Montageman: A dude who writes

March 25, 2008

Wrestlemania 24 (or why I still love WWE)

Filed under: barthes, wwe — Tags: , , , — montageman @ 12:15 am

I don’t watch wrestling as much as I used to.  Years ago, it was virtually impossible to get a hold of me on a Monday night.  I was constantly flipping between WWE Monday Night Raw and WCW Nitro.  WCW has been defunct for years after being bought out by Vince McMahon and WWE.  There is no longer a “Monday night war,” rather WWE has Monday to itself so the sense of urgency has decreased tremendously and the quality of the show has thereby fallen as well.  There are moments, however, when I am glad that I still follow wrestling if only a little bit.

Tonight’s Raw was the last one before Wrestlemania 24 this Sunday.  Wrestlemania is the biggest pay-per-view event of the year for WWE, so tonight’s show was the last push, or advertisement, for Sunday’s big show (no pun intended).  I didn’t see all of the show tonight, but what I did see made me want to order Sunday’s show badly.  Roland Barthes in “The World of Wrestling” discusses wrestling as spectacle – a sport unlike any other in that the outcomes really do not matter.  “Wrestling is the sum of spectacles, of which no single one is a function: each moment imposes the total knowledge of a passion which rises erect and alone, without ever extending to the crowning moment of a result, (24)”.    Storylines are written, outcomes are fixed, and there is never any intention of damaging another’s body.  The audience is more interested in the build-up and is quick to forgive if their favorite wrestler loses because tomorrow will bring another challenger and more build-up.

Tonight’s build-up for the Ric Flair/Shawn Michaels “Career Threatening” Match was incredible.   After nearly 40 years in the business, Ric Flair’s career might come to an end on Sunday.  He “hand picked” Michaels for this match.  While they are friends and both are baby faces (good guys), Flair has told Michaels repeatedly to give him what he needs on Sunday.  Flair is and always has been one of the best interviews in the business, so his build-up is always fun to watch.  Tonight’s was a rundown of his historical significance and all of the legends he has feuded with and defeated – Randy Savage, Ricky Steamboat, Hulk Hogan, Terry Funk, Dusty Rhodes, Bruiser Brody, Sting – what matters most in these instances is not the result of the many matches fought, but rather the spectacle that led up to these matches.  The matches themselve are also important, since they are a pay off for the build up and the beginning of a new exposition, but all historically important matches take place within a particular contextual moment, not just on the fly.  Raw’s main event tonight was an 8-man tag match between Flair/Michaels/Cena/Triple H Vs Big Show/Orton/Umaga/JBL.  The end had Ric Flair force WWE Champion Randy Orton submit to the figure four.  An ideal way to lead into Sunday’s event – Flair showing strength and Orton showing weakness.  Even though the outcomes truly do not matter, it is important that these matches appear to be competitive.  Flair can beat Michaels – Randy Orton might lose his title.  But even if Michaels loses and Orton somehow wins, next Monday’s Raw might have build up leading to Michaels taking on Orton even though Michaels lost.


March 23, 2008

Found photo

Filed under: random — montageman @ 5:55 pm

This photo was sent to me via picture message on my phone last week.  I have no idea who these people are, but they look quite happy.   To think all it took was the mis-typing of 1 digit for this to be sent to me rather than the rightful recipient.   I love text messaging for this reason – I also love my phone book for the same reason.  I almost never send a text or picture via manual entry of a phone number.  I live by my phone book.  If my cell phone dies, communication will cease.  Weird – I used to have an incredible memory for phone numbers.  Now, I rely 100% on my phone.  Laziness has set in, I guess, or maybe I just need to remember more important things…


March 18, 2008

Super Smash Bros. Brawl

Filed under: videogames, wii — Tags: , , , , , — montageman @ 10:12 am

First of all, it is not normal for me to go out on the release date of anything to purchase or see it. I try to avoid opening nights of films, I’m not big on standing in line for something. The last time I waited in line was for the Wii a couple Christmases ago. The Smash Bros. franchise has been around since the days of Nintendo 64. A very easy game to pick up and play, Smash Bros is frenetic and has infinite replay value. I didn’t really play Smash Bros. for N64 much – I started playing Smash Bros. Melee on the Gamecube. Part of what I like best about Nintendo and their games is the small learning curve for initial enjoyment, meaning a novice can pick up just about any Nintendo game and play around for a few minutes to get the gist of what’s happening. For example, just from watching for a few minutes, my near 80 year old grandmother was able to play Wii Bowling with us. The ease of play is even better on the Wii due to the physical nature of the games. When limited physicality is imparted on these games i.e. actually swinging the Wii-mote to play Tennis or Golf, the learning curve switches from “you must hit A at just the right moment to hit the ball” to “it’s just like playing real tennis”. I use the limited qualifier because games like Dance Dance Revolution and Guitar Hero are actually much more complex given their use of total physicality along with their rhythm component.

Super Smash Bros. Brawl is excellent. An easy game to pick up and play as well as game rife with unlockable items (over 700 from what the dude at Gamestop told me) and game modes, Brawl has near infinite playability for single players as well as multi-players. Additionally, the game can be played online, but when we tried to play my brothers recently the game slowed down so much it was unplayable and we bailed on the idea. We haven’t tried again, but hopefully that will be fixed (or maybe it was a hardware issue on our side). We’ve played for roughly 6 hours thus far, so I have not experienced most of what the game has to offer. More to come as we work through the game.

March 4, 2008

Rock Band

Filed under: affect, play, videogames — Tags: , , , , , — montageman @ 2:17 am

I was given an Xbox 360 as a birthday present this year.  A wonderful gift, indeed, made even better because one of my brothers has let me borrow his copy of Rock Band with all of the accompanying instruments.  Essentially, Rock Band takes the Guitar Hero model of rhythm gaming further and adds drums and vocals.   What is great about these games (along with Dance Dance Revolution and the like) is there is an endless replay factor.  Even after you’ve scored 100% on a particular song, you can jump online and compete against an unlimited and ever growing number of players.  Furthermore, the game play of Rock Band does not require learning the Xbox controller scheme rather you must learn the guitar/drum/microphone scheme, which may be easier for those not familiar with controllers.  Similar to the Wii model of using the controller as a point of action, the player is actually doing the actions on screen.   Much different from games like Grand Theft Auto or Madden NFL 2008 where the player is using buttons to stand in for actions i.e. the A button shoots a gun or throws the football, Rock Band players are banging the drums, singing into the microphone, and strumming a guitar.  Thus engagement with the gamer is taken to a new level beyond the controller as representation – the A button is no longer the trigger.  Drum sticks are necessary to play Rock Band.   The importance of physical engagement in rhythm games complicates the relationship of the player to the controller and the game.

March 3, 2008

Starting over

Filed under: laila, random, traderjoes — Tags: , , , , , , , — montageman @ 10:06 am

As of this morning, I am a Trader Joe’s crew member.  I have been working at TJ’s for a about 6 weeks now, but have also been working at American Processing Company.  My weeks consisted of working from 7:30 AM to 4 PM at APC driving an hour to TJ’s and working 5 pm to 12 AM.  Yesterday was my first true day off in a couple of months.  I’m not complaining, mind you, but working 80 hour weeks is draining especially coupled with the commuting.  Now my commute will be 15 minutes instead of 45 minutes (sometimes 90 when there is snow on the ground or if 696 is being nasty).  I’ll have some mornings off, so I’ll see Heather and Laila more, which is wonderful.  I plan to read and write more.  We’ll see how everything pans out.

A few things that I’m currently loving:

  1. Garfield minus Garfield – the usually straightforward Garfield comic strip with Garfield (and Odie) taken out leaving Jon Arbuckle to work out his feelings of inadequacy on his own. As incredibly sad as Jon’s life is with Garfield and Odie present, it becomes psychotic (and more hilarious) with them absent.
  2. The Nasty Bits by Anthony Bourdain – hard to believe that this time last year I was totally annoyed by Bourdain’s arrogance on No Reservations.  I was much more interested in Andrew Zimmern’s Bizarre Foods (new season starts March 4!).  I still love Zimmern, but have a new found love for Bourdain.  His writing is accessible and spot on.  Bourdain’s TV personality is not arrogant as I first thought, but rather, he is very particular about his likes and dislikes and is vocal about it.  Last season’s visit to Ghana and Bourdain’s elation throughout is a perfect example of how great traveling the world can be.  That episode makes me want to travel to Africa.  Hell, I want to travel to most places Bourdain and Zimmern visit.
  3. Dark chocolate covered Joe-Joes – Trader Joe’s version of the Oreo cookie dipped in dark chocolate.  An all natural Oreo engulfed by artisan dark chocolate?  Could there be a more perfect food?  I doubt it, but at 150 calories & 8 grams of fat a piece, they are best to be enjoyed in moderation – like half of a cookie at a sitting.
  4.  Beer.  Haven’t had much recently, but nothing beats a pint of Two Hearted ale.  And I a couple bottles of Lagunitas that I’ll soon try.
  5. Stuff White People Like – totally engaging commentary on the lives of white folks.  Very funny and mostly very true.

There’s plenty of other stuff to go along with this small list – Haba toys, Bum Genius cloth diapers, really anything having to do with Laila and Heather, and being able to write more.

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