Questions For President Obama’s Supporters

How can you support such a murderous regime?
Why help extinguish The American Dream?
Do you realize you’re endorsing global terror?
Will you ever admit you’ve made a colossal error?

Why so enamoured with this charismatic speaker?
Is it because he declared war on every conscientious leaker?
Are you happy that we’re destroying innocent Muslims abroad?
Don’t you think it’s time you stopped worshipping him like a god?

What about the promises he failed to keep?
What about the corruption that runs so deep?
Is he really such an inspired choice?
Does he truly represent your liberal voice?

Why do you ignore the screams of the dying?
Do you honestly believe his many critics are lying?
Why fall in line when you’re really not his base?
Why soil your reputation standing next to his smiling face?

Why let him off the hook for various war crimes?
Have you abandoned your principles in these precarious times?
Do you have no sense of decency or self-respect?
How do you stand by a man who’s not at all circumspect?

Why are you fine with all this hate?
Does celebrating murder make you feel great?
Do you believe all this surveillance can save us all
From the crumbling of an empire on the verge of a fall?

Is there a systematic problem he will ever fix?
Is enjoying human suffering how you all get your kicks?
Have you lost all your compassion for those in need?
Where’s your collective condemnation against the onslaught of greed?

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Saturday, September 29, 2012
2:49 a.m.

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Published in: on September 29, 2012 at 2:49 am  Comments (1)  

Needs & Wants

I need to be inspired
I need to be desired
I want to face the truth
So these fears can be retired

I need a new ideal
I need a new appeal
I want a mental makeover
To reconnect with the real

I need to be courageous
I need to be outrageous
I want to overcome my limits
Fuck the advantageous

I need a happier disposition
I need not be an imposition
I want to move forward
And strengthen my position

I need to be on my own
I need to be flesh & bone
I want to kickstart a life
And get out of this comfort zone

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Friday, September 28, 2012
11:50 p.m.

Published in: on September 28, 2012 at 11:50 pm  Leave a Comment  

5 Famous Actors Who Survived Their Horror Film Debuts

They all had to start somewhere.  Most performers in Hollywood with the good fortune to experience any kind of lasting commercial or artistic success initially had to struggle to get any paying gig they could get their hands on.  When you’re starving, your standards can never be too low.  More often than not, this means being cast in a horror movie.

It’s bad enough being slaughtered by a masked or disfigured menace with an insatiable appetite for unknown talent.  It’s even worse not being able to move on to better roles in stronger films regardless of the genre.  Sadly, this is the fate of most young actors in horror.  For whatever reason, we rarely, if ever, see them again.

Thankfully, not everyone in the business sees their burgeoning careers stalled after becoming a Dead Teenager (or the sole survivor, as the case may be).  Quite the contrary.  In fact, not only are these select few able to breakthrough to the mainstream with one key performance (or become a familiar face in various projects), they tend to stay there for years and years.  Here are five such stars who were able to move up the Hollywood ladder after debuting in a horror movie:

Johnny Depp – A Nightmare On Elm Street (1984)

Long before he was Captain Jack Sparrow, J.M. Barrie and Hunter S. Thompson, this longtime, eccentric leading man was a likeable, funny high school student in the first Freddy Krueger thriller.  Originally an aspiring musician, a fateful conversation with Nicolas Cage changed his career trajectory entirely.

Unlike many horror fans, I’m decidedly in the minority when considering the merits of A Nightmare On Elm Street.  Honestly, I’ve never thought much of this movie.  Krueger is too vaudevillian to be scary and the death scenes are more graphic than chilling.  (Don’t get me started on the logic of the plot, either.)  That said, Depp made a good first impression in the film (and had a memorably gory death scene) which led to an appearance two years later in Oliver Stone’s brilliant Platoon.

Three years after being cast as a police officer on 21 Jump Street, he became Edward Scissorhands.  More than a decade later, after delivering more terrific performances in modest grossing titles as varied as Benny & Joon, Ed Wood and Sleepy Hollow, Depp finally hit the big time with his well-regarded Oscar-nominated impression of Keith Richards in the first Pirates Of The Caribbean.  He snagged another nod for playing the creator of Peter Pan in Finding Neverland.

In between making these immensely popular Pirates sequels, he continues to do what he’s always done:  alternating between quirky weirdo roles (Charlie & The Chocolate Factory, Sweeney Todd, Alice In Wonderland, Dark Shadows) and more traditional leading men parts (The Libertine, Public Enemies, The Tourist).  Look for him next year as Tonto in The Lone Ranger.  By the time of its July release, he’ll be 50 years old.  Hard to believe.

Patricia Arquette – A Nightmare On Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987)

Two decades ago, Entertainment Weekly did a sidebar article in its home video section about acting siblings.  The piece involved a series of comparisons between a number of famous actors on the A-list and their struggling brothers and sisters who were at the lower end of the show business totem pole.  Looking back, the only pairing of note were the Arquettes, Rosanna and Patricia. 

At that point, the eldest Arquette sister had appeared in Desperately Seeking Susan and Martin Scorsese’s After Hours (and was just a few years away from doing Pulp Fiction and David Cronenberg’s Crash) while her much younger sibling had yet to make a name for herself through various TV and film appearances, her first being a significant role in Dream Warriors, the third Nightmare On Elm Street.  (She plays Kristin, one of the troubled teen patients in a mental ward constantly tormented by Freddy.)

The sequel was the first in the series to dip in quality (not that any of the chapters are any good) but thankfully, after a series of TV guest spots the younger Arquette would catch a better break when she was cast alongside David Morse (The Green Mile) and Viggo Mortensen (The Lord Of The Rings trilogy, A History Of Violence) in The Indian Runner, Sean Penn’s fine directorial debut about two polar opposite siblings.

From there, she went on to play Christian Slater’s sweet hooker girlfriend in True Romance, Johnny Depp’s second wife in Ed Wood, a widow in Beyond Rangoon and Ben Stiller’s wife in Flirting With Disaster, all worth checking out on DVD.  Like her sister, she would secure a gig in a Martin Scorsese picture.  In Patricia’s case, it was 1999’s Bringing Out The Dead. 

By the middle of the Aughts, after appearing in a number of films including Holes, Arquette started a seven-year run as a psychic crime fighter on Medium.  She won an Emmy for her work in the first season.  The show wrapped up last year.

While Rosanna’s profile dipped significantly after The Whole Nine Yards (lots of credits since then, though), her younger sister is definitely the more famous and accomplished of the two now.  She’s no longer the underachieving nobody from that old EW piece.

Jennifer Aniston – Leprechaun (1993)

18 years ago when I screened this monstrosity on VHS, I had only one thought:  “What is this pretty girl doing in this horrible movie?”  Several months later, she started playing Rachel Green on Friends.

Originally released in January 1993, Leprechaun was a surprise hit thanks to an unusual promotional tie-in with Pizza Hut.  Released by the independent Trimark Pictures, this low-budget craptacular needed all the help it could get.  If only more attention had been paid to the screenplay.  Even Meryl Streep couldn’t save this piece of shit.

A year and a half later, everyone would know Jennifer Aniston’s name as she finally found her ideal role in Rachel, a gig that would last a decade.  In between the seasons of the show, she would make numerous films like the underrated cartoon The Iron Giant (she voiced Hogarth’s mom, Annie) and the critically acclaimed indie, The Good Girl.  Last year she had a well-regarded supporting role in the black comedy, Horrible Bosses. 

The romantic comedy Wanderlust may have come and gone this past February but the ageless Aniston rolls on.  She’s got three more films on the go at the moment.  None of them feature a sadistic little Irishman.

Paula Marshall – Hellraiser III: Hell On Earth (1992)

The beautiful daughter of Rob Reiner and Penny Marshall began her film career by starring in the worst Hellraiser theatrical sequel 20 years ago.  In it, she plays a troubled street kid named Terri stuck in a dead-end relationship with a slimy club owner.  Early on, we learn that she’s the reason he’s gone to an art gallery late at night to buy a strange statue in the film’s opening scene.

It’s no ordinary piece of art.  This contraption contains the souls of the dead and, most importantly, Pinhead.  Long story short, she makes a deal with him and gets transformed into the insatiable Cenobite you see above. 

For such a confusing, at times grotesque mess of a movie, Marshall stands out in a positive way.  She’s often better than the weak material she’s shackled to here.  It’s no wonder she’s been working steadily in both films and TV ever since.  (She actually did a number of series guest spots before landing the movie.) 

Although she’s never had that single defining part in her long career, I’ll always remember her best for playing the nosy, ill-informed NYU reporter who foolishly thinks Jerry and George are a gay couple in one of the most famous episodes in Seinfeld history.  Marshall had the thankless yet crucial job of being the straight woman in a number of key scenes on the show.  She sets up many of the killer punchlines with professional ease.  (The gig came the year after Hellraiser III, interestingly enough.)

After numerous stints on TV (Snoops, Cupid, Spin City, Cursed, Hidden Hills, Out Of Practice, Veronica Mars and Nip/Tuck among many others) and the occasional film project (the Cheaper By The Dozen remake, I Know Who Killed Me), she has one of the most appeallingly familiar faces in the business.  Now someone give her that career-defining role already.

Adam Scott – Hellraiser: Bloodline (1996)

No, that’s not Falco without his powdered wig.  And he’s not about to sing Rock Me Amadeus.  Believe it or not, it’s actually one of the future stars of Parks & Recreation, the acclaimed NBC sitcom that just began its fifth season.  Before he joined the cast in season two to play Ben, this California native had already been going back and forth between film and TV projects for almost two decades.

His film career began inauspiciously (at least, creatively) with a supporting role in the fourth Hellraiser.  Scott plays Jacques, a horny protege of an 18th century French duke who dabbles in black magic.  After seducing a remarkably attractive peasant girl (Valentina Vargas) with no family ties to speak of, Jacques strangles her.  The two non-French-accented villains then remove her insides and all of her skin.  Why, you ask?  Because they want to reanimate her into a controllable demon, silly.  (If it was me, I would’ve stuck with the sex.  Way more fun.  But what do I know?)

Ultimately, the duke gets bumped off because his young apprentice wants Angelique (the former peasant girl turned demon) all to himself.  (Can’t exactly blame him.)  The now-immortal couple don’t age a day as the story (told mostly in flashbacks because it’s actually a sci-fi thriller that begins and ends in the middle of the 22nd Century) progresses to 1996, the year this so-so sequel was released.  When Jacques refuses to let Angelique go to America (for reasons that will take too long to explain), she reminds him that when you stand in Hell’s path, you relinquish your control.  You can pretty much guess what happens to Jacques.

Hellraiser: Bloodline is certainly better than its predecessor but not by much.  With the exception of Pinhead, the most articulate of horror movie villains, and Paula Marshall’s appearance in number three there’s not been much else to care about in this franchise.  These films just aren’t terribly scary or intellectually provocative.  For his part, Scott didn’t embarrass himself in this fourth and final theatrical chapter (the series has relegated itself strictly to the home video market since 2000).  How could he?  He has few decent lines and barely any screen time.  Plus, he’s completely overshadowed by that hammy duke. 

Thankfully, for Scott’s sake, Bloodline was a modest hit which meant more work for him.  He quickly moved on to a small role in the overrated Star Trek: First Contact and kept busy throughout the late 90s with numerous appearances on Party Of Five and Wasteland as well as a number of theatrical and TV-movies you’ve never heard of.

By the start of the new millennium, he landed a couple of guest spots on Six Feet Under, made an appearance on CSI: Miami and secured a supporting role in another lousy film, High Crimes.  By the middle of the Aughts he was getting hired for The Aviator, Monster-In-Law (that dreadful Jane Fonda/Jennifer Lopez debacle), and some indie films.  For the most part, things were starting to get better.  After playing a male nurse in the hit comedy, Knocked Up, Scott got a major role in Step Brothers, another financial success.

Fourteen years after debuting in Hellraiser: Bloodline, he foolishly chose to play a seismologist in the dead-on-arrival comic horror misfire, Piranha.  Yes, it received mostly good reviews and made enough money to spawn a sequel, but let’s get real.  Did we really need this unfunny, suspenseless remake?  Nevertheless, Scott’s profile remains high as he continues to act on Parks.  Plus, he’s shot three movies, including The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty, which should start rolling out within the next year or so.

So, you see, for the lucky few in Hollywood, there is life after horror.

(Photos taken from whyimnotanartist.com, wikia.com, fanpop.com and wearysloth.com.)

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Monday, September 24, 2012
3:19 a.m.

Published in: on September 24, 2012 at 3:19 am  Comments (1)  

What I’ve Been Up To Lately

I know what you’re thinking.  Where the hell have I been these last couple of weeks?  Let me explain.

Back in May, I returned to a personal project I’d been dying to finish for years:  cleaning up the family attic.  Because of so many extremely humid days and its absolutely deplorable condition I had to pace myself.  I quickly learned that it just wasn’t possible to work up there on a daily basis.  Too hot (stinging sweat routinely dripped into my eyes) and too gross (hello endless rat turds!).  So I went up there every so often (when I could stand it) while doing other things.

At some point, I came up with the bright idea of bringing some of this long forgotten junk down to my room which was a bit cooler to operate in.  That way, I wouldn’t feel so rushed cataloguing and trashing in a brutal environment.  (The less time I spent in the attic, the better.)  In the end, most of the rest of the boxes of clutter were thankfully dealt with down here rather than up there.

Unfortunately, the always entertaining Summer Olympics slowed me down and I lost a couple of weeks.  The continually humid weather ate up even more precious time.  But when things calmed down, I more than made up for it.  In fact, I’m happy to report that after four months of on-again, off-again working, the attic clean-up is now complete, well, the first phase, anyway. 

Over 700 items have been catalogued while at least 20 bags of trash have been taken away by the city (and several more placed in sidewalk bins on the street).  Truth be told, I probably could’ve gotten rid of even more stuff but that’s where the second phase comes in.  Since most of this crap belongs to my parents, it’s up to them what they want to do about all of this now that we all know what’s still up there.  God knows I won’t miss any of it.

While I was able to find time to write in the midst of this earlier on in the process, it’s been a bit more difficult lately.  It also hasn’t helped that I screened several terrible horror movies not at all worthy of a print review.  (Whatever you do, don’t waste your time with Hellraiser III: Hell On Earth, Shark Night, The Roommate, Hostel and especially the overrated remake of Piranha.  Every one of them is awful.)

Anyway, now that I’m not so distracted, it will hopefully be a lot easier to put together some new items for this website soon.  In the meantime, let me direct your attention to the right side of my home page.  In case you haven’t noticed, some long overdue changes have been made with regards to links.

Originally, I had a blogroll with about ten different sites listed.  Considering the fact that only a few were actually blogs it was a stupid title to use.  Unintentionally false advertising on my part.  Which is why I’ve renamed the list, Worthwhile Websites.  Much better.  Anyway, a few links have been dropped to make way for some newer entries I hope you will check out. 

I’m a big supporter of Glenn Greenwald who recently moved from Salon to The Guardian, the well-regarded British daily.  He continues to do typically stellar work being one of the few professional American writers more than willing to viscerally criticize both Republicans and Democrats when warranted.  I’ve linked to both his Guardian columns (as well as the paper’s homepage) and his archived Salon blog.  Those who wonder why I’m so critical of President Obama need only sample his work.  It’s a big influence on my political poetry.

I’ve also added another link section called Blogger Pals which features both active and inactive sites run by writers I’ve been friendly online with (and either commented on or submitted entries to) over the years.  Considering how much they’ve supported me both publicly and privately since this website’s beginnings, linking to them is the easiest way to say thanks.  And yes, I do at least check the active ones from time to time.  You should, too.

Finally, I’ve decided to include links to all my CD and film reviews on MonkeyBiz.ca.  I’ve been a volunteer contributor for three years and am very proud of all the work I’ve done for them.  It’s a challenge condensing your opinions to just a few hundred words per review.  Your natural impulse is to be as thorough as possible.  (Or longwinded, for that matter.)  So, when you are able to sum up your feelings much more succinctly than usual it’s a personal triumph.  At any rate, you can find all of these critiques linked under MonkeyBiz Reviews (it’s right under the Blogger Pals section).

So, that’s what I’ve been up to lately.  By the way, I hope to offer new pieces very soon.  In the meantime, feel free to peruse any of my archived writings.  There’s more than 650 to choose from.  Looking for something in particular?  Don’t forget to use my search engine.  And if you don’t want to miss out on any of my latest works you can become a follower.

Remember, you can always drop me a line at the email address at the top of this page or simply leave a comment on any of the entries.  That’s all for now.  I hope to be back with new stuff very soon.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Friday, September 21, 2012
3:17 a.m.

Published in: on September 21, 2012 at 3:18 am  Leave a Comment  

How CM Punk’s Original “Pipe Bomb” Foreshadowed Several Key WWE Storylines

At the end of the 1006th episode of Monday Night Raw, WWE Champion CM Punk helped former enemy Alberto Del Rio defeat John Cena in a Falls Count Anywhere match by coming out of nowhere to kick his Night Of Champions 2012 challenger in the head and then dragging the Mexican Aristocrat’s limp body on top of him for the eventual pin backstage.  After delivering a GTS (using the front of a car instead of his usual knee) on Cena and saying “respect” (a recent Punk obsession), he climbed into that same vehicle that was being driven by Paul Heyman and slowly fled the scene.

It was quite a way to end another three-hour episode of Raw.  But it wasn’t exactly a surprise.  (Besides the predictable Punk interference, online reports noted that Heyman was going to be in the building that night.)  In fact, this sudden association had been mentioned live on-camera in passing more than a year ago.

It was June 27th, 2011.  Punk had just helped R-Truth beat Cena in a Tables match at the end of a special Raw Roulette (where a spin of the wheel determined stipulations).  Wearing a Stone Cold Steve Austin shirt, after the match’s conclusion he grabbed a ringside microphone, made his way up the rampway and sat cross-legged at the top of the stage area. 

He went on to deliver one of the best promos in history.  As they say in the wrestling business, it generated a considerable amount of heat.  Not bad for a 5-minute speech that actually got cut off.  (As he was about to tell a personal story about WWE Chairman Vince McMahon, his microphone volume was completely turned down.)

What made it so extraordinary was how real it all felt, how unusually blunt and pointed the comments were, much more so than usual.  Punk mentioned other promotions he could possibly work for (New Japan Pro Wrestling or his former stomping grounds, Ring Of Honor) once he defeated Cena for the WWE title at the 2011 Money In The Bank event.  (Although he won the belt, he did return to the WWE a week later despite claiming to the media that he wanted a break.)  He mocked big-time wrestlers by name (including one who works for a rival promotion), his boss by name and members of the boss’ family noting only their association to him.

The speech did wonders for the CM Punk character as it began his transition from a two-year stint as a villainous gang leader (The Straight Edge Society, The New Nexus) into a more outspoken, mostly solitary babyface.  But it also foreshadowed several angles and programs involving Punk over the course of the next year.

Near the end of his promo Punk talked about his problems with Vince McMahon who he would later confront in a memorable in-ring contract negotiation segment on another episode of Raw (“CM Punk The Movie!” “Ice cream bars!”):

“Vince McMahon is going to make money despite himself. He’s a millionaire who should be a billionaire. You know why he’s not a billionaire? Because he surrounds himself with glad-handed, non-sensical, douchebag [censored] yes men, like John Laurinaitis, who’s going to tell him everything he wants to hear…”

At Money In The Bank 2011, the then-Executive Vice President of Talent Relations, along with McMahon himself, headed down to ringside near the end of the Punk/Cena WWE Title match.  In the umpteenth homage to The Montreal Screwjob at the 1997 Survivor Series, McMahon tried to get the referee to call for the bell while Cena had Punk in the STF.  As Laurinaitis was getting closer to the timekeeper’s area to do the job himself, Cena broke the hold, slid out of the ring and knocked him down with a right hand.  He warned McMahon not to interfere or end the match unfairly.  After getting back into the ring, Punk finished him off with another GTS giving him his first WWE Championship.  The new champion blew a kiss to McMahon and high-tailed it out of there.

Not too long after returning, Punk would continue to verbally hammer Laurinaitis for months especially when he became the interim general manager of Raw, a role that became permanent at WrestleMania 28 (until he got fired at No Way Out three months later).  During the Slammys in December, Punk introduced a very funny clip package of the former Johnny Ace during his wrestling days set to a song used in the animated Transformers movie (sample lyrics:  “You’ve got the power!  You’ve got the touch!”). 

Although a match between the two was teased as a possible booking on Raw, Punk would have to settle for just giving Johnny Ace a kick to the head during one in-ring segment and a GTS in another.  (Cena would actually fight the Bob Einstein soundalike at Over The Limit 2012 this past May.)  Laurinaitis would drive Punk nuts during his brief program with challenger Dolph Ziggler which led to his presence at their Royal Rumble 2012 title match as an “outside enforcer”.  Throughout, however, the Second City Saint would manage to keep his belt.

Back to the promo.  After criticizing Laurinaitis, Punk said this:

“…and I’d like to think that maybe this company will better after Vince McMahon is dead. But the fact is, it’s going to be taken over by his idiotic daughter and his doofus son-in-law and the rest of his stupid family.”

The “idiotic daughter” is, of course, Stephanie McMahon and the “doofus son-in-law” is her husband, Triple H.  After Money In The Bank, the COO personally fired his father-in-law the next night on Raw (as ordered by the mysterious WWE board of directors) and announced that he would become the show’s new general manager.  As Punk and Cena verbally toussled each other to hype their two WWE Title matches at MITB and SummerSlam in the summer of 2011, H became part of the angle.

He was there during the brilliant SummerSlam contract signing where Punk pointed out recent firings of guys like Chris Masters and David Hart Smith (one-half of The Hart Dynasty who the champion referred to as Harry, his real first name), something that’s never done during a wrestling broadcast.  In fact, H became the Special Guest Referee for that particular bout.

The real-life Phil Brooks would routinely brutalize the real-life Paul Levesque (and vice versa) during contentious in-ring talking segments, especially after he lost the WWE title to Alberto Del Rio (the Raw Money In The Bank winner sneakily cashing in his title shot) despite successfully beating Cena again (even though his foot was clearly on the rope during the final three-count which was missed by H) after a surprise appearance from Kevin Nash (who helped make the undisputed champion completely vulnerable) at SummerSlam. 

The logical next step was a match between the former Diesel and Punk (who had their own verbal war brewing) which was temporarily booked for Night Of Champions 2011.  But because Nash had a serious real-life health issue (kept completely under wraps until a recent interview revelation), Punk faced H instead.  Because of his personal issues with the COO’s job performance (and blaming him for Nash’s post-match interference that cost him his championship), H’s boardroom gig was put on the line.  In other words, if the Straight Edge Superstar won, there would be a new COO in WWE.  (H got the duke and kept his job.)

Absurdly, thanks to new issues with Awesome Truth who they tangled with unofficially at Night Of Champions and Hell In A Cell plus the growing tension with Lauranitis, H and Punk suddenly became tag team partners against them at Vengeance in an uneven match that sadly ended one of the more compelling feuds in recent memory.  H would soon be fired from Raw (after a temporary walk-out by most of the talent, all of the refs and even some of the crew but not Punk, curiously) and replaced by Laurinaitis who would continue to be a thorn in Punk’s side especially after he regained the WWE Title from Alberto Del Rio at the 25th annual Survivor Series in November 2011.

Which brings us back to Paul Heyman.  Early on in the promo, Punk said this:

“I am the best wrestler in the world.

I’ve been the best since day one when I walked into this company. And I’ve been vilified and hated since that day because Paul Heyman saw something in me that nobody else wanted to admit. That’s right, I’m a Paul Heyman guy.”

Punk was referring to the temporarily revived ECW.  Originally a Philadelphia-based promotion (that once had ties to the NWA) known for incorporating a lot more weaponry in its rule-free matches (tables, kendo sticks, street signs, to name three examples), Extreme Championship Wrestling was briefly resurrected as another weekly WWE show alongside Raw and Smackdown.  (It was discontinued in early 2010.)  Three years after Vince McMahon bought the struggling, influential, highly controversial territory in 2003, Punk joined the new ECW roster.  Heyman became one of his few backstage champions.  (Shawn Michaels was another prominent supporter.)

Punk’s reference to himself as the “best wrestler in the world” would later be simplified to just “best in the world”, a line future rival (and real-life friend) Daniel Bryan used years earlier for himself in Ring Of Honor.  It would later become a slogan on a new T-shirt and a catchphrase to shout out before matches and during in-ring talking segments.  Curiously, it would also become the initial source of tension between Punk and a returning Chris Jericho who often referred to himself as “the best in the world at everything I do”.  In fact, it was Jericho himself, having watched this famous segment, who pitched the idea of a feud with Punk directly to Vince McMahon himself which wouldn’t happen until early 2012.

Immediately afterward, Punk made this remark:

“You know who else was a Paul Heyman guy? Brock Lesnar. And he split just like I’m splitting.”

Whether it was intentionally prescient or not, like Punk, both Heyman and Lesnar would ultimately return to WWE in the aftermath of WrestleMania 28.  The former UFC Champion would attack John Cena the day after he lost cleanly to The Rock on Raw setting up their Extreme Rules 2012 match.  And Heyman would be recruited as Lesnar’s mouthpiece during his feud with Triple H which is expected to continue later this fall following their recent SummerSlam encounter.

Almost a year later in late May on Twitter, Punk publicly messaged Heyman with this cryptic message: 

“It’s going to be one wild F’n year!”

To which Heyman replied:

“They [meaning the fans] have NO idea!”

Now, that Punk is back to being a villain again (repeatedly beating up babyface announcer/wrestler Jerry Lawler, refusing to wrestle in his hometown where Raw 1006 aired, aligning himself with the hated Heyman, insecurely demanding respect from everybody especially Cena who he feels overshadowed by), it’s only a matter of time before he loses his WWE Championship.  (Good guys tend to have longer title runs than heels for the most part.)

Regardless of when that happens, this much is certain.  A good number of high profile storylines that Punk has been a part of since last summer can easily be traced back to that remarkably sharp promo he cut on Raw in late June 2011 that began his surprise ascension to the top of the WWE.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Wednesday, September 5, 2012
1:54 a.m.

Published in: on September 5, 2012 at 1:54 am  Comments (5)  

Why I’m A Critic Of President Obama

Two weeks ago in this space, I posted 90 Reasons Not To Re-Elect President Obama.  It was inspired by a re-tweet I saw on Sophia Bush’s official Twitter account.  In order to cling to all that unchecked executive power so he can kill even more innocent Muslims, hold many more against their will for years and years without trials, ruthlessly prosecute whistleblowers who expose his criminal actions while protecting those in power who’ve tortured and killed civilians among numerous other crimes, and continue to violate The Constitution at will, The American President has enlisted the help of conscience-free writers, musicians, actors and even comedians to each write an essay espousing one good reason why he should get another four years in The White House.  It’s called 90 Days, 90 Reasons To Re-Elect President Obama.  Rather than post them all at once (like I did for my own rebuttal post), each reason will be unveiled one at a time every day until the list is complete.  (Closing in on its first month, the campaign is up to 26 as of this writing.)

After my own counter list was published, a follower of this site wrote a rather critical comment.  I was accused of being unfair, one-sided, closed minded and urged to “tell the entire truth and not just the truth as you choose to see it”.  Insisting she was “not pro Obama with blinders on”, she noted, “I so wish I had the time to sit her [sic] and debate the areas you are so wrong in because I feel you need clarification on many.”.  One wonders why she didn’t just do that in her comment as another reader pointed out in his response to her.

One also wonders how common her sentiment is regarding the Obama presidency.  If it’s wide spread, we’re in a lot of trouble.  The bubble of denial his supporters willingly live inside is shocking considering how many of them rightly opposed President George W. Bush’s own criminal, authoritarian foreign policy.  (I opposed it as well.)  Consider the outrage over Iraq, Guantanamo, the warrantless surveillance scandal, Abu Ghraib and countless other atrocities.  Whether they admit it or not, President Obama has gone much further than the last Republican President, as noted in my original piece.  The American federal government is now killing its own citizens without any significant domestic legal consequences and thanks to a complacent media and indifferent public, there is no mass movement of outrage within the country to protest it or even stop it.  How horrifying and depressing.

Back to that commenter for a second.  I wonder why she didn’t respond to earlier critical pieces I wrote about Obama (and the American political system in general).  Pieces like Corporate Stooge, The 1% President, The Death Of Liberalism, The Death Of American Justice, Drones, No Democracy In America, Vultures, Video Game Warriors, Occupation, Pity The Poor Murderer, Quicksand Of Indecency, Murderer-In-Chief, You’re Not As Smart As You Think You Are, What If They Were White?, What Happened To America? and Questions For President Obama, all of which apprently escaped her attention.  90 Reasons Not To Re-Elect President Obama was the culmination of all of those earlier entries.  It didn’t just materialize out of thin air. 

While one can despair for famous people like Sophia Bush and Roger Ebert (as well as that commenter) completely ignoring the ongoing criminal acts of this administration in order to endorse a murderer for President (only because he has far less heinous social views and policies than Republican nominee Mitt Romney), there is hope in the form of John Cusack.

Originally posted a couple of weeks ago on this blog, the actor’s interview with constitutional law professor Jonathan Turley (which follows Cusack’s critical essay in the same posting) has since been re-posted here.  (I spotted it originally through The Huffington Post.)  It is a must-read, especially for those stubborn folks who continue to live in the dark about what’s really going on in American politics today.  I’m looking at you, Democrats.

There’s really no need to re-hash what’s specifically talked about in that piece.  It speaks for itself and should be read in its entirety.  But a couple of things do need to be said.  One, how refreshing it is to have a longtime Hollywood actor not tow the Democratic line here but instead embody the best qualities of a conscientious objector not beholden to any tribal loyalties or self-interests.  You wish more stars of Cusack’s calibre would speak up like this.  (I’m looking at you, George Clooney.  You, too, Ms. Bush.) 

And two, much of what Turley and Cusack talk about in their discussion will feel very familiar to anyone who’s read even just one of my above-mentioned pieces or followed the work of Eric Margolis and Glenn Greenwald.  All of us are covering the same ground here. 

So, if my commenter/critic isn’t happy with my views on The President, I can only imagine how mad she would be if she checked out the commentaries of these other longtime professionals.  They’re just as critical, if not more so. 

So, if I’m one-sided and unfair to your hero, it’s because I don’t approve of governments killing innocent people.  If I’m “closed minded”, it’s because illegally detaining innocent people indefinitely without proper trials matter more to me than a watered-down health care bill and a vocal approval (but no proposed national bill) for same-sex unions.  If I’m “so far right” in my thinking (meaning overly conservative), why have I been equally critical of both Republican and Democratic Presidents regarding their super-aggressive foreign policies?  And if I “speak one-sided half truth[s]”, it’s because the negative far outweighs the positive.

Make no mistake about it.  The Republicans under Mitt Romney will not reverse this murderous tide.  They will intensify it.  And yes, their social views are equally as repugnant as their chicken hawk foreign policy.  (I’ll never understand why old white guys care so much about abortion.)  But why reward a Democratic President for being slightly less bad than them?  Is that the standard we’re going for now?  He orders the executions of Muslims without any shred of evidential wrongdoing but he loves the gays!  America continues to torture in secret locations but the Affordable Care Act got passed!

You know what’s truly inspiring about unabashed Obama supporters?  They’re not burdened with a conscience.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Sunday, September 2, 2012
8:48 p.m.

Published in: on September 2, 2012 at 8:48 pm  Comments (8)  

Most Personally Anticipated Fall 2012 CD Releases

The last third of the year is often the best time to look forward to new music.  2012 is no exception.  While pretty much everybody else is fully onboard the download revolution, Mr. Old School over here is stubbornly clinging to his CDs.  Here are the ones I’m most eager to check out in the next few months:

The 2nd Law by Muse

After seeing this longtime British act perform their brilliant Uprising on the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards telecast, it was only a matter of time before I poured through their back catalogue.  Having since thoroughly enjoyed all five of their previous albums (I own three at the moment), I’m ready for number six.

Entitled The 2nd Law, it’s their first proper release since The Resistance three years ago.  Much has changed since then.  Lead singer Matthew Bellamy knocked up his girlfriend Kate Hudson.  (Their son just turned one this past July.)  They’ve been engaged for more than a year and live together.  The band opened for both U2 on their last tour and Rage Against The Machine on their only live date in 2011 since reuniting.  They played numerous festivals around the world, won a Grammy (among numerous other gongs), contributed a new song to the third Twilight movie, Eclipse, and played the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. 

Speaking of that event, the first single from The 2nd Law, Survival, was selected as the official theme song.  The track is one of thirteen included on the album, which is reportedly a departure from past efforts, slated for release on October 2nd.  (More details about the deluxe editions can be read here.)

Battle Born by The Killers

It’s been four years since this Las Vegas foursome offered Day & Age, their fine third album.  After enjoying an 18-month hiatus and each member taking a turn at solo work (singer Brandon Flowers’ Flamingo CD was the most successful one; I really liked the standard 10-song edition and would love to own the 14-track version), the band returns with Battle Born.  (Check out the dazzling album cover here.) 

Featuring a who’s-who of big-name producers (including Brendan O’Brien, Daniel Lanois and Steve Lillywhite) on the credit list, it’ll be interesting to see what the final result sounds like.  According to Rolling Stone, the album was so difficult to make it took a year’s worth of weekday 12-hour sessions to complete it.  What I’ve heard of the first single, Runaways, doesn’t sound too different stylistically from anything in their repertoire which isn’t a bad thing at all.  Sadly, the record won’t feature saxophonist Tommy Marth who shot himself to death earlier this year.  He was only 33.

Battle Born will be available in three different editions.  The standard version, which has 12 songs; the deluxe edition, which adds three more (one of which, it should be noted, is a remix of one of the album cuts) and a “Universal Music exclusive limited edition” which tacks on an additional remix and an alternate version of another album track.  Look for all of them on September 18th.

Dead Silence by Billy Talent

Named after a character in the novel Hard Core Logo, I have to admit I’m disappointed this punky Toronto quartet discontinued its numerical tribute to Chicago and Led Zeppelin.  In other words, no Billy Talent IV.  Bummer.

Nevertheless, if the first single, Viking Death March, is any indication, Dead Silence (ok, it’s a good title) sounds like business as usual.  In other words, we can probably expect more tight yet tunefully abrasive arrangements for album number four.  (Hopefully. ) That’s fine by me.  This approach worked wonders for their first three albums which I own.  Look for it September 11th.

Now For Plan A by The Tragically Hip

I’ll admit it.  I long resisted them (singer Gord Downie’s voice used to drive me crazy and their bluesy material often left me cold), with the exception of a handful of songs.  But after going through their entire catalogue in 2009 (and realizing how wrong I was to dismiss them; Downie’s got the chops and the music has grown on me considerably), I gave in completely.  I now own all their studio work from their 1987 self-titled EP to 2009’s We Are The Same.  I feel a lot more Canadian, as a result.

Downie and company are back with their first new release in three years.  (You can tell they’re starting to slow down.  In the past, new titles would surface every year or two.  That’s not been the case since 2006.)  At Transformation, the first single, has flooded radio for months.  (A sample of it actually debuted on an episode of Hockey Night In Canada during the recent Stanley Cup Playoffs back in May.)

Now For Plan A is out October 2nd.

Uno! and Dos! by Green Day

In an era where the single has once again become more prominent than the album, how crazy is it to put together not one, not two but three full-length CDs simultaneously?  That’s what this Berkeley, California trio has done as they prepare to unveil a trilogy of audio delights (here’s hoping) over the course of the next five months. 

Instead of dark songs about teenagers too apathetic to wank or even just feel good about their lives, and concept records centred around political themes, Green Day’s next three albums are reportedly more sexual in nature, two of which will arrive before the end of the year. 

First up, appropriately, is Uno!  Featuring frontman Billie Joe Armstrong on the cover, this twelve-track release includes the recent radio hit, Oh Love!  It’s out September 25th.  The follow-up, Dos!, which features bassist Mike Dirnt on the cover, is out November 13th.  (Tre! (yes, drummer Tre Cool is on the cover) will be out January 2013.)

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Saturday, September 1, 2012
11:32 p.m.

UPDATE:  The release date for Tre! has been moved up to December 11 of this year, thanks to the still unexplained situation involving troubled singer Billie Joe Armstrong who is reportedly in rehab trying to kick some undisclosed addiction.  (He had a well-documented freakout during a gig not that long ago which is said to have been the catalyst for his recent check-in.)  With the band not touring without their frontman, it makes sense to release the third and final album in their planned trilogy ahead of schedule, two weeks before Christmas.  Here’s hoping Armstrong gets the help he needs for whatever is troubling him.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Wednesday, November 7, 2012
2:43 a.m.

Published in: on September 1, 2012 at 11:32 pm  Comments (1)