Thursday, July 25, 2013

July 25, 1993...

I was woken up early by my dad, who came in slowly, quietly to my bedroom after trying to process the news he and my mother had received 45 minutes previously. The unthinkable. It was a bright, shiny Sunday morning, the sun just now coming through the curtain of my east window. I had been at a friend's house the night before playing music in our high school garage band. Had it not been for the band, and the fact that I was scheduled to work at the grocery store that Sunday morning, who's to say I wouldn't have been out at that party with them Saturday night?

Dad sat down on the edge of my bed, placed his hand on my shoulder, shaking it gently. 

"Buddy... Buddy wake up." I rolled over quickly. Dad never woke me up in the mornings.

"I've got some really bad news to tell you..." His eyes visibly red, his voice weak and shaky. 

"...You lost two friends last night."


Twenty years is an eternity, and also a blink of an eye. A community, a school, a group of friends, and two families; their life trajectories changed forever. Twenty years ago, two young men-idols of their school, friends to many, brothers and sons to the lucky ones-left a party well past Midnight and turned onto a highway directly into the path of the Mills County deputy police cruiser who was reportedly on his way to break up the underage gathering they were fleeing. They never felt a thing. Both gone instantly. 

While time has healed, reflections on their impact to the friends and families that were shaken to their cores often come to my mind. My son is named after one of them. Even my choice of college was largely influenced by where I thought one of them may have attended. My life has been blessed by the bond of friendship with so many from my hometown, forged strong through those years following their loss; bonding, healing together. Many of us would talk late into the night about how fortunate we all were to have each other to lean on then, to come back to from our respective colleges and communities where we put down roots, started families, still feeling like that place would always be home. We would gather around music, telling old "war stories" of who did what & when. The tales grow taller with each passing year. Most recently, it was a gathering in Chicago for a Pearl Jam concert at Wrigley Field, a band whose early anthems served as a soundtrack and a healing mechanism for us collectively in our time of grief. A group of grown men who, while often left unspoken, still acknowledge an unbroken bond that can be traced directly to a hot July night in 1993, at an intersection on Highway 34 northwest of Emerson, when the sound of twisted metal pierced the quiet farmland sky.

I often think about where they would be now, what their lives would be like. Would this group of friends from my hometown that have stayed so close over the years have manifested differently? I don't think it would have been the same. So many of my friends from college didn't have the same connections or friendships once they left their hometown. I don't think I would've been much different. Sometimes you need that defining moment that truly brings you together. For some its a team accomplishment, or community traditions. Unfortunately, tragedy was ours. Granted, not everyone stayed close, and people have their own circumstances that take them elsewhere, coming back to town infrequently and unannounced. To each is own. 

But if I've found any discernible good from that tragedy 20 years ago, and if the families of Andy Powles and Chris Mason need any further evidence of inherent good that as come from their premature loss, it's that the bonds of friendship that grew and strengthened from the healing process are still strong today; as strong as ever for some of us. And while we may not speak of it aloud when we gather together, we know its there, and their spirits are with us whenever we come together. We've done it all for each other in the aftermath; we won, lost, laughed, cried, fought, bled, grieved, healed...together. We are better men-husbands, fathers, professionals, leaders, friends, brothers, uncles-because of Andy and Chris. 

So I reflect with a heavy heart, and also with peace and comfort today, the 20th anniversary of the loss of two of my best friends, giving love and strength to the families I still love and cherish. Their memories, their friendship, their sprits, live on through us everyday. 


Wednesday, May 15, 2013

First Bike, Marion Avenue, and Earning Respect

My first bike was a Huffy. Thunder Road 42, to be exact.  It had blue fenders and a number plate on the front of the handlebars, but it wasn't a real dirt bike.  It was on the market in the early 80's, in the transition from early 70’s banana seats to real BMX bikes for kids.  I got it as a birthday present when I was 5.  I was too young to ride it, so Dad put training wheels on it.  Training wheels weren't meant for the disjointed, tree root-displaced sidewalks of Malvern; normal walking was treacherous.  So it was a few days of boring circles in the driveway, then the luster wore off.  

One day, my Dad took the training wheels off of the bike, and Mom wanted to work with me on my balance in the backyard.  Our yard sloped from east to west-right to left as you looked from our deck.  She started me at the east end of the yard, hanging on to a bar on the back of my bike seat, jogging behind me, keeping me upright as we quickly picked up speed.  I clung tight to the handlebars, my eyes fixated on the wheel in front of me, head down.  I didn’t hear a peep from my mom as I caught the brief view of the slender silver post in front of me.  My mother and I managed to run into the one obstacle in our backyard, a two and a half inch diameter clothesline pole, as square as I could possibly hit it. I went face-first into the pole. I had a fat lip. Tears ensued, and a long hiatus from attempting to ride my bike settled in.  It wouldn’t be until after we moved from the house on 7th Avenue to the stucco house on the other side of Main Street before I figured out bike riding with the help from some friends in the neighborhood.  

The best stretch of street for riding was Marion Avenue It runs the length of town from north to south, from the high school to Hays' grain bins, on a gentle sloping grade. In three of the seasons, it's shaded by a canopy of century-old oaks and maples, exploding with color in the Fall. I could cover a lot of ground on my bike up and down that street, as the elementary school playground was one of the few playgrounds in town. Chantry Elementary sat two blocks east of Marion Avenue. It was a hot spot for basketball games for us younger kids. The older kids played their basketball at the court next to the swimming pool. Granny Ocle's house was home base, on 3rd street, just a block east of Main St. No street or alley in town was spared from the ramblings of the Huffy Thunder Road, but Marion Avenue and it's cool Summertime shade and smooth, blacktop road condition made it my favorite street to ride.

I was riding north up Marion Avenue towards the railroad viaduct, where I saw Andy. He was a grade ahead of me, but light years ahead in athletic prowess. It was the Summer between my 5th and 6th grade years. Andy was moving on to junior high. At the time, I would've called us just acquaintances. He had never been invited to my birthday parties, and I wasn't to his. Birthday parties were a good indicator of your true circle of friends in grade school, and were typically only for kids in your same grade. You either had to be a cousin, or have an extremely good case made for being in a different grade and invited to your birthday party. We struck up a conversation at the viaduct. I don't know what it was about. Maybe swim team, hot lifeguards at the pool, or the Kansas City Royals. He had a 10-speed bike, a red one. The steps up from the sidewalk to the bridge viaduct walkway were significant. It probably needed four steps. It only had two. It was more than a two-foot drop from the walkway to the sidewalk, and Andy was jumping off of the viaduct onto the sidewalk with his bike with the ease of Evel Kneivel. I knew what was coming, and I knew I wasn't going to be able to get out of it. I had to try to make the jump. "Dude it's not that hard. You can do it, just make sure you have enough speed." There was some serious street cred that came with a successful jump like this, especially in front of a kid with the schoolyard prowess of Andy. He wasn't cocky or a bully, but he had the healthy respect of every school-age kid in town. 

I had plenty of speed as I pedaled closer and closer to the edge of the walkway, the smell of the heavy tar and creosote of the railroad ties baking under the July sun. The one element of a successful jump that Andy didn't share with me was that when I got to the very end of the walkway, I needed to pull up hard on the handlebars, keeping the wheels as even as possible on impact. I was airborne for all of a fraction of a second as my front wheel came nose-diving towards the sidewalk below, my back wheel coming off the walkway behind me. The cheaply-made front rim of the Thunder Road bent with the force of impact, my spindly body crashing down hard on the handlebars. My knee hit concrete first, then my head, and I was tossed over the handlebars, falling in a heap in the adjacent yard. The yard I landed in was once our yard. It was the yard of the house I was brought home to from the hospital when I was born. Maybe the house wasn't finished with me, making one last indelible memory. I was too young when I lived there to have any memories of it. I tried not to cry, but the pain was intense. I had pebbles embedded in my knee from the sidewalk, a knot and scratch near my temple where my head hit the pavement. I was woozy from the impact. Andy was consoling me as I wiped away tears. I told him I was okay, and that I needed to go to my grandmother's house. I pedaled away down Marion Avenue, my knee searing and bleeding, my head swimming and throbbing. The air was cool against my knee, keeping the sting somewhat bearable. I got cleaned up at Granny Ocle's house, and I lied down on her dining room floor, a wet wash cloth draped over my forehead, her house always icy cool with air conditioning. My eyes were closed, and I was seeing flashes of lightning behind my eyelids. I'm pretty sure I had my first concussion.

I don't remember when it was that I saw Andy next. It must've gone well, and he had to have felt bad for seeing me fail so completely at the viaduct. We were pretty inseparable the rest of that Summer. He was reuniting with his old flame Emily, a girl in his class. She was beautiful. He was a rock star, and he had the prettiest girl in school again. I felt out of my league just being in the same company with him, but I made him laugh a lot, and that was enough for me to swallow my insecurities and just roll with it. One night, we were fortunate to catch what turned out to be one of those life-changing moments in adolescence. I was staying the night at Andy's house. It was late, and we were up talking about life, and our place in it. Andy loved talking about big, sweeping subjects like that late at night. It was stoner talk, only we had no idea what being stoned was, and we were genuinely curious about life, and our place in it. At least he was. We heard voices, car doors, and a commotion from outside his bedroom window, coming from the swimming pool parking lot. RW Brown was, begging....Brad, the star quarterback, his teammate, to fight him.We snuck out and ducked behind Andy's shed as RW went on and on, doing everything he could to invite a physical reaction from Brad. Epic lines of bravado and cockiness poured from his mouth like poetry, and we were mesmerized, doing everything we could not to make a sound. We knew RW had a reputation for such things, and he had done some boxing training by then. This was the first time we had actually seen it in person. To his credit, and his physical well-being, Brad refused to fight. He was called a pussy, among other things, but even we knew it was the right thing to do. The die had been cast, however. It was a molding moment for us, especially Andy. RW and the crew he was there with was a group that you needed to earn respect from. Andy would have no trouble doing so in the years to come.

Making my adolescent bones on Marion Avenue with my worn out Huffy Thunder Road is easily my most vivid memory of my bike as a kid. If I hadn't followed through with that jump, I wonder what would've been different about that Summer. I know I wouldn't have had a new friend, at least not until school started back up. Somehown, in biting the dust rolling my bike off the viaduct walkway, I earned Andy's respect. Best friends are pretty subjective, and they can change as often as the seasons when you're that age. We wouldn't always be best friends, but we were always in the conversation, always close. He had my back from that day on. I'd give anything for that jump again; I'd have my front wheel up, like I should have. The results may be the same, though, in both respects.

Painting by Zack Jones

Sunday, December 18, 2011

"Sandwiches That Can Kill You" for a thousand, Alex.

It started innocently enough. It escalated from the mere suggestion of greatness from a fellow foodie. It ended in sheer indulgence, and a wife totally doing it wrong.

In my defense, it could've had bacon.

My chest is tight.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Thursday, November 10, 2011

I really do love the vastness of the internet some days.


Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The Legend of Bucky: A Malvern Boy's Rite of Passage

It was called the rest home by most in town, but it certainly wasn't the type of place that the elderly go to shuffle up & down hallway corridors aimlessly, or lay in bed waiting out their last days on earth. The group home was in a century-old hotel, just east of Main on 3rd St. For me, it was across the street from Granny's house, across from the Leader Office and directly behind Randy's Tastee Sweet. It was named Nishna Cottage, and it was home for a collection of ex-junkies, the mentally disabled, and other various adults with mental and physical disabilities that, to an impressionable youth, appeared to have been forgotten about by family, if they had any left that would still claim them. The structure itself had served as a hotel in the late 19th early 20th century. It was on the payroll as a state institution, loosely affiliated wit the Glenwood State Hospital & School, a fifteen minute drive west of town. The residents, from what I could tell, were free to come and go as they pleased. A handful of regulars could be seen wandering around downtown most days, and for the most part all of them seemed well-mannered. Many became town fixtures. If you grew up in Malvern, you remember their faces, but you may not know their names. For the most part, everyone treated them well.

One of the most recognizable residents of the group home was known as Bucky, a, balding, elderly man of medium build, with an uncomfortably short, shuffling gait, and extremely thick, Coke-bottle glasses. Bucky would shuffle noisily down the Main Street sidewalks en route to his customary sitting spot next to the soda machine in front of Mulholland's Grocery Store. The soda machine actually sat in the doorway of the old main entrance to the building, perched up one step from the sidewalk. On Sundays, Bucky would be dressed in his customary Sunday best; a well-worn navy blue suit, paired with either a regular or bolo tie, typically finished off with a cowboy hat. The downtown traffic was thin on Sundays, but Bucky would be there as an unofficial Sunday greeter.

 Bucky's vice was chewing tobacco, preferably out of a pouch. I seem to recall Levi Garrett as his preferred brand, but he wouldn't turn down Beech Nut or Red Man. He would earn his tobacco by offering to sweep the sidewalk in front of Mulholland's Grocery Store. It was a fair and understood business transaction. It was a favorite childhood pastime, a rite of passage for Malvern's male youth for decades, to summon the courage to engage Bucky at his sitting spot to tell him, cautiously, "Bucky, your chew's made out of horseshit & grass!!" Such a proclamation to Bucky didn't really count as being successfully done unless you had a friend who was there to witness it and vouch for you to others, typically later on in the day up at the swimming pool. It was the visceral reaction from Bucky that was the whole point of this juvenile exercise. "Why, you little son's-a-bitches! Get outta here, you!", in his crackly, muddled, high-pitched voice, peering red-faced and wide-eyed through those impossibly thick, cloudy spectacles.

 Some said that Bucky would chase them for a block, his cane wielded like a weapon. For purposes of added dramatic effect, it was common for boys to embellish such tales. There's no way Bucky could physically chase someone away. You could certainly get a reaction from him, though. I still can't look at a pouch of tobacco behind a convenience store counter and not think about what that stuff is made out of. I doubt any other boy who made his summertime living on riding his BMX bike up & down the brick streets of Malvern in that 30-plus year span of Bucky being a downtown regular can, either.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Road Tripping, Bad Baseball in a Great Setting, and Losing Friends Through Snoring

It's one thing to get a (not so) gentle nudge around 11:15 PM from my wife, who's encouraging me to roll over onto my side and not sleep on my back due to the inevitable louder-than-normal one-man chorus of snoring. It's quite another to hear the soft click of a hotel door at 1:15 AM, when your buddy decides that the best option is to gather his things and leave the room, leaving behind the echoing growls of a slightly overweight human bear, heavily sedated from an 11-hour slow-to-medium beer consumption pace in Wrigleyville after a day-night double-header, and attempt to get his own room with peace and tranquility at $150-a-night, only to be up & on the road by 5:30 AM.

Gotta tell you. It was an attention-getter.

I wonder how many more HYPHEN-riddled sentences I can jam into this post.

I know I've been an above-average snore producer for quite a while now. I would assume that it's from a combination of genetics (my parents are Steve & Edie of snoring), weight, and getting older. It's been bearable for the past ten years, but there's been more recent signs that things certainly haven't been getting any better. Recently more than once, I've woken up to see that my wife has moved her sleep agenda to the living room couch. I don't think it was the farting.

The trip to Chicago for the Tuesday, June 28th game(s) was brought on from a recent "Extreme Baseball" bus trip that I took with a couple college buddies. Three Major League Baseball games, in three cities, in three days. The last day was to be an afternoon game from one of the rooftop venues outside right field at Wrigley Field for a Cubs game. It got completely rained out before it ever started. The rootop's return policy? When the game is re-scheduled, they would see us then. Conveniently enough for a guy living 8 hours away, it was re-scheduled for a Tuesday afternoon. So me and one of my buddies decided to get back over to Chicago.

Prior to that particular game getting rained out back in May, we had a successful two-day run of games and general fun in the Twin Cities and Milwaukee. I'll spare you the obvious and simply say that beverages were consumed. You don't have to be an ear-nose-throat specialist to assume that the likelihood of snoring can be increased after some alcohol consumption. Far from any dangerous levels, when Sleepytime came after night one, I was bushed. I was told more than three times, I believe, by my two roomies for the weekend, that I really needed to stop snoring before there were real physical consequences. Not that I can do anything about it when it's happening. I'm sleeping. Problem was...they weren't.

Their observations were that they didn't think it was full-on Sleep Apnea, because my breathing would never pause or stop for long periods of time, which is a common (and frightening) symptom of Apnea. So, I chalked it up to me just being a guy who makes a good racket at night, and didn't really think much more about it.

Until this most recent incident.

I texted the now fleeing friend about 10 minutes after he left the room the other night.

"Was the snoring that bad?"

Reply: "Haha. I'm a lite sleeper!"

Yep. Indeed, it was, Dixon. Indeed, it was.

So, now what?

I suppose I should go somewhere for a sleep study. It would be nice to know just how much this nocturnal noise-making is really effecting me, physically. I don't really wake up that well-rested. I was chalking that up to my bed a little. And a baby. I'm not real keen on the idea of wearing the dreaded "Apparatus".  I quick perusal of brought up some pretty horrendous looking masks, hoses, pumps, and various other accessories for the allready sleep-challeneged.  It seems pretty far-fetched at first glance to think that wearing these fighter pilot masks will actually aid in my sleep.  They look far too clunky and uncomfortable to be worth the trouble, right? 

Well, the good news is that I didn't lose my friend.  The bad news (for him) is that him and I are making plans for a 3-night roadtrip for the Pearl Jam 20th Anniversary Concert weekend over Labor Day.  Will I have this thing under control by then?  Or will I hear the quit Click of Shame as my guttural impression of a '74 Ford pickup drives a friend away.....again....?

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Times Like These

Incredible rock show put on by the Foo Fighters in Council Bluffs, of all places, on Monday night, 5.22.11, highlighted by their amazing 3-hour set, which included this version of a personal favorite, a clip from Carslisle, England earlier this month.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Tuscaloosa: An Incredible Tornado Event

A very rare combination of all of the essential ingredients needed for incredibly explosive, tornadic storms came together for one afternoon yesterday across the deep south, triggering what will be considered one of, if not THE worst tornado outbreak in recorded history. While not confirmed yet, one particular storm sustained a mesocyclone/circulation/tornado continuously for almost 200 miles, from eastern Mississippi, across the state of Alabama, into northern Georgia, before the storm dissipated entirely, finally, southern North Carolina. This was the fateful storm/tornado that ravaged Tuscaloosa, AL, and went on another 50+ miles, tearing through the north side of Birmingham. It would go on to do more damage as it crossed northeast Alabama, and into northwest Georgia. The majority of the known fatalities from yesterday’s outbreak are from this one supercell thunderstorm. Truly amazing

I don’t think this video was taken by a trained spotter or storm chaser, but needless to say, he had a front row seat for one of the most jaw-dropping, terrifying sights he will ever see. (No , he doesn’t get hit by the tornado!). He is on the south side of Tuscaloosa (5:15-5:20 PM) in a commercial area (restaurants, mall, etc…), looking to his west-southwest at a very rare monster tornado.

At about the 5:00-5:15 mark in the video, after the tornado has passed his immediate area, he starts experiencing very strong winds blowing into the tornado (now to his east-northeast), and he turns the camera back to his south/southwest, thinking that it’s another tornado. The wind he was experiencing were actually what are known as Rear Flank Downdraft winds, or RFD, rapidly sinking cool air from the top of the storm on the back side of a mesocyclone, and one of the necessary ingredients for a tornado to form and sustain itself.

At about 6:30 in the video, his adrenaline really kicks in, as he realizes the extent of what has happened. That’s when fear sets in, because he knows he was sitting directly in the path of it before he (wisely) moved south.

A very intense, incredible video. This was a day that will be talked about for years as one of the worst natural disasters in our history. There were dozens of tornadoes just like this one yesterday. Very rugged, hilly, forested terrain, very rural areas with few resources, and very few structures with basements or true shelter, combined with the power and size of these tornadoes yesterday is unfortunately adding up to perhaps hundreds of lost lives. Heartbreaking.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Queens of the Stone Age - Monsters in Your Parasol (2002)

Dave Grohl using live ammunition for drumsticks.  Any band is a better band when Dave's sitting in.

"Dave Grohl’s fills should be a MacArthur fellow.  They help America."  -M. Mann


iPhones are freaky, man.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Wrestlemania 27: Live Stream-of-Consciousness Notes

A note up front: For at least what is looking like the first hour or two, due to an extremely hyper-needy 14-month old, this isn't going to go real smooth. He's found his voice....and it sounds like a loud, inaudible 14-month old.

This will be the post that will update every 5-10 minutes or so. So, what have you done with your entire day to quell the overwhelming anticipation?? T-Minus 5 minutes till the Grandest Stage of Them All begins once again. Dating back to a young, impressionable 7 year-old, Wrestlemania was always the larger-than-life event to me, where my boyhood heroes became legend.

SO what's my excuse now? Well... Um.... I guess I keep thinking that it will be as entertaining to me as it was in the mid to late 90's, during the peak of the "Monday Night Wars". Wrestling certainly wasn't what it was in my childhood anymore. Raunchy, bloody, extreme, immature....entertaining.

It appears that this Wrestlemania is trying to tap into that storied history with tonight's lineup. The Rock is back, albeit not in an actual match. Steve Austin is back, also not in a match.

Who am I bullshittin'. I have no excuse. Just go with it. COmmence with the funny. Here we go!

6:00 - THe Georgia Dome is host to WM 27. Looks amazing. Jam-packed, sans the area behind the MASSIVE stage/entrance.

America the Beautiul (a WM tradition) is being sung by an R&B singer whom I've never
heard of.

6:02 - THe Jabroni-beating, pie-eating, most electrifying man in sports entertainment makes his entrance. Decent pops from the crowd. Did I mention the crowd is stupid huge?

6:09 - FINALLY.....The Rock.....has said something into the micorophone! The Rock promises that this will be the most electrifying WM of all time. It's all around the place. Can you smell it? Perhaps that's the prepubescent, overweight 14-year-olds that haven't found the goodness that comes from anti-perspirant.

If the WWE does nothing else worth a shit, their ability to put together the most elaborate, spectacular montages is unequalled by any league or association. THey make what is bad acting and fake moves, and package them with a soundtrack to make the entire thing look 100 times bigger and better than what it typically is.

6:17 - But, I'll hand it to them....they do put toogether a pretty good production & stage set-up. THey just shot off about $10,000 of pyro. THe upper deck should be able to see the ring through the smoke in about an hour.

6:19 - World Heavyweight Title Match: Alberto Del Rio (challenger) VS. Edge (Champion). Yes, this is a title match to kick off the show. But there are essentially two world titles. Confused yet? Well, if I have to explain all of this crap, I can't honestly believe you care.

The traditional introduction of the announcers at the Spanish announcer's table at ringside. THe over/under on their announcer's table making it through the show intact is 60:1

Pretty sweet graphcs/TV screen "Cube" hanging above the ring. Apple is securing patent rights to it as we speak.

((Interruption of viewing: Steak on grill, kid in everything))

Not as long of a match as I was anticipating, but Edge pulls out the predictable win. Walking back up the ramp, he pauses at Del Rio's Rolls Royce car that was driven out on the ramp. Gives it a few kicks. THen Christion (Captain Charisma to you) brings a tire iron and a lead pipe. Hilarity ensues. Del Rio cries at the front grill of his newly detailed Rolls. End Scene.

6:40 - Cody Rhodes VS. Rey Mysterio Jr. Not sure what the storyline is with this one, but Cody Rhodes is wearing Rip Hamilton's facemask, calling himself disfigured & grotesque. Has he seen his father Dusty's forehead? I've seen tenderloins with better complexion. Rey Mysterio is in a Captain America outfit. I would like to see his birth certificate. Great action, as always in any Mysterio match. Now Rey has Cody's mask. I'm corn-fused. Somehow Rey gets hit with something. Rhodes wins.

6:55 - Snoop Dogg with a little pre-taped skit. Nice Rowdy Roddy Piper cameo. Mildly funny. Steak's done. Kid is still defiant in the eyes of sleep. Ugh...

7:03 - 8-Man Tag Match: The CORRE VS. Kane, The Big Show, Santino Marella, Kofi Kingston. At least we have some wrestlers who actually have moves to make up for Kane & Show in this one. Don't expect me to give names to members of The Corre. They're made up of newcomers who won one of WWE's Tuff Enuff seasons a while back. Okay, I'll mention Ezekiel Jackson, but only because he's ridiculously huge. And 3 minutes after it started, it's over. That wasn't even enough time to go take a squirt. Kane/Show.Santino/Kofi win.

7:09 - Mae Young wants "The People's Strudel". The Rock and Steve Austin exchange pleasantries backstage. This isn't nearly as fun with a kid around. Hey, Mom's got cough syrup with Codeine in it. Hmmm...

7:15 - CM Punk VS. Randy Orton. Orton's got a bad right knee. ((DOES he??)) And yes, that appears to be a tattoo of the Pepsi logo on Punks arm. These guys like their ink. Uh-oh. Orton's up in the Tree of Woe. What ever happened to that classic move?? Actually this is probably the best match so far. Pretty well done.

((Sidenote: Why doesn't anyone do the Greg "The Hammer" Valentine delayed faceplant after taking a bump? These guys need to study up on their History.))

RKO....catching punk in mid-air off the top rope.....Punk goes sleepie. Orton wins. GOod match, except for some terrible knee injury acting.

7:35 - Mean Gene Okerlund talking to The Rock. Cena's #1 fan is here to confront Rock. Pee-Wee Herman? The Pee-Wee Herman wants to be on Team Bring It. I paid $65 for this.

7:40 - THe Fink, Howard Finkel announces the WWE Hall of Fame Class of 2011: Abdullah the Butcher, Sunny, The Road Warriors, and Drew Fuckng Carey? Oh, and Bullet Bob Armstrong, Hacksaw Jim Duggan, and "The Heartbreak Kid" Shawn Michaels. Someone needs to give HBK some Sweet Chin Music so he's not cross-eyed anymore. WTF?

7:47 - Friday Night Smackdown Announcer Booker T comest ringside, walking out to the old Harlem Heat theme song. Can you Dig It? SUCKA!!! And Jim Ross, and his stupid OU Fight Song entrance music. Ugh.

7:48 - Michael Cole VS Jerry "The King" Lawler. I hate this. I hate having to explain some of this stupid shit. I hate it it because then it shows that I actually know these storylines, which in turn shows that I actually do watch this hot garbage more often than not. Anyway, Michael Cole is the TV Announcer turned heel. He's picked a fight with King, his broadcast partner. He's been trained by wrestler Jack Swagger (HAS he?). Guest referree is Stone COld Steve Austin, which really is the only reason I'm sitting here and not turning it over to the Weather Channel for Severe Weather coverage. Christ, I need a social agenda.

Austin arrives ringside in a camo four-wheeler. Cole is wearing a bright orange wrestling singlet with headgear. Cole is in his plexiglass announce booth, "The Cole Mine", so King joins him, raining down fake punches. Lawler's got a devastating fake right. King has a spectacular spray tan for a 60-something. 10 minutes into this one and nobody's cracked a beer yet in the ring. Fail. COle has the muscle definition and skin tone of a scallop. I think of all of the wrestlers on the WWE payroll who aren't on this card, knowing that these two wastes of time, along with Snooki are the ones taking their place. Chants of "Boring" starting to come in now. What took so long? Jesus Christ, Steve, do something! Pour some beer on someone. Anyone.

Jack Swagger throws in the towel to save Cole. Gets a Stone Cold Stunner from Austin. Cole doesn't know how to take a bump. Took a pretty good boot to the face. Lawler's pretty spry for an old man. Lawler taking his time, Austin encouraging him. Cole's tapping out to an ankle lock, but Austin not calling for the bell to ring for a bit. Finally. Okay, let's drink some goddamn beer already. It's fucking Wrestlemania and the bet beer you can get is Keystone Light?? Wow. Booker T gets in the ring to celebrate with the Spin-a-Rooni. Then gets the predictable Stunner from the Rattlesnake.

An email comes in from the "Anonymous Monday Night RAW General Manager (No, I'm not going to explain this horseshit). Says the referee was involved too much in the match, DQ's King, awards the win to Cole. Another announcer gets a Stunner. More beer. Speaking of which......


8:18 - Best montage of the night for Undertaker Vs. HHH. Pretty much the reason I even thought of getting this damn PPV this year. Otherwise the card seems pretty slim. Sad to say that I remember The Undertaker as Mean Mark Callous back in the NWA. His finishing move? The Heart Punch.

8:22 - The Undertaker VS. Triple H. Coming into this PPV, the highlight of the night was likely going to be the entrances of both of these guys. HHH coming out to a rain of explosions and Metallica's classic "For Whom The Bell Tolls". Incredible production value. QUick change with the lights out, now HHH walks down the aisle in his traditional Motorhead theme. I'm a kid again. Suck it.

Lights go out. Bell sounds. Flames. Lots of them. Johnny Cash song. Smoke. Black Light. Awesome. I'm gonna go ahead & say that if you meet someone that causes thunder & lightning when he takes off his hat, that you should consider that a really cool bar trick, and buy that man a beer. No holds barred in this one, kids. It's been quite a while since HHH wore the proverbial Crimson Mask. I think he's due to dues some blade work to the forehead in this one tonight.

Well, there goes Michael Cole's "Cole Mine" Announcer's booth. Taker is taking some serious bumps. Selling everything well. Looks like King and JR's announce table is going to go next. The Spanish guys are getting off easy. WOW.....HHH took a back flip off the table to the floor. He bounced. Damn.

Taker just launched himself over the top rope onto HHH. Not sure HHH caught him clean to break the fall, but Taker is upright. First chants of "Holy Shit" from the crowd tonight. THey're not disappointing them.

Aaaaand.....there goes the Spanish announcer's table. That was a sucker bet.

Steel chair.....Not yet. But it's in the ring. Solid chair shot to HHH's back. Warped it with one shot. Fake? Not that one. Pedigree by!....and a kickout.

Over-under on kick-out's in this match: 13. We're at 3 now, I think. Just getting warmed up. THe Last Ride Powerbomb, from a serious height. Kickout by HHH. Damn, Taker looks old. GIving the throat shlash gesture......Tombstone? Yes. Folds the arms, gives the tongue and eye roll...One....TWOOOO!.....Kickout by HHH!

More steel chair fun.....DDT by HHH on steel chair! (WAS it?) Both men down. Where's Earl Hebner Or Joey Marella for a good double-count out when you need it? Both guys climbing the ropes back to their feet. Pedigree!! One....TWOOOOO!.....Kickout by Taker.

Another Pedigree.....and another kickout by Undertaker. Man, if I didn't know better, I would swear this shit is scripted. BIG chair shot across Taker's back. That chair is fucked. 6 more chair shots to the back. Some Boo's trickling in for that one. HHH yelling at Taker to "Stay Down!" Square shot to the forehead with the chair on Undertaker. Trying to get up in his patented rise-from-the-dead way, but can't.

HHH gives Taker the Tombstone? Kickout. Crowd is going bananas. Taker is out. HHH rolls out of the ring to get his trademark sledgehammer. JR: "Desperate times are obviously upon us."

Taker gets HHH in the Hell's Gate Submission. Essentially a triangle choke. HHH has the sledge.......can't hang on to it. THe Game Taps. Taker wins. 19-0. SOmehow, some way, some script had this ending, and somehow the fake streak lives! Virtually no pops from the crowd. Hard to get excited when you know what the ending will be, I suppose.

Another $10,000 in pyro gets shot off. You can leave now, Upper Deck. Nothing else to see way down there.

9:10 - 6-Person Mixed Tag Match: Dolph Ziggler, LayCool (wome's tag team) VS. John Morisson, Trish Stratus & Snooki. I'm gonna go take a dump.

Back now. I do a lot of thinking, like most men do, when I'm in the loo. Perhaps I didn't think about this particular blog post idea enough. I had done this similar kind of thing in previous years pretty much anonymously on a off-topic message board I used to frequent. It was entertaining, something to laugh about and others participated in the self-deprecating nature of it all. Markedly different feeling when you've not only posted it on your own blog, but even gone out of your way to promote it in your circle of friends. Ahhh, regrets. I've had a few.

Official attendance: 71,617. A Georgia Dome record. How could 71,617 be wrong? Amirite?

9:23 - WWE Championship: John Cena VS The Miz (Champion). Good Motage of The Miz (yes, of The Real World fame). They've made this guy one of the big names. But more importantly, he's made himself one of the big names, as well. He's easy to hate, so he's a natural heel.

Interesting to see what role The Rock has in this match/storyline. Haven't seen him for a couple hours. Some host.

Cena has a giant Baptist Choir on stage singing for his entrance/montage. He's done pretty cool WM entrances before. This montage is a prayer/poem. Playing to the kids. But still, pretty well done.

I took 7 seconds to think about the Rock-Cena-Miz storyline. Ref's gonna get knocked out. Rock will come down to be the ref. Cena wins. They embrace, much to the delight of every screaming kid everywhere. Not the ending I want, but that's what I'm gonna get. Let's watch this unfold here, shall we?

9:45 - And there it was. The ref's knocked out. Cena's got the pin. Nobody's there to count. Miz's assistant Alex Riley in the ring, hits Cena with a metal briefcase. Ref comest to.....Miz with the pin, One....TWOOOOO!!! Kickout by Cena.

Now Miz has the briefcase. Cena ducks, hits Alex Riley. Cena Hits the Attitude Adjustment, the pin...One....TWOOOOO!.....kickout by Miz. Huge clothesline outside the ring over the guardrail. Full tackle by Cena at miz over guardrail. Double-countout. Rulde a draw. Still Champion: THe Miz. Really? That's how this ends??

Let's see what The Rock has to say about this. He's in the ring. Both men still down on the outside. A message comes in from the Anonymous Monday Night Raw Commisioner. WM is not over. The Rock says that this match must restart right now. No DQ's. Miz & Cena get back in the ring. Rock gets in the ring, gives Cena the Rock Botomm from behind. Miz Pins Cena. Miz Wins.

Rock staring at Miz from outside. Rock runs in, giving Miz a whuppin'. THe People's Elbow. Closes the show.

Well, there it is folks. Another one in the books. It's been funnier. It's been better. It's also been a helluva lot worse.

Thanks for enduring. I was running out of steam, frankly. Perhaps that's a sign. Am I growing up? Shudder the thought.