“The Grandest Stage Of Them All.”


We are less than two weeks away from one of the most highly anticipated wrestling events in history. That’s right folks, Wrestlemania 29 is directly around the corner and what an event it is shaping up to be. The following blog is going to look at the three main event matches for the show, and what is to be expected from them. Any of the three matches could easily main event any other pay-per-view of the year so it is just an added bonus for us fans that we get to witness them, in the same place, on the grandest stage of them all.

Triple H vs Brock Lesnar:
Stipulation – No Holds Barred Match. Should Triple lose he must retire.

This epic encounter is the first of two rematches on the card and boy, oh, boy is it personal. Brock Lesnar is the youngest ever WWE Champion, he came, he conquered and he left to rule the world. At 6 ft 3 in it is hard to imagine Brock Lesnar as one of the most athletic and gifted people in the company….but that’s exactly what he is. The former NCAA Champion went to the UFC to test his hand at Mixed Martial Arts and became the UFC World Heavyweight Champion. However after a near death disease, Lesnar retired from the UFC and made his return to one of the biggest ovations ever received  in recent memory. The reaction can still send a shiver down your spine.

Lesnar caused absolute havoc upon returning to the WWE, so much so that it boiled down to a fight between Triple H and “The Next Big Thing” at Summerslam. Lesnar dominated the match with his ultra new wrestling style, influenced by the UFC and won the match by “breaking” Triple H’s arm with a kimura lock. And now we are set to do battle again. Hold onto your hats folks because this one is going to be brutal. I expect fisticuffs, chairs, sledgehammers….and if the Gods are good come April 7th we might even witness some blood. Lesnar has not had the most immaculate record since returning to the squared circle, not that his bothered. My heart tells me that I would love to see Brock Lesnar come to New Jersey and absolutely destroy Triple H, thus ending his career……however, the stipulation with Triple H’s career on the line was only added to put doubt in our minds. Unfortunately Triple H will walk out victorious, but not before Lesnar hands him the ass-whooping of a lifetime. This match should exceed expectations, but it will not be the show stealer. Well, Here Comes The Pain.
Winner: Triple H
Expectation: ****

The Rock vs John Cena
Stipulation – WWE Championship Match.  

Oh yeah…..The Rock vs John Cena…..Once In A Lifetime……Part Two…..cause that makes sense. Vince McMahon and the WWE absolutely cleaned up at Wrestlemania 28 and so, the dollar signs flashed in front of their eyes when they decided to roll with our second rematch of the night. Don’t get me wrong, these two completely lived up to and somehow exceeded expectations last year in the main event. A year long build to the match pitted two icons of their generations against one another with The Rock coming out on top. (See “Once In A Lifetime” blog post). This year doesn’t have as much build unfortunately, and i cannot see either man living up to the standard set by last years match…not that it was 5 stars or anything. In any case, even though I’m certainly not a John Cena fan by any means, I truly hope he comes out on top in this encounter. He is, of course expected to reclaim his victory from last year. my reasoning for this is quite simple. The Rock is no longer a professional wrestler…he is an actor. And he is full to the brim of steroids, yeah we know Dwayne. The Rock recently ended CM Punk’s historic 434 day reign as the WWE Champion. The hierarchy decided to give him the strap with the idea that Rock would promote the company while doing press for his latest movies. HOWEVER, in his last 3 interviews, The Rock has not brought the belt, and has not even hinted that he is a part of the WWE. I can’t believe i’m saying this, but i’m rooting for Cena. Unfortunately i expect this match to go on last which is a damn shame because it will most certainly not be the match of the night. WWE has to have some sense to not put this on last….because the crowd might just be drained.
Winner: John Cena
Expectation: ***

CM Punk vs The Undertaker
Stipulation: The Streak is on the line.

 This match-up right here is your fight of the night, and the chances are very high that this will be the match of the year. CM Punk has just come off the greatest year of his wrestling career. He is one of the greatest wrestlers in the world at the moment covering all aspects. And he goes one-on-one with The Phenom. The Undertaker is one of the greatest wrestlers in the history of the sport. The man is 20-0 at Wrestlemania, UNDEFEATED for 20 years at Wrestlemania. That is special. For the last 4 years at Mania The Undertaker has stole the show with his opponents putting on a 5 star match everytime. And so, these two are expected to deliver…huge! 2 weeks ago The Undertaker’s scripted father and long time friend Paul Bearer sadly passed away. This has been added to the intense rivalry between both men, adding serious fuel to the fire. This match could have been one of the greatest in Wrestlemania history. had it not been the ego of a certain movie star/professional wrestler we could have witnessed a streak vs streak match where the unpredictablity would have been insane. However, as much as my heart wants CM Punk to end the Streak, of course my head says otherwise. Who the hell is going to end the streak, if anybody? However, who deserves to end it most also needs to be asked…..and that man….is CM Punk. I’m going with my heart here. WWE loves to throw a curveball at Wrestlemania, and with the two highly predictable encounters previously discussed, perhaps Mania ends in the most shocking and huge way possible. It would be one for the ages….remembered forever…and would catapult Punk into wrestling history….imagine it now…the dust settles….the smoke clears……Living Colour sounds out around the stadium…and CM Punk stands over a fallen legend…….20-1.

Winner: CM Punk
Expection: THROUGH THE ROOF!!!!

The King Has Returned.

Step aside Ed Sheeran. Bruno Mars, get back in your box. Bieber? Please! Justin Timberlake is back………and by God he is better than ever!

After a six year hiatus where the Sexy Back star turned his attention to Hollywood and movies, the “Trousersnake” has now returned to reclaim his place as “The King of Pop.” Many people wondered if he would ever return to the music scene, with JT stating that he would only return to the studio if the material felt right. The man has packed more unpredictable brilliance into his career than any other person on the planet. In 2006 he released the absolutely unbelievable album FutureSex/LoveSounds which was almost impossible to classify in any one genre. That album went to number in both the UK and the US showcasing how great the album was.

And then…………….he left us……………..abandoned……………in the dark………..with only the memories of this once great album to keep us warm at night.

So what is the downside to retiring at your peak? What is the downside to retiring after just putting out an insane album? It puts even more pressure on those shoulders for the inevitable comeback, that’s what! And that brings us to 2013….and The 20/20 Experience. I must say, i had my reservations regarding this album, I feared the worst for JT. When Timberlake made his return this year on the Grammys, dressed in dapper, Sinatra-styled attire, crooning his soulfully smooth new single, Suit and Tie in front of a swinging big-band, it was a tiny bit of a letdown. I was one of the majority who expected so much more from him. But the more I listened to the new single, the more it grew on me. I realized that JT wasn’t gonna go back to the old style…he was reinventing himself yet again and giving us this brand new, unique style of performance. Like FutureSex before it, the deceptively weird The 20/20 Experience works best as an immersive sonic journey. This is one of the best albums I’ve listened to in a long time. Each track stretches out to an average of seven minutes—crammed with instrumental breaks, interludes, codas and climaxes. Ryan Reed notes how “Timberlake is in fine vocal form throughout, whether he’s exploring his warmest lower register or (more frequently) doling out melismatic falsetto runs. But the biggest revelation is Timbaland’s production. These tracks are as wildly futuristic as anything else on his resume, but also more organic—strings, horns, pianos and bass guitar layered with genre-melting beats and left-field samples.” Trust me folks, this is one album you don’t want to miss out on. This is JT at his innovative best, and with the news that a second helping is due out later this year, it is evident that the king has returned. Why not give “Mirrors” a listen….it’s awesome! It is almost impossible to dislike Timberlake……..and nobody can go as far as to hate him………can they?

“The Capitol Wasteland.”

Back in early February we had the pleasure to listen to Dan Cordle from Nottingham Trent University, give us a guest lecture on the “Domestic Spaces in Cold War American Fiction.” Honestly, two hours was not enough time dedicated to this particular lecture which I found remarkably fascinating. I can not say that I have read too many science fiction novels in my time (I leave that up to one of my classmates) but I did have the opportunity to read three great extracts which dealt with the science fiction genre. And although some of the action was oddly weird, I was ok with that. Weird just comes with the territory that is science fiction. For the entire two hours we spent discussing some of the paranoia surrounding 1950s fiction I couldn’t help but think of the video game Fallout 3, which even received an honorable mention during our discussions. The following blog will focus on that particular video game, simply because after class that day, it managed to take up a further hour and a half of precious study time. Why not put that to use?

 Fallout 3 takes place in the year 2277, 200 years after a war over resources that ended in a nuclear holocaust in 2077. Much of 1950s American science fiction dealt with this paranoia regarding the family, and fears of atomic/nuclear bombs.The game is set in the ‘Capitol Wasteland’ (essentially Washington D.C.), where the descendants of the survivors of the Great War now live in small settlements, in a post-apocalyptic, retro-future. The majority of the people were killed during the nuclear holocaust and the Wasteland is now little more than a barren land nearly devoid of healthy water, food, plant and animal life due to the extreme radiation levels. We begin our journey in Vault 101, where the inhabitants believe they were originally born, but soon, the player ventures out into the Capitol Wasteland to face its many dangers. The game itself is absolutely beautiful, in a weird, everybody is dead sort of a way. You get radiation poisoning from being out in the open, or for stepping in radiated pools of water, some people are mutated to form Super Mutants, others have become Feral Ghouls and there’s also a high number of mutated species. The fun of it is all these simply want to kill you for fun…or for food. I’m not entirely sure what happened my body when I died. And hey it’s not just the mutated creatures who are out for blood – it wouldn’t be a post-apocalyptic world without mercenaries and raiders right? Right, and that’s what makes this game such a marvel. Need some food? Steal it, need some stimpaks? Buy them with your collected bottlecaps. Someone is always willing to buy stuff. Because the game takes place following a nuclear war, cultural advancements have stagnated and, as a result, the game contains a 1950s utopian theme as evidenced in-game through posters and billboards with music from the time period, which further adds to the beauty of the in-game experience.

I don’t want to get too much into the storyline because there is simply so much to do in this game. It really is phenomenal. The general story is basic to many post-apocalyptic stories, in that there is an evident desire among scientists to make things right. In this case, the idea is based around ‘Project Purity.’ An idea sparked by the characters parents to purify the water. However, where is the fun in a game based around attempting to complete your parents goal of purifying water? Therefore, you get to equip yourself with many types of weapons, get your attributes up and become a post-apocalyptic badass. Trust me, it’s quite fun!  Who doesn’t want to blow up a filthy Super Mutant with a laser rifle at least once in their life right? The player also becomes embroiled in a bitter feud between the Brotherhood of Steel and The Enclave, two powerful military organisations, with some kick-ass futuristic weapons and armor. The game doesn’t limit you in your decisions. The first time I completed it, apparently I was “very evil.” Nobody wanted anything to do with me, and that’s cool. Depending on your status, characters will sometimes accompany you. I was too rogue for that. The ending of the game also ties into this status. You are informed that the purifier is ready to be activated, but the activation code must be input manually, and also that the control room is flooded with lethal amounts of radiation. You are forced to choose between sending Sarah Lyons of the Brotherhood inside the extremely irradiated purifier or entering yourself. However, whoever enters the chamber will not be leaving. I completely played into the fact I was very evil, and let Sarah do it as I walked off into the sunset as the badass I was. But that decision lies purely on your shoulders in this masterful game.

It is clear that the game taps into the anxieties of 1950s America regarding nuclear war. For a brief period of time in the game we are even transported back into the suburban 1950s home by means of virtual reality. Fallout 3 received critical acclaim from many reviewers, with an average GameRankings score of 92.79% for the Xbox 360, 90.69% for the PC and 90.60% for the PlayStation 3. IGN ranks the game as 9.6 out of 10, stating that it is amazing. If you’ve played the game you’ll know it’s great, if not, then get out there and get it.

Django Unchained and the Subversion of Stereotypes.

Django Unchained Cinematic Poster

This blog is going to look at Quentin Tarantino’s latest film Django Unchained and how certain ideas from the film subvert stereotypes. I’m sure everyone has heard the name Tarantino at some point in their lives….and with good reason. The man is a cinematic genius who is known for giving us great movies such as Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, Jackie Brown, Kill Bill and Inglorious Basterds. Because of this, much hype surrounded the release of Django Unchained, and it certainly delivered.

My idea for this topic came about shortly after we discussed The America Play by Suzan-Lori Parks in my American Literature and Film MA class. The America Play is very interesting in that there is a clear subversion of racial stereotype present in the text. This can be seen through the character of ‘The Foundling Father’, who continuously performs the role of Abraham Lincoln, and in particular, Lincoln’s assassination. He is able to do this because of his uncanny likeness to the former president. The play subverts ideas basing a coloured man as Abraham Lincoln and so in this case, the character of Django can be directly linked to ‘The Foundling Father.’

Django Unchained is set in 1858, in the South of America two years before the civil war. Now the hero of the movie starts out as a black slave and so, the obvious subversion in this film is the character of Django (portrayed quite well by Jamie Foxx.) The idea of a black man starring as the hero of a Western movie is quite unexpected and it allows Tarantino to play with this idea and the character. Django is bought by a German bounty hunter, Dr. King Schultz. Schultz is portrayed in spectacular fashion by actor Christoph Waltz, who received an academy award for Best Supporting Actor. Schultz partners with Django and has agreed to help him track down his wife. This is where Tarantino begins to turn things on its head, as many of the characters, both black and white, have trouble coming to terms with Django’s position on top of a horse, and not chained behind it.

Schultz: “Why is everyone staring?”
Django: “They ain’t never seen a nigger on a horse.”

In the character of Django, Tarantino creates an audacious hero who shoots white slavers and somehow manages to live to tell the tale. Django takes the entire business of emancipation into his own hands in true Western form. I think that it is impossible to overlook the character of Django for what he represents. In a Western movie, draped with themes of slavery, he is a slap in the face to the stereotypical black field slave with quotes like, “I like the way you die, boy.” In an article posted by Jelani Cobb for the New Yorker he notes that;
“In the Harlem theatre where I saw the film the largely black audience cheered each time an overseer met his end.”
In what is a truly great quote, this reaction showcases how the film has connected with a large audience on an emotional basis. This is especially significant considering that it is Django, a former slave who is inflicting this death upon the whites. I have looked at the violent side of Django who is hell bent on getting his wife back at any cost. But the character is also quite smart. Django can read, at least to some degree, and when he is asked to play a role/character he does so to great effect. he also picks on things very quickly.

Schultz: “Positive?”
Django: “I don’t know.”
Schultz: “You don’t know if you’re positive?”
Django: “I don’t know what positive mean.”
Schultz: “It means you’re sure.”
Django: “YES!”
Schultz: “Yes, what?”
Django: “Yes, i’m sure it is Ellis Brittle. I’m positive he dead.

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Django’s intelligence becomes quite important as he is able to successfully outsmart three white men who portray the slave drivers. Django is able to convince the slave drivers that he is a bounty hunter. The men foolishly release him and they meet a very swift demise at the hands of Django. Tarantino continues to flip the stereotype of African Americans with Django’s rise to power. His intelligence plays a key part in the subversion of racial stereotype. The idea of a black man outsmarting the slave drivers would have been seen as outrageous by a 19th Century audience but it ties in perfectly here. And it is not just the slave driver that Django is able to fool. He continuously outsmarts the white characters of the film, so much so that he is able to kill a countless amount in a bloodbath.

Leonardo DiCaprio described his own character, Calvin Candie, as someone who “was rotting from the inside.” Calvin Candie is the slaveholder who subjects Django’s wife to cruel punishments. Many critics have accused Tarantino of reinforcing white supremacist myth that blacks did not resist, by virtue of the character of Candie. They point especially to Candie’s climatic dining room speech. Many feel that Calvin Candie is the film’s true villain, however others argue, and I agree, that it is Stephen who must be viewed as the ultimate villain. Django’s true nemesis is the character of Stephen, the house slave completely loyal to his master. Jelani Cobb argues that;

“The central conflict is not between an ex-slave and a slaver but between two archetypes – the militant and the sell-out.”

While Django is able to successfully invert the myth of the black slave, so too is Stephen. His entire persona is a clever ruse aimed at manipulating his master. It is Stephen, not Candie, who possesses the intelligence to act as the master. Stephen’s ability to act as master is highlighted best in the following picture, where he is sitting in Candie’s chair, hauntingly swirling the whisky in his glass.

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Candie’s reaction to this moment is non-existent, suggesting that this is quite a regular occurrence. Stephen plays Candie like a puppet and so Tarantino has completely inverted the stereotype whereby the slave has become the master, and the master has become the slave. Katie Grimes notes how;

“Neo-confederate mythology says: blacks needed white guidance and protection.”

However in Django Unchained it is Stephen who protects and guides Candie. Stephen is not the happy-go-lucky family house slave that we as an audience are so used to seeing. He is the ultimate villain – vindictive, smart, intimidating but loyal. He is the complete anti-thesis to Django’s hero, further establishing how the movie subverts racial stereotypes.

The KKK first began to flourish in the late 1860s. Django is set in 1858/1859 and so the appearance of this group of Klansman is a very early version. Tarantino takes the complex history of the American South and slavery and he works it brilliantly. He involves the Ku Klux Klan, a decade prior to its actual formation in order to thoroughly ridicule its members’ veiled racism – literally.For the five or so minutes we spend watching the Klansman, about half of that time is spent arguing over being unable to see. Tarantino allows the audience to point their fingers at the group, and just laugh, again subverting stereotypes. While we will not see the original Klan as any less evil, nor their violence any less extensive, we get the opportunity to laugh at Tarantino’s Klansman. Tarantino employs two types of violence in the movie, the cartoonish and the realistic. The realistic violence expresses a harsh reality of the past. Tarantino uses this more realistic violence to dramatize the suffering endured by the slaves. He also employs a more caroonish violence throughout the movie. This type of violence strikes the audience as both impossible and funny, sometimes even both. When Django shoots Lara Lee at the end of the film, she is blown away in impossible fashion, but it is hilarious.

Django_Unchained2-CoverDenysCowan

In true Tarantino fashion, there is a free for all at the films climax with blood gushing everywhere. These techniques serve to remind the audience that this is not a slave documentary but Tarantino’s own take on a Western. There are elements of a Southern movie present but Tarantino glosses over these. Perhaps one of the better examples of this is the presence of the cotton balls. They serve to remind the audience of the plantations in the South but are soon draped in an overseers blood. Tarantino is known for often disconnecting words and images from what they have been associated with. In doing so, he ensures that metanarratives are not as authoritive as they once were. This is indeed a slap to the face of the critics who have accused him of overusing the word ‘nigger’. By creating a clever black hero and matching him with the equally clever Stephen and by also including the KKK, Tarantino subverts the myths and stereotypes that we as an audience are so used to witnessing in cinema.


Works Cited:
Cobb, Jelani. “Tarantino Unchained”, The New Yorker. 2 Jan 2013. Web.
Grimes, Katie. “The Movie ‘Django Unchained’ is not about slavery.” Women in Theology. 20 Feb 2013. Web.
Django Unchained. Dir. Quentin Tarantino. Perf. Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio and Samuel L. Jackson. The Weinstein Company. 2012. Film.

The Best In The World

“I’m a guy for all intents and purposes, NEVER should have made it to the WWE. I’ve had roadblock after roadblock after roadblock thrown in my way. But, not only did i get passed those roadblocks, i did it while flipping off the people who put up those roadblocks. I feel i have a responsibility to the younger wrestlers on the roster, the ones who aren’t signed yet, and the future of pro-wrestling as a whole to help make this place better and to change this place. I certainly can’t change it by sitting on my couch in Chicago.”

Every sport in the world, no matter where you go, has its stars. But with these stars, you also get the grinders, the guys who come from the obscure existence with nothing to show for themselves until a team from the big leagues ultimately takes a gamble on them. Look at Soccer, American Football, Rugby and you’ll know what i’m talking about. Professional Wrestling is no different in this respect and this blog is going to focus on the man, who is simply called, The Best In The World.

CM Punk, is a guy who hails from Chicago Illinois, and has always been a very hot topic for wrestling fans. He is THE internet darling and has been our champion for over 10 years but his star has only begun to resonate with the ‘other’ wrestling fans over the last years. I use the terms ‘our’ and ‘other’ lightly. Obviously we are all a wrestling family but it is the internet community who make up the majority of high intense passionate fans.

Humble Beginnings:
When he was still in high school he and his friends decided to create a make-shift federation in their back garden, complete with a DYI wrestling ring called the “Lunatic Wrestling Federation.” These guys were untrained friends and yet still drew higher crowds than the professionally trained outfit of PWI which was also based in Chicago. According to Punk, PWI would attract a crowd of “ten, fifteen, on a good night maybe thirty” while the untrained LWF would pull in crowds of up to two thousand people. All the local wrestlers hated these rebellious untrained guys so Punk decided he would go and get wrestling training. Punk began training under Ace Steele in the Steele Domain wrestling school with Steele quoted as saying “he was un-athletic and had lead in his ass. Punk’s strong point was connecting with the crowd.” Punk met best friend Colt Cobana in Steele Domain and the two traveled around Chicago and the mid-West putting on a great match always throwing in different elements to their matches establishing their names in the wrestling indy circuit. These are guys who spent hundreds of dollars travelling to their destination, sleeping in cars, and earning $50 a show. However, that is how these guys established themselves and got their names out there to the world. Punk began to have a rivalry on the indy circuit with Chris Hero. Hero stated that “you would never have to worry about a crowd getting into the match because he had such a polarizing personality, either you loved him or you hated him.” The two ended up having longer and longer matches which concluded with a 2 out of 3 falls, 90 minute time limit match. At twenty-three years of age (which is extremely young for Professional Wrestlers) CM Punk was already one of the best in the country. He garnered the nickname of “The King of the Indy’s.” Joey Mercury stated he had a reputation in the mid-West as “incredibly hard working, excellent on the microphone, fearless and unapologetically confident. I didn’t like him but i respected him. He was smug and arrogant. He wasn’t always the best in the world but he believed he was.”

The Legend Spreads:
Punk’s name had spread big time, and after only two years of wrestling he was picked up by  a new company, Ring Of Honor in 2002. This was a bigger stage for him, performing in front of more than 50 people a night like he had on the indy’s. By 2004, CM Punk became a major player doing good business and putting on absolutely amazing matches with Samoa Joe, who Punk stated he had “amazing chemistry” with. The bouts between Punk and Joe will go down in wrestling history as some of the greatest of all time and put ROH on the map. Punk became the face of ROH, even without holding the title, and so it was only a matter of time before the big name came calling. WWE offered him a contract, but Punk being Punk manipulated the situation into a phenomenal storyline for ROH, establishing himself further as one of the best ‘characters’ in wrestling with him legitimately signing his WWE contract on the ROH title in the middle of the ring – epic. Punk was sent to the WWE developmental area upon signing for the company with Paul Heyman stating that “he walked in with a real chip on shoulder, and he was pissed beyond belief that he had been relegated to the developmental area. Punk was the top guy for Ring of Honor. Nobody in WWE knew what to do with him. They just signed a guy who had a lot of buzz.”

The Call Up:
Punk finally got the call up to the main roster but it wasn’t to the flagship show of RAW or even the B-Show of Smackdown. Punk got called up to ECW with Paul Heyman saying Punk was his first draft pick from the developmental. Heyman wanted to let the fans know they were witnessing the birth of a new star on TV. It was known that Punk was not what WWE was looking for. He was signed because he had all the hype behind him from the internet. He was a not a typical WWE prototype from a size stature, with all his tattoo’s and scruffy look. He was not pictured as the poster boy of the WWE. When Paul Heyman left the WWE, Punk thought his days were also numbered, however he later went on to win the ECW Championship. Punk had a constant fight on his hands with the corporate side of the business however on the 30th June 2008 Punk cashed in the Money in the Bank briefcase and became the World Heavyweight Champion for the first time.He was ready to take on the world, however many in the company still didn’t see him as THE Champion (if that makes sense) and he wasn’t positioned as the guy. Eventually he was attacked by Randy Orton backstage and stripped of the title due to ‘injury’ but Punk said that it was “deflating and it sucked”….backstage politics determined he shouldn’t be the champion. His paranoia set in again that it wouldn’t be long before he was told goodbye. At Wrestlemania 25 Punk once again went on to win in the Money in the Bank briefcase and on June 29th 2009 he once again cashed in and became the World Heavyweight Champion, however, he was less than impressed and enthusiastic due to his first run.

Pissed off Punk:
You do not want a pissed off CM Punk. One day a creative member approached Punk with a sheet of paper and said i wrote your promo for you. This pissed the hell out of Punk and just to prove a point he ripped the sheet in front of the creative member and threw in the garbage. Michael Hayes stated that there “were a couple of times where he could be a real moody prick.” This was during Punk’s heel turn with friend Cabana stating the crabby side of Punk “was coming out on screen.” Punk was told backstage he was going to be dropping the title to the Undertaker, but that they didn’t know what direction they would be taking with him afterwards. This once again ticked the straight edge superstar off. However, even with Punk known as having a crappy attitude at times, there can be no denying how loyal the straight edge superstar is to his friends. Joey Mercury, the man who is quoted in this blog as stating he didn’t like him also stated how he:
“was released from the WWE in 2007 and had become close to CM Punk. I had a very serious drug and alcohol addiction and was rooming with a guy who is straight edge. He was really heartbroken and really wanted to help me. I got fired, and basically I fired myself because they tried to help me and I was beyond help at that point. Fast forward a year and half later, i’m starting to get sober for real this time and Punk was still in contact with me everyday. My house was in foreclosure, Punk said are you in trouble? And I said, yeah i’m gonna lose it. And Punk said no you’re not i’m gonna buy your house and Punk wrote me a cheque in the 6 figures to bail me out and buy my house. I don’t know if i’m his best friend but he’s mine for what he’s done for me.”
To cut a long story short, Punk had an absolutely great thing going with the Straight Edge Society with his friends. Fans jumped the guardrails to attack Punk which is exactly what he was after. He was hated by the fans so much that an old lady tried to attack him shouting “he would burn in hell for his sins.” He was the most hated man in the company from a fans point of view which is brilliant from a company point of view as Punk was portraying the vilian but WWE pulled the plug on the Straight Edge Society. It pissed Punk off to the point where he decided he was finished with the company. That was the last straw for him.
“I gave them chicken salad and they turned it into chicken sh*t.”

Pipebomb:
Punk’s contract was coming to an end and he said that he would like to see some change in the company. Michael Hayes one day told him that you have to play the hand you’re dealt, and Punk said no I don’t. I don’t have to play at all. A year before his contract was ending Punk told them he wasn’t resigning.

“I was tired, sick, mad, feeling repressed, upset crabby and wasn’t too much fun to be around.”

Kofi Kingston once said that it wasn’t about the money for Punk. He didn’t just want to come in and collect his paycheck like the majority of wrestlers, he wanted to be the top dog and he cared about the quality of wrestling. Daniel Bryan said Punk is the guy that wants to be in the 30+ minute match, he wants to be the guy people ask for advice and direction. In Las Vegas Nevada Punk walked into the Thomas and Mack Center with this being one of his last TV shows and one of the writers walked up to him and said “you’re gonna love this. They’re gonna give you a microphone and they want you to air your grievances.” June 27th 2011 live for the world to see, finally a star was born in the WWE. Finally CM Punk became the Best in the World in the eyes of the WWE community. Our Internet darling became an absolute hero on worldwide television. Cue July 17th 2011, the Money in the Bank pay-per-view in Chicago Illinois, CM Punk vs John Cena for the WWE Championship. At 12:00 that night CM Punk’s contract was up. Punk walked in as the bad guy but was cheered like he was a God. When he eventually WON, yes that is not a misprint, but when he won the match which was an absolute classic, the arena erupted into absolute pandemonium! Punk signed his new deal halfway through the Money in the Bank pay-per-view and that night became WWE Champion for the first time in his career. That summer set Punk up to be the absolute megastar that he is today. He is a three time World Heavyweight Champion and a two time WWE Champion. To put it into perspective of how much WWE now trusts the “King of the Indy’s”, CM Punk held the WWE Title for everyday in 2012. He has held the belt for over 430 days and long may it continue. He is 10th on the all time list of combined days as champion which is amazing considering he has only held the belt twice. His best friend Chez states that “he sacrificed everything. If you know him, you know better than to doubt him.” Tonight he faces The Rock at the Royal Rumble in a highly anticipated encounter, but it will be an absolute travesty if the Best in the World loses to the part time wrestler turned Hollywood actor.

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However, at the end of the day, there can be no denying that CM Punk is indeed, The Best in the World.

All quotes come from CM Punk ‘Best in the World” DVD.

The Mesa

 

 

800px-IslandInTheSky

Over the weekend I watched Quentin Tarantino’s new film, Django Unchained. Set on the Frontier in America in 1858, the film follows Django, a freed slave and Dr. King Schultz, a German Bounty Hunter. It carries strong performances from Foxx, Waltz, Jackson and DiCaprio and of course features a brief cameo from Tarantino. It is indeed, a great film but i’ll talk more about that next week. What I would like to get at though is the magnificent scenery used by Tarantino throughout the film to highlight the Frontier. While watching it I could not help but be reminded of Tom Outland and the great Mesa in Willa Cather’s novel The Professor’s House.

Neverland_map

 

When we first hear of Tom Outland for some reason I could not help but think he was some kind of Peter Pan type character. Yes, Peter Pan, now hear me out on this! I couldn’t shake the image in my head of this young Pan like man and as the novel progressed and we come to ‘Tom Outland’s Story’ that image of Pan only grew stronger. Tom felt a deep emotional connection to the Mesa in the same way Peter had with Neverland in J.M Barrie’s novel Peter and Wendy. I quite enjoyed ‘Tom Outland’s Story’ and felt it was the strongest part of the novel by Cather. It brought a bit of fresh air to the novel (no pun intended to the Professor) with its vivid descriptions of the Mesa and its former inhabitants. The descriptions of the Mesa itself took me by surprise in that I was genuinely taken aback with them and drawn further into the story. Cather through Tom tells of the Cliff City, and the houses present there “made of dressed stones, plastered inside and out with ‘dobe, and were tinted in light colours, pink and pale yellow and tan.”(1) The language expressed to describe the area is absolutely tantalizing. Tom goes on to speak of a courtyard and where he comes across water stating that “I’ve never anywhere tasted water like it; as cold as ice and so pure.”(2) The Mesa is made out to be a paradise from the sounds of it, something which in my own mind, I would picture Neverland to be. In the same way the Cliff City is Tom’s paradise, Neverland is Peter’s. Tom and Peter were both free in their respective surroundings, with money not mattering to either. Also a connection can be drawn from the fact that both Tom and Peter were orphans. At the end of the day, what is evident from watching Django Unchained is how the Mesa of the Wild West still plays a crucial role. Although it may have only been present in the background of the movie, it is still there in its beauty.

Look at other modern constructions of the West and I’m sure the Mesa will also play a crucial role in bringing it to life. Red Dead Redemption, an open world role playing game was released in 2010, with the story taking place during the decline of the ‘Old West’. The Mesa plays a huge role throughout this game with the landscape of the game crucial to the storyline of “the wild wild West.” Take a look at Disney and their many theme parks across the globe. One of the greatest attractions at Disney theme parks is that of Thunder Mountain, or for those of you who have attended Disneyland Paris – Thunder Mesa. Need I say much more?

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Works Cited

Cather, Willa. The Professor’s House, Virago Press, London (1981) 208-209.

“All That Is Gold Does Not Glitter.”

Tolkien, aged 24, in military uniform, while serving in the British Army during World War I, 1916.

Two weeks ago on Thursday, is the anniversary of the birth of J.R.R. Tolkien, one of the 20th century’s greatest writers. Tolkien was born on 3 January 1892 and died 2 September 1973.

Can you recall the first time you ever encountered Tolkien?

My first memory of anything to do with Tolkien was in fourth class, when a girl, who was top of the class, brought in her own personal copy of The Hobbit and read it during our reading time. Personally I had no interest, I was not too pushed when it came to books back when I was ten unless they had pictures; but apparently the book had something to do with dragons and dwarves and a mountain of treasure…or something like that. I had a very short attention span back in my youth. And then Christmas came, and Santa Claus brought me a J.R.R Tolkien book set containing The Hobbit, and The Lord of the Rings Trilogy. I cannot thank Santa enough for that.

The fantasy written by Tolkien helps young adults escape from their normal, boring lives. He is credited as “The Father of Modern Fantasy” although some dispute that the man should be known as “The Originator of Modern Fantasy.” Tolkien disapproved of biographies as an aid to literary appreciation with Humphrey Carpenter stating that “his real biography is The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings,  and The Silmarillion; for the truth about him lies within their pages.” It is hard to argue with Carpenter’s assessment of Tolkien’s biography. What is evident from Tolkien’s work is his fondness for working men and the influence taken from his participation in World War I. Tolkien believed that by reading about other worlds, we could make sense of our own world and our place in it.

It is easy to find great joy in reading Tolkien for the man was an absolute genius, going as far to create characters, a new world and an entirely new language, all of which have stood the test of time. Tolkien deals with many important themes in today’s world such as hope and despair, redemption, faith and the importance of friendship. Peter Jackson introduced a whole new generation to J.R.R Tolkien when he created the Trilogy on screen, and now more than ten years later he will once again introduce a whole new generation via The Hobbit Trilogy to the literary genius that was, J.R.R Tolkien.

To end, I am going to include some of my favorite quotes from both Tolkien and the movies.

  •  “All that is gold does not glitter, not all those who wander are lost; the old that is strong does not wither, deep roots are not reached by the frost. From the ashes a fire shall be woken, a light from the shadows shall spring; renewed shall be blade that was broken, the crownless again shall be king.”
  • “I don’t know half of you half as well as I should like; and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve.”
  • “I will not say, do not weep, for not all tears are an evil.”
  • “End? No, it doesn’t end here. Death is just another path, one which we must all take. The grey rain-curtain of this world rolls back, and all change to silver glass… And then you see it… White shores, and beyond, a far green country, under a swift sunrise.”
  • “Ónen i-estel edain, ú-chebin estel anim.
    (I gave Hope to the Dúnedain, I have kept none for myself.)
  • “There is always hope.”
  • “I see in your eyes the same fear that would take the heart of me. A day may come when the courage of men fails, when we forsake our friends and break all bonds of fellowship, but it is not this day. An hour of wolves and shattered shields, when the age of men comes crashing down! But it is not this day! This day we fight! By all that you hold dear on this good Earth, I bid you stand, Men of the West!”
  • “Et Eärello Endorenna utúlien. Sinome maruvan ar Hildinyar tenn’ Ambar-metta!”

(Out of the Great Sea to Middle-Earth I am come. In this place will i abide, and my heirs, unto the ending of the world.)

This image features the language Tengwar created by Tolkien. The first line is the quote "There is Always Hope". The second line is actually my own name.

This image features the language Tengwar created by Tolkien. The first line is the quote “There is Always Hope”. The second line is actually my own name.

– Carpenter, Humphrey. Tolkien: A Biography, The Sewanee Review, Vol. 86, No. 1 (Winter, 1978), pp. xi-xiv