I know I don't update it daily. Shut up.

June 26, 2007

Benoit's death - UPDATED

Now the news is out. I don't care to wait long enough for toxicology reports to know that something went wrong in Chris Benoit's life.

I credit the Associated Press for its handling of this story. They've come out with some good coverage - not the sort of thing you see when a pro "sports" athlete is in the news. Mostly it's the nature of the story that automatically called for a reverence you didn't see when Anna Nicole Smith died, but should have. I get it - I do this stuff every day. This is bigger than the way wrestling is always covered - like it's a niche hobby appealing to the NASCAR crowd. A quaint obsession, if there's such a thing. This time everybody said, "Whoa." and I think they're still trying to catch up with the strangeness of it.

My friend Greg framed this whole thing very well. He said, in essence, things will forever be changed in wrestling. Congress is going to be involved now. For those who may not remember, WWF (as it was) went before Congress in the 90s because of its rampant use of anabolic streroids. It was then that Hulk Hogan sold out Vince Mcmahon and blew in his whole operation. Things had cooled between them over the years, and Hulk was allowed back to wrestle.

But grievances and grudges aside, I think Greg's right. I think this will change things. No, I take that back. I hope things will be changed. Honestly, I could care less how a wrestler looks if he can perform. I think most fans would feel that way too, because despite physique, the human talents on which pro wrestling is based will never change. It will always take a specific personality type, with an intelligence behind the hype, to pull of the kind of entertainment fans want to see.

I think, and this is just me, that many will feel alienated the way I do. It's different than when Mark McGuire was before the government testifying about steroids, or talking about Barry Bonds' records with asterisks next to them. It's not just a case of having your hero crumble before you, when you're made to realize that he was just, after all the hype, human.

This was a man who took a tumble far, far, from his station in life. The Associated Press, and again I give them credit, included a quote from Benoit of long ago in which he said his one vice in life was his family.

Let me define family. Wrestling, sometimes, is weird like this because there's more of a connection between fans and athletes. Perrhaps it's the preponderance of House Shows, the equivalent of which is if the Yankees came to central Virginia to play the hometown AA team with no cameras, no body guards, and just were there to put on a show for the fans and sign a whole bunch of baseballs afterwards.

In this way wrestling fans feel a sense of ownership over "their" guys, and they become protective. They fiercely defend their favorites, and just as vehemently seethe at the enemy. But at the end of the day they respect all of them who go beyond what any pro athletes go through, that is, they travel not for one season out of the year, but the WHOLE year. Guys leave relationships, families, whole lives behind to be pro wrestlers. All they have left are their fans. And they're welcomed with open arms, because the fans know they're the most constant family these guys have got.

I've read three wrestlers' autobiographies. No, they're not representaive of the entire industry. But the guys at the top of their respective games are a lonely lot. They're often sad, and crave stability though they know they can never have it as long as they do the thing they love.

It's a paradox I think contributes to, but does not excuse, eventual self-destruction. No act of Congress can chage that, unless the fundamentals of the industry change first.

That, unfortunately, is the paradox the fans face.


WWE.com is reporting that pro wrestler Chris Benoit is dead. The site quotes an Atlanta Fox affiliate that he killed his wife and son over the weekend, then himself.

Benoit was cut from the same mold as Dean Malenko and Eddie Guerrero. In fact, the three all jumped ship to WWE when WCW folded in 2000 I think (I'll have to check that.) They were all able technical wrestlers, indeed some of the best, and in recent years Benoit's role really shifted to WWE's development office, helping other wrestlers "tell the story" more with their in-ring performances.

I know Eddie's death in 2005 hit Benoit pretty hard, though I haven't seen any stories detailing reasons. In cases like this, often there aren't any.

More later.

June 24, 2007

Lazy Sunday

Here's the view out of our living room. Kinda nice, really.

That's a toe, not a thumb.

My review of Pirates of the Caribbean 3

The moral of the story is:

Dirty swamp women have powerful crabs.

Me Laura! Me want chip!

On saturday, Marcy, Laura and I trekked to the bustling metropolis of Scotia, NY for my cousin Steph's graduation party (h.s.). We had a blast catching up with the fam, plus it was the first time Marcy met my dad's side of the fam. (She still has to meet the extended side of my mom's family as well). So we had fun with my grandma, Mimi:

and Dad got his Father's Day gift from Laura and Marcy and I, a set of new patio chairs to chill on:

And I ate cake.

June 22, 2007

Let's answer fan mail!

Dear Bryan,
Do you know any smart rodents? I would love to meet some.
Signed, Lonely in Las Mesas

Dear Lonely,
As a matter of fact, I do. I met this squirrel at Harvard the other day.

He wrote a thesis on why Eastern squirrels were better equipped than Western squirrels to hunt and gather, and then his parents paid a skunk to collect all his nuts for him. I also met an MIT squirrel once, but he was able to write an algorithm that fine-tuned a human's brain waves to obey the squirrel's every command and now that squirrel is running for President. Good question!

Dear Bryan,
What are those non-Asian people doing on that bridge over there?
Signed, Confused in Cambridge

Dear Confused,
I have no idea.

June 19, 2007

My thought on Murf's passing

Many regular Blurb readers won't know Tom Murphy, and frankly I think those that knew him didn't really know him.
Murf was the sports editor for the Messenger Post weeklies. He died in his sleep Monday.
The guy was an institution, one that I think often was taken for granted in the MPN newsroom. I feel weird mentioning it, because if you told the guy that he'd just laugh. He owned a house on Conesus Lake, a steal that he purchased I think it the early 80s for a hell of a lot less than what it's worth now. He told me about it once, and we shared stories about the lake (my family and I spent two summers there when I was in 1st and 2nd grade).
Truth is, I barely knew the guy. Maybe it's because he was so young - 50s - and he was about the age of my own parents, but the news really hit me. I think it has to do more with the fact that when I do go back to MPN to visit, he'd be one of the guys I'd make a point to see. He was one of those people that had such a positive outlook on everything, sometimes you couldn't help but indulge yourself a little and be a part of that. His joys were so simple: sitting on his corner of the world, watching twilight hit the lake, cooking a hot dog on his grill (see a great account of his life from one of his neighbors here.)

Here's the comment I left on the discussion thread at mpnnow.com. I wished I'd read the comment from his neighbor about him grilling hot dogs before I wrote it, because that conversation about the lake was my favorite. But his one really gives you an idea of the guy, though you may never have met him:

"I know that guy."
The statement came out of nowhere. Murf and I were sitting in the Pittsford newsroom decompressing after a hard deadline, and the winter Olympics were on.
"You know who, Murf?" I asked. I had learned my lesson long before to doubt his credibility, but I loved to joke him about the endless statistics and players he'd covered over the years. I could invent a name, Joe Smith, and ask Murf about what town he played in. He'd list every Joe Smith that played every sport in every town in Monroe County, and it's not an exaggeration.
"That skier. I know him. He's from Brighton."
Then he floors me.
"So is the guy running the Web site feed for this broadcast."
That was Murf. He knew the little stuff. If you tried to call him on anything, chances were that he was right.
When I'd harrass him about the piles upon piles of newspapers strewn about his cubicle, threatening to clean it for him, he'd shoot me a "Noooooo, Mahoney. What am I going to do without my archive?" He could stick his hand in a stack seemingly at random, and magically produce any issue you'd be looking for. Of course, they were just the sports pages.
If God needed a statistician, He just got one of the best.

June 13, 2007

A bold exchange between font nerds

Bryan, while reading Ain't It Cool News: They're making a movie caled 'Helvetica.' I don't think I need to see that.

Marcy: Oh come on, you're a font nerd.

Bryan: Yeah, maybe you're right. I would see a movie called 'Futura.'

Marcy: You may be the biggest dweeb I know.

June 5, 2007

When meth addicts get corporate gigs

You've got to wonder how people so bad at life get where they are in the world.
It's the only way that a video game called IRRITATING STICK could ever get made.

That's right. IRRITATING STICK. I'm going to capitalize it for the rest of this post in hopes YOU feel the way I do, in that you want to TAKE said stick and shove it in your THROAT and PULL it out of your own throat and then JAB REPEATEDLY in your own eye.

Don't believe such a game exists? I don't make this shit up.

I think the pitch meeting for this game went like this:
A guy wakes up and eats a bowl of crystal meth for breakfast. Then he buries his face in his dirty laundry pile for an hour while listening to Tchaikovsky played by a chorus of circus dogs. He kills a man down the hall and puts on his suit, then arrives at work at 11 a.m., just in time for his pitch meeting.
"OK guys," he begins. "There's this stick. And it's got, like, all this shit to do. And ... um ... it flies."

And that's it.

The guy across the table, the one who ALSO applied for the meth addict's job but lost it because ... well ... life sucks a lot of the time, well HE is sitting across the table not believeing this shit and thanking GOD he was here to witness this because his nemesis is going to get canned for sure.
But NO - the friggin' corporate slug at the head of the table stands up and says he wants specs drawn and someone comes up with THIS:

Then the corporate guy says, "OK," and the meeting's over and the meth addict has fallen asleep or dead and the guy across from him just can't fucking believe it because Playstation actually MADE this game, and here's a cheat for it!

To start with seven lives instead of the usual three, enter the following code: At the mode select screen, highlight "1P Play" and press Right on the D-pad four times. Highlight "Tournament" and press Right on the D-pad 1 time. Highlight "Course Edit" and press Left on the d-pad twice. Highlight "Option" and press Left on the d-pad six times. Now highlight "1P Play" and press X. You'll hear the crowd cheer to confirm the code.

June 3, 2007

Search for witches, find pirates instead

Depart my friends dry up your tears,
Here I must lie till Christ appears.
Death is a debt to nature due,
I’ve paid the debt and so must you.
-On Daniel Bray’s gravestone, Salem cemetery.

Salem Cemetery is a strange place. There's a muffler shop 20 feet away from the bones of people who shaped a lot of this region's history.

On a wall, graffitti boasts some unintelligible message about God knows what. I won't speculate on who wrote it, but I think they're local - teenagers most likely, because the cemetery seems like it's not as respected as it should be. Well-trodden paths come too close to gravemarkers, so I have to believe hundreds of people each year walk over these graves, reducing it to tourist attraction rather than place of reverence.
I was humbled by the experience. I'm older than many of the people there; whole families are buried together and many are 25 years old and younger. Three sisters were buried next to each other, and all died within days. I don't know if they were burned for being witches or if they got some disease.

On a lighter note, I visited the pirate museum. And I found two pirates!

The one on the left is Mad-Eye Marge, wanted in fifteen states for piracy, including stealing men's hearts and cheese. The other is Jolly Jillianne, a thief who's hard to catch on account of her being always on the move; She lives in Vancouver, but works all over and after a meeting in Toronto visited us in Boston. She's frequently seen cavorting with Mad-Eye Marge.

June 1, 2007

Music to poop by

We live next to a high school stadium. Usually it's good for a chuckle when we suddenly get a roaring ovation for doing the dishes. But today there's a festival rockin on the football field. You can hear "YMCA" very well from our bathroom.
On a related note: They're now playing the "Electric slide." Appropriate.

Painful, but appropriate.

Truer words were never said.

"The most important part of travel is when you come home, because that's when you see your country with new eyes. I was amazed to realize that we are the only country, that tells the rest of the world, on a nearly constant basis, that we are the greatest country on Earth. And that is a little fuckin' obnoxious. And I know it's obnoxious, because if you were in an office, and there was someone there who came in everyday and said, 'I'M THE GREATEST FUCKER HERE! AND YOU SNIVELING SHITS WOULD DIE WITHOUT ME!!' I can guarantee you by the end of the week you'd have killed him, and eaten him, just to try to possess his power. The amazing thing is that there are people who have never left this country, who talk about the fact that we are the greatest country on Earth. How fuckin' dumb is that? 'Cause you don't know. If you haven't left here you don't know. There are countries that may be giving shit away everyday! Canada's one of those countries. You know what they give away? HEALTH INSURANCE!"
-Lewis Black


Don't believe me? Eat this:

That's me with Marcy's dad on top of Mount Jo. Mt. Jo is in the Adirondacks and is a "small" mountain, meaning it's not considered one of the 46 high peaks.

Not a high peak? My ass! I was climbin' up sheer rock for crumb's sake! I got stung by something that ate my leg! And I kissed my fiance on the top of the mountain. All in all, a great day.