Thursday, July 22, 2010

Hopefully, MIA Will Have No Problems Being A Career Upper-Mid-Carder.

The first sizeable chunk of this is reprinted from my own Sunday Morning Coming Down column from 411 (07.18.10). Beats the hell out of explaining this whole situation all over again...

  • And finally this week, we’ve got a treat for the rasslin’ fans in the house - a bonafide, old-school, elimination-style three-way-dance. Our main event is M.I.A. vs. the New York Times vs. Pitchfork.

    The match started with a New York Times piece on MIA that (deliberately, in all probability, since the Times had to print a retraction, but I’m getting ahead of myself) made her out to be a hypocrite. In particular, people latched on to this set of quotes:

    “I wasn’t trying to be like Bono,” Maya told me. “He’s not from Africa — I’m from there. I’m tired of pop stars who say, ‘Give peace a chance.’ I’d rather say, ‘Give war a chance.’ The whole point of going to the Grammys was to say, ‘Hey, 50,000 people are gonna die next month, and here’s your opportunity to help.’ And no one did.”

    For one, this is where the retraction came in. Appended to the end of the piece now is:

    The cover article in The Times Magazine on Sunday profiled the singer and political activist M.I.A. While discussing her efforts to draw attention to the civil war in her home country, Sri Lanka, she was quoted as saying: “I wasn’t trying to be like Bono. He’s not from Africa — I’m from there. I’m tired of pop stars who say, ‘Give peace a chance.’ I’d rather say, ‘Give war a chance.’ The whole point of going to the Grammys was to say, ‘Hey, 50,000 people are gonna die next month, and here’s your opportunity to help.’ And no one did.”

    While M.I.A. did make those remarks, she did not make the entire statement at the same point in the interview, or in the order in which it was presented.

    The part that begins, “The whole point of going to the Grammys,” up to the end of the quotation, actually came first. The part that begins, “I wasn’t trying to be like Bono,” and ends, “Give war a chance,” came later in the same interview. The article should have made clear that the two quotations came from different parts of the interview.

    A retraction is normally relegated to the back pages and therefore mostly overlooked nowadays. It gets too much in the way of a story the writer wants to tell instead of the actual truth and doesn’t sell as well as the rest of the sensationalism does. Nonetheless, a retraction - basically a journalistic admission of guilt - was not only printed but placed prominently at the end of the story online so it can be clearly seen. It’s fun watching a “reputable” (*cough*) source having to admit they fucked up.

    Secondly, a quote that tells a much clearer picture was virtually ignored:

    “We went to the Grammys, we had the baby and we bought the house,” Maya said as she studied the menu, deciding on a glass of wine and French fries. “A month later, all this stuff was happening in Sri Lanka” — the Tamil insurgency was being defeated amid reports of thousands of civilian casualties — “and I started speaking up against it. And then, within a month, I found out my house was being bugged, my phones were being tapped and my e-mails were being hacked into. I was getting death threats, like ‘hope your baby dies.’ The biggest Sinhalese community is in Santa Monica, people who are sworn enemies of the Tamils, which is me.” She paused. “I live around the corner from Beverly Hills, and I feel semiprotected by Ben and, if anything happens to me, then Ben’s family will not take it. Jimmy Iovine, who runs Interscope, my record company, said, ‘Pick your battles carefully — don’t put your life at risk,’ but at the end of the day, I don’t see how you can shut up and just enjoy success when other people who don’t have the fame or the luxury to rent security guards are suffering. What the hell do they do? They just die.

    This is much more important because, for those paying attention, this just torpedoed Lynn Hirschberg’s (or the Times’s as a whole) entire agenda. The point was to show MIA as portraying herself as a downtrodden speaker who’s life is so rough, yet she lives in a posh California home with her baby and the son of the CEO of her label. See? She’s living the high life! What right does she have to speak about stuff she known nothing about just to be controversial?

    Well, for one, she’s speaking about her background and trying to bring attention to those that are suffering where she comes from. Two, she admitted her lifestyle, but still uses her public platform to do some good. I wasn’t aware it was such a sin in this country to use your higher status and wealth to attempt to help others who are unable to help themselves but are still in dire need of it.

    MIA responds to this attack by posting Hirschberg’s phone number on Twitter (ha!) and imploring people to “call me [MIA] and let’s talk about the story ;)”. Hirschberg called the move “fairly unethical...infuriating...and not surprising.” And that seemed to be the end of it - until Pitchfork got involved.

    At first, Pitchfork took the side of the industry darling they feel they helped create (echoing some of what I thought upon reading the original piece)...

    ...a correction is a correction, and it does make you wonder if Hirschberg's desire for a strong angle got in the way of her piece's veracity.

    (Ulterior crackpot theory I just thought of: Perhaps New York Times columnist and notorious peacenik Bono is behind this entire charade!)

    Even more damning was Hirschberg's recent statement to
    The New York Observer about the part of the piece that depicted M.I.A. as a truffle-fry-eating hypocrite. The writer said, "I don't think the French fries illustrate that much about her character." But, as The Village Voice's Zach Baron tactfully points out, "This statement, of course, is entirely disingenuous-- details like the above are included in profiles precisely because they are assumed to be illuminating, character-wise."

    Pitchfork called out Hirschberg on attempting to ruin MIA (which, you notice, she never did answer for) and eliminated her from the match (to take the job of Editor In Chief at W magazine, natch). Once Hirschberg bailed out of the ring, Pitchfork made all niecey-nice with MIA - but the foreshadowing was there...

    Will she be able to break free of such online censorship or perish beneath the weight of a mass media conspiracy (supposedly) hell bent on taking her down?! Tune in next time!

    That sounded a little...snide. As for some “mass media conspiracy (supposedly) hell bent on taking her down,” maybe they can shed some light on that because they totally fed the idea with a sudden charishot right to MIA’s skull in the form of scathing review of ”Maya” (because I refuse to type all those symbols and stuff), which came out this past Tuesday.

    A 4.4. That was their score. Seemed kind of odd for someone whose last album they gave an 8.9.

    Okay, time out. Let’s look at these a second. From their review of Kala:

    If anything, Kala finds her puffing out her chest and asserting herself more strenuously than ever, half-baked agit-prop and all. When she boasts on the stomping, Bollywood-sampling opener "Bamboo Banga" that she's "coming back with power/ Power," you get the sense that by "power" she means "courage of conviction." Regardless of how you square with her politics, her willingness to continue the muckracking is admirable, if not dimension-adding. Don't forget, she's rubbing elbows with the likes of Interscope and Timbaland now; for all the choices she might have made and the audiences she might have aimed at, the fresh-sounding, adventurous, and not-exactly-accessible Kala is the kind of record that obviously demanded a defined personal vision.

    And now, from their review of ”Maya”:

    It's hard to tell whether /\/\/\Y/\ is half-assed or half-baked. There are certainly a number of good ideas in the mix here, but the execution is lacking. Tracks like "Story to Be Told", "Lovealot", and "Teqkilla" come across like mildly promising demos ready to be edited into sleeker, stronger compositions. Lead single "XXXO" sounds unfinished, as if everyone involved figured they may as well wait around for someone else to make a better remix. Most of the songs are built out of digital clangs and electronic noise

    A little later on, same review...

    It's not exactly a surprise that M.I.A. would opt to create such an off-putting and anti-pop album at this point in her career. She may be reaching for an interesting and provocative style, but her motives seem defensive in nature-- reasserting her artsy, agit-prop cred not long after breaking through to the mainstream and becoming engaged to the heir of the Bronfman liquor fortune. On a superficial level, /\/\/\Y/\ is a challenge, but it's really more of a retreat. She's shrinking from her chance to engage with a mainstream audience, and refusing to live up to her potential as a pop artist., what am I to take from this? That if they take the same sentiment they praised her for in one review and break it up in to two parts using slightly different language, then they’re suddenly saying the opposite? Like, she kinda sounds the same as her last album, but they loved her then, so it was okay? And alluva sudden they don’t, so now that exact same sound and approach is suddenly no longer cool and she should be raked over the coals for it?

    Something stinks, here. And I’m pretty sure I have an idea of what that smell is - Hirschberg and Pitc--excuse me, Bitchfork being full of their own shit.

    Hirschberg has a history of this sort of thing (see: Love, Courtney) already. Hell, both of them do, really - Bitchfork is well-known for (wanting to be) tastemakers. What they say goes, and you’re a Bolshevik weenie if you don’t agree with them.

    Their hatchet job even got a mention in Billboard. Good for them, but it’s Billboard who blows a pretty big hole in their idea of being the hipster place for music, as well as Heischberg’s ill-executed “takedown”.

    The problem with both of them looking to affect MIA’s career is that it would have to be assumed that, in order to accomplish that, sales of ”Maya” would have to drop like a brick. That’s what determines popularity - the more people buy, the bigger you are. That’s how the game works.

    While MIA’s last album, Kala has been certified Gold by the RIAA having sold over half a million units, it took three after its release for that to happen. (“Paper Planes” didn’t take off for well over a year after it came out, and it wasn’t the intended single even when it did.) In fact, Kala’s first week sales were 39,000. According to Billboard, ”Maya” is projected to open with...about 25,000. Not a very big difference, there. Doesn’t look like the rest of the planet hates MIA as much as Bitchfork and Heischberg do, because the rest of the planet cares about her as much as they used to - not very.

    I’m not a big MIA fan; that wasn’t the point of this, to come to her defense. I don’t hate her, either, really; I just don’t see what the point of this two-pronged takedown was. The problem I have here is both Heischberg and Bitchfork getting themselves over and thinking they’re a lot more important than they actually are. People desperately trying to use the media to get themselves over is a big pet peeve; that’s why I can’t stand that douchelord Perez Hilton. I’m merely here, to paraphrase Emergency Pizza Party, “to call out their bullshit like I was Penn & Teller.”

    I’m wondering if it was even necessary, because their efforts look like they were for naught. All in all, their combined actions seemed, at the end of the day, to do very little for her career one way or the other. Looks like Bitchfork’s supposed reputation of ruining careers with a bad review is a little overblown. And Heischberg simply decided to be a bitch on her way to a career change. Neither, it looks like, accomplished what they wanted to do, and I’m glad for that.

    The winner of the match, after last eliminating Bitchfork: MIA.

    MIA has stayed pretty much on a rampage (because of all this? If it is, I don't blame her a damn bit). Next target, courtesy of Time Out Magazine (although I couldn't actually find the article...) by way of 411 Music (...but Mitch is normally solid with his sources, so I'll go with what I got), was Lady GaGa:

    M.I.A.: ...Oprah seemed like she was giving me the cold shoulder.

    Time Out: What do you mean?

    M.I.A.: She was with Iman [Bowie]. Iman was always dancing with me, hugging and kissing me, but Oprah seemed really pissed off with me. Also she made this huge speech at the ball praising Lady Gaga and about how she is helping Americans to be the best of themselves. There's millions of other Americans who represent that for me. Is [it] about numbers? About how much you're selling? Is it truly about the journey? Because [Lady Gaga's] journey isn't that difficult: to go from the fucking Upper East Side to a fucking performing arts school and on to a stage at the museum of fucking wherever. That journey's about four miles.

    ...deeeeeamn. Bonus points for hilarity aside, she raises a point. In her own way, I guess.

    You see, I'm no GaGa fan, but I understand and get it. And I have nothing against the fact that, debates about actual talent aside, she's more than willing and able to play the game of media manipulation to the point that she's about the fill the void of next big Pop Superstar. The media's gonna let her do it and planet Earth is gonna stand aside and watch while they're all being played.

    MIA, meanwhile, is doing the same, but in another direction entirely. She's looking more and more like this generation's Chuck D. The media is there, for her, to get her beliefs and her character over, but not to play the game of stardom.

    At the end of the day, I think MIA will be the more respected but less successful of the two. Lady GaGa has no problem whoring herself out in the name of fame, but MIA's after the integrity vote. The planet is too full of supercilious sheep with short attention spans to care about things like character and integrity. Hell, they think all you need for "character" is a weird outfit once a week.

    And THAT is why Lady GaGa will ultimately win the Pop Stardom World Heavyweight Championship, while MIA, though the more respected (and respectable) of the two, will have to settle for the Intercontinental Title.
  • Show Review: Weird Al at Hard Rock Live - 07.21.10

    The Father of Nerd Music and Pop-Culture Satirist Extradordinaire still has what it takes on stage.

    ...and boy, does he ever. This was easily one of the most fun shows I can ever remember going to.

    Incidentally, there's an MIA update hitting here soon as well as the stuff I've posted about Nerdapalooza. All sorts of videos and stuff like that. Stay tuned.

    Wednesday, July 14, 2010

    Pink Floyd's Waters, Gilmour to reunite again

    Roger Waters says that he and David Gilmour WILL reunite at least one more time.

    Read the last paragraph of Waters' statement, and you may be reading history.

    The Tide Is Turning?

    Hot damn!

    The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit has declared the FCC's rules on indecency "unconstitutionally vague, creating a chilling effect that goes far beyond the fleeting expletives at issue here", thereby violating the First Amendment.

    Let me translate for you: Next time Janet Jackson flops out a boob or some singer gets a little too excited at an awards show and blurts out a curse word, or two, it won't potentially cost the offending station millions of dollars in fines and fees. Even better, should a DJ for a small college radio station happen to blurt one of the "seven dirty words" on the air, the station won't have to worry about shutting its doors because the fines will drive it to bankruptcy.

    Now, I wouldn't expect a free-for-all on prime time television with all your favorite sitcom and crime drama characters swearing like sailors. But what this means is that, if they so chose to do just that, an oppressive government faction can no longer drain the network/station financially in the name of, deciding for the all of us, what's "decent".

    One of our major freedoms taken away from us during the Bush Administration has been restored. It gives me a great feeling to know that artists of all sorts - singers, musicians, actors, writers, you name it - can now actually express themselves without fear of reprisal.

    To hell with Mel Gibson and how all the tapes of what he said in the privacy of his own home are under public scrutiny (ironic that that fact is totally lost in the story, no?)...this, to me, is MUCH more important than celebrity gossip. The airwaves are actually free again.

    I used to think the world was flat
    Rarely threw my hat into the crowd
    I felt I had used up my quota of yearning
    Used to look in on the children at night
    In the glow of their Donald Duck light
    And frighten myself with the thought of my little ones burning

    But, oh, oh, oh, the tide is turning
    The tide is turning

    Satellite buzzing through the endless night
    Exclusive to moonshots and world title fights
    Jesus Christ, imagine what it must be earning
    Who is the strongest
    Who is the best
    Who holds the aces
    The East
    Or the West
    This is the crap our children are learning
    But oh, oh, oh, the tide is turning
    Oh, oh, oh, the tide is turning
    The tide is turning
    Oh, oh, oh, the tide is turning

    Now the satellite's confused
    'Cause on Saturday night
    The airwaves were full of compassion and light
    And his silicon heart
    Warmed to the sight of a billion candles burning

    Oh, oh, oh, the tide is turning
    Oh, oh, oh, the tide is turning

    I'm not saying that the battle is won
    But on Saturday night all those kids in the sun
    Wrested technology's sword from the hand of the war lords

    Oh, oh, oh, the tide is turning
    Oh, oh, oh, the tide is turning


    Marc with a C returns to Nerdapalooza

    Orlando favorite (as officially voted on by the readers of Orlando Weekly) Marc with a C talks about going back to Nerdapalooza and much more...

    BIG congratulations to Marc on getting the "Best Indie Act" nod from the readers of Orlando Weekly. Very cool. I really cannot WAIT to hit my first Nerdapalooza this weekend...

    Tuesday, July 13, 2010

    [VIDEO] U2 announces rescheduled return to Florida

    U2 announces via YouTube that the band will be back on the road next year.

    I think it's documented well enough that I'm not the biggest U2 fan in the world. That having been said, I'm glad Bono's recovering enough to pull this off and kudos to them for rescheduling all 16 dates to make those who spent the money to see them happy by still giving the chance to do so.

    American Carnage comes to Orlando in October

    Three of the "Four Horsemen" - Anthrax, Megadeth, and Slayer - bring back the old "Clash Of The Titans" lineup for one hell of a tour this fall...

    I'm on this like white on rice. Like Republicans on a new idea from Obama. Like a thong on Vida Guerrera. No wa--wait...NO WAY am I missing this one.

    Thursday, July 8, 2010

    Another Reason I Heart Twitter Sometimes... because I can address someone directly when dressing them down.

    Case in point: Lindsay Lohan went on a rant on Twitter after the poor widdle ting was sentenced to jail. God forbid she actually, I don't know, reap the consequences of her actions and not feel she's able to thumb her nose at the legal system like the rest of us commoners.

    Her rant read:

    "It is clearly stated in Article 5 of the U.N. Universal Declaration of Human Rights that…."

    "No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment."

    "this was taken from an article by Erik Luna.. "November 1 marked the 15th anniversary of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines. But there were no about"

    "celebrations, parades, or other festivities in honor of this punishment scheme created by Congress and the U.S. Sentencing Commission…."

    "Instead, the day passed like most others during the last 15 years: Scores of federal defendants sentenced under a constitutionally perverted system that saps moral judgment through its mechanical rules."

    First of all, I think she's trying to sound a lot smarter than she actually is. Be that as it may, this child's tantrum offends me. Again, why does she feel she's so different from us? Because she's a "celebrity"? (Famous for what, might I add? Having something resembling a career at some point but ruining that with a drunken bender that's gone on for quite a few years now?)

    In response, I could write a column about this somewhere. Or post something here. (Kinda took care of that already, I guess.)

    Then the lightbulb goes off. She did this on Twitter. I'm on Twitter, too. Hell, why not just address my concerns directly with her and skip the middle man?

    So I did...

    @lindsaylohan If your little rant was about, that’s not even our country. Ignore the rest of what’s to come...

    @lindsaylohan If you’re trying to be some sort of martyr over having to go to jail, however, then would you please. Shut. The hell. Up.

    @lindsaylohan Playing the “Cruel and unusual punishment” card is a crock of crap. Everyone else has to do much harsher sentences for DUI.

    @lindsaylohan Because you’re a celebrity who used to have a career but now famous for being a spoiled brat doesn’t mean you can’t do time.

    @lindsaylohan Playing the victim is useless here, because no one wants to hear it. The only person that victimized you is yourself.

    @lindsaylohan If you hadn’t been acting like a drunken slut for every camera in sight, none of this would have happened in the first place.

    @lindsaylohan Stop your whining, deal with the issues you caused yourself, shut your piehole, and leave the rest of us alone. Plzkthx.

    @lindsaylohan It’s called “taking responsibility for your actions,” honey. Look in to it.

    Do I expect this to even reach her, much less go anywhere else? Not really. I'm not even a blip on the radar. I know my place.

    Does it still feel good to get it off my chest and have it in a place where the person pissing me off can possibly see it? As "Rowdy" Roddy Piper once told Jesse Ventura about having Hulk Hogan and Andre The Giant both on Piper's Pit, "You damn betcha, man."

    Wednesday, July 7, 2010

    How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Brock

    Before I get in to the obvious topic at hand, a quick note about why Twitter can be so cool sometimes...

    So I’m on break at work and I see a discussion about the World Cup match between Uruguay and the Netherlands. On Twitter, I happen to follow Claudio Castagnoli, one-half of the Ring Of Honor World Tag-Team Champions and an avid soccer fan. This day and age, that sort of thing can be a great and entertaining source of information to follow live, especially for an event like the World Cup. Claudio made a remark about how a Pele kick” brought about a penalty and a yellow card, so, I figured...“What the hell?” Tying in the wrestling angle as well, I replied to Claudio about the irony.

    What I didn’t expect was for Claudio to answer back.

    Holy. Crap. This is a guy who not only happens to produce some work inside of a wrestling ring that I’ve thoroughly enjoyed, but has traveled worldwide to build a pretty nice fanbase in doing so. And he actually took the time out to respond.

    THAT’S why Twitter, for all the flak it catches, can be very cool. To have someone at whatever level of fame that you’re a fan of respond directly to you in seconds flat is damn cool no matter who you are.

    Anyway, on with our regularly scheduled program...

    It took me a good while to finally get in to MMA. It’s becoming all the rage now, and I’ll probably be accused of “jumping on the bandwagon”, but there are reasons (the title of this piece notwithstanding) that I’ve come around. First, some history...

    I’ve definitely been aware of MMA (and the UFC in particular) since the early-mid 90s. I’d heard about it and tried liking it that long ago, but it actually bored me. Over the span of a decade, I’d tried again and again to see the appeal, but I simply couldn’t. And the reason lies in the fact that I can describe every fight I’d seen in that time (which were, admittedly, a couple handfuls, but the fact remains):

  • Two dudes throw punches that don’t land
  • They hug
  • Stop, drop, and roll
  • One ends up on top of the other
  • The guy on top punches the crap out of the one of the bottom until the bottom guy taps out

    ...and that was it. After seeing that exact same fight with different people involved each time for ten years, I had no interest in seeing the same thing over and over again. Is that a fair representation of what MMA was? Not really; it’s probably just what I happened to see each time. I’d kinda followed the sport by reading about it when something caught my attention and, once in a blue moon, seeing a fight that held some interest (more on that in the first bout of UFC 116), but I still wasn’t completely sold.

    Fast forward to July 3, 2010. UFC 116 was on the lips of the planet because Brock Lesnar was returning to the Octagon to face the undefeated Shane Carwin for the Undisputed World Title. Being a diehard wrestling fan and all about some Brock when he was in WWE, I decided to give in and give it another chance. Whether the stars were aligned just right or I happened to see what I needed to see...either way, it finally happened..

    I already know people will hate my guts because of the notion that “Lesnar got me in to UFC because he was a rassler,” and I’m cognizant enough of what I read to realize that they hate Lesnar because of that, so I realize I’m facing an uphill battle already. At least, I would be if I cared about that sort of thing - or if it were actually true. But the fact that Lesnar was a rassler and that’s why I got in to it...while that’s part of the story, it’s only a small part.

    I saw the fight at UFC 100 against Frank Mir. I’d also read about how Mir verbally denigrated Lesnar’s chances to the point where he really pissed Lesnar off. This is a guy that, not only keeps freezers (plural) of meat from animals that he shot and killed himself, but that gets flat-out scary when he’s angry. He also gets motivated like you wouldn’t believe, which led him to pounding Mir in to ground chuck and keeping his title. Lesnar also loves to be hated. While he doesn’t feel the need to constantly play the heel, per se, Lesnar is a guy that will feed off of negative emotions and turn spite in to a weapon. Once again, ask Frank Mir - and the fans that Lesnar rubbed the wrong way after the fight when he rubbed that win in all of their faces.

    It was Lesnar’s toughness, motivation, and fearlessness at turning the sport on its ear by becoming one of its greats that started getting my attention. Hell, if Lesnar had never even met Vince McMahon, that kind of attitude - and the charisma and determination he showed in beinga huge success despite becoming the poster child for everything that’s “wrong” with MMA - would have won me over.

    Now, Lesnar was coming off of a year out of the game. Divertuiculitis (which I’ve had, and it’s not even remotely close to fun, trust me) had taken the Champ down and, after a long recovery and many questions about his health and his ability to get back in the cage, the stage was set for UFC 116’s main event.

    But first, there were several other bouts to get to. Figuring I was already investing this time, effort, and money in to watching for what may well could have been a 30-second fight, I had the perfect opportunity to give the UFC - and MMA as a whole, really - another chance and take in the whole show. Right off the bat, I was rewarded with seeing Seth Petruzelli nearly getting his arm broken.

    Yeah, that sounds a little mean. There’s no way to sugarcoat it, though - if there’s a guy I want to see get his ass kicked in this particular realm, it’s Seth Petruzellu. The problem I have with Petruzelli goes back to the EliteXC fight with Kimbo Slice. Not because I was all about some Kimbo; he was cool for a minute until it was clear he was in over his head when it came to the actual art of combat. (Although any guy willing to parlay that image of badassery in to a role in a Nickelodeon TV movie earns a little credit for maybe not taking himself as seriously as others did.) I’ve no heat with Petruzelli for beating Slice in under 30 seconds, it’s what the fool did afterward. His very first interview after that fight was with a morning radio show right here in Orlando where he admitted (starting at 1:50:14) to the fact that he was paid not to shoot on Kimbo so he could basically be fed to him. That comment began an investigation by - and, soon enough - in to - EliteXC that ultimately led to the promotion shutting its doors for good. Reader’s Digest Condensed Version: By being an idiot not keeping his yap shut, Petruzelli started the ball rolling on the end of a viable MMA promotion. Good job, genius - was it really necessary to talk about how the fix was in while putting yourself over?

    So, Petruzelli lost. And I was happy. But that’s not to take anything at all away from his opponent, Ricardo Romero. Making his UFC debut, Romero put on a clinic and, for the first time in over 15 years since I had become aware of UFC, opened my eyes to the idea of using any sort of strategy to win one of these fights. The art of fighting had finally become apparent when Romero let Petruzelli throw several bombs, took every one of them so that Petruzelli would tire himself out (and that was AFTER Romero had his jaw broken), and then went after the exerted arm (that had to be at least a little sore after throwing eight minutes worth of punches) and bent it damn-near backwards to win the fight.

    In that moment, the possibilities of UFC were wide open. The presentation already harkened back to a time when pro wrestling, from a standpoint of a quality product if not so much popularity, was at its best. Two guys have an issue - even one as simple as both of them wanting to make their way up the ladder and having to go through the other guy to do it. Exploit that issue, hype it up to the point where I can’t wait to see these guys go at it, turn them loose and give me a realistic, believable 1-on-1 contest that I’m satisfied to have seen and felt was worth the time and money I spent to see it. That, before the word “entertainment” became involved and the action was almost a hindrance to telling some sort of story, was what made pro wrestling great. That is what UFC has harnessed, modified, remastered, and presented to a public that is hungry for it. My hat’s off to them for the presentation - always has been in that respect - but it was great to know that the product itself had actually come to the point where it matched the hype surrounding it.

    I saw more examples of this as the show went on. I saw Gerald Harris wear Dave Branch down far enough that he could knock Branch out cold with a spinebuster slam that Arn Anderson would be proud of. I saw Stephen Bonnar go all out in the names of redemption and survival, bleeding like a shotgun victim after a relentless onslaught by Krzyzstof Soszynski only to finally exploit an opening by a frustrated Soszynski and save his career. I saw a hungry - check that, famished Chris Leben step in the place of established superstar Wanderlei Silva two weeks after his last fight and make Yoshihiro Akiyama give up after being hit harder than any man should be able to take because he saw his opportunity to grab the proverbial brass ring and subsequently challenge Wanderlei to cement his place in history. I was thoroughly enthralled by many examples of MMA at its best, and all that was before the fight that led me herein the first place!

    Brock Lesnar was set to claim his title - or attempt to - against a man that was 12-0, had never had a fight go past the first round because he set land speed records beating his opponents senseless, and was so nearly physically identical to Lesnar he could have been a clone. Because dyed-in-the-wool MMA fans hated Lesnar `(because, God forbid, a ”fake” fighter had learned the discipline and shown the will and heart it took to get there in the first place), no one really reacted to the fact that this was a man who had no business even stepping in the cage in the first place because of a seriousness illness. The feel-good story of a tried-and-true comeback was largely ignored, but that suited Lesnar just fine. He wasn’t going in to kiss babies and be the “good guy”. Nor, as viewers learned, did he ever set out to be the stereotypical pro wrestling “villain” that his post-UFC 100 interview portrayed. Lesnar, then, simply had a problem with how inferior Mir treated him and set about the task of making him eat his words in the form of a 4XL glove. This time, Lesnar had no ill will toward Carwin or anyone else.

    Mission accomplished. Lesnar hung in there during Carwin’s opening salvos. He absorbed and, when necessary, evaded Carwin’s best shots to tire him out. But this wasn’t as simple as a “wear-him-out-and-finish-him-off” fight - Lesnar surprised Carwin and everyone else by going for - and then getting - a submission win. Afterward, Lesnar’s humility was on display in a radically different post-fight interview from the one he gave at UFC 100. Lesnar didn’t want to be the “heel” or throw in people’s faces that he was a “rassler” that made good because the fans didn’t want him to. Lesnar simply, and graciously, wanted his spot at the top back and to prove he was worthy of being there. It seemed that Lesnar had learned a lot in his time away from the Octagon...

    ...and he’s not alone. I was at a point of being a fan of Lesnar’s, but not MMA, to the point that if Lesnar wasn’t involved, I wasn’t interested. I do have to thank him, though, for getting me interested on a full-time basis - and leading the way to many other competitors that have much to offer themselves. Brock Lesnar may have brought me here, but it’s guys like Stephen Bonnar, Chris Leben, Gerald Harris, and (you damn betcha) Ricardo Romero that have convinced me to stick around a while.
  • Friday, July 2, 2010

    Classic Guided By Voices lineup set to tour

    Prolific singer/songwriter Robert Pollard is putting the band back together to go on the road...

    Not having known much about Robert Pollard until very recently (thanks again, Marc!), I'm still excited to hear this. Hell, if Pavement can get some play for reuniting, then GBV certainly deserves it.

    Chris Brown: Round 2 (Final Round)

    Nothing much here than a little more proof...

    Apparently, reports have surfaced that one of Brown's bodyguards slipped him some special eyedrops not before the performance itself, but right before he went to sing "Man In The Mirror". You know, the part where he started blubbering like a baby. Not only that, but Brown's friend, R&B/Hip-Hop singer Lloyd (umm...who?), said in an interview with that--well...

    "He's back with a vengeance...I think that they're gonna find a place in their heart for him again...I told him man, you gotta get up there. You gotta CRY, you gotta really show your heart to the world."

    For the defense...or so it would seem, but these almost says more than the previous statements about the whole mess...Lloyd issued a statement recanting his comments that were about three times as long as the comments themselves. And, of course, the reports of the bodyguard slipping him the eye-drops have been denied in two reports. One comes from Brown's camp, which--DUUUH. What do you expect them to do, admit to it?! Take a close look at who's reporting that, though, because the second report comes from...

    ..well, lo and behold, it's BET's Stephen Hill! Interesting how BET - you know, the source of the awards in the first place - is all about going out of their way to shoot down these "rumors". Equally interesting is how you cannot find a single frame of Brown's performance anywhere on BET's official site.

    Addressed in Round 1 was how all the video of this simply...vanished. Come to find out, the videos went away about the same time the report about the eye-drops surfaced.

    Still want to think this is a shoot? That's certainly your prerogative. You're also welcome to think that Marc Almond was the first guy to sing "Tainted Love", that Styx's Caught In The Act is the greatest concert film ever, and that Mel Gibson loves him some Jews.

    [VIDEO] Billy Corgan cuts club gig short after heckling

    A crowd that can't keep quiet + a few hecklers = Billy Corgan leaving the stage at a Smashing Pumpkins warm-up gig...

    Okay, let me admit I'm not the biggest Smashing Pumpkins fan in the world. By any stretch. Especially now that the band may as well be called the Billy Corgan Experience.

    That having been said, I've always believed that, for any show, any given attendee should take in to account who they're going to see and what they should expect out of the performer. Conversely, it is the performer's job to entertain their audience and to put on a worthy performance for those who spent the money and took the time to come see them.

    Corgan and his band, by all accounts, lived up to their end of the bargain. The audience, it seems, did not.

    Am I surprised to see this sort of thing out of a "hipper-than-thou" crowd that feels they're entitled to give the performer a hard time simply because they went out to be seen? No.

    Does it bother me that the set had to be cut short because of selfishness and a much-inflated sense of self-importance out of those involved? You're damn right it does.

    Despite how I feel about the Pumpkins or about Corgan, this really bothers me that even he was treated so rudely by a crowd that was too concerned with its own image rather than shut up for two seconds's a novel attention to and maybe enjoy the show they paid to see.