Remembering 2012, My Seventh Year Of Blogging (Part Two)

Let’s turn to politics.  Heroism Is A Teenage Girl (the title is a reference to the opening line of the movie Jennifer’s Body) praises the courage and decency of Pakistani education activist Malala Yousafzai who amazingly survived an assassination attempt on her 15-year-old life.  The Beluga Whale Of American Broadcasting, written spontaneously in a terribly fatigued state (I hadn’t slept very well the night before its completion), hammers a certain bloated radio host over his moronic slander of Sandra Fluke.  Ditto the song parody, That’s A Moron.

The endless build-up to the 2012 American Presidential election inspired numerous entries, most notably 90 Reasons Not To Re-Elect President Obama and Why I’m A Critic Of President Obama.  The former was harshly criticized by a commenter which led to the latter.  Unfortunately, despite these pieces, President Obama’s Rejected 2012 Campaign Playlist and the many, many critical poems I wrote this year, The President will remain in power for another four years.  The day of the election I revealed my own personal preference and the day after, my disgust with his victory.  As I’ve noted before, unless American Liberals get off their asses and significantly push their President to follow their agenda (which most of the country supports) and be accountable for ongoing criminal misdeeds, nothing will change.  (I’m talking to you, Sophia Bush.  More on her in a moment.)

Speaking of poetry, not every poem dealt with the awful American political scene.  Drowning In Junk imagined the life of a hoarder, Smooth Transition conveys the point of view of a has-been rocker desperate for another shot at fame (the title was something my Grade 10 math teacher used to say all the time when moving on to a different class lesson), Shower Of Hatred was about a once recurring dark fantasy inspired by a Facebook bully who kept tormenting me in the singles room of the Scramble game app four years ago, Married To Fear is a fictional tale about an accomplished woman suffering in silence, Mass Seduction depicts the decline of an unnamed (and mostly not real) screen siren, Symphony Of Violence arose out of the sadly real Newtown massacre, The Curse Of Memory (an old title that finally found a purpose like Married To Fear) was a follow-up poem to last year’s Peace In Your Time as well as a response to this, and Despicable Cheat captures the essence of the real-life break-up between Bush and ex-husband Chad Michael Murray without once mentioning their names.

This is quite embarrassing but because of my dual affection for One Tree Hill (which MuchMusic mysteriously stopped airing last year while in the middle of season eight; what the fuck, guys?) and professional wrestling, I’ve been having an unusual series of daydreams in the last couple of years.  (Stick with me here.)  For a while now, I’ve wondered what it would’ve been like to have gotten into a feud with Murray over his dumb affair with his House Of Wax co-star Paris Hilton in the middle of the last decade which effectively killed his marriage.  I imagined cutting brutal promos on him during wrap parties that really put him in his place, glaring at him intensely whenever we encountered each other face to face and even attacking him physically.  That last bit is particularly ridiculous because 1. I’m pretty sure he could kick my ass and 2. despite his bad personal decision, I really don’t have anything against the guy.  (He was an integral part of One Tree Hill’s early success even though his David Caruso mannerisms sometimes irk me.)  He’s moved on to another longterm relationship so I hope he has learned his lesson about straying.  As long as I live, though, I’ll never understand why he ever cheated on his beautiful wife in the first place.

Then, I thought about what it would be like to feud with Bush who often drove me crazy in real-life this year with her annoying hero worship of President Obama (and her equally daft Twitter denial about Lance Armstrong’s drug cheating).  An actual line I imagined saying to her from one of these particular daydreams, You’re Not As Smart As You Think You Are, led to the poem of the same name.  Each verse took on four of her recurring Twitter hashtags (“Love is louder”, “Leading with love” “Smart is sexy”, “Tolerance is sexy”, ) one at a time and mocked them mercilessly.  (The Twitter premise actually came long before the daydream and the title.)

The imaginary feud with Murray took me to the Internet Movie Database (I was checking out his filmography since I didn’t know what happened to him) where I learned that Bush and her most recent boyfriend Austin Nichols had split.  (He played her filmmaker husband Julian on OTH.)  The result was Sophia Bush, I’m Here For You, an old idea that was in my head for months.  (The intro originated from a recurring daydream where I imagined paying tribute to her at the final OTH wrap party.)  Despite her chronic naivete about Obama, I’m still a fan of her TV work (she was always good as the humourously temperamental fashion designer Brooke Davis and as the bisexual teenage cheerleader Ridley on the first season of Nip/Tuck) and her non-Democratic activism. Plus, despite everything, she is a strong candidate for the title, The Most Beautiful Woman In The World.  I just wish she’d open her eyes to what’s really going on politically and stop being so goddamned naive.  Democrats kill innocent people, too, you know.

This year, I was also here for Mena Suvari (who was so sexy in American Beauty) and Katie Holmes (who finally moved on from Tom Cruise), but had to give up the dream of seducing Natalie Portman.

Sophia Bush wasn’t the only celebrity I was critical of in 2012.  I also took literary aim at Daniel Tosh, Bill Maher, Rhianna, Two And A Half Men star Angus T. Jones and even world class cheater Lance Armstrong.  Like President Obama, Jones and Armstrong got their own respective playlists.  (Regarding the latter, I imagined a conversation between the disgraced cyclist and the authorities strictly through song titles, hence the back and forth between guilt and innocence.)

Although I’ve long been a supporter of Howard Stern (despite his many imperfections), I remain perplexed with his fascination with America’s Got Talent.  Last year, the radio superstar announced on his last live broadcast of 2011 that he was going to be a judge on the NBC summer program in 2012.  At the time, I was surprised by this move and had immediate, mixed feelings about it.  When the new season debuted this past May, I stuck with AGT for the first two months but only caught bits and pieces of the live shows thereafter.  Stern was a good albeit flawed judge (but not America’s Judge as he half-jokingly referred to himself way too often) but this idea that he would find the next big thing in show business was ludicrous.  Yes, Tom Cotter is a funny stand-up (Stern wanted him to win) but a dog act ended up taking the million dollars and the gig in Vegas.  (I’m amazed a singer didn’t win like I wrongly predicted.)  Quick.  What was their name?

At any event, I wrote two critical pieces about AGT (Why It’s Easy To Be Cynical About America’s Got Talent and The Cruelty Of America’s Got Talent) based on those early taped episodes.  After a long deliberation Stern finally announced recently that he’ll back to judge next season.  Unfortunately for the New York broadcaster, Sharon Osbourne is out and Howie Mandel’s future with the show is not yet clear.  (My bet is he’ll be back, though.)  Either way, I’m not alone in saying that I don’t care.  AGT’s ratings were down this year (it didn’t help that it aired against actual competition for the first time in its seven-year history and its air dates and times were not consistent every week) but more importantly, this isn’t the ideal way to break new talent.  Many years of hard work out of the spotlight is still the best, proven method.

Chris Jericho knows all about that firsthand, as far as the world of pro wrestling is concerned.  Not so much with music, however.  Back in 2003, his band, Fozzy, took part in the final Battle Of The Bands against The Losers on Stern’s old terrestrial radio show.  Unfortunately, Y2J and company didn’t do so well.  But you would never know it from his 2010 DVD, Breaking The Code: Behind The Walls Of Chris Jericho.  During a segment of his documentary, the former undisputed WWE Champion claims with a straight face that Fozzy “blew” The Losers “out of the water”.  When this particular segment was re-aired on Sirius XM during a Stern Show vacation this past July, there was finally a timely opportunity to write about this.  The result:  Chris Jericho’s Pathetic Lie About His Appearance On The Howard Stern Show.

Jericho’s in-ring rival in the first half of the year was the current WWE Champion CM Punk who was the central subject of two other blog entries, How CM Punk’s Original “Pipe Bomb” Foreshadowed Several Key WWE Storylines (which has been accessed roughly 260 times) and CM Punk’s Steve Austin Problem.  Back in February, the real-life Phil Brooks got into a brief Twitter war with Chris Brown over his assault on Rhianna three years ago.  Curiously, the Straight Edge Superstar hasn’t been nearly as outspoken about The Texas Rattlesnake’s history of domestic violence, hence that latter, more critical piece.  Other 2012 pro wrestling items included The Problems With Aftermath’s Greatest Entrance Theme Tournament and my seven part series on Influential WrestleMania Moments.

In life, there is always mystery, particularly when it involves unusual circumstances of death.  Recycling a technique I’ve used before, I posed a lot of unanswered questions about the killing of Trayvon Martin (132 hits) and the suicide of Jacintha Saldanha (just 16, unfortunately).  Over time, newly reported information has shed some light on both of these tragic stories but we likely won’t get complete details until 2013.  The sooner both cases are solved, though, the better for the grieving families and friends of Martin and Saldanha, both of whom should not have died.

Like any WordPress blog, The Writings Of Dennis Earl has official followers.  At the end of 2011, I had 10.  As of this writing, that number has jumped to 42.  My heartfelt thanks to all these devoted readers which includes fellow bloggers like Darlene Steelman, Logan Krum, Vigil Kumar and Jen C. Hay.  To become a follower of this site, just click on “Follow” right in the bottom right hand corner of your screen.  When a new piece is posted here, you’ll get an automated email letting you know.  It’s just that easy.

I met Darlene and numerous other writers over the last couple of years through Writer’s Digest Community, the social networking site put together by Writer’s Digest Magazine.  Unfortunately, on November 8th, users were notified that WDC was shutting down at the end of the month.  Rather than wait til the end, I quit the service that same day.  Oddly, WDC didn’t disappear on November 30th as promised.  It actually vanished in mid-December.  Nevertheless, despite meeting some very supportive, talented writers, my 19-month stint on WDC was kind of a bust.  My website didn’t get that much of a boost in hits despite my being very active with link posting (less than 300 blog hits altogether) and I didn’t meet a single person from my own city.  That being said, I had a mostly positive experience on there.

You know, it’s always fun to check out reader comments regarding the contents of this blog.  I’m pretty lucky that most of the feedback I receive is generously positive, specifically for my poetry.  Other sites, I’m sure, have to deal with a lot of negativity.  As this blog continues to grow its presence online, I hope visitors at least get something out of my work here.  Although I only received 47 comments overall in 2012, I appreciated every one, including the critical ones.

It’s also cool to have your stuff mentioned on other blogs.  CM Punk’s Steve Austin Problem was picked up by this fan site, 90 Reasons Not To Re-Elect President Obama was noted by The Busy Post, a conservative blog and President Obama’s Rejected 2012 Campaign Playlist was kindly praised by Music That Matters.  Being favourably compared to The Onion is one of the best compliments I’ve ever received.

For the second consecutive time, my annual year-end blog review piece was just too long to be contained in one massive entry.  So, instead, it’s been chopped up into two more digestible segments (last year it was three).  As my seventh year of blogging reaches its end, The Writings Of Dennis Earl is in a slightly stronger place than it was 12 months ago.  Hits are up by a few thousand and there are four times as many official WordPress followers, thanks to the 103 new postings presented in 2012 not to mention the surprising endurance of certain 2011 pieces and even material from the Windows Live era.

For all of us, change is always just around the corner.  In the case of this website, let’s hope it’s strictly positive. 

Happy New Year, everybody.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Sunday, December 30, 2012
8:01 p.m.

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Published in: on December 30, 2012 at 8:01 pm  Comments (1)  

Remembering 2012, My Seventh Year Of Blogging (Part One)

In these turbulent times, these days of constant uncertainty, you can only count on one thing to always happen:  change.  Whether it’s good or bad, necessary or needless, destructive or cathartic, it’s as loyal as a loved one, always in your life in some measurable way and never ever going away.  In this life, change is the only true survivor, the only consistency you can rely on.

In 2012, all of us experienced it to some degree, some more up-close and profound than others, but in the midst of it, for those who remain, now comes the aftermath of these twists and turns, the “what’s next?” phase.  Whether we expected to be in this situation or not ultimately doesn’t matter.  We are still here.  And now it’s time to make the best of it.

But before moving on to 2013, it’s time to put the current year in the graveyard of history where it belongs. 

Since The Writings Of Dennis Earl began almost seven years ago, numerous traditions were established, none more important for me than this one, remembering the year in blogging.  I’ve learned that writing these annual pieces allow you to see without question where you stand in the online world and the world in general after a 12-month period.  It allows you to honestly examine what you did right and what could’ve been better.  And this year, I’m happy to say, has been the best one yet.

Let’s start with page views.  Although homepage hits are considerably lower than 2011 (2500 compared to 4000 last year) and the daily record (999 on October 18, 2011) remains intact this is the most accessible year in this website’s history.  Last year, The Writings Of Dennis Earl was seen a little more than 23300 times.  This year, the total is more than 26500.  Still not spectacular but encouraging nonetheless.  This means that in the two years I’ve been on WordPress the grand total of hits has now passed 51000.  It took more than twice that amount of time to come relatively close to that number on Windows Live Spaces.

With a few exceptions, individual monthly hit counts were considerably higher than 2011’s totals.  (Ditto daily hits.)  On average, this site generated a bit more than 2200 hits a month compared to 2011’s average of roughly 1950 hits.  Unlike last year, July was the most popular month with a little more than 3900 hits.  (There were 6650 hits in October 2011 which is still the best monthly total of all time.)  All in all, progress is modest but any kind of growth is a positive.  That being said, there is still much work to be done to expand the reach of this website.  Maybe it’s time to make a sex tape.  Stop laughing.

Like 2011, the biggest piece of the year was What’s Really Going On With Shannon Tweed & Gene Simmons?.  During its first six months online (mid-June to late December last year), it generated exactly 10003 hits.  Since then it’s been seen an additional 6300 times.  Not that far behind is 29 Things I Love About Storage Wars.  When it was first posted on November 17, 2011, it achieved 6 hits.  By the end of the year, it had been accessed an additional 300 times.  In 2012, it’s been seen more than 4600 times, thanks to the show’s third season.  It’s clearly on track to pass the 5000 mark very soon.  Such a shame about that Dave Hester lawsuit, though.  We will soon find out just how real this show actually is, unless a settlement is reached before a possible jury trial.

Two other 2011 Gene Simmons Family Jewels pieces continued to be popular in 2012.  Gene Simmons & Shannon Tweed Need To Get Real With Their Audience earned an additional 1700 hits on top of the 1800 it generated last year while Unanswered Questions About Gene Simmons Family Jewels added more than 630 to last year’s total of 500. 

Why Shannon Tweed’s Desire To Adopt Is Foolhardy, the most recent Jewels piece, has been accessed more than 1200 times, easily making it the most popular new entry I wrote this year.  Now that the show has been cancelled, though, I don’t foresee any more hit spikes for any of these particular pieces beyond the little dribs and drabs they still continue to generate.  If only everything I posted received as much attention as these A&E “reality” shows.

Much of this really isn’t news to readers who’ve checked out The Top 5 Entries In The WordPress Era which I wrote in honour of this website’s second anniversary at my new location in October.  But what might surprise you (it certainly caught me off-guard) is how one particularly old Windows Live Spaces entry suddenly caught fire in 2012.

Back in 2008, I started going through the Seinfeld box sets (which were loaned to me by my good pal Rob) and decided to write trivia articles about each one.  Unfortunately I went through a terrible situational depression that spring and summer so I didn’t write anything beyond the fourth season.  I may have to go back and finish the run because More Interesting Things I Learned While Watching The Third Season Of Seinfeld On DVD is now the fifth most popular piece in my website’s history, overtaking Unanswered Questions About Gene Simmons Family Jewels not that long ago.  Despite only generating about 150 hits in the first 15 months of the WordPress Era, it has since been accessed more than 1000 times in 2012, the sixth entry to achieve that hit total.  I wouldn’t be surprised if it passes Why Shannon Tweed’s Desire To Adopt Is Foolhardy on the all-time list very soon.  Less than 20 hits separate the two entries.

Trailing a bit behind that Third Season of Seinfeld trivia piece is Availability Of 2012 Oscar-Nominated Films On DVD which gained a little more than 800 hits this year.  By comparison, a similiar piece about the 2011 nominees has only been accessed 430 times.  Expect a 2013 edition this coming January.  Maybe this one will be the first to hit the thousand mark.

Of all the new blog offerings this year, none got as much reader feedback as The Very Foolish Sarah Tressler.  Back in late March, the Houston Press website did a story on her secret life as an on-again/off-again stripper.  This was news to her employer, the Houston Chronicle, who had hired her as a society reporter.  (She never told them about her other gig.)  Shortly after the story surfaced, they fired her.  (I first learned about all of this through The Huffington Post.)  Not long after her sudden dismissal, Tressler’s setback became international news.

In my view, she should never have been fired in the first place.  (Is it against the law to be a stripper and a reporter at the same time?)  Quite simply, the Chronicle overreacted to all of this and unintentionally gave Tressler instant fame when the story went beyond the state of Texas.  At the same time, Tressler’s public complaining about being exposed by the Houston Press was just so silly.  As noted in my piece, she barely bothered to conceal her identity online with regards to her stripping.

The day after my piece was posted, Tressler left two comments.  One was helpful, the other a little cranky (but, to be fair, she ended each one politely).  After I wrote an update covering comments she had made about her predicament on her own Diary Of An Angry Stripper blog, she left a third one that was quite defensive.  While a couple more blogging strippers left more thoughtful comments defending her and, in one case, their profession, most of the other commenters were more sympathetic to my point of view.  In the end, The Very Foolish Sarah Tressler generated 20 comments (including a few of my own), two less than What’s Really Going On With Shannon Tweed & Gene Simmons? (which is the most commented on piece in this website’s history thus far).

Tressler would quickly bounce back with a new job reporting for Good Morning America but that turned out to be a one-time deal. Aligning herself with high-powered attorney Gloria Allred, she filed a lawsuit against the Houston Chronicle which is still pending. She also published a book of her blog entries in the summer.  Since then, she’s fallen out of the spotlight.  Her Angry Stripper blog is back to being private again, her Angry Stripper Twitter account has been deleted (she still has her “sarahtress” one), she still teaches at the University Of Houston and she’s a freelancer, most recently for Houston Magazine.

The Summer Olympics in Britain inspired a three-part series of “Unofficial Awards”, an idea previously used for the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics.  While parts one and three received modest attention (a combined 44 hits), part two has thus far generated more than 250 hits.  (By comparison, the Vancouver piece has been seen 120 times.)  I know a lot of these totals are not terribly huge but for me they’re better than normal and a hopeful sign for the future.  (In fact, several more older entries saw similiarly modest page view increases in their own right.)  These particular pieces were so thorough I decided not to recap any of them in my Winners & Losers Of 2012 series.

Speaking of sports, 2012 Euro Doppelgangers was inspired by a semi-regular segment former Score broadcaster Renee Paquette used to do as the host of Aftermath.  Viewers would send in pics of famous people who they thought looked like WWE superstars, Paquette & her two panellists would show the results and then either agree or disagree with the match-ups.  As I was watching the Euro soccer championships this year I noticed that several players looked quite a lot like certain celebrities which led to this experimental piece.  (I rarely include photos on here.)  Doppelgangers remains the only blog entry I’ve ever posted that is completely visual.  It’s generated slightly more than a hundred hits thus far.

Later on, I included photos in 5 Famous Actors Who Survived Their Horror Movie Debuts.  Rather than write proper reviews of the third and fourth Hellraiser movies, which I had just screened around that time (and don’t recommend), I went with this approach instead.  It’s been seen more than 85 times.  As I slowly continue to get caught up with the movies (and I do mean slowly), I might revisit this topic in the future.

Of the 30 films I watched this year, sadly only three were any good.  (In 2011, I went 13 for 29.)  As it turned out, I ended up writing just one positive review for Ridley Scott’s surprisingly effective Prometheus.  (There’s something very wrong if Michael Fassbender doesn’t receive a Best Supporting Actor nomination for his fine work as Dave, the unscrupulous android.)  Also assessed here in 2012 were That’s My Boy, Breaking Dawn – Part 1 (where I needed to make a correction over a dopey misunderstanding), Men In Black 3, Final Destination 5, Yes Man and Encino Man, which ended up detouring into my awful experience as a Student Council President in high school 20 years ago and led to a ridiculous argument with my Mom.  (She wondered, not unreasonably in retrospect, why I was wasting my time writing about an old movie instead of new ones.  If she had read the review, she would’ve understood.  Sometimes, it’s not about the page views.  And, for the record, my assessments of more current titles don’t generate a lot of page views, either.)  Although I could’ve put together a lot more critiques this year most of the films I screened in 2012 just weren’t worth writing about.  Here’s hoping for a more productive 2013.

Sticking with the entertainment criticism theme for a second, I continued to submit new CD reviews to MonkeyBiz.ca, the Hamilton, Ontario arts site.  After tackling two such assessments last December, I was immediately asked to do some more, so I chose three additional discs.  Unfortunately, there was too much going on at the time so the reviews took longer than usual.

By early January, my takes on Krash Karma’s Straight To The Blood, Gringo Star’s Count Yer Lucky Stars and The Howling Hex’s Wilson Semiconductors were finally ready.  Three months later, two more reviews surfaced:  Jordan Klassen’s Kindness EP and Yukon Blonde’s Tiger Talk.  I was particularly proud of that last critique because my feeling that Yukon Blonde was going somewhere ended up coming true.  The band’s single, Stairway, became a radio hit and was even used in a Toronto Blue Jays Sportsnet promo.

Sadly, I’ve not been asked to do any more work for MonkeyBiz which recently went through a website renovation.  All my old reviews are no longer available on there.  For the time being, I’ve found alternate links that have since been listed on the right side of my homepage but that’s temporary.  Coming soon, you’ll be seeing all 16 of these pieces under my revived From The Published Archives series.  I have no idea when that will happen but stay tuned.  I’m still open to writing for MonkeyBiz (they’ve been very kind to me over the years) but it looks like it might be time to move on.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Sunday, December 30, 2012
1:15 a.m.

Published in: on December 30, 2012 at 1:15 am  Comments (1)  

What Didn’t Matter In 2012

1. Mitt Romney’s celebrity endorsers.

2. Daniel Bryan losing the World Heavyweight Championship in 18 seconds at WrestleMania 28.

3. Lance Armstrong’s doping denials.

4. Donald Trump.

5. America’s Got Talent.

6. Angus T. Jones’ apology for calling Two And A Half Men “filth” and urging viewers to stop watching it.

7. Scientology.

8. Karl Rove.

9. WWE’s Divas Division.

10. Booker T’s colour commentary.

11. The Golden Globes.

12. Facebook shares.

13. Rush Limbaugh’s insincere apology regarding his Sandra Fluke “slut” comment.  He still lost advertisers.

14. Joe Paterno’s statue.  No longer on display.  It’s too ashamed.

15. Lance Armstrong’s 7 Tour De France victories.

16. Sarah Tressler, the angry stripper.  Lighten up, eh?

17. John Cena’s Money In The Bank briefcase.

18. Partners.  The pilot was completely laughless.

19. Writer’s Digest Community.

20. Zellers.

21. The NHL in the second half of the year.

22. Tom Cruise.

23. Hornswoggle, the formerly Anonymous Raw GM.  Really?

24. Justin Bieber meeting Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

25. Tout.

26. Toronto Blue Jays.

27. Epico & Primo’s ‘face turn.  Blink and you missed it.

28. A.W., the one-time manager of The Prime Time Players.  Your Kobe material needs work.

29. (Lord) Tensai and his (now absent) worshipper, Sakamoto.  Once so dominant, now routinely jobbing.

30. Linda McMahon spending $100 million of her own money to campaign for a Connecticut Senate seat she ultimately didn’t win.

31. Anderson Live.

32. The 9 countries who voted against Palestine being recognized at the United Nations as a non-member observer.  Shame on you, Canada.

33. Piers Morgan.

34. Chris Brown’s return to the Grammys.

35. That’s My Boy.

36. The X Factor, The Voice and American Idol.

37. The Undertaker saying the wrong date for WrestleMania 28 during a Raw promo.  He accidentally said April 21st instead of the 1st.

38. Kristen Stewart’s fling with the director of Snow White & The Huntsman.  Who cares?

39. Twitter trends.

40. Jack Swagger.

41. Criticisms of Nate Silver.

42. The Situation’s “Let’s Make It Official” t-shirt to Paula on Jersey Shore.  The insecure dick was never that serious about her.  He dumped her in a week.

43. Zack Ryder’s U.S. title reign.

44. Ryder’s on-screen relationship with Eve.  He should’ve worn a cup.

45. Shannon Tweed’s desire to adopt.

46. Telephone screeners at the King Edward VII hospital in London, England.

47. President Obama’s reelection.  Nothing will change.  More laws will be broken and more innocent people will be murdered.  Not that American Liberals will give a shit.  I’m looking at you, Sophia Bush.

48. Jeremy Lin.  Ask the Rockets if they’re overpaying him.

49. Jermaine Jackson changing his name to Jermaine Jacksun.

50. Ex-Wives Of Rock. 

51. John Cena losing to The Rock at WrestleMania 28.

52. Chris Jericho’s month of overlong, mostly non-verbal pandering to WWE audiences upon his return.  Unnecessary and annoying.  His comeback should’ve been unexpected and dramatic.

53. Jimmy Kimmel hosting the Emmys.  Not funny.

54. Bob Lefsetz’ criticisms of Taylor Swift.

55. Warren Kinsella.  Will he ever admit he was wrong about Omar Khadr?  Will he ever consistently criticize Obama and Israel for ongoing, gross human rights abuses?  Don’t hold your breath.

56. Sun News Network.  This damn thing still on?

57. Lindsay Lohan’s portrayal of Elizabeth Taylor which got terrible reviews.

58. General Petraeus’ affair with Paula Broadwell.  His military screw-ups were far more egregious.

59. Bubba The Love Sponge.

60. TNA.  The poor man’s WCW.

61. Eric The Midget’s acting career.

62. Paris Hilton.

63. The Daily Howler’s defense of Susan Rice.  Despite his desperate, obsessive efforts, she will not be the next Secretary of State.  Good.

64. The birther movement.

65. The Tea Party protestors.  Time to merge with Occupy Wall Street, guys.

66. Kim Kardashian’s brain.  Does she ever use it?

67. Howard Stern re-signing with AGT.  He still won’t find a superstar to push.

68. Conservative pundits.  As always, completely useless.

69. President Obama being named Time’s Man Of The Year.  Murderer Of The Year would be more accurate.

70. Daryn Jones left MTV Live.

71. Sarah Palin.

72. Renee Paquette left Aftermath.

73. The Pope joined Twitter. 

74. Michelle Bachmann.

75. Jersey Shore spin-offs.

76. Texas Governor Rick Perry.

77. Rick Santorum.

78. December 21, 2012.

79. WWE celebrity social media ambassadors.  How quickly that stupid bit was dropped from their prime-time programming.

80. Most of Jersey Shore’s fifth season.

81. Windows 8.

82. Ted Dibiase Jr.

83. WWE Network.  All that hype and it’s still yet to launch.  They clearly jumped the gun on this.

84. Bad reviews for Charlie Sheen’s new show, Anger Management.  It’s officially critic-proof.

85. WWE’s film division.  Will they ever make a movie audiences and critics will both embrace?

86. All those goddamn American election debates.

87. Those 27 shitty films I subjected myself to this year. 

88. That jackass who threw an empty bottle onto the track before the Mens’ 100 Metre Final at the Summer Olympics.  Usain Bolt still won Gold in world record time.

89. Angelina Jolie’s silly leg pose at the Oscars.

90. My love life.  Still dead.

91. Zack Ryder.  Broski needs to turn it around in 2013.

92. Newt Gingrich.

93. Defending Pussy Riot.  They still went to prison.

94. Laws in India protecting women from physical and sexual violence.  With roughly 200,000 reported incidents every year (surely, there are many more not brought to the police’s attention) and little to no justice for victims, it’s no wonder so many are protesting in anger.  Time for a feminist revolution.

95. Adversarial journalism in the Washington beltway.  It doesn’t exist.

96. Erin Burnett.  What a joke.

97. Privacy.

Dennis Earl
Saturday, December 29, 2012
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
1:26 a.m.

What Mattered In 2012

1. Glenn Greenwald left Salon to start writing for The Guardian.

2. The Tragically Hip’s Now For Plan A CD.  Man Machine Poem is a killer standout.

3. CM Punk’s second WWE championship run, now the sixth longest in company history.

4. Prometheus.  Michael Fassbender does it again.

5. Egyptian protestors demanding nothing less than a real democracy.  If only American Liberals had as much anger, courage and energy to thwart Obama’s own awful agenda.

6. Big Wreck’s Albatross CD.

7. Beth Phoenix and Kharma left the WWE.  A huge vacuum for women’s wrestling that is yet to be filled.

8. Paul Heyman returned to the WWE to represent Brock Lesnar and later CM Punk.  An absolute promo master, even if he does look like an evil chipmunk.

9. Private Bradley Manning and his defense team. 

10. Tyler Hamilton and Daniel Coyle’s revealing expose on doping in cycling, The Secret Race.  Essential reading for understanding the Lance Armstrong era of the Tour De France.

11. Augusten Burrough’s This Is How.

12. The backlash against Rush Limbaugh’s dumb, cruel, dishonest comments about Sandra Fluke.  Long overdue.

13. The Canadian Women’s Olympic Soccer team winning Bronze.  It should’ve been a Gold.

14. The New York Times’ expose on President Obama’s Muslim “kill list”.  Where is the outrage?

15. Jerry Sandusky’s conviction.  Better late than never.

16. Jerry Seinfeld’s Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee.  Hilarious.  (“Fuck you Steven!”)

17. Those fast-acting CMTs who saved Jerry Lawler’s life during a live broadcast of Raw.  He should put them in his will.

18. Adele’s Rolling In The Deep helped a young girl come out of her coma when she was expected to die.  The power of music.

19. Hurricane Sandy and the considerable damage it left behind in three countries.  Time to rebuild.

20. Lance Armstrong finally getting caught using performance enhancing drugs after 20 years.

21. LiveStrong completely severing its ties with the disgraced Armstrong.

22. Dolph Ziggler won the Smackdown Money In The Bank briefcase.  Amy Schumer would be proud.

23. Damien Sandow.  Not an ignoramus.

24. Daniel Bryan’s funny promos.  (“Yes!”  “No!”  “Yes!”  “No!”)

25. The Elimination Chamber matches.

26. CM Punk vs. Chris Jericho at WrestleMania 28.  Best match on the card.  (“Hey Punk!  How’s your father?”)

27. The Syrian civil war.

28. The war in the Congo.

29. Heroic Pakistani human rights activist Mala Yousafzai survived an assassination attempt at age 15.

30. Israel’s heartless, needless aggression against Palestinians in Occupied Gaza.  It has to stop.

31. Sheamus won The Royal Rumble.  Good match, too.

32. Ryback.  Feed him more.

33. Michael Hastings’ Afghanistan reporting.

34. The Big Bang Theory.

35. Muse’s The 2nd Law CD.

36. AJ Lee, the kissing bandit of the WWE.  I want to be her next victim.

37. Counter-protesting the hatefully misguided Westboro Baptist “Church” at funerals.  They never show up when they feel the heat.

38. The bad officiating during the boxing competition at the Summer Olympics.  Ditto that Canada/US women’s soccer semi-final.

39. The backlash against the hapless NFL replacement refs which led to the return of the striking originals who were actually missed by irate fans, coaches and players.

40. Oscar Pistorius competing at the Summer Olympics and the warm reception he received by everybody.

41. The Jimmy Savile scandal.

42. George Zimmerman finally getting arrested for killing Trayvon Martin after mass protesting in America.

43. The WWE return of Brock Lesnar, especially that brilliant pre-taped “I’m an asskicker” promo.

44. Lex Hives by The Hives.  Worth the five-year wait.

45. Keane’s Strangeland CD.  More dreamy pop confections in less than an hour. 

46. Usain Bolt.  Can anyone catch him?

47. Soccer dynasty Spain won their second consecutive Euro title.

48. Chris Brown’s outspoken critics.  He can never shut them up.

49. The Killers’ Battle Born CD. 

50. Ric Flair’s return to the WWE.  Make him the General Manager of Raw.

51. Eve Torres’ heel turn.  Unexpectedly convincing.

52. Nate Silver.  Singlehandedly puts all other pundits to shame.

53. Green Day’s Uno CD.

54. Rhianna’s uncomfortable, annoying and defiant reunion with Chris Brown.  Her safety and sanity remain at risk.

55. Paula’s infamous ball cake to The Situation on the Jersey Shore finale.  Ronnie’s right.  She is the Prank War Champion.  Hilarious.  Her philandering ex got his just desserts.

56. Rush will be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame next year.  About fucking time.

57. The growing popularity for the American gay marriage movement.  How long before every state in the union recognizes it?

58. Republican Todd Akin lost his bid for the U.S. Senate.

59. Super PACs (except American Crossroads).

60. Democrat Alan Grayson won back his Senate seat after losing it in 2010.

61. MTV’s It Gets Better 2 special.  Honest, fair, deeply moving and extraordinarily helpful.

62. Billy Crystal hosted the Oscars.  He’s still funny.

63. Kofi Kingston’s brutal Trouble In Paradise kick to The Miz’ head on Raw.  A move so devastasting the former WWE Champion became a babyface.

64. The Smashing Pumpkins’ Oceania CD.

65. Wrongly incarcerated Torontonian Omar Khadr was finally transferred from Guantanamo back to Canada where he belongs.  He should be free from prison, though.  Warren Kinsella (among many other fools) owes him an apology and restitution for needlessly harming his young reputation.

66. Secretary Of State Hillary Clinton was pelted with tomatoes by Egyptian protestors during an official visit to their country.  For someone who once considered ousted dictator Hosni Mubarak “a member of my family”, she got off easy.

67. Julian Assange’s legal limbo.  The man the Obama Administration fears the most and with good reason.

68. Anonymous.

69. Adrien Chen for exposing Michael Brutsch, AKA Violentacrez, on Gawker.

70. Wade Barrett’s shoulder injury.  It not only derailed his program with Randy Orton, it killed his momentum for much of the year.  Right now he’s stuck in the mid-card fighting for a title he’s already won.

71. Gene Simmons Family Jewels was cancelled.  Writing numerous pieces about it boosted this website’s fortunes considerably.

72. Felix Baumgartner’s skywalk.  Impressive, especially that perfect landing.

73. Daniel Bryan & Kane won the WWE tag team titles.  The division has finally been revived.

74. Brad Maddox and The Shield.  They’re the latest reasons CM Punk is still WWE Champion.

75. The “F” in old WWF footage is no longer silenced when spoken nor blurred when seen during Attitude Era retrospectives.  Finally.

76. America’s two-tier justice system and its out of control surveillence state.  It’s getting worse.

77. Mick Foley returned to the WWE.

78. The final build-up to The Rock vs. John Cena at WrestleMania 28.  Far better than the match which was good but not great.

79. The Undertaker defeated Triple H for the third time at WrestleMania, this time in an entertaining Hell In A Cell match.  The Streak, now 20-0, remains intact.  But for how long?

80. The Driver Rehabilitation Centre on Canada’s Worst Driver 8.

81. LeBron James won his first NBA Championship with the Miami Heat.

82. Wyatt Cenac left The Daily Show.

83. Great Britain’s Summer Olympians.  The home nation had a great run this year.

84. Michael Phelps won his 22nd medal at the Summer Olympics, an all-time individual record.

85. The billion hits Psy’s Gangham Style video received this year on YouTube.  No way he can follow it up, though.

86. Justin Bieber’s Twitter promotion of Carly Rae Jepsen.  As a result, Call Me Maybe became a big hit.

87. Andy Sandberg and Kristen Wiig left SNL.

88. Denise Wade from The Canadian Home Shopping Channel.  Sigh.

89. John Cusack’s strong Obama criticisms.  Pay attention, Sophia Bush.  You might learn something.

90. The growing international backlash against drones. 

91. The death of Adam Yauch.  Great rapper, greater defender of Tibet.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Friday, December 28, 2012
4:42 p.m.

CORRECTION:  Number 58 originally read: “Republican Todd Akin lost his House Of Representatives seat.”  (He’s the dope who made this infamous comment during an interview.)  That’s not accurate.  He actually resigned his seat to become the Republican nominee for the Senate race in Missouri which he lost.  The corrected line notes the latter.  My apologies for the mistake.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Monday, December 31, 2012
3:02 a.m.

Winners & Losers Of 2012 (Part Six)

Winner:  Jennifer Lawrence

The Hunger Games was a global blockbuster taking in almost 700 million worldwideReviews were just as enthusiastic.  Although it hasn’t had nearly as wide a release nor generated nearly as much money, Silver Linings Playbook has nonetheless been a critically acclaimed hit in its own right.  Furthermore, it might earn her a second Oscar nomination.  Even the horror film, House At The End Of The Street made a nice profit, despite being carved up by critics.  Oh, and she’s really sexy, too.

Loser:  The BBC

For six decades, Jimmy Savile was one of the most popular and respected broadcasters in Britain.  From his debut in 1958 on the influential Radio Luxembourg to his final run on the British Broadcasting Corporation in 2007, the blond-haired, cigar-smoking eccentric was as generous with his time and money as the Red Cross and as ubiquitous in the UK as tea and crumpets.  But in 2012, he would finally be exposed as the harmful sexual predator he actually was.  His once mostly sterling reputation is now lying in ruins.

At the start of the year, British media reported that a planned BBC documentary about Savile’s sex crimes against young girls was quietly cancelled.  NewsNight was preparing an extensive report shortly after his death at age 84 in late 2011 when the highers-up worried it would cause problems.  A spokesman lamely denied the accusation.  The public broadcaster aired two positive tributes instead of the report which didn’t help matters.

Later on in October, rival private station ITV aired its own expose, The Other Side Of Jimmy Savile, on its Exposure series.  The report caused a media firestorm that went global.  The Savile scandal was so big not only was it covered in Britain it was also covered by The New York Times and goofed on by Jon Stewart on The Daily Show in America.

When all was said and done, UK law enforcement began investigating literally hundreds of sexual abuse claims against Savile and even arrested other living suspects who may have committed similiar offenses during the same period.  (One of them is long disgraced glam rocker Gary Glitter who, incidentally enough, Savile once publicly defended.)  Many of Savile’s victims were underage girls he had met through his own TV shows like Jim’ll Fix It (ironically, a make-a-wish program for kids) and the famous countdown series, Top Of The Pops, as well as through his various charity work (which included visiting terminally sick kids in the hospital who were most vulnerable).  Day after day, more and more accusations of rape and molestation of both girls and boys became public (including at least one family member) as long traumatized victims finally found the courage to tell their horrifying stories.

All the while, the BBC’s reputation took a massive pummelling.  From reports that the abuse was well-known for decades but never dealt with to the cover-up surrounding the cancellation of the NewsNight report, the public broadcaster couldn’t muster much of a defence against the relentlessly negative coverage.

In the end, Director General George Entwistle, who ordered an internal investigation, nonetheless fell on his sword after less than two months in the job while his predecessor, Mark Thompson, was feeling the heat in America as well.  To their credit, The New York Times, Thompson’s new employer, didn’t shy away from reporting on his role in all this ungodly mess.  An ongoing inquiry will hopefully offer the complete picture later on next year.  (December 19 UPDATE:  Actually, the near 200-page report has already been released and there’s even more bad news.)

Sadly, the BBC found itself in even more trouble when it publicly accused an ex-politician of being a sex offender in a report.  (Other UK outlets followed suit including ITV.)  One problem, though:  it wasn’t true.  The thoroughly embarrassed public broadcaster inevitably apologized and agreed to pay a six-figure settlement.

After all the screw-ups in 2012, can it get any worse for them in 2013?

Winner:  Ryback

It’s taken eight grueling years for 31-year-old Ryan Reeves to finally breakthrough in the WWE.  In 2004, he was one of eight finalists fighting for a job as a professional wrestler on the fourth season of Tough Enough.  (He finished fourth.)  In 2010, after years of toiling in the WWE’s developmental programs (using three different names and character gimmicks) he was picked to compete on the then-reality competition series, NXT.  Re-christened Skip Sheffield, he finished sixth, a spot ahead of a guy named Daniel Bryan.

In June 2010, Sheffield and all the other Season 1 NXT “rookies” formed a heel faction called The Nexus and started attacking anyone and everyone in their path as they began their careers on the main roster.  Two months later, The Nexus battled seven WWE superstars including a now-babyface Bryan (who had been foolishly fired for choking Raw ring announcer Justin Roberts with his own tie, an apparent no-no in this silly PG era) at that year’s SummerSlam but lost.  While working the house show circuit shortly thereafter, Sheffield got hurt and completely disappeared for over a year.  It took three surgeries to repair a broken left ankle.

When he returned to live events in late 2011, Reeves made a change.  He reverted back to a previously discarded moniker, a combination of his real first name and his old childhood nickname, Silverback (like the gorilla), and became a good guy.  In a lovely throwback to old-school wrestling, when he finally came back to TV in April this year, he began a weekly tradition of demolishing much smaller, unknown jobbers in quick, punishing matches, sometimes in two-on-one handicap encounters.  The site of him hoisting two men on his shoulders to perform his finisher, Shell Shocked, was most impressive.

Working extremely stiff (particularly when delivering a meathook clothesline) and acting very intense (“Wake up!” “Feed me more!” “I hit hard!” “Finish it!”  “Done!”), Ryback drew comparisons to Goldberg, WCW’s big breakout star in the late 90s.  (Both men have a similiar look).  Some fans even started chanting “Goldberg”, albeit dismissively, during his matches.

But as he started moving up the card to do battle with the likes of Jinder Mahal, Jack Swagger, Tensai and then-Intercontinental Champion The Miz (his old Tough Enough 4 rival), audiences started chanting “Feed me more!” right along with him.  (It didn’t hurt that the phrase was inserted into his now-revised entrance music.)  The Goldberg chants haven’t stopped completely but fortunately they represent just a small minority of the audience.  That’s how over this guy is.

Ryback’s big break came at the end of a late September installment of Raw, just after WWE Champion CM Punk kicked Mick Foley a little low backstage and started to walk away.  When The Straight Edge Superstar stopped and turned around he was startled to see Big Hungry breathing heavy not far from Mrs. Foley’s baby boy who was still on the ground.

Ever since, Ryback’s been in the world title picture challenging Punk in two main events on pay-per-view.  Although screwed out of a rightful victory both times (thanks to a rogue referee at Hell In A Cell and The Shield taking him out in the Survivor Series triple threat which also featured John Cena), he’s got at least one more opportunity to get pushed once the WWE Champion recovers from his recent knee surgery, most likely in early January.  (Or maybe he’ll get a run with the U.S. title.  Who knows?)

Regardless of the Goldberg comparisons, the talented two-time Slammy winner has managed to advance so quickly to the top of the roster in just one year in this current incarnation I’m sure he’s the envy of all the other wrestlers in the locker room who have been unable to achieve similiar success the many years they’ve been struggling in the mid-card.  (To be fair, it took him nearly a decade to earn this spot.)  One big question needs to be asked, however.  Will Ryback be a blip on the national wrestling radar or a fixture for years to come?  Only time will tell.  For now, in a year that saw several notable new characters, without any doubt, he was the WWE’s most successful new star. 

Loser:  Spike Lee, Jerry Sandusky, Penn State and “Violent Acrez” Michael Brutsch 

During the outcry over the Trayvon Martin killing in March, 55-year-old filmmaker and colossal jerk Spike Lee stupidly retweeted what he thought was the address of the then-unarrested man responsible for the kid’s death.  It wasn’tHis imbecilic gesture cost him dough and rightly hurt his reputation.  Why posting this private home address on a public social networking site (which ultimately forced an innocent elderly couple to relocate because of safety concerns) was considered a good idea in the name of justice I’ll never know.

Meanwhile in June, Jerry Sandusky, the former longtime defensive coordinator for Penn State’s mighty football team (he was also a player for nearly a decade), lost his freedom forever after being found guilty of 45 counts of disturbing sexual misconduct on young boys.  Like Jimmy Savile in Britain, the 68-year-old’s awful reputation was well-known to his co-workers and just like the BBC, Penn State didn’t do a damn thing about it.  For years, he was able to rape and molest young boys (like Savile, he recruited many through his charity work), in some cases right on school property without arrest or even losing his job.  (Even after he retired in 1999, he remained a menace for another decade.  He still had an office at Penn State up until last year.)  He’ll now spend the rest of his natural life in prison.  (This will allow him plenty of time to write another book.)  In the meantime, more of his criminal actions are being investigated

Joe Paterno, the once highly respected head coach of Penn State’s football team, upon learning of one assault from an eyewitness in 1998 refused to go directly to the police and felt, along with three other university bigwigs, that the matter should be dealt with internally, meaning not at all.  In July 2012, a month after Sandusky’s long overdue conviction, former FBI head Louis Freeh revealed his damning report about the Sandusky cover-up.  It lead to one resignation and more criminal charges against the three surviving conspirators.  (“Joe Pa” died in January.  If he hadn’t, he would’ve most certainly been arrested as well.)  Paterno’s statue was removed and many of his victories and championships as the head football coach of Penn State were erased.  As a result, he’s no longer the winningest coach in college football history.  Furthermore, the university was heavily fined, put on probation for half a decade, lost numerous scholarships and had its football program suspended for two years among other harsh penalties.  Like the BBC, can Penn State recover its reputation over time?  Right now, it’s difficult to know for certain.

For years, “Violent Acrez” was one of the most active posters on Reddit, a social networking site known for a creepy sub-culture that gets its kicks off disturbing, possibly illegal content.  That is until the very brave Adrien Chen of Gawker revealed his identity in October which became a major story.  The real-life Michael Brutsch would pay the price for being an online “troll”.  He lost his job and gave a pitiful performance while being interviewed on CNN resulting in zero sympathy from everyone except his Reddit fans.  May he disappear into the nether regions of obscurity forever.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Tuesday, December 18, 2012
3:40 a.m.

Published in: on December 18, 2012 at 3:40 am  Leave a Comment  

Winners & Losers Of 2012 (Part Five)

Winner:  Barack Obama

He was easily re-elected to a second term as The American President.  Thanks to strong pressure from protestors, he stopped deporting millions from the Latino community while simultaneously offering them temporary citizenship and he made history by being the first President to publicly support gay marriage.

Loser:  Barack Obama

The hypocritical secrecy; the illegal drones; Guantanamo; the unprecedented war on whistleblowers including the heroic Bradley Manning; the refusal to end the drug war; the sickening resistence to various reforms including gun policy, drug policy and foreign policy; the on-going murder, imprisonment and torture of countless innocent Muslims; the harassment of honourable dissenters; the watered down health care law; the blind loyalty to the consistently beligerent Israel; the lack of support for Palestine and real democracy in the Arab world; the further solidification of endless war and the illegal surveillence state; the lack of prosecutions of Wall Street crooks; the overly cozy relationship with corporations; his full-on embrace of a two-tier justice system: one for the rich and one for everybody else, particularly Muslims and critics; the lack of prosecutions of American war crimes; the heartless sanctions against Iran; Libya; the unkept promises and so much more.

Winner:  Chris Brown’s Critics

It was supposed to be the night of his big return to the spotlight, the event that brought him back into the good graces of the public.  On February 13th, after performing two numbers at the 2012 Grammys and winning a gong for Best R&B Album, Chris Brown looked like he was on his way.

It was too good to be true.  Shortly after the ceremony, he posted this series of tweets on his official Twitter account:

“Strange how we pick and choose who to hate! Let me ask u this. Our society is full of rappers (which I listen to) who have sold drugs (poisoning).”

“But yet we glorify them and imitate everything they do. Then right before the worlds eyes a man shows how he can make a Big mistake and learn from it, but still has to deal with day to day hatred! You guys love to hate!!! But guess what???”

“HATE ALL U WANT BECUZ I GOT A GRAMMY Now! That’s the ultimate FUCK OFF!”

Brown (or an underling posing as him, if RadarOnline is to be believed) was responding to critics who didn’t approve of his appearance on the show.  Needless to say, this supremely childish (and not at all persuasive) outburst didn’t shut them up.  In fact, it made them even more outspoken.

Actor Seth Rogen, country star Miranda Lambert, Sheldon Cooper’s former nemesis Wil Wheaton and Howard Stern were among the most vocal who were not pleased with the music industry’s public reconciliation with the young man who nearly killed his ex-girlfriend, Rihanna, while driving in a car three years earlier.  (At the ceremony, more than a few audience members gave him a standing ovation.  Really?)  Proving that he actually hasn’t learned a damn thing, Brown engaged almost all of these conscientious objectors on Twitter which greatly tarnished his Grammys success.

When WWE Champion CM Punk half-jokingly suggested that he would love to battle the singer at WrestleMania, Brown foolishly responded, wrongly accusing him of being a steroid abuser. Not realizing that the real-life Phil Brooks is straight edge (like myself), Punk offered a brilliant two-minute video rebuttal that garnered him a lot of positive press and numerous media interviews.  Not surprisingly, Brown didn’t accept his offer to fight him for charity.  Despite briefly tweeting him back, the singer eventually announced he wouldn’t get into it with him again.

If only that were the end of his troubles.  As 2012 continued, Brown couldn’t leave well enough alone.  Not that long after the Grammys, he angrily stole a fan’s iPhone, called her a “bitch”, and later threw it out his car window.  He got into a club fight with Drake which turned into a brawl.  (The club lost its liquor licence as a result.)  He got a controversial neck tattoo.  He dressed up as a member of The Taliban for Halloween.  He violated his probation by testing positive for weed (which, you would think, would mellow him out just a little).  And even his own lawyer gave him hell in an L.A. courtroom.

Then, near the end of the year, he got into another pointless Twitter war with the very funny comedian, Jenny Johnson, who had been humourously tormenting him on the social networking site for many, many months.  His disturbingly juvenile responses to her proved once and for all that he is his own worst enemy.  Despite temporarily quitting Twitter for a short time, Brown ultimately returned.  But true to his pathetic character, all of his previous tweets (including the defensive ones that had already been removed from earlier in the year) were nowhere to be found.

Amazingly, despite all of that avoidable nonsense, Brown still managed to reconcile with Rihanna.  After secretly seeing each other for months, once Brown broke up with his girlfriend they started sharing overly cozy photos of themselves to the world online.  They even made new music together in the form of remixes.  But the welcome criticism kept coming.  Brown’s latest CD, Fortune, was not loved by most professional reviewers.  It’s also his biggest commercial flop to date selling just 300,000 copies.  (Before the assault on Rihanna, his first two albums collectively sold four million units.)  Were it not for two Top 10 singles (out of five released from Fortune) on Billboard, he would’ve been completely absent from radio this year.

With a mid-January 2013 court date looming (regarding a possible probation violation) and more music in the works, Brown would be well advised to do two things from here on out:  shut up and stay out of trouble.  His many critics, however, can keep right on talking.

Loser:  Facebook

Mark Zuckerberg’s social networking creation was once a personal sanctuary for me after a terrible online break-up, a welcome place to reconnect with long lost friends and a public game room worthy of time wasting. 

That was five years ago.  Today, I’m barely on it.  From the constant crashing while trying to sign in and out to the annoying freezing of the home page after you finally manage to get in there to the generally slow loading of pages, particularly games like Zynga Poker, to endlessly irritating requests for various things I’m not interested in and that stupid timeline, not to mention the complete lack of control and ownership over your private data, were it not for my friends (the ones who didn’t abandon me), I would’ve quit a long time ago.  I wonder if others feel the same way.

Meanwhile, the company continued to make headlines for all the wrong reasons.  In February, it reinstated a ban on harmless breastfeeding photos while in the summer it refused to remove groups dedicated to hating and humiliating females, particularly 12-year-olds.  Just wonderful.

In May, after much fanfare Facebook became a public company, offering itself up to potential stockholders at 38 bucks a share.  But instead of reaping the financial rewards from such a move, the stock tanked thanks to this and arguably, this.  In August when the company revealed that almost 100 million profiles were either fake, duplicates or spam (roughly a tenth of the overall billion total), the stock fell again.  At one point, the value dropped as much as 50% before gradually climbing back to almost $30 a share, still lower than its original asking price.  Regardless, Zuckerberg made billions.  It’s a good thing, too, because he may have to settle all these related lawsuits (here and here, as well).

That same month, Limited Run, a new music-oriented business site, claimed that 80% of the ad clicks it received through its Facebook ad were not made by human beings.  As a result, they deleted their page and switched to Twitter.  General Motors pulled its ads, too, but, curiously, not its own Facebook page.  Is this a bad sign?

Finally, despite asking for users to vote on the latest proposed changes near the end of the year, Facebook is doing whatever the hell it wants anyway, regardless of the results.  In fact, it’s doing away with the whole democracy thing altogether.  And it still owns much of what you post.

Now, after all this cheery news, like me, aren’t you glad you signed up in the first place?  (December 19 UPDATE:  Especially after this.)

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Tuesday, December 18, 2012
1:40 a.m.

Published in: on December 18, 2012 at 1:40 am  Leave a Comment  

Symphony Of Violence

Another day, another gunman runs amok
You think your caring government really gives a fuck?
They’ve declared another holiday from rational thought
And we find ourselves back in the very same spot

They’ll cry and they’ll weep while pretending to lead
As they all run for cover at lightning speed
As soon as this blows over we can all get back
To not giving a damn about the next drone attack

Don’t be mistaken, this was a deplorable act
This young man’s mind was obviously cracked
But he wasn’t the first and he won’t be the last
We can all do a lot more than just feel aghast

We can and we must always protect our most susceptible
Because anything less is completely unacceptable
Real change will not come from those we elect
But from protesting policies we deem far from correct

For those in America now living in fear
Open your eyes while you’re shedding that tear
This symphony of violence is such a familiar tune
That no man, woman or child can ever truly be immune

It doesn’t matter who you are or where you’re from
You could be a distant stranger or a very loyal chum
Your skin could be white or it can be brown
Every victim screams the exact same sound

But don’t expect miracles from your commander-in-chief
He’s not the one to turn to in your time of grief
How can he be when he gets such a thrill
Spending every Tuesday picking more young Muslims to kill

So while the media dances around these uncomfortable issues
And a new class of mourners keep reaching for those tissues
Time to get off your asses and demonstrate your clout
So the powerful stop taking the easy way out

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Saturday, December 15, 2012
3:27 a.m.

Published in: on December 15, 2012 at 3:27 am  Comments (1)  

Unanswered Questions Regarding The Kate Middleton Prank Call

1. Why did nurse Jacintha Saldanha hang herself?

2. How many angry critics have actually heard the original prank call?

3. Would they calm down after listening to it?

4. What did Saldanha write in her suicide note?

5. Did she suffer from severe depression or any kind of mental illness?

6. Was she on any kind of medication?

7. Did she tell anybody she was going to end her life?

8. Did she have a history of suicidal thoughts or tendencies?

9. Was this her first attempt at suicide?

10. Did she have any kind of stress in her life prior to this incident?

11. Why was it so easy for the two Australian DJs, Mel Greig and Michael Christian, to get through to the King Edward VII hospital in London?

12. Why have they been fired from their show?

13. What laws could’ve possibly been broken because of the prank call?

14. Why did Saldanha and her fellow nurse believe they were talking to Queen Elizabeth and Prince Charles when Greig and Christian sounded nothing like them, respectively?

15. Why are Greig and Christian apologizing for Saldanha’s death when they did nothing wrong?

16. Did anyone mock Saldanha in the three days between the prank call and her suicide?

17. Why would anyone kill themselves over a harmless prank call that wasn’t the least bit mean spirited?

18. With some exceptions, how come the King Edward VII hospital isn’t being blamed for failing to protect Kate Middleton’s privacy?

19. Why were Greig & Christian bragging about a bit that wasn’t even funny?

20. Why was Prince William more upset about the prank callers than the actions of the hospital?

21. In Australia, is permission required by law from “victims” of prank calls in order for the bits to be played on the air and re-aired, similiar to American law?

22. Why did Saldanha not contact her family for three days before hanging herself?

23. Although they’ve publicly denied doing so, did the hospital administrators reprimand her so severely she felt she couldn’t go on living?

24. Why wasn’t Saldanha’s husband and family informed of her death by the hospital as soon as they had that information?

25. Had Saldanha ever threatened to kill herself before or did she keep those intentions private?

26. Why do the idiots who sent death threats to Greig & Christian think that will solve anything?

27. Will they be back on the air on a different show or a different station since they lost their morning gig at 2DayFM?

28. Why would they initially apologize for the call when it became global while simultaneously bragging about it over and over again?

29. Why did the hospital allow the call to come through in the first place when, according to this, Royal Family members don’t call hospitals?

30. Will personnel be more skeptical now about incoming calls of this nature?

31. Why wasn’t there a second switchboard to re-direct suspicious calls regarding Kate’s condition?

32. Why would 2DayFM now ban prank calls?

33. Is it true that the station tried to get in touch with the hospital “five times” before the call aired but never heard a response?

34. Is the hospital telling the truth that they never heard from the station?

35. Although no real shocking details were revealed by the nurses, why would any Royal Family member stay in King Edward VII when it’s apparently very easy for strangers to get private medical information over the phone?

36. Why does Scotland Yard need to get involved in this?

37. Haven’t Greig & Christian suffered enough for nothing?

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Wednesday, December 12, 2012
11:46 p.m.

UPDATE:  According to this Guardian report, there are actually three suicide notes, one regarding the prank call, one addressed to her family regarding plans for her funeral and one that’s critical of the King Edward VII hospital.  Nothing is actually quoted from any of these writings which have been passed on in typewritten form to Saldanha’s grieving family. 

So, we have a preliminary answer to question 4.  Meanwhile, we have a better answer for question 36. 

From the Guardian report:

“Scotland Yard is investigating a number of emails which the inquest heard were relevant to the nurse’s death, as well as telephone calls made to and from her phone in the days before her death.”

Two new, unanswered questions arise from this:

38. Who was Saldanha talking to and what was the nature of those conversations?

39. Who was she exchanging emails with and what was shared with the unknown parties?

It’s standard practice for Britain to investigate these kinds of deaths which will likely not result in any criminal charges.  It’s a damn good thing because this sad story is getting more complicated with each passing day.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Thursday, December 13, 2012
4:46 p.m.

UPDATE 2:  More general details about the letters hereThis CNN report, referencing British media reports, claims that Saldanha may have suffered from anxiety.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Friday, December 14, 2012
3:10 a.m.

UPDATE 3:  Possible answers to questions 5, 6, 8, 9 and 10 here.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Monday, December 24, 2012
1:07 p.m.

UPDATE 4:  Answers to questions 13 and 27 here.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Monday, February 11, 2013
2:27 a.m.

Published in: on December 12, 2012 at 11:46 pm  Comments (1)  

Hunting For Trouble

Peek beneath the surface
Take a closer look
What do you see?
Not the cover of this book
Is it what you expected
Or are you shocked and dismayed
By all these hidden attributes
Do you think you’ve been played?

Peer behind the curtain
Enjoy the forbidden view
Feel guilty for discovering
The opposite of you?
Did you miss all of the signs
Or are you really that dense?
It’s hardly a surprise
Your ego is immense

Go beyond the wall
Go deeper than a glance
The risk of being exposed
Is worth taking a chance
You might learn something
Outside your hollow bubble
Isn’t it always better
To go hunting for trouble?

Climb over the fence
Don’t be afraid to stare
Stop living in denial
It’s best to be aware
You think having it all
Is not nearly enough
But what’s the point in owning
So much useless stuff?

Sneak into the fortress
Take the time to observe
Passion and eccentricity
Plus a whole lot of nerve
Qualities you lack
And will never acquire
You have to be interesting
To ignite this desire

Watch outside the window
Discover for yourself
Your painful limitations
In spite of your wealth
It could’ve been different
There was so much to explore
You turned your back on joy
And became an unbearable snore

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Wednesday, December 12, 2012
1:31 a.m.

Published in: on December 12, 2012 at 1:31 am  Leave a Comment  

Winners & Losers Of 2012 (Part Four)

Winner:  CM Punk & Daniel Bryan

A decade ago, they were paying their dues in numerous independent promotions.  At the time, few expected them to become major players in the WWE.  In 2012, no one disputed their rise to the main event.

The day after CM Punk regained the WWE Championship at the 25th Survivor Series last year, he claimed that the game of championship “hot potato” was over.  No more transitional champions for the foreseeable future.  More than a year later, he has kept his promise.

As his ongoing feud with John Lauranaitis continued into 2012, The Straight Edge Superstar survived numerous challenges to his second WWE title run.  He bested Dolph Ziggler at the Royal Rumble, five other combatants in a superb Elimination Chamber contest and even Mark Henry in a terrific no disqualification match on Raw.

Then came Chris Jericho.  After initially fighting over who really is “the best in the world”, the angle became needlessly and questionably personal, not to mention predictable and monotonous.  Jericho tried to get under Punk’s skin by bringing up his family’s history of addiction.  He even attempted, by coercion. to get him to become an alcoholic like his father.  (I’m not sure smashing a vodka bottle over his head was the right approach, though.)

Punk was never ever going to suddenly start drinking (was there really any doubt about that?) and the constant taunting by his opponent grew more and more tedious and pointless.  Nevertheless, despite these storytelling flaws, both men had the best match at WrestleMania 28.  Even Jericho’s early digs (“Hey Punk!  How’s your father?”  “Hey Punk!  How’s your sister?”) were far funnier and effective than anything he said leading up to their encounter.  In the end, Punk got Jericho to tap out to the Anaconda Vice.  He also won their rematch at Extreme Rules.

Meanwhile, Daniel Bryan was starting off the year flush with success of his own.  After The Big Show defeated Mark Henry for the World Heavyweight Championship at last year’s TLC, the former champion made sure the new champion didn’t have much of a post-match celebration.  After a succession of chair shots, Bryan ran to the ring, cashed in his Money In The Bank briefcase (which he won in a stellar MITB ladder match five months earlier) and pinned a helpless Big Show less than a minute after his own triumph.

Bryan, who had been a well-respected babyface up to this point, was starting to show signs of villainy as the new year arrived.  He started an obnoxiously repetitive “Yes!” chant (actually it was pretty amusing), stolen from MMA fighter Diego Sanchez, and he re-named his finisher, the LeBell Lock, the Yes Lock.  At the otherwise underwhelming Royal Rumble pay-per-view in January, Bryan squeaked out a lucky victory against Big Show and Mark Henry in a well-booked triple-threat cage match.  (He fell from the top of the cage after Show lost his grip on him.)  In an even better Elimination Chamber match, despite the thrilling efforts of last-minute substitute and remaining challenger Santino Marella (who replaced an injured Randy Orton) who thrived in the role of the popular underdog, Bryan got a submission victory and retained his title.

Then came the opening match of WrestleMania 28.  After kissing his on-screen girlfriend AJ Lee (who he didn’t exactly treat very well in the preceding months), he got blindsided by Sheamus’ brogue kick and saw his three-month World title run end in less than 20 seconds.  (Bryan later dumped his gal blaming her for the loss, saying he wasn’t ready.)  Normally, when you drop the title like that you lose a considerable amount of momentum and go back to the mid-card.  But amazingly, Bryan’s stock rose even higher.

As the Miami crowd voiced their displeasure by continuously imitating his Yes! chants throughout the night, their response was clear.  They felt Bryan deserved another go with Sheamus.  Although he didn’t regain the title in their best two out of three falls rematch at Extreme Rules, the 20-minute battle received very positive notices.  And the Yes! chants continued unabated.

Which brings us back to CM Punk.  After ending his program with Chris Jericho, next up was old rival Bryan who Punk dismissed as “Goat Face” because of his horrendous-looking beard.  At Over The Limit, both men put together a very good match for the WWE title.  Punk got the duke, though.

A month later at the revived No Way Out, they squared off again with Kane thrown in the mix in a triple threat match that had the added attraction of the mysterious AJ who appeared to have mixed feelings about everybody.  (When she wasn’t kissing lips she was slapping faces or causing general havoc by skipping around the ring like a schoolgirl.)  Her involvement not only helped sell the angle considerably, it assured Punk’s title reign would continue.

On the 1000th episode of Raw, Punk and Bryan would see their on-screen characters enjoy new wrinkles as they entered the second half of the year.  On the 999th edition, the former World Heavyweight Champion had managed to reconcile with AJ and even propose marriage which she accepted.  (This only happened after Punk turned down her proposal.  He made the mistake of saying he liked crazy chicks.  (AJ has a mean streak that comes out of nowhere.))  Unfortunately, the following week, she dumped him in the middle of the ceremony (which was being officiated by Slick!) and became the new general manager of the show.  Soon, Bryan, feeling that the crowd had been mocking him with those Yes! chants since WrestleMania, would counter them with a No! chant of his own, a brilliantly simple way to keep his heat.  Inevitably, the Yes Lock became the No Lock.

Meanwhile, Punk was showing signs of turning heel.  After a verbal confrontation with The Rock early on, he clotheslined and GTS’d the People’s Champ at the show’s exciting conclusion, setting up their likely title match at the 2013 Royal Rumble.  (Rock appeared on this particular edition of Raw to specifically announce his intentions to challenge the WWE Champion for the belt at that very show, whoever that may be.)

After being humiliated by his vengeful ex, Bryan started developing an anger problem not at all helped by the Yes! chants.  After beating Kane (who later flipped out on backstage interviewer Josh Matthews numerous times) at SummerSlam, AJ ordered them both to go to therapy which transformed the duo into an unlikely comedy team.  The bit was so popular with fans the WWE kept it going for weeks until they became an equally unlikely tag team.  After replacing The Prime Time Players as the number one contenders to the World tag team titles, they defeated R-Truth and Kofi Kingston at Hell In A Cell to win the belts.  They’re likely to stay champions through to the new year.  As an added bonus, their dysfunctional union helped revive a once torment tag team division.

At the same time, Punk renewed his great rivalry with John Cena at Money In The Bank while starting a new one with colour commentator Jerry Lawler who claimed that his attack on The Rock was a sign he was turning against the fans which greatly irritated the WWE Champion.  Like the previous MITB event in 2011, Punk got the push over Cena.  After numerous verbal and physical confrontations with The King (including a non-title cage match on Raw where a bloodied Punk cleverly referenced Andy Kaufman to get under his skin and beat the crap out of him when he wouldn’t declare him the best in the world), Lawler suffered a real-life massive heart attack at the announce booth on live TV (which put the feud on hold) but thankfully, due to the professional diligence of nearby medical personnel, he made a complete recovery. 

At SummerSlam, Punk etched out another win against Cena and The Big Show, who had also renewed an old rivalry with the leader of the Cenation, in yet another triple threat encounter.  At Night Of Champions, a Cena/Punk double pin after a long but well received battle ended in a draw but there would be no one-on-one blow-off match due to Cena legitimately hurting his ankle and needing immediate surgery on his right arm.

Enter Ryback.  As Punk started aligning himself with the evil chipmunk Paul Heyman and talking trash with former greats like Bret Hart and Mick Foley while also renewing his feud with the returning Lawler by hilariously albeit controversially mocking his recent health scare (Heyman feigned his own heart attack, much to my amusement), Big Hungry was eager to take Cena’s place at Hell In A Cell, especially after the champion attacked the former Mankind backstage.  When Punk couldn’t decide who he would rather face at the event, Vince McMahon chose for him.  But as Ryback was closing in on a victory, rogue referee Brad Maddox gave him a shot to the groin and fast-counted Punk to a shady victory. 

When Cena and Ryback both challenged Punk in yet another triple threat title match at the Survivor Series (Ryback and Punk were originally scheduled to be on opposing teams of five in a traditional tag team elimination match before the changed booking), the Straight Edge Superstar caught a huge break when three NXT talents (Roman Reigns, Dean Ambrose and current NXT Champion Seth Rollins) took out Ryback on a gimmick announce booth as Punk pinned a downed Cena in the ring.

Although another Ryback/Punk title match was booked for the upcoming TLC, it was ultimately cancelled due to a previously undisclosed real-life knee injury that had befallen the WWE Champion well before he was annihilated by Big Hungry on a recent Raw.  (The on-screen thrashing will allow the real-life Phil Brooks to take a much-needed breather in the ring til the new year.)

As a replacement match, Daniel Bryan and Kane will team with Ryback to take on new rivals Reigns, Ambrose and Rollins, who are now known as The Shield, in a Tables, Ladders & Chairs match where, for the first time, a pinfall or submission will end the bout.  Normally, you have to climb a ladder to retrieve a prize like a championship belt in these kind of matches.  However, Team Hell No’s tag titles are not up for grabs in this situation.

Besides remaining WWE Champion for more than a year, Punk was also given the honour of being on the cover of the video game WWE ’13 which was well reviewed, he made numerous media appearances (a number of which were about his entertaining short-lived Twitter feud with Chris Brown), he was the subject of a popular, critically praised DVD about his life and career in wrestling, and he’s dating Lita.  Despite his occasional dickishness on Twitter and in real-life (there was the unfortunate slugging of an innocent fan he wrongly thought was harassing him during the end of an episode of Raw which he later apologized for), he’s finally achieved the real-life professional respect he’s long sought and deserved.

For his part, Bryan was one of several WWE talents to appear on a funny wrestling-themed edition of The Soup and even though his own DVD was just a 90-minute single-disc cheapo compilation, in spite of its limitations and lack of a behind-the-scenes documentary, it nicely demonstrates just how quickly the former vegan has evolved in just two years on the main stage.

As Punk recovers from his successful surgery ending the year with the sixth longest WWE title reign in history and Bryan continues to declare, “I’m the tag team champions!” to an unconvinced Kane who feels he’s the only one worthy of that catchphrase, both men can take pride in the fact they proved all their doubters completely wrong.  They’re not the biggest nor the strongest men to ever step into that ring but they didn’t have to be.  Their mic skills (particularly their wit), their technical brilliance, their consistently good storytelling abilities are the reasons they can both lay claim, at least in 2012, to being The Best In The World.

Loser:  Clint Eastwood

It was a last-minute decision and for the millions who witnessed it, probably not a wise one at that.  When Clint Eastwood walked out on stage during the Republican National Convention in August and proceeded to have an improvised, rambling one-sided conversation with an empty chair that was meant to represent President Obama, it didn’t exactly go so well. 

The stunt led to many parodies and much derision, especially on Twitter.  Everyone from Jon Stewart to even the WWE had a field day with it.  Film critic Roger Ebert, on the other hand, found it incredibly sad.

Eastwood’s spontaneous presentation not only didn’t help Republican candidate Mitt Romney’s prospects for the American Presidency (he still lost despite Eastwood’s March 2012 endorsement (he originally didn’t support the former Governor) and his participation in a follow-up campaign ad), it also failed to get many people excited about his latest film, Trouble With The Curve, a baseball drama that divided critics and had a modest commercial run.

Speaking of movies, Eastwood’s J. Edgar, his late 2011 biopic about the notorious FBI director, was completely snubbed by the Academy Awards this year.  (Critics didn’t like it, either.)  And there wasn’t much positive press nor great ratings (just a million an episode) for Mrs. Eastwood & Company, the E! reality show that mostly focused on his blended family.  (The four-time Oscar winner only made a small number of cameos.)

Although the gravelly-voiced octogenerian actor/director received plenty of praise (except from paranoid conservatives) for his work in the widely seen two-minute It’s Halftime In America commercial about the revival of the Michigan auto industry which aired during The Super Bowl, it turns out he didn’t actually support the federal government’s bailout of said industry, tarnishing his credibility. 

Normally, with old age comes great wisdom.  In the case of 82-year-old Clint Eastwood, however, that’s just not the case.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Monday, December 10, 2012
3:00 a.m.

Published in: on December 10, 2012 at 3:00 am  Leave a Comment