Monthly Archives: March 2010

The greatest pro wrestlers of my childhood

So, WrestleMania was on Sunday, and I think it was like the 26th one of these extravaganzas to be held.

As a kid, I used to be super into the WWF and pro wrestling. My friends Marc, Andrew, David and I would fake-wrestle for hours, pretending to be Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka or Hulk Hogan or Tito Santana. Of course, the “fake” wrestling usually ended up in one of us getting hurt, but after a few minutes we’d be fine.  I even went to a few live wrestling cards as a kid;

I take it as a personal sign of pride that “Outlaw” Ron Bass once pointed at me and my friend Marc Goldberg in Madison Square Garden and told us to stop booing him. Ah, “Outlaw” Ron Bass. I wonder where he is now.

Anyway, since I love to think back upon my childhood, I’ve compiled a list of the Top 5 pro wrestlers of the 1980s. If you think I’m nuts for leaving so and so off the list, let me know.

And watch out for that steel chair behind you!

Top 5 Wrestlers of the 1980s: (Note, Hulk Hogan was not on this list because he was a truly horrible wrestler)

5. Rowdy Roddy Piper: I used to love when the bagpipes would start, the entire arena would turn around, and old Roddy would come strutting out through the curtains on his way to the ring. You loved him, you hated him, sometimes both. He smashed Jimmy Snuka over the head with coconuts and fought Hulk Hogan in the biggest wrestling match ever, at Wrestlemania I. That’s good enough for this list.

4. Greg “The Hammer” Valentine: Wildly underrated in my opinion, Valentine was vicious but effective. He was awesome in tag team action with Brutus Beefcake (the “Dream Team”), and he was a fantastic technical wrestler as well. Plus he had great “bad guy” mannerisms.

3. Bret Hart: What else can you say about a man who had an amazing career, despite never being the biggest, fastest, or smoothest? Hart, who gave me the phase “excellence in execution,” as well as many others, kicked butt as part of the Hart Foundation, then was terrific in WCW and the WWE on his own.

2. Randy “Macho Man’ Savage: There may not have been a cooler wrestler, ever. He had the shades, he had the flowing robes fit for some king from the 1600s, and of course he had the ultimate wrestling hottie, Miss Elizabeth. The flying elbow off the top rope was practiced by me and thousands of others in rec rooms across America in the 1980s. Plus, no one ever spit more when they were cutting a promo than Macho Man.

1. Ric Flair: There’s no debate about this, just like there’s no debate about who the greatest NBA player ever is. For four decades the “Nature Boy” has been spectacular. He takes a beating, he bleeds like a champ, he’s the best interview I’ve ever seen in wrestling, and he got up and did it every damn day. Go back and watch his old matches with Kerry Von Erich and tell me he’s not the best, ever.

This promo from 1988 pretty much sums up the Nature Boy… Love the Herschel Walker and Dale Murphy references…

The black man in the White House hosts a Seder. And a Twitter feed worth you time

Well, I knew there’d be all kinds of firsts in this White House. But this one, I never saw coming.

With it being Passover this week, there are seders being held around the world, as Jews celebrate their heritage, eat matzoh, and see relatives we haven’t seen in a long time.

And at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, home of the first African-American President, there was a seder, too.

Last I checked, Barack and Michelle Obama don’t go to synagogue, nor are they Jewish. But it’s a cool story about how they came to have a seder at the White House. (I wonder if Sasha or Malia found the hidden afikomen this year).

Check out the details from the New York Times here.

**So I’m not really into the whole Twitter thing. Frankly, I think Facebook updates, and this blog, are as far as my friends and family need to go with the minutiae of my life. What would I tweet? “Went to Walgreens tonite, noticed they had Tostitos on sale. Mmmm.” Thrilling.

Fact is, most Twitter feeds are boring. But I found a very useful and interesting one. It’s called Long Reads, and it links to some of the best long-form journalism in newspapers and magazines out there. Long stories are allegedly a dying art since no one has time to read them anymore, except in study after study it’s been shown that people on newspaper sites often click on the lengthiest stories the most.

Anyway, just in the last week on I’ve found a funny Playboy interview with Sarah Silverman, a great Washington Post story about a Muslim-American soldier and his adventures in the wake of the Fort Hood shooting, and a cool GQ story about the CIA.

Check it out if you have time.

Duke! Invisibility cloaks! And a little “Love Boat” music.

Good morning all. as you read this I’m probably on my way to Port Canaveral, Fla., humming The Love Boat theme (man I loved that show. The guest star lists were so random; it was always like, Fred Dryer, Charo, and McLean Stevenson).

My wife and I are going on a cruise for the first time together, a four-day excursion to the Bahamas. It’s my first-ever cruise, so I’m totally pumped. Sure, the weather forecast for the Bahamas this week is crappy, but I’m not letting that get me down. I’m going to eat, eat, eat some more, and do some para-sailing. I’m very much looking forward to disconnecting from the world for a few days: No phone, no Internet, nothing.

But fear not, loyal readers: My beloved blog assistant/father will be posting a few things I had written for a rainy day. Dad, this is is your chance to tell any embarrassing stories from my childhood you think the world should know. But remember, the police know the truth!

Have a great week.

So, I know lots of people hate Duke. And I understand it to a degree. People hate winners. But you know, Duke hasn’t won anything in a while, so I was beyond excited Sunday night.

Thanks to Jon Scheyer finding his jump shot, Lance Thomas rebounding like a man possessed, and everyone who played chipping in a little bit, the Blue Devils are going back to the Final Four. Phenomenal win over Baylor, a really good team who scared the hell out of me.

It looked bleak for a while, as LaceDarius Dunn and Tweety Carter (and come on, LaceDarius? What kind of a name is that?) were bombing 3-pointers.

But Duke came back in the second half and got it done. Huge props to Nolan Smith for his career-high 28 points, and Brian Zoubek played well before fouling out, and Scheyer, the leader, came up huge.

**Quite an interesting Final Four, I think. Butler, the hometown team and the little guy in field. Michigan State, who get to the Final Four for the sixth time in 12 years, a mind-blowing accomplishment for Tom Izzo. West Virginia, which hasn’t been there since 1959 and plays hellacious defense. And a Duke team most people still underestimate. Should be a lot of fun.

**Finally, this is one of those stories I can’t believe is really true. But remember the “invisibility cloaks” in the Harry Potter movies, where Harry and his friends could go from room to room undetected?

Well, apparently German scientists have created a 3-D cloak that can hide objects by bending light waves.

This is way too complicated for me to explain; go here for the details. But how cool would this be in real life? All those times you want to know what people are saying about you in the other room? Now you can! When I was younger this was the power I wanted most in life, and now it might be possible.

God bless science.

The tiny cracks of change seep through. Kentucky loses. And the scariest ballpark food ever

I’m fascinated by the tiny steps people and groups in our society take toward progress and change. Of course the big steps are interesting, too, but I think, really, it’s the small things that change the world just a little bit.

So I found this story really interesting. Goshen College is a small Mennonite school in Indiana. For the entire history of the school’s athletics programs, the Star-Spangled Banner was not played before games. The church believed it wasn’t appropriate, and glorified things like nationalism.

But last week, before a baseball doubleheader, the national anthem was played. There were protests by a few, but for most of the school, which is half non-Mennonite, it was a step toward normalcy.

***So glad to see the smug and ethics-less John Calipari go down in flames Saturday night against West Virginia. I hate WVU coach Bob Huggins too, for many of the same reasons I loathe Calipari. But in the battle of two evils, the lesser evil won out. Kentucky fans must be going out of their minds right now. It’s great.

John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, Eric Bledsoe, I hope you enjoyed college. All three are going to be gone to the NBA next year.

And how ’bout Butler? What a fantastic job by the tiny school from Indiana, getting to the Final Four.

Of course, I’m worried about Duke today against Baylor. My Blue Devils shot awfully poorly against Purdue, and Baylor’s guards are very, very good. Jon Scheyer, we need you again today.

Come on Dukies, one win away from the Final Four!

**So I thought the Western Michigan Whitecaps, a minor-league baseball team, had topped themselves in the disgusting but delightful ballpark food category last year, when they created the 4,800 calorie Fifth Third burger.

But now the Whitecaps are back, bigger and better than ever. They’ve now created the Cudighi Yooper Sandwich, which is a “spicy sausage patty smothered in cheese, pizza sauce, peppers and onions.”

Yummy. And then, in case you  are still hungry, they’re also going to be selling the “Declaration of Indigestion,” which is “a half-pound foot long hot dog covered in a Philly cheese steak (steak, cheese, peppers and onions) and served on a gigantic sub roll.”

You might be saying yuck. But I guarantee you if I lived in Western Michigan I’d try one of those babies. I’d spend the next three days with a stomachache, but hey, no pain no gain.

An uplifting story of a stranger’s kindness. And Duke survives (barely)

A heartwarming story for your Saturday reading …

A man named Dan Coyne in Chicago had inquired about a cashier at the grocery store he shopped in. The cashier, Myra de la Vega, said she had been ill recently, having been diagnosed with renal failure and in need of a new kidney.

So Coyne offered his, and Friday, this man who only knew her from the grocery store donated his kidney to help save and preserve his life.

It’s a beautiful story of human unselfishness, and it’s just a small reminder of the miracles that happen every day in this world.

***Whew. Still a little drained from that Duke-Purdue game late Friday night. Absolutely brutal first half by my Blue Devils, but they got it together in the second half, shot MUCH better, and slowly pulled away.

Couple thing on this game: 1, This is absolutely a game Duke would’ve lost the last few years. This year’s team is tougher and bigger. 2, Jon Scheyer still couldn’t hit an outside shot, but he found a way to score, driving and willing his way to the basket. Loved Nolan Smith in the second half, and Kyle Singler the whole game.

Still, an atrocious first half. And Baylor looked really, really good in the first game. Duke-Baylor Sunday at 5 p.m. Commence worrying now.

Also, how good is Michigan State? Tremendous win for them over the last Cinderella left in the tournament, Northern Iowa.

Urban Meyer, another bullying football coach. And names you’re glad you don’t have

**If you’re an NCAA Tournament junkie like me, follow my live blog tonight

starting at 7 here.

Of all the things I hate about sports, one of my biggest annoyances is the absolute bullies disguised as college football coaches.

That’s all a lot of these guys are: they get their way with everyone at their school, and they think their you know what doesn’t stink. They push, shove and demand they get their way, and they think they can treat other adults the same way they treat their 19-year-old players.

Florida’s Urban Meyer is a prime example. A few days ago, an Orlando Sentinel reporter named Jeremy Fowler wrote a story about the team’s new QB, John Brantley, and how he differs from the graduated (and already legendary) Tim Tebow.

Without going into all the details, Meyer wasn’t happy with how Fowler portrayed one of his player’s quotes, in the story.

So does Meyer take the reporter aside and talk to him? No. Does he issue a statement defending his player? no.

What Meyer does, because he’s a bully like so many of these guys, is decide to publicly confront and try to humiliate Fowler after practice Wednesday.

Ridiculous. And so typical of college football coach behavior.

**So I’ve never been a big fan of my name. Too common, too many other people have it, etc. My wife and I often joke that we have the two most common names of kids in the 70s, and that our parents were pretty boring in that way.

Well, sometimes you feel fortunate. Check out these people who have changed their names from their original birth monikers. Hey, how would you feel if your name was John Pearce Dick, or William Doody?

Talking some TV: Two great Showtime shows return, Parenthood rules, and Reggie Miller vs. the Knicks

**If you’re an NCAA Tournament junkie like me, follow my live blog tonight

starting at 7 here.

So I know Showtime has always been the poor, neglected stepkid compared to HBO, but in the last few years, if you haven’t noticed, Showtime has totally been kicking HBO’s butt with quality shows.

It started with “Weeds,” and then “Dexter” and “Californication,” and last season I discovered two awesome and totally subversive programs that Showtime started airing.

Lucky for me, they both started Season 2 on Monday. “United States of Tara,” starring the fabulous Toni Collette as Tara, is about a woman with multiple personality disorder and her attempts to cope with life. She’s marrying to Aidan from “Sex in the City” (John Corbett), and they have two delightfully weird kids, the out-there gay Marshall and the blonde, sarcastic Kate.

Then there’s Tara’s  crazy sister, too. The show does take a serious disorder and make it funny, but it’s brilliantly wicked and it does have some serious moments. Highly, highly recommend.

“Nurse Jackie” started back up this week, too. It’s also terrific. Edie Falco is a totally different woman from Carmela Soprano; she’s an ER nurse who was cheating on her husband with a pharmacist. There’s the usual weird cast of characters (though they seemed to have dropped the gay male black nurse this year, which is a shame), but this is totally Edie Falco’s show.

“Nurse Jackie” isn’t as good as “Tara,” but it’s still pretty damn entertaining. If you have Showtime, check them out. If you don’t, well, it’s worth the 8 bucks a month just for these two shows.

**So “Parenthood” continues to get better and better, as does “Modern Family.” Watched both Wednesday night; I’m so glad “Parenthood” is starting to give its characters dimensions and layers, though Craig T. Nelson still seems to have nothing do do as the Grandpa. I love that Adam Braverman and his wife break into their daughter’s laptop, then go over to her secret boyfriend’s house.

They’re doing a really good job with Erika Christensen’s character; the totally conflicted working mom, but Lauren Graham’s Sarah is kind of over the top. I want her barista boyfriend to come back.

Anyway, I thought this week’s episode was the best one yet, especially when so many people keep trying to talk to the teenage boy and his “showering” problem.

I SO don’t miss being a male teenager.

***Finally, ESPN’s 30 for 30 series has picked back up again, and picked up right where it left off in being awesome. Last week was the premiere of “Winning Time: Reggie Miller vs. the New York Knicks.”

As fantastic as I remember those playoff wars between the Knicks and Mr. Alien (Miller) were, the movie brings the feelings back even stronger. Really well-done film, with great interviews and memories from all the key players.

Couple thoughts after watching the movie:

1, Spike Lee really was a perfect foil for Miller.

2. Anthony Mason was truly one of the dumbest basketball players of all time. Seriously.

3. Mark Jackson had the funniest stuff in the movie, talking about how he used to fire Miller up by telling him all the terrible things the NY media was saying about him. Also, Mark Jackson was a damn good player, and I tend to forget that.

4. Patrick Ewing = choker. Always will.

Anyway, it’s a terrific movie, running on ESPN and all its 47 channels throughout the month.

If you’re a Knicks fan, here’s a nice little memory (ha).

The Texas school board is bat-shit crazy, VP Joey B entertains again, and Rove gets slammed

I make fun of the state of Florida on here a lot  because A, I live here, and 2, because it’s just such a bizarre place.

But as odd as the Sunshine State is, I’ll still venture to say that Texas is a wackier place. By a country mile. (I always liked that expression, even though I never lived in the country.)

You may have heard about this, but if not, I’m here to tell you that the schoolchildren of Texas are in for an awfully rude awakening when they get their new textbooks.

Last week the Texas Board of Education voted to significantly change the school curriculum. Some of the things they are modifying are reducing the scope of teaching Latin history (because hey, only white people’s history is important, right?), a more positive showing of Cold War anticommunism in the 1950s (that Joe McCarthy fellow was right to accuse every American of being a Russki sympathizer! They all just lied to Congress back then!), and my personal favorite, de-emphasizing Thomas Jefferson and his writings.

Let that sink in for a moment. THOMAS JEFFERSON! One of the most important men in the history of the world, guy who wrote that little piece called the Declaration of Independence, is not going to be given prominence in Texas history books.

Why, you ask? Easy. He helped draft that little “separation of church and state” thing that’s still the law of the land. And you see, in Texas, that’s not a real popular position.

What’s really scary is that Texas’ textbooks often filter over to other states with shortages, so it’s not just the loons of the Loon Star State whose kids will be affected by this.

De-emphasizing Thomas Jefferson. Un-by-god-believable.

Psst, hey Mexico, got a second? Want to get a rematch in that whole 19th century war thing with those guys?

**I’ve been wondering for a while who, exactly, Joe Biden is in this administration, and yep, it turns out he’s Fredo Corleone. He’s the lovable guy who can’t help screwing up, and yet he never curbs his behavior or stops being the guy he always is.

And we can’t help loving him. Tuesday’ ole’ Joe was at it again, saying the F word with a thousand microphones around at President Obama’s health care reform press conference. Ah, Joe.

**Finally, Karl Rove is a desperate man. Desperate to be paid attention to. Desperate for people not to notice that all he and his party stand for now is obstructionism, and extreme point of views not shared by intelligent Americans.

Watch as David Plouffe, Obama’s adviser (and a Delaware graduate like me!) calmly points out how out of touch and out of step Rove and his GOP buddies are. I was delighted by this clip:

Health care and the wingnuts. “Big Bang” rules again. And a debate about private clubs

Have to tell you, I’ve really been enjoying the hysterics of the wingnut-osophere today in the 24 hours after the health care bill finally passed.

I mean, Republicans are losing their damn minds. Screaming, ranting, raving, hyperventilating about the end of civilization as we know it, this is horrible, government running our lives, etc.

And my friends on the left are breathless, hailing this as a magnificent feat, a legislative triumph. (My mother, who used to be a calm, rational person, is so wrapped up in supporting universal health care that she rolled her window down the other day and yelled at a man protesting health care. My wife doesn’t believe me, but I swear, my mother used to be pretty apathetic about politics).

Anyway, call me wishy-washy, but as pleased as I am that President Obama showed some spine and Democrats finally got something done, I’m still waiting to see how the rest plays out before I leap up and down on a trampoline. I want to see if the public option gets put in.

I want to see just how many people are covered, and how soon that coverage will start. I feel like the bill will still be tweaked and changed a bit, so let’s see how that goes first.

In the meantime, it was fun to watch those GOP fellas go nuts. Including Mitt Romney, who blasted the bill even though it’s basically what he passed as Governor of Massachussetts.

Ah, Mitt. Here’s a little Mitt pandering for you:

**Once again “The Big Bang Theory” brought the goods Monday night. 3 or 4 fantastic, laugh-out loud lines every week, and I’ll say it again: If you’re not watching this show, you’re missing something awesome.

My favorite line from Monday’s epsiode: Raj: “Indian meditation really helped me overcome my fears.”

Sheldon: “But you still can’t speak when there are women in the room.”

Raj: “Yes, but now I can be in the same room with them without urinating.”

**OK, so I mentioned yesterday that I had a wedding at a pretty interesting place in Philadelphia on Saturday, the Inn at the Union League. It was part museum, part hotel, part private club.

One of the things that creeped me out, besides the usual portraits of old men on the wall, was that in the room where the cocktail hour was held, there were all these presidential paintings hanging above us. So I looked around, and I saw Dwight Eisenhower, Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, and both Bushes. It took me a few seconds, and then I realized that it was intentional that they were all Republicans. No Carter, no Clinton, and certainly no Obama.

Later, that got me to thinking about private clubs like this. Of course they have the right to exist, and keep out whoever they want. But patronizing them and attending events they sponsor would bother me greatly.

Somehow, when talking about this with my wife, we got around to comparing it to how Augusta National Golf Club doesn’t admit women, and that gets protested, while private clubs who exclude African-Americans/Jews/women don’t.

She said it’s because The Masters is a huge public event televised by CBS, and by showing the tournament, CBS tacitly endorses the chauvinistic attitude of Augusta National, and that all the protests should go toward CBS.

I don’t know, I think it’s a distinction without a difference. Bigtory and intolerance are unacceptable whereever they’re found, whether it’s publicized or not.

A travel nightmare that all worked out OK. Health care. And 4 days in, what an amazing Tournament

**Hello dear readers, am typing this at an obscenely late hour Sunday night. Sorry for the inconsistent blogging the last few days, my wife and I were in the wonderful city of Philadelphia for the weekend at the wedding of Sarah and Andrew (much, much more on that to come in succeeding days; wait until I tell you about the oddness that was the hotel we stayed at having only pictures of Republican presidents hanging on the walls).

Anyway, couple quick thoughts before I go off to bed, but I will blog more tomorrow.

— Southwest, I love ya. You know I do. But 3 1/2 hours stuck in N.C. on our layover, because our plane had mechanical difficulties? Oy, not good. On the plus side, I got to watch the Duke game in an airport bar, when I was totally expecting to miss it due to our previous flight sked.

— Have to say, having been there many times in college but not so much since, Philly is one of my favorite American cities. So much to do there, so many different types of people and experiences, and oh yeah, kick-ass cheesesteaks. I had my first authentic cheesesteak in Philly in about a decade on Saturday, and it was as good as I remembered.

— Tremendous experience as an American visiting the Liberty Bell and the Old Congress Hall, places I saw as a kid but couldn’t appreciate.

— God bless March Madness on Demand, and thank you, CBS, for giving us an outlet to watch ALL the NCAA Tournament games even when our local station is not showing the game we want.

— Kansas lost. That really happened, right? I haven’t been this stunned by a sporting event’s result since Hickory beat South Bend Central in “Hoosiers.” Stunning. To Northern Iowa? And can someone explain to me, please, how a kid named Ali Farokhmanesh is white?

The health care bill passed. Finally. I’m very pleased. Now can we move on to some of the 412 other problems this country has right now? Education reform, global warming, immigration, stem cell research, I mean, it’s not like we’re lacking for problems.

I’m just so sick of talking and thinking about health care.

Amazing, amazing first four days of the NCAA Tournament. From the opening game with BYU-Florida going to double OT, to the last game of the second round, when Purdue got a driving layup in OT to beat Texas A&M, it was four days of sheer awesomeness.

And my Duke boys looked really, really good Sunday. Two away from the Final Four. Can’t wait till more games start Thursday.