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Jumping From the Top Rope

Hulk HoganThere were lots of things that captured the youth imagination in the ’80s. There were loud fashions, Swatches, music videos and the Brat Pack. For me, though, professional wrestling ranked high on my list of interests.

In the middle of the decade, there was no greater wrestling organization than the WWF. Back then, the World Wrestling Federation – now WWE –had not been fighting with pandas over their name. I think I was in sixth grade when it first caught my eye. There had been this thing called Wrestlemania, and after the success of the first couple of years, it really started picking up steam.

In my neck of the woods, the weekly show was syndicated on one of my local stations. There were dudes dressed up in tights with names like Andre the Giant, King Kong Bundy, the Iron Shiek, and Hulk Hogan. They always seemed to be angry with one another, and after all the posturing in Mean Gene Okerlund interviews, they would come out to the ring in front of a capacity crowd and beat the crap out of each other.

I was 12, and I had no idea that wrestling was more theatrics than sport. It gradually dawned on me that these guys couldn’t really tour around and hate each other constantly. I mean, if you hate the people you work with, and you’re constantly getting into fights, would you stay with that job? Also, some of the moves seemed like they were designed to distribute the force across the body so as to not actually hurt the other person. I mean, stomping the foot when they hit a dude, landing on the upper back when getting knocked down, choking a dude on the ropes when the rips are under the armpits… it’s clearly fake, right?

What did I know? I was 12. All I knew was that there was a dude named Hulk Hogan who told me to say my prayers and take my vitamins, and I would be able to defeat any challenge that came my way. That was easier said than done for a kid with a giant head and tiny body. I still have a giant head, but my body seems to have caught up.

Regardless, like many wrestling fans my age, I completely idolized Hulk Hogan. He was uber-patriotic. He would carry the flag into the ring. He would fight people who picked on the little guy, and he was like the modern-day Superman without all that flying stuff.

I remember watching these shows and getting so excited if they mentioned Hulk Hogan would appear. The best entrances, though, were the ones where you never expected him to appear. Like this one… (cue it to :45-ish)

When the music starts (“Real American” by Rick Derringer, btw) in the clip, I still get that same feeling I had 25 years ago watching Hulk Hogan come in and beat down some moron.

I don’t remember when I stopped watching wrestling. As I got older, it just wasn’t as important to me anymore. Certainly as the ’90s wore on, wrestling got more and more into story lines and less about wrestling. In fact, I challenge you to watch a WWE show today and find any wrestling within the first 20 minutes. It can’t be done.

I still remember what the Hulkster taught me, though. He always said that if I applied myself, I could accomplish anything in the world. That’s what Hulkamania was all about… not letting people tell you that you can’t do something… and showing people what hard work and determination can accomplish.

As my kiddo grows up, I try to instill that kind of positive thinking in him. I want him to succeed so bad. I want him to succeed in ways I never did. If a problem ever approaches him in life, I want him to have the confidence to jump from the top rope and knock it on its ass.

I Once Worshipped the Devil

While everybody else was breathing a sigh of relief that the world didn’t implode when all our clocks hit midnight at the end of 1999, I spent a better part of the year 2000 playing a new video game called “Diablo II.”

I was single at the time, and when I wasn’t busy working or going out on first dates that never turned into seconds, I would sit at home playing this fantasy role-playing game on my Mac.

Back then, there were very few game makers that supported the Mac. Blizzard was a little late to the game, but during early development of “Diablo II,” they figured out an easy way to write the code for the game for a PC and then quickly port it over to a Mac. This allowed for them to release patches for both platforms at exactly the same time, and each platform worked exactly the same (with the same bugs, too).

Again, I had never seen a developer really care much about the Mac users. Back then the marketshare for Macs was pretty small. Once the iPod came on the market, though, users started to see how Macs could be useful in their lives, and marketshare has since improved dramatically. Now, virtually all big name PC game designers port their games over to the Mac. There are few exceptions.

You could safely say that back then, I worshipped the devil – that is, I loved “Diablo II.” Now, 12 years after the release of D2, I’m about to get devil fever again. Blizzard announced that “Diablo III” will be released on May 15. It’s supposed to be the most impressive game ever made, and given what I’ve seen at the Diablo III website, I don’t doubt it.

Here’s the opening cinematic, which features an old character… Deckard Cain.

Categories: About Me, Games, Technology Tags:

Taking a Leak: The Damon Lindelof Way

Damon Lindelof at San Diego Comic-Con 2007

Photo by donabelandewen@Flickr

Before I write this diatribe, I have to make an admission. I love Damon Lindelof. He’s one of the best writers in Hollywood (LOST, Prometheus, Star Trek 12). He’s uber-talented, and if I were gay, I would be all over him like Rush Limbaugh at the douchebag convention’s all-you-can-eat buffet. So, it’s with love that I write this, and if Damon Lindelof ever reads the rest of this post, I need him to know a few things about me.

  1. Despite what I am about to write, I am not an ass-hat.
  2. I thought the LOST finale was the perfect way to end the show. Unlike others, I got it.
  3. There is no No. 3, but I wanted to just emphasize that I’m not an ass-hat.

People in Hollywood involved with major blockbusters are quick to make everyone working on the project sign non-disclosure agreements, commonly referred to as an NDA. The idea is that if everyone keeps their mouths shut, more people will go see the film to discover whatever the big secret is.

In the case of the next Star Trek sequel, which is set for release in May 2013, everyone working on the film had to sign an NDA. I know this for two reasons. First, the cast and crew is very open about the fact that they signed the NDAs. Second, I’ve independently verified this with a friend who I know is working on the set.

Star Trek - Leaked PhotoSo, about a week ago, this photo is leaked on the Internet. According to MTV.com, the photo shows Zachary Quinto battling Benedict Cumberbatch on the Trek sequel’s set.

Benign enough, right? It’s clearly Quinto as Spock, and barring any real confirmation from anyone, it’s safe to assume that any other big name star is either the villain or a sidekick that moves the narrative along. Let’s guess villain based on this photo of Cumberbatch.

In this case, Cumberbatch has been rumored to play any number of characters from the Trek universe – all of them bad.

Armed with the release of this leaked set photo, producer and writer Lindelof took to Twitter.

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Why Oasis Went Up in a “Champagne Supernova”

February 28, 2012 Leave a comment
Oasis Performs in 2005

Oasis performs at San Diego's Coors Amphitheatre in 2005. Photo by FreschWill/Flickr

In late January 1998, one of my friends sent an email inviting me to an Oasis show at the Verizon Theatre in Houston. Nowadays, it’s called the “Verizon Wireless Theatre” so as to keep up with advances in technology.

January 27, 1998 3:08:15 PM CST*

Hey Buddy ol’ pal

I have a couple of tickets to see Oasis in concert this coming Sunday, and I might not have anyone to go with. [My girlfriend] might not be able to make it into town this weekend, so I thought I would run it by you.  I won’t find out until Thurs. if she can go or not.

I was rocking the pager back then, so he paged me to confirm that his girlfriend – now wife – was definitely not going to be using her ticket, and I was golden for the Feb. 1 show.

If you remember Oasis, they were the “it” group of the late ’90s. They were routinely called the “modern day Beatles,” and their sound and popularity seemed to support that.

Now, I haven’t been to the Verizon Theatre since 1998, but back then it was a fairly small venue. It was general admission for this show, and most folks preferred to rub up against one another on the floor. I, on the other hand, found some decent seats on the second level. These seats appealed to my sense of not wanting to get fondled by a bunch of random people while getting beer spilled on me. After all, I was unaware that I should have a change of clothes available when drunk people get more of their beer on others than in their mouths. Despite all of these obstacles to enjoyment, the show was terrific.

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Categories: About Me, Celebrities, Music Tags: ,

I’d Like to Buy a Vowel

February 3, 2012 4 comments

Wheel of FortuneOn Feb. 7, 1996, I caught this ad in the events section of The Daily Cougar, the school newspaper at the University of Houston.

Wheel — KHOU-TV (Channel 11) is looking for 120 college students to try out for a chance to be a contestant on Wheel of Fortune. Students must be between 18 and 24 years old and able to test in Houston Saturday at 11 a.m. or 3 p.m.

At this point in my life, things were starting to turn around from the academic implosion I was going through at the time. I had met a girl, and I had finally gotten around to asking her out on a first date. That date? Yep, the same Saturday as the “Wheel of Fortune” audition. That’s more of an aside, though.

I called the number, and before the end of the day, I got a call back from KHOU. She said I had been one of the 120 students selected to audition for the show, and I needed to show up to a local hotel Saturday morning for the 11 a.m. audition.

I remember being super nervous about the audition. I had watched a couple episodes of the show between getting the call and heading to the audition, and thankfully, the rules had not changed much in the two decades the show had been on the air. I familiarized myself with some of the new puzzle types such as “Fill in the Blank,” and felt pretty confident. Still nervous, yet confident.

When I got to the hotel, I checked in at a table and was led to a room where the audition would take place. I’m not lying to you when I say I nearly passed out. There were about 200 people in the room. I was part of a cattle call. Moooo.

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Categories: About Me, Television Tags:

Young Love and “Alien 3″

January 18, 2012 Leave a comment

Alien 3When I was in high school, I got a job at the local movie theater during my junior year. It was a pretty sweet deal. They would pay me $4.25 an hour, and I would come home smelling like popcorn… ALL THE TIME!

It was a Cinemark theater, and I had to wear green fluorescent suspenders over a white dress shirt, matching green bow tie (a fake, of course), and black pants. When I worked concession, which everybody does at first, I had to wear a heavy plastic apron that felt like linoleum. Covering the apron was a bunch of Cinemark artwork featuring Front Row Joe. Follow the link… you’ll be sad you did.

I had my first girlfriend in my junior year. Our first date was to go see “Wayne’s World” (Excellent). That petered out somewhere around “the day after prom.” I was pretty down about it, but at least I was making massive bank at the Cinemark. You know, $4.25 in 1992 is about $35 in 2012 currency.

Summer is the busy season at the movies, and 1992 was no different. College folks were coming back home, and some of them would come to work at the theater. That’s when I met Julie Byars. We both worked in the concession, and, like me, she was lured to the Cinemark with the prospect of $4.25 an hour and free movie passes.

There was something about this college girl, who had just finished her first year, that struck me as awesome. To this day, I can’t tell you what it was, but I was clearly smitten. I had never blown off curfew for any reason whatsoever. That’s mostly due to how hum-drum things were back then for me. For her, though, I willingly blew off curfew three times. Sorry, mom. Read more…

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