"Finnegan, attack!"

Oh, and WrestleView has been atwitter about the career and fortunes of Paul London, and for what it's worth, I'm in the lot with ECW recapper David Stephens (I think the ECW/Smackdown show I attended last year coincided with the first ECW he recapped), who will support London to the bitter end. Christian apparently made his big return on ECW rather than Smackdown, which to my mind is sort of appropriate. But he may prove himself out, or maybe just elevate ECW once and for all. Or maybe Jack Swagger will do that. Or Paul Birchall (ha! he's another Rodney Dangerfield. or Paul London). Personally, good luck to London in his future endeavors. I'm concerned once again for his former tagmate, The Brian Kendrick. Unless he can still parlay his exceptional matches last year with Jeff Hardy into something bigger (now that, y'know, Hardy has been heavyweight champion), I don't see his future matching his potential. Once again. Still, I'm excited for WrestleMania 25 in just a few short weeks now...

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

#190. Girl Crazy, Heath Lange

If she simply wants to drive me crazy, she's doing an excellent job of it. I'm a coward, I know, and as much as I want this to work, I'm frightened that it will. It's impossible and possible at the same time. Do you understand how terrifying that is? I've wanted nothing but her for two years, and it seems more likely and less every day. I want to share everything with her, and I want to share nothing. Would she still like me if she knew more?

...

Anyway, wrote "Heath Lange" for my Borders Write Club, and by the end of the session I felt as if I'd made a huge mistake, yet again, another chance and another rejection for what I am and what I could never mean to others. I'd vowed to quit the club, but now I'm having seconds thoughts. Do I write more loosely? Is that a betrayal? These are eternal questions, damning ones, and just more of the things floating through my head.

Yay!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

#189. Colin Farrell

Huge props to Colin Farrell for the In Bruges Golden Globe win. Last year I preferred Cassandra's Dream, but I definitely see if one performance is singled out beween them, the nods goes to In Bruges.

Also, discovered Dave's World is in the midst of hitting DVD. Woot!

Friday, January 09, 2009

#188. Fall In Their Place, TNA, Mr. Kennedy

I've started a third poetry blog, called Fall In Their Place, partly because I just missed blogging poetry, partly because 2009 will be a big writing year for me. I'll be working on The God-Slanter throughout the year, plus my coworkers are restarting their Write Club, and I'm using the first session to give myself a little boost for that project. It should be fun.

TNA, for the record, seems to have put a decent PPV together in the upcoming Genesis, while WWE put a whoppe on with last month's Armageddon, where Jeff Hardy finally became a heavyweight champion. While everyone pays attention to MMA, my heart's still with wrestling. Mr. Kennedy, meanwhile, seems to have found himself in a decent movie in Behind Enemy Lines III: Colombia, which I look forward to checking out, plus The Best of Starrcade is finally being released. I had made a vow to make this year one to start saving some money for a change, but between this, a bunch of CDs (how quaint!) I want to get, and the usual, I don't know. It's a long year!

This was just a quick note to get the blog into the new year. Hopefully I'll be back soon to chat more, O Theoretical Reader!

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