Friday, October 16, 2015

Lamar Odom Conscious and Beginning Recovery

Lamar Odom has awoken from his coma, even muttering words and responding to questions, according to multiple reports today.

This comes days after Odom was found unresponsive from an apparent overdose at a Nevada brothel.

Addiction is a serious issue. It is easy for us to joke about drugs and users. We do it all the time. It is glamorized comedy on television and in movies. The sad reality is, thousands of people overdose and do not get the coverage Odom got. Many celebrities overdose and do not survive. We feared this for Odom, who has gone through a very public spiral in the last few years.

While I want to talk about the beginning of his recovery, I first want to start by addressing a few topics.

I saw the below video from Scott Van Pelt yesterday, and it hit home for me:

I too, saw the Bun B Tweet. I heard the remarks from Nancy Grace well before I saw the Van Pelt video. I had the same reaction as both. Lamar Odom is not "a Kardashian reality star." Lamar Odom was famous before he was involved with Khloe Kardashian. He is a 2x-NBA champion, a sixth man of the year, and a human being. Above all else, Lamar Odom is a father.

There was not a single media outlet that is not known first and foremost as a sports-media outlet, that called Lamar Odom an NBA player first. All of those outlets (E!, NBC, ABC, FOX, CBS, MSNBC, etc.) all called Lamar Odom "Khloe Kardashian's estranged husband" or "reality television star" or "former basketball player". There were sidebars or glossed over facts stating he was a "Los Angeles Laker" in the stories that were updated after Kobe Bryant showed up at Lamar's bedside.

I understand Lamar Odom has/had a relationship with Khloe Kardashian. I understand he was on their reality television show, and had one of his own with Khloe. But Lamar Odom is a man known for so much more. His greatest achievements weren't appearances on reality television. In fact, many of his appearances were of a shadow of his former self, cracking and becoming the man who was found unconscious earlier this week. Lamar Odom's accomplishments were being a better basketball player than most believed he could become, winning two championships with the Los Angeles Lakers. Being a father to his children (one of which passed away in the midst of his worsening addictions).

Khloe and reality television should be the sidebars in this story. That is not to say they are not important, but you are telling the world they should know him because of those things, and not because of the things he is truly known for. For the rest, he is now known as a junkie with a sex addiction, hiding in a brothel mixing a lethal cocktail of multiple drugs. Educate people on who this man was, and the high caliber of athlete and man he could strive to become once again if he is, with all hope in the world, able to overcome this horrible period of his life.

Addiction is a terrible thing, and while Odom is awake from a coma, that does not mean his demons have left his life. This is not guaranteed to get him right. Rehabilitation resorts are not proven, especially for a person who is not ready to give up their vices. We all know someone who struggles with addiction. It is a serious illness. We like to call addicts selfish, and in some ways, they very well may be.

Regardless of what he has gone through, what kind of human he is, we should all want a redemption story. This is a man who has battled adversity in so many chapters of his life, hopefully he can champion his way out of addiction and be an attentive, proud father to his children.

Monday, October 5, 2015

How common is common sense?

Every day I find myself asking this question because every day I find only a handful of people with common sense, if I’m lucky. 

Today I was sitting in a meeting with professionals, academics, well-educated people and yet they kept making simple things more complicated than they had to be. Mountains out of molehills, if you will. 

I classify myself as a well-educated person. I have a bachelor’s degree in science and I’m half way through my second degree. I’m always reading and learning to expand my knowledge and horizons. I have an ability to find simple solutions to other people’s mind-boggling problems, using common sense alone. I can never quite understand why it is that others cannot find these solutions for themselves. To me they seem obvious, glaring in fact. In my mind, the more knowledge you have and the greater your intelligence the more common sense you should have, but it seems the world doesn’t really work like that. When I’m dealing with people who have been working in a field for 10+ years and I’m coming up with solutions having dabbled in that field for a mere 10 minutes, I start to worry. I question my faith in humanity and education. Are they too specialised? Have they been doing this too long? Would they have been able so solve this for themselves 10 years ago? Is my opinion the "fresh-eyes" opinion? So many questions and expectations. Maybe that’s the problem, maybe I’m expecting too much from people? 

If I look closer to home, I don’t come from a well-educated family. No one in my family went to university until my generation. My parents wanted us to improve upon their progress and make the most out of the opportunities they never had. I look at my parents and although they have no formal higher education they have common sense in buckets. Sometimes I feel like I was spoilt by having such logical parents and although I’m grateful to them for passing on their savviness, I also feel like they’ve set me up for disappointment. I constantly am the one coming up with the logical explanations in my everyday life and it can get tiresome being the one with the answers. 

So really, is common sense all that common? 

It seems nothing much has changed since Sean posted these posts 5 years ago which relate to mine: 

Uncommon Sense Pt. I
Uncommon Sense Pt. II

Monday, September 14, 2015

Thoughts on Washington Redskins vs. Miami Dolphins

I had no intentions of doing this, but I suppose I'm a fool.

The Washington Redskins lost to the Miami Dolphins. Color me surprised... not. 17-10 flashed on the scoreboard as the final moments of the game came to a close, and all of the horrible decisions throughout the game flooded minds.

But we will get to the game in a minute.

I have been a Washington Redskins fan for as long as I can remember. Some of my earliest memories in my life have to do with the Redskins. I have defended this organization and its fans through the worst times. But I am fed up of all of the idiots claiming to be fans who can not take a criticism of this team from other fans. It is something I have not seen among fanbases of other teams. When they point out a flaw or struggle in their team's games, their fans all discuss it. Here, we challenge the integrity of our own fans for such things.

Today, I pointed out that Joe Barry's defense did not excite me. I was not impressed. I was skeptical and worried. The Redskins held Miami's offense to 10 points (the other 7 came on a punt return), but I said that did not tell the whole story. Time and time again today (like the play that saw Miami TE Sims knocked unconscious, or a crucial 2nd and 10 drop by one of Miami's receivers, among many others), Miami shot themselves in the foot, stalling their own drives. It was not always Washington making a huge stop by doing something amazing on their own. In fact, several of the Redskins opportunities to do something amazing on their own ended with dropped INT's that could have changed the outcome of the game.

When I pointed this out (something I have seen many others respected among our fanbase and media say), I was told I am a horrible fan, and I'm known as the consensus douche of our fans.

The only thing this assclown did not do is call me a Cowboys fan... it has happened before... but now I'm just the consensus douche.

I am confident that very few offenses the Redskins face this season (teams like New England, Philadelphia, and now Buffalo looks terrifying) will not make the same mistakes Miami made today. The Redskins are not playing a defensive scheme to strike fear in the hearts of others. They are in a scheme which is relying on the opponents to make mistakes they should not make. This is the same approach Barry's defense had in Detroit when the Lions went 0-16. The same defense they tell us to ignore because that whole team was just tremendously bad.

Well, the Redskins have no secondary, generate very little pressure out of the front 7, and on top of that, have one of the worst, most neutered offenses I have seen in a long time. Yes, it's week 1 and things can change... but this is Jay Gruden and the Redskins we're talking about. I will always support this team, but I'll be damned if I don't tell the truth about our team.

Now to the offense... boy oh boy I wish I had not decided to write this. I could press close on the tab right now and just leave it be. Last chance, Sean. Nope, I'm a fool, remember?

The offense was horrendous. The team started out... fair. Kirk Cousins threw a horrible interception (a play design that never should have occurred, but a play Kirk has to know he needs to launch it downfield for). If Kirk throws that INT into the deep secondary 40 yards away, it's just a punt on third down. But he gave Miami what should have been favorable field position. Instead, Tannehill threw the aforementioned sailing ball to Sims out of bounds, resulting in a diving Sims knocking himself R-G-3 shades of stupid. The Dolphins tried to make the most of the situation, got to 4th and 1, and Ryan Kerrigan made a heroic play.

Cousins responded with a helluva drive and marched down the field nearly flawless for a score.

Then the wheels came off.

There were penalties galore by the Redskins on one drive. At one point it was three plays in a row. And then the next drive the Redskins had the ball, the penalties continued on nearly every play. Not once in either of these situations, where penalties were killing drives while the game was still very much manageable, did Jay Gruden call a timeout to talk to his team and settle his players down. There was no leadership on the field. There was no leadership on the sideline. Kirk Cousins was becoming erratic because the team was digging him deeper into a hole.

I will admit, I was fairly impressed with first half Kirk Cousins. I thought for most of the game, Jay Gruden did everything he could to put Kirk in a shitty position while still doing whatever he could to give Kirk an opportunity to look like he had a decent game in completion percentage. The only problem is, we all watched the game, Jay. We know there were multiple checkdowns. We know there were few shots taken deep. Something Kirk impressed me on that I have never seen him do well is throw the slant accurately. He managed to fit some tight windows and also lead his receivers on these routes today. But then Kirk did things I didn't like, such as force some passes out earlier than he needed when his line held up strong for him. While it's good to have a quick release, sometimes (as evidenced tonight in the Cowboys hosting the Giants) it's okay to hold the ball, let a play develop and make an off-schedule throw for a bigger gain. Jay clearly was not taking shots for Kirk, so Kirk should have taken a few opportunities to do so himself. It's not a major problem, or concerning, but it is something I would like to see from the QB who is "furthest along" in our system.

The run game did well. The young linemen blocked efficiently. And I can't go on any further in this post.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Roger Goodell Has Lost Control

When Paul Tagliabu's career as commissioner of the National Football League came to an end, a young, sharp-dressed future of hope was selected to take over the NFL. That hope-inspiring young man was Roger Goodell. Very few questioned the charismatic figure. It was a welcomed change.

Goodell's tenure has been mired by controversial player decisions -- both on and off of the football field. From concussions to drugs to domestic disputes. In the agreement outlined in the Collective Bargaining Agreement in 2010, Goodell was awarded full power as judge, jury, and executioner of any of these situations he wanted to handle. It was this one crucial clause that held up the agreement during the locket, and it has proven to be his unraveling.

Last season, former Baltimore Ravens RB Ray Rice became the center of attention for a domestic violence case. Rice knocked his then-fiance unconscious during an argument. Goodell originally levied a two-game suspension on Rice, and then admitted the situation was handled poorly by all. A new domestic abuse policy was installed in response. After footage from inside of the elevator became available, Goodell decided to suspend Ray Rice indefinitely. An appeal showed that Rice never lied about that night to Goodell before the 2-game suspension, prompting a reinstatement for Rice.

As Goodell fumbled this 0-tolerance policy, he also fumbled his credibility. On-field penalties turned into stricter suspensions than domestic abuse. Tom Brady's alleged involvement in deflated footballs cost him 4 games. Greg Hardy's suspension for a domestic abuse case was decreased from 10 games to 4.

The NFL is not likely to take a hit for any of this, but there is a shadow cast on Goodell's name, and word. Players are more terrified of incidental contact to the helmet of an opponent than they are of beating up women. While teams can choose to not play a player for violating team conduct (domestic abuse falls under this category), the Judge, Jury, and Executioner Goodell can not suspend a player for domestic abuse for any period of time over 4 weeks and get away with it. Hardy's appeal made sure of this, and Hardy's downgrade was made possible by Goodell's poor handling of the Rice case.

The only chance of the NFL getting these problems corrected, is for Goodell to have no authority in them. A new commissioner could adjust this. A new addendum in the CBA could easily be made, agreeable by all parties, if a new authority figure is in charge.


Wednesday, July 1, 2015

WWE Payback Will Make or Break The Summer

No, not Summer Rae. I'm actually losing interest in the Rusev/Dolph Ziggler feud now that Summer Rae is involved. When it was all about Lana, it made sense. It had a driving factor. It put Lana in a light where she could shine. Now, that light is dimmed. A shadow cast over the feud by creative's fat sack of horrible booking decisions. But Rusev v Ziggler is not the only story in trouble.

Seth Rollins and Brock Lesnar are being properly booked, but once again, Rollins is hiding behind The Authority. The same Authority that just two weeks ago was getting the crowd behind them. Kane once again teasing becoming a monster, instead only becomes "same old shit." J&J are more entertaining than ever, and yet here we are again with them thrown right under Rollins' gear in the sweat bag.

Sure, it makes sense. Lesnar is the most dominant superstar we may have ever seen. Rollins didn't pin Lesnar. But Rollins had attacked Lesnar in 1v1v1 situations before. Sure, one of those 1's was John Cena, who far eclipses the combined credibility of Kane + J&J. But Rollins was still able to snake his way into attacking Lesnar and Cena. I felt like WWE was onto something incredible with Rollins' win over Ambrose at Money in the Bank with no help at all. And Triple H's hype-speech to Rollins about being both smart and scared seemed to hint at Rollins being able to out-think his fear and go toe-to-toe with The Beast Incarnate. Does it make sense for Rollins to dispatch of Lesnar cleanly all on his own? No. But did Rollins need The Authority? To quote Seth himself, "No!" Perhaps it would have been wise to just have The Authority return to Seth's side when he had emptied the tank at Payback and was still unable to defeat Lesnar. Or perhaps WWE should have just flat-out gone with the rumored angle of Corporate Sheamus (with Kane + J&J) cashing in on Lesnar moments after Seth had been beat. I just do not believe Rollins benefits from suddenly needing help again. It also does no benefit to Ambrose to be beat clean only to have to watch Seth need the world at his side vs. Lesnar.

Ryback won the forfeited Intercontinental Championship and was sent to a returning Big Show who many felt should have just retired after Reigns demolished him. *Way to make good on your promise, Roman. Are you going to keep disappointing us in your future as face of the company?* Then add in The Miz who has done nothing substantial of late, and you're left with three guys who can't work a good match out of each other if their lives depended on it.

Meanwhile King Barrett is feuding with Imaginary King R-Truth over who is the actual king of the ring......... way to undermine Barrett's opportunity at redemption. Why the Hell did they ever take the mic out of this guy's hand and force him to stop delivering bad news!?

Unless this Bella/Paige/Divas feud ends with the 4 Horsewomen (keyword WOMEN, not Divas) coming up and destroying the entire WWE Divas roster, I don't give a damn about a single second of it. I don't care what happens. You could have Nikki come up one day short of AJ's reign and lose to a returning AJ with Punk in her corner as her manager and I still would not give a damn. If this is what #GiveDivasAChance is all about, then damnit #GiveWOMENaRealChance.

Cena and Owens is not a major concern of mine. I'm almost certain Owens drops the NXT title to Balor in Tokyo on July 4th, and moves on to become the United States Champion. Cena could win. I think Owens looks strong regardless, but it does far more for all involved if Owens walks out with a clean victory over Cena to win the feud and become the new United States Champion.

What I'm most concerned with is Bray Wyatt vs. Roman Reigns. We all know Reigns is being set up as the New Face of WWE. But the New Face of Fear is being set up to be a major disappointment. Bray Wyatt revitalized his career when he dropped the Husky Harris gimmick and flat-out denied being called a Rotunda. The Wyatt Family entered as a major success. They broke off and Bray started on a solo path that seemed to be dominant from the start as Ambrose was his target and he decimated him. Now we're at a crossroads. Bray called out Taker at Mania, got his wish, and lost. But Bray declared himself the new face of fear and started creepier and creepier promos. He got the upper hand on Ryback but the feud ended abruptly as Ryback became the new choice for the IC title. Now Bray is just a man on a screen talking a lot. Sure, the few run-ins and attacks are cool. The crowd still lights up with fireflies. His promos are still among the best. But if he loses all his in-ring feuds with formidable opponents, what good is it all? We know for certain that Reigns is destined for great things and has the support of everyone in the WWE. But he does not need this win. It does not hurt or help Roman to win or lose this feud. He is in great standing either way. Bray, however, could catapult and eclipse expectations were he to defeat Reigns at Payback and end this feud victorious. It may even do more for Reigns who has to reach deeper in the future to defeat foes. And in doing so, sets us up for years of possible Reigns/Bray feuds to play out this Batman/Joker story they have going on.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Leaked Sony Emails About Spider-Man Misinterpreted

In an endless cycle, Sony has once again fallen victim to 'leaked' emails. This time to Marvel in regards to the handling of 'their' property, Spider-Man. Aside from learning that the deal was struck as far back as 2011--why the long silence, Marvel?--there were a lot of clauses as to how Marvel could portray a live-action Spider-Man in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Listed in article a.:

a. Mandatory Spider-Man Character Traits. Spider-Man (whether Peter Parker or an alternative Spider-Man character) must always strictly conform to the following "Mandatory Character Traits":

  • Male
  • Does not torture*
  • Does not kill unless in defense of self or others*
  • Does not use foul language beyond PG-13
  • Does not smoke tobacco*
  • Does not sell/distribute illegal drugs*
  • Does not abuse alcohol
  • Does not have sex before the age of 16, does not have sex with anyone below the age of 16
  • Not a homosexual (unless Marvel has portrayed that alter ego as a homosexual)

In article b.:

b. Peter Parker Character Traits. Depiction of Peter Parker or his Spider-Man alter ego must conform to the following character traits:

  • His full name is Peter Benjamin Parker.
  • He is Caucasian and heterosexual.
  • His parents become absent from his life during his childhood.
  • From the time his parents become absent he is raised by Aunt May and Uncle Ben in New York City
  • He gains his powers while attending either middle school or college.
  • He gains his powers from being bitten by a spider
  • He designs his first red and blue costume.
  • The black costume is a symbiote and is not designed by him
  • He is raised in a middle class household in Queens, New York
  • He attends or attended high school in Queens, New York, and he attends or attended college in New York City, New York.
The entire world seems utterly focused on two key details - that neither is permitted to be homosexual--aside from the addendum to article a. that Marvel portrays the alter-ego as a homosexual--or that Peter Parker is not allowed to be any other race than Caucasian. In fact, many people are ignoring that Spider-Man IS allowed to be another race, and can even be homosexual.

Peter Parker is Spider-Man. But so is Miles Morales. Any search on Google of "Spiderman" "Spider-Man" "Spider Man" will bring up results of Miles Morales on the first page hits. In fact, among the very first hits is news via The Guardian of Marvel moving forward with Miles Morales as Spiderman in comics and cartoons. Although there is a level of certainty that the Cinematic Universe will stick with the original web-slinger Peter Parker, Marvel Studios has not denied the possibility of using Morales in the Cinematic Universe in the near future.

The key to what I am saying is that people are freaking out for no reason. Among the complaints is that Peter Parker and Spider-Man are too clean-cut. I mean, how dare Marvel use a straight-edge, poster-boy role model to be an icon on the silver screen for children to look up to!? But the complaints edge towards the race/sexuality points. If Marvel wants to use another alter-ego for Spider-Man than Peter Parker, he can be Japanese and Gay. He can be Miles Morales.

Was it necessary to bullet-point that Peter Parker/Spider-Man can not be homosexual? No. It was not. I do not agree with Sony/Marvel needing to hash that point out. It goes without saying based on his love interests, who should be represented within the MCU as women based on the current storm of fans disappointed in the handling of women, that Parker/Spider-Man are not gay. Having said that, I do not find anything negative about not wanting a homosexual Peter Parker/Spider-Man. Just because the discussion in popular culture recently is about giving gay fair representation does not mean the world needs to strongly consider or actually make the push to represent gay people in every possible medium.

The bullet that Peter Parker be Caucasian does upset me a little bit. We have seen Marvel recently go the direction of a black Captain America. Nick Fury was made black. In Thor comics and Norse mythology, Heimdall[r] is portrayed with white skin, but the MCU Thor movies granted the role to Idris Elba. We got Miles Morales. Even in a piece of crap film a few years back with Fox's end of Marvel - Daredevil featured a black Kingpin (R.I.P. Michael Clarke Duncan). The problem is that we can count these examples on our fingers. While Marvel has certainly been open to the idea of making historically white characters black, they could always do more.

While I understand being outraged at either of the conditions for the character(s), please keep in mind that comprehension is key. Nowhere does it say that Spider-Man 100% has to be heterosexual, or that Spider-Man HAS to be Peter Parker. And considering that Marvel Studios struck the deal with Sony in 2011 right around when Miles Morales was launched/created, it's safe to assume Marvel was creating an alter ego for Spider-Man that they could use and not breach the bullet points with Sony.

Either way, the deal was struck and we should be thankful.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Don't Laugh, God Complex

I started Don't Laugh, People years ago, before I ever moved to a blogging platform. It was on forums, but I did not call it "Don't Laugh, People" at the time; it was know simply as "Why You're Bitches." The idea then was to chastise the way of thinking that was crippling society and humanity, sports and news, schools and careers. The themes have followed. In a sense, looking at my blog posts... it's just me bitching about why others are bitches.

I thought upon a time that was a fair way to grab attention. Do unto others so they can see how cheap and petty their way of life/everything really is. I suppose it works in many circumstances, but much the same as a great hero has to learn not to kill to avoid becoming the villain, I too have realized I need a different approach. I could not figure out how, nor could I devote the time and capacity to research it.

I used to think "the truth" was enough. But "being neutral" is difficult when you're "spewing truth." One man's "truth" is another man's "bullshit" and that will always be *fact (*not truth). "Being neutral" has become "being subjective" in the minds of today's world--the ones who care. The apathetic just brush it all off. But I can not become apathetic. Not when there are viewpoints like the ones expressed on Don't Laugh, People by Allan Graye. Not when there are social injustices against all peoples every single moment of our existence. Even the privileged are treated like pariah by those who are *fortunate (*apathetic) enough to live life without concern.

I have not truly written for Don't Laugh, People for a while. I have drafts I start both on the platform and in Word documents. I save and close them, promising myself to finish them tomorrow. But tomorrow becomes 27 days ago in the blink of an eye. It is not an issue with will, desire, wanting, needing, or responsibility--I want to write. Even when I rant away on Twitter and get it all out of my system, I still want to bring it here for permanence. But I want Don't Laugh, People to transcend my shitty subjective neutrality of "the truth" and represent something more concrete, more fluid, more undeniable. It's my God Complex; grandiose delusions--I want Don't Laugh, People to be God. Not God the infinitely religious contemporary. Not God the warmonger. Just God, one-with-all *creation (*creativity).

I want to write. I want to entertain. I want to inspire. Educate. Motivate. Engage. Inform. Change. My writing is not unique. I am not the best writer on Don't Laugh, People, in my family, among my friends, on Blogger, on Tumblr, on Twitter, on WordPress. The only way I see myself being unique is that I have a direction I don't think others have. I do not have an endgame. I have a means to an end leading to a new beginning. I don't have an outline, I have a one-day-at-a-time (or 27 yesterdays) journey. My desire to change society is not to mold it into a vision of my own, but rather of our collective ideas.

I believe we can all coexist. Not the shitty religious symbolic bumper sticker type of coexist. The type of coexisting that only happens when humanity realizes our differences are our similarities. Our weaknesses are our strengths. As cliche as it all sounds, it's fact. Not truth. Truth is that a weakness can never be a strength. Fact is that a weakness can be manipulated into a strength.

So I ask that you forgive my inactivity. Forgive my upcoming inactivity. I will not promise activity again. But I will promise that there are goals here on Don't Laugh, People and those goals are to share more and more. More creativity. More *God (*no religion).

Monday, March 30, 2015

Wrestlemania 31 Review

Photo Courtesy of
Last night, WWE put on their annual show-of-shows, Wrestlemania 31, live from Levi’s® Stadium in California. A show of this magnitude, I did not believe prior that WWE's creative team had the proper build for the entire card. Turns out, most of the card absolutely did not need it.

In this review, I will recap the event's matches and face-offs, and provide a prediction for what I think is next for certain parties.

On the Wrestlemania pre-show, WWE kicked the event off with the 4-way tag team championship match, in which Tyson Kidd & Cesaro defended against The Usos, A New Day, and Los Matadores. I was a bit surprised to see the match moved to the pre-show, and the superstars in the ring must have felt disrespected, because they put on a helluva match, with Kidd & Cesaro ultimately retaining their titles. In the coming months, I'd be interested in seeing a new tag team in the title picture. Perhaps The Ascension?

Then there was the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal, which was, well, what you expect. Once the fat was trimmed and NXT-representative Hideo Itami was eliminated, we were left with The Miz, Mizdow, and Big Show. Mizdow turned on The Miz and eliminated him, and then had an awesome 1-on-1 with The Big Show for about 5 minutes. The crowd was even more alive for MizSandow than they were the tag match and the battle royal prior. In the end, Sandow was eliminated by Big Show, much to the crowd's dismay. But looking to the future, Sandow may have some serious momentum, and Big Show may end up going after one of the single's titles.

The Intercontinental Championship 7-way ladder match kicked off Wrestlemania 31's main card. With superstars like Daniel Bryan, Dolph Ziggler, CodStardust, and Dean Ambrose, you just knew it was going to be a major spot-fest. Throughout the match, there were 1-on-1 brawls that made you think "they really should have put these two in a singles match," but fans were still treated to a great battle. At the end of the match, Daniel Bryan had fought off all others and became the new Intercontinental Champion. Also, the crowd chanting YES! along with Daniel Bryan during his celebration ended up being the biggest chant of the night for what it's worth. Going forward, I would expect to see WWE finally give us the long-rumored feud between Daniel Bryan and a heel Sheamus.

Photo Courtesy of
Next up was Randy Orton vs. Seth Rollins, and this may have proven to be match of the night. J&J Security had a presence in the match early, but Orton took care of that. Orton and Rollins ended up having a solid back-and-forth with both men controlling for a fair part of the match before exchanging momentum and finishers. Orton was a step ahead, however, and after landing the most impressive RKO spot we have seen to-date, pinned Rollins in the middle of the ring. Moving forward, I fully expect to see Orton in the WWE World Heavyweight Championship picture. Especially if he is cutting promos like this:

Following Orton and Rollins was The Icon Sting and Triple H. Sting's entrance was not anything too fancy in-terms of props, but he had a group of percussionists wearing his face paint in a clear and cool homage to The Crow. Triple H however, spared no expense. The Game ascended from beneath the stage in an Exo Suit, surrounded by ascending Terminator droids. Then the T-800 Model 101 Terminator, Arnold himself, showed up on screen declaring it is time to play the game. Triple H's entrance was bad-ass if I must say so myself. The crowd was insanely into the theatrics and the moment, as a "This Is Awesome" chant filled the stadium. The match was not too fast-paced, but The Game and The Icon played psychologically perfect with the crowd. As things started to get chippy, Degeneration X made their way to the ring in order to help Triple H. Then came Hogan, Hall, and Nash as the nWo to even the odds. Shawn Michaels broke up the Scorpion Death Lock with a Sweet Chin Music, and then it was back to 1-on-1. In the end, The Game used the remnants of his sledgehammer to knock out Sting for the pin. After the match, the two were in opposite corners with their respective groups and Triple H offered his hand to Sting and the two shook and embraced. I do not have a prediction going forward, other than that I do not believe this was Sting's last match with the WWE, or his final Wrestlemania appearance.

Photo Courtesy of
To follow WCW vs. WWE, we had The Bellas vs. Paige & AJ Lee. I did not find much reason to care for this match going into Mania, but in the end, after some awesome spots, I'm glad they gave these ladies enough time to do a little. I'm still not a fan of the Bellas, but AJ and Paige did a great job carrying this match and making it watchable. Next up from these ladies? It's time for Nikki to drop the title, and I expect Charlotte to get the call-up after Vince McMahon witnessed first-hand on Friday Night 5,000 NXT fans chanting "THIS IS WRESTLING" to Charlotte and Sasha Banks' match.

Next was the United States Championship match, as Rusev defended against John Cena. After the theatrics from both for their entrance, they got into a physical contest and both men repeatedly locking in their submission holds. Lana, who made her return after a few weeks of absence, was on the apron and took a nasty bump from Rusev to the outside. Cena took advantage of the moment and beat Rusev to become the new United States Champion. There will be a rubber match at Extreme Rules, but I would not be surprised to see Big Show get a shot at the US Title vs. Cena at some point.

Stephanie McMahon and her husband Triple H hit the ring to tout the crowd turnout. Then Stephanie and Triple H ran down the crowd, saying they owned the people. All of a sudden, "If ya smelllllll" and out comes The Rock and the crowd at first erupts, then boos a bit, then goes apeshit. Rock makes his way to the ring and cracks a few jokes and insists he's ready to fight Triple H. Stephanie gets in the way, slaps him, then tells him to leave her ring, since he won't hit a woman. Rock exits the ring, then stops and starts walking around ringside, and invites the baddest woman on the planet--Ronda Rousey--over the barricade. The two enter the ring and Stephanie McMahon's tone changes a bit until she realizes her tactics are not working. Rock decides to attack Triple H, Rousey gets a shot in on The Game, then she manhandles Stephanie's arm. Rousey and Rock celebrate in the ring in front of the crowd. This would be a fun mixed tag match next year at Mania, but I think we're likely to just see Rock vs. Triple H. Regardless, WWE is making a lot of fun headlines at the expense of UFC and Dana White this past week.

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The scene was set for Undertaker and Bray Wyatt now. Bray made his way to the ring with a bunch of scarecrows lined up, coming to life after he touched their head and escorting him to the ring. The only thing that would have made this entrance any better is if it was dark in the outdoor stadium when it was happening. Then came The Undertaker, who at first look appeared to be in the best shape he has been in since his second match with Shawn Michaels 5 years ago. Undertaker controlled the match early, and hit Old School and landed firm with the rope flip to the outside. So much for all those rumors once again of Taker having no hips or knees left to stand or walk on. Deafening "You still got it!" chants ring out directed at Undertaker, who could be seen at one point smirking at the suggestion. After some exchanges and kickouts from each other's finishers, Taker nailed one final Tombstone and pinned Bray Wyatt in the middle of the ring and celebrated with the WWE Universe. It would not thrill me to see Taker leave for another 12 months right now, so I would expect to see him soon to at least do something to write him out of storylines. Maybe even let Bray finally get the upper hand and put him down for a while until Sting resurrects Taker himself for Wrestlemania 32.

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Finally we got to the main event. Roman Reigns' music hit and he came through the crowd, shoving some hostile fans. Reigns had more security for this entrance than any of his others. He hit the ring to boos. Brock's music hit and the place erupted. The two had a staredown, Heyman took the mic to introduce his client BROOOCK LESNARRR, and we got underway. Brock dominated Reigns for the first 5 minutes with suplexes and stiff punches. He even landed an F-5 thirty seconds into the match. Reigns started landing some stiff shots to Brock, but it just always seemed to make Brock more aggressive. Reigns, however, took each suplex and punch and smiled, begging for more. He kicked out of a second and third F-5. Reigns started getting the upper-hand after pushing Lesnar into the post on the outside. Lesnar bleeding the hard way. Reigns with a couple Superman punches, and a couple spears, but Brock still managed to kick out. Brock countered a third spear attempt with an F-5 but couldn't make the cover. Seth Rollins' music hits and he comes out to cash in his Money in the Bank briefcase. Brock tries to F-5 him, Reigns spears Brock, Rollins curbstomp to Reigns and pins him to become the new WWE World Heavyweight Champion. I'm interested to see if Brock cashes in his rematch on RAW or even at Extreme Rules. Reigns didn't lose his 1-on-1 so I expect him to be in the title picture. Orton beat Rollins earlier in the night, so no chance in Hell he does not try to insert himself into the title scene. Ultimately, we may see a Fatal 4-Way at Extreme Rules. Or we may not have Brock around until SummerSlam. No matter what, RAW tonight will be incredible.
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Sunday, March 29, 2015

We're In This Together.

"Who really cares?
Who's willing to try
to save a world
that is destined to die?

When I look at the world
it fills me with sorrow.
Little children today
really gonna suffer tomorrow.
Oh, what a shame.
Such a bad way to live.
Oh, who is to blame
when we can't stop living?

Live, live your life.
Live, live for life.
But let live everybody.
Live life for the children."

In a world that, on the surface, exalts and even overvalues childhood, there exists the dual reality of a world that denigrates the worth of a child's life. Time and time again, the lives of youths, the lives of human beings are snuffed out, and we who survive them argue over the corpse to no end.

Having just discussed it with a friend who held a different viewpoint, I turn to the Tamir Rice case. I don't know if Officer Loehmann was acting maliciously. I can't say one way or the other what provoked said officer to shoot that child, but Tamir Rice lost his life as a result of this man drawing a firearm and firing. There is no contextualization that can change this. Tamir Rice is a victim, his victimhood cannot be erased on any grounds. The only immutable fact in all this is that Officer Loehmann ended Tamir's life, anything else is speculative and unfounded. But still, there are those among us assigning blame to Tamir, there are some of us absolving Officer Loehmann of all blame and there are some of us laying all the blame at the feet of law enforcement officers in general.

I cannot assign blame to anyone, to any individual person, nor to even groups of individuals(e.g. "whites", "blacks", police officers, etc). I assign blame to the institutions that inform our perceptions, as these institutions, originally perceptions themselves, invite the occurrence of such situations. Institutions are perceptions and concepts that have been perpetuated by enough people through enough generations to be now be codified as social norms. The psychological and physical ramifications of being taught to perceive certain people a certain way based on subjective criteria, this is what is meant by institutionalized racism/sexism/etc. Institutionalized racism is not a mythic "White Man" out to destroy minorities. It is, instead, a set of attitudes ingrained in American minds that lead people to criminally, but generally unconsciously, undervalue the abilities and even the lives of people who register as unfamiliar. Institutionalized prejudices are a set of attitudes that lead people to act sans any critical assessment beforehand. Institutionalized prejudices are a set of attitudes that cause people to vastly underestimate the vitriolic messages even the simplest of actions can send(i.e. microaggression). Prejudice on its own(i.e. racism, prejudice against someone for their phenotype, or sexism, prejudice against someone for their genitalia/gender identity) is not what we struggle against. No, we struggle against prejudices that have been operationalized into agents of oppression through the process of institutionalization.

With respect to all that, it is clear that Tamir was the victim of an event that involves multiple things beyond just his skin color and a toy gun. It's deeper than race and even government regulations of toy gun manufacturers(not that those things aren't factors, but that they're secondary). There is a fundamental issue with how we as Americans understand violence. Violence is the oldest human institution, it stands above and supersedes all other modes of oppression and separation. As such, I believe that it is a social issue that can't be resolved by reducing the terms of engagement to race, ethnicity, orientation, gender identity, etc, or even to the individual actors who participated in the event. These things have been intertwined and made inexorable from each other. Though each -ism is indeed worthy of individuated study, to understand them as separate things does a disservice to the cause of resolving them, as they are each different aspects of the same thing.

But let me make it clear: It is of the utmost important to recognize that we ARE different, that there are "White" Americans, "Black" Americans, Hetero Americans, LBGQT Americans, etc etc. To say that you are color blind in regard to race(i.e. to reject skin color's very existence), is to say that you are both willfully ignorant(there are very obviously different skin colors) and uneducated("it is the mark of an educated mind to entertain an idea without accepting it" - a quote that I understand this way: an educated person can listen to, absorb and retain the points of a different/conflicting view without it destroying or immediately replacing their own worldview). So no, do not pretend to be color blind in an attempt to be inclusive. Instead, communicate with the people who are different from you, learn from them and broaden your worldview(more than even that, simpler than even that - make some friends, man!). And to truly and properly communicate means that we have to recognize that when people who identify as Black find the courage to admit that they are suffering, we have to give them the space to express their suffering and not derail their expressions with "NO YOU'RE WRONG, ALL LIVES MATTER NOT JUST YOURS!"-esque comments. That means that we have to step back and allow transgender persons to express themselves and their struggles, we cannot tell them "WHY CAN'T YOU JUST BE A BOY/GIRL, WHY DO YOU HATE YOURSELF." Said simply: shut the hell up and listen.

Regardless of how well-intentioned we may be in offering our opinions, the reality is that our opinions are not as valuable as our time, our ear, our patience, our attention and our love. In offering our opinions without prompt, all we are doing is imposing ourselves on their already frayed consciousness, obstructing our own cause of developing a genuine sense of community and togetherness. As people working toward resolving human strife, we must quiet our uniformed opinions and allow those who suffer as we all do to inform us of the nature of their suffering. And even where our experiences may be similar enough to encourage bonding, it must be kept in mind that we can never, ever completely and absolutely translate our experiences to the experiences of another. We each experience ourselves and our lives in a way that is too intensely personal for anyone outside of our minds to know the absolute truth of our experience. But in spite of that, all is not lost. Though we may never know with absolute certainty, we as human beings are gifted with one true power: the capacity to understand. The potential for understanding each other is why it is imperative that people are not only given the time and space to express themselves, but also having a loving and inclusive audience to receive them.

I may never know all there is to know about you, it is probable that I never will.

But if I quiet myself and genuinely listen to you, I can understand you. As a human being, it is within me to understand all things. Therefore, to "tolerate" you as though you were a burden to be endured, this is insufficient and unacceptable.

Our work is not done until we can all turn to each other and say: My friend, I am come to be with you, to share this harrowing experience of life with you. Though we experience life alone, I am come to see that you will never again know loneliness. Where you have been broken, I am come to restore. Where you have felt forgotten, I am come to recollect you. I am come not to tolerate you. I am come to understand you. No, I am come for more than even that.

I am come to love you.

"Father, father...
we don't need to escalate.
War is not the answer...
for only love can conquer hate.

You know we've got to find a way
to bring some lovin' here today..."

(forgive the continued allusion if it offends, but to know me is to know music.. anyone who has seen me has seen music. lol)

From a perspective of love, another distinction must be made: inclusive =/= politically correct. To be inclusive is to communicate more effectively, to be politically correct is to attempt to avoid conflict. The sturdiest and truest friendships are forged in the context of openness, there can be no avoidance of conflict. It must be faced head on, together(and doing so comes with the added benefit of deepening the relationship after the conflict has been faced together). Therefore, the point of inclusivity isn't to say we should, for example, take someone who murders children and ask them why in an attempt to relate to them emotionally. Instead, the idea here is that we can't reduce enormous social issues to our differences. We will never be able to absolutely know one another, this is currently impossible given the nature of human perception. But we can work toward being more than tolerant. The way inclusive parents love their transgender children because said youths are their children, this is the way we must love one another because we all are human. Love does not require accepting another's choices as ones we might have made ourselves given their circumstances. Rather, it requires understanding ourselves as separate from one another regardless of circumstance, it requires that we afford every human being we meet the same respect we desire ourselves(in respect to a child murderer, I believe that a trial, in theory, is as much love and respect as can be shown such a person, making the effort to hear their side speaks to a very nearly inhuman level of patience and respect, given the common inclination toward vigilantism or vitriol against such persons).

More to the point - focusing on our differences would not resolve our issues because our differences are not why our issues exist. Were we all one race, one faith, one sex, one gender and of one language, there would STILL be violence, still oppression. That we are different is only an excuse for aggression and violence. The essence of all human strife is, to me, rooted in need and the fear of not having. Violence itself, this is a thing fundamental to American culture, it is the foundation upon which this nation was built(to suggest anything else is ahistorical). So "but what about black on black crime!" is a ridiculous stance to take if you're honestly trying to solve this thing, as every American race perpetrates violent against itself - you're going to find that people tend to act criminally toward the people closest to them(and it just so happens that many Americans segregate themselves according to creed and color) . That isn't to say we should overlook topics such as "black on black crime" but rather that we should understand it as a subset of a much larger thing and not use them as ammunition to derail conversations about understanding the humanity inherent in the persons we, historically and currently, tend to marginalize.

The American institution of violence transcends faith, ethnicity, race, nationality and anything else we identify ourselves by. It affects each and everyone of us, whether we are the one being harmed or not("An injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere."). It's not about demonizing police or exalting Black Americans, it's about recognizing that people everywhere are destroying one another, killing one another. And there is no solving this issue until we recognize that while we are all human, our experiences are separate, unique and different and have to be respected as such. More, there is and will be no resolving our issues until we recognize that while we are all unique and different, physical, emotional and mental need is universal.

How we understand violence must change.

And a paradigm shift of this magnitude, from a viewpoint grown through centuries of bloodshed to a viewpoint centered on inclusiveness will inevitably invite violence, it's the nature of many people to resist change, perhaps even violently so. But there will be no future for our children and their children if we don't at least try.

tl;dr - We all in this together, fam.

May love ever possess you, may peace come into your life.

p.s. - I'm willing, Marvin... I'm willing.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

WWE Fastlane, A Disappointment

Sidebar: This was supposed to go up Monday before RAW, so read it with that in mind and do not incorporate Monday's storyline advances

WWE entered last night's Fastlane special event (formerly PPV) in uncharted waters. The only thing we knew for sure going into Wrestlemania 31 this year was that Brock Lesnar would be defending his title in the main event. There was a leak two weeks ago saying that Vince decided to change the Mania main-event to a triple threat match and adding Daniel Bryan, but the company decided against that, it appears.

The show opened with Dolph, Ryback, and Rowan facing off against Big Show, Kane, and Seth Rollins. The end of the match was every bit as the Royal Rumble. Kane and Show teamed up to knock Ziggler stupid and pin him in the middle of the ring... not even letting Seth finish the job. The Authority trio began decimating their opponents after the match and apparently referees cannot reverse their decisions when The Authority decides to do this. But waiting in the wings was Randy Orton, making his long-awaited return as he sprinted out to take out the Authority. Orton was clearly aiming to take out Rollins, who ran through the crowd and all the way out of the building to escape.

While I was ecstatic to see Orton return, I was disappointed that once again the WWE does a one-man run-in to decimate multiple people while superstars in the ring got destroyed almost the entire match and the whole post-match segment. Dolph, Ryback, and Rowan could not look formidable in the match, but Orton--with ease--dismantled the entire Authority + J&J Security to try and get his hands on the coward Rollins. Not exactly the best nod at the legitimacy of the three opponents.

Next up was Goldust vs. Stardust, and the two had a decent-at-best match. However, the finish was a major botch as Goldust got a roll-up pin on Stardust and the referee's hand never hit the mat for a third time, yet he jumped up and called for the bell to declare Goldust the winner.

Then we had The Usos defending against Tyson Kidd and Cesaro. The match was high-paced, very fluid, not a lot of wasted movement. While many fans (including myself) have grown a little tired of The Usos outright dominating the tag division, we were treated with yet another great match by the two with a few new spots added in. One of those spots was a brutal Samoan Drop to Kidd into the barricade. In the end, despite the referee being out of place, slow, and late (without distractions), Kidd and Cesaro picked up the pinfall win after a roller coaster of momentum swings to become the new tag team champions.

Then came the Sting and Triple H face-off. Triple H started talking about himself, then called out Sting. The crowd went nuts, as they have every time he showed up, and the two stood face-to-face in the middle of the ring. Sting didn't say a word. He barely changed his expression. I've begged on Twitter for a month now to not have WWE make Sting talk too early (would prefer he never actually speaks at all, to be honest), and WWE delivered. Sting did not accept Triple H's offer to keep his legacy alive in turn for walking away. Triple H's claims that this is all about removing Trips and the McMahon's from WWE to end the business come off as genuine belief from Trips, but not at all valuable to fans. I'm almost certain that in kayfabe, this feud for Sting is strictly about Trips not giving the young guys a chance... and while that contradicts Sting in much of his should-be-forgotten TNA run... that's the angle I hope it is for Sting if he ever does talk. Triple H went for a cheap-shot, got the upper hand, then grabbed his sledgehammer from under the ring. When he went to strike Sting, there was a bat to his throat and he was shoved to the corner, surrendering the hammer. Tensions flared a few times as Trips got bold, but Sting nudged the bat into his throat more and pointed at the WrestleMania sign. As he turned to leave, Trips tried to strike but sting countered with the bat to the gut. A few minutes later, it was officially revealed the two would face off at Wrestlemania 31.

Nikki vs. Paige... well... it was exactly what the WWE DIVAS division has been for years... a rushed match with no real build or potential to grow. While McMahon believes that his company is more than wrestling, it says something that a feud that brews on a "reality tv" show does not garner any interest in comparison to the WOMEN'S feuds on NXT which develop strictly in, around, and about the ring. People care about the wrestling, Vince, and since you'll never realize that, you will never fully capitalize on the tremendous product and talent you possess. The match was rushed for time that could have been taken from others, and the result was a bunch of botches which further exposed Nikki Bella as a horrible in-ring performer and made yet another legitimate WRESTLING WOMAN look like a steaming pile of shit.

We also got Ambrose and Barrett in one of the worst-booked finishes I have ever seen. Before the show, there was an interview with Ambrose talking about the title and its relevance and people who fail to make the most of the title, the opportunity, or themselves. WWE is clearly who he was talking about as they booked Ambrose to get disqualified for not listening to the referee (yes, one of the same idiots that botched the entire show up to this point anyways, not giving any of the superstars a 5-count in the corner), and then Ambrose walked away with the title anyways. Even with the idea that you can set up a rematch at Wrestlemania... it was still a shitty idea. While I'd love to see something like Dean vs. Wade in an IC ladder match at WM31... it's still not a good set up. Disqualify the heel so he doesn't lose his title while losing the match and making the crowd invest a little more... don't DQ the face and have him steal the title.

Rusev vs. Cena followed, and the match was OUTSTANDING. Cena got some good momentum, Rusev dominated plenty of the match. It felt even for a majority. Rusev would not break to Cena's finishers. Cena fought as hard as he could through Rusev's onslaught. In the end, Rusev used some cheap heel tactics to get the upper hand, and I'm all for it as it further establishes him the heel, but he also got the in-ring victory. A rematch is clearly in order for Wrestlemania, and hopefully WWE are intelligent enough to know that Cena does not gain much to beat Rusev, it does not truly legitimize the US Title if Cena wins it, and Rusev stands to gain the world if he does defeat Cena clean to retain. Hell, if you REALLY want to make Rusev a bona fide badass, you might even want to make Cena TAP.

Then comes the main event. All of my emotions aside about wanting the match we truly deserve (and I did blog that I was a fan of Reigns vs. Brock 1-on-1), this match was as good a match as I've seen in a while. There was brutal violence, stiff punches, forearms, elbows, knees, and kicks. Both men played up their recent injuries and attacked the other. Reigns fought through the adversity, as did Bryan. The two literally put everything they had into every strike, and you could see it. Bryan worked as good a match as a quick, smaller, more-experienced wrestler could work, and Reigns used more than just his size, power, and toughness to make the most of his opportunity in this match. While part of me feels Bryan showed more that he COULD indeed hang in a legitimate-looking contest with Brock than Reigns showed he could persevere... we did see Reigns fight Bryan in the way you would expect Brock to fight... more of an MMA-style approach with ground-and-pound. The only thing I disliked about the match is that it ended when and how it did. Reigns became the first man to kick out of Bryan's Knee Plus... something even Super-Cena was not booked to do. My problem isn't with the fact that Reigns kicked out... it's with the fact that Bryan was not booked to kick out of the Spear. It almost felt like the booking was to veto Bryan's toughness as much as it was to enforce Reigns'. Still, Reigns walked out of a hard-fought match looking strong. And while I will forever parallel this match in my head to CM Punk vs. Cena on RAW for Cena's opportunity to go face Rock, I stand by that it was a tremendous match and Reigns does deserve this opportunity and looks more and more ready for it every week. I was never a Reigns hater... I just wanted to see more out of him. Have we seen enough yet? I don't know... but he is showing more with every match and he looked forreal against Bryan.

Overall, the show was a major disappointment that could have done so much more. Once again, WWE delivers a HORRIBLE event immediately following an NXT Takeover. By that trend, it's a damn-good thing that WWE moved Takeover to the month before Mania and not the week of...