Thursday, July 22, 2010

Question #4!... and a little bit extra!

Yay for lunchtime posts (and posts in general, I guess, hehe)!

Question #4 of Chad's series of 5 questions to me was: If you had to listen to one song (and only one song) for the rest of your life, which song would it be?

Chad and I actually talked about this question pretty soon after he sent me an e-mail listing them. For my song, I chose Mr. Jones by The Counting Crows. This song is my 'happy' song. I keep this cd in my car and whenever I'm in an angry or upset or sad mood, I play this song and belt out the lyrics and everything seems to just disapear. I have had this cd since it was released and I'm still amazed that not once have I found it annoying or boring in anyway, so I take that as a good sign as well.

I also wanted to say that Lady Gaga music is getting to annoy the heck out of me. I teach group fitness classes at Goodlife and also attend these classes quite frequently, and while Lady Gaga songs do have a good beat for that type of stuff, her music seems so bland and boring to me that I would be okay if I never heard another song by her again. So... I wouldn't pick one of her songs to listen to for the rest of my life, or the rest of the day...

I hate to end this on a sour note but I don't have anything else to say right now. Hmmmmm... I'm reading Canadian Wildlife and Cosmo magazines right now, both of which I find interesting and entertaining for obviously very different reasons. I would pick CW over Cosmo 100% any day. I just find the stories and 'advice' they have in there... it's just so ridiculous (that just made me think of Balki from Perfect Strangers)!

Okay, well that ends it for today! Have a great one!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Idiot by Fyodor Dostoevsky (Post 005)

I finally finished this today. I had gotten distracted by the blogathon, comics that needed reviewing, and weekends spent elsewhere than my apartment. I jumped back in last night for the chapter in Part IV that actually made the novel worthwhile after a lot of tedium and concern with the manners and games played by the social class depicted here. Our dear 'idiot' Myshkin is in love with Aglaia and she seems to be with him... except when she insists she isn't, which is a lot. I found all of that terribly frustrating and dull. But, that could be due to my lack of patience with that sort of bullshit. I don't play games when it comes to women and don't tolerate it when they play games with me. Reading about that sort of thing leaves me cold.

Then again, that's all these people do. They say one thing while thinking another and quickly turn about and do the opposite while meaning a third thing. They're all people of whims and that gets tiresome, because there's no consistency beyond there being no consistency.

That said, the final 50-60 pages of the novel are rather strong. Where it takes a turn is Aglaia taking Myshkin to Nastasya's to hash out the weird love/hate thing going on. Dostoevsky has the two men involved stand off to the side, neither sure what will happen, while the women trade barbs and sarcastic comments, trying to see what's going on with Myshkin. In the end, Myshkin chooses Nastasya in an odd scene that's absolutely heartbreaking and powerful. It's a very cinematic piece of writing by Dostoevsky. I could see it happen ala a Leone showdown.

Part of me wishes the novel ended there. One of the areas I've always had problems with Dostoevsky is his endings. Crime and Punishment's epilogue is absolutely awful. The same happens here even though it's three more chapters plus an epilogue/conclusion chapter. I think it would have been more powerful to end on Myshkin choosing the crazed Nastasya over the... well, equally crazed Aglaia. Everything that came after was anticlimactic despite its drama. It couldn't match Myshkin having to choose. His wedding to Nastasya plays out as you expect and what happens after is a little surprising, but doesn't lead anywhere interesting.

I'm not sure what I think about this novel. I really liked the first part and one chapter of the fourth, but the rest... granted, that great chapter from Part IV is great in part because of the build-up of tedium and such. You can't just make great drama happen, it needs the proper foundation. Still... this novel was disappointing. And I've enjoyed most of the Dostoevsky I've read. The Double was a little obvious and some of the short stories I've read haven't blown my mind, but Crime and Punishment and Devils were both fantastic.

I think the problem is that Dostoevsky tried to satirise this class of people. The wealthy folk who spend their days visiting one another and playing these little games. That they lead to tragedy is interesting, I suppose, but you have to wade through the crap far too much. Maybe the lesson is that, yes, they're awful, but Myshkin likes them and sees their goodness... except he's ruined by them. By all of them. There's a sense that he had to do what he did, because of all of them. Because they so looked down upon Nastasya, he had to go to her and redeem her. She was his Mary Magdaline...

I can see why this is one of Dostoevsky's ignored/less favoured works. Maybe when I return to it years from now, I'll appreciate it more. Maybe I'll research it and find the 'best' translation and see if that helps. For now, I'm moving on to the "Legion of Fire" Babylon 5 trilogy by Peter David. A nice trio of light read books before getting into something heavy again.

Link Roundup

What I wrote (or contributed to) online this past week:

* High Road/Low Road on the Money in the Bank PPV
* Wrestling Roundtable PPV Preview of WWE Money in the Bank
* Wrestling 4Rs including my review of the 07.15.10 TNA Impact
* Wrestler of the Week Year 6 Week 16

* Quickie Reviews (July 14 2010)
* Blogathon 2010: Hellblazer (archive post)

Comic Book Resources Reviews
* The Playwright
* Superman #701
* X-Files/30 Days of Night #1
* Predators: Preserve the Game #1
* Officer Downe #1
* The Man with the Getaway Face
* Daytripper #8

Comics Should be Good
* Random Thoughts! (July 20, 2010)

The Splash Page Podcast
* The Splash Page Podcast episode 25

Friday, July 16, 2010

Smarkass Comments: WWE NXT 07.13.10

Oh, NXT, why are you so mediocre? For one thing, half of the episode seems to be killed with introductions and recaps of other stuff. Honestly, is there anyone watching NXT that doesn't watch Raw and/or Smackdown? (The correct answer is no... excluding any family/friends of people on NXT only, but they don't count/care about what's going on elsewhere.) So, once you get rid of the long, pointless introductions and entire segments that are nothing but recaps, you don't have a lot of time to really showcase people. This episode had one mixed tag match and it was... well, whatever. It confirmed for me that "Lucky" Cannon won't be going anywhere any time soon, something I already knew.

That left the "Showtime" Percy Watson Show/battle royal... both of which were underwhelming. Watson was nervous and didn't get much time to do anything. He speaks a little too quickly, but is entertaining. Him and the NXT rookies turning on MVP was lame since the pros were right there. They didn't take it in the natural place it was meant to, which was to then have the Nexus assist the rookies in taking down the pros. Instead, we had the pointless battle royal that was much too long without anything too interesting aside from the Miz eliminating himself to stay fresh for Money in the Bank. The Nexus beat people up... and then did it again. Somehow, they stopped the match when all of the Nexus remained and simply declared the group the winner of the match despite it being a fucking battle royal that wasn't a team match.

I have decided that I want Triple H to be the man behind Nexus and also be the anonymous Raw General Manager. His own little powerplay to take over the McMahon empire. Possibly with Stephanie at his side. Maybe him behind Nexus, her as the GM... Yes, that is what I want.

NXT this week... utterly forgettable and not very good.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Smarkass Reviews: Batista: I Walk Alone (Disc 3)

Like the second disc, this one is just matches.

Match #1: World Heavywight Championship Match -- King Booker (C) vs. Batista (Survivor Series -- November 26, 2006
I was looking forward to this since I'm increasingly becoming a fan of Booker T, but this match was pretty standard face/heel fare. Nothing really stands out as being fantastic. King Booker tried to cheat from time to time, but Batista's passion/power was too much until Booker attempted to nail Batista with the world belt, Batista ducked, and used it himself to pick up the win. This match is noteworthy because it was Batista winning back the belt -- and it introduces us to JBL on commentary. I wish he would come back and do that with Michael Cole.
Winner and NEW World Heavyweight Champion: Batista [**1/2]

Match #2: Triple Threat Match for the World Heavyweight Championship -- Batista (C) vs. King Booker vs. Finlay (Smackdown -- December 1, 2006)
An interesting choice right after Batista wins back the belt, this match was a definite step up with Booker and Finlay not directly engaging one another at first, preferring to focus on the champion. This made Batista take the most punishment, but that only serves his eventual victory. As JBL points out, Batista cheated to win the belt back, so a clean win here against two opponents gives him a bit of credibility back. It's nice to see Finlay in the mix for the world belt even if it was for only one match. He looked like a legitimate threat, probably more than Booker. There was even an appearance from the then-unnamed Hornswoggle. Like the previous match, there wasn't any one spot that stood out, but this was a good triple threat match of PPV-calibre.
Winner and STILL World Heavyweight Champion: Batista [***1/4]

Match #3: World Heavyweight Championship Match -- Batista (C) vs. the Undertaker (WrestleMania 23 -- April 1, 2007)
WrestleMania 23 pisses me off kind of. Not much really, but a little. See, I got back into watching wrestling in October 2007 because of my roommate Adam. We had been in the same program for a year and figured moving in together would work (and it did). But, he just didn't get me into wrestling soon enough since WrestleMania 23 was in Detroit! I got back into wrestling six months too late to attend a WrestleMania across the river! GAH! That bugs me. Not that that has anything to do with this match really. I'd heard a lot of good things about this match and it disappointed somewhat as a result. This was a good match -- very good even -- just not great. I loved how energetic both men were. This was a hard rock version of a wrestling match with none of the pauses or breaks, just two guys going at it hard and fast... for the most part. The usual spots were there. I'd have to watch it again to see some of the storytelling since you need to know where it's heading (not just the result) to get a good picture. I enjoyed this, but thought the ending was a little rushed. This match clearly needed another five minutes or so to make the pacing work better. It also suffered a little with the crowd not knowing who to get behind entirely. That worked better with Undertaker/Michaels since Batista isn't skilled enough to be one half of a match that's carried on technique alone. He needs story and the passion that comes with wanting him to win or wanting him to lose. Again, very enjoyable and very good, but it didn't live up to the hype.
Winner and NEW World Heavyweight Champion: The Undertaker [***1/2]

Match #4: Steel Cage Match for the World Heavyweight Championship -- Edge (C) vs. Batista (One Night Stand -- June 3, 2007)
This match follows their short, kind of shitty match from Judgment Day 2007 and is definitely an improvement. Despite Edge being a chickenshit heel, he pretty much beats Batista here by... well, beating him. Both men attempt escapes, but Edge manages to beat Batista down enough to pull his off. I kind of wish the match had only been 15 seconds when Edge tried to escape through the door right away and Batista grabbed him and thew him across the ring. I wanted Batista to then walk out the door, beating Edge at his own game. There was a funny moment where Edge brought Batista down off the rope so he bounced from it against the cage and, then, off the rope again. Pretty much the only thing that I haven't seen in any other cage match. I would have liked to see Batista go for pin attempts, while Edge tries to escape until later in the match. If there's any big flaw in this match, it's that I didn't think there was a good story. It was just two guys going at it and by limiting Batista to beating Edge, while Edge just tries to survive, that would have made for a good story. All in all, not bad, but nothing special.
Winner and STILL World Heavyweight Champion: Edge [**3/4]

Match #5: World Heavyweight Championship Match -- Batista (C) vs. the Undertaker (Cyber Sunday -- October 28, 2007)
Cyber Sunday 2007 was the first PPV I saw after I got back into wrestling. Adam and I watched it at a bar and I don't really remember much about it. I was more concerned with figuring out who half the people were. This match had the stipulation where fans got to vote on the special guest referee and, of course, they selected "Stone Cold" Steve Austin in his yearly WWE appearance. I'm pretty sure Cyber Sunday stuck around just so they'd have an excuse to bring out Austin once a year. This match was pretty good. It reminded me of their WrestleMania match, but Batista had something to prove a bit more having lost three matches to the Undertaker earlier in the year. Austin's presence was meaningless and didn't affect the match at all. Both men pulled out all of the stops and Batista's rage at the end before delivering the second Batistabomb was good. A fine, fine match.
Winner and STILL World Heavyweight Champion: Batista [***]

Match #6: 6-Man Tag Match -- Batista, Triple H & Ric Flair vs. Randy Orton, Edge & Umaga (Raw -- December 10, 2007)
This match doesn't really amount of anything, but this was a nice moment where, at the 15th Anniversary episode of Raw, Evolution was going to come out and... do something. So, out come Flair, Trips, and Batista, all in Evolution t-shirts. Then, out comes Orton to say that the only group he's proud to have been a member of is Rated RKO with Edge. Flair says they should get a partner and have a six-man tag, Orton reveals that they're one step ahead of him and out comes Umaga. The match itself was pretty much nothing. Some back and forth until Umaga attacked the ref and, eventually, got beaten by the three Evolution guys. A fun inclusion for the set despite the lacklustre in-ring product.
Winners (via disqualification): Batista, Triple H & Ric Flair [*]

Match #7: Batista vs. John Cena (SummerSlam -- August 17, 2008)
Another face/face match featuring Batista. This match suffers from knowing the work that Cena and Batista did together this year at WrestleMania where Batista's heel turn gave that match some much needed energy and storytelling. This one followed a similar path: who is The Man in the WWE? Both men are powerful and somewhat limited in the ring. It was really a matter of who would outpower the other. Cena putting the STFU on Batista was fucking sick -- Batista's leg was bent in a way that didn't look right at all. The result surprised me at the time and it surprised me again since you figure Cena would walk away with the victory here... nope. Interesting choice to put over Batista. A decent match, but one that looks worse in retrospect.
Winner: Batista [**3/4]

Match #8: Batista vs. Randy Orton (Armageddon -- December 14, 2008)
The DVD set is concluded with the two former Evolution members going head-to-head in a strong match. This one came near the beginning of the formation of Evolution, so Randy Orton is accompanied by Cody Rhodes and Manu. Yes, everyone will remember Manu now because he shows up on the Batista DVD set. Early into the match, the two get banned from ringside after the ref catches them mid-beating on Batista (but it looks like they're just about to begin). Batista uses his power, Orton his skill, each man pulling out every move. Orton focused on Batista's neck with some high impact moves to that area and Batista just powered through until winning via Batistabomb. I didn't think this match would leave much of an impression, but the final five minutes were really strong back and forth.
Winner: Batista [***1/4]

Batista's schtick gets a little old after a while, especially when he's up against other faces. But, when he's on, he delivers the goods... it's just that when he's off, he can stink up the place. The DVD set is worth it for the documentary, but the collection of matches are solid. If you can buy this used/cheap, do that.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Saying Things that Aren't: The Invention of Lying

There's a moment in The Invention of Lying where you can see a sketch idea thrown in that, while funny, doesn't entirely mesh with the rest of the movie. Ricky Gervais (whose character has a name I can't remember, because it doesn't matter) has invented lying in a world where no one has ever conceived of not telling the absolute truth. In the process, he told his dying mother a lie about where she would go after (Heaven), it gets overheard and, suddenly, the entire world wants to know what he knows. So, he makes up this story about a Big Man in the Sky and it becomes a sketch that you could title "The Invention of God." It's a funny few minutes of the movie, but it never really pays off and is only there because it's funny to make fun of the insanity of religious thought. Which is fine with me. The moment where everyone learns that 'God' is responsible for bad stuff and the first reaction is "I say fuck the Big Man in the Sky!" is something I can't help but laugh at.

Despite this odd misstep (in the sense of working that bit into the rest of the movie well), I enjoyed The Invention of Lying. It's really your typical romantic comedy with a clever premise. Ricky Gervais is basically himself as a lacklustre screenwriter whose area of focus is the 14th century -- since, in this world, all scripts are based on factual events and are written for someone to simply read to the camera. That alone was clever enough to win me over. The movie begins with him going on a date with Jennifer Garner, who is hot and... actually, I don't think she possesses another positive quality. In fact, no one really possesses any positive qualities. The point of the movie seems to be that, without lies, we'd all be fucking assholes to one another. Everyone is mean and critical, rarely saying anything positive about another person, often revealing themselves to be miserable. Is that how we all are really?

One flaw I really had was that this wasn't simply a world where everyone says what they really think, this is a world where everyone blurts out what they really think. Under one defition, you could say that this is simply adhering to the idea of lying by omission, but I'm not sure that really holds up since that concept of lying is based upon knowing what a lie is. Here, the difference is that people don't say anything that isn't true (except for opinions, but, even then, they don't disguise what they really think)... but you'd think they would have learned to simply not blurt shit out. I mean, why would a waiter feel the need to ask out a woman when he wouldn't say a lie to cover up the desire to do so? He'd simply not say it. Having characters just blurt things out is a way to make the movie funnier, of course, but it took me out of the movie somewhat at first, showing off the artiface and effort of reaching for the jokes.

Later in the movie, the emphasis is placed on the idea that Jennifer Garner loves Ricky Gervais, but won't marry him because of his genetics, instead she's going to marry Rob Lowe because he's handsome despite him being a douchebag. It's typical romantic comedy fare with it laid bare on a superficial level, but it never rings true. There's this idea that despite all of his success and, basically, being God's prophet, Ricky Gervais is nonetheless a loser, while Rob Lowe is a winner even though I can't imagine anyone would be able to spend more than two minutes with him before they decided to beat him to death. They approach other arguments for what would make a good husband/father than simple genetics, but never pull the trigger: namely that someone who will love his wife and kids, and help raise the kids to be decent, caring people is better than being a goodlooking douchebag. Then again, maybe that's just what I wanted to see.

Jennifer Garner ultimately chooses having fat, pig-nosed babies with Ricky Gervais, but I was left wondering why he was so hung up on her aside from her looks. She's fairly stupid and superficial throughout the movie, only liking Gervais once he had money and power. Maybe that's the point: Gervais falls prey to the same traps that Garner does, but has no one to point out that, yeah, she's just a female Rob Lowe, except less openly obnoxious (slightly).

Despite the larger plot problems, there are some good laughs in here. The scene where Gervais is in a bar trying to explain how he said something that wasn't to Louis CK and Philip Seymour Hoffman is genius: he keeps saying lies and they reshape their subjective realities to suit whatever lie he tells them.

If anything, The Invention of Lying seems like a dry run for a better movie ten or twenty years from now that 'adapts' it, but decides to really go with the concept and forget the bullshit love story.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Link Roundup

What I wrote (or contributed to) online this past week:

* Wrestling 4Rs including my review of the 07.06.10 WWE NXT
* High Road/Low Road on the Drew McIntyre/Teddy Long Visa Storyline
* Wrestling Roundtable PPV Preview of TNA Victory Road
* Wrestling 4Rs including my review of the 07.08.10 TNA Impact
* Wrestler of the Week Year 6 Week 15

* Quickie Reviews (July 7 2010)

Comic Book Resources Reviews
* Batman and Robin #13
* The Great Ten #9
* The Boys #44
* Thor the Mighty Avenger #1
* Batman: Odyssey #1
* Demo Vol. 2 #6
* Sparta, U.S.A. #5
* Gødland #32

The Splash Page Podcast
* The Splash Page Podcast episode 24

Smarkass Comments: WWE Raw 07.12.10

Some brief thoughts on last night's episode of Raw...

* I enjoyed the Nexus randomly beating up people backstage. While they don't work as a threat necessarily against a group of wrestlers, they work well in that seven/six-on-one situation.

* The Brady Bunch parody was surreal. And funny as hell.

* Randy Orton hitting the RKO on Evan Bourne mid-Airborne was fucking awesome.

* Mark Henry is a good choice to fill-in for R-Truth at Money in the Bank and the Miz didn't look too bad against him.

* The shit with Ted DiBiase, Maryse, and John Morrison was bad. None of them delivered on the mic. Maryse can talk, but she stuck to French, which kind of defeats the point.

* Eve was awful on commentary.

* Two Divas matches on a PPV? When was the last time that happened? I checked and the Royal Rumble this year had a Divas dark match in addition to the match on the show, but that doesn't count. It was Night of Champions a year ago and that's just because the gimmick of event calls for every title in the WWE to be defended. If we set that aside, I'm not sure there ever has been one since the Divas Championship was introduced at the Great American Bash in 2008. Without the titles, is there any reason to have more than one Divas match on a PPV? What's sad is that it's much more common for there to simply be no Divas match.

* The ending was decent, but didn't wow me.

Overall, a fine episode. A few high moments and a lot of standard fare.

Monday, July 12, 2010

HA! Paul Blart: Mall Cop

I watched Paul Blart: Mall Cop this evening, writing about it on Twitter as I watched, and I thought I'd compile those thoughts here as a makeshift review/summary/warning:

HA! You think he won't get to be a cop because he's fat, but he doesn't get in because he's hypoglycemic! HA! His wife married him for citizenship and left him with their daughter! HA! He rides a segway! HA! The segway can't go faster than this little shit of a dog and -- HE JUST RAN THE DOG OVER! AWESOME! HA! He was checking out a woman and ran into a car in the middle of the mall! HA! Now he's using the security cameras to spy on the woman! HA! He actually cares about his job when everyone else doesn't give a fuck! HA! A new trainee can't drive his segway and has gotten lost in the weird corridors you never see in malls! HA! He's nervously talking to the woman and trying to look important, but he's just a mall cop and, therefore, a loser! HA! A douchebag is pointing out that he's a fat loser in front of the woman he likes! HA! A hot chick and a fat lady are fighting over the last bra in a certain size at Victoria's Secret! HA! Paul Blart is fighting the fat lady and she's lost her shirt almost! HA! He's in a nacho eating competition! HA! He's drunk and being all drunk-like! HA! He has no matches on his online dating account so he's crying! HA! He got a tattoo while drunk of the Loch Ness Monster! HA! The weird serious plot involving tough guy robbers is beginning! HA! He's playing Rock Band while the bad guys take over the mall! HA! The new security guard is the leader of the bad guy robbers! HA! He just realised what's going on and is going to have to save the day! HA! The SWAT guy used to pick on Paul Blart in high school and is mocking him some more! HA! The bad guys are spray tanning him! HA! Paul Blart's daughter is a hostage, too, but she's talking him up to that woman he likes! HA! Paul Blart is an unstoppable killing machine! HA! He passed out because of his hypoglycemia and is forced to eat an old, dirty lollipop from the floor! HA! The douchebag that mocked Paul Blart earlier is revealing himself to be a coward! HA! The bad guy just figured out he's got Paul Blart's daughter as a hostage! HA! The bad guy just made Paul Blart look like a loser in front of his daughter! HA! The Indian ex-bf of the teenage daughter of a guy who Paul Blart knows and whose cell phone he borrowed is tracking it via GPS because the bad guys took it! HA! The bad guy is going to steal a small plane and head for the Cayman Islands with Paul Blart's daughter and woman! HA! Paul Blart has a giant tattoo on his back above the small Loch Ness Monster one! HA! Paul Blart took down the bad guy and MASSIVE SWERVE THE SWAT TEAM LEADER IS ONE OF THE BAD GUYS! HA! He was a threat for all of 30 seconds before he was taken down! HA! The hot woman is totally into Paul Blart now, because he's an unstoppable killing machine! HA! The cop offers him a job, but he's going to stay a mall cop, because that's what he does best! HA! Extra scene over the final credits: Paul Blart marries the woman he likes and they ride away on segways! HA! That movie is over and I can safely say that it wasn't entirely bad!

One final note: when I went to find the movie in the TMN On Demand directory, I first looked under comedy... it wasn't there. Consider that.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Smarkass Comments: WWE Smackdown 07.09.10

Some quick thoughts on last night's Smackdown:

* Drew McIntyre and Teddy Long opening the show was a good choice, but the execution was a little too goofy and stupid for my tastes. Both men handled it as well as they could. McIntyre's tone was fantastic at times.

* The threeway match for the Money in the Bank spot was pretty good, but I didn't like the finish. How did Dolph Ziggler win? MVP didn't tap nor was there the standard check to see if he was out that comes with the sleeper. The match needed some more heels, so Ziggler makes sense.

* The Kingston/McIntyre match was the best match McIntyre has been in so far. Maybe the recent shit and deportation has made him realise he needs to up his game.

* Christian taking out Matt Hardy when they were supposed to be tag partners was great. I thought they were going to fight each other at first and was a little disappointed that they were tagging together. Thankfully, they went this route. I expect a match between the two of them on next week's show.

* Man, Rey Mysterio is such an awful world champion. Nothing but getting his ass kicked. They overdid it so much with Jack Swagger that, if Mysterio even competes at Money in the Bank, it will look unrealistic. I wonder what they'll do with that.

* Who doesn't love "Dashing" Cody Rhodes? Morons, that's who.

* The final bit between Swagger and the Big Show was good, but I would have liked to see Swagger a little more in there.

Not an episode that inspires a lot of comments or opinions, but a solid show.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Frank Delaney's Re: Joyce Podcast

I saw a link to Frank Delaney's Re: Joyce podcast yesterday and listened to the episodes today. Delaney is working his way through James Joyce's Ulysses five minutes per week and it's wonderful listening. So far, he's done an introduction episode and four more dealing with, so far, only the opening page of the novel. If you've never read Ulysses and want to get an introduction, this is a good place. If you're a fan of the novel and want to hear a fantastic podcast on the subject full of information and analysis, this is also a good place. Delaney is a wonderful speaker and his reading of the novel makes it come alive.


So, we just finished watching Babylon 5 (this has to do with one of the questions that Chad asked me) and started watching Nip/Tuck which is a show that I started watching when it first came out and have only seen random episodes since season 1. As absurd of a show as it is, I became hooked on it immediately. Perhaps sensory overload? Perhaps my tendancy to latch onto characters easily? Perhaps for the only reason that it's hard to look away from something that's so twisted? In any case, I loved it and so I recently bought season 1 on DVD. We've only watched the first two episodes, but it's not quite what I remembered it to be. I still like it, but I think I've become more sensitive to things because I find it a lot more intense and not as much enjoyable/mindless as I remember it being. In any case, I'm looking forward to watching more episodes and seeing whether it just takes a little more time to get in to it, or whether I may be putting buying other seasons on hold.

Question #3!!

Wow, so I didn't actually realise how long it's been since I've written anything on here until I looked on here and saw how many posts Chad had made! So, now that I again have some time, I thought that I would continue to answer Chad's questions to me!

So, here is question number 3: Thinking back, what movie that we saw together in the theatre have you liked the best?

Hmmmmm, well, have gone to see a number of movies, I think more so closer to when we first got together, and with my awful awful memory I'm sure that I'm missing movies that we saw together (yes, even if I loved them, there's a really good chance I forgot about them!) but one for sure that I liked a lot was the Batman movie. I don't have to say why, everyone pretty much knows why it was really good. I would say that Batman is tied with Inglorious Bastards. I loved this movie quite a bit and even just recently bought it at Blockbuster. I love Blockbuster sales.

There have also been some movies that I was suprised that I liked/didn't like. I was really holding out for The X-Files movies... I am a crazy fan, or at least use to be crazy and now I just know stuff about it, and I tried really hard to like this movie, I really did. It was simply just aweful. It was like a really badly organised episode that was trying to cram in every aspect of Mulder and Scully's character they could and a lot of aspects from the show as well, in a way that was really obvious and just really bad. Perhaps my excitement for this movie hyped it up a little, but it's one that I don't have any interest in owning because I know I may watch it once and then probably never again.

On the other hand, I am totally not a fan of the what I call 'stupid comedy' movies (a.k.a. comedies). I'm not sure why. I think it's because I have a really dry sense of humour and more vulgar/slapstick stuff just really doesn't work for me. But, I found that I actually liked the majority of Pineapple Express. It was pretty funny and cute at times, but then the plot went all weird and crazy at and it lost some of it's appeal. I think Chad has similar views about this movie, too.

So, ya! There we have it! Thanks for reading and enjoy your day!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Smarkass Comments: WWE Raw 07.05.10

I wasn't sure what to expect heading into tonight's episode of Raw, but it was a pretty good show overall. There were some low lows, but, for the most part, I enjoyed it.

* I love how the heels attacked the faces when they went to attack the Nexus. You know what's more interesting than two forces fighting one another? Three forces fighting one another, particularly when one of those forces would be outnumbered by quite a bit and obviously don't have the strength/talent to stand on equal ground yet. The Nexus versus the entire Raw roster wouldn't work, because there's no way the Nexus would have a chance. Plus, this is more interesting. I never bought that united front bullshit.

* The red herrings that Stone Cold Steve Austin is the anonymous Raw GM are fun, but pointless.

* Maryse works so much better in a valet role than as a wrestler. Her in-ring talent is marginal, while her real appeal is in her personality and looks. Sticking her with Ted DiBiase works well. I kind of wish she kept Morrison's robe and had Ted toss a few bucks onto Morrison's body as payment.

* The Miz taking out R-Truth was good in its execution, but it does make me think we'll just have to have more of these two and, well, I'd rather see the Miz move on to bigger and better things.

* Chris Jericho and Edge in the ring talking? Always good. Though, their little discussion of Nexus makes it seem highly unlikely that Jericho is behind it all. I thought that might be the case and that, as a part of his plan, he's the one that got in Sheamus's ear that maybe the heels shouldn't play nice with the faces. Ah well.

* The tag match was pretty good.

* The Kozlov & Santino/Regal & Khali match was shit from beginning to end. Regal deserves better. But, he does work well as a pompous foil to the comedy duo of Santino and Kozlov. They just need to write it better.

* The Usos and Alicia Fox interviews both did the same thing: pointed out to me that no one actually cares about any of those people yet. Not exactly the goal, I imagine. The Usos are intriguing, but haven't done anything to make me care beyond teasing the idea of a decent match with the Harts. Alicia Fox asked the questions no Diva should ever ask: if anyone cares about her or the Divas Championship... she doesn't want to know the answer.

* The final segment with Cena and Barrett was good with Darren Young acting as the first Nexus casualty (aside from a guy whose name escapes me right now...). I was a little confused when we saw that the Nexus guys and the faces with Cena disappeared -- where did they go? But, Cena unleashed is good.

All in all, an enjoyable episode that advanced the Nexus story and continued to build to the PPV.

Smarkass Reviews: Batista: I Walk Alone (Disc 2)

The second and third discs are just matches, so let's dive in...

Match #1: OVW Heavyweight Championship Match -- "The Machine" Doug Basham (C) vs. Leviathan (Ohio Valley Wrestling -- November 28, 2001)
Before he was Batista, he was Leviathan, a mythical monster of a man raised from the Ohio River by a witch or something. This match isn't really anything special. It doesn't flow too well, but it does have Jim Cornette on commentary making it seem like the biggest thing to ever happen. Batista does most of the stuff that he would do in the WWE: powerbomb, spear, maybe a spinebuster thrown in... He did use the chokeslam at the time, too, which I don't remember ever seeing him use in the WWE. The match was no dq, so there was plenty of interference and even the use of two refs. You really get the sense of watching two guys still learning and improving, trying to make the basics work before doing anything too complicated. All of which is fine, just nothing too amazing.
Winner and NEW OVW Heavyweight Champion: Leviathan [*1/2]

Match #2: Batista vs. Kane (Armageddon -- December 15, 2002)
Jumping ahead a year, Evolution hasn't begun yet, but Ric Flair is mentoring Batista, so things are moving in that direction (the group would form officially a month later). This was Batista's first PPV match and it's a fine outting where the point is to make him look like a force against Kane. It's a good way to put over Batista since Kane is also a big man and beating him puts you at a certain level immediately. Flair interferes quite a bit, which helps Batista gain the win. It's a solid little match, nothing special. Batista is still pretty dull in the ring and an agile Kane can't drag him to a good match yet.
Winner: Batista [*1/2]

Match #3: Batista vs. Shawn Michaels (Armageddon -- December 14, 2003
Jumping ahead another year, Evolution is on its way to dominance with Randy Orton winning the Intercontinental Championship earlier in the evening and Batista and Flair to win the World Tag Team Championship later in the evening. But, in between, we've got Batista versus Shawn Michaels. In the documentary, Batista mentions this as the first match that felt like a success for him, the first one where he showed that he can make it in the WWE, and put on a good show. I don't know if I would go that far, but it's definitely a step up from the first two. Batista is more fluid in the ring, more in command of his character, and is carried somewhat by Michaels. Flair interferes again, but Michaels does well against him, including on of my favourite things to see: a guy running at another only to be put down with a single punch. Michaels is one of the best sellers in the business, so he makes Batista look great by selling how beat up he is by the end of the match. Things end with Michaels getting out of the Batista Bomb and hitting Sweet Chin Music, which allows Michaels to not lose to a relative newbie while still making Batista look like he was close to victory. Pretty much all you could ask for.
Winner: Shawn Michaels [**]

Match #4: Tables Match for the World Tag Team Championship -- Batista & Ric Flair (C) vs. the Dudley Boyz (Royal Rumble -- January 25, 2004)
I'm kind of surprised they went with this instead of Batista and Flair winning the belts at Armageddon since that would be a nice follow-up to the Michaels match. Anyway, this is pretty short and nothing too impressive. The Dudleys dominant at the beginning, taking advantage of Batista's inexperience to take him out and, then, double-teaming Flair until Batista can power he and Flair to victory rather quickly. Kind of a pointless inclusion and lame even by tables match standards.
Winners and STILL World Tag Team Champions: Batista and Ric Flair [1/2*]

Match #5: Batista vs. Chris Jericho (Vengeance -- July 11, 2004)
This was a nice little match with a typical big man/little man dynamic. Batista dominated with a few outbursts of quickness and strategy by Jericho thrown in. It was built around the idea that Jericho couldn't take Big Dave off his feet, so when he did, the crowd went wild. Batista showed some good ring intelligence by countering a few Jericho moves in ways that he wouldn't have earlier in his career. Not advanced stuff or anything, but more subtle ways that don't rely on simply overpowering Jericho. Batista got the win as he continued his rise to the top. A solid match all around.
Winner: Batista [**1/2]

Match #6: Except from the 30-Man Royal Rumble Match (Royal Rumble -- January 30, 2005)
We begin this moments before Batista came out at #28. He came in with some presence by delivering a Batistabomb on Kane and taking out some other guys. The next two guys were Christian and Ric Flair with Flair providing the best moment of this short bit when he attempted to grab Batista by the back of the head to pull him to the ropes and eliminate him, but Batista didn't move and Flair just fell down. Flair turned on Batista pretty quickly, which contributed to his turn against Trips and Flair. It eventually came down to Batista and John Cena (I loved how the final four were all guys who had never won a world belt -- remember when the Rumble was about elevating someone new to the main event?) with a botched finish where both men went over and Batista clearly hit first a little bit. I liked the whole story with the Raw refs saying Batista won and the Smackdown refs saying it was Cena, with Batista then throwing Cena out again -- followed by Cena throwing Batista out, too... until McMahon ordered the match restarted and Batista won. That wouldn't stop Cena from winning the WWE Championship off JBL at WrestleMania 21, but it did set up Batista going after Trips's World Heavyweight Championship.
Winner: Batista [N/A] (since I didn't see the whole thing)

Match #7: World Heavyweight Championship Match -- Triple H (C) vs. Batista (WrestleMania 21 -- April 3, 2005)
I wasn't expecting to like this match as much as I did since neither one of these guys blow me away in the ring anymore. As well, the story to this match is so key with Batista's slow turn against Triple H -- and while I know the story, that's not the same thing as experiencing it. But, the storytelling was strong with Batista as the clear underdog while Triple H uses his experience and ring-savy (and cheating) to make up for Batista's superior power. Batista is tenacious, but Triple H controlled the first half to two-thirds of the match pretty much until Batista hit the slingshot off the steps on the outside, sending Trips flying into the ringpost. That was the turning point with Triple H doing a good blade job. Michelle doesn't like blood, but she admitted that it worked here. I'm not the biggest fan of blood either -- but, like any storytelling tool, when it's used well, it works. The problem is that it isn't used well far too often. Here, it was a tangible sign that Batista has struck a meaningful blow against Triple H, that maybe he could win despite the odds being against him. After that, Batista was in control a lot more and even kicked out of a pin attempt after Triple H hit him with the belt behind the ref's back. Cheating wasn't enough to beat the Animal here as he eventually overpowered Triple H to win the title. It felt earned and was a great victory, partly because of the storytelling where Batista slowly gained the upper hand, culminating in that one move that turned the tide and put momentum on his side.
Winner and NEW World Heavyweight Champion: Batista [****]

Match #8: Hell in a Cell Match for the World Heavyweight Championship -- Batista (C) vs. Triple H (Vengeance -- June 26, 2005)
I've seen this match a couple of times already since it's on the Triple H DVD set I have. But, I liked it more this time having seen the WrestleMania match. I'm a little disappointed that they didn't include the match at Backlash just to give us all three of these matches. I know why they didn't obviously, but it would have been cool to see the whole story from the Royal Rumble through all three matches against Triple H. There were a few things that I found interesting here. First off, it was very back and forth from the get-go. Batista was on more equal footing with Triple H, leading into Triple H always being the guy who brought in a weapon. He was the first to use the chain, the barbed wire chair, and the sledgehammer. Batista was confident and knew he could beat Triple H, so Trips was more likely to look for something to give him the edge. They still played up Trips's experience edge, especially since he'd been in numerous Hell in a Cell matches. After two losses, the match stipulation gave him back his edge, but it wasn't enough. They also played up the idea that there was no way that Batista was going to beat Triple H for a third time in a row by giving Triple H a lot of pincovers after finisher-quality moves only for Batista to kick out. People expected the match to end at those times, especially near the end. Batista won the match by finally using the ring steps as weapons, but the sort where it was to work with his power moves. By the way, Batista can't blade for shit. Though, his back acne worked well with Trips's use of the chain and barbed wire chair. I really liked the small touch of Triple H sucking in some blood from his face, so when he came off the top rope and Batista raised the sledgehammer to hit him in the chin, he could spit blood out. The finish was good with Triple H trying to use the sledgehammer only for Batista to hit the Batistabomb and retain the belt. I'm surprised how well this worked right after the WrestleMania match.
Winner and STILL World Heavyweight Champion: Batista [****]

Match #9: No Holds Barred Match for the World Heavyweight Championship -- Batista (C) vs. JBL (Summerslam -- August 21, 2005)
I have no idea why this match is on the DVD. I really don't. The next match provides a good enough account of Batista being a fairly dominant world champ. I guess they needed two. Listen, if you read the participants in this match along with the stipulation and immediately thought of what the match would be like, you'd be right. It's exactly what you'd expect from a no holds barred match between Batista and JBL: they brawl, they use a weapon or two, Batista eventually overpowers JBL. The only interesting thing was Batista hitting the Batistabomb and, then, instead of going for the cover, noticing the steel steps that had been brought into the ring and then Batistabombing JBL onto the steps. I'm fairly certain that spot happens only because either Batista or Triple H realised after their Hell in a Cell match that that spot would have been awesome and were pissed off that they didn't think to do it then. This isn't a bad match, it's just mediocre.
Winner and STILL World Heavyweight Champion: Batista [**]

Match #10: World Heavyweight Championship Match -- Batista (C) vs. Eddie Guerrero (No Mercy -- October 9, 2005)
The final match of the disc and it's pretty good. The story (from what I can piece together) is that Eddie Guerrero is trying to be a good guy, to no longer lie, cheat, and steal in order to win, and he wants to earn the respect of Batista by winning or losing cleanly. That aspect of the match isn't used much at the beginning where it's Guerrero using speed and skill against Batista's power and... er, power. But, as the match progresses, Guerrero goes outside to get a chair, but then stops and throws it away. Later, he unties the tag rope in the corner, but stops and throws it away. Even later, the ref is down, Batista is down, and it's the perfect chance to use the chair: Guerrero gets it, brings it in the ring, and hesitates, almost uses it a couple of times, but throws it away. Throughout this part of the match Guerrero was dominant through various holds and submissions, just beating Batista down with skill. There's a funny moment where Batista counters a Texas Cloverleaf attempt by rolling Guerrero up and Michael Cole comments on the rare finesse move from the Animals, calling it an act of desperation -- this, friends, is a small example of Cole not doing his job right. You want to sell it as Batista seeing that his regular strategy doesn't work, so he manages to dig deep and pull off a move beyond his normal skillset in order to stay alive -- he's not desperate, he's determined, and improving mid-match. The final use of the chair bothers me a little, because Batista sees him throw it away, but still acts like he was going to use it and gets pissed off. I hate shit like that. It's like when Wrestler A goes to hit Wrestler C with a chair, but Wrestler C ducks, so Wrestler A winds up hitting his buddy Wrestler B who was standing behind Wrestler C and Wrestler B gets pissed off and attacks Wrestler A assuming he did it on purpose. It's lame and tries to sell us on the idea that these guys are idiots. I would have preferred Batista seem happy and then kill Guerrero anyway, because they're still in a match. But, Batista goes full force on Guerrero, but Guerrero manages to gain the upperhand only to miss a Frog Splash (more like see Batista getting ready to move, so he rolled through it) and get hit with a Spinebuster (his second in pretty short order). After the match, Batista pulled up Guerrero and Guerrero offered his hand, which Batista accepted. A great moment when Batista turned his back and Guerrero got his shiteating, evil grin on only to lose it immediately when Batista turned around. A solid, fun match all around even if I didn't like the odd thing.
Winner and STILL World Heavyweight Champion: Batista [***1/4]

While the first few matches of this disc were what you expect from an early Batista, I was really impressed with his two matches against Triple H. Give Batista and quality opponent and a decent in-ring story to tell and he can work that match. Here's hoping the second disc has some great ones.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Smarkass Reviews: Batista: I Walk Alone (Disc 1)

Not exactly high on my list of WWE DVD sets to get, but Michelle and I were in Blockbuster today and they had this three-disc set for $10 used plus 30% off as part of a sale. It's hard to pass up this sort of set for seven bucks. I don't have anything against Batista really. I liked him when I got back into wrestling in 2007, but he's the sort of the guy who you tire of quickly in the ring. He's pretty limited in what he does and it gets a little stale after a while despite it being exciting/entertaning when you first see it. He's definitely got that special quality and the ability to work with different guys. Even after I grew tired with him, he would still get me interested in seeing him wrestle from time to time like his short feud with Rey Mysterio at the end of 2009. This set was done at the beginning of the fall in 2009, which kind of sucks only because it's less than a year later and he's no longer with the WWE.

The first disc of the set is devoted to a documentary feature on Batista and I always enjoy these. The first 20-30 minutes are about his life before he got into wrestling with the rest detailing his career with some personal stuff thrown in. It's well done for the most part. They do go a bit overboard in trying to cover up Batista's negatives, even when detailing his personal problems with his ex-wife and the mother of his two daughters. They all gloss over some of the backstage problems he had that I know of and whatever I don't know about. It's very much about making him look like a great guy -- and you can't blame them for that. You're not going to get a documentary full of negative interviews about a guy still working for the company as Batista was at the time. That wouldn't make any sense. Still, I would have liked something to round things out a little more.

I don't have a lot of detailed thoughts on the first disc, so I'll just throw out some random stuff:

* I was really surprised when Batista's mom showed up on the screen. I don't know what I expected when I thought about what his mom would look like, but that wasn't it. Nothing negative meant by that, it was just surprising.

* Triple H is right in noting that, at that time, Batista was the success story of Evolution. Randy Orton may have gotten a world belt before big Dave, but Batista's time post-Evolution had him as a bigger star. Though, I think, on the whole, Orton will have the bigger career. It's a short-term vs. long-term thing.

* You'd think they couldn't discuss the break-up of his marriage without discussing Batista's rampant cheating on his wife, but they did.

* Everyone says 'wrestling' and 'wrestlers' except for Batista who, being a good company man, says 'sports entertainment' and 'sports entertainers.' That amused me.

* Dammit, I want an Evolution DVD set. I really wish the WWE had done one around the time that Randy Orton, Triple H, and Batista were all mixed up in the same feud. That would have been fantastic.

* The stuff about Batista having a hard time when he got drafted to Smackdown while world champ was interesting since I never thought about that: the two brands were separate, almost like two different camps of guys, so a new guy coming in as the top guy right away would cause some problems.

* Fuck, I wanted to see Booker T present his views of Batista. Obviously wasn't going to happen, but it would have been fun.

* The WWE made Batista buy a suit for his on-screen character as Deacon Batista? That surprises me for some reason.

Despite the bias, this, like most of the WWE documentary discs, is worth watching. You get a decent look at a guy's career in 90 minutes with some fun interviews. Since the documentary is only 90 minutes and the bonus interview segments only like 10-15 minutes, I would have liked to see some matches on this disc, too, to allow for some more on the last two. The first match on the second disc, an OVW match, would have worked better here, acting more as a bonus feature than part of his official career. But that's not a big deal. The next two discs will get write-ups after I finish each of them.