June 29, 2007

Journey's End

Rye bread for everybody!

Welcome home, my brothers!

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June 28, 2007


From the 'Amalgam' DC/Marvel crossover series

Bonus points if anybody can name the character...

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June 26, 2007

Feet of Clay

I won't claim that Chris Benoit was a hero, or an idol, of mine. He wasn't. He was an excellent performer in the ring, who never turned in a poor match that I saw. He never gave less than everything he had when he hit the stage, and 'everything he had' was enough to make him one of the best professional wrestlers ever, in any country.

He was quick enough to hang with the fastest cruiserweights, and powerful enough to go toe-to-toe with the behemoths. His pure wrestling skill was jaw-dropping. His only weakness was his ability to cut a promo, but he didn't need to speak like The Rock or Triple-H to get his point across.

The performer is not the man, obviously, though it seemed that in the case of Chris Benoit, they were one in the same... a man who enjoyed what he did, though it caused him pain, and nearly cost him his ability to move when it broke his neck.

Now, however, the last acts of Chris Benoit's life were to smother his seven-year-old son, strangle his wife, and then hang himself from a weight machine. Even though he was a professional wrestler, an actor if you will, he was also a person... a person, it seems, with a side so horrible that nobody could guess at it.

I mourn the death of a family, and the death of the wrestler, who entertained the fans at such cost to himself.

For the murderer, though, there is nothing but disgust.

In the weeks ahead, we may discover that it was not Chris Benoit that killed himself and his family, but a drug-induced rage. If so, one wonders if professional wrestling will survive... and who will be next. For there almost certainly will be a "next." It probably won't be as horrifying a scene as this one, it'll probably just involve one person. It may be a wrestler... or a football player... or a baseball slugger... or just some high-school kid we may never hear of.

Let's hope that, if anything good can come of this, it convinces Vince McMahon that he doesn't need the musclemonsters anymore. Lets hope it convinces pro football to crack down even harder on those who use performance-enhancing drugs. Lets hope that baseball drops the axe on those who break records while on the needle.

And let's hope that unknown high-school kid realizes what he's doing to himself.

Of course, none of these things will happen.

And Chris Benoit, his wife, and his seven-year old son, will still be dead.


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June 25, 2007

I don't believe this...

It was announced today that Chris Benoit, long-time professional wrestler, and his family, were found dead in his home in Georgia... and unlike the "death" of Vince McMahon a few weeks ago, this isn't fake. Instead of RAW tonight, the WWE is showing a three-hour retrospectice of his career... and they've only done that a couple of times before.

Benoit started his real career in Japan's NJPW, under the name "Wild Pegasus". He won the Super J Cup, which brought the best non-heavyweight wrestlers throughout Japan together to find out who was the best.

Of course, it was pre-plotted, but he was put over such luminaries as Jushin Liger, Gedo, Black Tiger, and the Great Sasuki, which meant he was probably the best pro wrestler in the world at the time.

After that, he moved on to ECW here in the US, where he took the name "The Canadian Crippler", a nickname that stuck with him for the rest of his career. He teamed with Dean Malenko to win the ECW Tag-team Championship in 1995.

His next stop was WCW, where he joined the infamous Four Horsemen along with Ric Flair, Arn Anderson and Brian Pillman (who's death a few years back was one of the first WWE retrospectives). It was also at this time that he met his wife-to-be, Nancy... who was married to WCW's booker (the man who decides who would win or lose) and wrestler, Kevin Sullivan. They had both a real-life and an in-ring feud. Another memorable "high"light of his career was when he wrestled Bret Hart as a tribute to Hart's brother, Owen, who had died due to an equipment malfunction.

A year later, he jumped to the WWF with Perry Saturn, Dean Malenko and Eddie Guerrero, who died in 2005. This was a huge thing in professional wrestling circles, as it really spelled the beginning of the end of WCW. He won a tag-team championship with Chris Jericho (another NJPW alumnus). He missed a year due to a neck injury (2001-2002).

It was at WrestleMania XX that he won the single greatest match I have ever seen, however, when he finally became the WWE Heavyweight Championship in a 'triple-threat' match against Shawn Michaels and HHH. I saw WrestleMania XX at a Hooters, along with maybe 50 others, and when Benoit put the "crippler crossface" submission hold on HHH, the place went completely wild... and it got even louder when HHH tried to roll out of it, but Benoit kept the hold on somehow. When Triple-H tapped out, finally, I was not the only person yelling at the top of their lungs.
Benoit celebrates at WM XX
As a rule, I don't purchase DVDs from World Wrestling Entertainment, but that one, I bought the minute it was out. That match wound up being chosen by PWI (Pro Wrestling Illustrated, the most respected pro wrestling periodical out there, because it has NO ties to any of the companies anywhere) as the runaway winner of "Match of the Year" for 2004.

A few months later, I stopped watching pro wrestling (though I did occasionally download legendary matches from Japan), but the last show I really watched was right here in Duckburg... and I was in the audience when he was the surprise tag-team partner of Eugene. When his theme music hit, the crowd went absolutely berserk. I wasn't too far from the entry ramp, and I know he saw the "Wild Pegasus" sign I brought (I really was a wrestling geek), as he pointed at it as he came down.

And now, he's dead, and all we currently know is that the Atlanta police have said that 1) he wasn't shot, and 2) he called the WWE to tell them that he wouldn't be able to work on Monday because his family was ill and "they were spitting up blood", which is really creepy.

Benoit applies the Crossface.

I don't believe this.

UPDATE 1042pm: Fox News is reporting that Atlanta police are investigating the case as a murder/suicide, with Benoit killing his wife and son on Sunday, then himself on Monday. If this is the case, I can't imagine why.

UPDATE 1045pm: I gave it some thought, and for all you non-wrestling fans, here's something that'd cause Bernie Ecclestone to have a stroke: I'm going to compare recent WWE/F wrestlers to recent F1 drivers, by popularity.

Michael Schumacher would be Stone Cold Steve Austin... incredibly popular, despite some nasty tendencies.
Fernando Alonso would be The Rock... the 'face', almost as big as Schumacher.
Kimi Raikkonen would be The Undertaker... big name, big drawing power.
Felipe Massa would be Chris Benoit... the favorite of a certain group of fans (in Massa's case, the Ferrari tifosi. In Benoit's case, the 'smart' wrestling fan.)

ANOTHER UPDATE 1055pm: Mallory Mehling, the best wrestling writer out there (and the person who talked me into starting The Pond, way back when), writes for World Wrestling Insanity, where she reviews WWE RAW, the Monday night show. She's been kind enough to allow me to post her closing commentary for tonight's three-hour retrospective... click below to read. more...

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June 23, 2007

Apropos of apathy...

I haven't been feeling the joy of blogging recently, so I'm taking a semi-almost-kinda-break. To tide you over until I get back into it, here's a music video from way back when.

How to be a Millionaire by ABC.

Loved it then, love it now. Hard to believe it was 22 years ago...

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June 05, 2007

Midway Myths Debunked

Today, June 5th, is the 65th anniversary of one of the biggest victories in US Naval history, the Battle of Midway. LGF links to a post on the battle that, while well-written, brings out the usual myths of "The Miracle At Midway".

The story of Midway is well-known by now, thanks to numerous books and one feature film. Most of these books, and the movie, were mostly (if not entirely) based on American sources and a perishingly few translated Japanese "I was there" accounts that were never checked for accuracy.

Now that more researchers are able to read the raw Japanese data, such as the official War history of Japan (the Senshi Sosho), it's clear that much of what we "know" of the battle of Midway needs to be reevaluated.

Let's go over some of those myths, shall we?

1) "The near total destruction of the first wave of U.S. pilots and crew on board the "low and slow” torpedo bombers was not in vain; it alone made possible the exact conditions that allowed 50 U.S. dive bombers to send the Japanese armada to the bottom of the ocean minutes later."

2) "Four sitting duck Japanese carriers, without their protective shield of Zero fighter planes, with scores if not hundreds of Japanese planes sitting on the carrier decks, strewn with ordnance, fuel and crew..."

3) "The combined Japanese Alaskan and Midway forces, including those in support role, involved 200 ships, including 8 carriers, 11 battleships, 22 cruisers, 65 destroyers, 21 submarines and approximately 700 aircraft."

4)"A small Japanese carrier group first launched an attack on Alaska, intended to draw the U.S. Fleet out of Pearl..."

5)"The US Navy - outnumbered in carriers, ships, technology, planes and pilots - had achieved the greatest naval victory in modern history."

I'll discuss all of these below... read on, won't you?


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June 03, 2007

AirFest Sunday

The day began with lousy weather, and flip-flopped between lousy and great. It rained, there was blue sky, there was thunder... very weird.

All of which made me decide to stay inside for most of the day. But not for the Blue Angels, oh no. 320pm, I was out in the middle of the field.

There was almost no wind, and the sky was blue... over the airport. Where I was standing, though, it was dark, and further towards the east it was almost black. I figured that the Angels would fly their "low" show (yesterday was the "flat" show)... and I was right. Almost everything they did was higher today than yesterday. I heard them take off (from almost five miles away), and got ready...
...all all hell broke loose.
How a fighter jet can sneak up on you is entirely beyond me, but this one did... and he was on a speed run towards the airport. I'm actually happy to have gotten this picture, because he wasn't in sight very long.

Clicky for more! more...

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June 02, 2007

AirFest Saturday

Just like last year, I'm woken up by the hammering yowl of an 12-cylinder Merlin engine screaming by The Pond. There's nothing on earth that sounds like a P-51, in this case named Moonbeam McSwine... Al Capp would be proud.

After breakfast, I realize I'm out of duck chow and rye bread (it's like crack cocaine to us ducks), so I have to go to the grocery store... and, gee, there just happens to be one even CLOSER to the airport than The Pond. Of course, I never go there, but what the heck? I suppose just this once it'll be okay. Oh, and I'll take the camera, too... just, y'know, because...

Glad I did... as I get out of my car, these just happened by:
I'm STILL not sure who they are...

Given the number of photos still to come, click below to continue... I promise, they get better! more...

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Duck Dreams...

...of speed and power...

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June 01, 2007

It's AirFest Weekend!

One of the reasons I love where The Pond is located started today... The Duckford AirFest! It's based out of the Duckford Airport, which is about 3 miles from The Pond.

Usually, it's a small annoyance, since one of UPS' major hubs is located there, and their planes start taking off around 3am. I've gotten used to it, I'll admit, and it takes a particularly low takeoff for me to notice.

But then you have AirFest weekend... and The Pond is within the Performance Cylinder for the jets. Which leads to this:
F-15 Over Pond.

The Blue Angels are the main attraction this year. If their performance plan is anything like the one the Thunderbirds had last year, I should get some pretty darn good photos: the T-Birds were going very low, very slow, in formation, right over The Pond.

And if I'm feeling particularly brave, The Blue Angels will be joined by... The Blue Duck!

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