No More Depression

No more repression
No more suppression
No more depression
Only heartfelt confession
And candid expression

No more obsession
No more needless aggression
No more concession
Only life-saving compression
And best impression

No more submission
No more permission
No more commission
Only remission
And a healthier disposition

No more infliction
No more interdiction
No more false depiction
Only true conviction
Through proper diction

No more hesitation
No more devastation
No more procrastination
Only thorough investigation
And constant insubordination

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Friday, September 26, 2014
6:35 p.m.

Published in: on September 26, 2014 at 6:35 pm  Leave a Comment  

Waves Of Dissent

You continue to expand this heartless campaign
In an already demoralized desert terrain
You claim the solution is to maintain the course
Because they only understand excessive brute force
But what you fail to see is the madness of war
And how it’s escalating beyond what it ever was before
It’s neither possible to bomb them into submission
Nor break them with torture…I’m sorry, “rendition”

People get pissed when you murder their loves
So stop being surprised when they take off the gloves
The only lesson they’re learning is “violence is the answer”
They weren’t the ones who invented this cancer
It’s laughable to see you act so noble
When the violence you’re unleashing is growing more global
Your murderous plan will not make a dent
And their numbers will keep rising through waves of dissent

This is what happens when you fuck around in places
That seduce you to embark on wild goose chases
Unfamiliar with the culture and the people who preserve it
The impeachment that’s coming? You certainly deserve it
Gone are the days when you had widespread support
It wasn’t so wise to find millions to deport
But Sophia Bush still loves you, this much is clear
How much longer before you need a new career?

The cure isn’t murder, how can it be?
Unrelenting violence only causes more misery
They’ll never stop fighting for their own sovereignty
When the alternative involves your dictators and crushing poverty
Yes, they are ruthless and not exactly kind
But neither are you, which I suspect is by design
This cycle of death will go on unabated
Unless reason chokes fear until it is asphyxiated

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Wednesday, September 24, 2014
6:36 p.m.

Published in: on September 24, 2014 at 6:36 pm  Leave a Comment  

You Hurt Me First

You were such a lovely distraction
Who gave me so much satisfaction
You convinced me to bare it all
Never once did I ever feel small

You taught me so much about expanding pleasure
How irony can lead to sensual treasure
I found strength in your history of being bold
“Looks don’t matter, we all get old”

But there were always problems right from the start
And you’ve finally decided it’s time to depart
I’m shocked and stunned and completely pissed
I can promise you now you won’t be missed

I hated it when you delayed your replies
I don’t care to compete with all the other guys
I don’t know why I’m getting all this heat
There was never a chance we would ever meet

You’re way too strange and far too wild
I talk a good game but I’m actually mild
Conversing with you used to be fun
But you lied to me, we are so fucking done

Could I ever offend you? You said there was “no chance”
But one simple question ended this dance
I thought you enjoyed all the dirty talk
I never believed I would ever make you walk

But you’ve done me a favour concluding this charade
And now I’ve constructed a brand new palisade
I’m taking the path of least resistance
I’m erasing every trace of your very existence

I thought you were sweet & incredibly kind
Regarding my nosy inquiries, I thought you didn’t mind
You should have told me when I was being a pest
Now you’re treating me like an uninvited guest

I wasted so much time trying to get close
An unhealthy addiction, I wanted more than a dose
But you’ve made your decision and I feel the worst
I hurt your feelings? You hurt me first

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Wednesday, September 17, 2014
2:17 a.m.

Published in: on September 17, 2014 at 2:18 am  Comments (1)  

Rob Ford’s Political Hail Mary

Sometimes it’s the little details that reveal so much, especially when they’re captured on Television.

Former Toronto Councillor Doug Ford made an important appearance at City Hall this afternoon.  He was there to officially enter the race for Mayor.  Why?  Because his embattled brother Rob, the current Mayor, suffered a serious setback earlier this week.  After privately experiencing persistent abdominal pain for three months, things took a turn for the worst and he was hospitalized.  The early diagnosis is a tumour.  The official prognosis is expected early next week.

Shortly after Doug left City Hall, the Mayor released a written statement saying that he is physically unable to continue his reelection campaign, a campaign that saw him trailing early frontrunner & former Conservative ally John Tory by more than ten points in the polls.  Doug is replacing him on the ballot.  Today was the deadline for last-minute election sign-ups & withdrawals.

In the midst of the circus that surrounded him at City Hall, one cameraman caught a rare moment of vulnerability.  Shooting him up close from the left, one drop of sweat slowly trickled down Doug’s cheek.

He should be sweating because the Ford Legacy is in serious jeopardy.  Scandal-plagued and globally derided, Rob Ford was never guaranteed a second term running Canada’s largest city.  How could he have possibly won anyway considering all the crack videos, the drunk videos, the racism, the sexism, the drunk driving, the physical assaults, the sexual harassment, the threats of violence, the constant lying and multiple political conflicts of interest that have defined him these past two years alone?

With only six weeks to go until Toronto elects its next municipal government, Doug Ford, the obnoxious, ignorant, careless, and deeply polarizing Councillor with his own conflicts of interest and drug dealing past, is now stepping in to try to rescue his brother’s administration.  Good luck with that.

Meanwhile, there’s the puzzling matter of Rob Ford’s political future.  He is withdrawing from the race for Mayor but he’s not out of the election altogether.  Originally, it was his nephew, Michael Ford, who was running to fill his old Councillor seat in Ward 2’s Etobicoke North riding.  Now that Doug is running for Mayor, Rob is replacing Michael as a Conservative candidate in that race.

An innocent question:  if a man is too seriously ill to run for one political office, how is he healthy enough to run for another?  Granted, running for Mayor is obviously more physically demanding than vying for a lower profile City Councillor gig, but still, if your stomach pains are so bad to the point where you need constant professional care and lots of rest & relaxation, why are you running for anything?

The likely answer:  because there’s a good chance he might actually win.  For all the city-wide support he’s lost in the last year and a half, there are a considerable number of Etobicoke residents who still believe his now discredited populist “taxpayer protector” rhetoric that got him on City Council in the first place.  Rob Ford is counting on that decade-plus connection with those remarkably loyal & forgiving voters to keep him on Council without having to do too much door-to-door campaigning.

Unfortunately, this is a gamble and it depends greatly on next week’s test results.  If that mass on his abdomen is cancerous (and let’s all hope it’s not), this sneaky back-up plan to get reelected, this time as a City Councillor, will have to be abandoned.  Even if it’s like the earlier mass he had in 2009 (which turned out to be benign), he’ll still have to have surgery and may need plenty of time to rest & recover.  As of this moment, he has few good political options.

CBC News Network’s Carole MacNeil asked a number of guests about the possibility of Doug potentially winning the election, Rob winning back his seat, Doug making him the Deputy Mayor and then at some point, stepping aside to let Rob become the Mayor again.  Not one thought this was a plausible scenario, not just because of the unlikeliness of both being elected, but because of the absurd idea that the ambitious Doug (who has expressed a desire to lead the Ontario Tories) would ever relinquish power to his younger brother, especially when you consider his many health problems.

Regardless of the end result of Rob Ford’s medical situation, whether it’s manageable or not (and again let’s hope it is a solvable problem), it’s the end of a turbulent era in Toronto politics.  Doug Ford has an impossible task ahead of himself.  He has to run on his brother’s highly questionable record as well as his own, somehow make up a lot of ground between himself & John Tory while still watching out for the formidable Olivia Chow, and avoid getting swallowed up by all the scandals that have already plagued his entire family, all in just a month and a half.

He should be sweating.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Friday, September 12, 2014
6:15 p.m.

UPDATE & CLARIFICATION:  Dr. Zane Cohen announced during a press conference that the Mayor has a rare form of cancer, a “malignant liposarcoma” in his stomach that has spread to another part of his body.  He will be undergoing on-again/off-again chemotherapy, a process that will take several weeks.  Despite the difficult days ahead, Dr. Cohen says he is “optimistic” but did not promise a full recovery.  As of this writing, it is not certain if Rob Ford will discontinue his campaign to win his old Ward 2 seat in Etobicoke North.  Also not clear is what Doug Ford will do with his own yet-to-be-kicked-off campaign for Mayor.  (Since announcing, he has kept a low profile.)

During the press conference, Dr. Cohen noted that the Mayor did not actually have a tumour in 2009.  He actually had appendicitis.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Wednesday, September 17, 2014
6:14 p.m.

CORRECTION:  In paragraph 6, I wrote that Doug Ford was a “deeply polarizing former Councillor”.  Actually, despite not running for re-election in his Ward, until December 1st when the newly elected City Council is sworn in for the first time, he is still very much an active Councillor.  That’s why “former” has been removed from the text.  My apologies for the mistake.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Wednesday, September 17, 2014
8:12 p.m.

UPDATE 2:  Judging by an audio message he recently released, Rob Ford has no intention of staying silent during Toronto’s current election campaign.  While thanking his fellow citizens for their outpouring of support as he prepares for his first round of chemotherapy, he also urged them to support Doug for Mayor.  The outgoing City Councillor is expected to finally start campaigning for the city’s top job shortly.  Meanwhile, the current Mayor is pushing forward with his own campaign for his old Ward 2 seat, despite sounding hoarse in his message and remaining in hospital.  The question is, if he wins on October 27, will he be healthy enough to be sworn in on December 1?

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Thursday, September 18, 2014
8:19 p.m.

Published in: on September 12, 2014 at 6:15 pm  Leave a Comment  

Perverted Thinker

You reel me in
Hook, line & sinker
It’s not a surprise
You’re a perverted thinker
Nothing offends you
I can say what I please
Sometimes you ignore me
You irresistible tease

I have so many questions
You’re eager to enlighten
You’re so comfortably bold
You unintentionally frighten
You express such kindness
You even seem impressed
You also sent me pictures
Of your massive chest

I can’t always tell
If you’re being sincere
And your non-sequiturs
Aren’t always clear
You tickle my brain
With your salacious thoughts
The stories you tell
Sound like Hollywood plots

If we were closer
Would we get attached?
But it’s just a flirtation
Nothing’s been hatched
We will never meet
You’re too far away
I’m not sure I can handle
Your wild sense of play

But that doesn’t stop
These feelings from arising
How can they not?
You’re constantly surprising
It easy to imagine
Scenarios in my head
All of which involve
Your warm, inviting bed

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Tuesday, September 9, 2014
10:07 p.m.

Published in: on September 9, 2014 at 10:07 pm  Leave a Comment  

Lust Never Sleeps

It arises at the sound of your voice
So soft and seductive, like a whisper in the wind
A haunting shiver that fuels my engine
I cannot resist your desire to advance

A wink and a twinkle always give you away
I know exactly what’s on your mind
There’s no stopping what you’ve just begun
I’m just here to enjoy the ride

I feel your grip as you begin to tease
A maddening display of filthy calm
You’re not in any hurry to please
I’m defenseless to your lingering tongue

A hush has fallen over this dramatic scene
As you vacuum away all my pain
Feel the tension between us grow
As I disappear inside your mouth

You watch my reactions with delicious glee
Knowing full well how skilled you are
I brace myself for what’s to come
A volcanic eruption you’re eager to receive

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Friday, September 5, 2014
4:39 p.m.

Published in: on September 5, 2014 at 4:39 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Forgotten Influence Of MuchMusic

For almost 15 years, my Dad was obsessed with taping music videos.  He actually kept track of every single one he ever recorded on Beta & VHS by writing them all down on these tiny pieces of three-ring paper that he kept in this tiny brown binder.  The list was alphabetized by artist.  Under each name were the video titles (not always the correct ones) and the corresponding cassette(s) they were recorded on.  Some were recorded multiple times because he either loved them so much or just wanted to record right to the end of a blank tape.  (In 2004, most of them (we’re talking hundreds of tapes) were finally thrown out after years of collecting dust.)

When he started doing this in the early 80s, he would set the timer for programs like Friday Night Videos on NBC and City Limits on a local Toronto station called City TV.  Hosted by aspiring songwriter Christopher Ward (and occasionally featuring a young comic named Mike Myers), City Limits aired every Saturday & Sunday in the wee hours of the morning.  Every episode was six hours long.

The mix of performers pantomiming to their singles was always eclectic.  In between videos featuring mainstream acts like Phil Collins & Pat Benatar were more cutting edge outfits like Depeche Mode and Siouxsie & The Banshees.  Looking back, it’s amazing the show was able to showcase so many different clips during their epic weekend broadcasts.  There weren’t many videos being produced during this period.

So you can only imagine how initially thrilled my Dad was when MuchMusic launched on August 31, 1984.  Unfortunately, The Nation’s Music Station began as a Pay-TV service (my Dad wasn’t going to give our local cable company more dough) so, he only taped videos during their free preview weekends, a semi-regular sales tactic employed to attract more subscribers.

Just a few years later, Much became part of our regular cable package.  And every day until the fall of 1995, Dad was constantly watching hoping to catch something he hadn’t already recorded before.  When he wasn’t watching, he asked me to take over so he wouldn’t miss anything.

Of all the video shows Much aired in its early years, there was only one he couldn’t miss:  the Hostess Sneak Previews.  Usually hosted by Steve Anthony, a blond, curly-haired goofball who drove my Dad nuts, it was the best place to see the latest clips.  Even after the cancellation of CBC shows like Video Hits & Good Rockin’ Tonight and another City-TV program called Toronto Rocks, among numerous others, he would continue to suffer through Anthony’s “paper hell” schtick (there were no teleprompters) just to add the newest titles to his growing collection.  (He must’ve taped tens of thousands of clips over the years.)

I’m not sure now why Dad lost interest in them altogether, but about a decade later, MuchMusic itself would drastically cut back on fully honouring this part of its mandate.  For most of the first half of its existence, with the exception of Erica Ehm’s Fashion Notes, every program it aired dealt exclusively with music.  Besides the regular hours devoted to random videos, there were specialty shows devoted to specific genres:  Outlaws & Heroes (Country), Rap City (Hip Hop), X-Tendamix (Dance), Soul In The City (R&B), Clip Trip (International), Pepsi Power Hour (Heavy Metal), MushMusic (Adult Contemporary), French Kiss (French Canadian), Indie Street (unsigned bands), The Wedge, The Punk Show and the revamped City Limits (Alternative Rock) and the Coca-Cola Countdown (Pop).

On Saturday nights, there were the Big Ticket Concerts.  On Saturday afternoons, there was the all-request show R.S.V.P. (Requested Songs for Video Play), which was spun off into Daily R.S.V.P. during weekday broadcasts.  There was Much West (featuring Terry David Mulligan with his giant cellphone covering Canadian music on the West Coast) and Much East (the two Mikes covering the East Coast).  There was the daily artist Spotlight which featured videos & interview excerpts of the biggest names in the business, past and present.  And then, on Mondays, there was the MuchMusicMovie which only featured musicals like Quadrophenia and Purple Rain.

Today, as Much celebrates its 30th Anniversary, only two of these shows remain on the air:  the weekly Countdown (minus its original sponsor) and the Much Movie (which isn’t restricted to music-themed features or a specific day any more).  Yes, they still play videos for a couple hours every afternoon.  But for the most part, today’s Much is nothing like yesterday’s MuchMusic.  There are far more sitcoms, dramas and reality shows, totally unrelated to music, dominating its daily schedule.

It’s sad, really.  When Moses Znaimer, the founder of both Much and City-TV, ran things, the channel mattered.  There was a serious mission to honour not just music in general, but Canadian musicians specifically.  MuchMusic went out of its way to push homegrown talent like Platinum Blonde, The Tragically Hip, The Northern Pikes, Jann Arden, Sloan, Alannah Myles (who found great success collaborating with Christopher Ward), Chalk Circle, I Mother Earth, 54-40, The Barenaked Ladies, Blue Rodeo, The Tea Party and countless others to national success, while existing stars like Neil Young and Rush continued to flourish.

Thanks to its VideoFact program (since renamed MuchFact) which helped fund videos for indie acts, bands like The Pursuit Of Happiness, Moist, Maestro Fresh-Wes and The Age Of Electric were all able to get major label deals.  French Canadian performers like Celine Dion, Roch Voisine and Mitsou would’ve never broken out of Quebec without the nationwide platform that the channel provided for them.  And because Much was dedicated to breaking acts from various genres, Shania Twain, Alanis Morissette and The Rankin Family were all able to build their own audiences through the excessive airings of their respective videos.

In the last decade or so, it’s hard to think of Much as the influential tastemaker it once prided itself on being.  Beyond the breakout successes of Billy Talent, Sam Roberts, Metric & The Arcade Fire in the early Aughts, the channel is now far more interested in promoting Fresh Prince & Simpsons reruns and teen sudsers like Degrassi than pushing the next great Canadian act.  (Sorry but Hedley, Michael Buble, Carly Rae Jepsen & Justin Bieber just don’t count.)

To be fair, Much’s decline isn’t entirely its own fault.  Part of the problem, of course, is the Internet.  Thanks to YouTube and countless imitators, music fans can become their own video programmers by simply scouring extensive lists of clips online at their leisure and playing them in an instant.  Since the channel rarely plays classic videos from the past anymore, if one wanted to see, say, Killing Joke’s Love Like Blood right this second, one could do so right now with absolutely no difficulty (as long as one has a fast ISP).  And if one was desperate to see something brand new that’s just been released, well, it wouldn’t take one long to find that clip online, as well.

But what’s lost in that process are passionate TV programmers and VJs urging you to check out an artist or a band you’ve never heard of who they think you’ll really dig and follow for years to come.  There’s no steering you towards the dangerous, the exciting and the unexpected any more.  (Yes, Much has videos on its website but it’s really not the same.)

In fact, when Much does play videos during their afternoon Videoflows, there are no VJs introducing them at all.  It’s up to you to find out more about the current artists they still bother to play.  Unfortunately, few of them are worth caring about.  (What the hell happened to rock and roll?  Is it truly dead?)

Today’s music fans have a plethora of choices when it comes to seeing videos on the Internet.  During my childhood, there was no on-demand, only request shows and no guarantee of that request being granted on-air.  (I was able to get a Rush video played on Toronto Rocks once when Christopher Ward guest hosted, though.)

Still, it was fantastic to watch a channel that played nothing but videos for hours and hours, exposing you to a world of music you never knew existed, reminding you of established acts you had forgotten about and introducing you to artists who would become lifelong favourites.  (It’s why my Dad became a major fan of the Crash Test Dummies.)

As it celebrates 30 years on the air in Canada, that’s the MuchMusic I wish still existed.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Tuesday, August 26, 2014
2:01 a.m.

CORRECTION:  City Limits was actually six hours long, not five like I originally wrote.  The correct running time for the program has been added to the original text.  My memory is not as good as I thought it was.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Friday, August 29, 2014
2:33 a.m.

Published in: on August 26, 2014 at 2:02 am  Leave a Comment  

SummerSlam Trivia

1. Hulk Hogan has never defended the WWF Championship at SummerSlam.  The two occasions he was champion during the event (1989 & 1991), he wrestled in tag team matches.  He’s also undefeated.  He’s won all six of his encounters.  Also unbeaten is Ric Flair (he’s 2-0) and the short-lived Finnish villain Ludvig Borga who defeated Marty Jannetty in his only appearance at the annual supercard in 1993.  Borga committed suicide in 2010.

2. Brutus Beefcake was supposed to win the InterContinental title from The Honky Tonk Man at the inaugural show in 1988.  Despite having chased the champion for nearly a year, it was decided just weeks before that The Ultimate Warrior would take his place instead.  To write him out of the match, Beefcake started a feud with Outlaw Ron Bass.  After The Barber saved a jobber from being harmed by him post-squash during one of the weekly TV shows, he cut Miss Betsy (Bass’ bullwhip) in half and part of his cowboy hat, as well.

Subsequently, an infuriated Bass interfered in Beefcake’s own squash with a different jobber and proceeded to cut him on the forehead with Bret & Bart Maverick (his spurs).  Yes, a slightly bloody forehead was the reason Beefcake didn’t appear at SummerSlam 88.  (Curiously, Bass didn’t wrestle, either.)  Because no official opponent was announced before the event, The Honky Tonk Man demanded anybody come down & fight him for the title.  The Warrior’s music hit and in less than a minute, he ended the longest IC reign in history.  Beefcake would never get another chance to become champion.

3. Speaking of the Warrior, he was supposed to turn heel at the 1992 show.  In the build-up, Ric Flair & Mr. Perfect tantalized fans by claiming that either the man from Parts Unknown or his opponent, WWF Champion Randy “Macho Man” Savage, both popular babyfaces, had secretly aligned with them, two nefarious villains.  Unfortunately, Warrior was against this plan.  So, instead, during their WWF Championship match, Flair & Perfect attacked both men.  (Warrior won the match by countout but not the title.)  Warrior & Savage would later briefly team up themselves to become The Ultimate Maniacs.

4. SummerSlam 1992 was the only event in the show’s history to not air live on pay-per-view.  (It was also the only time it was held outside of North America and in an outdoor stadium.)  Because it took place at Wembley Stadium in London, England, it was decided to tape everything in advance rather than deal with the cumbersome time difference.  The show took place on August 29th but was broadcast stateside on the 31st.  Because of the wide reach of the Internet, this could never happen today without pre-taped spoilers being leaked by attendees to online dirt sheets.  (Back then, the World Wide Web was only in its infancy.)

Furthermore, 3 matches that took place during the taping never aired during the initial North American broadcast due to time constraints.  They’re also not on the DVD of the show.  For the record, Papa Shango beat Tito Santana; Hacksaw Jim Duggan & The Bushwhackers defeated The Nasty Boys & The Mountie; and Tatanka pinned The Berzerker.

5. Mr. Perfect was not at 100% when he unsuccessfully defended his IC title against Bret “The Hitman” Hart at the 1991 show.  Despite suffering from a back injury, he wanted to put over his real-life friend during Hart’s second attempt at becoming a singles star.  Hart’s proud parents, Stu & Helen, were in attendance.  During the post-match interview with his father, Lord Alfred Hayes cut him off while he was still talking.

6. The Undertaker nearly died at SummerSlam 1996.  During his infamous Boiler Room Match with Mankind, he suffered a severe staph infection.  Had he not gone to the hospital in time, he wouldn’t have survived.  Thank goodness that portion of the match was pre-taped the day before the live show.  This was the encounter where his longtime mentor, Paul Bearer, turned on him & joined forces with Mankind who handed The Dead Man his first SummerSlam defeat after four consecutive victories at the event.

7. During the preparation for their match at SummerSlam 1997, Owen Hart and Stone Cold Steve Austin argued over one of the spots they were planning.  Hart wanted to do a reverse piledriver like a traditional piledriver where the man delivering it lands on his ass.  Knowing firsthand how dangerous that is (years earlier, Austin executed that exact move to a Japanese wrestler named Masahiro Chono with disastrous results), Stone Cold was adamant it be performed like the Undertaker’s Tombstone where the man delivering it lands on his knees.  In the end, Hart did it on his ass and Austin suffered a neck injury so severe for a few moments he couldn’t feel anything in his extremities.  There was a deep concern that he was paralyzed.

Complicating matters was that this was an IC title match and Hart, the champion, was supposed to put over Austin to make him the new titleholder.  Having to wait around a bit before Austin could continue, the ending was as awkward as it gets.  Hart pretended to lose his balance as a seriously hurt Austin struggled to perform a reverse roll-up to get the pin.  Hart never apologized for the mistake and Austin never forgave him.  The King of Harts tragically died two years later during his botched entrance at the 1999 Over The Edge event.

8. What was the first heel turn in SummerSlam history?  Believe it or not, it was Sapphire in 1990.  At the time, she was Dusty Rhodes’ cornerperson.  But after she failed to show up for her match with Sensational Sherri (who won by forfeit), she later turned up in a fur coat with The Million Dollar Man Ted DiBiase.  (He had been sending her expensive anonymous gifts for weeks.)  Dumbfounded and heartbroken, Rhodes lost a quick match that night to the Macho King Randy Savage.  Sapphire died in 1996.

9. The Model Rick Martel and Shawn Michaels squared off in the first villain vs. villain match at SummerSlam at the Wembley extravaganza in 1992.  It had an unusual stipulation:  no hitting in the face.  (Both characters were self-absorbed pretty boys.)  Sensational Sherri, then in the corner of Michaels and instrumental in getting him over as a singles star, was booked to be torn between both men.  It ended in a double countout.  She stuck with Michaels.

10. The WWF Championship was successfully defended at SummerSlam until 1997 when Bret Hart defeated The Undertaker to win his final world title, thanks to an ill-timed chair shot by guest referee Shawn Michaels, the man who would beat him for it at that year’s infamous Survivor Series.  11 more World Champions have been pushed at the event since then.

11. The ECW Championship is the only title that has never changed hands at SummerSlam.

12. If you’re the InterContinental Champion preparing to defend your title at the biggest event of the summer, you should be worried.  New IC Champions have been crowned 14 times, more than any other title.

13. No villain has ever won a traditional steel cage match at SummerSlam.

14. What was the shortest match in the history of this show?  There’s a tie for that honour.  In 2009, Christian defeated William Regal to retain his ECW Championship.  And in 2013, Randy Orton cashed in his Money In The Bank contract on just-crowned WWE Champion Daniel Bryan to steal the title.  Both matches, according to Wikipedia, lasted 8 seconds.  What’s the longest one?  The 7-on-7 elimination tag team match that pitted John Cena, Bret Hart, R-Truth, John Morrison, Chris Jericho, Edge & the returning Daniel Byran against The Nexus in 2010.  It lasted more than 35 minutes.  John Cena was the sole survivor.

15. Ryback & Kane both made their pay-per-view debuts in the WWE at SummerSlam under different characters.  In 1995, Kane was originally Isaac Yankem, Jerry Lawler’s sadomasochistic dentist.  He lost to Bret Hart by DQ.  And in 2010, Ryback first emerged as Skip Sheffield as part of The Nexus in the above-mentioned elimination tag match.

16. Ted DiBiase wrestled his final match against Razor Ramon in the opening bout of the event in 1993.  Something went wrong at the end when Ramon used his Razor’s Edge finisher to get the 3-count.  (It wasn’t performed safely enough.)  DiBiase was too hurt to ever compete again but thanks to his magnificent promo skills he was retooled as a manager both in the WWF and later, the WCW.

17. The Legion Of Doom made history in 1991 when they defeated The Nasty Boys for the WWF Tag Team titles.  They became the only tag team to have won the AWA, NWA & WWF tag belts, a feat that can never be repeated.

18. SummerSlam is the only one of the original four, ongoing WWE pay-per-views (WrestleMania, The Royal Rumble and The Survivor Series being the others) to be the setting for two successful Money In The Bank cash-ins.  Alberto Del Rio took advantage of a power bombed CM Punk to win the WWE title in 2011 and all Randy Orton had to do was cover a pedigreed Daniel Bryan to snag it in 2013.

19. The only time Jesse “The Body” Ventura wasn’t a colour commentator during a WWF pay-per-view event in the 80s was at the first SummerSlam in 1988.  The reason?  He was the guest referee for the Megapowers/Megabucks tag team main event.  He reluctantly made the 3-count for the babyfaces.  11 years later, while governor of Minnesota, he controversially returned to guest referee the Triple Threat match between Stone Cold Steve Austin, Mankind & Triple H for the WWF Championship.  Mrs. Foley’s Baby Boy won the title.

20. There has been at least one new champion crowned at every SummerSlam with the notable exceptions of 1993, 1996, 2003, 2006 & 2007 where there were none.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Sunday, August 17, 2014
8:17 p.m.

UPDATE:  Because Dolph Ziggler won the IC title from The Miz and Brock Lesnar destroyed John Cena to become the new WWE World Heavyweight Champion at SummerSlam 2014, the figures originally mentioned in numbers 10 & 12 have now been updated to reflect these changes.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Sunday, August 17, 2014
11:35 p.m.

Published in: on August 17, 2014 at 8:17 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Sadness Beneath

(For Mr. Williams.)

How could he end such a beautiful life?
Why did he throw it all away?
Did he not think of his kids & wife
And all who loved to watch him play?

Unanswered questions from a chorus in shock
Fumbling for reason in a time of grief
He often seemed as solid as a rock
And never in need of permanent relief

It’s hard to understand a troubled mind
That deludes itself into believing the worst
That out there, you’re funny, sharp & kind
But in here, you’re trapped, lonely & cursed

The sadness beneath is a silent killer
And no one but its victims can be aware
So you mask the pain, pretend to be a pillar
While quietly drowning in a sea of despair

You accept the lies that define your thinking
But work twice as hard to hide their influence
The truth gets lost in your heavy drinking
Completely buried in this deadly confluence

Behind the jokes is a trail of shame
Launched by traumatic events of the past
An extraordinary man with a famous name
Ravaged by dishonesty much too fast

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Tuesday, August 12, 2014
11:00 p.m.

Published in: on August 12, 2014 at 11:01 pm  Leave a Comment  

A Former Obama Aide’s Revealing Rolling Stone Article

Reid Cherlin used to work for The Obama Administration.  After the election of the new President in 2008, he worked in the Press Secretary’s Office as one of its spokespeople.  He left the gig a couple of years later.

In a new piece for Rolling Stone magazine, he recounts his experiences from the inside.  It has to be read to be believed.

You see, Mr. Cherlin, as he readily admits in the middle of paragraph seven, is an unabashed Obama fan:

“I’m biased in that I think Obama is right about most things.  I also believe he’ll be remembered as an excellent president.”

And he thinks his former boss is deeply misunderstood, thanks to those big meanies in the media or “the filter”, as he dismissively describes them:

“It’s always an easy story to point out where the president has failed to deliver on his promises.”

Throughout the article about Obama’s “messy relationship with the press”, Cherlin’s tone is often defensive with regards to press criticism, very much reflecting the feelings of his former boss.

Take Politico, for instance.  Founded during the 2008 campaign, “Obama’s advisers detested Politico from the start, accurately recognizing its potential to wreak havoc on their carefully crafted narratives, and to inspire their competitors to indulge in the same bad habits.” In other words, they hated the site for performing the terrible crime of journalism.

And then there are the individual reporters who angered the Administration.  In April of this year, New York Times White House correspondent Mark Landler got reamed out in Air Force One’s press cabin in front of his colleagues for co-writing a cover story that declared one of Obama’s foreign trips a flop while it was still in progress.  Because it was an off-the-record moment, “a definitive accounting of what was said is hard to come by…”

So, Cherlin paraphrases:

“…the thrust of the president’s message was this: Foreign policy is hard, you guys are scoring it like a campaign debate, and moreover, you’re doing it inaccurately.”

Foreign policy is hard?  Good Lord.  As for supposed examples of journalistic inaccuracies, none are mentioned.  Huge shocker.

Some journalists who pissed off Obama got punished for leaking information the government expected to be kept secret, albeit until they deemed it ready for public consumption.  Buzzfeed reporter Chris Geidner was “openly snubbed” by the White House for reporting on a “secret strategy meeting” with LGBT activists.  His punishment?  Being purposefully left out of a conference call that involved news of an upcoming executive order.

“Two months before, the White House had levied similar punishment on The New York Times for skirting a restriction called an embargo (information provided in advance on the condition that it can’t be reported before a certain set time). Times writers used their own sourcing to report the story early, and the next time an embargoed document came around, detailing one of the president’s upcoming speeches, Times correspondents found themselves excluded from the party.”

Not only do journalists get punished for disobeying silly restrictions like this that are imposed on them by these paranoid government officials, they can get bypassed completely.  Following the phony controversy surrounding this famous Obama comment about conservatives – “They cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them.” – made during a private fundraiser in the 2008 Presidential campaign, according to Cherlin, the White House “began exploring ways to re-exert control, ignoring the media altogether.”

Which explains why the announcement of Joe Biden as Obama’s running mate was done via text.

Beyond the grudges the Administration holds against specific journalists, it’s startling to read Cherlin’s comments about the press in general and how the government is supposed to react to their questioning.  Consider the Veteran Affairs scandal that erupted this year.  As a chorus of critics demanded the resignation of General Eric Shinseki, the embattled VA Secretary who Obama selected to run the troubled agency in 2009 after promising to cut ridiculously long wait times for severely injured war veterans, President Obama initially stood by his man.  Then, during a Press Room briefing weeks after the scandal broke, he finally announced Shinseki’s departure.

Cherlin is perplexed by this.  While correctly noting that the VA’s problems are “systemic” and go back decades, he can’t understand why Shinseki had to be removed from his job:

“…vets face long waits and substandard care on a systemic basis, and…firing the head of the agency probably will do nothing to change that.”

Then, he quotes former WH Press Secretary Robert Gibbs:

“…Washington has these things where in order for a story to stop and the next chapter to be written…there have to be these inflection points…”  Like “ritual firings”, Cherlin adds.

In other words, why do we have to fire these incompetent people?  It’s not their fault!  This isn’t their problem!  They didn’t start the fire!  Blame the other clowns who came before them!

With regards to the persecution of journalists like the widely respected New York Times national security reporter James Risen, Cherlin quotes an anonymous Obama official who absurdly asserts that this is one of those “Bush investigations” that the administration didn’t initiate but merely inherited, as if the President had no choice but to keep it going.  And that Obama “expressed both publicly and privately his frustration with the way they are being handled and has said reporters should never be in trouble for doing their job.”

Curiously, this follows a brief summary of the Risen case (the Administration wants him to testify in the Jeffrey Sterling leak case because they believe he was the source for a chapter in his State Of War book involving the secret US cyberattack on Iran’s nuclear facility) where Cherlin correctly notes that “the Supreme Court, at the urging of Obama’s Justice Department, declined to hear Risen’s appeal.”  Despite Obama asserting that “reporters should never be in trouble for doing their job”, he won’t stop hounding Risen to testify when he knows the reporter will never reveal his source and is prepared to go to prison if it comes to that.  (If journalists can’t protect their sources, why would anyone confide in them?)

It’s bad enough Cherlin doesn’t mention the most serious of Obama’s transgressions (drones, Gitmo, Bagram, Libya, Somalia, Afghanistan, the war on drugs, excessive deportations, the war on whistleblowers, the NSA’s global surveillance state, delays in releasing the CIA torture report, prison torture, racial profiling of Muslims, the militarization of law enforcement) when listing a number of unflattering media stories that have diminished the President’s stature.  It’s even worse when he suggests that the reason the media is so brutal to Obama in the first place is not that he has questionable policies but because the traditional news business is dying and as a result, anybody can be a journalist as long as they can do Buzzfeed listicles and have any kind of political grievance regardless of its factual validity.

Cherlin quotes recently retired WH Press Secretary Jay Carney, previously a 2o-year journalist who worked for Time Magazine, who claims that because “of all the cutting and slashing” of media jobs “everybody’s strung out and incapable of taking a breath and actually thinking about what they’re saying or writing.”

No actual examples are given.  Furthermore, there is much whining about having to respond to any reporter inquiries at all, whether they be serious or otherwise.  The overall sense of powerlessness Cherlin & others convey in the article is striking.  It’s as if they’re not responsible for anything bad that happens.

There’s an interesting section where Cherlin writes about his own interactions with the media.  It turns out he was a screamer, particularly when reporters wouldn’t play ball.  He wasn’t the only one:

“It didn’t take long for the group [of White House press aides] to earn a reputation as overly quick to scream to get their way, or to exact a price for stories they saw as unfair.”

Toddlers are less childish.  At any event, it was a failed tactic:

“…as the years passed and the novelty of an Obama presidency leached away, the atmosphere of presumption and entitlement to good coverage has worn poorly.”

“Presumption” and “entitlement”.  The idea that it’s imperative upon the press to heap constant praise on this federal government or else speaks volumes.  Ironically, considering the lack of skepticism that a number of beltway journalists exhibit when covering this administration, particularly on national security issues, I’d say Obama is still getting his way, despite all his growing scandals.  His persecutions of government whistleblowers and the journalists who employ them as sources are proof of that.  With some notable exceptions, he has scared the media into various fits of self-censorship.  A definite chill is being felt throughout the entire news business.

Cherlin’s Rolling Stone article is accompanied by an illustration of a wounded, bandaged Obama glaring sullenly at a small group of journos reimagined as voracious lions ready to pounce on him repeatedly.

Unfortunately, the reality, despite Cherlin’s often wimpy, unfounded assertions, is quite the opposite.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Tuesday, August 5, 2014
7:58 p.m.

 

 

Published in: on August 5, 2014 at 7:58 pm  Comments (2)  
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