Monday, December 31, 2018

The Dive Bars of America: The Connection (South Boston, MA)

If you couldn’t tell by the title, this column is going to feature one of the many beautiful dive bars in and around Boston. I’m a purveyor of these places, as the dive bar is my preferred destination when rambling about town and taking in a few pops. So join us, won’t you, as we venture forth into this vast, delicious wilderness?

For these bars I’ll be writing about, I’ll be using a 5 category rating system which will be rated between 1 and 4 handlebar mustaches, which is the preferred mustache by 9 out of 10 old timers in dive bars.


THE CONNECTION
560 Dorchester Ave, South Boston, MA 02127 (you’ll most likely find it listed as the Sports Connection)
        

I must confess to leading off with a personal favorite of mine. I lived around the corner from this spot for about 5 years and this became the de facto base of operations for me and the morons I hang out with. It’s essentially a large room, with a rectangle shaped bar, a dance floor no one dances on, a kitchen no one uses, and women no one hits on.

Fun Factor:  There’s not much to do in this bar except sit and drink. There are two dartboards, a videogame machine, a jukebox and a buncha TVs all about the outlying areas and in the main bar section. That being said, there’s still plenty of fun to have in this joint. It’s the type of place to watch a game with loudmouths and sit there for hours. More than once I went to stop in for one or two beers, then BOOM its night time. Or I blacked out. Only the police know the true answer.


   
Cast of regulars:  The repeating clientele in this joint is PHEE-NOM-A-NOL. Unreal characters in this joint. There’s Mush Mouth, the belligerent drunk that speaks a language not of this Earth. Barney, a drunk man whose name we do not know, but looks just like Barney, the drunk man from the Simpsons. DAAAAAHLEEEEEEN (Darleen for non Southie speakers). And of course, Butter, the bartender. He’s like the sane doctor in this asylum. If you need to know which horse to bet in any given race, he’s your man.


Beer choices:  Not much happening in the beer dept. Tons of domestic choices, the usuals, Bud, Bud Light, Rolling Rock, etc. Drafts are limited as well, though the prices are dirt cheap, as they should be for a dive bar. $10 for a pitcher of Bud Light, & the house cheapo is a pint of PBR, which will set you back $2.


The History of NJPW WrestleKingdom (7-9)

Alright folks, this is where it really gets good.  The next four installments of WrestleKingdom are about as good as any four consecutive editions of any PPV I can recall.  I know that sounds hyperbolic but I'm being completely serious.  Read on.....


WrestleKingdom 7 - 1/4/13

What a splendid show this was.  From start to finish, WrestleKingdom 7 delivered at about the highest possible level, including an instant classic main event, an unexpectedly great IC match, and one of the best Triple Threats I've ever seen.  New Japan was in the midst of a wrestling renaissance, my friends.

The show started with an amusing opening match designed to ease the crowd into it: Akebono, Manabu Nakanishi, MVP and Strong Man vs. Chaos (Bob Sapp, Takashi Iizuka, Toru Yano and Yujiro Takahashi).  This had a lot of kinda goofy spots, like the babyfaces all hitting corner avalanches on all four heels.  I think they did that spot two or three times actually.  Anyway the match was inoffensive but felt like a throwaway.

The proper start to WK7 was Masato Tanaka vs. Shelton Benjamin for the NEVER Openweight Title, in what was pretty damn good for a six-minute match.  Four more minutes and this would've approached three-star territory.  Side note: Shelton should go back to being a babyface, as his style was much more exciting that way. 

Next up was KES (Davey Boy Smith jr & Lance Archer) vs. Sword & Guns (Hirooki Goto & Karl Anderson) in a surprisingly good Tag Title match.  I didn't think I'd be all that impressed with KES, but they've made a solid top team.  Seeing Karl Anderson as a babyface was pretty weird - he even wore light-colored gear.  This was full of action and fun tandem offense.

The first classic of the night was next, between Yuji Nagata and Minoru Suzuki.  This was their third WK match together, and this blew the other two out of the water.  Really hard-hitting action as usual but this match felt much bigger and got the time it needed.  Nagata finally got the win with the Backdrop Hold after some amazingly stiff wrestling.

Whammo!

The show stealer of WK7 was in the center of the card: Prince Devitt vs. Kota Ibushi vs. Low-Ki for the Jr. Heavyweight Title.  Just an amazing, amazing match, and seriously one of the best of its kind that I've ever seen.  These three managed to make a 3-way match flow totally smoothly, where it wasn't just two guys fighting while the other sold on the outside.  And when that did happen, the third guy would show up out of nowhere with an insane spot.  At multiple points, Wrestler A would hit a big move on Wrestler B, only for Wrestler C to immediately follow it up with some huge move on Wrestler A.  Just a breathtaking match you should go out of your way to see.  Low-Ki by the way was able to wrestle at this level while wearing a full suit (in tribute to the videogame Hitman), which is insane to me.

Friday, December 28, 2018

The History of NJPW WrestleKingdom (IV-VI)

Welcome to the second part of the Enuffa.com History of WrestleKingdom!  Moving right along....


WrestleKingdom IV - 1/4/10

Here at last is a WrestleKingdom show that's consistently entertaining and also has multiple 3.5-4 star matches.  The stars were beginning to align for New Japan, as the notable talents were falling into their respective current roles and spots on the card.  WK4 also featured a New Japan vs. Pro Wrestling NOAH rivalry, as four second-half matches comprised a card-within-a-card.

A quick six-man kicked things off, as Mitsuhide Hirasawa, Super Strong Machine and Wataru Inoue faced Jushin Thunder Liger, Kazuchika Okada and Koji Kanemoto.  This was an okay opener but far too short to amount to anything.  It was very weird seeing a 21-year-old Okada, who carried himself completely differently back then.  Brief but inoffensive.

The show picked up big with the second match, as Apollo 55 (Prince Devitt and Ryusuke Taguchi) defended the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight straps against Averno and Último Guerrero.  This was a highly entertaining Cruiserweight tag match, with Devitt in particular shining like the rising star he was, displaying spectacular offense and a great ring presence.  On a more streamlined card this match  would've been the hot opener.

The Heavyweight Tag Championship was next, as Team 3-D defended against No Limit (Tetsuya Naito and Yujiro) and Bad Intentions (Giant Bernard and Karl Anderson) with Hardcore rules.  A decent enough garbage match, and light years better than the previous year's Team 3-D bout.  No Limit and Karl Anderson brought enough workrate to compensate for the other three guys.  The hardcore stuff was very played out even in 2010 and they weren't doing anything groundbreaking.  Also the tables and chairs in Japan are pretty flimsy-looking so none of the big hardcore spots looked all that dangerous.  The whole "Get the tables!" bit clearly doesn't play in Japan, as the crowd was apathetic.  But this match was fine.

The 2018 Enuffa.com Pro Wrestling Year-End Awards

Welcome to Enuffa.com's 5th Annual Year-End Awards!  Hard to believe this website is already almost in kindergarten....


Like 2017, 2018 was a year of amazing highs and infuriating lows in the world of pro wrestling.  NJPW had just as spectacular a year as they did in 2017, with literally dozens of incredible matches, significant financial and global expansion, continued focus on creating new stars, one of the all-time great tournaments in the G1 Climax, and another IWGP Title match that got EVERYONE talking.  Narrowing down the five or ten best NJPW matches of the year is a tall order; there were so many ***** classics to choose from.  As we roll into 2019 the future continues to look very bright for the number-two promotion in the world, and they've led a non-WWE resurgence that's making it possible for talent to earn a living outside of Vince's umbrella.  Several of these stars have either turned down or intend to turn down WWE contracts in favor of launching their own new promotion that will presumably help New Japan gain even more North American fans.  We'll see how that pans out in 2019.  Also the NJPW-ROH Supercard booked for Madison Square Garden (WWE's home arena for decades) the night before WrestleMania sold out immediately (the first non-WWE show to accomplish this feat since before WWE existed), illustrating how hungry millions of fans are for something different in the North American market.  New Japan Pro Wrestling has been a beacon of hope for so many of us who are fed up with WWE's creative ineptitude, and they show no signs of letting up.

Speaking of said ineptitude, in 2018 Vince McMahon once again proved his seeming commitment to perpetuating a "worker bee" structure in his company, where no one gets over, no one is an attraction, and the WWE brand itself is what sells tickets.  No promoter with even a modicum of understanding of the business could take a roster exploding with talent like this one and actually get stars LESS over the longer they're on television.  Virtually every call-up from NXT (the one part of WWE programming that consistently works) has been immeasurably hurt by being on the main roster, and the few RAW and Smackdown stars who have managed to separate themselves from the pack have more or less lucked into it.  Between embarrassingly awful scripted promos, nonsensical storylines, 50-50 booking, and Vince's ever-shortening attention span, you're more likely to enjoy main roster PPVs if you avoid the weekly shows.  Ya know, the exact OPPOSITE of the way it's supposed to be?  Things started out very promising from January until WrestleMania, with stars like Nakamura and Asuka being built up as title challengers, Braun Strowman continuing to get over as a monster babyface, and Ronda Rousey being added to the mix.  Then at 'Mania the company went with baffling booking decisions and things went into a creative tailspin for months.  It were as though Vince's XFL commitments kept his focus off the product from the Royal Rumble until early April and he came back just in time to almost ruin WrestleMania.  Going into 2019 there are a few bright spots - the women's division currently boasts some of the most over stars in the entire company (their Evolution PPV in October was one of WWE's best offerings of the year), and Daniel Bryan (who miraculously came out of retirement in April) has reinvented himself as an asshole heel champion and actually gets to cut his own promos.  Smackdown has been on the upswing the past few months, while RAW is in the crapper, creatively and ratings-wise.  The company desperately needs to re-examine its approach or their programming won't be worth nearly as much in five years.

But enough blathering on - let's hand out some awards!


Thursday, December 27, 2018

Star Wars Trilogy - The Remake

This might just be the greatest remake in cinema history.  In 1993 my schoolmates and I decided to distill the original Star Wars trilogy down to its bare essence and focus on the growth of Luke Skywalker.  The result is a streamlined 20-minute version of this iconic series.  I really think we hit some notes that the original cast and crew missed.  But you be the judge.....

Top Ten Things: Iron Maiden Songs

Welcome to another Enuffa.com Top Ten Things, where I pick my ten favorite somethingorother and bug all of you about it.

Today it's my ten favorite Iron Maiden songs! 


One of the most influential metal bands of all time, Iron Maiden was formed in the mid-70s by bassist Steve Harris.  Over the first few years the band went through various incarnations, hiring and firing band members with a frequency that would make Spinal Tap cringe.  Finally in 1980 they released their self-titled debut album and immediately gained a strong UK following, in competition with the burgeoning punk scene.  Bands like Maiden, Diamondhead, Venom, Motorhead, and several others formed a musical zeitgeist called The New Wave of British Heavy Metal (which influenced literally dozens of bands here in the States).  Maiden was soon forced to sack lead singer Paul D'Anno due to his increasing drug issues, and his replacement was diminutive onstage firecracker Bruce Dickinson, who brought incredible vocal range/power and athletic physicality to the role of frontman.  Their third album The Number of the Beast was a No. 1 smash hit in the UK and propelled Iron Maiden to international stardom.  A slew of successful albums followed, containing scores of classic songs, until Dickinson left the band in 1993 to pursue a solo career.  His successor Blaze Bayley recorded two albums to a rather tepid reaction, and in 1999 Dickinson was coaxed back into the fold.


Over the past fifteen years Maiden has released five more albums and embarked on several hugely successful world tours, and they remain a chart-topping worldwide phenomenon.  Their music has evolved a bit over the years but they've always maintained their signature galloping energy and  literature-inspired lyrics.  Their onstage enthusiasm continues to defy the band members' advancing age, and they routinely deliver an amazing live concert experience.  A side note: historically just as mythical as the band's music are the album covers and other associated imagery.  For years artist Derek Riggs created some of the greatest cover art in music history, featuring the band's undead mascot Eddie the Head.  A few of my favorite Riggs pieces are the covers of Powerslave, Somewhere in Time, Seventh Son of a Seventh Son, and Live After Death.

But enough about that; here are my picks for the Top Ten Iron Maiden songs of all time.


**Note: While I like and appreciate some of their 21st Century work, for me the classic Maiden period was 1980-1992, so all ten picks fall into that timeframe.**



10. The Trooper


Probably the most noteworthy song on 1983's Piece of Mind (Dickinson's favorite album), "The Trooper" kicks off with a start and stop feel, over which Bruce barks a defiant battle cry ("You take my life but I'll take yours too/You fire your musket but I'll run you through").  The band then dives into charging pace as the wordless chorus takes over.  What other lasting metal tunes boast a refrain consisting of nothing more than "Oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh!"





9. The Prophecy


Yeah I know this is from "The Clairvoyant,"
but I couldn't find a "Prophecy"-specific piece of art.

The first of two entries from Seventh Son, "The Prophecy" opens with a gentle clean guitar arpeggio before exploding into a heavy triplet groove.  Dickinson regretfully howls out a warning message to an unnamed group of villagers of their impending doom, which then goes unheeded.  "The Prophecy" is simple but tremendously hooky, jumping from a minor key verse into a major key chorus.  I also love the baroque acoustic guitar outro.





8. Iron Maiden


The one non-Dickinson song on this list is the self-titled final track of the self-titled debut album.  An uncomplicated, nihilistic metal anthem, the lyrics of "Iron Maiden" dare the listener to partake in the graphic violence of the band's music, despite the music's oddly cheery tone.  This song is akin to Metallica's "Whiplash;" simply an ode to the brutality of metal.



Wednesday, December 26, 2018

The Dive Bars of America: Irish Pub Parking in Rear (Quincy, MA)

by Dan Moore
@SouthieDanimal

This column features one of many beautiful dive bars in America. I love these places. The dive bar is my preferred destination when rambling about town and taking in a few pops. So join us, won’t you, as we venture forth into this vast, delicious wilderness?

As usual, I’ll be using a 5 category rating system which will be rated between 1 and 4 handlebar mustaches, which is the preferred mustache by 9 out of 10 old timers in dive bars.


IRISH PUB PARKING IN REAR 
51 Billings Rd, Quincy, MA 02171
(It seems the official name of this place is just The Irish Pub, but that gigantic, glowing neon sign says otherwise, so I refer to it by it’s full, Christian name)



In the last year, I moved to the Quincy area. What that means is I’m stuck in, essentially, Chinatown Jr. There are an abundance of Sushi joints, businesses with chickens in the window & small people walking around holding pink plastic bags EVERYWHERE. It’s damn near impossible to find a good dive bar in the area. There was a great one called the Alumni Café, alas, it has gone the way of my sobriety, dead & gone forever…to be replaced by another Chinese restaurant. How novel.

Monday, December 24, 2018

The History of NJPW WrestleKingdom (I-III)

From the wrestling-fixated Enuffa.com creator, who brought you the comprehensive histories of WWE's Big Four PPVs (Royal Rumble, WrestleMania, SummerSlam, and Survivor Series) comes another PPV History series: New Japan Pro Wrestling's WrestleKingdom!


How's it hangin' folks?  Time for yet another Enuffa wrestling history lesson, this time about a major annual PPV that I only discovered a couple years ago.  When Jeff Jarrett's Global Force Wrestling announced they'd be distributing NJPW's WrestleKingdom 9 PPV in the States, and Jim Ross himself would be the play-by-play man, I immediately took notice.  I'd read some great things about New Japan even before this, and saw that over the past four years they've garnered loads of Wrestling Observer awards, but until January 2015 I hadn't seen a single NJPW match.  Then an even bigger announcement dropped: New Japan had created its own WWE Network-style streaming service, offering every major show since the company's 1972 inception all for the price of 999 yen per month (That's around nine bucks for American subscribers).  What this meant was that I'd be able to see WK9 as part of my subscription (alas, JR's commentary was not included, but that's ok).  I was quite impressed with WK9, particularly the consistency of its match quality from start to finish.  For a show mostly featuring talent I'd never seen before, and for which I had no context, this was pretty spectacular.  (Note: I watched WK9 again a few months later, now with the proper context, and....well you'll see my revised opinion in Part 3)  From there I started perusing the library, picking out matches and shows I'd read great things about, and in a matter of weeks I was hooked on New Japan Pro Wrestling.  As it stands now, I'm a bigger fan of NJPW than WWE.  New Japan's product is simple, elegant, athletic, realistic, and unbelievably fun to watch.

So this historical piece will be a little different than the WWE ones, in that I've been a WWE fan for nearly 30 years, while New Japan is still relatively new to me.  I've become quite familiar with the current roster, but I unfortunately won't have quite as strong a historical perspective to draw from.  So I'll be talking more about the quality of these WrestleKingdom shows in and of  themselves, and less about their place in the grand scheme.  But for those of you who aren't yet acquainted with New Japan, you may find this approach helpful.  Think of it as something of a beginner's guide, if you will.  As for you New Japan veteran fans, if I've missed any important details, feel free to comment below!

WrestleKingdom is New Japan's biggest show of the year, held annually on January 4th at the Tokyo Dome (I was surprised to learn that the date never changes, regardless of the weekday).  The Tokyo Dome Show tradition began in 1992 and the event has carried various names, but it wasn't until 2007 that the show was broadcast on PPV and given the WrestleKingdom moniker.  So I'll only be talking about the nine (thus far) PPV editions of this extravaganza.  Let's get to it!




WrestleKingdom - 1/4/07

Like WrestleMania, WK is typically a four-hour event.  Unlike WrestleMania, they're able to comfortably fit 9-11 matches on the card without criminally shortchanging anyone.  One thing (of several) New Japan does way better than WWE is time management. 

The inaugural WK card was sort of an odd mishmash, with only four singles matches on a card of nine.  Clearly they wanted to fit as many guys in as possible, but unfortunately it meant the first half of the show was a blur of multi-man tags.

The opener featured El Samurai, Masanobu Fuchi and Ryusuke Taguchi vs. Akira Raijin, Kikutaro and Nobutaka Araya.  It was basically a comedy match, with Kikutaro (who wears a bizarre pink mask based on the Japanese god of good fortune) complaining a lot and even getting punched and kicked by the ref.  Nothing memorable here.

Next up, current NJPW bookers Gedo and Jado took on Tokyo Gurentai (Mazada and Nosawa Rongai) in a match that saw Gurentai dominate the first half of the match, only to fall short in the second.  Not much of interest going on in this one either.

Great Bash Heel (Togi Makabe, Tomohiro Ishii and Toru Yano) were up next against former WWE midcarders D'Lo Brown, Buchanan and Travis Tomko.  This was the first match where I was familiar with everyone.  Buchanan still moved well in 2007 but looked pretty out of shape compared to his 2000 WWF run.  Despite this match being eight years ago, Yano and Makabe looked almost exactly the same.  Ishii not so much, as he sported more colorful gear and a weird-looking tuft of hair on top of his head.  If I didn't know he was in this match I wouldn't have recognized him at all (He wasn't given much to do anyway).  This match was ok and didn't overstay its welcome, but was also totally forgettable.

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Girls Night In #2: Love Actually (2003)

It's Christmastime and that means our friend Shannon drops by to talk about the beloved Christmas romcom Love Actually (which Kelly and Shannon love but Justin doesn't so much....).  Sit back, crack open some beverages, and enjoy!  Don't forget to Subscribe!





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Friday, December 21, 2018

Awesomely Shitty Movies: The Fifth Element

Welcome back to Enuffa.com, and welcome to yet another edition of Awesomely Shitty Movies, where I suck all the enjoyment out of one of America's most beloved popcorn films and demonstrate why I don't get invited to parties anymore.

Today I'll be dissecting Luc Besson's 1997 sci-fi epic The Fifth Element - a richly visual, futuristic action vehicle, starring Bruce Willis, Gary Oldman, Ian Holm and Milla Jovovich.  This film was released at the start of the 1997 summer movie season, and while not a success in the United States, made a killing overseas.  The story centers around a battle of good vs. evil, life vs. death, as a cosmic force threatens the existence of all life in the universe unless the five elements are assembled to stop it.  Caught up in the middle of this war is Korben Dallas, a former special forces officer now driving a cab for a living.  Dallas is recruited to deliver "the fifth element" - a supreme being in the guise of a young woman named Leeloo - to an alien in possession of four stones representing the other four elements, so they may be used to save the universe.


This is a pretty goofy premise if I'm being honest, and were it not for Luc Besson's gleeful abandon and quite obvious love for the project (plus several other factors), this film would likely belong in a compost heap.

But let's examine the reasons this movie is actually quite delightful, and then we'll talk about what could've been improved.


The Awesome

Casting

What first attracted me to this film, and what immediately sets it apart from its B-movie schlock brethren, is its first-rate cast.  Bruce Willis is typecast but perfect as the reluctant everyman hero Korben Dallas, whose life as a cabby seems unbecoming of a former decorated soldier.  Dallas lives a lonely existence in a shoebox apartment with only his cat for companionship.  In Leeloo he sees a chance for redemption and a sense of purpose.  Milla Jovovich is quirky, often goofy, but also quite touching in the role of Leeloo.  Despite being a superpowered alien she projects vulnerability and makes us identify with and care about this strange person.  Ian Holm improves every film he's in, and his turn as Vito Cornelius is no exception.  Cornelius is the priest entrusted with being the caretaker of the five elements, and Holm's performance brings instant credibility to the project, much as Alec Guinness did for Star Wars.  And last but certainly not least, Gary Oldman once again steals the show as the villainous, slimy weapons dealer Zorg, who is also after the elemental stones.  Boasting a southern accent and oversized front teeth, Oldman is almost unrecognizable as this craven but charismatic scoundrel.

Thursday, December 20, 2018

The Dive Bars of America: Sully's Sand Trap (North Weymouth, MA)

by Dan Moore
@SouthieDanimal

This column features some of the greatest and grossest dive bars in the U.S. of A. I’ll be using a 5-category rating system between 1 and 4 handlebar mustaches, which is the preferred mustache by 9 out of 10 old timers in dive bars.

Sully’s Sand Trap 
327 Bridge St
North Weymouth, MA 02191


It looks and smells like a coffin.

Holy SHIT what a fantastic dive this place is. Sully’s is a legit box. You walk in, there’s a bar, there’s NO SEATS and then some booths. It’s a square room to get hammered in. there’s like two windows, but they’re pointless, as the neon Budweiser signs block all natural light that may enter this hole. This should be the picture in the dictionary for a dive bar. It’s marvelous in its simplicity. Let’s get right to it.

And that’s my big fat head taking a pic of the inside
of this glorious watering hole. 



FUN FACTOR

Drinking is fun. And that’s all ya got here. There’s a table with a cribbage board built into it, but they lost the pieces years ago. So if you don’t wanna have fun drinking, then this isn’t the place for you. But if hurting your liver with insane amounts of alcohol is cool, COME ON DOWN

ONE OUT OF FOUR


Top Ten Things: Third Albums

Welcome to another edition of Top Ten Things here at Enuffa.com, the website Facebook doesn't want you to look at!  Giving away users' private information is cool, but don't share links from this trifle of a website concerning fake fighting and movies; that my friends is a bridge too far.  God, Facebook blows....

Okay, enough shade-throwing.  Today I'm here to talk about Third Albums.  You may recall my lists about debut albums and second albums (I'll wait while you check those out), and today I'm continuing that theme.

There are so many bands I either became aware of with their third record, or who for me found their voice on said third record.  I find most great bands peak somewhere in the three-to-five-album phase, as they separate themselves from their influences and form their own style.  In some cases this creative breakthrough coincides with a major label signing, allowing the artists to freely explore their sound and songwriting without budgetary constraints, but sometimes it's simply a maturing process.  Anyway, here are my ten favorite "third" albums (with a handful of Honorable Mentions)....



Honorable Mentions 

The Police - Zenyatta Mondatta
Key Tracks: "Don't Stand So Close to Me," "Bombs Away," "Shadows in the Rain"

Anthrax - Among the Living
Key Tracks: "Among the Living," "Caught in a Mosh," "I Am the Law"

Slayer - Reign in Blood
Key Tracks: "Angel of Death," "Necrophobic," "Raining Blood"

Faith No More - The Real Thing
Key Tracks: "Epic," "Falling to Pieces," "The Real Thing"

Corrosion of Conformity - Blind
Key Tracks: "Damned for All Time," "Dance of the Dead," "Vote With a Bullet"

Mastodon - Blood Mountain
Key Tracks: "The Wolf is Loose," "Bladecatcher," "This Mortal Soil"

Haken - The Mountain
Key Tracks: "Falling Back to Earth," "Pareidolia," "Somebody"





10. The Beatles - A Hard Day's Night


In 1964 The Beatles had conquered both the UK and the US, becoming such pop culture icons they were tapped to star in a feature film.  Directed by Richard Lester, A Hard Day's Night starred the Fab Four as themselves, in a "day in the life" kind of story.  The soundtrack album featured numerous classic early Beatles songs, like the energetic title track, the bittersweet "If I Fell," the instantly catchy "I Should've Known Better," the bluesy "You Can't Do That," and the morose "Things We Said Today."  A Hard Day's Night followed up The Beatles' first two pop albums with slightly more mature content and showed a band beginning to experiment with their signature sound and broaden their musical range.

Key Tracks: "And I Love Her," "You Can't Do That," "Things We Said Today"






9. Slipknot - Vol. 3: The Subliminal Verses


I cared not one whit about this nine-piece extreme metal outfit from Iowa until their third album.  Produced by Rick Rubin, The Subliminal Verses saw the band temper their insanely aggressive style a bit and throw in some melody, making for a much more interesting set of songs.  The band's trademark brutality is still there, but frontman Corey Taylor, weary of "all screaming all the time," actually does some singing to make each chorus stand out from the others, and they've even thrown in a bit of acoustic guitar and vocal harmonies into the mix.  When I bought TSV it stayed in my car CD player for weeks and I listened to it on a loop.  The single "Duality" instantly caught my attention with its sinister chorus hook, but the tragic-sounding "Vermillion part 1" is for me the band's greatest song.  This record is still Slipknot's apex.

Key Tracks: "Duality," "Vermillion part 1," "Before I Forget"



Wednesday, December 19, 2018

The Dive Bars of America: Stage Door Casino (Las Vegas, NV)

Stage Door Casino
4000 Audrie St.
Las Vegas, NV 89109

Welcome to a special Dive Bar Review, well outside my safety zone of New England. I'll be using a different rating system instead of the standard handlebar mustache for this special review.


The glitz and glamour of Las Vegas is a unique splendor. Ordinarily when you think of Sin City, you think of this majestic view:



You typically wouldn't think of this lovely spot, hidden on a side street on the strip in between the Flamingo and Bally's:

Top Ten Things: He-Man Action Figures

Welcome to another edition of Top Ten Things, here at Enuffa.com!  I hope you're ready for some serious nerd nostalgia, because thanks to the fantastic new Netflix series The Toys That Made Us, I have 1980s action figures on the brain.


One episode of said TV series focused on the wonderful 80s toy line known as He-Man and the Masters of the Universe.  Anyone who grew up in that era remembers these larger-than-life figures with impossible musculatures, colorful appearances, pun-driven names, and bizarre quirks/powers.  The first time I saw the original He-Man commercial my brain almost exploded.  These figures looked nothing like any other action figures available at the time.  The characters were so vibrant and otherworldly you couldn't take your eyes off them.  Mattel hit one out of the park with this toy line, scoring record-breaking numbers four or five years in a row, and consistently introducing new series of memorable characters year after year.  A side note: this toy line introduced me to the concept of recycled molds.  Pretty much every figure had the exact same torso mold and initially there were only three sets of arms and legs.  Even as a seven-year-old I noticed this.  But it didn't matter, these toys fucking rocked my nuts off.  A syndicated tie-in cartoon show proved invaluable for selling MOTU figures and for a little while He-Man ruled the action figure market, spawning numerous ripoff lines, my favorite of which were the Remco figures based on obscure DC Comics characters like Warlord and Arak (They even had a disclaimer on the package: For Use with Masters of the Universe action figures).  Personally I wish they'd re-release the original MOTU figures (like they did in 2001) because I'd scoop a bunch of 'em up again.  For my son to play with.  Yeah, that's it.....

Note: Once I got really into wrestling, the He-Man line doubled as my wrestling toys, since they were the perfect size for the WWF toy ring.  Shut up, you did it too....

But which characters were my favorites?  Which of these silly fantasy barbarian toys have stuck with me three-plus decades later?  Let's take a look.....




10. King Hiss


This absurdly over-the-top figure was like He-Man meets Transformers, and the leader of The Snake Men or whatever they were called (an older character named Kobra Khan joined up with this villainous stable as well, like in a pro wrestling angle).  King Hiss looked like a human wearing snake-like armor, but pop off his arm and torso coverings, and GAAAAH, HE'S LITERALLY A GODDAMN SNAKE-MAN!!!  His actual upper body was comprised entirely of snakes (oddly his legs were still humanoid though), creepy enough to unnerve even his fellow bad guys.  I spent so much time transforming this guy from man to snake-man and it was a fairly ingenious gimmick.





9. Faker


On paper this has to be the stupidest toy ever.  An evil robot that's supposed to be a dead ringer for He-Man, except he has blue skin, Skeletor-style armor, and a visible tape recorder in his chest (courtesy of a sticker).  The idea is that Skeletor built this droid to infiltrate the good guy lair and pimp He-Man's friends for information.  Skeletor must think Team He-Man are either legally blind or just absolute fucking morons.  Who would fall for this trap??  "Whoa, He-Man, you're looking a little pekid, maybe have a nice lie down and some soup?  By the way, here are those Grayskull blueprints you asked for...."  Added to that, Faker was an appallingly flagrant cannibalization of an existing toy, just to sell more toys.  You gotta marvel at Mattel's balls, man.  Regardless of how illogical this character was, the toy looked awesome.





8. Mer-Man/Stinkor


Speaking of blatant mold recycling, in 1984 Mattel took one of the original characters, Mer-Man, painted him black & white, doused him in some kinda putrid-smelling chemical, and repackaged him as a skunk-like character named Stinkor.  Nevermind that a skunk-man wouldn't have webbed feet or fin-like ears, this guy looked boss.  And his armor covered his nose and mouth, implying he smelled so bad even HE couldn't stand it!  I loved the black, white, red and orange color scheme, and the stinky gimmick was brilliant.  Think about it - Mattel got us to buy an action figure that smelled like a goddamn skunk.  Either we're all suckers or Mattel are a buncha Jedi Masters who can bend everyone to their will.  The smell eventually wore off, but Stinkor remained one of my all-time favorite characters.


As for Mer-Man, this mold was much more appropriate for an undersea creature, and his scaly armor looked killer.  It did always bug me that his face looked nothing like the cartoon, comics or even the picture on the back of the packaging!  Also they originally were going to call him Sea Man, but changed it for obvious reasons.  Can you imagine one of the heroes saying "Oh no!  Sea Man is all over our base!  Why is Sea Man so hard to get our hands on?   I feel all slimy now that I've touched Sea Man!"



Tuesday, December 18, 2018

The Dive Bars of America: The Frog Bar (Ocean City, MD)

I've been branching out lately in my dive bar consumption, so it makes sense to review the best I've been to in America. I returned from Ocean City, Maryland this week and hit many, many great bars. They all have happy hours at different times of the day and some even do happy hour ALL day. It's a booze Mecca!!!

See that bar right there? I drank there.


Before I delve into the top dive bar, here's some other bars that need a mention:

1) Mother's Cantina 2810 Philadelphia Ave: Legit, the BEST Mexican food I've ever had. The double decker tacos are outrageously good as is their queso dip. I never miss this place when I visit.

2) Seacrets 117 49th Street: The closest you'll get to island living in this awesome beach community. It's pure bedlam in this massive party complex and a cool place to try to stay sober all day (not possible).

Ten Christmas Gifts That Changed My Life

What's up folks?  Well it's Christmastime, and that means hanging lights, trimming trees, and buying presents for your loved ones so they can promptly return 'em to the store on the 26th.  But this time of year always triggers childhood memories of how magical it all used to be.  The seemingly endless suspense of wondering what cool shit your parents Santa was gonna leave you, the seemingly endless get-togethers with the extended family on Christmas Day, while you're bored shitless just waiting to get back to all your new toys, the seemingly instantaneous week off from school before that sad, lonely return on January 2nd, when you and your school friends compared Christmas toy hauls.


And speaking of Christmas toys, I got to thinking, what were my favorite gifts over the years?  Which December 25th surprises made my big toe shoot up in my boot, as Little Richard would say?  Well lemme take you back to a simpler time.....




1978: Muppet Drum Kit


My big Christmas gift at age three was a toy drum set with pictures of the Muppet Show band Dr. Teeth on it.  I fell in love with this stupid kit instantly, and while I never actually learned to play the drums, I had a grand ol' time beating the crap outta those skins.  It outlived its novelty and usefulness within a couple years, but this was the fist major gift I ever remember getting.  For me it's what set the tone for this massive December festival so many of us hold dear.





1982: Atari 2600


I imagine my household was one of millions that got this console for Christmas around this time.  Our big family gift in 1982 was the legendary Atari 2600, which came with the incredibly diverse Combat (featuring tank battles, airplane battles, boat battles, and any other 4-bit vehicles you could blow up real good), but my parents also picked up Asteroids, Surround (which I loved because it was essentially Tron's "light cycle" sequence), and Video Olympics (a massive collection of sports games that utilized the "paddle" controllers), plus a couple other games I can't recall at the moment.  This console became our very lives for a few years, and the whole family enjoyed it.  Everyone who was anyone in the early 80s had one of these damn things, and the game cartridges were plentiful.  By 1985 we had probably 30 games, and it wasn't until '86/'87 that another game console had taken its place in America's heart....





1982: Castle Grayskull


My other big gift in '82 was this classic He-Man playset, a badass-looking castle with a ton of accessories but in retrospect, very little playability (A castle with only two floors?  And an elevator??  And a laser cannon???  The hell sense does that make?).  But at age 7 I didn't care, this thing was fuckin' fantastic.  I had a handful of the figures by this point and played with this castle like it was my job.  A few years later Snake Mountain followed and now I had lairs for both the heroes and villains.  Now that I think about it, who exactly was supposed to live in Castle Grayskull?  Was it He-Man's house?  I dunno.

Seriously, why would an ancient castle have an elevator??


Monday, December 17, 2018

Top Ten Things: December PPV Matches

Welcome to another December-themed Top Ten Things, here at Enuffa.com!

Today I'll be talking about my ten favorite December PPV matches.  Aside from WCW's Starrcade, December has generally been a month for B-level PPVs and few Match of the Year candidates.  But there have most definitely been exceptions, both from WWE and other promotions.  One match I really would've liked to include in this list is Ric Flair & Barry Windham vs. The Midnight Express from Clash of the Champions IV.  But that wasn't a PPV, it was a special TV event, so I had to leave it out.  Anyway, here's my top ten December PPV matches of all time.





10. Steve Austin vs. Kurt Angle - WWF Vengeance  - 12.9.01


The first of the WWF/WCW Title Unification semi-final bouts, this pitted WWF Champ Austin against arch-nemesis Kurt Angle, in a repeat of their SummerSlam and Unforgiven 2001 battles.  This time though, Austin was back to being the top babyface and Angle was the heel.  There wasn't anything fancy about this, it was just an excellently-worked old-school wrestling match.  While not at the level of their amazing SummerSlam bout, Austin and Angle nontheless put on a helluva show, culminating in Austin reversing a Stunner attempt and countering with his own to retain the strap and advance to the Finals.





9. CM Punk vs. Alberto Del Rio vs. The Miz - WWE TLC - 12.18.11


CM Punk's first PPV defense in his 434-day WWE Title run may have been against two less-than-threatening opponents (Miz especially was coming off a two-month burial), but that didn't take away from this exciting TLC match.  All three men worked hard to make this innovative and unpredictable.  Punk was handcuffed to a ladder and later to one of the turnbuckles, creating suspense about how he'd get out of this one with his Title intact.  Punk got to play the role of "smart babyface" (which sadly doesn't happen often) and after unscrewing one of the ring ropes, he GTSed Miz on his way to victory.




8. Chris Benoit vs. Eddie Guerrero - WWE Armageddon - 12.15.02


During the Smackdown Six Era, the two most accomplished former Radicalz met at Armageddon in a no-frills, old-fashioned wrestling match that stole the show.  Benoit and Guerrero had wrestled each other dozens of times in the past, and this fit right into their considerable catalog.  While slightly marred by Chavo's unsuccessful interference attempts and a couple of early miscues, this was still a fine bout with a suspenseful submission finish.


WWE TLC 2018: Smackdown Saves the Show

Well despite WWE's creative process being in shambles these days, and despite RAW pulling in historic low ratings as a result, TLC 2018 was a very solid show overall.  Three of the four big matches delivered, a few of the undercard bouts were fun, and there wasn't one baffling booking decision all night.  By WWE's standards these days I'd call that a pretty unmitigated success.

God I love this woman...

The cruiserweight match and the Guitar on a Ladder match got bumped to the pre-show (I'd have swapped the Mixed Match Challenge and the CW match), so the proper PPV began with the Mixed Match finals.  This was a total nothing match that barely registered in my brain.  But it was short and I guess fairly inoffensive.  R-Truth and Carmella won, which means they get a vacation of their choice (Truth signed them up for a trip to WWE headquarters for some reason, so get ready for some dumb sketch comedy), and they get to enter their respective Royal Rumbles at #30.  I guarantee Truth tries to enter the Women's Rumble by mistake and thus doesn't participate in the Men's Rumble at all, allowing the company to put someone else in that spot.  Pointless end to a pointless tournament.  *

Next up was a very entertaining 3-way tag match, with The Bar defending against The Usos and The New Day.  The Smackdown tag division has some fine talents atop it.  RAW's not so much.  This was energetic, non-stop action as expected, with everyone working hard.  After a flurry of false finishes, Sheamus made a blind tag and hit Xavier Woods with a quick Brogue Kick to retain the belts.  Solid stuff here.  ***


The match I was most dreading went on third and was mercifully just an angle.  Baron Corbin came out and announced that if Braun Strowman didn't show up by the count of ten (Heath Slater was the assigned official), that the match would go to Corbin by forfeit.  Strowman of course came out, took a mic, and pointed out that since TLC matches have no disqualification, he would be allowed help.  Apollo Crews, Gable & Roode, and Finn Balor showed up with chairs, and Heath Slater took off his referee shirt, and they all took turns waffling Corbin.  Strowman then put a foot on Corbin's chest and Slater counted the three.  Thus Corbin is gone as RAW GM (Thank Christ), and Strowman has earned a title shot against Brock Lesnar at the Rumble.  This was probably the best way to execute what would've been a stinker of a match.  NR

Friday, December 14, 2018

The Dive Bars of America: The Harbor Inn (Ocean City, MD)

by Dan Moore
@SouthieDanimal

Back with another edition of The Dive Bars of the Good Ol’ U.S. of A. I’ve got a 5-category rating system between 1 and 4 handlebar mustaches, which is the preferred mustache by 9 out of 10 old timers in dive bars.

Harbor Inn
216 Somerset St
Ocean City, MD 21842


Being from Boston, I miss out on a lot of things offered in bars outside of Massachusetts. We have no happy hour here, and it’s essentially ruined my life. Oh sure, I can go out and buy a bottle of Bud Light for $6.25 but how am I supposed to get messed up off three beers? (Here’s a secret: Ludes). Therefore, I am forced to venture elsewhere to find happy hours, and on my most recent trip to OC, I stumbled upon this gem of a bar down by the waterfront. The Harbor Inn is a rectangular room with a misshapen floor, a ceiling that’s far too low, and patrons with nary a full set of teeth among them. So, it’s heaven.


Fun Factor: There’s enough to do here that doesn’t involve drinking. There’s a pool table, a touchscreen game and TVs for your sports-watching. Why you would waste your time with any of that when there’s GALLONS of cheap booze hanging out is beyond me. Get your priorities in line, young man.



Cast of Regulars:. This is what you’d call a "Locals Bar." It’s like Cheers, but with more alcoholics. And the locals, at first, don’t take to kindly to strangers. I walked in and you could hear that record scratch. They looked at me like I had shit dripping out of my ears. But then, a patron by the juke box cracked a somewhat suggestive joke, I laughed, and I became one of the gang. By the time I left, I had heard some new and very colorful vulgarities being spewed from the drunken mouths of all my new friends. It was a pleasure.



Thursday, December 13, 2018

WWE TLC 2018 Preview & Predictions

Welcome to the final 2018 PPV Predictions column here at Enuffa.com!  This Sunday is Tables, Ladders and Chairs, and it's a loaded lineup to say the least.  Let's get to it!


I'm not sure how they think they're fitting 12 matches onto this show, but I'm assuming 2-3 of them will be bumped to the pre-show.  That said, about half this lineup looks pretty great, and three of the matches are important enough to main event the show.  There's definitely some filler as well, but if they don't screw it up this should be a good show with some potential main roster MOTYCs.

On to the predictions!

***Dan is back in the lead with a stellar 7/8 Survivor Series showing.  He's at 68% (67/99), I'm behind by one pick with 67% (66/99), and Dave and Landon are tied for third with 65% (64/99).  This race continues to be a nailbiter!***



Mixed Match Finals: R-Truth & Carmella vs. Jinder Mahal & Alicia Fox


What a pointless tournament this was.  Can you imagine a tournament that originally included AJ, Charlotte, Braun, Asuka, Miz, and Finn, that ends up with this as the Final?  Why even include anyone of consequence in this tournament if they're just gonna be subbed out anyway?  So the winners here get the #30 slot in their respective Royal Rumbles next month.  Which means #30 isn't winning either Rumble match.  Whoever draws that number in our house pool can go ahead and eat it, shit it out, and then pee on it.  This match has to be on the pre-show, right?

Justin: I guess Truth and Carmella?  Though I do love Jinder/Alicia's tag team name: Mahalicia!
Dan: Mahal has to win and then when he runs in at 30 be immediately eliminated from the Rumble. BOOK IT.
Landon: Fuck you all, Truth and Carmella
Dave: Truth & Carmella but does anyone care?





Tables Match: Natalya vs. Ruby Riott


Ah, the feud over sunglasses that needlessly exploited the death of Nattie's father.  What a classy organization Vince runs.  A carny to the end.  The action should be decent but I don't care about this feud.  Or tables matches really.  Another pre-show candidate I'd say.

Justin: Nattie wins to put this to bed
Dan: RIOTT SQUAD FOR LIFE
Landon: Natalya
Dave: Nattie





Cruiserweight Championship: Buddy Murphy vs. Cedric Alexander


Murphy's a helluva hand, as is Cedric.  This should be a fine match, even though, again, I don't care much about this division.

Justin: Murphy retains
Dan: Buddy Buddy Mitchell
Landon: Murphy retains
Dave: Heh, Buddy Murphy (winner)


Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Dan's Top 9: Christmas Movies/TV Shows

This list is in response to Jingles' ri-GODDAMN-diculous list from the other day. There are no parameters here. Anything that’s been in the movies or on TV that has burned some piece of it into your eyeholes is allowed. Because this is America. Also, Just Friends will be nowhere near this list because FOR FUCKSAKE it’s Just Friends. Neither will It's a Wonderful Life because I’m not 92.  (JB Note: I'm still not sure why my picks bother you so much, but whatever-the-fuck-ever.)



9. The Muppet Christmas Carol

Kermit and the gang’s version of Charles Dickens classic is goddamn HILARIOUS. Filled with very adult-themed jokes (the first ghosts are Jacob & Robert Marley...think about it), a few decent original songs and a fine turn as Scrooge for Michael Caine. Featuring all your favorite Muppet characters, this one’s a keeper.



8. How The Grinch Stole Christmas

A true television classic, The Grinch is a must watch each Christmas. Excellent animation by the master Chuck Jones and beautifully narrated by Boris Karloff, this one also contains the great song “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch”, sung by Tony the Tiger himself, Thurl Ravenscroft. The Grinch is a personal favorite of mine as every year when I was a kid, my Nana would read the book to me and my brother and sister on Christmas Eve. The cartoon is great, but I think Nana did the voices better.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Top Ten Things: Ladder Matches

Welcome to another Top Ten Things, here at Enuffa.com, where I count down the ten best or worst things I'm thinking about!

What's on my mind this week?  Why it's the Ladder Match, which was created in the late 1970s in Stu Hart's Stampede Wrestling, brought to the WWF by Bret Hart in 1992, and revolutionized by Shawn Michaels at WrestleMania X.  Since then the Ladder Match has been a perennial stuntfest utilized to crown Champions, elevate new stars, and test the limits to which a wrestler can push his body.  For the purposes of this piece I'm disqualifying TLC matches since they technically aren't the same thing, and there would be way too many of them on this list.  I'm also eschewing the Money in the Bank match, as most of those kinda blur together for me now.  There's very little else that can be done with the multi-man Ladder Match, sadly.  Might be time to put a moratorium on those for now.  Anyway, these are the ten best standard Ladder Matches, in my opinion.



10. The Rock vs. Triple H - SummerSlam - 8.30.98

 



After the template had been set in 1994, The Rock and Triple H attempted to redefine this gimmick match as more of a no-nonsense brawl that happened to feature a climbing implement.  These two rising stars would feud on and off for the next two years, but this is the match that really catapulted both to the next level.  While not a gasp-inducing spotfest like the two HBK-Razor matches, this one featured gritty, hard-hitting action, some outside interference, and a nuclear crowd who cheered for the heel Rock just as much as for the babyface Triple H.  In fact this match led to a brief face turn for Rocky, before he swerved everyone and joined Mr. McMahon's Corporation.




9. London & Kendrick vs. MNM vs. Hardy Boyz vs. Regal & Taylor - Armageddon - 12.17.06
  

This multi-car pileup of a wrestling match was probably the closest the company would ever come again to the TLC series from 2000-01.  Three of the teams involved were known for high-flying antics, while the fourth was comprised of two down and dirty ground grapplers.  The only word to describe this match is "chaos."  But in a good way.  This one will always be remembered as "That time Joey Mercury lost his face."  An errant see-saw ladder spot resulted in Mercury's nose exploding, leaving pools of blood all over the ring.  Just brutal.  But even outside of that unfortunate occurrence, this was a helluva match.